3,000 Copenhagen kids get listeria-infested food

As many as 3,000 school children in 40 schools throughout Copenhagen were served listeria-infected food, city officials have warned.

tzatzikiIn a letter to parents, the City of Copenhagen said that listeria was found in tzatziki served to school kids as part of a public-run lunch program. 

 “We are writing to you because your child has eaten EAT [the name of the school food programme, ed.] on Tuesday, November 11th and it has now been found that there was listeria in the tzatziki,” the letter reads, according to broadcaster DR. 

 The EAT programme delivers lunch to 40 different schools and the infected tzatziki was one of two lunch options offered on November 11th. According to a city official, around 3,000 of the up to 5,000 children who get their meals from the programme are through to have chosen the infected dish. 

 “We are clearly taking this very seriously, and are currently following all of the recommendations from Fødevarestyrelsen [the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration, ed.] in order to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Lina Maria Johnsson, the head of the city’s health department, told DR. 

 It is uncertain if the listeria stems from the cucumber, garlic or yoghurt used in the tzatziki, or from unhygienic conditions at EAT’s kitchens.

Denmark has seen numerous listeria outbreaks this year. The most serious of which, an outbreak that was traced to the deli meat rullepølse, has killed 17. In another incident, listeria in a soup served at two public hospitals killed three

Beef balls recalled for Listeria

Nha Trang Deli Inc. is recalling Beef Balls from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

beef.balls.listeriaThis recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Australian importer fined $25K for not testing imported ham

An importer has been fined $25,000 for failing to test 2241 kg Parma ham imported from Italy in 2011.

parma.hamPaqualino Licastro, owner of Perth import company Topas Pty Ltd, was fined $3000 while the company was fined $22,000.

After breaching its import permit, the company then failed to act on a directive from the Department of Agriculture to move the ham to a cold-store facility. The department ordered that the ham be held pending sampling and testing for Staphylococcus, Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella before it could be sold or distributed.

Had the imported ham introduced foot-and-mouth disease into Australia, it could potentially cost more than $50 billion over 10 years, the department estimates.

41 sick including 17 deaths in Denmark’s listeria outbreak

Almost three months after the confirmation of a listeria outbreak that has claimed a total of 17 lives, another new patient has been infected.

rullepølseThe listeria outbreak that began in August is not fully contained yet. 

The Danish State Serum Institute (SSI) said on Thursday that a new case of listeria infection traced to the original outbreak has been found. 

With the new patient, the total number of infected individuals increases to 41. Of those, 17 have died. 

The outbreak has been traced to the deli meat rullepølse produced by the company Jørn A. Rullepølser, which has been shut down. 

A total of 30 products – including variations of rullepølse, salami and hot dogs – were recalled.

SSI said that there have been an additional 38 cases of listeria infection not connected to the rullepølse outbreak. In late September, three people died from listeria in an asparagus soup served at Odense University Hospital. 

2 dead, 3 sick from Listeria; sprouts strike again

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection:

  • CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any products produced by Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. Restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve them.
  • AA051036On August 28, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. conducted a voluntary recall of mung bean sprouts due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination after FDA isolated the pathogen from samples as a result of a routine assignment.
  • During FDA inspections of the Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. facility in August and October 2014, investigators observed unsanitary conditions, many of which were present during both inspections.
  • Whole genome sequences of the Listeria strains isolated from mung bean sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. and environmental isolates collected at the production facility were found to be highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from five people who became ill from June through August 2014.
  •  These five ill people were reported from two states: Illinois (4) and Michigan (1).
  • All ill people were hospitalized. Two deaths were reported.
  • The two people interviewed reported eating bean sprouts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated Listeria monocytogenes from mung bean sprouts and sprout irrigation water samples obtained during a routine assignment on August 13, 2014, at Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. Based on this finding, FDA conducted an inspection of the facility from August 12, 2014, through September 3, 2014, and isolated Listeria monocytogenes from 25 environmental swabs obtained during the inspection. FDA also issued a report with 12 inspectional observations, citing the firm for numerous unsanitary conditions and poor equipment maintenance.

On August 28, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. agreed to conduct a voluntary recall of mung bean sprouts and notified customers by telephone. Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. ceased production of sprouts on August 28, 2014, and resumed production on September 15, 2014 after Listeria monocytogenes was not identified in finished product. From October 7, 2014, to October 31, 2014, FDA re-inspected the facility and identified Listeria monocytogenes in nine environmental swabs. FDA investigators issued another report to the firm, noting 12 inspectional observations involving unsanitary conditions and poor equipment maintenance. Nine of these observations had persisted from the previous inspection.

On October 14, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. ceased production of all products except mung bean and soy bean sprouts. FDA is working with the company to ensure that they do not produce sprouts until FDA has adequate assurances that this persistent and dangerous strain of Listeria monocytogenes is sufficiently controlled. Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is working to embargo all product at Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. and the other wholesalers that presently have product. In addition, IDPH has asked local health departments to contact facilities in their jurisdictions that have received the product to have the facilities either hold the product or destroy per the CDC recommendations.

FDA performed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) on the isolates from mung bean sprouts and environmental samples from Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. to further characterize the Listeria isolates. Compared with PFGE, WGS provides a clearer distinction of genetic differences among Listeria isolates (strains that are highly related by WGS are more likely to have a common source).

Public health investigators used PFGE and WGS to identify cases of illness that were caused by highly related strains and therefore possibly related to products made at Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. This included data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network of state and local public health laboratories, CDC, and federal food regulatory laboratories that perform molecular surveillance of foodborne infections. 

Whole-genome sequences of Listeria strains isolated from five ill people were found to be highly related to sequences of the Listeria strain isolated from mung bean sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. These ill people have been reported from two states: Illinois (4) and Michigan (1).  They became ill from June through August 2014. All five people were hospitalized, and two deaths were reported. Two of the five people were interviewed, and both reported consuming bean sprouts in the month before becoming ill.

The high degree of genetic similarity between isolates from ill people and from mung bean sprouts and environmental samples collected at Wholesome Soy Products, Inc. shows that the food was contaminated with a strain of Listeria monocytogenes that can cause serious illness. Although limited information is available about the specific sprout products that the ill people consumed, the whole genome sequencing findings, together with the sprout consumption history of two patients and inspection findings at the firm, suggest that these illnesses could be related to products from Wholesome Soy Products, Inc.

CDC, the states involved, and FDA continue to work closely on this ongoing investigation, and new information will be provided when available.

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-8-1-14.xlsx.

Wholesome Soy Products, Inc

27 sickened including 11 pregnancies in two outbreaks of Listeria, Northern Spain 2013

In the province of Gipuzkoa, Spain (≈700,000 inhabitants), 7–12 episodes of human listeriosis were recorded annually during 2009–2012. However, during January 2013–February 2014, 27 episodes were detected, including 11 pregnancy-associated cases.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAll cases produced sepsis in the patients, except 1 case that produced diarrheal disease in a 34-year-old parturient woman who had undergone a splenectomy. Eleven episodes (40.7%) occurred in pregnant or parturient women, and 8 of the children of these patients were affected: 5 newborns (4 of them premature infants) became ill, 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage, and 1 infant was stillborn.

Fifteen cases in 2 epidemiologically unrelated outbreaks were caused by a rare type of Listeria monocytogenes, sequence type 87 serotype 1/2b. 

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014 [ahead of print]

Pérez-Trallero E, Zigorraga C, Artieda J, Alkorta M, Marimón JM


So what should be done about it? Listeria at deli

Postprocessing contamination in processing plants has historically been a significant source of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat delicatessen meats, and therefore a major cause of human listeriosis cases and outbreaks. Recent risk assessments suggest that a majority of human listeriosis cases linked to consumption of contaminated deli meats may be due to L. monocytogenes contamination that occurs at the retail level. To better understand the ecology and transmission of Listeria spp. in retail listeria4delicatessens, food and nonfood contact surfaces were tested for L. monocytogenes and other Listeria spp. in a longitudinal study conducted in 30 retail delis in three U.S. states. In phase I of the study, seven sponge samples were collected monthly for 3 months in 15 delis (5 delis per state) prior to start of daily operation; in phase II, 28 food contact and nonfood contact sites were sampled in each of 30 delis during daily operation for 6 months. Among the 314 samples collected during phase I, 6.8% were positive forL. monocytogenes. Among 4,503 samples collected during phase II, 9.5% were positive for L. monocytogenes; 9 of 30 delis showed low L. monocytogenes prevalence (<1%) for all surfaces. A total of 245 Listeria spp. isolates, including 184 Listeria innocua, 48 Listeria seeligeri, and 13 Listeria welshimeri were characterized. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was used to characterize 446 L. monocytogenes isolates. PFGE showed that for 12 of 30 delis, one or more PFGE types were isolated on at least three separate occasions, providing evidence for persistence of a given L. monocytogenes subtype in the delis. For some delis, PFGE patterns for isolates from nonfood contact surfaces were distinct from patterns for occasional food contact surface isolates, suggesting limited cross-contamination between these sites in some delis. This study provides longitudinal data on L. monocytogenes contamination patterns in retail delis, which should facilitate further development of control strategies in retail delis.

Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria spp. contamination patterns in retail delicatessen establishments in three U.S. states

Simmons, Courtenay; Stasiewicz, Matthew J.; Wright, Emily; Warchocki, Steven; Roof, Sherry; Kause, Janell R.; Bauer, Nathan; Ibrahim, Salam; Wiedmann, Martin; Oliver, Haley F.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 11, November 2014, pp. 1844-2003, pp. 1929-1939(11); DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-14-183


Listeria species have been isolated from diverse environments, often at considerable prevalence, and are known to persist in food processing facilities. The presence of Listeria spp. has been suggested to be a marker for Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Therefore, a study was conducted to (i) determine the prevalence and diversity ofListeria spp. in produce production and natural environments and (ii) identify geographical and/or meteorological factors that affect the isolation of Listeria spp. in these environments. These data were also used to evaluate Listeriaspp. as index organisms for L. monocytogenes in produce production environments. Environmental samples collected from produce production (n = 588) and natural (n = 734) environments in New York State were microbiologically analyzed to detect and isolate Listeria spp. The prevalence of Listeria spp. publix.deli.listeria.09was approximately 33 and 34% for samples obtained from natural environments and produce production, respectively. Coisolation of L. monocytogenes and at least one other species of Listeria in a given sample was recorded for 3 and 9% of samples from natural environments and produce production, respectively. Soil moisture and proximity to water and pastures were highly associated with isolation of Listeria spp. in produce production environments, while elevation, study site, and proximity to pastures were highly associated with isolation of Listeria spp. in natural environments, as determined by randomForest models. These data show that Listeria spp. were prevalent in both agricultural and nonagricultural environments and that geographical and meteorological factors associated with isolation of Listeria spp. were considerably different between the two environments. 

Geographical and meteorological factors associated with isolation of Listeria species in New York state produce production and natural environments.

Chapin, Travis K.; Nightingale, Kendra K.; Worobo, Randy W.; Wiedmann, Martin; Strawn, Andlaura K.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 11, November 2014, pp. 1844-2003, pp. 1919-1928(10); DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-14-132


Norway Seafoods recalls products in Denmark over Listeria risk

Norway Seafoods has recalled products sold in Denmark at the supermarket chains Irma and DognNetto, citing potential risk of Listeria, reported iLaks.no.

amy.pregnant.listeriaProducts were also recalled from Fotex and Bilka.

Listeria was found at one of the production sites. The affected products were made on Oct. 21, with an expiry date of Nov. 17.

It is the second time within a short period of time that Norway Seafoods has had to recall products, noted iLaks, adding the listeria was detected by the company’s own control system.

Turning poop into gold: Inactivation of pathogens during aerobic composting of fresh and aged dairy manure and different carbon amendments

Composting is hard. It sounds easy, but in reality, it takes work and there are a lot of variables that impact on the microbiological safety of the final product. Because we live in central Brisbane in an all concrete townhouse, I have pots and raised beds that grow herbs and veggies that primarily feed possums at night. But I do composter.dp.nov.14compost, to cut down on the amount of rubbish going to the street, in this groovy rotator that  works well as long as it is turned several times a day.

Erickson et al. report that in two separate studies were conducted to address the condition and the type of feedstocks used during composting of dairy manure. In each study, physical (temperature), chemical (ammonia, volatile acids, and pH), and biological (Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli O157:H7) parameters were monitored during composting in bioreactors to assess the degree to which they were affected by the experimental variables and, ultimately, the ability of the chemical and physical parameters to predict the fate of pathogens during composting.

Compost mixtures that contained either aged dairy manure or pine needles had reduced heat generation; therefore, pathogen reduction took longer than if fresh manure or carbon amendments of wheat straw or peanut hulls were used. Based on regression models derived from these results, ammonia concentration, in addition to heat, were the primary factors affecting the degree of pathogen inactivation in compost mixtures formulated to an initial carbon-nitrogen (C:N) ratio of 40:1, whereas, the pH of the compost mixture along with the amount of heat exposure were most influential in compost mixtures formulated to an initial C:N ratio of 30:1. Further studies are needed to validate these models so that additional criteria in addition to time and temperature can be used to evaluate the microbiological safety of composted manures.

Inactivation of pathogens during aerobic composting of fresh and aged dairy manure and different carbon amendments

Erickson, Marilyn C.; Liao, Jean; Jiang, Xiuping; Doyle, Michael P.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 11, November 2014, pp. 1844-2003, pp. 1911-1918(8)


Judge denies dismissal in PrimusLabs cantaloupe cases

The Packer reports that a Colorado judge has refused to dismiss at least 24 cases filed against PrimusLabs by victims and their families related to the 2011 listeria outbreak involving cantaloupe from Jensen Farms.

cantaloupe.salmonellaThe judge also refused to dismiss cross claims filed against PrimusLabs by distributor Frontera Produce Ltd. and Dillon’s, one of the Kroger Co. banners.

Judge Charles Pratt filed orders Oct. 28 requiring the cases to move forward. The cases are among 66 victim cases pending in courts across more than a dozen states.

At least 147 people became sick and at least 33 died because of listeria infections after eating the Jensens’ cantaloupe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates at least 10 other people who had the outbreak strains of listeria had eaten the Jensen cantaloupe, but health officials had not confirmed the link when filing out death certificates.

Judge Pratt sided with the plaintiffs, saying PrimusLabs “knew or reasonably should have known that until it completed the audit the cantaloupe would not be released for sale to the public.”

Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler, who is directly representing 46 of the victim plaintiffs directly and several more indirectly, declined to comment on Judge Pratt’s refusal to dismiss the cases against PrimusLabs.

In his order denying the PrimusLabs’ request to dismiss the victim cases and the cross claims filed by Frontera and Dillon’s, Judge Pratt said he is bound by law to allow the cases to proceed.

Here’s what we think of audits:

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety


Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.