2 dead, 3 sick from Listeria in Wholesome (?) Soy bean sprouts (final update)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that on November 7, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products Inc. of Chicago, Ill., agreed to close their facility and to cease production and distribution of sprouts. The facility is no longer in production.

UnknownSprouts produced by Wholesome Soy Products Inc. are likely no longer available for purchase or consumption given the 5-day shelf life reported by the facility.

On 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).

amy.sprouts.guelph.05All ill people were hospitalized. Two deaths were reported.

The two people interviewed reported eating bean sprouts.

Although limited information is available about the specific sprout products that 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 recommends that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from contaminated sprouts.

Make sure that children, older adults, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).

Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking sprouts thoroughly kills any harmful bacteria.

Salmonella and raw leafy greens most dangerous according to EU risk assessment model

Foods of non-animal origin (FoNAO) are consumed in a variety of forms, being a major component of almost all meals. These food types have the potential to be associated with large outbreaks as seen in 2011 associated with VTEC O104.

lettuce.skull.noroIn order to identify and rank specific food/pathogen combinations most often linked to human cases originating from FoNAO in the EU, a semi-quantitative model was developed using seven criteria: strength of associations between food and pathogen based on the foodborne outbreak data from EU Zoonoses Monitoring (2007–2011), incidence of illness, burden of disease, dose–response relationship, consumption, prevalence of contamination and pathogen growth potential during shelf life.

The top ranking food/pathogen combination was Salmonella spp. and leafy greens eaten raw followed by (in equal rank) Salmonella spp. and bulb and stem vegetables, Salmonella spp. and tomatoes, Salmonella spp. and melons, and pathogenic Escherichia coli and fresh pods, legumes or grains.

Despite the inherent assumptions and limitations, this risk model is considered a tool for risk managers, as it allows ranking of food/pathogen combinations most often linked to foodborne human cases originating from FoNAO in the EU. Efforts to collect additional data even in the absence of reported outbreaks as well as to enhance the quality of the EU-specific data, which was used as input for all the model criteria, will allow the improvement of the model outputs. Furthermore, it is recommended that harmonised terminology be applied to the categorisation of foods collected for different reasons, e.g. monitoring, surveillance, outbreak investigation and consumption. In addition, to assist future microbiological risk assessments, consideration should be given to the collection of additional information on how food has been processed, stored and prepared as part of the above data collection exercises.

Risk ranking of pathogens in ready-to-eat unprocessed foods of non-animal origin (FoNAO) in the EU: Initial evaluation using outbreak data (2007–2011)

International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 195, 16 February 2015, Pages 9–19

M.T. Da Silva Felícioa, , , T. Haldb, E. Liebanaa A. Allendec, M. Hugasa, C. Nguyen-Thed, e, G. Skoien Johannessenf, T. Niskaneng, M. Uyttendaeleh, J. McLauchlin

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160514005443

Sprouts still suck; another outbreak sickens at least 115 with Salmonella

The prison warden told Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke in the 1967 film that “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”

coolhandlukeIt’s based on an authoritarian model and is the oldest excuse out there; all kinds of problems could be solved if everyone just communicated better, especially scientists and others.

The anti-authoritarian heros of great American movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Blues Brothers and Stripes all found different ways to communicate, in unconventional ways.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports a total of 115 persons infected with the outbreak strains were reported from 12 states. The number of ill people identified in each state was as follows: Connecticut (8), Maine (4), Maryland (6), Massachusetts (36), Montana (1), New Hampshire (6), New York (22), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (18), Rhode Island (7), Vermont (3), and Virginia (1). The one ill person from Montana traveled to the Eastern United States during the period when exposure likely occurred. Since the last update on December 16, 2014, four additional cases were reported from Maryland (1), Massachusetts (1), New York (1), and Pennsylvania (1).

Illness onset dates ranged from September 30, 2014, to December 15, 2014. Ill persons ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 83 years, with a median age of 32 years. Sixty-four percent of ill persons were female. Among 75 persons with available information, 19 (25%) were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

This outbreak appears to be over. However, sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. CDC recommends that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from eating sprouts.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Abstract

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks.

amy.sprouts.guelph.05Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

Surveys still suck, but for fun, more Americans want to ban unpasteurized milk than marijuana

It’s not hard to imagine: milk fiends buying illegal, unpasteurized milk in darkened back alleys. Shady dealers running shipments of raw milk across the Mexican-American border. A high-speed police chase down I-95, the suspects tossing gallons of unpasteurized milk out the window in a frantic effort to ditch the evidence.

marketbAn underground black market for unpasteurized milk like the kind that exists for marijuana is, of course, absurd. But it’s still fun to imagine, because more Americans today want to ban the sale of raw milk than marijuana, according to a recent study. Some 59% of Americans support a ban on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, while just 47% support a ban on the sale of marijuana, according to Oklahoma State University’s Food Demand Survey. The U.S. currently has a patchwork of different laws regarding raw milk. States like New York and Iowa ban the retail sale of raw milk, while California and Idaho permit it.

Portlandia gets raw as they expose the FDA’s lies (it’s satire)

Things are about to get raw on Portlandia.

Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein- Photo Credit: Augusta Quirk/IFCIn the words of Candace and Toni: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention to the lies that the FDA is feeding you about the joys of raw milk.

This week, Brendan (Fred Armisen) and Michelle (Carrie Brownstein) were feeling lethargic, sluggish and generally under the weather until they discovered that raw milk is a miracle cure-all. A miracle that the FDA is trying to prevent you from enjoying! Check out this clip as they storm a doctor’s (Ed Begley Jr.) office to spread the truth about raw milk.

Campylobacter: Raw milk from Washington creamery recalled

Some batches of raw milk from the Old Silvana Creamery in Arlington are being recalled out of concern they may be contaminated with Campylobacter.

Old Silvana CreameryThe recall affects raw milk from the farm with expiration dates of Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, according to Jim Sinnema, who manages the farm.

The milk is sold in 15 stores in Western Washington. The creamery produces several hundred gallons of raw milk a week, he said.

The recall, announced Monday evening, was launched after an independent lab discovered Campylobacter in a routine weekly sample sent to a laboratory for testing, Sinnema said. It had an expiration date of Jan. 23. As a precaution, raw milk from Old Silvana Creamery with an expiration date of Jan. 24 also was recalled, Sinnema said.

A good idea? Ethiopian raw beef dish if you’re low on iron

When Ethiopians need an iron health boost, they don’t turn to supplements – they eat kitfo, a traditional dish that consists of marinated minced raw beef and is usually eaten with a sourdough-risen flatbread called injera, says Bebeta Asfaw.

kitfo.Ethiopian_foodMs Asfaw, who owns and operates Cafe Abyssinia in Mt Roskill, said kitfo was also somewhat like “a happy meal” in Ethiopia.

“It’s something we eat at every celebration and festival, from birthdays, weddings and many family events,” said Ms Asfaw.

She said the dish was considered to be healthy because both the beef and flatbread had a high iron content.

Lincoln Tan of The New Zealand Herald writes that teff, a valued iron-rich grain, is mixed with water and left to ferment for several days to make injera.

Ms Asfaw said injera was the staple bread for Ethiopians, much like roti is in India.

“We will always make our children eat kitfo because we think the beef is good for them and will make them strong and give lots of energy,” she said.

At her cafe, Ms Asfaw serves kitfo either completely raw or slightly cooked with injera on the side.

To eat kitfo, spoonfuls of raw beef can be placed into a piece of injera or you can use your fingers to tear off bits of the flatbread and dig into the beef.

Ms Asfaw said injera could also be replaced with standard sliced bread.

Kitfo

Ingredients

1kg topside beef (freshly cut)

6 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper (mitmita*)

4 tablespoons clarified butter (nitir kebe*)

1 teaspoon cardamom powder (korerima*)

salt and black pepper

* You will find these spices in Ethiopian or Indian shops/groceries

Method

1. Cut the beef into small pieces and remove fat

2. Hand mince meat, marinate with mitmita and place the spicy ground meat in a dish

3. Melt the butter in a small pot on low heat, add the remaining mitmita, cardamom powder, (salt and black pepper to taste); remove from heat

4. Combine the spicy ground meat with the spicy butter; mix until completely marinated

5. Serve it immediately in a dish with injera or bread

As always, more research required: Study analyzes tomato production practices

Doug Ohlemeier of The Packer writes that tomato production practices don’t significantly affect bacteria levels and the study’s results point to the need for additional research, according to University of Maryland and Rutgers University researchers.

tomato.traceabilityThat’s the conclusion of a study scheduled to be published in the March issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

From July to September 2012, researchers from the College Park-based University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Center for Food Safety and Security Systems and New Brunswick, N.J.-based Rutgers’ Cooperative Extension collected and tested 422 samples from 24 conventional and organic tomato farms from four growing regions in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

The researchers analyzed 259 tomato fruit samples and also examined irrigation water, compost, field soil and pond sediment for Salmonella enterica, shiga toxin and bacterial indicators in pre-harvest tomatoes.

They didn’t detect any salmonella on the farms and the prevalence of shiga toxin, a byproduct of E. coli, was very low, said Shirley Micallef, an assistant professor who heads the Maryland university’s food safety center and Plant Science and Landscape Architecture department.

One curious finding was an apparent difference in bacteria present on tomatoes that touch the ground vs. tomatoes higher in a vine canopy that don’t contact the plastic or straw mulch.

Researchers found indicator bacteria on the ones that connected with the ground but no pathogens, Micallef said.

That discovery doesn’t mean tomatoes that touch the ground shouldn’t be harvested but only points to the need for additional investigation, she said.

Another finding was groundwater from the end of drip lines possessed higher indicator bacteria counts than the source water, Micallef said.

tomato.dump.tankThe difference in microbiological quality of water signals potential risk and points to the need for growers to conduct more frequent drip line system maintenance by testing water at the end of the line, she said.

The research also found no difference in contamination risk between conventional and organic tomatoes and study was also different because it focused on small and medium-sized growers, Micallef said.

“It was encouraging we didn’t find a huge problem because here in the Mid-Atlantic, we have had outbreaks associated with tomatoes,” she said. “It’s good to see growers really paying attention to GAPs (good agricultural practices) and trying to implement food safety practices as best they can in the fields. They probably do help to reduce the risk.”

Reported foodborne outbreaks due to fresh produce: US vs EU

Consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a healthy lifestyle. Various international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, encourage the daily intake of at least 400 g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

lettuce.skull.noroA large portion of this produce is consumed raw, and the number of foodborne outbreaks associated with these products has increased correspondingly. In this context, unpasteurized fruit juices and raw sprouts are also considered high-risk foods. The 2011 Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak from sprouted seeds in Germany gives a clear indication of the emerging relevance of the consumption of these products within food safety issues.

Globalization and growing international trade can also increase the risk, especially if produce comes from countries with lower safety standards. Nevertheless, nutrition educators and healthcare professionals believe that the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables outweigh the risk of contracting a foodborne illness by consuming fresh produce.

The number of reported outbreaks (defined as the occurrence of two or more cases of similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food) reported both in the United States and European Union represents only a fraction of the actual number of outbreaks that occur.

Large outbreaks, outbreaks associated with food service and institutions, and outbreaks that have a longer duration or cause serious disease are more likely to be investigated and reported. Conversely, the data may not reflect what occurs in

sporadic cases. Moreover, there are differences in the sensitivity of the national or state systems in identifying and investigating foodborne outbreaks.

melon.berriesA wide spectrum of pathogens and food vehicles has been documented in produce-associated outbreaks. The occurrence of food-related infections due to fresh produce calls for better control interventions and the need for improved prevention strategies worldwide, since food can be contaminated at any point in the food chain, and interventions must be applied where appropriate at every step. Hence, the future success of global efforts to prevent produce-related outbreaks depends on the understanding of the key contributing factors and the maintenance of best practices to reduce and eliminate contamination.

Reported foodborne outbreaks due to fresh produce in the United States and European Union: trends and causes

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. January 2015, 12(1): 32-38

Callejón Raquel M., Rodríguez-Naranjo M. Isabel, Ubeda Cristina, Hornedo-Ortega Ruth, Garcia-Parrilla M. Carmen, and Troncoso Ana M.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2014.1821#utm_source=ETOC&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fpd

Abstract

The consumption of fruit and vegetables continues to rise in the United States and European Union due to healthy lifestyle recommendations. Meanwhile, the rate of foodborne illness caused by the consumption of these products remains high in both regions, representing a significant public health and financial issue. This study addresses the occurrence of reported foodborne outbreaks associated with fresh fruits and vegetables consumption in the United States and European Union during the period 2004–2012, where data are available. Special attention is paid to those pathogens responsible for these outbreaks, the mechanisms of contamination, and the fresh produce vehicles involved. Norovirus is shown to be responsible for most of the produce-related outbreaks, followed by Salmonella. Norovirus is mainly linked with the consumption of salad in the United States and of berries in the European Union, as demonstrated by the Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA). Salmonella was the leading cause of multistate produce outbreaks in the United States and was the pathogen involved in the majority of sprouts-associated outbreaks. As is reflected in the MCA, the pattern of fresh produce outbreaks differed in the United States and European Union by the type of microorganism and the food vehicle involved.

produce.vehicle.us.jan.15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

produce.vehicle.eu.jan.15

Scared by the apple recall? These 5 fruits and veggies are even bigger risks

I’m still somewhat bemused that anyone has no trouble contacting me – this time while goofing around in Hawaii – yet university admin types were baffled so much they fired me for bad attendance.

Excellence in education.

lettuce.skull.noroAmy Rushlow of Yahoo! Health reports that a bacterial outbreak in apples has killed seven people and hospitalized 31, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently confirmed that strains of listeria bacteria were discovered at the Bidart Bros. apple-packing plant in California. A majority of the cases have been linked to prepackaged caramel apples. Last week, Bidart Bros. voluntarily recalled all Granny Smith and Gala apples following the results of the tests.

Apples are the second most popular fruit in America, according the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. But apple contamination is actually rare because they have a hard surface, which prevents bacteria from entering the fruit, says Doug Powell, PhD, a former professor of food safety in the U.S. and Canada who publishes barfblog.com.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables are probably the biggest source of foodborne illness today in North America, and that’s because they’re fresh — we don’t cook them — so anything that comes into contact has the potential to contaminate,” Powell tells Yahoo Health.

Powell is especially careful with the following five fruits and vegetables, which have been linked to a significant number of foodborne illness outbreaks over the past years. (And no, apples didn’t make the list.)

1. Sprouts

This is the one food that Powell simply refuses to eat. “There are outbreaks all the time around the world.” You might recall the 2011 outbreak in Germany, which killed more than 50 people and sickened more than 4,000. In late 2014, more than 100 Americans became ill after eating sprouts tainted with E. coli.

Sprouts are particularly prone to bacteria because they germinate in a high-temperature, high-moisture environment — the same environment where germs thrive. “They’ve shown in many of these cases, it’s the seed that’s contaminated on the inside, so then when you get it germinated, you only need one cell and it’s going to grow,” he adds.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women, children, older adults, and people with weak immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts. Cooking sprouts destroys harmful bacteria.

cantaloupe.salmonella2. Cantaloupe

Unlike honeydew melons or watermelon, cantaloupes have porous rinds that allow bacteria to enter the fruit. In addition, the fields where cantaloupes are grown often flood, Powell explains, “So they’re sitting in water, and that water may have come downstream from a livestock operation.”

3. Leafy greens

Bacteria becomes trapped on the inner leaves as the head is forming, Powell explains. Plus, leafy greens are especially difficult to wash effectively. Over the past several years in the U.S., bags of romaine lettuce, prepackaged salad mix, spinach, and spring mix have all been linked to E. coli outbreaks.

4. Tomatoes

There are several ways for germs to enter the fruit of the tomato, including via groundwater or through the water tomatoes are plunged into to give them a little shine, Powell says. “The dunk tank water has to be within five degrees of the interior of the tomato or else a vacuum is formed and water rushes in, so whatever is in dunk tank water is now inside of the tomato.” An easy fix is for tomato companies to monitor the dunk tank water, but unfortunately there isn’t a simple way for consumers to know if their grower does this.

5. Garnishes, such as green onions, cilantro, and parsley

Green onions and other herbs and vegetables used as garnishes are at high risk for outbreaks because we don’t cook them, Powell explains. He recommends leaving them off the plate if they’re simply for decoration.

Don’t let all of this scare you away from eating fresh fruits and vegetables, Powell stresses. While there is no one measure that will keep you completely safe, a few small steps can add up. For one, Powell himself shops for produce at the largest store he can find. “They have the resources to demand that their supply has to go through some basic food safety standards that they’re going to apply internally,” he says. He also recommends giving fresh produce a rinse, which removes surface debris and some (but not all) bacteria.

And while Powell doesn’t suggest always cooking fruits and vegetables to kill bacteria, since there are nutritional benefits to eating them raw, it’s a step you can take if you’re especially concerned. The FDA website offers additional everyday food safety tips.