63 sick with Salmonella; sprouts strike again

I spent a few hours yesterday cooking 100 burgers and prepping food for kids at Sorenne’s school. Afterwards, one of the other volunteers got me talking about food safety and asked me about raw sprouts. I said, never at this school as long as I’m here.

wonton.foods.bean.sproutsAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as of November 21, 2014, a total of 63 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 10 states.

• 26 percent of ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

  • Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods, Inc. are the likely source of this outbreak.

• In interviews, 29 (78%) of 37 ill persons reported eating bean sprouts or menu items containing bean sprouts in the week before becoming ill.

  • The information available to date indicates that bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods, Inc. may be contaminated with Salmonella and are not safe to eat. As of November 21, 2014, the firm has verbally agreed to voluntarily stop the production and sale of their bean sprouts.

• CDC recommends that restaurants and other retailers do not sell or serve bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods, Inc. at this time.

• The firm is cooperating with public health and agriculture officials and has reported that their last shipment of bean sprouts was on November 18, 2014. 

  • This ongoing investigation is rapidly evolving, and CDC will update the public when more information becomes 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

Step away from the turkey II: bad advice from experts?

Thanksgiving brings a flurry of turkey tips, but the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension seem to have some conflicting advice.

More-doctors-smoke-Camels-than-any-other-cigaretteUniversity of Illinois Extension says, “Wash the turkey inside and out and pat skin dry with paper towels,” yet most other Extension advice is, don’t wash the damn bird, you’ll have bacteria flying everywhere.

And, if smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with deep ashtrays After the guests leave, check inside, under upholstery and in trash cans for smoldering cigarette butts.

Raw eggs part of Australian food snobbery, not safety

Better Homes and Gardens on Australian TV Channel 7, is typical food porn laced with bad food safety advice.

During an episode on Oct. 24, 2014, Melbourne chef, restaurateur and food writer Karen Martini, someone who has been cooking professionally for more than 20 years, pushed the raw egg dressing agenda.

Sorry Australia – you still have an egg problem.

The New South Wales Food Authority has its own advice on raw eggs (see below and judge for yourself).

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx



27 sickened with Salmonella in New Zealand linked to consumption of contaminated tahini imported from Turkey

A widespread salmonellosis outbreak linked to consumption of hummus made from contaminated tahini imported from Turkey occurred in New Zealand in November 2012.

tahiniThis article summarizes the outbreak detection, investigation, and control. The New Zealand Enteric Reference Laboratory alerted public health units regarding a cluster of 11 persons with Salmonella Montevideo infection identified from different regions of the North Island of New Zealand.

A multiagency outbreak investigation commenced to determine the source of illness and prevent further transmission. Salmonellosis is a notifiable disease in New Zealand. Outbreak cases were identified through routine salmonellosis notifications, and interviewed using a standardized questionnaire to identify common exposures. Clinical and food isolates were initially characterized by serotyping and then further typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE profiles were sent to PulseNet and international alerts were posted. The scope of the investigation widened to include persons with either Salmonella Maastricht and Salmonella Mbandaka infection following detection of these serotypes in tahini epidemiologically linked to laboratory-confirmed cases. All three of the tahini-associated serotypes were detected in people who had consumed tahini, and these were found to have PFGE profiles indistinguishable from the tahini isolates.

Twenty-seven salmonellosis cases infected with at least one of the three tahini-associated Salmonella serotypes were detected between September 1 and December 31, 2012; of these, 16 (59%) cases (12 with Salmonella Montevideo, 3 with Salmonella Mbandaka, and 1 with Salmonella Maastricht infection) had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the outbreak profile.

The investigation led to a trade withdrawal and consumer recall for tahini sesame paste from the consignment and products containing this tahini. The outbreak ceased following the recall. The importer of the implicated tahini was reminded of his duties as a food importer, including ensuring appropriate product testing. Changes to New Zealand legislation strengthened food safety responsibilities of food importers.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, November 2014, 11(11): 887-892

Paine Shevaun, Thornley Craig, Wilson Maurice, Dufour Muriel, Sexton Kerry, Miller Jim, King Grant, Bell Stephen, Bandaranayake Don, and Mackereth Graham


The meat beat

Ashley Chaifetz, a PhD student studying public policy at UNC-Chapel Hill writes:

Feeding a raw diet to your pet? And through a dog food co-op? This might sound like an awesome idea, but it is not the safest plan.

Sheila Pell at Modern Farmer writes,

Offer a dog a piece of kibble in one hand and a morsel of meat in the other. It’s that obvious choice that moves many pet parents to join a dog food co-op, and share the task of procuring fresh meats, fruits and vegetables to be shared among their pet’s food bowls. Not everyone can find one nearby, but more are cropping up all the time.IMG_5238-225x300

While feeding raw food might be preferable to the dog, taste-wise, a pet doesn’t know which foods might be contaminated with SalmonellaE. coli or other pathogens.  Domesticated animals rely on humans to make the best choices possible for their meals.

Yet, that might not always happen.

Proponents also argue that dogs evolved to eat primarily raw foods, mainly meat and bones, not starchy overcooked grains. The benefits of approximating that diet, many say, include healthier skin and coats, cleaner teeth, more energy and less poop.

Pell notes that there are dissidents,

Many veterinarians, and the FDA, discourage raw feeding due to threats from bacteria. Studies in veterinary journals have documented the risks. Some long-time raw feeders point out that bacteria (salmonella, for one) is also a problem in commercial pet food. Other risks are feeding an unbalanced diet and the potential for whole bones to cause choking, break teeth or puncture an organ.

My dog would regularly eat poop for dinner if it were up to her. Commercial dry food has had contamination issues the risk is increased when the meal is raw. Veterinarians have suggested that raw chicken can have too much phosphorous or calcium—and consuming bones, among other items, can easily get stuck in an animal’s esophagus and lead to other health issues (Thompson et al., 2012). But it’s safety that got the pet owners interested in this diet in the first place.

But pet food recalls and the local/organic food trend got pet owners interested in providing their dogs with a higher quality feed. By shortening the farm-to-bowl chain, many owners feel they can rule out many of the toxic traces of industrial food production.

Just shortening the supply chain is not the mythical answer to lessening a supposed toxic industrial food system. A nearby processor of raw food can be just as risky as a far-away processor of conventional kibble. And while dog food co-ops might use best practices, it is not a guarantee that every purveyor does as such.

I look up product contents, company histories, and prevalence of recalls, as well as how any recall was handled, before feeding my dog a new brand of food. Before joining a cooperative, I would research its processing practices, transport procedures, and operating procedures –for the health of my dog and me, since I can get sick from contaminated dog food: dry, wet, or raw.

Epi counts, 100 sickened in 2011: Australian High Court rules against SA Government in defamation case brought by baker Vili Milisits

The High Court has upheld a decision forcing the State Government to hand over material relating to a defamation claim by prominent Adelaide baker Vili Milisits.

Vili MilisitsMr Milisits is suing the Government for defamation over its handling of a salmonella outbreak in which 100 people fell ill in 2011.

He claimed his reputation was damaged when the state’s Director of Public Health, Doctor Kevin Buckett, issued warnings about custard-filled products from Vili’s Bakery, despite no traces of the bacteria being found at the premises.

The warnings came during a radio interview and two press conferences called in February 2011.

After a court application, the Government provided Mr Milisits’ lawyers with redacted versions of patient records and interviews with those who became ill, but the Full Court of the Supreme Court ordered the documents be handed over in full.

The Government sought leave in the High Court to challenge that order, but the court refused.

The Government told the court it was in the public interest to maintain the confidentiality of the personal information of those who became ill, particularly because they volunteered to take part in interviews on the basis of confidentiality.

Last week, the Supreme Court heard an application by Mr Milisit’s lawyers to strike out part of the Government’s defence.

The Government contends the warnings issued about Vilis products were justified and based on truth, relying on information provided in the interviews with those who became ill.

It also claimed a qualified privilege defence and one that Dr Buckett was protected from liability because he was carrying out his duties under the Food Act.

Lawyers for Mr Milisits said his actions did not fall under the act, and that part of the Government’s defence should be struck out before the trial.

The judge reserved his decision.

No date has yet been fixed for the trial.

33 sick from Salmonella in Italian schools

Something may be lost in translation but thanks to our Italian food safety friend for sending this along:

salmonellosi-nelle-scuole-di-paderno-dugnano-33-i-contagiati_89d4de58-6cc2-11e4-b101-5ef8e16d9739_998_397_big_story_detailThe medical report on salmonellosis in the schools has been upgraded to a total of 33 people infected, 25 confirmed and 8 to verify. 

Food technologist Roberto Church reiterated that “90% of the problems do not stem from cooking center “which has been up and running even after the outbreak of the emergency. There is no guarantee one hundred percent, but the controls ASL have ruled that the strain may have originated from the place where 3 thousand daily meals are cooked.

“Besides – he explained to the parents gathered in the Church hall – even the staff of the center area has been subjected to medical examination,” and in this case there were no significant abnormalities. So, they ask their parents, where does the infection that has decimated the school population from one end of the town of Paderno, with strong implications in school buildings miles away from each other?

Blame consumers.

Does ‘no serious illnesses’ mean some illnesses? Lundberg Family Farms recalls flour products tainted by Salmonella

Lundberg Family Farms, a company based in Northern California, is voluntarily recalling two brown rice flour products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Lundberg Family FarmsThe family-owned company said on its website that it is recalling Eco-Farmed Brown Rice Flour and Organic Brown Rice Flour sold Nov. 4-12 in bulk bins and in 25-pounds bags by mail order and at retail stores in California, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona and Massachusetts.

The 25-pound bags have the following lot numbers: 141027, 141028,141029 and 141030.

The company said no serious illnesses have been reported from consumption of the flour.

Lundberg Family Farms said it discovered the problem after routine testing and immediately notified distributors and retail stores.  The company said it also reached out to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is cooperating with the agency.

Salmonella spurs peanut butter recall in Philippines

The Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the recall of several batches of Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butter products over possible contamination from Salmonella.

salm.arrowhead.mills.peanut.butter.14Based on FDA Advisory 2014-079, specific batches of Arrowhead Mills Creamy Organic Peanut Butter (16oz.) and Arrowhead Mills Crunchy Organic Peanut Butter (16oz.) are being recalled by its distributors One Stop Distribution Inc. and Healthy Options Corporation.

“A voluntary recall has been initiated on the specific batches of Arrowhead Mills products due to potential Salmonella contamination,” said the FDA.

Included in the recall order are Arrowhead Mills Creamy Organic Peanut Butter (16oz.) with Product Code AM47052 and Unit Bar Code 074333470328 with Expiry Dates February 4, 2015; December 31, 2014; and May 14, 2015.

Also being recalled are Arrowhead Mills Crunchy Organic Peanut Butter (16oz.) with Product Code AM47032 and Unit Bar Code 074333470526 with Expiry Dates December 31, 2014; and May 14, 2015.

“The recall involves only the specified batch under the mentioned product codes and no other Arrowhead Mills peanut butter variants and sizes are affected,” said the FDA.

Consumers that are in possession of the concerned products are being advised by the FDA to contact One Stop Distribution – Merchandising Department at 527-5555 local 4757. (Sunnex)