All food can be contaminated: Huge recall of frozen fruits and vegetables after Listeria outbreak

The N.Y. Times has noticed the growing number of recalls linked to Listeria-positive frozen produce packed by CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Wash., but offers little perspective on why.

beaker.the.screamZero-tolerance is not discussed. Neither is the test-and-hold approach used by many frozen-produce packagers. And of particular note: During our tour of Ontario processing vegetable growers and processors 15 years ago, Chapman and I were told that almost all processing vegetables are blanched – not so much for food safety but for quality – except onions.

Back to the onions at the end.

Brittany Behm, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Times the scale of the recall reflects the severity of the outbreak of the illness, Listeria, and of concerns about how the contaminated food might have “trickled down” into other products.

The processing plant, has voluntarily recalled more than 350 frozen foods — including carrots, onions, peaches and strawberries — that were sold in all 50 states and Canada and Mexico, and the EU. The recall began on April 23, with 11 frozen vegetables, but was significantly expanded on May 2.

Eight people sickened with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes have been confirmed since 2013 — six in California and one each in Maryland and Washington, Ms. Behm said. All of the cases, involving patients 56 to 86 years old, resulted in hospitalizations.

The two people from Maryland and Washington died, but the authorities did not directly attribute their deaths to Listeria because they may have already had weakened immune systems or other illnesses, Ms. Behm said.

It was not clear how many packages were affected by the recall. A spokesman for the company, Gene Grabowski, did not respond to a phone call on Friday. He told The Associated Press that the CRF plant closed two weeks ago and that the company was trying to pinpoint the source of the contamination.

22xp-foodrecall_web2-master315“Unquestionably, this is a lot of product. … It reflects the severity of listeria as an illness, the long duration of illnesses and the outbreak and the long shelf life of the products,” said Matthew Wise, who leads the outbreak response team at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On May 14, 2016, Food Safety News reported that staff from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected the CRF Frozen Foods LLC plant in Pasco, WA, from March 14-17.

The company stopped production at the plant April 25 after being notified by federal officials that frozen vegetables produced there had been linked by genetic testing to several people who had infections from Listeria monocytogenes.

The two-page FDA inspection report includes boilerplate citations of applicable sections of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act on its second page. The first page includes hand-written observations documenting:

a damaged plastic shovel used for food contact tasks;

chipping, cracking and missing pieces of plastic on food contact portions of equipment on the onion production line;

a plastic conveyor belt with missing plastic pieces on at least five legs that are in direct contact with onions;

utility knives used for trimming bad spots off onions that had initials etched on their blades; and

blue tape being used as a temporary repair on a cracked metal plate above a consumer pack line that was repacking product for export at the time of the inspection.

All of the examples cited by inspectors are cause of concern for the same reason — they mean it’s impossible to adequately clean the equipment that is in direct contact with food being produced.

“The materials and workmanship of equipment and utensils does not allow proper cleaning and maintenance,” according to the report.

“Investigations are ongoing to determine if food sources used to manufacture CRF Frozen Foods products could explain some of the illnesses,” FDA reported in its most recent update May 4.

One of those “food sources” could be onions from Oregon Potato Co., also located in Pasco, WA.

“March 2016 environmental samples collected by FDA from Oregon Potato Company, located in Pasco, WA, were found to be closely related genetically to seven of the isolates of ill people associated with this outbreak,” the FDA reported.

“Based on this information, Oregon Potato Company voluntarily recalled wholesale onion products, which led to subsequent downstream customer recalls, one of which publicly disclosed Oregon Potato Company as its product source.”

 

Nickelback? Really? So much for Trudeau being cool and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli in pigs

Still a deafening silence from public health types over whether or not people are definitively sick or just sick from Cantran Meat Co. raw pork and pork organ products linked to an E, coli O157 outbreak in Alberta.

TrudeauNickelbackSmallIt is a long weekend in Canada – Queen Victoria’s birthday or something as an excuse to go camping in the cold and mark the start of summer – so don’t expect anything public soon.

But an astute conversationalist did send along this abstract from last month to help answer the question, what is Shiga-toxin producing E. coli doing in pig?

Abstract

Similar to ruminants, swine have been shown to be a reservoir for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), and pork products have been linked with outbreaks associated with STEC O157 and O111:H-.

STEC strains, isolated in a previous study from fecal samples of late-finisher pigs, belonged to a total of 56 serotypes, including O15:H27, O91:H14, and other serogroups previously associated with human illness. The isolates were tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a high-throughput real-time PCR system to determine the Shiga toxin (Stx) subtype and virulence-associated and putative virulence-associated genes they carried. Select STEC strains were further analyzed using a Minimal Signature E. coli Array Strip. As expected, stx2e (81%) was the most common Stx variant, followed by stx1a (14%), stx2d (3%), andstx1c (1%).

kid_pig_kissThe STEC serogroups that carried stx2d were O15:H27, O159:H16 and O159:H-. Similar to stx2aand stx2c, the stx2d variant is associated with development of hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome, and reports on the presence of this variant in STEC strains isolated from swine are lacking. Moreover, the genes encoding heat stable toxin (estIa) and enteroaggregative E. coli heat stable enterotoxin-1 (astA) were commonly found in 50 and 44% of isolates, respectively. The hemolysin genes,hlyA and ehxA, were both detected in 7% of the swine STEC strains. Although the eae gene was not found, other genes involved in host cell adhesion, including lpfAO113 and paa were detected in more than 50% of swine STEC strains, and a number of strains also carried iha, lpfAO26, lpfAO157, fedA, orfA, and orfB.

The present work provides new insights on the distribution of virulence factors among swine STEC strains and shows that swine may carry Stx1a-, Stx2e-, or Stx2d-producing E. coli with virulence gene profiles associated with human infections.

Characterization of Shiga toxin subtypes and virulence genes in porcine Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli

Frontiers in Microbiology, 21 April 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00574

Gian Marco Baranzoni, Pina M. Fratamico, Jayanthi Gangiredla, Isha Patel, Lori K. Bagi, Sabine Delannoy, Patrick Fach, Federica Boccia, Aniello Anastasio and Tiziana Pepe

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00574/full

£30k fine slapped on UK Indian takeway owner after pools of blood found in freezer

A takeaway boss has been forced to pay out more than £33,000 after health inspectors found pools of blood in a freezer and cobwebs on light fittings at his business.

Maya takeaway Salik Mohammed Miah, 42, the owner of Maya takeaway in Polesworth, was handed one of the largest fines in the history of North Warwickshire Borough Council after a catalogue of hygiene horrors were exposed during an inspection.

Uncovered boxes of prawns, chicken and rice were also discovered along with containers of curry sauce stored on the floor and a dirty sink containing disgusting cloths and sponges.

Dogs, cats, pigeons in sight for hungry Venezuelans

As the economy spirals into deeper disarray, protests aimed at driving unpopular Venezuelans president Nicolás Maduro out of office are growing. Maduro responded over the weekend by declaring a 60-day state of emergency to combat what he said are U.S.-sponsored efforts to overthrow his socialist government.

hambre-en-VenezuelaPeter Wilson of USA Today reports the unrest mounts as the country faces continuing shortages of essential food, medicine and toiletries. All the bakeries here in La Victoria, 55 miles southwest of Caracas, stopped producing bread last week because there is no flour.

“People are hunting dogs and cats in the streets, and pigeons in the plazas to eat,” Ramon Muchacho, mayor of the Caracas district of Chacao, said this month in a tweet that was reported in many newspapers.

An epic drought has also gripped this nation that relies mostly on hydroelectric dams, sparking rolling blackouts and water shortages. Hospitals have had to postpone operations and procedures because of power outages. And government employees now work only two days a week to conserve electricity.

 

Don’t eat poop: Travellor’s diarhhea sickened dozens on Silversea Cruises March voyage

Robert Herriman of Outbreak News Today reports that in a follow-up on the outbreak onboard the Silversea Cruises ship, Silver Spirit, last month, health officials have reported yesterday that the cause of the outbreak that sickened 37 was Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).

french.dont.eat.poopThe outbreak on the Silver Spirit voyage from March 3 – 21 resulted in the sickening of 24 of 388 passengers and 13 of 366 crew members.

Infection occurs when a person eats food, or drinks water or ice contaminated with ETEC bacteria. Human or animal wastes (e.g., feces) are the ultimate source of ETEC contamination.

Salmonella in organic shake: Gift that keeps on giving

A confirmed case of Salmonella in Wisconsin likely resulted from consumption of an organic shake and meal replacement that was recalled earlier this year, state officials said Friday.

Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal ReplacementThe recalled product, Garden of Life RAW Meal, has been acquired by consumers from Internet retailers such as eBay and Amazon, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

People should not consume the product if it is from the lot codes listed in the previous recall announcements found on the FDA Recall website .

Consumers should dispose of the product or follow the instructions given in the original recall notices found on the FDA website.

Oh Kansas, what is wrong? Downtown Lawrence restaurant reopens day after closing for nearly 100 live roaches

A downtown Lawrence restaurant voluntarily closed its doors earlier this month after a health inspector discovered nearly 100 live roaches on the premises.

Yokohama SushiA day later, Yokohama Sushi, 811 New Hampshire St., reopened. For area diners unfamiliar with the inspection process, it may seem like a fast turnaround, but a Kansas Department of Agriculture spokesperson called it a typical timeline.

On May 2, a restaurant inspection at Yokohama discovered the roaches, explained Heather Lansdowne, a spokesperson for the KDA. The next day, the restaurant voluntarily closed its doors and underwent a follow-up inspection, which found additional live roaches, though fewer in number. A pest control company was called in to treat the restaurant for the insects, caulking and baiting areas around water lines, crevices, cracks and near equipment, according to the inspector’s report. A second follow-up inspection later that day discovered no roaches, and the restaurant was listed back in compliance with health codes, the report says.

The restaurant reopened May 4.

A Yokohama representative did not return phone calls from the Journal-World seeking comment for this story.

When asked whether a single day of work was enough to clear up a significant roach problem and make a restaurant sanitary for its customers, Lansdowne said the restaurant followed a usual pattern based on the department’s standards.

‘Maybe you’re not used to spicy food’ SinCity Thai shut down after customers complain of foodborne illness

SinCity Thai Restaurant was shut down after receiving several customer complaints of foodborne illness. 

SinCity ThaiAccording to the complaint filed May 10, three customers that ate the beef pad thai and chicken pad thai reported diarrhea hours later. 

13 Action News spoke to the manager of SinCity Thai, Unchanlee Karnchai, who said the customers may not be used to the spicy food. 

“It could be the food or because they cannot handle the spicy food,” said Karnchai. 

After the complaints, the Southern Nevada Health District went in to investigate. 

In a report, they found multiple violations, including, a sanitizer bucket that was originally on the floor was moved near a food prep area next to a cutting board and green onions. 

They also found multiple food that was left at room temperature. Including, thawing beef that sit next to dirty dishes and waste. 

“Employees hadn’t been trained on what they had to do that day,” Karnchai explained. 

There were also several employee violations, including, employees not washing their hands and the kitchen hand sink did not have soap or paper towels. 

Honey Pig fails second health inspection this year

In Georgia, USA, why not have Gwinnett County’s most popular Korean barbecue named Honey Pig, and fail its second health inspection this year. 

honey.pig
Honey Pig, located at 3473 Old Norcross Road in Duluth
, received a 53/U during its Wednesday inspection. It was the same score health inspectors gave it during a January evaluation.

During Wednesday’s inspection, officials noted “multiple foods not covered in walk in cooler,” improperly cooling radish soup and unlabeled spices. According to the inspection report, “large food service containers” were also stored outside the restaurant and a hand-washing sink was “gushing water at the seams.”

Daisy_DukesWednesday’s failure was the second straight on a routine inspection for Honey Pig, which bills itself as “Atlanta’s No. 1 Korean barbecue restaurant” and allows diners to cook their own meals on tabletop grills. During the restaurant’s failed January 19 inspection, officials reportedly saw a live spider crawling in dried soup stock. Points were also taken off for potential contamination of raw beef. The restaurant scored a 96/A on the follow-up to that inspection.

Canadians say: Update to the Vibrio parahamolyticus guideline

This notice provides an update to the information published on October 20, 2015 regarding the management of the risks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) in raw oysters. Effective immediately, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is expanding the scope of application of the bacteriological guideline for Vp in live oysters.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish. (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun) [PNG Merlin Archive]

The interim bacteriological guideline for Vp, found in the CFIA’s Fish Products Standards and Methods Manual will now apply to all live oysters (end product), whether domestically produced or imported. This means that no sample can exceed 100 MPN per gram in each of five subsamples.

Importers, domestic processors and exporters are responsible for ensuring that fish and seafood products meet all applicable regulatory requirements, including the regulations made under the authority of the Fish Inspection Act.

Quality Management Program Importers (QMPI) and fish processing establishments must outline and implement controls to ensure that any significant health and safety hazards identified are controlled for fish imported into Canada, or processed in Canada.

Federally registered establishments must review their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan to ensure that the measures, as a whole, to eliminate or reduce Vp to an acceptable level are effective in ensuring the live oysters meet the updated Vp guideline. Until the review of the HACCP plan is completed and the measures are determined to be effective, additional interim measures (e.g. lot by lot testing of the oysters) are necessary to ensure compliance. Interim measures must be initiated when conditions are favourable for Vp (identified as water or oyster meat temperature at point of harvest equal to or greater than 15°C or testing of Vp in oysters at the harvest area showing persistent levels at or near 100 Vp MPN/g).

Importers must ensure that the live oysters they import meet Canadian regulatory requirements, including the updated Vp guideline. They must also verify that the oysters have been harvested, handled, stored and conveyed in a manner which adequately manages the risk of Vp.

QMPI licence holders that import live oysters must review and amend their QMPI plan. This will ensure that effective controls are in place so that the oysters comply with the updated Vp guideline.

The CFIA will continue to verify that appropriate controls for Vp in oysters have been implemented; through its regular activities at federally registered processing establishments and with importers using inspections, audits and sampling and testing.

Health Canada is reviewing available Vp data, which may result in further revision to the interim guideline. Until this review is completed, the CFIA will apply the interim guideline to all live oysters sold in Canada, in order to continue to protect consumers. 

The CFIA is preparing additional guidance to assist industry in understanding and managing the Vp hazard.  This information will be available on CFIA’s website.  Industry is encouraged to subscribe to the e-mail notification service to be notified when CFIA manuals are updated.