152 sick with Salmonella from whole pigs: Kapowsin Meats expands recall of pork product

This release is being reissued to expand the August 13, 2015 recall to include additional products. Details of this release were also updated to reflect a change in poundage, epidemiological informational and distribution area.

pig.roast.appleKapowsin Meats, a Graham, Wash. establishment, is recalling approximately 523,380 pounds of pork products that may be contaminated with Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

FSIS has been conducting intensified sampling at Kapowsin Meats while this establishment took steps to address sanitary conditions at their facility after the original recall on August 13, 2015. Sampling revealed positive results for Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- on Whole Hogs for Barbeque, associated pork products and throughout the establishment. FSIS has deemed sanitary improvement efforts made by the Kapowsin Meats insufficient, and the scope of this recall has been expanded to include all products associated with contaminated source material. The establishment has voluntarily suspended operations.

The whole hogs and associated items were produced on various dates between April 18, 2015 and August 26, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:

Varying weights of boxed/bagged Whole Hogs for Barbeque

Varying weights of boxed/bagged fabricated pork products including various pork offal products, pork blood and pork trim. 

The product subject to recall bears the establishment number “Est. 1628” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The product was shipped to various individuals, retail locations, institutions, and distributors in Alaska, Oregon and Washington.        

On July 15, 2015, the Washington State Department of Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between whole hogs for barbeque and pork products from Kapowsin Meats and these illnesses. Traceback investigation has identified 36 case-patients who consumed whole hogs for barbeque or pork products from this establishment prior to illness onset. These illnesses are part of a larger illness investigation. Based on epidemiological evidence, 152 case-patients have been identified in Washington with illness onset dates ranging from April 25, 2015 to August 12, 2015. FSIS continues to work with our public health partners on this ongoing investigation.                        

pig.sexConsumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them, and should throw them away or return the products to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

 FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume pork and whole hogs for barbeque that have been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F with a three minute rest time. The only way to confirm that whole hogs for barbeque are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ. For whole hogs for barbeque make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact John Anderson, Owner, at (253) 847-1777.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

587 sick: CDC and FDA try to contain cyclosporiasis outbreak

As the numbers of those sickened with cyclosporiasis reached 495 in the U.S. and 92 in Canada, the only lead appears to be cilantro imported from Mexico.

cilantroCyclospora is a microscopic single-celled parasite that is passed in people’s feces. If it comes in contact with food or water, it can infect the people who consume it. This causes an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.

Previous foodborne illness outbreaks of Cyclospora, in Canada and U.S. have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as pre-packaged salad mix, basil, cilantro, berries, mesclun lettuce and snow peas.

To date, no multi-jurisdictional outbreaks have been linked to produce grown in Canada.

Soil may protect onions from E. coli

Early research indicates one of the best protections for onions against irrigation water-borne bacteria, such as E. coli, may be the soil itself.

onionThat research is being conducted at the Malheur Experiment Station by Joy Waite-Cusic, assistant professor of Food Safety Systems at Oregon State University.

Onions in the research plot have been irrigated with water inoculated with E. coli, some to extreme highs, Waite-Cusic said. The E. coli was applied during the last irrigation. In the sample of onions taken from the plots, the majority of them did not test positive for the bacteria, Waite-Cusic said.

In one of the latest samplings, onions were harvested one afternoon, put in bags and tested the next morning. Only 16 out of 150 onions tested positive for E. coli, Waite-Cusic said, and this from rows where the irrigation water had been artificially inoculated with 100,000 colony-forming units of generic E. coli for 100 milliliters of water.

“The soil does a good job of filtering,” experiment station superintendent Clint Shock said.

Testing showed that there was less E. coli as the water moved from the furrow or drop tape through the soil to the onion bulb.

We’re just hosts on a viral planet: Hepatitis A in seals version

Scientists in the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have discovered a new virus in seals that is the closest known relative of the human hepatitis A virus. The finding provides new clues on the emergence of hepatitis A. The research appears in the July/August issue of mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

seal.ball“Until now, we didn’t know that hepatitis A had any close relatives, and we thought that only humans and other primates could be infected by such viruses,” said lead author Simon Anthony, assistant professor of Epidemiology. “Our findings show that these so-called ‘hepatoviruses’ are not in fact restricted to primates, and suggest that many more may also exist in other wildlife species.”

Hepatitis A viral infection, which impacts 1.4 million people worldwide annually, can cause mild to severe illness. It is a highly contagious disease that is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or through consumption of food or water. “Our data suggest that hepatitis A and this new virus share a common ancestor, which means that a spillover event must have occurred at some point in the past,” said Anthony. “It raises the question of whether hepatitis A originated in animals, like many other viruses that are now adapted to humans.”

The researchers discovered the new virus while investigating a deadly strain of avian influenza that killed over 150 harbor seals off the coast of New England in 2011. In an effort to determine what viruses might co-occur with influenza, researchers performed deep sequencing of all the viruses present in three of the marine mammals. They discovered a new virus that was genetically similar to hepatitis A and named it phopivirus. An analysis of additional animals living off the coast of New England (29 harbor seals, 6 harp seals and 2 grey seals) identified phopivirus in 7 more animals. The researchers say the virus appears to be fairly common in seals based on the juvenile animals examined for their study, and so far there is no evidence that it causes them any harm. However, they caution that further research is needed in mature seals, because if it acts anything like hepatitis A it might only cause disease in adults.

In the natural history of phopivirus and hepatitis A, it is unclear whether a common ancestor (virus) spilled over from humans to seals, vice versa, or from a third unrelated host that has not yet been identified. However various factors, including the fact that the virus was found in different species of seals, suggest that the virus has been present in seals for a fairly long time. The researchers next plan to look at species that have close interactions with seals to see if they can find other wildlife reservoirs of hepatitis A-like viruses. “Coyotes regularly scavenge dead seals along the coast, so it would be very interesting to examine coyotes to see if they have any similar viruses,” said Katie Pugliares, a senior biologist at the New England Aquarium in Boston who was also involved in the study. Another project might study humans who eat seal meat to see if the seal virus has ever spilled over.

The vast majority of emerging infectious diseases in humans have origins in wildlife. In recent years, scientists in the Center for Infection and Immunity led by Simon Anthony have been working with partners at the EcoHealth Alliance, University of California Davis, and others under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development’s PREDICT program to identify potential zoonotic viral threats to human health. “Our goal”, said W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology, is “to try to understand drivers of infectious disease emergence thereby enhancing pandemic preparedness.”

Whole genome sequencing: US FDA wants food companies to hand over their pathogens

Investigations into foodborne illness are being radically transformed by whole genome sequencing, which federal officials say is enabling them to identify the source of an outbreak far more quickly and prevent additional cases.

whole.genome.sequencingPreviously, samples from sick patients were sent to state and federal labs, where disease detectives ran tests to see if the infections were caused by the same bug. When enough matches emerged, typically a dozen or so, epidemiologists interviewed sick people, looking for a common food that was causing the outbreak.

But the testing wasn’t definitive, and linking one case to another took time. “While all of this was going on, more contaminated product was getting out into the public,” said Dr. Steven Musser, deputy director for scientific operations at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Now, the FDA is building a network of state and federal labs equipped to map out the exact DNA sequence of strains of Listeria, Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens found in sick patients. These sequences are then uploaded to a public database housed at the National Institutes of Health. The technology can not only differentiate a pathogen from multiple related species, but can also show slight mutations within the same strain.

At the same time, the FDA has begun sequencing pathogens found during routine plant inspections and adding those to the database. One benefit of that, they say, is being able to quickly connect patients within an outbreak. Another is the potential to identify the source of an outbreak after just a few patients fall ill, shortening the time it takes to get tainted food off store shelves.

To increase the odds of a match, the FDA wants manufacturers to contribute samples of pathogens found during their own plant inspections. Some contamination is common in food plants. When it is found in the manufacturing facility, but not in food products, companies generally are required only to clean it up without recalling products.

But eliminating pathogens is tough, and convincing companies to offer up potentially incriminating evidence has been a hard sell, according to interviews with public health officials, food manufacturers and experts on recalls.


Mass. closes oyster beds on Martha’s Vineyard after three sickened

With west coast growers in B.C. fuming about a Canadian Food Inspection Agency recall of oysters, east coast Massachusetts has ordered closed an area of oyster beds in Martha’s Vineyard’s Katama Bay after three people became sick from consuming raw oysters from the area.

Raw oystersThe Katama Bay oyster beds will be closed for one week, DPH officials said.

The department confirmed three cases of vibrio — a bacteria that causes watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills for up to three days when ingested — linked to oysters in the area.

 If additional cases of vibrio are confirmed, DPH said, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could enforce an extended closure of the beds, located between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick Island.


Bugs at home: Citizen science effort highlights how little we know about invisible life

We got 6-year-old Sorenne a microscope and a telescope (although I haven’t set them up yet) so she can begin to appreciate the world, big and small.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMatt Shipman of North Carolina State University writes that in a new paper, scientists are announcing the discovery of thousands of unidentified species living in and around homes in the United States. The work relied on advanced technologies and scientific expertise from multiple disciplines, but none of it would have been possible without one critical resource – a group of non-scientists who wanted to be part of making a discovery.

The paper, published Aug. 26 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, comes out of a project called the Wild Life of Our Homes, led by Rob Dunn of NC State University and Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“When we started this project, we wanted to see what invisible lifeforms were sharing our homes,” Dunn says. “Which species of fungi and bacteria live with us? And what’s responsible for determining which species live in which homes? No one really knew.

“But we also wanted to devise a study that stirred the public imagination, and made the public a meaningful part of the scientific process,” Dunn says.

To that end, the research team, called Your Wild Life, created an online campaign to recruit study participants, who were asked to swab the inside and outside of their front doors and send those samples in for analysis. As a result, the Aug. 26 paper includes samples from more than 1,100 homes across the United States.

The samples, analyzed by Noah Fierer’s team at Colorado, revealed a staggering amount of data: they found genetic traces of more than 72,000 taxa of fungi and more than 125,000 taxa of bacteria.

“We found tens of thousands of bacteria that no one knows anything about – they don’t even have names,” Dunn says. Including hundreds of “mystery” bacteria that were more common inside homes than outside. To prioritize the data for analysis, the researchers decided to focus on those bacteria and fungi found inside people’s homes.

And as they sifted through the mountain of data, there were surprises. For example, while the fungi found inside a home varied widely from region to region, bacteria really didn’t. And the setting of a home within a region didn’t seem to influence bacteria in a home either: a rural home from one part of the country could very likely have similar populations of bacteria to an urban home thousands of miles away. But there were factors that appeared to influence bacterial biodiversity.

WILDLIFE-HEADER-720x405Homes that had a cat appeared to favor specific bacteria. Homes with dogs appeared to favor other bacteria. And the types of bacteria found in a home were also influenced by the ratio of men to women in a home.

“We can tell if there are more men than women in a home, for example, because those homes have more armpit bacteria,” Dunn says. “Seriously.”

“We’re just starting to look at what lives in our homes,” Dunn says. “These findings are not an exhaustive answer, they’re a first step – and the study highlights just how much we don’t know.

“But it does give us a baseline understanding of bacterial biodiversity that can inform future research.”

“We’re now starting to let study participants know what we’ve found,” says Holly Menninger, co-author of the paper and director of public science in NC State’s College of Sciences. “And anyone who’s interested can go through a data visualization we’ve done of the findings. We want to bring the public into the process of steering future research on this. What questions do people have? And how can science help us answer those questions?”

“This highlights the value of citizen science,” Dunn says. “We couldn’t have done this research if we hadn’t been able to work with more than a thousand people who wanted to help us shed light on a scientific mystery.”

Foodborne illness in Denmark

I have a soft spot for the Danes. Spending five summers hammering nails with a couple of Danish homebuilders in Ontario taught me the value of being well-read and beer at morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon coffee. My friend John Kierkegaard would say, the beer is nice, but the work, it isn’t really so good.

quotes-1600-900-wallpaperWhen I went to Copenhagen for a scientific meeting, sure enough, there was beer at morning coffee.

The Technical University of Denmark reports that almost every other registered salmonella infection in Denmark in 2014 was brought back by Danes travelling overseas. Travel thus remains the largest cause of salmonella infections. An outbreak of salmonella from Danish eggs was also recorded in 2014, which is the first time in five years and illness was again attributed Danish chicken meat.

These are some of the findings presented in the annual report on the occurrence of diseases that can be transmitted from animals and food to humans. The report was prepared by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, in cooperation with Statens Serum Institut, the national institute of public health, and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

In 2014 a total of 1,122 salmonella infections were reported among Danes, which is equivalent to 19.9 infected cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The figure is in line with the previous year when a historically low number of Danes was infected with salmonella.

In all, 48% became ill with salmonella after travelling overseas in 2014. Most of those who returned home with a travel-related infection had been to Thailand (17.5%), Turkey (15.4%) and Spain (6.4%).

Thus, foreign travel is still the largest cause of salmonella infections among Danes.

tasting-midtfyns-jule-stoutIn the annual source account which the National Food Institute calculates, salmonella infections were attributed Danish chicken meat for the first time since 2011. In total 2% of the infections were estimated to be attributed this source.

“For two decades Danish producers, authorities and researchers have successfully worked hard to make fresh chicken salmonella-free. It is not allowed to sell fresh meat from Danish chickens if the flock is positive for salmonella. There will always be a small risk that positive fresh meat goes under the surveillance radar and makes its way to store refrigerators. This is why it is important to continue to have a close monitoring,” Senior Academic Officer Birgitte Helwigh from the National Food Institute says.

The first salmonella outbreak from Danish eggs for five years has also been registered in 2014. “It has been five years since we last had a foodborne outbreak caused by Danish eggs. The outbreak was associated with an outbreak of acute salmonella illness in the flock, which is extremely rare. The results show how important it is that producers and authorities continue to focus on maintaining the low incidence of salmonella in the egg production,” says Birgitte Helwigh says.

Danish pork was the food source associated with the most infections among persons infected in Denmark. Overall 15% of the reported illness cases were attributed to Danish pork. There were three outbreaks where Danish pork was registered as the source of infection, which contributed 4.6% of the cases.

Approximately one fifth of all salmonella cases in Denmark were not attributed to a specific food source. The reason may be that the cases were caused by foods which were not included in the salmonella source account, e.g. fruit and vegetables, or other sources of infection such as contact with livestock and pets.

With 3,782 cases registered in 2014, campylobacter still causes the most cases of foodborne bacterial illnesses in Denmark. In 2014 a total of 92 listeria infections were registered, which is an increase of 84% compared to the year before. The increase is mainly due to an outbreak in “rullepølse” (a Danish cold cut ready-to-eat speciality) with 41 reported cases.

In 2014, a total of 60 foodborne disease outbreaks were registered compared with 74 outbreaks the year before. An outbreak is when several people become sick from the same food source. As in previous years, norovirus caused the most outbreaks (40%). These outbreaks usually take place in restaurants, where a total of 363 people were infected in 24 of the recorded outbreaks.

UK national burger day: Idiocy on how to prepare and serve burgers safely

The Brits are forever complicating things.

barfblog.Stick It InAnd they’re supposed to be science-based, when they’re just rhetoric-based (with that charming but difficult to understand British accent; don’t get me started on Wales).

For National Burger Day, Big Hospitality provides 750 words of advice on what controls can be put in place to ensure that diners are not put at risk from the serving of pink or rare burgers.

It’s hard to blame this restaurant rag when the science-based UK government authority barfs out the same advice.

Color is a lousy indicator.

Stick it in: use a thermometer.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175

Watch NFL linebacker Brian Cushing puke an endless stream of vomit

In hockey coaching camp, we’re told, the old school ways of making kids skate until they puke is a no-no.

I agree.

Apparently, the concussion-free National Football League hasn’t gotten that message, as Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing demonstrated at a NFL training camp.

Watch Cushing prove to everyone that he’s only human by puking for nearly a minute during last night’s episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks.