Cost-benefit analysis for USDA FSIS’ implementation of its non-O157 STEC testing

FSIS has estimated the cost to the regulated industry and FSIS associated with the implementation of its non-O157 STEC testing on beef manufacturing trimmings, based on Agency testing data and information collected through the FSIS 2013 Pathogen Controls in Beef Operations Survey.

cost.benefitWe also assessed the benefits associated with the new testing. In addition, we estimated the cost and examined benefits of expanding its non- O157 STEC testing to ground beef and ground beef components other than beef manufacturing trimmings. The Agency concludes that the costs for sampling and testing are low and believes that the benefits justify the costs. However, FSIS was not able to quantify the benefits of expanding the testing.

Remember that Oregon strawberry outbreak? E. coli in deer feces

White-tailed deer are an important reservoir for pathogens that can contribute a large portion of microbial pollution in fragmented agricultural and forest landscapes. The scarcity of experimental data on survival of microorganisms in and release from deer feces makes prediction of their fate and transport less reliable and development of efficient strategies for environment protection more difficult.

deerdropThe goal of this study was to estimate parameters for modeling Escherichia coli survival in and release from deer (Odocoileus virginianus) feces. Our objectives were as follows: (i) to measure survival of E. coli in deer pellets at different temperatures, (ii) to measure kinetics of E. coli release from deer pellets at different rainfall intensities, and (iii) to estimate parameters of models describing survival and release of microorganisms from deer feces. Laboratory experiments were conducted to study E. coli survival in deer pellets at three temperatures and to estimate parameters of Chick’s exponential model with temperature correction based on the Arrhenius equation.

Kinetics of E. coli release from deer pellets were measured at two rainfall intensities and used to derive the parameters of Bradford-Schijven model of bacterial release. The results showed that parameters of the survival and release models obtained for E. coli in this study substantially differed from those obtained by using other source materials, e.g., feces of domestic animals and manures. This emphasizes the necessity of comprehensive studies of survival of naturally occurring populations of microorganisms in and release from wildlife animal feces in order to achieve better predictions of microbial fate and transport in fragmented agricultural and forest landscapes.

 Escherichia. coli survival in, and release from, white-tailed deer feces

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. February 2015 vol. 81 no. 3 1168-1176

Andrey K. Guber, Jessica Fry, Rebecca L. Ives and Joan B. Rose; M. W. Griffiths, Editor

http://aem.asm.org/content/81/3/1168.abstract?etoc

e.coli.O157.strawberry

Rare amino acid influences E. coli O157 infection

Scientists have discovered how a rare amino-acid in humans influences the behavior of the E.coli bacterium.

e.coliO157H7Most of the thousands of strains of E. coli are harmless, with many being a normal part of the gut flora in healthy people, however some strains can cause illness in humans.

Among the most well-known is E. coli O157, typically acquired via contaminated food, which causes severe diarrhea and can lead to kidney damage.

The O157 strain only infects the gut so scientists at the University of Glasgow wanted to know what stopped it from spreading to other parts of the body.

The team led by Dr Andrew Roe, and PhD student James Connolly of the Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation, analyzed the genome sequence of 1,500 strains of E. coli.

They wanted to see how the genes of the bug, which enable it to attach to and infect a host, responded to varying concentrations of D-Serine, an amino-acid produced in the brain where it plays a role in nerve signaling.

They found that E. coli O157 is unable to attach itself to host tissue in high concentrations of D-Serine. Other strains, such as those that cause meningitis, thrive in the presence of the amino-acid.

The discovery, published in the ISME Journal, opens up the possibility of altering the diet to increase levels of D-Serine to prevent E. coli O157 infection or perhaps treat it.

Dr Andrew Roe, senior lecturer, said: “This work provides new insights into the infection process with the aim of developing compounds that block such bugs from attaching to the host.

“With many strains of E. coli developing resistance to traditional antibiotics, such approaches are urgently needed.

“If we can disarm such bacteria rather than killing them it puts less pressure on the bacteria to evolve into something that is resistant to treatment.”

e.coli.magnifiedE. coli O157 doesn’t normally live in humans, instead residing in the gut of cattle. Eating contaminated food is the most common cause of infection but it can also be picked up in the environment, through contact with the bacteria in fields, for example.

The genetic variety between strains of E. coli is huge, with around 2,000 ‘core’ genes and 18,000 genes that vary between strains. Different strains are able to attach themselves to different tissues, causing a range of different infections.

The bacterium can cause a wide range of infections including those of the gut, bladder, bloodstream and brain. These can be very common, for example, over half of all women suffer from E. coli associated bladder infections at some point in their lives.

 

The host metabolite D-serine contributes to bacterial niche specificity through gene selection

ISME Journal [ahead of print]

James PR Connolly, Robert J Goldstone, Karl Burgess, Richard J Cogdell, Scott A Beatson, Waldemar Vollmer, David GE Smith, and Andrew J Roe

http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ismej2014242a.html

Abstract

Escherichia coli comprise a diverse array of both commensals and niche-specific pathotypes. The ability to cause disease results from both carriage of specific virulence factors and regulatory control of these via environmental stimuli. Moreover, host metabolites further refine the response of bacteria to their environment and can dramatically affect the outcome of the host–pathogen interaction. Here, we demonstrate that the host metabolite, D-serine, selectively affects gene expression in E. coli O157:H7. Transcriptomic profiling showed exposure to D-serine results in activation of the SOS response and suppresses expression of the Type 3 Secretion System (T3SS) used to attach to host cells. We also show that concurrent carriage of both the D-serine tolerance locus (dsdCXA) and the locus of enterocyte effacement pathogenicity island encoding a T3SS is extremely rare, a genotype that we attribute to an ‘evolutionary incompatibility’ between the two loci. This study demonstrates the importance of co-operation between both core and pathogenic genetic elements in defining niche specificity.

Family tree: Genomic diversity and virulence profiles of historical E. coli O157 strains

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is, to date, the major E. coli serotype causing food-borne human disease worldwide. Strains of O157 with other H antigens also have been recovered.

e.coli.O157.death.jul.14We analyzed a collection of historic O157 strains (n = 400) isolated in the late 1980s to early 1990s in the United States. Strains were predominantly serotype O157:H7 (55%), and various O157:non-H7 (41%) serotypes were not previously reported regarding their pathogenic potential.

Although lacking Shiga toxin (stx) and eae genes, serotypes O157:H1, O157:H2, O157:H11, O157:H42, and O157:H43 carried several virulence factors (iha, terD, and hlyA) also found in virulent serotype E. coli O157:H7.

Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) showed the O157 serogroup was diverse, with strains with the same H type clustering together closely. Among non-H7 isolates, serotype O157:H43 was highly prevalent (65%) and carried important enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) virulence markers (iha, terD, hlyA, and espP).

Owen Carrignan.e.coli.O157Isolates from two particular H types, H2 and H11, among the most commonly found non-O157 EHEC serotypes (O26:H11, O111:H11, O103:H2/H11, and O45:H2), unexpectedly clustered more closely with O157:H7 than other H types and carried several virulence genes.

This suggests an early divergence of the O157 serogroup to clades with different pathogenic potentials. The appearance of important EHEC virulence markers in closely related H types suggests their virulence potential and suggests further monitoring of those serotypes not implicated in severe illness thus far.

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 81, Issue 2, January 2015, Pages 569-577

L. Rump, N. Gonzalez-Escalona, W. Ju, F. Wang, G. Cao, S. Meng, and J. Meng

http://aem.asm.org/content/81/2/569.abstract?etoc

E. coli can get airborne: Buffer zone guidelines may be inadequate to protect produce from feedlot contamination

Escherichia coli O157:H7 can spread, likely airborne, more than one tenth mile downwind from a cattle feedlot onto nearby produce, according to a paper published ahead of print in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

lettuce.skull.noroThe high percentages of leafy greens contaminated with E. coli suggest great risk for planting fresh produce 180 m [590 feet] or less from a feedlot,” the investigators write. That suggests that current buffer zone guidelines of 120 meters [400 feet] from a feedlot may be inadequate. This is the first comprehensive and long-term study of its kind, says first author Elaine D. Berry, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, in Clay Center, Nebraska.

In the study, the investigators sampled leafy greens growing in nine plots; three each at 60, 120, and 180 meters downwind from the cattle feedlot at the research center, over a two year period. The rate of contamination with the pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 declined with distance from an average of 3.5 percent of samples per plot at 60 meters to 1.8 percent at 180 meters.

The researchers sampled the produce six times between June and September of each year. They also sampled the feedlot surface manure in 10 feedlot pens for E. coli O157:H7, finding it in an average of 71.7 to 73.3 percent of samples in 2012 and 2011, respectively.  Moreover, the study’s long-term nature enabled sampling under a greater diversity of weather conditions.

A variety of conditions can affect the level of contamination, says Berry. For example, following a period of high cattle management activity when the feedlot was dry and dusty, including removal of around 300 head of cattle for shipping, the rate of total non-pathogenic E. coli-contaminated samples per plot at 180 meters shot up to 92.2 percent.

lettuceConversely, total E. coli-positive leafy green samples were notably lower on one August sample date than on any other date, a finding the investigators attribute to cleaning and removal of feedlot surface manure from the nearby pens a few weeks earlier.

The investigators also found E. coli in air samples at 180 meters from the feedlot, though the instruments were not sensitive enough to pick up E. coli O157:H7. However, the presence of E. coli in the air samples serves as a surrogate for E. coli O157:H7, demonstrating that the pathogen may also be transmitted in this manner, says Berry. The highest levels of contamination found on leafy greens, in August and September of 2012, followed several weeks of very little rainfall and several days of high temperatures, conditions that appear to abet airborne transport of bacteria from the feedlot, she says.

Limitations of the research include that it was conducted only in one state—Nebraska, which is not a produce growing state. Nonetheless, Berry says that the location was a reasonable model for some of the U.S.’s major produce growing regions, such as California’s Central Coast, as winds there can blow almost as hard as in Nebraska, and both places can have dry summers, which are conducive to airborne transport of bacteria.

The impetus for conducting the research was the rising incidence of foodborne disease outbreaks caused by contamination of fresh produce, says Berry.

Whole Foods faces tremendous risk in connection with the death of an 8 year-old from E. coli O157:H7 infection

Whole Foods trumps food porn over food safety.

whole.foodsThe parents of Joshua Kaye, an 8 year-old boy from Braintree, Massachusetts who died on July 7, 2014, after contracting an E. coli O157:H7 infection that turned into hemolytic uremic syndrome, have filed suit against Whole Foods, the retail store from which they allege to have purchased the contaminated meat, and Rain Crow Ranch, a Missouri company that allegedly produced and sold the meat to Whole Foods. Joshua Kaye was one of three Massachusetts residents known to contract E. coli between June 13 and June 25, 2014, prompting an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (“FSIS”), in conjunction with the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (“CDC”) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. FSIS, which began its investigation on June 25, 2014, purportedly initially linked the E. coli contamination to Whole Foods stores in Newton and South Weymouth, Massachusetts, through epidemiological evidence.

FSIS reports that laboratory testing performed on August 13, 2014, presumably Pulsed-field Gel Electrophoresis (“PFGE”), provided a link between the three Massachusetts cases and the Whole Foods markets. On August 15, 2014, Whole Foods initiated the voluntary recall of 368 pounds of ground beef products from its two stores.

Joshua Kaye’s father, Andrew Kaye, told New England Cable News (“NECN”) that DNA samples had linked their son to the E. coli outbreak. Furthermore, Plaintiffs’ Complaint asserts that a stool sample taken from Joshua Kaye resulted in an E. coli 0157:H7 positive culture that “identically matched the Whole Foods Market E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak strain.” Both Whole Foods and Rain Crow Ranch have denied any clear link between the Massachusetts E. coli illnesses and their respective businesses.

Plaintiffs have asserted claims against Whole Foods for: (1) Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability; (2) Breach of Warranty in Violation of M.G.L. ch. 93A; (3) Breach of M.G.L. ch. 93A; (4) Negligence; (5) Gross Negligence and Reckless Conduct; (6) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; (7) Conscious Pain and Suffering; (8) Wrongful Death; and (9) Punitive Damages.

What Does It Mean for Whole Foods? As a non-manufacturing product seller, Whole Foods appears to have pass-through liability for the sale of contaminated beef. On that basis, we expect Whole Foods to tender the defense and indemnification of their claim to Rain Crow Ranch. Whole Foods’ success in getting their tender accepted, however, will depend upon the terms of their contract with Rain Crow Ranch for the purchase of ground beef, as well as their role, if any, in the production process in advance of sale. For instance, if Whole Foods’ handling or processing of the subject beef caused or contributed to the alleged E. coli contamination, its independent negligence would preclude a common law indemnification claim and potentially impede a claim for contractual indemnity.

Further, Whole Foods’ tender will be complicated, by Plaintiffs’ assertion of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A claims (“93A”). 93A provides a cause of action for unfair or deceptive practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce. Entities found to have breached 93A can be subject to double or treble damages. Plaintiffs have asserted two separate 93A claims against Whole Foods: (1) for the sale of contaminated meat in contradiction to its marketing of the product as safe; and (2) for failing to make a reasonable offer of settlement in response to Plaintiffs’ 93A demand letter. The latter 93A claim presumably falls outside the bounds of any indemnification provision contained within a purchase agreement entered into by the defendants relative to the subject beef, because it arises from acts independent of the sale of Rain Crow Ranch’s product.

Lessons learned from a textbook outbreak: EHEC-O157:H7 infections associated with the consumption of raw meat products, June 2012, Limburg, Belgium

On 5 June 2012 several enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, EHEC, O157:H7 infections were reported to the public health authorities of Limburg.

communicationMethods

We performed a case-control study, a trace back/forward investigation and compared strains isolated from human cases and food samples. A case was defined as anyone with a laboratory-confirmed E. coli O157:H7-infection in North-East Limburg from May 30 2012 till July 15 2012. Family members with bloody diarrhea were also included as cases. E. coli O157 was isolated by culture and the presence of the virulence genes was verified using (q)PCR. Isolates were genotyped and compared by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and insertion sequence 629-printing (IS629-printing).

Results

The outbreak involved 24 cases, of which 17 were laboratory-confirmed. Five cases developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) and fifteen were hospitalized. Cases reported a significantly higher consumption of “steak tartare”, a raw meat product (OR 48.12; 95% CI; 5.62- 416.01). Cases were also more likely to buy meat-products at certain butcheries (OR 11.67; 95% CI; 1.41 – 96.49). PFGE and IS629-printing demonstrated that the vtx1a vtx2a eae ehxA positive EHEC O157:H7 strains isolated from three meat products and all seventeen human stool samples were identical. In a slaughterhouse, identified by the trace-back investigation, a carcass infected with a different EHEC strain was found and confiscated.

Conclusion

We present a well described and effectively investigated foodborne outbreak associated with meat products. Our main recommendations are the facilitation and acceleration of the outbreak detection and the development of a communication plan to reaches all persons at risk. 

Archives of Public Health, 2014, 72:44

http://www.archpublichealth.com/content/pdf/2049-3258-72-44.pdf

Abstract (provisional)

9 sickened with E. coli O157 in Oct. 2013 linked to imported cucumbers served at Jimmy John’s in Denver

I’m sure university departmental meetings across the U.S. continue to chomp down on catered Jimmy John’s sandwiches, even though they have a terrible food safety record:

cucumber282 sick from Norovirus in Garden City, Kansas, in 2014;

29 sick from E. coli O26 on clover sprouts in early 2012; and,

140 sick from Salmonella on alfalfa sprouts in 2011.

Now, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment reports that in Oct. 2013, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 sickened nine people, including 1 probable case and 8 laboratory-confirmed cases with matching pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multiple-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) patterns from E. coli O157:H7 isolated from stool.

All 9 cases reported eating sandwiches at Denver-area Jimmy John’s locations in early October 2013. The outbreak investigation consisted of case finding and interviews, 2 separate case-control studies, environmental investigations, produce traceback, and laboratory testing.

348sThe results of this investigation indicate that consumption of Jimmy John’s sandwiches containing cucumbers imported from Mexico was the likely cause of the outbreak. To our knowledge, this is the first E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with cucumbers reported in the United States. Public health and food safety officials should be aware that cucumbers may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, which could cause sporadic E. coli O157:H7 infections as well as outbreaks. As of the date of this report, no other cases of E. coli O157:H7 with the PFGE pattern combination seen in this outbreak were reported in Colorado. 

Can E. coli O157:H7 blow from feedlots to lettuce or spinach fields? (Yes) Does it matter? (Probably)

The impact of proximity to a beef cattle feedlot on E. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy greens was examined. In each of two years, leafy greens were planted to nine plots located 60, 120, and 180 meters from a cattle feedlot (3 plots each distance).

cattle.lettuceLeafy greens (270) and feedlot manure samples (100) were collected six different times from June to September in each year. Both E. coli O157:H7 and total E. coli were recovered from leafy greens at all plot distances.

E. coli O157:H7 was recovered from 3.5% of leafy green samples per plot at 60 meters, which was higher (P < 0.05) than the 1.8% of positive samples per plot at 180 meters, indicating a decrease in contamination as distance from the feedlot was increased. Although E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered from air samples at any distance, total E. coli was recovered from air samples at the feedlot edge and all plot distances, indicating that airborne transport of the pathogen can occur.

Results suggest that risk for airborne transport of E. coli O157:H7 from cattle production is increased when cattle pen surfaces are very dry, and when this situation is combined with cattle management or cattle behaviors that generate airborne dust.

cow.poop2__1.storyCurrent leafy green field distance guidelines of 120 meters (400 feet) may not be adequate to limit the transmission of E. coli O157:H7 to produce crops planted near concentrated animal feeding operations. Additional research is needed to determine safe set-back distances between cattle feedlots and crop production that will reduce fresh produce contamination.

Effect of Proximity to a Cattle Feedlot on Escherichia coli O157:H7 Contamination of Leafy Greens and Evaluation of the Potential for Airborne Transmission

01.dec.14

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Elaine D. Berry, James E. Wells, James L. Bono, Bryan L. Woodbury, Norasak Kalchayanand, Keri N. Norman, Trevor V. Suslow, Gabriela López-Velasco and Patricia D. Millner

http://aem.asm.org/content/early/2014/11/24/AEM.02998-14.abstract

Cargill ground beef recalled after E. coli O157 positive in Western Canada

Cargill Meat Solutions (Est. 700) is recalling Your Fresh Market brand ground beef products from the marketplace due to possible E. coli O157 contamination.  Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

e.coli.O157.cargill.dec.14The following products have been sold at Walmart stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Recalled products

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Extra Lean Ground Beef Sirloin

Size: 475g                        

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28

UPC: 6 05388 18363 7

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Extra Lean Ground Beef         

Size: 475g                            

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28

UPC: 6 05388 18369 9

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Medium Ground Beef 

Size: 475g                            

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28

UPC: 6 05388 18365 1

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Lean Ground Beef       

Size: 475g                            

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28 and 2014.NO.29

UPC: 6 05388 18376 7

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Extra Lean Ground Beef         

Size: 900 g               

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28

UPC: 6 05388 18372 9

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Lean Ground Beef       

Size: 900 g               

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28

UPC: 6 05388 18378 1

Brand Name: Your Fresh Market

Common Name: Lean Ground Beef       

Size: 1.6 kg             

Code(s) on Product:            Best Before 2014.NO.28 and 2014.NO.29

UPC: 6 05388 18379 8

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with E. coli O157 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.

This recall was triggered by test results. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (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 these products.