Minnesota firm recalls ground beef products due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination

Ranchers Legacy Meat Co., of Vadnais Heights, Minn., is recalling 1,200 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

rancher's.legacy.ground.beef.14Products subject to the recall are packaged in plastic cryovac sealed packets, and contain various weights of ground beef.  All products produced on Nov. 19, 2014 are subject to recall.

All of the following have a Package Code (use by) 12/10/2014 and bear the establishment number “Est. 40264” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Individual products include:

  • Ranchers Legacy Ground Beef Patties 77/23
  • Ranchers Legacy Ground Chuck Patties 80/20
  • Ranchers Legacy USDA Choice Ground Beef 80/20
  • Ranchers Legacy USDA Choice WD Beef Patties 80/20
  • Ranchers Legacy RD Beef Patties 80/20
  • OTG Manufacturing Chuck/Brisket RD Patties
  • Ranchers Legacy Chuck Blend Oval Beef Patties
  • Ranchers Legacy WD Chuck Blend Patties
  • Ranchers Legacy USDA Choice NAT Beef Patties 80/20
  • Ranchers Legacy NAT Beef Patties 80/20
  • Ranchers Legacy USDA Choice NAT Beef Patties 80/20
  • Ranchers Legacy Ground Chuck Blend
  • Ranchers Legacy Chuck Blend Bulk Pack NAT Patties
  • Ranchers Legacy Chuck Blend NAT Beef Patties

The product was discovered by FSIS inspection personnel during a routine inspection. Products testing positive on November 21, 2014 were held at the establishment.  The products being recalled were produced on the same day and equipment as the positive product.  Products were shipped to distributors for sales nationwide.

Color is not a reliable indicator that meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
- Fish: 145°F
- Beef, pork, lamb chops/steaks/roasts: 145°F with a three minute rest time
- ground meat: 160°F
- poultry: 165°F
- hot dogs: 160°F or steaming hot.

When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

20 years after Jack in the Box, foodborne illnesses still an issue

Darin Detwiler, a senior policy coordinator for food safety at STOP Foodborne Illness in Chicago and a graduate lecturer in regulatory affairs of the food industry at Northeastern University in Boston, writes in this op-ed:

rileyDI am deeply saddened to read about the deaths this year of a two young girls (one in Whatcom County and another in Portland,) both caused by E.coli.

My 16-month-old son, Riley Detwiler, died from E.coli during the 1993 “Jack in the Box” outbreak. He became ill just as the Whatcom County Health Department warned of a child with E. coli at his daycare. The other child ate an undercooked, contaminated hamburger at the Bellingham restaurant. After noticing symptoms, I took Riley to St. Joseph’s Hospital where, after two days, doctors decided to airlift him to Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

Doctors removed most of his intestines, destroyed by foodborne pathogens, and collaborated with experts to make him healthy. I stood every day beside Riley’s little toddler body — dwarfed by wires and tubes. He laid in a coma for weeks until I held him one last time after he died. His poisoning and death made national headlines — even gaining the attention of President Clinton.

The 1993 “Jack in the Box” outbreak sickened over 650 people and took the lives of four young children. Today, many experts refer to that event as the “9/11” for the meat industry.

A pivotal moment in history, the attacks on 9/11 killed almost 3,000 people and resulted in sweeping changes in our national concept of homeland safety and our day to day security practices. The 1993 Jack in the Box E.coli outbreak should have been a pivotal moment in food safety. However, foodborne pathogens, according to the CDC, still cause 3,000 to 5,000 Americans to die each year. Even worse is the fact that Americans’ perception of food safety has not changed dramatically since then.

Two decades ago I hoped Riley’s death would lead to important national changes in industry, federal regulations, and in American’s awareness and behaviors. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Rarely has a week gone by when I have not heard or read about a food recall, an illness or a death from foodborne pathogens. Changes may be coming, but they will have come too late for the families of nearly 50,000 Americans who have died from food pathogens since Riley’s passing.

The CDC reports that at least 48 million Americans each year become ill from contaminated food leading to at least 128,000 hospitalizations. The CDC also stresses that for every single case of foodborne illness that gets reported, 38 cases go unreported.

Clearly, only the tip of this crisis is seen and reported. The majority of those made ill or who die from food poisoning are young children with immune systems not yet capable of fighting off the variety of foodborne pathogens found in America’s food supply.

Over the last 21 years, every time I see a news report of food recalls or of new illnesses and deaths from foodborne pathogens, I think about Riley — his smiling face, his few words and his few steps, his life cut short by problems in our food supply that persist to this day. These echoes of a needless loss come with the reminder that more needs to be done to prevent tragedies like this from erasing any sense of security and safety in the foods we eat and serve to our families.

Today, foodborne illnesses and deaths are associated with not only meat, but also with many other foods once considered completely safe. Foodborne pathogens are dangerous for all consumers and especially dangerous for those most susceptible to foodborne pathogens: the very young, elderly, pregnant, and those who are immune-compromised.

We may never understand exactly how the young girls from Lynden and Portland became sick and died from presumably safe food. What we should learn from these tragic deaths is that all foods pose the threat of illness or even death and that young consumers are most at risk. Also, foodborne pathogens are spread not only by consuming contaminated food, but also through physical contact with pathogens. My son died from E. coli without ever having eaten a hamburger in his life. Hand washing and prevention of cross-contamination are important. If we as a country can keep this in mind and stay vigilant, together we can minimize the spread and the threat of foodborne pathogens. 

Tainted celery linked to Gonzales farm

An outbreak of E. coli in Minnesota has been linked to celery grown in Gonzales, but the attorney representing many of the sickened people said Thursday that he is not, yet, targeting the grower.

celery.potato.saladAccording to a recently released report by the Minnesota Department of Health, 57 people were sickened and nine were hospitalized. The victims were members of a band of the Lake Superior Chippewa called Fond du Lac. Fortunately, none of the victims developed a potentially deadly kidney condition common to the identified strain: E. coli O157:H7, according to documents obtained from the MDH.

MDH found that the most common food items were the celery and onions. Potato salad, which included celery and onions, was found to be tainted with E. coli O157:H7. Cases were also identified at events where potato salad was not served, but celery was. The celery was traced back to a field adjacent to a defunct dairy operation near Gonzales, according to the MDH.

MDH concluded that the common server at five Fond du Lac events – including an Elder picnic and a wedding ceremony – between July 1 and July 17 on the reservation was Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering. The catering business produced invoices showing the celery was purchased from Upper Lakes Foods Inc., which provided bills of lading from Pro*Act, a Vancouver produce distributor, and Salinas-based Mann Packing.

The two distributors worked together to identify the “field of interest,” and the celery was traced back to Martignoni Ranch block 5c outside of Gonzales. Aerial views of the field show it butting up against a dairy operation, which Bill Marler, the attorney for several of the victims, described as “defunct.”

But a call placed to the dairy, M and M Dairy Inc., and to Rocci Martignoni, who is listed as president of M and M, was not immediately returned Thursday. But inspectors for the California Department of Public Health took water and soil samples from the field and did not find the pathogen.

Michael Needham, chief of the Emergency Response Unit for the California Health Department, said Thursday that his understanding was that no E.coli was discovered on the farm, but added that his report is not yet complete.

Because there is no scientific smoking gun connecting the celery in the potato salad to the farm the celery was grown on, Marler said he is reluctant to file a lawsuit against Martignoni. He is, however, filing a lawsuit against the caterer.

“I don’t feel like I have enough evidence to bring a lawsuit against the celery grower,” Marler said Thursday from his Seattle office. “But that may change as discovery proceeds and new evidence surfaces.”

Was it the celery? 74 sickened with E. coli O157:H7 associated with Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering, Minnesota:, July 2014

Bill Marler has kindly made public the final health report regarding the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened at least 74 people attending a July picnic for Elders of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, in Minnesota.

CeleryOn July 17, 2014, a physician called the Minnesota Department of Health (MOH) to report that five individuals had been treated in the emergency department at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet for bloody diarrhea. All five cases had reported attending a picnic for Elders of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa on July 11that was catered by Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering. The caterer is licensed by the University of Minnesota (UMN) and operated out of a kitchen located at the Cloquet Forestry Center. MOH Environmental Health (EH), UMN EH, Fond du Lac Human Services, and MOH Tribal Relations were notified and an investigation was initiated.

Methods

Cases were identified through routine laboratory surveillance and interviews with event attendees identified through contact information provided by event hosts. A case was defined as an individual who attended an event catered by Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering and subsequently developed diarrhea (3 loose stools in a 24- hour period) that was either bloody or at least 3 days in duration, or an individual who had E. coli 0157:H7 isolated from a stool culture with a pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern indistinguishable from or within 3 bands of the main outbreak pattern by at least 1enzyme (Xbal or Bin i ). All Shiga toxin-producing E. coli cases reported to MOH are interviewed about potential exposures, including food consumption, as part of routine enteric disease surveillance. Event attendees identified through event hosts were interviewed about food consumption at the event and illness history.

Stool samples from consenting patrons and food workers were submitted to the MDH Public Health Laboratory (PHL} for bacterial and viral testing.

A UMN sanitarian visited the catering facility on July 18 to evaluate food preparation and handling procedures, interview employees, collect food invoices, and gather contact information and menus for catered events.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) conducted traceback investigations of food items of interest to determine the source and possible routes of contamination of those items. MDA also collected samples of suspected products from the caterer for E. coli 0157:H7 testing by the MDA Laboratory. All E. coli 0157:H7 isolates recovered from food were forwarded to the MOH PHL for PFGE subtyping.

Results

A total of 199 individuals from seven catered events were interviewed. Of these, 74 (37%) reported recent gastrointestinal illness, including 57 (29%) who met the case definition. Seventeen individuals were excluded from analysis; 16 attendees reported i!!ness that did not met the case definition, and 1individual possibly represented a secondary infection to an ill household contact. The state of residence was reported as Minnesota for 48 cases, Wisconsin for 4, Alabama for 2, Illinois for 1, Indiana for 1, and Ohio for 1.

celeryThirty-seven (65%) of the cases were female; the median case age was 62 years (range, 4 to 85 years). All cases reported diarrhea, 55 {96%) cramps, 35 (61%) bloody stools, 21 (37%) vomiting, and 11(19%) fever. The median incubation for cases was 91 hours (range, 9 to 174 hours); the median duration of illness was 157 hours (range, 52 to 288 hours) for the 11cases who had recovered by the time of interview. Illness onset dates ranged from July 8 to July 23. Twenty-one {37%) cases sought medical care at a clinic, 18 (32%) were seen at an emergency department, and 9 (16%) were hospitalized. Hospitalizations ranged from 2 to 6 days. !’Jo cases were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome or died.

Twenty-seven laboratory-confirmed cases representing three different catered events were identified, including seven ill individuals who originally tested negative for Shiga toxin by Meridian lmmunoCard STAT! EHEC at a clinical laboratory. Multiple closely related Xbal and Bin i patterns were observed among attendees of each event. Nineteen (70%) isolates were indistinguishable by Xbal from the subtype designated EXHXOl.0238 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Minnesota pattern designation MN1393), five (19%) isolates were designated as EXHXOl.0074 (Minnesota pattern designation WAl), and one isolate each was designated as EXHXOl.0696, EXHXOl.0344, and EXHXOl.0248. Each of these patterns was two or fewer bands different from the main pattern Xbal with the exception of EXHXOl.0344, which was four bands different from the main pattern and two bands different from WAl. By Bini, 20 (74%) isolates were designated as EXHA26.1045, 6 (22%) isolates were designated as EXHA26.0621, and 1isolate was designated as EXHA26.1577.

During the initial follow-up with the Fond du Lac Band, it was discovered that many of the attendees of the Elder Picnic also might have had attended a Veteran’s powwow held July 12-13 on the reservation. The food for this event was provided by several licensed operators, but did not include Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering. The powwow was ruled out as the source of illness because only two ill individuals reported only attending the Veteran’s powwow. All other attendees of the powwow also attended an event catered by Jim-N-Jo’s.

Jim-N-Jo’s catered at least 12 events from July 5 to July 17. Menus and contact information for attendees were available for six events. Illness that met the case definition was identified at four of these events (July 11, picnic on the Fond du Lac Reservation; July 12, wedding; July 14-16, 3-day conference for a private company; and July 16, focus group on the Fond du Lac Reservation), and an additional case was identified through routine surveillance that attended an event hosted by Carlton County on July 17 that was also catered by Jim-N-Jo’s.

Of the 199 individuals interviewed, 122 (61%) attended the picnic on July 11; among these, 43 (35%) cases were identified. One culture-confirmed case reported onset of illness on July 8 before attending the picnic and could not recall attending any other catered events. However, the case did report taking part in other activities sponsored by the tribe that may have been catered by Jim-N-Jo’s . The food served at the picnic inciuded hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, chicken breasts, buns, condiments,onion, lettuce, tomato, cheese slices, sauerkraut, baked beans, potato salad, fruit salad (watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew, and strawberries), corn, chips, cookies, and packaged beverages. In the univariate analysis including attendees of the picnic, consumption of potato salad (37 of 38 cases vs. 44 of 66 controls; odds ratio [OR], 18.5; 95% confidence interval [Cl], 2.4 to 143.9; p < 0.001) was associated with illness.

Twenty-two of the individuals interviewed attended the focus group on Ju!y 16; two (9%) met the case definition (both were culture-confirmed). Of these, one case also attended the Elder picnic and reported onset of illness before the focus group. The menu for the focus group included a build-your-own salad buffet with several types of cut leafy greens, chicken, numerous vegetable toppings, bread and butter, strawberries, cookies, and water. Fresh celery and onions were available as vegetable toppings.

The wedding on July 12 was attended by approximately 300 people. Only a partial list of wedding attendees was provided. Of the 20 people interviewed, 9 (45%) met the case definition (including 5 cases who were culture­ confirmed). The menu for the wedding included pulled pork sandwiches, buns, cheese, onions, fruit salad (watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew and strawberries), vegetable tray (carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower), dill dip, ranch dip, cheesy potatoes, baked beans, corn, packaged beverages, and cupcakes not provided by the caterer. Among wedding guests, no food was statistically associated with illness. However, consumption of celery sticks (5 of 9 cases vs. 2 of 8 controls; OR, 3.75; 95% Cl, 0.5 to 29.8; p = 0.33), and cantaloupe (6 of 8 cases vs. 3 of 7 controls; OR, 4.0; 95% Cl, 0.4 to 35.8; p = 0.31) had elevated odds ratios. The original menu provided to MOH did not include chopped onions that were available as a sandwich garnish. Five of nine cases were re-inten1iewed about onion consumption; no cases reported consuming onions at the event.

Twelve of the 21 people who attended the 3-day conference (July 14-16) were interviewed; three cases were identified. Lunch was served each day (July 14: pulled pork sandwiches, cheese, onions, potato salad, fruit salad, and cookies; July 15: salad, wild rice, red potatoes, beef tips, grapes, bread, and cookies; and July 16: chicken wild rice soup, make-your-own sandwich buffet, cookies, and banana bread). The small number of cases and controls precluded a meaningful statistical analysis among conference attendees.

No list of attendees was provided for the meeting held on July 17. One case was identified through routine surveillance who attended the event. The case reported eating ham, turkey, sausage, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, potato salad, strawberries, and a cookie.

Raw celery and onions were the only food items served at all five events with identified cases. Three events (picnic, 3-day conference, and meeting) were served the same batch of potato salad that contained raw celery and onions. The celery was also served as part of a vegetable tray at the wedding and a chopped garnish on the salad bar for the focus group. Chopped onions were also available at all events. In the univariate analysis including all events, consumption of celery (46 of 52 cases vs. 55 of 95 controls; OR, 5.6; 95% Cl, 2.2 to 14.3; p <0.001) was significantly associated with illness, and onions (42 of 51 cases vs. 61of 90 controls; OR, 2.2; 95% Cl, 1.0 to 5.2; p = 0.08) approached a statistically significant association with illness. In a multivariate model, only consumption of celery (adjusted OR, 10.1;p = 0.004) was significantly associated with illness.

UMN sanitarians visited the catering kitchen on July 18. All five employees were interviewed. One employee reported onset of diarrhea on July 14 and recovery on July 16 and worked while ill during July 15-16. A stool specimen submitted by the employee was positive for E. coli 0157:H7 with the main outbreak PFGE pattern. The employee reported sampling or tasting food during preparation.

Ingredients and preparation procedures for menu items were reviewed. The sanitarian noted inconsistent glove use and issues with date marking. No improper practices or procedures were noted with regard to cooking, cooling, or cross-contamination. The ingredients for the potato salad that was served at the picnic, 3-day conference, and meeting were prepared over a 3 day period. On July 7, the potatoes were boiled and cooled; on

July 8, celery and onions were washed and cut; and on July 9, potatoes were peeled and cut, and potato salad ingredients (potatoes, celery, onions, hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, dried dill, sugar, pickle juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, and commercially prepared potato salad) were assembled and mixed separately into four 5-gallon bins. The celery that was served at the wedding was cut into sticks on July 10, stored in water, and added to the vegetable tray on July 12. The celery that was served at the focus group was chopped sometime during July 7-15 and stored in water before the event.

On July 21, an MDA inspector picked up leftover food from the caterer that was served at the implicated events, including potato salad, strawberries, honeydew, pineapple, and cantaloupe . The potato salad was positive for E. coli O157:H7; all other food samples were negative. Multiple PFGE subtypes were isolated from the potato salad, including the two main patterns isolated from the cases and two other closely related patterns that were not found among the case isolates. Additionally, on July 28, leftover celery and onions from the same shipment as what had been served in the potato salad, at the wedding, and the focus group were collected from the caterer and tested. Both products were negative.

The caterer ordered all fresh produce from Upper Lakes Foods, Inc. The celery that was served at all of the events was received by the caterer on June 25 in a case of 24 heads. MDA worked with Pro*Act distributing and Mann Packing to identify the field in California where the celery was grown as Martignoni Ranch block Sc. The California Department of Public Health {CDPH) was notified of the outbreak and traceback investigation and was able to confirm that the field was owned by Costa Farms and harvested by Mann Packing. The field is adjacent to a defunct dairy operation north of Gonzales, California in the Salinas Valley. CDPH notified the California Food Emergency Response Team {CalFERT) which conducted an inspection of the field and collected five water and soil samples on August 13. No potential cross-contamination issues or positive environmental samples were detected. The inspectors reported that grazing cattle are occasionally present in the adjacent field, but were not in sight at the time of inspection.

Nationally, one additional E. coli O157:H7 case with an isolate that was indistinguishable by PFGE was identified in Indiana. The case reported onset of illness on July 2 and no travel to Minnesota. No connection was found to the Minnesota outbreak.

Conclusions

This was a foodborne outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections associated with multiple events catered by Jim-N­ Jo’s Katering. Cases were associated with five events that took place from July 11to July 17. Potato salad served at three events was found to be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 that was indistinguishable from case isolates by PFGE. Cases were also identified at two additional events that did not serve the potato salad, but served celery that was from the same shipment as the celery in the potato salad. Contaminated celery that was served in some form at all five events was the most likely vehicle of transmission. The source of contamination was not identified, but sampling in the field was limited. It is still plausible that celery could have become contaminated during production.

Benefit dinner to help Oklahoma family of child recovering from E. coli

Laura Harris said the community support she has felt since her son became ill has been overwhelming.

Jase Harris“It brings you to tears to see how generous they are,” Harris said. “It makes you appreciate coming from a small town.”

Two-year-old Jase Harris recently spent 10 days in Saint Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa where he was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Eight of those days Jase spent in the intensive care unit.

A benefit dinner for Jase and his family will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the Wagoner Show Barn, across from Maple Park.

Those who would like attend are asked to contribute a financial donation of any amount. Beans or spaghetti will be served along with a drink and dessert.

Someone sued because they wanted raw sprouts on their Jimmy John’s sandwich? Maybe they work at Kansas State University

Lee Schafer of the Star Tribune wrote in mid-Oct (yes, I’m playing catch-up, taxes and hockey and pumpkins are a bitch) about an announcement of a proposed class-action settlement to readers who somehow suspect they got cheated out of some alfalfa sprouts by the sandwich shop Jimmy John’s.

sprout.apple_.aug_.141In the case of Starks v. Jimmy John’s LLC et al., filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, a customer claimed that Jimmy John’s did not put alfalfa sprouts on her sandwich. The notice of proposed settlement said “sandwiches,” plural, so that suggests it happened to her more than once.

Since alfalfa sprouts were advertised on the menu, there was a problem.

In a subsequent court filing, the customer alleged interference with contract, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, violation of California’s False Advertising Act and so on.

Jimmy John’s has agreed to “cease and desist from advertising or otherwise representing” to sell sandwiches with sprouts and then not put them on the sandwich, and it agreed make a charitable donation of at least $100,000.

The vouchers issued to customers can only add up to a maximum of $725,000, less the actual costs of the settlement administration, which are estimated at $15,000.

So, if you ordered a sandwich with sprouts from February 2012 through July 21, 2014, and didn’t get sprouts, then you may fill out a form, send it in and get the $1.40.

jimmy.johns_.sprouts2-300x225The lead plaintiff is to get $5,000 in addition to her $1.40 voucher. The plaintiffs’ attorneys are to receive $370,000 in fees and expenses. That’s cash, incidentally, not 264,286 vouchers for a pickle or chips at Jimmy John’s.

Meanwhile, business was brisk Friday at a Jimmy John’s in downtown Minneapolis. There were several sandwiches like the Totally Tuna and Turkey Tom listed with “sprouts* optional” with the asterisk leading to a menu warning that eating raw or undercooked sprouts poses a health risk.

Jimmy John’s has become the poster child for raw sprouts in the U.S. with numerous outbreaks; WalMart and Kroger no longer sell raw sprouts; much of food service stopped years ago.

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.

Sprouts present a unique food safety challenge compared to other fresh produce, as the sprouting process provides optimal conditions for the growth and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. The sprout industry, regulatory agencies, and the academic community have been collaborating to improve the microbiological safety of raw sprouts, including the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), establishing guidelines for safe sprout production, and chemical disinfection of seed prior to sprouting. However, guidelines and best practices are only as good as their implementation. The consumption of raw sprouts is considered high-risk, especially for young, elderly and immuno-compromised persons.

From November 2010 into 2011, an outbreak linked to raw sprouts in the U.S. and involving sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s sickened 140 people. This was the third sprout related outbreak involving this franchise, yet the owner of the Montana Jimmy John’s outlet, Dan Stevens, expressed confidence in his sprouts claiming that because the sprouts were locally grown they would not be contaminated. By the end of December 2010 a sprout supplier, Tiny Greens Farm, was implicated in the outbreak. Jimmy John’s owner, John Liautaud, responded by stating the sandwich chain would replace alfalfa sprouts with clover sprouts since they were allegedly easier to clean. However, a week earlier a separate outbreak had been identified in Washington and Oregon in which eight people were infected with Salmonella after eating sandwiches containing clover sprouts from a Jimmy John’s restaurant. This retailer was apparently not aware of the risks associated with sprouts, or even outbreaks associated with his franchisees.

sprout.santa_.barf_.xmas_1-300x254In late December, 2011, less than one year after making the switch to clover sprouts, Jimmy John’s was linked to another sprout related outbreak, this time it was E.coli O26 in clover sprouts. In February 2012, sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s announced they were permanently removing raw clover sprouts from their menus. As of April 2012, the outbreak had affected 29 people across 11 states. Founder and chief executive, John Liautaud, attempted to appease upset customers through Facebook stating, “a lot of folks dig my sprouts, but I will only serve the best of the best. Sprouts were inconsistent and inconsistency does not equal the best.” He also informed them the franchise was testing snow pea shoots in a Campaign, Illinois store, although there is no mention regarding the “consistency” or safety of this choice.

Despite the frequent need for sprout-based risk communication, messaging with industry and public stakeholders has been limited in effectiveness. In spite of widespread media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks, improved production guidelines, and public health enforcement actions, awareness of risk remains low. Producers, food service and government agencies need to provide consistent, evidence-based messages and, more importantly, actions. Information regarding sprout-related risks and food safety concerns should be available and accurately presented to producers, retailers and consumers in a manner that relies on scientific data and clear communications.

The would-be food safety gurus at Kansas State still order Jimmy John’s with sprouts for their various really important meetings.

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 arecurring 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. Scientific 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.

3 confirmed E. coli O157 cases at Oregon Montessori school

Three cases of E. coli infection since September have prompted the Clackamas County Health Department to begin testing all children and staff at a West Linn Montessori program for the potentially deadly bacteria.

West Linn MontessoriIn a Thursday letter to parents with children at Heart Centered Montessori, 2152 S.W. Ek Rd., the department said it continues to investigate the source of the infections. Meanwhile, health officials recommended students and employees be tested for E. coli and to avoid returning to school, swimming and participating in group activities until test results are back.

The Montessori school serves children up to age 6 and was established in 2007, according to its website. 

At least two of the three infections are of the most virulent type of E. coli, O157.H7, the letter to families said. A 4-year old girl in Lincoln County died of the same bacterial strain in September.

Two children in hospital following an E. coli outbreak at UK nursery

Specialists from Public Health England and environmental health officers are investigating the cases of E. coli O157, which are linked to Little Brook Childrens Nursery, in Great Harwood.

nurseryTesting is being carried out on staff and children who may have come into contact with the bacteria, and children have been asked to remain at home until they have tested negative.

A spokeswoman for Public Health England said that although staff were at the nursery yesterday, it will effectively be closed to children until those given the all clear begin to return.

Epidemiology, just trying to do this jigsaw puzzle: Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with lettuce served at fast food chains in the Maritimes and Ontario, Canada, Dec 2012

Background: Identification and control of multi-jurisdictional foodborne illness outbreaks can be complex because of their multidisciplinary nature and the number of investigative partners involved.

spongebob.oil.colbert.may3.10Objective: To describe the multi-jurisdictional outbreak response to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada that highlights the importance of early notification and collaboration and the value of centralized interviewing.

Methods: Investigators from local, provincial and federal jurisdictions, using a national outbreak response protocol to clarify roles and responsibilities and facilitate collaboration, conducted a rapid investigation that included centralized re-interview of cases, descriptive methods, binomial probability, and traceback findings to identify the source of the outbreak.

Results: There were 31 laboratory confirmed cases identified in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Thirteen cases (42%) were hospitalized and one case (3%) developed hemolytic uremic syndrome; there were no deaths. Due to early notification a coordinated investigation was initiated before laboratory subtyping was available. Re-interview of cases identified 10 cases who had not initially reported exposure to the source of the outbreak. Less than one week after the Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee was formed, consumption of shredded lettuce from a fast food chain was identified as the likely source of the illnesses and the implicated importer/processor initiated a precautionary recall the same day.

Conclusion: This outbreak investigation highlights the importance of early notification, prompt re-interviewing and collaboration to rapidly identify the source of an outbreak.

Canada Communicable Disease Report CCDR

Tataryn J, Morton V, Cutler J, McDonald L, Whitfield Y, Billard B, Gad RR and Hexemer A

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/14vol40/dr-rm40s-1/dr-rm40s-1-ecoli-eng.php

2 sick with E.coli O157 in UK linked to raw milk

The UK Food Standards Agency reports Barton Farm Dairy (Kentisbury, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 4NQ) is recalling its raw cow’s drinking milk due to a potential link to two cases of E.coli O157 infection. If you have bought this product, do not consume it. The FSA has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.

baton.farm.dairyProduct details

The product being recalled is:

Barton Farm Dairy raw cow’s drinking milk

Size: All sizes

Barton Farm Dairy is recalling the above product. Product recall notices will be issued to the business’s customers and on the website, explaining why the recall is happening and what they can do if they have bought an affected product.

If you have bought any of the above products, do not consume them. Instead, contact the Barton Farm Dairy by calling 01271 882283 or emailing info@bartonfarmdairy.co.uk for further advice.