More STEC found: Multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infections linked to flour

On July 25, 2016, General Mills expanded its recall to include more production dates. A list of all the recalled flours and how to identify them is available on the Advice to Consumers page.

sorenne.doug.usa.today.jun.11Four more ill people have been reported from two states. The most recent illness started on June 25, 2016.

An infection with another serotype, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC O26), has been added to this outbreak investigation. STEC O26 was isolated from a sample of General Mills flour (pic, left, from 2011; Sorenne did not eat the flour and awareness of cross-contamination was robust).

One person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, multiple states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections.

46 people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O121 or STEC O26 have been reported from 21 states.

Thirteen ill people have been hospitalized. One person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicate that flour produced at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri is a likely source of this outbreak.

Several recalls and recall expansions have been announced as a result of this investigation.

In July 2016, laboratory testing by General Mills and FDA isolated STEC O26 from a sample of General Mills flour. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the STEC O26 isolated from the flour sample was closely related genetically to isolates from an ill person. The flour tested was not included in the earlier General Mills recalls.

On July 25, 2016, General Mills further expanded its flour recall to include additional lots.

CDC recommends that consumers, restaurants, and retailers do not use, serve, or sell the recalled flours.

Do not eat raw dough or batter, whether made from recalled flour or any other flour. Flour or other ingredients used to make raw dough or batter can be contaminated with STEC and other pathogens.

Consumers should bake all items made with raw dough or batter before eating them. Do not taste raw dough or batter.

Restaurants and retailers should not serve raw dough to customers or allow children and other guests to play with raw dough.

This investigation is ongoing, and we will update the public when more information becomes available.

 

 

46 now sick: Creepy crawly General Mills E. coli O121 flour recall expands again

Amy and kids made playdoh from scratch the other day. Flour, water, salt, food coloring, and a mess.

Amy’s gluten-intolerant, but wasn’t about to use expensive gluten-free flour to make playdoh.

whole.wheat.flour.jan.13Flour dust was everywhere, and within 15 minutes Amy announced, “I’ve been glutened. Damn.”

Now image if that flour had E. coli O121 or some other Shiga-toxin producing E. coli inside.

So it’s a stretch to say, as General Mills does, that, “No illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly baked, cooked or handled.”

Maybe. A better solution may be to use pasteurized flour.

From the PR:

Due to four new confirmed illnesses, General Mills is adding additional flour production dates to the previously announced U.S. retail flour recall that was originally announced on May 31, 2016.

The illnesses reported to health officials continue to be connected with consumers reporting that they ate or handled uncooked dough or ate uncooked batter made with raw flour.  No illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly baked, cooked or handled.

The addition of new flour production dates is the result of General Mills conducting proactive flour testing and new information from health officials who are using new whole genome sequencing techniques to trace illnesses. E.coli (several sub-types) has been detected in a small number of General Mills flour samples and some have been linked to new patient illnesses that fell outside of the previously recalled dates.

At this time, it is unknown if we are experiencing a higher prevalence of E.coli in flour than normal, if this is an issue isolated to General Mills’ flour, or if this is an issue across the flour industry. The newer detection and genome sequencing tools are also possibly making a connection to flour that may have always existed at these levels.

“As a leader in flour production for 150 years, General Mills is committed to convening experts to work with government officials to learn more and create new protocols, if needed,” said General Mills President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Harmening. “Most importantly, we want all the avid home bakers out there to have peace of mind and know the most important thing they can do to keep safe is to not eat uncooked flour.”

Flour is a raw ingredient that is intended to be cooked or baked.  Flour is made from wheat that is grown outdoors where bacteria are often present and the normal flour milling process does not remove these bacteria.

Previously announced recalled flour production dates ranged from November 4, 2015 through December 4, 2015. The expansion announced today includes select production dates through February 10, 2016. The new recall applies only to the specific product and date codes listed below.  

A full list of retail products included in the flour recall since May 31, 2016 can be found at www.generalmills.com/flour.

E. coli (and Salmonella and Norovirus) aftermath: Chipotle sales and revenue plummet in the second quarter

Chipotle Mexican Grill reported a steep drop in second-quarter earnings Thursday and missed analysts’ estimates as the fast-casual restaurant struggles to regain its footing after a series of food safety scares, and the recent arrest of one of its executives for drug possession.

chipotle.earning.jul.16The restaurant chain’s profit plunged to $25.6 million in the quarter ended June 30, down 81% from $140.2 million from the same period a year ago. Revenue dropped to $998.4 million, off 16.6% from $1.2 billion compared to 2015. Analysts had expected sales of $1.05 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Earnings per share plummeted to 87 cents versus $4.45 per share in the second quarter of last year. That was also below earnings per share estimates of 90 cents.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key metric for the industry, fell 23.6%. That was a slightly milder drop than than the nearly 30% fall Chipotle reported in the first quarter.

It’s been a slow climb back to normalcy for the Mexican restaurant, which has been aggressively trying to court favor with its formerly loyal fans.

“Our entire company is focused on restoring customer trust and reestablishing customer frequency,” said co-CEO Steve Ellis in a statement.

The company has employed an expansive comeback strategy, including using coupons, promotional discounts and even a short animated film about the perils of big food operations to get customers back buying burritos again. It implemented new food safety standards and shook up its long-unchanged menu with a new item: chorizo, a spicy chicken and pork sausage available in select locations.

Chipotle has moved away from testing some ingredients in central kitchens for pathogens because doing so resulted in lower quality, co-Chief Executive Steve Ells said on Thursday.

south.park.dead.celebrities.chipotle“Cutting bell peppers for testing in a central kitchen degraded the peppers,” Mr. Ells said, adding that the company has reversed testing for bell peppers, lettuce and other ingredients because its new food-safety czar James Marsden has developed other interventions to sanitize ingredients. The bell peppers are now blanched in the restaurants, a process Mr. Ells said kills pathogens.

Bell peppers and lettuce are now being chopped again in the restaurants and food quality complaints have decreased, co-Chief Executive Monty Moran said.

Utah girl, 8, dies from Shiga-toxin producing E. coli

A family in American Fork is receiving an outpouring of support after an 8-year-old girl became sick last week, was rushed to a hospital but died five days later.

hannah.jolley.e.coliBrian and Melissa Jolley never imagined they would be making funeral plans for their daughter, Hannah.

“She always wanted to play with her friends, loved playing with friends,” Melissa Jolley said.

On the morning of July 14, she started showing symptoms typical of the flu. But her condition quickly deteriorated.

“Come Thursday night she had a really, really hard night. And Friday morning we could tell she was in a lot of pain,” Brian Jolley said.

Doctors at Utah Valley Hospital quickly diagnosed her with E. coli. She was later flown to Primary Children’s Hospital. Last Monday she had a seizure, and doctors determined Hannah had hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease that destroys red blood cells.

The most common cause of HUS, particularly in children, is E. coli infection.

“We have no idea how she got the E. coli. At this point it’s not important,” Brian Jolley said. “We want answers someday. Of course, we want to know where it came from.”

Hannah died Tuesday night, and since then the show of support from the community has been non-stop. Hand-made decorations, chalk art and ribbons decorate the Jolleys’ home in American Fork. Complete strangers have phoned and emailed the family to offer support.

12 sick with E. coli in New Hampshire

New Hampshire health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli associated with ground beef

rare.hamburgerSince June, 12 people in the state have been infected with the same strain of E. coli after eating ground beef, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services. The safety of ground beef is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is assisting the state investigation.

“Ground beef is a known source of E. coli and it is important for people to avoid eating under-cooked ground beef whether at home or at a restaurant,” said Marcella Bobinsky, acting director of the state DPHS. “Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to severe illness with this infection.”

The people who became ill ate ground beef at a number of different locations. State health officials and the USDA are working to identify the specific source.

Ground beef should be cooked at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

Safefood Queensland, you awake? Noosa eatery brags about medium-rare USDA certified organic burgers

A friend of Amy’s from her PhD days at the I-was-there-when-Tom-Brady-was-there University of Michigan and her family came over last night for dinner.

austin.powers.meat.2.verThey’d been on the road a long time, so I figured a U.S.-styled meal of steak and two veg would be welcomed.

It was.

After a day of cleaning and cooking – seriously, me and two other semi-house dads I hang with at the kid’s school should jump on the food porn train with all the shopping and cooking we do and the discussions we have about how to make a slow-cooked chicken curry while also talking about the shit guys say on mic’d up hockey – Amy went off with her friend and family and I got to write.

Yet only a couple of hours into the adventure, I get this from Amy:

We went to a place for lunch in Noosa. I was going to get a burger but read that “All our burgers are USDA certified organic and served medium-rare.”

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Only way to tell if something is microbiologically safe.

And the prices are outrageous.

There’s so much shit out there.

cafe.le.monde.noosa.burger.jul.16

Shiga-toxin producing E. coli: Montessori school closed after 2 students hospitalized

The Washington, Monroe Montessori School was closed Wednesday after two young children were hospitalized with E. coli.

The girls are both under the age of 5 and were hospitalized. Only one of the girls has a confirmed kidney issue called HUS, which indicates a more serious case of E. coli. Her condition has not been released.

Sixty other preschoolers and 10 staff members may have been exposed. Everyone who has been at the school since July 11 is being tested.  Test Kits will be sent to parents Thursday, and results can take about five days.

Although it is not the source of the E. coli, the school is also being sanitized.

“The exact source of contamination in E. coli can be very difficult to identify, but at this point we believe the children were likely exposed to livestock near their home,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Health District.

65 sick with E. coli from Chicago restaurant

Becky Yerak of the Chicago Tribune reports that an outbreak of E. coli at Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill has grown to include 65 people who have become ill, more than double the number initially reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

carbon.live.chicagoA second lawsuit was filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court against the restaurant, which has locations in Bridgeport and on the North Side. The North Side restaurant has been found by city health inspectors to be “safe” and “clean.” The two locations share a phone number, and a person answering the phone Thursday morning said the North Side spot is open, and the Bridgeport restaurant remains closed for now.

Are U-Hauls refrigerated? Labs test food prior to US political conventions

Katie Demeria of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes that a state lab is working to ensure that the food served at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is contamination-free.

u-haulVirginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services is currently testing samples of the food — including massive blocks of hamburgers to a case of pork tenderloins — that will be served at the convention, which takes place July 25-28.

Samples of the food came from the vendors selected to supply the convention.

“We’re looking for microbial agents or bacteria that should not be there, such as anthrax,” said Christopher Waggener, lead scientist for microbiology. “We’re also screening for another biothreat agent called ricin and another agent that causes botulism.”

Scientists also are looking for environmental contaminants, such as E. coli or salmonella, as well as radioactive elements that should not be in the food.

The lab will wrap up its tests and report the results today.

Last Friday, 400 pounds of meat arrived at the consolidated laboratory’s building in the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park in downtown Richmond.

“We met USDA inspectors at the door, and they brought a U-Haul down with cases and cases of meat,” Waggener said.

Oklahoma student saved by blood donors twice

Eric Swanson of The ADA News reports that without the help of blood donors, Tierney Roberts might not be alive today.

donate-blood-2.jpg~c200Donated blood helped Roberts for the first time in 2010, when she was injured in a two-vehicle wreck on state Highway 19. She suffered serious but not life-threatening head and facial injuries and was airlifted to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City for treatment.

In December 2014, Roberts, an East Central University student, developed an E. coli infection that turned into hemolytic uremic syndrome. Blood donations helped her recover from the disease.

Those two experiences reminded Roberts that blood donors can save lives, she said Wednesday.

“For those people who are scared of needles, it is really not that bad,” she said. “When you think about it, it doesn’t hurt hardly at all. It’s a small needle, and it takes, seriously, like 10 minutes. It’s definitely worth it.”

Three Ada-based employers — the Chickasaw Nation, Mercy Hospital Ada and People’s Electric Cooperative — are teaming up with the Oklahoma Blood Institute for a blood drive in Ada.

The seventh annual Ada All-American Blood Drive will take place from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. today at the Pontotoc County Agri-Plex Convention Center, 1710 N. Broadway. Healthy people ages 16 and older who meet certain requirements are encouraged to participate.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 1-877-340-8777 or visit www.obi.org.