Salmonella-positive serrano peppers recalled

Warren Produce, Edinburg, Texas, has voluntarily recalled 200 cartons of serrano peppers after a sample tested positive for salmonella.

serrano.pepperThe cartons were from 18 orders, but Warren Produce managing member Jimmy Henderson said none of the product is expected to make it to retail.

Henderson said the company was notified of the issue at 4:30 p.m. July 22 after the Food and Drug Administration sampled a single lot. Warren Produce recalled that lot along with two others from the same grower, although those lots did not test positive for salmonella. The recalled lots are #115181, #115158 and #115186.

By the morning of July 25, Henderson had received confirmation from 15 of the 18 destinations for the peppers that the product was pulled from the supply chain.

Henderson described the recall as “very effective.”

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.

 

 

FDA shares data on cucumber and hot pepper testing

Tom Karst of The Packer reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released preliminary results of pathogen testing of cucumbers and hot peppers.

animal.house.cucumberStarting November 2015, the agency began microbiological surveillance sampling and testing of cucumbers and hot peppers because these products have previously been involved in large-scale outbreaks, according to the FDA report. The outbreaks were linked to hospitalizations, and in the case of hot peppers, two deaths, according to the FDA.

The agency is in the midst of testing approximately 1,600 samples for Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 in cucumbers, and Salmonella spp., Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and E. coli O157:H7 in hot peppers, according to the report. 

So far, the FDA said it has tested 452 samples of hot peppers and 352 samples of cucumbers. Of those, 13 of the hot pepper samples and three cucumbers samples tested positive for Salmonella. The rest tested negative for the targeted pathogens, according to the FDA.

The FDA report said the testing continues and offered no conclusions about the results so far.

Sanitation sucks: Federal court orders Minnesota sprout and noodle company to cease operations

On July 15, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the United States and Kwong Tung Foods, Inc., doing business as Canton Foods; its president and owner, Vieta “Victor” C. Wang; and its vice-president, Juney H. Wang, for significant and ongoing violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and its implementing regulations. The business, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sells rice and wheat noodles, and mung bean and soy bean sprouts.

Canton 2The U.S. Department of Justice brought the action on behalf of the FDA. The complaint that accompanied the consent decree alleges that Kwong Tung Foods, Inc. has an extensive history of operating under unsanitary conditions in violation of current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations and the FD&C Act. The FDA conducted multiple inspections, most recently in 2014 and 2015, and the FDA investigators observed repeated unsanitary conditions, including, rodent excreta pellets too numerous to count, improper cleaning, mold-like substances on equipment, failure to prevent cross-contamination from allergens and improper employee sanitation practices. Despite receiving a Warning Letter and participating in regulatory meetings with the FDA, Kwong Tung Foods, Inc., and Victor and Juney Wang failed to take adequate corrective actions to ensure the safety of their food. Additionally, the FDA worked with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to resolve this matter.

“The FDA expects food companies to follow cGMP regulations, and when a company does not address violations and sanitary protocols are being neglected, it poses potentially hazardous conditions,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA is taking the necessary actions to protect consumers and the U.S. food supply.”

Food, especially produce, is vulnerable to contamination with pathogenic microorganisms if exposed to unsanitary conditions during growing, harvesting, packing, holding or manufacturing, processing or transportation. Rodents in a facility are an additional cause for concern as they can sometimes carry and transfer bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms, like Salmonella, onto food. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

As a result of this action, Kwong Tung Foods, Inc. is prohibited from directly or indirectly receiving, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packing, holding, and/or distributing any article of food at or from its facility. If Kwong Tung Foods Inc. intends to resume operations, the company must notify the FDA, and, among other requirements, retain an independent food safety expert to ensure Kwong Tung Foods, Inc. has and implements, to the FDA’s satisfaction, an appropriate written Sanitation Control Program. If it resumes operations, Kwong Tung Foods, Inc. must also retain an independent laboratory to conduct analyses of its food processing environment and food products, and provide employee training on sanitation and appropriate food handling techniques.

Although no illnesses have been reported in connection with Kwong Tung Foods Inc., consumers with complaints about any FDA-regulated products can report problemsto their district office consumer complaint coordinator.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

8 sickened, 1 dead: CDC says Listeria linked to frozen produce is over

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the investigation into frozen fruits and vegetables produced at CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Washington.

veggierecallHowever, people could continue to get sick because recalled products may still be freezers and people who don’t know about the recalls could eat them. Retailers should not sell and consumers should not eat recalled products. Read the Recall and Advice to Consumers and Retailers.

CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis).

Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.

Nine people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria have been reported from four states since September 13, 2013.

All nine people were hospitalized, and three of them died. Listeriosis was considered to be a cause of death for one person in Connecticut. For the two deaths in Maryland and Washington, listeriosis was not considered to be a cause of death.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington and sold under various brand names were a likely source of illness in this outbreak.

On April 23, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because of potential Listeria contamination.

On May 2, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods expanded the initial recall to include all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. More than 350 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands were recalled, as well as at least 100 other products prepared by other companies that contained recalled ingredients from CRF Frozen Foods.

CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, and restaurants and retailers do not serve or sell, recalled organic and traditional frozen vegetables and fruit products and recalled products containing these items.

Recalled items were sold nationwide and in Canada.

A complete list of recalled products is on the FoodSafety.gov website.

Do food producers have any idea what goes in their products? Traceability, another fairytale

For all the food companies that brag about traceability, why does it take so long to figure out that your suppliers are in a recall and maybe you should be too?

HT_betty_crocker_recall_as_160712_12x5_1600The lingering, lasting recalls involving products that contain E. coli O121- tainted wheat from General Mills, Listeria-tainted frozen produce from CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Wash, and Listeria-tainted sunflower kernels from SunOpta, pile up daily.

Yesterday, the girlfriend of my much younger youth, Betty Crocker, recalled cake mix in Canada because it possibly contained E. coli flour from General Mills.

But how could I not lick her spoon, or sample her beater, as a child or an adult?

Randy Shore of the Vancouver Sun asked me those questions the other night during a conversation about risk, cookie dough and preaching.

I said I don’t preach, I provide information, people can do what they like, but it really sucks if your kid gets a Shiga-toxin producing E. coli like O121 because it’s a serious illness, often with lifelong consequences.

And it’s a scam that for all the prowess and profits of these companies, from Betty, to Golden Dipt brand Jalapeño Breader, to Planters Sunflower Kernels, they can’t figure out who is supplying their shit ingredients.

Markets/local/sustainable/whatever adjective are no better.

It’s food fraud.

Rick Holley, a professor emeritus of food safety at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg (that’s in Canada) told CBC News that eating foods that aren’t well cooked is sorta like the risks people take when they jaywalk and don’t cross the street at a traffic light or stop sign.

“We know only too well that there are folks who like to eat food that’s not well cooked or isn’t cooked and against the best advice, because the food we eat is not sterile — there are risks associated with it. Having said that, I enjoy my salad in the summer time. Uncooked.

“Where we need also to do some work is on maintaining and improving the levels of sanitation in all parts of the food system, food processing plants. We know from investigations that have been done both in Canada and the United States that when there are lapses in sanitation, problems occur in food processing plants. We can see it now happening in mills.”

UCM511108According to Shore at the Vancouver Sun, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned people not to eat raw cookie dough, effectively killing the fun of making cookies.

1.) How serious is the cookie dough threat?

In 2009, at least 71 people in 31 states were sickened by Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough contaminated with E. coli O157: H7. While nobody died, 11 people suffered serious complications. Nestle now uses heat-treated flour.

2.) What about homemade cookie dough?

The flour you use at home to make cookies has likely not been treated to kill salmonella and E.coli, so it should not be eaten raw. Irradiation is used to control insects in flour, not bacteria, so don’t depend on it for food safety.

3.) What about cookie dough ice cream?

Cookie dough ice cream is a guilty pleasure, but you can eat it without risk. Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough is made with pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour. Most manufacturers, including Dreyer’s and Haagen-Dazs, use similar methods. 

4.) What will happen to me?

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, rainbow bits contaminated with E. coli O121 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

5.) Should I panic?

While the CFIA is so far silent on the issue, the FDA warns that you should not eat or allow your children to play with raw flour products, including homemade PlayDoh. If you make cake, cookies or pancakes, don’t lick the beaters.

Julia Calderone of Consumer Reports lists her own five ways you could get an E. coli infection from flour.

They’re not that surprising to microbiology-types.

Be the bug. Follow the bug (especially animal poop).

Since December 2015, 42 people across 21 states have developed an E. coli infection after eating uncooked flour. The outbreak is caused by a potentially dangerous strain of E. coli called O121.

Like E. coli O157, which has been responsible for food poisoning outbreaks from undercooked ground beef, O121 is a toxin-producing bacteria that may cause abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and possibly life-threatening kidney damage. Fortunately, so far no one who has become ill from flour or flour-based products has developed kidney damage or died, but 11 people have been hospitalized. 

Products produced at a General Mills plant in Kansas City, Missouri, in November 2015 are the culprits behind these cases of E. coli infection. The company voluntarily recalled 10 million pounds of possibly contaminated flour, including their Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens, and Gold Medal Wondra flour brands. Several cake and pancake mixes that may have used General Mills flour have also been recalled.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently investigating these cases of E. coli infection, and are advising consumers not to eat flour and flour-containing foods that have not been cooked or baked. Consuming raw flour is a potential hazard, says the FDA, since it isn’t meant to be a ready-to-eat product.

Some of the ways you could ingest uncooked flour may not be so obvious. Here are five sources of potentially tainted flour that you should watch out for if you want to prevent a possible associated E. coli infection. 

  1. Raw doughs and batters.Of course, cookie doughs, pizza doughs, and cake and pancake batters are risky, so you should be careful not to accidentally or intentionally eat them before they’re cooked.

But raw dough can also make you sick even if you don’t intend to eat it. For example, kneading bread dough often leaves you with floury hands. Some restaurants give children balls of uncooked dough to play with, and they could stick either the tainted ball or their contaminated fingers into their mouth. Even storing uncooked dough next to other foods could cause a problem, so be sure to handle and stash it carefully.

  1. Arts and crafts materials.Websites devoted to pantry-based projects offer recipes for modeling clays, play doughs, spray glue, paper mache, and ornaments with flour as the main ingredient. For now, avoid making these mixtures with kids, and be sure to wash your hands and work surfaces thoroughly afterward if you decide to work with them.
  2. No-cook dishes.Some flour-containing recipes for truffles, icing, and even cookies don’t involve heating or baking. So if the recipe doesn’t call for the dish to be thoroughly cooked, skip it.
  3. Contaminated cooking and eating surfaces.Flour is light and powdery, and can easily fly everywhere in your kitchen if you aren’t careful. Even miniscule amounts of tainted flour can make you sick, so be sure that foods that will be eaten raw don’t come into contact with flour-dusted counters, cutting boards, plates, and the like. Wash these—as well as your hands—in hot soapy water after using them. Be careful if you’re dredging meat or chickenin flour before cooking, so the flour doesn’t go all over the place.
  4. Containers you use to store flour.When you purchase a new bag of flour, you might dump the new flourinto a flour bin or canister that has some old, recalled flour already in it, unwittingly contaminating your new stash. If you’re not sure if the flour you currently have has been recalled, throw it out. Make sure that you thoroughly clean your storage container before using it again.

FDA’s role in the global food system

Michael R. Taylor and Howard R. Sklamberg write in the Harvard International Review (introduction only):

michael.taylor.fdaWe work for a public health regulatory agency – the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — that oversees products accounting for 20 percent of US consumer spending. FDA regulates industries that meet fundamental human health needs in the areas of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, blood and blood products, and medical devices. FDA also regulates the tobacco, dietary supplement, and cosmetic industries. In addition, we regulate the food industry. Twenty-five years ago, the FDA could afford to think and act as the domestic agency we were. Today we can’t. Every industry we regulate has become global in terms of how they source ingredients, manufacture finished products, and seek markets for the products they make here in the United States. Annual import entries of FDA-regulated products have almost tripled from 2004 to 2014, rising to about 33 million. The companies we regulate are often multinationals that have an international outlook and are affected by international standards, which they seek to harmonize.

So, FDA has had to become global, too. Since 2011, the US Congress has given us two new import safety laws with mandates and tools to ensure that imported medical and food products are as safe as domestic products. We now have offices in seven foreign countries compared to zero in 2007. We have full-time staff working on international harmonization of regulatory standards, trade policy issues, and regulatory partnerships with foreign governments. Our international engagement — and the importance of international relations to our success — is only increasing. In this article, we will highlight the international dimension of our food program, which has responsibility for the safety, composition, and labeling of all human and animal food products — except meat, poultry, and some processed egg products regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. We will focus specifically on the global public health and economic challenge of protecting the safety of our food supply to show how fully intertwined our domestic consumer protection mission is with challenges facing the global food system. Furthermore, we will explain how implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 brings home the lesson that when it comes to food safety, we’re all in this together.

Congress and FDA share a vision of how the United States must engage internationally on food safety for the good of its citizens and the good of the global community. Our work in the years ahead is to fully execute that vision.

42 now sickened from E. coli O121 linked to flour

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that as of June 28, 2016, 42 people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O121 have been reported from 21 states.

wondraOn July 1, 2016, General Mills expanded its recall to include additional lots of Gold Medal Flour, Signature Kitchens Flour, and Gold Medal Wondra Flour.

STEC O121 was isolated from samples of General Mills flour collected from the homes of ill people in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

Four more ill people have been reported from four states. The most recent illness started on June 8, 2016. One new state, Indiana, has been added to the list of states with ill people.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 21, 2015 to June 8, 2016. Ill people range in age from 1 year to 95, with a median age of 18. Eighty-one percent of ill people are female. Eleven ill people have been hospitalized. No one has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, and no deaths have been reported.

gold-medal-all-purpose5LBGuidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour. E. coli O121 is eliminated by heat through baking, frying, sautéing or boiling products made with flour. All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

Always the kids: Stop kissing turtles, and stop buying them at flea markets: Outbreaks of Salmonella in US

In August 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the U.S. Center for Disease Control of a consumer complaint involving Salmonella Sandiego infection in a child (the index patient), who had acquired a small turtle (shell length <4 inches [<10 cm]) at an Alabama flea market. The subsequent investigation, which included examining data from PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, identified four multistate Salmonella outbreaks: two involving Salmonella Sandiego and two involving Salmonella Poona. These turtle.kissserotypes have been linked to small turtles in previous outbreaks (1,2).

Although selling small turtles as pets in the United States has been banned since 1975 (3), illegal sales still occur at discount stores and flea markets and by street vendors. CDC investigated to determine the extent of the outbreaks and prevent additional infections.

For this investigation, a case was defined as infection with Salmonella serotypes Sandiego or Poona with the pulse-field gel electrophoresis patterns XbaI JL6X01.0104, JL6X01.0544, JL6X01.0055, JLXX01.0030, or JLXX01.0053 in a person with illness onset January 1–December 31, 2015. A total of 124 cases from 22 states were identified. Median patient age was 7 years (range <1–82 years); 51 patients (41%) were aged <5 years, and 59 (49%) were female. Among 108 patients with available information, 36 (33%) were hospitalized. Thirteen (36%) of the 36 hospitalized patients were aged <5 years. No deaths were reported. Fifty-eight (70%) of 83 patients with ethnicity information were Hispanic.

A total of 104 patients or their caregivers were interviewed; 50 patients (48%) had turtle exposure. Among the 50 patients with reported turtle exposure, the median age was 3 years (range <1–77 years), 30 (60%) were aged <5 years, and 25 (50%) were female. Of the 50 patients with turtle exposure, 48 had information on hospitalization; 18 of the 48 (38%) were hospitalized. Nine of those hospitalized were aged <5 years. Twenty-eight (72%) of 39 patients with ethnicity information were Hispanic. Turtle and turtle environment samples were collected from nine patients’ homes. Of these, 21 isolates of Salmonella were culture-positive: 17 matched the outbreak strains, two were Salmonella Paratyphi B var L-tartrate+, and two were Salmonella Pomona (Table).

An FDA consumer safety officer investigating the flea market where the index patient’s turtle was obtained traced the turtle’s origin to farm A (FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine did not pursue legal action regarding the sale by farm A of small turtles to the flea market vendor). Pond water samples from farm A yielded cultures of Salmonella (Table). Although the samples from turtle farm A did not yield the 2015 outbreak strains, two of the three Salmonella Pomona isolates from pond water matched isolates from a patient’s pet turtle’s environment.

The high proportion of patients aged <5 years in these outbreaks emphasizes the risk for illness among young children with small turtles as pets. This finding indicates education is needed to address the risk to children for Salmonella infections from small turtles and other reptiles. Many patients in these outbreaks were Hispanic, which highlights the importance of multilingual messages for effective communication. During these outbreaks, the announcement and prevention messages regarding safe handling of pet reptiles and amphibians were translated into Spanish and posted on the “CDC en Español” website. To ensure wider dissemination, information was also provided to a major Spanish-language news agency.

Transient vendors continue to be a source of illegal sales of small turtles. Educational campaigns at schools, child care centers, carnivals, and flea markets regarding the risk for Salmonella from contact with turtles are important to prevent infections among children.

 

No, nature did: FDA ruins raw cookie dough for everybody

Rachel Rabkin Peachman writes in a New York Times blog that maybe you’ve swiped a bite of raw cookie dough while preparing a batch to bake. Or perhaps you’ve let your children lick the batter from the cake bowl, or use homemade “play dough” to make crafts. But even if the dough is free of raw raw.cookie.dough.e.colieggs, which you think might give you a pass, don’t eat it.

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration issued a message warning people not to eat raw dough because of a recent outbreak of E. coli linked to contaminated flour.

So far, a reported 38 people in 20 states have been infected by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121 found in flour. The infections began last December, and 10 of those infected have been hospitalized.

Investigations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the F.D.A. traced the source of the outbreak to flour that was produced in November 2015 at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Mo. General Mills has issued a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of flour produced between Nov. 14 and Dec. 4, sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens and Gold Medal Wondra. Flour that is part of the recall should be thrown away.

Unlike other raw foods, like eggs or meat — which many people recognize as contamination risks — “flour is not the type of thing that we commonly associate with pathogens,” said Jenny Scott, a senior adviser in the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

In this case, investigators believe that the grain became contaminated in the field, where it is exposed to manure, cattle, birds and other bacteria. “E. coli is a gut bug that can spread from a cow doing its business in the field, or it could live in the soil for a period of time; and if you think about it, flour comes from the ground, so it could be a risk,” said Adam Karcz, an infection preventionist at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.

Normally, flour is cooked before it is consumed, destroying any pathogens. “For the most part, the risk from flour is pretty low, and most use of flour involves a ‘kill step’ — people bake with it,” Ms. Scott said. In commercial uses like “raw” cookie-dough ice cream, companies generally heat-treat it to eliminate bacteria, she said.

Consumers, then, need to be aware that they should follow food safety guidelines for flour. That means washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw flour. And Ms. Scott warned against letting children play with homemade play dough. “Kids are going to handle it and touch their faces, and they’re going to lick their fingers; it’s hard to supervise that,” she said.