I like pistachios: 11 sick with Salmonella so FDA get stern

Below are excerpts from a warning letter to Stewart Resnick, owner, The Wonderful Company based in Los Angeles, Calif., from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

salm-pistachiosDear Mr. Resnick:

From March 8th through April 7th, 2016, investigators from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an inspection of your pistachio manufacturing process at your facility located at 13646 Highway 33, Lost Hills, CA 93249. The inspection was conducted in response to a multi-state outbreak of 11 human infections with Salmonella Montevideo (9 cases) and Salmonella Senftenberg (2 cases)) in nine states. Based on traceback and epidemiological evidence taken together with inspectional evidence, we have concluded that pistachio nuts produced by your firm are adulterated within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. 342(a)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(1)] in that they bear or contain Salmonella, a deleterious substance which may render them injurious to health, and within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. 342(a)(4) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(4)], in that they were prepared, packed, and held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.

Our investigators’ observations were noted on Form FDA-483, Inspectional Observations, which our investigators issued to you at the conclusion of the inspection. You may find a copy of the Act and the regulations promulgated under the Act by following links at www.fda.gov.

Based on collaborative epidemiological and investigational efforts between the FDA, CDC, and the California Department of Public Health, we conclude that pistachio nuts produced by Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, LLC were linked to this outbreak of Salmonella infections. Ten of the eleven individuals infected with Salmonella were available for interview, and eight of the ten (80 percent) reported eating pistachios during the week before illnesses onset, five of whom reported eating Wonderful brand pistachios. By comparison, a review of data from the 2006-2007 FoodNet Population Survey, which provides information about food consumption among the general population, suggests that only 12% of consumers would have been expected to consume pistachios in a weeklong period. CDC evaluated the probability of case-patients reporting this exposure among a sample of 10 persons and found significance when four or more case-patients report the exposure. No other food specific food was identified as a suspect vehicle.

trader-joes_-pistachiosAfter reviewing the epidemiological evidence, we inspected your facility and collected three product samples at your firm, each consisting of 30 subsamples. Five of 30 subsamples of one sample of raw in-shell pistachios we collected from your silos yielded four positive tests for Salmonella Senftenberg and one for Salmonella Liverpool. Whole genome sequencing determined that the Salmonella Senftenberg isolates were nearly identical to isolates from case patients involved in the outbreak. The most probable number in these subsamples ranged from less than 3 to 23 Salmonella cells/gram.

We acknowledge that you recalled product in response to this outbreak.

We acknowledge your written response to the Form FDA-483, dated April 19, 2016. In your response you proposed to study the optimal level of chlorine in the (b)(4) tank and to install a (b)(4) system to remove foreign material prior to conveying the pistachios into storage. However, you did not provide us with documentation demonstrating the effectiveness of these changes and any other changes you have made to prevent a reoccurrence of an outbreak.

This letter is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of violations at your facility. You are responsible for ensuring that your facility operates in compliance with the Act and all applicable regulations, including the CGMP regulations for food. You also have a responsibility to use procedures to prevent further violations of the Act and all applicable regulations.

You should take prompt action to correct the violations noted in this letter. Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in enforcement action by FDA without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and/or injunction.

You should respond in writing within 15 working days of receipt of this letter describing the specific steps you have taken to correct the noted violations and to prevent these violations or other similar violations from occurring again. In your response, include documentation, including photographs, corrective actions you have taken to date, or other useful information that would assist us in evaluating your corrections. If you cannot complete all corrections within 15 working days, please state the reason for the delay and include a timetable for implementation of those corrections.

Section 743 of the Act (21 U.S.C. 379j-31) authorizes FDA to assess and collect fees to cover FDA’s costs for certain activities, including reinspection-related costs. A reinspection is one or more inspections conducted subsequent to an inspection that identified noncompliance materially related to a food safety requirement of the Act, specifically to determine whether compliance has been achieved. Reinspection-related costs means all expenses, including administrative expenses, incurred in connection with FDA’s arranging, conducting, and evaluating the results of the reinspection and assessing and collecting the reinspection fees (21 U.S.C. 379j-31(a)(2)(B)). For a domestic facility, FDA will assess and collect fees for reinspection-related costs from the responsible party for the domestic facility.  The inspection noted in this letter identified noncompliance materially related to a food safety requirement of the FFD&C Act.  Accordingly, FDA may assess fees to cover any reinspection-related costs.

When fairytales turn deadly: FDA says 10 children’s deaths may be linked to homeopathic teething tablets

Michelle Ewing of The Statesman reports the deaths of 10 children may be linked to homeopathic tablets that claim to relieve babies’ teething pain, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

homeopathic-teething-tabletsFDA is looking into the deaths and 400 “adverse events” reported to the agency.

“The relationship of these deaths to the homeopathic teething products has not yet been determined and is currently under review,” the FDA said in a statement, according to CNN.

The news comes less than two weeks after the FDA warned parents against using the products amid reports of infants and children having seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy and other health issues after taking the tablets.

On Tuesday, Hyland’s announced it will no longer distribute its teething products in the U.S.

36 sickened: Sprouts are a known cause of foodborne illness

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Abony infections.

amy-sprouts-guelph-05Thirty-six people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Reading or Salmonella Abony were reported from nine states.

Seven ill people were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicated that alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver, Colorado were the likely source of this outbreak.

On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire recalled alfalfa sprout products from the market due to possible Salmonella contamination.

This outbreak appears to be over. However, sprouts are known to cause foodborne illness and outbreaks

Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may have been part of this outbreak. PulseNet, coordinated by CDC, is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.

Thirty-six people infected with the outbreak strains were reported from nine states. Of those ill people, 30 were infected with Salmonella Reading, 1 was infected with Salmonella Abony, and 5 were infected with both.  A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 21, 2016 to September 10, 2016. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 30. Fifty-six percent of ill people were female. Seven ill people reported being hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

This outbreak appears to be over. However, sprouts are known to cause foodborne illness and outbreaks.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicated that alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver, Colorado were the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of the 31 ill people who were interviewed, 18 (58%) reported eating or possibly eating alfalfa sprouts in the week before illness started. This proportion is significantly higher than results from a 2006 survey of healthy people, in which 3% reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts on a sandwich in the week before they were interviewed. Ill people in the current outbreak reported eating raw sprouts on sandwiches from several restaurants.

sprout-salad-aust-aug-15Federal, state, and local health and regulatory officials performed a traceback investigation from five restaurants where ill people reported eating alfalfa sprouts. This investigation indicated that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five of these locations.

On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire recalled its alfalfa sprout products from the market due to possible Salmonella contamination. These products were sold in boxes labeled “5-lb Living Alfalfa.” Read the Advice to Restaurants, Retailers and Consumers.

This outbreak appears to be over. However, sprouts are known to cause foodborne illness and outbreaks. More information about steps to reduce your risk of getting sick from eating sprouts is available on the Advice to Restaurants, Retailers and Consumers page.

At A Glance

Case Count: 36

States: 9

Deaths: 0

Hospitalizations: 7

A table of sprout-related outbreaks is available at: http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-2-23-16.xlsx

Playing with raw dough: 63 sickened with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infections linked to flour (final update)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control worked with public health and regulatory officials in many states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections.

gold-medal-all-purpose5lbSixty-three people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O121 or STEC O26 were reported from 24 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page. WGS showed that isolates from ill people were closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 21, 2015 to September 5, 2016. Ill people range in age from 1 year to 95, with a median age of 18. Seventy-six percent of ill people were female. Seventeen ill people were hospitalized. One person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, and no deaths were reported.

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

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Twenty-eight (76%) of 37 people reported that they or someone in their household used flour in the week before they became ill. Nineteen (50%) of 38 people reported eating or tasting raw homemade dough or batter. Twenty-one (57%) of 37 people reported using Gold Medal brand flour. Three ill people, all children, reported eating or playing with raw dough at restaurants.

In an epidemiologic investigation, investigators compared the responses of ill people in this outbreak to those of people of similar age and gender reported to state health departments with other gastrointestinal illnesses. Results from this investigation indicated an association between getting sick with STEC and someone in the household using Gold Medal brand flour.

Federal, state, and local regulatory officials performed traceback investigations using package information collected from ill people’s homes and records collected from restaurants where ill people were exposed to raw dough. These initial investigations indicated that the flour used by ill people or used in the restaurants was produced during the same week in November 2015 at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri, where Gold Medal brand flour is produced.

whole-wheat_-flour_-jan_-13-768x576On May 31, 2016, General Mills recalled several sizes and varieties of Gold Medal Flour, Gold Medal Wondra Flour, and Signature Kitchens Flour due to possible E. coli contamination. The recalled flours were produced in the Kansas City facility and sold nationwide.

In June 2016, laboratory testing by FDA isolated STEC O121 in open samples of General Mills flour collected from the homes of ill people in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma. WGS showed that the STEC O121 isolates from the flour samples were closely related genetically to the STEC O121 isolates from ill people. The flour collected in Oklahoma was not included in the initial General Mills recall. The other flour samples that were tested came from lots of flour included in the initial recall announced by General Mills. In July 2016, laboratory testing by General Mills and FDA isolated STEC O26 from a sample of General Mills flour. WGS showed that the STEC O26 isolated from the flour sample was closely related genetically to isolates from an ill person in the PulseNet database. The flour tested was not included in the earlier General Mills recalls. As a result of these findings, General Mills expanded its recall on July 1, 2016 and again on July 25, 2016 to include more production dates.

Although the outbreak investigation is over, illnesses are expected to continue for some time. The recalled flour and flour products have long shelf lives and may still be in people’s homes. Consumers who don’t know about the recalls could continue to eat the products and get sick. A list of the recalled products and how to identify them is available on the Advice to Consumers page.

This outbreak is a reminder that is it not safe to taste or 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 germs that can make people sick.

Mt Kisco Smokehouse recalls smoked salmon because of possible health risk

Mt Kisco Smokehouse of Mt Kisco, NY, is voluntarily recalling two types of smoked salmon because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

listeria-mt-kisco-smokehouse-salmonProduct was distributed in New York and Connecticut through retail stores and restaurants between 9/6/2016 to 9/16/2016.

The whole product is packed in an unlabeled paper box and delivered to restaurants.  The sliced product is sold in a clear plastic package and labeled on the back with lot and use by date.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by the FDA inspection revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in floor drains and cracks in the floor.

Eggs from small flocks more likely to contain Salmonella enteritidis

Eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

egg-dirty-feb-12That conclusion — which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that eggs from backyard poultry and small local enterprises are safer to eat than “commercially produced” eggs — was drawn from a first-of-its kind, six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state.

Salmonella enteritidis is a leading foodborne pathogen in the United States, with many outbreaks in humans traced back to shell eggs. The FDA requires shell-egg producers from farms with more than 3,000 chickens be in compliance with the FDA Final Egg Rule, which is aimed at restricting the growth of pathogens. However, small flocks with fewer than 3,000 layer chickens currently are exempted. Eggs from these producers often are marketed via direct retail to restaurants, health-food stores and farmers markets, or sold at on-farm roadside stands.

From April to September 2015, the researchers purchased two to four dozen eggs from each of 240 randomly selected farmers markets or roadside stands representing small layer flocks in 67 counties of Pennsylvania. Internal contents of the eggs and egg shells were cultured separately for Salmonella using standard protocols. Salmonella recovered were classified by serotype, and any Salmonella enteritidis isolates present were further characterized to evaluate their relatedness to isolates of the bacteria that have caused foodborne illness outbreaks.

Test results revealed that of the 240 selling points included in the study, eggs from five — 2 percent — were positive for Salmonella enteritidis. Eggs sold at one of the positive selling points contained the bacteria in egg shells; the eggs from the other four selling points had Salmonella enteritidis in internal contents.

That is a higher prevalence of the pathogen than that found in studies of eggs from large flocks, noted lead researcher Subhashinie Kariyawasam, microbiology section head at Penn State’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. Those eggs, from flocks of more than 3,000 birds, are subject to federal regulations aimed at reducing Salmonella enteritidis contamination.

egg-farmThese regulations require measures such as placement of Salmonella-“clean” chicks, intensive rodent control, cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of pullet and layer houses, continuous testing of eggs from any Salmonella-positive houses, and diverting eggs from Salmonella-positive houses for pasteurization.

Kariyawasam — who presented the research findings to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Avian Pathologists at their August meeting in San Antonio, Texas — said the study clearly demonstrated that Salmonella enteritidis is present in the eggs produced by small flocks.

“The research highlights the potential risk posed by the consumption of eggs produced by backyard and small layer flocks. And, analysis of the Salmonella enteritidis present in the eggs from small flocks shows they are the same types commonly reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from human foodborne outbreaks,” she said. “These findings emphasize the importance of small-producer education on Salmonella enteritidis control measures and perhaps implementation of egg quality-assurance practices to prevent contamination of eggs produced by backyard and other small layer flocks.”

Eggs from small flocks make a negligible contribution to the table egg industry in the United States, Kariyawasam noted. But the growing demand for backyard eggs and eggs from nonfarm environments — with small egg-producing flocks managed in cage-free systems and pasture situations — suggests these production systems deserve some scrutiny.

“We were curious about Salmonella contamination of eggs produced by these flocks because the prevalence of this pathogen in smaller flocks was not known. Now we know that the prevalence of Salmonella enteritidis in eggs produced by small flocks is higher than in eggs produced by larger flocks.”

Trump: Stop regulating poisoned dog food, and people food

Samantha Allen of The Daily Beast e-mailed me about 4:45 a.m.

Of course I was up, and tried to talk quietly so as not to wake the family.



trumpstoneAllen writes that Donald Trump often suggests that dogs can be fired. But who could have guessed that he would come out against safe food for all those unemployed canines?

In an official fact sheet that was pulled offline on Thursday afternoon—but not before The Hill reported its key points—the Trump campaign railed against the “FDA food police,” complaining that the agency “dictate[s] how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food.”

The FDA does indeed regulate pet food—but that’s for good reason. Eleven of the 23 pet food recalls by the FDA since September of last year pulled chow off shelves due to food poisoned by listeria and salmonella.

Dr. Douglas Powell, a former Kansas State University food safety professor who now publishes the popular Barfblog, says the FDA’s role is key.

“Just like we regulate the nutritional content of vitamins that we add to breakfast cereal or bread, dogs also need proper nutrition,” he told The Daily Beast. “We should use science to improve the lives of not only humans but our four-legged companions.”

Paring back dog food regulations wasn’t even the most outrageous suggestion in the now-deleted fact sheet. As The Hill reported, the “FDA food police” was listed as one of many “specific regulations to be eliminated” in Trump’s economic plan. The fact sheet depicted “farm and food production hygiene,”food temperature regulations, and “inspection overkill” as cumbersome and costly safety measures that must be reviewed and potentially “scrapped.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment on the “FDA Food Police” but, according to Dr. Powell, the use of the term is “patently ridiculous.”

“Regulations and the ‘food police’ are there to set minimal standards,” said Powell. “The best companies will go above and beyond those minimal standards.”

So tinkering with what are already basic preventative measures against foodborne illness, Powell says, is simply a bad idea. The FDA has already investigated ten foodborne illness outbreaks so far this year and, according to CDC estimates, every year 48 million Americans get sick from their food and 3,000 of them die. The annual figure for foodborne illness-related hospitalizations is a whopping 128,000.

trumpmcdonaldsPowell predicts that if Trump were to pare back FDA regulations, most providers would still be motivated to produce safe food under threat of litigation but “you would see more people trying to cut corners.”

“Every time we have an outbreak, once you delve into the details, what you find is that it wasn’t some act of God,” Powell explained. “It was a series of small mistakes, largely driven by economics, that add up and lead to catastrophe down the road. And people die.”

In fact, Trump’s own restaurants have benefited from “inspection overkill.” In 2012, as the Associated Press reported, the steakhouse in the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas received 51 violations “including month-old caviar and expired yogurt.” The hotel reportedly “made [adjustments] immediately” and reopened shortly thereafter.

And during an ungraded inspection of the Trump Cafe and Grill October 2015, the New York City health department found 45 violations. By the time the graded inspection came around two months later, the restaurant had reduced the number of violations to 12. Now, it serves delicious taco bowls.

Of course, as Powell explains, it is not usually the FDA itself that goes around looking for aging yogurt in Trump restaurants but rather local food inspectors who largely adhere to the FDA food code.

“[FDA food police] is a term that doesn’t mean anything but it resonates with, I guess, the people who would vote for Trump,” Powell speculated. “He’s just doing it as an anti-regulation thing. It’s not really about food safety. It’s just an easy target.”

unknownThis isn’t the first time that the FDA has been the “easy target” of an anti-regulation message. In the early 1990s, in what the New York Times editorial board would later call “an industry-financed scare campaign,” advertisements helped convince Americans to restrict the FDA’s ability to regulate vitamin and supplement labelling. The result was the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which set up a separate set of standards for dietary supplements than for other food.

One particularly memorable 1993 TV commercial in that “scare campaign,” as Powell recalls, featured Mel Gibson’s house being raided for vitamins by a SWAT team meant to represent the FDA.

“If you don’t want to lose your vitamins, make the FDA stop,” Gibson implores at the end of the ad.

But the Trump campaign may already be rethinking its own anti-FDA stance. As The Hill reported early Thursday evening, the anti-regulation fact sheet has already been replaced with one that doesn’t specifically target the FDA. Humans and dogs everywhere can rest a little easier tonight.

On Dauphin Island, FDA scientists work to keep seafood safe

I love it when scientists and regulators pick up the microphone – or keyboard – and explain what they do.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a couple of military-backed food safety types, as well as those dispatched from Fort Riley in Kansas.

gulf-seafood-lab-1-300x225These friendships endure, and I hope they’ve learned a fraction of what I’ve learned from them.

Capt. William Burkhardt III, Ph.D, Director of FDA’s Division of Seafood Science and Technology, writes that on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, two dozen scientists and staff in the FDA’s only marine research laboratory have one common goal: to keep consumers safe from contaminated or unsafe seafood.

I am the director of the FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory (GCSL) on Dauphin Island, Alabama, where we detect chemical and biological hazards and work to reduce the likelihood of illness associated with seafood. In early August, the agency invited U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt to tour the facility and see our work first-hand. Rep. Aderholt represents Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District and chairs the House Appropriation Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.

At the GCSL, we use the latest technology to detect and identify things that can potentially contaminate seafood. There are drug and chemical residues that may be present from the use of antibiotics and other chemicals in aquaculture production. There are also petrochemicals from off-shore drilling.

There are marine biotoxins that occur naturally, such as harmful algal toxins that go up the marine food chain and eventually get into fish. There are bacteria that occur naturally in marine waters, such as vibrios, that can cause serious, even deadly, illnesses. And there are viruses, such as the norovirus, in marine water that are ingested by shellfish.

We routinely test a wide array of samples from public and private sources, and work closely with FDA’s compliance and enforcement teams in and out of the country so that action can be taken when appropriate.

Our scientists are often brought in when a natural or man-made disaster threatens to contaminate fish or an outbreak is tied to seafood. We’re involved right now in the response to an outbreak of hepatitis A in Hawaii tied to imported scallops, providing microbiological support to identify the virus that has sickened more than 200 people.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, spilling an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we staffed sampling locations. A year after that spill, we allayed the concerns of fishermen participating in the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo tournament, billed as the largest fishing tournament in the world. FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs set up a mobile laboratory in our parking lot and together we tested samples that fishermen brought in, working round-the-clock for two weeks. We were able to assure the fishermen that there was no oil or dispersants in their fish.

In 2005, we were heavily involved in the response to Hurricane Katrina, in which there were concerns that chemicals would be swept into the Gulf and then into the fish. We deployed staff to sample crabs, shrimp and other seafood and send them by courier back to our labs. Ultimately, we found some elevated levels of bacterial contamination, but that dissipated relatively quickly during the time in which the area was closed to fishing.

We are also invited by other countries to assist in emergency response. For example, six years ago we traveled to Chile after an earthquake there and used our technology to detect norovirus in the drinking water.

When Haiti was hit with a cholera outbreak in 2010, we responded in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our tests found cholera in seafood collected from Port au Prince. These findings were used to tighten recommendations on the movement of ballast water in and out of ships to minimize transmission of the outbreak.

We work with the seafood industry to find practical solutions to common problems. For example, we’re working with oyster fisherman to identify strategies to control bacterial (vibrio) growth. And we’ve advised barracuda fishermen to avoid certain parts of the Caribbean where the fish are vulnerable to biotoxins.

As I showed Rep. Aderholt around our labs, it was a good opportunity to reflect on the important work we do here and the impact we have. Whether it’s in the United States or overseas, we want to be known as a group of scientists that helps people everywhere enjoy seafood safely.


Soap and water works: FDA says antibacterial soaps do nothin

Bacteria are good at making babies.

antibacterial.soapSo next time you see an advert claiming the product removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria, talk to a microbiologist who will say that’s a 3-log reduction, we look for 5-7 log reductions.

Maggie Fox of NBC News reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says antibacterial soaps do little or nothing to make soap work any better and said the industry has failed to prove they’re safe. Companies will have a year to take the ingredients out of the products, the FDA said. They include triclosan and triclocarban. Soap manufacturers will have an extra year to negotiate over other, less commonly used ingredients such as benzalkonium chloride.

“Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections,” the FDA said in a statement. “Some manufacturers have already started removing these ingredients from their products.” Triclosan used in 93 percent of liquid products labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” – at least 2,000 different products, according to the FDA. “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water”.

In 2013 FDA gave soap makers a year to show that adding antibacterial chemicals did anything at all to help them kill germs. It made the rule final Friday.

Where’s the leafy greens lobby? Feds to seek listeria, leafy green connections after Dole outbreak

Mike Hornick of The Packer writes that health officials will begin routinely asking listeria outbreak victims if they consumed leafy greens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

lettuce.skull.noroThe addition of leafy greens to the standard federal questionnaire on listeria comes in response to last winter’s outbreak linked to a Dole Fresh Vegetables salad plant in Springfield, Ohio. That outbreak sickened 33 in the U.S. and Canada and was tied to at least one death. Dole stopped production in January and reopened the plant in April.

It was the first reported listeria outbreak in the U.S. associated with leafy greens, and the eighth with fresh produce. All occurred since 2008, according to an Aug. 26 report by the CDC.

“It is unclear whether the appearance of these outbreaks might be attributed to improved outbreak detection, changes in consumer behavior, or changes in production and distribution,” the report says. “Fresh produce processors are advised to review food safety plans and consider incorporating measures to avoid the growth and persistence of listeria.”

In the Ohio centered outbreak, the older questionnaire failed to identify a common source for seven infections reported by Nov. 30.

Then in December and January, eight new or previously interviewed patients or their representatives took part in open-ended interviews or provided shopper card records.

That revealed the connection. All reported consuming leafy greens in the month before the onset of illness.

Among these, seven reported romaine and six reported spinach, higher than national food consumption estimates of 47% and 24%, respectively. Six patients recalled consuming packaged salad, according to the report.

Dole Fresh Vegetables denied responsibility in two foodborne illness lawsuits that followed the outbreak.