Shiga-toxin E. coli in New Zealand cattle

Nationwide prevalence and risk factors for fecal carriage of Escherichia coli O157 and O26 in cattle were assessed in a 2-year cross-sectional study at four large slaughter plants in New Zealand.

cow-meatRecto-anal mucosal swab samples from a total of 695 young (aged 4–7 days) calves and 895 adult cattle were collected post-slaughter and screened with real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of E. coli O157 and O26 [Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and non-STEC]. Co-infection with either serogroup of E. coli (O157 or O26) was identified as a risk factor in both calves and adult cattle for being tested real-time PCR-positive for E. coli O157 or O26.

As confirmed by culture isolation and molecular analysis, the overall prevalence of STEC (STEC O157 and STEC O26 combined) was significantly higher in calves [6·0% (42/695), 95% confidence interval (CI) 4·4–8·1] than in adult cattle [1·8% (16/895), 95% CI 1·1–3·0] (P < 0·001).

This study is the first of its kind in New Zealand to assess the relative importance of cattle as a reservoir of STEC O157 and O26 at a national level. Epidemiological data collected will be used in the development of a risk management strategy for STEC in New Zealand.

Nationwide prevalence and risk factors for faecal carriage of Escherichia coli O157 and O26 in very young calves and adult cattle at slaughter in New Zealand

Jarosa1 c1, A. L. Cooksona2, A. Reynoldsa1, D. J. Prattleya1, D. M. Campbella3, S. Hathawaya3 and N. P. Frencha1

a1 mEpiLab, Hopkirk Research Institute, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

a2 AgResearch Ltd, Hopkirk Research Institute, Palmerston North, New Zealand

a3 Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, New Zealand

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr P. Jaros, mEpiLab, Hopkirk Research Institute, IVABS, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

Epidemiology and Infection, Volume 144, Issue 8, June 2016, Pages 1736-1747, DOI:

Foster Poultry Farms recalls products due to possible foreign materials contamination

There’s not a lot of blue food.

That’s why the color blue is often used on plastic and packaging in food facilities.

blue.soupIf it falls off, it shows up.

Food manufacturers perform technological wizadry in screening everything from produce to poultry for physical hazards.

Foster Poultry Farms, a Farmerville, La. establishment, is recalling approximately 220,450 pounds of fully cooked frozen chicken nuggets that may be contaminated with extraneous blue plastic and black rubber materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced.

The fully cooked frozen chicken breast nuggets were produced on Feb. 22, 2016 and March 8, 2016. The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF Only)]

5-lb. bags containing FOSTER FARMS “Breast Nuggets – Nugget Shaped Breaded Chicken Breast Patties with Rib Meat.” The bags exhibit best by dates of 2/21/17 and 3/8/17.

10-lb. bulk boxes containing FOSTER FARMS “Fully Cooked Breast Nuggets – Nugget Shaped Chicken Breast Patties with Rib Meat Fritters.” The boxes contain package code 6053 and 6068.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-33901” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distributors in Alaska, Arizona, California, Utah, and Washington state.

The problem was discovered after the company received several consumer complaints and immediately notified FSIS on April 29, 2016.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Avoid the soup or sandwiches: Norovirus suspected as 40 now sick at Carnegie-Mellon linked to café

At least 40 people have gotten sick after eating at La Prima Espresso on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus earlier this week, including two people who worked at the eatery, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

La Prima ExpressoThe outbreak at the eatery, which closed for cleaning today, is believed to have been caused by transmission of a norovirus, a highly contagious virus that can be spread by ingestion, as well as mere contact with an infected surface or person, said Karen Hacker, health department director.

“The question for us now is was it something from the food handling itself,” she said.

There may be more people who were infected but have not reported it to a health agency and are just dealing with the discomforting, but rarely serious symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea that can last two to three days, Dr. Hacker said. No one is known to have been hospitalized by the illness in this case.

Officials involved in the ongoing investigation by the university, health department and La Prima, believe that the people who got sick may have eaten or come in contact with either the soup or sandwiches served there on Monday or Tuesday.

CMU tried to downplay the outbreak earlier this week, refusing to comment since Wednesday beyond a brief alert posted on its website Wednesday afternoon saying that 15 students had reported getting sick and that La Prima had pulled “certain food items” as a result.

The reason it was asked to do a more thorough cleaning was because it told the county on Thursday that two of La Prima’s employees had gotten sick, too, said Donna Scharding, the health department’s food safety program manager. CMU did not mention that in its alert to campus.

Over 1200 sick: Campaign launched to fight Norovirus infection in Philippines

It’s gonna to more than edumacation to “effectively prevent and control the spread of the viral infection in Manila.

dude.wash.handsCity Health Officer Dr. Rodel Agbulos said his office has been saturating the different communities with varied information, education and communication (IEC) materials, through health centers and places of convergence in the different barangays.

Through the declaration, the CHO and other concerned offices and agencies and all health institutions in the city have been directed to institute, undertake and implement curative and proactive measures to effectively address and eradicate the outbreak.

CHO Epidemiology Division Chief Dr. Ivy Iturralde said the aggressive campaign will be focused on the practice of hand washing and proper hygiene.

Go back to sleep, problem contained: 300 sick with Salmonella from sprouts in Australia

Salmonella-carrying bean sprouts that led to more than 300 cases of the disease in South Australia and the Northern Territory were, according to this story which long on faith short on detail, contaminated in an SA factory.

kevin.allen.sproutAbout half the Salmonella Saintpaul cases occurred over the past few weeks and 60 people were hospitalised after eating raw mung bean sprouts since the outbreak began in December.

But SA Health’s chief medical officer Paddy Phillips, who usually sees fewer than 20 cases of the strain each year, says bean sprouts are again safe to eat after the factory’s processors were cleaned.

“This business was completely compliant with all our investigations and there is no reason to believe there are any further issues with the production of bean sprouts at this factory,” he said on Friday.

An updated table of raw sprout related outbreaks is available at:

Over 300 sick in Sweden, school kitchens suspect

At least 300 people have fallen ill in a large outbreak of stomach flu that has hit students and staff in Sollentuna. Food preparation kitchens are suspected.

barf.swedenThere is a likely connection to the cooking kitchen in Häggvik School, says Elisabeth Thelin, Director of Administration in the environmental and planning office in the municipality of Sollentuna.

The municipality cooperates with the Infectious Diseases Stockholm to stop the spread of infection and find out what has caused stomach illness outbreak. Among other things, the kitchen cleaned and samples taken.

An investigation is underway. Yet we do not know what is the cause and it is important not to speculate, says Elisabeth Thelin.

Are ready-to-eat salads ready to eat?

We investigated a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Coeln in Norway, including 26 cases identified between 20 October 2013 and 4 January 2014. We performed a matched case-control study, environmental investigation and detailed traceback of food purchases to identify the source of the outbreak.

lettuce.skull.noroIn the case-control study, cases were found to be more likely than controls to have consumed a ready-to-eat salad mix (matched odds ratio 20, 95% confidence interval 2·7–∞). By traceback of purchases one brand of ready-to-eat salad was indicated, but all environmental samples were negative for Salmonella.

This outbreak underlines that pre-washed and bagged salads carry a risk of infection despite thorough cleaning procedures by the importer. To further reduce the risk of infection by consumption of ready-to-eat salads product quality should be ensured by importers.

Outbreaks linked to salads reinforce the importance of implementation of appropriate food safety management systems, including good practices in lettuce production.

Are ready-to-eat salads ready to eat? An outbreak of Salmonella Coeln linked to imported, mixed, pre-washed and bagged salad, Norway, November 2013

F. Vestrheima1a2 c1, H. Langea1a3, K. Nygårda1, K. Borgena1, A. L. Westera1, M. L. Kvarmea4 and L. Volda1

Epidemiology and Infection, Volume 144, Issue 8, June 2016, pages 1756-1760, DOI:

4 dead, 33 ill from Listeria in lettuce: Of course Dole knew

Beginning August 2, 1998, over 80 Americans fell ill, 15 were killed, and at least six women miscarried due to listerosis. On Dec. 19, 1998, the outbreak strain was found in an open package of hot dogs partially consumed by a victim. The manufacturer of the hot dogs, Sara Lee subsidiary Bil Mar Foods, Inc., quickly issued a recall of what would become 35 million pounds of hot dogs and other packaged meats produced at the company’s only plant in Michigan. By Christmas, testing of unopened packages of hot dogs from Bil Mar detected the same genetically unique L. monocytegenes bacteria, and production at the plant was halted.

four.monkeysA decade later, the deaths of two Toronto nursing home residents in the summer of 2008 were attributed to listeriosis infections. These illnesses eventually prompted an August 17, 2008 advisory to consumers by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. to avoid serving or consuming certain brands of deli meat as the products could be contaminated with L. monocytogenes. When genetic testing determined a match between contaminated meat products and listeriosis patients, all products manufactured at a Toronto Maple Leaf Foods plant were recalled and the facility closed. An investigation by the company determined that organic material trapped deep inside the plant’s meat slicing equipment harbored L. monocytogenes, despite routine sanitization that met specifications of the equipment manufacturer. In total, 57 cases of listeriosis as well as 22 deaths were definitively connected to the consumption of the plant’s contaminated deli meats.

As far back as 2013, Blue Bell ice cream was finding Listeria in places like floors, catwalks and cleaning tubs. Blue Bell had positive listeria findings from at least 11 swabs of plant surfaces between March 2013 and November 2014. Each time, it vigorously cleaned the area, and moved on without testing the equipment that touches the ice cream. At the same time, Blue Bell had problems with the layout of its plants, with condensation dripping all over the place. After federal officials linked an illness outbreak to Blue Bell in 2015, they tested the company’s food processing equipment and found LM. Three people died and 10 were sickened.

In all three Listeria outbreaks, the companies had data that showed an increase in Listeria-positive samples.

But rather than pay attention, they ignored the safety.

Those who study engineering failures –the BP oil well in the Gulf, the space shuttle Challenger, Bhopal – say the same thing: human behavior can mess things up.

listeria4In most cases, an attitude prevails that is, “things didn’t go bad yesterday, so the chances are, things won’t go bad today.”

And those in charge begin to ignore the safety systems.

Or hope the problem will just go away.

Kellogg’s was taking Salmonella-contaminated peanut paste based on paperwork in 2009? Pay attention, Nestle did.

In 2009, the operator of a yakiniku barbecue restaurant chain linked to four deaths and 70 illnesses from E. coli O111 in raw beef in Japan admitted it had not tested raw meat served at its outlets for bacteria, as required by the health ministry.

“We’d never had a positive result [from a bacteria test], not once. So we assumed our meat would always be bacteria-free.”

Chipotle Mexican Grill was aware of a norovirus outbreak among people who had eaten in one of its restaurants in Simi Valley, Calif., but did not tell public health officials there until after it had closed and cleaned the restaurant. More than 200 people were sickened.

So it’s no surprise that officials at Dole’s Springfield, Ohio plant, which bags lettuce and other supposedly healthy meals, knew about Listeria in its facility for 18 months before shutting down and issuing a recall.

Four people have died and 33 sickened in Canada and the U.S. from Listeria in the Dole products.

Kudos to Bill Marler and his Food Safety News, as well as Food Poisoning Bulletin, for filing the Freedom of Information request on U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections at the Dole plant and putting together a preliminary picture of who knew what when.

Inspection reports (483) obtained by Food Safety News revealed the timeline of positive Listeria results and inaction. Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. finally suspended production at its salad plant in Springfield, OH, on Jan. 21 this year after a random test by state officials showed a bagged salad contained Listeria monocytogenes.

Dole restarted production at the plant in Springfield, OH, on April 21. Company officials won’t say what was done to clean the plant or how they plan to prevent future contamination there.

powell_soli_AUG2Inspectors from FDA checked the production plant three times in January and twice in February after genetic fingerprinting showed the undeniable link between the sick people and salads from the facility. They collected swab samples, unfinished product samples, testing records and other documents and information.

According to the FDA’s inspection reports, in July 2014 Dole did swab tests of surfaces in the Springfield plant. The tests returned positive results for Listeria, but the facility kept producing salads, shipping them to dozens of states and at least five Canadian provinces.

At least five more times in 2014 and three times in late 2015 Dole’s internal tests showed Listeria contamination, but Dole kept the salad lines kept rolling until January this year.

The FDA inspection report states that Dole’s vice president for quality assurance and food safety, as well as the company’s quality assurance manager, were aware internal tests on Jan. 5 and 7 this year showed Listeria on equipment and other surfaces in the plant. But Dole continued to produce and ship salads.

The plant kept operating until Jan. 21. The following day Dole posted a recall notice with the FDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for salads produced at the Springfield facility. Dole branded salads and house brands for Walmart, Kroger, Loblaws and Aldi were included in the recall.

Marler, a prominent food safety lawyer who represents one of the victims in a lawsuit against Dole told Stephanie Strom of the N.Y. Times, “If the government inspectors hadn’t showed up, who knows when or if they were going to tell anyone.”

“They’d been having positive tests for listeria for some time,” said William Goldfield, a spokesman for Dole. “We understand these recent news reports may raise questions among our consumers and customers. They should be assured, however, that we have worked in conjunction with the F.D.A. to address those observations and ensure that Dole products are safe.”

Lauren Sucher, a spokeswoman at the F.D.A., said that companies must notify the agency when they find a food has a “reasonable probability” of causing serious adverse health consequences.

But, Ms. Sucher said, not all strains of listeria cause disease. “When listeria is found in the manufacturing environment, rather than on the food itself, it is not uncommon for a company to immediately take corrective action rather than test further to see if the strain of listeria poses a threat,” she wrote in an email.

Food companies that find listeria during periodic testing are not required to run further tests to determine whether the pathogen is of a toxic variety.

In Dole’s case, it was swabbing various locations in its plant in Springfield, Ohio, not necessarily testing the finished products, according to the F.D.A. inspection. Rather, Canadian public health officials investigating an outbreak of listeriosis dating to summer 2015, tested bagged Dole salads and found four varieties that were contaminated.

Listeria in Italy: An on-going outbreak

In the first seven weeks of 2016, six cases of invasive listeriosis were recorded in Ancona province, Italy. Five strains of Listeria monocytogenes serotype 1/2a were isolated and typed by enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus (ERIC)-PCR and PFGE, indicating clonality. In addition, seven serotype 1/2a L. monocytogenes strains from cases of invasive listeriosis recorded in the same area in 2015 were also typed and showed relatedness. Here we provide details of the ongoing outbreak.

listeria4From 4 January to 15 February 2016, six L. monocytogenes strains (3 from blood, 3 from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)) were isolated from six patients diagnosed with invasive listeriosis at the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory of Ancona Regional Hospital (eastern Italy) of Area Vasta 2 (AV2) which encompasses Ancona, Fabriano, Senigallia, and Jesi.

Patients had been admitted to four different departments: emergency room (ER) (n=2), oncology (n=2), infectious diseases (n=1), and intensive care unit (ICU) (n=1). Four of the six patients were women and the most common risk factors/underlying conditions were: age (n=5; >71 years), cancer (n=2), and diabetes (n=1). Clinical manifestations included septicaemia (n=3), meningitis (n=2) and meningoencephalitis (n=1).

In addition to the cases detected in 2016, eight L. monocytogenes strains (5 from blood and 3 from CSF) had been isolated in AV2 (from 7 cases) and nearby Ascoli Piceno (from 1 case) in 2015 (Figure 1); clinical samples came from six hospital departments: ER (n=1), general medicine (n=3), nephrology (n=1), vascular surgery (n=1), infectious diseases (n=1), and ICU (n=1). Five patients were men and the mean patient age was 73.6 years (range: 55–84; median: 75); a 77 year-old man died.

The 2015 and 2016 isolates were identified as L. monocytogenes by Gram staining and the Vitek MS system (bioMérieux Italia SpA, Firenze, Italy). Susceptibility to ampicillin, meropenem, erythromycin, and sulphamethoxazole-trimethoprim was tested by the E-Test (Liofilchem, Teramo, Italy) according to the European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST) guidelines [1]. All strains were susceptible to all the antibiotics tested.

The incidence of listeriosis has been rising since the early 2000s in several European countries, mainly in immunocompromised patients older than 65 years [7-9]. In particular, a statistically significant increase was reported in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, France, Spain, and Sweden from 2005 to 2009 [10]. In the past 30 years, outbreaks of listeriosis have been mostly linked to serotype 1/2a and 4b clones [8]. A shift to serotype 1/2a has been observed in Europe and North America in the last decade [8]. In Italy, surveillance of invasive listeriosis has found an increase in serotype 1/2a isolates over the same period, mainly in the central and northern regions (about 80% of cases) [10-14].

Listeriosis is an infection of great concern to public health due its clinical severity and high case fatality rate, despite its low incidence compared with other foodborne diseases such as salmonellosis or campylobacteriosis. The present data suggest an ongoing outbreak of listeriosis due to serotype 1/2a L. monocytogenes in AV2 that most probably started in 2015, since the strain was already present in the area in 2015. As in other European countries, most cases were associated with an underlying condition and involved elderly people [8,9].

Local authorities are working with the Italian national public health institute (the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome) and the regional Istituto Zooprofilattico Umbria and Marche to identify the sources of food contamination. A recent press release [15] points out that there are findings which suggest contamination of a pork product as a possible vehicle of infection for at least one human case. At present, however, no clear link can be established between the contaminated pork product and the infections. Investigation into the source of infection in AV2 is still in progress.


Ongoing outbreak of invasive listeriosis due to serotype 1/2a Listeria monocytogenes, Ancona Province, Italy, January 2015 To February 2016

28 April 2016

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 17

E Marini, G Magi, C Vincenzi, E Manso, B Facinelli

Damn that Listeria is tricky

Listeria monocytogenes is an important foodborne pathogen commonly isolated from food processing environments and food products.

listeria4This organism can multiply at refrigeration temperatures, form biofilms on different materials and under various conditions, resist a range of environmental stresses, and contaminate food products by cross-contamination. L. monocytogenes is recognized as the causative agent of listeriosis, a serious disease that affects mainly individuals from high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals.

Listeriosis can be considered a disease that has emerged along with changing eating habits and large-scale industrial food processing. This disease causes losses of billions of dollars every year with recalls of contaminated foods and patient medical treatment expenses. In addition to the immune status of the host and the infecting dose, the virulence potential of each strain is crucial for the development of disease symptoms. While many isolates are naturally virulent, other isolates are avirulent and unable to cause disease; this may vary according to the presence of molecular determinants associated with virulence.

In the last decade, the characterization of genetic profiles through the use of molecular methods has helped track and demonstrate the genetic diversity among L. monocytogenes isolates obtained from various sources. The purposes of this review were to summarize the main methods used for isolation, identification, and typing of L. monocytogenes and also describe its most relevant virulence characteristics.

The continuous challenge of characterizing the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. April 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.2115.

Camargo Anderson Carlos, Woodward Joshua John, and Nero Luís Augusto