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.

Go public with data: More Listeria in more frozen veggies

Country Fresh, LLC. of Conroe, Texas, is recalling 30,000 cases of various fresh-cut vegetable products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

country.fresh.listeriaThe product in question was shipped to retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia under the Country Fresh and store brand labels described in the product listing.

The product bears “BEST IF USED BY” dates between August 7, 2016 (8/7/16) through August 19, 2016 (8/19/16).  The product is in either a clear plastic container as labeled below or in Styrofoam trays overwrapped with clear plastic film as labeled below.  No products except those on this list are subject to this recall.

To date, no illnesses have been confirmed by public health authorities.

“We are treating this incident very seriously because we want to ensure that our customers are provided with only the safest, most wholesome, and high-quality products available,” said Max Payen, Country Fresh’s Director of Food Safety.  The potential for contamination was uncovered as the result of a single routine sample taken at a retail store by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which revealed the finished product tested positive for the bacteria.  

If the company believes its soundbites, will it reveal its own testing results?

CDC version: 4 dead, 33 sickened from Listeria linked to Dole packaged greens

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control came out with a summary of its investigation of Listeria in Dole packaged leafy greens produced at its Columbus, Ohio plant.

lettuce.tomato.skullIn September 2015, PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, identified a cluster of Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) clinical isolates indistinguishable by two-enzyme pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern combination and highly related by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST). A case was defined as isolation of Listeria with the outbreak PFGE pattern and highly related by wgMLST with an isolation date on or after July 5, 2015, the isolate date of the earliest case in this cluster.

A standardized Listeria Initiative questionnaire (1) was used to gather information about foods consumed in the 4 weeks before illness from seven persons identified by November 30, 2015, with isolation dates occurring July 5, 2015–October 30, 2015. This tool did not include leafy green vegetables and failed to identify a common source for the infections. During December 2015 and January 2016, eight new or previously interviewed patients or their surrogates participated in open-ended interviews or provided shopper card records, and all reported consuming leafy greens in the month before illness onset. Among these, seven (88%) reported romaine and six (75%) reported spinach, higher than national food consumption estimates of 47% (p = 0.022) and 24% (p = 0.003), respectively (2). Six patients (75%) recalled consuming packaged salad, and three patients (38%) who recalled brands reported packaged salad brands processed by Company A (that’d be Dole).

The Ohio Department of Agriculture obtained packaged salad processed at Company A’s Ohio facility from a store during routine sampling. On January 14, 2016, PulseNet analyzed sequence data from Listeria isolated from the packaged salad, and the isolate was highly related to the clinical isolates by wgMLST (median allele differences <10). This molecular finding, combined with the epidemiologic information, led the Food and Drug Administration to initiate an inspection of Company A’s Ohio facility on January 16, 2016. Two food samples collected during the inspection yielded Listeria, and wgMLST analysis indicated that they were highly related (median allele differences <10) to clinical and retail product isolates.

On January 21, 2016, Company A voluntarily halted production at its Ohio facility and conducted a market withdrawal of all packaged salad products from that facility because of possible Listeria contamination.* The market withdrawal included 22 varieties of packaged salads sold under various brand names. Company A issued a voluntary recall of these products on January 27, 2016, which further identified the list of affected products and brand names.

After the market withdrawal and recall, CDC fielded >450 inquiries about listeriosis from concerned consumers and clinicians, and the CDC outbreak website received >787,000 page views, more views than after any other foodborne illness outbreak to date.

lettuceAs of March 28, 2016, there were 19 persons meeting the case definition from nine states (Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) with isolation dates through January 31, 2016. All were hospitalized; one died. One illness in a pregnant woman resulted in a preterm live birth. One otherwise healthy child developed meningitis.

The Public Health Agency of Canada investigated 14 cases of listeriosis associated with this outbreak, with onset dates from May 7, 2015 to February 23, 2016 (3). Six Canadian clinical isolates were compared with U.S. clinical isolates and were highly related by wgMLST. Three cases reported consuming packaged salad processed at the Ohio facility. In January 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) collected 55 packaged salads from stores in Canada representing 12 different products processed at the Ohio facility. CFIA isolated the outbreak strain and issued a food recall warning on January 22, 2016, for all products processed at the Ohio facility and distributed in Canada.

The wgMLST analysis identified this listeriosis cluster and provided evidence of the link between contaminated food products and human illness. This allowed timely recall of potentially contaminated food, which might have prevented additional cases of serious illness.

This is the first reported outbreak of listeriosis associated with leafy greens and the eighth reported outbreak of listeriosis associated with fresh produce in the United States; all occurred since 2008 (4).** 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. Fresh produce processors are advised to review food safety plans and consider incorporating measures to avoid the growth and persistence of Listeria.†† The Listeria Initiative questionnaire has been revised to include additional questions about fresh produce to better identify produce vehicles of Listeria.

Outbreak of listeriosis associated with consumption of packaged salad – United States and Canada, 2015-2016

Weekly / August 26, 2016 / 65(33);879–881

JL Self, A Conrad, S Stroika, A Jackson, L Burnworth, J Beal, A Wellman, KA Jackson, S Bidol, T Gerhardt, M Hamel, K Franklin, C Kopko, P Kirsch, ME Wise, C Basler

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6533a6.htm?s_cid=mm6533a6_e

Face palm: Jeni’s says its ice cream is ‘absolutely 100 percent safe’

One of my daughters got married on the weekend. I have two grandsons. The Tragically Hip may never play live again (it’s a Canadian thing, but 1-in-3 Canadians watched the concert Saturday night from Kingston).

jauce.weddingMy other 30-year bookmark is my formal and informal interests in the interactions between science and society. In 1997, I co-wrote a book called Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication.

We had a top-10 list of conclusions to be applied in whatever risky business might come along:

  • a risk information vacuum is a primary factor in the social amplification of risk;
  • regulators are responsible for effective risk communication;
  • industry is responsible for effective risk communication;
  • if you are responsible for communicating about risks, do it early and often;
  • there is always more to a risk issue than what science says;
  • always put the science in a policy context;
  • educating the public about science is no substitute for good risk communication practice;
  • banish no risk messages;
  • risk messages should address directly the contest of opinion in society; and,
  • communicating well has spinoff benefits for good risk management.

I watch these microbial food safety risk shitfests, document them in barfblog.com, and sigh-a-sigh worthy of someone who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

Or maybe I did.

Who knows, at this point.

Following the Listeria-Blue-Bell-ice-cream debacle, some of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams tested positive for Listeria in April, 2015.

At the time, I applauded Jeni’s CEO John Lowe for the proactive steps they announced after finding Listeria in their ice cream, but also wondered why they weren’t looking before?

Lowe also said, “Finally, let me reiterate: we will not make or serve ice cream again until we can ensure it is 100% safe. Until we know more about reopening, we are going to continue to keep our heads down and to work hard to get this issue resolved. But know this: you’ll be hearing from us soon.”

Sounds like some cookie-cutter MBA approach to crisis.

And no one can ensure 100% safe.

triple.face.palmJeni’s possibly found this out, on Aug. 9, 2016, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fired off a warning letter saying Listeria had again been found in Jan. and Feb. 2016 in their Columbus facility.

“Two of 75 samples were found to have listeria by the FDA’s lab. Those two samples came from:

* The floor adjacent to the prep room, nine feet from a prep table where the base for Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso was being processed and packaged.

* The floor of the wash room by a drain, two feet from a sink used to wash, rinse and sanitize equipment parts, utensils and containers used in production.”

Jeni’s said it took immediate corrective actions and prevented any spread to food contact surfaces or areas around food contact surfaces. It also noted that it has taken more than 2,000 environmental swabs in the past year and listeria has never been detected on food contact surfaces or around food contact surfaces and that its “test-and-hold” procedures, which have been in place for a year, have not turned up a single positive test for listeria.

Dan Eaton of Columbus Business First quotes founder Jeni Britton Bauer, CEO John Lowe and Quality Leader Mary Kamm as jointly writing in a Wednesday blog post“As a result of our sanitation and other food safety procedures, our environmental testing program and our test-and-hold procedures, we can assure everyone that the food we produce is absolutely 100 percent safe.”

Triple face palm, like Neapolitan.

 

 

MNA fighter’s Listeria death shines light on illness

Amy Frazier of KOIN 6 reports the death last week of MMA fighter Chael Sonnen‘s newborn daughter from a listeria infection shined a spotlight on the foodborne illness.

Brittany-Smith-Chael-Sonnen-girlfriend-pictures1Sonnen, a West Linn native described as “one of the most polarizing figures in MMA,” talked about his baby, Blauna, on his podcast. She was born 10 weeks prematurely, and both she and his wife, Brittany, were diagnosed with listeriosis, said MMA official Jeff Meyer.

The CDC said listeriosis is usually caused by eating contaminated food and primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

“It is worrisome in pregnancy because there is the chance a pregnant woman can pass the infection on to her fetus and that can cause potentially serious complications like miscarriage, still birth, preterm labor. So it can be serious in pregnancy,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the Deputy Health Officer for the Multnomah County Health Department.

“It’s an illness that would be hard to distinguish from others, so we talk about flu-like symptoms,” she said — fever, muscle aches, feeling tired, vomiting and diarrhea.

Vines said listeria is rare among pregnant women. Over the past 5 years, she said there’s been about 10 cases of listeria, “and of those, only 2 of those have been pregnant women.”

She suggested pregnant women steam hot dogs or deli meats, avoid unpasteurized cheeses and avoid cross-contamination from the water in the package to any other foods, like a salad.

“You’d want to avoid any unpasteurized milk and then any unpasteurized milk that’s used to make cheese,” Vines said.

Can a vaccine protect fetuses and newborns from listeriosis

Listeriosis is a fatal infection for fetuses and newborns with two clinical main morbidities in the neonatal period, meningitis and diffused cutaneous lesions.

amy.pregnant.listeriaIn this study, we vaccinated pregnant females with two gold glyconanoparticles (GNP) loaded with two peptides, listeriolysin peptide 91–99 (LLO91–99) or glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 1–22 peptide (GAPDH1–22). Neonates born to vaccinated mothers were free of bacteria and healthy, while non-vaccinated mice presented clear brain affections and cutaneous diminishment of melanocytes.

Therefore, these nanoparticle vaccines are effective measures to offer pregnant mothers at high risk of listeriosis interesting therapies that cross the placenta.

Pregnancy vaccination with gold glyco-nanoparticles carrying Listeria monocytogenes peptides protects against Listeriosis and brain- and cutaneous-associated morbidities

Nanomaterials 2016, 6(8), 151; doi:10.3390/nano6080151 (registering DOI)

R Calderón-Gonzalez, H Terán-Navarro, E Frande-Cabanes, E Ferrández-Fernández, J Freire, S Penadés, S Yañez-Díaz, C Alvarez-Domínguez

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-4991/6/8/151

It ain’t happening at retail: Cut cantaloupe needs to be stored at 4C to control Listeria growth

Cantaloupes, marketed as “Rocky Ford,” were implicated in the U.S. multistate outbreak of listeriosis in 2011, which caused multiple fatalities. Listeria monocytogenes can survive on whole cantaloupes and can be transferred to the flesh of melons.

fresh-cut.cantaloupeThe growth of L. monocytogenes on fresh-cut “Athena” and “Rocky Ford” cantaloupe cultivars during refrigerated storage was evaluated. Fresh-cut cubes (16.4 cm3) from field-grown cantaloupes were each inoculated with 5 log10 CFU/mL of a multi-strain mixture of L. monocytogenes and stored at 4°C or 10°C. Inoculated fresh-cut cubes were also: (1) continuously stored at 4°C for 3 days; (2) temperature-abused (TA: 25°C for 4 h) on day 0; or (3) stored at 4°C for 24 h, exposed to TA on day 1, and subsequently stored at 4°C until day 3. L. monocytogenes populations on fresh-cut melons continuously stored at 4°C or 10°C were enumerated on selected days for up to 15 days and after each TA event. Brix values for each cantaloupe variety were determined. L. monocytogenes populations on fresh-cut cantaloupe cubes stored at 4°C increased by 1.0 and 3.0 log10 CFU/cube by day 7 and 15, respectively, whereas those stored at 10°C increased by 3.0 log10 CFU/cube by day 7.

Populations of L. monocytogenes on fresh-cut cantaloupes stored at 10°C were significantly (p < 0.05) greater than those stored at 4°C during the study. L. monocytogenes showed similar growth on fresh-cut “Athena” and “Rocky Ford” cubes, even though “Athena” cubes had significantly higher Brix values than the “Rocky Ford” fruit.

L. monocytogenes populations on fresh-cut cantaloupes exposed to TA on day 1 and then refrigerated were significantly greater (0.74 log10 CFU) than those stored continuously at 4°C for 3 days. Storage at 10°C or exposure to TA events promoted growth of L. monocytogenes on fresh-cut cantaloupe during refrigerated storage.

Survival and growth of Listeria monocytogenes on fresh-cut “Athena” and “Rocky Ford” cantaloupes during storage at 4°C and 10°C

Nyarko Esmond, Kniel Kalmia E., Reynnells Russell, East Cheryl, Handy Eric T., Luo Yaguang, Millner Patricia D., and Sharma Manan. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. August 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2160.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2160

Seek and ye shall find: Frozen corn recalled after Listeria-positive

Cambridge Farms of York, Pa., is voluntarily recalling frozen corn distributed at retail supermarkets in 15 states, including North Carolina.

Laura Lynn Frozen Cut CornThe company launched the recall after a routine sample collected at a retail location by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported to date.

“This recall is a direct result of our routine surveillance program, where our inspectors collect products commonly purchased by consumers in our state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These products are then tested at our Food and Drug Protection Lab for common pathogens such as Listeria, Salmonella and E coli.”

The following products and production codes are included in this recall:

Laura Lynn Frozen Cut Corn in a 16-ounce Polybag UPC 8685401734


  • Code SWFF/R10312, Best by 4/11/18
  • Code SWFFR/10452, Best by 5/09/18
  • Code SWFF/R10609, Best by 6/6/18

Laura Lynn Frozen Cut Corn in a 32-ounce Polybag UPC 8685401717


  • Code SWFF/R 10482, Best by 5/10/18

Key Food Frozen Cut Corn in a 16-ounce Polybag UPC 7329607091


  • Code SWFF/R10320, Best by 4/11/18
  • Code SWFF/R10405, Best by 5/2/18

Better Valu Frozen Cut Corn in a 14-ounce Polybag UPC 7980124561

  • Code SWFF/R10308, Best by 4/11/18

The above codes will be on the back of the retail package.

MNA fighter’s wife Chael Sonnen’s daughter born premature, battling Listeria

I don’t care how tough you are, Listeria, with a 30 per cent kill rate, is some scary shit and not to be taken lightly.

001_Chael_Sonnen_gallery_post.0Chael Sonnen’s daughter was born 10 weeks premature last week, Sonnen informed MMA Fighting.

According to doctors, Sonnen’s wife, Brittany, contracted listeria, which caused the early birth. The illness has been passed along to their daughter, as well.

Sonnen is currently unsure how his wife contracted the disease. He has retained the law firm Flesher Schaff & Schroeder Inc. to investigate whether she consumed contaminated food, and they have already reached out to the CDC and FDA on behalf of the Sonnen family.

“She’s in a battle and we are prepared to fight,” Sonnen said.

Blauna Dian Sonnen was born Friday, Aug. 12, in Portland, Ore. The couple also has an older son, Thero.

Really, it wasn’t us: Leafy green cone of silence, Dole version

As early as 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had evidence that Listeria was circulating in Dole’s Springfield, Ohio plant, which bags lettuce and other supposedly healthy meals.

spongebob.oil.colbert.may3.10It took 18 months before Dole shut down and issued a recall.

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

Last week, attorneys for Dole denied responsibility in a wrongful death lawsuit linked to a listeria outbreak that has since been tied to its Springfield plant.

The Dole legal thingies argued its product was not defective when it left the company’s Listeria-positive facility.

“Any later defect was caused by a substantial alteration and change in the condition of the product by other parties over whom Dole had no control,” the company’s response states.

The most recent case was filed when Ellen H. DiStefano, 79, of Franklin County, became ill on Jan. 17 after eating a salad she bought in Belmont County that was packaged in Springfield, according to the complaint. She was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with an infection caused by the listeria monocytogenes bacteria and died on Feb. 27, the complaint states.

The case is one of two civil lawsuits pending against the Springfield manufacturer. The company has also denied responsibility for an incident in which a Warren County woman said her mother was left in a coma after eating salad tainted with listeria. That case is also pending in U.S. District Court.

Given that level of legal swarminess, I wouldn’t touch the stuf.