Texas health officials fine Blue Bell a little following Listeria outbreak

Karen Robinson-Jacobs of Dallas News reports Blue Bell Creameries has been fined $850,000 by Texas health officials as a penalty for a Listeria outbreak, announced last year, that sickened 10 people and lead to a total shut down of company operations.

blue.bell.jul.15Three people died, but the company may only end up paying a fraction of that amount.

Under an enforcement agreement announced Friday between Brenham-based Blue Bell and the Texas Department of State Health Services, $175,000 must be paid within 30 days. The remaining $675,000 will be paid only if the company violates the terms of the agreement in an 18-month period, according to the state agreement.

Assuming all goes well with monitoring and testing, “upon successful completion of the eighteen-month term, the remaining balance of funds held in abeyance will be forgiven by” the state, the agreement said. 

Officials with Blue Bell could not be reached for comment.

Attorney Bill Marler, who specializes in representing victims of food-borne illness, said he thinks the fact that Blue Bell was hit with a fine is noteworthy.

“If it is $1 or $1 million, I think any fine for producing bad food sends a powerful message,” said Marler. “Any fine is very unusual. That is why any amount is significant. “

He said he has not heard whether any fines were levied by Oklahoma or Alabama, home to additional Blue Bell plants, but added “I would imagine they will.”

Under the agreement, makers of the iconic Texas brand will continue to test and monitor the ice cream following last year’s outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Blue Bell products made in Brenham.  

Research firm PrivCo estimated that, due to the recall, Blue Bell’s 2015 sales plummeted by nearly 60 percent to $288 million.

Listeria forces recall of NZ smoked salmon products

On 27 July 2016, Prime Foods NZ Ltd recalled 50g packs of its smoked salmon slices. The recall was extended on 29 July 2016 to also include:

Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Shavings (100g)

Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Mixed Pieces (500g)

prime-smoke-smoked-salmon-1-600Product identification

Product type                       Smoked Salmon (Ready-to-eat meat product)

Name of product               Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Slices (50g)
Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Shavings (100g)
Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Mixed Pieces (500g)

Batch and date marking      Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Slices (50g)
Batch code 18321507
Use by 25/08/2016

Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Shavings (100g)
Batch Code 17621207
Use By 22/08/2016

Prime Smoke brand Smoked Salmon Mixed Pieces (500g)
Batch Code 17621207
Use By 22/08/2016

Package size and description         Sold in plastic vacuum packages of 50g, 100g and 500g.

Distribution                         The products are sold in retail outlets and supermarkets throughout New Zealand.

Herring Salads recalled because of Listeria positives

SM Fish Corp. of Far Rockaway, NY, is voluntarily recalling OSSIE’S brand ready-to-eat Herring Salads because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

ucm514138The recalled products were sold at the firm’s eight retail outlets located in New York and New Jersey.

The recalled products were packed in plastic deli containers with a UPC Code and “Best By” date codes of 7/21/16 through 08/20/16 (located on the bottom of the tub):

OSSIE’S PICKLED LOX DAIRY, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885114136;

OSSIE’S HERRING IN SOURCREAM, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885114174;

OSSIE’S TAAM SHABBOS HERRING, NET WT. 7 OZ., UPC 739885109057;

OSSIES’S STIGLITZ HERRING, NET WT. 7 OZ., UPC 739885109064;

OSSIE’S WASABI HERRING, NET WT. 7 OZ., UPC 739885109088;

OSSIE’S SWEDISH MATJES HERRING, NET WT. 7 OZ., UPC 739885109101;

OSSIE’S DUBLIN HERRING, NET WT. 7 OZ., UPC 739885109002;

OSSIE’S HONEY MUSTARD HERRING; NET WT. 7 OZ. 739885109019;

OSSIE’S PICKLED LOX & CREAM, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885104113;

OSSIE’S SHMALTZ HERRING, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885104182;

OSSIE’S ROMAN SHMALTZ HERRING, NET WT. 7 OZ., UPC 739885109026;

OSSIE’S PICKLED HERRING, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885104175;

OSSIE’S PICKLED HERRING CLEAR, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885104205;

OSSIE’S PICKLED LOX, NET WT. 8 OZ., UPC 739885104137.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was the result of sampling and inspectional findings by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). SM Fish Corp. has ceased production and distribution of products as the company and the FDA continue their investigation as to the cause of the problem.

Have your people call mine: Let’s Do Lunch, Inc. dba integrated food service voluntary expands recall

Let’s Do Lunch, Inc., dba Integrated Food Service (IFS), is expanding the scope of their June 19, 2016, voluntarily recall of certain ready-to-eat sandwiches because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported to date.

WKRP- Herb's jacketThe recall is being conducted in response to additional environmental testing following the initial investigation. There were no positive findings in any food products or on food contact surfaces. IFS initiated a thorough cleaning and disinfection process, followed by extensive testing, and also has engaged outside food safety experts to review the company’s processes and policies. The company is working closely with FDA officials and has voluntarily expanded the recall to include products produced between 5/18/16 and 6/16/16. The products were distributed to foodservice distributors in eight States. No retail products are affected by this recall.

The schools and foodservice distributors were located in the following states: CA, MI, NC, NM, OH, PA, TX, VA, WA. On the IFS website, customers will find a list of school districts that received the products being recalled. The list will be updated daily as further information becomes available.

Delhaize in Luxembourg recalls smoked chicken over Listeria

Delhaize has recalled a batch of smoked chicken after traces of listeria were found in the product.

Delhaize. luxemborg.listeriaThe recall concerns only the Delhaize brand of “emincé de poulet à l’italienne”. It comes after consultation with Belgian food safety authority the AFSCA.

Delhaize has already withdrawn from sale the affected batch, which forms part of batch 6202, best before date 17/08/2016.

The supermarket chain is urging clients who may have purchased the product not to consume it but to return it to a Delhaize store for a refund.

Cats say what? Food recalled for Salmonella, Listeria risks

A voluntary recall went out over the weekend for four different lots of cat food made by a Portland company.

sorenne.cats.aug.15Radagast Pet Food, Inc. recalled Rad Cat Raw Diet products, sold in 8, 16 and 24 ounce tubs, as well as given in 1 ounce sample cups. 

The company recalled the foods due to threats of Salmonella and Listeria contamination. Handling the products and not washing hands afterward could spread the bacteria to humans. 

The FDA third party contracted lab found two lots of Grass-Fed Beef tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, one lot of Free-range Chicken tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, and one lot of Free-range Turkey tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. As a precautionary measure, we are voluntarily recalling three products produced in these four lots.

All affected lot codes 62384, 62361, 62416, and 62372 and Best By dates are located on the lid of all products packaged in tubs and on the bottom of the sample cups.

The following recalled products were distributed in western Canada and all US States except in Hawaii and Mississippi.

If you have the cat food, you’re being asked to not return them to the store, but rather , throw them away. To get a refund, fill out the claim form at www.RadFood.com and return the form to the store where you purchased it for a refund.

2 stricken with Listeria in France, unpasteurized cheese recalled

The Puillet cheese factory, located in Roanne, France withdrew its products from sale after detection of Listeria monocytogenes. Two people from the retirement home of Belmont-de-la-Loire have been infected.

camembert_franceListeria has been detected in Camembert cheese made from cow’s milk from a local dairy.

The presence of bacteria was detected after 2 people from the retirement home of Belmont-de-la-Loire, returned after a meal on June 23, 2016. The investigation by the DDPP Loire (Department for Protection of Populations) revealed that the infection had come from cheese consumed during the meal.

The manager of the dairy remains dubious: “We do not know where it comes from or how it could be contaminated. It’s been over 20 years since we started (the business) and it never happened before. It is really hurting our business.”

Are those leafy greens kept cold? Meh

Leafy green vegetables are highly susceptible to microbial contamination because they are minimally processed. Pathogenic bacteria of concern include Escherichia coliO157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes. Leafy greens are a highly perishable commodity, and in some cases have a postharvest shelf-life limited to one week.

lettuceThis study provides an approach to optimize storage temperature of leafy greens in the supply chain, considering the cost of refrigeration, sensory quality parameters (i.e., fresh appearance, wilting, browning, and off-odor), and microbial safety using nonlinear programming (NLP).

The loss of sensory quality parameters was expressed as Arrhenius equations and pathogen growth were represented by three-phase linear (primary) and square-root (secondary) models. The objective function was refrigeration cost, which was to be minimized. The constraints were growth of pathogens and the loss of sensory characteristics. An interactive graphical user interface was developed in MATLAB.

Pathogen growth is of more concern than loss of sensory quality in fresh-cut Iceberg lettuce when considering a shelf-life of up to two days, and the model indicates is difficult to maintain sensory qualities for longer shelf-life values. Browning is of maximum concern for fresh-cut Iceberg and Romaine lettuce, whereas off-odor is the biggest concern for fresh-cut chicory.

Cost, quality, and safety: A nonlinear programming approach to optimize the temperature during supply chain of leafy greens

LWT – Food Science and Technology, Volume 73, November 2016, Pages 412–418

Abhinav Mishra, Robert L. Buchanan, Donald W. Schaffner, Abani K. Pradhan

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002364381630370X

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.

Report for UK FSA says pre-packaged sandwiches should not be served in hospitals

Stephan Adams of the Daily Mail writes that a new report commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency concludes pre-packed sandwiches have been responsible for ‘almost all’ hospital outbreaks of listeria since 2003.

listeria4The bug kills around 50 people a year in England, according to official figures, with most deaths thought to be due to food being prepared and stored incorrectly.

Food safety company STS, which advises hospitals and care homes, believes patients may also be dying from eating infected sandwiches at these institutions.

Fiona Sinclair, director of food safety at STS, said: ‘Hospitals and care homes feed the most vulnerable people in society. The last thing these people need is to get something else on top of their illness.’

Pre-packed sandwiches often contain protein-rich fillings such as meat, paté, cheese, prawns and egg, on which listeria can thrive. Days can elapse between preparation and consumption, giving listeria time to multiply, and experts say too few people understand that sandwiches must be kept very cold – below 5C – to stop the bug growing.

The report, written by Ms Sinclair and colleagues, says: ‘Research into previous [listeria] outbreaks in hospitals found that almost all were linked to consumption of pre-packed sandwiches.’

These cases ‘were thought to have been caused by low-level contamination during manufacture in the factory, followed by a breakdown in the control of the cold chain in the hospitals’. During recent inspections, Ms Sinclair found sandwiches were being kept in fridges that were not cold enough, staff were serving packs past their use-by date, and sandwiches were being left on trolleys for lengthy periods before being handed to patients.

The firm’s report, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, has prompted the FSA to revise its guidance to hospitals and care homes on minimising the risk of listeria.

Measures include cutting maximum fridge temperatures from 8C to 5C.

Welcoming the new rules, STS said: ‘The thought that a loved one should lose their life from eating a sandwich in hospital is ridiculous.’

Ms Sinclair said the research, undertaken with Surrey University, identified nine hospital listeria outbreaks across the UK since 2003. Each case affected between two and seven patients. Ms Sinclair said it was unclear from the data they had seen if anyone died from listeria infection during these outbreaks.

The fact that the bug kills up to 30 per cent of people in ‘vulnerable groups’ – such as pregnant women and the elderly – suggests that some did.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said: ‘If somebody is at death’s door, they could be finished off by a sandwich.