Still on every sandwich: Sprout safety in Australia

Seed sprouts have been implicated as vehicles for numerous foodborne outbreaks worldwide.

sprout.apple.aug.14Seed sprouts pose a unique food safety concern because of the ease of microbiological seed contamination, the inherent ability of the sprouting process to support microbial growth, and their consumption either raw or lightly cooked.

To examine seed sprout safety in the Australian state of Victoria, a survey was conducted to detect specific microbes in seed sprout samples and to investigate food handling practices relating to seed sprouts. A total of 298 seed sprout samples were collected from across 33 local council areas. Escherichia coli was detected in 14.8%, Listeria spp. in 12.3%, and Listeria monocytogenes in 1.3% of samples analyzed. Salmonella spp. were not detected in any of the samples.

A range of seed sprout handling practices were identified as potential food safety issues in some food businesses, including temperature control, washing practices, length of storage, and storage in proximity to unpackaged ready-to-eat potentially hazardous foods.

Microbiological Safety and Food Handling Practices of Seed Sprout Products in the Australian State of Victoria

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Symes, Sally, Goldsmith, Paul, Haines, Heather

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000007/art00021

Good Seed Inc. recalls soybean sprouts due to Listeria

Raw sprouts, you always deliver news to food safety nerds.

(not so) Good Seed Inc. of Springfield is voluntarily recalling all packages of soybean sprouts and mung bean sprouts because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Mung-bean-sprouts-in-bowlThe following products are being recalled by the firm.

1-lb bags of soybean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Soy Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC Code of “21111  10035” produced on or after May 8, 2015.

1-lb bags of mung bean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Mung Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC code of “21111 20136” produced on or after May 8, 2015.

2-lb bags of soybean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Soy Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC Code of “21112 58772” produced on or after May 8, 2015.

2-lb bags of mung bean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Mung Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC code of “21111 25871” produced on or after May 8, 2015.

10-lb bags of soybean sprouts in black plastic bags labeled with a sticker “GOODSEED Soy Bean Sprouts” produced on or after May 8, 2015.

10-lb bags of mung bean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled with a sticker “GOODSEED Mung Bean Sprouts” produced on or after May 8, 2015.

These items were distributed to retail stores in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.

The contamination was discovered through surveillance monitoring coordinated by the Virginia Rapid Response Team (RRT), Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Testing by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the product.

Good Seed not so good: Sprouts recalled for Listeria

Good Seed Inc. of Springfield, Virginia has issued a recall of soybean and mung bean sprouts for possible listeria contamination.

seed_packets_small-300x225The company issued the recall on its one-, two- and ten-pound products produced on or after April 1.

The contamination was discovered after sampling by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food Safety Program.

Consumers who bought the soybean and mung bean sprouts in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey or North Carolina should return them to the store for a full refund.

This is the second recall for soybean sprouts from a company in Virginia.

Not so wholesome: Illinois food company agrees to stop production of contaminated sprouts

On April 22, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Wholesome Soy Products Inc., of Chicago, Illinois, owner Julia Trinh, and manager Paul Trinh, following multiple findings of contaminated food and environmental samples by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Wholesome_Soy_Products_logoThe consent decree prohibits Wholesome Soy Products from receiving, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packing, holding and distributing ready-to-eat mung bean and soybean sprouts. The company sold its products to wholesale distributors and retail stores in Illinois.

“It is FDA’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate action is taken when we conduct inspections and find results that could put consumers at risk,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Agreeing to the consent decree is a first step in the right direction for this company.”

This action follows a multi-agency collaboration among the FDA, U.S. Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Health.

In August 2014, during a routine inspection of the company, the FDA collected environmental and product samples that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono), a foodborne pathogen that can cause serious illness or even death in vulnerable groups including elderly adults and those with impaired immune systems (such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and transplant patients). In pregnant women, L. mono can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

On Aug. 28, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products agreed to voluntarily recall and temporarily stop production of their sprout products. The company reported that they cleaned and sanitized their facility. They also hired an independent consultant to collect and test several samples that reportedly came back negative for L. mono. They resumed operations on Sept. 15, 2014, after making these corrections.

Later that month, the company was notified of an outbreak of human infections with a strain of L. monolinked to strains found in the samples previously collected by the FDA during its inspection of the company. According to the CDC, there were four cases in Illinois and one in Michigan. Of those five patients, all were hospitalized and two died.

The FDA began a follow-up inspection of Wholesome Soy Products in October 2014 to verify the effectiveness of the company’s corrective actions. Nine samples taken by FDA inspectors tested positive for L. mono. Due to these findings, the FDA concluded that sprouts could not be safely manufactured by the company in that environment.

In November 2014, the company agreed to voluntarily shut down operations, and the Illinois Department of Public Health oversaw the company’s voluntary destruction of their remaining inventory. The CDC closed its investigation in January 2015 and no further cases of illness in connection to the company have been reported.

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

 

It’s not organic or conventional it’s will it make you barf?

I’ve been drawn into these debates before, and concluded they are mindnumbing.

sprout.santa_.barf_.xmas_1-300x254Yes, organic probably causes a disproportionate number of food safety recalls, but it’s not the production method, it’s the producer.

Either they know about dangerous microorganisms and take steps to reduce them, or they don’t.

 The Western Producer says the “refreshingly candid comments of a University of Saskatchewan professor (Stuart Smyth) interviewed by WP reporter Dan Yates provoked lively discussion.

Except, if accurately quoted, they were as much bullshit as the good professor claims is at the root of organic outbreaks.

Smyth responded to one critic by stating, “In 2011, organic cucumbers containing a lethal level of E. coli were sold in Europe, resulting in over 4,000 cases of illness and 50 deaths. Colleagues of mine at the FAO reported that by the third day of the story, the powerful European organic industry had pressured the media into removing the word organic from all stories. Sadly, removing the word organic contributed to thousands of additional cases of illness and death, as European consumers had no idea it was the organic food that was killing them.

“I stand by my claim: organic food is the most dangerous and unsafe food on the market today. If you want to eat food that will kill you, eat organic.”

Yes, cucumbers were initially fingered as the source of an E. coli O104 outbreak that killed 53 and sickened 4,400 in Europe in 2011, but the source was ultimately determined to be fenugreek sprout seeks imported from Egypt.

If you’re going to cast stones, get it right.

Soybean sprouts recalled because of Listeria risk

Henry’s Farm Inc. of Woodford, VA is recalling all packages of soybean sprouts because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections to individuals with weakened immune systems.

list.sproutsThe contamination was discovered after sampling by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food Safety Program and subsequent analysis by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the products. No illness has been reported to date.

4 of the most commonly recalled foods (and how to buy them safely)

We talked to former professor of food safety, Douglas Powell, about the safest ways to eat the things we love.

Baked Goods

doug.coach.happy.feb.15The Concern: While it’s been more than 10 years since the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act went into effect, unlabeled allergens—most often peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, dairy, fish, shellfish and eggs—are still the number one cause of recalls for FDA-regulated foods. And they often crop up unannounced in bakery products. 



Small Thing to Keep in Mind: If you have an allergy, check the label each time you buy a product, because manufacturers sometimes change recipes and a trigger food may have been added. Here’s a helpful list of unexpected words to watch out for, broken down by the type of diet you’re following.

Cantaloupe

The Concern: These orange-fleshed melons are different from honeydew and watermelon, since their “netted” exterior is more porous, so contaminants from soil, water, animals (and their manure) can get trapped in the rind. Plus, unlike other fruits, they’re not acidic, so pathogens can grow more easily once you cut the melon open. 



Small Thing to Keep in Mind: As many of us already do, avoid buying cantaloupes that look bruised; and, if you purchase precut cantaloupe, make sure it’s refrigerated or on ice. Finally, don’t let the sliced fruit sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

Chicken

The Concern: This popular meat (we buy about 86 pounds per capita annually) is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness. 



Small Thing to Keep in Mind: A good recommendation is to buy chicken last when you’re grocery shopping, since keeping it cold can prevent bacteria overgrowth. Also, be sure to defrost frozen chicken safely and cook it to 165 degrees (use a meat thermometer).

Sprouts

The Concern: Alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts, which add crunch to salads and sandwiches, score well nutritionally. But in recent years, there have been at least 30 food-related illness outbreaks linked to raw and lightly cooked sprouts. 



Small Thing to Keep in Mind: If you enjoy sprouts in salads, buy only ones with fresh, clean, white stems and roots that have been kept properly refrigerated. Dr. Powell says the safest way to prepare sprouts is to cook them thoroughly before eating (so, stir-fries and pad Thai are fine).

Salmonella and E. coli in sprouts in Mexico, oh my

Data on the presence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli pathotypes (DEPs) in alfalfa sprouts and correlations between the presence of coliform bacteria (CB), fecal coliforms (FC), E. coli, DEPs, and Salmonella in alfalfa sprouts are not available. The presence of and correlations between CB, FC, E. coli, DEPs, and Salmonella in alfalfa sprouts were determined.

santa.barf.sprout.raw.milkOne hundred sprout samples were collected from retail markets in Pachuca, Hidalgo State, Mexico. The presence of indicator bacteria and Salmonella was determined using conventional culture procedures. DEPs were identified using two multiplex PCR procedures. One hundred percent of samples were positive for CB, 90% for FC, 84% for E. coli, 10% for DEPs, and 4% for Salmonella. The populations of CB ranged from 6.2 up to 8.6 log CFU/g. The FC and E. coli concentrations were between , 3 and 1,100 most probable number (MPN)/g. The DEPs identified included enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC; 2%), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC; 3%), and Shiga toxin–producing E. coli (STEC; 5%). No E. coli O157:H7 strains were detected in any STEC-positive samples. In samples positive for DEPs, the concentrations ranged from 210 to 240 MPN/g for ETEC, 28 to 1,100 MPN/g for EPEC, and 3.6 to 460 MPN/g for STEC. The Salmonella isolates identified included Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium in three samples and Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis in one. STEC and Salmonella Typhimurium were identified together in one sample. Positive correlations were observed between FC and E. coli, between FC and DEPs, and between E. coli and DEPs. Negative correlations occurred between CB and DEPs and between CB and Salmonella. Neither FC nor E. coli correlated with Salmonella in the sprout samples.

To our knowledge, this is the first report of ETEC, EPEC, and STEC isolated from alfalfa sprouts and the first report of correlations between different indicator groups versus DEPs and Salmonella.

 

Presence and correlation of some enteric indicator bacteria, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli pathotypes, and Salmonella serotypes in alfalfa sprouts from local retail markets in Pachuca, Mexico

01.mar.15

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 3, March 2015, pp. 484-627, pp. 609-614(6)

Rangel-Vargas, Esmeralda; Gómez-Aldapa, Carlos A.; Torres-Vitela, M. del Refugio; Villarruel-López, Angélica; Gordillo-Martínez, Alberto J.; Castro-Rosas, Javier

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000003/art00020

When food is cooking up a storm – proven recipes for risk communications 2015

If that headline isn’t enough to convince that European Union food safety risk communicators are clueless, read the following summary.

sprout.santa_.barf_.xmas_1-300x254Note: there seems to be an expanding business in talking about talking, rather that actually doing; the EU was absolutely absent when E. coli O104 killed 43 and sickened 4,300 in 2011.

The objective of these guidelines is to provide a framework to assist decision-making about appropriate communications approaches in a wide variety of situations that can occur when assessing and communicating on risks related to food safety in Europe. The aim is to provide a common framework applicable for developing communications approaches on risk across public health authorities in different countries.

Communicators from EFSA, Member States and the European Commission work together in EFSA’s Advisory Forum Communications Working Group (AFCWG). A key aim of that group is to promote cooperation and coherence in risk communications, particularly between risk assessors in Member States and EFSA – one of the key priorities laid down in EFSA’s Communications Strategy.

These guidelines are an initiative of that group, recognising two important points: 1) there is a need for more practical guidance with respect to principles laid down in scientific literature and 2) the literature on risk communications guidance specific to food safety is limited. As it is the group’s desire to continue to learn from experience and strengthen risk communications within the European food safety system, this will be a living document which will be periodically revisited and updated with best practice case studies.

As defined by Codex Alimentarius, risk communications is the: “exchange of information and opinions concerning risk and risk-related factors among risk assessors, risk managers, consumers and other interested parties”.

That’s enough. Read the rest of this verbal syphilis on your own time.

Canberra uses cow shares to get their raw milk fix

A Canberra woman admits “it would be fair to say that pasteurised milk would be safer” but she still intends on using raw milk for her family.

sprout.santa.barf.xmasSaffron Zomer developed a taste for raw milk while living overseas.

She is now involved in a cow share scheme which presently enables her to consume the untreated milk.

Ms Zomer is among around 25 Canberra households who are part of the scheme run by Julia McKay a dairy farmer at Bungonia north of the nation’s capital.

Ms McKay delivers around ten litres of milk on a weekly basis to the various shareholders.

Ms Zomer gets the milk “primarily because its delicious” after living in Switzerland where she and her husband had access to raw milk.

“I did some research and I think the nutritional value is higher.” Ms Zomer said.

Ms Zomer has three children, one who is newly born and not feeding on the milk.

“My oldest isn’t much of a milk drinker, but the little one likes it and he is always excited when it is delivery day because the milk is really fresh and he doesn’t like to drink supermarket milk anymore.” she observed.

Family guy barfShe argues that there is a clear difference in the taste of raw milk when compared to supermarket milk.

Her husband uses some of the milk to make cheese.

Ms Zomer compares drinking of raw milk to eating other unprocessed food.

“I also let my kids eat seafood, sprouts and raw spinach and chicken.

I wouldn’t let my kids eat raw sprouts. Or raw milk.