244 now sick with Salmonella from sprouts in SA

An extra five South Australians have tested positive to Salmonella Saintpaul after eating contaminated bean sprouts, bringing the total number of victims to 244.

SA Health announced the new figure on Wednesday after testing confirmed the link to the popular Asian garnish.

sprouts.raw.milk.barfWhile the source of the salmonella remains a mystery, the contamination has been linked to the consumption of raw bean sprouts sourced from Queensland and grown and packaged in South Australia.

A spokeswoman from the health department told The Advertiser investigations were ongoing.

One of the victims included a pregnant woman who was rushed to hospital after suffering abdominal pain about two weeks ago.

Usually, the state records just 15 to 20 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul annually.

SA Health chief public health officer Professor Paddy Phillips advised consumers — as well as restaurant and cafe owners — to cook all bean sprouts and avoid eating them raw.

“We are working closely with the producers, suppliers and handlers of the sprouts and (we) are continuing to investigate,” Prof Phillips said.

sprouts.barf“(We’re) doing forensic investigation of the factories to work out where in the processing the salmonella might be.”

It is the second salmonella scare to hit SA this year after dozens of people across Australia were struck down with Salmonella Anatum from eating prepacked leafy greens.

The lettuce, supplied by Tripod Farmers in Victoria and sold at Coles and Woolworths among other companies, was recalled from shelves across the nation in February.

An updated table of raw sprout related outbreaks is available at: http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-4-27-16.xlsx

Australia sucks at food safety: 233 sick with Salmonella from sprouts in SA, warning only issued now

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from another satisfied subscriber – we’re over 70,000 now – saying why was I talking about the risk of sprouts; all those outbreaks were years ago.

sprouts.batzNow, the Department of Health in South Australia is warning SA residents not to eat raw bean sprouts following a big jump in the number of reported salmonella cases.

Over the past 11 days there have been 108 salmonella cases reported in South Australia, which normally sees around 15 to 20 cases each year.

Since the start of December, SA Health has been notified of 233 cases of salmonella. Of these 233 cases, 43 people have been hospitalised.

“Our investigations have indicated to us that it is likely that the consumption of raw beansprouts is contributing to this increase,” said SA Health’s chief public health officer, Professor Paddy Phillips.

Duh.

“As a result we are today advising South Australians to cook all bean sprouts and avoid eating raw bean sprouts.”

Duh.

U.S. has been advising that for a deade.

“We also want to alert food retailers such as restaurants and cafes not to serve raw bean sprouts until further notice. We are working closely with the producers, suppliers and handlers of the sprouts and are continuing to investigate.

jimmy.johns_.sproutsBut 20-year-old examples mean nothing when, it hasn’t happened here.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-2-24-16.xlsx

And never underestimate the power of denial.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Abstract

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

 

Tragic: Japanese woman dies of sequela of E. coli poisoning 20 yrs after infection

In June 1996, initial reports of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Japan surfaced in national media.

radish_sproutsBy July 1996, focus had centered on specific school cafeterias and two vendors of box lunches, as the number of illnesses approached 4,000. Lunches of sea eel sushi and soup distributed on July 5 from Sakai’s central school lunch depot were identified by health authorities as a possible source of one outbreak. The next day, the number of illnesses had increased to 7,400 even as reports of Japanese fastidiousness intensified. By July 23, 1996, 8,500 were listed as ill.

Even though radish sprouts were ultimately implicated — and then publicly cleared in a fall-on-sword ceremony, but not by the U.S. — the Health and Welfare Ministry announced that Japan’s 333 slaughterhouses must adopt a quality control program modeled on U.S. safety procedures, requiring companies to keep records so the source of any tainted food could be quickly identified.

Kunio Morita, chief of the ministry’s veterinary sanitation division was quoted as saying “It’s high time for Japan to follow the international trend in sanitation management standards.”

Japanese health authorities were tragically slow to respond to the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, a standard facilitated by a journalistic culture of aversion rather than adversarial. In all, over 9,500 Japanese, largely schoolchildren, were stricken with E. coli O157:H7 and 12 were killed over the summer of 1996, raising questions of political accountability.

The national Mainichi newspaper demanded in an editorial on July 31, 1996, “Why can’t the government learn from past experience? Why were they slow to react to the outbreak? Why can’t they take broader measures?” The answer, it said, was a “chronic ailment” — the absence of anyone in the government to take charge in a crisis and ensure a coordinated response. An editorial cartoon in the daily Asahi Evening News showed a health worker wearing the label “government emergency response” riding to the rescue on a snail. Some of the victims filed lawsuits against Japanese authorities, a move previously unheard of in the Japanese culture of deference.

Today, the sad news arrived that a 25-year-old woman in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, died in last October of an aftereffect of her infection with E. coli O157 in 1996.

radish.sprouts.2The woman had been suffering renal vascular hypertension, a sequela of hemolytic-uremic syndrome she developed upon her infection with O-157 when she was a first-grade student, the city government said, adding the direct cause of her death was brain bleeding due to the hypertension.

Sakai Mayor Osami Takeyama said in a comment that the city will redouble efforts for safety control and crisis management.
 The municipal government now plans to provide compensation for the family of the woman.

The current version of events in July 1996, according to the Japanese, was 9,523 sick, including 7,892 elementary school children, in Sakai who ate school lunch or other food were infected with the E. coli bacteria. In the massive outbreak, three girls died.

 

Cute name, lousy food safety: E. coli & Jack & The Green Sprouts

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak involving Jack & The Green Sprouts of River Falls, Wisconsin, appears to be over, with 11 sick.

jack.sproutsSprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. We recommend that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from eating sprouts.

This outbreak was not related to the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen infections linked to alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms of Inman, Kansas.

Sprout grower recalls product 19 days after judge forces closure

On March 3, 2016, a federal court ordered Henry’s Farm Inc. of Woodford, Virginia, to close because of repeated contamination of its raw sprouts.

henrys_recalled_sproutsOn March 22, 2016, the same company recalled all packages of soybean sprouts because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The following products are being recalled by the firm:

1-lb bags of soybean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “Natto Soybean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC Code of 1303020000 produced on or after March 1, 2016.

10-lb bags of soybean sprouts in black plastic bags labeled “Soy Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” produced on or after March 1, 2016.
These items were distributed to retail stores in Virginia and Maryland.

The contamination was discovered through surveillance and monitoring coordinated by the Virginia Rapid Response Team (RRT), Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Food Safety Program and subsequent analysis by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) that revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the products. No illness has been reported to date.

E. coli O104 in sprouts, 2011: Natural, accidental or deliberate

In 2011, Germany was hit by one of its largest outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis and haemolytic uraemic syndrome caused by a new emerging enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain.kevin.allen.sprout

The German Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome/Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (GHUSEC) outbreak had unusual microbiological, infectiological and epidemiological features and its origin is still only partially solved. The aim of this article is to contribute to the clarification of the origin of the epidemic.

Methods: To retrospectively assess whether the GHUSEC outbreak was natural, accidental or a deliberate one, we analysed it according to three published scoring and differentiation models. Data for application of these models were obtained by literature review in the database Medline for the period 2011–13.

Results: The analysis of the unusual GHUSEC outbreak shows that the present official assumption of its natural origin is questionable and pointed out to a probability that the pathogen could have also been introduced accidentally or intentionally in the food chain.

Conclusion: The possibility of an accidental or deliberate epidemic should not be discarded. Further epidemiological, microbiological and forensic analyses are needed to clarify the GHUSEC outbreak.

Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak in Germany—clarification of the origin of the epidemic

European Journal of Public Health, vol 25, issue 1, p. 125-129

Vladan Radosavljevic, Ernst-Jürgen Finke, Goran Belojevic

http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/1/125.abstract

The crap Americans eat: Jimmy Johns and Chipotle, together at last

It was a food safety juxtaposition in Scottsdale, Arizona I couldn’t help but photograph.

jimmy.johns.chipotle.mar.16Jimmy Johns and its sprout-laden subs, Chipotle and its mystery E. coli and Salmonella and Norovirus.

Jimmy Johns was empty; Chipotle, not so much.

If Chipotle Mexican Grill can convince Americans that a 1,000 calorie diarrhea burrito is healthy, and that their co-CEOs deserve $13 million each, they can pretty much do what they want.

chipotle.scottsdale.mar.16

FDA and Virginia to Henry’s Farm: you can’t sell sprouts anymore

Sometimes it’s time for a career change.

Folks change jobs for lots of reasons: boredom, a new challenge, opportunity, and others.

Or because of a consent decree of permanent injunction from a federal court.kevin.allen_.sprout-300x158

According to an FDA news release, a Virginia soy bean sprout company Henry’s Farm Inc and owner Soo C. Park are not allowed to receive, process, manufacture, prepare, pack, hold or distribute ready-to-eat soybean and mung-bean sprouts.

Henry’s farm has been the example of a bad food safety culture with FDA warning them that the place was a dump in 2012. And the situation continued in 2014. And then a recall in 2015.

The FDA worked with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) in conjunction with the Virginia Rapid Response Team to conduct multiple inspections and collect an extensive amount of environmental, in-process, and finished sprout product samples from Henry’s Farm, Inc., several of which tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono).

Under the consent decree, the company cannot process or distribute food until they demonstrate that its facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination in the food that it processes, prepares, stores and handles. Henry’s Farm, Inc. must, among other things, retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze samples for the presence of L. mono, retain an independent sanitation expert and develop a program to control L. mono and to eliminate unsanitary conditions at its facility. Once the company is permitted to resume operations, the FDA may still require the company to take action if the agency discovers future violations of food safety practices.

Raw sprouts: ‘Never underestimate the power of denial’

With two new sproutbreaks in the U.S. in the past month, this supposed health food has again come under scrutiny. Wal-Mart and Kroger stopped offering raw sprouts for sale years ago.

American-beautyOur friend Bill Marler did some math on our spreadsheet and figures 75 outbreaks internationally (that we know of) since 1973 sickening at least and over 11,000 people.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-2-24-16.xlsx

We published a paper documenting the decades of failed risk communication in 2012. Abstract below.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Abstract

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people.

A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance.

Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination.

Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low.

To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

Do labels work? Should sprouts come with a warning label?

NPR reports that for something many deem a “health food,” sprouts regularly appear on official outbreak lists. Since 1998 there have been at least 49 foodborne outbreaks, including 24 multi-state outbreaks and 1,737 illnesses tied to sprouts, according to a tally kept by Colorado State University.

amy.sprouts.guelph.05Sandwich chain Jimmy John’s experienced multiple outbreaks linked to sprouts in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012. Sprouts are still on the menu, but place your order online, and a less than appetizing warning pops up: “The consumption of raw sprouts may result in an increased risk of foodborne illness and poses a health risk to everyone. Click ‘Yes’ if you understand the potential risks, or ‘Cancel’ if you’d like to continue without adding sprouts.”

Jimmy John’s may feel comfortable behind their warning label, but offering sprouts is a risk that Kroger and Wal-Mart no longer take — both grocery retailers have deemed sprouts too dangerous to sell. In announcing its decision in 2012, Kroger said it was based on a “thorough, science-based” review.

Sprout seeds need warmth and humidity to grow — which also happen to be ideal conditions for pathogens to flourish. Because of the number of outbreaks associated with sprouts, the FDA developed special requirements for sprout growers within the Food Modernization and Safety Act that is just going into effect. A few years ago, the agency also helped launch the Sprout Safety Alliance, with the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Linda Harris, a microbiologist at University of California, Davis, says sprouts continue to be a problem because they’re challenging. Whether they’re alfalfa, mung bean, red clover or radish sprouts, they’re grown in warm environments and usually eaten raw.

“Efforts to reduce risk include testing seed, testing seed water. Soaking seed in sanitizers is another — none of which are foolproof,” says Harris. “It reduces risk, but the fact is, we still see outbreaks on a regular basis.”

Continued outbreaks are one reason lawyer Bill Marler has been crusading for a warning label similar to the one adopted by Jimmy John’s. At least, until a magic bullet emerges to fix the problem. Harris says that hasn’t happened yet.

“I think there’s been an effort to find some solution, but honestly, as a microbiologist, I think [sprouts are] always going to be a higher-risk product, at least under current technology,” says Harris.