Press reports indicate that the Louisiana’s Department of Health is investigating a Salmonella outbreak in Caldwell Parish that has sickened more than 100 and may have contributed to one death. Local and state authorities trying to determine if the death of a 56-year-old man, Duane Reitzell, was connected to a mass illness.

Samantha Hartmann, press officer for the Louisiana Department of Health, said preliminary tests of samples have returned positive for Salmonella.

As of Thursday, 49 cases of a gastrointestinal illness were confirmed with 31 people hospitalized, the Department of Health reported. The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 to 70.

State officials also reported Thursday samples taken from five people have tested positive for salmonella.

Sheriff Clay Bennett, who also is sick, said more than 100 residents have sought medical treatment. Bennett said workers at the sheriff’s office also fell ill Tuesday afternoon. He said employees ate jambalaya from a local softball fundraiser, but no one was certain about the origin of the illness. Bennett said the illness could have come from anything.

“Everybody is trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Drew Keahey, a Caldwell Parish farmer and president of the Tensas Basin Levee District board. “No bigger than we are, when there are 200 people in the hospital, everybody knows somebody who is sick. Keahey, a director of Homeland Bank, said more than 10 people left the bank Tuesday with sickness.

The Department of Health said in a short statement it had been “notified of a possible food-related gastrointestinal disease outbreak.” A disease surveillance specialist is investigating the incident.

University Christian Church in Hillcrest along with the San Diego County Health Department hosted a breakfast and offered free vaccines Sunday to the homeless and parishioners. Dozens of people took part.

University Christian Church is in the heart of Hillcrest which is considered a major problem area for the epidemic.

“We knew we had to do something. There are so many people affected by this. We also hoped it would build community between our folks and the homeless folks,” said pastor Caleb Lines.

Health officials say immunizing at-risk populations is the best way to stop the spread of the disease, which attacks the liver. The outbreak has killed 18 people and sickened nearly 500 since last November, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The San Diego outbreak was detected in March, and traced back to an origin in November, according to county health officials. A similar strain of the disease has been found in Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Cruz counties.

Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC, a Ferrisburg, Vt., establishment, is recalling approximately 133 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef was produced on July 24 and 25, 2017.  The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF Only)]

  • 1-lb. vacuum sealed packages containing “Bread & Butter Farm Ground Beef” with lot codes #072517BNB and #072417BNB.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 9558” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were sold at Bread & Butter farm in Shelburne, Vt.

On September 30, 2017, FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FSIS determined the cooked beef burgers that were served at an event at Bread & Butter Farm was the probable source of the reported illnesses. Based on the epidemiological investigation, two case-patients were identified in Vermont with illness onset dates ranging from September 18, 2017, to September 23, 2017. Traceback information indicated that both case-patients consumed ground beef products at Bread & Butter Farm which was supplied by Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing. Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC is recalling the products out of an abundance of caution. FSIS continues to work with public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age, but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

The Hawaiian Star Advertiser reports that at least 45 people became ill after dining at a popular Waikiki restaurant at the International Market Place, state Department of Health officials said today. Some of the cases have been confirmed as the norovirus.

Herringbone Waikiki voluntarily closed Thursday due to the reported illnesses and is working with inspectors from the Health Department.

Health Department officials said they are aware of 45 people who became ill from a suspected norovirus after dining at the restaurant, but all have recovered after one to two days.

The department received a call Monday from a person who reported becoming ill after dining at the restaurant with a group of people last weekend. The individual reported all five from the group became ill. An investigation was initiated when the department received additional calls from patrons who reported becoming ill after dining at the restaurant, officials said.

According to a department report posted online, on Saturday, Oct. 7, at around 11:30 a.m, “three customers ordered and shared the toss salad. All three showed symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.”

Food safety inspectors visited the restaurant Tuesday to investigate and collect samples, Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. Health inspectors also went to the restaurant Thursday and returned today.

A report filed by inspectors said the establishment “must sanitize floors, furniture, walls” and any other surfaces where the norovirus might be present.

The report also said, “Any products that are open or possibly contaminated by the virus must be thrown away: such as single-use and single-service items, straws, paper towels, oysters, open packages of fish, flour, etc.”

“Exposure appears to have been limited to those dining at the restaurant over the past weekend,” Okubo said in an e-mailed statement. “The investigation is still underway with lab test results pending.

Mora said, “All Herringbone staff undergo intensive training regarding hygiene and compliance with DOH standards is constantly monitored.”

Norovirus is a leading cause of illnesses from contaminated food, and infected employees are a frequent source of the outbreaks. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Overall, one out of six Americans get sick each year by consuming contaminated food or drinks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FDA Reminds Public that All I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter Products Are Recalled

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has become aware that recalled I.M Healthy Soy Nut Butter products are being offered for sale through online vendors and in storefront locations. All flavors of I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter spreads and granolas were recalled in March 2017 after the product was found to be the source of a multistate Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E. colioutbreak that sickened 32 people in 12 states.

Retailers cannot legally offer for sale and consumers should not purchase any flavors of I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter products, including spreads and granolas.

The FDA learned that some distributors are still selling the products in their possession and these products are being sold through online retailers and in storefront locations. As it learns of these products being offered for sale, the FDA notifies the retailer that these products cannot legally be sold. The agency is working swiftly to locate any remaining products to ensure they are no longer available to consumers.

The SoyNut Butter Company, distributor of I.M. Healthy products, has ceased to operate. On March 30, 2017, the FDA suspended the food facility registration of Dixie Dew, Inc., the manufacturer of the products, meaning that no food may leave the facility for sale or distribution.

The FDA will continue to monitor this situation closely and follow up with retailers as we become aware of recalled products being offered for sale. Additionally, the public is urged to report any product being offered for sale to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their region. More information about the recall can be found at FDA.gov.

For more information:

After sickening over 30 with E. coli O157:H7 – several kids with acute kidney failure – you would think that all this tainted product would be off the market – but no.  So, FDA, companies, what are you doing?

I just received this from a hero:

“Well because you asked – I just checked Shop.com and now I am truly pissed off.

I ordered a 6-pack of chocolate from Shop.com several weeks ago (and received it) and notified authorities.  The only flavor available then was chocolate.  Now chunky, original, honey, unsweetened – all 6 varieties including original. And 3 varieties of granola. Damm. (attached one of many screenshots I took).

I have just notified OCI again (minutes ago and they have responded) as well as FDA.

I told OCI I wouldn’t order anything more.”

https://www.shop.com/search/soynut+butter

And there is more:

“Not the only place you can get it; I didn’t try to order it, but you can also get IM Healthy Soy Nut Butter (in theory anyway) from an internet marketing place out of Milpitas, California:”

https://www.mercadomagico.com/grocery/cooking-and-baking/im-healthy-unsweetened-creamy-soynut-butter-15-oz/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvOmKmrrs1gIVFJF-Ch3dLQdsEAkYAiABEgJARfD_BwE

Michigan press reports that since an outbreak began last August, 376 people in Michigan have contracted the sometimes fatal illness. It’s mainly spread person-to-person via contact with feces.

Angela Minicuci is with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We haven’t found one contaminated food source or exposure at this point,” she says, “but we are seeing a lot of relation to people who are using opioids or drugs.”

People who are, or have been incarcerated, are also considered at higher risk of getting hepatitis A, as are homeless people. A staggering 86% of those who’ve gotten hepatitis A in the state since last year have been hospitalized.  Fourteen people have died.

Most of the cases have been in southeast Michigan, including a recent case involving a worker at Cardamom, a popular restaurant in Ann Arbor.

It’s possible people who ate at Cardamom between September 16 and October 3 were exposed.

Minicuci says people with concerns should contact their doctor.

“And from there your health provider can decide if you need that exposure prophylaxis, which is the treatment, or if your best bet is to get vaccinated.”

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine.  It is now regularly administered to children.

According to the World Health Organization, in developing countries with poor sanitary conditions and hygienic practices, most children (90%) have been infected with the hepatitis A virus before the age of 10 years .

Those infected in childhood do not experience any noticeable symptoms. Epidemics are uncommon because older children and adults are generally immune. Symptomatic disease rates in these areas are low and outbreaks are rare.

In developed countries, children often escape infection in early childhood and reach adulthood without immunity. Ironically, these improved economic and sanitary conditions may lead to an accumulation of adults who have never been infected and who have no immunity. This higher susceptibility in older age groups may lead to higher disease rates and large outbreaks can occur in these communities.

Food Safety News reported that ready-to-eat, smoked fish and fishery products produced by Michel Cordon Bleu Inc. in Los Angeles from such raw fish as Florida salmon and Idaho trout and sold to restaurants, retailers, hotels and cruise ships are not safe for human consumption, according to a federal court action.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found the company’s fish and fishery products are adulterated as defined y federal law. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this week filed a civil action against both Michel Cordon Bleu Inc. and owner Michel G. Blanchet.

DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch asked the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for a permanent injunction to shut down Bleu’s operations at 3625 South Western Avenue in Los Angeles.

In an 11-page complaint, DOJ attorneys say the seafood processor has a history of violating federal food safety regulations that began in 1998 and continued through July 5 to Aug. 2, 2016, its most recent FDA inspection.

Among the Form FDA-483 inspection observations noted a year ago were:

  • Failure to manufacture, package and store food under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for microorganism growth and contamination, including Listeria monocytogenes;
  • Failure to monitor the sanitation conditions and practices, resulting in findings of Listeria monocytogenes in the company’s processing areas;
  • Failure to develop the verification procedures and frequencies listed in the HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan by federal regulation to ensure that the HACCP plan is adequate to control food safety hazards, and is implemented efficiently; and
  • Failure to implement the monitoring and verification procedures listed in the HACCP plan.

FDA found “deficient cleaning and sanitation practices” at the Bleu facility has led to the contamination of food preparation surfaces with pathogenic bacteria. Strict in-plant measures are necessary to control the spread of Listeria monocytogenes in the seafood processing plant and to protect human health.

FDA ‘s environmental sampling showed Listeria monocytogenes contamination exists in multiple locations throughout the Bleu facility.

The complaint charges Bleu with a “history of non-compliance.” FDA has tried to bring the company into compliance with inspections, regulatory meetings, and warning letters without successs.

At a 2005 regulatory meeting, the company said it was committed to building a “culture of compliance,” promising to adhere to a HACCP plan. It’s not, however, lived up to that promise.

Bleu prepares, processes, packs, holds and distributes refrigerated vacuum-packed, ready-to-eat cured, cold and hot smoked fish and fishery products including smoked salmon, trout, and sturgeon. Distributors sell most of the product.

DOJ says Bleu’s seafood products present a hazard to human health because of the potential for contamination from Clostridium Botulinum (C. bot) and Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono).

The complaint says Bleu and Blanchet, who is both the owner and company president, did not respond to FDA’s many concerns about the facility’s problems.

DOJ wants U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to issue a permanent injunction ordering Blue to “cease receiving, preparing, processing, packing, labeling, holding, and distributing food at or from the facility or any other location nor or in the future.” The government also wants the judge to authorize FDA to inspect the plant and all the company’s records.

DOJ filed the civil action on Oct. 3, and the defendants have not yet responded Discovery motions in the Central District are heard by magistrate judges. Assigned to this case is federal Magistrate Judge Alka Sagar.

While government action to permanently enjoin a company from operating is rare, seafood processors are frequently targets of FDA warning letters for failure to take corrective actions after inspections.

Lab results confirmed the Salmonella strain recently found in Pride & Joy Dairy organic raw milk matches the strain that hospitalized two Washington residents in January. Health officials are urging consumers not to drink Pride & Joy Dairy organic raw milk in any container size or sell-by date.

“Unpasteurized ‘raw’ milk can carry harmful bacteria and germs. Foodborne illnesses are possible from many different foods; however, raw milk is one of the riskiest,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington state communicable disease epidemiologist.

The unique strain identified in the illnesses and the recent dairy sample, SalmonellaDublin, has previously been found among cattle and cattle products, including beef and raw dairy. Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, the infection can be fatal.

Infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk. More information on the health risks of drinking raw milk can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that allow the sale of raw milk have more raw milk-related illness outbreaks than states that prohibit raw milk sales. The production of raw milk in Washington is regulated by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

  • The Ohio Department of Health, several other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain.
  • 16 more ill people with a Campylobacter infection linked to the outbreak have been reported since September 11, 2017. The most recent illness began on September 12, 2017.
  • As of October 3, a total of 55 people with laboratory-confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection who live in 12 states (Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) have been linked to this outbreak.
    • 14 people are Petland employees from 5 states.
    • 35 people either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before illness began.
    • 1 person had sexual contact with a person with a confirmed illness linked to Petland.
    • 4 people were exposed to puppies from various sources.
    • 1 person had unknown puppy exposure.
  • Ill people range in age from <1 year to 86 years, with a median age of 23 years; 38 (69%) are female; and 13 (24%) report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that puppies sold through Petland stores are a likely source of this outbreak. Petland is cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address this outbreak.
  • Whole genome sequencing showed samples of Campylobacter isolated from the stool of puppies sold through Petland were closely related to Campylobacter samples isolated from the stool of ill people in multiple states.
  • Clinical samples from people and puppies sickened in this outbreak appear to be resistant to commonly recommended, first-line antibiotics. This means infections with the outbreak strain may not respond well to oral antibiotics usually prescribed to treat Campylobacter infections.