April 2009

It is sunny and nearly 70 here in Seattle – Shhh, don’t tell anyone.  I was heading to the ferry to go home and decided to finish up some emails.  Here is one I just got from someone that I kindly declined to help:

I have in my posession a plastic bag of salt that i purchased here in walnut creek that made me extremly ill. The salt is emitting some kind of gas that causes the bag elastic to balloon up until i release the gas. I have been poisoned on numerous occasions from restaurant food here and was almost killed by a pizza delivered to my person by dominoes. Ive made numerous complaints to the e.p.a. concerning these issues how ever Im seeking damages. Ive found out that my very own parents poisoned me when I was very youn and that numerous time have been poisoned by mother and sister. Its some kind of magic potion. Any way is ther any thing that you could do to helpo me over the poisoned bag of salt. Ive been the victim of a really scary scam here that has cost me a lot of money and much of my life. Im at the bottom of the barrell here and could use some help to recover damages. I was set up the day I was born to be a slave laborer and then to be robbed of all my work and money. the use of poison and magic potions kept me in a state of semi conciousness for numerous years. Now, due to health detoxification, my mind and health has recovered to where I can see and understand what has been happening. Im a great guy, who works hard, and hasent wronged any one. Why is all of thgis accuring to me that I should suffer such losses? can you be of assistance. I havent been able to find any help here in this area. Ive physiucally have been able to recover from poisoning, how ever the fourty years that it has taken needs to be compensated for. can you advise me.

Now I am stuck for an hour looking out from the 66th floor.  I think I should go outside.

I was reading the CDC’s MMWR article – “Outbreak of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli O157 Infection Associated with a Day Camp Petting Zoo — Pinellas County, Florida, May–June 2007” and it struck me how humans seem nearly incapable of learning for the past. We have been tracking this ongoing problem for years now and built www.fair-safety.com as a resource for the Fair and Petting Zoo Industry. But, they seem to be slow learners.

According to the CDC, during 1991–2005, the CDC received reports of 32 outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 that were associated with animals in public settings. Among these, venues in certain outbreaks were not in compliance with NASPHV guidelines, with reported inadequate handwashing facilities, permitted consumption of food or drink in animal areas, unsupervised handwashing, and no signage. During 2006–2008, five E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks related to animal settings were reported (CDC, unpublished data, 2009). NASPHV guidelines include recommendations on handwashing, venue design, animal care and management, risk communication, and oversight needed for animals in public settings.

The article was reported by: KA Alelis, MPH, PE Borkowski, Pinellas County Health Dept; P Fiorella, PhD, J Nasir, J Middaugh, MD, C Blackmore, DVM, Florida Dept of Health. J Keen, DVM, US Dept of Agriculture and Univ of Nebraska. This report is based, in part, on contributions by C Minor, Florida Dept of Health; T Holt, DVM, W Jeter, DVM, J Crews, DVM, and J Carter, Florida Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Svcs.

References

1. CDC. Compendium of measures to prevent disease associated with animals in public settings, 2007: National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV). MMWR 2007;56(No. RR-5).
2. Mead PS, Slutsker L, Dietz V, et al. Food-related illness and death in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis 1999;5:607–25.
3. Su C, Brandt LJ. Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection in humans. Ann Intern Med 1995;123:698–714.
4. Keen JE, Elder RO. Isolation of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli O157 from the surfaces and the oral cavity of finished beef feedlot cattle. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:756–63.
5. CDC. Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with petting zoos—North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona, 2004 and 2005. MMWR 2005;54:1277–80.
6. Steinmuller N, Demma L, Bender JB, Eidson M, Angulo FJ. Outbreaks of enteric disease associated with animal contact: not just a foodborne problem anymore. Clin Infect Dis 2006;43:1596–602.
7. CDC. Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among children associated with farm visits—Pennsylvania and Washington, 2000. MMWR 2001;50:293–7.
8. Crump JA, Sulka AC, Langer AJ, et al. An outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among visitors to a dairy farm. N Engl J Med 2002;347:555–60.

We still have pending litigation against the State of North Carolina steming from a petting zoo E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2004 were several children suffered acute kidney failure caused by Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.

Wisconsin officials are recommending residents throw away bags of spinach distributed by a Milwaukee food processor after some tested positive for salmonella.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says consumers should discard 10-ounce bags of Kleen-Pak curly-leaf fresh spinach with use-by dates of April 29, April 30 and May 1.

It says routine food safety tests of the spinach were positive for salmonella.  The bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infections can be deadly to young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Kleen-Pak spinach is distributed in grocery stories in Wisconsin and Illinois.

NEHA is having its Annual Education Conference in Atlanta June 21 through 24.  Click below for brochure:

I will be speaking at some point, so making your way to Atlanta is worth it.  A bit about NEHA:

NEHA’s Origin

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) had its origins in the state of California where it was incorporated in 1937. The original impetus behind the creation of a national professional society for environmental health practitioners was the desire by professionals of that day to establish a standard of excellence for this developing profession. This standard, which has come to be known as the Registered Environmental Health Specialist or Registered Sanitarian credential, signifies that an environmental health professional has mastered a body of knowledge (which is verified through the passing of an examination), and has acquired sufficient experience, to satisfactorily perform work responsibilities in the environmental health field. The pioneers of the association believed that such a credential was necessary if the environmental health field was to grow and take shape as a legitimate and widely respected profession.

NEHA’s Mission

Drawing on the original effort that led to the creation of NEHA, the association today stands as a strong professional society with over 4,500 members across the nation. Clearly NEHA’s mission, “to advance the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all” is as relevant today as it was when the organization was founded.

Advancement has been defined by NEHA in terms of both education and motivation. The basis for the association’s activities is the belief that the professional who is educated and motivated is the professional who will make the greatest contribution to the healthful environmental goals which we all seek. Accordingly, great emphasis is placed on providing, through each of NEHA’s programs, both an educational as well as a motivational opportunity. At NEHA’s conferences, for example, tremendous attention is paid to developing a quality educational program that not only imparts knowledge to the attendee but, also, through the very quality of the presentations, inspires the attendee to do more upon returning to his or her job.

New Hampshire state health officials say a mixer used to make pudding was the source of salmonella that sickened children at a camp in Madison this month.  The Stone Environmental Camp voluntarily closed last week, and is looking forward to reopening, now that the source has been identified.

Health investigators determined that pudding served to the campers was contaminated.  Although the mixer is supposed to be sanitized after each use, a possible defect may have allowed bacteria to get to an area where it couldn’t be cleaned out.

The state confirmed 15 salmonella cases among more than 120 children and adults who reported getting sick. The state said some could have had mild forms of infection also related to the mixer.

For those who have forgotten, after Stewart Parnell, former President of the Peanut Corporation of America, was booted as a Board member of the Peanut Standards Board, a vacancy arose.  My suggestion for a replacement – ME!  More information below:

Organization: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Summary: The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a Peanut Standards Board for the purpose of advising the Secretary on quality and handling standards for domestically produced and imported peanuts. The Board consists of 18 members representing producers and industry representatives.

USDA seeks nominations for individuals to be considered for selection as Board members for terms of office ending June 30, 2011, and June 30, 2012. Selected nominees sought by this action would fill two currently vacant industry representative positions for the remainder of terms of office ending June 30, 2011, and six producer and industry representatives who are currently serving for the term of office that ends June 30, 2009. The Board consists of 18 members representing producers and industry representatives.

Nominees should complete a Peanut Standards Board Background Information form, which can be obtained at – LINK

Source: Federal Register: April 29, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 81)

Applications Due By: Nominations must be received on or before May 29, 2009

Web site: The Federal Register notice is at LINK

More information about the Peanut Standards Board is at LINK

Contact: Nominations should be sent to Dawana J. Clark, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, Telephone: (301) 734- 5243; Fax: (301) 734-5275; E-mail: Dawana.Clark@usda.gov

We will be filing yet another lawsuit stemming from a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella-tainted sprouts was filed today in the Tenth District Court for Sarpy County, Nebraska. Bellevue resident Daniel Krim, one of 121 people sickened in the February-March 2009 outbreak.

The lawsuit was filed against CW sprouts, the Nebraska firm whose Sunsprout brand of raw sprouts was distributed to retail customers, including grocery stores and restaurants. Also named in the lawsuit is John Doe Corporation, the yet-to-be identified company that cultivated and distributed the seeds used to grow the tainted sprouts.

Daniel Krim purchased a sandwich containing the defendant’s sprouts at a LaVista Jimmy John’s restaurant in February, and fell ill the next day with flu-like symptoms including fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. His symptoms continued to worsen, causing him to seek emergency medical care. He was treated for dehydration and gave a stool sample that later revealed that he was infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella saintpaul. Mr. Krim missed more than a week of work due to his illness, and lost over ten pounds.

The CDC has opened an investigation into a new Salmonella saintpaul outbreak tied to sprouts, which to date has sickened 35 people in six states: Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. According to preliminary testing, the new outbreak appears to be an extension of the February-March outbreak in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Kansas that sickened Daniel Krim.

Many of our past and present clients are in Washington DC today lobbying on behalf of all of us to get congress to pass meaningful food safety legislation.

Lindsey and Michael Jennings (MI) – Lindsey became ill in 2008 in the Aunt Mids E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak linked to lettuce grown in California.

Peter and Jacob Hurley (CA) – Jacob was one of nearly 700 sickened from Salmonella-tainted peanut butter in 2009.

Cheryl and Brian Grubbs (CO) – Brian became ill from eating Salmonella-tainted peppers along with 1,200 others in 2008.

Terri Marshall (LA) – on behalf of her Mother in Law Mora Marshall who still remains in a nursing home after eating peanut butter tainted with Salmonella in 2007.

Karen Hibben-Levi (IA) was sickened in 2006 by E. coli O157:H7 tainted lettuce grown in California.

Juliana and Jacob Goswick (AZ) – Jacob developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome after eating baby spinach in 2006 linked to E. coli O157:H7.

Elizabeth Armstrong (IN) – her daughters, Ashley and Isabella both suffered E. coli O157:H7 infections due to consumption of baby spinach in 2006. Ashley developed severe Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.

As I wrote to each of them yesterday:  "I want to honor each of you for taking the time to go to DC to try and move safe food onto the national agenda. What you are doing is a selfless act of citizenship and I am proud to represent (or have represented) you and your family. I hope you know how much this means to me personally and for the thousands of families who each year needlessly suffer what you have gone through. Standing up for your fellow citizens is what makes our country progress.

Thank you for the bottom of my heart."

We should all thank them.  Also, see here for some short videos on other clients.  It is important to put a human face on our food safety problems.

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of human infections due to Salmonella serotype Saintpaul.

Since mid-March, 35 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul have been reported from 7 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Michigan (17), Minnesota (4), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (6), South Dakota (2), Utah (1), and West Virginia (2). Cases are still being reported, and possible cases are in various stages of laboratory testing, so illnesses may be reported from other states. No deaths have been reported

State and local authorities, CDC, and FDA have linked this outbreak to eating alfalfa sprouts. Most of those who became ill reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts. Some reported eating sprouts at restaurants; others purchased sprouts at the retail level.

The initial investigation has traced the contaminated raw alfalfa sprouts to multiple sprout growers in multiple states. This suggests a problem with the seeds used, as well as the possible failure of the sprout growers involved to appropriately and consistently follow the FDA Sprout Guidance issued in 1999 http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/sprougd1.html. The guidance recommends an effective seed disinfection treatment immediately before the start of sprouting (such as treating seeds in a 20,000 parts per million calcium hypochlorite solution with agitation for 15 minutes) and regularly testing the water used for every batch of sprouts for Salmonella and E coli O157:H7.

This outbreak appears to be an extension of an earlier outbreak in 2009. In February and March, an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections occurred in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. This outbreak was linked to raw alfalfa sprouts produced at a single facility, and the outbreak strain was indistinguishable from that of the more recently reported cases. CDC is also currently working with public health officials in several states and FDA to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked with eating alfalfa sprouts.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When severe infection occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Advice for consumers

* Do not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts, until further notice. This warning is only for alfalfa sprouts, not other types of sprouts .
* Persons who think they may have become ill from eating raw alfalfa sprouts are advised to consult their health care providers.

REMINDER for high risk populations: CDC and FDA recommend at all times that persons at high risk for complications from Salmonella infection, such as the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems, not eat raw sprouts. For such persons who continue to eat sprouts, FDA recommends cooking them (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2002 consumer advisory, available at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/tpsprout.html).