April 2010

Salmonella OutbreakMichael Burke of the Journal Times of Wisconsin reports that for the second time this year, Nestle’s local plant has shut down a production line after a positive salmonella test. Workers reported, and the company confirmed, that a batch of chocolate chips tested positive for salmonella on Wednesday. Nestle spokeswoman Laurie MacDonald said the batch was made April 22, and the results came back several days later. That production line was shut down for "thorough additional cleaning," MacDonald said Friday. She said cleaning will continue through Sunday, and production is expected to resume Monday. MacDonald said none of the contaminated morsels left the plant. "That product remains under our control," she said, and will be destroyed. In mid-February the company acknowledged a similar incident in which it discovered salmonella during routine testing. Then, as now, MacDonald said none of the contaminated product ever left the plant; it was later destroyed.

In 2010 there are still lethal strains of E. coli that some parts of our government do not regulate in the food supply. E. coli O157:H7 has been considered an adulterant in food since 1994 by USDA/FSIS, but non–O157 strains, which can be just as devastating, are not. As a result, non-O157 strains of E. coli are not regulated or even regularly tested for in our meat supply.

Currently, there are two separate outbreaks emerging involving the non-O157 strains E. coli O1111 and E. coli O145. More than 50 people have fallen ill since April 7th although neither has yet been linked to a specific food product.

Like their notorious counterpart E. coli O157:H7, E. coli serogroups O26, O111, O145, and others have truly become a major public health problem. Annually in the United States they account for 37,000 illnesses and 30 deaths (Mead et al., 1999; Tozzi et al., 2003; Sonntag et al., 2004). Strains of E. coli O145 isolated from patients with sporadic illness ranked among the top six non-O157 serogroups submitted to the CDC by 43 state public health laboratories between 1983 and 2002 (Brooks et al., 2005). In a recent study that my law firm commissioned to discover the prevalence of non-O157 E. coli in retail hamburger samples, we found that approximately 1.9% of the 1216 ground beef samples tested were positive. And, this was ground beef sitting on store shelves, ready to be purchased and consumed. Serotypes included O26 (n=6), O103 (n=7), O113 (n=1), O121 (n=6) and O145 (n=3) (Samadpour, Beskhlebnaya and Marler (2009). This study is ongoing and final report on the 5,000 samples will be published this summer.

In October of 2009, I filed a Petition with the USDA/FSIS for an Interpretive Rule Declaring all enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Including Non-O157 Serotypes, to be Adulterants Within the Meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 601(m)(1). FSIS has responded, but has only said that they are considering the Petition. In addition to our Petition, recently the consumer advocacy group Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP) published a Press Release urging FSIS to declare "disease-causing E. coli’s other than O157:H7 as adulterants in beef and begin testing for them." A few days ago, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging him “to respond formally to two petitions to the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Services: 1) Petition for an Interpretive Rule Declaring all enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing Serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), including Non-O157 Serotypes, to be Adulterants Within the Meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 601(m)(1) – Petition #09-03; and, 2) S.T.O.P.-Safe Tables Our Priority’s Call to Action and Public Petition.”

Perhaps there will be some movement. It is past time for the USDA to declare that all illness causing shiga-toxin producing strains of E. coli are adulterants and ban them from our food supply.

Misti Crane of the Columbus Dispatch (she has covered her fair share of E. coli outbreaks) reported a few moments ago that Health officials in New York have linked a person’s illness there to the E. coli outbreak in Columbus, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are looking into at least 12 more possible cases.

As she reported earlier, all five confirmed Columbus cases have now been genetically linked to the outbreak in Michigan where seven cases have been confirmed with 14 probable. Eight other probable cases in Ohio are under evaluation. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is testing four food samples as is Michigan. Students at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan are among those sickened in the outbreak.

Never hear of E. coli O145 before? – click HERE to see why.  We have found E. coli O145 in hamburger – "PREVALENCE OF NON-O157 ENTEROHAEMMORRHAGIC ESCHERICHIA COLI IN RETAIL GROUND BEEF IN THE UNITED STATES," but it is still to early to say if this outbreak is hamburger or some leafy green – like lettuce.

Despite the fact Patti Waller our Epidemiologist has eaten there dozens of times, the Durham County Health Department is investigating Bullock’s Barbecue restaurant after 15 people were sickened there last week, officials said Tuesday. Seven people were hospitalized for dehydration because of vomiting and diarrhea caused by Salmonella.

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Douglas County Public Health officials and the Oregon Department of Human Services are investigating an outbreak of salmonellosis that has been reported by local medical providers in the past week. Initial investigation results show that the seven people who have become ill ate at the Los Dos Amigos restaurant in downtown Roseburg from April 9 to April 17, according to a Douglas County Public Health news release.

E. coli lawyer, E. coli attorneyColumbus Ohio public health officials announced today that five local confirmed cases of non-E. coli O157 have all been linked to seven cases of in Michigan. The cases in Central Ohio are linked by DNA fingerprinting (PFGE) to cases in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In addition, eight probable cases are under investigation in Central Ohio, including some that involves students from The Ohio State University. Health officials in Michigan have seven confirmed and 14 suspected cases.

There have been no reports of any of the thirty-four victims developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  Thus far local, state and federal health authorities have not released the source of infection.

E. coli Lawyer E. coli AttorneyEleven inmates at Four Mile Correctional Center may be ill with E coli O111 infections. Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti says three cases have been confirmed, with eight more suspected cases. Officials were working with the state health department to prevent the spread of the bacteria among inmates at the minimum-security prison.

Apparently, an E. coli O145 outbreak is no longer confined to Washtenaw County, Michigan or even the state of Michigan.  Ohio now reports E. coli O154 illnesses in Columbus-area residents, including several students of Ohio State University. Press accounts have indicated that a single Washtenaw county, as yet unnamed Mexican restaurant, is the source of the Washtenaw county portion of this outbreak.  The Ohio and OSU illnesses match the Michigan illnesses.

In early April 2009, health officials from several states began investigating reports of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses associated with the consumption of ground beef products manufactured by the JBS Swift company. On June 24, 2009, JBS Swift announced a voluntary recall of approximately 41,280 pounds of beef products due to potential contamination with E. coli O157:H7. Most of the products associated with the June 24 recall bore the establishment number "Est. 969" and had identifying package dates of "042109" or "042209."

By June 28, the recall was expanded to include 380,000 pounds of beef primal products. The products implicated in the expanded recall were produced on April 21, 2009, and were distributed nationally and internationally. These items bore the establishment number "EST. 969," an identifying package date of "042109," and a time stamp ranging from "0618" to "1130." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the products were likely cut again or made into ground beef at retail and then re-packaged. Thus, ground beef packages purchased by consumers may not have exhibited identifying information.

After the recall announcements, the multi-state investigation into the reported E. coli O157:H7 illnesses continued. Samples from unopened packages of ground beef recovered from the house of one of the patients were tested by the Michigan Public Health Laboratory. The tests yielded an E. coli O157:H7 isolate that was an identical PFGE match to the outbreak strain.

By early July 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been notified of twenty three persons from nine states that were infected with the same PFGE-confirmed strain of E. coli O157:H7 implicated in the JBS Swift recall. The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: California (4), Maine (1), Michigan (6), Minnesota (1), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (1) and Wisconsin (6).

Among the seventeen ill persons for whom hospitalization status is known, twelve (70%) were hospitalized. Two of the hospitalized patients developed HUS. Fourteen of the patients (64%) were male and 59% were less than nineteen years old, with ages ranging from 2 to 74 years.

I represent two of the Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome cases, one who ate hamburger and one that ate steak – both kids.