September 2011

The CDC has totaled 84 persons infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes from 19 states.   The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1) California (1), Colorado (17), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (13), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (11), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (2).  Fifteen deaths have been reported: 3 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 5 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas. State and local health departments in these and other states are investigating other listeriosis illnesses to determine if they are part of this outbreak.

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I differ in those numbers by adding in:

Idaho – 1 Ill

Kansas – 2 Ill, 1 Dead

Montana – 1 Ill

Wyoming – 1 Dead

Manning Beef, LLC, a Pico Rivera, Calif. establishment, is voluntarily recalling approximately 80,000 pounds of 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 following products are subject to recall:

• Combo bins of BroPack Inc Beef Manufacturing Trimmings “65/35, 50/50 or 85/15” produced on Sept. 23, 2011.

• Combo bins of Paso Prime Beef Manufacturing Trimmings “65/35, 50/50 or 85/15” produced on Sept. 23, 2011.

• 30 and 60 lb. boxes of primal cuts, subprimal cuts and boxed beef produced on Sept. 23, 2011.

The establishment is recalling a variety of beef primal and subprimal cuts (such as top round and tri tip) and manufacturing trimmings due, in part, to insanitary conditions as reflected by an unusually high number of confirmed positive E. coli O157:H7 test results conducted by the establishment on the manufacturing trimmings.

Today the CDC reported that a total of 84 persons infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 19 states.  All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1) California (1), Colorado (17), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (13), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (11), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (2).   Fifteen deaths have been reported: 3 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 5 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.

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With the help of Efoodalert, here is a consolidated “State of the States” listing, which summarizes the outbreak status and the recall information for each state.

  • Alabama:- One case.
  • Alaska:- No cases. None of the cantaloupes were shipped to Alaska.
  • Arizona:- No outbreak cases. One cases of Listeria that is unrelated to the outbreak.
  • Arkansas:- One case.
  • California:- One confirmed case. According to the California Department of Public Health, none of the recalled cantaloupes were distributed in California (FDA’s news releases include California in the distribution list).
  • Colorado:- Seventeen (17) confirmed cases; 3 deaths.
  • Connecticut:- No cases.
  • Delaware:- No cases.
  • Florida:- One case.
  • Georgia:- No cases.
  • Hawaii:- No cases. No recalled cantaloupes were shipped to Hawaii.
  • Idaho:- One case under investigation – a Jerome County woman in her 60s, who became ill in early September and was hospitalized but has recovered.
  • Illinois:- One confirmed case (female in her 80s from Cook County). No additional cases under investigation.
  • Indiana:- Two cases.
  • Iowa:- No cases.
  • Kansas:- Five (5) confirmed cases, including one death. Three more cases (including a second death) are still under investigation.
  • Kentucky:- No outbreak cases. Three unrelated cases in the state this year.
  • Louisiana:- No cases.
  • Maine:- No cases.
  • Maryland:- One apparently related case (patient died at the end of August). The victims was a resident of central Maryland, and had eaten cantaloupe. Traceback is continuing.
  • Massachusetts:- No cases.
  • Michigan:- No cases.
  • Minnesota:- No cases.
  • Mississippi:- No cases.
  • Missouri:- Three (3) confirmed case (94-year old individual); one death. The “immediate” cause of death was not a Listeria infection.
  • Montana:- One confirmed case in Yellowstone County. One case under investigation in Gallatin County.
  • Nebraska:- Six (6) confirmed cases; one death (a man in his 80s from the western part of the state. No additional cases under investigation. The six victims – all of them more than 75 years old – were residents of five different counties: Douglas (2), Gage, Hitchcock, Seward, and Cherry.
  • Nevada:- No cases.
  • New Hampshire:- No cases.
  • New Jersey:- No cases.
  • New Mexico:- Thirteen (13) confirmed cases (5 deaths). According to a Sept 29th news release, the five fatal cases include a 93-year-old man from Bernalillo County, a 61-year-old female from Curry County, a 63-year-old man from Bernalillo County, a 77-year-old man from McKinley County and a 96-year-old female from Lea County. The other New Mexico cases have come from Bernalillo, Chaves, Otero, De Baca, and Valencia counties. The cases range in age from the 43 to 96 and include 7 men and 6 women. No additional cases are under investigation at this time.
  • New York:- No cases.
  • North Carolina:- No cases.
  • North Dakota:- One confirmed case – a 60+ year old woman who was hospitalized in early September. The recalled cantaloupes were supplied to Walmart stores in North Dakota.
  • Ohio:- No cases.
  • Oklahoma:- Eleven (11) confirmed cases, including one death. Outbreak victims are residents of nine different counties: Oklahoma (3), Canadian, Choctaw, Cleveland, Custer, Kay, Love, McCurtain, and Payne. The first Oklahoma patient developed symptoms on August 30th; the most recent on September 15th. The youngest outbreak victim is 61 years old, and the eldest is 96. Nearly three-fourths of the case-patients are male.
  • Oregon:- No cases.
  • Pennsylvania:- No cases.
  • Rhode Island:- No cases.
  • South Carolina:- No cases.
  • South Dakota:- No cases.
  • Tennessee:- No cases.
  • Texas:- Fourteen (14) confirmed cases, including 2 deaths. The investigation continues, but no specific details are being provided on suspect cases.
  • Utah:- No cases.
  • Vermont:- No cases.
  • Virginia:- One case.
  • Washington State:- No cases.
  • West Virginia:- One case. The recalled cantaloupes were not sold in West Virginia.
  • Wisconsin:- Two (2) cases.
  • Wyoming:- Two confirmed cases. One suspect case (female), including one death. Illnesses were reported from Laramie and Sheridan counties. Onset dates of illnesses range from August 31st to September 15th.

As of September 30th, CDC and various states are reporting a total of 84 confirmed cases, and 15 deaths.

Many consumers across the US have asked me whether any of the recalled cantaloupes were shipped to their state or carried by their local supermarket. FDA reports that the recalled cantaloupes were distributed to the following 28 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. None of the cantaloupes were exported.

Thanks to the CDC and Efoodalert.

Clarence Wells consumed cantaloupe on multiple occasions before becoming ill with symptoms of Listeria infection, including fluid retention, on August 23, 2011. By August 25, Mr. Wells had gained 9 pounds and had begun having difficulty breathing. He was taken to the ER, and was admitted to John’s Hopkins Medical Center later that day. On the morning of August 31, Mr. Wells’ condition deteriorated and his family was called to the hospital, where they found him unconscious. They never spoke to him, or saw him awake, again. Mr. Wells died the evening of August 31, 2011. See PDF of Complaint.

For more on Listeria Cantaloupe and other poisonous foods:


This week I spent three days in mediation on E. coli O157:H7 cases (and a fair amount of time talking too much about Listeria and cantaloupe).  Last week were speeches in Denver and Phoenix to people in the restaurant and hospitality industies about how to avoid foodborne illness claims.  The week before that it was Salmonella claims in Minnesota.  Next week, well, I’ll be in Canada and Virginia.

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I think it may still be Food Safety Month?  

ABC’s News’ Neal Karlinsky and I had lunch today for his story tonight “Food-Borne Illness Attorney: Top Foods to Avoid.”  This says it all:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that 13 deaths and 72 illnesses have been connected to the listeria-tainted cantaloupes. Marler, who has worked on dozens of major food-borne illness cases, called this outbreak “stunning.”

“People die, we all will, but you shouldn’t die from eating cantaloupe,” he said. “You shouldn’t die from eating food. You shouldn’t die from having a meal with a friend. It just shouldn’t be that way.”

The CDC has reported a total of 72 persons infected with the four outbreak-associated strains (genetic patterns) of Listeria monocytogenes from 18 states. Those numbers will likely increase as more ill and dead are counted. In addition, the incidence of listeriosis in pregnancy is 12 per 100000, compared with a rate of 0.7 per 100000 in the general population. To date, it is unclear if the CDC numbers are counting miscarriages. Also, it is unclear what the estimated numbers of ill are. Generally, it is two to three times the actual counted.

All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011 and continue through min-September. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).

Ages range from 35 to 96 years, with a median age of 78 years old. Most ill persons are over 60 years old or have health conditions that weaken the immune system. Fifty-eight percent of ill persons are female. Among the 67 ill persons with available information on whether they were hospitalized, 66 (99%) were hospitalized.

Thirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.  There are at least 3, and likely more to be counted.

The Cantaloupes where grown and processed by Jensen Farms and distributed by Frontera and shipped from July 29 through Sept 10 to at least 25 states with possible further distribution. The known states are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. 

Laboratory testing by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified Listeria monocytogenes bacteria on cantaloupes collected from grocery stores and from an ill person’s home. Product traceback information from Colorado state officials indicated these cantaloupes also came from Jensen Farms. Laboratory testing by FDA has identified L. monocytogenes matching outbreak strains in samples from equipment and cantaloupe at the Jensen Farms’ packing facility in Granada, Colorado.

And, for the argument that the sick and dead should have washed away the listeria, the FDA advises consumers not to eat the recalled cantaloupes and to throw them away. In Fact, the FDA says:

Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe. Cutting, slicing and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh.

Thank goodness for ABC’s Brian Hartman pointing out that bad things could happen to a Republican too.

john-boehner-waah.jpgThe recall of 65 tons of ground beef that might be contaminated with E. coli has hit close to home for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

The meat, recalled today by Tyson Fresh Meats, was shipped to 16 states. But Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., was eager to point out that the recall was prompted by illnesses that struck a family in Ohio’s 8th District, which is represented in Congress by Republican Boehner.

WCPO, ABC’s affiliate in Cincinnati, reported today, “four children became ill after eating the meat with their family in Butler County, Ohio, in the second week of September.

“A 9-year-old child was hospitalized for about 10 days with severe diarrhea,” the station reported.

DeLauro said she hopes this is a “wake-up call” for Republicans who plan to cut food-safety funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

At 72 sickened with 13 deaths the Jensen Farms Frontera Listeria Outbreak has moved into third place in the United States most deadly foodborne illness outbreaks.  The numbers of ill and dead are expected to increase in this recent Listeria Outbreak.

Jalisco’s Listeria Outbreak

•          January 1985

•          Vehicle: cheese

•          Number ill: 142

•          Deaths: 48

Bil Mar Foods Ready-to-eat Meats Listeria Outbreak

•          January 1998

•          Vehicle: deli and cured meats

•          Number ill: 101

•          Deaths: 31

Jensen Farms Frontera Listeria Outbreak

•          September 2011 – ONGOING

•          Vehicle: whole cantaloupe

•          Number ill: 72

•          Deaths: 13

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) Salmonella Outbreak

•          September 2008

•          Vehicle:  Peanuts and peanut butter

•          Number ill: 716

•          Deaths: 9

Pilgrim’s Pride Listeria Outbreak

•          July 2002

•          Vehicle: deli meats

•          Number ill: 54

•          Deaths: 8

Dole Brand Natural Selections Bagged Spinach E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

•          August 2006

•          Vehicle: spinach

•          Number ill: 238

•          Deaths: 5

SanGar Produce Listeria Outbreak

•          January 2010

•          Vehicle: celery

•          Number ill: 10

•          Deaths: 5

Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

•          November 1992

•          Vehicle: ground beef

•          Number ill: 708

•          Deaths: 4

Chi Chi’s Hepatitis A Outbreak

•          October 2003

•          Vehicle: green onions

•          Number ill: 660

•          Deaths: 4

Thanks for some updated numbers on www.outbreakdatabase.com.

tysonburgers.jpgTyson Fresh Meats Inc., an Emporia, Kan. establishment, is recalling approximately 131,300 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 following products are subject to recall:

  • 5-pound chubs of Kroger-brand “GROUND BEEF 73% LEAN – 27% FAT,” packed in 40-pound cases containing eight chubs. Cases bear an identifying product code of “D-0211 QW.” These products were produced on Aug. 23, 2011 and were shipped to distribution centers in Ind. and Tenn. for retail sale.
  • 3-pound chubs of Butcher’s Brand “GROUND BEEF 73% LEAN – 27% FAT,” packed in 36-pound cases each containing 12 chubs. Cases bear an identifying product code of “D-0211 LWIF.” These products were produced on Aug. 23, 2011 and were shipped to distribution centers in N.C. and S.C. for retail sale.

3-pound chubs of a generic label “GROUND BEEF 73% LEAN – 27% FAT,” packed in 36-pound cases each containing 12 chubs. Cases bear an identifying product code of “D-0211 LWI.” These products were produced on Aug. 23, 2011 and were shipped to distribution centers in Del., Fla., Ga., Md., Ill., Ind., Mo., N.Y., Ohio, Tenn., Texas and Wis. for retail sale.

The products subject to recall have a “BEST BEFORE OR FREEZE BY” date of “SEP 12 2011” and the establishment number “245D” ink jetted along the package seam. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on FSIS’ website at www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_Recalls/Open_Federal_Cases/index.asp.

FSIS and the establishment are concerned that consumers may freeze the product before use and that some product may be in consumers’ freezers. FSIS strongly encourages consumers to check their freezers and immediately discard any product subject to this recall.

FSIS became aware of the problem yesterday (Sept. 26, 2011) when the agency was notified by the Ohio Department of Health of E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses located in Butler County. Illness onset dates range from Sept. 8, through Sept. 11, 2011. The on-going investigation involved collecting leftover ground beef from the patients’ home on Sept. 19 which tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s laboratory today (Sept. 27).

CDC Reports a total of 72 persons infected with the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported to CDC from 18 states. All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).

Screen Shot 2011-09-27 at 4.16.20 PM.pngThirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas. Listeriosis illnesses in several other states are currently being investigated by state and local health departments to determine if they are part of this outbreak.