June 2014

Canada 59 – USA 21

In the United Sates as of June 9, 2014, a total of 21 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (13 persons), Salmonella Hartford (6 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 12 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).  Two ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.  Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that organic sprouted chia powder is the likely source of this outbreak.

In Canada as of June 27, 2014, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 59 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (33) and Quebec (3). Nine cases have been hospitalized; seven cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering.

As of June 27, 2014, a total of 18 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from five states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (11).

44% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak.

The FDA conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts’ facility on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014; and June 6, 2014. During the inspection, FDA investigators observed a number of unsanitary conditions, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves; a rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system; tennis rackets that had scratches, chips, and frayed plastic” used to scoop mung bean sprouts; a pitchfork with corroded metal being used to transfer mung bean sprouts; and a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood being used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat.

As far back as September 1998, the FDA issued a warning against sprouts urging:

children, pregnant women and the elderly should not eat alfalfa sprouts until growers find a way to reduce the risk of a potentially deadly bacteria that infects some sprouts, the Food and Drug Administration said this week. The FDA, which is investigating sprout industry practices, said children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating sprouts. The agency’s statement, issued Monday, repeated similar but little-noticed advice the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gave to doctors and researchers a year ago.

 The time has come to label sprouts as potentially hazardous.
Barfblog does a great job of tracking sprout outbreak through 2012.  Outbreak Database carries on – through 2014.

As far back as September 1998, the FDA issued a warning against sprouts urging:

children, pregnant women and the elderly should not eat alfalfa sprouts until growers find a way to reduce the risk of a potentially deadly bacteria that infects some sprouts, the Food and Drug Administration said this week. The FDA, which is investigating sprout industry practices, said children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating sprouts. The agency’s statement, issued Monday, repeated similar but little-noticed advice the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gave to doctors and researchers a year ago.

Here is the CDC warning :

Sprouts Not Healthy Food for Everyone

Children, the elderly, and persons whose immune systems are not functioning well should not eat raw sprouts, because current treatments of seeds and sprouts cannot get rid of all bacteria present.

Persons who are at high risk for complications from foodborne illness should probably not eat raw sprouts, according to an article in the current issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s peer-reviewed journal, which tracks new and reemerging infectious diseases worldwide.

Although sprouts are often considered a “health food,” the warm, humid conditions needed for growing sprouts from seeds are also ideal for bacteria to flourish. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria can grow to high levels without affecting the appearance of the sprouts.

Researchers have treated both seeds and sprouts with heat or washed them in solutions of chlorine, alcohol, and other chemicals. Some of these disinfectants reduced the levels of bacteria, but a potential hazard remained, especially for persons with weak immune systems. High temperatures that would kill the bacteria on the seeds would also keep them from sprouting. Until an effective way is found to prevent illness from sprouts, they should be eaten with caution, if at all.

Marler Clark filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois on behalf of Vladimir Sokhatskiy, a Lake County resident sickened with Listeria monocytogenes that lead to meningitis. The Listeria infection is linked to the recall of Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad with Chives from prepared foods manufacturer Lansal, Inc.

On June 8, 2014, Lansal, Inc. recalled 304 six-ounce plastic containers of Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad with Chives that it had manufactured and distributed for sale at defendant Trader Joe’s locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The recall occurred because defendant Lansal, Inc. had detected the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of the recalled product during a routine testing by the company.

On May 19, 2014, Lansal, Inc. also recalled 14,860 pounds of hummus and dip products due to contamination by Listeria monocytogenes. The hummus and dip products were produced at the same facility as the recalled Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad with Chives products.

Vladimir Sokhatskiy consumed the Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad in early June 2014. The 57 year old is a resident of Lake County, Illinois. In 2005, Vladimir was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, for which he began chemotherapy. As a result, he had a suppressed immune system, making him highly susceptible to bacterial infection.

Several days after consuming the Egg White Salad, Mr. Sokhatskiy developed a fever and headache. His symptoms worsened and he was hospitalized at Highland Park Hospital with a fever of 104. Symptoms continued to worsen after being released and he had to return for further hospitalization. He underwent a lumbar puncture for testing of his cerebrospinal fluid. Test results showed that he had developed bacterial meningitis. Shortly thereafter, tests would confirm that the bacteria responsible for causing his meningitis condition was Listeria monocytogenes. Mr. Sokhatskiy was hospitalized in a nursing and rehabilitation facility until June 25, 2014. He continues in his treatment for Listeriosis, receiving home and health care and intravenous antibiotics, which will continue through at least the end of July 2014.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1,000 cases result in death.

General recommendations for preventing Listeria include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).

 

Food Safety News reports that Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are introducing a bill in the House of Representatives that would give the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) the authority to declare any foodborne pathogen an adulterant and recall contaminated products.

The “Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act” amends the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act to create a clearer definition for an adulterant to include “a microbial pathogen, such as Campylobacter or Salmonella, that is resistant to not less than two critically important antibiotics for human medicine” and mandates that FSIS develop and implement stronger testing protocols to identify the adulterants.

“We need to make sure that USDA and the other agencies have the tools and the mandate to move rapidly on behalf of public health,” DeLauro said.

Although several strains of E. coli have been declared adulterants, along with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products, FSIS has previously indicated that it does not have the authority to declare Salmonella an adulterant in cases such as raw poultry.

As I said to the Oregonian:

Bill Marler, a prominent food safety litigator, welcomed the bill but said it shouldn’t be necessary.

“There’s no question that if (the USDA) chose, especially with ill people repeatedly linked to a product, they have the authority to recall the product and shut these plants down without congressional approval.”

Food Safety News also reported in May that on the third anniversary of filing a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to have antibiotic-resistant Salmonella declared an adulterant, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is still waiting for a response.

On Wednesday, the consumer advocate group filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to require USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to respond to its petition targeting Salmonella Heidelberg, Newport, Hadar and Typhimurium strains.

According to 4029 TV, The Benton County Health Department said they it will be doing a follow-up inspection at the Salsarita’s Restaurant at the Walmart Home Office Café within the next few days.

The Department said it has confirmed 19 cases of shigella and 139 probable cases.

Inspectors found nine violations on that inspection.  Of those nine violations, five were marked priority, meaning they were concerns that needed to be fixed fast.

Some violations included, employees not washing their hands or touching cooked food without wearing gloves.

The report said raw chicken had been dripping on bottled drinks.

A second inspection was done Monday. Inspectors found seven violations, some of them are the same.

The health department has planned a second follow-up inspection for next week.

 

In Canada, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 52 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (26) and Quebec (3). Six cases have been hospitalized; five cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of one case was not provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 37 of 39 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of sprouted chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.

The CDC has reported that as of June 9, 2014, a total of 21 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (13 persons), Salmonella Hartford (6 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 12 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).  Two ill persons infected with a strain of Salmonella Oranienburg have been identified in two U.S. states.  Through product testing and interviews with ill people, these illnesses have been combined with the Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford infections previously identified as part of this investigation.

The United States Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have issued food recall warnings for various products containing sprouted chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder.

E. coli and Salmonella Outbreak at unnamed Decatur Church – As many as 19 sick with possibly 2 deaths:

WHNT reports that Alabama State epidemiologist Dr. Mary McIntyre confirms there are 19 combined cases of E. coli and Salmonella in Morgan County.  The link may be a luncheon at a church (unnamed) in Decatur on May 30, 2014.

“At this time, we are aware of 19 reports of illness based on our current information. We have positive test results for E. coli and Salmonella.  While we cannot report on individual cases due to Fed and State privacy and confidentiality laws, we are aware of one death possibly associated with this outbreak.  The investigation is ongoing at this time,” McIntyre said in a statement.  Health Department employees are performing medical record reviews and questionnaires with the 19 people in Morgan County.

Salmonella Outbreak at Russellville El Patron – At least 14 sick:

WAAY reports that Alabama State health investigators have confirmed 14 Salmonella cases in customers who ate at a Russellville restaurant.  All 14 confirmed cases were in people who ate food from El Patron restaurant on June 4 and 5.  El Patron, which is located on Highway 43 in Russellville, is still closed.

A total of 12 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 4 states. The number of ill persons reported from each state was as follows: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (5), Missouri (1), and Ohio (5).  58% of ill persons were hospitalized. No ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company was the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.

On May 19, 2014, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.  The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B.”  The recalled ground beef was shipped to distributors for retail and restaurant use nationwide. There was no distribution of the products to the U.S. Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/internet sales.  The recalled ground beef was also distributed to a limited number of retail establishments for consumer purchase.  Read the full list of products that were recalled.

Being in Hong Kong gives me the advantage of being 15 hours ahead of my office in Seattle.  While they are sleeping, I can get a little work and reading done – and do a little plotting as well.

NBC News reports that Foster Farms announced Monday that they lowered levels of Salmonella in chicken parts — and invested $75 million to do it — even as the firm battles a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 people in more than a year.

According to NBC, most recent 10-week data shared with the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that Salmonella levels in the firm’s chicken parts had dropped to 2 percent — far below the industry benchmark of 25 percent, Foster Farms officials said.

Perhaps it is time to redo our 2011 testing of contamination levels in chicken purchased in Seattle.  Here were some of the results.

The study showed that up to 80% of Seattle area raw chicken could be contaminated with some form of potentially harmful bacteria. Testing done by IEH Laboratories in Lake Forest Park, Washington showed that 80 of 100 raw chickens purchased at various Seattle area grocery stores contained at least one potentially harmful pathogen.

The test was comprised of 18 brands of chicken purchased at 18 different Seattle area stores including chain grocery stores, Safeway (3 locations), Albertsons (2), QFC (4), Fred Meyer (2), Thriftway (1); warehouse clubs Costco (2) and Sam’s Club (1); natural foods stores Whole Foods (1) and PCC (1), and one small market, Ken’s Market (1).

In the study local and organic chicken did not prove to be safer than other samples. In terms of origination, 59 chicken samples originated from Washington, while 13 samples came from other states and 28 were of unknown origin. Regardless of place, chicken from every state tested was confirmed to contain potentially harmful bacteria.  Of the 14 samples of organic chicken 12 contained harmful bacteria.

The study tested for five pathogens.  While some findings were typical, other results were more surprising.  Previous studies have found on average that 33 to 53% of chicken is contaminated with Campylobacter.  In Seattle 65% of the chicken tested positive for Campylobacter.  Salmonella was isolated in 19% of the chicken purchased at retail stores in the Seattle area, slightly higher than the expected average of 16%.  Staphylococcus aureus was found in 42% of the chicken sampled; 10 of these samples were Methicillan-resistant, commonly known as MRSA.  One sample cultured positive for Listeria monocytogenes and one sample cultured positive for E. coli O26, a bacteria often found in beef.

As of June 6, 2014, a total of 150 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Cotham (145 persons) or Salmonella Kisarawe (5 persons) have been reported from 35 states since February 21, 2012.  57% of ill persons are children 5 years of age or younger.  43% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

A second rarely reported serotype, Salmonella Kisarawe, was added to this outbreak investigation after a sample from a bearded dragon collected from an ill person’s home yielded both Salmonella Kisarawe and Salmonella Cotham.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of Salmonella infections to contact with pet bearded dragons purchased from multiple stores in different states.