March 2015

Inactivated-Hepatitis-a-Vaccine-Healive-PFS-Shawn Flynn of KWC News reports that a Charlotte restaurant owner is going on the offensive battling perception and health concern over Hepatitis A.

“The restaurant industry is thriving,” said Jon Dressler, owner of three Charlotte-area restaurants.

That’s one reason he opened his third shop last Fall, Dogwood Southern Table in SouthPark.  Last month, however, he received a call no one wants to get. “We were contacted by the Mecklenburg Health Department that one of our employees had contacted Hep A while on vacation,” said Dressler. “It’s not a cleanliness issue, it’s not an internal issue. The health department didn’t have to shut us down.”

The Health Department issued an alert asking everyone who was there over a two day period to get a vaccination.  That created a lot of concern.  “It impacted the business slightly at first. We were deluged with phone calls,” said Dressler.

Dressler quickly became an expert on Hepatitis A and batted the reality versus perception of it. “To put it bluntly, you have a better chance of winning the lottery in Mecklenburg County than contracting Hep A. Transmission of Hep A has never happened in the history of Meck County,” said Dressler.

Rather than being upset, Dressler has another idea.  “It would be wonderful if all of Mecklenburg County restaurant workers were required to have the Hep vaccination,” said Dressler.

Now, that is being proactive.

Star SeafoodAt the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a judge has ordered L.A. Star Seafood Company Inc., located in Los Angeles, and its owners, Sima and Sam Goldring, to halt operations until they demonstrate to the FDA that they can process food in compliance with food safety laws and regulations.

In 2012, at the FDA’s request, the company recalled some of its products due to potential contamination. In 2013, the FDA inspected the L.A. Star facility, and sent the company a warning letter detailing steps the company must take to comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements. In 2014, another inspection of the L.A. Star facility documented the company and its owners’ continued failure to comply with the law.

The consent decree of permanent injunction requires L.A. Star to control for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) and Clostridium botulinum (C. bot), two disease-causing bacteria. The consent decree also requires the company to devise and implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures, and train staff in both.

L. mono is a foodborne pathogen that can cause serious illness or even death in vulnerable groups such as newborns, elderly adults and those with impaired immune systems. C. bot, a bacterium that can grow in seafood products, causes botulism, which is rare, but can cause paralysis and death without prompt treatment. The purpose of food safety regulations is, in part, to prevent the growth and spread of L. mono, C. bot and other microorganisms that cause foodborne illness.

01 Claravale Farm MilkCalifornia Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today warned consumers that the consumption of unpasteurized (raw) dairy products may cause serious illness. Six Northern California residents have recently been diagnosed with campylobacteriosis, a bacterial infection that can come from consuming contaminated raw milk.

A recent investigation conducted by CDPH identified multiple bottles of Claravale Farm raw milk that tested positive for Campylobacter. Under the direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Claravale Farm has initiated a recall of the affected product.

Campylobacteriosis may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting within two to five days after exposure to the organism.  Illness can last for up to a week or more and can be especially severe for those who have weakened or compromised immune systems, and for young children and the elderly. Although most people who get campylobacteriosis recover completely, some patients do suffer long-term effects, including arthritis and paralysis.

Raw milk is milk from cows, goats, sheep, or other animals that has not been pasteurized (heat treated) to kill harmful germs. A wide variety of germs that can make people sick have been found in raw milk, such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, including E. coli O157. E. coli O157 can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a sometimes deadly cause of anemia and potentially permanent kidney failure. Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for the consumer to know whether the raw milk is contaminated.

Over the past decade, CDPH, other states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have investigated numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with consumption of raw milk and raw milk products. These have included outbreaks of illnesses due to Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella.  Many involved young children. Illnesses associated with raw milk continue to occur.

“WARNING: Raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing microorganisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.”

In 2012 Claravale Farms was linked to 22 Campylobacter illnesses by CDPH.

Aramark-Logo-767x460Jon Costa, the food safety manager (no former) for Aramark, the food service vendor at both Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums in Kansas City, went public last November with some stomach-churning food safety violations at the side-by-side stadiums where the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, respectively, play NFL football and Major League Baseball.

He has now been fired by Aramark Sports & Entertainment.

Costa, himself a former health department inspector, grew concerned about what Aramark, the Chiefs, and Royals were allowing at the stadiums last year. When the World Series ended, he documented those concerns for the local health department and copied the media.

The Kansas City Health Department followed up with a November 3 inspection of both stadiums and found violations at 20 of 26 food service stands, including 37 critical violations. Mold growth, filth and excessive fruit flies marked the inspections.

Aramark, in a recent letter obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines unit, reportedly fired Costa “for cause” on March 17, claiming that he violated the stadium food company’s policy by using the media to warn the public about alleged food safety problems.

No good turn goes unpunished.

businesslaw1Sam Wood reports today on one of the largest outbreaks of suspected foodborne illness in Philadelphia – nearly 100 lawyers and law students were sickened last month after attending a banquet celebrating the Lunar New Year in Chinatown.

But even though the restaurant has a history of food-safety problems stretching back several years, the city Health Department says it cannot publicly discuss details of its investigation, citing a 1955 state law.

About 250 people attended the feast Feb. 27 at Joy Tsin Lau, the venerable dim sum restaurant at 10th and Race Streets. Dozens of the diners reported that they felt the first symptoms two mornings later.

Chi Mabel Chan, who has owned Joy Tsin Lau for more than 30 years, denied that the diners had suffered food poisoning from the banquet.

“It was not a problem with my restaurant,” she said, theorizing that chilly weather or festivities at a karaoke bar after the dinner might be to blame.

“Maybe they got cold or drank too much,” she said of the victims.

The eight-course dinner – well-documented on social media – was a fund-raiser for a group of Temple University law students, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association.

“This was the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever witnessed,” Antima Chakraborty, a Philadelphia assistant district attorney, wrote on Yelp, a restaurant review site. “Many individuals had to go to the ER.”

City inspection reports show that Joy Tsin Lau has long had a problem maintaining food-safety standards.

Just 17 days before the banquet, a Health Department sanitarian was at Joy Tsin Lau to check back on an earlier problem. In a report dated Feb. 10, Kyria Weng wrote “that current management practices have allowed unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions.”

Weng cited Joy Tsin Lau for five such risk factors. Several of those – dumplings held at a bacteria-friendly 57 degrees, and a lack of soap and paper towels in the employee restroom – were noted as repeat violations. Weng also found nine lesser violations, called “lack of good retail practices.”

But that was an improvement over Weng’s Dec. 22 visit, when she cited the restaurant for seven risk factors for foodborne illness (including a chicken held at unsafe temperatures) and 13 lesser violations.

Back in 2010, the city Health Department filed suit against Joy Tsin Lau after deeming it a “public nuisance” and issued a cease-and-desist order for “failure to ensure that public-health standards for a safe and sanitary operation . . . are being maintained.”

This all seems reasonable about why the health department would keep all of this as quiet as possible?

marlerBy Naomi Tomky March 24, 2015

Illustration by Celeste Byers

Attorney Bill Marler has won more than $600 million for clients since he and his partners formed Marler Clark in 1998. Marler rose to fame—or notoriety, if you’re a food producer—in 1993, when he successfully litigated a series of suits against Jack in the Box on behalf of children who contracted E. coli from eating the fast food joint’s tainted beef. Undercooked hamburger patties contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 (“the nasty form,” Marler points out) sickened more than seven hundred people in five states, killing four people and hospitalizing hundreds—mostly kids. Investigations revealed that Foodmaker, Inc., Jack in the Box’s parent company, had been warned about undercooking patties by health departments, but decided to continue the two-minute cook time for business reasons, and to maintain a better texture. Marler resolved cases for more than one hundred victims.

Bill Marler isn’t a lawyer with a focus on foodborne illnesses: he is the foodborne-illness lawyer. Marler Clark owns twenty-eight different websites, from Food Safety News to Listeria Blog. In a 2011 case involving Listeria in cantaloupe, Marler represented fifty of the sixty-six claimants. In a 2006 spinach-based E. coli outbreak, he represented 104 of 105. There are other lawyers out there who take on similar cases but, according to Marler, “there aren’t four lawyers in the world that have as much experience” in the field as the core attorneys of Marler Clark. “Twenty-two years into this,” Marler says, “I’ve taken tens of thousands of cases. Some outbreaks might have a hundred people, or some twenty. I can say I’ve been involved in every major foodborne-illness outbreak that’s occurred in the U.S. since 1993.” Continue Reading Lucky Peach – Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler

ucm439536Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is recalling three 3 oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups- chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which 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.

On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold thru retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.

The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming via food service accounts.

Ice Cream Cup Chocolate (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #453
Ice Cream Cup Strawberry (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #452
Ice Cream Cup Vanilla (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #451

CASA-DI-PIZZA-MULVILLE-01-625x375-300x180WIVB Buffalo reports that the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center drew a crowd of hundreds of pizza lovers Monday, looking for protection against possible exposure to hepatitis A.  Casa Di Pizza, a popular Elmwood Avenue restaurant in Buffalo, had a server diagnosed with the disease on Friday. The Erie County Health Department encouraged 1,500 – 2,000 patrons to receive vaccinations if they ate at the restaurant or banquet room between March 9th and March 19th — Monday they vaccinated 766 people. The bar and take-out service were not involved with the server in question.

WIVB also reported on inspection records at Casa Di Pizza going back to 2013 that showed the business has been cited for violations before.

·       In September 2014, health department inspectors cited Casa-Di-Pizza for 6 violations, including one critical for food not maintained at proper hot holding temperatures. A follow- up inspection later in the month found no violations;

·       In February 2014, inspectors cited the business for eight violations, including two critical. Again, food not maintained at a proper hot holding temperature was cited. A follow-up inspection in March found no violations;

·       In August 2013, the restaurant was hit with eight violations, including six critical. Once again, food not maintained at a proper hot holding temperature was among the violations listed. A re-inspection the following month found no violations;

·       In April 2013, inspectors acting on a complaint found one violation for adequate hair restraint not used by persons in food preparation area. A follow-up inspection three weeks later found no violations.

352ClaravaleTopIn 2012 Claravale Farms was linked to 22 Campylobacter illnesses by CDPH.

Raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream produced by Claravale Farm of San Benito County are the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in Claravale Farm’s raw milk and raw cream from samples collected and tested by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators with code dates of “MAR 28” and earlier, and retailers are to pull those products immediately from their shelves.

CDPH found the campylobacter bacteria in samples collected as part of an investigation of illnesses that may have been associated with Claravale Farm raw milk.  No illnesses have been definitively attributed to the products at this time.  However, CDPH is continuing its epidemiological investigation of reported clusters of campylobacter illness where consumption of raw milk products may have occurred.

According to CDPH, symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever.  Most people with camplylobacteriosis recover completely.  Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week.  The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all.  However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection.  A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection.  In addition, a rare disease called Guillian-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

 

BillMarlerPhoto-HeroMaking the food system less complex could be key to cutting down on food contamination, says veteran food safety attorney William Marler.

CYNTHIA GRABER: This is Cynthia Graber reporting for FutureFood 2050. Food safety in the U.S. is still a huge issue today. According to the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention (CDC)], 48 million Americans a year are sickened by foodborne illnesses, which leads to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. In addition to the loss of life, the government estimates the cost from such illnesses in the billions of dollars in terms of lost wages and productivity and medical expenses.

William Marler is a well-known lawyer whose practice, Marler Clark, is called The Food Safety Law Firm. He’s won a number of key lawsuits that have advanced food policy in the U.S. In one of his most famous, he won a landmark case for victims of E. coli contamination from hamburgers purchased at Jack in the Box restaurants in 1993. I asked him about the current state of food safety.

If I got to be the guy with the magic wand, I would do exactly with salmonella what the government did with E. coli 20 years ago, and I would say that you can’t have salmonella in chicken. And industry would adjust.”

—William Marler