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May 2016

recalled-General-Mills-flour-406x250Food Safety News reports that General Mills Inc. has initiated a nationwide recall of three brands of flour, totaling about 10 million pounds, in response to a 20-state E. coli outbreak that has sickened 38 people.

Although government officials have reportedly been investigating the outbreak, no state or federal agencies had released any information about it at the point Tuesday when the Minneapolis-based company announced the recall.

“State and federal authorities have been researching 38 occurrences of illnesses across 20 states related to a specific type of E. coli O121, between Dec.21, 2015, and May 3, 2016,” according to a news release from General Mills.

“While attempting to track the cause of the illness, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that approximately half of the individuals reported making something homemade with flour at some point prior to becoming ill. Some reported using a General Mills brand of flour.”

The recall includes six SKUs (stock keeping units or UPC codes) of Gold Medal branded flour, two SKU’s of Signature Kitchens branded flour and one SKU of Gold Medal Wondra branded flour.

Retailers that received shipments of the recalled flour include Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme.

“To date, E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products,” according to the news release.

“As a leading provider of flour for 150 years, we felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” Liz Nordlie, president of General Mills Baking division, said in the release.

Some of the outbreak victims may have eaten raw dough or batter. Nordlie said in the news release and a separate blog posting that no one, especially young children, should ever eat raw dough or batter because of potential pathogens.

“Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling,” according to the news release.

“Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.”

The recalled flour can be identified by the following label information:

  • 13.5-ounce Gold Medal Wondra — Package UPC 000-16000-18980; Better if Used by Dates 25FEB2017 thru 30MAR2017
  • 2-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour — Package UPC 000-16000-10710; Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC thru 03JUN2017K
  • 5-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour — Package UPC 000-16000-10610; Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC, 27MAY2017KC thru 31MAY2017KC, 01JUN2017KC, 03JUN2017KC thru 05JUN2017KC, 11JUN2017KC thru 14JUN2017KC
  • 10-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour — Package UPC 000-16000-10410; Better if Used by Dates 02JUN2017KC,03JUN2017KC
  • 10-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour Banded Pack — Package UPC 000-16000-10410; Better if Used by Dates 03JUN2017KC, 04JUN2017KC, 05JUN2017KC
  • 5-pound Gold Medal Unbleached Flour — Package UPC 000-16000-19610; Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC, 27MAY2017KC, 03JUN2017KC, 04JUN2017KC
  • 5-pound Signature Kitchens All Purpose Flour Enriched Bleached — Package UPC 000-21130-53001; Better if Used by Dates BB MAY 28 2017
  • 5-pound Signature Kitchens Unbleached Flour All Purpose Enriched —Package UPC 000-21130-53022; Better if Used by Dates BB MAY 27 2017
  • 2-pound Gold Medal Self Rising Flour — Package UPC 000-16000-11710; Better if Used by Dates 23AUG2016KC

timthumbThe Tri-City Herald reports that CRF Frozen Foods has laid off an additional 61 workers idled by the ongoing shutdown related to listeria contamination in some of its products.

The move announced Friday raises the number of workers laid off to more than 300.

CRF Frozen Foods has recalled more than 400 products sold under 40 brand names at major retailers such as Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s and Safeway after its products were linked to a listeria outbreak that is linked to eight illnesses.

Two of the patients died, though their deaths are not directly linked to listeria.

The initial recall covered about a dozen frozen vegetable products and began April 22. CRF issued a voluntary recall of all its products on May 2.

The company temporarily laid off 245 workers on May 10, saying it would recall employees when the plant reopens. Friday, it said it was laying off 61 more workers so that they can seek employment with other businesses.

16179dName of product:

Tommee Tippee Sippee spill-proof cups

Hazard:

Mold can develop on the removable, one-piece, white valve inside the spill-proof Tommee Tippee Sippee cups when it remains wet/moist and is infrequently cleaned. The CPSC advises that mold ingestion poses a risk of gastrointestinal symptoms and infections in consumers with compromised immune systems.Units

About 3.1 million (in addition, 227,000 were sold in Canada)

Description:

This recall involves five types of spill-proof Tommee Tippee Sippee cups all with a removable, one-piece white valve. The five types include: First Sips Transition cup, Trainer Sippee cup, Sippee cup (including Cute Quips), Sportee bottle and Insulated Swiggle/Sippee tumblers. The plastic drinking cups have spill-proof tops, easy-grip sides with detachable handles and were sold in clear with colored lids and a variety of colors and character prints. Some of the cups include short phrases on the front of the cups including: “You Pour I’ll Fling,” or “Drink Drop Repeat.” The cups have a 7 to 10 oz. capacity and were sold for children ages 4 to 12 months.

Only Tommee Tippee Sippee cups with a removable, one-piece white valve are included in this recall.

Incidents/Injuries:

Mayborn USA has received 3,066 reports of mold in the removable, one-piece, opaque valve of the Sippee cups, including 68 reports of children experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or other symptoms associated with drinking from a cup with mold in the valve.

Remedy

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Sippee cups and contact Mayborn to receive a free replacement cup.

Sold at:

BuyBuy Baby, CVS, Giant, Kohl’s, Marco Baby, Marshalls, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Ross Stores, Target, Bealls Outlet, Walgreens and Wal-Mart and other mass merchandise stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Babyhaven.com, and Diapers.com from December 2014 through May 2016 for between $4 and $7.

Importer:

Mayborn USA Inc., of Norwood, Mass.

Manufactured in:

China

The program includes two days of sessions facilitated by Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety & Health, Walmart, USA and Adjunct Professor in the Online Master of Science in Food Safety Program at MSU. The program also includes guest lectures by William “Bill” Marler, J.D., (Topic: Justice Department Prosecution of Individuals vs Companies) and renowned MSU faculty members Neal Fortin, J.D., (Topic: Food Safety Modernization Act); Keith Bezant Niblett, DBA, (Topic: Leadership in Times of Change) and The Robert Leader Endowed Lecture with Guest Lecturer David M. ThenoPhD, former Vice President of Jack in the Box, Inc. (Topic: Food Safety Culture — Nature or Nurture?).

The program will be conducted at the James B. Henry Center for Executive Development at Michigan State University. Evening activities include a welcome reception on Tuesday, May 24; dinner and a tour of the internationally celebrated Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on Wednesday, May 25 and a “tailgate” dinner at the Huntington Club at Spartan Stadium on Thursday, May 26.

Yiannas is the author of Food Safety Culture, Creating a Behavior-based Food Safety Management System, and Food Safety = Behavior (30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance). He is also Vice–Chair of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and past President of the International Association for Food Protection.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-23-at-5.21.45-PM-219x300Raw milk and cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County with a code date of June 1, 2016 is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of Salmonella bacteria in raw whole milk and raw skim milk.  No illnesses have been reported at this time.Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand raw milk, raw skim milk and raw cream labeled with a USE BY date of JUN 01 2016 is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted in follow up to a previous recall order on May 9, 2016 that was also due to the detection of Salmonella.According to the California Department of Public Health, symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after exposure. While most individuals recover in four to seven days without medical intervention, some may develop complications that require hospitalization. Infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness.The Salmonella problem is not Organic Pastures first of 2016:

THE 2016 ORGANIC PASTURES RAW MILK SALMONELLA RECALL

Raw milk and cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County with a code date of MAY 18 is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of Salmonella bacteria in raw cream.  No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand raw milk, raw skim milk and raw cream labeled with a code date of MAY 18 is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.[1]

THE 2016 ORGANIC PASTURES RAW MILK COLI O157:H7 OUTBREAK

In January 2016 the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) learned of a cluster of four children diagnosed with E. coli O157 who reported consuming Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) brand raw cow milk before they became sick. Molecular strain typing of patient isolates showed these four patients were infected with an indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157 identified as PulseNet pattern combination “EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628.” Genetic testing by Multiple-Locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA) confirmed PFGE findings.

By late February 2016 ten outbreak associated case-patients residing in seven northern and central California counties had been identified. Nine case-patients had E. coli O157 with the predominant PFGE pattern combination EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628. One case-patient had a closely related PFGE pattern combination EXHX01.6275/EXHA26.0628. Both pattern combinations were given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cluster code 1602CAEXH-1. The patients were primarily children, with a median age of 8 years (range 1 to 26 years). Onset dates of illness ranged from January 14 to January 28, 2016. Four were hospitalized including two children with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Of the ten case-patients, nine were interviewed.  One patient was lost to follow-up and never interviewed. Of the nine that were interviewed, six (67%) reported consuming OPDC bran raw milk prior to illness onset. Three denied known raw milk exposure.

In response to the initial reports of illness, OPDC initiated a recall on February 5, 2016 of two lot codes of raw milk. This recall affected over 100 retail locations in northern and central California. Samples obtained from a patient in Fresno and from multiple retail locations throughout northern California were tested. E. coli O157 was not detected in any of these samples of raw milk.

During discussions with OPDC management, CDPH investigators learned that E. coli O157:H7 had been detected in a bulk milk tank sample in early January 2016. Although this milk was not distributed to the public, this finding resulted in further testing of the milk herd. One of the cows, Cow 149, was identified as having milk that was positive for E. coli O157.  CDPH Food and Drug Laboratory Branch (FDLB) conducted PFGE testing on four isolates cultured from samples collected from Cow 149. PFGE analysis determined the four isolates were PulseNet strain EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628 and were indistinguishable from the main outbreak pattern seen in clinical isolates.

On February 8, 2016 CDPH Food and Drug Branch (FDB) investigators conducted an on-site investigation at OPDC. FDB investigators collected a total of 97 environmental and product samples including 20 product samples (raw milk and cream), 56 cow feces, 18 soil, and 3 water. E. coli O157 was not detected in any of the product samples collected at OPDC. However, multiple environmental samples tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, including feces, soil, and water. These environmental samples were determined by FDLB to have 3 strains of E. coli O157 including the two strains isolated in case-patients (EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628 and EXHX01.6275/EXHA26.0628).

The evidence collected indicated that cattle in the OPDC milking herd were shedding E. coli O157 that matched PFGE patterns associated with ten illnesses in January 2016. Cow 149 produced milk contaminated with E. coliO157 and it is likely that milk from Cow 149 was bottled and shipped to consumers.

PAST RECALLS AND OUTBREAKS LINKED TO ORGANIC PASTURES RAW MILK

October 2015 – Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Test:

Raw milk produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County with a code date of OCT 24 is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.[2] The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw whole milk. No illnesses have been reported at this time. Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand Grade-A raw milk labeled with a code date of OCT 24 is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.

September 2012 – Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Test:

Raw milk, raw skim milk (non-fat) and raw cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County and with a code date of SEP 13 are the subjects of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.[3] The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream. No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand Grade A raw cream, Grade A raw milk and Grade A raw skim milk, all with a labeled code date of SEP 13, are to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.

May 2012 – Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Illnesses:

Raw milk, raw skim milk (non-fat), raw cream and raw butter produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford.[4] The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream.

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any Organic Pastures products of these types remaining in their refrigerators, and retailers are to pull those products immediately from their shelves.

From January through April 30, 2012, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that at least 10 people with campylobacter infection were identified throughout California and reported consuming Organic Pastures raw milk prior to illness onset. Their median age is 11.5 years, with six under 18. The age range is nine months to 38 years. They are residents of Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara counties. None of the patients have been hospitalized, and there have been no deaths.

According to CDPH, symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with campylobacteriosis 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 Guillain-Barré syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

2011 Organic Pastures E. coli Outbreak:

In November 2011, a cluster of five young children with Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infection with matching pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns was identified. Illness onsets were from August 25 to October 25, 2011. All five children reported drinking commercially available raw (unpasteurized) milk from a single dairy (Organic Pastures) and had no other common exposures. Statistical analysis of case­ patients’ exposures with a comparison group of E. coli O157:H7 patients with non­-cluster PFGE patterns indicated a strong association with raw milk. The epidemiological findings led to a quarantine and recall of all Organic Pastures products except cheese aged more than 60 days, and investigations by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Food and Drug Branch (FOB) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Environmental samples collected at Organic Pastures yielded E. coli O157:H7 isolates that had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the patient isolates. Organic Pastures raw milk consumed by the case-patients was likely contaminated with this strain of E. coli O157:H7, resulting in their illnesses. See Final Report.[5]

Organic Pastures has been involved in even more recalls and outbreaks in the past:

Organic Pastures products were recalled for pathogens in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It was tied to a 2007 outbreak of Campylobacter. Most notably, it was quarantined in 2006 after six children became ill with E. coli infections – two with hemolytic uremic syndrome. See Final Report.[6]

2006: 3 strains of E. coli O157:H7 cultured from OPDC heifer feces. See Press Release.[7]

2007: 50 strains of Campylobacter jejuni plus Campylobacter coliCampylobacter fetusCampylobacter hyointetinalis, and Campylobacter lari cultured from OPDC dairy cow feces after eight people were sickened. See State Report.[8]

2007: Listeria monocytogenes cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream. See Press Release.[9]

2008: Campylobacter cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream. See Press Release.[10]

__________

[1]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=16-015

[2]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=15-050

[3]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=12-033

[4]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=12-018

[5]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/press_releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=11-064

[6]           http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5723a2.htm

[7]           http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5723a2.htm

[8]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=15-050

[9]           http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2005/ucm112271.htm

[10]          https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=08-061

539w-300x227Jack DeCoster and Peter DeCoster were sentenced April 13, 2015 by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett to three months in prison for introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.  In addition, they were each required to pay $100,000. The DeCosters’s former company, Quality Egg LLC, was fined nearly $6.8 million. Eggs from their Iowa farms were linked to a 2010 Salmonella enteritidis outbreak that sickened nearly 2,000 and caused the recall of 500,000,000 eggs.

The DeCosters filed an appeal April 27, 2015, asking the U.S. District Court of Appeals 8th Circuit to remove remove the jail time from their sentence.

Pro-business groups, including the Cato Institute and the National Association of ManufacturersPharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington Legal Foundation filed briefs in support of the DeCosters, arguing executives shouldn’t serve jail time for this type of crime.  In part, the arguments for no jail time were the same:

“If executives can be imprisoned for criminal violations of strict liability laws by virtue of the position they hold within a company, the United States economy would suffer.”

“Executive business decisions would be motivated less by good business principles and more by fear of possible future prison sentences.”

The 8th Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal March 17, 2016 and the parties are now waiting for a decision.

I am not sure if Judges of the 8th Circuit have read Bill Neuman’s New York Times article from September 2010 entitled, “An Iowa Egg Farmer and a History of Salmonella.” However, they should. Here are some of the highlights/lowlights.

DeCoster’s frequent run-ins with regulators over labor, environmental and immigration violations have been well cataloged. But the close connections between DeCoster’s egg empire and the spread of Salmonella enteritidis in the United States have received far less scrutiny.

Farms tied to DeCoster were a primary source of Salmonella enteritidis in the U.S. in the 1980s, when some of the first major outbreaks of human illness from the bacteria in eggs occurred, according to health officials and public records. At one point, New York and Maryland regulators believed DeCoster eggs were such a threat that they banned sales of the eggs in their states.

“When we were in the thick of it, the name that came up again and again was DeCoster Egg Farms,” said Paul A. Blake, who was head of the Enteric Diseases Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the 1980s, when investigators began to tackle the emerging problem of Salmonella enteritidis and eggs.

Records released by Congressional investigators suggest that tougher oversight of Mr. DeCoster’s Iowa operations might have prevented the 2010 outbreak, which federal officials say is the largest of its type in the nation’s history, with nearly 2,000 reported illnesses and probably tens of thousands more that have gone unreported.

According to the records, Mr. DeCoster’s farms in Iowa conducted tests from 2008 to 2010 that repeatedly showed strong indicators of possible toxic Salmonella enteritidis contamination in his barns. Such environmental contamination does not always spread to the eggs, and it is unclear what actions Mr. DeCoster took in response. However, when the Food and Drug Administration inspected the farms after the recalls, officials found insanitary conditions and the presence of Salmonella enteritidis in barns and feed.

The first Salmonella enteritidis outbreak recognized by public health officials came in July 1982, when about three dozen people fell ill and one person died at the Edgewood Manor nursing home in Portsmouth, N.H. Investigators concluded that runny scrambled eggs served at a Saturday breakfast were to blame. They traced the eggs to what the Centers for Disease Control reports referred to as a large producer in Maine; interviews with investigators confirmed that it was Mr. DeCoster’s former operation.  Eggs from the same farms were also suspected in a simultaneous outbreak that sickened some 400 people in Massachusetts.

In 1987, the deadly outbreak at Coler Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island occurred. Investigators determined that mayonnaise made from raw eggs had caused the outbreak. They traced the eggs to Mr. DeCoster’s Maryland farms. On a July night in 1987, scores of elderly and chronically ill patients at Bird S. Coler Memorial Hospital in New York City began to fall violently sick with food poisoning from eggs tainted with Salmonella enteritidis “It was like a war zone,” said Dr. Philippe Tassy, the doctor on call as the sickness started to rage through the hospital. By the time the outbreak ended more than two weeks later, nine people had died and about 500 people had become sick. It remains the deadliest outbreak in this country attributed to eggs infected with the bacteria known as Salmonella enteritidis.

After two more outbreaks were linked to DeCoster eggs the following year, New York banned Mr. DeCoster from selling eggs in the state. He was forced to agree to a rigorous program of Salmonella enteritidis testing on his farms in Maine and Maryland.  Michael Opitz, a poultry expert retired from the University of Maine, said that the testing found that a Maine breeder flock owned by Mr. DeCoster was infected, meaning that hens there could be passing the bacteria to their chicks, which might grow up to lay tainted eggs. Widespread contamination was also found in laying barns.

In 1991, tests revealed more Salmonella enteritidis contamination at one of Mr. DeCoster’s farms in Maryland. The state quarantined the eggs, allowing them to be sold only to a plant where they could be pasteurized to kill bacteria. Mr. DeCoster challenged the order and a federal judge ruled that Maryland could not block him from shipping eggs to other states. He was still barred from selling the eggs in Maryland, and in 1992, a state judge found that he had violated the quarantine by selling eggs to a local store; Mr. DeCoster was given a suspended sentence of probation and a token fine.

Soon after interstate shipments resumed in 1992, eggs from the Maryland farm caused a Salmonella enteritidis outbreak in Connecticut, according to a 1992 memo from the Maryland attorney general’s office. Federal regulators insisted that Mr. DeCoster decontaminate his barns.  Dr. Roger Olson, the former state veterinarian of Maryland, said that Mr. DeCoster complained about the cost of testing and the quarantine and insisted there was little risk associated with his eggs.

Perhaps the Pro-business groups arguing for the DeCosters remain free are unaware of the DeCoster history?  The Business arguments aside, personally, I think Jack and Peter need some time away to think about this history – three months seem just about right.

For a little background on the law – Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) in 1938 in reaction to growing public safety demands.  The primary goal of the Act was to protect the health and safety of the public by preventing deleterious, adulterated or misbranded articles from entering interstate commerce.

Under section 402(a)(4) of the Act, a food product is deemed “adulterated” if the food was “prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health.” A food product is also considered “adulterated” if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance, which may render it injurious to health. Chapter III of the Act addresses prohibited acts, subjecting violators to both civil and criminal liability.

Felony violations include adulterating or misbranding a food, drug, or device, and putting an adulterated or misbranded food, drug, or device into interstate commerce.  Any person who commits a prohibited act violates the FDCA.  A person committing a prohibited act “with the intent to defraud or mislead” is guilty of a felony punishable by years in jail and millions in fines or both. The key here is an intentional act.

A misdemeanor conviction under the FDCA, unlike a felony conviction, does not require proof of fraudulent intent, or even of knowing or willful conduct.  Rather, a person may be convicted if he or she held a position of responsibility or authority in a firm such that the person could have prevented the violation.  Convictions under the misdemeanor provisions are punishable by not more than one year or fined not more than $250,000, or both.

Seems evident that the DeCosters more than fit this definition.  Like I said, three months seem just about right.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 8.16.50 PMAccording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS), starting May 17th meat processors are required to disclose on labels whether meat has been through the commonly used process of needle tenderization. The labels also must provide safe cooking instructions that inform consumers that tenderized cuts should be cooked more thoroughly than intact cuts.

Demands for the label information grew in response to the Christmas Eve 2009 National Steak and Poultry recall of 240,000 pounds of steaks for E. coil O157: H7 contamination. In early 2010 the meat was associated with 19 E. coli illnesses in 16 states.

National Steak supplied mechanically tenderized steaks to such popular chains as Moe’s Southwest Grill, Carino’s Italian Grill and KRM restaurants.

Labeling technically tenderized beef products and including cooking instructions on their packaging are important steps in helping consumers to safely prepare these products, said Al Almanza, USDA’s under secretary for food safety. “This common sense change will leaded to safer meats and fewer food borne illnesses.”

Government officials moved up the effective date of the new regulation to today, up from Jan. 1, 2018, which is the next uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations.

The FSIS recommends both tenderized and whole cuts of beef be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° fahrenheit (F).

“These products, like all whole cuts of beef, should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source,” an FSIS spokeswoman said.

“For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes after it has been removed from the heat source before carving or consuming. During this rest time, the internal temperature is either constant or slightly rises to destroy pathogens.”

The mechanically tenderized beef rule is aimed at home cooks, restaurants and other food service operations. Notice is not required on restaurant menus.

The 2009-10 National Steak E. coli outbreak is one of six outbreaks involving needle or blade tenderized beef, according to CDC data. The FSIS reported such tenderization is a common practice because it improves tenderness of less expensive cuts of meat. Chain restaurants that offer affordable steaks are big users of needle and/or mechanical tenderization.

1235027.largeSunOpta expanded recall of sunflower kernels which have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria has now impacted dozens of other products now listed on the FDA recall page

Listeria  is 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.

05/20/2016 Dakota Style Sunflower kernels Listeria monocytogenes Dakota Style Foods, Inc.
05/19/2016 Southern Grove, Naturally Select, more Sunflower seeds, kernels, trail mix products Listeria monocytogenes TreeHouse Foods, Inc.
05/18/2016 Sunrich Naturals and Planters Sunflower kernel products Listeria monocytogenes SunOpta
05/11/2016 Vending Nut Company Sunflower kernel products Listeria monocytogenes Vending Nut Company
05/05/2016 Dakota Style Sunflower kernels Listeria monocytogenes Dakota Style Foods, Inc.
05/05/2016 Creative Snacks Co., Heart Smart Mix, The Fresh Market, Plentiful Planet, and others Sunflower Seed Products bulk and packaged Listeria monocytogenes Creative Snacks Co.
05/05/2016 Publix Wheatberry Salad Containing Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes Publix Supermarkets Inc.
05/04/2016 Kroger Sunflower Salad Toppers, Sunflower Kernels, and Cranberry Delight Trail Mix Listeria monocytogenes The Kroger Co.
05/04/2016 Market District Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes Giant Eagle
05/04/2016 Dakota’s Best Biggy’s and Planters Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes SunOpta
05/04/2016 Hickory Harvest, IM Good, Sheetz, and others Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes Hickory Harvest Foods
05/04/2016 Southern Grove, Natures Harvest, Roundy and others Snacks containing sunflower kernels Listeria monocytogenes TreeHouse Foods, Inc
05/03/2016 Market District Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes Giant Eagle
05/03/2016 Market District Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes Giant Eagle
05/03/2016 Southern Grove, Natures Harvest, Roundy and others Snacks containing sunflower kernels Listeria monocytogenes TreeHouse Foods, Inc.
05/03/2016 Market District Sunflower Kernels Listeria monocytogenes Giant Eagle

shameful-freezerIt’s one of the largest food recalls, with well more than 400 products from CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Washington, sold under more than 40 different brand names at major retailers like Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s and Safeway.  The products went to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Products include organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley, root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, various vegetable medleys, blends, and stir fry packages, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries.  It has found its way into multiple other products that include meats.

So far, eight people have been sickened by listeria that’s genetically similar to that found in CRF vegetables, and two have died, though listeria was not the primary cause of death.  Illnesses occurred in California, Maryland and Washington.  The deaths were in Maryland and Washington.

The initial recall started April 22, covering 11 frozen vegetable products. On May 2, CRF expanded it to include all of its frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed at its Washington plant since May 1, 2014. Because of recently developed whole-genome sequencing of food-contaminating bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC found that the listeria bacteria found in the blood of a person sickened in 2013 is genetically similar to the listeria tied to the recall.

Here is a list of everything on the FDA Website:

May 17, 2016 Updated: Ajinomoto Windsor Recall of Products Related to CRF Frozen Vegetable Recall 
May 13, 2016 Hy-Vee Voluntarily Recalls Frozen Hy-Vee Vegetable Fried Rice and Frozen Hy-Vee Chicken Fried Rice Due to Possible Health Risk 
May 13, 2016 Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods, Inc. Announces Voluntary Recall of Various Dr. Praeger’s and Ungar’s Products Related to CRF Frozen Vegetable Recall for Possible Health Risk 
May 12, 2016 Voluntary Recall on Piggly Wiggly Brand Yellow Cut Corn 
May 10, 2016 Kroger Recalls Simple Truth Organic Frozen Mix Vegetables after Supplier Listeria Concern 
May 09, 2016 NORPAC Foods, Inc. Recalls Natural Directions Organic Mixed Vegetables, And Natural Directions Organic Green Peas, Due To Possible Health Risk 
May 09, 2016 The Pictsweet Company Announces Voluntary Recall of Select Frozen Vegetable Items due to Possible Health Risk 
May 07, 2016 The Pictsweet Company Notifies Consumers that Select Kroger Brand Frozen Vegetables Shipped into the Western US are Included in Previously Announced Recall 
May 06, 2016 Twin City Foods, Inc. Recalls Frozen Organic Peas And Mixed Vegetables Because Of Possible Health Risk 
May 06, 2016 Updated: Watts Brothers Farms Organic Mixed Vegetables, Organic Super Sweet Corn, And Organic Peas And Trader Joe’s Organic Super Sweet Corn Recalled Because Of Possible Health Risk 
May 06, 2016 Harris Teeter Voluntarily Recalls Harris Teeter Frozen Organic Corn and Harris Teeter Frozen Mixed Vegetables 
May 05, 2016 Pita Pal Foods, LP Recalls Corn Relish Salad, Texas Caviar Salad, Mediterranean 3 Bean Salad And Chipotle Quinoa Salad Because Of Possible Health Risk 
May 05, 2016 Watts Brothers Farms Organic Mixed Vegetables, Organic Super Sweet Corn, And Organic Peas And Trader Joe’s Organic Super Sweet Corn Recalled Because Of Possible Health Risk 
May 04, 2016 Updated: CRF Frozen Foods Expands Voluntary Recall to Include All Frozen Vegetable and Fruit Products Due To Possible Health Risk 
May 02, 2016 CRF Frozen Foods Expands Voluntary Recall to Include All Frozen Vegetable and Fruit Products Due To Possible Health Risk 
April 23, 2016 CRF Frozen Foods Recalls Frozen Vegetables Due to Possible Health Risk

 

Here is everything on the FSIS website:

May 20, 2016 Papa John’s Salads and Produce Recalls Ready-To-Eat Salad with Chicken Products Due To Possible Listeria Contamination

May 12 2016  La Autentica Foods, LLC Firm Recalls Meat Tamale Products Due To Possible Listeria Contamination

May 11, 2016 Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc. Recalls Meat and Poultry Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

May 10, 2016 Garland Ventures LTD Recalls Poultry Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

May 6, 2015  Ghiringhelli Specialty Foods Firm Recalls Trader Joe’s Broccoli Slaw & Kale Salad With White Meat Chicken Products Due To Possible Listeria Contamination

 

o-E-COLI-A few weeks before trial, the outbreak that occurred in 2013 was settled for an undisclosed sum.
Between Friday, August 23 and Monday, August 26, 2013, the San Francisco Department of Public Health Communicable Disease Control Unit (SFDPH CDCU) received eight reports of laboratory-confirmed Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 infection in unrelated San Francisco residents.  This number of reports represented a marked increase over the background incidence of E. coli O157 in San Francisco of less than 1 case per month.  The eight reports were received from three clinical laboratories.  Case-patient residences were geographically dispersed throughout San Francisco but suggested moderate to high socioeconomic status.  CDCU initiated standard follow-up interviews with all case-patients.  While no common exposures or demographic characteristics were immediately apparent, cases tended to be younger, salad-eating, local-market shoppers.
On August 26, SFDPH requested assistance from the California Emerging Infections Program (CEIP), and an investigation was initiated to ascertain the source of infections and prevent further illnesses.  The California Department of Public Health Microbial Diseases Laboratory (MDL) was asked to prioritize Pulse-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) testing of E. coli isolates from San Francisco and the surrounding counties.  On August 28, 2013, a Health Alert was sent to local clinicians notifying them of the observed increase in cases, recommending increased testing for symptomatic patients, reminding them of the reporting requirement, and requesting forwarding of E. coli O157 isolates to the SFDPH Public Health Laboratory.
Case-patients were re-interviewed with a detailed hypothesis-generating questionnaire. The hypothesis-generating questionnaire identified a common restaurant and dates of exposure: Burma Superstar restaurant on August 16 and 17.   On August 30, a joint press release was issued by SFDPH and Burma Superstar in order to inform the public and assist in case finding.  A total of 22 confirmed and probable case-patients were identified.  Confirmed cases shared an indistinguishable PFGE pattern combination, EXHX01.0124/EXHA26.0332.  A case-control study and a dining group level cohort study were initiated to identify suspect food items.  A garlic noodle dish was strongly associated with illness, but  the specific ingredient causing disease was not identified.  An environmental investigation resulted in recommendations for the restaurant that included improved hand washing and food handling, as well as a requirement for Food Safety training. See Final Report, Attachment No. 1.