October 2016

Next week I am off to speak at Western Grower’s 91st Annual Meeting Grand Hyatt Kaua’i, Koloa, Hawaii on November 6-9, 2016 – I know tough duty.  I decided to send a couple hundred Poisoned books to give the attendees a stark reminder why food safety is so important.

Poisoned book Jeff BenedictHere is a sample platter of the reviews on “Poisoned” that have come out.

Roanoke Times:
“He also gives balanced treatment to the fast-food chain’s executives — men who could easily be vilified for the oversights that led to the tragedy — for their goal to set new industry standards for safety, to keep their company from shutting down in a storm of bad publicity, and for what seemed to be a genuine desire to help the families they inadvertently hurt, no matter how high the cost.”

“Benedict also touches on the ways the potentially deadly bacteria entered the food supply and how this outbreak, unlike others that preceded it, ended up improving standards for food handling in restaurants and processing plants.”

The News Advance:
“The story moves to Seattle, where hundreds of children get sick. Marler, a young lawyer frustrated with his career, starts learning about E. coli and amasses a list of clients.”

“He later helps one of those clients, Brianne Kiner, secure a $15 million settlement, the largest personal injury settlement at that time.”

“Benedict knows how to make a story both informative and important. “Poisoned” explains technical details as lawyers wrangle over legal fees and doctors run tests on micro-organisms, while also weaving in the emotions of individuals and families.”

The Richmond Times Dispatch:
“Anyone who has suffered from food poisoning knows the misery of the condition without going into detail. But few have found it life-threatening.”

The Day:
“A stunningly researched work, “Poisoned” reads as though Clarence Darrow had written “The Jungle” – and further proves Benedict is at the very top of those artistes whose narrative nonfiction burns like beach-happy, page-blasting thrillers.”

Poor Taste Magazine:
“After reading the first seven pages of your book, I was in tears, one hand covering my mouth, my heart racing as I learned the appalling story of six-year-old Lauren Rudolph, who succumbed to death just one week after consuming a dangerous, bacteria-filled hamburger. I was absolutely sucked in to your retelling of the outrageous, deadly E. Coli outbreak of the early ‘90s — a massive eruption of the most virulent strain of the bacteria that sickened over 600 people, killed four children, and nearly annihilated the Jack in the Box fast-food chain. Your simple but eloquent writing style kept me intrigued page after page, and as a result, Poisoned, with its revealing and heartbreaking stories of the victims of foodborne illnesses, took over my life for an entire week.

Tri-State Livestock News:
“Benedict’s portrayal of those involved in the case of tainted hamburger traced to Jack in the Box restaurants is compelling, captivating and cautionary. As horrifying as the account is, Benedict tells it with compassion and class. So often lacking in what passes for news writing today, Benedict covers the story from every angle without passing judgment; he does it while presenting the humanness of those involved. From young patients to their parents, fry cooks to restaurant executives, physicians and scientists to the lawyers representing both sides, the reader rides shotgun in the fast-paced thriller that could pass for fiction. Only it’s not.”

New York Times:
“Jeff Benedict manages to deliver a full literary experience of a medico-legal thriller in a work of nonfiction … Benedict delivers the story in a staccato, you-are-there fashion.” “There is only one supremely colorful character in the story that Mr. Benedict overlooks, and that is E. coli itself.”

“Poisoned” also received some extra exposure when another New York Times writer, Mark Bittman, discussed “some stomach-churning facts about the E. coli outbreak,” with central character Bill Marler, the lawyer who sued Jack in the Box in the early 1990s.”

“The guy we have to thank for having our current level of protection against E. coli … is Bill Marler who made his bones in the Jack in the Box case.”

San Diego Tribune:
“Benedict proves to be a master storyteller,” she wrote. “And his subtext is that because of what happened at Jack in the Box, the government changed its regulations, the company provided an all-encompassing plan that it shared with others in the industry to keep food products safe and people changed the way — and what — they eat.”

CS Monitor:
“Then Benedict moves on to the legal battle over the deaths, with a movie-like focus on the young attorney who represents one of the children. That lawyer, Bill Marler, breaks all the usual rules – viewing the child’s injuries, for instance, “more through the eyes of a parent than a lawyer.” But his unconventional approach proved successful and laid the groundwork for his current status as one of the country’s leading and most impassioned food safety lawyers.”

Associated Press:
“Once the legal story gets rolling, however, ‘Poisoned’ becomes a fast-paced narrative and a cautionary tale about how public health policy, corporate practices and public relations, and lawyers’ chutzpah and frenzy for fees can converge in a place we all know well: the neighborhood hamburger joint,” Sullivan wrote.

Bainbridge Island Review:
“Bainbridge Island resident Bill Marler remembers the outbreak well. After graduating from WSU, Marler was a third-year associate at the Seattle law firm of Keller Rohrbach. While the drama dominated the national media, Marler received a call from the mother of one of the afflicted children. A high-stakes legal battle ensued, wrought with cinematic-worthy drama.”

“The landmark $15 million settlement Marler won in a class action suit against the fast food chain propelled him into the spotlight. These days, Marler is considered the nation’s leading food safety lawyer.”

Kirkus Review:
“Just in time for BBQ season, an investigative journalist traces the path of a devastating outbreak of food-borne illness linked to hamburger meat.”

King County Bar Journal:
“Benedict has crafted Poisoned as a multi-part narrative, which takes us behind the scenes at JIB, into the slaughterhouses and hospitals, and through the legal machinations, bureaucracy, and skullduggery. Part of the story is the outbreak and the resulting, well-known legal case; the other side is the lesser-known – and still ongoing – changes in the food industry designed to clean up food processing and prevent future outbreaks. Most of these were initiated by Jack in the Box itself, which hired a leading food safety consultant as a full-time management employee to change the way – and what – Americans eat.”

“But there are two main characters: Bill Marler, the Seattle lawyer who represented many of the plaintiffs and made his name in the case, and 9-year-old Brianne Kiner of Seattle, his “biggest” client.”

Desert News:
Poisoned,” continues to grab headlines across the country.” “With the recent E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France, Benedict’s nonfiction work is becoming a resource for people concerned about food poisoning issues.”

Grist:
“The result is a fast-paced, incredibly readable, even if at times a tad overly dramatized, story. (To be fair, it’s difficult to charge someone with overstating tragedy when it comes to the death of children.)”

statemapSeveral states, CDC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) are continuing to investigate a multistate outbreak of foodborne hepatitis A. Information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of acquiring hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Café’s, as the contaminated food product has been removed as of August 8. Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection can take up to 50 days to appear. As a result, CDC continues to identify cases of hepatitis A related to the initial contaminated product. As of October 17, 2016:

134 people with hepatitis A have been reported from nine states: Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (107), West Virginia (7), and Wisconsin (1).

52 ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate frozen strawberries imported from Egypt are the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, nearly all ill people interviewed reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations prior to August 8 in a limited geographical area, including Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

On August 8, 2016, Tropical Smoothie Café reported that they removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from their restaurants in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and switched to another supplier. Out of an abundance of caution, Tropical Smoothie Café has since switched to another supplier for all restaurants nationwide.

Hawaii-State-Department-of-Health-logoSince the last update, HDOH has identified 2 new cases of hepatitis A. Seventy-three (73) have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Eleven (11) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and seven visitors have returned to the mainland or overseas.

Although the 50-day maximum incubation period from the date of the scallops embargo has passed, HDOH continues to be alert for people who have had onset of illness earlier but may present late to a clinician, as well as possible secondary cases. Secondary cases have been rare in this outbreak and have been limited to household members of cases or close contacts of cases.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A – 291
Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 10/9/16.

goldenTwo new confirmed cases of Hepatitis A were recorded in Hawaii in the past week, bringing the total number of people sickened to 291. Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 10/9/16.  Most of the ill are residents of Oahu.  However, eleven individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and seven visitors have returned to the mainland or overseas.

And, another restaurant worker has been identified as a victim, raising concerns about the possibility of additional exposures. In addition to the weekly case count update, officials with Hawaii’s Department of Health reported Wednesday that a worker at McDonald’s of Kahala, at 4618 Kilauea Avenue in Honolulu, has the virus. Affected dates of service for the McDonald’s employee were Sept. 20, 21, 23, 24, 27–29, and Oct. 1, 4–5, 7, and 11. It is unlikely that any McDonald’s customers contracted the virus from the McDonald’s employee, according to state officials.

Sounds a bit(e) familiar?

Also:

McDonald’s Hepatitis A Exposure Class Action Lawsuit (Alabama)

Another Hepatitis A Class Action Filed

Hawaii-State-Department-of-Health-logoAs of October 12, 2016 – Since the last update, HDOH has identified 1 new case of hepatitis A. Seventy-one (71) have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and seven visitors have returned to the mainland or overseas.

Although the 50-day maximum incubation period from the date of the scallops embargo has passed, HDOH continues to be alert for people who have had onset of illness earlier but may present late to a clinician, as well as possible secondary cases. Secondary cases have been rare in this outbreak and have been limited to household members of cases or close contacts of cases.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A – 289

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 9/28/16.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert out of an abundance of caution due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella that may be associated with a chicken salad product sold from Costco Store #1190, in Lynwood, Wash.

pha-100916The chicken salad item for this public health alert was produced Aug. 26 through Sept. 2, 2016. The following product is subject to the public health alert:

  • Varying weights of “Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad”.

This product was sold directly to consumers who shopped at Costco Store #1190 in Lynwood, Wash.

On September 26, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses in the state of Washington. Working in conjunction with CDC and the Washington State Department of Health, FSIS determined that there is a possible link between rotisserie chicken salad from Costco’s Alderwood store in Lynwood, Wash. and these illnesses. Based on epidemiological evidence, four Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- case-patients have been identified with illness onset dates ranging from September 2 to September 6, 2016. Traceback investigation indicated that three of these case-patients consumed rotisserie chicken salad purchased on August 26, August 31 and September 2, 2016 from this Costco location. No product has tested positive for this strain of Salmonella. Clinical isolates associated with this investigation were tested for antibiotic-resistance, and three isolates from Washington State were found resistant only to tetracycline and susceptible to other antibiotics commonly used to treat salmonellosis. FSIS continues to work with Costco and public health partners on this investigation, and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Sound a bit(e) familiar?

Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad (Final Update) | November 2015 | E. coli | CDC http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2015/o157h7-11-15/index.html

 

Screen-Shot-2016-10-08-at-2.12.18-AMLewis County Public Health & Social Services announced today that recent customers of the Shop’N Kart bakery in Chehalis, may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

“On October 6, 2016, a case of hepatitis A in a bakery worker was reported to the Health Department,” said Danette York, Lewis County Public Health & Social Services director. “To prevent illness, persons who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A and ate decorated cakes or cupcakes from the bakery between September 22 and October 6, 2016 should contact their healthcare provider about treatment to prevent hepatitis A,” said York.

Persons who ate these foods between September 8 and 22 may also have been exposed, but it is now too late for treatment to prevent illness. If you ate decorated cakes or cupcakes from the bakery and develop symptoms of hepatitis A, contact your healthcare provider.

Shop’N Kart contacted public health as soon as they became aware of the infection and have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of their customers. No cases of hepatitis A associated with the bakery have been reported.

Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver. It is spread from person to person by the fecal-oral route, often by inadequate handwashing after using the toilet or changing diapers. Typical symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Symptoms usually develop 2–7 weeks after exposure. Some infections may be very mild or may not produce symptoms.

3FcB0eoNAs reported yesterday, the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) is currently investigating reports of illness possibly associated with Mighty Taco restaurants.  The investigation is being conducted jointly with the New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”), Niagara County Department of Health, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

At this time, the ECDOH has received reports from 104 individuals reporting symptoms consisting primarily of nausea and vomiting after consuming refried beans from one of 11 Mighty Taco locations in Erie County between the dates of September 27th and noon on October 6th, 2016. As this is an ongoing investigation, those numbers may change as additional reports are received.

“The investigation and analysis into an incident of a possible foodborne illness can be very complicated and may take weeks,” stated Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.  “We need to interview each individual extensively to identify a possible source. I can assure Erie County residents that the full resources of the ECDOH are working on this.”

Representative samples are en route to the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center in Albany for testing. The exact time when results will be available is unknown, but are not expected before the end of next week at the earliest.

Erie County residents who wish to report an illness that may be associated with this investigation may do so by calling the ECDOH Office of Epidemiology and Disease Control at 716.858.7697.

486258140_XSSeveral states, CDC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are continuing to investigate a multistate outbreak of foodborne hepatitis A. Information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of acquiring hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Café’s, as the contaminated food product has been removed as of August 8. Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection can take up to 50 days to appear. As a result, CDC continues to identify cases of hepatitis A related to the initial contaminated product. As of September 29, 2016:

132 people with hepatitis A have been reported from eight states: Arkansas (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (106), West Virginia (7), and Wisconsin (1).

52 ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate frozen strawberries imported from Egypt are the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, nearly all ill people interviewed reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations prior to August 8 in a limited geographical area, including Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

On August 8, 2016, Tropical Smoothie Café reported that they removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from their restaurants in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and switched to another supplier. Out of an abundance of caution, Tropical Smoothie Café has since switched to another supplier for all restaurants nationwide.