In its continued efforts to protect consumers and ensure food safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun testing fresh cilantro, parsley and basil, as well as processed avocado and guacamole, for certain microbial contaminants. These two large-scale sampling assignments will help the FDA assess the rates of bacterial contamination in these commodities, as well as help to identify possible common factors among the positive samples.

The FDA plans to collect 1,600 samples for each assignment. As of January 1, 2018, the agency had collected 35 domestic samples (4.6 percent) and 104 import samples (12.4 percent) of the total for fresh herbs. None of the domestic samples tested positive. Of the 104 import samples tested, 4 tested positive for Salmonella, 3 tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, and none tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7.

As of January 1, 2018, the agency had collected 58 domestic samples (7.3 percent) and 49 import samples (6.1 percent) of the totals for processed avocado/guacamole. Of the 58 domestic samples tested, 3 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Of the 49 imported samples, 1 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. It is important to note that no conclusions about overall contamination rates can be made until all of the data are collected, validated and analyzed.

If samples are found to be positive for microbial hazards, the FDA will pursue an appropriate regulatory and enforcement option, which may include encouraging a voluntary recall, ordering a mandatory recall, ordering administrative detention to prevent food from being distributed, issuing public warnings to alert consumers to the potential danger, or, in the case of imported products, refusing their entry into the United States and subjecting future shipments to an import alert. In the case of the positive samples identified in the first quarter of data collection, imported products capable of causing disease were prevented from entry into the United States and domestic products were voluntarily recalled.

The agency chose to sample fresh herbs because they are typically eaten without having undergone a ‘kill step,’ such as cooking, to reduce or eliminate bacteria. These herbs are also often eaten as part of multi-ingredient foods, and thus people may not report having eaten them when they become ill.

From 1996 to 2015, the FDA reported nine foodborne outbreaks linked to basil, parsley and cilantro, which resulted in 2,699 illnesses and 84 hospitalizations. Of the nine outbreaks, seven were attributed to Cyclospora cayetanensis; one was attributed to E. coli O157:H7; and one was attributed to Shigella sonnei. The FDA is seeking to obtain baseline estimates of the prevalence of Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in cilantro, basil and parsley. The agency also intends to test for Cyclospora cayetanensis during the summer months, when  Cyclospora-related illnesses typically occur.

The agency chose to sample processed avocado because avocados have a high moisture content and a non-acidic pH level, conditions that can support the growth of harmful bacteria. Processed avocado products, including avocado that is fresh cut, refrigerated and frozen, may be packaged and eaten without having undergone a ‘kill step’ prior to consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 12 outbreaks of foodborne illness related to avocado, avocado products or guacamole products from 2005 to 2015. Of those 12 outbreaks, nine involved Salmonella and three involved E. coli, resulting in 525 illnesses and 23 hospitalizations. Though no Listeria outbreaks were reported in connection with avocados from 2005 to 2015, a recent sampling assignment by the FDA detected Listeria monocytogenes in samples collected from the fruit’s pulp and skin. The agency is seeking data on the prevalence of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in processed avocado and processed avocado products.

The  assignments are anticipated to last 18 months. The agency will post results on a quarterly basis and also post a comprehensive report once sampling and analysis is complete.


The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE) is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella illness at Aims Community College. This illness may be associated with catered events held at Aims on February 9 and February 13, 2018. The February 9 event has 1confirmed Salmonella case that had about 70 people attend. The February 13 event has 2 confirmed cases that was attended by 400 people. Of the 10 confirmed Salmonella cases, 6 adults reside in Weld County, 1 in Larimer, and 1 in Boulder county. The events were catered by an outside restaurant, the Burrito Delight, located in Fort Lupton. The public is not at risk and the restaurant is now closed for the duration of the investigation.

Health officials said Thursday that they have confirmed all 10 illnesses are linked to food served by Burrito Delight at catered events, or at the restaurant between Feb. 9 and 12.

The restaurant failed the health inspection in the following areas: Temperature control, appropriate storage, proper storage of employee drinks, one instance of improper hand washing, and the presence of a rodent. The restaurant has received 12 critical violations in the past year.

“Salmonella is a bacteria that causes symptoms like diarrhea, upset stomach, fever, and occasionally vomiting,” said Mark E. Wallace, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Weld County Health Department. “Symptoms typically last 4 to 7 days, and most people recover on their own. Anyone who suspects they became ill should contact their health care provider.” For some people, the diarrhea may become so severe that they require hospitalization. Symptoms typically appear 6-72 hours after eating contaminated food and will typically last for 4 to 7 days without treatment. However, in severe cases, the symptoms may last longer.

915 Sick with 172 Deaths.

According to the National Institute For Communicable Diseases:

As of 20 February 2018, 915 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD since 01 January 2017 (Figure 1). Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (59%, 541/915) followed by Western Cape (12%, 112/915) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%, 66/915) provinces. Cases have been diagnosed in both public (64%, 587/915) and private (36%, 328/915) healthcare sectors. Diagnosis was based most commonly on the isolation of Listeria monocytogenes in blood culture (73%, 669/915), followed by CSF (22%, 198/915). Where age was reported (n=886), ages range from birth to 92 years (median 20 years) and 41% (361/886) are neonates aged ≤28 days (Figure 2). Of neonatal cases, 97% (351/361) had early-onset disease (birth to ≤6 days). Females account for 56% (499/886) of cases where gender is reported. Final outcome data is available for 67% (617/915) of cases, of which 28% (172/617) died.

94 Sick in Iowa, Chicken Salad sold at Fareway grocery stores in Iowa, as well as Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

28 – Confirmed Case Definition:

Persons with Salmonella Typhimurium (confirmed or visual match to Pattern JPXX01.0275) with illness onset since January 1, 2018 reporting consumption of chicken salad from Fareway (any store) in the 7 days prior to illness onset.

66 – Probable Case Definition:

Persons that are epi linked to a confirmed case (all confirmed cases are laboratory confirmed), OR Persons who test positive by CIDT or culture (with serotype and PFGE pending) with illness onset since January 1, 2018 reporting consumption of chicken salad from Fareway (any store) in the 7 days prior to illness onset.

Minnesota has one case associated with this outbreak so far, in a Martin County resident.

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 reported in the state of Iowa that may be caused by Salmonella associated with a chicken salad product. This product was sold at all Fareway grocery stores in Iowa, as well as Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The chicken salad item for this public health alert was produced between Dec. 15, 2017 and Feb. 13, 2018. The following product is subject to the public health alert:

  • Varying weights of “Fareway Chicken Salad” sold in plastic deli containers with a Fareway store deli label.

This product was shipped to all Fareway grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota and sold directly to consumers who shopped at Fareway.  The problem was discovered following reports of illness in Iowa.

On Feb. 9, 2018, the Iowa Department of Public Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella related illnesses, within the state of Iowa.  FSIS continues to work with public health partners at the Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Inspections and Appeals on this investigation. Updated information will be provided as it becomes available.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) today jointly issued a consumer advisory for chicken salad sold at Fareway stores. The chicken salad, which is produced and packaged by a third party for Fareway, is implicated in multiple cases of salmonella illness across Iowa. Preliminary test results from the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) at the University of Iowa indicate the presence of salmonella in this product.

Fareway voluntarily stopped the sale of the product and pulled the chicken salad from its shelves after being contacted by DIA. “The company has been very cooperative and is working with IDPH and DIA in the investigation of the reported illnesses,” said DIA Food and Consumer Safety Bureau Chief Steven Mandernach, who noted that no chicken salad has been sold to the consuming public since last Friday evening (2/9/18).

IDPH is investigating multiple cases of possible illness associated with the chicken salad. “The bottom line is that no one should eat this product,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “If you have it in your refrigerator, you should throw it away.”

A Little Caesars Pizza restaurant in Indiana was temporarily closed after customers found mouse feces in their food.

Johnathan McNeil said he and his girlfriend noticed the droppings after picking up the pizza at a Little Caesars in Indianapolis on their way home on Feb. 6, reports Fox 59.

“She looked at the pizza and realized there was like doo-doo looking stuff on the pizza,” said McNeil.

Disgusted, the two rushed back to the restaurant.

“All of them were looking at my pizza dumbfounded as if they didn’t know what’s going on,” recalls McNeil, “I said ‘That’s mouse doo-doo on the bottom of my pizza.'”

Later, McNeil called in health inspectors and posted about the incident on social media.

“I called the police and three officers came to the scene and found the mice poop covering the entire pizza,” McNeil wrote on Facebook. “This is extremely disgusting and unsafe to health. I seen a woman with children walking out with pizza before me. Lets expose them & get them shutdown.”

Upon inspection, authorities confirmed McNeil’s suspicions.

“We did find that there were rodent droppings and violations that warranted us doing a license suspension,” said Janelle Kaufman with the Marion County Health Department.

The new mother,Michelle Carr, of a 10-week-old newborn boy was enjoying a quick lunch on Jan. 29 as she washed her lettuce, inverted it to drain, ripped it apart by hand and threw on some grape tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then, as she went to take a bite, she stuck her fork into something firm, but it wasn’t a slice of avocado.

It was the scaly, tail-less carcass of a lizard.

“It was longer than my middle finger without its tail. We’re not talking about a spider or a bug or even a little salamander. This was a huge lizard with scales,” said Carr, a registered hematology oncology bone marrow transplant nurse. “I instantly wretched and I was revolted because I thought for a second I could’ve eaten its tail.”

Carr said she purchased the bag of store-brand romaine lettuce at the Shaw’s supermarket in Portsmouth on Jan. 26.

Carr said she had a friend who is a biologist examine the lizard and told her it could have been a blue-bellied lizard, which primarily live in California and can be up to 8.4 inches long, according to the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. The lettuce is distributed by a company out of California.

Carr said she then called representatives at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS), Shaw’s and the Food and Drug Administration but had not yet heard if her complaint was being investigated.

On Monday, NHDHHS communications director Jake Leon took a call from Seacoast Media Group and confirmed his agency had received the complaint from Carr. Because the lettuce was packaged and shipped from another state, he said that any investigation would be conducted by the FDA.

A batch of frozen raspberries from China that was recalled by the provincial government could have made hundreds of Quebecers sick last summer.

More than 700 confirmed or suspected cases of norovirus, a diarrhea-inducing bug, were reported to the health watch division of Quebec’s Health Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).

MAPAQ surveys found that consuming food that contained these raspberries, which came from the same Chinese supplier, was potentially the source of last summer’s contamination.

Three Quebec importers — Farinex, Mantab and Alasko — were subject to 11 food recalls by MAPAQ between June 21 and Aug. 14.

Hotels, restaurants, pastry and dairy shops, retail stores, retirement homes and daycares across Quebec were affected by the recall.

Norovirus symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and fatigue. While it is highly contagious, it usually doesn’t require medical intervention and clears up on its own within a few days.

Fox 31 News reports that the Tri-County Health Department has confirmed to FOX31’s Erika Gonzalez that one person has died from Salmonella poisoning related to eating at a restaurant in Aurora.

The health department tells FOX31 that 33 people were sickened by eating at La California restaurant on Peoria Street in November 2017. One person died from issues related to salmonella.

The health department says lab tests show the family combo meal may have led to the poisoning.

The health department says the outbreak affected people who ate at La California from November 4 to November 26, 2017.

La California is at 1685 Peoria Street in Aurora.

The health department’s report says 13 of the 33 cases are confirmed, and 20 of the cases are probable for Salmonella. The illnesses involved 32 restaurant patrons and one employee.

Twenty-five cases had exposures at the restaurant with their meals with a 5-day period from November 10 to November 14, 2017.

La California earned an ‘F’ in FOX31’s Restaurant Report Card two years ago for 30 critical violations in its March 2015 health inspection.

Guymon Extracts Inc. of Guymon, OK, is recalling 4,202 pounds of pork soup after an inspector discovered a processing problem that may have allowed pathogen growth, including Clostridium botulinum and Clostridium perfringens, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Tuesday.

The USDA labeled the recall Class I, meaning it is high risk. Expiration dates on the product are set for the end of next year, so people could still have the recalled soup in their homes.

The fully cooked pork products were produced and packaged on Jan. 3. The following product is subject to the recall:

  • 2-pound polly bags packed 10 to each paper carton with labels that say “Pork Soup with Rendered Pork Fat (from bone)” with lot code 010218-1, a product code of 61306, and a best-before date of Dec. 22, 2019.

The products subject to recall have the establishment number “Est. 32161” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection. Guymon Extracts Inc. sent the recalled pork soup to distribution centers, which further distributed it in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington.