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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Marler Clark Calls on FDA to Ban Sale of Unpasteurized Juices

In light of the July 8, 2005 FDA recall of unpasteurized juice produced by Orchid Island Juice Co. of Fort Pierce, Florida, Seattle attorney William Marler of Marler Clark, has called again on the FDA to completely ban the sale of all unpasteurized juices.
“It is simply outrageous that after all we’ve learned about the importance of pasteurizing fruit juice, especially after the Odwalla and Sun Orchard outbreaks, we still have companies selling unpasteurized juices, and the government allowing it. This must stop,” said Mr. Marler.
According to the FDA, fifteen cases of infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium have been directly linked with consumption of Orchid Island juice in Michigan, Ohio, and Massachusetts from mid-May to mid-June.
“Not only was Orchid Island exempted from using pasteurization, it also appears that the FDA may have exempted it from labeling its juice as unpasteurized. Why the FDA would allow a company to produce an unpasteurized product and allow no warning label in beyond me,” Marler added.
The FDA in 1998 had set forth a labeling requirement that stated: “WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria which can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.”


Prior Salmonella Outbreaks in Orange Juice
May-June, 1995: Salmonella Serovars Hartford, Gaminara and Rubislaw — In Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., cases of Salmonella infections were reported at a Walt Disney World theme park after people drank unpasteurized orange juice. There were 63 cases from 21 states (average age 10 years old) and 22% were hospitalized. No deaths occurred. Salmonella of three different serotypes were found (Parish, 1998, Smith De Waal et al., 1999). Isolates of the three serovars from the patients, orange juice and processing environment demonstrated a link between the facility and the outbreak (Parish, 1997). Amphibians are suspected to be the source of contamination (Parish, 2000). JAMA. 1999 May 26; 281(20):1892-3.
February, 1999: Salmonella enterica — In Adelaide, Australia there were approximately 500 laboratory confirmed cases of Salmonella infection from fresh, chilled, unpasteurized orange juice. No deaths occurred. The Knispel Fruit Juice Pty Ltd’s orange juice called “Nippy’s” was found to be the cause of the outbreak (Steene, 1999). Oranges from a fresh fruit packing house were the source of the contamination (Parish, 2000).
June 1999: Salmonella Muenchen — In the summer of 1999, over 400 people became infected and one died as a result of drinking either frozen or fresh unpasteurized orange juice contaminated with Salmonella Muenchen. The product was sold by the bottle and in bulk to restaurants, hotels and other food establishments. Thus, 15 US states were involved and 2 Canadian provinces. The juice was produced by Sun Orchard Inc. in Tempe, Arizona and was labeled under a number of different brand names (Sun Orchard, Aloha, Zupan, etc.) (Steinberg, 1999). The causative organism was isolated from samples of the packaged raw juice as well as from storage vats within the packaging facility. Three other Salmonella strains were also isolated from the product at the plant in Tempe, Arizona. Import of Mexican orange juice that contained melted ice is the suspected source of contamination. This was the largest Salmonella outbreak associated with unpasteurized orange juice. JAMA. 1999; 282:726-728.
April 2000: Salmonella enteritidis — Seventy-four confirmed cases of Salmonellosis were reported in 7 US states. No deaths occurred. California Day-Fresh Foods, who sells the unpasteurized juice as “Naked Juice” and “Ferraro’s”, was implicated in the outbreak. The source of contamination is unknown. Source: Press Release, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, April 20, 2000.
About Salmonella
Salmonella is one of the most common enteric (intestinal) infections in the U.S. The reported incidence of Salmonella illnesses are about 17 cases per each 100,000 persons.
Over 40,000 actual cases are reported and confirmed yearly in the U.S. As only about 3% of Salmonella cases are officially reported nationwide, and many milder cases are never diagnosed, the true incidence is undoubtedly much higher. It is more common in the warmer months of the year. Approximately 500 to 1,000 persons or 31% of all food-related deaths are caused by Salmonella infections in the U.S. every year.
According to the April 15, 2005 MMWR article on FoodNet data, five Salmonella serotypes accounted for 56% of all Salmonella infections, as follows: Typhimurium, (20%); Enteritidis, (15%); Newport, (10%); Javiana, (7%); and Heidelberg, (5%).
Salmonellosis
The acute symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea with mucous. The onset of symptoms usually occurs within 6 to 72 hours after the ingestion of the bacteria. The infectious dose is small, probably from 15 to 20 cells. There is no real cure for a Salmonella infection (or salmonellosis), except treatment of the symptoms. For most strains of Salmonella, the fatality rate is less than one percent. Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting. The diarrhea may be non-bloody, occur several times per day, and not be very voluminous, although in severe cases it may be frequent, bloody and/or mucoid, and of high volume. Fever generally occurs in the 38(degree) C to 39(degree) C range. Vomiting is less common than diarrhea. Headaches, myalgias (muscle pain), and arthralgias (joint pain) are often reported as well. Whereas the diarrhea typically lasts 24 to 72 hours, patients often report fatigue and other nonspecific symptoms lasting 7 days or longer.