As of June 7, 2019, a total of 279 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 41 states.

Illnesses started on dates from January 1, 2019, to May 24, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 92 years, with a median age of 25 years. Fifty-seven percent are female. Of 152 people with information available, 40 (26%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

One of the outbreak strains making people sick was identified in samples collected from backyard poultry in Ohio.  Additional testing in several states is being conducted.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about animal contact in the week before they became ill. Of 153 people interviewed, 118 (77%) reported contact with backyard poultry before becoming ill. Ill people reported buying poultry from various sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries.

Backyard poultry from multiple hatcheries are the likely source of these outbreaks. Regardless of where poultry are purchased, they can carry Salmonella germs that can make people sick. Backyard poultry owners should always follow steps to stay healthy around their poultry.

We have had hens in our backyard since just after the DeCoster egg debacle in 2010.  I clean the chicken house about twice a month and the shoes and clothes I wear are removed before going inside.  I wear a mask and gloves when I clean and either wash my hands well or take a shower.  I do not pick up the chickens unless they are ill, and I wash my hands after I do.  I wash the eggs and refrigerate then.  They tend to get used within the week.

I do my best to think about the possibility of cross-contamination with Salmonella and/or Campylobacter.  So far, so good.

Today Marler Clark filed six lawsuits on behalf of clients related to the 2017 I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Of the six plaintiffs, three are minors who contracted acute kidney failure, hemolytic uremic syndrome, from their E. coli O157:H7 infections. All six of the plaintiffs were hospitalized for multiple days or weeks.  Four lawsuits were filed in California, one in Washington and one in Wisconsin.

In March 2017, the FDA and CDC, along with state and local authorities, linked a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 to I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter. 32 people were sickened and 12 were hospitalized due to their infections. The soy nut butter was produced jointly by the SoyNut Butter Company and Dixie Dew Products Inc., at a facility owned by Dixie Dew in Kentucky. During an investigation of the facility, the FDA found grossly insanitary conditions with soy nut butter buildup on the floors, walls, and ceilings from previous production runs and fly infestation.  Jars of soy nut butter tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

I.M. Healthy and Dixie Dew went bankrupt after using the total of their insurance in settlements to the victims. The Bankruptcy Court Evaluator valued all claims at $70 million. The remaining medical bills and costs now fall to the retailers.

“We have tried for over a year to work with these retailers and suppliers to fairly compensate their customers, however, Target, Kroger (Fred Meyer), Safeway and their suppliers, Kehe and World Finer, are more concerned with pointing fingers at each other than treating their customers with respect. The time has come for a judge and jury to hold them responsible,” stated Marler Clark managing partner, Bill Marler.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli O157:H7 lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli O157:H7 and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $650 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli O157:H7 lawyers have litigated E. coli O157:H7 and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coliO157:H7 lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such E. coli O157:H7 victims as Brianne KinerStephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

For copies of the complaints: Conformed Complaint (Klingelhoffer)Conformed Complaint (Leavitt-Garcia)Conformed Complaint (Simmons)Conformed Complaint (Vanderby)Stuller – Complaint KeheWeber – Complaint FRED MYERS

To talk with Bill, please contact Lauren Fricke at 1-206-346-1888 or lfricke@marlerclark.com.

According to reporting by “The New Food Economy” and “Food Safety News,” last Friday, a federal judge in California told the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nation’s leading food regulator, to stop dragging its feet on the long-awaited rules surrounding food recalls and outbreaks of foodborne illness.

U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and FDA to designate a list of “high-risk foods,” create new record-keeping requirements for some companies that handle those foods and post that information publicly by 2020. The agencies had been sued by two consumer advocacy groups, the Oregon-based Center for Food Safety and the California-based Center for Environmental Health, alleging that the government agencies were not complying with an important food safety timetable.  2019-06-07–doc-33-1–consent-decree_35775

In the complaint, which was filed last October, the two groups said the government agencies weren’t implementing rules in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a landmark law signed by President Barack Obama in 2011. A wide-ranging package of regulations, FSMA is concerned, above all, with preventing outbreaks of foodborne illness. It gives FDA—the division of HHS which regulates 80 percent of the country’s food supply—greater authority to track potentially hazardous ingredients and compel product recalls. 2018-10-15–doc-01–complaint_50519

Part of those regulations revolve around high-risk foods—defined as those that are most commonly recalled or are produced in a way that makes them more likely to harbor harmful bacteria.

In the Consent Decree filed on June 7, 2019, FDA agreed to a schedule for FDA action, including:

  • Sept. 8, 2020 – Deadline for FDA to designate the list of “high risk” foods as required by the FSMA Section 204(d)(2)(A).
  • Sept. 8, 2020 – Deadline for FDA to publish a proposed rule, including record-keeping requirements for high-risk foods, also as required by FSMA Section 204(d)(2)(A).
  • Nov.7, 2022 – Deadline for FDA to issue a final rule, including record-keeping requirements for high-risk foods, also as required by FSMA Section 204(d)(2)(A).

The FDA has do date considered “High Risk” as soft cheeses, seafood, custard-filled bakery products, some fruits and vegetables and baby formula.  So, going forward, how will the FDA determine what is “High Risk”? Perhaps FDA drafts might give clue?

Section 204(d)(2) of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA” or “we”) to designate high-risk foods (HRFs) for which additional record keeping requirements are appropriate and necessary to protect the public health. These additional record keeping requirements will make it easier to rapidly and effectively identify recipients of a food to prevent or mitigate a foodborne illness outbreak. Designation of HRFs must be based on the historical public health significance of the food with respect to outbreaks and cases of foodborne disease, as well as a number of food- and processing-related factors.

Factors to Be Considered Under section 204(d)(2)(A) of FSMA, FDA’s designation of HRFs must be based on the following factors:

i.          the known safety risks of a particular food, including the history and severity of foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to such food, taking into consideration foodborne illness data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
ii.         the likelihood that a particular food has a high potential risk for microbiological or chemical contamination or would support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms due to the nature of the food or the processes used to produce such food;
iii.        the point in the manufacturing process of the food where contamination is most likely to occur;
iv.        the likelihood of contamination and steps taken during the manufacturing process to reduce the possibility of contamination;
v.         the likelihood that consuming a particular food will result in a foodborne illness due to contamination of the food; and
vi.        the likely or known severity, including health and economic impacts, of a foodborne illness attributed to a particular food.

My vote:

Raw Milk
Raw Juice
Raw Sprouts
Pre-cut Fruit and Vegetables (including Leafy Greens)
Raw Shellfish
Uncooked Flour

Any others?

Shades of 2013?

FDA tested Kroger Private Selection frozen berries and they were found to be contaminated with hepatitis A.

In May the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  announced that it has begun spot testing frozen berries for hepatitis A and norovirus. The testing will last 18 months and commenced in November of last year.

Townsend Farms, Inc. has notified Costco that a recent FDA test indicated that a domestic conventional frozen blackberry product manufactured by Townsend Farms, Inc., may be contaminated with Hepatitis A. Townsend Farms, Inc. used the domestic conventional frozen blackberry to manufacture the Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend product with Best By Dates between February 16, 2020, and May 4, 2020. Costco only sold the product in stores located in San Diego and Los Angles, California and Hawaii. No product manufactured for Costco by Townsend Farms has tested positive for Hepatitis A. Costco has no product in its current inventory. Costco has been notifying its members about the potential health risk.

This Notice affects the following product:

KIRKLAND SIGNATURE THREE BERRY BLEND, 4 lb bag —
Best By codes located in the white box on the back of the Product bag:

FEB1620,(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
FEB1820,(A),(B),(C),or (D);
FEB2920,(A),(B),(C),or (D);
MAR0120,(A),(B),(C),or (D);
APR1920,(B),(C), or (D);
APR2020(A),(B),(C),(D),(E), or (F);
APR2720(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
APR2820(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
MAY0220(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
MAY0420 (H).

According to the FDA and CDC there have been no customer illness reports to date related to any product manufactured by Townsend Farms, Inc., using these blackberries.

Earlier this week the Kroger Co. recalled Private Selection Frozen Triple Berry Medley (48 oz), Private Selection Frozen Triple Berry Medley (16 oz), and Private Selection Frozen Blackberries (16 oz) manufactured by Townsend Farms due to possible Hepatitis A contamination.

No customer illnesses have been reported to date. Kroger was informed by the FDA that a sample of the Private Selection frozen berries was tested by the FDA and found to be contaminated with Hepatitis A.

Kroger is recalling the following items, which were distributed to all Kroger family of store bannersExternal Link Disclaimer across the country:

PRIVATE SELECTION FROZEN TRIPLE BERRY MEDLEY, 48 OZ (BEST BY: 07-07-20; UPC: 0001111079120);
PRIVATE SELECTION FROZEN TRIPLE BERRY MEDLEY, 16 OZ (BEST BY: 06-19-20; UPC: 0001111087808);
PRIVATE SELECTION FROZEN BLACKBERRIES, 16 OZ (BEST BY: 06-19-20, 07-02-20; UPC: 0001111087809)

Sound a bit familiar?

On June 4, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon voluntarily recalled certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend because of potential hepatitis A virus contamination.On June 28, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon, expanded its voluntary limited lot recall of frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. because of potential hepatitis A virus contamination.

165 people were confirmed to have become ill from hepatitis A linked to pomegranate arils contained in ‘Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend’ in 10 states: Arizona (23), California (79), Colorado (28), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (11), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2). [Note: The cases reported from Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California, the cases reported from New Hampshire reported fruit exposure during travel to Nevada, and the case reported in New Jersey was a household contact of a confirmed case from Colorado.] Eight of the confirmed cases were household contacts of confirmed cases (secondary cases).

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the Hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool. Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to a contaminated food. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure. Persons who may have consumed affected product should consult with their health care professional or local health department to determine if a vaccination is appropriate, and consumers with symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their health care professionals or the local health department immediately.

Here is a great way to step on the National Doughnut Day message.

Health officials in New Jersey’s Gloucester County are warning Dunkin’ Donuts customers about possible Hepatitis A exposure and urging people to get vaccinated.

A worker at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 460 Hurffville-Crosskeys Rd. in Turnersville tested positive for the communicable liver disease, the Gloucester County Department of Health said Friday, which coincides with National Doughnut Day.

“This individual worked while they were potentially infectious between May 18 through June 1,” the GCDOH said in a news release.

County health officials said the risk to anyone who ate or drank beverages at the store during the contamination period is low, but they are recommending “post-exposure prophylaxis,” or PEP, for unvaccinated people.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, who required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Today is World Food Safety day.

I got this email from Jeff Benedict, author of “Poisoned,” this AM after he gave a speech to a food service business yesterday – I cut out the names to protect the “innocent.”

…was a great experience in Chicago.  I spoke to 400 or 500 attendees at the __________ Foodservice conference.  The cover of POISONED was on two giant screens throughout my remarks.  Lots of people were walking around the hotel with the book in hand.  I talked for an hour about the experience of writing the book.  Shared some great stories about working with you.  The __________ of the company said some nice things about you.  And ___________ relayed a very nice compliment about you from __________.  ___________ told __________ that you have “great integrity” and that you are unlike other plaintiffs attorneys in the sense that you are in it because you care as opposed to being in it for the money. 

One of my best lawyers lives in Kentucky.  He makes Marler Clark within a few hours flight of anyone in the United Sates.  But, what is happening in his home state makes me worry about him and his family.  According to the Kentucky Department of Health, Kentucky’s latest death from hepatitis A reported this week by the state health department raised the toll to 58 in the nation’s largest outbreak of the contagious liver virus.  This is in addition to 4,682 ill and 2,262 hospitalized.

The vaccine-preventable disease, spread mostly among drug users, has sickened 4,682 Kentuckians since the outbreak was declared in November 2017. Spread most likely person-to-person, the virus has hospitalized 48% of its victims and has hit 90% of Kentucky’s 120 counties, with 10 counties reporting new cases in the week ending May 25.

And, then there is the rest of the USA:

Kentucky certainly has been hit hard, but the numbers of unnecessarily ill and dead in the USA are shocking.  Here are the current statistics from the CDC:

Drug use – mostly likely opioids – and homelessness – both issues that morally we need to deal and which we are failing at – have been the main driver of the spread of hepatitis A amount unvaccinated people..

However, in addition, a full 1/3 of the cases are attributable to neither drugs nor homelessness (can I remind you again of the nearly daily announcement of an ill restaurant (unvaccinated) worker exposing customers?).  At this point restaurants that are not offering hepatitis A vaccination to employees are treading in the punitive damages area.  I shall see you in court.

Summary

Public Health investigated an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) associated with I Love Sushi and Café Mario at Nintendo of America campus in Redmond. Café Mario is operated by Sodexo and is not open to the public. I Love Sushi is a food establishment that operates out of Café Mario once a week.

This outbreak appears to be over. After a thorough investigation, we do not have enough evidence to connect I Love Sushi to this outbreak.. No single food item prepared by Café Mario has been identified as the source of the illnesses. Everyone who reported illness has recovered.

Illnesses

Since July 2, 2018, we have learned of 22 people in WA (20 in King County and 2 in Snohomish County) who developed symptoms consistent with an STEC illness, including diarrhea (bloody or non-bloody) and abdominal cramps. All 22 of these ill people are adults who work at the Nintendo of America campus in Redmond. Illness onsets occurred during June 11-July 5, 2018.

The 22 people who got sick all ate food from Café Mario on multiple days before becoming ill. Only four people who got sick also ate at I Love Sushi.

We learned of two additional people from King County who tested positive for E. coli infections with the same bacterial strain as the cases associated with Café Mario. However, these two people had no known connection to Café Mario or Nintendo, and we could not identify any other potential sources of exposure in common with any of the other people who got sick. We are not including these two people in the overall case count of this outbreak.

Public Health actions

On July 3, 2018, Environmental Health investigators visited Café Mario. Inspections were completed for both Café Mario and I Love Sushi.

At Café Mario, investigators identified possible risk factors for cross contamination and spread of bacteria, including improper hand washing practices and improper cold holding temperatures of food; corrective actions were addressed with Café Mario’s management. At I Love Sushi, possible risk factors were also identified and discussed, including improper temperature storage of foods. Both restaurants were not open on the July 4 holiday.

On July 5, 2018, investigators closed Café Mario and the onsite I Love Sushi food services. Investigators revisited both food establishments on July 11, 2018, and both were allowed to reopen the same day. Café Mario and I Love Sushi both completed a thorough cleaning and disinfection of their facilities before reopening, and any remaining processed ready-to-eat food products were discarded.

We did not identify any employees of either restaurant who had a recent diarrheal illness. Investigators also reviewed with management of both food establishments the Washington State Retail Food Code requirement that staff are not allowed to work while having vomiting or diarrhea.

Laboratory testing

Four of the 22 people who got sick tested positive for STEC O26 with the same genetic fingerprint, suggesting that they have a common source of infection. The remaining people who got sick were not tested for STEC, but their symptoms are suggestive of STEC.

Environmental swabs were collected from both I Love Sushi and Café Mario for laboratory testing and all came back negative for STEC at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory.

As of May 30, 2019, 27 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 17 states.

Illnesses started on dates from October 22, 2018 to April 8, 2019. Ill people range in age from 2 to 95 years, with a median age of 14 years. Fifty-five percent are female. Of 17 people with information available, 2 (12%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about animal contact in the week before they became ill. Of 20 people interviewed, 18 (90%) reported contact with hedgehogs before becoming ill. Ill people reported buying hedgehogs from various sources, including pet stores, breeders, or online.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium was identified in samples collected from 10 hedgehogs in Minnesota, including 5 hedgehogs from the homes of five ill patients. A common source of hedgehogs has not been identified.

Regardless of where hedgehogs are purchased, these animals can carry Salmonella germs that can make people sick. Hedgehog owners should always follow steps to stay healthy around their pet.