April 2006

e coli outbreakOn April 10, Scripps Howard News Service reported that the federal government warned consumers Monday to take precautions cooking meat after disease detectives concluded there is a connection between 14 cases of illness caused by a dangerous strain of E. coli that has been found in seven states across the country in the last six months.
Amanda Eamich, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said scientific tests only recently connected the illnesses to the same pathogen – known by its scientific name E. coli 0157:H7 – but the source of the pathogen has not yet been determined.
“As the science gets better and better, we are going to be seeing more of this,” Eamich said. She said there is no group pattern to outbreaks of the disease that might have alerted the government earlier, and FSIS Monday issued a public health alert urging consumers to adopt safe practices when handling raw ground beef and other foods.


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On April 28, 2005, the Florida Department of Health announced the ongoing investigation of an upsurge of Florida residents ill with Cyclospora. Over the course of several weeks, Florida residents had complained of intermittent or persistent diarrhea, loss of appetite, substantial weight loss, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, low-grade fever, and fatigue.
Over the course of the next weeks and months, Health Departments, including Sarasota County, worked to locate the cause of the outbreak. Sarasota County focused on the Beanstalk restaurant as the most likely source given the number of ill reporting having eaten there in the incubation period of this intestine burrowing parasite.


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The Florida State Fair outbreak was first recognized after two separate HUS case reports were posted on the Florida Department of Health EpiCom on March 18 and March 21, 2005. The two cases (a 5-yr-old girl and a 7-yr-old boy) both reported having visited a fair with a petting zoo (Agventure) a few days prior to becoming ill. The two children visited the same fair and did not have any other risk factors in common. The fair (the Central Florida Fair) was held from March 3-13, 2005.

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On Sunday, May 22, 2005, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) was alerted to a possible outbreak of foodborne illness centered at Old South restaurant in Camden, South Carolina. DHEC officials commenced their investigation the same afternoon. The outbreak they would soon confirm turned out to be one of the biggest in South Carolina history, sickening over 300 people and killing one man.
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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.”


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“It is not the failure of the Meat Industry in not keeping cattle feces out of hamburger that sickened the child, but it is the fault of the parent who handled and cooked the hamburger that was fed to the child.”
This is a typical response to a sickened child by the meat industry and their lawyers.
At first I calmly tried to respond that the Meat Industry that makes a profit off of selling “USDA Inspected Meat” can not blame the consumer if the product actually contains a pathogen that can severely sicken or kill a child. What other product in the United States would a manufacturer expect consumers to fix themselves before they used it?


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