October 2010

Lisa Lupo of QA Magazine gives the lowdown on the “loathsome cockroach.”

Screen shot 2010-10-31 at 5.02.11 PM.png• According to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) publication, “Cockroaches have been found to be the cause of Salmonella food poisoning that can be life-threatening.” Noting that other pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and coliforms, have been found in cockroaches, UNL explains, “This is because after feeding on contaminated food, disease bacteria can remain in the cockroach digestive system for a month or more. Later, human food or utensils can become contaminated with cockroach feces. It has been shown that Salmonella bacteria survive in cockroach feces for several years.”

• The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has published a white paper, “Pest Management in the Wake of the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella Outbreak,” including reference to conducive cockroach conditions at PCA at the time of the 2009 recall.

• “Cockroaches can spread 33 different kinds of bacteria,” said Missy Henriksen, NPMA Vice President of Public Affairs. “What we are seeing right now is that it really does underscore the importance of sanitation and proper pest management.”

Continue reading – “Cockroaches: A Contributing Factor to Foodborne Disease.”

Screen shot 2010-10-31 at 11.10.01 AM.pngSummary

10 raw dairy outbreaks with 105 illnesses

1 pasteurized dairy outbreak with 23 illnesses

1 queso fresco Mexican-style cheese outbreak with 5 illnesses

3 sporadic illnesses from illegal Mexican-style cheese Recalls

5 raw dairy recalls (3 raw milk, 2 raw cheese)

3 queso fresco cheese recalls

Click to download table with citations.

Screen shot 2010-10-31 at 8.43.29 AM.pngThe firestorm of comments on my blog that have surrounded the recall, quarantine and destruction of cheese at Estrella and Morningland got me thinking once again of the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Organic Pastures in California. I have posted about that outbreak often (some would argue too often):

Organic Pastures Dairy E. coli O157:H7 Raw Milk Product Outbreak 2006

2006 E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Linked to Organic Pastures Raw Milk – One Victims Story

Several of the recent comments suggested the unfairness of the uncompensated destruction of the cheese – especially given that all of that cheese may or may not be contaminated with Listeria or other pathogens.

It is actually and interesting issue. Who should bear the financial burden in the recall? The company that may well have contaminated product – whether it be cheese, 550,000,000 eggs or millions of pounds of hamburger – or the public who is arguably being protected? Certainly in the past, industries – spinach and tomatoes as examples – have sought (and not received) compensation from the government (a.k.a. us taxpayers) to compensate them for being part of a recall that in hindsight may or may not have been completely necessary.  Getting paid for a recall would take a bit of the sting out of recalling your product.

At least in a raw milk case, the State of California did compensate Organic Pastures for the milk destroyed in the recall in 2006 (whether the amount paid was fair may well be another story). See Attached. Of course Organic Pastures spun the State’s payment to it as an admission that the outbreak did not occur – which was not so – see above and below:

Organic Pastures – “Where There is Smoke, There is Fire.”

We bailout AIG and GM, why not Estrella, Morningland, Wright County Egg and Cargill?  So, what are your thoughts? Should all producers, large and small, be compensated by us when a recall happens?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing a public health alert for an undetermined amount of various meat and poultry products produced without the benefit of Federal inspection by N.Y. Gourmet Salads Inc., a Brooklyn, NY establishment.

usda_sm.pngThe public health alert is initiated based on evidence collected during an ongoing investigation. Evidence showed the establishment had been distributing produce without federal inspection.

Products subject to this alert include, but are not limited to, the following:

5 lb. tubs of “Chicken Salad” (This product was observed bearing the NY Gourmet Salads Inc. label.)

5 lb. trays of “Meatballs & Sauce”

5 lb. trays of “Meatballs”

5 lb. trays of “Swedish Meatballs”

5 lb. trays of “Sausage & Pepper”

The noted products were produced between March 11, 2010 and October 29, 2010 and were distributed to retail establishments in New York. The products listed may or may not bear the NY Gourmet Salads Inc. label.

Screen shot 2010-10-30 at 9.29.34 PM.pngAnnounced through a press release, Attorney General Chris Koster has asked the Howell County Circuit Court to require Morningland Dairy, located in Mountain View, to destroy contaminated cheese products that were produced at the facility between January 1 and August 26, 2010.

Morningland Dairy makes cheese products and sells them nationwide. The state of California notified the Missouri State Milk Board in August that samples of Morningland Dairy’s cheese products tested positive for the bacterial pathogens Listeria Monocytogenes and Staphylococcus Aureus. The company voluntarily recalled all of the cheese it produced from January 1 through August 26. 

After the recall, Morningland Dairy, under the supervision of the State Milk Board, sent 14 samples of Morningland Dairy’s cheese to a St. Louis laboratory to be tested. All 14 samples tested positive for Staphylococcus Aureus and 6 of the samples tested positive for Listeria Monocytogenes. The State Milk Board on October 1 condemned all cheese products the company manufactured between January 1 and August 26 and ordered that they be destroyed. Morningland Dairy refused to destroy the condemned cheese.

“Testing in California and Missouri confirms that the cheese produced during the January 1 to August 26 timeframe is contaminated with dangerous pathogens,” Koster said. “The safety of Missouri consumers is paramount. Because this company refuses to destroy the contaminated product we are asking the court to order them to do so.”

Koster said he is asking the court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering Morningland to destroy the condemned cheese and prohibiting the company from any further violations of the Missouri Dairy Law. Koster is also asking the court to require Morningland to follow established State Milk Board regulations for the production of cheese products and to pay the costs of the court proceedings.

Link to Morningland Dairy’s Response.

Lox.jpgKOSHER FIRST LLC. 502 FLUSHING AVE. is recalling TUV TAAM SALADS NOVA LOX SALAD due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The problem was discovered after routine sampling by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors and subsequent analysis of the product by Food Laboratory personnel found the product to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Tuv Taam Salads Brand Nova Lox Salad is packed in a 17 oz. plastic container coded Sell By 12/03/2010. It was distributed to COSTCO locations in New York and New Jersey. It is a product of the USA.

Screen shot 2010-10-29 at 11.37.14 AM.pngIn a blow to Republic Underwriters and Southern Insurance Companies (and to insurers everywhere), the Federal Magistrate in Oklahoma sided with the 341 victims of the largest E. coli O111 outbreak in United States history. The court ruled that the 341 victims may share in the insurance proceeds of $4,000,000 as opposed to the $3,000,000 argued by the insurance companies. The full reasoning of the Opinion and Order can be downloaded here.  We now need to get the health insurers to waive any rights that they might have to reimbursement.

Given that the is not enough money to fairly compensate all of the victims, we have waived all fees and costs and have proceeded to prosecute the case pro bono. As readers may recall, several Months ago, the Oklahoma Department of Health released a comprehensive report that determined that the:

Source of Outbreak: Country Cottage Restaurant, Locust Grove, OK

Outbreak Organism: E. coli 0111:NM

Vehicle of Contamination: Unknown

Method of Spread: Foodborne transmission

Confirmed Outbreak Period: Aug. 15-24, 2008

Cases: 341

Hospitalizations: 70

Deaths: 1

The report detailed the agency’s extensive epidemiological investigation into the outbreak that included laboratory testing, personal interviews, and an in-depth environmental investigation. While the source of the outbreak – the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, OK, – was quickly identified, the vehicle for contamination was never found.

Laboratory analyses of specimens provided by those who became sick allowed the OSDH and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pinpoint E. coli 0111 as the bacterial organism responsible for persons’ illnesses. However, microbiological testing of food products and food preparation and serving surfaces in the restaurant, as well as testing symptomatic restaurant employees, samples from a private water well located on the property, water filters, and the Locust Grove municipal water supply, found no E. coli 0111. The OSDH released multiple situational updates during the investigation that reported no E. coli 0111 had been identified in its extensive testing process. Because the disease-causing organism was not found, the OSDH was unable to eliminate from consideration any of the potential vehicles for transmission of the bacteria into the restaurant, including well water. Even so, analysis of data collected during the investigation suggests there was ongoing foodborne transmission of E. coli O111 to restaurant customers from Aug. 15-24, 2008.

Screen shot 2010-10-28 at 4.17.52 PM.pngBoy, have I heard it from the raw milik, locavore, anti-government folks over the last few days.  I now agree with them.  Big agribusiness and small local farmers should be treated the same.  Any company with several months of Listeria problems and an inspection report like this, should be shut down.

Observation 1. Failure to manufacture and store foods under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for growth of microorganisms and contamination.

Observation 2. Failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food and food contact surfaces with microorganisms and foreign substances.

Observation 3. Employees did not wash hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing facility after each absence from the work station and at any time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated.

Observation 4. Suitable outer garments are not worn that protect against contamination of food and food packaging material.

Observation 5. Failure to take effective measures to protect against the inclusion of metal and extraneous material in food.

Observation 6. The materials and workmanship of equipment does not allow proper cleaning.

Observation 7. Failure to maintain buildings, fixtures, or other physical facilities in a sanitary condition.

Observation 8. Failure to store cleaned and sanitized portable equipment in a manner which protects food-contact surfaces from contamination.

Observation 9. Effective measures are not being taken to exclude pests from the processing areas and protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests.

Observation 10. Failure to wear hair restraints where appropriate.

Thanks to efoodalert for the FDA inspection report.

Autentico Foods, a Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., firm, is recalling approximately 54,000 pounds of ready-to-eat pork products that were not produced in accordance with its food safety plan for its Listeria prerequisite program, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Oct. 27.

listeria.jpgThe recall involves pork products that bear the establishment number “EST 31810″ inside the mark of inspection including 10-pound boxes of “Autentico Foods Corp. CHICHARRON BELLIE GRUESO FRIED PORK BELLIES THICK”; 5-ounce bags of “AUTENTICO FOODS Chicharron Delgado FRIED PORK SKINS”; 8-ounce bags of “AUTENTICO FOODS Chicharron Delgado FRIED PORK SKINS”; and 7-ounce bags of “AUTENTICO FOODS CHICHARRON CRACKLIN FRIED PORK CRACKLIN.”

The fried pork products have production dates of May 8, 2010, through September 29, 2010, appearing as “050810″ through “092910″ printed on each package. They were distributed to retail establishments in California.

The company also is recalling pickled pork skin products including 7-ounce jars of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”; 15-ounce jars of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”; 2-pound jars of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”; 5-pound jars of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”; 11-pound jars of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”; 4-pound jars of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”; and 4-ounce pouches of “AUTENTICO FOODS Cueritos En Vinagre PICKLED PORK SKINS”.

The pickled pork skin products bear lot numbers “09410X” through “23810X,” where “X” may be replaced with a numeral 1 through 5, printed on each container. They were distributed to retail establishments in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.