The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials are investigating potential exposures to Brucella strain RB51 (RB51) in 19 states, connected to consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Quarryville, Pennsylvania. One case of RB51 infection (brucellosis) has been confirmed in New York, and an unknown number of people may have been exposed to RB51 from drinking the milk from this farm. This type of Brucella is resistant to first-line drugs and can be difficult to diagnose because of limited testing options and the fact that early brucellosis symptoms are similar to those of more common illnesses like flu.­

The New York case is the third known instance of an infection with RB51 associated with consuming raw milk or raw milk products produced in the United States. The other two human cases occurred in October 2017 in New Jersey and in August 2017 in Texas. Those cases reported drinking raw milk from an online retailer and a Texas farm, respectively. In addition to these three confirmed cases, hundreds of others were potentially exposed to RB51 during these three incidents.

A New York resident, who drank raw milk purchased from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with brucellosis in November 2018.

Milk samples from Miller’s Biodiversity tested positive for RB51. A cow that tested positive for RB51 has been removed from the milking herd.

As of January 22, 2019, investigators have determined that people in 19 states have bought or consumed raw milk from the implicated farm. The states are Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Satur Farms, 3705 Alvah’s Lane, Cutchogue, NY 11935 is voluntarily recalling Baby Spinach and Mesclun with the specific lot numbers listed below because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e. aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. The following product was distributed in New York and Florida through retail stores.

Retail product is packed in plastic clamshell containers with Satur Farms brand name:

5 oz, 10 oz, 16 oz
Food service product is packed in sealed poly bags:
2-1/2 lbs, 3#, 4#, 4 x 2.5#, 4 x 3#

Spinach Lot #18494
Spinach Lot #18513
Mesclun Lot #18520

There have been no reported illnesses.

The voluntary recall is being initiated following routine sampling by Florida Department of Agriculture and New York State Department of Agriculture and markets. Consumers who have purchase Satur Farms products with these lot numbers are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Satur Farms requests all consignees (wholesalers and retailers) to hold and discontinue selling their existing stock of this product.

General Mills announced today a voluntary national recall of five-pound bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached Flour with a better if used by date of April 20, 2020.

The recall is being issued for the potential presence of Salmonella which was discovered during sampling of the five-pound bag product. This recall is being issued out of an abundance of care as General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product.

This recall only affects this one date code of Gold Medal Unbleached Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Gold Medal Flour are not affected by this recall.

Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product affected by this recall.

Guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour. Salmonella is killed by heat through baking, frying, sautéing or boiling products made with flour. All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

This voluntary recall includes the following code date currently in stores or consumers’ pantries:

Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose 5LB Flour
Package UPC 000-16000-19610-0
Recalled Better if Used by Date 20APR2020KC

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

As of January 9, 2019, 62 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 7, 2018, to December 4, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 84 years, with a median age of 25. Sixty-six percent of ill people were female. Of 54 people with information available, 25 (46%) were hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that romaine lettuce from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California was the likely source of this outbreak.Two illness clusters were identified at restaurants where ill people reported eating romaine lettuce. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event, or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill. In these two clusters, several ill people reported eating at the same restaurant or shopping at the same location of a grocery store. Investigating illness clusters provides critical clues about the source of an outbreak. If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there.

Traceback information from the FDA indicated that ill people in this outbreak ate romaine lettuce harvested from specific counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. The FDA, along with CDC and state partners, investigated farms and cooling facilities in California that were identified in traceback. CDC analyzed water and sediment samples from an Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm in Santa Barbara County, which was one of the farms identified in the traceback investigation. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was found in sediment within an agricultural water reservoir on the farm. WGS results showed that the E. coli O157:H7 found in the agricultural water reservoir was closely related genetically to the E. coli O157:H7 isolated from ill people.

WGS results also showed that the E. coli O157:H7 strain isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the E. coli strain isolated from ill people in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada. The outbreak described here is not related to a spring 2018 multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce. People in the spring outbreak were infected with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria with a different DNA fingerprint.

In Canada, as of December 24, 2018, there have been 29 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (5), Quebec (20), New Brunswick (1), and British Columbia (3). The illnesses in British Columbia were related to travel to Quebec, Ontario and the United States. Individuals became sick between mid-October and mid-November 2018. Ten individuals have been hospitalized, and two individuals suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 2 and 93 years of age. The majority of cases (52%) are female.

And, there are the real people I have spoken to in last week related to this outbreak:

  1. Husband with wife in rehabilitation after nearly two-month hospitalized in ICU with HUS.  She is still on dialysis three times a week and will be for rest of her life.
  2. Airline pilot who stopped over in Toronto and has now been hospitalized for weeks in the US with HUS.
  3. Father of Canadian child who ate romaine lettuce while on vacation in California and has been hospitalized with HUS for seven weeks in Vancouver, BC.
  4. Mom tonight who I spoke to as her daughter was undergoing a bowel resection do to E. coli O157:H7.
  5. Another mom whose daughter spent 15 days in the hospital undergoing several blood transfusions after being diagnosed with HUS.

Real people.

Grand Strand Sandwich is recalling Lunch Box Italian Subs, Lunch Box Ham & Swiss Croissants and Lunch Box Ham & Cheese Frozen Wedges due to a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, a Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

On January 3, 2019 the firm was notified by FDA that the swabs they collected from the meat slicing area on December 11, 2018 test positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Products affected are:

Product Size UPC Julian Dates
Italian Subs 7 oz package 0 67068 12222 8 35218
Ham & Swiss Croissants 5 oz package 0 67068 21217 2 34618
Ham & Cheese 4.5oz package 0 67068 12110 8 34618

The products were distributed between December 17, 2018 until January 4, 2019. These products were packaged in clear plastic and sold primarily in convenience stores and vending machines located in the States of: North Carolina and South Carolina.

R. L. Zeigler Co., Inc., a Selma, Ala. establishment, is recalling approximately 11,664 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) poultry and meat sausage products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The RTE Red Hot chicken and pork sausage items were produced on Nov. 29, 2018. The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF only)]

  • 24-oz. plastic packages containing approximately 9 links of “ZEIGLER A TRADITION OF GREAT TASTE RED HOTS” with a “Use By Jan 24 19” date.
  • 24-oz. plastic packages containing approximately 9 links of “EXTRA HOT ZEIGLER A TRADITION OF GREAT TASTE RED HOTS” with a “Use By Jan 24 19” date.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. P-9156S” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints on Dec. 13 and 27, 2018. The firm investigated to determine the nature of the complaints and notified FSIS on Dec. 29, 2018.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

Wash produce!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released two reports today on its sampling of whole fresh avocados and hot peppers to determine how frequently harmful bacteria are found in each commodity. These sampling studies are part of an ongoing effort by the FDA to help ensure food safety and prevent contaminated products from reaching consumers.

In 2014, the FDA adopted a new, proactive sampling program to learn more about how frequently common environmental pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) are in selected foods, and to help the agency identify patterns that may help reduce microbial contamination in those foods. Additional information about this program is described in an “FDA Voices” blog by Susan Mayne, the director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), and William Correll, the director of CFSAN’s Office of Compliance.

For the hot pepper sampling assignment, the FDA collected, tested and analyzed domestic and imported hot pepper samples for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and other types of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Of the 1,615 hot pepper samples tested, 46 (2.85%) were positive for Salmonella and one was positive for STEC, but further testing revealed that the STEC strain could not cause severe illness.

For the whole fresh avocado sampling assignment, the FDA collected, tested and analyzed 1,615 domestic and imported avocado samples for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Of the 1,615 samples, 12 (0.74%) tested positive for Salmonella. As to the Listeria monocytogenes testing, the agency primarily tested the pulp of the avocado samples (as the pulp is the part of the fruit people eat), and some samples of the fruit’s skin. Of the 1,254 avocado pulp samples, 3 (far less than one percent) were positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Of the 361 avocado skin samples, 64 (17.73%) were positive for Listeria monocytogenes. FoodSafety.gov advises consumers to wash all produce before cutting into it or eating.

When the FDA found positive samples of hot peppers or avocados in domestic product, the agency worked with the responsible firms to conduct recalls as indicated, and followed up with inspections of growers and packinghouses to ascertain their adherence to recommended good agricultural and manufacturing practices. When the FDA found positive samples of hot peppers or avocados in imported product, the agency refused entry to all product in lots associated with the positive(s), and placed the firms on import alert to stop additional product from entering the U.S.

For additional information on the FDA’s sampling program, and to read the whole fresh avocado and hot pepper reports, visit “Microbiological Surveillance Sampling.”

In addition to the hot pepper and avocado sampling reports, the FDA also posted a quarterly update on its ongoing sampling assignments on fresh herbs, guacamole and processed avocado.

As of October 1, 2018, the FDA has tested 683 fresh herb samples (407 domestic, 276 import) and 474 processed avocado or guacamole samples (386 domestic, 88 import) as part of its ongoing monitoring of potential pathogens associated with these products. Of the fresh herb samples, nine tested positive for Salmonella (4 domestic, 5 import); six tested positive for STEC (2 domestic, 4 import), with further characterization determining that the STEC were incapable of causing severe illness; and four tested positive for Cyclospora cayetanensis (2 domestic, 2 import). The FDA did not detect 0157 in any of the fresh herb samples it tested. Of the processed avocado or guacamole samples, 11 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes (9 domestic, 2 import). The FDA did not detect Salmonella in any of the samples of processed avocado or guacamole.

Fifty-nine people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 15 states and the District of Columbia. Since the last CDC update on December 6, an additional 7 ill people have been included in this investigation – California 12, Connecticut 1, District of Columbia 1, Florida 1, Illinois 2, Louisiana 1, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Michigan 7, New Hampshire 6, New Jersey 12, New York 7, Ohio 1, Pennsylvania 4, Rhode Island 1, Wisconsin 1.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 5, 2018 to November 16, 2018.

Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

FDA Update.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified ill people infected with the same DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in Canada. In Canada, as of December 6, 2018, there have been 27 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (4), Quebec (19), New Brunswick (1), and British Columbia (3). The illnesses in British Columbia were related to travel to Quebec, Ontario and the United States. Individuals became sick between mid-October and early November 2018. Nine individuals have been hospitalized, and two individuals suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 2 and 93 years of age. The majority of cases (52%) are male.

The FDA, along with CDC and state partners, is investigating farms and cooling facilities in California that were identified in traceback. CDC identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in sediment collected within an agricultural water reservoir on Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm, which was identified in traceback.

CDC is advising that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce harvested from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. FDA continues its investigation of farms identified in traceback.

Laboratory analysis indicates that the illnesses reported in this outbreak are genetically related to illnesses reported in a previous E. coli outbreak from December 2017 that affected consumers in both Canada and the U.S. This tells us that the same strain of E. coli is causing illness in Canada and the US as was seen in 2017 and it suggests there may be a reoccurring source of contamination. Investigators are using evidence collected in both outbreaks to help identify the possible cause of the contamination in these events.  Twenty-five people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 were reported from 15 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 5, 2017 to December 12, 2017. Nine people were hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. One death was reported from California.

In December 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) investigated an outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections in several provinces linked to romaine lettuce. In total, there were 42 cases of E. coli O157 illness reported in five eastern provinces: Ontario (8), Quebec (15), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (13). Individuals became sick in November and early December 2017. Seventeen individuals were hospitalized. One individual died. Individuals who became ill were between the ages of 3 and 85 years of age. The majority of cases (74%) were female.

HONOLULU, Hawaii – In October a preliminary settlement of $4,500,000 was reached on behalf of those exposed to Hepatitis A in correlation to Genki Sushi Restaurants. The court has extended the deadline for class members to submit a claim form to February 15, 2019. The class is represented by Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, Perkin and Faria, and Starn, O’Toole, Marcus, and Fisher, respected Hawaii firms.

Genki-Stipulation for Order to Amend Proposed Notice Plan filed 12.11.18

Genki-Order Approving Stipulation to Amend Proposed Notice Plan filed 12.11.18

Class members will be emailed and mailed a notice of settlement. Claim forms are also available at https://hawaiihepa.com or by calling 1-800-532-9250.

The class is defined as follows:

All persons who: (1) as a result of the 2016 Hepatitis A Outbreak infections linked to consuming food at thirteen Genki Sushi restaurants located on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, and Maui, were exposed to the hepatitis A virus (“HAV”) through one of three exposure-mechanisms (defined in the Exposure Subclasses), but did not become infected, and (2) as a result of such exposure, after learning of the requirement of treatment from an announcement of public health officials or a medical professional, obtained preventative medical treatment within 14 days of exposure, such as receiving immune globulin (“IG”), HAV vaccine, or blood test.

The preliminary settlement covers three subclasses:

(1) individuals who had direct contact with one of the 292 people identified by the Hawaii Department of Health as infected with the Hepatitis A virus (HAV).

(2) individuals who were exposed to HAV between August 1 and August 16 as a result of consuming food at one of the Genki Sushi restaurants implicated in the 2016 outbreak.

(3) individuals who ate at secondary restaurants reported by the Hawaiian Department of Health where infected Genki Sushi customers were employed.

Qualified claimants will be entitled to compensation as follows:

  • $350.00 for each member of Subclass 1.
  • $250.00 for each member of Subclass 2.
  • $150.00 for each member of Subclass 3.

The final hearing for approval of the class settlement is now March 6, 2019.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s food safety law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clarkhave 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 lawsuitsagainst such companies as Costco, Chi-Chi’s, Chipotle, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Townsend Farms, Tropical Smoothie, 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.

That is the Microbiological Date Program – deceased.

Hundreds sicken and hospitalized, dozens with kidney failure and 7 deaths from romaine in the last 12 months in the U.S. and Canada and the response from industry and government has been what?  Please put labels on the product so we know when the next outbreak happens that we might know where it came from.  No discussion about reviving the water rules?  No discussion about safe irrigation water? No discussion about dealing with CAFOs and Dairy in proximity to growing fresh produce?  No discussion about implementing a rational HACCP plan for fresh fruits and vegetables?

FDA and Industry and Congress all need to step up and do something.

The do nothing made me think of an editorial from Dan Flynn, my friend for nearly 41 years – and, you thought I didn’t have any.

Here is Dan Flynn’s editorial from Food Safety News from Spring 2012:

Big Fresh has the blood on its hands.

The big fruit and vegetable lobby managed to kill a little food safety program that cost this $3 trillion government a grand total of $5 million annually. Chump change.

Big Fresh meanwhile has its snout so far up the 2012 Farm Bill trough that it’s going to reap hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business for fruit and vegetable growers, thanks to the federal government’s willingness to take our money and put us further in debt.

But nothing for the little “trip wire” that was out there catching pathogens in fruits and vegetables – not even after last year’s cantaloupe-caused Listeria incident that killed more people than any other foodborne illness outbreak in a century.

Big Fresh, also known as the United Fresh Produce Association, through its paid lobbyists, gets the credit for the kill.

But as my more objective colleagues Helena Bottemiller and Gretchen Goetz have reported over the past few months, it was President Obama who zeroed out USDA’s 11-year old Microbiological Data Program in the fiscal year 2013 budget.

Back in February, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, grilled Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack over the bone-headed move.   The Secretary hemmed and hawed about the MDP being inconsistent with the mission of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Actually, that’s true. The AMS has never really been much concerned about food safety, nor is Big Fresh.

Rep. DeLauro probably would have been more effective if she’d pointed out that 7 of the 11 state laboratories involved in MDP are located in swing states and it really does not look good for the President to putting those “lab rats” out of work.

Sadly, other than the heroic stand DeLauro did make, the rest of the Congress complied.   It means the states involved will be shutting down the program in July when their laboratories get their last payment.

Speaking of payments, it will be interesting to see how much money Obama and members of Congress on the relevant committees will be collecting before this year is out from those who put fruits and vegetables on their employment line.

While putting its foot on the oxygen tube for the only program testing produce for pathogens, Big Fresh is racking up millions upon millions for fruit and vegetable growers in the 2012 Farm Bill games.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable line item alone is said to be approaching $200 million.   Big Fresh wants that money, for sure, but nothing for testing fresh produce for pathogens.

From 2002-2011, the MDP conducted tests in 42 states on 120,887 samples of fruits and vegetables, including cantaloupe, celery, green onions, hot peppers, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, bagged lettuce, parsley, peanut butter, spinach, bagged spinach, alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes.

By my calculation, these tests were completed at a cost of something north of about $200 each. Believe me, Big Fresh spilled more on the floor of their last congressional reception than that.

Leave it to Washington D.C. to kill a tiny cost-effective food safety program while being clueless about fiscal responsibility in general.

Let’s give credit to where credit is due.   Big Fresh gets credit for:

– Killing the nation’s only produce surveillance program.

– Turning Congress against the only program to collect data on the prevalence of foodborne pathogens in domestic and imported produce.

– Leaving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state health departments in the dark about the incidence of pathogens in fresh produce commodities.

Under the MDP program, positive test results were immediately reported to FDA, CDC and state health agencies.   MDP testing was responsible for 23 produce recalls during 2010 and 2011 alone, and 15 of these involved human illnesses.

Like I said, MDP testing has been a trip wire. If Big Fresh came with a brain, it would be able to figure out on its own that a system that catches problems early is best for fruit and vegetable growers.

Big Fresh, however, does not have clue.   As recently as last week, a bagged organic spinach recall for Salmonella was because an MDP lab detected the contamination.

Yes, fresh produce gets consumed pretty quickly, often before test results are known.  But that was no reason to kill MDP.  We should be going back to places where contamination has occurred and find out what’s going on.

Had there been an early test of Jensen Farms cantaloupe, maybe some government inspector -s tate or federal – might have paid a visit and said: “Hey! Isn’t that a potato washer?”

Such a discovery might have saved as many as 36 lives that poisoned cantaloupes took last growing season. That blood is not on Big Fresh’s hands. Next time, we’ll see.