Summary

In a new report, the Consumer Federation of America examines the legal and scientific foundations for USDA policy on Salmonella in raw meat and poultry. The report explains why the law authorizes federal regulators to treat Salmonella as an adulterant in raw meat and poultry, and it describes five policy options for harnessing new research and technology to protect public health.

Findings

The report shows that reforms to reduce Salmonella in raw meat and poultry are not only long overdue, but also legally and economically feasible. In particular, the report finds that:

  • Lack of enforcement has led to widespread incompliance with Salmonella standards introduced in response to recent outbreaks.
  • Progress on reducing Salmonella infections in the U.S. has stagnated for over a decade, with five large outbreaks associated with meat and poultry occurring in just the last year.
  • Many Salmonella reduction strategies with proven effectiveness, particularly on-farm, are not applied by major U.S. companies.
  • Federal regulators have refused to adopt common sense policies on the basis of legal precedent that is woefully outdated and scientifically wrong.Conclusion and Recommendations

    The report urges USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to announce an interpretiverule under which the agency will consider raw meat and poultry “adulterated” if it iscontaminated with Salmonella. The report describes the pros and cons associated with five policy options for implementing such a rule, namely:

  • A zero tolerance approach to all Salmonella
  • Prohibiting particular Salmonella serotypes associated with human illness on rawfoods
  • Prohibiting Salmonella strains associated with an ongoing outbreak
  • Prohibiting Salmonella resistant to certain medically important antibiotics

• Prohibiting high loads of Salmonella bacteria

The report explains why any of these policies would protect public health better than the status quo.

Foodborne Illness Statistics

Each year 48 million Americans are sickened, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne disease. (CDC, 2011)

Between 2009 and 2015, 35% of outbreak associated illnesses were attributable to meat and poultry products. (CDC, 2018)

The medical costs of treating Salmonella infection in the U.S. is estimated to exceed $3.7 billion each year. (USDA ERS 2014)

Timeline

1905 – Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle. Six months later, Congress passes the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

1974 – The D.C. Circuit rules in American Public Health Association v. Butz that Salmonella is not an adulterant under the FMIA or PPIA because “American housewives and cooks normally are not ignorant or stupid and their methods of preparing and cooking of food do not ordinarily resultin salmonellosis.”

1993 – E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the Pacific Northwest linked to Jack-in-the-Box causes 400 illnesses and four deaths. A year later, Administrator Michael Taylor announces that FSIS considers “raw ground beef that is contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 to be adulterated”under the FMIA.

July 25, 1996 – FSIS issues landmark Pathogen Reduction/HACCP Systems rule.

December 6, 2001 – Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in Supreme Beef Processors, Inc. v. USDA that FSIS cannot take enforcement action against meat processors on the basis of Salmonella testing results alone.

November 17, 2003 – European Commission issues Salmonella control rule that targets certain serotypes in livestock.

August 3, 2011 – Cargill Meat Solutions, Inc. recalls 36 million pounds of turkey for suspected contamination with Salmonella Heidelberg implicated in 136 illnesses and one death.

July 12, 2014 – Foster Farms recalls an “undetermined amount” of chicken products for suspected contamination with Salmonella Heidelberg implicated in 634 illnesses.

February 11, 2016 – FSIS finalizes updated standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground poultry and poultry parts.

November 23, 2018 – FSIS publishes data indicating nearly all major poultry companies are operating plants that fail to comply with the new rules.

As of November 5, 2018, 164 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading have been reported from 35 states.

Tonight Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales, LLC, a Barron, Wis. establishment, is recalling approximately 91,388 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be associated with an illness outbreak of Salmonella Reading, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The raw ground turkey products items were produced on September 11, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT” with “Use by” dates of 10/01/2018 and 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O TACO SEASONED GROUND TURKEY” with a “Use by” date of 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 85% LEAN | 15% FAT” with a “Use by” date of 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O ITALIAN SEASONED GROUND TURKEY” with a “Use by” date of 10/02/2018.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-190” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

FSIS, and its public health partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services, have been conducting traceback activities for a sample of Jennie-O brand ground turkey in an intact, unopened package from a case-patient’s home. The patient tested positive for Salmonella Reading and the sample from the ground turkey matches the outbreak strain.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

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

Most ill in – Arizona 42, California 66, Colorado 50, Texas 13 and Utah 9.

According to the CDC, as of November 15, 2018, 246 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 25 states. Arizona 42, California 66, Colorado 50, Connecticut 1, Hawaii 4, Idaho 3, Iowa 1, Illinois 1, Indiana 1, Kansas 1, Kentucky 1, Massachusetts 1, Minnesota 2, Missouri 3, Montana 8, New, Mexico 9, Nevada 3, Ohio 9, Oklahoma 4, Oregon 1, South Dakota 6, Texas 13, Utah 9, Washington 3 and Wyoming 4.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from August 5, 2018 to October 16, 2018. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 88, with a median age of 38. Fifty-six percent are male. Of 168 people with information available, 59 (35%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

Whole genome sequencing analysis did not identify predicted antibiotic resistance in 180 Salmonella bacteria isolates from 176 ill people and four food samples.

State and local health departments continue to ask ill people questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of 137 people interviewed, 123 (90%) reported eating ground beef at home. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 40% of respondents reported eating any ground beef at home in the week before they were interviewed.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that ground beef produced by JBS Tolleson, Inc. is a likely source of this outbreak.

On October 4, 2018, JBS Tolleson, Inc. recalled approximately 6.9 million pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport.

Officials in Arizona collected an unopened package of ground beef from an ill person’s home. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport was identified in the ground beef. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella identified in the ground beef was closely related genetically to the Salmonella in samples from ill people. The ground beef was one of the products recalled on October 4, 2018.

Conagra Brands is collaborating with health officials in connection with a positive finding of Salmonella in a retail sample of Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix that may be linked to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by CDC and FDA. While it has not been definitively concluded that this product is linked to the outbreak and the investigation is still ongoing, Conagra has decided to voluntarily recall the specific Duncan Hines variety identified (Classic White) and three other varieties (Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow) made during the same time period out of an abundance of caution.

Recalled Duncan Hines cake mixes

Five occurrences of illnesses due to Salmonella are being researched by CDC and FDA as part of this investigation. Salmonella is 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., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Several of the individuals reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed these products raw and not baked. Consumers are reminded not to consume any raw batter. Cake mixes and batter can be made with ingredients such as eggs or flour which can carry risks of bacteria that are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw batter products, to follow baking instructions, and to never eat raw batter.

The products covered by this recall were distributed for retail sale in the U.S. and limited international exports; the specific product information is listed below.

Sixty-three more ill people from 14 states were added to this investigation since the last update on October 4, 2018. Six more states reported ill people: Hawaii, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington.

As of October 23, 2018, 120 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 22 states.  Thirty-three people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from August 5, 2018 to September 28, 2018. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 88, with a median age of 42. Fifty-nine percent are male. Of 95 people with information available, 33 (35%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

State and local health departments continue to ask ill people questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Sixty-six (93%) of 71 people interviewed reported eating ground beef at home.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that ground beef produced by JBS Tolleson, Inc. is a likely source of this outbreak. On October 4, 2018, JBS Tolleson, Inc. recalled approximately 6.5 million pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport.

As of October 4, 2018, 57 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 16 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from August 5, 2018, to September 6, 2018. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 88, with a median age of 33. Sixty-one percent are male. Of 45 people with information available, 14 (31%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that ground beef produced by JBS Tolleson, Inc. of Tolleson, Arizona, is a likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Thirty-six (92%) of 39 people interviewed reported eating ground beef at home. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey[PDF – 787 KB] of healthy people in which 40% of respondents reported eating any ground beef at home in the week before they were interviewed.  Also, several ill people ate ground beef at the same events or purchased ground beef at the same grocery store chains. When several unrelated ill people ate at the same event or shopped at the same store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there.

USDA-FSIS and state partners traced the source of the ground beef eaten by ill people in this outbreak to JBS Tolleson, Inc. On October 4, 2018, JBS Tolleson, Inc. recalled approximately 6.5 million pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport.

I took the time to fully read FDA Warning Letter sent to Kerry, Inc., that manufactured Honey Smacks for Kellogg’s.  Here is the somewhat redacted beginning:

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) inspected your Kerry, Inc. facility, located at 320 West Gridley Road, Gridley, IL 61744-8723 from June 14 to 29, 2018. The inspection was initiated as (b)(4) in three environmental swabs taken from your (b)(4) cereal (“cereal”) production rooms during FDA’s inspection. Further, FDA’s Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis of the three isolates of (b)(4).

Here are the highlights/lowlights of the Warning Letter:

Between September 29, 2016 and May 16, 2018, you repeatedly found Salmonella throughout your facility, including in cereal production rooms. During this time period, you had 81 positive Salmonella environmental samples and 32 positive Salmonella vector samples (samples taken in response to finding a positive on routine testing), including four Salmonella (b)(4) samples in the cereal coating room (Line (b)(4)) and one Salmonella (b)(4) sample in the cereal (b)(4) room (Line (b)(4)). Further, you had repeated findings of other Salmonella species in some production lines and rooms used for the manufacture of cereal. These repeated findings of Salmonella in your environment should have resulted in a reanalysis of your food safety plan as required by 21 CFR § 117.170(b)(4) and the identification of contamination of RTE cereal with environmental pathogens as a hazard requiring a preventive control (i.e., sanitation preventive control).

So, in the coming days, as I explain to clients how a company, like Kerry, can seem to ignore 113 positive Salmonella samples and continue to manufacture and ship the Sugar Smacks. The Kerry, the FDA and Kellogg’s will need to explain this to the general public.  My clients and a part of the public is included in:

Total Salmonella Illnesses: 135
Hospitalizations: 34
Last illness onset: 8/29/2018

Today the CDC reported that it, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections.

As of September 7, 2018, 14 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from Alabama and Tennessee.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 10, 2018 to August 7, 2018 Ill people range in age from 1 year to 94, with a median age of 31. Fifty percent are female. Of 9 people with information available, 2 (22%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that shell eggs from Gravel Ridge Farms in Cullman, Alabama are a likely source of the outbreak.

On September 8, 2018, Gravel Ridge Farms recalled cage-free large eggs because they might be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria. Recalled eggs were sold in grocery stores and to restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The FDA website has a list of the grocery stores where recalled eggs were sold. Consumers who have any Gravel Ridge Farms cage-free large eggs in their homes should not eat them. Return them to the store for a refund or throw them away. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell recalled Gravel Ridge Farms cage-free large eggs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert out of an abundance of caution due to concerns about contamination with Cyclospora. The beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products were distributed by Caito Foods LLC, an Indianapolis, Ind. establishment.

The beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap items were produced between July 15 to 18, 2018, with the either “Best By,” “Enjoy by,” Best if Sold By” or “Sell By” dates ranging from July 18 through July 23, 2018. [View Label (PDF only)]

The complete list of products, product labels, the UPC code numbers and other identifying information can be found here.

The products bear establishment number “EST. 39985 or P-39985” inside or next to the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distribution centers nationwide.

The problem was discovered when Caito Foods LLC received notification from their lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that the chopped romaine that is used to manufacture some of their salads and wraps was being recalled.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators and that consumers may be at risk due to the length of the Cyclospora incubation period. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Caito Foods LLC and FSIS are working together to remove the products from commerce.

Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider. Cyclospora infection is an illness cause by the intestinal parasite, Cyclospora cayetanensis. The incubation period for Cyclospora ranges from two to 14 days, which would include the dates of July 25 through August 6, 2018. Illnesses might not have been reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. For Cyclospora infections this could take up to six weeks.

As of July 24, 2018, 77 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Adelaide were reported from nine states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from April 30, 2018, to July 2, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 97, with a median age of 67. Among ill people, 67% were female. Out of 70 people with information available, 36 (51%) were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicated that pre-cut melon supplied by the Caito Foods, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana was the likely source of this multistate outbreak.

Information collected from stores where ill people shopped indicated that Caito Foods, LLC supplied pre-cut melon to these stores. On June 8, 2018, Caito Foods, LLC recalled fresh-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons that were produced at the Caito Foods facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Pepperidge Farm has been notified by one of its ingredient suppliers that whey powder in a seasoning that is applied to four varieties of crackers has been the subject of a recall by the whey powder manufacturer due to the potential presence of Salmonella.  Pepperidge Farm initiated an investigation and, out of an abundance of caution, is voluntarily recalling four varieties of Goldfish crackers. The products were distributed throughout the United States. No illnesses have been reported. No other Pepperidge Farm products in the U.S. are subject to this recall.

The following four varieties with the indicated codes are subject to this recall:

  • Flavor Blasted® Xtra Cheddar
  • Flavor Blasted® Sour Cream & Onion
  • Goldfish® Baked with Whole Grain Xtra Cheddar
  • Goldfish® Mix Xtra Cheddar + Pretzel

As a precautionary measure, Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE: FLO) is voluntarily recalling Swiss Rolls sold under the brand names Mrs. Freshley’s, Food Lion, H-E-B, Baker’s Treat, Market Square, and Great Value, distributed nationwide, and Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, due to the potential presence of Salmonella in an ingredient, whey powder. The ingredient recall was initiated by a third-party whey powder manufacturer and supplier. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled items. See below for list of UPC #s and “best by” dates.

The recalled products are:

BRAND UPC # BEST BY / ENJOY BY DATES
Mrs. Freshley’s – 4 ct./7.2 oz. 072250011907 10/09/18 through 10/19/18 309 8187 A 75 D
309 8187 B 75 D
309 8190 C 75 D
309 8194 B 75 D
309 8194 C 75 D
Mrs. Freshley’s – 6 ct./12 oz. 072250903233 10/14/18
309 8194 B 75 D
Food Lion – 6 ct./13 oz. 035826092779 10/16/18
H-E-B – 6 ct./12 oz. 041220296583 09/19/18
Baker’s Treat – 6 ct./13 oz. 041498188382 09/21/18 through 09/28/18
Market Square – 6 ct./12 oz. 087381760556 309 8194 B
Great Value – 6 ct./13 oz. 078742147550 Sep 17 2018 Through Sep 25 2018
309 8191 B
Captain John Derst’s
Old Fashioned Bread
071316001180 07/16/18 through 7/28/18

Mondelēz Global LLC announced today a voluntary recall in the United States, including Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands, of certain Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits productThese products contain whey powder as an ingredient, which the whey powder supplier has recalled due to the potential presence of Salmonella.

This recall is limited exclusively to the products listed in the grid below, available at retail stores nationwide. No other Mondelēz Global LLC product is included in this recall.

Description Retail UPC Best When Used By Dates Package Image
RITZ BITS CHEESE
BIG BAG
3 OZ
0 44000 00677 8 07 MAR 19
Thru
13 APR 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
RITZ BITS CHEESE
1 OZ
0 44000 02025 5 07 MAR 19
Thru
13 APR 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
RITZ BITS CHEESE
12 PACK CARTON
0 44000 02032 3 08 MAR 19
thru
13 APR 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
RITZ BITS CHEESE
30 PACK CARTON
0 44000 01309 7 03 MAR 19
thru
13 APR 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
RITZ BITS CHEESE
1.5 OZ
0 44000 00929 8 03 MAR 19
thru
13 APR 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
RITZ BITS CHEESE
3 OZ GO PACKS
0 44000 03215 9 07 MAR 19
thru
12 APR 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
10.8 OZ RITZ CHEESE CRACKER SANDWICHES 0 44000 88211 2 14 JAN 19
thru
11 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
1.35 OZ RITZ CHEESE CRACKER SANDWICHES 0 44000 00211 4 14 JAN 19
thru
11 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
10.8 OZ RITZ BACON CRACKER SANDWICHES
WITH CHEESE
0 44000 04566 1 05 FEB 19
06 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
1.35 OZ RITZ BACON CRACKER SANDWICHES
WITH CHEESE
0 44000 04567 8 05 FEB 19
thru
06 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
10.8 OZ RITZ WHOLE WHEAT CRACKER
SANDWICHES WITH WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE
0 44000 04577 7 04 FEB 19
05 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
1.35 OZ RITZ WHOLE WHEAT CRACKER
SANDWICHES WITH CREAM CHEESE
0 44000 04580 7 06 FEB 19 07 FEB 19
08 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
1.35 OZ RITZ EVERYTHING CRACKER
SANDWICHES WITH CREAM CHEESE
0 44000 04580 7 06 FEB 19
07 FEB 19
08 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
MIXED COOKIE CRACKER VARIETY
20 PACK
0 44000 04100 7 01 FEB 19
thru
04 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW
MIXED COOKIE CRACKER VARIETY
40 PACK
0 44000 04221 0 31 JAN 19
thru
05 FEB 19
SEE IMAGE BELOW