News in Food Safety

Taking Salmonella seriously: Will Dr. Brashears use the tools at her disposal to protect public health?

Food Safety news - November 27, 2018 - 9:35am
Opinion

Tomorrow, the Senate will finally hold a nomination hearing for Dr. Mindy Brashears to become the highest ranking food safety official in the federal government, a post that has remained vacant for nearly five years. Dr. àBrashears’ scientific credentials are solid, but she should face some tough questions about how she will address longstanding challenges at USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

Just Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, FSIS began web-posting new data on Salmonella contamination in poultry parts — legs, breasts, and wings — and in ground turkey and chicken. The data are not encouraging. Across the industry, over a quarter of the plants processing chicken parts are failing to meet FSIS’s Salmonella performance standards. At the country’s fifth largest chicken producer, 75 percent of the plants are failing the standard. The widespread noncompliance calls into question whether the proper incentives are in place to protect consumers from Salmonella in meat and poultry.

The data released Friday adds to a mounting body of evidence that the U.S. regulatory approach to Salmonella is outdated. Some in the industry have taken the position that all raw meat and poultry is safe, even when contaminated with a Salmonella strain associated with an ongoing outbreak, so long as consumers act responsibly in the kitchen. Readers of this publication know otherwise. Virulent strains of Salmonella cause outbreaks precisely because the bacteria overcome what are otherwise “safe” handling and cooking practices.

Consumers should not have to wear a hazmat suit to prepare dinner.

That might seem hyperbolic but ask yourself, how would you handle raw chicken that you knew to be contaminated with the multi-drug resistant Salmonella Infantis strain that has resulted in 92 confirmed illnesses and 21 hospitalizations, according to CDC’s latest count? Or raw turkey contaminated with the Salmonella Reading strain that has, so far, been linked to 164 confirmed illnesses, 63 hospitalizations, and one death? Most consumers are familiar with the basics of sound food safety practices—clean, cook, separate, chill—but slip-ups are common. A recent FSIS observational study actually simulated pathogen contamination with a tracer microorganism and found that 6 percent of participants preparing a meal in a test kitchen failed to wash their hands with sufficient rigor to avoid cross-contaminating a salad after handling turkey burgers. These were people that knew they were being observed!

The upshot is that food safety education, while critical, can only go so far. Consumers deserve protection against dangerous Salmonella, particularly when it is linked to an outbreak. Yet under the current rules, companies may knowingly sell raw meat and poultry that harbors outbreak Salmonella strains. What’s worse, while FSIS has sometimes discovered through its testing that a company’s products are contaminated with an outbreak strain, it refuses to make that information public.

A better approach to Salmonella is possible.

For over a decade, Salmonella infections in the U.S. have remained more or less constant, causing more economic damage than any other foodborne pathogen — an estimated $3.7 billion each year in medical costs alone, according to USDA researchers. By contrast, the incidence of salmonellosis in European Union countries has declined dramatically during the same period, from approximately 200,000 cases reported in 2004 to less than half of that number in recent years.

The U.S. can similarly reduce foodborne illness with common sense rules that recognize the role of Salmonella as an adulterant in raw meat and poultry. A new report from my organization, Consumer Federation of America, examines five different ways that FSIS could regulate Salmonella as an adulterant. As Carl Custer wrote in Food Safety News earlier this month, such a classification is warranted for the same reasons that FSIS has treated E. coli O157: H7 as an adulterant in ground beef since 1994, namely, foods contaminated with Salmonella cause severe illness when subject to normal cooking and handling practices. Not all Salmonella contamination poses an equal threat, however, and so some divergence from the strategy to contain E. coli O157: H7 may be appropriate.

The CFA report considers the costs and benefits of federal regulators treating a meat and poultry product as “adulterated” if it is contaminated with:

1) Any Salmonella at all, the approach taken by Sweden and a small number of other Northern European countries;

2) Particular Salmonella serotypes, such as those most associated with human illness, an approach similar to that taken by the European Union;

3) Salmonella with a specific genetic profile that matches that of an ongoing outbreak, such as the Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Infantis strains causing the current outbreaks linked to turkey and chicken, respectively;

4) Salmonella resistant to certain medically important antibiotics, an approach championed by some U.S. lawmakers; or

5) High loads of Salmonella bacteria, an enumeration focus that has some support among the industry.

The U.S. may not transition anytime soon to a full out blanket prohibition of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry, à la Sweden, but policymakers should explore the available options, and weigh the costs of industry compliance against the expected public health benefits. CFA’s report is meant to facilitate that discussion.

In the meantime, FSIS can make a significant contribution to public health by simply sharing the results of its regulatory testing data. Thus far, the agency has offered only incendiary rhetoric in response to calls for increased transparency. Hopefully, Dr. Brashears will offer consumers more assurance in her testimony tomorrow. (WC 886)

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Categories: News in Food Safety

PCT Rodent Control Virtual Conference is Tomorrow

Quality Assurance Mag - November 27, 2018 - 5:00am
Rodent control is one of the pest management industry’s most dynamic and profitable vertical market segments. In fact, service revenue from controlling rats and mice in commercial and residential accounts increased 6.4 percent in 2017 to $860 million, according to Specialty Consultants, a research firm with almost two decades of experience covering the pest control industry.

There is also a significant amount of innovation occurring in the rodent control marketplace, including new and improved rodenticide formulations; the introduction of IoT-based rodent monitoring systems; and the latest advancements in trapping technology.

For those interested in learning how to better manage complex rodent infestations in urban and rural settings, consider attending PCT’s fifth annual Rodent Control Virtual Conference, scheduled for Nov. 28, from 1 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (register for the event).

Platinum sponsors include ActiveSenseBASF, Bell Laboratories and Global Material Technologies. Gold sponsors include Senestech and Syngenta.

Here’s a look at speakers and topics for this year’s event.

1:00-1:10 p.m.
Business Opportunities in Rodent Control
Dan Moreland, Publisher, PCT Media Group

1:10-1:20 p.m.
Sponsor Presentation

1:20-2:20 p.m.
Rodent Control in Urban Environments
Dr. Bobby Corrigan, President, RMC Pest Management Consulting

2:20-2:30
Sponsor Presentation

2:30-3:20 p.m.
Rodent Inspections in Commercial Accounts
Bill Kolbe, President, WA Kolbe Consulting

3:20-3:30 p.m.
Sponsor Presentation

3:30-4:20 p.m.
Rodent Control in Food Processing, Warehouse & Distribution Facilities
Al St. Cyr, President, ASC Consulting

4:20-4:30 p.m.
Sponsor Presentation

4:30-5:20 p.m.
A Guide to the Identification, Behavior & Control of Roof Rats
Timmy Madere, Pest Control Specialist, New Orleans Mosquito, Rodent and Termite Control Board

5:20-5:30 p.m.
Sponsor Presentation

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Climate Change Expected to Increasingly Disrupt and Challenge the Food Chain

Quality Assurance Mag - November 27, 2018 - 4:00am
The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) deliver a report to Congress and the President no less than every four years that 1) integrates, evaluates, and interprets the findings of the program; 2) analyzes the effects of global change; and 3) analyzes current human-induced and natural trends in global change and projects major trends for the next 25 to 100 years.

Following is a summary of key points of The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) which draws on foundational science from the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) which, together, fulfill that mandate. The assessment was written to provide a thorough examination of the effects of climate change on the United States.

Most applicable to QA readers is section #9. Agriculture:

Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.

Climate change presents numerous challenges to sustaining and enhancing crop productivity, livestock health, and the economic vitality of rural communities. While some regions (such as the Northern Great Plains) may see conditions conducive to expanded or alternative crop productivity over the next few decades, overall, yields from major U.S. crops are expected to decline as a consequence of increases in temperatures and possibly changes in water availability, soil erosion, and disease and pest outbreaks. Increases in temperatures during the growing season in the Midwest are projected to be the largest contributing factor to declines in the productivity of U.S. agriculture. Projected increases in extreme heat conditions are expected to lead to further heat stress for livestock, which can result in large economic losses for producers. Climate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world, with corresponding impacts on U.S. agricultural producers and the U.S. economy. These changes threaten future gains in commodity crop production and put rural livelihoods at risk. Numerous adaptation strategies are available to cope with adverse impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural production. These include altering what is produced, modifying the inputs used for production, adopting new technologies, and adjusting management strategies. However, these strategies have limits under severe climate change impacts and would require sufficient long- and short-term investment in changing practices.

The other 11 summary findings of the report are:

  1. Communities. Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.
  2. Economy. Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.
  3. Interconnected Impacts. Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.
  4. Actions to Reduce Risks. Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.
  5. Water. The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
  6. Health. Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable. Additionally, Rising air and water temperatures and more intense extreme events are expected to increase exposure to waterborne and foodborne diseases, affecting food and water safety.
  7. Indigenous Peoples. Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.
  8. Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services. Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.
  9. Agriculture. (See above.)
  10. Infrastructure. Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
  11. Oceans and Coasts. Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.
  12. Tourism and Recreation. Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

 

For the full report, visit https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

3-state recruitment drive underway for USDA meat and poultry inspectors

Food Safety news - November 26, 2018 - 9:03pm

Federal job recruiters are in cattle country this week and next looking for prospective food safety inspectors in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) currently employs 7,500 meat and poultry inspectors.

The agency’s challenge is keeping those ranks filled while continuing inspections at all the establishments it regulates, no matter how scattered or remote the location. The areas where they are recruiting this week and next report unemployment in the “twos” with more jobs than applicants.

According to USA Jobs, a new FSIS food inspector for slaughter would be offered a starting salary of $33,394 to $53,773, which represents a federal government pay scale and grade of GS 05-07. New hires could expect a full-time work schedule and a permanent appointment.

Such entry-level jobs are open to anyone, meaning U.S. citizens, nationals or those who “owe allegiance to the U.S.” FSIS is also currently working to fill “consumer safety inspector” jobs around the country, but those are open only to current FSIS employees or displaced federal employees from other agencies.

A consumer safety position pay scale is GS 09-10, paying $55,720 to $72,437. It is also permanent, full-time, and might even pay relocation expenses.

The FSIS recruitment drive now underway in the three states is important enough that Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and Paul Kiecker, acting FSIS administrator, have both cut radio actualities to promote it.

FSIS job recruiters will spend three days at each stop.

Nov. 27-29/KANSAS
9 am – 4 pm
Kansas Dept. for Children and Families
1500 Avenue P
Dodge City, KS

Nov. 29-Dec. 1/COLORADO
11:30 am -5:30 pm
Lincoln Park Library
1012 11th St.
Greeley, CO

Dec. 6-8/NEBRASKA
11 am -4 pm, Dec. 6
10 am -4:30, Dec. 7-8
Kearney Public Library
2020 1st Ave.
Kearney, NE

Federal recruiters will be on hand at each recruiting site to help potential candidates apply by offering assistance with the USAJOBS application system.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Categories: News in Food Safety

Israeli officials find source of deadly Listeria outbreak

Food Safety news - November 26, 2018 - 9:01pm

The Ministry of Health in Israel believes it has pinpointed the source of a Listeria outbreak in the country, naming meat products as the cause.

More than 30 cases have been reported to the agency and at least one death is linked to the outbreak, which has mostly affected the southern region among the Bedouin community. The Ministry of Health warned it was a major spread of the disease in terms of the number of cases and geographical scope.

An epidemiological investigation involved the Health Bureaus of the Jerusalem and Southern Districts and the Ministry of Health National Food Services. The agency said products are manufactured by Almadain Food Products (Madco) Ltd. in Jerusalem.

In food sampling by the Southern District National Food Services, Listeria monocytogenes was found in “Jerusalem Deli Pastrami” and “Jerusalem deli smoked salami” sold in 200 and 400 grams packages from Almadain Food Products (Madco). The manufacturing date of the items is Oct. 8, 2018. The expiration date is Jan. 7, 2019.

Earlier this month, “Jerusalem Deli Pastrami” was recalled after sampling by the Food Service in the South district.

The Ministry of Health is currently trying to prevent marketing of Listeria contaminated products. The agency stressed the dangers of consuming recalled products and the importance of following this advice to prevent listeriosis among the populations at risk.

Almadain Food Products (Madco) said it had stopped production of these products until preventive and remedial measures are taken. The company withdrew the items and asked customers not to consume the products and return them to the business.

Listeriosis is the illness caused by having food contaminated with the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, muscle aches, and nausea. The incubation period is typically between two and three weeks but can be up to 70 days.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Categories: News in Food Safety

E. coli O157 study could explain higher human infection rates in Scotland

Food Safety news - November 26, 2018 - 9:00pm

Cattle in Scotland have a higher level of a certain subtype of E. coli O157 which causes more severe human infections, according to a report.

Scientists found that Scottish cattle have more E. coli O157 phage type (PT) 21/28, which is associated with super-shedding in cattle. Super-shedding is the passing of large volumes of the bacteria in feces. The report suggests local exposure to that particular subtype could be a factor for the rates of human infection in Scotland being about three times higher than in England and Wales.

From 1998 to 2012, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) reported a mean of 224 (205-243) culture positive cases of E. coli O157 annually. Of the 200-plus cases per year in Scotland, more than 40 percent required hospitalization and almost 10 percent developed severe renal complications.

E. coli O157 rates per 100,000 population in UK 2008-2017. Click to enlarge

Findings come from a four year research project involving Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Research shows the overall prevalence of E. coli O157 in cattle is similar across Great Britain and has remained relatively consistent in Scotland for the last decade.

The consortium included the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Moredun Research Institute, Scotland’s Rural College, University of Glasgow, Public Health England, the Scottish E. coli O157/STEC Reference Laboratory (SERL), HPS and NHS Lothian.

Researchers used Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to tell which subtypes of E. coli caused an outbreak. For example, data from WGS helped to understand whether a human infection is likely down to local farm animals or by a strain present in imported food or after travel abroad. The team also combined WGS data with machine learning to predict which subtypes of E. coli O157 pose the greatest threat to human health.

Jacqui McElhiney, FSS’s head of food protection science and surveillance, said the report has produced new findings that will contribute to reducing the risks of E. coli.

“Scotland has historically had the highest levels of E. coli O157 infection in the UK and, despite our best efforts, the number of people affected has remained stubbornly stable. This research has shed some light on the possible reasons for this, and it’s really encouraging to see the progress that has been made in developing a potential vaccine for controlling it,” she said.

Surveys of the prevalence of E. coli O157 in fecal pats across 110 farms in Scotland and 160 in England and Wales were completed between Sept. 2014 and Nov. 2015. It was detected in at least one sample from 26 of the Scottish farms and from 34 of the farms in England and Wales.

In Scotland, PT21/28 was the dominant PT in cattle and 65 percent of positive farms (17 of 26) had cattle shedding it. For England and Wales PT21/28 was only found on three farms in the North East, Wales and West Midlands. The diversity of O157 PTs was much higher in cattle in England and Wales compared with Scotland.

In Scotland, season and some management/demographic characteristics were associated with farm O157 status, including moving breeding females onto the farm and purchase of livestock other than cattle in the year prior to sampling.

Researchers established that Shiga toxin (Stx) subtype 2a is important for transmission of E. coli O157 between cattle as it enabled bystander animals in a group to become colonized following introduction of an animal excreting the pathogen.

Different animal-targeted interventions to reduce excretion of E. coli O157 from cattle have been investigated including drinking water treatments, dietary, probiotics or feed additives, farm biosecurity, use of bacteriophages and vaccines. A systematic review found probiotics and vaccines (neither of which are commercially available in any country) were the most promising interventions.

Researchers also trialled a vaccine, developed to limit E. coli O157 excretion from and transmission between cattle. Results indicated it may be effective in reducing human exposure and infection. However, before a vaccine can be made available, further work is needed to assess if it is practical and works in field situations.

Modelling by Glasgow University found the vaccine would be an effective public health intervention. Attempts are underway for funding to support a feedlot trial of the vaccine formulation in the U.S.

Professor David Gally, from the Roslin Institute, said the study helped to understand how common E. coli O157 is across farms in Great Britain.

“We have found that what makes the strains toxic in humans also facilitates their colonisation of cattle. We have made advances in development of a vaccine for use in cattle that now needs assessment in large scale field trials. Modelling indicates that such an intervention would have significant public health benefit,” he said.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Categories: News in Food Safety

Romaine expected in stores soon; new labels with date, field information coming

Food Safety news - November 26, 2018 - 3:46pm

UPDATED 12:28 a.m. EDT Nov. 27 — Government and industry officials say new labels for romaine lettuce will help keep the public safe during events such as the current E. coli outbreak. But, most entities in the supply chain are not involved in the initiative and not all forms of romaine will carry the voluntary labels for consumers.

Growers are working on their new labels now and will begin shipping romaine as soon as they start using them, according to announcements Nov. 26 from produce industry groups and the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA announcement also reported the agency has determined the current outbreak is linked to romaine only from specific areas of California.

A week ago, both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against all romaine in all forms from all growing regions. That warning is now narrowed to romaine only from “the Central Coast growing regions of central and northern California.”  

“Growing and harvesting of romaine lettuce is now shifting to the winter growing regions of the U.S., which include mainly the California desert region of the Imperial Valley, the desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma, and Florida,” according to a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Gottlieb said the public should continue to exercise extreme caution when it comes to romaine lettuce because of the ongoing outbreak. That advice is repeated in the revised public warning.

“Based on discussions with major producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date,” according to the FDA. “Romaine lettuce entering the market can also be labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse grown.

“If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.

“If consumers, retailers, and food service facilities are unable to identify that romaine lettuce products are not affected — which means determining that the products were grown outside the California regions that appear to be implicated in the current outbreak investigation — we urge that these products not be purchased, or if purchased, be discarded or returned to the place of purchase.”

Although some romaine is grown in Mexico and exported to the U.S. during the winter months, it is not implicated in the current outbreak, according to the FDA. Similarly, hydroponic romaine lettuce and romaine grown in greenhouses are also marketed in the U.S., but there is no information to suggest they are implicated in the three E. coli O157: H7 outbreaks identified since November 2017. 

Click on the map to view a larger version.

New outbreak numbers
The patient count in the current outbreak, which involves cases in the United States and Canada, is increasing. The CDC reports 43 U.S. residents across a dozen states have been confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7. Canadian officials say 22 people in their country are sick from the same strain. No deaths have been confirmed in either country. 

In the United States, the outbreak reaches from coast to coast, with California hardest hit at 11 confirmed patients. New Jersey has the second most cases, reporting nine confirmed victims.

The E. coli O157: H7 isolated from patients in the current outbreak is the same strain that hit the U.S. and Canada a year ago. The late 2017 outbreak was linked to romaine and leafy greens. However, public health officials say it isn’t the same as the strain that sickened hundreds and killed five people earlier this year.

An overwhelming number of people in the current outbreak who have been interviewed so far by U.S. public health officials reported eating romaine lettuce in the days before becoming ill. The CDC’s update posted Nov. 26 said 88 percent of the people for whom the information was available said they ate romaine lettuce before their symptoms began.

The outbreak strain is also proving particularly dangerous, based on the hospitalization rate. Of the patients for whom the information is available, 42 percent have been admitted to hospitals. One person in the United States has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a potentially deadly form of kidney failure. The U.S. victims range in age from 1 to 84 years old.

Illnesses in the United States began on Oct. 8, with the most recent onset date reported as of Oct. 31. However, it can take several weeks for the CDC to receive reports of confirmed cases because of the time required for laboratory tests and the notification process. Consequently, illnesses that began before Oct. 31 may not yet be included in the CDC’s count.

Voluntary labeling plan
A number of produce industry groups have been working with government officials to develop labels to make traceback investigations easier and faster. The United Fresh Produce Association in Washington, D.C., sent an alert to members Nov. 26 with details about the new labeling plan, as did the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.

“The revised consumer advisory is welcome news for Florida growers,” Lisa Lochridge, director of public affairs for the Florida Association, told Food Safety News. “We are working with our state department of agriculture on the new labels.

“We began harvest around Nov. 8, so it’s clear that Florida romaine couldn’t have been part of this outbreak.”

Lochridge said there are about 4,500 acres of romaine in Southern Florida. That’s a small fraction of the acreage in California and Arizona, but it’s still a $95 million industry on an annual basis.

Jennifer McEntire, United Fresh vice president of food safety and technology, agreed that the FDA’s revised public warning is good news for the industry.

“Romaine that will soon be available in grocery stores and restaurants could not have been related to the outbreak. This labeling will give consumers assurance that they can purchase romaine again,” McEntire said in a statement issued immediately after the FDA announcement.

United Fresh created a question-answer document about the process and purpose of developing the new traceability labels. (Click here to read the entire document.)

Scott Horsfall, executive director for the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) organization, said West Coast growers are pleased that the romaine market will be open again. 

“This episode drives home how important traceability labeling is,” Horsfall told Food Safety News. “The information has always been captured for traceback, but it wasn’t part of the consumer-facing package.”

Government asked for, and industry agreed to, a voluntary market withdrawal and a shipping moratorium for all romaine on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. In his statement Nov. 26, Commissioner Gottlieb said the action was necessary to protect the public. 

Scott Gottlieb

“The FDA believes it was critically important to have a ‘clean break’ in the romaine supply available to consumers in the U.S. in order to purge the market of potentially contaminated romaine lettuce related to the current outbreak. This appears to have been accomplished through the market withdrawal request of Nov. 20,” Gottlieb said.

The LGMA in California and its sister LGMA in Arizona already require grower members to be able to trace their products back to the specific field where they were grown, but those traceability details stop at the edge of the field. Processors, packers, shippers, distributors, retailers, and restaurants have not been part of the LGMA traceability efforts. Neither are those supply chain entities involved in the voluntary labeling plan announced Nov. 26.

Produce group representatives say the voluntary “origin/harvest date” labels on “bagged” romaine products should be on the consumer-level packaging in a prominent place and presented in a form that consumers will understand. The recommended form is: “Romaine grown in (source) and harvested after (date).” 

However, if consumers are not buying bagged salad products, but rather opting for whole head or hearts of romaine, they probably won’t be seeing traceback information. So-called “commodity products” are most often packed in boxes without individual packaging. For commodity romaine, the traceback labels are expected to be used at the carton level.

“For the time being, retailers may elect to provide signage to consumers regarding the growing region origin of commodity romaine — as indicated on cases containing romaine — following the way that country of origin labeling is communicated,” according to the Q&A document posted by United Fresh. “As this new approach is taken, we will continue to optimize recommendations to improve clarity and feasibility. 

“Foodservice operations (including restaurants) should expect to field consumer questions regarding the source of romaine lettuce.”

United Fresh staff has been working with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), and regional groups on the labeling initiative. Those other groups include Western Growers, California LGMA, Arizona LGMA, Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, and Yuma Safe Produce Council.

The new labeling practices for growers are expected to be used from now and going forward, according to the FDA and produce groups. Gottlieb said he expects providing consumers with the traceability information will become standard practice.

“In addition, the leafy greens industry has agreed to establish a task force to find solutions for long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens for helping to identify products and to put in place standards for traceability of product,” Gottlieb said.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Categories: News in Food Safety

Social Media Spread of Romaine Lettuce Ban Gets the Word Out

Quality Assurance Mag - November 26, 2018 - 7:15am
CDC’s pre-holiday advice to “not to eat, serve, or sell any romaine lettuce” went viral in social media over the holiday weekend. Although many of the posts were less than “politically correct,” they served to get the message across to a vast range of consumers who would likely not have otherwise known of the ban.

First posted on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, CDC announced that it and public health and regulatory officials in several states, Canada, and the FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce. CDC advised that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. The investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.

As stated in the FDA announcement, genetic analysis of the E. coli O157:H7 strains tested to date from patients in this current outbreak are similar to strains of E. coli O157:H7 associated with athe previous outbreak from the Fall of 2017 that also affected consumers in both Canada and the U.S. The 2017 outbreak was associated with leafy greens in the U.S. and romaine in Canada. This year, romaine lettuce is the suspected vehicle for both the U.S. and Canadian outbreaks. However, there is no genetic link between the current outbreak and the E.coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine that occurred in the Spring of 2018.

FDA is conducting a traceback investigation to determine the source of the romaine lettuce eaten by people who became sick. Additionally, FDA and states are conducting laboratory analysis of romaine lettuce samples potentially linked to the current outbreak.

Response from retailers and restaurants has been “impressive,” said Michael Droke, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. "The scope and type of warning led to a very rapid response. Large retailers pulled raw romaine lettuce from the shelves almost immediately. Products containing raw romaine were identified within about one hour, and also removed. Even small resellers (such as airport sandwich shops) removed romaine-related products within the day. Many companies with products containing lettuce added notice or stickers stating that the product ‘does not contain romaine’ in order to retain customers.”

However, according to CDC, 32 illnesses have been reported from 11 states, including 13 people who have been hospitalized. One person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018.

In addition to the advice to not eat any romaine, CDC advises consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home to not eat it and throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. This includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

“The timing and type of warning in this incident demonstrated the importance of food safety and the speed at which the industry responds," Droke said. 

 

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Faces of Food Safety: Meet Gregory McDermott of FSIS

Food Safety news - November 25, 2018 - 9:05pm
Contributed

Editor’s note: This is a recent installment in a series of employee profiles published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, republished here with permission.

Dr. Gregory McDermott protects the public’s health here in America and in Afghanistan. He completes this task by wearing two hats — one as a supervisory public health veterinarian (SPHV) in the Philadelphia district and the other as a Lieutenant Colonel and brigade veterinarian in the U.S. Army Reserve.

McDermott knows he plays a crucial role as an FSIS veterinarian in keeping people safe, as he is the deciding factor in whether or not animals are slaughtered or if processed products make it into commerce.

He says, “It would surprise people if they knew what field employees do to keep food safe. Most consumers don’t know the physical or pathological condition of animals that enter the slaughter plants, or about the pathogens that can make them sick. FSIS ensures food is safe to consume on a daily basis.” He can say this with certainty because he puts a great deal of trust in his team of consumer safety officers and food inspectors to do their job well.

Gregory McDermott

Personifying FSIS’ core values
McDermott says he empowers his team to perform an exceptional job by ensuring they receive the necessary training and tools to make and carry out informed decisions that protect the public’s health and to promote food safety. He also strongly believes in the core value of collaboration. He carries this out by proactively seeking his team’s opinions on a host of topics and promotes and encourages them to share information with each other and establishment personnel. McDermott achieves this using a tactic he learned in the military.

“I keep my inspectors actively involved in daily work-related conversations with the three C’s — command, control and communication,” McDermott said. “I make these conversations learning and teaching moments. I learn from them and they learn from me. I make it a point to let their points of view be heard, because it’s an integral part in the decision-making process. It also builds on their communication skills and information cache. Sharing their experiences allows everyone to understand what’s going on in other plants outside of their patrol, which they could one day find themselves covering. More importantly, it builds trust and eliminates the possibility of anyone being blindsided by something they would have otherwise not been aware of.”

The road to FSIS
In 1986, McDermott graduated from Delaware Valley College, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Two years later, McDermott completed Infantry training. He was first in his class and was recognized as the Company Honor Graduate. A year later, McDermott was selected for Officer Candidate School and eventually became an officer in the Marine Corps.

After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, McDermott returned to school. In 1996, he obtained a Master of Science degree in Large Animal Reproduction and Physiology from Pennsylvania State University. McDermott headed overseas to England, and in 2001, he obtained a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Royal Veterinary College of London. Returning to

the States, McDermott completed an internship in large animal surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in 2002. Upon completion of his veterinary medical education, McDermott worked as an equine and small animal practitioner for 11 years.

Food safety and the military
In 2008, McDermott donned a military uniform once more and became a veterinary corps officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. He says that he wanted to continue serving his country as a veterinarian. And, he does just that.

“I was stationed in Afghanistan as an Army Special Forces veterinarian where I met with village elders to discuss my mission of educating Afghan farmers on the latest agricultural processes.I provided veterinary medical assistance for their livestock, such as wormers, anti-parasitic drugs and feed supplements. At times, I also discussed and provided equine dental care,” McDermott said. “The work can be dangerous, but it’s very rewarding to me and I know it’s valuable to the people of that country, and who knows, maybe it’ll have a positive impact on U.S.-Afghanistan relations.”

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Researchers find possible antidote for paralysis in botulism cases

Food Safety news - November 25, 2018 - 9:03pm

A compound that strongly inhibits botulinum neurotoxin has been identified by researchers.

The compound – called nitrophenyl psoralen (NPP) – could be used as a treatment to reduce paralysis induced by botulism.

There is no FDA-approved antidote for botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT). Psoralen derived drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which would likely hasten the drug approval process for NPP, according to the scientists.

Their study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology, found there have been monoclonal antibodies targeting circulating botulinum neurotoxins in clinical trials but effectiveness was restricted by a narrow window for treatment.

Researchers identified the enzyme in botulinum neurotoxin that damages neurons, causing paralysis. They then screened a library of more than 300 natural compounds from extracts of Indian medicinal plants for enzymes that could neutralize the neuron-damaging activity.

“Using high throughput screening, we identified one of the compounds, nitrophenyl psoralen, as having particularly strong activity against the neuron-damaging enzyme,” said corresponding author Bal Ram Singh, Professor and Director at the Botulinum Research Center, Institute of Advanced Sciences in Dartmouth, MA.

Although fewer than 200 botulism cases are reported worldwide each year, they cost more to treat than all the Salmonella outbreaks that occur, making botulism the most expensive form of food poisoning, added Dr. Singh.

Four infants in Texas recently developed botulism poisoning after being given pacifiers containing or dipped in honey. The children, all less than a year old, had to be admitted to hospitals for life-saving treatment.

Current therapy for botulism involves respiratory supportive care and administration of antitoxin.

The team tested NPP’s activity in vitro and in cell culture against botulinum neurotoxin type A, which is the most potent among the seven serotypes of botulinum toxin. NPP type A had powerful anti-botulinum toxin activity with low toxicity to human cells.

Financial support for the study was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense and Maryada Foundation.

Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium that produces botulinum toxins under low-oxygen conditions. Spores produced by Clostridium botulinum are heat-resistant and in the absence of oxygen they germinate, grow and then excrete toxins. These toxins are one of the most lethal substances known and can block nerve functions and lead to respiratory and muscular paralysis, according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms are not caused by the bacterium but by the toxin it produces. They usually appear within 12 to 36 hours after exposure. The disease can be fatal in 5 to 10 percent of cases.

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FSA reports low levels of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in UK’s retail meat

Food Safety news - November 25, 2018 - 9:01pm

Levels of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) E. coli in raw UK retail pork and beef remain low, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Findings come from a survey on behalf of the European Commission to assess the frequency of certain types of AMR E. coli in raw UK meat.

One beef sample was contaminated with an E. coli containing the mcr-1 gene which can make bacteria resistant to colistin, which remains one of the antibiotics of last resort for people with multi-resistant infections caused by certain species of bacteria.

Paul Cook, FSA’s head of microbiological risk assessment, said it was thought to be the first discovery of a mcr-1 positive E. coli from retail beef in the UK.

“Although the meat came from outside the UK, further testing indicated no contamination with this E. coli on other samples and at this stage we have not been able to pinpoint the source of the contamination. However, a risk assessment has been carried out and we want to make it clear that the risk to public health is very low,” he said.

The survey between January and December 2017 saw 314 beef and 310 pork samples purchased from retail in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Analysis requires initial isolation and enrichment of E. coli from all meat samples, prior to testing for AMR E. coli such as Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamases (ESBLs), AmpC and Carbapenemase-producing.

Results showed less than 1 percent of retail beef and pork samples were positive for AmpC or ESBL-producing E. coli. Only three of the 624 samples tested yielded E. coli colonies on MacConkey agar + 1mg/L cefotaxime (MCA-CTX) – two beef and one pork. None of them were positive on carbapenem agar.

Two of the isolates from MCA-CTX, one beef and one pork, had an AmpC phenotype, whilst another beef isolate had an ESBL phenotype.

No samples gave rise to viable counts of E. coli above the detection limit of 40 bacteria per gram of meat on the two selective agars used indicating numbers of resistant bacteria in the samples were low.

Data is submitted annually to the European Commission and reported in the EU Summary Report on Antimicrobial Resistance but the retailers and product brands are not identified. The findings have been collected as part of an EU-wide seven-year surveillance study. Pork and beef were last tested in 2015 while poultry was examined in 2016.

None of the isolates were resistant to the last resort carbapenem antibiotics imipenem, ertapenem and meropenem. All isolates were resistant to the beta-lactam antibiotic ampicillin and the ESBL isolate was resistant to the cephalosporin antibiotics cefotaxime and ceftazidime but sensitive to cefoxitin. However, the two AmpC isolates were resistant to cefoxitin.

Cook said tackling AMR is a priority for the FSA and UK Government.

“This survey allows us to monitor certain AMR E. coli trends over time, but also compares the UK situation with that of other EU Member States. In the recently published 2015 EU report, the UK compared favorably to results from other European countries,” he said.

Presumptive AmpC phenotype E. coli in beef in 2015 ranged from zero in Switzerland to 11.5 percent in Bulgaria (1 percent UK), whilst ESBL phenotype E. coli in beef varied from zero in Switzerland  to 17.3 percent in Bulgaria (1 percent UK).

For pork, presumptive AmpC phenotype E. coli in 2015 ranged from zero in Switzerland to 6.6 percent in Czech Republic, with the UK at 0.4; ESBL phenotype E. coli in pork varied from 0.3 percent in Sweden to 20.8 percent in Bulgaria, with the UK at 2.1 percent UK.

The FSA said the risk of acquiring AMR related infections through handling and eating contaminated meat is very low if good hygiene and cooking practices are followed. It advises cooking, chilling, cleaning and avoiding cross-contamination when handling raw meat will help minimize risk and spread.

National Pig Association (NPA) senior policy advisor, Georgina Crayford, said regular monitoring of AMR bacteria in pork products enables trends to be tracked and helps better understand the risk to consumers.

“These results highlight that the prevalence of E. coli with resistance to the highest-priority critically important antibiotics on pork remains low, which is reassuring. Antibiotic use in the pig sector reduced by more than half between 2015 and 2017, which highlights the commitment of the pork supply chain to address AMR,” she said.

NPA is the representative trade association for British commercial pig producers and is allied to the National Farmers Union.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) welcomed the low level findings.

The group said UK surveillance has found the number and levels of antibiotic-resistant isolates is not increasing despite complexity in the relationship between antibiotic use and the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

American Statistical Association wants Congress to demand details on USDA plan for research service

Food Safety news - November 24, 2018 - 9:05pm
Opinion

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s reorganization plan, which would relocate a key agricultural research agency outside Washington, DC, has drawn increasing criticism from those who know and depend on its economic and statistical analyses. First announced during Congress’s summer recess in August, the reorganization plan for the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has been closed off to congressional input and public comment — in stark contrast to other recent federal agency reorganization plans.

Despite the USDA’s claim that it has conducted an internal cost-benefit analysis showing numerous benefits, the agency has failed to share these findings with those who rely on ERS research — notably agricultural economists, policymakers and farmers. At the same time, many organizations and former USDA officials have warned that, instead of delivering benefits, the USDA plan jeopardizes the quality of the ERS’s work to the likely detriment of the food, agriculture and rural economies.

Lacking access to USDA’s analysis, the American Statistical Association researched and compiled responses to the agency’s publicly stated rationale for the reorganization. The USDA’s three main reasons for the relocation are: (i) “to improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff”; (ii) “to place these important USDA resources closer to many of its stakeholders”; and (iii) “to benefit the American taxpayers.” A second shift—an organizational restructuring that would see the ERS move into the office of the chief economist—will “enhance the effectiveness of economic analysis at USDA,” the agency says.

But experts on USDA and federal statistical agencies say the move will most likely undermine ERS’s high-quality and important work for three main reasons. First, there will be substantial loss of experience and expertise from the many staff unable or unwilling to relocate. Second, by removing the bulk of ERS staff from the nation’s capital, the ERS will be less connected to the national discussion on agriculture. Many agriculture and food organizations are based in DC because of the proximity to policymakers and other agencies and expert groups. Finally, by moving ERS from the research arm of USDA to a policy-supporting arm in the secretary’s office, its reputation as a policy-neutral agency is threatened.

The USDA’s case for moving and realigning the Economic Research Service fails to justify the uprooting and disruption of such an important, effective and well-run agency,” said ASA President Lisa LaVange.

“It’s hard to look at USDA’s rationale and not ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’ ” said ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein. “The American public deserves a better understanding of the alleged problems being addressed and the ramifications of the ‘fix.’ As the number three-ranked agricultural economics institution in the world, the Economic Research Service clearly ain’t broke.”

“For the sake of good government and transparency,” said LaVange, “Congress should put a stop to USDA’s plans until we know more. Federal statistical agencies are the bedrock of U.S. data infrastructure and evidence-based policymaking in the public and private sectors. With their unique and vital role of information decision-making so broad, Congress and the administration should be strengthening these agencies.”

As an indication of the gravity of the situation, the former chief statistician of the United States who held the position for 24 years, Katherine Wallman, has called USDA’s proposals for ERS “the biggest threat to a federal statistical agency in many years.”

ASA’s document is titled “Addressing the USDA’s Rationale for Relocating and Realigning the Economic Research Service.”

About the American Statistical Association: The ASA is the world’s largest community of statisticians and the oldest continuously operating professional science society in the United States. Its members serve in industry, government and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare. For additional information, please visit the ASA website at www.amstat.org.

As part of the ASA’s commitment to support the importance of government statistics for evidence-based policymaking, it created Count on Stats. In partnership with more than a dozen organizations, the initiative is designed to educate and inform the public about the critically important nature of federal data. Without federal agencies’ data collection and analysis, we would not have key insights into nutrition, economic trends, community issues, public safety, agriculture and countless other facets that are vital to our society. For additional information, please visit the Count on Stats website at www.countonstats.org.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Publisher’s Platform: How does this “Romaine” acceptable? 339 with E. coli, 159 Hospitalized, 31 with Kidney Failure and 7 Deaths

Food Safety news - November 24, 2018 - 11:16am
Opinion

2017 and 2018 Romaine E. coli Outbreaks in the United States and Canada

Total Sick – 339

Hospitalized – 159

Kidney Failure – 31

Deaths – 7

In 2017 in Canada, a total, of 42 cases of E. coli O157 illness were reported in five eastern provinces: Ontario (8), Quebec (15), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), Newfoundland and Labrador (13). 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.

In 2017 in the United States, 25 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157: H7 had been reported from 15 states. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 95 years, with a median age of 26. Among ill people, 67% were female. Nine ill people were hospitalized, including two people who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. One death was reported from California.

In the Spring of 2018 in Canada, there were eight Canadian illnesses of E. coli O157 with a similar genetic fingerprint to illnesses reported in the U.S. investigation.

In the United States as of June 27, 2018, 210 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 were reported from 36 states. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 88 years, with a median age of 28. Sixty-seven percent of ill people were female. Of 201 people with information available, 96 (48%) were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Five deaths were reported from Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and New York.

In Canada, as of November 23, 2018, there had been 22 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (4), Quebec (17), and New Brunswick (1). Eight individuals were hospitalized, and one individual suffered from the hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Individuals who became ill were between 5 and 93 years of age. The cases are evenly distributed among male and female individuals.

In the United States as of November 20, 2018, 32 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 had been reported from 11 states. Ill people range in age from 7 to 84 years, with a median age of 24. Sixty-six percent of ill people are female. Of 26 people with information available, 13 (50%) were hospitalized, including one person who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome.

So, how does this “Romaine” acceptable?  What will growers, processors, shippers, grocery stores, restaurants, consumers, regulators, and politicians do?

Good readers – ideas?

Categories: News in Food Safety

Ottogi America, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Egg in Product

CDC Food Safety news - November 24, 2018 - 8:59am
Ottogi America, Inc. of Gardena, California announced today it is recalling 1lb 5.16ounce of Jin Ramen Mild 5pk. (Best Before Aug. 19th 2019) and Jin Ramen Spicy 5pk. (Best Before Aug. 20th 2019) due to undeclared egg as an ingredient on the packages. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Chunwei, Inc. Recalls Meat and Poultry Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens and Monosodium Glutamate

Chunwei, Inc., a Huntington Park, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 65,023 pounds of various ready-to-eat and raw meat and poultry products because the products are misbranded and may contain soy, wheat, dairy, egg, and sesame, known allergens, as well as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which are not declared on the finished product label.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Chunwei, Inc. Recalls Meat and Poultry Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens and Monosodium Glutamate

CDC Food Safety news - November 23, 2018 - 2:03pm
Chunwei, Inc., a Huntington Park, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 65,023 pounds of various ready-to-eat and raw meat and poultry products because the products are misbranded and may contain soy, wheat, dairy, egg, and sesame, known allergens, as well as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which are not declared on the finished product label.
Categories: News in Food Safety

165368 C. Corporation Recalls Pork Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

165368 C. Corporation, doing business as Long Phung Food Products, a Houston, Texas establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of ready-to-eat pork products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Categories: News in Food Safety

First Source Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Pecan and Cashew in Chocolate and Nut Tray

CDC Food Safety news - November 20, 2018 - 4:31pm
First Source of Tonawanda, NY, is voluntarily recalling Chocolate and Nut Tray because it contains undeclared tree nuts, pecan and cashew. People who have an allergy or sensitivity to tree nuts (Pecan & Cashew) run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.
Categories: News in Food Safety

165368 C. Corporation Recalls Pork Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

CDC Food Safety news - November 20, 2018 - 4:03pm
165368 C. Corporation, doing business as Long Phung Food Products, a Houston, Texas establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of ready-to-eat pork products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Categories: News in Food Safety

CDC Food safety alert: do not eat, serve, or sell any romaine lettuce

US Food Safety - November 20, 2018 - 2:07pm

CDC is advising consumers, restaurants, and retailers not to eat, serve, or sell any romaine lettuce as it investigates an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine.  Read the investigation announcement: https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2018/o157h7-11-18/index.html(https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2018/o157h7-11-18/index.html).

Key Points:

Advice to Consumers, Retailers, and Restaurants:

  • CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.
  • Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
    • This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.
    • If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.
  • People with symptoms of an E. coli infection(https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/ecoli-symptoms.html), such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting, and think you might have gotten sick from eating romaine lettuce, should talk to their doctor and report their illness to the health department.
  • This investigation is ongoing and CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.

Advice to Clinicians:

If you have further questions about this outbreak, please call the CDC media line at (404) 639-3286. If you have questions about cases in a particular state, please call that state’s health department.

© 2018 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties.

Categories: News in Food Safety

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