October 22nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Five deaths and six illnesses are being linked to celery distributed by San Antonio-based SanGar Produce & Processing.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has ordered the company to stop processing food and recall all products shipped from the plant since January. The order was issued after laboratory tests of chopped celery from the plant indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness.
The recalled products—primarily cut fresh produce in sealed packages—were distributed to restaurants and institutional entities like hospitals and schools. The DSHS doesn’t believe products were sold in grocery stores.
Read More:5 Die, 6 Sickened After Eating Tainted Celery
October 19th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
We have two new recalls to announce. While the involved products are not organic, you may have purchased them.
Pats Exotic Vegetable Beverages
Bronx, NY-based Pats Exotic Beverages is recalling all packages of its Carrot Juice, Carrot Beet, Carrot Lime and Cucumber beverages because they were inadequately processed and may contain foodborne pathogens.
Read More:2 New Recalls: Pats Exotic Vegetable Beverages, Store-Brand Frozen Vegetables
September 18th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
While restaurant dish cloths appear to be the latest catalyst for food poisoning, there’s some good news on the home front: More of us are washing our hands—but we still have a long way to go.
Roughly 77% of us always clean our hands before handling or eating food (83% of women vs. 71% of men), according to a new study sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute.
Read More:Handwashing Stats Improve, But Some of Us Are Still Pretty Gross…
September 17th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
If you’re planning to dine out, this story is about to ruin your day.
British researchers have found that more than half of the cleaning cloths used in restaurants and takeout kitchens contained alarming levels of bacteria—sure signs of poor hygiene and cross-contamination.
These cloths must be frequently changed or disinfected to halt bacterial growth that could cause food poisoning, according to the research team at the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency. Failure to do so means bacteria can spread from the cloths to foodservice workers’ hands, as well as work surfaces and equipment.
Read More:Dirty Restaurant Dish Cloths May Sicken Us
September 14th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
If you’re like me, you pay close attention to reports of foodborne illnesses, including salmonella, listeria and E. coli outbreaks. You also check your refrigerator and pantry for recalled foods.
But according to a recent survey, American consumers continue to make basic food-safety errors at home. We’re doing either too much or too little, say researchers from Ann Arbor, MI-based NSF International, a nonprofit public health and safety organization.
“Food safety is everyone’s responsibility, and consumers need to put added attention around food-safety practices in the home,” says NSF home safety expert Cheryl Luptowski. “Learning, understanding and changing food-safety behavior through simple everyday practices will make a substantial difference in reducing the incidence of foodborne illness in America.”
Are you guilty of the following behaviors?
Read More:American Consumers Practice Inconsistent Food-Safety Behaviors
September 2nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Mountain View, MO-based Morningland Dairy is recalling 68,957 pounds of raw-milk cheese (made with cows’ milk and goats’ milk) because it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and/or Staphylococcus aureus.
The company’s products are sold in the lower 48 states via retail stores, mail order, crop-sharing associations and direct delivery. Cheeses are sold in vacuum-sealed plastic packages based on product weight.
The following cheese varieties are affected:
Read More:Morningland Dairy Recalls Raw-Milk Cheese Sold in 48 States
August 29th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Cover enough salmonella or E. coli outbreaks, and you become intimately familiar with the “T” word: traceback.
The term refers to the process federal inspectors use to determine exactly where contamination occurred in the food supply chain.
Recent recalls highlight the critical need for an effective product tracing system, according to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a Chicago-based organization that represents food scientists and related professionals.
Read More:Product Tracing Needed to Protect Us from Foodborne Illnesses
August 14th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Fresh Express is recalling 2,825 cases of its Veggie Lover’s Bagged Salad with a Product Code of I208 and a Use-by Date of Aug. 10. The salads may be contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes (Lm).
No other Fresh Express salads are included in the recall, and no illnesses have been reported to date. If you have this product at home, discard it immediately. For additional information, call the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center at (800) 242-5472 (Monday–Friday, 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT).
The recall is based on a random sample test conducted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. One package yielded a positive result for Lm.
Affected products were delivered to 13 states, with the potential for redistribution to an additional 14 states:
Possible Redistribution States
MO, MI, OH, IL, WI, IN, MD, MA, NY, KS, KY, PA, NJ
AR, TN, WV, IA, MN, DC, VA, VT, NH, NE, RI, PA, CT, MS
Signs and symptoms of Listeria-related foodborne illness may include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, diarrhea). If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck or confusion. The illness primarily affects pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems. Most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill.
As I noted in a prior post, Fresh Express recalled numerous romaine-based salads in May.
Read More:New Recall: Fresh Express Veggie Lover’s Salad
August 10th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been investigating the source of two recent multistate salmonella outbreaks, and some experts say Taco Bell veggies are the likely culprit.
The CDC has identified the outbreak source only as a “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain,” but Oregon Senior Epidemiologist William E. Keene told The Oregonian that Taco Bell has been in investigators’ crosshairs. He cautioned, however, that “it’s equally clear that it’s not all Taco Bell. It’s also not a single Taco Bell restaurant.”
The combined outbreaks have sickened 155 consumers, with 42 hospitalizations. Lawsuits have recently been filed, but Taco Bell’s chief quality assurance officer maintains the chain’s food is safe.
Taco Bell’s shredded lettuce was linked to an E. coli outbreak in 2006. Initially, investigators suspected green onions had sickened more than 70 people in five states.
Read More:Taco Bell: Ground Zero for Salmonella Outbreak?
July 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday’s report on the recall of organic sprouts serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go in ensuring the safety of our food supply.
In fact, Listeria monocytogenes (Lm)—the bacterium involved in the sprout recall—has been a key target for regulatory agencies in the United States and abroad.
In 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made rigorous attempts to reduce Lm contamination after contending with 2 years of outbreaks associated with ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, according to Daniel Engeljohn, PhD, acting assistant administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Office of Data Integration and Food Protection.
Aggressive food testing and a zero-tolerance policy have contributed to major strides in decreasing outbreaks, he recently told attendees at the 2010 Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting.
Stepped-up prevention efforts have led to a program that:
- Determines a specific product’s contamination risk
- Sets a frequency for regular testing
In the past, food products were tested at random, without considering the likelihood of contamination. Testing has also been expanded to 10,000 products annually.
As a result, the incidence of Lm-contaminated, ready-to-eat foods has decreased to .38% last year, as compared to 4.61% in 1990.
The international community has also made significant progress in reducing infections, according to Ewen C.D. Todd, PhD, a professor of advertising, public relations and retailing at Michigan State University.
Photo courtesy of the CDC
Read More:Feds Work Toward Reducing Listeriosis Outbreaks