Food Safety



Multi-State E. coli 0145 Outbreak Includes Alabama

E. coli Infections Can Cause HUSFood Poisoning Bulletin has learned that the multi-state E. coli 0145 outbreak includes Alabama. There  are two confirmed cases of E. coli 0145 in Alabama, bringing the total number of patients in this outbreak to 11. There is still no official word from the CDC on the outbreak.

Case count:

  • Alabama (2)
  • Florida (1)
  • Georgia (5)
  • Louisiana (2 ill, 1 death)

The Alabama Department of Public Health told us that there are some additional possible cases pending. They are waiting to see test results. The states involved are working with the CDC, which is playing a supportive role.


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Survey Finds Food Workers Are Underpaid and Work While Sick

June 7, 2012 By

Tables in a restaurantThe Food Chain Workers Alliance has released a report that states that more than half of all employees in the food industry work while sick because they can’t afford to take time off and that most food workers are underpaid. This is the first survey that studied income and working conditions of employees in the entire food chain.

Most states have prohibitions against contagious employees working with food. And restaurant and food facility owners are responsible for making sure their employees are not transmitting disease. In 2012 alone, we have reported on twelve outbreaks of foodborne illness that were traced back to a sick employee.

The survey also found that only 13.5% of employees in this industry earn a livable wage, and most jobs are very low wage. The report, titled “The Hands That Feed Us” found that “more than 86% of workers reported earning sub minimum, poverty, and low wages, resulting in a sad irony: food workers face higher levels of food insecurity, or the inability to afford to eat, than the rest of the U.S. workforce.” In fact, food workers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce.


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AVMA, AHI Plan Public Health Panel on Capitol Hill

As the policy debate over antibiotic resistance rolls on, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Animal Health Institute, an animal drug industry group, are planning to hold a panel discussion on the critical role veterinarians play in public health, including their role in ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics.

“Veterinarians’ responsibility in keeping animals healthy is an essential part of the human health ecosystem,” read an email from AHI this week. “Whether working on a farm, in private or corporate practice, government, academic or uniformed services, veterinarians play an increasingly critical role in protecting public health.”



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Fourteen People in Six States Are Sickened in E coli 0145 Outbreak

Fourteen people in six states are sickened with E coli 0145; the same strain killed a New Orleans toddler last week. While no one source has been pinpointed, state officials are working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to solve the case and epidemiologists suspect food may be the culprit.

The case count is as follows:

  • Alabama (2)
  • California (1)
  • Florida (1)
  • Georgia (5)
  • Louisiana (3 ill, 1 death)
  • Tennessee (1)

The CDC has released a statement about the outbreak. They say that the most recent report of illness was on June 4, 2012. The dates when patients became sick range from April 15 to May 12, 2012. Three people have been hospitalized.

Public health officials interview victims with questionnaires, asking them about exposure to different foods, restaurants, animals, and other potential bacterial sources. A petting zoo has been eliminated as the cause of the outbreak.

Food safety experts agree that it’s important to release information about these illnesses, because if someone is experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection, they need to see a doctor and be tested for the bacteria. Each patient is an important link when trying to identify a source of the contamination; information from just one person could solve the case. Patients usually develop STEC infection symptoms within two to eight days after consuming the bacteria.


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Meat Lasagna Sold Nationwide Recalled for Undeclared Allergens

An Illinois-based firm is recalling approximately 96,408 pounds of meat lasagna products because they contain undeclared allergens.
Windsor Quality Food Co. of Toluca, IL issued a voluntary recall of two types of meat lasagna Wednesday because they contain egg and soy, both known allergens, but these ingredients are not named on product labels.


The products subject to recall are:
– Retail cartons of “Safeway Select Five Cheese Lasagna,” with package code April 4, 2013
– Shipping cases of “Safeway Select Meat Lasagna” with a Best By date of April 4, 2013

Nutrition Supplement Recalled for Potential Salmonella Contamination

A Ferndale, Washington-based nutritional supplements company is voluntarily recalling 313 bottles of liquid supplements because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
The company – Botanical Laboratories, Inc. – is recalling two of its Wellesse brand liquid supplements because the supplier of one of the ingredients in these products has indicated that the ingredient may contain Salmonella.


The products subject to recall include:
– 38 bottles of 33.8 oz. “Digestive 3 in 1 Health,” with “LOT 34552C (four-digit time code)A EXP 03/2014” jet coded on the bottom of the bottle
– 275 bottles of 16 oz. “Digestive Health 3 in 1,” with “LOT 34441C (four-digit time code) A EXP 03/2014” jet coded on the bottom of the bottle

Pasta Mix Products Recalled for Possible Metal Fragments

Bay Valley Foods is recalling about 74,000 cases of pasta mixes manufactured by its subsidiary ST Specialty Foods, Inc. A seasoning blend made by Kerry Ingredients & Flavours used lactic acid that may be contaminated with small metal fragments.

To see all of the products, retailers where they are sold, UPC numbers, and MFG lot codes, please visit the FDA site.


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FSIS Issues Notice 40-12 About non-0157 STEC Testing

Cows in the FieldOn June 4, 2012, the USDA started requiring facilities to test beef trim for six non-0157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria (STEC). The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued Notice 40-12 about non-0157 STEC testing to clarify some points in the new test.

On September 2, 2012, 90 days after the testing implementation, plants must re-evaluate their Hazard Control and Control Point (HACCP) systems if they have positive tests and the hazard is not addressed in their current plan.

Six non-0157 STECs, 026, 045, 0103, 0111, 0121, and 0145, cause about 110,000 illnesses in the United States every year. In fact, there is currently an outbreak of E. coli 0145 that has sickened 11 people in four states and killed a toddler in New Orleans. These bacteria produce shiga toxins that cause hemolytic uremic syndrome and other serious complications, including heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, and severe anemia.


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Legionnaires Case Shuts Down Dallas Hotel

The SuperMedia Hotel and Conference Center, a hotel near the Dallas airport, closed temporarily this week after a guest was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease. It is not yet known if the guest contracted the disease at the hotel or elsewhere, but the hotel closed temporarily while tests are being conducted.

“A guest at the hotel attached to SuperMedia’s offices was treated for Legionnaires’ disease and released from a nearby hospital. After the one case was initially reported to us, we took the precautionary step of asking our employees to work from alternate locations while the appropriate tests were being conducted. No other cases have been reported and we don’t know that this case originated from the hotel,” Andrew Shane, a  SuperMedia spokesperson, told Food Poisoning Bulletin.


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Articles of Interest



FDA and FSIS Funding Cut by House Appropriations Subcommittee

On June 6, 2012, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture voted to cut funding for the FDA and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee.

In this bill, FSIS will receive $9 million less than fiscal year 2012, and the FDA will receive $16.3 million less. This comes at a time when the FDA needs more resources to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA requested a budget increase of $253 million.


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Animal Disease Traceability Too Expensive, Rural Coalition Says

A coalition led by farmers and ranchers is using a last-minute strategy to stop USDA’s new Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. The groups involved are using economic grounds – especially the added costs that animal identification will impose on rural America.
In a 9-page letter to the Executive Office of Management and Budget, a unit of the White House, the sixteen organizations in the coalition say animal traceability could cost the U.S. cattle industry more than $1 billion a year.
The so-called ADT rule is a replacement for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which became so unpopular with rural America that Congress for 2010 cut out its funding before it could be implemented.


ADT is essentially a diet version of NAIS. It is limited to animals moved interstate, will be run by state and tribal governments, is “low tech,” and is being implemented only through transparent federal rule making.
As soon as USDA opened the new program to public comments last fall, ADT came under fire almost as much as the old NAIS had.
Now the opposition is centered on the financial impact ADT will have on farmers and ranchers, and some of the faulty reasoning it says USDA used in working up the proposal.  For example, it says USDA’s estimate that “only 30 million cattle” cross state borders each year is “contradicted by the publicly available data on the cattle industry.”
“The USDA has not done their due diligence investigating the true fiscal impact this will have on the livestock industry,” says Mark A. Kastel, senior farm policy analyst for the organic policing group called The Cornucopia Institute.  “Our concern is that the economic burden of this rulemaking, some of which is duplicative of many effective disease control programs currently utilized, will fall unfairly on family-scale farmers and ranchers.”

Harper Government Wants Tougher Food Safety Law for Canada

The federal government of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party is pushing for a tough new food safety law with greater penalties for violators and more unified enforcement powers.
Harper’s government Thursday introduced the Safe Foods for Canadians Act, Bill S-11, to overhaul Canada’s food inspection system.
Albert Chambers, executive director of the Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition, immediately hailed the government’s new initiative as a “major step forward.”
“The Coalition is a long-time supporter of modernizing food safety legislation and regulations as a key element in the development of a national, coordinated and integrated approach to food safety,” Chambers said.


“The proposals in Bill S-11 meet many of the food safety objectives of both industry and government; they complete initiatives identified by previous governments; and, they will position Canada’s food safety regime well in the rapidly changing global regulatory environment,” he added.
His coalition includes 29 national associations, three provincial associations, and six food companies as allied members.  Together, the groups represent every link in the food supply chain from producers to distributors to retailers.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables: They’re Essential to a Healthy Diet

Last month the United States Department of Agriculture released its Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary which reports pesticide residues on fruits, vegetables and other foods commonly consumed in the United States. This was the 20th time this report has been published and it, in part, represents the transparency the USDA has with respect to food safety.  The report provides detailed information on the types and amounts of pesticide residues found on foods sold in the U.S. marketplace.  Consistent with previous years, when found, the levels of pesticide reported are extremely low among three government agencies — USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — all of whom advise consumers that the regular consumption of fruits and vegetables containing the amounts of pesticide residues reported is not thought to represent any safety risks.
This USDA report and the accompanying press release received scant media attention.  Typically, stories with good news about the safety of our food supply get minimal coverage.  Regrettably, there is a high probability that this pesticide residue report will be misrepresented by some, and consumers will be advised to shy away from certain fruits and vegetables due to allegations about “high” levels of pesticide residues. Unfortunately, this type of advice has garnered much media attention in the past.
Recent consumer research shows that warnings about the alleged dangers of pesticides may result in reductions in the overall intake of fruits and vegetables. While some could argue that providing information to consumers about pesticide residues simply fuels an increased shift from the consumption of conventionally grown crops to those grown organically, this ignores the issue that organically grown crops are typically more expensive, and higher produce costs could present a significant challenge to many in our society.  While such a challenge might be reasonable if there were well documented scientific data that supported the contention that there are different health benefits of conventionally grown versus organically grown foods, at present this is not the case.

Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers Fight USDA Animal ID Scheme

By NAIS Stinks

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of agriculture and consumer organizations from across the nation is challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to push ahead with a complicated and expensive Animal ID program. The organizations sent a joint letter to the Congressional Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week arguing that the rule should be sent back to the USDA because of the impacts it will have on family farmers, ranchers, related businesses, and other citizens who own animals.

The letter cites research from North Dakota State University which estimated the costs for cattle as more than five times greater per animal than the USDA’s estimate, potentially creating costs of over a billion dollars per year.

The letter from the coalition also points out that USDA “arbitrarily assumed that only 30 million cattle” would be subject to the new regulatory requirements, even though this assumption was “contradicted by the publicly available data on the cattle industry.”

By underestimating both the number of animals affected and the cost per animal, the USDA estimated the fiscal impacts at under $100 million, claiming that the rule is not “economically significant” and placing it on the fast-track to be finalized after review by the OMB, which serves as the fiscal review agency for all regulatory matters.

The coalition’s critique provides additional information on the disproportionate impact on small farmers due to the on-ranch costs for equipment and labor involved in tagging and long-term recordkeeping. The coalition also notes that the agency failed to address the increased costs to livestock-related businesses, such as for certified veterinarians and sale barns.


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