2 Most Crapped-In Foods; Recalls, Investigations Underway


SPECIAL IN-DEPTH COVERAGE

Food Safety News  – Eighteen people, mostly in Florida, have been confirmed with E. coli O26 infections, spurring Publix Super Markets Inc. to recall an undetermined amount of eight different ground beef products …

Below: Fecal Parasite From Mexico Now Living In Texas Farms

“Traceback information indicated that case-patients consumed ground chuck products purchased at various Publix Super Markets that was supplied by a yet-to-be determined source,” according to the recall notice posted by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The FSIS reported it was notified about the outbreak on Aug. 16.

Other than the FSIS recall notice, no other federal or state agencies appeared to have posted any information about the outbreak as of last night. The FSIS reported that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting Florida officials with their outbreak investigation.

Officials with FSIS and the Publix grocery chain are urging consumers to check their home freezers for unused portions of the ground beef products.

Publix told outbreak investigators that all of the implicated products would have been purchased by customers from June 25 through July 31. The recalled products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Although the producer was unknown as of yesterday afternoon, the recall notice says the ground beef products were shipped to Publix retail locations in several Florida counties, including:

Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Desoto, Flagler, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia.

Products subject to the Publix recall are:

  • Ground chuck
  • Ground chuck burgers
  • Several flavors of gourmet burger — Jalapeno & Cheddar, Pimento & Cheese, Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Blue Cheese, and Swiss & Mushroom
  • Several flavors of seasoned ground chuck burgers — Badia, Mesquite, Montreal, and Steakhouse
  • Several flavors of meatballs — Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Blue Cheese, Jalapeno & Cheddar, Swiss & Mushroom, and Spanish
  • Two types of meatloaf — seasoned and grillers
  • Several flavors of sliders — Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Ground Chuck, Blue Cheese, Jalapeno & Cheddar, and
  • Swiss & Mushroom
  • Stuffed peppers

Other than the number of patients, no other information about the outbreak victims was included in the FSIS recall notice except the known dates of symptom onset, which range from July 5 through July 25.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to E. coli O26. Specific lab tests are necessary to diagnose E. coli infections. The infections can mimic other illnesses, making them difficult to identify.

It generally takes two to eight days after exposure to the bacteria for symptoms to develop. Most people develop some or all of the following, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment for E. coli infections. Antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended. Most people recover within a week, but rarely, some develop a more severe infection. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure most frequently associated with E. coli O157 infections, is uncommon with E. coli O26 infections, according to the FSIS recall notice.

HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

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Fecal Parasite From Mexico Now Living In Texas Farms

FDA documents first Cyclospora contamination of U.S. fresh produce

Coral Beach, Food Safety News – A special FDA testing program on fresh herbs has documented the first confirmed evidence of the Cyclospora parasite in U.S. produce.

The Food and Drug Administration found the microscopic parasite on fresh cilantro at a U.S. distribution facility in July.

In a follow-up investigation, the FDA found Cyclospora on fresh cilantro at a farm.

The federal agency worked with state and local officials to embargo the cilantro. Staff from FDA have been working with the farmer on “corrective actions geared toward common routes of contamination,” according to a constituent update from the agency.

“Although this is the first confirmed evidence of the presence of Cyclospora in domestic produce, FDA is currently unaware of illnesses associated with the product, and traceforward efforts do not indicate there are any connections between this domestic finding of contaminated cilantro and multistate outbreaks of Cyclospora illnesses investigated this spring and summer,” the agency reported.

Those Cyclospora outbreaks were linked to Del Monte vegetable-dip trays and salads made with Fresh Express chopped lettuce and carrots that were served at McDonald’s restaurants.

The special testing program also found Cyclospora on two samples of fresh samples from Mexico. The FDA refused entry for the shipments and is taking action to prevent contaminated cilantro from those firms from entering the U.S. Also, as part of the FDA Produce Safety Partnership with Mexico, the two countries are investigating the cause of contamination.

In addition to cilantro, the herb sampling program for federal fiscal year 2018 included basil and parsley. The FDA selected those specific herbs for the testing program because they are usually eaten without undergoing a “kill step” such as cooking to reduce or eliminate pathogens. Also, because the herbs are grown low to the ground, they are particularly susceptible to contamination.

Initially the FDA was going to test the fresh herb samples for only Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

“The agency added to this sampling assignment its recently developed and validated new analytical method to test for the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Cyclospora has caused outbreaks in the U.S. linked to imported produce, including basil and cilantro,” according to FDA.

“Although it’s unknown exactly how food and water become contaminated with Cyclospora, prior outbreaks have been associated with produce grown under insanitary conditions. This highlights the importance of strong sanitation and worker hygiene practices to prevent contamination, since rinsing or washing food is not likely to remove the parasite.”

Cilantro has been linked to several outbreaks of cyclosporiasis, the infection caused by the Cyclospora parasite, in recent years. Other herbs have also been implicated in other Cyclospora outbreaks.

From 1996 to 2015, the FDA reported nine outbreaks linked to basil, parsley, and cilantro. Those outbreaks caused at least 2,699 illnesses and 84 hospitalizations. Four of the outbreaks were linked to basil, three to cilantro, and two to parsley.

Of those same nine outbreaks, seven were attributed to Cyclospora cayetanensis; one was attributed to E. coli O157:H7; and one was attributed to Shigella sonnei.

One of the goals of the special testing program for the herbs it to obtain baseline estimates for the prevalence of Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in cilantro, basil and parsley.

The FDA began developing special sample testing programs, referred to the agency as assignments, in 2014. The program involves collecting

Beginning in 2014, the agency began developing a new, more robust approach to sampling assignments to assess microbial contamination in food commodities. Under this new approach, a statistically valid number of samples of targeted foods are collected over 12 to 18 months.

“The sampling design for each food takes into account the volume of the target food that is both imported and produced domestically, and the number of states/countries that produce the target food, to reflect what U.S. consumers are likely to find in the marketplace,” according to the FDA update.

Commodities sampled to date under the new approach have included sprouts, whole fresh avocados, raw milk cheese, cucumbers, and hot peppers. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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