Categories
NET NEWS USDA

FDA criticized for waiting 6 weeks to announce latest romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

Romaine or cos lettuce is a variety of popular lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia)

CNAP ClipBoard: The problem with not announcing it because the lettuce was already past its shelf date and not available for sale, is that most grocers sell produce beyond its shelf date. When it’s too rotted to do that, then they put it in a greatly reduced price section of the produce for poor people to buy.


FDA criticized for waiting 6 weeks to announce latest romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

Credit: Max Pixel

AUTHOR

Cathy Siegner

PUBLISHED

Nov. 5, 2019

Dive Brief:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Oct. 31 an E. coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce sickened 23 people in 12 states between July 12 and Sept. 8. While 11 people were hospitalized, the agency said no deaths were reported, the active investigation has wrapped up and the outbreak appears to be over.

Romaine lettuce was identified as the likely source, but available data indicated the product eaten by sick people was past its shelf life and no longer available for sale, the FDA said. “We do not believe there is a current or ongoing risk to the public and we are not recommending the public avoid consuming romaine lettuce,” Frank Yiannas, FDA’s deputy commissioner for Food Policy and Response, said in the release.

Both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established romaine as the probable cause on Oct. 2, Brian Katzowitz, a CDC health communication specialist, told The Washington Post. He said the delay in sharing the news was due to a few variables and the CDC “generally posts outbreak warnings when there is something actionable for consumers to do.”

Dive Insight:

It’s not uncommon for food safety regulators to wait until more details are known about an outbreak before informing the public, but for six weeks to go by before saying anything about an E. coli outbreak can raise questions and cause consumer concern. The delay is even more puzzling since this outbreak was linked to romaine lettuce, which has been involved in three other major outbreaks during the past two years.

The FDA and the CDC may believe consumers couldn’t realistically do anything to protect themselves six weeks out, but telling people about the outbreak earlier may have helped them avoid contaminated romaine lettuce. The FDA’s assertion that any contaminated romaine lettuce would be past its shelf life and no longer available for sale may be true, but it’s not clear how the agency could know that for a fact.

Food safety activists have criticized the delay. Food safety lawyer Bill Marler wrote on his blog that he was disgusted that the government kept this outbreak “hidden from public view.”

“Although the consuming public was kept in the dark, it is without question that government, industry and academia knew that the outbreak happened, but they all chose to hide it until late this evening – so much for ‘transparency’ and so much for ‘food safety culture,’ ” he wrote. “We will not have a safe food supply when facts are hidden from consumers.”

Consumer Reports was also critical of the delay, writing in a post that while not all foodborne illness outbreaks are publicly announced, previous lettuce-related outbreaks were severe enough to warrant quicker action. The nonprofit also noted E. coli O157:H7 — the strain of the pathogen involved — produces a toxin that can lead to serious illness, kidney failure and death.

The leafy greens industry is well aware of pathogen problems and has recently taken steps to improve production processes. The industry has tightened up grower requirements and recently embarked on a multi-year food safety initiative involving government, academia and industry to better understand the impact of pathogens on leafy greens in areas including Yuma County, Arizona and the Imperial Valley in California.

In a statement, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement trade group said it will use information from this latest outbreak investigation to enhance mandatory food safety practices. LGMA Chairman Dan Sutton said while FDA’s farm tests were negative for traces of E. coli, leafy greens growers will continue to work with public health agencies to improve their food safety practices.

According to a 2017 report from the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration, 51% of E. coli cases were linked to produce in 2013, along with 59% of listeria cases, 46% of salmonella ones and 33% of cambylobacter cases. Most E. coli outbreaks were linked to leafy greens and other vegetables — more than any other food category.

Waiting six weeks to reveal the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce could have been an effort to reduce panic, but that decision could lead to more consumers losing trust in the industry.

Transparency is critical to bolstering consumer confidence in the food supply — particularly items that have already had contamination problems.

In addition, any delay telling the public about an outbreak will likely increase suspicion that food safety agencies are not looking out for the public welfare, and that sentiment could lead to less romaine lettuce being consumed. The romaine industry, which was hit by decreased sales following…

READ ON:

    FDA criticized for waiting 6 weeks to announce latest romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak | Food Dive






Categories
FDA NET NEWS

Basil From Mexico Is Likely Cause of Cyclospora Food Poisoning Outbreak

 

A food poisoning outbreak tied to 132 cyclospora illnesses in 11 states was likely caused by fresh basil imported from Mexico by Siga Logistics de RL de CV, the Food and Drug Administration announced late Thursday.

Four people have been hospitalized.

The investigation is ongoing, but the agency has requested a voluntary recall, and Siga Logistics has agreed. The FDA is working with the company to facilitate the recall.

Cyclospora is a parasite that spreads when people eat food (or drink water) that has come into contact with contaminated feces. Illnesses that are part of this outbreak have been reported in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. In Florida, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, some people were exposed to cyclospora at restaurants. The FDA did not name the restaurants.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a receptionist at Siga Logistics said no one was available to comment right away.

What Consumers Should Do

Consumers should not use or eat any fresh basil imported by Siga Logistics, the FDA advised.

If you already bought fresh basil and can’t determine where it is from—or if you don’t know the importer but do know it came from Mexico—throw it away.  

Fresh, uncooked basil often shows up in salads or in pesto, and as whole or chopped leaves in many restaurant dishes. So avoid ordering dishes with basil at restaurants, and ask that basil not be used to garnish your dish, unless the restaurant can assure you the herb didn’t come from Siga Logistics.

If you had basil in your refrigerator that might have been contaminated, or if you have used basil in the past few months, do a thorough cleaning. Wash and sanitize affected areas of your refrigerator and countertops, as well as cutting boards and utensils, and be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water when you’re done.

Symptoms of Cyclospora

Symptoms of cyclospora usually emerge about a week after being infected, and the illness can last anywhere from a few days to a month or more.

Symptoms usually include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea. Many people with cyclospora also experience fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea. In some cases vomiting, body aches, and flu-like symptoms can occur. Sometimes cyclospora symptoms go away and then return, and some people with the infection do not experience symptoms at all.

The Details

Products recalled: There’s no formal recall yet, but the FDA is working with Siga Logistics de RL de CV to facilitate a recall of basil the company imported into the U.S. from Mexico.The problem: The FDA has determined that this basil is the likely source of a cyclospora outbreak that has caused 132 illnesses in 11 states.

The fix: Throw away potentially affected basil, even if you plan to cook with it, to be safe. And don’t eat fresh basil from Siga Logistics. If basil is from Mexico but you don’t have information on the supplier, don’t eat it. And if you don’t know where the basil came from at all, avoid it. The FDA will update its page on this outbreak with more information as it becomes available.

Who to contact: Call your healthcare provider if you think you might be experiencing symptoms of cyclospora. You can also contact the FDA using the links found toward the bottom of this page. Siga Logistics has not yet provided contact information for consumers.

Source: Basil From Mexico Is Likely Cause of Cyclospora Food Poisoning Outbreak






 

Categories
USDA

Over 700 pounds of raw beef and pork products recalled due to possible blood contamination

HWH COMMENT: US FOODS. Yeah, they deliver to many local restaurants within a mile radius of me. I see them a lot while walking to do my errands. Guess I better not eat out for a while.

Even though I don’t eat this stuff, it gets cooked and served in the restaurants I do eat at.

Nobody says whether cross contamination can occur, so I’m assuming it can. How many restaurants will even see this recall? People are too busy. They’re not on the internet all day and night.

The USDA should have an alert app that businesses can put on the restaurant computers that they use while working.

Frankly, I don’t believe that a finger cut caused a High Risk Class I situation. And I don’t believe that it’s restricted to the states they name.

I’m not going to take any chances. I’m staying away from all restaurants.


News Release

Class I Recall076-2019
Health Risk: High
Jul 20, 2019

Congressional and Public Affairs
Meredith Carothers
(202) 720-9113
Press@fsis.usda.gov

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2019 – US Foods, a Birmingham, AL, establishment, is recalling approximately 712 pounds of raw beef and pork products that may be adulterated due to possible product contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The fresh and frozen raw beef and pork items were produced July 18, 2019. This spreadsheet contains a list of the products subject to recall. [View labels (PDF only)]

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 21103” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The problem was discovered after the facility learned that an employee may have cut himself during production.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in restaurant refrigerators or freezers. Restaurants who have purchased these products are urged not to serve them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution lists will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Sara Matheu, Director of Media Relations, US Foods, at (847) 720-2392.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.







Categories
USDA

123 tons of breakfast foods may contain rocks

246,000 pounds of frozen breakfast wraps recalled as they may contain small rocks

Tanya Edwards,Yahoo Lifestyle

El Monterey brand frozen breakfast wraps are being recalled to the tune of more than 246,000 pounds. The wraps, which are sold nationwide, are being recalled over fears the bacon may be contaminated with extraneous materials, including small rocks.

How do rocks get into bacon, and thus breakfast wraps? It’s not really clear. What does seem clear is that someone ate rocks and complained.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) states that, “The problem was discovered on June 14, 2019, when Ruiz Foods advised FSIS of three consumer complaints regarding foreign material in the wrap products. The firm continues to investigate the source of the foreign material.”

Ruiz Foods apparently received a report of a potential injury and alerted the FSIS immediately, triggering the recall. The FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. They stress to see a doctor if you’re concerned you’ve consumed a contaminated product.

Worried you might have some of the contaminated product in your freezer? According to FSIS, you’ll want to check your freezer for 8-Pack family size film packages containing “EL MONTEREY EGG, POTATO, BACON & CHEESE SAUCE BREAKFAST WRAPS” with “Best if Used By” dates of 01/17/2020 and 01/18/2020 and lot codes 19017 and 19018.

Source: 123 tons of breakfast foods may contain rocks