A second E.coli outbreak at the Chipotle has food safety experts perplexed. NPR’s Linda Wertheimer talks to reporter Joanne Silberner about why it’s been so hard to identify the contamination source.
By Barbara Feder Ostrov
When a Shigella outbreak at a San Jose, Calif. seafood restaurant sickened dozens of people last weekend, Yelp reviewers were on the case – right alongside public health officials.
“PLEASE DO NOT EAT HERE!!!!” Pauline A. wrote in her Oct. 18 review of the Mariscos San Juan #3 restaurant. “My sister in and brother-in-law along with his parents ate here Friday night and all four of them ended up in the hospital with food poisoning!!!”
Research suggests that Yelp reviews may act as an early warning system or identify potential patients that public health officials might not otherwise have found in their food-borne illness investigations.
From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To observe World Animal Day (Oct 4) the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Has launched a redesigned Healthy Pets Healthy People website, with expanded information about diseases people can catch from pets, farm animals, and wildlife.
Users can now search alphabetically by animal and learn which zoonotic diseases they may carry. It is a unique “one-stop shop” where people can learn simple actions to protect themselves – and their pets.
The redesigned website offers:
- An alphabetized list and description of diseases that can spread from animals to humans.
- A list of animal species with the description of diseases associated with the animal.
- Specific groups of people that may be more susceptible to diseases from animals.
- Tips for preventing illnesses acquired from pets and other animals.
- Detailed information about the health benefits of owning a pet.
Nine cases reported in Washington State
Health officials suspect that cucumbers imported from Mexico may have been the source of the Salmonella infection that has sickened nearly 300 people in 27 states, including 9 people in Washington state. There has been one death linked to the outbreak.
In response to the outbreak, the distributor, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, has voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015 because they may be contaminated with the bacteria.
These cucumbers are shipped in a black, green, yellow, and craft colored carton which reads “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers.” Labeling on the cases of recalled cucumbers indicates the product was grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico. Domestically produced cucumbers are not believed to be involved in this outbreak.
The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber. It is dark green in color and typical length is 7 to 10 inches. In retail locations it is typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping.
Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers. Further distribution to other states may have occurred.
As of September 3, 2015, 285 people infected with the outbreak strain, called Salmonella Poona. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (60), Arkansas (6), California (51), Colorado (14), Idaho (8), Illinois (5), Kansas (1), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (12), Missouri (7), Montana (11), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (15), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (3), South Carolina (6), Texas (9), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3).
To learn more about the recall go here.
From the Washington State Department of Health
Millions of people go to agricultural fairs and petting zoos this time of year, and children of all ages love to be around the animals.
Taking a few safety precautions can help reduce the chance of getting sick after spending time with animals or their surroundings.
“We encourage people to enjoy their local fairs and petting zoos,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Just make sure your visit is a safe one. Washing your hands is the number one way to do just that.”
Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E.coli and Salmonella, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. Continue reading
From the US Department of Agriculture
Kapowsin Meats of Graham, Washington, is recalling approximately 116,262 pounds of whole hogs that may be contaminated with Salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The “Whole Hogs for Barbecue” item were produced on various dates between April 18, 2015 and July 27, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:
On July 15, 2015, the Washington State Department of Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between whole hogs for barbeque from Kapowsin Meats and these illnesses.
Traceback investigation has identified 32 case-patients who consumed whole hogs for barbeque from this establishment prior to illness onset. These illnesses are part of a larger illness investigation.
Based on epidemiological evidence, 134 case-patients have been identified in Washington with illness onset dates ranging from April 25, 2015 to July 29, 2015. FSIS continues to work with our public health partners on this ongoing investigation.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.
Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.
FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.
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 list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.
FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume pork and whole hogs for barbeque that have been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F with a three minute rest time.
The only way to confirm that whole hogs for barbeque are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ.
For whole hogs for barbeque make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.
Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact John Anderson, Owner, at (253) 847-1777.
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 l0 a.m. to 4 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.
PREPARING PRODUCT FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
Wash hands with soap water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also, wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Clean spills immediately.
Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and egg products and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.
Color is NOT a reliable indicator that meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.
The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90º F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
By Lindsay Bosslet
Public Health – Seattle & King County
Our state, and our county in particular, is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. Government agencies at every jurisdictional level are working hard to stop it.
We sat down with Berhanu Alemayehu from our food safety program to learn more about what people can do to keep themselves safe.
What is salmonella? How do you spot it?
Salmonella is a bacteria that is found on raw meat and poultry, raw eggs, birds, raw fruits and veggies, and even pet lizards. You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.
Why is it bad?
Salmonella causes food poisoning. Within 12-72 hours of consuming food contaminated with salmonella, a person may experience vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fever. These symptoms can lead to hospitalization if not treated properly.
How do you get it?
By eating raw or undercooked meats (beef, pork and poultry), by eating raw eggs, and by eating raw fruits and vegetables that were processed using same utensils used to process raw meats and poultry. Salmonella is an equal opportunity offender – you can get it in a restaurant, at home, or at a catered event. Pregnant women, babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible. Continue reading
From the Washington State Department of Health
The Salmonella outbreak linked to pork products has grown to 134 cases in 10 counties around the state. Consumers are advised to cook pork thoroughly.
The case count has continued to grow as state health officials work with Public Health — Seattle & King County along with other local, state, and federal partners on the disease investigation.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent its team of “disease detectives” to the state to help. Investigators are interviewing the most recent cases and comparing information to early cases, which were first reported in the spring.
Exposure for many of the ill people apparently was whole roasted pigs, served at private events and restaurants.
Salmonella bacteria are commonly found in animals used for food, and proper storage, handling, preparation, and cooking can help prevent the illness known as salmonellosis.
Most of the illnesses have been confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella bacteria, and early testing shows a connection to a slaughter facility in Graham, WA. Samples were collected at Kapowsin Meats in Pierce County last week. Testing confirms the outbreak strain was present. Continue reading
CDC investigators to join state and local health officials next week
From the Washington State Department of Health
The Salmonella outbreak that may be linked to pork products has grown to 90 cases in several counties around the state. The ongoing outbreak is under investigation by state, local, and federal public health agencies.
With the increase in cases, state health officials have asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to send a special team to help with the investigation. This team of “disease detectives” will arrive in Washington next week.
The likely source of exposure for some of the ill people appears to have been whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events.
The likely source of exposure for some of the ill people appears to have been whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events. Continue reading
The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger Ground Cinnamon, Kroger Garlic Powder, Kroger Coarse Ground Black Pepper and Kroger Bac’n Buds sold in its retail stores due to possible contamination from Salmonella.
A sample of Kroger Garlic Powder from a store in North Augusta, South Carolina was tested by the FDA and found to be contaminated with Salmonella. To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. Out of an abundance of caution, the company has recalled all four seasonings produced on the same equipment in the same facility.
Stores under the following names in the 31 states where Kroger operates are included in this recall: Kroger, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, City Market, Smith’s, Dillons, Baker’s, Gerbes, Jay C, Ruler Foods, Pay Less, Owen’s, and Scott’s. Continue reading
More than 60 people have been infected with the bacterium Salmonella in an 11-state outbreak that has been linked to eating raw tuna.
As of last week, two cases have been reported in Washington state. Nationwide, 11 people have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths.
The outbreak has prompted a recall of frozen yellowfin tuna distributed by the Osamu Corporation, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The two recalls include: Continue reading
More than 50 cases in eight Washington counties in 2015 so far
From the Washington State Department of Health
State health officials are working with state and local partners to investigate several cases and clusters ofSalmonella infections that appear to be linked to eating pork.
The ongoing investigation of at least 56 cases in eight counties around the state includes food served at a variety of events.
Disease investigators continue to explore several sources from farm to table, and are focused on an apparent link to pork consumption or contamination from raw pork.
Salmonellosis, the illness caused by infection with Salmonella, can cause severe and even bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort, and vomiting. Serious bloodstream infections may also occur.
As of July 23, the 56 cases include residents of King (44), Snohomish (4), Mason (2), Thurston (2), Pierce (1), Grays Harbor (1), Yakima (1), and Clark (1) counties.
Five of the cases were hospitalized; no deaths have been reported. All were infected with the same strain of Salmonella bacteria.
The disease investigation shows a potential exposure source for several cases was whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events.
The source of contamination remains under investigation by state and local health officials and federal partners. Continue reading
A total of 20 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen have been reported from 16 states since January 1st including two in Washington state, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Three of these ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The outbreak appears to be linked to pet crested geckos purchased from multiple pet stores in different states, with Ten of 11 ill persons interviewed reported contact with a crested gecko in the week before their illness began.
The CDC advises:
This outbreak is a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy your pet and keep your family healthy. CDC does not recommend that pet owners get rid of their geckos.
It is very important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching pet reptiles or anything in the area where they live and roam.
Op-Ed: By Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of the Department of Defense Ash Carter
Antibiotics save millions of lives every year. Today, however, the emergence of drug resistance in bacteria is undermining the effectiveness of current antibiotics and our ability to treat and prevent disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.
Antibiotic resistance also limits our ability to perform a range of modern medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and organ transplants. That’s why fighting antibiotic resistance is a national priority.
Combating and preventing antibiotic resistance, however, will be a long-term effort. That’s why, today, the Administration is releasing the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (NAP).
The NAP outlines a whole-of-government approach over the next five years targeted at addressing this threat:
1. Slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections
The judicious use of antibiotics in health care and agriculture settings is essential to combating the rise in antibiotic resistance. We can help slow the emergence of resistant bacteria by being smarter about prescribing practices across all human and animal health care settings, and by continuing to eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals. Continue reading
By Jenni Bergal
Many diners regularly click onto the Yelp website to read reviews posted by other patrons before visiting a restaurant.
Now prospective customers also can use Yelp to check health inspection scores for eateries in San Francisco, Louisville and several other communities.
Local governments increasingly are turning to social media to alert the public to health violations and to nudge establishments into cleaning up their acts. A few cities are even mining users’ comments to track foodborne illnesses or predict which establishments are likely to have sanitation problems.
Customers also can use Yelp to check health inspection scores for eateries in San Francisco, Louisville and several other communities.