Listeria in the news again

 

Food company Ready to Eat has announced a Listeria outbreak in several of their pre-packaged meals.
Ready to Eat, which produces ‘Muscle Fuel’ pre-made meals, said the meals affected are the ‘Vegetarian Chickpea and Pumpkin Rosti on Spinach Salad’ and the ‘Turkish Style Chicken & Rice’ with best before dates of August 4th, August 5th, August 6th, 2017.
Other meals are unaffected, the company says.
Any customers in possession of one of the affected meals are being urged to discard it immediately.
In a statement, Ready to Eat CEO Hamish Coulter said they were horrified when they received the news.
“To learn that one of our trusted produce suppliers has let us down is extremely disappointing.”
The Hamilton-based company was informed on Friday afternoon that its supplier Vegeez had returned a positive result for Listeria in one of its recent batches of cabbage.
On Friday evening the company contacted the 139 customers affected.
Vegeez general manager Glen Reid said it had taken full responsibility for the “very rare” event.
Mr Reid said in total there were 15 companies supplied with the affected cabbage, but all other companies managed to dump the product before using it.
Mr Coulter apologised to the company’s customers and said they were putting in measures to ensure this did not happen again.
The company has discontinued the use of coleslaw for the foreseeable future.
If any customer has consumed what they believe to be a contaminated meal they are advised to seek medical advice.
All customers will be contacted again this week with refunds issued.

I stumbled across an interested paper published in the Journal of Food Protection in February 2017 investigating the fate of Listeria monocytogenes , pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica , and Escherichia coli O157:H7 gfp+inoculated in low numbers into ready-to-eat baby spinach and mixed-ingredient salad (baby spinach with chicken meat).

A quick synopsis of the study showed that when mixed-ingredient salad was stored at 8°C during shelf life, only L. monocytogenes increased significantly, reaching 3.0 log CFU/g within 3 days. The 8°C reflects maximum refrigerator temperature storage in Sweden.

In plain baby spinach, only pathogenic Y. enterocolitica populations increased significantly during storage for 7 days, and this was exclusively at an abuse temperature (15°C). Thus, mixing ready-to-eat leafy vegetables with chicken meat strongly influenced levels of inoculated strains during storage. 

The authors then translated the numbers into risks of infection. The risk of listeriosis (measured as probability of infection) was 16 times higher when consuming a mixed-ingredient salad stored at 8°C at the end of shelf life, or 200,000 times higher when stored at 15°C, compared with when consuming it on the day of inoculation. They conclude that efforts should focus on preventing temperature abuse during storage to mitigate the risk of listeriosis.

Söderqvist K1, Lambertz ST1,2, Vågsholm I1, Fernström LL1, Alsanius B3, Mogren L3, Boqvist S1. Fate of Listeria monocytogenes , Pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica , and Escherichia coli O157:H7 gfp+ in Ready-to-Eat Salad during Cold Storage: What Is the Risk to Consumers? J Food Prot. 2017 Feb;80(2):204-212. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-308.

Pregnancy food safety messages should probably include Listeria

There’s a lot of pressure on moms-to-be. When I was a dad-to-be, I supplied some of that  pressure. Throughout Dani’s pregnancies I became the food police in our house — no soft cheeses or cold deli meats made it to Dani’s plate, most didn’t even make it in the house. Everything was been temped during cooking.

I read pretty well every paper I could on Listeria, and Doug and I discussed the merits of broad food surveys and listeria growth in blue-veined cheese. It was a bit ridiculous, but I hear that first time parents sometimes can be obsessive.

Over time I’ve become much less obsessive, have been better at employing risk communication even within my own home. My goal is to give folks info that can help them make risk decisions; not tell them what to do.

Tonight I read an article on food safety for moms-to-be. It started promising, except for the yelling (the headline, 4 STEP FOOD SAFETY GUIDE TO KEEP YOU SAFE DURING PREGNANCY) and went further downhill when all the blogger highlighted was the generic, sanitized messages of cook, chill, clean and separate.

Disappointing that there’s no mention of Listeria, the foods that are high risk for the pathogen – and how to manage the risks.

Missed opportunity.

‘It felt as if my heart had been ripped out’ 3-day-old Australian baby dies of

A mother from Queensland has shared the heartbreaking moment she was told she’d contracted Listeria and passed it to her unborn baby.

Jeanya Rush, 20, from Brisbane, was six months pregnant with her second child – a baby boy – when she started to experience ‘excruciating headaches and high fevers’.

The young mum told Katherine Davison of the Daily Mail Australia that she later discovered she had contracted Listeria – from either a pre-cut fruit salad, cream cheese or an ice-cream she had eaten – and had passed the foodborne illness on to her baby boy, who she and her partner Levi had named Zephaniah.

Doctors told her the infection had left her son ‘severely disabled’ and she and Levi faced the agonising decision whether to let him go.

‘I had tested positive for Listeria. It had infected my uterus and also reached Zephaniah’s brain,’ Ms Rush wrote in a heartrending Facebook post.

‘He [the doctor] told us that Zephaniah could not live without the machines that aid him and if he were to survive he would be severely disabled for the rest of his life. 

‘He would show no emotion or understanding he would be basically be in a comatose state. And worst of all, it was our choice whether or not to let him go. Levi and I were broken. Nothing could ever describe the pain we felt in that moment.’

Ms Rush said it was the hardest decision they had ever had to make. 

‘It took a long time to decide. As Zephaniah stayed on life support, we were by his side and it made everything that much harder,’ she wrote.

‘But we both knew what we had to do and eventually Levi and I came to a decision and it was the hardest one we have ever had to make. We chose to let Zephaniah go and relieve him of his pain and suffering.’

Ms Rush had tested positive for listeria – leading their baby to be severely disabled – and the young couple made the devastating decision to let him go.

‘The midwives and doctors arranged everything. We had our loved ones come in to say good bye to our boy, Zephaniah was blessed by the Elders of Levi’s church, and it was one very long emotional day preparing to send our boy off,’ Ms Rush wrote.

‘When the time came, Levi and I were taken to a private room with Zephaniah, accompanied by 2 lovely midwives. 

‘They took out his breathing tubes and we held Zephaniah for approximately an hour until his final breath. 

‘When he turned cold in my arms it felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. 

‘We held him for a little while longer before the midwives took him away. We returned to our room and sat in silence. I will never forget the pure pain of that moment.’

‘Rockmelon nearly killed my unborn son’ (that’s Australian for cantaloupe)

Jane Hansen of The Northern Star reports that when Amelia Liddy-­Sudbury was pregnant with her third child, she was extra careful with her diet, never eating raw fish or soft cheese.

But she didn’t think twice when she bought some pre-cut rockmelon.

“I bought it, cut up and I think that was the source,” the 35-year-old Mosman mum said.

Thirty three weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs Liddy-Sudbury picked up a Listeria infection – one that could have killed her and her baby.

A fortnight later baby Theodore was delivered – five weeks premature – and would need weeks of intravenous antibiotics to stem meningitis.

“It is a deadset miracle he is alive, once you are diagnosed with listeriosis, that’s usually it, the baby is dead,” Mrs Liddy-Sudbury said.

Listeriosis, caused by the food-borne listeria bacteria, kills one out of every five ­unborn babies it infects.

Two weeks ago another pregnant mother tragically lost her baby to listeriosis.

The woman arrived at hospital with abdominal pain, headache and mild fever. Her baby was ­delivered by caesarean section but was stillborn as a result of the ­infection.

Including Mrs Liddy-Sudbury, it was the third ­pregnancy­-­related case this year in NSW, three times the usual rate.

NSW Health director Dr Vicky Sheppeard said the three cases represented a concerning spike.

“Around the country there have been more cases in the past six months as well,” she said.

Health authorities are now urgently reminding pregnant woman to be extra careful with their food choices.

Listeria bacteria is found in a variety of foods, including cold meats, cold cooked chicken, raw fish, soft-serve ice cream, soft cheeses and unpasteurised milk.

Most pregnant women know to avoid these foods, but the bacteria is also found in pre-cut fruit and pre-bagged salads, products that are highly popular in supermarkets and convenience stores.

“Those products are becoming more common and anything that has been cut and left is a risk, you have to wash and peel fruit and salad yourself if pregnant,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Uh, maybe.

There are benefits to having an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, the evidence does lean toward pre-cut anything being a heightened risk.

So if cutting up a whole rockmelon at home, refrigerate immediately.

This makes a mockery of the supermarket chains and fresh produce venders who sell half-sliced melons or cut up produce, usually at room temperature, which in Brisbane, is warmer than most places.

Hummus sucks, especially with Listeria

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada correspondent Rob Mancini writes:

I hate hummus.

My wife loves it.

Concerns with potential Listeria contamination and food are on-going due to the ubiquitous nature of this pathogen. In Nov. 2016, there was a significant recall of hummus due to potential Listeria concerns with certain Sabra brand hummus products in both Canada and the US. Food producers, manufacturers, retail and foodservice operations are in a constant battle to control this problem and continually seeking new innovative products/solutions for its’ control.

A study published in 2006 found that a combination of citric acid, nisin, and proper hygienic practices served as an effective means to minimize growth of the pathogen in hummus. It may also be a good idea to take into consideration where the ingredients were sourced and ensuring that your facility are following and adhering to good GMP’s.

Either way, still hate the stuff.

Daily Hornet reports:

Lantana Foods, the company that supplied the hummus, notified Harris Teeter of the possible contamination, and the grocer promptly removed it from its cases.

Affected products include Fresh Foods Market Artisan Hummus Pine Nuts with UPC 7203602705.

Harris Teeter is using transaction data to notify shoppers who may have purchased the hummus, according to a press release on the company’s website.

If you purchased any hummus affected by the recall you should discard it immediately or return it to Harris Teeter for a full refund.

Listeriosis is a severe infection caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease typically affects children, the elderly, and adults with weakened immune systems.

To date, no listeria infections have been associated with the Harris Teeter hummus recall.

 Al-Holy, M,  Al-Qadiri,H,  Lin, M,  and  Rasco, B. Inhibition of Listeria innocua in Hummus by a Combination of Nisin and Citric Acid.  Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 69, No. 6, 2006, Pages 1322–1327

 

Food Safety Talk 121: Seesaws and slides

Don and Ben talk I.M. Healthy’s soy nut butter-linked E. coli O157 outbreak; social responsibility and food safety; and produce washing. The guys also discuss the particulars of goalie screening and Salmonella sticking around in the environment for months. Bonus: urinals.

Episode 121 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

One dead, six hospitalised with Listeria in Australian food poisoning surge

Emily Woods of the Age reports one person has died and at least six others have been taken to hospital with listeria during a surge in food poisoning cases in the weeks before Christmas.

listeria4The tragedy is one of seven cases of listeria reported in the last three weeks, although none are believed to be linked.

Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Finn Romanes advised doctors and other health professionals to “educate at-risk patients” about safe food-handling and which foods to avoid.

The department was unable to reveal further details about the patient’s death.

The seven recent cases are among 25 that have been reported in Victoria so far this year. In 2015, there were 22 cases of listeria in the state. 

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the incidents were a timely reminder for pregnant women, and other at-risk people, in the days leading up to Christmas.

“Food-borne illnesses typically increase during the summer months, when bacteria can multiply quickly. With a recent rise in listeriosis notifications it’s particularly important pregnant women take extra precautions this Christmas,” Ms Hennessy said.

“Pregnant women should remain vigilant and avoid eating salads prepared well in advance of consumption, cold seafood and cold deli meats, soft cheeses, soft-serve ice cream, dips and any unpasteurised dairy products.”

All of the other patients have since left hospital and are recovering. 

Be wary of thy service providers: Listeria in ice cream edition

Last week a restaurant operator called me about their tomato sauce. It’s apparently amazing, not the typical tomato, basil, garlic combo (or so I was told). They wanted to know how to bottle and process it so they could sell it. I stepped them through the food safety concerns with canning, told them about how to apply for a variance to the food code. And told them about another option -copackers – service providers who will take a recipe and process something.

Picking the right one, who knows how to manage food safety, matters.

Altijira Murray Products, LLC got caught up in some service provider mess and has recalled about 4000 pints of Foxy brand ice cream.

All of the recalled products were manufactured and packaged in a facility owned by a contract manufacturer, Dr. Bob’s of Upland, LLC. ucm534040

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found samples positive for Listeria monocytogenes in the contract manufacturer’s facility and in finished product of another company’s brand, leading the contract manufacturer to recall all ice cream products.

About Altijira Murray Products LLC.

We make amazing ice cream that’s just a little healthier for you. Ice Cream is not supposed to be healthy. It’s a treat, a reward, something sweet at the end of the day. We’re members of 1% For The Planet and use local, smaller manufacturers where possible to stimulate jobs and look after the environment. Our Foxy’s brand is a super premium ice cream with 20% less sugar and probiotics snuck in at the last minute – but don’t panic, you’d never know the difference.

Altijira Murray Products LLC is an extremely small business – just two people. Please leave a message on the Recall line and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

Uh huh.

 

Because serving certain foods to old folks is dumb: Listeria infections frequently reported among the EU elderly

European experts have noted an increasing trend of listeriosis since 2008, but they highlight that the number of affected people stabilised from 2014 to 2015. Infections were mostly reported in people over 64 years of age. These are some of the findings of the latest annual report by EFSA and ECDC on zoonotic diseases, which also includes the latest trends on salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, and foodborne outbreaks in the European Union.

listeria4Listeriosis affected about 2,200 people in 2015, causing 270 deaths – the highest number ever reported in the EU. The proportion of cases in the over 64 age group steadily increased from 56% in 2008 to 64% in 2015. Additionally, in this period, the number of reported cases and their proportion has almost doubled in those over 84 years.

“It is concerning that there continues to be an increasing trend of Listeria cases which mostly occur in the elderly population. ECDC is working together with Member States to enhance surveillance for food- and waterborne diseases, starting with Listeria, as earlier detection of relevant clusters and outbreaks can help prevent further cases,” said Mike Catchpole, Chief Scientist at ECDC. “This is a public health threat that can and needs to be addressed”, he added.

Dr. Marta Hugas, Head of Biological Hazards and Contaminants at EFSA, said: “Listeria seldom exceeded the legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods, the most common foodborne source of human infections. However, it is important that consumers follow manufacturers’ storage instructions and the guidelines given by national authorities on the consumption of foods.”

In 2015, there were 229,213 reported cases of campylobacteriosis. This disease remains the most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU, showing an upward trend since 2008. Campylobacter is mostly found in chickens and chicken meat.

The number of cases of salmonellosis, the second most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU, increased slightly – from 92,007 in 2014 to 94,625 in 2015. The increase observed in the past two years is partly due to improvements in surveillance and better diagnostic methods. However, the long-term trend is still declining and most Member States met their Salmonella reduction targets for poultry populations.

Salmonella is mainly found in meat (poultry) intended to be cooked before consumption.

A Tale of Three Outbreaks: ConAgra plea deal reached

A couple of weeks ago I left my cozy bubble of Raleigh and travelled to Wayne County NC for an evening talk at the Farm-City Banquet. As I was driving I thought about Doug and Gord Surgeoner’s mentorship – both instilled the importance of engaging with real people around issues and chatting over dinners.

Research and extension activities need grounding in reality.caddyshack_be_the_ball_small

The morning of the event I wasn’t entirely sure what to talk about – so I asked Schaffner for input during a podcast recording. He suggested ‘A Tale of Two Outbreaks’ – comparing Jensen Farms to PCA. Both tragic outbreaks, both resulting in criminal charges. One was due to an egregious disregard for public health. The other seemed to be a couple of folks who meant well but didn’t quite get microbiology.

Be the bug.

For the next talk I’m gonna add in ConAgra’s Peter Pan/Salmonella outbreak as part of the story.

The Associated Press reports that ConAgra pled guilty and has agreed to pay $11.2 million in fines and other fees as a result of an outbreak a decade ago.

ConAgra admitted to a single misdemeanor count of shipping adulterated food. No individuals at the leading food conglomerate faced any charges in the 2006 outbreak, which sickened at least 625 people in 47 states.

Disease detectives traced the salmonella to a plant in rural Sylvester, Georgia, that produced peanut butter for ConAgra under the Peter Pan label and the Great Value brand sold at Wal-Mart. In 2007 the company recalled all the peanut butter it had sold since 2004.

Leo Knowles, president of ConAgra Grocery Products, offered no testimony as he entered the misdemeanor plea Tuesday on behalf of the Chicago-based corporation’s subsidiary.

“It made a lot of people sick,” federal prosecutor Graham Thorpe said Tuesday as he described ConAgra’s decision to continue shipments from the Georgia plant in late 2006, before corrective actions were completed, despite lab tests that had twice detected salmonella in samples.

“The industry has taken notice of this prosecution,” Thorpe added.

Though the Justice Department called $8 million the heftiest criminal fine ever imposed in a U.S. food safety case, it represents just one-tenth of one percent of ConAgra’s current $8 billion market capitalization. The company also will pay $3.2 million in cash forfeitures to the federal government.

ConAgra said it didn’t know peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped. However, the plea agreement documents noted that ConAgra knew peanut butter made in Georgia had twice tested positive for salmonella in 2004. Problems weren’t all fixed by the time of the outbreak.

The judge noted that others had already received cash from ConAgra in civil settlements, which he said totaled $36 million to 6,810 people.

About 2,000 of them were represented by Bill Marler, a Seattle-based attorney who specializes in food-safety cases. He said the case shows corporations can be prosecuted even when there’s no evidence of intentional criminality. The misdemeanor charge, he said, required only that ConAgra shipped the contaminated food.

“Companies are very concerned, they’re very worried,” Marler said. “They’re very interested in knowing: How can they charge us with a crime even if we don’t mean to do it? People are paying attention to that and hopefully it’s going to drive positive food behavior.”

The folks in the food and agriculture world in Wayne County seemed to pay attention.