Cut means increased risk: 18 sick in Salmonella outbreak in Oregon, Washington linked to pre-cut fruit

Brad Schmidt of The Oregonian reports that 18 people in Washington and Oregon have been diagnosed with Salmonella after eating pre-cut fruit purchased from local grocery stores, prompting a review by state and federal health authorities.

Officials in both states have traced the outbreak to pre-cut watermelon, cantaloupe and fruit mixes containing those fruits. The products were purchased from Fred Meyer, QFC, Rosauers and Central Market.

Anyone who bought those products from those stores between Oct. 25 and Dec. 1 is urged to throw out the fruit.

“They should not eat it,” said Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority.

Just two of the 18 confirmed cases happened in Oregon, Modie said, with one in Multnomah County and one in Wasco County. Both people ate fruit purchased from Fred Meyer, he said, and the products carried Fred Meyer labels.

A spokesman for Fred Meyer, Jeffrey Temple, said the grocer pulled pre-cut watermelon and cantaloupe from store shelves in response to Friday’s advisory by the state of Washington.

Customers can return items to local stores for a full refund.

“Our highest priority is our customer’s safety and the safety of our food,” Temple said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with state and federal health officials on their investigation to determine the source of this outbreak.” 

Uh-huh.

 

Raw is risky and a drain on public health

A protracted outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections was caused by consumption of unpasteurized (“raw”) milk sold at Oregon grocery stores. Although it never caused a noticeable increase in reported infections, the outbreak was recognized because of routine follow-up interviews.

Six of 16 Portland-area cases reported between December 1992 and April 1993 involved people who drank raw milk from dairy A. By pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), E. coli O157:H7 isolates from these cases and from the dairy A herd were homologous (initially, 4 of 132 animals were E. coliO157:H7-positive).

Despite public warnings, new labeling requirements, and increased monitoring of dairy A, retail sales and dairy-associated infections continued until June 1994 (a total of 14 primary cases). Seven distinguishable PFGE patterns in 3 homology groups were identified among patient and dairy herd E. coli O157:H7 isolates. Without restrictions on distribution, E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks caused by raw milk consumption can continue indefinitely, with infections occurring intermittently and unpredictably.

A prolonged outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections caused by commercially distributed raw milk

1.sep.2017

The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Keene et al.

https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/176/3/815/872141

Beware the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli in sheep shit: Goat yoga is a thing in Oregon

I’m really glad the folks in Portland, Oregon have stopped demonstrating about Dump-a-Trump, and are going back to their old ways – like having yoga with goats.

goat-yoga-portlandThe No Regrets Farm in Albany, Oregon, is offering what it calls Goat Yoga classes.

The sessions take place outside. While participants stretch and pose, the animals wander around or sit on mats and wait to be pet, said Lainey Morse, who owns and lives on the farm.

Morse launched the program last month, and it was an instant hit, she told The Huffington Post. The remaining two classes of the season have filled up already, and her waiting list for next year is more than 500 people long, she added.

Though people have been taking the class for a suggested donation of $10, that price will likely change in the future due to demand.

To sign up for a class, people can visit the Goat Yoga Facebook page, where the class schedule and updates are posted.

“They are gentle and peaceful and just want attention,” the farm owner told HuffPost of the goats.

People seem to enjoy their experiences with the class. In fact, one participant, a cancer patient, was flooded with emotion when taking it, according to Morse.

What’s behind Oregon’s Marionberry mania?

I love the berries, especially the tart blackberries.

marion-barry-1They grew voraciously in my aunt’s backwoods where as kids, we’d pick them by the bucketful. She also made great pies.

According to Tove Danovich of NPR, blackberries also grow voraciously in the Pacific Northwest and it’s not rare to stumble across rural barns or abandoned homes that have been completely consumed by the thorny vine. Let them grow too close to a window, and they’ll break the glass. They’re common — easy to forage and hard to get too excited about. At least compared to the marionberry, a type of blackberry that has become an Oregon obsession.

One of the reasons the marionberry is so beloved is because it is entirely a product of Oregon. It’s “born and raised” in state, so to speak.

The marionberry, a cross between Chehalem and Olallie blackberries, was bred at Oregon State University as part of a berry-developing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that dates back to the early 1900s. It’s named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, where most of the field trials took place (not for former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, right, exactly as shown).

marionberryWhen the berry was introduced in the 1950s, it was widely hailed as the most delicious blackberry commercial cultivar around. Even today, people rave over its tart-yet-sweet flavor — think of a cross between raspberries and blackberries. (Though there is some raspberry in its DNA, the red fruits are more like a genetic great-great grandparent to the marionberry.)

MNA fighter’s Listeria death shines light on illness

Amy Frazier of KOIN 6 reports the death last week of MMA fighter Chael Sonnen‘s newborn daughter from a listeria infection shined a spotlight on the foodborne illness.

Brittany-Smith-Chael-Sonnen-girlfriend-pictures1Sonnen, a West Linn native described as “one of the most polarizing figures in MMA,” talked about his baby, Blauna, on his podcast. She was born 10 weeks prematurely, and both she and his wife, Brittany, were diagnosed with listeriosis, said MMA official Jeff Meyer.

The CDC said listeriosis is usually caused by eating contaminated food and primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

“It is worrisome in pregnancy because there is the chance a pregnant woman can pass the infection on to her fetus and that can cause potentially serious complications like miscarriage, still birth, preterm labor. So it can be serious in pregnancy,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the Deputy Health Officer for the Multnomah County Health Department.

“It’s an illness that would be hard to distinguish from others, so we talk about flu-like symptoms,” she said — fever, muscle aches, feeling tired, vomiting and diarrhea.

Vines said listeria is rare among pregnant women. Over the past 5 years, she said there’s been about 10 cases of listeria, “and of those, only 2 of those have been pregnant women.”

She suggested pregnant women steam hot dogs or deli meats, avoid unpasteurized cheeses and avoid cross-contamination from the water in the package to any other foods, like a salad.

“You’d want to avoid any unpasteurized milk and then any unpasteurized milk that’s used to make cheese,” Vines said.

Handwashing is never enough: E. coli outbreak suspected at Oregon fair

Washington County health officials are investigating after cases of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli were reported after some attendants at the Washington County Fair became ill.

Microbiologist Mi Kang works to identify a strain of E. coli from a specimen in a lab at the Washington State Dept. of Health Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Shoreline, Wash. Chipotle's industry-leading commitment to tracking its ingredients from farm to table is being put to the test by an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 37 people as of Tuesday, nearly all of whom ate recently at one of the chain's restaurants in Washington state or Oregon. Scientists also said that they identified the specific microorganism responsible, which they believe was carried on fresh produce such as lettuce or tomatoes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

No sources has been identified, but public health officials said that livestock at the Washington County Fair may have been a cause, as well as food items brought to the fair from outside.

According to Washington County, anyone who attended the Washington County Fair and has had, or develops, symptoms of stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or fever, should call their health care provider.

“The best way to prevent getting STEC infection is by washing hands well with soap and water,” Baumann said. “It’s very important to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, before preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals or their environments at farms, petting zoos and fairs.”

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-5-5-16.xlsx

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interations

Zoonoses and Public Health 62:90-99

Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman and D. Powell, 2015

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12117/abstract?deniedAccess

 Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. ‘It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the USA caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

Nuts to you: Organic raw macadamia nuts recalled because of Salmonella

Ashland Food Co-op of Oregon is recalling Organic Raw Macadamia nuts because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

macadamia.organic.salmAshland Food Co-op (AFC) sold affected Organic Raw Macadamia nuts in random weight bags between January 5th, 2016 and February 4th, 2016. The nuts have a one month shelf life if refrigerated and were packaged in clear cellophane bags of random weights with an AFC bulk label.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with AFC product. We initiated this recall because we were notified by our supplier, Hummingbird, of the bulk Organic Raw Macadamia nuts recall.

Oregon public health employee faked 56 infection case reports

A former employee in the public health division of the Oregon Health Authority committed misconduct in 56 case reports about Clostridium difficile infections in Klamath County, Oregon, as well as in a manuscript submitted to JAMA Internal Medicine and a published report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in March, 2012.

faking.itRyan Asherin, previously a Surveillance Officer and Principal Investigator at the OHA,

falsified and/or fabricated fifty-six (56) case report forms (CRFs) while acquiring data on the incidence of Clostridium difficile infections in Klamath County, Oregon. Specifically, the Respondent (1) fabricated responses to multiple questions on the CRFs for patient demographic data, patient health information, and Clostridium difficile infection data, including the diagnoses of toxic megacolon and ileus and the performance of a colectomy, with no evidence in patient medical records to support the responses; and (2) falsified the CRFs by omitting data on the CRFs that clearly were included in patient medical records.

In addition, Asherin was found guilty of “falsifying and/or fabricating data” that appeared in the research record of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a manuscript sent to JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2013, and a paper about C. diff that appeared in the CDC’s MMWR journal. The paper — about a potentially deadly infection that’s a common feature of healthcare settings — has been cited 75 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Some of these messy data also made their way into 2012 presentations to the CDC and the 11th Biennial Congress of the Anaerobe Society, according to the ORI report.

The OHA told us Asherin no longer works there.

Preventative pasteurization for Hazelnut Growers of Oregon

Hazelnut Growers of Oregon is starting up its large Napasol Pasteurization line this week, effectively bringing in house a state-of-the-art process to eliminate any potential foodborne pathogens. The performance of the Napasol process is validated for a 5-log kill on Salmonella and other pathogens on hazelnuts and other nuts and seeds.

hgobannerOregon is the largest producer of Hazelnuts in the U.S. In business since 1984, the 150 growers that are members of the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon cooperative cultivate 10,000 acres of prime hazelnut orchards in the Willamette Valley. The region’s gentle climate and abundant rainfall grows trees that produce large nuts of exquisite flavor and freshness. Westnut, their industrial ingredients division, is the largest processor and marketer of hazelnuts in North America. Hazelnuts are processed in the Cornelius facility which handles 25 million lbs. of in-shell hazelnuts and 5 million lbs. of hazelnut kernels.

Pathogens such as Salmonella have been involved in foodborne illnesses and product recalls in several kinds of nuts including Hazelnuts. Jeff Fox, President of Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, points out that “the number of samples from the field that test positive warrants this investment to protect the interest of their growers and the commercial development of the cooperative” adding that “whole industry sectors are taking proactive measures to protect their markets, for example mandatory pasteurization of almonds has been in place since 2007.”

Napasol offers an ideal solution, because nuts are treated at relatively low temperatures and the saturated steam is dry, the process preserves the sensory attributes of the raw nuts while delivering the most effective microbial reduction on the market. The process is validated for the pasteurization of a wide range of nuts including hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamias, and Brazil nuts.

“There is a clear trend in the industry for a demand for pasteurization of nuts, for example for pistachios and walnuts, two other large US crops involved in recalls” says Dieter Kundig CEO of Napasol. He adds “This investment gives a unique advantage to Hazelnut Growers of Oregon and also anticipates regulatory measures that will affect the entire nut industry with the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and with the outcome of FDA’s ongoing tree nut risk assessment.”

Oregon deserves regular, visible grocery inspections

Following up on the series of articles by Tracy Loew about grocery store inspection disclosure in Oregon, her paper, the Statesman Journal, comes out in favor of full disclosure.

image4Good for them.

In Oregon, it is difficult for consumers to learn whether the food at their favorite grocery store is handled safely.

That is the state’s fault.

And that is unconscionable.

The understaffed Oregon Department of Agriculture lags far behind the nationally recommended schedule for store inspections. Even worse, the public cannot easily learn what the inspectors found.

As the Statesman Journal’s Tracy Loew reported last week in stories that should raise legislators’ ire, the Agriculture Department has a huge backlog of grocery store inspections. Some stores have not been inspected for years, even though the federal government recommends inspections every six months.

State agriculture officials say that is because they prioritize inspections based on which activities in the food chain represent the greatest risk to public health and which facilities have a history of problems. That approach sounds defensible from a risk-analysis viewpoint, but it leaves widespread holes in the food-safety system.

The number of serious violations found in grocery store inspections can be astounding. Some — food being sold past the expiration date, food stored at the wrong temperature and food-handling equipment that is unclean — are enough to make the stomach turn.

The Agriculture Department inspection staff is stretched too thin. And some legislators say the situation is not unique to that department.

deli.counterThe 2015 Legislature should undertake a thorough review of inspections conducted by the state’s licensing and regulatory agencies, including:

•Do the inspections serve the purposes for which they were intended?

•Should the inspection process be streamlined? Intensified? Eliminated?

•How are inspections financed, and is staffing appropriate for the workload?

•Are inspection reports promptly posted online, where they are easily available for public view?

For grocery stores, another question desperately needs answering: Should county health departments be given the duty — and the state funding — to inspect grocery stores.

Counties already inspect restaurants. Grocery stores have added delis and other restaurant-style options to meet Americans’ changing lifestyles. For many people, a quick stop at the grocery store has replaced either eating at home or dining out.

In contrast to the backlog in grocery store inspections, about 95 percent of Oregon restaurant inspections are completed on time. The Oregon Health Authority is responsible for those restaurant, cafe and food-cart inspections but delegates that work to counties.

Because grocery stores operate on slim profit margins and face intense competition, it’s in their best interests to have the cleanest, healthiest food handling, display and storage. Some stores have increased their own inspections to compensate for the infrequency of state inspections. That is to their credit.

Still, inspections throughout the food chain are among government’s most important roles. A government inspection report, especially one that the public easily can see, adds clout to the importance of food safety.

It is baffling that the Agriculture Department this year created a database to track inspections and findings but planned the database only for internal management use instead of posting the results online. That suggests misplaced priorities and misunderstanding of the importance of transparency. In contrast, Marion County has an easy-to-use public database of restaurant inspections.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and legislators have a duty to bring Oregon from one of the least progressive states on food-to-table inspections to one of the best. This is an issue of public health, accountability and transparency.

Oregonians should not have to file a public records request and pay a fee for a copy of a grocery store’s inspection report.

Oregonians should not be left in the dark about their neighborhood grocery stores.

Oregonians should expect that their state government ensures their food safety — regularly and publicly.