Farmers’ market peas in Green Bay linked to salmonellosis cases

When our group started working with farmers markets a few years ago we created a strong partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Together, with funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund, we developed best practices and engage directly with market managers and vendors through workshops and on-site visits. Since 2010 the curriculum we developed has been delivered to over 1000 managers and vendors and we’ve got some data that shows it led to some infrastructure and practice changes. Since then we’ve been working with others at Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas and the University of Houston to take our vendor stuff national and couple it with other materials on that colleagues have developed.

Both of these projects were a result of wanting to help protect public health – and the farmers’ markets – from outbreaks. There haven’t been many farmers’ market-linked outbreaks reported. But one popped up today.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, four cases of salmonellosis have been linked to shelled peas from a vendor at a couple of farmers’ markets.

Authorities believe the cases stem from consumption of peas sold at a July 22 farmers market in Green Bay, said Anna Destree, Brown County’s health officer.

County authorities are reminding people to follow proper procedures for washing and preparing vegetables, but say there is no need to panic.

“There’s no need for people to say, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t buy peas,'” Flynt said. “They just need to follow proper washing and food-handling procedures.”

Officials said any shelled peas purchased from downtown Green Bay farmers markets between July 19 and Aug. 5 should be thrown out.

Flynt did not have any word on the conditions of the county residents who were infected.

I don’t know who Flynt is, but blaming consumers isn’t a good idea. There’s no info as to whether these peas were consumed raw, whether cross-contamination was a factor – and c’mon, can someone show some data that says washing peas would be an effective risk reduction step here?

Here’s an infosheet on asking questions at farmers’ markets. Stuff like how do you keep Salmonella off of my peas.

Shigella, E. coli on sugar snaps in Sweden

Eurosurveillance today reports an outbreak of Shigella dysenteriae type 2 infections during May-June 2009 in Sweden, involving 47 suspected cases of whom 35 were laboratory-confirmed.

The epidemiological investigation based on interviews with the patients pointed at sugar snaps from Kenya as the source. Shigella was not detected in samples of sugar snaps. However, Escherichia coli was confirmed in three of four samples indicating contamination by faecal material.

During April to May 2009 outbreaks with Shigella connected to sugar snaps from Kenya were reported from Norway and Denmark. In the three countries trace back of the indicated sugar snaps revealed a complex system with several involved import companies and distributers. In Sweden one wholesale company was identified and connections were seen to the Danish trace back. These three outbreaks question whether the existing international certification and quality standards that are in place to prevent products from contamination by faecal pathogens are strict enough.

No, they’re not.
 

Confirmed: birds poop on peas in field, sicken 99 with campylobacter in Alaska

Sarah Palin, look at what is going on in your own backyard while you’re getting people all excited with your Katie Couric interviews.

New molecular laboratory findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a firm link between an outbreak of Campylobacter diarrhea that occurred in Southcentral Alaska this summer and eating uncooked peas grown in Alaska.

"Molecular studies demonstrated that there was a match between Campylobacter bacteria obtained from sick people and those obtained from pea and Sandhill Crane samples taken from the farm in Palmer," said Dr. Tracie Gardner, an epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health.

To date, the investigation has identified 99 people sickened by the bacteria who reported eating raw peas within 10 days of illness onset. Fifty-four had laboratory confirmation of illness. Five were hospitalized. None have died.

Investigation revealed a lack of chlorine in the water used to wash the peas at the farm. State officials are working with the farm to implement future control measures.

Yes, chlorinated water could be part of the economic bailout to boost health-care reform. Over to you, Sarah.
 

Sarah Palin: what will you do about sandhill cranes pooping on peas and giving Alaskans campylobacter?

We can’t kill all the birds. That’s my usual response when talking about the practicality of on-farm food safety systems for fresh produce. Yes, birds are salmonella and campylobacter factories. But, as a farmer, you do what you can to reduce risk.

It now appears that the 18 people in Alaska sick with campylobacter got it from eating raw peas from a farm, where apparently sandhill cranes were crapping all over the peas.

The Anchorage Daily News says that Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist with the state health department, said Thursday afternoon the likely culprits in spreading the illness in Mat-Su are sandhill cranes.

Apparently the migratory birds love the peas in Mat-Valley Peas’ fields. And what geese can do to a sidewalk, cranes do to a field.

"The farmer thinks that’s the likely scenario," McLaughlin said. "He has another field with cattle nearby, but it’s highly plausible that the cranes’ poop is the cause."

Duane Clark, who markets the peas for longtime grower John Hett, said, "They don’t have proof we’re the ones, and we don’t have proof we’re not."

"I’ve been farming for over 30 years," Hett said, "and never had a problem."

Shayne Herr, Hett’s son-in-law and manager of the farm, said, "If DEC’s concerned, we’re concerned." He said his family eats raw peas all the time, "and we never get diarrhea. We wash them and we’re fine. If we don’t like them, we don’t sell them."

It’s a new marketing slogan: our food is fine cause we don’t get diahhrea.
 

What would Sarah Palin do? Peas in Alaska source of campylobacter, 18 sickened

My mom was a hockey mom. She and dad drove me all around Ontario to play hockey. I still remember the brawl between some of the hockey moms when we played Galt (before it was Cambridge). The cops were called. I may have been 13. My mom wasn’t involved (at least she won’t admit she was involved).

I coached and helped out with my four girls playing hockey, so I guess I was a hockey dad. I’m not a pit bull and don’t wear lipstick.

Sarah Palin may be a hockey mom who thinks the Flintstones are an accurate representation of human-dinosaur co-habitation and is open to war with Russia, but what I’d really like to hear about is how the vice-presidential candidate responds to foodborne illness in her own backyard.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that a farm in the Matanuska Valley has been called the focal point of a campylobacter outbreak that has sickened at least 18 people in Southcentral Alaska after they ate raw peas.

Mat-Valley Peas in Palmer sells the peas in 5- and 10-pound bags with cooking instructions that would have prevented the outbreak, but some retailers and sellers at farmers markets have repackaged the peas in smaller quantities and left out the cooking instructions, said Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist with the health department.

The first of the 18 cases, including one person who was hospitalized, occurred Aug. 1.

And my mom, she never had to brag about being a hockey mom. She was the real deal.