Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Download C.V. »

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 246 sick with Salmonella from JBS beef

JBS Tolleson, Inc., a Tolleson, Ariz. establishment, is recalling approximately 12,093,271 pounds of non-intact raw beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The raw, non-intact beef items, including ground beef, were packaged on various dates from July 26, 2018 to Sept. 7, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:  [Products List (PDF) | Product Labels (PDF only)|

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a retail locations and institutions nationwide.

After FSIS Recall 085-2018 on October 4, 2018, FSIS, CDC, and state public health and agriculture partners continued to investigate the outbreak of Salmonella Newport illnesses. The epidemiological investigation has identified 246 confirmed case-patients from 25 states with illness onset dates ranging from August 5, 2018 to October 16, 2018. An additional 16 case-patients have provided receipts or shopper card numbers for the product traceback investigations. Specific traceback for three case-patients have identified JBS Tolleson, Inc., EST. 267 ground beef products that were not part of the October 4, 2018 recall. FSIS will continue to work with public health partners and provide updated information should it become available.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Surveys still suck; so do organics

As my friend Farmer Jeff used to say, 20 years ago, if someone can make a living farming, even if it involves duping consumers, more power to the farmers.

I have a less charitable view and figure it’s primarily 21st century snake oil.

Ashley Nicole of Produce Retailer reports that 45 per cent of U.S. adults believe organic fruits and vegetables are healthier than conventional produce, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

That share has fallen from two years ago, when 55% of people responded that they viewed organic produce as better for them.

Groups that more heavily favor organic fruits and vegetables include younger people, people who care about the topic of genetic modification of food, and people who buy organic.

 

Cracker Barrel in SW Michigan closing because of Salmonella

I’ve spent a good portion of my life on Interstate-75 heading south from Detroit to Sarasota, Florida.

Gramps had a mobile home in Englewood, where he would spend 6-months-minus-one-day every year, to escape the Canadian cold and be covered by insurance.

Amy and I had independently visited Venice, Florida before we met, and we’ve had a few retreats to Anna Maria Island.

A common sight on I-75 was the endless Cracker Barrel restaurants. They looked so appealing, with their ole’ timey messaging, but were no different than turtles, birds and backyard chickens: they were Salmonella factories.

One in southwestern Michigan will not reopen after a problem with salmonella.

The Kalamazoo County health department says it was told about the closing last week. The agency says private tests revealed significant contamination at the Kalamazoo-area restaurant. Results from state tests are expected this week.

The restaurant had reopened after closing in June due to health-code violations. Cracker Barrel, which is based in Lebanon, Tennessee, says the salmonella was not related to the food supply. But the chain says the restaurant has closed because it wasn’t confident that it could “prevent a reoccurrence.”

Preschoolers were supposed to get apple juice at snack time. They got Pine-Sol instead

Amy B Wang of the Washington Post writes that officials at a preschool in Hawaii have apologized after young children were given Pine-Sol instead of apple juice to drink during a morning snack time, a mix-up that health officials said occurred because the two liquids were “the same color.”

The incident involving the household cleaning liquid took place on Tuesday at the preschool at Kilohana United Methodist Church in Honolulu.

A classroom assistant prepared the snacks — which should have been crackers and apple juice — in the preschool’s kitchen, according to an inspection report by the Hawaii State Department of Health.

Instead of juice, however, the assistant reportedly grabbed a container of Pine-Sol, a decades-old brand of household cleaner that comes in a variety of scents, though none particularly reminiscent of apple juice.

The preschool’s cleaning supplies are “stored below the kitchen sink and in the janitors room,” the report stated, while food items “are properly stored and labeled in the kitchen cabinets.”

“I think it’s extremely terrifying,” parent Turina Lovelin told KHON News. “It’s very, very scary, but it’s hard for me, or any of the people that I’ve spoken to, to understand how it happened in the first place.”

Your vomit and diarrhea is our bread and butter: Portland’s outbreak museum

I still miss Bill.

I never really knew him, but we all have our demons.

Everyone has problems, especially the ones who think they don’t.

He was awkward in a way I found familiar

Thing is, Bill could nail an outbreak in a heartbeat.

Emily Smith of Atlas Obscura writes about the home-canned beets killed someone.  The freezer-aisle pot pies (there’s about 50 in Phebus’ freezer from 2007). The cheese, breakfast cereal, frozen pizza, tampons, tattoo ink and plastic bags have victims of their own.

These are a handful of the exhibits on display at the International Outbreak Museum in Portland, Oregon, which curators say is the world’s only museum of its kind. It features objects collected from outbreaks of infectious diseases that took place in Oregon and around the globe.

The museum is a single windowless room in a state office building that’s home to the Oregon Health Authority. This room was once the office of Bill Keene, an internationally respected disease investigator for the State of Oregon who assisted on cases around the world. He officially began collecting the mementos for a museum in 1993, though he started holding onto items a decade or more earlier. After his unexpected death in 2013, his colleagues have continued his efforts.

The small room is crammed with more than 100 exhibits that fill tall glass-encased cabinets and cover every surface. The beets and the box of Rely tampons are authentic. Others, like the papier-mache cantaloupes in a net that hangs from the ceiling, are carefully handcrafted representations.

Not every item in the collection represents a fatal outbreak. But every item hints at ailment: stomach cramps, fevers, chills, rashes—the often-agonizing symptoms that accompany an outbreak. And each exhibit hints at investigators’ quiet, crucial work to unravel the mystery of their cause.

On a shelf along the back wall, some tarot cards and mugs bearing the image of cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh mark a dark chapter for disease detectives, when a cult in rural Antelope, Oregon, perpetrated the largest bioterrorism attack in U.S. history. The goal was to suppress voter turnout in Wasco County, ensuring that cult members, known as Rajneeshees, could overtake locals in the November 1984 elections. They slipped liquid tainted with salmonella into salad-bar offerings at 10 restaurants and several other public places. The attack sickened 751 people, who ranged in age from newborn to 87.

The plastic milk jugs contained in a red plastic crate recall a yearlong case that stumped investigators as they pondered 25 cases of salmonella spread across Oregon, over the course of 12 months, with no clear link. The only detail the cases had in common was milk, which perplexed investigators because the milk was pasteurized. However, a trip to a beloved local dairy in Roseburg, southern Oregon revealed that while the milk itself was fine, a crate-washing machine at the facility was contaminated with salmonella bacteria. So, as crates of milk cartons moved through the facility, they were doused with a salmonella-infused solution. A thorough cleaning of the facility ended the yearlong outbreak.

The Outbreak Museum’s peanut-laced products including granola bars, cookies, and crackers serve as a reminder of Stewart Parnell, a corporate peanut peddler who was sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly selling contaminated products. Parnell, the CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America, famously wrote in an email, “Just ship it,” when he learned a shipment had been delayed pending salmonella testing. The shipped peanut-butter paste was linked to a 2008 outbreak that killed nine people and sickened more than 700 others.

In isolation, the stuff that fills this one-room museum is the same ordinary stuff that fills trash and recycling bins. It’s waxy paper boxes printed with company slogans and plastic wrappers bearing logos and nutrition facts. In some cases it’s convincing reproductions of raw meat you’d find shrink-wrapped and refrigerated in the grocery store or fresh strawberries you’d buy from a farmer’s market.

But in Bill Keene’s world, each exhibit stands for a smoking gun. This museum is the evidence of real, everyday items that harmed or killed—and that could have gone on to hurt more, if not for the scientists who solved these mysteries. Even before it was a museum, this room was a place where other investigators drew inspiration.

“You could come in here when you needed a break from your work, sit here and ask him about anything,” epidemiologist Tasha Poissant says.

Keene wanted this museum to commemorate the successes, remember the failures and demonstrate the importance of this work, Poissant says. He understood that outbreaks affect people’s lives in intimate and powerful ways, which means they also have the power to educate, to influence public opinion and change policy.

“When Bill passed away, we all wondered what are we going to do with this museum?” epidemiologist Hillary Booth says. “He didn’t get a chance to make it into the proper museum he wanted to.”

So his colleagues and family stepped in to bring some order to the collection he’d amassed. They installed the display cabinets in his office and catalogued exhibits on the museum website. They continue to collect artifacts, from their own work as well as from cases around the world. While the museum isn’t open to the general public, the curators show it off whenever the opportunity arises—when a public health conference comes to town or guests visit the office.

Memorabilia from Keene’s work spills out of the museum and covers the walls leading to its door. Newspaper clippings, photos from his field work and quotes from Keene (Keene-isms) decorate the cubicle walls just outside.

“Your diarrhea is our bread and butter,” one quote reads.

Poissant offers a correction: What Keene actually said was, “Your vomit and diarrhea is our bread and butter.”

Either way, Keene’s words capture a genuine passion for this line of work that in some cases saves lives but almost always remains invisible.

Uh-huh: Lactalis says no salmonella in baby milk at second production line

But what about that first production line?

That’s me and Madelynn in 1987, the photo I used for my science column (Madelynn is 31 and has a 5-year-old; our hair was, and still is fabulous; she went and saw the Grateful Dead when she was 6-weeks-old)

Channel News Asia reports that Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy group, on Friday (Nov 30) rejected media reports that salmonella had been detected in baby milk from a second production line at a French factory where contaminated milk led to dozens of babies falling ill last year.

The salmonella outbreak at the Craon plant in northwest France led Lactalis to recall millions of tins of baby milk in France and around the world, and drew criticism from politicians and consumer groups about a lack of transparency at the company, which is privately held by the Besnier family.

Oh, France.

Citing an internal report by French health authorities last December in the midst of the product recall, French media reported that two types of salmonella had been detected by Lactalis in products made in the second dryer at Craon.

The company denied this, saying in a statement that a sentence quoted by media was incorrect.

“We confirm that there was no positive test for salmonella in products from the dryer no. 2 before this dryer was halted in December 2017,” Lactalis said in its statement.

My five daughters were all breastfed, and I’m grateful for that. No formula ever touched their mouths.

Campy in puppies: Petland store faces 3rd lawsuit this year alleging it knowingly sold sick puppies

A Petland store in Michigan is facing its third lawsuit this year after a man said he was hospitalized after buying a puppy later found to be sick from the store.

Doug Rose said he became infected with Campylobacter — a multi-drug resistant infection — after he and his wife Dawn purchased Thor, a beagle-pug mix puppy that the couple said was infected with parasites, suffered from coccidia and giardia, and had an upper respiratory infection, The Oakland Press reported.

The couple said the same veterinary clinic that gave the dog a clean bill of health through the Petland in Novi also diagnosed the puppy with a number of ailments.

Symptoms of Campylobacter infections can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.

The couple is seeking monetary compensation after Doug Rose said he required multiple weeks of medical treatment.

Randy Horowitz, who owns the Petland in the Detroit suburb, told the newspaper the case would be resolved to “reflect the facts.”

lawsuit filed by 17 plaintiffs against Horowitz was dismissed earlier this year. The lawsuit alleged that Horowitz knowingly sold puppies suffered from genetic defects.

A lawsuit was filed in April by nine families alleging that puppies they purchased suffered from a number of medical issues.

Other pet owners have claimed puppies they purchased from that Petland location became sick.

In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results of a multi-state investigation that showed 113 cases of Campylobacter across 17 states linked to pet stores. A majority of people reported becoming sick after coming in contact with a puppy purchased from a Petland store or after coming in contact with another human who had recently purchased a dog from a Petland store.

Food safety confessional: Tell us your stories

I did not create this idea, nor will take credit (unlike lawyers, the credit belongs to Michele and Josh, just like the barfblog name belongs to Christian) but will run with it, using the barfblog forum.

Food safety professionals, we all know everyone messes up.

As we say in therapy, everyone has problems, especially the ones who think they don’t.

So rather than say food safety is simple, we’ve always said it’s hard.

And to show we’re all human, we professionals should confess to our failings (and like therapy, no last names will be used and establishing relationships is discouraged, and no physical contact with the counselliors).

I’ll start, e-mail yours to me or Chapman and we’ll get it posted.

I got religious about using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer for cooking about 2000, in the same way a reformed cigarette smoker is against cigs.

I didn’t like the religion. But there were times I was grilling and didn’t have a thermometer.

Usually I just cooked the shit (literally) out of it.

But I know there were occasions where I undercooked stuff, because of time and drunk pressures.

I also know I have left stock on the counter for days, creating a wonderful colony of Staph. Usually I throw it out, but not always, because I’m still a struggling grad student at heart, and would never turn down anything that was free.

Look forward to hearing from youse.

Own it: Gossip goes away

I knew I wouldn’t get into rehab Friday morning because I had been drinking at 3 a.m. in a vain attempt to go back to sleep.

Gotta blow zero to get into rehab, which I’ll do Monday.

But, as I said to one of my rehab buddies, whose life has spun out of control, yet he got 90% in the law courses he has taken, own it. Don’t be ashamed.

He said, I read your blog and it seems you had a falling out with Ben.

I said I’ve had a falling out with my wife of 13 years every week (she’s at hockey practice, 6 a.m. in Brisbane).

Ben, about the same.

Bad wiring.

Or, the people you are closest with and feel vulnerable enough to share your fears, are the ones to lash out at.

The produce industry needs a similar self-reckoning.

Candice Choi of APwrites that after repeated food poisoning outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce, the produce industry is confronting the failure of its own safety measures in preventing contaminations.

The E. coli outbreak announced just before Thanksgiving follows one in the spring that sickened more than 200 people and killed five, and another last year that sickened 25 and killed one. No deaths have been reported in the latest outbreak, but the dozens of illnesses highlight the challenge of eliminating risk for vegetables grown in open fields and eaten raw, the role of nearby cattle operations that produce huge volumes of manure and the delay of stricter federal food safety regulations.

A contested aspect of the regulation, for example, would require testing irrigation water for E. coli. The Food and Drug Administration put the measure on hold when the produce industry said such tests wouldn’t necessarily help prevent outbreaks. Additional regulations on sanitation for workers and equipment — other potential sources of contamination — only recently started being implemented.

We’ve been saying the same thing for over 20 years.