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. »

CDC reports 641 cases of Cyclospora linked to recalled salad mixes nationwide

Since the last case count update on July 9, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 132 new laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections have been reported, including 16 from three new states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

As of  July 22, 2020, a total of 641 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections associated with this outbreak have been reported from 11 states: Georgia (1), Illinois (198), Iowa (195), Kansas (5), Minnesota (73), Missouri (57) Nebraska (55), North Dakota (6), Pennsylvania (2), South Dakota (13) and Wisconsin (36). The ill person from Georgia purchased and ate a bagged salad product while traveling in Missouri.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11, 2020 to July 5, 2020. Ill people range in age from 10 to 92 years with a median age of 59 and 52% are female. Of 636 people with available information, 37 people (6%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 4 to 6 weeks. If the number of cases reported by CDC is different from the number reported by state or local health officials, data reported by local jurisdictions should be considered the most up to date. Any differences may be due to the timing of reporting and website updates.

This investigation is ongoing.

The CDC says that it is specifically examining salad ingredients (iceberg lettuce, carrots, red cabbage) for the purposes of its investigation. The affected products include salad mixes made by Fresh Express, Hy-Vee Inc., Little Salad Bar, Signature Farms, Marketside and Hy-Vee. The products were sold at ALDI, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, ShopRite, and Walmart locations.

The products were manufactured in Streamwood, Illinois at a Fresh Express production facility.

“Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the Cyclospora parasite,” the CDC says. “A person may become infected after ingesting contaminated food or water. Common symptoms include severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, body aches and fatigue. The infection is treated with antibiotics and most people respond quickly to treatment.”

Specifically, the CDC says the products with a Z178 code or lower and “Best by” date that runs through July 14, 2020 are the ones potentially affected by the contamination.

However, only Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin have reported cases of Cyclospora related to eating the salad mix. According to the CDC, the dates of the illness range from May 11, 2020 to July 5, 2020, with 37 people hospitalized as of Friday. Patients are ages 10 to 92 years with a median age of 59 years as of Friday’s data. No related deaths have been reported. People can go 4 to 6 weeks before noticing any symptoms of Cyclospora, the CDC says.

Write down what you ate in the two weeks before you started to get sick.

Report your illness to the health department.

Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

The CDC issued its recall warnings June 19, and Giant Eagle issued a recall on its Fresh Express products on June 29.

On June 27, 2020, Fresh Express Fresh Express brand and private label brand salad products produced at its Streamwood, IL facility that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and/or carrots due to possible Cyclospora contamination.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora infections occurring in three Canadian provinces. Exposure to certain Fresh Express brand salad products containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage, has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak.

  • Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express is a likely source of this outbreak.
  • CDC and FDA continue to investigate to determine which ingredient or ingredients in the salad mix was contaminated and whether other products are a source of illnesses.
  • CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

Salmonella and poultry food safety

Salmonella is a leading cause of foodborne illness (i.e., salmonellosis) outbreaks, which on occasion are attributed to ground turkey. The poultry industry uses Salmonella prevalence as an indicator of food safety. However, Salmonella prevalence is only one of several factors that determine risk of salmonellosis. Consequently, a model for predicting risk of salmonellosis from individual lots of ground turkey as a function of Salmonella prevalence and other risk factors was developed.

Data for Salmonella contamination (prevalence, number, and serotype) of ground turkey were collected at meal preparation. Scenario analysis was used to evaluate effects of model variables on risk of salmonellosis. Epidemiological data were used to simulate Salmonella serotype virulence in a dose‐response model that was based on human outbreak and feeding trial data. Salmonella prevalence was 26% (n = 100) per 25 g of ground turkey, whereas Salmonella number ranged from 0 to 1.603 with a median of 0.185 log per 25 g. Risk of salmonellosis (total arbitrary units (AU) per lot) was affected (p ≤ 0.05) by Salmonella prevalence, number, and virulence, by incidence and extent of undercooking, and by food consumption behavior and host resistance but was not (p > 0.05) affected by serving size, serving size distribution, or total bacterial load of ground turkey when all other risk factors were held constant. When other risk factors were not held constant, Salmonella prevalence was not correlated (r = −0.39; p = 0.21) with risk of salmonellosis. Thus, Salmonella prevalence alone was not a good indicator of poultry food safety because other factors were found to alter risk of salmonellosis. In conclusion, a more holistic approach to poultry food safety, such as the process risk model developed in the present study, is needed to better protect public health from foodborne pathogens like Salmonella .

Salmonella prevalence alone is not a good indicator of poultry food safety, 20 July 2020

Risk Analysis

Thomas Oscar

https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13563

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/risa.13563?af=R

As parasites might in your blood

Human Parasitic Diseases: A Diagnostic Atlas is a comprehensive and invaluable resource for parasitologists, microbiologists, pathologists, and infectious disease practitioners. Lawrence R. Ash, PhD, and Thomas C. Orihel, PhD, have curated a beautiful photographic series of common and rare parasites shown in tissue, blood, feces, and free-living forms. Organized by phylum, genera, and species, this book provides detailed yet practical assistance in identifying and diagnosing human parasitic diseases. Each section starts with a brief overview of the epidemiology, life cycle, transmission, and clinical manifestations of the parasite, detailed enough to orient the reader to the clinical relevance of the pathogen without distracting from its macroscopic and microscopic diagnostic features. The authors provide up-to-date references of each parasite’s clinical manifestations and diagnostic procedures.

In addition to the beautiful, high-quality photomicrographs, the authors supplement the book with detailed diagrams clarifying the key microscopic diagnostic features. These details enable the reader to differentiate between closely related parasites.

This book offers many unique aspects. First, the authors provide multiple images comparing subtle differences in the appearance of the same parasite, which will reassure anyone who has struggled to identify a blood smear of a parasite that does not quite fit the textbook example. These images emphasize the subtlety of microscopic identification and pattern recognition. Second, this atlas emphasizes the appearance of parasites in histologic findings and tissue. The authors acknowledge the difficulty of making a histologic diagnosis on the basis of fragments of larger parasites or those that have degenerated in tissues. Third, the book contains a 1911 Arthur Looss quote emphasizing the interconnectedness of animal and human parasites and highlighting the need to consider animal pathogens that have rarely infected humans. This perspective is relevant in a world with increasingly immunosuppressed patients and unprecedented levels of travel and global trade. Therefore, this book is a compelling reference volume for pathologists and microbiology or clinical infectious disease training programs.

Particularly useful for today’s clinical infectious diseases practitioners is the last section of the book, which covers artifacts for which macroscopic or microscopic appearance could be easily confused even by an experienced pathologist. This section is a helpful reminder of the diagnostic challenges facing clinicians seeing patients who believe they have an infestation but in whom no parasite can be found.

I will certainly use this atlas as a reference and training guide and will most likely browse through its pages before recertification examinations. Any reader with an inclination towards parasitology will appreciate the authors and their colleagues’ fascinating careers in this field.

Human Parasitic Diseases: A diagnostic atlas, August 2020

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 26 no. 8

Lawrence Ash & Thomas Orihel

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/8/20-0270_article?deliveryName=USCDC_331-DM33397

A way to get rid of Salmonella off peppercorns

A nonthermal process that applies ultraviolet (UV)–C and helium cold plasma (CP) simultaneously (UV-CP) has been investigated as an intervention technology to inactivate Salmonella on black peppercorns.

The optimum CP treatment voltage and UV-CP treatment time for inactivating Salmonella on black peppercorns were predicted using a model equation as 9.7 kV and 22.1 min, respectively, which non-thermally inactivated Salmonella by 3.7 log CFU/g. UV-CP treatment yielded a stronger bactericidal activity than UV treatment alone, without inducing photoreactivation. In addition, UV-CP-induced reactive species similar to those found in individual UV and CP treatments. Furthermore, UV-CP treatment caused a profound deformation of Salmonella morphology and a greater extent of DNA damage than UV or CP treatment did alone. UV-CP treatment did not alter the color or 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radical scavenging activity; however, it lowered the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging activity and piperine concentration in the peppercorns. The findings of this study demonstrate the potential application of UV-CP treatment for decontamination of black peppercorns.

Inactivation of salmonella on black peppercorns using an integrated ultraviolet-C and cold plasma intervention, 23 July 2020

Food Control

In Hee Bang1, Jiwon In1, Sea C.Min

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2020.107498

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095671352030414X

How much fun is John Fogarty having with his kids?

Food fraud is new mob; Illegal horsemeat seized from slaughterhouses in Ireland

Horsemeat has been seized in raids on slaughterhouses in Ireland as part of a huge international operation targeting food fraud.

Live animals and more than 17t of horsemeat were seized from several slaughterhouses in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Inspections of the slaughterhouses found that about 20% of the foreign passports used for these horses showed signs of forgery.

 Competition horses with forged documents were also sent to slaughterhouses.

Europol supported national authorities in the clampdown on the “dangerous criminal trend” of illegal horsemeat, which was led by Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The raids were part of Opson 2020, a six-month operation by Europol and Interpol which targeted trafficking of counterfeit and substandard food and drink.

Reducing the risk of illness from listeria after Tauranga, NZ cases reported

The New Zealand Herald reports Toi Te Ora Public Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are reminding the public of the recommended food safety measures to reduce any risk from the bacteria.

“Listeria is a bacteria that can occasionally contaminate food and cause illness which can be serious for those with poor immunity and also pregnant women,” Toi Te Ora Public Health medical officer of health Dr Neil de Wet said.

“Our investigations include determining what the cases may have eaten in order to identify any common risk factors or food that may be the source of infection.”

MPI compliance director Gary Orr said if there was a link identified between these cases and the food supply chain, immediate action would be taken to ensure public safety.

People who are at risk of more serious illness from listeria include pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborn babies, people with weakened immune systems and elderly people, especially if they have poor health.

While detailed investigations are underway and a source of infection for these recently notified cases is not yet clear, and often a source is not able to be identified for individual cases, it is a timely reminder that people who are in an at-risk group should avoid certain foods.

These foods include:
uncooked, smoked or ready-to-eat fish or seafood, including oysters, prawns, sashimi or sushi.
paté, hummus and tahini-based dips and spreads.
cold pre-cooked chicken.
processed meats including ham and all other chilled pre-cooked meat products including chicken, salami and other fermented or dried sausages.
pre-prepared, pre-packaged or stored salads (including fruit salads) and coleslaw
raw (unpasteurised) milk and any food that contains unpasteurised milk.
soft-serve ice creams.
soft, semi-soft or surface-ripened soft cheese (for example, brie, camembert, feta, ricotta, roquefort).

Tesco shopper ‘vomited for 12 hours after biting into dead mouse in tray bake’

Sounds gross, hard to verify.

Tesco shopper has claimed she became physically sick for several hours after she found a dead mouse in an Italian chicken tray bake.

Cath McCall Smith, from Durham, said she felt unwell after she bit into the £3.75 teatime treat and claimed she found the rodent’s body inside.

The 57-year-old at first thought she had gnawed a piece of bone – but soon learned it was, in fact, the corpse of a dead mouse.

Ms Smith told The Sun: “I thought I had hit a bit of bone. I moved the chicken around and was horrified when she looked down and found the mouse.

“I’ve been sick for 12 hours. I’m still a bit unwell.”

A spokesman for Tesco told the publication: “We take all customer complaints very seriously and are carrying out a full investigation into what happened here.”

Daily Star Online has approached Tesco for comment.

Everyone’s got a camera: Pizza Hut Toronto version

Blog TO reports Pizza Hut Canada has confirmed they have dealt with the situation of unsanitary food practices at a specific restaurant location in Scarborough.

A customer at the pizza chain witnessed an employee refilling a tray of cheese in an unsanitary way and happened to capture the act on video.

Facebook user Corina Somers was at the Pizza Hut in Parkway mall on Ellesmere Road in Scarborough weeks ago, and noticed an employee refilling the cheese container without gloves on.

She posted the video on Facebook with the caption, “Pizza Hut Parkway mall on Victoria Park and Ellesmere. Share The sh*t out of it so people are aware of it.”

“She has the container right on the floor and dumping the cheese and touching the bag and then touching the cheese with her hand,” Somers wrote in the comments of her video. “The containers shouldn’t be on the floor, (they) should be on the counter.”

Her video has since been flooded with comments and has nearly 700 shares and Somers wrote in the comments that she reported the incident and also spoke to a public health inspector.

Speed at the sound of lonliness

I’m still troubled the world lost such a gifted and incisive songwriter as John Prine to coronavirus.

And I’m lonely, because I live downstairs.

Social distancing and “stay-at-home” orders are essential to contain the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), but there is concern that these measures will increase feelings of loneliness, particularly in vulnerable groups. The present study examined change in loneliness in response to the social restriction measures taken to control the coronavirus spread.

A nationwide sample of American adults (N 1,545; 45% women; ages 18 to 98, M 53.68, SD 15.63) was assessed on three occasions: in late January/early February 2020 (before the outbreak), in late March (during the President’s initial “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign), and in late April (during the “stay-at-home” policies of most states). Contrary to expectations, there were no significant mean-level changes in loneliness across the three assessments (d .04, p .05). In fact, respondents perceived increased support from others over the follow-up period (d .19, p .01). Older adults reported less loneliness overall compared to younger age groups but had an increase in loneliness during the acute phase of the outbreak (d .14, p.05). Their loneliness, however, leveled off after the issuance of stay

Trajectory of loneliness in response to COVID-19, 2020

American Psychological Association

Martina Luchetti, Ji Hyun Lee, Damaris Aschwanden, Amanda Sesker, Jason E. Strickhouser, Antonio Terracciano, and Angelina R. Sutin

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000690

This sounds cool (except for the cancer bit): Four-stranded DNA exists and may play a role in cancer

The formation of four-stranded DNA has been tracked in living human cells, allowing scientists to see how it works, and its possible role in cancer.

DNA usually forms the classic double helix shape discovered in 1953 – two strands wound around each other. Several other structures have been formed in test tubes, but this does not necessarily mean they form within living cells.

Quadruple helix structures, called DNA G-quadruplexes (G4s), have previously been detected in cells. However, the technique used required either killing the cells or using high concentrations of chemical probes to visualize G4 formation, so their actual presence within living cells under normal conditions has not been tracked, until now.

A research team from the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and Leeds University have invented a fluorescent marker that is able to attach to G4s in living human cells, allowing them to see for the first time how the structure forms and what role it plays in cells.
The study is published today in Nature Chemistry.