Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 196 sick from E. coli O103 linked to ground beef

The U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O103 infections linked to ground beef.

Ill people in this outbreak ate ground beef from many sources. Some ground beef has been recalled, but more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may still be on the market or in freezers.

Restaurants, retailers, and institutions should not sell or serve the following recalled ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O103 and could make people sick:

Grant Park Packing in Franklin Park, Ill., recalled 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 24, 2019.

Recalled products were sold in 40-lb. bulk cardboard boxes of “North Star Imports & Sales, LLC. 100% GROUND BEEF BULK 80% LEAN/ 20% FAT” marked “FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY” with lot code GP.1051.18 and pack dates 10/30/2018, 10/31/2018, and 11/01/2018.

Recalled products are labeled with establishment number “EST. 21781” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the boxes.

K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, in Carrollton, Ga., recalledexternal icon approximately 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 23, 2019.

Recalled products were sold in two 24-lb. vacuum-packed packages in cardboard boxes containing raw “GROUND BEEF PUCK” with “Use Thru” dates of 4/14/19, 4/17/19, 4/20/19, 4/23/19, 4/28/19, and 4/30/19.

Recalled products are labeled with establishment number “EST. 51308” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Investigators continue to trace other sources for ground beef eaten by ill people in this outbreak, and more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may be recalled.

Cook ground beef hamburgers and mixtures such as meatloaf to an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a food thermometer to make sure the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. You can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it.

For hamburgers, insert thermometer through the side of the patty until it reaches the middle.

(Piping hot doesn’t cut it, UK).

‘Contamination of wheat poses a foodborne illness risk’

Following up on Chapman’s coverage of the current outbreak of E. coli O26 in flour that has sickened at least 17 people, researchers have concluded that little information is available regarding microbial pathogens in wheat and wheat flour. Information about microbial pathogens in wheat is needed to develop effective methods to prevent foodborne illnesses caused by wheat products.

From 2012 to 2014, we conducted a baseline study to determine the prevalence and levels of pathogens in wheat samples taken before milling. A total of 5,176 wheat samples were tested for enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), Salmonella spp., Listeria spp., and L. monocytogenes. Positive samples were assayed for most probable numbers (MPNs), and isolates were fingerprinted by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The rate of detection of each pathogen tested was as follows: Salmonella was in 1.23% of the samples (average level of 0.110 MPN/g), EHECs occurred in 0.44% of the samples (0.039 MPN/g), and Listeria spp. occurred in 0.08% of samples (0.020 MPN/g), but L. monocytogenes was not detected.

The PFGE assessment found a high diversity for all organisms. All EHEC PFGE patterns (22 of 22) were unique, and 39 of 47 Salmonella patterns (83%) were unique. These results indicate a diverse background of naturally occurring organisms. These findings suggest that the microbial contamination is coming from diverse sources and provide no evidence in support of a specific pathogen load. Altogether, our surveillance study shows that contamination of wheat with pathogens is clearly evident and poses a foodborne illness risk.

Occurrence and levels of salmonella, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, and listeria in raw wheat

June 2019

Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 no. 6 pp. 1022-1027

Samuel Myoda, Stefanie Gilbreth, Deann Akins-Leventhal, Seana Davidson, and Mansour Samadpour

https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-345

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/full/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-345

Food safety in popular culture: Scripps Spelling Bee edition

Last night I was watching the Toronto Raptors play in their first NBA finals so I missed my annual viewing of the Scripps Spelling Bee. I’ve been hooked on the spelling drama since watching Spellbound in 2002.

Campylobacter was one of the words in this year’s competition. One of my food safety nerd friends sent me the below screenshot from Instagram.

I had campy back in 2009. It sucked.

Beware of the plume: Flour linked E. coli O26 outbreak, Aldi brands recalled

I used to be a lick-the-batter-off-the-spoon kind of guy. I stopped doing that a few years ago. I don’t eat raw cookie dough, or let my kids eat it. I’m probably not the most fun dad, but outbreaks like what is going on right now is why.

Courtesy of the Safe Plates Information Center and NC State Extension

According to CDC,

As of May 24, 2019, 17 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O26 have been reported from 8 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 11, 2018 to April 18, 2019. Ill people range in age from 7 to 86 years, with a median age of 23. Sixty-five percent of ill people are female. Of 17 people with information available, 3 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that flour is a likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of seven people who were interviewed, four (57%) reported eating, licking, or tasting raw, homemade dough or batter. Two people with detailed information reported eating raw dough or batter made with flour or baking mixes from ALDI.

Investigators with the Rhode Island Department of Health collected records and flour samples at a bakery where an ill person reported eating raw dough. Records indicated that the bakery used Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour from ALDI. The outbreak strain was isolated from an unopened bag of Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour collected at the bakery.

WGS results showed that the E. coli O26 strain identified in the Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour sample was closely related genetically to the E. coli O26 strain identified in ill people. These results provide additional evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating flour.

On May 23, 2019, ADM Milling Co. and Aldi recalled pdf icon[PDF – 142 KB]external icon 5 lb. bags of Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour sold at retail locations in the following states because they may be contaminated with E. coli: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachussetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia

I talked to Korin Miller at whattoexpect.com about this outbreak too, and the hidden risk factor in all of this might be cross-contamination.

It’s a good idea to take care when handling raw flour the same way as you would if you were preparing raw meat. That means washing your hands well after you touch it, sanitizing your countertops after you use it and not eating flour products until they’re thoroughly cooked, Chapman says.

Overall, you should definitely take this seriously. “It’s really, really risky to eat raw flour products,” Chapman says.

And I think about this every time I squeeze and plop down a bag of flour in my kitchen. The pathogens, if they are in there, get spread around like shrapnel.

FDA announces tattoo ink recalls due to microorganism contamination

There have been a few times in my life that I thought about getting a tattoo. When I was doing my undergrad in molecular biology and genetics, I often talked about getting a double helix on my shoulder. I didn’t.

More recently I’ve thought about getting a digital thermometer on each of my forearms. I haven’t yet.

FDA’s announcement of multiple tattoo inks contaminated with microbes has caused me to take pause again. But, like with food recalls I’m left with as many questions than answers: what microbes? How did they get contaminated? Is this a GMP issue? 

The FDA has become aware of contaminated tattoo inks through its FY2018-2019 inspections of distributors and manufacturers, routine surveys of marketed tattoo inks, and subsequent microbiological analysis of sampled tattoo inks. The FDA has identified 6 tattoo inks contaminated with bacteria harmful to human health. The tattoo inks were manufactured or distributed by 4 firms inspected under an ongoing assignment.

The following tattoo inks have been recalled because they are contaminated with microorganisms:

Scalpaink SC, Scalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black tattoo inks manufactured by Scalp Aesthetics (all lots)
Dynamic Color – Black tattoo ink manufactured by Dynamic Color Inc  (lots 12024090 and 12026090)
Solid Ink-Diablo (red) tattoo ink manufactured by Color Art Inc. (dba Solid Ink) (dba Antone’s Ink) (lot 10.19.18)

 

Food Safety Talk 177: Toilet as a Research Device

In this episode, the guys jump right into a discussion on why Ben is late and how bourbon, lead and the Indy 500 might all be connected (and have a food safety thread). The discussion goes to feedback on citrus slices; using AI for diets and journalism; and, farmers’ markets. Ben and Don go on to talk about cooking through slapping, the double turns out story of MSG and how magic temperatures get decided. The episode ends where it started – in the bathroom – with smart toilets and dumb soap dispensers. Oh, and a dirty, dirty salad robot.

You can download episode 177, Toilet as a Research Device here and on iTunes

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 6-year-old in France dies from E. coli

(Thanks to our French colleague, Albert, who forwarded this)

Matthew, a child “full of life, very intelligent despite his disability ” according to his mother, Angélique Gervraud, died February 22, 2019 at the Children’s Hospital of Bordeaux. He had been sick for more than a month after eating an undercooked burger at the beginning of January 2019 says his mom in a forum posted on his Facebook page.

It’s probably poorly cooked mince that has contaminated Matthew, his mom is sure. “Matthew only ate that,” she explains. Matthew developed haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) usually linked to shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

And because food safety is simple – that’s sarcasm, which the French may not get —  the transmission of the disease can be avoided by simple actions, which advises the site Public Health France:

  • Cook meat thoroughly and especially minced meat at over 65 ° C(The Ministry of Health published a note to the attention of the professionals of the collective catering from February 2007, with the appearance of the first cases)
  • Avoid giving raw lai, and cheeses made from raw milk to young children. Prefer baked or pasteurized pressed cheese
  • Always wash your hands before cooking
  • Keep cooked and raw foods separately
  • Consume quickly and well warmed leftover food.
  • Do not give untreated water to children or the elderly.

In 2017, 164 cases of HUS were reported in children under 15 years of age. There are a hundred in France in general every year.

26 infants sick in France from Salmonella linked to rice flour

My gluten-free partner – yes she has been diagnosed – means we eat brown rice flour (she prefers the white stuff).

Xinhua News Agency in Paris reports that 26 infants in France had been infected with Salmonella by eating rice flour for infants. Relevant products have been removed and recalled.

The Pasteur Institute of France has confirmed that 12 of these Salmonella-infected infants and young children belong to the same genome group. It is also analyzing 14 other infants and young children to determine whether they belong to the same genome group.

The 26 infants, including 18 boys and 8 girls, ranged in age from 2 months to 2 years at onset of symptoms. Between the end of August 2018 and January 27, 2019, these infants had diarrhea and 12 had been hospitalized for treatment. At present, all infants and young children have improved or recovered.

After investigation, it has been confirmed that the infants had eaten rice flour produced by the French Maudiak Group in Spain before infection. French public health authorities believe that the food is the source of Salmonella infection in infants and young children.

On Jan. 24 this year, the company announced the emergency removal of related products and recalled the sold products, listing 18 products to be recalled on its official website. On January 25, Lactaris Group of France issued a circular announcing the preventive recall of infant formula milk powder produced in Spain because it was produced in the same place as Maudiak Group.

Elderly woman dies of listeria infection as authorities warn thousands at risk

Anyone who authorizes feeding raw sprouts or cold colds to immunocompromised old people in hospitals is a microbiological moron and criminally negligent.

Paul Sakkal and Liam Mannix of The Age report a woman has died and thousands of people are at risk of listeria infection after the bacteria was detected in food from a south-east Melbourne catering company that supplies food to hospitals, aged care homes and Meals on Wheels.

The catering service I Cook Foods has been shut down after the woman, who was aged in her 80s and from the eastern suburbs, died in Knox Private Hospital on February 4.

Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the potentially contaminated food was in circulation until Thursday night, meaning people may have been eating the food on Friday morning.

“People who might’ve eaten it [on Thursday] or in recent weeks might still develop illness,” Dr Sutton said.

“Potentially thousands of people have been exposed.

“I don’t want to see any more [deaths].”

Six positive samples of listeria were found at the company’s Dandenong South kitchen during an investigation into the cause of the woman’s death over the past two weeks.

Offspring lead singer and chief songwriter, Dexter, has a PhD in microbiology.