1442 sick: Salmonella in red onions

Chapman and I went on a road tour of farms and processing plants in 2000, and I remember one dude saying we blanch all the produce except onions because they’ve never had an outbreak.

Ahem.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, between June and October 2020, federal and state agencies investigated a Salmonella Newport foodborne illness outbreak associated with consumption of red onions from the Southern San Joaquin Valley and Imperial Valley in California. The outbreak, which caused 1,127 reported domestic illnesses and 515 reported Canadian cases, is the largest Salmonella outbreak in over a decade. This outbreak is also remarkable because the food vehicle, whole red onions, is a raw agricultural commodity that had not been previously associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alongside state and federal partners, investigated the outbreak to identify potential contributing factors that may have led to red onion contamination with Salmonella Newport. While the Salmonella Newport outbreak strain (specific whole genome sequence [WGS]) was not identified in any of the nearly 2,000 subsamples tested, a total of 11 subsamples (10 water and 1 sediment) collected near one of the growing fields identified in the traceback were positive for Salmonella Newport, representing a total of three different genotypical strains (unique WGS patterns). Although a conclusive root cause could not be identified, several potential contributing factors to the 2020 red onion outbreak were identified, including a leading hypothesis that contaminated irrigation water used in a growing field in Holtville, California may have led to contamination of the onions.

While our investigation did not occur during any harvesting activities, visual observations of the implicated red onion growing fields suggested several plausible opportunities for contamination including irrigation water, sheep grazing on adjacent land, as well as signs of animal intrusion, such as scat and large flocks of birds which may spread contamination. Similarly, the investigation did not occur while packing activities were ongoing. However, visual observations and records review of packing house practices confirmed numerous opportunities for spread of foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, including signs of animal and pest intrusion as well as food contact surfaces which had not been inspected, maintained, cleaned, or sanitized as frequently as necessary to protect against the contamination of produce. Thomson International Inc. cooperated with FDA throughout the investigation and is continuing to engage with FDA on the agency’s findings and recommendations.

Notably, Salmonella isolates from two sediment subsamples and two water subsamples collected during this investigation were found to be genetically related by WGS to clinical isolates from 2016 and 2018 foodborne illness outbreaks (Salmonella Muenchen and Salmonella Montevideo, respectively) associated with consumption of sprouts. This may be indicative of human pathogen persistence and distribution in this growing region (a concentrated area of seed for sprouting production), which could pose a risk of contamination for any produce commodity. FDA issued an assignment to follow-up at the associated firms. Sprouts are not a food vehicle of interest in the 2020 Salmonella Newport foodborne illness outbreak.

We urge growers to conduct risk assessments that include evaluation of hazards that may be associated with adjacent and nearby land uses—especially relating to the presence of livestock and wildlife and the potential for runoff into growing fields or water sources—and implement risk mitigation strategies where appropriate. FDA recognizes the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment when it comes to public health outcomes, and we encourage collaboration among various groups in the broader agricultural community (e.g., produce growers, those managing animal operations, state and federal government agencies, and academia) to address this issue.

This document provides an overview of the traceback investigation, subsequent on-site investigation, and factors that potentially contributed to the contamination of red onions with Salmonella Newport.

Factors potentially contributing to the contamination of red onions implicated in the summer 2020 outbreak of Salmonella Newport

13.may.21

FDA

https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborne-pathogens/factors-potentially-contributing-contamination-red-onions-implicated-summer-2020-outbreak-salmonella

It came out of the sky: Salmonella infections in Europe

In recent months, more than three hundred cases of salmonellosis have occurred in various European countries and Canada, which are linked to each other. In the UK the cases could be partly traced back to frozen breaded poultry meat. The cause was contamination with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis, which causes gastrointestinal inflammation. Salmonella is not killed by deep freezing and can remain infectious at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the BfR are monitoring the situation together with the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). In Germany, the number of reported cases has currently risen to more than 20 in six federal states. In 2020, there were a total of about 10,000 reported cases of salmonellosis in Germany, most of which were caused by the consumption of contaminated food. In principle, foodborne infections can be avoided by paying particular attention to hygienic care when preparing raw poultry.

Due to the measures taken to contain the COVID 19 pandemic, people are currently cooking more often at home and, in the course of this, convenience products such as frozen goods are also being used more frequently. Sometimes it is not obvious at first glance whether such products contain pre-cooked or raw meat. Sufficient heating should always be ensured during preparation, especially of products containing raw poultry meat. In addition, bacterial contamination of other dishes via the raw meat and breading is possible. “Especially for children and elderly people there is a higher risk of getting sick from salmonella,” says BfR President Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.

Investigations by the official food monitoring authorities show that raw poultry and poultry meat products – including frozen products – can be contaminated with pathogens. In 2018, Salmonella was found in 5.6% of chicken meat samples examined and Campylobacter bacteria in every second sample. For this reason, the BfR encourages adherence to its recommendations on the handling and preparation of poultry and poultry products.

It is true that germs such as salmonella and campylobacter are killed during the preparation of poultry meat if the correspondingly high temperatures are reached during cooking. But by transferring these germs to hands, household utensils and kitchen surfaces, other food can become contaminated with these pathogens. If this contaminated food is not reheated before consumption, one can fall ill. Since salmonella can multiply in food at temperatures above 7 °C, there is a particular risk when eating food that is kept unrefrigerated for a long time, such as salads and desserts.

Therefore, the following general hygiene rules should be strictly followed when preparing raw poultry:

– Store and prepare raw poultry products and other foods separately, especially when the latter are not reheated

– Store fresh poultry at a maximum of +4 °C and process and consume until the use-by date.

– Defrost frozen poultry without packaging in the refrigerator (cover and place in a bowl to collect the defrost water).

– Dispose packaging materials carefully and discard defrost water immediately.

– Do not wash poultry, as the splashing water can spread germs; it is better to process it directly or dab it with a paper towel, which should be disposed of directly.

– Utensils and surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry products or defrost water must be cleaned thoroughly with warm water and washing-up liquid before further use.

– Clean hands thoroughly with warm water and soap between each preparation step.

163 sick: CDC investigating new outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry

A CDC investigation notice regarding multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections has been posted: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-05-21/index.html

Key points:

CDC and public health officials in several states are investigating multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with backyard poultry.

There have been 163 people reported ill from 43 states.

34 people were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The true number of sick people is likely much higher than the reported number, as many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella.

One-third of sick people are young children under 5 years.

Interviews with sick people show that contact with backyard poultry is the likely source of the outbreaks.

Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean. These germs can easily spread in areas where they live and roam.

Whether you are building your first coop or are a seasoned backyard poultry owner, know the risks of keeping poultry and the simple things you can do to stay healthy.

Steps to stay healthy around backyard poultry:

Always wash your hands for 20 seconds after touching the flock or flock supplies.

Keep flock and flock supplies outside the house to prevent spreading germs into your house.

Don’t let children younger than 5 years touch the birds (including chicks and ducklings) or anything in the area where the birds live and roam.

Don’t kiss or snuggle the birds, as this can spread germs to your mouth and make you sick.

36 sick: Salmonella braenderup outbreak in Sweden grows, part of international outbreak

Outbreak News reports that aIn a follow-up on the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak in Sweden, the Swedish Public Health Agency now reports a total of 36 confirmed outbreak cases reported from 13 different regions during the period 4 April to 15 May.

The cases of the disease are in the ages 0-95 years and 29 of the patients are women. The cases have been linked using whole genome sequencing (analysis of the bacterium’s genome).

The outbreak is international as several countries in Europe have identified cases of the same variant of salmonella. The source of infection is suspected to be a food that has been widely distributed both in Sweden and abroad.

The affected infection control units, municipalities, the National Food Administration and the Swedish Public Health Agency jointly investigate the outbreak at national level, while collaboration at international level is handled by the central authorities and coordinated by the European Anti-Infection Authority ECDC.

Warning not to eat certain melons due to salmonella contamination in UK

Buyers have been warned to get rid of melons sold this week in UK supermarkets, after certain types of fruit have been linked to cases of salmonella.

The Food Standards Agency issued an alert saying that “a large number” of stores were stocking the affected fruit, advising anyone who purchased it to wash their hands and affected surfaces thoroughly.

Customers should be able to identify potentially risky melons with stickers on the fruit, the agency added.

The possible source of several recent cases of salmonella in the UK is believed to be whole honeydew, cantaloupe and galia melons originating in Costa Rica, Honduras or Brazil.

These are likely to have been purchased by buyers on or before May 28, 2021.

The Food Standards Agency said: “If consumers are unsure of the country of origin of their galia, cantaloupe or honeydew melon, they are advised to discard the fruit as a precaution. “

The melons have been withdrawn from sale in stores, the agency added.

 

You see a flock of seagulls (songbirds) I see a pile of Salmonella

I knew that birdshit was a microbiological risk.

And there’s the yuck factor.

Jesus Jimenez of the New York Times writes a salmonella outbreak linked to contact with wild songbirds and bird feeders has sickened 19 people across eight states, eight of whom have been hospitalized, federal health authorities said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating salmonella infections in California, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington State in people ranging in age from 2 months to 89 years old.

Six cases were reported in Washington and five in Oregon. No deaths have been reported.

Public health officials across the country interviewed 13 of the people who were infected and asked them about animals they had come in contact with a week before they became ill, the C.D.C. said. Nine said they owned a bird feeder, and two reported they had come into contact with a sick or dead bird. Ten people said they had pets that had access to or contact with wild birds, the agency said.

To prevent further cases, the C.D.C. recommends cleaning bird feeders and bird baths once a week or when they are dirty. People should avoid feeding wild birds with their bare hands, and should wash their hands with soap and water after touching a bird feeder or bath, or after handling a bird.

And why 1980s music sucked.

Backyard chickens and pathogen spread

Food Online reports that keeping backyard chickens was already on the rise, and the hobby has become even more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a University of Georgia researcher cautions that the practice has risks not just for chickens, but for wildlife and people as well.

“As a researcher who studies pathogen movement along different groups, I see backyard chickens as a potential interface where pathogens can spill over into wild birds, or vice versa, and even into people,” said Sonia Hernandez, professor of wildlife disease at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Owners need to seek information and medical care for their animals to minimize those risks.”

Hernandez and first author Andrea Ayala published their comprehensive review of pathogen transmission at the backyard chicken-wild bird interface in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Ayala, now a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University, earned a Ph.D. in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Comparative Biomedical Sciences program.

The most well-known pathogen carried by chickens is salmonella, and almost everyone is aware of it, said Hernandez. That’s due to public education and outreach efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health agencies.

Food is the source for most of the estimated 1.35 million salmonella infections in people every year in the United States, according to the CDC. Most people who get ill from salmonella experience diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, but there are 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths every year.

“They’re trying to stay on top of salmonella in backyard chickens because they have seen an explosion of salmonellosis in people as a result of this recent popularity of keeping chickens,” she said. “It can become especially dangerous if you mix little chickens with little people—young chickens that are shedding a lot of salmonella with small kids that don’t have the best hygiene practices.”
Ayala identified a number of practices that backyard chicken owners can implement to reduce the risk of pathogen emergence:

  • keeping backyard chicken feeders where only chickens can reach them getting rid of wild bird feeders;
  • using mesh small enough to prevent wild birds from interacting with chickens removing contaminated water sources, insects and rodents;
  • maintaining good hygiene—changing footwear, for example—when visiting different flocks; and,
  • limiting the number of visitors.

“As backyard chickens become more common, the interactions between wild birds and backyard chickens are also likely to increase,” Ayala said. “Wild birds are attracted to food, water and shelter, and backyard chickens provide all three.”

The researchers’ concerns and recommendations won’t be a surprise to people who are familiar with raising chickens, especially commercial growers, who are very aware of rules from agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture that oversee animal health, according to Hernandez.

“The people who will find it the most surprising are newcomers, who get a few chickens as a hobby and have never really thought about the health of their chickens, their own health, and the impact that chickens can have on their environment,” she said.

As Hernandez and Ayala document in their paper, it is well established that backyard chickens may serve as pathogen reservoirs to the commercial poultry industry and that the most likely mechanism of spillover involves wild birds. Perhaps the best documented example of a bacterial pathogen transmission from chickens to wild birds is Mycoplasma gallisepticum, a bacterium that causes chronic respiratory illness in chickens, which spilled over from poultry in 1994 into house finches and rapidly became endemic in North American passerine species.

The U.S. has experienced outbreaks of both Newcastle disease and avian influenza, including an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the winter of 2016-17 that involved several backyard operations, Hernandez said.

Food safety types investigate multistate foodborne illness outbreak from possible turkey products

A new foodborne illness outbreak taking place in multiple states is, according to Food Safety Magazine, being investigated by federal officials, with turkey products identified as the likely source.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service indicated the cause of the outbreak in its investigation table as “Salmonella Hadar, turkey suspect.”

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokeswoman confirmed that the CDC is investigating the outbreak. As of March 15, there have been 22 patients reported across nine states. 

Turkey has been the source of food poisoning outbreaks in the United States in both 2018 and 2019 investigations, involving Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Schwarzengrund, respectively. According to the CDC, the 2019 Salmonella outbreak sickened at least seven people in three states.

The 2018 outbreak involved at least 358 people in the United States who became sick, across 42 states. One death was confirmed, and the illnesses were linked to raw human and pet foods from many sources, including Jennie-O turkey, which recalled some of its products. At the same time in 2018, Canadian officials investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Reading linked to poultry products. Testing showed the same strain on both side of the U.S./Canada border.

Norway salmonella outbreak strain detected in imported beef from Germany

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has, according to Outbreak News Today, in collaboration with the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, detected Salmonella enteritidis with the outbreak profile in a batch of beef imported from Germany.

The imported batch of beef is used for, among other things, chop dough. This product has been withdrawn from the market. Some of the imported batch of beef has also been sold to other companies and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority is still working to trace this.

This agrees well with the information we have from the cases that have so far been interviewed, where several state that they have tasted raw chop dough, says doctor Hilde Marie Lund.

I would also like to remind you of the importance of frying chop dough and minced meat as an important preventive piece of advice, adds doctor Hilde Marie Lund.

Of the total of 22 cases, 19 have so far been detected in the Salmonella enteritidis outbreak strain. For 3 of the cases, we are awaiting a final confirmation, but preliminary analyzes indicate that these belong to the outbreak. In addition, we are awaiting analysis of one case.

New study from space station looks at human cells infected with Salmonella

In a new study published in the journal npj Microgravity, scientists and astronauts conducted experiments with human cells and pathogens to see how the two would change and interface differently in a low-gravity environment. The researchers used the microbial species salmonella typhimurium to infect human cells in controlled experiments on Earth and on the International Space Station.

Chia-Yi Hou of Changing America writes the researchers found that there were changes in RNA and protein expression in the human cells in a microgravity environment. They also found that salmonella was able to cause the human cells to upregulate — increase the rate or level of — expression of compounds that would help fight an infection in both cells that were inflight and on the ground.

Inflight cells upregulated genes that were associated with inflammation, one of the human body’s mechanisms for fighting pathogens. Other genes that are related to virulence or stress regulators were also upregulated in the cells in space compared to the cells on the ground.