Organic basil recalled due to Cyclospora risk

I keep telling people that certain fresh herbs – like basil – are a ridiculously high percentage of foodborne illnesses.

They look at me like I just fell off the truck.

Sure, I walk with a cane now because I fall too much, but not off trucks.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) is initiating a voluntary recall of a limited quantity of Wild Harvest® Organic Basil distributed out of UNFI’s Hopkins, MN distribution center to select retailers in Minnesota between 4/18/2020-5/8/2020. UNFI’s recall is issued out of an abundance of caution because of the potential for the impacted product to be contaminated by Cyclospora cayetanensis. No illnesses, including allergic reactions, involving this product have been reported to date.

This recall includes Wild Harvest® Organic Fresh Basil products sold in .25oz, .75oz, 2oz, and 4oz plastic clam shell containers (UPCs: 0071153550450, 0071153550322, 0071153550762, 0071153550323). Impacted product can be identified by a white sticker with black ink on the back of the container stating: “Product of Colombia” and “112.”

This concern was identified following routine sampling. Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic parasite that can cause an intestinal illness in people called cyclosporiasis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness is usually not life threatening. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis may include: watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Other symptoms that may occur but are less common include vomiting and low-grade fever.

Good year for Cyclospora bad year for humans: 205 sick linked to Mexican basil in latest outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections linked to fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico.

CDC is advising that consumers do not eat or serve any fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated when more information is available.

Consumers who have fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico, in their homes should not eat it. Throw the basil away, even if some has been eaten and no one has gotten sick.

Do not eat salads or other dishes that include fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico. This includes dishes garnished or prepared with fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico, such as salads or fresh pesto.

If you aren’t sure the fresh basil you bought is from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don’t eat the fresh basil. Throw it out.

Wash and sanitize places where fresh basil was stored: countertops and refrigerator drawers or shelves.

The FDA strongly advises importers, suppliers, and distributors, as well as restaurants, retailers, and other food service providers to not sell, serve or distribute fresh basil imported from Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. If you are uncertain of the source, do not sell, serve or distribute the fresh imported basil.

Two hundred and five people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclosporainfections and who reported eating fresh basil have been reported from 11 states; exposures occurred at restaurants in 5 states (Florida, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 10, 2019 to July 18, 2019.

Five people have been hospitalized. No deaths attributed to Cyclospora have been reported in this outbreak.

Epidemiologic evidence and early product distribution information indicate that fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico is a likely source of this outbreak.

2019 Outbreak of Cyclospora infections linked to fresh basil from Mexico



Outbreak investigation of Cyclospora illness linked to imported fresh basil, July 2019



Sweet summer basil with Salmonella

I love fresh basil.

Last night we had barramundi fillets, grilled in a garlic-butter-olive oil-lemon-and-basil coating that was delicious.

Unfortunately, the fucking possums in this country also like my basil and are helping themselves to it, bottom up.

They don’t care for the mint (in the background, and yes, that is our view from the deck).

Maybe we should stop feeding the cats so they will become a little more aggressive about chasing away the possums.

In New Zealand, they poison possums.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Three Dolphins Wholesale is recalling L.A. Lucky brand Sweet Basil Seed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.

The following product has been sold from Three Dolphins Wholesale, 4801 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia.

L.A. Lucky Sweet Basil Seed, 60g, UPC 8 20678 201697, Codes: all units sold from October 1, 2015 up to and including May 25, 2017

This recall was triggered by a recall in another country. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Basil as a source of foodborne illness

I’ve got a recipe for mango-basil-ginger pork that I’m going to try out for dinner shortly before my hockey game (and to deal with some left-over pork loin).

mango.parisAnd it’s mango season here. Sorenne’s new favorite fruit.

The problem is, basil has been implicated in a number of microbe-associated foodborne illnesses across the world, and the source of contamination has often been traced back to the production and/or processing stages of the supply chain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the microbiological quality of fresh basil from the point of production to the retail outlet in the Gauteng and Northwest Provinces of South Africa.

A total of 463 samples were collected over a 3-month period from two large-scale commercial herb producing and processing companies and three retail outlets. The microbiological quality of the samples was assessed based on the presence or absence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium and the levels of the indicator bacteria E. coli and total coliforms. 

Salmonella Typhimurium was detected on four basil samples (0.9%) arriving at the processing facility and at dispatch, but no E. coli O157:H7 was detected throughout the study. Total coliform counts were 0.4 to 4.1 CFU/g for basil, 1.9 to 3.4 log CFU/ml for water, and 0.2 to 1.7 log CFU/cm2 for contact surfaces, whereas E. coli was detected in the water samples and only once on basil. The Colilert-18 and membrane filter methods were used to analyze water samples, and a comparison of results revealed that the Colilert-18 method was more sensitive.

Strong evidence suggests that high numbers of coliforms do not necessarily indicate the presence of Salmonella Typhimurium. The study results highlight the importance of effective implementation of food safety management systems in the fresh produce industry.

I’m cooking mine.

Microbiological status and food safety compliance of commercial basil production systems

Journal of Food Protection, January 2016, No. 1, pp. 4-178, pp. 43-50(8)


Willeke  de Bruin, Denise Otto, Lise Korsten

Bugs survive during storage: Prevent E. coli

The survival of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on strawberries, basil leaves, and other leafy greens (spinach leaves, lamb and butterhead lettuce leaves, baby leaves, and fresh-cut iceberg lettuce) was assessed at cold (<7°C) and ambient temperatures. All commodities were spot inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella to obtain an initial inoculum of 5 to 6 log and 4 to 5 log CFU/g for strawberries and leafy greens, respectively. Samples were air packed. Strawberries were stored at 4, 10, 15, and 22°C and basil leaves and other leafy greens at 7, 15, and 22°C for up to 7 days (or less if spoiled before).

basil.salmonellaBoth Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 showed a gradual decrease in numbers if inoculated on strawberries, with a similar reduction observed at 4, 10, and 15°C (2 to 3 log after 5 days). However, at 15°C (and 10°C for E. coli O157:H7), the survival experiment stopped before day 7, as die-off of both pathogens below the lower limit of detection was achieved or spoilage occurred.

At 22°C, strawberries were moldy after 2 or 4 days. At that time, a 1- to 2-log reduction of both pathogens had occurred. A restricted die-off (on average 1.0 log) and increase (on average , 0.5 log) of both pathogens on basil leaves occurred after 7 days of storage at 7 and 22°C, respectively. On leafy greens, a comparable decrease as on basil was observed after 3 days at 7°C. At 22°C, both pathogens increased to higher numbers on fresh-cut iceberg and butterhead lettuce leaves (on average 1.0 log), probably due to the presence of exudates. However, by using spot inoculation, the increase was rather limited, probably due to minimized contact between the inoculum and cell exudates.

Avoiding contamination, in particular, at cultivation (and harvest or postharvest) is important, as both pathogens survive during storage, and strawberries, basil, and other leafy green leaves are consumed without inactivation treatment.

Survival of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on strawberries, basil, and other leafy greens during storage

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 4, April 2015, pp. 636-858, pp. 652-660(9)

Delbeke, Stefanie; Ceuppens, Siele; Jacxsens, Liesbeth; Uyttendaele, Mieke

Survival of Salmonella on basil plants and in pesto

Yesterday at the school tuck shop, we made 280 sushi rolls (I cooked the chicken but felt naked without my misplaced thermometer, Chapman is mailing me more) 70 sausage rolls and 10 orders of pesto pasta.

basil.salmonellaThe pesto is part of the garden-to-kitchen initiative. I have my food safety concerns about such things but am trying to not alienate all the parent volunteers at once.

They got messages about handwashing and rice storage this week.

And I was also in charge of prepping the pesto pasta, so I made sure it was heated.

But, as reported by Eckner et. al, leafy greens, including fresh herbs, have repeatedly been involved in outbreaks of foodborne disease. Although much effort has been put into studying leafy greens and products such as head lettuce and baby leaves, less is known about fresh leafy herbs, such as basil.

The goal of this study was to investigate the survival of Salmonella on basil plants and in pesto. A mix of three Salmonella strains (Reading, Newport, and Typhimurium) was inoculated onto basil leaves and pesto and survived during the experimental period.

Whereas the mix of Salmonella survived in pesto stored at 4°C for 4 days, Salmonella was recovered from inoculated leaves for up to 18 days at 20 to 22°C. Although the steady decline of Salmonella on leaves and in pesto suggests a lack of growth, it appears that pesto is a hostile environment for Salmonella because the rate of decline in pesto was faster (0.29 log CFU/g/day) than on leaves (0.11 log CFU/g/day).

pesto.basil.cyclosporaThese findings suggest that the dilution of contaminated ingredients and the bactericidal effect of the pesto environment helped to further reduce the level of enteric organisms during storage, which may have applications for food safety.

Survival of Salmonella on basil plants and in pesto


Journal of Food Protection®, Number 2, February 2015, pp. 240-476, pp. 402-406(5)

Eckner, Karl F.; Høgåsen, Helga R.; Begum, Mumtaz; økland, Marianne; Cudjoe, Kofitsyo S., Johannessen, Gro S.

Nosestretcher alert: ‘no salmonella on basil from decent companies’

Research from earlier this month from a bio-scientist from Gent University shows that certain intestinal bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, can survive at 22 degrees on basil leaves and therefore can cause health risks.

basil.salmonellaAccording to John Van Laethem who is manager of Bell’aroma, a Belgian herb importer, this study is correct, but he quickly explains saying, “Consumers can rest easy because the lab conditions where this was tested were not using common practices.”

Van Laethem explained that after the plants were infected under lab conditions, tests were run using three different storing temperatures: 7°, 15° and 22°C. Only at 22°C did the Salmonella survive. Salmonella was completely killed off when stored at 7° and 15°. So as you can see these are conditions that you do not normally encounter.”

Come to sub-tropical Brisbane (that’s in Australia) and I can show you lots of basil at 22C.

46 sickened; Shigella outbreak traced to imported basil in Norway, 2011

While the U.S. extends a comment period for something about improving spice safety (raw herbs have been a known food safety risk for decades), Norway reports on a 2011 outbreak of Shigella sonnei linked to basil that sickened at least 46 people updating previous reports.

On 9 October 2011, the University Hospital of North Norway alerted the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) about an increase in Shigella sonnei infections in Tromsø. The isolates had an identical ‘multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis’ (MLVA) profile. basil.salmonellaMost cases had consumed food provided by delicatessen X. On 14 October, new S. sonnei cases with the same MLVA-profile were reported from Sarpsborg, south-eastern Norway. An outbreak investigation was started to identify the source and prevent further cases. All laboratory-confirmed cases from both clusters were attempted to be interviewed.

In addition, a cohort study was performed among the attendees of a banquet in Tromsø where food from delicatessen X had been served and where some people had reported being ill. A trace-back investigation was initiated. In total, 46 cases were confirmed (Tromsø= 42; Sarpsborg= 4). Having eaten basil pesto sauce or fish soup at the banquet in Tromsø were independent risk factors for disease. Basil pesto was the only common food item that had been consumed by confirmed cases occurring in Tromsø and Sarpsborg. The basil had pesto.basil.cyclosporabeen imported and delivered to both municipalities by the same supplier. No basil from the specific batch was left on the Norwegian market when it was identified as the likely source. As a result of the multidisciplinary investigation, which helped to identify the source, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, together with NIPH, planned to develop recommendations for food providers on how to handle fresh plant produce prior to consumption.

Egyptian Basil may contain Salmonella

That basil’s got Salmonella in it. And herbs are a disproportionately high source of foodborne illness.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Shah Trading Co. Ltd. are warning the public, distributors and food service establishments not to consume, sell, serve or use the Spice Kingdom brand dried Egyptian Basil described below because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The affected product, Spice Kingdom brand BASIL – EGYPTIAN, 30M, Whole, Fancy, bearing Lot No. 4685/E, was sold in bulk 25 kg (55 lbs) bags to cash & carry outlets, restaurants, bakeries and food service establishments in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

46 sick with Shigella from imported fresh basil in Norway

Eurosurveillance reports today an outbreak of Shigella in Norway that sickened at least 46 people.

Two municipalities were involved. A large cluster (42 cases) was concentrated in north Norway, while a small cluster (4 cases) occurred in the south-east region. Epidemiological evidence and traceback investigations have linked the outbreak to the consumption of imported fresh basil. The product has been withdrawn from the market. No further cases have been reported since 25 October.

On 9 October 2011, the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was informed by the Municipal Medical Officer and the Local Food Safety Authority in Tromsø (northern Norway) about an unusually high number of cases of gastrointestinal disease caused by Shigella sonnei.

A delicatessen and catering company located in the centre of Tromsø received several complaints from customers who had fallen ill with gastrointestinal symptoms after having eaten food items from there.

On 14 October, a small cluster of cases who had not been to Tromsø were reported and the outbreak was classified as national.

An outbreak case was defined as a person with gastrointestinal symptoms with laboratory confirmed infection with S. sonnei with indistinguishable multiple-locus variable number of tandem repeats analysis (MLVA) profiles in Norway after 1 October 2011.

Traceback investigations of ingredients in the pesto served in Tromsø are still ongoing. The same distributer that provided the fresh basil to the catering company in Tromsø also delivered fresh basil to the restaurant implicated in the second cluster in south-east Norway. The distributor imported this herb from a country outside the European Union and has voluntarily withdrawn it from the market. The National Veterinary Institute analysed samples of pesto and other ingredients from the catering company in Tromsø. Samples available for analysis have been negative. An epidemic intelligence information system (EPIS) enquiry has been posted to determine whether other European countries have observed a similar increase in cases infected with S. sonnei. So far, no other countries have reported any recent increase in cases that can be linked to this outbreak.