Amy Sowder of The Packer reports that Shenandoah Growers of Harrisonburg, Va., has recalled about 15,000 units of organic basil in select packages, due to a possible health risk from cyclospora.
The recall is limited and voluntary, according to a Food and Drug Administration news release.
These items were packed under branded and private label fresh-cut, USDA-certified organic basil clamshells at its Jefferson, Ga., facility and Harrisonburg facilities with 19 lot codes, all with the country of origin of Colombia.
Recalled products were distributed to retail stores between Oct. 20-30 in states including Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C.
No other Shenandoah Growers products are subject to recall, and the company has no knowledge of any illness reported or related to this product, according to the release.
The Shenandoah Growers recall includes only those clamshells of certified-organic basil clearly marked with the affected lot codes. The lot code can be found printed on each clamshell.
This recall stems from a package pulled by the Florida Department of Agriculture on Nov. 2, from a retail store in Florida that indicated the potential presence of cyclospora.
The parasite, Cyclospora, continues to provide illness and intrigue.
Florida-based Southeastern Grocers has issued a voluntary recall for its “SE Grocers Naturally Better Organic Fresh Cut Basil” following the detection of Cyclospora.
The company says the product was delivered through all of its distribution centers and sold in all its stores, including Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, Fresco y Más and Harveys Supermarkets. The basil comes in a 0.5-ounce container with UPC code 6-07880-20230-4.
The latest recall follows a summer outbreak of Cyclospora in the U.S. linked to Fresh Express and private label brand salad products produced at its Streamwood, IL facility that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and/or carrots.
690 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections and who reported eating bagged salad mix before getting sick weren reported from 13 states (Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin).
Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11, 2020 to July 20, 2020.
37 people were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
As of November 4, 2020, 370 confirmed cases of Cyclospora illness were reported in the following provinces and territories: British Columbia (1), Ontario (255), Quebec (105), New Brunswick (1), Newfoundland and Labrador (6), and Nunavut (2). Individuals became sick between mid-May and late August 2020. Ten individuals were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
This method was used in our current investigation and may be instrumental in our efforts to better understand the dispersion of the parasite in the environment, which could help prevent future outbreaks. The collective work by public health officials to get these new findings demonstrates a commitment to innovation and science in the service of public health and the importance of strong federal and state coordination on food safety work.
Even as our agencies continue to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis, teams of experts from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have continued to respond to a threat of a different kind – a nationwide outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses. Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite that is so small it can only be seen with a microscope. It causes an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis from the consumption of contaminated food, mainly fresh produce, or contaminated water.
Epidemiology linked the illnesses to bagged salad produced by Fresh Express. The number of reported cases of Cyclospora typically rises during May through August. Although CDC conducts surveillance for cyclosporiasis year-round, during the spring and summer months CDC conducts enhanced surveillance for cases of domestically acquired illness. In this outbreak, CDC has reported 690 cases across 13 states, with 37 hospitalizations and no deaths. Onsets of illness range from May 11, 2020 to July 20, 2020. Salads made by Fresh Express and containing iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots were identified as the food vehicle responsible for the outbreaks.
Traceback of cases with the strongest sources of information (shopper card info, etc.) revealed that bagged salad codes most likely to have resulted in illness contained iceberg lettuce from California and red cabbage from Florida. The FDA evaluated and investigated each of the ingredients in the bagged salads, identifying red cabbage from Florida and iceberg lettuce from California as those most likely in the bagged salads consumed by people who became ill. Traceback investigations are time-consuming work but are critical. In this instance, in the wake of traceback and collaboration with the retailers to recall product, FDA identified a noticeable decline in illnesses that matched the time period in which cabbage sourcing shifted from Florida to another area, providing a possible clue in the investigation.
Environmental sampling detected the presence of Cyclospora in the surface water of a canal near a farm suspected of being a source of the red cabbage. Two samples collected to the north and south of where the farm accessed canal water for seepage irrigation were found to be positive for Cyclospora cayetanensis. The farm that supplied red cabbage was no longer in production at the conclusion of the growing season, so it was not possible to sample product. Additionally, the farms growing iceberg lettuce in California were investigated and all of the samples collected in California were negative for Cyclospora.
Given the emerging nature of genetic typing methodologies for this parasite, the FDA has been unable to determine if the Cyclospora detected in the canal is a genetic match to the clinical cases, therefore, there is currently not enough evidence to conclusively determine the cause of this outbreak.
The FDA has pioneered ways to detect the parasite that have been employed in this outbreak investigation, developing and validating new methods to test for Cyclospora in produce and agricultural water. The first of these new methods was used in 2018 to confirm the presence of the parasite in a salad mix product tied to an outbreak that sickened hundreds of people.
In July 2019, the FDA made its second major advance in Cyclospora detection, completing studies that resulted in a novel, validated method to test agricultural water for the presence of the parasite. These new methods were developed by the Foodborne Parasitology Research Program that the FDA established in 2014 in our Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in part to break the cycle of recurring Cyclospora outbreaks.
Strong federal and state coordination on matters of public health are critical. In identifying clinical cases of Cyclospora, assisting in providing traceback records and completing investigations in processing facilities and growing fields, our state partners’ work has proven essential to this investigation. We continue to work to strengthen these vital public health partnerships and federal agencies continue to work together to advance additional tools needed to assist with these investigations. For example, CDC is piloting the use of a genotyping tool to help identify cases of parasitic illness that might be linked to a common source.
While we as public health agencies have gotten better at detecting foodborne illnesses due to Cyclospora, our ability to trace contaminated foods back to their source has lagged, and once again, our ability to trace has been a challenge in this investigation, due in part to the lack of modernized food traceability capabilities.
Moreover, the detection of the parasite in surface waters near where product was grown once again puts a spotlight on the importance of managing the quality of irrigation water used to grow ready to eat crops. We are working closely with our colleagues at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to investigate this issue further to prevent future occurrences.
These findings further emphasize the importance of industry’s role in ensuring that irrigation water is safe to be used on produce. Under the FDA’s recently released New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, we’ll continue to remain laser focused on prevention. In the coming months, we will be issuing a proposed rule that will aid in achieving our goal of enhancing traceability to greatly reduce the time it takes to identify the origin of a contaminated food or ingredient tied to a recall and/or outbreak.
In addition, we intend to release a proposed rule in late 2020 to revise certain agricultural water requirements in the Produce Safety Rule and to address practical implementation challenges while protecting public health. We also plan to advance detection techniques that will help us pinpoint sources of Cyclospora outbreaks and to continue our research around water treatments for this parasite.
In closing, we believe the entire fresh produce supply chain from farm to fork can do better and we look forward to continuing our work with our public health partners, growers, processors, distributors and retailers in our shared efforts to protect consumers. Together, we’ll make progress on our overarching goal to give consumers the confidence they deserve to have in the safety of fresh produce.
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.
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
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.
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)
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).
Both 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
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.
The 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).
These 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
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.
According 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.
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. Most 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 been 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.