Flour comes from dried wheat that’s milled and not heat treated (because it messes with the gluten). Because wheat is grown in nature, Salmonella or E. coli or other nasties can be present. As Salmonella dries out it gets hardier and survives for months (or longer).
In 1957, Duncan Hines and his wife, Clara, cut a cake at the Duncan Hines test kitchen in Ithaca, N.Y.
In Nov. 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated recalled Duncan Hines Cake Mixes potentially linked to seven Salmonella Agbeni illnesses.
On January 14, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control reported the outbreak appeared to be over. The FDA, CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states worked together to investigate this multistate outbreak of Salmonella Agbeni infections.
The FDA recommends consumers to not bake with or eat the recalled product. Additionally, consumers should not eat uncooked batter, flour, or cake mix powder.
The FDA advised consumers not to bake with or eat any recalled cake mix. If already purchased, consumers should throw it away or return to the place of purchase for a refund.
Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
FDA offers these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:
Do not eat any raw cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw batter or dough products.
Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour or cake mix may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
The Fresh Peaches, Fresh Nectarines and Fresh Plums were distributed in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia through small retail establishments and the following select retail stores:
Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia
Nectarines, Peaches, Plums
Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
The peaches and nectarines are sold as a bulk retail produce item with PLU sticker (PLU# 4044, 3035, 4378) showing the country of origin of Chile. The peaches, nectarines and plums sold at ALDI are packaged in a 2-pound bag with the brand Rio Duero, EAN# 7804650090281, 7804650090298, 7804650090304. The nectarines sold at Costco are packaged in a 4-pound plastic clamshell with the brand Rio Duero, EAN# 7804650090212.
No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem to date.
The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by the packing house which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. The company has ceased the distribution of the product as FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.
Welcome to Washington, D.C., Frank, and government PR.
On Nov. 20, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the American public of a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce and advised against eating any romaine lettuce on the market at that time.
According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. and FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas, we have new results to report from this investigation tracing the source of the contamination to at least one specific farm. Based on these and other new findings, we’re updating our recommendations for the romaine lettuce industry and consumers. Today, we’re announcing that we’ve identified a positive sample result for the outbreak strain in the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by a single farm owned and operated by Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County.
The FDA will be sending investigators back to this farm for further sampling. It’s important to note that although this is an important piece of information, the finding on this farm doesn’t explain all illnesses and our traceback investigation will continue as we narrow down what commonalities this farm may have with other farms that are part of our investigation. While the analysis of the strain found in the people who got ill and the sediment in one of this farm’s water sources is a genetic match, our traceback work suggests that additional romaine lettuce shipped from other farms could also likely be implicated in the outbreak. Therefore, the water from the reservoir on this single farm doesn’t fully explain what the common source of the contamination. We are continuing to investigate what commonalities there could be from multiple farms in the region that could explain this finding in the water, and potentially the ultimate source of the outbreak.
As of Dec. 13, our investigation yielded records from five restaurants in four different states that have identified 11 different distributors, nine different growers, and eight different farms as potential sources of contaminated romaine lettuce. Currently, no single establishment is in common across the investigated supply chains. This indicates that although we have identified a positive sample from one farm to date, the outbreak may not be explained by a single farm, grower, harvester, or distributor.
At the same time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control updated its warning to advise U.S. consumers to not eat and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any romaine lettuce harvested from certain counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. If you do not know where the romaine is from, do not eat it.
Some romaine lettuce products are now labeled with a harvest location by region. Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should check bags or boxes of romaine lettuce for a label indicating where the lettuce was harvested.
Do not buy, serve, sell, or eat romaine lettuce from the following California counties: Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara.
If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region and county, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it.
My mother used to make and lot of cakes and brownies with her groovy 1960s hand mixer and I always got to lick the beaters.
And it’s not just the raw eggs, it’s the raw flour.
In June, 2009, an outbreak of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC, primarily O157:H7) in Nestle Toll House cookie dough sickened at least 77 people in 30 American states. Thirty-five people were hospitalized – from cookie dough.
The researchers could not conclusively implicate flour as the E. coli source, but it remains the prime suspect. They pointed out that a single purchase of contaminated flour might have been used to manufacture multiple lots and varieties of dough over a period of time as suggested by the use-by dates on the contaminated product.
The study authors concluded that “foods containing raw flour should be considered as possible vehicles of infection of future outbreaks of STEC.”
So it wasn’t much of a surprise when 63 people fell sick from the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 from Dec. 2015 to Sept. 2016 linked to raw General Mills flour.
There have been about a dozen other flour-related outbreaks. STEC means people – and kids – get quite sick.
Flour is a raw commodity, crops the flour is derived from could be exposed to anything, and testing is so much better than it used to be.
There are some brands of pasteurized flour out there, but people seem to have gotten used to flour as a cheap source of play-dough-like stuff for kids and something to throw at people.
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control says, nope.
This is not a Christmas conspiracy (although I prefer Solstice Season): it’s CDC providing information, like they are supposed to.
People can, and will, do what they want.
As Maggie Fox of NBC reports, “Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments,” the CDC advises.
“Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.”
Handling food, including flour, requires care and hygiene.
“Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily,” the CDC notes. “Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked. Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough.”
My friend, Roy Costa from Florida, sent along this piece and I deemed it worthy.
The foreign supplier verification rule is foreign to many importers, October 20, 2018
The Foreign Supplier Verification Rule (FSVP), 21 CFR Part 1, Subpart L, is the part of the Food Safety Modernization Act that regulates the importation of food covered by FDA. While the Act when into effect in 2015, some importers have not yet fully implemented an FSVP program.
An FSVP program is a risk-based system that ensures that foreign suppliers meet the same US rules for food safety as domestic suppliers. This means that importers must verify that FDA’s rules, the Current GMP Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls for Human and Animal Foods, and the Produce Safety rules, have been implemented by suppliers.
Importers bare the responsibility for verification of the safety of foods imported into the US. The Customs filings now include a line item for the “FSVP Importer”. This entry utilizes the Dunn and Bradstreet’s unique facility identifier-the DUNS Number; no food maybe imported without this filing. Whoever is identified as the FSVP Importer must be qualified through education and experience to understand any document submitted for verification, and is subject to unannounced FDA inspection.
The FSVP rule allows third-party audits, microbial, physical and chemical testing and operational records to be used for verification purposes. The key documents an importer must verify are the Food Safety Plan of foreign manufacturers, and the records that show compliance with the Produce Safety rule.
In order to understand these complex verification documents, one must understand the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concept. Education in the Preventive Controls and Produce Safety rules will be necessary for most importers. Without a scientific background, understanding how to successfully apply the five preliminary HACCP steps and the seven HACCP principles is impossible, and the Produce rule requires a deep understanding of Good Agricultural Practices.
Some importers will not be qualified to make decisions about supplier approval, or even understand what is required of them, without training.
An importer must prepare his own FSVP program for each commodity he obtains, based on a risk assessment similar to HACCP. He can only do this if he is a FSVP Qualified Individual, although he can hire or use another Qualified Individual, if he is not so qualified.
The barriers of entry are high. If a supplier does not meet the rules, or if the importer cannot verify the safety of foods, no such foods can be obtained. This could put some importers out of business, and restrict trade in foreign foods.
The impact is huge for the global economy. Currently, imported foods make up an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. food supply, including 50 percent of fresh fruits, 20 percent of fresh vegetables and 80 percent of seafood.
The FSVP rule prohibits anyone with a financial interest in the outcome of verification to have a financial interest in an approval decision. The problems with conflicts of interest in this scheme are readily apparent, since many importers also own the operations of the foreign supplier, and virtually all importers have some kind of monetary incentive for bringing products into the US.
FDA has the authority to inspect the records of the FSVP Importer, and they typically do not notify in advance of a routine inspection. Once in the office, FDA has access to virtually all the records of the importing firm, and will expect that the firm has a Qualified Individual, policies and procedures, records, and a risk-based system to make decisions about supplier approval, with an approved supplier list. Without these vital documents, there will be no way an importer can demonstrate compliance.
At this time, FDA is making inspections to primarily educate the industry, but they will act if they find an importer violating US rules or obtaining unsafe foods.
With such dire consequences possible, one would expect that an importer would seek education in areas of legal compliance, but the industry has not shown overwhelming interest in taking the training needed to understand their responsibilities.
Eventually, the agency will take a focused approach to weeding out the non-compliant importing operations, but the job will be difficult. Policing these complex importer arrangements will not be an easy assignment; it is well known the importers sometimes flaunt the rules that have been in place, and engage in port shopping, ignoring Import Alerts, and outright deception. These new regulations should allow FDA to be more effective in detecting criminal activity, and I expect that penalties will be severe for importers who bring in contaminated foods that cause illness and death to US consumers.
I also expect that product liability will eventually stretch back to the importer in such cases, and that lawsuits will take into consideration the compliance history of the importer when perusing justice for victims of foodborne illness.
I strongly recommend that both foreign suppliers and importers take the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance FSVP course, and the other FSPCA relevant courses as needed, Preventive Controls for Human and Animal Foods, and Produce Safety Rules, and learn how to develop a compliant FSVP program.
Contact Environ Health Associates, Course Administration Manager; Katherine Jones 386-316-7266 for course registration.
The purpose of this draft compliance and implementation guidance document is to help covered farms comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, which establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce. Entitled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,” the rule is part of FDA’s implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The draft guidance provides a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule. It also outlines how to determine whether produce or farms may be eligible for exemptions from certain requirements, or from the rule in its entirety.
Specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited, and in some cases, specified using the word must. The use of the word should indicates that something is recommended, but not required. The use of the word including means options that are not limited to the described items.
You are encouraged to submit comments on the draft guidance within 180 days of the publish date to ensure your comments are considered while FDA works on the final version of the guidance.
In addition to the draft guidance, there is an At-a-Glance overview of key points in each of the nine chapters described below, as well as a glossary of key terms. The overviews summarize important aspects of each chapter. It is recommended that you review the draft guidance itself for complete information.
Bob Brackett, who was the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s point man during the E. coli spinach outbreak of 2006 ( and did a great job), told me once it was always part of the plan to work in academia, government and industry, and he’s done it.
What you do at home is your own business, but when cooking for 120 children, risk management is a little different.
For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses linked to shell eggs.
As of October 25, 2018, there were 44 illnesses associated with shell eggs from Gravel Ridge Farms, in Cullman Alabama. The CDC has announced that this outbreak appears to be over.
The FDA advises consumers not to eat recalled shell eggs produced by Gravel Ridge Farms. Consumers who have purchased these products should discard the eggs or return them to the store for a refund. For a complete list of stores, visit the recall notice.
Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw eggs and raw egg-containing foods. Dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160° F. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is use either eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products.
On September 5, 2018, the FDA and Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry began an inspection at Gravel Ridge Farms and collected environmental and egg samples for laboratory testing. The results were used to confirm that Salmonella Enteritidis isolates collected from environmental and egg samples taken at the farm were genetically related to isolates obtained from ill persons.
As a result of the outbreak, Gravel Ridge Farms voluntarily recalled cage-free, large eggs and removed the eggs from the shelves at grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail locations.
Twenty-six of 32 (81%) people interviewed reported eating restaurant dishes made with eggs. These restaurants reported using shell eggs in the dishes eaten by ill people.
The whole restaurant dishes-made-with-raw-eggs-thing, such as mayo and aioli is problematic. My 9-year-old knows to ask how the aioli is made if she gets fish, and the server always comes back and says, chef makes it only with raw eggs, and she knows enough to say no.
But we are the poop family (it’s on the front door).
I had a couple of thermometers in my back pack but were not necessary.
Shannon M. Casillas, Carolyne Bennett and Anne Straily of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control write in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly that cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis through ingestion of fecally contaminated food or water.
Symptoms of cyclosporiasis might include watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Typically, increased numbers of cases are reported in the United States during spring and summer; since the mid-1990s, outbreaks have been identified and investigated almost every year. Past outbreaks have been associated with various types of imported fresh produce (e.g., basil, cilantro, and raspberries) (1). There are currently no validated molecular typing tools* to facilitate linking cases to each other, to food vehicles, or their sources. Therefore, cyclosporiasis outbreak investigations rely primarily on epidemiologic data.
The 2018 outbreak season is noteworthy for multiple outbreaks associated with different fresh produce items and the large number of reported cases. Two multistate outbreaks resulted in 761 laboratory-confirmed illnesses. The first outbreak, identified in June, was associated with prepackaged vegetable trays (containing broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) sold at a convenience store chain in the Midwest; 250 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in persons with exposures in three states (illness onset mid-May–mid-June) (2). The supplier voluntarily recalled the vegetable trays (3).
The second multistate outbreak, identified in July, was associated with salads (containing carrots, romaine, and other leafy greens) sold at a fast food chain in the Midwest; 511 laboratory-confirmed cases during May–July occurred in persons with exposures in 11 states who reported consuming salads (4). The fast food chain voluntarily stopped selling salads at approximately 3,000 stores in 14 Midwest states that received the implicated salad mix from a common processing facility (5).
The traceback investigation conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not identify a single source or potential point of contamination for either outbreak.
In addition to the multistate outbreaks, state public health authorities, CDC, and FDA investigated cyclosporiasis clusters associated with other types of fresh produce, including basil and cilantro. Two basil-associated clusters (eight confirmed cases each) were identified among persons in two different states who became ill during June. Investigation of one cluster, for which the state health department conducted an ingredient-specific case-control study, found consumption of basil to be significantly associated with illness. A formal analytic study was not conducted for the other cluster, but all patients reported consuming basil. Three clusters associated with Mexican-style restaurants in the Midwest have resulted in reports of 53 confirmed cases in persons who became ill during May–August. Analytic studies were conducted for two clusters; consumption of cilantro was found to be significantly associated with illness in both. Although a formal analytic study was not possible for the third cluster, all 32 identified patients reported consuming cilantro at the restaurant. FDA traceback of the basil and cilantro from these clusters is ongoing. Additional clusters associated with Mexican-style restaurants were identified in multiple states; but investigations to determine a single vehicle of infection were unsuccessful because of small case counts, limited exposure information, or because fresh produce items (including cilantro) were served as components of other dishes (e.g., in salsa).
Many cases could not be directly linked to an outbreak, in part because of the lack of validated molecular typing tools for C. cayetanensis. As of October 1, 2018, a total of 2,299 laboratory-confirmed cyclosporiasis cases† have been reported by 33 states in persons who became ill during May 1–August 30 and did not have a history of international travel during the 14 days preceding illness onset. Approximately one third of these cases were associated with either the convenience store chain outbreak or the fast food chain outbreak.
The median patient age was 49 years (range = <1–103 years) and 56% were female (1,288 of 2,285). At least 160 patients were hospitalized; no deaths have been reported.
The 2,299 domestically acquired, laboratory-confirmed cases reported in persons who became ill during May–August 2018 are markedly higher than the numbers of cases reported for the same period in 2016 (174) and 2017 (623). This increase might be due, in part, to changes in diagnostic testing practices, including increased use of gastrointestinal molecular testing panels. CDC is working with state public health partners to determine whether and to what extent changes in testing practices might have contributed to increased case detection and reporting.
Consumers should continue to enjoy fresh produce as part of a well-balanced diet. To reduce risk from most causes of foodborne illness and other contaminants, CDC recommends washing fresh fruits and vegetables with clean running water; however, washing, including use of routine chemical disinfection or sanitizing methods, is unlikely to kill C. cayetanensis. Persons with diarrheal illness that lasts >3 days or who have any other concerning symptoms should see a health care provider if they think they might have become ill from eating contaminated food.
Contributing state and local public health department personnel; Food and Drug Administration
According to Food Safety Magazine, since 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been trying a new approach to produce sampling to assess microbial contamination in food commodities. The approach involves collecting a statistically-valid number of samples of targeted foods over a 12-18 month period, then identifying common microbial factors among them.
For fiscal year 2018, FDA had already been sampling fresh herbs, specifically basil, parsley, and cilantro, along with processed avocado and guacamole–all from both domestic and imported sources. The fresh herbs were chosen for sampling because they are eaten without having gone through any type of kill step (ie. cooking) to reduce or eliminate pathogens. Also, these items are grown low to the ground, which makes them susceptible to contamination. Initially, the sampling was to measure the prevalence of Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in these herbs.
Recently, FDA added a new test to this sampling group: Cyclospora cayetanensis. The agency has a new analytical testing method for this parasite.
And my kid is really into this song; also no explanation.