National Meat and Provisions recalls beef and veal products due to possible E. coli O26 contamination

National Meat and Provisions, a Reserve, La. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,349 pounds of beef and veal products that may be contaminated with E. coli O26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

ground-beef-recallThe raw non-intact beef and veal items were produced and packaged on Sept. 14-15, 2016. The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF Only)]

51.40-lb. of VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND COMPANY BURGER BLEND,” packed on 9/14/2016 with a lot number of “00028584” and case codes of 53085/CB136 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

50.00-lb. of VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND COURSE STEAK TRIM,” packed on 9/14/2016 with a lot number of “00028582” and case codes of 53080/02300H in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.00-lb. of VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND FRESH,” packed on 9/14/2016 with a lot number of “00028583” and case codes of 53110/02300P in the upper left-hand corner of the label

50.00-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND CHIMES FINE,” packed on 9/14/2016 with a lot number of “00028581” and case codes of 56660/02300C in the upper left-hand corner of the label

51.46-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND COMPANY BURGER BLEND,” packed on 9/15/2016 with a lot number of “00028597” and case codes of 53085/CB136 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.00-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF FAT OF RIB CAP,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028595,” and case codes of 50010/1138 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.83-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND CHUCK DAT DOG,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028593,” and case codes of 56135/02150 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.23-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND CHUCK BRISKET BURGER,” packed on 9/15/2016 with a lot number of “00028596,” and case codes of 53060/208116120 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

5.00-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF STEAK CUBED 5#,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028594,” and case codes of 50565/04902 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.00-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND CHUCK 10#,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028592,” and case codes of 53015/02100 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.11-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF STEAK CUBED,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028591,” and case codes of 50555/1100GJ in the upper left-hand corner of the label

10.32-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “BEEF GROUND CHUCK BRISKET 8 oz.,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028585,” and case codes of 53050/05M8 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

9.98-lb. VACUUM-PACKED “VEAL SIRLOIN CUBED POLY BAGED,” packed on 9/15/2016, with a lot number of “00028590,” and case codes of 56070/0776 in the upper left-hand corner of the label

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. M-22022” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a distributor, as well as hotels, restaurants and institutions in Louisiana.

The problem was discovered when the establishment received a positive STEC sample during their quarterly E. coli testing program on Sept. 29, 2016. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), such as STEC O26 because it is harder to identify than STEC O157. People can become ill from STECs 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after consuming the organism. Most people infected with STEC O26 develop diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample. Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment; antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.

Restaurant inspection and disclosure LA style

A few weeks ago, NBC Los Angeles released an interactive map with confirmed food poisoning cases in L.A. county over the last 18 months. The map was published as a public service, so consumers know which restaurants to possibly avoid. But does this information really help consumers avoid food poisoning? don’t think it’s very useful as a tool of where you’re going to have foodborne illness,” said Angelo Bellamo, the Director of Environmental Health for L.A. County.

“We’re only able to associate 25 cases each year [in L.A.] where we’ve had an outbreak that is more than a couple of people, and we’re able to verify the restaurant,” Bellamo said. “This is a big problem. It’s really under-reported, and our methods for actually determining whether or not restaurants are causing foodborne illnesses aren’t perfected yet. They’re nowhere near being perfected.”

The issue of concern is the collection of data. Right now, tips of potential contamination are collected through complaints people send to the office. Unfortunately, the information is few and far between. (Seriously, when was the last time you even considered calling the department after a particularly queasy meal?) So, rather than waiting for tips to hit their desks, officials are looking for ways to obtain it themselves.

“The use of social media is vital,” Bellamo said. He mentions a recent investigation where an investigator logged onto Yelp and found a number of complaints directed at a facility. The investigator contacted the reviewers and built the case from there. This is one way of using social media to further investigations, but also a strategy that’s far from perfected. “A lot of information in social media is not very useful, some is not credible, but there are nuggets in there,” Bellamo said. “If we found a way to selectively screen certain words or certain locations, there could be some real value there.” (Other cities have already begun using Twitter to identify outbreaks, which Bellamo believes will soon be part of L.A.’s efforts as well.)

One thing consumers shouldn’t do is simply trust the grade letter on the front window.

“It represents a snapshot in time,” Bellamo said. “That letter grade reflects the last inspection, which took place over the course of a couple of hours. You can’t look at just the letter grade.” Bellamo wants to change the current system, so that instead of simply showing how the last inspection went, to make it include an average of the last six inspections. “Good and bad days can happen to the best and poorest of restaurants,” he said. “An average score would be a lot more indicative of how that restaurant actually operates.”

Because it’s all about the celebrities and bureaucratic BS: Food poisoning, filth exposed at popular LA restaurants

When the health inspector showed up at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills last fall, he found a cockroach in the hall and poor sanitation in the kitchen. He found enough critical violations, he threatened to suspend their permit and said he’d be back in two weeks to make sure they had cleaned up.

mel-gibson-is-insane_344x372But seven months later, the inspector still has never been back to Wolfgang’s.

The county’s 10 million residents depend on the health department to inspect restaurants often, to make sure they’re clean and safe. But an NBC4 I-Team investigation has found LA County is failing to inspect many restaurants frequently, and food poisoning and filth at some eateries may be the result.

“We could be doing a better job in many areas,” says Angelo Bellomo, the head of the county’s restaurant inspection program, and director of LA County Environmental Health.

Restaurants like Nobu in Malibu, which serves sushi to celebrities like Halle Berry and Mel Gibson, are required to be inspected three times a year, according to LA County Health Department policy.

“I’d like to see three inspections a year in high-risk restaurants,” said LA County’s Bellomo.

Most restaurants are considered “high risk” because they handle raw meat, poultry, and fish.

But when I-Team examined the last two years of all restaurant inspections, it found thousands of high-risk restaurants aren’t getting anywhere near the required three inspections a year.

When 13 people who ate at Nobu contracted potentially deadly Norovirus in November 2014, the restaurant hadn’t had an inspection in over a year — October 2013. Nobu declined to comment to NBC4.

Nobu is hardly the exception.

“I felt terrible. There was headache, shaking, nausea,” Burt Holstein told NBC4, about the food poisoning he and six other family members got after eating at Lunasia Restaurant in Alhambra last May.

Inspectors showed up, ordered the restaurant to correct numerous violations, and were supposed to return in a few weeks.

But eight months later, Lunasia still hasn’t had a return visit from an inspector.

“If the restaurant was shown to have problems, if people have become sick, they should be inspecting the place often,” said food poisoning victim Holstein.

In fact, when there’s a food poisoning investigation at a restaurant, it’s LA County policy that an inspector must return to do a follow-up inspection within two weeks. But that often doesn’t happen.

Last December, the county investigated a complaint of food poisoning at the trendy Coast Cafe at Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica, and an inspector should’ve returned by early January. But records obtained by the I-Team show the inspector never came back, until he got another complaint of food poisoning more than three months later.

Chief inspector Bellomo told the I-Team he hopes the health department will soon start doing more frequent inspections. But an internal Health Department memo, obtained by the I-Team, said “second inspections” of most restaurants “shall not be conducted” this fiscal year because of low “staffing levels.”

Chief Bellomo admitted the problem isn’t money. Instead of filling the 60 or so vacant inspector positions, Bellomo said he’s chosen to hire more health department managers.

“You’re playing Russian roulette when you go out to dinner,” said Dr. Pete Snyder, a nationally known food safety expert who has trained health inspectors. “If you’re only inspecting once or twice a year, then the restaurants don’t fear you anymore.”

Diners are also finding that an “A” grade in the window doesn’t mean a restaurant has been inspected lately, or that it’s necessarily safe. Wolfgang’s, Coast Cafe at Shutter’s, Nobu, and Lunasia all had “A”s when people got sick there or when inspectors found critical violations.

How about possums? Raccoon meat for sale at L.A. supermarket, store under investigation

An Asian supermarket in Temple City has come under fire for selling dead raccoons after a video circulated on social media showed bodies of the animals in the frozen meat section.

racoonChristina Dow posted the video she filmed Monday at Metro Supermarket in the 4800 block of Temple City Boulevard, showing the frozen raccoons in plastic bags along with packages of meat and fish. Dow pleaded with her Facebook followers to share the video.

According to Dow’s Facebook page, she found seven to eight “freshly slaughtered raccoons” inside the supermarket freezer. She noted the dead raccoons were fully intact and the fur bloody.

“Is this right or what?” she says on the video.

The raccoons were apparently sold for $9.99 per pound. One particular raccoon was sold for roughly $54.

An employee at the supermarket told the Los Angeles Times that health inspectors had hauled out their supply of dead raccoons on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department would not confirm whether it removed the dead raccoons.

But it said the department was investigating.

According to the department, a raccoon would be considered a “game animal” under the California Health and Safety Code and could be sold.

But it could be sold only if it’s from an approved source and is not considered an endangered or threatened animal by the Department of Fish & Game.

The supermarket employee, who declined to give his name, said the owner of the supermarket is avoiding media calls.

Along with selling exotic meats, the 12,000-square-foot Chinese supermarket has its own farm, delivering vegetables and fruit daily, according to its website.

Letter grades for LA food trucks

Los Angeles County is, according to the N.Y. Times, moving to submit its flock of 9,500 food trucks and carts to the same health department rules as restaurants — including requiring them to prominently post a letter grade based on food inspections — in what may be the ultimate sign that this faddiest of food fads is going mainstream.

And if that is not establishment enough, food trucks, whose allure has been enhanced by their mysterious comings and goings, some signaled by puffs of Twitter postings, will have to file route maps with the health department, to facilitate at least one field inspection a year, beyond the single annual inspection now required.

As with restaurants, health inspectors will be empowered to shut down a truck that scores less than a C for not enough attention to basic safety and food hygiene practices — for example, dirty counters, food left out, unwashed hands.

Jonathan E. Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said

“People are saying, ‘I see A, B, C’s at restaurants, but not trucks: Why not? … We changed the incentives, and that’s what this is all about,” he said. “We want protecting consumers against foodborne illness to be top-of-mind all the time.”