Presence of listeria in sausages from Catalonia and distributed throughout Spain

The En24 reports the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) has received updated information from Catalonia, through the Coordinated System for Rapid Information Exchange (SCIRI), on the presence of ‘Listeria monocytogenes’ in different meat products heat-treated elaborated in the Embotits D’Oix establishment, extending the product recall to batch 2115 of the same products.

With the information available no case has been confirmed in Spain associated with this alert, although it is recommended that people who have the products included in this alert at home refrain from consuming them and return them to the point of purchase.

Although the Catalan health authorities already informed AESAN on April 16, they have now provided new information regarding the withdrawal of different heat-treated meat products produced in the establishment due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and lack of sanitary guarantees.

In the course of the investigations carried out, the Catalan Public Health Agency has extended the product recall to batch number 2115, of the same products affected by this notification. With the new information, the data of the products involved in this alert are: Botifarra d’ou, Bull blanc, Botifarra negra, Botifarra de fetge and Botifarra all julivert.

In addition, the batches involved are: 2106 2107; 2108; 2109; 2110; 2111; 2112; 2113; 2114 and 2115. The distribution has been made in Catalonia, Aragon, Balearic Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencian Community and Madrid. This information has been transferred to the competent authorities of the autonomous communities through the SCIRI, in order to verify the withdrawal of the affected products from the marketing channels.

Listeria outbreak linked to queso fresco made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc. closed

Fast Facts

Illnesses: 13

Hospitalizations: 12

Deaths: 1

States: 4

Recall: Yes

Investigation status: Closed

Don’t eat any soft cheeses like queso fresco, unless they are labeled “made with pasteurized milk.” This is especially important if you are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments. This is because you are at higher risk for severe Listeria illness.

Be aware that Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk have caused Listeria outbreaks, including this outbreak. Although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk can still become contaminated if they are produced in facilities with unsanitary conditions.

Listeria in RTE foods at retail, Costa Rica

Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacterium associated with RTE meat products sold at the retail level. The objective of this research was to determine the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in RTE meat products sold at retail in Costa Rica and to study the factors associated with the levels of contamination; analyzed factors include hygienic practices within stores (cutting techniques, microbial contamination of products) and the behavior of the isolates (persistence against antimicrobials and transfer potential).

A total of 190 samples of RTE meat products were collected and analyzed for the presence of coliforms and Listeria species. Isolates of L. monocytogenes were then evaluated in terms of resistance to disinfectants (quaternary ammonium compounds and chlorine) and their transfer potential from food contact surfaces (knife and cuttingboards). Overall Listeria spp. prevalence was 37,4% (71/190); L. innocua was present in 32,1% (61/190) of the products and L. monocytogenes was found in just 2,6% (5/190) of the samples. Most of the contaminated samples were cut with a knife at the moment of purchase (44,2%). When analyzing practices within the stores, it was observed that L. monocytogenes transfer from inoculated knife to “salchichón” was higher for samples cut right at the beginning of the experiment. Also, L. monocytogenes transfer from inoculated cuttingboards was independent of the number of slices but contamination from plastic was higher than wood. Regarding L. monocytogenes resistance to disinfectants, average reductions of 2,6 ± 1,1 log CFU/mL were detected after 6 minutes of exposure to 200 ppm of chlorine; however, chlorine resistance varied among the strains. Prevalence of L. monocytogenes in RTE meat products sold at retail could be associated with handling practices within the stores; further studies are necessary to estimate the impact of these practices on the overall risk for consumers.

Presence of listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products sold at retail stores in Costa Rica and analysis of contributing factors, 2021

Journal of Food Protection

Karol Calvo-Arrieta 1Karol Matamoros-Montoya 1María Laura Arias-Echandi 1Alejandra Huete-Soto 1Mauricio Alberto Redondo-Solano 2

doi: 10.4315/JFP-21-020

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34047780/

Scientists discover five new species of listeria, improving food safety

While examining the prevalence of listeria in agricultural soil throughout the U.S., Cornell University food scientists have stumbled upon five previously unknown and novel relatives of the bacteria.

The discovery, researchers said, will help food facilities identify potential growth niches that until now, may have been overlooked – thus improving food safety.

“This research increases the set of listeria species monitored in food production environments,” said lead author Catharine R. Carlin, a doctoral student in food science. “Expanding the knowledge base to understand the diversity of listeria will save the commercial food world confusion and errors, as well as prevent contamination, explain false positives and thwart foodborne outbreaks.”

One of the novel species, L. immobilis, lacked motility, or the ability to move. Listeria move a lot. Among scientists, motility was thought to be common among listeria closely related to L. monocytogenes, a well-known foodborne pathogen – and used as a key test in listeria detection methods. This discovery effectively calls for a rewrite of the standard identification protocols issued by food safety regulators, Carlin said.

As listeria species are often found co-existing in environments that support the growth of L. monocytogenes, food facilities will monitor for all listeria species to verify their sanitation practices.

“This paper describes some unique characteristics of listeria species that are closely related to listeria monocytogenes, which will be important from an evolutionary perspective and from a practical standpoint for the food industry,” said co-author Martin Wiedmann, the professor in food safety and food science. “Likely, some tests will need to be re-evaluated.”

Understanding the different listeria species is key to comprehending their similarities. “This will help us to get better about identifying listeria monocytogenes,” Wiedmann said, “and not misidentifying it as something else.”

Frozen chicken thingies strike again: This time Listeria

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for approximately 130,860 pounds of frozen fully cooked, diced chicken products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The frozen, fully cooked, diced chicken items were packed on Jan. 25, 2021, Jan. 26, 2021, March 23, 2021, and March 24, 2021. The following products are subject to the public health alert:

4-lb. plastic bags containing “FULLY COOKED CHICKEN MEAT ¾ DICED WHITE” with code 13530, Est. number P-18237, and pack dates of “01/25/2021” and “01/26/2021.”

4-lb. plastic bags containing “FULLY COOKED CHICKEN MEAT DARK/WHITE ¾ DICED” with code 16598, Est. number P-45638, and pack dates “24/MAR/2021” and “23/MAR/2021.”

The products bear establishment numbers “P-18237” or “P-45638” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were distributed by Big Daddy Foods, Inc., a Houston, Texas firm. These items were further distributed to consumers at local food banks in Florida through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program in individual food boxes. The products were distributed between Feb. 24, 2021 through March 1, 2021, and March 29, 2021 through April 8, 2021, at temporary locations. More distribution details can be found here: Distribution List 1 and Distribution List 2.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS inspection activities when inspection personnel observed products requiring recooking due to possible Lm contamination had been repackaged without being recooked. A subsequent FSIS investigation determined other affected product had been further distributed in commerce. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

Factors hampering control of Listeria in SMEs

Due to its ability to colonise, grow and form in niches in food manufacturing environments, the management of Listeria monocytogenes can be complex, particularly for food manufacturing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In addition to an effective food safety management system, the perceptions of risk, control and responsibility within a food manufacturing business are important influential factors associated with the management of L. monocytogenes. Research exploring managerial perspectives of L. monocytogenes in food manufacturer SMEs is lacking. Consequently, this study conducted in-depth interviews (n=10) with technical leaders from food manufacturing SMEs to ascertain factors that may influence listeria management, such as factors associated with cultural dimensions.

Perceived risks associated with L. monocytogenes were related to business reputation and consumer health impacts, but such events were perceived to be unlikely. Technical leaders reported having clearly defined and well executed processes to ensure food safety; but for some, L. monocytogenes, as a single pathogen was seldom considered. Despite acknowledging that “everyone” had responsibility for ensuring control of the pathogen, technical leaders indicated that the ‘people’ attributes associated with organisational culture were difficult factors to control and manage. Trust in staff ability to assure food safety was widely discussed, with technical leaders acknowledging that food handlers may not necessarily have specific knowledge regarding L. monocytogenes. Some technical leaders perceived themselves as having the greatest levels of responsibility for L. monocytogenes. 

Overall, technical leaders perceived a medium level of risk, with high levels of control and high levels of responsibility for L. monocytogenes. Optimistic bias, illusion of invulnerability, illusion of control, and perceived attribution of responsibility are discussed, which may hinder implementation of effective listeria management in SME food manufacturing businesses. Consideration of specific pathogen risks in food manufacture in relation to food safety cultural dimensions may assist development of highly targeted and effective interventions.

Exploring listeria monocytogenes perceptions in small and medium sized food manufacturers: technical leaders’ perceptions of risk, control and responsibility

Food Control

Ellen Evans, Emma Samuel, Elizabeth Redmond, Helen Taylor

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2021.108078

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0956713521002164

The recent supreme court decision on the deadliest foodborne disease outbreak in Canadian history

Gladys Osien and Ron Doering from Gowling WLG write in the latest Food in Canada that the listeriosis outbreak linked to cold cuts from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto in 2008 resulted in 57 confirmed cases and 22 deaths. It was the deadliest foodborne disease outbreak in Canadian history. The recall reportedly cost the company $20 million.

A class action lawsuit from affected consumers and their families was settled quickly by Maple Leaf and its insurance company. But that was not the end of the matter. To carry out extensive sanitation, the plant was closed for several weeks with the result that retail customers and distributors did not obtain their usual supply. 424 Mr. Sub franchise operators sued Maple Leaf for lost sales and damage to reputation. In November 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada in a 5-4 majority decision dismissed the case against Maple Leaf with important implications for Canadian food companies.

The question before the Court boiled down to whether Maple Leaf owed the requisite duty of care to the franchisees, a necessary step in establishing whether the franchisees have the right to recover damages in the tort of negligence. The Court held that Maple Leaf did not owe such a duty, especially for the protection of purely economic interest.

A duty of care must establish above all else what the law calls proximity. The Court held that the Mr. Sub franchisees failed to establish the requisite qualities of closeness and directness between the parties. (You can see there is a lot of discretion here.) The Court instead determined that the proximity, established by the responsibility and undertaking to supply meat fit for human consumption, and the rights to receive a supply of safe goods was between Maple Leaf and consumers, not the franchisees. The court reinforced the need for proximity to establish duty of care.

A key factor in the Court’s ruling was the fact that the franchisees could have protected themselves in contract law. There were multipartite arrangements but these did not specifically address the liability for economic loss in the event of a failure to supply product. The Court was reluctant to impose a duty of care in circumstances where the parties could have protected themselves through contracts.

The decision in 8871682 Ontario Inc v. Maple Leaf Foods Inc 2020 SCC 35 has some important lessons for Canadian food companies.

Review supplier warranty agreements: The older of the authors remembers being quite surprised 20 years ago to learn that many large Canadian food companies didn’t even have such agreements. They had longstanding handshake or simple purchase arrangements but did not have legally-drafted contracts to clarify rights and responsibilities in the case of a recall, for example.

One company did not even realize that its main product had 22 ingredients and any one of them could cause a huge recall with serious economic cost. And suppliers too have to be careful; a manufacturer may insist that a supplier undertake to compensate for any and all losses from a voluntary recall, a liability that might far exceed the value of the sale.

Review insurance coverage: Over the years several of our clients have been surprised by wording in their policies. In one case, a claim for losses from a large recall was denied because the client had failed to fully meet Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) as the policy required even though another negligent party was the principal cause of the product contamination.

Review sourcing practices: Many supplier warranty agreements rely on audits to ensure compliance with the agreement. However, audits are notoriously unreliable, particularly if the product or ingredient is sourced outside Canada. A supplier may be meeting all GMPs on the Tuesday when the auditor is there but not on the Wednesday after he’s gone. After learning this the hard way, some companies source from domestic suppliers even if it would be cheaper to get the ingredient from abroad.

Food companies should not expect to recover certain economic losses from manufacturer recalls, unless they are protected by contract: A negligence action against a manufacturer for economic losses that are unconnected to a physical or mental injury, or to physical damage to property (ie. purely economic) are rarely rewarded in court. Courts do not accept that manufacturers owe a broad duty of care to distributors.

Every Canadian food company should review this case with its lawyer.

Ron Doering BA, LLB, MA, LLD is counsel and Gladys Osien BSc, MSc, JD is an associate in the Ottawa offices of Gowling WLG.

Listeriosis in England and Wales: Summary for 2019

This report summarises the number and characteristics of confirmed cases of listeriosis in England and Wales in 2019:

  • 142 cases of listeriosis were reported in England and Wales;
  • incidence rates of listeriosis were highest in people aged 80 years and over;
  • the crude incidence of listeriosis was lower in men than women, but reported cases among men aged 60 to 69 were 7 times higher than in women aged 60 to 69;
  • pregnancy-associated infections accounted for 17.6% of all reported cases and, a third of pregnancy-associated cases resulted in stillbirth or miscarriage;
  • among non-pregnancy associated cases of listeriosis, death was reported for 23 cases (19.7%), of whom 15 (12.8%) were known to have listeriosis recorded as a cause of death on the death certificate
  • incidence of listeriosis varied geographically, with the lowest incidence in East of England (0.14 per 100,000 population) and the highest in London (0.39 per 100,0000 population); and,
  • there were 4 listeriosis outbreaks investigated in England, including a national outbreak associated with the consumption of prepacked hospital sandwiches.

Uncooked, frozen chicken thingies can support Listeria growth while refrigerated

Battered poultry products may be wrongly regarded and treated by consumers as ready-to-eat and, as such, be implicated in foodborne disease outbreaks. This study aimed at the quantitative description of the growth behavior of Listeria monocytogenes in fresh, partially cooked (non-ready-to-eat) battered chicken nuggets as function of temperature.

Commercially prepared chicken breast nuggets were inoculated with L. monocytogenes and stored at different isothermal conditions (4, 8, 12, and 16 ◦C). The pathogen’s growth behavior was characterized via a two-step predictive modelling approach: estimation of growth kinetic parameters using a primary model, and description of the effect of temperature on the estimated maximum specific growth rate (µmax) using a secondary model. Model evaluation was undertaken using independent growth data under both constant and dynamic temperature conditions.

According to the findings of this study, L. monocytogenes may proliferate in battered chicken nuggets in the course of their shelf life to levels potentially hazardous for susceptible population groups, even under well-controlled refrigerated storage conditions. Model evaluation demonstrated a satisfactory performance, where the estimated bias factor (Bf ) was 0.92 and 1.08 under constant and dynamic temperature conditions, respectively, while the accuracy factor (Af ) value was 1.08, in both cases. The collected data should be useful in model development and quantitative microbiological risk assessment in battered poultry products.

Growth of listeria monocytogenes in partially cooked battered chicken nuggets as a function of storage temperature

Foods

Alexandra Lianou 1,2,* , Ourania Raftopoulou 1,3, Evgenia Spyrelli 1 and George-John E. Nychas

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/10/3/533/pdf&ct=ga&cd=CAEYAioUMTU3Mzc2NTg4ODIwOTE2MzgzNjUyGmJjNzcwZjA5NzVmNGIyOGU6Y29tOmVuOlVT&usg=AFQjCNGHUZ4Vg4Z1TEbxdVmoTgOmDqUPkQ

Humans and animals both at risk from contaminated pet food

Some time about 2009, I was walking the dogs on a Sunday morning on the Kansas State University campus with a Canadian graduate student who was getting her MS degree at K-State, and we ran into University president, Jon Wefald.

We exchanged pleasantries, he was enamored by the dogs, and soon the conversation turned a pet food recall that had sickened dozens of humans with some bad bug.

Jon asked me, how are people getting sick from pet food and I explained the sometimes lack of process validation in pet food, the wonderful world of cross-contamination, of and that sometimes people ate pet food directly.

Jon was aghast.

I was, meh.

So that’ why these pet food recalls s are important, because the product can all to easily sicken humans along with their pets.

Bravo Packing, Inc. has recalled all Ground Beef and Performance Dog frozen raw pet food because it may be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

No illnesses have been reported, but pets who eat the food and people who handle it can become sick with Salmonella and/or Listeria infections.

The recall involves Performance Dog and Ground Beef Raw Pet Food, which are both sold frozen in 2-pound and 5-pound plastic sleeves.

Bravo Packing issued the recall voluntarily after product samples of Performance Dog and a sample of Ground Beef tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria after an FDA inspection.

The FDA warns that pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, vomiting, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, or show no symptoms at all.