244 Marines sickened with shiga-toxin producing E. coli

One of the proudest things I’ve done is help train U.S. military veterinarians in food safety each year I was at Kansas State University.

I still carry the warrant officer badge in my knapsack.

 Steven M. Sellers of BNA writes that Sodexo Inc. is facing a surge of foodborne illness lawsuits over undercooked beef its employees allegedly served at two Marine Corps bases in California.

Tristan Abbott’s Aug. 24 complaint, the most recent of three suits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleges he suffered kidney and brain damage from beef contaminated with a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria.

Sodexo, the food and facilities management giant that serves corporations, schools, and the military, says it provides “quality of life” food and other services at 13,000 sites across the U.S. and Canada. The suits questions whether it lived up to its mission at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

At least 244 Marine recruits were sickened in the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli last year. Thirty were hospitalized, 15 with life-threatening kidney failure, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacteria, known as E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and life-threatening complications in some cases.

Abbott was placed on dialysis and developed neurological symptoms from the infection, for which he received a medical discharge from the Marines in April, he says.

Investigators from the CDC and the Department of Defense found a “statistically significant association” between ill recruits and undercooked ground beef, for which Sodexo employees only intermittently checked temperatures, the complaint states.

“We recommended the Navy and Marine Corps retain lot information, address food handling concerns, and improve hygiene among recruits,” CDC researchers reported at an Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in April. The investigators also noted “poor hygiene practices among recruits.”

Sodexo told Bloomberg Law Aug. 27 that the source the outbreak remains uncertain.

E. coli O157 outbreak at Marine base in San Diego and chest thumping

The leading cause of immobilizing U.S. troops?

Foodborne illness.

My former dean was known as Dr. Clorox while serving in Vietnam.

I used to give training sessions to food types headed for Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Riley (in Manhattan, Kansas) and would sheepishly say, I have no idea what you’re going to face in terms of potable water, but bleach is your friend.

I reported in Nov. 2017 that a bunch of Marines training in San Diego got sick from Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

The eventual number would be about 220.

Food safety lawyer Bill Marler wrote the other day that the outbreak “seemed to fall a bit below the radar.”

That means below his litigation radar, not the public awareness radar. Yesterday he filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court of California against Sodexo Inc. on behalf of Illinois resident, Vincent Grano who developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection from food served at the cafeteria and mess hall at a Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Sodexo, a Delaware company, provides food and facility management services for the United States Marine Corps Depot in San Diego. Mr. Grano is represented by Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, and Gordon and Holmes, a local San Diego firm.

Marler also wrote the other day that two of his blogs made the Top 30 Food Safety Blogs, Websites & Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot.com.

I don’t pay attention to this kind of shit and wouldn’t unless Marler’s chest-thumping could be heard across the Pacific Ocean.

Maybe he’s like Sarah Palin and looks out and sees me.

It’s nice to be included in some BS list of top-30 food safety bloggers, but it’s better to be #1.

That would be barfblog.com.

And we’re not trying.

Always use a thermometer: 244 sickened by shiga toxin-producing E. coli at US Marine training base

In Nov. 2017, over 200 U.S. Marines-in-training were sickened by shiga-toxin producing E. coli at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Camp Pendleton.

That outbreak was blamed on undercooked beef prepared by a civilian contractor, according to the results of an investigation.

First rule of public health (substitute military or any other organization): make public health look good.

According to Healio, the outbreak occurred in October and November among newly enlisted men at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, and Camp Pendleton, a nearby base where recruits conduct weapons and field training, according to Amelia A. Keaton, MD, MS, EIS officer in the CDC’s Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch.

The outbreak involved Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC) — a major cause of foodborne illness in the United States each year and the pathogen responsible for the current multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce. In all, 244 male recruits are suspected of being sickened, including 15 who developed a life-threatening complication of STEC infections called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Among those who developed HUS, six were deemed critically ill but none died, Keaton told Infectious Disease News during the CDC’s annual EIS conference.

She said the outbreak presented several challenges for investigators and highlighted some unique risk factors among military trainees living in close quarters.

“Nobody on our team had a military background, so we first wanted to understand what their training environment is like,” Keaton said. “Do they have any unique exposures that people in the general public don’t have? We wanted to get a sense of what day-to-day life was like for these guys and what risk factors for infection they were exposed to.”

Keaton and colleagues interviewed 43 case patients and 135 healthy controls, plus Marine officers, food workers and staff. They observed food preparation practices and studied recruit sleeping quarters, bathroom facilities and cafeterias where meals were served to around 2,000 to 3,000 recruits at a time, Keaton said.

Although they were unable to directly test any meat, through interviews investigators found that ill recruits were 2.4 times likelier to report consuming undercooked beef than healthy controls. Moreover, Keaton said investigators directly observed beef being undercooked.

According to Keaton, most dining facilities on military bases are run by civilian contractors, including the facilities involved in this outbreak, which offered the same menu prepared by the same company. The Navy is in charge of inspecting such facilities once a month, she said.

“A lot of people reported eating meals that were visibly undercooked,” Keaton said. “When we observed food preparation, we saw that food workers were cooking a large number of hamburger patties and a large number of meals. Because such a large number of meals are being prepared, they’re only able to check foods intermittently with a meat thermometer. In some instances, we saw there were temperature abuses where they weren’t necessarily cooking to temperatures recommended by California state law.”

85 sick with shiga-toxin E. coli at Marines base

About 85 U.S. Marines-in-training remained ill last week after an apparent shiga-toxin producing E. coli outbreak at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Camp Pendleton amid a week-old outbreak of diarrheal illnesses at the military installations, authorities reported.

Among the medical cases were 19 new ones diagnosed since Oct. 31, 2017, according to MCRD public affairs. In all, 16 recruits were receiving treatment at an off-base hospital, with the remainder being cared for at military medical facilities.

Base officials initially announced a total of about 300 cases of intestinal ailments at the 2 San Diego-area installations on Oct. 30, 2017.

 That tally was down to roughly 215 a day later. The cause or causes of the debilitating bacterial exposure remain under investigation.

US Marines will do better than ‘subsist’ on Australian food

They will stay for years, number up to 2500, possibly have their own aircraft and artillery, train with the Aboriginal-dominated Norforce unit and drop in to help in Asia-Pacific disaster zones alongside Australia’s Diggers.

But whatever you do, don’t call the Marine Rotational Force in Darwin, Australia, part of a U.S. base.

”No, no again,” said Lieutenant-Colonel AnDroy Senegar when pressed on how much his operation looked like the forerunner of an official base.

”We will build no infrastructure. We will subsist on Australian food. We will be part of the community. It will be a partnership. We will not be intrusive.”

No worries, here’s our dinner from a couple of days ago: Moreton Bay sand crabs with stuffed shells. Whatever the Marines eat, there will be choices aplenty.

When the Marines arrived in early April for the first of their six-month rotations, then federal Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, justified their presence by saying: ”The world is moving in our direction. It is moving to the Asia-Pacific.

”It is not just the rise of China, it is the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the ASEAN economies combined, the emergence of Indonesia, not just as a regional influence but as a global influence,” he said at a welcoming ceremony in Darwin.