14 sick in NH: Know where your E. coli O157:H7 comes from

As the number of sick in New Hampshire with E. coli O157:H7 climbs to 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) has announced a connection between a N.H. farm and at least eight of the cases.

pt.farm.nh.jul.16As a result, PT Farm in North Haverhill is recalling 8,800 pounds of ground beef produced between June 6 and June 16.

FSIS stated they are worried costumers may be storing contaminated ground beef in freezers.

From USDA:

PT Farm, LLC, a North Haverhill, N.H. establishment, is recalling approximately 8,800 pounds of raw beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.  

The raw, intact and non-intact beef product items (ground beef, ground beef patties and other sub-primal cuts) were produced between June 6 and June 16, 2016. The following products are subject to recall:

Various weights and various sizes of raw intact and raw non-intact “Chestnut Farms” beef products packed in cardboard boxes.

Various weights and various sizes of raw intact and raw non-intact “PT Farm” beef products packed in cardboard boxes.

Various weights and various sizes of raw intact and raw non-intact “Miles Smith Farm” beef products packed in cardboard boxes.

Various weights and various sizes of raw intact and raw non-intact “Robie Farm” beef products packed in cardboard boxes.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “M8868” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations and for institutional use in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.                           

FSIS was notified of an E. coli O157:H7 illness cluster on July 20, 2016. Working in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, FSIS determined that there is a link between the beef products from PT Farm and this illness cluster. Based on epidemiological investigation, 14 case-patients have been identified with illness onset dates ranging from June 15 to July 10, 2016. Traceback for 8 case-patients for whom data was available led back to a single day of production at PT Farm. This investigation is ongoing. FSIS continues to work with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

  1. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume beef products that have been cooked to a temperature of 145° F for roasts with a three minute rest time and 160° F for ground meat. The only way to confirm that beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ.

12 sick with E. coli in New Hampshire

New Hampshire health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli associated with ground beef

rare.hamburgerSince June, 12 people in the state have been infected with the same strain of E. coli after eating ground beef, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services. The safety of ground beef is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is assisting the state investigation.

“Ground beef is a known source of E. coli and it is important for people to avoid eating under-cooked ground beef whether at home or at a restaurant,” said Marcella Bobinsky, acting director of the state DPHS. “Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to severe illness with this infection.”

The people who became ill ate ground beef at a number of different locations. State health officials and the USDA are working to identify the specific source.

Ground beef should be cooked at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

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New Hampshire audit finds state falling behind on food inspections, one facility went 15 years without review

Live free or die.

nh.live.free.or.dieAccording to yet another feature about restaurant inspections, nearly one in five of the New Hampshire’s highest-risk food establishments weren’t inspected at all in 2013 or 2014, despite a federal recommendation they be inspected several times a year.

During that two-year period, the 474 highest-risk establishments in New Hampshire – high-volume food processing plants and large restaurants and dining halls – went an average of 427 days since their last state inspection. One unnamed facility went uninspected for 5,270 days, nearly 15 years.

Those are just a few findings outlined in a recent state audit that reveals flaws in the Food Protection Section, a branch of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services charged with preventing food illnesses and ensuring consumer safety.

State auditors found food inspectors lacked oversight of towns that run their own food protection programs, rarely inspected agricultural fairs or soup kitchens, and didn’t properly collect and manage fees, resulting in an estimated loss of $1.2 million to state coffers between 2013 and 2014. During the two-year audit period, officials found state inspections decreased and complaints rose.

The Department of Health and Human Services agreed with many of the audit’s recommendations, and said it is pursing a new public health accreditation and has plans to launch a database this fall that will shift some critical operations online and give the public electronic access to inspection results.

But the department also pointed out that in recent years the Legislature has been rolling back food safety regulations and the Food Protection Section, made up of 15 employees, has faced staff reductions.

Since 2008, the food inspection program, which oversees roughly 5,352 food establishments in the state, has lost a shellfish supervisor, a food inspector and a food emergency response specialist and inspector.

21 sickened from pet treats; NH salmonella outbreak linked to dog jerky; source found using science, teamwork and questions

How did health officials figure out that the salmonella bacteria that hospitalized more than a dozen people around Nashua and Concord, New Hampshire, this summer came from the same source – dehydrated chicken sold as dog treats?

Science, teamwork and questions. Lots of questions.

“We have a questionnaire we give to every salmonella case that we investigate. It asks about 30 food items,” said Beth Daly, chief of infectious joeysjerkydisease surveillance for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

“If we know that they are potentially part of a cluster of cases, we give them a much longer questionnaire – 12 pages – that asks about several hundred food items. And from there, once you have a hypothesis, you might need to administer a third questionnaire,” she said.

David Merrill, of Nashua, knows this firsthand.

“The city called me – a nurse, I think. She asked me a series of questions like where did I eat and what foods did I have, did I buy anything from a farmer’s market, have I eaten lettuce, things of that nature,” Merrill said. “Lots of questions.”

Merrill, 76, was hospitalized for five days in late August with salmonellosis caused by bacteria he picked up on his hands while handling Joey’s Jerky treats, dehydrated chicken meat. He had bought the product for more than two months and fed it to the family’s two Havanese dogs, Mulligan and Patches.

“I feed the dogs treats – when my daughter isn’t looking,” joked the retired software developer, who has fully recovered.

The treats were voluntarily recalled Tuesday by their maker, an in-home company called Kritter’s Kitchen Kreations in Loudon, after state health officials found that 21 people who became sick from salmonella had all bought the product. More than half those people were hospitalized.

Tests confirmed Wednesday that the treats were the source of the salmonella.

“The most likely reason is that the jerky was under-processed; the dehydrator didn’t kill the bacteria,” said Beth Daly, chief of infectious disease surveillance for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Live free or die: maybe New Hampshire can do better against Hepatitis A, noro

Last month, two employees at the Contoocook Covered Bridge Restaurant in New Hampshire contracted hepatitis A within about two weeks of each other. Their diagnoses prompted public warnings from the state and more than 1,000 vaccinations administered to those caddyshack.pool.poop-1who had recently been to the restaurant or the American Legion in Contoocook.

Although the kitchen passed every inspection before and after the hepatitis A cases in its workers, manager Jeremy Frost said business has plunged and shows no sign of recovery.

“It’s dropped down dramatically,” Frost said. “Overall if you average together, it’s 50 percent that we’re down.”

Restaurant owner Donna Walter said, “We have to say something so surrounding people know we are still a safe place.”

People will know you are a safe place when you publicly promote your food safety standards, and look into Hepatitis A vaccines for all employees.

And in a typical case of blame-the-person, after at least 21 folks got sick with norovirus at Pawtuckaway State Park in NH, officials said “swimming and camping at the park is safe as long as people practice good hygiene.”


Live Free or Die (hard): New Hampshire House bill seeks to exempt N.H. food from federal safety rules

NHBR reports that a bill that would exempt foods produced and sold in New Hampshire from federal food safety regulations is running into opposition from some of the very groups the bill says it would help.

A hearing on House Bill 1650 is scheduled for Friday. Sponsored by Rep. Josh Davenport, R-Newmarket, the measure would establish a "Made in New Hampshire" brand for foods that are grown or produced in the state.

Under the bill, so long as those foodstuffs were labeled as being "Made in New Hampshire" and sold only within the state, they would be subject only to state regulations and exempt from federal regulations.

Bill sponsors say it would promote the state’s agricultural economy, help small farmers and expand access to fresh, healthy foods.

But the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation, which represents the interests of farmers in the state, has come out in opposition to the bill, which it said "goes too far."

"There does need to be some oversight, and we recognize that," said Rob Johnson, executive director of the Farm Bureau.

In writing the bill, he said, "they really haven’t talked to the farmers on this."

"The real concern here is that we have all manner of onerous federal regulations coming down the pike that are making it illegal to do certain types of business in this state," said Rep. Andrew Manuse, R-Derry, who co-sponsored and helped write HB 1650.

Added Davenport: "The state of New Hampshire is perfectly capable of ensuring the safety of its own small farms and food production businesses."

Lorraine Merrill, the state’s agriculture commissioner said concerns, "relate to food safety and the reputation of New Hampshire food and products."

Merrill also called into question just how enforceable the bill would be, since it would be difficult to stop farmers along the border from selling their food out of state.

All it would take is for one of these "Made in New Hampshire"-labeled foods to be contaminated and make someone sick to damage the reputation of all food made in the state, said Johnson of the Farm Bureau.

50 kids sickened by Salmonella in pudding at NH camp; it was the pudding mixer

Health officials say a mixer used to make pudding was the source of salmonella that sickened over 50 children at the Stone Environmental Camp in Madison, N.H., this month.

The food for the campers is prepared by Purity Springs, where the camp is located. Officials said the mixer is sanitized after each use, but a possible defect may have allowed bacteria to get to an area where it couldn’t be cleaned out.