Wish I’d had a Halloween like this: Pennsylvania police urge parents to check for THC-laced Nerds Rope edibles

Danielle Garrand of CBS reports that parents have been encouraged to check their children’s Halloween candy for years to ensure the tasty treats are safe for kids to eat. This spooky season, Pennsylvania police are urging caregivers to be on the lookout once again — for drug-laced edibles.

The Johnstown Police Department issued a warning on their Facebook page Thursday morning after authorities said they discovered “Nerds Rope edibles containing 400mg of THC” while fulfilling a search warrant in Stoneycreek Township. The department also recently seized 60 pounds of marijuana from the area, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

“During this Halloween, we urge parents to be ever vigilant in checking their children’s candy before allowing them to consume those treats,” wrote the department. “Drug laced edibles are package like regular candy and may be hard to distinguish from the real candy.”

The authorities included photos of the edibles labeled as “Nerds Rope” with warning labels dubbing the items “for medical use only.” The label also urged those who may use the product to “keep out of reach of children and animals.”

The candy manufacturer that produces Nerds, Ferrara Candy Company, issued a statement saying it is “working with the relevant authorities.”

Raw is risky: Drug-resistant brucellosis linked to raw milk

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials are investigating potential exposures to Brucella strain RB51 (RB51) in 19 states, connected to consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Quarryville, Pennsylvania. One case of RB51 infection (brucellosis) has been confirmed in New York, and an unknown number of people may have been exposed to RB51 from drinking the milk from this farm. This type of Brucella is resistant to first-line drugs and can be difficult to diagnose because of limited testing options and the fact that early brucellosis symptoms are similar to those of more common illnesses like flu.­

The New York case is the third known instance of an infection with RB51 associated with consuming raw milk or raw milk products produced in the United States. The other two human cases occurred in October 2017 in New Jersey and in August 2017 in Texas. Those cases reported drinking raw milk from an online retailer and a Texas farm, respectively. In addition to these three confirmed cases, hundreds of others were potentially exposed to RB51 during these three incidents.

RB51 is a live, weakened strain used in a vaccine to protect cows against a more severe form of Brucella infection that can cause abortions in cows and severe illness in people. On rare occasions, cows vaccinated with RB51 vaccine can shed the bacteria in their milk. People who drink raw milk from cows that are shedding RB51 can develop brucellosis.

People who consumed raw milk or raw milk products from this dairy farm since January 2016 may have been exposed and should talk to their doctor.

People who are still within six months of the date they last consumed the raw milk are at an increased risk for brucellosis and should receive antibiotics to prevent an infection and symptoms, and should monitor their health for possible symptoms for six months. If symptoms develop, they should see their doctor immediately for testing.

Milk samples from Miller’s Biodiversity tested positive for RB51. A cow that tested positive for RB51 has been removed from the milking herd.

At least 50 treated after reported Salmonella outbreak at teacher’s picnic in Pennsylvania

Health officials say at least 50 people were treated after a reported salmonella infection at a weekend picnic in central Pennsylvania.

The Centre Daily Times reports that Grace Prep High School said in a Facebook video Saturday that at least half of the 100 to 150 guests at a going-away picnic for a longtime teacher Friday had fallen ill with symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

Mount Nittany Medical Center said its doctors had seen 50 patients associated with a common activity since Saturday who had gastrointestinal-type symptoms.

School founder Bob Gresh said the bug had been confirmed to be salmonella. The source is unknown, but state health officials are testing samples of food from the picnic.

Pennsylvania family coping with daughter’s E. coli death

Jaccii Farris of 69 News reports a community rallies around a Bucks County family who is dealing with a heartbreaking loss.

They say their preschool-aged daughter died because of the E. coli bacteria.

Someone close to the Robert family started a YouCaring page to help with medical expenses after three members of the family were stricken by the bacteria back in April.

The pictures of the family of four posted on the site are from a happier time. 

Now, members of the community are coming to their side at their darkest hour.

According to the website, on April 15th the Robert’s son Tyler was hospitalized at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with a strain of E. coli that impacts the kidneys.

But soon after he was admitted, his mother and sister Hailey became ill.

Hailey was also admitted to CHOP.

Over the next two weeks, the family posted daily updates. Tyler was doing better, but Hailey was struggling.

May 2 came the hardest post a mother could make. Hailey lost her battle against the bacteria.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirms that an E. coli death occurred at CHOP, but would not name the victim due to HIPAA.

Officials say the death is not related to the recent E. coli cases associated with lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona region. 
Bucks County family loses daughter to E. coli

Recall: Apples and goat milk may not mix

This is a little old, but I’m playing catch-up.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers not to eat goat cheese products manufactured by Apple Tree Goat Dairy of Richfield, Penn. (Apple Tree), because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

apple-tree-goat-dairyApple Tree manufactures pasteurized and 60-day aged, semi-soft, and hard goat cheeses under the Apple Tree Goat Dairy brand. The products were sold in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey through Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, West End Farmers Market in Alexandria, Va., Ambler (Penn.) Farmers Market, and Doylestown (Penn.) Farmers Market.

On September 12, 2016, FDA began its inspection of Apple Tree’s manufacturing facility in Richfield, PA. In addition to observing poor sanitation practices, FDA took environmental samples that identified Listeria monocytogenes in 18 environmental samples from Apple Tree’s processing, packaging, and storage areas, including food-contact surfaces such as a cheese slicer, cheese mold, tables, and plates used to hold cheese before packaging. FDA also tested Apple Tree’s goat cheese. Two of the finished goat cheeses and 18 of the environmental samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

On September 20, 2016, Apple Tree initiated a voluntary recall of the four lots of goat cheeses that PDA tested and found positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Later in September, Apple Tree expanded its recall to include all of its goat cheeses, but FDA is not aware of any public notification to consumers announcing the expanded recall. Accordingly, FDA is issuing this release and working with PDA to monitor this situation and take appropriate actions to protect consumers from Apple Tree goat cheeses that may have been exposed to or contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Although no illnesses have been reported to date in association with Apple Tree’s goat cheeses, Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening infection called listeriosis.

Irrigation water safety in Penn.

Recent produce-associated foodborne illness outbreaks have been attributed to contaminated irrigation water. This study examined microbial levels in Pennsylvania surface waters used for irrigation, relationships between microbial indicator organisms and water physicochemical characteristics, and the potential use of indicators for predicting the presence of human pathogens.

A total of 153 samples taken from surface water sources used for irrigation in southeastern Pennsylvania were collected from 39 farms over a 2-year period. Samples were analyzed for six microbial indicator organisms (aerobic plate count, Enterobacteriaceae, coliform, fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, and enterococci), two human pathogens (Salmonella and E. coli O157), and seven physical and environmental characteristics (pH, conductivity, turbidity, air and water temperature, and sampling day and 3-day-accumulated precipitation levels).

Indicator populations were highly variable and not predicted by water and environmental characteristics. Only five samples were confirmed positive for Salmonella, and no E. coli O157 was detected in any samples. Predictive relationships between microbial indicators and the occurrence of pathogens could therefore not be determined.

Microbial survey of Pennsylvania surface water used for irrigating produce crops

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 902-912(11)

Draper, Audrey D.; Doores, Stephanie; Gourama, Hassan; LaBorde, Luke F.



Pennsylvania eatery inspections not enough

According to this editorial, it’s too difficult for Pa. diners walking into a restaurant to know if it has failed inspections recently.

Insect infestations. Rodent droppings. Unsanitary food storage.

web1_Restaurant_Inspections_WingsUnfortunately, these are common problems uncovered by state restaurant inspectors – who provide an important service to protect diners against illness or even death.

But a recent YDR inspection of the inspection system shows that it could be more useful and transparent for citizens.

The state does not require restaurants to post notices when they have failed inspections. Restaurants are required to post a sign saying the most recent inspection report is available upon request. But it’s up to customers to ask to see those reports. How useful is that? How many people walking into a restaurant would feel comfortable asking for an inspection report?

Customers can also check out inspection reports online. But that database is not easy to find and is very difficult to use on a mobile phone. You can find the database at the state Department of Agriculture’s website, but how many people would guess they need to go to the ag department for that information?

State officials will find that people really want easy access to this information. YDR reports on restaurant inspections are among the most popular stories on our website.

The state should develop an app.

The state largely depends on the power of shame to punish poorly run eateries. Publicity about failed inspections can result in business losses.

Restaurants with severe violations can also be fined – an average of $100.

Is that enough? And are fines and civil penalties pursued often enough?


Most inspectors don’t levy fines because then they have to show up in court – a big hassle for a measly $100 fine. But when people’s lives are potentially at risk because of poor food handling, it’s worth the hassle of a court appearance.

State lawmakers should consider increasing fines – particularly for chronic inspection failures. And the state should charge restaurants that fail inspections for all follow-up visits. As it stands now, the first re-inspection is free.

Another thing lawmakers should consider: A visible rating system for restaurants.

Some other states use systems whereby restaurants are graded (A, B, C, D, F) or given a color code (green, yellow, red) based on inspection results.

What happens when a restaurant refuses health order to close: Nothing (maybe double-secret probabtion)

The Allegheny County Health Department issued a second notice of closure to Rudy’s Submarines at 270 Yost Boulevard Friday after the restaurant’s health permit was suspended Thursday.

rudys-submarinesRudy’s was ordered to close for failing to correct numerous violations, according to the Health Department. The violations include lacking a certified food protection manager, as well as not having a hand washing sink in a food preparation area, hot water in a hand washing sink, soap to wash hands or date-marking equipment.

In addition, the Health Department said that a “food contact surface” at the restaurant on Yost Boulevard was not properly cleaned and sanitized, and the floor and ceiling were in poor condition.

Although Rudy’s health permit was suspended Thursday, the Health Department found that the restaurant remained open Friday. It was again ordered to close.

Deer brains, other parts found at Pennsylvania restaurant

I’ve always referred to The Odds song, Eat My Brain, as the CJD song.

my.brain.hurtsEating brains is not a good idea.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission confiscated deer brains and other deer parts from a Lititz restaurant earlier this month, according to state inspectors.

The brains, heads, muscle meat and other parts were taken after New China House’s operator couldn’t provide documentation the game meat was from an approved source, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspection report. 

The game commission is investigating, according to PennLive.

A confidential tip led to the investigation, a commission spokesman told PennLive. Travis Lau said game animals for consumption must be farm-raised and game shot by hunters cannot be sold.

New China’s owner told PennLive that he doesn’t sell deer meat and that deer bones confiscated were for soup for him and his wife.

The deer parts violation was one of 18 violations documented on a Dec. 16 inspection, according to the agriculture department’s report. A follow-up inspection Dec. 17 documented 14 violations, including an unidentifiable pig organ, which the operator’s wife said was her lunch. It was discarded.

Pennsylvania funeral director dismayed by court ruling reinstating food ban

“I drove down your road

to Hazeldean where I tasted

greasy.jungle.hipyour funeral home’s sandwiches and coffee

I saw your hands melt into one another

I saw you grieve and grow

care a lot about one another”

Greasy Jungle, 1994, Tragically Hip

A federal judge has ordered no more food service at Pennsylvania funeral homes.

The food ban at Pennsylvania funeral homes was instituted in 1952 out of food safety concerns.  Then, in 2012, a federal judge deemed the earlier ruling unconstitutional.

Now, a federal appeals court has reversed the reversal, once again banning food at funeral homes in the commonwealth.

Chad Snyder, director of Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home in Lancaster, Pa. says he’s baffled and  disappointed by the ruling.

“There are many other places that would come to the conclusion of health hazards,” he said today.  “I mean, retirement communities, hospitals — they also provide food service.”

He says it was an ancillary service that gave comfort to families.