I knew I wouldn’t get into rehab Friday morning because I had been drinking at 3 a.m. in a vain attempt to go back to sleep.
Gotta blow zero to get into rehab, which I’ll do Monday.
But, as I said to one of my rehab buddies, whose life has spun out of control, yet he got 90% in the law courses he has taken, own it. Don’t be ashamed.
He said, I read your blog and it seems you had a falling out with Ben.
I said I’ve had a falling out with my wife of 13 years every week (she’s at hockey practice, 6 a.m. in Brisbane).
Ben, about the same.
Or, the people you are closest with and feel vulnerable enough to share your fears, are the ones to lash out at.
The produce industry needs a similar self-reckoning.
Candice Choi of APwrites that after repeated food poisoning outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce, the produce industry is confronting the failure of its own safety measures in preventing contaminations.
The E. coli outbreak announced just before Thanksgiving follows one in the spring that sickened more than 200 people and killed five, and another last year that sickened 25 and killed one. No deaths have been reported in the latest outbreak, but the dozens of illnesses highlight the challenge of eliminating risk for vegetables grown in open fields and eaten raw, the role of nearby cattle operations that produce huge volumes of manure and the delay of stricter federal food safety regulations.
A contested aspect of the regulation, for example, would require testing irrigation water for E. coli. The Food and Drug Administration put the measure on hold when the produce industry said such tests wouldn’t necessarily help prevent outbreaks. Additional regulations on sanitation for workers and equipment — other potential sources of contamination — only recently started being implemented.
We’ve been saying the same thing for over 20 years.
The food safety efforts are hidden behind layers of bafflegab that consumers don’t care about, with their crying kids at the grocery store, and their partners who don’t understand the stress they are under and all sorts of modern angst.
Tom Karst of The Packer writes that a new survey from food and marketing agency Charleston Orwig found that more than a quarter of consumers said they do not trust the vigilance of the food industry’s safety efforts.
In a blog post called “Food Safety in America – Time to Bolster Consumer Confidence,” the agency reported a survey of 500 consumers found:
When asked if they trusted the food industry for safe food, 48% said they do trust the food industry and 27% said they did not;
More than 77% of consumers say that cooking a meal in their own kitchens is the best way to ensure it is safe to eat;
Restaurants were deemed the second safest, with more than 59% of consumers considering this to be a reliable option;
Just 29% of respondents consider food trucks or public vendors safe and almost 42% considering this option potentially unsafe;
Asked to compare food safety now versus a decade ago, about 35% of consumer said food is safer and 32% said it was less safe;
The survey said 59% of consumers said they assume food from individual farmers, food manufacturers or restaurants is safe if they have not heard about a specific problem;
The survey said that having had a food-borne illness did not make a person think food was less safe than participants overall;
49% of consumers said grains, beans and pasta are the safest foods, followed by fresh fruits and vegetables at 42%;
Leafy greens and lettuce were tied with processed food as the next category of highest concern with 45% of consumers rating them risky, according to the survey; and
55% say meat and poultry are the riskiest to eat; the blog post speculated the divide could be tied to people’s overall perception of what makes up a healthy diet.
I had David Bowie’s Modern Love linked to this post, but just couldn’t do it, because I don’t like David Bowie. Instead you get Pete.
The purpose of this draft compliance and implementation guidance document is to help covered farms comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, which establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce. Entitled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,” the rule is part of FDA’s implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The draft guidance provides a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule. It also outlines how to determine whether produce or farms may be eligible for exemptions from certain requirements, or from the rule in its entirety.
Specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited, and in some cases, specified using the word must. The use of the word should indicates that something is recommended, but not required. The use of the word including means options that are not limited to the described items.
You are encouraged to submit comments on the draft guidance within 180 days of the publish date to ensure your comments are considered while FDA works on the final version of the guidance.
In addition to the draft guidance, there is an At-a-Glance overview of key points in each of the nine chapters described below, as well as a glossary of key terms. The overviews summarize important aspects of each chapter. It is recommended that you review the draft guidance itself for complete information.
Friend of the barfblog and fresh food safety advocate Keith Warriner of the University of Guelph has been recognized by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) with an award.
U of G and Moyers Apple Products were awarded the 2018 Mind to Market Award for Outstanding Research Collaboration and Commercialization on Oct. 17. Awards are given to partnerships that exemplify “the success that is possible when the brightest minds in industry and research collaborate to address today’s most critical issues.”
The commercial truck shipment was crossing at the Blue Water Bridge Oct. 21, and CPB officers with the Port Huron Anti-Terrorism and Contraband Enforcement Team selected it for an enforcement exam, according to a news release.
During the inspection and interview of the driver, officers found plastic wrapped packages in some of the berry boxes. The officers conducted a field test of the suspected narcotics in the packages, and confirmed it was cocaine, according to the release.
“This arrest demonstrates the continued effort by our officers, their dedication to our border security mission and the focus on the export of illicit narcotics” Port Director Michael Fox said in the release.
The driver, a Canadian citizen, was arrested and the case was sent to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suspect was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, according to the release.
Nice to see the American Society for Microbiology catch up (nothing personal, Randy, just idle academic chirping, but at least you get paid).
Fresh produce supply chains present variable and diverse conditions that are relevant to food quality and safety because they may favor microbial growth and survival following contamination. This study presents the development of a simulation and visualization framework to model microbial dynamics on fresh produce moving through postharvest supply chain processes.
The postharvest supply chain with microbial travelers (PSCMT) tool provides a modular process modeling approach and graphical user interface to visualize microbial populations and evaluate practices specific to any fresh produce supply chain. The resulting modeling tool was validated with empirical data from an observed tomato supply chain from Mexico to the United States, including the packinghouse, distribution center, and supermarket locations, as an illustrative case study. Due to data limitations, a model-fitting exercise was conducted to demonstrate the calibration of model parameter ranges for microbial indicator populations, i.e., mesophilic aerobic microorganisms (quantified by aerobic plate count and here termed APC) and total coliforms (TC). Exploration and analysis of the parameter space refined appropriate parameter ranges and revealed influential parameters for supermarket indicator microorganism levels on tomatoes. Partial rank correlation coefficient analysis determined that APC levels in supermarkets were most influenced by removal due to spray water washing and microbial growth on the tomato surface at postharvest locations, while TC levels were most influenced by growth on the tomato surface at postharvest locations. Overall, this detailed mechanistic dynamic model of microbial behavior is a unique modeling tool that complements empirical data and visualizes how postharvest supply chain practices influence the fate of microbial contamination on fresh produce.
IMPORTANCE Preventing the contamination of fresh produce with foodborne pathogens present in the environment during production and postharvest handling is an important food safety goal. Since studying foodborne pathogens in the environment is a complex and costly endeavor, computer simulation models can help to understand and visualize microorganism behavior resulting from supply chain activities. The postharvest supply chain with microbial travelers (PSCMT) model, presented here, provides a unique tool for postharvest supply chain simulations to evaluate microbial contamination. The tool was validated through modeling an observed tomato supply chain. Visualization of dynamic contamination levels from harvest to the supermarket and analysis of the model parameters highlighted critical points where intervention may prevent microbial levels sufficient to cause foodborne illness. The PSCMT model framework and simulation results support ongoing postharvest research and interventions to improve understanding and control of fresh produce contamination.
Postharvest supply chain with microbial travelers: A farm-to-retail microbial simulation and visualization framework
American Society for Microbiology, 10.1128/AEM.00813-18
Claire Zoellner, Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mamun, Yrjo Grohn, Peter Jackson, Randy Worobo
Shannon M. Casillas, Carolyne Bennett and Anne Straily of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control write in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly that cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis through ingestion of fecally contaminated food or water.
Symptoms of cyclosporiasis might include watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Typically, increased numbers of cases are reported in the United States during spring and summer; since the mid-1990s, outbreaks have been identified and investigated almost every year. Past outbreaks have been associated with various types of imported fresh produce (e.g., basil, cilantro, and raspberries) (1). There are currently no validated molecular typing tools* to facilitate linking cases to each other, to food vehicles, or their sources. Therefore, cyclosporiasis outbreak investigations rely primarily on epidemiologic data.
The 2018 outbreak season is noteworthy for multiple outbreaks associated with different fresh produce items and the large number of reported cases. Two multistate outbreaks resulted in 761 laboratory-confirmed illnesses. The first outbreak, identified in June, was associated with prepackaged vegetable trays (containing broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) sold at a convenience store chain in the Midwest; 250 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in persons with exposures in three states (illness onset mid-May–mid-June) (2). The supplier voluntarily recalled the vegetable trays (3).
The second multistate outbreak, identified in July, was associated with salads (containing carrots, romaine, and other leafy greens) sold at a fast food chain in the Midwest; 511 laboratory-confirmed cases during May–July occurred in persons with exposures in 11 states who reported consuming salads (4). The fast food chain voluntarily stopped selling salads at approximately 3,000 stores in 14 Midwest states that received the implicated salad mix from a common processing facility (5).
The traceback investigation conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not identify a single source or potential point of contamination for either outbreak.
In addition to the multistate outbreaks, state public health authorities, CDC, and FDA investigated cyclosporiasis clusters associated with other types of fresh produce, including basil and cilantro. Two basil-associated clusters (eight confirmed cases each) were identified among persons in two different states who became ill during June. Investigation of one cluster, for which the state health department conducted an ingredient-specific case-control study, found consumption of basil to be significantly associated with illness. A formal analytic study was not conducted for the other cluster, but all patients reported consuming basil. Three clusters associated with Mexican-style restaurants in the Midwest have resulted in reports of 53 confirmed cases in persons who became ill during May–August. Analytic studies were conducted for two clusters; consumption of cilantro was found to be significantly associated with illness in both. Although a formal analytic study was not possible for the third cluster, all 32 identified patients reported consuming cilantro at the restaurant. FDA traceback of the basil and cilantro from these clusters is ongoing. Additional clusters associated with Mexican-style restaurants were identified in multiple states; but investigations to determine a single vehicle of infection were unsuccessful because of small case counts, limited exposure information, or because fresh produce items (including cilantro) were served as components of other dishes (e.g., in salsa).
Many cases could not be directly linked to an outbreak, in part because of the lack of validated molecular typing tools for C. cayetanensis. As of October 1, 2018, a total of 2,299 laboratory-confirmed cyclosporiasis cases† have been reported by 33 states in persons who became ill during May 1–August 30 and did not have a history of international travel during the 14 days preceding illness onset. Approximately one third of these cases were associated with either the convenience store chain outbreak or the fast food chain outbreak.
The median patient age was 49 years (range = <1–103 years) and 56% were female (1,288 of 2,285). At least 160 patients were hospitalized; no deaths have been reported.
The 2,299 domestically acquired, laboratory-confirmed cases reported in persons who became ill during May–August 2018 are markedly higher than the numbers of cases reported for the same period in 2016 (174) and 2017 (623). This increase might be due, in part, to changes in diagnostic testing practices, including increased use of gastrointestinal molecular testing panels. CDC is working with state public health partners to determine whether and to what extent changes in testing practices might have contributed to increased case detection and reporting.
Consumers should continue to enjoy fresh produce as part of a well-balanced diet. To reduce risk from most causes of foodborne illness and other contaminants, CDC recommends washing fresh fruits and vegetables with clean running water; however, washing, including use of routine chemical disinfection or sanitizing methods, is unlikely to kill C. cayetanensis. Persons with diarrheal illness that lasts >3 days or who have any other concerning symptoms should see a health care provider if they think they might have become ill from eating contaminated food.
Contributing state and local public health department personnel; Food and Drug Administration
Elizabeth Shogren and Susie Neilson of Reveal write that William Whitt suffered violent diarrhea for days. But once he began vomiting blood, he knew it was time to rush to the hospital. His body swelled up so much that his wife thought he looked like the Michelin Man, and on the inside, his intestines were inflamed and bleeding.
For four days last spring, doctors struggled to control the infection that was ravaging Whitt, a father of three in western Idaho. The pain was excruciating, even though he was given opioid painkillers intravenously every 10 minutes for days.
His family feared they would lose him.
“I was terrified. I wouldn’t leave the hospital because I wasn’t sure he was still going to be there when I got back,” said Whitt’s wife, Melinda.
Whitt and his family were baffled: How could a healthy 37-year-old suddenly get so sick? While he was fighting for his life, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quizzed Whitt, seeking information about what had sickened him.
Finally, the agency’s second call offered a clue: “They kept drilling me about salad,” Whitt recalled. Before he fell ill, he had eaten two salads from a pizza shop.
William Whitt and wife Melinda say it is irresponsible for the Food and Drug Administration to postpone water-testing requirements for produce growers. “People should be able to know that the food they’re buying is not going to harm them and their loved ones,” Melinda Whitt said.
The culprit turned out to be E. coli, a powerful pathogen that had contaminated romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, and distributed nationwide. At least 210 people in 36 states were sickened. Five died and 27 suffered kidney failure. The same strain of E. coli that sickened them was detected in a Yuma canal used to irrigate some crops.
For more than a decade, it’s been clear that there’s a gaping hole in American food safety: Growers aren’t required to test their irrigation water for pathogens such as E. coli. As a result, contaminated water can end up on fruits and vegetables.
After several high-profile disease outbreaks linked to food, Congress in 2011 ordered a fix, and produce growers this year would have begun testing their water under rules crafted by the Obama administration’s Food and Drug Administration.
But six months before people were sickened by the contaminated romaine, President Donald Trump’s FDA – responding to pressure from the farm industry and Trump’s order to eliminate regulations – shelved the water-testing rules for at least four years.
Despite this deadly outbreak, the FDA has shown no sign of reconsidering its plan to postpone the rules. The agency also is considering major changes, such as allowing some produce growers to test less frequently or find alternatives to water testing to ensure the safety of their crops.
“Mystifying, isn’t it?” said Trevor Suslow, a food safety expert at the University of California, Davis. “If the risk factor associated with agricultural water use is that closely tied to contamination and outbreaks, there needs to be something now. … I can’t think of a reason to justify waiting four to six to eight years to get started.”
The deadly Yuma outbreak underscores that irrigation water is a prime source of foodborne illnesses. In some cases, the feces of livestock or wild animals flow into a creek. Then the tainted water seeps into wells or is sprayed onto produce, which is then harvested, processed and sold at stores and restaurants. Salad greens are particularly vulnerable because they often are eaten raw and can harbor bacteria when torn.
After an E. coli outbreak killed three people who ate spinach grown in California’s Salinas Valley in 2006, most California and Arizona growers of leafy greens signed agreements to voluntarily test their irrigation water.
Whitt’s lettuce would have been covered by those agreements. But his story illustrates the limits of a voluntary safety program and how lethal E. coli can be even when precautions are taken by farms and processors.
Farm groups contend that water testing is too expensive and should not apply to produce such as apples or onions, which are less likely to carry pathogens.
“I think the whole thing is an overblown attempt to exert government power over us,” said Bob Allen, a Washington state apple farmer.
While postponing the water-testing rules would save growers $12 million per year, it also would cost consumers $108 million per year in medical expenses, according to an FDA analysis.
“The Yuma outbreak does indeed emphasize the urgency of putting agricultural water standards in place, but it is important that they be the right standards, ones that both meet our public health mission and are feasible for growers to meet,” FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnam said in response to written questions.
In addition, the FDA did not sample water in a Yuma irrigation canal until seven weeks after the area’s lettuce was identified as the cause of last spring’s outbreak. And university scientists trying to learn from the outbreak say farmers have not shared water data with them as they try to figure out how it occurred and avoid future ones.
A man is accused of rubbing his bare behind on produce at a grocery store in northern Virginia before putting the items back on display.
News outlets report 27-year-old Michael Dwayne Johnson, of Manassas, is charged with indecent exposure and destruction of property. A Manassas police release says an employee on Saturday noticed Johnson grabbing produce, pulling down his pants and rubbing the produce on his behind before putting it back.
It says the store had to destroy several pallets of produce because of Johnson’s actions. A police spokeswoman says the report lists fruit as the ruined produce. Authorities have not released a motive.
As of June 28, 2018 (11am EDT), the U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been notified of 185 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in persons who reportedly consumed pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip. The reports have come from four states.
Seven (7) of these people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic evidenceindicates that pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip are the likely source of these infections.
Most ill people reported eating pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip.
Most ill people reported buying pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip in the Midwest. Most people reported buying the trays at Kwik Trip convenience stores.
The investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.
The median illness onset date among patients is May 31, 2018 (range: May 14 to June 9). Ill people range in age from 13 to 79 years old, with a median age of 47. Fifty-seven percent (57%) are female and 7 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Illnesses that began after May 17, 2018 might not have been reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.