Food safety types investigate multistate foodborne illness outbreak from possible turkey products

A new foodborne illness outbreak taking place in multiple states is, according to Food Safety Magazine, being investigated by federal officials, with turkey products identified as the likely source.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service indicated the cause of the outbreak in its investigation table as “Salmonella Hadar, turkey suspect.”

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokeswoman confirmed that the CDC is investigating the outbreak. As of March 15, there have been 22 patients reported across nine states. 

Turkey has been the source of food poisoning outbreaks in the United States in both 2018 and 2019 investigations, involving Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Schwarzengrund, respectively. According to the CDC, the 2019 Salmonella outbreak sickened at least seven people in three states.

The 2018 outbreak involved at least 358 people in the United States who became sick, across 42 states. One death was confirmed, and the illnesses were linked to raw human and pet foods from many sources, including Jennie-O turkey, which recalled some of its products. At the same time in 2018, Canadian officials investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Reading linked to poultry products. Testing showed the same strain on both side of the U.S./Canada border.

Raw is risky: Possible vibrio parahaemolyticus causes prompt raw mussels warning in NZ

New Zealand Food Safety is, according to Outbreak News Today, warning consumers to thoroughly cook mussels before eating following 2 people reportedly becoming sick from Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the Nelson-Tasman region.

Paul Dansted, director of food regulation at New Zealand Food Safety said, “Vibrio parahaemolyticus is bacteria in mussels that may cause food poisoning if they’re undercooked or eaten raw. People with low immunity, pregnant, or elderly should avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish as the illness can be more severe.

“While the cause has not been established both people who became ill have reported eating mussels and as a precaution we are reminding consumers to cook mussels thoroughly before consumption.”

Raw is risky: Contaminated seafood

It’s been a rough few months of outbreaks related to seafood, especially the raw stuff.

More than 500 kilograms of raw oysters from Vietnam were recently seized by Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the products were found to be contaminated with dangerous foodborne viruses,

The FDA said it had seized a shipment of 270 kg of raw oysters contaminated with hepatitis A.

Two other shipments of raw oysters totaling 255 kg, meanwhile, were found to be tainted by norovirus, the agency said, adding that all the products had been confiscated and destroyed.

By Nov. 2020, Florida state health officials reported 33 cases of Vibrio vulnificus in 20 counties, including six deaths had been reported

In Dec. 2020, it was reported that sushi bars at two Harris Teeter stores in Concord, North Carolina, sickened 159 people.

Health officials said that many of the sick people developed symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, and abdominal cramps, but they did not confirm the type of infection.

Last Sept., New Brunswick health officials (that’s a province in Canada) uncovered at least nine cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria found in shellfish that causes gastrointestinal illness in humans.

57 sick: Outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to eggs in Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections involving Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as recent illnesses continue to be reported to PHAC.

Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to eggs has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Many of the individuals who became sick reported consuming, preparing, cooking and baking at home with eggs. Some individuals reported exposure to eggs at an institution (including nursing homes and hospitals) where they resided or worked before becoming ill.

Eggs can sometimes be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria on the shell and inside the egg. The bacteria are most often transmitted to people when they improperly handle, eat or cook contaminated foods.

Illnesses can be prevented if proper safe food handing and cooking practices are followed. PHAC is not advising consumers to avoid eating properly cooked eggs, but this outbreak serves as a reminder that Canadians should always handle raw eggs carefully and cook eggs and egg-based foods to an internal temperature of at least 74 C (165 F) to ensure they are safe to eat.

PHAC is issuing this public health notice to inform Canadians of the investigation findings to date and to share important safe food handling practices to help prevent further Salmonella infections.

As the outbreak investigation is ongoing, it is possible that additional sources could be identified, and food recall warnings related to this outbreak may be issued. This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

As of February 18, 2021, there have been 57 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis illness investigated in the following provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (25), and Nova Scotia (32). Individuals became sick between late October 2020 and late January 2021. Nineteen individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 2 and 98 years of age. The majority of cases (68%) are female.

Between October and December 2020, CFIA issued food recall warnings for a variety of eggs distributed in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The recalled eggs are now past their shelf-life and are no longer available for purchase. Some individuals who became sick in this outbreak reported exposure to recalled eggs; however, there are a number of recent ill individuals that do not.

It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because there is a period of time between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. For this outbreak, the illness reporting period is between three and six weeks.

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but young childrenthe elderlypregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting serious illness.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

Raw or undercooked eggs and egg-based foods carrying Salmonella may look, smell and taste normal, so it’s important to always follow safe food-handling tips if you are buying, cleaning, chilling, cooking and storing any type of eggs or egg-based foods. If contaminated, the Salmonella may be found on the shell itself or may be inside the egg. The following food preparation tips may help reduce your risk of getting sick, but they may not fully eliminate the risk of illness.

  • Always handle raw eggs carefully and cook eggs and egg-based foods to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs. Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm.
  • When purchasing eggs, choose only refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
  • Always wash your hands before and after you touch raw eggs. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
  • Eggs (whether raw or cooked) should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Eggs that have been at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown out.
  • Use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs when preparing foods that aren’t heated (such as icing, eggnog or Caesar salad dressing).
  • Do not taste raw dough, batter or any other product containing raw eggs. Eating even a small amount could make you sick.
  • Microwave cooking of raw eggs is not recommended because of the possibility of uneven heating.
  • Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing eggs or egg-based foods. Use a kitchen sanitizer (following the directions on the container) or a bleach solution (5 mL household bleach to 750 mL of water), and rinse with water.
  • Do not re-use plates, cutting boards or utensils that have come in contact with raw eggs unless they have been thoroughly washed, rinsed and sanitized.
  • Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria. Avoid using sponges as they are harder to keep bacteria-free.
  • Do not prepare food for other people if you think you are sick with a Salmonella infection or suffering from any other contagious illness causing diarrhea.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal or contaminated product.
Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

These symptoms usually last for 4 to 7 days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment, but sometimes antibiotics may be required. In some cases, severe illness may occur and hospitalization may be required. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

Vibrio and oysters: A review

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a Gram‐negative bacterium that is naturally present in the marine environment. Oysters, which are water filter feeders, may accumulate this pathogen in their soft tissues, thus increasing the risk of V. parahaemolyticus infection among people who consume oysters. In this review, factors affecting V. parahaemolyticus accumulation in oysters, the route of the pathogen from primary production to consumption, and the potential effects of climate change were discussed. In addition, intervention strategies for reducing accumulation of V. parahaemolyticus in oysters were presented.

A literature review revealed the following information relevant to the present study: (a) managing the safety of oysters (for human consumption) from primary production to consumption remains a challenge, (b) there are multiple factors that influence the concentration of V. parahaemolyticus in oysters from primary production to consumption, (c) climate change could possibly affect the safety of oysters, both directly and indirectly, placing public health at risk, (d) many intervention strategies have been developed to control and/or reduce the concentration of V. parahaemolyticus in oysters to acceptable levels, but most of them are mainly focused on the downstream steps of the oyster supply chain, and (c) although available regulation and/or guidelines governing the safety of oyster consumption are mostly available in developed countries, limited food safety information is available in developing countries. The information provided in this review may serve as an early warning for managing the future effects of climate change on the safety of oyster consumption.

Managing the risk of vibrio parahaemolyticus infections associated with oyster consumption: A review

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety

Nodali Ndraha, Hin‐chung Wong, Hsin‐I Hsiao

https://doi.org/10.1111/1541-4337.12557

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12557

Jimmy John’s and sprouts — again

Remember when Jimmy John’s, the sandwich favored by university faculty department meetings and college students across the U.S., sickened hundreds of people across the U.S linked to raw alfalfa sprouts so they switched to raw clover sprouts and made more people sick?

It’s happened again.

Chris Koger of The Packer reported in late Dec. 2019 that Sprouts Unlimited, Marion, Iowa, is recalling clover sprouts, which have been linked to a cluster of E. coli cases under investigation in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals is investigating the link between the outbreak and the product from Sprouts Unlimited, according to a Dec. 27 recall notice from the company.

The sprouts were shipped to Hy-Vee and Fareway Foods stores, and Jimmy John’s restaurants.

The retail packs in the recall are in pint containers with a blue label on the lid, according to Sprouts Unlimited. The Universal Product Code is 7 32684 00013 6 is on the bottom right side of the label.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals told Sprouts Unlimited the sprouts are epidemiologically linked to the outbreak. More tests are being conducted to determine the source, according to the recall notice.

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found here.

Failures in sprouts-related risk communication

Food Control.2012. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

Salmonella outbreak sickens dozens in Chile, linked to

Outbreak News Today reported in Nov. 2019, a Salmonella outbreak in Maipú commune in Santiago Province has now affected 80 people, according to the Chile news source, T13 (computer translated).

This is up from 45 cases reported ill at the El Carmen Hospital with symptoms of Salmonella on Tuesday.

Health officials have linked to outbreak to the consumption of sushi at a Bokado sushi store.

“This is an important call for the preparation of these products, they must be cooked.  They must not use salmon or raw seafood, they  must use cooked products , ” said Health Seremi, Rosa Oyarce.

Salmonella splashing on produce

Nearly one-half of foodborne illnesses in the United States can be attributed to fresh produce consumption. The preharvest stage of production presents a critical opportunity to prevent produce contamination in the field from contaminating postharvest operations and exposing consumers to foodborne pathogens. One produce-contamination route that is not often explored is the transfer of pathogens in the soil to edible portions of crops via splash water.

We report here on the results from multiple field and microcosm experiments examining the potential for Salmonella contamination of produce crops via splash water, and the effect of soil moisture content on Salmonella survival in soil and concentration in splash water. In field and microcosm experiments, we detected Salmonella for up to 8 to 10 days after inoculation in soil and on produce. Salmonella and suspended solids were detected in splash water at heights of up to 80 cm from the soil surface. Soil-moisture conditions before the splash event influenced the detection of Salmonella on crops after the splash events—Salmonella concentrations on produce after rainfall were significantly higher in wet plots than in dry plots (geometric mean difference = 0.43 CFU/g; P = 0.03). Similarly, concentrations of Salmonella in splash water in wet plots trended higher than concentrations from dry plots (geometric mean difference = 0.67 CFU/100 mL; P = 0.04).

These results indicate that splash transfer of Salmonella from soil onto crops can occur and that antecedent soil-moisture content may mediate the efficiency of microbial transfer. Splash transfer of Salmonella may, therefore, pose a hazard to produce safety. The potential for the risk of splash should be further explored in agricultural regions in which Salmonella and other pathogens are present in soil. These results will help inform the assessment of produce safety risk and the development of management practices for the mitigation of produce contamination.

Salmonella survival in soil and transfer onto produce via splash events

December 2019

Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 no. 12

DEBBIE LEE,1 MOUKARAM TERTULIANO,2 CASEY HARRIS,2 GEORGE VELLIDIS,2 KAREN LEVY,1* and TIMOTHY COOLONG3

https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-066

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-066?af=R

First reported case of Shewanella haliotis in the region of the Americas—New York, December 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that on December 18, 2018, a man aged 87 years was evaluated in a hospital emergency department in Flushing, New York, for right lower abdominal quadrant pain. Evaluation included a computed tomography scan, which showed acute appendicitis with multiple abscesses measuring ≤3 cm. The patient was admitted, a percutaneous drain was placed, and 5 mL of an opaque jelly-like substance was aspirated and sent for culture and testing for antimicrobial sensitivities.

Gram stain of the culture revealed gram-negative rods, and culture revealed monomicrobial 1–2-mm yellowish-brown mucoid colonies. Sequencing of the isolate’s 16S ribosomal RNA revealed >99.8% homology with Shewanella haliotis strain DW01 in the GenBank database. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing indicated that the isolate was susceptible to aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, certain penicillins, and broad-spectrum cephalosporins. Biochemical tests were performed to characterize isolate.

Phylogenetic analysis indicates that S. haliotis strain DW01 is the most recent ancestor of this clinical isolate. This is the first documented case of a S. haliotis appendix infection.

S. haliotis is an emerging human pathogen, first isolated from abalone gut microflora in 2007 (1). The geographic distribution of human infections caused by S. haliotis is concentrated in Asia, with most reports coming from China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand (2). No cases of S. haliotis human infections had been reported in the World Health Organization’s Region of the Americas.

The patient was treated empirically with intravenous piperacillin-tazobactam while in the hospital and was discharged with a prescription for oral amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. At a follow-up visit 13 days later, he was recovering well. Empiric treatment of Shewanella spp. can be challenging; limited and varying antibiotic susceptibility profiles have been reported (2,3). This patient’s isolate was susceptible to several classes of antimicrobials, but resistance to certain antibiotics has been observed in this isolate and others (2). In a case series of 16 patients from Martinique, Shewanella spp. sensitivities to piperacillin-tazobactam and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid were reported to be 98% and 75%, respectively (3).

Risk factors for or potential vectors of Shewanella spp. infections are unidentified in up to 40%–50% of cases (4). S. haliotis is ecologically distributed in marine environments, including broad contamination of cultivated shellfish. Although infection following consumption of seafood is seldom reported (5), consumption of raw seafood could be an important vehicle for foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. This patient reported consuming raw salmon 10 days before becoming ill but had no other marine exposures or exposure to ill contacts. The time from potential exposure to onset of abdominal pain in this patient is consistent with that reported in the literature on Shewanella spp. (3–49 days). The epidemiologic exposure history supports the link between raw fish consumption and infection.

No other organisms were isolated in this patient; in the Martinique case series of Shewanella spp., one half of infections were monomicrobial as well (3). This case highlights the importance of preventing seafood-associated infections and the need to consider rare human pathogens in elderly or immunocompromised, marine-exposed populations, as well as persons who might consume at-risk food that might have been imported from outside the United States and persons who might have been infected outside the United States when traveling.

Raw is risky: UK Happy Hounds recalls frozen raw dog food products due to Salmonella

The Food Standards Agency reports Happy Hounds is recalling certain types of frozen raw dog food because salmonella has been found in the products.

Product details

Frozen Chicken & Beef Sleeve Dog Food
Pack size 1kg
Batch code 1205
Best before 3 September 2020
Frozen Chicken Mince Sleeve Dog Food
Pack size 1kg
Batch code 1205
Best before 3 September 2020

 

Frozen Chicken Mince Dog Food
Pack size 2.5kg (bag of 4)
Batch code 1205
Best before 3 September 2020

Risk statement

The presence of salmonella in the products listed above. Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause illness in humans and animals. The product could therefore carry a potential risk because of the presence of salmonella, either through direct handling of the pet food, or indirectly, for example from pet feeding bowls, utensils or contact with the faeces of animals.

In humans, symptoms caused by salmonella usually include fever, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. Infected animals may not necessarily display signs of illness, but symptoms can include diarrhoea.

Action taken by the company

Happy Hounds is recalling the above products. Point of sale notices will be displayed in all retail stores that are selling these products. These notices explain to customers why the products are being recalled and tell them what to do if they have bought the product.

Our advice to consumers

Our advice to pet owners: If you have bought any of the above products do not use them. Instead, return them to the store from where they were bought for a full refund. When handling and serving raw pet food it is always advised to clean utensils and feeding bowls thoroughly after use. Consumers should wash hands thoroughly after handling raw pet food, bowls, utensils or after contact with the faeces of animals. Raw pet food should be stored separately from any food (especially ready to eat foods). Care should be taken when defrosting to avoid cross contamination of foods and surfaces.