At least they said sorry; 33 sick with Salmonella from Cargill beef in 7 states

At least 33 people have been sickened with Salmonella Enteritidis linked to ground beef from a Cargill plant in Pennsylvania.

Although the onset of illness happened during the week of June 6, 2012, it took six weeks of sleuthing to link illnesses in five case-patients to the ground beef products produced at this establishment based on epidemiologic and traceback investigations, as well as in-store reviews.

Two of the five case-patients were hospitalized. Leftover product with no packaging information collected during the course of this investigation by the Vermont Department of Health tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. This outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis is drug sensitive, meaning antibiotics can be effective in treating patients who need them

"Foodborne illnesses are unfortunate and we are sorry for anyone who became sick from eating ground beef we may have produced," stated John Keating, Cargill Beef president. "Ensuring our beef products are safe is our highest priority and an investigation is underway to determine the source of Salmonella in the animals we purchased for harvest and any actions necessary to prevent this from recurring."

Cargill Beef, a business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, announced the Class I voluntary recall of approximately 29,339 pounds of 85-percent-lean, fresh, ground beef produced at the company’s Wyalusing, Penn., facility on May 25, 2012, due to possible contamination with Salmonella Enteritidis.

The products subject to recall, sold wholesale and for further processing:
• 14 pound chub packages of "Grnd Beef Fine 85/15", packed 3 chubs to approximate 42-pound cases.

The ground beef involved was repackaged for sale to consumers by Cargill’s customers. For a list of packages associated with this recall, consumers should refer to the USDA recall website

Testing or audits: value is in how the results are used

Third-party audits and third-party micro sampling can provide a snapshot view of what is going on in an operation. Observations of actions and document review might be an indicator as to whether the organization has the system to manage risks; sampling (of equipment, product or inputs) also might provide some insights into whether systems are working. Both are only useful if whomever requested them does something with the results.

According to court records reported by Ryan Foley of AP, Wright County Eggs knew of high rates of Salmonella Enteriditis in their flock, but whether they did anything to reduce the likelihood of the pathogen spreading to egg-eaters is unclear. Salmonella from Wright County Eggs was the source of an outbreak linked to over one thousand illnesses in 2010.

An Iowa State University scientist found evidence that sick hens at farms owned by an Iowa egg producer were "almost certainly" laying eggs contaminated with salmonella months before one of the nation’s largest outbreaks of food-borne illness came to light, newly released records show. ISU’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory found salmonella in manure at several Iowa egg-laying plants and in the internal organs of their birds, which were dying at unusually high rates, about four months before the August 2010 recall of 550 million eggs linked to the outbreak, records show.

DeCoster’s farms had asked the laboratory to test for salmonella at its Iowa egg plants as they prepared for federal rules to take effect in July 2010 that required mandatory testing for the bacteria at different stages of production. In January 2010, scientists collected samples from several plants. Testing the next month detected salmonella, and additional samples were collected.

By late April 2010, scientists had discovered that 43 percent of DeCoster’s poultry houses in Iowa were testing positive for salmonella, emails show. Around the same time, DeCoster’s managers started noticing a high mortality rate of chickens at some plants and sent dozens of carcasses testing.

It is not clear what DeCoster’s operations did after receiving the reports. Charles Hofacre, a University of Georgia scientist who was consulting on the companies’ safety program, sent a May 28 email to DeCoster executives proposing several steps to clean up the conditions, warning, "We have to get this level of SE knocked down!"


Spanish eggs eyed as possible source of UK Salmonella outbreaks; 2 dead, 5 hospitalized, hundreds sick in 14 outbreak clusters since August

U.K. health types are investigating two deaths linked to a surge in cases of Salmonella Enteritidis phage type (PT) 14b since mid-August.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said a total of 14 clusters in England and Wales have been linked to a number of different catering establishments and one care home.

To date, 443 cases have been reported to the Health Protection Agency this year, compared with 137 in 2008.

It is understood two deaths of people at the care home in Sunderland have been linked to salmonella poisoning.

An FSA spokesman said,

"Although there is no conclusive evidence yet, the clusters may be linked to eggs sourced from outside the UK and used in these establishments. Investigations are ongoing into a possible link to eggs sourced from an approved establishment in Spain, and the UK and Spanish authorities are working in close cooperation to investigate this."

Seven of the recent outbreaks – or clusters – are linked to Chinese or Thai restaurants, three to cafes, one to an Italian restaurant, one to a kebab shop and one to a roadside van.