Blog Archives

CDC Update: 32 Listeria Illnesses in 11 States, 2 in Canada Linked to Caramel Apples

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) again updated information regarding the multi-state Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to caramel apples. As of Dec. 30, there were 32 illnesses reported in 11 states, including 31 hospitalizations and six deaths.

According to CDC, Listeriosis contributed to three of the deaths reported to date, but it is not clear whether it contributed to another two. The sixth death was unrelated to Listeriosis, CDC stated.

The new cases were reported from CA (one more, for a total of two), NM (one more, for a total of six), and one in NV (which previously had not had any cases reported). The rest are in Arizona (4), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).

CDC reports that the dates when the Listeria strains were isolated range from Oct. 17, 2014, to Dec. 11, 2014. Ten illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (the illness occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). One fetal loss has been reported.

Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 66 years, and 32 percent were female, CDC reported.

Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5-15 years. Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, and six deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to three of these deaths, and it is unclear whether it contributed to an additional two deaths. The sixth death was unrelated to listeriosis.

Illnesses that started after Dec. 14, 2014, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

Outlets selling the apples included Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods in MN, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples, and Safeway, Walmart and Sam’s Club in a number of states.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified 2 cases of Listeriosis in Canada with the same PFGE (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) patterns as seen in the U.S. outbreak. PHAC is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses. CDC and and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working with Canadian health authorities to determine whether these illnesses are related to the U.S. outbreak.

The information CDC reported at this time continues to indicate that commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be contaminated with Listeria. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness. In interviews, ill people answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures in the month before becoming ill.

To date, 23 (88 percent) of the 26 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill. Caramel apple brands named in interviews have included Happy Apple, Carnival, and Merb’s Candies. However, the investigation is ongoing, and other brands may be identified. At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged, or to caramel candy.

So far, three firms that produce caramel apples have issued voluntary recalls after receiving notice from Bidart Brothers, a CA apple supplier, that there may be a connection between Bidart Brothers apples and this Listeriosis outbreak. On Dec. 24, 2014, Happy Apple Company of Washington, MO, voluntarily recalled Happy Apple brand caramel apples with a best use by date between Aug. 25 and Nov. 23, 2014.

On Dec. 27, 2014, California Snack Foods voluntarily recalled Karm’l Dapple brand caramel apples with a best use by date between Aug. 15 and Nov. 28, 2014. On Dec. 29, 2014, Merb’s Candies of St. Louis, MO, issued a voluntary recall of Merb’s Candies Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples that would have been available between Sept. 8 and Nov. 25, 2014.

In addition, Pacific Coast Fruit of Portland, OR, announced that it was recalling all Happy Apple brand apples it sold after Sept. 22, 2014, because they came from Bidart Brothers. The company noted in an online statement that it was contacting its customers as part of the recall.

Meanwhile, CDC and other state and federal investigators are continuing to work to identify if any other brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.

Although voluntary recalls have been issued for three brands of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, CDC’s Advice to Consumers remains the same. CDC continues to recommend that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.

These products could have a shelf life of more than one month. CDC, the involved states, and FDA continue to work closely on this rapidly evolving investigation, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.

Food Safety News

CDC Update: 32 Listeria Illnesses in 11 States, 2 in Canada Linked to Caramel Apples

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) again updated information regarding the multi-state Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to caramel apples. As of Dec. 30, there were 32 illnesses reported in 11 states, including 31 hospitalizations and six deaths.

According to CDC, Listeriosis contributed to three of the deaths reported to date, but it is not clear whether it contributed to another two. The sixth death was unrelated to Listeriosis, CDC stated.

The new cases were reported from CA (one more, for a total of two), NM (one more, for a total of six), and one in NV (which previously had not had any cases reported). The rest are in Arizona (4), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).

CDC reports that the dates when the Listeria strains were isolated range from Oct. 17, 2014, to Dec. 11, 2014. Ten illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (the illness occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). One fetal loss has been reported.

Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 66 years, and 32 percent were female, CDC reported.

Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5-15 years. Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, and six deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to three of these deaths, and it is unclear whether it contributed to an additional two deaths. The sixth death was unrelated to listeriosis.

Illnesses that started after Dec. 14, 2014, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

Outlets selling the apples included Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods in MN, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples, and Safeway, Walmart and Sam’s Club in a number of states.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified 2 cases of Listeriosis in Canada with the same PFGE (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) patterns as seen in the U.S. outbreak. PHAC is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses. CDC and and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working with Canadian health authorities to determine whether these illnesses are related to the U.S. outbreak.

The information CDC reported at this time continues to indicate that commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be contaminated with Listeria. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness. In interviews, ill people answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures in the month before becoming ill.

To date, 23 (88 percent) of the 26 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill. Caramel apple brands named in interviews have included Happy Apple, Carnival, and Merb’s Candies. However, the investigation is ongoing, and other brands may be identified. At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged, or to caramel candy.

So far, three firms that produce caramel apples have issued voluntary recalls after receiving notice from Bidart Brothers, a CA apple supplier, that there may be a connection between Bidart Brothers apples and this Listeriosis outbreak. On Dec. 24, 2014, Happy Apple Company of Washington, MO, voluntarily recalled Happy Apple brand caramel apples with a best use by date between Aug. 25 and Nov. 23, 2014.

On Dec. 27, 2014, California Snack Foods voluntarily recalled Karm’l Dapple brand caramel apples with a best use by date between Aug. 15 and Nov. 28, 2014. On Dec. 29, 2014, Merb’s Candies of St. Louis, MO, issued a voluntary recall of Merb’s Candies Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples that would have been available between Sept. 8 and Nov. 25, 2014.

In addition, Pacific Coast Fruit of Portland, OR, announced that it was recalling all Happy Apple brand apples it sold after Sept. 22, 2014, because they came from Bidart Brothers. The company noted in an online statement that it was contacting its customers as part of the recall.

Meanwhile, CDC and other state and federal investigators are continuing to work to identify if any other brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.

Although voluntary recalls have been issued for three brands of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, CDC’s Advice to Consumers remains the same. CDC continues to recommend that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.

These products could have a shelf life of more than one month. CDC, the involved states, and FDA continue to work closely on this rapidly evolving investigation, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.

Food Safety News

2 Listeria Illnesses Prompt Warning in Canada About Caramel Apples

Two people in Canada have tested positive for the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes that has killed five people and sickened 29 in the U.S. and been linked to caramel apples.

The situation prompted a warning on Tuesday from the Public Health Agency of Canada that potentially contaminated caramel apples may have been imported to Canada.

The cases have occurred in Ontario and Manitoba. Investigators in Canada are still working to determine if the illnesses resulted from consumption of store-bought, prepackaged caramel apples, as they apparently did in the U.S. cases.

“As a precaution, the Public Health Agency of Canada is advising that Canadians do not eat commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples imported from the US until further notice,” the warning reads.

The warning is for plain caramel apples, as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings.

Canadian officials say they’re working closely with U.S. counterparts to determine if any potentially contaminated products were distributed in Canada.

Based on current information, the risk of infection to Canadians is low, they said.

Food Safety News

CDC: 5 Deaths, 28 Illnesses in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak Linked to Caramel Apples

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s outbreak report posted Friday, a total of 28 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes and five deaths have been reported in connection with commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.

The 28 ill people included in this outbreak investigation have been reported from 10 states: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2). Illness onset dates range from Oct. 17, 2014, to Nov. 27, 2014.

Nine illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). No miscarriages or fetal losses have been reported.

Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 64 years, and 32 percent were female. Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5-15 years.

Of the 26 ill persons for whom information is available, all have been hospitalized, and five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least four of these deaths.

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate. To date, 15 of the 18 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill.

Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.

Although caramel apples are often a fall seasonal product, contaminated commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may still be for sale at grocery stores and other retailers nationwide or may be in consumers’ homes.

Investigators are working quickly to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.

The Minnesota cases purchased caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples. These two brands are no longer available for purchase at retail locations; however, health officials are concerned that persons who purchased them may still have them in their homes.

At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.

The outbreak can be visually described with an epidemic curve showing the number of persons who were diagnosed each day. Illnesses that started after Dec. 3, 2014, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

Food Safety News

CDC: 5 Deaths, 28 Illnesses in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak Linked to Caramel Apples

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s outbreak report posted Friday, a total of 28 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes and five deaths have been reported in connection with commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.

The 28 ill people included in this outbreak investigation have been reported from 10 states: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2). Illness onset dates range from Oct. 17, 2014, to Nov. 27, 2014.

Nine illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). No miscarriages or fetal losses have been reported.

Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 64 years, and 32 percent were female. Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5-15 years.

Of the 26 ill persons for whom information is available, all have been hospitalized, and five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least four of these deaths.

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate. To date, 15 of the 18 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill.

Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.

Although caramel apples are often a fall seasonal product, contaminated commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may still be for sale at grocery stores and other retailers nationwide or may be in consumers’ homes.

Investigators are working quickly to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.

The Minnesota cases purchased caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples. These two brands are no longer available for purchase at retail locations; however, health officials are concerned that persons who purchased them may still have them in their homes.

At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.

The outbreak can be visually described with an epidemic curve showing the number of persons who were diagnosed each day. Illnesses that started after Dec. 3, 2014, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

Food Safety News

CDC Final Update: 5 Listeria Illnesses, Including 1 Death, Linked to Mexican-Style Cheese

Mexican-style dairy products manufactured by Oasis Brands Inc. of Miami, FL, which were recalled for Listeria contamination earlier this year, were linked to five cases of Listeriosis, including one death.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that this outbreak is now over.

Whole-genome sequences of the Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from recalled quesito casero cheese produced by Oasis Brands were found to be highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from one person who became ill in September 2013 and four others who became ill in June through October 2014.

The five cases were reported in Georgia (1), New York (1), Tennessee (2), and Texas (1). Four of the five people were hospitalized, and one death was reported in Tennessee. Three illnesses were related to a pregnancy — one of these was diagnosed in a newborn.

All ill persons were reported to be of Hispanic ethnicity and reported consuming Hispanic-style soft cheese. Two persons who were able to answer questions about specific varieties of Hispanic-style soft cheeses reported consuming quesito casero, though neither could remember the brand.

Although limited information is available about the specific cheese products consumed by ill persons, the whole genome sequencing findings, together with the cheese consumption history of the patients, suggests that these illnesses could have been related to products from Oasis Brands Inc.

In August 2014, Oasis Brands voluntarily recalled quesito casero (fresh curd) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination after the pathogen was isolated from the quesito casero they produced. In October 2014, the company recalled cuajada en hoja (fresh curd) after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated Listeria monocytogenes from environmental samples collected from the production facility and later recalled various Lacteos Santa Martha and one HonduCrema brand cheese and dairy products.

At this time, Oasis Brands Inc. has ceased manufacturing of all products, including the recalled products.

CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any of the recalled cheese and dairy products and that restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve them.

Food Safety News

Recalled Mexican-Style Dairy Linked to Death, 3 Listeria Illnesses

Mexican-style dairy products manufactured by Oasis Brands, Inc. that were recalled for Listeria contamination earlier this year have now been linked to three cases of Listeria, including one death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illnesses occurred in September 2013, and June and August of 2014, and spread across New York, Tennessee and Texas. The patient from Tennessee died, and all three patients were hospitalized.

All three ill people were identified as being of Hispanic ethnicity and the two surviving patients reported eating Mexican-style soft cheese, but could not remember the brand.

In August 2014, Oasis Brands recalled a quesito casero product for possible contamination of Listeria. On October 6, the company recalled a cuajada en hoja product for the same reason, and then it recalled a number of other cheese products under the Lacteos Santa Martha brand name 10 days later.

Whole-genome sequencing of product samples from Oasis Brands suggests a possible link between those products and the illnesses. CDC says that the investigation is still ongoing.

Food Safety News

Recalled Mexican-Style Dairy Linked to Death, 3 Listeria Illnesses

Mexican-style dairy products manufactured by Oasis Brands, Inc. that were recalled for Listeria contamination earlier this year have now been linked to three cases of Listeria, including one death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illnesses occurred in September 2013, and June and August of 2014, and spread across New York, Tennessee and Texas. The patient from Tennessee died, and all three patients were hospitalized.

All three ill people were identified as being of Hispanic ethnicity and the two surviving patients reported eating Mexican-style soft cheese, but could not remember the brand.

In August 2014, Oasis Brands recalled a quesito casero product for possible contamination of Listeria. On October 6, the company recalled a cuajada en hoja product for the same reason, and then it recalled a number of other cheese products under the Lacteos Santa Martha brand name 10 days later.

Whole-genome sequencing of product samples from Oasis Brands suggests a possible link between those products and the illnesses. CDC says that the investigation is still ongoing.

Food Safety News

Recalled Mexican-Style Dairy Linked to Death, 3 Listeria Illnesses

Mexican-style dairy products manufactured by Oasis Brands, Inc. that were recalled for Listeria contamination earlier this year have now been linked to three cases of Listeria, including one death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illnesses occurred in September 2013, and June and August of 2014, and spread across New York, Tennessee and Texas. The patient from Tennessee died, and all three patients were hospitalized.

All three ill people were identified as being of Hispanic ethnicity and the two surviving patients reported eating Mexican-style soft cheese, but could not remember the brand.

In August 2014, Oasis Brands recalled a quesito casero product for possible contamination of Listeria. On October 6, the company recalled a cuajada en hoja product for the same reason, and then it recalled a number of other cheese products under the Lacteos Santa Martha brand name 10 days later.

Whole-genome sequencing of product samples from Oasis Brands suggests a possible link between those products and the illnesses. CDC says that the investigation is still ongoing.

Food Safety News

Recalled Mexican-Style Dairy Linked to Death, 3 Listeria Illnesses

Mexican-style dairy products manufactured by Oasis Brands, Inc. that were recalled for Listeria contamination earlier this year have now been linked to three cases of Listeria, including one death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illnesses occurred in September 2013, and June and August of 2014, and spread across New York, Tennessee and Texas. The patient from Tennessee died, and all three patients were hospitalized.

All three ill people were identified as being of Hispanic ethnicity and the two surviving patients reported eating Mexican-style soft cheese, but could not remember the brand.

In August 2014, Oasis Brands recalled a quesito casero product for possible contamination of Listeria. On October 6, the company recalled a cuajada en hoja product for the same reason, and then it recalled a number of other cheese products under the Lacteos Santa Martha brand name 10 days later.

Whole-genome sequencing of product samples from Oasis Brands suggests a possible link between those products and the illnesses. CDC says that the investigation is still ongoing.

Food Safety News

Unpasteurized Apple Cider Linked to E. Coli Illnesses, Recalled in Canada

Rolling Acres Cider Mill is recalling unpasteurized apple cider from the marketplace due to E.coli O157:H7 contamination. There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of the products.

The following products were sold by Rolling Acres Cider Mill at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market located in Waterloo, Ontario on October 11, 2014 and from the company’s own location in Waterloo, Ontario between October 10, 2014 and October 11, 2014.

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product
Rolling Acres Pure apple cider
“Unpasturized”
2 L 10-10
Rolling Acres Pure apple cider
“Unpasturized”
4 L 10-10
None Unpasteurized apple cider This product was sold in unlabeled plastic bags None

 

Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.Check to see if you have the products in your home. If the products are in your home, do not consume them.

The recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

Food Safety News

Unpasteurized Apple Cider Linked to E. Coli Illnesses, Recalled in Canada

Rolling Acres Cider Mill is recalling unpasteurized apple cider from the marketplace due to E.coli O157:H7 contamination. There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of the products.

The following products were sold by Rolling Acres Cider Mill at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market located in Waterloo, Ontario on October 11, 2014 and from the company’s own location in Waterloo, Ontario between October 10, 2014 and October 11, 2014.

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product
Rolling Acres Pure apple cider
“Unpasturized”
2 L 10-10
Rolling Acres Pure apple cider
“Unpasturized”
4 L 10-10
None Unpasteurized apple cider This product was sold in unlabeled plastic bags None

 

Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.Check to see if you have the products in your home. If the products are in your home, do not consume them.

The recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

Food Safety News

Alaska Health Officials Suspect Botulism in One Death, Two Illnesses

Officials with the Alaska Division of Public Health are reported to be looking into a potential botulism cluster in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area west of Anchorage linked to the consumption of fermented fish heads.

After four people shared a traditional Yupik meal of the fish heads, one later died and two others were sickened, said Louisa Castrodale, a health division epidemiologist. The man who died had apparently complained of seeing double and feeling ill, according to a state troopers report.

State officials were testing food samples and samples from the two sickened individuals for the botulinum toxin, with results expected to take about a week, Castrodale said. If the death is confirmed to have been caused by botulism, she said it would be the first such death in Alaska since 2007.

Botulism is 836 times more common in Alaska than in the Lower 48, according to a 2011 article, which speculates that the reason stems from today’s use of anaerobic glass and plastic containers to age fish instead of the traditional grass, straw or animal skin bags that were previously used.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls botulism a “rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin ….” There are five main kinds of botulism and all forms can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies, CDC says, adding, “Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.”

Food Safety News

24 E. Coli Illnesses in Canada Linked to Bean Sprouts

Following a recent cluster of E. coli O157:H7 cases in the Edmonton area, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is advising people to take precautions to prevent the spread of the illness.

There have been a reported 24 cases of E. coli in the Edmonton area in recent weeks, and AHS officials believe bean sprouts to be the cause. The department is still investigating the outbreak, but said there should be no further risk to the public.

Consumers should thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits before eating them, cook beef to at least 160 degrees F, wash any tools or kitchen surfaces that have touched raw meat, and wash their hands often with hot, soapy water, especially after touching raw meat.

E. coli lives in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. There are many types of E. coli, and most of them are harmless, but some strains of E. coli can cause illness, predominantly abdominal cramping and diarrhea that may be bloody. Some strains of E. coli bacteria (such as  O157:H7) can cause more severe illness, including severe anemia or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

Food Safety News

After 17 Months and 634 Confirmed Illnesses, CDC Declares Foster Farms-Linked Salmonella Outbreak Over

Seventeen months since the first illnesses appeared in March 2013, the Foster Farms-linked Salmonella outbreak has been declared over by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The final tally of confirmed illnesses came in at 634 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico. Of those cases, at least 241 people (38 percent) were hospitalized.

Illnesses connected to the California-based poultry producer hit its home state the hardest, with 490 cases counted in California alone. Other states with numerous cases included Arizona (25 cases), Washington (20) and Oregon (17).

CDC officials told Food Safety News that the number of Salmonella cases in the affected states has returned to the normal rate for this time of year.

Along with that, government tests on retail Foster Farms chicken meat have not shown evidence of the outbreak strains for several months now, said Dr. Matthew Wise, outbreak response team lead for the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases.

In the time since the outbreak began, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked Foster Farms to implement additional safety measures in its production plants to mitigate Salmonella contamination, but the agency did not have the legal authority to shut the plants down based on Salmonella contamination. Foster Farms did implement the requested safety measures.

“A lot of work has been done on the part of Foster Farms and the USDA to fix the problem,” Wise said. “We’re confident that positive changes have occurred.”

Wise added that, according to recent internal testing at Foster Farms, Salmonella levels on the company’s chicken products have seen “a pretty significant decline.”

From June 2012 to April 2013, Foster Farms chicken was implicated in another outbreak that sickened 134 people, predominantly in Washington and Oregon.

CDC estimates that, for every one confirmed case of Salmonella, another 29 go unreported. However, the most severe cases are typically those that end up being detected.

Salmonella is commonly found on raw poultry products, and Salmonella from poultry is assumed to cause a baseline level of illnesses continually. The outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken elevated illness numbers above that baseline and prompted an investigation first announced publicly in October 2013.

Wise said that the agency continually monitors for new illnesses that might connect back to an outbreak like the one with Foster Farms.

“It’s been a long, complicated investigation into an unfortunate outbreak, but hopefully we’ve all learned something from it,” he said.

Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, by State as of July 24, 2014

Persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium, by week of illness onset as of July 24, 2014

Graphics courtesy of CDC.

Food Safety News

Protect Yourself From Shellfish-Related Illnesses This Summer

Warm weather and low tides are good for harvesting shellfish, but nice weather is also ideal for naturally occurring bacteria to multiply, raising the risk of illness, warns the Washington State Department of Health.

For that reason, food-safety officials in Washington state, California and Oregon advise shellfish gatherers and consumers to follow summertime health advice as they head to area beaches to gather shellfish.

“Sunshine and warming waters are ideal conditions for the bacteria that cause vibriosis to multiply,” explains Jerrod Davis, director of Washington state’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection. “This raises the risk of getting sick from eating raw or undercooked shellfish — especially oysters.”

Here are some important food-safety tips for shellfish gathered in Washington state, California and Oregon:

  • Make sure the shellfish is placed on ice or refrigerated immediately after it is gathered.
  • Harvest shellfish as the tide goes out and don’t take shellfish that have been exposed by the receding tide for more than an hour.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly, especially in the summer months, because the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria are killed when shellfish have reached 145 degrees F for 15 seconds. Don’t rinse cooked shellfish with seawater because it can be re-contaminated with Vibrio.

Vibriosis symptoms usually appear within 24 hours of eating infected shellfish and may include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Symptoms typically last between two to seven days. People with lowered immunity, liver disease, stomach ulcers, or who take medication to reduce stomach acid are at higher risk for severe illness and should never eat raw or undercooked shellfish.

Not all shellfish illnesses can be prevented by cooking. Biotoxins, which can also be found in West Coast waters depending on saltwater conditions, are not destroyed by cooking.

Sport-harvested mussel quarantines in California, Oregon

California: The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast began on May 1. This quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries.

“This quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to severe illness, including coma and death,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer. “It is critical that the public honor the quarantine because the toxins found in mussels have no known antidotes and they are not reliably destroyed by cooking.”

This quarantine is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning (DAP). Both of these toxins are linked to plankton consumed by filter-feeding animals such as bivalve shellfish (e.g., mussels and clams).

The majority of human cases of PSP illnesses occur between spring and fall.

Oregon: The coast of Oregon, from the South Jetty of the Columbia River to the California border, is also closed to mussel gathering.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning

According to information from the Oregon Health Department, warm ocean waters and calm seas are favorable conditions for a bloom of algae that produces PST. A shellfish safety closure is issued immediately if PST levels rise above the alert level of 80 micrograms per 100 grams.

Each state has up-to-date information about PST on its shellfish hotlines. (PST and vibriosis are two different health hazards that can occur in shellfish.)

Shellfish contaminated with PST can cause minor-to-severe illness or even death. PST cannot be destroyed by cooking, by adding baking soda, or by any other method of processing. PST symptoms usually begin with tingling of the mouth and tongue. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, paralysis of the arms and legs and paralysis of the muscles used for breathing. PST(s) are produced by algae and usually originate in the ocean.

Shellfish hotlines

Always check these hotlines before heading out to gather shellfish:

Washington state: 1-800-562-5632.

Oregon: 1-800-448-2474

California: 1-800-553-4133

Food Safety News

Protect Yourself From Shellfish-Related Illnesses This Summer

Warm weather and low tides are good for harvesting shellfish, but nice weather is also ideal for naturally occurring bacteria to multiply, raising the risk of illness, warns the Washington State Department of Health.

For that reason, food-safety officials in Washington state, California and Oregon advise shellfish gatherers and consumers to follow summertime health advice as they head to area beaches to gather shellfish.

“Sunshine and warming waters are ideal conditions for the bacteria that cause vibriosis to multiply,” explains Jerrod Davis, director of Washington state’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection. “This raises the risk of getting sick from eating raw or undercooked shellfish — especially oysters.”

Here are some important food-safety tips for shellfish gathered in Washington state, California and Oregon:

  • Make sure the shellfish is placed on ice or refrigerated immediately after it is gathered.
  • Harvest shellfish as the tide goes out and don’t take shellfish that have been exposed by the receding tide for more than an hour.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly, especially in the summer months, because the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria are killed when shellfish have reached 145 degrees F for 15 seconds. Don’t rinse cooked shellfish with seawater because it can be re-contaminated with Vibrio.

Vibriosis symptoms usually appear within 24 hours of eating infected shellfish and may include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Symptoms typically last between two to seven days. People with lowered immunity, liver disease, stomach ulcers, or who take medication to reduce stomach acid are at higher risk for severe illness and should never eat raw or undercooked shellfish.

Not all shellfish illnesses can be prevented by cooking. Biotoxins, which can also be found in West Coast waters depending on saltwater conditions, are not destroyed by cooking.

Sport-harvested mussel quarantines in California, Oregon

California: The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast began on May 1. This quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries.

“This quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to severe illness, including coma and death,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer. “It is critical that the public honor the quarantine because the toxins found in mussels have no known antidotes and they are not reliably destroyed by cooking.”

This quarantine is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning (DAP). Both of these toxins are linked to plankton consumed by filter-feeding animals such as bivalve shellfish (e.g., mussels and clams).

The majority of human cases of PSP illnesses occur between spring and fall.

Oregon: The coast of Oregon, from the South Jetty of the Columbia River to the California border, is also closed to mussel gathering.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning

According to information from the Oregon Health Department, warm ocean waters and calm seas are favorable conditions for a bloom of algae that produces PST. A shellfish safety closure is issued immediately if PST levels rise above the alert level of 80 micrograms per 100 grams.

Each state has up-to-date information about PST on its shellfish hotlines. (PST and vibriosis are two different health hazards that can occur in shellfish.)

Shellfish contaminated with PST can cause minor-to-severe illness or even death. PST cannot be destroyed by cooking, by adding baking soda, or by any other method of processing. PST symptoms usually begin with tingling of the mouth and tongue. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, paralysis of the arms and legs and paralysis of the muscles used for breathing. PST(s) are produced by algae and usually originate in the ocean.

Shellfish hotlines

Always check these hotlines before heading out to gather shellfish:

Washington state: 1-800-562-5632.

Oregon: 1-800-448-2474

California: 1-800-553-4133

Food Safety News

Protect Yourself From Shellfish-Related Illnesses This Summer

Warm weather and low tides are good for harvesting shellfish, but nice weather is also ideal for naturally occurring bacteria to multiply, raising the risk of illness, warns the Washington State Department of Health.

For that reason, food-safety officials in Washington state, California and Oregon advise shellfish gatherers and consumers to follow summertime health advice as they head to area beaches to gather shellfish.

“Sunshine and warming waters are ideal conditions for the bacteria that cause vibriosis to multiply,” explains Jerrod Davis, director of Washington state’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection. “This raises the risk of getting sick from eating raw or undercooked shellfish — especially oysters.”

Here are some important food-safety tips for shellfish gathered in Washington state, California and Oregon:

  • Make sure the shellfish is placed on ice or refrigerated immediately after it is gathered.
  • Harvest shellfish as the tide goes out and don’t take shellfish that have been exposed by the receding tide for more than an hour.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly, especially in the summer months, because the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria are killed when shellfish have reached 145 degrees F for 15 seconds. Don’t rinse cooked shellfish with seawater because it can be re-contaminated with Vibrio.

Vibriosis symptoms usually appear within 24 hours of eating infected shellfish and may include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Symptoms typically last between two to seven days. People with lowered immunity, liver disease, stomach ulcers, or who take medication to reduce stomach acid are at higher risk for severe illness and should never eat raw or undercooked shellfish.

Not all shellfish illnesses can be prevented by cooking. Biotoxins, which can also be found in West Coast waters depending on saltwater conditions, are not destroyed by cooking.

Sport-harvested mussel quarantines in California, Oregon

California: The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast began on May 1. This quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries.

“This quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to severe illness, including coma and death,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer. “It is critical that the public honor the quarantine because the toxins found in mussels have no known antidotes and they are not reliably destroyed by cooking.”

This quarantine is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning (DAP). Both of these toxins are linked to plankton consumed by filter-feeding animals such as bivalve shellfish (e.g., mussels and clams).

The majority of human cases of PSP illnesses occur between spring and fall.

Oregon: The coast of Oregon, from the South Jetty of the Columbia River to the California border, is also closed to mussel gathering.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning

According to information from the Oregon Health Department, warm ocean waters and calm seas are favorable conditions for a bloom of algae that produces PST. A shellfish safety closure is issued immediately if PST levels rise above the alert level of 80 micrograms per 100 grams.

Each state has up-to-date information about PST on its shellfish hotlines. (PST and vibriosis are two different health hazards that can occur in shellfish.)

Shellfish contaminated with PST can cause minor-to-severe illness or even death. PST cannot be destroyed by cooking, by adding baking soda, or by any other method of processing. PST symptoms usually begin with tingling of the mouth and tongue. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, paralysis of the arms and legs and paralysis of the muscles used for breathing. PST(s) are produced by algae and usually originate in the ocean.

Shellfish hotlines

Always check these hotlines before heading out to gather shellfish:

Washington state: 1-800-562-5632.

Oregon: 1-800-448-2474

California: 1-800-553-4133

Food Safety News

Protect Yourself From Shellfish-Related Illnesses This Summer

Warm weather and low tides are good for harvesting shellfish, but nice weather is also ideal for naturally occurring bacteria to multiply, raising the risk of illness, warns the Washington State Department of Health.

For that reason, food-safety officials in Washington state, California and Oregon advise shellfish gatherers and consumers to follow summertime health advice as they head to area beaches to gather shellfish.

“Sunshine and warming waters are ideal conditions for the bacteria that cause vibriosis to multiply,” explains Jerrod Davis, director of Washington state’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection. “This raises the risk of getting sick from eating raw or undercooked shellfish — especially oysters.”

Here are some important food-safety tips for shellfish gathered in Washington state, California and Oregon:

  • Make sure the shellfish is placed on ice or refrigerated immediately after it is gathered.
  • Harvest shellfish as the tide goes out and don’t take shellfish that have been exposed by the receding tide for more than an hour.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly, especially in the summer months, because the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria are killed when shellfish have reached 145 degrees F for 15 seconds. Don’t rinse cooked shellfish with seawater because it can be re-contaminated with Vibrio.

Vibriosis symptoms usually appear within 24 hours of eating infected shellfish and may include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Symptoms typically last between two to seven days. People with lowered immunity, liver disease, stomach ulcers, or who take medication to reduce stomach acid are at higher risk for severe illness and should never eat raw or undercooked shellfish.

Not all shellfish illnesses can be prevented by cooking. Biotoxins, which can also be found in West Coast waters depending on saltwater conditions, are not destroyed by cooking.

Sport-harvested mussel quarantines in California, Oregon

California: The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast began on May 1. This quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries.

“This quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to severe illness, including coma and death,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer. “It is critical that the public honor the quarantine because the toxins found in mussels have no known antidotes and they are not reliably destroyed by cooking.”

This quarantine is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning (DAP). Both of these toxins are linked to plankton consumed by filter-feeding animals such as bivalve shellfish (e.g., mussels and clams).

The majority of human cases of PSP illnesses occur between spring and fall.

Oregon: The coast of Oregon, from the South Jetty of the Columbia River to the California border, is also closed to mussel gathering.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning

According to information from the Oregon Health Department, warm ocean waters and calm seas are favorable conditions for a bloom of algae that produces PST. A shellfish safety closure is issued immediately if PST levels rise above the alert level of 80 micrograms per 100 grams.

Each state has up-to-date information about PST on its shellfish hotlines. (PST and vibriosis are two different health hazards that can occur in shellfish.)

Shellfish contaminated with PST can cause minor-to-severe illness or even death. PST cannot be destroyed by cooking, by adding baking soda, or by any other method of processing. PST symptoms usually begin with tingling of the mouth and tongue. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, paralysis of the arms and legs and paralysis of the muscles used for breathing. PST(s) are produced by algae and usually originate in the ocean.

Shellfish hotlines

Always check these hotlines before heading out to gather shellfish:

Washington state: 1-800-562-5632.

Oregon: 1-800-448-2474

California: 1-800-553-4133

Food Safety News

Nine Salmonella Illnesses Linked to North Carolina Restaurant

The Watauga County office of the Appalachian District Health Department is working with the North Carolina Division of Public Health to investigate a gastrointestinal illness outbreak linked to Proper Restaurant in Boone, NC.

As of Friday, the health department had identified nine individuals with signs and symptoms consistent with Salmonellosis: diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, nausea, and occasional vomiting. Five cases have been confirmed as Salmonella infections.

“We are still investigating to determine the source (or sources) of infection. We are also actively working with restaurant management to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Health Director Beth Lovette. “We would like to thank the restaurant for their cooperation. The restaurant has been diligent and responsive during this process, and we appreciate their commitment to the safety of their customers.”

The health department is asking anyone who ate at Proper Restaurant on or after Saturday, May 17, and started having diarrhea within three days of eating or drinking there to call the department at (828) 264-6635.

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by a bacteria called Salmonella. Salmonella is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps six to 72 hours after infection.

The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In some cases, the person must be treated with antibiotics. Groups at greatest risk for severe or complicated disease include infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems.

Food Safety News