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South Texas continues to expand as produce entry point

In 2013, about 170,000 truckloads of fruits and vegetables from Mexico came into the United through the ports of entry in South Texas, making it the leading state in the country for imports of fresh produce.

“About 40-45 percent of the fresh produce consumed in the United States is imported,” said Bret Erickson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, based in Mission, TX. “More than 50 percent of those imports come through Texas.”

The crossing bridge at Pharr in the Rio Grande Valley is the busiest port of entry, with about 100,000 of those truckloads in 2013. Laredo, Progreso and Rio Grande City make up the vast majority of the other 70,000 loads. Erickson said the number of trucks crossing in Texas is increasing every year.  

Texas, in fact, is expecting an even greater percentage of produce imports from Mexico in the near future, now that the Mexican “super highway” connecting the Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan with the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville is almost complete.

Some have estimated that annually an additional 500,000 truckloads of goods (not just produce) will rumble through Texas into the United States because of the ease of driving across that country through the mountains and into the Lone Star State.

Erickson said the significant increase in produce imports over the last couple of decades is the chief reason the Texas Produce Association added the word “international” to its moniker.  

“It reflects the growth and direction of our membership and recognizes the importance of imports to Texas,” he said.

The TIPA is recognizing how south Texas agriculture has changed with its new produce convention that will be held in San Antonio this spring. Like the ongoing trend in produce shows, it will be a regional show but with a huge international flavor. Erickson expects about half of the exhibitors to be Mexican companies that sell their produce into the United States and ship through Texas.

Of course, the Texas International Produce Association has its roots in the Rio Grande Valley and it still has its two boots planted in Texas soil. In mid-November, Erickson said the U.S. Department of Agriculture was counting the recent ballots concerning a continuation referendum on the south Texas onion deal. The TIPA executive said it was a regularly scheduled vote and there appeared to be no extra politicking for or against the measure.

Earlier this year, a previous referendum was voided because of the use of an outdated mailing list. In the past, the federal marketing order has been approved by growers, but Erickson said his concern is simply that it be a fair vote that truly represents the wishes of the industry. The results are expected to be announced in early December.

Erickson also offered kudos to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who was picked by the Republican leadership to be chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture the day before. Erickson said Conaway is a friend of the ag industry and has visited with TIPA and its leadership three times in the previous 18 months.

“We are very fortunate to have him in that role,” he said.  “He is familiar with grower issues in Texas including the water situation, citrus greening and the important role imports play in our economy.”

When Conaway was at TIPA, Erickson said comprehensive immigration reform was discussed. After years of working for a solution in Congress and having the optimism for action dashed, Erickson said his membership is now just looking for anything that can help it stabilize its workforce.  

“I know of actual examples of growers who have had hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops rot in the field because they couldn’t get them harvested,” said Erickson.

He added that Rep. Conaway appears open to helping to find a solution for agriculture.

With regard to current crops, Erickson said Texas citrus shipments were well ahead of last year’s pace, though some recent rain did slow the harvesting down a bit.

“Right now the citrus season is rockin’ and rollin’,” he said. “Overall the crop looks very good — very comparable to last year.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

South Texas continues to expand as produce entry point

In 2013, about 170,000 truckloads of fruits and vegetables from Mexico came into the United through the ports of entry in South Texas, making it the leading state in the country for imports of fresh produce.

“About 40-45 percent of the fresh produce consumed in the United States is imported,” said Bret Erickson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, based in Mission, TX. “More than 50 percent of those imports come through Texas.”

The crossing bridge at Pharr in the Rio Grande Valley is the busiest port of entry, with about 100,000 of those truckloads in 2013. Laredo, Progreso and Rio Grande City make up the vast majority of the other 70,000 loads. Erickson said the number of trucks crossing in Texas is increasing every year.  

Texas, in fact, is expecting an even greater percentage of produce imports from Mexico in the near future, now that the Mexican “super highway” connecting the Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan with the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville is almost complete.

Some have estimated that annually an additional 500,000 truckloads of goods (not just produce) will rumble through Texas into the United States because of the ease of driving across that country through the mountains and into the Lone Star State.

Erickson said the significant increase in produce imports over the last couple of decades is the chief reason the Texas Produce Association added the word “international” to its moniker.  

“It reflects the growth and direction of our membership and recognizes the importance of imports to Texas,” he said.

The TIPA is recognizing how south Texas agriculture has changed with its new produce convention that will be held in San Antonio this spring. Like the ongoing trend in produce shows, it will be a regional show but with a huge international flavor. Erickson expects about half of the exhibitors to be Mexican companies that sell their produce into the United States and ship through Texas.

Of course, the Texas International Produce Association has its roots in the Rio Grande Valley and it still has its two boots planted in Texas soil. In mid-November, Erickson said the U.S. Department of Agriculture was counting the recent ballots concerning a continuation referendum on the south Texas onion deal. The TIPA executive said it was a regularly scheduled vote and there appeared to be no extra politicking for or against the measure.

Earlier this year, a previous referendum was voided because of the use of an outdated mailing list. In the past, the federal marketing order has been approved by growers, but Erickson said his concern is simply that it be a fair vote that truly represents the wishes of the industry. The results are expected to be announced in early December.

Erickson also offered kudos to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who was picked by the Republican leadership to be chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture the day before. Erickson said Conaway is a friend of the ag industry and has visited with TIPA and its leadership three times in the previous 18 months.

“We are very fortunate to have him in that role,” he said.  “He is familiar with grower issues in Texas including the water situation, citrus greening and the important role imports play in our economy.”

When Conaway was at TIPA, Erickson said comprehensive immigration reform was discussed. After years of working for a solution in Congress and having the optimism for action dashed, Erickson said his membership is now just looking for anything that can help it stabilize its workforce.  

“I know of actual examples of growers who have had hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops rot in the field because they couldn’t get them harvested,” said Erickson.

He added that Rep. Conaway appears open to helping to find a solution for agriculture.

With regard to current crops, Erickson said Texas citrus shipments were well ahead of last year’s pace, though some recent rain did slow the harvesting down a bit.

“Right now the citrus season is rockin’ and rollin’,” he said. “Overall the crop looks very good — very comparable to last year.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

South Texas continues to expand as produce entry point

In 2013, about 170,000 truckloads of fruits and vegetables from Mexico came into the United through the ports of entry in South Texas, making it the leading state in the country for imports of fresh produce.

“About 40-45 percent of the fresh produce consumed in the United States is imported,” said Bret Erickson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, based in Mission, TX. “More than 50 percent of those imports come through Texas.”

The crossing bridge at Pharr in the Rio Grande Valley is the busiest port of entry, with about 100,000 of those truckloads in 2013. Laredo, Progreso and Rio Grande City make up the vast majority of the other 70,000 loads. Erickson said the number of trucks crossing in Texas is increasing every year.  

Texas, in fact, is expecting an even greater percentage of produce imports from Mexico in the near future, now that the Mexican “super highway” connecting the Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan with the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville is almost complete.

Some have estimated that annually an additional 500,000 truckloads of goods (not just produce) will rumble through Texas into the United States because of the ease of driving across that country through the mountains and into the Lone Star State.

Erickson said the significant increase in produce imports over the last couple of decades is the chief reason the Texas Produce Association added the word “international” to its moniker.  

“It reflects the growth and direction of our membership and recognizes the importance of imports to Texas,” he said.

The TIPA is recognizing how south Texas agriculture has changed with its new produce convention that will be held in San Antonio this spring. Like the ongoing trend in produce shows, it will be a regional show but with a huge international flavor. Erickson expects about half of the exhibitors to be Mexican companies that sell their produce into the United States and ship through Texas.

Of course, the Texas International Produce Association has its roots in the Rio Grande Valley and it still has its two boots planted in Texas soil. In mid-November, Erickson said the U.S. Department of Agriculture was counting the recent ballots concerning a continuation referendum on the south Texas onion deal. The TIPA executive said it was a regularly scheduled vote and there appeared to be no extra politicking for or against the measure.

Earlier this year, a previous referendum was voided because of the use of an outdated mailing list. In the past, the federal marketing order has been approved by growers, but Erickson said his concern is simply that it be a fair vote that truly represents the wishes of the industry. The results are expected to be announced in early December.

Erickson also offered kudos to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who was picked by the Republican leadership to be chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture the day before. Erickson said Conaway is a friend of the ag industry and has visited with TIPA and its leadership three times in the previous 18 months.

“We are very fortunate to have him in that role,” he said.  “He is familiar with grower issues in Texas including the water situation, citrus greening and the important role imports play in our economy.”

When Conaway was at TIPA, Erickson said comprehensive immigration reform was discussed. After years of working for a solution in Congress and having the optimism for action dashed, Erickson said his membership is now just looking for anything that can help it stabilize its workforce.  

“I know of actual examples of growers who have had hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops rot in the field because they couldn’t get them harvested,” said Erickson.

He added that Rep. Conaway appears open to helping to find a solution for agriculture.

With regard to current crops, Erickson said Texas citrus shipments were well ahead of last year’s pace, though some recent rain did slow the harvesting down a bit.

“Right now the citrus season is rockin’ and rollin’,” he said. “Overall the crop looks very good — very comparable to last year.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

South Texas continues to expand as produce entry point

In 2013, about 170,000 truckloads of fruits and vegetables from Mexico came into the United through the ports of entry in South Texas, making it the leading state in the country for imports of fresh produce.

“About 40-45 percent of the fresh produce consumed in the United States is imported,” said Bret Erickson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, based in Mission, TX. “More than 50 percent of those imports come through Texas.”

The crossing bridge at Pharr in the Rio Grande Valley is the busiest port of entry, with about 100,000 of those truckloads in 2013. Laredo, Progreso and Rio Grande City make up the vast majority of the other 70,000 loads. Erickson said the number of trucks crossing in Texas is increasing every year.  

Texas, in fact, is expecting an even greater percentage of produce imports from Mexico in the near future, now that the Mexican “super highway” connecting the Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan with the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville is almost complete.

Some have estimated that annually an additional 500,000 truckloads of goods (not just produce) will rumble through Texas into the United States because of the ease of driving across that country through the mountains and into the Lone Star State.

Erickson said the significant increase in produce imports over the last couple of decades is the chief reason the Texas Produce Association added the word “international” to its moniker.  

“It reflects the growth and direction of our membership and recognizes the importance of imports to Texas,” he said.

The TIPA is recognizing how south Texas agriculture has changed with its new produce convention that will be held in San Antonio this spring. Like the ongoing trend in produce shows, it will be a regional show but with a huge international flavor. Erickson expects about half of the exhibitors to be Mexican companies that sell their produce into the United States and ship through Texas.

Of course, the Texas International Produce Association has its roots in the Rio Grande Valley and it still has its two boots planted in Texas soil. In mid-November, Erickson said the U.S. Department of Agriculture was counting the recent ballots concerning a continuation referendum on the south Texas onion deal. The TIPA executive said it was a regularly scheduled vote and there appeared to be no extra politicking for or against the measure.

Earlier this year, a previous referendum was voided because of the use of an outdated mailing list. In the past, the federal marketing order has been approved by growers, but Erickson said his concern is simply that it be a fair vote that truly represents the wishes of the industry. The results are expected to be announced in early December.

Erickson also offered kudos to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who was picked by the Republican leadership to be chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture the day before. Erickson said Conaway is a friend of the ag industry and has visited with TIPA and its leadership three times in the previous 18 months.

“We are very fortunate to have him in that role,” he said.  “He is familiar with grower issues in Texas including the water situation, citrus greening and the important role imports play in our economy.”

When Conaway was at TIPA, Erickson said comprehensive immigration reform was discussed. After years of working for a solution in Congress and having the optimism for action dashed, Erickson said his membership is now just looking for anything that can help it stabilize its workforce.  

“I know of actual examples of growers who have had hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops rot in the field because they couldn’t get them harvested,” said Erickson.

He added that Rep. Conaway appears open to helping to find a solution for agriculture.

With regard to current crops, Erickson said Texas citrus shipments were well ahead of last year’s pace, though some recent rain did slow the harvesting down a bit.

“Right now the citrus season is rockin’ and rollin’,” he said. “Overall the crop looks very good — very comparable to last year.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

South Texas continues to expand as produce entry point

In 2013, about 170,000 truckloads of fruits and vegetables from Mexico came into the United through the ports of entry in South Texas, making it the leading state in the country for imports of fresh produce.

“About 40-45 percent of the fresh produce consumed in the United States is imported,” said Bret Erickson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, based in Mission, TX. “More than 50 percent of those imports come through Texas.”

The crossing bridge at Pharr in the Rio Grande Valley is the busiest port of entry, with about 100,000 of those truckloads in 2013. Laredo, Progreso and Rio Grande City make up the vast majority of the other 70,000 loads. Erickson said the number of trucks crossing in Texas is increasing every year.  

Texas, in fact, is expecting an even greater percentage of produce imports from Mexico in the near future, now that the Mexican “super highway” connecting the Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan with the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville is almost complete.

Some have estimated that annually an additional 500,000 truckloads of goods (not just produce) will rumble through Texas into the United States because of the ease of driving across that country through the mountains and into the Lone Star State.

Erickson said the significant increase in produce imports over the last couple of decades is the chief reason the Texas Produce Association added the word “international” to its moniker.  

“It reflects the growth and direction of our membership and recognizes the importance of imports to Texas,” he said.

The TIPA is recognizing how south Texas agriculture has changed with its new produce convention that will be held in San Antonio this spring. Like the ongoing trend in produce shows, it will be a regional show but with a huge international flavor. Erickson expects about half of the exhibitors to be Mexican companies that sell their produce into the United States and ship through Texas.

Of course, the Texas International Produce Association has its roots in the Rio Grande Valley and it still has its two boots planted in Texas soil. In mid-November, Erickson said the U.S. Department of Agriculture was counting the recent ballots concerning a continuation referendum on the south Texas onion deal. The TIPA executive said it was a regularly scheduled vote and there appeared to be no extra politicking for or against the measure.

Earlier this year, a previous referendum was voided because of the use of an outdated mailing list. In the past, the federal marketing order has been approved by growers, but Erickson said his concern is simply that it be a fair vote that truly represents the wishes of the industry. The results are expected to be announced in early December.

Erickson also offered kudos to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who was picked by the Republican leadership to be chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture the day before. Erickson said Conaway is a friend of the ag industry and has visited with TIPA and its leadership three times in the previous 18 months.

“We are very fortunate to have him in that role,” he said.  “He is familiar with grower issues in Texas including the water situation, citrus greening and the important role imports play in our economy.”

When Conaway was at TIPA, Erickson said comprehensive immigration reform was discussed. After years of working for a solution in Congress and having the optimism for action dashed, Erickson said his membership is now just looking for anything that can help it stabilize its workforce.  

“I know of actual examples of growers who have had hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops rot in the field because they couldn’t get them harvested,” said Erickson.

He added that Rep. Conaway appears open to helping to find a solution for agriculture.

With regard to current crops, Erickson said Texas citrus shipments were well ahead of last year’s pace, though some recent rain did slow the harvesting down a bit.

“Right now the citrus season is rockin’ and rollin’,” he said. “Overall the crop looks very good — very comparable to last year.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Texas Company Recalls Sausage-Like Products for Possible Temperature Abuse

Carlton Foods of New Braunfels, TX, is recalling approximately 25,764 pounds of fresh Boudin products produced with pre-cooked rice that may have experienced temperature abuse and may contain an emetic toxin produced by Bacillus cereus, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The Boudin (sausage-like) products were produced on Aug. 22, 2014, through Oct. 17, 2014. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 12-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S HICKORY SMOKED BOUDIN”
  • 12-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S PREMIUM BOUDIN”
  • 12-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S ‘HOT’ PREMIUM BOUDIN”
  • 16-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S PREMIUM BOUDIN”
  • 32-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S CAJUN GRILLERS BOUDIN”

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 1943” or “EST. 961” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Products with the EST. 961 inside the mark of inspection would also have NB printed on the label. “Sell By” dates for the recalled products range from Oct. 28, 2014, to Dec. 16, 2014. The products were shipped to retail locations in Louisiana and Texas.

The problem was discovered by FSIS personnel during a Food Safety Assessment. During production, FSIS personnel observed pre-cooked rice, a component of the Boudin, being held at unsafe temperatures, which could result in the products containing an emetic toxin produced by Bacillus cereus.

Bacillus cereus is a type of bacteria that can be found in a variety of foods, particularly rice that has been stored too long at room temperature. Emetic toxins produced by Bacillus cereus can cause nausea and vomiting to occur within 30 minutes to six hours after consumption of contaminated foods.

FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Randy Rust, company president, at (830) 625-7583, ext. 109.

Food Safety News

Texas Company Recalls Sausage-Like Products for Possible Temperature Abuse

Carlton Foods of New Braunfels, TX, is recalling approximately 25,764 pounds of fresh Boudin products produced with pre-cooked rice that may have experienced temperature abuse and may contain an emetic toxin produced by Bacillus cereus, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The Boudin (sausage-like) products were produced on Aug. 22, 2014, through Oct. 17, 2014. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 12-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S HICKORY SMOKED BOUDIN”
  • 12-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S PREMIUM BOUDIN”
  • 12-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S ‘HOT’ PREMIUM BOUDIN”
  • 16-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S PREMIUM BOUDIN”
  • 32-oz. vacuum-packed packages of “RICHARD’S CAJUN GRILLERS BOUDIN”

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 1943” or “EST. 961” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Products with the EST. 961 inside the mark of inspection would also have NB printed on the label. “Sell By” dates for the recalled products range from Oct. 28, 2014, to Dec. 16, 2014. The products were shipped to retail locations in Louisiana and Texas.

The problem was discovered by FSIS personnel during a Food Safety Assessment. During production, FSIS personnel observed pre-cooked rice, a component of the Boudin, being held at unsafe temperatures, which could result in the products containing an emetic toxin produced by Bacillus cereus.

Bacillus cereus is a type of bacteria that can be found in a variety of foods, particularly rice that has been stored too long at room temperature. Emetic toxins produced by Bacillus cereus can cause nausea and vomiting to occur within 30 minutes to six hours after consumption of contaminated foods.

FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Randy Rust, company president, at (830) 625-7583, ext. 109.

Food Safety News

Texas Company Recalls Ground Beef for Potential Metal Pieces

Sam Kane Beef Processors of Corpus Christi, TX, is recalling approximately 90,987 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FSIS announced Saturday.

The following products are subject to recall:

  • 3-lb. packages of “HEB Ground Chuck,” bearing the establishment number “337,” a production date of “09/12/14” and a use-by date of “10/02/14.”
  • 5-lb. packages of “HEB Ground Beef,” “73% LEAN 27% FAT,” bearing the establishment number “337,” a production date of “09/15/14” and a use-by date of “10/05/14.”
  • 10-lb. packages of “HEB Ground Beef,” “73% LEAN 27% FAT,” bearing the establishment number “337,” a production date of “09/18/14,” and a use-by date of “10/08/14.”
  • 10-lb. clear film packages of formed patties made from Sam Kane Beef Processors “Ground Chuck,” bearing the establishment number “337,” a production date of “9/09/14” and a use-by date of “9/29/14.”

The products were produced on the above dates (between Sept. 9, 2014, and Sept. 18, 2014, with sell-by dates between Sept. 29, 2014, and Oct. 8, 2014) and bear the establishment number “337” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection. The products were shipped to retail outlets in Texas.

The problem was discovered after a retail location received consumer complaints involving ground beef and pieces of metal approximately 3 mm in size. Four separate consumer complaints were received, with one consumer reporting a chipped tooth. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness from consumption of these products should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Herb Meischen, senior vice president of sales and marketing, at (361) 241-5000, ext. 250.

This is the second recall involving products from this company in the past week. The previous recall, involving 2,633 pounds of ground beef chub product possibly contaminated with pieces of plastic, was announced Sept. 30.

Food Safety News

Texas Beef Products Recalled for Possible E. Coli Contamination

Caviness Beef Packers of Hereford, TX, is recalling approximately 23,100 pounds of beef trimmings that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday evening.

The products were produced on Aug. 14, 2014, and Aug. 20, 2014, and were shipped to fast-food restaurants and retail distribution locations in Texas.

The following products are subject to recall:

  • Combo bins containing “Beef Trimmings, BNLS, 90 L”
  • Combo bins containing “Beef Trimmings, BNLS, 84 L”

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 675” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These products were sent to establishments for further processing and will likely not bear the establishment number “EST. 675″ on products available for direct consumer purchase.

The problem was discovered during a food safety assessment. The products subject to recall are lots that tested negative; however, they were produced consecutive to the positive lots and were subsequently processed into raw ground products and distributed to retailers.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Trevor Caviness, company president, at (806) 372-5781.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 145 degrees F or 160 degrees F for ground meat. The only way to confirm that beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children younger than 5 and older adults. HUS is marked by easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Food Safety News

Texas Cyclospora Cases Linked to Mexican Cilantro

At least 126 Cyclospora-related illnesses in Texas reported this year have now been traced back to fresh cilantro imported from Mexico, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

State and federal health officials revealed the source of the outbreak at the same time they announced that the outbreak was considered over.

The case count spiked in June and July 2014, but any illness occurring after May 1 was considered part of the outbreak. At least 166 Cyclospora cases have been reported in Texas this year.

Of the outbreak cases, 21 were traced back to four restaurants in North Texas that all carried cilantro sourced from Puebla, Mexico. All 21 of those consumed dishes containing the cilantro.

Officials did not find any samples of cilantro contaminated with Cyclospora, but they said there is strong enough epidemiological evidence to link the illnesses to cilantro.

Last year at this time, 631 people in 25 states — including 270 people in Texas — fell ill in a Cyclospora oubreak also linked to cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, as well as to salad mix from Taylor Farms de Mexico.

Cyclospora is a single-celled parasite that can be found in food or water contaminated by infected feces and often in tropical areas. Symptoms usually appear roughly one week after ingestion and can include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps and nausea.

Food Safety News

Citrus greening spreads to new areas of Texas

The Texas citrus industry is currently combating the destructive disease known as citrus greening, as the disease has taken a stronghold in both commercial and residential citrus plants in the Rio Grande Valley. Hidalgo, Cameron and Harris counties are under quarantine for citrus greening, which is primarily a disease of the tree but it can also have a devastating effect on the crop itself. The fruit from infected trees poses no risk to human health.

Citrus greening was first detected in Texas in January 2012. A small number of trees were found to be infected with the disease. In 2014, the nature and prevalence of citrus greening disease changed, with the discovery of 430 infected trees in commercial groves and 207 infected trees in residential backyards.

“The question weighing heavily on the minds of growers and many others in South Texas is whether Texas can avoid a catastrophic situation for our citrus industry, which wasn’t the case for our eastern neighbors in Florida,” Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, said in a press release.

Recent detections are not only being found in more commercial groves and residential areas, but some areas have a large number of infected trees, with more than 50 trees testing positive for the disease in a single block of citrus. The area most infected by the disease is located in the mid-valley region.

“It is simply too early to know how the situation will unfold,” Prewett said in the release. “However, we know that all Texans, from commercial growers to nursery owners to homeowners, must continue to be aggressive in their efforts to slow the spread of the disease.”

The state legislature established the Texas Citrus Pest & Disease Management Corp. to help fight citrus greening in Texas. CPDMC has developed a set of best management practices for controlling the Asian citrus psyllid, the pest that infects citrus trees and causes citrus greening.

Additionally, the Texas Department of Agriculture has issued regulations requiring all citrus trees in the 10 county citrus zone to be produced in an enclosed, certified structure. This will help prevent the disease from entering and infecting nursery plants.

Texas Citrus Mutual and the Texas Citrus Pest & Disease Management Corporation are working with Rio Grande Valley residents, commercial producers and sellers to aggressively combat citrus greening through the following practices: integrated pest management, including the use of pesticides and bio-control agents; reduction of citrus greening bacteria, which requires removing infected trees; and working with growers and homeowners to plant citrus nursery stock that is free of citrus greening and other diseases.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Citrus greening spreads to new areas of Texas

The Texas citrus industry is currently combating the destructive disease known as citrus greening, as the disease has taken a stronghold in both commercial and residential citrus plants in the Rio Grande Valley. Hidalgo, Cameron and Harris counties are under quarantine for citrus greening, which is primarily a disease of the tree but it can also have a devastating effect on the crop itself. The fruit from infected trees poses no risk to human health.

Citrus greening was first detected in Texas in January 2012. A small number of trees were found to be infected with the disease. In 2014, the nature and prevalence of citrus greening disease changed, with the discovery of 430 infected trees in commercial groves and 207 infected trees in residential backyards.

“The question weighing heavily on the minds of growers and many others in South Texas is whether Texas can avoid a catastrophic situation for our citrus industry, which wasn’t the case for our eastern neighbors in Florida,” Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, said in a press release.

Recent detections are not only being found in more commercial groves and residential areas, but some areas have a large number of infected trees, with more than 50 trees testing positive for the disease in a single block of citrus. The area most infected by the disease is located in the mid-valley region.

“It is simply too early to know how the situation will unfold,” Prewett said in the release. “However, we know that all Texans, from commercial growers to nursery owners to homeowners, must continue to be aggressive in their efforts to slow the spread of the disease.”

The state legislature established the Texas Citrus Pest & Disease Management Corp. to help fight citrus greening in Texas. CPDMC has developed a set of best management practices for controlling the Asian citrus psyllid, the pest that infects citrus trees and causes citrus greening.

Additionally, the Texas Department of Agriculture has issued regulations requiring all citrus trees in the 10 county citrus zone to be produced in an enclosed, certified structure. This will help prevent the disease from entering and infecting nursery plants.

Texas Citrus Mutual and the Texas Citrus Pest & Disease Management Corporation are working with Rio Grande Valley residents, commercial producers and sellers to aggressively combat citrus greening through the following practices: integrated pest management, including the use of pesticides and bio-control agents; reduction of citrus greening bacteria, which requires removing infected trees; and working with growers and homeowners to plant citrus nursery stock that is free of citrus greening and other diseases.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Officials Warn Public of Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at Texas Burger Restaurant

Health officials in Austin, TX, have alerted the public about possible Hepatitis A exposure at a Whataburger restaurant in central Austin after a restaurant employee at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location was diagnosed with the virus.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is usually spread when a person ingests something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person, including contaminated food or water.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A can include the following: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Signs and symptoms usually appear two to four weeks after exposure, although they may happen up to two to seven weeks after exposure. Children younger than 6 with Hepatitis A often do not have, or show few, signs and symptoms. Children, however, are least likely to get sick because they are typically immunized.

While health officials say transmission of the infection to customers is unlikely, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is recommending that people contact their doctor if they ate at that specific Whataburger restaurant between Aug. 7 and Aug. 19 and fit the following criteria:

  • Are 75 years old or older
  • Are immune-compromised
  • Have chronic liver disease or have had a liver transplant
  • Have clotting-factor disorders
  • Are experiencing Hepatitis A symptoms

If you do not fall into these risk categories but are still worried or are needing more guidance, officials recommend that you should visit your doctor or call the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department at 512-972-4372. The city’s Public Health Department is also working with the Whataburger Corporation to make sure employees are using the proper control measures at the Guadalupe location.

Whataburger has established a hotline for anyone with questions about the situation. That number is:  844-569-5555. The company released the following statement:

“This report of one employee’s Hepatitis A diagnosis at our 2800 Guadalupe St. location is top priority for us, which is why we have set up a dedicated hotline at 844-569-5555 to answer questions from the community. We invest a tremendous amount of time and effort to ensure food safety, so we have a team actively managing the situation, and we are working closely with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. We remain committed to a safe and clean dining experience for our employees and customers, and we have taken several precautionary measures, including providing all of our team members who work at this restaurant a Hepatitis A vaccine at Whataburger’s expense. Again, we encourage those with questions to contact our hotline at 844-569-5555.”

Food Safety News

Officials Warn Public of Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at Texas Burger Restaurant

Health officials in Austin, TX, have alerted the public about possible Hepatitis A exposure at a Whataburger restaurant in central Austin after a restaurant employee at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location was diagnosed with the virus.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is usually spread when a person ingests something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person, including contaminated food or water.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A can include the following: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Signs and symptoms usually appear two to four weeks after exposure, although they may happen up to two to seven weeks after exposure. Children younger than 6 with Hepatitis A often do not have, or show few, signs and symptoms. Children, however, are least likely to get sick because they are typically immunized.

While health officials say transmission of the infection to customers is unlikely, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is recommending that people contact their doctor if they ate at that specific Whataburger restaurant between Aug. 7 and Aug. 19 and fit the following criteria:

  • Are 75 years old or older
  • Are immune-compromised
  • Have chronic liver disease or have had a liver transplant
  • Have clotting-factor disorders
  • Are experiencing Hepatitis A symptoms

If you do not fall into these risk categories but are still worried or are needing more guidance, officials recommend that you should visit your doctor or call the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department at 512-972-4372. The city’s Public Health Department is also working with the Whataburger Corporation to make sure employees are using the proper control measures at the Guadalupe location.

Whataburger has established a hotline for anyone with questions about the situation. That number is:  844-569-5555. The company released the following statement:

“This report of one employee’s Hepatitis A diagnosis at our 2800 Guadalupe St. location is top priority for us, which is why we have set up a dedicated hotline at 844-569-5555 to answer questions from the community. We invest a tremendous amount of time and effort to ensure food safety, so we have a team actively managing the situation, and we are working closely with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. We remain committed to a safe and clean dining experience for our employees and customers, and we have taken several precautionary measures, including providing all of our team members who work at this restaurant a Hepatitis A vaccine at Whataburger’s expense. Again, we encourage those with questions to contact our hotline at 844-569-5555.”

Food Safety News

Officials Warn Public of Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at Texas Burger Restaurant

Health officials in Austin, TX, have alerted the public about possible Hepatitis A exposure at a Whataburger restaurant in central Austin after a restaurant employee at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location was diagnosed with the virus.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is usually spread when a person ingests something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person, including contaminated food or water.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A can include the following: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Signs and symptoms usually appear two to four weeks after exposure, although they may happen up to two to seven weeks after exposure. Children younger than 6 with Hepatitis A often do not have, or show few, signs and symptoms. Children, however, are least likely to get sick because they are typically immunized.

While health officials say transmission of the infection to customers is unlikely, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is recommending that people contact their doctor if they ate at that specific Whataburger restaurant between Aug. 7 and Aug. 19 and fit the following criteria:

  • Are 75 years old or older
  • Are immune-compromised
  • Have chronic liver disease or have had a liver transplant
  • Have clotting-factor disorders
  • Are experiencing Hepatitis A symptoms

If you do not fall into these risk categories but are still worried or are needing more guidance, officials recommend that you should visit your doctor or call the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department at 512-972-4372. The city’s Public Health Department is also working with the Whataburger Corporation to make sure employees are using the proper control measures at the Guadalupe location.

Whataburger has established a hotline for anyone with questions about the situation. That number is:  844-569-5555. The company released the following statement:

“This report of one employee’s Hepatitis A diagnosis at our 2800 Guadalupe St. location is top priority for us, which is why we have set up a dedicated hotline at 844-569-5555 to answer questions from the community. We invest a tremendous amount of time and effort to ensure food safety, so we have a team actively managing the situation, and we are working closely with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. We remain committed to a safe and clean dining experience for our employees and customers, and we have taken several precautionary measures, including providing all of our team members who work at this restaurant a Hepatitis A vaccine at Whataburger’s expense. Again, we encourage those with questions to contact our hotline at 844-569-5555.”

Food Safety News

Cyclospora Outbreak Reaches 202 Cases; More Than Half are in Texas

Just like last summer, illnesses involving prolonged watery diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis are spreading across the country from Texas. Public health officials suspect the parasite is riding into the United States on contaminated fresh produce grown in Mexico for the U.S. market. They just don’t yet know the exact source, where it’s grown, and how it’s being distributed here.

During the past week, the outbreak has expanded by several states, with the number of confirmed cases growing to 202, up from the 61 illnesses reported nationally as recently as July 23.  With 110 illnesses, the Lone Star State accounts for more than half of the nation’s current cases, with illnesses being reported in 29 of the 254 counties in Texas.

“Though a source has yet to be identified, past outbreaks have been traced to fresh imported produce,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said. “DSHS encourages people to wash produce thoroughly, though that may not entirely eliminate the risk because Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off.”

Last summer, a June-peaking national outbreak of Cyclosporiasis ultimately saw 631 people sickened in 25 states. Last year’s Cyclospora outbreak caused some confusion and contention among the state’s investigating it. Iowa and Nebraska thought the infections were caused by bagged mixed salads served by restaurants, while Texas officials named fresh cilantro grown in Puebla, Mexico.

This year, interviews conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have attributed about 25 illnesses to foreign travel. Before last summer, Cyclospora outbreaks from food or water sources in the U.S. have been sporadic since imported raspberries arrived here two decades ago.

Carried by food or water contaminated by feces, the illness is cause by a parasite that’s common in tropical or subtropical counties. The onset of illness typically occurs within two to 14 days after the oocytes are consumed. It results in profuse diarrhea that can last for a couple weeks to several months. Other symptoms are a low-grade fever, nausea and vomiting, bloating and gas, anorexia and fatigue.

Food Safety News

Texas Firm Recalls Sandwiches and Wraps for Possible Listeria Contamination

Great American Marketing of Houston, TX, is recalling approximately 475 pounds of FSIS- and FDA-regulated ready-to-eat products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The sandwich and wrap products were produced on July 15, 2014, and then shipped to retail locations in Texas. Case labels or packaging may bear the sell-by date of 07/26/14.

Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number “EST 31680” or “P-31680” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The following FSIS-regulated products are subject to recall (view labels here):

  • 7.4 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Chicken Caesar Wraps.
  • 8.1 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Club Wraps.

FDA-regulated products being recalled include (view labels here):

  • 10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Ham and Cheddar Premium sandwiches.
  • 10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Turkey & Swiss Premium sandwiches.

The problem was discovered when FSIS collected a sample of a separate product on July 15, 2014, that was confirmed positive for L. monocytogenes on July 23. The sampled product was held. However, the plant produced the additional FSIS- and FDA-regulated products listed in this recall without conducting a complete clean-up of the production equipment. Those products have entered commerce and are subject to recall.

FSIS and the company have received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. FSIS advises all consumers to reheat ready-to-eat product until steaming hot.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Bill Welch at (713) 682-6471.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause Listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections can occur in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Food Safety News

Texas Firm Recalls Sandwiches and Wraps for Possible Listeria Contamination

Great American Marketing of Houston, TX, is recalling approximately 475 pounds of FSIS- and FDA-regulated ready-to-eat products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The sandwich and wrap products were produced on July 15, 2014, and then shipped to retail locations in Texas. Case labels or packaging may bear the sell-by date of 07/26/14.

Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number “EST 31680” or “P-31680” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The following FSIS-regulated products are subject to recall (view labels here):

  • 7.4 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Chicken Caesar Wraps.
  • 8.1 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Club Wraps.

FDA-regulated products being recalled include (view labels here):

  • 10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Ham and Cheddar Premium sandwiches.
  • 10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Turkey & Swiss Premium sandwiches.

The problem was discovered when FSIS collected a sample of a separate product on July 15, 2014, that was confirmed positive for L. monocytogenes on July 23. The sampled product was held. However, the plant produced the additional FSIS- and FDA-regulated products listed in this recall without conducting a complete clean-up of the production equipment. Those products have entered commerce and are subject to recall.

FSIS and the company have received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. FSIS advises all consumers to reheat ready-to-eat product until steaming hot.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Bill Welch at (713) 682-6471.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause Listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections can occur in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Food Safety News

Texas Firm Recalls Sandwiches and Wraps for Possible Listeria Contamination

Great American Marketing of Houston, TX, is recalling approximately 475 pounds of FSIS- and FDA-regulated ready-to-eat products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The sandwich and wrap products were produced on July 15, 2014, and then shipped to retail locations in Texas. Case labels or packaging may bear the sell-by date of 07/26/14.

Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number “EST 31680” or “P-31680” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The following FSIS-regulated products are subject to recall (view labels here):

  • 7.4 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Chicken Caesar Wraps.
  • 8.1 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Club Wraps.

FDA-regulated products being recalled include (view labels here):

  • 10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Ham and Cheddar Premium sandwiches.
  • 10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Turkey & Swiss Premium sandwiches.

The problem was discovered when FSIS collected a sample of a separate product on July 15, 2014, that was confirmed positive for L. monocytogenes on July 23. The sampled product was held. However, the plant produced the additional FSIS- and FDA-regulated products listed in this recall without conducting a complete clean-up of the production equipment. Those products have entered commerce and are subject to recall.

FSIS and the company have received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. FSIS advises all consumers to reheat ready-to-eat product until steaming hot.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Bill Welch at (713) 682-6471.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause Listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections can occur in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Food Safety News