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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

More Sunflower Kernels Recalled

4258712-sunflower-seeds-background-Stock-PhotoFIRST SOURCE of Tonawanda, NY, is recalling the following items because they have the potential to be contaminated with  Listeria monocytogenes:

  • 15 LBS Alpine Valley Fitness Mix with lot code BD 161021
  • 15 LBS Alpine Valley Yogurt Fruit/Nut Mix with lot code BD 161261
  • Alpine Tub “Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels” 10.25oz with Best By 03-24-17
  • Alpine Tub “Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Kernels” 10.25oz with Best By 3-23-17, 3-30-17, 5-3-17
  • Wegmans square tub “Fitness Mix” 20oz with Best By 12-24-16
  • Wegmans square tub “Sunshine Cranberry Delight” 20oz with Best By 12/15/16, 1-7-17, 2-9-17
  • 15 LBS Alpine Valley Sunshine Cranberry Delight with Lot Code BD 161021 and BD 161261
  • Flave Fitness Mix 8oz with Best By 4-20-17 and 05-02-17
  • Flave Tropical Trail Mix 8oz with Best By 4-20-17
  • Flave Oriental Mix 6oz with Best By 3-10-17 and 4-21-17
  • Flave Sunflower Seeds 7.5oz with Best By 4-20-17
  • Gonzo 2 Go “Sunshine Cranberry Delight” 4.5oz with Best By 2-10-17
  • Gonzo 2 Go “Fitness Mix” 5oz with Best By 1-7-17
  • Stewarts Sunshine Cranberry Delite 5oz with Best By 1-18-17
  • Tops square tub “Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Kernels” 10.25 with Best By 3-30-17, 5-3-17
  • Tops square tub “Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels” 10.25 with Best By 1-28-17

Listeria monocytogenes, is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled items were distributed in the following states via retail stores: IN, LA, MA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, PA,VA, WV & SC, between 3/11/2016 and 5/21/2016.

Organic Pastures Dairy Recalls Raw Milk Due to Salmonella

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 5.21.45 PMRaw milk and cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County with a code date of June 1, 2016 is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of Salmonella bacteria in raw whole milk and raw skim milk.  No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand raw milk, raw skim milk and raw cream labeled with a USE BY date of JUN 01 2016 is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted in follow up to a previous recall order on May 9, 2016 that was also due to the detection of Salmonella.

According to the California Department of Public Health, symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after exposure. While most individuals recover in four to seven days without medical intervention, some may develop complications that require hospitalization. Infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness.

The Salmonella problem is not Organic Pastures first of 2016:

THE 2016 ORGANIC PASTURES RAW MILK COLI O157:H7 OUTBREAK AND SALMONELLA RECALL

In January 2016 the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) learned of a cluster of four children diagnosed with E. coli O157 who reported consuming Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) brand raw cow milk before they became sick. Molecular strain typing of patient isolates showed these four patients were infected with an indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157 identified as PulseNet pattern combination “EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628.” Genetic testing by Multiple-Locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA) confirmed PFGE findings.

By late February 2016 ten outbreak associated case-patients residing in seven northern and central California counties had been identified. Nine case-patients had E. coli O157 with the predominant PFGE pattern combination EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628. One case-patient had a closely related PFGE pattern combination EXHX01.6275/EXHA26.0628. Both pattern combinations were given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cluster code 1602CAEXH-1. The patients were primarily children, with a median age of 8 years (range 1 to 26 years). Onset dates of illness ranged from January 14 to January 28, 2016. Four were hospitalized including two children with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Of the ten case-patients, nine were interviewed.  One patient was lost to follow-up and never interviewed. Of the nine that were interviewed, six (67%) reported consuming OPDC bran raw milk prior to illness onset. Three denied known raw milk exposure.

In response to the initial reports of illness, OPDC initiated a recall on February 5, 2016 of two lot codes of raw milk. This recall affected over 100 retail locations in northern and central California. Samples obtained from a patient in Fresno and from multiple retail locations throughout northern California were tested. E. coli O157 was not detected in any of these samples of raw milk.

During discussions with OPDC management, CDPH investigators learned that E. coli O157:H7 had been detected in a bulk milk tank sample in early January 2016. Although this milk was not distributed to the public, this finding resulted in further testing of the milk herd. One of the cows, Cow 149, was identified as having milk that was positive for E. coli O157.  CDPH Food and Drug Laboratory Branch (FDLB) conducted PFGE testing on four isolates cultured from samples collected from Cow 149. PFGE analysis determined the four isolates were PulseNet strain EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628 and were indistinguishable from the main outbreak pattern seen in clinical isolates.

On February 8, 2016 CDPH Food and Drug Branch (FDB) investigators conducted an on-site investigation at OPDC. FDB investigators collected a total of 97 environmental and product samples including 20 product samples (raw milk and cream), 56 cow feces, 18 soil, and 3 water. E. coli O157 was not detected in any of the product samples collected at OPDC. However, multiple environmental samples tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, including feces, soil, and water. These environmental samples were determined by FDLB to have 3 strains of E. coli O157 including the two strains isolated in case-patients (EXHX01.6177/EXHA26.0628 and EXHX01.6275/EXHA26.0628).

The evidence collected indicated that cattle in the OPDC milking herd were shedding E. coli O157 that matched PFGE patterns associated with ten illnesses in January 2016. Cow 149 produced milk contaminated with E. coli O157 and it is likely that milk from Cow 149 was bottled and shipped to consumers.

THE 2016 ORGANIC PASTURES RAW MILK SALMONELLA RECALL

Raw milk and cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County with a code date of MAY 18 is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of Salmonella bacteria in raw cream.  No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand raw milk, raw skim milk and raw cream labeled with a code date of MAY 18 is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.[1]

PAST RECALLS AND OUTBREAKS LINKED TO ORGANIC PASTURES RAW MILK

October 2015 – Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Test:

Raw milk produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County with a code date of OCT 24 is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.[2] The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw whole milk. No illnesses have been reported at this time. Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand Grade-A raw milk labeled with a code date of OCT 24 is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.

September 2012 – Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Test:

Raw milk, raw skim milk (non-fat) and raw cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County and with a code date of SEP 13 are the subjects of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.[3] The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream. No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand Grade A raw cream, Grade A raw milk and Grade A raw skim milk, all with a labeled code date of SEP 13, are to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.

May 2012 – Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Illnesses:

Raw milk, raw skim milk (non-fat), raw cream and raw butter produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford.[4] The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream.

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any Organic Pastures products of these types remaining in their refrigerators, and retailers are to pull those products immediately from their shelves.

From January through April 30, 2012, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that at least 10 people with campylobacter infection were identified throughout California and reported consuming Organic Pastures raw milk prior to illness onset. Their median age is 11.5 years, with six under 18. The age range is nine months to 38 years. They are residents of Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara counties. None of the patients have been hospitalized, and there have been no deaths.

According to CDPH, symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with campylobacteriosis recover completely. Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week. The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all. However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection. In addition, a rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

2011 Organic Pastures E. coli Outbreak:

In November 2011, a cluster of five young children with Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infection with matching pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns was identified. Illness onsets were from August 25 to October 25, 2011. All five children reported drinking commercially available raw (unpasteurized) milk from a single dairy (Organic Pastures) and had no other common exposures. Statistical analysis of case­ patients’ exposures with a comparison group of E. coli O157:H7 patients with non­-cluster PFGE patterns indicated a strong association with raw milk. The epidemiological findings led to a quarantine and recall of all Organic Pastures products except cheese aged more than 60 days, and investigations by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Food and Drug Branch (FOB) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Environmental samples collected at Organic Pastures yielded E. coli O157:H7 isolates that had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the patient isolates. Organic Pastures raw milk consumed by the case-patients was likely contaminated with this strain of E. coli O157:H7, resulting in their illnesses. See Final Report.[5]

Organic Pastures has been involved in even more recalls and outbreaks in the past:

Organic Pastures products were recalled for pathogens in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It was tied to a 2007 outbreak of Campylobacter. Most notably, it was quarantined in 2006 after six children became ill with E. coli infections – two with hemolytic uremic syndrome. See Final Report.[6]

2006: 3 strains of E. coli O157:H7 cultured from OPDC heifer feces. See Press Release.[7]

2007: 50 strains of Campylobacter jejuni plus Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter fetus, Campylobacter hyointetinalis, and Campylobacter lari cultured from OPDC dairy cow feces after eight people were sickened. See State Report.[8]

2007: Listeria monocytogenes cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream. See Press Release.[9]

2008: Campylobacter cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream. See Press Release.[10]

__________

[1]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=16-015

[2]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=15-050

[3]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=12-033

[4]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=12-018

[5]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/press_releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=11-064

[6]           http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5723a2.htm

[7]           http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5723a2.htm

[8]           https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=15-050

[9]           http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2005/ucm112271.htm

[10]          https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=08-061

Watch the Internet for Salmonella Tainted Garden of Life RAW Meal

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Salmonella has been confirmed in one person in Wisconsin likely associated with recalled Garden of Life RAW Meal. DATCP is collaborating with Wisconsin Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the latest illness, including tracing the source of the contaminated product. The product, an organic shake and meal replacement, was recalled earlier this year by the company, but consumers have acquired recalled product from internet retailers such as eBay and Amazon. Contaminated product may still be for sale from eBay, Amazon and other internet retailers.

Earlier, the CDC had announced the outbreak over after a total of 33 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow were reported from 23 states. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden of Life, LLC were the likely source of this outbreak.

On January 29, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC voluntarily recalled a limited quantity of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Virchow. The recalled products were available for purchase nationwide in many retail stores and online.

The Utah Public Health Laboratory and Oklahoma Public Health Laboratory isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow from open containers of Garden of Life RAW Meal collected from ill people’s homes in Utah and Oklahoma.  Both products that were tested were from lots covered under the recalls announced by Garden of Life, LLC.

FDA sampling confirmed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow in Organic Moringa Leaf powder used in RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal Replacement products. On February 12, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC issued an expanded recall of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai to include additional lots that contained the contaminated Organic Moringa Leaf powder.

What is Listeria?

Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.

Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1000 cases result in death. Certain groups of individuals are at greater risk for listeriosis, including pregnant women (and their unborn children) and immunocompromised persons. Among infants, listeriosis occurs when the infection is transmitted from the mother, either through the placenta or during the birthing process. These host factors, along with the amount of bacteria ingested and the virulence of the strain, determine the risk of disease. Human cases of listeriosis are, for the most part, sporadic and treatable. Nonetheless, Listeria remains an important threat to public health, especially among those most susceptible to this disease.

Listeria is often isolated in cattle, sheep, and fowl, and is also found in dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.

What are the Symptoms of Listeria Infection?

It is thought that ingestion of as few as 1,000 cells of Listeria bacteria can result in illness. After ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria, incubation periods (from time of exposure to onset of illness) are in the range of one to eight weeks, averaging about 31 days. Five days to three weeks after ingestion, Listeria has access to all body areas and may involve the central nervous system, heart, eyes, or other locations.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation (decreased consciousness) or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke. Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; about one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy. The incidence of listeriosis in the newborn is 8.6 cases per 100,000 live births. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) from listeriosis is 80%.

How to Diagnosis and Treat a Listeria Infection?

If you have symptoms of listeriosis, a health care provider can have a blood or spinal fluid test done to detect the infection. During pregnancy, a blood test is the most reliable way to find out if your symptoms are due to listeriosis. If you are in a high-risk group, have eaten the contaminated product, and within 2 months become ill with fever or signs of serious illness, you should contact your health care provider and inform him or her about this exposure. 

There are several antibiotics with which Listeria may be treated. When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus. Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.

How to Prevent a Listeria Infection?

General recommendations include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.