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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

More Cumin Recalled Over Peanut Problem

ucm440915Maya Overseas Food Inc. of 48-85, Maspeth Ave., Maspeth, NY 11378, is recalling its 7 ounce packages of “Cumin Powder” because they may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have allergies to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled “Cumin Powder” were distributed NY, CT, NJ, MA, PA and VA in retail stores. The product comes in a 7 ounce, clear plastic package and is un-coded.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the peanut-containing product was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of peanuts. Subsequent investigation indicated the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the company’s production and packaging processes. Production of the product has been suspended until the company is certain that the problem has been corrected.

Listeria Recall: Robber’s Roost Jerky

Robber’s Roost Jerky, an Ellensburg, Wash., establishment, is recalling approximately 4 pounds of ready-to-eat smoked beef and pork pepper stick jerky product that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The fully cooked beef and pork pepper stick jerky product was produced on March 24, 2015. The following product is subject to recall:

  • 6” individual Cryovac sticks of “Smoked Beef & Pork Pepper Stick” with package code 032420150004.

The product subject to recall bears the establishment number “EST. 19962M” inside the USDA mark of inspection. This product was shipped to local retail outlets in Washington.

The problem was discovered by the company after a sample from the cutting board used in preparation of the product returned a positive test result for Listeria monocytogenes. FSIS and the company have received no reports of illness due to consumption of this product.

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 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.

USDA Awards 36 Food Safety Grants, Including $6.7 Million for Antimicrobial Resistance, to Protect Consumers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced funding awards totaling nearly $19 million, including more than $6.7 million for antimicrobial resistance strategies, to 36 grantees to ensure a safe and nutritious food supply and while maintaining American agricultural competitiveness. NIFA made the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Increasing food safety continues to be a major focus for USDA, as it directly impacts the health and well-being of all Americans,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “Funding provided to universities supports discoveries of new ways that we can prevent foodborne illnesses and increase the safety of our food production industry.”

NIFA made the awards through the AFRI Food Safety program to protect consumers from microbial and chemical contaminants that may occur in the food chain, from production to consumption. This year, AFRI’s Food Safety program is comprised of five sub-programs. The following projects have been selected for awards in each sub-program:

Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies

  • University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Ark. $149,000
  • Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $500,000
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $900,000
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $751,000
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $700,000

Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $749,838
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $2,193,556
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $2,250,000
  • Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C., $15,000
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $16,500
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., $750,000
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $749,993

Identifying and Targeting Food Safety Needs

  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill., $50,000

Improving Food Safety

  • University of Connecticut, Mansfield, Conn., $49,744
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Fl., $499,972
  • Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., $499,968
  • University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, $499,516
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $150,000
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $499,567
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $500,000
  • University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nev., $150,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $979,761
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $172,339
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $50,000
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $499,812

Improving Food Quality

  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $498,356
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $499,652
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $248,408
  • University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill., $861,714
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $465,694
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $420,685
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $46,293
  • University of Maryland, Princess Anne, Md., $149,998
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $499,977
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $489,528
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.V., $435,353

This year’s projects include Washington State University’s efforts to discover causes and solutions for AMR impact on dairy farms and calf-rearing ranches by researching the effects of different antibiotics on AMR prevalence, the existence of AMR reservoirs and niches, and the maintenance and spread of AMR throughout the farms and ranches. Tennessee State University researchers will focus on implementing a holistic roadmap for accelerating the innovation process in irradiation research, guiding technology development for contaminant treatment. West Virginia University researchers aim to develop innovative protein sources for the growing population by repurposing protein from underutilized resources, specifically the water-soluble proteins from fish processing byproducts that contain mineral, amino acid, and fatty acid profiles. A complete list of this year’s project descriptions is available on the NIFA website.

Successful projects funded in previous years include a project at the University of Nebraska to reduce the occurrence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) along the entire beef production pathway, a development of microwave pasteurization technology at Washington State University to reduce pathogens and extend shelf-life of processed foods, efforts at the University of California-Davis to understand how pathogens survive on and infect fresh produce, and a project at Georgia Tech looking at new methods of Salmonella detection.

The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture. AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) bioenergy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.

The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

Judge Orders Seafood Company Closed Due to Listeria and Botulism Risks

Star SeafoodAt the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a judge has ordered L.A. Star Seafood Company Inc., located in Los Angeles, and its owners, Sima and Sam Goldring, to halt operations until they demonstrate to the FDA that they can process food in compliance with food safety laws and regulations.

In 2012, at the FDA’s request, the company recalled some of its products due to potential contamination. In 2013, the FDA inspected the L.A. Star facility, and sent the company a warning letter detailing steps the company must take to comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements. In 2014, another inspection of the L.A. Star facility documented the company and its owners’ continued failure to comply with the law.

The consent decree of permanent injunction requires L.A. Star to control for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) and Clostridium botulinum (C. bot), two disease-causing bacteria. The consent decree also requires the company to devise and implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures, and train staff in both.

L. mono is a foodborne pathogen that can cause serious illness or even death in vulnerable groups such as newborns, elderly adults and those with impaired immune systems. C. bot, a bacterium that can grow in seafood products, causes botulism, which is rare, but can cause paralysis and death without prompt treatment. The purpose of food safety regulations is, in part, to prevent the growth and spread of L. mono, C. bot and other microorganisms that cause foodborne illness.