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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Salmonella Paratyphi Linked to California Sushi

Tuna-Sushi-Salmonella-RecallThe Ventura County Public Health Department announced a Salmonella Paratyphi outbreak on Monday. Eighteen cases have already been confirmed in Southern California with one case in Santa Barbara County and four in Ventura County. Seven other cases are from out-of-state, most of who had travel to Southern California.

In a statement released to the media, the Ventura County Health Department said the cause of the outbreak remains under investigation. “As of April 17th, 10 out of 10 people who completed detailed food questionnaires stated they had consumed sushi, and over 80 percent reported having eaten raw tuna,” said the Health Department. Twenty percent of affected patients have been hospitalized.

This particular strain of Salmonella had never been seen before March 2015, but the Health Department said that a closely related strain was responsible for a Salmonella outbreak that occurred in California and Hawaii back in 2010. That outbreak was found to be linked to raw tuna imported from Indonesia. “This strain is genetically different from the 2010 strain, so it appears the two strains are unrelated at this time,” noted the Health Department.

Blue Bell Issues Worldwide Ice Cream Recall After Listeria Tests

Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is voluntarily recalling all of its products currently on the market made at all of its facilities including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, 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 headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The products being recalled are distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts, convenience stores and supermarkets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma,  South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations.

Today’s decision was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell which revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015, contained the bacteria. This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants and as previously reported five patients were treated in Kansas and three in Texas after testing positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Blue Bell is implementing a procedure called “test and hold” for all products made at all of its manufacturing facilities. This means that all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe. The Broken Arrow facility will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate.In addition to the “test and hold” system, Blue Bell is implementing additional safety procedures and testing including:

–          Expanding our already robust system of daily cleaning and sanitizing of equipment

–          Expanding our system of swabbing and testing our plant environment by 800 percent to include more surfaces

–          Sending samples daily to a leading microbiology laboratory for testing

–          Providing additional employee training

My bet is that Blue Bell wishes it had implemented these programs long ago.

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 caramel apples, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

CIDRAP: US offers mixed news on drug resistance in foodborne pathogens

A pair of annual federal reports on antimicrobial resistance in pathogens found in poultry and meat brought a mix of good and not-so-good news this week.

The government’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) issued its retail meat report for 2012 and an interim report for 2013 that covers only Salmonella.

NARMS is a collaborative program of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health departments in 11 states. The annual reports focus primarily on Salmonella and Campylobacter.

On the Salmonella front, testing showed that multidrug-resistant strains decreased from 2011 to 2013. In 2012, 33% of retail chicken Salmonella isolates were resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics, which was lower than in 2011. The number dropped to 26% in the 2013 interim report.

There was good news on quinolone resistance: all Salmonella isolates from poultry and meat were susceptible to nalidixic acid and ciprofloxacin in 2012, and in 2013 all were susceptible to ciprofloxacin. (The 2013 report does not mention nalidixic acid.)

The 2012 report shows that third-generation cephalosporin resistance in retail chicken Salmonella isolates increased from 10% to 28% between 2002 and 2012, but the 2013 report shows it dropped to 19.7%.

As for Campylobacter, nearly half of C jejuni and C coli isolates from retail chicken were resistant to tetracycline in 2012, making tetracycline resistance the most common type among Campylobacter.

The report also said that monitoring has revealed no consistent changes in ciprofloxacin resistance among retail chicken C jejuni and C coli isolates since the FDA banned fluoroquinolone use in poultry production in 2005.

On the other hand, Campylobacter rarely shows resistance to multiple drugs, as only 26 of 620 poultry isolates were resistant to three or more antibiotic classes in 2012.

NARMS 2012 Retail Meat Report

NARMS 2013 interim report on Salmonella

Salmonella Warning: Pennsylvania Agriculture Department Warns Consumers to Discard Raw Milk Purchased at Lancaster County Dairy

Consumers who purchased raw milk from Ben K. Stoltzfus, Breezy Meadows Dairy, 2457 Stumptown Road, Bird-In-Hand, PA 17505 should discard it immediately due to Salmonella contamination.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today said raw milk collected during required routine sampling by a commercial laboratory on April 7, 2015 tested positive for the bacteria.

Breezy Meadows, owned by Ben K. Stoltzfus, sells directly to consumers at an on-farm retail store. The packaged raw milk is sold in one-gallon and ½-gallon plastic containers. Approximately 80 gallons of raw milk were sold between April 7 and April 15, 2015. The plastic containers are not labeled.

Agriculture officials have ordered the owner to stop sale of all raw milk until further notice. Two samples taken at least 24 hours apart must test negative for pathogens before the farm can resume raw milk sales.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.

Pennsylvania law allows farms to sell raw milk, but requires the farms to be permitted and inspected by the Department of Agriculture to reduce health risks associated with unpasteurized products.

When an incident of contamination is discovered, the department’s milk sanitarian works with the raw milk permit holder to educate them on where the issue occurred and how to find a solution.

Symptoms of Salmonellosis usually appear within 12 to 72 hours after consumption and include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting that can last anywhere from four to seven days.

For more information about salmonella, visit www.about-salmonella.com

To date, the Pennsylvania Health Department is not aware of any illnesses related to these products. Any person who consumed raw milk from Breezy Meadows Dairy and has symptoms should consult their physician, visit their local health center or call 877-PA HEALTH (714-3258).

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.