Marler Comments on Cheese Recall for Listeria Contamination: "Pasteurization Is Not a Guarantee of Safety"

Yesterday, a Washington state company became the latest to recall its Ricotta Salata Frescolina Brand cheese for potential Listeria contamination. Peterson Company distributed the potentially contaminated cheese to distributors, retailers and restaurants in Washington and Oregon after receiving it from cheese importer Forever Cheese of Long Island City, NY, which issued a recall for its Ricotta Salata Frescolina brand cheese on September 10, 2012.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other public health agencies have traced at least 14 cases of listeriosis to the consumption of contaminated Ricotta Salata Frescolina brand cheese—a salty, white cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk—which has been on the market since June 20, 2012. All 14 people who contracted Listeria infections were hospitalized, and 3 died as a result of their listeriosis. On September 13, Whole Foods announced that it was recalling ricotta salata sold at stores due to potential Listeria contamination.

“We focus so much attention on preventing foodborne illness by pasteurizing milk and cheeses. This is a good reminder that just post-pasteurization contamination is as much a risk to consumers as contamination prior to pasteurization,” said food safety advocate and attorney Bill Marler. “Something went wrong in processing this cheese—be it contaminated equipment or improper handling—and lives have been lost as a result.”

Marler continued, “Importers need to certify that the products they’re selling are safe for human consumption. We tell pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons to consume only pasteurized dairy products. They should be able to eat these products without fear of miscarriage or death.”

Listeria infection can cause the sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, vomiting and other influenza-type symptoms. In severe cases, Listeria infection is often characterized by septic shock, meningitis and encephalitis.

According to the Outbreak Database, at least 15 documented Listeria outbreaks have been traced to contaminated cheese in the U.S. and Canada since 2000. Those outbreaks resulted in 132 Listeria cases, 59 hospitalizations and 13 deaths. A 1985 Listeria outbreak resulted in 142 illnesses, with 28 deaths.

BACKGROUND: Bill Marler and his law firm, Marler Clark, have represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. The lawyers at Marler Clark have brought lawsuits on behalf of victims of Listeria outbreaks traced to cheese, milk, cantaloupes, and other foods.

Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, and Costco ensnared in Canadian E. coli ground beef recall

On September 16, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced a ground beef recall due to contamination by E. coli O157:H7.  The beef was produced by XL Foods Inc.  Wearing her detective hat, Phyllis Entis at www.efoodalert.com has figured out where the beef went . . . in the United States.  Walmart, Safeway, Kroger and Costco all received some of the contaminated ground beef. 

Phyllis says:

Affected brands in the USA include Morasch Meats, Calahoo, Kirkland Signature and Cattleman’s. The recalled meat was supplied in the US to retailers and the foodservice industry. As of this evening (September 17th), no recall announcements have been posted on the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service web site, although The Kroger Company has announced a recall of KRO Ground Beef 73% 3#, 3 lb. The meat was sold in Kroger stores located in Greater Cincinnati, including Northern Kentucky, Dayton, OH and South Eastern Indiana, Indiana (except SW IN, -Evansville-), Illinois, Eastern Missouri; Jay C, Food4Less and FoodsCo.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the recall is “part of an ongoing food safety investigation.” Nevertheless, CFIA reports that no illnesses have been associated with the consumption of the recalled products.

See Canadian Beef Recall Expands to US for more information on the brands of ground beef that are affected. 

McDonald's inside Walmart Linked to Hepatitis A Risk

Anyone who may have eaten at a College Avenue McDonald's on August 25, 26, 27 and 30 is being advised by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) that they may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus.

This McDonald’s restaurant is inside the Walmart store on 3412 College Ave. in San Diego. People who ate at the restaurant between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. on those days may have been exposed.

“We encourage anyone who has not had the Hepatitis A vaccine and those who may have been exposed to contact their health care provider,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer.

Walmart shoppers who did not eat at the restaurant are not at risk for exposure to the virus.

The early signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, light color stools, pain in the upper right abdomen, and yellowness to the eyes or skin (jaundice).

Hepatitis A varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and in more severe cases lasting four to seven weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all. However, even mildly ill people can still be highly infectious and should consult a physician.

“The risk to the public is low, but anyone who ate at the restaurant on those dates and times should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A,” said Wooten. “Anyone who has been immunized with the Hepatitis A vaccine or previously had the disease is considered protected from the virus.”

Because the spread to patrons is unlikely, the California Department of Public Health does not routinely recommend immunization after a restaurant customer has been exposed to the virus. However, patrons who have not been previously immunized for Hepatitis A should consider getting the vaccine no later than two weeks after exposure. The Hepatitis A vaccine is the preferred preventive treatment for healthy persons from 12 months to 40 years old. Either Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin may be used for those 41 to 59 years of age. The immune globulin is preferred for those 60 years of age and older, those less than 12 months of age, and those at any age who are immune compromised or have chronic liver disease.

Individuals can obtain Hepatitis A immunizations through their primary care physicians. Anyone who was exposed to the virus but is not covered by a medical insurance plan, and wants to be evaluated for Hepatitis A may go to the HHSA Central Region Public Health Center at 5502 University Avenue in San Diego, where vaccinations will be given for minimal or no cost. A special clinic at this location will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide Hepatitis A immunizations.

Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter – even microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by an infected person. People are at increased risk of getting Hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household. Careful hand washing is the key to preventing the spread of Hepatitis A.

Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Caused by Hedgehogs

sa-sonic-01.jpgThe CDC reports tonight that a total of 14 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 6 states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (3), Minnesota (2), Ohio (2), and Washington (5).

Three ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

50% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with hedgehogs purchased from multiple breeders in different states.

F&S Produce Co. Inc. Recalls Mango Products Because of Salmonella Risk

F&S Produce Co. Inc., recalled a number of mango products distributed in the Northeast Saturday because of potential Salmonella contamination.  The products in question have an expiration date of Aug. 28, but the company, F&S Produce Co. Inc., working with the Food and Drug Administration, issued the voluntary recall regardless.

The measure follows a recall by Splendid Products of five lots of mangoes imported from Mexico. The mangoes carry the Daniella brand sticker.  105 have been sickened in the US and 21 in Canada.  No deaths have been reported.

F&S said that products with mangoes that fall under the recall were distributed to grocery and convenience stores in the Northeast. The mangoes, which were processed between Aug. 9 and Aug. 19, used mangoes sourced from Mexico that are part of a current Salmonella outbreak.

Following are products recalled by F&S Produce by label, all with an expiration date of Aug. 28, unless otherwise noted:

  • Delish!: Mango Spears 5 ounce Cantaloupe; Mango, Pineapple Spears 5 ounce; Fruit Burst 10 ounce; Tropical Medley 10 ounce; Mango and Berry Mix 10 ounce; Mango Spears 1 lb.
  • Garden Highway: Mango Medley 1 lb.; Tropical Mango Spinach Salad 7 ounce.
  • Garden Pure: Mango Chunks 5 lb.; Mango 9 ounce ; Fruit Medley 3 lb.; Seasonal Fruit Bowl 4 lb.
  • Signature Café: Fruit Basket Medley 30 ounce.
  • Trader Joe's: Tropical Fruit Medley 1 lb.
  • Generic Label, sold at Wal-Mart (expiration date Aug. 25): Mango Spears 1 lb.

Urine and Feces Found in Montana Courthouse Coffee Pot

5DA4F5EB1BEC1F2B0A318DC383364FFB_292_292.jpgAccording to news reports, urine was discovered in county employees morning brew at the Anaconda Court House early last month.

On June 7th, two county employees unknowingly drank the tainted coffee and are now being tested for hepatitis A, according to Connie Ternes Daniels, Anaconda-Deer Lodge interim chief executive.

To make matters worse, four days later employees found feces inside the coffee pot. Daniels said she also discovered feces under her desk and in a cup hidden in a closet down the hall from her office.

"It's pretty disturbing that somebody would do something like this," Daniels said. "It's a serious I believe attack."

The cup has been sent to the Montana State Crime Lab for fingerprint analysis, according to Tim Barkell, police chief for the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.

Update - Microbiological Data Program Saved? Change.org Petition to President Obama

According to Food Safety News:  

After an uptick in press coverage on the impending shutdown of the Microbiological Data Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to keep the produce testing program running, at least through the end of the year. 

As Food Safety News reported last week, if the program were to shut down, as it was slated to at the end of this month, public testing for pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella on commodities like tomatoes, lettuce and cantaloupes would drop by 80 percent. 

"While the Microbiological Data Program does not align with USDA's core mission, the department will continue its work with state partners using existing agreements to conduct sampling and testing through this program through the end of the year," a spokesman told Food Safety News late Monday night

President Obama: Fund the USDA's Microbiological Data Program (MDP)

BPI Pink Slime Lawsuit Press Conference Postponed

According to KTIV this morning:

We'll have to wait a while longer to learn the details of a lawsuit being filed by a former employee of Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Incorporated. Bruce Smith has postponed a news conference he had scheduled for this afternoon at company headquarters. No explanation was given for the postponement and no new date was given. Smith says he lost his job because of the controversy over Lean, Finely Textured Beef and said he is suing a "national news broadcasting company," and other individuals involved.

BPI Pink Slime - It's Baaaack - As a Lawsuit?

“PINK SLIME” Press Release

You are invited to attend:

Former Beef Products (BPI) EHS Director, Bruce Smith, will be holding a press conference on June 26, 2012, commencing at 1:30 pm at Sterling Green Estates Meeting Room, 320 Dakota Dunes Blvd., Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, to announce his filing of a civil lawsuit against a national news broadcasting company and other prominent individuals involved in the “pink slime” ground beef controversy Smith now refers to as March Meat Madness Month 2012 in his new book on the subject entitled Pink Slime Ate My Job, a soon to be released non-fiction account from an insider’s standpoint, published by Rauttnee Publishing Company. Smith is one of nearly 1,000 employees who lost their jobs after BPI was forced to close three of its four lean beef production plants following the ‘viral’ explosion of the “pink slime” news story beginning in March 2012. Copies of the lawsuit will be provided to those attending, along with an introduction to Smith's new book about the “pink slime” saga from the insider's viewpoint.

Contact: Lisa K. Smith, Public Relations Manager, Rauttnee Publishing Company, Phone: 605-422-0174, Email: rauttneepublishing@hotmail.com

Golden Glen Creamery Recalls Red Pepper Onion & Garlic Cheddar Because Of Listeria

Screen Shot 2012-06-12 at 8.39.23 PM.pngGolden Glen Creamery of Bow, WA, in cooperation with the WSDA is voluntarily recalling Red Pepper with Onion & Garlic Cheddar produced on August 30, 2011 because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The Creamery agreed to recall the product after a sample taken by the WSDA returned with a positive result. Samples of the same batch have tested negative through an independent, state-approved lab that Creamery has submitted samples to. No illnesses have been reported to date. L. 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.

To date, no illnesses have been reported.

Approximately 124 pounds of the Red Pepper with Onion & Garlic Cheddar were sold from March 1st of this year through June 7th of this year in pre-cut, random weight packages, ranging in size from 1/3 pound pieces to 1/2 pound pieces. The labels read in part: "Medium Cheddar – Red Pepper with Onion & Garlic", "GOLDEN GLEN CREAMERY" and "Natural handcrafted cheese produced by the Jensen Ladies", with the three-digit batch code that reads "887". These products were sold at various local area farmers markets in Skagit, Snohomish and King County, as well as independent retailers in Washington State and Oregon.

The Red Pepper with Onion & Garlic Cheddar, code 887, is being voluntarily recalled by Golden Glen Creamery, as a result of a single surveillance sample collected and analyzed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture that was found to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The company has ceased the distribution of the identified batch. The company conducts its own weekly environmental and product testing, and has had no positive results in the previous six months that it has implemented this protocol. The company uses an independent, state-approved lab for all testing.