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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

FOOD SAFETY LAWYER

Ice Cream with Metal Pieces Recalled

55740-matcha-ice-cream-1497180635Grocery store chain Trader Joe’s is voluntarily recalling all lot codes of its Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream (SKU# 055740). There may be small metal pieces in the product.

No injuries or illnesses have been reported to date.

All potentially affected products have been removed from store shelves and destroyed.

Anyone who purchased Trader Joe’s Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream shouldn’t eat it. They are advised to discard the product or return it to any Trader Joe’s location for a full refund.

Last month, Trader Joe’s recalled its Mikawaya Chocolate Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream because it possibly contained peanuts, which weren’t listed on its ingredient label.

Public Health interviewing Rifle Rodeo attendees after disease outbreak

10685562_805513589517173_7447612968541220671_nGarfield County Public Health staff hopes to speak with individuals who attended the Rifle Rodeo Monday, June 5. The agency is investigating several dozen calls from people who became ill after attending the event. The department began receiving calls June 6 from citizens with gastrointestinal complaints. Symptoms of the illness included nausea, cramping and diarrhea. These individuals had all attended the Rifle Rodeo, a private event at the Garfield County Fairgrounds the previous evening. Approximately 200 people attended the rodeo.

Public Health is asking people who attended the event to contact the department, even if they did not become ill.

“It appears that people became ill approximately six hours following the end of the rodeo event Monday night,” said Billy Harkins, Environmental Health Specialist with the Garfield County Consumer Protection Program. “We are still investigating the cause of the outbreak, and are taking all possible factors into consideration. The total number of individuals who became ill and the duration of their illness has not been confirmed.” Garfield County officials are working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine the cause of the illness.

To pinpoint the source of the outbreak, Garfield County is attempting to contact individuals with and without symptoms who attended the Rifle Rodeo at the Garfield County Fairgrounds on Monday, June 5.

Due to the short onset and short duration of the illnesses reported to Public Health staff following a privately organized event at the fairgrounds, it has been determined the reported illnesses did NOT develop from a waterborne issue, an airborne issue, e-coli, salmonella, Hepatitis A, or anything transferred person to person.

Due to the quick reporting by event attendees, Public Health was able to respond in an immediate and comprehensive manner to contain further outbreak.

Samples have, and are being sent to a state lab for testing. Public Health staff hopes to receive data next week, but this depends on the number of investigations of both ill and well people that staff is still in the process of conducting.

June 5 Rifle Rodeo attendees are asked to call 970-625-5200, ext. 8128, and a Public Health representative will return the call to complete a brief questionnaire that will help to track down the source of the outbreak.

Blue Plastic in Perdue Sausages prompt Recall

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 10.57.32 AMPerdue Foods LLC., a Gainesville, Ga. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,148 pounds of chicken sausage products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The Italian chicken sausage links were produced on March 27, 2017. The following products are subject to recall:  [View Labels (PDF Only)]

  • 24-oz. plastic packages containing eight links of fully cooked ready to eat “PERDUE HARVESTLAND Italian Style Organic Chicken Sausage” bearing package code 64405 and a sell or freeze by date of 6/25/17.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-2617” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a retail distributor in Connecticut and Maryland.

The problem was discovered on May 5, 2017, when FSIS was notified by the firm that they had received three consumer complaints of blue plastic materials in the sausage.

There have been no confirmed reports of injury due to consumption of these products.  Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

Plastic in Chicken do not Mix

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 7.55.28 PMFoster Poultry Farms, a Farmerville, La. establishment, is recalling approximately 131,880 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat breaded chicken patty products that may be contaminated with foreign materials, specifically plastic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The frozen, ready-to-eat breaded chicken patty items were produced on February 15, 2017. The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF only)]

  • 5-lb. bags containing 20 pieces of “FOSTER FARMS Chicken Patties BREADED CHICKEN BREAST PATTIES WITH RIB MEAT” with Best By date of 02/15/18.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-33901” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distribution centers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Utah and Washington.

The problem was discovered when the firm received three consumer complaints on March 22, April 3, and April 15, 2017 reporting foreign materials in the chicken patty products. The foreign materials were pieces of clear, soft plastic that originated from the establishment’s packaging materials.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

Fore! Golf Balls in Wegman’s Potatoes

UCM555390McCain Foods USA, Inc. announced today it is expanding the voluntary recall of retail, frozen hash brown products that may contain golf ball materials, specifically hard plastic or rubber pieces, that despite our stringent supply standards may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product. Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth. There have been no reported injuries associated with the consumption of this product.

McCain Foods, USA Inc. is taking this action as a result of two additional consumer complaints of the hard plastic or rubber pieces. The original April, 21, 2017 recall that included Roundy’s and Harris Teeter Brand Hash Browns has been expanded to include the Wegman’s Brand 28-ounce bag of frozen O’Brien Hash Browns (UPC 07789036523). The Wegman’s product being voluntarily recalled were manufactured on October 21, 2016. The production code date that can be found on the bag is B161021. The Wegman’s product was distributed in the states of Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Distribution occurred after the date of October 21, 2016.

Any Wegman’s O’Brien Hash Browns product with a different production code date is not impacted by this voluntary recall.  No other products under the Wegman’s brand are impacted by this voluntary recall. The McCain Foods product recall is contained to only product produced and sold within the United States.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

Golf Ball parts found in Hash Brown Potatoes – Choking Hazard

ucm554453McCain Foods USA, Inc. announced today it is voluntarily recalling retail, frozen hash brown products that may be contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials, that despite our stringent supply standards may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product. Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth.

The impacted products include the following: Roundy’s Brand, 2 lb. Bag of Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns (UPC 001115055019) and Harris Teeter Brand, 2 lb. Bag of Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns (UPC 007203649020).

The Roundy’s products were distributed at Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick ‘n Save supermarkets in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. The Harris Teeter products were distributed in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland. Distribution occurred after the date of January 19, 2017. No other products under the respective brands are impacted by this recall.

The products being recalled were manufactured on January 19, 2017. The production code date is B170119 and can be found on the back of the packaging. Any product with a different production code date is not impacted by this recall.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

There have been no reported injuries associated with the consumption of this product.

Fresh Express Recalls Organic Marketside Spring Mix with Bat

IMG_0900The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this evening that it is working with the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support an investigation of a dead bat that was found in a Fresh Express packaged salad purchased from a Walmart grocery store in Florida. Two people in Florida reported eating some of the salad before the bat was found. The bat was sent to the CDC rabies lab for laboratory testing because bats in the United States sometimes have been found to have this disease. The deteriorated condition of the bat did not allow for CDC to definitively rule out whether this bat had rabies.

Transmission of rabies by eating a rabid animal is extremely uncommon, and the virus does not survive very long outside of the infected animal. CDC is supporting Florida local and state health officials in evaluating the people who found the bat in the salad. In this circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people who ate salad from the package that contained the bat were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment. Both people report being in good health and neither has any signs of rabies. CDC is not aware of any other reports of bat material found in packaged salads.

On April 8, 2017, Fresh Express issued a recall of a limited number of cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix. The salads were sold in a clear container with production code G089B19 and best-if-used-by date of APR 14, 2017 located on the front label. The recalled salads were distributed only to Walmart stores located in the Southeastern region of the United States (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, VA). All remaining packages of salad from the same lot have been removed from all store locations where the salad was sold.

Consumers who may have already purchased the recalled product should discard and not consume it.

What six things a Food Safety Lawyer does not eat

Bill-Marler-B-W-headshot-640x441Unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and packaged juices. Unpasteurized milk, sometimes called “raw” milk, can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites. Between 1998 and 2011, there were 148 food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk and raw milk products in the US—and keep in mind that comparatively few people in the country ever consume these products, so 148 outbreaks is nothing to ignore. As for unpasteurized packaged juices, one of Marler’s earliest cases was the 1996 E. coli outbreak from unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice. As a result, he won’t go near raw milk or juice. There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization,” he says.

Raw sprouts. Uncooked and lightly cooked sprouts have been linked to more than 30 bacterial outbreaks (mostly of Salmonella and E. coli) in the US since mid-1990s. As recently as 2014, salmonella from bean sprouts sent 19 people to the hospital. All types of sprouts—including alfalfa, mung bean, clover and radish sprouts—can spread infection, which is caused by bacterial contamination of their seeds. “There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination,” Marler says. “Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.” He did add that he does eat them if they’re cooked.

Meat that isn’t well-done. Marler orders his burgers well-done. “The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it,” Marler says. “If it’s not cooked thoroughly to 160°F throughout, it can cause poisoning by E. coli and Salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.” As for steaks, needle tenderizing—a common restaurant practice in which the steak is pierced with needles or sliced with knives to break down the muscle fibers and make it more tender—can also transfer bugs from the surface to the interior of the meat. If a restaurant does this (Marler asks), he orders his steak well-done. If the restaurant doesn’t, he’ll opt for medium-well.

Prewashed or precut fruits and vegetables. “I avoid these like the plague,” Marler says. Why? The more a food is handled and processed, the more likely it is to become tainted. “We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food—bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that,” Marler says. “Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk.” He buys unwashed, uncut produce in small amounts and eats it within three to four days to reduce the risk for Listeria, a deadly bug that grows at refrigerator temps.

Raw or undercooked eggs. You may remember the Salmonella epidemic of the 1980s and early ’90s that was linked mainly to eggs. If you swore off raw eggs back then, you might as well stick with it. The most recent salmonella outbreak from eggs, in 2010, caused roughly 2,000 reported cases of illness. “I think the risk of egg contamination is much lower today than it was 20 years ago for salmonella, but I still eat my eggs well-cooked,” Marler says.

Raw oysters and other raw shellfish. Marler says that raw shellfish—especially oysters—have been causing more foodborne illness lately. He links this to warming waters, which produce more microbial growth. “Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water,” he explains. “If there’s bacteria in the water it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I’ve seen a lot more of that over the last five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It’s simply not worth the risk.”

William “Bill” Marler is a nationally recognized American personal injury lawyer and food safety advocate. He is the managing partner of Marler Clark, a Seattle, Washington, based law firm that specializes in foodborne illness cases.

First published at http://bottomlinehealth.com/health-insider/6-things-this-food-safety-expert-wont-eatand-one-surprising-food-he-will/ Copyright © 2016 by Boardroom Inc., 281 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, Connecticut 06901-3229. www.BottomLineHealth.com

2016 – Civil Beat News, Rui Kaneya August 22, 2016

2016 – This genius lawyer is our best hope against deadly food poisoning Kiera Butler Mother Jones May 20, 2016

2015 – Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler, By Naomi Tomky March 24, 2015

2015 – The New Yorker – A Bug in the System
The New Yorker, Wil S. Hylton, February 2, 2015.

2014 – Q&A: Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler on What Not to Eat
The National Law Journal, Interview with Jenna Greene, November 3, 2014.

2012 – Bill Marler, Attorney, Blogger, and Food Safety Advocate, Talks Turkey (Or Spinach, Rather)
Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 2.

2012 – Bill Marler Interview, Part Two: His Most Difficult Cases and Lobbying Congress
Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 14.

2012 – Profiles in Public Health Law: Interview with William “Bill” Marler CDC Public Health Law News, July.

2012 – Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler On Sprouts, Raw Milk, and Why “Local” Isn’t Always Safer Blisstree.com, Hanna Brooks Olsen, March 5.

2011 – Listeria outbreak draws Seattle lawyer to battle
Associated Press, Shannon Dininny, October 9.

2011 – Food-Borne Illness Attorney: Top Foods to Avoid
ABC News, Neal Karlinsky, September 29.

2011 – How to Keep Food Free of Salmonella: Lawsuits
The Atlantic, Barry Estabrook, August 31.

2011 – More Stomach-Churning Facts about the E. Coli Outbreak
New York Times, Mark Bittman, June 8.

2011 – Bill Marler: A Personal Injury Attorney and More
The Xemplar, Nicole Black, June 1.

2011 – Good Food Hero: Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney
Good Food World, Gail Nickel-Kailing, May 23.

2011- Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat.
Inspire Books, Jeff Benedict, May 15

2011 – New Book Chronicles Islander Marler’s Work.
Bainbride Island Review, Connie Mears, May 13.

2010 – Food Safety Lawyer Puts His Money Where Your Mouth Is
AOL News, Andrew Schneider, September 29

2009 – Food Safety Lawyer’s Wish: Put Me Out of Business
Seattle Times, Maureen O’Hagan, November 23

2009 – WSU Discourse on Food Safety, Courtesy Seattle Lawyer
Kitsap Sun, Tristan Baurick,  August 29

2009 – When Food Sickens, He Heads for Courthouse
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Matt McKinney, June 24

2009 –  Bill Marler, The Food-Safety Litigator
Culinate, Miriam Wolf, April

2009 – Food Fight:Bill Marler’s Beef (PDF)
Washington Law & Politics, David Volk, May

2009 – Candidate for Top FSIS Job talks E. coli Testing, Irradiation, Education
The Meating Place, Ann Bagel Storck, February 6

2009 – Five Minutes with Bill Marler, Well Known Lawyer, Food Safety Activist
CattleNetwork, Chuck Jolley, February 5

2009 – Heath Surveillance the Key to Fresh Produce
The Packer, Tom Karst, February 3

2008 – Seattle Food Contamination Expert in China as Tainted Milk Sickens Thousands of Kids
Seattle Health Examiner, September 23

2008 –  E. Coli Lawyer Is Busier Than Ever
Associated Press, February 4

2007 –  Legally Speaking: The Food Poisoning Lawyer
The Southeast Texas Record, John G. Browning, November 20

2007 –  The Nation’s Leading Food-borne Illness Attorney Tells All
Washington State Magazine, Hannelore Sudermann, August

2007 –  Back to Court: Burst of E. coli Cases Returns Jack in the Box Litigator to the Scene
Meat and Poultry News, Steve Bjerklie, June 8

2007 – Food Fight
Portland Oregonian, Alex Pulaski, March

2007 –  Mr. Food Illness Esquire
QSR Magazine, Fred Minnick, February

2006 –  Seattle Attorney Dominates Food-Borne Illness Litigation
KPLU, October 20

2006 –  How a Tiny Law Firm Made Hay Out of Tainted Spinach
The Wall Street Journal, Heather Won Tesoriero and Peter Lattman, September 27

2005 – Bill Marler – Education Holds Key in Tainted Food Fight
King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin, Ross Anderson, November

2001 –  THE INSIDE STORY: How 11 Schoolkids Got $4.75 Million in E. coli Lawsuit
MeatingPlace.com, Bryan Salvage, March 7

2001 –  Hammer Time: Preparation Pays When Disputes Escalate to Lawsuits
Meat & Poultry Magazine, David Hendee

2001 –  For Seattle Attorney, A Bacterium Brings Riches—and Enemies
The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Zimmerman

2001 –  The Bug That Ate The Burger
Los Angeles Times, Emily Green, June

1999 –  Courting Publicity, Attorney Makes Safe Food His Business
Seattle Post, Maggie Leung, September 7

Consumer Complaints of Metal Objects Prompts Chicken Fries Recall

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 1.21.34 PMOK Food, Inc., an Oklahoma City, Okla. establishment, is recalling approximately 933,272 pounds of breaded chicken products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ready-to-eat (RTE) breaded chicken items were produced on various dates from Dec. 19, 2016 through March 7, 2017. A list of the products subject to recall can be found here PDF

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-7092” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations and institutions nationwide.

The problem was discovered on March 21, 2017 after OK Foods Inc. received five consumer complaints stating that metal objects were found in the ready-to-eat chicken products and by FSIS inspection personnel during verification activities. After an internal investigation, the firm identified the affected product and determined that the objects in all the complaints came from metal conveyor belting.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

Lead in Thyme?

UCM547268-420x600Aroma Imports Inc. of Dearborn Heights, MI, is recalling 450 g and 4.5 kg packages of Nabelsi brand Thyme because the products have the potential to contain excessive levels of lead.  The recall was initiated after it was discovered that product contained high levels of lead (422 PPM) based on sampling by U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Illinois Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Protection.  Based on the product’s 30 g serving size, the calculated lead result is 12,660 µg per serving.  This level exceeds the daily limit guidelines of 6 µg per day for children, the 25 µg per day for pregnant women, and the 75 µg per day for other adults.

The recalled Nabelsi Thyme was distributed from Nov. 7, 2016 until Feb. 22, 2017 to retailers, food service establishments, and wholesalers in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and Virginia.

The 450 g size (UPC: 4670000205314) is packaged in a mostly green foil/mylar bag that is not transparent on either side. The 4.5 kg size (UPC: 6670000205374) packaging is a silver foil/mylar bag. The production date for both sizes is 08/20/2016 and the expiration date is 08/20/2018. The production and expiration dates can be found on the back lower left corner of the 450 g package and back lower right of the 4.5 kg package.  The 450 g packages are packed 24 per case and the 4.5 kg packages are packed 2 per case.

Lead can accumulate in the body over time and too much of it can cause serious and sometimes permanent adverse health consequences.  People with high blood levels of lead may show no symptoms, but the condition may cause damage to the nervous system and internal organs. Acute lead poisoning may cause a wide range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and bloody or decreased urinary output. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can be diagnosed through clinical testing.

There have been two cases of high blood levels of lead associated with this product to date. Both cases have been reported through the Illinois Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Protection.

Consumers who have purchased any packages Nabelsi Thyme should not consume the product.