The Marler Clark network of food poisoning informational Web sites, which first appeared online in 1998, recently received a makeover. The sites, which were originally put online to provide Internet users with basic information about the illnesses caused by such foodborne pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Hepatitis A, have increased in breadth over the years to include information about complications caused by foodborne pathogens: hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), reactive arthritis (Reiter’s Syndrome), and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Those sites are:

“We have heard time and again how valuable the information provided on these sites is to parents whose children are in the hospital. When your kid is sick, you arm yourself with as much information as you can, and these sites provide a comprehensive look at these ‘bugs’ and the illnesses they cause,” commented William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark.

The sites also provide information related to high-profile food poisoning outbreaks that have occurred in the last 15 years. “Since Marler Clark has represented victims of nearly every major foodborne illness outbreak in the last fifteen years, we felt it was important to share the details of these outbreaks with anyone doing research on a particular pathogen,” Marler continued.

Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness outbreaks since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. The firm has resolved $300 million worth of cases against such food-companies as AFG, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Blimpie’s, the Brook-Lea Country Club, Byerly’s, Cargill, Carl’s Jr., Carneco, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chi-Chi’s, Chili’s, China Buffet, ConAgra, Cub Foods, Dole, Emmpak, Excel, Filiberto’s, Finley School District, Friendly’s, Gate Gourmet, Gold Coast Produce, Golden Corral, Habanero’s, Harmony Farms, KFC, King Garden Restaurant, Lund’s, Malt-O-Meal, McDonalds, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co., Natural Selections Foods, Odwalla, Olive Garden, Paramount Farms, Pat & Oscar’s, PM Beef Holdings, Quality Inn, Quizno’s, Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Robert’s American Gourmet (Veggie Booty), Sam’s Club, San Antonio Taco, Senor Felix, Sheetz, Silver Grill Location Catering, Sizzler, Sodexho, Spokane Produce, Subway, Sun Orchard Juice Co., Supervalu, Sushi King, Susie Cantaloupe, Taco Bell, Taco John’s, Topps, United Food Group (UFG), Viva Cantaloupe, Wal-Mart, and Wendy’s.

CDCThe CDC today released its preliminary 2006 food-borne illness data from 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee. A total of 17,252 confirmed cases (actual cases may be anywhere between 20 and 30 times the confirmed cases) of food-borne illness were reported in those states in 2006, according to the CDC.

Continue Reading 17,252 confirmed cases of food poisoning in 2006 in US

E. posted an article about ten foodborne pathogens.  The list, which was compiled by author Terry Nicholls. He goes on to describe pathogens, or bacteria and viruses that cause human illness, and different foods that pathogens have been found in, including raw milk and other dairy products, meat, and fresh produce.  He also mentions measures that can aid in reducing foodborne illness, such as hand washing, temperature control, and using separate cutting boards for potentially dangerous foods and foods that will not be cooked again, such as fresh produce.

Continue Reading Ten foodborne pathogens

The Medical Microbiology blog has a post on general diagnosis of urinary tract infection, enterocolitis, and foodborne illness. What they have to say about food poisoning is:

Food is an important mode of transmission of infectious diarrhea. Bacterial enters the food chain from animal infections, from poor hygiene during butchering, improper cleaning of storage and preparation areas and unclean utensils cause contamination of raw and cooked foods. Hens that are chronically colonized with salmonella produce eggs that may allow the multiplication of bacteria. Transmission of food poisoning is also facilitated where there is poor sanitation. In these situations, infections spread rapidly through the community, causing significant mortality. Cholera is capable of spreading world-wide. The temperature range in which most bacteria grow is between 40 degrees F (5 degrees C) and 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). Undercooking or improper processing of home-canned foods can cause very serious food poisoning.

Don't eat poopUSA Today reports that the first rule of public health is one most of us learn in kindergarten: Don’t eat poop.

But that’s what the people were eating who were struck down with E. coli in the late summer outbreak tied to bagged spinach, California health officials now say.

There was deadly E. coli O157:H7 in water samples taken on the Salinas Valley ranch where the spinach was grown, in wild pigs that rampaged through the fields, in cattle and calves that grazed nearby, and on cow manure in adjacent pastures, says Kevin Reilly, deputy director of prevention services for the California Department of Health Services.

"It’s not unusual or unexpected that we’d find O157:H7 in the environment where those species exist," Reilly says. Three people died and more than 200 others were sickened in the outbreak that spread to 26 states.

norovirusDoctors call it "acute gastroenteritis." To many other people, it’s "stomach flu" (though real influenza is a respiratory, not digestive, illness). Whatever you call it, a sudden illness involving diarrhea, vomiting or both is a miserable thing. And occasionally — as demonstrated by the recent deaths linked to E. coli-tainted spinach — it can be a dangerous thing.

But, as USA Today printed in an article today, in the words of Chesapeake, Va., gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond: "The GI (gastrointestinal) tract has a limited palette of expression. You vomit, you cramp, you have diarrhea."

So how do you tell a really bad bug from one that is merely unpleasant? How do you tell one that came from food from one you picked up from a doorknob or a baby’s diaper? In short, when should you worry?

Usually, doctors say, both worry and detective work are unnecessary: Whether the culprit is viral or bacterial, food-borne or not, you’ll most likely recover in a couple of days and won’t need medical attention. If you suspect the Thanksgiving stuffing, it’s nice to let other family members know. And you should change your cooking habits (or your caterer). But there’s rarely a need to send the whole clan in for a battery of tests and treatments.

shopping cartThe an article in today’s Star Tribune reports the grocery cart you’re putting your food, handbag and toddler into is full of germs.

Consider the handle. It’s been touched by untold numbers of hands that have changed diapers, mopped up runny noses, picked up packages of raw chicken and meat, and been coughed on, sneezed in and drooled on.

Bacteria and viruses such as E.coli, staphylococcus, salmonella and influenza can live on grocery carts, scientists say. Though they caution not to get too panicked about the thought, experts say it is possible to catch something from the carts if conditions are right. News this morning published an article on foodborne illness, where it comes from, and how to avoid it.

"Recent cases of food-borne illness raise questions not only about farming practices and government regulations, but also what steps consumers need take to ensure their own safety.

For years, North Americans have heard food safety tips relating to meat. We’ve been instructed repeatedly on the steps to avoid diseases triggered by E. coli and salmonella — proper handling, cooking and cleaning.

E. coli, often called the hamburger disease, causes bloody diarrhea, and can destroy the kidneys and other organs. Salmonella, responsible for about 15 per cent of all cases of food poisoning, is most often linked to poultry and food containing eggs."

Foxy lettuceThe Monterey Herald reports that Mexico is banning U.S. imports. More countries to follow?

Mexico’s Department of Health announced Monday that the country’s 105 ports of entry would block all U.S. lettuce from coming through the border as a result of Nunes Co.’s precautionary recall.

The family-run company recalled the lettuce after water from a reservoir at one of its grower’s fields tested positive for generic E.coli, many harmless strains of which live in human intestines.

But on Tuesday, further tests of the recalled lettuce showed that the E.coli in the irrigation water was not the 0157:H7 strain, the form of the bacteria responsible for the outbreak linked to spinach that killed three people and sickened 199 others.

CDCMarilynn Marchione, a medical writer for the Associated Press, reports that despite the recent E. coli spinach outbreak, food may be safer now than at any other time in the last decade, with illness occurring at record-low rates, new federal statistics show.

Consumers get part of the credit, for handling food more safely at home, but experts say the biggest improvement came from better industry controls and inspections.

However, the trend could reverse in coming years if fruit and vegetable growers do not address problems like those that led to the spinach scare.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration lifted its warning on spinach except for specific brands packaged on certain dates. Consumers should continue to avoid spinach recalled by Natural Selection Foods LLC of San Juan Bautista and four companies that it supplied.

The recall covered 34 brands bearing "Best if Used By" dates of Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, so most of it is thought to be out of the food supply now.

The spinach sickened 187 people in 26 states, hospitalized 97 of them and killed one. Outbreaks typically are far larger than the number of lab-confirmed cases reported to federal officials.

Germs in food make 76 million Americans sick, send 323,000 to hospitals and kill 5,000 each year, the CDC estimates.

Continue Reading Food illnesses decline, CDC reports