Voluntary Recall of Chobani Greek Yogurt Products
September 6, 2013
Greek yogurt is a popular choice with consumers because of its higher protein content and smooth texture. Chobani Inc. is a company that is well-known for producing this type of yogurt.
The company announced in the last week that it is recalling products with expiration dates of September 7 through October 7 (batch 16-012) due to a potential concern related to reports of gastrointestinal discomfort after eating their products. Some sources have reported that the product recall was caused by mold. However, the actual cause of spoilage is still under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
FDA weighs in on "Gluten-Free" & "No Gluten" labeling
August 12, 2013
New rules from the Food and Drug Administration now require foods voluntarily labeled as "gluten-free" and "no gluten" to prove it. Foods must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten to claim it on their labels. This new definition from the FDA is an example of the implementation of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). Gluten is a protein allergen found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains.
Dietary gluten avoidance is the only method of treatment for persons with Celiac Disease, a chronic small intestine condition that can cause other serious health concerns. Other individuals are sensitive to gluten-containing foods and also choose to avoid eating gluten.
Read more: FDA defines "gluten-free" for food labeling
Read more: Avoiding hidden food allergens
Hepatitis A Outbreak in Europe: Imported Berries
August 1, 2013
Earlier this summer, an outbreak of Hepatitis A in the United States was linked to frozen berries (see our story from June 1, 2013). Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. It can be spread by contact with an infected person or when foods are handled by an infected person. Further, if water contaminated with human waste is used to wash produce, Hepatitis A contamination can occur.
Several European countries, including Italy and Ireland, experienced similar outbreaks of Hepatitis A this summer. These viral strains of Hepatitis A have also been linked to imported, frozen, ready-to-eat berry products.
Food Safety at Farmers' Markets
July 20, 2013
Outdoor markets are a great way to support your area's farmers by buying directly from them. If you do buy from farmers' markets, it is quite important to follow food safety recommendations.
For example, a recent pilot study highlighted concerns over bacterial contamination. In the study, raw chicken purchased at farmers' markets were more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella sp. and Campylobacter sp. than raw chicken purchased at a supermarket.
Read more: Farmer's Market Chickens Higher in Bacteria
Always ensure that you keep your raw meat purchases cold and separated from ready-to-eat foods. Avoid cross-contamination by washing your hands between tasks and using separate cutting boards and kitchen utensils. Cook meats to an appropriate internal temperature: chicken should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check out our helpful tips section for more information on safe food preparation at home.
Suspected Contamination of Injectable Steriod Prompts Recall
June 8, 2013
In October 2012, we highlighted a fungal meningitis outbreak with a suspected cause of injectable steriods from a compounding facility in Framingham, Massachusetts.
The FDA began investigating a Tennessee drug manufacturer after seven patients suffered from skin infections. The common cause is thought to be an injectable steroid for pain: methylprednisolone acetate. The company has recalled all of its injectable products in an attempt to prevent any additional cases.
Gut-Brain Connection: What Role Do Microbes Play?
June 7, 2013
Research suggests that we are not alone. Humans are colonized by a 'human microbiome' of microbes. These cells outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1. Many of those organisms are "good bugs" because they support health.
It appears that which microorganisms inhabit and form communities in our intestines can impact health, significantly. For example, a recent article in ScienceNews discusses the gut-brain connection and how it might be led by microbes.
Frozen Berries Suspected in Hepatitis A Outbreak
June 1, 2013
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. It can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or through consuming contaminated foods. Immunization against Hepatitis A is an effective method of controlling most outbreaks, but this virus is still of concern in areas of the world with poor sanitation.
Sanitation control is an important role for anyone that produces food for the public. It is possible for many people to become ill from foods prepared by individuals that are infected.
Individuals in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and California were recently diagnosed with acute Hepatitis A. This multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A has tentatively been linked to "Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend" frozen berry product by the FDA and CDC. The viral genotype of Hepatitis A is rare in North America, but maybe linked to imported ingredients included in the product or handling by an ill employee.
How Hygienic Is Your Handbag?
May 18, 2013
Fecal coliforms are one of the groups of microorganisms scientists use to gauge the hygiene of shared surfaces. The presence of fecal coliforms suggests transfer of some of the pathogens that could be present in feces.
Shared surfaces in bathrooms are often tested for fecal coliforms with a goal of developing better cleaning practices. A recent article suggests we should be looking beyond the bathroom to handbags.
Washing your hands after using the bathroom is a common practice. Do you wash your hands before and after you touch your personal items?Read more: Study shows handbags are home to more bacteria than a toilet flush
Most Food Recalls Are Now Multiple Product Recalls
May 17, 2013
According to a recent article, most of the recent food recalls have been from companies issuing recalls of multiple products simultaneously. The most common reason for recalls in meat, poultry, and egg products were foreign objects mistakenly introduced during processing. The second most common reason was undeclared allergens in processed foods.
Both of these are of concern because many consumers rely heavily on processed foods, either for use in home cooking or by eating out at restaurants or food distribution centers that use partially processed items.
Oral Microbes from Mom and Dad - Friend or Foe?
May 17, 2013
The microorganisms that colonize our bodies are members of the human microbiome. Many of these microorganisms are beneficial and support health. These microbial communities are founded at birth and develop based on diet, genetics, and exposure to microbes from the external environment. For example, some microorganisms stimulate our immune system to become better prepared for later attack or suppress pathogen overgrowth. Others produce compounds that are beneficial for health.
Studies have addressed how parenting practices may help - or hinder - the development of healthy oral microflora (microorganisms).
One study suggested that if parents used their own mouth to clean their child's dropped pacifier, their child would be less likely to develop allergies or sensitivities. Specifically, fewer children developed asthma, eczema, and other sensitivities if their parents sucked on their pacifier to clean it.
Another study discussed the implications of microbiota swapping if a parent was prone to dental cavities. Some bacteria and/or microbial communities are more efficient at degrading tooth enamel. Streptococcus mutans is a bacterial species that has been implicated in dental caries and can be traced to saliva swapping between mom and baby.
Family Dining: How Nutritious Is Their "Kid's Menu"?
April 15, 2013
A major restaurant trend is to provide a children's menu to entice families that choose to eat out more frequently. How appropriate are these meals for our children in an age of childhood obesity and an increased awareness of the contribution of food choices to chronic disease?
A recent article looked at various meals marketed towards children at major family-friendly a la carte dining chains. Many of them had more than double the calories, saturated fat, and sodium that is considered appropriate for the age group. Further, many of them do not feature fruits, vegetables, or sufficient fiber.
Read More: 97% of kids' meals are unhealthy, group says
Antibiotics in Agriculture
April 12, 2013
Over-use of antibiotics is warned against because it is a primary mechanism for microorganisms to develop antibiotic resistance. MRSA, for example, is an antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus that is of major concern in hospitals, as well as in community settings. When bacteria that cause disease become resistant to antibiotics, it becomes more difficult to treat the infections they cause.
In recent years, the CDC and other health care organizations have strongly advised doctors to prescribe antibiotics only as needed. Viral infections are not treated by antibiotics. Symptoms of the common cold and flu should be addressed in other ways. These public service campaigns have reduced unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.However, a majority of the antibiotics that are sold in the United States are sold for use in farming meat: for example, beef. The scale of meat farming in the US is significant and could be a source of multi-drug resistant pathogenic microorganisms.
Norovirus Sickens Cruise Ship Passengers
March 21, 2013
Norovirus is a virus that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping. Individuals may also complain of fever and body aches, so norovirus is often called "stomach bug" or "stomach flu." Symptoms come on 24-48 hours after exposure and last as long as 2-3 days.
Norovirus made headlines again recently for its ability to spread rapidly when people live and eat in close proximity. This is because norovirus can be contracted from common touch surfaces. These surfaces include those in shared bathroom facilities and door handles.
Norovirus is responsible for almost half of reported foodborne illness outbreaks in the US between 2006-2010 (CDC). It can be spread easily at shared dining facilities, like those on a cruise ship, a cafeteria, a restaurant, or a dormitory. Individuals with norovirus symptoms should not prepare food for others, even at home.
Does Your Doctor Cook?
March 19, 2013
A recent study indicates that healthcare providers that cook themselves are better at giving nutrition-related advice and maybe be more likely to think nutrition is important. Does your doctor cook?
Budget Cuts May Cut Food Safety Inspectors
February 14, 2013
Widespread budget-cuts are planned for March 1, 2013 as part of federal government "sequestration". These actions are expected to impact the ability of the FDA and USDA to provide timely food safety inspections. Food safety inspections are (and will still be) required of food production facilities and this could have a significant impact on consumer prices.
Read more: White House Warns of Food Safety Cuts
Suspected Listeria Contamination Prompts Recall of Fully Cooked Meats
February 11, 2013
Listeria bacteria cause listeriosis, a rare food poisoning disease that can be fatal. Pregnant women, especially, should avoid foods that are more likely to be infected with listerosis, because of the disease's ability to move across the placenta and manifest as meningitis. Older adults and individuals with weakened immunity are also at greater risk for infection from contaminated foods.
Foods recently linked to Listeria contamination include:
- ready-to-eat meats: deli meat, hot dogs
- select raw fruits (i.e. cantaloupes)
- unpasteurized milk
- soft cheeses
US Commodity Food Safety Concerns Highest for Poultry and Produce
February 10, 2013
Food commodities are agricultural products that the US government supports through subsidization and distribution. Tracking safety of food commodity products is important because some segments of the population consume them regularly. For example, food commodities are central to the National School Lunch Program.
A recent study reviewed data of food-related illnesses (1998-2008) connected to food commodities. This data suggests that of the outbreaks connected to food commodities, almost half of these food-related illnesses are connected to produce. The same analysis of outbreaks suggested that contaminated poultry caused the most deaths in that time period.
In an interview reported by the NY Times, the co-author of the study reported noted that on a per-meal basis, the risk of food illness from produce is low.Read more: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/19/3/11-1866_article.htm
Best Practices in Lettuce Handling May Not Be Enough
January 17, 2013
An E. coli outbreak in Canada has be traced - using genetic fingerprinting - to a California grower of salad greens. This E. coli strain, O1H57: H7, can cause food poisoning that includes acute hemorrhagic diarrhea. In the developed world, this strain is most likely to be acquired from eating contaminated ready-to-eat foods, including fresh produce, or eating undercooked meats.
The grower participates in a program of strict food handling guidelines, above and beyond mandatory practices. Other growers in the program, termed Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA), are very interested to know how this outbreak could have occurred despite the implementation of best practices.
Salmonella Bacteria Prompt Peanut Product Recall
November 5, 2012
Contamination of ready-to-eat foods is most likely to occur during food processing or food handling and is a primary reason for food safety regulations. For example, ready-to-eat foods contaminated with Salmonella bacteria can cause salmonellosis. In some individuals, Salmonella infection can cause severe conditions if symptoms do not clear within 4-7 days. For most individuals, this type of food poisoning can cause:
- gastrointestinal distress
FDA Recall of Peanut Products by Sunland, Inc.
Trail Mix Recall
October 29, 2012
Food manufacturers are required to share information about their ingredients with customers via product labels. Regulated allergens include wheat, soybean, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. These ingredients must be declared for safety reasons because these eight ingredients are the most common foods to cause allergies.
Select bulk trail mixes sold by Tropical Valley Foods have been recalled for not declaring one or more of the following allergens on their labels: soybean, peanuts, and tree nuts.
Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Update
October 27, 2012
Meningitis is an infection of brain and spinal cord membranes. Its symptoms and consequences can be severe. Viral and bacterial meningitis are the more common forms of the disease. Symptoms may include severe headache and a stiff neck, paired with nausea and sensitivity to light and can develop rapidly.
Fungal Meningitis is rare and symptoms progress more slowly after infection (up to 42 days).
A drug production facility in Framingham, Massachusetts (New England Compounding Center) appears to be linked to a large, multi-state outbreak of this more rare form of Meningitis. This facility may have mistakenly released potentially contaminated vials of a steroid painkiller injection (methylprednisone acetate) to clinics in at least 18 states. The facility recalled the drug and all its other products created since January 2012. To date, over 300 cases and 25 deaths in 18 states have been reported.
The CDC reports that two black mold species (Exserohilum rostratum & Aspergillus sp.) are the primary potential pathogens in this outbreak.
November 23, 2010
Orval Kent announced a voluntary recall of 23 products because of potential contamination with Salmonella. The products contain fresh cilantro distributed by EpicVeg, In of California. Consumers who have purchased the items listed at the link below should not eat the product and instead return it to the store for a full refund.
Salmonella is a foodborne pathogen. Symptoms of illness include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever and typically last between three and five days. Contact a physician if symptoms arise.
September 28, 2010
On August 13, 2010, a voluntary recall was issued of eggs shipped since May 19, 2010. The eggs were produced by Wright County Egg, in Galt, Iowa. Eggs were shipped to 22 states and to Mexico. On August 19th, 2010, Hillendale Farms also of Iowa, issued an additional recall of eggs distributed to wholesalers and retailers in 14 states.
Consumption of the recalled eggs may lead to salmonella, a food-borne illness. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps that begin 12 to 72 hours after consumption of the recalled eggs. The illness may last up to a week. Those with compromised immune systems such as babies or the elderly may experience a severe reaction to salmonella. Contact a health professional if symptoms arise. The Centers for Disease Control has a detailed report on the salmonella outbreak.
A complete list of recalled brands can be found here. Any eggs that are involved in the recall should be discarded immediately. This includes any products that may have been cooked or baked with the recalled eggs.
For more information, visit the FDA website.
September 28, 2010
Hurricane season is in full force. Coupled with the fast approaching winter months, it is never too early to be prepared. Natural disasters can strike at any time. Be sure to read over our brochures on "Disaster Planning for Households" and "Cleaning Up After a Flood". Follow the link below and scroll down to Emergency and Disaster Planning.
Alfalfa Sprouts Recall
May 25, 2010
This recall affects raw alfalfa sprouts. Caldwell Fresh Foods issued a voluntary recall of all its alfalfa sprouts under the name Caldwell Fresh Foods, Nature's Choice and California Exotics brands. The sprouts have been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections across the United States. As of May 20th, 22 people have been infected in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin. The sprouts were sold to Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's and various restaurants across the country. The sprouts should be returned to the retailer for a refund and proper disposal.
Symptoms of salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Contact a health professional if symptoms arise.
For more information visit the FDA website.
Dangers of Microwaving Water
May 17, 2010
An email chain has been circulating recently regarding the dangers of microwaving water. The FDA confirms this danger and refers to it as "erupted hot water phenomena." Reports include serious burns to hands and face stemming from over-heated water in a microwave oven.
Heating water past its boiling point is dangerous because the water does not appear to be boiling. Any disruption to this super-heated water, such as moving the cup or adding to the water may cause an explosion of water. Typically, this takes place if water is warmed in a clean cup.
You can avoid the problem by limiting the heating time of water or liquids in the microwave. The FDA recommends determining the necessary amount of time to heat water to a desired temperature and using the same time period consistently. In addition, always use a microwave safe cup.
The FDA has extensive information regarding this phenomenon.
For more information:
May 7, 2010
Freshway Foods announced a voluntary recall of certain bagged romaine lettuce products because of a connection between the lettuce and foodborne disease. The outbreak involves E. coli O145, a harmful bacteria and has been reported in Michigan, Ohio and New York. The recalled lettuce has a "best if used by" date of May 12 or earlier. Anyone possessing a bagged lettuce from Freshway Foods with the above "best by" date to throw them out or refrain from usage.
The shredded lettuce was sold to food service outlets, wholesalers, in-store salad bars and delis in several states including Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Sourth Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Symptoms of E. coli infection range from mild diarrhea to severe health complications. The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control urge anyone with symptoms to contact a health care provider immediately.
For more information:
The Food and Drug Administration
Centers for Disease Control
National Children's Dental Health Month
February 4, 2010
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. According to the NIDCR (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a branch of the National Institutes of Health), "dental caries (tooth decay) remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, even though it is largely preventable."
National statistics compiled through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 through 2004 showed some improvement in the oral health of the American population. However, young children were found to have more tooth decay than in previous studies. The NHANES showed that 42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary (baby) teeth, and 23% of children 2 to 11 have untreated dental caries. Tooth decay can start as soon as teeth appear in a baby's mouth.
National Children's Dental Health Month is a campaign to promote good tooth and gum care among children, including brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. For more information on this campaign and on proper dental care for children, visit:
- The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/EducationalResources/
- The American Dental Association's National Children's Dental Health Month website: http://www.ada.org/prof/events/featured/ncdhm.asp
Haiti: Help and Communication Resources
January 22, 2010
The earthquake in Haiti has created catastrophic living conditions for the local population. Many Americans have relatives or friends in Haiti and are worried for their lives; even those of us without acquaintances in Haiti may be wondering what we can do to help.
The most important first step in trying to help Haiti is to use safe and reliable aid agencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) has created web pages with links to recommended donation groups. Two of the aid agency links are:
- The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund: ClintonBushHaitiFund.org
- www.usaid.gov/helphaiti: this site has information on volunteering for Haiti as well as donating money and goods
You can also donate to the American Red Cross at: www.redcross.org
The CDC website also contains several links to the U.S. State Department to help locate U.S. citizens, family members, or friends in Haiti. Follow the 'Help for Haiti: Learn What You Can Do' icon after clicking on the CDC's 'Earthquake in Haiti' link.
Concerns Raised Over School Lunch Food Safety
January 5, 2010
Last month USA Today produced a series of investigative reports about the safety of the food served in school lunch programs. The reporters were particularly concerned about the quality of the meat (including beef and poultry) shipped to schools. Some of the issues raised by the reporters include:
- Beef Packers, Inc., a major beef supplier to the school lunch program, was involved in a salmonella meat contamination recall in the Summer of 2009, but did not recall the beef produced for schools during that time period.
- Beef sent to the school lunch program undergoes less frequent testing for contamination than beef used in fast-food restaurants.
- Beef bought for the school lunch program can legally contain 10 times the concentration of E. coli bacterium (the organism considered an indicator of whether potential contaminants from the intestines of cattle have gotten into slaughtered meat) which is acceptable to fast-food chains like Jack in the Box®.
- Poultry bought for the school lunch program can include "spent hens", birds that are past their egg-laying prime and are not accepted by companies such as Kentucky Fried Chicken® or the Campbell Soup Company®.
Many schools receive beef and poultry directly through the U.S Department of Agriculture's commodities program, and therefore rely on the government to set appropriate food safety standards and provide them with safe meat products. The government will be revising the school lunch program in 2010, and the USA Today articles have challenged the USDA and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to strengthen their regulation of food providers for the nation's public schools.
Read an editorial about the USA Today investigations from the Boston Globe from January 3, 2010: www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2010/01/03/school_food_serving_up_salmonella_and_e_coli/.
New Food Safety Website
November 28, 2009
The U.S. government has launched a new website about food safety for the public. The site is a cooperative project of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The site features: food recall alerts, food safety educational materials, state agency directories, compliance information, contact information for questions or to report a problem, and more.
The site can be found at: www.foodsafety.gov/
H1N1 Swine Influenza (Flu)
January 13, 2010
January 10 through the 16th is National Influenza Vaccination Week. The H1N1 flu vaccine is now widely available, and government officials and the Centers for Disease Control are urging EVERYONE to get vaccinated. Though the number of flu cases reported has decreased, flu season extends until the month of May, and it's not too late to protect yourself. Most of the flu viruses causing illness are identified as being H1N1 (swine) influenza A, and a third wave of widespread illness can still occur. Furthermore the seasonal flu vaccine administered for fall/winter 2009 will not protect against novel H1N1 influenza.
Young people, pregnant women, and people with asthma or chronic conditions are experiencing the most severe illness; and pediatric deaths from H1N1 have been very high. The current H1N1 virus is susceptible to the H1N1 immunization as well as the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanimivir.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (www.avma.org) reports that there have now been several H1N1 influenza cases in pets, both in the U.S. and abroad. Most cases involved ferrets, cats, and other felines who were infected by humans carrying H1N1; one dog in the U.S. was also confirmed to have contracted H1N1 from the owner. There is no approved H1N1 flu vaccine for animals. To date there have been no reported cases of animals infecting humans. Consult your veterinarian regarding signs and symptoms to look for, and practice proper hygiene to avoid infecting your pet if you are ill. Seek medical attention for any concerning illness in your pet; do not give human medication to an animal.
Where can you get your H1N1 immunization?
Each state decides who will administer the H1N1 vaccine: public health clinics, schools, hospitals, or private physicians. To find where to go for your H1N1 vaccine, you can:
- Check the website www.flu.gov and click on your state
- Or, call your physician's office; they should know what your state's policy on immunization will be
Important points about the H1N1 immunization:
- People with egg allergies should consult with their physician before receiving the H1N1 immunization the vaccine may trigger an allergic reaction
- People who had influenza-like illness since the Spring of 2009 can receive the H1N1 immunization, even if they may have had H1N1 flu illness. Check with your physician
- Children under the age of 10 are recommended to have 2 doses of H1N1 vaccine in addition to a seasonal flu shot. If they have never received a seasonal flu shot, then they will need 2 doses of seasonal flu vaccine. Check with your pediatrician
- Children younger than 6 months cannot receive the seasonal or H1N1 flu vaccine
- If you need both the seasonal and H1N1 flu shots, you can have them at the same time in the following combinations:
- inactivated seasonal + inactivated H1N1
- inactivated seasonal + live attenuated H1N1
- live attenuated seasonal + inactivated H1N1
Chart Comparing Cold, Seasonal Flu, and H1N1 Symptoms:
Download the chart Cold, Seasonal Flu, Or H1N1?
An informative Question and Answer web page about H1N1 and its vaccine can be found:
What You Can Do to Stay Healthy
There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school until you are fever-free for 24 hours; also, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
The CDC recommendations for and information about H1N1 vaccine is likely to change. For the latest updates, visit :http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
World Health Organization (WHO) Disease Outbreak News: http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/
Guidelines on Cleaning to Reduce the Risk of Transmission of H1N1 Flu for Cleaning, Janitorial, and Maintenance Staff
August 9, 2009
The H1N1 (swine) flu is a new variant of influenza type A that appeared in Mexico in the Spring of 2009 and quickly spread across the world. Most people do not have immunity to this flu virus, and it can be transmitted from person to person. Cleaning, janitorial, and maintenance staff are on the front line in reducing the spread of H1N1, especially since it will likely remain a threat during the Fall-Winter influenza season. To learn about the current cleaning guidelines for H1N1, download the document: Professional Cleaning for H1N1.
Congress Considering Food Safety Bill
June 13, 2009
In the last few years, the US has suffered a number of recalls and outbreaks of foodborne illness from contaminated food products. New legislation to improve the safety of food was introduced in congress on June 8, 2009. Named the Food Safety Enhancement Act, the bill would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and aims to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority to oversee food safety. Some of the bill's stipulations include:
Requiring more frequent inspections of food processing facilities by the FDA. (Currently some plants may only be inspected every 10 years.)
Requiring food companies to develop and manage food safety programs.
Giving the FDA the authority to order companies to recall potentially contaminated food.
The FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg has testified to congress in support of the Food Safety Enhancement Act. Read her comments online at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Testimony/ucm164186.htm.
The Food Safety Enhancement Act can be viewed in its entirety at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111congbills&docid=f:h759ih.txt.pdf . This may not be the final version of the bill, since amendments are frequently added by legislators.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is following the course of this bill through congress closely and can assist consumers in contacting their congressperson. Visit the CSPI website at: http://www.cspinet.org, click on the June 3, 2009 article, and find the Safe Food Coalition icon.
Peanut-Containing Product Recall
June 12, 2009
Recall of Peanut-Containing Products
February 4, 2009
A combination of epidemiological analysis and laboratory testing by state officials in Minnesota and Connecticut, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have enabled FDA to confirm that the sources of the outbreak of illnesses caused by Salmonella Typhimurium are peanut butter and peanut paste produced by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its Blakely, Georgia processing plant.
Peanut butter is sold by PCA in bulk containers ranging in size from five (5) to 1,700 pounds. The peanut paste is sold in sizes ranging from 35-pound containers to product sold by the tanker container. Neither of these products is sold directly to consumers. However, through its investigation, FDA has determined that PCA distributed potentially contaminated product to more than 100 consignee firms, for use as an ingredient in hundreds of different products, such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream. FDA initiated an inspection of PCA's Blakely plant on January 9 shortly after learning that this firm might be linked to the ongoing Salmonella outbreak. FDA finished its inspection on January 27. A list of problems observed by FDA investigators during their inspection is available at this link: http://www.fda.gov/ora/frequent/default.htm. This list is not a final agency determination regarding compliance. The deficiencies observed indicate that the plant was not compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Practices required by the FDA. These deficiencies are related to cleaning programs and procedures as well as failure to implement steps to mitigate Salmonella contamination in the facility.
On January 28, PCA issued an expanded voluntary recall of all peanuts and peanut products processed in its Blakely, Georgia facility since January 1, 2007. The expanded recall includes all peanuts (dry and oil roasted), granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut butter and peanut paste. All of the recalled peanuts and peanut products were made only at the company's Blakely, Georgia facility.
On January 30, FDA confirmed that FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations is involved in a Justice Department investigation of PCA.
FDA has been working with the company and purchasers of PCA's peanut butter and peanut paste to identify affected products and facilitate their removal from the market. FDA and state officials have visited in excess of 1,000 firms who purchased PCA products. Now, the same type of work is continuing and includes the additional products in the expanded recall.
Companies nationwide that received product made by PCA have issued voluntary recalls of their products. As FDA gathers additional information about these products, the list of recalled products is expected to expand. FDA has created a searchable database for these products, which can be found at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm.
Product recalls include some pet food products that contain peanut paste that was made by PCA. While the risk of animals contracting salmonellosis is minimal, there is risk to humans from handling these products. It is important for people to wash their hands—and make sure children wash their hands—before and, especially, after feeding treats to pets. Further information for consumers is located in the Frequently Asked Questions section located on this web site. The pet food products are also included in the searchable data base of recalled products.
Major national brands of jarred peanut butter found in grocery stores are not affected by the PCA recall.
FDA and CDC recommendations for consumers include:
Consumers are urged to check FDA's web site to determine which products have been recalled and will be recalled in the coming days.
Any product that is on the recall list should be disposed of in a safe manner. Consumers are also urged to wash their hands after handling potentially contaminated products.
If consumers are unsure whether a peanut-containing product is potentially contaminated, they should avoid consuming it or feeding it to their pet until they obtain more information regarding the product.
Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut products are advised to consult their health care providers.
Stop selling recalled products.
For Directors of Institutions and Food Service Establishments
Ensure that they are not serving recalled products.
Inform consumers about whether their products could contain peanuts or peanut products from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). If a manufacturer knows its products do not contain peanuts or peanut products from PCA, it may wish to provide this information to consumers. For specific guidance: Guidance for Industry: Product Recalls, Including Removals and Corrections
The FDA will closely monitor these events by continuing to work with the firms on the details of their actions, conducting follow-up audits and inspections, monitoring the progress of the firms' actions, working with state and local regulatory authorities, and notifying our foreign regulatory counterparts of products that have now been confirmed as having been distributed internationally.
FDA has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials in various states to investigate the multi-state outbreak of human infections due to Salmonella Typhimurium. An epidemiological investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health isolated and tested subsamples from an open five-pound container of King Nut peanut butter obtained at a nursing home where three patients were sickened by the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium. The Minnesota Health officials found the peanut butter contained the same strain of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with the illnesses linked to the outbreak.
Because it is always possible that the open container was contaminated by someone or something else in the environment, the FDA and the states began testing unopened containers of the same brand of peanut butter. King Nut distributes peanut butter manufactured by the PCA to institutional facilities, food service industries, and private label food companies in several states.
On January 19, 2009, testing by the Connecticut Department of Health of an unopened container of King Nut peanut butter showed that it too contained the same strain of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with illnesses linked to the outbreak. The fact that the Salmonella Typhimurium was confirmed in an unopened container of peanut butter indicates that peanut butter originating from the processing plant was contaminated. FDA has initiated inspections at the direct consignees of PCA and King Nut and continues to follow the distribution points for products.
The FDA has no evidence to suggest that the Salmonella Typhimurium contamination originated with any manufacturing facility other than PCA. The PCA facility in Blakely, Georgia is not operating at this time and the company has recalled all peanuts and peanut products produced there from January 1, 2007, to the present.
The FDA and food manufacturers are working to identify products that may be affected, and to track the ingredient supply chain of those products to facilitate their removal from the marketplace.
- What to make of all the food scares and still keep eating safely!
- Melamine-Contamination Event, China
- USDA Consumer Alert: Keeping Food Safe During An Emergency
- Study found prepackaged spinach advertised as "Ready-to-eat" is actually misleading
- Norovirus Infection in Home and Community Settings
- It's Not Easy Being Green
On This Page
- Voluntary Recall of Chobani Greek Yogurt Products
- FDA weighs in on "Gluten-Free" & "No Gluten" labeling
- Hepatitis A Outbreak in Europe: Imported Berries
- Food Safety at Farmers' Markets
- Suspected Contamination of Injectable Steriod Prompts Recall
- Gut-Brain Connection: What Role Do Microbes Play?
- Frozen Berries Suspected in Hepatitis A Outbreak
- How Hygienic Is Your Handbag?
- Most Food Recalls Are Now Multiple Product Recalls
- Oral Microbes from Mom and Dad - Friend or Foe?
- Family Dining: How Nutritious Is Their "Kid's Menu"?
- Antibiotics in Agriculture
- Norovirus Sickens Cruise Ship Passengers
- Does Your Doctor Cook?
- Budget Cuts May Cut Food Safety Inspectors
- Suspected Listeria Contamination Prompts Recall of Fully Cooked Meats
- US Commodity Food Safety Concerns Highest for Poultry and Produce
- Best Practices in Lettuce Handling May Not Be Enough
- Salmonella Bacteria Prompt Peanut Product Recall
- Trail Mix Recall
- Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Update
- Cilantro Recall
- Egg Recall
- Disaster Preparation
- Alfalfa Sprouts Recall
- Dangers of Microwaving Water
- Lettuce Recall
- National Children's Dental Health Month
- Haiti: Help and Communication Resources
- Concerns Raised Over School Lunch Food Safety
- New Food Safety Website
- H1N1 Swine Influenza (Flu)
- Guidelines on Cleaning to Reduce the Risk of Transmission of H1N1 Flu for Cleaning, Janitorial, and Maintenance Staff
- Congress Considering Food Safety Bill
- Peanut-Containing Product Recall
- Recall of Peanut-Containing Products