San Diego County Fair Outbreak Source Remains Elusive

By  on August 2, 2019

The June outbreak that took the life of a 2-year old boy and infected nearly a dozen other children with E. coli O157: H7 likely occurred from exposure to the bacteria at the San Diego County Fair.

But county health officials say none of their 32 environmental samples turned up an exact source at the fairgrounds. Petting zoo, pony rides, and cattle areas were all suspected, but no positive results came back.

“Even though we have not found a specific animal that we can say the outbreak came from,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, “we have known that the cases all were people who went to the fair and had animal exposure in the livestock barn area.”

Many animals were removed from the livestock barn before the environmental samples were collected. Competition at the fair requires weekly rotating of the animals kept in the livestock barn.

The environmental sampling that did occur included soils and the walls and pens of all livestock enclosures, including the fair’s “California Grown” exhibit, which included animal displays.

Three families filed claims against the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which runs the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Claims precede filing a lawsuit against a governmental unit in California.

Two-year Jedidiah King Cabezuela died on June 24 after attending the fair on June 15 and becoming infected with E. coli O157: H7. His family and the families of 6-year old Ryan Sadrabadi and 2-year old Christiano Lopez filed claims for injuries exceeding $10,000 each. The other two boys, who survived their bouts with the Shiga toxin-producing infections.

In their claims, the families charge the fair board could have done more to prevent the outbreak. They say more aggressive warnings were required. They say the condition of the fairgrounds was “dangerous.”
And the board’s hand-washing stands and stations were inadequate.

The families claim children were at a “substantial risk” of contracting E. coli by merely walking near or through any of the animal exhibits. Shoes and clothes worn in the area were then at risk of contamination with “dangerous pathogens.”

Brashears Promises Data, Science And Food Safety Modernization At Fsis

GALVESTON, TX — The $2 billion hog market slaughter industry will get more flexibility, and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will have greater inspection oversight.   Mindy Brashears, the USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety, says the long-awaited swine modernization program is going be reality by year’s end.

Brashears, still new to the job, is quickly coming up to speed.  “No one can really tell you about this job,” she says, “until you get in and start doing it.”   She started six months ago and has become the chief advocate for the next rounds of FSIS modernization.

Past changes, like after the E. coli crisis, put FSIS in the reactive mode, she said.  “I look at modernization as the way to prevent the next crisis,” she added.

And in her search of her new place of employment Brashears found something that could only excite a former professor — data. Or, as she calls it, “the data that’s just sitting here.” She acknowledges that FSIS is not a research science organization, but finds its data collection going back two decades or more based on “our protocols, our labs” is value that can be put work to help achieve the agency’s new goals.  She may, in fact, put the critics back on their heels by promoting modernization by the numbers.

Multiple Multistate Salmonella / Multiple Serotypes Due To Backyard Flocks
The July report for backyard poultry was bleak for the adults and children who care for them.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports that since June 13 it added 489 patients and eight states to the Salmonella outbreaks associated with backyard chicken flocks.

With the July totals added in, the backyard poultry flocks are responsible for multiple national outbreaks totaling 768 confirmed Salmonella cases across 48 of the 50 states. CDC also reports the ongoing continuing outbreaks are responsible for two deaths and have seen at least 122 people admitted to hospitals. Texas and Ohio each recorded one death associated with the outbreak.

CDC added five additional bugs to the list of involved pathogens. The Salmonella serotypes involved include Agona, Alachua, Anatum, Braenderup, Enteritidis, Infantis, Manhattan, Montevideo, Muenchen, Newport, and Oranienburg.

6/13/2019 - The number of people confirmed with Salmonella infections from backyard poultry flocks has increased more than 400 percent since May 10, with a third of the sick people younger than 5 years old.  

In an update this afternoon, the CDC reported that as of June 7 there were 279 people across 41 states who have been infected. In a previous update posted May 16, the agency said that as of May 10 it had received reports on a total of 52 people across 21 states who had been sickened in multiple multistate outbreaks this year.

Of the 152 patients for whom the information is available, more than a fourth had to be admitted to hospitals because their symptoms were so severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No confirmed deaths have been reported. 


(CNN)  Its safe to say 183 tons is a lot of crab meat. It's certainly a lot of crabmeat to import from other countries and repackage as US-raised blue crab. 

The vice president of a Virginia seafood company pleaded guilty in federal court this week to taking part in this weighty scam. According to a release from the Department of Justice, Michael P. Casey of Casey's Seafood admitted to conspiring with others within the company to falsely label imported crab meat and re-sell it to grocery stores and retailers. 

All in all, the crabmeat involved in the five-year-long bait-and-switch amounted to a wholesale value of $4.3 million. 

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the scam violated the Lacey Act, which prohibits the import, export or sale of fish plants or wildlife that have been possessed or acquired in ways that violated state or federal law. It also violated the trust of the local seafood industry. 

"This fraud causes real financial harm to the fragile maritime economies here in the region, and threatens to tarnish the good name of the watermen and women who have worked this estuary for generations," Terwilliger said. 

The Justice Department noted a significant blue crab decline beginning in 2010, which Casey claimed in his plea deal made it harder for Casey Seafood to produce enough blue crab to meet demand. 

"As part of the guilty plea, Casey further admitted that beginning at least as early as 2010, and continuing through June 17, 2015, he was aware that company employees had been directed to unpack foreign crab meat from suppliers' containers, comingle it with domestic blue crab and other types of crab, and re-pack that crab meat into Casey's Seafood containers, all of which were labeled 'Product of USA,'" the release reads. 

Michael P. Casey is the second person at the seafood company to plead guilty to the scam. James R. Casey the founder of Casey's Seafood Inc and Michael P. Casey's father, was sentenced to three years in prison in January for his part in the scam. 

FDA Uses Its Power To Suspend Food Facility Registration For Sixth Time

Top way Enterprises Inc, doing business as Kazy’s Gourmet in Houston, has lost the federal registration required to sell or distribute food.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Tuesday announced it suspended Top way’s food facility registration. The federal agency took action after FDA, and the Texas Department of State Health Services discovered Listeria and pathogenic Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) inside the Topway facility.   Discard any Topway seafood shipped to restaurants and retailers, advises the safety alert.

Afterward, the agency left Topway with the FDA Form 483 for inspectional observations. It documented unsanitary conditions and the problems included:

Researchers Find Animals In Salad Discoveries Not As Rare As Believed
Most reports of animals being found in fresh produce involved frogs, according to a University of Illinois study.  More than 50 percent of 40 incidents involved frogs, but lizards, snakes, mice, birds, and a bat, were discovered in salad greens, green beans, or mixed vegetables. Ten of these – nine frogs and one lizard – were alive.

Researchers reviewed online media coverage of wild vertebrates found in prepackaged produce by customers in the United States. They discovered 40 incidents 95 percent occurring during 2008 to 2018, suggesting their frequency may have increased in the last decade.

At least seven incidents involved Pacific Treefrogs and for three it was Green Anoles. At least two frogs were released into non-native areas. Six rodents and three birds were also reported.

Most reports involved amphibians (52.5 percent) and reptiles (22.5 percent), while fewer contained mammals (17.5 percent) and birds (7.5 percent), according to the study published in Science of the Total Environment journal.

“There’s a big food safety concern about any wildlife that gets into fields where fresh produce is grown, leading to various control measures, sometimes even drastic tactics,” said Daniel Hughes, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois and lead author.

Incidents were reported from 20 states and eight had at least two issues. Texas and Florida recorded the most with five each and California and New York had four each.

Rabies risk as bat found in salad

In April 2017, a dead bat was found in packaged salad from a grocery store in Florida. Fresh Express recalled some cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix distributed to certain Walmart stores.

The CDC recommended post-exposure rabies treatment for two people. The virus wasn’t detected in remains of the animal found in the bagged salad.

“You’d have to spend minutes checking each plant. Romaine, for example, is lettuce folded on lettuce, where it’s easy for moisture-seeking frogs to hide. From a business perspective, can you really spend minutes to check each leaf?”

NY Officials Investigating Cyclospora Outbreak 

For a month now people in New York have been testing positive for parasitic infections that health officials say appear to have a foodborne vector.  There are currently 11 laboratory-confirmed patients infected with the Cyclospora parasite, according to an alert from the New York State Department of Health. At least three specific foodservice providers have been reported by some of the patients. 

“Several of the cases interviewed report they dined at the following establishments: The Italian American Community Center in Albany; A buffet during a private graduation event at Union College in Schenectady; Prime Life Restaurant at Beltrone Senior Living Community Center in Colonie,” according to the state health department.

Plastic spurs recall of pork, beef products from restaurants

Following a consumer complaint about plastic in the food, a Minnesota company issued a recall for Popeyes pork tasso and ground been gravy. The frozen, ready-to-eat pork and beef gravy were produced on May 2. They have a best-by date of May 2, 2020. Fairmont Foods Inc. of Fairmont, MN, included more than 35,000 pounds… 

E.COLI animals and County Fairs 

Toddler dies from E. coli infection after visit to petting zoo at county fair.  A 2-year-old is dead and three other children aged 2 to 13 are sick after visiting a San Diego County Fair petting zoo.  According to the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), the children were infected with a Shiga-toxin causing E. coli  bacteria, or STEC, from contact with farm animals at the fair. HHSA... 

San Diego County’s environmental health inspectors have collected samples from individual animals who were at the fair along with swabs of the surrounding environment. The county sent the samples to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for testing and analysis.

The CDC will be able to create and compare genetic fingerprints to STEC bacteria from ill children. The San Diego Fair plans on waiting for the CDC findings before making any permanent changes in its animal contact policies.

The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians has recommendations for operators of those events on how to protect children who make contact with animals. Just as the veterinarians don’t call for eliminating all animal contact, it’s unlikely petting zoos and animal contact will be put off limits because of San Diego. 

Let kids have fun, a few deaths don’t seem to count, are they out of their frickin minds?

Even the next door Orange County Fair, which begins July 12, is not banning animal contact opportunities because of what happened in San Diego. It does plan more oversight and more hand-washing options. The Sacramento-based Western Fairs Association is calling the tragedy to its members attention.


In a note to its “Members and Friends,” the Western Fairs Association described a “communication piece” that is in the works:  “Western Fairs Association Members and Friends – in light of the situation that took place with the San Diego County Fair and their patrons, Western Fairs Association has spent several days gathering information to communicate to you, our members.  Can you spell lawsuits

Antibiotic resistance complicates treatment of people infected in pig ear outbreak

By Dan Flynn on Jul 04, 2019 12:06 am A suspected link between pig ear treats and 45 human cases of salmonellosis is being investigated by federal and state officials, the U.S Food and Drug Administration announced today. The FDA said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found salmonellosis in 45 patients from 13 states that is from Salmonella enterica serotype

Pig ear dog treats are the suspected source of a multidrug-resistant, multistate Salmonella outbreak among humans, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports that whole-genome sequencing analysis of Salmonella isolates from 30 of the 45 outbreak victims predicted antibiotic resistance or decreased susceptibility to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, nalidixic... 

E. coli from beef to romaine: Can the past be the prelude?

Gary M. Weber, president of G.M. Weber Consulting LLC, submitted this column for original publication in Food Safety News. Numerous E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to Romaine lettuce have been a tragedy for both consumers and the leafy greens industry. The leafy greens industry is aggressively addressing approaches to prevent future outbreaks.... 

Sandwich firm involved in Listeria outbreak goes into liquidation

By News Desk on Jul 02, 2019 12:02 am The sandwich producer that has become infamous for it’s part in a Listeria outbreak that killed at least five people in England has gone into liquidation. The Good Food Chain had been told it could restart operations by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) this past week as it was no longer involved in the investigation. 

Green Giant, Trader Joe’s, other brands of vegetable products recalled for Listeria

By News Desk on Jul 01, 2019 11:07 pm Saying state inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of an unspecified fresh vegetable product, Growers Express LLC launched a recall of Green Giant and other brands of products from various retailers in dozens of states. Self-described as “the primary licensed partner of Green Giant Fresh, the exclusive fresh produce arm of the iconic Green

Sprout, Tofu company warned 18 months after FDA inspectors found bugs, rodents, Listeria in Chicago

By News Desk on Jul 01, 2019 12:04 am The FDA issued a warning letter in recent days regarding an inspection 18 months ago at a sprout and tofu facility where federal officials found live rodents and cockroaches, as well as Listeria bacteria.  In the letter, regional officials with the Food and Drug Administration told Steven Seeto that his company Fortune Food Product Inc.... 

CDC Warns Against Papayas From Mexico 
More than 60 people are confirmed sick with Salmonella infections in a multi-state outbreak linked to fresh papayas from Mexico, according to a public alert issued this afternoon.

Consumers should check their homes for papayas imported from Mexico and dispose of them. Anyone who has fresh papayas of unknown origin should error in the side of caution and also throw away the fruit.

“Throw the papayas away, even if some of them were eaten and no one has gotten sick. Do not eat fruit salads or other mixes that include papayas from Mexico,” the CDC’s alert says. “If you aren’t sure the papaya you bought is from Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don’t eat the papaya. Throw it out.”

Anyone who has had papayas from Mexico, including consumers, restaurants and other foodservice operations, should wash and sanitize places where papayas were stored: countertops and refrigerator drawers or shelves. 

Current outbreak details - Salmonella Uganda As of today, a total of 62 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Uganda have been reported from eight states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Jan. 14 to June 8. Most illnesses have occurred since April. Ill people range in age from 1 to 86 years old, with a median age of 60. Fifty-three percent of ill people are female. 

Comment now on safety proposed guidance for fresh sprouts
By Coral Beach on Jun 25, 2019 12:05 am Beginning today, the FDA is accepting comments on proposed guidance designed to improve the safety of fresh sprouts, which have been responsible for at least 50 outbreaks in the past two decades. The proposed guidance would apply to all entities in the food supply chain, from seed producers through distributors and on to those who... 

Recalls of frozen avocados from Safeway, Albertsons, for Listeria

Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods Inc. is voluntary recalling “Signature Select Avocado Chunks” with a best before date of Oct 11, 2020, after an inspection test revealed Listeria monocytogenes in the product.

The company initiated the recall “based on strict precautionary measures after the company was informed by the FDA that a routine sampling program found a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in one sample bag of the product,” according to the Nature’s Touch notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Study finds pathogen issues with ready-to-eat salad and sprouts

By News Desk on Jun 19, 2019 12:01 am A study by German researchers has raised concerns on the microbiological quality of ready-to-eat salad mixes and fresh sprouts. The three-year research project by the Max Rubner Institute also found the microbiological quality of cucumbers, carrots and mushrooms was good.  Mixed lettuce received a good to medium result and herbs were rated as medium. The… 

Diapers And Salmonella

County public health officials in Omaha, NE, have confirmed they are investigating a Salmonella outbreak at a daycare center, but they have not reported how many of the 100 children enrolled at the center are sick.

Health department spokesman Phil Rooney said it could be something as simple as employees not properly washing their hands after changing a child’s diaper and then handling or serving food.

The implicated Elite Childcare Academy location has closed until further notice for cleaning and employee training. The daycare center cannot reopen without permission from public health officials. 

The business operators sent a notice to parents and guardians of children enrolled at the daycare center asking that they complete a survey to help determine the source of the Salmonella.

Last Summer’s Outbreaks Turn Attention TO CYCLOSPORIASIS

It’s uncomfortable to talk about intestinal illness known as cyclosporiasis for many to think about because it’s caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. And as recently as the late 1990s, Americans did not have to worry about it unless they traveled abroad. The world, however, changed in 1996 when Guatemalan-grown imported raspberries gave the Clyclospora parasites the ride they needed to cause a first of its kind cyclosporiasis outbreak across both the United States and Canada.

That first North American cyclosporiasis outbreak in 1996 “was an early warning to public health officials and produce industry that the international sourcing of produce means that infectious agents once thought of as only causing traveler’s diarrhea could now infect at home.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did confirm 2,810 cyclosporiasis patients. That means there were likely thousands of additional people infected, but they were not verified.

Hometown Food Co… Recalls Pillsbury Flour  Multi-state E. coli outbreak
For the second time this year Hometown Food Co. is recalling some of its Pillsbury flour because of bacterial contamination. This time the pathogen is E. coli and the flour is from a mill linked to an outbreak.

The new recall includes more than 4,600 cases of Pillsbury “Best Bread” flour. Hometown Food shipped the implicated flour to retailers and distributors in 10 states. Federal officials are urging consumers to check their homes for the recalled flour, according to an outbreak update posted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Hometown Food initiated the recall amidst an eight-state outbreak of E. coli O26. there are at least 17 people confirmed sick, according to an update this weekend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three of the patients have required hospitalization. As of June 15, no illnesses had been confirmed in connection to Pillsbury flour

ADM Milling Co. manufactured the recalled Pillsbury flour at a mill in Buffalo, NY. The same plant was used to make Baker’s Corner brand flour that has been linked to the E. coli outbreak. ADM produced and packaged the Baker’s Corner flour for Aldi.  Also King Arthur is the second brand of flour, following Aldi’s Baker’s Corner, to be recalled in less than a month because of E. coli contamination in flour from Archer Daniels Midland Co. King Arthur Flour Inc. distributed its recalled flour nationwide.

People in eight states have been confirmed with infections from E. coli O26, according to an update posted today by the Food and Drug Administration. Three of the 17 patients have required hospitalization. No illnesses had been directly linked to the King Arthur brand flour as of the posting of the recall today. 

Seventeen people are sick with E. coli infections and three have been hospitalized in an outbreak traced to flour recalled yesterday by the Aldi grocery chain.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has isolated the outbreak strain of E. coli O26 in an unopened bag of Baker’s Corner all-purpose flour. Aldi recalled some 5-pound bags of the flour this week after the state officials informed company officials about finding the pathogen. That was before federal officials announced the outbreak.The flour was produced and packaged for Aldi by ADM Milling Co., which is a subsidiary of the Archer Daniels Midland Co.

The flour may have been used to produce Aldi baking mixes. Some of the outbreak patients reported tasting raw batter made from such mixes in the days before becoming ill.  On an undisclosed date, the Rhode Island Department of Health collected and analyzed an unopened sample of the flour and determined it contained E. coli O26. The department issued a public warning Wednesday to consumers not to eat the flour.