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Crops and Flood Waters – Is The Food Safe?

The southern states have been slammed lately with one hurricane or tropical storm after another. It seems like we take a breath and there will be another one coming or stirring around in the ocean and we are waiting to see where it is going to strike. Crops and flood waters can be a concern, with E. coli and other issues.  

Hurricane Florence was a dodged bullet for us in Virginia. We didn’t get so lucky with Hurricane Michael. These floods bring so many concerns from the safety of drinking water to mold growing on literally everything. We are also left wondering about the safety of crops that are grown locally and in the other states that have been hit so hard. And as the rumors pour in, people are concerned if their food is safe.

Being a farmer is tough work; a job that I say I would love to have but it often comes with heartache when a storm comes through and you lose often years of hard work. The recent storms brought loss that will cost millions to get back, but also there are some things that only time can repair and with some aging farmers time is something that there just isn’t enough of. Social media accounts have been filled with photos of damaged farm lands including apple orchards with literally acres of apples laying on the ground often beaten and bruised beyond anything we would bring into our homes to consume. The pecan crops were heavily damaged in Georgia as well and many farmers were unable to harvest crops prior to the storms coming through because they were securing their own homes for the impending weather event.

The FDA has given us some thoughts about the storms and crops that have been hit with flood damage, but let us not forget that not only flooding damaged crops but winds wreaked havoc on them as well.

What Should Farmers Do?

Safety of food crops when flood waters contacted the edible portions of the crops

If the edible portion of a crop is exposed to flood waters, it is considered adulterated under section 402(a)(4) (21 U.S.C. 342(a)(4)) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and should not enter human food channels. There is no practical method of reconditioning the edible portion of a crop that will provide a reasonable assurance of human food safety. Therefore, the FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood damaged to avoid adulterating “clean” crops

Section A applies to ALL food crops, including:

  • Surface crops such as leafy greens, tomatoes, string beans, berries, and corn;
  • Underground crops, such as peanuts, potatoes, carrots, and garlic;
  • Crops with a hard outer skin or shell, such as watermelon and winter squash
  • Grains, nuts, corns, and similar products stored in bulk

For crops that were in or near flooded areas but where flood waters did NOT contact the edible portions of the crops, the growers should evaluate the safety of the crops for human consumption on a case-by-case basis for possible adulteration.  We encourage growers to work with state regulators and local FDA offices to assess their unique situations and to take into consideration all possible types and routes of contamination from flood waters in determining whether a particular crop is adulterated.

Factors to consider in terms of evaluation may include:

  • Assessment of flood waters
  • Flood waters may have been exposed to sewage, chemicals, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms or other contaminants..  In addition, there might have been localized catastrophes such as petroleum leak, chemical spills or other disasters due to flooding.   Therefore, knowledge of the sources of flood waters and any possible upstream contributors of human pathogens and/or chemical contaminants will help evaluate the likelihood of crop contamination by flood waters..
  • Type of crop and stage of growth
  • The likelihood of contamination may be low if:
    • The edible portion of the crop has developed after the flood water receded, or
    • The lowest edible portion of the crop was above the floodwaters level with minimum risk of contamination due to splashing;
    • and
    • The crop can be harvested without cross-contamination from nearby environment, including flooded soil and flooded portion of the crop.

FDA recommends that, depending on the results of the assessment described above, the growers consider testing any one or more contaminants, as needed, to determine the suitability for human food use.  Sampling should be representative of the crop being evaluated and testing appropriate for the specific crop and flood situation. FDA recommends that growers discuss their testing plans with state and local FDA regulators and technical specialists for case-specific evaluations.

These situations do not just end with current crops though. The land can be damaged as well and before planting the soil must be tested, too especially if the flood waters have not receded or if the land is very wet. Again time comes into play because the crops may not have time to grow and mature in time for a harvest. This happens locally with corn here in Virginia. Often a second planting is unable to happen because there is just not enough time.

Ensuring that crop foods affected by floodwaters are safe to eat is just another farming stress and for that I have to say that today and every single day we thank our farmers. Farmers are told to use a 30 feet buffer zone between contaminated and non-contaminated crops to keep them separated. Farmers are also urged to check their wells if they were under water and to have the water tested by a local extension office to ensure that the water that is often used for crops is safe to consume.

Our thoughts remain with everyone who has been affected by the recent storm events in the United States and beyond. These storms often leave a lifetime of devastation and memories behind and they take a lot of time and effort to clean up afterwards, especially in farming communities. The loss of crops and even most recently animals put a financial burden on everyone.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 19, 2018
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FDA Confirms Retailers in Cargill Beef Outbreak

   The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted consumers that a beef product recall was “officially over.” The beef product had been made, packaged and shipped from Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colorado.

     But consumers should still be checking their freezers for any Cargill Meat Solutions’ ground beef products packaged on June 21, 2018. The beef was sold in 3lb, 10lb, and 20lb chubs. The ground beef shipped from the Colorado Cargill plant marked as establishment number “EST.86R”.

USDA Food Safety Inspection Orders Class I Recall –

     This recalled beef product could contain Shiga toxin – producing E coli (determined to be Escherichia coli 026). On September 19, 2018 Cargill recalled over 132,000 pounds of ground beef products made from the chuck portion of cattle carcasses according to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS).

     The CDC alert stated, restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell recalled ground beef and all freezers and storage units need to be checked for remaining beef products that may have been over-looked.

Retailers Identified

The FSIS issued a statement this week that they believe the infected products were shipped nationwide to the following retailers:

  • Aldi Stores: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin
  • FoodMaxx Stores: California
  • Meijer: Nationwide
  • Pak N Save Stores: California
  • Safeway/Albertson’s: Nationwide
  • Sam’s Club: Nationwide
  • Target: Nationwide
  • Vons Stores: California

CDC Confirms 18 Cases of E. coli Nationwide –

     Eighteen cases of E. coli contaminated beef have sickened 18 people in four states – 15 reported cases in Florida and one case each in Colorado, Tennessee, and Massachusetts. One of the cases in Florida resulted in death.

    The CDC reported all those affected started experiencing symptoms between July 5, 2018 through July 25, 2018. Six people were hospitalized, and one hospitalized person developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

     Those 18 cases identified ages ranged from one-year to 75 years-old with a medium age of 16 of which sixty percent were male.

     Cargill officials released a statement also on September 20, 2018 concerning the September 19, 2018 recall. The Cargill statement asked consumers to understand how to identify and safely dispose of any questionable ground beef. The company said all contaminated beef product had been pulled from supermarket shelves, but consumers still could have beef products in their homes’ freezers.

     The CDC report also stated the E. coli diagnoses are detected through stool samples and the fact that antibiotics are not recommended for patients suspected to be suffering from E. coli infections. In E. coli cases ordering antibiotics for patients may increase their risk of developing the serious kidney failure – HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome).

Investigation of Beef Recall Uses DNA Fingerprinting –

     Health investigators from the CDC used the PulseNet system to identify E. coli specific to this outbreak strain of the bacteria. PulseNet is a national subtyping network using DNA fingerprinting of E. coli by food regulatory and public health agency laboratories managed by the CDC.

     These DNA fingerprints go into a national data base to aid in identifying possible outbreaks. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) adds more detail to the DNA fingerprint and allows for the CDC to find the common source of E. coli infections.

     Through this kind of epidemic reasoning, laboratory research and tracing back the steps of the patients affected, the CDC officials obtained enough evidence that indicated the ground beef from the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Colorado was the source.

     Fourteen patients were also interviewed about the food they had eaten and other things they had been exposed to in the week prior to when they became sick.  All fourteen patients reported eating ground beef purchased from grocery stores.

     Investigations by the USDA-FSIS were able to identify the Cargill Colorado plant as being the source of contamination.

     Further investigation cited left over ground beef from one Florida patient’s home was tested by the CDC using the WGS system. The WGS data proved the left-over ground beef had the same E. coli O26 strain and was genetically related to the E. coli O26 strain isolated from the affected patients.

     The Cargill statement told consumers the company was working with the USDA. And that Cargill uses every effort, both internally and externally, to ensure food safety at the processing plant in Fort Morgan and all the Cargill facilities.

Symptoms of E. coli  Are Mild to Severe to Deadly –

     Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) symptoms can differ in people. Those affected can experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhea containing blood, vomiting, and fever, which is usually less than 101˚F/38.5˚C.

     Sickened people normally get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections can be very mild and other cases can be very severe, even life-threatening.

     Most people with a STEC infection will start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking a food source contaminated with the E. coli bacteria, and some people have become sick up to 10 days after contact.

     The CDC recommends anyone who has diarrhea for more than 3 days along with fever, bloody stools, severe vomiting that doesn’t allow you to keep liquids down and very little urination should immediately contact a physician.

     People should also be aware that about 5 to 10% of people who have a STEC infection diagnosis can develop the possible life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

     The CDC warns HUS can develop about 7 days after the first symptoms appear and the diarrhea is subsiding. HUS symptoms include lessened regularity of urination, feeling extremely tired, and the loss of pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

     The danger for people with HUS, if they are not hospitalized and are recovering at home, is kidneys stop working and other serious health problems can begin to occur. Generally, people with HUS recover within a few weeks. But on a serious note, people have been known to suffer permanent damage to the body and can die from HUS.

By: Cindy Lockstone, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 29, 2018
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Walmart Blockchain and Romaine

What if we had a better way of tracking our food from farm to fork? One that allowed us to see, at the tap of a button, all the different stops that a particular item of food has passed through to get to where it is? I have three words: Walmart Blockchain and Romaine.

Walmart thinks that they might. They sent out a letter to their suppliers of leafy greens on September 24th announcing a bold new initiative: in partnership with IBM, they’re attempting to get their whole supply chain on board with the blockchain. The encrypted public ledger made famous by Bitcoin isn’t just about creating cryptocurrency markets that consume as much energy as Belgium; the blockchain can be used to create secure digital records for all sorts of things. Including lettuce.

Walmart and Blockchain

To understand why Walmart is jumping on the blocktrain (sorry), we need to think back to June of this year, when more than two hundred people fell ill with E. coli after eating tainted lettuce. Five lost their lives. It was the largest outbreak of the pathogenic bacteria in more than a decade, and it sent investigators scrambling to determine a starting point.

They didn’t have much luck. Traceback work led them not to a particular supermarket, distributor, or farm, but instead to a canal in Yuma, Arizona. They found a genetic match for the E. coli behind the outbreak in the canal, and they had the notion that the E. coli had been transferred to lettuce from the canal via irrigation. What they weren’t sure of was where the E. coli had gone, exactly – what farms it had or hadn’t ended up on.

A Warning, But No Recall: More Info Needed

So, the CDC and FDA ended up issuing a warning to consumers asking them to stay away from lettuce from Yuma, Arizona. It was a broad, non-specific measure, and it generated a lot of confusion. It’s not always so easy to tell where the lettuce was grown by picking it up and examining it at the supermarket. Consumers didn’t really have the information that they needed to make the informed choices necessary to avoid the outbreak, and struggled to figure out what lettuce was from Yuma. That was made all the more difficult by the fact that Yuma supports a billion dollar lettuce industry and is responsible for some 90% of leafy greens in the United States during the winter.

That brings us back to Walmart, and back to the blockchain. The hope is that blockchain technology will prevent situations like the Yuma lettuce confusion in the future. It’s a relatively simple idea: without blockchain tech, the process of verifying each step that lettuce passes through on its way from the farm to the fork is a patchwork one. Some places keep paper records; some of them have elaborate electronic databases. Not everyone is on the same page, and not everyone is recording the same information. If someone’s cutting corners at some point along the line, it’s relatively easy for them to do so, and it’s difficult for the other parties involved to figure out that there’s malfeasance going on.

The Process

The blockchain takes this patchwork of records-keeping processes and centralizes them in a single system. The different parties involved along the supply chain for the lettuce are connected by a decentralized digital network. The parties are constantly checking in with one another, and everything that they do on the network is visible to the other nodes. Not only is it visible; it’s recorded by design. Actions taken by the nodes are stored in an encrypted digital ledger that’s shared between the network; the ledger is divided up into blocks, and encrypted in such a way that individual actions or the blocks themselves can’t be faked or altered without an enormous amount of computing power.

For Example, Let’s Take the Romaine Lettuce Outbreak

It can be a bit hard to get your head around, so we’ll attempt to explain it with lettuce. There are several different actors in the lettuce network: farmhands, field supervisors, the people who clean and wash the lettuce, delivery truck drivers, health inspectors, and Walmart employees of various sorts.

Walmart assembles a list of everything that needs to happen to a head of lettuce before it hits store shelves and gives all of these different actors a smartphone loaded with an app that allows them to add to the blockchain. Each time one of these actors does one of those things – sprays lettuce down with pesticide, checks it for bugs, picks it, washes it, packs it into a crate, loads that crate onto a truck, drives that truck across the country, delivers the lettuce to the store, verifies the delivery to the store, puts the lettuce on store shelves – they use their blockchain app to record and verify that they did indeed do the thing.

The Solution?

Each record that’s made along the way is seen by all the different nodes of the network (in this example, the smartphones distributed by Walmart). Hopefully, the new system provides more clarity when it comes to the provenance of leafy greens. That should (theoretically) translate into more efficient recalls and tighter food security. There’s still a lot of human error, of course: at this point, it looks like a lot of the data recorded in the blockchain will involve workers ticking off boxes on checklists, which can easily be faked or messed up. In a globalized world of food, however, fresh ideas and novel solutions that shed some light on the supply chain are badly needed. This seems to be a step in that direction.

It’s All About Trust

About 90% of greens are grown in the Yuma region of the United States in the winter. After the E. coli romaine outbreak, many consumers still do not trust Yuma farms. According to one farmer, “We have to get our consumer confidence back, and, hopefully, in time for our fall harvest beginning in November.” Maybe, just maybe, blockchain could be their answer.

By: Sean McNulty, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 27, 2018
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What’s in Your Kitchen? Recalls: Ground Beef Recall and More

MakeFoodSafe.com would like to help you keep your family safe from unsafe foods.  Each week we bring together a list of the current recalls.  Some recalls are issued due to undeclared allergens, which could cause serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if someone sensitive to the product consumes it.  Other recalls are issued due to contamination with harmful material or other health risk.  Check back often and evaluate your fridge, pantry, and shopping list to make sure you can identify which foods to avoid, like the latest ground beef recall.

This week’s recalls include:

Cargill Meat Solutions Recalls Ground Beef Products Due to Potential Health Risk

Cargill Meat Solutions of Fort Morgan, Colorado issued a recall for approximately 132,606 pounds of their ground beef products that are made from the chuck portion of the carcass on September 19, 2018 due to the potential health risk, Escherichia coli O26.

E. coli O26 is a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) similar to the more common E. coli I157:H7. Illness with STECs can last anywhere from 2 to 8 days with the average being closer to 3 to 4 days. Symptoms of STEC O26 include vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody.  Most normally healthy individuals will recover within a week without medical care, though some may experience more severe infection.  Some may develop a type of kidney failure known as Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  The very young (under 5 years old), those with a weakened immune system, and older adults are more likely to develop HUS.  HUS symptoms include pallor, decreased urine output, and easy bruising.  Those with these symptoms after becoming infected with STEC O26 should seek medical attention immediately.  Without prompt antibiotic treatment, infection may become fatal.

The recall was initiated after traceback investigation led the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to Cargill Meat Solutions’ ground beef products.  As of August 16, 2018, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked 17 illnesses and one death to the outbreak with illness onset dates ranging from July 5, 2018 to July 25, 2018.

The product can be identified as bearing the establishment number EST. 86R.  Affected product was shipped nationwide to retail locations.  See table below for specific product information.

Consumer are urged to not consume the affected product and to throw it away or return to the place of purchase.

Zweigle’s Inc Recalls Pork Products Due to Excess Nitrate Levels

Zweigle’s Inc., of Rochester, New York issued a recall on September 2, 2018 for approximately 6,082 pounds of their ready-to-eat olive loaf pork products due to excess of regulatory limit sodium nitrate levels.

The recall was initiated after routine FSIS inspection discovered the establishment’s formulation for the use of sodium nitrate exceeded the regulatory limit.  Affected products were produced between June 29, 2018 and August 27, 2018 and were shipped to retail locations in western New York as intact loaves for slicing.  The product can be identified as bearing establishment number EST. 5333.  See table below for specific product information.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness in connection with this recall.  Consumers are urged to not consume the product and throw it away or return to the place of purchase.

Junior’s Smokehouse Processing Plant Recalls Beef Jerky Products Due to Mechanical Contamination

Junior’s Smokehouse Processing Plant of El Campo, Texas issued a recall on September 21, 2018 for approximately 690 pounds of their ready-to-eat teriyaki beef jerky products due to potential contamination with extraneous materials (specifically hard metal).  Consuming a metal product can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

The recall was initiated after receiving a consumer complaint from a retail store customer.  Affected products were produced on August 9, 2018 and can be identified as bearing the establishment number EST. 48213.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness associated with this recall.  Consumes are urged to throw out the product or return to the place of purchase.

This Week’s Affected Products

Manufacturer Label Size Date UPC/Lot
Cargill Meat Solutions Our Certified 73/27 Fine Grind Ground Beef 3 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 00228749057646
Cargill Meat Solutions Our Certified 73/27 Fine Grind Ground Beef 3 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 00228749002653
Cargill Meat Solutions Excel 73/27 Fine Grind Ground Beef 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 00228749089098
Cargill Meat Solutions Excel 73/27 Fine Grind Ground Beef 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 90028749002751
Cargill Meat Solutions Excel 81/19 Fine Grind Ground Beef 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 90028749003536
Cargill Meat Solutions Excel 81/19 Fine Grind Ground Beef 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 00228749003568
Cargill Meat Solutions Excel 81/19 Fine Grind Ground Beef 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 90028749402773
Cargill Meat Solutions Excel 81/19 Fine Grind Ground Beef Combo 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 90028749073935
Cargill Meat Solutions Sterling Silver Chuck Ground Beef 81/19 Fine Grind 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 00228749702416
Cargill Meat Solutions Certified Angus Beef Chuck Ground Beef 81/19 Fine Grind 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 90028749802405
Cargill Meat Solutions Certified Angus Beef Chuck Ground Beef 81/19 Fine Grind 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 0022874980413
Cargill Meat Solutions Fire River Farms Classic Ground Beef 81/19 Fine Grind 10 lb Use or Freeze By JUL/11/18 Case Code 90734730297241
Zweigle’s Inc Olive Loaf Oven Baked Aprox. 9 lb Use By dates of 8/22/18, 9/12/18, 9/19/18, 10/4/18, and 10/17/18 Case Code 070534075225
Junior’s Smokehouse Processing Plant BUC-EE’s Hill Country Brand Teriyaki Beef Jerky, Made in Texas from Solid Strips of Beef, Ready to Eat 4 oz Best By 08-09-2019 Lot code 220-272

By: Heather Van Tassell, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 27, 2018
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Cargill Beef E coli Outbreak Update

Cargill Meat Solutions of Fort Morgan, Colorado is recalling 132,606 pounds of ground beef. Why? The beef is contaminated with the bacteria E. coli. Here’s the latest on the Cargill Beef E coli Outbreak, linked to Publix stores.

The Recall

The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the recall on September 19th. They identified the bacterial strain as Escherichia coli O26 and said that the ground beef products in question were made from chuck, a cut of beef from the shoulder region of the cow.

Cargill produced and packaged the items on June 21st, according to the press release put out by the FSIS. Most of the products identified for recall were 3 and 10 pound chubs with a use by date of July 11th, 2018. They share an establishment code of EST. 86R on the package, and were distributed to a range of different retailers nationwide.

The Outbreak

Illnesses started on July 5th and ran through July 25th. Six of the victims were hospitalized. According to the CDC, one of the victims was ill enough to develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Another victim in Florida passed away.

Victims reported their illnesses in the states Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Florida. Florida bore the brunt of the outbreak, with 15 of the 18 cases reported to date. CDC data indicate that the victims ranged in age from 1 to 75. The median age was 16. Two thirds of the victims were male.

The Investigation

The FSIS learned of an investigation into illnesses caused by E. coli O26 on August 16th. Working with state health officials and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, they launched an investigation to determine the origin of the bacteria. This was accomplished through PulseNet, a national database of genetic information that allows investigators to type, track, and compare pathogens.

Samples of E. coli were taken from several different patients and subject to different methods of genetic analysis. The results indicated that eighteen people in four states had been infected by strains of E. coli O26. The strains were closely related genetically. This indicated that the bacteria had come from a common source.

Genetics

That genetic profile matched E. coli taken from a sample of ground beef in the home of one victim in Colorado. That too seemed to point to a common source for the infection.

Genetic analysis of bacteria taken from 13 patients did not indicate that this strain of E. coli O26 was resistant to antibiotics. However, investigators say further testing is currently underway.

To supplement the genetic testing, investigators conducted interviews with victims. Investigators asked about what they had eaten in the time leading up to their illness. Each of the fourteen people interviewed indicated that they had eaten ground beef in the week before they got sick; they indicated that they’d purchased the ground beef from a range of different grocery stores.

Traceback

Working from the businesses that victims had reported shopping at, investigators attempted to zero in on the beef in question. Several of the victims in Florida had indicated that they bought the meat at Publix Supermarket locations. That initiated a recall of ground beef chuck products from several Publix locations on August 30th.

Investigators were subsequently able to determine that the tainted beef sold by Publix and other grocery stores had originated from a company called Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colorado. Working with the FSIS, the CDC, and local health officials, Cargill announced that they were recalling more than a hundred thousand pounds of the meat on September 19th.

Beef May Still Be in Homes

Although retailers sold the ground beef with a best by date of mid-July, authorities are concerned that some might still be in customer’s freezers. They’re urging anyone who currently has frozen beef purchased at Publix or one of the other affected grocery stores to check the label. Consumers should be sure that any recalled products aren’t in their freezer. If you do have meat affected by the recall, health authorities ask that you don’t eat it and instead throw it out.

E. coli O26

Escherichia coli O26 is one of the varieties of E. coli that produce a nasty chemical called shiga toxin. Not all of the E. coli that produce shiga toxin cause illness in people, but those that do are quite serious. Symptoms manifest within 2 to 8 days, most often showing up between day 3 and day 4 after exposure. They’re a bit harsher than your typical case of food poisoning; vomiting is common, as is bloody diarrhea.

Like other strains that produce shiga toxin, O26 can cause a debilitating condition called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a condition that most often affects children. The condition’s symptoms include kidney failure, the loss of red blood cells leading to anemia, and a low count of platelets in the blood. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome is quite deadly, and proves fatal for five to ten percent of those unfortunate enough to develop it.

Prevention

There are some steps that you can take to avoid infection by E. coli in the food that you eat. The first and most important step is to wash your hands; do so thoroughly with hot soapy water for at least twenty seconds. There are many different effective hand washing techniques; this writer personally is fan of rubbing his hands together like Scrooge McDuck might after seeing a briefcase full of money. Remember to get the spaces between your fingers and the back of your hands as well, and to dry afterwards to discourage the spread of bacteria. If soap and water aren’t available, alcoholic disinfectant will do in a pinch.

Another key method to avoid infection with E. coli is to cook foods to a safe internal temperature that’s too hot for bacteria to survive. The USDA recommends nothing less than 160 degrees fahrenheit for ground beef, checked with a meat thermometer. Remember to keep your surfaces and utensils clean, as well, and you can seriously cut down on your risk of illness.

By: Sean McNulty, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 23, 2018
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What is E coli O26 in the Publix Cargill E coli Outbreak?

For those following the Publix E coli Ground Beef Outbreak, the authorities have reported Cargill is the manufacturer. Despite this link, many consumers wonder, what is E coli O26?

E. coli

Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli, is a deadly virus that is becoming all too familiar for diners in the U.S. E. coli is a large and diverse group of bacteria with strains varying in strength. There are hundreds of different strains of E. coli with a range varying from both harmless and serious illnesses. The impact of E. coli on the body usually depends on the personal situation of the infected person. For example, a healthy body can fight the illness off with more resistance than an elderly person or a child. Each body is unique and the strain of E. coli reflects this. Research into E. coli is still developing and E. coli can harmlessly live in the human body.

Non-pathogenic strains of E. coli are found in the intestinal tract in humans and animals and do not cause disease. E. coli is a prevalent cause of illness in the U.S. It deserves an important place in food safety measures implemented by stakeholders.

Transmission

The E. coli bacterium spreads most commonly in contaminated food or water. Foods that are susceptible to contamination include raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef. Consumers should use extreme precaution when preparing this food.

Hygienic food production is paramount to stop the spread of the virus to humans as the the bacteria can make someone ill. Further, polluted water streams contaminated with human or animal feces provides a breeding ground for E. coli.  Irrigation water can spread illnesses. Dirty irrigation water, likewise, can spread illness. Disinfecting systems in swimming pools, wells and other water sources are effective in ensuring that water is clean and safe to use. Washing hands correctly with soap stops the infection between humans and kills off bacteria that thrives on hands.

Our focus today

Given that the large number of different strains of E. coli, this article will focus on E. 026. The average time of sickness from E. coli 026 is between 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) with most people recovering within a week. Additionally, illnesses can last longer in some cases with more dangerous and severe symptoms. Usual symptoms for infected people include diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Medical professionals use stool samples to diagnose infections with the E. coli 026 strain. Usual treatment enforced by doctors include supportive care, such as vigorous rehydration. Unfortunately, no vaccine or medication can protect consumers from E. coli based infection. Instead, the best protection is to always display extreme caution when handling risky food and avoid cross contamination of food.

Causes of E. coli Contamination 

Risky food – Consumers should cook meat to well-done and over a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit in its thickest point. Moreover, consumers should take the food’s temperature with a food-specific thermometer. They should not assume the food is done by its color. Consumers should also wash raw foods thoroughly with running water and with the correct precautions. The proper rinsing of vegetables will remove dirt and bacteria therefore reducing the risk of E. coli.

Avoid cross contamination – Consumers should wash utensils with hot soapy water before and after contact with fresh produce or raw meat. They can reduce the risk of E. coli spreading throughout the worktops. Examples of utensils include knives, chopping boards and frying pans. Furthermore, keeping raw food separate when cooking is fundamental to avoiding a disastrous E. coli infection. Consumers should use chopping boards for raw meat and fresh vegetables separately. For example, contaminating raw meat with cooked meat provides the perfect opportunity for E. coli to grow.

E coli O26 Outbreak

E coli 026 has the potential to devastate food produce and contaminate batches of ground beef sent from warehouses across the country. The most recent case to dominate the news affects Cargill Meat Solutions, with the recall of 130,000 pounds of Cargill ground beef, with products made from the chuck portion of the carcass. The contaminated ground beef has been responsible for 17 illnesses and one death during a 20 day period between July 5 and July 25, 2018.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on September 19, 2018 that its investigators found Cargill’s raw ground beef caused E. coli O26 illnesses. Cargill packaged the meats on June 21, 2018. They packages have use-by/freeze-by dates in July. The outbreak spread from the Cargill slaughterhouse in Fort Morgan, Colo. to various retail stores throughout the country with four states affected. Cargill has responded; “We were distressed to learn a fatality may be related to an E. coli contamination of one of our products as food safety is something we work hard at every day. We are working in lock step with the USDA to notify consumers.”

About Cargill

Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the United States. It has an annual revenue of over $100 billion. The outbreak has had a devastating impact on their customers with a dozen of their products contaminated. Health agents ask customers to display caution with all affected Cargill products and return the contaminated meat at the earliest opportunity.

Correctly utilizing the information above about safe and correct food practices are extremely important during these turbulent times. The meat recall of 130,000 pounds is unprecedented and shows the magnitude of their meat production scale.  The USDA said in a statement that “FSIS is concerned that some products may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers, 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.”

To conclude, E. coli is an infection that has the potential to cause severe damage. The multiple strains of E. coli can inflict differing levels of infections for consumers with a healthy body being the best defense to a potential deadly infection. Effective hygienic practices and caution in food preparation can reduce the risk of infection for consumers.

By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 22, 2018
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Publix Cargill E coli Ground Beef Recall

The BBQ season is over. The daily banquets of your favorite grilled meat is on hold for another year unfortunately. Unfortunately, there is news outbreaking of the Publix Cargill E coli Ground Beef recall and outbreak to further compound the misery of carnivores. Cargill Meat Solutions is currently trying to manage an outbreak of E. 026.  Cargill Meat Solutions supplied ground beef products to the affected four states. The company, based out of Fort Morgan, Colo. is recalling around 132,606 pounds of ground beef from the chuck portion of the carcass, as announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The company shipped the contaminated meats to warehouses in California and Illinois. The outbreak as sickened 18 people. Those who are ill are fighting an E. coli infection. Sadly, one person has died. Beef lovers, please read the following information attentively!

So far, we know …

First, we will g over what we know. Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colo. produced the ground beef items with potentially contaminated meat. These products bear the United States Department Agriculture inspection mark on the package stating “EST. 86R” on the inside. Cargill shipped the meat across the country. Consequently, the potential for a catastrophic nationwide outbreak is vast, especially given the dozen varieties of products utilized by the beef.

The first signs of a potential outbreak occurred when ill people reported symptoms between July 5 and 25.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses have been reported in four states: Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts and Tennessee. The FDA investigation led to the recall of ground beef products on August 30, 2018 and related to Recall 072-2018. This recall found that E. coli 026 was indeed present in the Cargill Meat Solutions products. The investigators linked tracebacks of the contaminated ground beef to those who were sick.

The Recall

FSIS issued the following recall announcement; “we are concerned that some products may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. 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”.

To effectively manage the outbreak, FSIS has advised all consumers of meat to prepare raw products safely. They did this with an emphasis on the correct temperature when cooking to kill harmful bacteria. The FDA recommends 160°F as the temperature for cooking raw meat with the use of a food thermometer. They recommend this whether the meat is fresh or frozen. Therefore, a meat thermometer is crucial. Guessing the state of meat, in relation to readiness to eat, with the color is dangerous and gives potential for human error.

Therefore, consumers should follow correct hygienic practices when cooking. Handwashing before and after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs is paramount. This reduces the risk of bacterial cross-contamination in the kitchen. Consumers must take extra caution when washing work surfaces, countertops and other areas of food preparation. Therefore, consumers must cook  ground products more thoroughly.  Any bacteria on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it.

The CDC Says

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that symptoms of E. coli begin between one and 10 days after consuming contaminated food or drink. Most people become sick three to four days after exposure with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Most people, especially healthy people, do not require a visit to the hospital and recover after five or seven days. The very young and older adults are at risk of developing kidney failure.

The Company Says

Cargill Meat Solutions has issued the following statement; “We were distressed to learn a fatality may be related to an E. coli contamination of one of our products, our hearts go out to the families and individuals affected by this issue.” Cargill was also involved in a separate incident of meat packaged on 16 August. This recall resulted in 25,000 pounds of meat recalled as a precaution due to contamination. The contaminated products include the 10-pound chubs of “EXCEL 93/7 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a use-by/freeze-by date of September 5. This incident of E. coli caused by meats sold at Publix locations did not result in any deaths.

The summer outbreaks of E. coli illustrate the potential for wastage when food is produced on a mass scale. Cargill has to had to recall 150,000 pounds of meat in a month, an absurd number. This wastage is damaging the environment. This comes at a time when knowledge about the devastatingly high level of pollution caused by industrial farming is becoming more mainstream. Also, public awareness of the benefits of vegetarianism is on the rise. Agribusiness that raise cattle on an industrious scale leave themselves vulnerable to contamination. This is especially concerning given the huge amount of meat that is produced daily. Avoiding modern illnesses in meat production is difficult and large scale farming results in situations where contamination can spread throughout the country.

To conclude, the Cargill meat production outbreak shows the devastating damage caused by E. coli outbreaks throughout the food distribution chain. Agribusinesses are susceptible to large scale outbreaks that result in widespread recalls. E. coli is a modern illness that is a result of industrial farming. Consumers are becoming all too familiar with this illness as food safety is challenged by the demand for meat. E. coli affects millions of people in the U.S. each year. This leaves food safety organizations facing an unravelling epidemic that is threatening consumers. Ultimately, effective food safety practices before, during, and after cooking are vital to ensure that the risk of disease is reduced.

Check your freezers

Lastly, the following items, produced and packaged on June 21, 2018, are being recalled:

  • 3-lb. chubs of “OUR CERTIFIED 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a USE OR FREEZE BY JUL/11/18 and case code 00228749057646.
  • 3-lb. chubs of “OUR CERTIFIED 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a USE OR FREEZE BY JUL/11/18 and case code 00228749002653.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “EXCEL 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 00228749089098.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “EXCEL 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749002751.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “EXCEL 81/19 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749003536.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “EXCEL GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 00228749003568.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “EXCEL CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749402773.
  • 20-lb. chubs of “EXCEL 81/19 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF COMBO” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749073935.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “Sterling Silver CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 00228749702416.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749802405.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 with case code 00228749802413.
  • 10-lb. chubs of “Fire River Farms CLASSIC GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a USE/FREEZE BY: 07/11/2018 with case code 90734730297241.

By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 22, 2018
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Beware of E. coli at the Petting Zoo

We have become so used to the fact that E. coli and Salmonella infections are spread through meat, leafy vegetables, fresh produce etc. that we forget where these bacteria originally comes from. These bacteria are quite common in live animals and their habitat. The same animals which can be found in animal exhibits, fairs, and petting zoos.

There have been several outbreaks linked to petting zoos in the past years:

  • In 2004, 187 people fell ill with E. coli after attending the North Carolina State Fair, 15 of them developed HUS. It was one of the largest E. coli outbreaks in North Carolina.

  • In 2010, 93 people (76 children under 10 years) became sick with E. coli O157:H7 strain after visiting Goldstone Farm in Surrey, UK.

  • In 2012, 106 people became ill in North Carolina’s Cleveland County Fair. A 2 year old boy lost his life due to the infection and several others spent weeks in the hospital.

  • In 2017, a little girl died and her brother was fighting for his life after they visited the Minnesota zoo and petted some animals there.

According to CDC, around 100 outbreaks were reported to public health officials from 2010-2015 after visiting zoos, fair, agricultural, or educational farms, etc.

The most common pathogen involved in the outbreak is E. coli, but there are others as well such as Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, etc. All of them causes severe diarrhea in those who become infected along with other symptoms such as abdominal cramps, vomiting, etc.

How do people get infected at petting zoos?

  • The pathogens that cause illnesses exist in the intestines of the live animals. It is not necessary that animals who have this bacteria in the intestine will show sickness symptoms. These animals shed the bacteria in their feces and can transfer them to other via fecal-oral route. People at petting zoos can get fecal contamination on hands which can get transferred to the mouth.

  • The bacteria can be present anywhere on the animal’s body due to fecal contamination. Therefore, it is easy to catch the bacteria after petting the animals without being in contact with the animal’s surroundings.

  • Since the bacteria is on the animal’s body, it can get transferred easily to its habitat. Therefore, it is advised that you don’t eat or drink anything that has come in contact with the animal’s surroundings. The bacteria can be present on gates, walls, floors, etc.

What animals hold the least risk of transmission?

  • Animals with good temperament are generally the best to pet as it is also a sign of being in good health.

  • Healthy animals that are at low risk of shedding infectious pathogens. This generally depends on the species and the age of the animals.

  • Adult animals are at less risk of transmission than baby animals.

Some of the animals that make for excellent zoo petting animals are llamas, adult sheep, ponies, goats, horses, and alpacas.

What animals have the highest risk of transmission?

  • Baby animals such as baby goats, baby sheep, young lambs and calves shed way more infectious pathogens than the adult ones. They might appear to be too cute to not touch but it’s better to adore them from a distance.

  • Pregnant sheep and goat who are just about to give birth should not be allowed to pet.

  • Contact with wild animals that do not have a good temperament or are generally not good at human interactions should be kept away from the visitors.

How can you protect yourself and your kids?

  • Wash your hands properly at the handwashing stations thoroughly after being in contact with animals or their surroundings. Sanitizers will not work as effectively so handwashing is a must.

  • Keep a close eye on children. Keep all the stuff such as pacifiers, toys, strollers that your kid use outside of the animal pen. Do not bring anything to eat or drink near the petting area. Make sure that your kid is already full before coming to the petting venue. You should also ask your child to stay at a safe distance from the animals at all times.

  • Don’t go into the animal pens. Petting should be done over a gate or a fence.

  • Don’t touch animals that do not look clean enough like having skin lesions etc.

  • If you have a scar that is not completely healed or sores, make sure that you cover them before coming in contact with the animals or the surfaces they touch.

Who are at higher risk of infection?

Young children (less than 5 years old), pregnant women, elderly and those with compromised immune system should particularly pay extra attention to their hygiene. Pet only the animals that are absolutely safe and some species should be avoided altogether.

What makes a good petting zoo?

  • Thorough information is provided to anyone entering the zoo authorities. The staff should be trained and know all the risks associated with different activities at the zoo. They should inform visitors for the transmission of pathogens and what they can do to protect themselves. The visitors should be made aware that there are certain animals such as baby ruminants, pregnant sheep or goat that are at more risk of spreading infection than other animals.

  • The zoo should be designed so as to restrict the entry of the animals in certain venues such as where food is served or infant care facilities. The petting should happen at closely monitored areas over a fence or a gate.

  • The food service area should be located completely away from the animal facilities.

  • There should be adequate hand washing facilities that is animal-free. The handwashing stations should be readily available with running water, soap and disposable towels.

  • There should be banners and posters in the setting that inform the visitors about the pathogen transmission and emphasize on hand washing from time to time.

  • Look for signs of cleanliness. The animals should look healthy and clean. The manure and soiled beddings should be cleaned and removed regularly. They should be kept away from public access.

E. coli causes 73000 illnesses in the US annually. Salmonella and E.coli are in top 5 pathogen of foodborne illnesses in the US. Anybody can get sick from food poisoning so it is important that you practice good hygiene at all times.
By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 17, 2018
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Important Recall: Publix Super Market and E. coli

On Thursday, the Florida Supermarket chain Publix Super Market, Inc., sent out a voluntary recall notice. Publix Super Markets, working alongside local health departments and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are letting consumers know of a possible E. coli contamination issue. So far, 18 people have become sick with Escherichia coli 026. To date the source of the product is unknown but officials are working to trace that back.

This recall is a bit more targeted than most. This is a good thing. That means the information about the recall can get to the right people. Even though a recall is never a good sign, especially where people have already become sickened, by catching the outbreak early enough, lives can be saved.

Publix Super Market is recalling Ground Chuck Products. First, we need to look at the particulars. Information is key remember? Then we will take a look at what E. coli is and how it affects us. Lastly, we need to take a long look at what we can do to keep ourselves safe when it comes to the dangers of the food we eat.

The Recall

Let’s get right to the particulars. The recall is for Ground Chuck meat products. I will link the list here due to the large amount of items on it and remind you to check every one.

Publix Super Markets are located in 24 counties: Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter, and Volusia.

Publix Super Market is asking consumers if there was any product purchased to dispose of it or bring it back to the store.

Remember: Just because you did not buy Ground Chuck from these locations, make sure you double check any types of picnics, church or school gatherings, and cookouts you might attend to find out where the meat came from.

The recall is for Ground Chuck purchased between June 25 through July 31.

According to the USDA, there is concern consumers may have frozen meat purchased during this time period so be sure to check those dates as well.

Adding to the urgency, the USDA has issued a Class I recall for this outbreak. There are three classes:

Class I: This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Class II: This is a health hazard where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.

Class III: This is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.

I’m not sure about you but when the USDA mentions the words “adverse health consequences or death” I am going to pay attention. You should as well.

The Danger

If there is any doubt in your mind let me dispel it for you now: E. coli is nothing to scoff at. This is a dangerous bacterium that is left unchecked can lead to severe kidney failure and death. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, please seek medical help as soon as possible. For infants and the elderly this is especially dangerous as their immune systems are weaker.

The main symptoms of E. coli are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever

These symptoms may sound like the flu. Is it not better to be safe than sorry? Seek medical assistance for these and any symptom that is out of the norm. If there is a chance you have eaten product from this or any other recall, the chances are good you’re not dealing with just the flu.

Most cases will clear within 5 to 7 days with a regimen of fluids and rest. Doctors normally will not prescribe antibiotics for E. coli cases. There are cases however that can lead to serious complications.

The Knowledge

Sometimes, we are powerless to stop dangerous bacteria from entering our bodies. More often than not there is plenty we can do though. According to the CDC, there are a few things to remember concerning the prevention and spread of E. coli we should all commit to memory.

Know your chances. Food poisoning affects infants, pregnant women, and the elderly more than any other demographic. If you, a friend, or family member fall into these categories it is important to pay attention to risk factors.

Wash fruits and vegetables. It is a good practice to always clean fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking with them. Even if the package states they have been washed.

Cook meat thoroughly. Follow guidelines for specific types of meats and use a thermometer when grilling out.

Avoid raw foods. Milk, unpasteurized dairy, and unpasteurized juices are full of bacteria.

Practice good hygiene. It has become my mantra around the house especially with little ones running around but washing your hands is more important than you think. After changing diapers, preparing and eating food, having contact with animals, and being around toddlers; all of these and more should be preceded by washing your hands.

We live in a fast moving world. Be it by design or just being caught up in the rush of daily life, most of us move quickly through the day not taking much time to pause. I share this belief with makefoodsafe.com: when it comes to food safety, we must slow down. Take the time to wash, prepare, and understand where our food is coming from. Take the time to get informed about outbreaks and food related issues. This information could save your life.

If you live in the above named counties and have purchased meat within the dates STOP HERE and check to see if you have any of the recalled product. Follow these guidelines in order to dispose of the product. You and your family’s safety are of the most importance here.

Never discount recalls. Health Departments issue them to keep us safe. We at makefoodsafe.com care about your safety more than anything.

By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

August 31, 2018
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Publix’s E. coli Uh-Oh, O26 That Is…

Ground beef sold at Publix this summer may have infected 18 people with E. coli O26.  The E. coli-contaminated beef was sold at Publix stores in these Florida counties:  Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake; Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter, and Volusia.

The E. coli-contaminated ground beef products were sold at Publix from June 25 to July 31.

Publix is recalling ground chuck, ground chuck burgers, gourmet burgers (Jalapeno & Cheddar, Pimento & Cheese, Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Blue Cheese, and Swiss & Mushroom), seasoned ground chuck burgers (Badia, Mesquite, Montreal, and Steakhouse), meatballs (Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Blue Cheese, Jalapeno & Cheddar, Swiss & Mushroom, and Spanish), Meatloaf (Seasoned and Grillers),  sliders (Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Ground Chuck, Blue Cheese, Jalapeno & Cheddar, and Swiss & Mushroom), and stuffed peppers.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the ground beef products being recalled present “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

In the meantime, FSIS is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state and local health agencies to investigate this outbreak. At this time, a beef supplier has not yet been identified. It is hopeful that traceback investigations will help in the identification of this supplier, and get to the bottom of how the contamination occurred.

Who Is Affected?

At least 18 people have been infected with E. coli O26 in this outbreak.  Patients became ill between July 5 and July 25, 2018.  The USDA’s traceback investigation determined that patients in this outbreak became sick after eating ground beef products sold at Publix Super Markets.

Frozen Ground Beef:  A Continuing Concern

The USDA warns that tainted ground beef may still be in people’s freezers.  The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) “is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. 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.”

E. coli O26

E. coli O26, like the more common E. coli O157:H7, is a serovar of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli(STEC). People can become ill from STECs 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after exposure to the organism.

People typically become ill from E. coli O26 two to eight days after eating the contaminated food (with three to four days being average).  According to the USDA, “Most people infected with STEC O26 develop diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.”

E. coli is usually diagnosed after testing a stool sample. The USDA reports, “Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment; antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.”

“Easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output” can be signs of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a kind of kidney failure.  Anyone experiencing these symptoms is urged to immediately seek emergency medical treatment.

E. coli Symptoms

While symptoms can vary from person to person, the classic symptoms of an E. coli infection include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Watery diarrhea, which often turns into bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sometimes a low grade fever (usually less than 101˚Fahrenheit)

Most people with E. coli infections experience diarrhea and abdominal cramps beginning two to eight after eating the E. coli-contaminated food.

How Are E. coli Infections Diagnosed?

Only a doctor can diagnose an E. coli infection. Doctors can test a stool sample for the presence of E. coli bacteria.

What Are The Long-Term Complications of an E. coli Infections?

There can be. 5-10% of patients with STEC E. coli infections develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).  A kind of kidney failure, HUS can have long term consequences.  It can even be fatal.  HUS can occur within approximately five to ten days after consuming the E. coli-contaminated food.  Anyone can develop HUS.  But children under the age of five are at the greatest risk.

Ground Beef Risks

“FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160°F. (Some health agencies recommend an optimum cooking temperature of at least 165°F to be safe). The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ. Consumers should take proper precautions when handling raw meat products. Proper hand washing after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs can greatly reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination to other foods and kitchen surfaces. It is important to prevent cross-contamination by washing counter tops and sinks with hot, soapy water.”

E. coli Lawyer

E. coli lawyer Jory Lange is one of the nation’s leading food poisoning lawyers. Mr. Lange has helped families from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, from Florida to California, and in states across the nation.

If you or someone in your family tested positive for E. coli and you would like to know more about your legal rights, call 833.330.3663 to get answers now.

August 31, 2018
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