Food contamination

October 3, 2011

This photo illustration shows a range of food that can easily be contaminated. Illustration by Brandon Quester/News21



The Salmonella strain that sickened 12 people in 10 states and triggered last week’s recall of 54,960 pounds of Jennie-O turkey burgers may be resistant to antibiotics, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced April 4.

According to the CDC, Salmonella Hadar is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, including ampicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, cephalothin and tetracycline, which may increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

On April 1, Jennie-O Turkey Store announced a nationwide recall of 4-pound boxes of frozen Jennie-O Turkey Store® “All Natural Turkey Burgers with seasonings Lean White Meat” containing 12 individually wrapped 1/3-pound burgers after they were linked to 12 confirmed cases of Salmonella Hadar in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin, with illnesses occurring between December 2010 and March 2011. Three of the patients in Colorado, Ohio and Wisconsin specifically reported eating this product prior to illness onset and hospitalization; the last of these illnesses was reported on March 14, 2011.

Advice to consumers:

  • Recalled turkey burgers may still be in grocery stores and in consumers’ homes, including in the freezer. Consumer should not eat recalled turkey burgers and food service operators should not serve them.
  • The recalling firm is asking customers to return the product to the place of purchase for a refund.  Individuals choosing not to return the product should dispose of the recalled turkey burgers in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.
  • Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry. Then, disinfect the food contact surfaces using a sanitizing agent, such as bleach, following label instructions.
  • Cook poultry thoroughly. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immune-compromised.
  • If served undercooked poultry in a restaurant, send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
  • Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods. Hands should be washed before handling food, and between handling different food items.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated turkey burgers should consult their health care providers. Infants, elderly persons, and persons with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.



Today the FDA launched a new and improved web search tool for consumers to use during recalls.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed into law in January by President Obama called for a more consumer-friendly recall search engine.

How does the new site work? Search results provide data from news releases and other recall announcements in the form of a table. That table organizes information from news releases on recalls since 2009 by date, product brand name, product description, reason for the recall and  the recalling. The table also provides a link to the news release on each recall for more detailed information.

A quick look at the new site showed some favorites – Skippy, Teavanna and DelMonte (cantaloupes) all listed as recalled because of  salmonella.

Under FSMA, FDA was required to provide a consumer-friendly recall search engine 90 days after the law went into effect.  The  law also requires that recalls conducted under FSMA indicate whether the recall is ongoing or completed. Believe it or not, prior to passage of FSMA, FDA did not have mandatory recall authority for food and feed products other than infant formula.

And while this is a good thing, don’t look for your turkey, beef or chicken recalls at this site. That’s all handled by the USDA, not the FDA. Getting better but still confusing for sure.

Check FDA’s new recall site at:  Recalls & Safety Alerts, USDA at:

380 Million Eggs Recalled

August 19, 2010

Hundreds of people have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to eggs health officials said Wednesday as a company dramatically expanded a recall to 380 million eggs.

Initially, 228 million eggs, or the equivalent of 19 million dozen-egg cartons, were recalled by the company Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. But that number was increased to nearly 32 million dozen-egg cartons.

Minnesota, a state with some of the best food-borne illness investigators in the country, has tied at least seven salmonella illnesses to the eggs.

Other states have seen a jump in reports of the type of salmonella. For example, California has reported 266 illnesses since June and believes many are related to the eggs. Colorado saw 28 cases in June and July, about four times the usual number. Spikes or clusters of suspicious cases have also been reported in Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

The initial recall was issued last week. Eggs affected by the expanded recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

FDA List of affected brands:

Dutch Farms
Farm Fresh
Mountain Dairy

Eggs are packed in varying sizes of cartons (6-egg cartons, dozen egg cartons, 18-egg cartons) with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946.

Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1946 223.

Beef Packers, Inc., a Fresno, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 825,769 pounds of ground beef products that may be linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef products were produced on various dates ranging from June 5, 2009 through June 23, 2009 and bear the establishment number “EST. 31913” printed on the case code labels. The ground beef products were distributed to retail distribution centers in Arizona, California, Colorado and Utah. Because these products were repackaged into consumer-size packages and sold under different retail brand names, consumers should check with their local retailer to determine whether they may have purchased any of the products subject to recall.

This particular strain of Salmonella Newport is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the company’s Consumer Line at (877) 872-3635

burger_recall_070926_mnU.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., last week introduced legislation giving the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) authority to initiate mandatory meat product recalls.

Under current law, USDA does not have the authority to issue a mandatory recall of meat believed to be dangerous. The decision to recall or comply with requests from the USDA to recall unsafe products is voluntary (left in the hands of food processors.) This forces the USDA to engage in time-consuming negotiations with meatpackers before pulling tainted meat from store shelves, and it gives meatpackers an effective veto on recalls. Udall first introduced the legislation in 2003.

“When the USDA cannot get tainted meat off the market swiftly, all our consumers are at risk,” said Udall. “This legislation will give USDA the authority to act quickly and decisively to protect the public.”

Last week, the Denver-based King Soopers grocery chain recalled 466,236 pounds of ground beef products that were distributed to stores in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Only one store in New Mexico received the recalled meat, but in Colorado fourteen cases of salmonella were reported and six people were hospitalized.

Last year, the USDA requested a recall of 143 million pounds of beef from a slaughterhouse that was being investigated for unsafe practices. USDA’s Commodity Foods Program had sent 3,000 cases of the questionable beef to New Mexico’s Human Services Department to be distributed to school lunch programs. Most of the recalled beef was found before it was served.

Udall noted that:

  • 5,000 people die each year from food-borne illnesses,
  • 325,000 people are hospitalized each year from food-borne illnesses, and
  • 76,000,000 people get sick each year from food-borne illnesses.

A ground beef recall has been issued for nearly half a million pounds of meat distributed to Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, due to the possibility that it may be contaminated with a treatment-resistant strain of Salmonella.

At least 14 people in Colorado have been identified as part of a salmonella outbreak that may be linked to ground beef manufactured by King Scoopers, Inc. of Denver. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall on Wednesday for approximately 466,236 pounds of ground beef.

The meat was sold in both chubs, trays and patties, and all carry an establishment number of “EST. 6250.” The chubs have a use-by/sell-by date between “05/31/09” and “06/21/09,” the tray packs have a use-by/sell-by date between “06/0209” and “06.23.09,” and the patties have a use-by/sell-by date between “06.01.09” and “06.22.09.”

Find more info at:

Romaine lettuce recall

July 23, 2009


Tanimura & Antle Inc. of Salinas has issued a recall for 22,000 cartons of bulk or wrapped romaine marked with the lot code 531380. The lettuce was harvested between June 25 and July 2, and sold to retail, wholesale and food service outlets across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The company is recalling the lettuce because it may be contaminated with salmonella.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

For more information go to:


The Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a “Class I, High Health Risk” recall due to contamination of beef by E. coli O157:H7.

A HIGH RISK, Class 1 recall is a “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.” Read the rest of this entry »

ecoli bacYes, that really is what E.Coli looks like.

Image: Eric Erbe/Christopher Pooley/USDA

International Meat Co., Inc., a Chicago, Ill., establishment is recalling approximately 6,152 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

For more information go to: