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Grocery Health Recalls

Many Ready-To-Eat Foods Were Just Recalled For Salmonella AND Listeria Contamination

Major grocers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and 7-11 are all being affected by a major recall involving prepared vegetables nationwide.

Photo: Lance Cheung // USDA, Creative Commons 2.0

The recall spreads across tons of different prepared foods, including taquitos, ready-to-eat meal salads, sandwich wraps, sandwiches, bowls, and more. According to the USDA’s site related to the outbreak, at least 13 nationwide recalls have been connected to this overarching contamination.

Salmonella and Listeria are the two pathogens involved, and they were responsible for tainting the entire spread of prepared veggies coming from a California plant owned by supplier McCain Foods. These included caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and corn.

It was McCain’s recall of its various products as a “cautionary measure” that prompted several other food producers and retailers to follow suit, according to Food Safety News.

While most of the products are expired, any that may still be in your fridges or shelves should be discarded, according to the USDA. You can view the full list of products and recalls at this link.

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Health Recalls

6.5 Million Pounds Of Ground Beef Recalled For Salmonella Contamination

For the second time in as many months, a massive quantity of ground beef is being recalled for pathogen contamination. Last month, 132,000 pounds of Cargill ground beef were tainted by E. Coli. This time, beef producer JBS is recalling a staggering 6.5 million pounds of ground beef following an outbreak of Salmonella.

Photo: Carnivore Locavore // Flickr, CC 2.0

The recall was just announced by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), who has been involved in tracking the potential outbreak since September.

At least 57 people from 16 different states were infected by the Salmonella bacteria that was linked to the affected ground beef.

In this outbreak, the pathogenic strain contaminating the meat is Salmonella Newport, which can cause a common foodborne illness known as salmonellosis.

Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fevers that start anywhere from 12-72 hours after consuming. The disease lasts for about 4-7 days, and while most recover without a need for treatment, diarrhea can become severe enough to require hospitalization.

A host of different types of ground beef, including steakburgers and ground chuck, were affected by the recall.

You can view a full list of the products under recall here. The USDA will also update with specific locations and institutions the beef was distributed to in the future, but have stated that the meat was sent nationwide.

If you have beef in you fridge or freezer that matches up with the USDA’s list of products, you can either throw it away or return it to the place of purchase, according to the USDA’s release.

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Health News Packaged Food

Kellogg’s Just Issued A Nationwide Recall On Honey Smacks Due To Salmonella

If you’re a fan of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal and just picked a box or two up, you may want to inspect those boxes. It’s possible they’re part of a multi-state recall in effect right now.

The FDA and Kellogg’s are working together on a voluntary nationwide recall following reports of Salmonella Mbandaka illnesses linked to the cereal. Honey Smacks is the only type of cereal affected so far, with boxes with expiration dates between June 14, 2018 and June 14, 2019 under the recall.

According to warnings from the CDC and FDA, 73 people across 31 states have gotten sick as part of the outbreak so far.

In terms of distribution, the Honey Smacks involved in the recall were distributed nationwide, along with limited releases in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan.

To check if your cereal box is one of those that could be potentially contaminated with Salmonella, check the UPC code right underneath the barcode on the packaging. If the code matches one of the two in the above Facebook photo, Kellogg’s is recommending that you discard it immediately.

Salmonella is one of the top five common foodborne pathogens that contaminates US food products. Most healthy people that ingest it will experience symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, but it can be serious or even fatal in young children, elderly people, or those with weakened immune systems. Most people recover within a week without need of treatment, however.

Currently, the FDA has linked Honey Smacks to the potential multi-state outbreak of Salmonella, which is why the voluntary recall was put into effect. Kellogg’s began an investigation with their third-party supplier who makes the cereal right after being contacted by the FDA and CDC, according to a press release.

For those who purchased a box of Honey Smacks that may be contaminated, Kellogg’s is offering a refund.

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News Now Trending

Over 200 Million Eggs Recalled, 6 People Hospitalized After Salmonella Outbreak

It’s never good to hear that a food is being recalled, but it’s scarier when it’s such a common food, such as eggs.

The FDA reported that over 206 million eggs from Rose Acre Farms in Seymore, Ind. were recalled after being linked to 22 cases of Salmonella.

Nine states were affected by the voluntary recall, as Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia had eggs at risk of being contaminated.

From the 22 cases, six people have been hospitalized, but thankfully there have been no reported deaths.

The brands that use these eggs are Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, and Sunshine Farms, so if you have any of them in your fridge, you should probably return them.

Rose Acre Farms produces 2.3 million eggs a day, according to the New York Times, that means about three months worth of egg production had to be returned.

If you live in these states, and feel there’s a chance you may have been affected, be sure to watch for salmonella symptoms such as abdomen and muscle pain, chills, dehydration, fatigue, fever, headaches, diarrhea, bloody stool, or even loss of appetite.

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Grocery Health News Now Trending

Deadly Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak Traced Back To Mexican Papayas

If you’ve purchased some fresh papayas recently, you may want to consider throwing them out ASAP.

A massive multi-state outbreak has begun that’s been linked back to fresh Maradol papayas. So far, 47 people across a dozen different states have fallen ill, with twelve victims being hospitalized and one person in New York City dying due to the Salmonella, according to statements posted by the FDA, CDC, and Maryland Department of Health.

At least two different strains of Salmonella have been identified so far in this outbreak, both of which cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and fever. Symptoms can begin anywhere between six and 72 hours after being exposed to the pathogen, with young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems more likely to suffer severe infections.

No recalls have yet to be issued, as the FDA and CDC are both still looking into exactly how many brands and cultivars of papaya have been affected by this outbreak. For now, they are confident in saying we should all avoid consuming Maradol papayas, especially those from the brand Caribeña. More information about which papayas are safe or not will come as the investigations continue.

If you’re not entirely sure if a papaya you purchased is of the Maradol variety, ask the establishment you bought it from. When in doubt, throw it out and be sure to sanitize anywhere the papayas were placed.

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Health Packaged Food Products Science

9 Tragic Food Outbreaks That Still Horrify Us Today

It seems that nowadays, we can’t go a full week without hearing news about some food product getting recalled due to some contamination or adulteration. Over the past half century, food poisoning has gained a lot of attention, especially here in the United States, as food safety disasters, mainly caused by fecal contamination, occasionally turn into horrific, tragic tales.

Food safety is of the utmost importance, so it’s crucial for the food industry to learn from the mistakes companies within it have made that have not just cost dollars, but also lives. Here are some of the most tragic food poisoning outbreaks that have occurred over the past half century. May we hope to never be a part of or witness one as bad as these again.

Hepatitis A In Green Onions (2003)

A Pennsylvania location of a now-extinct chain restaurant called Chi-Chi’s unknowingly sickened over 500 customers due to some green onions they received from Mexico that were contaminated with Hepatitis A. The green onions were added into salsa and chili con queso that gave people symptoms ranging in severity from vomiting to jaundice, a liver condition that causes skin and eyes to turn slightly yellow. Three people unfortunately died from the outbreak, likely due to the fatal acute liver failure that Hepatitis A can cause. To date, this is the largest outbreak of Hepatitis A in the United States.

Listeria-Contaminated Cantaloupes (2011)

Rocky Mountain Cantaloupe that was distributed across at least 28 different states was found to be adulterated with Listeria after 147 were infected in late 2011. Of those 147, 33 passed away, including at least one confirmed miscarriage of a baby, as a result of listeriosis (the disease caused by Listeria). After investigations by the CDC and FDA, owners of the farm responsible, Jensen Family Farm, pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of distributing tainted food. The farm was also forced into bankruptcy as a result of the outbreak, which is one of the deadliest recorded in United States history.

Mexican Cucumbers Tainted With Salmonella (2015)

In 2015, imported Mexican cucumbers that carried a strain of Salmonella on them were sold across 38 different states. The count of those infected by the cucumbers rose to as many as 767, with 157 of those being hospitalized and four confirmed deaths resulting from the outbreak. All of the imported cucumbers, which were brought into the US by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, ended up being recalled, but the damage was already wrought upon those who were unfortunate enough to consume them.

Hot Dogs Infected With Listeria (1998-1999)

Multiple hot dog brands, including Ball Park and Sara Lee Deli Meat, were responsible for an outbreak of Listeria that infected 108, killed 14 people, and resulted in four miscarriages. All of the hot dogs responsible were traced back to the Bil Mar Foods plant owned by Sara Lee, who issued a recall that halted the outbreak almost immediately. Sara Lee ended up paying $4.4 million to settle civil and criminal charges.

Jack In The Box’s Burger E. Coli Scare (1993)

Many people regard this as the food safety outbreak that put E. Coli on the map as a pathogen to watch out for. Considering it happened at a major fast food chain like Jack In The Box, infected over 500, and killed four people, it’s not hard to see why. The causative agent here was a “Monster burger” that tended to be served undercooked, making it a great environment for E. Coli O157:H7 to grow in. This strain of E. Coli can cause something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), leading to kidney failure in some who become infected. Since then, the Monster burger has been taken off of the menu, but the legacy of food poisoning in fast food and E. Coli O157:H7 both live on.

Peanut Corporation of America’s Salmonella Peanut Butter (2009)

This outbreak absolutely sucks because it could have been avoided. The Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped out Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter across the entire country, infecting over 700 people in 46 states. Nine of those people allegedly died as a result of their infections, which were eventually traced back to the Peanut Corporation and the obstruction of justice was discovered by inspectors. The owner of the company eventually got 28 years in prison for the company’s actions, which is to date the harshest punishment levied on someone for a food-borne illness case in U.S. history.

Baby Spinach From Dole Found To Contain E. Coli (2006)

Over 200 people across 26 states got ill after eating this tainted spinach, which was found to be contaminated with E. Coli O157:H7. Half were hospitalized, 31 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and three eventually passed away due to kidney failure. The recall was so bad that the FDA issued daily warnings for a week telling people to not eat any spinach, something they had never had to do before. While the spinach was eventually traced back to Dole, the shock of this recall reverberated across the entire country. Leafy greens purchases would take a decade to recover following this spinach outbreak.

Listeria in Raw Milk Cheese (1985)

Los Angeles County was rocked by this outbreak, which lasted for eight months, led to 28 deaths and 20 miscarriages, and infected over 140 people in total. The causative agent was discovered to be soft cheese produced by Jalisco, who was found to be using unpasteurized milk to create their cheeses. Since then, the FDA and USDA regularly issue advisories about the potential dangers of consuming unpasteurized milk that could contain Listeria amongst other food-borne pathogens. Raw milk recalls and deaths still happen every now and then unfortunately, but none matches the magnitude of what happened in SoCal in 1985.

China’s Infamous Melamine Milk Scandal (2008)

This is arguably the most tragic of any food illness outbreak to have occurred ever. In 2008, thousands of infants in China who drank Sanlu baby formula were hospitalized with kidney problems. Six of those children, unfortunately, passed away before investigations uncovered that the baby formula had been tainted with melamine. This chemical has often been used to trick analyzers testing for protein concentrations to make formulas seem more nutritious than they were.

A horrible side effect of melamine, however, was that it would react with another compound in the formula called cyanuric acid to form crystals in the infants’ kidneys that result in severe damage, and in some cases, kidney failure. In total, nearly 300,000 children were sickened by the melamine-tainted formula, resulting in legal punishment of several Sanlu company leaders and the execution of two people who intentionally laced melamine into the milk.

Hopefully, nothing on the scale of Sanlu, or any of the other outbreaks, happens again. Food safety is still, as always, a major concern of the food industry, and one can only hope that nobody misses anything that turns deadly.

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Hit-Or-Miss

CDC Warns People To Stop ‘Kissing’ and ‘Snuggling’ Live Poultry, Because Salmonella

Chickens are food, not pets, and people getting lovey-dovey with backyard flocks seem to be one of the main causes of Salmonella outbreaks in the U.S. this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out an “Outbreak Advisory” on June 1, where they interviewed 228 of the 372 victims of Salmonella poisoning this year. Of those 228 people, 190 (83 percent) of them admitted to coming into contact with live “backyard” poultry before getting sick.

With this crucial information in hand, the CDC basically said to cut that shit out, or at least thoroughly wash your hands after playing with those cuddly chickens or ducks.

Scariest of all, 36 of the those affected by Salmonella are children under 5, so parents, make sure you wash your kids’ hands after fowl play and keep an eye on them so they don’t start licking them, because that’s what little kids do. They lick everything.

The four major health tips provided were to wash your hands, don’t allow live poultry in your house, don’t let small children play with them unsupervised, and don’t snuggle, kiss, or eat around the birds.

If we can keep this chicken love under control, we can all avoid Salmonella outbreaks.

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Health News Products

Powdered Milk Contamination Has Already Affected Over 20 Major Brands

Milk

Photo: Legal Reader

In the food industry, there’s many different levels of food producers. From companies that harvest and distribute fresh produce, to businesses that convert foods into ingredient items like powdered milk and fruit juice concentrates, to producers that use those ingredients to make everything from Twinkies to chef-quality ravioli, it’s a complex system of connectivity.

When it comes to ingredients manufacturers, several companies will often purchase from the same supplier. So, if that supplier is affected by a food contamination outbreak and recall, all of the businesses that purchased ingredients from that supplier are affected as well, creating a catastrophic amount of recalls and turning into a massive nightmare for the food industry.

You hope that these outbreaks don’t happen. Unfortunately, one of these began a couple of months ago and has grown to affect over TWENTY different businesses.

Food Safety News, who has been keeping track of all of the recalls related to this original supplier, first reported the supplier’s “recall” in November. I have recall in quotes because it wasn’t as much of a recall as it was a seizure and forced recall.

Milk ingredients producer, Valley Milk Products, was found to have Salmonella in their plant in Strasburg, Virginia. This was based on company records that showed Salmonella to have contaminated their plant as well as some powdered milk and buttermilk products. Usually, when this happens, a company reports it to the FDA immediately, whereupon recalls and the sanitation process can begin, similar to what happened with Sabra’s voluntary hummus recall late last year.

Valley Milk Products, however, chose to not report their findings to the FDA, and the test results weren’t uncovered until a surprise inspection from the FDA in late September. Afterwards, the FDA requested armed US Marshals to seize over 4 million pounds of powdered milk products from the Strasburg facility, and began informing companies who use the powdered milk products that there was a Salmonella contamination issue with that ingredient. Valley Milk Products also had to recall an additional 3.1 million pounds of powdered milk products a couple of weeks later, bringing their total losses to over $7 million from this seizure and recall.

While the FDA doesn’t make full reports of their inspections public, they did release a statement regarding the Valley Milk Products inspection following the seizure. They noted that along with the salmonella contamination, there were extremely poor sanitary conditions in the milk processing plant, and did ask Valley Milk Products to conduct a voluntary recall. It was the refusal of this voluntary recall that led to the seizure of their products.

Since then, several companies have issued voluntary recalls of their own products that contain the contaminated powdered milk, doing their best to ensure that Salmonella exposure to the public is limited. Considering Salmonella is one of the more infamous food-borne pathogens, and can be fatal in elderly, infant, or sick populations. Healthy populations can still experience gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, and sometimes even develop severe arthritis.

For those of you wondering what types of products have been recalled containing the powdered milk, here is a compiled list, courtesy of Food Safety News:

Pancake and Waffle mixes (Publix, Stonewall Kitchen, New Hope Mills)
Mac and Cheese (Treehouse Foods, Fourth Street Barbecue/Dollar Tree/Aldi’s)
Monkey Bread (Brand Castle)
Seasoned Chips (Shearer’s Snacks, Old Dutch Foods, Snyder, Dieffenbach’s, Route 11, Mikesells)
Frozen Eclairs and Creampuffs (Simply Enjoy)
Baked Goods (Safeway/Albertson’s/HEB,Twinkies)
Baking Mixes (Williams-Sonoma, House-Autry Mills)
Cheesy Snack Crackers (Houdini/Costco)
Bulk Candies (Palmer,Walmart/Publix, Dutch Valley)
Seasoning Mixes (Tupperware)

Dairy definitely encompasses a wide variety of products, and with the level of supply Valley Milk Products had going on, there’s no wonder so many businesses and products were affected. The good news is that all of these above recalls were voluntary, Salmonella wasn’t detected in their actual products, and no illnesses related to the outbreak have been reported. That’s in part thanks to all of these companies being highly vigilant in their part of the recall process.

As for Valley Milk Products, there’s no telling what their future will hold. As one of the largest powdered milk suppliers that has ceased production for now, it definitely hurts a lot of companies that rely on the powdered milk for product manufacturing. There’s also the consideration of criminal charges that has to be taken into account.

Likely, Valley Milk will face similar charges as food industry giant ConAgra, who recently paid an $8 million fine and lost an additional $3.2 million in assets for a misdemeanor charge related to a massive peanut butter outbreak a decade ago. ConAgra knowingly distributed Salmonella-containing peanuts to distributors like Peter Pan, where a massive Salmonella outbreak infecting over 700 people was traced back to.

While this contamination has involved no illnesses so far, Valley Milk and ConAgra have committed similar crimes of knowingly distributing contaminated products. While ConAgra’s was more serious and led to the largest fine in food criminal history, Valley Milk still has a lot to answer for — and its accountability spreads to a much larger section of the food industry.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the recall process, as several companies are still recalling products weekly.