FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: E coli outbreak linked to deer, more Salmonella cases, peanut butter Salmonella review

Aug 18, 2011

Tests link deer feces to strawberry E coli outbreak
Public health officials in Oregon yesterday confirmed that deer feces found in strawberry fields in two counties were the source of Escherichia coli O157:H7 that sickened 15 people in July, one fatally. Katrina Hedberg, MD, MPH, said in a statement from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) that six samples from the deer feces matched the outbreak strain that was isolated from patients. The feces were from strawberry fields in Washington and Yamhill counties. Strawberries from the affected fields were marketed in July by Jaquith Strawberry Farm. The products are no longer on the market, because the company's strawberry season has ended. The company recalled the products. Health officials have asked consumers who still have frozen strawberries or uncooked jam made from them to throw the products out.
Aug 17 OHA press release

Case count in Salmonella outbreak tied to ground turkey rises to 111
Four more cases of Salmonella Heidelberg illness have been reported in the ongoing multistate outbreak linked to ground turkey, raising the total to 111, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today. The number of states affected remained at 31, the same as reported last week. Twenty-seven (37%) of 73 patients with available information have been hospitalized with the antibiotic-resistant pathogen, versus 25 (39%) of 64 a week ago. One person has died of the illness, as reported previously. Illnesses were reported between Feb 27 and Aug 9, the CDC said. The outbreak has been linked to ground turkey from a Cargill processing plant in Springdale, Ark.; on Aug 3 the company recalled nearly 36 million pounds of the product.
Aug 18 CDC update

Report dissects widespread peanut butter Salmonella outbreak of 2008-09
A postmortem on the big Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products from Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) in 2008 and 2009 was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state health departments says 714 cases were identified in 46 states, with 166 hospitalizations and 9 deaths. The outbreak was traced to peanut butter and other peanut products from PCA facilities in Georgia and Texas, but the ultimate cause of the contamination was never ascertained. Possible sources of contamination at the Georgia plant included rainwater leaks, raw and roasted peanuts stored close together, and possibly inadequate roaster temperatures. A total of 3,918 peanut butter–containing products were recalled because of the outbreak. "The investigation of focal clusters of cases in institutional settings, especially reviewing invoices for foods common among institutions, and rapid trace-back of the suspected food to the point of manufacture provided critical clues in this outbreak," the article states. It says the outbreak contributed to various new food safety efforts, including the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Reportable Food Registry, which requires industry officials to inform the FDA of potentially contaminated food within 24 hours.
Aug 18 NEJM abstract

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