FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: Salmonella in chicken livers, North Carolina finds E coli outbreak source, tomato Salmonella contamination

Nov 10, 2011

CDC reports 157 salmonellosis cases in NY, NJ
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today it is among the agencies investigating a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to contaminated, partially cooked kosher chicken livers. Schreiber Processing Corp. has recalled an unspecified amount of its chicken liver products. The CDC said in August it identified a sustained higher-than-expected number of Salmonella Heidelberg isolates in New York and New Jersey matching the outbreak strain, which has a genetic pattern that commonly occurs in the United States. Some cases may not be related to the outbreak, it added. Typically, the two states would expect about 5 illnesses with the Salmonella Heidelberg strain per month, but in June through August they reported 30 to 40 cases a month. The CDC said a total of 157 illnesses were reported from the two states and that no significant baseline increases were seen in other states. Among people with available information in the two states, the illnesses began on or after Mar 13. Patients range in age from younger than 1 to 97 years old. Of 125 patients with available information, 21 (17%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The CDC said broiled chicken livers appear ready to eat, but must be fully cooked before eating. New York state laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain in chicken liver samples and in chopped liver made from the company's products. Yesterday New York officials said illnesses have been identified in three other states, and reports from individual states suggested as many as 169 cases might be linked to the outbreak.
Nov 10 CDC outbreak notice
Nov 9 CIDRAP News story

NC officials identify E coli outbreak source
North Carolina health officials said today that they have pinpointed the source of an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak to a specific building at the North Carolina State Fair. The event took place in Raleigh from Oct 13 through Oct 23. The infections were transmitted in the Kelley Building, a permanent structure where sheep, goats, and pigs are housed during livestock shows, according to a statement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). The source was identified with a detailed case-control study that included 27 patients who got sick after attending the fair and 87 people who attended the fair but didn't become ill. Megan Davies, state epidemiologist, said in the statement that the illnesses are likely related to animal contact, though no specific animal or breed was implicated.
Nov 10 NCDHHS press release

Study:Tomato leaves can be portals to Salmonella contamination
Researchers have shown for the first time that Salmonella can enter tomato plants through leaves and can contaminate fruit, though they say it doesn't happen easily and would be unlikely in field conditions. The group from the University of Florida published the findings yesterday in PLoS One. They dipped one leaf from 84 into a solution that contained a high concentration of Salmonella Typhimurium and a surfactant that farmers use to keep pesticides and fungicides on the plants. The control group contained 42 plants. After the first 10-month phase, the team found Salmonella contamination in nine tomatoes from one inoculated plant. In a second trial that replicated the study, Salmonella was found in adjacent noninoculated plants, plus 12 tomatoes from plants that were inoculated with different strains of Salmonella. Dr Ariena van Bruggen, the study's lead author, said in a press release that though the lab conditions presented a worst-case scenario, the findings are a reminder for farms to review their safety systems, especially focusing on factors such as irrigation water, wild animal incursions, and the use of surfactants, which seemed to enhance initial Salmonella colonization.
Nov 9 PLoS One abstract
Nov 9 University of Florida press release

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