NEWS SCAN: Expanded E coli beef alert, food safety Web tool, new H3N2v case, dengue in Florida, UK pertussis

Sep 28, 2012

FSIS broadens warning for recalled Canadian beef
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today expanded its public health alert for beef produced by Canada's XL Foods, Inc., to all products produced on five dates, according to a statement from the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The move was prompted by an expansion of the company's recall that covers all beef produced Aug 24, 27, 28, and 29 and Sep 5. Earlier this month FSIS tests detected Escherichia coli O157:H7 in a sample of the company's boneless beef trim, which sparked the company's recall in Canada along with an investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Ground beef components from the company were distributed to eight US states: California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. So far, no illnesses in the US or Canada have been linked to ground beef made with the company's products, though eight Canadian illnesses have been connected to the company's steaks that were mechanically tenderized and sold through a Costco store.
Sep 28 FSIS news release
Sep 27 CIDRAP News story "USDA expands health alert for recalled Canadian beef"
In a related development, the CFIA announced yesterday that that XL Foods hasn't implemented correction measures or presented adequate plans to address longer-term food safety issues, so the CFIA has temporarily suspended the company's operating license and have detained all products at the plant.
Sep 27 CFIA statement

New online tool for consumer reporting of food safety concerns
The FSIS yesterday released an online Electronic Consumer Complaint Form to allow people to report illnesses, allergic reactions, injuries, improper labeling, and the presence of foreign objects in foods to the Consumer Complaint Monitoring System (CCMS). As noted in a USDA press release, "Consumers are an important source of the information that FSIS needs to ensure that America's supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe," and this new tool empowers them to supply that information easily. Previously, incidents were normally reported through district FSIS offices, state and local health departments, or the USDA's Meat and Poultry hotline, but these avenues of communication were limited by, for example, business hours. The new reporting form is available at https://ccms.fsis.usda.gov and can be used 24 hours a day. It ensures that incident reports are thorough, accurate, and in a standard format for evaluation and follow-up by FSIS personnel.
Sep 27 USDA press release
H3N2v flu cases rise by 1 to 306
A newly identified swine-origin variant H3N2 (H3N2v) flu case in Ohio has brought the national total to 306, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly influenza update. The states with the most cases are Indiana, 138; Ohio, 107; Wisconsin, 20; Maryland, 12; and Pennsylvania, 11. The agency said that although some human-to-human H3N2v transmission has occurred, there have yet to be any reports of sustained transmission. All seasonal flu indicators point to low flu activity, which is typical for this time of year.
Sep 28 CDC update

Miami area reports first locally acquired 2012 dengue case
The Miami area has recorded its first case this year of locally acquired dengue, the Miami-Dade County Health Department (MDCHD) said yesterday. The patient is a woman in her late 60s who developed a fever early this month and had no history of travel, the Miami Herald reported. Lab tests confirmed dengue, which is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Officials are urging the public to remove standing water to discourage mosquito breeding. Dade County confirmed several cases of locally acquired dengue in 2010 and 2011.
Sep 27 MDCHD press release
Sep 27 Miami Herald story

Pertussis vaccine offered to pregnant UK women
The number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases in the United Kingdom reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) so far this year have almost quadrupled over 2011 levels, prompting a move to vaccinate pregnant women against the disease to lessen their newborns' risk of exposure. The number of confirmed cases reported through the end of August was 4,791, compared with 1,118 in all of 2011, the HPA said in a news release. Furthermore, nine infants aged 3 months or younger have died; babies are not normally vaccinated against pertussis until 2 to 4 months of age. Although the disease can affect all ages, young infants are at highest risk of severe complications. The UK's Department of Health, besides encouraging pregnant women to receive vaccination, are urging all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated and to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Sep 28 HPA press release

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