FOOD SAFETY SCAN: Egypt denies E coli source, sprout-related Salmonella , E coli risk reduction

Jul 7, 2011

Egypt denies it was the source of E coli strain
Egypt's agriculture ministry yesterday issued a statement denying that it is the source of Europe's Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. The ministry said that its tests on fenugreek seed samples from the warehouse of the exporter that supplied the suspected contaminated seeds were negative for the outbreak strain and that no similar illnesses have been reported in Egyptian patients. The ministry statement said the seeds could have become contaminated during handling, such as during repackaging, or that sprout water could have contained the bacteria, according to the Xinhua report.
Jul 6 Xinhua story
In other developments, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) today adjusted its outbreak totals to include only probable and confirmed cases based on updated European Union case definitions for reporting. The change lowers the outbreak totals by 153 hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) cases, 8 infections, and 7 deaths, the ECDC said in its outbreak update. However, since yesterday Germany reported 50 new E coli infections, including 8 HUS cases and 2 deaths. The outbreak total for the EU now stands at 3,768 infections, including 752 with HUS and 44 fatalities.
Jul 7 ECDC outbreak update

CDC links 4 more Salmonella infections to sprouts
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday said four more cases have been confirmed in a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak linked to an Idaho company's sprouts and warned that the products may still be in consumers' homes and on store shelves. In an outbreak notice the CDC said so far 25 patients from five states have been sickened in the outbreak. Of 10 patients with available information, 3 were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The CDC said the company, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, recalled certain lots of alfalfa and spicy sprouts on Jul 1. Expiration dates of the recalled sprouts range from Jun 22 through July 14. They were shipped to food distributors and retail stores in Washington and Idaho. Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, in its recall notice, said epidemiologic investigations have linked the sprouts to the outbreak and that laboratory tests on the sprouts are pending.
Jul 6 CDC outbreak update
Jul 1 Evergreen Fresh Sprouts recall notice

Study finds vaccination, hand washing best for reducing on-farm E coli exposure
Using a survey method called best-worst scaling (BWS), researchers solicited experts' opinions on measures to reduce on-farm human exposure to Escherichia coli and found that the 46 experts rated cattle vaccination most effective and hand washing most practical. BWS is a choice-based technique that asks respondents to make repeated choices between sets of options and is typically used for a large set of items—in this case, 99 possible interventions. The researchers note, "BWS proved a powerful tool for expert elicitation as it breaks down a cognitively burdensome process into simple, repeated tasks. In addition, statistical analysis of the resulting data provides a scaled set of scores for the measures, rather than just a ranking."
Jul 7 Epidemiol Infect abstract

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