Food Safety News
When an expert like James Marsden, Distinguished Regents Professor of Food Science at Kansas State University, starts talking about processing aids, it’s as if a menu of choices pops up in his head. The professor is best known for his work on reducing Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli in beef, so he’s very familiar with the intervention methods that achieve this.
But in going down the list of processing aids that might be used to eliminate E. coli before it can reach consumers, it’s clear there are some choices that would be wiser for producers than others.
“While the very definition of a processing aid is a substance used in food production that are not present in any concerning amount in the end product, they are not always without controversy. Two that come to mind are the industrial-like ammonia process used by Beef Products Inc. to make its lean finely textured beef that the public came to know as ‘pink slime’ and the transglutaminase powder known as ‘meat glue.’”
The USDA has a zero-tolerance policy for seven strains of E. coli.
“It’s very hard to achieve that,” says Marsden.
But one thing that helps producers in this effort is processing aids.
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture approve processing aids for foods ranging from meat and poultry to other food products. They are not supposed to change the appearance or taste of the product in any way and, more importantly, they cannot negatively impact food safety or public health.
Anything added to food, including processing agents, is regulated as a food additive. That means the processing agent must be “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, in order to be approved for use in foods. Food additives and processing agents are either on the GRAS list because of their history of safety, or because companies who use them have gone though scientific processes to prove their safety.
Processing aids are not considered ingredients, however, and therefore are not required to be listed on ingredient lists on nutrition labels.
Both agencies recognize three types of processing aids: those that are used and removed, those that are converted into components that naturally occur at insignificant levels without changing the finished product, and some that remain in food at low levels without any technical or functional effect.
Not all processing aids are as complicated as BPI’s ammonia process or transglutaminase. Take hot water and steam, for example. Thermal processing of beef carcasses using hot water and/or steam is a processing aid that’s been highly effective in reducing E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens, according to Janet Riley at the American Meat Institute. Hot water and steam leave no residues and have no lasting effect on the product.
Marsden says the use of high-pressure washes in ready-to-eat lunchmeats and hot dogs have virtually eliminated Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes the infection listeriosis, in these products. As recently as the late 1980s, Listeria contamination seemed to some to be an insolvable problem for the ready-to-eat products.
Killing antimicrobials is just one of the functions processing aids play during the food production process. Others include removing impurities, preventing crystallization, controlling pH levels, controlling bacteria in chill water, scalding agents that remove feathers, and others.
Not every solution can be applied to every product, however. For example, restrictions on Kosher and Halal meats dictate that thermal processes cannot be used. And processing aids that are effective on one pathogen strain might not work on another. That’s something Marsden is dealing with now, as there are six strains of E. coli that have recently been banned from beef, in addition to E. coli O157:H7, which has been banned since 1993.
Only insignificant amounts at safe levels should remain in the food once a processing agent is used, but Marsden says food companies must be aware of how the consumers view chemicals.
Some the public accept without a second thought, such as using lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid, which have not raised consumer concern.
Fruit and vegetable washes, which are often comprised of organic acids or chlorine, have also raised little concern. The addition of ammonia to lean finely textured beef , on the other hand, became so controversial that almost all beef companies stopped using product processed this way when it gained national attention in the spring of 2012. Transglutaminase powder, or ‘meat glue,’ as mentioned above, has also raised consuer concern over the past couple years.
Vernon Hershberger was not the first and won’t be the last of the raw milk outlaws to get off or get mostly off by a jury — his recent trial did give an economic development boost to tiny Baraboo, WI.
The town was filled with food freedom celebrities and raw milk adherents for the weeklong event that ended with Hershberger being found not guilty on three of the four charges. While Hershberger still faces a year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine, the food freedom movement declared the outcome a big win.
They also said it has some kind of larger significance, suggesting that in the future prosecutors will shy away from taking these Forrest Gump-like characters to trial. I agree there is a lesson in the Baraboo trial for state and local prosecutors when it comes to these raw milk outlaws. The lesson is not to shy away from jury trials, but to re-think the charges that are brought.
The charges upon which the jury found Hershberger not guilty involved his going without certain licenses and operating a so-called “buyers club” that state saw as a retail business. It came across as bureaucratic stuff; just the kind the jury could come to see as unfair just before it fell asleep.
The one count upon which Hershberger was found guilty was violating the state’s hold order on his milk and food that was placed under police tape on June 2, 2010. His supporters say he admitted it, but it is also the only one of the four counts the jury could easily visualize. Everybody knows its illegal to cut those police seals, it’s even taught on NCIS.
No, the problem is not bringing Vernon Hershberger or Alvin Schlangen, who is another who got off in neighboring Minnesota, to jury trials. No, the trouble is bringing charges that do not deliver the injured into the courtroom.
As I’ve said before, everybody in America can drink raw milk if they so desire. Get a cow and have at it. As we learn in Economics 101, if someone thinks they wants to drink raw milk but ends up not doing so, they’ve given up raw milk due solely to their own peculiar economic desires, not the law.
Pasteurization, one of the greatest food safety advances of modern society was embraced after massive killing outbreaks early in the 20ths century in cities like Boston and Portland. In researching those historic events, one finds the dairies that were responsible were not the schlock operations. Instead, they were heralded for their food safety records up until the time of their disasters.
Then, time, temperature and distance caught up with them. Those are the Achilles heels of raw milk. Next time some Forrest Gump is bought into court, let’s have the charges be for criminal negligence for the injury or injuries to people sickened by raw milk.
Let’s put those victims and their relatives in the courtroom and let them hang around the town square for the time of the trial, doing media interviews. Let the folks hear from mothers like Mary McGonigle-Martin, who nearly lost her son Christopher Martin to raw milk. Then we will see just how popular raw milk is with a jury.
Unfair you say? I don’t think so. We are not talking about the right to drink raw milk here. We covered that already. See the part about the cow.
We are talking about the organization and structure of commercial enterprises to sell raw milk at retail prices to the public. So when that delivery to the last few “private food club” members in the city ends up being a bridge too far, and toxin growth permanently injures an innocent child, somebody should be held criminally responsible.
Unsuspecting children are the victims of these enterprises, and prosecutors need to focus on those stories and not let them get bogged down on license cases.
Indeed we are either going to see stepped up prosecution of these criminal enterprises or wait for the inevitable return of the Boston or Portland size outbreak of early 20th Century. The cure-all claims and other medicine show-like promotions of raw milk to city dwellers is not going to end well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on May 31, 2013, 30 people ill with acute hepatitis A may be linked with consumption of Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix. Illnesses thus far have been reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. These numbers are expected to change (increase) as the investigation continues. This weekend thousands of people are receiving hepatitis A vaccinations or Ig shots to prevent the hepatitis A infection. Many are worried if they are too late for treatment and are awaiting symptoms.
According to the CDC, preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from two cases suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.
In April 2012, eight cases of hepatitis A were reported in British Columbia possibly linked to frozen berries according to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). The BCCDC warned consumers not to eat Pomeberry Blend frozen berries manufactured by Western Family. The blend, which was distributed through Save-On-Foods and Overwaitea, contained frozen pomegranate seeds, blueberries, strawberries and cherries. Although there is no direct link, the BCCDC suggested that as a precaution, individuals who had the Pomeberry Blend product in their refrigerator or freezer should not to consume it.
In early May 2013, Eurosurveillance reported at least 71 people in Europe sickened with Hepatitis A in an outbreak believed to be linked to frozen berries served in smoothies. The hepatitis A outbreak was first announced in Denmark on March 1, 2013. A case–control study identified frozen berries eaten in smoothies as the potential vehicle for the illnesses. In the following weeks, Finland, Norway and Sweden also identified an increased number of hepatitis A patients. Most cases reported having eaten frozen berries at the time of exposure. By April 17, 71 cases were noted in the four countries. There were 35 people sickened in Denmark and another 36 sickened between Finland, Norway and Sweden. Illnesses began as early as October 1, 2012.
No specific type of berry, brand or origin of berries has been identified.
On May 29 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that it was working closely with the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) to help identify the origin of another recent outbreak of hepatitis A virus infection in Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. All 15 infected people had traveled to Trento and Bolzano, in Italy.
The joint report noted that preliminary investigations have identified frozen berries as the most likely source of infection. According to the ECDC, Since January 1, 2013, 15 laboratory-confirmed cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. A large number of cases reported consumption of berries prior to disease onset. In addition, hepatitis A was isolated from a pack of mixed frozen berries at the residence of one of the cases.
It will be interesting in the post-mortem if United States health officials, Townsend Farms and retailers missed the warnings of this frozen berry treat.
This case count includes 7 more illnesses than the 11 reported on May 21.
BBQ Shack restaurant in Toccoa, GA is the suspected source of the E. coli bacteria, which was confirmed as the source of 11 of the 18 cases through lab analysis. The other 7 cases are suspected, reported OnlineAthens.
Several of the victims were hospitalized as a result of their infections, and five developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infection that leads to kidney failure.
These five patients are recovering, a press officer for the local health department told OnlineAthens.
The outbreak appears to be over, and to have lasted only a short time, according to health officials. Patients fell ill between May 4 and May 8, 2013. No cases with onset dates after May 8 have been reported.
“The risk is gone,” said Nancy Nydam, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Among the potential vehicles of the bacteria identified by investigators is iced tea served at the restaurant.
“We’re looking at everything on the Menu,” Nydam told OnlineAthens Friday.
A worker at the restaurant tested positive for the virus, prompting the Allen County Health Department to issue a public health advisory.
The Department is urging customers who ate or drank at the 800 Degrees Three Fires restaurant on Illinois Road between May 18 and May 26, 2013 to get the hepatitis A vaccine if they have not already had it.
The vaccine will be provided free of charge at the Southwest Allen County Schools Transportation Center at 4814 Homestead Road at the following times:
- Saturday, June 1 from Noon.-8 p.m.
- Sunday, June 2 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The clinic will be set up as a drive-thru so that people can receive the vaccine from their cars.
“We are asking these restaurant patrons to get this vaccination as a precautionary measure,” said Allen County Health Commissioner Deborah McMahan in a statement Friday. “Those who are having symptoms of the illness should not come to the vaccination clinic but should seek medical attention.”
The vaccine will not be effective for patrons who visited the restaurant before May 18, notes the health department, but individuals experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A infection should seek medical attention.
Symptoms of hepatitis A infection generally appear two to six weeks after exposure, and include fever, nausea loss of appetite, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
The virus is highly contagious, and spreads from person to person via the fecal-oral route.
To date, none of the restaurant’s other employees have tested positive for hepatitis A, nor have any cases been reported among patrons.
“The best way to control the spread of hepatitis A and many other illnesses is through proper hand washing, especially after using the restroom, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food,” advises the health department. “Hand washing should include 20 seconds of vigorous soaping of all parts of the hands, especially between fingers and under fingernails.”
A new outbreak of a hepatitis A strain rarely seen in the Western Hemisphere is believed to be associated with frozen mixed berries purchased from Costco is being investigated by multiple agencies, including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. At least 30 illnesses are involved, including sicknesses in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries purchased from Costco appear to be the source of this outbreak.
The outbreak strain has been identified by CDC as hepatitis A virus (HAV) genotype 1B, a strain that circulates in North Africa and the Middle East. It was associated with last year’s outbreak in Europe involving frozen berries and another in British Columbia involving frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.
According to the label, The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix associated with illness contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the US, Argentina, Chile, and Turkey. The product is a blend of cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and strawberries. Costco has removed this product from its shelves, but has not yet issued a formal recall.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the product, including testing berries for the Hepatitis A virus, which may take several weeks.
Colorado public health officials say three women and two men in the state, from ages 35 to 71, were stricken with hepatitis A. They are from Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek and Jefferson Counties. The state has asked people to discard the berry product if they have it in their freezers.
The risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating these berries is low, according to the Colorado public health warning. “However, if you have eaten Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries during the past 14 days, contact your medical provider for an immunization. If you do not have a medical provider, contact your local health department,” advises the health department.
The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Some people should receive immune globulin instead of the hepatitis A vaccine.
If you ate the affected berries within the past 14 days, please discuss with your doctor whether you should receive the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin. If you have received the hepatitis A vaccine in the past, you do not need to be revaccinated.
If it has been more than 14 days since you have eaten these berries, the vaccine won’t be effective preventing infection. Please monitor for symptoms and contact your physician if you become ill.
Early signs of hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine and jaundice (yellow eyes or skin). It is very important if you have these symptoms that you do not go to work, especially if you work in food service, health care or child care.
The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can be severe and can result in hospitalization.
Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly infectious. People with symptoms suggestive of a hepatitis infection should consult a physician immediately, even if symptoms are mild.
Hepatitis A virus is spread via the fecal-oral route, and may be transferred from person to person through close contact or through food handling. Contaminated food or beverages commonly spread the virus. People are at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis A when they have been in close contact with an infected person.
The end of any legislative session can get a little chaotic.
In Carson City, they’re having end-of-session parties this weekend with adjournment coming no later than Monday, but the already passed Assembly Bill (AB) 209 still has not made its way to the Governor’s desk.
Asked Thursday whether Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has taken any action on AB 209 — making it legal to distribute raw milk statewide — press secretary Mary-Sarah Kinner told Food Safety News, “We will review the bill when we receive it.”
The Nevada Legislature’s website lists the bill’s status as of May 28 as “enrollment.” Typically that means getting the bill signed by the presiding officers of both legislative chambers before it is transmitted to the Governor.
When the bill is delivered to the Executive’s desk is important. If he receives it while the Legislature is still in session, he has five days to sign or veto the bill. If he does neither, it becomes law without his signature. If the Legislature is adjourned when the Governor receives the bill, he gets ten days to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.
AB 209 passed through both chambers of the Nevada Legislature with only a handful of votes against it, and won final passage on May 24. It’s now the missing element in a carefully drawn plan by a Nye County dairy to bring raw milk to Nevada’s sprawling Las Vegas market.
Late in 2012, the mammoth but sparsely populated Nye County established a milk commission empowered to allow local raw milk sales from the dairy. But without AB 209, it is illegal for Nye County raw milk to be distributed statewide.
Gov. Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, will now decide AB 209′s fate. The top state health officer appointed by the last three Governors including Sandoval opposed the bill in the Legislature without success. Current law allows raw milk approved for sale in California to be sold in Nevada, but that provision would go away if Sandoval opts to sign AB 209.
In addition to hearing how much his Legislature wants the bill signed into law, Sandoval is also hearing how badly the national dairy industry wants him to veto it. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) have urged Nevada’s chief executive to veto the measure.
The national dairy industry, representing pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products, believes its food safety reputation is undercut by the numerous outbreaks caused by raw milk and raw milk products.
“Gambling with the health of your state’s residents –- particularly its children -– is a bad bet,” NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said . “While choice is an important value, it should not pre-empt consumers’ well-being.”
He compared consumption of unpasteurized milk to a game of Russian roulette.
The dairy industry leaders are joining victims of raw milk caused illnesses to urge the Governor to veto AB 209.
The 100K Pathogen Genome Project at the University of California, Davis–which was launched in 2012 as a collaborative project with Agilent Technologies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration–announced this week it has sequenced the genomes of its first 10 infectious microorganisms, including strains of Salmonella and Listeria.
The project, which has been joined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and several corporate partners, is now a worldwide effort.
“We are creating a free, online encyclopedia or reference database of genomes so that during a foodborne disease outbreak, scientists and public health professionals can quickly identify the responsible microorganism and track its source in the food supply using automated information-handling methods,” said Professor Bart Weimer, director of the 100K Genome Project and co-director of BGI@UC Davis, the Sacramento facility where the sequencing is carried out.
Weimer estimates that the availability of this genomic information will cut in half the time necessary to diagnose and treat foodborne illnesses, and will enable scientists to make discoveries that can be used to develop new methods for controlling disease-causing microorganisms in the food chain, according to a release by UC Davis.
The project is dedicated to sequencing the genomes of 100,000 bacteria and viruses that cause serious foodborne illnesses in people around the world.
The initial 10 genome sequences mark the first in a series that the project will enter into a publicly available database at the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Institutes of Health.
“This initial release validates the entire process, from start to finish, of acquiring the bacterium, producing the genome sequence, and making automated public releases,” Weimer said.
A genome is the complete collection of an organism’s hereditary information.
Weimer said that the 100K Genome Project currently is sequencing a second set of 1,500 microbial genomes, with an anticipated release in the fall of 2013.
Japan, the largest international buyer of U.S. wheat, has canceled its tender to buy U.S. white wheat after the discovery of a test strain of Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat had been found on an Oregon wheat farmer’s land, Reuters reports.
Monsanto tested the Roundup-resistant wheat from 1998 to 2005, but it was never approved for consumption. The agriculture company abandoned the project due to international rejection of genetically modified (GM) cereals.
Japan and other Asian countries remain skeptical of GM foods, and Japan has approved only a select number of GM products for human consumption, including corn, but not wheat.
The GM wheat was discovered when an Oregon wheat farmer tried spraying an undesired patch with Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, but the weedkiller — to the farmer’s surprise — didn’t do the job.
The farmer then contacted Oregon State University researchers who determined the wheat contained genes from Monsanto’s abandoned wheat project. The crop otherwise consisted of natural wheat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is now investigating whether the GM wheat in Oregon is an isolated issue or the genes have spread to other crops. There is no scientific evidence that suggests GM wheat is unfit for consumption.
Monsanto’s strains of genetically modified corn and soybeans now dominate those two markets.
The 25-year-old advisory committee will discuss reducing foodborne illness from Norovirus and using microbiological criteria as indicators of process control and insanitary conditions.
The 30-member group hails from academic, industry and government circles. The group has recently issued final reports on:
- Response to Questions Posed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service Regarding Determination of the most Appropriate Technologies for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to Adopt in Performing Routine and Baseline Microbiological Analyses”,
- “Parameters for Inoculated Pack/Challenge Study Protocols”, and
- “Assessment of the Food Safety Importance of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis.”
During the June 4-6 meetings, two subcommittees will run break-out sessions concurrently on from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 4, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 5 and 6. One subcommittee will focus on Norovirus and the other Microbiological Criteria.
Meeting information, including the final agenda when available and minutes for past NACMCF meetings can be found here.
Make no mistake, Vernon Hershberger won a huge victory in Saturday’s early morning hours in Baraboo, WI. “It’s a beautiful day,” Hershberger told me that morning, after a few hours of sleep following the 1 a.m. jury decision that acquitted him of three of four criminal misdemeanor charges. Yes, it was a beautiful day, for farming and for food rights.
The State threw everything it had at this humble father of ten children, and when it was over, its guys in the dark suits scampered out of the courtroom in the darkness of the night after a jury of twelve ordinary Americans handed them their heads on a platter. After less than four hours of consideration, those Americans told the hot-shot lawyers that their thousands of pages of legal documents and computer forensic experts and five days of arguing had failed miserably to convince a single one of them that Hershberger should be required to have any of three retail and dairy licenses insisted upon by the State.
Hershberger had already heard through the grapevine that the jurors didn’t give a moment’s thought to going with the state’s charges. “They tried their best to set me free,” he said.
The jurors convicted Hershberger only of something he publicly admitted to before and during the trial — that he had cut the regulators’ tape placed on his coolers and food shelves on June 2, 2010 so as to keep his food from rotting and to feed his 200 food club members — in other words, violated a holding order.
I’ll return to the holding order matter. The State’s prosecutors rushed out of the courtroom because they knew they had lost on the stuff that mattered the most — their effort to equate Hershberger’s Grazin’ Acres member-only food club with a Sam’s Club or Costco box store membership operation. In making their crazy argument, they were trying to press a much larger point: that there is no such thing as privately-available food, that we are all under the thumb of “The Man” and his clipboards and forms…and orders.
Moreover, the State lost on this same issue for the second time within a year. The State lost on pretty much the same charges against Alvin Schlangen in Minnesota last September when another jury similarly took just a few hours to tell the regulators to go find other ways to get their jollies than to harass owners of small farms and their private customers.
Not only did the State lose for a second time in trying to convict farmers as criminals for selling food privately, but the State lost this time after its actors thought they had solved the “problems” of the Schlangen case. In the Schlangen case, the defense was allowed to discuss raw milk, the health benefits of good food, and food safety. The judge seemed fair. The prosecution was tough, but not hard as nails.
For Hershberger, the State insisted on having the entire case tilted in its favor, and it got nearly everything it wanted from a compliant and biased judge. No discussion of the health benefits of food. No discussion of raw milk. No discussion of food safety. No discussion of criminal intent. No discussion of the merits of the holding order. The State thought it could sanitize the courtroom and the messages relayed to the jury as well as it oversees the sanitizing of our nation’s food supply.
The only break the defense got was when the judge finally pushed back against the State’s demand that Hershberger not be allowed to have his food club members testify on his behalf–and the judge only relented when the defense challenged the judge publicly that he might as well end the trial before it began, with a conviction. Moreover, the prosecution this time wouldn’t just be tough, like the Minnesota prosecutor, but it would, indeed, be tough as nails.
As for that guilty verdict on the holding order, I have a feeling it looks more ominous than it is. Yes, Hershberger can be sentenced to a year in jail and fined $10,000, as well as have to reimburse the state for the value of the food that was freed up (backwards as that sounds).
As Amy Salberg, a member of the Hershberger legal team, explained after the verdict: “The order has no ongoing effect and his acknowledged breaking of the seals was a one-time thing. As it turns out, that holding order never should have been issued, based on the verdict of acquittal on the licensing violations. But, pre-trial motions by the State kept out any argument that the order was not valid. All the jury was told was that there was an order and it was violated.”
I have to believe that after the humiliating defeat the State has just endured, it won’t be foolish enough to try another vindictive act against this man (though I have to admit I didn’t think the State would try a number of foolish actions). No, I suspect Mark McAfee is correct that there will just be a minimal penalty, and a whispered admonishment to Hershberger, “Just get the hell out of here, and out of our lives.”
Essentially, Hershberger’s rag-tag legal team, put together by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, won despite having one hand tied behind its collective back, and being pummeled by a seasoned and hardened opponent. Pretty amazing.
It won for a number of reasons. It won partly because its lead defense attorney, Glenn Reynolds (together with Elizabeth Rich, Amy Salberg, and Ajna Sharma-Wilson), took advantage of every possible opening, creatively bringing up forbidden subjects like food healthfulness and regulator bias.
It won because the local community united behind Hershberger, and people from around the country, led by the Farm Food Freedom Coalition and Liz Reitzig, took off from work and gathered in tiny Baraboo to lend support. Food and farming leaders like Joel Salatin, Mark Kastel, Mark McAfee, Max Kane, Aajonus Vonderplanitz, and Michael Badnarik showed up. Other farmers under attack like Mark Baker of Michigan and Alvin Schlangen of Minnesota showed up. The kind of media attention the trial received didn’t just happen by accident.
But the Hershberger team won also because Americans are, by and large, fair-minded people. Fourteen of them (twelve jurors and two alternates) from the local area, who knew little about the particulars of the case, decided that the State’s case didn’t make sense.
It’s only because our Bill of Rights, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, provides,”In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”
As Dave Milano suggested following my previous post, this struggle is far from over. The State (not just Wisconsin, but around the country) will likely try to alter its strategy, and avoid jury trials at all costs. And Hershberger as well worries: “How soon before they come and put a holding order on the food in your refrigerator?” Still and all, as ever more people learn the State’s true intentions, its plans for ever-more control over our food are slowly and surely eroding.
This article originally appeared on The Complete Patient on May 25, 2013.
The E. coli outbreak linked to frozen food products that sickened 35 people in 19 states appears to be over, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.
The outbreak began in December of 2012, when the first illness began, and the last victims fell ill in mid-April of this year, according to CDC.
The source of the E. coli O121 bacteria was determined to be frozen foods from Rich Corporation, which were sold under the brand names of Farm Rich, Market Day and Schwan’s.
A total of 9 patients, or 31 percent of those sickened, were hospitalized, said the agency.
Victims ranged in age from 1 to 75 years old, but the vast majority (82 percent) were under 21 years of age.
Of the 24 patients interviewed during the outbreak investigation, all reported eating frozen foods in the week before they fell ill; 19 recalled eating Farm Rich brand frozen foods.
While the outbreak is thought to be over, the recalled products have a long shelf life, and CDC cautions consumers that they may still have the product in their freezers. These products should be discarded and kept out of the reach of children. For a list of the recalled products, go here.
Fruit Treasure of Chula Vista, CA issued a voluntary recall of its Jammin Peppers this week after Salmonella was detected in samples collected from some boxes of the product.
The peppers subject to recall were distributed to retailers in California between April 7 and April 10, 2013 in a 25 lb white wax box bearing the label “JAMMIN PEPPERS.”
A total of 43 boxes are affected by this recall.
Production of the company’s Thai peppers has been suspended while the company and FDA conduct an investigation into the source of the problem.
No illnesses have been linked to the consumption of these peppers to date. However, due to the time involved in tracing back illnesses to their source, it is impossible to say whether anyone has fallen ill from eating this product.
Consumers who have purchased the 25 lb boxes of recalled peppers should return them to their point of purchase for a full refund.
The public warning issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Authority has updated a hazelnut recall to include more products and more information.
CFIA is warning the public not to consume certain in shell hazelnuts described below because the products may be contaminated with Salmonella.
The following products were sold in packages of various weights or in bulk at the locations indicated below. Consumers who are unsure if they have affected product are advised to check with their retailer.Product name Store name Location Dates Sold “Avelines” D.F. Rouleau Inc. 241, Principale, Les Hauteurs, QC April 18, 2013
to May 10, 2013 “Avelines”
200330800923 Marché St-Laurent Nouvelle Inc. 142, Rte 112, Nouvelle, QC March 11, 2013
to May 14, 2013 “Avelines” Épicerie Simon Rioux 133, rue Thériault, Padoue, QC March 29, 2013
to May 14, 2013 “Avelines”
UPC code 200003506244 Toit des Magasineux (1988) Inc. 40, Principale Ouest, La-Trinité-des-Monts, QC April 18, 2013
to May 13, 2013 “Avelines naturelles” Alimentation N.M. 228, rue Gendron, St-Léon-le-Grand, QC April 10, 2013
to May 10, 2013 “Avelines en écailles”
200524102260 Coopérative de Solidarité de St-Vianney 1040-C, Route 195, St-Vianney, QC March 28, 2013
to May 14, 2013 “Avelines” Épicerie St-François Inc. 430, Chemin Central, St-François-d’Assise, QC March 7, 2013
to May 14, 2013
According to CFIA, there have so far been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.
These recalls are part of an on-going food safety investigation associated with a recall of bulk hazelnuts from USA. The CFIA is working with the recalling firms and distributors to identify all affected products.
The importer, distributers, and retailers are voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.
It’s unlikely the discovery of a few plants of a genetically modified variety in a farmer’s field in Oregon will depress U.S. wheat exports as was experienced a decade ago with beef exports after a single Mad Cow was found.
But USDA is taking no chances. The agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says an Oregon farmer was trying to kill some wheat plantings with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide, but the weed killer was not working.
The farmer called in Oregon State University, which found that the herbicide-resistant wheat was the variety developed by Monsanto and field tested from 1998-2005.
While Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds dominate their markets in the U.S., the company abandoned its GE wheat after world grain markets refused to accept the product.
As a result, no GE wheat is approved for general use in the U.S. even though it had been found safe for human consumption.
An APHIS investigation apparently already stems beyond Oregon to several other western states with plans to track plants found back to their origin.
Investigators believe the exposure is limited and should not impact trade.
Some rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are controversial and some are not.
One designed to stop possibly contaminated food from getting into the United States becomes permanently effective today with its publication in the Federal Register. It says that if food for import to the U.S. has been refused entry by another country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to know and food importers need to tell.
The reason the new rule is not likely to generate much controversy is that it’s been in effect as an interim rule under the FSMA without much controversy. And its origin dates back to 2002 as a post 9/11 requirement.
In keeping potentially dangerous food out of the country, FDA will use the actions of other countries to help determine which imports to inspect. And in publishing the final rule today, FDA provided importers with details on when the reporting obligation kicks in.
“For purposes of this regulation, FDA considers ‘refused entry’ to mean a refusal of entry or admission of human or animal food based on food safety reasons, such as intentional or unintentional contamination of an article of food,” the rule says. “This is consistent with the intent of the provision, which is to provide FDA with additional information to better identify imported food shipments that may pose a safety or security risk to U.S. consumers.”
The importer providing the information to FDA doesn’t have to provide the reason another country refused entry for food destined for the USA. FDA may pursue the reason for the refusal.
FDA will continue to target food imports that “may pose a significant risk to public health.”
FDA’s “prior notice of imported foods” has been in effect as an interim rule since May 2011. The final rule taking effect today is identical to the interim rule.
Before its adoption as a final rule, FDA said only about 15 comments had been received and most of those sought a clarification of terms such as “refused entry.” FDA officials say any refusal for food safety reasons, whether intentional or unintentional contamination. They stressed they want only to hear about food safety related refusals from persons with knowledge about it.
Since February, FDA has also been able to, under the FSMA, administratively detain food it believes is adulterated or misbranded without yet having actual evidence.
Target Corporation has signed on to a pledge to not sell genetically engineered salmon in its department stores nationwide, joining nearly 60 other grocery chains such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Aldi, as part of the Campaign for GE-Free Seafood led by environmental organization Friends of the Earth.
Three other regional retailers threw in their pledges on Wednesday as well. H-E-B, Giant Eagle and Meijer each added their locations to the total of 4,662 grocery stores in the U.S. that will not carry GE salmon, should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve it.
The FDA is expected to deliver its final decision on GE salmon approval soon. The public comment period on the FDA’s draft environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact expired on April 26, after tallying up more than 1.8 million comments.
GE salmon has been under consideration by the FDA since 1996, when AquaBounty, creator of the AquAdvantage salmon, first applied for approval. If approved, the Massachusetts-based company plans to breed its GE fish in Canada’s Prince Edward Island and raise them in farms in Panama for sale in the U.S.
The salmon is a modified Atlantic salmon that takes a growth-promoting gene from Chinook salmon and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that allows it to grow year-round. The result is a salmon that grows to full size in 18 months instead of 3 years.
Groups opposed to GE salmon say that if the fish escaped into natural ecosystems it could spread its genes and out-compete natural salmon. AquaBounty contends there is virtually no chance of that happening, as all the fish are bred to be sterile and all female, along with being raised in landlocked tanks that don’t touch natural waters. All fish will also be slaughtered and processed in Panama before being shipped to the U.S.
The announcement that Target and other retailers would reject GE salmon coincided with the publication of a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society that found hybrids between AquAdvantage salmon and wild brown trout acquired the ability to grow faster than hybrids between trout and non-GE salmon. The study, which is the first of its kind, also found that those GE hybrids out-competed the wild varieties for food.
In a response to the study, AquaBounty said that while the authors acknowledge the GE hybrids would be “improbable in nature,” the study failed to mention that the hybrids would be sterile.
In the FDA’s draft environmental assessment on GE salmon, published in May 2012, the agency said did not expect AquAdvantage to impact wild salmon stock if the company properly followed its proposed procedures. The agency has also concluded the salmon would be as safe to eat and nutritionally equivalent to non-GE Atlantic salmon.
The pledge for GE-free seafood campaign, led by Friends of the Earth, is supported by more than 30 consumer and environmental groups. The campaign asks grocery stores, restaurants, chefs and seafood companies to pledge to not knowingly purchase or sell GE seafood.
“Since these fish will likely not be labeled, consumers have to rely on retailers like these to reject unwanted and unnecessary GE fish,” said Heather Whitehead, online campaigns director for the Center for Food Safety in an press statement. “We will continue to pressure other retailers to side with consumers.”
Early this year, the discovery that horsemeat was being substituted for beef in some European foods triggered widespread concern over food fraud in the EU. This substitution, deemed the “horsemeat scandal,” was eventually determined to be affecting around 5 percent of European beef products. But in the U.S., consumers have a different type of fraud to worry about. It is estimated that about one-third of seafood sold by retailers and restaurants in the United States is mislabeled, a problem that can have serious implications for public health.
What’s being done to combat this problem? Is an improved seafood traceback system on the horizon? Today, Food Safety News dives into the world of seafood traceability, looking at what can be done – and what’s being done – to trace fish and shellfish from water to plate.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 91 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. in 2011 was imported.
With over 1,500 species of fish and shellfish coming into the U.S. from all over the world and often going through several processing stages, verifying where seafood came from by the time it reaches the consumer can be difficult.
Another problem posed by such a complex industry is species substitution, which can be both inadvertent and intentional.
A 2012 study from ocean advocacy group Oceana found that, out of 1,200 seafood samples taken from 673 retail locations across the U.S., 33 percent were a different species from the one indicated to the consumer.
The most commonly mislabeled fish were snapper, which turned out to be another species 89 percent of the time, and tuna, of which 59 percent of samples collected were actually another fish. Of the “white tuna” the group tested, 84 percent was actually escolar, a fish that is banned in many countries as it can carry toxins that cause gastrointestinal illness when eaten in quantities over a few ounces.
Other in-demand fish for whom different species were commonly substituted included cod, grouper, halibut and Chilean seabass.
LeeAnn Applewhite, CEO of Applied Food Technologies, which performs DNA testing on seafood, says the species her company finds are mislabeled largely match those Oceana found were mislabeled.
“There’s a lot of mislabeling with sushi and sashimi tuna, and then it’s grouper, cod, halibut, salmon, all the higher value species,” said Applewhite in an interview with Food Safety News. “And it’s region-specific.”
In other words, different types of fraud are more common to different regions. While grouper and shrimp fraud are more prevalent in Florida, salmon fraud is seen more on the West Coast, where there are more species of salmon to mix up.
But, Applewhite pointed out, seafood fraud isn’t always intentional. In fact many times it’s a mistake.
“It’s extremely complicated because fishermen go out, and grouper don’t swim in one place all by themselves and cod in another place all by themselves,” she explained. “You have all these species swimming together and they catch thousands of fish on some of the big boats. They look alike, they’re in the same place, and once they’re filleted, nobody can tell the difference.”
And once seafood leaves the harbor, it can be even harder to keep track of, explained Dr. Lucina Lampila, Associate Professor and Extension Seafood Specialist in the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University.
“When you’re a very large plant and you start to have lots get commingled, it’s a little dicier,” Lampila told Food Safety News. “There’s still a record of what boat it came from but it can get a little more confusing.”
Why it’s dangerous
What’s the harm in eating one type of fish instead of another, other than paying for something you didn’t get?
For starters, the mislabeling of escolar as tuna creates a health risk, as the former fish is a waxy, oily species that can cause severe gastrointestinal illness, unlike tuna.
Another health problem is created when fish containing histidine are mislabeled. Histidine can be converted to histamine over time by enzymes released in the fish. High levels of histamine, an allergen, can cause illness when ingested by humans. In order to prevent the decay that leads to histamine production, histidine fish must be kept at low temperatures. If a histidine-carrying fish, such as tuna or swordfish, is labeled as a fish that doesn’t carry histidines, such as tilapia or grouper, that fish may not be handled in a way that prevents histamine from forming.
While it’s less likely that a histamine-producing fish, which usually have dark flesh, will be confused for one that does not produce histamines, Oceana did find some of these substitutions, such as catfish for grouper.
“Hazards such as allergenic proteins and scombrotoxin formation are associated with some species but not others, presenting potential food safety risks if the food is not accurately labeled,” notes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency in charge of regulating seafood sold in interstate commerce.
Another hazard that arises from mislabeling seafood is the possibility of unknowingly serving fish from a region that’s been flagged for a health risk.
“If an area of the water is closed because of Ciguatera and snapper is caught in that area and then labeled as a species not typically from that area, that’s a health issue,” said Applewhite.
Ciguatera is a toxin found in some tropical reef fish. Another area-specific risk is Vibrio bacteria, found in shellfish when water temperatures get too warm.
“If the fish is being mislabeled and you’re trying to contain an outbreak, you’d want to know where the fish was harvested and what date and if anyone else had eaten it so the doctors know what kinds of symptoms to look for,” said Kim Warner, Senior Scientist at Oceana and author of the seafood fraud study. “These health concerns are reasons why you’d want a traceability system in place so you can quickly identify the source of the fish.”
Some fish, such as tilefish, contain high levels of mercury, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to avoid these fish. Substitutions of these species for others can also pose a health risk.
Using DNA testing to combat seafood fraud
Back in 2000 when LeeAnn Applewhite started Applied Food Technologies (AFT), DNA testing for seafood was virtually nonexistent. The predominant testing method at the time was protein analysis, which requires subjective interpretation of results and is ineffective for cooked foods.
“I hated those methods and I knew everything was going molecular,” recalled Applewhite. “So I started writing federal grants to address this.”
By 2004 the company had developed the first seafood DNA testing methods to be accepted by FDA. Then in 2005, AFT was asked by two major commercial food suppliers – U.S. Foods and Sysco – to begin DNA testing on the fish they were purchasing.
“When we started this in 2005, we were seeing extremely high levels of substitution with catfish,” said Applewhite. “It was actually Vietnamese catfish, not U.S. catfish.”
The company also detected high levels of substitution for grouper, snapper and cod — In some cases, 60 percent of fish that was supposed to be one species would be mislabeled. But over the years, AFT has seen a “dramatic drop” in the amount of mislabeled seafood brought to its clients, according to Applewhite.
“It’s all down well below 20 percent now.”
Since it developed its first DNA tests, the company has expanded its database of DNA sequences to include over 1,500 seafood species from around the world. Before a new species is entered into the system, it is taxonomically validated by a museum of natural history. AFT also does backup testing for FDA, which performs DNA tests on all seafood subject to an import alert.
The government has also become concerned with seafood fraud over the past few years. Starting in 2007, after the substitution of toxic pufferfish for monkfish caused a series of illnesses in the U.S., FDA launched its own initiative to validate fish species via DNA testing.
Under the agency’s Barcode of Life initiative, it has developed authenticated sequencing for 172 fish species.
“Species substitution has been an area of concern for the FDA and within the seafood industry for some time,” said a representative for FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in an email to Food Safety News. ”As a result of these concerns, the FDA has recently invested in significant technical improvements to enhance its ability to identify seafood species using state of the art DNA sequencing.”
The agency said it has been collecting samples to determine where DNA testing efforts could be most effective.
“In Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, the FDA conducted surveillance sampling for species substitution at wholesale distributors, gathering approximately 800 individual filets from approximately 100 different lots of fish to verify the accuracy of the labeling utilizing the new DNA testing capabilities,” said the agency. “Once we finish compiling the results, the FDA will have a better idea of where to conduct future sampling and enforcement efforts.”
But going forward, many predict that DNA testing will be industry-driven.
Craig Wilson, vice president of food safety at Costco, said the company has been DNA testing its incoming seafood for a couple years.
“We’re doing a lot of DNA species confirmation and that helps us quite a bit,” Wilson told Food Safety News. While he can’t speak for other companies, Wilson said, “I think more and more people are doing that.”
Keeping tabs on seafood
To move safe and properly identified seafood from the water to the table not only requires species validation, but also a system that retains information about the origin of a product as it travels through the food supply.
The 2009 federal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law, enforced by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, dictates that seafood entering the U.S. must be accompanied by a label indicating what country it came from and whether it was farm-raised or wild-caught. However, the rule exempts “processed” seafood – seafood that’s been smoked, boiled, or changed in any way.
After seafood is imported, it often makes many more stops before reaching the consumer, making it difficult to track.
“A lot of the data is required in fish being imported but it’s not following it through the supply chain,” said Warner of Oceana.
“It can go through ten or fifteen different brokers, ten or fifteen cold storages, and they’re handed all differently, and who the heck knows what happens?” said Wilson. “That part for a lot of folks can be incredibly complicated.”
After seafood enters the U.S., the only hard and fast law governing its traceability is the Bioterrorism Act. Passed by Congress in 2002, the Act dictates that food processors and handlers must be able to “identify the immediate previous sources and the immediate subsequent recipients of food.” The Act exempts restaurants and farms (including fish farms) from these requirements.
While this means seafood handlers must have a record of where they got a shipment of seafood and where they sent it, it does not affect the labeling that accompanies the food.
“I know who I got it from and who I sold it to, but we’re calling it different things, so it takes a while to try to map it up into our system to really see where that product is from and where it went,” explained Angela Fernandez, vice president of grocery retail and consumer packaged goods at GS1 US.
GS 1 is the global nonprofit organization that started the barcode system now used for all food items at grocery stores around the world. The group now offers a standardized tracing system for the various food industry sectors, including seafood.
Fernandez says the level of information passed from one seafood company to another depends on what the purchaser is asking for, and varies greatly from business to business. But overall, she says, the industry seems to be seeking better traceback systems.
“This is really where the industry has come to GS 1 and said, ‘Will you help guide us?’”
Many in the industry have come to GS 1 to help assess their current traceability systems and see where any breakdowns might exist.
“Right now we’re in the middle of doing a proof of concept with some of the large seafood players in the U.S.,” said Fernandez. “They believe that they’re capturing a lot of this information today in a standardized way, so we are currently working with them to map out all of the different processes that are happening with each supply chain role and seeing the information they’re capturing and how they’re capturing it to identify gaps that they have.”
Where will the change come from?
According to the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011, FDA must improve the traceability of the U.S. food supply in two ways: 1. Run pilot programs to see where traceback information needs to be captured and 2. Implement mandatory record keeping for high risk foods. Whether certain seafoods will be on the list of risky products remains to be seen.
The agency is also taking into account the results of two pilot studies on traceback conducted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) – one on tomatoes and one on a frozen Kung Pao-style dish.
But how much these results and FDA’s ensuing action will affect the seafood industry is unclear.
“We’ll see how far it goes. Certainly IFT recommended that there be traceability and how it could be done, but it’s just kind of a wait and see,” said Lampila.
The agency has also indicated its intention to tighten its controls on seafood fraud through increased DNA monitoring.
Another option for regulation might come from Congress, where U.S. Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) have introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act. The bill would mandate full traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. by requiring data about the origin of a seafood product to follow it through every step of the supply chain.
However, experts agree that the industry is already moving towards a better traceback system, and that the effort will be a joint one between industry and government.
“There’s a traceability industry,” said Warner. “There are people trying out different models. I think the industry will find out what works and what’s the best way to handle this.”
One model that won’t work is FDA testing a majority of the seafood coming into the U.S., something for which the agency doesn’t have the capacity. Right now it is estimated that less than two percent of imported seafood is inspected.
“The FDA won’t be able to do it, but they can keep you from importing if you don’t have verification and can put some sort of system in place that assures that the verification is accurate,” said Wilson.
It’s a matter of a buyer being able to verify the supplier, according to Lampila.
“It takes setting up some rules and some oversight and actually FDA encouraging the processor: If you’re going to import, go visit the site and audit yourself or hire another auditor to go in.”
And if the vendor is able to verify the origin of his product, he will see a reward from consumers, she said. Some seafood vendors are now listing the exact location, down to latitude and longitude, where seafood was caught, sometimes even naming the boat.
“They are doing that and they are getting sales. They’re getting a premium for their product,” said Lampila.
“From my perspective, I see the industry wanting to do more than what we anticipate from the regulations, which I think is a good thing,” Fernandez weighed in.
Shuanghui International, China’s largest meat processor, has agreed to buy Smithfield foods, America’s largest pork producer, for $4.7 billion, according to multiple press reports Wednesday.
If approved, the deal is not expected to have a major impact on food safety for domestic pork, as the company will remain under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but consumers largely responded with concern about China’s involvement in the U.S. supply because the country has struggled with a rash of food safety incidents.
Responses on Twitter ranged from “China is now outsourcing food scandals,” to “They [China] cant even make baby formula. No more ham for me, ” and “I will not purchase this product again.”
“This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a longtime proponent of tougher food safety regulations. ” We know that Chinese food products have been a threat to public health and that Shuanghui was found to have produced and sold tainted pork. This merger may only make it more difficult to protect the food supply.”
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch blasted the merger, saying in a statement that the deal is “bad news for U.S. farmers and consumers, the environment and food safety.”
“While it’s making business news headlines, U.S. consumers will likely not take notice of the change, but it will show up on their plates in the form of farmer exploitation, more factory farms and a more complicated supply chain that leaves consumers at higher risk of food contamination,” said Hauter.
Bill Marler, a leading food safety expert and partner at Marler Clark LLP (underwriter and publisher of Food Safety News) said Wednesday that the merger would probably not have a big impact when it comes to contaminated food.
“Smithfield has had a good record over the years,” said Marler, who noted that the company has only had a few recalls and none “that I know of” that were linked to illnesses.
“As for the sales to a Chinese company, they still have to play by the same rules regardless of who they are owned by,” he added. “Simply because they are now owned by a Chinese firm does not make it automatically an unsafe facility. It is true that China has struggled – especially in its domestic market – to produce safe food. However, I do not see that it has translated to exports to the US in a great way, and I do not expect food safety problems from them in US production.”
Two women have filed lawsuits in Fayetteville, N.C., against the Holiday Inn Bordeaux alleging that they fell ill with Salmonella poisoning after eating food served at the hotel. The lawsuits come the same day the case count of those sickened in the outbreak rose again.
The plaintiffs, Lucille Thompson and Tara Foster, are two of at least 99 cases connected to the outbreak. Both women purchased food at the Cafe Bordeaux on May 8 or 9 and then fell ill with vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps within days.
Thompson she sought medical treatment for her illness on May 12 and received a prescription for antibiotics as well as intravenous re-hydration therapy. Foster was admitted to an Asheville, N.C. hospital for four days beginning May 13.
According to the Cumberland County Department of Public Health, the last known illness developed on May 15, meaning efforts to curb the outbreak seem to have worked.
The Holiday Inn Bordeaux contains two restaurants, the All American Bar & Grill and the Cafe Bordeaux, both of which were connected to the spread of Salmonella.
The plaintiffs are represented by Fayetteville lawyer Steven Lawrence and foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark, which is one of the underwriters of Food Safety News.