Archive for the ‘CDC’ Category

E. coli found in factory sample of Nestle Toll House dough

June 30, 2009

Investigators with the FDA have found evidence of E. Coli in a package of Nestlé Toll House cookie dough at the company’s Danville, Va., plant.

The discovery comes nearly two weeks after Nestlé USA closed the plant following the news the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control had linked a nationwide outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 with Nestlé’s popular ready-to-bake cookie dough. Nestlé closed its plant the day after it received the information from the government agencies and issued a recall of about 300,000 cases of the product.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Edie Burge, a spokeswoman for Nestlé at its Glendale, Calif., offices.

While obtaining a contaminated sample was key to the investigation, the question of just how E. coli got into the Danville plant has yet to be answered, and investigators will continue their work with further testing, said Burge.

The Danville factory is actually home to production of two Nestlé brands: Toll House cookie dough, and Buitoni, which makes fresh pasta. The Buitoni side of the operations have been unaffected by the contamination and work has continued there. The Toll House plant has been closed for 11 days and its more-than-200 employees are being offered paid time off or shifts in the Buitoni plant as they become available, said Burge.

Sixty-nine people in 29 states have been made ill with E. coli, allegedly as a result of eating raw cookie dough from Nestlé. Forty-six of those ill are confirmed to have the outbreak strain, and 34 persons have been hospitalized. Nine developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure; no one has died.

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No leads yet in E. coli outbreak

June 25, 2009

Investigation at Nestlé’s Virginia plant by FDA continues

Speculation about the possible contamination of a popular brand of ready-to-bake cookie dough with E. coli O157:H7 continues, but so far there have been no leads.

It’s been a week since officials at Nestlé USA, based in Solon, Ohio, learned about a possible link to their Toll House cookie dough in a nationwide outbreak of E. coli. So far, at least 70 people have been sickened in 30 states, and 30 of those people have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Seven of the victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure. No one has died.

Nestlé, in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, is investigating whether their product is the source of the contamination, and just how E. coli may have ended up in their product. They issued a full recall of 300,000 cases of the cookie dough immediately after being notified by the FDA of the possible link to their company last week, and have closed their production facility in Virginia while the investigation continues.

“We just don’t know at this point,” said Nestlé spokeswoman Edie Burge early this afternoon. The FDA is looking at “every aspect of production,” she said, from the water the plant uses to operating procedures, and the manufacturing plant’s air control system.

Two lawsuits have been filed against Nestlé by people in California and Colorado, and another family in Oregon has asked for an apology from Nestle for the illness their teenage daughter suffered after eating what they believe was contaminated cookie dough.

“We just learned about this issue last week and reacted as quickly as we could,” Laurie MacDonald, vice president of corporate and brand affairs, told the Portland Oregonian earlier this week. “If it is determined that our product is the source of the girl’s illness, we will certainly apologize to her and her parents.”

If people do become ill, Nestlé encourages them to contact their physician, said Burge.

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Top food borne disease outbreaks of 2006

June 14, 2009

On a publicity level, 2006 was a bad year for chickens and spinach. The Centers for Disease Control have released a report identifying the primary sources of food borne illnesses for that year and poultry and leafy green vegetables are at the top of the list. Fruits and nuts came in third.

“The food commodities associated with the largest number of cases of illness in 2006 were poultry (21 percent of all outbreak-associated cases), leafy vegetables (17 percent), and fruits-nuts (16 percent),” according to the report which appears in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Indeed, 2006 was acdc busy year. There were 1,270 outbreaks of food borne diseases which sickened 27,634 people and killed 11. Typically in outbreaks, officials note the actual numbers of people who are made ill are substantially higher but frequently go unreported as the victims either don’t recognize the symptoms or simply don’t feel they’re sick enough to merit a visit to the doctor.

An interesting contrast with the events of this year, in which the massive peanut recall has no doubt raised awareness about Salmonella, the most common cause of illness in 2006 was norovirus. Sixty-seven percent of illnesses that year stemmed from infection by that particular virus, also known as Norwalk virus. Salmonella was the second most common source of illness.

Norovirus causes the symptoms people often describe as “stomach flu” and usually passes in just a few days, although not without leaving its victims feeling as if they had been run over by a produce delivery truck. Norovirus contamination often stems from food workers who have not washed their hands properly after using the bathroom, and the body continues to shed the virus for up to two weeks once a person has become infected.

Salmonella, as in the case of the contamination at Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely, Ga., plant, typically stems from animal fecal infections of food. Holes in the ceiling of PCA’s processing plant allowed birds inside, where they most likely contaminated already roasted peanuts with their droppings. Roaches, too, were a serious problem.

Ironically, one of the most publicized outbreaks of 2006 was related to neither norovirus nor Salmonella. A massive recall late in the summer stemmed from E. coli O157:H7 contamination of spinach grown in central California. Five people died and at least 205 were reported sick after eating the contaminated greens. The Food and Drug Administration did the unthinkable and urged consumers to simply avoid all spinach during the outbreak costing growers $350 million and putting a serious dent into sales that lasted more than a year afterward.

E. coli came in at fourth place.

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August 11, 2008

Whole Foods Recalls Beef
E. coli tainted beef linked to Nebraska Beef Ltd.

Whole Foods, the upscale national chain of grocery stores specializing in organic and natural foods, announced Friday a voluntary recall of ground beef from its Nebraska-based supplier Coleman Natural Beef because of contamination by E. coli 0157:H7. The problem can, apparently, be traced back to earlier problems with Nebraska Beef Ltd.

The recall comes after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a warning to residents of that state not to eat ground beef purchased from Whole Foods between June 2 and Aug. 6, 2008. Seven people in Massachusetts were infected and five were hospitalized with E. coli from the tainted beef, according to the Boston Globe. In a press release, Whole Foods pledged to “continue to work with state and federal authorities as this investigation progresses”.

So far, more than 50 people have been infected in nine states including – most recently – Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Michigan and Ohio have been particularly hard hit with more than 40 cases between them. The recall follows an earlier recall in July of beef from Nebraska Beef Ltd., from whom Coleman apparently received the beef which was later sent to Whole Foods.

“While Coleman Natural Beef is a relatively small supplier for Whole Foods Market, we are extremely disappointed that we must now question Coleman’s assurances,” said Edmund Lamacchia, global vice president of procurement in the Whole Foods release.

As of Aug. 10, no information about the recall was available on the Coleman Natural web site.

Nebraska Beef Ltd., a privately held company based in Omaha, Neb., has been struggling with repeated recalls of its products since May. The company recalled 5.3 million pounds of beef produced between May 16 and June 26. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, Nebraska Beef utilizes unsanitary production practices.

“FSIS has concluded that the production practices employed by Nebraska Beef, Ltd. are insufficient to effectively control E. coli O157:H7 in their beef products that are intended for grinding,” FSIS said in a press release issued July 3. “The products subject to recall may have been produced under insanitary conditions.

“The products subject to recall were further processed into ground beef at other firms, and will likely not bear the establishment number ‘EST 19336’ on products made available for direct consumer purchase.” [Emphasis mine]

It’s this distribution of Nebraska Beef’s product to other companies without any sort of source identification that has caused problems for Whole Foods and Coleman’s.