Articles Posted in Food Safety

nut butter jarFood safety is one of the most popular topics in the headlines these days. Whether it is major foodborne illness outbreaks at popular national chain restaurants or contaminated food products on store shelves, consumers face serious risks when food providers and manufacturers fail to take reasonable precautions and to use due care.

Recently, a couple in California filed a lawsuit against the maker of SoyNut Butter, IM Healthy, alleging that one of the spouses suffered serious injuries as a result of consuming SoyNut Butter that was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The complaint alleges that as a result of the contamination the wife required hospitalization and extensive medical treatment. The complaint also states that she purchased the product at a popular retail store in California.

The outbreak associated with the soy nut butter spread was first identified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after a resident of that state who became ill stated that they had consumed SoyNut Butter shortly beforehand. The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in addition to a number of local health departments, have launched investigations into the outbreak. Recently, IM Healthy initiated a recall for the product and stated that the voluntary recall applied to its Original Creamy SoyNut Butter product that bears a Best By date of August 30, 2018 or August 31, 2018. The company also stated in the recall announcement that the recall was due in part to the FDA’s notice that it was investigating a potential link between the product and cases of E. coli-related illness.

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Raw milk is becoming an increasingly popular choice as an alternative to traditional dairy products that have undergone pasteurization. For all of the benefits purportedly associated with consuming raw milk, there are also substantial health risks. In the United Kingdom, for example, an outbreak that led to six confirmed cases of Campylobacter was linked to a raw milk vending machine. The outbreak started in roughly mid-December 2016 and has now resulted in at least 56 cases.milk

In general, Campylobacter causes over 280,000 instances of food poisoning each year in the United Kingdom, with nearly 75,000 of those cases directly tied to food-related sources. It is also a serious threat to consumers in the United States. Raw milk products can contain a variety of contaminants that can be harmful if consumed. Some of the dangers associated with raw milk from cows, goats, sheep, and other livestock include Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These illnesses can be severe, often requiring hospitalization and leading to fatalities on occasion. Although the sale of raw milk remains unlawful in many areas, there are some localities that have enacted rules allowing the sale of raw milk in limited situations. For example, many of these laws allow consumers to purchase raw milk products if the consumer travels to the farm where the raw milk is sourced and purchases the raw milk directly from the farm.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of consuming a contaminated food product, you can bring a personal injury claim against the individuals or companies that may be responsible. When it comes to food contamination, there are many parties involved in the production process, including farmers, harvesters, packers, processors, distributors, packaging plants, chefs or cooks, and restaurant staff. According to the negligence doctrine, each of these individuals has a duty to use reasonable care and skill when handling, processing, or serving food. This standard encompasses any applicable health and safety regulations. If the plaintiff can show that the defendant failed to follow an applicable statute or regulation in relation to the food product, the plaintiff will be allowed to assert a rebuttable presumption that the defendant acted negligently.

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Soylent Drink PowderNamed after the infamous 1973 movie in which meal replacements are made status quo, beverage and snack bar maker Soylent has announced that it will temporarily stop manufacturing its formula 1.6 Soylent Powder after a landslide of consumer reports and major media outlets highlighted serious illnesses associated with the products. According to the company, which has received millions of dollars in venture capital investments, it is reviewing the formula to figure out which ingredients are causing people to become so sick.

Consumers who became ill after consuming Soylent snack bars reported experiencing symptoms similar to a food-borne illness., including stomach-related problems. The products underwent testing to see if pathogens, outside contamination, or other toxic substances were present, but all tests came back negative. This means that some ingredient or multiple ingredients in the product are allergens that should be listed on the packaging so that individuals can avoid them as needed for their health and wellness.

Although the company has temporarily stopped producing Powder 1.6, it has come out saying that fewer than 0.1 percent of people who consumed the powder suffered issues and that it has not received any complaints or reports regarding illnesses related to its other powder versions. So far, Soylent intends to return the snack bars and beverage mixes containing the suspect powder to store shelves during the first quarter of next year.

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several square wafflesMajor breakfast food retailer Kellogg’s has issued a voluntary recall that covers 10,000 cases of its famous Eggo waffle products over concerns that they are contaminated with listeria. The contaminated cases reached an estimated 25 states in the U.S. Listeria is a very dangerous foodborne illness pathogen that can lead to severe health problems and even death, especially if the victim is a child, elderly individual, or person with a compromised immune system. Pregnant women may also experience a miscarriage or stillbirth if they contract listeria while pregnant. In otherwise healthy persons, listeria can lead to severe, flu-like symptoms, including headaches, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, high fever, stiffness, and diarrhea.

Although the company has not received any reports indicating that an individual has become ill as a result of consuming a contaminated waffle, the risk is still very serious. Kellogg is asking consumers who may have purchased an affected package to return it immediately and to refrain from consuming its contents.

There have been a number of multi-state food-borne illness outbreaks involving listeria this year, including frozen vegetables, raw milk, packaged salads, and citrus. For the Centers for Diseases Control to formally recognize an outbreak, there must be two or more individuals who manifest disease-specific symptoms as a result of consuming the same drink or food item that has been contaminated. The CDC will then investigate the outbreak to determine its source and underlying cause.

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raw sushiRecently, many reports have amassed indicating that consumers in Hawaii have become seriously ill as a result of coming into contact with Hepatitis A. One resident in Oahu dined at a sushi establishment called Genki Sushi Restaurant. The man has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant and a supplier, Koha Foods, which provided imported scallops to the sushi restaurant. According to some reports, these scallops are believed to be the source of the Hepatitis A outbreak. Nearly 170 people have fallen ill with the disease, requiring over 45 hospitalizations starting in June 2016. Although the overwhelming majority of these cases are on Oahu, some of them have also occurred on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii. Many tourists visiting Hawaii became ill during their stay and then traveled to other locations.

The State of Hawaii has put an embargo on the scallops and any distributors that use them. There are some 10 restaurants in the Genki Sushi chain that may be providing and serving the infected scallops. The scallops were diced and served raw with mayonnaise alongside a rice ball that was wrapped in seaweed. At these sushi restaurants, the fare was served on a conveyor belt, and customers then pull the items off the conveyor belt as they travel past them.

Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that targets the liver and can cause serious illnesses and complications. Typically, Hepatitis A spreads through contaminated food or drinks or when the victim comes into close contact with someone who is a carrier of the virus. The symptoms giving signs that an individual has contracted the disease may not manifest for several weeks after the individual has been exposed. These symptoms often include nausea, fatigue, stomach pain, joint pain, jaundice, and dark urine.

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raw ground beefA nine-year-old boy in Maine has become seriously ill as a result of consuming ground beef contaminated with E. Coli O157:H7. The boy’s mother purchased PT Farm beef sometime in June 2016 and prepared it to serve to her family. Roughly five days after the family ate the meat, the boy began exhibiting signs of a serious illness. Common symptoms associated with E. Coli infections are diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. After the boy’s symptoms did not improve, his mother took him to the hospital, where he was admitted for several days.

The child is only one of about 14 individuals who have become ill as a result of consuming contaminated beef from PT Farm. The victims are located in a wide swath of states, including Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The illnesses have been recorded as occurring between June 15 and July 10, 2016.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, along with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, have been actively involved in investigating the source of the outbreak. On July 26, the public entities announced that they had identified E. Coli in raw beef provided by PT Farm. They initiated a recall that covered some 8,800 pounds of the raw beef. Some of the brand names under which PT Farms beef is sold include Chestnut Farms, Robie Farm, Miles Smith Farm, and PT Farm. Some of the product may come frozen.

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hepatitis on slideWhen we patronize restaurants, we expect that the people in charge have taken appropriate steps to ensure that the food we consume will be safe and free of adulterants. What fewer patrons realize, however, is that these safety measures extend to ensuring that the employees and servers who prepare and deliver our food are free of diseases and infections that could easily contaminate us and our families. Recent reports have indicated that there are at least 135 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A outbreaks in Hawaii, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health. This represents over 40 additional cases since the department issued an update during the last week of July.

According to this recent update, one of the affected victims in the rampant and ongoing outbreak of the dangerous Hepatitis A virus includes an employee who works at a Chili’s restaurant location in Oahu. Another employee includes a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant. Both of these employees have had substantial exposure to the general public. Also, considering that Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, it is highly likely that someone who has come into contact with these two affected individuals or another carrier of the virus has since returned home and come into contact with countless other individuals. According to a Hawaii State Epidemiologist, neither the employee at Chili’s nor the flight attendant have been linked to any additional outbreaks, and neither outlet is being deemed a source of the outbreak.

Another restaurant, however, was not so lucky. Employees at Baskin-Robbins, a Taco Bell location, Cosco Bakery, and a sushi restaurant were also identified as carrying Hepatitis A. Nearly 25 employees at the sushi restaurant, Sushi Shiono, tested positive as carriers of Hepatitis A.

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whole foods storeHealth food stores are becoming increasingly popular as consumers’ preferences for different categories of food products have shifted. Perhaps one of the most popular health food chains in the U.S. is Whole Foods Market, a specialty store offering a variety of alternative products, including organics, gluten-free, and vegan. On June 8, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency responsible for overseeing food safety and labeling for the vast majority of our food system, issued a warning letter to Whole Foods Market, identifying a number of “serious violations” it found after completing an inspection of one of its stores in Everett, Massachusetts, in February 2016.

Among the violations identified, Whole Foods Market failed to manufacture, package, and store foods under conditions that would reduce the growth or introduction of potential contaminants. For example, the inspectors observed that the company was preparing ready-to-eat pasta products under areas where moisture from ceiling joints above was dripping onto the counter space below.

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17682781100_cd1578a733Some people may think that safety issues associated with pet food are geared solely toward ensuring their animals’ health. The federal government recently shed light on the issue, informing a pet food company that the presence of salmonella in its products could harm more than the animals who consume it.

Pet food manufacturing company Answers Pet Food, owned and operated by Lystn LLC, received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicating that its products tested positive for Salmonella. The tests involved the company’s Detailed Answers Chicken Formula dog food product.

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can be found in raw food products like beef, milk, poultry, eggs, and fresh produce. Individuals who consume Salmonella or otherwise come into contact with the bacteria can experience severe illnesses, including vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, fever, and even death. The elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to the bacteria, often requiring hospitalization to resolve the resulting symptoms.

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vegetables-1239864_960_720A multi-state outbreak of listeria linked to frozen vegetables has led to many illnesses and even fatalities, spurring officials at the Centers for Disease Control and state public health leaders to conduct an investigation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also gotten involved. Reports indicate that eight individuals have been infected with Listeria across three states: Washington, California, and Maryland. The individuals who lost their lives as a result of the contamination resided in Maryland and Washington.

The frozen vegetables likely responsible for the outbreak have been traced back to CRF Frozen Foods, based in Pasco, Washington. The vegetables are sold under a variety of brand names. The company initiated the first recall on April 23, 2016, covering 11 types of frozen vegetable products. Then, on May 2, 2016, the recall was expanded to encompass all of the organic and regular frozen fruit and vegetable products that it processed at the Pasco facility from May 1, 2014, onward. This expanded recall covered over 350 products that are marketed under more than 40 different brand names and sold in the U.S. and Canada.

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