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Pennsylvania Company Recalls Chicken Nuggets for Staph Bacteria

The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service recently announced a recall of chicken nuggets due to positive testing for Staphylococcal enterotoxin. Murry's Inc., a Pennsylvania food manufacturer, recalled over 20,000 pounds of gluten-free breaded chicken nuggets. The presence of bacteria in the nuggets was discovered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture during routine testing and sampling.

What is Staphylococcal Enterotoxin?

Staphylococcal aureus is a pathogen that produces a wide array of toxins and can cause many types of illnesses, including food poisoning. Staphylococcal enterotoxin is one type of toxin that is also a leading cause of gastrointestinal illness and therefore major cause of food poisoning.

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Posted on in Food Poisoning
Cyclospora Outbreak in Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is avidly working to find the cause of the recent cyclospora outbreak. There have been 151 reports of cyclospora in Texas this year, with 131 of these cases beings reported within the last two weeks. Although the source of the cyclospora outbreak has not been discovered, Texas health officials believe that it is likely linked to a fresh herb such as:

  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Mint

Health officials also believe the produce is likely from Mexico. In 2014, there were 200 reported cases of cyclospora in Texas. Some of which were associated with cilantro derived from the Puebla region in Mexico.

What is Cyclospora?

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The maker of a popular brand of ice cream announced yesterday that it is conducting a voluntary recall of all its products due to concerns of listeria contamination. Blue Bell Ice Cream, a Texas based manufacturer of frozen dessert products, issued the recall for products made at all of its facilities as the company works to find the source of contamination and implements new product testing protocols. Ice cream produced by Blue Bell was also recalled on a much more limited scale in March as it was linked to fatal cases of listeriosis at a Kansas hospital.

The March recall was the first time Blue Bell products had been recalled in the company's history, and testing procedures developed as a result of that recall led to the discovery of contaminated products, prompting the manufacturer to take action. Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president said in a statement, “We're committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe.” He also issued an apology to the brand's loyal consumers and restated the company's dedication to producing high quality ice cream.

This week's recall was initiated when newly implemented testing procedures found listeria monocytogenes contamination in two separate batches of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor ice cream. The tests indicate that to date, Blue Bell has found contamination in different places and in products manufactured in different plants. As such, the only safe solution was to recall all products until consumer safety can be guaranteed. Retailers in 23 states, including Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, and internationally have been instructed to stop selling Blue Bell products and remove them from their shelves.

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Tagged in: food poisoning

Maintaining food safety can be challenging, of course. It requires constant attention to detail, meticulously following proper procedures, and, sometimes, being willing to take losses when products may be compromised. Unfortunately, many food producers are too focused on the their bottom line, instead risking consumer safety and food poisoning outbreaks to save a few dollars in preventive losses. A federal court in Iowa, however, sent a strong message this week, by sentencing a former egg magnate and his son to three months in prison for their role in a salmonella outbreak in 2010.

The owner of Quality Egg LLC, and his son pleaded guilty to selling contaminated food against state lines in U.S. District Court. The personal penalties to each, which included a three-month prison sentence and $100,000 fine, were in addition to the $6.8 million fine and three-year probation levied against Quality Egg as a company. The punitive actions were handed down in response to the company's admission that eggs were shipped with falsified processing and expiration dates and at least two instances of bribing an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve low-quality eggs.

In 2010, operating as Wright County Egg Company, the company recalled more than 500 million eggs as salmonella outbreaks were being traced back to the production facility. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitively linked more than 1,900 illnesses to the contaminated eggs, and estimate that as many as 56,000 people may have been affected.

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Tagged in: food poisoning

A ruling in federal court this week declared that the Boy Scouts of America would not be held responsible for an outbreak of E. coli which affected a Virginia scout camp back in 2008. In his decision to dismiss the case against the youth organization, U.S. District Judge Norman Moon indicated that there was no gross negligence on the part of scout leaders, but that the litigation against the food supplier could move forward.

The lawsuit stems from a food poisoning outbreak which sickened 84 scouts at a summer camp in 2008. The illnesses were traced to ground beef contaminated with E. coli bacteria that was ultimately consumed undercooked. Despite having prepared his own meal using the contaminated beef, the plaintiff in the case was seeking $15 million in damages for negligence from the food supplier, the local Boy Scout Council, and the Boy Scouts of America.

In addition to the obvious issue of distribution of contaminated food, the suit claimed that scout leaders did not provide proper instruction or supervision to campers in the preparation and cooking of the meat. The local council, however, routinely provides campers and leaders with guidance materials on food safety, including specific instructions for the type of meal involved. The court's decision was based on Virginia's definition of gross negligence, which requires actions that disregard the safety of others to a degree that “would shock fair minded people.” The ruling indemnified both the local council and the national scout organization from further action in the case.

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