Entries in Salmonella (35)


Homemade Eggnog Can Kill Salmonella with Booze

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What could be more festive than a dozen raw eggs, a quart of rum and a pint of bourbon getting friendly in a pot in the fridge for six weeks?

Conventional wisdom would suggest eggnog should bring about a spike in salmonella cases every December, but it doesn't happen. Call it a holiday miracle -- or just call it science.

"Actually, it happens very, very, very, very infrequently," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. "We do not record an increase in salmonellosis due to eggnog. Otherwise, there would be a CDC health advisory."

Unlike raw chicken, store-bought eggs rarely have salmonella on their shells because they are cleaned before they're packaged, Schaffner said. On the rare occasion that the salmonella bacteria enters an egg, it's likely one of the 800 salmonella species that needs to be present in large quantities to make someone sick. (On the other hand, up to 20 percent of store-bought chicken contains salmonella, and they have a lot more diarrhea-causing bacteria than eggs do, Schaffner said.)

At Rockefeller University, the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology has been making a raw-eggs-and-alcohol eggnog for at least 60 years. It calls for leaving the egg, sugar, cream, spices and alcohol mixture in the fridge for about six weeks. Yes, really.

"I've been here almost 50 years, and we've made it every year," said professor and lab head Vincent Fischetti. "We usually make it about a week or so before Thanksgiving, sip it to cheer Thanksgiving, and finish it at the Christmas party."

The recipe comes from Dr. Rebecca Lancefield, a microbiologist who was born in 1895, and Fischetti says it may have been a recipe from her family. Although the original recipe calls for leaving the mixture in the refrigerator at least overnight, it says it will be "better" after three or four weeks. Fischetti said the added time makes it smoother.

A few years ago, Fischetti's lab made an extra batch – for the sake of science – spiked with an extra ingredient: salmonella. Within the first five days of sitting in the cold with the alcohol, the batch still tested positive for salmonella, but it was sterile not long after, Fischetti said. They even tried to culture the aged eggnog on a petri dish, but no bacteria would grow on it.

"There's enough alcohol in there to kill a horse," he said, laughing. "It's a standard recipe. We're not spiking it any more than it should be."

Indeed, raw eggs and alcohol are a long-standing winter tradition, said Dale DeGroff, the legendary bartender made famous for his gourmet cocktails at New York's Rainbow Room during the 1980s.

"Nogs go back to merry old England," DeGroff said. "The idea of mixing egg with beer or rum and spices is a very old world thing."

Although the original varieties were hot drinks involving beer and raw eggs, chilled eggnog became popular in Baltimore in the mid-19th century, DeGroff said. In New York, Tom and Jerrys were popular egg drinks that involved making a "batter" of raw eggs, ground clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum and cream, DeGroff said. The batter then went into a big crockery bowl over ice, and when someone ordered the drink, the bartenders would dollop a tablespoon of batter into a mug and add brandy, hot water and milk.

In the 1950s, Degroff's Uncle Angelo submitted his homemade eggnog recipe to a Four Roses Whiskey contest and won. The six-egg recipe appeared on whiskey bottles for years, he said.

Today, popular drinks that involve raw, emulsified eggs include traditional flips, sours and daiquiris. In many cities, restaurants are required to note that food contains raw egg and carries a risk of salmonella.

Food safety expert Dave Arnold said it's true that salmonella does not grow in refrigerator temperatures or in 5 percent alcohol or more, but that doesn't mean the bacteria is gone.

"The issue isn't growth, it's how long is salmonella that's already there [taking] to die," said Arnold, the directory of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center, which has campuses in New York, California and Italy.

Although the risk of getting salmonella from a cocktail is small, the customer should be able to make his or her own decision about taking it on.

"In my bar, if I was going to serve eggnog – even if I had aged it in the fridge and even if I knew for certain it had zero chance of giving salmonella to a customer -- I would still put a label for raw eggs. Why? Because," he said. "Why would I open myself to that risk?"

Fischetti sent along his eggnog recipe, but if you'd rather avoid eggs and alcohol completely, here's a recipe for you.

Original Dr. Rebecca Lancefield recipe:

1 dozen eggs 1 quart heavy cream 1 quart light Cream 1 quart bourbon 1 pint rum nutmeg (1/3 3/4 box) sugar to taste (1/2 to 3/4 Lb)

Modifications: (This is the one Fischetti uses.) 1 quart rum 1 pint bourbon

1. Beat eggs, add bourbon and rum slowly with stirring to prevent precipitation of egg proteins. 2. Add the light cream with mixing using a large spoon. Add the sugar to taste with mixing (about ½-1 pound / batch ) then nutmeg last. 3. Beat heavy cream separately 'till peaks and add to the egg/bourbon/rum - mix into rest. 4. Leave standing at least overnight in refrigerator. Better after 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bread That Lasts Months?

Hemera/Thinkstock(LUBBOCK, Texas) -- The company Microzap says it has found a way to keep bread free of mold for two months, according to the BBC.

The company zaps the bread using a microwave array that kills the spores that create mold. While it all sounds a bit technical, the company also claims the patent-pending process can be completed without damaging the quality of the food.

The hope is that the technology, which can also be used on other foods and even pet treats, will dramatically reduce the amount of food that is wasted. Additionally, Microzap researchers say the technology can be used in food processing plants to reduce the occurrence of salmonella contamination.

As for the future, Microzap is currently working on developing a process to treat homes and hotels infested with bed bugs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FDA Closes Peanut Butter Plant Linked to Salmonella

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration Monday shut down the country’s largest organic peanut butter processor following a salmonella outbreak that sickened scores of people nationwide.

For the first time the FDA has utilized new power granted by the 2011 food safety law and shut down Sunland Inc.’s New Mexico processing plant.

In a statement on their website, the FDA said that the link between the company and the salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states along with “Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company’s registration.”

Between June 2000 and September 2012 11 product lots of nut butter tested positive for presence of salmonella. And, according to the FDA, between March 2010 and September 2012, Sunland Inc. distributed at least a portion of eight product lots after they had tested positive.

The FDA also found the presence of salmonella in 28 environmental samples during a September and October 2012 inspection.  FDA inspectors reported that employees of Sunland Inc. failed to wash hands, improperly handled equipment used to process food as well as providing "no records” to document cleaning of equipment. Additionally, the building housing the production and packaging had no hand-washing sinks even though employees had “bare-handed contact” with the product.

“The super-sized bags used by the firm to store peanuts were not cleaned despite being used for both raw and roasted peanuts.  There was a leaking sink in a washroom which resulted in water accumulating on the floor, and the plant is not built to allow floors, walls and ceilings to be adequately cleaned."

"Finally, investigators found that raw materials were exposed to potential contamination.  Raw, in-shell peanuts were found outside the plant in uncovered trailers. Birds were observed landing in the trailers and the peanuts were exposed to rain, which provides a growth environment for salmonella and other bacteria.  Inside the warehouse, facility doors were open to the outside, which could allow pests to enter.”

In a Nov. 15 statement the president and CEO of Sunland, Jimmie Shearer, emphasized that at “no time” did the company distribute products they knew to be contaminated. The company has submitted a statement to the FDA outlining their response to the recall and contaminated product testing.

“We believe that drawing any inferences much less conclusions about the Company’s practices based solely on the observations as set forth in the Form 483 without considering the Company’s response would be wholly premature and unduly prejudicial to Sunland.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which the FDA acted under to shut down the plant, grants the agency the authority to suspend manufacturing when there is “reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and other conditions are met.”

Sunland Inc., can request an informal hearing to lift the suspension.  However the 24-year-old company will only have its registration returned after the FDA decides the company has safe manufacturing practices.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ABC News Uncovers Reports of Contamination at Peanut Plant

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has learned new information about the peanut supplier linked to the salmonella outbreak this fall that sickened 41 people in 20 states.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request made by ABC News, the Food and Drug Administration granted access to inspection reports on Sunland Inc. for the past few years. Findings include reports salmonella found in peanuts that the company failed to detect on its own, in-shell peanuts exposed to elements and moisture, and the presents of giant birds flocking over peanut stocks.

The Portales, New Mexico-based plant has been plagued with many more problems, according to the reports. One instance stated that an FDA agent observed an employee in one of the assembly lines cleaning equipment with nothing more than water, while another report detailed the sight of bird droppings on peanuts, and in the company’s almond butter product.

In the reports that date back as far as 2003, one inspection also discovered that "the firm's plumbing constitutes a source of contamination to food... effective measures were not being taken to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests... the firm failed to provide adequate screening or other protection against pests.... the firm failed to hold rework materials in bulk or in suitable containers so as to protect against contamination."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Peanut Butter Recall Extended to Raw, Roasted Peanuts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The recall of peanut butter and other nut products linked to an outbreak of salmonella from a New Mexico food company has now been expanded to include raw and roasted peanuts.

More than 400 products have been added to the growing list of recalled items, including MoonPies and ice cream, according to a list released by Sunland Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration’s list of manufacturers that have recalled their own products.

Sunland Inc. has already recalled peanut butter brands sold at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroeger, Target and Costco.  The FDA has warned consumers not to eat any products associated with Sunland, and to discard them right away because they might be tainted with salmonella.

Thirty-five people have been sickened in 19 states from coast to coast and there is concern that with so many products on the list, that number could grow.

Sunland has recalled everything made in its contaminated plant since March 2010.

Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.  Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Recall Expands to Dozens of Other Products

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Trader Joe's, a national grocery chain, already found itself having to recall its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter with Sea Salt because of links to 29 salmonella cases in 18 states when the news got worse on Monday.

Sunland, a New Mexico-based company that makes the peanut butter for Trader Joe's, said it was expanding the recall to 76 other peanut and almond products, mainly as a precaution since no other cases of salmonella have been traced to these items.

Katalin Coburn, Sunland's vice president of media relations, said "the products in question were manufactured on the same line that manufactured the Trader Joe's Valencia Peanut Butter."

In all cases, it's the name of the retailer, not Sunland, that's on the label of the various merchandise.

Salmonella causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain 12 to 72 hours after infection.  Young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are most at risk to developing severe infections.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Trader Joe’s Recalls Peanut Butter Linked to 29 Salmonella Cases

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- National grocery chain Trader Joe’s is voluntarily recalling  peanut butter that has been linked to 29 salmonella cases in 18 states.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have removed all Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter from sale, due to pending health-related inquiries,” Trader Joe’s said in a statement.

An investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control determined the peanut butter was the likely source of the outbreak. Officials from the FDA and CDC briefed Trader Joe’s on Thursday, prompting the grocer to voluntarily recall the product, the FDA said in a statement issued Saturday.

The list of states that reported the illnesses was not released.

Anyone with the product is encouraged to either return it to Trader Joe’s for a full refund or dispose of it.

Salmonella causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain 12 to 72 hours after infection. Young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are most at risk to developing severe infections.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Pet Turtles?

Zoonar/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Many children love caring for small pets such as turtles or lizards. But could having them around boost children's risks of contracting Salmonella infection? The answer is yes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says reptiles (such as turtles, snakes and lizards) and amphibians (such as frogs and toads) can be a source of Salmonella in humans.  These creatures can easily pick up Salmonella germs lurking in their tanks or aquariums after being shed in their own droppings.

"Many people don't know that turtles and other reptiles can carry harmful germs that can make people very sick. For this reason, turtles and other reptiles might not be the best pets for your family, especially if there are children 5-years-old and younger or people with weakened immune systems living in your home," Casey Barton Behravesh DVM, DrPH, Deputy Chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch said in a CDC release.

The CDC warning comes as the agency, along with government and state health officials, is launching a collaborative investigation into six overlapping, multistate human Salmonella outbreaks.  The CDC says the outbreaks are linked to turtles or their habitats.

More than 160 Salmonella illnesses have been reported from 30 states, 64 percent of those cases have occurred in children age 10 or younger.  Twenty-seven percent of the cases reported in children have been in infants one year or younger, the CDC says. Fifty-six percent are hispanic.

The CDC suggests these tips when handling turtles and other reptiles:

  • Don’t buy small turtles from street vendors, websites, pet stores, or other sources.
  • Keep reptiles out of homes with young children or people with weakened immune systems.
  • Reptiles should not be kept in child care centers, nursery schools, or other facilities with young children.

ALWAYS wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water immediately after touching a reptile or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cantaloupes Blamed for 141 Salmonella Cases, Including Two Deaths

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Health officials have learned that cantaloupes are to blame for a salmonella outbreak that has infected 141 people in 20 states, sending 31 people to the hospital and killing two.

More than a third of those salmonella Typhimurium cases happened in Kentucky, which is also where both deaths occurred, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The bad melons came from a farm in southwestern Indiana, according to the CDC, which cites an investigation by federal, state, and local agencies. Officials interviewed 24 ill patients, and discovered that 18 ate cantaloupes prior to becoming ill.

They then found the bacteria in two cantaloupes purchased at a grocery store.

Cantaloupes often bear a sticker that says where they were grown, so health officials have advised consumers to check the sticker and throw away melons from Indiana.

"If no sticker is present, consumers should inquire about the source," a CDC page devoted to the outbreak says. "When in doubt, throw it out."

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, vomiting and cramps, which develop between 12 and 72 hours of infection.

The illness usually runs four to seven days, unless the person is hospitalized with a severe case.

The infection originates in the intestine, but it can spread to the blood stream and other parts of the body, which can lead to death without proper treatment.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


USDA to Let Industry Self-Inspect Chicken

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States.  The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork.  Sorry red meat, chicken is what’s for dinner.  And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table.

As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year -- a plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale.

The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country.

The poultry companies expect to save more than $250 million a year because they, in turn, will be allowed to speed up the processing lines to 175 birds per minute with one USDA inspector at the end of the line.  Currently, traditional poultry lines move at a maximum of 90 birds per minute, with up to three USDA inspectors on line.

Whistleblower inspectors opposed to the new USDA rule say the companies cannot be trusted to watch over themselves.  They contend that companies routinely pressure their employees not to stop the line or slow it down, making thorough inspection for contaminants, tumors and evidence of disease nearly impossible.  “At that speed, it’s all a blur,” one current inspector tells ABC News.

According to OMB Watch, a government accountability newsletter, cutbacks at the USDA have coincided with a significant rise in salmonella outbreaks.  The group says 2010 was a record year for salmonella infection and 2011 saw 103 poultry, egg and meat recalls because of disease-causing bacteria, the most in nearly 10 years.

The USDA, which has been running a pilot program of the changes in 20 U.S. poultry plants, says the new system is not about cost-cutting, but about bringing food safety up to date.

Watchdog groups insist a combination of increased testing and government inspection is needed to lower salmonella and other disease outbreaks from chicken.  The National Chicken Council says on its website that while “plant employees would have an expanded role in inspecting carcasses,” USDA inspectors will still be in the plant.  And, it says, “we are confident that modernizing the poultry inspection system will enable us to build on our success in providing delicious, safe and wholesome food to our customers.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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