• Posted: June 27th, 2012 - 8:36pm by Doug Powell

    I ate some bad food in prison: the worst was saltpeter and horse nuts, some sort of canned stone fruit in a syrupy moss.

    And this was at the correctional facility that had its own canning plant to ship the horse nuts off to other patrons and guests of the Ontario government.

    Guess it wasn’t as bad as a former Rikers inmate who is suing New York City for $80 million claiming that the prison food almost killed him. Michael Isolda, who weighed 460 pounds before he underwent gastric bypass surgery, says he was only given four minutes at a time to eat his measly prison meals—because of his surgery, that speed-eating caused him to vomit after every meal and eventually separated his stomach from his intestine. “For me, Rikers Island is a death sentence,” he said in his lawsuit. “It’s not a matter of surviving and worrying about inmates. I have to worry about the food killing me.”


    Your rating: None (1 vote)
    Wacky and Weird  |  Comments
  • Posted: May 31st, 2012 - 6:01am by Doug Powell

    When I talk about toddlers learning to crawl and heading for the dog dish, I’m not thinking of 8-week-olds.

    A federal lawsuit in New Jersey alleging an infant was sickened by salmonella-contaminated dog food may be the first in the nation to hit the courts in the wake of a recent pet food recall.

    The New Jersey Law Journal reports at least 15 people in nine states and Canada have reportedly fallen ill as a result of contact with pet food made by Diamond Pet Foods, which announced the recall on April 6 and has since expanded it to additional brands.

    Eisenberg v. Diamond Pet Food Processors, 12-cv- 3127, filed May 25 in federal court in Trenton, alleges that a two-month-old child became sick with diarrhea, fever and loss of appetite on April 11. A day later, his pediatrician sent him to St. Peter's University Hospital, where he spent three days and was diagnosed with salmonella. A stool sample later tested positive for the same strain of salmonella that spurred the recall, salmonella infantis.

    The child's father, Nevin Eisenberg of Marlboro, alleges he bought a bag of a Diamond brand — Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Food with chicken and vegetables — at the Costco Wholesale Corporation store in Morganville.

    The complaint does not specify how the child, identified as C.A.E., became exposed to salmonella.

    But, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned yesterday the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Infantis infections continues to grow.

    FDA became involved in early April when the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported detecting Salmonella from an intact package of Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice Formula for Adult Dogs, collected during retail surveillance sampling. Diamond Pet Food was notified of the sampling results, and agreed to voluntarily recall this product on April 6, 2012.

    At that time, there were no known dog illnesses reported.

    An additional finding of Salmonella in a sample taken by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, from an opened bag of Diamond Brand Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light Formula dry dog food collected from the home of an ill person, and an unopened bag of the product collected from a retail store led to a recall of that product on April 26, 2012

    A sample of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food collected by FDA during an inspection at the South Carolina production facility also yielded Salmonella Infantis, which led to a recall of that product on April 30, 2012.

    Public health officials used DNA fingerprints of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to investigate cases of human illness. CDC reports that this outbreak strain (Infantis) is rare, and typically only 0 to 3 cases are reported per month to PulseNet.

    Through interviews by state public health officials, FDA’s review of consumer complaints, and from a comparison of pet products from human exposure, some brands of dry pet food produced by Diamond Pets Foods at a single manufacturing facility in South Carolina have now been linked to human Salmonella infections.

    FDA, CDC, and state investigations are ongoing in an effort to determine if other brands of dry dog food produced at the South Carolina facility may be linked to confirmed human illnesses. FDA will provide updates on the investigation as new information becomes available.

    Your rating: None (2 votes)
    Salmonella  |  Comments
  • Posted: May 25th, 2012 - 12:00am by Doug Powell

    A far north Queensland woman is seeking more than half a million dollars in compensation after slipping on gravy at a bowls club (that’s what they call lawn bowling in Australia).

    Eeva (Eeva) Johanna Watchers, 35, filed documents in the Cairns District Court this week saying she had fallen near a buffet at the Edmonton Bowls Club in July 2008 and dislocated her right knee.

 Ms Watchers says the slip left her with permanent knee damage and she's been unable to return to work.


    Your rating: None (1 vote)
    Wacky and Weird  |  Comments
  • Posted: April 27th, 2012 - 3:50am by Doug Powell

    KFC has been ordered to pay $8 million damages by a judge who found a young Sydney girl was left severely brain damaged after eating a Twister chicken wrap.

    AAP reports the family of Monika Samaan (right) successfully sued the fast food giant, claiming the source of her salmonella poisoning was a Twister.

    Her father told the NSW Supreme Court he bought the wrap on October 24, 2005, at the KFC outlet at Villawood, in Sydney's west.

    While Monika, her parents and her brother ended up in hospital with salmonella poisoning, the then seven-year-old was left severely brain damaged and is effectively now a quadriplegic.

    On Friday, Justice Stephen Rothman ordered KFC to pay $8 million damages plus legal costs.

    Last Friday, he found KFC had breached its duty of care to the young girl.
    KFC has indicated it will appeal his finding.

    In a statement, the family's lawyer George Vlahakis said, "The compensation ordered is very much needed. KFC have to date been determined that Monika does not receive a cent."

    Your rating: None (1 vote)
    Salmonella  |  Comments
  • Posted: March 19th, 2012 - 9:53pm by Doug Powell

    WPRI continues its in-depth coverage on the one-year anniversary of the salmonella-in-Zeppole outbreak that killed up to 3 and sickened 83.

    A lawsuit filed by the family of a Cranston man who died one year ago this week after eating zeppole pastry days before the salmonella outbreak, named three Rhode Island companies in a lawsuit.

    According to the lawsuit , plaintiff Frank R. Castelli bought “bakery products from Defusco's Bakery, Inc. and/or Tony's Colonial Food, Inc to be consumed by his father, Plaintiff, Frank Castelli.”

    The 84-year-old Cranston resident developed flu like symptoms around the time of last Saint Joseph’s day and died on March 23, 2011. Frank R. Castelli said his father was healthy in the days leading up to eating the pastry.

    Buono's Italian Bakery is the third company named in the lawsuit. John Doe Corporation is also listed as a defendant as a "fictitious" place holder for a company that could be named at a later date.

    The defendants are accused of 3 counts each; Strict liability, breach of warranty and negligence.

    The lawsuit alleges Castelli's “illness and death were a result of the bakery products he ingested which were contaminated with salmonella.”

    Arnold Buono, the owner of Buono’s, is unsure why his bakery is name in the lawsuit.

    “All toxicology reports from my bakery came back negative for salmonella,” Buono said.

    Buono told target 12 he sold zeppoles to Tony's Colonial Food last year.

    “We made about 7,500 zeppoles and we didn’t hear about anyone getting sick," Buono said.

    None of the other defendants would comment on the lawsuit. Castelli’s attorney advised his family not to comment about the pending litigation. The lawsuit does not name a dollar amount.

    One of the other deaths involved a man in his 90's according to the Department of Health. No details on the third death have been released.

    Investigators blamed the storage of pastry shells on cartons that had contained raw eggs and improperly chilled custard as potential causes for the outbreak.

    Your rating: None (2 votes)
    Salmonella  |  Comments
  • Posted: March 15th, 2012 - 8:45pm by Doug Powell

    Fresh Del Monte is ending its lawsuit against Oregon health officials who linked a salmonella outbreak to its Guatemalan cantaloupe.

    In August, Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. said it would sue the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division and the agency’s top scientist over how it handled the investigation of the February and March 2011 outbreak that sickened 20 people in the western U.S. and Pennsylvania and Maryland.

    Lynne Terry of The Oregonian reported yesterday that Del Monte Fresh Produce said in a letter e-mailed to the state earlier this month that it would not act on its notice to sue William Keene and Oregon Public Health.

    "Obviously, it's a relief for us that that's withdrawn so now we can focus on the job we're supposed to do which is to protect the public's health," said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, state epidemiologist. The tort claim filed last August had gobbled up time of state scientists and lawyers dealing with it, she said.

    The claim was unprecedented. State epidemiologists investigate dozens of foodborne illness outbreaks every year and name the culprits to prevent more people from getting sick. No other company has ever filed a suit or threatened to sue Oregon over one of those investigations.

    "There have been lots of outbreaks," Hedberg said. "Why some companies choose to work with public health and others want to fight it -- I can't answer that."

    Del Monte Fresh Produce wouldn't either. A spokesman said the company "does not comment on ongoing or closed investigations."

    The company's letter said the withdrawal marked "a show of good faith" in its discussions with Oregon Public Health over food safety. It asked for another meeting with Oregon's top food safety detectives.

    The state agreed to a meeting in Portland.

    "I'm not sure why they want it," Hedberg said. "We work with businesses and companies but that does not preclude us from notifying the general public if we find a food item that's been responsible for an outbreak or cluster of illnesses."

    The saga dates to January 2011 when people started getting sick. In March, the company recalled nearly 60,000 whole cantaloupes imported from its facility in Guatemala. The recall notice, published on the Food and Drug Administration website, said the melons could be contaminated with Salmonella Panama, the strain involved in the outbreak.

    In July, the FDA imposed an import alert, effectively banning the sale of the Guatemalan melons until the company demonstrated they were safe. Located in Coral Gables, Fla., Del Monte Fresh Produce is a major importer of cantaloupe. A third of its supply comes from Guatemala.

    The company, which is not part of the Del Monte Foods conglomerate, responded to the alert by filing suit against the FDA. Then in August, it filed the tort claim against Keene and Oregon Public Health along with a separate ethics complaint against Keene.

    The documents said Keene conducted a shoddy investigation. They said he never found salmonella in its cantaloupes but named the company anyway. Del Monte Fresh Produce also blamed Keene for the recall, saying he pushed the FDA to take action.

    But Keene was not the only epidemiologist who concluded that Del Monte Fresh Produce was to blame in that outbreak. His peers in Washington state reached the same conclusion.

    In September, the FDA lifted its import alert and Oregon's Government Ethics Commission dismissed the ethics claim against Keene.

    At the time, Kirk Smith, epidemiology supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Health, told the Washington Post it’s rare for scientists investigating foodborne illness outbreaks to test the exact food suspected of carrying pathogens. By the time symptoms occur and a foodborne illness is reported and confirmed, the product in question has likely been consumed or has exceeded its shelf-life and been thrown away.

    Instead, scientists, like detectives, interview victims, collect data, analyze patterns and match food “fingerprints” to determine the likely source of an outbreak.

    “The majority of outbreaks, we don’t have the food to test,” Smith said. “Laboratory confirmation of the food should never be a requisite to implicating a food item as the vehicle of an outbreak.

    Epidemiology is actually a much faster and more powerful tool than is laboratory confirmation.”

    Your rating: None (1 vote)
    Food Safety Policy  |  Comments
  • Posted: December 22nd, 2011 - 4:35pm by Ben Chapman

    Ben Chapman

    Public health folks in the city of Hamburg are being sued for €2.3 million (about $3 million USD) after their market was damaged during an outbreak of E. coli O1O4 which was later linked to fresh sprouts. Spanish company Frunet, lodged the claim and is seeking damages for sullying the country's reputation.

    In response to the suit, according to AFP, German health authorities are supporting their summer cucumber warning,

    "The Office for Health and Consumer Protection rejects these claims since the warning about the company's cucumbers was necessary and right," the health office said in a written statement.

    Insisting it believed it had taken the right course of action in issuing a warning with the information it had at the time, it said: "Protecting health comes before economic interests of companies."

    The European Union provided €227 million in compensation for European producers of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes and sweet peppers, withdrawn from the market as a result of the disease.

    This isn't a unique lawsuit, earlier this year Del Monte sued the state of Oregon following an outbreak investigation linked to their products.

    Paul Mead, of the oft-quoted Mead et al paper (76 million illnesses a year) was once cited as saying, "Food safety recalls are either too early or too late. If you're right, it's always too late. If you're wrong, it's always too early."

    Your rating: None (2 votes)
  • Posted: December 8th, 2011 - 5:59am by Doug Powell

    Whole Foods has denied any wrongdoing after firing an employee who complained about poop in the cheese aisle at the Miami Beach store.

    Libba from Whole Foods Market took to the Eater blog to say:

    “Here are the facts regarding the plumbing issue: that area of Miami Beach has problems with pipes backing up during high tide when there's been significant rainfall. The backup in our store equated to about an inch of water that encompassed about a three-foot span over one of the drains. The entire area was closed for complete cleaning as soon as the problem was discovered, and was cleaned and sanitized again the next day by a professional cleaning service.

    “When it happened again the same professional cleaners were back at the store in less than 24 hours and the entire area was sanitized again.

    “At all times, the areas of the store open to customers were clean and safe."

    Whole Foods sucks at food safety, so I look forward to disclosure in the lawsuit filed on behalf of the former employee by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


    Your rating: None (1 vote)
    Wacky and Weird  |  Comments
  • Posted: December 7th, 2011 - 11:35am by Doug Powell

    On Nov. 1, 2009, the smell in the Miami Beach Whole Foods super-stinky cheese aisle reached a new level of pungency as raw sewage covered the floor.

    Despite the efforts of Whole Foods management to view the situation through rose-scented glasses, and a lot of air freshener, raw sewage is neither an aromatic nor safety enhancement.

    Miami New Times Blogs reported at the time that an unnamed employee said after brown-colored and rank smelling water flooded the cheese aisle she discovered that a sewage line had broken. After local management decided to just lock the bathroom doors and cover the mess with air spray, she reported the incident to corporate management.

    She got fired.

    Now, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is suing the chain for firing the employee.

    OSHA is asking the federal court to remedy the situation by issuing an order that includes a permanent injunction against Whole Foods to prevent future violations of this law; reinstating the former employee with full benefits; paying back wages, punitive damages and compensatory damages to the employee; expunging the employee's personnel file with respect to the matters at issue in this case; and granting any other appropriate relief.

    Your rating: None (2 votes)
    Wacky and Weird  |  Comments
  • Posted: November 28th, 2011 - 4:04pm by Doug Powell

    On Nov. 21, The Packer conducted an exclusive question-and-answer interview with Will Steele, president and CEO of Frontera Produce, Edinburg, Texas, the marketer of the listeria-tainted cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms, Holly, Colo. Below are some edited highlights from that interview.

    Q. Please explain Frontera Produce’s business relationship with Jensen Farms.

    Our role was that of a marketing agent, providing our expertise to find buyers and manage the sales paperwork and logistics for cantaloupe grown and packed by Jensen Farms.

    As part of our marketing services, we utilized our inventory control system in which every pallet of Jensen Farms cantaloupe marketed by Frontera was remotely entered into our database when it was harvested and shipped. This proved to be important in tracking the product to customers in our database because we had records of where each pallet came from and where Jensen Farms shipped it.

    Q. What are Frontera Produce’s food safety requirements and traceability systems? Have any changed since this outbreak?

    In the wake of this experience, we are examining, among other things, the role of audits. Third-party audits are an important and useful tool, but they are obviously not fail-safe. Audits provide baseline information on conditions at the time they are conducted. So we are looking at possible changes that might further enhance food safety. One area of focus is whether additional steps are needed to validate the audit findings regarding food safety protocols that are in place. Validation could be in the form of a follow-up audit, or perhaps other measures that will help provide additional assurance of food safety compliance.
    This is an industry-wide issue that all of us must deal with, so we are also talking with others in the produce industry and sharing our experience so that we can further our collective knowledge and understanding.

    Q. What’s your view on the lawsuits that have named Frontera as a defendant?

    First, it is important to remember that the greatest tragedy in all of this is the human one. And it is this human tragedy that drives us to continue to analyze every aspect of this unprecedented event in an attempt to prevent it from ever happening again.

    That there is litigation is not surprising; almost anytime there is an injury, a lawsuit will follow. In fact, it is to be expected. We have seen this again and again, where even companies that never saw or touched the product were drawn into litigation based on association or something other than actual wrong-doing. It is an unfortunate reality.

    Your rating: None (1 vote)
    Food Safety Policy  |  Comments