Category: Outbreaks

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FDA’s Searchable Widget for Fraudulent H1N1 (Swine) Flu Products

Ken has previously blogged about liability issues relating to H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu.  Today, the FDA has issued a widget to allow employers, consumers and others to browse and search fraudulent H1N1 influenza products and report suspected fraud. The widget can be copied onto any other Web site or blog.  The FDA had previously … Continue Reading

Jim Prevor Deconstructs CSPI’s List of “Ten Riskiest Foods”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released its list of "Ten Riskiest Foods Regulated by the FDA."  The list has gotten a lot of publicity, particularly because some unexpected foods like potatoes made the list.  Our friend Jim Prevor, the Perishable Pundit, has written a Special Edition of his newsletter that pretty … Continue Reading

Tool For Food Companies and Litigators – New Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response

Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (“CIFOR”) has published new guidelines designed to help local, state and federal agencies to improve their response to outbreaks. I became aware of this (again) through Ricardo Carvajal, who was a reviewer for the guidelines, and his firm’s FDA Law Blog. I agree with Ricardo that while the guidelines … Continue Reading

Video From Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety

University of Nebraska has posted video on its website from the entire three days of the 2009 Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety. You can view my presentation on Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks. More important, you view the presentations of Dr. Andrew Benson and the other scientists who offer fascinating insights into the … Continue Reading

Tort Damages Not the Only Exposure from Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks

For lawyers and insurance adjustors, compartmentalizing food-borne illness claims is easy. They often see their jobs solely as minimizing the tort liability and legal fees. In my experience, attorneys and adjustors often fail to appreciate how outbreaks can affect a client’s (or even a whole industry’s) business going forward. Often, the long-term business losses of a … Continue Reading

The Fuller Monty and Lady Godiva: More on the Plainview Problem

As I predicted last week, more and more companies are discovering that they had incorporated products from Plainview Milk Products Cooperative into what they sold.  The full FDA database, which is constantly being updated, is here. While there have now been recalls of products as widely different as frosting and diet mixes, I was most struck … Continue Reading

Monty Python and the Food Recalls

The recent tuna recall in New England was quite simple compared to the complexities presented by the Plainview Milk Products Cooperative recall of nonfat dry milk, fruit stabilizers, whey protein and gum products distributed over the past two years. Such a recall, particularly where it involves stable food products that are placed in such items as emergency food kits and MREs for the military, presents grave problems. Even the government's current initiatives to help with traceability may not be able to solve these problems in future recalls. And the recall may not even have identified the actual source of salmonella that was found in a USDA test.… Continue Reading

Another Recall From a Company That Does the Right Thing

The FDA announced a recall of fresh tuna steaks distributed to Shaw’s, Star Market and Big Y grocery stores by North Coast Sea-Foods Corp. of Boston and New Bedford.  The alleged problem was increased levels of histamine that might cause scombroid poisoning.  The tuna was removed from sale on June 24, but consumers who might … Continue Reading

Why Are Food-borne Organisms Associated with Beef?

 USDA’s Be Food Safe Twitter Feed circulated its Fact Sheet titled “Beef . . . from Farm to Table.” First published a few years ago, this might be of interest to businesses involved in the sale, marketing, labeling, and/or packaging of beef. The article is a helpful primer on the history of beef, current industry practices, USDA’s … Continue Reading

Tracking the Food Safety Working Group – More or Less Legal Exposure For Food Sellers?

This week the Obama administration announced the launch of a new website for the recently formed food safety working group. Obama announced the formation of this group in March in the wake of the high-profile food safety issues surrounding PCA peanut products.  This website will assist in tracking the efforts of the working group. As discussed … Continue Reading

How Not to Feed Airport Guards

An Interesting news item out of Kathmandu:  40 airport guards were taken sick with what appears to be dysentery all at the same time.  The cause appears to be eating the same tainted food in the same employee cafeteria.  According to the Malaysian national news agency: All the police personnel used to share a cafeteria. … Continue Reading

Secretary of Agriculture Emphasizes Safety of U.S. Pork

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued a statement today emphasizing that U.S. pork products are safe and that there is no evidence that U.S. swine have been infected with the swine flu virus. Calling trade restrictions on pork or pork products unnecessary, Vilsack said any such restrictions would be inconsistent with World Organization for Animal … Continue Reading

FDA and CDC Warn of Salmonella in Raw Sprouts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending against eating raw alfalfa sprouts because of potential salmonella contamination. According to the FDA, the salmonella contamination appears to be in seeds for alfalfa sprouts. As of yesterday, 31 cases of illness with Salmonella Saintpaul have been reported to the … Continue Reading

Update on the Rojak Case

The rojak-related outbreak in Singapore happened only on April 3, but the Singapore health officials have already issued their official report.  The report links the illnesses to Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which in turn got into the rojak by having raw cuttlefish on an upper shelf of a refrigerator, which dripped into the gravy on the lower shelf … Continue Reading

Food-Borne Illness: Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a study of the incidence of food-borne illness in ten states.  The study, by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, known as "FoodNet", in general concludes that food-borne illness has not significantly either increased or decreased in the United States since 2004, after substantial gains in food safety … Continue Reading

The High Cost of Loving Rojak

Eating rojak, a local delicacy, in ordinarily squeaky-clean Singapore has resulted in two deaths, a miscarriage and over 100 visits to the emergency room. Singapore efficiently dealt with the outbreak, identifying and closing the offending stall and inspecting and approving the remaining stalls in the market by the next morning.… Continue Reading

A Bad Week for Grapefruit

Grapefruit was considered a culprit in a woman suffering a blood clot that nearly lost her a leg, along with birth control bills and a previously undiagnosed condition. Grapefruit interactions with other drugs present an interesting and checkered history.… Continue Reading

California Lawmakers Announce Proposed Food-Safety Reforms in Wake of Pistachio Recalls

As pistachio recalls continue to be announced in the wake of salmonella-tainted pistachios from Setton Farms, two California lawmakers this week announced legislation that is expected to strengthen food-safety standards in that state. The bill to be introduced in the California State Assembly by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Assemblyman Mike Feuer is expected to … Continue Reading

Nestle’s Makes the Very Best Peanut Decision

March 19's House hearings on food safety highlighted that Nestle has used its own inspectors in 2002 and 2006, who had found fault with Peanut Corporation of America's plants, while Kellogg's and others had relied on PCA's own inspections by IAB. The question is: why did Nestle's results never see the light of day and can policies be developed that allow such information to reach the public without grinding the food industry to a halt?… Continue Reading

Georgia House Unanimously Passes Food Safety Bill; Kellogg CEO Calls for Food Safety Reforms

Update to today’s earlier post: the Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill today that would strengthen food safety laws in Georgia. The Georgia House and Senate now will resolve minor differences in the proposed legislation and send a final version to Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature. Also today, the AP reports that … Continue Reading

Maple Leaf Foods: A Case Study in the Persistence of Memory

Maple Leaf Foods is Canada’s largest food processor, and as the name implies, it traces its history a long way with our neighbor to the north.  It has always prided itself on its food safety procedures.  Last year, as was widely reported, more than 20 people all across Canada died from listeriosis traced to one … Continue Reading

The Best Restaurant on Earth Closed Due to Food Poisoning

The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin star restaurant which was once named the best restaurant in the world (it is currently second), was closed temporarily because of reports of food poisoning.  Nothing has been found in a thorough search, leading to speculation that there may have been some form of sabotage, or simply a non-specific … Continue Reading
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