Category Archives: CDC

USA – Listeria Outbreak Connected to Big Olaf Creamery Allegedly Causes Death of One Woman

Food Poisoning News

A recent outbreak of Listeria infections is believed to be linked to an ice cream producer in Sarasota, Florida, called Big Olaf Creamery. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there have been 23 people affected by the outbreak with 22 of these people seeking hospitalization due to the severity of their symptoms. One woman, Mary Billman, has passed away, allegedly due to the consumption of Big Olaf ice cream. Ms. Billman’s estate is pursuing legal action in response to her death.

USA – Listeria Outbreak Linked to Ice Cream

CDC

Listeria Outbreak Linked to Ice Cream

Illustration with a triangle and exclamation mark and text reading Food Safety Alert

Posted July 8, 2022

CDC is concerned that Big Olaf Creamery ice cream could still be in people’s homes or available for sale in stores. Big Olaf Creamery ice cream is sold in Florida in Big Olaf Creamery stores and stores with different company names.

Fast Facts
  • Illnesses: 23
  • Hospitalizations: 22
  • Deaths: 1
  • States: 10
  • Recall: No
  • Investigation status: Active
Representative image for this outbreak
What Everyone Should Do

Do not eat Big Olaf Creamery ice cream.

  • If you have any Big Olaf Creamery ice cream at home, throw it away.
  • If you are in Florida and don’t know if the ice cream being sold is Big Olaf Creamery brand, ask the store before you buy or eat it.

Clean any areas, containers, and serving utensils that may have touched the ice cream.

What Businesses Should Do

Do not serve or sell any Big Olaf Creamery ice cream products.

  • Clean and disinfect any areas and equipment that may have touched Big Olaf Creamery ice cream products, including ice cream scoops and other serving utensils.
What People at Higher Risk Should Do

Listeria is most likely to sicken pregnant people and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems. Other people can be infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these Listeria symptoms:

  • Pregnant people typically experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
  • People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.

USA – Domestically Acquired Cases of Cyclosporiasis — United States, May–June 2022

CDC

LAST UPDATED JUNE 30, 2022 4:00 PM EDT

Cyclosporiasis illnesses are reported year-round in the United States. However, during the spring and summer months there is often an increase in cyclosporiasis acquired in the United States (i.e., “domestically acquired”). The exact timing and duration of these seasonal increases in domestically acquired cyclosporiasis can vary, but reports tend to increase starting in May. In previous years the reported number of cases peaked between June and July, although activity can last as late as September. The overall health impact (e.g., number of infections or hospitalizations) and the number of identified clusters of cases (i.e., cases that can be linked to a common exposure) also vary from season to season. Previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of fresh produce, including basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and snow peas.

At a Glance
  • Illnesses: 61
  • Hospitalizations: 6
  • Deaths: 0
  • States reporting cases: 13

CDC, along with state and federal health and regulatory officials, monitor cases of cyclosporiasis in the United States in the spring and summer months to detect outbreaks linked to a common food source. However, many cases of cyclosporiasis cannot be directly linked to an outbreak, in part because of the lack of validated laboratory “fingerprinting” methods needed to link cases of Cyclospora infection. Officials use questionnaires to interview sick people to determine what they ate in the 14-day period before illness onset. If a commonality is found, CDC and partners work quickly to determine if a contaminated food product is still available in stores or in peoples’ homes and issue advisories.

Latest Information

  • This is the first monthly report on the number of domestically acquired cyclosporiasis illnesses with onset on or after May 1, 2022. Cases continue to be reported.
  • As of June 28, 2022, 61 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in people who had no history of international travel during the 14-day period before illness onset have been reported to CDC by 13 states since May 1, 2022.
    • The median illness onset date is May 31, 2022 (range: May 3–June 20, 2022).
    • At least 6 people have been hospitalized; no deaths have been reported.

Research – Cronobacter Infection and Infants

CDC

Getting sick from Cronobacter does not happen often, but infections in infants can be deadly. Cronobacter infections in infants less than 12 months old are often linked to powdered infant formula. If your baby is fed with powdered infant formula, you can take steps to protect your baby from sickness.

Cronobacter sakazakii is a germ found naturally in the environment.

These germs can live in dry foods, such as:

  • Powdered infant formula
  • Powdered milk
  • Herbal teas
  • Starches

Rare but Serious Illness in Infants

Cronobacter infections are rare, but they can be deadly in newborns. Infections in infants usually occur in the first days or weeks of life. About two to four cases are reported to CDC every year, but this figure may not reflect the true number of illnesses. That’s because most hospitals and laboratories are not required to report Cronobacter infections to health departments.

Cronobacter germs can cause a dangerous blood infection (sepsis). They can also make the linings surrounding the brain and spinal cord swell (meningitis).

Infants who are more likely to get sick include:

  • Infants 2 months and younger. These infants are most likely to develop meningitis if they get sick from Cronobacter.
  • Infants born prematurely.
  • Infants with weakened immune systems. Babies with this condition can’t fight germs as well because of illness or medical treatment, such as chemotherapy for cancer.

Cronobacter illness in infants will usually start with a fever and poor feeding, excessive crying, or very low energy.  Some infants may also have seizures. You should take an infant with these symptoms to a medical provider as soon as possible.

Cronobacter infection can also be serious for:

  • People 65 years and older.
  • People who have immune systems weakened due to illnesses or conditions, such as HIV, organ transplants, or cancer.
Powdered formula is not sterile and might have germs in it.

Powdered infant formula can be contaminated in homes or in processing facilities that make it.

In the home:

You can accidentally get Cronobacter in powdered formula after you open the container. Cronobacter can live on surfaces in your home, such as a kitchen counter or sinks, and in water. Cronobacter could get into powdered formula if you place formula lids or scoops on contaminated surfaces and later touch the formula. It can also get into formula if you mix the formula with contaminated water or in a contaminated bottle.

In a processing facility:

Cronobacter can also get into powdered infant formula in a processing facility in these ways:

  • If the manufacturer uses contaminated ingredients to make the formula.
  • If the formula powder touches a contaminated surface.

USA – Norovirus implicated in Carnival Splendor outbreak

Outbreak News Today

In a follow-up on the gastrointestinal outbreak that affected 93 people (passengers and crew) onboard a recent voyage of Carnival Cruise Line’s, Carnival Splendor, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now states that norovirus was the causative agent of the outbreak.

Seventy-seven passengers and 16 crew members suffered with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea during the May 24–31, 2022 voyage.

Research – Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Reported to National Surveillance, United States, 2009–2018

CDC

Abstract

Foodborne outbreaks reported to national surveillance systems represent a subset of all outbreaks in the United States; not all outbreaks are detected, investigated, and reported. We described the structural factors and outbreak characteristics of outbreaks reported during 2009–2018. We categorized states (plus DC) as high (highest quintile), middle (middle 3 quintiles), or low (lowest quintile) reporters on the basis of the number of reported outbreaks per 10 million population. Analysis revealed considerable variation across states in the number and types of foodborne outbreaks reported. High-reporting states reported 4 times more outbreaks than low reporters. Low reporters were more likely than high reporters to report larger outbreaks and less likely to implicate a setting or food vehicle; however, we did not observe a significant difference in the types of food vehicles identified. Per capita funding was strongly associated with increased reporting. Investments in public health programming have a measurable effect on outbreak reporting.

Foodborne diseases remain a major public health challenge in the United States, where 31 known pathogens cause an estimated 9 million illnesses, 56,000 hospitalizations, and 1,300 deaths annually (1). Efforts to improve food safety and reduce the burden of foodborne disease rely on data from foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigations to help prioritize food safety interventions, policies, and practices. Data from foodborne illness outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide vital information on the foods causing illness and common food–pathogen pairs. Those data are used by the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) to inform outbreak-based attribution models that attribute illnesses to specific food categories (2,3).

Foodborne illness outbreaks are investigated by local, state, and territorial health departments, CDC, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and are reported to CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Reporting Surveillance System (FDOSS) through the web-based National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). Although reported outbreaks are a rich data source, they represent a subset of all outbreaks occurring in the United States; not all outbreaks will be detected, investigated, and reported. Factors influencing which outbreaks are detected, investigated, and reported to CDC include both structural factors associated with the jurisdiction in which the outbreak occurred (e.g., infrastructure and capacity) and characteristics of the outbreak (e.g., size, geographic location, pathogen).

We integrated data from a variety of sources to examine structural factors and describe outbreak characteristics of foodborne outbreaks involving Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, norovirus, and bacterial toxins that were reported to national surveillance. In addition, we assessed the effects of state variation in outbreak reporting on the types of food vehicles identified.

USA – BEAM Dashboard

CDC

The BEAM (Bacteria, Enterics, Amoeba, and Mycotics) Dashboard is an interactive tool to access and visualize data from the System for Enteric Disease Response, Investigation, and Coordination (SEDRIC). The BEAM Dashboard provides timely data on pathogen trends and serotype details to inform work to prevent illnesses from food and animal contact. Currently, the dashboard focuses on data for Salmonella bacteria, but it will eventually include additional pathogens, antimicrobial resistance data, and epidemiologic data from outbreak investigations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For additional questions, please contact simso@cdc.gov.

USA – CDC issues Health Alert: Investigation of Illness Complaints After Consuming Lucky Charms Cereal

Food Poison Journal

During April 2022, there has been an increase in complaints of gastrointestinal illness (GI) attributed to eating Lucky Charms cereal reported primarily to a crowdsourcing website. Some complaints of illness have also been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state, and local health departments. There are very little data on the clinical presentation of these complaints, e.g., symptom profiles, incubation periods, and illness durations, as well as a lack of laboratory testing of clinical specimens. The scarcity of data and lack of a consistent clinical presentation are making it difficult to ascertain if any of these illnesses are linked to the suspected cereal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is coordinating with state and federal partners to characterize the clinical presentations and epidemiology of recent illness reports. CDC is also collaborating with state and federal partners to evaluate data collected from ill people to determine if an outbreak of GI illnesses is occurring and its potential link to Lucky Charms cereal.

USA – USDA investigating a new Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak. Little information has been released.

Food Poisoning News

The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced this week they are investigating a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak. Not much information has been released, but according to the FSIS situation report, the early stages of the investigation have been launched.

The FSIS has not released details about how many people are sick or where they live. The most recent update was posted on April 20, 2022 and states that chicken is a possible source of the outbreak and Salmonella Enteritidis is the pathogen involved.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not released any information on this particular outbreak, but they frequently post updates on illnesses from all kinds of foodborne pathogens.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that develop within 12 hours to 3 days after exposure to the organism. The illness typically lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, hospitalization is necessary and in rare cases death can occur. Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk for severe illness.

If you think you have a Salmonella infection, it’s important to see a doctor right away for treatment.

USA – CDC – Lettuce, Other Leafy Greens, and Food Safety

CDC

Leafy greens arranged on a white background

Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Leafy vegetables (called leafy greens on this page), such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, and bok choy, provide nutrients that help protect you from heart diseasestroke, and some cancers.

But leafy greens, like other vegetables and fruits, are sometimes contaminated with harmful germs. Washing leafy greens does not remove all germs. That’s because germs can stick to the surface of leaves and even get inside them. If you eat contaminated leafy greens without cooking them first, such as in a salad or on a sandwich, you might get sick.

Although anyone can get a foodborne illness, sometimes called food poisoning, some groups of people are more likely to get one and to have a serious illness. These groups include:

  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • Children younger than 5 years
  • People who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness (a weakened immune system)external icon
  • Pregnant people

Eating Leafy Greens

Are leafy greens safe to eat?

Millions of servings of leafy greens are eaten safely every day in the United States. But leafy greens are occasionally contaminated enough to make people sick. To reduce your chance of getting sick, always follow the steps for safely handling and preparing leafy greens before eating or serving them.

Are leafy greens safe for my pet to eat?

Some animals can get sick from some germs that also make people sick. Always follow the steps for safely handling and preparing leafy greens before feeding them to pets and other animals. Never feed recalled food to pets or other animals.

Safely Handling and Preparing Leafy Greens

Do I need to wash all leafy greens?

Prewashed greens don’t need to be washed again. If the label on a leafy greens package says any of the following, you don’t need to wash the greens:

  • Ready-to-eat
  • Triple washed
  • No washing necessary

Prewashed greens sometimes cause illness. But the commercial washing process removes most of the contamination that can be removed by washing.

All other leafy greens should be thoroughly washed before eating, cutting, or cooking.

What is the best way to wash leafy greens?

The best way to wash leafy greens is by rinsing them under running water. Studies show that this step removes some of the germs and dirt on leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits. But no washing method can remove all germs.

Follow these steps to wash leafy greens that you plan to eat raw:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after preparing leafy greens.
  • Get rid of any torn or bruised leaves. Also, get rid of the outer leaves of cabbages and lettuce heads.
  • Rinse the remaining leaves under running water. Use your hands to gently rub them to help get rid of germs and dirt.
  • Dry leafy greens with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Should I soak leafy greens before washing them?

No. Do not soak leafy greens. If you soak them in a sink, germs in the sink can contaminate the greens. If you soak them in a bowl, germs on one leaf can spread to the other leaves. Rinsing leafy greens under running water is the best way to wash them.

Should I wash leafy greens with vinegar, lemon juice, soap, detergent, or produce wash?

Use plain running water to wash leafy greens and other produce. Kitchen vinegar and lemon juice may be used, but CDC is not aware of studies that show vinegar or lemon juice are any better than plain running water.

Do not wash leafy greens or other produce with soap, detergent, or produce wash. Do not use a bleach solution or other disinfectant to wash produce.

What other food safety steps should I keep in mind when I select, store, and prepare leafy greens and other produce?

  • Select leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits that aren’t bruised or damaged.
  • Make sure pre-cut produce, such as bagged salad or cut fruits and vegetables, is refrigerated or on ice at the store.
  • Separate produce from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs in your shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.
  • Store leafy greens, salads, and all pre-cut and packaged produce in a clean refrigerator with the temperature set to 40°F or colder.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. If that isn’t an option, prepare produce before working with raw meat.
  • Wash utensils, cutting boards, and kitchen surfaces with hot, soapy water after each use.
  • Cook thoroughly or throw away any produce that touches raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices.
  • Refrigerate cooked or cut produce, including salads, within 2 hours (1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, like a hot car or picnic).

Germs, Outbreaks, and Recalls

How do leafy greens get contaminated with germs?

Germs that make people sick can be found in many places, including in the soil, in the feces or poop of animals, in refrigerators, and on kitchen surfaces.

Germs can contaminate leafy greens at many points before they reach your plate. For example, germs from animal poop can get in irrigation water or fields where theexternal icon vegetables grow. Germs can also get on leafy greens in packing and processing facilities, in trucks used for shipping, from the unwashed hands of food handlers, and in the kitchen. To prevent contamination, leafy greens should be grown and handled safely at all points from farm to fork.

Read a study by CDC and partners on what we have learned from 10 years of investigating E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens.

How common are outbreaks linked to leafy greens?

In 2014–2018, a total of 51 foodborne disease outbreaks linked to leafy greens (mainly lettuce) were reported to CDC. Five of the 51 were multistate outbreaks that led CDC to warn the public. Among those five outbreaks, two were linked to packaged salads, two were linked to romaine lettuce, and one could not be linked to a specific type of leafy greens.

Most recently, in 2019–2021, CDC investigated and warned the public about nine multistate outbreaks linked to leafy greens. Among those outbreaks, six were linked to packaged salads, one was linked to romaine lettuce, one was linked to baby spinach, and one could not be linked to a specific type of leafy greens. Learn about these outbreaks.

Most foodborne illnesses are not part of a recognized outbreak. The nearly 2,000 illnesses reported in 2014–2020 outbreaks linked to leafy greens represent only a small part of illnesses caused by contaminated leafy greens during those years.

Does CDC warn the public about every foodborne disease outbreak?

No. CDC does not warn the public about every foodborne outbreak—including ones linked to leafy greens. Some reasons for this include:

  • Most sources of foodborne outbreaks are never identified.
  • By the time a source is identified, it might no longer be in stores, restaurants, or homes. This can happen with foods that are perishable (foods that spoil or go bad quickly), such as leafy greens.
  • Most outbreaks affect people in only one state, so local or state health departments lead the work to identify, investigate, and communicate about those outbreaks. CDC typically communicates only about outbreaks that affect people in more than one state.

Investigating outbreaks linked to leafy greensexternal icon can be especially challenging. These outbreaks often go unidentified or unsolved.

What should I do with leafy greens that are part of a recall?

  • Never eat, serve, or sell food that has been recalled, even if some of it was eaten and no one got sick.
  • Return the recalled food to the store or throw it away at home.
    • Throw out the recalled food and any other foods stored with it or that touched it.
    • Put it in a sealed bag in an outside garbage can with a tight lid (so animals cannot get to it).
    • If the recalled food was stored in a reusable container, wash the container in the dishwasher or with hot, soapy water.
  • Follow CDC’s instructions for cleaning your refrigerator after a food recall.

Organic, Hydroponic, and Home-Grown Leafy Greens

Are organic leafy greens less likely to be contaminated than non-organic ones?

All kinds of produce, including organic leafy greens, can be contaminated with harmful germs at any point from farm to fork. CDC is not aware of any evidence that organic greens are safer.

Learn about some outbreaks linked to organic foodsexternal icon.

Are hydroponic or greenhouse-grown leafy greens less likely to be contaminated?

Leafy greens grown using these methods also can be contaminated with harmful germs at any point from farm to fork.

Learn about an outbreak linked to greenhouse-grown leafy greens.

How do I keep leafy greens in my garden safe to eat?

Home gardens can be an excellent source of fruits and vegetables. Follow these tips to help prevent food poisoning:

  • Plant your garden away from animal pens, compost bins, and manure piles.
  • Water your garden with clean, drinkable water.
  • Keep dirty water, including storm runoff, away from the parts of plants you will eat.

Learn about raised bed gardening pdf icon[PDF – 1 page].

Looking to the Future

What steps are industry and the government taking to make leafy greens safer?

CDC is collaborating with FDA, academia, and industry to investigate the factors that contribute to leafy greens contamination.

The leafy greens industry, FDA, and state regulatory authorities have been implementing provisions of the Produce Safety Ruleexternal icon as part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).external icon They are considering what further measures can be taken. FDA’s 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Planexternal icon describes the agency’s plans to work with partners to make leafy greens safer.