Category Archives: Food Microbiology Blog

Research – Application of ultra-fine bubble technology to reduce Listeria monocytogenes contamination of fresh produce

Center for Produce Safety

Summary

Water used for washing or hydrocooling can act as a source of produce contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. Since this could lead to human infections, controlling L. monocytogenes in hydrocooling water and produce is critical for food safety. Commercial disinfectants (chlorine, quaternary ammonium compounds) are not completely effective in killing L. monocytogenes in wash water or on produce, especially in presence of organic load.

This proposal aims to investigate the potential of a new technology that employs water containing ultra-fine gas bubbles (size ~ 1 micrometer or less) for washing produce (celery, gala apples, romaine lettuce). We will generate ultra-fine ozone (UFO) bubbles in water using a high energy shear method and test the potential of resulting solution to rapidly kill (in 30 to 60 sec) L. monocytogenes in wash water and on produce surface. In addition, the efficacy of UFO bubble water to synergistically improve the Listeria killing potential of aforementioned commercial disinfectants will be tested. The anti-listerial efficacy of UFO bubble water will also be tested in presence of organic load. Successful completion of this project will provide the produce industry with novel antimicrobial treatment for disinfecting wash water and produce in single pass or re- circulated hydrocooling systems.

Technical Abstract

The widespread distribution of Listeria monocytogenes in agricultural environments such as soil, manure and water results in frequent contamination of food processing areas. Although good agricultural practices partially reduce contamination, however, due to the open nature of farming, it is extremely difficult to completely prevent pathogen influx. Water used for washing or hydrocooling can act as a source of equipment and produce contamination with L. monocytogenes. Since this could lead to human infections, controlling L. monocytogenes in hydrocooling water and on the surface of fresh produce is critical for food safety. Currently used commercial disinfectants (chlorine, peracetic acid, quaternary ammonium compounds) are not completely effective in killing L. monocytogenes in wash water or on the surface of produce, especially in presence of organic load. Moreover, the presence of chemical residues and the formation of harmful organochlorine compounds is an occupational concern due to associated health risks, including cancer. Therefore, there is a need for developing novel strategies that could be employed (either alone or in combination with currently used commercial disinfectants) to control L. monocytogenes in wash water and on surface of fresh produce, vegetables and fruits.

This proposal aims to investigate the potential of a new technology that employs water containing ultra-fine gas bubbles (size ~ 1 micrometer or less) for washing produce (celery, gala apples, romaine lettuce). We will generate ultra-fine ozone (UFO) bubbles in water using a high energy shear method and test the potential of resulting solution to rapidly kill (in 30 to 60 sec) L. monocytogenes in wash water and on produce surface. In addition, the efficacy of UFO bubble water to synergistically improve the Listeria killing potential of aforementioned commercial disinfectants will be tested. The anti-listerial efficacy of UFO bubble water will also be tested in presence of organic load.

Potential impact from anticipated outcomes: Successful completion of this project will provide the produce industry with novel antimicrobial treatment for disinfecting wash water and produce in dump tanks, and single pass or re-circulated hydrocooling systems. This intervention will translate into increased microbiological safety of fresh produce.

Research – Frozen Vegetable Processing Plants Can Harbour Diverse Listeria monocytogenes Populations: Identification of Critical Operations by WGS

MDPI

Frozen vegetables have emerged as a concern due to their association with foodborne outbreaks such as the multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes serogroup IVb linked to frozen corn. The capacity of L. monocytogenes to colonize food-processing environments is well-known, making the bacteria a real problem for consumers. However, the significance of the processing environment in the contamination of frozen foods is not well established. This study aimed to identify potential contamination niches of L. monocytogenes in a frozen processing plant and characterize the recovered isolates. A frozen vegetable processing plant was monitored before cleaning activities. A total of 78 points were sampled, including frozen vegetables. Environmental samples belonged to food-contact surfaces (FCS); and non-food-contact surfaces (n-FCS). Positive L. monocytogenes samples were found in FCS (n = 4), n-FCS (n = 9), and the final product (n = 1). A whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis revealed two clusters belonging to serotypes 1/2a-3a and 1/2b-3b). The genetic characterization revealed the presence of four different sequence types previously detected in the food industry. The isolate obtained from the final product was the same as one isolate found in n-FCS. A multi-virulence-locus sequence typing (MVLST) analysis showed four different virulence types (VT). The results obtained highlight the relevant role that n-FCS such as floors and drains can play in spreading L. monocytogenes contamination to the final product. View Full-Text

Research – Microbiome of Lettuce Might Hold Secret to Better Food Safety

Growing Produce

Eurofins Food Testing UK

Researchers at the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety are preparing to launch a study on E. coli colonization from a new angle: the microbiome of lettuce.

By studying the interactions between EcO157 and the lettuce microbiome — the entire community of microorganisms like bacteria that live on the surface of lettuce — researchers hope to better understand how the microbiome may affect the pathogen’s fate during produce processing.

Center for Food Safety Professor Xiangyu Deng, lead researcher on the project, says, “We want to really figure out the interactions between the pathogen and potential biocontrol organisms indigenous to lettuce.”

In other words, how does E. coli interact with other microorganisms on lettuce, and how can we use those interactions to control foodborne outbreaks?

The focus of the research, to start this year, will be how the microbiome interacts with EcO157. The team will use a new microscopic approach to create a biogeographic map of the microbiome.

“Clearly the microbiome interacts with EcO157, and that interaction has an implication for food safety,” Deng adds. “We want to understand the mechanism behind this interaction.”

Finland – Large Salmonella outbreak dominates Finnish figures

Food Safety News

A Salmonella outbreak affected more than 700 people in Finland in 2021, according to new information from the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto).

The implicated food was a salad with iceberg lettuce, cucumber and peas served in several kindergartens. It was previously known that almost 450 people, mostly children, had been ill.

Officials in the city of Jyväskylä investigated the incident with the help of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Overall, 46 foodborne outbreaks were recorded in Finland this past year affecting almost 1,400 people. In 2020, 34 outbreaks were reported involving 543 people.

Seven Salmonella outbreaks sickened 824 people compared to three outbreaks with 21 sick in 2020.

The most common pathogen was norovirus with nine outbreaks and 260 cases. One of the main factors that contributed to foodborne norovirus incidents was an infected kitchen worker.

Read More at the link above.

Research – Temperature, Time, and Type, Oh My! Key Environmental Factors Impacting the Recovery of Salmonella Typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes, and Tulane Virus from Surfaces 

Journal of Food Protection

Environmental monitoring (EM) programs are designed to detect the presence of pathogens in food manufacturing environments with the goal of preventing microbial contamination of food. Nevertheless, limited knowledge exists regarding the influence of environmental conditions on microbial recovery during EM. This study utilizes a commercially-available polyurethane foam (PUF) EM tool to determine the influence of environmental factors on the recovery of foodborne pathogens. The specific objectives of this study were to determine if environmental conditions and surface composition impact the recovery of sought-after microorganisms found in food processing environments. These data are compared across 1) microorganism type, 2) surface type, 3) environmental temperature and relative humidity, and 4) exposure time. Two bacteria ( Listeria monocytogenes , Salmonella Typhimurium) and one human norovirus surrogate (Tulane virus [TV]) were inoculated onto three non-porous surfaces (polypropylene, stainless steel, neoprene). Surfaces were held in an environmental chamber for 24 or 72 h at 30°C/30%, 6°C/85%, and 30°C/85% relative humidity (RH). Data indicate that microbial recovery from environmental surfaces significantly (p ≤ 0.05) varies by microorganism type, environmental conditions, and exposure time. For instance, all microorganisms were significantly different from each other, with the greatest mean log reduction being TV and the lesser reduction being L. monocytogenes at 4.94 ± 1.75 log 10 PFU/surface and 2.54 ± 0.91 log 10 CFU/surface, respectively. Overall, these data can be used to improve the effectiveness of EM programs and underscores the need to better comprehend how EM test results are impacted by food manufacturing environmental conditions.

USA – Food Safety Belongs on the Grill

USDA

Meat on the grill

There’s nothing better than gathering around the grill to prepare a good meal. Don’t forget the rules of food safety this grilling season.

Wash Your Hands

USDA recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. In our recent consumer research study (PDF, 49 KB), 97% of participants who attempted to wash their hands failed to wash them properly. Additionally, 56% of participants didn’t attempt to wash their hands at all during meal preparation. Most participants in this study claimed that they always wash their hands before preparing food; but in reality, most failed to wash their hands properly when observed.

Use a Food Thermometer

You can’t see, smell, or taste germs that can cause foodborne illness. USDA doesn’t recommend tasting food to check if it’s fully cooked. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure that your food is fully cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. When grilling ground meats (beef, pork, veal or lamb), make sure they reach an internal temperature of 160 F on a food thermometer. Ground poultry is safe to eat once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 F.

Avoid Cross Contamination

Cross contamination is one of the main causes of foodborne illness. Here are some tips:

  • Use separate cutting boards—one for raw meat and poultry, and the other for fruits and vegetables.
  • USDA recommends not washing meat products, because bacteria can spread from the meat onto your sink and kitchen surfaces.
  • Use separate plates while grilling—one for bringing raw meat and poultry to the grill, and the other for removing cooked meat and poultry off the grill.

For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email MPHotline@usda.gov to reach a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

USA – Wawa Removes Two Products Containing Jif® Peanut Butter Due to Voluntary Recall by the J.M. Smucker Co. of Select Jif Products Sold in the U.S. -Salmonella

FDA

Company Announcement Date:
FDA Publish Date:
Product Type:
Food & Beverages
Reason for Announcement:
Salmonella
Company Name:
Wawa
Brand Name:
Wawa
Product Description:
Apple & Peanut Butter Dipper

Company Announcement

Effective today, Wawa has removed two products containing Jif Peanut Butter from all stores throughout our operating area. The product was removed following a voluntary recall by the J.M. Smucker Co. of select products sold in the U.S. due to the potential food safety concern.

Of the products covered in the J.M. Smucker Co. recall, Wawa stores carried only two (2) items as follows:

  • Wawa Apple & Peanut Butter Dipper 4.9 oz (all codes) – All Wawa Stores
  • JIF Creamy Peanut Butter 16 Oz | UPC: 00051500255162 | Lot codes: 1274425 thru 2140425

The press release from J.M. Smucker Co. with specific with more details on the full recall can be found hereExternal Link Disclaimer.

If consumers have products matching the above description in their possession, they should dispose of it immediately. Consumers who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should visit www.jif.com/contact-usExternal Link Disclaimer or call 800-828-9980 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM ET.


Company Contact Information

Consumers:
 800-828-9980

USA – Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall of Celery Peanut Butter Cup G&G and Apple Peanut Butter Cup G&G Because of Possible Health Risk – Salmonella

FDA

Company Announcement Date:
FDA Publish Date:
Product Type:
Food & Beverages
Peanut Butter
Foodborne Illness
Reason for Announcement:
Salmonella
Company Name:
Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods Inc.
Brand Name:
Mary’s Harvest
Product Description:
Celery and Apple Peanut Butter Cups

Company Announcement

5/24/2022- Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods Inc, of Portland, Oregon is initiating a voluntary recall of perishable Celery Peanut Butter Cup G&G and Apple Peanut Butter Cup G&G containing the Jif Creamy Peanut Butter To Go 1.5oz. cups due to a potential Salmonella contamination.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recalled products have 9-days shelf life and were distributed in Oregon and Washington to retailers and supermarkets from 02/19/2022 through 05/23/2022. A list of recalled products and affected Use By Dates range is listed in the table below.

Brand

Product

Pack Size

UPC

Use By Dates Range

Included States

Mary’s Harvest Celery Peanut Butter Cup G&G 6/7.5 oz. 8 87241 79672 1 05/15/2022-05/31/2022 OR, WA
Mary’s Harvest Apple Peanut Butter Cup G&G 6/6.5 oz. 8 87241 79671 4 05/15/2022-05/30/2022 OR, WA

Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods, Inc. initiated this recall because it contains the Jif Creamy Peanut Butter To Go 1.5 oz. cup that is recalled by JM Smucker Co.

In addition, if you may have further distributed this product, please identify your customers and notify them at once of this product recall and inform them to not consume the products and destroy or discard it.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

Anyone who has the recalled Mary’s Harvest products in their possession should not consume and should discard of the affected G&G cup including the Jif Creamy Peanut Butter To Go 1.5 oz. cup. Peanut Butter has a longer shelf life than celery or apple, consumer who saved the Jif Creamy Peanut Butter To Go 1.5 oz. cups from G&G products should not consume it.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 503-808-9444, Monday-Friday, 8am -4:30pm PST.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this regard. Please feel free to contact us should you require additional information or assistance.


Company Contact Information

Consumers:
 503-808-9444

Product Photos

USA – Fudgeamentals Recalls Fudge Made With Jif Peanut Butter Because of Possible Health Risk – Salmonella

FDA

Company Announcement Date:
FDA Publish Date:
Product Type:
Food & Beverages
Peanut Butter
Foodborne Illness
Reason for Announcement:
Salmonella
Company Name:
Fudgeamentals
Brand Name:
Walmart and Fudgeamentals
Product Description:
Fudge

Company Announcement

Fudgeamentals of Melville, New York is voluntarily recalling fudge made with Jif Peanut Butter, packaged in 8 oz. plastic containers and 16 oz. plastic trays, in response to the J.M. Smucker recall of Jif Peanut Butter due to possible Salmonella contamination. The FDA’s recall announcement can be found at https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-marketwithdrawals-safety-alerts/j-m-smucker-co-issues-voluntary-recall-select-jifr-productssold-us-potential-salmonella

These products were distributed nationwide through retail stores.

Description

UPC

Lot No.

Packaging Type

Brand

WALMART MKT FDG
TRIO V-TINE (16 OZ)
(C-STRWC-PBC)
6811310

36207

21-335 Clear
Plastic
Container
Walmart
WALMART MKT
FUDGE TRIO (16 OZ)
HOLIDAY FUDGE
TRAY
681131

400749

21-300,
21-301,
21-305
Clear
Plastic
Container
Walmart
PEANUT BUTTER
CHOCOLATE FUDGE
BAR (8 OZ)
FUDGEAMENTALS
840235

800026

22042001,
22059010,
22083003,
22089003,
22129378
Clear
Plastic
Container
Fudgeamentals
VARIETY TRAY (16
OZ) (C-CNC-PBC)
FUDGEAMENTALS
840235

800385

22-059 Clear
Plastic
Container
Fudgea

mentals

PEANUT BUTTER
CHOCOLATE FUDGE
BITES (8 OZ)
FUDGEAMENTALS
840235

800415

22-006,
22-007,
22-066,
22105161
Clear
Plastic
Container
Fudgea

mentals

PEANUT BUTTER
FUDGE BITES (8 OZ)
FUDGEAMENTALS
840235

800422

21-236,
21-307,
21-314,
21-326
Clear
Plastic
Container
Fudgea

mentals

PEANUT BUTTER
FUDGE BAR (8OZ)
FUDGEAMENTALS
840235

800569

22059001,
22083005,
22130393
Clear
Plastic
Container
Fudgea

mentals

TIGER BUTTER
FUDGE BAR (8 OZ)
FUDGEAMENTALS
840235

800811

22059007,
22083006,
22089006,
22130394
Clear
Plastic
Container
Fudgea

mentals

The UPC code can be found on the back or bottom side of the product just above the barcode.

The lot numbers can be found on the secondary-white sticker or printed directly on the side of the package.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

There have been no reports of injuries or adverse reactions due to consumption of these products to date. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should visit http://www.jif.com/contact-usExternal Link Disclaimeror call 800-828-9980 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM ET. Consumers who have purchased impacted products should return them to the place of purchase.


Company Contact Information

Consumers:
 800-828-9980
Media:
Lara Preite
 631-729-1408

Product Photos

USA – Brookshire Grocery Company Recalls Yellow Flesh Peaches Because of Possible Health Risk – Listeria monocytogenes

FDA

Company Announcement Date:
FDA Publish Date:
Product Type:
Food & Beverages
Fruit/Fruit Product
Foodborne Illness
Reason for Announcement:
Listeria monocytogenes
Company Name:
Brookshire Grocery Company
Brand Name:
No brand name
Product Description:
Yellow Flesh Peaches

Company Announcement

Brookshire Grocery Company of Tyler, Texas has issued a voluntary recall of bulk Yellow Flesh Peaches available in stores between 4/15/22 and 5/17/22, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Yellow Flesh Peaches subject to this voluntary recall were sold at Brookshire’s, Super 1 Foods, Spring Market, and FRESH by Brookshire’s retail stores in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

The Yellow Flesh Peaches are a product of Chile and may have a PLU sticker with the words “CHILE” and “TREE RIPE YELLOW PEACH” and the numeral 4044.  Potentially affected product was received from a distributor and shipped to store locations between 4/15/22 and 4/24/22.  Due to the fresh nature of the product, no fresh fruit is expected to be in any household, but consumers who may have frozen or otherwise preserved this item may have it in their possession.

No illnesses have been reported to Brookshire Grocery Company to date.

The recall is a result of random sampling conducted at Brookshire’s distribution center by the Texas Department of State Health Services after potentially affected product was shipped to stores and which revealed a positive test for Listeria monocytogenes.  Brookshire Grocery Company immediately disposed of the affected product at the distribution center, issued a recall notice to its stores, and implemented sanitation procedures at all retail and affected locations.

Any consumer who may have purchased bulk Yellow Flesh Peaches from a Brookshire Grocery Company retail store between 4/15/22 and 5/17/22 and still has them in their possession should dispose of the product immediately.  Consumers with questions may contact Brookshire Grocery Company at 1-888-937-3776.


Company Contact Information

Consumers:
Brookshire Grocery Company
 1-888-937-3776
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