Category Archives: Food Microbiology Research

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.

India – 20 train passengers hospitalised due to food poisoning in Kerala

The Hindu

As many as 20 train passengers, including children, were admitted to the Thrissur General Hospital on Tuesday with symptoms of food poisoning. They were travelling in Maveli Express from Mookambika to Thiruvananthapuam. All were discharged after receiving treatment.

The passengers, belonging to one family, were returning after a dance arangettam programme at Mookambika. According to the passengers, they had consumed food bought from the Mangalore railway station.

USA – Coblentz Chocolate Company Recalls Select Peanut Butter Products Because of Possible Health Risk

FDA

Summary

Company Announcement Date:
FDA Publish Date:
Product Type:
Food & Beverages
Peanut Butter
Foodborne Illness
Reason for Announcement:
Salmonella
Company Name:
Coblentz Chocolate Company
Brand Name:
Coblentz Chocolate Company
Product Description:
Various chocolate products containing peanut butter

Company Announcement

Coblentz Chocolate Company of Walnut Creek, Ohio is recalling certain Peanut Butter Products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, 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.

This recall is a direct result of the J.M. Smucker Co. Jif® Peanut Butter recall.  Coblentz Chocolate Company has ceased using Jif® Peanut Butter in production at this time. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The products were distributed nationwide and reached consumers through the Coblentz Chocolate Company retail store and other retail locations.

The products included in the recall were sold between November 12, 2021, and May 21, 2022.  The specific products include lot numbers 1315-2140.

Products included in the recall are Peanut Butter Spread, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Graham Peanut Butter Sandwich, Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwich, Oversized Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Fudge Sampler, Peanut Butter Fudge, Buckeye Fudge, Oversized Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Oversized Peanut Butter Pretzel Cluster, Peanut Butter Truffle, Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Corn, Select Gift Boxes: 4 oz. Deluxe Assortment, 8 oz. Deluxe Assortment, 16 oz. Deluxe Assortment, 32 oz. Deluxe Assortment, 8 oz. Assorted Creams, 16 oz. Assorted Creams.

Consumers who have purchased any of the items listed above are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.  Consumers with questions can contact the company at jifrecall@CoblentzChocolates.com or 1-800-338-9341.


Company Contact Information

Consumers:
 1-800-338-9341
 jifrecall@CoblentzChocolates.com

Australia – Australia Food Recall Statistics 2021

FSANZ

Microbe

76.PNG

USA – New Era of Smarter Food Safety: FDA’s Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan

FDA

New Era of Smarter Food Safety - FDA's Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan Cover

Tackling foodborne outbreaks faster and revealing the root cause are essential for the prevention of future outbreaks. We have a plan to do that.

Foodborne disease remains a significant public health problem in the United States. The FDA’s Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan (FORIP), described in this document, is an important step that the FDA is taking to enhance the speed, effectiveness, coordination, and communication of outbreak investigations. (Unless stated otherwise, this report focuses exclusively on the response to human food and not animal food.)

Our ultimate goal is to bend the curve of foodborne illness in this country.

France – Foodwatch complaint targets Nestlé and Ferrero

LEX

A consumer watchdog has filed a complaint against Nestlé and Ferrero in relation to recent E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks involving the companies.

In the action, Foodwatch France lists seven offences including placing on the market products harmful to health and failure to implement procedures to withdraw or recall such a product, endangering the lives of others and export to a non-EU country of food potentially harmful to health.

The two complaints include the case of Louna, a 6-year-old, who was hospitalized because of a Salmonella infection after eating Kinder chocolate, said Foodwatch. The multi-country outbreak has sickened hundreds.

The Nestlé E. coli outbreak involves 56 cases and two deaths from Buitoni brand Fraîch’Up pizzas in France. Production at the factory in Caudry was stopped in April. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal inquiry into the incident.

The Ferrero monophasic Salmonella typhimurium chocolate outbreak has affected at least 324 people in 16 countries. Belgian authorities halted production at the Arlon facility in April, and an investigation has been launched by the Luxembourg Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The two Foodwatch complaints against Nestlé and Ferrero were filed in Paris this week by the law firm Teissonniere Topaloff Lafforgue Andreu et Associés (TTLA) on behalf of the group and several victims. They are seeking sanctions against the companies and compensation for the victims.