Category Archives: Food Toxin

USA – FDA Sampling of Romaine Lettuce in Yuma Finds No Widespread STEC or Salmonella Contamination

Food Safety Tech

Following last year’s widespread E.coli O157 outbreak involving romaine lettuce linked to the Yuma, Arizona growing region (Spring 2018), FDA launched a sampling assignment to test romaine lettuce for pathogenic Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Salmonella spp. The microbiological surveillance samplingbegan on December 18, 2018 in the Yuma region and focused on 26 commercial coolers and cold storage facilities to allow FDA to sample multiple farms from several locations at once. The agency collected and tested a total of 188 samples for both pathogens. It did not detect Salmonella in any sample; STEC was detected in one sample, but additional analysis found that the bacteria was not pathogenic.

“The findings of this assignment suggest that there was no widespread Salmonella or STEC contamination of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region during the period when sampling occurred. As a next step, the FDA is working with leafy green stakeholders in the Yuma region to consider a longer-term environmental study to identify and control risks that will prevent future outbreaks, with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers. – FDA

The point of the sampling assignment was to determine whether target pathogens were present, and if so, to respond quickly before contaminated products reached consumers.

USA – AWERS Grained Salmon Caviar Recalled For Possible Botulism

Food Poisoning Bulletin

AWERS Inc. of Bellevue, Washington is recalling Grained Salmon Caviar in 95 gram tins because it may be contaminated with botulinum toxin, which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Do not eat this product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. Botulinum toxin does not change the appearance, taste, or texture of food. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this issue.

Research – Whole Genome Sequencing Characterization of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli Isolated from Flour from Swiss Retail Markets

Journal of Food Protection


Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are often found in food and cause human infections. Although STEC O157:H7 is most often responsible for human disease, various non-O157 subtypes have caused individual human infections or outbreaks. The importance of STEC serogroup typing is decreasing while detection of virulence gene patterns has become more relevant. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) reveals the entire spectrum of pathogen information, such as toxin variant, serotype, sequence type, and virulence factors. Flour has not been considered as a vector for STEC; however, this product has been associated with several STEC outbreaks in the last decade. Flour is a natural product, and milling does not include a germ-reducing step. Flour is rarely eaten raw, but the risks associated with the consumption of unbaked dough are probably underestimated. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of STEC in flour samples (n = 93) collected from Swiss markets and to fully characterize the isolates by PCR assay and WGS. The prevalence of STEC in these flour samples was 10.8% as indicated by PCR, and a total of 10 STEC strains were isolated (two flour samples were positive for two STEC subtypes). We found one stx2-positve STEC isolate belonging to the classic serogroups frequently associated with outbreaks that could potentially cause severe disease. However, we also found several other common or less common STEC subtypes with diverse virulence patterns. Our results reveal the benefits of WGS as a characterization tool and that flour is a potentially and probably underestimated source for STEC infections in humans.

  • Several STEC serotypes, including O26, were isolated from 8 (8.6%) of 93 flour samples.

  • STEC isolates from flour had a variety of virulence patterns.

  • Flour is a probably underestimated source of STEC infections in humans.

  • WGS for STEC characterization is more comprehensive than common serotyping.

Research – Deoxynivalenol and ochratoxin A in North Carolina grown organic wheat grains

Wiley Online


The main safety issue of cereal grains is mycotoxin contamination. There is no published information about mycotoxin contamination of organic wheat in the United States. This study quantified the contents of deoxynivalenol (DON) and ochratoxin A (OTA), two frequently occurring mycotoxins, in organic wheat samples collected from six counties in North Carolina by enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and high‐performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). By ELISA, all samples were DON and OTA positive, and the DON contents in the flour and bran samples were 0.7–2.35 ppm and 5–8 ppm, respectively, while OTA in the flour and bran samples were 9.54–25.55 ppb and 21.67–32.55 ppb, respectively. By HPLC, the DON detected in flour and bran were 0.24–0.47 ppm and 0.35–0.83 ppm, respectively; all flour samples were OTA negative, but 5 out of 6 bran samples were OTA positive (0.48–1.28 ppb). More studies with larger sample number are needed to obtain representative results.

Practical applications

This study provides preliminary results about the DON and OTA in organic wheat grains. The results indicate that the organic wheat produced in North Carolina during 2018 season were contaminated by DON and OTA to various degrees. However, the concentrations of these two mycotoxins determined by ELISA were significantly higher than those determined by HPLC. Therefore, to avoid overestimation or underestimation, it is important for researchers and regulatory agencies to conduct multi‐lab studies to develop and standardize analytical methods and detailed procedures for accurate DON and OTA quantification. Regardless of analytical methods, all bran samples showed higher DON and OTA concentrations than flour samples. Thus, when using organic wheat bran or whole wheat as food or feed ingredients, the level of bran inclusion should be controlled to protect consumers and animals from mycotoxicosis.

RASFF Alerts – Ochratoxin A – Raisins – Pistachios – Raisin Fruit Filling – Dried Grapes –


RASFF – ochratoxin A (20.6 µg/kg – ppb) in raisins from Turkey in the UK

RASFF – ochratoxin A (71 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios from the United States in the Netherlands

RASFF – ochratoxin A (18 µg/kg – ppb) in raisins from Turkey in France

RASFF – ochratoxin A (19.7 µg/kg – ppb) in raisin fruit filling from the Czech Republic in the Czech Republic

RASFF – ochratoxin A (17 µg/kg – ppb) in dried grapes from Turkey in France

RASFF – ochratoxin A (53 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios from the United States in the Netherlands

RASFF Alerts – Aflatoxin – Blanched Groundnuts – Shelled Peanuts – Nutmeg – Peanuts


RASFF – aflatoxins (B1 = 11.0; Tot. = 12.7 µg/kg – ppb) in blanched groundnut kernels from China in the UK

RASFF – aflatoxins (B1 = 204; Tot. = 244 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled peanuts from Angola in Portugal

RASFF – aflatoxins (B1 = 12; Tot. = 12 µg/kg – ppb) in nutmeg from Indonesia in the Netherlands

RASFF – aflatoxins (B1 = 7.1; Tot. = 8.6 µg/kg – ppb) in peanuts from Brazil in Spain

RASFF Alert – E.coli – Live Cockles


RASFF – too high count of Escherichia coli (13000 MPN/100g) in live cockles from France in France