Category Archives: Pathogen

USA – Holiday Reminder: Raw Dough Can Contain Dangerous Pathogens

Food Poisoning Bulletin

It’s time for the annual holiday reminder: raw dough can contain dangerous pathogens. While most people know that eating raw eggs is risky, fewer know that uncooked flour is also a potential hazard.

The FDA has been warning consumers about the potential dangers of raw eggs for decades. Eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria not only on the shell, but inside the egg itself. Hens can carry the pathogen in their ovaries, so the eggs are then contaminated from the inside out. Always handle raw eggs as if they are contaminated. Cook them thoroughly, and avoid recipes that use raw eggs. Eggs that are pasteurized are safe to eat raw, as long as you follow expiration dates.

There have been outbreaks linked to raw, or uncooked flour, in the past few years. Flour is a raw agricultural product and can be contaminated just like cantaloupe and romaine lettuce.

So when you are baking this holiday season, there are some things to remember. Follow package directions on baking mixes and four containers. Keep flour and eggs away from foods that are eaten uncooked. Refrigerate cookie and pastry dough if you aren’t going to be baking immediately.

Never eat or taste raw dough or cake batter unless it is made with pasteurized eggs and commercial heat-treated flour. Do not make play dough out of raw flour. Don’t use cake mixes to make milkshakes. While there are instructions for heat-treating your flour at home, the FDA doesn’t recommend it, since these treatments may not kill all pathogens. There are several brands of commercial heat-treated flour you can buy. Don’t use raw cookie dough in ice cream.

Research – Occurrence and Characteristics of Escherichia albertii in Wild Birds and Poultry Flocks in Switzerland


Escherichia albertii, a zoonotic pathogen, has sporadically been associated with infectious diarrhea in humans. Poultry and wild birds are considered potential reservoirs. We assessed the occurrence of E. albertii in 280 fecal samples from wild birds (n = 130) and pooled fecal samples collected at slaughterhouse level from poultry flocks (n = 150) in Switzerland. Using an E. albertii-specific PCR targeting the Eacdt gene, 23.8% (31/130) of the samples from wild birds, but not from the pooled poultry fecal samples, tested positive for Eacdt. The positive samples originated from 11 bird species belonging to eight families. Strain isolation was attempted on the PCR-positive samples by subculturing the broth cultures onto xylose–MacConkey plates. Isolation was possible on 12 of the 31 Eacdt-PCR-positive samples. Whole-genome sequencing revealed that the strains belonged to nine distinct sequence types, with ST13420 and ST5967 being represented by two and three isolates, respectively. All strains harbored the eae gene, while two strains were also positive for stx2f. Our study thus shows that E. albertii is present in the Swiss wild bird population, which can potentially act as a source of this pathogen to humans, other animals, and the environment. View Full-Text

CDC – Annual Reports on Foodborne Illness Source Attribution Estimates – 2020


Executive Summary

Each year in the United States, an estimated 9 million people get sick, 56,000 are hospitalized, and 1,300 die of foodborne disease caused by known pathogens. These estimates help us understand the scope of this public health problem. However, to develop effective prevention measures, we need to understand the types of foods contributing to the problem. The Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) is a tri-agency group created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS). IFSAC developed a method to estimate the percentages of foodborne illness attributed to certain sources using outbreak data from 1998 through the most recent year for IFSAC’s priority pathogens: Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. IFSAC described this method and the estimates for 2012 in a report, in a peer-reviewed journal article, and at a public meeting. Unlike in prior IFSAC Annual Reports, attribution estimates for Campylobacter are not presented in this year’s report. Evidence suggests the sources of Campylobacter outbreaks likely differ considerably from the sources of non-outbreak-associated illnesses caused by this pathogen. IFSAC is exploring alternative approaches for estimating the sources ofCampylobacter illnesses.IFSAC derived the estimates for 2020 using the same method used for the previous estimates, with some modifications. The data came from 1,287 foodborne disease outbreaks that occurred from 1998 through 2020 and for which each confirmed or suspected implicated food was assigned to a single food category. The method relies most heavily on the most recent five years of outbreak data (2016 – 2020).

Foods are categorized using a scheme IFSAC created to classify foods into 17 categories that closely align with the U.S. food regulatory agencies’ classification needs.

Salmonella illnesses came from a wide variety of foods. More than 75% of Salmonella illnesses were attributed to seven food categories: Chicken, Fruits, Pork, Seeded Vegetables (such as tomatoes), Other Produce (such as fungi, herbs, nuts, and root vegetables), Beef, and Turkey.

E. coli O157illnesseswere most often linked to Vegetable Row Crops (such as leafy greens) and Beef. More than 80% of illnesses were linked to these two categories.

Listeria monocytogenes illnesses were most often linked to Dairy products, Fruits, and Vegetable Row Crops. More than 75% of illnesses were attributed to these three categories, but the rarity of Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks makes these estimates less reliable than those for other pathogens.

Click to access P19-2020-report-TriAgency-508.pdf

Research – Microbial Control of Raw and Cold-Smoked Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) through a Microwave Plasma Treatment


The control of the pathogenic load on foodstuffs is a key element in food safety. Particularly, seafood such as cold-smoked salmon is threatened by pathogens such as Salmonella sp. or Listeria monocytogenes. Despite strict existing hygiene procedures, the production industry constantly demands novel, reliable methods for microbial decontamination. Against that background, a microwave plasma-based decontamination technique via plasma-processed air (PPA) is presented. Thereby, the samples undergo two treatment steps, a pre-treatment step where PPA is produced when compressed air flows over a plasma torch, and a post-treatment step where the PPA acts on the samples. This publication embraces experiments that compare the total viable count (tvc) of bacteria found on PPA-treated raw (rs) and cold-smoked salmon (css) samples and their references. The tvc over the storage time is evaluated using a logistic growth model that reveals a PPA sensitivity for raw salmon (rs). A shelf-life prolongation of two days is determined. When cold-smoked salmon (css) is PPA-treated, the treatment reveals no further impact. When PPA-treated raw salmon (rs) is compared with PPA-untreated cold-smoked salmon (css), the PPA treatment appears as reliable as the cold-smoking process and retards the growth of cultivable bacteria in the same manner. The experiments are flanked by quality measurements such as color and texture measurements before and after the PPA treatment. Salmon samples, which undergo an overtreatment, solely show light changes such as a whitish surface flocculation. A relatively mild treatment as applied in the storage experiments has no further detected impact on the fish matrix.

USA – Seaweed products recalled for potential to cause botulism poisoning

Food Safety News

recalled Royalty Moss seaweed

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has recalled lemonade and gel products sold by Royalty Sea Moss.

After a complaint from the Maryland Department of Health, an investigation found that Royalty Sea Moss, based out of Mt. Pleasant, MI, produced products with inadequate processing controls that are needed to stop the growth of foodborne pathogens, according to the department.

Royalty Sea Moss also does not have a license to manufacture, hold or sell products, which is a violation against the Michigan Food Law of 2000, officials said.

Research – Efficacy of Repeated Applications of Bacteriophages on Salmonella enterica-Infected Alfalfa Sprouts during Germination


Nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica is one of the leading pathogens for foodborne outbreaks in a multitude of food commodities, including alfalfa sprouts, which are commonly consumed raw. The food industry has commonly used chlorinated washes, but such methods may not be perceived as natural; this can be a detriment as a large portion of sprouts are designated for the organic market. A natural and affordable antimicrobial method that has been acquiring popularity is the use of bacteriophages. This study compared the efficacy of repeated daily applications and a single application of two separate bacteriophage cocktails (SE14, SE20, SF6 and SE14, SF5, SF6) against four Salmonella enterica (S. enterica) strains on germinating alfalfa sprout seeds from days 0 to 7. The results show S. Enteritidis to be the most susceptible to both cocktails with ~2.5 log CFU/mL decrease on day 0 with cocktail SE14, SF5, and SF6. S. enterica populations on all strains continued to grow even with repeated daily bacteriophage applications but in a significantly decreased rate (p < 0.05) compared with a single bacteriophage application. The extent of the reduction was dependent on the S. enterica strain, but the results do show benefits to using repeated bacteriophage applications during sprout germination to reduce S. enterica populations compared with a single bacteriophage application.

Research -The annual cost of foodborne illness in Australia


Executive summary
Foodborne illness causes a significant health burden in Australia. Estimates of both the extent of foodborne illness and the costs arising from illness are essential for measuring the impact on the population.
In 2010 it was estimated that Australians experience almost 16million episodes of gastroenteritis each year, with about one quarter of these due to contaminated food. This report updates these numbers to circa 2019 and estimates the associated costs to individuals and the health system. As foodborne disease interventions are often targeted at specific causes of illness, costs are also provided for ten high-priority pathogens.
We estimate that foodborne illness and its sequelae costs Australia AUD 2.44billion each year. The largest component of this cost is lost productivity due to non-fatal illness, followed by premature mortality and direct costs (including hospitalisations and other health care use).
While costs due to lost productivity are lower under the more conservative friction cost model, it remains the largest component cost for foodborne illness due to all causes. The pathogen with the highest individual cost is Campylobacter (AUD 365millionper year), while norovirus, other pathogenic E. coli, and Salmonella are all estimated to cost Australians over AUD 100 million each year. Lost productivity is the largest component cost for most pathogens, although premature mortality is the largest cost for pathogens that typically cause more severe illness, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia Coli, and Salmonella.
Significant advances in this report include the incorporation of estimated willingness to pay to avoid pain and suffering based on a discrete choice experiment from another FSANZ commissioned study, and the use of a simulation approach to estimating costs which provides uncertainty intervals on all estimates. A costing tool is provided with this report to allow estimates to be updated in the future.
Costs associated with surveillance for foodborne pathogens and related to outbreak investigations are considered separately to the model. Likewise, industry costs due to outbreaks such as lost sales, disposal of products, recall costs, enforcement related costs and potential business costs are not included in the costing model. Key limitations in this work include the lack of data on the long-term burden and health care usage associated with sequelae or ongoing illness due to toxoplasmosis and listeriosis. These costs are not included in this report due to unavailability of data. Costs of pain and suffering, which we approximate using willingness to pay to avoid pain and suffering, are relatively low compared to those estimated for other countries, which may represent differences in underlying preferences across countries and could suggest that greater international standardisation of methods and data collection may be required.

This report demonstrates that foodborne illness results in a substantial cost to Australia and that interventions to improve food safety across industry, retail, and consumers are needed to improve public health. Pathogen-specific costing estimates allow policy makers to target such interventions at individual pathogens, with the end goal of reducing the burden due to foodborne illness.

Research – Pet Reptiles in Poland as a Potential Source of Transmission of Salmonella


Reptiles are considered a potential source of Salmonella transmission to humans.
The aim of this research was to determine the incidence of Salmonella in pet reptiles in Poland and to examine Salmonella isolates with regard to their biochemical characteristics, serotype, antimicrobial susceptibility, and pathogenic and zoonotic potential.
The research material consisted of 67 reptile faeces samples. The taxonomic affiliation of the Salmonella isolates was determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, biochemical analyses, and serotyping; whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis was performed on three isolates whose serotype could not be determined by agglutination. The antimicrobial susceptibility of the Salmonella isolates was determined by the broth dilution method, and in the case of some antimicrobials by the disk diffusion method.
The pathogenic and zoonotic potential of the identified serotypes was estimated based on available reports and case studies. The presence of Salmonella was confirmed in 71.6% of faecal samples, with the highest incidence (87.1%) recorded for snakes, followed by lizards (77.8%) and turtles (38.9%). All isolates (n = 51) belonged to the species S. enterica, predominantly to subspecies I (66.7%) and IIIb (25.5%). Among these, 25 serotypes were identified, including 10 that had previously been confirmed to cause reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS). Salmonella isolates were susceptible to all antimicrobial substances used except streptomycin, to which 9.8% of the strains showed resistance.
None of the strains contained corresponding resistance genes. The study demonstrates that pet reptiles kept in Poland are a significant reservoir of Salmonella and contribute to knowledge of the characteristics of reptilian Salmonella strains. Due to the risk of salmonellosis, contact with these animals requires special hygiene rules.

Research – Fighting Foodborne Pathogens with Natural Antimicrobials

Mirage News

The food industry has now started exploring natural alternatives for preserving food to reduce the dependency on chemical preservatives, some of which are linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Specifically, natural antimicrobials produced by plants and microorganisms like bacteria and fungi can kill food-borne pathogens like Salmonella Typhimurium, Escherichia coliListeria monocytogenes and Clostridium botulinum and also food spoilage bacteria like Brochothrix thermosphactaLactobacillus spp., Bacillus spp. and Weissella spp., among others. Foodborne pathogens and spoilage microbes pose a serious health concern for consumers and destroy the appearance, texture and sensory characteristics of the food, affecting the food industry and consumers alike.

USA – Food Poisoning Outbreak in McHenry County, IL at D. C. Cobb’s

Food Poisoning Bulletin

A food poisoning outbreak in McHenry County, Illinois at D. C. Cobb’s restaurant has sickened at least 13 people, according to the McHenry County Health Department. That restaurant is located at 1204 North Green Street in McHenry.

Food Poisoning Outbreak in McHenry County, IL at D. C. Cobb’s

A food poisoning outbreak in McHenry County, Illinois at D. C. Cobb’s restaurant has sickened at least 13 people, according to the McHenry County Health Department. That restaurant is located at 1204 North Green Street in McHenry.

The outbreak was identified when public health officials reviewed complaints of people who got sick after eating at that establishment. An investigation into the pathogen that caused these illnesses, and the possible source of the pathogen has been launched.