Category Archives: Poisoning

USA – FDA’s CORE Response Team Updateed

FDA

The following is a list of outbreak investigations being managed by FDA’s CORE Response Teams. The investigations are in a variety of stages, meaning that some outbreaks have limited information, and others may be near completion.

Philippines – Food poisoning downs 6 detainees in Angeles City jail

Manilla Bulletin

At least six persons under the custody of Police Station 3 of the Angeles City Police Officer (ACPO) were rushed to the hospital on Tuesday, January 19, complaining of severe abdominal pain and diarrhea after allegedly partaking of a spoiled chicken meal.

Taiwan – 106 hospitalized in Chiayi with suspected food poisoning

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) A total of 106 students and staff from a New Taipei elementary school were taken to hospitals in Chiayi City late Thursday after developing symptoms of food poisoning on the second day of their graduation trip, authorities said on Friday.

As of press time, 74 people — six adults and 68 students — who were sent to St. Martin de Porres Hospital suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, had been discharged.

One student who was among 32 people — five adults and 27 students — taken to Chiayi Christian Hospital, remained hospitalized for further observation, Chiayi City Public Health Bureau Director Liao Yu-wei (廖育瑋) said.

Specimens taken from the patients are being analyzed by local health officials and the results will be available within a week, Liao added.

USA – Washington State juice maker shut down by federal judge for toxins

Food Safety News

At the  FDA’s request, a federal court in Washington State has shutdown a 51-year-old juice maker who was annually supplying 2.9 million apple juice servings to USDA’s national school lunch program.

FDA found juice products at Valley Processing at 108 Blaine Ave in Sunnyside, WA, with inorganic arsenic and patulin, both toxins that pose a health risk to consumers.

Judge Stanley A Bastian on Jan. 14 approved a Consent Decree for Permanent Injunction against Valley Processing, closing the company that employed 71 people in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Singapore – Eng’s Heritage at Northpoint suspended after 26 people had food poisoning

Yahoo News

Authorities have suspended the licence of Eng’s Heritage from Wednesday (13 January) until further notice, after 26 people who ate at the wonton noodle chain’s Northpoint outlet came down with food poisoning.

Five of the 26 cases are currently hospitalised and are in a stable condition, while one additional case has been discharged from hospital, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a joint release.

The patrons reportedly had gastroenteritis symptoms after they consumed food at the outlet between 7 and 9 January, MOH and SFA added.

All food handlers working in the suspended premises are required to re-attend and pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course, before they can resume work as food handlers.

The appointed food hygiene officers working at the suspended premises are also required to re-attend and pass the food hygiene officer course before they can resume work.

Saudi Arabia – 5 cases of food poisoning per day across Kingdom

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Nearly 830 cases of food poisoning were reported across Saudi Arabia between July 1 and December 31 last year, or five exposures a day, according to the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Weqaya).

Statistics also showed the total outbreaks of food-borne diseases were 61, of which 34 were from public sources, at a rate of 55.7 per cent, and 27 outbreaks from household sources, at a rate of 44.3 per cent.

The number of infected cases from household outbreaks was 104, or 12.5 per cent, while the number of incidences of food poisoning among Saudis reached 740, compared to 89 among non-Saudis.

Research – Text Mining Approaches for Postmarket Food Safety Surveillance Using Online Media

Wiley Online

Food contamination and food poisoning pose enormous risks to consumers across the world. As discussions of consumer experiences have spread through online media, we propose the use of text mining to rapidly screen online media for mentions of food safety hazards. We compile a large data set of labeled consumer posts spanning two major websites. Utilizing text mining and supervised machine learning, we identify unique words and phrases in online posts that identify consumers’ interactions with hazardous food products. We compare our methods to traditional sentiment‐based text mining. We assess performance in a high‐volume setting, utilizing a data set of over 4 million online reviews. Our methods were 77–90% accurate in top‐ranking reviews, while sentiment analysis was just 11–26% accurate. Moreover, we aggregate review‐level results to make product‐level risk assessments. A panel of 21 food safety experts assessed our model’s hazard‐flagged products to exhibit substantially higher risk than baseline products. We suggest the use of these tools to profile food items and assess risk, building a postmarket decision support system to identify hazardous food products. Our research contributes to the literature and practice by providing practical and inexpensive means for rapidly monitoring food safety in real time.

USA – FDA Alert: Certain Lots of Sportmix Pet Food Recalled for Potentially Fatal Levels of Aflatoxin

FDA

Fast Facts

  • FDA is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about certain Sportmix pet food products (see list below) manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. that may contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin.
  • FDA is aware of at least 28 deaths and 8 illnesses in dogs that ate the recalled product.
  • This is an ongoing investigation. Case counts and the scope of this recall may expand as new information becomes available.
  • Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and other grains used as ingredients in pet food. At high levels, aflatoxin can cause illness and death in pets.
  • Pets experiencing aflatoxin poisoning may have symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes or gums due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea. In severe cases, this toxicity can be fatal. In some cases, pets may suffer liver damage but not show any symptoms.
  • Pet owners should stop feeding their pets the recalled products listed below and consult their veterinarian, especially if the pet is showing signs of illness.  The pet owner should remove the food and make sure no other animals have access to the recalled product.
  • FDA is asking veterinarians who suspect aflatoxin poisoning in their patients to report the cases through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling their local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Pet owners can also report suspected cases to the FDA.

What is the Problem?

On December 30, 2020, Midwestern Pet Food, Inc. announced a recall of certain lots of Sportmix pet food products after FDA was alerted about reports of at least 28 dogs that have died and eight that have fallen ill after consuming the recalled Sportmix pet food. Multiple product samples were tested by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and found to contain very high levels of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus and at high levels it can cause illness and death in pets. The toxin can be present even if there is no visible mold.

FDA is issuing this advisory to notify the public about the potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin in pet food products that may still be on store shelves, online, or in pet owners’ homes.

FDA is conducting follow-up activities at the manufacturing facility.

This is a developing situation and the FDA will update this page with additional information as it becomes available.

What are the Symptoms of Aflatoxin Poisoning in Pets?

Pets are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people, who eat a varied diet, pets generally eat the same food continuously over extended periods of time. If a pet’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin could accumulate in the pet’s system as they continue to eat the same food.

Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea. In some cases, this toxicity can cause long-term liver issues and/or death. Some pets suffer liver damage without showing any symptoms. Pet owners whose pets have been eating the recalled products should contact their veterinarians, especially if they are showing signs of illness.

There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. However, pet owners should always wash their hands after handling pet food.

What Products are Involved?

On December 30, 2020, Midwest Pet Food, Inc. announced a recall of nine total lots of Sportmix pet food products. FDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture are working with the firm to determine whether any additional products may have been made with the same ingredients containing potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin. As new information becomes available, this product list may continue to expand.

The list of recalled dry pet food products announced by Midwestern Pet Food, Inc. on December 30, 2020 is:

  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/02/22/05/L2
    • Exp 03/02/22/05/L3
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/02/22/05/L3
    • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 50 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 44 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
    • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3

Lot code information may be found on the back of bag and will appear in a three-line code, with the top line in format “EXP 03/03/22/05/L#/B###/HH:MM”

Example product label demonstrating location and format of lot code information.

The affected products were distributed to online retailers and stores nationwide within the United States.

What Do Retailers Need to Do?

Don’t sell or donate the affected pet food products. Contact the manufacturer for further instructions. The FDA also encourages retailers to contact consumers who have purchased recalled products, if they have the means to do so (such as through shopper’s card records or point-of-sale signs).

What Do Pet Owners Need to Do?

If your pet has symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning, contact a veterinarian immediately. Even pets without symptoms may have suffered liver damage, so you may want to contact your veterinarian if your dog has eaten any of the recalled products. Provide a full diet history to your veterinarian. You may find it helpful to take a picture of the pet food label, including the lot number.

Don’t feed the recalled products to your pets or any other animal. Contact the company listed on the package for further instructions or throw the products away in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them. Sanitize pet food bowls, scoops, and storage containers using bleach, rinsing well afterwards with water, and drying thoroughly.

There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. However, pet owners should always wash their hands after handling any pet food.

You can report suspected illness to the FDA electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. It’s most helpful if you can work with your veterinarian to submit your pet’s medical records as part of your report. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

What Do Veterinarians Need to Do?

The FDA urges veterinarians treating aflatoxin poisoning to ask their clients for a diet history. We also welcome case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostic testing. You can submit these reports electronically through the FDA Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

The information in this release reflects the FDA’s best efforts to communicate what it has learned from the manufacturer and parties involved in the investigation. The agency will update this page as more information becomes available. 

Additional Information

New Zealand – Clean, cook and chill to decrease risk of food poisoning

RNZ

As the festive season kicks off, people are being reminded of the increased risk of food poisoning at home.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has launched a food safety campaign reminding everyone to “Clean Cook, and Chill”.

Food Safety Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said with rising summer temperatures, the risk of food poisoning increased.

“Food poisoning is a significant issue in New Zealand with an estimated 100,000 people getting sick from unsafe food handling practices at home.

“That’s why the Ministry for Primary Industries is launching an awareness campaign, reminding consumers to follow the 3 C’s: clean, cook and chill, when handling, cooking and storing raw meats such as poultry, to avoid getting sick and paying the price,” she said.

MPI has also teamed up with MasterChef winning sisters Karena and Kasey Bird to offer additional advice and helpful cooking tips on social media this summer.

Verrall said a recent study found that most New Zealanders don’t believe that food poisoning can be deadly or create long-term health consequences.

She said while for many, food poisoning will just mean a few days of an upset stomach, for others it can be more serious.

“Some people can and do experience more severe forms of foodborne illnesses as a result of picking up harmful bacteria and viruses like Campylobacter, Norovirus, Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Bacillus cereus.

“This is especially true for young tamariki, our elderly community, pregnant mothers and Kiwis who suffer from other health issues,” she said.

USA – Outbreak Investigation of E. coli O157:H7: Unknown Food (Fall 2020)

FDA

The FDA and CDC, in collaboration with state and local partners, have completed the investigation on two of three multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections in the U.S. this fall.

One of these investigations, Outbreak Unknown Source 3, identified 18 reported illnesses in nine states: California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington.

FDA completed a traceback investigation of several potential food vehicles identified in patient interviews and although no single farm was identified as a common source of the outbreak, FDA and state partners also conducted on-site investigations on farms of interest. However, information and samples collected in these inspections did not link these farms to the outbreak. The investigation of a farm does not mean that the farm is linked to an outbreak. The results of an investigation into a farm may well lead to that firm being ruled out of the investigation. On 12/18/2020, the CDC announced that this outbreak had ended.

The other completed outbreak investigation, Outbreak Unknown Source 1, identified 32 reported illnesses in 12 states: California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin. This strain of E. coli is genetically similar to a strain linked to a romaine outbreak that occurred in the spring of 2018, though a food was not linked to the current outbreak. FDA completed a traceback investigation and was unable to determine a common source of the outbreak. FDA and state partners also conducted on-site inspections on farms of interest, though information collected in these inspections did not link these farms to the outbreak. On 12/18/2020, the CDC announced that this outbreak had ended.

Investigations of a third E. coli outbreak of Unknown Source 2 continue.

Recommendation

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers, were advised not to eat, sell, or serve recalled Tanimura & Antle, Inc. brand packaged single head romaine lettuce with a pack date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020.

The recalled products are now well beyond expiration and likely no longer on the market or in consumers’ homes.