Category Archives: food poisoning

The story behind product recalls and restaurant closings: food poisoning is more common than you think has always made it a point to call attention to food recalls and restaurant closings on our website. We think it’s important to keep as many people informed of foodborne illnesses as possible because they do affect so many people. New food recalls happen every single day of the year and most of them aren’t publicized, so you may not know that a product that’s sitting in your pantry has been recalled to do foodborne pathogens or cross contamination from allergens. You need to know exactly what’s in your food – and sometimes that includes things that aren’t very pleasant and can, in fact, cause immediate and serious harm.

The latest scare comes from Oregon and Washington state, where Chipotle closed 43 restaurants after more than 35 people fell ill with E. coli. Other outbreaks in recent years involved cantaloupes, peanuts and cookie dough.Here’s the story behind product recalls and restaurant closings:  food poisoning is more common than you think.  Some 3,000 Americans die every year from food poisoning, and 128,000 are hospitalized.

It’s not as if Congress has done nothing. In 2011 it passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, the biggest change in industry monitoring since the 1930s. The law had broad support from both parties as well as consumer groups and Big Agriculture.

The act makes a number of improvements to the food-safety system. The Food and Drug Administration is empowered to order recalls of contaminated food products — previously, it could only request them — and put in place tougher rules on processing fruits and vegetables. Companies are required to create written safety plans and keep records of safety issues, which the agency has the right to see. The FDA will also do more frequent inspections — once every three years instead of every decade for high-risk facilities — and has greater authority over imported food, which is required to meet many of the same safety standards as domestic food.

The law falls short in some places: Most important, it does too little to address a lax program of domestic self-regulation, especially when it comes to outside safety inspectors, whose independence has been questioned. The agency has proposed a set of rules for improving matters, including a set of model accreditation standards for safety auditors, but they would simply be guidelines.

Yet any discussion of benefits and drawbacks would be premature, since few of the law’s core provisions have taken effect. The FDA only last month finalized its preventive-control rules, and Congress has doled out less than half the $580 million that the Congressional Budget Office says has been needed to implement the law. It is unlikely to open its wallet wider. The process has become bogged down by industry objections to compliance costs and a proposed $225 million in other fees.

Congress, agricultural producers and food retailers need to find a compromise out of the fiscal logjam. One potentially helpful suggestion came from President Barack Obama earlier this year, when he proposed placing all food-safety responsibilities in one agency inside the Department of Health and Human Services, combining the efforts of the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which oversees meat and poultry) and a handful of other government offices. This could well increase efficiency and cut down on regulatory overlap, meaning lower costs to industry. will continue to provide news to our community concerning food recalls and restaurant closings. It’s important that we all stay aware so that we can avoid serious illness. And food poisoning IS serious illness – even though we don’t tend to think of it that way. With over 100,000 hospitalizations every year and numerous fatalities, food poisoning isn’t something about which any of us can afford to live in the dark. While we have plenty of systems in place to help us avoid these situations in the first place, none of those has yet been perfect. In the end, it’s still up to us to find out as much as we can about problems as they arise in order to keep ourselves healthy and well.

Another day, another recall!

listeria monocytogenes urges all consumers to check pantries, refridgerators, and freezers for 16 oz containers of Publix Spinach Dip. This product was recently tested and found to have traces of Listeria monocytogenes. This can cause moderate to serious side-effects, and even fatalities in young children and elderly adults.


Maria Brous

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 26, 2011 – Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall for spinach dip because it may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. The problem was discovered as a result of routine microbial testing conducted by Publix. The 16 ounce containers of prepackaged spinach dip were sold at Publix retail deli departments with a UPC of 41415-00062 and use by date of OCT 10 C1.

Consumption of products containing Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infection 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.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The spinach dip was sold in Publix grocery stores in Florida. The following counties in Florida did not receive recalled product: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee. Publix stores in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are not involved with this recall.

“As part of our commitment to food safety, potentially impacted product has been removed from all store shelves,” said Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director. “To date, there have been no reported cases of illness. Consumers who have purchased the products in question may return the product to their local store for a full refund. Publix customers with additional questions may call our Consumer Relations department at 1-800-242-1227 or by visiting our website at” Customers can also contact the US Food and Drug Administration at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366).

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 147,500 employees, with 2010 sales of $25.1 billion. Currently Publix has 1,038 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” for 14 consecutive years. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

(Food and Drug Administration) looks into How To Protect Yourself From Food Poisoning

food_poisoning_symptom looks into how to protect yourself from food poisoning. The CDC estimates that roughly 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food-borne illnesses each year. E. coli outbreaks continue to be a public health problem, both in the States and abroad, especially since our food supply has gone global and we’re able to have fresh produce year-round by importing fruits and veggies. Now, E. coli outbreaks are happening on a never-seen-before scale in Germany with more than 2,500 infections and more than 25 deaths reported since last month. Experts aren’t sure exactly which vegetable triggered the outbreak (though many are pointing to organic sprouts at the moment), or even which country it originated from.

“This particular outbreak shouldn’t affect Americans because it’s rare that perishable produce will make it across the Atlantic, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t risk of an outbreak here in the States,” says Keith R. Schneider, Ph.D, Associate Professor in the Department of Food Safety and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida. Dr. Schneider points out that we’ve had multiple outbreaks in the States, from the salmonella incident linked to Jalapeño peppers in salsa to the E. coli outbreak connected with spinach.

“It’s hard to find the exact source of a food-borne illness because it typically takes two to three days for the first symptoms of an infection to appear, and longer for people to actually visit a doctor. By then, you can’t remember exactly what you ate last Tuesday,” says Dr. Schneider. “Moreover, contamination might not be from a specific farm or food, but from a point of distribution. It might be from one guy named Eddie who isn’t washing his hands while packaging food.”

Still, the health benefits of eating fresh produce far outweigh the risk, says Dr. Schneider. “You’re much more likely to get sick from meat than you are from produce. You can find pathogens on poultry 50 percent of the time. That’s not even a reason for alarm because all it takes is cooking meat fully to completely kill the bacteria.”

The key to avoiding food-borne illnesses is safe handling practices, says Francisco Diez, Ph.D, Professor of Food Safety and Microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. “Since poultry is especially likely to have salmonella or another pathogen called campylobacter that normally lives in the intestines of birds, it’s important to cook meat to the proper temperature,” says Dr. Diez.

He recommends using a food thermometer to cook the center of any type of meat or fish to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. “This temperature has sufficient heat to destroy harmful bacteria without overcooking so the meat stays tender and juicy.” Also wash your hands before and after handling meat, and avoid cross contamination by using separate cutting boards and knives for meat and produce.

When it comes to fresh produce, there are certain types that may be more susceptible to pathogens. Here is Dr. Diez’s list of top five at-risk produce, and how to protect yourself from illness.

alfalfa-sprouts-5901. Sprouts.

This type of plant, especially alfalfa sprouts, has been linked with E. coli and salmonella. It grows in wet, humid environments that make it easy for bacteria to thrive. The more bacteria on a plant, the greater your chances of getting sick.

How to stay safe:

Rinsing well may lower the bacteria count but not eliminate it. “If you’re healthy, your immune system can fight off small amounts of pathogens,” says Dr. Diez. He recommends those most susceptible to food-borne illness avoid sprouts, which includes children younger than 8, people older than 65, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. If you eat sprouts, keep them refrigerated between 35 and 40 degrees to curb bacteria growth.

iceberglettuce2. Lettuce.

Though it’s not exactly clear why it may be more susceptible to contamination, one explanation is that the textured surface of lettuce leaves makes it easier for microbial cells to attach compared to smoother leaves, such as cabbage.

How to stay safe:

Remove the outer leaves on a head of lettuce before eating, and wash it thoroughly. You should submerge the entire head in a bowl of water and soak for a few minutes to loosen any soil, and run under regular water to help rinse away remaining particles.

3. Tomatoes.tomato

The juicy red fruit has been linked with regular but small outbreaks of salmonella, and experts aren’t sure exactly why. “Some people argue that the tomatoes might have been pre-washed with contaminated water that then got into the produce,” says Dr. Diez. “I wouldn’t recommend eliminating tomatoes from your diet because you can take precautions to prevent possible infection.”

How to stay safe:

If you’re eating tomatoes raw, be sure to wash thoroughly in plain water and use a towel to help to wipe away any remaining bacteria. Also, don’t buy tomatoes that are at all cut or bruised. When the skin of any vegetable is damaged, there’s more of a chance for bacteria to get into the product, and then there is no way to eliminate it unless you cook it to ensure pathogens get killed.

4. Melons.melon

Melons have a rugged surface, and pathogens may be more easily trapped in nooks and crannies. Plus, people often forget to wash this fruit since the fleshy part that you eat isn’t readily exposed to germs.

How to stay safe:

Bacteria gets transferred inside the flesh by knives when people cut through the rind of unwashed melons. Before you enjoy your summer cantaloupe or watermelon, be sure to thoroughly wash and scrub the outer surface with a soft produce brush.

5. Spinach.baby_spinach

Like lettuce and melons, spinach leaves‘ crinkly surface may make it more susceptible to bacteria. Also like other produce grown close to the ground, it may come into contact with contaminated animal feces.

How to stay safe:

Submerge spinach leaves in water and dry with a paper towel before eating to reduce your risk of pathogens, or serve cooked as a healthy side dish.

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