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16 years of Salmonella Trends reported by FSIS

- USDA (FSIS)  reports that Salmonella is the leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness in the United States and causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths, each year. The data from 2014 estimates that 360,000 (30%) of foodborne illnesses are attributed to FSIS-regulated products, which is a 9.3% decrease compared to 2010.


FSIS conducted ednontyphoidal Salmonella serotype testing on isolates recovered from raw meat and poultry products, subject to sampling under the Pathogen Reduction Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP) verification testing program. The results presented here provide an estimate of relative serotype distributions for each product class during the 16-year period following implementation of the PR/HACCP program (1998-2014).FSIS 1 The top 10 Salmonella serotypes identified from the testing in 2014 are listed in Table 1a. Different types of Salmonella serotypes were found in the various types of meat and poultry.

Young Chicken Carcass (Broiler):

In 2014, 8,816 young chicken carcass samples were analyzed. Salmonella was isolated from 3.7% (325/8816) of these samples. Of the positive broiler samples, 60.8% (197/325) were positive for S. Kentucky followed by Salmonella Enteritidis 13.6% (44/324). Since 1998, Salmonella Kentucky has ranked as the most common serotype identified among PR/HACCP young chicken isolates. Salmonella Kentucky from chicken carcasses, however, is not among the serotypes commonly associated with human illness in the U.S. Salmonella Enteritidis was the second most common serotype identified in young chicken carcasses and is currently the most common serotype associated with human illness.


Ground Beef

In 2014, 7,320 ground beef samples were analyzed Salmonella was isolated from 1.6% (116/7,320) of these samples which is a decrease since 2011. Of the ground beef positive samples, 22.4% (26/116) were positive for Salmonella Montevideo followed by Salmonella Dublin (12.1%) 14/116.  Since 1998, S. Montevideo has ranked as the most common serotype identified among PR/HACCP ground beef isolates. S. Montevideo from ground beef, however, is not among the serotypes commonly associated with human illness in the U.S. In 2014, S. Dublin was reported to cause more severe illness than any other non-typhoidal Salmonella, although it is an uncommon cause of human illness. Salmonella Dublin was found to cause highest rate of hospitalization (67%), invasive infection (64%) and deaths (3%) when compared to other serotypes analyzed in the study.  Salmonellosis caused by S. Dublin is frequently multi-drug resistant.

Young Turkey Carcass

In 2014, 1,919 young turkey samples were analyzed under the PR/HACCP program. Salmonella was isolated from 1.7% (32/1919) of these samples which is a decrease from 2013.Of the young turkey positive samples, 25.0% (8/32) were positive for S. Reading. Since 2012, Salmonella Reading has ranked among the top three serotypes identified.  S. Reading has not been considered a major contributor to human salmonellosis from turkey products in the U.S.


Global and Local Food Outbreaks in the News



This time we will focus upon international issues in our report. Every week several foods borne outbreaks are reported, demonstrating that more efforts are required to eliminate such outbreaks. This blog includes a report about Hepatitis A outbreak due to sushi consumed in Genki restaurants on Oahu and Kauai in Hawaii. It is summer and consequently Cyclospora outbreaks are reported in Canada and Texas. Also in the news a large recall in Israel for Salmonella contamination in Hummus and Tahini.

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Hawaii Sushi Chain

Source: CBS News and HawaiiNewsNow Sushi-Genki The Hawaii State Department of Health reported that the outbreak “is likely due to imported frozen scallops served raw at Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai.” The popular chain’s eateries have been shut down.  The number of victims has topped 200 and health officials expect that it will increase. State health officials ordered 11 Genki Sushi locations on two islands to close. The state also embargoed scallops distributed by Koha Foods of Honolulu. The raw frozen scallops were imported to the U.S. from the Philippines by Sea Port Products Corp., a California company. About 70 percent of the victims reported eating at a Genki Sushi restaurants. Of the 206 victims so far, illness onset dates ranged from June 16 through August 9. Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer at Genki, said that the company’s officials were “shocked” to hear that the eateries were linked to the outbreak. “Genki Sushi cares about our customers’ health and safety. We immediately complied with the order” she said, in a Tuesday news conference.

Cyclospora in Canada, and Texas

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada Cyclospora In Canada, a total of 61 cases have been reported, most of them in Ontario (~85%). Individuals became sick between May and July 2016. One person was hospitalized. The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing. Previous foodborne illness outbreaks of Cyclospora in the US and  Canada have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as pre-packaged salad mix, basil, cilantro, raspberries, blackberries, lettuce and snow and snap peas. The source of the illnesses has not yet been identified, although Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) stated that “imported fresh produce products are currently items of interesting in the ongoing investigation.” These individuals became ill between May and July 2016, the PHAC stated.  The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing.  A similar outbreak was reported in 2015. According to the CDC Most of the reported cases and outbreaks in the United States of Cyclosporiasis occur during spring and summer months, particularly during May through August. Texas officials are investigating an increasing number of Cyclospora. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is investigating an outbreak of at least 160 cases of Cyclosporiasis. 72 cases had been confirmed  

Salmonella Contamination in Israel due to Tahini and Hummus

  Source: Food Safety News and Tablet. HaNasich, a major Israeli manufacturer of Tahini paste, which is an important ingredient in Hummus, Tehina (Tahini), eggplant salad, and more. Several brands of sHummus-Tahinialads containing Tahini or Hummus were contaminated with Salmonella. Shamir salads contaminated with Salmonella were recalled by the Israel Ministry of Health. Two other salad producers, Tsabar (Sabra) and Achla, also reported their products were contaminated with Salmonella, but the problematic products were caught and destroyed before the salads reached the market. The salad contamination may be a far larger issue in Israel.  Shamir Salads recalled thousands of hummus and Tahini salad containers. Some of the contaminated raw product had been distributed before the problem was discovered. The Ministry of Health is focused on raw Tehina manufactured by HaNasich as the source of the contamination. It is destroying 200 tons of raw Tehina. HaNasich is a worldwide distributor of raw Tehina for making Hummus, Tehina and eggplant salads.

Outbreaks in Alfalfa Sprouts and in Cheeses


Alfalfa Sprouts Linked to Salmonella Multi State Outbreak

sprouts-photoCDC  and FDA  report that 30 people across nine states have been infected in an outbreak of Salmonella reading and Salmonella abony, traced back to Alfalfa Sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver, Colorado.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 21, 2016 to July 20, 2016. At least 30 people range in age from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 30. Five ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Ill people in the current outbreak reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches from several different restaurants. This investigation indicated that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five of these locations. On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire recalled its alfalfa sprout products from the market due to possible Salmonella contamination. These products were sold in boxes labeled “5-lb Living Alfalfa” The investigation is still ongoing.

Contaminated Cheese Linked to E. coli Outbreak

grassfield Cheese1Grassfields Cheese LLC of Coopersville, MI, issued a nationwide recall of 20,000 pounds of its cheeses because of the E. coli. Whole Foods Markets has augmented that action, specifically recalling Grassfields Cheese products sold at its stores in 13 states. According to FDA  the recall includes the following types of Grassfields Cheeses: Gouda, Onion ‘n Garlic, Country Dill, Leyden, Edam, Lamont Cheddar, Fait Gras and Polkton Corners. The potential for contamination was identified during an ongoing investigation of seven cases of human illnesses occurring between March and July 2016 caused by a same type of STEC.

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and local health departments in Michigan are investigating the outbreak of six cases of non-O157:H7 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infections in Michigan residents. The first patient got sick March 13, with the most recent patient becoming ill on July 13. They range in age from 15 to 37 years old. One patient had symptoms so severe that hospitalization was required, but the patient has since been discharged, according to the Michigan health department. Several of the people sickened by E. coli said they had eaten restaurant meals containing Grassfields cheese.  At least one sample of the cheese contained bacteria matching the E coli strain found in the ill individuals, the state health department reported in Friday’s update. Whole Foods reports its stores in 13 states sold the recalled organic cheese.  At least seven people have been made sick after eating cheese contaminated with E. coli produced by family-owned artisan cheese producer in Michigan.

Grassfiels is a family owned cheese manufacturer, the owners, decided 15 years ago to make organic cheeses made from the grass-fed, antibiotic-free cows raised on the family farm. The business did not make the family rich, but it was popular online and is sold around the nation at Whole Foods. Making cheese is a process that takes months and the 20,000 pounds of cheese they have destroyed equals two-thirds of their yearly output. The E. coli outbreak could mean the end of family cheese-making business.


Visiting the IAFP Exhibit: food safety

IAFP imgMore than 3,400 attendees participated in the IAFP annual meeting, in St. Louis, Missouri in July 30-August 3, 2016. The Exhibit Hall was occupied by more than 170 vendors displaying their test kits, equipment, services and information for the attendees. The most popular group of products displayed were pathogen screening and detection, as shown in the figure below. Almost all of the pathogen assays displayed utilize novel rapid methods.   st

Pathogen Testing

Detection methods included chromogenic media (powdered media and prepared plates), Immunoassays, and various forms of molecular methods including simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR), multiplex PCR, real-time PCR, nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA), loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), and oligonucleotide DNA microarray. The reason that so many vendors focused on pathogen screening is because while if looking at the number of performed tests, pathogen testing accounts for less than 20% of the assays; while from the laboratory budget it accounts for almost 50% of the budget. The most important features of the new assays  shown in order of importance accuracy (bases of sensitivity and specificity, and also inclusivity and exclusivity, limit-of-detection (LOD)), speed (total time to actionable result), range of food matrices (the ability of the method to be utilized in a broad range of food matrices), and cost of the assay and instrument. Another important criterion is the skill level required to perform the assay. Many customers are confused from this large selection of methods, and lack of actual data of side-by-side comparison among the assays. If you have such data and are willing to share it please send an Email us.

Testing Laboratories

Many testing laboratories also participated, reigniting the discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of inside testing vs. sending the samples to outside laboratories. A few of testing laboratories offer to be a hired laboratory in the customers’ premises. Regulation such as FSMA, mandate for validation and accreditation, and globalization seem to be driving the increase in food testing. ISO 17025 is increasing the demand for lab accreditation, to ensure the quality of the data. Smaller laboratories generally have problems complying with the regulations (QA&Food Safety).  


Many vendors offered a variety of training capabilities including: accreditation (mainly to ISO 17025), proficiency training, GMP compliance, GFSI (global food safety initiative), HACCP, etc. The new FSMA ruling and more regulations of the industry are driving the need to these services.  

Hygiene Testing

Assessing the cleanliness of food contact areas is a major task required by HACCP. There are a myriad of systems and devices to assess hygiene levels on both food contact and environmental surfaces. Most are ATP-bioluminescence based. The luminometers used are portable, hand-held devices containing the computing power needed to handle large amounts of sample data that can be integrated with electronic HACCP databases and other systems. Reagents are embedded in the swabs, and can be fitted directly into the luminometer to take a reading immediately after sampling. An alternative to ATP testing is the detection of protein residue. If protein residue is present, the reagent will turn purple – the more contamination, the quicker the color changes and the darker it becomes. There have been relatively little changes in this segment.   


It seems that more companies are competing in the allergens space, probably due to the unprecedented growth in food allergies. Cross contaminations in processing lines are of major concerns. There is a risk that food products such as nuts, dairy, shellfish, eggs, and various grains are processed on the same lines as foods that are meant to be free of these ingredients, could contaminate products targeted to allergy-sensitive individuals, risking a case of a severe illness or even anaphylactic shock. Please register to our website and let’s discuss these topics.