Articles Posted in Food Poisoning

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As many as 21 people in 8 different states may have fallen ill after eating hamburgers possibly contaminated with E. Coli bacteria, an Associated Press Article reported on Wednesday, September 26th. The company, Topps Meat Company, is the leading U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers.

A spokesperson from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that 3 cases were a result of the ingestion of the ground beef with the other 18 cases possibly linked and under investigation. The confirmed cases occurred in the states of New York and Florida while the cases under investigation were reported in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Topps Meat Company based out of Elizabeth, N.J. announced a recall of 331,582 pounds of frozen beef patties in 21 different products. The boxes recalled carry the number “EST. 9748” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were produced on June 22, July 12 or July 23. A Topps spokeswoman said officials continue working to find the cause of the contamination.

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It turns out that the ingredients from China which were used to make pet foods in the United States and later found their way into chicken and pig food were not wheat gluten and rice protein after all but seriously contaminated wheat flour according to government investigators.

To further complicate the matter some of the contaminated flour mislabeled as gluten was mixed into fish food in Canada and exported to the United States where it was fed to fish consumed by humans.

This now raises the possibility that some American seafood might contain melamine, the industrial toxin. FDA officials say that they do not know how many U.S. fish farms may have used the tainted feed or what types of fish may have been affected.

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According to the Associate Press and USDA, a meat company is recalling 129,000 pounds of beef products in 15 states because of possible E. coli contamination.

The meat products are made for Gordon Food Service stores by Davis Creek Meats and Seafood. The beef products were made between March 1 and April 30 and were shipped to distribution centers and retailers in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The items which have been recalled include boxes of mechanically tenderized steaks and ground beef of different weights. The boxes are labeled “Est. 1947A”.

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Federal food safety regulators reported on Tuesday that the level of contaminated animal feed which was consumed by hogs does not pose a risk to humans who eventually consume the meat, and have lifted a quarantine that kept 56,000 hogs from going to slaughter. The hogs, some from South Carolina farms, were being held in quarantine by the USDA while the sources and effects of feed that was tainted with melamine, a compound that is used to make plastics were traced.

Kenneth Petersen of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service stated, “That meat is safe for human consumption. Therefore, it’s no longer being held on those farms. Melamine does not accumulate in pork and is filtered out of the body by action of the kidneys.” According to the USDA and the FDA, melamine was added to wheat flour before it was imported from China. Both agencies are investigating the contamination in China. Chinese officials have arrested at least one processing plant manager.

The flour from China was mislabeled as wheat gluten and rice protein and then used in pet food. The presence of melamine was discovered in March after thousands of dogs and cats in the United States and Canada became ill or died. Surplus pet food also was sold as hog, chicken and fish feed, which caused concerns about melamine contaminating human food.

The FDA assistant commissioner of food protection said Tuesday that two commercial fisheries that raise fish for human consumption have used the tainted feed. Fish from those facilities, one in Hawaii, the other in Washington State, are being held from market.

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Los Angeles Times reporter, Don Lee, reported on Sunday, May 20, 2007 that Mission Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. are attempting to reject all ingredients that come from China. This is a result of fears which have been created about the safety of imported food ingredients after contaminated wheat products from China killed and sickened cats and dogs in the United States.

What Mission and Tyson want may be next to impossible. China has become the world’s leading supplier of many food flavorings, vitamins and preservatives. Some food additives are available in large quantities only from China.

China exported $2.5 billion of food ingredients to the United States and the rest of the world in 2006. It is now the predominant maker of vanilla flavoring, citric acid and varieties of Vitamin B such as thiamine, riboflavin and folic acid; nutrients which are commonly added to processed flour goods such as Mission tortillas and Tyson breaded chicken. China’s food safety record has been poor. In China, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides are heavily used. Quality controls barely exist and whatever controls are in place are often eliminated through fraud and corruption.

Major U.S. food manufacturers don’t always know where all their ingredients come from.

Many packaged foods contain dozens of items from around the world, acquired through complex networks of traders and brokers before they reach manufacturing plants where companies exercise more quality control. Laszlo Somogyi, a food sciences authority in California, believes tainted food additives pose a relatively low risk to humans because such ingredients are used in tiny amounts in any particular product. Ingredients made in China are likely found in every aisle of American supermarkets. Of the 39 ingredients in a Hostess Twinkie, at least 6; such as Vitamin B compounds, the preservative sorbic acid and red and yellow colorings, are probably made in China, says Steve Ettlinger, author of the book “Twinkie, Deconstructed.”

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Washington Post writer, Rick Weiss, has reported that approximately 20 million chickens being raised for human consumption ate feed containing melamine and are being held to keep them from entering the food supply according to Agriculture Department officials.

The Agriculture Department called for this voluntary hold pending completion of a government risk analysis to determine whether or not the chickens are safe to eat.

Government officials previously found evidence that as many as 345 pigs and 3 million broiler chickens might have been sold for human food after eating contaminated feed.

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Congress held hearings on Tuesday to examine the future role of the government in protecting food safety. Members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee met with families affected by the latest epidemic of foodborne illness to discuss federal regulations of the country’s food reserve.

“I can’t protect them from spinach — only you guys can. I can’t,” said Michael Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong and his wife, Elizabeth were accompanied by their daughters Ashley, 3, and Isabella, 5 both of whom had become severely ill after eating a salad made with a bag of leafy greens contaminated by E. coli in September of 2006. During the outbreak, at least two hundred people were known to be infected including 31 people who suffered kidney failure and three deaths as a result of the bacterium.

In February of 2007, Peter Pan brand peanut butter was the focus of a nationwide recall after a salmonella outbreak that causing serious illness to over 425 people. One of those taken ill was Mora Lou Marshall, 85, who has been hospitalized or in a nursing home since she became seriously ill from eating the tainted peanut butter, which she kept on her nightstand to supplement her diet and inadvertently continued to eat after falling ill.

“Food poisonings will happen to you, to me and to our children and our pets,” said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the subcommittee. “The American people expect and deserve better from its government..

Bipartisan members of the board voiced agreement with concerns made by the families present and are on board for making changes to the current system. Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado has introduced legislation that would give the FDA and Agriculture Department the authority to mandate recalls. House Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, chairperson of the Appropriations subcommittee, said the committee is poised to cut off 2008 salaries for the FDA’s top managers in the upcoming spending bill unless officials immediately detail how food inspections, recalls and standards will be improved.

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The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 that families who have been victimized by tainted spinach and peanut butter appeared before Congress in a plead to the federal government to do more to protect the nations food supply.

Michael Armstrong appeared with his wife Elizabeth and their daughters, Ashley, 2, and Isabella, 5. The two little girls became ill in September after eating a salad made with a bag of spinach contaminated by E. coli.

Gary Pruden, who was joined by his 11 year old son, Sean, also testified. Sean became seriously ill in November with E. coli after eating at a Taco Bell restaurant.

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The State newspaper reported on Thursday, April 26, 2007 that federal and state officials are investigating reports that hogs were given feed that has been contaminated with the chemical melamine.

52 hogs at one small processing plant have been quarantined and another 800 hogs at a farm where contaminated food might have been given to the animals have been identified according to the state veterinarian’s office. The office declined to identify the location of the processing plant or the hog farm.

While traces of melamine were found in hog urine at the farm, the feed tested negative for contamination. State veterinarian Tony Caver stated “no one has determined the significance of finding any detectable levels of melamine in healthy hogs.”

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The Associated Press has reported that dog chews marketed by T.W. Enterprises of Ferndale, Washington have been recalled because they may be contaminated with salmonella. People who handle the treats can become infected, especially if they haven’t thoroughly washed their hands after having touched the chews.

Otherwise healthy people who become infected with salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping or fever. Some rare cases of salmonella can result in more serious ailments including bacterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms.

Pets infected with salmonella may be lethargic and have diarrhea, fever or vomiting. Some pets will only have decreased appetites, fever and abdominal pain.

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