Taylor Farms, a Jessup, Md. establishment, is recalling approximately 5,084 pounds of broccoli salad kit products.  The kits contain salad dressing in packets that are the subject of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall due to concerns about possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The salad kits were shipped to distributors and retail locations (delis) for consumer purchase in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 6.06-lb. boxes labeled “TAYLOR FARMS BROCCOLI CRUNCH WITH BACON AND DRESSING ” with the case code 310151, produced on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22, 2013.
  • 12.13-lb. boxes labeled “TAYLOR FARMS BROCCOLI CRUNCH WITH BACON AND DRESSING ” with the case code 310153, produced Oct. 21 through Oct. 23, 2013.

Case labels bear the establishment number “EST. 34522” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Retail consumers and the general public will not typically see the boxes and labels, because the product is typically unboxed by retailers (such as deli counters and restaurants) and the kit used to make salads for retail sale.  The boxes and labels would be more likely to be seen by distributors and retailers.

Taylor Farms informed FSIS that salad dressing subject to an FDA recall was contained in the salad kits produced on the dates listed above.  FSIS, FDA and the company have received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.  Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

A Michigan company is recalling its sunflower seeds and snack mixes made with the seeds because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria.

Lipari Foods of Warren, MI — located north of Detroit — issued a voluntary recall of its Raw Sunflower Seeds, Roasted Sunflower Seeds and Snack Mixes Wednesday after sampling by the Michigan Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in raw sunflower seeds sold at retailers.

Products subject to the recall include 52 items that were distributed between April 5 and June 11, 2013 to manufacturers and retailers in nine states in the Midwest and East, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

On September 14, 2012, Forever Cheese, Inc. issued an expanded recall of all lots and production codes of Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese and issued a market withdrawal of all cheeses they received that were produced by the Italian cheese exporter.

Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese may also have been referred to as Ricotta Frescolina Marte Tipo Toscanella or Ricotta Salata Soft (lot number T9425) during distribution.

Labeling of the recalled ricotta salata cheese  after it was cut and repackaged has been inconsistent. Be aware that labels of repackaged cheese may not include the words “Marte” or “Frescolina.”

Consumers who purchased recalled Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese are advised not to eat it and to discard any remaining cheese.

This is especially important for pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults.

Cheese retailers should not sell or serve recalled Marte brand Frescolina ricotta cheese distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc., regardless of any expiration coding.

The CDC has reported that as of October 11, 2012, a total of 20 persons infected with the outbreak-associated strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 12 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (1), and Washington (1).

19 ill persons reported being hospitalized. Four deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least two of these deaths. One fetal loss has also been reported.

Collaborative investigation efforts of local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that imported ricotta salata cheese is the likely source of this outbreak.

Listeria:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.

cantaloupe.jpgIt pales in comparison to the overwhelming human costs of the last summers cantaloupe listeria outbreak, but of course, it’s bad for business too.  Andy Nelson at The Grower wrote of the efforts of Colorado cantaloupe growers to rebound from the 2011 disaster.  Nelson reported on the thoughts of Colorado Agriculture commissioner John Salazar:

Talk to John Salazar, and you won’t have to wait long to hear him praise Rocky Ford cantaloupes.  In the past, Colorado’s agricultural commissioner has told me about traveling to far-flung corners of the country and world, only to be surprised by people who rave about the famous Rocky Ford melon.  For Salazar and the growers he and his staff have been advocating aggressively for since September, when news of the outbreak first came out, there’s no time to waste, and no reason to hide under a rock.

In particular, growers are distancing themselves from Jensen Farms, arguing that Jensen was never truly “Rocky Ford” to begin with.

For starters, Rocky Ford growers have gone blue in the face trying to convince the industry and the public that Jensen Farms isn’t even in Rocky Ford proper. Not even close.

I hope that the Colorado growers do rebound, and sell lots and lost of pathogen free cantaloupe.

There was an informative article today written by Grace Derocha on healthy eating for pregnant women. It included some information on avoiding listeria:

Listeria — and any foodborne illness for that matter — is very dangerous for you and the baby when pregnant. The immune system of is different for pregnant women than it is for non-pregnant women. Listeria is known to have the ability to cross the placenta to the baby and can cause infection or blood poisoning, which could lead to miscarriage.

Here are some things to think about to avoid listeria and keep the baby safe.

  • Pâté — Meat spreads or refrigerated pâtés should be avoided. Canned pates or shelf-safe pates would be OK for pregnant women to consume.
  • Lunch or deli meats and any processed meats (such as hot dogs) are known to contain listeria. If you want to eat these foods, they must be cooked throroughly until steaming hot.
  • Smoked seafoods, such as lox, Nova style, kippered or jerky, are known to carry listeria as well. If these smoked seafoods are cooked into a meal, like a casserole or soup, they are safe to eat.

cantaloupe.jpgThe frightening news about the outbreak of listeria tied to cantaloupe from Jensen Farms and Frontera Produce continues to pour forth.   The latest count has 133 ill and 28 dead with one miscarriage.

In light of this, some food-safety tips directly on point from Dr. David Golden, Ph.D. of Food Microbiology at University of Tennessee is welcome.   Some of the salient points from Dr. Golden:

“Rinse it, blot it and cut it,” says Golden, referring to the steps of cleaning the cantaloupe. He also suggests avoiding the use of the same cutting board when cutting off the rind, or simply wash the cutting board before going to the next step after removing the rind.

Dr. Golden also re-iterated a point made here before – due to the long incubation period, the numbers of ill persons may continue to climb:  “We may continue to see ill effects of the contamination maybe even up through Christmas because of the slow onset that may occur.”

Ongoing collaborative investigations by local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that the source of the outbreak is whole cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farms’ production fields in Granada, Colorado. Among the 84 ill persons with available information on what they ate, 78 (93%) reported consuming cantaloupes in the month before illness onset. Several ill persons remembered the type of cantaloupe they had eaten and said they were Rocky Ford cantaloupes, which are grown in the Rocky Ford region of southeastern Colorado. Source tracing of the cantaloupes that ill persons ate indicated that they came from Jensen Farms, and were marketed as being from the Rocky Ford region. These cantaloupes were shipped from July 29 through September 10 to at least 24 states , with possible further distribution.

Laboratory testing by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified Listeria monocytogenes bacteria on cantaloupes collected from grocery stores and from ill persons’ homes. Product traceback information from Colorado state officials indicated that these cantaloupes also came from Jensen Farms. Laboratory testing by FDA has identified L. monocytogenes outbreak strains in samples from equipment and cantaloupe at the Jensen Farms’ packing facility in Granada, Colorado. FDA is working closely with CDC, the firms involved, and public health authorities in states where illnesses occurred to determine the exact cause of contamination. Cantaloupes from other farms have not been linked to this outbreak.

Although Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes on September 14 and the recalled cantaloupe should be off store shelves, more ill persons may be reported because of the time lag between diagnosis and laboratory confirmation and also because up to 2 months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing listeriosis.

Dear Chairman Upton and Chairman Stearns:

We are the husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children of some of the 109 people from 24 states whose lives have ended, or been permanently and grievously transformed, because they ate contaminated cantaloupes grown and sold by Jensen Farms. We write to you today to echo Representative Waxman and DeGette’s request for an investigation and hearing regarding the recent cantaloupe Listeria monocytogenes outbreak, and ask that you consider this additional request, from us—the consumers, the victims, and the families of many who remain too ill to speak or are simply not among us anymore.

As you know, this outbreak has now become the nation’s deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in more than a decade. At least 21 people have died as a result of eating cantaloupe. Some of us know the pain of these deaths first hand, and some of us are still caring for family members who remain hospitalized with uncertain prognoses. With the number of Listeria outbreak victims increasing weekly, you can be certain that more families will join our ranks before this outbreak is finally over.

Like victims of prior foodborne illness outbreaks traced to foods such as spinach, peanuts, and eggs, we seek answers to this tragedy. It is our hope that through public hearings involving the grower and distributor of these Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes and investigators from the public health community, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration, your committee can shed some light on the origins of this foodborne illness outbreak and provide the cantaloupe industry with information necessary to prevent outbreaks from occurring in the future.

Very Truly Yours,

Research by the United Kingdom Health Protection Agency has shown that cancer patients have a five-fold increased risk of developing listeria than people with other underlying conditions – and those those with cancers of the blood have the greatest risk. These findings are published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Listeriosis is a rare but serious foodborne illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Some groups of people can be more seriously affected by this type of food poisoning than others. Pregnant women and their unborn or newborn babies are at most risk, as well as the elderly and those with conditions that affect their immune system,

In addition to cancer, diseases of the liver, kidney and connective tissue (e.g. Lupus) as well as alcoholism, diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation of the intestines (e.g. Crohn’s disease) were also found to increase the risk of developing listeria.

Those receiving cancer treatment or suffering from a variety of conditions, including diabetes, kidney or liver disease, should be offered appropriate health advice on how to avoid listeria. At present this is given passively and mainly to pregnant women, but clearly there are other groups of people who need to be advised on what they can do to protect their health.

Listeria can cause serious illness or even death in those people who have serious underlying health conditions. Taking steps to avoid infection is a very important part of managing their health and these groups need to be made aware of how they should do this.

The current public health advice to vulnerable groups on preventing listeria is to avoid the following:

– Prepacked or delicatessen sliced meats

– Soft cheeses – brie, camembert and chevre (goat’s cheese)

– Smoked fish

– All kinds of pate including vegetable varieties

– Pre-prepared cooked and chilled meals

– Pre-prepared sandwiches

– Unpasteurized milk