‘Tainted’ audiobook now available

This story by Jonan Pilet first appeared on Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

“Tainted” by Phyllis Entis is available in book, digital and audiobook formats.

Phyllis Entis’s new book “Tainted” is now available as an audiobook. The book is narrated by Entis herself. 

The book is particularly topical as the first chapter talks about Cronobacter sakazakii, a dangerous bacterium that has caused an ongoing outbreak. The Cronobacter outbreak has sickened at least five infants, killing two, and has been linked to Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare infant formulas recalled Abbott Nutrition. 

“Tainted” tells readers that when it comes to food safety, conventional wisdom isn’t always enough. As Entis puts it, “the food preparation skills we learned from our parents and grandparents are no longer good enough to keep us safe.”

The audiobook can be found here.

I had the chance to read the book this past December and talk with Entis about it. Whether it’s Salmonella in eggs, Listeria in deli meats, melamine in milk or Cyclospora in lettuce, “Tainted” illustrates that everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the food we eat is as safe as we can make it. Entis shows that everyone — government regulators, farmers, ranchers, food processors, food service workers, retailers, educators and consumers — are needed to accomplish this herculean task.

Phyllis Entis is a retired food safety microbiologist. “Tainted” is the update of her 2007 book, “Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives.” The original version had an academic bent, but “Tainted” is more in line with Entis’s original vision of making food safety accessible to the lay reader.

In recent years, Entis has honed her storytelling abilities as she has been working as a mystery writer. She is known for the Damien Dickens Mysteries series, which includes “The Green Pearl Caper,” “The White Russian Caper,” “The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper,” “The Gold Dragon Caper,” “The Blue Moon Caper,” and “The Silver Star Caper.” Her debut novel, “The Green Pearl Caper,” was a Library Journal SELF-e Selection.

Writing mystery novels prepared her well to write “Tainted,” as food safety illnesses often function as mysteries. “Tainted” often reads like a true crime novel, where laymen and authorities uncover clues to save the public from future poisonings and reveal the culprits of past poisonings.

After reading “Tainted,” I asked Entis if she has a particular story from the novel that she finds most memorable. She pointed to the Regent Chocolate episode.

In January 1974, a Salmonella Eastbourne outbreak was linked to Regent Chocolate. Entis’s lab with Canada’s Health Protection Branch was responsible for checking all of the suspect chocolate stored in warehouses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. “I am a chocoholic and it was torture to be surrounded by all those giant Easter bunnies and chocolate Christmas tree ornaments and not be able to nibble,” she said.

Entis was able to watch Regent’s response firsthand and see how effective the company’s approach and changes were. She explains in the book how Regent could serve as a model for how companies can learn from their mistakes.

Though “Tainted” is a great book for those interested in learning more about food safety, it’s also a book for those who simply want to be entertained by the drama behind the scenes of food safety.

If you read “Tainted” and have been spurred to read more about food safety, Entis recommends Nicols Fox’s 1997 book, “Spoiled, The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone Haywire,” Jeff Benedict’s “Poisoned,” and Deborah Blum’s “The Poison Squad.”

“Tainted” was released Dec. 2, 2020, and can be ordered on Amazon. Entis’s book reached  No. 1 overall in the Microbiology category on Amazon during the first week of its release.

TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures is available in ebook and audiobook formats from all major on-line retailers. The paperback and hardcover editions can be ordered from Amazon or through your local bookstore.


Contaminated Peaches from USA Cause Salmonella Outbreak in Canada

Thirty-three Canadians in Ontario (22 cases) and Quebec (11 cases) have become infected with Salmonella Enteritidis after consuming peaches imported from the USA, according to a report released this morning by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Three of the outbreak victims have been hospitalized.

Those infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis range in age between 0 and 91 years, and 55% of the victims are female.

The outbreak is linked to peaches supplied by Prima Wawona, a California-based company, which has recalled a series of products from the marketplace.

Prima Wawona peaches have also been blamed for an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis in the USA, which had sickened 68 individuals in 9 US states as of August 21st, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On August 22nd, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a Consumer Advisory alerting Canadians to the presence of the recalled peaches in the country and warning that PHAC had identified some illnesses linked to their consumption.

Canadian consumers should avoid purchasing, serving or eating any of the following peaches, or any other food products containing these peaches.

  • Harvest Sweet Sweet 2 Eat Prima Sweet Value Wawona Yellow Peaches; PLU 4037, PLU 4038 PLU 4044,
  • Harvest Sweet Sweet 2 Eat Prima Sweet Value Wawona White Peaches; PLU 4401
  • Sweet 2 Eat Sweet O Organic Yellow Peaches; PLU 94037, PLU 94038, PLU 94044
  • Sweet 2 Eat Organic White Peaches; PLU 94401
  • Wawona Peaches; 907g / 2 lb; UPC 0 33383 32200 1
  • Wegmans Peaches; 907g / 2 lb; UPC 0 77890 49048 8
  • Extrafresh Peaches; 907g / 2 lb; 0 33383 02071 6; Codes CPO3148, CPO3164, CPO3163, CPO3186, CPO3207, CPO3213, CPO3228, CPO3265, CPO3281, CPO3302, CPO3328, CPO3354, MPO0500, MPO0503, MPO0524, MPO0671, MPO0678, MPO0689, MPO0693, MPO0703, MPO0716, MPO0725, MPO0730, MPO0767, MPO0795

Peaches imported in bulk may have been sold loose or in bulk, with or without a brand name. These peaches may have been repackaged into a variety of formats.

Except for the Extrafresh Peaches, the recall encompasses all products sold from June 1, 2020 forward.

What Consumers Need to Know

  • Do not purchase or consume any peaches listed above. If you are in doubt as to the origin of peaches which you have already purchased, throw them away and disinfect the bin in which they were stored.
  • Some of the peaches may have been supplied to restaurants, hotels, bakeries or various food service establishments, including hospitals and nursing homes and may have been used in salads, desserts or baked goods. It would be prudent to avoid all of these items, unless you can be certain they were produced using peaches not included in this Advisory.
  • If you are suffering from symptoms of salmonellosis, including low-grade fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and/or vomiting, consult your healthcare professional. Be prepared to provide information on the food items you consumed during the week before beginning to experience your symptoms

This is the third Canadian foodborne disease outbreak since the beginning of July, all of them linked to consumption of produce imported from the USA. Local produce is readily available during the summer months. Consider supporting your local producers instead of buying imported produce.

Canadian Listeria monocytogenes outbreak blamed on diced chicken imported from USA

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating seven cases of Listeria monocytogenes infections in three Canadian provinces.

Five of the seven cases were reported during the period April – June 2019; the other two cases, involving the same genetic strain, occurred in 2017.

Six of the seven outbreak victims were admitted to hospital.

Outbreak cases were reported in British Columbia (1), Manitoba (1) and Ontario (5). The outbreak victims’ ages range between 51 and 97 years. Six of the seven victims are female.

The source of the outbreak has been traced to a production batch of Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat, which was supplied to hotels, restaurants and institutions. The implicated product was not packaged for retail sale.

As a result of the traceback investigation, Rosemount Sales and Marketing has recalled the following product:

Rosemount brand Cooked diced chicken meat 13 mm – ½” (#16305) (4.54Kg; PACKDATE: 01/21/19; UPC 2 06 20263 12454 7)

The recalled product was supplied to hotels, restaurants and institutions in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, and may have been distributed nationwide.

The fully cooked, diced chicken is a product of the USA, and was exported to Canada under USDA Export Certificate No. 039833. The manufacturer cannot be identified from the package labeling.

According to PHAC, anyone can become sick from Listeria bacteria, but those at highest risk of serious illness include pregnant women, their unborn children and newborns, adults 65 and over, and people with weakened immune systems.

Individuals living in group homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes would be members of one or more of these at-risk groups.

What you need to know
  • Foods that are contaminated with Listeria may look, smell and taste normal. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can survive and sometimes grow on foods being stored in the refrigerator.
  • Symptoms of mild Listeria monocytogenes infections can appear as early as three days after exposure to a contaminated food, and may include fever, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, constipation, and muscle aches.
  • Symptoms of severe infections may not appear until 2-3 weeks following exposure, and can take up to 70 days to develop. These symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, headache, and loss of balance.
  • Pregnant women infected with Listeria monocytogenes may experience complications including stillbirth, early delivery, and infection in the newborn baby.
  • Severe cases of Listeria monocytogenes infections can be deadly.
What you need to do
  • If you have Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat 13mm – ½” (#16305), packdate – 01/21/2019 in your food establishment, do not eat the product or serve it to others
  • Secure the product and any foods made with the product in a plastic bag, throw it out and wash your hands with warm soapy water.
  • If you are unsure whether your Rosemount brand chicken is part of the food recall warning, discard the product.  Do not serve or consume it.
  • If you suspect you have become ill from eating Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat, or have symptoms consistent with listeriosis, talk with your healthcare provider.