Profiling Yersinia enterocolitica

Yersinia enterocolitica can grow at temperatures as low as 32º to 36ºF (0º to 2ºC).

Some history

Yersinia enterocolitica was first discovered to be a human pathogen in 1939; however, it was only recognized as a cause of food-borne disease in the 1970’s.

What is Yersinia enterocolitica, and where is its natural habitat?

Yersinia enterocolitica is cold-tolerant and can grow slowly in refrigerated food. It has been detected in many kinds of animals, and in surface waters. The serotypes that most frequently cause human disease are most likely to be found in the mouth and intestinal tract of healthy pigs, although the microbe has been detected in a variety of meats, milk, other dairy products, seafood and environmental waters.

How is Yersinia enterocolitica transmitted? What is the incubation period of the infection?

The disease is transmitted when an individual consumes food or water contaminated by one of the pathogenic strains of the bacterium. Two past outbreaks involved children who ate raw chitterlings (raw pork intestines), a traditional winter holiday dish among members of the African-American community. The incubation period can range from one day to 11 days.

What is yersiniosis? How long does it take to develop?

Yersinia enterocolitica infections in younger children usually result in enterocolitis – diarrhea, low-grade fever and abdominal pain. In older children and young adults, the infection may produce symptoms that resemble appendicitis. Symptoms typically require from one to 11 days to develop.

What are the symptoms of Yersinia enterocolitica infections?

Symptoms may include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting. The severity of the symptoms depends upon the age of the victim and the size of the dose. The disease symptoms last from one to three weeks in most cases.

What is the prognosis of a Yersinia enterocolitica infection?

Most infections are self-limiting; however, complications and secondary illnesses can include appendicitis, arthritis, erythema nodosum, bacteremia, or extraintestinal infections. Among individuals who develop bacteremia (infection of the bloodstream), the fatality rate is 34-50%.

What foods carry Yersinia enterocolitica?

Yersinia enterocolitica has been found in meats (beef, poultry, lamb and, especially pork), milk and other dairy products, and seafood. Many – but not all – of the strains found in food are not pathogenic to humans.

How can people protect themselves from Yersinia enterocolitica infections?

Yersinia enterocolitica is killed during pasteurization of milk and by normal cooking procedures. Ways to minimize the risk of contracting an infection include:

  • Always cook pork, beef, lamb and poultry thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 165ºF (74ºC)
  • Take care to avoid contact between raw meat juices and foods that are ready-to-eat, including cooked meats, side dishes, salads and desserts
  • Wash and sanitize hands, utensils and work surfaces after working with any raw meat
  • Avoid consuming raw milk and dairy products made using unpasteurized milk
  • Avoid drinking untreated water
  • Always wash hands after touching a pet or barnyard animal
  • Do not allow toddlers and young children to play with pets or barnyard animals unsupervised.

For more information on Yersinia enterocolitica and other food-borne pathogens, visit the CDC website or read Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives.

Recalls and Alerts: January 23, 2013

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

Canada

  • Allergy Alert: Newfoundland Chocolate Company recalls all Best Before dates and sizes of the following Newfoundland Chocolate Company brand chocolates, due to undeclared egg and wheat: Smiling Land Series Gourmet chocolates featuring Newfoundland wildberries, Rum Runners & Rogues Series Gourmet chocolates featuring Newfoundland spirits and liqueurs, Lighthouse Series Gourmet dark chocolates, Quiet Cove Series Gourmet milk chocolates, and Jigs n’ Reels Series Gourmet milk, dark and white chocolates. The recalled products were distributed in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, and may have been distributed nationally.
  • Food Safety Recall: Pâtisserie La Lorraine inc (Repentigny, QC) recalls Sauce au Poulet pour Vol-au-vent/Vol-au-vent chicken sauce (500 ml and 1 liter glass jars, with or without labels; sold up to and including January 11, 2013), because the jars were not labeled “Garder réfrigéré” and the contents, therefore, may not be safe for consumption.

Europe

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.

Recalls and Alerts: October 29, 2011

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

  • Allergy Alert: Gardenburger, LLC (Clearfield, UT) recalls Eating Right™ Soy Protein Burgers (4-count, 10-oz carton; UPC 79893 80071; Lot codes NOV 17 12 WT A and NOV 17 12 WT B), because the burgers may contain undeclared milk, due to a packaging error. The recalled frozen burgers were distributed by Lucerne Foods (Pleasanton, CA) and sold in Safeway, Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Pak ‘N’ Save, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Vons, and Pavilions retail stores nationwide.
  • Food Safety Alert: Pennsylvania’s Departments of Agriculture and Health advise consumers and retailers to immediately discard milk purchased from Brunton Dairy (Aliquippa, Beaver County, PA), as a sample of pasteurized, homogenized fat-free milk from the dairy was found to be contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica. The alert refers to milk with a Sell-by date of Oct 25 or later. Production at the Dairy has been suspended pending the completion of additional testing.
  • Food Recall: Food City reports that the manufacturer has recalled Kern’s 8′ No Sugar Added Cherry Pie and Kern’s 8′ No Sugar Added Blueberry Pie. No details are indicated.
  • Outbreak Alert: The North Carolina Division of Public Health is investigating 26 cases of E. coli in Wake (14), Sampson (6), Durham (1), Franklin (1), Johnston (1), Orange (1) and Wilson (1) counties. Ten of the cases are confirmed, and 16 are still under investigation. Five people – 4 children and 1 adult – are hospitalized. Twenty-three of the 26 outbreak victims attended the State Fair earlier this month.

Canada

  • Food Withdrawal: Madrona Specialty Foods withdraws Hannah’s Naturals Halloween Cookies (Costco Item #321233; Best before 2012 JA 13), because some of the cookies have developed mold growth. The Halloween Cookies were sold at Costco Wholesale stores in Western Canada between September 14th and October 8th, 2011.

Europe

  • Food Safety Recall (Italy): Bio Gaudiano recalls Organic Olive alle mandorle/Almond-Stuffed Olives (314ml glass jars; all batch codes), due to the risk of Clostridium botulinum contamination and potential development of botulinum toxin.
  • Outbreak Alert (Norway): The Food Safety Authority has received a report from the Department of Public Health of three cases of shigellosis in Østfold. The agencies are cooperating to determine whether these cases may be linked to a number of cases reported in Tromsø earlier in October.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall web site.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.