Dozens sick after eating raw oysters; Hog Island Oysters subject to recall

This story by Coral Beach first appeared in Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission

California officials have closed some commercial shellfish farming areas while they investigate an outbreak of norovirus that has sickened at least 44 people who reported eating raw oysters from Hog Island Oysters.

The company agreed to recall its “Sweetwater” and “Atlantic” oysters from a total of more than 40 restaurants and retailers in California, according to a notice posted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The company did not appear to have any information about the recall or illnesses on its website as of last night. 

A spokesperson for the CDPH told Food Safety News that the source of the highly contagious norovirus had not been determined as of yesterday afternoon. It has, however, been confirmed that norovirus is responsible for the illnesses, as opposed to other foodborne pathogens. 

Marin County Environmental Health Services notified the state health department on Jan. 3 about reports of illnesses associated with the oysters. State investigators began looking for the cause and by 2:30 that afternoon they had closed all commercial shellfish growing areas in Tomales Bay.

“On Jan. 4, implicated product and future product distribution were determined and samples collected. The firm initiated a recall of the oysters and notified CDPH of that on Saturday, Jan. 5. CDPH started web posting on Monday, Jan. 7,” according to a department statement provided to Food Safety News.

State officials are aware of 44 people who ate Hog Island Oysters before becoming ill. None of those people have been admitted to hospitals. The sick people reported symptoms consistent with norovirus infection, which are primarily intense diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Raw oysters are well-documented as a source of norovirus infections.

Infected foodservice workers can easily contaminate foods, utensils and dishes, kitchen surfaces and equipment. However, norovirus is known to survive in fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish. It has been found in species from farms and in the wild.

State officials will not allow commercial harvesting in the growing areas of Tomales Bay until further notice. Investigators continue to collect and review data. The state is working with local jurisdictions on the investigation.

A number of consumers have posted online reports about becoming sick after eating raw oysters from Hog Island Oysters on New Year’s Eve and in the first couple of days of January. Those reports include at least 29 being tracked by the website iwaspoisoned.com, according to Patrick Quade.

Quade, iwaspoisoned.com founder, said Monday there are reports of people becoming ill after eating raw oysters that were listed as being from Hog Island Oysters on menus at a restaurant in Grand Central Station in New York City. Those illnesses coincide with the timing of the California illnesses.

The list of restaurants and retailers in California where the suspect oysters were recalled is good information for consumers, but Quade said he doesn’t understand why there aren’t laws to compel food companies to post recall and outbreak information on their own websites.

“We do not know why some food companies do not post their recall notices on their website and social media channels. It is clearly the responsible thing to do, especially when lives are at stake. It reflects very badly on those companies who act in this way,” Quade said.

California officials said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was notified of the outbreak on Jan. 4. The agency was notified of the recall on Jan. 8. As of Jan. 15, the FDA had not posted the company’s recall notice.

Recalls and Alerts: April 30 – May 2, 2018

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

OUTBREAK ALERT (UPDATE): One person has died and 121 individuals in 25 states have been infected with a strain of E. coli O157:H7, according to the latest report from CDC. Fifty-two (52) people have been hospitalized, including 14 who have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (a form of kidney failure). The illnesses are linked to consumption of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

OUTBREAK ALERT: FDA advises consumers to avoid potentially contaminated raw oysters from British Columbia. The oysters have been linked to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness in three Canadian provinces. Some of the cases have been confirmed as Norovirus. Food Safety News reports that California has experienced 100 cases of Norovirus-like illnesses linked to consumption of the raw oysters.

Allergy Alert: Stonewall Kitchen recalls Stonewall Kitchen brand Basil Pesto Aioli (10.25 oz; Use by 28 Sep 2019) due to undeclared egg.

Allergy Alert: Utz® Quality Foods, LLC recalls certain select expiration dates of some Golden Flake, Good Health, Utz and Weis Brand Tortilla Chip items due to undeclared milk. Please refer to the recall notice for complete details on the affected products, which were distributed to retail outlets in AL, AR, AZ, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WV.

Food Safety Recall: Seabear Company recalls Gerard & Dominique Seafoods brand Cold Smoked Wild Coho Salmon Lox (3 oz.; Lot #CSCO-17339; Pack Date 17-340) due to potential Clostridium botulinum contamination. The recalled product was distributed directly to distributors in CA, MD, and WA between 12/8/17 and 4/10/18 and it may have been further distributed and sold through retail stores at least in these states.

Food Safety Recall: JBS USA, Inc. recalls approximately 35,464 pounds of raw ground beef products due to foreign matter (hard plastic) contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were shipped to distribution centers in Virginia and Indiana for further distribution to retail locations.

Canada

Food Safety Recall (Update): Greenbelt Greenhouse Ltd. recalls certain Greenbelt Microgreens brand microgreens due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Please refer to the updated recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were sold to consumers in Alberta , British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.

Europe

Allergy Alert (Ireland): Lidl Ireland recalls certain Alesto Dried Fruit Products due to undeclare sulfur dioxide and nuts. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Allergy Alert (Netherlands): Albert Heijn recalls AH Lunch Salmon goat cheese with spinach, blueberries, walnuts and citrus vinaigrette (200g; Best by 05-05-2018) due to undeclared milk and nuts.

Allergy Alert (UK): BOL Foods recalls BOL Caribbean Jerk Curry (345g; Use by 5 May 2018) due to undeclared milk and barley.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): FROM-UN recalls Anny brand Camembert cheese (250g; Lot #260 218 DSO; Best by 28/04/2018 and 02/05/2018; Product of France) due to E. coli 026:H11 contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): TURK FOOD IMPEX SPRL recalls Favorim brand Powdered Ginger (100g, 150g & 700g pkgs; Lots #E170873, E170932 & E170811; Best by 31/08/2021) due to Bacillus cereus contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): Notre Savoir Faire Charcutier recalls Pork snout (4 slices, 200g; all lots) and Jellied Tongue (3 slices, 280g; all lots) due to Listeria contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): Monique Ranou recalls Roasted snout (4 slices, 180g; all lots) and Jellied Tongue (3 slices, 280g; all lots) due to Listeria contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): Block Foods AG recalls Block House Bread Garlic (Best by 20.05.2018) and Block House Bread Herbal Pesto (20.05.2018) due to possible foreign matter (fragments of a machine part) contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): INTER-OVO GmbH recalls certain free-range eggs due to possible Salmonella contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): Fromagerie Gaugry recalls various cheeses due to E. coli O111 contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Ireland): Dunnes Stores recalls a number of its Simply Better yogurts due to possible foreign matter (pieces of rubber) contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Italy): Natural Salumi S.r.l. recalls Salame romagnolo senza lardello (Lot #30209D; Best by 02/07/2018) due to possible Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): Poiesz supermarkets recalls Extra-lean ground beef (250g and 500g; Shelf life of 30-4, 1-5 and 2-5) due to possible Shiga-toxin producing E. coli contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): MCD supermarket and Boon’s market recall Lean ground beef (300g and 500g; Shelf life of 30-4, 1-5 and 2-5) due to possible Shiga-toxin producing E. coli contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): SPAR recalls Lean ground beef (320g and 520g; Shelf life of 30-4, 1-5 and 2-5) due to possible Shiga-toxin producing E. coli contamination.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Dunnes Stores recalls a number of its Simply Better yogurts due to possible foreign matter (pieces of rubber) contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

Food Safety Recall (Hong Kong): FICO International Ltd recalls Fromagerie du Plessis brand Camembert de Normandie – Appelation d’origine protégée – raw milk cheese (250g; Batch code 260218DS0; Use by May 2, 2018) due to possible Shiga-toxin producing E. coli contamination.

Australia and New Zealand

Allergy Alert (Australia): Sweet Bondi Pty Ltd recalls Tapioca Coconut Milk Puddings – Mango, Raspberry and Plain flavours (180g; All Use by dates up to and including 15/5/18) due to undeclared milk.

Oysters linked to Canadian norovirus outbreak distributed in USA

Raw oysters from British Columbia linked to an outbreak of Norovirus in Canada were also distributed in the USA, according to information just released by the FDA.

Since mid-March, the Public Health Agency of Canada has been investigating reports of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses in three provinces: British Columbia (132 cases), Alberta (15 cases), and Ontario (25 cases).

Most of the outbreak victims reported eating raw oysters from the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia. Several of the illnesses have been confirmed to be due to Norovirus.

Four shellfish farms in British Columbia linked to the outbreak have been closed.

Typically, people infected with Norovirus develop diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children. Symptoms usually develop within 24-48 hours of consuming the contaminated food.

FDA has confirmed that potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada, were distributed in California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington. The oysters may also have entered other states, either directly from Canada or through further distribution within the US.

Retailers in the US are being advised to avoid serving raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations within Baynes Sound: #1402060, #1411206, #1400483, and #278757.

What consumers should know
People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated oysters should talk to their health care providers. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.