Canal water likely source of E. coli in romaine-related outbreak


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

Federal officials say contaminated canal water near romaine lettuce growing fields is the likely source of the unusually virulent strain of E. coli that has sickened people across 36 states, killing five.

This NASA photo shows a canal snaking through the Arizona desert near Yuma, AZ. Such canals carry water to communities and farmers.

The outbreak is over, according to an update this afternoon from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency has confirmed 210 people with infections. Twenty-seven of the victims have developed kidney failure. The most recent victim became sick on June 6.

“Samples have been collected from environmental sources in the region, including water, soil, and cow manure. Evaluation of these samples is ongoing,” according to an update this afternoon from the Food and Drug Administration investigators.

“To date, CDC analysis of samples taken from canal water in the region has identified the presence of E. coli O157: H7 with the same genetic fingerprint as the outbreak strain. We have identified additional strains of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli in water and soil samples, but at this time, the samples from the canal water are the only matches to the outbreak strain.”

Growers, researchers and produce trade associations have said in recent weeks that the Yuma area uses canal water from the Colorado River for irrigation and other agriculture uses. Some have theorized that a common water source is one of the most likely sources of the E. coli bacteria.

“CDC laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 in canal water samples taken from the Yuma (AZ) growing region,” according to the CDC’s update this afternoon, which is the first since June 1.

To view a larger version of this map, please click on the image

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing to investigate the outbreak to learn more about how the E. coli bacteria could have entered the water and ways this water could have contaminated romaine lettuce.”

FDA last reported to the public on June 1 when traceback efforts were still stymied because of a tangle of hand-written, incomplete and incompatible shipping and receiving records through the supply chain from growers to retailers.

From the beginning of the outbreak, FDA and CDC have said the implicated romaine lettuce came from the Yuma growing region. Produce industry individuals and groups told the federal agencies the last romaine from that area was harvested April 16. People usually begin to show symptoms of infection in less than a week after exposure to E. coli bacteria.

The first confirmed illness in the outbreak began on March 13. The age range of victims is 1 to 86 years old.

“In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures they had before they became ill. Of the 166 people interviewed, 145 (87 percent) reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started,” according to the CDC.


A Supplementary Note

In a related Food Safety News opinion piece, Coral Beach highlights the long delay between the determination of the geographic source of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak and the sampling of canal water in the region.

In Chapter 8 of my book, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives, published in 2007 by ASM Press, I wrote:

Take a drive on the Interstate 5 through California’s San Joaquin Valley and you will pass fields of produce, open irrigation canals, and cattle feedlots. Irrigation is a way of life in this semi-arid agricultural area; rain is a rare visitor, except during the winter months. But when it rains, it pours. The soil becomes saturated, and excess water drains off the fields and feedlots. Some of the runoff finds its way into the irrigation canals, bringing with it pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7.

This observation is equally applicable to the agricultural region around Yuma, Arizona.

Recalls and Alerts: May 27 – June 4, 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: CDC reports that the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with consumption of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region has claimed 5 lives. A total of 197 consumers from 35 states have been infected by the outbreak strain, and 89 of the outbreak victims required hospitalization.

Allergy Alert: Shearer’s Foods, LLC recalls Meijer brand Dill Pickle Flavored Potato Chips (9.5-oz bags; Sell by dates between 07/16/18 and 08/13/18; UPC 719283594365) due to undeclared milk. The recalled product was shipped to Meijer distribution centers.

Allergy Alert: SDQ Trading Inc. recalls Cheese Biscuits (16.5-oz pkg; UPC 6926145712902) due to undeclared milk. The recalled product was distributed in New York State in retail stores.

Allergy Alert: Sanders recalls Milk Chocolate Covered Fudge Mini Bites (3.75-oz pkg; Lot #8109 FL; Best by January 31, 2019) due to undeclared almonds. The recalled product was distributed throughout several Michigan retail stores.

Food Safety Recall: Goodman Food Products, Texas, Inc. recalls approximately 34,400 pounds of fully cooked ground beef products due to potential foreign matter (hard, white plastic) contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were shipped to institutional locations in Maine and Connecticut.

Food Safety Recall: H-E-B recalls certain flavors and container sizes of EconoMax and Hill Country Fare ice creams and Creamy Creations sherbets due to broken metal in processing equipment found during routine maintenance. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were distributed to stores in Texas and Mexico.

Food Safety Recall: Ruiz Food Products, Inc. recalls approximately 50,706 pounds of frozen breakfast burritos due to possible foreign matter (white, semi-rigid plastic pieces) contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a detailed description of the affected items, which were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Food Safety Recall: Eddy Packing Co., Inc. recalls CARL’S PORK AND BEEF SMOKED SAUSAGE WITH A STICK (10-lb case; Lot code 8073; Case code PS9319; Sell by March 14, 2019) due to possible foreign matter (soft plastic) contamination. The recalled product was shipped to food service businesses in Texas.

Food Safety Recall: Supermercado Selectos recalls approximately 15,315 pounds of various raw, frozen beef, pork and poultry products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were shipped to DGA Food Service, LLC, who further distributed the items to Head Start Child and Adult Care Food Programs in Puerto Rico.

Dietary Supplement Safety Recall: Pious Lion recalls Pure Premium Potent Limited Release Pink Bali (1-oz clear plastic pouches) and Pure Premium Potent White Maeng DA, Bright Uplifting Energy (4-oz clear plastic pouches) due to potential Salmonella contamination. The recalled products were sold primarily directly to consumers or in retail stores located in the States of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Canada

Outbreak Alert/Food Safety Recall: Loblaw Companies Limited recalls no name Chicken Burgers (1 kg; Outer package code 2019 FE 06; Inner package code 0378M; UPC 0 60383 16636 6) due to possible Salmonella contamination. The recalled product, which was distributed to retailers nationwide, is believed to be the source of 59 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis illness in eight provinces: British Columbia (6), Alberta (8), Manitoba (9), Ontario (14), Quebec (19), New Brunswick (1), Nova Scotia (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1).

Allergy Alert: Marché Bellemare (Brossard, QC) recalls GALETTE DE BOEUF HACHÉ / Lean ground beef patty (125g/2-pack; UPC 0227598703988; All lots sold on or before 30 May 2018) due to undeclared mustard seed.

Allergy Alert: Yeh-ho Trading Ltd. recalls Oh Green brand Red Cereal (500g; Expiry 2019.12.27; UPC 4 715409 892076) due to undeclared milk. The recalled product was supplied to retailers in Alberta and British Columbia.

Food Safety Recall: Industry recalls select Love Child Organics brand and PC Organics brand baby food pouches from the marketplace due to packaging defects that may allow the entry of spoilage microorganisms. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were distributed to retailers nationwide.

Food Safety Recall: Messinger Meats recalls Italian Center Shop brand Veal –Ground Alberta 13095 (variable size; Best before MA.28.18 and JN.04.18) due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The recalled product was supplied to retailers in Alberta.

Food Safety Recall: Paradise Island Foods Inc. recalls Paradise Island Cheese brand Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese (variable size; Best before Best Before 2018 OC 19; UPC 245189 XXXXXX) due to generic E. coli. The recalled product was supplied to retailers in British Columbia.

Europe

Outbreak Alert/Food Safety Recall Update (France): The recall of cheese manufactured by Chabert has been expanded following the identification of another E. coli O26 outbreak victim who consumed cheese manufactured at the implicated Chabert facility, but cut and repackaged at a different location. Please refer to the recall notice for additional details.

Allergy Alert (Denmark): Flensted Snitgrønt A/S recalls Easy Tasty Coleslaw med sød chilidressing / Easy Tasty Coleslaw with sweet chili dressing (325g; Best by 03/06/18) due to undeclared sesame.

Allergy Alert (France): Jean Stalaven recalls RÉGAL DU CHEF brand omelette crème aux fines herbes et dès de chèvre (260g; Lot 8143/01; Best by 20/06/2018) due to undeclared soy and gluten.

Allergy Alert (Iceland): Krónan recalls Lasagna, Kjúklingalasagna, mexíkóskt lasagna (1 kg; All dates) due to undeclared egg, mustard and celery.

Allergy Alert (Ireland): Lidl Ireland recalls Milbona Cheese Triangles XXL (533g; all batches and codes not labelled in English) due to undeclared egg and milk.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Chicken Masters of Belgium recalls Vol au vent Super (750g; Best before 7/6/2018 – 27/6/2018; Lot code 180810011) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Denmark): Løgismose recalls Chicken Breast (Lot 1391800921; Best by 04/06/2018) due to Campylobacter contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): Jean Rozé (Intermarché) recalls Jean Rozé brand Chipolatas -25% de sel (Best by 01/06/2018; Lot #T81380317) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): Jean Rozé (Intermarché) recalls Jean Rozé brand Saucisses de Toulouse -25% de sel (Best by 01/06/2018; Lot #T81380321) due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): Frankonia Schokoladenwerke GmbH recalls Power Protein Bar, raspberry flavor (Best before 22.5.2019) due to possible Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): dennree GmbH recalls Porto Muinos Kombu (25g; Lot #LK 211217; Best before 04/2020) due to high levels of iodine.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): iglo GmbH recalls iglo Parsley (40g; Batch No. L8030CR005 / time 14:00 – 22:00; Best before 01/2019) due to shiga-toxin producing E. coli (VTEC).

Food Safety Recall (Germany): Giba Gewürze GmbH & Co. KG Ibrahim Bagbasi recall Sahra and Hira brands Paprika Edelsüss (various sizes and packaging; Lot L.218.G.B; Best before 31.12.2021) due to ochratoxin contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): NUSWEET GmbH recalls NUSWEET Nuss-Nougat-Creme (180 g; Best before 09.10.2019) due to foreign matter (metal particle contamination.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Addo Food Group recalls batches of chilled pastry products, including sausage rolls, pasties, pastry pies and slices due to potential foreign matter (small pieces of metal wire) contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Red Star Brands recalls Fulfil White Chocolate & Cookie Dough Vitamin & Protein Bars (55g; Lot #L7318/J; Best before 15 February 2019) due to possible foreign matter (small pieces of clear plastic) contamination.

Australia and New Zealand

Allergy Alert (Australia): Open Side Investments Pty Ltd trading as Ronda Food Products recalls French Style Duck Pate, Wild Mushroom and Cracked Pepper (150g; Use by dates 24/07/18 and 26/07/18) due to undeclared soy and dairy.

Food Safety Recall (New Zealand): New World Rototuna recalls Made In-Store Lamb Sausages (various weights; Best before 15.05.18) due to possible plastic foreign matter contamination.

Food Safety Recall (New Zealand): Wilson Consumer Products Ltd recalls Hormel brand Luncheon Meat (340g; Batch F143 EST 199N; Packed on 09/02/2018) due to possible metal foreign matter contamination.

Food Safety Recall (New Zealand): Drury Church Trust recalls Drury Church Trust raw (unpasteurised) milk (various sizes; Batch Nos. 170518 & 180518) due to Campylobacter contamination.

Recalls and Alerts: May 17 – 20, 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): The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to consumption of Romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region has grown to encompass 172 cases in 32 states. Seventy-five people have been hospitalized, and there has been one death. FDA reports that the last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018, and the harvest season is over. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people’s homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life

Allergy Alert: Hempler Foods Group recalls approximately 8,535 pounds of ready-to-eat pepperoni sticks due to undeclared milk. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Allergy Alert: Century Snacks recalls Tropical Trail Mix (16-oz. bags; Lot code BEST BY DEC 27 2018 TP3B T; UPC 0-87076-64462-8) due to undeclared milk.

Allergy Alert: BLM Prod.-u. Vertriebsges. mbH & Co. KG recalls Priano Rosso Pesto Sauce (various lots and best by dates; UPC 041498147631) due to undeclared egg and milk. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were sold in Aldi stores in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia, and via the grocery delivery service Instacart in the Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles areas.

Allergy Alert: Mas Food Services Co. recalls The Peruchef Brand Dry Potatoes (15-oz. pkgs; Expiry August 2019; UPC 7755864000194) due to undeclared sulfites. The recalled products were sold in retail supermarkets in Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Allergy Alert: Blount Fine Foods recalls BLOUNT fine foods Chicken Tortilla Soup “For Institutional Use Only” (16-lb cases (4 bags/case); Lot Code 04251819C; Use by 07/24/2018) due to undeclared wheat. The recalled product was shipped to distribution centers for further distribution in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

Food Safety Recall: Hickory Harvest Foods recalls Certain Island Fruit Mix and Organic Nut Mix Products due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were were sold at Liberty Snacks, Heinens, Pilot Flying J, Travel Centers, Diamond Gasoline, and Petro locations in AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, NC, ND, NE, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, and WY.

OTC Homeopathic Medicine Safety Recall: MBI Distributing, Inc. recalls homeopathic Teething Drops, Nausea Drops, Intestinal Colic Drops, Stomach Calm, Expectorant Cough Syrup, Silver-Zinc Throat Spray, and Argentum Elixir (all lots), as the products were found to have been manufactured without adequate controls.

Canada

Outbreak Alert (Update): PHAC reports that the Norovirus outbreak linked to consumption of raw oysters from British Columbia appears to be over. In all, the outbreak affected 176 individuals in British Columbia (137), Alberta (14), and Ontario (25).

Allergy Alert (Update): Jongga recalls Jongga brand Kimchi Ramen dried soup mix (140g; All date codes; UPC 8 801052 043661) due to undeclared milk. The recalled product was sold through retailers in Alberta , British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and possibly nationally.

Allergy Alert (Update): Legend Q Trading Inc. recalls Fisher Ma Ma and Liao Bu De brand fish products (various items; all date codes) due to undeclared egg. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were sold through retailers in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and possibly nationally.

Allergy Alert: Preservation Society recalls Preservation Society brand jams and marmalade due to undeclared sulphites. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were sold through retailers in Ontario and Quebec.

Food Safety Recall: Marché Adonis (Gatineau, QC) recalls various products due to possible contamination with Hepatitis A virus. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Update): Four Seasons Marketplace Inc. recalls various smoked fish products because they may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, which were sold at Four Seasons Marketplace, 4099 Erin Mills Parkway, Mississauga, Ontario.

Europe

Allergy Alert (UK): Naturya recalls Organic Chlorella Powder (200g; Batch code 606071; Best by 31 March 2019) due to undeclared sulphites.

Allergy Alert (UK): Supernutrients recalls Organic Chlorella Powder (5 kg; Batch code O-CH-DF-160330; Best by 31 March 2019) due to undeclared sulphites.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Colruyt Group recalls éclairs Boni Selection (2 pieces/190g; Best by 20/5/2018, 21/5/2018 and 22/5/2018) due to possible foreign matter (metal fragment) contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): AFSCA has ordered the recall of all Fromage AOP reblochon laitier au lait cru (450g wheels; Product stamp FR 74.096.050 CE-; Lot codes beginning with “8CR”; Product of France) due to E. coli O26 contamination. Consumption of this cheese has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O26 infections in France.

Food Safety Recall (Denmark): COOP Danmark A/S recalls Makler brand Burger Slice Chili Grill Cheese (200g; Best by 30 / 10-2018, Lot #L030518; Best by 29 / 10-2018, Lot #L020518) due to unacceptably high levels of bacteria.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): Global Foods Trading GmbH recalls Haldiram’s BHELPURI (200g; Best Before 28.7.2018; Lot #25 GQ; Product of India) due to elevated aflatoxin level.

Food Safety Recalll (Germany): FROMAGERIE CHABERT recalls Reblochon de Savoie au lait cru (450g; Best before 02/04/18 through 24/07/18; Lot numbers beginning “8CR”; Product of France) due to E. coli O26 contamination. Consumption of this cheese has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O26 infections in France.

Food Safety Recall (Germany): Heiploeg International B.V. recalls Wakame Salat – Meeresalgen Natur (100g; Best before 05.06.2018; Product of Netherlands) due to possible Hepatitis E contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): Importer recalls Haldiram’s Behl Puri (200g; Best before 28.07.2018; Lot #25 GQ; Product of India) due to elevated aflatoxin level.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): Supermarchés Colruyt recalls éclairs Boni (Best before 20/5/2018, 21/5/2018 & 22/5/2018) due to foreign matter (metal fragment) contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): QiZiNi recalls QiZiNi Panini Chicken BBQ (Best before 25 May 2018) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Netherlands): Fromagerie Chabert recalls Reblochon Chabert raw milk cheese (450g; Lot numbers beginning “8CR”) due to E. coli O26 contamination. Consumption of this cheese has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O26 infections in France.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Tees Ltd recalls Sweetworld Yummy Jelly Cones (400g; All dates) due to a choking hazard.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

Food Safety Recall (Hong Kong): Silco International Limited recalls FROMAGERIES CHABERT Fromage AOP reblochon laitier au lait cru raw milk cheese (450g; Lot numbers starting with 8CR; Product of France) due to  E. coli O26 contamination. Consumption of this cheese has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O26 infections in France.

Australia and New Zealand

Allergy Alert (New Zealand): Genevieve’s recalls Genevieve’s brand Truffled Chicken Liver Parfait and Truffled Duck Liver Parfait (100g glass jars; All use by dates up to and including 28.12.2018) due to undeclared fish.

Food Safety Recall (Australia): Sunny Queen Farms recalls Sunny Queen Farms Organic Free Range eggs (550g & 590g; Best Before: 22nd June 2018; Egg Stamp Code: ACO131), because some eggs may not have been cleaned to the usual required standard.

Food Safety Recall (Australia): Coles recalls Coles Mini Classics Vanilla Ice Cream (360mL; Best Before 17/04/2020) due to possible foreign matter (metal fragment) contamination.

Food Safety Recall (New Zealand): Euro Gourmet Meats recalls Euro Gourmet Meats brand smoked meat products (all batches and dates) due to lack of process control. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.