In an unusual move, Del Monte Fresh Produce has filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying “erroneous speculation, unsupported by scientific evidence” led to a March recall of Guatemalan cantaloupes tied to an outbreak of Salmonella Panama.

The 25-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland, seeks to lift an FDA restriction so the company can resume importing fresh cantaloupes from Guatemala. The suit challenges FDA’s import alerts, which allow the federal regulator to detain, without physically examining, products that either violate or could potentially violate the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Del Monte is the largest importer of cantaloupes into the United States; about 27 percent of its cantaloupes come from the Guatemalan supplier in question.

In a news release, Del Monte Fresh said FDA and several state health agency officials erred in saying that cantaloupes from a Guatemalan farm and packing facility were likely contaminated with Salmonella. “In fact, neither the FDA nor any state health agency in the U.S. has offered evidence or data to support the FDA action,” the statement said.

On March 22, Del Monte Fresh announced it was voluntarily calling back 4,992 cartons of whole cantaloupes because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recalled melons had been grown and shipped from the Asuncion Mita farm in Guatemala.

The recall was limited to whole cantaloupes sold in plastic sleeves, three to a bag, at “warehouse clubs” in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The retailer was not named by Del Monte but later was confirmed to be Costco. Costco notified its customers of the recall; none of the suspect cantaloupes remained in inventory.

Del Monte acknowledged that it had been informed by the FDA that there was an epidemiological link between the cantaloupes and 12 cases of Salmonella Panama infection.

 

The case count eventually climbed to 13 and then to 20, including three people who were hospitalized with severe illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in one of its update reports on the outbreak investigation, said 12 of 16 ill people had reported eating cantaloupe in the week before they became ill.

Eleven of those 12 said they had eaten cantaloupes purchased between March 10 and 21 at eight different warehouse-club (Costco) locations, according to the CDC report. Eleven of the case patients were from Oregon and Washington.

The Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark, publisher of Food Safety News, has filed suit against Del Monte Fresh on behalf of some of those sickened. “I have seen all the documents regarding the outbreak investigation done by the CDC and 10 states, including the traceback records provided by Costco,” attorney Bill Marler said Wednesday. “There is no question that it was Del Monte imported cantaloupe that was responsible for the Salmonella Panama outbreak that sickened 20 last spring.” 

But back in March, Phyllis Entis, food safety microbiologist who tracks recalls and outbreaks on her eFoodAlert website, questioned the timing of the recall, because the cantaloupes were beyond their shelf life. In a post republished on Food Safety News, Entis interviewed Bill Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon’s Division of Public Health, who acknowledged that the “situation presented quite a dilemma,” both to public health officials and to Del Monte. As Entis wrote:

By the time the outbreak was identified and a probable source determined – which happened rather quickly, thanks to the relative rarity of Salmonella Panama and the Oregon illness cluster – the implicated melons had passed their usable shelf life. There was no point in recalling fruit that was no longer edible.

Why, then, did Del Monte recall the cantaloupes that were sold in Costco stores in several states beginning on March 10? According to Keene, it was unclear whether the outbreak was a “one-off” problem relating to a small quantity of melons from one portion of a single field or whether it was a continuing situation. Del Monte Fresh Produce, therefore, decided on the recall.

Entis concluded that Del Monte’s decision to announce a recall was “a reasonable call.”

Keene, reached Wednesday by email, said, “I don’t recall that there was any serious dispute about the source of the outbreak once all the evidence was on the table.” 

Five months later, according to its complaint, Del Monte is arguing that the FDA demanded the company recall its cantaloupes or “suffer the consequences of an FDA consumer advisory questioning the wholesomeness” of its product.

The complaint characterizes FDA’s subsequent action restricting cantaloupe imports from its major source in Guatemala as “unlawful,” and asks the court to prohibit FDA from enforcing the ban.

“The restrictions imposed by the FDA on Del Monte Fresh Produce’s ability to import cantaloupes are unnecessary and not supported by the facts,” vice president of marketing Dennis Christou said in the company’s news release.

In its complaint, Del Monte says its cantaloupes were wrongly blamed for the outbreak. The company gives several reasons for this contention, including:

— FDA and other public health officials concluded that the outbreak illnesses were associated with eating cantaloupes “without ever testing any cantaloupes to determine whether they contained Salmonella.”

— FDA’s conclusion that the suspect cantaloupes were imported by Del Monte from Guatemala was “not rationally supported by the evidence” and “did not take into account evidence that did not support that conclusion.”

—  Results of FDA’s tests of cantaloupes from the Asuncion Mita farm — in January just before reports of illnesses surfaced and in April, after the outbreak was reported — were negative for Salmonella.

—  FDA has “not adequately accounted for evidence indicating that the outbreak wasn’t caused by cantaloupes at all. For example, one of the case patients denied consuming cantaloupe before becoming ill.”

—  FDA has “not adequately accounted for the possibility that any allegedly contaminated cantaloupes came from sources other than Del Monte.”

The complaint says the retailer (Costco) sold cantaloupes from three other suppliers, in addition to Del Monte, but FDA never investigated the other vendors to determine if they were a potential source of Salmonella contamination.

 

Del Monte also alleges that one case patient reported eating cut cantaloupe, which the company says could not have been Del Monte cantaloupe, while another case patient reportedly ate cantaloupe imported from Honduras, not Guatemala.

Finally, Del Monte charges that FDA has “not adequately accounted for the possibility that any alleged contamination of Del Monte cantaloupes occurred after the melons left Del Monte’s custody.” Contamination could have occurred at the retail level, the complaint suggests.

On July 15, FDA imposed an import alert on fresh, frozen and sliced/chopped cantaloupes from the farm and packinghouse in Asuncion Mita, and that ban is what Del Monte seems most concerned about.

According to the comp
any’s complaint, the import
ban cites FDA’s conclusion that the source of the alleged Salmonella contamination was likely sewage-tainted irrigation water, contaminated wash water, worker hygiene issues, animals in the fields and/or unclean processing equipment. But Del Monte disputes this, arguing FDA not only has “no evidence whatsoever” of any of these assertions, but evidence to the contrary, and thus no statutory authority to bar the Asuncion Mita cantaloupes from the U.S.

Del Monte said it responded to FDA’s concerns by hiring third-party experts to evaluate  fields and packinghouse, and that the audit confirmed the Guatemala operations met or exceeded regulatory standards. Additionally, third-party tests of cantaloupe samples from the packinghouse were all negative for Salmonella.

In the company news release, Del Monte’s Christou said, “We require all of our suppliers to comply with all FDA recommended food safety procedures, including the FDA’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, as well as the FDA’s Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures. The farm and packing facility at issue in this case was in full compliance with these food safety procedures.”

Because “significant resources and commitments must be finalized immediately to ensure Guatemalan cantaloupes will be ready for harvest in the near future,” Del Monte asked the court for immediate injunctive relief to reverse FDA’s rule preventing the import of the melons.

  

The family of a 12-year-old Colorado girl has filed suit against Del Monte Fresh Produce, claiming that cantaloupe contaminated with Salmonella caused her to become so ill she required hospitalization.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Adams County District Court on behalf of the child by the Seattle food-safety law firm Marler Clark and Colorado attorneys Montgomery, Little & Soran.

According to the complaint, the girl — identified as S.W. — ate cantaloupe that the family had purchased at Costco in early March.  She became sick with gastroenteritis on March 4, became progressively worse and was hospitalized from March 10 to 14.   S.W. is still recovering, attorney Dave Babcock said.

Results from lab tests showed the girl was infected with Salmonella Panama, a relatively rare strain that health officials said matched an outbreak strain of cases in Oregon, Washington California, and Maryland.  Investigators found almost all of the people sickened had eaten cantaloupes from Costco, which shared sales receipts that helped trace back the suspect melons to a Del Monte grower in Guatemala.  On March 22, Del Monte recalled nearly 5,000 cartons of cantaloupe.

The Thornton, Co. girl was one of at least 13 people to be sickened in the multistate outbreak of  Salmonella Panama linked to cantaloupe . So far, four people in Washington, five in  Oregon, two in California, one in Maryland and S.W. in Colorado have been confirmed to have been infected with the outbreak strain, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Del Monte had a responsibility to provide its customers with safe, healthy, unadulterated cantaloupe,” said attorney Bill Marler. “Kids should not land in the hospital because they choose to eat fruit instead of processed foods.”

Marler noted that Del Monte has initiated two previous recalls due to Salmonella contamination in the past two years.  In late 2009 the California State Department of Public Health warned consumers not to eat Del Monte cantaloupe due to Salmonella contamination and the company pulled 1,120 cartons from grocery stores.  In 2010, Michigan Department of Agriculture testing detected Salmonella on Del Monte cantaloupe, and the company recalled 81 cartons.

By nature cantaloupe is riskier than some other fruits, but with proper safety precautions Salmonella outbreaks are preventable,” added Marler.  “The onus is on businesses like Del Monte who want to sell us fruit and vegetables to make sure those products aren’t harmful to customers.”

Cantaloupes grown in Guatemala have been blamed for a baker’s dozen of Salmonella Panama illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and various state health authorities.

CDC, which released an updated tally Tuesday (March 29th), reports that the 13 outbreak victims fell ill between Feb. 5 and March 4. Three of the 13 infected individuals were hospitalized.

In response to the outbreak, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. recalled cantaloupe melons (packaged three to a bag in mesh bags) that were distributed through warehouse stores in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The recalled melons all came from a single Del Monte Fresh Produce farm – the Asuncion Mita farm in Guatemala – and were sold in Costco stores in those seven states between March 10 and March 21.

Based on information contained in the CDC report and obtained from health officials in the affected states, the 13 confirmed cases of Salmonella Panama infections are located in:

Alaska: No cases of Salmonella Panama have been reported.

California: Two confirmed cases. Based on the retail distribution list posted by the California Department of Public Health, the recalled melons were sold in Costco stores in Northern California.

Colorado: One confirmed case. The victim reported having eaten cantaloupe “from a warehouse store” prior to becoming ill.

Idaho:  No cases have been confirmed. The Central District Health Department is investigating a cluster of approximately 40 people who fell ill after attending a March 12 wedding reception in the Boise area at which cantaloupe from Costco was served. Two of the ill individuals submitted stool samples, which are still undergoing lab tests for Salmonella and Norovirus. Two melons were obtained from Costco for testing, but the store could not confirm whether the melons were from an implicated lot. Neither melon yielded Salmonella.

Maryland: One confirmed case matching the outbreak strain. This victim reported having eaten cantaloupe in the week prior to becoming ill. The cantaloupe WAS NOT purchased at Costco.

Montana: No cases of Salmonella Panama have been reported.

Oregon:  Five confirmed cases, among attendees at a church supper where cantaloupe purchased from Costco was served. An additional three attendees at the supper also were ill, but have not been lab-confirmed. One more person was infected with a very similar (but distinguishable) genetic variant of Salmonella Panama, and also reported having consumed melon from Costco.

Washington:  Four confirmed cases, including one adult (male), and three children (2 boys and one girl). The adult victim is from Whatcom County; the children live in Thurston County (one boy) and King County (one boy and one girl).

According to Bill Keene, Oregon’s No. 1 Disease Detective, Costco receives only about 6 percent of the cantaloupes grown on Del Monte’s Asuncion Mita farm. The rest of the crop is shipped to numerous other wholesalers and retailers – most, but not all, of them in the USA. The farm comprises some 15 cantaloupe fields, which are planted and harvested in series to ensure a continuous supply of melons. The last of the 15 fields to be harvested has been shut down since early March.

I asked Bill Keene about the rationale behind the recall. He said that the situation presented quite a dilemma, both to public health officials and to Del Monte. By the time the outbreak was identified and a probable source determined – which happened rather quickly, thanks to the relative rarity of Salmonella Panama and the Oregon illness cluster – the implicated melons had passed their usable shelf life. There was no point in recalling fruit that was no longer edible.

Why, then, did Del Monte recall the cantaloupes that were sold in Costco stores in several states beginning on March 10? According to Keene, it was unclear whether the outbreak was a “one-off” problem relating to a small quantity of melons from one portion of a single field or whether it was a continuing situation. Del Monte Fresh Produce, therefore, decided on the recall.

And why was the recall limited to cantaloupes shipped to Costco in seven states? Because, except for the Maryland case, all of the illnesses were clustered within that group of states and were linked to cantaloupes purchased from Costco stores. It did not seem logical to recall the entire remaining production from the Asuncion Mita farm for what appeared to be a limited contamination problem.

Was Del Monte’s decision justified? So far, it looks as though the company, in consultation with public health officials, made a reasonable call. While it’s too soon to say for sure, the outbreak appears to have burned out.

Nevertheless, consumers should remain wary of cantaloupes. Avoid purchasing or consuming melons with bruised or broken skin. Wash the cantaloupes before cutting them open, and store cut cantaloupe in the refrigerator to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.

Finally, if you think that you have become ill after eating cantaloupe – or any other food – seek medical advice and cooperate with your public health authorities. This includes providing stool or any other clinical samples on request. “It is the only way,” says Tom Shanahan of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, ” to confirm a link.”

_____________________

Republished with permission from Phyllis Entis, whose eFoodAlert provides food safety information to readers in more than 190 countries.

In  a year when everything from alfalfa sprouts to chicken soup, and from eggs to black pepper and a lot more were recalled for Salmonella contamination, there is still time to add cantaloupes to the list.

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. Thursday said it was recalling certain cantaloupes grown and shipped from Arizona for distribution in the Detroit area. 

In a statement, Del Monte Fresh said the recalled cantaloupes “have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.”

The bad cants were discovered through random testing by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.  No illnesses have yet been associated with the recall.

An estimated 81 cartons of cantaloupes, each containing 15 cantaloupes per carton, were distributed beginning Oct. 11 to wholesalers in Detroit who in turn sold them to other wholesalers and/or to retail and foodservice outlets.

The cantaloupes have a light brown color skin on the exterior; with orange flesh.  Each cantaloupe has a Del Monte® sticker with the words “Cantaloupe USA”. 

The cantaloupes were distributed for sale in bulk cardboard cartons.  The recalled cartons of cantaloupes are dark brown cardboard with the “Del Monte” logo in red lettering and “cantaloupes” in yellow lettering on a green background. 

The cantaloupes have the lot codes W-11-147-43-size 15 or W-11-14-19 size 15.

Consumers who believe they are in possession of uneaten cantaloupe affected by this recall may contact Del Monte Fresh at any time by calling 1-800-659-6500 or email Del Monte Fresh at Contact-US-Executive-Office@freshdelmonte.com.

Salmonella can cause a variety of symptoms, including fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, and vomiting and abdominal pain. 

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in more severe illnesses and potentially can be fatal if untreated.

Twelve institutions have formed a center of excellence to focus on food safety risk assessment and authenticity.

The consortium is led by the University of Donja Gorica in Montenegro and includes the University of Padova, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

The Centre of Excellence for digitalization of microbial food safety risk assessment and quality parameters for accurate food authenticity certification (FoodHub) will be funded by the Ministry of Science in Montenegro until the end of 2022.

Its goal is to offer help with food safety risk elimination and hazard identification, digitalized risk assessment tools, reliable certification and tracing of food authenticity and ready to use applications for the food production industry.

Develop sector in the country
FoodHub will develop software with integrated data management, data linkage and interactive food chain analyses to support analysis of cross-contamination, geographical relations, clustering and tracing.

Partners will try to improve quality and safety of food production by defining standards, ranging from protection of place of origin to quality parameters and protocols. Modern technologies will be applied to adjust traditional processes to new trends while keeping product authenticity and traditional features. The hope is to stimulate development of the food sector in Montenegro.

The consortium will address the lack of expertise and training in areas such as bioinformatics, molecular biology and genomics in Montenegro and strengthen the food science sector. Training programs focusing on young researchers to bring missing expertise to Montenegro are also planned. FoodHub has the mission to enhance existing strengths of Montenegrin production and help develop sustainable food production to be in line with EU policy developments.

Other partners are the University of Novi Sad and Biosense, both in Serbia, the Institute for Public Health in Montenegro; the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Affairs; the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro; Fleka, a design agency in Montenegro; Jul Plantaze, a grape, wine and brandy producer and Seljak LLC.

Meanwhile, researchers at the BfR in Germany have developed a new open data format that can help risks of disease from microbial pathogens in food be predicted quicker.

The Food Safety Knowledge Markup Language (FSK-ML) format allows uniform documentation of mathematical models and model-based simulation results. Mathematical models can play a role in the health risk assessment of pathogens in food.

The FSK-ML information exchange format was extended and tested by the BfR in the AGINFRA+ project from 2017 to 2019. With FSK-ML, models developed in different programming languages can be exchanged in a harmonized format. They can be made available to other researchers for computer-based forecasts or further optimization of models. Previously developed predictive models can be calculated with different simulation scenarios and adapted to fit the issue.

Using wastewater to irrigate fruits and vegetables 
Earlier this year, the BfR, the Julius Kühn Institute and the Max Rubner Institute looked at the occurrence of certain bacterial pathogens in treated wastewater and on fruit and vegetables. An increase is expected in plants for raw consumption being irrigated with treated wastewater.

The risk of the general population being infected by Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) or Listeria monocytogenes after eating fresh fruits or vegetables is low but could increase if plants for production of fruit or vegetables are irrigated with treated wastewater and later consumed raw, according to scientists.

The three institutes analyzed previous publications and their own research results to conclude the presence of the three pathogens is possible in treated wastewater and the higher the level of fecal indicator bacteria the greater the probability.

Probability of transfer of pathogenic bacteria directly from treated wastewater, or indirectly via the irrigated soil to fruits and vegetables intended for raw consumption, depends on factors such as environmental conditions, the properties and amounts of bacteria in the irrigation water and soil, nature of the soil, type of plant, and competing microorganisms in the soil and on plants. Irrigation methods on how the treated wastewater is distributed during plant cultivation also have an impact.

The institutes recommended only using irrigation water of drinking quality for hydroponic crops of plants for raw consumption and limits on the use of treated wastewater judged as quality categories B or C. They also advised consumers to wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly with drinking water before consumption. Vegetables that grow close to the ground could be peeled or blanched.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Although the supplier was not named by the government, it appears that another product made with french toast produced at a Pinnacle Foods Inc. plant have sparked another recall because of Listeria monocytogenes.

recalled kabobs french toast sandwichesKabob’s Acquisition Inc., of Lake City, GA, is recalling almost 6,000 pounds of “Kabobs Monte Cristo Turkey Breast, Ham And Cheese Sandwich” bulk cases because the french toast could be contaminated with the deadly pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.

Pinnacle Foods Inc. recalled numerous frozen breakfast produces under the Aunt Jemima and Hungry Man labels in recent days because testing showed Listeria monocytogenes in its Jackson, TN, production plant.

The recalled Kabob’s turkey and ham products listed in a recall notice on the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service website reports the sandwiches “included a non-meat ingredient that was recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes.” The products were produced from May 1, 2014, through Feb. 1 this year.

To identify whether products are included in this recall, check for the following label information — 13.25-lb. bulk cases containing 200 “Kabobs Monte Cristo Turkey Breast, Ham And Cheese Sandwich” in shrink wrapped plastic trays and bearing case codes: PM14E27, PM14H14, PM14J10, PM14E01, PM14E12, PM14E13, PM15C26, PM15E06, PM15G23, PM14L18, PM15A08, PM15C26, PM15K20, PM16B08, PM16B09, PM16F22, PM16F24, and PM17B01.

“The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-6640” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to institutional locations in Georgia and South Carolina,” according to the recall notice.

“The problem was discovered when Kabob’s Acquisition, Inc., was notified by their french toast ingredient supplier, that the french toast used in the sandwich products was recalled due to potential Lm contamination. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.”

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.

People who have eaten the recalled products but are not sick should monitor themselves for symptoms of Listeria infection for the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days for symptoms to develop following exposure.

Listeria monocytogenes is a microscopic organism that 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

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections can occur in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

A woman in Ventura County, CA, is suing the delicatessen where she says she contracted a severe Salmonella infection last summer as part of an outbreak that sickened at least 21 people. The woman, Stephanie Wehr, ate at Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, in early August and began coming down with symptoms of illness the next day at work. What followed was several days of abdominal pain, uncontrollable diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. After several trips to receive medical attention, she was admitted to the hospital three days after eating at the deli, ultimately staying there for five days. More than three weeks before Wehr ate at the deli, on July 9, officials from the county health department discovered a Salmonella outbreak potentially linked to the deli and performed an on-site inspection. They found “major” violations related to unsanitary equipment, inadequate employee hand-washing, and improper cooling procedures for potentially hazardous foods. A follow-up inspection on July 22 found that some violations persisted, including foods not being properly stored at sufficiently cool temperatures. Wehr is being represented by Quirk Law Firm of Ventura and Seattle-based food-safety law firm Marler Clark (which underwrites Food Safety News). In January, the outbreak was revealed publicly for the first time when attorney Bill Marler shared information about it in a blog post after being retained by Wehr. Including Wehr, eight people were hospitalized in the outbreak. Among the 21 sickened, two were employees of the restaurant.

An outbreak of Salmonella linked to Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, sickened 21 people this past summer, but it was never announced to the public, according to documents obtained in a lawsuit by food safety law firm Marler Clark. Public health officials in California first caught on to the outbreak in July 2014, when they found seven patients infected with Salmonella Montevideo who had all eaten at Brent’s Deli just before falling ill. Ultimately, they discovered 21 patients, including two employees, with one of two strains of Salmonella Montevideo. Eight patients were hospitalized. Illnesses developed between April 30 and Aug. 15, 2014. Public health officials never announced the outbreak to the public. Its first mention came Wednesday on the blog of food safety lawyer Bill Marler, whose Seattle law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News. According to Marler, he received the documents after being retained by a California-based lawyer and his client, a patient sickened in the outbreak. As of press time, the California Department of Public Health has not made an official response regarding why the outbreak was not publicly reported. After discovering the outbreak, the Ventura County Environmental Health Division conducted two inspections at the restaurant, both times finding a number of “major” violations related to unsanitary equipment, inadequate employee hand-washing, and improper cooling procedures for potentially hazardous foods. After two additional inspections in late July and August, officials found violations related to improper hot-holding and thawing. On Aug. 12, the restaurant closed for thorough cleaning while inspectors tested employees, food, and environmental samples from the restaurant for the outbreak strain. While none of the food or environmental samples tested positive for Salmonella, two employees did. Officials found no violations at the restaurant during a subsequent inspection on Sept. 12, and the outbreak was considered over in October after no new illnesses had appeared since August.

Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) will replace Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture budgets.

DeLauro, a longtime advocate for a stronger FDA and federal food safety system, chaired the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, but announced late last week that she will instead serve as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

Farr has strong ties to agriculture, especially the produce industry, which is a major economic force in his district. Farr is also knowledgeable about food safety issues. He has served on the Appropriations Committee since 1999.  

“The Central Coast is home to one of the most rich and diverse agriculture regions in the nation,” said Rep. Farr in a recent statement. “This unique opportunity allows me to help steer the course of Agriculture policy in our country, and gives me the right tools to support our local farms and famers.”

Leading produce groups are pleased that Farr will set the Democratic agenda for Ag Appropriations.

“This is great news,” said Grower-Shippper Association of Central California President and General Counsel Jim Bogart. “Sam Farr has been a strong support of agriculture in general, and a champion of Central Coast agriculture in particular. We look forward to continuing our collaborative and effective working relationship with Congressman Farr in 2011 and the years to come. I couldn’t be happier.”

California is the nation’s largest agriculture production state. According to Farr’s office, the Central Coast counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz produce approximately $4.5 billion in agricultural goods each year and Monterey County alone produces more than 85 crops with a value of $3.8 billion.

“As a veteran lawmaker from a California County that is the third largest agricultural producer in the state, Congressman Farr has in-depth knowledge of the diverse needs of agriculture,” said Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Eric Lauritzen. “Having Congressman Farr in this vitally important position in the U.S. Congress places him at the epicenter of critical deliberations on funding issues that will directly impact the next farm bill, food safety implementation and nutrition programs.”

DeLauro issued a statement saying she was proud of her record leading the Ag Appropriations Subcommittee, but is looking forward to leading the Minority agenda on a committee that deals with the “highest moral obligation” of government.

“I have been proud to serve on the Agriculture and FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, and am very proud of what we were able to accomplish,” said DeLauro. “We provided the necessary resources to better protect our food supply, as well as improve the safety of drugs and devices. We improved access to fundamental nutrition programs that combat hunger. And, we provided critical investments to help facilitate growth in rural America.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health officials in many states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella serotype Montevideo infections.

Daniele, Inc. announced today that the company is initiating a voluntary recall of its Pepper-Coated Salame products because of possible concerns about Salmonella contamination.  Preliminary results indicate that eleven ill individuals consumed salame products from “Daniele Italian Brand Gourmet Pack” before becoming ill with Salmonella. 

State and federal health officials have been unable to confirm a direct link between the illnesses and any Daniele product, but the investigation is ongoing.  Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.

salmonella outbreak feature.jpgAs of 12:00 pm EST on January 22, 2010, a total of 184 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Montevideo were reported from 38 states to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between July 1, 2009 and Jan. 10, 2010. 

The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is as follows:  AL (2), AZ (5), CA (30), CO (2), CT (4), DE (2), FL (2), GA (3), IA (1),  IL (11), IN (3), KS (3), LA (1), MA (12), MD (1), ME (1), MI (1), MN (4), NC (9), ND (1), NE (1), NH (1), NJ (7), NY (15), OH (9), OK (1), OR (8), PA (3),  RI (2), SC (1), SD (3), TN (3), TX (7), UT (7), VA (1), WA (14), WV (1), and WY (2).

Because this is a commonly occurring strain, public health investigators may determine that some of the illnesses are not part of this outbreak.

Among the persons with reported dates available, illnesses began between July 2, 2009 and January 1, 2010.  Infected individuals range in age from less than one year old to 88 years old; the median age is 37 years. 

Fifty-two percent of patients are male.  Among the 125 patients with available information, 35 (28%) were hospitalized.

No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC.

Please see the CDC’s Salmonella Outbreak Investigations: Timeline for Reporting Cases for more details.

Anyone having any of the following products should return the product for a full refund at the point of purchase.
 

  • Daniele All Natural Salame (Coated with Coarse Black Pepper) (10 oz)
  • Daniele Brand Gourmet Pack (Emballage Assorti Gourmet Italian)  (500g)
  • Daniele Deli Selection (20 oz)
  • Daniele Deli Selection (32 oz)
  • Daniele Gourmet Combo Pack (16 oz)
  • Daniele Gourmet Deli Selection (Assortment De Fines Charcuterie Italienne)  (400g)
  • Daniele Gourmet Italian Deli Selection (600g)
  • Daniele Italian Brand Gourmet Pack (16 oz)
  • Daniele Italian Brand Gourmet Pack (8 oz)
  • Daniele Natural Salame Coated with Coarse Black Pepper (catch weight)
  • Daniele Pepper Salame  (catch weight)
  • Daniele Salame Bites Pepper Salame (7 oz)
  • Daniele Surtido Fino Italiano (340g)
  • Daniele Surtido Fino Italiano (454g)
  • Dietz & Watson Artisan Collection Baby Genoa Pepper Salame (catch weight)
  • Dietz and Watson Artisan Collection Party Platter Pack (8 oz)
  • Boar’s Head All Natural Salame (Coated with Coarse Black Pepper) (8 oz)
  • Black Bear Baby Genoa Pepper Salame (9 oz)

These products are carried at a wide variety of delicatessens and grocers. Consumers or food distributors with any questions are asked to call (888-345-4160).

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts from 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.

When severe infection occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.