6 dead, 99 suspected sick from E. coli O157 in pickled cabbage in Japan

Four people, including a 4-year-old girl, have been confirmed dead of food poisoning from pickled Chinese cabbage produced by a Sapporo food company.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports another two are suspected to have died due to the cabbage.

According to the city health care center, four people have died of poisoning caused by E. coli O157 after eating pickled Chinese cabbage produced in late July by Iwai Shokuhin. Three of the four victims were women in their 80s and 100s living in elderly care facilities in the city.

Mass food poisoning occurred at elderly care facilities in and around the city, with 99 patients likely connected to the suspect cabbage.

Four-year-old girl Ayana Matsumura of Sapporo suffered symptoms from Aug. 6 and died last Saturday.

The O157 strain discovered in her body was found to be the same strain detected in the cabbage. According to information relayed to the city by her family, she is very likely to have eaten cabbage bought at a supermarket near her house.

The food firm’s president, Norio Iwai, expressed deep regret. “I feel deeply about (the incident) and will do my best to help investigations. I can only say I’m truly sorry,” he said.

FDA: 141 sick, 2 dead in 20 states from Salmonella in cantaloupe

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections.

A total of 141 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 20 states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (7), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Iowa (7), Kentucky (50), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Missouri (9), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (2).

Thirty-one persons have been hospitalized, and two deaths have been reported in Kentucky.

In the course of their investigation, state officials in Kentucky and Indiana found evidence that they believe indicate cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana may be a source of the ongoing Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. FDA officials are actively investigating potential sources of the outbreak, and will continue to update the public as more specific information becomes available.

2 dead, 50 ill in Kentucky with Salmonella from Indiana cantaloupes; multi-state outbreak unfolding

A strain of salmonella associated with two deaths and 50 illnesses in Kentucky since early July has been found in cantaloupes tested by the state, public health officials said Friday.

Acting Public Health Commissioner Steve Davis issued a statement Friday advising Kentuckians to avoid eating cantaloupes that were grown in southwestern Indiana.

“In addition, health care providers are encouraged to be mindful of patients who may have symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and report all cases to the local health department,” Davis said.

Illnesses have occurred statewide and many counties have people who have been sickened, including some in Central and Eastern Kentucky, said Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Cases are most concentrated around Owensboro and in far Western Kentucky, where both deaths occurred, Fisher said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collaborating with public health officials in affected states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the ongoing outbreak, including tracing the source of the affected melons and shipments of melons that may have been contaminated.

A table of cantaloupe-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/cantaloupe-related-outbreaks.

3 dead, 51 sick; Clostridium perfringens illness at a state psychiatric hospital — Louisiana, 2010

On May 7, 2010, 42 residents and 12 staff members at a Louisiana state psychiatric hospital experienced vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Within 24 hours, three patients had died. The three fatalities occurred among patients aged 41–61 years who were receiving medications that had anti–intestinal motility side effects. For two of three decedents, the cause of death found on postmortem examination was necrotizing colitis. Investigation by the Louisiana Office of Public Health (OPH) and CDC found that eating chicken served at dinner on May 6 wasassociated with illness. The chicken was cooked approximately 24 hours before serving and not cooled in accordance with hospital guidelines. C. perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) was detected in 20 of 23 stool specimens from ill residents and staff members. Genetic testing of C. perfringens toxins isolated from chicken and stool specimens was carried out to determine which of the two strains responsible for C. perfringens foodborne illness was present. The specimens tested negative for the beta-toxin gene, excluding C. perfringens type C as the etiologic agent and implicating C. perfringens type A. This outbreak underscores the need for strict food preparation guidelines at psychiatric inpatient facilities and the potential risk for adverse outcomes among any patients with impaired intestinal motility caused by medications, disease, and extremes of age when exposed to C. perfringens enterotoxin.

Clostridium perfringens, the third most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., most often causes a self-limited, diarrheal disease lasting 12–24 hours. Fatalities are very rare, occurring in <0.03% of cases. Death usually is caused by dehydration and occurs among the very young, the very old, and persons debilitated by illness.

The full report is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control athttp://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6132a1.htm?s_cid=mm6132a1_x.

Training proposed for workers at restaurants that violate food-safety regulations in Ottawa

Food handlers should receive training if their restaurants and businesses repeatedly violate food-safety regulations, says a proposal to go to Ottawa’s board of health.

Except there’s little to no evidence that training works to improve food safety behavior (some call it culture) and little evidence about what makes training effective.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that restaurants and other food premises that have more than four repeat critical infractions over a 12-month period would have to participate in training, according to the proposal from public health staff.

The targeted training would supplement punishment applied to places that break the rules, which can range from fines to closures. (The city also posts the results of inspections on its website, meaning restaurants that violate regulations face the threat of lost business.)

The public health unit currently offers voluntary courses and certification in food-handler training. Staff looked into the possibility of mandatory training for all food handlers, but found it wouldn’t be a worthwhile use of resources.

It’s difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of mandatory certification from other Ontario health units, the report states, and making such requirements mandatory is unwarranted for low-risk establishments such as variety stores.

The board of health is to discuss the proposal on Monday.

Inspection results can be found at ottawa.ca/restaurantinspections.

I’m all for providing compelling information so there’s fewer sick people from food. But the days of plopping butts in a classroom are long gone. We’ll have much more to say about the effectiveness of food service training in the near future.

40 sickened; Folklorama, site of 2010 E. coli outbreak, sued

One of the individuals hospitalized following an E. coli outbreak at Folklorama two years ago is suing the organization and the Russian Pavilion.

Trudy Andrew, 52, of Oakbank, is seeking damages for lost wages and pain and suffering she endured after eating contaminated food at the Russian Pavilion.

“If I hadn’t gone to the hospital when I did, I wouldn’t have made it,” Andrew told theWinnipeg Free Press. “I ended up seriously ill and in hospital.”

Andrew is suing Folklorama Inc., the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg Inc., the umbrella organization that oversees the popular two-week Folklorama festival and the Russian Pavilion, which health authorities identified as the source of the outbreak.

There were 40 reported cases of E. coli between Aug. 9 and Aug. 30, 2010; 34 of those cases were individuals who ate at the pavilion, and three others were children at a daycare who were infected by a person who visited the pavilion and spread the germ.

Seventeen people went to emergency and five individuals were hospitalized, including a two-year-old boy who suffered acute renal failure and was put on dialysis in pediatric intensive care.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority concluded a locally made juice, known as kompot, was the source of the outbreak, speculating the juice had somehow come into contact with contaminated ground beef.

Health inspectors had found deficiencies in the pavilion’s kitchen on Aug. 1, the first day the venue opened, including improperly stored raw hamburger meat and a fridge with an operating temperature that was deemed too high.

Sofia Barklon, co-ordinator of the Russian Pavilion, maintains the pavilion was not the source of the outbreak — the position it took two years ago, despite the findings of the WRHA.

Debra Zoerb, executive director of Folklorama, said she would not comment on the legal action but said it was the only one stemming from the E. Coli outbreak two years ago.

Sushi Land closed after signs of foodborne illness reported

The Bella Bottega Sushi Land in Washington State, part of a chain of restaurants that serve sushi on conveyor belts in Oregon and Washington, was closed Thursday and it was apparently worse than the malfunctioning refrigerator, as originally reported.

Katie Ross, a spokesperson from the King County Department of Health told the Redmond Patch theinvestigation into the conveyor-belt style sushi restaurant was prompted by complaints of foodborne illness that were reported by parties not affiliated with Sushi Land.

“As a result our environmental health divison did an investigation…and the refrigerator was not the only issue,” Ross said. For example, she said, an employee was observed not washing his hands properly.