Are foodborne-illness outbreaks getting worse, or is detection getting better?
From lettuce to cookies, avocados to cheesecake, the last few years have seen a number of high-profile food recalls. According to the CDC, an estimated 48 million Americans get sick each year from foodborne illnesses. But the question of whether such outbreaks are getting worse is complicated, due to a combination of improved detection technology, a looser approach to regulation, and growing consolidation in the food industry, as Leah Douglas reports in FERN's latest story, published as part of Time magazine's special issue on the Science of Nutrition.(No paywall)
Researchers confirm that E. coli can lurk in raw flour
A well-known cause of food-borne illness is the E. coli bacteria, usually associated with moist foods, such as meat or bagged salad leaves. In solving a food illness mystery of 2016, researchers determined that Shiga-producing E. coil bacteria can survive in raw flour, an arid host, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
New EU data on antibiotics contain warning for U.S.
New data on antibiotic resistance in agriculture, released Friday by agencies of the European Union, demonstrate how complicated it is to control all the uses of antibiotics on farms and to prevent all the side effects of antibiotic use.
Bacterial strain found in U.S. that resists two last-ditch antibiotics
A patient treated at a New Jersey hospital carried a strain of E. coli bacteria that is resistant to colistin and carbapenem, two antibiotics that are administered as last-resort drugs against disease and infection. It was the first time that a resistance to two last-ditch antibiotics was found in the United States, and the detection "means there's likely more out there," says medical news site Stat.
New illnesses prompt General Mills to expand flour recall for fourth time
For the fourth time since May 31, General Mills expanded its recall of flour because of illnesses linked to handling or eating uncooked flour dough and batter. The company said E. coli bacteria, which can cause food-borne illness, "has been detected in a small number of ... flour samples and some have been linked to new patient illnesses that fall outside of the previously recalled dates."
Pre-washed bagged salad mix as safe as whole heads
Pre-washed, packaged leafy greens have gotten a bad wrap due to E.coli and Listeria outbreaks that have sickened and even killed people, but studies say the bagged stuff is just as safe and healthy as whole lettuce heads, says NPR. “Detectable contamination in both whole head lettuce and mixed …
Dozens sickened by eating raw dough, FDA says
Dozens of people across the country have become ill by eating raw dough contaminated with a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, the FDA said. The doughs had been made with General Mills flour produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, facility.
More room needed between field and feedlot, says study
A two-year study in Nebraska indicates that current guidelines on separation between cattle feedlots and fields growing fresh produce are likely to be inadequate, says Food Safety News.
Food-borne illness hits one in 10 people worldwide
Children and people in low-income areas are hit the hardest by food-borne diseases, which strike as many as 600 million people annually, or one in 10 of the global population, said the World Health Organization in its most comprehensive tally yet.
FDA sets food safety rules for produce farms
Fruit and vegetable growers will have as long as six years to comply with a landmark FDA rule that, for the first time, sets food safety standards for produce farms.
E coli outbreak prompts Chipotle to close 43 restaurants
State health officials report at least 22 people became ill and eight were hospitalized by an outbreak of foodborne illness linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington State, said the FDA. The majority of the cases were in Washington.
Removing ground cover fails to reduce food pathogens
After an E. coli outbreak in bagged spinach in 2006, growers in California's Central Coast were pressured to remove vegetation that bordered their fields as a way to keep out wildlife and prevent food contamination by pathogens.
Researchers create “genetic firewall,” could be used in GMOs
Two teams of scientists achieved a milestone - creation of bacteria that cannot survive without a specific artificial chemical, says Reuters, "potentially overcoming a major obstacle to wider use of genetically modified organisms."