USA – ConAgra Agrees to Pay $11.2 Million for Salmonella Outbreak

Food Safety News

Omaha-based ConAgra Foods Inc. has reached a plea agreement with U.S. attorneys that will see its ConAgra Grocery Products Company plead guilty to a single misdemeanor violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

If accepted by the U.S. District Court in Albany, GA, the plea agreement will end the government’s investigation into the 2006-07 Salmonella Tennessee outbreak that was blamed on ConAgra’s Peter Pan peanut butter produced in Sylvester, GA.

Peter Pan peanut butter was recalled as the outbreak strain eventually spread to 44 states, infecting at least 700 people and sending about 20 percent of them to hospitals. The outbreak did not result in any deaths.

Italy – Homemade Cheese – 18 Month Old Baby Hospitalised – Listeria monocytogenes

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An 18 month old baby in Vigevano, Italy has contracted Listeriosis after being fed home made cheese made from unpasteurised milk.

RASFF Alerts – Salmonella – Raw Milk Camembert – Forzen Maize Poussins – Chicken – Paprika

Food Testing - Eurofins

RASFF-Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) in raw milk camembert from France in France

RASFF-Salmonella enteritidis (present /25g) in frozen maize poussins from France in Denmark

RASFF-Salmonella spp. (present /25g) in frozen salted chicken breasts from Thailand in Ireland

RASFF-Salmonella Munchen (presence /25g) in smoked paprika powder from Spain in the UK

RASFF Alerts – Aflatoxins – Peanuts – Pistachios – Groundnut Kernals

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RASFF-aflatoxins (B1 = 17.1; Tot. = 21.5 µg/kg – ppb) in peanuts with shell from China in the UK

RASFF-aflatoxins (Tot. = 33.8 µg/kg – ppb) in raw pistachios from the United States in Italy

RASFF-aflatoxins (B1 = 30; Tot. = 35 / B1 = 55; Tot. = 64 µg/kg – ppb) in groundnut kernels from India in France

RASFF Alerts – Listeria monocytogenes – Cooked Shrimps – Cows Milk Cheese – Pasteurised Cheese

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RASFF-Listeria monocytogenes (<10 CFU/g) in cooked shrimps from Spain in France

RASFF-Listeria monocytogenes (1300 CFU/g) in cow’s milk cheese from France in France

RASFF-Listeria monocytogenes (110 CFU/g) in raw cow’s milk cheese from France in France

RASFF-Listeria monocytogenes (<10 CFU/g) in pasteurized cheese from Italy in France

RASFF Alerts – Animal Feed -Soya Meal – Horse Meal

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RASFF -Salmonella infantis (presence /50g) in soya meal from Brazil, via Slovenia in Croatia

RASFF-Salmonella anatum (presence /25g), Salmonella Rissen (presence /25g), Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) and Salmonella typhimurium (presence /25g) and too high count of Enterobacteriaceae (390; 600; 1400; 300 CFU/g) in horse meal from Italy in Belgium

Research – Phage Spread Antibiotic Resistance

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Investigators found that nearly half of  the 50 chicken meat samples purchased from supermarkets, street markets, and butchers in Austria contained viruses that are capable of transferring antibiotic resistance genes from one bacterium to another—or from one species to another. “Our work suggests that such transfer could spread antibiotic resistance in environments such as food production units and hospitals and clinics,” said corresponding author Friederike Hilbert, DVM. The research is published ahead of print May 1, in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

This was the first demonstration that a high proportion of phage randomly isolated from meat were able to transfer antimicrobial resistance among different bacteria, said Hilbert, who is a professor at the Institute for Meat Hygiene, Meat Technology and Food Science, at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria. Phage are viruses that infect bacteria.

“One quarter of all phages isolated were able to transduce [transfer] one or more of the five antimicrobial resistances under study,” said Hilbert. These included resistances to tetracycline, ampicillin, kanamycin, and chloramphenicol, as well as resistance to extended spectrum betalactam antibiotics. The results suggest that the number of phages that can transduce antibiotic resistance genes must be far higher, since the experiments were restricted to resistance to only five antibiotics via five randomly chosen phages per sample of chicken, said Hilbert.

“Strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance have enjoyed only limited success, and there are still many questions relating to how and when resistance transfer occurs,” Hilbert writes. “The presence of phages that transfer antimicrobial resistance could explain the failures to combat antimicrobial resistance.”

Until recently, transduction of antibiotic resistance via phage was assumed to be a very minor source of the spread of resistance, said Hilbert. “New information from the sequencing of bacterial DNA has shown that transduction must be a driving force in bacterial evolution, and thus, quite common.”

In the study, the investigators rinsed the chicken they had purchased, and then isolated coliphage, using the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) method for isolating such viruses from water, said Hilbert.

Unlike bacteria, which are true living creatures, viruses, including phages, can be thought of more as complex molecular machinery. As such, the latter are much more resistant to disinfectants, including those used in the food industry. Alcohol, in particular, is harmless to most viruses. “It is thus highly likely that phages survive under routine conditions of disinfection, not only in the food industry,” Hilbert writes.

The research, Hilbert concludes, demonstrates that transduction is an efficient way to transfer antimicrobial resistance to E. coli in different environments. That, she says, needs to be addressed for concerns related to hygiene, sanitation, and public health.

The full study is available at http://aem.asm.org/content/early/2015/04/27/AEM.00872-15.full.pdf+html?ijkey=jc9f/z0mCNXHc&keytype=ref&siteid=asmjournals.