Nearly 200 sick in UK E. coli O157 outbreak

Public health officials in the United Kingdom are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 that has sickened almost 200 people in a month.

Since early September, 192 genetically linked cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 have been identified in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The majority of people sick are adults but there have been no deaths linked to the incident.

No source for the rise in infections has yet been identified but patients are being interviewed to help find the vehicle of infection.

There have also been no cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) reported. HUS is a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections that can result in lifelong, serious health problems and death.

Dr. Lesley Larkin, head of surveillance, gastrointestinal infections and food safety at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said a rise in E. coli cases notified to public … Read more

Study finds link between belief in food safety myths and illness

Believing in certain food safety myths may increase the risk of illness, according to a study.

Researchers looked at how misinformed unscientific beliefs and the consequences of lacking science-based food safety knowledge could impact health.

Many people in the UK, Germany, and Norway believe in food safety myths but views vary by country. Believing in some of these myths puts people at higher risk of contracting a foodborne illness, found the study published in Food Control.

After collecting more than 150 food safety myths across Europe from partners of the SafeConsume project, 47 were included in a survey.

Vegetarians don’t get food poisoning?
Researchers conducted a web-based survey with more than 3,000 consumers from the UK, Germany and Norway to investigate what myths people believe to be true, and if this influenced gastroenteritis incidence and prevalence. People were asked if they disagreed or agreed with the statements.

Results show that … Read more

FDA leader updates infant formula status

By Robert Califf, FDA Commissioner

For the past several months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been working around the clock with our U.S. government partners, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to expand consumer access to infant formula products, while also ensuring that these products meet the agency’s safety, nutrition and quality standards. This has been no small undertaking. Years of consolidation in the infant formula industry and concerning food safety processes and general procedures at some of the facilities producing these products have resulted in a fragile supply chain that is susceptible to production disruptions when quality issues are identified. 

Earlier this year I asked Dr. Steven Solomon, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine, to conduct a top-down review of agency activities and decision-making related to the shutdown of Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, infant formula facility in February … Read more

Senate committee sets nomination hearing for top food safety official

A committee in the U.S. Senate has finally set a nomination hearing to consider Jose Emilio Esteban for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top food safety job.

Nominated on Nov. 12, 2021, by President Joe Biden, Esteban is scheduled to go before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on Sept. 22. The committee has not offered any reason why the nomination hearing has been delayed so long, except for a comment from Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI. At one point she said there was paperwork needed from the White House.

Also set to testify before the Ag Committee are Alexis Taylor, the long-awaited nominee for undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs at USDA, and Vincent Garfield Logan who is nominated to serve on the Farm Credit Administration’s board.

One nominee not scheduled for a confirmation hearing before the committee is Stacy Dean, who is nominated to be the … Read more

Faces of Food Safety: Meet Michaell Myrie of FSIS

Visual Information Specialist Micheall Myrie has worked for FSIS for over seven years, primarily supporting the graphic design needs of the Office of Employee Experience and Development (OEED). “As a skilled visual communicator, I support my team members with concepts and ideas to help transform the way FSIS trains and develops employees,” said Myrie. Much of his work involves developing training for inspectors, where he uses his visual design expertise to incorporate interactive video, touch screens and question and answer capabilities into the training sessions.

Using Technology to Improve FSIS Training
Several years ago, inspection training consisted mostly of binders filled with pages of photocopied documents. In 2018, OEED began transforming training for FSIS inspectors by incorporating visuals. The process started after laptops were distributed to the districts so all FSIS employees would have access to the tools they needed for training.

At FSIS, Myrie uses all his skills as … Read more