Saturday 18 November 2017

FDA Listeria Report Expected to Point to Machinery Inside Jensen Buildings

The Denver Post is reporting that the FDA’s key listeria-outbreak report today will zero in on equipment and conditions inside buildings at Jensen Farms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, raised the death toll from the Colorado cantaloupe illnesses to 25 nationwide, up from 23 last week. The CDC said it has matched 123 cases of patients with the listeria strains isolated at Jensen Farms in southeastern Colorado. Six of the dead are from Colorado, the federal agency said.

Federal and state investigators methodically tested Jensen fields, irrigation systems, packing buildings and other areas after the grower was identified as the sole source of the listeria. The FDA had announced previously that some of its sampling found DNA matches of listeria on packing equipment in a Jensen building.

If the contamination was on equipment that many of the cantaloupes passed through, that would explain the widespread scope of the outbreak. Listeria is present on many farms in soil and in animal feces or fertilizer, and can be tracked or transported into buildings by any number of sources.

The FDA report is expected to include guidelines for the cantaloupe industry to prevent another outbreak. This may include steps like using a clean-room for employees passing from the field into the processing plant and increased screening of machinery for pathogens. This post will be updated once the report is issued.

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2 comments

  • Andy Moreno | October 20, 2011 at 9:19 am | Reply

    Marc,
    Food safety managers should incorporate testing into their entire production matrix.
    The screening of the irrigation water, the pre-harvest product, the post-harvest product, the product wash water, and the finished product will provide a complete analysis of potential bacterial challenges to human consumers.
    Traditionally, only a total coliform screen of irrigation water will be the primary level of testing in food production with some environmental swab screening.
    With the advent of the Food Safety Modernization Act, a complete panel of testing would be suggested to avert future human pathogen outbreaks and recalls.
    The panel should screen for total bateria, E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria species. If any of these pathogens are detected, then further screening should alert production management to either ship to market or restrict from the market their products.
    Thank you very much,

    Andy Moreno
    Microbiological Engineering
    AME
    Cell: 559-827-8245
    andy.moreno@ame-qpcr.com
    http://ame-qpcr.com
    Linkedin: Andy Moreno
    Founder: Food Pathogen Outbreak/Recall Response Group
    Skype: andyzmoreno

    • Marc Sanchez | October 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Reply

      Andy,

      I agree. Screening along with other Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points policies in place can help identify and remove harmful pathogens before widespread contamination. FSMA will no doubt change what is required of food producers, but I suspect it will take several Warning Letters before the message gets out.

      Best,

      Marc

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