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article imageRecall of 90 tons of chicken salad for E. coli contamination

By Karen Graham     Nov 11, 2013 in Health
The "Grab-and-Go" option of getting a quick meal to eat on-the-go has become a way of life in our hectic world. With the option of picking up just about anything that catches the eye, it's a good way to pick up something you may not want to bring home.
Glass Onion Catering of Richmond, California announced they are recalling over 180,000 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully-cooked chicken and ham that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The products in question were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, 2013 and shipped to retail distribution centers. The first group of E. coli illnesses sprang up on Oct. 29, 2013. The FDA was then notified and began working with the CDC and state health agencies in California and Washington state to pin down the source.
E. coli magnified 10 000 times using an electron microscope.
E. coli magnified 10,000 times using an electron microscope.
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E. coli can be a deadly bacteria, causing dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramping anywhere from two to eight days after eating contaminated products. It is most often seen in children under the age of five years and in older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Anyone wanting further information on this recall can go to: www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.
The products have been shipped to Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington, and so far, 26 people have come down with the same E. coli infection. The company supplies mid-sized grocery store chains, such as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Walgreen's, as well as other stores that feature "grab-and'go" products.
The FDA notes that it is unusual for chicken to be contaminated with E. coli. Salmonella is usually the culprit seen in poultry. The latest outbreak involving chicken being recalled because of Salmonella occurred in early October when Foster Farms chicken products from three processing plants in California were recalled.
At least 362 people came down with drug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections from ingesting the contaminated chicken products. And this outbreak of Salmonella is not the last or will it be the end of a long line of "flaws" in the USDA's attempts to control contaminated food products being shipped to unwary consumers.
Salmonella and USDA regulations
Did you know that the USDA does not consider Salmonella to be an adulterant? An adulterant is a substance found within other substances. It is not an additive. Bill Marler, a renowned food-safety attorney in Seattle says, "You knowingly can ship Salmonella-contaminated meat out the door," and the government can't and won't do anything about it."
In contrast, USDA-regulated products contaminated with E. coli 0157: H7, for instance, cannot be sold to consumers, according to Marler.
Bill Marler pointed out on Oct. 24, 2013 that," "Right now Foster Farms has been pumping out antibiotic-resistant Salmonella chicken for a year. You are looking at an outbreak that sickened some 10,000 to 12,000 people and that's just not acceptable.
The question that should be on everyone's minds is, "Why is the USDA not regulating products contaminated with Salmonella? This should be especially important, particularly because of the drug-resistance of the bacteria.
Safe handling procedures for the consumer
Short of refusing to buy ready-to-eat chicken products, what else should a consumer do to protect their family? As always, when handling raw chicken products, cleanliness is of the utmost importance. This means washing any utensils, cutting boards and your hands thoroughly with hot soapy water and using a disinfectant on any surfaces.
Temperature is also very important. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually, all meats should be cooked to the proper internal temperature for the kind of meat you are cooking. Wash all fresh produce before putting it in your mouth. This is for the safety of you and your family.
More about Chicken, Recall, USDA, California, E coli
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