New Safety Standards Aim To Make Chicken Safer

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ChickenChicken breasts, wings and legs, a staple of American diets, could become safer to eat thanks to new standards proposed by the Agriculture Department that aim to reduce rates of salmonella and campylobacter contamination.

According to an Associated Press news report, the standards would not be mandatory, but voluntary.

Officials say these standards are designed to put pressure on companies to take the necessary steps to reduce contamination and incidents of food poisoning and major outbreaks.

Reduction of Salmonella Rates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the proposed standards could reduce food-borne illnesses caused by raw poultry by about a quarter or 50,000 illnesses a year. Among the measures companies could take to reduce the rates of salmonella and campylobacter are better screening of flocks and better sanitation.

The proposal would ask poultry producers to reduce the rates of salmonella in raw chicken parts from about 24 percent now to less than 16 percent, and campylobacter rates in raw chicken parts from an estimated 22 percent to 8 percent. Salmonella rates would also be reduced in ground chicken and turkey.

Foster Farms Outbreak

These standards come after a lengthy outbreak of salmonella illnesses linked to California chicken company Foster Farms, which sickened more than 600 people between March 2013 and July 2014.

In 2013, USDA inspectors at Foster Farms facilities had documented fecal material on carcasses along with poor sanitation.

Federal food safety officials said the Foster Farms salmonella Heidelberg outbreak spurred these proposed regulations. That outbreak that lasted over 16 months, sickened 634 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico.

In that outbreak, scientists identified seven strains of the bacteria including some that were resistant to antibiotics used to treat humans for illnesses other than salmonella.

Safety Measures Should Be Mandatory

As California personal injury lawyers who represent victims of food poisoning, we sincerely believe that these proposed regulations should be mandatory for all producers and processors of poultry in the United States.

Salmonella and campylobacter illnesses can result in serious and violent illnesses causing victims to be hospitalized. Some severe illnesses could even result in fatalities.

Around 1 million Americans get sick from salmonella each year and almost 20 percent of those illnesses are linked to poultry.

It’s not sufficient for the government to encourage food producers to take these safety measures. They must become enforceable laws.

California Apples Linked To Deadly Listeria Outbreak

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Apple RecallA Bakersfield, California, apple-packing plant has recalled all of its Granny Smith and Gala apple shipments from 2014 after they have been linked to an outbreak of listeria in caramel apples that may have caused up to five deaths.

According to an Associated Press news report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bidart Brothers of Bakersfield is recalling apples shipped from its Shafter packing facility last year spurred by a federal investigation of 32 listeria illnesses across 11 states including the five deaths.

Bidart supplied apples for two commercial caramel apple brands that were linked to the food poisoning incidents.

Several Brands Affected

Health officials cautioned consumers last month to avoid prepackaged caramel apples after they were linked to the illnesses. Caramel apples are most popular around Halloween and this outbreak started just before then.

However, the commercially produced apples have a longer shelf life and officials fear they may still remain on store shelves or in people’s homes.

On December 22, Bidart Brothers issued a recall only to customers who produce caramel apples.

The following day, food safety officials inspected the facility, finding listeria present on surfaces likely to come into contact with the apples.

FDA has said some of the recalled apples may be sold under the names and brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best” although they could be sold under other brand names or without any brand name.

It would be a good idea for consumers who have recently bought Granny Smith or Gala apples to ask retailers if Bidart supplied them.

So far, several other caramel apple brands such as Happy Apple, Kroger, California Snack Foods and Merb’s Candies, have also issued recalls.

Liability Issues

Listeria is a foodborne illness that can especially harm pregnant women, newborn babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. As we saw in this particular outbreak, listeria infections can be deadly.

Food producers have a legal obligation to keep their manufacturing and processing facilities clean and without contamination. Equipment and locations that come into contact with the food must be kept sanitized at all times.

If you have suffered from food poisoning, you may be able to seek compensation for the responsible parties such as a food manufacturer, producer, distributor, retailer or eatery that served the contaminated food.

Food poisoning victims would be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury attorney who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.

Prepackaged Caramel Apples Cause Deadly Listeria Outbreak

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Listeria Caramel ApplesHealth officials are warning consumers this holiday season to avoid pre-packaged caramel apples after they have been linked to five deaths and two dozen illnesses in 10 states including California.

According to an NBC Los Angeles the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened with listeria bacteria of which 26 were hospitalized.

Five of those who were hospitalized died. CDC said listeriosis contributed to four of the five deaths.

The agency said 83 percent of those sickened reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before falling ill. Three meningitis cases linked to the listeria were also reported in children.

However, the three children were not among the fatalities.

The illnesses were reported between October 17 and November 27. CDC officials said they are still trying to determine the specific brands there were involved in this food poisoning outbreak.

The illnesses occurred in 10 states including Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Danger of Listeria

In 2012, 831 food poisoning outbreaks were reported to CDC. In 2012, there were four confirmed outbreaks and one suspected outbreak of listeriosis in the United States.

The largest listeriosis outbreak in U.S. history occurred in 2011, when 147 illnesses, 33 deaths, and one miscarriage occurred among residents of 28 states.

That outbreak was associated with consumption of cantaloupe from a single farm.

A person who has been infected with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Pregnant women typically experience symptoms such as fatigue and aches. Infections during pregnancy could lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

Symptoms for those who are not pregnant could include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches.

Actions You Can Take

If you have any of these caramel apples at home, please do not consume them. Discard them right away in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trashcan.

If you have eaten them and are experiencing symptoms, please isolate the food for testing in a laboratory.

Wash areas where the cheese was stored in the fridge with hot water and soap. Wash cutting boards, surfaces or utensils that came into contact with the food.

If you developed a fever after eating these or other contaminated products, seek medical care right away.

Report your illness to the local health agency.

Contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases and can help protect your rights.

Ground Beef Products Recalled For Possible E. Coli Contamination

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Ground Beef RecallRanchers Legacy Meat Company is recalling 1,200 pounds of ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, according to an alert issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Officials say the products included in the recall are packaged in plastic sealed packets and were produced on November 19, 2014.

These products were shipped nationwide to retailers. USDA officials discovered the contamination during a routine inspection.

So far, there have been no reports of illnesses associated with these products.

Coli Symptoms

Coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps two to eight days after exposure to the organism.

While a number of people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This can occur in all age groups, but is most common in children under 5 and older adults.

Symptoms of HUS include easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output.

Each year, about 48 million Americans, roughly one in six people in the United States, suffer from food-borne illnesses such as norovirus, E. coli, salmonella and listeria, to mention a few.

Eating or drinking a contaminated food or beverage can cause a foodborne illness. A foodborne disease outbreak occurs when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink.

Preventing E. coli Infections

There are several steps you can take to prevent E. coli infections:

  • Cook meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F (70?C). Use a thermometer to verify the temperature. The color of the meat is not a reliable indicator of how thoroughly it has been cooked.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
  • Practice proper hygiene, especially good hand washing.
  • Prevent cross-contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.

If you have suffered food poisoning, please isolate the food that made you sick so that it can be tested for pathogens. Get medical attention immediately and report your illness to a local health care agency.

Contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases to better understand your legal rights and options.

E. Coli-Tainted Celery Linked To California Farm

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Ecoli Celery OutbreakAn outbreak of E. coli in Minnesota has been linked to celery grown in Gonzales, California.

According to a news report in The Californian, 57 people were sickened and nine were hospitalized as a result of this outbreak. The victims were members of a band of the Lake Superior Chippewa called Fond du Lac.

All victims had consumed potato salad that included celery and onions tainted with E. coli bacteria. Cases were also identified at event where the potato salad was not served but celery was.

The celery has been tracked to a field near a defunct dairy operation near Gonzales.

The caterer common to all five Fond du Lac events between July 1 and July 17 on the reservation was Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering that had purchased the celery from Upper Lakes Foods Inc.

The celery was tracked back to Matignoni Ranch Block 5c outside Gonzales.

Potential Litigation

The food poisoning victims have said they will file a lawsuit against the caterer, but not the grower because there is insufficient evidence. Soil samples from the farm where the celery was grown did not show the presence of the pathogen. However, attorneys for the plaintiffs have said that may change as discovery proceeds and if new evidence comes up.

An investigation also showed that the tainted celery sickened people in Wisconsin, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The Minnesota Department of Health has concluded that the contaminated celery is the “most likely vehicle of transmission.

Although the source of the contamination has not identified, it is still plausible that the celery may have been contaminated during production, officials said.

Compensation for Victims

E.coli infections can have devastating consequences. The most common symptoms are nausea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting. In severe cases, E.coli infections could also result in kidney damage.

Victims of food poisoning can seek compensation for damages against the food producer, server, or anyone else involved in the manufacturing process whose negligence may have caused the contamination.

Some of the damages victims can seek in such cases include medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization costs, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Victims would be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases.

The best personal injury law firms like Bisnar Chase will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.

Foster Farms Chicken Recalled For Listeria Contamination

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Foster Farms Listeria RecallFoster Farms has recalled nearly 40,000 pounds of frozen, pre-cooked chicken for potential listeria contamination.

According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the recall is for Chicken Breast Grilled Strops sold in 3.5-pound resealable bags, produced in the company’s Louisiana plant and shipped to retailers in California, Texas, Utah and Washington.

The affected product bears the processing plant number, P33901 and a “best by” date of Aug. 5, 2015. Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture say the problem was discovered during the company’s routine in-plant inspection.

While some of the product was set aside and held, the products included in the recall were inadvertently shipped to the retailers. So far, no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products has been reported.

This recall comes only two months after a salmonella outbreak linked to Central California-based Foster Farms was declared over.

Listeria Dangers

Listeria infection or listeriosis can prove lethal. Listeria primarily affects the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms of listeria food poisoning include fever, muscle pain, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and other gastrointestinal problems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths occur due to listeriosis annually in the United States. The largest listeriosis outbreak in U.S. history occurred in 2011, when 147 illnesses, 33 deaths, and one miscarriage occurred among residents of 28 states. The outbreak was associated with consumption of cantaloupe from a single farm.

If You Have Been Affected

If you have suffered any type of food poisoning, it is important that you get prompt medical attention. Chart your intake and make a note of everything you consumed over the last three or four days. When you see your doctor, insist on doing diagnostic tests for food-borne illnesses, especially if you suspect it. Keep a journal and document all your losses. File a complaint with the local health agency.

Contact an experienced California personal injury attorney who will ensure that their your legal rights and best interests are protected. Food manufacturers and establishments such as restaurants can be held accountable for negligent food processing or serving.

Victims can seek damages for losses such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. The best personal injury law firms like Bisnar Chase will always offer free consultations and comprehensive case evaluations to injured victims and their families.

Chicken Caesar Salad Kits Recalled For Listeria Contamination

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ChickenAPPA Fine Foods, a Corona-based company, is recalling about 92,657 pounds of fully-cooked chicken Caesar salad kit products due to concerns about possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

According to a consumer alert issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the salad kits were shipped nationwide to Sam’s Club stores nationwide. So far, there have been two confirmed listeriosis cases as a result of these recalled products.

Tests by Sam’s Club showed that the bacterial contamination was in the chicken in the salad kits. Anyone who has purchased these salad kits is asked to return them to the store for a complete refund.

Listeria Dangers

Eating food contaminated with listeria can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, their newborns and those with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.

In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection in the newborn. In addition, these infections could prove fatal for older adults or those with weakened immune systems.

Preventing Listeriosis

There are several steps you can take to prevent listeriosis:

  • Rinse raw produce such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting or cooking. Produce should be washed even if it will be peeled.
  • Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash hands, countertops, knives and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Listeria bacteria can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer such as a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature in your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature.

 If You Have Suffered Food Poisoning

If you have become ill as a result of eating contaminated food, it is important that you isolate the food and store it separately so it can be tested for pathogens in a lab. It is also important that you get prompt medical treatment for the infection. Food manufacturers are required to produce foods that are safe for consumers.

If you have suffered health consequences as a result of contaminated, please contact an experienced California personal injury attorney at (800) 561-4887 who has successfully handled similar cases to ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected.

Peanut & Almond Butter Products Recalled For Salmonella Contamination

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RecallsA unit of Hain Celestial Group Inc. is recalling some peanut and almond butter products because of possible salmonella contamination.

According to a news report in The Associated Press, so far, there have been reports of four illnesses that may be related to the nut butters that were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills peanut butters and MaraNatha almond and peanut butters.

Also being recalled were some lots of private label almond butter from grocers Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Safeway. In California Kroger owns Ralphs stores and Safeway owns the Vons chain.

Approximately 45 production lots have been affected. The products have been sold in the United States as well as the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. The contamination surfaced after routine testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA officials have said they do not know how many jars of nut butters were recalled.

Salmonella Dangers

There have been a number of salmonella outbreaks in the United States recently including infected peanut butter that made more than 700 people ill in 2008 and 2009. We’ve also seen reports of Foster Farms chicken that has been linked to salmonella infections that have sickened more than 500 people nationwide.

The most common symptoms of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms typically surface within one to three days of exposure and may last about a week. The risk of infection is particularly high for young children, the elderly and those with compromised or weakened immune systems.

Steps Food Poisoning Victims Can Take

If you have suffered food poisoning, make sure you get prompt medical attention. Demand that diagnostic tests be conducted to determine what type of pathogen caused your illness. Isolate and preserve the food that made you sick in a baggy so it can be examined and analyzed in a laboratory. Keep track of all your expenses and losses.

Injured victims of food poisoning can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, diagnostic tests, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Victims would also be well advised to contact an attorney who has experience handling food poisoning cases. The best personal injury law firms will always offer free consultations and case evaluations to victims and their families.

Orange County Company Recalls Food Due To Botulism Fears

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Food Product RecallA San Clemente-based company is recalling several products due to food poisoning concerns.

According to a news report in The Orange County Register, California Department of Public Health officials released a consumer alert for possible contamination of San Clemente-based VR Green Farms products after determining that two botulism infection cases may be tied to the company’s pine nut basil pesto.

The VR Green Farms products affected by the recall include pine nut basil pesto, pickled farm mix, Old World tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, Tuscan grilling sauce and pasta sauce.

The products are packaged in mason-style glass jars and are sold at VR Green Farm stands in San Clemente and online. Consumers who have these products at home are asked to dispose them right away. Health officials also caution that consumers should use gloves when handling the products and that they should be discarded in double-bagged trash cans.

Those handling this contaminated food are also advised to wash their hands with soap and water after discarding the products. If you have been affected, please contact the state Health Department at 800-495-3232.

What is Botulism?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin.

In the United States, an average of 145 botulism cases are reported each year out of which about 15 percent are foodborne. Common symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, droopy eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

Protecting Your Rights

If you have suffered health consequences as a result of botulism or any other type of food poisoning, please remember that you have rights.

Affected victims can file a personal injury claim against the food manufacturer of damages including medical expenses, lost wages, diagnostic costs, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

If you have consumed contaminated food, please preserve the food and isolate it so it can be tested in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. File a report with your local health agency and contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.

Listeria Death in California Leads to Cheese Recall

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Roos Foods has recalled 16 varieties of cheese after some of its brands were linked to food poisoning cases including one death in California. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the cheeses said to be contaminated with listeria bacteria were produced by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware, and are linked to a listeria outbreak. The recalled products include the company’s Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima, Suyapa, La Chapina and La Purisima Crema Nica brands.

Officials say there was one death linked to the listeria outbreak in California and seven illnesses in Maryland. Five of the illnesses, including two mother-newborn pairs and a newborn, were related to pregnancy. Also seven of the eight patients were hospitalized and all illnesses were reported between Aug. 1 and Nov. 27. The products were distributed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A full list of brand names and varieties can be found on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. More

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