The San Joaquin County Public Health Services has seen an increase in the number of cases of Shigella in the county this year. So far, 66 people have come down with the bacteria-caused disease. Historically, the county only sees about 10 case of the disease per year.

Shigellosis is a highly infectious disease that causes stomach cramping, mild or severe diarrhea and fever. Symptoms often occur within a week after exposure, but usually within three days and usually lasts four to seven days.

The disease is the result of a bacteria that passes from improperly washed hands of one person to the mouth of another person, often through handling contaminated objects or food. The disease is especially easily passed among childcare professionals and food preparers.

Nancy Luna reports with the Orange county Register that an upscale restaurant at Fashion Island that bills itself as a healthy living establishment is at the center of a suspected foodborne illness outbreak involving at least six victims, county officials said Thursday.

The sickened diners tested positive for shigella, an intestinal bacteria that triggers severe diarrhea. The “common factor” for each victim was they ate a meal at True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach on Aug. 21, 23, 24 and 25, county healthy officials said.

The county shut the restaurant Aug. 28 to investigate the outbreak. None of the victims ate the same dish, leading investigators to believe that the bacteria was spread “person to person,” said Denise Fennessy, director of Environmental Health at the county’s Health Care Agency.

University Park, Pa. — A research article published in the February issue of the Journal of Food Protection presents disturbing findings to consumers, according to a food-safety expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

shigella1.jpeg.jpgIn the study, a survey of food-service workers found that about 12 percent said they had come to work while sick, suffering from symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting. “This is alarming because these people potentially could have spread disease to the people who consume the foods their establishments were serving,” said Martin Bucknavage, extension food-safety specialist. “Foodborne pathogens such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Shigella often are spread by sick workers to restaurant patrons through the food.”

In one flagrant example cited by Bucknavage, in July of 2009, a worker continued to work at an Illinois fast-food restaurant after she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis A. In the week that she worked, she potentially had exposed up to 10,000 people to the virus. “Even though many of these patrons immediately went to get vaccinated when the news story was released, 20 patrons who were not vaccinated became ill with that virus,” he said.

One reason people still go to work while ill, Bucknavage contended, is that many workers and their managers don’t fully understand the implications of foodborne illness, either on their patrons or on the business where they work.

“When an employee calls in sick and the restaurant is really busy, it is often the case that the employee is told to come to work anyway,” he said. “Another reason is that these are hard economic times, and with so many people working paycheck to paycheck, it is difficult financially for those people to stay home from work.

“They need the money, so they go into work and try to hide the fact that they are ill. I also think that many look at working while sick as a badge of courage. They have this need to ‘tough it out.’ But in reality, these folks may be doing far more harm than good.”

When someone has the symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting or jaundice, they should stay away from the workplace, according to Bucknavage. And if they have a sore throat and fever, they should be restricted from preparing and serving food.

“Retail and food-service establishments must make sure employees know that they should not be working with food when they’re ill,” he said. “At the very least, they should contact their managers and inform them of their illnesses.”

Managers should include this as part of employee training, both when employees are new and then regularly after that as a reminder, Bucknavage noted. Managers also should be observant of their employees, being on the lookout for any of these symptoms. If illness is suspected, the employee should be sent home immediately.

After that, it is important to follow-up with the sick employee, and if it is indeed a foodborne pathogen, the manager will need to contact the local health department.

His recommendations are not just for food-service or retail food establishments, Bucknavage stressed, but also are important for those who prepare food for their families and those who work in child care or elder-care facilities. “Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to foodborne illness, so we need to take extra precautions when working with these groups,” he said.

1.  CDC – Frequently asked questions list about shigella and shigellosis.
www.cdc.gov/node.do/id/0900f3ec8000755c

2.  FDA/CFSAN – Bad Bug Book – Shigella spp.  Includes cause, associated foods, complications, and outbreaks.
www.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/chap19.html

3.  OSU – Shigella is a germ (one of the bacteria) that causes an infectious disease. This disease can be treated and most people get better quickly. Severe.
www.ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5563.html

4. Wikipedia – The causative agent of human shigellosis, Shigella also cause disease in other … Shigella infection is typically via ingestion (fecal–oral contamination).
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shigella

5. UTMB – Medical and scientific information about the bacteria and the disease it causes.
www.gsbs.utmb.edu/microbook/ch022.htm

6.  About-Shigella – Shigella Bacteria Outbreaks, News, Resources and Legal Information.  Shigella bacteria information and news about foodborne illness outbreaks related to Shigella bacterium.
www.about-shigella.com

7.  Kids Health – Shigella is a type of bacteria that infects the intestinal tract and can cause mild to severe diarrhea.
www.kidshealth.org/parent/infections/stomach/shigella.html

8.  WHO – Shigella – Although several organisms can cause dysentery, Shigella are the most important. Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (Sd1), also known as the Shiga bacillus.
www.who.int/topics/shigella/en

9.  Nebraska HHS System: Shigella Epidemiology Fact Sheet
Symptoms appear within 12 to 96 hours (usually 1-3 days) after exposure to Shigella, or within one week for S. dysenteriae.
www.hhs.state.ne.us/epi/epishig.htm

Photograph Copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

Marler Clark, Food Poisoning Lawyers

Marler Clark is the nation’s foremost law firm with a practice dedicated to representing victims of food poisoning.

Since 1993, Marler Clark’s lawyers have represented thousands of clients in litigation against restaurants and food companies whose food was traced as the source of illness. The Marler Clark food poisoning lawyers have brought claims on behalf of individuals sickened as part of outbreaks – cases involving multiple people sickened by a common source – and individuals whose illnesses were considered “isolated,” yet could be traced to a particular food source.

Report a Food Illness

www.rusick2.msu.edu

This project is being conducted by researchers and epidemiologists at the National Food Safety & Toxicology Center at Michigan State University. The Developmental Steering Committee had scientists from the Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Department of Agriculture, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Mid-Michigan District Health Department, Barry-Eaton District Health Department, and the Ingham County Health Department.

Since the rate of reporting foodborne illnesses is very low (about 1% – 2%), we are striving to increase the reporting of foodborne disease. This website helps visitors to recall their food exposures and allows them to organize information regarding their foodborne illness. It also gives assistance on how to contact their local health departments. By reporting foodborne illnesses to local health departments, we hope to prevent others from becoming sick from eating the same food items.

www.badfood.org

This site provides reporting and record keeping processes for incidences of food borne illnesses and unsanitary conditions. When you add a record to our system it is used primarily to gather statistical information. For cases of food borne illnesses you can at your option forward the information to the local health agency where the illness occurred. At your option, you can file a fully anonymous report. Unsanitary condition submissions provide information on specific trends and the system tracks this information for patterns that may identify a serious problem.

Support Groups

S.T.O.P – Safe Tables Our Priority

S.T.O.P. — Safe Tables Our Priority is a non-profit grassroots organization devoted to victim assistance, public education, and policy advocacy for safe food and public health. The organization was founded in 1993 by family and friends of people who became ill or died from exposure to E. coli 0157:H7 and other pathogenic bacteria in meat and poultry. S.T.O.P.’s mission is to prevent unnecessary illness and loss of life from foodborne contamination. This is an excellent informational site, but also a critical resource for people whose lives have been affected by these deadly bacteria.

E. Coli Help Organization – Eric’s ECHO

This website was created by a father, Rainer Mueller, in honor and remembrance of his son, Eric Mueller, who died after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. In addition to be a valuable source of information about these deadly bacteria, this site is also a heartbreaking reminder of tragic human-costs inflicted by foodborne pathogens. This site is also particularly well-designed, and contains much helpful and needed information about food safety and foodborne illnesses.

Medical Services

The Medical Reporter

In our travels on the Web, we have had an opportunity to look at a LOT of sites about medical care and health, and this is one of the best. The Medical Reporter is an independent, educational, non-profit health magazine for enlightened healthcare consumers. Published solely in cyberspace since April of 1995, The Medical Reporter emphasizes preventive medicine, primary care, patient advocacy, education and support of interest to men and women alike. Please check it out and tell us what you think.

Centers for Disease Control (or, CDC) homepage

The CDC is at the heart of the government’s fight against foodborne illness outbreak. When an outbreak occurs, the CDC will inevitably be part of the resulting investigation into the cause of the outbreak. This website contains a lot of useful information, both general and technical. You can also find the online version of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review (or, MMWR), which is the government’s primary publication for disseminating information about communicable disease statistics and other epidemiological research.

INSTITUTE OF FOOD TECHNOLOGISTS

The Institute of Food Technologists (or, IFT) was founded in 1939, and is a nonprofit scientific society with 28,000 members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia and government. On several occasions, the attorneys at Marler Clark have been asked to give presentations at an IFT national or regional convention. THE IFT IS AN EXCELLENT ORGANIZATIION, AND WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS WEBSITE AS AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF RELIABLE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INFORMATION.

National Institutes of Health Main Homepage

The National Institutes of Health web site is huge, with links to countless other sites, all having to do with (you guessed it) HEALTH. In particular, the sections having to do with HEALTH INFORMATION and SCIENTIFIC RESOURCES are both impressively vast, and typically quite helpful. You can do no-cost Medline searches here as well, and link to on-line catalogs, journals, and learn about ongoing research projects. You could spend hours surfing this site, and learn tons.

Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need to Know

Part of a website designed to provide health and safety information for HIV-positive individuals, and persons living with AIDS, this web-page provide simple, yet important, information about foodborne illnesses and how best to avoid them.

National Center for Food Safety and Technology

The NCFST is a consortium organized to address the complex issues raised by emerging food technologies. It includes academia, industry, and the government to combine resources and encourage cooperative efforts to ensure the continued food safety and quality of the nation’s food supply. This is not necessarily the prettiest site around, but it contains a good amount of helpful information, especially about available educational programs.

Educational

The Food Safety Network

The Food Safety Network (FSN), housed at the University of Guelph, provides research, commentary, policy evaluation and public information on food safety issues, from farm-to-fork. In addition to four daily list serves, FSN offers consumer, student and industry outreach services, information research, on-line resources, collaborative projects, evaluation and analysis, and a capacity to address current and emerging food safety concerns.

Food Safety for Consumers – Washington State University

Food Safety Cooperative Extension Service – Washington State University

Washington State University now has two food safety information resources relating to Food Safety for Consumers and a web site for their Food Safety Cooperative Extension Service.

The Penn State Food Safety Web Site
Food Safety throughout the Food System

The Penn State Department of Food Science has recently created a new information resource for extension educators, the food industry, and consumers interested in the safety of our food supply. The Penn State Food Safety Web Site combines a user-friendly environment with a farm-to-fork approach for quick retrieval of food safety information pertaining to the entire food system. Unique to this site are two databases with over 1300 links to online food safety resources.

Ask a Food Safety Expert

Web site designed to answer common food safety questions with more than 600 frequently asked questions and answers. More than 100 food safety experts available to provide peer-reviewed answers to consumer and foodservice food safety questions.

Food Safety Information from Iowa State University Extension

Iowa State University Extension believes that resources are needed for consumers, educators and students to access research-based, unbiased information on food safety and quality. The goal of the Food Safety Project is to develop educational materials that give the public the tools they need to minimize their risk of foodborne illness.

HACCP Information Center

Collection of HACCP information for meat processors, juice processors, foodservice operations, and on-farm operations. Compiled from current research conducted at Iowa State University.

Home Food Safety

This web site covers food safety issues that arise during normal preparation of meals in the home. It is aimed at consumers but makes a great training tool for educators and health care providers as well!

Kids World – Food Safety Page

A beautifully animated site that is full of helpful food safety information for children. We especially like the food safety coloring book and the quiz, both designed for school-age children. Along with the FIGHT BAC! program, this site is an excellent resource for families who are trying to educate their young children about food safety.

The FOODSAFE Program homepage

Sponsored by the University of California, at Davis, this website provides an incredible amount of useful information about food safety issues. Two things make this site stand out: (1) a huge food safety database with powerful search capabilities, and (2) the most extensive links page we’ve yet managed to find. We use this website all the time at Marler Clark.

International Food Information Council Homepage

The International Food Information Council (or, IFIC) provides reliable scientific information on food safety and nutrition to journalists, health professionals, educators, government officials and consumers. Because this website is updated regularly, the information it provides is always quite current.

Bugs in the News!

Both lighthearted and informative, this is a great site to learn all about “bugs” of all kinds — and we don’t mean flies, and spiders, and bees! Don’t be fooled, however; this site contains load information — science, even! The creator of this web-site is John C. (Jack) Brown, Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas. While you are there, be sure to check out the GREAT article “What the Heck is E. coli??????”

Food Science Links Page

Sponsored by the University of Kentucky, Lexington, this is arguably one of the most comprehensive lists of WWW links we’ve yet found. Divided into easy-to-use sections, e.g., Law, Microbiology, and HACCP, you should be able to find out everything you need to know by beginning your internet journey here.

Salmonella & Egg Safety

Sponsored by the American Egg Board, this website offers excellent information on the safe use of eggs and egg-products. As might be expected, however, the information slightly downplays the risks associated with Salmonella and the use and consumption of eggs. We would suggest that you also read about salmonella in the “Bad Bug” book. REMEMBER: YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT FOOD SAFETY.

The Food Safety Consortium

This consortium combines the collective talents of researchers from the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University, and Kansas State University. The Consortium was established by Congress in 1988, and was charged to conduct extensive research in all areas of poultry, beef, and pork meat production, from the farm to the table. Most of the information contained at this site is scientific and technical — but it is important information, and worth the time it takes to understand and appreciate it.

The National Safe Kids Campaign (Safe Kids)

The National Safe Kids Campaign operates with the beliefs that there is no such thing as an “accident”, and that ALL unintentional injuries of children are preventable. Their website offers many practical and useful tips on preventing even the most common childhood injuries.

FOODNET

Sponsored by the Food Institute of Canada, this web-site provides a wealth of information on the food industry, while also offering a global perspective. The Food Safety resource page is quite good, as is the site’s section on laws and regulations.

IFSE’s Food Safety Information and Links Page

This site, which is sponsored by Texas A&M’s Institute of Food Science and Engineering, collects a large number of articles and informational sites on food safety, in all its forms, including topics related to E. coli 0157:H7.

Northern Virginia Alliance for Safe Food

The Northern Virginia Alliance for Safe Food is a working partnership between several public agencies charged with the oversight of food safety and the private food industry. The site is nicely colorful and easy to navigate. It also includes some excellent resources for educating young children about food safety issues like hand washing.

Kid Source Online

This well-designed web site is a great source for in depth and timely education and healthcare information. Easy to navigate, and with a broad range of topics covered, we think this site is a good first-stop on the internet for any parent looking for answers. This site also has excellent search capabilities and an extensive list of resources on a wide range of topics.

Government

The “Bad Bug” Book

This online handbook provides basic facts about foodborne pathogens, and brings together in one place information from the FDA, CDC, National Institutes of Health, and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. IT IS AN EXCELLENT RESOURCE THAT WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

U.S.D.A. Economic Research Service

The Economic Research Service (or “ERS”), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides economic analysis on issues related to agriculture, food, and the environment. Not all of its research reports are available (in full-text versions) on-line, but the reports are easy to order, and definitely worth reading. Of particular interest is the ERS research on the medical and productivity costs of foodborne illness in the United States. So, next time your hungry for some numbers, this is an excellent place to look for some.

USDA Foodborne Illness Education Information Center

The USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Information Center provides information about foodborne illness prevention to education, trainers, and organizations. Here you can find the Educational Materials Database, which includes everything from posters, games, computer software, and teaching guides for elementary and secondary schools, as well as training materials for managers and employees of the food industry.

The Gateway to Government Food Safety Information

This is a gateway website that provides links to selected government food safety-related information. Not every government website is listed, but it is still an excellent place to begin your research for more general information.

Government Accountability Project

This excellent site is for the rabble-rouser in all of us, providing an internet resource for information about whistle blowing, government wrongdoing, and official misconduct of all kinds. Be sure to check out the excellent section on food safety, which features an expose’ of the substandard food that sometimes makes its way into the National School Lunch Program. Do you REALLY know what your kids are eating at school?

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (or, FSIS) is the public health agency that is responsible for ensuring (or trying to ensure) that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled. Not without its critics, this website is still a helpful resource for finding out more about the regulations that govern food inspection.

USDA Food Safety Index

This is a list of websites that the USDA selected as being of interest to persons in the food safety field. It has been our experience that this page is not routinely updated, so several links no longer work. Still, if you are looking for food safety information on a particular topic, this is a good place to start.

FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

This government website is primarily devoted to the information available from the FDA, including press releases, proposed changes in food safety regulations, and other more technical information about the FDA’s regulatory activities. It provides helpful information about how to contact several of the FDA’s agencies, how to propose regulations, and how to make Freedom of Information Act requests.

Non-Profit

S.T.O.P – Safe Tables Our Priority

S.T.O.P. — Safe Tables Our Priority is a non-profit grassroots organization devoted to victim assistance, public education, and policy advocacy for safe food and public health. The organization was founded in 1993 by family and friends of people who became ill or died from exposure to E. coli 0157:H7 and other pathogenic bacteria in meat and poultry. S.T.O.P.’s mission is to prevent unnecessary illness and loss of life from foodborne contamination. This is an excellent informational site, but also a critical resource for people whose lives have been affected by these deadly bacteria.

E. Coli Help Organization – Eric’s ECHO

This website was created by a father, Rainer Mueller, in honor and remembrance of his son, Eric Mueller, who died after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. In addition to be a valuable source of information about these deadly bacteria, this site is also a heartbreaking reminder of tragic human-costs inflicted by foodborne pathogens. This site is also particularly well-designed, and contains much helpful and needed information about food safety and foodborne illnesses.

INSTITUTE OF FOOD TECHNOLOGISTS

The Institute of Food Technologists (or, IFT) was founded in 1939, and is a nonprofit scientific society with 28,000 members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia and government. On several occasions, the attorneys at Marler Clark have been asked to give presentations at an IFT national or regional convention. THE IFT IS AN EXCELLENT ORGANIZATIION, AND WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS WEBSITE AS AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF RELIABLE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INFORMATION.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (or, CSPI) is a nonprofit education and advocacy organization that focuses on improving the safety and nutritional quality of our food supply and on reducing the damaging health affects associated with the abuse of alcoholic beverages. CSPI promotes health through educating the public about nutrition and alcohol; it represents citizensí interests before legislative, regulatory, and judicial bodies; and it works to ensure that advances in science are used for the publicís good. This site is an excellent clearinghouse for up-to-date information on food regulations; it is also a good way to participate in grass-root lobbying efforts.

Institutional

Food-Safety-News.com

Is a monthly online newsletter produced by food-safety.com.au for the retail food industry: e.g. restaurants, fast food outlets, hotels, motels, cafeterias, etc. Their newsletter focuses on a wide range of issues such as food safety plans, food poisoning, food safety, contamination, and customer service improvements. Advice of each issue is sent via E-mail to registered users.

The Food Research Institute

The Food Research Institute (or, FRI) is based at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and is both an independent research institute and an academic department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Usually on the cutting-edge of food safety research, the FRI is a top-notch resource for obtaining the most recent scientific information about food microbiology and toxicology. The attorneys at Marler Clark regularly retain the experts here at the FRI for help in ongoing foodborne illness litigation.

National Food Processors Association homepage

The National Food Processors Association (or, NFPA) is the principal scientific and technical trade association for the food industry. While we normally advise people to be cautious when relying on information provided by trade associations, we have found that the NFPA remains an excellent source of information on food safety issues of all kind, both scientific and regulatory. The Marler Clark attorneys gave a presentation at last year’s NFPA national convention in Chicago, Illinois, and came away quite impressed with the organization, and its commitment to food safety. We recommend this site without reservation.

Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management homepage

This excellent website is packed with food safety information and research, with a particular focus on the retail food industry. There is also lots of information about food safety at home. Created by Dr. Pete Snyder, one of the country’s leading and most outspoken food safety advocates, this website is a treasure trove of useful and important information.

The Inspector.Com

Sponsored by the Midwest Council of Food Inspection Locals, a labor union that represents meat, poultry & egg inspectors, this site is informative, eye-opening, and unabashedly opinionated. With a perspective developed on the front-lines of the food safety war, this site does not pull many punches. For example, if you want to be shocked (and maybe even appalled), check out the article entitled “Edible S**t” THIS IS A GREAT SITE!

American Meat Institute homepage

The American Meat Institute (or, AMI) is a national trade association that represents approximately 70% of the Nation’s meat packers and processors. The AMI provides legislative, regulatory, and public relations services on behalf of the meat industry, and also sponsors scientific and economic research, and some public education programs. While this is not a website that we would recommend for researching food safety issues, or seeking unbiased information (there are several better sites for that), it is still an excellent way to find out what the meat industry is up to.

Food Marketing Institute homepage

Like the AMI, the Food Marketing Institute (or, FMI) is a national trade association, this one representing food retailers. This website has limited utility unless you are interested in learning more about the food retailing and the laws that regulate it.

Outbreak Inc.

Started by three of the attorneys at Marler Clark, Outbreak Inc. is a resource for companies in the food industry. In their roles as Outbreak consultants, the Marler Clark attorneys visit food companies, and attend food industry conventions and trade shows, offering practical advice on how to avoid litigation related to foodborne illness outbreaks.