The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Memet Beqiri had pleaded guilty to "a charge related to his meat processing business's falsification of numerous E. coli test results," according to a press release. Beqiri, owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing LLC, allegedly prepared and submitted falsified documents indicating that the company had sent carcass swabs and ground beef samples to a certified laboratory, which purportedly had found no E. coli. "In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs and samples had been submitted or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory," the press release states. The charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years; Beqiri will be sentenced in November 2019.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking to identify the poultry-production plants associated with an outbreak of Salmonella. CSPI requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) deliver information on the "name, address, establishment number, and date of positive sample(s)" for poultry products that "tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis" in raw chicken and "Salmonella Reading" in raw turkey. "In addition to granting the current FOIA request, which may be done by delivering the data to CSPI directly or posting it on the USDA website, CSPI also requests that the USDA develop a practice for reporting this information publicly in all similar multi-source outbreaks moving forward," the request states.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released several reports and guidance documents on food-related issues, including draft guidance on reasonable serving sizes and a report on foodborne illnesses in restaurants. Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Eating Occasion, Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed, Serving Size-Related Issues, Dual-Column Labeling, and Miscellaneous Topics. This draft guidance details how food companies determine reasonable serving sizes for the nutritional panels on their products. Comments submitted before January 4, 2019, will be considered before FDA begins working on the final version of the guidance. Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Questions and Answers Related to the Compliance Date, Added Sugars, and Declaration of Quantitative Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals; Guidance for Industry. FDA has provided a series of questions and answers on quantifying added sugars, vitamins and minerals. Several questions focus specifically on calculating added sugars in fruit juices…
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued a statement on testing for Cyclospora as a foodborne pathogen. The statement noted that the testing methods allowed the agency to identify Cyclospora in cilantro, marking the first time it found the parasite in domestically grown produce. "We must continue to put in place science-based measures to prevent microbial contamination from occurring, and work with our state and foreign partners to implement the Produce Safety Rule," Gottlieb stated. "We’ve been working closely with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and our state partners to, among other things, train federal and state regulators who will conduct inspections slated to begin next spring, develop inventories of farms that are covered by the rule, put in place the Produce Safety Network to support the states and their farming communities regionally, conduct On Farm Readiness Reviews to help farmers assess their…
Pepperidge Farms Inc. faces a lawsuit alleging that a woman became ill with Salmonella gastroenteritis after eating the company’s Goldfish crackers, which purportedly contained contaminated dry whey powder. Finch v. Pepperidge Farms, Inc., No. 18-152 (N.D. Miss., filed August 8, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she bought and ate the Goldfish on July 19, 2018, became ill that evening, and tested positive for Salmonella one week later. Pepperidge Farm issued a recall of four varieties of Goldfish after its supplier notified it of potential contamination. Claiming manufacturing-defect strict liability, failure-to-warn strict liability, negligence per se, negligence and breach of warranties, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees.
Multiple consumers have reportedly filed lawsuits against Chipotle Mexican Grill following the distribution of allegedly contaminated food that purportedly resulted in more than 700 customers becoming ill. The cause of the illnesses is unknown, as E. coli, Salmonella, norovirus and shigella tests reportedly returned negative results. One plaintiff seeks $25,000 in damages for his medical treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report on foodborne illnesses in the United States from 2009 to 2015. The agency’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System received reports of 5,760 outbreaks, resulting in 100,939 ilnesses, 5,699 hospitalizations and 145 deaths. The data reportedly revealed that norovirus was the most common outbreak cause, while Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli caused 82 percent of hospitalizations and deaths.
A federal court in Louisiana has dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit alleging that Chipotle Mexican Grill's food caused the plaintiff to contract Helicobacter pylori, holding that the plaintiff had not pleaded "any semblance of a fact that causally connects [his] illness" with Chipotle. Gilyard v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., No. 17-0441 (W.D. La., entered June 14, 2018). The court found that the plaintiff failed to plead "factual allegations sufficient to show that Chipotle failed to act as a prudent person skilled in food preparation." The only factual allegation in the complaint, the court noted, was that the plaintiff regularly ate at Chipotle in the two months before he was diagnosed with an H. pylori infection. Further, the court found, the complaint did not allege how the food was defective, how the duty of reasonable care in making or storing the food was breached, or that Chipotle provided contaminated food or utensils.
A woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was hospitalized after eating Salmonella-contaminated eggs from Rose Acre Farms Inc. Roberts v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc., No. 18-61082 (S.D. Fla., filed May 14, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she purchased eggs packaged by Coburn Farms, a Sav-A-Lot Food Stores brand, and became ill enough to require two hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked Rose Acre Farms eggs to a nine-state outbreak of Salmonella infections. Claiming strict product liability, breach of warranty, negligence and negligence per se, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced new food safety recommendations for managing the risk of arsenic in rice and efforts to reduce pathogens in meat and poultry products. Following a request to review issues related to arsenic in rice, GAO determined that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not updated its risk assessment of the human health effects in two years and was unable to provide a timeline for either an update or final draft guidance. GAO has recommended that FDA develop such timelines, work with other agencies to coordinate risk assessments and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop methods to detect contaminants in food. GAO also reviewed USDA’s approach to reduction of pathogens in meat and poultry, finding the agency has failed to develop standards for some products—including turkey breasts and pork chops—and has not fully documented its process for deciding…