Buchanan, Robert

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  • Spinach Outbreak as Part of Broader Concerns about

    Produce Safety A FDA Perspective

    Robert L. Buchanan, Ph.D.DHHS Food and Drug Administration

    Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

  • Presentation Goal:

    1 To put the current spinach outbreak in context as part of the almost decade- long FDA initiative to improve the microbiological safety of produce

    2 Identify 1 Successes 2 Improved understanding of factors affecting

    produce safety 3 Continuing challenges 4 Need for integrated programs

  • Presentation1 Historical perspective Major events 2 Current situation 3 Commodity specific associations 4 Research foundation 5 Concluding remarks

  • Historical Perspective

  • Identification of Increased Incidence of Produce Related Outbreaks in Early 1990s25









    8082 84 86 88 90

    Two year period beginning in year

    Source: CDC Foodborne

  • outbreak surveillance system

  • Early Food Safety Outbreaks1 Unpasteurized Juices

    1 Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Cryptosporidium parvuum

    2 Sprouted Seeds 1 Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7

    3 Berries 1 Cyclospora cayetanensis

    4 Leafy vegetables 1 Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella,


  • Historical Perspective1 1997. Multiple government agencies

    launch the National Food Safety Initiative (FSI)

    2 1997. Several outbreaks associated with fresh and fresh-cut produce and sprouted seeds lead to the expansion of FSI to include the Produce and Imported Food Safety Initiative (PIFSI)

    3 1998. Labeling of fresh, untreated juices

  • Historical Perspective1 1998. Guidance on Critical Controls

    for Juice Safety 1998. FDA publishes Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

    2 1999. FDA publishes guidance for the production of safe sprouts

    3 2001. Final Juice HACCP Rule publishes

  • Current Situation

  • Current Situation1 Continue to have

    outbreaks associated with produce 1 Bacterial Primary

    Production? 2 Viral Food service

    sector? 2 Largely associated

    with specific fruits and vegetables

  • Category Outbreaks Illnesses

    Processed 43 3,026

    Produce 63 8,040

    Sprouts 25 1,565

    Seafood 120 2,567

    Eggs 234 6,572

  • 1998-2006* Produce Outbreaks by CommodityTomatoes 11 Green onions 3Cantaloupe 7 Mango 2Melons 1 Almonds 2Honeydew melon 2 Parsley 1Raspberries 5 Basil 4Romaine lettuce 4 Green grapes 1Lettuce 10 Snow Peas 1Mixed lettuce 1 Basil or Mesclun 2Cabbage 1 Squash 1

    Spinach 1 Unknown 3*as of August 7, 2006

  • 1998-2006 Produce Outbreaks

    1 5 commodity groups make up >75 percent of produce related outbreaks

    Commodity % produce outbreaksLettuce/leafy greens 30%Tomatoes 17%Cantaloupe 13%Herbs (Basil, parsley) 11%Green onions 5%

    Total % of 5 top commodities 76%

  • 1 Association with specific geographical locations and growing seasons 1 Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli

    Lettuce/Spinach California - Fall crop 2 Salmonella spp. Tomatoes Eastern United

    States 3 Salmonella spp. Cantaloupes Mexico 4 Cyclospora cayetanensis Raspberries -

    Guatemala - Spring crop 5 Salmonella Enteritidis Almonds California 6 Salmonella Mangoes - South America

  • Success Stories?1 Cantaloupes:

    1 Worked with Mexico to establish mandatory GAP program for product exported to U.S.

    2 Raspberries: 1 Worked with Guatemala to develop a mandatory GAP

    program for product exported to U.S. 3 Mangoes:

    1 Change the way mangoes heat treated for Med fly larva 4 Sprouts:

    1 Guidance on seed treatment and irrigation water testing

    5 Raw Almonds: 1 Implementation of bactericidal treatment

  • Ongoing Challenges

    1 Leafy Greens 2 Tomatoes 3 Green Onions 4 Cantaloupe 5 Parsley, Cilantro,


  • 1995 3 - E. coli O157:H7 105cases

    1996 2 - E. coli O157:H7 68cases

    1997 1 - Cyclospora 12cases

    1998 2 - E. coli O157:H7 6cases

    1999 6 - E. coli O157:H7 86cases

    2002 2 - E. coli O157:H7 53cases

    2003 3 - E. coli O157:H7 60cases

    2004 2 - Cyclospora 95cases

  • 1 - Salmonella 79cases

    1 - E. coli O157:H7 6 cases

    2005 1 - E. coli O157:H7 32cases

    2006 1 E. coli O157:H7 191 cases

  • Tomato Outbreaks 1998 S. Baildon 86 cases 2000 S. Thompson 29 cases 2002 S. Newport 512 cases

    S. Newport 12 casesS. Javiana 90 cases

    2004 S. Javiana 471 casesS. Braenderup 123 cases

    2005 S. Newport 71 casesS. Braenderup 73 cases

    S. Enteritidis 73 cases

  • Recent Activities1 2004. FDA Produce Safety Action

    Plan 2 2005. Public meeting on sprout

    safety 3 2005 - 2006. Work with industry on

    commodity specific guidelines Melons, Lettuce and Leafy Greens,

    Fresh Tomatoes 4 2006. Meet with tomato industry on

    need to control Salmonella 5 2006. Lettuce Initiative

  • Produce Safety Research

  • Produce Safety Research1 During the past 10 years, government

    and industry invested in increased intramural and extramural research activities in areas of

    1 Detection of pathogens on produce 2 Microbial ecology of produce 3 Sources of contamination 4 Growth of pathogens on produce 5 Assessment of potential intervention

    technologies 6 Risk assessment

  • Manure and Sewage Sludge Management1 Inadequately

    treated animal and human waste are potentially important sources of contamination for produce 1 Run-off can

    disseminate 2 Desiccated feces

    can be airborne

  • Contamination of Agricultural Waters1 Irrigation and other

    agricultural water can be a major source of contamination of produce

    2 Identification of point and non-point sources of microbial contamination is foundation for reducing risks associated with irrigation waters

  • Water as a Source of Enteric Pathogens

    1 Irrigation techniques that bring water into direct contact with produce increase potential for contamination

    2 Affected by the topographical characteristics of produce

  • Topography of Produce Influences Potential for Contamination1 Leafy vegetables tend to have elevated

    levels of bacteria due to large surface area 2 Bacteria tend to accumulate in certain

    areas or structures (e.g., stomata) 3 Bacteria tend to adhere and accumulate at

    cut surfaces 4 Once internalized, pathogens are difficult to

    remove 5 Leafy vegetables can support the growth of

    pathogenic bacteria including E. coli O157:H7

  • Personal Hygiene of Farm Workers

    1 As with any food worker, farm personnel can be a source of contamination

    2 Need adequate training and supervision in appropriate hygiene

  • Animals as a Source of Enteric Pathogens1 In addition to

    domestic animals, feral animals can also be a source of human pathogens 1 Deer 2 Birds 3 Insects 4 Reptiles 5 Amphibia

    2 Importance as vector unknown

  • Internal Contamination of Produce1 Infiltration can occur

    during harvesting and processing

    2 Some studies suggest that infiltration through root system or during flowering may lead to the presence of pathogens, including E. coli O157:H7 in mature plant

    3 Infiltration impacts efficacy of potential post- harvest treatments

  • Removing Contamination from Produce

    1 Washing helps reduce levels of pathogens adhering to surfaces of produce but only to a limited degree

    2 Washing has little effect if pathogens are internalized

    3 Wash water can serve as a vector or a vehicle for cross-contamination

  • Produce Safety Research1 This scientific information is

    the basis for evolving guidance 1 Guide to Minimize Microbial

    Food Safety Hazards For Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, October 1998

    2 Updated version out for comment

    3 Commodity specific guidance developed by industry

    2 Also basis for questions posed in epidemiological evaluations

  • Epidemiological Investigations of Outbreaks1 Use data to identify

    factors that may contribute to outbreaks

    2 Provide advice on priority research areas

    3 Identify issues such as 1 Environmental

    conditions 2 Handling practices 3 Geographical setting 4 Seasonality

  • Concluding Remarks1 FDA is committed to ensuring the produce

    consumed in the United States is safe and that public health is protected

    2 FDA is committed to working with the industry, the research community, and other interested stakeholders to find solutions to this public health concern so that consumers can have confidence in this important part of a healthy diet

    3 Need for an integrated approach