Put Down That Lettuce! It Might Have E. Coli!


By Cooking Panda

Over the past seven weeks, 59 people in the U.S. and Canada have fallen ill from a known dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria, most likely from eating romaine lettuce, according to the CDC.

Canadian health authorities confirmed romaine as the source of the outbreak in Canada and have advised people in five eastern provinces to consider other types of salad greens until the cause of contamination is identified.

In the U.S., the infections have spread across the 13 states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington state.

One death has been reported in Canada as a result of the outbreak, while five people in the U.S. have been hospitalized. Officials are currently performing genome sequencing on samples of bacteria making people sick in the U.S. to confirm if the illnesses are related to the ones in Canada. The CDC reported preliminary results showing the types of E. coli in both countries are closely related.

James Rogers, the CDC’s director of Food Safety and Research, told Consumer Reports that the outbreak is not positively linked to romaine lettuce, but a “greater degree of caution” is needed given that lettuce greens are typically consumed raw.

Some Canadian stores have pulled romaine off their store shelves, while the source of infections remains unidentified. The CDC’s investigation is ongoing, but officials are unable to recommend whether residents should avoid a particular food. Canada’s Public Health Agency warns that contaminated romaine lettuce may still be circulating in markets, including restaurants and any establishment that serves food.

Although E. coli outbreaks are typically linked to beef, infections due to leafy greens are not unheard of. Romaine lettuce was the cause of outbreaks in 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to Consumer Reports.

Rogers warns that washing leafy greens does not completely safeguard people from E. coli, which can cling to leaves. The safest bet is cutting romaine out of your diet completely until there is more information on the source of the contamination. Check all salad blends and mixes and avoid ones that contain romaine, and give all leafy greens a thorough washing.

Sources: Delish, Public Health Agency of Canada, CDC, Consumer Reports / Featured Image: Liz West/Flickr


Tags: e-coli, Romaine
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Chipotle To Open A New Burger Joint This Autumn — Will You Try It?


By Cooking Panda

Dear Chipotle — we get it (you’re sorry) and we love you, but you are turning into the John Cusack of fast-casual restaurants and you have got to turn it down.

In a bid to win back the allegiance of its wary customers — nobody wants to dine at an establishment that continuously gets flagged for food safety crises — Chipotle has officially confirmed that it is launching a new burger restaurant called Tasty Made in Lancaster, Ohio, this autumn.

The new concept will feature a limited menu specializing in burgers, milkshakes, and fries which will be served in a fast-food format.

“Tasty Made will use Responsibly Raised brand beef (from animals that are raised in more humane ways and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones), shakes made with real ingredients including milk, cream, sugar, eggs and other natural ingredients, and fresh-made buns that are free of preservatives, dough conditioners and other artificial ingredients,” reads the release, per Eater.

“Early fast food burger restaurants generally had focused menus,” Chipotle founder Steve Ells said in the release. “We think there’s great strength in that original fast food model and wanted to create a restaurant built around that. Making only burgers, fries and shakes with really great ingredients, we think we can appeal to peoples’ timeless love of burgers, but in a way that is consistent with our long-term vision.”

Chipotle’s stock price has been on the decline for almost a year thanks to its many food scares, inviting skepticism over its whole “food with integrity” shtick. However, instead of focusing its efforts on revitalizing its core business, the burrito chain continues to diversify. Tasty Made is just the latest effort, joining ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and Pizzeria Locale as another non-Chipotle brand.

Will you try the new Tasty Made burger?

Source: Eater / Photo credits: Tasty Made via Eater, Nicole Iizuka/Popsugar Photography

Tags: burger, Chipotle, e-coli, tasty made
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The General Mills Recall Just Got Even Worse


By Cooking Panda

Fans of the manufacturer General Mills may remember that the company issued a major voluntary recall of all products sold under its Gold Medal Flour label earlier this year, in order to investigate an ongoing, multi-state outbreak of E. coli.

Now, due to four new confirmed illnesses, General Mills is adding additional flour production dates to the previous U.S. retail flour recall.

Initially, the recall included certain sizes of Gold Medal, Wondra, and Signature Kitchens brand flour that had been produced between Nov. 4, 2015 and Dec. 4, 2015. The updated recall has extended the affected production dates through Feb. 10, 2016.

The illnesses that were reported to health officials show a correlation with consumers who have reported to have consumed or handles uncooked dough and/or uncooked batter made with raw flour. Just as before, no illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly cooked, baked or handled.

“At this time, it is unknown if we are experiencing a higher prevalence of E. coli in flour than normal, if this is an issue isolated to General Mills’ flour, or if this is an issue across the flour industry,” the company wrote in the press release.

“As a leader in flour production for 150 years, General Mills is committed to convening experts to work with government officials to learn more and create new protocols, if needed,” said General Mills President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Harmening. “Most importantly, we want all the avid home bakers out there to have peace of mind and know the most important thing they can do to keep safe is to not eat uncooked flour.”

Just as before, the company reminds consumers that flour is a raw ingredient, and is intended to be cooked or baked; because it is made from wheat and grown outdoors, the bacteria present in its growing conditions is not necessarily removed during the normal flour milling process.

You can find complete recall information at generalmills.com/flour, and view all of the updated product dates included in the company’s recall here.

Source: General Mills / Photo credit: Living Rich With Coupons

Tags: e-coli, flour, General Mills, recall
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E. Coli Has Killed More Of Your Dreams, This Time It’s Betty Crocker Cake Mix


By Cooking Panda

Thought that General Mills flour recall was over? WELL IT’S NOT, AND NO CARB IS SAFE.

And by that alarming sentence, we mean that you should probably throw out your Betty Crocker cake mixes because they’re made with — you guessed it — General Mills’ Wondra flour.

Betty Crocker ~Super Moist~ cake mixes recalled in the U.S. include the Party Rainbow Chip Mix (the one with pudding inside, I tearfully remind you) and the Carrot Cake Mix. 

If you’ve got either of these bad boys sitting on your shelf awaiting baking and frosting, you can at least contact General Mills consumer relations for a refund. But we understand money won’t make up for time away from cake. 

Check out the full list of recalled items here to be sure E. coli hasn’t killed more of your dreams.

Source: PopSugar / Photo credit: Betty Crocker

Tags: betty crocker, cake mix, e-coli, flour, General Mills, recall
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Once Again, Food Poisoning Allegations Have Been Leveled Against Chipotle


By Cooking Panda

Here we go again…

You’d think that after all that bad press Chipotle received last year re: its series of unfortunate run-ins with E. coli and norovirus (which predictably resulted in a major sales decline, and the company’s lowest stock point in years) the restaurant chain would try its damnedest to win back its customers’ allegiance.

It’s not that the chain hasn’t put forth some effort: It launched a new rewards program, and now plans to offer chorizo in the autumn; it’s just that it’s hard to care about those details when reports have surfaced once again — this time via Twitter — of at least two more food poisoning incidents occurring at one of the chain’s Manhattan locations.

Early on July 7th, author Eric Van Lustbader — known for continuing the Bourne series after Robert Ludlum — tweeted that his editor had fallen ill after dining at a Manhattan Chipotle.

This Chipotle thing is still ongoing. My editor ended up in urgent care after being deathly ill all night from eating at Chipotle’s.

— Eric Van Lustbader (@EVanLustbader) July 7, 2016

Van Lustbader’s follow-up tweet said that his editor spent seven hours in the ER, with doctors surmising that her illness stemmed from unsanitary food handling.

Clearly, Chipotle is more susceptible than ever to these kinds of allegations, because Business Insider reports that the burrito chain’s stock dropped up to 3.5% the morning of July 7.

Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Business Insider:  “We are aware of the post made on Twitter, however there have been no reports of illnesses at any of our New York restaurants.

“Moreover, we have excellent health department scores throughout the city, and we continue to have the highest standards of food safety in our restaurants.”

Because Van Lustbader spread the news on Twitter, he has become the internet’s newest target; users have begun accusing him of intentionally trying to devalue Chipotle’s stock; Van Lustbader denies these claims.

Additionally, one other person (so far) has come forward, saying they were sick for a full weekend after eating at the chain’s 56th street location in Manhattan.

Sources: Business Insider, Eric Van Lustbader/Twitter (2) / Photo credit: Coloradan Magazine

Tags: Chipotle, e-coli, food poisoning
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General Mills Issues Voluntary Flour Recall Over Multi-State E. Coli Outbreak


By Cooking Panda

General Mills has issued a major voluntary recall of all products sold under its Gold Medal Flour label, in order to investigate an ongoing, multi-state outbreak of E. coli. According to the company’s statement, E. coli has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility to date.

“As a leading provider of flour for 150 years, we felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” said Liz Nordlie, president of General Mills Baking division, as written on the company’s recall statement.

Of the 38 recorded occurrences under investigation, the CDC found that approximately half of the individuals reported making something homemade with flour at some point prior to becoming ill; some of those ill consumers may have also consumed raw batter or dough, which General Mills does not recommend.

“Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling,” states the company’s recall.

“Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.”

While most strains of E. coli are harmless, E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that has been known to cause dehydration and bloody diarrhea; Seniors, infants, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to forborne illness.

If you are a consumer who is concerned about an illness, or have been diagnosed by a physician as having an illness related to E. coli, General Mills urges you to contact state and local public health authorities.

Read the full General Mills recall statement here for a full list of products affected by the recall.

Sources: General Mills / Photo Credit: General Mills

Tags: e-coli, flour, General Mills, recall
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Chipotle Is Struggling To Bounce Back After Foodborne Illness Outbreaks


By Cooking Panda

After experiencing numerous foodborne illness outbreaks, followed by an attempt to win back customers by giving away several million burritos, Chipotle Mexican Grill has not-so-surprisingly achieved its first-ever quarterly loss.

In the three months ending on March 31, Chipotle lost $26.4 million on a 23.4 percent decrease in revenue, and same-store sales dropped 29.7 percent. Investors are abandoning the chain as well, which pushed Chipotle shares down 4.8 percent.

According to The New York Post, the chain has had a shaky recovery from the e-coli and norovirus outbreaks experienced in numerous restaurants in 2015. As a result, a variety of customers, including its most regular patrons, are deciding to eat elsewhere.

“A lot of what we are aiming our efforts at are our top, loyal customers,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief development and creative officer. “Their frequency has declined.”

The amount of typical customers who have not visited Chipotle in three months has increased from 49 to 57 percent, according to Crumpacker.

By introducing new menu items and frequency reward programs, Chipotle is hopeful about its future and aims to convince both Wall Street analysts and customers that the chain has much to offer.

“Sales are so volatile, but I would not expect a loss in the second quarter,” said Chief Financial Officer John Hartung.

Source: New York Post / Photo credit: tacvbo/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Tags: Chipotle Mexican Grill, e-coli, foodborne illness outbreak, norovirus, quarter loss
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