Thursday, February 26, 2009

Salmonella-Contaminated Organic Basil Recalled in Canada

February 26, 2009

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has warned consumers that Farmer John's Herbs has recalled the following organic basil leaf, which may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The following recalled item was distributed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

  • Farmer John's Herbs brand Organic Basil Leaf (6 g packages): UPC #7 73353 50002 1; All lot codes

No illnesses have been associated with this recalled product.

Consumers who purchased packages of the Organic Basil Leaf should return them to the retailer for a full refund.


  1. Although there is ample eveidence to support my suspicion that the salmonella and e-coli outbreaks in our food sources are from the use of bio-control products; this is being ignored by Federal and state agencies.

    EVERY ONE OF THE CROPS THAT HAVE SHOWN POSITIVE FOR SALMONELLA and/or E-COLI HAVE HAD BIO-CONTROL PRODUCTS USED ON THEM. This is called "organic"; terms of "NATURAL" fungus and bacteria being used for a pesticide, fungicide, insecticide etc. However it should be understood that as little as .07% of the actual fungus and/or bacteria are the active ingredient.

    When a bio-control product is submitted to the EPA for registration the EPA evaluates the product and tests it. Right on the EPA's, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division preprinted Form; 8570-6 it says, “After fermentation and prior to further processing, each batch must be tested for the following microbial contaminants and have levels below those listed.”

    Now, e-coli and salmonella are the very first pathogens that are listed! So you see, I don’t buy this nonsense that farm animals or humans contaminated the crops that salmonella and e-coli have tested positive. I guess I would’ve accepted that theory if I didn’t know what the EPA’s form said. Why should any of us have to worry about even the slimmest possibility of a human or animal disease producing bacteria or fungus being used on our food crops or for insect control?

    Evidently the EPA is concerned about it because they have not only e-coli and salmonella, but other disease producing pathogens listed on the form that is sent to the bio-control product manufactures.

    READ THE EPA's, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division preprinted Form; 8570-6:

    [E-coli/Coliform Bacteria, Salmonella, Shigella, Stephylococci, Vibrio, Yeast and Mold is listed on page 1 [of 4]; #2

  2. Anonymous:

    1. You make a sweeping statement that this bio-product is used on ALL crops. Where is your documentation to back this up?

    2. I have read the EPA form. You are misinterpreting the content. EPA requires that these microbes be absent, just as FDA and USDA require that they be absent from ready-to-eat foods.

    3. I have traveled the Salinas and San Jaquin valleys in California. I have seen the cattle feedlots located very near crop fields, and the open-ditch irrigation canals in the same area.

    4. I have visited the biotechawareness website and I see that it is devoted to a specific problem between Agraquest and one of its former employees.

    If you have documentation to back up your allegations, I would be happy to review it.


  3. My reply PART 1:
    Within the four page form issued to Agraquest one will see that there indeed WAS contamination. I regret this is the only form I have, I merely mean to inform others as to what is listed on the EPA's, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division preprinted Form; 8570-6.

    #1) I am not saying that bio-control products are used on ALL crops. I am saying that ALL the crops that have been shown to have salmonella and e-coli have had bio-control products used on them. I have been tracking this.

    #2) I am not misrepresenting the form. What is; is just that what is. I did not write nor alter this form.

    #3) There were NEVER this amount of Salmonella and e-coli outbreaks until bio-control products have been used. Livestock have always been very close to crop fields since the beginning of time.

    #4) The biotechawareness website is not merely devoted to the problem between Agraquest and one of its former employees. Much information is on this website as to the harm caused by bio-control products. Perhaps a quick look at the New Zealand section will give you insight as to the deaths, amputations, illness and disease caused by using a bio-control products for a gypsy moth.

    Even melamine can be traced to bio-control. Biotechnology companies have been using melamine for micro capsule’s (of fungus, bacteria, virus) for long term pest control in biopesticides, biofungicides, bioinsecticides etc. for a long time. (Microcapsule according to claim 21, wherein said capsule shell is formed by condensation of formaldehyde with at least one of urea and melamine.)

  4. My reply PART 2

    I refer you to only one patent which reveals this; United States Patent 6506397 - which in part states:

    The present invention features a sustained-release microcapsule for long-term pest controlling. In general, a microcapsule has a capsule core including active pest-control ingredients and diluents, and a capsule shell which physically separates the capsule core from the surrounding medium. Diluents are arranged to entrap active ingredients therein and to provide resistance to mass transfer of the active ingredients therethrough. The capsule shell generally includes the shell pores and provides additional resistance to mass transfer of the active ingredient therethrough. Diluents are selected from a class of material such that the mass transfer resistances existing in the capsule core and/or capsule shell depend on the temperature of the surrounding medium.

    23. Microcapsule according to claim 21, wherein said capsule shell is formed by condensation of formaldehyde with at least one of urea and melamine.

  5. My reply PART 3

    And last, but not least I wish to reference the Netherlands, Institute of Food Safety report that was written in 2006 which clearly indicates that the ENVIRONMENTAL RELEASE OF CERTAIN GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (GE) ORGANISMS and natural organisms (or of natural origin) for the purpose of plant disease and/or insect control is being found to not be as safe as had been expected with regard to human health and the environment.
    Netherlands, Institute of Food Safety report

    Appendix 2: Case study on pesticides of natural origin
    M. J. Groot, G.A. Kleter

    The common assumption that “natural” means safe is not always true. Some organic pesticides are non-toxic to humans, but others are as toxic, or even more toxic than many synthetic chemical pesticides. Organic pesticides may form an emerging risk due to unexpected toxicity because of intrinsic factors or due to different behavior in the environment.

    In this study, two types of organic or biological pesticides are discussed: 1) pesticides based on plant extracts and 2) pesticides based on viable micro-organisms (bio-pesticides). The latter group of pesticides is formed by the bio-pesticides, which are based on living micro-organisms used for control of disease.

  6. My reply PART 4

    Moreover, the regulatory position of bio-pesticides in the EU is discussed.

    Classes of biological pesticides
    Sudakin (2003) divides bio-pesticides into 3 classes: 1) microbial pesticides like bacteria, fungi, algae, viruses, and protozoa; 2) genetic incorporation of DNA in plants to protect against insects; and 3) biochemical pesticides that consist of naturally occurring chemicals that are active against pests. In this review, only the first class is discussed in the section about bio-pesticides, whereas the third class is discussed in the section about pesticides based on plant extracts. The GMO-based pesticides fall beyond the scope of this review.

    The recommendations on the issue of pesticides of natural origin include:
    2c) to take into account that living organisms used as biopesticides may constitute new hazards because of their ability to multiply after application.

    Biopesticides are an important group of pesticides that can reduce pesticide risks. In general, they have a narrow target range and a very specific mode of action, are slow-acting, have relatively critical
    application times, suppress rather than eliminate a pest population, have limited field persistence and a short shelf life. Moreover, they are regarded as safer to humans and the environment than conventional pesticides and as presenting no residue problems (Dewhurst, 2001).

  7. My reply PART 5

    Mechanisms of action
    Biopesticides can suppress pests like insects, weeds, and plant pathogens by producing toxins specific to the pest causing a disease, preventing establishment of other microorganisms through competition, antagonism, and hyperparasitism of certain microorganisms (Montesinos, 2003).

    The most common approach is to proliferate and apply high numbers of pest antagonists or pest pathogens that directly attack the target organisms. Insect viruses, weed pathogens as herbicides, and several insect- or pathogen targeted bacteria and fungi have been tested (Gerhardson, 2002). Several of such commercial products are on the market, such as a preparation of the fungus Conithyrium minitans for pathogen sclerotia, a strain of Bacillus subtilis against fungal pathogens and, most popular, strains of Bacillus thuringienses for insect control (Gerhardson, 2002).

    Another method is selective protection of the infection sites, which can overlap with the pest attacking approach. Here microorganisms are used that can colonize specific substrates or sites where they can compete for nutrients, space, or siderophore production with the pathogens (Raaijmakers et al., 1995).

    Residues of biopesticides
    When viable micro-organisms are used after application the organisms may grow or multiply and change morphologically or biochemically due to environmental influences. This is in contrast to non-viable residues, which decrease in time. This effect has to be monitored closely. Bio-pesticides’ unpredictable behavior in the environment may pose an emerging risk.


    Although natural pesticides are generally less toxic than synthetic compounds, unnaturally high levels of natural toxins could cause adverse effects on the environment.

    Microbial bio-pesticides have a lower risk of insect resistance than chemical insecticides and their use is increasing (Sudakin, 2003). Bio-pesticides have the ability to multiply and may alter after application which may give rise to new risks. Microbial pesticides may affect the health of the consumer or people exposed to them in several ways including infectious and immunological mechanisms. These organisms are very complex and ill-understood concerning working mechanism, toxin production, specificity, and fate in the environment. This means that they may present a new type of hazard both for the environment and public health (Sudakin, 2003).

    General recommendations on organic pesticides
    Bio-pesticides containing living organisms may present a new type of hazard both for the environment and public health due to their ability to multiply in the environment and need further investigation.
    I believe that it should not be shoved under the carpet that there is the possibility that bio-control products are indeed causing problems.

    I have sent you the 29 pages for validation per your request in private e-mail:

    "I would very much like to see your documentation showing that all Salmonella-contaminated or E. coli-contaminated crops had been treated with bio-control products."

    Although the entire 29 pages is not all Salmonella and/or E. coli contaminated crops, I am curious if the next contaminated crop will also appear within these pages.

  8. I agree that biopesticide use must be carefully monitored, controlled, and regulated – just as other types of pesticides and herbicides are monitored, controlled and regulated. But you have still not provided documentation that there is a direct correlation between biopesticide use and contamination of agricultural crops by Salmonella and/or E. coli.

    By "documentation" I mean, for example,
    1. An inspection report that shows bio-pesticides having been used on a field that has produced a contaminated crop.
    2. A peer-reviewed scientific article that clearly links use of bio-pesticides to Salmonella or pathogenic E. coli in agricultural fields. This does NOT mean pages from a web site with no documentation.
    3. Experimental use of biopesticide on a crop with the express purpose of tracking contamination (i.e., regular sampling of the soil or crop during the growing cycle and after biopesticide has been applied).

    As for melamine, please review my posts on the subject. Biopesticides may very well be one source, but there are many others – not the least of which was deliberate adulteration of milk (the 2008 bbyproblem) and wheat and rice gluten (the pet food melamine problem).

    I thank you for your emails directly to me, with the attachments. I have saved those, and I plan to check into this further. I will post on the subject if I find any supporting documentation.


  9. The keywords here are "my suspicion" as to the possible links with salmonella and e-coli in our food sources with respect to bio-control products being used on them.

    #!) I agree with you Phyllis, in that there should be inspection reports showing bio-control products were used on the contaminated crops. However, given the fact of the possibility of terrorism; I believe if in fact there were such reports, it would not be known to the public. It is not a secret that our own government is not open and honest with us.

    #2) I am not sure what you mean by; "This does NOT mean pages from a web site with no documentation". I will be more than happy to give you documentation if I knew what in fact you are referring to.

    #3) The biotech industry is NOT going to admit there was ever any contamination for fear of not being able to get registrations of their products by Federal and state agencies as well as the possibility of losing funding from government agencies as well as private investors. MANY $$ are at stake here.

    When I referenced the 4 page EPA's, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division preprinted Form; 8570-6 that was sent to the company requesting FULL registration of their product clearly demonstrates there was indeed contamination with the submissions sent to this agency; resulting in a "Conditional Time-Limited" Registration. How can one dismiss so lightly that the product caused honey bee mortality? This in itself is alarming; not to mention the rest of the EPA's findings.

    I DID NOT alter this form in any way. One only needs to read it and know that what the company submitted was not without problems. Now this "submission" went to a regulating agency for approval and one would believe it would be 100% A - OK; It wasn't. How then can any of us be sure what is being put on our food crops is not without problems too?

    I understand everyone wants to believe in this new technology as a cure all for the problems caused from synthetic chemicals, however this is not proving to be the case.

    All I can say is time will tell and eventually the truth will be known. I would suggest one type in a google search for the keywords; salmonella, e-coli AND organic, this may be an eye-opener in itself.

    I am curious Phyllis as to why there was not a comment from you on the HIGH percentages of "inert ingredients" [NEVER KNOWN BY THE PUBLIC] within the 29 pages I sent you. I myself have problems with not knowing what the "other" ingredients are in a product that is used on or food crops and/or for insect control. Does it not make sense to wonder what the other 99.93% "inert ingredients" are when all that is KNOWN is .07% of the "active ingredient"? [only one example].

  10. thanks for the information. this has been helpful.

  11. Phylis,

    In re-reading this blog I am surprised I missed one of your replies to me, "I have read the EPA form. You are misinterpreting the content. EPA requires that these microbes be absent, just as FDA and USDA require that they be absent from ready-to-eat foods."

    With all due respect Phylis, you are incorrect in saying, "EPA requires that these microbes be absent". This is NOT the case.

    I am looking at the form right now and it says:

    •"E. coli/Coliform Bacteria < 10 cfu/g"
    •"Salmonella 0 cfu per 25 g"
    •"Shigella 0 cfu per 25 g"
    •"Staphlococci <10 cfu/g"
    •"Vibrio 0 cfu per 25 g"
    •"Yeast <10 cfu/g"
    •"Mold <10 cfu/g"

  12. @Anonymous: My statement oversimplified the EPA requirement. When a standard states, for example, "Salmonella 0 cfu per 25 g", it means that a 25g sample is the minimum size to be tested, and if any Salmonella is found in that 25g sample, the production lot from which the sample was drawn is rejected.

    This is a standard way of expressing microbiological standards in the food industry (FDA and USDA use the identical approach) and recognizes that there is never an "absolute" negative; the degree of sensitivity of the test always depends on sample size.

    I hope this clarifies my earlier statement.


  13. Phyllis,
    Thank you for the clarification, I appreciate it.

    One cannot be assured that bio control companies are 100% compliant in quality control measures and each batch is always tested.

  14. @Anonymous: You're welcome. Your comment about compliance of bio control companies applies equally to the entire food industry, sad to say.


  15. Phyllis,

    Yes, you are right but I don't recall the massive amounts of salmonella, e-coli, and vibrio food related illness until living microorganisms started being used on our food crops and for insect control.

    We used to hear of food-borne illness as a result of under-cooking meats or spoiled food, but rarely coming straight from the farm fields.

    I know there are cases of contamination in bio-control fermentation batches. Also, I don't feel comfortable in knowing that there are a LOT of bio-control products that are coming from outside the U.S. borders.

    I know you advocate for "organic food" or "natural" pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. but, just because these "natural" microorganisms are "naturally" found in the soil doesn't mean they are always safe and without risk. When doing an internet search for a food-borne illness; i.e. salmonella, e coli or vibrio... along with the word organic, I am surprised to find so many connections.

    Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis commonly found in soil) in a "natural" state is quite harmless... that is until it has been altered in a lab and then it can become a killer. My point is that microorganisms being used for bio-control are NOT in a 100% "natural" state.

    In my mind bio-control products such as lady bugs are the way to go, not the same bacteria and/or fungus that cause human and animal diseases and/or death.

  16. @Anonymous: I am not an advocate for organic foods, natural pesticides, or any other "natural" approach. I AM and advocate for food safety.

    Anthrax is not harmless in its "natural" state. It has been a scourge for many centuries. It was a killer long before there were bioweapon labs and bioweapon scientists. Understanding anthrax was one of Louis Pasteur's accomplishments.

    Salmonella, too, has been a scourge for centuries. When I was working for the Canadian government in the 1970's, we investigated a major outbreak of Salmonella tied to contaminated chocolate. This was well BEFORE biocontrol products were in use.

    My point is that there are numerous sources of food contamination, including everything from migrating birds to run-off from cow manure, to mishandling by food processors. Some microbes are hosted by animals, birds and/or reptiles; some are transmitted person-to-person; some are found naturally in the environment. Just one gram (that's 0.035 ounces) of cow manure or human stool contains millions of E. coli.

    I acknowledge the possibility that an occasional batch of bio-control microorganisms may be contaminated with undesirable bacteria. But this would be a small drop in a veritable sea of microbes that surround us every day.



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