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Smoked Salmon Sold in 23 States Recalled Over Botulism Fears

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Smoked Salmon Sold in 23 States Recalled Over Botulism Fears
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Salmon lovers in more than 20 states had better check their refrigerators.

Mill Stream Corp. is recalling 10 lots of Cold Smoked Salmon because they might be contaminated with a potentially deadly bacterium, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday.


"Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled," the recall notice said.

The Maine-based company is recalling the salmon because it could become contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulism occurs because the bacteria make spores that help them survive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained.

"The spores usually do not cause people to become sick, even when they're eaten. But under certain conditions, these spores can grow and make one of the most lethal toxins known," the CDC said.

Those conditions include low oxygen, low acid, low sugar, a certain temperature range, a certain amount of water and low salt. It seems like a combination of the last three is what caused the potential problem with the salmon, as the recall notice explained:

The recall was initiated because the product's water phase salt (WPS) tested below 3.5%. This was discovered upon re-review of laboratory certificates, which were found to have incorrectly reported WPS levels. Labeling instructions state to keep refrigerated at or below 38ºF and that the product may be frozen. Because the WPS is under 3.5% the product must remain frozen until ready to consume. Product stored in the refrigerator after thawing has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

Water phase salt (WPS) measures the amount of salt relative to moisture in the fish, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. Salt helps to keep moisture out of the fish, which reduces bacteria growth.

"The combination of refrigeration temperatures and prescribed salt levels offer a high degree of assurance that bacterial growth will be retarded," the centre explained.

Mill Stream Corp. said it froze the salmon before distribution, but retailers may have thawed it before selling it.

"Consumers who purchased the product frozen are advised to keep it frozen until ready to use and thaw under refrigeration immediately before use," the recall notice advised. "If a consumer has refrigerated product subject to the recall, they should dispose of it immediately even if it does not look or smell spoiled."

The recalled salmon was sold between March 6 and Sept. 17, 2019 in whole salmon side, two pound, one pound, eight ounce and four ounce vacuum-sealed packages. The packages had the following lot numbers on the back: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062 and 7066.

It was sold and distributed wholesale, online and to retail stores in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, Iowa, Tennessee, Minnesota, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, Michigan and Texas, Newsweek reported.

The symptoms of botulism include weakness, dizziness, double vision and difficulty speaking or swallowing, the FDA said. According to the CDC, botulism can ultimately cause difficulty breathing, paralysis and even death. No one has been sickened by the salmon to date, but anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.

Around 200 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with botulism every year, Newsweek reported. Most have to be hospitalized, but, if they receive proper medical attention, fewer than five in 100 patients die from the disease.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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