College Station in Texas was the town where 2 separate food safety emergencies happened recently. The 2 food safety emergencies were totally unrelated, one had to do with an E.Coli outbreak whereas the other was related to a fumigant problem in a grocery store which had nothing to do with the first incident.
The first safety concern arose at an Asian food market and was discovered when safety inspectors found a dangerous chemical in the store. The chemical was aluminium phosphide, a dangerous chemical called Fumitoxin is a pesticide which requires a license to be used however the store owners did not have one according to a representative from the Brazos County Health Department, Sara Mendez. An entire area had to be evacuated while hazmat teams removed the dangerous chemical.
According to the article, the store has been closed on numerous occasions due to food safety concerns in a single year. The pesticide discovery was not the only mishap involving the store, the store was also closed for food storage problems including rotten and mouldy products, insect and rodent activity in the store and issues with cross-contamination.
Read this article from FoodSafetyNews.com which explains further:
That inspection by both the Brazos County Health Department and the Texas Department of State Health Services uncovered aluminum phosphide — which local hazardous materials first responders say is an extremely dangerous chemical. Called Fumitoxin, it is a pesticide that requires a license to use.
College Station’s Hazmat (hazardous materials) team removed the dangerous chemical from the BCS Asian Market to Fire Station 2 on the city’s Rio Grand Boulevard, an action that required the entire area to be locked down Tuesday afternoon for about an hour. Even Fire Station 2 was evacuated for a time until the transfer was achieved.
Since it opened in 2006, BCS Market has been closed three previous times and now requires three inspections a year. In addition to the pesticide, the current closure was for food storage problems including rotten and moldy products, insect and rodent activity and cross-contamination problems.
The market remained closed on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the source of the April E. coli outbreak is continuing by both the Brazos County Health Department and the Region 7 offices of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Ten illnesses, five confirmed and five probable, are attributed to the outbreak. The adults have recovered but two College Station boys are still at Children’s Hosptial in Houston. Both suffered from HUS, a complication of E. coli infection that affects the kidneys, but their conditions have been upgraded to fair.
One of the points that I find interesting from the excerpt above is that the E.Coli contamination actually affected 10 people and 2 of them children who have now been admitted to hospital with complications affecting their kidneys. This incident highlights how dangerous foodborne illnesses can be for children, the elderly, babies and pregnant women who have a less strong immune system than a normal healthy adult which makes them vulnerable and why these vulnerable groups should be extremely cautious.