Travel-related foodborne illness

A few years ago, my family and I embarked on a trip an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, a little get away from the hectic day to day musings in our lives. First day I decided to go for a jog  and was bitten by a wild dog travelling in a pack. I was shipped off to Cancun to start rabies postexposure prophylaxis. Second day, contracted norovirus. Third day almost left.

Colette Crampsey of the The Daily Record reports:

Reece Russell and John English both fell ill after eating at all-inclusive resorts in Cancun.
Two holidaymakers have told of their ordeals after being crippled by food poisoning bugs in Mexico.
Reece Russell, 28, was infected with salmonella, which led to inflammation around his heart.
And John English, 51, ended up in hospital with bacterial gastritis. He has been left with long-term health problems and has had to give up being a football coach.
Both men fell ill after travelling to all-inclusive resorts in Cancun.
Reece, from Dunfermline, went to the resort with his parents and sister in June.
He said: “About a week after I came home, I started falling very ill. I woke up at 1am with chest pains. In hospital, a blood test showed I had a high level of protein in my blood caused by possible heart attacks.”
Reece was diagnosed with myopericarditis –inflammation of the membrane and muscle around the heart. Tests showed salmonella was to blame.
He said: “The doctors implied that if I hadn’t gone to hospital when I did, it would have been significantly worse.” 
Engineer Reece, who stayed at the Bahia Principe, had to miss two weeks of work. He is seeking compensation from travel firm TUI.
John stayed at Moon Palace hotel with wife Janice and their two children in July.
After eating at a Brazilian restaurant, the Scottish Gas worker was violently sick and was whisked to hospital.
John said: “They told me my magnesium levels were very low. If that happens, your organs can shut down and you can die. It was quite frightening.”
The couple had to fork out £4000 for treatment and a further £1500 on John’s release the next day.
He said: “I’ve lost 2st and doctors have told me my blood pressure is through the roof. I could be on tablets for the rest of my life.
“I’m having to give up football coaching, which is very hard for me.”
A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear Mr English became ill. We advise customers to tell their rep or hotel staff immediately if they are unwell so they can get the right support.”
A spokesman for TUI said: “We will be contacting Mr Russell directly to review the matter.
“We regularly audit all of the hotels we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.”

Food Safety Talk 161: Two shows for the price of one

The episode starts with a discussion on food safety media coverage, Chipotle and fish-related worms (anisakiasis and cod worms). Don and Ben then talk New Jersey, Thor, British scandals and get into a lengthy segment on how cockroaches, flies and other critters can impact the risk of foodborne illness. The guys then get into a bunch of listener feedback on lava rock and Clostridium botulinum control in canned beverages. The conversation goes to Toxoplasma and entrepreneurialism and Mongolian style grill cooking. The episode ends on the differences in food safety between 41°F and 42°F, in North Carolina.

Download the show on iTunes or here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

New Zealand’s Prime Minister and one of my daughters have babies

Emma started caring for Sorenne when she was an undergrad in child studies at Kansas State University about 9 years ago.

She followed the path of others and hooked up with a veterinarian and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, one of my favorite cities (and no, not for The Lord of the Rings movies).

Emma writes she is so honoured to live in this country for so many reasons, and this is now definitely one of them. I highly recommend you Google Jacinda, because she’s doing lots of great things.

“This is The Prime Minister Of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She’s 37. She’s the youngest female Head of Government in the world. She’s also the first western woman to give birth while in this position of power. Two days after the baby was born – with midwives, standard in NZ hospitals – she introduced her to the country during a press conference on the nightly news. It was really lovely. She named her Neve Te Aroha. Te Aroha means “The Love” in Māori. It represents all the names that were submitted (upon her request) from various tribes throughout the country, and was her attempt at capturing them all.

This is her and her partner, no, he’s not her husband (gasp!), walking to the press conference. He’s TV fishing show Host Clarke Gayford, and he will be staying at home with baby Neve when his lady goes back to running the country in 6 weeks. Clarke sports a snazzy sweater he picked up at the op-shop (second-hand store) in Gisborne, and thinks its just kinda logical and he gives up his day job to stay home and look after the baby.

A week after the birth on July 1st Jacinda introduced a $5 billion Families Package that she’d drafted on the floor of her friends house in Hastings – long before her pregnancy. It’s based on the knowledge that the first few years of a babies life are the most important. The package gives an extra $60 a week to families with new babies, and an extra $700 to families for winter heating costs as well (it’s cold as hell down there in the winter). It also increases the Paid Leave for new parents from 18 weeks to 22 weeks. She announced the details via Facebook live, from her couch, right after she’d finished breastfeeding the baby. Because Kiwis. Some of the most down-to-earth, no-drama-having, just-do-it kind of people you’ll ever meet.

And because Women. We really do know how to lead, and to do it well.

Yes, women do.

Amy’s been leading me around for the past five years as I go from drama to drama.

But as I get older I’m accepting that people won’t really care if I do an extra barfblog.com post before I go screaming into that night.

They may care about my family, so welcome to Jasper William Toth, brother to Emerson and second son of 2-of-4 daughter, Jaucelynn, back in Canada, who was born at 4:39 a.m. with the help of a midwife after a couple hours of labour at home.

Jaucelynn writes that Jasper is an impressive 9lbs 2oz and 21 inches long. We are all doing well and excited to start our journey as a family of four.

Jaucelynn was a 10-pounder.

Jasper is grandson #3 for me, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Funky blanket, Probably hot there.

How the hell would I know? 395 sickened by Cyclospora linked to McDonalds salads

There was this one time, in 2010, I got a phone call at 6 a.m. from the esteemed Michael Osterholm of the Minnesota food safety system.

My wife does a better Minnosotan accent, spending her yute in Albert Lea, eh?

He didn’t like the photo, right, made by the creative couple of Heather and Christian, who used to work in my lab, and opened the conversation with, “How could you print that?”

I said it was an accurate description of what had been publically known about the leafy greens folks since the E. coli O157 spinach outbreak of 2006 (I’m old, waiting for news on the birth of my third grandson).

He then told me he was a consultant for Fresh Express and that they had an excellent food safety system.

I said great, make it public, so people can judge on their own.

Fresh Express has now been linked to 395 cases of Cyclospora through their lettuce served at McDonalds.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is pressing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for specifics about the investigation of the cyclosporaoutbreak linked to product sold by Fresh Express.

In an Aug. 3 letter her office released to the media, DeLauro said she wrote the letter “out of concern about the current outbreak of cyclosporiasis as well as the transparency and timeliness of your agency’s ongoing investigation.”

“Although once rare in the United States, parasitic outbreaks caused by cyclospora have become more common over the last several decades,” she said in the letter. “Many of these outbreaks have continually been found to be associated with imported fruits and vegetables.”

The recent outbreak is currently responsible for 395 infections — including 16 hospitalizations — across 15 states.

The parasite was first found when the FDA conducted testing on an unused package of Fresh Express salad mix, distributed to a McDonald’s restaurant, containing romaine lettuce and carrots.

The FDA states as of July 13, McDonald’s decided to stop selling the salads at restaurants impacted in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan. Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota. Montana, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri.

In a July 20, statement, McDonald’s said the health and safety of their customers is their top priority.

“The health and safety of our customers and the people who work in McDonald’s restaurants is always our top priority. The additional states identified by the FDA and CDC are among the same states where a week ago we proactively decided to remove our lettuce blend in impacted restaurants and replace it through a different supplier. McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality and we continue to cooperate and support regulatory and public health officials in their investigations. For those seeking additional information about Cyclospora, we encourage them to visit the CDC and FDA websites.”

Uh-huh.

Cyclospora sucks. My aunt, my mom’s sister, got it in Florida from basil, about a decade ago.

(Doesn’t she look amazing at 80, left.)

Cyclospora isn’t one of those things doctors routinely check for. Then you’re sick for about six weeks until some bright doc figures it out.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued an alert to the public on “beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products potentially contaminated with Cyclospora that were distributed by Caito Foods LLC, of Indianapolis,” Indiana.

USDA also released a public health alert after Indianapolis-based food distributor Caito Foods “received notification from their lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that the chopped romaine that is used to manufacture some of their salads and wraps was being recalled.”

“Fresh Express follows rigid food safety requirements and preventive controls throughout our supply chain that are carefully designed to mitigate against potential health risks. Working together with public health officials, we are hopeful a definitive source of the outbreak clusters will be identified soon.”

Uh-huh.

Still here, Mike. You can call me in Australia through Google voice 785-532-1925 and tell me what Fresh Express is doing, and why they are importing lettuce in the middle of North American summer.

Young and fearless

We were driving home from Florida – to escape the Canadian winter for a week – and back then we’d do the 24 hours with four kids in one shot in early 1996, and this song came on an American radio station.

I thought it was awesome.

Then I said, is that Sloan?

We didn’t have Google or phone tethering back then, so just argued, as you do.

This youthful enthusiasm encapsulates everything I miss about universities and why I hate  the smothering bureaucracy they have become.

E. coli O157 outbreak at Marine base in San Diego and chest thumping

The leading cause of immobilizing U.S. troops?

Foodborne illness.

My former dean was known as Dr. Clorox while serving in Vietnam.

I used to give training sessions to food types headed for Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Riley (in Manhattan, Kansas) and would sheepishly say, I have no idea what you’re going to face in terms of potable water, but bleach is your friend.

I reported in Nov. 2017 that a bunch of Marines training in San Diego got sick from Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

The eventual number would be about 220.

Food safety lawyer Bill Marler wrote the other day that the outbreak “seemed to fall a bit below the radar.”

That means below his litigation radar, not the public awareness radar. Yesterday he filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court of California against Sodexo Inc. on behalf of Illinois resident, Vincent Grano who developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection from food served at the cafeteria and mess hall at a Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Sodexo, a Delaware company, provides food and facility management services for the United States Marine Corps Depot in San Diego. Mr. Grano is represented by Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, and Gordon and Holmes, a local San Diego firm.

Marler also wrote the other day that two of his blogs made the Top 30 Food Safety Blogs, Websites & Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot.com.

I don’t pay attention to this kind of shit and wouldn’t unless Marler’s chest-thumping could be heard across the Pacific Ocean.

Maybe he’s like Sarah Palin and looks out and sees me.

It’s nice to be included in some BS list of top-30 food safety bloggers, but it’s better to be #1.

That would be barfblog.com.

And we’re not trying.

Don’t get shot in America. Live in Australia


Building on what John Oliver, then of the Daily Show, started five years ago, Damien Power writes in The New York Times there are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, which means there are more guns than people. If that makes you feel unsafe, visit Australia.

In Australia, it took one mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996, where 35 people were killed, for the country to do something concrete about gun reform. The government adopted tighter gun control, banned semiautomatic weapons and started a mandatory gun buyback program.

The United States, meanwhile, has an average of nine mass shootings every 10 days, and 13,000 gun homicides a year. Gun violence is so rampant that China has warned its citizens about traveling here.

So if you’re interested in not getting shot to death and adorable koalas, Australia might be the place for you. Not being the target of snipers adds to the magic of visiting Down Under.

I’d add don’t barf and visit Aus, but food safety controls aren’t as good as gun controls.

It is called barfblog…

When I woke up this morning I didn’t think I’d be blogging about this.

Zee news reports:
A video filmed in Zhengzhou in China is going viral and you may not even want to watch this one. A hungry woman in the video can be seen mixing rice balls in the loo and eating it.
The lady, in the presence of a group of onlookers, can be seen taking a bite from one of the balls after mixing them in the urinal. What is even bizarre is that the woman looks to be enjoying the taste of those rice balls.
According to local media, the woman works at Tenfu Group, a China-based company that specialises in tea products. In the video, she can be heard saying: “I will fry them in it (the urinal). It still has water inside. It is the same as frying food.
She was not forced to eat it, but in fact did it out of her own choice. “Let me be the first one to eat,” she can be heard saying.
And it looks like she was not the only one. Two other ladies can also be heard relishing the rice balls. “It tastes good – yummy,” the can be heard saying.
Reports suggest that the idea behind this exercise was to show that the washrooms were extremely clean and that they observed high level of cleanliness there as well. And the big meal in the bathroom was just an experiment to put forth their point.
The video was reportedly filmed on July 16. Ever since it was shared on social media, the vomit-inducing video has gone viral.

 

It’s free guacamole day and Chipotle investigated as source of another outbreak

Chipotle appears to be linked to another outbreak of foodborne illness. Maybe it’s just two cases (according to Chipotle via CNBC reporting) or maybe it’s way more according to Patrick Quade over at iwaspoisoned.com. 

There are lots of things that can go wrong in the restaurant like poor handwashing, cross-contamination or improper temperature control. Or folks showing up to work while ill (and Chipotle’s seen this before).

The pathogen isn’t clear, nor is what dish/practice caused the illnesses. It’s too early to tell.

What we do know is that the local health department is investigating:

Cyclospora contaminated food in the US, health alert issued

Cyclospora is one of those pathogens spread through poop and water/food tends to be the most favorable vehicle of transmission.

The Federal Safety and Inspection Service has issued a health alert over certain meat products over concern for Cyclospora.
The agency is telling people to be extra cautious with beef pork and poultry salad and wrap products out of Caito Foods LLC, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The items with “best by” or “sell by” dates ranging from July 18th to July 23rd are under the alert. 
The problem within Caito Foods is related to the lettuce supplier, Fresh Express. The chopped romaine is being recalled.
Cyclospora infection, defined by the Centers for Disease Control, is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite. The infection can cause Cyclosporiasis.
The symptoms of Cyclosporiasis include loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, nausea, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms.