Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Download C.V. »

Hong Kong fairytales: More Vibrio: Suspected food poisoning outbreak in tour group

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a suspected outbreak of food poisoning in a tour group, and hence urged the public to maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent food-borne diseases.

Because all foodborne illness is caused by poor personal hygiene, and not contaminated product.

Not

The outbreak affected six members of the tour group, comprising two men and four women aged from 44 to 80, who developed abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting 14 to 40 hours after their lunch buffet in a restaurant in a hotel in Macau on August 13 arranged by a travel agent in Hong Kong.

Among them, three sought medical attention in Hong Kong and required no hospitalisation. All affected persons have been in stable condition.

The stool specimen of one patient tested positive for Vibrio parahaemolyticus upon laboratory testing.

 

Raw is risky: US woman battling cancer dies after eating oysters

I don’t eat much raw food.

Too much risk.

A Texas woman who was vacationing with her husband in Mississippi died last Thursday, after eating raw oysters that were contaminated.

Jane White Cunningham, who had battled leukemia since 2016, had several limbs removed prior to her death in an effort to combat the infection, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“There has been a lot of swelling in her extremities and a lot of pain,” David Cunningham, the 56-year-old’s husband, wrote in an Aug. 8 Facebook post. “Today they had to amputate both legs and her left arm in an attempt to save her life as the infection was spreading rapidly.”

Cunningham was being cared for a Gulfort Mississippi Hospital, with health officials pointing to the bacteria Vibrio as a cause of infection, CBS DFW reported.

Salmonella Dublin is nasty

Salmonella enterica serotype Dublin is a cattle-adapted bacterium that typically causes bloodstream infections in humans.

To summarize demographic, clinical, and antimicrobial drug resistance characteristics of human infections with this organism in the United States, we analyzed data for 1968–2013 from 5 US surveillance systems.

During this period, the incidence rate for infection with Salmonella Dublin increased more than that for infection with other Salmonella. Data from 1 system (FoodNet) showed that a higher percentage of persons with Salmonella Dublin infection were hospitalized and died during 2005–2013 (78% hospitalized, 4.2% died) than during 1996-2004 (68% hospitalized, 2.7% died). Susceptibility data showed that a higher percentage of isolates were resistant to >7 classes of antimicrobial drugs during 2005–2013 (50.8%) than during 1996–2004 (2.4%).

Epidemiology of Salmonella enterica Serotype Dublin infections among humans, United State, 1968-2013

Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 23, no. 9, September 2017, R. Reid Harvey, Cindy R. Friedman, Stacy M. Crim, Michael Judd, Kelly A. Barrett, Beth Tolar, Jason P. Folster, Patricia M. Griffin, and Allison C. Brown

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/9/17-0136_article

Dozens of guests at Ibiza hotel struck down by gastroenteritis amid fears dirty rainwater seeped into water tanks

One of my fondest childhood memories was the rain barrels my grandparents used to collect water.

I have no idea why, other than a foreshadowing of somewhat of a career in microbiology, but the memories remain vivid.

Now we live in Australia, which has 10 years of drought followed by a 1-in-500-year downpour, so we have these bloody big rain water collection tanks that look nothing like my grandparents.’

Around 50 guests at an Ibiza hotel popular with British holidaymakers have fallen ill with suspected gastroenteritis.

A pregnant woman needed hospital treatment and doctors were made available for 49 other guests following the outbreak at the four-star Hotel Algarb in Playa d’en Bossa,

A probe is now underway to establish the cause, although it has been initially linked to rainwater from midweek storms on the island filtering into hotel water tanks and ending up being used to make ice.

The mum-to-be who was hospitalised with “light gastroenteritis” has now been discharged.

Food safety is every day (and every meal)

The world does not need a food safety day.

It needs day-in-day-out commitment.

The United Nations‘ General Assembly will discuss in Sept. whether to establish a World Food Safety Day.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization has already adopted a draft resolution that puts the wheels in motion for this international day. The resolution has been forwarded to the secretary-general of the United Nations so that it can be added to the organization’s September agenda. If the resolution passes through the General Assembly, World Food Safety Day would be set for June 7 of each year, the F.A.O. says.

World Food Safety Day would “raise awareness of the global threat posed by foodborne diseases and reinforce the need for governments, the food industry, and individuals to do more to make food safe and prevent these diseases,” said Ren Wang, director of F.A.O.’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

The draft resolution clearly states that “there is no food security without food safety, and that in a world where the food supply chain has become global, any food safety incident has global negative effects on public health, trade, and the economy.”

Barnaby-the-bloody-carp Joyce caught out in citizenship drama

Ancestry is all the rage.

And we all have bare-knuckle boxing champs in our past.

My 30-year-old daughter e-mailed me this morning to ask about our family. She said she had a DNA test.

I took the don’t-ask-a-question-unless-you-want-an-answer route – and told her it’s all on ancestry.com, go look it up, but you may have to like your step-sister.

I’ve got three passports: Canadian, American, Australian.

It’s homogenized white, but at least I can remember them.

Sorenne is about to get her third, once we find her Canadian thingy under my name.

Australian politicians are apparently brain-dead.

Barnaby Joyce (right, not exactly as shown), the Donald Trump of Australia, deputy Prime Minister and Agricrlture Minister, didn’t know he was born a kiwi (like Russell Crowe)

Section 44 of the Australian Constitution says

Any person who –

(i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power: or

(ii.) Is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer: or

(iii.) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent: or

(iv.) Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth: or

(v.) Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons:

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

Australian politics is as awfull as the country’s ability to hook up decent Internet.

Not Paradise: Brucellosis linked to raw milk consumption in Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports in the course of diagnosing the cause of fever, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue in a Texas resident, blood culture results revealed that the patient was infected with Brucella. Through investigation by DSHS, the most probable source of the infection was determined to be raw cow’s milk which the person had been consuming. The source of the milk was K-Bar Dairy, a licensed raw milk dairy in Paradise, Texas.

DSHS is concerned that other people who consumed raw milk from K-Bar Dairy may also have been exposed to Brucella and became infected. Brucellosis may cause short-term and long-term disease. Without specific testing, this disease may elude correct diagnosis, and without appropriate antibiotic therapy, illness may persist.

Health care providers should consider Brucellosis among differential diagnoses when a patient presents with a clinically-compatible constellation of signs and symptoms. The patient should be asked about risk factors for Brucellosis. A key question affecting the level of suspicion of Brucellosis in this scenario is the patient’s consumption of raw milk or raw milk products from K-Bar Dairy in Paradise Texas in Wise County since June 1, 2017. These individuals are considered to be at high risk of contracting brucellosis. Consumers are advised not to consume any raw milk or raw milk products from K-Bar Dairy that are still in their possession and to discard it.

At this time, it is uncertain how long Brucella may have been present in the raw milk from this dairy. Testing is ongoing in an attempt to answer that question. If a patient seeks consultation because they consumed raw milk or raw milk products from this dairy between January and June, 2017 they should be advised to be watchful for signs of chronic Brucellosis and clinically evaluated as appropriate.

Goats are ruminants, they secretly harbor dangerous E. coli: Goat Yoga in Conneticut should not be a thing

Goat yoga is a thing – people do yoga with goats on them – but a town in Conneticut has ordered Aussakita Acres Farms to stop.

Town officials say mixing livestock and meditative exercise is not allowed and have ordered farm owners to stop the sessions. The farmers say they will not stop, so the confrontation will continue at least through the end of the month, when a zoning board of appeals hearing is scheduled.

For the past several weeks, guests at the 5.6-acre farm have paid $25 each to do the “downward dog” and other yoga moves while small goats clamber on their backs, nuzzle their faces and occasionally pee on their mats. The farm in the town’s northeastern corner runs a total of four, hour-long sessions on weekends, and classes average 48 participants, farm co-owner Tracy Longoria said Monday.

Through the plan of conservation and development, Manchester leaders have encouraged the town’s few remaining farmers to diversify, and that’s what she and her partner have done, Longoria said. Aussakita (a pairing of two popular dog breed names) offers duck eggs, pet pigs, alpaca fur, close encounters with miniature llamas – and for the past several weeks, yoga with goats. It’s all part of surviving as a Connecticut farmer, Longoria says.

A cease and desist order issued on July 26 says the activity violates rules on allowed uses in “rural residence” zones. A special exception approval or variance would be required, Zoning Enforcement Officer Jim Davis wrote in the order. Failure to comply with the order, Davis wrote, could result in fines of up to $2,500 per violation. The zoning board of appeals has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Aug. 30.

 

Silicon Valley pundit does not know chickens are Salmonella factories and neither does N.Y. Times

Of course, he works for Fox.

Nellie Bowles of The New York Times reports it’s not easy being the first and only Fox News host in Silicon Valley.

But Steve Hilton, a tech entrepreneur who was once chief adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, added that role to his résumé in June.

Now every week, Mr. Hilton flies from the home he shares with his high-profile tech executive wife, Rachel Whetstone, in Silicon Valley’s billionaire enclave of Atherton, Calif., to Fox’s studios in Los Angeles to host “The Next Revolution With Steve Hilton.” Fox News markets the Sunday night program as exploring “the impact of the populist movement.”

All of which makes life complicated for Mr. Hilton in overwhelmingly liberal Silicon Valley, where supporters of President Trump are nearly nonexistent and few think populism would improve their lives.

For the past five years, Mr. Hilton has been quietly building a new life in Atherton, raising his two children with Ms. Whetstone, writing about how he has given up his cellphone, hosting annual Cinco de Mayo parties and tending a large flock of pet chickens (his favorite is a brown hen named Hermione). Last year, he published a United States version of his book, “More Human,” about the need for a populist revolution in government and business, and wrote favorably about Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton.

He can be a brilliant political strategist or tech guy or TV host, but he knows shit about microbiology. You see a cute chick, I see a Salmonella factory: 372 sick so far this year.

Who wants to market lousy food: Food safety and promotion, yes they go together

Ron Doering, the creator of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and its first president, writes in this column for Food in Canada that, in a recent column I wrote on the occasion of the 20th birthday of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), I proudly concluded that the CFIA had mostly met its original objectives. Since then I have received several responses from industry leaders suggesting I was overly generous in my assessment. Several responses focused particularly on one complaint: that too many at the CFIA seemed to have forgotten that in addition to its primary role to protect the health and safety of Canadians, the CFIA also has a clear legislative mandate to help the commercial linterests of Canadian industry.

From the very beginning of the 1995 consultations with industry, all sectors expressed grave concern that while con­solidating 16 programs delivered by four different departments might promote efficiency and effectiveness and provide a single point of contact for consumers, industry and the provinces, such consolida­tion might also result in an erosion of the longstanding understanding that while safe food was the overarching priority, all programs also had an important role in promoting the commercial health of the various sectors. To answer this fear, we changed the draft legislation to specify that the minister responsible for the CFIA would be the minister of Agriculture, and we built right into the legislation that the CFIA’s mandate included the “promotion of trade and commerce.” Without this solemn promise to industry, it’s unlikely that the CFIA would have been created.

Of course, except in situations where consumer health and safety is threatened, such as in a case of an outbreak of foodborne illness, inspecting for safe food and promoting market access are not conflicting objectives. The most important marketing advantage for the Canadian food industry is Canada’s repu­tation for safe food and the credibility of our rigorous regulatory system. Putting the whole food chain — seeds, feeds, fertilizer, plant protection, animal health, and all food commodities including fish — under the same umbrella agency created a real opportunity for a more comprehensive and focused approach to promoting international market access for Canadian products. Moreover, still unique in the world, we would have one agency to negotiate equivalency agree­ments and other arrangements for access. Many products can only be exported if they first receive CFIA certification. That is how we export food, plants and animals to over 100 countries, usually without re-inspection.

After raising this issue in my speech at the recent annual meeting of the Canadian Meat Council, many participants confirmed the problem and stressed that it has been seriously worsening in the last three years since the Conservative govern­ment changed the primary reporting relationship of the CFIA to the minister of Health. One industry leader insisted that it was obvious that since then “the CFIA is giving less time, resources and attention to industry’s commercial needs.” Another reported that “most CFIA inspectors now seem to think their sole job is consumer protection, and market access is just not part of their job.” Another added that “increasingly, and particularly in the last few years, the culture of the CFIA is that they’re in the public health business; the health of the industry is none of their concern.”

There is a great deal of talk these days about the potential for Canada to be an agri-food powerhouse. Canadians can’t eat much more food, so the key is to increase exports. Our industry is up to the task, but the agri-food business (unlike many other industry sectors) cannot even begin to achieve its potential unless the government does its job to:

  1. Provide a clear, responsive and well implemented regulatory system that will serve to improve competitiveness, enhance investment and promote innovation; and
  2. Remind the CFIA that it is also its responsibility to help industry gain greater market access and then adequately resource this function.

Meat industry leaders tell me that they have already met the new CFIA president and stressed the need to change attitudes and to reinvigorate the market access function. This is a good start, but real progress will require a united and sustained push.