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. »

Norovirus at the hotel California

As I gracefully age, I realize a few truths: my brain can’t take any more hits to the head, my childhood buddy Wayne will always be a better hockey player than me, and the Eagles suck.

I had one of those grade 10 English teachers who made us analyze contemporary music lyrics as poetry so he and his beard could sleep while students offered daft analysis (and lesbian seagull played while we meditated).

Some kid did Hotel California and got an A. I did Led Zeppelin’s Kasmir because it went on forever and meant nothing.

I got a D.

Adam Racusin of 10 News reports a group of people in the health care industry are suing the world famous Hotel del Coronado.

A lawsuit filed last week claims nearly 90 people got sick after attending a dining event at the hotel.

According to the suit, several of the attendees were confirmed to have been infected with norovirus.

The suit claims “an investigation by the California Department of Public Health confirmed that the source of the norovirus outbreak was a dessert table containing food items that were prepared, served, and monitored by defendants in accordance with the contract between Defendants and Healthgrades.”

The dining event was part of a three-day symposium sponsored by Healthgrades, an online site for information about physicians and hospitals.

45 sick: Norovirus outbreak linked to Hawaiian restaurant

One of Waikiki’s newest restaurants underwent a thorough cleaning after several diners got sick.

Herringbone Waikiki voluntarily closed Thursday after a string of illnesses was traced back to the restaurant.

A sign on the door read, “Unfortunately we will not open this evening and apologize for any inconvenience.”

The Hawaii Department of Health says it’s an outbreak of norovirus, which is a foodborne illness.

So far, up to 45 people have fallen ill, and officials say that number will rise.

According to a department report posted online, on Saturday, Oct. 7, at around 11:30 a.m, “three customers ordered and shared the toss salad. All three showed symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.”

On Monday, diners who got sick called Herringbone and the health department.

An inspector was dispatched Tuesday and observed good personal hygiene practices. No employees were sick.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK E. coli cheesemaker edition

Jane Bradley of the Scotsman reports an artisan cheesemaker which is embroiled in a court case with food hygiene authorities after being forced to withdraw its products amid an outbreak of E.coli which killed a three year old girl, has been named one of Britain’s top cheese producers in an industry awards ceremony.

Errington Cheeses, which is awaiting a court date against South Lanarkshire Council, which ordered the manufacturer to stop production of its raw milk cheeses amid an investigation following the outbreak of the food poisoning bug last summer, was given runner up in the Best Artisan Producer category at the Great British Cheese Awards. The Lanarkshire-based business also came runner up in the category of Best Blue Cheese for its Lanark Blue cheese, at the awards at Marcus Wareing’s Gilbert Scott restaurant in London, hosted by food website Great British Chefs.

The company is currently only making one type of cheese – made from ewe’s milk – pending its court case against South Lanarkshire Council. Owner Humphrey Errington, who launched the firm in 1985, has insisted that his cheese is not the source of the food poisoning outbreak – which saw 19 people hospitalised – and has claimed that the authorities, including Food Standards Scotland, are trying to curb production of raw milk cheese. A Just Giving campaign launched to help Errington cover its legal costs, raised £34,000 from supporters. Twitter user Artisan Food wrote: “Chefs vote of confidence @ErringtonCheese Resilience in face of harassment/bias/ignorance.” In March, an official report from Health Protection Scotland into the E.coli outbreak claimed that Errington’s Dunsyre Blue was the source of the bacteria.

2 sick with E. coli O157:H7 from Vermont’s Bread & Butter Farm

Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC, a Ferrisburg, Vt., establishment, is recalling approximately 133 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef was produced on July 24 and 25, 2017.  The following products are subject to recall:

* 1-lb. vacuum sealed packages containing “Bread & Butter Farm Ground Beef” with lot codes #072517BNB and #072417BNB.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 9558” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were sold at Bread & Butter farm in Shelburne, Vt. (I could write a book about the BS in the pic, above; maybe I will).

On September 30, 2017, FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FSIS determined the cooked beef burgers that were served at an event at Bread & Butter Farm was the probable source of the reported illnesses. Based on the epidemiological investigation, two case-patients were identified in Vermont with illness onset dates ranging from September 18, 2017, to September 23, 2017. Traceback information indicated that both case-patients consumed ground beef products at Bread & Butter Farm which was supplied by Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing. Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC is recalling the products out of an abundance of caution. FSIS continues to work with public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

4 stricken with E. coli O157 in Norway

Since August 2017, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has found the same variant of the bacterium E. coli O157: H7 in 4 persons.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health was informed in mid-August 2017 of a child with E. coli O157: H7 infection that developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and was a resident of Møre og Romsdal. In addition, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has detected the same bacterial strain in 3 adults with diarrhea symptoms living in Hedmark, Buskerud and Hordaland.

“We have good procedures on how we monitor infection with EHEC infection,” says Director General Line Vold at the Institute of Public Health. We collaborate with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the municipal authorities and the Veterinary Institute. Depending on the need, interviews are conducted by the sick, as well as possible sampling in relevant foods and close contacts. Since the patients reside in different counties, the investigation of the outbreak is coordinated by the National Institute of Public Health.

“None of the investigations around these cases have so far revealed any common source of infection. This work takes time and is complicated. It is not always possible to find the source of infection, ” says Line Vold.

‘It’d be better for me if you don’t understand’ Dorking sandwich shop has ‘no understanding’ of food contamination

A sandwich shop in Dorking has been criticised for having “no understanding” of food contamination after staff failed to wash their hands after touching raw meat on multiple occasions.

Sam Truelove of Get Surrey writes that Jax, in South Street, was inspected on May 24 by a Mole Valley District Councilofficer on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The café and takeaway, which sells a variety of sandwiches, rolls and baguettes, received a food hygiene rating of one – the second lowest possible – which means “major improvement” is necessary.

The damning details of the report have been released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and show that major concerns were raised over the potential cross contamination and cleanliness of the eatery.

The hygiene officer even sent staff to buy chemical disinfectant during her visit.

The report said: “[Staff] handle a lot of raw meat in a small area – no sanitiser or understanding of cross contamination.”

It adds: “No hand washing seen after handling raw meat or shell eggs even after being told to wash hands.”

According to the latest information on the FSA’s website, Jax, which is open between 8am and 3pm, is still judged to have a rating of one for its food hygiene, and is still failing to meet two of the key areas assessed by the inspector.

Everyone’s got a camera (or a story): UK KFC edition involving a rat

KFC outlet was forced to close after a rat ran though a chip service area, prompting a staff member to scream and customers to yell “there’s a rat,” a mother claims.

Chris Knight of the UK Mirror reports the rat, allegedly darted through the chips and quickly disappeared from sight under the fryer.

The Wallsend branch on High Street West was quickly closed temporarily as the fast-food giant scrambled on the “rat issue” the council have confirmed.

Sam, 21, from Wallsend, said: “The rat literally ran across where they put the chips in a bag.

“The woman behind the counter started screaming, and everyone started shouting ‘there’s a rat’.

“Everyone behind the counter was just shocked as we all were.

“They were just stood there scared.

“The floor was absolutely filthy – there would not be a rat if it was clear area, it was absolutely disgusting.

“I’m just happy I didn’t get given my food before, I would have ended up being sick.”

Refunds were issued to customers before all guests including Sam, partner James Butcher and newborn son Tommy, were ushered out as the restaurant closed its doors at about 6pm on October 4, Chronicle Live reports.

Mum-of-one Sam said: “I heard six hours later it was re-opened, which I think is really bad.

“You hear about rats carrying diseases, so why would you re-open that day?

“Even if it came from outside, you should not have a rat in a food restaurant.

“Now this has happened, I will never go back.”

A North Tyneside Council spokesman confirmed KFC contacted Environmental Health and called in pest control before re-opening that evening.

The spokesman said: “KFC proactively informed Environmental Health on October 4 of the appropriate and timely actions they had taken to resolve the rat issue.

“The company closed the premise immediately, disposed of all food on display and called in a pest control contractor.

“A food safety officer visited the premise to confirm that there was no rat activity and that appropriate preventative measures had been taken.”

KFC is yet to comment despite requests.

 

Frozen spinach recalled in Italy, possible mandrake contamination

Something is probably lost in translation. But as reported by Repubblica Milano and translated in ProMed, a batch of Bonduelle brand frozen spinach was removed from the market.

The decision of the company, which produces the food in question at a Spanish plant in Navarre, came after a warning from the Ministry of Health. “The product should not be consumed — reads in the recall — due to a suspected presence of mandrake leaves.”

The withdrawal concerns production batch 15986504-7222 45M63 08:29 whose 750g bags have an expiration date of August 2019.

On 30 Sep 2017, an entire family was admitted to the Fatebenefratelli hospital in Milan after eating a pack of frozen spinach bought at the supermarket. A 60-year-old man, a 55-year-old woman, and their children, 18 and 16 years old, ended up at the first aid unit because they showed mental confusion and amnesia of various degrees of severity.

The AST [local health authority] analyses have determined that the clinical picture is compatible with contamination of the original product with mandrake, a grass that can invade fields of edible vegetable crops. The leaves of mandrake, thought to be magical in antiquity, are actually poisonous.

The company issued a clarification in the evening. “There is no information — the statement reads — that permits the attribution of mandrake leaf contamination of our products.” Bonduelle — adds the note — is issuing the recall of some of the product ‘Spinaci Millefoglie Bonduelle’ as a precautionary measure.”

3 with HUS linked to raw milk on Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight, known to most Western kids as the home of a groovy rock and jazz festival, is now home to three people have a potentially fatal kidney condition following an outbreak of E. coli which has been linked to unpasteurised milk from a farm.

Three Isle of Wight patients are being treated in hospital for hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of E. coli that can lead to kidney failure.

Another four people affected by the bacteria have made a good recovery, Public Health England said.

The source has been traced to Briddlesford Lodge Farm near Newport.

Dr Ishani Kar-Purkayastha from Public Health England said the raw milk had been removed from sale.

“We are asking anyone who has raw milk purchased from Briddlesford Farm on, or before Monday, 25 September 2017, to either return it to the farm or dispose of it,” he said.

In a statement, the farm said: “We are especially concerned about the well-being of those affected by this bug, and we wish them and their families every good fortune at this terrible time.”

The outbreak has been identified as the E. coli 0157 strain, which caused the death of a three-year-old child in Scotland in 2016.

 

Eggs are going to have Salmonella in ways we can’t predict, because we are mere mortals: Brits say, we know better

On the same day that Australia celebrated national egg day with vid-clips of schoolchildren pronouncing their love of eggs, the UK Food Standards Authority says it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

These are both so wrong on so many levels.

The UK’s contribution to international cuisine has been mushy peas and mad cow disease.

The UK Food Standards Authority’s contribution to food policy has been cook your food until it is piping hot, and now, it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

With five daughters, I’ve spent a lot of time around pregnant women, they may feel like Rocky Balboa, but biology don’t work that way.

The Food Standards Agency has announced a change to its advice about eating eggs – infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The revised advice, based on the latest scientific evidence, means that people vulnerable to infection or who are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning (such as infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people) can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or foods containing them.

We had previously advised that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs, because eggs may contain salmonella bacteria which can cause serious illness.  

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in February 2015 to look at egg safety. Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted that the presence of salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years, and the risks are very low for eggs which have been produced according to food safety controls applied by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It’s good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hardboil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark. The FSA has thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, and we’re confident that we can now change our advice to consumers.

“The major reduction in the risk of salmonella in Lion eggs is testament to the work carried out by egg producers. The measures they’ve taken, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced salmonella levels in UK hens.”

A range of interventions have been put in place across the food chain as part of the Lion scheme including: vaccinating hens, enhanced testing for salmonella, improved farm hygiene, effective rodent control, independent auditing and traceability, and keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop.

Great. Show us mere mortals the numbers.

And any science-based body that recommends cooking food until it is piping hot is seriously suspect.

Egg farmer David Brass says the introduction of the British Lion standard has made all the difference.

“We know from back in the ’80s when all the scare started, there was an issue with eggs.

“But what the Lion standard does, it is a fully independent, audited code of practice to make sure we have standards on the farm that make sure we can’t have any of those disease problems again.

“And it has shown time after time, in those intervening years, that it is just a brilliant food safety code.”

Yup, audits make the difference (not).

This won’t end well.

In Australia, the morning shows were filled with fluff about the greatness of eggs, with no mention of the following outbreaks involving raw eggs or raw-egg sauces.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx