60 days don’t mean shit: 1 dead, 28 sick from E. coli O157:H7 in raw milk cheese, Canada, 2013

Between 12 July and 29 September 2013, 29 individuals in five Canadian provinces became ill following infection with the same strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7 as defined by molecular typing results. Five case patients were hospitalized, and one died.

Twenty-six case patients (90%) reported eating Gouda cheese originating from a dairy plant in British Columbia. All of the 22 case patients with sufficient product details available reported consuming Gouda cheese made with raw milk; this cheese had been produced between March and July 2013 and was aged for a minimum of 60 days. The outbreak strain was isolated from the implicated Gouda cheese, including one core sample obtained from an intact cheese wheel 83 days after production.

The findings indicate that raw milk was the primary source of the E. coli O157:H7, which persisted through production and the minimum 60-day aging period. This outbreak is the third caused by E. coli O157:H7 traced to Gouda cheese made with raw milk in North America.

These findings provide further evidence that a 60-day ripening period cannot ensure die-off of pathogens that might be present in raw milk Gouda cheese after production and have triggered an evaluation of processing conditions, physicochemical parameters, and options to mitigate the risk of E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with raw milk Gouda cheese produced in Canada.

Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections linked to aged raw milk gouda cheese, Canada, 2013

Andrea Currie, Eleni Galanis, Pedro Chacon, Regan Murray, Lynn Wilcott, Paul Kirkby, Lance Honish, Kristyn Franklin, Jeff Farber, Rob Parker, Sion Shyng, Davendra Sharma, Lorelee Tschetter, Linda Hoang, Linda Chui, Ana Pacagnella, Julie Wong, Jane Pritchard, Ashley Kerr, Marsha Taylor, Victor Mah, and James Flint

Journal of Food Protection, vol. 81, No. 2, 2018, pg. 325-331

doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-283

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29369688

Restaurant closed due to a cockroach infestation

I have always been curious to see what others thought on the following:
How many chances should the Health Department give a food service/retail establishment that has been chronically shut down before permanently having their business license rescinded?
I’m not talking about the minor violations that are encountered during a routine inspection, more of the deliberate critical infractions that can severely impact public health. As practicing food safety professionals, where do we draw the line? Inspections are a snap shop in time and food safety resonates upon behaviors for positive change. But what do we do with those select few places that simply don’t care and abide by the mentality that if I am fined, well it’s the cost of doing business? I’ve heard this and I’m sure others have as well. I would love to hear what Barfblog readers have to say regarding this matter.

A vile cockroach-infested restaurant has been shut down after revolting insects were discovered throughout the dilapidated building.
The pests were found hiding in the fridge door seal, preventing it from closing properly, and crawling around exposed foods, food containers and over kitchen surfaces.
Guildford Magistrates’ Court heard stomach-turning evidence of how owner Amjad Parvez Butt had been seen coughing over food, then failing to use soap when washing his hands.
Mr Butt was charged with seven counts of food safety and hygiene regulations contravention, all of which he pleaded guilty to.
Under routine inspection on June 27 last year, an environmental health officer from Rushmoor Borough Council visited the Lali Gurash Nepalese restaurant in Aldershot.
In the initial report, read to the court on Wednesday (February 14), the officer said: “When I arrived, I witnessed Mr Butt coughing while preparing food – he then washed his hands without using soap.”
The general first impression was that Mr Butt was not preparing food safely and an in depth inspection began.
After examining the fridge, it became apparent the door would not close properly due to a number of cockroaches living within the door seal.
The officer also noticed the building had structural damage, including a hole in the wall, through which clear daylight could be seen and gaps in the flooring near the waste pipes.
Further evidence of insect activity was discovered in the basement, around food preparation areas and in the proximity of exposed onions and potatoes.
During the inspection it also became apparent that Mr Butt had not been filling in the mandatory safer food, better business (SFBB) checks that RBC enforces, with the last entry filed more than five weeks prior to the visit.
The restaurant was closed and Mr Butt was ordered to arrange for a pest control team to install traps throughout the building.
A few days later, officers returned to discover a full life cycle of cockroaches in the traps, indicating that they had been present in the area for a minimum of six weeks.
Officers consistently monitored the progress of the restaurant until July 20, when, in the absence of any infestation, it was deemed acceptable for re-opening.
During the scheduled three-month re-visit, Mr Butt was asked to produce his SFBB documents, which he was unable to do, and the restaurant was once again closed.
In court, with the assistance of a translator, he explained that he was unable to read and write and claimed that his daughter was going to complete the checks for him but was away on holiday at the time.
The 53-year-old said: “When I first noticed the cockroaches I bought some spray and contacted pest control but they never got back to me.
“When I was told to close the restaurant and destroy the food, I did.
“I have lost a lot of profit and it is the first time this has happened – I ask for forgiveness.”

The rest of the story can be found here

New class of antibiotics may be capable of killing superbugs

When I was younger my mother got me a job in a hospital as a nurse’s aide while I finished my studies at university. As part of my duties I had to ensure patients that had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were well taken care of. I was in my second year of University at that time and was vaguely familiar with this bug. Then came vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE).
I left.

Anne Stych of Biz Women reports

Scientists studying microorganisms living in soil have discovered a new class of antibiotics that could kill deadly superbugs without triggering resistance.
The discovery leads researchers to believe there’s “a reservoir of antibiotics in the environment we haven’t accessed yet,” said Sean Brady, an associate professor at Rockefeller University in New York, who led the study.
The research, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, said the newly-discovered antibiotics kill superbugs including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a potentially deadly infection that is resistant to several antibiotics.
A team led by Brady discovered the new class of antibiotics, called malacidins, while cloning and sequencing DNA from microorganisms in soil samples contributed by people across the United States, The Washington Post reported.
They were looking for microorganisms with a known gene that acts as an “on/off” switch and makes it more difficult for microbes to develop antibiotic resistance, per the Post.
The World Health Organization (WHO) last month called antibiotic resistance a “serious situation” worldwide in both low-income and high-income countries.
The organization’s research showed that resistance to commonly-used antibiotics varied widely among the 22 reporting countries, with resistance to penicillin in bacterial pneumonia cases ranging from zero to 51 percent, while E coli bacteria antibiotic resistance levels ranged from 8 percent to 65.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year at least 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. At least 23,000 people die as a direct result, while many more die of conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Worldwide, deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections are predicted to reach10 million a year by 2050, per the Post.
“Some of the world’s most common — and potentially most dangerous — infections are proving drug-resistant,“ said Dr . Marc Sprenger, director of the WHO Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat. “And most worrying of all, pathogens don’t respect national borders. That’s why WHO is encouraging all countries to set up good surveillance systems for detecting drug resistance that can provide data to this global system.”
Researchers said although the discovery is promising and reveals the untapped biodiversity of our ecosystem, it will take years for the new class of antibiotics to be developed for practical use.

 

Food Safety Talk 145: Cold Pizza for Breakfast

Don and Ben start this episode chatting about MacBook Pros (the computers, not the users) and closed Facebook groups with canning advice. Discussion went to a LifeHacker question of the day related to eating leftover pizza that wasn’t refrigerated. The guys talk about insights in academia, government and the food industry and how just degrees and training don’t make food good food safety; that experience and critical thinking matter. The show ends with a chat on leftover rice, overnight oatmeal and making podcasts.

Episode 145 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Poop baked into a pizza at a Little Caesars restaurant in Indiana

Poop, probably not a pizza topping you would order. An Indiana woman noticed what appeared to be mice poop baked into her pizza at a Little Caesars restaurant.

Fox 4 reports

A Little Caesars restaurant near downtown Indianapolis is back open, after health inspectors shut it down Tuesday after receiving a couple’s complaint of rat or mice droppings baked into their pizza, according to WXIN.
Johnathan McNeil said he and his girlfriend bought a pizza at the establishment near the intersection of 22nd St. and Meridian St., but on the way home she noticed something was amiss.
“She looked at the pizza and realized there was, like, doo-doo looking stuff on the pizza,” said McNeil.
McNeil said he returned to the restaurant to demand an explanation.
“All of them were looking at my pizza dumbfounded as if they didn’t know what’s going on,” said McNeil. “I said ‘That’s mouse doo-doo on the bottom of my pizza.’”
McNeil said he called police who arrived on the scene and suggested he contact the Marion County Health Department.

Not sure why the police were called in.

An inspector initiated an emergency inspection, which resulted in the business license being suspended.
“We did find that there were rodent droppings and violations that warranted us doing a license suspension,” said Janelle Kaufman with the Marion County Health Department.
Upon a follow-up inspection the next morning, Kaufman said the problems had been corrected.
“They cooperated with us, they worked with us … they cleaned everything they needed to do,” said Kaufman.
Inspection reports show the restaurant has been doing battle with mice since at least last August. The store was cited four times since then, before being given the all-clear on October 3, 2017. However, the store was never closed.
Health officials said with only seventeen inspectors to cover about 4600 county restaurants, they rely on diners to be their eyes and ears.
“When they call and let us know what they see, it’s so helpful to us,” said Kaufman, “any restaurant can benefit from another inspection.”
McNeil hopes other diners will learn from his experience.
“I just want people to check their food and be very cautious about what they’re eating,” said McNeil.
Managers at the store declined to comment. WXIN reached out for comment from the restaurant’s corporate franchise owner, but did not immediately heard back.
Restaurant inspection reports are not posted until 10 days after they are conducted, however a restaurant’s cumulative inspection history can be found online.

 

Concerns raised about young people’s poor food safety knowledge as the academic year begins, Australian version

This is not surprising and with the amount of conflicting food safety information disseminated on the web, T.V., what are we to expect? It would be interesting to find out how many educational institutions teach food safety at school. There appears to be a significant push towards eating healthier which is great but is food safety discussed? When I moved out from my parents place, the last thing on my mind was food safety; as long as I had something to eat I was happy and looking back I took risks. I had the privilege of attending some prestigious schools during my youth, yet food safety was never discussed.
The Food Safety Information Council along with their member Cater Care are developing a poster highlighting food safety tips for young adults. I am not confident this will change anything, although I commend them for their efforts. Need to be more compelling and find innovative ways to grasp the attention of a young adult, a poster won’t do.

Scimex reports:

There are peaks of Campylobacter and Salmonella food poisoning cases among those aged between 20 and 25 years old, which is the age that many young people leave home for the first time. Food Safety Information Council consumer research shows young people are likely to have poorer knowledge of food safety basics such as washing hands, correct cooking temperatures, riskier foods and fridge safety. This is of particular concern as one of the part time jobs that young people are likely to take is working as a food handler.
Organisation/s: Food Safety Information Council
Media Release
From: Food Safety Information Council
As the academic year begins, the Food Safety Information Council, together with their member Cater Care, have launched a food safety tips poster for young people leaving home to start university and college.
Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said that young people are at risk of getting food poisoning.
‘While the highest recorded rates of Campylobacter and Salmonella cases are among small children under 5 years old there is also a peak for those aged between 20 and 25 years old which is the age group that many young people leave home for the first time.
‘Our consumer research shows young people are likely to have poorer knowledge of food safety basics such as washing hands, correct cooking temperatures, riskier foods and fridge safety. This is of particular concern as one of the part time jobs that young people are likely to take is working as a food handler.
‘Students also tend to live in shared accommodation where the hygiene of the communal kitchen and fridge is easily neglected. There are an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year and a case of gastro can seriously ruin the fun of those first few months away from home.
‘By following these five simple tips, you can help ensure that you, and people you cook for, are safe from food poisoning:
CLEAN – wash hands with soap and running water before handling food, wash the dishes regularly and keep the kitchen clean
CHILL – keep the fridge at 5°C or below and clean it out regularly. Bring your takeaway straight home and refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours and use or freeze them within 3 days
COOK – cook poultry or minced products to 75°C in the centre, be aware of the risk of raw or minimally cooked egg dishes.
SEPARATE – prevent cross contamination especially between raw meat or poultry and other foods that won’t be cooked like salads
DON’T COOK FOR OTHERS IF YOU HAVE GASTRO – you could make them sick too so ask someone else to cook or get a takeaway.
‘The Food Safety Information Council would like to thanks our member Cater Care for developing this poster which can be downloaded here, ’ Ms Williams concluded.

 

Breastfeeding is best

My wife is a champ; she breast fed both of our boys exclusively. My wife is a professional dancer so she keeps in great shape but sometimes this can be challenging when you’re raising 2 young kids. I recall this one time I came home from work to find my wife doing push-ups and breastfeeding at the same time-incredible, she is my hero.

The New York Times reports:

Many studies have strongly suggested that the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the human body influence our current and future health and may account for the rising incidence of several serious medical conditions now plaguing Americans, young and old.
The research indicates that cesarean deliveries and limited breast-feeding can distort the population of microorganisms in a baby’s gut and may explain the unchecked rise of worrisome health problems in children and adults, including asthma, allergies, celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes and obesity. These conditions, among others, are more likely to occur when an infant’s gut has been inadequately populated by health-promoting bacteria.
A growing number of researchers and consumers are now paying more attention to where it all begins, especially how this huge population of microbes in our bodies, called the microbiome, is affected, for good or bad, by how babies are born and nourished.
As this still-evolving information trickles down to prospective mothers, it could — and perhaps should — lead to profound changes in obstetrics, pediatrics and parenting. The two most important would be fewer scheduled cesarean deliveries and more mothers breast-feeding exclusively for six months to enhance the kinds and amounts of bacteria that inhabit an infant’s gut.

These organisms perform important functions that include digesting unused nutrients, producing vitamins, stimulating normal immune development, countering harmful bacteria and fostering maturation of the gut.
A disruption in one or more of these functions can lead to serious, sometimes lifelong, health problems. If, for example, gut maturation is impaired or delayed, some experts believe undigested proteins could leak into the bloodstream and trigger an allergy or gluten intolerance, or an impaired immune system could result in an autoimmune disorder like Type 1 diabetes, juvenile arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
Babies are exposed to some organisms in utero, but the organisms encountered during birth and the first months of life have the greatest influence on those that become permanent residents in their guts. Recent studies have shown that both a vaginal birth and exclusive breast-feeding can significantly affect the kinds and numbers of their gut microbes and the risk of developing various health problems.

The rest of the story can be found here

Scientists discover how Giardia makes people ill

One of my favorite pastimes is to go camping with the family and enjoy nature….in a cabin. I’m getting too old to tent and contend with the mosquitoes and bears. One thing is for sure, I avoid drinking water that hasn’t been treated due to the potential risk of parasites, in particular, Giardia.

BBC News reports

Now scientists say they have discovered how the parasites that cause giardiasis – one of the world’s most common gastric diseases – make people ill.
Giardia parasites mimic human cell functions to break apart cells in the gut and feed inside, researchers found.
This also allows bacteria already present in the body to join in and feed from the same nutrients, they said.
‘Ready meals’
Some 500,000 cases of giardiasis are diagnosed each year, with people typically picking up the disease by drinking infected water or contaminated food.
Symptoms include severe diarrhoea, stomach pains, bloating, flatulence and fatigue and can last weeks or months without treatment.
Although it is found throughout the world, it is most prevalent in developing countries and is one of the most common gastric diseases caught by backpackers.
But although scientists have known of giardia’s existence for hundreds of years, until now it remained unclear how it makes people sick.
Giardia parasites are picked up in infected water or contaminated food, usually in developing countries. 
Researchers found the giardia parasite produces two types of protein that enable it to cut through layers of protective mucus in the gut – breaking the links that knit cells together – in order to easily access the nutrients within them.
One of the proteins does this by mimicking a group of human proteins called tenascins, which regulate cell adhesion and break apart when necessary, such as during wound healing.
But the giardia tenascins are used instead to upset the body’s balance by preventing healing of the junctions between cells that hold them together.
One of the study’s authors, Dr Kevin Tyler, from UEA’s Norwich medical school, said: “Because the giardia have broken down the cell barriers and made all these nutrients available, other, opportunistic bacteria can move in to take advantage of these ‘ready meals’ which can make giardiasis even more severe for some.”
‘Bad bacteria’
Those suffering from giardiasis are usually able to recover from the illness with or without antibiotics.
However, about half of those who get the parasite experience no symptoms of the illness.
Dr Tyler said the difference in the severity of disease might be explained by the proportion of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut.
Those who become more ill may have a higher proportion of “bad bacteria” feeding off nutrients released by the giardia parasite, Dr Tyler said.
Dr Tyler told the BBC: “Some people have a gut that is predominantly full of quite good bacteria that doesn’t cause inflammation and illness and indeed may protect from it.
“What we think is that in people who have the bad bacteria, the pro-inflammatory bacteria, those start to use the nutrients that have been unleashed by the giardia.
“The giardia does the damage, allowing the nutrients to flow into the gut, and then if you have the wrong kind of bacteria you get this cycle of inflammation.”
This is why probiotic drinks and supplements – which populate the gut with good bacteria – are helpful in treating giardiasis, he said.
The study was published in the journal GigaScience.
How to avoid giardiasis
When abroad make sure to drink filtered or bottled water
Practice good hygiene
Avoid eating food that may be contaminated
Avoid water (drinking or recreational) that may be contaminated
Clean up after ill people and pets

 

Lettuce grazers rejoice: Consumer Reports says it’s ok to eat romaine lettuce again

Actually, it was the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who jointly declared an end to the E coli O157 outbreak after nearly two months of investigation. At least 66 people across the U.S and Canada became ill, 22 were hospitalized, and 2 died during November and December, all linked to consumption of romaine lettuce.

Consumer Reports went along for the ride.

What’s been missing is any response from the leafy greens marketing agency types.

Silence – the LGMA cone of silence — is golden, I guess.

CDC announced on January 25, 2018, that this outbreak appears to be over, because the last case became ill on December 12, 2017. This indicates that the food causing illness is no longer available in the marketplace or consumers’ homes.

Although this outbreak appears to be over, the FDA’s outbreak investigation team is continuing to work with federal, state and local partners to determine what leafy greens made people ill, what people ate, where they bought it, and identify the distribution chain — all with the goal of identifying any common food or points where the food might have become contaminated. To date, no common link has been identified.

Because whole genome sequencing showed that the E. coli O157:H7 strain that resulted in the U.S. illnesses was closely related genetically to the strain that caused illnesses in Canada, the FDA and CDC have been in contact with Canadian food safety authorities throughout this outbreak.

 

Food Safety Talk 144: They Look and Taste Like Green Turds

The guys jumped right into the food safety talk this week with a discussion of the Jimmy John’s sprout outbreak. From there the conversation turns to a whole lot of listener questions and feedback: Instant Pot, more on edible gold and silver, the safety of pots left on the stove as well as refrigerator leftovers, fiddleheads, proper spatula use, burger temperatures, and food safety gadgets. There’s a little bit of popular culture talk right at the end. Below are show notes so you can follow along at home.

Episode 144 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home: