Food fraud: Mexican alcohol edition

To my four Canadian daughters: Pay attention.

Tourists to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico suspect they were given tainted alcohol.

Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes the scene at the swim-up bar at the Mexican resort where Abbey Conner was pulled listless from the pool in January was full of young tourists last month when an attorney hired by Conner’s family showed up.

It wasn’t surprising. It was a typical scene at an all-inclusive five-star resort where foreigners from both sides of the equator flock to escape their cold winters.

But as he watched, the attorney noticed something disturbing.

“They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,” he wrote in his native Spanish.

That single paragraph, buried near the end of a four-page report summarizing how 20-year-old Conner drowned within a couple hours of arriving at the Iberostar Hotel & Resorts’ Paraiso del Mar, offers a possible lead in the investigation into her death.

And it could shed light on the circumstances surrounding numerous reports from others who have told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they experienced sickness, blackouts and injuries after drinking at Iberostar and other resorts around Cancun and Playa del Carmen in recent months.

A Pewaukee family traveled to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen in January. Their two college kids wound up unconscious, face down in the pool within two hours. Twenty-year-old Abbey died.

They told the Journal Sentinel they believe they were drugged or the alcohol may have been tainted. They questioned how they could fall into a stupor so quickly. And whether they had been targeted.

Not the Sopranos: Police in Europe break up network selling illegal horse meat

Raphael Minder of The New York Times reports police in Europe have dismantled a criminal network that was selling horse meat across the Continent that was “not suitable for consumption,” arresting 66 people as part of a four-year investigation prompted by the discovery in Ireland of horse meat in burgers sold as beef.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said on Sunday that all but one of the arrests had been made in Spain. But the Spanish police said in a separate statement that their part of the investigation had accounted for “a small portion of a network stretching across the whole of Europe, under the control of a Dutch citizen.”

The Dutch citizen, who has not been publicly identified and was taken into custody in April in Belgium, was described in a Europol statement as the leader of a criminal gang that had acquired horses on the Iberian Peninsula that were judged to be “in bad shape, too old or simply labeled as ‘not suitable for consumption.’ ”

The animals’ meat was processed and sent to Belgium, one of the European Union’s biggest exporters of horse meat, and the criminal organization modified the animals’ microchips and documentation to facilitate the fraudulent export, the statement said.

The Pan-European investigation began after a scandal over horse meat in burgers in Ireland in 2013, and it was widened to other European countries as dishes like frozen lasagna labeled as containing beef were found to have horse meat.

In addition to the arrests, the Spanish police said on Sunday that they had seized property and luxury cars, and that they had frozen bank accounts. The police in Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland also carried out interventions, according to Europol, although the statement did not provide details.

Thermometers, cats and the UK Food Standards Agency: Piping hot for the world?

I watched our veterinarian stick a thermometer into the ass of our cat(s) the other day while they were getting vaccinated for feline immunodeficiency virus (because they’ve now become outside roaming cats).

They didn’t care.

The UK Food Standards Agency is bragging that one of its own, Steve Wearne, got elected to the Codex Alimentarius Commission as vice-chair.

That’s an impressive bureaucratic achievement.

UK Food Minister George Eustice bubbled that, “The appointment of Steve Wearne to this important leadership role is testament to the strength and reputation of the UK’s food quality and safety standards. 

“This is a great opportunity to bring the UK’s renowned expertise to the table as the committee continues to pioneer global policy for food safety – increasing consumer confidence in the food we eat around the world.”

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the FSA said: ‘Steve’s appointment is a real vote of confidence in the UK’s leadership in modern, accountable food regulation. I’m delighted that he and the FSA will be taking such a significant role in setting the standards for food globally.’

I’m not.

This is an agency that ignores science and continues to tell consumers to cook things until they are piping hot, apparently because consumers are too low on the British caste system to understand how a thermometer works.

My cats know how thermometers work.

Sensible Swedes: Court rules coop grocery chain ‘misled’ consumers by claiming organic food safer, healthier

Kavin Senapathy of the Genetic Literacy Project writes the makers of the viral 2015 “Organic Effect” video, which claimed that switching to an all organic diet can eliminate pesticides from the body, are no longer allowed to promote the video or its claims, ruled the Swedish Patent and Market Court on July 3rd following three days of hearings in mid-May.

The Coop chain of Swedish grocery stores must not use the video or make unsubstantiated claims about organic and conventional food or pay a fine of one million Swedish Krona (about $120,000 USD). The Swedish Crop Protection Association (“Svenskt Växtskydd”), a trade association of nine Swedish crop protection companies, filed the lawsuit [in 2016], citing misleading and inaccurate advertisement.

The “Organic Effect” video … totally [omits] the crucial fact that organic farming does use pesticides, albeit different than the ones used in conventional agriculture. Even though the pesticides used in organic farming tend to be naturally derived, whether a substance is synthetic or natural in origin, in and of itself, has no bearing on its toxicity or environmental impact.

Further, as Switzerland-based biologist Iida Ruishalme pointed out at her Thoughtscapism blog, the video left out information that conflicted with the video’s shaky pro-organic assertions.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis.

See the crap below.

Kid slides through poop at McDonald’s play area

About once a month we take our kids to a local fast food place that my friend owns and let them run wild in the play area. They go in and out and part of my struggle as a parent is getting them to go wash their hands before they dive into their lunch.

A while ago I asked my friend about cleaning and sanitizing the playground and what happens if some kid pukes or poops in there. He told me that his routine staff works on the room every night using a bunch of cleaning and sanitizing compounds Not risk elimination, but definitely reduction. He also said that the poop/puke events are infrequent, but they do happen and his staff are trained on how to contain, look for spray/smear and what special compounds to use (and their concentrations).

We’ve never had one of our kids come screaming out with a bunch of puke or poop on their hands. Unlike Justina Whitmore, who according to Boston 25, had to deal with her kid being covered in human waste after playing at a McDonalds.

A New Hampshire woman is demanding an apology and is raising questions about the cleanliness of a Manchester McDonald’s after her son became covered in human waste in the play pen.
 
Justina Whitmore said that when she let her son play, she knew he may be covered in germs.
 
She said she never imagined her 5-year-old would emerge from the yellow slide covered in another child’s waste.
 
“I was still eating and the next thing I knew he came out and just stated there was poop all inside the slide,” she said. “When he came out, he was covered in poop.”
 
Gabriel said he was playing tag with another child, who apparently had a soiled diaper.
 
But it’s what happened after the incident that the mother finds even more outrageous.
 
There was no soap in the bathroom, and when she asked employees for help she said they just laughed at her.
 
“I went over to the counter and said, ‘Are you going to give me any paper towels or anything to help clean my son off,’ and they were just laughing and arguing about who should clean it up.”
 
For 10 minutes Justina said she was pleading for assistance only to have employees ignore her and take smoke breaks, or act like a child.

Playgrounds, particularly outdoor ones (with sand or surface bark) have been linked to outbreaks in the past. Pathogens can stick around and persist in soil (especially something hardy like Salmonella) and on fomites like slides (norovirus).

Toddler showed ‘butthole’ during meal: Tennessee vegan

Dave Urbanski of The Blaze reports a customer named Chelsea Bartley wrote in 2-star review last week that she had a decidedly unappetizing experience at Imagine Vegan Cafe in Memphis, Tennessee — specifically that a “bare butt naked baby” with dirty feet “was running around, stood up on a table … and bent over to show me [her] butthole” during her meal.

That didn’t sit well with the cafe’s owner, who happens to be the mother of the 22-month-old girl in question. But not for the reason some might expect.

Kristie Jeffrey hopped on Imagine Vegan Cafe’s Facebook page, called out the customer by name and sent a warning to any other detractors.

“I’m about to start calling out names and pictures of people who leave us bad reviews, especially when it deals with our children,” Jeffrey wrote. “You will no longer be allowed to come and dine at Imagine. We do not need or want your business. … This is going to be fun!!!! You’ve throughly [sic] irritated mama bear!!!!!!!!!!!! We’re starting with Chelsea Bartley.”

Jeffrey added: “For anyone who reads this and instantly is scared this might affect our business, I cannot begin to tell you how much we do not care. Haters are not welcome at Imagine!!!!”

The post generated thousands of reactions, WMC-TV reported — but the station added that a few hours after its story ran about the dust-up, the post was deleted.

As of Friday afternoon, the cafe’s Facebook page appears to be down as well.

But Jeffrey did speak on camera to the station and didn’t back down from her position, noting that Imagine Vegan Cafe “has been a very family-oriented restaurant from day one. We’ve had crayons, kid menus, toys.”

And apparently poop.

In addition she told the station her four children are often in the restaurant during business hours. Jeffrey told WMC that while her daughter didn’t have a diaper on at the time of the incident noted in the 2-star review, she believes much of it is exaggerated.

“It was summer and it’s hot,” Jeffrey told the station about her daughter. “She does what a baby does, and she ripped it and she ran.”

Here’s the full text of Bartley’s review:

On the real, I eat here all the time. I still probably will bc I like to go out and there are few options available to me BUT y’all listen During my visit, a bare butt naked baby was running around, stood up on a table with its black theyre so dirty feet, and bent over to show me it’s butthole. I wish I was exaggerating. This is like while I’m eating, and it’s the owners kids? An older kid came over and started like yodeling and staring at me during my meal. I was SO uncomfortable. Like I get it’s a family establishment and kids do weird things but naked baby was running around for like 15 minutes while all the workers started are just standing to the side talking and laughing over it.

And for my food, I can heat up a tofurky sausage just as well and in under half the time.

Jeffrey told WMC it would have been better if Bartley made her complaints known in person so it could have been handled, but the vegan cafe owner isn’t sorry about what the establishment stands for.

“I would actually rather not have their business, because it states it very clearly on our menus — on our website — this is what we are about,” she told the station. “If you can’t do vegan, then don’t come here. If you can’t do children, don’t come here.”

And if you can’t do basic microbiology and sanitation, expet customers to stay away.

Tennessee is a special place. And I’m still a bad bluegrass banjo player.

Animal poop is everywhere in Bangladesh, and fecal indicator bacteria sorta suck

Fecal-oral pathogens are transmitted through complex, environmentally mediated pathways. Sanitation interventions that isolate human feces from the environment may reduce transmission but have shown limited impact on environmental contamination.

We conducted a study in rural Bangladesh to (1) quantify domestic fecal contamination in settings with high on-site sanitation coverage; (2) determine how domestic animals affect fecal contamination; and (3) assess how each environmental pathway affects others. We collected water, hand rinse, food, soil and fly samples from 608 households. We analyzed samples with IDEXX Quantitray for the most probable number (MPN) of E. coli.

We detected E. coli in source water (25%), stored water (77%), child hands (43%), food (58%), flies (50%), ponds (97%) and soil (95%). Soil had >120,000 mean MPN E. coli per gram. In compounds with vs. without animals, E. coli was higher by 0.54 log10 in soil, 0.40 log10 in stored water and 0.61 log10 in food (p<0.05). E. coli in stored water and food increased with increasing E. coli in soil, ponds, source water and hands.

We provide empirical evidence of fecal transmission in the domestic environment despite on-site sanitation. Animal feces contribute to fecal contamination, and fecal indicator bacteria do not strictly indicate human fecal contamination when animals are present.

Animal feces contribute to domestic fecal contamination: Evidence from E. coli measured in water, hands, food, flies, and soil in Bangladesh

Environmental Science and Technology, July 2017, Ayse Ercumen, Amy Janel Pickering, Laura H. Kwong, Benjamin Arnold, Sarker Masud Parvez, Mahfuja Alam, Debashis Sen, Sharmin Islam, Craig Kullmann, Claire Chase, Rokeya Ahmed, Leanne Unicomb, Stephen Luby, and John M. Colford, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01710

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.7b01710?journalCode=esthag

 

Use a thermometer Ireland pt, deux: Growing trend for eating rare burgers could hide deadly bacteria

Gavin White of the Independent follows up on the warning from safefood Ireland that there is “no way of knowing” if rare burger meat is safe.

A leading food safety expert said he was “very surprised” restaurants were offering undercooked burgers and putting their customers at risk.

Professor Martin Cormican, from the school of Medicine in NUI Galway, said small children and pregnant women were at an even higher risk of becoming ill.

“Restaurants need to understand that not every customer is the same and some are at more risk than others. There are liability issues,” Prof Cormican said.

He said that every burger had the potential to have the deadly bacteria, Vtec, which could cause severe illness.

“Although steak can have its bacteria killed on the outside, mince has the potential for the bacteria to end up in the middle where if not cooked properly, has the potential to make you seriously ill,” he said.

Safefood Ireland has launched its Burger Fever campaign as it was revealed 96pc of Irish people consider themselves well informed about food safety, yet 51pc are eating undercooked burgers.

A batch of French mince was recalled last week from French supermarkets over worries for the presence of Vtec, and Prof Cormican said it could easily happen in Ireland.

“Don’t take the risk, and especially if you’re taking medicine for illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis which severely impacts your immune system,” Prof Cormican said.

Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at Safefood, said around 2pc of all mince had Vtec in it so the risk was always there for the “growing trend” of burger lovers.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, barfblog.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

 

Use a fucking thermometer: Ireland says eating undercooked burgers ‘like driving without a seatbelt’

Diners who enjoy a juicy burger have been warned that eating them pink in the middle is “like driving without wearing a seatbelt”.

Fiachradh McDermott of The Irish Times reports that safefood began its new campaign, “Burger Fever”, on Thursday to inform people that eating undercooked burgers could lead to serious or sometimes life-threatening food poisoning.

What she didn’t report is that color is a terrible indicator of safety, and that needle-or-blade-tenderized steaks carry the same risk as mince, so this science-based agency is publishing fairy tales.

But I’ll let the bureaucrats speak for themselves and you judge.

The body advised people to always ask for burgers to be well-cooked in restaurants.

In an online survey conducted by safefood, 96 per cent of people considered themselves well-informed about food safety. However, 51 per cent admitted to eating undercooked burgers.

Two thirds of respondents said they would reconsider their choice if they knew there was a possibility of food poisoning.

Undercooked burgers carry the risk of E. coli, which can have long-term effects. The biggest worry is a type called VTEC, which causes severe diarrhoea.

Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at safefood, said it can result in “frequent serious complications.” VTEC can affect the blood and kidneys, and is most serious in older people and children under five. However, it only takes as little as ten E. coli cells to make a person sick, she said.

Dr Gordon said the campaign is intended as a preventative measure, but “emphasising the difference between a burger and a steak” is an important aspect.

According to Dr Gary Kearney, director of food science at safefood, “Mince used in hamburgers is a higher risk as the food poisoning bacteria that live on the surface of the beef (steak) is then mixed through the middle of the burger when the beef is minced – so in effect, the outside is now on the inside.”

Dr Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), emphasised the possibility and danger of contracting VTEC from undercooked meat.

“Eating burgers that are pink in the middle is a bit like driving without a seatbelt; you might get away with it for years but if something goes wrong and you are harmed, will you still think it was worth it?”

No mention of thermometer, cooking temps and hold times, just plain pandering.

Use a fucking thermometer and stick it in.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

E. Thomas, E,M,, Binder, A., McLaughlin, A., Jaykus, L., Hanson, D, Powell, D.A., Chapman, B. 2016.

Journal of Food Protection Vol. 79, No. 12, pp. 2113-2118

http://www.jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065?code=fopr-site

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef.

The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses.

The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

Tough mudders and cyclists, beware the agri-land: Outbreaks amongst participants in Norway, Scotland

NRK reports that some 50 of 300 participants became sick with Campylobacter in a cycling event in Norway.

Competitors at the start of the 2015 Tough Mudder Scotland at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

Earlier, several people were stricken by E. coli O157 in a tough mudder event which was held at Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland on June 17 and 18.

These outbreaks follow previous, numerous outbreaks involved with playing in mud.

In Norway, the reason why the cyclists have become so bad is because animal wreckage resolved after a heavy rainfall and remained in the road. This has again sprung up on the cyclists.

“Especially if the stool is fresh and there are large amounts of water, it can sprinkle on drinking bottles and hands so you get it when you drink,” said Tor Halvor Bjørnstad-Tuveng, to NRK (something may be lost in translation).

“We have been in dialogue with the management of the race, and we have some concrete measures that we will look at. We have been very unlucky with the rides of the year, but we must definitely look at what we can do to prevent it happening again, “says Bjørnstad-Tuveng.

Per Stubban was one of those who had to go to the hospital for intravenous nutrition.

“Now I’m on my way, but there have been some tough days. Next time I will not use a handheld drink bottle, but a drinking bag, and if there is as much rain as it was now, I would probably be skeptical to start, “he said.

Participants in an endurance event at a Scottish castle have been warned to look out for symptoms of E. coli O157 after it was identified among those who took part.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said “a small number of cases” of the bacteria have been found in those involved in the Tough Mudder event at Drumlanrig Castle last month.

It has advised anyone associated with the event who experiences symptoms to seek medical advice.

A spokesman for the health board said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway can confirm that we are aware of a small number of cases of E.coli O157 across Scotland that appear to be associated with participation in the Tough Mudder event which was held at Drumlanrig Castle on June 17 and 18.

“Any activity undertaken on agricultural land inevitably involves a small risk of gastrointestinal infection.”

A spokesman for the event said: “The safety of Tough Mudder participants, spectators, volunteers and staff is our number one priority.

Uh-huh.