Vaccines work: 18 sick with hep A linked to award-winning bakery in Scotland

Malcolm Gladwell — a poor imitator of Lyle Lovett hair — cites research in his 2008 book, Outliers, that says the difference between good and great is about 10,000 hours of practice.

That’s what it takes to adjust the brain wiring: from pianist to poet, Beatle to Stone, haberdasher to hockey player, from good to great.

I’m not going to take up the academic and practical concerns with this simplification that gets used as mantra.

Biology is always messier.

Hockey camp at the beach over the weekend with 36 kids was great for the exercise, the repetition, and the bonding that lasts a lifetime.

So I’m always baffled when some restaurant owner who has devoted his lifetime – their 10,000 hours, to their craft — can lose it all in a microbiological minute.

Again, biology is messy.

Rachel Macpherson of The Sun reports that JB Christie has closed its Airdrie bakery in North Lanarkshire and ordered the immediate withdrawal of products after being linked to multiple cases of the potentially deadly virus.

NHS Lanarkshire announced nine patients had been treated with a further nine suspected cases of the bug.

Initial probes by health chiefs said the infection was possibly linked to the bakery, but a probe, including staff blood tests, failed to turn up any sign of the virus.

Jody Harrison of The Herald reports Andrew Chisholm, owner of JB Christie Baker’s, now intends to re-open both shops, saying that he viewed it as his “civic duty” to shut as soon as the link was made.

He said: “As a business, we have fully and voluntarily co-operated with Lanarkshire NHS and Environmental Health Officers during this process.

“As of this morning all staff at the bakery have been blood tested and have been found to be clear of the infection. Also as a precaution all have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A.

The baker said: “I have made my career in this industry and I bought the JB Christie business just over four years ago and I am proud to have done so.

Good on Chisholm for taking so-called swift action (but ‘major electrical issue,’ sorta douchebagish). Epidemiology works, so tests afterwards don’t mean much.

Neither do vaccinations.

If an owner devoted 10,000 hours to his craft to be award winning, vaccinating all employees against Hepatitis A should have been done before, not after a health risk emerged – real or not.

Going public real time: Hepatitis A in my daughter’s Brisbane school, this time it’s personal

At 4:23 p.m. AET on Friday, March 3, 8-year-old Sorenne’s school issued a notice to some parents that said:

“Hepatitis A has been reported at school. Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. Anyone can be infected with hepatitis A if they come into direct contact with food, drunks, or objects contaminated by faeces of an infected person.”

I’m not sure they meant drunks, but that’s what it said.

Amy got the e-mail.

I got notification of the e-mail at 5:30 p.m. AET

I immediately called the school.

No answer.

I e-mailed all the school contacts to say, “Hepatitis A is a serious disease for those who are unvaccinated. It passes fecal-oral, and can be acquired by drinks with straws, but usually not drunks (as your note says).”

Standard procedure in the U.S is vaccination clinics for anyone who has the potential to be exposed, but is only useful if done within a few days.:

So then I called Queensland Health, the state health agency.

Being after 5 p.m. on a Friday, there wasn’t no one around, except for a nice man who said he would investigate.

I e-mailed my questions:

“What is standard vaccination clinic procedure in the event of a positive case?

“What is the vaccination policy for hep A in Australia? Queensland?

“What was the timeline for detection and public notification?”

He said he would do the best he could and call me back.

He didn’t.

This is apparently normal.

On Feb. 23, 2017, I e-mailed media relations at Queensland Health to ask, “Can Queensland Health confirm or deny there was an outbreak of Salmonella in Sunnybank (Brisbane) around the Chinese New Year possibly involving deep-fried ice cream?
“thank you”

No answer.

Going public is about protecting people from public health threats.

Brisbane sucks at it.
Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

The public health cost of a hepatitis A outbreak: scallops edition

A recent twitter exchange about corporate food safety folks really becoming compliance teams highlights that all this food safety stuff is nestled somewhere in a web of risk, cost and benefit. Risk and benefit come down to public health and business risk metrics – which can be fraught with limitations and assumptions.screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-7-11-13-am

Risk-based decision making is the mantra in food safety. Picking out an intervention is a starts with a numbers game: calculating the likelihood of an action (like handwashing) and matching that with the prevalence of a pathogen in the system. This is the stuff that gets the math nerds like Schaffner excited (me too). Businesses are faced with risk, cost and benefit decisions daily.

Food safety teams that focus just on compliance are trusting that the compliance folks got the science and risk correct. Sometimes they do. But lawmaking is slow.

The cost part of the equation somewhat straight forward.

One cost that’s been debated in food service for over twenty years is whether or not employers or public health folks should require food handlers to be vaccinated for hepatitis A. Jacobs and colleagues arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t equal the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs.

Or costs to the public health system. According to KHON2 300+ cases of hepatitis A is costing hundreds of thousands of public health dollars.

The Hawaii Department of Health says it’s spent approximately $336,100 to investigate and respond to the hepatitis A outbreak.

images-1Here’s how it breaks down: $304,600 were spent on normal staff work hours, and an estimated $19,750 went to pay for 300 hours of overtime work.

The rest went to pay for vaccines and lab specimen shipments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the health department tells us that was covered by federal grant funds.

It took a lot of work for health officials just to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, including an online survey, numerous interviews with people, and visits to businesses.

Although officials identified the source — imported frozen scallops — they’re still not done with this outbreak. They’re now looking into a hepatitis-A-related death.

“The woman was in and out of the hospital really since she became ill in July, and so there were times where she needed a liver transplant,” said foodborne illness attorney Bill Marler. “She sort of seemed to rally. She got to go home for a little while, and then she was back in the hospital with complications.”

ICAPP voluntarily recalls certain lots of frozen strawberries

The International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP) is voluntarily recalling certain lots of its frozen strawberries out of an abundance of caution in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation of an outbreak of Hepatitis A.

frozen-strawberryThe recalled products were all distributed for sale to and use in food service establishments nationwide — not for use in food products offered for retail sale to consumers. Nonetheless, ICAPP is issuing this news release publicly to help mitigate any possible risk to the public health and to fully ensure that all recalled products are recovered. Although none of ICAPP’s own testing through an established surveillance program or through third party testing of retained samples has identified the presence of Hepatitis A in any of its products, ICAPP has decided to recall all frozen strawberries that it has imported into the United States since January 1, 2016 out of an abundance of caution.

No other ICAPP products, frozen or fresh, are covered by this voluntary recall.

ICAPP is conducting this voluntary recall after learning that frozen strawberries that it distributed may be linked to a recent Hepatitis A outbreak in the United States. ICAPP has been engaged with FDA in its investigation of this outbreak and is taking this action in consultation with FDA because Hepatitis A virus was detected in four lots of frozen strawberries that were exported to the U.S. by ICAPP. ICAPP is working closely with all of the U.S. distributors of this product to ensure that this recall is effective.

ICAPP is fully committed to producing safe and high quality products; consumer safety is its top priority. ICAPP is conducting a comprehensive review of all of its operations and its suppliers to ensure that the food it produces is safe. ICAPP continues to work closely with federal and state authorities and is conducting this recall in cooperation with FDA.

For questions or more information, consumers may contact ICAPP by email at [email protected] or by phone, between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Cairo local time, at +201-541-1624.

Food Safety Talk 111: The Meat Spot

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.slide-image-1

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Episode 111 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Whole Foods still sucks at food safety: Hep A link in Detroit (vaccines work)

A bromate at the daddy crowd at school pickup yesterday sheepishly admitted that until two years ago, he thought the band Queen was from the U.S.

whole-foodsI asked him, where were the Beatles from?

Liverpool, UK.

Rolling Stones?

Detroit, Michigan, Rock City USA (he was joking).

Regardless of where you’re from, Whole Foods still sucks at food safety.

The Detroit Health Department is investigating two cases of Hepatitis A in connection with the prepared foods section at the Whole Foods Market at 115 Mack Avenue in Detroit, officials said.

One case was diagnosed in an employee at the store who handles and prepared food at the store.

The second case was diagnosed in a Detroit resident who ate at the prepared foods section of the store.

It’s unclear how either case was contracted, officials said. It’s possible the second case might have been contracted from the food handler, health officials said.

The Detroit Health Department recommends anyone who ate prepared foods from the Whole Foods in Detroit between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12 to speak with a doctor.

“While it remains unclear exactly how either of these individuals contracted Hepatitis A, and we know that Whole Foods Market Detroit has a comprehensive food safety protocol, we want to do our best to protect our residents and those of surrounding communities who may have been exposed. Whole Foods has been nothing but cooperative throughout this process,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer at the Detroit Health Department.

(Canada should also apologize for Rush).

Get vaccinated for hep A

Herbal plants have long been used as traditional medicines to treat diseases caused by microbial pathogens. The hepatitis A virus (HAV) causes acute liver infection through the fecal–oral route. Although the antimicrobial activities of herbal extracts against bacterial and some viral pathogens have been extensively studied, their antiviral properties against HAV have not been investigated thus far.  This study was designed to investigate the inhibitory effect of 16 herbal extracts against HAV.

hep-aSignificant inhibition of HAV was observed only when HAV was co-treated with extracts. Ten out of the 16 herbal extracts demonstrated significant virucidal activity against HAV. Alnus japonica extract at a concentration of 50 μg/mL reduced HAV titer by 3.43 ± 0.24 logs. Artemisia annua, Allium sativum, Allium fistulosum, and Agrimonia pilosa extracts showed 2.33 ± 0.43, 2.10 ± 0.41, 2.07 ± 0.60, and 2.03 ± 0.26-log reductions, respectively. Pleuropterus multiflorus, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Coriandrum sativum, Ginkgo biloba, and Torilis japonica extracts reduced HAV titer by 1.02 ± 0.21 to 1.90 ± 0.33 logs. Among the 10 herbal extracts, Alnus japonica extract was the most potent in inhibiting HAV without exhibiting cytotoxicity.

Antiviral activity of herbal extracts against the hepatitis A virus

Food Control, Volume 72, Part A, February 2017, Pages 9-13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2016.07.028

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516303905

Going public: The hepatitis A case that wasn’t

When there is a chance to protect public health you gotta go public with all the info you have, when you have it. Sometimes new information arises that changes things and makes it look like officials got it wrong – when they didn’t.

Last week, according to The Chronicle, a food handler tested positive for hep A – and it turned out to be a false positive.flat1000x1000075f

A reported case of Hepatitis A at the Chehalis Shop’n Kart last week has been ruled a false positive by county health officials, meaning a worker in the store’s bakery was not infected and baked goods they handled were not contaminated.

An initial press release from the Lewis County Public Health and Social Services last week said a bakery worker tested positive for the virus, which causes an acute liver infection.

But a release issued Friday said this test was a false positive, meaning there was never an infection or risk to customers.

Shop’n Kart owner Darris McDaniel said the containment procedure cost his store thousands of dollars in product they threw away, while also damaging its reputation.

“In the future, if anything would happen again, we would ask for another test right away, because this sent up a lot of bad signals for our business when in fact it wasn’t true,” he said. “We did take the proper steps and acted very quickly.”

I feel much better: Egyptian strawberries in UAE are free of Hepatitis A

According to The National (the UAE paper, not the band) Egyptian strawberries are all good. I’d like to see some sort of data or specifics (like how many samples, how they sampled).

Frozen Egyptian strawberries are free from Hepatitis A, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has confirmed. frozen-strawberry

The issue came up last month when the US Food and Drug Administration reported an outbreak of Hepatitis A from Egyptian strawberries in the US. 

The ministry tightened control on frozen strawberries imported from Egypt to prevent any contaminated products that pose a risk to consumers entering the country.

Authorities also collected samples of seven different brands of frozen Egyptian strawberries in UAE markets to conduct laboratory tests.

All clear. Except testing a few batches and not finding hep A has it’s limitations.

Food Safety Talk 109: Pooped on an airplane

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.14502823_10157592450435442_3811567674478483849_n

Episode 109 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home: