‘No effluent on streets for several days’ 34 sick in Barbados gastro outbreak blamed on foodborne disease at business

The Jamaica Observer reports the Ministry of Health said it had conducted an epidemiological investigation into “a localised, food-borne disease outbreak at a specific food business” and that it was continuing to focus its resources on the south coast as it sought to contain any threat to public health as a result of the sewage spills in the area.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health reported that no new cases of gastroenteritis had been reported since January 3 this year, and that following the epidemiological investigation, 34 cases met the criteria for the gastroenteritis outbreak investigation.

“No other clusters of similar illness were reported from elsewhere in the area of the sewage spill. No organisms were identified through laboratory testing. Therefore, the outbreak has not been linked to any particular food or beverage, or the sewage spill,” the statement noted.

The authorities say they have been dealing with the sewage spill that has severely affected the island’s south coast and restaurants and other food outlets impacted by the more than year-long sewage crisis are being told they should not feel pressured to shut down, as the temporary fixes implemented by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) seem to be holding for the time being.

How should restaurants be inspected in Italy?

The purpose of this study was to elaborate a checklist with an inspection scoring system at national level in order to assess compliance with sanitary hygiene requirements of food services.

The inspection scoring system was elaborated taking into account the guidelines drawn up by NYC Department of Food Safety and Mental Hygiene. Moreover the checklist was used simultaneously with the standard inspection protocol adopted by Servizio Igiene Alimenti Nutrizione (Servizio Igiene Alimenti Nutrizione – Ss. I.A.N) and defined by D.G.R 6 March 2017 – n. X/6299 Lombardy Region. Ss. I.A.N protocol consists of a qualitative response according to which we have generated a new protocol with three different grading: A, B and C.

The designed checklist was divided into 17 sections. Each section corresponds to prerequisites to be verified during the inspection. Every section includes the type of conformity to check and the type of violation: critical or general. Moreover, the failure to respect the expected compliance generates 4 severity levels that correspond to score classes.

A total of 7 food services were checked with the two different inspection methods. The checklist results generated a food safety score for each food service that ranged from 0.0 (no flaws observed) to 187.2, and generates three grading class: A (0.0-28.0); B (29.0 – 70.0) and C (>71.00). The results from the Ss. I. A. N grading method and the checklist show positive correlation (r=0.94, P>0.01) suggesting that the methods are comparable. Moreover, our scoring checklist is an easy and unique method compared to standard and allows also managers to perform effective surveillance programs in food service

Food safety in food services in Lombardy: proposal for an inspection-scoring model, 2017

Italian Journal of Food Safety vol. 6:6915

Claudia Balzaretti, Katia Razzini, Silvia Ziviani, Sabrina Ratti, Vexna Millicevic, Luca Chiesa, Sara Panseri, Marta Castrica

doi:10.4081/ijfs.2017.6915

Arrogance only goes so far: Italian restaurant faces food safety fines

The restaurant in Venice which hit the headlines after charging four diners around €1100 (NZ$1800) for four steaks, fried seafood, a bottle of wine and water, is making the news again.

Osteria da Luca near St Mark’s Square is facing potential fines of €20,000 ($33,897) for breaches of health and safety, and food hygiene regulations, reports The Guardian.

It also faces other infringements including issues over the accurate description of goods.

The La Nuova Venezia newspaper said the investigation could “produce total fines running into tens of thousands of euros”.

The Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro hit out at the eaterie after the €1100 bill was doled out to the Japanese tourists.

“If this shameful event is confirmed, we’ll do everything we can to punish those responsible,” he said on Twitter.

The restaurant has a rating of 1.5 stars on Tripadvisor.

Venice, one of the world’s most popular tourist cities, has a reputation for brazenly overcharging its visitors.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK-steak-house edition (Jamie Oliver is a food-safety idiot) and quinoa ain’t steak

Ruki Sayid of the Mirror writes the meat supplier behind Wetherspoon’s sudden move to axe steak for its Steak Club menu is at the centre of a food hygiene investigation.

The Food Standards Agency revealed Russell Hume’s sites have been inspected and products recalled after allegations it was in “serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations.”

The firm has previously supplied meat for Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, but bosses today confirmed that they switched suppliers as soon as they became aware of problems.

Following a tip, the FSA carried out a spot check on the firm’s Birmingham site and then sent teams to other locations which also failed to meet regulations.

The FSA said: “There is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume.

“However, we are concerned about the poor practices in place at their premises so that is why we have taken proportionate action to ensure no meat can leave their sites at present.

“We are continuing to assess the situation.”

Customers were up in arms when Wetherspoon scrapped steak from its menu without warning at its 900 pubs.

The decision meant servings of the Aberdeen Angus rump steak, sirloin steak and gammon were unavailable to order as customers were reportedly offered quinoa and halloumi salad alternatives instead.

One furious diner told how he stormed out of a branch in Scarborough when he learned of the Steak Club shortcomings.

James Jarvis, 27, told The Sun : “One of their suggestions was a quinoa salad with grilled halloumi. I came in for a steak — not a poncey salad!”

While Michael Rousell, 62, who visited a Wetherspoon in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, told the newspaper: “I can’t believe a multi- million pound organisation like Wetherspoon can’t sort this out ­— it beggars belief.”

A notice apparently pictured at one pub read: “Due to a supplier failure, the following meals are unavailable: 8oz and 14oz Aberdeen Angus rump steak, 8oz sirloin steak, 5oz and 10z gammon.”

Restaurant inspection disclosure: Should apply to supermarkers, cafeterias, anywhere food is served

John Cropley of the Daily Gazette writes that state regulators have rolled out a new letter-based grading system for food safety at hundreds of stores across New York state.

Supermarkets and other food retailers must prominently display the rating given to them by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets after inspections by the department’s Division of Food Safety and Inspection. The ratings, and their meanings, are:

A — No critical deficiencies found, store is in substantial compliance with rules. 

B — Critical deficiencies (those creating a risk of foodborne illness) were found but were corrected at time of inspection. 

C — Critical deficiencies were found but were not or could not be corrected. 

The new rule took effect Jan 1. The department requires that the notice of inspection be posted in plain sight near each public entrance to a store; retailer face a $600 fine if they fail to comply. 

Customers can also request their own copies of the inspection notice.

The department said the grades will help customers better understand the sanitary conditions in stores and provide store owners with an educational opportunity.

Agriculture and Markets made the change after meeting with stakeholders, including the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, which has 800 corporate members ranging from supermarkets and convenience stores to wholesalers and cooperatives.

Three major Capital Region food retailers: Price Chopper/Market 32, Hannaford and Stewart’s Shops, all support the new requirements.

Mona Golub, spokeswoman for Price Chopper and Market 32 parent Golub Corp., said it’s a small expansion of existing rules. Supermarkets already were inspected and already were posting the cover page of the inspection reports — behind the customer service counter, in Golub’s case.

The only change is the letter rating, she said, and Golub Corp. endorses it because it will increase customers’ understanding of sanitary conditions in stores.

“We fully support ratings and designations that inform customers of our high food-safety standards,” Golub said.

Identifying foodborne outbreaks using social media

As a new survey shows 95% of chefs cite customers getting sick as their top concern, a computer system developed by Columbia University with Health Department epidemiologists can detect foodborne illness and outbreaks in New York City restaurants based on keywords in Yelp reviews.

Using Yelp, 311, and reports from health care providers, the Health Department has identified and investigated approximately 28,000 complaints of suspected foodborne illness overall since 2012 and helped Health Department staff identify approximately 1,500 complaints of foodborne illness in NYC each year, for a total of 8,523 since July 2012.

Improvements to the computer system are the subject of a joint study published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The Health Department and Columbia continue to expand the system to include other social media sources, such as Twitter, which was added to the system in November 2016. The computer system allows the Health Department to investigate incidents and outbreaks that might otherwise go undetected. New Yorkers are encouraged to call 311 to report any suspected foodborne illness.

“Working with our partners at Columbia University, the Health Department continues to expand its foodborne illness surveillance capabilities,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Today we not only look at complaints from 311, but we also monitor online sites and social media. I look forward to working with Columbia University on future efforts to build on this system. The Health Department follows up on all reports of foodborne illness – whether it is reported to 311 or Yelp.”

Each year,

“Effective information extraction regarding foodborne illness from social media is of high importance–online restaurant review sites are popular and many people are more likely to discuss food poisoning incidents in such sites than on official government channels,” said Luis Gravano and Daniel Hsu, who are coauthors of the study and professors of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering. “Using machine learning has already had a significant impact on the detection of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.”

“The collaboration with Columbia University to identify reports of food poisoning in social media is crucial to improve foodborne illness outbreak detection efforts in New York City,” said Health Department epidemiologists Vasudha Reddy and Katelynn Devinney, who are coauthors of the publication. “The incorporation of new data sources allows us to detect outbreaks that may not have been reported and for the earlier identification of outbreaks to prevent more New Yorkers from becoming sick.”

“I applaud DOHMH Commissioner Bassett for embracing the role that crowdsourcing technology can play in identifying outbreaks of foodborne illness. Public health must be forward-thinking in its approach to triaging both everyday and acute medical concerns,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Most restaurant-associated outbreaks are identified through the Health Department’s complaint system, which includes 311, Yelp, and reports from health care providers. Since 2012, the Department has identified and investigated approximately 28,000 suspected complaints of foodborne illness overall. The Health Department reviews and investigates all complaints of suspected foodborne illness in New York City.

14 sickened in 2016: UK steakhouse fined 50K for serving food on wooden boards

A restaurant has been slapped with an $86,000 fine for serving food on wooden boards after 14 people allegedly suffered food poisoning.

Ibrahim’s Grill and Steakhouse in Birmingham was handed the fine last week.

Birmingham City Council tweeted health inspectors had been called to the outlet in October 2016 amid claims 14 people suffered food poisoning.

Along with disposable gloves being used instead of hand washing, authorities noted that wooden plates “incapable of being cleaned” were used to serve food.

“On a return visit in December 2016…wooden plates were still being used,” the council posted to social media on January 6.

Ibrahim’s Grill and Steakhouse, which maintains a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor, pleaded guilty to the fine at the Birmingham Magistrates Court on January 4.

Along with the 50,000 (A$86,000) fine, the restaurant will be forced to pay A$1158 in costs and A$200 “victim surcharge”.

“It’s completely unacceptable for businesses to put the health of people eating at their restaurant at risk,” Birmingham Head of Environmental Health Mark Croxford said in an official statement.

Letter grades coming to Milwaukee restaurants

You’ll soon see letter grades reflecting the number of health code violations at restaurants in Milwaukee.

The hope is to cut down on foodborne illnesses.

In 2018, letter grades will be given to restaurants inspected by the city but posting them will be voluntary. Then in 2019, all restaurants will need to put those grades up for the public to see.

CBS 58 News stopped by the 5’O Clock Steakhouse, the first restaurant graded under the new system.

“2018 marks 72 years that this restaurant has been operating. So there’s like a lot of restaurants who are kind of stuck in doing things a certain way and traditions. And you have to maintain the character of who you are as a restaurant but there are certain things that do change,” said Stelio Kalkounos, Managing Partner at 5 O’Clock Steakhouse. 

That includes the city inspection policy.

“These letter grades are going to be posted so that everyone can know exactly where a restaurant stands and everyone can make certain they can dine with confidence that food safety and the lack of foodborne illness is our number one goal here,” said Bevan Baker, Commissioner of Health. 

5’O Clock Steakhouse got an “A.”

Restaurants can get an “A” “B” or “C” grade. A “C” means the place may have to temporarily close.

 

Everyone’s got a camera: Guam restaurant inspection edition

The Guam Daily Post reports that local dining favorite Old Town Chinese Restaurant, usually packed for dinner on a Friday night for its “homestyle” Shanghai cuisine, went silent yesterday. The dining crowd was locked out.

Old Town became the latest casualty in the public’s ever-increasing vigilance on food safety at restaurants, stores and even in one hotel.

Tips from concerned citizens, often accompanied by photos taken on their smartphones and widely circulated on social media – and also provided to the Department of Public Health and Social Services – have increased the temporary closures of food businesses.

In Old Town’s case, a customer complained to the public health agency of finding ants inside roast duck.

“Some evidence to support the complaint was observed,” states the inspection report, released upon request yesterday following a Thursday inspection.

The ants complaint led to numerous findings of food-handling and sanitation issues, the report shows.

35 now sick, 9 hosiptalized in South Australian Salmonella outbreak; bakery reopens

Confirmed cases of salmonella, linked to a South Australian bakery, have climbed to 35 with more expected as tests continue.

SA Health says nine people, including two children, have been hospitalised after eating products from the Gawler South bakery, which has two outlets in Gawler, about 40km north of central Adelaide.

The link to the bakery was first revealed late last month.

“We’ve now seen cases in people aged two years to 70 years old and we are anticipating more cases as further test results come through,” SA Health’s director of public health Kevin Buckett said.

The source of the contamination had been linked to sandwiches, wraps, rolls and focaccias with chicken and other fillings.’’

In a statement posted on social media the bakery’s management said it was no longer cooking chicken on the premises and SA Health officials were happy with its food handling processes.

Management also apologised to anyone who had become sick. “We hope this apology is received to be genuine and in good faith,” the statement said.

According to the ABC, the bakery was also struck by a salmonella outbreak in October 2016 which affected eight people.