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food service/retail establishment that has been chronically shut down before permanently having their business license rescinded?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.

 

Listeria hysteria in South Africa

My wife and I were discussing this morning the horror that is occurring in South Africa regarding the Listeria outbreak. My wife is a professional dancer for an African modern dance group-NAfro in Winnipeg (Canada) and very interested in African culture. I have had the pleasure of speaking with her choreographer a number of times regarding issues in Africa (his home) which are primarily political in nature. Interesting stuff.
The World Health Organization has sent a food safety expert to South Africa to assist in identifying the cause of the Listeria outbreak. Apparently, it has been recommended that South Africa should have approximately 5000 environmental health practitioners; currently they only have 2000 to safeguard public health, clearly not enough.

Wendy Knowler of Times Live reports

Would you be able to list every single thing you’ve eaten in the past month?
That’s what victims of South Africa’s massive listeriosis outbreak – the biggest on record globally – are being asked to do by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in an attempt to pinpoint the source.
The number of confirmed listeriosis cases is now 872, and 164 of those have died – up from 107 last week. The current mortality rate is a staggering 27%.
Of those confirmed cases, 43% were babies of less than a month old – pregnant women being 20 times more likely to get listeriosis than other healthy adults.
Contracted by eating food containing the listeria pathogen, listeriosis is by far the most deadly of food-borne diseases. Given the scale of our mystery outbreak, it has led to what one delegate termed “listeria hysteria”, at a listeriosis workshop hosted by the South African Association of Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST) in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
While patés, soft cheeses and guacamole have been found to be the source in listeriosis outbreaks in other countries, our outbreak is unlikely to be a “high-end luxury food item”, said the NICD’s Dr Juno Thomas at the workshop.
“So far, our epidemiological investigation team has interviewed about 60 listeriosis victims to find out what they ate, day by day, during the month before they became symptomatic, in an attempt to identify patterns of consumption and indicate what we can eliminate,” Thomas said. “None had eaten smoked fish, for example.”
Food safety expert and SAAFoST president Lucia Anelich said given that a single, unique “homegrown” strain of listeriosis was identified in more than 90% of the confirmed cases, it was likely that the source was a single food product or range of food products consumed often and by both rich and poor across South Africa.
“Cold meats, for example, range from viennas and polony to more expensive slices of ham,” she said.
As listeria is killed during the cooking process, the culprit is thought to be a ready-to-eat food, fruit, or vegetables.
Attorney Janus Luterek told workshop delegates that his work had led him to believe that the offending product would be traced back to irrigation water that was not properly treated. A few food scientists in the room agreed with him.
“Keep your insurance up to date,” Luterek told the attending food producers, “because when the claims come they will be huge, as in a Boeing 737 crashing and everyone on board dying.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has sent a food safety expert, an epidemiologist with listeriosis experience and a communication specialist to South Africa to help identify the source of the outbreak.
A WHO spokesman was quoted in industry publications this week as saying the body was working on a “strong lead”, with laboratory results pending.
Speaking at the workshop, Dr Thomas said food safety legislation was fragmented, outdated and inappropriate for South Africa.
“We need a dramatic overhaul of our legislation and the entire food safety system,” she said.
For example, she said, there were fewer than 2,000 environmental health practitioners, responsible for monitoring all food outlets from restaurants to informal vendors, but the WHO recommended that South Africa needed 5,000 of them.
Several presenters mentioned the need for better cooperation between the government departments and organisations responsible for food safety – including health; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; trade and industry; and the Consumer Goods Council.

 

17 sick from hepA in Denmark linked to dates

Since the end of January, the State Serum Institute has investigated a disease outbreak of contagious hepatitis caused by hepatitis A virus infections. This indicates that the source of infection may be dates, and the case is further investigated in collaboration with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the DTU Food Institute. The outbreak is the second national food-borne outbreak of hepatitis A in Denmark.

The outbreak thus includes 17 patients, nine women and eight men aged 17 years. Patients have become ill from December 2017 onwards. Patients are resident throughout the country and 16 have been hospitalized. Virus from seven of the patients has been type-approved for type 3A, and for the time being, genetic studies have shown that four of these are identical, which supports the suspicion of a common source of infection. It is still expected that more patients will come, as about four weeks from eating the contaminated dates until you get sick with hepatitis A.

To investigate the source of infection for the outbreak, the State Serum Institute has conducted extensive interviews with patients and made a so-called case-control study. During the initial interviews, dates, as several of the patients indicated to have eaten, were suspected. The correlation between dates and disease risk was then investigated in the case-control study. Here you compare how often patients have eaten a number of specific foods with similar information from a comparable group of healthy Danes. 

The results have shown that the source of infection was most likely to have been dates since patients had far more eaten this food than the comparable group of healthy Danes. The dates are described by most patients as soft dark stones with stones purchased in Rema1000. The results were handed over to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, The importer and Rema1000 chose to withdraw the dates on 6 February .

The likelihood of infectious hepatitis infection caused by infection with Hepatitis A virus by eating dates from Rema1000 is considered very small. Therefore, there is no need to consult a doctor if you have no symptoms of hepatitis A infection.

If you have eaten Rema1000 dadels after 1 December 2017 and develop symptoms of hepatitis such as nausea, madness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea or fever without any other obvious causes or yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, light colored dye and / or dark , porter-colored urine, consult your own doctor. 

Risk assessment ‘tolerable’ for tree that killed woman

Risk assessments are fraught with value judgements scientists make when choosing the upper and lower boundaries of numerical ranges and the assumptions made, especially those involving human behavior.

Conrad Brunk (right) and co-authors explored this in the 1991 book, Value Judgements in Risk Assessment.

For the many food safety risk assessors and analysts out there, a New Zealand tree may offer a lesson.

A tree in Rotorua, known as Spencer’s Oak, was deemed to be of a “tolerable” level of risk when it came down in a Jan. 2018 storm and killed a woman.

The 150-year-old oak, believed to be around 23m tall, blocked Amohia St, trapped 56-year-old Trish Butterworth in her car. She died at the scene.

The risk assessment of the tree has been revealed in documents released by Rotorua Lakes Council to Stuff under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

Benn Bathgate reports that in a tree assessment report from an arboricultural contractor dated February 28, 2017, Spencer’s Oak and a second tree were assessed.

“The assessed risk levels for these trees all fall the tolerable level,” the report said. 

“There is some decay evident in some of the buttress roots and in some old pruning wounds. Sounding the trunk and buttress roots with a plastic mallet did not indicate any major areas of concern.”

The report also found several old wire rope cables installed in the tree which were described as “under a lot of tension”, with one frayed and unravelling.

“Although the cables appear to be under tension there are no signs that these cables are required by the tree.”

The tree was also described as showing signs of decline.

The report also outlines three bands of risk level; broadly acceptable, tolerable and unacceptable.

“This inspection and report will give the three a risk rating and options for mitigation,” the report said.

“It is up to the tree owners to decide what if any action is to be taken depending on their tolerance of tisk.”

The report’s conclusion said if the examined trees had major deadwood removed, their risk level would be considered as low as reasonably practible.

Raw is risky, for pets and humans

I have never fed any of my dogs or cats raw pet food.

They may eat each other’s poop, but I control what I can control.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners to a history of four recalls of and multiple complaints associated with Darwin’s Natural and ZooLogics pet foods, manufactured by Arrow Reliance Inc., dba Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, over the period from October 17, 2016 to February 10, 2018. In each instance, the company recalled these products after being alerted to positive findings of Salmonella and/or Listeria monocytogenes in samples of their raw pet food products.

In its most recent recall, on February 10, 2018, Arrow Reliance/Darwin’s Natural recalled ZooLogics Duck with Vegetable Meals for Dogs (Lot #41957) and ZooLogics Chicken with Vegetable Meals for Dogs (Lot #41567) because the products may be contaminated with Salmonella and therefore have the potential to cause salmonellosis in humans and animals. The company states that it only sells its products online through direct-to-consumer sales.

The FDA has investigated six complaints of illness and death in animals that have eaten the recalled products.

Arrow Reliance/Darwin’s Natural has notified its customers directly of the recalls, but has so far not issued any public notification announcing this or any of the previous recalls.

This issue is of particular public health importance because Salmonella can make both people and animals sick.

As part of an ongoing investigation into complaints associated with products manufactured by Arrow Reliance/Darwin’s Natural of Tukwila, WA, the FDA has confirmed that new samples of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw pet foods have tested positive for Salmonella. These raw pet foods include ZooLogics Duck with Vegetable Meals for Dogs Lot #41957 and ZooLogics Chicken with Vegetable Meals for Dogs Lot #41567.

The latest recall was triggered by a complaint of an adult dog that had recurring diarrhea over a nine-month period. The dog tested positive for Salmonella from initial testing by the veterinarian and by follow-up testing by the FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN). The Darwin’s Natural raw pet food that the dog had been fed was also positive for Salmonella.

Arrow Reliance/Darwin’s Natural is aware of the dog’s illness and the positive results and initiated a recall on February 10, 2018 by directly notifying its customers via email. The firm has not issued a public recall notice.

Since October 2016, Arrow Reliance/Darwin’s Natural has initiated four recalls and had six reported complaints (some referring to more than one animal) associated with their raw pet food products, including the death of one kitten from a severe systemic Salmonella infection. The Salmonella isolated from the kitten was analyzed using whole genome sequencing and found to be indistinguishable from the Salmonella isolated from a closed package from the same lot of Darwin’s Natural cat food that the kitten ate.

In addition to reports of illnesses associated with Salmonella contamination in the products, the FDA is aware of complaints of at least three animals who were reportedly injured by bone shards in the Darwin’s Natural raw pet food products.

‘Multiple illnesses’ Salmonella cases in Iowa linked to Fareway chicken salad

The Iowa Department of Public Safety (IDPH) and Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals issued a consumer advisory Tuesday for chicken salad sold at Fareway stores.

The chicken salad, which is produced and packaged by a third party for Fareway, is implicated in multiple cases of salmonella illness across Iowa. Preliminary test results from the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) at the University of Iowa indicate the presence of salmonella in this product.

Fareway voluntarily stopped the sale of the product and pulled the chicken salad from its shelves after being contacted by DIA. “The company has been very cooperative and is working with IDPH and DIA in the investigation of the reported illnesses,” said DIA Food and Consumer Safety Bureau Chief Steven Mandernach, who noted that no chicken salad has been sold to the consuming public since last Friday evening (2/9/18).

IDPH is investigating multiple cases of possible illness associated with the chicken salad. “The bottom line is that no one should eat this product,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “If you have it in your refrigerator, you should throw it away.”

But what does gastro mean? Outbreak hits University of Queensland students

I don’t know what it is about Australians, whether it’s some pseudo-inherited British culture of hierarchy, or just dumbness, but lately, any outbreak of barfing and pooping is called a gastro outbreak.

As in gastroenteritis.

There are microbiology labs in Australia, so figure it out, and let people know.

Janelle Miles of The Courier Mail reports 20 students at two University of Queensland residential colleges have fallen ill with gastroenteritis in the middle of orientation week.

The students are residents of King’s College and Grace College at UQ’s St Lucia campus in Brisbane’s west.

They have been quarantined separated from other students to avoid the infection spreading.

Was it foodborne? Are there any epidemiologists in Australia? Is anyone investigating?

New food safety tools and messages deserve investigation

Nine years ago I had my most memorable bout with foodborne illness. I had Campylobacter and it was terrible. It all started with a trip to visit Doug in Kansas.
I gave a somewhat incoherent talk to an undergraduate food microbiology class while sweating; slept most of my visit away; went to a football game; left the football game at halftime; spent two nights rushing to the bathroom every hour to evacuate my intestines.
I wanted to blame Doug.
He brings out the best in people.
After a feverish trip home (diarrhea on a plane sucks) and crashing for the remainder of the weekend I went to my doctor to get things checked out. I described my symptoms, had a rectal exam (fun) and was given the materials needed for a stool sample. 
The idea of stool sample harvesting was way more fun than the actual act.
It’s amazing any foodborne illnesses are confirmed with stool samples because the process is a bit nuts. It took some thinking to figure out how to catch the sample without contaminating it with water or urine. The final decision was to use the bucket from our cleaned and sanitized salad spinner – which has since been retired – and place it in the toilet bowl.
I took the poop harvest and filled three vials to fill (one for C. difficile, one for parasites and another for other pathogens), and a bonus margarine-like tub for “other things.” The vials were easy, they came with their own spoons. After ten swipes across the base of the former salad spinner I was able to messily get the rest of the sample collected in the tub. Then came the clean-up.  This whole episode took me about 45 minutes.
I proudly returned to the doctor’s office with samples in hand. I asked her what percentage of stool sample kits come back filled with poop. She said about 10%.
That’s the problem with clinical confirmation of foodborne illness pathogens.
Patrick Quade and the iwaspoisoned.com group is trying to add to the toolbox of public health foodborne illness investigations, because not a lot of samples make it to public health so cases can be confirmed.
According to the New York Times, this is the era of internet-assisted consumer revenge, and as scorned customers in industries from dentistry to dog-walking have used digital platforms to broadcast their displeasure, the balance of power has tipped considerably in the buyer’s favor. This is especially true of IWasPoisoned, which has collected about 89,000 reports since it opened in 2009. 
Consumers use the site to decide which restaurants to avoid, and public health departments and food industry groups routinely monitor its submissions, hoping to identify outbreaks before they spread. The site has even begun to tilt stocks, as traders on Wall Street see the value of knowing which national restaurant chain might soon have a food-safety crisis on its hands.
Not everyone is happy about the added transparency. Restaurant executives have criticized IWasPoisoned for allowing anonymous and unverified submissions, which they say leads to false reports and irresponsible fear-mongering. Some public health officials have objected on the grounds that food poisoning victims can’t be trusted to correctly identify what made them sick.
“It’s not helping food safety,” said Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food safety at Cornell University. “If you want to trace food-borne illness, it needs to be done by public health departments, and it needs to include food history.”
I dunno. Maybe it will help as a supplemental data set. There are folks in local and state health departments subscribing to alerts that can lead to earlier and more focused investigations.
The end of my story is that I was diagnosed with campylobacteriosis. I became a statistic. I was administered a food history questionnaire. No answers on a source ever came back. New tools to crowdsource public health information can act as a an early warning system for outbreak and illness investigators.

Les Bubbles kitchen in Brisbane ça craint

A customer dobbed (that’s Australian for, to inform against someone) a popular Brisbane restaurant Les Bubbles to food safety authorities after a rat scurried past her during the dinner rush, a court has been told.

Melanie Petrinec of the Courier Mail reports embattled restaurateur Damian Griffiths was today fined $3000 and company Limes Properties Pty Ltd was fined $30,000 after pleading guilty to breaches of food standards.

Griffiths was overseas when the case was mentioned in the Brisbane Magistrates Court last week, and did not appear in person.

Instead, his lawyer made submissions in writing to the court to say Griffiths was “simply unaware of what was going on” at his former restaurant when the rat was discovered in October, 2016.

Les Bubbles is now under new management and a spokesperson says all checks and pest inspections were now up to date.

Brisbane City Council prosecutor Andrea Lopez said it was irrelevant if he was aware or not, and revealed it was a customer who raised the alarm with authorities.

“A live rodent during a busy dinner rush has actually run across the room in the restaurant,” she said.

“The rodent has been quite comfortable in the food business.”

Subsequently, food safety inspectors claimed to find dirty equipment and rodent droppings in multiple areas including under the kitchen bench, under a downstairs bar and near the dishwashing area.

Ms Lopez said the rat droppings indicated “quite a large presence of rodent activity”.