19 sickened: Temperatures matter; C. perfringens outbreak at a catered lunch Connecticut, 2016

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in September 2016, the Connecticut Department of Public Health was notified of a cluster of gastrointestinal illnesses among persons who shared a catered lunch.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health worked with the local health department to investigate the outbreak and recommend control measures. Information about symptoms and foods eaten was gathered using an online survey. A case was defined as the onset of abdominal pain or diarrhea in a lunch attendee <24 hours after the lunch. Risk ratios (RRs), 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and Fisher’s exact p-values were calculated for all food and beverages consumed. Associations of food exposures with illness were considered statistically significant at p<0.05. Among approximately 50 attendees, 30 (60%) completed the survey; 19 (63%) respondents met the case definition. The majority of commonly reported symptoms included diarrhea (17 of 18), abdominal pain (15 of 16), and headache (7 of 15).

The median interval from lunch to illness onset was 5.3 hours (range = 0.4–15.5 hours) for any symptom and 7 hours (range = 2.5–13 hours) for diarrhea. Analysis of food exposures reported by 16 ill and 10 well respondents (four respondents did not provide food exposure information) found illness to be associated with the beef dish (RR = undefined; CI = 1.06–∞; p = 0.046) (Table). All 16 ill respondents reported eating the beef. Coffee was also associated with illness; however, all 13 coffee drinkers who became ill also ate the beef. Eating cake approached significance (p = 0.051); all 10 cake eaters who became ill also ate the beef.The caterer had begun preparing all dishes the day before the lunch. Meats were partially cooked and then marinated in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, they were sautéed 2 hours before lunch. Inspection of the facility found the limited refrigerator space to be full of stacked containers that were completely filled with cooked food, disposable gloves that appeared to have been washed for reuse, and a porous wooden chopping block.

The caterer’s four food workers reported no recent illness. Stool specimens from the food workers and from four ill attendees all tested negative for norovirus, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, Salmonella, and Shigella at the Connecticut State Public Health Laboratory. All eight specimens were sent to the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory, where additional testing was available. Two specimens from food workers were positive for enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli by polymerase chain reaction, but no enterotoxigenic E. coli colonies were isolated. Seven specimens (four from food workers and three from attendees) were culture-positive for Clostridium perfringens, and specimens from all attendees contained C. perfringens enterotoxin. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of 29 C. perfringens isolates from the culture-positive specimens found no matches among attendee isolates, but demonstrated a single matching pattern between two food worker specimens. No leftover food items were available for testing.

C. perfringens, a gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium, forms spores allowing survival at normal cooking temperatures and germination during slow cooling or storage at ambient temperature (1). Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms are caused by C. perfringens enterotoxin production in the intestines. Vomiting is rare and illness is usually self-limited, although type C strains can cause necrotizing enteritis (1).

Symptoms reported were consistent with C. perfringens infection, with a predominance of diarrhea, and median diarrhea onset time was at the lower end of the typical C. perfringens incubation period (6–24 hours) (1). C. perfringens enterotoxin detection in the stool of two or more ill persons confirms C. perfringens as the outbreak etiology (2). Both C. perfringens and enterotoxigenic E. coli can colonize asymptomatic persons (3,4), which might explain the presence of these pathogens in the stools of asymptomatic food workers. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis did not identify the C. perfringens strain responsible for the outbreak, but findings add to the evidence for a wide variety of C. perfringens strains, not all producing C. perfringens enterotoxin (5).

C. perfringens outbreaks are typically associated with improper cooling or inadequate reheating of contaminated meats (1), which might have occurred with the beef dish. The restaurant was advised about the need for adequate refrigeration and best practices for cooling foods, including using stainless steel rather than plastic containers, avoiding filling containers to depths exceeding two inches, avoiding stacking containers, and ventilating hot food. Upon follow-up inspection, staff members discarded disposable gloves after one use, used only food-grade cutting boards, and maintained proper food temperatures for hot holding, cold holding, cooling, and reheating, as outlined in the Food and Drug Administration Food Code.

An estimated 1 million illnesses in the United States each year are attributable to C. perfringens, but fewer than 1,200 illnesses are reported annually with C. perfringens outbreaks (6). C. perfringens testing is not routine for foodborne outbreaks; even if testing is unavailable, C. perfringens should be considered when improper cooling, inadequate reheating, and improper temperature maintenance of meat are identified.

USDA: Everything you ever wanted to know about labeling needle- or blade–tenderized beef

Compliance Documents

Q1. Where can I find information on the new “mechanically tenderized beef products regulation per 9 CFR 317.2(e)(3)?

Information on “mechanically tenderized beef products” is available from the following locations:

Labeling Issues

Q2. Under this final rule, will the product need to be labeled with the specific method of mechanical tenderization used to prepare the product?

tenderizedmeat2_custom-949f4ddbfc4f2cb411923f9296e69966fe69d995-s1100-c85No, the label need not include the specific type of mechanical tenderization used. To provide flexibility, FSIS is allowing the phrase ‘‘mechanically tenderized’’ to be used as the descriptive designation on any type of mechanically tenderized product. In addition, in lieu of “mechanically tenderized,” such product may be labeled as ‘‘needle tenderized’’ or ‘‘blade tenderized,’’ as applicable.

Q3. Can “needle injected” be used as the descriptive designation on the labels of raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized?

No, needle injected may not be used as the descriptive designation. The terms “needle tenderized” or “mechanically tenderized” must be used as the descriptive designation for needle tenderized raw or partially cooked beef products and the terms “mechanically tenderized” or “blade tenderized” must be used as the descriptive designation for raw or partially cooked blade tenderized beef products.

Q4. Are the descriptive designations “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized,” or “needle tenderized” only required on raw or partially cooked beef products?

Yes, unless the product is destined to be fully cooked or to receive another full lethality

treatment at an official establishment, such product must be labeled accordingly.

Q5. Do the new labeling requirements apply to mechanically tenderized pork, lamb, or goat products?

No. The rule applies only to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized.

Q6. Can establishments put both mechanically tenderized beef products and non- mechanically tenderized beef products in the same immediate container and label it with the descriptive designation “mechanically tenderized?”

No. To label product as “mechanically tenderized” when it was not would be false and misleading.

needle-tenderize-crQ7. If we sell mechanically tenderized raw or partially cooked beef or veal products in protective coverings, must the protective coverings meet the mechanical tenderization labeling requirements when the immediate container of this product is labeled “For Institutional Use Only?”

No. Under 9 CFR 317.1(a)(1), protective coverings should not bear any mandatory labeling information.” In this case, the immediate container, which also serves as the shipping container, is required to be labeled with the descriptive designation and bear validated cooking instructions and all other applicable labeling features.

Q8. Is beef cubed steak is subject to the new labeling requirements?

No, this regulation will not apply to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been cubed. The regulation is specific to needle and blade tenderized beef products. FSIS stated in the final rule:

The descriptive designation will only apply to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been needle tenderized or blade-tenderized, including beef products injected with marinade or solution. Other tenderization methods, such as pounding and cubing, change the appearance of the product, putting consumers on notice that the product is not intact. Moreover, most establishments already label cubed products as such. (80 FR 28157)

Q9. Must the labels for raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products be submitted to the FSIS Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS) for approval?

No. The descriptive designations, “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized,” and “needle tenderized” are not considered special statements or claims under 9 CFR 412.1(c). Therefore, as stated in the final rule, simply adding the descriptive designation and validated cooking instructions to a label would not require LPDS approval, given the label is otherwise in accordance with FSIS’s regulations.

Q10. Do the new labeling requirements apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products that are produced at establishments that use a validated intervention during the production of such products?

Yes, the new labeling requirements would apply to products treated with a validated antimicrobial intervention, unless the establishment applies a lethality treatment that achieves a 5-log reduction in pathogens. Mechanically tenderized beef product treated at an official establishment with an intervention or process, including HPP, that has been validated to achieve at least a 5-log reduction for Salmonella and Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) organisms (including E. coli 0157:H7) would not be subject to the requirements in this final rule because it has received a full lethality treatment. (See 80 FR 28153)

Q11. Do the new labeling requirements apply to mechanically tenderized beef products labeled or prepared at retail stores?

Yes, the new labeling requirements would apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products produced, packaged, and labeled at a retail store.

Cooking Instructions

Q12. Is there compliance guidance available on validating cooking instructions for mechanically tenderized beef products?

Yes, at:

FSIS Compliance Guideline for Validating Cooking Instructions for Mechanically Tenderized Beef Products

Q13. Where can I find scientific studies on validated cooking instructions?

Attachment 1 of the above FSIS Compliance Guideline for Validating Cooking Instructions for Mechanically Tenderized Beef Products contains a summary of published scientific support for cooking instructions.

Q14. Do the new labeling requirements apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products that are too thin to practically measure their internal temperature using a food thermometer?

No, the new labeling requirements do not apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized (including through injection with a solution) beef products that are too thin to measure their internal temperature using a food thermometer, such as beef bacon or carne asada. FSIS does not intend to enforce the requirements for these products because they are customarily prepared in a manner that is sufficient to destroy pathogenic bacteria.

Note that the thickness of many food thermometers used by consumers is approximately 1/8,” making it difficult to measure the end product temperature of products 1/8” thick or less through use of a thermometer.

Q15. Where on the label of raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products can the validated cooking instructions appear?

Validated cooking instructions must appear on the immediate containers of all raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products destined for household consumers, hotels, restaurants, or similar institutions. These instructions can appear anywhere on the product label.

Mechanically Tenderized Beef With Solutions

Q16. Must the label of a raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef product that contains added solution also declare the percentage of added solution?

Yes. However, there are different options for declaring the total amount of solution added. See 9 CFR 317.2(e)(2).

Q17. Do the new labeling requirements apply to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been marinated in a tumbler or vacuum tumbled?

The rule only applies to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized by needle or blade. This rule does not apply to other processes, such as tumbling or vacuum tumbling, unless the product is also mechanically tenderized by needle or blade.

needle-tenderize-beef

Woman in north India says she was raped ‘for eating beef’

The world is going through an extremist phase.

religious-extremism-1-728Everywhere.

A Muslim woman in north India says she was gang raped after her attackers accused her of eating beef.

The woman, 20, from Haryana state’s Mewat district said four men sexually assaulted her and a cousin, 14, two weeks ago even though they denied they had eaten beef.

The accused also beat her uncle and aunt to death and injured four family members.

“They asked if we eat beef. We said we don’t, but they insisted we did,” the woman told Indian network NDTV.

India’s Hindu majority regard cows as holy, and their slaughter is banned in several regions.

In recent months, right-wing Hindu fringe groups have led campaigns and vigilante actions targeting Muslims and low-caste Dalits over alleged cattle slaughter and beef consumption.

 

How the screwworm’s sex life saved steaks

NPR’s Goats and Soda reports that over the past 70 years, the U.S. has been waging a war against a miniature menace: the New World screwworm.

The fly survives by eating warm-blooded flesh: A fly lands on a wound in the skin and lays hundreds of eggs. The eggs hatch into swarms of wormlike larvae, which then burrow into the wound. The larvae have little ridges on their surface, which makes them look like screws inserted into skin. The larvae gorge on the flesh for a few days until they’re full and then fall out of the wound.

screwworm_1-0e3313ab520bc20e0c62493961b88c9b1ae98d53-s1100-c85In the early 20th century, the critters were wreaking havoc on the beef industry. They were costing farmers millions of dollars each year, not just in the U.S. but also in Central and South America. One infection could “kill a fully grown steer in 10 days,” The New York Times wrote in 1977. So in the 1930s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hired a bunch of scientists to study the fly.

One of them was Edward F. Knipling, a young entomologist who had grown up on a Texas cattle farm. Specifically, Knipling wanted to sterilize a bunch of male flies in the lab and then unleash them into the wild. With enough impotent flies out there courting the ladies, the fly population would eventually plummet, Knipling theorized. Other scientists balked at the idea. They didn’t think it would work.

“Scientists would say, ‘You just can’t castrate enough flies,’ ” says Knipling’s son, Edward B. Knipling. “Telling people you’re going to study the sex life of the screwworm gets some chuckles even today,” the son says. “But in the 1930s, it was such a brand new idea. The scientific community thought my dad was pulling their leg.” But Knipling was dead serious. And for more than two decades, he worked on the fly sterilization project with his colleague Raymond Bushland. They devised a way to grow millions of flies in the lab, using big vats of ground beef, warmed up to body temperature. They figured out how to sterilize the flies using gamma rays — a new technology that came out of research on the atomic bomb. By 1958, Knipling and Bushland had convinced the U.S. government to start air dropping the sterilized male flies across Florida. Each week they unleashed 50 million flies. And what do you know? It worked. Screwworm flies started to disappear. Cattle no longer died from larval intrusion. By early 1959, the screwworm had disappeared from the entire Southeast U.S. “From there, the snowball got rolling,” Edward B. Knipling says. The government started airdropping the flies across Texas, the Southwest and eventually into Mexico and Central America. By 1997, the project had wiped out screwworms all the way from Texas to Panama. Even today the USDA continues to release flies in Panama to prevent fertile males from sneaking out of South America and reinfecting the U.S.

 “It creates a buffer zone,” Edward B. Knipling says. Eradication of the screwworm has saved farmers in North and Central Americas billions of dollars, the USDA says. It has reduced the price of beef. The U.N. called it one of the “greatest achievements in animal health” in the 20th century. This September, Knipling and Bushland will posthumously be given theGolden Goose Award, which honors “seemingly obscure, federally funded research” that has led to big breakthroughs.

Chilliwack Butcher recalls meat due to E. coli

Fraser Health has issued an alert about raw ground beef products produced by Fraser Valley Meats.

The health authority says raw lean and extra lean ground beef produced and sold between March 5th and March 8th from the butcher shop may be contaminated with E. coli.

A sample tested positive, but Fraser Health says there were no food safety issues with the process in which the products were prepared.

Needle and damage done: beef roasts

Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in beef roasts cooked under selected cooking conditions was evaluated.

needle.tenderize.crEye of round roasts were each inoculated at five sites in the central plane with a five-strain cocktail of E. coli O157:H7 at ca. 6.3 log CFU per site and cooked to center temperatures of 56 to 71°C in a convection oven set at 120, 140, 180, or 200°C, in a conventional oven set at 120 or 210°C, and in a slow cooker set on high or low.

Prime rib roasts were each inoculated at 10 sites throughout the roast with the same E. coli O157:H7 cocktail at ca. 6.6 log CFU per site and cooked in the conventional oven set at 140 or 180°C to center temperatures of 58 to 71°C.

The number of sites yielding E. coli O157:H7 after cooking decreased with increasing roast center temperature for the eye of round roasts cooked in the convection oven or in the slow cooker at a given setting, but this trend was not apparent for roasts of either type cooked in the conventional oven. Reductions of E. coli O157 in both types of roasts were generally less at the center than at other locations, particularly locations closer to the surface of the meat. When eye of round roasts were cooked to the same center temperature in the convection oven, the reduction of E. coli O157:H7 increased with increasing oven temperature up to 180°C and decreased after that. The reduction of E. coli O157:H7 in replicate roasts cooked under conditions in which the organism was not eliminated during cooking mostly differed by >1 log CFU per site. However, E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered from any of the inoculation sites when eye of round roasts were cooked to 65, 60, 60, or 63°C in the convection oven set at 120, 140, 180, and 200°C, respectively; cooked to 63 or 71°C in the conventional oven set at 120 and 210°C, respectively; or cooked to 63°C in the slow cooker set at high or low.

For prime rib roasts, E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered from any of the inoculation sites in roasts cooked to 71 or 58°C in the conventional oven set at 140 and 180°C, respectively.

Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in beef roasts cooked in conventional or convection ovens or in a slow cooker under selected conditions.

J Food Prot. 2016 Feb;79(2):205-12. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-116

Gill CO, Devos J, Badoni M, Yang X

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26818980

Irealand? Really?Nearly two decades after ban, Irish beef is back in America

Irish beef was served in New York City for the first time in 17 years on Monday night, after a ban in 1998 saw all European beef restricted from entry into America.

ireland.beef.us.feb.15At a swanky event in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Ireland’s agriculture minister, Simon Coveney, presented a sample of his nation’s beef to a crowd of chefs and food writers, and presented the case for Irish beef filling the huge American demand for red meat.

“The average American eats twice the volume of beef per head to the average European. So you take your beef very seriously,” Coveney said.

“If we are to be serious players in this market, we need to prove to you that we take our beef seriously,” he continued. “And we do.”

Monday’s event was held at Daniel, French chef Daniel Boulud’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant, which prepared a series of dishes with Coveney’s beef as a demonstration of its flavour.

“It does taste a little bit different to US beef,” Coveney told the crowd. Irish cattle are grass-fed, the minister said, and happily for Ireland “the fastest growing segment in the beef market in the US is actually the green beef, or grass-fed”.

The Irish beef last served in the US would be old enough to drive by now, had it the necessary appendages and wherewithal. The US imposed a Europe-wide ban on all beef on 1 January 1998, at the height of the BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka “mad cow disease”) crisis.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Economy Minister John Deng (鄧振中) said Wednesday that Taiwan may ease restrictions on imports of American beef amid reports that it will allow in six kinds of beef parts to make it easier to join the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc.

Deng, who is in Washington, D.C., for a visit, told a CNA reporter in Taipei by phone that the six types of beef under consideration — bone marrow, blood vessels, head meat, cheek meat, weasand and tallow — are not internal organs and therefore not banned by law.

But businessmen have not been willing to import these beef parts for fear of violating the law because the cuts have not been defined and classified clearly enough under the law, he said.

Deng stressed that the government will not open Taiwan to beef internal organs from the U.S. at the expense of public health or in contravention of laws passed by the Legislature.

US health groups want mechanically tenderized meat label rule finalized

Food safety types are pressuring the Obama administration to finalize a rule before the year ends that will require meat packers to label beef that is mechanically tenderized.

needle.tenderize.crThe Center for Foodborne Illness (CFI) Research & Prevention said if the U.S. Department of Agriculture labeling rule is not published by Dec. 31, it won’t be implemented until January 2018 due to Food Safety and Inspection Service uniform compliance date requirements for labeling meat and poultry products.

The nonprofit health organization said mechanically tenderizing meat creates a higher risk of bacteria contamination that causes food poisoning. 

Mechanically tenderized products like steaks and roasts are repeatedly pierced by small needles or blades, which the group says increases the risk of pathogens located on the surface of the product being transferred to the interior.

needle.tenderize.beef.HC.feb.14From 2003 to 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of five foodborne illnesses attributable to needle- or blade-tenderized beef products prepared in restaurants and consumers’ homes. 

The rules would require the labels to display cooking instructions so consumers have the information they need to properly destroy pathogens.

Canada passed a labeling law in Aug. 2014.

Salmonella in beef; Danish officials kept yet another food scandal secret

Up to 130 people, including a three-year-old boy, may have gotten ill from salmonella in ground beef in an outbreak that was kept hidden from the public until now.

skare.denmarkMetroxpress obtained access to documents that reveal that ground beef infected with multi resistant salmonella was sold by the Vejen-based food company Skare in June.

Skare delivered the beef to stores on June 13th but did not recall it as required by law when an analysis the following day found the presence of salmonella.

According to the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI), 19 people, including the three-year-old, reported being ill just days later. Beyond the 19 registered cases, SSI estimates that up to 130 people may have been sickened by the tainted meat.

“Six of the 19 were so sick that they were hospitalised,” SSI’s Kåre Mølbak told Metroxpress.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestrylsen) first traced the infection to Skare a full 40 days after the meat was sent to stores, but the food authorities did not require a recall.

Neither Skare or Fødevarestrylsen will tell consumers where the meat was sold.

“This is confidential information, the release of which would cause considerable economic harm to the company,” Fødevarestrylsen wrote, according to Metroxpress.

Food safety expert Orla Zinck called the authorities’ decision “a scandal of unimaginable proportions.”

“Fødevarestrylsen’s acts are a danger to consumers’ health when it, out of consideration for Skare’s revenues, fails to recall dangerous meat and on top of that hides where it was sold,” Zinck told Metroxpress.

Fødevarestrylsen has also faced criticism for its slow reaction to a listeria outbreak that has caused 16 deaths.

China farms push puts safety first

A giant Chinese meat importer has put food safety and quality at the top of its shopping list as it invests tens of millions of dollars in the Western Australia livestock industry.

amy_s_lamb_aug_12(1)Grand Farm president Chen Xibin said there was huge potential to build on WA’s reputation for producing safe food using modern farming methods and high standards in processing.

Brad Thompson of The West Australian reports that Grand Farm has started eyeing farms in WA as part of its history-making deal with South West meat processor V&V Walsh to secure huge volumes of quality lamb and beef.

Mr Chen arrived in WA late last week for meetings as part of the deal that will see V&V Walsh process an extra 500,000 lambs and 30,000 cattle a year.

Grand Farm, China’s biggest importer of red meat from Australia and New Zealand, is investing $1 billion in boosting supply and processing capacity with the backing of authorities in Inner Mongolia. Mr Chen said the company was considering all options for increasing supply out of WA, including buying farms, developing feedlots and live exports.