Going public, Salmonella-in-French-cheese-style: Morbier and Mont d’Or cheese behind 10 deaths in France, 2015-16

In a country where reporting foodborne illness is deemed unpatriotic an investigation by France Inter radio revealed that at least 10 people died in the Franche-Comté region in the east of France linked to two cheeses made from unpasteurized milk  in late 2015 and early 2016.

The investigation produced a document which showed that in January 2016 national health authorities had discovered an unusually high number of salmonella contaminations in France that was centred on Franche-Comté.

Five cheese making companies in the region, between them making 60 different brands, were later identified as being at the source of the contaminations that began in November 2015 and continued until April the following year.

In a way that is truly French in its description, those who died in the outbreak were old people who were physically weak or who suffered from another illness.

Jean-Yves Mano, the president of the CLCV consumer association, said he was surprised that a product recall had not been ordered of products that might have been infected with salmonella.

“We do not understand why a general alert was not issued by state officials, or at least information given on what precautions to take,” he told France Inter.

The state food agency, the Direction générale de l’alimentation (DGAL), said there were two reasons why a recall was not ordered.

The first was that it would have allegedly been very difficult to identify which exact brand of the cheeses were contaminated because there were a total of 60 that were produced in the cheese-making firms where the outbreak originated.

The second was that by the time the authorities found out where the outbreak had come from, the contaminated cheeses had already been consumed and the new batches in the cheesemakers’ premises were not infected.

“It is perhaps due to these two factors that this contamination was not in the media, even though all the data was public nothing was hidden,” said Fany Molin of the DGAL food agency.

That’s French-bureau-speak.

Go public: Further illnesses may be prevented; others learn; citizens may not come with torches demanding change; and it’s the right thing to do.

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

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.

Washed rind cheeses from France recalled in Australia

The NSW Food Authority advises Washed Rind Pty Ltd has recalled a variety of cheeses made in France from IGA and Supa IGA in NSW, independent retailers in QLD and ACT, Foodworks and independent retailers in VIC, Foodlands IGA and independent retailers in SA and IGA, Supa IGA and independent retailers in WA due to potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Product details:

Saint Simeon 200g, Plastic container, Best before 08-04-201

Brie de Nangis 1kg, Wrapped in cheesepaper/plastic and set in ½ wooden box, Best before 08-04-2018

Le Vignelait Brillat Savarin 500g, Plastic container, Best before 8-04-2018

Coulommiers Truffe 800g, Wrapped in cheesepaper/plastic and set in ½ wooden box, Best before 08-04-2018 and 22-04-2018

Le Coulommiers 500g, Wrapped in cheesepaper/plastic and set in ½ wooden box, Best before 08-04-2018 and 22-04-2018

Brie de Brie Pasteurise 2.8kg, Wrapped in cheesepaper/plastic and set in ½ wooden box, Best before 08-04-2018 and 22-04-2018

60 days don’t mean shit: 1 dead, 28 sick from E. coli O157:H7 in raw milk cheese, Canada, 2013

Between 12 July and 29 September 2013, 29 individuals in five Canadian provinces became ill following infection with the same strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7 as defined by molecular typing results. Five case patients were hospitalized, and one died.

Twenty-six case patients (90%) reported eating Gouda cheese originating from a dairy plant in British Columbia. All of the 22 case patients with sufficient product details available reported consuming Gouda cheese made with raw milk; this cheese had been produced between March and July 2013 and was aged for a minimum of 60 days. The outbreak strain was isolated from the implicated Gouda cheese, including one core sample obtained from an intact cheese wheel 83 days after production.

The findings indicate that raw milk was the primary source of the E. coli O157:H7, which persisted through production and the minimum 60-day aging period. This outbreak is the third caused by E. coli O157:H7 traced to Gouda cheese made with raw milk in North America.

These findings provide further evidence that a 60-day ripening period cannot ensure die-off of pathogens that might be present in raw milk Gouda cheese after production and have triggered an evaluation of processing conditions, physicochemical parameters, and options to mitigate the risk of E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with raw milk Gouda cheese produced in Canada.

Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections linked to aged raw milk gouda cheese, Canada, 2013

Andrea Currie, Eleni Galanis, Pedro Chacon, Regan Murray, Lynn Wilcott, Paul Kirkby, Lance Honish, Kristyn Franklin, Jeff Farber, Rob Parker, Sion Shyng, Davendra Sharma, Lorelee Tschetter, Linda Hoang, Linda Chui, Ana Pacagnella, Julie Wong, Jane Pritchard, Ashley Kerr, Marsha Taylor, Victor Mah, and James Flint

Journal of Food Protection, vol. 81, No. 2, 2018, pg. 325-331

doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-283

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29369688

1 sick from Listeria linked to raw sheep milk cheeses from Spain

On February 5 the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition has learned through the Coordinated System of Rapid Information Exchange (SCIRI) of the existence of an affected by meningitis in the Community of Madrid, as a result of intoxication food by Listeria monocytogenes presumably associated with the consumption of soft milk sheep cheese made by the company Ohian Txiki Koop located in the Basque Country. The affected one evolves favorably.

The cheeses allegedly involved are the following:

Gutizia, raw sheep milk cheese. 

Txuria , soft cheese from raw sheep’s milk. 

Beltza,  lactic cheese-curl of raw sheep’s milk.

These products have been distributed from the manufacturer to the Autonomous Communities of Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country. On February 7 there is evidence that from Madrid, there has been a small redistribution to Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Galicia, Valencia and Portugal, few units.

The removal of all batches of raw soft-ewe sheep milk cheese is being carried out. 

This information has been communicated through the system of the national alert network to the competent Authorities of the Autonomous Communities that are carrying out the appropriate actions, as well as to the competent Portuguese Authorities through the Rapid Alert Network System for Food and Feed. European.

As a precautionary measure, people who have some packaging of these products at home are advised, refrain from consuming them and if they have consumed them and if they present any unusual symptoms, it is recommended to go to a health center.

Salmonella in French cheese

During a routine check, the presence of Salmonella was found in the product Herbie Fenugreek, cheese block +/- 200 g with expiry date 24/01/2018 and batch number L14 319 UU: MM. No other product in the range is concerned. This product has been sold in different Delhaize stores in Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

In collaboration with the AFSCA, Kaasimport Jan Dupont nv. decided to withdraw the proceeds from the sale and to recall the products already sold.   Product Description: – Product Name: Block Herbie Fenugreek Cheese +/- 200 g – Brand: Herbie – Manufacturer: Het Hinkelspel – To consume until the 24/01/2018 – The lot number is on the back label, just above the bar code: L14 319 UU: MM – Weight: +/- 200 gr – Product packaging: transparent film with 2 labels – Sales period: from 16/11/2017 to 28/11/2017 – Approval number: BE CO 378 A EG – The variable EAN code starting with: 29537875 XXXXX  Customers are advised not to consume Herbie Fenugreek Cheese and return it to Delhaize Point of Sale. When returning the product, it will be refunded. 

Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK E. coli cheesemaker edition

Jane Bradley of the Scotsman reports an artisan cheesemaker which is embroiled in a court case with food hygiene authorities after being forced to withdraw its products amid an outbreak of E.coli which killed a three year old girl, has been named one of Britain’s top cheese producers in an industry awards ceremony.

Errington Cheeses, which is awaiting a court date against South Lanarkshire Council, which ordered the manufacturer to stop production of its raw milk cheeses amid an investigation following the outbreak of the food poisoning bug last summer, was given runner up in the Best Artisan Producer category at the Great British Cheese Awards. The Lanarkshire-based business also came runner up in the category of Best Blue Cheese for its Lanark Blue cheese, at the awards at Marcus Wareing’s Gilbert Scott restaurant in London, hosted by food website Great British Chefs.

The company is currently only making one type of cheese – made from ewe’s milk – pending its court case against South Lanarkshire Council. Owner Humphrey Errington, who launched the firm in 1985, has insisted that his cheese is not the source of the food poisoning outbreak – which saw 19 people hospitalised – and has claimed that the authorities, including Food Standards Scotland, are trying to curb production of raw milk cheese. A Just Giving campaign launched to help Errington cover its legal costs, raised £34,000 from supporters. Twitter user Artisan Food wrote: “Chefs vote of confidence @ErringtonCheese Resilience in face of harassment/bias/ignorance.” In March, an official report from Health Protection Scotland into the E.coli outbreak claimed that Errington’s Dunsyre Blue was the source of the bacteria.

The Australian Institute of Food Safety identifies five high risk food items for poisoning

In the UK each year roughly 20,000 people are hospitalised with food poisoning and 500 people die.
Symptoms are unpleasant and include vomiting, diarrhoea and a high temperature, according to the NHS.
There are a number of causes, including chemicals, toxins and bacteria.
While it’s almost always an accident, food poisoning tends to affect people after they’ve eaten particular foods.
According to the Australian Institute of Food Safety, this is because certain foods are more at risk of bacterial growth than others.
Poultry
Raw and undercooked poultry can be contaminated with campylobacter bacteria and salmonella.
According to the Australian Institute of Food Safety, the bacteria can survive up until cooking kills them – so make sure you cook it thoroughly and don’t contaminate surfaces with raw chicken.

Cook poultry to an internal temperature of 74C (165F) to ensure safety, forget the jargon “cook thoroughly,”doesn’t tell me anything.

Eggs
Last week it was revealed that Dutch eggs contaminated with insecticide may have entered the UK.
They can also sometimes be contaminated with salmonella.
You can avoid being affected by cooking eggs thoroughly, and avoiding foods that purposely contain undercooked eggs, like mayonnaises and salad dressings, according to the Australian Institute of Food Safety.

Leafy greens
Because they are often eaten raw with no cooking process, bacteria like E.coli can easily affect you.
However, according to the Australian Institute of Food Safety, washing them can reduce risk of harmful bacteria as well as chemical pesticides.

Well this all depends if the salad is pre-washed and labelled accordingly, if so, washing lettuce at home will only increase the risk of cross-contamination. Reducing the food safety risk with leafy greens begins well before it arrives in your home.

Raw milk
This is where milk is unpasteurised, meaning it has not been heated up to kill harmful bacteria.
It leaves you at a higher risk than regular milk of consuming bacteria like E.coli, salmonella and listeria.

Raw milk has always left an impression on me ever since I was a food tech in Alberta. The health department submitted a sample of raw milk from a community in Alberta where a significant number of kids became ill. I was responsible in analyzing the milk to determine the etiologic agent and I remember vividly looking at this black, overgrown agar plate, completely taken over by Campylobacter jejuni, poor kids.

Cheese
A bacteria commonly found in cheese is staphylococcus aureus.
It’s heat resistant, so the best way of avoiding cheese becoming contaminated is to store it at or under 5 degrees.

 

300 French schoolchildren sickened by ‘gone-off cheese’

Katie Forster of The Independent reports a dodgy batch of smelly French cheese has been blamed for a mass food poisoning outbreak at schools in Normandy.

All French cheese smalls bad.

Dodgy is not a microbiologically–specific term.

An investigation launched after 300 children fell ill in the town of Rouen named the culprit as gone-off cheese served up by school canteens.

One parent said her child would be avoiding school meals after the scandal, telling local media: “I’d prefer to take them to a fast food place”.

Local authorities inspected the producers of the cheese – a soft, mould-ripened local variety called neufchâtel – but were unable to identify the origin of the contamination.

The children began to suffer headaches, vomiting and stomach aches after eating the cheese at 54 different primary schools and nurseries on 27 April.

A survey of 1,000 parents of children in the region, both those affected and not affected by the outbreak, found a “strong association between the consumption of the cheese and the appearance of digestive symptoms,” according to the local health board.

 

1 dead, 4 sick in 2014: Miami cheese producer jailed for 15 months

On August 4, 2014, Oasis Brands, Inc. voluntarily recalled quesito casero (fresh curd) due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

oasis-listeria-oct_-14On October 6, 2014, Oasis Brands, Inc. recalled cuajada en hoja (fresh curd) after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isolated Listeria monocytogenes from environmental samples collected from the production facility.

Whole-genome sequences of the Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from recalled quesito casero cheese produced by Oasis Brands, Inc. were found to be highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from one person who became ill in September 2013 and four persons who became ill during June through October 2014.

These five ill persons were reported from four states: Georgia (1), New York (1), Tennessee (2), and Texas (1).

Four of the five ill persons were hospitalized. One death was reported in Tennessee. Three illnesses were related to a pregnancy – one of these was diagnosed in a newborn.

All ill persons were reported to be of Hispanic ethnicity and reported consuming Hispanic-style soft cheese. Two persons who were able to answer questions about specific varieties of Hispanic-style soft cheeses reported consuming quesito casero, though neither could remember the brand.

According to Andrea Torres of ABC Channel 10, after making promises to the feds, Christian Rivas knew he was distributing cheese with listeria and did so anyway.

Rivas was in federal prison Nov. 11, 2016 and faced 15 moths in prison after federal prosecutors armed with the results of CDC tests and FDA inspections were ready to show consumers were “fraudulently led to believe” the cheese was safe to eat when it wasn’t. 

Before the criminal case, authorities recalled 15 of their “Lacteos Santa Martha ” products targeting Central American migrants in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. The list included the “Queso Seco Olanchano,” the “Queso Seco Hondureno,” the  “Queso Cuzcatlan,” and the “Crema Guatemalteca.”

Rivas plead guilty to charges that he acted with an “intent to defraud and mislead, delivered cheese processed and packed at the Oasis facility into interstate commerce that was adulterated,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola sentenced Rivas to 15 months in prison.  

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Justin Green, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), Miami Field Office, announced the sentencing

“We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who put the public’s health at risk by allowing contaminated foods to enter the U.S. marketplace,” Green said.