Eggs are going to have Salmonella in ways we can’t predict, because we are mere mortals: Brits say, we know better

On the same day that Australia celebrated national egg day with vid-clips of schoolchildren pronouncing their love of eggs, the UK Food Standards Authority says it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

These are both so wrong on so many levels.

The UK’s contribution to international cuisine has been mushy peas and mad cow disease.

The UK Food Standards Authority’s contribution to food policy has been cook your food until it is piping hot, and now, it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

With five daughters, I’ve spent a lot of time around pregnant women, they may feel like Rocky Balboa, but biology don’t work that way.

The Food Standards Agency has announced a change to its advice about eating eggs – infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The revised advice, based on the latest scientific evidence, means that people vulnerable to infection or who are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning (such as infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people) can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or foods containing them.

We had previously advised that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs, because eggs may contain salmonella bacteria which can cause serious illness.  

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in February 2015 to look at egg safety. Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted that the presence of salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years, and the risks are very low for eggs which have been produced according to food safety controls applied by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It’s good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hardboil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark. The FSA has thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, and we’re confident that we can now change our advice to consumers.

“The major reduction in the risk of salmonella in Lion eggs is testament to the work carried out by egg producers. The measures they’ve taken, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced salmonella levels in UK hens.”

A range of interventions have been put in place across the food chain as part of the Lion scheme including: vaccinating hens, enhanced testing for salmonella, improved farm hygiene, effective rodent control, independent auditing and traceability, and keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop.

Great. Show us mere mortals the numbers.

And any science-based body that recommends cooking food until it is piping hot is seriously suspect.

Egg farmer David Brass says the introduction of the British Lion standard has made all the difference.

“We know from back in the ’80s when all the scare started, there was an issue with eggs.

“But what the Lion standard does, it is a fully independent, audited code of practice to make sure we have standards on the farm that make sure we can’t have any of those disease problems again.

“And it has shown time after time, in those intervening years, that it is just a brilliant food safety code.”

Yup, audits make the difference (not).

This won’t end well.

In Australia, the morning shows were filled with fluff about the greatness of eggs, with no mention of the following outbreaks involving raw eggs or raw-egg sauces.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

11M eggs destroyed: Health types in Israel warn of Salmonella threat

Baltimore Jewish Life, one of my must-reads in the tub, reports the Israeli Health Ministry has called on the general public not to buy “Yesh Maohf” eggs with a ‘last date of sale’ of 20 October. Officials are also calling on the tzibur at large to destroy 11 million eggs.

 Officials do not want the eggs returned, for this will spread the infection. Consumers are instructed to take the loss and destroy eggs.

The Ministries of Health and Agriculture emphasize that it is forbidden to consume eggs that have already been purchased and that they must be destroyed by throwing them into the garbage can.

ProMed followed up on this, and was provided with a report from Israeli health types:

The Israeli Ministry of Health is investigating a recent increase in laboratory notifications of _Salmonella enterica_ serovar Enteritidis infections. During May-July 2017 at least 848 patients infected with _S._ Enteritidis were reported, compared with 294 cases in the same period in 2016 (2.9-fold increase). During this period _S._ Enteritidis accounted for 58 percent of salmonellosis cases in Israel which marks a major increase in this serovar. Salmonellosis cases were reported nationwide, with case clusters reported mainly from the Jerusalem and the Southern districts. About 2 percent of cases involved invasive infection.

Several outbreak clusters were reported and investigated during this period in kindergartens, hostels, and restaurants across the country. Epidemiology, trace back, and laboratory data have linked several of the outbreak clusters to eggs with hen farms and egg distributors identified as possible sources. PFGE [pulsed-field gel electrophoresis] analysis of isolates from most reported clusters revealed a shared pulsotype. Further analysis by whole genome sequencing and whole genome MLST (wgMLST) [whole genome multi locus sequence typing] identified several sub-clones. Of particular interest is the identification of a clone from geographically distinct salmonellosis clusters that were temporally linked with a common egg distributor (“Yesh Maof”). This clone has also been detected in the context of a kindergarten outbreak in Southern Israel in 2016. Notably, several disease clusters are associated with _S._ Enteritidis strains belonging to the same pulsotype but accounting for distantly related WGS-types [whole-genome-sequencing types]. Laboratory investigation is still ongoing. It is noteworthy that there have not been any reports of _S._ Enteritidis in any foodstuffs routinely inspected for _Salmonella_ in Israel during the respective period.

An outbreak control team has been set up by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture. Joint trace back and trace forward investigations are being carried out in order to identify the source of infection. The Ministry of Agriculture has recently inaugurated a monitoring program for _S._ Enteritidis control in laying hen farms.

In the context of this investigation, enhanced environmental sampling of traced laying hen flocks and farms is being carried out. These activities have led to the detection of _S._ Enteritidis in flocks supplying the above-mentioned distributor and a subsequent egg recall and planned culling of implicated flocks. Additional public health actions include continued risk management and source control in farms or flocks that will be implicated in human infection and/or found to be contaminated, enhanced epidemiological investigations for salmonellosis cases or case clusters of gastrointestinal infection, intensified inspections by the National Food Service and risk communication to the public, with emphasis on the safe handling and consumption of eggs and egg-containing foods.

 

Whole genome sequencing PR in Australia

In a press release story that oozes with promotional fanfare, foodborne illnesses caused by bugs such as salmonella could be cut by a third in NSW within five years, with food and health authorities adding a “revolutionary” tool to their arsenal.

NSW Health and NSW Food Authority have started using whole genome sequencing technology to more quickly identify a foodborne outbreak and connect it with its source, which could reduce illnesses and even deaths.

“[It’s] a significant breakthrough that could help revolutionise how food-borne illnesses are identified, understood, tracked and managed,” said Dr Craig Shadbolt, the Food Authority’s acting chief executive.

“This will be invaluable in terms of achieving the NSW Government’s Food Safety Strategy goal of reducing foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella, campylobacter and listeria by 30 per cent by 2021.”

That sounds nice, but some practical steps, like not using raw eggs in mayo, aoili, or baked Chinese ice cream, would go farther. In Australia, rates of foodborne salmonella poisoning have climbed from 38 per 100,000 people in 2004 to 76 per 100,000 in 2016, with a record-breaking 18,170 cases last year, according to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.

A table of raw-egg-based outbreaks in Australia is available at: http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx-

If it’s not chickens, it’s eggs

In a risk communication fiasco reminiscent of the 1999 dioxin-in-chicken-feed scandal in the EU, millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe after contamination with a banned insecticide.

On July 19, 2017, the government of Belgium said that fipronil had been found in eggs produced there, one month after the fipronil was actually detected. The contamination is thought to have been caused by the mixing of the insecticide with a cleaning agent used at chicken farms to control blood lice.

Dutch health authorities admitted that they had received a tip about fipronil being used in barns against blood lice as early as November 2016.

After initially poo-pooing the threat, things picked up in early Aug. as more countries found eggs with fipronil, and more supermarkets pulled eggs.

Dutch police arrested two individuals they say could be accountable for allowing the insecticide Fipronil to be used inside Dutch poultry farms.

A joint Dutch-Belgian task force conducted raids at eight poultry farms in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch prosecution service.

The investigation “focused on the Dutch company that allegedly used Fipronil, a Belgian supplier as well as a Dutch company that colluded with the Belgian supplier,” according to the prosecutor.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the UK Food Standards Agency said: “Our advice remains clear – there’s no need to change how you buy or consume eggs. We are responding very quickly to any new information, to ensure that any products left that contain egg from the affected farms is withdrawn immediately. We’re doing this because Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals, not because we are concerned about any risk to health.”

No risk messages are risky.

So is commercial exploitation.

Robert Chapman, who packs four million eggs a week under the Farmlay label from his West Cockmuir farm at Strichen, Aberdeenshire, urged buyers to learn a lesson from the incident, adding, “Price is obviously a major factor why so many imported eggs come into Britain, but the fact that so many have been found to be contaminated is a major issue. Surely processors and retailers will take this on board and source more eggs from UK producers whose standards are second to none.”

British Free Range Egg Producers Association chief executive Robert Gooch said, “British egg producers follow stringent production standards to ensure that what they produce is perfectly safe and nutritious for consumers to eat.”

Until it isn’t.

Going public fail 2-in-1 day: Tainted eggs were known about for months

I hate the phrase, food scare.

Hate is a strong word, but when it comes to food poisoning outbreaks that kill little kids and others, it’s not a scare, it’s real.

A scare implies former scream-queen Jamie-Lee Curtis flogging yoghurt that makes people poop.

That’s a food scare.

See how many times the N.Y. Times can use the word scare in its opening paragraphs:

The European Union on Monday notified the food safety authorities in Britain, France, Sweden and Switzerland to be on the lookout for contamination in eggs after a food scare in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a European Commission spokeswoman, said, “We do not know if the eggs are contaminated or not, but because of these notifications, it’s now up to the national authorities to check.”

The scare over contaminated eggs, which began in Belgium, has led supermarkets there and in Germany and the Netherlands to clear shelves of the product as the crisis entered its third week.

The removal of eggs from shops was prompted by the discovery of the insecticide fipronil in some shipments. The contamination is thought to have been caused by the mixing of the insecticide with a cleaning agent used at chicken farms. The scare began July 19 when the government of Belgium said that fipronil had been found in eggs produced there.

Major supermarket chains in Belgium, including Delhaize and Colruyt, have stopped selling eggs from affected farms. In the Netherlands, one poultry producer declared bankruptcy on Friday as a result of the insecticide scare, according to an industry group.

 The Dutch consumer safety authority has published a guide on identifying the tainted eggs through a 10-digit serial number stamped on the shells. The country’s biggest supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, stopped selling many eggs last week, but the company said that eggs were back on sale as normal on Monday. In the Netherlands, an estimated nine million chickens from about 180 farms have been affected.

In Germany, the supermarket chain Aldi withdrew all eggs from sale after the authorities said that about three million eggs imported from the Netherlands had been affected. Since then, fipronil contamination has been found at four farms in the German state of Lower Saxony.

Fipronil is toxic in large quantities and can damage kidneys, liver and lymph glands. The Belgian and Dutch authorities are investigating how the contamination happened.

The Dutch poultry association said that farmers had no idea that cleaners were using the substance. Aalt den Herder, the group’s secretary, said the risk had been overstated.

“It was never an issue of human health, it was an issue of consumer confidence,” he said.

Yeah, except, as explained by the Irish Examiner:

Belgian authorities have now admitted they began investigating pesticide contamination in eggs in early June – several weeks before the public was made aware of a food safety scare affecting several European countries.

Kathy Brison, of the Belgian food safety agency, said on Sunday that a Belgian farm alerted authorities to a possible contamination in June, and they began investigating and alerted Belgian prosecutors.

German authorities are frustrated by the apparent delay in informing European neighbours.

German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt plans to speak to his Belgian counterpart about the issue on Monday.

And where would a risk communication failure be without the UK Food Standards Agency, who today reported, “We have no evidence that eggs laid in the UK are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in the UK. 85% of the eggs we consume in the UK are laid here.

“The number of eggs involved represents about 0.0001% of the eggs imported into the UK each year. Our risk assessment, based on all the information available, indicates that as part of a normal healthy diet this low level of potential exposure is unlikely to be a risk to public health and there is no need for consumers to be concerned. Our advice is that there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs or products containing eggs.”

Sounds good if they’re all getting “laid here.”

Once again:

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.

Australia still has an egg problem: WA Salmonella infections explode,1500 sick

It is painfully rewarding that the bureautards in Western Australia are finally catching up to what we’ve been saying for years.

Australia has an egg problem.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx.

The West Australian reports the area is experiencing an explosion in stomach bug illnesses, with more than 4,000 cases so far this year and many of them caused by food.

 New figures show 4076 cases of gastrointestinal disease have been reported this year — 31 per cent more than at the same time in the previous two years. The bacterial or viral infections are mostly caused by contaminated food and water or poor hygiene. Much of the surge has been fuelled by a rise in salmonella, with many of the 1566 cases this year associated with eating uncooked eggs.

There has been a big increase in other gastroenteric illnesses, with 358 cases of the viral infection rotavirus, which can make young children seriously ill.

Cryptosporidiosis, which is caused by a parasite, has been reported in 335 people — more than double the number at the same time last year. A WA Health Department spokeswoman said though notifications of salmonella gastroenteritis were declining as expected over winter, the increased levels were a concern.

“The department is concerned about food-borne illness rates in WA, including salmonella risks associated with eggs, and is implementing short and long-term reduction strategies,” she said. The department and local government authorities were focusing on safety surveillance across the food industry, from paddock to plate.

“Eggs are a good source of nutrition, but like many other foods they can be contaminated with bacteria, including salmonella,” the spokeswoman said.

“It is important people handle and prepare eggs safely to reduce the food poisoning risk.”

Australia still has an egg problem as Salmonella cases surge in WA

West Australians are being warned to avoid eating raw or partly cooked eggs because of a surge in cases of salmonella food poisoning.

Reports of salmonella gastroenteritis are at records levels and have been linked to particular molecular types associated with eggs.

The WA Health Department said yesterday there had been 713 reported infections from salmonella typhimurium by the end of April, which was more than four times the usual number.

The infection was commonly associated with consumption of foods containing raw or under-cooked eggs.

A spokeswoman told Cathy O’Leary of The West Australian that cases of the salmonella infection had been increasing in WA since 2015 but had accelerated since late last year.

“There are two molecular subtypes, PFGE1 and PFGE43, that are currently causing most of this increase,” she said.

“Epidemiological evidence from investigations of identified localised outbreaks and a large case-control study of community cases indicates that eating raw or runny eggs is a significant cause of illness. This includes breakfast dishes containing eggs, and desserts and aioli made with raw eggs.”

Environmental investigations indicated some outbreaks had been caused by poor handling of egg products at the food manufacturing and preparation level and by consumers.

The department said that while eggs were a good source of vitamins and minerals, like many other foods they could be contaminated with bacteria, including salmonella. It was important to handle and prepare eggs safely to reduce the food poisoning risk.

 “The department recommends that people don’t use cracked or dirty eggs in raw egg dishes,” she said.

“If possible, it is best to avoid any uncooked foods or dishes that contain raw egg.

“This is because it is impossible to guarantee the safety of eating raw eggs and dishes that contain unpasteurised raw egg products.”

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

21 sick with Salmonella: Australia still has an egg problem, Melbourne fairytale edition

You’ve got to be fucking kidding.

Another day, another outbreak of Salmonella traced to some Master-Chef-inspired raw egg food porn.

Paddy Naughtin of the Whitehorse Leader writes that a bad batch of eggs is being blamed for 21 people being struck down by a Salmonella outbreak believed to have been picked up at a Blackburn restaurant.

The Department of Health and Human Services and Whitehorse Council are still investigating the cause of the outbreak which affected at least 21 people who ate at the Food Republic on Blackburn Rd on March 18.

Food Republic co-owner Vanessa Lekkas said she was “genuinely distraught” for those who had been affected and was “humbled by their understanding” .

“In almost 30 years of working in the industry we’ve never seen this happen,” Ms Lekkas said.

“We get hundreds of boxes delivered each week, and it looks like one of those contained a bad batch of eggs.

“We’ve been fully transparent with the council and health authorities, and they’ve seen our food handling processes are up to scratch.

“We’ve been told the investigation is now looking at the farms where the eggs came from,” Ms Lekkas said.

Ms Lekkas said the Food Republic would no longer be serving food made with raw egg products.

Why the fuck didn’t they stop years ago?

There’s been plenty of outbreaks, plenty of publicity, but, humans being humans, they think it won’t happen to them.

I get that.

So in the interest of public health, Australians, stop serving raw egg dishes.

And food porn chefs who are food safety idiots, fuck off.

Your wellness guidelines are making people sick.

Health-types, up your game.

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

Steak tartare: A special kind of stupid

A favorite line in the ice hockey linesman course I take every year to be recertified is, “that player exhibited a special kind of stupid”

Cooks and purveyors of food porn exhibit their own special kind of stupid, especially around raw beef.

The N.Y. Times continues its long history of bad food porn-based advice because, they’re New Yorkers, and they are their own special kind of stupid: at least the uppity ones.

Gabrielle Hamilton writes in the New York Times Cooking section that a hand-chopped mound of cold raw beef, seasoned perfectly, at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day, with a cold glass of the hair of the Champagne dog that bit you the night before, will make a new man out of you.

Hamilton writes the recipe calls for 8-10 ounces highest-quality beef tenderloin … and to nestle each yolk, still in its half shell if using raw, into the mound, and let each guest turn the yolk out onto the tartare before eating.

Nary a mention of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli or Salmonella or Campylobacter.

Salmonella in deep-fried ice cream sickens 100 in Brisbane: Happy Chinese New Year

Deep-fried ice cream sounds like something from a U.S. state fair, where everything is deep-fried, but in times of relative truths, decreasing skepticism and declining media coverage, the idea that over 100 people in Brisbane are sick from Salmonella, and that I found out about it from a hockey parent rather than public-health types is disturbing.

deep-fried-icecream-112Or the new normal.

We have a paper coming out in April about the importance of going public with health information, so fewer people barf, but that lesson is increasingly lost.

Part of that paper includes a couple of Australian outbreaks: When 264 were sickened at a principals conference in Brisbane because they were fed some raw-egg dip, and when over 100 people were sickened with deep-fried ice cream at Chin-Chins in Brisbane in 2015.

There has been no public reporting that I can find, but at some time, public-health types and bureaucrats will realize they are paid by taxpayers, their job is to prevent people barf, not cover and hide.

According to a hockey parent, 15 teachers are out at their son’s school after dining on deep-fried ice cream in the Sunnybank suburb of Brisbane a week or so ago.

The diagnosis is Salmonella and over 100 are believed to be sickened.

Or maybe it’s just fake news, but everyone has a camera and social media, so these stories spread.

Maybe our public health types, or their bosses, with their supers (RSP) can take some steps to protect public health, rather than their own asses.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-2-15.xlsx=