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=


 

Data says so: Australia does have a raw egg problem

Statistics show that the consumption of foods containing raw or minimally cooked eggs is currently the single largest source of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks in Australia.

garlic_aioliI based a large part of my research career on verifying the soundbite, ‘we have released guidelines’ or, ‘we follow all recommendations’ by arranging to have students see what actually goes on.

In October 2014, the New South Wales Food Authority released Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products (the Guidelines). Despite this, outbreaks continued to take place, particularly where business hygiene and temperature control issues were apparent. In addition, businesses and councils approached the Food Authority for advice on desserts containing raw eggs and other unusual raw egg dishes. As a result, the Guidelines were recently updated and give specific reference to Standard 3.2.2, Division 3, clause 7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure that only safe and suitable food is processed.

To reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella, retail businesses are advised to avoid selling food containing raw or minimally cooked eggs. The Guidelines give food businesses that do sell food containing raw egg specific safety steps for its preparation and clear guidance and advice on what they must do to meet food safety regulations. The revised Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products is available at www. foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/ retail/raw_egg_guidelines.pdf.

raw-eggsOr as the Australian Food Safety Information Council now says, buy, don’t make aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nice but of no use to consumers at a restaurant who order fish and chips  with a side of mayo or aioli. I’ve already begun an ad hoc investigation – because I don’t want my family to get sick – and can say that out of the 15 times I’ve asked over the past few years – is the aioli or mayo made at the restaurant or bought commercially – the server invariably returns and proclaims, We only use raw eggs in our aioli or mayo.

Wrong answer.

Only once, so far, has an owner or chef said, we know of the risk, we only use the bought stuff. And they’re ex-pat Canadians.

Giv’r, eh.

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

260 sick: EU has an egg problem too

Seven countries have reported human cases of Salmonella Enteritidis between 1 May and 12 October 2016 (112 confirmed and 148 probable).

powell-egg-nov-14Cases have been reported by Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. In addition, Croatia reported a cluster of cases, including one death, possibly associated with this outbreak.

Whole genome sequencing, food and environmental investigations, and trace-back investigations established a link between the outbreak and an egg packing centre in Poland. Evidence suggests eggs as the most likely source of infection. 

Polish competent authorities and Member States to which suspect eggs were distributed have now halted distribution.

To contain the outbreak and identify possible new cases promptly, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and EFSA recommend that EU Member States step up their monitoring.

Affected countries should continue sharing information on the epidemiological, microbiological and environmental investigations, including issuing relevant notifications using the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), the latter representing the official channel to notify serious cross border threats to health.

Barf’s up: South Bank Surf Club faces 32 charges after 28 sickened with raw egg aioli

On Sept. 23, 2015, Brisbane’s South Bank Surf Club allegedly made up a large batch of raw-egg-based aioli sauce and served it for seven days.

garlic_aioliAt least 28 diners were sickened.

At the time, the manager of the club said the cause was “a bad batch of eggs’’ provided by a supplier. They said the eggs had been used in sauces served with seafood platters.

“We’ve been caught out, unfortunately. Our customers’ wellbeing is our priority and anyone with concerns can get in touch with us,” they said. “To rectify the problem, we are not making sauces in-house.’’

This is a common refrain in Australia.

We, the chefs, would never put the health of our customers in harm’s way, yet they continue to do so with the line, we got a bad batch of eggs.

south-bank-surf-club-1_lrgNow, Brisbane City Council health inspectors have filed a complaint in Brisbane Magistrates Court accusing the club, owned by Brisbane hospitality king Bevan Bickle, of letting the aioli and other sauces sit kitchen benches for up to three hours without refrigeration on the day they were used in meals including fish and chips, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches between September 23 and October 1 last year.

Court documents state aioli is a “potentially hazardous food” because “pathogenic microorganisms” can grow due to the raw egg and it needs to be refrigerated.

The club faces 32 charges of breaching food safety laws.

When inspector Heath Vogler visited the restaurant on October 16 he alleges the aioli was kept at 11C.

The council summons filed in court states aioli must be stored below 5C to minimise the growth of poisonous bacteria.

The case returns to court on December 23. The restaurant has not entered a plea.

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

Seven EU countries imported salmonella-infected eggs from Poland

Seven countries in the European Union have imported eggs infected with Salmonella from Poland.

eggsalmonellaDutch authorities have reported the infected eggs to the European Commission, which oversees the quality of food and feed.

The threat is considered to be serious, the Polish PAP news agency has said.

According to Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain, “several shipments of Polish eggs contaminated with Salmonella” have been sent to seven EU countries, including hundreds of restaurants in Belgium, from “various Dutch suppliers”.