Handle flour like raw meat: More Canadian flour and people sickened with E. coli O121

In April 2017, health-types in Canada said E.coli O121 had sickened 26 people that was linked to Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original.

On May 26, 2017, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Ardent Mills is recalling various brands of flour and flour products due to possible E. coli O121 contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

This recall was triggered by findings by the CFIA during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.

There have been reported illnesses associated with flour; however, at this time, there have been no confirmed illnesses associated with the products identified in this Food Recall Warning.

But there have been with Roger flour in B.C.

On May 21, 2017 the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) alerted British Columbians after six people in BC were infected with the same strain of E. coli O121 between February and April, 2017.

A sample of flour from one of the ill people was tested by the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory and found positive for the same strain of E. coli O121 as seen in all the illnesses.

While it is unknown at this time whether the other ill people consumed the same flour, the BCCDC recommends consumers:

Dispose of Rogers all-purpose flour in a 10kg bag with the lot number MFD 17 Jan 19 C.  This flour was available to Costco customers in B.C. beginning in January 2017.

Although this outbreak is occurring at the same time as a national outbreak involving a different strain of E. coli O121 that has been linked to various flours and flour products, it is unclear whether there is a link between the two outbreaks.

The national outbreak has affected 30 people from six provinces: British Columbia (13), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (5), Ontario (1), Quebec (1) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5). One of the 30 cases was a visitor to Canada. The illness onset dates range from November 2016 to April 2017.

These are the questions that remain about the interactions between Robin Hood, Ardent, Rogers and their flour: Do you folks all get your flour from the same place and slap your name on it like Trump slaps his name on towers? If so, where is the common processor, and why the fuck is there E. coli O121 in it? What are companies prepared to do, like offering pasteurized flour, especially so the medically vulnerable can continue to bake without fretting about flour dust?And when will the Public Health Agency of Canada move beyond boilerplate fairy tales like wash hands, and offer something meaningful to Canadians who bake?

Overpaid bureacrats, worried about their retirement savings rather than a nasty bug like E. coli O121.

Inhale the dust, assholes.

The outpouring of compassion for the victims is underwhelming.

Sweet summer basil with Salmonella

I love fresh basil.

Last night we had barramundi fillets, grilled in a garlic-butter-olive oil-lemon-and-basil coating that was delicious.

Unfortunately, the fucking possums in this country also like my basil and are helping themselves to it, bottom up.

They don’t care for the mint (in the background, and yes, that is our view from the deck).

Maybe we should stop feeding the cats so they will become a little more aggressive about chasing away the possums.

In New Zealand, they poison possums.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Three Dolphins Wholesale is recalling L.A. Lucky brand Sweet Basil Seed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.

The following product has been sold from Three Dolphins Wholesale, 4801 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia.

L.A. Lucky Sweet Basil Seed, 60g, UPC 8 20678 201697, Codes: all units sold from October 1, 2015 up to and including May 25, 2017

This recall was triggered by a recall in another country. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

1 dead, 29 sick from E. coli O157 linked to minced meat in Germany

We report an ongoing, protracted and geographically dispersed outbreak of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and gastroenteritis in Germany, involving 30 cases since December 2016. The outbreak was caused by the sorbitol-fermenting immotile variant of Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) Escherichia coli O157.

Molecular typing revealed close relatedness between isolates from 14 cases. One HUS patient died. Results of a case–control study suggest packaged minced meat as the most likely food vehicle. Food safety investigations are ongoing.

Ongoing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) outbreak caused by sorbitol-fermenting (SF) shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, Germany, December 2016 to May 2017

Eurosurveillance, vol. 22, issue 21, 25 May 2017, S Vygen-Bonnet, B Rosner, H Wilking, A Fruth, R Prager, A Kossow, C Lang, S Simon, J Seidel, M Faber, A Schielke, K Michaelis, A Holzer, R Kamphausen, D Kalhöfer,S Thole , A Mellmann, A Flieger, K Stark

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22805

 

Cooking pork to control Hep E: Use a fucking thermometer

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture very publicly began to urge consumers to use an accurate food thermometer when cooking ground beef patties because research demonstrated that the color of meat is not a reliable indicator of safety.

USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety at the time, Catherine Woteki, said, “Consumers need to know that the only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present is to use a thermometer.”

At the time, I said, no one uses a meat thermometer to check the doneness of hamburgers. The idea of picking up a hamburger patty with tongs and inserting the thermometer in sideways was too much effort (others insist the best way to use a tip sensitive digital thermometer is to insert into the middle of the patty at a 45 degree angle).

I was wrong.

Shortly thereafter, I started doing it and discovered, not only was using a meat thermometer fairly easy, it made me a better cook. No more extra well-done burgers to ensure the bugs that would make me sick were gone. They tasted better.

By May 2000, USDA launched a national consumer campaign to promote the use of food thermometers in the home. The campaign featured an infantile mascot called Thermy that proclaimed, “It’s Safe to Bite When the Temperature is Right.”

Seventeen years later, the converts are minimal. Canada came to the thermometer table a few years ago,  Australia is doing a slow policy creep, but the UK is still firmly committed to piping hot.

The UK Food Standards Agency recently published the sixth, chief scientific adviser’s Science Report, entitled Data Science. No mention of thermometers except to determine refrigerator temperatures or included as packing on food.

Science-based policy depends on whose science is being quoted to what ends. The fancy folks call it value judgments in risk assessments; Kevin Spacey in the TV series House of Cards would call it personal advancement.

So last week, when UK media reports dubbed Hepatitis E the Brexit virus, with the potential for 60,000 Brits to fall sick annually from EU pork, the UK Food Standards Agency once again reiterated how fucking unscientific they are.

“Following media reports this morning we wanted to remind consumers of our advice about cooking pork thoroughly. We always advise that whole cuts of pork, pork products and offal should be thoroughly cooked until steaming hot throughout, the meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.”

The National Pig Association — it’s a thing, “recommends that consumers follow the advice from the Food Standards Agency that pork and sausages should be cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout, with no pink or red in the centre, to greatly reduce the risk of infection.”

Back to science instead of a rainbow fairy tale on safe cooking procedures, in May 2011, USDA recommended pork, and all whole meat cuts, only have to get to 145 degrees internally, not the 160 the agency had previously suggested, followed by a 3-minute rest.

The U.S. pork board for years promoted pork be cooked with a “hint of pink.”

This has more to do with breeding efforts to produce leaner pork.

But HEV is a different beast.

Public Health England reported the number of severe cases has almost trebled since 2010, with 1,244 reported in 2016, compared with 368 six years earlier.

The virus causes a flu-like illness and in severe circumstances, could cause death.

This strain has been linked to pig farms in France, Holland, Germany and Denmark and is only killed in meat if people cook it for longer than usual.

Dr Harry Dalton, a gastroenterologist at Exeter University, told a conference on neurological infectious diseases HEV had become a major threat and that no one should eat pink pork and that pregnant women and transplant patients should not eat pork at all.

He also said the virus is heat resistant and survives being cooked until the meat is heated to above 71C (160F) for two minutes.

Looks like some research is required, not that the Brits would change their no pink policy. Maybe they’re homophoblic.

With Memorial Day on Monday in the U.S. and a bank holiday Monday in the U.K., whatever that is, USDA yesterday once again stated, “The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer.”

Recent research by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that only 34 percent of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers – and that’s self-reported, people lie on surveys.

Use a fucking thermometer and stick it in.

(If you don’t like profanity, don’t read, but if you want to read, your IT censors may figure you can’t handle such dreadful language, and messages are getting blocked. You may want to have a word with your IT folks.)

Maybe, don’t know: Do hand sanitizers cut down on illness?

My first reaction to any food safety claim, policy or recommendation is, are fewer people going to barf?

Which greeting is the cleanest?

I usually don’t get an answer.

Because it’s really hard to associate policy with rates of barfing.

A couple of weeks ago, Karen Weintraub of The New York Times wrote: With the recent increase in use of sanitizers (hand lotions, wipes for supermarket carts, etc.) has there been any real impact on transmission of colds, flu or other diseases?

The short answer is no one knows, because no one has studied whether hand sanitizers have cut down on the number of infectious diseases among the public at large.

On a personal level, good hand hygiene clearly can make a difference in health. A 2008 study in The American Journal of Public Health concluded that improvements in hand hygiene, regardless of how the participants cleaned their hands, cut gastrointestinal diseases by 31 percent, and respiratory infections by 21 percent.

The key to stopping disease is breaking the chain that allows pathogens to be transmitted from person to person. Either hand washing or sanitizing can do that.

Sally Bloomfield, an expert in hand hygiene and an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said she always carries hand sanitizer with her when she travels. “London airport bathrooms are usually fine because they are well designed to make sure we wash our hands properly — and dry them properly,” she said, but some train “loos” leave something to be desired.

Grocery carts can be particularly risky points of transmission. Someone grabbing chicken or meat can leak the juices onto a cart and their hands, and then continue to push the cart around, transmitting pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli onto the handle. The next person who handles the cart, or the next child who sits in the top of the wagon, can then pick up the bugs.

“If you can wipe down the handle bars on the shopping cart with an alcohol-containing preparation, that’s probably a good idea,” said Dr. Cody Meissner, chief of the division of pediatric infectious disease at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

That said, Dr. Meissner and others cautioned against germaphobia. Every surface around us is coated in bacteria and other microbes, the vast majority of which are neutral or beneficial, said Liz Scott, chairwoman of the department of public health at Simmons College in Boston.

“We really need to target our hygiene practices,” she said, focusing on likely chains of transmission. That means washing your hands when you get back from the grocery store, public transit or any other public place, said Dr. Scott, who also admits to avoiding handshakes whenever possible, especially during flu season.

Fist bump.

(The pic, above left, is from a TV commercial Dettol shot at Sorenne’s school – she’s one of the blurred out kids, second row, far right).

Death in Dublin sparks Salmonella investigation

Investigations have been launched into a suspected outbreak of food poisoning after the death of a Dublin woman at the weekend.

The kitchens of a North Dublin pub have also been shut pending the investigation.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is liaising with the HSE after a number of people were hospitalised and treated for suspected salmonella poisoning following a First Communion party.

Reporter with Independent News and Media Conor Feehan said: “It’s understood that food may have been made on a premises and then transported to the house for a First Communion party.”

He added: “But it seems that after the party a number of people took ill and in this particular case a woman in her 50s was later found dead at home by her husband on Sunday.”

In a statement the Health Service Executive said it is investigating an outbreak of food poisoning due to salmonella in North Dublin and is liaising with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. An Outbreak Control Team has been formed and an investigation is ongoing.

Probably noro: 252 sick from cafeteria at Spanish hospital

Ainhoa Iriberri of El Español reports (and something may be lost in translation) there are already 252 those affected by the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis that ravaged last week to the Hospital of Bellvitge, in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. The Public Health Agency of Catalonia (ASPCAT) has reported the increase of victims, which last Friday had been set at 190, all workers at the health center.

In all cases the symptomatology has been mild so, despite the high number of affected, the outbreak has had no attendant consequences. That is to say, it has not had to reprogram surgeries nor close operating rooms, always according to the governmental organism.

This has also indicated that the analysis of samples is ongoing but that, so far, two of them have proved to be norovirus positive, reason why it is suspected that this pathogen is the cause of the massive infection.

Although the information is still preliminary, it seems also to confirm where the source of the infection would be that is not other than the snacks served in the cafeteria for hospital staff between Tuesday and Friday.

Or sick employees.

Really? Raising fish in containers on land is eco-friendly so grow veggies in fish poo

Although aquaponics is still in its infancy, Fort Langley–based West Creek Aquaculture and others see potential for this alternative to conventional agriculture

Felicity Stone of BC Business reports the fish from B.C.’s handful of land-based aquaculture farms are considered sustainable, with Ocean Wise certification from the Vancouver Aquarium. The farms use no antibiotics, hormones or chemicals, and they compost the fish waste.

Instead of composting the waste, West Creek has experimented with aquaponics, growing vegetables in the same water as the fish so the effluent nourishes the plants, which in turn clean the water. Although plant yield increased, Read found that he couldn’t compete with traditional vegetable growers. He’s still looking for a way to monetize fish effluent as plant fertilizer, but he thinks aquaponics is best suited for farmers in the business of plant, not fish, production.

Crops raised using aquaponics actually tend to be more profitable than the fish, according to U.S. studies. The key is marketing them to compete with other local and organic greens. Andrew Riseman, an associate professor of applied biology and plant breeding at UBC, believes aquaponic produce is superior to both conventionally grown and organic. “But until there’s product differentiation in the marketplace where they can get a premium for that specific product, they’re just lumped in with organics or chemical-free or pesticide-free or whatever other generic grouping they fit into,” he says. “Much like the land-based fish production—they’re grouped in with farmed salmon.”

The key is proving the produce is microbiologically safer?

Doubtful.

Guess the aquaponics folks wouldn’t want to market that.

Bathrooms and barf from around the world — in Instagram

Long before Instagram and YouTube, the barfblog crew — I can’t believe I just wrote that, I never called my lab members the crew but I did call them the kids, even if I was the immature one — we were making food safety videos and taking pictures.

Just didn’t know what to do with them.

We had an entire website devoted to handwashing signs in bathrooms — as you do.

And then when I moved to Kansas in early 2006, it sorta got lost.

Someone in the lab was taking care of it and I was posting pictures of bathrooms from our trip to France, as we sat on the coast of Marseilles, but then the University of Guelph decided the sandbox wasn’t big enough for both of us so kicked me out.

Bullies.

Then the website disappeared.

Or maybe it exists somewhere.

I know my limitations, and computer technology is one of them. Which is why I’ve been using a Mac since 1987.

Now there’s thing called Instagram, which may not be as cool as Snapchat, but whatever, I like pictures.

So Chapman created a barfblogben Instagram account, and I created a barfblogdoug account, because someone already has barfblog and it’s probably me (but linked to a previous e-mail).

I did one post — Amy did it and I immediately forgot how to do it — so I’ll put this picture in here, and maybe some time she’ll show me how to do it again.

This is from the University of Queensland bathroom in the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation building/centre/whatever it’s called.

(All those people who used to work with me, if you know where that website it, send me a note).