$150,000 fines for Australia noodle bizes

Three Sydney noodle manufacturing businesses have been collectively fined more than $150,000 in relation to various food safety and hygiene failures under the Food Act 2003 and the Food Standards Code following a targeted project by the NSW Food Authority designed to address a high-risk food sector where compliance was less than satisfactory.

The “Fresh Noodle Manufacturers Project” was designed to improve standards in the fresh noodle industry after the Food Authority became aware of compliance issues within the sector.

Over a period of four months NSW Food Authority officers conducted 25 inspections where they considered the use of preservatives, process and hygiene control, product labelling and temperature control.

The resulting enforcement activity included three prosecutions where one company was fined $11,000 and its director fined $2,800, a second company was fined $27,000 and the most recent result saw a Sydney manufacturer plead guilty to 19 charges and fined $113,000.

Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said while the wider community may not recognise noodles as a high-risk food, the intrinsic properties of fresh noodles mean that if they’re not kept within careful temperature control they become a breeding ground for the growth of microorganisms that can cause food poisoning.

“The NSW Food Authority is committed to ensuring people buying and eating food in NSW can do so with confidence and certainty that what they’re eating is safe,” Dr Szabo said.

“We target our efforts of investigation and risk management to where they are most needed in order to best protect the public and also reduce regulatory burden on those industry sectors who have a proven record of doing the right thing.”

The NSW Government’s Food Safety Strategy 2015-2021 has a goal of reducing foodborne illness by 30% by 2021 and a compliance target of 95% for all food businesses with food safety requirements.

 

Poop and food don’t mix: Irish edition

Niamh Towey of The Irish Times writes that an Indian restaurant in Co Donegal was served a food closure order last month after a pond of human excrement was found in an area where staff were preparing food.

An overflowing manhole had resulted in the pond of human excrement gathering beside a shed where the potato peeler was stored at Saffron restaurant and takeaway in Creeslough.

A report from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said “human excrement was overflowing and ponding in an area beside the shed in which the potato peeler was located due to an overflowing manhole”.

It goes on to say staff “would be standing in the excrement” while using the potato peeler and thereby “carrying it into the food premises on their shoes”.

The report also found “dirt, mould and encrusted food” on windows, in sinks and on floors and doors throughout the premesis, while “food storage containers in the fridge were covered with black mould”.

Rats? We got no stinking rats: Australia restaurant reassures community it’s rat-free

A Chinese restaurant has exterminated a large rat after a video of the rodent in the shopfront window went viral yesterday.

The family business in Minto, NSW, has reassured the community the rat’s appearance was a freak incident after a resident’s video was shared hundreds of times in the space of hours, reported the Macarthur Chronicle.

Restaurant owner Emily Tang said the rat likely rushed through the door from the street at the start of the day.

“I opened the door and it maybe came from the streets, trying to get into the kitchen,” she said.

“Every night we close the door, put down material at the door to stop the rats. We have never ever had any rats like this before.

“We called the pest control man straight away and got rid of the rat. We have always had a good record with the health inspector.”

 

Everyone has a camera: UK Subway-manager-taking-bread-from-bin-to-serve-customers edition

Charlie Bayliss of the Daily Mail writes that horrific footage has surfaced of a Subway manager taking bread from a bin to serve to customers. 

Not sure it is horrific, but another reminder that everyone has a camera.

A concerned employee who had reservations about the food hygiene practices at the Central Park Subway in Rugby, Warwickshire, filmed the video earlier this year.

In the undercover footage, the unnamed manager reaches into the bin to pull out some bread after telling an employee: ‘We are already short of bread.’ 

The manager then places the binned bread onto a trolley before rolling it out of a back room.

Following the release of the video, Rugby Council sent an environmental health officer to the store where a number of food hygiene concerns were found. 

A spokesperson for Subway said: ‘Subway stores have very strict food safety and hygiene procedures to ensure that customers are served products to a high standard.

‘This video relates to a historic incident, which has been fully investigated. We are disappointed with the updated rating received by EHO and the store is challenging this.

‘The local store owner is looking forward to a follow up inspection.’ 

Uh-huh.

10 pupils in Bulgaria suffer from staph poisoning

Ten kids attending the “Petko R. Slaveykov” school in Yambol have been accommodated in the toxicology department of the city’s hospital, following a Staphylococcus aureus poisoning.

A visit by the regional health agency discovered lack of personal hygiene among the staff, low hygiene in the school’s canteen, and poor disinfection due to use of watered-down products.

The chairwoman of the health agency Dr. Gencheva explained that during the check-up health workers were able to isolate the Staphylococcus aureus from the pharynx of three of the staff members in the canteen

Health workers were also able to isolate E. coli from the working spaces and the equipment.

Flies, raw sewage among 19 violations found at Tennessee Red Robin

Crystal Chen of News 4 Jax reports just four months after opening its doors at the Strand near the Town Center, Red Robin failed an inspection with 19 health violations.

Red Robin is known for its burgers, brews and, of course, bottomless fries.

But that wasn’t the focus during a visit from the health inspector last week. 

The restaurant was cited for six high-priority violations, including live flies found in the kitchen, food prep area and bar.

Raw sewage was found on the ground near the back door, and a stop sale was issued for potentially hazardous food like fish and milk that were at the wrong temperature.

In a second visit, two days later, the restaurant only had two violations, both regarding paperwork.

The restaurant was not shut down, and this was its first failed inspection.

Management and the company’s media relations department have not  responded to requests for comment on the inspection report.

Blaming consumers: Cruise ship edition

Jim Walker of Cruise Law News writes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there was a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Crown Princess during its recent cruise, from October 25th to November 8, 2017. The Princess cruise ship departed Quebec, Canada on October 25th for a two-week cruise to Canadian and U.S. ports. The cruise ship arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8th and will begin its Caribbean season.

According to the CDC report, 184 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastro-like symptoms which included diarrhea.  

During the period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most outbreaks on its cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, according to the CDC. Princess reported twenty-one (21) cases to the CDC during this time period.

The Crown Princess alone has suffered through six (6) norovirus outbreaks since 2010 to the present. Before the current GI outbreak, the last norovirus outbreak on the Crown Princess was from January 3 – 18, 2016 and, before that, from October 18 to November 16, 2014. Earlier, there was a norovirus and e-coli outbreak from February 5 to 12, 2014. It also experienced back-to-back norovirus outbreaks from January 29 to February 4, 2012 and February 4 to February 9, 2012.

The cruise line with the second most outbreaks is Holland America Line with 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. HAL suffered norovirus outbreaks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and two outbreaks each on the Voendam and the Noordam this year.  

So why is Princess Cruises far more prone to norovirus outbreaks than Carnival cruise lines, for example?

The cruise industry always blames the passengers for bringing the virus aboard, rather than its food handlers, or contaminated food or water. So are Princess Cruises customers the sickest and the least hygienic cruisers around? Are guests of HAL the second most unhygienic cruisers? Do they wash their hands the least of any cruisers? This seems like absurd arguments to make.

Whoever is to blame, the crew members, of course, always pay the price, by having to wipe and scrub and spray everything in sight for long 16+ hour days to try to disinfect a ship longer than three football fields.

Irrespective of the blame-game, don’t call us if you get sick on a cruise. Proving where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can’t even figure out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus, e-coli or something as exotic as Shigella sonnei or Cyclospora cayetanensis.

For example, The New Zealand Herald reports, a passenger on a cruise ship plagued with a vomiting and diarrhoea bug says he only learnt previous guests had been struck down with the same thing once they set sail.

Sydney man Walter Gibian and his wife Elisabeth left Sydney on October 30 on a 12-day Celebrity Solstice cruise travelling from Sydney to Auckland via the South Island so they could see New Zealand. Gibian had worked in New Zealand in 1980s and loved it so booked the cruise to see the East Coast.

The ship had left Melbourne when the captain announced to guests that passengers on an earlier cruise had norovirus and asked guests to take extra precautions including washing their hands regularly and using hand sanitiser.

any notification before they left and by this time it was too late to do anything about it as they were well on their way to New Zealand.

“It think people should be told and given the option that if you don’t like being exposed to this virus you are allowed to get off. But we found out when we were sea.”

Halfway into the 12-day cruise passengers started falling ill and Elisabeth came down with the bug on Saturday night. She was then isolated to her cabin for 48 hours.

“They (passengers) are sick all right. But of course the ship won’t tell us how many are sick, but my wife got sick on Saturday night. They are taking all sorts of precautions but it is still happening. They keep telling me, they are doing their utmost and they are doing their best but the fact is it is not effective.”

It was the ice: 144 students sickened in Taiwan, 2015

On 5 March 2015, Taiwan Centers for Disease Control was notified of more than 200 students with gastroenteritis at a senior high school during excursion to Kenting. We conducted an outbreak investigation to identify the causative agent and possible vehicle of the pathogen.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective cohort study by using a structured questionnaire to interview all students for consumed food items during their stay at the resort. Students were defined as a gastroenteritis case while having vomiting or diarrhea after the breakfast on 4 March. We inspected the environment to identify possible contamination route. We collected stool or vomitus samples from ill students, food handlers and environmental specimens for bacterial culture for common enteropathogens, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for norovirus and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for rotavirus. Norovirus PCR-positive products were then sequenced and genotyped.

Results

Of 267 students enrolled, 144 (54%) met our case definition. Regression analysis revealed elevated risk associated with iced tea, which was made from tea powder mixed with hot water and self-made ice (risk ratio 1.54, 95% confidence interval 1.22–1.98). Ice used for beverages, water before and after water filter of the ice machine and 16 stool and vomitus samples from ill students were tested positive for norovirus; Multiple genotypes were identified including GI.2, GI.4 and GII.17. GII.17 was the predominant genotype and phylogenetic analyses showed that noroviruses identified in ice, water and human samples were clustered into the same genotypes. Environmental investigation revealed the ice was made by inadequate-filtered and un-boiled water.

Conclusions

We identified the ice made by norovirus-contaminated un-boiled water caused the outbreak and the predominant genotype was GII.17. Adequately filtered or boiled water should be strongly recommended for making ice to avoid possible contamination.

Ice-associated norovirus outbreak predominantly caused by GII.17 in Taiwan, 2015

BNC Public Health, 2017, 17:870, Hao-Yuan Cheng, Min-Nan Hung, Wan-Chin Chen, Yi-Chun Lo, Ying-Shih Su, Hsin-Yi Wei, Meng-Yu Chen, Yen-Chang Tuan, Hui-Chen Lin, Hsu-Yang Lin, Tsung-Yen Liu, Yu-Ying Wang, Fang-Tzy Wu https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4869-4

https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-017-4869-4

Raw is risky and a drain on public health

A protracted outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections was caused by consumption of unpasteurized (“raw”) milk sold at Oregon grocery stores. Although it never caused a noticeable increase in reported infections, the outbreak was recognized because of routine follow-up interviews.

Six of 16 Portland-area cases reported between December 1992 and April 1993 involved people who drank raw milk from dairy A. By pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), E. coli O157:H7 isolates from these cases and from the dairy A herd were homologous (initially, 4 of 132 animals were E. coliO157:H7-positive).

Despite public warnings, new labeling requirements, and increased monitoring of dairy A, retail sales and dairy-associated infections continued until June 1994 (a total of 14 primary cases). Seven distinguishable PFGE patterns in 3 homology groups were identified among patient and dairy herd E. coli O157:H7 isolates. Without restrictions on distribution, E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks caused by raw milk consumption can continue indefinitely, with infections occurring intermittently and unpredictably.

A prolonged outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections caused by commercially distributed raw milk

1.sep.2017

The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Keene et al.

https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/176/3/815/872141

Vaccines work: New York country club patrons exposed to hepatitis A linked to fancy place

Christopher Eberhart of Lohud writes that patrons at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club may have been exposed to hepatitis A as an outbreak linked to bartaco in Port Chester continues to spread.  

A Sleepy Hollow Country Club employee was infected by one of the five people who were exposed to hepatitis A at bartaco, Westchester Health Department officials said today.  

Health officials don’t believe this outbreak will involve as many people as bartaco, which included treatments of more than 3,000 people, who were potentially exposed to Hepatitis A. 

“We’re not expecting to be treating thousands this time,” Amler said at a Friday afternoon press conference. 

While the greatest risk is to those who ate or drank at Sleepy Hollow’s Grill Room, in an abundance of caution the Health Department recommends preventive treatment for anyone who ate or drank at the club between Oct. 27 and Nov. 4.

The county is offering free preventative treatment today from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the county clinic at 134 Court St. in White Plains. Dr. Sherlita Amler, commissioner of health, said more clinics are expected to be scheduled for next week, but the details haven’t been sorted out yet.