PR before publication still a bad idea: Food safety on TV doesn’t go out of style

If you were deserted on a desert island, what would be the top 5 records/CDs/cassettes/8-tracks you would bring?

Stones, Beggar’s Banquet

Stones, Let it Bleed

Tragically Hip, Up to Here

Blue Rodeo, 5 Days in May

Old and in the Way

Just a suggestion.

I’m spit-balling here.

Repetition is the norm. Karl Popper had something to say about that.

In 2004, my laboratory reported (and by reported I mean published in a peer-reviewed journal) that, based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows, an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.

Once the paper was published, it made headlines around the globe.

And then it started getting replicated. Texas, Europe, a few other places, and Massachusetts.

Now Germany.

BfR is presenting a research project on the topic of TV kitchen hygiene at International Green Week.

I’ve e-mail the folks at BfR who published this stuff and asked them whether it was peer-reviewed or not.

That was last week.

No answer.

Maybe something was lost in translation.

There were errors on average every 50 seconds, with the most common being dirty hands wiped on a tea towel and chopping boards being reused without first being cleaned.

They then tested two groups of participants making chicken salad with home-made mayonnaise based on a cooking video – one of which showed a chef who followed recommendations and another which showed a cook with poor hygiene. 

Those shown the video with the exemplary kitchen hygiene complied with the recommended measures more frequently when cooking the dish by themselves.

Prof Hensel added: “The results show that the kitchen hygiene presented in cooking shows may have an influence on the hygiene behaviour of the viewers.

“TV cooking shows can therefore take on a role model function by sharpening awareness of kitchen hygiene instead of neglecting it.”

Keep on spit-balling.

Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

Seek and ye shall find: Citrobacter in pre-cut veggies in a German hospital sickened 76

A foodborne outbreak of VIM carbapenemase-expressing Citrobacter freundii (CPC) occurred between February and June 2016 at a major university hospital in Germany.

An explosive increase of CPC isolated from rectal swabs of patients during weekly routine screening led to the declaration of an outbreak. A hospital-wide prevalence screening was initiated as well as screening of all patients on admission and before transfer to another ward, and canteen staff, patient rooms, medical and kitchen inventory and food. Swabs were streaked out on selective plates. All CPC isolates were analysed by mass spectrometry and selected isolates by whole-genome sequencing.

In total, 76 mostly unrelated cases in different wards were identified. The CPC was isolated from retained samples of prepared vegetable salads and puddings and from a mixing machine used to prepare them only after an overnight culture. The immediate ban on serving potential source food resulted in a sharp decline and finally disappearance of novel cases. Repeated testing of pre-sliced vegetables showed a high degree of contamination with C. freundii without a carbapenemase, indicating a possible source.

This report demonstrates that an explosive increase in carbapenemase-expressing Enterobacteriaceae contamination may be caused by a foodborne source, and suggests that pre-sliced vegetables have to be taken into account as a putative pathogen repository. It also underlines the importance of appropriate cooling, transport, re-heating and distribution of meals and indicates that probing of non-organic surfaces is limited by low sensitivity, which may be increased by additional overnight cultivation in appropriate media.

A nosocomial foodborne outbreak of a VIM carbapenemase-expressing Citrobacter freundii

15 January 2018

Clinical Infectious Diseases, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciy034

Mathias Pletz, Antje Wollny, Ute-Heike Dobermann, Jurgen Rodel, Svetlana Neubauer, Claudia Stein, Christian Brandt, Anita Hartung, Alexander Mellmann, Sabine Edel, Vladimir Patchev, Oliwia Makarewicz, Jens Maschmann

https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/cid/ciy034/4809943?redirectedFrom=PDF

German police arrest suspect in baby-food poisoning threats

Associated Press reports that German authorities said Saturday they are confident that a 53-year-old man arrested a day earlier is behind a blackmail attempt that saw jars of poisoned baby food placed on store shelves in southern Germany.

Prosecutors said investigators found the same poison — ethylene glycol, a compound used in antifreeze — when they arrested the man Friday near the southwestern city of Tuebingen.

Chief prosecutor Alexander Boger told a news conference in Konstanz, on Germany’s southern border, that the man hadn’t confessed but the evidence against him was substantial.

DNA found on the baby food jars and pictures taken with a supermarket surveillance camera also pointed to the suspect, who wasn’t identified due to German privacy rules, prosecutors said.

Authorities and companies received an email this month threatening to poison unspecified food at German retailers inside the country and beyond unless more than 10 million euros ($11.8 million) was paid by Saturday.

The blackmailer alerted authorities that five jars of baby food at shops in Friedrichshafen, near Konstanz, had been tampered with. Officials located the jars and found they contained ethylene glycol but said there’s no evidence that anyone was poisoned.

Deep clean is more than adjectives: it means deep clean

We investigated 543 Listeria monocytogenes isolates from food having a temporal and spatial distribution compatible with that of the invasive listeriosis outbreak occurring 2012–2016 in southern Germany. Using forensic microbiology, we identified several products from 1 manufacturer contaminated with the outbreak genotype. Continuous molecular surveillance of food isolates could prevent such outbreaks.

Molecular tracing to find source of protracted invasive listeriosis outbreak, Southern Germany, 2012-2016

Emerging Infectious Disease, vol 23, no 10, October 2017, Sylvia Kleta, Jens Andre Hammerl, Ralf Dieckmann, Burkhard Malorny, Maria Borowiak, Sven Halbedel, Rita Prager, Eva Trost, Antje Flieger, Hendrik Wilking, Sabine Vygen-Bonnet, Ulrich Busch, Ute Messelhäußer, Sabine Horlacher, Katharina Schönberger, Dorothee Lohr, Elisabeth Aichinger, Petra Luber, Andreas Hensel, and Sascha Al Dahouk

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/10/16-1623_article

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

 

3 sick with botulism in Spain and Germany linked to dried salted fish

Two cases of botulism in the province of Alicante and another in Germany linked to a brand of dried salted fish produced in The Netherlands has led to it being withdrawn from sale in various parts of Spain.

dried-roach-fish-salted-hanged-log-wall-drying-50980748Salted roach (rutilus rutilus, known in Spanish and branded as such in supermarkets asrutilo), stocked in refrigeration cabinets and bearing the identification number NL-6114-EG, distributed by Monolith Alimentos España Sur (in Valencia) and Norte (in Catalunya) has been taken off the shelves after two consumers in the province of Alicante reported having been apparently affected by the bug.

Both showed ‘very similar symptoms’, although it has yet to be confirmed whether they caught botulism from eating dried roach.

All supermarkets and delicatessens in the towns of Dénia, Altea, La Nucia, Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Alicante city have taken it off the shelves, as have those in the province of Castellón, Gandia (Valencia province) and Valencia city.

In Catalunya, shops in Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell (Barcelona province), Salou (Tarragona province) and Lleida have withdrawn it from sale.

The Spanish Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, says it has received a European alert after a case of botulism in Germany thought to have been caused by the same product.

Michael Pollan didn’t invent microbiome research, he’s a demagogue: Set of 15 bacterial species protects mice from Salmonella as effectively as natural gut microbiota

The mammalian gut harbors thousands of microbial species – collectively known as the microbiota or microbiome – that interact with each other and with their host to form a complex ecosystem.

lmu-set-of-15-bacterial-species-protects-mice-from-salmonella-infections-as-effectively-as-does-the-natural-gut-microbiotaIn healthy organisms, this community provides an effective shield against infection by many pathogenic organisms, such as Clostridium difficile (which is responsible for antibiotic-associated diarrhea) and various Salmonella species.

Researchers led by LMU microbiologist Professor Bärbel Stecher, in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Vienna and the Technical University of Munich, now show that, in the mouse, a defined group of 15 bacterial species confers the same degree of protection against Salmonella infections as does the host’s natural microbiota. The work establishes a new model system for the investigation of the interaction between the gut microbiome and infectious pathogens, which could in turn provide new approaches to the treatment of gastrointestinal infections. The new findings appear in the journal Nature Microbiology.

The protective effect provided by the gut microbiota against infection by invasive pathogens is referred to as colonization resistance. Exposure to antibiotics can disrupt this mechanism because these drugs typically alter the composition of the bacterial population in the gastrointestinal tract. “However, the contribution made by individual bacterial species to colonization resistance remains unclear,” says Stecher, who is also member of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

“In order to gain a better understanding of the functions of the gut microbiota in this context, we had already established in my laboratory a minimal consortium comprising 12 bacterial species which are representative for the gut microbiome of the mouse.” This set of species, which is referred to as Oligo-MM-12, can be introduced into germ-free mice and is stably maintained over several generations. However, while mice colonized by the Oligo-MM-12 species are more resistant to infection by Salmonella enterica than their germ-free relatives, they are not as well protected as mice with a normal microbiome.

pollan-microbiomeThe team then went on to develop a new strategy, called genome-guided microbiota design, to identify species required to confer the same measure of protection as the natural gut microbiome of the mouse.

“We compared DNA sequences from the 12 species represented in Oligo-MM-12 with homologous sequences derived from the total mouse microbiome, and were able to identify groups of genes that were missing from our set,” Stecher explains. Some of these genes turned out to be characteristic for so-called facultative anaerobes, i.e. bacterial species that grow best in the presence in oxygen, but are nevertheless capable of proliferating in its absence. Indeed, the genus Salmonella consists of facultative anaerobes, while almost all the species that make up the Oligo-MM-12 consortium are obligate anaerobes – for which oxygen is toxic.

“We therefore supplemented our original consortium with three facultatively anaerobic species that are found in the microbiota of healthy mice,” Stecher says, “and we were able to demonstrate experimentally that this combination confers the same level of colonization resistance against Salmonella as that observed in mice that have a natural microbiota.” Stecher and her colleagues believe that their new “mini-microbiota”, together with the use of genome-guided microbiota design, provides a powerful new tool for the identification of hitherto unknown functions mediated by natural microbiota. This opens a route to the identification of specific bacterial species that could ameliorate the effects of disease-dependent dysfunction of the gut microbiota.

Feed-to-farm-to-slaughter-to-267 sickened with Salmonella in Germany, 2013

One of the largest and longest Salmonella outbreaks in Germany within the last 10 years occurred in central Germany in 2013.

neuruppin-germany-butchers-slaughtered-in-processing-pigs-d2w996To identify vehicles of infection, we analysed surveillance data, conducted a case-control study and food traceback. We identified 267 cases infected with Salmonella Infantis with symptom onset between 16 April and 26 October 2013 in four neighbouring federal states.

Results of our study indicated that cases were more likely to have eaten raw minced pork from local butcher’s shops [odds ratio (OR) 2·5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·1–5·8] and have taken gastric acid-reducing or -neutralizing medication (OR 3·8, 95% CI 1·3–13) than controls.

The outbreak was traced back to contaminated raw pork products found in different butcher’s shops supplied by one slaughterhouse, to pigs at one farm and to an animal feed producer. Characterization of isolates of human, food, animal, feed, and environmental origin by phage-typing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis confirmed the chain of infection.

Insufficient hygiene standards in the slaughterhouse were the most probable cause of the ongoing transmission. We recommend that persons taking gastric acid suppressants should refrain from consuming raw pork products. Improving and maintaining adequate hygiene standards and process controls during slaughter is important to prevent future outbreaks.

A prolonged outbreak of Salmonella Infantis associated with pork products in central Germany, April–October 2013

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 07 / May 2016, pp 1429-1439

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10259962&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

6 dead, 60 sick, in unknown Listeria outbreak in Germany

Listeriosis patient isolates in Germany have shown a new identical pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern since 2012 (n = 66).

listeria4Almost all isolates (Listeria monocytogenes serotype 1/2a) belonged to cases living in southern Germany, indicating an outbreak with a so far unknown source. Case numbers in 2015 are high (n = 28). No outbreak cases outside Germany have been reported. Next generation sequencing revealed the unique cluster type CT1248 and confirmed the outbreak. Investigations into the source are ongoing.

Since November 2012, a previously not observed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern in human isolates of invasive L. monocytogenes serotype 1/2a has been detected in Germany with increasing frequency. Altogether 66 outbreak cases have been recorded, with 28 cases in 2015. Four cases were pregnancy-associated and six cases died in the course of the disease. Here we provide details of the ongoing outbreak.

 Ongoing outbreak of invasive Listeriosis, Germany, 2012 to 2015

Eurosurveillance, Volume 20, Issue 50, 17 December 2015

W Ruppitsch , R Prager, S Halbedel, P Hyden, A Pietzka, S Huhulescu, D Lohr, K Schönberger, E Aichinger, A Hauri, K Stark, S Vygen, E Tietze, F Allerberger, H Wilking

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21336