What’s in your weed?

In Hawaii, one of the testing labs certified by the state to check the quality of medical marijuana said they found contamination in more than half of the samples from the black market.   

The lab, Steep Hill Hawaii, says over 50 percent of the black market product had contaminants that included mold, yeast, and pesticides. 

The lab says that doesn’t mean all homegrown products are bad, but patients should be aware of what’s in their medicine. 

“I personally was shocked to find out how much stuff was in black market cannabis that you would never expect. E. coli, which comes from fecal matter. Salmonella, which comes from raw egg and chicken. We found that on product we tested,” said Michael Covington, of Steep Hill Hawaii. 

In Canada, CannaDrinks may be all the rage in some parts of the world, but there are some serious health concerns surrounding new products being formulated.

Sure it sounds cool, to order some cannabis-infused drinks at the bar for you and your buddies. However, a leading food safety expert is warning that these cool drinks may be dangerous, and the public (apparently) needs to take note.

While a $245 million deal was penned between Constellation Brands and Canopy Growth last week, for a 10 percent stake of CP, Canada’s largest cannabis producer, to produce the new CannaDrinks, Rick Holley claims the drinks are problematic, “[Producers] could screw this all up if they don’t get into the mechanics of how to safely prepare and develop new food products,” he said, adding, “They could kill people!”

BNN reported that Constellation Brands told them via email that the company, “has a long-standing commitment to producing products with the highest quality standards and that comply with all regulations.”

According to Lawrence Goodridge, a McGill University food safety expert (Larry, you’re an expert), alcohol has the advantage of killing bacteria and toxins in sealed bottles or cans, whereas cannabis-infused products may not, “Because cannabis is a plant, there are certain concerns — like the possibility of pesticides used in production, or the type of fertilizer used, or the potential presence of heavy metals that could be toxic to humans,” said Goodridge, adding that, “Bacteria like e-coli or listeria that could be on the plant and that could make it onto the food, whether it is drinks or edibles, the risk is the same — but alcohol is special because we know that helps to kill some of those toxins.”

Also, Sikora et al. identified a case of Hepatitis A associated with cannabis use.

We identified a case of acute Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection linked to cannabis use. The local Public Health department received report of a man in his mid-20s with a classic presentation of hepatitis – jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, general malaise, and dark urine – as well as elevated serum aminotransferase levels and a positive anti-HAV IgM. Upon questioning, he reported no contact with ill individuals, or travel outside his metropolitan area. His exclusive source of water was the local municipal supply. He reported consuming mainly pre-packaged lower risk foods from large chain-style supermarket stores and eating at several local restaurants. While administering the questionnaire, the investigator identified that the patient smoked cannabis. Upon request, the patient agreed to provide a sample of cannabis for testing purposes. A viral elution of fresh cannabis leaves was completed. The sequences derived from the patient’s serum sample and the eluate from the cannabis leaves were identical, but did not match any other HAV sub-genotype 1B sequences from Canadian isolates within the National Microbiology Laboratory database. Hepatitis A virus can survive >60 days when dried and kept at room temperature and low humidity; HAV can remain infectious in water at room temperature for 300 days. It cannot be concluded with certainty that the cannabis was the source of the hepatitis A; however, as other sources were excluded, or were of lesser probability, the association of cannabis with his disease acquisition remains strong.

 

45 sick: Norovirus outbreak linked to Hawaiian restaurant

One of Waikiki’s newest restaurants underwent a thorough cleaning after several diners got sick.

Herringbone Waikiki voluntarily closed Thursday after a string of illnesses was traced back to the restaurant.

A sign on the door read, “Unfortunately we will not open this evening and apologize for any inconvenience.”

The Hawaii Department of Health says it’s an outbreak of norovirus, which is a foodborne illness.

So far, up to 45 people have fallen ill, and officials say that number will rise.

According to a department report posted online, on Saturday, Oct. 7, at around 11:30 a.m, “three customers ordered and shared the toss salad. All three showed symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.”

On Monday, diners who got sick called Herringbone and the health department.

An inspector was dispatched Tuesday and observed good personal hygiene practices. No employees were sick.

Food handler training in Hawaii


I was asked to teach a couple of food safety courses in Hawaii a couple of years ago in February. I live in Winnipeg, Canada where the temperature hovers around -45C around that time. You do the math. I told my wife to pack up the bags and kids cause we’re getting the hell out here….
I am not going to refute that food safety training is essential for food handlers to prevent unnecessary public barfing. It’s how the training is delivered that makes the difference. Different people learn in different ways and so it is critical for trainers to accommodate student needs.
I have always been a proponent of providing on-site, hands-on training based on behavioral science. Prior to starting my grad work on food safety training, I took the grassroots approach and asked frontline workers, in particular, English as Second Language students how they would benefit from a training course. Answer is always a resounding on-site, hands-on training that is short, concise and to the point.

John Steinhorst of the Garden island writes
The Hawaii Department of Health amended Chapter 50, Food Safety Code, after public hearings were held on Kauai, Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu in December 2016 and March 2017.
One of the major rule changes is a mandate for Food Handlers Education certification for persons-in-charge at all food establishments. This will ensure a minimum baseline of food safety knowledge for facility owners and managers.
“In reality, I think it’s probably a good idea that more people are certified to handle food safely,” said John Ferguson, owner of Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Company. “It just makes the environment in restaurants a lot safer for everybody.”

This is no conclusive evidence to support this statement. Having a Certificate doesn’t mean anything, it’s all about human behavior.

Studies have shown that food establishments with properly trained persons-in-charge have a lower occurrence of critical food safety violations that are directly linked to food illnesses.
“I already have some employees that have gone through the program at the school, so they are certified themselves,” Ferguson said. “I was certified many times throughout my career, but I probably need a refresher as well too.
The new rule requires at least one employee present during normal work hours, including during food preparation, must have a formal food handler’s training level certification. DOH will accept certification recognized by the American National Standards Institute.

The rest of the story can be found here:

http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/new-state-food-safety-rules-enhance-public-health-protection/article_abfbe56c-6054-5c5f-98e4-8a4dbbd79287.html

Investigating the potential benefits of on-site food safety training for Folklorama, a temporary food service event.

01.oct.12
Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 10, October 2012 , pp. 1829-1834(6)
Mancini, Roberto; Murray, Leigh; Chapman, Benjamin J.; Powell, Douglas A.

 

14 sick: Farmed seaweed linked to Salmonella outbreak recalled

Following initial reports that at least 14 people were sickened with Salmonella linked to farmed seaweed from Hawaii,  Marine Agrifuture, LLC. of Kahuku, HI, is recalling its Kahuku Ogo, Robusta Ogo and Kahuku Sea Asparagus which were distributed mainly in Hawaii to seafood and produce distributors through direct delivery, but also to some customers in CA, WA, NV, and Tokyo Japan, and retailed at local farmers markets in Hawaii.

kahuku-seaweedThe Ogo products come in a plastic bag of various weights from 0.5 LB to 35 LB, which were sold from November 2, 2016 and prior, and the Sea Asparagus in 4 Ounce, 1 LB clear plastic clamshell or in a 5 LB of plastic bag marked with a tracking number stamped on the lids or bags, which were sold from November 8, 2016 and prior. The corresponding UPC number for 4 OZ, 1 LB, and 5 LB of sea asparagus are 897680001010, 897680001027, and 897680001041 respectively.

The potential for contamination was noted after special tests by the Hawaii Department of Health revealed the presence of Salmonella in saltwater in the farm production and processing areas.

Production of the product has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

14 sick with Salmonella from seaweed farm in Hawaii

Jobeth Devera of Hawaii News Now writes the state is investigating 14 cases of salmonella on Oahu that are believed linked to tainted limu from an Oahu seaweed farm.

limu-pokeIn a news release issued Monday, the Department of Health said officials have ordered the farm to halt operations and advise its customers to remove its product from sale immediately.

The problem seaweed came from Olokai Hawaii, a seaweed farm in Kahuku. The owner, Dr. Wenhao Sun, said tainted water used in aquaponics may be to blame. 

“I was really surprised,” he said. “I don’t know how this could happen.”

The state said the cases of salmonella were in children and adults. All of the cases developed diarrheal illness from mid- to late October.

Four patients required hospitalization.

Dr. Sun says in 10 years of operations, his farm has never experienced problems like this.

“We will learn more and we will find the problem,” he said. “Then we can move on so we will satisfy our customers and make sure all the food is safe.”
Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

Toxo in cat poop threatens Hawaiian monk seals

Two wildlife issues have collided in Hawaii, pitting one group of animal defenders against another in an impassioned debate. The point of contention? Deadly cat poop and the feral felines that produce it.

hawaiian-monk-sealsFederal researchers believe feces from the legions of stray cats roaming Hawaii is spreading a disease that is killing Hawaiian monk seals, some of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. Some conservationists advocate euthanizing those cats that no one wants, and that has cat lovers up in arms.

“It’s a very difficult, emotional issue,” said state Sen. Mike Gabbard, chairman of a committee that earlier this year heard a proposal to ban the feeding of feral cats on state land. The panel abandoned the bill after an outcry.

“It struck a nerve in our community,” he said.

The problem stems from a parasite common in cats that can cause toxoplasmosis, a disease that has killed at least five female Hawaiian monk seals and three males since 2001, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“While eight seals may not sound like a lot of animals, it actually has pretty large ramifications for an endangered population where there’s only about 1,300 seals in existence at this point in time,” said Michelle Barbieri, veterinary medical officer for NOAA’s Hawaiian monk seal research program. Scientists believe monk seals become exposed by ingesting contaminated water or prey.

Stray cats, meanwhile, have no predators in Hawaii and have ballooned in numbers across the state. Some 300,000 feral cats roam Oahu alone, according to marketing research commissioned by the Hawaiian Humane Society in 2015.

Hepatitis A in scallops

As the number of hepatitis A cases in Hawaii nears 300, how do people prepare scallops?

scallop-lunch-mar-12The hep A seems to have originated in frozen scallops from the Philippines.

But if you follow TV food porn chefs, scallops are cooked when they can bounce off the floor.

No.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and make sure they reach 145F (which may not be enough to kill hep A; some sources recommend an internal temperature of 195F).

Think I’ll go down to the fish market later today and grill some scallops in garlic-lime butter.

And vaccines work.

Hawaii Hepatitis A seen and heard: secondary infection potential edition

If I ran a kitchen, hepatitis A would scare me the most. I could have hired a superstar employee, the world’s best handwasher, and still end up with lines outside my operation as folks get post-exposure shots.

I’d try to figure out a way to get everyone who worked for me vaccinated. And according to Murphy et al at CDC, vaccines really matter. Following an increase in vaccination recommendations and offerings in the U.S. rates of the illness declined ‘96.6% from 1996 to 2011 (from 11.7 to 0.4 cases per 100,000 population), and the number of reported cases decreased from 31,032 to 1,398, respectively.’original

In the ongoing saga of hep A in Hawaii, where over 206 are ill following the consumption of contaminated raw scallops, the potential for secondary cases is emerging as food handlers in different settings are part of the case group. According to KRON4, a food handler in a school cafeteria has the virus.

The Hawaii Department of Health is investigating a case of hepatitis A involving a school cafeteria worker.

The patient worked at Kipapa Elementary School in Mililani and was in the cafeteria kitchen between Aug. 3-16.

The Department of Education says it’s complying with the investigation and the school will be preparing its meals off-site for the time being.

The principal sent home a letter to notify parents.

DOH officials say all students should have received a hepatitis A vaccine as part of routinely recommended childhood vaccinations.

Children who have not been previously vaccinated — a few dozen students — should be seen by their pediatrician.

Also on the list of secondary infection sources is a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant who, according to the Hawaii Tribune Herald, is also part of the outbreak cluster.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday afternoon issued a precaution to passengers who were on the following Hawaiian Airlines flights:

• July 31 — Flight HA22 from Honolulu to Seattle.

• Aug. 1 — Flight HA21 from Seattle to Honolulu.

• Aug. 10 — Flight HA18 from Honolulu to Las Vegas.

• Aug. 12 — Flight HA17 from Las Vegas to Honolulu.

The flight attendant served in-flight food and beverages during each of the flights.

The DOH noted in a press release that risk of transmission from the Hawaiian Airlines flights is “extremely low.”

208 sick: Hawaii Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen raw scallops from Philippines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses linked to raw scallops.

scallops.hep.aThe FDA and CDC are supporting the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) in an investigation of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections linked to scallops supplied by Sea Port Products Corp. On August 17, 2016, Hawaii Department of Health reported that 206 people have been confirmed to have become ill with hepatitis A in that state.

On August 17, 2016, the FDA, Hawaii DOH, CDC and state partners informed Sea Port Products Corp that epidemiological, laboratory and traceback information indicates their scallops are the likely source of illnesses.

On August 18, 2016, Sea Port Products Corp initiated a voluntary recall of frozen Bay Scallops produced on November 23, 2015 and 24, 2015. The products were distributed to California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The FDA is working with the recalling firm to ensure their recall is effective and that recalled product is removed from the market.

Restaurants and other retailers should not sell or serve the recalled Bay Scallops. The recalled products were not sold directly to consumers. FDA advises consumers not to eat the recalled Bay Scallops. Consumers should ask the restaurant or retailer where their scallops came from to make sure they do not eat recalled Bay Scallops from Sea Port Products Corp.

The FDA’s traceback investigation involved working with Hawaii DOH to trace the path of food eaten by those made ill back to a common source. The traceback investigation determined that Sea Port Products Corp imported the scallops that were later supplied to certain Genki Sushi locations in Hawaii, where ill people reported eating.

On August 17, 2016, FDA laboratory analysis of two scallop samples, which were collected on August 11, 2016, were confirmed positive for hepatitis A. These samples were imported by Sea Port Products Corp. 

The scallops are produced by De Oro Resources Inc., in Suba Basbas, Philippines, and imported by Sea Port Products Corp. in Washington state. Health authorities closed Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai late Monday because the scallops had been served there.

 

Blast from the past: hep A inactivation in scallops

Raw scallops served at Genki Sushi have been fingered in a Hawaiian hep A outbreak. What if Genki had seared the scallops? According to some historic work, seared scallops aren’t probably hep A risk-reduced scallops either.

Inactivation of Hepatitis A virus in heat-treated mussels
Journal of Applied Microbiology
dec.99
L. CROCI, M. CICCOZZI, D. DE MEDICI, S. DI PASQUALE, A. FIORE, A. MELE and L. TOTI.1999.Hepatitis A is a widespread infectious disease world-wide. In Italy, shellfish consumption was shown to be a major risk factor for hepatitis A infection, especially when these products are eaten raw or slightly cooked. The aim of the present study was to evaluate Hepatitis A virus (HAV) resistance in experimentally contaminated mussels treated at different temperatures (60, 80 and 100 °C) for various times. The presence of HAV was evaluated by cell culture infection and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction confirmation. The experiments, carried out on HAV suspension and contaminated mussel homogenate both containing about 105 50% tissue culture infectious dose ml−1, showed that, under our experimental conditions, the treatments at 60 °C for 30 min, 80 °C for 10 min and an immersion at 100 °C for 1 min were not sufficient to inactivate all the viruses; it was necessary to prolong the treatment at 100 °C for 2 min to completely inactivate the virus. Thus it is advisable to eat only cooked shellfish, paying particular attention to the times and temperatures used in the cooking process, since evidence suggests that the shellfish body may protect the virus from the heat effect.

Also, here’s the health department’s entire press conference on the source of the outbreak.