The role of meat in foodborne disease

Meat has featured prominently as a source of foodborne disease and a public health concern. For about the past 20 years the risk management paradigm has dominated international thinking about food safety. Control through the supply chain is supported by risk management concepts, as the public health risk at the point of consumption becomes the accepted outcome-based measure.

Foodborne pathogens can be detected at several points in the supply chain and determining the source of where these pathogens arise and how they behave throughout meat production and processing are important parts of risk-based approaches. Recent improvements in molecular and genetic based technologies and data analysis for investigating source attribution and pathogen behaviour have enabled greater insights into how foodborne outbreaks occur and where controls can be implemented. These new approaches will improve our understanding of the role of meat in foodborne disease and are expected to have a significant impact on our understanding in the next few years.

The role of meat in foodborne disease: Is there a coming revolution in risk assessment and management?

Meat Science

Narelle Fega, Ian Jenson

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2018.04.018

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174018300731

Farm animals quarantined following crypto at Rhode Island petting zoo

I’m getting too old for this shit.

As John Prine famously sang, all the news just repeats itself.

Animals at a Middletown farm are being quarantined after three people got sick, Rhode Island health officials announced last week.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said one child and two adults came down with cryptosporidiosis after having contact with goats during “pet and cuddle” events at Simmons Farm on West Main Road on March 25 and 31.

“I have never been so sick,” one woman, who did not want to be identified, told NBC 10 News. “I had visited the farm on Saturday, March 31 and by Friday evening, I was extremely ill and it progressively got worse from there.”

She said she went to the hospital April 10 and a doctor asked if she had been to a farm.

“Today, I have had my first real meal and my stomach is already gurgling,” she said. “Up until tonight, I had six Saltines.”

About 60 goats and five cows are being quarantined, Simmons Farm owners told NBC 10 News. They will also be screened.

Dutch food inspectors to get tough on water in meat product labeling

AArrgghh, the Dutch.

The Dutch food safety board has given the meat industry until July 10 to come clean about how much water it adds to packs of meat and fish sold in supermarkets, the Volkskrant reported on Friday.

European meat firms have been required by law to include ‘water’ on the ingredients list since December 2014 and add the percentage of water in the total weight of the product. But checks by the Volkskrant newspaper found a number of products on sale in Dutch supermarkets do not meet the rules.

For example, a pack of pangasius fish fillets sold by Jumbo are labeled as 78% fish, but do not say how much of their weight is water. The NVWA told the Volkskrant it had found faulty labels in the past but declined to say how many. The body now says it will get tough on food processors who do not comply with the rules in the second half of this year.

Waiter, is that romaine from Yuma? At least 53 sick across 16 US states with outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 linked to lettuce

David Meyer of Fortune magazine reports the U.S.’s mysterious E. coli outbreak now has a likely culprit: romaine lettuce grown around Yuma, Arizona. And consumers are being given conflicting advice on what to do to protect themselves.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that any consumers in the U.S. who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce should throw it away. If they want to buy romaine lettuce from now on, they should first check with the store or restaurant that it wasn’t grown in the Yuma region, the agencies said.

However, Consumer Reports has gone a step further, advising people to avoid all romaine lettuce for the time being. Why? Because people may find it difficult to establish for sure that their lettuce does not come from the growing region that’s suspected to be the source.

Niraj Chokshi of the New York Times reported that CDC said in a statement, “If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away,” the C.D.C..

The agency was first alerted to the outbreak by health officials in New Jersey, who had noticed an increase in E. coli cases in the state, said Dr. Laura Gieraltowski, an epidemiologist at the C.D.C. After some discussion, it became clear that many of those infected had eaten chopped romaine lettuce at restaurants before getting sick.

Concerned, the agency looked for related cases by checking PulseNet, a national network of laboratories that catalog samples of harmful bacteria from infected patients.

“When we looked back into our PulseNet system we saw that there were other cases in other states with the same DNA fingerprint,” Dr. Gieraltowski said.

The C.D.C. learned that the others infected by that particular strain, E. coli O157:H7, had also eaten chopped romaine lettuce at restaurants before getting sick, she said. It turned over the information to the Food and Drug Administration, which helped trace the outbreak to Yuma, Ariz.

To pinpoint the exact source, though, investigators would need samples of the tainted lettuce. But because of the short shelf life of lettuce and the time it takes for an outbreak to be identified, obtaining such a sample may prove difficult.

However, a cluster of eight illnesses in an Alaska prison may help pinpoint the source.

Dr. Joe McLaughlin, with the Epidemiology Section at the state Department of Health and Social Services, said health officials had responded last week to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria at the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome, Alaska.

None of the eight patients have died or been hospitalized, in cases which were noticed between April 5 and April 15. All ate “significantly higher” numbers of salads than other people at Anvil Mountain, however, and have shown the same symptoms.

“Our outbreak is the first one I know of that’s been associated nationally with the consumption of whole heads of lettuce rather than chopped lettuce,” McLaughlin said. “What this outbreak suggests is that the source of contamination may actually be at the farm rather than the actual processing of the lettuce.”

Duh.

CDC reports in its latest outbreak update  that information collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick.

At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified.

Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it.

Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.

Taxes, folks and WKRP

Like any good American, I spent the early hours of the Australian morning to finalize and submit my 2017 U.S. taxes.

Wasn’t too hard, I don’t get paid, but we have to declare any foreign income to avoid future troubles with the IRS.

The Canadian one is next and then will be starting on the Australian one, where the tax year runs from July 1 rather than Jan. 1.

Filing in the U.S. is joint for me and my partner, but separate in the other countries.

I get confused.

And when I get confused, I watch TV (was WKRP in Cincinnati a great TV show or the greatest?).

Or go to the supermarket.

When I started in the food safety stuff, my friend Gord told me, pay attention to the farmers.

Those that produce the food.

I agreed, did that for years, then expanded further to customers, the people that actually buy food.

Yesterday I went to my supermarket-lab after a few hours in the city.

Half of the meat section was cleared out.

I asked if they had a power outage, but the young dude said, nah, it’s all monitored at HQ, the temp went down so we had to pull the stock to the back cooler.

OK, cool, way to be responsive, until a manager walked by, tapped the worked on his shoulder, meaning get back to work or stop talking to the food safety dude, or both.

At the checkout, I overheard a number of staff had called in sick.

That prompted me to ask, are you told to stay at home when you’re sick, and they both said yes, until the one said the other was sick, and at work.

They said it’s a great policy but lousy in action.

I learn so much just goofing around.

We’re still all hosts on a viral planet: How Norovirus infection gets its start

Norovirus — the highly contagious gastrointestinal illness best known for spreading rapidly on cruise chips, in nursing homes, schools and other densely populated spaces — kills an estimated 200,000 people annually, mostly in the developing world. There’s no treatment or vaccine to prevent the illness, and scientists have understood little about how the infection gets started.

Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown, in mice, that the virus infects a rare type of intestinal cell called a tuft cell, so named because each cell sports a cluster of hairlike extensions on its surface. While tuft cells are few in number, the scientists’ findings indicate that once the virus strikes, such cells multiply the virus quickly and set off severe infections.

The research, published April 12 in Science, suggests that targeting tuft cells with a vaccine or a drug may be a viable strategy for preventing or treating norovirus infections.

“Norovirus is one of the deadliest human pathogens that we know the least about,” said first author Craig B. Wilen, MD, PhD, an instructor in pathology and immunology. “Of the viruses worldwide for which there are no antiviral drugs or vaccines, norovirus arguably kills the most people. This study provides a therapeutic avenue to explore.

Norovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea that can develop suddenly. The virus is shed in the feces and vomit — sometimes for months after symptoms resolve — and spreads through people-to-people contact, by touching contaminated surfaces and then the mouth, or eating food contaminated with the virus.

Human norovirus can’t be grown easily in a lab, and for this reason, the researchers choose to study it in mice.

“We were most surprised that the virus infects such a rare cell type and that even with so few cells infected, the infections can be intense and easily transmitted,”Wilen said. “In a single mouse, for example, maybe 100 cells will be infected, which is very few compared with other viruses such as the flu.”

Tuft cells are a type of epithelial cell that protrudes into the intestine. They also are known to detect parasitic and worm infections in the gut and trigger an immune response. Such infections can make norovirus infections worse and may explain why people in the developing world – where intestinal parasites and worm infections are more common – also are more likely to die of norovirus.

But, until now, scientists didn’t understand how norovirus could be linked to intestinal parasite and worm infections. The new study indicates that such infections in the mice cause the number of tuft cells to increase by five- to tenfold, leading the norovirus to replicate more efficiently.

Treating the mice with a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic cocktail decreased the number of tuft cells and the risk of norovirus infection. But, Wilen cautioned, the antibiotics used in the study would not be practical to give to patients because they would deplete gut microbes that keep the body healthy. Still, the finding points to gut bacteria’s role in facilitating norovirus infection.

The researchers, including Herbert W. “Skip” Virgin, MD, PhD, now at Vir Biotechnology, also noted that noroviruses tucked inside tuft cells are effectively hidden from the immune system, which could explain why some people continue to shed virus long after they are no longer sick. These “healthy carriers” are thought to be the source of norovirus outbreaks, so understanding how the virus evades detection in such people could lead to better ways to prevent outbreaks.

“This raises important questions about whether human norovirus infects tuft cells and whether people who have chronic norovirus infections and continue to shed the virus long after infection do so because the virus remains hidden in tuft cells,” Wilen said. “If that’s the case, targeting tuft cells may be an important strategy to eradicate the virus.”

How Norovirus infection gets its start

12.apr.18

Washington University School of Medicine

Wilen CB, Lee S, Hsieh L-Y, Orchard RC, Desai C, Hykes Jr. BL, McAllaster MR, Balce DR, Feehley T, Brestoff JR, Hickey CA, Yokoyama CC, Wang Y-T, MacDuff DA, Kreamalmayer D, Howitt MR, Neil JA, Cadwell K, Allen PM, Handley SA, van Lookeren Campagne M, Baldridge MT and Virgin HW

https://www.brightsurf.com/news/article/041218454105/how-highly-contagious-norovirus-infection-gets-its-start.html

Disease outbreak at Texas cat café leads to kitty quarantine, investigation

I was walking Ted the Wonder Dog the other morning — which I try to do every day but often fail because I’m human, dammit, and Ted would rather sleep beside me all day, and then party at 2 a.m. — and we passed the new cat café in Annerley, Brisbane.

I never had indoor cats until the townhouse rules in Brisbane forced us so. Same with the tiny dog. Now we have our own inner city million-dollar property (in Monopoly money) the cats go in and out, and the dog won’t shut-up.

Cuteness overload was supposed to be the number one item on the menu at San Antonio’s first cat cafe, but now the owner is facing an investigation from local authorities.

City of San Antonio Animal Care Services seized two cats last week and ordered the remaining 54 cats in the 1,000-square-foot San Antonio Cat Cafe to be quarantined from the public on Monday, according to WOAI.

“You are not going to get the sick cats better in that environment and unfortunately you are likely to spread those ailments to the other animals that are currently healthy,” Shannon Sims, the assistant director of Animal Care Services, told the station.

The ailments that he’s talking about allegedly include ringworm and FIP, a viral disease that tends to attack the cells of the intestinal wall and is usually fatal in domestic cats, according to WebMD. Animal Care Services spokeswoman Lisa Norwood told KENS that the investigation thus far had revealed that up to three dozen cats that did not have rabies shots and that sick cats were often mixed with healthy cats.

Leah Taylor, a former cafe employee, who is studying to become a veterinary technician, told KENS she filed a complaint against owner Casey Steuart with Animal Care Services after witnessing four cats die there during her four months on the job.

“A lot of the cat care wasn’t maintained,” Taylor told KENS. “There were animals that should have been on medicine. There were animals that needed to see a vet for medical attention that weren’t tended to. There was a lot of ringworm and upper respiratory, which is very contagious not only to people but also to other animals.”

Cas Moskwa, another former Cat Cafe employee, posted a series of photos on Facebook Sunday, detailing what she called “the reality of the cafe and the poor state it currently is in.” She claimed that Steuart waited for weeks at a time before taking sick cats there to a veterinarian and left at least one sick and dying cat, named Decoy, out in the public lounge during his last agonizing days.

Her post includes photos of cats with crusted eyes and allegations that Steuart brought in a cat infected with ringworm into the facility’s kitten coop, resulting in three different litters becoming infected. She said in a separate post that a cat she took home from the cafe was one of them that had been infected.

According to KSAT, though, Steuart disputes the reports from Moskwa and other former employees, blaming “a lack of communication and misinterpretations.” She specifically disputed the reports of ringworm, a skin infection that can be transmitted to humans, in the cafe.

She also told the San Antonio Express News that three cats did die at the cafe, but none from neglect. One, she said, was 17 years old.

35 in 11 states sick with E. coli from Romaine lettuce grown in Arizona

It’s time to end the leafy greens cone of silence.

Top view of romaine lettuce that has been sliced on a wood cutting board.

This time it has made people unnecessarily sick.

I wouldn’t touch their product.

But how would I know?

On Sept. 14, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that an outbreak of E. coli O157: H7 had killed a 77-year-old woman and sickened 49 others. The FDA learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Wisconsin health officials that the outbreak may have been linked to the consumption of produce and identified bagged fresh spinach as a possible cause.

Eventually, four would die and at least 200 sickened.

One of the responses was to form the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) which apparently overseas most of the leafy greens production in the U.S.

They are known primarily for self-aggrandizing press releases.

And lots of rumors about how they inhibit epidemiological investigations into outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to their products (search ‘cone of silence’ on barfblog.com for plenty of examples)

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, since the last update on April 10, 2018, 18 more people from 9 states were added to this outbreak.

How many of those could have been prevented if CDC or State health types fingered chopped Romaine lettuce when rumors started circulating? Is the goal of LGMA really to forego epi and demand absolute proof before going public?

As of April 12, 2018, 35 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 11 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 22, 2018 to March 31, 2018. Ill people range in age from 12 to 84 years, with a median age of 29. Sixty-nine percent of ill people are female. Twenty-two ill people have been hospitalized, including three people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses that occurred after March 27, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks.

Epidemiologic evidence collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce is the likely source of this outbreak. Twenty-six (93%) of 28 people interviewed reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey[787 KB] of healthy people in which 46% reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were interviewed. Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.

Traceback investigations are ongoing to determine the source of chopped romaine lettuce supplied to restaurant locations where ill people ate. At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified. However, preliminary information indicates that the chopped romaine lettuce was from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

Information collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick.

Advice to Restaurants and Retailers:

  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.
  • Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.

That’s right, consumers, it’s up to you.

It should be up to the restaurant or retailer, who markets food safety at point-of-purchase.

And LGMA, which covers Yuma growing, should be forthcoming about risks, rather than blowing themselves in nonsensical tweets.

Rubber ducky you’re the one, who makes bacterial interactions so much fun

It’s a gotcha story, lots of bugs, nothing that would really make anyone sick, but familiarity with a child and a bathtub (or an adult).

Ceylan Yeginsu of The New York Times reports there’s an ugly truth about the rubber duck, the popular bathroom toy that children put in their mouths and use to squeeze bath water into their siblings’ faces.

Something yucky is likely to be inside, scientists say: “potentially pathogenic bacteria” that can cause eye, ear and stomach infections.

A study by American and Swiss researchers found that toy ducks appeared to be a breeding ground for microbes. The murky water released from four out of every five ducks tested included Legionella along with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, often associated with infections acquired in hospitals, the authors of the study said.

So don’t play with a rubber duck in a hospital.

The study, conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois, was published on Tuesday in the journal N.P.J. Biofilms and Microbiomes.

The researchers tested a range of bath toys, 19 different ones, and found 75 million cells of bacteria per square centimeter in the ducks — a strikingly high level that scientists say was a result of their polymer material releasing carbon, which acts as a nutrient for bacteria.

 “In addition to the nutrient supply, dirty bath water also serves as a further source of microbial seeding for the bath toys,” the researchers noted.

They suggested that using a higher-quality polymer to make the rubber ducks might prevent bacterial and fungal growth.

The study, which received funding from the Swiss government, is part of broader research into bacteria on household objects.

‘You could make animals sick’

Gonzalo and Kate, after all those farm/petting zoo/animal experience visits, have you ever seen a sign like this:

It’s accurate, zoonoses go both or lots of other ways.

Many thanks to the barfblog.com subscriber who sent it along.

Going to a petting zoo? People need to be a lot more careful than they thought

 http://barfblog.com/2012/09/going-to-a-petting-zoo-people-need-to-be-a-lot-more-careful-than-they-thought/

The other parents hate me.

Even Amy changed her phone ring to the Debbie Downer noise from Saturday Night Live.

I’m Dougie Downer.

Every time there’s a sausage sizzle, I don’t complain, I cook for the kids and their families, and use a thermometer.

People think I’m weird.

The chicken coop at the daycare is still empty. And while no one will say it, I’m sure they blame me for depriving their little ones of chick interaction (and Salmonella).

This is nothing new; I’ve been causing angst or disgust for about 20 years, going with my kids on those field trips to the farm (the oldest of five daughters is 25; I’m ancient).

Besides, Gonzalo Erdozain did most of the work on this petting zoo paper, and he’s got a little one, so he can torment the parents of Roman’s future classmates.

Kansas State University came out with their version of our petting zoo paper and quoted me, as saying “People have to be careful — a lot more careful than they thought.”

Powell is co-author of the paper “Observation of Public Health Risk Behaviors, Risk Communication and Hand Hygiene at Kansas and Missouri Petting Zoos – 2010-2011″ that was published recently in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health.

courtlynn.petting.zooThe paper’s main author is Gonzalo Erdozain, a master of public health student at the Kansas State University who works with Powell. Erdozain, Manhattan, visited numerous petting zoos and fairs in Kansas and Missouri in 2010 and 2011 and found many sanitary problems at the facilities. Article co-authors include Katherine KuKanich, assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University, and Ben Chapman of North Carolina State University.

When visiting petting zoos, Powell said parents need to be vigilant in watching their children and they need to put a health plan in effect for the visit. In Erdozain’s study, he observed children touching their faces after petting the animals, eating or drinking in the petting zoo, eating petting zoo food and sucking on a pacifier while at the zoo. Children were also seen picking up animal feces.

Another factor to watch for is the presence of high-risk animals — those most associated with zoonotic diseases, including chicks, young ruminants like goats, sheep and cattle.

Zoonotic diseases can be passed from animal to human, or vice versa.

Washing hands before and after encountering animals and the animal feed is one of the most recommended method to fight germs and bacteria from the animals and surrounding area of animal pens, Powell said.

“Hand-washing tool selection may also contribute to the success of hand hygiene as a preventive measure, as some outbreak investigations have reported alcohol-based hand sanitizer was not protective against illness, especially when hands are soiled,” Powell said.

Powell said Erdozain’s study found that visitors were five times as likely to wash their hands when a staff member was present. This observation, Powell said, is consistent with a study published last year that showed the importance of a little encouragement.

To help maintain a safe and healthy environment, Powell said petting zoos should constantly remind visitors to wash their hands when exiting the pens. Keeping clean and useful sinks near the exits of all facilities with a stand by attendant would help decrease the likeliness of a widespread illness due to forgetful hygiene, he said.

Strict governmental regulation and enforcement would be one way to ensure this happens but is an unlikely solution. Powell said that it is up to the zoos to help keep watch on what is happening within their pens and to make sure that the proper facilities are in place and are noticeable to visitors — children and adults alike.

“Providing hand hygiene stations, putting up some good signs, having staff supervise, avoiding high-risk animals and logical facility design are easy and inexpensive — and not doing so is inexcusable,” Powell said.

I’m fine with animal interactions; but people, and organizers, should be a lot more careful than they thought. That’s what I told my 3-year-old’s daycare as they prepared for a chicken coop. They hate me.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.

Erdozain G, Kukanich K, Chapman B, Powell D. 2012. Observation of public health risk behaviours, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011. Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01531.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract below:

Observation of public health risk behaviors, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011Outbreaks of human illness have been linked to visiting settings with animal contact throughout developed countries. This paper details an observational study of hand hygiene tool availability and recommendations; frequency of risky behavior; and, handwashing attempts by visitors in Kansas (9) and Missouri (4), U.S., petting zoos. Handwashing signs and hand hygiene stations were available at the exit of animal-contact areas in 10/13 and 8/13 petting zoos respectively. Risky behaviors were observed being performed at all petting zoos by at least one visitor. Frequently observed behaviors were: children (10/13 petting zoos) and adults (9/13 petting zoos) touching hands to face within animal-contact areas; animals licking children’s and adults’ hands (7/13 and 4/13 petting zoos, respectively); and children and adults drinking within animal-contact areas (5/13 petting zoos each). Of 574 visitors observed for hand hygiene when exiting animal-contact areas, 37% (n=214) of individuals attempted some type of hand hygiene, with male adults, female adults, and children attempting at similar rates (32%, 40%, and 37% respectively). Visitors were 4.8x more likely to wash their hands when a staff member was present within or at the exit to the animal-contact area (136/231, 59%) than when no staff member was present (78/343, 23%; p<0.001, OR=4.863, 95% C.I.=3.380-6.998). Visitors at zoos with a fence as a partial barrier to human-animal contact were 2.3x more likely to wash their hands (188/460, 40.9%) than visitors allowed to enter the animals’ yard for contact (26/114, 22.8%; p<0.001, OR= 2.339, 95% CI= 1.454-3.763). Inconsistencies existed in tool availability, signage, and supervision of animal-contact. Risk communication was poor, with few petting zoos outlining risks associated with animal-contact, or providing recommendations for precautions to be taken to reduce these risks.