Toxo: You don’t want it

Toxoplasmosis is a foodborne zoonosis transmitted by Toxoplasma gondii, a cosmopolitan protozoan that infects humans through exposure to different parasite stages, in particular by ingestion of tissue cysts or tachyzoites contained in meat, primary offal (viscera), and meat-derived products or ingestion of environmental sporulated oocysts in contaminated food or water.

The pig is an important species for infection: raw or undercooked pork consumption not subject to treatment able to inactivate the parasite represents a risk to consumers’ health. Broadening knowledge of transmission ways and prevalence concerning this important pathogen in swine, together with a thorough acquaintance with hazard management are key elements to avoid T. gondii spreading within the swine production chain.

This review aims to illustrate why toxoplasmosis should be regarded as a veterinary public health issue through a careful description of the parasite, routes of infection, and inactivation treatments, highlighting the main prevention lines from pig breeding to pork consumption.

Toxoplasma gongii, a foodborne pathogen in the swine production chain form a European perspective

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, ahead of print, July 2017,  De Berardinis Alberto, Paludi Domenico, Pennisi Luca, and Vergara Alberto, https://doi.org/10.1089/fpd.2017.2305

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2017.2305

Hepatitis E: Raw pork is main cause of infection in EU

Consumption of raw or undercooked pork meat and liver is the most common cause of hepatitis E infection in the EU, said the European Food Safety Authority.

More than 21,000 cases of hepatitis E infections have been reported in humans over the last 10 years, with an overall 10-fold increase in this period.

Rosina Girones, chair of EFSA’s working group on hepatitis E, said: “Even if it is not as widespread as other foodborne diseases, hepatitis E is a growing concern in the EU. In the past, people thought the main source of infection was drinking contaminated water while travelling outside the EU. But now we know the main source of transmission of the disease in Europe is food.”

Domestic pigs are the main carriers of hepatitis E in the EU. Wild boars can also carry the virus, but meat from these animals is less commonly consumed.

Experts from EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards recommend that Member States increase awareness of public health risks associated with raw and undercooked pork meat and advise consumers to cook pork meat thoroughly. They also recommend the development of suitable methods for detecting hepatitis E in food.

This scientific advice builds on a previous scientific opinion on the occurrence and control of foodborne viruses published in 2011.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has today also published a report on hepatitis E in humans which assesses testing, diagnosis and monitoring methods and reviews available epidemiological data.

Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV).

Most people who contract hepatitis E display no or mild symptoms. However, in some cases especially for those with liver damage or patients with a weak immune system, it can lead to liver failure – which can be fatal.

8 dead, 100 ill after consuming pork in India

The Hindustan Times reports that Ri-Bhoi district magistrate has ordered a magisterial inquiry to ascertain what caused the deaths. Villagers claimed the consumption of pork led to the tragedy

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Eight children in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district have died of suspected food poisoning and over 100 others are undergoing medical treatment, an official said on Tuesday.

The children died after consuming pork after attending a church gathering on Sunday at Nongkya village, Ri-Bhoi district magistrate Chinmay P Gotmare told IANS. “Three persons died on Monday and another five on Tuesday morning in hospitals,” he said.

Gotmare said he had ordered a magisterial inquiry to ascertain what caused the deaths. Villagers claimed the consumption of pork led to the tragedy.

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.)

Cook it: Toxo in pork

Toxoplasma gondii is one of the leading foodborne pathogens in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that T. gondii accounts for 24% of deaths due to foodborne illness in the United States.

raw-meat-120607Consumption of undercooked pork products in which T. gondii has encysted has been identified as an important route of human exposure. However, little quantitative evaluation of risk due to different pork products as a function of microbial quality at the abattoir, during the production process, and due to consumer handling practices is available to inform risk management actions.

The goal of this study was to develop a farm-to-table quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) model to predict the public health risk associated with consumption of fresh pork in the United States.

T. gondii prevalence in pigs was derived through a meta-analysis of existing data, and the concentration of the infectious life stage (bradyzoites) was calculated for each pork cut from an infected pig. Logistic regression and log-linear regression models were developed to predict the reduction of T. gondii during further processing and consumer preparation, respectively. A mouse-derived exponential dose-response model was used to predict infection risk in humans. The estimated mean probability of infection per serving of fresh pork products ranges from 3.2 × 10−7 to 9.5 × 10−6, corresponding to a predicted approximately 94,600 new infections annually in the U.S. population due to fresh pork ingestion. Approximately 957 new infections per year were estimated to occur in pregnant women, corresponding to 277 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis per year due to fresh pork ingestion.

In the context of available data, sensitivity analysis suggested that cooking is the most important parameter impacting human health risk. This study provides a scientific basis for risk management and also could serve as a baseline model to quantify infection risk from T. gondii and other parasites associated with meat products.

Quantifying the risk of human Toxoplasma gondii infection due to consumption of fresh pork in the United States

Food Control, Volume 73, Part B, March 2017, Pages 1210–1222

Miao Guo, Elisabetta Lambertini, Robert L. Buchanan, Jitender P. Dubey, Dolores E. Hill, H. Ray Gamble, Jeffrey L. Jones, Abani K. Pradhan

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516305825

But is it (microbiologically) safe?

Mangoes are coming into season.

Australian egg producers are flogging studies saying that eggs are OK to eat every day.

duhBut are they safe?

And the pork producers have a national 6-2-2 campaign:

Discover the secret to the perfect pork steak with our new 6-2-2 campaign.

  1. Take a 2cm pork steak (sirloin, leg, scotch fillet or medallion).
  2. Pre-heat a pan, griddle pan or BBQ plate just like you would for any other steak.
  3. Cook the pork steak on one side, without turning, for 6 minutes.
  4. Turn it over once and allow it to cook for 2 more minutes. This method will cook the steak to just white but if you prefer it cooked pink, just reduce the cooking time.
  5. Remove the steak from the pan and rest for 2 minutes. Resting allows the juices to settle and produces a more tender and juicy result.
  6. Remember the simple rule for next time: 6 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other and 2 minutes to rest = the 10 minute pork steak.

(No accounting for variations in cooking devices, just use a damn thermometer and take out the guesswork.)

All at the same time as Australia’s annual food safety week began with this year’s theme , raw and risky (sounds familiar).

The NSW Food Authority is throwing its support behind the Food Safety Information Council’s Food Safety Week 2016 that commences today Sunday 6 November, urging NSW consumers not to become one of the estimated 4.1 million people affected by food poisoning each year in Australia.

Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said the theme of this year’s Australian Food Safety Week “Raw and risky” is a timely and apt reminder that some foods carry more risk than others.

“Recent years have seen major food poisoning outbreaks linked to risky raw foods such as unpasteurised cow’s milk, raw egg dishes, bean/seed sprouts, frozen berries and lettuce,” Dr Szabo said.

Risk of Hepatitis E from pigs or pork in Canada

The role and importance of pigs and pork as sources of zoonotic hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been debated in Canada and abroad for over 20 years. To further investigate this question, we compiled data to populate a risk profile for HEV in pigs or pork in Canada.

pig-barfblogWe organized the risk profile (RP) using the headings prescribed for a foodborne microbial risk assessment and used research synthesis methods and inputs wherever possible in populating the fields of this RP. A scoping review of potential public health risks of HEV, and two Canadian field surveys sampling finisher pigs, and retail pork chops and pork livers, provided inputs to inform this RP. We calculated summary estimates of prevalence using the Comprehensive Meta-analysis 3 software, employing the method of moments.

Overall, we found the incidence of sporadic locally acquired hepatitis E in Canada, compiled from peer-reviewed literature or from diagnosis at the National Microbiology Laboratory to be low relative to other non-endemic countries. In contrast, we found the prevalence of detection of HEV RNA in pigs and retail pork livers, to be comparable to that reported in the USA and Europe. We drafted risk categories (high/medium/low) for acquiring clinical hepatitis E from exposure to pigs or pork in Canada and hypothesize that the proportion of the Canadian population at high risk from either exposure is relatively small.

Risk profile of Hepatitis E virus from pigs or pork in Canada

October 2016, Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, DOI: 10.1111/tbed.12582

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308961418_Risk_Profile_of_Hepatitis_E_Virus_from_Pigs_or_Pork_in_Canada

 

Orwellian: People are sick, but CFIA plays word games with E coli O157 notice

As usual, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency buries the lede at the bottom:

george-orwell-6“There have been no illnesses definitively linked to the consumption of these products.”

Yet the recall of Cantran Meat Co. raw pork and pork organ products from the marketplace due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination was triggered by findings of CFIA, Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry during the investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak in Alberta.

Way to mention government agencies and snivel servants, way not to mention sick people.

The affected raw pork and pork organ products, supplied by Cantran Meat Co. Ltd., may have been transformed into raw muscle meat cuts, ground pork, sausages, and raw ready-to-eat products. The products, which have been sold fresh, have only been distributed in Alberta.

The affected products are known to have been sold or distributed by the companies from April 28, 2016 up to and including May 14, 2016. The products may have been sold pre-packaged or clerk-served, with or without a label. Consumers who are unsure if they have the affected products are advised to check with their retailer.

Was it the irrigation water? 206 sickened with Salmonella in central Italy

Monophasic variant of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Typhimurium (monophasic S. Typhimurium), with antigenic structure 1,4,[5],12:i:-, appears to be of increasing importance in Europe.

salm.pig.italyIn Italy, monophasic S. Typhimurium represented the third most frequent Salmonella serovar isolated from human cases between 2004 and 2008. From June 2013 to October 2014, a total of 206 human cases of salmonellosis were identified in Abruzzo region (Central Italy).

Obtained clinical isolates characterised showed S. Typhimurium 1,4,[5],12:i:- with sole resistance to nalidixic acid, which had never been observed in Italy in monophasic S. Typhimurium, neither in humans nor in animals or foods.

Epidemiological, microbiological and environmental investigations were conducted to try to identify the outbreak source. Cases were interviewed using a standardised questionnaire and microbiological tests were performed on human as well as environmental samples, including samples from fruit and vegetables, pigs, and surface water. Investigation results did not identify the final vehicle of human infection, although a link between the human cases and the contamination of irrigation water channels was suggested.

Outbreak Of Unusual Salmonella Enterica Serovar Typhimurium Monophasic Variant 1,4 [5],12:I:-, Italy, June 2013 To September 2014

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 15, 14 April 2016

F Cito, F Baldinelli, P Calistri, E Di Giannatale, G Scavia, M Orsini, S Iannetti, L Sacchini, I Mangone, L Candeloro, A Conte, C Ippoliti, D Morelli, G Migliorati, NB Barile, C Marfoglia, S Salucci, C Cammà, M Marcacci, M Ancora, AM Dionisi, S Owczartek, I Luzzi

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21439

Food safety fail: Pork 6-2-2, use a thermometer instead

Australia Pork has apparently invested hundreds of thousands in a marketing message that is high on BS and low on credibility.

According to this advert, without taking into account variations in BBQs, cooking pork is simple (I’ve decided to start referring to Chapman as Stork, in all correspondence).

Only if a tip-sensitive digital thermometer is used.

Did you spot the cross-contamination?