Food fraud: Mexican alcohol edition

To my four Canadian daughters: Pay attention.

Tourists to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico suspect they were given tainted alcohol.

Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes the scene at the swim-up bar at the Mexican resort where Abbey Conner was pulled listless from the pool in January was full of young tourists last month when an attorney hired by Conner’s family showed up.

It wasn’t surprising. It was a typical scene at an all-inclusive five-star resort where foreigners from both sides of the equator flock to escape their cold winters.

But as he watched, the attorney noticed something disturbing.

“They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,” he wrote in his native Spanish.

That single paragraph, buried near the end of a four-page report summarizing how 20-year-old Conner drowned within a couple hours of arriving at the Iberostar Hotel & Resorts’ Paraiso del Mar, offers a possible lead in the investigation into her death.

And it could shed light on the circumstances surrounding numerous reports from others who have told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they experienced sickness, blackouts and injuries after drinking at Iberostar and other resorts around Cancun and Playa del Carmen in recent months.

A Pewaukee family traveled to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen in January. Their two college kids wound up unconscious, face down in the pool within two hours. Twenty-year-old Abbey died.

They told the Journal Sentinel they believe they were drugged or the alcohol may have been tainted. They questioned how they could fall into a stupor so quickly. And whether they had been targeted.

I can’t make this shit up: Chipotle taps Wu-Tang Clan for marketing buzz

I can’t make this shit up: here’s a company with billions invested in it, and Chipotle decides to reach out to the Wu-Tang Clan.

A company that sucks bonding with a band that sucks and hoping that two negatives make a positive?

In April, 2017, Chipotle tapped hey-now Hank Kinsley and some other actors for some spots about how real Chipotle’s food was.

Guess that hasn’t gone so well.

Now, the aptly-named Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer and convicted cokehead, told Bloomberg that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., has enlisted rapper RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan to unveil a new website that spotlights Chipotle’s ingredients. The company’s so-called clean menu — free of artificial preservatives and other additives — was a major selling point before a 2015 food-safety crisis sickened hundreds of customers and sent its shares plummeting.

Yup, real hardcore reaching out to the Wu-Tang Clan.

RZA, whose real name is Robert Diggs, helped design Chipotle’s new Savor.Wavs site. The rapper created 51 snippets of music, one for each ingredient on the menu, that lets people hear a audio interpretation of their typical Chipotle order. The new site doesn’t let customers order food, but it’s meant to drive home the simplicity of the chain’s menu.

“That might be lost on some, but people who are into the music will appreciate it,” said Crumpacker.

Crumpacker touted Chipotle’s simple menu at a party in Manhattan on Tuesday that featured a performance by RZA. He noted that fast-food hamburgers can have as many as 47 ingredients.

While the company declined to say how much it spent on the RZA campaign, Chipotle indicated it was less than the $5 million that a Super Bowl ad would have cost.

Chipotle’s stock, which hit a closing high of $757.77 in August 2015, has been battered by the food-safety concerns. The shares had been up for the year until Tuesday, when reports surfaced that customers had been sickened after eating a restaurant in Virginia. That location, which was closed on Monday, was slated to be reopened on Wednesday.

The stock is now trading around $368, about half its peak.

‘It felt as if my heart had been ripped out’ 3-day-old Australian baby dies of

A mother from Queensland has shared the heartbreaking moment she was told she’d contracted Listeria and passed it to her unborn baby.

Jeanya Rush, 20, from Brisbane, was six months pregnant with her second child – a baby boy – when she started to experience ‘excruciating headaches and high fevers’.

The young mum told Katherine Davison of the Daily Mail Australia that she later discovered she had contracted Listeria – from either a pre-cut fruit salad, cream cheese or an ice-cream she had eaten – and had passed the foodborne illness on to her baby boy, who she and her partner Levi had named Zephaniah.

Doctors told her the infection had left her son ‘severely disabled’ and she and Levi faced the agonising decision whether to let him go.

‘I had tested positive for Listeria. It had infected my uterus and also reached Zephaniah’s brain,’ Ms Rush wrote in a heartrending Facebook post.

‘He [the doctor] told us that Zephaniah could not live without the machines that aid him and if he were to survive he would be severely disabled for the rest of his life. 

‘He would show no emotion or understanding he would be basically be in a comatose state. And worst of all, it was our choice whether or not to let him go. Levi and I were broken. Nothing could ever describe the pain we felt in that moment.’

Ms Rush said it was the hardest decision they had ever had to make. 

‘It took a long time to decide. As Zephaniah stayed on life support, we were by his side and it made everything that much harder,’ she wrote.

‘But we both knew what we had to do and eventually Levi and I came to a decision and it was the hardest one we have ever had to make. We chose to let Zephaniah go and relieve him of his pain and suffering.’

Ms Rush had tested positive for listeria – leading their baby to be severely disabled – and the young couple made the devastating decision to let him go.

‘The midwives and doctors arranged everything. We had our loved ones come in to say good bye to our boy, Zephaniah was blessed by the Elders of Levi’s church, and it was one very long emotional day preparing to send our boy off,’ Ms Rush wrote.

‘When the time came, Levi and I were taken to a private room with Zephaniah, accompanied by 2 lovely midwives. 

‘They took out his breathing tubes and we held Zephaniah for approximately an hour until his final breath. 

‘When he turned cold in my arms it felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. 

‘We held him for a little while longer before the midwives took him away. We returned to our room and sat in silence. I will never forget the pure pain of that moment.’

Use a fucking thermometer: Ireland says eating undercooked burgers ‘like driving without a seatbelt’

Diners who enjoy a juicy burger have been warned that eating them pink in the middle is “like driving without wearing a seatbelt”.

Fiachradh McDermott of The Irish Times reports that safefood began its new campaign, “Burger Fever”, on Thursday to inform people that eating undercooked burgers could lead to serious or sometimes life-threatening food poisoning.

What she didn’t report is that color is a terrible indicator of safety, and that needle-or-blade-tenderized steaks carry the same risk as mince, so this science-based agency is publishing fairy tales.

But I’ll let the bureaucrats speak for themselves and you judge.

The body advised people to always ask for burgers to be well-cooked in restaurants.

In an online survey conducted by safefood, 96 per cent of people considered themselves well-informed about food safety. However, 51 per cent admitted to eating undercooked burgers.

Two thirds of respondents said they would reconsider their choice if they knew there was a possibility of food poisoning.

Undercooked burgers carry the risk of E. coli, which can have long-term effects. The biggest worry is a type called VTEC, which causes severe diarrhoea.

Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at safefood, said it can result in “frequent serious complications.” VTEC can affect the blood and kidneys, and is most serious in older people and children under five. However, it only takes as little as ten E. coli cells to make a person sick, she said.

Dr Gordon said the campaign is intended as a preventative measure, but “emphasising the difference between a burger and a steak” is an important aspect.

According to Dr Gary Kearney, director of food science at safefood, “Mince used in hamburgers is a higher risk as the food poisoning bacteria that live on the surface of the beef (steak) is then mixed through the middle of the burger when the beef is minced – so in effect, the outside is now on the inside.”

Dr Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), emphasised the possibility and danger of contracting VTEC from undercooked meat.

“Eating burgers that are pink in the middle is a bit like driving without a seatbelt; you might get away with it for years but if something goes wrong and you are harmed, will you still think it was worth it?”

No mention of thermometer, cooking temps and hold times, just plain pandering.

Use a fucking thermometer and stick it in.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

E. Thomas, E,M,, Binder, A., McLaughlin, A., Jaykus, L., Hanson, D, Powell, D.A., Chapman, B. 2016.

Journal of Food Protection Vol. 79, No. 12, pp. 2113-2118

http://www.jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065?code=fopr-site

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef.

The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses.

The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

E. coli O157 is always tragic, but probably not because of the last thing you ate

McDonald’s is a big, semi-popular fast-food chain in the way Semi-Tough (the movie) depicted American professional football as big and semi-popular.

When Shiga-toxin producing E.coli were discovered in 1977 (named verotoxigenic E. coli) and then the first outbreaks were linked to human illness in 1982 at McDonald’s in White City, Ore., and Traverse City, Mich., McDonald’s completely revamped its beef sourcing and cooking procedures.

Over the past three decades, I’ve heard everyone blame McDonald’s for everything, especially on food safety, and especially what used to be known as hamburger disease.

South Korean lawyers are apparently catching up to where North Americans were 25 years ago, but perpetuate semi-stereotypes.

According to The Korea Herald, a mother on Wednesday filed a complaint against McDonalds Korea, claiming her daughter was diagnosed with the “hamburger disease” after eating a burger with an undercooked patty in one of its outlets.

“The 4-year-old victim had no health problems, but caught hemolytic uremic syndrome after eating a McDonald’s hamburger,” lawyer Hwang Da-yeon said at a press conference held in front of the Seoul District Prosecutors Office, before submitting the complaint. 

HUS is serious shit.

McDonald’s has known about it for a long time.

The complaint claims McDonald’s violated local food safety rules by serving contaminated meat that was not fully cooked.

The plaintiff also made a tearful plea, asking state prosecutors to investigate and hold McDonald’s Korea responsible for her daughter, who has suffered irreversible damage to her kidneys and must undergo eight to 10 hours of peritoneal dialysis on a daily basis.

According to the mother, the child ate a hamburger at a McDonald’s outlet in Gyeonggi Province in September and fell ill about three hours afterwards.

HUS is always tragic, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

She was brought to an intensive care unit three days later, where she was diagnosed with HUS, a food-borne disease that can cause acute kidney failure. The child was discharged from the hospital two months later, but had lost 90 percent of her kidney function.

The McDonald’s outlet denied any link between its product and the child’s illness, saying the meat is machined-cooked, eliminating human error.

I’m not sure who’s right, but Shiga-toxin producing E. coli – the kind that lead to HUS – take 2-4 days to develop – not 3 hours.

As Kate Murphy of The New York Times explained last week, when you’re fine one minute and barfing the next – what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an acute gastrointestinal event — happens to all of us at least once a year. The bouts, while extremely unpleasant, usually don’t occasion a trip to the doctor or require any medication.

But such events tend to make us spin our gears trying to pinpoint what made us so miserably sick. While it’s hard to know for sure, there are clues that might help you determine the source and reduce your risk in the future.

“People tend to blame the last thing they ate, but it’s probably the thing before the last thing they ate,” said Dr. Deborah Fisher, a gastroenterologist and associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine.

It takes the stomach around four to six hours to empty a full meal, and then the small intestine takes about six to eight hours to squeeze out all the nutrients and empty into the colon. The remains linger there for another one to three days, fermenting and being formed into what ultimately is flushed down the toilet. So-called bowel transit time varies significantly from person to person, but gastroenterologists said you can easily find out what’s normal for you by eating corn and watching for when the indigestible kernels appear in your stool.

Gross, perhaps, but with that baseline, the next time you get sick, you’ll be better able to estimate when you might have eaten the offending meal. For example, if you throw up something and don’t have diarrhea or roiling further down, it could be that what made you ill was something you ate within the last four to six hours. If you wake up in the middle of the night with cramps and diarrhea, it’s more likely something you consumed a good 18 to 48 hours earlier, depending on the results of your corn test.

We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way home from the Glass Mountains yesterday. Quality was semi-OK, but safety was there.

(No McDonald’s money was involved in this blog post; there was no money at all; I just like to write).

31 sickened by E. coli O55 in Dorset: 3 years later, health-types’ report remains a secret

In Dec. 2014, an outbreak of E. coli O55 was identified in Dorset, U.K. with at least 31 sickened. Public Health England (PHE) and local environmental health officials investigated and found nothing, other than cats were also being affected.

Tara Russell of Bournemouth Echo reports again this week that a review into the outbreak in Dorset was carried out, health chiefs have insisted – but the report is not available to the public.

Public Health England (PHE) says the public can only request to see the report detailing exactly what happened when 31 people contracted the O55 strain between July 2014 and November 2015 through a Freedom of Information request.

Families including some whose children have been left with lifelong health complications say they did not know the review existed and have branded it ‘disappointing and disgusting’ they have been kept in the dark.

The Daily Echo has lodged an official FOI request on behalf of the affected families and will receive a response in July.

Nurse Jessica Archer, who today suffers crippling head pains, fatigue and depression while her nephew Isaac Mortlock (right) endures severe seizures, must be peg fed every night and will need a kidney transplant as a result of the outbreak, said: “Without the Daily Echo we wouldn’t even know this report even existed and we are very interested to see it and we have the right to know. The families affected have so many unanswered questions and have to live with the effects of this outbreak forever but yet again we feel Public Health England are trying to sweep it under the carpet and hope that it will just go away.

“It is disappointing and disgusting this report has not already been made public let alone having to wait and wait still. We feel there have been a series of failures and this is the latest.”

The news comes after Jessica last month called for PHE to be held to account telling how her and her five-year-old nephew’s Isaac Mortlock’s lives have changed irreversibly, and accused the organisation of ‘a cover up.’

In response, PHE told the Daily Echo it carries out ‘routine outbreak reviews once investigations have ended’, adding it is ‘a learning organisation and reflects on outbreaks to identify lessons learnt and to continually improve our response.’

However at the time, the organisation refused to tell the Daily Echo exactly which lessons were learned.

It was only following a further request from this newspaper, PHE said a report was compiled however it has not been available to the public.

A spokesman said: “This report was not intended for external publication – it’s not standard procedure to publish outbreak reports externally due to patient confidentiality – however if interested parties would like to request a copy they can do this via our Freedom of Information portal.”

That’s bullshit.

Outbreak investigations are routinely published while ensuring patient confidentiality.

Families say it is the latest in a string of ‘failures’ by Public Health England.

A spokesman from PHE added: “As with all outbreaks, PHE Health Protection Team ensured throughout their investigation that those affected were kept informed of any information that was uncovered at that time.”

That’s also bullshit.

And why UK health types feature prominently in our paper on when to go public for the benefit of public health.

Three years seems a bit long.

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public.

Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions.

Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

barfblog.com on Brisbane TV (maybe)

I used to talk about food safety on TV.

Now I talk about real estate.

This is supposed to be on Channel 9 tonight at 6 p.m., about how Annerley, a suburb of Brisbane, is one of the top-5 places to buy.

I know a lot more about food safety.

We love our neighborhood, with its diversity, and great view, so it was as easy gig.

My stand-by soundbite is: When we moved here six-years ago, my wife picked the suburb – a 12-minute bike ride to the University of Queensland, and a 12-minute drive to the (ice) arena at Acacia Ridge.

Who knows if it’ll make the cut.

Yes, I know I’m fat. Working on that.

 

Going public: about E. coli O121 in Rogers Flour: Why a 17-day difference between feds and province?

In April 2017, health-types in Canada said E.coli O121 had sickened 26 people that was linked to Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original.

On May 26, 2017, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Ardent Mills is recalling various brands of flour and flour products due to possible E. coli O121 contamination.

On May 21, 2017 the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) alerted British Columbians after six people in B.C. were infected with the same strain of E. coli O121 between February and April, 2017.

Now, CFIA has gotten in on the act – 17 days after BCCDC –announcing on June 7, 2017 that Rogers Foods Ltd. is recalling Rogers brand All Purpose flour from the marketplace due to possible E. coli O121 contamination.

The following product has been sold from Costco warehouse locations in British Columbia.

Brand Name: Rogers, Common Name: All Purpose Flour, Size: 10 kg, Code(s) on Product: MFD 17 JAN 19 C, UPC: 0 60179 10231 8

This recall was triggered by findings by the CFIA during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products.

There have been reported illnesses that may be associated with the consumption of this product. Further lab testing is underway to confirm the link.

Brisbane’s idea of a water warning

Fucking hopeless at communication.

Walkerton Water Tower

The Courier Mail reports that residents north of Brisbane (we’re southsiders) are being advised to boil all their tap water before drinking it following fears the water supply has been compromised.

Unitywater says the advise applies to 3,500 residents in Petrie and Old Petrie Town.

In a statement, Unitywater said residents should boil water for the next 24 hours, or until the water quality has returned to normal.

Residents have been advised to use cool boiled water or bottled water when brushing their teeth, drinking, washing and preparing food beverages, making ice, bathing infants or preparing baby formula.

“This is a rare event and Unitywater is working closely with Queensland Health to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

Unitywater is currently flushing the mains in the area and supplying water from an alternative reservoir.

“We are also taking regular samples to monitor the water quality.”

Writers write

Sorenne is 8-years-old,

She helped me prepare dinner tonight, in a sous chef role.

My eldest daughter turned 30-years-old today.

She’s got a 4-year-old and is doing great.

This pic of Sorenne, the bald baby, was taken when she was about 5-months-old in Kansas, when Katie the grad student was  about to go do her MS research in New Zealand, lived with us.

I still miss her.

  Sorenne read me four different stories tonight that she is working on in her notebook.

Earlier today I was talking to someone about the value of throwing stuff out for public consumption, no matter how terrifying.

So maybe I’m slowly learning.

However Katie and Amy have both perfected the what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you-Doug look.