Eggs are going to have Salmonella in ways we can’t predict, because we are mere mortals: Brits say, we know better

On the same day that Australia celebrated national egg day with vid-clips of schoolchildren pronouncing their love of eggs, the UK Food Standards Authority says it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

These are both so wrong on so many levels.

The UK’s contribution to international cuisine has been mushy peas and mad cow disease.

The UK Food Standards Authority’s contribution to food policy has been cook your food until it is piping hot, and now, it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

With five daughters, I’ve spent a lot of time around pregnant women, they may feel like Rocky Balboa, but biology don’t work that way.

The Food Standards Agency has announced a change to its advice about eating eggs – infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The revised advice, based on the latest scientific evidence, means that people vulnerable to infection or who are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning (such as infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people) can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or foods containing them.

We had previously advised that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs, because eggs may contain salmonella bacteria which can cause serious illness.  

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in February 2015 to look at egg safety. Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted that the presence of salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years, and the risks are very low for eggs which have been produced according to food safety controls applied by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It’s good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hardboil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark. The FSA has thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, and we’re confident that we can now change our advice to consumers.

“The major reduction in the risk of salmonella in Lion eggs is testament to the work carried out by egg producers. The measures they’ve taken, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced salmonella levels in UK hens.”

A range of interventions have been put in place across the food chain as part of the Lion scheme including: vaccinating hens, enhanced testing for salmonella, improved farm hygiene, effective rodent control, independent auditing and traceability, and keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop.

Great. Show us mere mortals the numbers.

And any science-based body that recommends cooking food until it is piping hot is seriously suspect.

Egg farmer David Brass says the introduction of the British Lion standard has made all the difference.

“We know from back in the ’80s when all the scare started, there was an issue with eggs.

“But what the Lion standard does, it is a fully independent, audited code of practice to make sure we have standards on the farm that make sure we can’t have any of those disease problems again.

“And it has shown time after time, in those intervening years, that it is just a brilliant food safety code.”

Yup, audits make the difference (not).

This won’t end well.

In Australia, the morning shows were filled with fluff about the greatness of eggs, with no mention of the following outbreaks involving raw eggs or raw-egg sauces.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

71 sick in Ukraine from Salmonella in smoked fish

As first reported in English by the always excellent ProMed and translated from IA Komsomolskaya Pravda, Donetsk, fish in L’viv, Ukraine poisoned more than 70 people, the most massive poisoning in the last 10 years.

This was reported by the press service of the Department of Civil Protection of the L’viv Regional State Administration on its Facebook page. “As of 6:00 on 2 Oct 2017, a total of 71 people were affected by the outbreak of infection, including 7 children,” the ministry said. In addition, there are 6 people in outpatient care, including 1 child, who have consulted a doctor, but refused to be hospitalized.
After conducting laboratory tests, all patients were diagnosed with salmonellosis. The condition of one patient is severe, the rest are in the hospital, in close to satisfactory condition.

(A ProMed editor writes: Although salmonellosis is not generally considered high on the list of fish-borne illnesses, it certainly does occur, as reflected in this recent review:
Barrett KA, Nakao JH, Taylor EV, et al. Fish-associated foodborne disease outbreaks: United States, 1998-2015. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2017; 14(9): 537-43.)

What was the suspect food? Salmonella found in food from Chincoteague Chili and Chowder Cook-off in Virginia

The 18th annual Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s Chili and Chowder Cook Off, held Sat. Sept. 30, sickened dozens of the approximately 2,000 attendees.

Reports started to trickle in about people becoming seriously ill. Enough people fell ill to prompt an investigation from the state Department of Health. Dozens sounded off on social media about gastrointestinal problems.

On Monday, the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (state laboratory) in Richmond apparently identified Salmonella in specimens that they received which were associated with the event. The investigation is still ongoing in regard to what food or food items may have caused the outbreak.

According to health department officials, they are continuing to try to reach more than 2,000 attendees from multiple states in order to get them to submit information to the online outbreak survey and see their primary care provider if the are still ill.

Attendees, whether ill or well, are asked to complete the online survey related to this incident. To take the survey, click here.

100 schoolchildren sick with Salmonella in Japan

The Tokyo Reporter says nearly 100 children at 4 kindergartens in Okazaki City fell ill after eating boxed meals tainted with Salmonella, prepared by a company with a history of providing tainted meals.

A total of 87 kindergartners, aged 3 to 6, reported symptoms like fever and vomiting after consuming the tainted bento meals between 21 and 28 Sep 2017, according to officials of Okazaki, reports TBS News on 29 Sep 2017. Salmonella was detected in many of the affected children, 10 of whom were hospitalized, but none are in life-threatening condition, authorities said.

The tainted bento meals were provided to the kindergartens in the cities of Nagoya, Gamagori, and Nisshin by Tokiwa Shyokuhin foods in Okazaki, city officials said. Officials of Okazaki said Tokiwa Shyokuhin was suspended from business operations amid fears there could be more victims. The food company was also responsible for producing meals that left 71 people with food poisoning in April 2016, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

13 sick: Another Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen raw chicken thingies

Public health officials in four Canadian provinces are investigating a salmonella outbreak linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Thirteen cases have been reported, including seven in Ontario, two in Quebec, two in New Brunswick and two in Nova Scotia.

All incidents occurred between June and August and four people required hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported. 

Nice timely reporting.

A news release issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada outbreak does not link the outbreak to a particular brand.

The agency said the outbreak is a reminder that frozen raw breaded poultry products such as nuggets, strips and burgers should be handled the same as other raw poultry products.

“Follow cooking instructions carefully and verify the internal cooking temperature after cooking, as recommended, before consuming these products,” the agency said.

An internal temperature of at least 74 C (165°F) should be reached before eating such products.

The agency said frozen raw breaded chicken products may look pre-cooked, but they contain raw poultry and must be cooked correctly.

Been there, done that.

As we found back in 2007, when preparing frozen foods, adolescents are less likely than adults to wash their hands and are more susceptible to cross-contaminating raw foods while cooking.

“While half of the adults we observed washed their hands after touching raw chicken, none of the adolescents did,” said Casey Jacob, a food safety research assistant at Kansaas State. “The non-existent hand washing rate, combined with certain age-specific behaviors like hair flipping and scratching in a variety of areas, could lead directly to instances of cross-contamination compared to the adults.”

Food safety isn’t simple, and instructions for safe handling of frozen chicken entrees or strips are rarely followed by consumers despite their best intentions, said Doug Powell, K-State associate professor of food safety who led the study.

As the number and type of convenience meal solutions increases — check out the frozen food section of a local supermarket — the researchers found a need to understand how both adults and adolescents are preparing these products and what can be done to enhance the safety of frozen foods.

In 2007, K-State researchers developed a novel video capture system to observe the food preparation practices of 41 consumers – 21 primary meal preparers and 20 adolescents – in a mock domestic kitchen using frozen, uncooked, commercially available breaded chicken products. The researchers wanted to determine actual food handling behavior of these two groups in relation to safe food handling practices and instructions provided on product labels. Self-report surveys were used to determine whether differences exist between consumers’ reported food handling practices and observed behavior.

The research appeared in the November 2009 issue of the British Food Journal. In addition to Jacob and Powell, the authors were: Sarah DeDonder, K-State doctoral student in pathobiology; Brae Surgeoner, Powell’s former graduate student; Benjamin Chapman, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University and Powell’s former graduate student; and Randall Phebus, K-State professor of animal science and industry.

Beyond the discrepancy between adult and adolescent food safety practices, the researchers also found that even when provided with instructions, food preparers don’t follow them. They may not have even seen them or they assume they know what to do.

“Our results suggest that while labels might contain correct risk-reduction steps, food manufacturers have to make that information as compelling as possible or it will be ignored,” Chapman said.

They also found that observational research using discreet video recording is far more accurate than self-reported surveys. For example, while almost all of the primary meal preparers reported washing hands after every instance in which they touched raw poultry, only half were observed washing hands correctly after handling chicken products in the study.

Powell said that future work will examine the effectiveness of different food safety labels, messages and delivery mechanisms on consumer behavior in their home kitchens.

 Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820

Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.

Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.

Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Maybe not so slightly pink: Properly cooked pork chops may contain threat of Listeria and Salmonella for consumers

If you are eating leftover pork chops that have not been cooked well-done, you’re putting yourself at risk for Salmonella and Listeria exposure. While many individuals prefer to consume their pork medium, a new study published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal revealed that cooking pork chops to an acceptable temperature does not completely eliminate pathogens, providing these cells with the opportunity to multiply during storage and harm consumers.  

The study, “Impact of cooking procedures and storage practices at home on consumer exposure to Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella due to the consumption of pork meat,” found that only pork loin chops cooked well-done in a static oven (the researchers also tested cooking on a gas stove top) completely eliminated the Listeria and Salmonella pathogens. Other levels of cooking, i.e. rare and medium, while satisfying the requirements of the product temperature being greater than or equal to 73.6 degrees Celsius and decreasing the pathogen levels, did leave behind a few surviving cells which were then given the opportunity to multiply during food storage before being consumed.  

It is generally believed that when meat is heat treated to 70 degrees Celsius for two minutes, a one million cell reduction of E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria is achieved and thus the meat is free of pathogens and safe to eat. However, a report by the European Food Safety Authority revealed that more than 57 percent of Salmonella outbreaks in 2014 were in the household/kitchen, and 13 percent were associated with inadequate heat treatment. 

“The results of this study can be combined with dose response models and included in guidelines for consumers on practices to be followed to manage cooking of pork meat at home,” says Alessandra De Cesare, PhD, lead author and professor at the University of Bologna.  

In order to assess the pathogen levels in cooked pork, the researchers, from the University of Bologna, the Institute of Food Engineering for Development and the Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie, tested 160 packs of loin chop. The samples were experimentally contaminated with 10 million cells of L. monocytogenes and Salmonella to assess the reduction in pathogens after cooking, in accordance with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) specifications (ensuring a reduction of at least 100,000 and 1,000,000 cells, respectively). The samples were contaminated on the surface, to mimic contamination via slaughter and cutting.  

The samples were divided into groups to be cooked either on gas with a non-stick pan or in a static oven. In each setting, the pork chops were cooked to rare, medium, and well-done. For each cooking combination, 40 repetitions were performed for a total of 240 cooking tests.  

The researchers also interviewed 40 individuals between the ages of 20 and 60 to determine household consumer habits regarding doneness preferences. Prior published research was referenced to define meat storage practices and the probability that consumers store their leftovers at room temperature, in the refrigerator or discard them immediately. Growth rate data for the pathogens at each temperature were obtained using the software tool ComBase.  

The only cooking treatment able to completely inactivate the pathogens was oven well-done, which achieved a reduction between one and 10 million cells. Statistical analyses of the data showed significant differences related to level of cooking and cooking procedure. However, the researchers explained that factors such as moisture, water activity, fat levels, salts, carbohydrates, pH, and proteins can impact the cooking treatment and effectiveness and, as a consequence, on bacteria survival. These results emphasize the needs to consider the form of pork (such as whole muscle versus ground) being cooked, in addition to the final temperature necessary to inactivate pathogens.  

The results show that a reduction between one and 10 million of pathogen cells was reached when applying all of the tested cooking treatments, with product temperatures always reaching 73.6 degrees Celsius or greater. However, according to the simulation results using the obtained cell growth rates, the few surviving cells can multiply during storage in both the refrigerator and at room temperature, reaching concentrations dangerous for both vulnerable and regular consumers.  

After storing leftovers, there was a probability for the concentration of pathogens to reach 10 cells ranging between 0.031 and 0.059 for all combinations except oven well-done. Overall, the mean level of exposure to Listeria and Salmonella at the time of consumption was one cell for each gram of meat. The results obtained from this study can be implemented in guidelines for consumers on practices to follow in order to manage cooking pork meat at home.  

 

Raw is risky: 7 sick from NZ mussels

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board is investigating four confirmed cases of Paratyphoid fever and is following up three suspect cases.

All four confirmed cases have required hospital care at Hawke’s Bay Hospital. At least two of the cases ate mussels gathered from Napier’s Ahuriri area. The district health board is also concerned that mussels from the same area, may have been eaten at a Tangi at the Tangoio Marae 11 days ago, and is following that up.

Medical Officer of Health Nick Jones said, “People with Paratyphoid can carry the (Salmonella Enterica) bacteria in their blood and in their stomach and gut so it is possible for it to be passed on through feces. Hand washing was extremely important to help prevent infecting other people as you can get paratyphoid if you eat or drink things that have been handled by a person who has the bacteria.”

 

Norway: 7 infected with rare Salmonella

Ida Louise Rostad of NRK Finnmark reports seven people in Norway have been stricken with a rare form of Salmonella.

The samples of the patients were taken at the end of August, and all are thought to be infected in Norway. Bacteria with similar DNA profiles have been detected in all seven people, says senior adviser Heidi Lange at the Public Health Institute in a press release.

The people who are infected are between 19 and 60 years old. Two people live in Finnmark, but also people from Møre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Akershus and Oslo are infected.

The DNA profile of the bacterium has never been seen before in Norway, either in humans, animals or in foods.

“There are no symptoms beyond what we usually see, such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. So it does not look like this is more serious,” says Director of the Department of Public Health Institute, Line Violence to NRK.

“Now we are working on common routines for outbreaks. We have a little work to do to get out and we know this is work that can take time, “she says.

Now the institute cooperates with the municipal health service, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Veterinary Institute to investigate whether patients can have a common source of infection.

The bacterium is a rare variant of the bacterium Salmonella Typhimurium.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health does not want to provide information on whether patients are in hospital or have been with the GP to detect infection.

Chlorine works: Reducing Salmonella outbreaks in mangoes

The new crop of Australian mangoes is starting to arrive in spring-like Brisbane (because it’s more like summer with temps expected to hit 40 C this weekend), and they are delicious.

A team in one University of Connecticut lab recently processed 4,000 mangoes and water samples to test the efficacy of three disinfectants commonly used by the industry to avoid contamination.

To the utter surprise of researcher Mary Anne Amalaradjou, they found an unlikely candidate was extremely effective: chlorine. “When I saw the results, I didn’t believe it. So we re-ran the test ten times,” says the assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science.

Amalaradjou will present her findings at a meeting of the National Mango Board.

Salmonella is a frequent culprit for outbreaks in mangoes because it makes its way into the water used to wash the fruit in processing plants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Salmonella leads to approximately 1.2 million cases of Salmonellosis each year in the United States and around 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths.

“We had several outbreaks of people getting sick. The worrying part was the illnesses were not from cut mangoes, these were from mangoes they bought whole,” says Amalaradjou, whose work focuses on food safety and in finding new approaches to control or prevent foodborne illnesses.

In mango processing plants, the wash water is housed in gigantic tanks and once the water is contaminated, the bacteria are able to attach to the fruit’s skin and then enter the fruit’s pulp. Once bacteria make their way into the fruit, no amount of washing can remove them. With so many mangoes washed at once, the number of contaminated mangoes can be numerous, potentially causing many cases of Salmonellosis.

mango tropical fruit with male hand picking fruit from tree

Recognizing the danger, the Center for Produce Safety and the National Mango Board funded Amalaradjou’s study.  After taking on the project, Amalaradjou traveled to a mango processing plant to see the source of the contamination, the big wash water tanks, for herself in order to learn the processes so she could adapt them to a smaller-scale laboratory set up.

Amalaradjou was surprised by the results because chlorine is not very effective in the wash step for most produce. For one reason or another, from lettuce, to tomatoes to apples, chlorine simply doesn’t reliably kill Salmonella.

With mangoes, Amalaradjou found, chlorine cleaned the wash water and also helped prevent cross-contamination by cleaning the mangoes themselves.

One of the other challenges the research group had to tackle was not only effective Salmonella killing, but doing so with affordable and easily implementable measures on a large scale. Because chlorine is already used in the wash water, all that the processing plants need to do is to monitor the levels frequently to keep it at an effective concentration.

1 dead, over 200 sick: Salmonella Anatum infections linked to imported maradol papayas

This outbreak is one of four separate outbreaks currently under investigation that are linked to imported Maradol papayas from Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Anatum infections.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE.

This past spring, CDC investigated a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Anatum infections. Fourteen people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Anatum were reported from three states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page. WGS showed that isolates from people infected with Salmonella Anatum were closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship meant that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 20, 2016, to April 8, 2017. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 85, with a median age of 38. Ninety-two percent were female. Among 11 people with available information, 10 (91%) were of Hispanic ethnicity. Among those 11 people, 5 (45%) were hospitalized. One death was reported from California.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Seven (88%) of eight people interviewed reported eating papayas. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy Hispanic people in which 22% reported eating papayas in the week before they were interviewed. In addition, four of these seven people reported buying papayas from the same grocery store chain.

While the epidemiologic information indicated that papayas were the likely source of this outbreak at the time, investigators could not determine the specific source of contaminated papayas and the outbreak investigation ended after illnesses stopped.

FDA informed CDC that a sample from an imported papaya identified Salmonella Anatum on September 4, 2017. This sample came from a papaya from a grower in Mexico named Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya  de Tecomán y Costa Alegre in Tijuana, Mexico. WGS showed that the isolate from the papaya and the isolates from the 14 people infected with Salmonella Anatum this past spring were closely related. Bravo Produce Inc. was a supplier of Maradol papayas to the grocery store chain where four of seven ill people reported buying papayas. After receiving FDA’s recent Salmonella isolate from papayas, CDC reviewed the PulseNet database to look for matching DNA fingerprints in bacteria from people who got sick after the investigation closed in the spring of 2017. Six more ill people have been identified and CDC is investigating to determine if these more recent illnesses are also linked to Maradol papayas imported by Bravo Produce Inc.

On September 10, 2017, Bravo Produce Inc. recalled Maradol papayas packed by Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de RL de CV. The grower of the recalled Maradol papayas is Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecoman y Costa Alegre in Tijuana, Mexico. The papayas were distributed to California from August 10 to August 29, 2017. The recalled papayas can be identified by the label on the fruit from the packing company, Frutas Selectas de Tijuana.

This investigation is ongoing. CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill people and to interview them. FDA continues testing papayas from Mexico to see if other papayas from other farms are contaminated with Salmonella. Investigations are ongoing to determine if additional consumer warnings are needed beyond the advice not to eat papayas from specific importers or farms. Updates will be provided when more information is available.