Tough mudders and cyclists, beware the agri-land: Outbreaks amongst participants in Norway, Scotland

NRK reports that some 50 of 300 participants became sick with Campylobacter in a cycling event in Norway.

Competitors at the start of the 2015 Tough Mudder Scotland at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

Earlier, several people were stricken by E. coli O157 in a tough mudder event which was held at Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland on June 17 and 18.

These outbreaks follow previous, numerous outbreaks involved with playing in mud.

In Norway, the reason why the cyclists have become so bad is because animal wreckage resolved after a heavy rainfall and remained in the road. This has again sprung up on the cyclists.

“Especially if the stool is fresh and there are large amounts of water, it can sprinkle on drinking bottles and hands so you get it when you drink,” said Tor Halvor Bjørnstad-Tuveng, to NRK (something may be lost in translation).

“We have been in dialogue with the management of the race, and we have some concrete measures that we will look at. We have been very unlucky with the rides of the year, but we must definitely look at what we can do to prevent it happening again, “says Bjørnstad-Tuveng.

Per Stubban was one of those who had to go to the hospital for intravenous nutrition.

“Now I’m on my way, but there have been some tough days. Next time I will not use a handheld drink bottle, but a drinking bag, and if there is as much rain as it was now, I would probably be skeptical to start, “he said.

Participants in an endurance event at a Scottish castle have been warned to look out for symptoms of E. coli O157 after it was identified among those who took part.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said “a small number of cases” of the bacteria have been found in those involved in the Tough Mudder event at Drumlanrig Castle last month.

It has advised anyone associated with the event who experiences symptoms to seek medical advice.

A spokesman for the health board said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway can confirm that we are aware of a small number of cases of E.coli O157 across Scotland that appear to be associated with participation in the Tough Mudder event which was held at Drumlanrig Castle on June 17 and 18.

“Any activity undertaken on agricultural land inevitably involves a small risk of gastrointestinal infection.”

A spokesman for the event said: “The safety of Tough Mudder participants, spectators, volunteers and staff is our number one priority.

Uh-huh.

Vaccines work: 18 sick with hep A linked to award-winning bakery in Scotland

Malcolm Gladwell — a poor imitator of Lyle Lovett hair — cites research in his 2008 book, Outliers, that says the difference between good and great is about 10,000 hours of practice.

That’s what it takes to adjust the brain wiring: from pianist to poet, Beatle to Stone, haberdasher to hockey player, from good to great.

I’m not going to take up the academic and practical concerns with this simplification that gets used as mantra.

Biology is always messier.

Hockey camp at the beach over the weekend with 36 kids was great for the exercise, the repetition, and the bonding that lasts a lifetime.

So I’m always baffled when some restaurant owner who has devoted his lifetime – their 10,000 hours, to their craft — can lose it all in a microbiological minute.

Again, biology is messy.

Rachel Macpherson of The Sun reports that JB Christie has closed its Airdrie bakery in North Lanarkshire and ordered the immediate withdrawal of products after being linked to multiple cases of the potentially deadly virus.

NHS Lanarkshire announced nine patients had been treated with a further nine suspected cases of the bug.

Initial probes by health chiefs said the infection was possibly linked to the bakery, but a probe, including staff blood tests, failed to turn up any sign of the virus.

Jody Harrison of The Herald reports Andrew Chisholm, owner of JB Christie Baker’s, now intends to re-open both shops, saying that he viewed it as his “civic duty” to shut as soon as the link was made.

He said: “As a business, we have fully and voluntarily co-operated with Lanarkshire NHS and Environmental Health Officers during this process.

“As of this morning all staff at the bakery have been blood tested and have been found to be clear of the infection. Also as a precaution all have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A.

The baker said: “I have made my career in this industry and I bought the JB Christie business just over four years ago and I am proud to have done so.

Good on Chisholm for taking so-called swift action (but ‘major electrical issue,’ sorta douchebagish). Epidemiology works, so tests afterwards don’t mean much.

Neither do vaccinations.

If an owner devoted 10,000 hours to his craft to be award winning, vaccinating all employees against Hepatitis A should have been done before, not after a health risk emerged – real or not.

20 years on, Scotland E. coli tragedy saw heart ripped from town

In November 1996, over 400 fell ill and 21 were killed in Scotland by E. coli O157:H7 found in deli meats produced by family butchers John Barr & Son. The Butcher of Scotland, who had been in business for 28 years and was previously awarded the title of Scottish Butcher of the Year, was using the same knives to handle raw and cooked meat.

e-coli-scotland-1996-1A memo at the time, unearthed by The Herald shows what many suspected: that the interests of the food and agriculture industries were given higher priority than public health.

Then Scottish Office health minister, James Douglas-Hamilton, wrote on Dec. 5, 1996 to Sir Russell Hillhouse, the under-secretary of state at the Scottish Office that, “The key issue to be addressed is that when there is an outbreak of infectious disease whether the public health interest should over-ride the food industry and agricultural interests. I believe the public health interest should be paramount, but it was not seen to do so in this case.”

The aptly named agriculture minister, Douglas Hogg, argued E. coli was a “Scottish issue” and that licensing should only be in Scotland.

A memo to Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth, on March 19, 1997, noted: “The Cabinet Office and No 10 were not impressed by Mr Hogg’s idea.”

Ross Thompson of the Daily Record reports that 20 years later, a Wishaw Old Parish Church member believes the heart was ripped from the congregation in the wake of the crippling E. coli tragedy.

Wishaw Old Parish Church session clerk Tom Donaldson was served the same meal as 10 others who lost their lives from the killer bug when infected meat, from John Barr’s Butchers, was served at an annual church lunch.

This week marks 20 years since the outbreak claimed its first victim, 80-year-old Harry Shaw.

Over the next few weeks, 20 others died and hundreds more were infected in what is still the world’s worst E. coli outbreak.

This week, Tom reflected on the horrific events two decades on.

He said: “Many of our members and office-bearers still carry the sad memories of that time.

e-coli-scotland-barr“The heart was torn from the church by the loss of so many members.

“We lost eight members, including three valued elders.

“We held the same meal for over 10 years. For a lot of the people going, it was a chance to get out of the house and see people they hadn’t seen for a while.

“I had the same meal as everyone else but, thankfully, I didn’t have any symptoms. When we heard that people were unwell and then that people had died we couldn’t believe it.

“It was really heart-breaking.”

Over the next few weeks, the world’s media converged on Wishaw to cover the ongoing tragedy.

One man who carried the burden more than most was church minister Rev James Davidson.

Indeed, after burying three of his congregation, Rev Davidson admitted it had been the worst week of his life.

Tom added: “The minister carried the heavy burden as pastor; not only by conducting so many funerals in such a short period but also having to continue to minister to the congregation Sunday by Sunday.

“In one week he had to carry out three funerals. He was heart-broken.

“He really needed more help than he got because not only was he doing those funerals but he was also going to the hospital to visit the sick as well.

“The local media, like the Wishaw Press, and the guys who worked for the Scottish television channels were very respectful. But there was the other side where others would confront the minister and other office- bearers, at their homes and at the church for a comment.

“For quite a few years we had to deal with being ‘that E. coli church’ and people still remember that.”

 

US haggis ban set to be lifted (again) allowing ex-pats to celebrate Burns night in traditional way

Colan Lamont of the Daily Record reports Scots in the US could be eating haggis on Burns Night for the first time in 45 years as a ban on the traditional fayre looks likely to be lifted.

haggis-nov-16The traditional recipe has been outlawed there since sheep lungs became a banned food  in 1971.

But haggis made here could again adorn American dinner tables as the Scottish Government say a ban on Scots lamb could be overturned in the first half of 2017.

Producers of haggis and Scots farmers say they are ready to cater to the estimated 5.3 million Scots-Americans living in the US.

Scots have been fighting to ­overturn the ban since the days of President Nixon, when the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ruled livestock lung could not be consumed by humans.

The campaign was dealt a further blow in 1997 when the US Government banned all imports of British lamb because of mad cow disease.

George Milne, regional ­development officer for the National Sheep Association, was part of a Scottish delegation that travelled to the US last year to urge USDA to end the ban on imports of lamb.

He said: “Having been there and spoken to people, it seems there would be a fairly big market for Scots lamb in America.

“The potential is big enough to be of massive ­benefit to Scots lamb. Let’s hope we get a successful outcome and the market will open up as soon as possible.

“There’s no reason why haggis and prime cuts of Scottish lamb could not be launched at the same time on Burns Day.”

The Scottish Government said: “A significant milestone was reached on September 16 when the US concluded its public consultation on proposals to lift the ban on the importation of lamb from the EU.

“Discussions are ongoing. We are hopeful the restrictions on the export of lamb and haggis will be lifted during the first half of next year.”

Food get real when kids die: Cheesemaker goes to E. coli court

One of Scotland’s leading cheesemakers has pinned his hopes on legal action to keep his business open after it was caught up in an E. coli outbreak.

dunsyre-blu-e-coli-cheeseHumphrey Errington is seeking a judicial review to prevent Food Standards Scotland (FSS) from destroying all his stocks of Dunsyre Blue, which it claims lay behind the outbreak that affected 22 people and led to the death of a three-year-old girl.

Mr Errington said that unless the court rules in his favour his Lanarkshire firm Errington Cheese is “finished” and will have to close.

The company has gone to the Court of Session to ask for a suspension of instructions from FSS ordering enforcement officials to “seek out and destroy” all stocks of the product.

It is also seeking details of tests carried out by the agency which linked the cheese to the outbreak, after the firm’s own tests were unable to find the bacteria.

Mr Errington said: “We had no choice but to take this to court, otherwise we would have been shut down for ever.”

Sorta like the 3-year-old.

After the outbreak last summer the FSS banned sales of five brands of cheese sold by Mr Errington’s company: Dunsyre Blue, Dunsyre Baby, Lanark Blue, Lanark White, Maisie’s Kebbuck and Cora Linn. Customers who had bought the cheeses were asked to return them.

Professor Hugh Pennington, an expert on E.coli has questioned the proportionality of the food watchdog’s decision to issue a blanket ban on the sale of all cheeses from Errington.

The emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said FSS had come down “very heavily” on Errington Cheese, stating there is a “real possibility” the organisation was “over-interpreting scientific evidence”.

He said that the “jury was still out” and while there may be a “moderately strong” case on Dunsyre Blue, there was “no scientific evidence” on any of the firm’s other cheeses.

FSS deny this, saying all all results from samples were shared with Errington and insist decision take to recall Errington Cheese Ltd products are “evidence-based and informed by interpretation from experts including legally designated food examiners”.

The FSS also intends to take further action to clamp down on any manufacturer using unpasteurised “raw” milk and has issued a letter to all local authorities requiring them to apply new and stringent tests on the presumption that any cheese made this way is unsafe.

The order applies to hundreds of cheesemakers, including some famous brands, and has led to some claiming they are being made subject to regulations far more severe than other food producers.

Probe launched after second ill pensioner dies after Scots staff send her on 450 mile taxi ride home

As Scotland grapples with 150 children sick from Norovirus at two schools, it has emerged that a second ill pensioner has died after being sent home hundreds of miles in a taxi from a Scottish hotel.

norovirus-elderly-womanThe Herald Scotland reports the Loch Achray Hotel in Callander, Stirlingshire, sent ill 79-year-old Norma Francis home on a 350-mile taxi journey to her home in Gnosall, Stafford, after showing symptoms of gastric illness. 

Norma fell unconscious during the journey and later died in hospital after paramedics were unable to waken her. 

Three weeks after Norma died on April 6, the hotel sent guest Carol Whymark, 70, and her husband, 73, home to Suffolk 450 miles in a taxi after it was suspected she was suffering from norovirus. 

The pensioner died of a heart attack in hospital the next day. 

Her daughter Sharone says the family have instructed lawyers to investigate Carol’s stay at the hotel, booked through Lochs and Glens Holidays Limited. 
Sharone, 47, said: “I just think it is terrible that this could have happened once, let alone twice. It’s disgusting. 

“I’ve lost my mum, my dad lost his wife and my daughter her nanny. I’m disgusted and this needs investigating. 

“I’m still numb really. I still feel angry.” 

Carol, who was on a coach tour of Scotland, woke up feeling unwell at the hotel on April 28. 

Her daughter said staff told husband Desmond that his wife had norovirus and offered him rubber gloves to clean the room and left food and water outside. 

The family claim no appropriate medical advice was given and the hotel simply offered a taxi home. 

A post mortem revealed she did not have norovirus in her system and died of the heart attack. 

Sharone said: “Mum said she didn’t feel 100 per cent – but there was no evidence of vomiting or loose stools. There was no medical attention at all. 

“They said to my dad there was a 90 per cent chance he will catch the virus. 

“Half an hour later they said she was fit to travel nine hours home. It’s so wrong. 
“When they came and said they would pay for a taxi, she said, ‘Yes, let’s go home’. 

“The poor lady who passed away three weeks before, she actually did have norovirus. 

“But my mum didn’t have it. 

“The hotel thought she had norovirus because the other lady did. 

Child dies from E. coli O157 in Scotland linked to blue cheese

Is there a way to mediate the values between protecting public health and protecting business?

dunshyre.blueMy suggestion would be the company stop asserting that testing found nothing – because that means shit – and Food Safety Scotland get the legal plug out of its ass and go public with whatever information they have.

So while the Scottish company at the centre of an E. coli O157 recall related to its raw milk Dunsyre blue cheese continues to say it’s innocent, and Food Standards Scotland isn’t talking, maybe this will help focus the participants on what matters.

A child has died following the outbreak of E. coli O157 in Scotland, one of 20 confirmed cases of infection – detected between 2 and 15 July – 11 of whom had received hospital treatment.

Health officials are investigating possible links to Dunsyre blue cheese, which is made with unpasteurised milk.

South Lanarkshire-based Errington Cheese, which makes Dunsyre blue, said last month that testing had shown it to be “completely clear of E. coli O157”.

Health Protection Scotland said that epidemiological investigations had “identified Dunsyre Blue cheese as the most likely cause of the outbreak”.

It added: “Despite extensive investigation, including looking for other possible food sources, no other link to a majority of cases could be established.”

Testing don’t prove shit.

Dr Alison Smith-Palmer, from Health Protection Scotland’s Incident Management Team (IMT), said: “On behalf of the IMT, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the child who has died.

“Our thoughts are with them at this time and we ask that their privacy be respected.

“All confirmed cases became unwell prior to the end of July. As there have been no new cases since then the IMT will now stand down and work to produce its final report.”

It is understood that the final report could take up to six months to produce.

In a statement issued last month on its website, Errington Cheese said its own tests had shown the product to be clear of the bug.

“All our testing, covering a period of almost six months from 21 March to date, is completely clear of E. coli O157,” the statement said.

“All authority testing is negative for E. coli O157. All customer testing for E. coli O157 is negative. All farm testing for E. coli O157 is negative.”

The statement added: “From what we can gather all cases had an onset of symptoms between 1st -15th July (2 week period).

“However, our cheese was available over a 8/9 week period.

“From this we conclude that the outbreak was more likely to have been caused by something with a shorter shelf-life or not by a food at all.”

16 sick with E. coli O157 linked to blue cheese in Scotland

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) are investigating 16 confirmed cases of the same strain of E. coli O157, which may be associated with eating blue cheese made from unpasteurised milk  in Lanarkshire.

blue.cheeseOf the 16 cases, 14 are in Scotland across seven NHS boards and two are in England.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said the company is carrying out a voluntary recall of suspected batches of the blue cheese and advised consumers who have bought the product and still have it in their fridge not to eat it.

Officials are advising anyone who purchased the cheese with batch codes C22 or D14 between mid-May and the end of July to not eat the product. 

Dr Syed Ahmed, clinical director at HPS, said: “Members of the public who purchased Dunsyre Blue cheese and still have the product in their fridges should return it to the retailer where they purchased the product or dispose of it.”

The cases developed symptoms between 2 and 15 July.

The business’ founder, Humphrey Errington, told The Scotsman they were co-operating fully with HPS’ investigation but were shocked by the initial findings.

Mr Errington said: “We don’t know for sure yet if this happened because of our cheese. We’re completely baffled by their (HPS) conclusion it is connected to Dunsyre Blue. We haven’t seen the evidence yet, only circumstantial proof that some of the 16 had eaten the cheese at hotels we supply. We have sent more than 40 samples to testing centres and all tests so far have come back negative for E. coli O157.”

Mr Errington, whose daughter Selina Cairns now runs the company, was concerned of the impact the outbreak could have on the family-run firm.

Go with data or go home: It’s still a f*cking pink chicken

Steve Sayer of MeatingPlace, the home of all things meat, has much praise for Food Safety Scotland’s pink chicken advice, which is apparently grounded to “ensure that public information and advice on food safety, standards, and pink.chicken.fss.jun.16nutrition are accurate while being consumer-focused. It’s obvious that the FSS plucked the pink chicken mascot to warn Scottish consumers about the possibility of getting sick by consuming seemingly under-grilled/cooked chicken that’s still pink internally.

“However, the only exception was the insistence that the internal color of properly grilled chicken should never be pink.

“The USDA has long stated that reaching the internal temperature of 165 degrees F., (by measuring at the thickest part of the chicken) will kill pathogens and is safe to consume. The USDA has also claimed that the internal coloring is not always an accurate indicator whether chicken is properly cooked or grilled, which includes, you guessed it, the color pink.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think the Scot’s pink message bird is rather clever and its intent admirable, as it could very well lessen the amount of people undercooking their summer grilled chicken. But the fact remains it’s not completely accurate.”

It’s a f*ucking pink chicken and it’s wrong.

So how can anything else this science-based organization say be accepted as accurate?

Go with the data or go home.

Waste of money.

It’s still a f*cking pink chicken

I’m guessing she doesn’t like my it’s still a f*cking pink chicken approach.

cooked.chickenBut color is a lousy indicator of safety, only a thermometer can do that (right, safe chicken, and this photo has been around for 20 years)

Coral Beach of Food Safety News however, thinks the f*cking pink chicken is brought to you by an unidentified genius in the PR department at Food Standards Scotland, and its new summer barbecue food safety campaign has a catchy slogan and a hilarious super villain.

Dubbed simply Pink Chicken, the super villain is scheduled to travel the hills and dales of the tiny nation for three months, visiting beach partiers and backpackers while “creating mayhem and ‘spoiling’ summer” according to the Scottish food safety agency.

Since I’m an American and write in American English, I can say this without fear of profanity filters blocking me: It’s bloody brilliant.

No, it’s a f*cking pink chicken and it’s dumb.

It also goes against evidence- or science-based reasoning.

Guess that’s where we differ.

And I’m not an educator, I provide information. People make their own choices. Education is up to individuals.