Kelly oysters brand Gigas Oysters recalled due to domoic acid

One of the first science columns I ever wrote for a newspaper 36-years ago was about domoic acid in shellfish.

Everything old is new again.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency DOM International Limited is recalling Kelly Oysters brand Gigas Oysters from the marketplace due to marine biotoxin which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning. Consumers should not consume and retailers, hotels, restaurants and institutions should not sell, serve or use the recalled product described below.

This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

This is what creativity looks like at its ugly peak (even though this was filmed with makeup and tricks 7 years after being written, it’s still the best vid)

STECs in shellfish, France

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) strains may be responsible for foodborne infections in humans.

Twenty-eight STEC and 75 EPEC strains previously isolated from French shellfish-harvesting areas and their watersheds and belonging to 68 distinguishable serotypes were characterized in this study.

bourdain_ss_brittany-journal_004_596x334High-throughput real-time PCR was used to search for the presence of 75 E. coli virulence-associated gene targets, and genes encoding Shiga toxin (stx) and intimin (eae) were subtyped using PCR tests and DNA sequencing, respectively.

The results showed a high level of diversity between strains, with 17 unique virulence gene profiles for STEC and 56 for EPEC. Seven STEC and 15 EPEC strains were found to display a large number or a particular combination of genetic markers of virulence and the presence of stx and/or eae variants, suggesting their potential pathogenicity for humans. Among these, an O26:H11 stx1a eae-β1 strain was associated with a large number of virulence-associated genes (n = 47), including genes carried on the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) or other pathogenicity islands, such as OI-122, OI-71, OI-43/48, OI-50, OI-57, and the high-pathogenicity island (HPI). One O91:H21 STEC strain containing 4 stx variants (stx1a, stx2a, stx2c, and stx2d) was found to possess genes associated with pathogenicity islands OI-122, OI-43/48, and OI-15. Among EPEC strains harboring a large number of virulence genes (n, 34 to 50), eight belonged to serotype O26:H11, O103:H2, O103:H25, O145:H28, O157:H7, or O153:H2.

Molecular profiling of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and enteropathogenic E. coli strains isolated from French coastal environments

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. July 2016 vol. 82 no. 13 3913-3927, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00271-16

Balière, A. Rincé, S. Delannoy, P. Fach and M. Gourmelon

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/13/3913.abstract?etoc

 

Increased action required to protect those with food allergies

Our daughter has been diagnosed with a moderate shellfish allergy, which is a shame with all the great shellfish in and around Brisbane, but more importantly it means we carry an epi pen and know how to use it.

food-allergies-imageIt’s made me more empathetic to those with severe allergies.

An independent review of the UK’s food system has concluded more action needs to be taken in order to better protect people with food allergies. That’s according to a report from a leading UK team of food safety experts, including Professor Chris Elliott from Queen’s University Belfast, a co-author of a paper published in The Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Analyst, outlining a strategy to close the gaps in current processes for detecting and measuring allergens – substances in foods that can trigger an allergic reaction. The publication comes during the UK’s Allergy Awareness Week (25th April – 1 May).

Food allergy is a rapidly growing problem in the developed world, affecting up to 10 per cent of children and 2-3 per cent of adults. Allergic reactions can range from a mild runny nose, skin irritation or stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.

Food allergies have significant impact on quality of life and usually require lifelong avoidance of the offending foods. There are also burdens on health care, the food industry and regulators.

Professor Elliott and Professor Duncan Burns, Emeritus Professor at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, are among a team of experts led by Michael Walker from the Government Chemist Programme at LGC, which has outlined a ‘grand vision’ to address the key challenges in allergen measurement and analysis. They make a series of recommendations primarily addressed to the European Commission’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, DG Santé, aimed at securing a food chain which is reliable, resistant to fraud and ultimately safe for consumers.

Professor Elliott is a world-renowned expert on food fraud and traceability and led the independent review of the UK’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal. He said: “The food supply chain is highly vulnerable to fraud involving food allergens, risking consumer health and reputational damage to the food industry. Cross-contamination during production, processing and transport is also a problem. While efforts have been made to improve food labelling and introduce the concept of threshold quantities for allergens, these depend on being able to accurately detect and quantify allergens in the first instance. Gaps in the current system mean that it is difficult to achieve this.

“This paper sets out a strategy to address those gaps and calls on the EC to take action in three particular areas. Firstly, the use of bioinformatics studies for modelling how best to predict what allergens present in foods, and specifically what quantities of these allergens, will adversely affect the health of someone with food allergies. Secondly, the development of reference methods which will provide a ‘gold standard’ for the detection and measurement of allergens in food. And thirdly, the production of reference materials which can support threshold decisions -samples of foods with known, controlled amounts of allergens present, to allow for checks on the accuracy of allergen testing methods.”

Significant international effort and an inter-disciplinary approach will be required to achieve these aims and protect those at risk of food allergies. Lead author of the report, Michael Walker from LCG said: “If we fail to realise the promise of future risk management of food allergens through lack of the ability to measure food allergens properly, the analytical community will have failed a significant societal challenge. Our recommendations are complex with associated resource demand but rarely has such an exciting interdisciplinary scientific endeavour arisen as a solution to a key socially relevant problem.”

The open access paper in Analyst is available at  http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2016/an/c5an01457c?page=search.

Raw is risky: Taiwan regulators warn of food poisoning from shellfish

The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged people not to eat raw shellfish to avoid food poisoning, such as norovirus infection, as several recently reported cases of food poisoning were all caused by eating raw shellfish.

raw.clamsRaw shellfish, including raw clams and oysters, can easily be contaminated by norovirus or Vibrio parahaemolyticus in their growing environment, the agency said, adding that norovirus is one of the most common viruses that cause viral gastroenteritis.

The transmission of norovirus is primarily fecal-oral, and as few as 10 or less viral particles can cause an infection, Division of Food Safety official Hsu Chao-kai (許朝凱) said, adding that norovirus infection can cause an infected person to exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, stomach pain, watery diarrhea and, in some cases, a fever.

The agency said people should not risk their health to enjoy the taste of raw shellfish and urged the public to wash and cook shellfish thoroughly before eating.

35 sick: raw is risky in rising temperatures in BC

A warning from the BC Centre for Disease Control about eating raw shellfish:

So far this summer, there have been an unprecedented number of shellfish-related illnesses thanks to the warm weather.

SUN0705N-Oyster7The majority of illnesses have been linked to eating raw oysters sourced in BC and served in restaurants.

Spokesperson Marsha Taylor says 35 people have become ill from eating the uncooked shellfish…

“We’re putting this message out both to the public that will also hit the restaurants and we’re also doing follow up with every restaurant to make sure they are aware of the issue and we’re inspecting the premises.”

Some illnesses have also been linked with raw oysters purchased or self-harvested.

Taylor says if you happen to get sick…

“People who are experiencing symptoms of the Vibrio Parahaemolyticus most often experience typical food-borne illness like nausea and vomiting, headaches, and feel pretty badly for a couple of days…but most people will recover on their own.”

To reduce risk of illness consumers are being told to eat only cooked shellfish.

Inconceivable: UK shellfish farms closed amid sewage fears

Sewage bacteria, thought to be E. coli, was found in the Camel Estuary, St Austell and Falmouth Bays, said the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

inconceivableThe Shellfish Association of Great Britain contests the move, claiming the test results are “inconceivable”.

The FSA said it was “monitoring the situation” but the shellfish beds would remain closed.

David Jarrard, of the Shellfish Association, said: “The industry treats food safety as paramount.

“But I was astonished with these results, we have never seen any of this magnitude before and I just don’t believe them.

“The results we have had are akin to raw sewage and for that to happen in one river might be possible but to find it in all these areas is inconceivable.”

It has asked the FSA to disregard the results while an investigation takes place.

An FSA spokesperson said: “The results are unusually high which is why they require further investigation.

“We are monitoring the situation by taking further samples but until we have evidence to the contrary the beds must remain closed to protect public health.”

I don’t eat raw oysters: Iron overload disease causes rapid growth of Vibrio

Every summer, the news reports on a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus found in warm saltwater that causes people to get sick, or die, after they eat raw tainted shellfish or when an open wound comes in contact with seawater.

SUN0705N-Oyster7People with a weakened immune system, chronic liver disease or iron overload disease are most at risk for severe illness. Vibrio vulnificus infections in high-risk individuals are fatal 50 percent of the time.

Now, researchers at UCLA have figured out why those with iron overload disease are so vulnerable. People with the common genetic iron overload disease called hereditary hemochromatosis have a deficiency of the iron-regulating hormone hepcidin and thus develop excess iron in their blood and tissue, providing prime growth conditions for Vibrio vulnificus.

The study also found that minihepcidin, a medicinal form of the hormone hepcidin that lowers iron levels in blood, could cure the infection by restricting bacterial growth.

The early findings were reported online Jan. 14 in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

“This is the first time that the association of hepcidin deficiency and susceptibility to Vibrio vulnificus infection was tested,” said senior author Dr. Yonca Bulut, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and a researcher with the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute. “The dramatic effectiveness of the new treatment, even after the infection was established, was impressive.”

To conduct the study, researchers compared the fatality of Vibrio vulnificus infection in healthy mice with mice that lacked hepcidin, modeling human hereditary hemochromatosis. The results showed that the infection was much more lethal in hepcidin-deficient mice because they could not decrease iron levels in the blood in response to infection, a process mediated by hepcidin in healthy mice.

Giving minihepcidin to susceptible hepcidin-deficient mice to lower the amount of iron in the blood prevented infection if the hormone was given before the Vibrio vulnificus was introduced. Additionally, mice given minihepcidin three hours after the bacterium was introduced were cured of any infection.

Raw oystersHereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic disease that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron. It affects as many as 1 in every 200 people in the United States. Since it can take decades for the body to store damaging levels of iron, many people may not be aware that they have the disease until signs of the condition begin to appear later in life.

The co-directors of the UCLA Center for Iron Disorders, Dr. Tomas Ganz, a professor of medicine and pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Elizabeta Nemeth, a professor of medicine at UCLA, led the invention of minihepcidins at UCLA. Minihepcidins are being developed for treatment of iron-overload disorders, such as hereditary hemochromatosis and Cooley’s anemia. The use of minihepcidin to treat potentially lethal infections is a possible new application.

“We found that hepcidin is required for resistance to a Vibrio vulnificus infection,” said the study’s lead author Joao Arezes, a visiting graduate student from the University of Porto in Portugal. “The development of the treatment tested in mouse models could reduce the high mortality rate of this disease.”

The next stage of research is to understand why Vibrio vulnificus bacteria become so lethal when iron levels are high, and to learn which other microbes respond similarly to excess iron.

Journal reference: Cell Host and Microbe

Provided by University of California, Los Angeles

Raw and risky: Hepatitis A cluster linked to oysters and clams in Taiwan

Our friends are off to China and Indonesia at the end of the week (start of summer holidays) so we’re having them over for dinner tomorrow, where I’ll offer up a seafood pasta (I simply cannot compete with Susan’s stir-fry and other Chinese dishes).

SUN0705N-Oyster7But with the holiday season approaching, there will – like no raw egg dishes — be no raw shellfish served in this house.

The Taiwan CDC reports 30 indigenous cases of Hepatitis A from Oct. to Nov. 2014, in which more than 80 percent of the patients required hospitalization for their illness.

According to the epidemiological investigation, most patients consumed raw bivalves such as oyster and clams during the disease incubation period.

This has prompted the Taiwan CDC to remind the public to pay attention to personal dietary hygiene and consume only thoroughly cooked bivalves.

Bivalves such as oysters and clams concentrate the pathogens that are present in harvest waters.

59 sick; summer of shellfish outbreaks

In Seattle, King County health officials report there were 13 suspected cases of the saltwater bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the county during July, compared to an average of four reported in that month in recent years. Since the beginning of seven.fish.girls.2.dec.12August, an additional eight cases have been confirmed, while King County would typically only see six for the entire month.

Across Washington state, more than 40 residents have gotten sick with vibriosis.

“This is probably the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief of communicable disease for Seattle & King County Public Health. “For every case that is reported, an estimated 142 additional cases go unreported.”

People typically get vibriosis from eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. Residents who have pre-existing medical conditions or who take antacids regularly are at higher risk for illness from the vibrio infection.

Since June 2013, Connecticut has reported 19 confirmed cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection, compared to an average of seven cases reported during the same time period in the past two years.

Shellfish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees for at least 15 seconds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Not sure where that number came from, but I grill mine.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to serve or consume the raw shellfish products seven.fish.bbq.dec.11described below because they may contain paralytic shellfish toxins that can cause illness if consumed.

These shellfish products were primarily distributed to wholesalers and institutional clients such as restaurants. However, the affected shellfish products may also have been sold in smaller quantities at some retail seafood counters. Consumers who are unsure whether they have the affected products are advised to check with their retailer or supplier.

These products have been distributed in Alberta and British Columbia. However, they may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.

The world is our oyster – shellfish safety in Sydney

I got to deliver an opening keynote chat at the 9th International Conference on Molluscan Shellfish Safety in Sydney yesterday, with my usual refrain about how the best producers should be marketing their safety investments directly to consumers and retailers.

The crowd was an eclectic group of 200 producers, scientists, policy types and retailers from 30 countries, several of whom approached me and said, I sydney.rock.oysterread barfblog; they don’t say, “you look younger than I expected” anymore.

And after she officially opened the conference I got to stalk chat with New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, about restaurant inspection disclosure in the state, including the Name and Shame website, and the voluntary posting of Scores on Doors, and whether the postings should become mandatory.

The NSW oyster industry is the State’s largest fishery by value employing more than 1500 people directly, and is primarily in regional areas contributing greatly to those economies.

“The NSW Government is a strong supporter of the State’s shellfish industry, through the provision of research and support services, by protecting water quality and by overseeing industry food safety programs,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“We have a robust food safety management program for shellfish in place that has been in operation since 2000.

“As a result the shellfish industry in NSW has a good safety record,” Ms Hodgkinson said.