Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK E. coli cheesemaker edition

Jane Bradley of the Scotsman reports an artisan cheesemaker which is embroiled in a court case with food hygiene authorities after being forced to withdraw its products amid an outbreak of E.coli which killed a three year old girl, has been named one of Britain’s top cheese producers in an industry awards ceremony.

Errington Cheeses, which is awaiting a court date against South Lanarkshire Council, which ordered the manufacturer to stop production of its raw milk cheeses amid an investigation following the outbreak of the food poisoning bug last summer, was given runner up in the Best Artisan Producer category at the Great British Cheese Awards. The Lanarkshire-based business also came runner up in the category of Best Blue Cheese for its Lanark Blue cheese, at the awards at Marcus Wareing’s Gilbert Scott restaurant in London, hosted by food website Great British Chefs.

The company is currently only making one type of cheese – made from ewe’s milk – pending its court case against South Lanarkshire Council. Owner Humphrey Errington, who launched the firm in 1985, has insisted that his cheese is not the source of the food poisoning outbreak – which saw 19 people hospitalised – and has claimed that the authorities, including Food Standards Scotland, are trying to curb production of raw milk cheese. A Just Giving campaign launched to help Errington cover its legal costs, raised £34,000 from supporters. Twitter user Artisan Food wrote: “Chefs vote of confidence @ErringtonCheese Resilience in face of harassment/bias/ignorance.” In March, an official report from Health Protection Scotland into the E.coli outbreak claimed that Errington’s Dunsyre Blue was the source of the bacteria.

Was it the bulgogi burger? HUS outbreak in S. Korea linked to McDonald’s

Bulgogi is literally “fire meat,” a Korean-style grilled or roasted dish made of thin, marinated slices of beef or pork, grilled on a barbecue or on a stove-top griddle. It is also often stir-fried in a pan in home cooking

A Bulgogi burger is the same idea.

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting an epidemiological investigation into a case of 7 children and 1 adult who showed symptoms of food poisoning with vomiting and diarrhea after eating McDonald’s hamburgers on 25 Aug 2017 at a Jeonju branch in North Jeolla.

Authorities are not ruling out the possibility that the 8 individuals contracted hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), widely known as “hamburger disease,” a bacterial infection that can leave the renal system severely damaged.

On 25 Aug 2017, a group of 15 adults and elementary school students from the same church in Jeonju visited McDonald’s Jeonju branch and ate bulgogi burgers together. A day later, 7 children and 1 adult experienced diarrhea and vomiting. The authorities declared an epidemiological probe into the case on Sat 2 Sep 2017.

As the case was publicized, McDonald’s Korea halted selling bulgogi burgers nationwide starting on Sat 2 Sep 2017. On its website, a notice says, “We have decided to stop selling bulgogi burgers pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation by authorities,” adding that the multinational company’s Korean branch was taking the issue seriously. It also said the company will do its best to help patients recover, though without elaborating on how or when.

The outcome of the ongoing probe is expected to be made public around Wed 6 Sep 2017.

ProMED-mail reports classic bulgogi recipes use a marinade of soy, ginger, garlic, and gochujang (Korean chili paste) to flavor and tenderize strips of meat. Because combining a marinade into ground beef would change the consistency of the hamburger, making it more of a “sloppy-joe”, usually a bulgogi inspired sauce is used on top of the burger although a Korean inspired spice combination can be added to the ground beef.

31 sickened by E. coli O55 in Dorset: Almost 4 years later, health-types’ report is public

In Dec. 2014, an outbreak of E. coli O55 was identified in Dorset, UK 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.

There was a protracted battle between local residents affected by the outbreak, and the lack of disclosure by PHE, documented in June, 2017.

But now, the health-types have gone public, in a report in the current issue of Eurosurveillance.

The first documented British outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O55:H7 began in the county of Dorset, England, in July 2014. Since then, there have been a total of 31 cases of which 13 presented with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The outbreak strain had Shiga toxin (Stx) subtype 2a associated with an elevated risk of HUS. This strain had not previously been isolated from humans or animals in England. The only epidemiological link was living in or having close links to two areas in Dorset.

Extensive investigations included testing of animals and household pets. Control measures included extended screening, iterative interviewing and exclusion of cases and high-risk contacts. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) confirmed that all the cases were infected with similar strains. A specific source could not be identified. The combination of epidemiological investigation and WGS indicated, however, that this outbreak was possibly caused by recurrent introductions from a local endemic zoonotic source, that a highly similar endemic reservoir appears to exist in the Republic of Ireland but has not been identified elsewhere, and that a subset of cases was associated with human-to-human transmission in a nursery.

Recurrent seasonal outbreak of an emerging serotype of shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC O55:H7 STX2A) in the South West of England, July 2014 to September 2015

Eurosurveillance, vol 22, issue 36, 07 September 2017, N McFarland, N Bundle, C Jenkins, G Godbole, A Mikhail, T Dallman, C O’Connor, N McCarthy, E O’Connell, J Treacy, G Dabke, J Mapstone, Y Landy, J Moore, R Partridge, F Jorgensen, C Willis, P Mook, C Rawlings, R Acornley, C Featherstone, S Gayle, J Edge, E McNamara, J Hawker, Balasegaram, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.36.30610,

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22872

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.

E. coli O91 in food and environmental samples

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains of the O91:H21 serotype have caused severe infections, including hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Strains of the O91 serogroup have been isolated from food, animals, and the environment worldwide but are not well characterized. We used a microarray and other molecular assays to examine 49 serogroup O91 strains (environmental, food, and clinical strains) for their virulence potential and phylogenetic relationships.

Most of the isolates were identified to be strains of the O91:H21 and O91:H14 serotypes, with a few O91:H10 strains and one O91:H9 strain being identified. None of the strains had the eae gene, which codes for the intimin adherence protein, and many did not have some of the genetic markers that are common in other STEC strains. The genetic profiles of the strains within each serotype were similar but differed greatly between strains of different serotypes.

The genetic profiles of the O91:H21 strains that we tested were identical or nearly identical to those of the clinical O91:H21 strains that have caused severe diseases. Multilocus sequence typing and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat analyses showed that the O91:H21 strains clustered within the STEC 1 clonal group but the other O91 serotype strains were phylogenetically diverse.

IMPORTANCE This study showed that food and environmental O91:H21 strains have similar genotypic profiles and Shiga toxin subtypes and are phylogenetically related to the O91:H21 strains that have caused hemolytic-uremic syndrome, suggesting that these strains may also have the potential to cause severe illness.

Shiga toxin-producing serogroup O91 Escherichia coli strains isolated from food and environmental samples

7.july.2017

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Feng et al.

http://aem.asm.org/content/83/18/e01231-17.abstract?etoc

 

8 sick with E. coli from Colorado fair

At least eight people are sick with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli after spending time at the Mesa County Fair, which ran from July 25-29 in Grand Junction.

The Post Independent reports Mesa County Public Health officials have been working with representatives from the fair and those who became sick to find the source of the illness.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli is common in cattle, sheep and goats. It can be contracted through direct contact with these animals or contact with things in close proximity to the animals that may have been cross contaminated.

Mesa County Public Health officials have also been in close communication with child-care providers and health-care providers to determine the magnitude of the outbreak, and to prevent further spread of the illness.

People can become sick between two and 10 days after being infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.

Scots teacher dies after contracting E. coli in Turkey

A teacher who was flown back to the UK after contracting E. coli in Turkey has died.

Caroline Hope arrived back in Glasgow last month following a crowdfunding appeal for a medical evacuation.

Her mother, Catherine Hope, confirmed she died yesterday at the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Lynsey Bews of The Scotsman reports that Ms Hope, who had been living in Turkey for four years, picked up the infection during surgery to treat advanced colon cancer in June.

The 37-year-old English teacher had decided to return home to Scotland after receiving her cancer diagnosis in January but complications from the surgery left her fighting for her life in Medical Park Hospital in Izmir, Turkey.

Desperate to bring her home, her family and friends raised more than £31,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a private medical evacuation, as there are strict rules around repatriations for medical reasons.

Mrs Hope, of Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, thanked everyone who contributed to the appeal and all the staff on the high dependency units at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital who cared for her daughter.

“I would just like to thank all the people who put money in towards bringing Caroline home,” she said.

 

14 sick, 4 with HUS from E. coli in Calif. lake

An E. coli-contaminated lake in Nevada County, Calif., linked to the illnesses of 14 people will remain closed until at least Aug. 23, county officials announced Wednesday.

Hannah Knowles of the Sacramento Bee reports authorities closed all of Lake Wildwood’s public beaches last week after water testing confirmed reports linking E. coli infections to the lake’s Main Beach, also called Commodore Park. The county also advised against any swimming in the lake.

As of Wednesday, 14 people – 11 children and three adults – are believed to have contracted E. coli after visiting the Main Beach and, in many cases, ingesting lake water, according to the Nevada County Public Health Department. Lab results so far confirm 11 of those 14 cases are connected to the lake’s bacteria.

By Tuesday, nine people had been hospitalized in connection with the outbreak, county Public Health Coordinator Patti Carter said. Six had been discharged by Wednesday evening.

Four sickened children developed a serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to potentially fatal kidney failure and anemia.

Going public fail: 14 sick with E. coli linked to raw milk in Virginia, 2016

The general public didn’t have access to the suspect food, so there was no point in unnecessarily alarming the public.

I’ve heard that paternalistic crap for 30 years now, and it never turns out well.

Coral Beach of Food Safety News reports that Virginia officials did not alert the general public to an E. coli outbreak in March 2016 that sickened at least 14 people — a dozen of them children.

This week, 17 months after the outbreak, public health officials expect to complete their report on the incident, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health. The implicated milk was from Golden Valley Guernseys (free samples delivered for $4) dairy, which sent a letter to members of its herd-share operation alerting them to the illnesses at the time.

Of the 14 confirmed E. coli victims, half had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization. Three developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The state health department’s Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District office did not make a public announcement about the outbreak at the time because the general public did not have access to the milk, District Director Dr. Wade Kartchner told Food Safety News.

“Consideration was given to putting out a broad public notice, but the nature of the herd-share programs are such that we were confident that we would be able to effectively reach those who were truly at risk of illness,” Kartchner said. “… it is not quite the same situation as a restaurant outbreak where the public at large may be exposed.”

This is so wrong.

Others, even mere mortals, learn from outbreaks: How did this happen? How dangerous was the outbreak? And what kind of foods to avoid, like raw fucking milk.

In the absence of public announcements, it also makes it harder for mere scientists to make a case that a certain food may be risky.

Going public is the new normal for foodborne outbreaks, and some day, admin-types may catch up.

Facebook, tweets, calls to lawyers like Marler, going public is any agency’s best defense.

And it’s the right thing to do.

We’ve published about this before, and as I said at the time, I’ve had different versions of this paper running through my head for 25 years.

It started as a rebel-without-a-clue teenager, and led to questions about mad cow disease in 1995 (or earlier) when the UK government knew there were human victims but said nothing until March 1996.

Yet the job of public health, no matter how many political assholes, no matter how many impediments, and no matter how many dog bites you have to investigate, is to protect public health.

If people are barfing, it’s time to go public.

That doesn’t always happen.

Anyone can search barfblog.com under the phrase “going public” and find hundreds of incidents of people acting like shits.

But this is important shit, because credibility depends on transparency and trust and truthiness (at least in my idyllic world-view).

Public health is under siege.

The science is there, the outbreaks are there. Go public.

Or at least explain the process so the rest of us can understand.

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.

Health types say animals were likely source of E. coil outbreak that killed 2 kids in Utah

The investigation into an outbreak of E. coli in the border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona are drawing to a close and it is believed that infected animals were the source of the disease.

Two young children died and at least 11 people were sickened due to the outbreak, which Fox 13 News first reported July 2. 

Friday, The Southwest Utah Public Health Department issued an update and stated that “It has been determined that the likely source of the disease was infected animals, followed by person-to-person contact. Several livestock tested positive for the E. coli strain involved in this outbreak.”

The owners of affected livestock have been notified and given guidance about how to proceed. The health department says tests of water systems, nearby springs, ground beef, produce and dairy products in the area were all negative. There have been no new cases reported in connection with this outbreak since July 9.

The family of 6-year-old Gabriella Fullerton of Hildale confirmed their daughter died of kidney failure as a result of E. coli. Fullerton and another young boy who lives nearby died while several other people were sickened.

 

Benefit for 7-year-old Texas girl with E. coli set for August

Alexis Dominguez of KXII Fox News 12 reports a 7-year-old Tioga girl has spent the last month recovering in a Dallas hospital after getting E. coli.

Emorie Clayton, 7, from Tioga has been in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in Dallas for nearly a month.

Austin Lewter, Emorie’s uncle says she is recovering after she was infected with E. coli, which attacked her intestines, her digestive system and her kidneys.

“She’s had several surgeries and procedures now but the biggest one actually removed 70% of her colon.”

Emorie’s family says doctors are unsure how she got E. coli and may never even know what caused it.

But during the family’s difficult time, friends and family have come together to help pay for their medical bills.

“There’s stories like this everywhere and when people want to do good, when people need to do good, when people need to come together, they do.”

Lewter says they are several events for the month of August being planned by community members.

“The 12th of August, here in Whitesboro, we’re planning an all-day benefit event. All the proceeds will go to her medical expenses.”