Sensible Swedes: Court rules coop grocery chain ‘misled’ consumers by claiming organic food safer, healthier

Kavin Senapathy of the Genetic Literacy Project writes the makers of the viral 2015 “Organic Effect” video, which claimed that switching to an all organic diet can eliminate pesticides from the body, are no longer allowed to promote the video or its claims, ruled the Swedish Patent and Market Court on July 3rd following three days of hearings in mid-May.

The Coop chain of Swedish grocery stores must not use the video or make unsubstantiated claims about organic and conventional food or pay a fine of one million Swedish Krona (about $120,000 USD). The Swedish Crop Protection Association (“Svenskt Växtskydd”), a trade association of nine Swedish crop protection companies, filed the lawsuit [in 2016], citing misleading and inaccurate advertisement.

The “Organic Effect” video … totally [omits] the crucial fact that organic farming does use pesticides, albeit different than the ones used in conventional agriculture. Even though the pesticides used in organic farming tend to be naturally derived, whether a substance is synthetic or natural in origin, in and of itself, has no bearing on its toxicity or environmental impact.

Further, as Switzerland-based biologist Iida Ruishalme pointed out at her Thoughtscapism blog, the video left out information that conflicted with the video’s shaky pro-organic assertions.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis.

See the crap below.

Seek and ye shall find: Sapovirus sickens 650 in Sweden, 2016

A foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis with more than 650 suspected cases occurred in April 2016 in Sollentuna, Sweden. It originated in a school kitchen serving a total of 2,700 meals daily.

Initial microbiological testing (for Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, adeno-, astro-, noro-, rota- and sapovirus) of stool samples from 15 symptomatic cases was negative, despite a clinical presentation suggestive of calicivirus.

Analyses of the findings from both the Sollentuna municipality environmental team and a web-based questionnaire suggested that the source of the outbreak was the salad buffet served on 20 April, although no specific food item could be identified.

Subsequent electron microscopic examination of stool samples followed by whole genome sequencing revealed a variant of sapovirus genogroup V. The virus was not detected using standard PCR screening. This paper describes the epidemiological outbreak investigation and findings leading to the discovery.

Investigation of a foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis in a school canteen revealed a variant of sapovirus  genogroup V not detected by standard PCR, sollentuna, Sweden, 2016

Eurosurveillance, vol 22, issue 22, 01 June 2017, M Hergens, J Nederby Öhd, E Alm , HH Askling, S Helgesson, M Insulander, N Lagerqvist, B Svenungsson, M Tihane, T Tolfvenstam, P Follin,

http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.22.30543

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22808

 

11 kids sickened: Campy from a dairy farm visit in Sweden

In April–May 2014, an outbreak of campylobacteriosis occurred after a preschool visit to a dairy farm in the South Western part of Sweden. During the visit, a meal, including unpasteurized milk, was served.

A retrospective cohort study using a web-based questionnaire was performed among the participants (n = 30) of the farm visit. A total of 24 of the 30 (80%) cohort members completed the questionnaire. Eleven cases were identified, and Campylobacter jejuni was isolated from eight of them. Seven of the cases were 2- to 7-year-old children. We found the highest attack rates among those who usually drink milk (45%) and those who consumed unpasteurized milk during the farm visit (42%). No cases were unexposed (risk ratio incalculable).

As result of the farm investigation, Campylobacter was isolated from cattle on the farm. Genotyping with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and whole genome sequencing confirmed that human and cattle isolates of C. jejuni belonged to one cluster.

Thus, cattle on the farm are considered the source of infection, and the most likely vehicle of transmission was contaminated unpasteurized milk. We recommend consumption of heat-treated milk only and increased awareness of the risk of consuming unpasteurized milk.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, March 2017, Lahti Elina, Rehn Moa, Ockborn Gunilla, Hansson Ingrid, Ågren Joakim, Engvall Eva Olsson, and Jernberg Cecilia, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2257.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2257

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health 62:90-99, 2015

G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12117/abstract?deniedAccess

Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

 

 

Campy increasing in Sweden

An unusually high number of people have been struck by Campylobacter in Sweden this winter, resulting in a less than festive combination of vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains.

vomit-birdThe number of infections usually peaks during the late summer months then drops off, but this year has yet to see a notable downward curve, Sweden’s Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) warns.

The growth coincides with an increase in campylobacter among flocks of chicken in Sweden, and fresh chicken is therefore thought to be a culprit.

 “The explanation we have right now is that we eat a lot of chicken. We eat a lot of fresh chicken, and campylobacter can be found in the fresh chicken to a certain extent,” Folkhälsomyndigheten spokesperson Britta Björkholm noted.

“If you’re not careful with your hygiene you risk coming down with it,” she added.

Between August and November 2016 twice as many cases were reported as normal, and that pattern has continued into the last month of the year.

About 100 cases are usually reported in December, but in December 2016 the number was almost 300 by the middle of the month.

“People are not being sufficiently careful about separating raw chicken from utensils and work surfaces,” Björkholm insisted.

250 sick in Sweden: Global College evacuated after gastroenteritis

At least 250 of 680 students at Global College in Sweden were sick when it was decided to close the school Wednesday.

globala-gymnasiet“We think it’s about common stomach bug. There is no connection to the school food,” said Acting Vice Chancellor Emma Frankl.

It is unclear how long it will keep the school closed. A crisis team has been set up.

“We obviously need advice from those who can assess the situation. The only thing we are certain at present is that it does not have with school meals to make, which would surely just all have suffered, says Emma Frankl.

Not quite.

But I look forward to the investigators’ response.

18 sick: E. coli O157 outbreak in Sweden

(Thanks to our Swedish correspondent for passing this along; something may be lost in translation)

Since September, 16 cases of E. coli O157 have occurred in Sweden, and three have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

As of today, a further two cases have been linked to the outbreak using whole genome sequencing.

Tracking suspect foods are ongoing and relevant infectious disease units, NFA, National Veterinary Institute, Agriculture and Public Health Agency are working together to investigate possible links and causes.
lost-in-translation

The research has been published where? Forget thawing food in fridge, use water instead

In what could be yet another case of PR before publication, Science Nordic has issued a press release extolling the virtues of thawing meat in cold water rather than in the fridge. The PR does not address issues of cross-contamination, how a consumer would determine if the meat was actually thawed, and most important, fails to cite a peer-reviewed publication, other than saying, “based on the institute’s own experiments with freezing and thawing different kinds of foods.”

meat-thaw-waterIf it has been published, it’s standard to include a link to that research, otherwise, it’s a fluff piece.

But you decide.

Most people know that food should be frozen as quickly as possible, to retain quality and flavour. The same turns out to be true when it comes to thawing frozen food, too —quicker is better.

So says Susanne Ekstedt, a researcher at the Food and Bioscience unit of SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in Gothenburg.

“This is something food scientists have known to be true for a long time now. But this knowledge is mostly confined to the food industry. Most people don’t seem to be aware of this,” Ekstedt said.

What often happens instead is that people thaw their meats slowly in the refrigerator. While keeping meat cold while thawing is important to limit bacterial growth, it’s possible to thaw food quickly in water. 

Ekstedt’s recommendation is based on the institute’s own experiments with freezing and thawing different kinds of foods. Their conclusion: The best way to thaw frozen meat or fish is to put it in cold water. You have to wrap the food in plastic, of course, to keep the water out of the food, but water will thaw food quickly and effectively.

The reason for this is simple: Water conducts heat better than air. And the faster food is thawed, the better it tastes.

One reason that freezing and thawing foods quickly preserves their quality has to do with ice crystal formation.

When anything, be it snow or food, stays slightly below the freezing point for a long time, it creates the perfect environment for large ice crystals to grow.

In food, the formation of these large ice crystals during freezing can do a great deal of damage to cells, reducing the food’s ability to hold in fluids after it is thawed.

muppets-chef-2The result? Dry meat and flaccid vegetables.

Clarence Birdseye, who is credited with being the founder of the modern frozen food industry in the United States, is said to have discovered this principle himself when he worked in Labrador and was taught by the native Inuits how to ice fish.

He discovered that fish he caught at -40 degrees C froze quickly and tasted quite fresh when thawed.  He went on to invent a series of techniques that allowed foods to be frozen quickly, preventing the formation of large ice crystals.

To this day, the food industry is well aware of the problems posed by ice crystal formation. In fact, it’s not uncommon to buy frozen vegetables with labels that advise consumers to thaw vegetables quickly.

Bjørg Egelandsdal is a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås whose specialty is meat.

“There has never been any good scientific evidence behind the advice that food should be thawed in the refrigerator,” she says.

“Maybe the idea behind this advice is that refrigerator thawing is most hygienic. It is true that meat and other foodstuffs should be stored in the refrigerator if they are thawed, but it is definitely better to thaw food quickly in water if you are going to use it right away,” she said. 

Another potentially quick way to defrost food, the microwave, can be hard on meat, says Per Einar Granum, a microbiologist also at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

He says if you are going to use the meat in a casserole or stew, thawing it in a microwave can be acceptable, because the meat will later become tender as it cooks.

But if you plan to grill your meat, forget the microwave. Even if you use the “thaw” program, it is “a little too brutal for the meat,” he says.

Salmonella-positive ground beef sparks recall in Sweden

Swedish retailer ICA has withdrawn mince and minced beef after a routine check found salmonella in the beef.

The recall applies to ICA Basic among mince (50/50 beef and pork, fat 22%), ICA Basic minced beef (20% fat) and ICA Among Mince (50/50 beef and pork, fat 20%).

Produktbilder från Börje Svensson Studiosvensson ICA EMV KPK Basic Blandfärs 20% 1500g ICA Basic Gris och nöt EAN: 2319113200008

Produktbilder från Börje Svensson
Studiosvensson
ICA EMV KPK Basic
Blandfärs 20% 1500g ICA Basic
Gris och nöt
EAN: 2319113200008

The beef comes from Ireland, pork meat in ICA Basic Among Mince comes from Denmark and pork meat in ICA Among Mince coming from Sweden.

The product may have been sold throughout the country from 2016-02-28. With the recall stopped goods for all sales in the stores’ cash registers. Salmonella bacteria die when material is heated to 72 ° C.

The recall applies to 13 different products, as shown below: 

Product                                                   Weight     Best before date     Lotkod / Batch No.

ICA Basic Among Minced 50/50        1600g        2016-03-07               411639101A

ICA Basic Among Minced 50/50        1600g        2016-03-08               411644401D

ICA Basic Among Minced 50/50        1600g        2016-03-09               411644401C

ICA Basic Among Minced 50/50        1600g        2016-03-10               411644901A

ICA Basic Among Minced 50/50        900g          2016-03-08               411644401D

ICA Basic Among Minced 50/50        900g          2016-03-10               411644401C

ICA Basic peanut 20%                          1600g        2016-03-09               411644401E

ICA Basic peanut 20%                          1600g        2016-03-10               411644401E

ICA Basic peanut 20%                          1600g        2016-03-10               411644401C

ICA Basic peanut 20%                          900g          2016-03-09               411644401C

ICA Basic peanut 20%                          900g          2016-03-09               411644401C

ICA Among Minced 50/50 Import    2500g        2016-03-07               411639101A

ICA Among Minced 50/50 Import    2500g        2016-03-09               411644901A
ICA regrets the incident and urges all customers who have purchased affected products primarily to return it to the nearest ICA store, or contact ICA’s customer contact by telephone  020-83 33 33 (open weekdays, Monday-Friday). Information is also available on ICA.se.

Over 300 sick in Sweden, school kitchens suspect

At least 300 people have fallen ill in a large outbreak of stomach flu that has hit students and staff in Sollentuna. Food preparation kitchens are suspected.

barf.swedenThere is a likely connection to the cooking kitchen in Häggvik School, says Elisabeth Thelin, Director of Administration in the environmental and planning office in the municipality of Sollentuna.

The municipality cooperates with the Infectious Diseases Stockholm to stop the spread of infection and find out what has caused stomach illness outbreak. Among other things, the kitchen cleaned and samples taken.

An investigation is underway. Yet we do not know what is the cause and it is important not to speculate, says Elisabeth Thelin.