Salmonella in beefburgers in France

A prolonged outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis occurred in northern France between December 2014 and April 2015.

sorenne-beef-burgerEpidemiological investigations following the initial notification on 30 December 2014 of five cases of salmonellosis (two confirmed S. Enteritidis) in young children residing in the Somme department revealed that all cases frequented the same food bank A. Further epidemiological, microbiological and food trace-back investigations indicated frozen beefburgers as the source of the outbreak and the suspected lot originating from Poland was recalled on 22 January 2015. On 2 March 2015 a second notification of S. Enteritidis cases in the Somme reinitiated investigations that confirmed a link with food bank A and with consumption of frozen beefburgers from the same Polish producer. In the face of a possible persistent source of contamination, all frozen beefburgers distributed by food bank A and from the same origin were blocked on 3 March 2015. Microbiological analyses confirmed contamination by S. Enteritidis of frozen beefburgers from a second lot remaining in cases’ homes. A second recall was initiated on 6 March 2015 and all frozen beefburgers from the Polish producer remain blocked after analyses identified additional contaminated lots over several months of production.

Outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis linked to the consumption of frozen beefburgers received from a food bank and originating from Poland: Northern France, December 2014 to April 2015

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 40, 06 October 2016

Tragically Chipotle: Freebies, settlements, falling stock and drones

It’s about having a voice.

Chipotle can hire all the food safety bigshots it likes, but it has no story, no narrative, to get past its five outbreaks in six months; and no amount of freebies are going to fix that.

kenny-diarrheaChipotle news is playing on the background of Mr. Robot. That’s prophetic.

Google parent company Alphabet is teaming up with Chipotle to test drone delivery for Virginia Tech students, according to a report from Bloomberg. The pilot program marks a turning point for Alphabet’s Project Wing division, giving the team ample room to experiment with airborne burrito deliveries in one of the first commercial programs of its kind to be greenlit by the US Federal Aviation Authority. The drones, which will be hybrid aircraft that can both fly and hover in place, will make deliveries coordinated by a Chipotle food truck on campus.

The news Chipotle probably wanted highlighted was that it has reportedly quietly settled nearly 100 claims over the last six months out of court, probably so the company won’t remind the public that they were so recently plagued by rampant food poisoning. The terms of the settlements are all confidential, but the claims were all filed by people whose ailments were verified by medical professionals. An attorney representing some of the plaintiffs called Chipotle’s move “textbook appropriate,” adding, “They’ve taken responsibility.”

“In 25 years of doing foodborne illness cases, I’ve never had a client ask for coupons for the restaurant they had gotten sick at,” said William Marler, an attorney with Seattle-based Marler Clark who represented 97 Chipotle customers. “In fact, some (clients) had gone back to the restaurant and they would call me and say, ‘Do you think it’s bad that I went back and got a burrito?’”

The company’s stock traded at $430.70 on Friday, down 1.3 percent, and lower than its 52-week high of $757 last October.

“They have a following of especially 20-somethings that other restaurants don’t have,” Marler said. “It’s a little odd, but it probably says something positive about Chipotle.

No, it says there’s a generation so much dumber than its parents.

But who am I to debunk an American myth.

Ironical that this video about American mythology was shot outside Melbourne. Chipotle blamed its E. coli outbreaks on Australian beef. Chipotle: local, fresh hypocrites.


Soap porn: Soap bar sales plunge as young people opt for hand wash

Richard Gray of the Daily Mail reports a fear of germs may be dooming the humble bar of soap as young, hygiene obsessed members of millennials turn to hand wash instead.

doolNew figures have revealed that young people aged between 18 and 24 are choosing liquid soap over the old fashioned bars.

Sales of soap bars in the US fell by 2.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015 even though the overall market for bath and shower products increased by 2.7 per cent, Mintel has found.

Most of this decline in the use of soap bars has been driven by younger consumers and women.

But it appears traditional bars of soap are still popular with older members of society, particularly men who are over the age of 60, perhaps adding to its old fashioned image.

The figures fit within a growing trend that shows consumers are turning their back on traditional soap bars – since 2010 the number of households using bar soap has dropped by five per cent.

While some of this may be partly driven by the growing range of soap products now available, Mintel found that nearly half of all US consumers believe soap bars are covered in germs after use.

This was most strong in those aged between 18 and 24-years-old – the cohort often identified as Generation Z, or more widely as millennials.

A generation so much dumber than its parents

Came crashing through the window.

See ya on the ice, eh: Canada waves goodbye to a national treasure

“There’s this fucking band you got to see

“They used to scare the living shit out of me”

gorddownieThat was written about Nirvana by Kingston, Ontario’s own Tragically Hip.

But it could equally apply to the Hip (this has nothing to do with food safety).

The first time I saw the Hip was in 1990 in a Waterloo, Ontario bar (that’s in Canada, the place where all those tech innovations come from) with my first wife who was pregnant with our second daughter.

From 1989-2000, the Hip was my soundtrack. I ran thousands of kilometers to Up to Here.

Jared Lindzon of Rolling Stone writes that countless better-known acts have come out of Canada, but if the nation ever had a true musical spokesperson, it might be Gord Downie, frontman and primary songwriter of the Tragically Hip. During their 32-year history, the band has notched countless hits – including 11 Top 10 Canadian singles – that many in the country can recite by heart.

But on May 24th, Canadians awoke to tragic news; the front page of every news site coast-to-coast announced that the singer’s days were numbered. “A few months ago, in December, Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer,” the band wrote on its Facebook page. 

Later that day Downie’s neuro-oncologist, Dr. James Perry, announced that Downie had undergone surgery to remove the bulk of the tumor, followed by six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, but a complete recovery was unlikely. “Unfortunately, one day it will come back,” he said at a Toronto press conference.

With the news of Downie’s diagnosis came one final opportunity to celebrate a cultural institution. On July 22nd the band will embark on a final Canadian tour to promote its 14th studio album, Man Machine Poem, which came out in June.

59854aSuperstars at home, the Tragically Hip have never achieved fame beyond Canada’s borders. Nine of their albums have reached the top spot on Canadian music charts, but in the United States, the band has never broken the Top 100. “This band could have been U2, if not for some unlucky breaks,” Barenaked Ladies singer-guitarist Ed Robertson told Rolling Stone. “The quality and the appreciation of this band is not unique to its Canadian-ness. It’s just happenstance that they’re not as big as the biggest bands in the world.”

In 2014 Rolling Stone listed the band as one of 20 Hugely Popular Musicians Who Haven’t Gotten Famous in America (Yet), and in a 2011 cover story featuring the Sheepdogs, the then-unsigned Canadian winners of RS’ “Choose the Cover” contest, author Austin Scaggs drew ire with his mention of the “awful yet extremely popular Canadian band, the Tragically Hip.”

“Having met them, none of them have ever [struck] me as people who wanted to be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine,” says Dallas Green, a Canadian musician who performs under the alias City and Colour, and was previously the lead singer and guitarist of Alexisonfire. “I think they’re just happy to be able to [continue performing], and that’s another reason why I love them.”

“[Interviewers] always ask us about our success or lack of success in the States, which I find absurd,” Downie once said. “While that is a story of the band, there are so many other stories.”

The more significant story of the Tragically Hip is one of mutual respect and appreciation between a country and one of its most prolific rock bands. The group’s lyrics often portray long-forgotten moments from the nation’s shared history, familiar scenes of Canadian life and, of course, hockey. The 1992 hit “Fifty Mission Cap” tells the story of Bill Barilko, the Toronto Maple Leaf defenseman who scored the 1951 Stanley Cup-winning goal before perishing in a plane crash. “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)” is dedicated to a mid-20th-century Canadian novelist, and “Wheat Kings” tells the story of David Milgaard, a Canadian wrongfully accused of murder.

As the Tragically Hip have paid tribute to their native country, Canada has celebrated them right back. In 2002 they earned a place on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and in 2012 their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, renamed the block outside of its downtown music venue Tragically Hip Way. In 2005 they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2013 the band was featured on a Canada Post stamp. A petition with nearly 70,000 signatures seeks to award the band with the Order of Canada, considered among the highest honors in the land, and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson has declared the date of the band’s final show in the city, July 26th, as Tragically Hip Day.

maxresdefaultAs news began to spread about Downie’s medical condition, many took to social media to pay their respects. Fellow Canadian musicians Sloan, Billy Talent, Nickelback, Death From Above 1979, Arkells, Hey Rosetta! and Matthew Good offered tributes and well-wishes to Downie. Even the Trailer Park Boys, who starred in the music video for the Tragically Hip’s “The Darkest One,” tweeted that they were “sending all our love and best wishes to the magnificent Gord Downie.”

“Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years,” tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I am lucky enough to have seen many Tragically Hip concerts throughout my life, and Gord Downie is someone I have an extraordinary amount of respect for,” the Prime Minister later elaborated at a press conference. “His status as an extraordinary Canadian creative force and icon is not to be understated. Mostly, he’s just a great guy, and I know I speak for all Canadians when I say, ‘We’re with you, Gord.'”

Downie’s generosity is often cited by those who know him personally, including Green, who met the singer in 2008. Struggling to finish a song he began writing in high school, Green found inspiration while listening to the Tragically Hip’s music, and after completing the track, he got in touch with Downie to ask if he would be interested in singing on the 2008 single “Sleeping Sickness.”

“One morning I got to the studio and he was already there,” he tells RS. “He had gotten up at six in the morning and drove from Kingston to Hamilton [Ontario] to sing and hang out with me at the studio. I’ll never forget sitting there with my headphones on, right beside him, watching him sing words that I wrote on one of my songs. It was one of the most surreal, magical experiences I have ever and will ever have. And then he just got in his car and drove back.”

The Tragically Hip’s final, 15-performance cross-Canada tour will begin in Victoria, British Columbia, and make its way east before concluding in Kingston on August 20th.

The nation’s public broadcaster, the CBC, will air that final show live. Small towns and major cities across the country have already announced public viewing parties, giving their citizens one final opportunity to celebrate their national treasure together.

Though Downie’s future is uncertain, Green and Robertson take some solace in knowing that the music will live on.

“This is one of the greatest bands of all time,” Green says. “And I don’t mean Canadian band – I mean they’re one of the greatest bands of all time. Their history speaks for itself. And Gord, specifically, he’s one of the greatest songwriters I’ve ever heard.”

“They’re a fucking amazing band, with one of the greatest frontmen ever in rock & roll,” adds Robertson. “It doesn’t go away after the last Hip tour. It’s not diminished at all by the fact that they’re bigger in Canada than anywhere else. The music stands for itself. It’s there, ready to be discovered and appreciated by anyone around the world.” 

“An Inch An Hour”

I want a book that’ll make me drunk

Full of freaks and disenfranchised punks

No amount of hate, no load of junk

No bag of words, no costume trunk

Could make me feel the same way

An inch an hour, two feet a day

To move through night in this most fashionable way

There’s this fucking band you got to see

They used to scare the living shit out of me

No frothing dog, no cool insanity

No rock and roll, no christianity

Makes me feel the same way

An inch an hour, two feet a day

To move through night with very little else to say

But I’m helpless less with the people than the space

No struggle town, no bemused Trudeau

No solitary walks through vacant lots in moon glow

Tonight the winter may have missed its mark

You can see your breath in springside park

Coffee coloured ice and peeling birch bark

The sound of rushing water in the dark

Makes me feel the same way

An inch an hour, two feet a day

To move through life with very little else to say

But I’m helpless more with the people than the space

I mean I’m helpless less with the people than the space

You see, I don’t know Neil, I don’t know Neil

Music festivals are great; for pathogens too

I was at a kids birthday party recently when a parent familiar with my Canadian heritage mentioned to me that the Tragically Hip’s 2016 tour would be a string of depressing events.

Maybe, I dunno.the_tragically_hip___gord_downie_iii_by_basseca-d5grhdt

Gord Downie, the Hip’s lead singer, has terminal brain cancer and their 10 city tour is a farewell, according to the band’s website.

So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…

We’ve decided to do another one.

This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.

I’ve seen the Hip a handful of times, a few at outdoor festivals; each time it’s been more of a community gathering than a concert. Sorta like Canada’s version of the Grateful Dead or Jimmy Buffet experiences. Except with hockey, the Group of Seven and loons.

Doug’s post yesterday reminded me of the excitement at these festivals:

Heavy drinking; lots of other substances; the pit where sweaty bodies are smashed up against each other; and, folks using bushes and other places to poop and pee to avoid the lines at the port-a-potties.

And maybe it’ll rain and move the excrement around.

Here’s a great review of outdoor festival-linked outbreaks over the past couple of decades. Spoiler alert – there are well over 10,000 illnesses reported.Gautret_tab2

Got raw egg in those salad dressings? Panera’s head chef says go back to basics

Every time a rock and roll band I’ve previously liked but haven’t liked so much lately says, we’ve gone back to our roots, we’re back to basics with this new album, I know it will suck.

It’s like saying, trust me. If you have to say it, you you’re not trustworthy.

So when the head chef of Panera Bread Co. says they’ve started making their salad dressing in house because “we have a pantry of ingredients that are wholesome and clean,” I wonder, has this so-called chef ever heard of salmonella-in-pepper? Raw eggs? Is this another Chipotle waiting to happen?

Dan Kish, head chef and senior vice-president of food at St. Louis-based bakery-cafe company Panera, said it was a big deal when the 2,000-strong chain began serving salads with a green goddess dressing made in-house.

“Being a big company, you have someone else make your salad dressings for you because that’s what big companies do, and they do it really efficiently and the specs are right on, and, man, is it cheap. But two weeks ago, we started making our green goddess dressing in-house because I said, ‘If you can make a smoothie, you can make a dressing.’ It’s not as easy as it sounds, of course, but we have a pantry of ingredients that are wholesome and clean.”

Mr. Kish discussed Panera Bread’s disruptive strategies during a panel presentation at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, held May 21-24 in Chicago. About a year ago, the chain published its No No List of ingredients that will not be used to formulate its products, including colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners from artificial sources. The company committed to removing these ingredients from its menu items by the end of 2016.

Is Salmonella on your no-no list? How about E. coli? Norovirus?

“Our customers didn’t have a problem with our dressing,” he said. “They didn’t even have a problem with artificial preservatives, necessarily… but we think the future is in eating better, and if I had to hitch my wagon to anything, I would want to be making better food and not mediocre food. I would want to make it accessible because this notion of accessibility, affordability and convenience (in fast-food), none of that has changed.”

Though the decision to convert Panera’s entire menu to simple ingredients initially “dropped a lot of jaws inside the company,” he said, the initiative fit within the brand’s core values.

“We didn’t have to change who we are,” Mr. Kish said. “All we had to do was just think a little more deeply about what that means in today’s terms and for today’s customer and today’s economics, and the answer sort of popped up. So this notion of knowing who you are and staying true to that is really the key.”

Through the process, he added, Panera’s food safety standards have remained as stringent as ever. “Because, trust me, unsafe clean food can be a really bad thing for everyone.”

There’s that trust me thing.

When all these people say food safety is their top priority, ‘I swear, I swear I’m on the verge’

It’s sort of a Hip morning here, letting the hockey adrenaline run through the system.

The_Tragically_Hip_FireworksFSIS Notice 04-16, 1/20/16

  1. Purpose

On January 25, 2016, FSIS will launch a year-long pilot project to assess whether retailers are using the recommendations in the FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens (FSIS Retail Lm Guideline).This notice provides instructions to the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA), Compliance and Investigations Division (CID) Investigators, on how to complete the Ready-To-Eat (RTE) Retail Deli Tool, a questionnaire in the Public Health Information System (PHIS) that will help Investigators compare the practices observed in retail delis to the FSIS Retail Lm Guideline in the following areas: product handling, cleaning and sanitizing, facility and equipment controls, and employee practices. This notice also provides instructions to Investigators on how to conduct outreach at retail firms that slice or prepare deli products during their in-commerce surveillance activities.

  1. Background
  2. The FSIS Retail Lm Guideline provides specific recommendations that retailers can use in the deli area of their operations to control Lm contamination of RTE meat and poultry products. The guidance highlights recommendations based on an evaluation of retail conditions and practices documented in the Interagency Risk Assessment–Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens (Interagency Retail Lm Risk Assessment). The FSIS Retail Lm Guideline includes information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code, scientific literature, other guidance documents, and lessons learned from FSIS verification sampling and from reviewing sanitation programs for Lm controls in meat and poultry processing establishments. The FSIS Retail Lm Guideline sets out recommendations rather than requirements.
  3. As mentioned above, FSIS is launching a year-long, nationwide pilot project to measure the status of retailers’ voluntary adoption of the recommendations in the FSIS Retail Lm Guideline. FSIS will not perform sampling at retail. The Data Analysis Staff, Office of Data Integration and Food Protection, will analyze the results monthly, and the quarterly results will be posted on the FSIS Web site in a Constituent Update.

 III. Outreach

  1. When conducting in-commerce surveillance at a retail firm that slices or prepares deli products, Investigators are to provide the firm’s management with the tri-fold brochure, Guidance for Controlling

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens. The brochure is available in English and Spanish on FSIS’s Web site at . Printed copies of the brochure can be obtained through supervisory channels. Investigators are to provide this information as part of the education and outreach they perform to provide regulatory food safety, food defense, and other compliance information to in-commerce businesses, owners and operators, employees, and others.

  1. In addition, Investigators are to provide the firm’s management with a copy of the letter that explains FSIS’s pilot project. The letter can be obtaion through supervisory channels.
  2. RTE Retail Deli Tool

When conducting in-commerce surveillance at a retail firm that slices or prepares deli products, Investigators are to complete the RTE Retail Deli Tool in PHIS.

Investigators are not to ask the firm’s manager or employees to answer the questions in the RTE Retail Deli Tool. Investigators are to make independent observations. Investigators may request records in addition to those required to be kept under 9 CFR 320.1 or 381.175 (e.g., records that show the firm is cleaning every four hours or rotating sanitizers) in order to identify industry practices and to determine whether the firm is following the FSIS Retail Lm Guidelines. Investigators may also make inquires to clarify their findings.

After completing the RTE Deli Tool in PHIS, Investigators are to discuss any vulnerability that they observed with the firm’s manager or employees.

  1. Questions

Refer questions regarding this notice through askFSIS. When submitting a question, use the Submit a Question tab, and enter the following information in the fields provided:

Subject Field: Enter Notice 04-16

Question Field: Enter your question with as much detail as possible.

Product Field: Select General Inspection Policy from the drop-down menu.

Category Field: Select Sampling: Listeria from the drop-down menu.

Policy Arena: Select Domestic (U.S.) Only from the drop-down menu.

When all fields are complete, press Continue and at the next screen press Finish Submitting Question.

Daniel Engeljohn

Assistant Administrator

Office of Policy and Program Development


Pilot project: control of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in retail delicatessens




‘We don’t have any magic’ Kathy Glass on Listeria in apples

Kathleen Glass started working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Food Research Institute 30 years ago, studying various microbes — primarily those turning up in the meat and dairy industries — and assisting with food safety investigations.

caramel.appleShe added her first fruit case last year with a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in caramel apples.

Now, Glass and other researchers are working to better understand the needs of the tree fruit industry in order to help growers, packers and retailers meet new food safety regulations and ensure the safety of their products.

“The meat and dairy industries had problems 20 years ago. That’s really when we found our religion when it comes to food safety,” Glass said.

Fruit growers didn’t have as much to worry

A couple of consecutive outbreaks with ready-to-eat meat products led to significant changes in cleaning and sanitation in that industry, Glass said, as well as the addition of growth inhibitors to meat products so that Listeria can’t grow during the normal shelf life.

The changes sparked a 42 percent decrease in cases from 1996 to 2012.

The World Health Organization estimates an infectious dose of Listeria at about 10,000 cells or more.

“Just a couple of Listeria in our food products probably is not going to make us sick. That means we need to focus on foods that support growth — perishable things you should refrigerate, those with the right amount of moisture and the right acidity level,” Glass told growers and packers at December’s Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting in Yakima, Washington.

Investigators eventually tied the Jan. 6, 2015, Listeria outbreak to a specific supplier of Granny Smith and Gala apples in California, marking the first direct tie of fresh whole apples to a serious food safety outbreak.

road.apples .tragicallyhipBut there were some novel things about the case, Glass said. Healthy children were getting sick from an unusual food source: caramel apples.

The apples were sanitized, dipped in hot caramel, and the pH of the apples was too low for minimum growth of the pathogen, which raised several questions.

Is this the work of a superbug? Are conditions present to allow growth? Could damage to the apple contribute?

Preliminary studies suggest that damage to apples could encourage microbial growth, Glass said. In this case, puncturing the apple with a stick allowed Listeria to translocate to the core.

In addition, deep depressions in apples may protect Listeria from hot caramel. Storage temperature also is an issue, with the apples stored at room temperature at retail, enabling Listeria growth.

Glass said it’s clear the industry is stepping up its efforts in the food safety arena and in environmental testing, which is the best way to determine if there’s an area of concern.

The problem is knowing if disinfectants are as effective as hoped.

“We have to try things that have been done elsewhere and apply things in different ways,” she said. “It’s a tough, tough thing, because they don’t have a great kill step. We don’t have any magic at this point, and more research is needed.”

Smart as trees in Sault Ste. Marie; EH Booths withdraws roasted monkey nuts

I normally don’t write about allergy recalls. Sure it’s part of food safety but there’s so many, and there’s so many other better sources of info.

road.apples .tragicallyhipBut when a company markets Monkey Nuts, I can’t help myself.

Might as well call them road apples (frozen pieces of horse shit in Canada).

EH Booths is withdrawing some batches of its Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts, because the presence of peanuts is not declared on the label. This makes the product a possible health risk to those who are allergic to peanuts. The Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.

While Three Pistols was the most popular song off the album, Road Apples, I was always a fan of Born in the Water, which is about when Sault Ste. Marie (that’s in Canada) tried to ban French. Amy may like that tale.