Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Download C.V. »

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Three Brit kids hospitalized after sickness bug outbreak at 5-star Menorca hotel

Charlotte Nisbet and Neil Murphy of the Mirror write that three British children have been hospitalised after a ‘frightening sickness bug’ outbreak at a five-star resort.

Louise Hunter, of St Helens, Merseyside, booked a family holiday to Insotel Punta Prima Resort & Spa, Menorca, Spain, with her husband Steven, 44, and their children Rosie, four, and Sarah, two.

Their trip quickly turned ‘hellish’ when Sarah woke in the early hours of the Sunday morning, May 3, having spent just one full day at the resort.

Louise, 36, says the toddler ‘projectile vomited in her sleep’ before both children became unwell with diarrhoea.

She claims both her children were later taken to a local hospital and given intravenous fluids and medication.

They consulted holiday illness compensation lawyers Hudgell Solicitors on their return after spending £2,000 on their all-inclusive holiday.

The legal specialists are now working with another family who have claimed they suffered a similar ordeal.

Jade Fulbrook, 33, booked her husband Dave and their family, a break for £2,800 between May 6 and 13 with their children, Zachary, 12, Buddy, six, Oscar 10 and three-year-old Bella, from Dorset.

Jade claims both herself and Oscar were hospitalised with acute gastroenteritis and dehydration after contracting a sickness bug at the resort.

The cause of the sickness bug is unknown, but solicitors are now investigating.

A TUI UK spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to hear of these customers’ experiences on their holiday. As this is now a legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

“We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of our hotels in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.”

It’s still a problem: Quality audits in food companies and the examination of technical data sheets

One of the main questions concerning raw materials and intermediates in the food industry is the definition of used ingredients by the legal viewpoint. In the ambit of quality management systems, the declaration of all possible components of a food or beverage product may concern or be correlated with some basic aspects, including the critical and reliable interpretation of technical data sheets concerning these products in the food and beverage industries by external and experienced auditors. Interestingly, the matter of technical data sheets appears to be always critical when speaking of food quality management.

In general, these documents should give clear answers, and auditors should be ready to understand and analyse these information. The aim of this chapter is to give reliable advices for interested food auditors with concern to the examination of technical data sheets for all possible ingredients in the food and beverage sector.

Springer Briefs in Molecular Science

Marco Fiorino, Caterina Barone, et al

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-22553-7_3

279 sick: Salmonella infections again linked to backyard poultry

People, seriously, stop kissing your chicks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that since the last update on May 16, 2019, illnesses in an additional 227 people and 20 states have been added to this investigation. Four Salmonella serotypes have also been added.

A total of 279 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 41 states.

40 (26%) people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

70 (30%) people are children younger than 5 years.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, from multiple hatcheries is the likely source of these outbreaks.

In interviews, 118 (77%) of 153 ill people reported contact with chicks or ducklings.

People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries.

One of the outbreak strains making people sick has been identified in samples collected from backyard poultry in Ohio.

People can get sick with Salmonella infections from touching backyard poultry or their environment. Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness.

Follow these tips to stay healthy with your backyard flock:

Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.

Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.

Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.

 

2 dead, 2,000 sick from campy in water in Norway

MRT reports that a  patient from a southern Norway island with contaminated water has died after being hospitalized with gastrointestinal symptoms, authorities said Thursday.

Erik Vigander of the regional hospital entity in southern Norway said the bacteria Campylobacter was found in the patient’s system. That’s the same bacteria identified in other people sickened since E. coli was found in a reservoir that supplied drinking water for the island of Askoey.

Vigander says the patient who died Wednesday also had “a very serious underlying” health disorder and an autopsy will be performed to determine “the ultimate cause of death.”

A 1-year-old child from the island died last week of an infection in the digestive tract, but it was not clear whether the death was linked to the water contamination.

About 2,000 people have fallen sick. Since June 6, 64 have been hospitalized.

Hospital tests have shown that Campylobacter was found in at least three dozen cases.

Local newspaper Askoeyvaeringen reported that there had been been safety issues with the waterworks in the Askoey municipality, and feces was recently found near a reservoir that supplied part of the area’s drinking water.

Australia still has an egg problem: Egg recall due to possible Salmonella

The NSW Food Authority advises that the following eggs are being voluntarily recalled by The Egg Basket Pty Ltd because they may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE):

Country Fresh Eggs Just Eggs, 600g, cardboard box

Chefs Choice Free Range, 700g, 30 pack tray

Chefs Choice Cage Free, 800g, 30 pack tray

The Use By dates are 14 June 2019, 20 June 2019, 24 June 2019, 29 June 2019, 5 July 2019, 9 July 2019 or you may identify the individual eggs through the stamp eb24449 on the shell.

The eggs were sold directly from The Egg Basket business in Kemps Creek, and at the Flemington Markets.

Consumers who may have purchased the eggs are advised they should not eat the eggs and to dispose of them in the garbage or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Proof of purchase is not required for recalled products.

CEO of the NSW Food Authority Dr Lisa Szabo said consumers may be aware of a higher number of SE related egg recalls in recent months due to a cluster of interconnected egg farms across the state.

“This recall is related to the detection of this particular organism”, Dr Szabo said.

As part of its response NSW DPI has increased surveillance and monitoring at poultry farms and where necessary has issued biosecurity directions to individual properties, including the quarantine of premises to stop movement of eggs into the marketplace.

Further information about how to reduce your food safety risk when consuming eggs can be found at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/eggs

A table of Australian egg-related outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx.

Should we be afraid of eating sprouts?

I don’t eat much lettuce either.

But I eat a lot of fruit and veg.

 I revealed last week I was nervous about doing a media interview, because I’ve been out of the game for a while, and my brain, just don’t work so well.

Fell again today and it hurt.

I have no balance.

But I still have a brain.

So when a U.S. reporter agrees to chat at 4 a.m. EST (6 p.m. EST) I say sure, because I’ve always been a media whore. How else to spread the message.

I particularily like the lede.

Kate Bernot of The Take Out wrote, “If you ask anyone in food safety, ‘What is the one food you will not eat?’ Raw sprouts tops the list, always.”

That’s one of the first sentences out of the mouth of Doug Powell, a former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog, a frequently updated site that publishes evidence-based opinions on food safety.

I’ve asked him whether food-safety fears about sprouts—those tiny, crunchy squiggles in your salad or sandwich—are well-founded. He tells me the public isn’t concerned enough about them.

“Risk is inherent in the nature of the product which is why Walmart and Costco got rid of them,” he says. (Kroger also stopped selling sprouts in 2012.) “This is not a new problem. It’s been going on for decades.”

According to a paper he and three colleagues published in the journal Food Control in 2012, sprouts have been responsible for at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people globally in the past two decades. The Food And Drug Administration tallies 46 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States linked to sprouts between 1996 and 2016, accounting for for 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations, and three deaths. In an effort to reduce these outbreaks, the FDA in 2017 collected 825 samples of sprouts from across the U.S.; 14 of those tested positive for E. coli, listeria, or salmonella.

The first reason sprouts—whether alfalfa or mung bean or radish or other varieties—can carry E. coli or salmonella bacteria has to do with how the sprouts are produced. The conditions that cause a seed to sprout are the same conditions that cause bacteria to breed: warm, moist air.

“The sprout is made from germinating seeds and the seeds themselves may be the source of the contamination. When you’re germinating a seed and growing a sprout, you’re providing conditions for the sprout growth that are ideal also for bacterial growth,” says Craig Hedberg, a professor in the School Of Public Health at University Of Minnesota. “This is a product that went through incubator-like circumstances.”

The second reason is related to how most of us consume sprouts: raw. Because we value sprouts’ crunch, we rarely cook them before adding them to a dish. Powell notes that people in many Southeast Asian countries do blanch their sprouts before cooking with them, but that the West tends to consume them raw.

The third reason sprouts can pose a risk is because even rinsing them won’t generally remove enough of the bacteria to keep an infected sprout from making a person sick. Hedberg says that even romaine lettuce, which has recently been associated with foodborne illness outbreaks, has a surface area that’s easier to wash than sprouts.

“The seeds can get contaminated as they’re growing, so the contamination can be internal,” Powell tells me. “So you’re never going to wash it off.”

Sprouts do have their defenders, though, who note higher levels of soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and mineral bioavailability compared to non-sprouted grains and vegetables. The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics statesthat “in general, the health benefits associated with savoring raw or lightly cooked sprouts outweigh risks for healthy individuals. However, be aware that there is risk of food poisoning if you plan to eat them.”

The FDA recommends cooking sprouts thoroughly to kill bacteria, and further advises that the elderly, children, people who are pregnant, and people with compromised immune systems should not eat sprouts at all. To further reduce your risk of sprout-related foodborne illness, the FDA says consumers can “request that raw sprouts not be added to your food.” So, bottom line, if you’re concerned—yeah, just don’t eat them. May we suggest beet slivers or carrot ribbons for crunch?

Hockey, dreams, are weird, so is the brain

I had this dream, where I was coaching on the ice in Brisbane for a few hours, helping do evaluations of kids – male and female – and running them through drills.

As the kids got changed and the girls were mixed in with the boys, I explained we had enough girls in Guelph that they had their own league, and as a coach, I wouldn’t go into the dressing room until they were all dressed, and after the game would debrief for a couple of minutes, and then say good bye outside.

After 3 hours of on-ice training I said I’m going home for an hour and would be back in an hour.

I started to put on my street clothes, realized it was dark outside, looked at my iPhone and saw it was 2 a.m.

I miss coaching, but my brain is doing too many weird things.

And in real-life I fall a lot

I’d post this to my other blog, but what’s left of my identity that I can remember is barfblog.com.This is why hockey is the best sport and all of my 5 daughters played or play.

And hockey hugs are the best.

It takes them away from dolls.

To win the Stanley Cup, a team needs 16 wins, 4 best of 7 rounds of hockey.

Half the teams have been golfing since Feb.

There’s a game 7 on right now, St. Louis is winning against Boston, attempting to avenge  their 1970 loss where Bobby Orr scored the winning goal in an iconic photo. All Canadians know that pic, and we all know Paul Henderson scoring against Russia in 1972.

We got out of grade school to watch the game in the gym.

Hockey matters, and now that my French professor wife has been playing for 4 years, she’s an expert.

Me, I’m retired due to brain and physical injuries, but 50 years of taking pucks to the head will do that.

St. Louis won.

Vaccines work, especially on that fecal-oral route: Increase in hepatitis A virus infections – U.S. 2013-2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable viral infection of the liver that is primarily transmitted through consumption of microscopic amounts of feces.

During 2016–2018, reports of hepatitis A infections in the United States increased by 294% compared with 2013–2015, related to outbreaks associated with contaminated food items, among men who have sex with men, and primarily, among persons who report drug use or homelessness.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Increasing vaccination among groups at risk for hepatitis A infection might halt ongoing outbreaks and prevent future outbreaks.

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is primarily transmitted fecal-orally after close contact with an infected person (1); it is the most common cause of viral hepatitis worldwide, typically causing acute and self-limited symptoms, although rarely liver failure and death can occur (1). Rates of hepatitis A had declined by approximately 95% during 1996–2011; however, during 2016–2018, CDC received approximately 15,000 reports of HAV infections from U.S. states and territories, indicating a recent increase in transmission (2,3). Since 2017, the vast majority of these reports were related to multiple outbreaks of infections among persons reporting drug use or homelessness (4). In addition, increases of HAV infections have also occurred among men who have sex with men (MSM) and, to a much lesser degree, in association with consumption of imported HAV-contaminated food (5,6). Overall, reports of hepatitis A cases increased 294% during 2016–2018 compared with 2013–2015. During 2016–2018, CDC tested 4,282 specimens, of which 3,877 (91%) had detectable HAV RNA; 565 (15%), 3,255 (84%), and 57 (<1%) of these specimens were genotype IA, IB, or IIIA, respectively. Adherence to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations to vaccinate populations at risk can help control the current increases and prevent future outbreaks of hepatitis A in the United States (7).

Hepatitis A infections among persons who meet the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) hepatitis A case definition (https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/conditions/hepatitis-a-acute/) are notified to CDC through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Cases reported to CDC through NNDSS during 2013–2018 were used to calculate percent change (2013–2015 versus 2016–2018) by state and mapped using RStudio software (version 1.2.1335; RStudio, Inc.). Serum specimens from CSTE confirmed cases submitted to the CDC laboratory were tested for HAV RNA by polymerase chain reaction, and isolated virus was amplified to characterize a 315–base-pair fragment of the VP1/P2B region, which defines the genotype of the virus.

Overall, reports of hepatitis A cases increased 294% during 2016–2018 compared with 2013–2015 (Figure). Eighteen states had lower case counts during 2016–2018 compared with 2013–2015. Nine states and Washington, DC had an increase of approximately 500%. During 2013–2018, 4,508 HAV anti-immunoglobulin M–positive specimens underwent additional testing at CDC. During 2013–2015, 226 specimens underwent additional testing, of which 197 (87%) had detectable HAV RNA; of the RNA-positive specimens, 76 (39%), 121 (61%), and 0 (0%) tested positive for a genotype IA, IB, or IIIA viral strain, respectively. In comparison, 4,282 specimens were tested by CDC during 2016–2018, of which 3,877 (91%) had detectable HAV RNA; 565 (15%), 3,255 (84%), and 57 (<1%) of these specimens were genotype IA, IB, or IIIA, respectively.

The number of hepatitis A infections reported to CDC increased during 2016–2018, along with the number of specimens from infected persons submitted to CDC for additional testing. In the past, outbreaks of hepatitis A virus infections occurred every 10–15 years and were associated with asymptomatic children (8). With the widespread adoption of universal childhood vaccination recommendations (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5507a1.htm), asymptomatic children are no longer the main drivers of hepatitis A outbreaks (3,9). Although the overall incidence rate of HAV infections has decreased within all age groups, a large population of susceptible, unvaccinated adults who were not infected by being exposed to the virus during childhood remain vulnerable to infection by contaminated foods (typically imported from countries with endemic HAV transmission) and recently, on a much larger scale, through behaviors that increase risk for infection in certain vulnerable populations, such as drug use (3).

Increasingly, molecular epidemiology is employed by public health laboratories to better characterize hepatitis A transmission patterns. When combined with reliable epidemiologic data, these laboratory data can be used to identify transmission networks and confirm the source of exposure during common-source outbreaks, facilitating prompt and effective public health response. Historically, genotype IA has been the most common genotype circulating in North and South America. During 2013–2018, HAV genotype IB predominated in the United States. Increasing numbers of genotype IIIA were seen, a genotype that is considered rare in the United States.

Decreasing new infections from hepatitis A virus can be achieved and sustained by maintaining a high level of population immunity through vaccination. There is no universal vaccination recommendation for adults in the United States; however, ACIP does recommend vaccination for adults who plan travel to HAV-endemic countries, MSM, persons who use drugs, persons with chronic liver disease, and recently, persons experiencing homelessness (7). Continued efforts to increase hepatitis A vaccination coverage among the ACIP-recommended risk groups is vital to halting the current hepatitis A outbreaks and reducing overall hepatitis A incidence in the United States.

Members of the Division of Viral Hepatitis Laboratory, Division of Viral Hepatitis HAV Incident Management Team, Food and Drug Administration CORE Signals Teams; state and local health departments; medical and mental health partners; corrections partners; syringe service providers.

Brain cloud: UK former Royal Marine tells of holiday Salmonella nightmare that left him a shell of a man

When ex-Royal Marine Commando Steve O’Connell caught salmonella on holiday, he never foresaw it ruining his life.

Trapped in a world of constantly being tired, he turned to medics for help.

Lisa Hutchinson of Chronicle Live writes following the initial trauma from the salmonella, he was diagnosed with ME or chronic fatigue syndrome.

And while Steve struggled with keeping up with the running of his successful business, he would have done virtually anything to get his old life back.

Now, after teaming up with specialist body-worker Adam Foster who put Steve through his paces with his own created recovery model, Steve is now fighting fit again and is back to gruelling circuit training and five mile runs after years of pain and fatigue.

Steve, 47, who owns Advantex Network Solutions Ltd in Gateshead with brother Dave, said: “In 2008 I contracted salmonella on holiday in Turkey and shortly after my recovery I started experiencing excruciating pains all over my body that were not associated with any sort of injury. 

“I would get arthritic pains, my eye balls felt like they were been squeezed, my muscles felt like I had just finished a 10-mile run and I even had pains in my teeth, not tooth ache but pains in my actual teeth.

“I also became very lethargic and tired – I thought I’d become lazy as I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything beyond basic tasks and if I did it would knock me on my back for days.

 “The worst thing though was the brain fog, imagine not been able to hold a sensible or coherent conversation for more than a couple of minutes. 

“I would sit in meetings disengaged and dazed trying so hard to not appear disinterested, giving all my energy to meetings with clients leaving little or no ability to hold meetings with colleagues or talk with my wife and three children when I got home.

“I think it’s safe to say for 10 years they didn’t have the husband or dad I wanted them to have.

Irony can be ironic

One of Chapman’s news collector students e-mailed me the other day and said, you’re worth $3 million, not bad.

Sorry but I’m worth about $300,000.

Seems there’s this web site, Idol Net Worth, that pegged me worth $3 million as of March 15, 2019.

Sure, have 5 daughters, 3 grandsons, a divorce and $300K in house renovations so it doesn’t slide down the hill, don’t be employed for 2 years and watch where the money goes.

Apparently me and Minnesota politician Orville Freeman both fought for food safety regulations.

What bullshit.

I write because I love it (and Terry tells me I’m OK at it).

I go to my church, the arena, because I love it, but I hate not being able to be involved (and Australians, even the Canadian ones, know shit about hockey; my wife who has been playing for 4 years is now an expert; FML)

I don’t know where my brain is going but am both frightened and fascinated.

I do know the only one who can fix this – even temporarily – is me.