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. »

Home-based food businesses in Alberta with “low-risk” products no longer require handling permits

This is why I avoid potlucks (not that anyone would invite Dr. food safety).

I have no idea of the kitchen prep area, nor the personal hygiene of the providerer.

According to David Opinko of Lethbridge News Now, the Government of Alberta (that’s in Canada) has made it easier for individuals to start or continue operating businesses out of their home that sell food.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says this will also help to increase the public’s access to locally grown or processed foods.

“This regulatory change maintains our standards for food safety, supports Alberta entrepreneurs, adds new jobs, and benefits the economy by giving Albertans new opportunities to buy locally produced foods. It also makes it easier than ever to turn your passion into a home business.”

Specifically, those who sell low-risk items, or ones that have a lower ability to create food-borne illnesses, will not require food-handling permits or be subject to inspections.

Uh-huh.

Ya don’t know unless ya test

Ya can’t test your way to a safe food supply, but ya can test to verify your food safety plans are working.

Testing to Additional Raw Beef Products

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.

SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing plans to expand its routine verification testing for six Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (non-O157 STEC; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, or O145) that are adulterants, in addition to the adulterant Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7, to ground beef, bench trim, and raw ground beef components other than raw beef manufacturing trimmings (i.e., head meat, cheek meat, weasand (esophagus) meat, product from advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems, partially defatted chopped beef and partially defatted beef fatty tissue, low temperature rendered lean finely textured beef, and heart meat)(hereafter “other raw ground beef components”) for samples collected at official establishments. STEC includes non-O157 STEC; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, or O145, that are adulterants, and E. coli O157:H7. Currently, FSIS tests only its beef manufacturing trimmings samples for these six non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157:H7; all This document is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on 06/04/2020 and available online at federalregister.gov/d/2020-12073, and on govinfo.gov 2 other aforementioned raw beef products are presently tested for E. coli O157:H7 only.

FSIS also intends to test for these non-O157 STEC in ground beef samples that it collects at retail stores and in applicable samples it collects of imported raw beef products. FSIS is requesting comments on the proposed sampling and testing of ground beef, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components. FSIS will announce the date it will implement the new testing in a subsequent Federal Register notice. Additionally, FSIS is responding to comments on the November 19, 2014, Federal Register notice titled “Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in Certain Raw Beef Products.” FSIS is also making available its updated analysis of the estimated costs and benefits associated with the implementation of its non-O157 STEC testing on raw beef manufacturing trimmings and the costs and benefits associated with the expansion of its non-O157 STEC testing to ground beef, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components.

Spinach can be persistently infected with Salmonella

When I was attempting a Masters degree (I never finished after almost three years, became a newspaper editor, then went back and got a PhD in Food Science; thanks Mansel for taking me on) looking at susceptible and resistant strains of tomato plants to Verticillium wilt, I had to inoculate these plants and walk up to the lab at all hours of the day and night to nurture and harvest the plants at prescribed times and look at their cells under a microscope – sometimes even electronic – and see what the fungus was doing.

That was 1985.

There have been improvements in technology.

The effects of using contaminated seed and water on the persistence and internalization of Salmonella Newport in organic spinach cultivars- Lazio, Space, Emilia and Waitiki were studied.

Seeds were contaminated by either immersing in a suspension of Salmonella and then sprouted or were sprouted in Salmonella contaminated water in the dark at 25 °C. After 5 days, germinated sprouts were analyzed for S. Newport population and internalization. Germinated sprouts were potted in soil and grown in a plant incubator for 4 weeks. Leaves, stems and roots were sampled for Salmonella population by plating on CHROMagar™. Plants surface-sterilized with chlorine were analyzed for internalized pathogen. Potting soil and water runoff were sampled for Salmonella after 4 weeks of plant growth.

Contaminated seeds and irrigation water had S. Newport populations of 7.64±0.43 log CFU/g and 7.12±0.04 log CFU/ml, respectively. Sprouts germinated using contaminated water or seeds had S. Newport populations of 8.09±0.04 and 8.08±0.03 log CFU/g, respectively and had a Salmonella population that was significantly higher than other spinach tissues (P<0.05). Populations of S. Newport in leaves, stem and roots of spinach plants were as follows: contaminated seed- 2.82±1.69, 1.69±0.86, and 4.41±0.62 log CFU/ml; contaminated water- 3.56±0.90, 3.04±0.31, and 4.03±0.42 log CFU/ml of macerated tissue suspension, respectively. Internalization was observed in plants developing from contaminated seeds and in sprouts germinated using contaminated water. S. Newport populations of 2.82±0.70 log CFU/g and 1.76±0.46 log CFU/ml were recovered from soil and water runoff, respectively.

The results indicate that contamination of spinach during germination can result in persistence, internalization and environmental reintroduction of Salmonella.

Contamination of spinach at germination: A route to persistence and environmental reintroduction by salmonella, 02 August 2020

International Journal of Food Microbiology

Govindaraj Dev Kumar, Jitendra Patel, Sadhana Ravishankar

https://arizona.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/contamination-of-spinach-at-germination-a-route-to-persistence-an

It’s been done before: Porn stars deployed in New Zealand government’s online safety campaign-video

A New Zealand government advertising campaign aimed at promoting online safety for under 18s features two naked ‘porn stars’. The adult actors knock on the door of a family home to tell the mother ‘your son’s been watching us online’. The stunned mother listens as she is told that porn stars don’t talk about consent and ‘just get straight to it’. ‘Yeah, and I’d never act like that in real life,’ the male porn star says. The Keep It Real Online series also includes videos addressing cyberbullying, grooming by paedophiles, and the ease of children’s access to violent content.

It’s only a movie, but 2004’s The Girl Next Door, featuring Canadian Elisha Cuthbert features porn stars making a sex-ed tape.

Raw is still risky: Six years after a toddler died, Australian advocates want raw milk back on the table

In late 2014, three children in the Australian state of Victoria developed hemolytic uremic syndrome linked to Shiga-toxin toxin producing E. coli in unpasteurized bath milk produced by Mountain View Dairy Farm. One child died, and two others developed cryptosporidiosis.

The Victorian government quickly banned the sale of so-called bath milk, which although labeled as not fit for human consumption, was a widely recognized way for Australian consumers to access raw milk.

What followed was a despicable whisper campaign that the child who died had an underlying medical condition, it wasn’t Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC), farmers were losing access to lucrative markets – anything but the basic and sometimes deadly biology of STECs and everything involving fantasy and fairytales.

Victorian Dairy farmer Vicki Jones was told in 2014 by the coroner that raw milk was the likely cause of death of a three-year-old boy in 2014.

The milk was ‘raw’, or unpasteurised, and Ms Jones’ Mountain View Dairy Farm had been selling it as bath milk — a cosmetic product labelled ‘not fit for drinking’. 

Ms Jones said she told the officer she would immediately remove the milk from the shelves of local stores. 

“And he said to me, ‘No, no, no, don’t do that. You’ve done nothing wrong and all your labelling is right’.”

In hindsight, Ms Jones said this response “was really bizarre” — as was the decision to wait months before telling her about the cases.

But then the health officer told her a three-year-old boy had died after drinking the bath milk. 

“It was the most devastating news that you could possibly imagine ever getting,” she said.

“I was mortified, we were doing the raw milk because people wanted it.”

Or because you contributed to promoting BS.

A Gippsland MP, the father of the child who died, and evidence presented to the coroner have all questioned how the cases were managed and suggested other contributing factors were overlooked.

Mark Wahlqvist, an Emeritus professor of medicine at Monash University and former president of the international union of nutrition sciences, said, “Raw milk, unpasteurised milk, is not safe enough to be in the public domain.”

Professor Wahlqvist said he was open to new research but at present, found campaigners for raw milk to be more than unconvincing.

“When people for conspiratorial reasons rather than scientific reasons, think that vaccination is a problem or that pasteurisation is a problem,” he said.

“We have a science communication problem in this country and it needs science leaders.”

From the duh files: 19% of Americans have put bleach on food to kill coronavirus, sanitizer sold as gin in Australia

Survey results published last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), revealed that 39% of the Americans surveyed have done high-risk things with household cleaners in attempts to stay safe from the Covid-19 coronavirus. That’s based on a web-based survey administered to a nationally-representative sample of 502 adults on May 4. Surveys still suck, but it provides some sort of insight into where people are at after three months of isolation.

These high-risk activities included drinking or gargling diluted bleach solutions, soapy water, and other cleaning and disinfectant solutions, which 4% of the survey respondents said they have done. It also including trying to clean their hands or skin (18%) or misting their bodies (10%) with household cleaning and disinfectant products.

But the most common high-risk thing to do was applying bleach to food items such as fruits and vegetables, which 19% did. Umm, don’t do this. Your food isn’t a bathroom tile. You can’t just apply bleach to food and then expect to wipe it off completely. Anything that you put on food could potentially seep into the food and eventually make it into your mouth, assuming that’s where you end up putting your food.

Victoria’s Apollo Bay Distillery (that’s in Australia) has recalled its SS Casino Dry Gin as a number of the 700ml bottles were filled with hand sanitiser. The liquor company said the recall affects nine bottles sold from June 5-7 2020.

The bottles were sold at Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in Victoria, according to a statement from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The food safety group said that Apollo Bay Distillery’s gin was recalled as it was labelled as gin, but does not contain gin. FSANZ said the product had non-compliant labelling and did not have a shrink wrap seal.

The bottles contain 1.45 per cent glycerol and 0.125 per cent hydrogen peroxide, which may cause illness when consumed. FSANZ advised consumers not to drink it as it may result in harmful side effects such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, bloating, vomiting, thirst and diarrhea.

And on the 40th anniversary of the release of The Blues Brothers, which helped to once again revitalize American knowledge of the country’s musical wonderfulness, enjoy.

Raw is risky: Yes, for dogs too

There’s a subset of pet guardians who feverishly believe raw food is the only food for dogs and cats and other pets because that’s all that was available in the wild.

As Hobbes noted in 1651, nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Dogs too.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced last week that Carnivora Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs and Cats may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157 (E. coli) and there is risk of cross contamination and illness after handling.

Consumers should immediately stop using any of the affected pet food products and contact the retailer where they purchased the affected product for a full refund or exchange.

As of June 12, 2020, the company has been made aware of 4 reports of illnesses in Canada – in people.

Consumers are advised to always wash hands, surfaces and utensils thoroughly with soap and water after feeding, handling or cleaning up after pets. Clean surfaces that come into contact with pet food or ill pets.

One of daughter Sorenne’s daily tasks is to give stress-reducing wet food to our neurotic cat, and she absolutely knows to wash her hands after handling the food.

Scott Weese over at the Worms and Germs blog writes that while people were presumably not eating the pet food (I wouldn’t presume that), there is the potential for cross-contamination of human food when handling raw pet food, as well as potential for exposure to pathogens through things like contact with pet food bowls and pet feces.

The main concern with raw pet food tends to be Salmonella; however, E. coli O157 is another significant concern because of the  potential severity of disease. A death was reported in a UK a couple years ago from exposure to E. coli O157 from contaminated pet food.

While most dogs and cats that eat raw diets are fine, and most owners don’t get sick, it’s clear that feeding raw diet or raw animal-based treats (e.g. pig ears) is associated with risks to the pet and any human contacts. I’d rather people not feed raw diets to their pets, particularly when the pet or household members are very young, elderly, pregnant or have compromised immune systems. If none of those risk factors are present and someone wants to feed a raw diet, I’d still rather they didn’t, but there are some things that can reduce the risks, as outlined on the Worms & Germs infosheet on raw diets available on our Resources – Pets page.

Oh, and don’t go to the company’s website for accurate information about risk and risk mitigation. They bury some good prevention recommendations in a pile of often out-of-context dialogue to try to deflect any concerns and the typical raw diet misinformation. Some other raw pet food companies are up front about the risks and prevention measures – I have a lot more confidence in companies like that.

Good on ya, Dr. Weese.

Is quarantine the right time to get a puppy?

Yes

We got George, to go with Ted,  a few weeks ago when he was 8 weeks old.

I’ve had turtles that small but never a dog

Ronda Kaysen of the New York Times asked the same question a week ago.

For Julie Taylor, a TV writer and producer in Glendale, Calif., the answer was two.

Stuck at home with her husband and two teenage children following coronavirus stay-at-home orders, she started to get the itch in mid-March for something furry, happy and oblivious to the stress going on around her.

“It hit me pretty much as soon as we locked down. I really wanted a dog,” said Ms. Taylor, 48. “I can turn on the news at night and three hours later I’m still watching. I get sucked in. I was hoping a dog could help me be more in the moment.”

So earlier this month, the family adopted an 8-month-old pug named Bentley from a friend of a friend, immediately transforming their home life from gloomy to giddy. For the teenagers, the puppy offered a reprieve from the disappointment of a stunted social life. Bentley “has been a fast distraction,” Ms. Taylor said. “He’s added a lot of life into the house.”

On Petfinder.com, adoption inquiries in the four weeks between March 15 and April 15 jumped 122 percent from the previous four weeks. Americans are fostering, too, as shelters look to empty their facilities during the pandemic. Since March 15, more than 1,500 people have completed online foster applications for the ASPCA’s New York City and Los Angeles foster programs, a 500 percent increase compared to typical application numbers usually seen in this period.

“Bringing a new life into a home is an act of optimism,” said Judith Harbour, a licensed clinical social worker for the Animal Medical Center on East 62nd Street in Manhattan, pointing out that many animals in shelters need homes now. “So there is an idea that some people might have: I can do this good thing right now.”

A pet is also a way to wrestle control back into a life that feels unmoored. Our routine may be thrown, but dogs still need to be walked, fed, cleaned and nurtured. A pet’s schedule gets us out of bed and maybe even out of our pajamas and onto the street for some fresh air.

Coronavirus and chicks: Risk remains

As coronavirus increases, many have taken to old timey ways of raising food.

Careful with that.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports the outbreak strain of Salmonella Hadar has een reported from 28 states.

17 people (34% of those with information available) have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

30% of ill people are children younger than 5 years of age.

Epidemiologic evidence shows that contact with backyard poultry (such as chicks and ducklings) is the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, 38 (86%) of 44 ill people reported contact with chicks and ducklings.

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

Advice to Backyard Flock Owners

You can get sick with a Salmonella infection from touching backyard poultry or their environment. These birds can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean and show no signs of illness. Follow these tips to stay healthy with your backyard flock:

Wash your hands.

Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, 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.

Be safe around poultry.

Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

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.

Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.

Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages and containers for feed or water.

Supervise kids around poultry.

Always supervise children around poultry and while they wash their hands afterward.

Children younger than 5 years of age shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella.

Handle eggs safely.

Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.

Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg though a cracked shell.

Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned carefully with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth.

Don’t wash warm, fresh eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.

Refrigerate eggs after collection to maintain freshness and slow germ growth.

Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or hotter. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.

For a complete list of recommendations, visit the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website section on backyard poultry.

My friend, veterinarian, University of Guelph prot and OK hockey player writes in his Worms and Germs blog, Scott Weese I’m not anti-backyard chickens. I’m anti-“spending the weekend on the toilet” and anti-“seeing people hospitalized unnecessarily” and, I guess, just anti-Salmonella and anti-Campylobacter in general. I can’t see any redeeming qualities of those bacteria, at least in people.

From the duh files: FDA says cows may have caused E. coli lettuce contamination, gumshoes are needed

Lettuce and leafy greens are overrated.

Outbreaks of E. coli illness sickened 188 people last year who ate romaine lettuce in three separate outbreaks.

There have been so many outbreaks going back to spinach in 2006, and beyond that, my favorite salad now is a Greek  salad – without the lettuce.

If the Leafy Greens Marketing Association was as rigorous as its press releases maintain this would be minimized.

Instead, between 2009 and 2018, federal authorities identified 40 food-borne outbreaks of E. coli in the U.S. “with a confirmed or suspected link to leafy greens,” the FDA said.

Investigators concluded the most recent outbreaks were centered on ranches and fields owned by the same grower and that were located downslope from public land where cattle grazed.

So if LGMA is doing internal audits, why didn’t they notice this dude?

Because it’s PR not gumshoes, people out in the field.

We figured out 20 years ago that gumshoes are required.

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published the findings of an investigation into the contamination of romaine lettuce implicated in three outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 during the Fall of 2019.

The investigation was conducted at several farms identified in the outbreak tracebacks, as well as at other businesses and public access areas and resulted in several key findings:

Each of these three outbreaks, identified in the report as Outbreaks A, B and C was caused by distinctly different strains of E. coli O157:H7 as determined by whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis;

Traceback investigations of multiple illness sub-clusters and supply chain information identified a common grower with multiple ranches/fields which supplied romaine lettuce during the timeframe of interest to multiple business entities associated with all three outbreaks. 

The same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused Outbreak A was found in two different brands of fresh-cut salads containing romaine lettuce in 2019;

This same outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in Outbreak A was detected in a fecal–soil composite sample taken from a cattle grate on public land less than two miles upslope from a produce farm with multiple fields tied to the outbreaks by the traceback investigations;

Other strains of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), while not linked to any of the  outbreaks, were found in closer proximity to where romaine lettuce crops were grown, including two samples from a border area of a farm immediately next to cattle grazing land in the hills above leafy greens fields and two samples from on-farm water drainage basins.

These findings, together with the findings from earlier leafy greens outbreaks dating back to 2013, suggest that a potential contributing factor has been the proximity of cattle—a persistent source of E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC—to the produce fields identified in traceback investigations.

Because of  the reoccurring nature of outbreaks associated with leafy greens, the FDA recently released a 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan, which outlines a three-pronged approach for tackling this problem.  It describes the FDA’s plans for working with industry, federal partners, state and local regulators, academia and others to address the safety of leafy greens by advancing work in three areas: prevention, response, and addressing knowledge gaps.

Outbreak investigation of E. coli: Romaine from Salinas, California (November 2019)

21.may.20

FDA

https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/outbreak-investigation-e-coli-romaine-salinas-california-november-2019