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. »

Faith-based food safety: Unlicensed California food service fined after illnesses

AP News reports an unlicensed food delivery service in the Sacramento area has been fined more than $100,000 after several customers were sickened.

The owner of Anna’s Kitchen “repeatedly delivered hundreds of meals that had not been kept properly hot or cold for extended periods of time, increasing the likelihood of foodborne illness,” the Yolo County district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.

The business used the popular Chinese app WeChat to market its homemade Chinese food to Chinese foreign exchange students at the University of California, Davis, authorities said.

A health investigation began after several students reported becoming sick.

The business owner, Xin Jiang, agreed to settle a civil enforcement action by paying nearly $107,000 in costs and penalties. The agreement was approved by a judge last month.

Jiang admitted wrongdoing and is no longer operating Anna’s Kitchen but he could face another $90,000 in penalties if he reopens it or is found selling any type of food without a valid county permit, the DA’s office said.

Salmonella splashing on produce

Nearly one-half of foodborne illnesses in the United States can be attributed to fresh produce consumption. The preharvest stage of production presents a critical opportunity to prevent produce contamination in the field from contaminating postharvest operations and exposing consumers to foodborne pathogens. One produce-contamination route that is not often explored is the transfer of pathogens in the soil to edible portions of crops via splash water.

We report here on the results from multiple field and microcosm experiments examining the potential for Salmonella contamination of produce crops via splash water, and the effect of soil moisture content on Salmonella survival in soil and concentration in splash water. In field and microcosm experiments, we detected Salmonella for up to 8 to 10 days after inoculation in soil and on produce. Salmonella and suspended solids were detected in splash water at heights of up to 80 cm from the soil surface. Soil-moisture conditions before the splash event influenced the detection of Salmonella on crops after the splash events—Salmonella concentrations on produce after rainfall were significantly higher in wet plots than in dry plots (geometric mean difference = 0.43 CFU/g; P = 0.03). Similarly, concentrations of Salmonella in splash water in wet plots trended higher than concentrations from dry plots (geometric mean difference = 0.67 CFU/100 mL; P = 0.04).

These results indicate that splash transfer of Salmonella from soil onto crops can occur and that antecedent soil-moisture content may mediate the efficiency of microbial transfer. Splash transfer of Salmonella may, therefore, pose a hazard to produce safety. The potential for the risk of splash should be further explored in agricultural regions in which Salmonella and other pathogens are present in soil. These results will help inform the assessment of produce safety risk and the development of management practices for the mitigation of produce contamination.

Salmonella survival in soil and transfer onto produce via splash events

December 2019

Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 no. 12

DEBBIE LEE,1 MOUKARAM TERTULIANO,2 CASEY HARRIS,2 GEORGE VELLIDIS,2 KAREN LEVY,1* and TIMOTHY COOLONG3

https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-066

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-066?af=R

Lamb mince as a source of toxo in Australia

Objective: Toxoplasmosis may follow consumption of undercooked meat containing Toxoplasma gondii cysts. Lamb is considered to pose the highest risk for contamination across meats. Red meat is often served undercooked, yet there are no current data on T. gondii contamination of Australian sourced and retailed lamb. We sought to address this gap in public health knowledge.

Methods: Lamb mincemeat was purchased at the supermarket counter three times weekly for six months. T. gondii was detected by real‐time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of DNA extracted from the meat following homogenisation. Purchases were also tested for common foodborne bacterial pathogens.

Results: Conservative interpretation of PCR testing (i.e. parasite DNA detected in three of four tests) gave a probability of 43% (95% confidence interval, 32%–54%) that lamb mincemeat was contaminated with T. gondii. None of the purchases were contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella species or S. enterica serovar Typhimurium, indicating sanitary meat processing.

Conclusions: Australian lamb is commonly contaminated with T. gondii. Future studies should be directed at testing a range of red meats and meat cuts.

Implications for public health: Consuming undercooked Australian lamb has potential to result in toxoplasmosis. There may be value in health education around this risk.

Lamb as a potential source of toxoplasma gondii infection for Australians

December 2019

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Abby C. Dawson, Liam M. Ashander, Binoy Appukuttan, Richard J. Woodman, Jitender P. Dubey, Harriet Whiley, Justine R. Smith

https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12955

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.12955

First reported case of Shewanella haliotis in the region of the Americas—New York, December 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that on December 18, 2018, a man aged 87 years was evaluated in a hospital emergency department in Flushing, New York, for right lower abdominal quadrant pain. Evaluation included a computed tomography scan, which showed acute appendicitis with multiple abscesses measuring ≤3 cm. The patient was admitted, a percutaneous drain was placed, and 5 mL of an opaque jelly-like substance was aspirated and sent for culture and testing for antimicrobial sensitivities.

Gram stain of the culture revealed gram-negative rods, and culture revealed monomicrobial 1–2-mm yellowish-brown mucoid colonies. Sequencing of the isolate’s 16S ribosomal RNA revealed >99.8% homology with Shewanella haliotis strain DW01 in the GenBank database. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing indicated that the isolate was susceptible to aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, certain penicillins, and broad-spectrum cephalosporins. Biochemical tests were performed to characterize isolate.

Phylogenetic analysis indicates that S. haliotis strain DW01 is the most recent ancestor of this clinical isolate. This is the first documented case of a S. haliotis appendix infection.

S. haliotis is an emerging human pathogen, first isolated from abalone gut microflora in 2007 (1). The geographic distribution of human infections caused by S. haliotis is concentrated in Asia, with most reports coming from China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand (2). No cases of S. haliotis human infections had been reported in the World Health Organization’s Region of the Americas.

The patient was treated empirically with intravenous piperacillin-tazobactam while in the hospital and was discharged with a prescription for oral amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. At a follow-up visit 13 days later, he was recovering well. Empiric treatment of Shewanella spp. can be challenging; limited and varying antibiotic susceptibility profiles have been reported (2,3). This patient’s isolate was susceptible to several classes of antimicrobials, but resistance to certain antibiotics has been observed in this isolate and others (2). In a case series of 16 patients from Martinique, Shewanella spp. sensitivities to piperacillin-tazobactam and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid were reported to be 98% and 75%, respectively (3).

Risk factors for or potential vectors of Shewanella spp. infections are unidentified in up to 40%–50% of cases (4). S. haliotis is ecologically distributed in marine environments, including broad contamination of cultivated shellfish. Although infection following consumption of seafood is seldom reported (5), consumption of raw seafood could be an important vehicle for foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. This patient reported consuming raw salmon 10 days before becoming ill but had no other marine exposures or exposure to ill contacts. The time from potential exposure to onset of abdominal pain in this patient is consistent with that reported in the literature on Shewanella spp. (3–49 days). The epidemiologic exposure history supports the link between raw fish consumption and infection.

No other organisms were isolated in this patient; in the Martinique case series of Shewanella spp., one half of infections were monomicrobial as well (3). This case highlights the importance of preventing seafood-associated infections and the need to consider rare human pathogens in elderly or immunocompromised, marine-exposed populations, as well as persons who might consume at-risk food that might have been imported from outside the United States and persons who might have been infected outside the United States when traveling.

Raw is risky: UK Happy Hounds recalls frozen raw dog food products due to Salmonella

The Food Standards Agency reports Happy Hounds is recalling certain types of frozen raw dog food because salmonella has been found in the products.

Product details

Frozen Chicken & Beef Sleeve Dog Food
Pack size 1kg
Batch code 1205
Best before 3 September 2020
Frozen Chicken Mince Sleeve Dog Food
Pack size 1kg
Batch code 1205
Best before 3 September 2020

 

Frozen Chicken Mince Dog Food
Pack size 2.5kg (bag of 4)
Batch code 1205
Best before 3 September 2020

Risk statement

The presence of salmonella in the products listed above. Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause illness in humans and animals. The product could therefore carry a potential risk because of the presence of salmonella, either through direct handling of the pet food, or indirectly, for example from pet feeding bowls, utensils or contact with the faeces of animals.

In humans, symptoms caused by salmonella usually include fever, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. Infected animals may not necessarily display signs of illness, but symptoms can include diarrhoea.

Action taken by the company

Happy Hounds is recalling the above products. Point of sale notices will be displayed in all retail stores that are selling these products. These notices explain to customers why the products are being recalled and tell them what to do if they have bought the product.

Our advice to consumers

Our advice to pet owners: If you have bought any of the above products do not use them. Instead, return them to the store from where they were bought for a full refund. When handling and serving raw pet food it is always advised to clean utensils and feeding bowls thoroughly after use. Consumers should wash hands thoroughly after handling raw pet food, bowls, utensils or after contact with the faeces of animals. Raw pet food should be stored separately from any food (especially ready to eat foods). Care should be taken when defrosting to avoid cross contamination of foods and surfaces.

Norovirus outbreak leads to shellfish harvesting ban on stretch of Virginia river

WTVR reports health officials announced Saturday an extension of the ban on shellfish harvesting in the waters off Parrot Island in the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County.

The news comes after Virginia Department of Health officials banned the harvesting of oysters and clams in that stretch of the river on Dec. 27 following a Norovirus outbreak in Colorado linked to shellfish harvested from the area.

As a result, oysters harvested between Dec. 1, 2019 through Jan. 11, 2020 are being recalled.

The only oysters affected by the recall were shipped by Rappahanock River Oyster Company from lease numbers 18403, 18417, and 19260 in the Rappahanock River, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The company said the oysters were sold under the Emersum brand name.

Officials noted crabs and fin fish in the river are still safe to catch.

Raw is risky: 179 sick from oysters in France

Outbreak News Today reports that French health authorities (Santé publique France) say since December 2019, 179 compulsory declarations (DO) of collective food poisoning ( toxi-infection alimentaire collective-TIAC) ​​suspected of being linked to the consumption of raw shellfish, mainly oysters.

The reports come from the majority of regions in mainland France.

Seventy-seven percent of cases occurred since December 23, with the peak of patients being observed around December 25-27.

The symptoms, mainly diarrhea and vomiting, as well as the incubation times, are compatible with infections with norovirus or other enteric viruses. Stool tests performed to date by the National Reference Center for Gastroenteritis Viruses have confirmed the presence of norovirus and other enteric viruses.

The number of TIAC suspected of being linked to the consumption of raw shellfish is significantly higher than in previous years. Each year between 25 and 120 TIAC suspected of being linked to the consumption of shellfish are reported to Public Health France, of which between 4 and 30 occurred during the December-January periods.

Foodborne illness and the struggle for food safety

Public health advances step by step, as hazards are recognized and better control and prevention strategies are developed. How this happens, how new safety measures come into being, and how they are improved and become part of the way we live are the focus of this new book, Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety.

Professor Timothy D. Lytton, a keen scholar of regulatory evolution, provides a lively and well-documented guide to 150 years of major advances in food safety regulation and prevention in the United States. He starts with the early efforts to cleanse and regulate the milk supply in the 19th century that ultimately led to near-universal pasteurization. Efforts to make canned food free of botulism in the 1920s led to a new focus on critical control steps in processing, using sufficient time and heat to eliminate the risk, and thus to a new general approach based on process control. Modernizing meat inspection with process control logic in the 1990s and the recent efforts to make fresh produce safer in the 2000s take the reader to the controversies of the present day.

industry and regulators to follow. He also deftly outlines the complex roles of third-party auditors, who provide information to one company about the safety practices of its suppliers, and provides a fresh perspective on the growing role that liability insurers may play in the future.

This is history that uplifts, showing how we honor those who suffered from and died of a foodborne disease that is now preventable in the form of better practices and safer food today. In the crucible of public action, it reminds us all how these advances begin and, with feedback and learning, how they can succeed.

Foodborne illness and the struggle for food safety, December 2019

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 25 no. 12

Timothy D. Lytton

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/12/19-1192_article

Health update, and sprouts still suck

Amy and Sorenne came to visit me last night at the Clinical Facility I’ve been staying at for the past two weeks and we went out for dinner (the seafood was fabulous).

That’s me and the kid last night at dinner (right).

I checked myself in because I have been randomly falling when walking — the sidewalk just sorta rises up and I smash my head yet again. The other day I endured two seizures while eating lunch in the cafeteria and the docs present shipped me off to Emergency.

Long-time skeptics are finally agreeing with me that these things are happening because of genetics, booze (which is primarily to provide numbness to the fog upstairs but I’m going without) 50 years of pucks to the head, dozens of concussions, epilepsy and whatever else may be happening in that precious organ known as the brain.

So I haven’t been writing much.

They shipped out to New Caledonia this morning for Amy’s work for a few days, so I made sure I was taken care of so she wouldn’t have to worry.

It is seemingly impossible to get a sandwich or salad in Australia without it being covered in raw sprouts.

This is Amy’s salad from dinner last night (left).

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found here.

Australia’s food safety system falls well short

Adele Ferguson of The Age writes that food safety is again in the headlines following an investigation into the Grill’d burger chain.

The long list of food safety transgressions at hamburger chain Grill’d outlined in a series of leaked internal food and safety audit reports, internal documents, a council report, and dozens of photos from staff, triggered a social media backlash.

In an attempt to dilute the public’s disgust Grill’d announced it would hire a global food auditor to review its food safety and work practices.

But in the process of exposing the worker exploitation and uncleanliness scandal it became clear there was another scandal that has been festering away: an overall lack of enforcement by the relevant authorities of food hygiene regulations and fines that are so low they fail to act as a deterrent.

Take for instance, Grill’d in Windsor, Victoria, the local council, Stonnington, issued an inspection notice of “major non-compliance” in October 2018. It said it didn’t have effective cleaning systems in place, which is the basic requirement of any restaurant.

What was even more disturbing was the council admitting that the same non-compliances were happening every year and that “infringement notices may be issued if this continues”.

In other words, the council’s inspection notice and wishy-washy threats were ineffectual.

This was no better demonstrated in early December when a photo was taken and posted on The Age and Sydney Morning Herald websites of a mouse inside a tray of hamburger buns sitting on the floor at Grill’d in Windsor.

The council’s reaction was to keep the public in the dark. It refused to say how many years of non-compliance it had recorded at the Grill’d Windsor restaurant and its only reaction to the buns stored on the floor, which attracted a mouse in the pest infested restaurant, was that it would act if someone lodged a complaint.

On a broader level, it illustrates shortcomings in the food safety system in Australia. It seems the public only get to know what’s going on when it is too late.

The Victorian Health register of convictions of food safety is an eye-opener. In 2019 only a few cases went to court and received a conviction, which attracted a minuscule fine.

The laws may be strict but if they aren’t properly monitored and enforced then things fall apart.