You think that chicken is done? It’s not done (or it’s burnt)

About one third of foodborne illness outbreaks in Europe are acquired in the home and eating undercooked poultry is among consumption practices associated with illness. The aim of this study was to investigate whether actual and recommended practices for monitoring chicken doneness are safe.

Seventy-five European households from five European countries were interviewed and videoed while cooking chicken in their private kitchens, including young single men, families with infants/in pregnancy and elderly over seventy years. A cross-national web-survey collected cooking practices for chicken from 3969 households. In a laboratory kitchen, chicken breast fillets were injected with cocktails of Salmonella and Campylobacter and cooked to core temperatures between 55 and 70°C. Microbial survival in the core and surface of the meat were determined. In a parallel experiment, core colour, colour of juice and texture were recorded. Finally, a range of cooking thermometers from the consumer market were evaluated.

The field study identified nine practical approaches for deciding if the chicken was properly cooked. Among these, checking the colour of the meat was commonly used and perceived as a way of mitigating risks among the consumers. Meanwhile, chicken was perceived as hedonically vulnerable to long cooking time. The quantitative survey revealed that households prevalently check cooking status from the inside colour (49.6%) and/or inside texture (39.2%) of the meat. Young men rely more often on the outside colour of the meat (34.7%) and less often on the juices (16.5%) than the elderly (>65 years old; 25.8% and 24.6%, respectively). The lab study showed that colour change of chicken meat happened below 60°C, corresponding to less than 3 log reduction of Salmonella and Campylobacter. At a core temperature of 70°C, pathogens survived on the fillet surface not in contact with the frying pan. No correlation between meat texture and microbial inactivation was found. A minority of respondents used a food thermometer, and a challenge with cooking thermometers for home use was long response time. In conclusion, the recommendations from the authorities on monitoring doneness of chicken and current consumer practices do not ensure reduction of pathogens to safe levels. For the domestic cook, determining doneness is both a question of avoiding potential harm and achieving a pleasurable meal. It is discussed how lack of an easy “rule-of-thumb” or tools to check safe cooking at consumer level, as well as national differences in contamination levels, food culture and economy make it difficult to develop international recommendations that are both safe and easily implemented.

Cooking chicken at home: common or recommended approaches to judge doneness may not assure sufficient inactivation of pathogens, 29 April 2020

PLOS One

Solveig Langsrud, Oddvin Sørheim, Silje Elisabeth Skuland, Valérie Lengard Almli, Merete Rusås Jensen, Magnhild Seim Grøvlen, Øydis Ueland, Trond Møretrø

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230928

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230928

15 sick: Valentine’s Day outbreak at Washington restaurant linked to chicken liver mousse

Because when I think love and romance, I think chicken liver mousse.

On February 25, 2020, the Grays Harbor County Environmental Health Division learned that a Grays Harbor County resident tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni.  The individual reported a meal at Rediviva Restaurant in Aberdeen, WA on February 14, 2020 as part of their food history.  During the subsequent investigation, Environmental Health learned of at least fourteen more individuals who became ill after eating the Valentine’s Day dinner meal.

Environmental Health believes that the illness was caused by chicken liver mousse.

A site inspection of the facility was conducted on February 26th that revealed multiple risk factors that could have contributed to illness.  Rediviva Restaurant was closed by Environmental Health on February 27th because the inspection resulted in the assignment of 75 or more “red point” violations. Further information regarding the inspection may be viewed on the Grays Harbor County Environmental Health website at https://healthspace.com/Clients/Washington/GraysHarbor/Web.nsf/home.xsp

Rediviva is cooperating with the outbreak investigation and remains closed at this time.

The Valentine’s Day dinner menu continued to be served at Rediviva Restaurant from February 13th through February 21st. 

Campy linked to poultry liver pate

Despite a sizeable evidence base for the risk of campylobacteriosis associated with eating chicken liver pâté, associated outbreaks continue to occur. In January 2017, six cases of campylobacteriosis reported having eaten a Christmas set-menu meal at the same hotel in North Yorkshire, England on the same day. A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to test the null hypothesis that consumption of individual food items was not associated with an increased risk of illness.

There were 19 cases of campylobacteriosis linked to the outbreak; seven confirmed and 12 probable cases. Chicken liver pâté was the food item most strongly associated with illness (P < 0.001) with a corresponding high crude relative risk (12.95). This relationship was supported by multivariable analysis, sensitivity analyses and a clear dose–response relationship. Three cases reported an incubation period of <24 h, consistent with other outbreaks of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of poultry liver. The findings were suggestive of a single point source exposure with a strong association between the consumption of chicken liver pâté and campylobacteriosis.

This outbreak highlights that despite evidence that simple cooking techniques can ensure that all campylobacter are killed during cooking, outbreaks continue to occur. Public and professional awareness needs to be raised through a strategic communication plan to reduce the risk of further outbreaks of campylobacteriosis linked to incorrectly cooked chicken liver dishes.

An outbreak of campylobacteriosis at a hotel in England: the ongoing risk due to consumption of chicken liver dishes

Epidemiology and Infection vol. 148 no. 32

Wensley (a1)S. Padfield (a1) (a2) and G. J. Hughes (a1

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S095026882000028X

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/an-outbreak-of-campylobacteriosis-at-a-hotel-in-england-the-ongoing-risk-due-to-consumption-of-chicken-liver-dishes/94DE2951174C2C652921BE05A9C20B6E

Reducing campy in poultry processing

Campylobacter persistence through poultry processing is an important food safety issue in many developed countries. This investigation aimed to determine the effectiveness of peracetic acid (PAA) in reducing Campylobacter during processing. 

Campylobacter jejuni was tested against PAA using laboratory-based food matrices under conditions that mimicked commercial poultry processing interventions, including scalding and chilling. The assessments utilised two Campylobacter poultry strains (2674 and 2704) with testing performed in three different food matrices (Buffered peptone water (BPW), chicken breast meat and meat-based broth) and under eight processing conditions. Campylobacter inactivation was measured across eight processing conditions which mimicked scalding (3.5 min, 54.5 °C and 57 °C) and chilling (30 min, 4 °C, with/without 80 ppm PAA), and combinations of scalding and chilling (with/without 80 ppm PAA).

The organic matter in the meat-based broth protected Campylobacter against PAA, resulting in less Campylobacter inactivation compared to BPW and meat matrices. Processing conditions with PAA demonstrated a greater Campylobacter inactivation compared to those without PAA. Chilling with PAA, without prior scalding, led to a greater Campylobacter inactivation than any other processing conditions within BPW and with meat.

This suggests a potential mechanism that heat exposure cross-protects Campylobacter allowing them to better survive subsequent PAA treatment. Importantly, strain 2674, known to be relatively resistant to chlorine, was more susceptible to PAA than strain 2704. This investigation suggests PAA to be an effective processing alternative applicable to secondary immersion chilling tanks when little or no organic matter accumulates and may be able to achieve greater Campylobacter inactivation. The study demonstrates PAA could be beneficial in controlling Campylobacter during poultry processing.

Effect of peracetic acid on campylobacter in food matricies mimicking commercial poultry processing

Food Control

Stanley H.ChenabNarelleFeganaChawalitKocharunchittbJohn P.BowmanbLesley L.Duffya

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2020.107185

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0956713520301018

16 sick with Campy linked to ‘runny’ uncooked pate at UK golf club

There are so many outbreaks linked to improperly prepared foods at golf clubs. Maybe the fancy, outrageous clothes make people feel immune to dangerous bacteria.

Sixteen guests were food poisoned and had “cramps and diarrhoea” after eating “runny” uncooked chicken liver pate at an Essex golf club.

The club’s then-operating company Crown Golf Operators Ltd, have now been fined £60,000, after the guests fell ill after eating at Stapleford Abbots Golf Club in Romford on June 17, 2017.

After playing golf that day around 24-25 guests sat down for a three-course meal, which included the pate as a starter and a carvery for mains from a set menu.

Within a day after this meal, 16 of the guests reported being ill. Some of them were ill for up to two weeks and some had to be hospitalised.

On January 29, Crown Golf Operators Ltd, were sentenced at Basildon Crown Court after pleading guilty to placing food on the market at the Romford club that was unsafe and unfit for human consumption.

The head chef at the club, Chris James, who was a co-defendent and had cooked the chicken liver pate, entered a not-guilty plea. At his trial last year, he was offered a formal caution, which he accepted.

Stapleford Abbots Golf Club is currently under new ownership after it was sold and taken over in February 2019.

Birds and Campy, New Zealand edition

Campylobacter jejuni, a leading cause of gastroenteritis worldwide, has been frequently isolated from recreational rivers and streams in New Zealand, yet the public health significance of this is unknown.

This study uses molecular tools to improve our understanding of the epidemiology and sources of Campylobacter in recreational waterways, with a view to preventing human infection.

Epidemiological and microbiological data were collected between 2005 and 2009 from six high-use recreational waterways in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of the North Island. Campylobacter spp. and C. jejuni were isolated from 33.2% and 20.4% of 509 samples, respectively. Isolation of Campylobacter was observed in both low and high river flows. After adjusting for the confounding effects of river flow, there was a significantly higher likelihood of isolating Campylobacter in the winter month of June compared to January. A high diversity of C. jejuni multilocus sequence types was seen, with the most commonly isolated being the water rail-associated ST-2381 (19/91 isolates [20.9%]), ST-1225 (8/91 isolates [8.8%]), and ST-45 (6/91 isolates [6.6%]). The ST-2381 was found in all rivers, while the most commonly isolated ST from human cases in New Zealand, the poultry-associated strain ST-474, was isolated only in one river.

Although the majority of Campylobacter sequence types identified in river water were strains associated with wild birds that are rarely associated with human disease, poultry and ruminant-associated Campylobacter strains that are found in human infection were also identified and could present a public health risk.

IMPORTANCE In 2016, there was a large-scale waterborne outbreak of campylobacteriosis in New Zealand, which was estimated to have affected over 5,000 people. This highlighted the need for a greater understanding of the sources of contamination of both surface and groundwater and risks associated with exposure to both drinking and recreational water. This study reports the prevalence and population structure of Campylobacter jejuni in six recreational waters of the Manawatu-Wanganui region of New Zealand and models the relationship between Campylobacter spp. and ruminant-associated Campylobacter and the parameters “sites,” “months,” and “river flow.” Here, we demonstrate that both low and high river flows, month of the year, and recreational sites could influence the Campylobacter isolation from recreational waters. The presence of genotypes associated with human infection allowed us to describe potential risks associated with recreational waters.

Campylobacter jejuni strains associated with wild birds and those causing human disease in six high-use recreational waterways in New Zealand, 2019

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Rima D. Shrestha, Anne C. Midwinter, Jonathan C. Marshall, Julie M. Collins-Emerson, Eve J. Pleydell, Nigel P. French

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01228-19

https://aem.asm.org/content/85/24/e01228-19.abstract?etoc

 

Not-so-dirty birds? Nor enough evidence to link wild birds to food-borne illness

One of my favorite on-farm food safety lines is, “We can’t kill all the birds. They’re Salmonella and Campylobacter factories. Be the risk can be managed and reduced.”

That applies to greenhouses too, as one grower very publicly reminded me in 2000 that, ‘they get hot and we open the lids and birds fly in and crap on stuf.’

But a Washington State University study published in Biological Reviews on Jan. 31 has found scant evidence to support the link between wild birds and human illness involving those three pathogens.

The perceived risk of wild birds can impact their survival, said Olivia Smith, lead author on the study and a recent WSU Ph.D. graduate.

 “Farmers are being encouraged to remove wild bird habitat to make their food safer, but it doesn’t appear that these actions are based on data,” Smith said. “When you restrict birds from agricultural settings, you are doing something that can lead to their decline.”

Bird populations have been falling rapidly in recent decades. Scientists estimate that since 1970, North America has lost more than three billion birds. In light of this, the WSU researchers highlighted the need for more definitive research before destroying habitat and banning birds from fields in the name of food safety.

Smith and her colleagues, WSU Associate Professor Jeb Owen and Professor William Snyder, analyzed data for E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter in 431 North American breeding bird species and found no relevant studies for 65% of those species, including birds that are commonly found in farm fields such as raptors, great blue herons and black-billed magpies.

In their review, the researchers found only one study definitively linking wild birds to food-borne illness outbreaks: a case where sandhill cranes spread Campylobacter on fresh peas in an outbreak that sickened nearly 100 people in Alaska in 2008.

The most studied birds in relation to these pathogens were ducks, geese as well as two non-native species, house sparrows and European starlings, that tend to swarm on feed lots and can contaminate the food and water used for cattle. Yet there’s a huge gap in knowledge about many other common native species that are often around agricultural crops including American robins.

Only 3% of the studies that the researchers analyzed looked at the entire transmission process from bird to plant to human. The majority simply tested bird feces to see if the bacteria were present or not.

In order for the bacteria to make people sick, the bird needs to get pathogenic strains of E. coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter on a food crop, and that bacteria has to survive long enough until people eat the contaminated food, including through shipment, washing, food processing in plants and food preparation. The data on the pathogen survival is also very limited.

“Birds do carry bacteria that can make people sick, but from our review of the scientific studies, it’s unclear how big of a risk they are,” Smith said.

We’ll see.


&nbsp;

Farm-to-fork food safety in Denmark: Campylobacter is prominent

Burden of disease metrics is increasingly established to prioritize food safety interventions. We estimated the burden of disease caused by seven foodborne pathogens in Denmark in 2017: Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, norovirus, Yersinia enterocolitica, Listeria monocytogenes, and Toxoplasma gondii.

We used public health surveillance data and scientific literature to estimate incidence, mortality, and total disability-adjusted life year (DALY) of each, and linked results with estimates of the proportion of disease burden that is attributable to foods.

Our estimates showed that Campylobacter caused the highest burden of disease, leading to a total burden of 1709 DALYs (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 1665–1755), more than threefold higher than the second highest ranked pathogen (Salmonella: 492 DALYs; 95% UI 481–504). Campylobacter still led the ranking when excluding DALYs attributable to nonfoodborne routes of exposure. The total estimated incidence was highest for norovirus, but this agent ranked sixth when focusing on foodborne burden. Salmonella ranked second in terms of foodborne burden of disease, followed by Listeria and Yersinia. Foodborne congenital toxoplasmosis was estimated to cause the loss of ∼100 years of healthy life, a burden that was borne by a low number of cases in the population. The ranking of foodborne pathogens varied substantially when based on reported cases, estimated incidence, and burden of disease estimates.

Our results reinforce the need to continue food safety efforts throughout the food chain in Denmark, with a particular focus on reducing the incidence of Campylobacter infections.

Burden of disease estimates of seven pathogens commonly transmitted through foods in Denmark, 2017

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

Sara Monteiro PiresLea Sletting JakobsenJohanne Ellis-IversenJoana Pessoa, and Steen Ethelberg

https://doi.org/10.1089/fpd.2019.2705

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2019.2705

UK still insists on steaming (rather than piping) hot to reduce Campy in chicken; scientists do a Picard face palm

The UK Food Standards Agency reports the top nine retailers across the UK have published their latest testing results on campylobacter contamination in UK-produced fresh whole chickens (covering samples tested from April to June 2019).

The latest figures show that on average, across the major retailers, 3.6% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination. These are the chickens carrying more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) of campylobacter. 

Results

The sampling and analyses are carried out in accordance with protocols laid down by the FSA and agreed by Industry.

Background information

Contamination levels         July-September 2018          October-December 2018    January-March 2019           April-June 2019

cfu/g less than 10   58.8% 63.1% 55.4% 59%

cfu/g 10-99   26.7% 22.3% 25.3% 25.3%

cfu/g 100-1000         11%    11.4% 15.8% 12.1%

cfu/g over 1000       3.5%   3.1%   3.5%   3.6%

We have been testing chickens for campylobacter since February 2014 and publishing the results as part of a campaign to bring together the whole food chain to tackle the problem. Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

In September 2017 we announced changes to the survey, with major retailers carrying out their own sampling and publishing their results under robust protocols laid down by the FSA. We are continuing to sample fresh whole chickens sold at retail, however, the focus is now on the smaller retailers and the independent market.

Chicken is safe if consumers follow good kitchen practice:

Cover and chill raw chicken – cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip onto other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as campylobacter

Don’t wash raw chicken – thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing

Wash used utensils – thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken – this helps stop the spread of campylobacter by avoiding cross-contamination

Cook chicken thoroughly – make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

It’s a scientific embarrassment.

Piping hot: Publication of year 4 Campylobacter retail chicken survey

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the Year 4 report for the UK retail chicken survey which took place between August 2017 and July 2018. Samples were collected every quarter but after the first quarter only minor retailers were tested. The UK’s top nine retailers have carried out their own sampling since September 2017.

The report found that high level campylobacter contamination in UK chickens has decreased considerably, but remains high in smaller retailers, independents and butchers.

Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said:

“Retailers have achieved significant reductions in levels of campylobacter contamination since the retail chicken survey began in 2014. The FSA will continue to engage with industry and particularly smaller retailers, butchers and independents to build on this progress.” …

Make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly and steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.