Food Safety Talk 177: Toilet as a Research Device

In this episode, the guys jump right into a discussion on why Ben is late and how bourbon, lead and the Indy 500 might all be connected (and have a food safety thread). The discussion goes to feedback on citrus slices; using AI for diets and journalism; and, farmers’ markets. Ben and Don go on to talk about cooking through slapping, the double turns out story of MSG and how magic temperatures get decided. The episode ends where it started – in the bathroom – with smart toilets and dumb soap dispensers. Oh, and a dirty, dirty salad robot.

You can download episode 177, Toilet as a Research Device here and on iTunes

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 6-year-old in France dies from E. coli

(Thanks to our French colleague, Albert, who forwarded this)

Matthew, a child “full of life, very intelligent despite his disability ” according to his mother, Angélique Gervraud, died February 22, 2019 at the Children’s Hospital of Bordeaux. He had been sick for more than a month after eating an undercooked burger at the beginning of January 2019 says his mom in a forum posted on his Facebook page.

It’s probably poorly cooked mince that has contaminated Matthew, his mom is sure. “Matthew only ate that,” she explains. Matthew developed haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) usually linked to shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

And because food safety is simple – that’s sarcasm, which the French may not get —  the transmission of the disease can be avoided by simple actions, which advises the site Public Health France:

  • Cook meat thoroughly and especially minced meat at over 65 ° C(The Ministry of Health published a note to the attention of the professionals of the collective catering from February 2007, with the appearance of the first cases)
  • Avoid giving raw lai, and cheeses made from raw milk to young children. Prefer baked or pasteurized pressed cheese
  • Always wash your hands before cooking
  • Keep cooked and raw foods separately
  • Consume quickly and well warmed leftover food.
  • Do not give untreated water to children or the elderly.

In 2017, 164 cases of HUS were reported in children under 15 years of age. There are a hundred in France in general every year.

26 infants sick in France from Salmonella linked to rice flour

My gluten-free partner – yes she has been diagnosed – means we eat brown rice flour (she prefers the white stuff).

Xinhua News Agency in Paris reports that 26 infants in France had been infected with Salmonella by eating rice flour for infants. Relevant products have been removed and recalled.

The Pasteur Institute of France has confirmed that 12 of these Salmonella-infected infants and young children belong to the same genome group. It is also analyzing 14 other infants and young children to determine whether they belong to the same genome group.

The 26 infants, including 18 boys and 8 girls, ranged in age from 2 months to 2 years at onset of symptoms. Between the end of August 2018 and January 27, 2019, these infants had diarrhea and 12 had been hospitalized for treatment. At present, all infants and young children have improved or recovered.

After investigation, it has been confirmed that the infants had eaten rice flour produced by the French Maudiak Group in Spain before infection. French public health authorities believe that the food is the source of Salmonella infection in infants and young children.

On Jan. 24 this year, the company announced the emergency removal of related products and recalled the sold products, listing 18 products to be recalled on its official website. On January 25, Lactaris Group of France issued a circular announcing the preventive recall of infant formula milk powder produced in Spain because it was produced in the same place as Maudiak Group.

Elderly woman dies of listeria infection as authorities warn thousands at risk

Anyone who authorizes feeding raw sprouts or cold colds to immunocompromised old people in hospitals is a microbiological moron and criminally negligent.

Paul Sakkal and Liam Mannix of The Age report a woman has died and thousands of people are at risk of listeria infection after the bacteria was detected in food from a south-east Melbourne catering company that supplies food to hospitals, aged care homes and Meals on Wheels.

The catering service I Cook Foods has been shut down after the woman, who was aged in her 80s and from the eastern suburbs, died in Knox Private Hospital on February 4.

Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the potentially contaminated food was in circulation until Thursday night, meaning people may have been eating the food on Friday morning.

“People who might’ve eaten it [on Thursday] or in recent weeks might still develop illness,” Dr Sutton said.

“Potentially thousands of people have been exposed.

“I don’t want to see any more [deaths].”

Six positive samples of listeria were found at the company’s Dandenong South kitchen during an investigation into the cause of the woman’s death over the past two weeks.

Offspring lead singer and chief songwriter, Dexter, has a PhD in microbiology.

Food Safety Talk 176: Bug Book

The show opens with a discussion about privacy, whether you should cover the microphone on your computer, or how you can scare your kids using Alexa. The guys talked briefly about what they’re watching, Ben’s trip to Athens Georgia, and celebrity feet. From there the show moves into listener feedback talking about the safety of eating Canadian seaweed. Listener feedback makes a interesting segue into failure, and the things we can learn from it. The show returns to listener feedback with a discussion about citrus safety and infused water. For some reason Don wants to talk about smoke detectors, before returning again to listener feedback and “Contamination Corner”, and ways to learn about stuff you don’t know about (like filibusters). Ben and Don talk about an interview that Don did for Cooking Light, before Don wants to talk about fixing his broken software. Ben ends the show with a long discussion regarding safe cooking directions for frozen vegetables, and why no one can agree.

This episode is available at foodsafetytalk.com or on iTunes.

 

Show notes so you can follow along at home are below:

Always tragic: Washington state third-grader’s death may be linked to E. coli

Wendy Culverwell of the Tri-City Herald reports a Pasco elementary student has died from apparent complications of E. coli.

Ismael Baeza Soto, 9, died Feb. 11 at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, apparently of kidney failure brought about by E. coli.

The Benton-Franklin Health District is investigating the source of what sickened the boy. So far, it appears to be an isolated case that hasn’t been linked to other investigations, though future testing could change that.

“We have not identified any ongoing public health threats,” said Dr. Amy Person, the public health officer for the Mid-Columbia.

Food Safety Talk 175: Dodransbicentennial

Don and Ben talk about UK author Nick Hornby (not to be confused with the non-Canadian Bruce Hornsby). Before they get into food safety stuff the discussion goes to the origins of hip-hop, the Beastie Boys book and Ben Folds. Don’s ongoing bit of talking about British TV comes up and then the guys discuss recent food safety talks they’ve given and Ben’s upcoming bridge tour of Athens, GA. The real food safety starts with a conversation on a Fox News host’s handwashing habits and top 10 lists of foods (and their click-bait). The guys also discuss tea water safety, Goop, how to become a process authority and software to manage food safety in restaurants. The episode ends with a phenomenal rap video on vitamins.

This episode is available at foodsafetytalk.com or on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

FDA releases Romaine-linked outbreak report

Friends of the blog Scott Gottlieb and Frank Yiannas posted a statement to FDA’s website today detailing the findings of the agency’s investigation into over 50 E. coli O157 illnesses in the fall of 2018.

Today, we’re announcing the findings of this investigation and our best hypotheses as to how this contamination could have occurred. In the case of the one farm with a positive sample previously referenced, the FDA believes that the most likely way romaine lettuce on a specific ranch on this farm became contaminated was from the use of water from this reservoir as agricultural water. It is believed that this water came into contact with the harvested portion of the romaine lettuce, since the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was found in sediment from the reservoir and in no other sampled locations. The water from the reservoir doesn’t explain how lettuce grown on other ranches or farms identified by traceback may have been contaminated. So, this one farm cannot explain the entire outbreak.

The full report can be found here.

My favorite part is this recommendation from investigators:

Perform a root cause analysis when a foodborne pathogen is identified in the growing environment, in agricultural inputs (e.g., agricultural water or soil amendments), in raw agricultural commodities or in fresh-cut ready-to-eat produce. The goal of a root cause analysis is to determine the likely source of the contamination, if prevention measures have failed, and whether additional measures are needed to prevent a reoccurrence.

From my experience, this root cause analysis approach is hit or miss when pathogens are found during routine sampling (but maybe a barfblog reader can provide me with some details on whether they know of folks doing this).

Pressure cooking and pressure canning

My friend, PIO extraordinaire and around great guy Matt Shipman asked Natalie and I about electric pressure cookers a couple of weeks ago, he was interested in answering questions that folks may have about whether they are safe to use. Here are the results of our conversation.

Electric pressure cookers, like the Instant Pot, have grown in popularity in recent years. One reason for this is that they allow people to prepare meals more quickly. But a lot of people aren’t sure why electric and stovetop pressure cookers prepare food faster than conventional stovetop cooking. And many people also wonder whether pressure cookers are actually safe.

You have questions, we have answers.

Why does food cook more quickly under high pressure? (Or, why does food cook more quickly in an Instant Pot?)

Let’s talk about heat.

Hot air rises. So, when you cook in a regular pot on your stove, a lot of the heat escapes. When moisture in the food turns into steam (which happens at 212 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re at sea level), a lot of that moisture also escapes through evaporation.

But when you’re cooking in a pressure cooker, there’s nowhere for that hot air and steam to go – it’s trapped.

“Because the hot air and steam are trapped, a pressure cooker allows you to heat the moisture – steam and water – above its normal limit of 212 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State University. “And the pressure cooker traps that hot air and moisture with the food, which expedites the cooking process.

“In other words, the moisture surrounding the food itself reaches higher temperatures than it would without the pressure, which speeds up the chemical processes involved in cooking. But the food doesn’t dry out like it would in an oven or on a stovetop, because the moisture has nowhere to go.”

Are pressure cookers risky to use?

No, not usually.

Air and steam expand as they heat up. So, if no hot air and steam is allowed to escape, a pressure cooker can explode.

“Most modern pressure cookers have a safety valve that is designed to release hot air and steam when the pressure inside the vessel reaches a certain point,” Chapman says. “Once the pressure has been relieved, the valve shuts again.

“Modern pressure cookers should also have a release valve that allows you to vent hot air and steam before opening the lid. That’s important, because you don’t want the lid to fly off, or to get scalded by steam when you open the lid. (Even with the release valve, it’s a good idea to open the lid away from you.) In some models, the safety and release valves are located in the same part of the cooker.”

Can I cook frozen food in a pressure cooker? 

You can cook frozen food in anything. The real question is: “Is it safe to cook frozen food in a pressure cooker?” And the answer is yes.

“The food safety concern here is that you don’t want foods – like raw meat or poultry – to be in the temperature ‘danger zone’ for a long time,” says Natalie Seymour, a food safety extension associate at NC State. “That can happen if you’re cooking frozen foods in a crockpot or a slow cooker, or even in the oven.

“The danger zone is between 41 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit (5-57.2 degrees Celsius), which is the temperature range that promotes pathogen growth,” Seymour says. “It’s also the temperature range that allows pathogens to produce toxins that can persist even after the temperature gets high enough to kill the pathogens themselves. Just killing the pathogens won’t make food safe if they have already created heat-stable toxins.”

In short, you can cook frozen food safely using anything, as long as you monitor the temperature to ensure that it spends less than four hours in that temperature “danger zone.” That can be challenging if you’re using a slow cooker.

“However, because of how they work, pressure cookers do a good job of getting foods through the temperature danger zone pretty quickly,” Chapman says. “That makes it safe to cook frozen foods in a pressure cooker.”

What’s the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner? Can I use them interchangeably?

Pressure cookers and pressure canners are not the same thing, and you shouldn’t think of them as being interchangeable. A good rule of thumb is that you can use a pressure canner as a pressure cooker, but you cannot use a pressure cooker as a pressure canner.

“Pressure canners have to be able to reach and maintain a consistent internal temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115.5 degrees Celsius) in order to inactivate the spores that cause botulism poisoning,” Chapman says. “But pressure cookers are variable and often don’t reach temperatures of 240 degrees. Also, electric pressure cookers – like Instant Pots – run on a cycle, in which the internal temperature rises and falls. That means they can’t be used as pressure canners.”

Note: You can find additional resources for pressure canning here.

Predicting zoonotic Salmonella from livestock

Increasingly, routine surveillance and monitoring of foodborne pathogens using whole-genome sequencing is creating opportunities to study foodborne illness epidemiology beyond routine outbreak investigations and case–control studies.

Using a global phylogeny of Salmonella entericaserotype Typhimurium, we found that major livestock sources of the pathogen in the United States can be predicted through whole-genome sequencing data. Relatively steady rates of sequence divergence in livestock lineages enabled the inference of their recent origins. Elevated accumulation of lineage-specific pseudogenes after divergence from generalist populations and possible metabolic acclimation in a representative swine isolate indicates possible emergence of host adaptation.

We developed and retrospectively applied a machine learning Random Forest classifier for genomic source prediction of Salmonella Typhimurium that correctly attributed 7 of 8 major zoonotic outbreaks in the United States during 1998–2013. We further identified 50 key genetic features that were sufficient for robust livestock source prediction.

Zoonotic source attribution of Salmonella Enterica serotype typhimurium using genomic surveillance data, United States

January 2019

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 25 no. 1

Shaokang Zhang, Shaoting Li, Weidong Gu, Henk den Bakker, Dave Boxrud, Angie Taylor, Chandler Roe, Elizabeth Driebe, David M. Engelthaler, Marc Allard, Eric Brown, Patrick McDermott, Shaohua Zhao, Beau B. Bruce, Eija Trees, Patricia I. Fields, and Xiangyu Deng 

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/1/18-0835_article