E. coli found in Icelandic meat

Keeping with all things Icelandic, E. coli was found in 30% of lamb samples and 11.5% of beef samples in a test carried out by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST). The particular strain discovered is known as STEC, or shiga-toxin producing E. coli. This is the first time lamb and beef have been screened for STEC in Iceland.

The testing was carried out on around 600 samples of lamb, beef, pork, and chicken of both Icelandic and foreign origin between March and December 2018. The purpose of the testing was to determine the prevalence of pathogenic micro-organisms in products when they reach the consumer, and for this reason the samples were taken from shops.

Campylobacter and salmonella were not detected in pork or chicken samples, with the exception of a single sample of pork from Spain. MAST attributes this to improved preventative measures in slaughterhouses.

MAST points to several ways consumers can reduce the risk of infection from salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli, including cooking meat all the way through and taking care to avoid cross-contamination. Most E. coli is found on the surface of meat, and therefore is killed by frying or grilling, but when meat is ground, the bacteria is distributed throughout. Therefore, hamburgers and other types of ground meat should be cooked through.

But what does that mean?

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

E. coli: Kentucky teen is back in the game after life-threatening illness

Sixteen-year-old Anna Rexford is, according to this story, a winner. Not only is she the goalkeeper for the two-time state champions West Jessamine High School girls’ soccer team, Anna was named MVP for the tournament two years in a row. After her first season at West Jessamine, she committed to playing for University of Cincinnati and is a contender to play in the Allstate All-America Cup this summer. Clearly, Anna is at the top of her game. But just three short years ago, a harrowing illness made her future uncertain.

Anna Rexford on June 7, 2019. Photo by Mark Cornelison | UKphoto

In July 2016, Anna and her mother Tracy went on a week-long mission trip to Haiti. Tracy is a nurse, and the two spent the week doing health screenings and nutrition programs for children. Anna played with the local children nonstop during that week, challenging them to soccer and leading them in games.

“She gave 110 percent,” said Tracy. “She was always with the kids, playing and giving her whole heart to them.”

Within hours of returning home to Wilmore, Anna began to feel unwell. She had pounding headache and her whole body hurt. Her mother took her temperature. It was a staggering 106.8 degrees.

“I knew, as a nurse, that was almost incompatible with life and that we needed to get help,” said Tracy.

Anna was admitted to Kentucky Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with a rare case of four different strands of E.coli, two of which were toxic. She was showing signs of sepsis, a bacterial infection of the blood, as well as organ failure.

“There was one particular night where I didn’t think she would make it,” said Tracy. “There were some confusing times, questioning God, “‘God, you called a 14-year-old passionate Christian to go and serve, and you want to end it like this? You want to end it where she dies?'”

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.

 

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.

Ontario parents speak out after 2-year-old’s E. coli linked death

I seemed to have missed this, which is inexcusable, volunteer or not, medical stuff for me or not, but here it is, a month later (and if I did publish it, shows where my brain is going).

Avis Favaro of CTV News reported in early May that it all started with a romaine salad.

Kristen and Brad Bell felt a little sick after eating the salad last October.

Their two-year-old son soon started to show more severe symptoms. Cooper Bell was vomiting. He developed diarrhea. Then his mother noticed the blood in his diaper.

“I had no idea [what] was happening,” Kristen Bell told CTV News from her home in Stirling, Ont.

“I thought ‘This is not normal.'”

An emergency room doctor thought Cooper might have contracted a bacterial infection. The family’s pediatrician agreed, saying the Bells should keep their son hydrated and bring him back in the morning.

Soon after the Bells returned home, they noticed some worrying changes in Cooper’s behavior.

“He wasn’t responding to me the same as he was earlier. It wasn’t long after that, that he had a seizure in Brad’s arms,” Kristen Bell said.

Seeing their son shaking uncontrollably with his eyes closed, the Bells called an ambulance. He spent a few hours in hospital in nearby Belleville, Ont., and was then airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

Doctors at CHEO diagnosed Cooper with kidney failure brought on by E. coli. He suffered cardiac arrest and died. The Bells believe it was the romaine lettuce that made Cooper sick, although they were unable to send the lettuce for testing to confirm their belief because it had been thrown out.

There were 29 illnesses and 10 hospitalizations reported across Canada during last fall’s E. coli outbreak, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. It was one of three outbreaks in North America over the past year all of which were linked to romaine lettuce.

Keith Warriner, a food safety expert and professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, said in an interview that the food industry has long been slow to improve its testing practices something that could improve overall food safety, but would mean extra costs for their operations.

“The industry itself has known for many years what it needs to do, but it’s just been reluctant to do it,” he said.

The Bells agree. They’re sharing their story of grief with the hope it will help hospital workers and other parents better understand the danger of E. coli, but also because they want to see changes at the food production level.

“E. coli shouldn’t be in our food,” Brad Bell said.

“The way that we’re growing food is dangerous, and something has to change.”

Raw is risky: 19 children develop HUS in France from E. coli O26 linked to raw milk cheese

Gabrielle Jones, Sophie Lefevre, et al report in Eurosurveillance that from 25 March to 27 April 2019, 19 suspected Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) associated paediatric haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) cases were notified by French hospital paediatric departments to Santé publique France, compared with 5–10 cases during the same period in previous years [1].

Thirteen cases were confirmed as serogroup O26, with whole genome sequencing (WGS) underway for strain comparison. Initial epidemiological investigations using a trawling questionnaire identified the consumption of raw cow’s milk soft cheeses (Saint-Félicien and Saint-Marcellin) as the common link for eight of these 13 cases. Trace-back investigations using supermarket loyalty cards identified a common producer (producer A) of these cheeses for three cases and on the basis of this information a recall was initiated by French health authorities on 27 April 2019 [2]. As at 27 May 2019, investigations identified 16 outbreak cases including 14 paediatric HUS cases and two cases with uncomplicated diarrhoea (one child and one adult). Investigations are ongoing for one suspected case. The 16 outbreak cases reside in six administrative regions in France. All paediatric cases are under 5 years of age; the median age is 22 months (overall age range: 6 months–63 years). Eight cases are female. Date of symptom onset was between 31 March (week 13) and 29 April (week 18). All HUS cases were hospitalised. Thirteen cases received blood and/or platelet transfusion and seven underwent haemodialysis. Six cases had neurological complications, all of them received transfusions and three also had haemodialysis.

The families of all 16 outbreak cases and the suspected case were interviewed about their at-risk exposures during the 10 days before symptom onset. Families of 16 cases (15 outbreak cases and one suspected case) reported the consumption of Saint-Félicien or Saint-Marcellin raw cow’s milk cheeses by either the case (n = 12) or household members (n = 4). One outbreak case did not report consumption of these cheeses. For the 16 cases with reported consumption of these cheeses, trace-back investigations using loyalty cards and supply data from the different shops where the caretakers reported purchasing the cheeses identified a link with producer A for 13 (all outbreak cases).

Producer A manufactured only Saint-Félicien and Saint-Marcellin cheeses. To date, no positive STEC O26 cheese or milk samples have been identified. Investigations, including sampling of the cheeses and trace-back of the milk supply chains, are ongoing.

Four outbreak cases had not consumed the cheeses themselves but a household member had. This suggests the affected child may have been infected via cross contamination (knives, cutting board, hands, etc.). None of the household members reported symptoms of illness, indicating that the cases were unlikely to have been infected by person-to-person transmission. Investigations are ongoing in an attempt to further document the exposures of these cases (consumption of cheeses or other food items cut by the knives or on the same cutting board as the suspected cheeses). Only one in 16 outbreak cases reported a family member with self-limiting diarrhoea (no stool analysis).

Note: If that many people developed HUS, hundreds could have potentially been sickened.

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 196 sick from E. coli O103 linked to ground beef

The U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O103 infections linked to ground beef.

Ill people in this outbreak ate ground beef from many sources. Some ground beef has been recalled, but more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may still be on the market or in freezers.

Restaurants, retailers, and institutions should not sell or serve the following recalled ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O103 and could make people sick:

Grant Park Packing in Franklin Park, Ill., recalled 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 24, 2019.

Recalled products were sold in 40-lb. bulk cardboard boxes of “North Star Imports & Sales, LLC. 100% GROUND BEEF BULK 80% LEAN/ 20% FAT” marked “FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY” with lot code GP.1051.18 and pack dates 10/30/2018, 10/31/2018, and 11/01/2018.

Recalled products are labeled with establishment number “EST. 21781” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the boxes.

K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, in Carrollton, Ga., recalledexternal icon approximately 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 23, 2019.

Recalled products were sold in two 24-lb. vacuum-packed packages in cardboard boxes containing raw “GROUND BEEF PUCK” with “Use Thru” dates of 4/14/19, 4/17/19, 4/20/19, 4/23/19, 4/28/19, and 4/30/19.

Recalled products are labeled with establishment number “EST. 51308” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Investigators continue to trace other sources for ground beef eaten by ill people in this outbreak, and more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may be recalled.

Cook ground beef hamburgers and mixtures such as meatloaf to an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a food thermometer to make sure the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. You can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it.

For hamburgers, insert thermometer through the side of the patty until it reaches the middle.

(Piping hot doesn’t cut it, UK).

‘Contamination of wheat poses a foodborne illness risk’

Following up on Chapman’s coverage of the current outbreak of E. coli O26 in flour that has sickened at least 17 people, researchers have concluded that little information is available regarding microbial pathogens in wheat and wheat flour. Information about microbial pathogens in wheat is needed to develop effective methods to prevent foodborne illnesses caused by wheat products.

From 2012 to 2014, we conducted a baseline study to determine the prevalence and levels of pathogens in wheat samples taken before milling. A total of 5,176 wheat samples were tested for enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), Salmonella spp., Listeria spp., and L. monocytogenes. Positive samples were assayed for most probable numbers (MPNs), and isolates were fingerprinted by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The rate of detection of each pathogen tested was as follows: Salmonella was in 1.23% of the samples (average level of 0.110 MPN/g), EHECs occurred in 0.44% of the samples (0.039 MPN/g), and Listeria spp. occurred in 0.08% of samples (0.020 MPN/g), but L. monocytogenes was not detected.

The PFGE assessment found a high diversity for all organisms. All EHEC PFGE patterns (22 of 22) were unique, and 39 of 47 Salmonella patterns (83%) were unique. These results indicate a diverse background of naturally occurring organisms. These findings suggest that the microbial contamination is coming from diverse sources and provide no evidence in support of a specific pathogen load. Altogether, our surveillance study shows that contamination of wheat with pathogens is clearly evident and poses a foodborne illness risk.

Occurrence and levels of salmonella, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, and listeria in raw wheat

June 2019

Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 no. 6 pp. 1022-1027

Samuel Myoda, Stefanie Gilbreth, Deann Akins-Leventhal, Seana Davidson, and Mansour Samadpour

https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-345

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/full/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-345

Food safety in popular culture: Scripps Spelling Bee edition

Last night I was watching the Toronto Raptors play in their first NBA finals so I missed my annual viewing of the Scripps Spelling Bee. I’ve been hooked on the spelling drama since watching Spellbound in 2002.

Campylobacter was one of the words in this year’s competition. One of my food safety nerd friends sent me the below screenshot from Instagram.

I had campy back in 2009. It sucked.

Beware of the plume: Flour linked E. coli O26 outbreak, Aldi brands recalled

I used to be a lick-the-batter-off-the-spoon kind of guy. I stopped doing that a few years ago. I don’t eat raw cookie dough, or let my kids eat it. I’m probably not the most fun dad, but outbreaks like what is going on right now is why.

Courtesy of the Safe Plates Information Center and NC State Extension

According to CDC,

As of May 24, 2019, 17 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O26 have been reported from 8 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 11, 2018 to April 18, 2019. Ill people range in age from 7 to 86 years, with a median age of 23. Sixty-five percent of ill people are female. Of 17 people with information available, 3 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that flour is a likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of seven people who were interviewed, four (57%) reported eating, licking, or tasting raw, homemade dough or batter. Two people with detailed information reported eating raw dough or batter made with flour or baking mixes from ALDI.

Investigators with the Rhode Island Department of Health collected records and flour samples at a bakery where an ill person reported eating raw dough. Records indicated that the bakery used Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour from ALDI. The outbreak strain was isolated from an unopened bag of Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour collected at the bakery.

WGS results showed that the E. coli O26 strain identified in the Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour sample was closely related genetically to the E. coli O26 strain identified in ill people. These results provide additional evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating flour.

On May 23, 2019, ADM Milling Co. and Aldi recalled pdf icon[PDF – 142 KB]external icon 5 lb. bags of Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour sold at retail locations in the following states because they may be contaminated with E. coli: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachussetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia

I talked to Korin Miller at whattoexpect.com about this outbreak too, and the hidden risk factor in all of this might be cross-contamination.

It’s a good idea to take care when handling raw flour the same way as you would if you were preparing raw meat. That means washing your hands well after you touch it, sanitizing your countertops after you use it and not eating flour products until they’re thoroughly cooked, Chapman says.

Overall, you should definitely take this seriously. “It’s really, really risky to eat raw flour products,” Chapman says.

And I think about this every time I squeeze and plop down a bag of flour in my kitchen. The pathogens, if they are in there, get spread around like shrapnel.