Chinese primary school hit by food poisoning with more than 100 children hooked to drips

Abigail O’Leary of the Mirror writes that a primary school hit by a wave of food poisoning caused scenes of chaos as more than 100 children were struck down. 

The school, in the central Chinese province of Henan, saw pupils suffering from vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Officials are now investigating a so-called ‘central kitchen project’ in Yucheng County, where four government-contracted catering companies are supplying school meals to 4,500 kids.

Distressing images from rural hospitals in the county show young children hooked up to intravenous drips while others are slumped on chairs in waiting areas with their parents.

More than 100 youngsters have been admitted to hospital since Wednesday (10th June). County officials said most have been discharged, but some are still receiving treatment.

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.

We have to change

The murder of George Floyd last week is an image that I keep seeing in my mind although I haven’t written or said anything about it outside of my family.

George Floyd represents so many others whose names are known, and many others who aren’t as prominent.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to say something incorrect. So I said nothing.

I got busy and focused on other things. And that’s the problem, and why what is happening all across the U.S. and the world right now is so important: It’s easy to focus on other things and make this someone else’s problem to fight.

A close friend and colleague called me on my silence today saying that not addressing the events, by not acknowledging what was happening was hurtful.

Not doing anything is essentially condoning the history of systemic racism that is so rampant in this country. My friend is absolutely right.

I feel terrible, I have let them, and so many other people who I know and love, down.

We have to change. I have to change. Black lives matter. We have to fight for the safety of our loved ones. We have to ensure that we change the system for them.

One of the paralyzing aspects of this terrible situation is how complex the problem has become. I want to be part of the solution.

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.