How Aussies are getting food poisoning from takeaways they are buying from home cooks on facebook — as health authorities issue a warning

Eliza McPhee of the Daily Mail wrote in Sept. that Australians have been warned not to indulge in any takeaway meals offered on Facebook Marketplace with fears the cheap food could lead to food poisoning.

Curries, noodles, cooked meat, desserts, rice dishes and even raw sausages are just some of the items on offer on the advertising platform with some starting at $8.

But the Food Safety Information Council has warned it’s highly likely the home chefs aren’t meeting food safety requirements.

Cathy Moir, chair of the health promotion charity said they became aware of the ‘illegal’ practice in May after noticing a string of ‘high-risk’ foods were being sold online.

‘These unregulated food sales are a considerable food safety risk. There is a real risk of food poisoning, which, in its worst form can have severe health consequences,’ Ms Moir said. 

‘Not only that, it is illegal. Government and local council enforcement agencies are clamping down on these unregistered food businesses, as and when they become aware of them.

‘However, new sellers keep popping up and this is putting a considerable strain on our health services.’

Advertising food does not go against any rules of Facebook Marketplace which is commonly used to buy and sell clothes or furniture.

But Ms Moir said cooking at home couldn’t ensure the same level of health and safety as registered businesses would have. 

Kitchen hygiene in the spotlight: How cooking shows influence viewers’ hygiene practices

Poor hygiene when handling food is a major cause of foodborne illness. To investigate whether hygiene practices visible in television cooking shows influence viewers’ kitchen hygiene, a study on the adoption of demonstrated hygiene behavior was conducted under controlled, experimental conditions.

In a study ostensibly on cooking by following recipes participants (n = 65) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, in which they watched a cooking video that differed only with regard to the hygiene behavior of the chef. In condition 1, the chef engaged in poor hygiene practices while preparing the dish, in condition 2 the chef’s hygiene behavior was exemplary and in condition 3, the chef’s hygiene behavior was not visible (control condition). After watching the video, participants were instructed to cook the recipe individually in the fully equipped laboratory kitchen. Cooking sessions were videotaped and experimenters blind to condition coded hygiene lapses committed by participants.

The level of kitchen hygiene displayed in the cooking video significantly affected hygiene practices of participants cooking the recipe. Participants who had watched the cooking video with correct hygiene practices committed significantly fewer hygiene lapses than those who had watched the video with poor hygiene practices. From a risk communication perspective, TV cooking shows are well placed to convey knowledge of essential hygiene practices during food preparation to a broad audience. To facilitate behavioral change toward safer food‐handling practices among viewers, visibly performing correct hygiene practices in cooking shows is a promising strategy.

Kitchen hygiene in the spotlight: How cooking shows influence viewers’ hygiene practices

Risk Analysis

Severine Koch, Mark Lohmann, Jasmin Geppert, Rainer Stamminger, Astrid Epp, Gaby‐Fleur Böl

https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13584

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/risa.13584

Preharvest treatment improves tomato food safety

Technology Networks reports that when vegetable farmers harvest crops, they often rely on postharvest washing to reduce any foodborne pathogens, but a new University of Georgia study shows promise in reducing these pathogens — as well as lowering labor costs — by applying sanitizers to produce while it is still in the fields.
Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes are major causes of foodborne diseases and of public health concern in the U.S. Tomato-associated salmonella outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have increased in frequency and magnitude in recent years, and fresh produce accounted for 21% of E. coli outbreaks reported to the CDC over a 20-year span.

Initially researchers were going to study the use of a nonchlorine-based sanitizer made of two food additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — levulinic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate — as a postharvest wash solution. However, at the suggestion of a producer involved in the study — Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton, Georgia — they designed the study using the solution in a preharvest spray, said Tong Zhao, associate research scientist with the Center for Food Safety on the UGA Griffin campus.

While producers commonly use chlorine-based disinfectants — including chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite and chlorine dioxide — to treat produce postharvest, the preharvest application of bactericides is not a common practice, Zhao said.

Building on previous studies of levulinic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate that showed the combination substantially reduces both salmonella and E. coli on romaine lettuce without adversely affecting lettuce quality, Zhao hoped to prove the combination’s effectiveness on reducing foodborne pathogens on tomato plants contaminated with salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes.

In the field studies, the spray treatment significantly reduced the total bacterial population on the surface of tomatoes, determining that this preharvest treatment is a practical, labor-cost effective and environmentally friendly approach for the control and reduction of foodborne pathogens. The study was recently published in the journal Food Control.

“This combination of chemicals had never been used for preharvest treatment,” said Zhao, who studied the combination 10 years ago as an alternative to chlorine treatment as a postharvest wash. “Free chlorine is easily neutralized by organic

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding? CDC could further strengthen efforts to identify and respond to foodborne illnesses

The U.S. Government Accountability Office writes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 people in the U.S. get food poisoning each year—leading to 128,000 hospital stays and 3,000 deaths. CDC has seen an increase in foodborne illness outbreaks that span multiple states in recent years.

CDC has developed tools to identify possible multistate outbreaks, investigate their cause, and communicate about them to the public. But it needs to balance the need to communicate quickly against the need to provide accurate and specific information.

Our recommendations include that CDC publicize its decision-making process for communicating about multistate outbreaks.

NASA Apollo program helped boost US food safety

For those in need of a history lesson, a brief on the development of HACCP.

NASA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system created decades ago for the lunar landing initiative is credited to this day with reducing foodborne illnesses.

Originally developed for astronaut food in the early days of the Apollo program – because no one wanted diarrhea in a space suit or barf in a space helmet — the HACCP system has been adopted by major players in the food industry

Sixty years ago, at what is now Johnson Space Center in Houston, a nutritionist and a Pillsbury microbiologist partnered with NASA to provide uncontaminated food for the astronauts on the Gemini and Apollo missions.

Instead of testing end products, Paul Lachance and Howard Bauman came up with a method that identified and controlled potential points of failure in the food production process.

To make astronaut food safe, the duo introduced hazards in the production line, observed the hazard and determined how it could be prevented.

In 1971, the deaths of two people from botulism, a severe foodborne illness caused by bacteria, prompted the National Canners Association to adopt stricter standards. The Food and Drug Administration and the canners association implemented the HACCP regulations for low-acid canned food.

In 1993, an outbreak of food poisoning at a fast-food chain prompted meat and poultry manufacturers to adopt to the HACCP regulations as part of an effort to restore public confidence in the industry. A decade after that, the FDA and the Department of Agriculture made HACCP regulations universal for meat, poultry, seafood and juice producers.

Standardization was further strengthened in 2011 when the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act came into existence. While HACCP applies to all U.S. food producers, all applications are unique to particular foodstuffs.

Is your pet’s food making you sick? Study finds many don’t know the risk

I’ve bragged before about daughter Sorenne’s knowledge of pet food and treat microbiological risks. The same applies to my four Canadian daughters.

Even my French professor partner, Amy, has become knowledgeable in things microbiological.

I’m just really proud and full of love for all six of them (and they all play hockey, or did).

The last few months have seen numerous outbreaks or recalls related to pet food or treats.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) collaborated with provincial public health partners and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157 infections that occurred in three provinces. The outbreak appears to be over, and the investigation has been closed.

Based on the investigation findings, exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food was identified as the likely source of the outbreak. All of the individuals who were sick reported exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food, or to dogs fed this raw pet food, before their illnesses occurred.

In total, there were five confirmed cases of E. coli O157 illness linked to this outbreak in three provinces: British Columbia (2), Alberta (2) and Manitoba (1). The individuals were sick between early March and late May 2020. Two individuals were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after feeding, handling or cleaning up after pets. Animals fed raw meat diets are more likely to be shedding harmful bacteria like Salmonella and dangerous strains of E. coli even when they appear healthy, compared to those fed commercial kibble or other cooked diets. Regularly clean surfaces that come into contact with pet food or pets.

When possible, store all pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.

In Nov., New Jersey-based Albright’s Raw Dog Food issued a voluntary recall for 67 cases of “Chicken Recipe for Dogs” because of Salmonella contamination.

The food was sold in 2-pound frozen chubs/rolls with the lot number C000185 and best-by date 19 May 2021.

They were sold between June 8 and Aug. 27 in 10 states, including New York and New Jersey.

One animal illness has been reported. Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic, have diarrhea, fever, vomiting or abdominal pain.

In Sept., Real Pet Food Company of Phoenix, AZ voluntarily recalled one lot of Billy + Margot Wild Kangaroo and Superfoods Recipe dog food in 4 lb bags because of a possible Salmonella health risk.

Each year, more than 50 million Americans develop gastrointestinal issues that lead them to question the safety of their most recent meals. It’s entirely possible that their distress could be caused not by the food they have eaten, but the meals served to their furry friends.

A study led by Purdue University’s Yaohua “Betty” Feng, an assistant professor of food science, showed that many Americans don’t wash their hands after feeding or playing with their cats and dogs and aren’t aware of the risk of contracting a foodborne illness from those activities.

“Almost all dog and cat owners interact with their pets closely like cuddling, sleeping with them, kissing them, but after those interactions fewer than one-third of them wash their hands with soap,” said Feng, whose findings were published in the Journal of Food Protection. “They don’t really consider that they could get sick or that a foodborne pathogen could be transferred from their pet to themselves.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella sicken nearly 48 million people, hospitalize 128,000 and kill around 3,000 annually. There is no data on how many of those come from pet foods, but there have been more than a dozen pet food recalls in 2020 due to the presence of a foodborne pathogen. Last year more than 150 people were sickened by salmonella in pig ear dog treats.

“Some dogs and cats do not have symptoms, even if they were contaminated with foodborne pathogens like salmonella. There’s potential for them to share those pathogens with their owners when interacting with them,” Feng said.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 cat and dog owners in the United States:

93 percent of pet owners cuddle their pets, 70 percent allow the pet to lick them, 63 percent sleep with their pets, and 61 percent kiss their pets.

Only 31 percent wash their hands after playing with their pets, and 42 percent do not wash their hands after feeding their pets.

8 percent reported eating pet food and treats themselves. 

The study showed that 78 percent of people were not aware of recent pet food recalls or outbreaks associated with foodborne pathogens in those foods. One-quarter of people do not consider dry pet foods and treats as potential sources of these pathogens.

Raw meat or raw animal product diets are growing in prevalence for supposed health benefits. The study showed that about 25% of respondents feed their pets raw foods, but about half of those people did not report washing their hands after those feedings and allowed their pets to lick them.

Feng said the results suggest that pet owners need more education about the safety of pet foods and proper handling of food and pets to prevent contracting an illness. She plans to develop materials that will address those issues.

Some tips to keep pet owners from getting foodborne illness include:

Wash hands with soap and water after preparing food for pets, petting or playing with pets, and before preparing food for people.

Avoid feeding pets raw meat.

Handle and store pet food carefully to avoid cross-contamination. 

Keep up with pet food recalls and keep records of pet food lot numbers and other information for potential tracking.

“We’re not saying you shouldn’t hug your dog, but you should know the risks and how to protect yourself against the possibility of contracting an illness,” Feng said.

ABSTRACT

Risk of Foodborne Illness from Pet Food: Assessing Pet Owners’ Knowledge, Behavior, and Risk Perception

Merlyn Thomas; Yaohua Feng

doi.org/10.4315/JFP-20-108

Pet food has been identified as a source of pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli. A recent outbreak linked to Salmonella -contaminated pet treats infected over 150 people in the United States. The mechanism by which contaminated pet food leads to human illness has not been explicated. Pet owners’ food safety knowledge and their pet food handling practices have not been reported. This study evaluated pet owners’ food safety knowledge and pet-food handling practices through an online consumer survey. The survey consists of 62 questions and assesses (1) owners’ food safety knowledge and pet-food handling practices; (2) owners’ interaction with pets; (3) owners’ risk perception related to their own health, their children’s health, and their pets’ health. The survey was pilot-tested among 59 pet owners before distribution to a national consumer panel, managed by Qualtrics XM. All participants (n=1,040) were dog and/or cat owners in the United States. Almost all pet owners interacted with their pets (93%) and most cuddled, allowed their pets to lick them, and slept with their pets. Less than one-third of pet owners washed their hands with soap after interacting with their pets. Over half (58%) the owners reported washing their hands after feeding their pets. Most pet owners fed their pets dry pet food and dry pet treats. Some fed their pets raw meat or raw animal product (RAP) diets because they believed these diets to be beneficial to their pet’s overall health. Many owners (78%) were unaware of pet food recalls or outbreaks associated with foodborne pathogens. Less than 25% considered dry pet foods and treats as a potential source of foodborne pathogens. The findings of this study indicated the need for consumer education about pet food handling. The data collected can assist in developing more accurate risk assessment models and consumer education related to pet food handling.

30 Helens and most of 635 epidemiologists agree: Stay at home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, both the Canadian, in early October, and the American, today, the last Thursday in November.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has finally found a consistent voice and has recommendations to make #Thanksgiving safer. Bring your own food and drinks, stay at least 6 feet apart, and wash your hands often. Choose outdoor or well-ventilated spaces.

Most importantly, CDC and others strongly recommend to celebrate only with those you live with, and use virtual gatherings with others (I am exceedingly thankful for the electronic toys we have to help weather the pandemic; 1918 and the Spanish flu would have really sucked).

Of course, the current White House occupant is planning on hosting several parties throughout the holidays. Please ignore Trump et al. and listen to the science.

To that end, the N.Y. Times surveyed 635 epidemiologists and found that most are staying at home, and that those who are gathering with family or friends are taking precautions or rethinking their holiday rituals altogether.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving my American friends and colleagues, and be thankful that someone will live with you.

Australia has somewhat enviable statistics related to this pandemic and the lesson that America is only beginning to grasp is this: go fast, go hard and go smart to limit the spread of coronavirus or any illness.

The 3 Ws: A public health Thanksgiving

Friend of the barfblog, Michéle Samarya-Timm, MA, HO, MCHES, REHS, health educator and registered environmental health specialist at the Somerset County Department of Health in Somerville, New Jersey, has graciously made time from the public health front lines to continue her U.S. Thanksgiving tradition of contributing to the barfblog.

It’s the 10th month  of COVID-19 response for public health professionals in the U.S.

That’s 46 straight weeks (and counting) of conducting public testing clinics, providing COVID-19 information and test results, contact tracing, and educating on prevention.    

 In addition, public health has been proactive with regular disease prevention work, holding COVID-safe flu clinics, providing guidance to food establishments, schools and workplaces, and planning for the herculean task of vaccinating 70% of the population (twice) for COVID-19 as soon as the vaccine is delivered. 

 We do what we’ve been trained to do, and what needs to be done to protect our residents. It’s the prime directive of public health: prevent disease and save lives.

Be thankful, as I am, for their dedication and efforts as you pass the turkey…and pass the hand sanitizer.

This year, in addition to food safe practices to assure a disease-free meal, remember to add 3 W’s:

  • Watch your distance (keep 6 feet apart)
  • Wear a mask 
  • Wash your hands 

 Be safe, my friends.  And THANKS for all you do.

Food Safety Talk 225: Food Safety Talk 225: I Got a Little Holodeck

In this very special pre-Thanksgiving episode, Don and Ben start with talking about Ben’s on-set experiences this week, which was like a food safety holiday. The guys then talk about the challenges connecting with entertainment producers and publishers around getting food safety messages into recipes and cooking shows. The conversation goes to pizza and COVID-19 (Australian and Jersey), Thanksgiving plans (or lack thereof) and eating just black licorice as nutrient source. The episode ends with a discussion about number and size of COVID-19 clusters of in various food settings.

The episode can be found on your favorite podcast app or downloaded here.

 

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Buy Apple Watch Series 6 Bands – Apple

Whistling in the dark: Media and science citations

I was talking to an emergency room doc for a few hours a couple of  Saturdays ago – about two of those hours involved him stitching up my sliced ear from another fall – and he told me his hobbies were macro may and needlework.

I told him it’s good to be good at what you do.

The association between mention of scientific research in popular media (e.g., the mainstream media or social media platforms) and scientific impact (e.g., citations) has yet to be fully explored. The purpose of this study was to clarify this relationship, while accounting for some other factors that likely influence scientific impact (e.g., the reputations of the scientists conducting the research and academic journal in which the research was published). To accomplish this purpose, approximately 800 peer-reviewed articles describing original research were evaluated for scientific impact, popular media attention, and reputations of the scientists/authors and publication venue. A structural equation model was produced describing the relationship between non-scientific impact (popular media) and scientific impact (citations), while accounting for author/scientist and journal reputation.

The resulting model revealed a strong association between the amount of popular media attention given to a scientific research project and corresponding publication and the number of times that publication is cited in peer-reviewed scientific literature. These results indicate that (1) peer-reviewed scientific publications receiving more attention in non-scientific media are more likely to be cited than scientific publications receiving less popular media attention, and (2) the non-scientific media is associated with the scientific agenda.

These results may inform scientists who increasingly use popular media to inform the general public and scientists concerning their scientific work. These results might also inform administrators of higher education and research funding mechanisms, who base decisions partly on scientific impact.

A case study exploring associations between popular media attention of scientific research and scientific citations, 01 July 2020

PLOS One

Sage Anderson, Aubrey R. Odom, Hunter M. Gray, Jordan B. Jones, William F. Christensen, Todd Hollingshead, Joseph G. Hadfield, Alyssa Evans-Pickett, Megan Frost, Christopher Wilson, Lance E. Davidson, Matthew K. Seeley

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234912

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0234912