A way to get rid of Salmonella off peppercorns

A nonthermal process that applies ultraviolet (UV)–C and helium cold plasma (CP) simultaneously (UV-CP) has been investigated as an intervention technology to inactivate Salmonella on black peppercorns.

The optimum CP treatment voltage and UV-CP treatment time for inactivating Salmonella on black peppercorns were predicted using a model equation as 9.7 kV and 22.1 min, respectively, which non-thermally inactivated Salmonella by 3.7 log CFU/g. UV-CP treatment yielded a stronger bactericidal activity than UV treatment alone, without inducing photoreactivation. In addition, UV-CP-induced reactive species similar to those found in individual UV and CP treatments. Furthermore, UV-CP treatment caused a profound deformation of Salmonella morphology and a greater extent of DNA damage than UV or CP treatment did alone. UV-CP treatment did not alter the color or 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radical scavenging activity; however, it lowered the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging activity and piperine concentration in the peppercorns. The findings of this study demonstrate the potential application of UV-CP treatment for decontamination of black peppercorns.

Inactivation of salmonella on black peppercorns using an integrated ultraviolet-C and cold plasma intervention, 23 July 2020

Food Control

In Hee Bang1, Jiwon In1, Sea C.Min

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2020.107498

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095671352030414X

How much fun is John Fogarty having with his kids?

This sounds cool (except for the cancer bit): Four-stranded DNA exists and may play a role in cancer

The formation of four-stranded DNA has been tracked in living human cells, allowing scientists to see how it works, and its possible role in cancer.

DNA usually forms the classic double helix shape discovered in 1953 – two strands wound around each other. Several other structures have been formed in test tubes, but this does not necessarily mean they form within living cells.

Quadruple helix structures, called DNA G-quadruplexes (G4s), have previously been detected in cells. However, the technique used required either killing the cells or using high concentrations of chemical probes to visualize G4 formation, so their actual presence within living cells under normal conditions has not been tracked, until now.

A research team from the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and Leeds University have invented a fluorescent marker that is able to attach to G4s in living human cells, allowing them to see for the first time how the structure forms and what role it plays in cells.
The study is published today in Nature Chemistry.

Oh, Missouri: Summer camp virus outbreak raises safety questions

Looks like I picked the wrong week to send my 5 daughters to summer camp.

They’re over that now but Missouri leaders knew the risk of convening thousands of kids at summer camps across the state during a pandemic, the state’s top health official said, and insisted that camp organizers have plans in place to keep an outbreak from happening.

The outbreak happened anyway.

An overnight summer camp in rural southwestern Missouri has seen scores of campers, counselors and staff infected with the coronavirus, the local health department revealed this week, raising questions about the ability to keep kids safe at what is a rite of childhood for many.

Missouri is one of several states to report outbreaks at summer camps. The Kanakuk camp near Branson ended up sending its teenage campers home. On Friday, the local health department announced 49 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus at the camp. By Monday, the number had jumped to 82.

Some states, like Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, closed summer camps this year, and many camps elsewhere have voluntarily canceled programs. But other camps are plowing ahead, hoping that precautions like social distancing, masks and requiring children to quarantine before coming to camp will quell the risk. Other states where outbreaks have been reported have included Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Raw is risky: Why salads are the biggest source of food poisoning and what to do to avoid it

Brian Adam of Intallght writes just over a year ago, the United States saw the largest outbreak of E. coli since 2006; affecting at least 98 people in more than 20 states. The origin wa bagged romaine lettuce. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Vegetables and fresh fruit have become a real headache for food safety experts.

 Today in the United States, fresh vegetables are the largest source of food poisoning. In Europe, the figures are not so pristine, but the bacteria and viruses associated with this type of food also are to blame for the vast majority of poisonings. We are facing a real danger for food safety: salads.

The numbers speak for themselves

In 1990, more than 400 epidemic outbreaks associated with fresh fruits and salads were detected. Between 2001 and 2013 we are not even able to know in its entirety, some experts explain, how many related outbreaks appeared, but they are many, increasing since 2008. Arrived in 2013, in Europe these epidemics seem to reduce their growth, stagnating in number per year, as explained in this article by EFSA, the European authority on food safety.

Despite the fact that Europe the number of appearances seems to have stabilized, in the United States they have continued to increase. The danger is still lurking, hidden between “romaine lettuce and Brussels sprouts.” The reason is in “cool” words.

According to some independent experts, this increase could be related to the increased consumption of vegetables and fresh fruit in the diet. This is a consequence of the search for a better, healthier diet. But, not being processed, these foods can also bring unexpected and unpleasant surprises.

But what is the problem? What’s wrong with fresh vegetables? It is not that strict food safety controls do not pass, as it happens with everything that arrives at our supermarkets but fresh food, especially if we put it in a plastic bag, is cannon fodder for microorganisms.

US to miss foodborne disease reduction goals

I’ve said this for years.

Need new messages, new strategy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association newsletter reports numbers of confirmed illnesses in humans resulting from common foodborne pathogens have risen or remained level for several years, putting the U.S. on track to miss 2020 reduction targets.

Better tests and more testing may help explain why the numbers have not fallen, but to reach its goals, the U.S. needs more work to reduce food contamination, according to authors of an article published this spring in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among the findings, the authors wrote that preliminary 2019 data show confirmed illness counts for Listeria, Salmonella, and Shigella have remained unchanged over several years, and confirmed illness counts for the other five pathogens tracked by the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network increased.
“FoodNet surveillance data indicate that progress in controlling major foodborne pathogens in the United States has stalled,” the article states. “To better protect the public and achieve forthcoming Healthy People 2030 foodborne disease reduction goals, more widespread implementation of known prevention measures and new strategies that target particular pathogens and serotypes are needed.”

I saw the Hip at a bar in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on this tour with my 6-month pregnant ex-wife.

Great show.

Food safety management: the UK version

My 28-year-old music therapist came over for her one hour session this morning which is the highlight of my week. I sing and play guitar like no one is watching. And I introduce her to 50-year-old songs, like those on Workingman’s Dead, which we played this morning in its entirety (Oh, and Chapman, she likes Jimmy Buffett, so suck it).

This paper forms part of an ongoing project studying various approaches to the management of hazards and risk in the food industry with implications for other areas of risk management where cooperation and collaboration between organisations are of a potential benefit. In this paper we give particular focus to the Food Standard Agency’s proposed Regulating Our Future that requires closer cooperation and collaboration between the public enforcement authorities and the industry organisations that police food hygiene and food safety management. The forming of a Primary Authority between Cornwall Council and Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) emerged as a potential means of contributing to this by improving trust between all parties involved, sharing of information, assessing risk, reducing inspection times and frequency of inspections from Primary Authority. Attention is given to the current relationship between the various organisations involved from the perspectives and viewpoints of Local Authority Enforcement Officers from Preston City Council, Cornwall Council and SALSA and other experienced food safety professionals. The research is qualitative and grounded, including a review of the extant literature and interviews with food safety and food standards professionals from the private and public enforcement sectors.

Approaches to the management and policing of food safety: The food standard agency’s regulating our future, 2019

International Journal of Management and Applied Research vol. 7 no. 2

Richard Bradford-Knox, Kevin Kane, Simon Neighbour

http://ijmar.org/v7n2/20-012.pdf

Bureaucratic bullshit: Communication inside risk assessment and risk management (COMRISK): Final report, 08 July 2020

For those who care about how risk information is provided – I despise the words educate and communicate – welcome to the world of the European Food Safety Authority.

How hard is it to tell a story, one that is backed with credible information?

That’s how people learn.

A key feature of risk analysis is that risk assessment and risk management should be functionally separated (bullshit). However, the usefulness of a risk assessment may be limited if the output is not designed to help with risk management decisions. The COMRISK project investigated the communication between risk assessors and risk managers. The overall goal of the project was to identify current practices and challenges in communication between risk assessors and risk managers during the risk analysis process, and thus increase and improve the understanding and the quality of the communication between them.

Specific actions to achieve this aim included reviewing of historical food safety cases, analysing risk assessment requests, identifying communication guiding documents, including legislation and agreements, conducting semi‐structured interviews with risk assessors and risk managers, and identifying tools for facilitating the communication between risk assessors and risk managers.

It was concluded that the usefulness of a risk assessment is strongly dependent on well‐defined and mutually recognised risk questions and that scarce or poor communication between risk assessors and risk managers is one of the major reasons when an output from risk assessment fails to support risk management. The communication between risk assessors and risk managers preceding the onset of the risk assessment, when the risk assessment requests with its risk questions are defined, is especially identified as one of the critical points to ensure a risk assessment that is fit for purpose. However, difficulties in understanding were also reported for the communication between risk assessors and risk managers during and after the risk assessment. Lack of communication is seldom a result of formal constraints or agreements nor can it be explained by a wish of the risk assessors or risk managers. Instead, perceived constraints or traditions appear to be possible underlying factors leading to scarce or poor communication between risk assessors and risk managers. It is essential that both risk assessors and risk managers acknowledge the crucial importance of communication between them while at the same time respect their different roles in a risk analysis.

According to respondents, the best solution to facilitate the framing of the risk assessment questions is an open dialogue between risk assessors and risk managers to agree on the goal of the assessment and to build trust. Further, the interview results indicate that a formal systematic process may facilitate communication during the risk analysis. Where there is uncertainty, e.g due to data gaps or issues related to the methodology and models, it should be acknowledged and described properly by risk assessors to risk managers. Training of risk assessors and risk managers may improve the possibility of a timely and fit‐for‐purpose output. Such a training should give a deeper insight in the risk management process, give a better understanding of the risk managers role, and especially raise the awareness of the importance of the communication between risk assessors and risk managers.

To improve the risk analysis process, it is also important that the risk assessor gets feedback regarding how risk assessments have met the needs of the risk managers. The present study also found that aspects of risk communication studied in this project are not extensively discussed in the guidance documents for risk analysis. More research is needed to identify the barriers for a fit for purpose communication.

US Cyclospora infections from salads rise, found in Canada

Chris Koger of The Packer reports that cases of Cyclospora infection linked to Fresh Express salads continue to rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Canada is reporting its first cases.

Lab-confirmed cases thought to be linked to iceberg lettucecarrots or red cabbage in garden salads were 509 in the U.S, as of July 9, according to the CDC. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on July 8 reported 37 cases in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The salads, including private-label bagged garden salads, were processed at Fresh Express’ Streamwood, Ill., facility, according to the FDA.

Fresh Express has recalled salads from the plant containing the three ingredients under investigation, along with Aldi, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, ShopRite and Walmart issuing recalls of private label salads.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported on June 28 Fresh Express had recalled products in Canada. They were distributed nationwide by Crescent Multi-Foods, Federated Co-Operatives Ltd., Fresh Express and Walmart Canada Corp., according to the Canadian Agency.

An edited version of the latest CDC update is below:

On June 27, 2020, Fresh Express recalled Fresh Express brand and private label brand salad products produced at its Streamwood, IL facility that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and/or carrots due to possible Cyclospora contamination.

509 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections and who reported eating bagged salad mix before getting sick have been reported from 8 Midwestern states (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11, 2020 to July 1, 2020.

33 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The Public Health Agency of Canada  is investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora infections occurring in three Canadian provinces. Exposure to certain Fresh Express brand salad products containing iceberg lettuce, carrots and red cabbage, has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express is a likely source of this outbreak.

CDC and FDA continue to investigate to determine which ingredient or ingredients in the salad mix was contaminated and whether other products are a source of illnesses. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

Since the last case count update on June 26, 2020, 303 new laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections have been reported.

As of July 8, 2020, a total of 509 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections associated with this outbreak have been reported from 8 states: Illinois (151), Iowa (160), Kansas (5), Minnesota (63), Missouri (46) Nebraska (48), North Dakota (6), and Wisconsin (30).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11, 2020 to July 1, 2020. Ill people range in age from 11 to 92 years with a median age of 60 and 53% are female. Of 506 people with available information, 33 people (7%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 4 to 6 weeks. If the number of cases reported by CDC is different from the number reported by state or local health officials, data reported by local jurisdictions should be considered the most up to date. Any differences may be due to the timing of reporting and website updates.

Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada  is investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora infections occurring in three Canadian provinces where exposure to certain Fresh Express brand salad products containing iceberg lettuce, carrots and red cabbage, has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak.

Taiwan records 6,944 food poisoning cases in 2019, marking 23-year high

Eric Chang of Taiwan News reports that Taiwan recorded 6,944 instances of food poisoning last year, which marked a 23-year high, according to numbers released by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2019, there were 503 food poisoning incidents, leading to 6,944 people becoming ill, compared to 2018 when 398 cases caused 4,616 people to get sick, according to government figures cited by Liberty Times. Last year’s number of cases was also the second-highest since the country started keeping food poisoning records in 1981.

The highest number occurred in 1997. when 7,235 people were affected by food poisoning.

Among last year’s cases, 4,000 people came down with food poisoning while at school. Most of these were linked to the large group meals served during lunchtime.

The FDA also noted that two cases last year resulted in death: the first resulted from accidentally using a poisonous toad to make frog soup, while the second was caused by ingesting a poisonous mushroom. Prior to that, the last time someone in the country had died from food poisoning was in 2011.

Everyone’s got a camera: Supermarkets edition

I’m not sure what is going on in some supermarkets.

A week ago, South Australian police announced they were investigating after needles and thumbtacks were found in various food items including strawberries at an Adelaide suburban supermarket.

The incidents were reported by three different customers purchasing groceries at the Woolworths supermarket at The Grove shopping complex at Golden Grove, in Adelaide’s north-east.

Police said metal needles were discovered in a punnet of strawberries and in an avocado, and thumbtacks were found in a loaf of bread.

The discoveries occurred between Saturday, June 27, and Wednesday, July 1, police said.

SA Police said the contaminations appeared to be “deliberate acts,”and are being investigated by detectives from the Northern District Crime Investigation Branch, assisted by Woolworths.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company will provide SA Police with CCTV footage from the store to help the investigation.

About the same time, a supermarket worker in Toronto was caught cleaning shopping baskets with spit in the middle of a global health pandemic.

Essential workers in Australian supermarkets are required to regularly sanitise their hands and any high-touch surfaces.

Canada has similar rules, but employees are also required to wear gloves – something Australian supermarket employees don’t have to do under the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Hygiene Practices For Supermarkets.

Footage shows the employee, who works at a FreshCo store in Toronto, Canada, spitting into a white cloth he’s using to wipe down the green plastic carriers, before he stacks them up for customers to use.

The clip, which was filmed on July 5, by a customer who said she was “shocked and disgusted” by the act has since gone viral, with many criticising the man.