Elite poop pill

Speaking of poop, this morning I was awoken by my youngest at the brittle hour of 4 AM, he’s almost 2, to inform me that his diaper had fallen off from the excessive weight of his poop. As fun as it was giving him a bath at that hour I read about this poop pill derived from elite athletes to improve your performance… I just want to sleep.

Ian Lecklitner of MEL magazine writes
As a society, we’ve become obsessed with probiotics. And rightfully so: The complex community of microorganisms living in the digestive tract greatly influence our overall health, and probiotics are a proven shortcut to this valhalla of bacteria—colonizing our stomachs with only the good stuff.
But as it turns out, that’s just the bare minimum.
More potent shit is on the way.
New research suggests that performance-enhancing probiotics can be made from microorganisms found in the guts of elite athletes. Swallowing their shit will make your shit—whether that’s running a weekend 5k or hitting eighth for the company softball team—that much better.
In more medical terms, the research, presented by Harvard Medical School microbiologist Jonathan Scheiman, found that the bacteria in the guts of elite athletes—in this case, a collection of marathoners and ultramarathoners—help their bodies better process food for energy, reduce inflammation and eliminate chemicals that cause fatigue and soreness.
This isn’t mere theory, either.
By the end of the year, Scheiman and his team hope to develop performance-enhancing gut-bacteria pills that can make any couch potato’s stomach as strong as that of the winner of the Boston Marathon—no matter how much pizza and beer they devour on a weekly basis.
Now that’s some next-level shit.


Lots of Texas is under water; flooding is devastating

Today is our first full day of Fall, when it comes to scheduling, with both kids back in school.

I’m at home, just finished recording a podcast and have CNN on in the background. I’m watching the Hurricane Harvey coverage, in awe of the devastation of inches and inches of rain.

Last Fall, some of our close by communities in North Carolina experienced flooding following Hurricane Matthew.

I had never seen anything like it.

A couple of months later I traveled to the Greenville, North Carolina area with a few other extension folks and we shot a few videos about returning to a home after a flood. Stuff like cleaning dishes, pots and pans in Part 1; other kitchen items, including appliances, flatware and plastic, in Part 2; food for people and pets in Part 3; and refrigerators in Part 4. Amongst others.

We also have a few factsheets on disaster recovery here (including what to do with foods in refrigerators and freezers after the power has been out for a while)

Thoughts are with the people of Texas.

Better surveillance or worserer food? Increasing foodborne infections in the EU in 2014

Human cases of campylobacteriosis and listeriosis continued to rise in the EU in 2014, showing an increasing trend since 2008.

bureaucrat.pink.flyod“It is worrying that Campylobacter and Listeria infections are still rising in the European Union,” Mike Catchpole, Chief Scientist at ECDC said, “this situation highlights the importance of enhancing listeriosis surveillance through molecular typing, work currently developed by ECDC and EFSA, and strengthening the EU-wide Campylobacter control measures at EU-level”.

There were 2,161 confirmed cases of Listeriosis infections in 2014, a rise of 16% compared with 2013. Although the number of cases are relatively low, the rise of reported listeriosis cases is of particular concern as the surveillance of these infections is focused on severe forms of the disease, with higher death rates than for other foodborne diseases, particularly among the elderly, and patients with a weak immune system.

Campylobacteriosis remains the most commonly reported food-borne disease in the EU and has been so since 2005. The number of confirmed cases in the EU in 2014 was 236,851, an increase of 10%, compared with 2013. This increase can partly be explained by improvements in the surveillance system and/or improved diagnostics for campylobacteriosis in several Member States. In food, Campylobacter was mostly found in chicken meat.

Confirmed cases of salmonellosis, the second most commonly reported food-borne disease in the EU, increased slightly for the first time over the period 2008–2014, due to changes in the number of Member States reporting. However, there has been a statistically significant downward trend of salmonellosis in the seven-year period of 2008–2014. This is mainly due to the successful Salmonella control programmes put in place for poultry by EU Member States and the European Commission.

Salmonella cases tied to pork jump to 90

Be really careful with whole pigs.

JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times writes that the number of people sickened in a Salmonella outbreak in Washington state –has apparently linked to whole pigs – has jumped from 56 to 90.

whole.pig.roastThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public-health alert because of concerns that the Washington salmonella infections might be tied to whole pigs used in pig roasts.

The sharp uptick in cases in less than a week and the lack of a clear source has led state health officials to ask the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send in a special team to help with the investigation. The so-called Epi-Aid group is expected to be in Washington next week, a state Department of Health spokesman said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also involved in the probe.

Investigators say many of the cases appear to be linked to eating pork, or to exposure to raw pork, particularly roasted pigs cooked and served at private events.

The cases appear to have been caused by the same rare strain of bacteria, health officials, Salmonella I, 4, 5, 12:i:-, a germ that has been emerging nationally but has never before been seen in Washington state.

“Roasting a pig is a complex undertaking with numerous potential food handling issues,” FSIS officials said in a statement.


21 now sick; Campylobacter outbreak traced to Alaskan raw milk

The state health department has traced the source of the campylobacter outbreak that has infected now more than 21 people back to Peninsula Dairy, a dairy farm in Kasilof on the Kenai Peninsula; two people have been hospitalized.

The farm operates a cow-share program. The milk is distributed to shareholders throughout the Kenai Peninsula, in Anchorage, and in Sitka. There is at least one colbert.raw.milksecondary case of an infant who became ill after having close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case.

The Peninsula Clarion reports tate veterinarian Bob Gerlach and Donna Fearey, a nurse epidemiologist for the state, on Tuesday inspected Peninsula Dairy, owned by Kevin Byers. Gerlach said they saw no problems with Byers’ operation.

“In comparison to most dairies, he’s doing a very pretty good job,” Gerlach said.

He said Byers had modern and clean equipment and his cows were healthy and well-fed.

In a 2011 outbreak, 18 people were stricken with Campylobacter that was eventually traced back to a farm owned by Byers’ brother in the Matanuska Valley.

The campylobacter infection was of a different strain, however, and Gerlach said connecting the two outbreaks would be inappropriate.

The department cannot close Byers’ farm as cow-share programs are legal, McLaughlin said. The direct sale of raw milk is, however, illegal, he said.

Ignoring the alarm

Matthew Wald writes in the NY Times this morning that “when an oil worker told investigators on July 23 that an alarm to warn of explosive gas on the Transocean rig in the Gulf of Mexico had been intentionally disabled months before, it struck many people as reckless.

“Reckless, maybe, but not unusual. On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said that a crash last year on the Washington subway system that killed nine people had happened partly because train dispatchers had been ignoring 9,000 alarms per week. Air traffic controllers, nuclear plant operators, nurses in intensive-care units and others do the same.”

These are problems of human behavior and design in complex systems — like in a meat processing plant that collects lots of listeria samples but doesn’t act when an increase seems apparent.

If consumers and retailers have food safety recall fatigue, do producers and processors have alarm fatigue – learning to ignore rather than investigate data that may highlight a problem?

In the Maple Leaf 2008 listeria outbreak that killed 22 Canadians, an investigative review found a number of environmental samples detected listeria in the culprit plant months before the public was alerted to possible contamination and that the company failed to recognize and identify the underlying cause of a sporadic yet persistent pattern of environmental test results that were positive for Listeria spp.

Alarms and monitoring systems are established to alert humans – with all their failings – that something requires attention.

Mark R. Rosekind, a psychologist who is a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Times,

“The volume of alarms desensitizes people. They learn to ignore them.”

Wald further writes,

“On the oil rig and in the Guam control tower, the operators were annoyed by false alarms, which sometimes went off in the middle of the night. At the refinery and the reactor, the operators simply did not believe that the alarms would tell them anything very important.

Wald says, “… the alarms conveyed no more urgency to these operators than the drone of a nagging spouse — or maybe the shepherd boy in Aesop’s fable, who cried “Wolf!”

So what to do? The warning systems need to be better designed delivered and continually debated throughout any organization that values a safety culture. Engineers have known this for decades when designing fail-safe systems (sic). The food sector has a lot to learn.

Oysters -steamed – may have caused illness at Raleigh oyster bar

NBC17 is reporting this afternoon that several customers have notified the 42nd Street Oyster Bar that they became ill after eating oysters at the longtime Raleigh restaurant.

Brad Hurley, a partner with 42nd Street Oyster Bar, told NBC17 that the restaurant received calls on Monday and Tuesday from customers who reported becoming sick over the weekend.

Hurley said the restaurant has pulled steamed oysters from their menus. The restaurant does have a separate batch of oysters from the North Carolina coast that is not suspected to cause illness that are still on the menu.

So far it has not been determined what is causing the reported illnesses. The restaurant is going through all equipment and working with the Wake County Health Department to determine the cause of the illnesses.

Army colonel tries old C-ration pound cake, doesn’t get botulism

Field rations for soldiers are designed with two primary motives: 1) providing lots of calories and 2) lasting in a combat zone.

For the most part, taste is greatly sacrificed. But retired Army colonel Henry A. Moak, Jr., thought his 40-year-old C-ration can of pound cake was "good."

Moak got the drab olive can as a Marine helicopter pilot off the Vietnamese coast in 1973. He vowed to hang on to it until the day he retired, storing it in a box with other mementos.

"It’s even a little moist," he said, wiping his mouth after downing a handful in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes following a formal retirement ceremony.

Retired Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek, who was the U.S. Army Europe commander when Moak served overseas, took an even bigger piece. "Tastes just like it always did," Mikolashek mumbled with a mouthful of cake as Moak laughed and clapped.

The AP reports,

"Moak said he wasn’t worried about getting sick from any bacteria that may have gotten into the old can, because it looked sealed. But the military discourages eating from old rations.

"’Given the risks … we do everything possible to ensure that overly aged rations are not consumed,’ said Lawrence Levine, a spokesman for the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia.

"Levine named the threats as mold and deadly botulism if the sealing on the food has been broken, which isn’t always visible."

Mold, maybe. Botulism, no; it arises from improper canning initially – or denting later – but not broken seals. (They only open the possibility of contamination to microbes that like air: B. cereus, Lavine…)

Eating beach sand can be messy – at both ends

When it gets hot in Kansas, we go to Florida.

We’re leaving in a week, with a little work along the way before we settle into our rental on sexy Venice Beach, Florida. It’s the antithesis of places like South Beach, Miami, where celebrities flock and appearances rule. Venice – founded as a retirement community by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in the 1920s – is about as quiet as it gets.

With good beaches.

This year we’ll have 7-month-old Sorenne, and she’s starting to crawl (see below). If she can do this on hardwood, sand will be a breeze.

So we have to aware of sand in the mouth.

Besides the yuck factor, researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that digging in sand on beaches near water with high levels of fecal bacteria could be a risk factor for developing the drips.

For the study, reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers got contact information for more than 25,000 people visiting seven beaches within seven miles of sewage treatment plants.

About 10 days later, the researchers called and asked how they had spent their day at the beach and whether they had experienced problems like vomiting or diarrhea since then.

Those who dug in the sand, the study found, were significantly more likely to report having been sick — with those who had allowed themselves to be buried in the sand most affected. Children seemed to be at extra risk.

The best advice: wash your damn hands, especially before eating.

This isn’t the first time sand has been implicated in human illness.

In May, 2008, children’s playgrounds on Sydney’s northern beaches were closed after a rare form of salmonella normally linked to tropical fish made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.

Color-changing bar codes could indicate safety

I knew Mom wanted us to have dinner with the family, so when my stomach started growling on the four-hour drive to her house I dutifully chose a strawberry milk at the truck stop over the fried chicken I knew was at the counter.

My husband and I both got a bottle of pink moo juice (which is markedly different from yellow cow water) and one was past its “Use by” date.

When I walked back in to tell the cashier, she simply said, “Ew,” and held out her hand for the offending product while I went to get a new one.

I knew the date on the bottle told me when my drink would taste the best; it didn’t really say much about whether it was safe.

Safety is a result of a product’s history.

Brett Lucht and William Euler — chemistry professors at the University of Rhode Island – came up with a nearly invisible dye that will turn red when a package of food gets above 40 F.

That could tell me whether a bottle of milk was likely to be safe before I bought it.

The professors also have a patent for a two-bar code system that uses one made with color-changing dye to mask the one that’s typically scanned at the checkout when the product has warmed up too much.

Sounds pretty cool. I wonder which manufacturers would be willing to use it?