Raw is still risky: Say no to raw dough

My mother used to make and lot of cakes and brownies with her groovy 1960s hand mixer and I always got to lick the beaters.

No more.

And it’s not just the raw eggs, it’s the raw flour.

In June, 2009, an outbreak of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC, primarily O157:H7) in Nestle Toll House cookie dough sickened at least 77 people in 30 American states. Thirty-five people were hospitalized – from cookie dough.

The researchers could not conclusively implicate flour as the E. coli source, but it remains the prime suspect. They pointed out that a single purchase of contaminated flour might have been used to manufacture multiple lots and varieties of dough over a period of time as suggested by the use-by dates on the contaminated product.

The study authors concluded that “foods containing raw flour should be considered as possible vehicles of infection of future outbreaks of STEC.”

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when 63 people fell sick from the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 from Dec. 2015 to Sept. 2016 linked to raw General Mills flour.

There have been about a dozen other flour-related outbreaks. STEC means people – and kids – get quite sick.

Flour is a raw commodity, crops the flour is derived from could be exposed to anything, and testing is so much better than it used to be.

There are some brands of pasteurized flour out there, but people seem to have gotten used to flour as a cheap source of play-dough-like stuff for kids and something to throw at people.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control says, nope.

This is not a Christmas conspiracy (although I prefer Solstice Season): it’s CDC providing information, like they are supposed to.

People can, and will, do what they want.

As Maggie Fox of NBC reports, “Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments,” the CDC advises.

“Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.”

Handling food, including flour, requires care and hygiene.

“Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily,” the CDC notes. “Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked. Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough.”

Raw is risky: 83 now sick with Salmonella from raw milk cheese in France

The number of people sick from Salmonella in reblochons, a type of raw milk cheese specific to the Savoy region of the Alps in France, has risen from 14 to 83.

Public Health France first withdrew the reblochons on Nov. 24, 2018.

Of the 83 people identified so far, 65 were able to be interviewed by the ARS Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Public Health France about their symptoms and their food consumption before the onset of symptoms. Symptoms range from 16/09 to 19/11, with a peak in week 40 (from 1st to 07/10/2018). Fifteen people were hospitalized for their salmonellosis: they are now out and are well; no deaths have been reported. Consumption of reblochon with raw milk before the onset of symptoms is reported by 80% of the cases confirmed by the CNR and interviewed.

‘Something is going on’ Salmonella Typhimurium infections in France jump from 50 to 2500 per year in a decade

(As usual, something may be lost in translation)

Salmonella contamination, found in cold cuts, mainly pork, exploded in 10 years in France, because of the progression of a new strain, called “monophasic typhimurium variant”.

(I particularly like the graphic, right, of the pregnant woman, with five bottles of wine in the fridge and a couple of beers).

On October 30th, lots of dry sausages contaminated with this salmonella were removed from supermarket shelves. Withdrawals and recalls have already taken place in the spring, on sausages that had sickened a dozen young children in the south of France. Dry sausages were also concerned.

Dr. François-Xavier Weill, director of the national center of reference for Salmonella, at the Institut Pasteur, at the origin of this discovery with his teams . It is here, in Paris, that the bacteria are identified, after analysis of the samples sent by the analysis laboratories. This is how the rise in food infections has been spotted.

“While it was detected that about 50 in 2007, we are at 2500 per year now,” says François-Xavier Weill. As a result, this bacterium, which causes gastroenteritis and fever, which can reach sepsis in the most fragile, has risen to the third position of salmonella, which gives the most poisoning. “We sounded the alarm, we said we’re paying attention, something is happening”. 

“Manufacturers must continue their work to limit the risks of the farm to the fork, explains Nathalie Jourdan-da Silva, doctor epidemiologist at Public Health France, agency that gave the alert in 2012 in one of its publications. But there is no risk zero, especially since this salmonella, identified in the swine industry, has since expanded to the beef sector. 

And the father of Amy’s French family was in Paris the other day, and he looked up and saw Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones, so this song is in honor of the time the Stones moved to southern France as tax exiles from the UK and recorded Exile on Main Street.

Stop kissing turtles, or chickens, or snakes or lizards or anything that is nothing more than a Salmonella factory

Ten years after 100 US kids were sickened in a Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles, another 76 have gotten sick (and thousands more in between)

Growing up in late-1960s suburbia, my parents thought dogs should run on farms like their dogs had, and cats were a nuisance.

So I had a turtle.

Turtles were inexpensive, popular, and low maintenance, with an array of groovy pre-molded plastic housing designs to choose from. Invariably they would escape, only to be found days later behind the couch along with the skeleton of the class bunny my younger sister brought home from kindergarten one weekend.

But eventually, replacement turtles became harder to come by. Reports started surfacing that people with pet turtles were getting sick. In 1975, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned commercial distribution of turtles less than 4 inches in length, and it has been estimated that the FDA ban prevents some 100,000 cases of salmonellosis among children each year.

Maybe I got sick from my turtle.

Maybe I picked up my turtle, rolled around on the carpet with it, pet it a bit, and then stuck my finger in my mouth. Maybe in my emotionally vacant adolescence I kissed my turtle. Who can remember?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports today that in June 2017, PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, identified 17 Salmonella Agbeni clinical isolates with indistinguishable XbaI enzyme pattern (outbreak strain) by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The same Salmonella Agbeni XbaI pattern was isolated from a turtle in 2015; in a 2016 investigation involving the same outbreak strain, 63% of patients reported contact with turtles (CDC, unpublished data, 2016). Despite prohibition of sale of small turtles (shell length less <4 inches) in the United States since 1975 (1), illness outbreaks associated with turtle contact continue to occur. Ill persons in previous Salmonella Poona and Salmonella Pomona outbreaks linked to turtles were geographically concentrated in the Southwest region of the United States (2,3). Turtle production is known to be higher in the Southeast region of the country (2). An outbreak investigation by CDC and health departments was initiated to identify the source of the 2017 illness outbreak.

A case was defined as isolation of Salmonella Agbeni with the outbreak strain from an ill patient during April–December 2017. State and local health officials interviewed patients to ascertain turtle exposure information, including details about the species of turtle and purchasing information. Purchase locations reported by patients were contacted for traceback information. Whole genome sequencing (WGS), using high quality single nucleotide polymorphism (hqSNP) analysis, was performed by CDC on clinical isolates from the 2017 outbreak, the 2016 illness cluster, and the turtle isolate from 2015 to characterize genetic relatedness.

Seventy-six cases were identified in 19 states in 2017; two thirds (67%) of patients resided in East Coast states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia).* Patient ages ranged from <1–100 years (median = 21 years). Among 63 (83%) patients with information on hospitalization, 30 (48%) were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. Fifty-nine (78%) patients provided exposure information, including 23 (39%) who reported contact with turtles; among these, 14 (61%) specified small turtles. Among 12 patients who reported how the turtles were obtained, six purchased them from a street or roadside vendor, three purchased them from a retail store, two purchased them at festivals, and one reported receiving them as a gift. The traceback investigation did not identify a common turtle farm that supplied purchase locations. WGS hqSNP analysis indicated that the 2017 and 2016 clinical isolates and the 2015 turtle isolate were closely related, differing by 0–18 SNPs.

This salmonellosis outbreak was linked to contact with small turtles and was associated with a higher frequency of hospitalization (48%) than multistate foodborne pathogen outbreaks (27%) as well as recent Salmonella outbreaks linked to turtles (28%–33%) (2–4). The geographic distribution of patients differed from that of previous outbreaks, suggesting the need to better understand the breeding of turtles and distribution of turtle sales in the United States. WGS hqSNP analysis was used to link historic illnesses and turtle isolates to isolates from 2017 patients, supporting the hypothesis that turtles were the likely source of this outbreak. This outbreak indicates further need to educate consumers and retail store staff members regarding the ban on sale of small turtles and to educate consumers to prevent transmission of Salmonella from pets to humans.

Notes from the Field: An Outbreak of Salmonella Agbeni Infections Linked to Turtle Exposure — United States, 2017

MMWR 67(48);1350

Lia Koski, MPH1,2; Lauren Stevenson, MHS1,3; Jasmine Huffman1; Amy Robbins, MPH4; Julia Latash, MPH5,6; Enoma Omoregie, PhD5; Kelly Kline, MPH7; Megin Nichols, DVM1 (View author affiliations)


References

  1. Turtles intrastate and interstate requirements, 21 C.F.R. Sect. 1240.62 (2011). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=1240.62
  2. Gambino-Shirley K, Stevenson L, Concepción-Acevedo J, et al. Flea market finds and global exports: four multistate outbreaks of human Salmonellainfections linked to small turtles, United States—2015. Zoonoses Public Health 2018;65:560–8. CrossRefPubMed
  3. Basler C, Bottichio L, Higa J, Prado B, Wong M, Bosch S. Multistate outbreak of human SalmonellaPoona infections associated with pet turtle exposure—United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015;64:804. CrossRef PubMed
  4. Surveillance for foodborne disease outbreaks, United States, 2016: annual report. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/fdoss/pdf/2016_FoodBorneOutbreaks_508.pdf

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 246 sick with Salmonella from JBS beef

JBS Tolleson, Inc., a Tolleson, Ariz. establishment, is recalling approximately 12,093,271 pounds of non-intact raw beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The raw, non-intact beef items, including ground beef, were packaged on various dates from July 26, 2018 to Sept. 7, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:  [Products List (PDF) | Product Labels (PDF only)|

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a retail locations and institutions nationwide.

After FSIS Recall 085-2018 on October 4, 2018, FSIS, CDC, and state public health and agriculture partners continued to investigate the outbreak of Salmonella Newport illnesses. The epidemiological investigation has identified 246 confirmed case-patients from 25 states with illness onset dates ranging from August 5, 2018 to October 16, 2018. An additional 16 case-patients have provided receipts or shopper card numbers for the product traceback investigations. Specific traceback for three case-patients have identified JBS Tolleson, Inc., EST. 267 ground beef products that were not part of the October 4, 2018 recall. FSIS will continue to work with public health partners and provide updated information should it become available.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Cracker Barrel in SW Michigan closing because of Salmonella

I’ve spent a good portion of my life on Interstate-75 heading south from Detroit to Sarasota, Florida.

Gramps had a mobile home in Englewood, where he would spend 6-months-minus-one-day every year, to escape the Canadian cold and be covered by insurance.

Amy and I had independently visited Venice, Florida before we met, and we’ve had a few retreats to Anna Maria Island.

A common sight on I-75 was the endless Cracker Barrel restaurants. They looked so appealing, with their ole’ timey messaging, but were no different than turtles, birds and backyard chickens: they were Salmonella factories.

One in southwestern Michigan will not reopen after a problem with salmonella.

The Kalamazoo County health department says it was told about the closing last week. The agency says private tests revealed significant contamination at the Kalamazoo-area restaurant. Results from state tests are expected this week.

The restaurant had reopened after closing in June due to health-code violations. Cracker Barrel, which is based in Lebanon, Tennessee, says the salmonella was not related to the food supply. But the chain says the restaurant has closed because it wasn’t confident that it could “prevent a reoccurrence.”

Uh-huh: Lactalis says no salmonella in baby milk at second production line

But what about that first production line?

That’s me and Madelynn in 1987, the photo I used for my science column (Madelynn is 31 and has a 5-year-old; our hair was, and still is fabulous; she went and saw the Grateful Dead when she was 6-weeks-old)

Channel News Asia reports that Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy group, on Friday (Nov 30) rejected media reports that salmonella had been detected in baby milk from a second production line at a French factory where contaminated milk led to dozens of babies falling ill last year.

The salmonella outbreak at the Craon plant in northwest France led Lactalis to recall millions of tins of baby milk in France and around the world, and drew criticism from politicians and consumer groups about a lack of transparency at the company, which is privately held by the Besnier family.

Oh, France.

Citing an internal report by French health authorities last December in the midst of the product recall, French media reported that two types of salmonella had been detected by Lactalis in products made in the second dryer at Craon.

The company denied this, saying in a statement that a sentence quoted by media was incorrect.

“We confirm that there was no positive test for salmonella in products from the dryer no. 2 before this dryer was halted in December 2017,” Lactalis said in its statement.

My five daughters were all breastfed, and I’m grateful for that. No formula ever touched their mouths.

55 sick from Salmonella linked to long English cucumbers (the looooonnnnnggg ones)

The stories I have about cucumbers.

Especially the long ones.

But I’ve already been threatened with one lawsuit, and will not indulge further, other than the facts.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections involving five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec. The illness reported in Quebec was related to travel to British Columbia. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that residents in eastern Canada are affected by this outbreak.

Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to long English cucumbers has been identified as the likely source of the outbreak. Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating long English cucumbers before their illness.

(Those would be the ones grown in greenhouses, but I’m just speculating, rather than inviting a lawsuit from the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers who like to intimidate with threats of lawsuits, but know shit about growing up in Southern Ontario; bring it on).

As of November 27, 2018, there have been 55 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Infantis illness investigated in the following provinces: British Columbia (47), Alberta (5), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (1), and Quebec (1). The individual from Quebec reported traveling to British Columbia before becoming ill. Individuals became sick between mid-June and late-October 2018. Eleven individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 1 and 92 years of age. The majority of cases (60%) are female.

14 sick from Salmonella in raw milk cheese in France

Since the identification by Public Health France of cases of salmonella infection of people who consumed reblochon raw milk produced by the company La Fromagerie La Tournette, health authorities in connection with the company are mobilized to take all necessary measures for the protection of consumers (something may be lost in translation).

Following the traceability survey that has just been conducted, it was decided as a precautionary measure to withdraw from the sale and recall some reblochons whole and half reblochons raw milk manufactured on this site (sanitary mark FR 74.128 .050 EC) whose expiry dates are between 17/11 and 16/12/2018. Epidemiological, environmental and food traceability investigations are continuing to clarify the origin of the contamination.

Vanity: Raw egg face masks and risks

Ireland has an egg and a BS problem.

Miranda Larbi of The Irish Sun reports that experts have slammed beauty bloggers who claim that they have the answer to treating wrinkles –  smearing raw egg whites onto their faces.

The DIY hack, they say, is not only is it totally bogus, but it could also spread harmful bacteria.

Putting raw egg on your face has absolutely no benefit for your skin, experts say

Cosmetic surgeon Christopher Inglefield is concerned that raw egg masks will result in Brits getting harrowing bouts of food poisoning due to contamination from the unrefrigerated foodstuff.

Mr Inglefield, founder of the London Bridge Plastic Surgery clinic, warned: “Not only is this ineffective practice, it could potentially spread harmful bacteria, such as Campylobacter and even salmonella if you’re really unlucky.

“You should always wash your hands after handling raw egg.

“If it’s on your face all day then you are potentially contaminating everything and everyone you touch. Just think of the risks.”

Bloggers like Beauty Vixxen, AKA Lizbeth Eguia, have promoted using raw egg as a face mask, but experts warn it’s not safe