A team from the Australian National University looked at the way the body responds to the bacteria Bacillus cereus, which can cause food poisoning and sometimes lead to serious infections elsewhere in the body, including sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.
They found a toxin secreted by the bacteria binds directly to cells in the human body and punches holes in the cells to kill them, triggering an immune response.
Understanding the way toxins produced by this bacteria provoke inflammation in the body is a key to understanding how to treat it, said lead researcher Anukriti Mathur.
“Our immune system acts as a double-edged sword in these kinds of cases,” Ms Mathur said.
“In certain cases where you’ve got a bacterial infection it would be really essential to boost our immune system so that it is stronger.
“However in cases such as sepsis, where you’ve got unwanted inflammation happening in your body, you want to dampen the inflammatory responses.
“A very unique balance is required in protecting us against different kinds of infections.”
But what is it about this bacteria punching holes in your cells that leaves you hunched over a toilet bowl?
It has to do with the parts of your nervous system being targeted by the toxins produced by the bacteria, according to Vincent Ho, a University of Western Sydney gastroenterologist and researcher who was not involved in the study.
Bacillus cereus produces more than 12 different toxins. One triggers vomiting and another diarrhea, Dr Ho explained.
The vomit-inducing toxin, called cereulide, binds to serotonin receptors in the stomach and small bowel and stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls muscle movement in the gut.
“That signals back up to the vomiting centres of the brain,” he said.
“And in a very similar way that is how the diarrheal form also works too. It’s causing direct stimulation of the small bowel, and that’s triggering a reactive response of reflex mechanism called the gastro-colic reflex.
“The toxins are stimulating against receptors in the gut lining … triggering a lot more movement of the muscle in the gut and the colon.”
Bacillus cereus can be found in vegetables, rice and pasta, as well as meat and fish, and will grow in these foods if they are stored at the wrong temperature.
He was worried about a blog post I wrote, with university types to answer to, I disagreed, so the barfblog.com is now totally mine.
It’s expensive for an unemployed ex-prof, but I understand.
Ben can still post when he likes, but it’s about 5 per cent of the content.
And the offending post will soon be up again, and if someone wants to sue, go ahead.
I know what happened.
Sometime in 2004 I went to the Gold Coast in Australia with my soon-to-be-stalker girlfriend.
I went on one of the morning shows, and was going to talk about the importance of thermometers, and the government food agency type said, you can’t do that, Australians just use their fridges to keep beer cold.
The chef at the restaurant we filmed the piece in had a tip-sensitive digital thermometer in his front pocket and said he wouldn’t cook without one.
Eighteen years later, the Australian government, as part of Food Safety Week – shouldn’t it be every day – has endorsed the use of thermometers, rather than the British standard of piping hot.
Testing by Choice has found a number of meat thermometers on sale in Australia were out by 2°C. Food Safety Information Council is urging people to pick up an accurate meat thermometer, using Choice’s survey as a buying guide, after their own research found 75% of Australians surveyed reported that there wasn’t a meat thermometer in their household and only 44% of those with a thermometer reported using is over the previous month.
Charlie Peel of the Australian writes that the woman accused of sparking the nationwide fruit contamination crisis by sticking sewing needles into strawberries will remain behind bars for at least 10 days.
The weird thing in Australia is food safety types won’t go public with what they know when they know it because they are afraid it will upset some British-modeled court case; I say bullshit.
So does all the risk communication literature.
Public needs to know.
Prosecutors opposed the bail application of Caboolture woman My Ut Trinh, 50, who appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning, because they feared she may suffer retribution from those angered by her alleged actions.
Following a two-month police investigation, she was charged on Sunday with seven counts of contamination of goods with intent to cause economic loss.
Ms Trinh, who was born in Vietnam but came to Australia as a refugee 20 years ago, worked at the Berrylicious/Berry Obsession fruit farm in southeast Queensland as a supervisor.
The court heard Ms Trinh was allegedly motivated by spite and revenge when she inserted needles into strawberries between September 2 and 5.
Mr Cridland said the alleged reason for her wanting to seek revenge was “not articulated” by the police.
Arguing for bail, Mr Cridland said the extensive publicity around the case, which included copycat actions throughout Australia, should not influence his client’s ability to be released on bail.
He denied she was a flight risk.
“She has been aware that she has been a person of interest for over two months and she has not changed phone number or address,” he said.
“I might add, other people working on these farms have left the country. She has not.”
Mr Cridland said it was too early to say whether forensic evidence, which found Ms Trinh’s DNA on a contaminated punnet of strawberries in Victoria, was a direct match or a mixed profile.
Prosecutor Cheryl Tesch said bail was “strongly opposed” because there was a “high risk of witnesses being interfered with”.
She said the strawberry farm owner had suffered significant financial loss and reputational damage.
Magistrate Roney said the alleged offending was unusual.
“It is a most peculiar way to go about promoting or agitating a workplace grievance, to sabotage an employer,” she said.
The matter will return to court on November 22.
This is what I wrote when all the unknows were out there.
Last Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, I had a requested op-ed published in the Sydney Morning Herald. I was a little rusty, so Amy did more than just clean it up, and I haven’t gotten around to posting it until now because there was some medical stuff last week, but all is well and here it is:
My 9-year-old daughter and I were watching the news on Saturday morning and she asked, why would someone put a needle in strawberries?
Some people are not nice.
A couple of years ago a food safety type asked me, what’s the biggest risk to the food supply.
I didn’t hesitate.
Deliberate tampering and food fraud.
Food safety has traditionally been faith-based – especially when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables. Consumers cannot control how food is handled before it gets to them. This is why consumers need to know their suppliers and know what they are doing to keep people safe.
This latest food tampering scare – 11 cases of contaminanted strawberries reported nationally so far, the first in Sydney on Saturday – makes that clear.
Faith-based food safety sucks. It always has. Risks have always been present. As Madeleine Ferrieres, the author of Mad Cow, Sacred Cow: A History of Food Fears, wrote, “All human beings before us questioned the contents of their plates.”
But contemporary consumers forget that contamination risk has always been with us: “We are often too blinded by this amnesia to view our present food situation clearly. This amnesia is very convenient. It allows us to reinvent the past and construct a complaisant, retrospective mythology.”
“We still live with the illusion of modernity, with the false idea that what happens to us is new and unbearable,” she has said in an interview.
What’s new is that we have better tools to detect problems. This also presents an opportunity: those who use the best tools should be able to prove their food is safe through testing and brag about it. They can market food safety measures at retail.
The days of faith-based food safety are coming to a protracted close.
There is a lack – a disturbing lack – of on-farm food safety inspection; farmers need to be more aware of the potential for contamination from microbes (from listeria in rockmelon, for example) as well as sabotage.
There is an equally large lack of information to consumers where they buy their produce. What do Australian grocery shoppers know of the food safety regulations applied to the produce sold in their most popular stores? Who can they ask to find the answers?
The best solution is for farmers and retailers to market food safety. If they have a great food safety program they should be promoting it. Consumers can handle more information rather than less.
Douglas Powell is a retired professor of food safety in Canada and the US who now lives in Brisbane. He blogs at barfblog.com
BTW, the Eagles are terribly overrated, but this song has relevance; maybe not to this story, maybe to me.
It’s bad enough to live on Jello – like I had to before my recent colonscopy – but when someone deliberately adds shit, at a hospital, things get worse.
ABC News reports jellies and custards at one of Adelaide’s biggest hospitals, Flinders Medical Centre, were contaminated with a “solid organic” product
Police would not rule out faeces, and said the material was being analysed
Health staff are assisting police with a criminal investigation
“We are satisfied that there are no patients who have been fed the contaminated foodstuffs. No threat or claim has been made in connection with this,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Joanne Shanahan said.
Asked whether it was faeces, and what colour the substance was, Assistant Commissioner Shanahan said she could not comment beyond saying the “matter was being forensically analysed”.
The contaminated items were discovered yesterday on a refrigerator tray in a hospital kitchen, and police were notified this morning.
They have now launched a criminal investigation.
“During a routine food safety inspection yesterday a small number of desserts were identified as contaminated,” said Sue O’Neill, the CEO of the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.
“Staff were vigilant and isolated the area and raised the alarm. Management then initiated a small assessment team who investigated all other prepared food.”
Ms O’Neill said the contaminant was a “solid, organic-looking product” and was “very obvious”.
What you do at home is your own business, but when cooking for 120 children, risk management is a little different.
For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses linked to shell eggs.
As of October 25, 2018, there were 44 illnesses associated with shell eggs from Gravel Ridge Farms, in Cullman Alabama. The CDC has announced that this outbreak appears to be over.
The FDA advises consumers not to eat recalled shell eggs produced by Gravel Ridge Farms. Consumers who have purchased these products should discard the eggs or return them to the store for a refund. For a complete list of stores, visit the recall notice.
Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw eggs and raw egg-containing foods. Dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160° F. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is use either eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products.
On September 5, 2018, the FDA and Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry began an inspection at Gravel Ridge Farms and collected environmental and egg samples for laboratory testing. The results were used to confirm that Salmonella Enteritidis isolates collected from environmental and egg samples taken at the farm were genetically related to isolates obtained from ill persons.
As a result of the outbreak, Gravel Ridge Farms voluntarily recalled cage-free, large eggs and removed the eggs from the shelves at grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail locations.
Twenty-six of 32 (81%) people interviewed reported eating restaurant dishes made with eggs. These restaurants reported using shell eggs in the dishes eaten by ill people.
The whole restaurant dishes-made-with-raw-eggs-thing, such as mayo and aioli is problematic. My 9-year-old knows to ask how the aioli is made if she gets fish, and the server always comes back and says, chef makes it only with raw eggs, and she knows enough to say no.
But we are the poop family (it’s on the front door).
I had a couple of thermometers in my back pack but were not necessary.
Bridget Judd of ABC News reports the photo, purportedly taken at a local meat supplier, shows a butcher handling sausages dressed in only boots and an apron, leaving his bare buttocks exposed.
Kalkarindji Traditional Owner and Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation spokesperson Rob Roy said the butcher and meat supply facility were “easily identified” by the community.
“That to me is one idiot who is treating black people of this community, Kalkarindji, very wrong and not with a lot of respect,” he said.
“To me, that’s making me think back to Vincent Lingiari, maybe that’s why he walked off the station, because he wasn’t treated fair.
“They’re just treating us like dogs.”
Mr Roy said he had asked local supermarkets to dispose of fresh beef and sausages from the meatworks.
He said it was a health and safety risk, and the community should not “eat dirty meat off their sweat”.
“I went to the main mob, our local community store, told them to empty out the shelf,” he said.
“I said the snags, the beef, I want it all chucked away and empty the fridge until further notice.
“I rang the school, spoke to the principal … and told him to dispose all of [the meat], because we’ve got a really serious situation happening here.”
The butcher, who has been contacted for comment, removed the photo from Facebook on Friday afternoon.
In a statement, the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA), which runs a number of remote stores across the Northern Territory, including the Kalkarindji meatworks, said the man’s employment had been terminated “effective immediately”.
According to The Canberra Times, the current drought affecting parts of Australia could lead to a spike in gastro cases around the country, a population health scientist from The Australian National University has warned.
The warning comes from the results of a study, published in the Journal of Water and Health, found reported cases of cryptosporidiosis, rose significantly in parts of Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory along the Murray Darling Basin during the drought that ended in 2009.
Lead researcher Dr Aparna Lal, from the ANU Research School of Population Health, said the study estimated the risk of the gastro bug dropped by 84 per cent in the ACT and by 57 per cent in Queensland once the drought ended.
She said 385 cases of the gastro bug were reported in the ACT and 527 in Queensland, out of 2048 cases in the Murray Darling Drainage Basin, from 2001 until 2012.
“Cryptosporidiosis is one of the most common water-related parasitic diseases in the world, and Australia reports the second highest rate of the illness in humans among many developed countries,” Dr Lal said.
Children under five years old are particularly at risk from cryptosporidiosis, and it can cause developmental problems such as stunted growth.
Dr Lal said droughts reduced river volume and flow, thereby potentially increasing the concentration of pathogens such as those that cause gastro.
“As these gastro bugs can also be spread from livestock, land-use change may also contribute to this pattern, due in part to access around waterways,” she said.
Hepatitis A virus is an important cause of food-borne diseases and has been associated with several European outbreaks linked to berries [1–4]. Here, we describe an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Sweden and Austria and the confirmation of frozen strawberries imported from Poland as the source of infection. The aims are to highlight the importance of sequencing in outbreak investigations and, due to the long shelf-life of the food vehicle, to increase awareness and warnings towards HAV infections related to frozen strawberries in Europe.
Hepatitis A outbreak linked to imported frozen strawberries by sequencing, Sweden and Austria, June to September 2018
Theresa Enkirch, Ronnie Eriksson, Sofia Persson, Daniela Schmid, Stephan W. Aberle, et al
Between January 16 and April 10, 22 cases of listeriosis occurred across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, which led to seven deaths and a miscarriage.
The investigation found the farm that was the source of the outbreak had hygiene and sanitary procedures on par with or better than most rockmelon-growing operations
Dust storms that covered the farm’s paddocks significantly increased the amount of listeria on the fruit
There were other peripheral issues found in the packing facility that were not considered to be major underlying causes
A report released on Thursday by the NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed those cases were all linked to consumption of rockmelon packed at Rombola Family Farms in Nericon, NSW.
The report said the farm’s hygiene and sanitary procedures were “on par with or better than most other rockmelon-growing operations across Australia”.
Despite this, heavy rains in December and dust storms that followed covered the farm’s paddocks in dust, and “significantly increased” the amount of listeria on the fruit.
Rockmelons on the farm were washed in a chlorine solution and scrubbed prior to packing.
“The wash water was not recirculated, sanitiser was constantly monitored and applied through an auto-dosing system, and all water coming into the facility was treated and considered potable,” the report said.
“The netted skin of rockmelons makes this fruit particularly hard to clean and sanitise.”
The report said there were other peripheral issues noted in the packing facility during the investigation.
These included some dirty fans that were used to reduce the level of moisture on melons after washing, and some spongy material on packing tables that was not able to be easily cleaned.
These may have been contributing factors to the outbreak but were not considered to be the major underlying causes.
The report said the outbreak highlighted the need for better control measures and awareness of external threats to food safety in the rockmelon indstury.
As more cases of listeriosis emerged, sales of rockmelon plummeted and failed to recover.