Australia still has an egg problem: Egg recall due to possible Salmonella

The NSW Food Authority advises that the following eggs are being voluntarily recalled by The Egg Basket Pty Ltd because they may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE):

Country Fresh Eggs Just Eggs, 600g, cardboard box

Chefs Choice Free Range, 700g, 30 pack tray

Chefs Choice Cage Free, 800g, 30 pack tray

The Use By dates are 14 June 2019, 20 June 2019, 24 June 2019, 29 June 2019, 5 July 2019, 9 July 2019 or you may identify the individual eggs through the stamp eb24449 on the shell.

The eggs were sold directly from The Egg Basket business in Kemps Creek, and at the Flemington Markets.

Consumers who may have purchased the eggs are advised they should not eat the eggs and to dispose of them in the garbage or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Proof of purchase is not required for recalled products.

CEO of the NSW Food Authority Dr Lisa Szabo said consumers may be aware of a higher number of SE related egg recalls in recent months due to a cluster of interconnected egg farms across the state.

“This recall is related to the detection of this particular organism”, Dr Szabo said.

As part of its response NSW DPI has increased surveillance and monitoring at poultry farms and where necessary has issued biosecurity directions to individual properties, including the quarantine of premises to stop movement of eggs into the marketplace.

Further information about how to reduce your food safety risk when consuming eggs can be found at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/eggs

A table of Australian egg-related outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx.

Should we be afraid of eating sprouts?

I don’t eat much lettuce either.

But I eat a lot of fruit and veg.

 I revealed last week I was nervous about doing a media interview, because I’ve been out of the game for a while, and my brain, just don’t work so well.

Fell again today and it hurt.

I have no balance.

But I still have a brain.

So when a U.S. reporter agrees to chat at 4 a.m. EST (6 p.m. EST) I say sure, because I’ve always been a media whore. How else to spread the message.

I particularily like the lede.

Kate Bernot of The Take Out wrote, “If you ask anyone in food safety, ‘What is the one food you will not eat?’ Raw sprouts tops the list, always.”

That’s one of the first sentences out of the mouth of Doug Powell, a former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog, a frequently updated site that publishes evidence-based opinions on food safety.

I’ve asked him whether food-safety fears about sprouts—those tiny, crunchy squiggles in your salad or sandwich—are well-founded. He tells me the public isn’t concerned enough about them.

“Risk is inherent in the nature of the product which is why Walmart and Costco got rid of them,” he says. (Kroger also stopped selling sprouts in 2012.) “This is not a new problem. It’s been going on for decades.”

According to a paper he and three colleagues published in the journal Food Control in 2012, sprouts have been responsible for at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people globally in the past two decades. The Food And Drug Administration tallies 46 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States linked to sprouts between 1996 and 2016, accounting for for 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations, and three deaths. In an effort to reduce these outbreaks, the FDA in 2017 collected 825 samples of sprouts from across the U.S.; 14 of those tested positive for E. coli, listeria, or salmonella.

The first reason sprouts—whether alfalfa or mung bean or radish or other varieties—can carry E. coli or salmonella bacteria has to do with how the sprouts are produced. The conditions that cause a seed to sprout are the same conditions that cause bacteria to breed: warm, moist air.

“The sprout is made from germinating seeds and the seeds themselves may be the source of the contamination. When you’re germinating a seed and growing a sprout, you’re providing conditions for the sprout growth that are ideal also for bacterial growth,” says Craig Hedberg, a professor in the School Of Public Health at University Of Minnesota. “This is a product that went through incubator-like circumstances.”

The second reason is related to how most of us consume sprouts: raw. Because we value sprouts’ crunch, we rarely cook them before adding them to a dish. Powell notes that people in many Southeast Asian countries do blanch their sprouts before cooking with them, but that the West tends to consume them raw.

The third reason sprouts can pose a risk is because even rinsing them won’t generally remove enough of the bacteria to keep an infected sprout from making a person sick. Hedberg says that even romaine lettuce, which has recently been associated with foodborne illness outbreaks, has a surface area that’s easier to wash than sprouts.

“The seeds can get contaminated as they’re growing, so the contamination can be internal,” Powell tells me. “So you’re never going to wash it off.”

Sprouts do have their defenders, though, who note higher levels of soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and mineral bioavailability compared to non-sprouted grains and vegetables. The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics statesthat “in general, the health benefits associated with savoring raw or lightly cooked sprouts outweigh risks for healthy individuals. However, be aware that there is risk of food poisoning if you plan to eat them.”

The FDA recommends cooking sprouts thoroughly to kill bacteria, and further advises that the elderly, children, people who are pregnant, and people with compromised immune systems should not eat sprouts at all. To further reduce your risk of sprout-related foodborne illness, the FDA says consumers can “request that raw sprouts not be added to your food.” So, bottom line, if you’re concerned—yeah, just don’t eat them. May we suggest beet slivers or carrot ribbons for crunch?

Australia wants to kill my cats

I never had warm-blooded pets as a child. I had turtles that would escape and be found behind a sofa.

In 1985, my soon-to-be veterinarian first wife brought home two kittens from the vet clinic: I named them Clark and Kent.

I’ve gone through a lot of cats over the years.

During our 16-year marriage which created four skilled and tough daughters, my ex would castrate the males on the kitchen counter and remind me that I slept with her.

I didn’t fuck around.

Now that I’m in Brisbane, I went away for a weekend talk and came home to find two fur-expelling kittens that were indoor felines because we were in a townhouse. Now that we own our own property, they roam the grounds, chase away magpies, and occasionally bring a dead (or live) possum into the house.

Why doesn’t Australia focus on the rodent-evolved possums like the Kiwis do?

Jessica Camille Aguirre of The New York Times Magazine writes that present national Australian policy is, feral felines are driving the country’s native species to extinction. Now a massive culling is underway to preserve what’s left of the wild.

In the deep winter weeks of last July, Shane Morse and Kevin Figliomeni nearly always got up before the sun rose. They awoke next to the remains of a campfire or, occasionally, in a roadside motel, and in the darkness before dawn they began unloading poisoned sausage from their refrigerated truck. The sausage was for killing cats. One morning near the end of the season, Morse and Figliomeni left the Kalbarri Motor Hotel on the remote western coast of Australia, where they dined on steak and shellfish the night before, and drove along the squally coastline. They kept their eyes fixed to the sky. If it rained, there would be no baiting that day.

Morse and Figliomeni unpacked their boxes, filled with thousands of frozen sausages they produced at a factory south of Perth, according to a recipe developed by a man they jokingly called Dr. Death. It called for kangaroo meat, chicken fat and a mix of herbs and spices, along with a poison — called 1080 — derived from gastrolobium plants and highly lethal to animals, like cats, whose evolutionary paths did not require them to develop a tolerance to it. (The baits would also be lethal to other nonnative species, like foxes.) As the sun brightened the brume, the baits began to defrost. By midmorning, when Morse helped load them into a wooden crate inside a light twin-engine propeller Beechcraft Baron, they were burnished with a sheen of oil and emitted a stomach-turning fetor. The airplane shot down the runway and lifted over the gently undulating hills of the sand plains that abut the Indian Ocean.

Rising over the mantle of ghostlike smoke bushes that carpeted the ground to the treeless horizon, the plane traced a route over the landscape, its bombardier dropping 50 poisoned sausages every square kilometer. It banked over the deep cinnamon sandstone gorges carved by the Murchison River, which extends to the coastal delta, surveying the edge of one of earth’s driest, hottest continents, where two to six million feral cats roam. As it flew, it charted the kind of path it had done dozens of times before, carpeting thousands of hectares of land with soft fingers of meat, laying down nearly half a million baits in the course of one month. Dr. Death, whose real name is Dr. Dave Algar and who is the principal research scientist in the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions for the state of Western Australia, told me that he began developing the recipe for the poisoned sausages by examining cat food in supermarkets and observing which flavors most thrilled his own two cats. As Morse said: “They’ve got to taste good. They are the cat’s last meal.”

These fatal airdrops owed their existence to Australia’s national government, which decided in 2015 to try to kill two million feral cats by 2020, out of grave concern for the nation’s indigenous wildlife — in particular, groups of small, threatened rodent and marsupial species for which cats have become a deadly predator. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology estimated that 211,560 cats were killed during the first 12 months after the plan was announced. Dropping lethal sausages from the sky is only part of the country’s efforts to eradicate feral cats, which also include trapping, shooting and devising all manner of poison-delivery vessels.

When the policy was announced, it was met in some quarters with apoplexy. More than 160,000 signatures appeared on half a dozen online petitions entreating Australia to spare the cats. Brigitte Bardot wrote a letter — in English, but with an unmistakably French cadence — beseeching the environment minister to stop what she called animal genocide. The singer Morrissey, formerly of the Smiths, lamented that “idiots rule the earth” and said the plan was akin to killing two million miniature Cecil the Lions. Despite anger from some animal rights groups and worries about the potential effects on pet cats, Australia went ahead with its plan, and the threatened-species commissioner replied by mail to both Bardot and Morrissey, politely describing the “delightful creatures” already lost to the world.

After that, Morse and Figliomeni spent much of each baiting season behind the wheel of their rig, hauling boxes to the most remote corners of one of the least populated places in the world, to beat back what Australia has deemed an invasive pest. As is the case on islands around the world, the direction of life in Australia took a distinctly different route than that on the larger continents, and unlike places like North America, the country has no native cat species. Over millions of years of isolation, Australia’s native beasts became accustomed to a different predatory order, so while cats aren’t necessarily more prevalent there than anywhere else, their presence is more ruinous. They have also become nearly ubiquitous: According to the estimates of local conservationists, feral cats have established a permanent foothold across 99.8 percent of the country, with their density reaching up to 100 per square kilometer in some areas. Even places nearly devoid of human settlement, like the remote and craggy Kimberley region, have been found to harbor cats that hunt native animals. The control effort, to which Western Australia’s baiting program belongs, was meant to ease the predation pressure that cats exerted in every corner of the country where they had settled. Faced with a choice between a species regarded as a precious pet and the many small creatures of their unique land, Australians seemed to have decided that guarding the remaining wild might mean they would have to spill some blood.

BTW, Ted Nugent sucks.

FDA seeking source of imported melons in Salmonella outbreak

When Listeria killed seven people in Australia last year, linked to rockmelon (cantaloupe for you North American types) growers acted like it never happened before and just wanted to get product back on shelves.

They should never be cut in half, although all retailers do it, and it’s just greed over public health.

In the fall of 2011, 33 people were killed and 147 sickened from Listeria linked to cantaloupe in the U.S.

And it keeps happening.k on

 The number of people with salmonella linked to fresh-cut melons shipped by Caito Foods has increased, and the Food and Drug Administration has released a list of hundreds of retail outlets that received the products.

The exact source of the imported melons, however, has not been released, and the FDA continues its traceback investigation.

The FDA expanded the list of private-label brands in the outbreak, which was first reported by the FDA on April 12. In its first update on the outbreak, the FDA on April 24 posted the locations of almost 1,500 retail locations that received the fresh-cut cantaloupehoneydew and watermelon products from Caito Foods, Indianapolis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported April 24 that the number of people who have become ill has risen from 93 to 117 in 10 states. PulseNet, a national network that allows health and regulatory agencies to identify outbreaks, first alerted the CDC about the outbreak on April 2.

The CDC reported illness onset dates range from March 4 to April 8. No deaths have been reported; 32 people have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.

The type of salmonella in the outbreak, Salmonella Carrau, is rare, historically seen in imported melons. Caito Foods told investigators the melons used in the products were imported, according to the FDA.

Caito Foods was linked to a similar outbreak in 2018 involving Salmonella Adelaide in fresh-cut melon products.

Australia still has an egg probem: 51 sick from Salmonella at bakery

Brad Crouch of The Advertiser writes that raw eggs are to blame for a salmonella outbreak that so far has left 51 people sick including 19 admitted to hospital.

A SA Health investigation into the outbreak linked to three Angkor Bakery stores has found the likely source of contamination related to handling of raw egg products.

SA Health’s Acting Director of Public Health Services, Dr Fay Jenkins, said a number of food and environmental samples collected from all stores last week returned positive results for Salmonella.

 “Given the sample results and the strain of the Salmonella outbreak, it is most likely that the cause of contamination was related to handling raw egg products,” Dr Jenkins said.

“The owners of the Angkor Bakery stores continue to work closely with the local councils and SA Health to improve their practices, and all three bakeries closed voluntarily during the investigation.”

“Many food poisoning outbreaks have been associated with foods containing raw or partially cooked eggs such as aioli, mayonnaise, hollandaise or tartare sauce and mousse,” Dr Jenkins said.

“The external shell of eggs may contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, and while eggs may not necessarily look or smell ‘off’ they may be contaminated.

“It’s important to check that eggs are clean and not cracked or dirty — and those that are should be thrown out.

Lakhina Eung, the shop owner of the bakery in Burton, told ABC News she was sorry to anyone impacted by the outbreak and hoped the community would still support the business.

“I couldn’t sleep for over three days now so it’s been stressful,” she said.

“I am really sorry to everyone that is affected and also I hope that the community will still be supportive to us and our customers [will] still support us.

“I hope that the public and the community still trusts us and we [will] try our best to do everything as the council and SA Health require.”

As soon as you learn some basic microbiology and don’t make customers barf.

A table of Australian egg-related outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx.

And to Dave, Sophie and Carol, who told me in the past week to stop pissing in the wind, this is for you.

It was probably the raw egg butter: 11 sick with Salmonella, Australia still has an egg problem

A salmonella outbreak linked to three bakeries in the northern suburbs has left nine people in hospital.

SA Health has confirmed 11 cases of salmonella have been reported after people ate Vietnamese rolls from three Angkor Bakery stores.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nicola Spurrier said that of those eleven people, nine were hospitalised due to the severity of the poisoning.

 “Early investigations indicate the cases could be linked to raw egg butter, pate or BBQ pork ingredients.

“The businesses complied with a council request on Tuesday to cease using these ingredients and, from today, the businesses have agreed to cease selling all Vietnamese rolls until the source has been identified.

“Cleaning and sanitising procedures have also been assessed and improved,and will continue to be monitored.”

An updated table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-2-3-2019

BS: Report says poor regulation contributed to Australia strawberry tampering crisis

A new report into Australia’s 2018 strawberry tampering crisis, which caused catastrophic economic damage to the industry, has found food-tracing protocols need to be strengthened.

Lucy Stone of The Sydney Morning Herald reports the report also found that food safety expertise in the horticulture industry was “variable” due to there being many small businesses, with no regulatory or industry oversight particularly for strawberry farmers (uh, I’m right here).

The “fragmented nature” of the sector also complicated matters with no regulation tracking strawberry farm locations during the crisis, and the use of seasonal or contract pickers muddying traceability.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) was commissioned by Health Minister Greg Hunt to review the response to the strawberry contamination crisis, which began on September 9 when a man swallowed a needle hidden inside a strawberry.

Within days more reports had been made to Queensland Health and Queensland Police of similar incidents, sparking copycat actions of needles being hidden in fruit across Australia and New Zealand.

The crisis saw strawberry production nationally grind to a halt, with Queensland growers dumping thousands of tonnes of fruit that could not be sold.

A Caboolture woman, 50-year-old strawberry farm supervisor My Ut Trinh, was arrested and charged with six counts of food tampering, ending the crisis.

But is more regulation and oversight really gonna stop someone driven by demons from inserting needles into produce?

Is there a better approach to both protect and enhance consumer confidence in the wake of an outbreak, tampering, or even allegations of such?

On June 12, 1996, Dr. Richard Schabas, chief medical officer of Ontario (that’s a province in Canada), issued a public health advisory on the presumed link between consumption of California strawberries and an outbreak of diarrheal illness among some 40 people in the Metro Toronto area. The announcement followed a similar statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in Houston, Texas, which was investigating a cluster of 18 cases of cyclospora illness among oil executives.

Turns out it was Guatemalan raspberries, not strawberries, and no one was happy.

The initial, and subsequent, links between cyclospora and strawberries or raspberries in 1996 was based on epidemiology, a statistical association between consumption of a particular food and the onset of disease.

The Toronto outbreak was first identified because some 35 guests attending a May 11, 1996 wedding reception developed the same severe, intestinal illness, seven to 10 days after the wedding, and subsequently tested positive for cyclospora. Based on interviews with those stricken, health authorities in Toronto and Texas concluded that California strawberries were the most likely source. However, attempts to remember exactly what one ate two weeks earlier is an extremely difficult task; and larger foods, like strawberries, are recalled more frequently than smaller foods, like raspberries.

By July 18, 1996, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control declared that raspberries from Guatemala — which had been sprayed with pesticides mixed with water that could have been contaminated with sewage containing cyclospora — were the likely source of the cyclospora outbreak, which ultimately sickened about 1,000 people across North America. Guatemalan health authorities and producers vigorously refuted the charges. The California Strawberry Commission estimated it lost $15-20 million in reduced strawberry sales.

The California strawberry growers decided the best way to minimize the effects of an outbreak – real or alleged – was to make sure all their growers knew some food safety basics and there was some verification mechanism. The next time someone said, “I got sick and it was your strawberries,” the growers could at least say, “We don’t think it was us, and here’s everything we do to produce the safest product we can.”

That was essentially the prelude for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration publishing its 1998 Guidance for Industry: Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. We had already started down the same path, and took those guidelines, as well as others, and created an on-farm food safety program for all 220 growers producing tomatoes and cucumbers under the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers banner. And set up a credible verification system involving continuous and rigorous on-farm visits: putting producers in a classroom is boring, does not account for variations on different farms and does nothing to build trust. Third-party audits can be hopeless indictors of actual safety on a day-to-day basis and generates the impression that food safety is something that can be handed off to someone else.

The growers themselves have to own their own on-farm food safety because they are the ones that in the marketplace. Bureaucrats will still have their taxpayer-funded jobs, farmers lose.

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? Do such regulations exist? Who can they ask to find the answers?

The Sydney Morning Herald also notes that in the report published on Friday, FSANZ made several recommendations to prevent similar crises in the future, including greater regulation for the industry.

The lack of a peak soft fruits regulatory body left the small Queensland Strawberry Growers Association “inundated with calls”, while national horticulture body Growcom later helping manage communication.

The crisis prompted Prime Minister Scott Morrison to announce legislation to extend the jail time for anyone convicted of food tampering to 15 years.

Police handled more than 230 reports of fruit sabotage across Australia, across 68 brands, with many reports of copycats and hoaxes.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand made seven recommendations in its final report, including a recommendation that all jurisdictions review food incident response protocols.

A central agency should be engaged to manage national communication in future food tampering incidents, and communication between regulators, health departments and police should be reviewed, the organisation found.

Triggers for “activation and management of intentional contamination of food” under the National Food Incident Response Protocol (NFIRP) should also be reviewed.

This recommendation was despite the NFIRP not being activated during the strawberry contamination issue. The protocol is a national incident response that can be activated by any agency to manage food incidents.

 “Due to the unique criminal nature of this case and associated investigation, the protocol was not triggered,” the report said.

The horticulture sector also needs a representative body to “support crisis preparedness and response”, and traceability measures to track food through the sector needed greater work.

“Government and industry should work together to map the current state of play and identify options and tools for enhancing traceability,” the FSANZ report recommended.

A single national website for food tampering should be set up to give the public clear information, the report found.

The report found greater regulation of the horticulture sector was needed and cited the complexity of small farm and distribution operations as making the investigation difficult.

A suggestion that strawberry farms should be fitted with metal detectors also raised concerns about cost and practicality, while tamper-proof packaging risked shortening shelf life, and criticisms about increased use of plastic packaging.

For 20 years, I have been advising fruit and vegetable growers there are risks: Own them: Say what you do, do what you say, and prove it. The best producers or manufacturers can do is diligently manage and mitigate risks and be able to prove such diligence in the court of public opinion; and they’ll do it before the next outbreak.

E. coli in organic milk, kefir, sparks two separate recalls in Australia

Mungalli Creek Kefir 1 L has been recalled in Cairns and Townsville due to the possible presence of E. coli, while Organic Milk Group is recalling OMG Organic Milk 1 L in Tasmania with a best before date of February 4, 2019, also for the possible presence of E. coli.

No info on what type of E. coli was found.