Emily Olle of 7 News reports 15 people have been struck with salmonella following a national recall of frozen meals sold at Coles and IGA supermarkets.
Core Powerfoods issued a recall of their frozen meals, including the 310g or 350g Going Nuts, Deep South Chilli, Muay Thai Meatballs, Holy Meatballs, Naked
SA Health’s Dr Fay Jenkins said South Australians should throw out their products, with three South Australians among those affected.
“There have been 15 cases of Salmonella Weltevreden in people who ate these products nationally and we are urging anyone with these meals in their freezers to throw them away or return them to where they bought them,” Jenkins said.
“While this particular type of Salmonella is unusual, any kind of Salmonella poses serious health risks and symptoms of infection can begin anywhere between six and 72 hours after exposure and last for three to seven days.”
I built this electronic community originally as the Food Safety Network beginning in Jan. 1993. I consider it one big food safety family.
I provided a health update, not because I sought sympathy, but because I thought I should let the family know what was going on and why my writing had declined.
Australia is currently burning, and every time someone who has just lost everything is interviewed, they talk about how grateful they are for what they have and how they will plunge ahead.
It’s the Australian way, and I am very much of that attitude.
I am not wallowing, I am grateful that Deb will be here in a few minutes for the next four hours (not sure we can go for a walk, there is so much smoke in Brisbane from the fires 100km away that health warnings have been issued).
I’ll continue to teach her about hockey (in Australia you have to call it ice hockey).
And look at these two. They have arrived in Paris, where it’s 5C, and they have no winter clothes, because we are spoiled in Brisbane.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife was helping me into a diaper.
The next day I was trying out a walker so I don’t fall so much.
That’s fairly humbling.
I haven’t been able to write as much as I used to, and don’t know if I ever will, because as my doctor told me recently, you’re a smart guy, you know what’s going on, and I do – most of the time.
Last Monday I was writing at home and developed a full-on seizure and could only speak gobbylgook. Amy asked me what’s her name and all I could mutter was, Bo.
I never call her Bo.
My capacity to speak returned after a couple of minutes, but I soon announced, I feel another one coming on. This time I lost consciousness, stopped breathing and woke up in the hospital. Spent the week there.
Amy and Sorenne are off to France in a few hours – she is a French professor – but somehow, we now live in this country (that would be Australia) that awarded my family support to pay for caregivers who make sure I don’t fall over when we walk to get groceries.
It’s cheaper to keep me in the home rather than an institution.
None of the money goes to us, but it means we get a weekly cleaner (who has the most fabulous tools) and I get about 3 hours of assisted care daily from these nice people. I’m getting extra hours while the family is in France.
University was sorta dull, and after watching my first 3-of-4 Canadian daughters rack up huge student deficits because their mother was an asshole and kept the child support for herself rather than pass it on, I had no issue with Canadian daughter 4-of-4 taking a pass on uni and living the good life.
II’d been putting in time back in the day, to avoid jail, but it was a fouth-year virology course where my neurons started to fire and I was turned on by all things small.
We’re all just hosts on a viral planet.
So allow a viral indulgence.
And koalas are so cute and Australian.
Koalas, according to James Gorman of the New York Times, have been running into hard times. They have suffered for years from habitat destruction, dog attacks, automobile accidents. But that’s only the beginning.
They are also plagued by chlamydia and cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and in researching those problems, scientists have found a natural laboratory in which to study one of the hottest topics in biology: how viruses can insert themselves into an animal’s DNA and sometimes change the course of evolution.
The target of this research is Koala retrovirus, or KoRV, a bit of protein and genetic material in the same family as H.I.V. that began inserting itself into the koala genome about 40,000 years ago and is now passed on from generation to generation, like genes. It is also still passed from animal, as a typical viral infection.
In recent years, scientists have found that the insertion of viruses into the genomes of animals has occurred over and over again. An estimated 8 percent of the human genome is made up of viruses left over from ancient infections, ancient as in millions of years ago, many of them in primate ancestors before human beings existed.
The koala retrovirus is unusual because 40,000 years is the blink of an eye in evolutionary time, and because the process appears to be continuing. A group of scientistsreported in Cell on Thursdaythat they observed a genome immune system fighting to render the virus inactive now that it has established itself in the koala DNA. They also reported that koala retrovirus may have activated other ancient viral DNA. All of this activity stirs the pot of mutation and variation that is the raw material for natural selection.
Koala genetics are a gold mine, said William Theurkauf, a professor in molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and one of the authors of the report. “What they are going through is the process of what’s driven the evolution of every animal on the planet.”
Past viral infections have led to major evolutionary changes, he said. For example: “A gene that is absolutely essential for the placenta was derived from the shell of a virus millions of years ago.” Humans would not exist without that ancient retroviral infection.
Retroviruses are made of RNA, a single strand of genetic information. When they infect a cell, they translate themselves into DNA, the two-stranded molecule that carries all the information for making humans, koalas and other animals. The retroviruses take over the DNA machinery to make more of themselves, which keeps the process going.
That process makes us and other animals sick. AIDS is probably the best known retroviral disease. But when the insertion of a retrovirus occurs in a sperm or an egg cell, the change can become permanent, passed on forever. When retroviruses become part of an animal’s inherited DNA, they are called endogenous and eventually they no longer cause the kind of original infection they once did. But they can still be used by the animal’s genetic machinery for other purposes, like making a placenta.
“It was long thought they were just junk DNA,” said Shawn L. Chavez, a molecular biologist at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine in Portland, who wrote a review of research on endogenous retroviruses in mammals. Now it is clear that some of them have changed the course of evolution. Exactly how is what scientists are trying to find out. “It seems like there’s a new publication every day,” she said.
Consequently, koalas are drawing a lot of attention from scientists who did not start out with an interest in the animal or its conservation. “I’m a fruit fly guy,” Dr. Theurkauf said. He became interested after a report in 2006 by Rachael Tarlinton of the University of Nottingham and other scientists about the invasion of the koala genome by the retrovirus.
Dr. Tarlinton began her career in Australia as a veterinarian with an interest in infectious diseases in wildlife. She became involved in the study of koala genetics because of the problem of chlamydia and because Jon Hanger, an independent researcher, had noticed very high death rates from leukemia and other cancers in koalas kept in zoos. Their research led to the discovery that koala retrovirus was causing some of the cancers and that it was not only infecting the animals but part of their genome.
Dr. Tarlinton and her colleagues established the presence of the retrovirus in koalas in Queensland, but there is another, more southern population of koalas that at first seemed not to have the virus. These koalas also had fewer chlamydia infections. The genetics of the southern population are different because most koalas in that region had been killed for the fur trade by the 1920s. A small number survived by being moved to small islands in the early 20th century.
“From that population, they’ve been reintroduced,” Dr. Tarlinton said. And those koalas have done extraordinarily well, even though they have some genetic problems. There are tens of thousands of them. In some areas they have been killed to keep the population down.
The researchers expected the southern koalas to be less healthy than the northern ones, she said. But the opposite was true.
Still, a deeper look at the southerners’ DNA showed that they weren’t free from the inherited retrovirus as initially thought. The virus was there but it was damaged. The beginning and end of its genetic code were present, but the middle was missing. A report on this work is now in bioRxiv (pronounced bio-archive), an online database for papers that have been written but not yet accepted by peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Tarlinton and the other researchers plan to submit the research soon. The missing middle could be the key to the health of the southern koalas.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance that having this defective version can be protective,” she said.
Sydney woman Lesley Thompson was enthusiastic about her journey across the heart of Australia when she stepped onto the Indian Pacific train with her sister Pam last month.
But in less than 24 hours the elderly woman was being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, struck down with a “vile” case of gastro that began to cause trouble with her heart.
Carrie Fellner of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Ms Thompson is one of at least 100 passengers to have fallen ill in a mass outbreak of norovirus, a form of gastroenteritis, on the Indian Pacific train in recent weeks.
The 80-year-old, from Greenwich on Sydney’s north shore, was relieved she was in good health with no pre-existing heart problems, and has been able to recover from her ordeal.
The Indian Pacific train travels from Sydney to Perth via Adelaide, crossing the Nullarbor Plain on its 4352-kilometre journey.
More than 100 people have become ill with gastro after travelling on the Indian Pacific train.
The first case linked to the train was recorded on September 8 and the latest case was identified on Monday September 30.
Ms Thompson has been unable to get through to health authorities and does not know if they have counted her among the two passengers reported as requiring hospitalisation.
She boarded the train on September 11 in Sydney and fell ill during a stopover in the South Australian town of Hahndorf the following day.
“I was throwing up everywhere,” she said. “It was vile.”
Ms Thompson is yet to receive a refund on the ticket cost of nearly $10,000, and was initially told she had to pay a “curtailment fee” for abandoning the train during the stopover.
A spokesperson for Great Southern Rail, which operates the service, said it was still working through compensation options for affected guests on a case-by-case basis.
The Indian Pacific remains in operation but SA Health said it had the power to take the train off the tracks if the situation escalates.
“The health and wellbeing of guests is paramount and we have acted quickly to respond to this situation,” a spokesperson said.
In 2018, an outbreak of leptospirosis was identified among raspberry workers from a mixed‐berry farm in New South Wales, Australia. Initial testing had not revealed a cause, but eventually leptospirosis was detected via polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Further serological testing detected Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Arborea, of which rodents are the predominant reservoir. Leptospirosis is rare in Australia, with outbreaks usually related to flooding. We conducted an investigation to identify risk factors for infection, to inform control measures.
Cases were detected through laboratory notifications, hospital‐based syndromic surveillance, awareness‐raising among farm employees and clinician alerts. Confirmed cases had a four‐fold rise in antibody titre or single titre ≥400 on microscopic agglutination test, and a positive IgM. Probable cases had a positive Leptospira PCR or IgM, and possible cases had a clinically compatible illness. We conducted a case–control study among raspberry workers on the farm and compared reported exposures between cases and seronegative controls. We assessed environmental risks on‐site and tested rodents for leptospirosis.
We identified 84 cases over a 5‐month period (50 confirmed, 19 probable and 15 possible). Compared with controls, cases were less likely to wear gloves and more recently employed. Cases also more commonly reported always having scratched hands, likely from the thorns on raspberry plants. We observed evidence of rodent activity around raspberry plants and three of thirteen trapped mice tested positive for Leptospira Arborea. Control measures included enhanced glove use, doxycycline prophylaxis and rodent control.
This is the largest known outbreak of leptospirosis in Australia. Workers were likely exposed through scratches inflicted during harvesting, which became contaminated with environmental leptospires from mice. Leptospirosis should be considered an occupational risk for raspberry workers, requiring protective measures. Chemoprophylaxis may assist in controlling outbreaks. PCR assists in the early diagnosis and detection of leptospirosis and should be included in surveillance case definitions.
Investigation and response to an outbreak of leptospirosis among raspberry workers in Australia, 2018
The Flagstaff Group Limited T/A Flagstaff Fine Foods is conducting a recall of the products below. The products have been available for sale at Meals on Wheels and community organisations in NSW, ACT, QLD and SA.
Chicken Schnitzel with Gravy, 360g, Cardboard container clear film seal, Use By: 17/07/2020, 24/07/2020, 25/07/2020, 05/08/2020, 06/08/2020, 18/08/2020, 13/08/2020, 27/08/2020, 03/09/2020
Not enough critical questions answered, coupled with numerical spin.
Jasper Lindell of The Canberra Times reports the number of improvement notices issued to ACT businesses for not complying with food safety requirements more than halved in the last financial year, with ACT Health confident there were fewer serious safety breaches.
Eighty-seven improvement notices were issued in 2018-19, down from 341 in 2017-18. More than 600 were issued in 2015-16, according to figures from ACT Health.
In 2017-18, 2443 inspections were carried out while 2552 inspections were completed in 2018-19.
The targeted amount in both years was 2500 inspections.
The executive branch manager of the ACT Health Protection Service, Conrad Barr, said food businesses in the ACT demonstrated a high level of compliance with safety standards.
“We are focused on protecting the community with our food safety inspectors doing over 2500 inspections every year.
“We also aim to strike the right balance of regulation with our compliance activity, actively working with businesses to rectify any issues that are identified,” he said.
The decline in food safety breaches followed the introduction in 2017 of a model to educate businesses and their staff in food safety requirements, after five years of inspection pass rates falling well below the targets.
ACT Health has collaborated with the Canberra Business Chamber and Access Canberra to run information seminars for food businesses, community groups and event organisers.
Proactive inspections provided a chance for food businesses to discuss food safety issues directly with public health officers, while seminars and self-assessment options were made available to businesses, a spokeswoman for the directorate told the Sunday Canberra Times.
Common food safety issues found in ACT food businesses include a lack of handwashing facilities, poor temperature control and live pests.
Inspectors also identified inadequate cleaning and sanitation, no food-grade thermometer at the time of the inspection, or no nominated food safety supervisor.
In Feb. 2019, people started showing up sick with Salmonella at hospitals in Adelaide, South Australia.
Ultimately 58 people were sickened and health types linked the outbreak to a raw egg butter being served with Vietnamese rolls from three bakeries all owned by Angkor Bakery.
Last week, five people connected with the three Angkor Bakery stores, including two of the owners, faced the Elizabeth Magistrates Court in South Australia. They were charged with failing to comply with food standards and providing unsafe food products.
As my colleague Andrew Thomson of Think ST Solutions writes, outbreaks occur due to a systems breakdown: it’s a financial burden on everyone, including the broader food industry; it causes much pain and suffering for those involved and in legal terms a food business at the centre of an outbreak can be liable for injuries caused and prosecuted by health authorities for failing to provide safe food.
One of the bakery owners told awaiting media outside Court last week of the true cost of this incident to the business: lost public confidence and business sales and now the entire business concern is for sale; owners are unable to engage legal representation due to the financial cost; it has fractured the family.
Steve White from global insurance brokerage and risk management firm, Arthur J Gallagher (Australia), says the best way to protect your customers – and to avoid costly lawsuits, penalties and damage to reputation and business interruption – is to know your obligations, maintain food safety standards and have the right insurance.
Jess Davis of ABC News reports a frozen meringue was key to identifying and outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis (SE), a bacteria that until last year was not found in Australia, that sickened almost 200 people.
People first started getting sick in May 2018 and by July a cluster of cases had appeared in New South Wales. That was when health authorities started investigating.
“Health, through their investigations, were able to look at a number of isolates of Salmonella enteritidis that came from humans, who unfortunately had been ill, and use a technology called whole genome sequencing,” said NSW Food Authority CEO Lisa Szabo.
“So it’s a genetic-based technology that helps us join the dots, shall I say. And this was the first time they could see a group of people with the same whole genome sequence.”
Anyone with a confirmed case of SE was interviewed by investigators and asked for a detailed account of what they’d eaten — to try to find what the different cases had in common.
A few weeks after being interviewed, one of those people remembered they had a frozen meringue cake in their freezer, leftover from a birthday party, around the time they got sick.
Officers went to that person’s home, collected the cake and had it tested.
“We were able to isolate the Salmonella enteritidis and it had that same whole genome sequence. At the same time we could see who manufactured that cake,” Ms Szabo said.
“We could go back to the manufacturer, have a look at their environment, look at how they handle food and where they get their ingredients from, and that’s where we saw the connection to the egg farm.”
It wasn’t until September that the frozen meringue led investigators to a farm on the outskirts of Sydney, but by then the bacteria had slowly started spreading across the industry.
“Once we detected salmonella enteritidis on this particular farm, we then commenced another round of investigations … more from the biosecurity and then the farm side of trying to understand … [whether the] farm had other connections to other properties around the state” Ms Szabo said.
But how the bacteria made its way into Australian eggs in the first place is likely to remain a mystery.
One property in Victoria and 13 in NSW have been affected so far and more than half-a-million birds have been culled at a cost of $10 million.
The spread of SE has been blamed largely on the interconnected nature of the egg industry, with all the infected farms connected in some way.
Egg farmers often trade produce with each other, and equipment and workers also regularly move from farm to farm.
Veterinarian Rod Jenner said SE was difficult to contain because it could survive and multiply without a host and could live in the environment for up to two years.
“It can survive in dust and dirt, in vehicles, and can travel in the wind. Rodents, wild birds, that sort of thing, can carry it on their skin or in their bodies as well,” he said.
“So it has actually been demonstrated to travel vast distances and be contaminated, be deposited on other farms that have previously been free.”
A farmer’s worst nightmareBede Burke’s egg farm at Tamworth in NSW was the 11th property to be infected, with a notification it had tested positive to SE during a routine check just over three months ago.
“Your whole world crashes down around you, you know,” Mr Burke said.
“We just didn’t sleep for a week and that first seven or eight days was really traumatic. We had to learn how to both decontaminate and disinfect the premises.”
When the notification came through on the eve of the federal election, Mr Burke had to withhold his eggs from sale and was faced with the prospect of culling entire flocks.
“But then you’ve got heap of eggs on your premises, you can’t not stop packing eggs, we were still going to pack 90,000 eggs a day,” he said.
“It’s just stress beyond all belief and then start planning for the worst.”
But he was lucky the contamination was picked up early and while a swab of dirt and dust had tested positive, it hadn’t yet spread to his egg or birds.
There have been no confirmed cases of SE since June and the industry hopes that will be the end of it.
But the outbreak has raised serious questions about how biosecurity is managed. Despite the disease becoming a national problem, its enforcement and regulation is state-based.
Philip Szepe, who runs an egg farm at Kinglake in Victoria, tests for all strains of salmonella every three months.
But he’s concerned that not all farmers are as diligent and said biosecurity was too reliant on self-regulation.
“Government’s really good at responding to crisis. It’d be great if the Government had a bit more engagement with the industry around monitoring, surveillance and compliance,” he said.