25 sickened: Listeriosis outbreak linked to consumption of raw milk brie cheese in France

As Australia reviews its ban on raw milk cheese – with the usual arguments about good and bad bacteria and artisinal crafsmanship  — the Institute of Health in France reports that on Oct 1, 2012, six human cases of Lm infection with the AscI/ApaI PFGE pattern 210792-210792 over the previous 6 weeks were identified by the National reference center for Listeria. PFGE-typing using restriction enzyme SmaI identified 2 distinct profiles, D and Q.

brie-nov2012b1On Oct 22, additional PFGE-matching cases were identified. An outbreak investigation was initiated to identify the source of contamination and guide public health actions. We defined a case as a Lm infection with a PCR-genoserogroup IVb and the PFGE AscI/ApaI 210792-210792 profile diagnosed in France between Aug 1, 2012 and Feb 11, 2013. SmaI Q-associated cases were considered epidemic whereas SmaI non-Q-associated cases were considered non-epidemic. Cases’ food consumption history was collected using a standard questionnaire. We conducted a case-case study, aiming at comparing the food consumption history of both epidemic and sporadic listeriosis cases identified during the same period, as well as traceback and traceforward investigations.

The implicated cheese factory was inspected. Food and environmental samples were collected.

Twenty-five cases were identified (11 epidemic cases). Dates of diagnosis ranged from Sep 4, 2012 to Nov 20, 2012. Consumption of raw milk brie cheese was significantly associated with the outbreak SmaI Q strain (Odds Ratio 35, IC95% [5-366]). Traceback and traceforward investigations identified Cheesemaker. A as the likely source of infection. Cheesemaker inspection did not identify any hygiene violation. Food and environmental samples did not yield the outbreak strain. A point-source contamination of the raw milk is suspected to have occurred.

(Thanks to Albert Amgar for forwarding the document.)

Gratuitous food porn shot of the day grilled brie on a cedar plank with raspberries, almonds, thyme and stuff

When I was in Australia a couple of years ago with Amy, I got a bottle of Lindeman’s red wine and it had this spice pack and recipe attached to the bottle. I rediscovered the stowaways yesterday, so after successfully preparing baguettes again with Sorenne this morning, we went for this food porn dinner:

A wheel of brie, sitting on a cedar plank, with some of the Lindeman spice on it, and then topped with a mixture of raspberries, thyme, red wine, almonds (I also added pine nuts) and more of the spice. Grill for 18 minutes.

The BBQ ran out of gas after three minutes.

So into the oven at 350 F for 12 minutes, served on baguette slices and fresh veggies to preserve our arteries.

It was yummy, but reminded me of fondue.

NC mom wants tougher food regulations after listeria in cheese caused illness

Erin Stadler was at her baby shower when she at a piece of brie cheese that was contaminated with Listeria. The disease made Stadler and her unborn child deathly ill.

"You don’t think about eating one piece of cheese and almost dying. That’s basically, what happened for both of us," said Stadler.

The disease came as a surprise to Stadler in 1997 because up until her baby shower, she had a normal, healthy pregnancy. However, shortly after the party, she began to feel the symptoms of the disease.

When Stadler went to the hospital, doctors immediately delivered baby Allison. She was premature at 33 weeks and weighed just 4 pounds, 33 ounces. Allison was in the hospital for two more weeks for additional tests when doctors realized how ill both Erin and Allison were.

Stadler will be traveling to Washington D.C. next week to talk with senators about passing tougher food regulations. Allison, now a healthy 13-years-old girl will travel to Washington with her mom to discuss a proposed bill called S-510.

Confused Moms to Be

When I was pregnant with Sorenne in the summer of 2008, we spent a month in Canada while the Maple Leaf Listeria outbreak was, in retrospect, percolating in cold-cuts that were being consumed across the country.

If I hadn’t been informed by my food safety guru husband, I could have very easily consumed ready-to-eat deli meat on our car trip north, potentially putting my baby at risk. Sorenne turned out healthy, huge and wonderful. And we are thankful every day.

Several of my former students, friends, and family members are pregnant right now, and somehow I’ve become the expert on food safety during pregnancy. These women have expressed frustration and confusion about the conflicting information they read and receive from their doctors regarding what they can and cannot eat during pregnancy. While I generally think moderation and eliminating stress are priorities, there are a few food safety concerns that are definitely worth considering. I’ve already written on “What you can and cannot eat during pregnancy,” but in light of major outbreaks (and this is barfblog, of the 4 Rs), the information bears repeating.

Pregnant women should avoid:

       ready to eat refrigerated foods such as deli meats, smoked fish, hot dogs, sausages, pâté, and the like. If the food is shelf-stable (canned), it should be ok. Unfortunately, it was impossible to find canned pâté in Manhattan, KS during my pregnancy – but now it’s available at Hyvee.

       soft-serve ice-cream which has been suspected as a listeria risk

       soft cheeses (brie, camembert – pasteurized or not) and we are uncertain about blue-veined cheeses (I toasted or melted my cheese to alleviate my fears. Now this seems laughable since I’m not eating any dairy while I breastfeed.)

       and sprouts because they have been identified as a source of listeria and other pathogens.

Listeria is one of the main food safety concerns during pregnancy because it causes a high rate of miscarriage and stillbirths.

For further reading, consult the Bad bug book, http://www.foodsafety.gov/~mow/chap6.html and the CDC’s excellent site http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/pregnancy_gateway/infection_list.htm#protect


Listeria and Mother’s Milk

Doug wrote a book called Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk about a decade ago. I still haven’t read it. I feel bad about that, but I don’t think it has the answers to my recent nursing questions.

When we were meeting with the lactation consultant in the hospital (Melanie – you are fabulous, by the way), we asked her if foodborne illness could be passed on to the baby. She said no. She said not to worry about viruses such as flu or colds and that the baby cannot get Listeria or Salmonella from anything I eat.

Once home from the hospital, I immediately went for the pâté, brie, goat cheese (thank you Graduate Students!), and smoked salmon. Who knew that motherhood could be so delicious?

4 dead, 90 sick from listeria in brie in Chile

Chilean officials are ordering a recall of a brie cheese suspected of causing a listeriosis bacteria outbreak that has killed four people.

The health ministry says
investigators are trying to determine if Brie Lescure cheese made by the Chilean-French Chevrita company is responsible for an outbreak of the disease that also has sickened about 90 people.

Chevrita manager Denis Lebret said Tuesday the company is conducting its own investigation and he says the recall is "just a precaution."

He said the brie "is made with pasteurized milk and the bacteria does not resist pasteurization."

What you can and can’t eat when you’re pregnant

At our first prenatal visit, which at 8 weeks seemed very late, we finally got some food safety advice from the medical staff. Along with the typical list of foods to avoid (non-pasteurized cheeses, smoked salmon, etc.), the staff member told us if we do eat cold cuts, it is advisable to get them from the deli counter in the supermarket rather than buying the packaged ones from big companies. We were a bit surprised, as this was … exactly wrong advice. The risk of listeria from the deli section is generally higher because it’s difficult to clean the slicers and we do not know how often they are cleaned.

While Ben and Doug have been going back and forth about which cheeses are safe for me and Dani to eat (is pasteurized brie OK or not? what about blue-veined cheeses?), I realize I cannot eliminate every risk from my diet. I can, however, minimize some of them. I just slice the brie, put it on Doug’s homemade baguettes, and pop it in the toaster. (It’s also delicious with a sliced beet.) The heat serves as a kill-step in case there is a concern. No, I do not use my meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the soft cheese. I supposed you could if you really are worried, but at that point it’s probably easier to not eat brie.

Although I very much miss smoked salmon — a staple food before pregnancy, I will not eat it unless it has been thoroughly cooked. Yesterday Salmolux Inc recalled 6140 packages of their Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon Nova Lox because of a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Unfortunately, this kind of recall is common in minimally processed ready-to-eat foods. While no one is reported ill from this possible contamination, the risk is one I’m not willing to take.