‘I’ve never made anyone sick before’ Hometown fairytale after 100 sickened

Brantford, Ontario, my hometown where the telephone, Wayne Gretzgy and Massey-Ferguson combines were all birthed (it’s in Canada) has convicted a DIY caterer linked to a food poisoning outbreak last year.

massey-ferguson-combineLana Plank of Lana Plank Catering was fined $500.

Plank was charged last December after an extensive investigation into how about 100 people became sick after eating a lunch she prepared in September 2015.

Those affected were among more than 150 people at a daylong workshop held by Brant Family and Children’s Services at the South Dumfries Community Centre in St. George. The resulting illnesses – cramps, diarrhea, headaches and nausea – affected the agency for days with some staff feeling the effects two weeks later.

The investigation tracked the problem to the egg and potato salad wraps made and served by Plank. The food was contaminated with plesiomonas shigelloides, inked to raw shellfish and unsanitary conditions, and enterotoxigenic escherichia coli, a common cause of traveller’s diarrhea.

Plank was not a registered caterer in Brant County at the time of the incident, nor inspected by the Brant County Health Unit. But justice of the peace Audrey Greene Summers was told Plank, a resident of Waterford, is a registered caterer in Norfolk County.

She was originally charged with operating a food premise without notifying the health unit but that charge was dropped upon her guilty plea.

Defence lawyer John Renwick said Plank has been in business for many years and has worked for a long-term care facility with no previous problems.

Renwick said Plank believes the symptoms suffered by the agency employees could have been part of a wider bug going around the community.

“Those are suspicions on her part but she’s not in a position to challenge (the agreed upon facts),” said Renwick.

He also noted that Plank did not receive a list of food to which people were allergic.

The case drew the attention of Public Health Ontario and saw the local health unit interview many of those affected, solicit surveys from others and obtain results from several laboratories. The case was based on stool samples and an extensive analysis of data.

“I’d like to commend our staff for their hard work on this incident,” Jeff Kowal, manager of environmental health for the health unit, said in written statement released late Tuesday.

“This was a prime example of the important role the health unit plays in investigating cases of food-borne illness to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Kowal said food safety is taken seriously by the health unit. All food service workers must use safe food handling practices to prevent food-borne illnesses.

He reminded people hiring a caterer to first visithttp://inspectionreports.bchu.org to see the reports on inspected caterers.

Maybe the Brant County health unit should practice what it preaches.




Unlicensed Washington caterer exposes dozens to Salmonella

Kenny Ocker of The News Tribune reports that Rick Stevenson told health inspectors he used the kitchen in a buddy’s rental house in Snohomish County to cook chicken, along with other fixings, for an event nearby in early July.

tacoma.catererBut officials say Stevenson, who runs the unlicensed Mr. Rick’s Catering out of a Tacoma home, failed to cook the chicken through and sickened several people with salmonella.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department had contacted Stevenson multiple times since 2012 telling him to shut down his business. After the Snohomish County incident, the department fined him $710 for continuing to operate without a permit.

Department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers said Wednesday that the state Department of Health is leading the investigation into the food poisoning because the people who attended the event came from throughout Washington.

State spokeswoman Julie Graham said the state has confirmed three cases of salmonella from the July 2 event, which about 175 people attended. At least a dozen more responded to a survey of attendees, saying they also were sickened.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever, chills, dehydration and abdominal pain.

At the event, Stevenson served chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, Italian pasta salad, green salad and some beverages, according to Christina Sherman, an environmental health specialist for the county health department.

“From discussing his processes with him, we could see that he didn’t have enough equipment to prepare all of this food safely and didn’t have enough equipment to keep it warm once it was prepared,“ Christina Sherman, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Rachel Knight, food safety program manager at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, said “Local caterers with the appropriate permit to prepare and serve food at events are responsible for following food safety rules—and protecting the public’s health.”

34 kids sickened with Salmonella from caterer in Paris

From 24 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, the Paris Mother and Child Health Protection Service reported 10 cases of salmonellosis in children attending four nurseries located in the 7th borough of Paris. Following this event, the National Reference Center for Salmonella reported an increase of salmonellosis cases in Paris in December 2012 and identified rare strain in several cases.

parisThirty-four cases of salmonellosis were identified during the investigations (30 confirmed cases and 4 probable cases), including 10 children attending four nurseries, and 24 community cases. The outbreak lasted 10 weeks and was due to 2 strains of Salmonella: serotype Typhimurium belonging to Crispol type 51 (CT51) and serotype 4,12:i:-, a monophasic variant of serotype Typhimurium and CT1. Cases were interviewed on their food consumption. Most of them reported having consumed products bought from a caterer located in the 7th borough of Paris several days before the onset of symptoms. A random inspection in the caterer’s premises from the Paris Health Protection authorities revealed many infringements to food hygiene. Among samples collected in the caterer’ shop, 2 S. Typhimurium CT51 and S. 4,12:i:- CT1 strains were found on the surfaces and in the food.

This investigation emphasized the importance of maintaining strict hygienic conditions and temperature control in catering outlets. It also emphasized the Mother and Child Health Protection Service’s role through observation and early reporting. This report was the “visible” part of a larger epidemic event that included both cases attending daycare centers and in the community which occurred simultaneously.

16 funerals and a lot of vomit, same caterer, Quebec, 2011

In January 2011, multiple acute gastroenteritis outbreaks that spanned many days and were related to attendance at funerals were reported to public health units in Quebec. An epidemiological investigation was initiated to identify the source of the contamination and to explain the extent 96204568_Rowan_214090gof the contamination over time. Thirty-one cohorts of individuals attended different funerals held between 14 and 19 January. All attendees were served a cold buffet made by the same caterer. Of these 31 cohorts, 16 (with a total of about 800 people) contained individuals who reported being ill after the funeral. Symptoms were mainly diarrhea (89 to 94% of individuals), vomiting (63 to 90%,) and fever (26 to 39%), with a median incubation period of 29 to 33 h and a median duration of symptoms of 24 to 33 h, suggesting norovirus-like infection. Among the 16 cohorts, 3 were selected for cohort studies. Among those three cohorts, the mean illness rate was 68%. Associations were found between those who fell ill and those who had consumed pasta salad (relative risk [RR] = 2.4; P = 0.0022) and ham sandwiches (RR = 1.8; P = 0.0096). No food handlers reported being sick. No stool samples were provided by individuals who became ill. Environmental and food samples were all negative for causative agents. Although the causative agent was not clearly identified, this investigation raised many concerns about the importance of preventing foodborne four.weddings.funeraltransmission of viral gastroenteritis and generated some recommendations for management of similar outbreaks.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, January 2013, pp. 1488-1657, pp. 1582-1589(8)

Gaulin, Colette; Nguon, Soulyvane; Leblanc, Marie-Andree; Ramsay, Danielle; Roy, Sophie

New Food Safety Infosheet: Over 50 norovirus illnesses linked to ill food handlers

The newest food safety infosheet, a graphical one-page food safety-related story directed at food businesses, is now available.

Food Safety Infosheet Highlights:

– Mankato, MN civic center catering company linked to virus outbreak at two separate events

– Investigators trace outbreak to multiple food handlers who were ill

– Don’t handle food while ill; especially if you have symptoms like diarrhea (when transmission is likely) or vomiting (as virus particles may be spread to hands, clothes and other surfaces).

Click here to download.

UK man hit with £100K bill for running illegal catering firm

 Food inspectors found a disgusting mess at an illegally-run Hampshire catering firm – and now its owner faces a £100,000 bill.

Tired of its repeated flouting of the rules designed to keep people safe, council officials raided Paul Gillingham’s suburban base in Winchester.

The Daily Echo reports inspectors found unidentifiable food in the filthy kitchen, including 30 joints of meat, and also food in freezers under tarpaulins in the garden.

High-risk food was even stored in a Ford Transit, including mayonnaise, which had to be kept below 8C but was at 18C.

With the case closed, pictures of what inspectors found have just been released.
Now Gillingham, 55, faces a £95,000 legal bill that, barring a major windfall, looks set to “follow him around forever”.

Winchester City Council has won an order against him under the proceeds of crime act, because he was running an unlicensed business.

Gillingham had earlier admitted 30 food hygiene offences and was fined more than £7,000 by Winchester Crown Court.

The proceeds of crime order means that Gillingham must repay £95,000 made by County Caterers while it traded illegally between October 2004 and October 2010.

Another unregistered caterer makes people barf at a wedding in Germany; don’t put flowers in food

In a triumph of food porn over food safety, an investigation into an outbreak of salmonellosis in the summer of 2010 after a wedding party in Bavaria, Germany that sickened at least 52 people failed to pinpoint a specific food source but did uncover a number of disturbing food safety practices – such as adding rose petals to food and no temperature checks — again linked to an unlicensed caterer.

German researchers report in Eurosurveillance this week that in the summer of 2010, a local health office in northern Bavaria, Germany, was informed that approximately half of the 110 guests of a wedding that had taken place the preceding weekend had contracted gastroenteritis. At the wedding party, soup and a late-lunch buffet (served from 3 p.m.) and a cold dinner buffet (served from 10 p.m.) had been provided by an out-of-town caterer. In addition, a wedding cake made by a local bakery and a number of cakes and desserts contributed by different wedding guests were served by the catering staff at 20.00. The food served at the wedding was suspected to be the source of the outbreak. Initial laboratory results of stool samples of some guests who became ill indicated Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis) as the causative pathogen.

According to the caterer, only the meat dishes were prepared at the caterer’s facilities in advance. All sauces, antipasti and salads were made from commercially produced ingredients and were prepared at the wedding party venue. Food items that required cooling were transported in cooling boxes and stored in cooling units at the venue. At the venue, the lunch buffet was set up for six hours, between 2 p.m. (the buffet was set up one hour before it was available to guests) and 8 p.m. No checks were carried out of holding temperatures of the warm or cold dishes. Salads and other cold dishes were not cooled during this period. Photographs of the buffet showed that a number of the cold dishes were decorated with non-edible flowers (such as roses), which were inserted into the food. The flowers had been purchased at a wholesale retailer. Cakes supplied by a number of wedding guests were stored without cooling until they were served at 20:00. The dishes of the dinner buffet were not cooled. They were first served at 10 p.m. It is unclear for how long the dishes of the dinner buffet were served; however, it is known that the catering personnel departed at 00.30.

Inspection of the catering facilities and interview of the catering staff revealed a number of shortcomings contravening European food hygiene regulations. The facilities used by the caterer were not registered with the local authorities. There were no records of the required staff training on food hygiene. No temperature controls of cooling devices or transport boxes were carried out, nor were temperatures monitored during preparation or serving of warm dishes. There were no records of HACCP concept planning or implementation. The company was banned from catering until proof of changes in their practices had been provided to the local authorities.

The cohort study showed that a variety of dishes were associated with a significantly increased risk of infection: in particular consumption of a group of lunch dishes containing mayonnaise was associated with a high relative risk. Despite the constraint of a two-week delay between the wedding party and the questionnaires being sent out, participants appeared to recollect well which dishes they had consumed.

The isolation of S. Enteritidis from two of the food samples at the wedding party was judged to show that the food served posed a health risk, as all the food items were ready for consumption without requiring further preparation or heating. The isolation of indistinguishable Salmonella strains from the food samples as well as from stool samples of respondents and catering personnel supported the hypothesis that the outbreak was foodborne.

There are several possibilities for the source of the Salmonella contamination in this outbreak. Mayonnaise is a well-recognized vehicle of contamination when raw egg is used as an ingredient. However, in this outbreak all cold dishes and salads were made from commercially prepared ingredients. As commercially produced mayonnaise and sauces are conventionally based on pasteurized ingredients, it is unlikely that they would be the primary source of contamination. Commercial mayonnaise by itself is also not suitable for Salmonella propagation, due to its low pH adjusted by acetic acid. However, addition of mayonnaise to other salad ingredients may alter the overall acetic acid concentration of the mixture, thus providing a suitable base for proliferation once the pathogen has been introduced by secondary contamination.

The environmental investigation revealed a number of infringements of food safety regulations, including a lack of staff training and the absence of records of a food safety concept according to the HACCP principles. Lack of temperature controls for food storage and transport as well as prolonged presentation of buffet dishes at room temperature provided ideal conditions for pathogen proliferation, regardless of the primary source of contamination.

While they do not replace official controls, the HACCP principles are central to the European concept of food safety by helping food business operators to attain a high standard of food safety. Successful implementation of procedures based on the HACCP principles requires the full cooperation and commitment of food business employees. Adequate training of personnel is central to achieving this goal.

The outbreak investigated in this study demonstrates the consequences of lack of staff training and the failure to identify hazards to food safety, as well as failure to implement control measures to mitigate such hazards. The use of flowers as food decoration demonstrated insufficient understanding of the potential for contamination through products that are not intended for food production and therefore not subject to food hygiene regulations.

Intelligently implemented food hygiene concepts not only benefit the consumer but are also very much in the interest of the food business operator, whose business can be threatened by food-borne outbreaks. Initial hygiene and food safety training for food business operators should therefore also explain microbiological principles underlying food safety practices in order to equip the businesses with the required background knowledge and motivation to design and implement an intelligent food safety/HACCP concept, including the consideration and identification of potential sources of contamination. Explicit mention of the dangers of the use of non-edible flowers for decoration should be considered in guides to good practice, which are a valuable instrument to aid food business operators with compliance with food hygiene rules and with the application of the HACCP principles.

The complete paper is available at http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20076.

Are catered meals the biggest source of foodborne illness in America?

In the wake of several high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness at catered events – 180 people barfing after 3 events prepared by an unlicensed caterer in North Dakota last year, and 57 people barfing at events at an Illinois catering hall this monthMSNBC reports today catered events make more people sick than outbreaks involving meals at restaurants or prepared at home.


The story says that new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control “show that illnesses from reported outbreaks of food poisoning linked to catering outpace those from restaurants or home cooking. 36 illnesses per catering outbreak; 13 at restaurants or home-prepared meals.

Between 1998 and 2008, there were 833 outbreaks of foodborne illness traced to caterers, incidents that sparked 29,738 illnesses, 345 hospitalizations and 4 deaths, according to Dana Cole, a CDC researcher.

Proportionately, the outbreaks from catering are higher than the 22,600 illnesses from 1,546 reported home cooking outbreaks and the 101,907 illnesses from 7,921 outbreaks in restaurants and delis.

“Partly that’s because at larger banquets and weddings the number of people served tend to be larger,” Cole said.


I hadn’t heard about this new data, and can’t comment on its validity because it hasn’t, as far as I can tell, been published anywhere. One, Dana Cole, and a couple of others from CDC are scheduled to present results next Tuesday at the annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection in a talk entitled, Sources and settings: contaminated food vehicles and the settings of foodborne disease outbreaks.

Usually the media stuff happens after the data is at least presented, and preferably after the paper is peer-reviewed and published. I look forward to reading the scoring system the researchers uses: if spinach is contaminated on a farm with E. coli O157:H7 and makes people barf after eating at a catered event, a restaurant, or a home, how is that scored? And does it matter?

Jacob, C.J. and Powell, D.A. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 6(9): 1121-1123.

??Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.

Norovirus suspected after 41 mourners at funeral get sick

Getting sick and dying while eating food in a hospital sorta sucks. So does going to a funeral and picking up norovirus.

New Zealand health authorities are investigating an outbreak of suspected norovirus linked to food after more than 40 people fell ill following an April 28 funeral and reception for a leading Auckland musician.

A spokeswoman for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said yesterday that it was notified on May 3 that some people who had attended the function had become sick with gastro-intestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The public health service spokeswoman said the food supplied at the post-funeral function, which included sandwiches and deli items, was suspected to be the source of the infection.

The caterer, who did not wish to be named, said she supplied around three funerals a week.

She said food poisoning had not been established yet in the case of the funeral, and the woman who made the sandwiches that day has a certificate in food handling.

"Everything was bought fresh on the day."

Fresh does not mean safe.

UK caterer closed after making 44 cops barf

Birmingham City Council said Monday the Meal Machine was closed under Food Hygiene regulations amid concerns over cleanliness and cross contamination of foods.

Earlier this month it was reported that at least 44 police officers suffered the effects of what appeared to be food poisoning, including severe diarrhoea and vomiting, as a result of packed lunches issued to the officers by … Meal Machine.

It is known a number of officers ate a chicken and stuffing sandwich supplied to them as part of a packed lunch prepared by an outside contractor.

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council’s environmental health department said the decision followed checks into processes and procedures, including “food handling, cross contamination, temperature control and general cleanliness”.