Bugs and Salmonella in pistachios

Keeping with the small-town southern Ontario theme (that’s still in Canada) Chris Sperduti, 29, from Bolton (not to be confused with Beeton) grabbed a handful of pistachios and was shelling them when he came across something that turned his stomach.

There were bugs nested in two of the shells. He could see holes in the nuts where the bugs had eaten some of his snack.

Karen Martin-Robbins of the Caledon Enterprise writes the Bolton man contacted Walmart in Bolton – not so small anymore if it has a Walmart — where he bought the product — the company gave him his money back and a savings coupon for more pistachios.

They also told him that with agricultural produce, you can expect to get some insects.

He was even more grossed out by that.

“When I’m eating pistachios, I expect to be eating pistachios. Not bugs,” he said.

Then, he went to Costco to buy his pistachios.

He found three more bugs in his first handful.

A quantitative risk assessment of human salmonellosis from consumption of pistachios in the United States

Journal of Food Protection vol. 81 no. 6

SOFIA M. SANTILLANA FARAKOS,1* RÉGIS POUILLOT,1 GORDON R. DAVIDSON,1 RHOMA JOHNSON,1 JUDITH SPUNGEN,1INSOOK SON,1 NATHAN ANDERSON,2 and JANE M. VAN DOREN1

https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-379

http://jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-379?code=fopr-site

We developed a quantitative risk assessment model to assess the risk of human nontyphoidal salmonellosis from consumption of pistachios in the United States and to evaluate the impact of Salmonella treatments (1- to 5-log reductions). The exposure model estimating prevalence and contamination levels of Salmonella at consumption included steps in pistachio processing such as transport from grower to huller, removal of the hull through wet abrasion, separation of pistachio floaters (immature, smaller nuts) and sinkers (mature, larger nuts) in a flotation tank, drying, storage, and partitioning. The risks of illness per serving and per year were evaluated by including a Salmonella dose-response model and U.S. consumption data. The spread of Salmonella through float tank water, delay in drying resulting in growth, increased Salmonella levels through pest infestation during storage (pre- and posttreatment), and a simulation of the 2016 U.S. salmonellosis outbreak linked to consumption of pistachios were the modeled atypical situations.

The baseline model predicted one case of salmonellosis per 2 million servings (95% CI: one case per 5 million to 800,000 servings) for sinker pistachios and one case per 200,000 servings (95% CI: one case per 400,000 to 40,000 servings) for floater pistachios when no Salmonella treatment was applied and pistachios were consumed as a core product (>80% pistachio) uncooked at home. Assuming 90% of the pistachio supply is sinkers and 10% is floaters, the model estimated 419 salmonellosis cases per year (95% CI: 200 to 1,083 cases) when no Salmonella treatment was applied. A mean risk of illness of less than one case per year was estimated when a minimum 4-log reduction treatment was applied to the U.S. pistachio supply, similar to the results of the Salmonella risk assessment for almonds. This analysis revealed that the predicted risk of illness per serving is higher for all atypical situations modeled compared with the baseline, and delay in drying had the greatest impact on consumer risk.

59 sick with Salmonella in Canada linked to raw frozen breaded chicken thingies

Monique Scotti of Global News is reporting that Health Canada is issuing a widespread recall of frozen No Name brand chicken burgers as part of a broader effort to reduce the number of salmonella-related illnesses across the country.

The specific product affected by the recall is No Name brand Chicken Burgers (1kg), with a best before date of Feb. 6, 2019. Any individual or restaurant with this product in their freezer is being told not to consume or serve the burgers.

The recall comes three months after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a press release warning of a rise in Salmonella Enteritidis infections over the past several years.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it is now dealing with an outbreak of salmonella infections linked to poultry, including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

There were 59 cases of salmonella-linked illness across eight provinces between March and May, the agency reported on Monday, and 10 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The majority of patients (61 per cent) are male, with an average age of 34.

“Several of the ill individuals involved in the outbreak reported having eaten No Name brand chicken burgers before their illness occurred,” said a press release.

“A food sample of No Name brand Chicken Burgers (1kg), with a best before date of February 6, 2019, tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis.”

The risk to Canadians is low, the agency added.

Unless you get sick. Then the risk is really fucking high.

1 dead, 36 sick with E. coli O157:H7 in Canada, linked to pork from meat shop in central Alberta

Keith Gerein of the Edmonton Journal writes The Meat Shop at Pine Haven, located on a Hutterite colony southeast of Wetaskiwin, announced Wednesday it had temporarily shut down and issued a voluntary recall of a number of its raw and ready-to-eat pork products.

A full list of the recalled items, including ground pork, chops, sausages, bacon and salami, was available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

The products in question were sold or distributed by the shop between Feb. 19 and April 24, and included pork served by Mama Nita’s Binalot restaurant where the outbreak was first identified a month ago.

“This is our businesses, it’s our livelihood and the food safety of our products to consumers is the highest priority,” facility manager Tim Hofer said. “It’s a very difficult time for us, but we are doing the best we absolutely can to identify the problem, and once we have found it, to mitigate the risks. “

All 36 patients sickened by E. coli O157:H7 have been linked in one way or another to meat from the shop, said Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health, Edmonton zone, for Alberta Health Services.

Hasselback said tracing the bug’s origins proved to be complex and time-consuming, requiring nearly a month of detective work by public health officials.

The initial cluster of five infections was discovered in late March among patrons of the restaurant, but investigators were hampered by the fact the establishment used different meat suppliers. As well, it appeared not all of the infected patients had eaten pork.

“When you are looking at foods people ate at the restaurant, there actually wasn’t a consistent pattern at that time,” Hasselback said. “It wasn’t until we were able to start adding information regarding the individuals who were not linked to the restaurant that pork was able to come a little bit clearer.”

Of the 36 patients identified to date, 21 are believed to have acquired their infection at Mama Nita’s — including several staff. The remaining 15 cases, including the deceased patient, have no connection to the restaurant.

Hasselback said those additional cases gave public health staff more information to work with, but also more variables to consider.

She said investigations of food-borne outbreaks tend to rely on three major avenues of inquiry.

These include interviews with patients to explore what they have eaten and where they have travelled, and lab tests to link the cases of E. coli 0157:H7. As well, investigators gather samples of food that are possibly suspect and have those tested in a lab.

Hofer said his meat facility has supplied products to “dozens” of customers in the Edmonton area — including Mama Nita’s — though he didn’t have an exact number.

He said the business was informed last Wednesday of a potential connection to the outbreak. When managers learned swabs of certain products had tested positive, along with one swab of the facility itself, the operation was shut down.

“The first thing we did was a deep clean of the facility, from ceiling to everything, all scrubbed and sanitized,” Hofer said, adding that a thorough review of the facility’s procedures has begun.

The family-run business has been operation since 2004 and has never before had a contamination issue, he said.

Good luck with the lawyers, who have already filed a $15-million lawsuit against The Meat Shop.

The lawsuit is on behalf of people who suffered damages as a result of buying or consuming pork products that may have been contaminated with E. coli, the law firm of James H. Brown & Associates said.

Flour power: Raw is risky

When I was a kid, I had this multi-colored swim towel that stated Flower Power (right, not exactly as shown).

I should have known that if a 1960s slogan had been co-opted by towel manufacturers in the early 1970s, it was a sign of corporate greed rather than earth-tone sentiment.

For the past decade, raw flour has increasingly come under the food safety microscope.

Flour was suspect in a 2008 outbreak of Salmonella in New Zealand. In June, 2009, an outbreak of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (primarily O157:H7) in Nestle Toll House cookie dough sickened at least 77 people in 30 American states. Thirty-five people were hospitalized – from flour in the cookie dough.

Hemp seed flour sickened 15 Germans in 2010.

There was the U.S. General Mills outbreak of 2016 which sickened at least 56 people with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 and O26, followed by a separate outbreak of E. coli O121 in Robin Hood flour in Canada in late 2016 going into 2017, that sickened at least 29.

It’s this latter outbreak that has journalist Jim Romahn’s attention.

Romahn writes the release of 759 pages of mostly e-mails indicates there was a massive effort involved in a recall of flour milled in Saskatoon that was contaminated with E. coli O121.

Twenty-two Canadians were identified as sickened by the flour, including one key case where the person consumed raw dough.

With hindsight, health officials were able to determine the first person sickened was Nov. 13, 2016. The others sickened and linked to the flour were between then and Feb. 26, 2017.

Robin Hood flour was identified as the source in March and on March 26 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency began a recall that eventually grew to scores of brand-name products across Canada and even an export shipment to Guyana.

The recall involved a number of major companies, such as Smucker Foods of Toronto and the Sobeys supermarket chain.

There were some unusual difficulties, including the challenge of contacting Mennonites who have no telephones.

The investigation and lab results eventually traced the source to flour milled at Ardent’s Saskatoon plant on Oct. 15, 16 and 17.

A high percentage of packages of flour milled on those dates turned up with E. coli O121.

But even then it’s not clear where the wheat originated.

Ardent Mills said it was probably spring wheat, but it could have also contained soft wheat, and that it probably was from the 2016 harvest, but might have had some wheat from the 2015 harvest.

That’s reflective of the amount of blending that happens both with the wheat used in milling and the flours that are blended into products for sale.

The documents were released under Access to Information at the request of a woman who spent time in a hospital in Medicine Hat, Alta.

 An Outbreak of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli O121 Infections Associated with Flour – Canada, 2016–2017

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017; 66: 705–706

Morton V, Cheng JM, Sharma D, Kearney A.

People barfing: Listeria in Deli Classic brand Seasoned Cooked Roast Beef Round in Canada

There was this one time, about 5 years ago, and I had to go to emergency to get 13 stiches after falling while trying to teach Sorenne to ride a bicycle, and Dr. Monty Python said, “merely a flesh wound.”

I was back 8 hours later for an additional 10 stiches cause it was still bleeding.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency there have been reported illnesses associated with a product similar to Erie Meat Products Ltd. Deli Classic brand Seasoned Cooked Roast Beef Round however, at this time, there have been no confirmed illnesses associated with the product identified in this Food Recall Warning.

Uh-huh.

The Canadians are like their Commonwealth breathen, the Australians, in that the food regulators leave it up to the heath regulators to say if someone is sick from food.

At least in Canada the food types will say if someone is sick, whereas the Australian food types say, nothing to see here, move along.

But, Canadian regulatory types refuse to say how many are sick, leaving that to the health folks: shouldn’t a government be able to deliver a clear, consistent message?

Canada’s Good Butcher not so good: E. coli O157:H7 found in lean ground beef

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume the products described below due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

Check to see if you have the products in your home. If the products are in your home, do not consume them.

This warning was triggered by CFIA test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of these or other products. If products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through a Food Recall Warning.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Use a thermometer: Canada to improve labelling on frozen chicken thingies

I’m old.

My ribs hurt, my body hurts, I can’t butterfly like Tony O, and I’m writing about stuff I had ideas for 12 years ago.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), along with their federal food safety partners, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as industry, remind Canadians about the importance of always fully cooking frozen raw breaded poultry products prior to consumption, as well as using proper food handling techniques and following cooking instructions to limit the risk of foodborne illnesses as salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products.

That’s a terrible sentence.

Just use a fucking thermometer.

In the last 10 years the incidence of salmonella illness in Canada has steadily increased. This increase has been driven by Salmonella enteritidis (SE), the most common strain of salmonella in the food supply that is often associated with poultry. 

While frozen raw breaded chicken products often appear to be “pre-cooked” or “ready-to-eat,” these products contain raw chicken and are intended to be handled and prepared the same way as other raw poultry. The safety of these products rests with the consumer who is expected to cook it, according to the directions on the package.

In 2015, industry voluntarily developed additional labelling on frozen raw breaded chicken products that included more prominent and consistent messaging, such as “raw,” “uncooked” or “must be cooked” as well as explicit instructions not to microwave the product and they voluntarily introduced adding cooking instructions on the inner-packaging bags.

“The CFIA is proud to be working side-by-side with our industry partners to protect the health of Canadians from the ongoing risks of salmonella infection associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products. “

Dr. Aline Dimitri, Deputy Chief Food Safety Officer of Canada

Someone got paid to write this press release?

Use a fucking thermometer.

Direct video observation of adults and tweens cooking raw frozen chicken thingies

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820


Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.


Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.

Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

 

Norovirus-contaminated raspberries likely caused deaths, sickened hundreds, in Quebec last summer

Frozen raspberries imported from China made hundreds of people sick in Quebec last summer and probably resulted in multiple deaths, according to a recent public health report. 

The infected fruits led to a wave of recalls in August 2017 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency because they had been used by a variety of food processors such as brewers, pastry chefs and ice cream makers and had been cooked in hospital cafeterias and residences for seniors.

The raspberries were contaminated by Norovirus. At least 724 Quebecers fell ill, a number that may represent just “the tip of the iceberg” 

According to Dr. Yves Jalbert, director of public health protection at the Quebec health ministry, it is clear that there were deaths over this period. No specific number has been given. Public health officials in Quebec do not track the progress of each infected patient. 

Sexy: Lots of erectile dysfunction in Canadians as Health Canada warns of poppers and sex aides

Health Canada is advising Canadians about unauthorized health products that may pose serious health risks. The table below is updated when Health Canada finds unauthorized health products that are promoted for sexual enhancement, weight loss, as a workout aid, or as “poppers,” and that are labelled to contain or have been tested and found to contain dangerous ingredients.

Unauthorized health products have not been approved by Health Canada, which means that they have not been assessed for safety, effectiveness and quality. Unauthorized health products can pose many health dangers, including:

“Poppers” is a slang term for products that contain alkyl nitrites. Despite being labelled for various uses such as leather cleaners, room odourizers or liquid incense, these products are inhaled or ingested by consumers for recreational purposes. Alkyl nitrites, such as amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite, are prescription drugs and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional. Products containing alkyl nitrites may pose serious risks, including death, depending on the amount used, how frequently they are used and how long they are used for, as well as the person’s health and the other medications they may be taking. Since it is difficult to control how much is inhaled, people can accidentally overdose. Swallowing these products can lead to serious medical complications and may be fatal. People with certain medical conditions (including recent head trauma, bleeding into the head, glaucoma, or heart disease) and those taking certain medications (particularly drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, and other drugs such as high blood pressure medications, certain migraine drugs, and high doses of aspirin) or illicit drugs are at particular risk.

Sildenafil is a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional. It should not be used by individuals taking any kind of nitrate drug (e.g. nitroglycerine) as it can cause potentially life-threatening low blood pressure. Individuals with heart problems are at increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack, stroke, chest pain, high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeat. Other possible side effects include headache, facial flushing, indigestion, dizziness, abnormal vision, and hearing loss.

Tadalafil is a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional. It should not be used by individuals taking any kind of nitrate drug (e.g. nitroglycerine) as it can cause potentially life-threatening low blood pressure. Individuals with heart problems are at increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack, stroke, chest pain, high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeat. Other possible side effects include headache, facial flushing, indigestion, dizziness, abnormal vision, and hearing loss.

Thyroid is a prescription drug ingredient commonly used to treat decreased or absent thyroid function, called hypothyroidism. Products containing thyroid hormone should be used with caution in patients also using medication to treat diabetes and blood clotting. There is also a risk to patients with cardiac conditions such as angina pectoris, high blood pressure and in the elderly as they have a greater likelihood of heart conditions.

Vardenafil is a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional. It should not be used by individuals taking any kind of nitrate drug (e.g. nitroglycerine) as it can cause potentially life-threatening low blood pressure. Individuals with heart problems are at increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack, stroke, chest pain, high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeat. Other possible side effects include headache, facial flushing, indigestion, dizziness, abnormal vision, and hearing loss.

Yohimbine is a prescription drug and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional. Yohimbine is derived from yohimbe, a bark extract. The use of yohimbine or yohimbe may result in serious adverse reactions, particularly in people with high blood pressure, or heart, kidney or liver disease. Side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety, dizziness, tremors, headache, nausea and sleep disorders. It should not be used by children, or pregnant or nursing women.

Zopiclone is a prescription drug used to treat insomnia. Side effects associated with zopiclone include unpleasant taste, drowsiness, dizziness, memory loss and hallucinations.

Confused consumers: Canadians say E. coli in romaine outbreak is over; U.S. says it’s leafy greens

Outbreaks of foodborne illness are fraught with uncertainties.

It’s OK to admit, to do the best with the info available, and get on with things.

On January 10, 2018, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported that an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) they had identified was linked to romaine lettuce appears to be over.

As of January 10, 2018, there were 42 cases of E. coli O157 illness reported in five eastern provinces. Individuals became sick in November and early December 2017. Seventeen individuals were hospitalized. One individual died.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continue to investigate a multistate outbreak of 24 STEC O157:H7 infections in 15 states. Since CDC’s initial media statement on December 28, seven more illnesses have been added to this investigation. The last reported illness started on December 12, 2017.

The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill.  Leafy greens typically have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that contaminated leafy greens linked to this outbreak are no longer available for sale. Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source of illnesses there, but the source of the romaine lettuce or where it became contaminated is unknown.

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in the United States is closely related genetically to the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in Canada. WGS data alone are not sufficient to prove a link; health officials rely on other sources of data, such as interviews from ill people, to support the WGS link. This investigation is ongoing. Because CDC has not identified a specific type of leafy greens linked to the U.S. infections, and because of the short shelf life of leafy greens, CDC is not recommending that U.S. residents avoid any particular food at this time.

In the United States, a total of 24 STEC O157:H7 infections have been reported. Among the 18 ill people for whom CDC has information, nine were hospitalized, including one person in California who died. Two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

The Public Health Agency of Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada. In the United States, the likely source of the outbreak appears to be leafy greens, but health officials have not identified a specific type of leafy greens that sick people ate in common.

State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started. Of 13 people interviewed, all 13 reported eating leafy greens. Five (56%) of nine ill people specifically reported eating romaine lettuce. This percentage was not significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 46% reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were interviewed.  Based on this information, U.S. health officials concluded that ill people in this outbreak were not more likely than healthy people to have eaten romaine lettuce.  Ill people also reported eating different types and brands of romaine lettuce. Currently, no common supplier, distributor, or retailer of leafy greens has been identified as a possible source of the outbreak. CDC continues to work with regulatory partners in several states, at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to identify the source.

Although the most recent illness started on December 12, there is a delay between when someone gets sick and when the illness is reported to CDC. For STEC O157:H7 infections, this period can be two to three weeks. Holidays can increase this delay. Because of these reporting delays, more time is needed before CDC can say the outbreak in the United Stated is over. This investigation is ongoing.