Pasteurization protects people

A Kansas State colleague was telling us about his travels during the winter break, including a visit to a daughter-in-law who is seriously committed to providing her young children – and his grandchildren – with raw or unpasteurized goat’s milk.

I said we’d update the table of outbreaks and he could provide it, as information, without the lectures, to his daughter, and possibly leverage the future health of his grandchildren, although that kind of discussion wouldn’t go very far (even though several of the outbreaks involve raw goat’s milk).

Columnist Stephen Hume of the Vancouver Sun writes today that he doesn’t believe claims that pasteurizing milk destroys its nutritional value or that it’s a conspiracy of big agribusiness and big government to promote the interests of big pharma.

I see pasteurization of dairy products as a blessing. It prevents our return to a dreadful past in which diseases transmitted by raw milk afflicted hundreds of thousands every year. In fact, they still do in many parts of the world where people can’t get pasteurized dairy products. …

Raw milk advocates who trumpet the health benefits of unpasteurized products are in fact the beneficiaries of precisely the public health “conspiracy” to pasteurize that so many deride and vilify.

I’m all for personal choice, and there are lots of risky foods out there. Choice is the reason raw milk farmer Alice Jongerden in British Columbia can risk public health, waste tremendous public health resources that could be better used elsewhere, and take up time in the Supreme Court of B.C. by asking judges to set aside a 2010 court order that prohibits her from producing and packaging unpasteurized dairy products.

I choose not to consume raw dairy because the pasteurized alternatives offer an easy disease control option, and I try not to inflict food poisoning risks on my children, who don’t have much of a choice.

An updated list of outbreaks related to raw and unpasteurized milk and products is available at:

Salmonella in South Dakota; 4 kids confirmed ill, at least 20 suspected

Brown County, South Dakota, is reporting four children with confirmed Salmonella casesin in the past week and at least 20 other children have been ill, but not confirmed.

The source of the has not been identified. Through November 23, a total of 154 cases of salmonellosis were reported in South Dakota for the year. Of these 154 cases, 23 (15%) have been from BrownCounty. Statewide 31% of the Salmonella cases have been children 14 years and younger.

Lessons learned from E. coli outbreak in UK nursery

In Feb. 2010, the Feltham Hill Nursery and Infant School was closed for three weeks when E. coli O157 was contracted by pupils, affecting 18 people in all.

A report to the Hounslow Council contained 28 recommendations to improve future responses to emergency situations, including:

• the situation should have been declared ‘an emergency’ sooner than it was;
• there were delays in stopping the spread of the outbreak because the school had no emergency plan;
• information sharing between the school and the health authorities was poor;
• confusion over information given to parents resulted in many being worried that the outbreak was not being controlled.

Two children were treated in hospital for the bug, one of which was for a prolonged period of time. The report reveals that the source of the outbreak was never discovered.

The complete report is available at:

Central kitchen leads to 181 sick with salmonella at 16 nurseries in Hungary

A salmonella infection in 16 nurseries and primary schools in Szekesfehervar, central Hungary, has made 181 children ill, a local health authority official told MTI on Tuesday.

The infection was first reported on September 8 and developed sporadically rather than suddenly, said Gyongyi Lencses. "The curve is now on the down-slope," she added.

The affected institutions were all served by the same central kitchen. Three of the kitchen staff tested positively for the bacterium.

70 sickened at Paris-area rec center

AFP is reporting that 70 people, including children between 3- and 12-years-oldwere victims of food poisoning Monday in a recreation center in Houilles.

Three children and one adult were transported to the hospital "for observation" and a dozen other victims had to be hospitalized.

Children who do not show symptoms have been returned to their families.

The origin of the food poisoning appeared to be meals delivered by a central kitchen, and tests are underway to identify the causative agent of intoxication.

Kidding around with St. Louis goats- how to inform the public about petting zoo dangers

I find it physically impossible for me to get enough animal interaction. I suppose that means I must’ve chosen the right profession: Veterinary Medicine. I’m a frequent patron of Sunset Zoo here in Manhattan, Kansas, but during my last visit I was sad to learn that the petting zoo area was sectioned off from the public. Zoo patrons are still able to go up to the fence to pet the goats, but they can no longer walk amongst them in their enclosure. I have no idea if this change had to do with any of the recent petting zoo outbreaks, but I suppose it’s a step in the right direction for public health.

 I still love going to petting zoos, though they have quite a bad rap these days. The most memorable petting zoo outbreak that comes to mind is of the E. coli O157 outbreak at the Godstone Farm petting zoo that sickened 93.
The large number of sick kids resulted from a combination of poor food safety information and slow reporting by health officials. There are quite a lot of petting zoos that do things wrong, such as not providing access to handwashing stations after animal interaction. This past weekend I visited a petting zoo in St. Louis, and I was pleased to see some food safety signs posted outside the gate of the animal area and also by the handwashing station right next to the animals.
The petting zoo I visited was inside of, a historic plot of land within St. Louis formerly owned by Gen. Grant and currently operated by the Busch family. The petting zoo was entirely made up of goats, and for a few dollars patrons could purchase a baby bottle full of milk to feed to the goats. The handwashing stations with soap and water right next to the exits satisfied my public health concerns. However, I would’ve been happier with paper towels for drying rather than the hand dryers that were available.
I was also happy about the signs posted around the petting zoo that read,
In accordance with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we provide hand washing stations, antibacterial soap, warm water, and air hand dryers for visitors to our animal interaction areas. Additionally, petting brushes are available to reduce hand contact with the animals.
Posted below was,
Pregnant women, senior citizens and immunocompromised persons are at higher risk of serious infections. When contacting animals, Grant’s Farm suggests heightened precautions, and children under 5 years be closely supervised.
Of course these signs were nice to have around, but it doesn’t mean anything if parents don’t read them. Unfortunately I saw quite a few kids with their hands in their mouths inside the petting enclosure. I think Grant’s Farm did a good job of informing the public of the risks while still encouraging people to pet the animals. The petting brushes are a germ-a-phobe’s dream, though I didn’t use one.
All in all, the kids had a blast and the goats were fed. And now I have 52 pictures of goats on my camera.

Two children hospitalized with E. coli, maybe linked to Indiana fair

At least two children from Rush County are critically ill after getting E. coli poisoning, and health officials are now looking into whether the children got sick at the Rush County Fair.

Four-year-old Kathleen Ragan (right) is at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, undergoing dialysis for hemolytic-uremic syndrome. She’s one of four reported cases of E. coli. Fox59 News has received reports that Kathleen along with three other children may have contracted the disease while attending the county fair.

Kathleen’s mother says she did use hand sanitizer as she petted animals there, but her symptoms of fatigue, diarrhea and bloody stools started the day after the fair ended.

Raw milk, politicians and other things not to trust

Sol Erdozain, the early-rising person who puts together the food safety news (left, pretty much as shown, without the lab rat) is a senior in psychology at Kansas State. She was born and raised in Paraguay (that’s in South America, not Hawaii) and has been working with Powell and the barfblog gang for a couple of years.

Sol writes:

I don’t trust politicians. Maybe it’s because I’m from Paraguay and politicians there never look after the interests of the people they are supposed to represent.

This morning, reading an article from the Houston Chronicle, I was reminded of that distrust.

The article describes a bunch of policies that Republicans want to endorse or get rid of, among them only one addressing food safety;

“Protecting the right to access raw milk directly from the farmer.”

It stuck out for the wrong reasons.

What about protecting the right to be healthy? Especially for those who depend on others for protection, like children.

Recently, and not for the first time, raw milk has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 and sickened people. Among them young children, who are at most risk of developing complications from E. coli.

So, how about protecting their rights too?

Riding in carts with meat

Several years ago, a young girl in Ottawa contracted E. coli O157 after licking the moisture off a package of hamburger on a particularly hot day. The risks of having young children near potentially contaminated food in a shopping cart has been well recognized. And now confirmed.

Researchers at CDC and elsewhere report in the current Journal of Food Protection that kids can be exposed to raw meat and poultry products while riding in shopping carts. Parents, pay attention.

Prevalence of, and factors associated with, this risk factor for Salmonella and campylobacter infection in children younger than 3 years***
Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 73, Number 6, pp. 1097-1100(4)
Patrick, Mary E.; Mahon, Barbara E.; Zansky, Shelley M.; Hurd, Sharon3; Scallan, Elaine
Riding in a shopping cart next to raw meat or poultry is a risk factor for Salmonella and Campylobacter infections in infants. To describe the frequency of, and factors associated with, this behavior, we surveyed parents of children aged younger than 3 years in Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network sites. We defined exposure as answering yes to one of a series of questions asking if packages of raw meat or poultry were near a child in a shopping cart, or if a child was in the cart basket at the same time as was raw meat or poultry. Among 1,273 respondents, 767 (60%) reported that their children visited a grocery store in the past week and rode in shopping carts. Among these children, 103 (13%) were exposed to raw products. Children who rode in the baskets were more likely to be exposed than were those who rode only in the seats (odds ratio [OR], 17.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 11.0 to 28.9). In a multivariate model, riding in the basket (OR, 15.5; 95% CI, 9.2 to 26.1), income less than $55,000 (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.0 to 3.1), and Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2 to 4.5) were associated with exposure. Our study shows that children can be exposed to raw meat and poultry products while riding in shopping carts. Parents should separate children from raw products and place children in the seats rather than in the baskets of the cart. Retailer use of leak-proof packaging, customer placement of product in a plastic bag and on the rack underneath the cart, use of hand sanitizers and wipes, and consumer education may also be helpful.