7 sick from Campylobacter in Utah well water

First raw milk, now the water in Utah is making people sick.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that a boil-water advisory will remain in effect for residents of Northern Saratoga Springs (right, exactly as shown) after at least seven people were stricken by Campylobacter.

Saratoga police spokesman Cpl. Aaron Rosen said the city is awaiting test results on a well believed to be the source of a campylobacter outbreak in the city. The city is treating the water with chlorine to kill the bacteria.

Mount Olympus Waters dispatched a 6,000-gallon tanker truck to provide free water for residents. The tanker is parked at Walmart, at Redwood Road and State Route 73.

Larry Mullenax, Mount Olympus vice president, said the company will provide two one-gallon containers of water per person. But if people bring their own containers, the company will fill them for free.

Walmart employees are staffing the tanker from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., he said.

Questioning food safety practices

Health inspectors or like our partners to the South, registered sanitarians need to keep abreast of evidence based food safety publications to provide the most accurate and up to date information to the public. It is apparent that regulatory bodies tend to push certain food safety practices without them ever be questioned. For instance, are chemical sanitizers really the best way to go in terms of bacterial log reductions on food contact surfaces? Restaurant inspectors constantly push for the use of chlorine or quaternary ammonia as the chemicals of choice for sanitation. Yes, they do work, but what about vinegar. I read an interesting article from Pete Snyder comparing quaternary ammonia, vinegar, and water on cutting boards1. The paper states wiping a surface with a clean cloth soaked in vinegar is a very effective sanitizer. Furthermore, that vinegar should be approved as a sanitizer for food contact surfaces.
One critical item that restaurant inspectors take note of is whether or not an establishment is using an approved sanitizer. Half of the time there is no sanitizer, but when there is, the concentration tends to be too strong i.e. >500 ppm available chlorine. Other times, the sanitizer solution is often mixed with a detergent rendering it ineffective. Restaurant inspectors need to take the time to check these critical control measures to ensure the restaurant operator is aware of these issues. A simple 5-7 minute inspection certainly will not suffice and in my opinion is a grand waste of time. That’s like making a fantastic, time worthy meal, and wolfing it down in minutes instead of enjoying it. I’m Italian, I enjoy food.
KGBT 4 reports:
Noe’s Restaurant on 190 West Robertson in San Benito has a lengthy history on Food 4 Thought. The first dirty dining report we exposed at the location dates back to 2005 with 36 demerits. Noe’s scored 33 demerits back in December of 2009.   That’s why the food patrol looked a little closer at the restaurant’s latest inspection report when it was discovered Noe’s scored zero demerits.
At the top of each health report, an inspector is supposed to log the start and end times to complete each report. Noe’s inspection was finished in just seven minutes.   San Benito’s Code Enforcement Director, John Rodriguez Jr., admitted seven minutes was an “improper” time. He said it should have taken a minimum of thirty minutes to do a proper, thorough check of all 27 critical items established by the state.
1.Snyder, Peter. The Microbiology of Cleaning and Sanitizing a Cutting Board. Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, 1997.

Restaurant inspections:announced or unannounced…

Restaurant inspections are generally carried out unannounced by a health inspector. In this way one can obtain a snap shot of what is actually going on at that time. Some of the expressions on employees’ faces when I arrive and announce myself are priceless, makes me feel so wanted at times. Now I know how Chuck Norris feels when he enters an establishment. So, I decided to perform a restaurant inspection that was scheduled to eliminate the wonderful element of surprise. When a health inspector schedules an inspection, it is assumed that managers’, food operators’, supervisors and anyone else involved with that facility are going to take extra measures to ensure that things are cleaned up and everything is in check. I sometimes favor scheduled inspections because if I go in and find something wrong, for instance, mixing soap with chlorine sanitizer, then it becomes more apparent that staff are unaware or misinformed on this issue. More importantly, as the health inspector develops a relationship with the chef and spends time explaining why certain practices are right or wrong, both the establishment and the customer benefits.

Confirmed: birds poop on peas in field, sicken 99 with campylobacter in Alaska

Sarah Palin, look at what is going on in your own backyard while you’re getting people all excited with your Katie Couric interviews.

New molecular laboratory findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a firm link between an outbreak of Campylobacter diarrhea that occurred in Southcentral Alaska this summer and eating uncooked peas grown in Alaska.

"Molecular studies demonstrated that there was a match between Campylobacter bacteria obtained from sick people and those obtained from pea and Sandhill Crane samples taken from the farm in Palmer," said Dr. Tracie Gardner, an epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health.

To date, the investigation has identified 99 people sickened by the bacteria who reported eating raw peas within 10 days of illness onset. Fifty-four had laboratory confirmation of illness. Five were hospitalized. None have died.

Investigation revealed a lack of chlorine in the water used to wash the peas at the farm. State officials are working with the farm to implement future control measures.

Yes, chlorinated water could be part of the economic bailout to boost health-care reform. Over to you, Sarah.