But we have training and audits: Dirty crates and vans used to deliver food by Asda

Assif Majid of BBC News writes that Watchdog’s reporter was given no training on keeping delivery crates and vans clean.

The reporter witnessed spillages, but was told by senior drivers that there was no need to clear it up during the delivery round.

Asda says it has a “clean as you go” policy and staff get full training.

Both Asda employees and customers have contacted the consumer programme with allegations about the cleanliness of the store’s delivery crates.

One driver told the programme: “There’s no cleaning process in place. The crates are used over and over again, even after spillages. Most, if not all, are dirty, from food, and things like smashed eggs.”

Another driver told the programme they are so concerned about poor hygiene, they are worried about their own family eating food from the crates.

Asda said the findings were “isolated examples and the opinion of individual colleagues”.

It added: “The findings do not reflect the extensive policies and training they have in place, which are supported by independent third party audits.”

The supermarket also says Watchdog’s researcher did not receive the full role-specific training because he didn’t do enough shifts.

Chartered environmental health practitioner Barrie Trevena said: “Even if the food you’re putting in is wrapped, the packages then become contaminated and then when the customer handles the cans and the packages, then that’s going to contaminate their worktop and fridge.”

The company said it delivered almost half a million orders each week, using their totes more than 2.5 million times, and it was inaccurate and misleading to suggest that it did not have policies or training in place at a business level.


Flushing with chlorine may not clean drip irrigation lines

Irrigation water distribution systems are used to supply water to produce crops, but the system may also provide a protected environment for the growth of human pathogens present in irrigation water.

drip.irrigation.carrots.jun.16In this study, the effects of drip tape installation depth and sanitization on the microbial quality of irrigation groundwater were evaluated.

Drip tape lines were installed on the soil surface or 5 or 10 cm below the soil surface. Water samples were collected from the irrigation source and the end of each drip line every 2 weeks over an 11-week period, and the levels of Escherichia coli, total coliforms, aerobic mesophilic bacteria, and enterococci were quantified. Half of the lines installed at each depth were flushed with sodium hypochlorite for 1 h during week 6 to achieve a residual of 10 ppm at the end of the line.

There was a statistically significant (P = 0.01) effect of drip tape installation depth and sanitizer application on the recovery of E. coli, with increased levels measured at the 5-cm depth and in nonsanitized lines, although the levels were at the limit of detection, potentially confounding the results. There was no significant effect of drip tape depth on total coliforms, aerobic mesophiles, or enterococci.

In contrast, a statistically significant increase (P < 0.01) in the recovery of total coliforms was recorded from the ends of lines that received chlorine. This may be indicative of shedding of cells owing to degradation of biofilms that formed on the inner walls of the lines.

These findings emphasize the need to better understand conditions that may lead to corrosion and increases in bacterial loads inside drip lines during flushing.

Recommendations to growers should suggest collecting groundwater samples for testing at the end of drip lines rather than at the source. Guidelines on flushing drip lines with chlorine may need to include water pH monitoring, a parameter that influences the corrosive properties of chlorine.

Drip line flushing with chlorine may not be effective in reducing bacterial loads in irrigation water distribution systems

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 1021-1025(5)

Theresa Callahan, Mary; Marine, Sasha C.; Everts, Kathryne L.; Micallef, Shirley A.


Kid barfs in UK pool, parents concerned

When someone barfs or craps at the pool we frequent, everyone is moved to another pool, big chunks removed and the water hyper-chlorinated.

pool-puke-vomit-1918A swimming lesson was interrupted after a child vomited in the pool, causing concern for children and parents alike.

Youngsters aged six and seven were enjoying a swimming lesson in the training pool at the Dolphin Centre, in Darlington town centre, when the incident happened on Monday (December 14) evening.

Bosses at the Darlington Borough Council-run centre said ‘all necessary checks’ were carried out following the vomiting incident.

That is at odds with the account of one mother, who said the pool was not cleared after the child was sick and attendants used a net to fish bits of vomit out of the pool.

The mother-of-three, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “My daughter was having a swimming lesson and another little girl suddenly got out of the pool and we were all wondering what was wrong and if she was okay.

“After about five minutes, I saw the attendants fishing around the pool with a net and that’s when we found out the girl had been sick in water.

“I immediately wanted my daughter out of the pool and I realised there were two pieces of sick floating next to her.

“Nobody knew what was happening and I asked one of the lifeguards why they had not taken my kid out of the pool.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We follow comprehensive industry guidelines when dealing with any incident like this.

Calling all norovirus: passenger forced to sit beside vomit on plane

I’ve encountered vomit in public a few times.

A few weeks ago a fellow food safety nerd and I sat on a Seattle train and watched a woman 20 ft away yack on the floor while her partner consoled her. My friend and I figured that we’d get noro just by being there (we didn’t).CMhGalfWUAAnNds

A few years ago my son threw up on a flight which led to a fascinating approach by Delta Airlines involving plastic bags to contain the risk and coffee pods to manage the smell.

According to BBC, a Rynair passenger was forced to sit next to a vomit pile on a flight from Gatwick to London this week.

A 24-year-old was forced to sit in the same aisle as vomit left by a previous passenger on a Ryanair flight from Gatwick to Dublin on Sunday.

Noel O’Hare noticed the smell and mess as soon as he sat down with his friends on the hour and a half flight.220px-Neilyounglandingonwatercover

He told Newsbeat the “unsightly mess” was on the ground mixed in with a bag and tissues.

Ryanair cabin staff told him that because Gatwick isn’t their base and their cleaners are in Dublin, it couldn’t be cleaned up until they arrived back in Ireland.

Spray and aerosolization of vomit particles makes being in that adjacent seat particularly fun.

Barf spreads and why I work at home: How quickly one sick employee can infect an entire workplace

Using tracer viruses, researchers found that contamination of just a single doorknob or tabletop results in the spread of viruses throughout office buildings, hotels, and health care facilities. Within 2 to 4 hours, the virus could be detected on 40 to 60 percent of workers and visitors in the facilities and commonly touched objects, according to research presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), an infectious disease meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

phageThere is a simple solution, though, says Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who presented the study.

“Using disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) registered by EPA as effective against viruses like norovirus and flu, along with hand hygiene, reduced virus spread by 80 to 99 percent,” he says.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, it causes an estimated 19-21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth is a common source of infection.

In the study, Gerba and his colleagues used bacteriophage MS-2 as a surrogate for the human Norovirus, as it is similar in shape, size and resistance to disinfectants. The phage was placed on 1 to 2 commonly touched surfaces (door knob or table top) at the beginning of the day in office buildings, conference room and a health care facility. After various periods of time (2 to 8 hours)  they sampled 60 to 100 fomites, surfaces capable of carrying infectious organisms (light switches, bed rails, table tops, countertops, push buttons, coffee pots handles, sink tap handles, door knobs, phones and computer equipment), for the phages.

norovirus“Within 2 to 4 hours between 40 to 60% of the fomites sampled were contaminated with virus,” says Gerba.

In the intervention phase cleaning personal and employees were provided with QUATS disinfectant containing wipes and instructed on proper use (use of at least once daily). The number of fomites on which virus was detected was reduced by 80% or greater and the concentration of virus reduced by 99% or more.

There are 90 different EPA-registered quat-based formulations available under 1500 different brand names that are formulated to kill Norovirus on solid surfaces. These are available as wipes or ready-to-use liquids or concentrates for use by professional maintenance teams. 

“The results shown that viral contamination of fomites in facilities occurs quickly, and that a simple intervention can greatly help to reduce exposure to viruses,” says Gerba.

Oprah is a food scientist? Americans will believe anything a celebrity says

Never underestimate the power of Oprah.

Decades ago, when I started asking produce stockers at retail about the questions they get, the answer that stuck in my mind was: If it was on Oprah yesterday, I’ll get questions today.

hamburger.oprah.96Amanda Hoaglen of Lake Mary, Florida, a self-proclaimed clean freak, uses only natural, eco-friendly sprays and washes for all her appliances and surfaces.

“I first started learning how to keep the kitchen neat and clean watching ‘Oprah’ and so I’ve always had that desire to learn little tricks of the trade,” she says. “Then when my son was born I definitely kicked it up a notch because I wanted to make sure he was of course safe and healthy.”

Hoaglen says that while searching online she discovered tips for cleaning appliances. Appliances she never thought needed to be cleaned.

“I didn’t realize that there’s this micro-bacteria, it’s sort of like a pink slime that comes from the water. It will appear in the lines of, say, your coffee maker or in the lines of your dishwasher if you don’t regularly maintain them by running vinegar through them.”

White vinegar along with lemons, Dawn dish soap and baking soda are her go-to items for cleaning just about anything.

Yes, acid works.

Craig Menzies, salesman for Southeast Steel, has been in the appliance business for 23 years. He says Amanda is on the right track. He recommends running vinegar through washing machines to all his customers. 

Menzies says people use too much detergent. He says residue builds up and it makes a great home for mold, bacteria and E. coli. 

“I find that it’s very simple to use a couple of cups of white vinegar here maybe one through the dispenser on an empty load and that really tends to sanitize and deodorize things and white vinegar is a fabulous product to use in any kind of appliance.”

Menzies says this is especially important in front load washers where water settles in the bottom, allowing bacteria to grow.

“The towels will tell the tale. If they smell, too much soap. If they don’t smell anymore, you’re using the right amount of soap.”


Wash the poo, reduce campy rates?

A move to scrub poo from dirty chicken crates has spared New Zealanders from hundreds of cases of Campylobacter, authorities say.

2011-April-230-e1314634823506-1New research presented to a health conference has revealed that New Zealand’s once-dire problem with the painful and embarrassing gastro bug is a thing of the past thanks to industry changes.

At its peak, the country’s campylobacter epidemic was the worst in the western world, costing $60 million a year, mostly in lost wages from people forced to take days off work to nurse their sore stomachs and stop the contagious spread.

Infected poultry was a leading source of the condition.

Gail Duncan from the Ministry for Primary Industries told the NZ Population Health Congress in Auckland that simple changes to poultry processing regulations led to a radical 58 per cent drop in infections.

A key change was to start washing the crates used to transport chickens to the processing plants, creating a cleaner environment and halting the cross contamination that was fuelling the epidemic.

How to clean up after Norovirus

The Cleveland Clinic offers these tips for cleaning up after a norovirus outbreak:

1. Use bleach and water

You can catch norovirus from contaminated surfaces, and many disinfectants won’t kill it. Use bleach water. The CDC recommends a solution that contains anywhere from 5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water. Stainless steel and similar surfaces need less, while more porous surfaces need more. If you don’t want to mix your own, shop for bleach-based cleaners.

norovirus-22. Clean safely

Use rubber gloves or disposable latex or vinyl gloves. This will help protect you not only from the bleach but also from the norovirus itself, which can hang around on surfaces for several days. Wear a protective mask for safety — and be sure to air out the room when you finish cleaning.

3. Clean everything you touch    

That includes the toilet, the floor, all counters, doorknobs, light switches, telephones, remote controls — you name it. For the best results, let the bleach water or cleaner sit on the surface for about 10 minutes before wiping it clean with paper towels or other disposable products. In addition, you may want to steam clean upholstered furniture.

4. Separate your laundry

Use gloves to handle soiled sheets, towels and clothes, and keep them separate from other laundry if possible. Wash everything in very hot water. For whites or light clothing you aren’t concerned about lightening, add a little bleach. Wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length, then machine dry them.

5. Wash your hands — then wash them again

Washing your hands is a good practice both during and after any illness, particularly a hearty one like norovirus. Be sure to wash hands thoroughly after cleaning, too, so all your hard work doesn’t go to waste.


Passengers on Queen Mary 2 struck down by norovirus outbreak

Maybe these cruise ships should engage in “special, enhanced cleaning procedures” before a norovirus outbreak.

At least eight people are sick out of the 2,462 passengers on board luxury Southampton liner, Queen Mary 2 but that number download vomit cruiseshould grow.

A total of 130 of 778 passengers have contracted gastroenteritis on board a cruise ship now docked in Rosyth in Fife.

They became ill on Fred Olsen’s Black Watch during a 12-night Scandinavia and St Petersburg cruise.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises has been forced to pay out more than £120,000 in compensation payments in two separate legal cases.

The line’s owner Carnival Corp., agreed to pay more than £100,000 to 48 passengers who got sick on Grand Princess on a number of Mediterranean cruises in 2010.

And in a separate incident on Sea Princess cruise in the Caribbean, Princess paid £20,000 to a passenger who contracted Legionnaire’s Disease in 2011.

In neither incident did Princess admit liability, both were settled to avoid protracted litigation and lawyers’ fees, according to the line.

Welsh Hilton Hotel linked to 74 cases of norovirus

When I was in high school I had a friend who worked as a maid at a motel. Not the greatest job but she needed to make money to offset schooling costs. She used to tell stories of cleaning up vomit, diarrhea and, um, other stuff.  She couldn’t believe how guests treated the bathrooms – likely figuring the mess wasn’t their problem, someone would clean it up.

According to BBC, a Hilton hotel in Newport (that’s in south east Wales) has been linked to over 70 cases of norovirus and it’s not clear whether messy vomit and diarrhea incidents, or food, are to blame. The outbreak has not only hit guests, but over 20 staff members are ill.

Hilton Worldwide said the wellbeing of guests and staff was of “paramount importance” and it had brought in “stringent” health and safety measures.

Public health officials say the outbreak is not linked to a particular function or event, but the virus was passed by someone originally infected.

Newport council alerted Public Health Wales two days after the first illnesses.

These symptoms are described as “unpleasant but short-lived” and the condition is described as not serious unless a patient is already in a vulnerable group.

Control measures have been put in place at the hotel to prevent the spread of the infection.

“Investigations carried out by Newport City Council’s environmental health team indicate that the illness was consistent with a viral infection passed from person to person, most likely norovirus,” said Dr Lika Nehaul, a consultant in communicable disease control with Public Health Wales.

Having norovirus sucks. The mighty little virus gives an affected individual nasty cramps, violent vomiting and in some cases violent diarrhea. With each expulsion of bodily fluids billions of virus particles are spread throughout a bathroom. Or in some cases, throughout a public area (like a walkway or plane). Who knows what happened here but if the outbreak is linked to one initial ill individual (with single or multiple incidents) the cleaning and sanitizing of common areas may be a factor. It’s possible that improper infection control practices, and staff who are attempting to clean, spread particles throughout the hotel. Or staff became the vectors themselves.