Colorado preschools upset over state’s new chicken ban

Boulder County preschools and child care centers that keep chickens are protesting a new state rule that bans live chickens, ducks and other poultry.

chicken.pen.childcareAt Niwot’s Shepherd Valley Waldorf, the eggmobile — a mobile coop that houses about 100 chickens — is now on a nearby property owned by parents and the chicken lessons are on hold.

“In preschool and kindergarten, they’re learning through experiences,” said Ruth Godberfforde, Shepherd Valley’s outreach and admissions director. “Taking care of chickens is a wonderful, purposeful activity. We want to keep that connection with nature and animals.”

An online petition to repeal the new rule has garnered more than 2,000 signatures. The campaign also is supported by Temple Grandin, a well known Colorado State University agriculture professor.

The state regulations, which went into effect Jan. 14, ban licensed child care centers from keeping live poultry on site or bringing them into classrooms. Live birds are still allowed in classrooms where children are older than 5.

The ban is designed to protect young children from salmonella, a bacteria that’s often carried by poultry and causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever, according to state health department officials.

Young children are considered especially at risk because their immune systems are still developing, making it more likely they’ll need to be hospitalized. Plus, young children often put their fingers and other objects in their mouths. increasing the likelihood that they’ll get sick.

Colorado routinely has one or more outbreaks each year of salmonella that are associated with live poultry, said Therese Pilonetti, unit manager for the state health department’s Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability.

In a typical outbreak associated with live poultry, young children make up half of all cases, she said.

Opponents to the ban say the state doesn’t have any evidence linking a salmonella outbreak in Colorado to chickens at a child care facility. Instead, they say, any risks are mitigated by good health practices like washing hands after being around the birds.

“We’ve had animals in different capacities over the last 20 years,” Shepherd Valley’s Godberfforde said. “We follow all the health and safety guidelines and have never had any issues.”

Disclosure and sick leave: Colorado lawmaker wants restaurants to post notice if workers are not given five paid sick days

A Colorado lawmaker is proposing a “Scarlet Letter” of sorts for statewide restaurants.

Disclosure_Still2_SnapseedState Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, wants to require restaurant owners to have to post a notice on their door if they do not give their employees five paid sick days.

“If employees are not offered paid time off when they’re sick, then we, as the public, should know,” said Ulibarri. “If we know there’s dairy in our food or gluten in our food, we should know if there’s influenza in our food.”

He said his bill is not in response to the recent Chipotle health scare, but rather a few workers in his House district who have said they’ve had to decide between working sick and getting paid or staying home and risk their bills and their jobs.

“When there’s an economic incentive to show up to work sick, it can endanger the health of all of us,” said Ulibarri. “I’ve followed this issue and received some information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which indicated in fact, most of the major food outbreaks are due to sick employees, not listeria or E.coli.”

Denver7 checked with CDPHE and was told that about half of all food-borne outbreaks are caused by Norovirus and not by E.coli, Listeria or other bacterial infections.

“It’s very easy for illness to be spread through a worker who’s ill,” said Brian Hlavacek, Environment Health Director for Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. “Certainly it’s a problem that sometimes workers often work while ill.”

20 sickened at Subway: Colorado norovirus outbreak in BV serves as warning

Local health officials said they hope a norovirus outbreak in Buena Vista that left approximately 20 people ill in mid-November will serve as a reminder to area restaurants and food providers to be extra cautious.

norovirusThe Mountain Mail reports Chaffee County Public Health received complaints from five people saying they were ill after eating food from the Subway in Buena Vista, according to a restaurant inspection report.

Lab tests on samples from the five individuals all tested positive for norovirus.

Public Health estimates roughly 20 people, mostly students at Buena Vista High School, might have fallen ill in the outbreak.

An investigation by Chaffee County Environmental Health Manager Victor Crocco, who declined to name the restaurant, found that one employee reported feeling ill the day after the illness was originally reported.

Subway manager Brandon Alexander said he did not recall any of the employees being sick around the time of the outbreak.

Crocco’s investigation led him to conclude a sick employee, and not a larger food contamination, most likely caused the contamination.

Alexander said he doesn’t remember anything like this happening in his 8 years at the restaurant.

9 sickened with E. coli O157 in Oct. 2013 linked to imported cucumbers served at Jimmy John’s in Denver

I’m sure university departmental meetings across the U.S. continue to chomp down on catered Jimmy John’s sandwiches, even though they have a terrible food safety record:

cucumber282 sick from Norovirus in Garden City, Kansas, in 2014;

29 sick from E. coli O26 on clover sprouts in early 2012; and,

140 sick from Salmonella on alfalfa sprouts in 2011.

Now, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment reports that in Oct. 2013, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 sickened nine people, including 1 probable case and 8 laboratory-confirmed cases with matching pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multiple-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) patterns from E. coli O157:H7 isolated from stool.

All 9 cases reported eating sandwiches at Denver-area Jimmy John’s locations in early October 2013. The outbreak investigation consisted of case finding and interviews, 2 separate case-control studies, environmental investigations, produce traceback, and laboratory testing.

348sThe results of this investigation indicate that consumption of Jimmy John’s sandwiches containing cucumbers imported from Mexico was the likely cause of the outbreak. To our knowledge, this is the first E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with cucumbers reported in the United States. Public health and food safety officials should be aware that cucumbers may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, which could cause sporadic E. coli O157:H7 infections as well as outbreaks. As of the date of this report, no other cases of E. coli O157:H7 with the PFGE pattern combination seen in this outbreak were reported in Colorado. 

Hepatitis A incident leads Colorado restaurant to make vaccinations for staff mandatory

Ft. Collins Colarodo is home of New Belgium beer, Colorado State University, and a restaurant that has been stung by having a food handler test positive with Hepatitis A. According to thedenverchannel.comTortilla Marissa’s North of the Border Cafe is closed until public health folks give them the okay to reopen.TortillaMarissas_1403912791692_6553175_ver1.0_640_480

A food worker employed at restaurant at 2635 S. College Ave., tested positive for Hepatitis A, a disease that might be passed to others through food directly handled by the employee before any symptoms appeared, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

Officials said diners who consumed food or drinks — either dine-in or take-out — from the restaurant in the past 14 days could benefit from getting a Hepatitis A vaccination or Immune Globulin injection to reduce the risk of illness.

Shots can be obtained from private health care providers or at two special clinics the Health Department will be holding on Sunday and Monday specifically for those potentially exposed  to Hepatitis A through the restaurant.

According to a statement released by the restaurant, they are making Hep A vaccinations mandatory for their staff.

We have instituted some new procedures including all future staff will be required to get an Hepatitis A vaccination before being allowed to work at Tortilla Marissa’s;  we have written a new employee sick policy based on best practices from around the country; and created some new systems in the kitchen. All of these practices exceed the standards set by the Larimer County Health Department as we are committed to our patrons health.

Health fair attendees stricken with food poisoning

The Rio Grande County Public Health Department in Colorado is investigating an outbreak of food poisoning possibly linked to food that was served at the 9Health Fair in Monte Vista on Saturday, April 5. 9Health Fair says the food at the fair was supplied by the Kiwanis Club.

vomit.toiletPublic Health Department Director Emily Brown says they have sent samples to the state lab and expect results by the beginning of next week. Brown estimates about 30 cases were reported by volunteers and participants. Brown says that it doesn’t appear the illness is spreading.

Governor knows more than biology (as many US governors believe); predicts cheese plant will never have a recall

From the dumb-things-politicians-say file, Colorado Governor. John Hickenlooper told an audience gathered for the opening of the newly-crowned largest producer mozzarella cheese in the world that, “We’ve got a cutting 220px-John_Hickenlooper_-_World_Economic_Forum_Annual_Meeting_2012_croppededge company that’s doing a facility this size is pathogen free. It has a culture of making sure that every ounce of cheese that comes out thereof is absolutely safe. They’re never going to have a recall.”

Hickenlooper was referring to the new complex for Leprino Foods and was accompanied for the Commander Tom-style ribbon cutting by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Media was denied access inside the facility because Leprino claims proprietary practices and technologies.

Because it’s super-extra secret.

When the entire project is complete the plant will process six million pounds of milk for cheese production per day and employ up to 700 people.

File that in the check-on-later file.


30 sick; Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen berries in US; same source as EU outbreaks?

This is starting to sound like so many sprout outbreaks, where seed is contaminated at source, distributed globally, and outbreaks stop popping up that eventually prove related.

State and federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday frozen.strawberryapproximately 30 cases have been reported.

CDC says the cases are “potentially associated” with Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries purchased from Costco.

Attorney Bill Gaar, representing Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., says investigators appear to be focusing on imported pomegranate seed that’s in the product.

A Costco spokesman says the company has removed the product from stores and is contacting its members.

Health officials don’t yet know if the product was sold at other stores or markets. They do know that frozen berry blends are often used to make smoothies, frozen bar drinks and other types of desserts and drinks. One concern is that smaller businesses might have bought bulk frozen berries at Costco and then used them in other products.

According to the label, the berry blend contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the US, Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.

The strain of hepatitis A in this outbreak is rarely seen in the United States, said CDC’s Lola Russell. It’s known to circulate in North African and the Middle East. The same type of hepatitis A was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another one in 2012 in Canada linked to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt, she said.

The berries involved in the European outbreak(s) are from Egypt and Morocco.

I may have some in my freezer. I love the berries, but never thought that in Australia, they’d be coming from wherever. So naïve, and I got a PhD in raspberry.frozenthis stuff.

And there it is, left, on my Creative Gourmet raspberries, which were the least expensive per kg last week.

“We’re still a proudly Australian based. We’ve just got a bit bigger as more and more people realize that frozen fruit is just as nutritious, delicious and easy to use as fresh.

“All this keeps us busy sourcing what’s best in season, from around the world, only choosing fruit that’s bursting with Hepatitis A vitamins and flavour. Then we lovingly pack the fruits of others our labour, so you can enjoy it, all year round.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the first people became ill on April 29 and the most recent on May 21. Five of these cases are Colorado residents. The number of cases in Colorado and in this outbreak may change, because on average it takes 30 days to become ill with hepatitis A after eating contaminated food.

Colorado student arrested for contaminating salad dressing

It’s like that scene out of Wedding Crashers – using Visine to induce vomiting.

I don’t know if that really works, but a spokesperson with the Colorado Springs Police Department told KOAA a couple of weeks ago a student at Vista Ridge High School had been arrested in connection a possible school lunch contamination incident.

The student admitted to pouring water from a Visine bottle into the ranch dressing at the cafeteria salad bar. He faces charges of Reckless Endangerment and Interference with School, Staff and Faculty.

Around 20 students at Vista Ridge High School felt nauseous following reports that another student had contaminated the ranch dressing at the school cafeteria with a bottle of Visine eye drops.

The school district is notifying all parents of the potential symptoms of Visine consumption which include nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, low body temperature and possible seizures.

Colorado produce firm invests $1 million for food-safety upgrades

It’s nice that Hungenberg Produce in Colorado has spent $1 million upgrading it’s food safety prevention, and they are representative of many of the farmers I know, but how can they be rewarded by consumers for their food safety efforts? How can I differentiate their carrots from other carrots at retail?

The Greeley Tribune reports that Mike and Paul Hungenberg, who represent the fourth generation to spearhead operations at Hungenberg Produce, invested about $1 million this past year to improve the company’s food safety and sanitation measures at its carrot-packing shed north of Greeley on Weld County Road 39.

The expensive upgrades were not required by any new federal or state regulations — the Hungenbergs said they’re just not willing to leave anything to chance.

“Food safety is something we’re always looking at … it’s a very important issue,” said Mike Hungenberg, whose company grows 1,000 acres of carrots and about 2,000 acres of other vegetables, while also packaging and shipping out about 300 tons of carrots daily during the five-month carrot season. The produce goes to Walmart, King Soopers, Kroger, Safeway and Sprouts stores, and can be found across the U.S. “We had been looking at making some upgrades … and with last year’s (listeria-in-cantaloupe) outbreak, the writing was on the wall. It was time.

“We wanted to be proactive.”

Mike Hungenberg said his company brought in a representative from McCarthy Integrated Systems in California — one of the industry’s foremost experts in food safety equipment, as Hungenberg described.

After getting pointers from that consultant, Mike designed the upgrades and, with the help of his workers, installed the new food-safety equipment this past winter.

Hungenberg Produce now has automated sprayers that sanitize and disinfect conveyor belts and other equipment throughout the day — not just at the end of the day.