Strategies? Cook ‘em: 120 sicken by noro in raw oysters in BC

Oysters are officially to blame for a norovirus outbreak that originated in Tofino last month.

“We do know of at least 120 people who became ill with norovirus and it was because of exposure to raw oysters,” Island Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback told Andrew Bailey of Westerly News on Monday.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada shut down all shellfish harvesting in a portion of Lemmens Inlet last week and Hasselback suggested further closures could be coming.

“The investigation isn’t quite complete. There are some loose ends and there may be further actions,” he said. “We can’t put every oyster back exactly where it came from but, believe it or not, we can actually track lots of oysters as to where they were processed, harvested and transported and that’s all been part of this investigation.”

tofinos-clayoquot-oyster-festivalOysters were the primary suspect in Island Health’s investigation from the onset as roughly 30 reports of norovirus cases came in in the immediate aftermath of Tofino’s Clayoquot Oyster Festival.

Hasselback said the number of reported cases ballooned from 30 to 120 after anyone who became sick after attending the festival was encouraged to report in.

“We certainly did get individuals who had consumed the product in Tofino that had gone to other provinces, or even south of the border, who were notifying us of illness so it’s good to know that the communication channels worked well,” he said.

He said the oysters were likely contaminated before arriving at the Oyster Festival’s tables.

“The investigation strongly suggests that the oysters were already contaminated with norovirus before they came to any of those locations so there was nothing that the festival people or other locations would have had any control over or would have known about,” he said.

tofinos-clayoquot-oyster-festival-2“Unfortunately we don’t have easy lab testing for things like viruses that would make it simple to screen the product before it gets out and then we end up finding out afterwards that potentially was contaminated.”

He said he has spoken with festival organizers to hash out strategies for next year.

He said the recent Tofino outbreak is the largest norovirus cluster he’s seen in the past five years but noted it was not unprecedented.

“We have seen it before,” he said. “We know this can occur.”

Don’t eat poop and if you do, cook it: Julianne Hough eats elephant poop

Julianne Hough recently joined Bear Grylls on his survival show “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.” The actress/dancer reveals that she ate elephant dung and caterpillars during the filming of the reality adventure series.

julianne-hough-eats-elephant-poop-on-running-wild-with-bear-grylls“It was the start of our journey in Southern Africa….You can drink that and it will rehydrate you,” Grylls explains during an interview with Access Hollywood. Hough further details how disgusting it was, “Right off the bat he’s like, here, let’s do this! It’s just like coming through my fingers and down my arm. And he just decides to put it on my face.”

The former “Dancing with the Stars” pro-dancer and judge confirms that she did eat the elephant poop after boiling it with some caterpillars. Asked what it tasted like, she says it was “awful,” before making a vomit face. Grylls praises her for being “one tough chic” though.

Great for reheating, lousy for cooking: How food service uses microwaves in Minnesota

Uneven cooking due to consumer use of microwave ovens to cook food products that have been prepared but are not ready to eat has been a documented risk factor in several foodborne disease outbreaks.

img_microwaveHowever, the use of microwave ovens in restaurants and other food service establishments has not been well documented. The aim of this study was to describe the types of food service establishments that use microwave ovens, how these ovens are used, types of foods heated or cooked in these ovens, types of microwave ovens used in food service establishments, and the level of compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

From 2008 to 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health collected data from a convenience sample of 60 food establishments within the state. Facility types included fast-food restaurants, sit-down restaurants, school food service, nursing homes, hotels and motels, and daycare centers. Food preparation practices were classified as prep-serve, cookserve, or complex. Minnesota environmental health specialists administered a study questionnaire to managers during routine inspections. Establishments included in this study reported using microwave ovens primarily to warm commercial ready-to-eat products (67%) and to warm foods for palatability (50%). No minimum temperatures are required for these processes because these foods do not require pathogen destruction. However, food establishments using complex preparation practices more often reported using microwave ovens for multiple processes and for processes that require pathogen destruction. For establishments that did report microwave oven use for food requiring pathogen destruction, the majority of managers reported following most FDA recommendations for cooking and reheating for hot-holding potentially hazardous foods, but many did not report letting food stand for 2 min after cooking.

Additional training on stand time after microwave cooking could be beneficial because of low reporting of this practice among study participants.

Microwave cooking practices in Minnesota food service establishments

Journal of Food Protection, Number 3, March 2016, Pages 507-511, DOI:

Hedeen, D. Reimann, and K. Everstine

But why would you? 5 foods you can cook in your dishwasher

In the latest triumph of food porn over food safety, someone at Shape magazine – porn over reality — thought it was a good idea to apparently gather random recipes that can be cooked at the same time as washing dishes.

food.cook.dishwasherThe recipes all get made inside an airtight canning jar or food vacuum bag.


Trim 1/4 pound of asparagus and place in a half-quart mason jar with 1 cup water, a pat of butter and some seasonings. Place on the top rack, and set your dishwasher to run a normal cycle.

Green Beans

Pretty much the same deal. Cook 1/4 cup of green beans with 1 cup of water and season with salt, pepper and lemon to taste.


Place a thin, skinless chicken breast in a half-quart mason jar with a cup of white wine, then add water until the chicken is covered by an inch. Wash and go. (And try not to think too much about poultry juices co-mingling with your water glasses.)


Same idea. Just add lemon and dill.


The ultimate dishwasher masterpiece. Cut a deveined, de-shelled lobster tail in half (find out how to crack it open here), then place it in a mason jar with a stick of unsalted butter. Run through a wash cycle, then invite your friends over for dishwasher lobster rolls.

I look forward to the validation studies for microbial kill rates, and cross-contamination issues.

Jersey tavern fined after cook fired for spitting in food

The Budd Lake tavern where a cook was arrested for spitting in a customer’s food last month, was fined $400 and $132 in court costs following an inspection after the incident.

no.spittingThe owner of Kennedy’s Pub, Bipin Patel of Rutherford, pleaded guilty before Municipal Court Judge Brian Levine on Monday, Nov. 3, to failing to keep food safe and unadulterated, failing to protect food from contamination, failure to have a person in charge with a food safety certificate and failure to maintain overall cleanliness. Patel was fined $100 and $33 in costs for each charge.

Health officials were asked to inspect the tavern after the incident on Oct. 18. The cook, John F. Stagg Jr., 32, of Great Meadows, was charged with spitting in food after it was returned by a 51-year-old customer for being undercooked. Another employee claimed to see Stagg spit in the food. Stagg was fired after the incident.

The kitchen was closed but the pub was allowed to remain open after the initial inspection. A subsequent inspection showed the violations were corrected and the tavern and pub were allowed to reopen on Monday Nov. 3.

Man cooks ex her dog for dinner

In a scene straight out of the vastly underrated movie, War of the Roses, a California man was arrested on charges of stalking and animal cruelty after his ex-girlfriend told police that he killed and cooked her dog before feeding it to her.

war.of.rosesThe woman contacted Redding, Calif., police Sept. 9, telling them she was a victim of domestic violence and stalking by her 34-year-old ex-boyfriend Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh of Pale Cedro. She said she had been physically assaulted numerous times during their relationship which lasted several months, police Sgt. Todd Cogle said.

You eat my parsley, I eat you; gruesome rabbit pics spark online attack

Author Jeanette Winterson has caused a Twitter row after she ate the rabbit who ate her parsley.

bunny1_620x310The author – who was a vegetarian for nine years – posted a somewhat graphic picture of a carcass on her kitchen counter, with the caption: “Rabbit ate my parsley. I am eating the rabbit.”

She proceeded to share pictures of the rabbit being “washed and jointed for the pot,” before being cooked on the AGA with rosemary and thyme.

Next came two shots of her cat eating the entrails.

1The images shocked followers, one of whom wrote: “Before I unfollow you, you make me sick. I will never again read a word you write. Rest in peace, little rabbit.”

My father liked  rabbit when he was growing up in Wales.

Florida man dies after winning roach-eating contest

I don’t like those so-called reality shows where people are made to eat stuff that should at least be cooked.

USA Today reports a 32-year-old Florida man has died after eating “dozens of roaches and worms” in a roach-eating contest, the Miami Herald says the Broward County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office is reporting.

Edward Archbold of West Palm Beach, Fla., won the contest Friday night at the Ben Siegal Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach, but before he could leave with his prize, a female Ivory Ball python, he began throwing up and then collapsed, the Herald reports.

Archbold was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Herald.

Archbold’s body was taken to the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office, where an autopsy was to be performed, the Herald reports. None of the other contestants was sickened, according to the news organization.

Washington state says, please cook your oysters

I don’t know any food microbiologists who eat raw oysters; they may exist, but maybe I only know the drunks and they know better than to play with Vibrio and its liver-specific toxins.

And every time we post something about raw oysters, producers and government-types say we have no idea what we’re talking about – and provide no data.

So this isn’t me, it’s from the Washington state department of health via Seattlepi, which is telling Washingtonians to thoroughly cook their oysters.

The department says that cooking shellfish until the shells open is not enough for kill harmful bacteria.

Summer’s warmer temperatures mean that levels of the bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus increase in state waters. Eating an oyster with the Vibrio bacteria can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. It says that symptoms usually appear within 12-24 hours after eating infected shellfish and usually last from two to seven days.

The department recommends oysters should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees for at least 15 seconds to thoroughly kill the bacteria.

Yes, I temp my oysters with a thermometer. Because I know a few drunks and don’t want to kill them.