Campy overestimates: FSA accused of undermining meat industry

Alex Black of FG Insight reports the UK Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has claimed the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ’appears to continue to undermine the meat processing sector’ with misleading campylobacter figures.

AIMS_LOGO_2008_002An article in The Meat Trades Journal quoted figures published on the Food Standards Agency website stated campylobacter was believed to cause 100 deaths a year.

However, AIMS pointed out the figure was an extract from a FSA funded paper which said ’We could not estimate deaths attributable to foodborne illness, due to the lack of reliable data sources on pathogen-specific mortality rates’.

AIMS head of policy, Norman Bagley, said: “Selectively quoting from its own commissioned report on its own website has once again undermined the excellent work and progress the industry has made on combating campylobacter.

“Stating that campylobacter causes 100 deaths a year is just not based on science and leads to continuing scary, misleading stories being carried in both the trade and consumer media, which once again, undermines our sector.

“This is far from helpful and needs to stop.”

A FSA spokesman said: “We explain on our website that the campylobacter deaths figure is a previous estimate, and that we are continuing to analyse the full impact that campylobacter has.

“We are determining which updated figures to use in the future.”

Raw is risky: 2 Tampa Bay residents die from shellfish

Jacqueline Ingles of WFTS Tampa Bay reports, take a ride on Captain Nick Warhurst’s boat and there is just one rule: do not eat raw shellfish.“I’d rather you not eat anything raw on my boat,” said Warhurst. “If you want to eat them raw you wait till you get to the dock and you’re on your own.”

Married to a nurse, Warhurst says he knows the dangers of eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

“Some people die from this stuff,” he explained.

According to the Florida Department of Health, two Bay area residents did get infected with Vibrio Vulnificus and died this year. One resident was from Citrus County, the other resided in Sarasota County.

Vibrio is a bacteria that occurs naturally in Gulf Coast waters.

You can also get infected if you go into water with an open cut or sore.

So far this year, 23 people have been infected by the bacteria across the states. A total of five people have died from the infections.

However, contracting it is rare.

“It is really, really, really rare, but why take the chance,” asked Terry Natwick, the director of sales and marketing at the Plantation Inn in Crystal River.

The inn, which is a hotspot for tourists who’ve come to scallop stay, offers a catch and cook program.

“Not only do we have somebody who will professionally shuck the scallops for you and keep it on ice and then put it in a Ziplock and then you bring it right to our kitchen where we refrigerate it at the proper temperature and cook if for you either that day at lunch or that night for dinner,” Natwick said.

First time scalloper Nick Tulse is taking the Inn up on it’s offer.

“Oh no no, you cook ’em,” said Tulse, who drove up from Bradenton.

13 dead, 10 sick from C. perfringens in Nigeria

On Feb. 27, 2016, Dr Rilwanu Muhammad, the Executive Secretary, of the Federal Capital Territory Primary Health Care Development Board in Nigeria said that 13 people died, while 10 people survived food poisoning caused by Clostridium perfringens in Abuja.

africa0027-e1407965162944The board took blood samples from infected persons and water from the well and the 3 bore holes in the community for clinical diagnosis at the laboratory of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Muhammad called on community administration to provide safe and clean water for the community. He also called on the community to enhance personal hygiene, especially hand washing, adding that C. perfringens infection could be traced in the stool of the affected person.

2 dead from Vibrio in raw fish in Korea

Health officials in Incheon are on alert after two vibrio sepsis patients died there while receiving treatment. They contracted the disease after eating raw fish. year, 10 cases of vibrio sepsis have been reported throughout the country, most of which occurred in South Jeolla Province.

According to the Incheon Metropolitan Government, a patient from Ganghwa-gun, surnamed Hwang, 53, died Aug. 14 at a hospital where he had been treated for severe abdominal pains and diarrhea.

Hwang was the second vibrio sepsis patient in Incheon to die, following another fatality in Bupyeong-gu.

The bacterium Vibrio vulnificus is commonly contracted through the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. The resulting sepsis can cause abdominal pain and vomiting, among other symptoms.

Home-canned food kills Argentinean man: Botulism in food causing deaths for over 1000 years

Mrs. Kalisz, my grade 7 and 8 family studies teacher warned of the dangers of botulism by showing our class a bulging can of beans (which she kept in a ziplock bag). What I took away from that story was to never buy or use dented cans (although that practice can be debated). Botulism from commercially canned foods has been pretty rare in North America since the 1970s with only a couple of cases in 40+ years.pickled.onion

The first case of food-related botulism recorded in the medical literature occurred in Germany in 1735 and was traced to uncooked fermented blood sausage. Food safety history guru (and pretty decent margarita recipe developer) Carl Custer pointed out in an IAFP workshop that botulism concerns (and regulatory responses) go back further than that. In the 10th century, Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium prohibited the manufacture of blood sausage because of repeated illnesses leaving folks paralyzed and dying not too long after exposure. Botulism (derived from botulus, the latin word for sausage) is pretty nasty.

In 2002, a Meaford, Ontario man fell ill with botulism after eating a toxin-containing baked potato from a local restaurant. A 35-year old father of two was still on life support two months later. Potatoes wrapped in tinfoil, baked, and then held at room temperature can create the perfect conditions for Clostridium botulinum problems.

The spores, found fairly commonly in soil, germinate and outgrow in anaerobic conditions (like partially-fermented sausages, under processed canned food, seafood and foil-wrapped baked potatoes) resulting in vegetative cells. A byproduct of the cells’ multiplication is the toxin.

Although the memorable outbreaks are linked to commercial food, the most common source of botulism in North America is improperly canned home preserves, usually from low acid foods being placed into a jar and then heating enough to seal –  but not enough to inactivate the C. botulinum spores. A few weeks ago Doug asked me for a recipe for acidified pickled onions which he wanted to keep refrigerated to control pathogen growth instead of messing with processing (right, exactly as shown). In 2012, a few unlucky folks attending a Oregon family gathering ate some beets that had been boiling-water-bathed, reaching just 212F instead of the needed 240F.

According to Diario Uno, 69 year-old Argentinean man died of botulism on March 10, 2013 after reportedly consuming home canned foods,

The man arrived at the hospital on Wed 6 Mar 2013, with acute pain; his condition deteriorated and he was admitted in the intensive care unit, where he died on Sun 10 Mar 2013. During the time of admission”different doctors treated him and carried out all possible diagnostic tests, arriving at a diagnosis of botulism for which the patient received treatment.” Dr Pedro Farran said, “Home canning is very common in our area; the problem is not in the food preparation but in its improper canning. Even marinades with low content of vinegar can transmit the disease.”

Nosestretcher alert: Plastic grocery bag bans lead to 100% increase in deaths from foodborne illness (and videos with dramatic music)

"We were finding that deaths, for example, from foodborne illness or intestinal infections goes up from anywhere between 50% and 100%, so a doubling in some instances."

That’s what Jonathan Klick, a University of Pennsylvania Law professor states in reference to what he says is a major public health risk: jurisdictions enacting plastic bag bans that result in the increased use of reusable bags. Citing unshown and unpublished data from San Francisco, Klick also says "More people are showing up in the emergency rooms, and it turns out they have E. coli infections…"

He implies those infections and illnesses can be traced to reusable bags. Uh huh.

According to The PERColator, Klick investigated the economic trade-offs of reusable bags during a fellowship funded by the Property and Environment Research Center this summer and he apparently has data to back this up, but I’m guessing here (because nothing is cited).

In research carried out at PERC this summer, Jonathan Klick, a PERC Lone Mountain Fellow, argues that reusable grocery bags contain potentially harmful bacteria, especially coliform bacteria such as E. coli. Klick finds that, in the wake of San Francisco’s ban, deaths and ER visits related to these bacteria spiked as soon as the ban went into effect. For more on this ongoing research, watch our interview with Klick (I’ve embedded it below -ben)

Klick says "There have been some science folks, who have done some studies…" and then a few stats are flashed up:

– 51% of tested bags contained coliform bacteria

– Bacteria grows even faster if stored in a car

Those science folks are Williams and colleagues (2011) who have published the only peer-reviewed study on the microbial safety of reusable bags and they tested 58 bags taken from shoppers in Arizona and California.

And E. coli matters more than coliform, since the group of bacteria is commonly found on plant material and is not a good indicator of pathogen presence on food. At least E. coli demonstrates that a pathogen might be there. The Williams study showed generic E. coli can float around in bags – they recovered it in 12% of what they sampled (n=58).

An unanswered question is can it be (or is it likely) to be transferred to any ready-to-eat foods, or somehow to food contact surfaces in the home? Seems like that matters. Just because the bacteria might be there, doesn’t mean it can contaminate a ready-to-eat food. No one has presented data to support that.

Williams and colleagues also tested growth of Salmonella in 2 batches. They spiked the bags with 10^6 cfu and let them sit in the trunk of a car for 2 hours. One of the batches, where the temperature reached 47C/117F, showed a one-log increase in the Salmonella. The other batch, where the temperature reached 53C/124F, there was a one-log reduction. That data doesn’t show just a breeding zone – it shows they can be a killing zone too (and I’m not sure how realistic a 10^6 contamination really is).

Shiny YouTube videos with dramatic music can grab attention – but without sharing the data and showing his work, Klick isn’t saying much.