Young girls in Finland are pretending to ride horses — inside the prancing phenomenon

As I’m about to watch game 4 of the Stanley Cup final between St. Louis and Boston (that’s ice hockey for my Australian friends, and it’s on in background) I think of the Finnish trend of young girls prancing – pretending to ride horses.

According to a story in People, many young girls in the country have taken up the craft of “hobbyhorsing,” which sees them use a stick equipped with a toy horse’s head to dance and show off their riding skills at events.

While it may seem like the girls are simply pretending to ride their horses, it becomes as genuine as it can get at competitions, where they’ll learn how to care for their hobbyhorse just as if it were a real animal. They even pick its breed and gender.

Becoming a part of the country’s growing hobbyhorse community reportedly allows the girls to express themselves without fear of ridicule in something they may not find in school or in their neighborhood.

“The normal things, that normal girls like, they don’t feel like my things,” 11-year-old hobbyhorse enthusiast Fanny Oikarinen told the N.Y. Times.

 “Some are sports girls,” added Fanny’s friend, Maisa Wallius. “Some are really lonely girls. And some can be the coolest girl at school.”

Enthusiast Alisa Aarniomaki found online stardom thanks to her hobbyhorsing, but despite her popular videos, she was unsure about revealing her skills to kids at school.

Hobbyhorsing got the attention of filmmaker Selma Vilhunen, who released a documentary in 2017 about the craft.

“Little girls are allowed to be strong and wild,” Vilhunen said of hobbyhorsing. “I think the society starts to shape them into a certain kind of quietness when they reach puberty.

If it works for these girls, great. My five daughters all played or play (ice) hockey – the real kind.

You see a cute bird, I see a Campylobacter factory: In Finland too

The roles of environmental reservoirs, including wild birds, in the
molecular epidemiology of Campylobacter jejuni have not been assessed in
depth.

Our results showed that game birds may pose a risk for acquiring
campylobacteriosis, because they had C. jejuni genomotypes highly similar
to human isolates detected previously. Therefore, hygienic measures during
slaughter and meat handling warrant special attention. On the contrary, a
unique phylogeny was revealed for the western jackdaw (right) isolates, and certain
genomic characteristics identified among these isolates are hypothesized to
affect their host specificity and virulence.

Comparative genomics within sequence types (STs), using whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST), and phylogenomics are efficient methods to analyze the genomic relationships of C. jejuni isolates.

 Population Genetics and Characterization of Campylobacter jejuni Isolates
 from Western Jackdaws and Game Birds in Finland
 Sara Kovanen, Mirko Rossi, Mari Pohja-Mykrä, Timo Nieminen, Mirja
 Raunio-Saarnisto, Mikaela Sauvala, Maria Fredriksson-Ahomaa, Marja-Liisa
 Hänninen and Rauni Kivistö

 Appl. Environ. Microbiol. February 2019 85:e02365-18; Accepted manuscript
 posted online 14 December 2018, doi:10.1128/AEM.02365-18

 http://aem.asm.org/content/85/4/e02365-18.abstract?etoc

Developing official control in Finnish slaughterhouses, 2018

From a PhD dissertation by Jenni Luukkanen of the University of Helsinki. Here’s hoping the defence last week went well.

Official control in slaughterhouses, consisting of meat inspection and food safety inspection, has an important role in ensuring meat safety, animal health and welfare, and prevention of transmissible animal diseases. Meat inspection in the European Union (EU) includes the inspection of food chain information, live animals (ante-mortem inspection), and carcasses and offal (post-mortem inspection).

Food safety inspections are performed to verify slaughterhouses’ compliance with food safety legislation and are of the utmost importance, especially if slaughterhouses’ self-checking systems (SCSs) fail.

The aim of this study was to investigate the prerequisites for official control such as the functionality of the task distribution in meat inspection and certain meat inspection personnel-related factors. In addition, needs for improvement in slaughterhouses’ SCSs, meat inspection, and food safety inspections, including control measures used by the official veterinarians (OVs) and their efficacy, were examined. In the EU, competent authorities must ensure the quality of official control in slaughterhouses through internal or external audits, and the functionality of these audits was also studied.

Based on our results, meat inspection personnel (OVs and official auxiliaries [OAs]), slaughterhouse representatives, and officials in the central authority were mainly satisfied with the functionality of the present task distribution in meat inspection, although redistributing ante-mortem inspection from the OVs to the OAs was supported by some slaughterhouse representatives due to perceived economic benefit.

Ante-mortem inspection was assessed as the most important meat inspection task as a whole for meat safety, animal welfare, and prevention of transmissible animal diseases, and most of the respondents considered it important that the OVs perform antemortem inspection and whole-carcass condemnation in red meat slaughterhouses.

In a considerable number of slaughterhouses, OA or OV resources were not always sufficient and the lack of meat inspection personnel decreased the time used for food safety inspections according to the OVs, also affecting some of the red meat OAs’ post-mortem inspection tasks. The frequency with which OVs observed post-mortem inspection performed by the OAs varied markedly in red meat slaughterhouses. In addition, roughly one-third of the red meat OAs did not consider the guidance and support from the OVs to be adequate in post-mortem inspection.

According to our results, the most common non-compliance in slaughterhouses concerned hygiene such as cleanliness of premises and equipment, hygienic working methods, and maintenance of surfaces and equipment. Chief OVs in a few smaller slaughterhouses reported more frequent and severe non-compliances than other slaughterhouses, and in these slaughterhouses the usage of written time limits and enforcement measures by the OVs was more infrequent than in other slaughterhouses.

Deficiencies in documentation of food safety inspections and in systematic follow-up of corrections of slaughterhouses’ non-compliance had been observed in a considerable number of slaughterhouses. In meat inspection, deficiencies in inspection of the gastrointestinal tract and adjacent lymph nodes were most common and observed in numerous red meat slaughterhouses. Internal audits performed to evaluate the official control in slaughterhouses were considered necessary, and they induced correction of observed non-conformities. However, a majority of the interviewed OVs considered that the meat inspection should be more thoroughly audited, including differences in the rejections and their reasons between OAs. Auditors, for their part, raised a need for improved follow-up of the audits.

Our results do not give any strong incentive to redistribute meat inspection tasks between OVs, OAs, and slaughterhouse employees, although especially from the red meat slaughterhouse representatives’ point of view the cost efficiency ought to be improved. Sufficient meat inspection resources should be safeguarded in all slaughterhouses, and meat inspection personnel’s guidance and support must be emphasized when developing official control in slaughterhouses. OVs ought to focus on performing follow-up inspections of correction of slaughterhouses’ non-compliance systematically, and also the documentation of the food safety inspections should be developed.

Hygiene in slaughterhouses should receive more attention; especially in slaughterhouses with frequent and severe non-compliance, OVs should re-evaluate and intensify their enforcement.

The results attest to the importance of internal audits in slaughterhouses, but they could be developed by including auditing of the rejections and their underlying reasons and uniformity in meat inspection.

Lettuce is overrated: STEC in Finland

Escherichia coli are Gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria and part of the normal bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract, while diarrhoeagenic E. colipathotypes such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) are able to cause gastrointestinal infections [1]. STEC can lead to a severe disease, such as haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) [2]. The risk of HUS has been related especially to children under 5 years and to elderly people. HUS is characterised by acute onset of microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, renal injury and low platelet count.

More than 400 STEC serotypes have been recognised, of which the best-known serotype is O157:H7 [1]. The most common non-O157:H7 serotypes causing human infections are O26, O103, O111 and O145 [3]. The virulence of STEC is largely based on the production of Shiga toxin 1 or 2 and is identified by detecting the presence of stx1 or stx2 genes [1,4]. The virulence of EPEC is caused by its capability to form attaching and effacing (A/E) lesions in the small intestine. This capability requires the presence of virulence genes called the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) in a pathogenity island (PAI) that encodes intimin [4]. Unlike STEC, EPEC do not produce Shiga toxin. EPEC are divided into two distinct groups by the presence of EPEC adherence factor plasmid (pEAF) expressing bundle-forming pili (BFP), which is a virulence determinant of typical EPEC (tEPEC) [5]. Thus atypical EPEC (aEPEC) are defined as E. coli that produce A/E lesions but do not express BFP. Typical EPEC are best known as a cause of infantile diarrhoea, especially in developing countries [6]. Diarrhoea-causing aEPEC have been shown to be separate group without a close relation to tEPEC, but some serotypes are genetically related to STEC [5]. The pathogenity of aEPEC has been questioned but their involvement with diarrhoeal outbreaks supports the idea that certain strains are diarrhoeagenic [1,7].

Both STEC and EPEC are transmitted through the faecal-oral route, and outbreaks caused by STEC and aEPEC have been described after ingestion of contaminated food or water [7,8]. STEC is common in ruminants and can be found in foods contaminated by ruminant faeces [9]. Most studies on STEC have focused on the serotype O157:H7, but infections and outbreaks caused by non-O157 strains are increasingly reported in Europe and elsewhere [1013]. Atypical EPEC strains are found in animals used for food production, such as cattle, sheep, goat, pig and poultry, in contrast to tEPEC that has been found only in humans [1,14].

Since 1995, clinicians and clinical microbiology laboratories have been obliged to report culture-confirmed STEC infections to the Finnish Infectious Disease Registry (FIDR) maintained by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Finland. EPEC infections are not reportable. Since PCR instead of culture became the standard for screening of diarrhoeal patients in 2013, the incidence of reported STEC infections has increased in Finland to 1.2–1.8 per 100,000 population between 2013 and 2015 compared with 0.2–0.6 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2012. From 1997 to 2015, six food- or waterborne STEC outbreaks were detected in Finland (Table 1).

Outbreak of multiple strains of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli associated with rocket salad, Finland, autumn 2016

15.may.18

Eurosurvelliance, Volume 23, Issue 35, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.35.1700666

Sohvi KinnulaKaisa HemminkiHannele KotilainenEeva RuotsalainenEveliina Tarkka,Saara SalmenlinnaSaija HallanvuoElina LeinonenOllgren JukkaRuska Rimhanen-Finne

https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.35.170066

400 sick: Now the water is chlorinated in Nousis, Finland

(Something may be lost in translation; thanks to our Scandanavian correspondent for passing along these stories.)

About 400 people in Nousis, Finland — a town of 4,800 — fell as a result of contaminated drinking water.

The municipality’s health authorities state that the situation was worst 23-27 January when more than 50 cases were recorded every day. The number of new cases has decreased steadily.

Last weekend, a ban on drinking water was introduced.

A leakage has been found to be behind the epidemic; the leak caused sewage and drinking water to mix.

Last night, chlorination of the water pipeline began. Day care centers, schools, retirement homes and health centers are in the first place in a hurry for redevelopment, and on Tuesday the chlorination of the water to households begins.

In tests taken by people who have fallen ill after drinking the municipality’s water pipeline, at least noro, sapo and astroviruses have been found.

Some of the patients had had two different viruses.

Individual cases of ETEC and EHEC bacteria and of the bacterium Plesiomonas shigelloides were also found in the patient samples.

In water analyzes only sapovirus has been found, and therefore it has not been possible to confirm that the other disease have come from the water.

“I contacted the municipality when the water was grayed out, but they then certified me that it was safe to drink,” said resident Jutta Holmevaara.

“Then it started coming out ‘from both ends.’ It continued as long as I drank the water.

“It took five days before I noticed that they had announced that it was worth boiling the water. I had fever for several days. I still do not feel completely healthy.”

Over 100 barfing from water in Finland

More than 100 people have suffered gastrointestinal symptoms as E. coli was found in drinking water in Aanekoski, a small city in central Finland, due to a pipe fracture, Finnish new agency STT reported on Thursday.

metsagroup_aanekoski_765Residents in Aanekoski and surrounding areas were advised to boil the water that they need for preparing food. About 800 households were involved.

Sinikka Rissanen, health inspector from the Environmental Health Service of Aanekoski, estimated on Thursday that at least 100 residents have suffered gastrointestinal symptoms caused by the polluted tap water so far.

At least 200 sicken by E. coli linked to salad in Finland

Some 200 people suffered from a gastroenteritis epidemic in the Helsinki metropolitan area of Finland after eating food supplied by a catering company, media reported on Thursday.

rucola.saladEeva Ruotsalainen, deputy director of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), told the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat that most of the infections occurred in festive occasions arranged in Helsinki about two weeks ago, and some others occurred in Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen after the events.

Laboratory results showed that more than 80 of the patients were infected by EHEC (Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli) which include Shiga-toxin producing E. coli. said Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare.

Officials contacted patients of high-risk groups, such as children under the age of five, elderly people, pregnant women and persons who work in the food industry.

Health officials suspected that the infection originated from an Espoo-based catering company which provided food services for the events.

Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported that the source of the epidemic was traced to rucola or rocket salad sold by Kesko, a major retailer of Finland.

Matti Kalervo, vice president of Kesko, told Yle that the rucola in question was grown in Denmark and packaged in Sweden. The breakout of the epidemic was caused by a single batch of rucola exclusively for industrial kitchens. Kesko has started to perform microbiological tests on the product, said Kalervo. EHEC bacteria, a subtype of Escherichia coli, can cause human hemorrhagic colitis. The infection of EHEC can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which in turn may cause permanent kidney damage or even death.

Salmonella from organic sprouts, grown in China, sickened people in Finland

Two new cases of Salmonella enteritidis are being investigated in Finland after an earlier outbreak linked to imported organic mung bean sprouts.

Bean_sproutsAccording to the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis in Finland appears to be caused by organic mung beans sprouts from China, via the Netherlands

The sprouts have been withdrawn from the market.

More details can be found in the Food Quality News article.

I’m going to serve food. Should I be pre-inspected? Finland says go back to yes

Finnish food control authorities waived pre-inspections of food premises in 2011, leaving food business operators to begin operating with no pre-operation food control. This study aims to investigate the effects of this food policy change on the preconditions for Good Hygienic Practices (GHPs) on food premises.

Traditional-Finnish-Food-fOf the 916 food premises that were included in this study, 379 were pre-approved whereas 537 merely notified their operations.

The results show that notified food service premises (restaurants) preparing food displayed significantly more non-compliance pertaining to infrastructure than did restaurants pre-approved for food preparation (11.5% and 1.8% of the premises, respectively) (p < 0.05). Significant differences also emerged in the number of premises with non-compliance pertaining to cleaning facilities and equipment, and marked differences in the adequacy of hand and other washing sites. Such instances of non-compliance weaken the preconditions for GHPs.

The results suggest that re-introducing pre-inspections of restaurants would strengthen the preconditions for GHPs and possibly provide a model for other countries with similar food control systems.

Does waiving preventive food control inspections in Finland weaken the prerequisites for safe food handling in restaurants?

Food Control; Available online 29 June 2016; doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2016.06.044

Veera Haukijärvi, and Janne Lundén

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516303589

Prerequisites for effective official food control in Finland

We studied the prerequisites for official food control and their relation to the quality of controls by using 17 Finnish municipal food control units as our sample.

finland.food.safeBased on our results, units invest in creating adequate working conditions through the provision of guidance papers, pre forma templates and possibilities for staff to collectively hold discussions. However, poor orientation, tacit knowledge and incomplete commitment among staff to quality systems remain as challenges in the units. Insufficient human resources and the inability of heads of food control units to recognize problems in the workplace setting may impair the functional capacity of units. Poor workplace atmosphere and weaknesses in organization of work may also be reflected in food businesses operators’ lesser appreciation toward official food controls.

Food Control, Volume 61, March 2016, Pages 172–179

Tiina Läikkö-Rotoa, Janne Lundén, Jaakko Heikkilä, Mari Nevas

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713515302218