Vibrio cholerae and fish in The Netherlands

Vibrio cholerae non-O1 serogroup (VCNO) bacteraemia is a severe condition with a high case–fatality rate. report three cases diagnosed in the Netherlands, identified during a national microbiological congress, and provide a literature review on VCNO bacteraemia.

A search strategy including synonyms for ‘VCNO’ and ‘bacteraemia’ was applied to PubMed, Medline, Web of Science and Embase databases.

The three cases were reported in elderly male patients after fish consumption and/or surface water contact. The literature search yielded 82 case reports on 90 cases and six case series. Thirty case reports were from Asia (30/90; 33%), concerned males (67/90; 74%), and around one third (38/90; 42%) involved a history of alcohol abuse and/or liver cirrhosis The presenting symptom often was gastroenteritis (47/90; 52%) which occurred after seafood consumption in 32% of the cases (15/47).Aside from the most frequent symptom being fever, results of case series concurred with these findings. Published cases also included rare presentations e.g. endophthalmitis and neonatal meningitis. Based on the limited data available, cephalosporins seemed the most effective treatment. Although mainly reported in Asia, VCNO bacteraemia occurs worldwide. While some risk factors for VCNO were identified in this study, the source of infection remains often unclear. Clinical presentation may vary greatly and therefore a quick microbiological diagnosis is indispensable.

Vibrio cholerae non-O1 bacteraemia: description of three cases in The Netherlands and a literature review

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 15, 14 April 2016

MF Engel, MA Muijsken, E Mooi-Kokenberg EJ Kuijper, DJ van Westerloo

Ciguatera intoxication happens; not cigar-related

When I teach food service folks a certified food protection manager class I often stumble over the pronunciation of ciguatera poisoning (the New York Times says it’s sig-WAH-terra – I’ll go with that). The toxin is produced by a dinoflagellates (usually Gambierdiscus toxicus which lives on algae or dead coral) and is eaten up by sporting fish like barracuda, amber jack and some types of grouper and snapper.

The fish eat the small organisms and overtime bioaccumulate the toxin in their tissue.images

Then folks who like fish, eat it and get sick. Even if it’s cooked.

The toxin is pretty heat stable (FAO says that even 20 min of cooking at 158°F/70°C for 20 min was insufficient to fully denature the toxin protein). Ciguatera was responsible for an outbreak aboard a cargo ship earlier this year, leading to a code orange at a Saint John, New Brunswick (that’s in Canada) hospital. Thirteen crew members fell ill within hours of eating toxin-ridden fish.

Elizabeth Radke and colleagues at Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute published research earlier this week estimating that ciguatera is a much larger issue than the reported illness disease trackers believe. Public health data show that barracuda, grouper and amberjack caught from subtropical waters in the Bahamas and the Florida Keys are key risk factors.

From the paper:

Our finding that only 7% of diagnosed cases were reported to the FDOH may at first glance be surprising. However, for many notifiable diseases, physicians rely on laboratory reporting of cases, which is not available for ciguatera because of the lack of a diagnostic laboratory test. In addition, because ciguatera is not a communicable disease, physicians may be unaware that it is a notifiable condition in the State of Florida. One survey in Miami-Dade County found that only 47% of physicians knew that ciguatera was notifiable and this is likely to be lower in less endemic parts of the state.

We also found that Hispanics experience the highest rate of ciguatera illness in Florida, possibly due to more frequent consumption of barracuda than non-Hispanics. This may represent an opportunity for targeted, culturally relevant educational messaging after more narrowly identifying high-risk cultural groups.

Know your target audiences, their practices and communicate to them directly.

India to provide training for meat, fish sellers

Concerned with the health of citizens, the food department of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will register meat and fish sellers and train them on hygiene maintenance in four states, including Maharashtra, from January 1 to 15 in the markets, as well as at its headquarters.

fish.headsThe move has been taken after the FDA registered several complaints regarding the standards of non-vegetarian products across nation. “It was long overdue. I have been making inspections since I occupied the chair and felt that this area had been ignored so far,” said Suresh Annapure, joint commissioner, food, FDA.

Proper registration will help the FDA keep track of vendors violating the rules.

Vietnam asks to ease seafood restrictions; Brits selling fresh seafood 15 days old

Russia now only allows Vietnamese seafood enterprises with existing contracts to export to the market. This means only 64 of the 102 enterprises that meet food safety standards are allowed to export to Russia because the others have no valid contracts.

fish artThe Nafiqad request came following food safety inspections of Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS) last month.

The director of a seafood company that failed to enter into a contract with a Russian importer said it would be easier for the company to find an importer if it were allowed to export to the market.

This was the first time the director visited Russia to seek export opportunities, but he failed to find an importer who would sign a contract.

However, if the company met food safety and technical standards, there was no reason to bar it from exporting to the market, the director added.

Meanwhile, British supermarkets are selling fish which is two weeks old and labelling it as ‘fresh’, an investigation has found.

Fish on sale at the fresh counters of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons was found to be up to 15 days old.

Experts said some samples of cod, plaice, mackerel and haddock were ‘bland’ with ‘little flavour’, and that they could start to taste ‘off’ after just a day in the fridge.

Fish scientist Richard Chivers examined and tasted 14 pieces of fish including samples from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and an independent fishmonger.

He found that a third of the fish – including some from Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s – was between 12 and 15 days old. 

Fish fraud and safety in EU

Deficiencies in food safety controls governing the production and sale of Irish fishery products have been highlighted in an audit by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office.

coffs.harbour.trawlerThe audit, in May, included inspections of two fishing vessels, five landing sites and 11 facilities handling fishery products, as well as meetings with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Some 296,000 tonnes of fishery products were landed in Ireland in 2012. The audit noted that, between 2012 and 2013, there were six alerts to the international rapid alert system for food and feed involving Irish fishery products. Listeria was found in smoked salmon four times and once in crab, while there was also an alert about parasites in mackerel.

The audit team found that the official control system was not applied consistently.

“The control system presents some gaps with regard to registration/approval of cold stores, inspection of vessels, temperature recording devices, drafting and implementing food safety management systems . . .” it stated.

Cold storage

The audit team found that although two cold stores used for fishery products had been approved by the Department of Agriculture, the approval did not include the storage of fishery products. Also, the approval conditions were not satisfactory because they did not require a temperature of -18 degrees.

The authorities had not inspected some premises handling fishery products as often as stipulated. This was explained by “staff constraints”.

The cold stores and processing establishments inspected were found to have broadly met the hygiene and structural requirements.

“However, one establishment could not be considered compliant with EU requirements. There were structural deficiencies … and it was in a poor state of maintenance,” the report stated.

It found shortcomings in other establishments, such as storing exposed and packaged products in the same room and a lack of temperature-recording devices in some cold stores on vessels.

The audit made six recommendations, including the regular inspection of all fishing vessels.

It said authorities should ensure all food business operators maintained procedures based on HACCP principles and that facilities comply with requirements such as the use of temperature control devices in cold stores before being approved.

4 dead, 1000 sick with Salmonella in Netherlands 2 years ago; fish processor still not up to scratch

A fish processing company which was at the centre of a salmonella outbreak two years ago, has not yet cleaned up its act, health minister Edith Schippers has told parliament.

Foppen.salmonHarderwijk-based Foppen was at the centre of a global salmon contamination scandal in 2012, in which four people died and 1,000 became ill.

Recent check-ups at the company’s processing plant resulted in fines for a ‘mold-like’ substance  on conveyer belts and condensation in the prawn packing system, news agency ANP said.

Last month local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland reported all was not yet well at the company, leading MPs to ask the health minister questions.

‘I consider it worrying that despite the salmonella outbreak in 2012 checks in 2013 and 2014 show that Foppen is not yet up to scratch,’ Schippers said in her briefing.

What about Listeria? Pregnant women advised to eat more fish

I was talking with daughter Braunwynn today about her future academic and travel plans. She also wanted to know my preferred way to cook pork chops.

But this is about fish, and as Braunwynn said when she was in Brisbane, “How can I go back after this?”

amy.pregnant.listeriaWe are fortunate in Brisbane to have a fabulous supply of seafood.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said women and children should eat more fish, but sidestepped the issue of raw or undercooked seafood for pregnant women.

It’d be nice for all the mothers out there, who are already inundated with contradictory messages, if FDA consolidated toxin and microbiological risk information into a cohesive message. For example, pregnant women shouldn’t be eating any refrigerated ready-to-eat seafood like salad or smoked salmon.

Liz Szabo of USA Today writes that federal officials for the first time are recommending that young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women eat a minimum of two to three servings a week of fish that is low in mercury, in order to give them important health benefits.

Current guidelines, released a decade ago, focused on limiting the amount of fish consumed by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to concerns about contamination from methylmercury, which can cause brain damage, especially to developing brains, said Elizabeth Southerland of the Environmental Protection Agency, which released the new guidelines along with the Food and Drug Administration.

That advice apparently scared a lot of women into avoiding fish altogether. Research has shown that 21% of pregnant women ate no fish at all in the past month, said Stephen Ostroff, acting chief scientist at the FDA. Even among women who consumed fish, half ate fewer than 2 ounces a week.

braun.sorenne.2.aug.14But fish contain heart-healthy oils, such as omega-3 fatty acids, says Edward R.B. McCabe, medical director of the March of Dimes Foundation. There’s also limited evidence that fish oils may promote a baby’s brain development. McCabe praised the agencies’ decision to encourage more fish consumption, along with a balanced diet.

So now, instead of telling these women to eat no more than two servings of fish a week, officials advise them to eat at least two servings and up to three servings a week of fish that’s low in mercury. Officials continue to advise women to avoid four fish with higher mercury levels: shark; swordfish; king mackerel and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico. Those four fish make up less than 2% of fish sold in the USA, Ostroff says.

Nine of the 10 most frequently sold fish in the USA are lower in mercury, Ostroff says. The fish used in fish sticks and other commercial products is also usually low in mercury, he said. Fish that are lower in mercury include shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod, he said.

“The health benefits far outweigh any risk,” Ostroff says.

The draft’s updated advice did recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding women limit their consumption of white (also called albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Ice for fish used to make juice; restaurants closed in India

Food Safety officials on Sunday closed down three juice shops and a hotel in Kowdiar for unclean conditions and for serving stale food and beverages.

According to the officials, old fruits and ice blocks used earlier for preserving fish were used for making juice.“The fridges and freezers were found to be unclean. The fruits which were many days old had fungus on them. At the hotel, we found rats running around in the kitchen. Also, it did not have proper arrangements for waste disposal,” said an official.

On Saturday evening, an illegal slaughter house in Kunchalumoodu was raided and locked down following reports of veal beef being sold off as mutton. 

Food fraud: Ireland to crackdown on fake honey, fish scams

Fake honey and fish are set to come under the microscope as health authorities across Europe crack down on organized food fraud.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is also carrying out a fresh round of DNA tests on beef as part of an EU-wide follow-up to last year’s horsemeat scandal.

the_godfather_luca_brasi_sleeps_with_the_fishes-tAnd FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly told the Irish Independent that honey and fish would also be systematically surveyed in Ireland as part of new EU Food Fraud network attempts to tackle widespread organized crime in the European food chain.

Prof Reilly said food fraud was a huge issue as there was so much money to be made and so many ways to hoodwink consumers.

“There are endless possibilities for fraud and the way to tackle that is to combine intelligence with our European partners in this Food Fraud Network.”

30 sick; touch but don’t eat this NYC fish; what about cross-contamination?

Workers and customers who handle live or raw fish or seafood from Chinatown markets in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan could be exposed to a bacteria that causes swelling and bumps on their hands and arms.

But the fish is safe to eat, officials added.

The department said it has identified an outbreak of a rare infection that enters the skin fish20market-jj-001through a cut or other injury.

Customers and workers are encouraged to wear gloves while preparing the fish, especially people with cuts or abrasions.

The bacteria causing the infection is called Mycobacterium marinum and can be treated with antibiotics. If the infection isn’t treated correctly, it can worsen over weeks and require surgery.

Thirty cases have already been identified, said Health Department spokesman Levi Fishman.

He said the fish affected come from markets in Chinatown in Manhattan, Flushing in Queens and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

Fishmongers in Manhattan’s Chinatown said they are usually careful about how they handle their products, but they also are now telling customers to keep their hands off.

“When we clean the fish, we wear rubber gloves and we use plastic bags to take up the fish,” said Asta Mak, 26 who works in The Haisein Co. fish shop on Grand Street. “We don’t touch with our hands. We don’t let the customers touch the fish. They point at what they want and we take it up for them.”

Jacque Even, 40, a chef from the Lower East Side, cooks fish at work and buys it twice a week to make at home. He usually touches the fish before making his purchase.

“I check it out before I buy,” Even said. “I touch it to feel the quality and make sure it is clean. I open the gill to see if it’s fresh. I’m going to have to stop doing that and point at what I want.”