1 dead, 2 sick in Florida after drinking contaminated hotel water

A Miami hotel has been evacuated after 1 guest died and 2 more fell ill from drinking contaminated water.

The hotel in question here is the Luxury Epic Hotel in downtown Miami, home to more than 300 guests at the time of the evacuation.

On Sunday, all guests were relocated to surrounding hotels, following the discovery of the cluster of cases of people falling ill.

It is yet to be confirmed that there was Legionella bacteria in water at the hotel, but health officials are confident that this indeed is the problem.

The fatality was reported in a man who stayed at the hotel 3 months ago, and was recently just learned of by health officials.

Horse meat increasingly on the menu in Florida

I still miss my hockey friend Steve. His tales were – and still are — so outrageous, his job with the provincial government so boring, and his life with four kids on the farm near Guelph so … comical?

I know he misses me because he can’t find reliable goaltending – and the faculty team hasn’t won the annual tournament since my shattered nerves backstopped the team to victory in 2005, despite Naylor’s total lack of defense.

He was defense in name only.

At one point Steve and his wife had 19 horses. He used to say that it started out, every time they had another kid, the wife got another horse.

Steve had four kids, not 19.

He’s been cutting back on the horses over the past few years, but not in the way they are doing it in Florida,

Today’s USA Today reports that South Florida is seeing a jump in the horse meat market as restaurants quietly serve up the illicit fare, butchers provide it to trustworthy customers and police officers find slaughtered horse carcasses on roadsides.

At least 17 butchered horse carcasses have been found in Miami-Dade County this year, the highest annual number ever recorded in the county and the year is not over, said Detective Edna Hernandez.

Richard "Kudo" Couto of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. – and I have no idea why his handle is Kudo — said there has long been an underground market for illicit horse meat, mostly in the rural areas of South Florida. In recent years, sales have become more widespread, he said.

He said some butchers in Miami have stolen frozen horse meat in their stores for trustworthy customers. Sometimes the meat is sold in neighborhoods out of coolers.

Nose stretcher alert: Whole Foods explains why it stopped selling raw milk in Florida

Whole Foods Market has terrible food safety advice, blames consumers for getting sick, sells raw milk in some stores, offers up fairytales about organic and natural foods, and their own CEO says they sell a bunch of junk.

Whole Foods in Florida has officially dropped raw milk from its shelves. Until Thursday, Whole Foods market sold raw milk with a pet food label. Human drinkers bought it for their personal consumption.

During an interview published yesterday by the Miami New Times, Russ Benblatt, Whole Foods regional marketing director for Florida, said,

“This was a decision that was made here at the regional level. I can’t get into too many details, but it was purely a business decision to stop selling the raw milk, and I can’t get into the specifics of it. … We made a decision to stop selling it as a pet food. We’ve never sold it for human consumption. … We’re a grocery store we try not to get involved in politics. … If we’re involved in politics then I’m not aware of it. We’re not involved in any lobbying or political action committees in the state of Florida.”

Just a grocery store. Uh-huh. There isn’t a foodie cause Whole Foods wouldn’t embrace to peddle a few more dollars worth of crap.

Not so sunny findings in the Sunshine State’s grocery stores

South Florida Sun-Sentinel analyzed hundreds of thousands of grocery store inspection reports between 2005 and 2008 and found a 22 per cent increase in food safety violations.

About one in five food retailers failed at least one inspection from 2005 through July 1 of this year, and some failed as many as nine, the reports showed.

Vermin infestations rose 35 percent, with more than one in four stores having signs of rodents or roaches last year…A growing number of markets were cited for the high-risk practices of letting foods get too warm or too cool, employees coming to work sick or not washing their hands, and raw animal products contaminating other food.

John Fruin, chief of grocery inspections at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, explained the increase on a change in inspection format.

"There has been a shift in our inspection philosophy. We’re looking harder for those things that are more apt to cause food-borne disease. And we’re finding more."

The story continues,

No one contends food stores are a major health risk. Cases of consumers getting sick from food sold in grocery stores are rare. The large majority of supermarkets, convenience stores, bakeries, seafood shops and other retailers regulated by the state scored the highest ranking of "good" or passed with "fair" ratings, the reports show.

How anyone can contend that consumers don’t get sick from grocery stores is beyond me. Most cases of foodborne illness go unreported, and if they are reported it may be difficult to track the source back to a food retailer. Whether the increase in food safety violations at grocery stores translates to an increase in foodborne illness cases? Maybe, maybe not. I’m more interested in whether consumers want grocery stores to publicly display inspection scores like food service operations in many districts.

Stick it in for safety

The first thing I bought when we arrived in Florida a couple of weeks ago was a meat thermometer: groceries, wine, toilet paper – and a digital, tip-sensitive meat thermometer.

Can’t cook burgers without them.

Yesterday I ventured from our Venice Beach hideaway to the University of Florida in Gainesville to hang out with my friend Michael Batz and deliver a seminar at the Emerging Pathogens Institute about food safety culture stuf.

Michael and I went to lunch at some Spanish/Cuban place that seemed quite friendly, so, being the nerd I am, I ordered a hamburger.

The server asked me how I would like it, and I asked, what are my options?

She said however I wanted it (that’s really what she said).

I said, 160 F.

She said, we don’t do that.

I said, well-done.

Stick it in.

Awful-tasting Pepsi may have mouse inside

When her husband dumped out a can of Diet Pepsi that "tasted awful," Amy Denegri saw what looked like pink spaghetti spill out.

"We’re not sure what it is…It’s really sick," Amy said, though she suspects it may be a mouse.

According to WFTV Orlando, lab results from an FDA investigation of the incident will be available in one to two weeks.

When Pepsi learned of the incident, a spokesperson contacted the Denegri’s. The can was traced to an Orlando bottling facility and a review of production logs showed "absolutely no evidence to suggest that any foreign object or substance entered the package at the time of production."

In addition, a statement was sent to WFTV Orlando, which reads in part:

"This is not the first time we have dealt with this type of claim. In every previous incident where lab testing has been conducted, the results have concluded that the specimen did not enter the package during production.

"That said, we treat all consumer claims very seriously and investigate them thoroughly. We have been in touch with the investigating authorities in this case. They are conducting laboratory tests to learn what may have happened here. We’ll assist them however we can."

The Denegri’s aren’t planning a lawsuit. In fact, Amy’s husband, Fred, is still drinking Pepsi. But he pours it into a cup first.

Eating beach sand can be messy – at both ends

When it gets hot in Kansas, we go to Florida.

We’re leaving in a week, with a little work along the way before we settle into our rental on sexy Venice Beach, Florida. It’s the antithesis of places like South Beach, Miami, where celebrities flock and appearances rule. Venice – founded as a retirement community by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in the 1920s – is about as quiet as it gets.

With good beaches.

This year we’ll have 7-month-old Sorenne, and she’s starting to crawl (see below). If she can do this on hardwood, sand will be a breeze.

So we have to aware of sand in the mouth.

Besides the yuck factor, researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that digging in sand on beaches near water with high levels of fecal bacteria could be a risk factor for developing the drips.

For the study, reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers got contact information for more than 25,000 people visiting seven beaches within seven miles of sewage treatment plants.

About 10 days later, the researchers called and asked how they had spent their day at the beach and whether they had experienced problems like vomiting or diarrhea since then.

Those who dug in the sand, the study found, were significantly more likely to report having been sick — with those who had allowed themselves to be buried in the sand most affected. Children seemed to be at extra risk.

The best advice: wash your damn hands, especially before eating.

This isn’t the first time sand has been implicated in human illness.

In May, 2008, children’s playgrounds on Sydney’s northern beaches were closed after a rare form of salmonella normally linked to tropical fish made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.

Doggie dining update: seems to work in Sarasota

Amy and I have developed a habit of going to the Sarasoto/Venice Beach area on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Especially in August.

It’s just too hot in Kansas.

We won’t be taking the dogs this year but we probably will in the future.

According to this update in the Herald Tribune, Florida authorized local governments to create doggie dining in 2006, and Sarasota and Manatee counties enacted ordinances in 2007.

Since then, the concept has taken off in Sarasota, where no major problems have been reported.

Sarasota has 14 eateries that have obtained a license to allow dogs to join their humans while eating at outdoor restaurant dining areas.

Some established restaurants, like Mattison’s City Grille in Sarasota, have set aside entire sections specifically for diners with dogs. …

Rules require hand sanitizer to be available for patrons, and restaurant staff are prohibited from touching the pets while working. Any "accidents" must be promptly cleaned up.

This seems entirely sensible, as long as the rules are followed and yahoos kept to a minimum

And I can’t decide whether it’s doggie dining or doggy dining.

Florida woman assaulted at church with cucumber

Cucumbers should be used as vegetables, or even conversation starters like in this scene from the movie, Animal House (right).

But a Lee County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office report says that during a food giveaway at the Lehigh Christian Church, a 33-year-old woman was struck with a cucumber by another woman after an argument over which free food belonged to which woman.

The church asked both women to leave.