E. coli O157 in pork? Food safety officials pull more pork from stores as investigation expands

Raw pork from two more city retailers is being pulled from store shelves as food safety officials continue investigating where tainted meat that sickened scores of Albertans was shipped to and sold around the province.

hi-nb-e-coli-fredericton-8colThe Canadian Food Inspection Agency said pork sold at Trimming Fresh Meats Ltd. in the third week of July and Hiep Hoa Asian Food in the last half of July and a few days the middle of August may be contaminated with potentially-fatal bacteria.

At least one person is reported to have fallen sick after eating meat from the pair of outlets that were supplied with product from V&T Meat Wholesale.

All the pork produced by V&T since mid-July was recalled last week after investigators found meat at the 17th Ave SE facility was tainted with E. coli O157:H7.

Frozen spring rolls, pork buns and wontons made and sold at Vinh Fat Food Products in Edmonton have also been implicated in the expanding recall.

Testing has found that at least 100 people have fallen ill from bacteria with the identical genetic fingerprint after eating pork from V&T or Edmonton’s Hiep Thanh Trading that was mostly served up at Asian eateries.

At least 19 of those victims were sick enough to require hospitalization and five have been left with chronic kidney disease due to their infection.

While the list of implicated end products grows, CFIA officials did not reply Monday to Herald questions about whether a pair of small meat distributors in two different cities that appear to have shipped meat tainted with identical bacteria received shipments from the same abattoir or slaughter facility.

When clusters of Albertans began falling sick in late July after eating at different Asian restaurants in the province’s two largest cities, investigators were certain a common ingredient used at all the establishments was to blame.

But Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer, said officials didn’t begin to focus on pork as the potential culprit until nearly a month later, after beef, bean sprouts and green onions had been eliminated from the list of suspects.

While investigators took a while to identify the source of the illnesses, a 2011 study by provincial government scientists of products produced at Alberta abattoirs and slaughter houses found that pork was nearly as likely to be tainted with the types of E.coli that make people sick as beef.

“We determined that 5.4 per cent of beef and 4.8 per cent of pork samples were positive for Shiga-toxin producing E.coli,” the study said.

Filbert: E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to in-shell hazelnuts

This just in: a multi-state investigation has linked E. coli O157:H7 cases to eating in-shell hazelnuts, also known as filberts.

Someone will probably blame consumers.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) are working with counterparts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and federal agencies to investigate cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with eating in-shell hazelnuts (also known as filberts) purchased from bulk bins at retail food stores. Three cases have been identified in Minnesota, three in Wisconsin, and one in Michigan.

In Minnesota, all three cases were male and over 50 years of age. Cases were residents of Hennepin, Redwood, and Stearns counties. Two were hospitalized. All have recovered.

Routine monitoring by the health departments in the respective states identified E. coli O157:H7 cases with the same DNA fingerprint. The individuals became ill between December 20, 2010, and January 28, 2011. All of the cases have reported eating in-shell hazelnuts from grocery stores. Of these, six purchased them from bulk bins at these stores and the other case reported purchasing similar product in a repacked form. Four of the cases reported purchasing the hazelnuts as part of mixed nuts.

Agriculture agencies in the three states and the California Department of Public Health traced hazelnuts consumed by cases to a common distributor in California, DeFranco and Sons. This firm has recalled all hazelnut and mixed nut products distributed from November 2, 2010, to December 22, 2010. Recalled product was shipped to stores in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

State and federal officials urge consumers not to eat any in-shell hazelnuts included in this recall. To identify whether hazelnuts that have been purchased are part of the recall, consumers in the states listed above are advised to go to the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us to access a list of stores that sold bulk affected in-shell hazelnuts, either alone or as part of a mixed nut product. Also included in the recall are Sunripe Hazelnuts, Sunripe Large Hazelnuts in 1-pound packages, and Sunripe Mixed Nuts in 2-pound. and 4-pound packages, all with a “Sell-By” date of 6/30/2011. Recalled products would have been purchased after November 2, 2010. Consumers with recalled hazelnuts still in their possession should discard them or return them to the store from which they were purchased. Out-of-shell hazelnuts and products containing hazelnuts as an ingredient have not been linked to any illnesses and are not affected by the recall.

Sentencing next for fish bar operator who sickened 5 with E. coli

A U.K. court was told yesterday that Wrexham librarian Karen Morrisroe (right, exactly as shown) spent three months in hospital – where she also picked up the hospital superbug, MRSA – and had been psychologically damaged as a result of E. coli O157 after eating a veggie burger and chips from the Llay Fish Bar in 2009.

Anthony Vines, prosecuting, told the court there were five primary cases of E. coli which could be linked to the takeaway, although there were secondary infections.

Council officers found pizza toppings at the takeaway covered in flies, a lack of handwashing materials and clothes in handbasins which were also put over frozen doner kebabs, and inadequate training.

Karen Morrisroe said her illness had resulted in “unbearable stomach pains,” being severely dehydrated, suffering kidney failure and a small seizure. Other victims included an 11-month-old baby, two three-year-old girls and a five-year-old child.?

??Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said he would sentence Ramazan Aslan, former operator of the Llay Fish Bar, next week after reading all background reports. But in granting him bail, he told him that he should not interpret that as meaning there would not be a prison sentence.

Salmonella-in-sprouts sick climbs to 125, water sample positive

As soon as Tiny Greens of Illinois was fingered as the source of the suspect sprouts in a salmonella outbreak largely linked to Jimmy John’s sandwiches, an astute public health-type e-mailed me and said, “check out their water supply.”

I’m not sure what water is being used where and for what, but according to the Tiny Greens website, they recycle all water.

“At Tiny Greens, we have one of the only complete systems that we are aware of to clean, improve, and re-use our water. The natural biological processes that are continually present in the undisturbed eco-systems around us are utilized in a controlled environment to clean and re-cycle our water.”

Here’s what looks like the important point:

“Next, the middle layer of clarified wastewater liquid flows out of the septic tank into a sand filter. The sand filter uses outside air, thus further treating the water aerobically (using bacteria requiring oxygen). Sand filters provide a high level of treatment and normally produce effluent that tests 99.9% bacteria and virus-free. … Sand filters are the preferred treatment method at Tiny Greens and their nutrient-rich, disinfected water can be utilized as free fertilizing water for growing plants."

99.9 per cent may sound impressive, but may also mean crap (literally).

On Friday, CDC announced that from Nov. 1, 2010, through Jan. 11, 2011, 125 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:i:-, whose illnesses began since November 1, have been reported from 22 states and the District of Columbia. Results of the investigation indicate a link to eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets.

Testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of one environmental (water run-off) sample identified Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:i:- that is indistinguishable from the outbreak strain.

Tiny Greens’ owner Bill Bagby criticized testing by the FDA and the Illinois Department of Public Health as not being comprehensive enough.

“The [FDA statement] is misleading. That burns me up! … I learn something from every single inspector that comes here. Looking at all of this in a positive way, this is a chance for us to do something better.”

Food inspectors: do not grope owners

The Los Angeles Times reports a surveillance tape shows some curious embracing between an L.A. County health inspector and the owner of a Pomona doughnut shop.

The health inspector was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery, but this week, a judge declared a mistrial. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune: "Judge David Brougham said the trial could not continue after Deputy District Attorney Lauren Guber failed to give [the inspector’s] defense attorney an audio recording she made during interviews with the alleged victim and her husband."

 It takes about a minute for the groping to begin, but what’s with the repeats?

Driving in cars with girls and foodborne illness

I haven’t put on makeup, played video games or combed my hair while driving – because I never do any of those things – but I’ve done everything else in this pop survey released in May and discussed by my friend and his wife as they drove to Vermont and back.

According to the study:

• 72% eat food while driving.
• 35% have taken clothes off or put clothes on while driving.
• 29% have kissed others while driving and 15% have performed sexual acts while driving.
• 28% have sent text messages while driving.
• 23% say they’ve combed their hair while behind the wheel.
• 13% have put on makeup while driving.
• 12% have written or read e-mails while driving.
• 10% reported reading newspapers or magazines while driving.
• 5% confessed to having played video games.
• 5% say they have shaved while behind the wheel.

Yesterday the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported those who eat while driving could be at a greater risk of food poisoning.

Scientists testing swabs taken from a typical family car discovered Bacillus cereus and staphylococcus in the interior, including the steering wheel, gear stick and door handles.

Another pop science survey that is meaningless.

Dr Anthony Hilton, reader in microbiology at Aston University said,

“People would be horrified at the prospect of eating from a toilet seat however they ought to be aware that eating from a contaminated car dashboard may represent the same health hazards.”

Always a possibility. Another survey revealed 58 per cent of car owners had found food remains lying around the interior when cleaning out the car.

That doesn’t mean people eat it: hint, don’t eat the food lying around in a car.