71 now sick from Salmonella in Sweden linked to tomatoes

Outbreak News Today reports Swedish health authorities, or Folkhalsomyndigheten are reporting 17 additional Salmonella Typhimurium cases in the current outbreak, bringing the total outbreak cases to 71 since August.

The Swedish National Food Agency and the Public Health Agency continue to investigate the outbreak to identify the source of the infection. The investigation shows that small tomatoes are the likely source of the outbreak. The tomatoes are no longer left in grocery stores, the outbreak has subsided and the risk of being infected is very small.

Uh-huh.

Wish I’d had a Halloween like this: Pennsylvania police urge parents to check for THC-laced Nerds Rope edibles

Danielle Garrand of CBS reports that parents have been encouraged to check their children’s Halloween candy for years to ensure the tasty treats are safe for kids to eat. This spooky season, Pennsylvania police are urging caregivers to be on the lookout once again — for drug-laced edibles.

The Johnstown Police Department issued a warning on their Facebook page Thursday morning after authorities said they discovered “Nerds Rope edibles containing 400mg of THC” while fulfilling a search warrant in Stoneycreek Township. The department also recently seized 60 pounds of marijuana from the area, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

“During this Halloween, we urge parents to be ever vigilant in checking their children’s candy before allowing them to consume those treats,” wrote the department. “Drug laced edibles are package like regular candy and may be hard to distinguish from the real candy.”

The authorities included photos of the edibles labeled as “Nerds Rope” with warning labels dubbing the items “for medical use only.” The label also urged those who may use the product to “keep out of reach of children and animals.”

The candy manufacturer that produces Nerds, Ferrara Candy Company, issued a statement saying it is “working with the relevant authorities.”

Food porn dangers: Liquid nitrogen shouldn’t be in drinking water

Shortly after dinosaurs roamed the earth, I worked in a lab and we used a lot of liquid nitrogen to preserve the now dead plant tissues and their more interesting cells and components before we began our devious extractions.

That was the mid-1980s (we also used a lot of radioactive P-32 to mark DNA; prehistoric times).

Now food porn chefs use liquid nitrogen like a dipping area.

Maxine Shen of the Daily Mail reportsFlorida woman is suing a hotel after she drank liquid nitrogen a waiter poured into her water glass, resulting in her needing to have her gallbladder and part of her stomach removed.  

Except, wouldn’t it immediately freeze the water?

Stacey Wagers, 45, and a friend were celebrating her birthday with a dinner at Don Cesar Hotel’s Maritana Grille restaurant in St. Pete Beach in November 18 when she said she needed to be rushed to hospital after the incident. 

Wagers told NBC News that she and her friend had just finished eating when they saw a waiter pouring a liquid over a dessert that made it ‘smoke’ at a table nearby. 

Wagers said that her friend told the waiter that the smokey effect looked cool, so he poured what turned out to be liquid nitrogen – a freezing agent – into the women’s water glasses. 

‘Of course I didn’t think it was dangerous at all,’ Wagers said, noting that the waiter ‘had just poured it on a dessert’.

When Wagers and her friend drank their liquid nitrogen-laced water, Wagers said she immediately fell sick. 

‘There was an explosion in my chest,’ Wagers said, adding that it felt like she was dying and that she was unable to speak. 

Wagers was then rushed to the hospital, where she had surgery to remove her gallbladder, as well as portions of her stomach which had been burned by the liquid nitrogen. She also had to stay in the ICU for several days. 

In August 2018, the FDA issued an alert warning customers and retailers ‘of the potential for serious injury from eating, drinking, or handling food products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen at the point of sale, immediately before consumption’.

‘Liquid nitrogen, although non-toxic, can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidentally ingested due to the extremely low temperatures it can maintain,’ the FDA added.  

Wagers’ lawsuit stated that she is suing both the hotel and the food and beverage director of more than $15,000 each and is seeking a jury trial.

Listeria kills three in two years, source traced to Dutch cold meat factory

Three people have died and one woman has had a miscarriage after eating cold meat contaminated with listeria, the public health institute RIVM said last Friday.

top view of round slices of smoked pork loin ham in transparent plastic tray packaging isolated on white background

Dutch News reports all are thought to have become ill after eating meat products from the Offerman company over the past two years, the agency said. In total, at least 20 people have become ill after eating Offerman cold cuts. The company issued a health warning last Friday and Jumbo, which stocks 135 different products from Offerman, ordered an immediate recall. Aldi too has recalled its Offerman products, which were also widely sold to company canteens.

The source of the infection was traced by the RIVM and product safety board NVWA after an analysis of the different types of listeria infection this week. ‘It has only been recently possible to use this technique and without it, we would not have been able to identify the source,’ the RIVM said.

The factory where the bacteria originates is located in Aalsmeer and has been closed pending a thorough clean-up, the AD reported last Friday afternoon. According to broadcaster NOS the NVWA had ordered Offerman to take extra hygiene measures because there were suspicions that something was going wrong. ‘But this would appear not to have done the job,’ a NVWA spokesman told the broadcaster.

Listeria is particularly dangerous to the elderly and pregnant women and can cause miscarriages. Every year about 80 cases of listeria are reported to the RIVM.

24 now sick from shiga-toxin producing E. coli in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial health department is advising residents of an outbreak of E. coli bacteria.

There have been 22 cases of E.coli confirmed in the province, according to an advisory issued last Friday afternoon.

Another two suspected cases have since emerged.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said some of the cases are connected to an advisory issued by Memorial University last week, saying Eastern Health was investigating reports of students experiencing gastrointestinal illness.

The university said Wednesday that test results indicated one student living in residence “may have contracted the E. coli bacteria” and 21 students had reported similar symptoms.

Fitzgerald said it’s too early in the investigation to determine a cause of the outbreak.

Raw is risky: Eating raw pig liver from Singapore market may increase risk of hepatitis E

Danielle Ann of Alvinology reports researchers at the Singapore General Hospital have found definite similarities between the virus strains of Hepatitis E virus or (HEV) in pig liver and human liver.

This means that ingesting raw pork liver could mean you’re ingesting a strain of HEV that’s similar enough to human HEV that it could cause you get infected.

The same report said that people who have contracted HEV has risen steadily over the years. While the researchers could not say if the ingestion of raw pig liver is the main cause of the rise in cases, many local dishes feature this ingredient and do not cook the meat thoroughly.

The same report said that you can acquire the disease from eating contaminated food or substances. Ingesting water that is laced with the disease or accidentally drinking water that has trace amounts of faeces. Eating raw or half-cooked meat that is infected can also transmit the virus to you.

Everyone’s got a camera: Netherlands café edition

Janene Pieters of the NL Times reports a video of a mouse munching on a crepe in an Amsterdam cafe, resulted in the business being ordered closed by the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA. The video was posted on Twitter on Wednesday. NVWA inspectors went to inspect the cafe and found more vermin. Which is why the cafe was ordered closed, RTL Nieuws reports.

“The business can only be reopened if the entrepreneur has thoroughly cleaned everything up and has taken measures to prevent vermin”, the NVWA said. All food supplies currently in the store must also be discarded. The situation in the cafe was unsafe and a public health hazard, an NVWA spokesperson said to the broadcaster.

The NVWA is pleased that consumers report when they see vermin in shops or catering establishments. “With or without a video we take these kinds of complaints seriously. Mice are a direct threat to food safety.”

What foods are most likely to cause illness by shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and how best to control secondary infections

Two abstracts attempt to provide guidance to these important questions to reduce the toll of STEC.

FAO and WHO conclude shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections are a substantial public health issue worldwide, causing more than 1 million illnesses, 128 deaths and nearly 13 000 Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) annually.

To appropriately target interventions to prevent STEC infections transmitted through food, it is important to determine the specific types of foods leading to these illnesses.

An analysis of data from STEC foodborne outbreak investigations reported globally, and a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies of sporadic STEC infections published for all dates and locations, were conducted. A total of 957 STEC outbreaks from 27 different countries were included in the analysis.

Overall, outbreak data identified that 16% (95% UI, 2-17%) of outbreaks were attributed to beef, 15% (95% UI, 2-15%) to produce (fruits and vegetables) and 6% (95% UI, 1-6%) to dairy products. The food sources involved in 57% of all outbreaks could not be identified. The attribution proportions were calculated by WHO region and the attribution of specific food commodities varied between geographic regions.

In the European and American sub-regions of the WHO, the primary sources of outbreaks were beef and produce (fruits and vegetables). In contrast, produce (fruits and vegetables) and dairy were identified as the primary sources of STEC outbreaks in the WHO Western Pacific sub-region.

The systematic search of the literature identified useable data from 21 publications of case-control studies of sporadic STEC infections. The results of the meta-analysis identified, overall, beef and meat-unspecified as significant risk factors for STEC infection. Geographic region contributed to significant sources of heterogeneity. Generally, empirical data were particularly sparse for certain regions.

Care must be taken in extrapolating data from these regions to other regions for which there are no data. Nevertheless, results from both approaches are complementary, and support the conclusion of beef products being an important source of STEC infections. Prioritizing interventions for control on beef supply chains may provide the largest return on investment when implementing strategies for STEC control.

Second up, in 2016, we reviewed preventive control measures for secondary transmission of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in humans in European Union (EU)/European Free Trade Association (EEA) countries to inform the revision of the respective Norwegian guidelines which at that time did not accommodate for the varying pathogenic potential of STEC.

We interviewed public health experts from EU/EEA institutes, using a semi-structured questionnaire. We revised the Norwegian guidelines using a risk-based approach informed by the new scientific evidence on risk factors for HUS and the survey results.

All 13 (42%) participating countries tested STEC for Shiga toxin (stx) 1, stx2 and eae (encoding intimin). Five countries differentiated their control measures based on clinical and/or microbiological case characteristics, but only Denmark based their measures on routinely conducted stx subtyping. In all countries, but Norway, clearance was obtained with ⩽3 negative STEC specimens. After this review, Norway revised the STEC guidelines and recommended only follow-up of cases infected with high-virulent STEC (determined by microbiological and clinical information); clearance is obtained with three negative specimens.

Implementation of the revised Norwegian guidelines will lead to a decrease of STEC cases needing follow-up and clearance, and will reduce the burden of unnecessary public health measures and the socioeconomic impact on cases. This review of guidelines could assist other countries in adapting their STEC control measures.

Mapping of control measures to prevent secondary transmission of STEC infections in Europe during 2016 and revision of the national guidelines in Norway

Cambridge University Press vol. 147

  1. Veneti(a1)(a2)H. Lange (a1)L. Brandal (a1)K. Danis (a2) (a3) and L. Vold 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268819001614
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/mapping-of-control-measures-to-prevent-secondary-transmission-of-stec-infections-in-europe-during-2016-and-revision-of-the-national-guidelines-in-norway/1990D2338B220F80F0E683DF6F622A40

British girl, 2, dies from E. coli after holiday in Turkey

A two-year-old British girl has died after contracting E.coli while on holiday in Turkey.

Allie Birchall came down with the severe illness after returning to the UK following a stay at a luxury resort east of the coastal city of Antayla.

Her family were forced to turn off Allie’s life support machine just two weeks after their holiday because of complications caused by the illness.

The family had travelled to Turkey with tour operator Jet2 Holidays on 12 July and said they had concerns about the hygeine of the Turkish resort.

Katie Dawson, Allie’s mother, said her daughter did not start getting ill until five days after getting back to their home in Atherton, Greater Manchester.

According to Ms Dawson, Allie began suffering with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and lethargy before being admitted to Royal Bolton Hospital on July 30.

The hospital confirmed Allie had contracted Shiga-Toxin producing E.Coli (STEC), which later led to her developing deadly Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) – a life-threatening complication related to the poisoning.

Allie was moved to the Manchester Royal Infirmary and put in an induced coma on August 1.

An MRI scan was carried out, which revealed that she had sustained severe brain trauma and damage. Katie had to make the difficult decision to terminate Allie’s life support following the advice from doctors.

“While nothing will bring her back, we need to know what caused her illness and if anything could have been done to prevent it.

The family have now instructed specialist international serious injury lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, to investigate what happened.

Public Health England is also currently investigating the matter, and an inquest has been opened to examine the circumstances surrounding Allie’s death.

Norovirus most common foodborne pathogen in 2017

This is the CIDRAP summary of the latest CDC number crunching on microorganisms that lead to barfing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late last week released a summary of foodborne illnesses in 2017 based on an annual analysis of data from the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, and norovirus was the most common pathogen reported, responsible for 46% of illnesses. Salmonella and Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli were also linked to a substantial number of outbreaks.  

In 2017, the CDC tracked 841 foodborne outbreaks, which included 14,481 illnesses, 827 hospitalizations, 20 deaths, and 14 food product recalls. A single etiologic agent was confirmed in 395 outbreaks (47%), which are defined as two or more related cases.

Tainted seafood and poultry were tied with causing the most outbreaks, with mollusks (41 outbreaks), fish (37), and chicken (23) the specific food items most often implicated. The most outbreak-associated illnesses were from turkey (609 illnesses), fruits (521), and chicken (487), the CDC said.

California had the most outbreaks (107), followed by Ohio (69), and Washington state (67). 

As in past years, restaurants with sit-down dining were the most commonly reported locations for food preparation associated with outbreaks (366).

The complete report is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/fdoss/pdf/2017_FoodBorneOutbreaks_508.pdf

And here: