Raw is still risky: Say no to raw dough

My mother used to make and lot of cakes and brownies with her groovy 1960s hand mixer and I always got to lick the beaters.

No more.

And it’s not just the raw eggs, it’s the raw flour.

In June, 2009, an outbreak of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC, primarily O157:H7) in Nestle Toll House cookie dough sickened at least 77 people in 30 American states. Thirty-five people were hospitalized – from cookie dough.

The researchers could not conclusively implicate flour as the E. coli source, but it remains the prime suspect. They pointed out that a single purchase of contaminated flour might have been used to manufacture multiple lots and varieties of dough over a period of time as suggested by the use-by dates on the contaminated product.

The study authors concluded that “foods containing raw flour should be considered as possible vehicles of infection of future outbreaks of STEC.”

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when 63 people fell sick from the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 from Dec. 2015 to Sept. 2016 linked to raw General Mills flour.

There have been about a dozen other flour-related outbreaks. STEC means people – and kids – get quite sick.

Flour is a raw commodity, crops the flour is derived from could be exposed to anything, and testing is so much better than it used to be.

There are some brands of pasteurized flour out there, but people seem to have gotten used to flour as a cheap source of play-dough-like stuff for kids and something to throw at people.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control says, nope.

This is not a Christmas conspiracy (although I prefer Solstice Season): it’s CDC providing information, like they are supposed to.

People can, and will, do what they want.

As Maggie Fox of NBC reports, “Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments,” the CDC advises.

“Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.”

Handling food, including flour, requires care and hygiene.

“Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily,” the CDC notes. “Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked. Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough.”

As a comedian in all seriousness: What happens when B. cereus invades human cells

Tegan Taylor of ABC asks, what’s happening inside your body when you have food poisoning?

Research published today has given us a slightly clearer idea, at least for one type of bacteria.

A team from the Australian National University looked at the way the body responds to the bacteria Bacillus cereus, which can cause food poisoning and sometimes lead to serious infections elsewhere in the body, including sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.

They found a toxin secreted by the bacteria binds directly to cells in the human body and punches holes in the cells to kill them, triggering an immune response.

Understanding the way toxins produced by this bacteria provoke inflammation in the body is a key to understanding how to treat it, said lead researcher Anukriti Mathur.

“Our immune system acts as a double-edged sword in these kinds of cases,” Ms Mathur said.

“In certain cases where you’ve got a bacterial infection it would be really essential to boost our immune system so that it is stronger.

“However in cases such as sepsis, where you’ve got unwanted inflammation happening in your body, you want to dampen the inflammatory responses.

“A very unique balance is required in protecting us against different kinds of infections.”

But what is it about this bacteria punching holes in your cells that leaves you hunched over a toilet bowl?

It has to do with the parts of your nervous system being targeted by the toxins produced by the bacteria, according to Vincent Ho, a University of Western Sydney gastroenterologist and researcher who was not involved in the study.

Bacillus cereus produces more than 12 different toxins. One triggers vomiting and another diarrhea, Dr Ho explained.

The vomit-inducing toxin, called cereulide, binds to serotonin receptors in the stomach and small bowel and stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls muscle movement in the gut.

“That signals back up to the vomiting centres of the brain,” he said.

“And in a very similar way that is how the diarrheal form also works too. It’s causing direct stimulation of the small bowel, and that’s triggering a reactive response of reflex mechanism called the gastro-colic reflex.

“The toxins are stimulating against receptors in the gut lining … triggering a lot more movement of the muscle in the gut and the colon.”

Bacillus cereus can be found in vegetables, rice and pasta, as well as meat and fish, and will grow in these foods if they are stored at the wrong temperature.

Raw is risky: 83 now sick with Salmonella from raw milk cheese in France

The number of people sick from Salmonella in reblochons, a type of raw milk cheese specific to the Savoy region of the Alps in France, has risen from 14 to 83.

Public Health France first withdrew the reblochons on Nov. 24, 2018.

Of the 83 people identified so far, 65 were able to be interviewed by the ARS Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Public Health France about their symptoms and their food consumption before the onset of symptoms. Symptoms range from 16/09 to 19/11, with a peak in week 40 (from 1st to 07/10/2018). Fifteen people were hospitalized for their salmonellosis: they are now out and are well; no deaths have been reported. Consumption of reblochon with raw milk before the onset of symptoms is reported by 80% of the cases confirmed by the CNR and interviewed.

Make it mandatory: More evidence that restaurant inspection disclosure matters

This work describes the relationship between compliance with food hygiene law as reflected in food hygiene scores; measures of microbiological contamination of food samples taken from consumer-facing food businesses in England, Northern Ireland and Wales; and outbreaks of foodborne illness.

This paper demonstrates an association between the results of food hygiene inspections done by trained inspectors, using a rigorous and consistent procedure, with microbiological contamination of actual food samples from those premises. A proposed theoretical model further demonstrates the reduction in foodborne illness that would result if there were increased compliance with food hygiene law.

As clean as they look? Food hygiene inspection scores, microbiological contamination, and foodborne illness

Fleetwood, Janet, Shamim Rahman, Darren Holland, David Millson, Laura, Thomson, Guy Poppy. 2019.

Food Control. 96: 76-86

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.08.034

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713518304432

Shiga-toxin E. coli at UK nursery sparks NHS probe

PA reveals a Perthshire school was involved in an E.coli scare last week.

NHS Tayside launched an investigation after a suspected case of the bacteria in a child at Errol Primary School’s nursery.

The nursery will undergo three days of deep cleaning as a “precautionary measure”.

Parents at the school were issued with letters from the health board with information on the infection.

The child was being tested for a non-O157 strain.

Speaking on Friday a spokesperson at NHS Tayside confirmed: “NHS Tayside’s health protection team is aware of and currently investigating a single suspected case of E. coli non O157 infection in a child who attends a nursery in Perthshire.

“As a precaution, a letter has been issued to parents of children at the nursery for information and reassurance.

“The risk to the wider public is very low.”

UK father paralysed after food poisoning issues safety warning to others

ITV news reports a father who became paralysed after contracting a rare illness from food poisoning has issued a warning to others about food safety.

Dai Braham, 40, was left paralysed from the nose down after becoming unwell while watching his six-year-old son play rugby in April.

Within a matter of days, he was in an induced coma.

Father-of-two Dai was a keen bodybuilder and fitness fanatic

It was only later that medical staff discovered the fitness fanatic from Bridgend had been suffering from food poisoning campylobacter – which led to the rare autoimmune disorder Guillian-Barré Syndrome.

At his worst point, he found himself unable to breathe without a ventilator and without a voice.

“It’s the scariest thing in the world. You are basically locked in your own body”, Dai said.

“Your mind is fine and you know what you want your body to do but you just can’t do it.

“It was horrible, I couldn’t communicate with anyone. I could blink to say yes or no or use a letter card. Then I would use words on a board to spell out certain words.”

Dai has spent the last eight months in hospital and has only recently learned to walk again.

What is Guillain-Barré syndrome?

It is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system, and can be triggered by infections including food poisoning and the flu as well as by vaccinations, surgery or injury.

Symptoms of the condition include numbness, pins and needles, muscle weakness, and problems with balance and co-ordination.

Food Safety Confessional: Connie still thaws meat in the sink (so do I)

Connie, someone I’ve never met but she’s a food safety professional from Guelph (that’s in Ontario, Canada, and it’s a small community) writes:

I’ve been a food safety professional for going on 20 years, I still thaw meat in the sink (sometimes in hot water if I’m really rushed) and in my house, we wash hands after we eat.

I’m a firm advocate of not killing our immune systems by trying to sterilize our homes; according to my research, the illness and deaths that occur now are more frequent, widespread and worse in the effects than ever in the past (Peanut Corporation of America excluded for obvious reasons).

 I don’t take any chances at work, I never would, but at home, sigh, we’re all still alive.

 If you’re ever looking for inspiration for a blog post look no further than the website IFSQN. It’s a great forum for discussion and assistance from experienced FSP but wow, there are some things posted that are positively frightening.

 I am currently advocating with the Canadian government to:
• change our national job description so people realize we are gd professionals and not place holders; and,

• institute a national standard for both auditors and CB (CFIA has accreditation standards, but I don’t think anyone is checking in on auditors).

 I personally believe that GFSI is the downfall of safe food, with people focused on being audit-ready and not on producing safe food.

‘Something is going on’ Salmonella Typhimurium infections in France jump from 50 to 2500 per year in a decade

(As usual, something may be lost in translation)

Salmonella contamination, found in cold cuts, mainly pork, exploded in 10 years in France, because of the progression of a new strain, called “monophasic typhimurium variant”.

(I particularly like the graphic, right, of the pregnant woman, with five bottles of wine in the fridge and a couple of beers).

On October 30th, lots of dry sausages contaminated with this salmonella were removed from supermarket shelves. Withdrawals and recalls have already taken place in the spring, on sausages that had sickened a dozen young children in the south of France. Dry sausages were also concerned.

Dr. François-Xavier Weill, director of the national center of reference for Salmonella, at the Institut Pasteur, at the origin of this discovery with his teams . It is here, in Paris, that the bacteria are identified, after analysis of the samples sent by the analysis laboratories. This is how the rise in food infections has been spotted.

“While it was detected that about 50 in 2007, we are at 2500 per year now,” says François-Xavier Weill. As a result, this bacterium, which causes gastroenteritis and fever, which can reach sepsis in the most fragile, has risen to the third position of salmonella, which gives the most poisoning. “We sounded the alarm, we said we’re paying attention, something is happening”. 

“Manufacturers must continue their work to limit the risks of the farm to the fork, explains Nathalie Jourdan-da Silva, doctor epidemiologist at Public Health France, agency that gave the alert in 2012 in one of its publications. But there is no risk zero, especially since this salmonella, identified in the swine industry, has since expanded to the beef sector. 

And the father of Amy’s French family was in Paris the other day, and he looked up and saw Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones, so this song is in honor of the time the Stones moved to southern France as tax exiles from the UK and recorded Exile on Main Street.

Surveys still suck: How likely would you go back to a restaurant involved in a foodborne illness outbreak

This study reports an investigation of the determinants of the likelihood consumers will revisit a restaurant that has had a foodborne illness outbreak, including the moderating effects of restaurant type and consumer dining frequency.

A scenario-based survey was distributed via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to collect data from 1,034 respondents; the tally of valid responses was 1,025. Partial least squares-based structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) showed perceived vulnerability and perceived severity to be statistically significant; both also negatively affected customer intentions to patronize restaurants cited for serving foods that caused foodborne illness outbreaks.

Results suggest that type of restaurant is a significant moderator between perceived severity and customer intentions. The type of diner, however, based on frequency, does not moderate the relationships between perceived severity and perceived vulnerability and customer intentions to patronize restaurants that served food causing a foodborne illness outbreak (FBI).

Using protection motivation theory (PMT) (Rogers, 1975), this study’s findings contribute to understanding determinants and moderators of customer intentions to revisit restaurants after a foodborne illness outbreak.

Consumers’ return intentions towards a restaurant with foodborne illness outbreaks: Differences across restaurant type and consumers’ dining frequency

Food Control

Faizan Ali, Kimberly J. Harris, Kisang Ryu

DOI : 10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.12.001

http://m.x-mol.com/paper/921130

Food Safety Confessional: Sheila says she is horrible

Sheila is a former MSc student with me at Kansas State University and a tough military chick. We hardly ever saw each other, because phones and the Internet sometimes work (despite administratium claims to the contrary), but she has kept up the food safety conversation. I was privileged to work with her and a whole bunch of other military food safety folks over the years.

Sheila writes:

I am a horrible food safety professional.  

Not at work. At work I’m a straight-laced, all business, don’t-you-dare-break-the-rules-or-I’ll-kick-you-in-the-nuts kinda girl.  My problem is outside of work.  When I’m off the clock I turn into Andrew Zimmern’s sister by another mister.  I like to eat weird stuff.  

I spent 15 years with the U.S. Army as a Food Safety Specialist and got to travel all over the world.  While others in the group were sticking to main stream chow hall fare and MREs, which has its own dangers, I was happy to find some random vendor selling mystery meat on a stick by the side of the road.  It might have been dog, or monkey, or bat, or rat.  I really have no idea, but it sure tasted good.  Boiled chicken heads?  Roasted sparrows?  Camel on a spit?  Beaver tater tot hotdish?  A whole sheep buried in the desert sand for 2 days?  Hell yeah, bring it on!  From Africa, Australia, Central America, the South Pacific, the Arctic, the Middle East and the Far East, it didn’t matter where I was I had to try the odd local fare.  Still do when I travel.  Real haggis is amazing.

Back at home, cooking for myself or eating out, I am also bad.  When cooking for others all safety precautions are followed, thermometers, separate cutting boards and utensils for different food types, obsessive hand washing, but I make all kinds of exceptions when food is just for me.  E. coli and Salmonella be damned.  My eggs need to be over medium. Scrambled eggs are gross.  I eat raw, homemade cookie dough.  I love homemade eggnog.  Don’t give me that store bought boxed crap that tastes like nutmeg infused cardboard.  Now if I could find pasteurized eggs in the shell, I’d use them, but out in the Minnesota tundra they just aren’t available.  I like my steak on the rare side of medium rare, even if it is needle tenderized.  Hamburgers done medium.  Sushi is a favorite food and I go for raw and roe.  Raw oysters are a heavenly treat.   

But here’s the deal.  I know the potential consequences of eating all of these risky foods.  I am generally healthy, aside from the arthritis and anger issues the Army so generously gave me.  I realize healthy people still get food poisoning, but I am willing to occasionally take that risk to enjoy certain foods.  I would never force anyone else to do what I do and I often tell people not to do it and why. 

Do as I say, not as I do. 

And even I have limits.  Chicken must be cooked to 165F.  I don’t drink raw milk.  I rant about the raw pet food trend.  And I avoid potlucks like the plague.  I’m sure it all tastes great, but I just can’t do it.  I don’t trust what most people do in their kitchens unless I’m there to see it.  If invited to a party that’s potluck and I can’t get out of it, I bring potato chips and eat before I get there.  Weird right?  

Oh, and I have 12 beautiful pet snakes of varying sizes and species, but that’s another story.