Backyard chicks continue to sicken, in the U.S. and Australia

Queensland’s latest salmonella outbreak has caused officials to warn backyard chicken owners to practice biosecurity steps to ensure everyone’s safety in handling the animals. Since June 26, 17 cases of Salmonella typhimurium have been documented.

According to ABC News, 13 of the cases were aged 11 or younger. Additionally, five out of the 17 cases were admitted to the hospital. The recent outbreak has been associated with chicks from an unnamed supplier.

Backyard poultry can appear harmless, healthy, and clean but can carry Salmonella spp or Campylobacter spp. Moreover, chicken coops, habitats, and eggs could also become contaminated.

Zoonotic diseases that backyard poultry may transmit to humans include salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, and avian influenza viruses. Since the 1990s, epidemics of human Salmonella spp infections connected to contact with backyard chickens have been recorded in the United States.

In Victoria, nine cases of salmonella in two months were linked to the pet chicks and their eggs.

And in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control reported that as of June 23, 2020, there were 465 recent cases of Salmonella linked to backyard poultry, including one death, an increase of 368 ill people since the previous report on May 20, 2020.

CDC says always wash your hands and don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.

Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.

Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages and containers for feed or water.

Supervise kids around poultry.

Always supervise children around poultry and while they wash their hands afterward.

Children younger than 5 years of age shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella.

Handle eggs safely.

Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.

Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg though a cracked shell.

Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned carefully with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth.

Don’t wash warm, fresh eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.

Refrigerate eggs after collection to maintain freshness and slow germ growth.

Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or hotter. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.

Acid is still important

Simplot Australia Pty Ltd announced in June it is conducting a recall of Leggo’s Tuna Bake with Spinach & Garlic 500g.  The product has been available for sale at Coles, Woolworths, IGA and independent supermarkets in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and online.

Only products with Best Before 1 05 22 and with a specific batch code of 12164:

The recall is due to the incorrect pH level being detected in the sauce which has the potential for microbial growth.

Food products with the potential for microbial contamination and may cause illness if consumed.

Country of origin: Australia.

Tick the boxes is not enough: Leadership in food safety management in Australia

My friend Andrew Thomson writes in this piece for Hospital Health here in Australia:

COVID-19 has sharpened our focus on safety, with lockdown providing an opportunity to reflect on current approaches and where improvements to compliance policies and practices could be achieved.

Food safety management systems in Australia have largely not changed on the safety front. A one-size-fits-all approach to food safety management systems is widespread across the foodservice sector — a certain recipe for failure. All too familiar food safety problems persist at unacceptably high rates.

Leaders (at all levels) do not fully understand their food safety obligations — they are wanting a quick fix so they can tick the regulatory box.

Characteristically, a leader within an organisation will copy and paste another organisation’s food safety management system and make minimal changes; or they will download a template to assist them develop what they believe is a compliant system. This leader fills out a few text boxes here and there throughout the document, which is done in isolation of operational employee consultation and involvement. The newly created food safety management system completely lacks operational detail and bears no resemblance to site-specific operational and food law requirements.

Validating the system and developing robust verification mechanisms are poorly understood, and in many cases does not occur.

Production processes impacting on food safety are not fully understood by operational leaders and employees, or there is inconsistent understanding of the processes. If leaders and employees do not know how the food safety system works (or is supposed to work), how can they improve it?

There are significant shortcomings around resource allocation, including sub-par training — there is no genuine commitment to training, nor are there any accountability processes in place — this is just another example of ticking the box.

Food handling employees need to know:

what to do,

how to do it,

why it’s important, and

what corrective actions to take when required.

Corrective action is a critical food safety step that helps prevent a food safety incident from occurring.

The dated ‘compliance-based training’ and ‘mandatory online modules’ approach and refresher training has failed. New training and learning habits and practices will need to be created.

Implementation and meaningful review of food safety management systems rarely occur. An organisation must be able to demonstrate that it is complying with its food safety management system and conduct a regular review — a requirement of Australian food law.

A review is of critical importance as food production activities within the operation will change over time, such as when new equipment is purchased or changes are made to cooking methods.

The involvement of senior leadership is required in the review process, to provide an opportunity to examine business activity from a different perspective. Soft or inconsistent regulatory audits are simply not helpful and place the organisation and other stakeholders at risk, including the regulator. In many situations food safety management is not a priority and is not taken seriously, with a ‘she’ll be right’ approach, until there is a food safety incident or regulatory intervention. This can often lead to unwanted and negative (social) media attention.

Food safety colleague Dr Doug Powell explained that when there is an outbreak of foodborne illness many food operations will rely on a go-to soundbite, “Food safety is our top priority”.

For Dr Powell, a former professor of food safety for 17 years at the universities of Guelph and Kansas State, this sets up a mental incongruity: if food safety is your top priority, shouldn’t you show me?

The other common soundbite is, “We meet all government standards”.

With a changing regulatory landscape, advances in technology, and food products and ingredients travelling great distances, it is time for senior leadership and boards of directors to elevate the food safety conversation within their organisation.

Far too many foodservice operations are leaving brand protection to government inspectors or auditors — this is a bad idea.

Organisational leaders should commit themselves to achieving optimal industry standards in food safety management instead of aiming to meet minimum requirements. Leaders must be actively involved in celebrating team success and equally the reporting and development of risk-reduction strategies when a food safety issue arises. Leaders must hold every employee accountable for consistent adherence to recognised food law requirements and safety practices. Failing to respond to these matters leaves many organisations (and employees) vulnerable to a myriad of risks.

Best to you, Jaucelynn

Happy birthday to Jaucelynn, daughter 2 of the 4 Canadian clan.

She’s now 30, with two sons, who each have fabulous hair, and can skate.

Jauce recently moved from suburbia Toronto to Lion’s Head, Ontario (that’s in Canada), and Fischer, I expect you to check in, and no killing cat stories.

I spoke with her yesterday, which is about the best I can do.

She works as a medical writer, and can work anywhere, so I guess all those years of thinking I had no impact may have had a minor impact.

I’m still pissed at her when she was 10-years-old and dumped a glass of water on a desktop Mac in 2000 and proclaimed she didn’t do it.

The computer died a month later.

I’m over it, love ya kid.

Negligence: New Jersey day care fined after children drank pine cleaner

Kristine Goodrich of the Mankato Free Press writes the child care center in Pemberton has been fined and placed on a provisional license for violations including giving pine cleaner to children.

In January two toddlers at the Pemberton Academic Learning Services center, known as PALS, drank Pine-Sol that staff believed was apple juice, according to newly released reports from the Department of Human Services. One child vomited but the children were not seriously harmed.

The state classified the accidental ingestion as maltreatment and fined the center $1,000. Another $200 fine was levied for not promptly reporting the incident to the state.

Chinese primary school hit by food poisoning with more than 100 children hooked to drips

Abigail O’Leary of the Mirror writes that a primary school hit by a wave of food poisoning caused scenes of chaos as more than 100 children were struck down. 

The school, in the central Chinese province of Henan, saw pupils suffering from vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Officials are now investigating a so-called ‘central kitchen project’ in Yucheng County, where four government-contracted catering companies are supplying school meals to 4,500 kids.

Distressing images from rural hospitals in the county show young children hooked up to intravenous drips while others are slumped on chairs in waiting areas with their parents.

More than 100 youngsters have been admitted to hospital since Wednesday (10th June). County officials said most have been discharged, but some are still receiving treatment.

Home-based food businesses in Alberta with “low-risk” products no longer require handling permits

This is why I avoid potlucks (not that anyone would invite Dr. food safety).

I have no idea of the kitchen prep area, nor the personal hygiene of the providerer.

According to David Opinko of Lethbridge News Now, the Government of Alberta (that’s in Canada) has made it easier for individuals to start or continue operating businesses out of their home that sell food.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says this will also help to increase the public’s access to locally grown or processed foods.

“This regulatory change maintains our standards for food safety, supports Alberta entrepreneurs, adds new jobs, and benefits the economy by giving Albertans new opportunities to buy locally produced foods. It also makes it easier than ever to turn your passion into a home business.”

Specifically, those who sell low-risk items, or ones that have a lower ability to create food-borne illnesses, will not require food-handling permits or be subject to inspections.

Uh-huh.

Ya don’t know unless ya test

Ya can’t test your way to a safe food supply, but ya can test to verify your food safety plans are working.

Testing to Additional Raw Beef Products

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.

SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing plans to expand its routine verification testing for six Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (non-O157 STEC; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, or O145) that are adulterants, in addition to the adulterant Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7, to ground beef, bench trim, and raw ground beef components other than raw beef manufacturing trimmings (i.e., head meat, cheek meat, weasand (esophagus) meat, product from advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems, partially defatted chopped beef and partially defatted beef fatty tissue, low temperature rendered lean finely textured beef, and heart meat)(hereafter “other raw ground beef components”) for samples collected at official establishments. STEC includes non-O157 STEC; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, or O145, that are adulterants, and E. coli O157:H7. Currently, FSIS tests only its beef manufacturing trimmings samples for these six non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157:H7; all This document is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on 06/04/2020 and available online at federalregister.gov/d/2020-12073, and on govinfo.gov 2 other aforementioned raw beef products are presently tested for E. coli O157:H7 only.

FSIS also intends to test for these non-O157 STEC in ground beef samples that it collects at retail stores and in applicable samples it collects of imported raw beef products. FSIS is requesting comments on the proposed sampling and testing of ground beef, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components. FSIS will announce the date it will implement the new testing in a subsequent Federal Register notice. Additionally, FSIS is responding to comments on the November 19, 2014, Federal Register notice titled “Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in Certain Raw Beef Products.” FSIS is also making available its updated analysis of the estimated costs and benefits associated with the implementation of its non-O157 STEC testing on raw beef manufacturing trimmings and the costs and benefits associated with the expansion of its non-O157 STEC testing to ground beef, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components.

Spinach can be persistently infected with Salmonella

When I was attempting a Masters degree (I never finished after almost three years, became a newspaper editor, then went back and got a PhD in Food Science; thanks Mansel for taking me on) looking at susceptible and resistant strains of tomato plants to Verticillium wilt, I had to inoculate these plants and walk up to the lab at all hours of the day and night to nurture and harvest the plants at prescribed times and look at their cells under a microscope – sometimes even electronic – and see what the fungus was doing.

That was 1985.

There have been improvements in technology.

The effects of using contaminated seed and water on the persistence and internalization of Salmonella Newport in organic spinach cultivars- Lazio, Space, Emilia and Waitiki were studied.

Seeds were contaminated by either immersing in a suspension of Salmonella and then sprouted or were sprouted in Salmonella contaminated water in the dark at 25 °C. After 5 days, germinated sprouts were analyzed for S. Newport population and internalization. Germinated sprouts were potted in soil and grown in a plant incubator for 4 weeks. Leaves, stems and roots were sampled for Salmonella population by plating on CHROMagar™. Plants surface-sterilized with chlorine were analyzed for internalized pathogen. Potting soil and water runoff were sampled for Salmonella after 4 weeks of plant growth.

Contaminated seeds and irrigation water had S. Newport populations of 7.64±0.43 log CFU/g and 7.12±0.04 log CFU/ml, respectively. Sprouts germinated using contaminated water or seeds had S. Newport populations of 8.09±0.04 and 8.08±0.03 log CFU/g, respectively and had a Salmonella population that was significantly higher than other spinach tissues (P<0.05). Populations of S. Newport in leaves, stem and roots of spinach plants were as follows: contaminated seed- 2.82±1.69, 1.69±0.86, and 4.41±0.62 log CFU/ml; contaminated water- 3.56±0.90, 3.04±0.31, and 4.03±0.42 log CFU/ml of macerated tissue suspension, respectively. Internalization was observed in plants developing from contaminated seeds and in sprouts germinated using contaminated water. S. Newport populations of 2.82±0.70 log CFU/g and 1.76±0.46 log CFU/ml were recovered from soil and water runoff, respectively.

The results indicate that contamination of spinach during germination can result in persistence, internalization and environmental reintroduction of Salmonella.

Contamination of spinach at germination: A route to persistence and environmental reintroduction by salmonella, 02 August 2020

International Journal of Food Microbiology

Govindaraj Dev Kumar, Jitendra Patel, Sadhana Ravishankar

https://arizona.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/contamination-of-spinach-at-germination-a-route-to-persistence-an

It’s been done before: Porn stars deployed in New Zealand government’s online safety campaign-video

A New Zealand government advertising campaign aimed at promoting online safety for under 18s features two naked ‘porn stars’. The adult actors knock on the door of a family home to tell the mother ‘your son’s been watching us online’. The stunned mother listens as she is told that porn stars don’t talk about consent and ‘just get straight to it’. ‘Yeah, and I’d never act like that in real life,’ the male porn star says. The Keep It Real Online series also includes videos addressing cyberbullying, grooming by paedophiles, and the ease of children’s access to violent content.

It’s only a movie, but 2004’s The Girl Next Door, featuring Canadian Elisha Cuthbert features porn stars making a sex-ed tape.