Compost sounds cool, but is it food safety safe

Twenty years ago, I sent one of my students to a big organic conference in Guelph, and requested that she ask one question: How do you know compost is microbiologically safe?

The answer was not convincing.

‘There’s so many good bacteria they out-compete the bad bacteria.’

Fairytale.

Ten years ago, I was visiting a colleague in Melbourne in his high-rise office and he said, see those crappy little houses down there with their crappy little backyard gardens, they provide the produce for Melbourne’s high-end restaurants, and it’s all fertilized with night soil’ (human shit).

A couple of days ago The Packer published a piece about composting food safety.

Doug Grant, who chairs the Center for Produce Safety’s Knowledge Transfer Task Force wrote that composting is a seemingly magical process that decomposes organic materials like green waste or animal manures through microbial fermentation, creating nutrient-rich amendments that can be added back to soils.

It’s not magical; it’s microbiological.

However, compost can also pose a risk to the food safety of fresh produce.

Animal manure is widely suspected to be a significant source of human pathogens. Cows can carry E. coli, while poultry and swine can carry Salmonella. If compost is made with manure containing such pathogens, and the composting process is not controlled properly, these pathogens can survive composting. Contaminated compost applied to fields can then cross-contaminate fresh produce that contacts amended soil during growth, irrigation or harvest.

Yes, we have over 20 years of evidence.

Gurmail Mudahar, Ph.D., is vice president of research and development and food safety at Tanimura & Antle and is a member of CPS’s technical committee and California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement’s (LGMA) advisory board. He reports that his company used to prepare and apply their own animal manure-based composts.  That changed when food safety emerged as a major leafy greens industry issue almost two decades ago.

Then Tanimura & Antle and other growers began buying compost only from specialized manufacturers to minimize produce safety hazards. 

At its simplest, composting is a manufacuring process. To produce compost safely, the most critical controls are high temperature and time held at that temperature. Over time, the heat generated by microbial respiration in turn reduces the compost’s microbial population, including any human pathogens present. 

As a general rule, compost temperatures must reach 131 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius for 3-15 days, followed by a curing phase of least 21 days and preferably a few months. (Once applied to agricultural fields, pathogens continue to die off when exposed to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays, humidity, temperature, time and other factors.)

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Bacteria don’t recognize state borders: Salmonella in Australian eggs

Kelsey Wilkie of the Daily Mail  reports at least three people have come down with salmonella poisoning after purchasing eggs from a popular supermarket.  

The infection is believed to have come from eggs bought in the Melbourne suburb of Werribee. 

The Weekly Times reported the eggs were supplied from farms in New South Wales.

However, a spokesman for the NSW Department of Primary Industries disputed those claims. 

‘There is no evidence to suggest the reported illnesses in Victoria are connected to NSW eggs, or even eggs. The matter is an active investigation being undertaken by Victorian authorities.

‘There are no current recalls of eggs in NSW and no warnings with regards to eggs.’

Since 2012 there have 12 farms identified with Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria and has been working to eliminate the infection.

Most of the infections were discovered in 2019 and the majority of the farms have had their hens removed, but the NSW DPI is still clearing three properties.

There are still salmonella cases in humans in NSW which are linked to a yet-to-be-identified farm.  

Officials from Agriculture Victoria have warned Victorian egg producers to be careful when trading eggs with NSW farmers. 

A table of Australian egg-related outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx.

Salmonella found in ‘death dumplings’ that killed a Thai woman

Lab results have found a dubious dish dubbed “death dumplings” after at least one woman died contained salmonella.

After-sale of the dumplings in southeast metro Bangkok was blamed for one death and several illnesses, the lab results, which came out yesterday confirmed they contained salmonella, according to Prakit Wongprasert of the Samut Prakan provincial health office. 

Earlier this month, 66-year-old Thanu Changpoopanga-ngam suffered severe diarrhoea and was taken to a hospital. Her condition was allegedly caused by eating a dumpling bought from a local vendor. Others in Thanu’s family, who also ate the dumplings, said they also had severe diarrhoea.

Thanu died a few days later. Her death, led the media to dub the dim sum snack as ‘death dumplings,’ after several others came forward to say they had taken sick from eating them.

Going down, in the sink

Since knowledge and understanding of waterborne pathogens and their diseases are well illuminated, a few research publications on the prevalence of pathogenic microorganisms in various household sink drain pipes are often not extensively examined. Therefore, this study aims to (a) assess and monitor the densities of the bacterial community in the different natural biofilm that grow on plastic pipelines, (b) to detect Escherichia coli , Salmonella , and Listeria spp. from natural biofilm samples that are collected from the kitchen (n = 30), bathroom (n = 10), laboratories (n = 13), and hospital (n = 8) sink drainage pipes.

Three bacterial species selected were assessed using a culture‐dependent approach followed by verification of isolates using both BIOLOG GEN III and polymerase chain reaction. The estimated number of each bacterium was 122 isolates, while 60, 20, 26, and 16 isolates were obtained from the natural biofilm samples, kitchen, bathroom, laboratories, and hospital, respectively. As for the tests, in all types of biofilm samples, the overall bacterial counts at low temperature (22°C) were higher than those at high temperature (37°C). Meanwhile, E . coli had the most significant number of bacterial microorganisms compared to the other two pathogens. Additionally, the most massive cell densities of E . coli , Salmonella , and Listeria species were discovered in the biofilm collected from the kitchen, then the hospital.

Statistically, the results reveal that there is a positive correlation (p ≥ .0001) with significance between the sources of biofilm. This work certainly makes the potential of household sink drain pipes for reservoir contagious pathogens more explicitly noticeable. Such knowledge would also be beneficial for prospective consideration of the threat to human public health and the environment.

Prevalence of E. coli, salmonella, and listeria spp. as potential pathogens: A comparative study for biofilm of sink drain environment

Journal of Food Safety

Mohamed Azab El‐Liethy, Bahaa A. Hemdan, Gamila E. El‐Taweel

https://doi.org/10.1111/jfs.12816

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jfs.12816?af=R

UK dad left paralyzed after developing suspected food poisoning on dream holiday

Cathy Owen of Wales Online writes a dad-of-three has been left paralysed after developing suspected food poisoning on a dream holiday to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

William Marsh, from Mountain Ash, was in a coma for 10 weeks and spent seven months in hospital after becoming ill on a holiday to the Dominican Republic with his wife Kathyrn two years ago.

The 57-year-old has been diagnosed with the rare condition Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious neurological condition which is a known complication from food poisoning.

He has now called on specialist serious injury lawyers to investigate his “devastating” ordeal.

William started suffering from stomach cramps and diarrhoea towards the end of a week-long all-inclusive at the Riu Naiboa resort which was booked to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

When he got back home to Wales, the symptoms continued and on the day he was due to return to work as an engineer he woke up to find he had no feeling in his legs.

That sensation then started to spread across his entire body and William was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

William said: “Kathryn and my daughter fell ill first and then it hit me. The symptoms were awful but we just tried to push through it. I needed to get myself to work, so I thought nothing of it really.

“But then I got a huge shock when I woke up one morning and couldn’t feel my legs.”

William was on a ventilator in Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and after a long period of treatment he was able to return home. But his life has now changed massively.

Almost two years on from his diagnosis, the father-of-three still cannot walk and is essentially confined to his living room due to the extent of his needs. He has been unable to return to work.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune condition affecting the peripheral nervous system.

Often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection such as flu or food poisoning, it causes the nerves in the arms and legs to become inflamed and stop working, usually leading to temporary paralysis which may last from a few days to many months.

An estimated 1,300 people (one to two people per 100,000) are affected by GBS annually in the UK. About 80 per cent will make a good recovery, but between five and 10 per cent of people will not survive and 10-15 per cent may experience long term residual effects ranging from limited mobility or dexterity, to life-long dependency on a wheelchair.

Everyone’s got a camera, Salmonella in French toast edition

Salmonella is a leading cause of foodborne outbreaks in Taiwan. On 27 April 2018, a salmonellosis outbreak among customers of a restaurant was reported to the Taiwan CDC. We investigated the outbreak to identify infection sources and prevent further transmission. We interviewed the ill customers and their dining companions.

We conducted a case-control study to identify foods associated with the illness. Case-patients were those who had diarrhoea within 72 hours after eating at the restaurant during 16–27 April 2018. Specimens, food samples, and environmental samples were collected and tested for enteric pathogens. Salmonella isolates were analysed with pulse-field gel electrophoresis and whole-genome sequencing.

We inspected the restaurant sanitation and reviewed kitchen surveillance camera recordings. We identified 47 case-patients, including one decedent. Compared with 44 controls, case-patients were more likely to have had a French toast sandwich (OR: 102.4; 95% CI: 18.7–952.3). Salmonella Enteritidis isolates from 16 case-patients shared an indistinguishable genotype. Camera recordings revealed eggshell contamination, long holding time at room temperature, and use of leftovers during implicated food preparation. Recommendations for restaurant egg-containing food preparation are to use pasteurized egg products and ensure a high enough cooking temperature and long enough cooking time to prevent Salmonella contamination.

Investigation of a salmonellosis outbreak linked to French toast sandwich with the use of surveillance camera, Taiwan, 2018

Epidemiology and Infection

Yu-neng Chueh (a1) (a2)Tsai-hsia Du (a3)Chao-jung Lee (a3)Ying-shu Liao (a4)Chien-shun Chiou (a4)Jui-chen Chang (a2)Chiao-wen Lin (a2)Tsuey-fong Lee (a2) and Chia-ping Su 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268820000989

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/investigation-of-a-salmonellosis-outbreak-linked-to-french-toast-sandwich-with-the-use-of-surveillance-camera-taiwan-2018/02CF410BD619914ED790F440A0F1A40F
Salmonella is a leading cause of foodborne outbreaks in Taiwan. On 27 April 2018, a salmonellosis outbreak among customers of a restaurant was reported to the Taiwan CDC. We investigated the outbreak to identify infection sources and prevent further transmission. We interviewed the ill customers and their dining companions.
We conducted a case-control study to identify foods associated with the illness. Case-patients were those who had diarrhoea within 72 hours after eating at the restaurant during 16–27 April 2018. Specimens, food samples, and environmental samples were collected and tested for enteric pathogens. Salmonella isolates were analysed with pulse-field gel electrophoresis and whole-genome sequencing.
We inspected the restaurant sanitation and reviewed kitchen surveillance camera recordings. We identified 47 case-patients, including one decedent. Compared with 44 controls, case-patients were more likely to have had a French toast sandwich (OR: 102.4; 95% CI: 18.7–952.3). Salmonella Enteritidis isolates from 16 case-patients shared an indistinguishable genotype. Camera recordings revealed eggshell contamination, long holding time at room temperature, and use of leftovers during implicated food preparation. Recommendations for restaurant egg-containing food preparation are to use pasteurized egg products and ensure a high enough cooking temperature and long enough cooking time to prevent Salmonella contamination.

Investigation of a salmonellosis outbreak linked to French toast sandwich with the use of surveillance camera, Taiwan, 2018, 11 May 2020
Epidemiology and Infection
Yu-neng Chueh (a1) (a2), Tsai-hsia Du (a3), Chao-jung Lee (a3), Ying-shu Liao (a4), Chien-shun Chiou (a4), Jui-chen Chang (a2), Chiao-wen Lin (a2), Tsuey-fong Lee (a2) and Chia-ping Su
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268820000989
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/investigation-of-a-salmonellosis-outbreak-linked-to-french-toast-sandwich-with-the-use-of-surveillance-camera-taiwan-2018/02CF410BD619914ED790F440A0F1A40F

36 sick: Salmonella outbreak at Melbourne café

(I’m playing catch up)

Anthony Colangelo of The Age wrote a week ago a café in Melbourne’s inner-north has been closed for more than a week due to a salmonella outbreak that’s feared to have caused illness in 36 people.

The Lincoln Bakery Café on Bouverie Street in Carlton was closed on May 8 and 36 people who ate there prior to the closure have been diagnosed with salmonella poisoning.

Who puts spinach in ice cream? Ramar foods recalls mint chocolate chip with hidden spinach ice cream because of Listeria risk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that Ramar Foods of Pittsburg, CA, is recalling its 14 ounce packages of Peekaboo branded Mint Chocolate Chip with Hidden Spinach Ice Cream product out of an abundance of caution because of the potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The ice cream product being recalled was available for purchase at select Target stores in FL, GA, SC, and NC. Only thirty-three (33) containers of the ice cream product were purchased by consumers and the remaining containers have been removed from commerce. The ice cream affected comes in a 14 ounce, printed paper container with UPC# 8685400001, and a Best Before date of 10/08/2021 printed on the bottom.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this product.

The potential for contamination was discovered after internal routine testing by Ramar Foods revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in some packages of the ice cream.

Organic basil recalled due to Cyclospora risk

I keep telling people that certain fresh herbs – like basil – are a ridiculously high percentage of foodborne illnesses.

They look at me like I just fell off the truck.

Sure, I walk with a cane now because I fall too much, but not off trucks.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) is initiating a voluntary recall of a limited quantity of Wild Harvest® Organic Basil distributed out of UNFI’s Hopkins, MN distribution center to select retailers in Minnesota between 4/18/2020-5/8/2020. UNFI’s recall is issued out of an abundance of caution because of the potential for the impacted product to be contaminated by Cyclospora cayetanensis. No illnesses, including allergic reactions, involving this product have been reported to date.

This recall includes Wild Harvest® Organic Fresh Basil products sold in .25oz, .75oz, 2oz, and 4oz plastic clam shell containers (UPCs: 0071153550450, 0071153550322, 0071153550762, 0071153550323). Impacted product can be identified by a white sticker with black ink on the back of the container stating: “Product of Colombia” and “112.”

This concern was identified following routine sampling. Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic parasite that can cause an intestinal illness in people called cyclosporiasis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness is usually not life threatening. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis may include: watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Other symptoms that may occur but are less common include vomiting and low-grade fever.

From the duh files: California firm ordered to stop Noro claims

CBS Los Angeles reports a federal court ordered a Lake Forest company to stop distributing hand sanitizer products it touts as being able to fight specific diseases.

Innovative BioDefense Inc. of Lake Forest was ordered Monday to stop distributing its Zylast hand sanitizer products until it obtains FDA approval or removes removes disease-specific claims from its product labeling, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Zylast product line — which includes a broad spectrum antimicrobial antiseptic, an antiseptic lotion and an antiseptic foaming soap — is sold by Innovative BioDefense online, directly to consumers. According to a 2018 federal complaint, the company marketed their products as being effective against pathogens such as norovirus, rhinovirus, rotavirus, flu virus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aerus bacteria and Ebola.

And who better to call out BS than Pete Townsend.