40 Indian nursing college female students hospitalized due to food poisoning

As many as 40 female students pursuing BSc Nursing at MGM College in Kamothe have been hospitalised after falling ill allegedly due vomit.toiletto ‘food poisoning’ after having dinner at the college mess.

API Mukund Salunkhe of Kamothe police station said,” The incident occurred on Sunday night after the students had their dinner at the college mess. The victims started complaining of stomach pain with nausea and dysentery around 3.30am on Monday and hence were admitted to MGM hospital in Kamothe. The MGM hospital management have not reported the matter to the police, however, some parents informed the police after which the Kamothe police has started taking the statements of all the 40 patients.”

Malawi finance minister stable after food poisoning

Malawi Minister of Finance and Economic development, Goodall Gondwe is still observed by doctors, following an apparent case of bacterial food poisoning but he is in “stable” condition.

Goodall GondweGondwe was sickened by bacterial food poisoning, according to Secretary to the Treasury Newby Kumwembe. Kumwembe said in Lilongwe during the opening of the pre-budget consultation meeting that Gondwe would not be able to attend as he was “not feeling quite well.” 

unlucky honeymoon at the Melia Caribe Tropical Hotel in Bavaro, the Dominican Republic

Keeley and Terry Ford couldn’t wait to experience their dream honeymoon in the idyllic Caribbean islands.

doug.amy.wedding doug.amy.weddingThe pair forked out $15,000 for their luxurious wedding and honeymoon package in Bavaro in the Dominican Republic. But unfortunately, they ended up with some rather unwanted extras, and have now won a $90,000 payout from the travel company they booked with.

Keeley, 45, said she fell violently ill just hours after saying her vows and was stuck in bed for days. It wasn’t long before new husband Terry became sick too, along with five other members of their wedding party, the Birmingham Mail reported.

That included Keeley’s two children, who were 11 and 15 at the time, and her parents.

She suspects that food poisoning was to blame, claiming that almost raw food was served at the four-star Melia Caribe Tropical Hotel where they were staying.

Travel company Thomas Cook has now paid out $90,000 to the couple over the incident, which occurred in 2009, according to the couple’s law firm Irwin Mitchell.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: “Thomas Cook closely audits all of the hotels to which it operates to ensure that only the very highest health and hygiene standards are in place. We would like to assure customers that incidents of this type are rare, as we work closely with all our hotel partners to ensure that only the very highest hygiene standards are maintained.”

I’m barfing; does it matter where foodborne illness happens?

Some people publish in peer-reviewed journals; some publish reports; some publish for a vanity press.

According to a report from the U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest, outbreak data show that Americans are twice as likely to get food poisoning from food prepared at a restaurant than food prepared at home.

Except that outbreaks from a restaurant — where many people could be exposed to risk — are much more likely to get reported.

blame_canadaI don’t know where most outbreaks happen, but I do know there are a lot of people and groups that make bullshit statements.

It’s OK to say, I don’t know. Especially when followed with, this is what I’m doing to find out more. And when I find out more, you’ll hear if from me first.

And yes, one could argue that it matters where foodborne illness happens to more efficiently allocate preventative resources, but we’re not even close to that in terms of meaningful data collection.

C.J. Jacob and D.A. Powell. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. November 2009, 6(9): 1121-1123

Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.

Blame the consumer, ACSH edition; majority of foodborne illness happens at home? ‘Really? Show me the data’

Friend of the barfblog Don Schaffner wrote that in response to a dumb statement by the credibility-questioned American Council on Science and Health with the headline, “Avoiding food poisoning starts in your own kitchen.”

Avoiding food poisoning starts on the farm. It ends at the fork.

In response to an ill-informed Jane Brody column in the N.Y. Times, ACSH’s Ariel Savransky says, “Jane Brody goes into a lot of detail about steps that can be taken to prevent illness from foods you prepare. It may seem like an overdose of minutiae to bear in mind, but the steps are really not so hard to implement and the fact that 70 percent of food blame_canadapoisoning is caused by unsanitary kitchen practices really makes it necessary to follow the advice she provides, and which we here at ACSH endorse.”

Where’s the fact?

We took a shot at the question, and we publish in peer-reviewed journals. Go evidence, or go home.

Jacob, C.J. and Powell, D.A. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 6(9): 1121-1123.
?http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2008.0256

Food service professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the blamequestion is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.

Fewer barfing: estimates of foodborne illness in Canada

Following the lead of the U.S., Canada has significantly reduced its estimate of annual foodborne illness rates – the number of people barfing each year from food – from 11 million to 4 million, or 1-in-8 people each year.

The current U.S. estimate is 48 million annual cases or 1-in-6 people, down from 76 million or 1-in-4 people.

In both cases, the downward estimates reflect changes in methodologies rather than actual decreases in illness; or maybe there are fewer people barfing, it’s restaurant_food_crap_garbage_10-297x300impossible to compare.

A paper was published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease yesterday (abstract below) and highlights published in a press release, with excerpts below.

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that each year roughly one in eight Canadians (or four million people) get sick due to domestically acquired food-borne diseases. This estimate provides the most accurate picture yet of which food-borne bacteria, viruses, and parasites (“pathogens” – why the dick fingers?) are causing the most illnesses in Canada, as well as estimating the number of foodborne illnesses without a known cause.

In general, Canada has a very safe food supply; however, this estimate shows that there is still work to be done to prevent and control foodborne illness in Canada, to focus efforts on pathogens which cause the greatest burden and to better understand foodborne illness without a known cause.

The Agency has estimates for two major groups of foodborne illnesses:

Known foodborne pathogens: There are 30 pathogens known to cause foodborne illness. Many of these pathogens are tracked by public health systems that monitor cases of illness.

To estimate the total number of food-borne illnesses, the Agency estimated the number of illnesses caused by both known foodborne pathogens and unspecified agents.

In general, to be captured in a Canadian surveillance system a sick individual must: seek care; have a sample (stool, urine or blood) requested; and submit a sample for testing. In addition, the sample must be tested with a test capable of identifying the causative agent; and finally the positive test result must be reported to the surveillance system. Surveillance systems only capture a small portion of total illnesses given all these necessary steps (i.e. there is under-diagnosis and under-reporting taking place).

The Agency’s 2013 estimates of illnesses from food-borne diseases in Canada are more accurate than the estimates published in 2008 of 11 million episodes of foodborne illness each year based on better data and methodologies. The 2008 estimates used values from earlier United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates applied to a Canadian estimate of the average number of esti-fig5-engepisodes of acute gastrointestinal illness per person occurring each year. In addition, the methodology used for the 2013 estimates is different from that used in 2008. As a result of these differences, no strict side-by-side comparison can be made between the two sets of estimates. The 2013 estimates do not mean that there is less foodborne illness occurring, but rather, that more accurate estimates are now possible.

Estimates of the burden of foodborne illness in Canada for 30 specified pathogens and unspecified agents, circa 2006

10.may.13

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

M. Kate Thomas, Regan Murray, Logan Flockhart, Katarina Pintar, Frank Pollari, Aamir Fazil, Andrea Nesbitt, and Barbara Marshall

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2012.1389

ABSTRACT

Estimates of foodborne illness are important for setting food safety priorities and making public health policies. The objective of this analysis is to estimate domestically acquired, foodborne illness in Canada, while identifying data gaps and areas for further research. Estimates of illness due to 30 pathogens and unspecified agents were based on data from the 2000–2010 time period from Canadian surveillance systems, relevant international literature, and the Canadian census population for 2006. The modeling approach required accounting for under-reporting and underdiagnosis and to estimate the proportion of illness domestically acquired and through foodborne transmission. To account for uncertainty, Monte Carlo simulations were performed to generate a mean estimate and 90% credible interval. It is estimated that each year there are 1.6 million (1.2–2.0 million) and 2.4 million (1.8–3.0 million) episodes of domestically acquired foodborne illness related to 30 known pathogens and unspecified agents, respectively, for a total estimate of 4.0 million (3.1–5.0 million) episodes of domestically acquired foodborne illness in Canada. Norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter spp., and nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. are the leading pathogens and account for approximately 90% of the pathogen-specific total. Approximately one in eight Canadians experience an episode of domestically acquired foodborne illness each year in Canada. These estimates cannot be compared with prior crude estimates 

Blame the consumer: (latest) Canadian edition

“More than 85 per cent of all foodborne illnesses occur as a result of incidences of food contamination in Canadian homes.”

So says Sylvain Charlebois, some academic thingy at the University of Guelph in the leslie_nielsen_nosejpg(1)Globe and Mail last week.

No reference, all rhetoric, no reality.

In a piece about allocating food safety resources, Charlebois writes “governments should remain actively involved to ensure industry compliance and public reassurance.”

As a member of the public, I don’t want reassurance; I want confidence, I want the choice to buy microbiologically safer food, I want data to support claims of safety.

The stats that have been reported in peer-reviewed journals are all over the place: anywhere from 15-90 per cent of foodborne illness apparently happens in the home.

So if a consumer ate bagged spinach in fall 2006 at home, would that mean they possibly got sick at home, or that the contamination originated on the farm and there was little consumers could do?

Casey Jacob and I attempted to tackle this question in the journal, Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, and concluded,

“Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.”

Robert Tauxe of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has noted there have been 10 new food vehicles identified in multistate outbreaks of foodborne illness since 2006: bagged spinach, carrot juice, peanut butter, broccoli powder on a snack food, dog food, pot pies, canned chili sauce, hot peppers, white pepper and raw cookie dough.

Few, if any of these have to do with consumers.

Jacob, C.J. and Powell, D.A. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 6(9): 1121-1123.
?http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2008.0256

Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is pointing_fingers_2(1)(3)implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.

How foodborne illness impacts the economy

First it was nerdwallet, now it’s WalletBlog.

I didn’t know so many financial blogs existed with an interest in foodborne disease.

When an outbreak occurs in this the era of Facebook, Twitter, and streaming news on cell phones, millions of consumers know about it immediately and are likely to swear off the product involved for the foreseeable future.  Therefore, not only will the farm at which it originated almost certainly go bankrupt as a result, but the entire industry will suffer as well.

“Anytime there is an outbreak, sales go down,” said Dr. Douglas Powell, professor of food safety at Kansas State University.  “Any commodity … is only as good as its worst farm.”

According to Robert L. Scharff, a former economist for the US Food and Drug Administration and currently an assistant professor at the Ohio State University, foodborne illness costs the country roughly $152 billion annually. 

As Dr. Powell pointed out, “Any foodborne outbreak has effects far beyond the headlines.”

The question is what to do about this issue not only because our economy could obviously use a break, but also given the simple fact that, as Dr. Powell noted, it seems out of whack that “we’re supposed to be a developed country, and we have all this illness from something as basic as food.”

The answer, according to Dr. Powell, is to give consumers as much information as possible.  People simply have little way to tell whether the food they buy comes from farms that are microbiologically safe or not.  Denoting this on labels much like restaurants emphasize good inspection grades would be a good start, even though it would surely alienate industry bigwigs given that it would imply that certain foods aren’t actually safe to begin with.

Ultimately, some marketing reform is also going to be needed.  A perfect example of why is the case of organic food.  Production issues, such as organic farmers being more conscious of their environmental impact, surely play into its popularity, but its primary driver is the fact that people believe it to be safer than non-organic food, according to Dr. Powell.  While marketers don’t out and out say so, they certainly hint at this falsity.  We just need to point the marketing machine in the right direction.

Dr. Powell is helping lead this effort with his aptly-titled barfblog, which discusses food issues in a way that will keep the attention of today’s ADD society.  Who knows, maybe we can make foodborne illness education the next “in” celebrity cause and in doing so not only save lives, but also save the industry billions of dollars, thereby reducing food prices for everyone and helping our ailing economy.  

Update your references: foodborne illness costs $77 billion a year in US

Here’s the abstract:

Economic burden from health losses due to foodborne illness in the United States
Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 1, January 2012 , pp. 123-131(9)
Scharff, Robert L.
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2012/00000075/00000001/art00018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised their estimates for the annual number of foodborne illnesses; 48 million Americans suffer from domestically acquired foodborne illness associated with 31 identified pathogens and a broad category of unspecified agents. Consequently, economic studies based on the previous estimates are now obsolete. This study was conducted to provide improved and updated estimates of the cost of foodborne illness by adding a replication of the 2011 CDC model to existing cost-of-illness models. The basic cost-of-illness model includes economic estimates for medical costs, productivity losses, and illness-related mortality (based on hedonic value-of-statistical-life studies).

The enhanced cost-of-illness model replaces the productivity loss estimates with a more inclusive pain, suffering, and functional disability measure based on monetized quality-adjusted life year estimates. Costs are estimated for each pathogen and a broader class of unknown pathogens. The addition of updated cost data and improvements to methodology enhanced the performance of each existing economic model. Uncertainty in these models was characterized using Monte Carlo simulations in @Risk version 5.5.

With this model, the average cost per case of foodborne illness was $1,626 (90% credible interval [CI], $607 to $3,073) for the enhanced cost-of-illness model and $1,068 (90% CI, $683 to $1,646) for the basic model. The resulting aggregated annual cost of illness was $77.7 billion (90% CI, $28.6 to $144.6 billion) and $51.0 billion (90% CI, $31.2 to $76.1 billion) for the enhanced and basic models, respectively.

Norovirus, salmonella cause bulk of known US foodborne illness; meat, produce primary vehicles

The US. Centers for Disease Control reported today that in 2008, 1,034 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported, which resulted in 23,152 cases of illness, 1,276 hospitalizations, and 22 deaths. Among the 479 outbreaks with a laboratory-confirmed single etiologic agent reported, norovirus was the most common, accounting for 49% of outbreaks and 46% of illnesses. Salmonella was the second most common, accounting for 23% of outbreaks and 31% of illnesses. Among the 218 outbreaks attributed to a food vehicle with ingredients from only one of 17 defined food commodities, the top commodities to which outbreaks were attributed were poultry (15%), beef (14%), and finfish (14%), whereas the top commodities to which outbreak-related illnesses were attributed were fruits and nuts (24%), vine-stalk vegetables (23%), and beef (13%).

Since 1992, CDC has defined a foodborne disease outbreak as the occurrence of two or more similar illnesses resulting from ingestion of a common food. State, local, and territorial health department officials use a standard, Internet-based form to voluntarily submit reports of foodborne outbreaks to CDC. An online toolkit of clinical and laboratory information is available to support investigation and reporting of outbreaks.

The number (1,034) of outbreaks was 10% lower than the annual average reported (1,151) for 2003–2007, and the number of outbreak-related illnesses was 5% lower (23,152 versus 24,400).

Of the total number of outbreak-related foodborne illnesses, 1,276 (6%) resulted in hospitalization. Salmonella was the most common cause of outbreak-related hospitalizations, causing 62% of hospitalizations reported, followed by Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) (17%) and norovirus (7%). Outbreaks caused by Clostridium botulinum resulted in the highest proportion of persons hospitalized (90%), followed by Listeria outbreaks (76%). Among the 22 deaths associated with foodborne disease outbreaks in 2008, 20 were attributed to bacterial etiologies (13 Salmonella, three Listeria monocytogenes, three STEC [two O157, one O111], one Staphylococcus), one to norovirus, and one to a mycotoxin.

Among the 868 outbreaks with a known single setting where food was consumed, 52% resulted from food consumed in a restaurant or deli, 15% in a private home, and the remainder in other locations.

Ref: Surveillance for foodborne disease outbreaks — United States, 2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 9, 2011 / 60(35); 1197-1202.