Jello at an Australian hospital deliberately contaminated with ‘organic’ material (that means poop)

It’s bad enough to live on Jello – like I had to before my recent colonscopy – but when someone deliberately adds shit, at a hospital, things get worse.

ABC News reports jellies and custards at one of Adelaide’s biggest hospitals, Flinders Medical Centre, were contaminated with a “solid organic” product

Police would not rule out faeces, and said the material was being analysed

Health staff are assisting police with a criminal investigation

“We are satisfied that there are no patients who have been fed the contaminated foodstuffs. No threat or claim has been made in connection with this,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Joanne Shanahan said.

Asked whether it was faeces, and what colour the substance was, Assistant Commissioner Shanahan said she could not comment beyond saying the “matter was being forensically analysed”.

The contaminated items were discovered yesterday on a refrigerator tray in a hospital kitchen, and police were notified this morning.

They have now launched a criminal investigation.

“During a routine food safety inspection yesterday a small number of desserts were identified as contaminated,” said Sue O’Neill, the CEO of the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.

“Staff were vigilant and isolated the area and raised the alarm. Management then initiated a small assessment team who investigated all other prepared food.”

Ms O’Neill said the contaminant was a “solid, organic-looking product” and was “very obvious”.

Poison Squad: The man who pioneered food safety

Eric Schlosser writes in this New York Times review of Deborah Blum’s new book, “The Poison Squad,” that a now forgotten chemist at the Department of Agriculture, Harvey Washington Wiley, played a more important role — not only in ensuring the passage of the 1906 food safety bills but also in changing popular attitudes toward government intervention on behalf of consumers.

In 1906 the United States was the only major industrialized nation without strict laws forbidding the sale of contaminated and adulterated food. In their absence, the free market made it profitable to supply a wide range of unappetizing fare. Ground-up insects were sold as brown sugar. Children’s candy was routinely colored with lead and other heavy metals. Beef hearts and other organ meats were processed, canned and labeled as chicken. Perhaps one-third of the butter for sale wasn’t really butter but rather all sorts of other things — beef tallow, pork fat, the ground-up stomachs of cows and sheep — transformed into a yellowish substance that looked like butter.

Harvey Washington Wiley was born in a log cabin on April 16, 1844, a fitting entrance for an American hero. His father was a farmer and a lay preacher in southern Indiana who sheltered escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Wiley served briefly in the Civil War, studied medicine in Indiana and chemistry at Harvard, and became the first chemistry professor at Purdue University in 1874.

The deliberate adulteration of food had been a problem for millenniums, inspiring government regulations in ancient Egypt, Sumeria and Rome. By the late 1870s, the Industrial Revolution, applied to food processing, provided a variety of new techniques and ingredients useful for committing fraud — artificial flavors, artificial colorings, chemical preservatives. But simultaneous advances in chemistry also facilitated the detection of such fakery. At the request of the Indiana State Board of Health in 1881, Wiley began to study the authenticity of the honey and maple syrup for sale in that state. According to Blum, he used laboratory instruments like the polariscope to uncover that “a full 90 percent of his syrup samples were fakes … and there were ‘beekeepers’ who had not, of late, been bothering to keep bees.” Wiley’s findings soon appeared in Popular Science magazine, and his career as a public crusader was launched.

After being named the U.S.D.A.’s chief chemist in 1882, Wiley spent the next 30 years at the department campaigning for safe food and proper labeling. He supervised a series of investigative reports that gained much public attention, warning about “pepper” made from sawdust, “cocoa powder” containing iron oxides and tin, “flour” laced with clay and powdered white rocks, “whiskey” that was actually watered-down ethyl alcohol tinted brown with prune juice, “coffee” that featured ingredients like sand, tree bark, ground acorns, charcoal and a black powder composed of charred bone. To test the health impact of various additives, he recruited young men to serve as guinea pigs in “hygienic table trials,” serving them questionable ingredients during meals in the basement of U.S.D.A. headquarters — and then observing what happened. Soon known as the Poison Squad, these idealistic volunteers embraced the motto on a sign in their special dining room: “only the brave dare eat the fare.” …

“The Poison Squad” offers a powerful reminder that truth can defeat lies, that government can protect consumers and that an honest public servant can overcome the greed of private interests.

Operation Tarantelo: How the illegal bluefin tuna market made over eur 12 million a year selling fish in Spain

Europol coordinated the international Operation Tarantelo, conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil with support of French, Italian, Maltese and Portuguese authorities, in which 79 individuals were arrested.

More than 80 000 kg of illicit Bluefin tuna were seized and it is estimated the network trafficked a volume of over 2.5 million kg a year

Several poisoning cases were detected due to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish were stored

Operation Tarantelo was launched when the Spanish Guardia Civil became aware of irregularities relating to Bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean Sea. Investigations revealed that the fish was being traded illegally in Spain, but imported into the country through French harbours, after being caught in Italian and Maltese waters. While the fish caught in Maltese waters were illegally imported using documents from legal fishing and authorised farms, the fish caught in Italian waters arrived in Spain without documents or inspections. Although most of the fish was caught in Malta and Italy, in Spanish waters there were also unauthorised catches, in this case, the illegally fished Bluefin tuna was transported in false bottoms under the deck of a vessel.

This illegal Bluefin tuna market was up to 2.5 million kg a year and it is estimated criminals earn at least EUR 5 profit per kg; total illegal profits amount to EUR 12.5 million. The volume of this illegal trade is double the annual volume of the legal trade, which is estimated to be 1.25 million kg.

The tuna business is often linked to other crimes such as food fraud or document fraud. The main risks for consumer health were due to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish was transported and stored. Sometimes the fish was hidden underwater after it was fished, awaiting transportation. The supply chain was interrupted several times, which made the tuna go off and the risk of food poising higher for eventual customers. Several cases of food poisoning were detected after eating the tuna, due to the degradation of proteins from the unhygienic conditions in which the tuna was stored.

Everyone has a camera Pakistan grape edition: Fruit seller is filmed spray painting green grapes red days after Brit aunt became seriously ill eating them

Jay Akbar of The Sun, writes this is the moment a fruit seller was caught spray painting green grapes red just days after a British tourist fell sick eating his wares.

Layla Khan, 23, filmed the dodgy vendor in the village of Afzalpur, Pakistan, after her aunt ate his grapes and contracted diarrhea.

She was shocked to find the merchant crouched behind a stall using a can of Win spray paint to dye the fruit.

The middle-aged man smirked when he noticed the camera, before placing the grapes in a pile of painted fruit on the ground.

The seller, who had red paint on his hands, did not react when questioned in the video by Layla, a carer from Birmingham.

She said: “Tourists need to keep their eyes open and be very careful in street markets like this.

“You can easily be exploited and it is very dangerous for your health. This man does not care that he is feeding people poison and it left my aunt very ill.

“When we confronted him he said ‘Everyone is doing it’ – and smirked. I saw many British people walking around – it’s a spot that is popular with tourists and a busy area.

“My aunt had fallen ill for two days with diarrhea and sickness but had only eaten grapes from a man on the street.

“My cousin and I were shopping and we decided to visit – there were street vendors selling all sorts of food like kebabs, samosas, fruit and coconuts.

“Tourists need to open their eyes and see what they are buying – you’d have to be blind to miss him spraying them in the street.

“Go to a supermarket to buy food to be safe – the grapes cost more but it’s worth it.”

Layla said she reported the incident to the local police force who have been approached for comment.

 

How to stop food sabotage

Last Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, I had a requested op-ed published in the Sydney Morning Herald. I was a little rusty, so Amy did more than just clean it up, and I haven’t gotten around to posting it until now because there was some medical stuff last week, but all is well and here it is:

My 9-year-old daughter and I were watching the news on Saturday morning and she asked, why would someone put a needle in strawberries?

Some people are not nice.

A couple of years ago a food safety type asked me, what’s the biggest risk to the food supply.

I didn’t hesitate.

Deliberate tampering and food fraud.

Food safety has traditionally been faith-based – especially when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables. Consumers cannot control how food is handled before it gets to them. This is why consumers need to know their suppliers and know what they are doing to keep people safe.

This latest food tampering scare – 11 cases of contaminanted strawberries reported nationally so far, the first in Sydney on Saturday – makes that clear.

Faith-based food safety sucks. It always has. Risks have always been present. As Madeleine Ferrieres, the author of Mad Cow, Sacred Cow: A History of Food Fears,  wrote, “All human beings before us questioned the contents of their plates.”

But contemporary consumers forget that contamination risk has always been with us: “We are often too blinded by this amnesia to view our present food situation clearly. This amnesia is very convenient. It allows us to reinvent the past and construct a complaisant, retrospective mythology.”

“We still live with the illusion of modernity, with the false idea that what happens to us is new and unbearable,” she has said in an interview.

What’s new is that we have better tools to detect problems. This also presents an opportunity: those who use the best tools should be able to prove their food is safe through testing and brag about it. They can market food safety measures at retail.

The days of faith-based food safety are coming to a protracted close.

There is a lack – a disturbing lack – of on-farm food safety inspection; farmers need to be more aware of the potential for contamination from microbes (from listeria in rockmelon, for example) as well as sabotage.

There is an equally large lack of information to consumers where they buy their produce. What do Australian grocery shoppers know of the food safety regulations applied to the produce sold in their most popular stores? Who can they ask to find the answers?

The best solution is for farmers and retailers to market food safety. If they have a great food safety program they should be promoting it. Consumers can handle more information rather than less.

Douglas Powell is a (sorta?) retired professor of food safety in Canada and the US who now lives in Brisbane. He blogs at barfblog.com.

And in memorandum, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, the Blues Brothers’ guitarist and longtime blues sideman who died Friday at 88.

Who’s to blame? Australian restaurant fined $13,000 after health inspectors find “pet meat” being processed in kitchen

Akshay Pai of Meaww writes that an Indian restaurant in Perth, Australia, has been fined $13,000 by health inspectors after they found ‘pet meat’ in its kitchen premises.

The Department of Health published a notice online, stating that Kopikaran Krishnasamy and Kalaiamutham Pty Ltd, trading as Cafe Marica was guilty of breaching food regulations this past February.

According to the Daily Mail, when the City of Gosnells food safety inspectors visited the restaurant, located in Perth’s southern suburb of Canning Vale, they found 15 kilos of mutton marked ‘Pet Meat – Not Fit For Human Consumption’ opened and being processed in the kitchen.

Cafe Marica was handed down a hefty fine for failing to comply with food safety regulations —  $12,000 for court costs and an additional $1382.30 in costs for failing to prevent pet meat being handled in premises where food was sold. However, it is unclear whether any of the pet meat was served to a customer in the restaurant. Speaking about the case, City of Gosnells chief executive officer Ian Cowie said, “The breach related to the fact that pet meat was found at premises where food was prepared and sold for human consumption. Some of the meat was being processed by Mr. Krishnasamy, however, the City had no evidence that the pet meat was for consumption by customers.”

In a statement, owner Krishnasamy defended his restaurant and insisted that the mix-up was because of a new supplier. “We believe our mistake was trusting our supplier blindly and going ahead with the purchase back in February 2018,” he wrote on Facebook. “Since then, we have immediately discontinued purchases from the supplier and stepped up our hygiene practices.”

Get used to ‘food authenticity’ Irish minister launches food safety strategy

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has launched a three-year food safety and food authenticity strategy, which aims to help guarantee food safety as the agri-food sector grows.

“Our future plans for food safety and food authenticity are ambitious, but we should not fear the breadth of our ambition as we dedicate our resources to improvement,” Minister Creed stated.

The Department will be working closely with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to deliver the strategy.

Dr Pamela Byrne of the FSAI said, “Assuring authenticity, monitoring the food chain, detecting fraudulent and deceptive practices and continually developing the best food safety systems, aligned to new and emerging food safety legislation, is embedded in our organisation’s DNA.”

Food fraud: Raids in Spain uncover expired meats about to be placed back on the market

Javier Arroyo of El Pais reports that Spain’s National Police and Civil Guard have seized hundreds of tons of expired jamón and other meat products that were about to be placed back in the market – in some cases, they were already back on sale.

In three separate raids conducted over the course of a few weeks, officers found that individuals and companies were apparently tampering with seals and labels to extend the shelf life of expired food products.

Sources at the Civil Guard and the Health Ministry said that the operations were independent from each other, but that further investigation is being conducted to determine whether there is a link between the cases.

The problem is no longer about lower-quality ham being passed off as gourmet or “pata negra,” a designation used for top pork products. This has been a more or less habitual scam that producers of real Iberian meats have been trying to eliminate through quality regulations established in 2014, as well as seals indicating the animal’s breed and feeding method.

This latest fraud involves taking expired food products that should legally be destroyed, altering their labels, and putting them back on the market.

Food fraud: Crab meat from Venezuela linked to 9 cases of vibrio in Maryland

While Maryland Blue Crabs are a staple in the DMV, many places do sell crabs, packaged crab meat, and crab cakes with crab from elsewhere.

Anne Cutler of Fox 26 says the National Aquarium in Baltimore reports that due to environmental degradation and years of overfishing, there’s not enough blue crab in the region to support demand, and grocery stores and restaurants often resort to selling imported crab.

According to ocean conservancy organization Oceana, 33 percent of the seafood purchased in the United States is actually mislabeled.

The National Aquarium reports that under current law, crab meat can be imported from around the world, pasteurized in-state and relabeled as “Maryland crabmeat.”

Nine people have contracted dangerous Vibrio infections in Maryland alone. The state’s Department of Health is warning residents to not eat crab meat from Venezuela.

“We’re selling a lot of crab meat, shrimp, lobster, whatever you want. We’re steaming it for you. And as far as this crab meat, we gotta get it from the eastern shore now, because we heard from the media what’s going on,” said Clarence Goodman, with Jessie Taylor Seafood.

Goodman says the company is not taking any chances — sticking with products almost exclusively from the eastern seaboard. 

The crab in question comes in the little plastic tubs. Consumers should look for a label on the side of the container that says where the meat is from. If it comes from Venezuela, you don’t want to get it.

Diners should also pay attention when buying crab cakes as well.A 2015 study from Oceana found that 38 percent of crab cakes being advertised as having locally sourced Chesapeake blue crab were actually made of imported meat.

In the state of Maryland, only a few dozen restaurants in the state reliably make their crab cakes from local crabmeat and the state does not require restaurants to identify the specific source of the meat.

The state has a listing of “True Blue” local restaurants that serve Maryland blue crab.

Everyone’s got a camera: Fake food poisoning Gangnam Style

Dancing Gangnam Style by the side of a swimming pool in Cyprus, Liam Royle appears full of life.

Yet according to him, he was suffering from food poisoning he had developed while on his holiday – experiencing stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

The 23-year-old made a fraudulent sickness claim against Jet2holidays, stating that he suffered from “personal injury” and a “loss of enjoyment” while staying at Papantonia Hotel Apartments, and also “missed meals, excursions, swimming time and other general activities”.

However, when Royle’s former girlfriend became aware of his dishonesty, she contacted the company with a rather incriminating dossier which showed that instead on his holiday, Royle visited the nearby town of Ayia Napa, where he walked around the shops and ate a McDonalds, did not miss meals, drank beer and cocktails, swam in the pool, and was even filmed dancing Gangnam Style.

Instead, the woman who wishes to remain anonymous continued, the 2015 holiday was “fabulous”.

In light of the evidence, Jet2holidays challenged the Manchester man’s claim, and a district judge ruled that he was “fundamentally dishonest” and ordered he pay the company more than £6,000 in costs.