Canada: Raw frozen chicken thingies outbreaks

We’ve done extensive work on this topic dating back to 2006 (search barfblog.com), but new tools, like whole genome sequencing, mean additional outbreaks have been identified. A summary paper of recent outbreaks has just been published. Abstract below:

Frozen raw breaded chicken products (FRBCP) have been identified as a risk factor for Salmonella infection in Canada. In 2017, Canada implemented whole genome sequencing (WGS) for clinical and non-clinical Salmonella isolates, which increased understanding of the relatedness of Salmonella isolates, resulting in an increased number of Salmonella outbreak investigations. A total of 18 outbreaks and 584 laboratory-confirmed cases have been associated with FRBCP or chicken since 2017. The introduction of WGS provided the evidence needed to support a new requirement to control the risk of Salmonella in FRBCP produced for retail sale.

Outbreak of salmonella illness associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products in Canada 2015-2019

22 August 2019

Epidemiology and Infection vol. 147

  1. K. Morton(a1)A. Kearney(a2)S. Coleman (a3)M. Viswanathan (a1)K. Chau (a4)A. Orr (a5)and A. Hexemer (a1) 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268819001432

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/outbreaks-of-salmonella-illness-associated-with-frozen-raw-breaded-chicken-products-in-canada-20152019/9F1E5C0D2BF560E540C47BA064E7F713

Frozen strawberry shipment from Mexico contained $12.7 million worth of meth

Joel Shannon of USA Today writes a commercial shipment of frozen strawberries coming from Mexico contained $12.7 million worth of methamphetamine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

The alleged drug-smuggling operation was discovered at the cargo facility at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in southern Texas on Feb. 16, a release says. Officers found 906 pounds of the drug concealed in a trailer, CBP says.

A 42-year-old man who is a Mexican citizen was arrested in connection with the seizure, according to the release.

An analysis of data from the southern border indicates the vast majority of narcotics enter through U.S. ports of entry

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, 87 percent of methamphetamine seized along the border in the first 11 months of the 2018 fiscal year was caught trying to be smuggled in at legal crossing points.

419 sick with Salmonella from raw frozen chicken thingies in Canada since June 2017

Most frozen breaded chicken products available for sale in grocery stores in Canada contain raw chicken that can cause Salmonella illness and therefore pose an increased health risk to Canadians who handle, prepare or consume them.

Such products include chicken nuggets, chicken strips, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries. Canadians need to be aware that even though these products may appear to be cooked, they are not. They need to be handled carefully and cooked properly to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) before they are safe to eat.

According to the Canada’s Chief Medical Officers of Health, over the past 16 months, federal, provincial and territorial public health partners have identified hundreds of laboratory-confirmed human illnesses associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products contaminated with Salmonella, due at least in part to inadequate cooking or handling. And for every laboratory-confirmed illness reported, we know that there are dozens more unreported illnesses in Canada. During this same period, there have also been food recall warnings issued for seven different frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Despite these warnings and efforts to educate the public on safe food-handling practices, we continue to see hundreds of Salmonella illnesses among Canadians of all ages because of consumption of or exposure to improperly cooked frozen raw breaded chicken products Maybe inform beaucratcs or different techniques.’or PR-types.

We are very pleased that the Government of Canada is working with the food manufacturing industry and food retailers to reduce Salmonella in frozen raw breaded chicken products produced on or after April 1, 2019, to below detectable amounts, thereby reducing the risk of illness for everyone who handles or consumes these types of products. However, until April 1, 2019, and likely for up to a year after this date, frozen raw breaded chicken products containing Salmonella will continue to be in the marketplace and in freezers across the country. 

This is why, collectively, we are stressing the importance of handling and preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products with caution. Always cook your frozen raw breaded chicken products thoroughly according to the package instructions to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) using a digital food thermometer to ensure that they are safe to eat. Wash your hands before and after handling these products, and wash and sanitize the surfaces, dishes and utensils used to prepare and serve them. Following this advice when handling, cooking or eating these products will help reduce you and your family’s chance of becoming infected with Salmonella.

For more tips and information on how to properly prepare and cook frozen raw breaded chicken products, visit Canada.ca/foodsafety.

The video says don’t use your microwave, the PR doesn’t.

The PR says use a meat thermometer; the video doesn’t.

In 2007, Kansas State researchers developed a novel video capture system to observe the food preparation practices of 41 consumers – 21 primary meal preparers and 20 adolescents – in a mock domestic kitchen using frozen, uncooked, commercially available breaded chicken products. The researchers wanted to determine actual food handling behavior of these two groups in relation to safe food handling practices and instructions provided on product labels. Self-report surveys were used to determine whether differences exist between consumers’ reported food handling practices and observed behavior. 

The research appeared in the November 2009 issue of the British Food Journal. In addition to Jacob and Powell, the authors were: Sarah DeDonder, K-State doctoral student in pathobiology; Brae Surgeoner, Powell’s former graduate student; Benjamin Chapman, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University and Powell’s former graduate student; and Randall Phebus, K-State professor of animal science and industry.

Beyond the discrepancy between adult and adolescent food safety practices, the researchers also found that even when provided with instructions, food preparers don’t follow them. They may not have even seen them or they assume they know what to do. 

“Our results suggest that while labels might contain correct risk-reduction steps, food manufacturers have to make that information as compelling as possible or it will be ignored,” Chapman said.

They also found that observational research using discreet video recording is far more accurate than self-reported surveys. For example, while almost all of the primary meal preparers reported washing hands after every instance in which they touched raw poultry, only half were observed washing hands correctly after handling chicken products in the study.

Powell said that future work will examine the effectiveness of different food safety labels, messages and delivery mechanisms on consumer behavior in their home kitchens.

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products
01.nov.09
British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820
Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Use a thermometer: Raw frozen chicken burgers sicken 68 in Canada

Craig Takeuchi of Straight writes several more cases of Salmonella have been reported in an outbreak across Canada linked to a recalled frozen raw chicken product.

The Pubic Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, and provincial and territorial health partners have been investigating and issued a public notice about the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak on June 2.   

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency had issued a food recall warning on June 2 for a frozen raw breaded chicken product: No Name brand chicken burgers (1 kilogram) from Loblaw Companies Limited with a best before date of February 6, 2019 (with UPC code 0 60383 16636 6). The product was distributed nationally.

Several affected individuals in the outbreak had reported consuming the product.

As of June 18, there were nine additional cases of illness to increase the total number of infections to 68 individuals. Eight of those cases are in B.C., and the largest number is in Quebec, where there are 23 cases.

So far, 15 people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.

Canadians are advised not to consume the product and to either dispose of it or return it to the store it was purchased from while restaurants are advised not to serve it. Those who do not have the original packaging and are uncertain if it is included in the food recall are advised to throw it out to be safe.

People are sick: Frozen strawberries grown in Egypt recalled because of hep A in Canada

For at least the third time in the last six years, people have gotten sick with hepatitis A after consuming strawberries – fresh or frozen — grown in Egypt.

A multistate outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) among European travellers returning from Egypt occurred between November 2012 and April 2013.

A total of 14 European Union (EU)-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries reported 107 cases. Twenty-one cases from six countries were affected by strains of sub-genotype IB harbouring identical RNA sequences, suggesting a common source outbreak.

In Sept. 2016, at least 89 were sickened in the U.S. with hepatitis A at Tropical Smoothie Cafés in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, linked to consumption of frozen strawberries from Egypt.

Now, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Groupe Adonis Inc. is recalling Montana brand frozen strawberries from the marketplace due to possible Hepatitis A contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.

The ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) transmitted an alert to the news media concerning the affected product. Please click on the following link for details: https://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/fr/Consommation/rappelsaliments/2018/04/Pages/3682.aspx (French only).

The following product has been sold exclusively from Adonis markets in Quebec and Ontario.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Montana Strawberry
(frozen)
1 kg All codes purchased on or before April 14, 2018 6222000401487

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor.

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

This recall was triggered by findings during an investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak.

CFIA won’t say how many are sick, that’s up to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

And vaccines work.

12 stricken with E. coli O157 in UK burgers linked to Sainsbury’s

A supermarket’s own brand of beef burgers have been recalled in fears that customers might be struck down with the E.coli bug, just before Christmas.

Sainsbury’s issued an urgent product recall after customers apparently fell ill after eating the Aberdeen British Beef burgers.

Public Health England (PHE) has linked a dozen cases of E.coli to the range and Sainsbury’s have cleared the product from their shelves. All the people that fell ill have all recovered, PHE have said.

The bug has been linked to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference ­Aberdeen Angus quarter-pounder burgers, 454g packets, which are sold in the frozen section.

The Food Standards Agency warned shoppers: “If you have bought any of the batches, do not eat them.”

Product: Taste the Difference 4 pack Aberdeen Angus British Beef Quarter Pounders (Frozen)

Pack size: 454g

Batches with ‘Best Before’ dates: July 2018, September 2018 and October 2018

Rapid detection of human norovirus in frozen raspberries

Raspberries have lately caused several human norovirus (HuNoV) outbreaks in Europe.

In this study, we developed and evaluated for HuNoV reverse transcription (RT)-PCR detection in frozen raspberries extraction methods that have equal sensitivity but are less time-consuming than widely used methods based on polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation and chloroform–butanol purification.

One method was applied to stored frozen raspberries linked to previous HuNoV outbreaks and berries on sale. In the virus elution-based Method 1, sparkling water eluted viruses most efficiently from the berries. Method 2, based on direct nucleic acid extraction with minor PEG supplement, yielded the highest number of positive findings (4 out of 9) at low virus concentration level of 100 genome copies HuNoV genogroup II per 25 g raspberries. Both methods showed approximately equal sensitivity to a method including PEG precipitation and chloroform–butanol purification. Two naturally contaminated berry samples linked to HuNoV outbreaks in 2006 and 2009 were still positive for HuNoV genogroup I, but all berry products purchased from a local store remained negative for HuNoV. In conclusion, this study presents two efficient and rapid methods which can be used in urgent HuNoV outbreak investigations, since the results of the virus analysis are available in a few hours.

Low levels of Salmonella may be associated with foodborne outbreaks

A significant data gap exists with respect to the levels of pathogens in foods implicated in foodborne outbreaks. These data are essential for the quantification of pathogen exposure via the ingestion of contaminated food.

Here we report the levels of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella in comminuted raw chicken products that had been breaded and then frozen. The products investigated were collected during four food safety investigations of foodborne outbreaks that occurred in Canada from 2014 to 2016. Most-probable-number (MPN) distribution analysis of the food samples revealed Salmonella levels of 0.0018 to 3 MPN/g, which is equivalent to 1 MPN per 0.33 to 556 g of product. These data suggest low levels of Salmonella may be associated with foodborne outbreaks.

Enumerative analysis of Salmonella in outbreak-associated breaded and frozen comminuted raw chicken products

Journal of Food Protection – May 2017

Angela Catford, Kyle Ganz, and Sandeep Tamber

http://www.jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-496?code=fopr-site

 

More hepatitis A: smoothie edition

Berries are a staple of my diet; I go through about 2 lbs a week of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. When the fresh berries are too expensive (or don’t look good) I substitute with frozen ones.

Frozen food is sometimes ready-to-eat. Sometimes not. Frozen berries likely haven’t been heat treated before the get to me and were almost certainly harvested by hand.

So I cook them before eating after the multiple noro and hep A outbreaks in the past few years. Even ones that go into smoothies.

According CBS6, hepatitis A cases linked to Egyptian strawberries served at Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Virginia have climbed to over 20.

There have been 23 confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Cafes across Virginia.

This includes four cases in Central Virginia.

There are seven is Northern Virginia, four in Northwest Virginia, and eight in the eastern region on the state.

The CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café said the strawberries in question were voluntarily removed from all stores when they learned of a possible link.

The VDH said they want anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant within the last 50 days to watch out for symptoms of hepatitis A.

McDonald’s tries fresh beef ‘An E. coli outbreak waiting to happen’

In 1982, E. coli O157:H7, was found to be responsible for outbreaks of human illness in Oregon and Michigan after customers at McDonald’s outlets ate contaminated hamburgers, the first outbreaks linked to Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

mclovin1-300x140McDonald’s changed the way it cooked burgers to largely eliminate the human element and instituted E. coli O157 testing of its suppliers and demanded continuous improvement.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes.

Robert Galbraith of Reuters reports that McDonald’s has been testing fresh, never-frozen beef patties at restaurants in Dallas.

Wall Street analysts have applauded the change, but some McDonald’s franchisees say it’s a food-safety disaster waiting to happen.

In a recent survey by Nomura, two dozen franchisees warned that introducing fresh beef patties nationwide would slow down service and expose the chain to new food contamination risks.

“I have major concerns over food safety and our lack of ability to serve a large number of customers quickly,” one franchisee wrote.

Another wrote, “If we do not handle the meat perfectly there is the opportunity for bacterial invasion of our product.”

One operator brought up the E. coli outbreak that affected 14 Chipotle restaurants across the country last fall, sending the chain’s sales plunging by as much as 30%.

“An uncaring employee [could end up] doing something that puts the entire system at risk,” the franchisee wrote. “We are the lightning rod. Chipotle will be a walk in the park if we have an incident.”

McDonald’s has long relied on an extensive network of suppliers who make, freeze, and ship beef patties to its more than 14,000 restaurants in the US.

mcdonalds-600x800Expanding the fresh beef test — which is currently limited to 14 restaurants in Dallas — would require big changes to its supply chain. The potential for foodborne illnesses is higher when uncooked meat is kept at a temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA.

At the restaurant level, it would be a “massive learning curve for our managers and crew,” one franchisee wrote. “No doubt the biggest change in McDonald’s history. Would be a huge distraction from our ‘turnaround.'”

In the same survey, many McDonald’s franchisees also acknowledged that fresh beef would help improve the fast-food chain’s public image.

“Faster cook times, juicier product, seared product versus stewed meat,” one franchisee wrote.

Another said, “Many customers perceive unfrozen to be better for you. Perception is everything.”

Twenty-seven domestic franchisees with approximately 199 stores participated in the Nomura survey, representing a small fraction of McDonald’s 14,000 stores in the US. 

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said last month that there isn’t currently a large enough supply of fresh beef to expand the test nationally but that the company could start expanding it gradually region by region.

 Easterbrook said a larger rollout wouldn’t require any major new equipment or expenses for franchisees.

The company just has a few small issues to work out through the test, such as finding the best system for storage and handling of the beef to avoid any cross-contamination of the fresh, uncooked meat with other food items.

“We are trying to figure out the best way to segregate equipment like spatulas and scrapers for the grill,” he said.