Atlanta café sucks at handwashing

Multiple food prep employees at Saigon Cafe in Buford were only rinsing their hands briefly in cold water while prepping food during a recent inspection, leading to a failing health score.

buford.t.justiceThe Gwinnett County health inspector said another employee touched raw beef with gloved hands, then took off the gloves to handle ready-to-eat foods but didn’t wash his hands to ensure they were free of contaminants.

The inspector said there was no managerial control over food safety at the restaurant. Saigon Cafe, 3380 Buford Drive, scored 44/U on the routine inspection. Previous scores were 85/B and 80/B.

Points were also taken off because improper cooling methods were being used for potentially hazardous foods. Cooked chicken, pork and chicken broth were all discarded because they had not cooled sufficiently in the time allowed.

Several items in coolers were not separated to prevent contamination. Unwashed fruits and vegetables were not separated from the ready-to-eat foods, and loosely wrapped packages of raw pork spring rolls and vegetable spring rolls were stacked together.

Animals poop in water: Georgia’s rural landscapes pose potential risk for Salmonella infection

Researchers from the University of Georgia have determined that various freshwater sources in Georgia, such as rivers and lakes, could feature levels of salmonella that pose a risk to humans. The study is featured in the July edition of PLOS One.

raccoon3Faculty and students from four colleges and five departments at UGA partnered with colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health to establish whether or not strains of salmonella exhibit geographic trends that might help to explain differences in rates of human infection.

“In this study, salmonella isolated from water and wildlife were collected over a period of 10 years from distinct rural areas in Georgia, both geographically–north versus south–and in terms of prevalence of salmonellosis in humans–lower versus higher. Because Georgia has some of the highest case rates for reported salmonella infections in the nation, this was an ideal area to begin to examine the ecology of salmonella,” said study co-author Erin Lipp, a professor of environmental health sciences in the UGA College of Public Health.

Salmonella infections are one of the top causes of gastrointestinal disease in the U.S., and while regulatory agencies have made progress in reducing foodborne transmission of the pathogen, other infection sources, including exposure to water, have not been as thoroughly examined.

To complete this research, the scholars collected samples from two different geographic regions of Georgia–the low-lying coastal plain and the piedmont, which is higher in elevation. Data was collected from six stations in the Little River watershed near Tifton, which has one of the highest case rates for salmonellosis in the state, and along the North Oconee River in Jackson County, a lower case rate area in Georgia. Water samples from all sites were gathered from December 2010 to November 2011. Samples from surrounding wildlife were also collected, and archived samples from these areas dating back to 2005 were also included.

Most significantly, the research team found that water sources could be an underestimated source of salmonella exposure to humans. Though the frequency that salmonella was found in north and south Georgia was similar, salmonella strains with DNA fingerprints matching those found in humans were more commonly found in south Georgia.

Specifically, rural areas of south Georgia had matches between the environment and humans at the 90 percent rate for salmonella Muenchen, a strain commonly associated with human cases. The researchers also found that wildlife, especially small mammals like raccoons and opossums frequenting these freshwater sources, could be carriers of the salmonella pathogen.

“Salmonella is a highly diverse and apparently well-adapted bacterium in the Southeastern U.S., and environmental exposures may be important in understanding and eventually mitigating risk from this agent,” Lipp said.

By studying how salmonella interacts with its environment, the UGA team hopes to gain a better understanding of how it can be controlled. They are interested in continuing their work on this issue by further examining the linkage between animals, humans and their shared environments to determine how the bacteria moves through various host organisms. The researchers also hope to explore the impact of different variables in salmonella’s physical environment, such as the role of climate and weather.

The study is available online at

Georgia restaurant needs more training on food safety

The health score of the Silver Dragon in Conyers dropped 50 points during a recent routine inspection, and the inspector said management and employees needed additional training on food safety codes.

silver.dragonRaw meats were not being handled with care to prevent contamination. For example, raw chicken and raw beef were thawing inside the same container with juices co-mingling. The Rockdale County inspector said different meats should be kept separate because they have different cook temperatures. Putting them together risks cross-contamination.

Other raw meats were also thawing incorrectly. Raw chicken was in the vegetable sink. Some raw frozen meat was left on the prep table to thaw at room temperature. It was placed in the meat sink under running water.

Silver Dragon, 1889 Highway 138, Conyers, scored 47/U, a steep drop from previous scores of 96/A and 95/A.

Points were also taken off because employees were not following hand-washing procedures. One was observed washing hands without soap. Another washed hands in the dish sink. Two of the employee hand sinks were filled with dishes, scoops, utensils and pieces of wood.


Gray steaks disposed in Georgia restaurant inspection

Some of the steaks at Nicky’s Diner in east Cobb County were gray and in such poor condition that a health inspector had them discarded during a recent routine inspection.

nicky's.dinerThe inspector also recommended more staff training in food safety for the diner at 4751 Sandy Plains Road, Roswell. Among other code violations, there were open bags of brown gravy, grits, sugar and rice, all subject to contamination.

Nicky’s Diner failed the inspection with a 52/U. The restaurant had previous health scores of 92/A and 80/B.

According to the inspection report, employees were using the wrong thermometers to check the temperature of items on the food line. Probes that measure thin foods were needed, but the restaurant did not have this type of thermometer, the inspector said.

Some hot food items were not being held at safe temperatures.

Jury won’t consider deaths in Georgia Salmonella trial

A jury weighing criminal charges Thursday against the owner of a Georgia peanut plant blamed for a nationwide salmonella outbreak five years ago will decide the case without hearing one fact — that nine people died after eating the company’s tainted peanut butter.

peanutFormer Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two co-defendants have been on trial since Aug. 1 and the jury started deliberations last Friday. Parnell and his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, are charged with knowingly shipping contaminated peanut butter to customers and faking lab tests intended to screen for salmonella.

Prosecutor Patrick Hearn, in his closing argument Friday, said Parnell and his co-defendants were greedy enough “to toss food safety to the wind.” But he stopped short of describing the outbreak’s full consequences.

“They served up salmonella to people and they ate it,” Hearn said. “This needs to never happen again.”

Why not tell the jury of the deaths? The Parnell brothers aren’t charged with killing or sickening anybody.

Instead, prosecutors decided they could build a stronger case charging them with defrauding their customers — food producers including Kellogg’s — and selling them tainted goods, said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of Georgia’s Middle District, whose office tried the case.

“We wanted to make sure we kept the jury focused on the conduct that led to these people’s sickness, but not let the case get into the medical history of every victim out there” with testimony on individual deaths, Moore said.

Fundraiser held for 6-year-old Georgia girl stricken with E. coli

A gun club aims to help a Cherokee County girl, sick with E. coli.

Seven-year-old Hannah Faith Collett is battling serious complications from a severe E. coli infection. Fundraisers have been mounted to help Hannah.faith_-300x168offset the family’s medical bills.  Her stepfather serves as a deputy for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

Today, Armed American Ladies hosts a Poker Shoot & Bake sale at Big Woods Goods on Ronnel Road in Canton.  Proceeds will be donated to Hannah’s family.  The grand prize is a Mossberg 500 shotgun.

6-year-old girl in critical condition after contracting E. coli in Georgia

A 6-year-old Canton girl is in a fight for her life.

Hannah Faith is battling a serious E. coli infection and is in critical condition.

Hannah.faithA friend of the family told Channel 2 Action News that Hannah has been in the hospital for more than a week fighting to get better.

Her parents say what started out as a seemingly normal stomach bug, progressed into a life threatening condition. Hannah’s family also said she had a complication and was sedated.

The 6-year-old was on a ventilator Thursday and is undergoing dialysis.

Georgia bill seeks raw milk in grocery stores

From the dumbass files, Georgia legislators recently decided to continue the practice of making available the confederate flag license plate. With 439 purchased between 2012 and 2013, it’s probably not worth getting into ramifications of free speech versus civil rights, but it sorta matters.

Similarly, a bill filed by Rep. Scot Turner, a Holly Springs Republican, would allow grocery stores to sell unpasteurized milk, confederate.flag.platepitting the freedom of choice for a few against the public health of the many.

It sorta matters.

Currently, unprocessed milk may only be legally sold in Georgia for pet consumption.

Despite that, some say they bypass grocery stores and buy milk directly from farmers because they like knowing where the milk they’re drinking comes from and that the product is pure.

Raw milk consumers say allowing grocery stores to begin selling unpasteurized milk would likely give way to regulations that would change the quality of the products and interfere with the relationships between farmers and consumers.

“Regulation is always tilted toward big agriculture, not small farms,” said Cindy Morrow, of Woodstock. “I don’t mind taking the ‘risk’ with food. I do have a problem with big government.” Morrow said she usually pays between $7 and $8 per gallon for unprocessed milk when she meets with a local farmer.

Turner said he considers the proposal as a way of putting power back in the hands of consumers.

The full story has numerous nosestretchers.

Iced tea? 18 now sick with E. coli O157 from Georgia BBQ Shack; 5 HUS

Public health officials are investigating iced tea among other menu items at a Stephens County barbecue restaurant as the possible source of a major E. coli outbreak that has sickened as many as 18 people.

OnlineAthens reports 11 people have been confirmed to have E. coli infection, and seven others are probable cases, though their illness has not been confirmed by lab results, state glasses-of-iced-teaofficials say.

“The risk is gone,” said Nancy Nydam, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health.

“We are looking at everything on the menu,” Nydam said Friday.

Investigators are looking at the possibility of cross contamination.

Cherie Drenzek, state epidemiologist at Public Health said public health officials learned of the outbreak after a DPH epidemiology surveillance officer noticed a cluster of E. coli cases — four patients in one week — in lab reports from the Stephens County Hospital.

The Stephens County Health Department had also received complaints about the BBQ Shack after some customers reported being ill after eating at the restaurant.

Public health investigators interviewed all the patients who were sick, as well as some diners who ate at the restaurant but did not become ill, tracking them down using credit card receipts. Food samples and environmental swabs taken from the restaurant on May 16 tested negative for any pathogens.

The restaurant is cooperating in the probe, public health officials said.

7 sick; apparent E. coli outbreak in Georgia

Seven cases of E. coli-related illness have been reported recently in the Stephens County area, public health officials said.

Georgia Department of Public Health District 2 spokesman Dave Palmer told the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIndependent Mail the cases all have appeared in the past couple of weeks.

“At this time, we know that it is the most common type of E. coli we see, and it is not uncommon for us to see cases of E. coli,” Palmer said. “But to see a large number like this, it is a little uncommon.”

Officials are investigating the cases.