Someone I know posted this on Facebook today: carrots being sold from a truck

Names and locations have been changed to protect, uh, identities.


So many questions.

Where did the carrots come from? Where did they go? How was $20 arrived at as the price? Does this fit into someone’s food safety plan?

In unrelated news, CDC estimates that about half of the foodborne illness in the U.S. is attributed to produce.

Norovirus on NC State campus?

There’s for sure some norovirus in the Jaykus/NoroCORE lab, but NC State Student Health Center has a message on their website suggesting that there may be be some community illnesses as well. It’s even got it’s own Twitter handle, @WolfPackNoro.
The stomach bug or stomach flu (norovirus -ben), is on campus.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain/cramping, fever and / or headache. 10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n1-300x300
If you are experiencing these symptoms call 919-515-7107. 
The virus is spread by touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching your mouth, eating contaminated foods or drinks, and direct contact with stool or vomit while caring for a sick person. If you become sick, take care of yourself with:
▪Medications. This may include fever reducing, anti-nausea, and/or anti-diarrhea medicines.
▪Oral Rehydration. Sip only clear non caffeinated liquids, such as ginger ale, water, ice chips, sport drinks, broth soups.
▪Diet. Once liquids are tolerated eat a bland diet.  This would include crackers, noodles, rice, and toast, and limit dairy.  Advance your diet as tolerated.
▪IV Fluids, as needed. Prevention is key to staying well.  
Washing hands is the most important thing to do to prevent getting or spreading the infection.  Also, decontaminate surfaces and objects, such a computer keyboards, door handles, and steering wheels.
I’d add that alcohol-based hand sanitizer, a favorite tool in outbreaks, isn’t effective against human norovirus unless it’s (VF481) and to decontaminate with chlorine-based compounds (quaternary ammonia sanitizers also aren’t all that effective against noro.
Here are some infosheets about the virus.

‘Assuming the ingredients were really wheat, salt, eggs … hallucinations would not be common’ Three Kings Day bread linked to illnesses

There was a guy I went to high school with who often would take acid before biology class.

He didn’t do so well.

Last year Walmart was linked to an odd case of LSD-laced steak which reportedly caused a family of four (including a pregnant mom) to be hospitalized with hallucinations. According to the Orange County Register, over 30 people have experienced hallucinations this week after eating cake made by Cholula’s Bakery in Santa Ana (CA).nhw2t4-b88305087z.120150108185332000g9u7bdu1.10

Bakery cashier Fidelina Gutierrez ate some of the sweet bread being sold at La Bodega Ranch market in Orange in celebration of Three Kings Day.

It made her sick – but not with the symptoms most commonly associated with food poisoning.

“It felt as if I was in another dimension,” Gutierrez said. “I could feel it closing my throat. It was bad, bad, bad.”

On Thursday, health officials were still working to determine why the cake sickened Gutierrez and nearly 40 others earlier this week with heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness and hallucinatory thoughts – symptoms not typically induced by bacteria, a common trigger of food poisoning. 

“Assuming the ingredients were really wheat, salt, eggs, that sort of stuff, hallucinations would not be common. If you put LSD into something, you might see some of these symptoms,” said Dr. Carl Schultz, a professor of emergency medicine at UC Irvine.

Made with sweet bread, candied fruits and a small baby Jesus figurine inside, rosca de reyes cake is eaten on Jan. 6 to celebrate the Latin American holiday Three Kings Day, honoring the arrival of the three Wise Men.

Jeff Nelken, a Woodland Hills-based food safety consultant, speculated that chemicals on the Jesus figurine might have leeched into the cake. Either that, he said, or it was laced or an employee accidentally mistook a cleaning product or some other chemical for an ingredient.




No obvious links in Lexington North Carolina E. coli-like outbreak investigation: two with HUS

There are now three children in Lexington, NC showing symptoms consistent with a pathogenic E. coli infection. According to Fox 8, two of the children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, the primary cause of kidney failure in this age group. Lexington_NC_Welcome

The Lexington Dispatch reports that the pathogen hasn’t even been confirmed and Davidson County health officials say that links to any specific food, site or activity have not been made.

Jen Hames, Davidson County’s health education supervisor, said county and state officials are trying to determine the commonality between the cases.

“At this point, we can’t find a connection to anything,” Hames said.

The Tyro students are still being treated for symptoms associated with the infection, which often causes acute or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, severe abdominal cramps and low-grade fever.

Kirsti Clifford, a spokeswoman for the state department of health and human services, said lab tests did not confirm E. coli in the students. However, that could be due to the impact of the antibiotics the students are taking, which are designed to stop the bacteria from growing, Hames said.

It is curious as to why kids who are suspected of having a pathogenic E. coli were on antibiotics as they tend to lead to lysing of cells resulting in spreading the toxin and often worsen the symptoms.

Hawaii school linked to outbreak was warned of cooling practices in September

Relaying a violation or noncompliance on an audit or inspection form to a food business is only useful if they result in system or practice changes. Having some sort of a checklist is fine, but if no one learns from the audit/inspection, problems arise. Ignoring risk factors  highlighted by a verifier is an organizational values problem: the wrong folks are in managerial positions.pinoy-spaghetti-1024x683

According to the Honolulu Star Adviser, something organizational went wrong at Waipahu Elementary in Hawaii and led to foodborne intoxication in 30 kids. Improper cooling and handling of a pasta dish was pointed too by investigators, and a day later health officials revealed that a September 2013 inspection revealed risky practices – the exact same ones thought to cause the outbreak in December.

Health inspectors cited Waipahu Elementary on Sept. 18 for failing to properly reheat food, according to Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. The violation also had to do with preparing pasta noodles.

The inspection was part of a routine visit that health officials conduct once a semester.
Okubo said the school’s cafeteria staff was told how to correct the situation and instructed to follow proper time and temperature controls.

Less than three months later, more than 30 children and two adults fell ill after eating lunches prepared in the school’s cafeteria. Some 25 students were taken to area hospitals after experiencing dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and feeling clammy and sweaty.

Maybe it was the Arctic Enema? UK Tough Mudder race linked to at least three E. coli O157 cases

In preparation for a legendary Raleigh event, the Krispy Kreme Challenge, I started running last fall. The challenge is to run 2.5 miles, eat a dozen donuts, and then run an another 2.5 miles. All under an hour. I finished in 1hr 6min (and I didn’t barf). I ran with a few guys from my hockey team – and now a couple of them are moving on to another endurance event, The Tough Mudder in South Carolina.

From the organizer’s website, "Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.

Triathlons, marathons, and other lame-ass mud runs are more stressful than fun. Not Tough Mudder. As hardcore as our courses are, we meet you at the finish line with a beer, a laugh, and a rockin’ live band."

The site lists a set of obstacles with names like Arctic Enema, Dirty Ballerina and Kiss of Mud.

According to BBC, a Tough Mudder event last month in Scotland was linked to at least three cases of E. coli O157.

The trio developed symptoms in the days following the Tough Mudder event, which attracted almost 6,000 competitors to Drumlanrig Castle on 14 and 15 July.

Many of the assault course-style obstacles on the 12-mile run involved immersion in, or contact with, mud.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) said that, even more than three weeks after the event, further cases could not be ruled out.

HPS added: "If local authorities are made aware that such events are being planned, they would normally advise the organisers on any potential risks, which might for instance include the risk of mud being contaminated with animal faeces or slurry.

"This underlines the importance of event organisers liaising with local authorities during the planning stage, not least to consider what information participants need in order to enjoy ‘extreme’ activities as safely as possible."


Raleigh foodborne illnesses possibly tied to restaurant

Independent Weekly is reporting that at least eight cases of foodborne illness are being investigated and that they may be linked to a common restaurant.

The illnesses, reported April 17, may be connected to Evoo, a Mediterranean restaurant in Raleigh’s Five Points.

"We are currently investigating some reports of sickness," said André Pierce, director of the environmental health and safety division of the county’s environmental services department. "The investigation is ongoing and we don’t have any results yet."

The story goes on to say that according to Walt Fuller, deputy director in charge of operations at the Raleigh-Wake 911 Center,  shortly before 10 p.m the Center received an emergency call reporting that someone was ill at Evoo at 2519 Fairview Road.

One paramedic unit was dispatched at 9:50 p.m. and called for backup upon arriving at the scene, Fuller said. A second paramedic unit, a quick responder vehicle and a fire engine all responded. In all, nine rescuers attended victims at the restaurant.