Bugs and Salmonella in pistachios

Keeping with the small-town southern Ontario theme (that’s still in Canada) Chris Sperduti, 29, from Bolton (not to be confused with Beeton) grabbed a handful of pistachios and was shelling them when he came across something that turned his stomach.

There were bugs nested in two of the shells. He could see holes in the nuts where the bugs had eaten some of his snack.

Karen Martin-Robbins of the Caledon Enterprise writes the Bolton man contacted Walmart in Bolton – not so small anymore if it has a Walmart — where he bought the product — the company gave him his money back and a savings coupon for more pistachios.

They also told him that with agricultural produce, you can expect to get some insects.

He was even more grossed out by that.

“When I’m eating pistachios, I expect to be eating pistachios. Not bugs,” he said.

Then, he went to Costco to buy his pistachios.

He found three more bugs in his first handful.

A quantitative risk assessment of human salmonellosis from consumption of pistachios in the United States

Journal of Food Protection vol. 81 no. 6




We developed a quantitative risk assessment model to assess the risk of human nontyphoidal salmonellosis from consumption of pistachios in the United States and to evaluate the impact of Salmonella treatments (1- to 5-log reductions). The exposure model estimating prevalence and contamination levels of Salmonella at consumption included steps in pistachio processing such as transport from grower to huller, removal of the hull through wet abrasion, separation of pistachio floaters (immature, smaller nuts) and sinkers (mature, larger nuts) in a flotation tank, drying, storage, and partitioning. The risks of illness per serving and per year were evaluated by including a Salmonella dose-response model and U.S. consumption data. The spread of Salmonella through float tank water, delay in drying resulting in growth, increased Salmonella levels through pest infestation during storage (pre- and posttreatment), and a simulation of the 2016 U.S. salmonellosis outbreak linked to consumption of pistachios were the modeled atypical situations.

The baseline model predicted one case of salmonellosis per 2 million servings (95% CI: one case per 5 million to 800,000 servings) for sinker pistachios and one case per 200,000 servings (95% CI: one case per 400,000 to 40,000 servings) for floater pistachios when no Salmonella treatment was applied and pistachios were consumed as a core product (>80% pistachio) uncooked at home. Assuming 90% of the pistachio supply is sinkers and 10% is floaters, the model estimated 419 salmonellosis cases per year (95% CI: 200 to 1,083 cases) when no Salmonella treatment was applied. A mean risk of illness of less than one case per year was estimated when a minimum 4-log reduction treatment was applied to the U.S. pistachio supply, similar to the results of the Salmonella risk assessment for almonds. This analysis revealed that the predicted risk of illness per serving is higher for all atypical situations modeled compared with the baseline, and delay in drying had the greatest impact on consumer risk.

Restaurant closed due to a cockroach infestation

I have always been curious to see what others thought on the following:
How many chances should the Health Department give a food service/retail establishment that has been chronically shut down before permanently having their business license rescinded?
I’m not talking about the minor violations that are encountered during a routine inspection, more of the deliberate critical infractions that can severely impact public health. As practicing food safety professionals, where do we draw the line? Inspections are a snap shop in time and food safety resonates upon behaviors for positive change. But what do we do with those select few places that simply don’t care and abide by the mentality that if I am fined, well it’s the cost of doing business? I’ve heard this and I’m sure others have as well. I would love to hear what Barfblog readers have to say regarding this matter.

A vile cockroach-infested restaurant has been shut down after revolting insects were discovered throughout the dilapidated building.
The pests were found hiding in the fridge door seal, preventing it from closing properly, and crawling around exposed foods, food containers and over kitchen surfaces.
Guildford Magistrates’ Court heard stomach-turning evidence of how owner Amjad Parvez Butt had been seen coughing over food, then failing to use soap when washing his hands.
Mr Butt was charged with seven counts of food safety and hygiene regulations contravention, all of which he pleaded guilty to.
Under routine inspection on June 27 last year, an environmental health officer from Rushmoor Borough Council visited the Lali Gurash Nepalese restaurant in Aldershot.
In the initial report, read to the court on Wednesday (February 14), the officer said: “When I arrived, I witnessed Mr Butt coughing while preparing food – he then washed his hands without using soap.”
The general first impression was that Mr Butt was not preparing food safely and an in depth inspection began.
After examining the fridge, it became apparent the door would not close properly due to a number of cockroaches living within the door seal.
The officer also noticed the building had structural damage, including a hole in the wall, through which clear daylight could be seen and gaps in the flooring near the waste pipes.
Further evidence of insect activity was discovered in the basement, around food preparation areas and in the proximity of exposed onions and potatoes.
During the inspection it also became apparent that Mr Butt had not been filling in the mandatory safer food, better business (SFBB) checks that RBC enforces, with the last entry filed more than five weeks prior to the visit.
The restaurant was closed and Mr Butt was ordered to arrange for a pest control team to install traps throughout the building.
A few days later, officers returned to discover a full life cycle of cockroaches in the traps, indicating that they had been present in the area for a minimum of six weeks.
Officers consistently monitored the progress of the restaurant until July 20, when, in the absence of any infestation, it was deemed acceptable for re-opening.
During the scheduled three-month re-visit, Mr Butt was asked to produce his SFBB documents, which he was unable to do, and the restaurant was once again closed.
In court, with the assistance of a translator, he explained that he was unable to read and write and claimed that his daughter was going to complete the checks for him but was away on holiday at the time.
The 53-year-old said: “When I first noticed the cockroaches I bought some spray and contacted pest control but they never got back to me.
“When I was told to close the restaurant and destroy the food, I did.
“I have lost a lot of profit and it is the first time this has happened – I ask for forgiveness.”

The rest of the story can be found here

Restaurant politics: UK protesters throw live insects into burger joints

Cockroaches, locusts and crickets were released into two Byron Hamburger restaurants in the United Kingdom as part of a protest against the chain’s role in an immigration swoop which saw dozens of its workers rounded up.

byron.burgers.insectsActivists said they released thousands of insects into two of the burger chain’s London restaurants on Friday evening.

They accused Byron of carrying out “underhand entrapment” of its workers after 35 people were removed by immigration officials earlier in July.

London Black Revs & Malcolm X Movement said in a joint Facebook statement on Saturday they had taken “affirmative action” in response to the chain’s “despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Border Agency”.

“Many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets into these restaurants.

“We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their families from such dehumanised treatment,” it continued.

Muesli recalled in UK

I usually begin my day about 3 a.m. (Australian time, that’s 1 p.m. EST) with a review of news, a couple of interviews, and a bowl of homemade granola (I use Alton Brown’s recipe), yogurt, and frozen berries that had been microwaved the night before and then sat in the fridge overnight to reduce the risk of hepatitis A.

doug.granolaAnd a banana.

Cow & Gate in the UK is recalling one batch of its Sunny Start My First Banana Muesli from 10 months on a precautionary basis because of complaints regarding insects found in the product. The company has advised that this product should not be consumed, in case other packs in the batch are affected.

I also like to begin my day with music while I write, and today in 1971, Pink Floyd released Meddle, a vastly underrated album but one that showed the potential of an evolving band that led to Dark Side of the Moon in 1972.

Flies, worms and crickets crawl onto EU policymakers’ menu

Houseflies, crickets and silkworms can be safe, nutritious and more environmentally friendly alternatives to chicken, beef or pork, research carried out for the European Commission finds.
the.flyStill, they are less likely to be found on European restaurant menus than in animal feed, carefully controlled to prevent the kind of prions, or abnormal proteins, blamed for mad cow disease.

The Commission, the EU executive, is working on revised legislation on novel foods, after a previous proposal failed because of opposition to animal cloning.

It asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to research the safety of eating insects.

In a scientific opinion published on Thursday, EFSA said the use of insects as a source of food and feed potentially had important environmental, economic and food security benefits.

Farming of insects can lead to lower emissions of greenhouse gases and ammonia than cattle or pigs and higher efficiency in converting feed to protein, the report said.

Tastes like chicken: Insects set to appear on Swiss plates

Crickets, locusts and mealworms could be on Swiss menus and supermarket shelves next year, after being given the green light by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

insects.foodHowever, the range of insects on offer is currently limited to these three species because of protein allergies and production conditions.

A consultation period on commercializing the consumption of insects runs until October.

At present, a permit is required to serve up insects, as has already been done at museum nights or at a buffet in parliament last year where politicians were served mealworm hamburgers, cricket rissoles and grasshopper mousse. Feedback was by and large positive.

The authorization of insects as food is part of a comprehensive revision of the Swiss food law.

On Monday the Food Safety and Veterinary Office announced a paradigm shift: all food should be allowed which is safe and corresponds to the law.

Until now it was the other way around: all food that was not explicitly mentioned in the law needed a permit. For example, a milk fat product that doesn’t contain enough milk to be turned into butter will in future no longer need a permit – although it still won’t be able to be sold as butter.

Marshals seize foods overrun with rats and bugs at Washington facility

In the first seizure of food subject to an U.S. Food and Drug Administration detention order under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, U.S. Marshals seized food products held at the food storage and processing facility of Dominguez Foods of Washington, Inc., in Zillah, Wash., on Sept. 30, 2011.

The seized products had been subject to a detention order issued by FDA on Sept. 2, 2011, following an FDA inspection of the facility that found evidence of widespread and active rodent and insect infestation in the facility’s warehouse and processing area.

During their inspection of the Dominguez Foods facility, FDA investigators observed rodent droppings and urine stains on and around food products, rodent gnawed containers of food, a rodent nesting site, and one dead rodent in the warehouse, as well as live and dead insects in, on, and around food products. The investigators took immediate action, issuing a detention order covering all of the food in the facility not in hermetically sealed containers at the end of their inspection.

In a complaint filed Sept. 29, 2011, the United States alleged that the detained food was adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) due to the conditions in the warehouse documented during FDA’s inspection. The complaint asked the Court to issue a warrant of arrest for the products, which directed the U.S. Marshals to seize the products, and requested that the Court condemn and forfeit the food to the United States. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued a warrant of arrest for the products the same day.

“FDA will not hesitate to take immediate steps to protect the public’s health,” said Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “We will aggressively use our enforcement tools to prevent adulterated food from reaching the public.”

Flying insects are ‘shrimps of the sky’ will be on EU menus

 European Union types in Brussels believe that insects could be a vital source of nutrition that will not only solve food shortages but also help save the environment, so they have launched a €3 million ($3.99 million) project to promote the eating of insects.

Proponents of entomophagy – insect eating – argue that bugs are a low-cholesterol, low-fat, protein-rich food source. According to one study, small grasshoppers offer 20 per cent protein and just 6 per cent fat, to lean ground beef’s 24 per cent protein and 18 per cent fat.

Crickets are also said to be high in calcium, termites rich in iron, and a helping of giant silkworm moth larvae apparently provides all the daily copper and riboflavin requirements.

The European Commission is offering the money to the research institute with the best proposal for investigating ”insects as novel sources of proteins”. It wants research into quality and safety, including potential allergic reactions and the sort of proteins consumed.

Professor Marcel Dicke, leading a team at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, which is applying for the research grant, said: ”By 2020, you will be buying insects in supermarkets. We will be amazed that in 2011 people didn’t think it was going to happen.

He said bugs were biologically similar to shellfish and that flying insects should be regarded as ”shrimps of the sky.”

Todd Dalton, of Edible, which supplies insects for human consumption to Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, said: ”The EU is wasting taxpayers’ money. People aren’t suddenly going to start eating insects because the EU is spending money researching. It would be great if they did, but our eating habits won’t change until our stigma about consuming insects is removed.”

Arby’s condiments and insects

Evan Mitchell, another ex-pat Canadian living in Manhattan (Kansas) writes that last night, he and the wife had a biological urge …  for something cold (Kansas is humid in the summer).

Our house is within walking distance of Arby’s, and with their current “happier-hour” promotion (50% off all drinks), we couldn’t resist. After receiving our shakes, we needed straws which where located by the condiment stand. It was at this time that we almost barfed and our perceived hour of happiness was no longer happy.

Arby’s has a killer condiment stand. For no extra cost, one could triple pickle their roast beef melt; a true American deal that doesn’t exist in Canada. Although I’m a fan of sharing such luxuries with others, part of the ‘go green’ and don’t waste philosophy, I limit that selection to members of the human race; that means no bugs. The containers of pickles, peppers, onions, lettuce, olives, etc., were all occupied by little feasting winged insects. Although eating from a dish that has been uncovered and exposed to however many other bodily fluids (and stuff) in a day is gross, I was still disgusted and a little mortified by the sight.

Arby’s, that was gross.

Antenna in your mocha latte?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of Food Action Defect Levels in the Code of Federal Regulations "to establish maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no health hazard."

A local news station in Michigan got hold of this list and started asking people on the street how they felt about the number of bug parts allowed in their coffee and the amount of rodent "excreta" tolerated in their chocolate.

My local news station in Wichita, Kansas, broadcast their story Tuesday while I shook my head and chuckled. There were a lot of interesting faces as people looked from their cup to the list and back again.

In the end, I got the impression that the public is okay with a few bug parts (and laugh about getting the extra protein), but won’t stand for the poop.

We here at barfblog.com continually advocate keeping as much poop out of food as possible, and proudly wear our t-shirts that declare, "don’t eat poop" with a message about handwashing on the back.

But I’m not crazy. I realize, like the FDA (not the USDA, as asserted in the story, which primarily regulates only meat and poultry products), that it’s virtually impossible to keep the entire (non-meat and -poultry) food supply 100% poop-free. Therefore, I’m glad there are regulations in place to reduce the microbial risks associated with that poop. (The poop that got into the peanuts at the Peanut Corp. of America plant violated those regs.)

I’m just saying… some poop happens. Risks that cannot be eliminated can, and should, be controlled. Responsible, informed producers and consumers do this every day with tools like the FDA Defect Action Level Handbook and tip-sensitive digital meat thermometers.

Do your part: wash your hands and stick it in.