Just cook it doesn’t cut it: Salmonella in veal liver, Quebec

Salmonella enterica is one of the principal causes of foodborne zoonotic enteritis. Among the different serovars, Dublin (S. Dublin) is of particular importance due to its propensity to progress to an invasive infection in humans and due to the high proportion of multi-drug resistant strains in Canada.

Cattle are considered as the main reservoir of S. Dublin. This serotype has emerged since 2011 in the province of Quebec, Canada, in both cattle and human populations. First animal cases have been reported in calf production.

White veal are valued for the quality of their meat, offal and liver. The liver is usually consumed mildly cooked and is considered as a probable source of foodborne exposure to S. Dublin in humans. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of S. Dublin positive liver after slaughtering and the seroprevalence against S. Dublin at the calf level.

Prevalence of salmonella Dublin in veal liver in Quebec, Canada from a public health perspective, February 2019

International Journal of Infectious Diseases vol. 79 pg. 75

C.M. Andela Abessolo, P. Turgeon, P. Fravalo, G. Côté, G. Eyaba, W.P. Thériault, J. Arsenault

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2018.11.191


Campy in NZ: Just cook it still don’t cut it

The New Zealand Government is, according to the Herald, reviewing what a public health expert calls disgraceful levels of a dangerous bacteria in chicken.

campy.chickenNearly a third of carcasses examined as part of the Ministry of Primary Industries’ testing regime in the first half of last year were contaminated by campylobacter, the most common cause of foodborne illness in New Zealand, documents released under the Official Information Act reveal.

That is down from almost half of those tested in 2007, when new regulations were introduced to control the bug. But Otago University Public Health professor Michael Baker said the contamination levels were unacceptable.

“The industry has always argued that, ‘well, the consumer’s got to be responsible and cook it properly’, but most people don’t realize that raw chicken is about the most hazardous thing you can bring into your kitchen,” he told the Herald on Sunday.

“Most foods have bacteria on them, that’s just a fact of life. But there are some pathogens that we can’t cope with and campylobacter is one of them.”

Health ministry figures showed at least 6,837 people suffered from the illness in 2013. It also results in several deaths most years.

Former Green Party co-leader Rod Donald died in November 2005 of a heart infection after a bout of campylobacter. The source of the food poisoning was never proven.

Ministry for Primary Industries’ production and processing manager Sharon Wagener confirmed the department was reviewing chicken processing regulations to see what improvements could be made.

Wagener pointed out that the bacteria were easily killed by correct cooking so people had nothing to worry about if they cooked the meat properly.

“We’re not putting the onus totally on the consumer, we’re working with the producers to try to get [campylobacter levels] as low as possible,” she said.

Baker said it was disgraceful that campylobacter was still able to cause such mayhem. The main issue was cross-contamination, for which there were multiple opportunities from slaughter to the dinner table.

“Every week there are thousands of people making mistakes and there will be dozens of cases,” he said.

Although it was impossible to eliminate campylobacter from chicken, there needed to be far lower limits on the number of contaminated chickens and the levels of contamination, Baker said.

UK supermarkets named and shamed over Campylobacter on chicken contamination

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the cumulative results from the first two quarters of its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens.

FunkyChickenHiIndividual results by major retailer have also been published.

Retailers aren’t happy.

One of the companies that has helped develop a way to flash freeze the surface of birds to kill campylobacter bacteria after slaughter, Bernard Matthews, said that retailers had been resistant to the extra cost, which is about 4-5p per bird.

However, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Asda and Sainsbury’s all told the Guardian they were supporting the trials of technology which rapidly chills or steams the surface of a chicken to significantly reduce levels of campylobacter.

Tesco said it would be helping to fund a full-scale trial of rapid chill technology with one of its suppliers from January to test feasibility on a commercial scale.

Andrew Large, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, which represents the largest producers and processors, said the industry was focusing on about 10 measures that looked promising, but he warned that there was “no silver bullet” to end campylobacter contamination.

The results to date show:

18% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter above the highest level of contamination

70% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter

6% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter with only one sample at the highest level of contamination (>1,000 cfu/g)

chicken* Above 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

In total, 1,995 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens have now been tested, with packaging also tested for most of these samples. Data show variations between retailers but none are meeting the end-of-production target for reducing campylobacter.

This 12-month survey, running from February 2014 to February 2015, will test 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers.

Campylobacter is killed by thorough cooking; however it is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year. Poultry is the source of the majority of these cases.

But-just-cook-it doesn’t cut it and fails to account for cross-contamination.

In response, a number of retailers have introduced ‘roast in the bag’ chickens which help limit cross-contamination by minimizing the handling of the raw chicken in the home.

The FSA advises that the data for individual retailers have to be interpreted carefully. Confidence intervals are given for each retailer and the ‘others’ category. These show the likely range of the results allowing for the number of samples taken.

At this half-way stage in the survey the results show, taking the confidence intervals into account, that Tesco is the only one of the main retailers which has a lower incidence of chicken contaminated with campylobacter at the highest level (>1,000 cfu/g), compared to the industry average. Asda is the only main retailer which has a higher incidence of chicken that is contaminated by campylobacter at the highest level, compared to the industry average. However, the results suggest that none of the retailers is achieving the joint industry end-of-production target for reducing campylobacter.

chicken.thermAnd what FSA chicken advice would be complete without a recommendation to  “make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.”

This is ridiculous advice from a supposedly science-based agency: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Meanwhile, The Guardian revealed this week that Tim Smith, the former boss of the FSA who left the regulator to become a director of Tesco, is said to have contacted a senior official in the Department of Health in June to warn that the FSA’s plans could provoke a major food scare, in an apparent breach of the terms approved by David Cameron for his move to industry.

And Tim Lang, a professor of food policy at London’s City University, told The Guardian the results are schocking and that “public should refuse to buy poultry until this is sorted out. This is a public health scandal easily on a par to those of the 1980s and 1990s and reminds me of the outrage over food adulteration and contamination in the mid 19th century. Have we really sunk back to that level?”

Dear British public, be outraged, act, withhold your money until you can have confidence in what you consume. This may not be orthodox public health strategy but it is definitely what history shows works when standards are as dire as these results show them to be.

Campylobacter in UK: Just cook it still doesn’t cut it

The British Poultry Council (BPC) told The Grocer that media reports that supermarkets are knowingly selling chickens contaminated with Campylobacter may mislead consumers, and that “cooking it properly and observing good kitchen hygiene” will take care of the problem.

album-Rolling-Stones-Let-It-BleedIt’s easy to blame consumers. What are producers doing to reduce risk?

An article in today’s (19 November) The Times cited BPC data that showed 24% of a randomly tested sample of 5,000 batches of chicken had tested positive for the highest levels of campylobacter contamination.

The results were similar to those revealed in August in  the first batch of quarterly results from a 12-month survey currently being undertaken by the FSA on the prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chickens and their packaging. The FSA survey showed 16% of birds at the highest level of contamination of more than 1000 colony forming units per gram, and 26% at between 100 and 1000 cfu/g.

BPC CEO Andrew Large said The Times article was based on a small sample of testing, designed to assist members of the Joint Working Group on Campylobacter in their operations.

“As the data is neither comprehensive nor statistically robust, it will not be useful for consumers and risks being misleading,” he warned, adding: “Consumers have a key role to play as good kitchen hygiene will remain a cornerstone of preventing foodborne illness.”

A spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium said, “As long as campylobacter is present in the food chain, and we don’t yet have the solution for that despite our best efforts. We need to maintain the very strong message that all raw chicken should be handled with appropriate care and releasing incomplete data could dilute that message to consumers and lead to confusion.”

The FSA will next week issue the second set of quarterly results of its campylobacter survey, when it will also name-and-shame” retailers with the worst record for campylobacter-contaminated poultry.

Spin away.

(And this is from the last time I saw the Stones, in 1981; didn’t need to go again in Brisbane the other night.)

Recalled frozen food may have ended up in US schools

The just-cook-it gang strikes again, saying school foods may be safer than those purchased by individuals because they are more likely to be well cooked, all the while ignoring the enhanced risk of cross-contamination in these larger schools.

Mary Clare Jalonick of the Associated Press writes that hundreds of thousands of pounds of frozen food recalled amid an E. coli O121 outbreak young.guns.regulatorsthat may have been served in schools, according to the company that manufactured the items.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp. has over the past two weeks recalled 10 million pounds of frozen food items after 27 E. coli illnesses in 15 states were linked to their foods. Of that, the company estimates that about 3 million pounds may still be in the marketplace and approximately 300,000 pounds may have ended up in school lunchrooms, a company spokesman said.

Dwight Gram of Rich Products said the main items shipped to schools were labeled as pizza dippers and pepperoni pizzatas.

E. coli infection can cause mild diarrhea or more

Health officials have so far directly linked the outbreak strain to two different Farm Rich brand products — frozen mini pizza slices and frozen chicken quesadillas. Samples of the strain of E. coli were collected from those products in the Texas and New York homes of two people who became ill.

It’s not clear yet whether any illnesses are linked to foods shipped to the schools.

Rich Products two weeks ago announced a voluntary recall of certain Farm Rich and Market Day brand products because of the possible E. coli contamination. Last week, the company expanded that recall to include everything made at its Waycross, Ga. plant — a total of 10 million pounds of food. Products manufactured at other plants weren’t affected.

At least one school district has already warned parents that food served in its cafeterias was recalled because of possible E. coli contamination.

A spokeswoman for Harford County, Md. schools said last week that Rich Products had notified the district that it had recalled its pepperoni pizzatas. Some of the food had already been served in cafeterias.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports a total of 27 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from 15 states;

• 81% of ill persons are 21 years of age or younger;

• 35% of ill persons have been hospitalized;

• two ill people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, and no deaths have been reported.

24 sick; just cook it is bad advice; FDA orders massive recall

The just-cook-it company has just been told to recall all of its frozen food after an E. coli O121 outbreak linked to the New York plant has sickened at least 24 people.

JoNel Aleccia at NBC News reports that Rich Products Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y., is pulling pepperoni pizzas, mozzarella bites, Philly Farm-Rich-Pizza-Slices-recall-jpgcheese steaks and a host of other products with best buy dates from Jan. 1, 2013 through Sept. 29, 2014.

Seven people have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, many more people may have been sickened by the products but not yet know it because of complexities involved in identifying  E. coli O121, a strain that can be just as dangerous as the better-known E. coli O157:H7 frequently tied to outbreaks caused by hamburger.

The New York state Department of Health identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 in an opened package of Farm Rich brand frozen mini chicken and cheese quesadillas from an ill person’s home, the CDC said.

Why didn’t they find more? One in five UK chickens contaminated with campy; just cook it say lobbyists

One in five supermarket chickens is contaminated with campylobacter, according to an investigation – spurring claims of "scaremongering" by a retail consortium.

The study involved poultry bought from nine of the UK’s major supermarkets by the Which? consumer group.

As well as 18% of the samples containing campylobacter, 17% of them were contaminated with listeria, with salmonella present in 1.5% of the 192 chickens tested.

Whole chickens and chicken portions – standard, free range and organic, and all reared in the UK – were tested.

Sky News contacted all nine of the supermarkets tested in the survey. Most of them referred us to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The BRC’s food director Andrew Opie said: "Which? is scaremongering. Campylobacter is completely killed by normal cooking so providing people prepare chicken properly and follow sensible hygiene practices they’re at no risk."

There’s always a risk; especially with cross-contamination in home and food service kitchens.

In 2009, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) found (in a similar but not directly comparable test) that 65% of chickens were contaminated with campylobacter at the point of sale.

FSA said that tackling campylobacter was a “key issue” but warned that, despite the reduction in contamination, seasonal variations made it difficult to assess the merits of the decline.

Campylobacter was responsible for over 371,000 cases of food poisoning, including 88 deaths in the UK in 20009.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "We want to see the risk of contamination minimised at every stage of production, because for far too long consumers have been expected to clean up mistakes made earlier in the supply chain."

British Poultry Council chief executive Peter Bradnock said: "This report makes it clear that chicken is a safe and healthy product when properly cooked. These welcome findings show a big reduction in campylobacter presence on chicken, demonstrating the effectiveness of the biosecurity measures being taken by producers and processors against this naturally occurring bacteria."

Lidl issued a separate statement to Sky News saying: "All farms used to produce our fresh poultry range are members of the Assured Food Standards scheme for poultry, commonly known as the Red Tractor scheme, and are subject to independent third-party audits.

So what.

And journos repeated bad UK food safety advice to cook chicken until the juices runs clear: color is a terrible indicator of food safety in eat. Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.