The secret life of kebabs and donairs

Like Sloan’s Patrick Pentland, I used to be a fan of donairs, kebabs and street meat. Or late-night chinese food. Anything heavy and greasy tastes good after a few beers, but the places serving them have to know the risks associated with what they are serving, and where things might go wrong.

About a decade ago donairs or kebabs were linked to three outbreaks of E.coli O157 in Alberta, and I stopped eating them.mega-donair

Outbreak investigators found that traditional cooking practices including a rotating a cone of meat next to a heat source, were problematic.

Often, especially in the post-bar-closing rush, the heat sources are turned up so the outside of the cone gets scorched, but meat just below the surface doesn’t reach safe temperatures (because it’s being cut off quickly to meet demand). The cooking practice, along with the tendency for the meat cones to be made with ground meat and stored frozen can cause a perfect outbreak scenario.

A national committee was created to look at donair risks associated and the group recommended grilling post cone cut-off to ensure pathogen-killing temps. Good call.

And for those in Australia looking to learn more about kebab culture, according to, there’s a reality show for you.

No matter your choice of filling, it’s almost a rite of passage to end up at a kebab shop after a big night out.

A kebab shop worker witnesses everything you would rather forget in the morning.
He sees when you spill the sweet chilli sauce down your white shirt or shamefully profess your love to a stranger.

Mustafa Mohammed has owned Smith Kebabs in Collingwood for more than four years. He has seen it all and has never had a dull moment.

“We get a lot of drunk people in our area, there are a lot of clubs and we have to be patient every day,” he said.

“The challenges are people drink too much and they can’t stand and sometimes can’t even talk.

“They just come in and say ‘I want a kebab’ and you have to try and communicate with them politely to find out what they want.”

Mr Mohammed’s story and the antics in his shop will be revealed on a new miniseries on SBS called Kebab Kings.

Executive producer Michael Cordell said cameras were set up in the kebab shops during peak periods.

“We thought the kebab shops provided an unusual window into contemporary Australia,” he said.


67 sick with Salmonella from Kaliningrad kebabs

The Moscow Times reports that 67 people are suffering from suspected Salmonella poisoning after purchasing questionable kebabs from a food vendor in Kaliningrad, Russia’s consumer rights watchdog has said.

Of this number, 64 people are in moderately severe condition, while three people have been placed in intensive care, watchdog said in a statement, Itar-Tass reported Tuesday.

The mass poisoning can traced back to the same point of sale in Kaliningrad, where examinations of the outlet have revealed sanitary violations, high microbial contamination and the presence of E-coli in its food products.

A laboratory study has confirmed the presence of Salmonella in 36 of the known cases, which were first reported March 22.

Welsh E. coli kebab toll rises to 13, calls increase for mandatory restaurant inspection disclosure

WalesOnline reports a further six people are being monitored by public health experts investigating an outbreak of deadly E.coli O157 in Cardiff.

The outbreak control team last night said the number of confirmed cases remained at seven – one person is still seriously ill in hospital after developing symptoms.

The Adonis Kebab House, City Road, which is at the heart of the outbreak, also remains closed more than a week after Cardiff council shut it as a “precautionary measure”.

Consumer Focus Wales last night urged people to check the hygiene scores of their local restaurants and takeaways following the outbreak.

The Adonis Kebab House had a hygiene rating of one (out of a possible five), but that score was only publicized online. A new law proposed by the Welsh Government will mean food businesses are required to display their rating.

Disclosure should be mandatory, otherwise, why bother.

Public urged to be ‘vigilant’ as number of E.coli cases linked to Welsh kebab shop expected to rise

Health bosses last night urged the public to remain vigilant as the number of E.coli cases linked to the Adonis Kebab House on City Road in Cardiff rose to a possible nine, with three needing hospital treatment.

Since the E.coli O157 outbreak emerged on Friday, the number of confirmed cases has risen from five to seven – with another two under investigation – but could rise further, warned Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control at Public Health Wales (PHW).

Maybe health inspectors and food service operators should be vigilant before people start barfing.

Cardiff kebab house closed after E. coliO157 leaves 1 in hospital, 4 others sick

A city kebab house has been closed following an outbreak of E.coli in Cardiff, affecting five people, one of who has been hospitalised.

Two further cases are under investigation but the person taken to hospital was said to be recovering.

Dr Gwen Lowe, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Public Health Wales and chairwoman of the Multi-agency Outbreak Control Team, said the Adonis Kebab House, City Road, Cardiff, had been closed by Cardiff Council on August 11, while investigations were carried out. Dr Lowe said letters have been sent to GPs and out of hours services across South East Wales to alert them to the situation.

Sniffing uncooked chicken is not a safety measure; kebab shop source of salmonella outbreak in London

A kebab shop boss whose Shepherd’s Bush premises were the source of the worst salmonella outbreak in London for at least 15 years was spared jail on Tuesday.

Mohammed Shafique, 49, who ran the Shahi Nan shop in Uxbridge Road, admitted to food hygiene breaches which caused the poisoning of 72 people, aged between five and 72.

Isleworth Crown Court heard at least 22 victims had to be treated in hospital and were kept in for an average of four days.

Shafique, who took over the shop in 2001, told health inspectors he sniffed the uncooked chicken deliveries to check they were safe to eat.

His premises was first visited in September 2009 after reports emerged that 17 people had visited St Mary’s and Charing Cross Hospitals with food poisoning.

The numbers rose to 72 between September 9-18 – in the previous month there had been just 15 reported salmonella cases in the whole country.

Officials found traces of the bug on a light switch and in the fridge, where raw produce was stored next to cooked food, but the exact cause of the outbreak was never located.

Shafique, who admitted to four food hygiene breaches and failing to comply with EU regulations, was ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and to pay £10,000 in fines, £1,000 costs and a £15 surcharge.

France: A teenager dies from food poisoning

A 16-year-old died on Monday in hospital in Chartres, France, as a result of food poisoning which could be related to having a meal in a kebab restaurant in the city, closed the same day by the DGCCRF (Branch Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control). Her step-sister, who also shared the same meal, complained of stomach cramps.

"An autopsy Wednesday afternoon on the body of the girl found that the victim had suffered multiple organ shock and that the death was due to food poisoning," said the prosecutor of Chartres, Philippe Peyroux. The court ordered the DGCCRF to go to emergency in the kebab eatery type where the two women had eaten to conduct an inspection. "This revealed poor hygiene standards and many anomalies. The facility has been closed immediately for health reasons and as a precaution, especially since it is located near a school.”

Tests were being conducted but results were so far inconclusive.

14 confirmed sick with Salmonella from London kebab shop; 41 suspected sick, including kids

London Informer reports that health officials are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning linked to a Hammersmith and Fulham kebab shop which has left at least 41 people ill.

Of those 14 people have been confirmed as suffering from the potentially deadly infection.

Investigators from the North West London Health Protection Unit (HPA) are tracing the source of the infection and after early enquiries the Shahi Nan Kebab house in Uxbridge Road has voluntarily closed its doors.

Unfortunately, and no disrespect to the victims of either foodborne illness or choking on food, I can’t help but continue with the Kids in the Hall theme because it’s all I think of when I hear the word, kebab.

Drinks, dancing and food hygiene grades

After a night on the town Saturday my flatmate Holly (see right) and I stopped at for a kebab at Sahara Cafe. While Holly ordered her falafel kebab I perused the establishment and spotted the shop’s most recent inspection certificate: Excellent. So, being the food safety nerd that I am, I took a picture (below).

In Wellington, New Zealand restaurants that demonstrate high food safety standards receive an Excellent certificate to display at the premise.

Maybe we should start kebab-blog

As a follow-up to last week’s kebab/street meat post, today, the FSA published results of a survey of the content of 494 kebabs across the UK.

The study’s authors report that without salad and sauces, the average kebab contains:
* 98% of daily salt
* nearly 1000 calories
* 148% of daily saturated fat

The authors also report the mislabelling of kebab meat, with meat species not declared or declared wrongly. In some instances, pork was present in samples labelled as Halal.

The Food Standards Agency’s Chief Scientist Andrew Wadge said:
‘We welcome this new study. It is important that people are properly informed about the food they eat. However, our advice is that people don’t need to avoid doner kebabs altogether because of these findings. Like all types of food that is high in fat and salt they do not need to be cut out of your diet altogether."

Wonder if they sampled for pathogens, and if they found any.