Australian food safety lab staff walk off job

About 100 staff from NSW’s public food safety lab have walked off the job for an afternoon claiming plans to axe the facility could put the community at risk.

food.lab.testingThe food testing branch of the Forensic Analytical Science Services (FASS) is set to be shut down after the Food Authority didn’t renew its contract, flagging a move to private tender.

About 17 scientists and technical officers from the Lidcombe lab in Sydney’s west are set to lose their jobs.

Careful with that microscope, Eugene: 73 sick with salmonella in teaching labs

At least 73 individuals have been infected with an outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in 35 states from August 20, 2010 to March 8, 2011, including one death, associated with exposure to clinical and teaching microbiology laboratories.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, illnesses have been identified among students in microbiology teaching laboratories and employees in clinical microbiology laboratories. Ill persons (60%) were significantly more likely than control persons (2%) to report exposure to a microbiology laboratory in the week before the illness began. Additionally, multiple ill persons reported working specifically with salmonella bacteria in microbiology laboratories. The New Mexico Department of Health found that the outbreak strain was indistinguishable from a commercially available Salmonella Typhimurium strain used in laboratory settings. This commercially available strain was known to be present in several teaching or clinical laboratories associated with ill students or employees infected with the outbreak strain. These data suggest this strain is the source of some of these illnesses. Additionally, several children who live in households with a person who works or studies in a microbiology laboratory have become ill with the outbreak strain.

UK agency fined over E.coli spill

Bad training, complacency, a complete lack of understanding o risk.

Those were the quotes being thrown around Judge Martin Stephens fined the U.K. Health Protection Agency £25,000 E. coli O157 was spilled in an accident at its laboratory.

Press Associated reported,

Prosecutors said the incident exposed a "general complacency" about the transfer of infectious waste at the HPA’s centre in Colindale, north London.

No one was infected as a result of the spillage in October 2007.

The court was told that faulty "bins" used to carry the bug and other infectious waste – including samples of the plague – to be safely disposed of remained in use even though defects had been spotted 17 months earlier.

Andrew Marshall, prosecuting, said at the time of the accident, employees taking E. coli to a disposal unit were not wearing protective clothing, and that,

An initial assessment of the spillage by staff at the centre had shown a "complete lack of understanding of risk.”

Judge Stephens said the failings were an "acute embarrassment" for the HPA, an independent body set up by the Government in 2003 to protect the public from threats from infectious diseases and environmental hazards.

In addition to the fine, Judge Stephens ordered the agency to pay costs of £20,166.

The court heard that an HPA employee =- who had not been properly trained in the transport of the waste – was handling the bin when one of his hands slipped, it swung down to the floor, and the lid came open.