We’re all hosts on a viral planet, even bacteria

Listeria monocytogenes may persist in food production environments and cause listeriosis. In Norway, a product of concern is the traditional and popular fermented fish product “rakfisk”, which is made from freshwater salmonid fish by mild-salting and brine maturation at low temperatures for several months. It is eaten without any heat treatment, and L. monocytogenes, therefore, poses a potential hazard.

We investigated the effect of salt and temperature on the growth of L. monocytogenes in rakfisk during the 91 days of maturation. The amounts of organic acids produced during fermentation were too low to inhibit growth of L. monocytogenes.

Temperature was clearly the most important parameter for controlling L. monocytogenes. At 7 °C, approximately 2 log growth was observed during the first 14 days of fermentation, and the level of L. monocytogenes thereafter remained constant. At 4 °C, only a little growth potential of the pathogen was recorded. We also investigated the effect of the anti-Listeria bacteriophage P100 on rakfisk with added L. monocytogenes. The phage was introduced to the L. monocytogenes-inoculated fish before fermentation, and an average of 0.9 log reduction was observed throughout the fermentation period.

This is the first study of L. monocytogenes behavior in rakfisk and points to possible measures for increasing the product safety.

Growth behavior of listeria monocytogenes in a traditional Norwegian fermented fish product (rakfisk), and its inhibition through bacteriophage addition

Foods

Lars Axelsson, Guro Alette Bjerke, Anette McLeod, Ingunn Berget and Askild L. Holck

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/9/2/119/pdf&ct=ga&cd=CAEYASoTMTE1NzcxMjA4OTIyNjc2MTc3NDIaYmM3NzBmMDk3NWY0YjI4ZTpjb206ZW46VVM&usg=AFQjCNFJNVQuk-sddOTM-d7FT6mqcqo94w

White Castle frozen food division announces voluntary recall of a limited production of frozen sandwiches due to Listeria monocytogenes

Any excuse to write about White Castle means I get to recall the great movie, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

I had a hockey friend over for lunch one day, we ate steak and watched Harold and Kumar, and it was one of the best times ever.

White Castle has initiated a voluntary recall of a limited number of frozen 6 pack cheeseburgers, frozen 6 pack hamburgers, frozen 6 pack jalapeno cheeseburgers, and 16 pack hamburgers, 16 pack cheeseburgers for the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes. 

The voluntary recall will impact product on shelves at select retailers with best by dates ranging from 04 Aug 2020 to 17 Aug 2020. Any product with these dates on shelves is presently being removed. Any product with a best by date before or after these best by dates is not included in the voluntary recall.

To date, public health officials have not reported any illness associated with these products.

“Our number one focus is the safety of our customers and our team members, and as a family owned business, we want to hold ourselves to the absolute highest standards of accountability in all aspects of our business – and especially food safety,” said White Castle Vice President, Jamie Richardson.

Uh huh.

Outbreak of Listeria infections linked to hard-boiled eggs

Reported Cases: 7

States: 5

Hospitalizations: 4

Deaths: 1

Recall: No

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are contaminated with Listeriaand have made people sick. These products were packaged in plastic pails for use nationwide by food service operators. These products have not been recalled. However, because Listeria  can cause severe infections, CDC is warning against selling, serving, or using these eggs to make other food products.

Retailers and food service operators should know who supplies their bulk hard-boiled eggs. Consumers will not be able to tell if products they’ve purchased from stores contain these eggs, so it is important that people at higher risk for Listeria infections follow the advice listed below.

Retailers and food service operators should not use bulk hard-boiled eggs produced at the Almark Foods Gainesville, Georgia facility, regardless of use-by date.

These eggs were peeled, hard-boiled, and packaged in plastic pails of various sizes.

Food processors and manufacturers should not use these eggs to make ready-to-eat foods, such as egg salad, deviled eggs, or salads.

These fresh hard-boiled eggs were packaged in plastic pails and have a 49-day shelf-life.

UK: Health inspector warned hospital that listeria would grow on sandwiches in its broken fridges that were 5C too hot just three days before patient

The hospital where a cancer patient was killed by a listeria-infected sandwich was warned its fridges were broken and too hot several days before he died, it was revealed in early November..

Ian Hitchcock, 52, died in June after eating a contaminated meal – a scandal that appears to have claimed the lives of six people in the UK this year.

Today it emerged sandwiches at Royal Derby Hospital, where Mr Hitchcock was receiving cancer treatment, were kept in ‘ineffective’ fridges that warmed the food to above 8C – an offence under 2013 food safety laws.

The problem was found by experts inspecting the kitchen on June 4 and 5 where an environmental health officer said the broken fridges were serving food at illegal temperatures.

A report said the food was a particular risk to anyone with a weakened immune system, such as cancer sufferer Mr Hitchcock.

On June 8 he died after eating one of the pre-packed sandwiches.

Ian Hitchcock, 52, died after eating a pre-packaged sandwich while being treated for cancer at the Royal Derby Hospital last week. His death is being linked to an NHS listeria outbreak which has so far claimed five lives +2

Ian Hitchcock, 52, died after eating a pre-packaged sandwich while being treated for cancer at the Royal Derby Hospital last week. His death is being linked to an NHS listeria outbreak which has so far claimed five lives

In a letter, seen by the BBC, food safety inspector Jayne Hassall said ‘high risk foods’  such as sandwiches were ‘stored outside temperature control due to ineffective refrigerators’.

Salmonella, E. coli O157, Listeria, Campy: 1.9 million foodborne illnesses in US per year

In an ongoing effort to understand sources of foodborne illness in the United States, the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) collects and analyzes outbreak data to produce an annual report with estimates of foods responsible for foodborne illnesses caused by pathogens. The report estimates the degree to which four pathogens – Salmonella, E. coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter – and specific foods and food categories are responsible for foodborne illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, together, these four pathogens cause 1.9 million foodborne illnesses in the United States each year. The newest report (PDF), entitled “Foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2017 for Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter using multi-year outbreak surveillance data, United States,” can be found on the IFSAC website.

The updated estimates, combined with other data, may help shape agency priorities and inform the creation of targeted interventions that can help to reduce foodborne illnesses caused by these pathogens. As more data become available and methods evolve, attribution estimates may improve. These estimates are intended to inform and engage stakeholders and to improve federal agencies’ abilities to assess whether prevention measures are working.

Foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2017 for salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, listeria monocytogenes, and campylobacter using multi-year outbreak surveillance data, United States, Sept.2019

CDC, FDA, USDA-FSIS

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/ifsac/pdf/P19-2017-report-TriAgency-508.pdf?deliveryName=DM10264

For risk modelling nerds: Deli meat

Fun observation: Most people think it’s safer to buy deli meat or cold cuts, fresh at the counter, than the pre-packaged stuff, which is probably safer because it contains antimicrobials (in the U.S.) and doesn’t come into contact with all that slicer shit at the deli counter.

Follow up: What’s the difference between a clean and a deep clean? Phallic hyperbole.

Ready-to-eat (RTE) deli meats sliced at retail are predicted to cause 83% of deli meat-associated listeriosis cases annually. While Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in delis, environmental prevalence varies by store (0–40%).

A deep clean sanitation standard operating procedure (SSOP) executed by a third-party cleaning service immediately reduced L. monocytogenes prevalence in delis, but reductions were not sustained over time. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of a L. monocytogenes predictive risk model and a subsequent deep-clean SSOP (deep clean) conducted by store employees and management complemented with training and facilities improvements all aimed to reduce L. monocytogenes prevalence in stores with known high L. monocytogenes prevalence and evidence of persistence.

Fifty delis among six states were screened using a predictive logistic regression model that estimates the probability of high L. monocytogenes prevalence in a deli. The model identified 13 stores with potentially high L. monocytogenes prevalence; seven stores were confirmed and enrolled for further study. Retail employees executed deep clean; additional interventions (e.g., facilities improvements, training) were incorporated in stores. Environmental samples (n = 20) were collected immediately before and after, and for six months post-deep clean. Deep cleans immediately reduced L. monocytogenes prevalence in six of seven stores tested.

A total of 21/138 (15.2%) samples before and 8/139 (5.8%) samples after deep-cleaning were positive for L. monocytogenes, with a marginal 16.0% decrease on non-food-contact surfaces (NFCS) immediately after deep clean (p = 0.0309, αadj = 0.0125) and a marginal 10.8% on NFCS during follow-up (p = 0.0337, αadj = 0.0125). Employee executed deep cleans with training, education, and maintenance programs can reduce environmental L. monocytogenes prevalence in retail delis, a pivotal part of preventing subsequent cross-contamination to RTE deli meats.

Predictive risk models combined with employee-and management-implemented SSOPs identified and reduced listeria monocytogenes prevalence in retail delis

Food Control

Sophie Tongyu Wua1, Susan R.Hammonsa1m Jingjin Wanga, Clara Assisia, Brittany DiPietrob, Haley F.Olivera

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2019.106942

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713519305316

Listeria kills three in two years, source traced to Dutch cold meat factory

Three people have died and one woman has had a miscarriage after eating cold meat contaminated with listeria, the public health institute RIVM said last Friday.

top view of round slices of smoked pork loin ham in transparent plastic tray packaging isolated on white background

Dutch News reports all are thought to have become ill after eating meat products from the Offerman company over the past two years, the agency said. In total, at least 20 people have become ill after eating Offerman cold cuts. The company issued a health warning last Friday and Jumbo, which stocks 135 different products from Offerman, ordered an immediate recall. Aldi too has recalled its Offerman products, which were also widely sold to company canteens.

The source of the infection was traced by the RIVM and product safety board NVWA after an analysis of the different types of listeria infection this week. ‘It has only been recently possible to use this technique and without it, we would not have been able to identify the source,’ the RIVM said.

The factory where the bacteria originates is located in Aalsmeer and has been closed pending a thorough clean-up, the AD reported last Friday afternoon. According to broadcaster NOS the NVWA had ordered Offerman to take extra hygiene measures because there were suspicions that something was going wrong. ‘But this would appear not to have done the job,’ a NVWA spokesman told the broadcaster.

Listeria is particularly dangerous to the elderly and pregnant women and can cause miscarriages. Every year about 80 cases of listeria are reported to the RIVM.

Owner of food company responsible for Spain’s worst ever listeriosis outbreak arrested for manslaughter

Eva Saiz of El Pais reports the owners of the food company responsible for the worst-ever listeriosis outbreak in Spain were arrested on Wednesday for manslaughter.

Since August, the outbreak has killed three people, caused seven miscarriages, and infected more than 200 people. The source of the bacterial infection was traced to a Seville-based company called Magrudis, which sold a contaminated pork loin product called carne mechada under the brand name La Mechá. Three more products produced by the company also tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The owners of Magrudis, José Antonio Marín Pince and his two children Sandro and Mario, have been accused, to different degrees, of involuntary manslaughter, crimes against health and causing injury to a fetus.

According to investigators, the three men knew in February that some of their products had been contaminated but did nothing to eliminate the bacteria from their facilities. Instead they continued producing and distributing their products.

“When the crisis broke, we reminded the business by email that one of their samples had been contaminated much earlier. Given that they did nothing, we passed on this information to the courts,” José Antonio Borrás, the owner of the Microal Group laboratory, told EL PAÍS.

The laboratory handed a report to the court in early September, and according to sources close to the investigation, the contents prompted Judge Pilar Ordóñez, who is overseeing the case, to take action on Tuesday.

Neither laboratories nor companies are legally obliged to warn the authorities if a product is found to test positive, but a company does have a duty to adopt measures to correct the problem. Investigators want to find out why the owners of Magrudis did not do this, and why, more importantly they hid the positive test results from health inspectors who visited the factory after the alert was raised. In public appearances, both Marín and his son Sandro claimed that the company had successfully passed all sanitary controls.

Traces of listeria were found in tests carried out on the Magrudis production line, including the oven carts used to transport the meat during the preparation process, and the larding needles used to inject the pork with fat before cooking. The crisis was complicated by the fact that the company’s products had been sold on to another firm and prepared for sale as an own-brand product in a supermarket chain without the proper labelling.

6 dead 20 sick: Listeria traced to Estonia fish factory

Several countries’ studies have suggested that a mutated and very aggressive form of the listeria bacteria is raging in an M.V.Wool fish plant located near Harku, just outside of Tallinn. According to the latest info, 26 people across Europe have already contracted the bacteria, six of whom have died — among them nine people in Estonia, two of whom have died, according to a longer story to air on ETV investigative program Pealtnägija on Wednesday night.

Genetic analysis ordered by the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) revealed that the aggressive and contagiousST1247 strain of listeria can be traced back to the factory owned by M.V.Wool, Estonia’s largest fish producer. Bacteria from this specific strain have been found both in the plant’s production building as well as from people that have fallen ill.

VTA deputy director general Olev Kalda said that the fish plant is under the watchful eye of inspectors, and each product batch to leave the plant is currently being thoroughly inspected.

“Clearly some fairly innocuous listeria monocytogenes ended up at that business, possibly three or four years ago, but it’s possible that as a result of insufficient [cleaning] measures, this mutation occurred there and it developed into a persister strain, i.e. a strain unique only to that specific place,” Kalda explained.

M.V.Wool factory owner and board chairman Mati Vetevool has categorically denied that the dangerous bacteria came from their factory, pointing the finger instead at Norwegian and Finnish farms from which he claims the bacteria ended up in their plant.

“I absolutely do not agree that this bacteria is our bacteria,” Vetevool said. “It comes in from the fish farm; it hasn’t developed here. We can also end up stuck with a strain originating from a fish farm. Every night, our fish plant is thoroughly washed, and we destroy absolutely all bacteria in the cleaning process. It’s not possible that we are poisoning anyone. Nothing of the sort is possible — this is simply sheer libel.”

According to Kalda, however, Vetevool’s story doesn’t add up.

“The studies show that this specific strain has been found only in products to be produced by this company, it has been found in this company’s environment — i.e. in its production facilities, on its production equipment — but it, as I mentioned, did not enter this company in this form, with this current strain of DNA,” the VTA official said.

UK factory put uncooked sausage in pre-packed sandwiches posing ‘danger to health’

James Cain of The Mirror reports a factory has been ordered to stop making food after it put uncooked sausages into pre-packed sandwiches.

The Middlesbrough-based factory has been told by health authorities it risked causing a listeria outbreak.

Café Class Ltd has been served with a hygiene emergency prohibition order for food safety practices that posed an “immediate danger to human health”.

A court this week heard how the company extended the use-by dates of boiled eggs, cheddar cheese and streaky bacon, putting consumers’ health at risk.

The risk to the public was so severe that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued an immediate product recall on sandwiches, wraps and salads made by the company.

Listeria has been in the spotlight this year after six people died after getting listeria from prepackaged sandwiches and salads served in UK hospitals.

In the unrelated case the company, which traded with stores including Londis, Nisa and North East Convenience Stores, faced court as Middlesbrough Council sought an emergency hygiene order to prevent it from making food, reports the Local Demoracy Reporting service for Teesside Live .

Company directors Shahid Nawaz and Mohammed Haris Abdullah arrived at Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday to hear Middlesbrough Council lay out the case against their company.

Andrew Perriman, prosecuting for the council , told magistrates that Café Class, based in Riverside Park, was visited by environmental health officers on September 9.

The inspection was arranged “to assess compliance with a hygiene improvement notice served earlier in the year as a result of allergy management concerns”.

But Mr Perriman said the officers were shocked to discover the factory was routinely placing ingredients on their use-by date in sandwiches, wraps and salads which would then be labelled with a four-day use-by date.

“In respect of cooked ham aspect used in the final product, it is specified by the manufacturer to be used within three days once opened,” said Mr Perriman.

But the officers found that once opened, the ham had been placed in a plastic container on September 8 and labelled with a use-by date of September 11.

Mr Perriman said it could be argued that if September 8 is counted as day one, this actually meant the ham was being used for four days.

In any case, the factory would continue to use the ham as an ingredient right up until the final use-by day.

But Mr Perriman added: “It was then placed into a sandwich and given a further four-day use by date.

“Not only that, the packaging on the final product stated ‘once opened consume within 24 hours’.

He said this practice meant cooked ham with a use-by date of September 10 or 11 was actually being used in a product labelled with a use-by date of September 15 or 16.

“As a result, the three-day shelf life is exceeded by a further six days,” he said adding that this was “way past” safe limits.The company’s website says: “We here at Café Class carefully ensure that the standards of Food Agency are met at all times and any waste is disposed of appropriately.

“All our products are fully cooked but we do not send the food waste to landfill sites, thus helping the environment and fulfilling our responsibility towards the society.”

Uh huh.