‘Kids run across arena of cow and horse poop’ something for everyone at Goshen Rodeo

Line up lawyers, the Goshen Fairgrounds near Hartford, Connecticut, is promoting kids wallowing in cow poop.

Clowns collect one boot from every kid, takes them down to the other end of the arena and throws them in a pile. Kids have to run across the arena full of horse and cow poop. Sometimes it’s muddy, so the kids are dodging that, too.”

doc51ffd5e3c167b0687901071Sean O’Neill of Goshen Stampede, Inc. says they see about 25,000 people come through the fairgrounds, and they come from all over.

So what’s the most popular kids event at the stampede?

“Kids rodeo,” said O’Neill. “Mutton Busting is the main attraction of the kids rodeo; they all want to ride the sheep. The rodeo clowns will be out there, too. And Hula Hoop roping: They rope a dummy steer with a hula hoop.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health

G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell


Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

Poop and produce

Irrigation water, hand hygiene, and crap in the soil – the big three of produce safety.

Linda Harris, who was on my PhD committee all those years ago, has spent a lot of time in poop since then, the pretty California kind.

And she’s the lede author on a paper to formalize how to study poop, and linda.harris.storywhether it presents a produce risk.

A Framework for developing research protocols for evaluation of microbial hazards and controls during production that pertain to the application of untreated soil amendments of animal origin on land used to grow produce that may be consumed raw.

Journal of Food Protection, Number 6, June 2013, pp. 928-1108 , pp. 1062-1084(23)

Authors: Harris, Linda J.; Berry, Elaine D.; Blessington, Tyann; Erickson, Marilyn; Jay-Russell, Michele; Jiang, Xiuping; Killinger, Karen; Michel, Fredrick C.; Millner, Pat; Schneider, Keith; Sharma, Manan; Suslow, Trevor V.; Wang, Luxin; Worobo, Randy W.



Application of manure or soil amendments of animal origin (untreated soil amendments; UTSAs) to agricultural land has been a long-standing practice to maintain or improve soil quality through addition of organic matter, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Much smaller quantities of these types of UTSAs are applied to land used for food crops than to land used for animal grain and forage. UTSAs can harbor zoonotic enteric pathogens that may survive for extended periods after application. Additional studies are needed to enhance our understanding of preharvest microbial food safety hazards and control measures pertaining to the application of UTSAs especially for land used to grow produce that may be consumed raw. This document is intended to provide an approach to study design and a framework for defining the scope and type of data required. This document also provides a tool for evaluating the strength of existing data and thus can aid the produce industry and regulatory authorities in identifying additional research needs. Ultimately, this framework provides a means by which researchers can increase consistency among and between studies and facilitates direct comparison of hazards and efficacy of controls applied to different regions, conditions, and practices.

Risk factors for microbial contamination in fruits and vegetables at the preharvest Level: A systematic review

An abstract from the current issue of Journal of Food Protection:

The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review of risk factors for contamination of fruits and vegetables with Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 at the preharvest level. Relevant studies were identified by searching six electronic databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CAB Abstracts, AGRIS, AGRICOLA, and FSTA, using the following thesaurus terms: L. monocytogenes, Salmonella, E. coli O157 AND fruit, vegetable. All search terms were exploded to find all related subheadings. To be eligible, studies had to be prospective controlled trials or observational studies at the preharvest level and had to show clear and sufficient information on the process in which the produce was contaminated. Of the 3,463 citations identified, 68 studies fulfilled the eligibility criteria. Most of these studies were on leafy greens and tomatoes. Six studies assessed produce contamination with respect to animal host-related risk factors, and 20 studies assessed contamination with respect to pathogen characteristics. Sixty-two studies assessed the association between produce contamination and factors related to produce, water, and soil, as well as local ecological conditions of the production location. While evaluations of many risk factors for preharvest-level produce contamination have been reported, the quality assessment of the reviewed studies confirmed the existence of solid evidence for only some of them, including growing produce on clay-type soil, the application of contaminated or non-pH-stabilized manure, and the use of spray irrigation with contaminated water, with a particular risk of contamination on the lower leaf surface. In conclusion, synthesis of the reviewed studies suggests that reducing microbial contamination of irrigation water and soil are the most effective targets for the prevention and control of produce contamination. Furthermore, this review provides an inventory of the evaluated risk factors, including those requiring more research.

Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 11, November 2012 , pp. 2055-2081(27)

Park, Sangshin; Szonyi, Barbara; Gautam, Raju; Nightingale, Kendra; Anciso, Juan; Ivanek, Renata

Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with rodeo attendance, Utah and Idaho, 2009

Rodeos can be risky — and not just for riders.

As reported by researchers from Utah and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in summer 2009, the Utah Department of Health investigated an outbreak of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 (O157) illness associated with attendance at multiple rodeos.

Patients were interviewed regarding exposures during the week before illness onset. A ground beef traceback investigation was performed. Ground beef samples from patient homes and a grocery store were tested for STEC O157. Rodeo managers were interviewed regarding food vendors present and cattle used at the rodeos. Environmental samples were collected from rodeo grounds. Two-enzyme pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) were performed on isolates.

Fourteen patients with primary STEC O157 illness were reported in this outbreak. Isolates from all patients were indistinguishable by PFGE. Isolates from nine patients had identical MLVA patterns (main outbreak strain), and five had minor differences. Thirteen (93%) patients reported ground beef consumption during the week before illness onset. Results of the ground beef traceback investigation and ground beef sampling were negative. Of 12 primary patients asked specifically about rodeo attendance, all reported having attended a rodeo during the week before illness onset; four rodeos were mentioned. All four rodeos had used bulls from the same cattle supplier. An isolate of STEC O157 identified from a dirt sample collected from the bullpens of one of the attended rodeos was indistinguishable by PFGE and MLVA from the main outbreak strain.

Recommendations were provided to rodeo management to keep livestock and manure separate from rodeo attendees. This is the first reported STEC O157 outbreak associated with attendance at multiple rodeos. Public health officials should be aware of the potential for rodeo-associated STEC illness.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. doi:10.1089/fpd.2011.0884
William A. Lanier, Julia M. Hall, Rachel K. Herlihy, Robert T. Rolfs, Jennifer M. Wagner, Lori H. Smith, Eija K. Hyytia-Trees

Lots of money to be made in organic crap; organic fertilizer maker accused of using synthetic chemicals

To organic farmers, Kenneth Noel Nelson Jr. was the man with the golden manure: It was rich with Mother Nature’s finest waste, robust for the soil and cheap in price.

But to federal prosecutors in California, Nelson’s organic fertilizer empire had developed a stench.

On Thursday a federal grand jury indicted Nelson on 28 counts of mail fraud in connection with an alleged years-long scheme to dupe farmers and agriculture product distributors. The indictment accused Nelson, 57, of selling premium-priced liquid fertilizer touted as made from all-natural products such as fish meal and bird guano that instead was spiked with far cheaper synthetic chemicals.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the scheme, according to the federal indictment, enabled Nelson to become the largest purveyor of organic fertilizer to farmers in the western half of the U.S. and pull in at least $9 million in sales from 2003 to 2009.

This is the second indictment of an organic fertilizer producer in California in the last five months. It also has fueled fears among some farmers about possible contamination of their pristine fields and has raised questions about whether consumers bought produce that was billed as organic but may not have met federal organic requirements.

The indictment is part of a growing effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General to crack down on fraud and corruption in the organic industry — a segment of the food sector that has grown to more than $24 billion in the U.S. and has emerged as a lucrative business in the Golden State.

The agency has seven open investigations involving the federal National Organic Program, officials said.

Sally Jackson wraps up her cheesecloths after 8 sick with E. coli

Shed no crocodile tears for Sally Jackson and her E. coli O157:H7 contaminated cheese.

The infractions documented by U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors last week — after the recall and with inspectors knowingly present – would make anyone wonder why the fancy restaurants and retailers like Whole Foods would buy cheese made with crap. Sally Jackson and staff were seen to:

• Not wash and sanitize hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing facility after each absence from the work station and at any time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated. Specifically, the owner was observed throughout the day to altemately perform cheese making functions, such as stirring cheese curd with bare hands and wrapping cheese in grape leaves, with outside activities, such as milking/feeding livestock, without any hand washing being observed.

• Failure to provide handwashing facilities at each location in the plant where needed. Specifically, the approximately 10 inch diameter, shallow bowl handsink in the vestibule is too small for proper use, The sink drain pipe and water supply lines were disconnected.

• Failure to use water which is of adequate sanitary quality in food and on food-contact surfaces. Specifically, the well water supply for the facility is not currently in microbiological compliance. The most recent water analysis was unsatisfactory for total colifom as evidenced by a test report from 10/4/10 observed at the facility. The well has not been retested.

• Failure to clean non-food-contaet surfaces of equipment as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination. Specifically, the wood fixtures, walls and floors were generally soiled and stained with grime/dirt. The floors also showed an accumulation of manure, mud. straw.

• Suitable outer garments are not worn that protect against contamination of food, food contact surfaces, and food packaging materials. Specifically, the owner wore manure-soiled outer clothing during the production of cheese; handling utensils and direct handling of finished product. Owner was observed kneeling in fresh cow manure, while milking a cow outside, then brushed pants with a bare hand and was later observed standing over a bucket of drained curd in the cheese room with the soiled pants coming in to contact with the edge of the bucket.

This could be an exaggeration, but it sounds like Sally Jackson was making cheese while covered in cow shit. Guess it’s all-natural.

Nancy Leson of the Seattle Times reports that Jackson, the Oroville, Washington, cheesemaker whose name has been associated with some of Washington’s finest milk product for 30 years, will shut down her business, after the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that Jackson’s cheese, made from unpasteurized, raw milk, had sickened eight people in four states.

"My argument then was that I have never made anybody sick in 30 years," Jackson said. "That’s what breaks my heart now, that this is how it ended."

That’s a terrible argument, and one I hear routinely. E. coli O157:H7 has been known as a source of human illness for about 29 years, but only in the past 15 years have DNA fingerprinting techniques evolved so that outbreaks are more often linked to a specific food.

The results from the FDA inspection and the sick people also show the fallacies of such an argument.

But why hadn’t anyone noticed? Whole Foods sold – and is now recalling — Sally Jackson cheese from retail outlets in California, Nevada, Washington and Washington, D.C.

“The recalled cheese came from its supplier, Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Wash and was cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with a Whole Foods Market scale label. Some labels also list Sally Jackson. The affected products are: cow, goat and sheep milk cheese; cow and sheep milk cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves; and goat milk cheese wrapped in grape leaves.”

Where were the Whole Foods safety auditors who approved Sally Jackson raw milk cheese on their shelves? Whole Foods sucks at food safety.

E. coli thrives near plant roots, can contaminate young produce crops

E. coli can live for weeks around the roots of produce plants and transfer to the edible portions, but the threat can be minimized if growers don’t harvest too soon.

Purdue University scientists report in the November issue of the Journal of Food Protection that after adding E. coli to soil through manure application and water treated with manure, the bacteria can survive and are active in the rhizosphere, or the area around the plant roots, of lettuce and radishes. E. coli eventually gets onto the aboveground surfaces of the plants, where it can live for several weeks.

Activity in the rhizosphere was observed using a bioluminescent E. coli created by Bruce Applegate that glows when active. Applegate, a co-author on the project, is an associate professor in the food science and biological sciences departments at Purdue.

"E. coli is actually quite active in the rhizosphere. They’re eating something there – probably plant exudates," said Ron Turco, a professor of agronomy and co-author of the study.

Turco said the E. coli didn’t survive on the plants’ surfaces more than 40 days after seeds were planted. Harvesting produce at least 40 days after planting should reduce the possibility of contamination, but he warned that E. coli could still come from other sources.

Producers should apply manure to fields well in advance of planting and harvesting. Turco said a wait of 90-120 days between manure application and harvesting, with a minimum of 40 days between planting and harvesting, should minimize the chance of E. coli contamination.

Understanding the role of agricultural practices in the potential colonization and contamination by Escherichia coli in the rhizospheres of fresh produce

Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 73, Number 11, pp. 2001-2009(9)
Habteselassie, Mussie Y.; Bischoff, Marianne; Applegate, Bruce; Reuhs, Bradley; Turco, Ronald F.

To better protect consumers from exposure to produce contaminated with Escherichia coli, the potential transfer of E. coli from manure or irrigation water to plants must be better understood. We used E. coli strains expressing bioluminescence (E. coli O157:H7 lux) or multiantibiotic resistance (E. coli2+) in this study. These marked strains enabled us to visualize in situ rhizosphere colonization and metabolic activity and to track the occurrence and survival of E. coli in soil, rhizosphere, and phyllosphere. When radish and lettuce seeds were treated with E. coli O157:H7 lux and grown in an agar-based growth system, rapid bacterial colonization of the germinating seedlings and high levels of microbial activity were seen. Introduction of E. coli2+ to soil via manure or via manure in irrigation water showed that E. coli could establish itself in the lettuce rhizosphere. Regardless of introduction method, 15 days subsequent to its establishment in the rhizosphere, E. coli2+ was detected on the phyllosphere of lettuce at an average number of 2.5 log CFU/g. When E. coli2+ was introduced 17 and 32 days postseeding to untreated soil (rather than the plant surface) via irrigation, it was detected at low levels (1.4 log CFU/g) on the lettuce phyllosphere 10 days later. While E. coli2+ persisted in the bulk and rhizosphere soil throughout the study period (day 41), it was not detected on the external portions of the phyllosphere after 27 days. Overall, we find that E. coli is mobile in the plant system and responds to the rhizosphere like other bacteria.

Nosestretcher alert: Organic Trade Association tells FDA organics a national model for food safety

Thanks to Tom Karst of The Packer for taking the time to read submissions to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the agency contemplates preventative controls for fresh produce.

Christine Bushway, Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) says “organic agriculture is the most highly regulated system of agricultural production in the U.S., and the USDA-accredited verification system, especially its recordkeeping and inspection requirements, should be recognized and considered by FDA when drafting rules requiring similar features.”

Lots of record-keeping does not mean lots of food safety.

Bushway also says, “the organic system offers an integrated process approach to preventive food safety practices that could stand as a national model for both farming and manufacturing operations. The organic process already contains many steps that contribute to food safety processes and it can be easily integrated into a more elaborate food safety system – especially in processing.”

That’s true, and we said as much back in 2004 (see below). But why is it up to everyone else; why don’t organic processes expand so they can be considered a more rigorous or even certifiable food safety program?

The potential for microbial contamination along the food production chain exists for both conventional and organic food products. Water quality, soil amendments such as composted manure and general sanitation need to be monitored and verified in any food production system. Organic certification is not a food safety certification.

Microbial food safety considerations for organic produce production: an analysis of Canadian Organic Production Standards compared with U.S. FDA guidelines for microbial food safety,” by K.A. Blaine and D.A. Powell. Food Protection Trends 24, no. 4 (2004): pp. 246-252.

Increased attention has been focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, especially raw or minimally processed, as a significant source of foodborne illness. Outbreaks have been linked to both conventionally and organically grown produce. This paper outlines the risks associated with fresh produce, common pathways of contamination, and current trends in organic agriculture. The primary objective was to determine whether the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) organic standard is consistent with the production of microbiologically safe produce and to examine the potential for the CGSB organic standard to include considerations for microbial food safety. This objective was achieved by examining information gaps between the US Food and Drug Administration on-farm food safety guidelines and the organic standard developed by the CGSB. This examination showed a significant degree of commonality and, in some cases, it was demonstrated that microbial food safety standards are achieved indirectly under organic production. The main difference between the U.S. guidelines and the CGSB standard is the focus on the process rather than the safety of the final product,and the lack of discussion of microbial considerations in the CGSB standard. Specific omissions include worker hygiene and recommendations for safe use of processing and irrigation water. The production of safe food is the responsibility of everyone in the farm-to-fork chain. With established relationships between growers and regulatory infrastructure, the CGSB organic standard would be an ideal vehicle for providing organic growers with information and guidelines on identifying and controlling microbial hazards on their produce.

Don’t eat poop — salad edition

The Codex Alimentarius Commission decided at its meeting in Geneva that animal manure should not be used to fertilize lettuce and other fresh vegetables sold "ready to eat" to avoid dangerous diseases.

Contaminated water must also be kept away from bagged produce that is not heat-treated, the Codex experts said, fixing new benchmarks that could change production and harvesting norms across the world.

We’ve been saying that for 12 years and advocating such practices with fresh fruit and vegetable growers.

Jorgen Schlundt, director of food safety and zoonoses at the World Health Organization, said,

"It makes sense in a number of different production systems but when you are producing fresh salads that will be treated without heat treatment there is a problem.”

Humanure: It’s extreme, like Mountain Dew, if it was derived from human poop

For more than a decade, 57-year-old roofer and writer Joseph Jenkins has been advocating that we flush our toilets down the drain and put a bucket in the bathroom instead.

When a bucket in one of his five bathrooms is full, he empties it in the compost pile in his backyard in rural Pennsylvania. Eventually he takes the resulting soil and spreads it over his vegetable garden as fertilizer.

"It’s an alternative sanitation system," says Jenkins, "where there is no waste." His 255-page Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure is in its third edition and has been translated into five languages, but it has only recently begun to catch on. His message? Human manure, when properly managed, is odorless. His audience? Ecologically committed city dwellers who are looking to do more for the earth than just sort their trash or ride a bike to work.

Night soil is rumored to be used in the production  of fresh veggies , especially for upscale restaurants, in many large cities.

I’ll stick with riding my bike to work, and thank engineers for sewage treatment.