Nightmares from camp: Norovirus infects 60 Dutch students on class trip

At least 55 school children from Assen were infected with the Norovirus while on a school trip to a recreation park in Annen, RTV Drenthe reports.

meatballsThe kids are all from primary schools the Marskramer and De Scharmhof. they were visiting the Annen park for a few days.

On Friday about 40 children were suffering from diarrhea, nausea and headaches. Over the weekend another 15 fell sick. GGD doctor Jorien Van Pelt confirmed that they were infected with the highly contagious virus.

Public health service GGD believes that one sick child infected the rest. All children who start showing symptoms are advised to stay at home.


Searching for a summer camp, add food safety questions to parental checklist

The 16-year-old daughter has been going to a summer camp in Muskoka (that’s in Ontario, Canada) for years and loves it.

This year she gets to be a councilor for the summer so I’ve been reviewing crucial scenes from Bill Murray’s 1979 cinematic debut, Meatballs.

Yesterday’s USA Today noted that camp fair season (January-March) is in full swing: information and marketing fests are setting up shop in schools, malls and libraries across the country.

Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, which represents 2,400 accredited camps, said about 10 million kids attend camp each year, the camp association says. Of 12,000 day and resident camps nationwide, 4,000 are privately owned for-profits and 8,000 are non-profit.

Among specialty camps and themed sessions, cooking instruction — inspired by such TV shows as Top Chef— is "hot, hot, hot," says Jill Tipograph, founder of, an independent camp consulting firm and author of Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner.

Wonder if they’ll learn any food safety.

To help families search, the camp association offers a database at, and there are a bunch of questions parents should ask. But few seem to ask about or promote microbiologically safe food. There are outbreaks of foodborne illness every year at camps across North America, including one at a hockey camp a couple of my daughters went to years ago; fortunately my kids weren’t there during the outbreak.

But parents shouldn’t have to rely on fortune or faith. Ask questions about a camp’s commitment to food that doesn’t make kids barf. For some areas, food service inspection results may be available on-line. Those responsible for our
 children for a week or month of parental relief should be promoting safe food along with camp virtues.

Two weeks in Australia, still no meat thermometer

I used to cook. And then I met Doug. And all the food safety that I quickly learned scared me.

It’s no secret that Doug does all the cooking in our family. So now that Sorenne and I are in Australia patiently awaiting his arrival, I’ve cooked several frightening meals. I have no way of knowing if the chicken, sausage, or beef are going to kill us. I’ve looked for meat thermometers rather seriously at different major stores here and the only one I’ve seen was at Target – a ridiculously large round display on top of a probe. Think American turkey thermometer that comes out only at Thanksgiving and magnify the size by about 5. I tried again at Coles tonight… nada.

For dinner tonight I opted for pre-made raw meatballs to accompany the linguine because having a small child around is not conducive to getting up to your elbows in meat (especially when she’s screaming, “Mooooooom! Milk!”). I did my best to make a well-done meatball (I mean, who doesn’t love crispy meatballs), but how are mere mortals supposed to see if something’s cooked just by using our naked eyeballs?

Come on, Australia. Food safety is not just an American thing. I’m tired of worrying whether I’ll kill our 2 ½ year old over dinner. And I miss my favorite food safety expert’s voice in my ear reminding me to use a meat thermometer.

E. coli O26 outbreak at Idaho summer camp

My other youngest daughter is getting ready to go to camp for a month. I told her to watch the 1979 flick, Meatballs, again, for some tips as a councilor-in-training.

But not for food safety.

The Spokesman-Review reports that five kitchen workers at Camp Lutherhaven have been sickened by E. coli O26 Idaho Panhandle Health officials confirmed this morning.

Three more staffers are ill, but lab tests haven’t linked it to the bacterial infection.

No one has been hospitalized and the ill workers have been excluded from the kitchen. None of the 300-plus campers has reported getting sick during the first two weeks of summer camp along the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

A review of the camp by health and safety investigators determined that the camp’s food handling procedures were more than adequate. They suspect that the employees may have contracted the infection in their living quarters.

Aunt Bessie’s meatballs – incomplete instructions

ConAgra isn’t the only firm having frozen thingy problems.

The U.K.’s Food Standards Agency is warning consumers that all batches of ‘Aunt Bessie’s eight beef meatballs in a rich onion gravy’ sold exclusively in Iceland stores have incomplete cooking instructions.

The current cooking instructions may not provide sufficient heat treatment to ensure thorough cooking, and could therefore possibly lead to food poisoning, although the risk is low.

As a precautionary measure, Iceland has taken all remaining stocks of product off its shelf. It is also displaying point-of-sale notices in its stores advising customers of what actions they can take if they have already bought this product.