Vaccines work even at fancy food places: Hepatitis A case linked to Melbourne restaurant

Hundreds of people who dined at one of Melbourne’s best restaurants will be contacted by the health department after a food handler was diagnosed with a highly contagious liver infection.

The Age reports the staff member at Cumulus Inc., in the fine-dining hotspot of Flinders Lane, was recently found to have hepatitis A.

An alert issued by Victoria’s Department of Health on Thursday afternoon said anyone who ate at the restaurant between February 26 and March 19 should visit their GP for a free hepatitis A vaccine, and seek urgent medical attention if they feel unwell.

The department is also contacting anyone who booked at the restaurant during the same time period.

It is not yet clear how the male staff member contracted hepatitis A.

However, Victoria has been recently experiencing a local outbreak of the infectious disease, which has already claimed one life.

In response to the dozens of cases in recent months, a free vaccine has been offered to Victorian men who have sex with men and people who have injected drugs in the past year.

It follows an unusual increase in hepatitis A cases in Europe and North America that has affected hundreds of people.

The restaurant said that the hygiene systems at Cumulus Inc. were robust and safety of guests paramount.

The sick employee, who was involved in the plating up and preparation of food, is expected to make a full recovery.

Cumulus Inc. is prolific restaurateur Andrew McConnell’s stalwart all-day city restaurant, with wine bar Cumulus Up operating above.

Occupying an old clothing factory in Flinders Lane, the restaurant has consistently maintained a hat in the Good Food Guide since it opened in 2008.

Famous for its slow-cooked lamb shoulder, and still the go-to for boozy business brunches it is a kingpin of the McConnell restaurant empire, which also includes Marion, Cutler and Co. and fellow Flinders Lane occupant Supernormal.

‘One of the worst cases I have seen; the proprietor failed in every way to provide a safe working environment and to protect the public’ A win for food safety in Yarra

Yarra is a suburb of Melbourne (that’s in Australia).

Pastry Art Design Pty Ltd is the proprietor company of a registered food business at 280 – 282 Smith Street, Collingwood called Milk Jamm, previously known as Pastry Art Design. Emmanuel Ploumidis was the sole director of the company.

The charges against Pastry Art Design Pty Ltd and Emmanuel Ploumidis relate to contraventions on 6 dates, between 30 May 2014 and 9 July 2015. 

They include inadequate pest control, inadequate cleaning, contaminated food products, inadequate and inaccessible hand washing facilities and intimidation of an authorised officer.
The case was heard on 13 September at Melbourne Magistrates Court by Judicial Registrar Samantha Dixon.

In her summation, Dixon said ‘This is one of the worst cases I have seen. The proprietor failed in every way to provide a safe working environment and to protect the public, it is very serious. The defence concocted (that the premises was not operating at the time of initial charges) has caused delay and is aggravating. The threats also are an aggravating feature when the intent was to assist.’ 

This proprietor and director have been prosecuted twice previously (in 2009 and 2012) for very similar offences. Premises visits this year have revealed a marked improvement in cleanliness and pest control.
We have an important role in food safety and education for our community, through food sampling and safety checks at businesses, responding to food complaints and food product recalls and registration and inspections of nearly 1,500 food premises across Yarra.

Everyone’s got a camera: Mice run around Melbourne McDonald’s edition

Sophie Smith of the Herald Sun reports two videos showing rodents flitting freely around a busy McDonald’s restaurant in Melbourne’s inner-north have emerged.

mice1A disgusted customer, Firoozeh, claims she and friends saw several mice around a McCafe service area of the Collingwood restaurant at midnight on Boxing Day.

Footage uploaded to social media appears to show at least two vermin scampering along the floor between a service counter and a back bench with sink. Another shows one ducking in and out near a stool.

In another video, uploaded to Facebook by Todd Gilbey on December 2, mice scatter along the floor — and one even grabs a chip.

Firoozeh said there were “lots” of mice.

“It wasn’t like three or four mice,” Firoozeh said.

“We watched them for a while; they were coming in and out.

“There were so many and the guy was just coming and scaring them and telling us that, ‘You cannot take video’, because I asked to see the duty manager.”

Firoozeh, who asked the Herald Sun not to publish her surname, said the duty manager at the 24-hour eatery on the corner of Smith St and Victoria Parade became angered when she and her friends raised their concerns.

“He was aggressively stopping me from taking pictures and photos,” she said.

“I’ve never seen such a dirty McDonald’s.

“No-one is cleaning it and it’s supposed to be open for 24 hours. What’s going on?

“I don’t think it’s healthy at all. They were running around and no-one was doing anything.

“Children eat food there.”

Everything’s big in Australia: 6 dead from ‘thunderstorm asthma’ in Melbourne

Rohan Smith of reports doors swung wide open at homes around Melbourne on Monday afternoon in hopes a looming thunderstorm would bring with it a cool change.

thunderstorm-asthmaIt did, but it carried with it something else. The combination of warm weather, a high pollen count and stormy conditions produced what experts call “thunderstorm asthma,” an extremely rare and dangerous phenomenon that saw Victoria run out of ambulances for an entire hour.

Fairfax reported on Tuesday that two people are believed to have died while waiting for ambulances on Monday.

Those who suffered were not prepared. Most said they hadn’t experienced asthma since childhood. They all had one thing in common: Hay fever.

“I’ve never had asthma but do get hay fever, mainly itchy eyes and sneezes, but there were weirdly no other hay fever symptoms (on Monday),” Kate Craig, from Melbourne’s inner west, told

“It hit me all of a sudden about 7.30 last night, I felt like I couldn’t take a full breath and had an awful, chesty, hacking cough. I thought I must have just inhaled some spices while cooking — that’s what it felt like.”

Gary Nunn said he was in transit when he began to have trouble breathing.

“I’d had bad hay fever all day in Melbourne. In the early evening I got to Melbourne Airport and noticed a new symptom: I was struggling to breathe. This had never happened before,” he said.

Q fever outbreak in Melbourne’s west

Julia Medew of The Age reports that health officials are investigating an outbreak of a rare and potentially serious infectious disease among meat workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

q.feverPeople working in and around Vic Wide Meat Brokers and W J Drever in Laverton North are being tested for Q fever after six employees of the two meat businesses fell ill with it.

Other staff working at the site and at similar businesses nearby are now being contacted to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease which usually produces flu-like symptoms and can cause pneumonia and liver inflammation. While only half of all people infected with it get symptoms, it is fatal for one to two per cent of those people.

The Victorian department of health is now writing to contractors who may have visited the site since late last year to provide them with advice about signs and symptoms. The businesses are located at 9 Holcourt Road in Laverton North.

“Both the Department and WorkSafe officials have visited and inspected the premises to check on the vaccination status of other staff, and arrange testing and vaccinations, as required,” said Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest. “At this stage there is no broader public health issue as our investigation shows all exposures have been confined to the site and have occurred in the workplace.”


Cause unknown: 72 sickened by Salmonella in Australian state

Matt Johnston of the Herald Sun reports that Victoria is battling a major outbreak of salmonella and bacteria-related illnesses which has experts desperately searching for a cause.

mayonnaise.raw.eggIn the past two months 72 cases of foodborne infections have been reported to the Department of Health — including 46 identified in one June week alone.

The average number of ­salmonella reports each month is about six.

Despite the outbreak, a clear pattern has not been identified and experts have been unable to pin down a suspect food source.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy has issued a blanket food-safety warning. “All Victorians should remember to take care when preparing food at home, especially during the winter months, to prevent food turning nasty,” she said.

In the first six months of this year there were 67 per cent more cases compared to the last six months of 2015.

Also, Melbourne’s opulent Langham Hotel has been charged over a salmonella outbreak that left 90 diners ­violently ill.

The high tea crisis, which was triggered by raw egg mayonnaise, put 16 people in hospital last year.

The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal Melbourne City Council has charged the hotel over its handling and service of unsafe food and noncompliance with the Food Standards Code.

The case will be heard in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in October.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Heston-in-Australia edition

Heston Blumenthal is like a rock star of the cooking world, and so is his food.

gretzkyNo, this is what a rock star looks like (right, exactly as shown).

But there’s one thing he wishes people would stop doing in his restaurants — taking pictures of their food.

“Chefs always have this problem now, it’s across the board and you can’t control people,” he told while in Melbourne to film Heston Week which starts tonight on MasterChef. “

“I would prefer if they (diners) didn’t take any photos and just enjoyed themselves at the table and certainly not take them throughout the whole meal.

I’d prefer it if they didn’t barf, and wish rock-star Heston and his excess shared that concern.

Australia is like Canada in that they both have an anxiety-driven need to be recognized – even if they say they don’t.

And if Heston is coming to town, that must validate things.

(Note, this is different than Wayne Gretzky coming to Australia in that he actually seeks to promote the spread of ice hockey whereas Heston seeks to promote himself.)

The UK Health Protection Agency report into an outbreak of Norovirus that felled 529 diners at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant in early 2009, clearly identified poor reporting and employees working while sick as contributing factors to the outbreak.

Blumenthal decided to ignore this and take to the Interwebs with his own revisionist version of what went wrong earlier this year.

Television presenter Jim Rosenthal, who was sickened, called Blumenthal’s response, “pathetic.”

“He has basically attempted to re-write the HPA report and its conclusions in his favour. It is pathetic and a complete PR disaster. There isn’t even a hint of apology.

At first I was extremely sympathetic to Heston Blumenthal, but the way this has been mishandled beggars belief. I could not believe what I was reading in this email – it was like we had been sent different reports. I am taking them to court and a lot of other people are too. A simple apology might have ended all this a long time ago.”

vomit.birdBut on with the fawning.

For many people, dinner at Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in London, which recently took up a six-month residency at Crown Casino in Melbourne, is high on their bucket list.

So much so that 15,000 Aussies forked out $525 per person (excluding wine) for the pleasure.

Heston Week, which sees Blumenthal open four MasterChef Australia pop-ups in four days, commences tonight on Ten.

I won’t be watching.

A large foodborne outbreak of norovirus in diners at a restaurant in England between January and February 2009

Epidemiology and Infection September 2012 140 : pp 1695-1701

J. Smith, N. McCarthy, L. Saldana, C. Ihekweazu, K. McPhedran, G. K. Adak, M. Iturriza-Gómara, G. Bickler and É. O’Moore

An outbreak of gastroenteritis affected at least 240 persons who had eaten at a gourmet restaurant over a period of 7 weeks in 2009 in England. Epidemiological, microbiological, and environmental studies were conducted. The case-control study demonstrated increased risk of illness in those who ate from a special ‘tasting menu’ and in particular an oyster, passion fruit jelly and lavender dish (odds ratio 7·0, 95% confidence interval 1·1–45·2). Ten diners and six staff members had laboratory-confirmed norovirus infection. Diners were infected with multiple norovirus strains belonging to genogroups I and II, a pattern characteristic of molluscan shellfish-associated outbreaks. The ongoing risk from dining at the restaurant may have been due to persistent contamination of the oyster supply alone or in combination with further spread via infected food handlers or the restaurant environment. Delayed notification of the outbreak to public health authorities may have contributed to outbreak size and duration.

Street meat: Hey, buddy, can I interest you in a steak?

Thieves are selling cheap meat on Melbourne streets selling stolen groceries for half price.

In the shadows of Melbourne’s carparks and even on the streets, criminals target the elderly and swap money for steak and even olive oil. are losing a large chunk of profit as a result, with $1,000 of meat going missing from a Coles in Richmond in just one afternoon.

Retail Crime Prevention Australia director Sebastian Brown said this had been happening for years but was only now being exposed.

“It’s happening every week and they get away with it,” he said.

“Majority of the time it’s younger thieves or people on drugs that go in supermarkets and steal bulk amounts of meat and go and sell it to people they know want to buy it. They even deliver it.”

Mr Brown said the younger thieves preyed on the elderly.

“They sell the groceries to them and might go and see them on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to sell them the meat half price,” he said.

“It’s just an opportunity for the older people, it’s not the right thing to do but they don’t see it that way, it’s cheaper meat to them.”

Mr Brown said this illegal market was emerging as supermarkets jacked up the price of meat.

And while supermarkets are being hit hard, independent grocers were feeling the most financial pressure as a result of thieves, with some even refusing to put all their product on the shelves out of fear it will be stolen.

Mr Brown said supermarkets should use high quality cameras to deter thieves and install security gates at the front of stores and label food packets with security tags.

It’s not just meat that is being stolen either, dairy products and even toilet paper are being sold on the street for quick cash.

A Current Affair exposed the illegal street dealings after residents in Richmond became fed up with the supermarket scam.

Dozens of trolleys are abandoned on streets and one father said there were times he had found syringes.

Video available at

Australian sushi restaurant fined $40,000

Inspectors found cockroaches in the microwave and freezer at a sushi bar in Brighton, Melbourne, as well as mouldy, grimy surfaces and toxic pest control products near the soy sauce, leading to a $40,000 fine.

Owner Sarah Nguyen, 36, pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges for substandard practices at her sushi bar after it was raided following a customer complaint.

Council officers found unrefrigerated chicken, dirty conditions and sushi stored above regulated temperatures.

They cited 11 non-compliant inspections at the premises over 11 months, according to Nine News. 

The Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court heard that Ms Nguyen kept the eatery in appalling conditions which posed a ‘public safety risk’. 

As the sole proprietor, Nguyen will be footing the entire bill.

Floating barf-o-rama: Golden Princess docks in Melbourne following gastro outbreak

Hundreds of travelers struck down by gastro on a south pacific cruise have docked in Melbourne.

vomit cruisePassengers on the Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess were grateful to hit dry land today, after the 14-day cruise of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

The outbreak comes a month after 158 Sydney-bound passengers became sick on sister ship ­Diamond Princess.

Kerry McNamara from Barwon Heads said she managed to escape a bout of gastro — with sick passengers quarantine in their rooms — but was hit with the flu.

She estimated that the number of people ill could have hit 300.

 “At one stage one of my roommates vomited on her bed and it took three hours to get the sheets changed.”

An elderly man also died of natural causes while on the cruise.

Mrs McNamara said passengers became concerned when “stretcher calls” were made across the 14 days.

Princess Cruises spokesman David Jones refused to release how many passengers had become sick.