148 sick from noro at a New York university; over $400K to clean up

The University of Rochester is spending an estimated $30,000 a day on external cleaning and supplies for their response to the Norovirus outbreak—and that’s only with about a quarter of infected students reporting.

norovirus-2The cost figure—provided by Holly Crawford, University CFO and Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance—ramped up on April 12 and has come as the rate of infection is dropping.

It will total nearly $400,000 by Monday and does not include additional internal costs, such as extra staffing and opportunity costs.

“There won’t be any changes this week [for extensive cleaning], but we will have to look at the future beyond that,” Dr. Ralph Manchester, Director of University Health Services (UHS), said.

Sushi safety: Celebrated chef vs. NYC health department

Last week, New York City’s Department of Health closed the popular, acclaimed East Village restaurant Sushi Dojo. The reasons, according to the official report and a statement provided by the DOH, were “a combination of bare hand contact and food out of temperature.”

sushi.dojoThe following day, the restaurant’s Gansevoort Market offshoot, Sushi Dojo Express, was also closed. Somewhat surprisingly, in a statement provided to Eater, Dojo chef David Bouhadana — whose third restaurant, Dojo Izakaya, is still open — wrote that he was closed because of “BS rule, a rule I don’t stand by. Sushi is being ruined [by] gloves, freezing fish and more issues.”

Grub called the chef to talk about what exactly happened, what he’s going to do about it, and why he feels he’s being targeted (an edited version is below — dp).

So, what happened?
The Department of Health, let’s put it this way, the DOH has their rules and their laws, and it is what it is. For sushi, there’s always been a gray area as far as fish, rice, temperatures — everything, really. The rule that applies to me and applies to Taco Bell is no bare-hand contact with raw food.
In sushi, we’re taught to be clean, hygienic, and professional. If you are a clean chef, you don’t need gloves. When a health inspector walks in, we all have our code word, we all have our drill: Put the gloves on, smile to the inspector, they walk in, they walk out. You’re good for six months. The problem is my restaurant is designed so when you first walk in you see me, and through the windows you can see me. But this wasn’t an issue before. Sushi Yasuda has open windows. Sushi Nakazawa has open windows. Every sushi bar has open windows.

When did it become an issue then?
The tipping point came when the inspector told me to throw food away in front of my customers. When an inspector walks into a restaurant, like Eleven Madison Park or wherever, they’re in the kitchen. Nobody knows they’re there. When you walk into my restaurant, I am positioned front and the center.
… This is not a disgusting restaurant. There’s no feces, there’s no vomit, there’s no bacteria (wow, that must be something – dp), there’s no sign of any kind of health-hazardous anything. This is a personal issue. I’ve been talking to a lot of sushi chefs for years now, and right now it’s a huge moment, and of course everyone is behind me, but no one really wants me to use their name or get involved in controversy. But, well, what do we do?

Duh files: Whole Foods still sucks, allegedly overcharge

I’ve long maintained that retailer Whole Foods sucs at food safety and wouldn’t shop there.

whole.foodsThey apparently also suck at pricing.

A New York consumer protection agency alleges that New York City Whole Foods supermarkets have repeatedly overcharged customers for prepackaged foods.

An investigation by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) tested 80 different types of prepackaged food from the city’s Whole Foods locations (eight were open at the time of the investigation; a ninth has since opened). The investigation found all categories included products with incorrect weights, which led to overcharges that ranged from 80 cents for a package of pecan panko to $14.84 for coconut shrimp. The investigation, released Wednesday, also examined vegetable platters, nuts, chicken tenders and berries.

Whole Foods denies the allegations. The supermarket chain called the department’s allegations “overreaching.”

Whole Foods, long known as a higher-priced grocery chain, settled a case in California last year and agreed to pay nearly $800,000 in penalties after pricing discrepancies were found in area Whole Foods in 2012. As part of the settlement, Whole Foods agreed to appoint two state coordinators to oversee pricing accuracy in California, designate an employee at every California store responsible for pricing accuracy and conduct random audits of stores four times a year.

At 9:30 am? Man roasting guinea pig in NYC park

One of the best things about Brisbane is the parks.

They’re everywhere, because the river tends to have a 100-year flood every 10 years.

guinea.pig.bbqThere’s free grills, and it’s normal to just take the cooler and cook a meal at the park.

Maybe they have the same thing in New York City.

A man roasting a guinea pig in Prospect Park on Saturday morning got grilled by police after a 911 caller assumed he was an animal abuser.

Officers responded to an emergency call about someone mistreating a squirrel in the park, police said. But the suspected abuse turned out to be lunch in the making.

The man, who told DNAinfo New York he was from Ecuador, was roasting the squirrel-sized animal on a 4-foot wooden skewer over a barbecue grill near the Ninth Street entrance to the park about 9:30 a.m. The man said the animal was a guinea pig.

It’s legal to grill meat as long as it’s in one of the park’s designated barbecue areas, which was the case in this instance, an NYPD spokesman said. Police did not take any action against the man.

Nosestretcher alert: no studies showing impact of diseases spread to customers from animals in petting zoo, but NY requires handwashing anyway

New York now requires petting zoos to provide for hand washing.

The new law says establishments providing an area where animals are grouped so visitors can view, touch or fondle them must provide appropriate facilities for washing.

claudia.e.coli.petting.zoo.may.14They should be located either at the exit of the petting area or within 50 feet. Signs are required.

The law also authorizes state and city health officials to formulate rules against the spread of bacteria and viruses carried by animals displayed at carnivals, fairs and amusement parks.

Sponsors say there have been no studies so far showing the impact of diseases spread to customers from animals in petting zoos.

And people wonder why journalism sucks.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.

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.

Thousands sickened in 2005 crypto outbreak at NY splash park; settlement of lawsuit in the works

The New York State Court of Claims has granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement of the class action lawsuit filed over the 2005 Cryptosporidium outbreak at the Seneca Lake State Park spray park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf the settlement receives final approval, it would end nine years of litigation with the state of New York involving some 2,500 class members that was weeks from going to trial.

Under terms of the proposed settlement, the state, defendant in the case, has agreed to pay $5 million to end the litigation without going to trial.

That amount, minus any attorney fees and costs awarded by Court of Claims Judge Nicholas Midey Jr. to lawyers for the class will be distributed among the class members according to their award category.

The categories are those who were hospitalized with the diarrheal illness, those who were treated at an emergency room, those who were treated at a non-hospital emergency room and those who received other forms of medical care.

The money also would be used to pay settlement administration costs.

Any funds remaining after the allocation of class member awards and payments for administration expenses would then be allocated on a pro-rated basis among class members who filed a claim form.

Boy, 4, makes miraculous recovery at New York hospital after complications from E. coli O157

Jacob LaRose almost didn’t make it to pre-K.

ecoli11n-1-webJake’s mother, Kimberly LaRose, is still unsure just how her 4-year-old son, as well as 2-year-old daughter Hayden, came into contact with E. coli O157.

Both Hayden and Jake fell ill with diarrhea in March, but when their pediatrician noted how sick Jake looked, the family took him straight to the ER.

They didn’t leave until Memorial Day weekend.

He stayed in the hospital three more weeks to recover. Kimberly and her husband, Brian, traded visiting hours, but one parent was always with Jake, and the other could Skype to say hello or goodnight. His little sister wasn’t able to visit him for six weeks.

Shellfishing areas in New York waters temporarily closed after reports of foodborne illness

Following reports of foodborne illness, harvesting of oysters and hard clams in some Town of Huntington waters was to be temporarily banned as of sunrise Friday as a precaution, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said late Thursday afternoon.

SUN0705N-Oyster7Tests linked a number of cases of illness to Vibrio parahaemolyticus, also known as Vp, which is a marine bacterium that occurs naturally, said the DEC, which could not immediately say how many people were affected. Vp is often associated with warm water and not connected to contamination from sewage or storm water, the DEC said.

Who steals seafood? New Yorkers

A thief stole a tractor-trailer holding more than $1,000 worth of seafood in Eastchester on Monday, according to the NYPD.

3392_1384449356Police are looking for the the maroon-colored Freightliner cab, license plate number F4475N, and trailer, plate number 0753CP, which were stolen while parked at the intersection of Pinkney and Hutchinson avenues at about 12:15 p.m. on Sept. 1, police said.

Norovirus fells over a hundred at New York school function

“For about 5 hours, I wanted to die.”

That sums up my experiences with norovirus, but this quote comes from Jennifer Schadt, a mom who attended a Harrison, NY awards banquet with her son on April 30. According to the Journal News, at least 110 Rye High School  teachers, parents and students were barfing and had the runs after eating at the Willow Ridge Country Club.1399675963000-GetContentCA2G9NJE

Nanami Kanno, 17, a junior at the school, said she and her mother became sick two days after the dinner, suffering stomach pains for a couple of days before feeling better.

“It was horrible,” she said. “It was suppose to be a good night for students who got awards but it turned out to be a bad night because of the food.”

The Westchester Department of Health, which takes the lead investigating disease outbreaks, said its policy is not to inform the general public when there is a norovirus outbreak, only the people it believes to be affected, spokeswoman Caren Halbfinger said.

Willow Ridge manager Scott Garvin said the facility was cleaned and has been allowed to reopen. It appeared to be closed Friday night.

Both Rye High School and Rye Middle School were sanitized to try to stem spread of the disease, Superintendent Frank Alvarez told parents.