NZ mussels at centre of food poisoning outbreak

Seafood lovers have been warned to be careful with raw mussels after an outbreak of food poisoning.

New Zealand Food Safety announced on Friday it’s seen an uptick in the number of people contracting food poisoning from Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Most of the people who got sick ate commercial grown mussels harvested in Coromandel.

“It is possible that the strain of vibrio parahaemolyticus is unusually aggressive, which may mean that even low numbers could cause illness,” NZ food safety director of regulation Paul Dansted said.

“Additional testing of mussels and the waters that they are being grown in is also underway to help us understand why this has happened.

“The mussels at the centre of the outbreak were all bought in their raw state, in the shell. They are not the mussels that can be bought in plastic pottles. Those mussels are cooked and marinated and are not affected.”

NZ Food Safety says people need to be careful when cooking mussels and heat them above 65C. It’s also advised to wash hands after handling shellfish, and avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked shellfish.

69 sick from Salmonella linked to raw sprouts in NZ

If there’s one food safety types will not eat, it’s raw sprouts.

Costco and Walmart stopped selling them five years ago in the U.S.

It’s impossible to get a sandwich or salad in Australia without sprouts.

I’ve written chefs who should not be serving raw sprouts to immunocomprised people in hospitals.

They poo-pooed my concerns.

According to Outbreak News Today there are 67 confirmed Salmonella cases and 2 probable cases linked to sprouts consumption in New Zealand.  Illness onset ranged from December 23, 2018 to April 1, 2019. 66 of the cases became ill between January 23, 2019 and January 25, 2019.  17 people required hospital treatment.

In the wake of the outbreak, GSF New Zealand recalled certain Pams, Sproutman, and Fresh Harvest brand sprout products.  GSF New Zealand said the recall was due to a “production process concern.” Regarding the Salmonella outbreak, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health reported that “Salmonella Typhimurium phage type 108/170 was the causative pathogen identified from cases, sprouts and spent irrigation water tested in this outbreak. Subtyping using Multiple Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA) and whole genome sequencing methods were performed on isolates to confirm cases in the outbreak as well as the outbreak source.”

Probably because they weren’t on maps: Disgusted NZ Pizza Hut staff quit over food safety fears

The Otago Daily Times reports that three Dunedin Pizza Hut workers have resigned in protest after “disgusting” actions by a franchise owner who allegedly served expired food that had been thrown in a skip, extended expiry dates of chicken and seafood and refused to fix a broken mixer that leaked engine oil into dough.

New Zealand fast-food company Restaurant Brands said it was aware of the issues and was working through them as a “matter of urgency”. The Ministry for Primary Industries is also investigating.

The franchise owner has denied the claims.

I have no ill-feelings to NZ and my food safety brethren, others may not.

Trade live cattle, introduce next E. coli O26 sequence type

Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli serogroup O26 is an important public health pathogen. Phylogenetic bacterial lineages in a country can be associated with the level and timing of international imports of live cattle, the main reservoir.

We sequenced the genomes of 152 E. coliO26 isolates from New Zealand and compared them with 252 E. coli O26 genomes from 14 other countries. Gene variation among isolates from humans, animals, and food was strongly associated with country of origin and stx toxin profile but not isolation source. Time of origin estimates indicate serogroup O26 sequence type 21 was introduced at least 3 times into New Zealand from the 1920s to the 1980s, whereas nonvirulent O26 sequence type 29 strains were introduced during the early 2000s.

New Zealand’s remarkably fewer introductions of Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli O26 compared with other countries (such as Japan) might be related to patterns of trade in live cattle.

Use of genomics to investigate historical importation of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli serogroup O26 and nontoxigenic variants into New Zealand

March 2019

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 25 no. 3

Springer Browne1, Patrick J. Biggs, David A. Wilkinson, Adrian L. Cookson, Anne C. Midwinter, Samuel J. Bloomfield, C. Reed Hranac, Lynn E. Rogers, Jonathan C. Marshall, Jackie Benschop, Helen Withers, Steve Hathaway, Tessy George, Patricia Jaros, Hamid Irshad, Yang Fong, Muriel Dufour, Naveena Karki, Taylor Winkleman, and Nigel P. French

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/3/18-0899_article

Food allergies are serious: NZ Hellers fined almost $40,000 over mispackaged Sizzlers sausages

The New Zealand Herald reports that sausage-maker Hellers has been fined almost $40,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 to three children after they suffered allergic reactions to mispackaged sausages.

The children became sick after an incident in September 2017 when staff at Hellers’ Wiri, New Zealand factory did not follow procedures, resulting in Cheese Sizzlers being packaged as Original Sizzlers.

One child ended up in hospital due to an anaphylactic reaction.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) prosecuted the company following an investigation.

Manager of food compliance Melinda Sando said the incident could have been prevented if staff had cross-checked labels and the product itself before packing.

“Cheese Sizzlers were sent to market packaged as Original Sizzlers, which did not have cheese included in the ingredient list. They were distributed to various outlets, including supermarkets,” she said.

“Three children who were allergic to milk complained of allergic reactions after consuming the mispackaged sausages.

“One had a moderate reaction, one a moderate to severe reaction and one a severe anaphylactic reaction that required hospital treatment.”

Following these reports from the public, Hellers initiated a recall of the affected product.

Prior to sentencing, Hellers pleaded guilty to one Food Act 2014 charge of failing to ensure food is safe and suitable.

A reserved judgment by District Court Judge J Bergseng was released late yesterday.

The company was fined $39,375 and ordered to pay $5000 to each of the three victims together with court costs of $130.

‘Rusty’ thumbtack found inside NZ blueberry dessert

As the needle-in-produce saga in Australia subsides, it has spread to New Zealand, probably by dim-witted copycats.

Zoe Hunter of the New Zealand Herald reports a batch of blueberries has been removed from supermarket shelves after a Tauranga man believes he found a “rusty” thumbtack inside the small fruit.

The man, who would only be named as Mr Osborne, was celebrating his wife’s birthday at his mother-in-law’s home last night and took the last mouthful of his dessert when he bit into a thumbtack.

“Luckily I bit into it sideways and spat out the tack,” he said.

He believes the thumbtack was inside one of the blueberries that his mother-in-law used in her cake recipe.

“It seems pretty well thought out because when I pushed it into the side of the blueberry you couldn’t see it,” he said. “It was rusty and slightly bent.”

The man had learned blueberries were a good snack for dogs and he and his wife had just got a new puppy.

“Lucky I did not give it to my dog,” he said.

After the incident, Osborne put the blueberry and thumbtack inside a ziplock bag and notified supermarket staff, who he said had handled the complaint well.

Osborne said his mother-in-law had bought the punnet of blueberries from Pak’nSave in Pāpāmoa on January 21.

He had posted his find on Facebook to warn people about checking their fruit thoroughly before eating it.

A Foodstuffs spokesperson said the company had been notified about the incident and an investigation was under way.

“The batch has been pulled from store shelves and we are going through our stringent investigative process,” she said.

“The outcome of the investigation will be referred to the authorities for their review and support.”

The find was the latest in a series of sharp objects finds in produce around New Zealand.

Foreign objects in fruit and vege in 2018:
December: Pin found in strawberry bought at Pak’nSave Cameron Rd
November: Needle found in a capsicum bought at Countdown Bureta 
November: Needle found inside a punnet of strawberries purchased at a supermarket in the South Island in November
September: Three needles found in three strawberries in one imported punnet of Australian Choice brand strawberries at Countdown St Lukes in Auckland

New Zealand Food Safety advice: 
If you see something out of the ordinary, please take it to your retailer or give us a call on 0800 00 83 33.

Doctors issue warning after rise in Salmonella

To commemorate Australia Day (Jan.26), or Invasion Day as some prefer to call it, medical types in my home state of Queensland have warned of an unexplained spike in Salmonella cases.

Doctor Ryan Harvey said with extreme heat conditions forecast to stay, it was imperative people considered how their food was stored and prepared.

“Food poisoning and illnesses such as Salmonella can not only be incredibly uncomfortable – they can also be dangerous,” Dr Harvey said.

Federal Government statistics show the number of salmonella cases in Australia has increased significantly over the past 20 years and Australia has one of the highest rates of foodborne illness.

‘Turds’ flow through NZ bistro-days after $150,000 fit-out

Hamish McNeilly of Stuff reports a new bistro in Otago that opened less than two weeks ago has been forced to close because of “turds, toilet paper, and p….”.

The word is poop.

Tap & Dough owner Norma Emerson is unsure when, or even if, the fledgling Middlemarch business will open its doors again.

Business had been “going well” until Tuesday night, Emerson said.

Otago bistro Tap & Dough opened on November 10, but was forced to close after floodwater and sewage flowed through the building.

“We expected to see, at the most, a little water in. What we did not expected was the sewage.”

Just metres from the business at the corner of Mold St and Snow Ave, raw sewage overflowed in the rising waters.

Floodwater and raw sewage flowed through The Tap & Dough.

Emerson and her brewer husband, Richard, spent about $150,000 fitting out the leased property, which opened on November 10.

But on Wednesday, decontaminating contractors were removing carpets, wall linings and wood panelling.

“This is a major job. We had turds in here, and all over the carpet.”

When she realised raw sewage was “lapping” at the doors on Tuesday, she called for help.

“I did what any reasonable citizen would do, and rung emergency services”.

Emerson said she was upset by a comment from local Strath Taieri board chairman Barry Williams as volunteers from the fire brigade helped pump water from the bistro.

“He went to the fire brigade and said ‘why are the Emerson’s getting preferential treatment?”‘

“Do I not have a right to protect my property, I’m furious about that.

“It is an emergency when s…., turds, toilet paper, and p…. flow through your door at an eating establishment, at which you have just spent $150,000 on refurbishing.”

The word is shit.

Williams told Stuff he did not recall the incident unfolding that way.

“That’s bloody strange,” he said.

He maintained he asked the volunteer firefighters to pump the excess water into an open ditch, rather than the side of the street.

Williams said he hoped to clear the air with Emerson, “or she could call me”.

It was one of several businesses impacted by sewage in the town, a popular start/finishing point for the Otago Central Rail Trail – about 80km from Dunedin.

On Tuesday a Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said three streets in Middlemarch were closed due to surging from the wastewater network, with a pump used to provide extra capacity.

Happy Thanksgiving and a sheep riding on a truck

To my Canadian brethren, who have consumed the 165F minimum temped bird and are now plopped on the couch watching hockey, including reruns of last night’s barnburner of a hockey game where our beloved but hapless (sorta like me) Toronto Maple Leafs pulled out a 7-6 overtime win against Chicago, I can say we did nothing to celebrate this year.

For every day is … never mind.

The house renovations just got finished, the bank account is empty, maybe we’ll pull something off for American Thanksgiving.

And now, a sheep riding on a truck in New Zealand.

“This is a highly unusual incident and not representative of how sheep are transported in New Zealand,” Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman Peter Hyde said.

Ellerslie resident Ada Rangiwai captured the sight on a cellphone while travelling along the city’s southern motorway. The sheep didn’t seem nervous and it was just standing there, unfazed by the attention.

“It was surfing,” she said.

And if you get a facebook request from me to be friends, ignore it. I, like millions of others, have been hacked.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister and one of my daughters have babies

Emma started caring for Sorenne when she was an undergrad in child studies at Kansas State University about 9 years ago.

She followed the path of others and hooked up with a veterinarian and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, one of my favorite cities (and no, not for The Lord of the Rings movies).

Emma writes she is so honoured to live in this country for so many reasons, and this is now definitely one of them. I highly recommend you Google Jacinda, because she’s doing lots of great things.

“This is The Prime Minister Of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She’s 37. She’s the youngest female Head of Government in the world. She’s also the first western woman to give birth while in this position of power. Two days after the baby was born – with midwives, standard in NZ hospitals – she introduced her to the country during a press conference on the nightly news. It was really lovely. She named her Neve Te Aroha. Te Aroha means “The Love” in Māori. It represents all the names that were submitted (upon her request) from various tribes throughout the country, and was her attempt at capturing them all.

This is her and her partner, no, he’s not her husband (gasp!), walking to the press conference. He’s TV fishing show Host Clarke Gayford, and he will be staying at home with baby Neve when his lady goes back to running the country in 6 weeks. Clarke sports a snazzy sweater he picked up at the op-shop (second-hand store) in Gisborne, and thinks its just kinda logical and he gives up his day job to stay home and look after the baby.

A week after the birth on July 1st Jacinda introduced a $5 billion Families Package that she’d drafted on the floor of her friends house in Hastings – long before her pregnancy. It’s based on the knowledge that the first few years of a babies life are the most important. The package gives an extra $60 a week to families with new babies, and an extra $700 to families for winter heating costs as well (it’s cold as hell down there in the winter). It also increases the Paid Leave for new parents from 18 weeks to 22 weeks. She announced the details via Facebook live, from her couch, right after she’d finished breastfeeding the baby. Because Kiwis. Some of the most down-to-earth, no-drama-having, just-do-it kind of people you’ll ever meet.

And because Women. We really do know how to lead, and to do it well.

Yes, women do.

Amy’s been leading me around for the past five years as I go from drama to drama.

But as I get older I’m accepting that people won’t really care if I do an extra barfblog.com post before I go screaming into that night.

They may care about my family, so welcome to Jasper William Toth, brother to Emerson and second son of 2-of-4 daughter, Jaucelynn, back in Canada, who was born at 4:39 a.m. with the help of a midwife after a couple hours of labour at home.

Jaucelynn writes that Jasper is an impressive 9lbs 2oz and 21 inches long. We are all doing well and excited to start our journey as a family of four.

Jaucelynn was a 10-pounder.

Jasper is grandson #3 for me, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Funky blanket, Probably hot there.