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.

Raw is risky: NZ raw milk warning as Campylobacter cases rise

Nelson Marlborough Health said in the last four weeks, 24 cases had been notified to the Medical Officer of Health, compared to a range of 6-16 cases in the same period over the previous five years.

A number of known risk factors for campylobacteriosis had been identified in the people affected. These were: drinking raw (unpasteurised) milk or untreated water, and contact with animals and/or nappies.

Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health Dr Stephen Bridgman advised people against drinking raw milk and said it was risky for anyone to consume, but young children and babies, older people, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system were especially at risk of severe illness.

The public health service was working with the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry of Health and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research to identify the reasons for the increase.

A single source cause was yet to be found and investigations were ongoing.

Wasn’t there a Food Safety Authority before this? NZ food safety for a foodie nation

I used to go there a lot, but probably won’t get invited anytime soon.

I get it that politicians have a short life-span, that things change, but New Zealand used to have the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, and then it got sucked into the Ministry of Primary Industries, and now you’re creating New Zealand Food Safety.

The printers of business cards will be pleased with the work.

Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor says the establishment of New Zealand Food Safety will help raise the profile of food safety for all New Zealanders.

It is one of four new business units created within the Ministry for Primary Industries to create a stronger focus on keys areas of work, along with Biosecurity New Zealand, Fisheries New Zealand and Forestry New Zealand.

“In the spirit of manaakitanga, our food safety system cares for the people producing and processing food, as well as those consuming it. It protects consumers at home and abroad by ensuring that food grown, harvested, imported, processed, transported, stored, exported and sold is safe to eat,” Damien O’Connor says.

“The integrity of the food safety system is particularly important to New Zealand because we are a nation of food producers and exporters, and we are trusted across the globe.

“New Zealand Food Safety brings together about 390 people from MPI’s food standard setting, verification and assurance teams into one strong and visible business unit.

NZ poultry industry calls chicken contamination findings ‘scaremongering’

That didn’t take long.

Nor should it.

But the so-called experts undermine their case by not advocating the use of a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and instead relying on the woefully unreliable color test (‘chicken must be fully cooked through until juices run clear) for safety.

A new University of Otago, Wellington study, published last week in the international journal BMC Public Health found an overwhelming majority of consumers were not aware of the widespread Campylobacter contamination.

But the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand is challenging the findings, which it says does not reflect reported Campylobacter statistics nor consumer behaviour.

PIANZ executive director Michael Brooks said the findings did not add up with New Zealand’s soaring chicken consumption, and flat rates of reported campylobacter cases.

“Reported cases of campylobacter have sat between 6000 to 7000 for the past five years, so it’s misleading to estimate there are 30,000 cases occurring,” Brooks said.

“It is important to note that the source of these cases was not always chicken.

“Consumers contract campylobacteriosis from other sources too.”

Brooks said the poultry industry had made significant changes when it came to labelling for food safety.

The association lost control of that access to information once third parties like butchers or supermarkets started packaging their own raw chicken product.

“As an industry it is important for everyone to educate their customers on food safety practices.”

Brooks said he welcomed a collaborative approach with institutions such as Otago University, as consumer education was key to reducing cases of campylobacter.