A report by the UK Health Protection Agency concluded that 529 patrons paying a ridiculous amount of money for food-porn styled dishes were sickened with Norovirus – this at a restaurant that only seats 40 patrons per night — introduced through contaminated shellfish, including oysters that were served raw and razor clams that may not have been appropriately handled or cooked.
Investigators identified several weaknesses in procedures at the restaurant that may have contributed to ongoing transmission including: delayed response to the incident, the use of inappropriate environmental cleaning products, and staff working when ill. Up to 16 of the restaurant’s food handlers were reportedly working with Norovirus symptoms before it was voluntarily closed.
Last week it was announced that Heston Blumenthal’s scandal-plagued Australian restaurant appears doomed after its landlord and financial backer, Crown Casino, said it had moved to terminate its lease.
The company behind the Dinner by Heston restaurant appointed provisional liquidators just before Christmas. It came just days after it missed a deadline with the Fair Work Ombudsman to pay back staff the millions it owed them for underpayment.
In a statement Crown said due to the appointment of the provisional liquidator “it has taken action” to terminate the lease of restaurant owner Tipsy Cake Pty Limited.
“While this is disappointing, Crown is working to provide assistance to Tipsy Cake employees looking for employment within Crown,” a Crown spokeswoman said. “The provisional liquidator of Tipsy Cake, however, will need to deal with employee matters at the first instance.”
In December 2018, a Sunday Age investigation revealed that Dinner by Heston was dramatically underpaying staff and Tipsy Cake, the company that owned the restaurant, was based in a notorious tax haven.
The investigation revealed chefs at the Southbank eatery regularly worked 25 hours of unpaid overtime a week. That pushed pay down to as little as $15 to $17 an hour, well below the minimum rates of the award, the wages safety net.
The Fair Work Ombudsman soon after launched an investigation.
The spokeswoman said Crown would allow customers who purchased Dinner by Heston gift cards to exchange them for Crown gift cards. No timeframe was provided by Crown on when the lease of one of its high-profile tenants would end.
The move to terminate the lease creates further uncertainty for employees who had hoped that Crown may financially support the restaurant to keep it open.
Crown had provided the business – one of its marquee tenants – with a $750,000 interest free loan. Industry sources said the interest free loan could have been used as a way to lure such a high profile business to the casino, boosting its appeal to visitors
Before Christmas Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said it was disappointing that Tipsy Cake had not resolved the underpayment issue before it went into provisional liquidation.
Accounts for the Dinner by Heston restaurant show it has reported persistent losses since opening in Melbourne in 2015.
The accounts disclosed it was dependent on interest free loans from a related company run through a Caribbean tax haven and Crown Melbourne ‘’to continue operating’’.
But its opaque structure – restaurant owner Tipsy Cake is based on the volcanic Caribbean island of Nevis – made it hard to determine the true health of the business.
The ownership of companies incorporated in Nevis is never disclosed so there is no way to know who is behind companies created there.
But the company has said Blumenthal sold his shareholding more than a decade ago but remained its chef patron and “integral’’ to its operation.
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine report some people call it the ship cruise virus, but norovirus can be found in many other places. People can catch this very contagious virus from an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes acute gastroenteritis – the stomach and/or the intestines get inflamed, and this leads to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Noroviruses are the leading cause of foodborne illness.
Teams of researchers around the world have been working for more than four decades to find a way to grow this virus in the lab. Success came in 2016 from the laboratory of Dr. Mary K. Estes at Baylor College of Medicine, where she and her colleagues grew, for the first time, noroviruses in laboratory cultures of human intestinal epithelial cells.
This work, published in Science, represents a major step forward in the study of human gastroenteritis viruses because it is allowing researchers to explore and develop procedures to prevent and treat infection and to better understand norovirus biology.
“In the Science paper, we showed that bile, a yellowish fluid produced by the liver that helps digest fats in the small intestine, was key to successfully culturing certain strains of norovirus in the lab,” said Victoria R. Tenge, graduate student of molecular virology and microbiology in the Estes’s lab. “The work discussed here (of which Tenge is co-first author) shows the results of our continuing investigations to identify the bile components that are involved in promoting norovirus infection.”
The researchers worked with human enteroids, a laboratory model of human intestinal cells that retains properties of the small intestine and is physiologically active.
“Mini-guts, as we call them, closely represent actual small intestine tissue, and, importantly, they support norovirus growth, allowing researchers to study how this virus causes disease,” said co-first author Dr. Umesh Karandikar, a research scientist in the Estes lab.
The researchers discovered that bile acids and ceramide in bile were necessary for viral infection.
“Interestingly, we also discovered that bile acids stimulated the process of endocytosis in mini-guts, which was not previously appreciated. Endocytosis is a normal cellular process that cells use to acquire materials from their environment,” said corresponding author, Dr. Mary K. Estes, Cullen Foundation Endowed Professor Chair of Human and Molecular Virology at Baylor College of Medicine and emeritus founding director of the Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center.
Their findings led the researchers to propose that as bile acids activate endocytosis, they create a stage that norovirus takes advantage of by riding along with it to enter the cells and subsequently replicate, causing disease.
“This strategy works well for a food-borne virus,” said co-first author Dr. Kosuke Murakami, who was working in the Estes lab during most of this project. He is currently at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo. “As people ingest food, the body’s normal response is to secrete bile into the small intestine. Noroviruses contaminating food piggyback on this natural bodily response to invade cells in the small intestine, replicate and cause disease.”
We talk a lot about Norovirus because there are a lot of outbreaks and a lot of sick people.
In July 2018, recombinant norovirus GII.Pe-GII.4 Sydney was detected in dogs who had diarrhea in a kennel and in children living on the same premises in Thailand. Whole-genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of 4 noroviruses from Thailand showed that the canine norovirus was closely related to human norovirus GII.Pe-GII.4 Sydney, suggesting human-to-canine transmission.
WTVR reports health officials announced Saturday an extension of the ban on shellfish harvesting in the waters off Parrot Island in the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County.
The news comes after Virginia Department of Health officials banned the harvesting of oysters and clams in that stretch of the river on Dec. 27 following a Norovirus outbreak in Colorado linked to shellfish harvested from the area.
As a result, oysters harvested between Dec. 1, 2019 through Jan. 11, 2020 are being recalled.
The only oysters affected by the recall were shipped by Rappahanock River Oyster Company from lease numbers 18403, 18417, and 19260 in the Rappahanock River, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The company said the oysters were sold under the Emersum brand name.
Officials noted crabs and fin fish in the river are still safe to catch.
Outbreak News Today reports that French health authorities (Santé publique France) say since December 2019, 179 compulsory declarations (DO) of collective food poisoning ( toxi-infection alimentaire collective-TIAC) suspected of being linked to the consumption of raw shellfish, mainly oysters.
The reports come from the majority of regions in mainland France.
Seventy-seven percent of cases occurred since December 23, with the peak of patients being observed around December 25-27.
The symptoms, mainly diarrhea and vomiting, as well as the incubation times, are compatible with infections with norovirus or other enteric viruses. Stool tests performed to date by the National Reference Center for Gastroenteritis Viruses have confirmed the presence of norovirus and other enteric viruses.
The number of TIAC suspected of being linked to the consumption of raw shellfish is significantly higher than in previous years. Each year between 25 and 120 TIAC suspected of being linked to the consumption of shellfish are reported to Public Health France, of which between 4 and 30 occurred during the December-January periods.
Jessica Grose of The New York Times writes that “two days before my 37th birthday, I received the following bone-chilling email from my daughter’s elementary school: “Dear Families, We wanted to inform you that we had an unusually high number of students across all grades suffering from symptoms of a stomach bug.”
One day before my 37th birthday, I had a parent-teacher conference in that building of horrors.
You know where this is going: I spent my birthday eve in the local E.R., getting fluids and the anti-nausea medication Zofran pumped into my veins. “You need to break the barf cycle,” the attending doctor said.
The ailment sweeping my kid’s school and my intestines was norovirus, a highly contagious stomach bug that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. There are multiple strains of norovirus, so you can catch it more than once in a season — and it’s basically hanging around all winter, from November to April.
Human norovirus (HuNoV) is a foremost cause of domestically acquired foodborne acute gastroenteritis and outbreaks. Despite industrial efforts to control HuNoV contamination of foods, its prevalence in foodstuffs at retail is significant. HuNoV infections are often associated with the consumption of contaminated produce, including ready-to-eat (RTE) salads.
Decontamination of produce by washing with disinfectants is a consumer habit which could significantly contribute to mitigate the risk of infection. The aim of our study was to measure the effectiveness of chemical sanitizers in inactivating genogroup I and II HuNoV strains on mixed salads using a propidium monoazide (PMAxx)-viability RTqPCR assay. Addition of sodium hypochlorite, peracetic acid, or chlorine dioxide significantly enhanced viral removal as compared with water alone. Peracetic acid provided the highest effectiveness, with log10 reductions on virus levels of 3.66 ± 0.40 and 3.33 ± 0.19 for genogroup I and II, respectively. Chlorine dioxide showed lower disinfection efficiency.
Our results provide information useful to the food industry and final consumers for improving the microbiological safety of fresh products in relation to foodborne viruses.
Effectiveness of consumers washing with sanitizers to reduce human norovirus on mixed salad
Eduard Anfruns-Estrada, Marilisa Bottaro, Rosa Pinto, Susana Guix, Albert Bosch
The case study is part of a wider project done by ECDC within the context of EU Decision 1082/2013/EU on serious cross-border threats to health. It is part of a multi-country case study project that investigates the synergies between communities affected by serious public health threats and the institutions (both health- and non-health-related) mandated to prepare for and respond to them.
The premise for the project is that affected communities are increasingly recognised as key resources in public health emergencies, and that the concerns and experiences of ordinary people should be harnessed as an important part of the response.
Community engagement and institutional collaboration in Iceland during a norovirus outbreak at an outdoor/scout centre (10-15 August 2017)