Dough used in dessert fingered in Pizza Ranch outbreak

The source of an outbreak at the aptly-named Pizza Ranch is a mystery. But it appears to be linked to skillet dough used in some desserts.

Dough and E. coli O157 have been a pair in the past – raw prepackaged Nestle cookie dough caused 72 illnesses in 2009. Flour was thought to be the

The Des Moines Register, based on initial reporting by Food Poisoning Bulletin, quotes Brittany Behm,  a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behm says the outbreak stretches back to December and includes 13 cases.

Nine of the people said they recently had eaten at Pizza Ranches, she said. Two children, in Kansas and Nebraska, suffered kidney failure and had to be hospitalized. They have since recovered, Behm said. None of the patients died.

David Werning, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, said Iowa officials picked up samples from Pizza Ranch restaurants in Denison and Sergeant Bluff, then forwarded them to federal investigators. No E. coli bacteria were found in those samples, he said.

Pizza Ranch released a statement Wednesday morning from its Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Achterhoff:

“Since late January, we have been assisting public health officials who are investigating 13 cases of illness attributed to a specific strain of E. coli O157 bacteria. Nine of the affected individuals reported having eaten at nine different Pizza Ranches in seven states. There are also individuals multiple states away from the nearest Pizza Ranch that reported not eating at Pizza Ranch that have the same strain of E. coli O157, though health investigators have not been able to pinpoint how they contracted the strain. The most recent reported illness related to this outbreak reported eating at one of our locations on January 30, 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told us that it believes the outbreak is concluded.

“We removed our Skillet Dough mix immediately from use in response to information suggesting that this product was a possible common factor in the illnesses and subsequently expanded this product withdrawal to include our Original Dough mix.

“The fact pattern shows that the source of bacteria originated from an outside supplier rather than at our restaurants. Several states collected products from Pizza Ranch restaurant locations to test for the presence of E.coli O157 though it was not found in any products tested. Pizza Ranch independently ran over 40 tests on different products to test for the presence of E. coli O157 and it was not found in any products tested. We provided public health investigators with a list of all of our ingredients as well as contact information for our ingredient suppliers. We also contacted the supplier of our dough mixes regarding this issue with the request that they cooperate with state and federal health officials.

“In addition, we instructed all Pizza Ranch locations to complete a special, precautionary cleaning of all surfaces and equipment used in dough preparation or service. Our franchisees and their team members responded with professionalism and great attention to detail. As a result, we continue to have absolute confidence in the quality and wholesomeness of every item we serve. All Pizza Ranch locations are open and serving their full menu.”

Blaming suppliers for this seems odd. Pathogens come into restaurants all the time. Limiting cross contamination and ensuring that cooking methods (like how they prepare the dessert pizza) are things Pizza Ranch needs to control.

Reduction of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli attached to stainless steel

Amy R. Parks and Mindy M. Brashears write in Food Safety Magazine that shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are pathogens of concern across various products within the food industry, as they have been connected to a wide variety of outbreaks and recalls.

e.coli.vaccine.beefMost of the scientific literature concerning the removal of attached STEC cells focuses on E. coli O157:H7, as it was the first STEC to be considered an adulterant in nonintact beef products in the United States after a large outbreak from undercooked ground beef patties in 1982.

Worldwide, non-O157 STEC strains are estimated to cause 20 to 50 percent of STEC-related infections. A review of outbreaks from 1983 through 2002 found six serogroups (O26, O111, O103, O121, O145 and O45) to be the most common non-O157 STECs causing human illness in the United States.With an estimated 70 percent of non-O157 STEC infections being caused by these serogroups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has included these serogroups along with E. coli O157:H7 as adulterants in nonintact beef products.

Biofilms are communities of microorganisms that can form on both living and nonliving surfaces, including those found in food processing plants. Biofilm formation depends on the microorganisms present and can be affected by a variety of environmental conditions, including nutrient availability, temperature, the cleanliness of the surface and the presence of other microorganisms. Previous studies have determined that E. coli O157:H7 can attach and form biofilms on surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic.

A series of studies, including two conducted in our laboratory, have shown STEC attachment is strain dependent. This finding was important because it shows assumptions cannot be made about the entire serogroup in terms of attachment to and biofilm formation on these surfaces.

E. coli O157 shedding in dairy cattle

Escherichia coli O157 is a human pathogen carried asymptomatically by cattle and shed in their feces. Infection can occur from the consumption of contaminated beef or by direct contact. variations of E. coli O157 shedding in cattle exist and vary in the number of cattle positive for E. coli O157 and the amount of bacteria (c.f.u./g feces) shed by positive animals. To investigate E. coli O157 shedding and super-shedding (>104 c.f.u./g) we used daily sampling over two 8-day periods; in January 2013 (n = 12) and February 2013 (n = 21).

Samples were tested by direct faecal culture for enumeration and by immunomagnetic separation to detect lower levels of shedding. We identified three patterns of shedding, similar to previously observed descriptions: intermittent, transient and consistent. The most commonly observed pattern was intermittent shedding and variation in the level of shedding could be large. This extreme variation is demonstrated by a heifer from which E. coli O157 could be not detected one day, was super-shedding E. coli O157 the next and was detected as shedding >100 c.f.u./g the following day. Recto-anal mucosal swab testing did not predict super-shedding in this cohort of heifers.

The variable individual patterns of shedding suggest that a common mechanism of infection may not operate within such a herd when considering previously described patterns and the inferred mechanisms. The sporadic and intermittent nature of shedding is a challenge to identifying risk factors and potential intervention strategies.

Daily variations in Escherichia coli O157 shedding patterns in a cohort of dairy heifers at pasture

Daily variations in Escherichia coli O157 shedding patterns in a cohort of dairy heifers at pasture

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 143 / Issue 07 / May 2015

  1. J. Williams, M. P. Ward, and O. P. Dhungyel


Effect of acid adaptation and acid shock on thermal tolerance and survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and O111 in apple juice

Gradual exposure to moderate acidic environments may enhance the thermal tolerance and survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in acid and acidified foods. Limited studies comparing methodologies to induce this phenomenon have been performed. effects of strain and physiological state on thermal tolerance and survival of E. coli in apple juice were studied. The decimal reduction time (D-value) at 56°C [D 56° C] was determined for E. coli O157:H7 strains C7927 and ATCC 43895 and E. coli O111 at four physiological states: unadapted, acid-shocked (two methodologies used), and acid-adapted cells. The effect of acidulant was also evaluated by determining the D 56° C for the O157:H7 strains subjected to acid shock during 18 h in Trypticase soy broth (TSB), with pH 5 adjusted with hydrochloric, lactic, and malic acids. Survival of the three strains at four physiological states was determined at 1 ± 1°C and 24 ± 2°C.

Experiments were performed in triplicate. For thermal inactivation, a significant interaction was found between strain and physiological state (P < 0.0001). Highest thermal tolerance was observed for the 43895 strain subjected to acid shock during 18 h in TSB acidified with HCl (D 56° C of 3.0 ± 0.1 min) and the lowest for the acid-shocked C7927 strain treated for 4 h in TSB acidified with HCl (D 56° C of 0.45 ± 0.06 min). Acidulants did not alter the heat tolerance of strain C7927 (D 56° C of 1.9 ± 0.1 min; P > 0.05) but significantly affected strain 43895 (P < 0.05), showing the greatest tolerance when malic acid was used (D 56° C of 3.7 ± 0.3 min).

A significant interaction between strain, storage temperature, and physiological state was noted during the survival experiments (P < 0.05). E. coli O111 was the most resistant strain, surviving 6 and 23 days at 24 and 1°C, respectively. Our findings may assist in designing challenge studies for juices and other pH-controlled products, where Shiga toxin–producing E. coli represents the pathogen of concern.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 10, October 2014, pp. 1656-1833, pp. 1656-1663(8)

Usaga, Jessie, Worobo, Randy W.,  Padilla-Zakour, Olga I.

5 sick; E. coli cases in Alberta but no link to beef recall, officials say

Alberta Health Services is investigating four cases of E. coli poisoning in the Edmonton area and one case in Calgary.

“We always investigate E. coli. That’s standard process when we get a case of E. coli,” AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said.

“We’re not linking it whatsoever to the (beef) recall. Our investigation is about finding the potential source.”

This week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced a recall of ground beef and ground-beef products that were manufactured at an Alberta plant and sold at major retailers including Safeway, Wal Mart, Superstore, Sobeys and Costco.

Concerned about possible contamination of E. coli O157: H7 at its processing facility in Brooks, XL Foods alerted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and issued the voluntary recall.

The Edmonton-area E. coli cases were reported recently to the health authority, and the investigation into the Calgary case began Monday.

CTV News in Calgary is reporting that a four-year-old girl became sick from eating tainted beef patties on Labour Day, according to the girl’s family. The family of Sarah Demoskoff told CTV that doctors said Sarah’s illness was linked to the beef recall.

Nosestretcher alert: Buying organic cow can help avoid E. coli

Eager to capitalize on news of the day, Mary Forstbauer, an organic farmer in Chilliwack, B.C. who sells beef at farmer’s markets across Metro Vancouver, told News1130 E. coli is not as common in organically-raised cattle.

"Cows are meant to eat grass, not grains. Quite often, when they have a diet of grain, that causes their intestine to produce bacteria that’s not natural — which is the E. coli — and that would then contaminate some of the meat products.”

Just because this nugget has been repeated and amplified amongst foodies and on the Internet since 1998 doesn’t make it true.

E. coli happens. In ruminants. Like cattle.

Improvements made, but Wales still struggling with food safety

 The Welsh government has been criticized by a consumer group for failing to publish a key food safety review, more than a year after it was due.

Madeleine Brindly reports that Consumer Focus Wales called on First Minister Carwyn Jones to make public the findings of a report he commissioned in 2010 into how best to enforce food hygiene regulations in Wales. The Food Standards Agency report should have been published in February 2011.

Overall the consumer body said good progress has been made implementing the 24 recommendations made by official inquiry that followed the 2005 deadly E.coli O157 outbreak that claimed the life of five-year-old Mason Jones in the South Wales Valleys.

Consumer Focus Wales has praised a proposed new law to force restaurants and takeaways to display their food hygiene rating scores.

Liz Withers, head of policy at Consumer Focus Wales, said, “There have been great strides in food safety, with the Welsh Government promising to make it law for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings on food business premises.

“But we are disappointed a year on from our last report, the Food Standards Agency food law enforcement review, commissioned by the Welsh Government, has yet to be published. It is 12 months overdue – this simply isn’t good enough for consumers in Wales.”

Professor Hugh Pennington led the inquiry into the 2005 E. coli O157 outbreak in the South Wales valleys, which was caused by rogue butcher William John Tudor and killed five-year-old Deri schoolboy Mason Jones.

The Consumer Focus Wales report, the third of its kind, said many of the Pennington recommendations have not been implemented.

18 confirmed cases up from 8; UK school remains shut until Easter after E. coli outbreak

BBC News reports that a Staffordshire primary school which was closed because of an E. coli outbreak is expected to remain shut until after Easter.

The closure followed 18 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 at Friarswood Primary School in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Year 4, 5 and 6 pupils will be taught in a nearby college while a thorough deep cleaning is carried out.

The Health Protection Agency is still trying to find the source of the bacteria.

Staffordshire school shut over E. coli outbreak

BBC News reports three cases of E. coli O157 have been confirmed and all pupils at Friarswood Primary School in Newcastle-under-Lyme are being tested. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the school had been closed.

Staffordshire County Council said it is believed the infection was brought into the school from an outside source. A thorough clean is now under way.

Seek and find: laboratory practices and incidence of non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli infections

Stigi et al. report in the March, 2012, issue of Emerging Infectious Disease that in a survey of laboratories in Washington State, increased use of Shiga toxin assays correlated with increased reported incidence of non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections during 2005–2010.

Despite increased assay use, only half of processed stool specimens underwent Shiga toxin testing during 2010, suggesting substantial underdetection of non-O157 STEC infections.

Strains of Shiga toxin (Stx)–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are differentiated by the O antigen on their outer membrane and are broadly classified as O157 or non-O157 STEC. The ability to produce Stx is a key virulence trait of STEC. STEC infections in humans often cause a self-limited diarrheal illness but can be complicated by hemorrhagic colitis or hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Unlike other E. coli strains, serogroup O157 isolates do not ferment sorbitol and are readily identified by culture, appearing colorless on sorbitol MacConkey agar. Both O157 and non-O157 STEC can be identified by detecting Stx with nonculture assays that became commercially available in the United States in 1995. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published formal STEC testing recommendations for clinical laboratories in 2009, advocating that all stool specimens submitted for routine bacterial pathogen testing be simultaneously cultured for O157 STEC and tested with a nonculture assay to detect Stx. Use of this testing protocol ensures timely identification of all STEC infections. Exclusive testing for Stx delays specific identification of O157 STEC and may impede prompt detection of common-source outbreaks.

Non-O157 STEC infection has been a nationally notifiable condition since 2000. Although studies have documented the increased incidence of reported non-O157 STEC infections over the past decade, few have determined the proportion of laboratories that routinely test all submitted stool specimens for Stx and, to our knowledge, no study has quantified STEC testing practices by of stool specimens processed for bacterial culture. Our objectives, therefore, were to quantify statewide STEC testing practice by proportion of stool specimens processed for bacterial culture and to determine the contribution of enhanced STEC testing practice to increased reported incidence of non-O157 STEC infections.

The complete report is available at: