Yersinia sickens 5 in Penn. from bottled milk

The Beaver County Times reports that a local dairy has voluntarily suspended its milk production while health officials investigate what caused five individuals to become sick after drinking glass-bottled milk from the business.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Agriculture and the Allegheny County Health Department are advising the public not to consume glass-bottled pasteurized milk produced by Brunton Dairy in Aliquippa.

State health officials said three young children and two older adults developed diarrhea and other symptoms caused by a bacteria called Yersinia enterocolitica after drinking pasteurized milk in glass bottles from the dairy.

Herb Brunton, a partner in the family business, said the dairy is cooperating with the health department during the investigation.

Calling lasercats: Pennsylvania pizza owner accused of ‘food terrorism by mice,’ sabotaging rivals

A Pennsylvania pizza shop owner is in jail after he allegedly dumped live vermin in his competitors’ restaurants in a case cops are calling "food terrorism by mice."

Nikolas Galiatsatos, 47, who owns Nina’s Bella Pizzeria in Upper Darby walked into Verona Pizza, a few blocks away from his shop on Monday afternoon carrying a bag and asking to use the restroom.

When Fanis Facas, the owner of Verona’s, went to inspect the bathroom after hearing a banging noise, he discovered footprints on the toilet and a bag tucked into the ceiling. He turned the bag over to two officers that happened to be eating in the restaurant.

Cops suspected it was a possible drug deal, but instead of finding drugs in the bag, they found several mice, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

Galiatsatos was then seen walking across the street to Uncle Nick’s Pizza. Cops said after he left the second pizza parlor they found another bag containing five living mice and one dead mouse in a trash can.

He was promptly arrested and now faces charges of criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, harassment and cruelty to animals.

Penn goes state way for restaurant inspection and disclosure

A new law will overhaul the way Pennsylvania’s restaurants are inspected. reports the law imposes a uniform set of safety standards for every restaurant, whether it’s state or local officials carrying out inspections.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said every report will also be posted online.

"I think that’s going to be the big change. We certainly saw it in the state, when we went to an online system. As soon as you know that your inspection is online, for the public view, you certainly are more attuned to making those little changes that are important for food safety."

Redding said the Agriculture Department has been pushing for the changes for more than five years. The law will go into effect in January.

So if online inspection reports make operators “more attuned” then how much more attuned would operators be, with public disclosure on the premises, like a letter grade on the door.

Do handwashing signs make people safe?

Jon Stewart said in 2002,

“If you think the 10 commandments being posted in a school is going to change behavior of children, then you think “Employees Must Wash Hands” is keeping the piss out of your happy meals. It’s not.”

But that doesn’t stop a health department in Pennsylvania from proclaiming “free handwashing signs help keep petting zoos safe.”

Summer fairs and festivals can get free handwashing signs from the Allegheny County Health Department for their petting zoos and farm animal exhibits.

Signs are nice, but maybe the health department should be using their scarce resources to ensure there are suitable handwashing facilities at such exhibits. And that fair promoters know how to properly clean up poop.

Blame the worker; Pennsylvania restaurant reopens after eight sickened by Salmonella; hostess dismissed

Nunzi’s, a popular east Erie, PA, restaurant reopened Wednesday after it voluntarily closed for two weeks after a salmonella outbreak that sickened eight people.

Dennis Williams, a lawyer representing restaurant owners Michael and Betsy Cilladi, said a young hostess tested positive for Salmonella and she is no longer employed at the restaurant.

Williams further stated, "The obvious conclusion is that she somehow transmitted it to those eight people. For lack of a better word, Nunzi’s has been exonerated.”

I’m not comfortable hearing such certainty from anyone, especially a lawyer.

Blame the employee? Did the bosses ask employees to work, even if they were sick? Did they have high expectations for personal hygiene, especially during busy times? Did the owners create a workplace culture that fosters and encourages microbial food safety?

There’s a maggot in my McDonald’s

??“I found a maggot in my cheeseburger.”

So says Robert Comitz who was eating at the McDonald’s on Route 113 near Route 309 in Hilltown, Pennsylvania.

“There was nothing in that kitchen that would make us suspicious of anything.”

So says Dr. David Damsker, the health department’s director, following an inspection of the fast-food joint.

“We’re not sayin nothin.”

That’s what the McDonald’s franchise owner meant by saying nothing when called by reporters.

Comitz said he kept the maggot and is considering filing a lawsuit.?? One of the reasons is because of the response from the restaurant, he said.?? “They think it’s nothing, like you made the story up or something.”

What should food service employees do if they see a mouse?

Tell someone. Call someone. Kill it.

Ignore it?


Pennsylvania lawmakers wanted to know the answer, and are prepared to legislate one if necessary after their cafeteria was shut down due to rodent problems.

As reported by the Patriot-News,

It might have been the most relevant question at Monday’s inquiry into the mouse infestation and other health problems that temporarily closed the state Capitol cafeteria:

Why didn’t cafeteria employees do something?

There was no direct answer.

The closest came from Bruce Walton, vice president for operations for Aramark, Inc., which runs the cafeteria.

He said "leadership changes" have been made, and Aramark is trying to create an "environment of care" in which Capitol cafeteria employees take a proactive approach to quality matters.

Yet the answer to that question — whatever it is — might prove central to the decision of whether Pennsylvania gets a tougher restaurant law.


More rats: rodents close Pennsylvania state capital cafeteria

The cafeteria in the Pennsylvania capital building where the governor and other state legislators hang out, form cliques and toss around tater tots, has not been inspected in four years – despite a state law requiring annual checks — and is now closed after an infestation of rodents was discovered.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner said Thursday he received assurances in 2005 that the state Agriculture Department would inspect the facility, and his auditors later received false assurances that it was being inspected regularly.

Last week, Agriculture Department inspectors finally arrived at the ground-floor cafeteria, a popular coffee and lunch spot. They found a "severe" rodent infestation, including an "excessive" amount of rodent droppings on food preparation equipment and in cabinets, utensil bins and elsewhere. The droppings indicate the presence of live mice and are considered an imminent health risk.

The ground-floor cafeteria is now closed and is not expected to reopen until January.

6 cases of campylobacter linked to raw milk in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is warning consumers who purchased raw milk from Dean Farms in New Castle, Lawrence County, doing business as Pasture Maid Creamery, LLC, to immediately discard the raw milk due to potential bacterial contamination.

Recently, individuals who consumed raw milk purchased from Dean Farms were found to have gastrointestinal illness due to Campylobacter, a bacterial infection. Since January 23, a total of six confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection have been reported among raw milk drinkers in four unrelated households in western Pennsylvania. The investigation is ongoing.

The Department of Health today recommended the owner stop selling raw milk for human consumption, and the owner has agreed to stop selling at this time. In cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, the dairy is providing raw milk samples to be tested for bacterial pathogens.