529 now sick with Salmonella in Canada: Crisp & Delicious brand chicken breast nuggets recalled

Over a decade ago, when I went to Kansas State, me and Chapman and Phebus came up with a project to see how people cooked raw, frozen chicken thingies.

The American Meat Institute funded it.

Some of these chicken thingies are frozen raw, which means they have to be cooked in an oven and temperature verified with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, and some of these thingies are pre-cooked, so can be thawed in a microwave.

Labelling has changed over the years, but it’s still necessary to know what you’re buying.

Some of the frozen raw products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they should be handled and prepared with caution.

Through whole genome sequencing, health types in Canada had, by Nov. 2, 2018, identified 474 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella linked to 14 national outbreaks involving raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued food recall warnings for ten products linked to some of these outbreak investigations.

Make that 11 products.

Sofina Foods Inc. is now recalling Crisp & Delicious brand Chicken Breast Nuggets from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

As of January 25, 2019, there have been 529 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella illness investigated as part of the illness outbreaks across the country: British Columbia (42), Alberta (81), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (25), Ontario (187), Quebec (111), New Brunswick (27), Nova Scotia (17), Prince Edward Island (5), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2). There have been 90 individuals hospitalized as part of these outbreaks. Three individuals have died; however, Salmonella was not the cause of death for two of those individuals, and it was not determined whether Salmonella contributed to the cause of death for the third individual. Infections have occurred in Canadians of all ages and genders.

All active and future Salmonella outbreak investigations linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products, and related food recall warnings will be listed in the next section of the public health notice to remind Canadians of the ongoing risk associated with these types of food products.

Active investigations

As of January 25, 2019, there is one active national Salmonella outbreak investigation linked to raw chicken including frozen raw breaded chicken products, coordinated by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

January 25, 2019 (NEW) – Salmonella Enteritidis

  • Currently, there are 54 cases of illness in ten provinces linked to this outbreak: British Columbia (4), Alberta (11), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (3), Ontario (20), Quebec (4), New Brunswick (2), Nova Scotia (5), Prince Edward Island (3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). None of the ill individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Frozen raw breaded chicken products have been identified as a source of this outbreak.

Product recall on January 25, 2019

  • Crisp & Delicious Chicken Breast Nuggets (1.6kg) with a best before date of July 19, 2019. UPC – 0 69299 11703 5. The product was distributed in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and may have been distributed in other provinces or territories

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products
01.nov.09
British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820
Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

‘Underground BBQ’ business Big Don’s Smoked Meats hit with $30,000 fines

Keeping with the Australia Day theme, David Johns of Perth Now reports that a Perth business that claims to run “clandestine and illicit” barbecues has been slapped with almost $30,000 in fines for breaching food regulations.

Big Don’s Smoked Meats was hit with the fine after the Town of Victoria Park received a smoke complaint from owner Donovan MacDonald’s St James property in August 2018.

The business was hosting one of its ‘underground barbecue’ events in the backyard of Mr MacDonald’s house.

Victoria Park chief executive Anthony Vuleta said the Town’s environmental health officers discovered Mr MacDonald was advertising cooked meats for sale and catering services — but had not registered his business properly.

The officers also discovered that those preparing the food in Mr MacDonald’s backyard did not have access to appropriate hand washing facilities.

Under the Food Act 2008 (WA), food businesses are not allowed to host events unless they are registered and have approval from the local council.

A representative of Big Don’s Smoked Meats told PerthNow via Facebook that the council’s actions were “ridiculous and very heavy handed” but declined to comment further or be interviewed on the matter.

Mr Vuleta said the Town of Victoria Park took food safety very seriously, and that “several attempts to contact Mr MacDonald before taking action were ignored”.

“He is still advertising his services while remaining unregistered,” he said

Pasteurization works: Acai fruit can transmit Chagas disease

I need to start playing the banjo again.

Artisan juice made with açaí, the fruit of a palm that grows in the rainforests of northern Brazil, could be a major source of infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, two studies suggest.

The disease affects around eight million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and is transmitted by triatomine bugs ‒ blood-sucking insects known by several different names in Latin America (chinche, chirimacha and barbero, among others).
Symptoms of the disease can appear in the first months after the infection, but most people do not show signs of the disease, which makes early diagnosis difficult. When the disease evolves to the chronic phase it can cause cardiac and digestive complications.

The new studies suggest that people can become infected by consuming açaí when the insect vector, or its faeces, are accidentally mixed with the fruit while blending the juice.

The fruit comes into contact with the vector during processing and storage: while kept in open baskets, the açaí fruit ferments and generates carbon dioxide, which attracts the triatomine insect.

One of the papers, published this month in Emerging Infectious Diseases, studied ten individuals in the cities of Manaus and Labrea, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, who had symptoms of fever, headaches and general weakness. The researchers found that these patients were infected with the same varieties of parasite found in artisan açaí juice they had consumed days earlier.

“The findings reinforce the hypothesis that in the Amazon region, açaí juice prepared by hand is one of the sources of infection by the parasite,” says Marcus Lacerda, a physician at the Tropical Medicine Foundation in Manaus, and one of the authors of the study.

Another study, published in the magazine Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, confirms that the growth of Chagas disease in Pará, one of the country’s highest açaí juice-consuming states, is associated with the harvest season of the fruit between August and December.

This conclusion was based on analysis of the state records from Brazil’s Information System for Notifiable Diseases (SINAN), between 2000 and 2016. During this period, 16,807 cases of Chagas disease were reported, and 2,030 of them were confirmed. Most of the confirmed cases occurred during the second half of each year.

Juliana de Meis, immunologist of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC-Fiocruz), in Rio de Janeiro, tells SciDev.Net that further analysis of the data suggests that oral transmission increased much more than other infection routes in that period. De Meis believes that this new study adds to evidence that açaí is one of the main sources of infection by T. cruzi in the region.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 54 per cent of the national production (800,000 tons of açaí per year) comes from 13,000 producers in the state of Pará.

In Belém, the capital of Pará, it is estimated that 200,000 liters of açaí are consumed per day during harvest season ‒ double the quantity consumed in other seasons. This makes it the second most consumed food in the city during that season.

Part of the local production is exported to other regions of Brazil, and further afield to the United States and European countries.

Chagas disease is one of the major health problems facing countries and states in the Amazon region, causing disability in infected people and more than 10,000 deaths per year.

Cases of the disease are growing systematically, says the second study, specifically in Brazil’s Northern Region. According to the 2015 epidemiological bulletin of the country’s Ministry of Health, 812 cases of oral transmission of Chagas disease were confirmed in the state of Pará between 2000 and 2013.

“However, everything indicates that these numbers are an underestimate”, points out De Meisor Angela Junqueira, a biologist at the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases of IOC-Fiocruz, açaí juice contamination can be avoided by appropriate handling of the fruit, including dipping the fruit in boiling water for ten seconds and then spraying them with cold water.

“Although this procedure has been mandatory since 2012, the practice has not been used in the region”, she tells SciDev.Net. 

Junqueira says the risks of disease transmission through açaí consumption outside of the northern region are low, because juice exported to other regions or countries undergo mandatory pasteurization.

“In the Northern Region … it is essential to invest in training of physicians and microscopy specialists so that they can identify the symptoms and make early lab diagnosis”, she suggests.

“It is also necessary to focus on staff training so that they adopt good management practices during the processing of açaí, such as covering the baskets and blenders, and washing the fruit with boiling water”, says Junqueira, adding that the fruit is important for the local economy and diet.

Risk communication sucks, everyone needs innovative food safety stories

Consumers in most developed countries have greater access to safer food than ever before, yet the issue of consumer perception on the safety of the food supply, the control infrastructure and existing and new process technologies is often not positive.

A series of high profile food incidents, which have been ineffectively managed by both the regulators and the industry, and where there has been a failure to be open and transparent, have sensitised a proportion of consumers to scary stories about the food supply. There has been concomitant damage to consumer confidence in (i) the safety of food, (ii) the food industry’s commitment to producing safe food and (iii) the authorities’ ability to oversee the food chain.

Threats to consumers’ health and their genuine concerns have to be addressed with effective risk management and the protection of public health has to be paramount.

Dealing with incorrect fears and misperceptions of risk has also to be addressed but achieving this is very difficult. The competencies of social scientists are needed to assist in gaining insights into consumer perceptions of risk, consumer behaviour and the determinants of trust.

Conventional risk communication will not succeed on its own and more innovative and creative communication strategies are needed to engage with consumers using all available media channels in an open and transparent way. The digital media affords the opportunity to revolutionise engagement with consumers on food safety and nutrition-related issues.

Moving from risk communication to food information communication and consumer engagement

Wall, P. G., & Chen, J. (2018). Moving from risk communication to food information communication and consumer engagement. Npj Science of Food, 2(1). doi:10.1038/s41538-018-0031-7

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329324755_Moving_from_risk_communication_to_food_information_communication_and_consumer_engagement

Because we’ve always wanted antiviral Kleenex

We’re all hosts on a viral planet.

And no, antiviral Kleenex won’t do much.

Erin Biba of The Daily Beast writes that you’ve probably spotted antiviral tissues in the paper goods aisle at your local grocery store. And if you’ve got any kind of science-focused Spidey sense it’s entirely possible they’ve set off pseudoscience alarm bells.

After all, antivirals are usually reserved for prescription-only medications that are used to treat the only most dire cases of flu. And, while you’re right to be skeptical (because honestly we should all always be skeptical of everything), digging into the science reveals antiviral tissues actually do what they claim and inactivate viruses.

Manufactured by Kleenex, and on store shelves since 2004, antiviral tissues are actually patented and approved by the EPA. While their ingredients do not include prescription antiviral medications, the active substances inside the tissues are citric acid and sodium lauryl sulfate, a chemical found in many soaps.

Though the packaging claims to “kill” viruses, what these substances actually do is inactivate them because viruses aren’t alive—they just hijack our cells for their own purposes. In fact, according to Vincent Racaniello, a microbiologist and virus expert at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of CUNY, has personally seen citric acid actually “exploding” viruses upon contact in his lab.

Food Safety Confessional: Connie still thaws meat in the sink (so do I)

Connie, someone I’ve never met but she’s a food safety professional from Guelph (that’s in Ontario, Canada, and it’s a small community) writes:

I’ve been a food safety professional for going on 20 years, I still thaw meat in the sink (sometimes in hot water if I’m really rushed) and in my house, we wash hands after we eat.

I’m a firm advocate of not killing our immune systems by trying to sterilize our homes; according to my research, the illness and deaths that occur now are more frequent, widespread and worse in the effects than ever in the past (Peanut Corporation of America excluded for obvious reasons).

 I don’t take any chances at work, I never would, but at home, sigh, we’re all still alive.

 If you’re ever looking for inspiration for a blog post look no further than the website IFSQN. It’s a great forum for discussion and assistance from experienced FSP but wow, there are some things posted that are positively frightening.

 I am currently advocating with the Canadian government to:
• change our national job description so people realize we are gd professionals and not place holders; and,

• institute a national standard for both auditors and CB (CFIA has accreditation standards, but I don’t think anyone is checking in on auditors).

 I personally believe that GFSI is the downfall of safe food, with people focused on being audit-ready and not on producing safe food.

Puking Veronica: The real indicators of a Norovirus outbreak in a university residence

Been there, done that.

Chapman wrote this back in 2009

Brae Surgeoner, Doug and I had a paper published in the September 2009 Journal of Environmental Health about some research we conducted in the Winter of 2006. The study came about because a whole bunch of kids in the University of Guelph’s residence system started puking from an apparent norovirus outbreak. There were lots of handwashing signs up and we wanted to know whether they changed hygiene behavior (especially if kids were using the tools available when entering the cafeteria). Turns out that the kids weren’t doing as good of a job at hand hygiene as they reported to us.

NC State’s press release is below (the Kansas State release is here):

As public health experts warn of potential widespread outbreaks of H1N1 flu this school year, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that students do not comply with basic preventative measures as much as they think do. In other words, the kids aren’t washing their hands.

“Hand washing is a significant preventative measure for many communicable diseases, from respiratory diseases like H1N1 to foodborne illness agents, such as norovirus,” says Dr. Ben Chapman, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences and food safety extension specialist at NC State. The new study, which examined student compliance with hand hygiene recommendations during an outbreak of norovirus at a university in Ontario, finds that only 17 percent of students followed  posted hand hygiene recommendations – but that 83 percent of students reported that they had been in compliance. Norovirus causes gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting and diarrhea. Every year there are 30 to 40 outbreaks of norovirus on university campuses, affecting thousands of students.

Chapman, who co-authored the research, says this is the first study to observe student hygiene behavior in the midst of an outbreak. Previous studies examined self-reporting data after an outbreak – and the new research shows that the self-reporting data may be inaccurate.

“Typically, health officials put up posters and signs and rely on self-reporting to determine whether these methods are effective,” Chapman says. “And people say they are washing their hands more. But, as it turns out, that’s not true.

“The study shows that while health authorities may give people the tools we think they need to limit the spread of an outbreak, the information we’re giving them is not compelling enough to change their behavior. Basically, it doesn’t work. But we do it again with every outbreak, and we’re doing it now with H1N1.”

Chapman says the study shows that health officials need to target specific audiences, such as students in a particular dorm or who eat at a particular cafeteria, and tailor their information to those audiences. For example, telling them where the nearest washrooms are, or pointing out where hand sanitizer units are located. “The more specific the information is for an audience, the better off you are,” Chapman says.

Chapman adds that health authorities also need to use language appropriate to their target audience. “For example, don’t refer to something as a ‘gastrointestinal illness,’” he says, “instead, tell them ‘this could make you puke’ or ‘dude, wash your hands.’ The idea is to craft compelling messages that create discussion in that audience. Make them talk about it.”

Chapman also says that health officials should take advantage of social media, such as text messaging and Facebook, to raise awareness. “If your audience consists of students,” he explains, “you should use media that students use.

“Campuses need to expect outbreaks will happen and plan accordingly. Have the response tools in hand.”

The study, “University Students’ Hand Hygiene Practice During a Gastrointestinal Outbreak in Residence: What They Say They Do and What They Actually Do,” was co-authored by Chapman, Dr. Douglas Powell of Kansas State University and Brae Surgeoner, a former graduate student at the University of Guelph. The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.

Lacey Burkholder, Katherine Allensworth, Haley Schaffter

https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1815&context=honors_research_projects

Illness contributes to a decrease in student class attendance which can lead to increased academic stress. Decreasing the spread of illness among those living in residence halls is essential to academic success. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify interventions implemented in residence halls on college campuses to reduce the spread of illness. The PICO question directing the research for this study asks, “How do interventions affect the spread of illness in university residence hall populations?”. The research conducted was completed by means of a systematic review of literature including 20 peer reviewed articles published between 1999-2017 from the databases CINAHL Plus, PsychInfo, and PubMed. Findings from this review revealed a focus on three interventions used to decrease illness among college students living in residence halls: (1) hand washing, (2) lifestyle initiatives, and (3) education. Of the three, hand washing and educational measures were found to decrease the spread of illness, while lifestyle initiatives were found to have no direct correlation to the spread of illness.

Food safety confessional: Tell us your stories

I did not create this idea, nor will take credit (unlike lawyers, the credit belongs to Michele and Josh, just like the barfblog name belongs to Christian) but will run with it, using the barfblog forum.

Food safety professionals, we all know everyone messes up.

As we say in therapy, everyone has problems, especially the ones who think they don’t.

So rather than say food safety is simple, we’ve always said it’s hard.

And to show we’re all human, we professionals should confess to our failings (and like therapy, no last names will be used and establishing relationships is discouraged, and no physical contact with the counselliors).

I’ll start, e-mail yours to me or Chapman and we’ll get it posted.

I got religious about using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer for cooking about 2000, in the same way a reformed cigarette smoker is against cigs.

I didn’t like the religion. But there were times I was grilling and didn’t have a thermometer.

Usually I just cooked the shit (literally) out of it.

But I know there were occasions where I undercooked stuff, because of time and drunk pressures.

I also know I have left stock on the counter for days, creating a wonderful colony of Staph. Usually I throw it out, but not always, because I’m still a struggling grad student at heart, and would never turn down anything that was free.

Look forward to hearing from youse.

Loblaws apologizes over viral photo of mouse in bag of bread at a Hamilton No Frills

There was this time about 15 years ago, and I was the scientific advisor for a group of food safety heads at Canadian supermarkets. We’d met once or twice a year, and the first four hours would be devoted to, no one takes my job seriously unless there’s an outbreak.

I could relate.

I guess they kept me on because we did good work when BSE was discovered in Canada in 2003: the only country where beef consumption increased after a mad cow disease warning, partly due to me standing in the snow at 6 am on a Guelph street doing national TV, lots due to Sarah and her team managing the phone lines and providing me with soundbites.

I get the sense Loblaws and its various spin-offs aren’t so vigilant

as they might have been before.

First it was piles of meat thawing in a shopping cart. Now Loblaws is apologizing to customers of a Hamilton No Frills after a photo went viral of a mouse in a bag of bread at the store.

The picture of the tail end of a mouse — visible through the plastic bag surrounding a loaf of D’Italiano bread in a shopping cart — was posted to the website Reddit on Wednesday. The photo had attracted more than 180 comments by the next day.

In a statement, Loblaws public relations director Karen Gumbs apologized to customers — but also assured them the city’s public health department checked out the No Frills location and has “no concerns.”

“The store has taken a number of steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again, including working closely with their third-party pest control team, and inspecting bakery items daily,” she said.

Uh-huh.