Salmonella cases double in Denmark

Ben Hamilton of CPH Post reports there were twice as many salmonella outbreaks in Denmark in 2017 than in the previous year.

In total, there were 25 outbreaks, and 1,067 people became ill as a result.

The increase is partly blamed on improved ways of detecting outbreaks. ‘Whole genome sequencing’, for example, makes it easier to detect the same source of infection.

“We hope it can lead to a decline in salmonella cases in the long term,” noted Luise Müller, an epidemiologist at Statens Serum Institut.

“It should enable us to become better at deducing why some foods are more likely to make people sicker than others.”

Danish-produced pork was the biggest culprit, while there were no cases sourced to chicken.

Foodborne outbreaks in general are increasing. In 2017, there were 63, up from 49 in the previous year.

The biggest culprit is campylobacter, a bacterium that made 4,257 people ill in 2017.

1 dead, 42 sick: E. coli outbreak linked to pork products in Alberta declared over

On Friday, Alberta Health Services said the E. coli outbreak linked to certain pork products in the province was officially over.

AHS started investigating a number of confirmed cases on March 29.

The outbreak was connected to some pork products sold and distributed by The Meat Shop at Pine Haven. Several other businesses were impacted since they used the affected pork products and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a food recall.

In total, there were 42 lab-confirmed cases of E. coli linked to this outbreak.

Thirteen patients needed medical treatment at the hospital and one person “died likely due to infection with E. coli,” AHS said.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of the patient who died and all of those affected by this,” said Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health for the Edmonton zone. “We would like to thank our federal and provincial partners for their collaboration on this investigation.”

40 sick, 1 dead: Alberta meat retailers struggling on the E. coli chain gang

Supply chain? Blockchain? Chain gang?

In food safety, anyone is only as good as their weakest link.

The fall-out can be devastating.

Several businesses have been impacted, positively and negatively, by the current E. coli outbreak. CTV Edmonton’s Dan Grummett reports.

As the number of Alberta residents sickened by pork tainted with E. coli rises, many of the butcher shops caught up in the ensuing recall say their businesses’ reputations have been damaged.

Since the outbreak began in late March, 40 cases of E. coli infection have been confirmed; 12 people have been hospitalized and one person has died.

The outbreak began when several people who visited the same restaurant in Edmonton become ill. Alberta Health Services soon traced the illnesses to pork products distributed by The Meat Shop in Pine Haven, Alb.

Edmonton’s Real Deal Meats says her family-run business has had to throw away thousands of dollars worth of meat.

That prompted a recall that has since expanded to include raw and frozen meat, ground pork, sausages and more. The products have only been distributed in Alberta.

An Edmonton law firm has already begun a $15-million lawsuit against The Meat Shop, on behalf of those who have become ill. But more than half a dozen businesses whose names have been caught up in the recall say their reputations are taking a hit too.

Alicia Boisvert of Edmonton’s Real Deal Meats says her family-run business has had to throw away thousands of dollars worth of meat — much of it returned by customers.

“We have to remove all the packaging… before the truck picks it up,” she told CTV Edmonton. “And then we have to pay for that (removal). Obviously, we’re going to have to figure that out as well.”

Another business whose reputation has taken a hit in this outbreak is Mama Nita’s Filipino Cuisine in southeast Edmonton – the restaurant where the outbreak began.

A full 21 of the 40 lab-confirmed cases have been linked to Mama Nita’s. The restaurant is still open but would not speak to CTV Edmonton about how their business is doing.

The other 19 illnesses — including the one involving the patient who died — have been linked to pork sold by Pine Haven’s retail partners.

The names of each business have been listed on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website, their store fronts splashed on the news even if they didn’t sell any contaminated pork.

Real Deal Meats’ Boisvert says, just being associated with an E. coli outbreak has led to many sleepless night for her and her family.

At K&K Foodliner — another food retailer caught up in the recall — business is slower. Even though Pine Haven pork is no longer sold at the store, general manager Kevin Krause says some customers are avoiding pork altogether.

“This is our first recall in 62 years,” he told CTV Edmonton. “Regardless if it’s Pine Haven’s fault, it’s still our reputation on the line as well.”

1 dead, 36 sick with E. coli O157:H7 in Canada, linked to pork from meat shop in central Alberta

Keith Gerein of the Edmonton Journal writes The Meat Shop at Pine Haven, located on a Hutterite colony southeast of Wetaskiwin, announced Wednesday it had temporarily shut down and issued a voluntary recall of a number of its raw and ready-to-eat pork products.

A full list of the recalled items, including ground pork, chops, sausages, bacon and salami, was available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

The products in question were sold or distributed by the shop between Feb. 19 and April 24, and included pork served by Mama Nita’s Binalot restaurant where the outbreak was first identified a month ago.

“This is our businesses, it’s our livelihood and the food safety of our products to consumers is the highest priority,” facility manager Tim Hofer said. “It’s a very difficult time for us, but we are doing the best we absolutely can to identify the problem, and once we have found it, to mitigate the risks. “

All 36 patients sickened by E. coli O157:H7 have been linked in one way or another to meat from the shop, said Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health, Edmonton zone, for Alberta Health Services.

Hasselback said tracing the bug’s origins proved to be complex and time-consuming, requiring nearly a month of detective work by public health officials.

The initial cluster of five infections was discovered in late March among patrons of the restaurant, but investigators were hampered by the fact the establishment used different meat suppliers. As well, it appeared not all of the infected patients had eaten pork.

“When you are looking at foods people ate at the restaurant, there actually wasn’t a consistent pattern at that time,” Hasselback said. “It wasn’t until we were able to start adding information regarding the individuals who were not linked to the restaurant that pork was able to come a little bit clearer.”

Of the 36 patients identified to date, 21 are believed to have acquired their infection at Mama Nita’s — including several staff. The remaining 15 cases, including the deceased patient, have no connection to the restaurant.

Hasselback said those additional cases gave public health staff more information to work with, but also more variables to consider.

She said investigations of food-borne outbreaks tend to rely on three major avenues of inquiry.

These include interviews with patients to explore what they have eaten and where they have travelled, and lab tests to link the cases of E. coli 0157:H7. As well, investigators gather samples of food that are possibly suspect and have those tested in a lab.

Hofer said his meat facility has supplied products to “dozens” of customers in the Edmonton area — including Mama Nita’s — though he didn’t have an exact number.

He said the business was informed last Wednesday of a potential connection to the outbreak. When managers learned swabs of certain products had tested positive, along with one swab of the facility itself, the operation was shut down.

“The first thing we did was a deep clean of the facility, from ceiling to everything, all scrubbed and sanitized,” Hofer said, adding that a thorough review of the facility’s procedures has begun.

The family-run business has been operation since 2004 and has never before had a contamination issue, he said.

Good luck with the lawyers, who have already filed a $15-million lawsuit against The Meat Shop.

The lawsuit is on behalf of people who suffered damages as a result of buying or consuming pork products that may have been contaminated with E. coli, the law firm of James H. Brown & Associates said.

Toxo: You don’t want it

Toxoplasmosis is a foodborne zoonosis transmitted by Toxoplasma gondii, a cosmopolitan protozoan that infects humans through exposure to different parasite stages, in particular by ingestion of tissue cysts or tachyzoites contained in meat, primary offal (viscera), and meat-derived products or ingestion of environmental sporulated oocysts in contaminated food or water.

The pig is an important species for infection: raw or undercooked pork consumption not subject to treatment able to inactivate the parasite represents a risk to consumers’ health. Broadening knowledge of transmission ways and prevalence concerning this important pathogen in swine, together with a thorough acquaintance with hazard management are key elements to avoid T. gondii spreading within the swine production chain.

This review aims to illustrate why toxoplasmosis should be regarded as a veterinary public health issue through a careful description of the parasite, routes of infection, and inactivation treatments, highlighting the main prevention lines from pig breeding to pork consumption.

Toxoplasma gongii, a foodborne pathogen in the swine production chain form a European perspective

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, ahead of print, July 2017,  De Berardinis Alberto, Paludi Domenico, Pennisi Luca, and Vergara Alberto, https://doi.org/10.1089/fpd.2017.2305

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2017.2305

Hepatitis E: Raw pork is main cause of infection in EU

Consumption of raw or undercooked pork meat and liver is the most common cause of hepatitis E infection in the EU, said the European Food Safety Authority.

More than 21,000 cases of hepatitis E infections have been reported in humans over the last 10 years, with an overall 10-fold increase in this period.

Rosina Girones, chair of EFSA’s working group on hepatitis E, said: “Even if it is not as widespread as other foodborne diseases, hepatitis E is a growing concern in the EU. In the past, people thought the main source of infection was drinking contaminated water while travelling outside the EU. But now we know the main source of transmission of the disease in Europe is food.”

Domestic pigs are the main carriers of hepatitis E in the EU. Wild boars can also carry the virus, but meat from these animals is less commonly consumed.

Experts from EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards recommend that Member States increase awareness of public health risks associated with raw and undercooked pork meat and advise consumers to cook pork meat thoroughly. They also recommend the development of suitable methods for detecting hepatitis E in food.

This scientific advice builds on a previous scientific opinion on the occurrence and control of foodborne viruses published in 2011.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has today also published a report on hepatitis E in humans which assesses testing, diagnosis and monitoring methods and reviews available epidemiological data.

Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV).

Most people who contract hepatitis E display no or mild symptoms. However, in some cases especially for those with liver damage or patients with a weak immune system, it can lead to liver failure – which can be fatal.

8 dead, 100 ill after consuming pork in India

The Hindustan Times reports that Ri-Bhoi district magistrate has ordered a magisterial inquiry to ascertain what caused the deaths. Villagers claimed the consumption of pork led to the tragedy

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Eight children in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district have died of suspected food poisoning and over 100 others are undergoing medical treatment, an official said on Tuesday.

The children died after consuming pork after attending a church gathering on Sunday at Nongkya village, Ri-Bhoi district magistrate Chinmay P Gotmare told IANS. “Three persons died on Monday and another five on Tuesday morning in hospitals,” he said.

Gotmare said he had ordered a magisterial inquiry to ascertain what caused the deaths. Villagers claimed the consumption of pork led to the tragedy.

Cooking pork to control Hep E: Use a fucking thermometer

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture very publicly began to urge consumers to use an accurate food thermometer when cooking ground beef patties because research demonstrated that the color of meat is not a reliable indicator of safety.

USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety at the time, Catherine Woteki, said, “Consumers need to know that the only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present is to use a thermometer.”

At the time, I said, no one uses a meat thermometer to check the doneness of hamburgers. The idea of picking up a hamburger patty with tongs and inserting the thermometer in sideways was too much effort (others insist the best way to use a tip sensitive digital thermometer is to insert into the middle of the patty at a 45 degree angle).

I was wrong.

Shortly thereafter, I started doing it and discovered, not only was using a meat thermometer fairly easy, it made me a better cook. No more extra well-done burgers to ensure the bugs that would make me sick were gone. They tasted better.

By May 2000, USDA launched a national consumer campaign to promote the use of food thermometers in the home. The campaign featured an infantile mascot called Thermy that proclaimed, “It’s Safe to Bite When the Temperature is Right.”

Seventeen years later, the converts are minimal. Canada came to the thermometer table a few years ago,  Australia is doing a slow policy creep, but the UK is still firmly committed to piping hot.

The UK Food Standards Agency recently published the sixth, chief scientific adviser’s Science Report, entitled Data Science. No mention of thermometers except to determine refrigerator temperatures or included as packing on food.

Science-based policy depends on whose science is being quoted to what ends. The fancy folks call it value judgments in risk assessments; Kevin Spacey in the TV series House of Cards would call it personal advancement.

So last week, when UK media reports dubbed Hepatitis E the Brexit virus, with the potential for 60,000 Brits to fall sick annually from EU pork, the UK Food Standards Agency once again reiterated how fucking unscientific they are.

“Following media reports this morning we wanted to remind consumers of our advice about cooking pork thoroughly. We always advise that whole cuts of pork, pork products and offal should be thoroughly cooked until steaming hot throughout, the meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.”

The National Pig Association — it’s a thing, “recommends that consumers follow the advice from the Food Standards Agency that pork and sausages should be cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout, with no pink or red in the centre, to greatly reduce the risk of infection.”

Back to science instead of a rainbow fairy tale on safe cooking procedures, in May 2011, USDA recommended pork, and all whole meat cuts, only have to get to 145 degrees internally, not the 160 the agency had previously suggested, followed by a 3-minute rest.

The U.S. pork board for years promoted pork be cooked with a “hint of pink.”

This has more to do with breeding efforts to produce leaner pork.

But HEV is a different beast.

Public Health England reported the number of severe cases has almost trebled since 2010, with 1,244 reported in 2016, compared with 368 six years earlier.

The virus causes a flu-like illness and in severe circumstances, could cause death.

This strain has been linked to pig farms in France, Holland, Germany and Denmark and is only killed in meat if people cook it for longer than usual.

Dr Harry Dalton, a gastroenterologist at Exeter University, told a conference on neurological infectious diseases HEV had become a major threat and that no one should eat pink pork and that pregnant women and transplant patients should not eat pork at all.

He also said the virus is heat resistant and survives being cooked until the meat is heated to above 71C (160F) for two minutes.

Looks like some research is required, not that the Brits would change their no pink policy. Maybe they’re homophoblic.

With Memorial Day on Monday in the U.S. and a bank holiday Monday in the U.K., whatever that is, USDA yesterday once again stated, “The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer.”

Recent research by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that only 34 percent of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers – and that’s self-reported, people lie on surveys.

Use a fucking thermometer and stick it in.

(If you don’t like profanity, don’t read, but if you want to read, your IT censors may figure you can’t handle such dreadful language, and messages are getting blocked. You may want to have a word with your IT folks.)

Cook it: Toxo in pork

Toxoplasma gondii is one of the leading foodborne pathogens in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that T. gondii accounts for 24% of deaths due to foodborne illness in the United States.

raw-meat-120607Consumption of undercooked pork products in which T. gondii has encysted has been identified as an important route of human exposure. However, little quantitative evaluation of risk due to different pork products as a function of microbial quality at the abattoir, during the production process, and due to consumer handling practices is available to inform risk management actions.

The goal of this study was to develop a farm-to-table quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) model to predict the public health risk associated with consumption of fresh pork in the United States.

T. gondii prevalence in pigs was derived through a meta-analysis of existing data, and the concentration of the infectious life stage (bradyzoites) was calculated for each pork cut from an infected pig. Logistic regression and log-linear regression models were developed to predict the reduction of T. gondii during further processing and consumer preparation, respectively. A mouse-derived exponential dose-response model was used to predict infection risk in humans. The estimated mean probability of infection per serving of fresh pork products ranges from 3.2 × 10−7 to 9.5 × 10−6, corresponding to a predicted approximately 94,600 new infections annually in the U.S. population due to fresh pork ingestion. Approximately 957 new infections per year were estimated to occur in pregnant women, corresponding to 277 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis per year due to fresh pork ingestion.

In the context of available data, sensitivity analysis suggested that cooking is the most important parameter impacting human health risk. This study provides a scientific basis for risk management and also could serve as a baseline model to quantify infection risk from T. gondii and other parasites associated with meat products.

Quantifying the risk of human Toxoplasma gondii infection due to consumption of fresh pork in the United States

Food Control, Volume 73, Part B, March 2017, Pages 1210–1222

Miao Guo, Elisabetta Lambertini, Robert L. Buchanan, Jitender P. Dubey, Dolores E. Hill, H. Ray Gamble, Jeffrey L. Jones, Abani K. Pradhan

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516305825

But is it (microbiologically) safe?

Mangoes are coming into season.

Australian egg producers are flogging studies saying that eggs are OK to eat every day.

duhBut are they safe?

And the pork producers have a national 6-2-2 campaign:

Discover the secret to the perfect pork steak with our new 6-2-2 campaign.

  1. Take a 2cm pork steak (sirloin, leg, scotch fillet or medallion).
  2. Pre-heat a pan, griddle pan or BBQ plate just like you would for any other steak.
  3. Cook the pork steak on one side, without turning, for 6 minutes.
  4. Turn it over once and allow it to cook for 2 more minutes. This method will cook the steak to just white but if you prefer it cooked pink, just reduce the cooking time.
  5. Remove the steak from the pan and rest for 2 minutes. Resting allows the juices to settle and produces a more tender and juicy result.
  6. Remember the simple rule for next time: 6 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other and 2 minutes to rest = the 10 minute pork steak.

(No accounting for variations in cooking devices, just use a damn thermometer and take out the guesswork.)

All at the same time as Australia’s annual food safety week began with this year’s theme , raw and risky (sounds familiar).

The NSW Food Authority is throwing its support behind the Food Safety Information Council’s Food Safety Week 2016 that commences today Sunday 6 November, urging NSW consumers not to become one of the estimated 4.1 million people affected by food poisoning each year in Australia.

Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said the theme of this year’s Australian Food Safety Week “Raw and risky” is a timely and apt reminder that some foods carry more risk than others.

“Recent years have seen major food poisoning outbreaks linked to risky raw foods such as unpasteurised cow’s milk, raw egg dishes, bean/seed sprouts, frozen berries and lettuce,” Dr Szabo said.