4 dead 8 sick in EU outbreak of Listeria linked to salmon products beginning in 2015

A multi-country outbreak of 12 listeriosis cases caused by Listeria monocytogenes sequence type (ST) 8 has been identified through whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis in three EU/EEA countries: Denmark (6 cases), Germany (5) and France (1).

Four of these cases have died due to or with the disease. It is likely that the extent of this outbreak has been underestimated since the outbreak was identified through sequencing and only a subset of the EU/EEA countries routinely use this advanced technique to characterise L. monocytogenes isolates.

The first case was sampled in October 2015 in Denmark and the most recent case was reported in May 2018 in Germany. In August 2017, Denmark identified the first cluster of cases, which was investigated and linked to the consumption of ready-to-eat cold-smoked salmon produced in Poland. Control measures were implemented and the Member States and competent authorities were informed.

In October 2017, France reported the identification of a matching L. monocytogenes strain in food isolates from marinated salmon originating from the same Polish processing company as identified in the Danish outbreak investigation. This supports the hypothesis that contamination may have occurred at the processing company in Poland. However, due to the lack of WGS data on the isolates found in the environmental and food samples taken at the Polish processing plant, it is not possible at present to confirm the contamination with the L. monocytogenes ST8 outbreak strain at the suspected Polish plant. Moreover, until detailed information on the Norwegian primary producers of the salmon used in the contaminated batches is reported and assessed, possible contamination at primary production level cannot be excluded either.

Although control measures were implemented following the Danish outbreak investigation in September 2017, the identification of the same strain in a salmon product in France and a new human case in Germany suggest that the source of contamination is still active and contaminated products have been distributed to other EU countries than Denmark.

Until the source of infection has been eliminated, new invasive listeriosis cases may still occur. Pregnant women, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of invasive listeriosis, which is associated with severe clinical course and potentially death.

Salmon sushi: 5.6′ tapeworm excreted by California man

Raw can be risky.

Including raw fish used to make sushi, especially if it is not frozen at sea.

Following up my chat with daughter Sorenne while strolling around Noumea, New Caledonia last week, a Fresno man with a daily sushi habit had a 5.5-foot tapeworm lodged in his intestines. He pulled it out himself, wrapped it around a cardboard toilet paper tube and carried the creature into Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center.

Michelle Robertson, a San Francisco Gate staff writer, reports that Kenny Banh was the lucky doc on shift at the time. He recounted his experience on a recent episode of the podcast “This Won’t Hurt A Bit.”

Banh said the patient complained of “bloody diarrhea” and expressed a desire to get treated for tapeworms.

“I get asked this a lot,” the doctor said. “Truthfully, a lot of times I don’t think they have it.”

This man had it, which he proved to Banh by opening a plastic grocery bag and pulling out the worm-wrapped toilet paper tube.

Banh then asked some questions, starting with: “That came out of your bottom?”

“Yes.”

According to the doctor’s retelling, the patient was using the restroom when he noticed what looked like a piece of intestine hanging out of his body.

 “He grabs it, and he pulls on it, and it keeps coming out,” Banh recounted. He then picks the thing up, “looks at it, and what does it do? It starts moving.”

That’s when the man realized he had a tapeworm stuck in his insides. He headed to the emergency room shortly thereafter, where Banh treated him with an anthelmintic, a single-treatment deworming medication used on humans and dogs alike.

Banh also took it upon himself to measure the specimen on the floor of the hospital. It stretched a whopping 5 feet, 6 inches — “my height,” noted the doctor.

Tapeworms can be contracted in a variety of ways, but Banh said his patient hadn’t traveled out of the country or engaged in any out-of-the-ordinary behavior. The man also professed his love of sushi, specifically raw salmon sashimi, which he confessed to eating daily.

Fresno is located an ample 150 miles from coastline and is not exactly famed for its sushi. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last February that the rise in popularity of raw fish consumption has likely spurred

The story has attracted attention all over the world, as these things tend to do, says Peter Olson, a tapeworm expert and a researcher at the Natural History Museum’s life sciences department, who was quoted as telling The Guardian, “because they’re gross”. The worm, he says, was “almost certainly something called the broad fish tapeworm … salmon is one of the main ways you would pick it up, if you don’t cook the meat.” The life of the broad fish tapeworm involves more than one host. “A typical life cycle might include a bear that feeds on salmon, then defecates back into the river. The larvae would be passed into the environment and, in the case of an aquatic life cycle like this, it would be eaten by something like a copepod, a little crustacean. When that copepod is eaten by a fish, it would transform into a larval tapeworm and that’s what is being transmitted to a human in this case. That would go to the intestine and grow into this giant worm.”

(On one of our first dates, over 12 years ago – same age as barfblog.com — Amy tried to serve me grilled salmon. I whipped out my trusty tip-sensitive digital thermometer and noted a 98F reading, and said, no way. Cook it.)

The tapeworm is a monstrous and impressive creation. It has a segmented body, with male and female reproductive organs in each segment, so it is capable of self-fertilisation. It does not have a head as such – its “head” is only useful for holding on to its host’s gut, rather than for “eating” (it absorbs nutrients through its skin). In many cases, you would not know you were infected. You might spot bits of tapeworm segment in your stool – small, pale, rice-like bits – or experience stomach pain or vomiting.

Salmonella scare lands La Mojarra Loca in Vegas on Dirty Dining

 

Darcy Spears of KTNV reports La Mojarra Loca on Maryland Parkway near Sahara is no stranger to Dirty Dining.  

Each time the location’s been on, it’s been just before Halloween.

And this time, inspectors were there for something truly scary–a customer who ate salmon and salad was diagnosed with Salmonella poisoning.  

The follow-up inspection resulted in a 50-demerit closure.
Inspectors documented “Unusual circumstances which might have contributed to contamination,” including food stored in the splash zone of the handsink and lots of improper handwashing.

Employees went from handling dirty dishes to clean without handwashing, scraped food off returned dishes without handwashing, and didn’t wash hands after handling raw meat.

Also, a food handler put raw bacon on a cutting board so it was touching ready-to-eat cheese.

Speaking of cutting boards, several at La Mojarra Loca were severely soiled.

Sea lice threatening salmon production

Sea lice are copepods and have been around since Salmon have been in water. Not a public health concern but a massive threat for salmon farmers.

Zye Angiwan of Immortal News reports

Salmon farms are facing a large parasitic problem, which has disrupted production all over the world. An uptick in sea lice has become a growing problem in salmon farms, jacking up wholesale prices to as high as 50% from last year for salmon products, from fillets to lox. The tiny sea lice attach themselves to the fish and feed on them, eventually killing them or making them inedible, New York Daily News reports. The sea lice have infested salmon farms in the United States, Scotland, Canada, Norway and Chile – all major global suppliers of the popular fish. Scientists and fish farmers are working to control the pesky crustaceans, which costs the international aquaculture industry around $1 billion yearly.

Jake Elliott, vice president of Cooke Aquaculture in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, said, Our work has to be quicker than the evolution of the lice. Experts believe that the problem needs a new slew of advanced technology coupled with older tools such as pesticides. New strategies for breeding the high-protein fish for genetic resistance is necessary, as our methods such as bathing the salmon in warm water to remove the lice or using underwater lasers to take the parasites out. Salmon farmers consider sea lice the biggest threat to their industry, saying that the chronic problem is making the fish more expensive for consumers. The parasites thrive in the tightly packed ocean pens that fish farmers use, according to Shawn Robinson, a scientist with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “There are not enough tools right now to allow the farmer to really effectively deal with it,” he said. Atlantic salmon have managed to keep the sea lice at bay in the wild for centuries, and fish farmers have been managing them for many years. The lice were first identified as a problem in 1994, but the bigger concerns came when the sea lice started evolving to resist the tools farmers used to eradicate them. The chances of sea lice making their way to market-sold salmon is very slim, and should it happen, accidentally consuming a louse would not pose a threat to humans.

Cross contamination nightmare

From the Retail Hell Underground:

I work for a supermarket in the Fresh Fish department. I actually enjoy the job, most of the time that is, but everyone has horror stories. This was an amusing thing that happened shortly after I started the job.

Fish HeadSo we had a sale on Whole Salmon at £4 a kilogram (around $2.50 for a pound, give or take for Americans). It was an incredibly good sale, and whenever the sale is on the department is absolutely rammed with customers. I don’t really mind as the day goes quicker and our sales go through the roof. The vast majority of customers don’t want the Salmon whole as it is, and ask for it filleting, which we are happy to offer and do for them even if it takes a bit longer. I was just about to go for my lunch, but as we had a lot of orders for whole salmon that needed filleting I decided I would stay for longer and help my colleagues get through it. In comes a customer who looks absolutely bewildered, lets call him AB.

Me: Hello Sir, how may I help you today?

AB: The whole salmon, how much is it?

Me: It is on special offer at £4 per kilogramme.

AB: No, how much are THEY?!? I don’t work in kilogrammes. (Despite the fact that the retail sector has been using metric weights for over 30 years and the man didn’t look older than his 50s)

Me: Well it works out at under £2 per pound and they are each individually priced as you can see, they range from between £10 to £16 each depending on which one you want sir.

AB: Give me that one!

Me: Okay sir how would you like it? As it is whole or filleted?

AB: I would like it filleting… quickly please!

Me: I’ll try get through it as soon as I can sir, it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Would you like me to pin bone it?

AB: I SAID FILLETING THANK YOU!!!

Me: No problem, I’ll have it ready for you as soon as possible.

The customer was being irate, but as it was a hot day I didn’t really think much of it as everyone seems to get more aggravated when the sun comes out. I quickly filleted the fish, not bothering to pin bone it as he stated he just wanted it filleting, bagged it up and left it in the back up chiller for when he came back to pick it up. He comes back, I gave it to him and he seemed happy enough. I didn’t think more of it and went for my lunch.

As I came back to the department after my lunch I barely had my apron on when he came rushing back to the department.

AB: There are bones in my fish!

ME: Well yes, you said you didn’t want it pin boning.

AB: CAN YOU REMOVE THEM! I’M NOT EATING MY FISH WITH BLOODY BONES.

ME: Sure thing, but in future when asked if you want it pin boning please reply yes.

AB: (muttering under his breath) …ohh, right.

So I pin bone the fish, but I notice it all crumbled up to the bottom of the bag and it is incredibly wet. My colleague is speaking to the absolutely bewildered customer, and he suddenly bursts out laughing. I’m not really listening to the conversation, but I finish pin-boning the fish and give it back to him and he looks rather embarrassed but thanks me really nicely, like a total mood change.

So I ask my colleague what they were talking about. Supposedly the customer had gone to the customer bathroom after he paid for his shopping, and dropped the salmon in the actual toilet by accident, and he ran the salmon fillets under the water in the sink to clean it as if that would magically get rid of all the bacteria.

This man had just dropped his salmon in the toilet, without telling me, and expected me to handle it again and use a clean surface to de-bone it. Cross contamination nightmare! Me and my colleague had a good chuckle as he got what he deserved.

And that is how I ended up spending the next hour disinfecting the hell out one of our work areas.

How these people manage in daily life is beyond me haha.

A labelling mess and a technology fix, turkey edition

My latest column for Texas A&M’s Center for Food Safety:

I have this weird affliction (among many): The more I read about a food involved in an outbreak, the more I crave it.

mr-bean-turkey(6)Mad cow disease, I want beef

Salmonella in eggs; I want an omelette

WHO cancer report? Had a steak the next day, and gave the kid a salami sandwich for lunch.

Salmonella in peanut butter? Won’t go there, never liked peanut butter.

The point is that crises or occasions are opportunities to get compelling food safety information into the public discourse.

Unfortunately, most of it sucks.

The U.S. glutton-fest known as Thanksgiving, which kicks off the six-week shopping orgy until Christmas, has appeared on calendars again.

As you do.

And simultaneously, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally approved genetically engineered salmon that has been in the works for over a decade (or two, I can’t keep track).

This has sparked a call for labels on all things genetically modified (I prefer engineered, all food is genetically modified).

FDA says, there’s no legal requirement for companies to label foods as genetically modified.

turkey.headAs you do.

Because FDA’s job is to regulate based on safety, not on consumer whims.

If retailers and consumer groups want to make a fuss, go ahead.

But your arguments suck.

I’ve always been a fan of full disclosure whether it’s labeling, point-of-sale info, a web url, provide full information on how food is produced.

Most people don’t care, but some do, and they can make a lot of noise.

When we sold genetically-engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes at a local market in Ontario (that’s in Canada) back in 2000, people preferred the GE stuff – because it required no pesticides.

The more info the better – for those who care.

With turkeys, consumers are, according to NPR , inundated with labels: natural, fresh, no hormones, young, premium and so on.

Fresh has nothing to do with the time between slaughter and sale. Instead, it means that the turkey has not been cooled to below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it was never frozen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not define young for turkeys, but it requires that turkeys that lived more than a year be labeled as yearling or mature.

USDA says natural means no artificial ingredients have been added to the turkey meat, and the meat is only minimally processed.

Free-Range are raised in the standard, crowded houses but have access to the outdoors.

Premium means nothing.

No Hormones Added means nothing: By USDA law, turkeys (and other poultry) are not allowed to be given growth hormones.

And so it goes.

A possible fix is using smart phones and QR codes, so those who care can find out everything – and I mean everything, including if the seed was derived from radiation mutagenesis, a primal form of genetic engineering – if they want.

Meanwhile, we have enough food safety idiots practicing the things that actually make people sick.

During a cooking segment on the Today show this month, Matt Lauer handled an uncooked turkey, wiped his hands with a towel, then grabbed a piece of the cooked turkey that was sitting nearby and gobbled it down.

The tweets said, “Enjoy Salmonella for the next 24 hours, idiot,” and “We were screaming at the television set. Did you not hear us?” Lauer apologetically explained all of this on the next day’s show.

Other holiday tips:

Do not wash turkey.

Do not place a whole turkey over your head.

Do not pass babies with leaky diapers around the table.

In 2005, one American recalled how, when dessert arrived, the family started passing around the newborn baby. As recounted on the Internet site, fark.com, “Apparently, the baby had a pretty full diaper, and it was kinda leaking. He was passed to my uncle, and then passed to someone else. What my uncle didn’t notice was that a little something rubbed off of the baby as he was passed. He looks down on his tie and sees what he believes is some pumpkin pie filling, so he scrapes it off, and takes a bite. He spent the rest of the night in the back yard throwing up.”

We’ll be having turkey and duck with friends on the weekend. It’ll be safe.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

 

Salmon fraud in restaurants

In 2005, Chapman and I went to dinner with an inspector somewhere in B.C.

salmon_headI wanted salmon and asked if it was farmed or wild. The server insisted they only served wild salmon and that farmed salmon were a scourge.

Wrong answer, at least for me.

Sorta like the chefs in Australia who insist they only use raw eggs in their aioli and mayonnaise.

Wrong answer, at least for me.

Oceana, an advocacy organization that’s previously found fraud in retail marketing of other fish, shrimp and crab cakes, released findings Wednesday that diners were misled in restaurants when ordering salmon 67% of the time. The most common mislabeling was labeling farmed salmon as pricier, more sustainable wild salmon.

Wild salmon is not more sustainable, at least for me.

And these reports by advocacy groups would have more credibility if they were published in peer-reviewed journals instead of being designed to get the most media mileage.

Santa Barbara Smokehouse voluntary recalls cold smoked salmon because of Listeria

But I do like the smoked salmon. Although I have to be aware of the Listeria risk.

More often than not, I heat it. I’m not sure about the risk reduction profile, but it tastes better. Especially with a little brie. And tomato.

salmon.recall.jun.15Santa Barbara Smokehouse of Santa Barbara, CA is voluntarily recalling all smoked salmon EXCLUDING HOT SMOKED SALMON from March 1st to April 8th 2015, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Cold Smoked Salmon was distributed within the United States through retail stores and food wholesaler.

The following brands affected in the VOLUNTARY RECALL: Cambridge House, Coastal Harbor, Harbor Point, North Shore S.F. Specialty, Channel Islands and Santa Barbara. Along with the following batch range of 1015 – 3949.

No illnesses have been reported to date for this VOLUNTARY RECALL.

The safety of Santa Barbara Smokehouse product is the primary concern to them, therefore Santa Barbara Smokehouse has tested and received certificates of analysis showing negative results for products in question during that time period. All fresh product has a use by dates of April 29th to May 6th 2015. The company is recommending as a precautionary measure to pull frozen product produced on or before April 8, 2015.

smoked.salmon.bagelEven though Santa Barbara Smokehouse has a positive releases on these products they are taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of their products.

Just to clarify this is just a precautionary step.

The company has corrected the above reference issue and continues their rigorous sanitation programs and Food Safety Programs and positive release of products.

If any of the products listed above are still in possession do not consume and contact Santa Barbara Smokehouse for pick up. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-805-966-9796.

Fine food: Salmon recalled because of potential botulism in Canada

Farquhar’s Orchards Fine Foods is recalling Farquhar’s Orchards Fine Foods brand salmon products from the marketplace because they may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

salmon.cfia.botulismThe following products have been sold in Ontario.

Brand Name: Farquhar’s Orchards Fine Foods

Common Name: House Candied Salmon

Size: Variable weight

Code(s) on Product: All PACKED ON dates

UPC: Starts with 0 204109

Reason for Recall: Microbiological – Clostridium botulinum

Brand Name: Farquhar’s Orchards Fine Foods

Common Name: House Smoked Salmon

Size: Variable weight

Code(s) on Product: All PACKED ON dates

UPC: Starts with 0 204108

Reason for Recall: Microbiological – Clostridium botulinum

What You Should Do

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

Background

This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) inspection activities. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.