Report for UK FSA says pre-packaged sandwiches should not be served in hospitals

Stephan Adams of the Daily Mail writes that a new report commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency concludes pre-packed sandwiches have been responsible for ‘almost all’ hospital outbreaks of listeria since 2003.

listeria4The bug kills around 50 people a year in England, according to official figures, with most deaths thought to be due to food being prepared and stored incorrectly.

Food safety company STS, which advises hospitals and care homes, believes patients may also be dying from eating infected sandwiches at these institutions.

Fiona Sinclair, director of food safety at STS, said: ‘Hospitals and care homes feed the most vulnerable people in society. The last thing these people need is to get something else on top of their illness.’

Pre-packed sandwiches often contain protein-rich fillings such as meat, paté, cheese, prawns and egg, on which listeria can thrive. Days can elapse between preparation and consumption, giving listeria time to multiply, and experts say too few people understand that sandwiches must be kept very cold – below 5C – to stop the bug growing.

The report, written by Ms Sinclair and colleagues, says: ‘Research into previous [listeria] outbreaks in hospitals found that almost all were linked to consumption of pre-packed sandwiches.’

These cases ‘were thought to have been caused by low-level contamination during manufacture in the factory, followed by a breakdown in the control of the cold chain in the hospitals’. During recent inspections, Ms Sinclair found sandwiches were being kept in fridges that were not cold enough, staff were serving packs past their use-by date, and sandwiches were being left on trolleys for lengthy periods before being handed to patients.

The firm’s report, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, has prompted the FSA to revise its guidance to hospitals and care homes on minimising the risk of listeria.

Measures include cutting maximum fridge temperatures from 8C to 5C.

Welcoming the new rules, STS said: ‘The thought that a loved one should lose their life from eating a sandwich in hospital is ridiculous.’

Ms Sinclair said the research, undertaken with Surrey University, identified nine hospital listeria outbreaks across the UK since 2003. Each case affected between two and seven patients. Ms Sinclair said it was unclear from the data they had seen if anyone died from listeria infection during these outbreaks.

The fact that the bug kills up to 30 per cent of people in ‘vulnerable groups’ – such as pregnant women and the elderly – suggests that some did.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said: ‘If somebody is at death’s door, they could be finished off by a sandwich.

Pennsylvania funeral director dismayed by court ruling reinstating food ban

“I drove down your road

to Hazeldean where I tasted

greasy.jungle.hipyour funeral home’s sandwiches and coffee

I saw your hands melt into one another

I saw you grieve and grow

care a lot about one another”

Greasy Jungle, 1994, Tragically Hip

A federal judge has ordered no more food service at Pennsylvania funeral homes.

The food ban at Pennsylvania funeral homes was instituted in 1952 out of food safety concerns.  Then, in 2012, a federal judge deemed the earlier ruling unconstitutional.

Now, a federal appeals court has reversed the reversal, once again banning food at funeral homes in the commonwealth.

Chad Snyder, director of Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home in Lancaster, Pa. says he’s baffled and  disappointed by the ruling.

“There are many other places that would come to the conclusion of health hazards,” he said today.  “I mean, retirement communities, hospitals — they also provide food service.”

He says it was an ancillary service that gave comfort to families.

Warning: This sandwich may contain a gold earring

A Chicago man is suing McDonald’s for injuries he sustained when he swallowed a gold earring that was in his sandwich.

The complaint asserts, among other things, that the sandwich "lacked any warning of the fact that it contained the gold earring" and that McDonald’s "failed to prevent foreign objects not fit for human consumption, including but not limited to earrings, from being offered to the general public in the food being served."

Harold and Kumar avoid Ohio prison with unique sandwich

A running gag in the movie, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, is avoiding a certain kind of sandwich served up by prison guards.

Life imitates art.

A former Ohio deputy accused of feeding an inmate a bologna sandwich that been rubbed against another inmate’s genitals has pleaded guilty to two health code violations. In a Columbus courtroom on Wednesday, 38-year-old Joseph Cantwell also apologized for the shame and embarrassment that he said he had caused.

A judge fined him $500 plus court costs, and Cantwell also received a 90-day suspended jail sentence and five years’ probation.

Eating beach sand can be messy – at both ends

When it gets hot in Kansas, we go to Florida.

We’re leaving in a week, with a little work along the way before we settle into our rental on sexy Venice Beach, Florida. It’s the antithesis of places like South Beach, Miami, where celebrities flock and appearances rule. Venice – founded as a retirement community by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in the 1920s – is about as quiet as it gets.

With good beaches.

This year we’ll have 7-month-old Sorenne, and she’s starting to crawl (see below). If she can do this on hardwood, sand will be a breeze.

So we have to aware of sand in the mouth.

Besides the yuck factor, researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that digging in sand on beaches near water with high levels of fecal bacteria could be a risk factor for developing the drips.

For the study, reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers got contact information for more than 25,000 people visiting seven beaches within seven miles of sewage treatment plants.

About 10 days later, the researchers called and asked how they had spent their day at the beach and whether they had experienced problems like vomiting or diarrhea since then.

Those who dug in the sand, the study found, were significantly more likely to report having been sick — with those who had allowed themselves to be buried in the sand most affected. Children seemed to be at extra risk.

The best advice: wash your damn hands, especially before eating.

This isn’t the first time sand has been implicated in human illness.

In May, 2008, children’s playgrounds on Sydney’s northern beaches were closed after a rare form of salmonella normally linked to tropical fish made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.

Washington’s Breadline sandwich shop has food safety issues fan Jessica said I should do something on famed Washington, D.C. sandwich shop, Breadline.

I checked it out, and yeah, a number of D.C. outlets reported on the establishment’s closing, but the detailed inspection reports in the Washington City Paper were the best.

There’s a bunch of somewhat mundane inspection issues but the interesting food safety reading is near the end. Among the more disgusting infractions:

• a “display deli case maintaining a temperature of 82° F;”

• a dirty meat slicer (”old food particles present”) and a dirty potato chopper (ditto) as well as “debris throughout prep tables and prep table shelving;”

• improper cooling of chicken, chick pea spread, tuna salad, curry chicken salad, sliced turkey, ground beef, and cole slaw, all above the required 41° Fahrenheit threshold; and,

* a bread rack or other equipment blocked access to hand sinks. “Handsinks,” must be accessible at all times for proper handwashing.”

Cop finds pubic hair on Wendy’s sandwich

Charges are pending against two employees of the Wendy’s drive-through in Moundsville, West Virginia after a sheriff’s deputy said he found pubic hair on his sandwich.

According to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, the deputy went through the Sunday night before heading to work.

He finished his chili and opened his sandwich. It was then he said he spotted the ball of pubic hair.

Later, two Wendy’s employees confessed to the crime and said they purposely targeted an officer.

Deputies are waiting for Bender’s blood test results. If he has any diseases, the misdemeanor charge will be escalated to a felony.

Sandwich rage: Man calls 911 over garnish error is reporting that a man in Jacksonville, Florida, called 911 after the Subway sandwich he ordered was not made to his liking.

Witnesses inside the store say Peterson eventually started screaming at everyone inside. When Peterson went outside to call police. Employees closed the store and locked the door to keep him from returning.

The man then called police again to complain that the police hadn’t shown up yet.

The man was arrested and at his request the sandwiches were thrown away.

Beach playgrounds closed after 23 Sydney toddlers stricken with Salmonella

Children’s playgrounds have been shut on Sydney’s northern beaches after a rare form of salmonella normally linked to tropical fish made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.

Authorities are now trying to figure out how sand used in at least two popular kids’ playgrounds has become contaminated.

The rare bacteria strain – salmonella paratyphi bio var java – has been linked to 23 cases of children struck down with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.

Tests have revealed the sand at both the Winnererremy Bay and South Avalon playgrounds are contaminated.

But health officials cannot rule out other playgrounds along the peninsula being affected. They are waiting for test results on other play areas.

Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service’s public health physician Michael Staff said,

"In the past there have been cases of humans becoming sick from it when they have contact with their tropical fish tanks. But to our knowledge this is the first time in Australia a playground has been shut because salmonella is in the sand."

The source of the contamination is not known, but the pathogen is generally carried by certain species of birds and aquarium fish.


Beware funeral home sandwiches and coffee

The Tasmania Mercury is reporting that at least 27 people in Hobart have been sickened with salmonella after eating contaminated sandwiches at two separate funerals late last week.

The food was provided by a catering business which has been temporarily closed down while the Health Department investigates.

Dr. Roscoe Taylor, Tasmania’s Director of Public Health, said,

"We are looking closely at a product containing raw eggs, which was a mayonnaise like ingredient that may have been in the sandwiches and we’re waiting on sampling test results on that to come back."