337 sick from salmonella in sausage, France, 2011

Those supermarket loyalty cards helped pin down an outbreak of salmonella in sausage in France last year.

Researchers reported in Eurosurveillance last week that an outbreak of the monophasic variant of Salmonella enterica serotype 4,[5],12:i:- occurred in November and December 2011 in France. Epidemiological investigation and food investigation with the help of supermarket loyalty cards suggested dried pork sausage from one producer as the most likely source of the outbreak. Despite the absence of positive food samples, control measures including withdrawal and recall were implemented.

Between 31 October and 18 December (week 44 to week 50), a total of 337 cases of Salmonella enterica serotype 4,[5],12:i:- were identified. The median age was 10 years (range: 0–90 years) with about 30% of children under five. A majority of women were affected (female to male sex ratio: 1.22). Cases were reported throughout France.

An epidemic of Salmonella enterica 4,[5],12:i:- was already observed about three months prior to this outbreak. Between 1 August and 9 October, 682 cases were reported (Figure 1), of whom 100 cases were interviewed at the time but no common vehicle of infection could be identified. In comparison, 212 cases with this serotype had been isolated during the same period in 2010.

Epidemiological investigations pointed to a dried pork sausage purchased principally at supermarket chain A and consumed after week 44, 2011. Therefore purchases of pork delicatessen at supermarkets A and B up to four weeks prior to symptom onset were investigated by the DGAL using data recorded through supermarket loyalty cards.

The use of the loyalty card from supermarket chain A was important to identify the vehicle of infection and the local producer involved in this outbreak. These cards are used more and more and prove helpful in the investigation of food-related outbreaks. Nevertheless we should keep in mind that they do not necessarily reflect the consumption of cases perfectly. For instance, the card may not be used systematically, the household can purchase foods in additional shops and markets for which they have no loyalty cards, many food products are consumed outside the household and not recorded on the card, and the central database of the supermarket does not always contain data on all foods sold such as foods directly purchased by the retailers. For these reasons the data have to be interpreted together with the results from epidemiological and microbiological investigations.

That the producer and microbiological analysis did not find Salmonella does not exclude contamination. The limited number of samples and the processing of the food (especially salting and drying) reduce the likelihood of isolating the bacteria. Implementing checks earlier in the process (before salting and drying) and using additional methods of testing such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) should be considered.

This is the second described outbreak in France involving dried pork sausage, and indicates that this food item might be a likely vehicle of infection and further outbreaks in humans may be expected.

Given the limitations to detect Salmonella in dried sausages, the ability of the standard reference method to detect of monophasic variant strains in dried sausages is questionable. Additional methods should be explored in order to improve monitoring protocols.

The complete report is available at http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20071.
 

Sandra Bullock smuggles sausage

Sandra Bullock wouldn’t stand a chance against the AQIS beagles.

Australia has an impressive quarantine and inspection service for folks arriving to the island. So do lots of countries. The reason is that people want their nostaligic food, but have no concept of the consequences of disease introduction; think foot and mouth disease in the UK, which was ultimately linked to some overseas food eventually fed to pigs.

People magazine, for those who can’t get enough of celebrities, artists and athletes who should focus on their craft instead of speaking, reports that Sandra Bullock’s Christmas dinner involves illegally importing sausages from Germany to continue a meal tradition started by the actress’s mother.

"Since my mother passed, we break the law, because we have to manage to smuggle German sausages into the country, and apparently bringing meats across the waters is against the law," Bullock, 47, told Jay Leno during an appearance on The Tonight Show. "You fry ’em up with some sauerkraut and potato salad, but they have to be the right ones."

Bullock said her family sends out an "SOS" to a handful of loved ones overseas to send the meats over to the U.S.

"We just have to break the law a little bit, but eventually someone’s package gets through," she told Leno.

When pressed about the method, Bullock said with a smirk: "I’m not at liberty to divulge how we smuggle the sausage."

1994 Australian E. coli O111 food poisoning legal fight ends

In Feb. 1995, four-year-old Nikki Robinson died in Australia from E. coli O111 after eating contaminated mettwurst, an uncooked, semi-dry fermented sausage; 173 others were sickened, 23 of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The company, Garibaldi, blamed a slaughterhouse for providing the contaminated product, while the State’s chief meat hygiene officer insisted that meat inspections and slaughtering techniques in Australian abattoirs were "top class and only getting better."

By Feb. 6, 1995, Garibaldi Smallgoods declared bankruptcy. Sales of smallgoods like mettwurst were down anywhere from 50 to 100 per cent according to the National Smallgoods Council.

The outbreak of E. coli O111 and reverberations fundamentally changed the public discussion of foodborne illness in Australia, much as similar outbreaks of VTEC or shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. subsequently altered public perception, regulatory efforts and industry pronouncements in those countries.

Now, 16 years later, Adelaide Now reports that all 23 HUS victims of the Garibaldi mettwurst saga have been compensated and will receive free health care for life.

After 16 years of illnesses, hospital treatments, coronial inquests and legal negotiations, counsel for the victims today told the District Court all cases had at last been settled.

All that remains is for the final "second wave" victims and insurer QBE – who inherited the disgraced company’s debts and obligations – to sign off on settlement papers.

Outside court, lawyer John Doherty – who has represented the victims throughout – said QBE had paid out "multi-millions of dollars" but declined to give specifics.

He said the State Government would continue to provide ongoing medical care for each child.

"One child had an organ transplant, only for it to fail and for him to need another one," he said.

"Another boy was just six months old when he was infected – his mother donated her kidney for a transplant a few months ago.

"This is not like a broken arm or leg – these are conditions that these children will have for the rest of their lives."

A coronial inquest would rule Nikki was killed by toxins in the meat that attacked her brain and caused a fatal stroke.

Her death was the result of Garibaldi’s failure to upgrade its processes and standards.

The company had been a serial food-safety offender, responsible for poisoning 100 wedding guests with salmonella in 1990.

During the epidemic, doctors and nurses came to refer to the emergency department of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as "a battlefield’ as children were admitted on a daily basis with severe symptoms.

Scott Granton (right,in 2005, with Nikki Robinson in background) was left with 50 per cent kidney function, developed type 1 diabetes and had to learn to walk again.

Previously, the District Court has heard 20 of the claimants fell ill during the "first wave" of the epidemic, reporting to hospitals within days of consuming the goods.

Mr Doherty said the hospital and the media deserved thanks for their efforts throughout the saga.

"The Women’s and Children’s Hospital is truly a venerable institution. The media really has been instrumental in brokering this result because of the pressure it has put on QBE and the State Government.

 

18 sick with salmonella from sausage after pancake breakfast benefit in Maryland

The News-Post of Frederick, Maryland, reports that health types have concluded their investigation of Salmonella Infantis infections linked to food eaten at a March 5 benefit pancake breakfast at Trinity United Church of Christ in Thurmont.

Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, county health officer, said in an e-mail that 18 cases of infection were reported, nine confirmed by stool sample testing, and nine probable.

The infections were linked to sausage and meat pudding consumed at the benefit breakfast, Brookmyer said.

The meat products were originally from a Frederick County 4-H Camp and Activities Center butchering event held Jan. 27 at the Mount Pleasant Ruritan Club.

The camp center is a nonprofit not directly affiliated with the 4-H youth development group, 4-H Extension Educator Mike Kuster said.

Neil Gaffney, press officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said its investigation is ongoing. The USDA investigation includes tracing the pork products’ origin.

If only laws were like sausages

It’s a tired analogy, but given the fantastical failings of the feds to pass the most basic food safety rules, sausage makers are fighting back.

Robert Pear writes in Sunday’s New York Times that, in defending their work, members of Congress love to repeat a quotation attributed to Otto von Bismarck: “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.”

In other words, the legislative process, though messy and sometimes unappetizing, can produce healthy, wholesome results.

But a visit to a sausage factory here, about 10 miles from the Capitol, suggests that Bismarck and today’s politicians are mistaken. In many ways, that quotation is offensive to sausage makers; their process is better controlled and more predictable.

“I’m so insulted when people say that lawmaking is like sausage making,” said Stanley A. Feder, president of Simply Sausage, whose plant here turns out 60,000 pounds of links a year.

“With legislation, you can have hundreds of cooks — members of Congress, lobbyists, federal agency officials, state officials,” Mr. Feder said. “In sausage making, you generally have one person, the wurstmeister, who runs the business and makes the decisions.”

Sausages are produced according to a recipe. And while plenty of pork goes into many sausages and laws, the ingredients of the edible product are specified in advance, carefully measured out and accurately identified on a label. An inspector from the United States Department of Agriculture visits the plant every day.

Granted, Simply Sausage is a small, artisanal sausage maker, not an industrial-scale slaughterhouse. But the comparison is still faulty, said Mr. Feder, a political scientist who took up sausage making after retiring from the Central Intelligence Agency.

UK sausage with 600 times legal limit of listeria

BBC News reports that polish sausages contaminated with listeria have been found on sale in Doncaster, U.K.

The council said its food enforcement team had removed affected items from local delis and shops.

A number of contaminated products were found, some with levels of listeria up to 600 times the legal limit.

The products in question are Home Black Pudding Sausage or Grill Black Pudding Sausage produced by Sokolow in Poland.

A council spokesman said: "The sausage implicated in the Doncaster investigation is cooked and although many will cook it again, which should kill the organism, it is often eaten cold straight from the pack."

And there is the significant risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

The contamination was first discovered by Bolsover District Council in Derbyshire during routine checks on a shop.
 

Louisiana firm recalls meat products because of listeria contamination; people are sick

Veron Foods, LLC of Prairieville, La. is recalling approximately 500,000 pounds of “ready to eat” sausage and hog head cheese products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Office of Animal Health and Food Safety announced.

The problem was discovered through a foodborne illness investigation that resulted in a product sample testing positive for Listeria monocytogenes. But just like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and salmonella-tainted green onions, no one is saying who or how many got sick.
 

88 sick with Salmonella from dry sausage in France






Our man in France, Albert Amgar passed along this report of an on-going outbreak of Salmonella; translated by Amy Hubbell.

 

The institute for sanitary surveillance is now investigating an outbreak of salmonellosis from Salmonella 4,12 :i :-, in collaboration with the concerned partners: the National Center for Salmonella Reference, The Laboratory for studies and research on food quality and processing from the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA), the General Management of Health, and the General Management of Food. As of May 28, 2010, 88 cases of salmonellosis tied to this outbreak have been identified, of which 46 women and 42 men, aged from 1 to 89 years old (median age 8 years old). These cases are from 49 departments in France (Figure 1, below, left).

Forty-four cases have been investigated to date. Among these, 18 people have been hospitalized and have since returned home.

For the investigated cases, the symptoms appeared between March 15 and May 9, 2010.

The questioning of patients about the food they consumed during the 7 days preceding their illness showed a high frequency of consumption of dry sausage bought from the same brand.

A traceback showed that these sausages came from the same batch produced in a single firm in France, distributed nationally during the first two weeks of March 2010. The best by date for this batch extends from June 1 to 15, 2010.

The identified batch of dried sausage was recalled (consumer information was posted and communicated in a press release) by the producer on May 27, 2010.

Translator’s Note: A subsequent news search reveals that the recall is for the Lou Mountagnard brand of dried sausages. (France 24, May 28, 2010).