Rates of FBI going nowhere

Is unconditional love a real thing? Is it possible to maximize an individual’s goals and relationships at the same time? Is microbial foodborne illness still a thing?

Unconditional is a subjective word that means different things to different people.

Rather than going for the safe middle in conflict resolution, I have a therapist who says, go for the jugular: have a great relationship and go after great goals (note: it helps if you tell your partner what you want in terms of the relationship and goals).

Microbial foodborne illness rates in the U.S. have been stagnant for 15 years. It’s a thing, but it’s not clear who cares.

The Washington Post stated back in the day, “Between 1998 and 2004, illnesses reported by CDC that were caused by E. Coli, listeria, campylobacter and a few other bacteria decreased by 25 to 30 percent, perhaps because of improvements in the handling of meat and eggs. Since about 2004, however, the rate of these illnesses has basically remained steady.”

There’s lots of new media toys out there, but it’s the high-tech version of signs that say, “Employees Must Wash Hands.” Reposting press releases – especially in the absence of critical analysis — is a waste of bandwidth and resources. And there is no evidence it results in fewer sick people.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reiterated the incidence of most infections transmitted commonly through food has not declined for many years.

Incidence of infections caused by Listeria, Salmonella, and Shigella remained unchanged, and those caused by all other pathogens reported to FoodNet increased during 2019. Infections caused by Salmonella serotype Enteritidis, did not decline; however, serotype Typhimurium infections continued to decline.

New strategies that target particular serotypes and more widespread implementation of known prevention measures are needed to reduce Salmonella illnesses. Reductions in Salmonella serotype Typhimurium suggest that targeted interventions (e.g., vaccinating chickens and other food animals) might decrease human infections. Isolates are needed to subtype bacteria so that sources of illnesses can be determined.

I’ve been harping about the need for new messages and new media for 15 years – even did a road trip in 2009 with a number of talks stressing this point – with apparently little effect.

So maybe I’ll focus on relationships and being the best partner, father and person I can be.

Peace and love.

Preliminary incidence and trends of infections with pathogens transmitted commonly through food—foodborne diseases active surveillance network, 10 US sites, 2016-2019, 01 May 2020

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report pp.509-514

Danielle M. Tack, DVM1; Logan Ray, MPH1; Patricia M. Griffin, MD1; Paul R. Cieslak, MD2; John Dunn, DVM3; Tamara Rissman, MPH4; Rachel Jervis, MPH5; Sarah Lathrop, PhD6; Alison Muse, MPH7; Monique Duwell, MD8; Kirk Smith, DVM9; Melissa Tobin-D’Angelo, MD10; Duc J. Vugia, MD11; Joanna Zablotsky Kufel, PhD12; Beverly J. Wolpert, PhD13; Robert Tauxe, MD1; Daniel C. Payne, PhD1

https://www.cdc.gov/mmw/volumes/69/wr/mm6917a1.htm?s_cid=mm6917a1_w&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM26943

Kansas veterinary medicine researchers develop new method to improve food safety

From a press release, as if you couldn’t tell:

Faculty members from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a faster, more efficient method of detecting “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli,” or STEC, in ground beef, which often causes recalls of ground beef and vegetables.

“The traditional gold standard STEC detection, which requires bacterial isolation and characterization, is not amenable to high-throughput settings and often requires a week to obtain a definitive result,” said Jianfa Bai, section head of molecular research and development in the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The new method developed by Bai and colleagues requires only a day to obtain confirmatory results using a Kansas State University-patented method with the partition-based multichannel digital polymerase chain reaction system.

“We believe the new digital polymerase chain reaction detection method developed in this study will be widely used in food safety and inspection services for the rapid detection and confirmation of STEC and other foodborne pathogens,” said Jamie Henningson, director of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

When ingested through foods such as ground beef and vegetables, STEC can cause illnesses with symptoms including abdominal pain and diarrhea. Some illnesses caused by STEC may lead to kidney failure and can be life-threatening.

“Some E. coli strains do not produce Shiga toxins and thus do not affect human health as much,” said Xuming Liu, research assistant professor. “Because cattle feces and ground beef can contain harmless or less pathogenic E. coli along with STEC, the most commonly used polymerase chain reaction cannot identify pathogenic E. coli strains in a complex sample matrix.”

The new digital polymerase chain reaction test was developed for research and food safety inspections that require shorter turnaround and high throughput, without sacrificing detection accuracy.

“While the current, commonly used testing method is considered to be the gold standard, it is tedious and requires many days to obtain results that adequately differentiate the bacteria,” said Gary Anderson, director of the International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute at the K-State Olathe campus.

The study, “Single cell-based digital PCR detection and association of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli serogroups and major virulence genes,” which describes the test design and results, was published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Persister, I don’t even know her: STEC in produce

Bacterial persistence is a form of phenotypic heterogeneity in which a subpopulation, persisters, has high tolerance to antibiotics and other stresses. Persisters of enteric pathogens may represent the subpopulations capable of surviving harsh environments and causing human infections. Here we examined the persister populations of several shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) outbreak strains under conditions relevant to leafy greens production.

The persister fraction of STEC in exponential-phase of culture varied greatly among the strains examined, ranging from 0.00003% to 0.0002% for O157:H7 strains to 0.06% and 0.08% for STEC O104:H4 strains. A much larger persister fraction (0.1–11.2%) was observed in STEC stationary cells grown in rich medium, which was comparable to the persister fractions in stationary cells grown in spinach lysates (0.6–3.6%). The highest persister fraction was measured in populations of cells incubated in field water (9.9–23.2%), in which no growth was detected for any of the STEC strains examined. Considering the high tolerance of persister cells to antimicrobial treatments and their ability to revert to normal cells, the presence of STEC persister cells in leafy greens production environments may pose a significant challenge in the development of effective control strategies to ensure the microbial safety of fresh vegetables.

Enhanced formation of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli persister variants in environments relevant to leafy greens production

Science Direct, Food Microbiology, Volume 84

Sandy Thao, Maria T. Brandl, Michelle Qiu Carter

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002018311353

Was it really the last meal that made you barf? No

Early in a foodborne disease outbreak investigation, illness incubation periods can help focus case interviews, case definitions, clinical and environmental evaluations and predict an aetiology. Data describing incubation periods are limited.

We examined foodborne disease outbreaks from laboratory-confirmed, single aetiology, enteric bacterial and viral pathogens reported to United States foodborne disease outbreak surveillance from 1998–2013. We grouped pathogens by clinical presentation and analysed the reported median incubation period among all illnesses from the implicated pathogen for each outbreak as the outbreak incubation period.

Outbreaks from preformed bacterial toxins (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens) had the shortest outbreak incubation periods (4–10 h medians), distinct from that of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (17 h median). Norovirus, salmonella and shigella had longer but similar outbreak incubation periods (32–45 h medians); campylobacter and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli had the longest among bacteria (62–87 h medians); hepatitis A had the longest overall (672 h median). Our results can help guide diagnostic and investigative strategies early in an outbreak investigation to suggest or rule out specific etiologies or, when the pathogen is known, the likely timeframe for exposure. They also point to possible differences in pathogenesis among pathogens causing broadly similar syndromes.

Incubation periods of enteric illness in foodborne outbreaks, United States, 1998-2013

Cambridge University Press

  1. J. Chai(a1)W. Gu(a1)K. A. O’Connor (a2)L. C. Richardson (a1) and R. V. Tauxe 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268819001651

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/incubation-periods-of-enteric-illnesses-in-foodborne-outbreaks-united-states-19982013/453636E8DEEF537FFBFFD10C84E93887

Farm-to-fork food safety in Denmark: Campylobacter is prominent

Burden of disease metrics is increasingly established to prioritize food safety interventions. We estimated the burden of disease caused by seven foodborne pathogens in Denmark in 2017: Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, norovirus, Yersinia enterocolitica, Listeria monocytogenes, and Toxoplasma gondii.

We used public health surveillance data and scientific literature to estimate incidence, mortality, and total disability-adjusted life year (DALY) of each, and linked results with estimates of the proportion of disease burden that is attributable to foods.

Our estimates showed that Campylobacter caused the highest burden of disease, leading to a total burden of 1709 DALYs (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 1665–1755), more than threefold higher than the second highest ranked pathogen (Salmonella: 492 DALYs; 95% UI 481–504). Campylobacter still led the ranking when excluding DALYs attributable to nonfoodborne routes of exposure. The total estimated incidence was highest for norovirus, but this agent ranked sixth when focusing on foodborne burden. Salmonella ranked second in terms of foodborne burden of disease, followed by Listeria and Yersinia. Foodborne congenital toxoplasmosis was estimated to cause the loss of ∼100 years of healthy life, a burden that was borne by a low number of cases in the population. The ranking of foodborne pathogens varied substantially when based on reported cases, estimated incidence, and burden of disease estimates.

Our results reinforce the need to continue food safety efforts throughout the food chain in Denmark, with a particular focus on reducing the incidence of Campylobacter infections.

Burden of disease estimates of seven pathogens commonly transmitted through foods in Denmark, 2017

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

Sara Monteiro PiresLea Sletting JakobsenJohanne Ellis-IversenJoana Pessoa, and Steen Ethelberg

https://doi.org/10.1089/fpd.2019.2705

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2019.2705

Salmonella most common cause of foodborne illness in EU

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) reports nearly one in three foodborne outbreaks in the EU in 2018 were caused by Salmonella. This is one of the main findings of the annual report on trends and sources of zoonoses published today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

In 2018, EU Member States reported 5,146 foodborne outbreaks affecting 48,365 people. A foodborne disease outbreak is an incident during which at least two people contract the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink.

Slovakia, Spain and Poland accounted for 67% of the 1,581 Salmonella outbreaks. These outbreaks were mainly linked to eggs.

“Findings from our latest Eurobarometer show that less than one third of European citizens rank food poisoning from bacteria among their top five concerns when it comes to food safety. The number of reported outbreaks suggests that there’s room for raising awareness among consumers as many foodborne illnesses are preventable by improving hygiene measures when handling and preparing food” said EFSA’s chief scientist Marta Hugas.

Salmonellosis was the second most commonly reported gastrointestinal infection in humans in the EU (91,857 cases reported), after campylobacteriosis (246,571).

White Castle frozen food division announces voluntary recall of a limited production of frozen sandwiches due to Listeria monocytogenes

Any excuse to write about White Castle means I get to recall the great movie, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

I had a hockey friend over for lunch one day, we ate steak and watched Harold and Kumar, and it was one of the best times ever.

White Castle has initiated a voluntary recall of a limited number of frozen 6 pack cheeseburgers, frozen 6 pack hamburgers, frozen 6 pack jalapeno cheeseburgers, and 16 pack hamburgers, 16 pack cheeseburgers for the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes. 

The voluntary recall will impact product on shelves at select retailers with best by dates ranging from 04 Aug 2020 to 17 Aug 2020. Any product with these dates on shelves is presently being removed. Any product with a best by date before or after these best by dates is not included in the voluntary recall.

To date, public health officials have not reported any illness associated with these products.

“Our number one focus is the safety of our customers and our team members, and as a family owned business, we want to hold ourselves to the absolute highest standards of accountability in all aspects of our business – and especially food safety,” said White Castle Vice President, Jamie Richardson.

Uh huh.

Chicago looks back on restaurant inspection

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) conducts routine food inspections of over 15,000 food establishments to ensure the health and safety of their patrons.

In 2015, CDPH deployed a machine learning model to schedule inspections of establishments based on their likelihood to commit critical food code violations.

The City of Chicago released the training data and source code for the model, allowing anyone to examine the model. We provide the first independent analysis of the model, the data, the predictor variables, the performance metrics, and the underlying assumptions. We present a summary of our findings, share lessons learned, and make recommendations to address some of the issues our analysis unearthed.

Hindsight analysis of the Chicago food inspection forecasting model, 2019

Illinois Institute of Technology

Vinesh Kannan, Matthew Shapiro, and Mustafa Bilgic

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1910.04906.pdf

Raw is risky: Eating raw pig liver from Singapore market may increase risk of hepatitis E

Danielle Ann of Alvinology reports researchers at the Singapore General Hospital have found definite similarities between the virus strains of Hepatitis E virus or (HEV) in pig liver and human liver.

This means that ingesting raw pork liver could mean you’re ingesting a strain of HEV that’s similar enough to human HEV that it could cause you get infected.

The same report said that people who have contracted HEV has risen steadily over the years. While the researchers could not say if the ingestion of raw pig liver is the main cause of the rise in cases, many local dishes feature this ingredient and do not cook the meat thoroughly.

The same report said that you can acquire the disease from eating contaminated food or substances. Ingesting water that is laced with the disease or accidentally drinking water that has trace amounts of faeces. Eating raw or half-cooked meat that is infected can also transmit the virus to you.

Can a smartphone stop a norovirus outbreak?

Rebecca Trager of Chemistry World reports U.S. researchers have created a handheld detection system that is sensitive enough to catch just a few particles of norovirus.

University of Arizona biomedical engineer Jeong-Yeol Yoon and his team have created a highly sensitive portable detection system capable of spotting norovirus at levels that can make people sick. The work was presented the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in San Diego, California on 27 August.

As few as 10 norovirus particles can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in humans and the virus is extremely contagious so early detection is vital to prevent outbreaks. However, the virus does not grow in laboratory cultures and current detection methods rely on specialised and time-consuming PCR (polymerase chain reaction) techniques.

Yoon’s research team previously developed a smartphone-based device that measured light-scattering from norovirus-bound polystyrene beads in a paper microfluidic chip. It has now improved the device’s detection limit by changing to a fluorescence-based method.

‘I looked at Amazon.com and saw that they sell a lot of these smartphone attachments – smartphone microscope attachments – that turn your phone turns into a microscope, and by adding a couple of other components, I could convert the smartphone-based microscope into a fluorescence microscope,’ Yoon explains.

The setup uses a microscope accessory with a separate light source and two optical filters. He and colleagues also designed a 3D printed case to house the components.

To test a sample, it is first added to the paper microfluidic chip, followed by a suspension of fluorescent beads labelled with norovirus antibodies. After three to five minutes, the antibodies bind to any norovirus particles in the sample, creating aggregates of the fluorescent beads that spread out along the channels of the chip. The resulting increase in fluorescence intensity around each norovirus particle can be detected by taking a picture of the chip with the smartphone’s camera.

An app that the team has also developed then analyses the picture to calculate the sample’s norovirus concentration from the pixel count in the image. So far, the lowest detection limit corresponded to about 5 or 6 norovirus particles per sample, Yoon says. He estimates that the material costs of this system, aside from the cell phone and app development costs, are about $200.