Stick it in: Kevin McHale accidentally gives boyfriend Austin McKenzie Salmonella

My partner and American/Australian daughter have taken to watching reruns of the television show, Glee, during or after dinner.

Who knew there would ever be a food safety connection?

Turns out 32-year-old Glee alum Kevin McHale amusingly shared a series of tweets on Saturday night (August 1) in which he revealed that he accidentally gave his boyfriend Austin McKenzie salmonella due to his cooking.

“But have you undercooked chicken sausage (unintentionally) and then served it to your bf and then he got superrrrr sick and you thought it was covid and you got tested twice but nah you just fed him salmonella? He should break up with me. I would,” he tweeted.

When told that Austin needs to take his phone away, Kevin then added: “He’s asleep because I poisoned him!”

He then tweeted “Omg” when he realized that Austin hilariously changed his profile bio to: “I left Twitter many years ago. I’m back on now to monitor my thirsty boyfriend, Kevin Mchale, who ‘accidentally’ gave me salmonella 5 days ago.”

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer. Any fans of McHale should mail him one (if the U.S. Postal Service still exists).

Compost sounds cool, but is it food safety safe

Twenty years ago, I sent one of my students to a big organic conference in Guelph, and requested that she ask one question: How do you know compost is microbiologically safe?

The answer was not convincing.

‘There’s so many good bacteria they out-compete the bad bacteria.’

Fairytale.

Ten years ago, I was visiting a colleague in Melbourne in his high-rise office and he said, see those crappy little houses down there with their crappy little backyard gardens, they provide the produce for Melbourne’s high-end restaurants, and it’s all fertilized with night soil’ (human shit).

A couple of days ago The Packer published a piece about composting food safety.

Doug Grant, who chairs the Center for Produce Safety’s Knowledge Transfer Task Force wrote that composting is a seemingly magical process that decomposes organic materials like green waste or animal manures through microbial fermentation, creating nutrient-rich amendments that can be added back to soils.

It’s not magical; it’s microbiological.

However, compost can also pose a risk to the food safety of fresh produce.

Animal manure is widely suspected to be a significant source of human pathogens. Cows can carry E. coli, while poultry and swine can carry Salmonella. If compost is made with manure containing such pathogens, and the composting process is not controlled properly, these pathogens can survive composting. Contaminated compost applied to fields can then cross-contaminate fresh produce that contacts amended soil during growth, irrigation or harvest.

Yes, we have over 20 years of evidence.

Gurmail Mudahar, Ph.D., is vice president of research and development and food safety at Tanimura & Antle and is a member of CPS’s technical committee and California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement’s (LGMA) advisory board. He reports that his company used to prepare and apply their own animal manure-based composts.  That changed when food safety emerged as a major leafy greens industry issue almost two decades ago.

Then Tanimura & Antle and other growers began buying compost only from specialized manufacturers to minimize produce safety hazards. 

At its simplest, composting is a manufacuring process. To produce compost safely, the most critical controls are high temperature and time held at that temperature. Over time, the heat generated by microbial respiration in turn reduces the compost’s microbial population, including any human pathogens present. 

As a general rule, compost temperatures must reach 131 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius for 3-15 days, followed by a curing phase of least 21 days and preferably a few months. (Once applied to agricultural fields, pathogens continue to die off when exposed to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays, humidity, temperature, time and other factors.)

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

From the duh files: Your chicken is no longer pink. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat

The New York Times followed up on the chicken study and how to tell if it’s done that I wrote about last week with a meandering story about color, texture, and stupidly recommends using pop-up thermometers.

Me and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many others have been saying the same thing for over 20 years: Use a fucking tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

That is all.

You think that chicken is done? It’s not done (or it’s burnt)

About one third of foodborne illness outbreaks in Europe are acquired in the home and eating undercooked poultry is among consumption practices associated with illness. The aim of this study was to investigate whether actual and recommended practices for monitoring chicken doneness are safe.

Seventy-five European households from five European countries were interviewed and videoed while cooking chicken in their private kitchens, including young single men, families with infants/in pregnancy and elderly over seventy years. A cross-national web-survey collected cooking practices for chicken from 3969 households. In a laboratory kitchen, chicken breast fillets were injected with cocktails of Salmonella and Campylobacter and cooked to core temperatures between 55 and 70°C. Microbial survival in the core and surface of the meat were determined. In a parallel experiment, core colour, colour of juice and texture were recorded. Finally, a range of cooking thermometers from the consumer market were evaluated.

The field study identified nine practical approaches for deciding if the chicken was properly cooked. Among these, checking the colour of the meat was commonly used and perceived as a way of mitigating risks among the consumers. Meanwhile, chicken was perceived as hedonically vulnerable to long cooking time. The quantitative survey revealed that households prevalently check cooking status from the inside colour (49.6%) and/or inside texture (39.2%) of the meat. Young men rely more often on the outside colour of the meat (34.7%) and less often on the juices (16.5%) than the elderly (>65 years old; 25.8% and 24.6%, respectively). The lab study showed that colour change of chicken meat happened below 60°C, corresponding to less than 3 log reduction of Salmonella and Campylobacter. At a core temperature of 70°C, pathogens survived on the fillet surface not in contact with the frying pan. No correlation between meat texture and microbial inactivation was found. A minority of respondents used a food thermometer, and a challenge with cooking thermometers for home use was long response time. In conclusion, the recommendations from the authorities on monitoring doneness of chicken and current consumer practices do not ensure reduction of pathogens to safe levels. For the domestic cook, determining doneness is both a question of avoiding potential harm and achieving a pleasurable meal. It is discussed how lack of an easy “rule-of-thumb” or tools to check safe cooking at consumer level, as well as national differences in contamination levels, food culture and economy make it difficult to develop international recommendations that are both safe and easily implemented.

Cooking chicken at home: common or recommended approaches to judge doneness may not assure sufficient inactivation of pathogens, 29 April 2020

PLOS One

Solveig Langsrud, Oddvin Sørheim, Silje Elisabeth Skuland, Valérie Lengard Almli, Merete Rusås Jensen, Magnhild Seim Grøvlen, Øydis Ueland, Trond Møretrø

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230928

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230928

Campy linked to poultry liver pate

Despite a sizeable evidence base for the risk of campylobacteriosis associated with eating chicken liver pâté, associated outbreaks continue to occur. In January 2017, six cases of campylobacteriosis reported having eaten a Christmas set-menu meal at the same hotel in North Yorkshire, England on the same day. A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to test the null hypothesis that consumption of individual food items was not associated with an increased risk of illness.

There were 19 cases of campylobacteriosis linked to the outbreak; seven confirmed and 12 probable cases. Chicken liver pâté was the food item most strongly associated with illness (P < 0.001) with a corresponding high crude relative risk (12.95). This relationship was supported by multivariable analysis, sensitivity analyses and a clear dose–response relationship. Three cases reported an incubation period of <24 h, consistent with other outbreaks of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of poultry liver. The findings were suggestive of a single point source exposure with a strong association between the consumption of chicken liver pâté and campylobacteriosis.

This outbreak highlights that despite evidence that simple cooking techniques can ensure that all campylobacter are killed during cooking, outbreaks continue to occur. Public and professional awareness needs to be raised through a strategic communication plan to reduce the risk of further outbreaks of campylobacteriosis linked to incorrectly cooked chicken liver dishes.

An outbreak of campylobacteriosis at a hotel in England: the ongoing risk due to consumption of chicken liver dishes

Epidemiology and Infection vol. 148 no. 32

Wensley (a1)S. Padfield (a1) (a2) and G. J. Hughes (a1

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S095026882000028X

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/an-outbreak-of-campylobacteriosis-at-a-hotel-in-england-the-ongoing-risk-due-to-consumption-of-chicken-liver-dishes/94DE2951174C2C652921BE05A9C20B6E

Recommend using a thermometer instead of piping hot: FSA food safety culture

Jose Bolanos of the UK Food Standards Agency writes in Organizations, culture and food safety, 2020that FSA has a longstanding interest in organisational culture and its impact on the capability of a food business to provide food that is safe and what it says it is.

However, while there has been some work carried out on assessing organisational culture in some regulatory areas, there has been limited progress in the development of a regulatory approach specifically for food safety culture.

And on it goes in bureau-speak.

Can’t take an agency seriously when they still recommend that meat be cooked until piping hot.

What is the temperature of your fridge?

I used to use these semi-disposable thermometers in my old-school fridge, but when we bought our Brisbane house we bought a new fridge which displays the fridge and freezer temps continuously (although I should check on how to validate).

The fridge also has an ice and water dispenser, which I used to have but lost in the divorce or move(s), it’s all a blur now.

 A transdisciplinary observational study, coupled with a web-based survey, was conducted to investigate refrigerated storage of food, in five European countries.

The investigated consumer groups in this study were: young families with small children and/or pregnant women, elderly people, persons with an immunodeficient system, and young single men.

The refrigerator temperature was monitored for approximately two weeks using a temperature data logger. Variables such as country, income, age of refrigerators, education, living area, refrigerator loading practices had no significant effect (p > 0.05) on the overall average fridge temperature, whereas consumers’ practices showed a significant influence (p < 0.05) on registered temperature values.

Compared to temperatures inside the fridges belonging to young families and young single men group, the temperatures inside refrigerators belonging to elderly was in the temperature danger zone (5–63 °C). The lowest temperatures were recorded in UK consumers’ refrigerators, whereas the highest were in French households. Presence of Listeria monocytogenes was confirmed in three refrigerators out of 53 sampled (two in Romania and one in Portugal).

The most vulnerable category to food safety risks is represented by elderly persons with low education, unaware of safe refrigeration practices and the actual temperature their fridges are running.

Time-temperature profiles and listeria monocytogenes presence in refrigerators from households with vulnerable consumers

Food Control vol. 111 May 2020

LoredanaDumitrașcua, Anca IoanaNicolaua, CorinaNeagua, PierrineDidierb, IsabelleMaîtrec, ChristopheNguyen-Theb, Silje ElisabethSkulandd, TrondMøretrøe, SolveigLangsrude, MonicaTruningerf, PaulaTeixeirag, VâniaFerreirag, LydiaMartensh, DanielaBordaa

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2019.107078

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095671351930667X?via%3Dihub

Toxo in Canadian deer hunters eating undercooked venison from Illinois

We conducted a recent investigation in Quebec, Canada, concerning Canadian deer hunters who went to the United States to hunt deer and returned with symptoms of fever, severe headache, myalgia, and articular pain of undetermined etiology. Further investigation identified that a group of 10 hunters from Quebec attended a hunting retreat in Illinois (USA) during November 22–December 4, 2018.

Six of the 10 hunters had similar symptoms and illness onset dates. Serologic tests indicated a recent toxoplasmosis infection for all symptomatic hunters, and the risk factor identified was consumption of undercooked deer meat. Among asymptomatic hunters, 2 were already immune to toxoplasmosis, 1 was not immune, and the immune status of 1 remains unknown. Outbreaks of acute toxoplasmosis infection are rare in North America, but physicians should be aware that such outbreaks could become more common.

Acute toxoplasmosis among Canadian deer hunters associated with consumption of undercooked deer meat hunted in the U.S.

Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 26, no. 2

Colette Gaulin , Danielle Ramsay, Karine Thivierge, Joanne Tataryn, Ariane Courville, Catherine Martin, Patricia Cunningham, Joane Désilets, Diane Morin, and Réjean Dion

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/2/19-1218_article?deliveryName=DM17555

Lamb mince as a source of toxo in Australia

Objective: Toxoplasmosis may follow consumption of undercooked meat containing Toxoplasma gondii cysts. Lamb is considered to pose the highest risk for contamination across meats. Red meat is often served undercooked, yet there are no current data on T. gondii contamination of Australian sourced and retailed lamb. We sought to address this gap in public health knowledge.

Methods: Lamb mincemeat was purchased at the supermarket counter three times weekly for six months. T. gondii was detected by real‐time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of DNA extracted from the meat following homogenisation. Purchases were also tested for common foodborne bacterial pathogens.

Results: Conservative interpretation of PCR testing (i.e. parasite DNA detected in three of four tests) gave a probability of 43% (95% confidence interval, 32%–54%) that lamb mincemeat was contaminated with T. gondii. None of the purchases were contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella species or S. enterica serovar Typhimurium, indicating sanitary meat processing.

Conclusions: Australian lamb is commonly contaminated with T. gondii. Future studies should be directed at testing a range of red meats and meat cuts.

Implications for public health: Consuming undercooked Australian lamb has potential to result in toxoplasmosis. There may be value in health education around this risk.

Lamb as a potential source of toxoplasma gondii infection for Australians

December 2019

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Abby C. Dawson, Liam M. Ashander, Binoy Appukuttan, Richard J. Woodman, Jitender P. Dubey, Harriet Whiley, Justine R. Smith

https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12955

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.12955

UK still insists on steaming (rather than piping) hot to reduce Campy in chicken; scientists do a Picard face palm

The UK Food Standards Agency reports the top nine retailers across the UK have published their latest testing results on campylobacter contamination in UK-produced fresh whole chickens (covering samples tested from April to June 2019).

The latest figures show that on average, across the major retailers, 3.6% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination. These are the chickens carrying more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) of campylobacter. 

Results

The sampling and analyses are carried out in accordance with protocols laid down by the FSA and agreed by Industry.

Background information

Contamination levels         July-September 2018          October-December 2018    January-March 2019           April-June 2019

cfu/g less than 10   58.8% 63.1% 55.4% 59%

cfu/g 10-99   26.7% 22.3% 25.3% 25.3%

cfu/g 100-1000         11%    11.4% 15.8% 12.1%

cfu/g over 1000       3.5%   3.1%   3.5%   3.6%

We have been testing chickens for campylobacter since February 2014 and publishing the results as part of a campaign to bring together the whole food chain to tackle the problem. Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

In September 2017 we announced changes to the survey, with major retailers carrying out their own sampling and publishing their results under robust protocols laid down by the FSA. We are continuing to sample fresh whole chickens sold at retail, however, the focus is now on the smaller retailers and the independent market.

Chicken is safe if consumers follow good kitchen practice:

Cover and chill raw chicken – cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip onto other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as campylobacter

Don’t wash raw chicken – thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing

Wash used utensils – thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken – this helps stop the spread of campylobacter by avoiding cross-contamination

Cook chicken thoroughly – make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

It’s a scientific embarrassment.