Norovirus outbreak at Lego event leaves more than 40 people suffering with sickness and diarrhea

The organisers of the Bristol Brick show say they are ‘devastated’ and an investigation has been launched by the city’s health authorities.

Nearly 4,000 people visited the Action Indoor Sports centre to celebrate Lego but after the event more than 40 attendees started experiencing sickness and diarrhoea.

One Lego fan, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was not happy with the cleanliness of the venue.

He said: “The state of the place left a lot to be desired.”

“The food wasn’t great and over the weekend, the toilets weren’t well maintained, the basins didn’t work well and there was no hand sanitiser and that sort of thing.”

“At least 40 people that I know about have been affected.”

Nice handle: Butter Me Up café prosecuted for food safety offences

Bristol News reports employees at a Bishopsworth café have been fined for food hygiene offences after pleading guilty to a string of safety standards breaches.

Laura West and Donna Flanagan, who were running the small Butter Me Up premises at Highridge Road, were also ordered to pay totals including prosecution costs of £2,937 and £2,855 respectively at Bristol Crown Court last week after pleading guilty to a number of offences at an earlier hearing.

The pair were also given an open-ended Hygiene Prohibition Order, banning them from participating in the management of any food business which, if breached, amounts to a criminal offence which could lead to a prison sentence.

Environmental Health officers from Bristol City Council launched an immediate investigation and visited the café in July 2018, having been alerted to the death of an elderly gentleman from suspected food poisoning after he and a friend were hospitalised.

Officers discovered that the business had been operating since November 2015 but had not registered with the Council since it opened. The café was also displaying a food safety sticker with a rating of 5, the highest rating, which belonged to a previous business at the same address.

Environmental health officers noted a range of further food safety offences, including little to no food hygiene and safety training, no written food safety management, poor pest control and lack of reliable disinfection practices. Environmental swabs and a cloth that had been used for handling equipment showed that food poisoning bacteria were widespread throughout the premises, indicating poor cleaning practices.

Girl, 4, left fighting for life after getting E. coli O157 on Isle of Wight trip

A four-year-old girl was left fighting for her life after contracting the deadly E.coli infection after a trip to the Isle of Wight.

Isla Grainger had to be put in an induced coma in intensive care after the harmful bug caused her kidneys to fail.

Pippa Allen-Kinross of the Mirror reports Isla spent 17 days in hospital and is now recovering at home, but is still not well enough to go to school.

She began to have diarrhoea and sickness after a weekend trip to the Isle of Wight with her mum Lauren Aspery, 21, and mum’s partner Lewis Keith.

The family visited a petting zoo, arcades and a beach in Sandown on the island before Isla became unwell.

But, as yet, they do not know where the infection came from.

Mum Lauren, who lives in Whiteley near Fareham, also had painful stomach aches and nausea.

After Isla stopped eating and struggled to go to the toilet for three days, Lauren took her daughter to the emergency department at Southampton General Hospital.

The little girl was rushed into emergency surgery to insert a catheter and begin urgent dialysis after tests revealed she had E.coli O157.

Medics realised the E.coli had developed into hemolytic uremic syndrome, affecting Isla’s blood cells and vessels and resulting in kidney failure.

She had to undergo surgery to remove a twisted catheter and was later moved to intensive care and placed in an induced coma.

Devastated Lauren was left terrified she would lose her daughter, as Isla’s condition quickly became a “matter of life or death”.

She said: “It was terrifying. I thought the worst and that we were going to lose our little girl.

  “I really believed this was just a bad case of sickness.

“The doctor took a breath and told us that ‘Isla is very, very poorly, much more sick than we thought’.

British girl, 2, dies from E. coli after holiday in Turkey

A two-year-old British girl has died after contracting E.coli while on holiday in Turkey.

Allie Birchall came down with the severe illness after returning to the UK following a stay at a luxury resort east of the coastal city of Antayla.

Her family were forced to turn off Allie’s life support machine just two weeks after their holiday because of complications caused by the illness.

The family had travelled to Turkey with tour operator Jet2 Holidays on 12 July and said they had concerns about the hygeine of the Turkish resort.

Katie Dawson, Allie’s mother, said her daughter did not start getting ill until five days after getting back to their home in Atherton, Greater Manchester.

According to Ms Dawson, Allie began suffering with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and lethargy before being admitted to Royal Bolton Hospital on July 30.

The hospital confirmed Allie had contracted Shiga-Toxin producing E.Coli (STEC), which later led to her developing deadly Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) – a life-threatening complication related to the poisoning.

Allie was moved to the Manchester Royal Infirmary and put in an induced coma on August 1.

An MRI scan was carried out, which revealed that she had sustained severe brain trauma and damage. Katie had to make the difficult decision to terminate Allie’s life support following the advice from doctors.

“While nothing will bring her back, we need to know what caused her illness and if anything could have been done to prevent it.

The family have now instructed specialist international serious injury lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, to investigate what happened.

Public Health England is also currently investigating the matter, and an inquest has been opened to examine the circumstances surrounding Allie’s death.

The Crown:: Queen Elizabeth’s staff follows serious (not so much) food poisoning protocol

Queen Elizabeth has a crafty way to avoid getting poisoned at the dinner table. A new documentary called Secrets of the Royal Kitchen explores the ins and outs of Buckingham Palace’s kitchens, including the lengths royal staffers go to keep Elizabeth safe. Here’s a quick look at all the interesting elements that go into a state banquet with the Queen.

During state banquets, Her Majesty’s staff are required to follow a serious protocol to keep her safe – and the lengths they go for her safety might surprise you.

A personal chef at the palace prepares the dishes for all of the guests. According to the New York Post, Elizabeth’s staff members then chose a random plate for her in an effort to prevent someone from poisoning her food.

The only way someone would be able to poison Queen Elizabeth is if they contaminated all of the dishes. This tactic has paid off so far, though we couldn’t imagine why someone would want to poison the Queen.

“After everything is plated up, a page chooses at random one of the plates to be served to her majesty,” Emily Andrews, a correspondent for the royals, shared. “So if anyone did want to poison the monarch they’d have to poison the whole lot.”

The documentary also revealed that banquet guests are required to follow some strict rules while dining with  Elizabeth Queen.

This includes finishing their plates before Her Majesty is done eating. This is an old tradition that used to be more of an issue in the past as guests would race to finish their food. It is unclear if the palace requires visitors to follow this protocol or if they have gotten more flexible in recent years.

There are, of course, plenty of other traditions guests are required to follow whenever they are eating with the Queen.

For starters, nobody sits down until Elizabeth has been seated. You also cannot start eating until she has taken her first bite.

Elizabeth also has a personal menu that has been crafted to her liking. She schedules her meals three days in advance to give the palace chef plenty of time to gather ingredients.

When picking her dining options, Elizabeth crosses out dishes she doesn’t like. She also crosses out entire pages whenever she has a royal event that evening and will not be dining in the palace.

Sounds like me being in psyche jail.

And not a mention of microbiology.

Dumbasses.

Creepy metaphor: UK children ‘dropped like flies’ after suspected Norovirus outbreak at school

I don’t cover all the norovirus outbreaks because there are far too many: but I do cover the unique and unintentionally sardonic.

Bethany Whymark of the Eastern Daily Press reports a primary school where scores of children are believed to have been struck down with norovirus has declined to confirm or deny whether an outbreak took place.

Of course not. They’re British.

Parents at Norwich Primary Academy say an outbreak of the vomiting bug at the end of last week caused dozens of children to fall ill.

One parent claimed almost a quarter of the school’s 350 pupils were absent at the end of last week and questioned why the school had not been closed.

Norwich Primary Academy did not confirm or deny whether any cases of norovirus has been reported, saying it could not comment on individual cases, but added that it took pupil health seriously and followed all relevant health protection guidelines.

Uh-huh.

One parent, whose children are in year one and year three at Norwich Primary Academy, said a group social media chat for parents at the school has reportedly been awash with talk of children and other family members falling victim to sickness and diarrhea.

“It is speculation from the teachers at the moment,” she said.

“There were 18 children in a year one class out of 30 on Friday morning and 10 on Friday afternoon. The children are dropping like flies.”

Lord of the Flies.

UK factory put uncooked sausage in pre-packed sandwiches posing ‘danger to health’

James Cain of The Mirror reports a factory has been ordered to stop making food after it put uncooked sausages into pre-packed sandwiches.

The Middlesbrough-based factory has been told by health authorities it risked causing a listeria outbreak.

Café Class Ltd has been served with a hygiene emergency prohibition order for food safety practices that posed an “immediate danger to human health”.

A court this week heard how the company extended the use-by dates of boiled eggs, cheddar cheese and streaky bacon, putting consumers’ health at risk.

The risk to the public was so severe that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued an immediate product recall on sandwiches, wraps and salads made by the company.

Listeria has been in the spotlight this year after six people died after getting listeria from prepackaged sandwiches and salads served in UK hospitals.

In the unrelated case the company, which traded with stores including Londis, Nisa and North East Convenience Stores, faced court as Middlesbrough Council sought an emergency hygiene order to prevent it from making food, reports the Local Demoracy Reporting service for Teesside Live .

Company directors Shahid Nawaz and Mohammed Haris Abdullah arrived at Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday to hear Middlesbrough Council lay out the case against their company.

Andrew Perriman, prosecuting for the council , told magistrates that Café Class, based in Riverside Park, was visited by environmental health officers on September 9.

The inspection was arranged “to assess compliance with a hygiene improvement notice served earlier in the year as a result of allergy management concerns”.

But Mr Perriman said the officers were shocked to discover the factory was routinely placing ingredients on their use-by date in sandwiches, wraps and salads which would then be labelled with a four-day use-by date.

“In respect of cooked ham aspect used in the final product, it is specified by the manufacturer to be used within three days once opened,” said Mr Perriman.

But the officers found that once opened, the ham had been placed in a plastic container on September 8 and labelled with a use-by date of September 11.

Mr Perriman said it could be argued that if September 8 is counted as day one, this actually meant the ham was being used for four days.

In any case, the factory would continue to use the ham as an ingredient right up until the final use-by day.

But Mr Perriman added: “It was then placed into a sandwich and given a further four-day use by date.

“Not only that, the packaging on the final product stated ‘once opened consume within 24 hours’.

He said this practice meant cooked ham with a use-by date of September 10 or 11 was actually being used in a product labelled with a use-by date of September 15 or 16.

“As a result, the three-day shelf life is exceeded by a further six days,” he said adding that this was “way past” safe limits.The company’s website says: “We here at Café Class carefully ensure that the standards of Food Agency are met at all times and any waste is disposed of appropriately.

“All our products are fully cooked but we do not send the food waste to landfill sites, thus helping the environment and fulfilling our responsibility towards the society.”

Uh huh.

Yes Minister: Dozens of people stricken by Salmonella-infected British eggs

Dozens of people have been poisoned after consuming British eggs contaminated with salmonella, an investigation has found, despite recent government assurances that the risk had been virtually eliminated.

Andrew Wasley of The Guardian reports at least 45 consumers have fallen ill since January this year in a major disease outbreak health officials have traced back to contaminated eggs and poultry farms.

Despite outbreaks of this strain occurring for more than three years, the government has issued no public warnings about the safety of hens’ eggs. In 2017, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) told the public that it was safe for vulnerable people, including pregnant women and the elderly to eat raw, runny or soft-boiled eggs. At the time the head of the FSA said: “The risk of salmonella is now so low you needn’t worry.”

Internal records obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian show that 25 egg-laying poultry flocks in the UK have tested positive for salmonella in 2019 so far, seven of them contaminated with the most serious strains of the bacteria. Two egg-packing factories – one that supplies leading supermarkets – have also been contaminated, records show.

Eggs produced by the infected poultry flocks were placed under restrictions, meaning they cannot be sold to the public and must be sent for processing to kill the bacteria or be disposed of – while birds from infected flocks were culled.

However, some contaminated eggs did reach the public, with PHE confirming that 45 people had become ill after eating eggs infected with salmonella since January. The exact route to the public is unclear.

The government records also reveal that in 2018, 28 flocks tested positive for salmonella, four of them with dangerous strains.

According to PHE a further 55 human cases prior to 2019 were also being linked to the outbreak.

The revelations come just two years after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) declared that almost all eggs produced in the UK were free of salmonella. A major health scare in the 1980s had led to warnings that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs – or food containing them – because of the salmonella risk. The then junior health minister Edwina Currie sparked a public outcry after saying “most” British egg production was infected with salmonella.

But in 2017 the FSA lifted the advice, stating the presence of salmonella in eggs had been “dramatically reduced” and that “British Lion” eggs – which cover about 90% of UK egg production – were safe to eat.

Speaking at the time, the then FSA chair Heather Hancock said: “We are now saying if there is a British Lion egg, you’re safe to do that. The risk of salmonella is now so low you needn’t worry. And that’s true whether you’re a fit healthy adult, or whether you’re pregnant or elderly or young. It’s only people on strictly medically supervised diets who need to avoid those eggs.”

PHE stated that it had been investigating this strain of salmonella for three years, despite the FSA clearing eggs for consumption.

The British Retail Consortium said: “Food safety remains a top priority for UK retailers and all UK sourced eggs are produced to the Lion code of practice. Retailers will comprehensively investigate any safety issues in our food supply and will take swift action as necessary.”

Uh-huh.

But we have training and audits: Dirty crates and vans used to deliver food by Asda

Assif Majid of BBC News writes that Watchdog’s reporter was given no training on keeping delivery crates and vans clean.

The reporter witnessed spillages, but was told by senior drivers that there was no need to clear it up during the delivery round.

Asda says it has a “clean as you go” policy and staff get full training.

Both Asda employees and customers have contacted the consumer programme with allegations about the cleanliness of the store’s delivery crates.

One driver told the programme: “There’s no cleaning process in place. The crates are used over and over again, even after spillages. Most, if not all, are dirty, from food, and things like smashed eggs.”

Another driver told the programme they are so concerned about poor hygiene, they are worried about their own family eating food from the crates.

Asda said the findings were “isolated examples and the opinion of individual colleagues”.

It added: “The findings do not reflect the extensive policies and training they have in place, which are supported by independent third party audits.”

The supermarket also says Watchdog’s researcher did not receive the full role-specific training because he didn’t do enough shifts.

Chartered environmental health practitioner Barrie Trevena said: “Even if the food you’re putting in is wrapped, the packages then become contaminated and then when the customer handles the cans and the packages, then that’s going to contaminate their worktop and fridge.”

The company said it delivered almost half a million orders each week, using their totes more than 2.5 million times, and it was inaccurate and misleading to suggest that it did not have policies or training in place at a business level.

Inconceivable.

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.