Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 283 sick from Salmonella in UK lamb

I’ve been in Australia for 7 years now, and while I once thought it was national duty to eat lamb, I could never get over the smell.

So guess we’re safe from the latest Salmonella outbreak linked to lamb in the UK.

Food Standards AgencyFood Standards ScotlandPublic Health England and Health Protection Scotland are reminding people to take care when handling raw meat and to cook it properly.

This comes as we investigate a rise in cases of a particular strain of Salmonella Typhimurium which have been linked to lamb and mutton. We first saw an increase in cases of this particular type of salmonella in July 2017. A number of control measures were put into place which led to a significant decline in cases at the end of that year. A total of 118 cases were reported up until May 2018.

Since June 2018, a further 165 cases have been reported (up to 19 October), which led us to put control measures in place. These haven’t led to the same decline in cases as in 2017 and so we are now reminding the public about how to cook and handle raw meat.

Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, PHE said:

The likely cause of the increased numbers of this specific strain of Salmonella Typhimurium is considered to be meat or cross-contamination with meat from affected sheep.

People can be infected with Salmonella Typhimurium in a number of ways such as not cooking their meat properly, not washing hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, or through cross-contamination with other food, surfaces, and utensils in the kitchen.

Prior to July 2017 only 2 cases of this strain (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism address 1.43.67.992.2703.3225. %) had been detected in England.

Between July 2017 and November 2017, the first increase in this strain was observed with 95 cases reported in England, Scotland and Wales. Control measures were implemented which resulted in a decline in cases.

Numbers of cases were at low levels from December 2017 to June 2018 (23 cases during this period).

In June 2018, the numbers of cases increased again and since June 2018 165 cases have been reported.

There was a death in which salmonella was thought to be a contributory factor related to this outbreak last year, but we are not aware of any deaths related to this strain in 2018

UK Cyclospora shit fest

TTG reports a judge sitting at Manchester county court has ordered the disclosure of all documentary evidence relating to investigations carried out by Public Health England (PHE) surrounding cyclospora — a parasite spread by food contaminated with infected human faeces.

According to The Times, many customers claimed Tui did not tell them the Riviera Maya region of Mexico was subject to a public health warning due to cyclosporiasis before they booked.

This is in spite of 359 of the 440 British cases reported between June and October 2016 “involving travel to Mexico”, it is claimed.

Others customers allege they were handed a warning letter “only after their plane landed”.

440 sickened: Tui faces legal action from 400 people over Mexico sickness

TTG reports a  judge sitting at Manchester county court has ordered the disclosure of all documentary evidence relating to investigations carried out by Public Health England (PHE) surrounding cyclospora — a parasite spread by food contaminated with infected human faeces.

According to The Times, many customers claimed Tui did not tell them the Riviera Maya region of Mexico was subject to a public health warning due to cyclosporiasis before they booked.

This is in spite of 359 of the 440 British cases reported between June and October 2016 “involving travel to Mexico”, it is claimed.

Others customers allege they were handed a warning letter “only after their plane landed”.

8 in UK sick from Salmonella linked to Dr. Zak’s liquid egg white

‘Dr Zak’s Barn Farmed Liquid Egg White’ has been recalled by the UK Food Standards Agency.

Microbiological testing on a number of batches of the product has indicated contamination with Salmonella bacteria of the same strain as the bacteria causing infection in those affected.

Since mid-August 2018, 3 cases of salmonella have been confirmed in those who consumed the product and a further 5 cases remain under investigation.

Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said:

Most of those affected have now recovered. However, Salmonella can cause a serious infection in those with weakened immune systems or in vulnerable groups including babies, the elderly or pregnant women.

We’re aware that the high-protein product may be purchased by people for bodybuilding purposes. Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever.

There are simple steps to stop its spread, including cooking food thoroughly, washing fruit and vegetables and washing your hands after using the bathroom.

It’s oh so simple.

Fairytale.

UK disease detectives: Supermarket loyalty cards to trace an E coli outbreak

Kathie Grant and Lisa Byrne write in Public Health Matters that in November 2017, supermarket loyalty cards were used to trace the source of a large E coli outbreak affecting mainly men in England. Dr Lisa Byrne leads Public Health England’s surveillance of two key bacteria that lead to food poisoning – E Coli and Listeria. Dr Kathie Grant heads the PHE Gastrointestinal Bacteria Reference Laboratory. The two work together as part of a larger team dedicated to reducing foodborne illness and below tell us how they put the pieces of this puzzle together to find the source.

If you’ve ever had food poisoning you’ll know that feeling of mentally going through everything you ate recently, trying to pinpoint what it was that might have made you ill. It’s our job to do that at a national scale.  We bring together lots of different pieces of  information from the community and the lab to try to find  the source of a food poisoning outbreak and then, working alongside other government agencies,  ensure that more people don’t get sick.

We study and monitor many different stomach bugs – some of which you may never have heard of! While stomach bugs are a part of life, PHE works with organisations such as the Food Standards Agency and the Animal and Plant Health Agency to try and prevent them.

Every so often we see a spike in the number of cases.  When this happens it is important that we find the link between the cases and the cause of their illness.  To do this we need to identify the exact strain of a bug to understand if people have got ill from the exact same source.

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) ‒ a relatively new process for showing us the makeup of a bacterium or virus’s genes ‒ has changed the way we can find the cause of an outbreak and stop more people getting ill. You can learn more about the process and how it works in our explainer blog.

Before WGS it could take weeks to identify bacteria and sometimes the bacteria could be missed. This slowed down any investigations  as we could not be sure that all the case histories we were taking could be linked to an outbreak – there was a lot of ‘noise’ and false lines of enquiry. With WGS, we can rapidly and accurately identify if bacteria of cases are the same strain and rule out people from our investigation who just happened to be ill at the same time, but with a different illness.

It has also expanded what the word ‘outbreak’ means as we can link cases across several years and different countries, meaning we can more accurately piece together a picture of how something in the food supply chain impacts human health.

Scientists working in the Gastrointestinal Bacteria reference laboratory at Public Health England. The team are processing samples from people who have reported gastrointestinal symptoms, to understand the exact cause of their illness.

Identifying the source of an outbreak is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, combining multiple pieces of evidence to get the full picture. Sometimes, a common source is obvious, such as when a group of people get ill after eating the same meal, at the same restaurant, on the same day. But other times, we need to use an arsenal of investigative tools, as was the case in a recent E coli outbreak.

In November 2017 our surveillance system alerted us to 12 cases of E coli O157 – (a particular form of E coli), over a six week window. E coliO157 is a relatively rare cause of food poisoning, with only about 700 cases a year, but it can cause a very severe illness. Because of this, any case of E coli O157 identified by doctors and laboratories must be reported to Public Health England.  We monitor the number of cases with our surveillance systems to find any patterns.

Very quickly our reference laboratory used WGS which showed that the cases had the identical genetic “fingerprint” and the work began to trace the source of infection. The majority of people who became ill were men, which was unusual as E coli outbreaks are often linked to salad items ‒ traditionally more likely to be eaten by women.

It took a few rounds of interviews – carried out by colleagues in local authorities – to zero in on the potential source of food poisoning, and a picture started to emerge that implicated burgers from a particular retailer.

We asked the supermarket to analyse the loyalty card records of those who had become ill, to help identify the particular burger product the cases had eaten.  As you can imagine, there were many different types of burgers supplied by the supermarket and it’s often difficult for people to remember exactly what they ate.

Working with the Food Standards Agency we were able to identify that all the cases had bought a particular brand of burger, leading to a product recall to ensure others didn’t get sick. The recall involved removing all the suspected batches of burgers from the supermarket shelves. The supermarket also contacted people who had bought the burgers, advising them not to eat them and return them for a refund.

Sometimes, as in this case, we can rapidly find what is making people ill and quickly remove it from sale. It’s an exciting role and we get a real sense of satisfaction out of using our skills to help people in this way. Other times it can be more frustrating – some outbreaks remain unsolved and it’s a real worry that people will get sick because we can’t eliminate a threat from food distribution.

The role really keeps us on our toes. Our surveillance systems mean that we have a good sense of patterns of illness across the year and how we can intervene to stop people getting unwell – but changes to food habits can catch us by surprise. For instance, raw milk has become more popular recently, bringing with it all the disease risks you would expect from a product that has come straight from a cow without any treatment to kill off bacteria!

In another case, eight people in the UK were affected while on holiday in Germany that was related to seeds.  The seeds were decoratively used as a garnish on salads and were difficult for cases to remember eating. Nearly 1,000 people in Germany got ill in that outbreak and one of the approaches by authorities was to use tourist photos of food to try and identify the common item in meals that could be making people sick.

Solving food borne illness outbreaks can be a real challenge, but by using a variety of the different tools available to us we can quickly intervene to stop people getting ill.

2 children from same UK family die from E. coli

Two children from the same UK family have died after contracting shiga-toxin producing E. coli, health officials have confirmed.

The children, whose ages have not yet been released, were from the Charnwood area of Leicestershire and had been treated for the infection in the last 2 weeks.

Public Health England confirmed the deaths and said it is working with
environmental health officers after 2 cases of hemolytic uremic
syndrome were confirmed in the siblings.

It is not yet known how the children contracted E. coli.

PHE East Midlands said E coli is a relatively rare infection, adding that good hand hygiene and supervised hand hygiene for small children are essential to minimise the risk of developing an infection such as E coli.

Not rare enough for this family and handwashing is never enough.

 

8 sick in UK after eating doner kebabs and pizza contaminated with salmonella at filthy restaurant

Ashley Preece of Birmingham Live writes the brazen owner of a revolting fast-food joint is facing additional jail time – after an outbreak of salmonella led to eight people being struck down with food poisoning, including one who was critical in hospital.

 Muhammed Abdul Moueed Khan, from Walsall , and former owner of Blakenall One Call Peri Peri, has pleaded guilty to six separate offences including selling food unfit for human consumption that included pizzas and doner meat contaminated with salmonella bacteria.

Mr Khan also pleaded guilty to failing to clean and disinfect a doner kebab meat cutter and kitchen utensils appropriately, leading to widespread contamination.

On Thursday, Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard evidence from Walsall Council Environmental Health officers who visited the One Call Peri Peri premises in July 2017 after a number of complaints of alleged food poisoning by members of the public.

As well as formal food samples, swabs were taken from the shop’s donner kebab cutter, chopping board and an electric knife used for cutting chicken.

Samples from a dirty shop sponge were also submitted for laboratory analysis.

Results proved that harmful salmonella bacteria taken from the Blakenall Lane shop and equipment were present in all of the swabs and that the strain of bacteria matched patient and hospital samples.

Egypt says E. coli O157 caused the death of 2 British tourists

Tests showed that E.coli bacteria were behind the death of two British tourists in a hotel in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Hurghada, the country’s chief prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The statement by Prosecutor Nabil Sadek came a week after travel company Thomas Cook said that there was a “high level of e. coli and staphylococcus bacteria” at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel where John and Susan Cooper died Aug. 21 after falling ill in their room in the five-star hotel.

Forensic tests showed that John Cooper, 69, suffered acute intestinal dysentery caused by E.coli, and Susan Cooper, 64, suffered Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), likely because of E .coli, Sadek said.

He said that tests also showed no links between the couples’ death and the spraying of their neighboring room with lambda-cyhalothrin 5 per cent. The insecticide is safe to use, according to the statement.

The couple’s bodies showed “no criminal violence” and other tests showed no toxic or harmful gas emissions or leaks in their room and tests on air and water at the hotel found nothing unusual, the statement said.

There was not an immediate comment from the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel. Thomas Cook meanwhile said it needs time for their own experts to review the prosecutor’s statement.

Staff at UK food place put food gnawed by mice back on shelves

Martin Elvery of Get West London reports that rat droppings hanging from the ceilings of rooms where fruit and vegetables were stored, products being repackaged and sold after being gnawed by mice and a cement mixer allegedly being used to mix marinated chicken are just some of the horrors Ealing’s food safety officers have uncovered over the past year.

The council carries out thorough, regular checks of all premises serving and selling food in the borough which are categorised for their level of risk on a sliding scale of A to E.

Whilst the vast majority – 82% this year – complied fully with food standards, they have had to take swift action to deal with a few. A report summarising them was presented to the council’s general purpose committee on Tuesday, June 26.

When officers visited food store rooms used to keep fruit and vegetables based at a store in The Green, in Southall, they were found to be riddled with rat droppings.

The report states rat and mouse droppings were found throughout at wall and floor junctions, and on high level shelving. They were also found hanging from the ceiling and on the door leading to the rear store room.

Mouse shit kebabs: UK takeaway closed

Tanveer Mann of Metro reports a kebab shop in Manchester was so filthy it had mouse droppings littered in every single room, a court has heard. The droppings were found in food preparation and customer areas at Go Shawarma, in Salford, as well as on the floor, on shelves, old work equipment, next to wrapped food and even alongside cleaning materials. Food waste was piled up inside the shop and rubbish bags outside.
The situation was so grim the manager agreed to close the premises for two days to get on top of the problems, but then refused to be interviewed by council officers about the offence.

The conditions discovered by environtmental health inspectors at the Go Shawarma takeaway in Union Terrace, Salford. Virtually every room had mouse droppings.

Abdulraziq Ahmad, the owner of the takeaway on Bury Old Road, pleaded guilty to failing to adequately control pests, failing to have adequate provision for the disposal of waste and failing to have a documented food safety management system. He was fined a total of £2,250 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and £75 victim surcharge when he appeared at Salford and Manchester magistrates court on June 19.