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.

Because chefs have goggles that can see bacteria: English World Cup team refusing food from Russian room service over poisoning fears, source claims

Team England is reportedly on an even stricter diet than usual at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as players have allegedly been banned from eating food from room service at their Russian hotel (me watching soccer, left, exactly as shown).

The Three Lions stars are “under strict orders to reject any food not approved by their expert chefs,” The Sun is reporting. According to the outlet, security is on “high alert” at the team’s ForRestMix hotel in Repino, Saint Petersburg, given fears surrounding the nerve attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this year.

“Nothing is being left to chance. The players are going to do exactly as told. Nothing will pass their lips apart from food and drink provided by chefs and nutritionists,” a source told The Sun. “If the players are hungry they must contact somebody within the management to get a snack. They can’t just reach into the mini bar or buy something from a shop.”

“These rules are always in place at tournaments because of diets, and there is always a fear of food poisoning which could destroy their performance. But for the World Cup in Russia it is very, very strict,” they added.

But while elite players are snacking on light fare including sushi, oatcakes with cream cheese, and herbal teas, this isn’t the first time that head coach Gareth Southgate has made headlines for cracking down on his player’s diets.

Earlier this year, Southgate coordinated with the Starbucks at the hotel where his team was staying to remove all treats and ban the sale of sugary drinks to his squad ahead of this summer’s World Cup, the Evening Standard reported.

Now that the games have officially begun, nutritionists and chefs have arrived to support the team in Russia, and all precautions are being taken.

“Health inspectors will take food samples and freeze them to look at if something happens,” Tim De’Ath, who has worked as Team England’s head chef for 10 years, told The Sun.

Standard operating procedure for these kind of events, or schools in Japan.

Norovirus that sickened over 200 in 2015 was more than ‘technical difficulties’

A man who barfed in the foyer of Toby’s Carvery at the Exeter Arms, Middlemoor, UK, on the evening of Sunday, March 29, 2015 tested positive for Norovirus.

The restaurant closed, reopened, and then reclosed two days later for “technical difficulties” after at least 100 people subsequently were sickened by noro, including all 24 staff at a local charity, the Cat Protection League, who visited the restaurant for a leaving meal for a deputy manager.

The Mid-Devon Advertiser reports the pub and restaurant, which are owned and run by the brewers Mitchells and Butlers, have applied to the court to have the case dismissed and have commissioned their own specialist reports.

Mitchells and Butlers, which is based at Fleet Street, Birmingham, runs 1,784 pubs and restaurants all over Britain including the Toby Carvery, All Bar One, Browns, and Harvester chains.

They are accused of a single offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act of failing to ensure the safety of customers at the Toby Carvery in Exeter between March 28 and April 8, 2015.

The charge specifies that they ’failed to conduct an undertaking in such a way as to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment who may have been affected thereby, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety’.

Mr John Cooper, QC, defending, asked that the company should not be asked to enter a plea until a special hearing on their application to dismiss the case had been heard.

He said they also intend to argue that the case is an abuse of process.

Mr Simon Morgan, prosecuting on behalf of Exeter City Council, said they plan to serve more expert evidence in the next few weeks.

Stop scamming in Spain: Crackdown on British tourists’ phony food poisoning

The British Ministry of Justice has announced new rules to stop British holidaymakers in Spain from scamming tour operators with fake food poisoning claims.

Under the crackdown, a limit will be set on the legal costs that can be claimed in overseas package travel claims. This will stop claims management companies from seeking legal costs that are out of proportion to the damages sought – a loophole that has often pushed tour operators to settle out of court.

In a press release, the Ministry of Justice said the change “would mean tour operators would pay prescribed costs depending on the value of the claim and length of proceedings, making defense costs predictable and assisting tour operators to challenge bogus claims.”

According to court documents, phony food poisoning claims may have cheated Spanish hotels out of as much as €60 million since 2014. The scam took off in the summer of 2016, with one hotel chain receiving 273 claims requesting compensation for 700 people.

The scam was simple enough. The tourist buys a travel package with any travel agent and stays at a Spanish hotel that includes all meals in the price. Back in Britain after the vacation, the tourist uses a claims-management company to file a complaint against the company that organized the trip, alleging that the hotel meals made him/her ill.

Current British consumer laws barely require the claimant to produce any evidence. No doctor’s report is necessary, and claims may be filed up to three years after the event.

Since it is hard to prove that the client did not get sick, and faced with high legal fees if the case goes to court, the tour operator accepts the claim, then pass on the cost to the Spanish hotels as per their contract, in which the latter accept responsibility for all damages.

In 2017, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested seven British nationals for their involvement in the scam.

According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the number of claims jumped from 5,000 in 2013 to 35,000 in 2016 – an increase of 500%.

“Claiming compensation for being sick on holiday, when you haven’t been, is fraud,” said Justice Minister Rory Stewart. “This behavior also tarnishes the reputation of British people abroad. That is why we are introducing measures to crack down on those who engage in this dishonest practice.”

The Ministry of Justice says the new rules will come into effect shortly – well before summer begins.

In early April, a young couple who demanded compensation after claiming they fell ill on holidays were caught out thanks to their social media photos.

Chelsea Devine, 21, and Jamie Melling, 22, from Liverpool in the UK, went on a 10-day all-inclusive holiday to Benidorm, Spain in September 2015.

The holiday was booked with travel and tourism company TUI, and they stayed at the Levante Beach Apartments during their trip.

In May 2016, the couple both claimed they had contracted serious food poisoning from food and drinks consumed during their stay, and each demanded $4500 in compensation from TUI.

The pair claimed they were seriously ill during their holiday, and that the sickness lasted for weeks.

However, Liverpool County Court heard their social media accounts revealed a variety of happy, poolside selfies, which caused judge Sally Hatfield QC to brand them both as “fundamentally dishonest”.

They recently received a record fine of more than $27,000 for their fraudulent claim.

According to The Sun, Recorder Sally Hatfield QC said there was no evidence the pair had been ill during their trip.

In October 2017, UK couple Deborah Briton, 53, and Paul Roberts, 43, were jailed for making fake holiday sickness claims in a landmark case.