500 now sick from Royal Caribbean Norovirus cruise sickness

Hi, my name is Doug.

I’m married and not looking for anything like that.

I like smart women, long walks on the beach (with Ted the Wonder Dog — that’s him about 5:30 a.m. on Yaroomba Beach with me — and Amy and Sorenne, which I’ve been doing the last four days), and have never been on a cruise.

That Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise has now sickened about 500 with Norovirus, up from 277 last week.

All the passengers will be offered a refund as a result of the outbreak, Royal Caribbean has said.

This is an unusual move on the part of Royal Caribbean. Costs for the seven-night Western Caribbean voyage on the Oasis of the Seas start at $626 (£487) per person before taxes and fees for an interior stateroom.

Cruise companies are not under obligation to provide a refund in such situations as this.

“Cruise lines look at this sort of thing on a case by case basis and how disruptive this was to passengers,” Colleen McDaniel, executive editor at Cruise Critic, told Market Watch.

Raw milk convention goerers got sick from raw milk

Katie Burns of JAVMA News writes, what could be more wholesome than chocolate milk from an Amish farm?

In November 2015, the International Raw Milk Symposium in Anaheim, California, brought in unpasteurized chocolate milk from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania. The sale of raw milk is legal in California and Pennsylvania, but the interstate sale of raw milk is illegal. Authorities embargoed the chocolate milk and sent a sample to the Food and Drug Administration—turning up Listeria.

An investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments found that Listeria isolates from the milk seized at the symposium were related to isolates obtained from two people in 2014. One person in California had been hospitalized and the other, a cancer patient in Florida, had died.

The investigation revealed some of the risks of raw milk and some of the complexities of buyers’ clubs, which can be so secretive as to involve drop points and burner phones for temporary use. The AVMA supports laws requiring pasteurization of all milk, but unpasteurized milk has a devoted following despite the safety concerns and varying legality among states.

48 sick: Raw is risky: Icelandic oysters cause noro at top notch restaurant

There’s nothing like people forking over huge coin only to end up barfing.

Irony is sometimes ironic.

The Iceland Monitor reports infected Icelandic oysters caused food poisoning for 48 individuals at Skelfisksmarkaðurinn, a relatively new restaurant owned by succcessful tv chef and restaurant owner Hrefna Sætran. Icelandic oysters are a novelty in Iceland as all oysters on menus until now have been imported from Ireland or other countries. 

The oysters were imported as youngsters and raised in Skjálfandaflói bay by company Víkurskel. This is the first time that the noro virus is confirmed in oysters in Iceland. 

Forty-four individuals ate oysters at the restaurant from November 8th to November 13th and four further individuals ate oysters between October 29th and November 4th. Oysters infected by the noro virus were on the menu during this period of time, confirms the Icelandid food and veterinary authority. According to the health authorities they found that the restaurant complied to all regulations and standards with regards to food safety and hygiene. 


‘I look just like Mary Tyler Moore’ Now the Germans are copying us

Regarding peer-reviewed papers about cooking shows and food safety and something about integrity: There’s a lot of hucksters out there – especially in academia.

I’ve articulated where the idea came from (my father), how we set out to do the research in 2002, how the Canadian Food Network loved us and then threatened to sue us.

I’m, uh, unaffiliated, so sue away.

The rest of youse are posers, but at least the Germans cited us.

Which sorta freaks me out, given that my infant father had his surrounding landscape bombed away in Newport, Wales, in 1940 (some of my relatives may have owned the Red Lion, no one really wants to talk about it).

Since a few years, cooking shows have enjoyed great popularity in Germany. Currently, about 60 different formats are broadcasted on German television. In the field of food preparation and nutrition, they represent a significant passive source of information. This study aims to assess food safety practices in German TV cooking shows and to identify potential differences between professional and amateur chefs.

With the help of an observational sheet, three trained evaluators examined 100 episodes of eight popular TV cooking shows. On average, the evaluators observed 1.2 hygiene mistakes per minute or one hygiene lapse every 50 seconds. The most common mistakes include the use of unwashed cutting boards, adding ingredients with unwashed hands and wiping dirty hands with tea towels.

A lack of handwashing before beginning food preparation and after coughing, sneezing, wiping the nose or sweat or touching their hair, eyes, etc. was also frequently observed. No significant differences between professional and amateur chefs were found for the overall frequency of food safety mistakes, but professional chefs more often complied with specific personal hygiene measures.

Findings suggest that little attention is paid to safe food handling practices in German TV cooking shows. However, they may be particularly suited to convey safe food handling practices to a broad audience, not least because of their popularity.



Food safety behavior observed in German TV cooking shows


Food Control https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.09.017

JasminGeppert, Sarah SchulzeStruchtrup, RainerStamminger, ClaudiaHaarhoff, VolkerEbert, SeverineKoch, MarkLohmann, Gaby-FleurBöl


Across the Sea, Fat Duck flails

The Fat Duck fiasco reached public ears on Feb. 24, 2009, the day celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal decided that because of his “moral feeling” about 40 sick customers, he best close shop, even though he was losing a lot of money and maybe it wasn’t necessary.

By March 3, 2009, chef Heston declared tests  ruled out food poisoning after up to 40 customers reported feeling unwell and that,

“It has been awful. We have done our own food testing for the last four years. Everything is tested from the food coming out of the ground, from the farm into the kitchen and to the customer.

"When we started getting telephone calls we took it very seriously. … We’ve had staff tested, some customers tested and so far it is categorically not food poisoning. We are now looking at the possibility of an airborne virus. This could have come from a customer, a staff member not showing symptoms or from outside the restaurant. A customer called me to say they came in with a table of four, three of them got ill, but then their children got ill so they are convinced it is a virus."

At the time I wrote that a lack of positive test results proves nothing. Chapman and I e-mailed each other about the pitfalls of armchair epidemiology. Oh, and I’d be interested to know the nature of those tests for everything. Testing is one of those words that is supposed to make folks sound like they are on top of things – Maple Leaf does thousands of tests – but it’s sorta meaningless in the absence of a protocol.

Today the Fat Duck remains closed. The number of sick is now estimated at 400. The Independent reported yesterday that more than 1,000 people face medical checks after health officials widened their investigation into the Fat Duck illness. And the story has gone international.

The New York Times reports this morning that Britain’s Health Protection Agency is testing the food, testing the people who had become ill and conducting a “risk assessment of all food storage, preparation and cooking processes.” It is testing for bacteria, viruses, patterns in the sick people’s symptoms and in the food they ate and, for good measure, testing other diners, whether or not they got sick.

“… Mr. Blumenthal is perhaps best known for items like snail porridge and “nitro-scrambled egg and bacon ice cream” (served with tea jelly).

His Sound of the Sea dish includes seafood, foam and what some reviewers have called “edible sand.” It is served alongside a conch shell with an iPod in it, so diners can listen to wave and seagull sounds as they eat.

And the individual stories are emerging. Boxing promoter Frank Warren was one of 400 diners who fell ill after dining at the Fat Duck, and said he was "very disappointed" with his treatment after becoming sick following his visit.

"Everything was fabulous about the evening – the food, the setting, the service, it was unbelievably good but unfortunately, afterwards, all of us were ill. … Since then we have not heard anything from the restaurant at all. I am very disappointed and I know that the people I went with are very disappointed with the feedback."

As I’ve already written, check out the staff. And handwashing facilities. And suppliers. And places chefs rarely think to go when it comes to basic microbiology, from farm-to-fork.

And what a fab excuse for a Weezer video, Across the Sea.