Raw is risky: Grapes pressed with infected mice caused tularemia outbreak at German winery

The consumption of grape must from fruit that had been accidentally pressed with infected mice appeared to be the cause of a small 2016 outbreak of oropharyngeal tularemia at a winery in Germany, investigators reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Animals — primarily hares, rabbits and rodents — often die in large numbers during outbreaks of tularemia, according to the CDC. Humans can become infected several ways, including through tick and deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals or drinking contaminated water.

Six grape harvesters at a Rhineland-Palatinate winery were likely infected when they drank contaminated grape must, a juice containing seeds, stems and the skin of grapes, investigators said.

According to the report, the harvesters — two women and four men — suffered from symptoms of tularemia, including swollen cervical lymph nodes, fever, chills, difficulty swallowing and diarrhea. They tested positive for Francisellatularensis, the bacterium that causes tularemia.

The investigators discovered that wine made at another winery from grapes harvested by the same mechanical harvester used at the winery involved in the outbreak also tested positive, “a finding that suggests that the harvester was the source of cross-contamination,” the investigators wrote. They said vintners confirmed that mice were occasionally collected by the harvesters, along with grapes.

“This outbreak suggests that mechanical harvesting can be a risk factor for the transmission of zoonoses such as tularemia and that raw food stuffs should be treated before consumption,” they wrote. “All contaminated products were confiscated and their sale prohibited by public health and other local authorities.”

“Le Marathon Des Chateaux Du Medoc” has over 20 wine stops on the course

We were only in the Bordeaux region briefly.

It wasn’t like we recorded Exile on Main Street (although we did some decent writing).

But friends of Amy’s had taken us from the train station to Moubisson, and two weeks later picked us up, but only after a luxiourous lunch in Bordeaux, at their vineyard (I got excited because I got the Internet to work and downloaded and sent two weeks of Internet stuff).

Rebecca Fishbein of Bustle writes the world’s longest boozy race Bordeaux is in which participants are supposed to pair running with 23 glasses of Bordeaux wine. That seems … not what marathons are intended for, but it certainly sounds more pleasant than pairing running with protein gels and chafed nipples, so.

Apparently, the Marathon du Médoc is an age-old tradition, dating all the way back to, um, 1985. Every September, thousands of people from all over the world descend upon Bordeaux to take part in the race, which is essentially the opposite of a regular marathon. According to the Guardian, participants dress in costume instead of JackRabbit gear, which means attendees might show up as sexy policemen, Smurfs, zombies, or zebras; they wind through beautiful vineyards and chateaus, where they stop for wine, cheese, waffles, fruits and oysters, which cannot possibly be conducive foods for exercise; there is at least one steak break, and, of course, there are the aforementioned 23 glasses of wine. The race takes about six and a half hours, and unlike real marathon races, participants are encouraged to take that time, and not actually speed through it all. But even without a sprint, the race does lead to some, uh, interestingmoments, like this one in the Guardian:

Plodding along in my own merry way, I’m quite oblivious to the mileage we’re getting through. It’s Birdy who breaks into a spontaneous, projectile vomit around 18 miles (29km), necessitating another Imodium tablet. “Too late,” he shouts, seconds later, running off at a speed we could have done with a while back towards the nearest chemical toilet.


Happy cows come from British Columbia, too

I like having a glass of wine with my dinner every now and then. It tastes good and they say it’s good for you, so I don’t even have to feel guilty about it.

Apparently, a group of farmers in British Columbia think the health benefits also apply to cattle. The idea is a variation of the Kobe beef, where cattle are fed beer. Unlike Kobe beef, the wine is not fed every day.

“It’s during the final 90 days leading up to their slaughter that they are fed red wine supplied by a number of wineries in the Okanagan Valley.”

The final product is sweeter-tasting meat that is supposedly more tender. Plus, the cows get to die buzzed.

I wonder, if they did this with dairy cows, would wine and cheese parties become obsolete?

Science says: wine-in-a-box OK

That’s a relief. I love my vino in a box, or from a box. In Maubisson, France, I’d bike to the store, and the dude would fill up a 2 litre bottle with Bordeaux from a box. Awesome.

Gary J. Pickering, senior author of a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that for some reason the researchers can’t explain, wines stored in Tetra Pak-brand cartons had the lowest levels of unwanted chemicals, called methoxypyrazines.

One possibility, Pickering said, is that the chemicals escape through the carton’s innermost layer, made of polyethylene, and then attach to an adjacent layer made of aluminum foil.

The best storage method for preventing that problem, the study found, was a bottle sealed with a screw-cap – which, like the cardboard carton, has some connoisseurs wrinkling their refined noses.

‘I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a lobotomy

Some new New York restaurant is going to offer wine and beer in baby bottles to diners.

The New York Times described the impending birth of La Cave des Fondus, an underground crib at Prince and Elizabeth Streets, as “a faithful homage to the Montmartre restaurant Le Refuge des Fondus, where Parisians enthusiastically suck down the house red and white."

The owner of the Manhatten playpen said,

“I wanted to set up my place exactly like the one in Paris. It’s such a fun place. Everybody loves drinking beer and wine from baby bottles – even my father thought it was fun – and I think New Yorkers will like it too. I checked with the health department and as long as we put the bottles in the dishwasher they have no problem with it.”

Shouldn’t these geniuses be figuring out a way to deliver beer and wine through the breast? Everyone knows breastfeeding is best for babies.

NZ cafe served dishwashing liquid instead of wine

Two women were hospitalised after a New Zealand cafe mistakenly served dishwashing liquid as mulled wine.

The Southland Times newspaper reported that Chico’s Restaurant Ltd in the mountain resort of Queenstown on South Island pleaded guilty to a charge of selling food containing extraneous matter — the chemical sodium hydroxide — that caused injury.

An investigation showed the two liquids had been mixed up after 20 litres of dishwashing liquid was delivered in a container formerly used to hold Mountain Thunder mulled wine.

Under New Zealand’s no-fault accident law, victims do not sue for damages. Instead, treatment costs and income loss are met by the nation’s Accident Compensation scheme.

The company will be sentenced next month and faces a possible fine.

Suzanne Schreck, guest barfblogger: Wine protects against nasty bugs

My favorite meal includes a New York strip steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes, salad, and a glass of cabernet. 

In recent months, media reports on new research being conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia have indicated that that glass of cabernet may effectively kill bacterial pathogens that have found their way into my meal, making it safer.  Just this weekend WTAE TV in Pittsburgh reported on the results of this research: 

The neat thing about the study is that it doesn’t seem to matter about the price. It’s all in the color of the wine: red.

Researchers said cabernet, pinot noir and merlot have the right stuff to protect against Salmonella typhimurium, H.pylori and the potentially fatal Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli.

After reading this report, one might conclude that eating raw cookie dough is OK as long as it’s followed by a glass of red wine.  But what do the researchers really have to say? 

Azlin Mustapha and Atreyee Das were interviewed by Abraham Mahshie for an article in the Columbia Tribune.  In the interview, Das said, “Sixty percent [concentration] wine is enough to kill bacteria,” but that concentration was reached in a controlled environment in a test tube in a lab – not in the human gut, which is where consumers might seek practical application of this new knowledge.

Lead researcher Mustapha told the Tribune, “I would not recommend that people go out and consume wine in excess.”  But how does this research really apply to the average person’s wine consumption?  Early reporting on the findings may give us false hope that one, two, even three glasses of red wine with dinner might make eating a rare hamburger safe.

Mustapha and Das anticipate two to three years of additional research on the subject.  When their study is published, maybe they’ll be able to tell me how much cabernet I have to drink to kill the pathogens on my steak, asparagus, and mashed potatoes.  Until then, I’ll rely on the system, from farm to fork, to keep the pathogens off my plate to begin with.

Suzanne Schreck is the communications director of Marler Clark.  Since joining Marler Clark in 2002, Ms. Schreck has managed the firm’s media relations and on-line presence, including the firm’s websites and blogs.