CEO draws link between food safety, worker treatment

There’s a strong link between food safety and how a company’s employees are treated, according to the CEO of a major baked goods company. who play a critical role in handling food products often aren’t paid much or given opportunities for advancement, said Paula Marshall, CEO of the Bama Companies.

“There’s a problem, in my mind, with that model,” said Marshall, who delivered a keynote address this week at the Northwest Food Processors Association’s annual conference in Portland.

Farmers and food manufacturers face a threat from employees who simply don’t care about the final product or even hold a grudge against the company, she said.

To get workers committed to food safety, companies must show them respect — not only with better pay, but with opportunities for training and education that allow them to rise in the corporation, Marshall said.

Wash hands, sick (and non-sick?) workers stay home: 278 sickened in Norovirus outbreak at Shanghai boarding school, 2012

Researchers conclude in BMC Public Health that this Norovirus outbreak could be limited by good hygiene, daily disinfection and “excluding asymptomatic food handlers from food preparation.”

NorochickI’m not sure how that would work, but based on fecal swabs, nine were Norovirus-positive in asymptomatic food preparers.

Here’s the abstract:

More than 200 students and teachers at a boarding school in Shanghai developed acute gastroenteritis in December, 2012. The transmission mode remained largely unknown.
An immediate epidemiological investigation was conducted to identify it.

Methods: Using a retrospective cohort design, we investigated demographic characteristics, school environment, and previous contacts with people who had diarrhea and/or vomiting, drinking water conditions, recalls of food consumption in the school cafeteria, hand-washing habits and eating habits. Rectal swabs of the new cases and food handlers as well as water and food samples were collected to test potential bacteria and viruses. Norovirus was detected by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Results: A total of 278 cases developed gastrointestinal symptoms in this outbreak, and the overall attack rate was 13.9%. The main symptoms included vomiting (50.0%), abdominal cramps (40.3%), nausea (27.0%), diarrhea (6.8%) and fever (6.8%).
Twenty rectal swab samples were detected as Norovirus-positive, including 11 from student cases and 9 from asymptomatic food handlers (non-cases). Among environmental surface samples from the kitchen, 8 samples were also detected as Norovirus-positive.
The genotypes of viral strains were the same (GII) in patients, asymptomatic food handlers and environmental surfaces. Other samples, including rectal swabs, water samples and food samples were negative for any bacteria and other tested viruses.
Asymptomatic food handlers may have contaminated the cooked food during the food preparation.

Conclusion: The study detected that the outbreak was caused by Norovirus and should be controlled by thorough disinfection and excluding asymptomatic food handlers from food preparation. Early identification of the predominant mode of transmission in this outbreak was necessary to prevent new cases.
Furthermore, good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and efficient daily disinfection should be promoted to prevent such infection and outbreaks.

Author: Caoyi XueYifei FuWeiping ZhuYi FeiLinying ZhuHong ZhangLifeng PanHongmei XuYong WangWenqin WangQiao Sun

Credits/Source: BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1092

Norovirus intervention after outbreak linked to ill food service worker

It would have been easy to send Sorenne to school about 14 hours after she last barfed on Thursday; but I know the guidelines call for somewhere around 48 hours after the last barf (not 24, like some of the teachers tell me).

So Sorenne stayed home.

It probably helped reduce the flow of norovirus in the school. But those kinds of wins are difficult to count – no one got sick.

What’s far more common is when people do get sick. Those are easy to count.

The Minnesota Department of Health concluded an ill or recently ill food service worker or workers were the source of a norovirus outbreak that sickened between 30 and 40 people who ate at Mankato civic center events.

More than 50 people reported being sick following a Greater Mankato Growth banquet on Nov. 13 attended by more than 460 people. The health department also received reports from people who contracted the illness after attending a civic center event for veterans on Nov. 14.

The owner of the catering business, Najwa Massad, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

A health spokesperson said that, following the outbreak, Department of Health officials conducted an “intervention” with the food service provider that included reminders of protocols to follow when employees become ill.

“We reviewed procedures so that they make sure that, for example, if they have any ill food workers, or anyone who appears to be ill, they need to screen all their food services workers,” Schultz said. “With norovirus, our recommendation is that a food service worker not work for 72 hours after it’s gone.”

Schultz said anyone who has contracted norovirus should avoid preparing food for up to two weeks and wash hands regularly and thoroughly, up to three minutes.

Worker cooked to death in steamer

A 62-year-old employee was cooked to death at a Southern California seafood plant, US authorities say.

The Whittier Daily News reported Jose Melena was found shortly before 7 am on Thursday at the Bumble Bee Foods plant in Santa Fe Springs.

Spokeswoman for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Erika Monterroza, said it was unclear how the man ended up inside a cooking device called a “steamer machine.”

The state agency has launched an investigation.

Bumble Bee Foods spokesman Pat Menke expressed condolences to Melena’s family in a written statement.

Menke said operations at the canning facility will be suspended until Monday.

Don’t let parrotheads or infected workers serve margaritas; 14 sickened with norovirus after cocktails at Vegas restaurant

On October 18, 2011, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), Office of Epidemiology received reports of gastrointestinal illness from two independent groups of patrons of Restaurant A located in Las Vegas. People from both groups ate during dinner hours at the restaurant on October 14, 2011. Of the eight people from the two groups, seven reported symptoms of diarrhea and/or vomiting after they consumed food from Restaurant A.

In response to these illness reports, the SNHD initiated an investigation. symptoms, and identical norovirus (NoV) genetic sequences were detected from ill persons of two independent dining parties. No ill person was hospitalized, and no death occurred.

NoV can spread via direct contact with NoV?containing fecal matter or aerosolized vomitus, or by indirect contact with them via environmental surfaces. The high propensity of NoV for person?to?person spread might explain illnesses among primary?cases and their household contacts. The outbreak appeared to have been confined to Restaurant A and did not spread to the general community.

Ice water and margaritas were significantly more likely to be consumed among primary cases when compared to controls diners, and were consumed by nearly all primary?case diners.

Drinking water or ice contaminated with NoV has resulted in outbreaks in food?service settings. However, the contamination of frequently served food items such as water and ice (also a main ingredient for margarita) in a high?volume restaurant would have resulted in numerous diners becoming ill, and cannot explain the relatively small number of diners who complained of illness after eating at Restaurant A on and after October 14. An alternative explanation may be that infected staff member(s) might have contaminated the food prior to serving them to customers.

The low inoculums (≥18 viral particles) required for transmission of NoV, and prolonged period of fecal shedding of the virus can enable infected food handlers to contaminate food products . Additionally, the majority of interviewed staff at Restaurant A admitted to pouring and serving drinks, and frequently placing garnishes (e.g. lemons, limes, and other fruits) into beverages prior to serving them to customers. Coupled with EH observations that employees handled ready?to?eat food using bare hands, the contamination of beverages with NoV could have occurred via infected worker(s) using bare hands to dispense or garnish beverages. Minimizing bare hand contact with ready?to?eat food is recommended as a mean of interrupting disease transmission. Workers whose job duties include preparing food and beverages must minimize bare hand contact with ready?to?eat food, including items used as garnishes for food and drinks.

Abstract below:
We describe an investigation of an outbreak of norovirus infection at a restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada that was suspected to be associated with restaurant staff using bare hands to place garnishes into beverages. We conducted a case?control study and surveillance for additional illnesses, performed inspections of the restaurant, and collected stool specimens to test for norovirus. Eight ill restaurant patrons and 23 control subjects were interviewed.
Univariate analysis showed several food items were associated with illness, but only ice water and margarita were consumed by members of all affected dining groups. Four stool specimens were positive for norovirus by real?time reverse transcriptase?polymerase chain reaction, with all four sequenced specimens being identical and closely related to norovirus strain GII.4J Apeldorn NLD07. To prevent such outbreaks, restaurant workers whose job duties include
preparing food and beverages must minimize bare hand contact with ready?to?eat food, including items used as garnishes for food and drinks.


Epidémie à shigella en belgique liée à un membre du personnel d’une cafétéria

Qu’est-ce que Shigella ?

• Shigella est une bactérie qui va d’une personne à l’autre via une contamination transmise par la voie fécale-orale (ce qui signifie la présence de selles dans les aliments, sur les mains ou sur les surfaces).
• Les symptômes habituels peuvent comprendre du sang et du mucus dans des selles fréquentes (diarrhée), souvent appelée dysenterie.
• Si une personne est malade, elle peut transmettre Shigella aux autres personnes longtemps après que les symptômes ne soient plus présents.
• Shigella peut être transmis même si la personne ne montre pas de symptômes.

Les manipulateurs d’aliments peuvent transmettre Shigella dans leurs selles sans même montrer de symptômes

52 cas de shigellose liés à un manipulateur d’aliments sur une période de 2 mois

Que pouvez-vous faire ?
• Si vous êtes malade avec des vomissements, de la nausée ou une diarrhée, ne manipulez pas d’aliments ;
• Les manipulateurs d’aliments doivent se laver les mains avant de préparer les aliments et après passage aux toilettes.
• Les étapes du lavage des mains comprennent :
mouiller les mains, appliquer du savon, frotter les mains, les rincer et se sécher les mains avec un essuie-mains à usage unique.

Une récente étude parue dans Epidemiology and Infection a rapporté une épidémie de shigellose liée à la consommation dans une cafétéria belge. Les enquêteurs ont examiné les situations possibles conduisant à la maladie, analysé les aliments et réalisé des prélèvements de selles du personnel. Après analyse des prélèvements et après enquête auprès du personnel de maladie et de voyage récent, un membre du personnel a été identifié comme la source de l’épidémie.

Les enquêteurs ont découvert que le manipulateur d’aliments impliqué s’était rendu au Maroc peu de temps avant que des cas de maladies aient commencé à apparaître chez les clients. Ce membre du personnel est revenu travailler après le voyage et ne présentait pas de symptômes de la maladie. Seuls 13 des 52 cas signalés ont été confirmés par coproculture. Sept de ces cas ont été découverts avec la même souche de la maladie comme cela a été vu au Maroc au même moment.

Pour plus d’information contactez Ben Chapman, ou Doug Powell,

Brote de Shigella 
en una cafetería en Bélgica causado por un empleado

Traducido por Gonzalo Erdozain
Resumen del folleto informativo mas reciente:
– 52 casos de shigelosis conectados a un trabajador en un periodo de 2 meses.
– Preparadores de alimentos pueden transmitir Shigella 
sin tener síntomas de enfermedad.
– Si esta enfermo, y sus síntomas incluyen nausea, vomito o diarrea, no prepare alimentos.
– Preparadores de alimentos deben lavarse las manos antes de preparar/cocinar alimentos, y luego de ir al baño.
Los folletos informativos son creados semanalmente y puestos en restaurantes, tiendas y granjas, y son usados para entrenar y educar a través del mundo. Si usted quiere proponer un tema o mandar fotos para los folletos, contacte a Ben Chapman a
Puede seguir las historias de los folletos informativos y barfblog en twitter
@benjaminchapman y @barfblog.

Food worker delivers Morocco strain of shigella; sickens 52 in a Belgian cafeteria

On Nov. 13, 2009, a Belgian physician notified authorities about an apparent cluster of Shigella sonnei; ultimately, 52 cases were identified over two months, and most were linked to a canteen in a public institution building. Best guess is that a food handler who travelled to Morocco shortly before detection of the first laboratory-confirmed case, picked up shigella, and then transmitted it through food.

The details can be found in the current issue of Epidemiology and Infection, where researchers report on a matched case-control study to test an association between shigellosis and canteen-food consumption.

The three food handlers working permanently in the canteen responded to the questionnaire. Food handler A travelled to Turkey from 23 September to
4 October 2009. She started working on 7 October. She prepared sandwiches, washed dishes and served food. She fell ill on 20 October, and had been exposed to canteen food during the 4 days prior to disease onset. Food handler B travelled to Morocco from 23 September to 1 October. This person started working on 4 October and was involved in vegetable washing, preparation of hot meals, sandwiches, cold dishes involving vegetables and cleaning the canteen. He did not declare having fallen sick. Food handler C was also involved in all activities except in hot meal preparation. He had not travelled, been absent or fallen sick.

Of the 52 shigella cases found in 708 employees of a public institution in Flemish Brabant province, Belgium, between September and November 2009, seven cases were confirmed as S. sonnei. There was a common PFGE profile which resembled those from archived specimens from Morocco. Cases of
shigellosis were associated with canteen-food consumption.

Investigators worked with three hypotheses: (i) waterborne transmission through a contaminated water dispenser, (ii) person-to-person transmission or via surfaces (toilets), or (iii) foodborne transmission (through previously contaminated food or during the preparation process by a contaminated food handler).

Foodborne transmission through canteen food is supported by the results of the employee survey and by the matched case-control study. This led us to think that a food handler might have been the source of the outbreak. Food handler B returned from Morocco shortly before the appearance of the first confirmed cases. He did not report any symptoms and worked continuously since his return.

Foodborne transmission might have happened had he been an asymptomatic case. Healthy carriers can shed 102 Shigella c.f.u./g of feces during 1 month.
Thus, food handler B could have unintentionally acted as an intermittent source of food contamination during the period of faecal shedding. Conversely, food handler A, who had travelled to Turkey, could not be the source of the outbreak, since her onset of disease happened after the onset of symptoms of some confirmed cases.

The researchers recommend:
• washing hands with soap and water before eating and after defecation for employees and food handlers;
• preventing sick food handlers from working until full recovery or until negative fecal culture in the case of laboratory confirmation;
• maintaining surveillance of further possible cases of shigellosis through the institution’s prevention service; and,
• collecting information on the workplace when interviewing notifiable cases in order to detect infectious disease clusters early.

Shigellosis outbreak linked to canteen-food consumption in a public institution: a matched case-control study
Epidemiology and Infection
I. Gutiérrez Garitano, M. Naranjo, A. Forier, R. Hendriks, K. De Schrijver, S. Bertrand, K. Dierick, E. Robesyn, and S. Quoilin
On 13 November 2009, the authorities of Flemish Brabant, Belgium, received an alert concerning a potential outbreak of Shigella sonnei at a public institution. A study was conducted to assess the extent, discover the source and to implement further measures. We performed a matched case-control study to test an association between shigellosis and canteen-food consumption. Water samples and food handlers’ faecal samples were tested. The reference laboratory characterized the retrospectively collected Shigella specimens. We found 52 cases distributed over space (25/35 departments) and time (2 months). We found a matched odds ratio of 3·84 (95% confidence interval 1·02–14·44) for canteen-food consumption. A food handler had travelled to Morocco shortly before detection of the first laboratory-confirmed case. Water samples and food handlers’ faecal samples tested negative for Shigella. Confirmed cases presented PFGE profiles, highly similar to archived isolates from Morocco. Foodborne transmission associated with the canteen was strongly suspected.

How not to handle foodborne illness: ‘put an adult diaper and get back to work’

Food service employees working while sick is a recurring theme in restaurant-related outbreaks.

Add this scenario:

An outbreak of diarrhea has decimated the staff of a Tex-Mex restaurant and Godfrey the manager, is on the phone imploring a staff member to come in anyway, even if that means wearing an adult diaper.

“Astronauts wear them. Do you think you’re better than an astronaut?”

The scene is from an upcoming Canadian movie called Servitude, and like the best comedy, has an element of truth.

Godrey is being played by Kids in the Hall/News Radio alumnus, Dave Foley. He’s one of the French fur trappers in the bit below.

Food service workers show up when sick; excuse me while I barf

A new report says more than 60 per cent of restaurant employees choose to show up for work instead of staying home when they’re sick because they have no insurance and no paid sick time.

Kim Severson of the New York Times writes the report, called “Serving While Sick,” is based on more than 4,000 surveys and hundreds of interviews with employers and employees. It is intended to put pressure on the restaurant industry to improve conditions for its workers. The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is one of two groups presenting the report at a Congressional briefing today.