Michigan Tough Mudder race organizers share info about avoiding illnesses

Over the past 6 months I’ve been running a few times a week as a way to get some decent exercise while I try to get to a more healthy weight.

Not an activity that I liked until I was about 30, I do most of my running on treadmills while I watch sports and listen to podcasts. There are a few guys on my hockey team who have taken up endurance mud running as a way to work off the chicken sandwiches and beer we consume every Monday night. A couple of them ran the Tough Mudder in South Carolina a couple of years ago and are trying to talk me into joining them in the spring. Not sure I’m into it.TMSplash

From the organizer’s website, “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. Triathlons, marathons, and other lame-ass mud runs are more stressful than fun. Not Tough Mudder. As hardcore as our courses are, we meet you at the finish line with a beer, a laugh, and a rockin’ live band.”

The site lists a set of obstacles with names like Arctic Enema, Dirty Ballerina and Kiss of Mud.

The races have a history of testing more than physical and mental toughness – they have been linked to multiple pathogen outbreaks.

A 2012 Tough Mudder in Scotland was linked to at least three cases of E. coli O157.  Last year a Michigan event recent was linked to norovirus.

According to Mlive, the organizers of this weekend’s Michigan event are addressing pathogen concerns.

Tough Mudder officials want to remind anyone planning to compete or attend this year’s event to practice good hygiene before and after attending.

“Illnesses of this nature are extremely rare. More than 1.5 million Mudders have run a Tough Mudder course; this issue is highly isolated,” said Ben Johnson, a spokesperson for Tough Mudder, via email. “However, safety is our No. 1 priority, and we encourage all participants, spectators, and volunteers to take the following preventative measures:

- It is important to not attend the event if you are feeling ill. We can provide a transfer to a future event.

- Practice good hygiene before and after the event:

Stay home for at least 48 hours after symptoms disappear.

Use chlorine-bleach based household cleaners to disinfect contaminated surfaces.

Free transfers to a future event is a good step – maybe that will result in sick folks skipping it until they’re done shedding pathogens.

Jury won’t consider deaths in Georgia Salmonella trial

A jury weighing criminal charges Thursday against the owner of a Georgia peanut plant blamed for a nationwide salmonella outbreak five years ago will decide the case without hearing one fact — that nine people died after eating the company’s tainted peanut butter.

peanutFormer Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two co-defendants have been on trial since Aug. 1 and the jury started deliberations last Friday. Parnell and his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, are charged with knowingly shipping contaminated peanut butter to customers and faking lab tests intended to screen for salmonella.

Prosecutor Patrick Hearn, in his closing argument Friday, said Parnell and his co-defendants were greedy enough “to toss food safety to the wind.” But he stopped short of describing the outbreak’s full consequences.

“They served up salmonella to people and they ate it,” Hearn said. “This needs to never happen again.”

Why not tell the jury of the deaths? The Parnell brothers aren’t charged with killing or sickening anybody.

Instead, prosecutors decided they could build a stronger case charging them with defrauding their customers — food producers including Kellogg’s — and selling them tainted goods, said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of Georgia’s Middle District, whose office tried the case.

“We wanted to make sure we kept the jury focused on the conduct that led to these people’s sickness, but not let the case get into the medical history of every victim out there” with testimony on individual deaths, Moore said.

Shattered: UK FSA annual science report published

I saw the Rolling Stones in Buffalo in 1981. We stayed up all night, and drove from Guelph, crossing the border about 4:30 a.m. George Thorogood opened in the rain, and was awesome, followed by Journey, who sucked (hence the Journey effect) and then the Stones.

barfblog.Stick It InThe UK Food Standards Agency is the Journey of the food safety biz: they make other agencies look good.

Catherine Brown, the chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, writes in the annual science report that it demonstrates “science is at the heart of everything we do.”

It’s hard to take that seriously from a group that recommends piping hot, steaming hot, and cooked until the juices run clear.

There’s no mention of thermometers.

Brown also writes, “A fundamental principle in this process is to maintain a clear distinction between the independent, expert assessment of risk, and decisions on risk management.”

The U.S. got rid of that in 1997.

But Journey was popular back then.

Clearwater restaurant shut down for violations

After a day in Clearwater Beach today at the International Citrus and Beverage Conference, I’m glad I ate lunch at the hotel instead of heading over to Lenny’s Restaurant on U.S. 19. According to ABC Action News Lenny’s has had some recent issues with health inspections.

Sanitation and safety inspectors found over a dozen live and dead roaches near the food prep area, cooks line, dry storage area and dishwashing area, issuing Lenny’s an emergency closure for 24 hours on Aug. 14.20121109_132253

Also during that August inspection, Lenny’s had to throw out 150 pounds of boiled potatoes at dangerous temperatures that were being improperly cooled. And sausage and half and half were stored in temperatures well above 41 degrees, the minimum temperature required by the state.

Dozens of other violations in the last eight months included employees not washing their hands, live small flying insects in the food preparation area, raw chicken stored over cooked beef in the walk-in cooler, a cross contamination issue, and black/green mold in the ice machine.

[Owner Dan] Farrell explained that he’s had little employee turnover but his entire staff will be attending a refresher course on food safety next week.

New York dirty delis and markets exposed

Sean Perkins stopped by his favorite Washington Heights market the other day at lunchtime. But some nasty news came along with his sandwich.

deli26n-2-webPerkins learned that the market he frequents, Presbyterian Deli II has the dubious distinction of having the most failed food safety inspections of any market in New York City since 2011.

“Rat droppings. Ewwww,” said Perkins, reading one recent report. “I’m about to cancel my sandwich. That’s what I’m about to do.”

Although Presbyterian Deli II passed its most recent inspection May 22, the deli had failed 12 food safety inspections by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets since 2011. Among its violations: mouse droppings under the deli service display, old, dried pieces of meat on the cold cut slicer, and live cockroaches throughout the store.

The store owner did not respond to News 4 New York’s requests for comment. But a cashier there said workers there had made an effort to clean up after their last failed inspection.

Social media rules: owners of Chicken Cottage in UK fined after customer snaps rat in shop

A fast-food restaurant has been fined for a number of food hygiene failings after a customer took a picture of a rat on their premises.

chiken.cottagArun District Council has successfully prosecuted Bethel Catering UK Ltd, for food safety offences found at Chicken Cottage in East Street, Littlehampton.

Two Environmental Health Officers inspected the take-away last August following a call from a member of the public who had taken a photo of a rat she had seen inside the shop early that morning.

During this inspection the officers found clear evidence of a rat infestation both inside and outside the premises and the director of the company, Mr Somasundaram agreed to close the premises due to an imminent risk to public health.

Reports of Listeria more than double in Hong Kong

The annual number of reports of a deadly disease resulting from foodborne bacteria have more than doubled from 2011 to last year as people eat more pre-packaged food, doctors at the Centre for Food Safety said on Wednesday. 

listeria4A total of 26 cases of listeriosis, a serious bacterial infection that has a mortality rate of about 20 per cent, were reported last year and in 2012. In the previous three years, the annual average number of reported cases was 11.

The disease is caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a type of bacteria which thrives on pre-prepared food that is refrigerated for more than a week. 

Sixteen cases have already been reported in the first seven months of this year. The disease can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, blood and brain infections among high-risk people such as pregnant women, newborns and elderly people.

Some of the cases reported this year had resulted in miscarriages, the centre said.

East NY Village Pizzeria shut down for second time in just over a month

New York City has shut down a well-known pizza joint for the second time in just over a month after an inspection found evidence of mice, flies and other health violations.

pizzeriaNino’s Pizza, on the corner of Avenue A and St. Mark’s Place, racked up 127 violation points during its Sept. 15 inspection, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website.

In addition to vermin, inspectors found a dozen other violations including food that was stored at improper temperatures and the absence of a hand-washing facility “in or near the food preparation area and toilet room,” according to the site.

Owner Nino Camaj, however, denied most of the allegations. He said there were no mice in the restaurant and that the inspector overstated the number of flies observed.

“This place is the cleanest place in New York City. I tell the truth,” said Camaj, who has owned the pizzeria for 27 years.

Brisbane’s food hall of shame

Brisbane’s annual food hall of shame, released by City Hall on Wednesday, revealed the vast majority of the city’s worst food hygiene offenders had food preparation areas infested with rodents or pests last financial year.

339788-37021536-2368-11e4-b035-3276a1bc3645Just more than $710,000 in fines were dished up to 34 recalcitrant cafe, restaurant and food outlet owners in 2013/14 – 28 of which had evidence of animal or pest infestation, according to Brisbane City Council’s lifestyle chairman Krista Adams.

But the restaurant that claimed the dubious title of the year’s most heavily fined, Pho Ha Long, a Vietnamese restaurant in Mount Gravatt East, was not among them.

The restaurant was slapped a $60,000 fine in November for two counts of handling and selling unsafe food.

It has since closed.

As has Kelvin Grove’s Little Lily Thai Restaurant, which was fined $32,500 in February on 29 offences, including animal and pest infestation, food storage, cleanliness and failure to comply with an improvement notice.

The inner city was not without its offenders either.

Rats were discovered in the kitchen of Japanese Bento in the Myer Centre food hall, which formed part of a raft of charges that earned it a $25,000 fine in November.

Also in the Myer Centre, the Beach House Bar and Grill copped a $30,000 fine on eight charges stemming from failed standards of food storage, cleanliness and maintenance.

We’re in waste managment: Liechtenstein thieves steal 1.3 tonnes of Listeria cheese

Germany’s food inspection office is concerned bad cheese will be sold either directly or indirectly, posing a health risk to anyone who consumes it, ATS reported on Tuesday.

sopranos.don't.fuck.with.usThe problem is the “Alp Sücka” cheese was found to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that causes listeriosis, a potentially deadly infection.

Liechtenstein’s food office had banned the cheese but during a check discovered that 236 five-kilogram wheels of the dairy product had gone missing, ATS said.

They were probably stolen from open containers where they were stored temporarily before planned destruction, the news agency reported.

The country’s prosecutor has launched an investigation into the cheese’s disappearance.