Listeria fears prompt meat recall in Sweden

Tulip Food Company, which sells its meat products in both Denmark and Sweden, announced a recall of its Danish deli meat products on Friday after finding traces of listeria in portions of meat sold in Sweden.

2eb1ea2e55248a2b0bd20c0697e907e16ac21e40bbd998668014044d2c666427The company specified that the discovered amounts were miniscule, but that it was exercising caution.

“Listeria can grow in a product and even a very small amount can turn into a risky amount before the meat expires,” Michael Larsen, quality manager at Tulip Food Company, said in a statement.

The recalled products are Shächter Luftikus, Shächter Bauernskinka, Tulip Kokt Skinka, and Tulip Rökt Skinka, all in 500 gramme packages produced between August 7th and August 20th.

Contaminated meat has killed 13 people and caused at least 24 infections in Denmark, The Local Denmark reported. 

You’re not a fan of washing? I’m not a fan of Salmonella; 220 sickened and Australia still has an egg problem

In Feb. 2014,  the Victorian Department of Health blamed Green Eggs for a Salmonella outbreak in Melbourne and issued a health alert for the company’s raw eggs.

garlic.aioli_-300x300-300x300At least 220 people were sickened.

Science more that soundbites is what is needed on this issue.

The loss of 70 per cent of its business forced the Great Western company to shed staff and send their eggs to Melbourne for washing.

Owner Alan Green says the saga has cost the family-owned company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We lost 70 per cent of our market in 24 hours,” he said.

“We’ve got 40 per cent of that back and we’re now working rapidly on the other 30.”

The business has 33,000 chooks, which produce eggs for restaurants in Melbourne and farmers markets across Victoria.

The Department of Health has repeatedly said it’s confident Green Eggs was linked to a salmonella outbreak at two restaruants.

The farm was initially quarantined, with the department ordering the company to wash its eggs.

The couple has since, reluctantly, purchased an egg washer.

They wash their eggs prior to grading and packaging.

“Washing can be positive because it now eliminates any bacteria on the egg whatsoever,” Mr Green said.

“If done incorrectly, then washing won’t add bacteria but it can allow bacteria to get back in.

“It won’t happen during the washing because of the chlorine level in the washing water but it can get in later if the egg isn’t treated properly after washing.

“We’ve had to do it, not wishing to do it, but having done it we’ve now endorsed it and we’re doing everything we can to not only reach that level but go beyond it.”

Mr Green says all eggs in the United States must be washed, while in the UK egg producers are banned from washing eggs.

“We’re now vaccinating all our birds, which is what’s required in Europe and England.

“…we’ll be leaders in the small production field – there’s already big operators washing eggs.

“Does that mean everyone washing? I’m not a fan of washing.”

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx.

Austin, TX Whataburger food handler diagnosed with hepatitis A

If I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A. Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots.images-7
Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection  paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t equal the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs.
According to KXAN, an Austin outlet of Whataburger the famed Texas fast food chain is going through the crisis stuff right now – and it will cost them business even without patrons getting sick.
Health officials are wanting to alert the public about possible hepatitis A exposure at a Whataburger in Central Austin. A restaurant employee there at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location has been diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.
 
While health officials say transmission of the infection to customers is not likely, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is recommending people contact their doctor if they ate at that specific Whataburger between Aug. 7 and Tuesday and fit the following criteria:
  • are 75 years old or older
  • are immune-compromised
  • have chronic liver disease or have had a liver transplant
  • have clotting-factor disorders
  • are experiencing hepatitis A symptoms
A bit out of the norm; the usual public health response is to administer protective post-exposure IgG shots to all.

Maybe ServSafe sucks? University of Georgia food services takes precautions after receiving poor health scores during spring semester

After receiving two low scores for dining hall health inspections last spring, University of Georgia Food Services is taking extra health and safety precautions to begin the new school year.

u.georgia.food.service“We take food safety very seriously in the department,” said Bryan Varin, associate director of meal plan operations at UGA. “It’s something we focus a lot of time and energy on.”

All employees are required to complete a food safety course called ServSafe provided by the National Restaurant Association, Varin said.

“We go through intensive training with our managers, full-timers and student employees as well,” he said. “We’re constantly monitoring our practices, making improvements where we see that they need to be, reinforcing policies that we currently have that work. So it’s very important to us to stay on top of this and to constantly monitor and train and follow-through with employees and ourselves to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

South Australian restaurant fined for breaching food safety code by having rodent droppings

The owners of Garam Masala Indian Cuisine, Dernancourt, today pleaded guilty in the Holden Hill Magistrates Court to three counts of failing to comply with a requirement of the food standards code.

Garam Masala Indian Cuisine, DernancourtA further 17 counts of the same charge were dropped.

In sentencing today, Magistrate Cathy Deland said the restaurant had made some efforts to exterminate the pest problem but failed to ensure they did not return.

“The offences are serious and I have no doubt there was significant public concern, and general health concerns, over the conditions in the restaurant,” she said.

The court had earlier heard the owners of the restaurant were looking to sell the business after a drop in revenue caused by the negative publicity surrounding the case.

Magistrate Deland fined Garam Masala $5000 plus court and prosecution costs.

We’ve never made anyone sick: UK pub defends catering business after £8,000 fine

A pub landlord has defended his catering business after they were fined nearly £8,000 for failing to ensure their food was safe.

Nettleton Bottom - Golden HeartCatherine Stevens and David Morgan, who run the Golden Heart Inn in Nettleton Bottom, near Cheltenham, have admitted they made food available to customers which was “injurious to health”.

The caterers had provided Indian-style food and drink for a ‘Bollywood’ event in May 2013 at the Birdlip and Brimpsfield Cricket Club, in aid of the Great Western Air Ambulance Service.

Around 165 people had attended the event, and nearly 70 people complained to Cotswold District Council about having food-poisoning symptoms the following day.

Appearing at Cheltenham Magistrates Court on Monday, the pair pleaded guilty for failing to implement adequate food safety procedures for the catering business.

They were fined £3,5000 each, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £375 each, a combined total of £7,990 in total.

About 165 people had attended the day’s event.

Yesterday, Mr Morgan told the Echo it had been an isolated incident, and safety measures have since been put in.

He added: “It was an isolated incident and something we deeply regretted.

“It was also 15 months ago, and we have since had all the paper work and measures put in place.

“The pub also had a five-star hygiene rating until January this year, which had to go to three-star because of this incident.

“We’ve been here for around 20 years, and have served around 500,000 meals, without any problems.

“This was one of those horrible incidents that happens some times, as with all businesses. We do regret it.”

Nosestretcher alert: Australian food scientist says just wash raw sprouts, they’re safe and great choice

And why just pick on the Brits. Misuse of science by allegedly science-based agencies is rampant, owing to personal and political preferences.

dr_lisa_szaboAccording to the New South Wales Food Authority (that’s the state where Sydney is located, that’s in Australia), “Science plays an important role in everything we do here and as this week marks National Science Week across Australia, our scientists are getting in on the action and inviting you to learn about the important role science plays in food safety and protecting you from food poisoning.”

Chief Scientist Dr Lisa Szabo was online yesterday from 1pm to 2pm to bust some food furphies and give you the low down on any food safety myths (who writes this stuff?).

In response to a question, Dr. Liz wrote, “You’re right when you say sprouts are healthy, they are a great choice. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly as they can be contaminated as seeds as well as during growth and processing with bacteria such as E.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.

“If you’re under 5, over 70, are pregnant or already have a low or compromised immune system its better to be safe than sorry and avoid any type of raw or lightly cooked sprouts.”

Nonsense.

You ain’t gonna wash bacteria off sprouts, especially if they are internalized in seed.

Raw sprouts are one of the few foods I won’t eat, yet they are ubiquitous in Australia.

jimmy.john's.sprouts Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

Nosestretcher alert: steaming hot taxpayer-funded UK food safety nonsense

bites.stick.it.inYou don’t even need a temperature probe, just keep dad handy. Meat should be steaming in the middle, with no pink on the inside. Any juices should run clear.”

Nonsense.

And taxpayers pay for this.

I also wouldn’t use tongs on raw meat and then stick them in my apron.

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

18 sickened in 2012; E. coli O111 in a French nursery

(Thanks to my food safety friend Albert for sending this along.)

Three cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) occurred in 15 days and the cases were notified to the Institute for Public Health Surveillance (VS) November 5, 2012 suggesting clustered cases of infection with enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

nurseryAn exploratory investigation, a retrospective cohort of 89/94 children (95%) and 28/36 (78%) and personal prospective surveillance was carried out at a common exposure and to determine the extent of the epidemic . Screening in the family circle of confirmed cases and among children and staff was conducted. EHEC was detected by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in feces, and positive samples were cultured for strain characterization.

A confirmed case was a child or crèche staff who submitted between 10 October 2012 and 17 January 2013, signs of gastroenteritis and/or HUS EHEC O111 isolation; probable case presented bloody and/or stool HUS and a positive PCR; a possible case had presented with diarrhea at least 3 loose stools in 24 hours and consulted a doctor.

Eighteen cases (6 confirmed, 1 probable and 11 possible) were identified among children. The epidemic curve evoked human transmission. The attack rate was 20.2%, 6.7% considering only confirmed cases. Attendance of group A was significantly associated with the disease (RR = 3.1 95% CI [1.3 to 7.1]). Household contacts of confirmed cases, 17% (3/18) were asymptomatic. Screening identified 4% (3/80) of asymptomatic children. 

Labels the law for all mechanically tenderized beef in Canada

In a move to cut risk from foodborne E. coli, all mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) sold in Canada from today on must be labelled as such and list instructions on safe cooking.

needle.tenderize.crHealth Minister Rona Ambrose on Thursday announced the new labelling requirements for all uncooked MTB — expanding a rule that’s been in place since July last year for federally licensed beef plants producing steaks and roasts.

The new label must clearly state the beef being sold is “mechanically tenderized,” and must include instructions for safe cooking, stressing the importance of cooking MTB to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F (63 C) and turning over steaks at least twice during cooking.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is tasked with verifying retailers’ and packers’ labels meet the new requirements, Health Canada said.

Mechanical tenderization is a common practice for improving beef tenderness and flavour, using needles or blades to break down, penetrate or pierce the meat’s surface and disrupt the muscle fibers, or to inject the meat with a marinade or tenderizer.

mech-tenderized-beef-boeuf-attendris-meca-01-413x280Normally, the risk of E. coli contamination from a rare or undercooked steak, roast or other solid cut of beef is “not a significant concern” since such bacteria would normally be on the surface of the meat and “inactivated” during cooking.

Much like grinding beef, mechanical tenderization can increase the potential for bacteria to transfer from the surface to the centre of the meat.

Unlike ground beef, however, as a Health Canada health risk assessment pointed out last year, it’s “not necessarily apparent by just looking at a mechanically tenderized meat product that it has undergone this process.”

The May 2013 assessment showed “a five-fold increase in risk from MTB products when compared to intact cuts of beef.”

Health Canada noted that in 2012, out of 18 cases of foodborne E. coli O157-related illness from a Canadian outbreak linked to contaminated beef, five cases were considered to be “likely associated with the consumption of beef that had been mechanically tenderized at the retail level.”

The rule covers all solid cuts of MTB, regardless of thickness, which means it will also apply to cubed steaks, “fast fry” or “minute” steaks. It will apply to both pre-packaged and non-pre-packaged products.

MTB that’s packaged on the premises at selection or purchase — such as in a butcher shop or at a clerk-served meat counter — will need to be identified as such before the customer selects a desired cut of beef. An in-store sign would identify a product in a display case as “mechanically tenderized,” for example.

In those cases, once meat has been packaged to give to the customer, the product must carry both the mandatory “mechanically tenderized” label and safe cooking instructions on the “principal display panel.”