Japan to ban restaurants from serving raw pork

The central government will ban restaurants from serving raw pork starting in mid-June, following a similar ban in 2012 on beef liver, the health ministry said Wednesday.

raw.porkRestaurants have increasingly turned to pork after the ban on raw beef liver.

The ministry said it would now require pork to be heat-sterilized to prevent food poisoning. It will also ban retailers from selling pork for raw consumption.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry cited the possibility that pigs’ innards could be tainted with the hepatitis E virus, which causes liver inflammation, as the reason for the ban.

Under the new requirements, pork will have to be heated for at least 30 minutes at 63 degrees, or be heat-sterilized in other ways with a similar effect, the ministry said.

Violators will face up to two years in jail or a ¥2 million fine, it added.

The ministry will also urge consumers not to eat raw pork, saying the meat should be heated for at least a minute at 75 degrees.

The number of hepatitis E patients hit a record high of 146 in 2014 from 55 in 2011, with pork the most likely cause among foodstuffs, according to data compiled by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Shiga-toxin E. coli in cattle

Cattle hides are a main source of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) contamination of beef carcasses.

cow.poop2The objectives of this study were to (1) determine the prevalence of “top 6” non-O157 plus O157:H7 EHEC (EHEC-7) on feedlot cattle hides and their matched preintervention carcasses; (2) assess the agreement among detection methods for these matrices; and (3) conduct a molecular risk assessment of EHEC-7 isolates. Samples from 576 feedlot cattle were obtained at a commercial harvest facility and tested for EHEC-7 by a culture-based method and the polymerase chain reaction/mass spectrometry–based NeoSEEK™ STEC Detection and Identification test (NS).

Prevalence data were analyzed with generalized linear mixed models. The cumulative prevalence of EHEC-7 in hide samples as detected by NS was 80.7%, with a distribution of 49.9%, O145; 37.1%, O45; 12.5%, O103; 11.0%, O157; 2.2%, O111; 2.0%, O121; and 0.2%, O26. In contrast, the cumulative prevalence of EHEC-7 in hide samples by culture was 1.2%, with a distribution of 0.6%, O157; 0.4%, O26; 0.2%, O145; and 0%, O45, O103, O111, and O121.

The cumulative prevalence of EHEC-7 on matched preintervention carcasses as detected by NS was 6.0%, with a distribution of 2.8%, O157; 1.6%, O145; 1.2%, O103; 1.1%, O45; 0.2%, O26; and 0.0%, O111 and O121. Although the culture-based method detected fewer positive hide samples than NS, it detected EHEC in five hide samples that tested negative for the respective organism by NS.

McNemar’s chi-square tests indicated significant (p<0.05) disagreement between methods. All EHEC-7 isolates recovered from hides were seropathotype A or B, with compatible virulence gene content.

This study indicates that “top 6” and O157:H7 EHEC are present on hides, and to a lesser extent, preintervention carcasses of feedlot cattle at harvest. However, continued improvement in non-O157 detection methods is needed for accurate estimation of prevalence, given the discordant results across protocols.

Prevalence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145, and O157 on hides and preintervention carcass surfaces of feedlot cattle at harvest

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.1945.

Stromberg Zachary R., Baumann Nicholas W., Lewis Gentry L., Sevart Nicholas J., Cernicchiaro Natalia, Renter David G., Marx David B., Phebus Randall K., and Moxley Rodney A.



Company warned to get its HACCP together for eel

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to seafood processing company Saemus on May 18 over what it called “serious” Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) violations.

eelThe determination is based on inspection of the processing facility in Virginia from Oct. 29 through Nov. 5 of last year, the letter said.

Among concerns was that the firm does not have a HACCP plan in place for its frozen vacuum packed, cooked, ready to eat eel.

Also, its ready-to-eat broiled eel kabayaki and hot and spicy eel productslacked the required HACCP plan to assure the fish are cooked sufficiently.

It also found a product — Natural Fresh Water Eel — was misbranded, since the label fails to declare all major food allergens present in the product.

UK E. coli cluster investigation reopens after child hospitalized

A child from Dorset is being treated in hospital for complications following an E. coli infection as investigations reopen into a previous cluster.

e.coli.O55Tests are being carried out on another child and three other suspected cases linked to one household.

A cluster of the rare E. coli O55 in Dorset was investigated last year but no common source was found.

Public Health England is reviewing data from the last outbreak to examine possible links with current cases.

The child is one of two from Dorset who are currently in hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) – a complication of E. coli infection.

Results of tests for the strain of Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) infection are awaited on the second child.

Ten people in the Blandford area of Dorset were diagnosed with E. coli O55 between July and November 2014.

A further two cases were identified in Portland, four in Bournemouth and Poole as well as three cases outside the county which had links to people from Dorset.

Terrible idea: UK kids meet animals at a raw milk farm

In the fall of 1998, I accompanied one of my four daughters on a kindergarten trip to the farm. After petting the animals and touring the crops – I questioned the fresh manure on the strawberries –we were assured that all the food produced was natural.

raw.milk.petting.zooWe then returned for unpasteurized apple cider. The host served the cider in a coffee urn, heated, so my concern about it being unpasteurized was abated. I asked: “Did you serve the cider heated because you heard about other outbreaks and were concerned about liability?” She responded, “No. The stuff starts to smell when it’s a few weeks old and heating removes the smell.”

But it’s all smiles at one Rimington farm as children enjoy the sunshine and all the farm has to offer.

Gazegill Farm in Rimington welcomes school groups and visitors to come to the farm and to have a look around.

Public health: It’s about resources

A shot rang out.

It was about 7:30 p.m. last night. I said to Amy that sounded like a gunshot, she said, nah, I grew up in Montana around guns, that wasn’t a gunshot.

revolver_webley_and_Scott_A_seriesIt was.

Ten minutes later we got an e-mail from the townhouse next door, saying a bullet had ripped through their walls.

We’ve lived beside these bogans for three years, but they’re getting worse.

The street was in lockdown, cops were negotiating with people inside the house, I was told to stay with Sorenne.

Talking to the two police officers this morning following up on the shooting – and this isn’t the U.S., they take such things seriously here – I said isn’t that house a drain on your resources. Don’t you have better things to do?


It’s the same with raw milk, anti-vaxxers and whatever else is out there: It’s a huge drain on public resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

Science nonsense: No mention of thermometers for UK chicken

How can a supposed science-based organization be taken seriously when it won’t incorporate science-based recommendations into its taxpayer-payer funded advice?

chicken.thermMaybe the Brits think they above such pedantic notions.

According to the UK Food Standards Authority, chicken is safe as long as consumers follow good kitchen practice including, ake sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.


FSA has just published results from its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens. Campylobacter is a food bug mainly found on raw poultry and is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK.

Cumulative results for samples taken between February 2014 and February 2015[1] have now been published as official statistics, including results presented by major retailer. The report can been found via the link further down this page.

The results for the full year show:

  • 19% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination*
  • 73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter
  • 1% (five samples) of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination
  • 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter

*More than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

More than 4,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging have been tested. The chickens were bought from large UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The data shows variations between the retailers, but none has met the target for reducing campylobacter (see table below). A full analysis of the survey results, including the publication of the raw data and the full year results for smaller supermarkets and shops, is being carried out by the FSA and will be published later in the summer.

Further details of the ongoing testing of chickens for campylobacter were also confirmed by the FSA. A new survey will start this summer and once again sample fresh whole chickens from all types of shops. Continued testing will help the FSA to measure the impact of the interventions now being introduced by the industry to tackle campylobacter.

The FSA has welcomed the publication today of case studies by Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, the Co-op and Waitrose  showing the results of their recently implemented campylobacter reduction plans. The data show significant decreases in the incidence of campylobacter on their raw whole chickens. The tests were carried out on more recent samples than those taken from the FSA survey samples, with some targeted to demonstrate the effect of particular interventions.

But it’s not enough: Calgary petting zoo adopts no-touch poultry policy

It’s nice that the bureaucrats at Alberta Agriculture are recommending that petting zoos implement a no-touch poultry policy for children under five years of age following a Salmonella outbreak linked to baby chicks, but what about the barriers? What about aerosolization of pathogens?

chicken.south.parkAlberta Health reports that 24 Albertans have become ill since April 5, including 10 children. Three adults and one child required hospitalization, but all four have since been released.

The outbreak has also been linked to illnesses in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says all of the cases involved contact with live baby poultry, and most have been traced back to an unnamed Alberta poultry hatchery.

“The funny thing about Salmonella is that it causes noticeable disease in humans, but for a lot of animals, they’re not noticeably affected at all,” said Dr. James Talbot, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health.

There’s nothing funny about Salmonella.

Butterfield Acres, a popular petting zoo located northwest of Calgary, is no longer allowing patrons to have any contact with live poultry on site.

In a emailed statement to Global News, a spokesperson said:

“We are taking precautions by adopting a no-touch policy for the poultry, and by restricting access to all our poultry pens. We are asking all visitors to watch the birds through the fences, and to use this situation as an excellent reminder that good hand washing is important.”


New biosensor enables rapid detection of Listeria

A Texas A&M AgriLife Research engineer and a Florida colleague have developed a biosensor that can detect listeria bacterial contamination within two or three minutes.

listeria4“We hope to soon be able to detect levels as low as one bacteria in a 25-gram sample of material – about one ounce,” said Dr. Carmen Gomes, AgriLife Research engineer with the Texas A&M University department of biological and agricultural engineering.

The same technology can be developed to detect other pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, she said. But listeria was chosen as the first target pathogen because it can survive even at freezing temperatures. It is also one of the most common foodborne pathogens in the world and the third-leading cause of death from food poisoning in the U.S.

“It can grow under refrigeration, but it will grow rapidly when it is warmed up as its optimum growth temperature ranges from 30 to 37 degrees Celsius — 86 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit,” Gomes said. “This makes it a particular problem for foods that are often not cooked, like leafy vegetables, fruits and soft cheeses that are stored under refrigeration.”

Currently, the only means of detecting listeria bacteria contamination of food requires highly trained technicians and processes that take several days to complete, she said. For food processing companies that produce and ship large quantities of foodstuff daily, listeria contamination sources can be a moving target that is often missed by current technology.

Children hospitalized buthealth types refuse to release details: UK E. coli outbreak

An outbreak of E coli has been identified in Dorset after a child was confirmed to be infected with the disease.

claudia.e.coli.petting.zoo.may.14The child is one of two from the county who are currently in hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E coli infection.

Public Health England, which is also carrying out tests on three further children, has refused to divulge any details about the location of the outbreak or where the children are from.

Last year 10 people in Dorset were affected by the disease between July and November.