Vegas Firefly still doesn’t get food safety

In June 2013, Las Vegas’ Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar was linked to over 250 cases of salmonellosis. Investigators fingered cross-contaminated chorizo as the likely source. At the time of the outbreak owner Tabitha Simmons was quoted as saying, “It’s just sad because we’ve been vilified and we did not want anyone to get hurt. We certainly weren’t managing our restaurants poorly.”

firefly-300x300-300x300Now, Firefly has closed its Anthem-area location, citing inconsistent business at the Henderson store and a desire to focus on operations at its other restaurants.

Uh-huh.

The closure comes weeks after a routine inspection by the Southern Nevada Health District resulted in 38 demerits and a C grade for the Eastern Avenue restaurant on March 31. Firefly fired three employees as a result of the inspection, and a re-inspection on April 4 yielded 8 demerits and brought the grade back up to an A.

While Simmons said the closure wasn’t a direct result of the inspection, he acknowledged the restaurant probably wouldn’t have survived another significant loss in business.

Food terrorism poses eminent danger to US

Food terrorism poses an eminent danger to the United States, according to antiterrorism specialists. While the need for higher quantities of food is only increasing, the standards for food safety have been at a standstill or worse—nonexistent.

The Voice of Russia got to interview three antiterrorism food experts on the rising threats in American society. Not only did they mention the dairy sector of being in danger, but the US’ produce is also in a compromising position.

south.park.terrorist“Many foods can be potential contaminants, especially fresh produce,” Dr. Douglas Powell, a former professor of food safety and publisher of barfblog.com confessed to the Voice of Russia.

A terrorist attack geared toward the food industry is a very real threat to the US and devastating effects would be felt if the dairy section were tainted with an illicit chemical, as babies, children, teens, adults, and seniors all consume milk products on a day-to-day basis. “The entire food industry is vulnerable to the terrorist threat in equal measure to the dairy sector, ” Antiterrorism Consulting, an engineer company specializing in consultancy and assessment of terrorists threats for specific industries, told the Voice of Russia in its opinion.

“It is incumbent on the manufacturers to have validated processes in place; government is just there as an occasional check,” Dr. Powell stressed. Making the world an even more connected entity has more likely than not worsened the situation when it comes to food safety. Regulatory agencies exist however they are not omnipresent organizations, leaving crucial gaps within the system. Pitfalls of this magnitude just make it far easier for terrorists to taint the food supply.

Canada’s chicken farmers ban injections that trigger resistance

Canadian chicken farmers are putting an end to controversial egg injections, which provided the world with a “textbook” example of the perils of mass medication.

By injecting eggs at hatcheries with ceftiofur, a medically important antibiotic, the farmers triggered the rise of resistant microbes that showed up in both chickens and in Canadians creating a “major” public health concern.

double-facepalm1The case  – documented by federal and provincial sleuths who track microbes at farms, slaughterhouses and retail meat counters – is held up as powerful evidence of resistant superbugs moving from farm to fork.

“It is going to be in medical textbooks for as long as there are textbooks around,” says John Prescott, a professor with the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

On May 15 injecting eggs with ceftiofur will be banned as part of a new antibiotics policy adopted by Chicken Farmers of Canada, representing the 2,700 poultry farmers across the country.

“The industry has gone ahead and done this voluntarily, but it is not a voluntary program,” says Steve Leech, the association’s national programs manager.  He says the ban is mandatory with penalties and fines for violators.

While the ban is better late than never, Prescott says government should have stopped the injections years ago.

Microbe trackers working with the Public Health Agency of Canada first reported in 2003 that they were picking up higher rates of ceftiofur resistance in Quebec.  In 2004, they reported resistance was just as high in Ontario “in both humans and chicken.”

A strain of bacteria called Salmonella Heidelberg, that can cause food poisoning, had armed itself with the biochemical machinery needed to resist ceftiofur. Ceftiofur belongs to a class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins, which are often used on hard-to-cure infections in people.

FunkyChickenHiThe scientists soon linked the rise of the resistant Salmonella to chicken hatcheries that were injecting  ceftiofur into eggs prophylactically to try prevent infections in chicks.

The way Canadian hatcheries were allowed to keep using ceftiofur highlights the “inability” of  Canadian health officials to stop inappropriate use of  antibiotics, says Prescott.

“There was clear evidence of an adverse effect on public health,” he says, but dealing with the issue fell between the “gaps” in federal and provincial regulations.

Ceftiofur was never approved by Health Canada for use in chickens or eggs but hatcheries used it “extra-label,” which falls under the provincial jurisdiction.

Encouraging thermometer use, one person at a time

doug.sorenne.hockey.apr.14Australia shuts down for Easter.

It’s the end of two weeks of school holidays, the weather in Brisbane is ideal, so everyone is at the beach.

We went to the arena.

We did go to the beach Friday, but Saturday was two different outings and sausage sizzles.

First it was leisure in a park down by the Brisbane River. Brisbane has numerous, fabulous parks outfitted with lots of electric grills, and open spaces for kids and adults alike. I had forgotten my thermometer but my brofriend remembered to bring the one I had given him.

thermometer.chicken.apr.14The grills aren’t the most efficient, so people were waiting for us to hurry up and get on with things. A couple saw us temping sausages with the tip-sensitive digital thermometer and proclaimed, what a great idea. They were preparing ginger-soy chicken, so I said, use the thermometer. We’ll get it back later. They were hooked.

Then it was a hockey tournament at a neighboring arena where Sorenne made her game debut, and I returned to coaching for the first time in nine years.

They also had a sausage sizzle as a fundraiser. I was too busy with the kids to ask about thermometers, but it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.

Beach, hockey, thermometers – what’s not to like?

dp.coaching.apr.14

Not a good week for North Carolina Papa John’s

First a manager at a Charlotte Papa John’s was diagnosed with hepatitis A resulting in hundreds of IgG shots and now a Raleigh-area outlet has been questioned about storing and transporting raw dough unsafely. One situation is a real public health risk, the other elicits some yuck-factor response.29334616_1381404884

According to WRAL’s Monica Laliberte, a local viewer called the TV station to report some less-than-ideal dough handling after not being happy with the restaurant’s response.
When Jim Barnhill saw stacks of pizza dough sitting uncovered outside a Brier Creek Papa John’s, he wondered about the health issues that might raise.

When he saw the same thing again and again, he notified the restaurant. The first time, a manager said, “have it thrown away immediately.” The second time, they told him they’d address the issue.

When it happened a third time, Barnhill brought his photos and video to 5 On Your Side.

He saw dough sitting outside in the rain. “It was sprinkling so the dough was getting hit by the raindrops,” Barnhill said.

Then the exposed dough balls were placed in the back of an employee’s car.

“That’s a problem,” said [health inspector] Thomas Jumalon, upon viewing Barnhill’s video.

“Had this happened during an inspection, if that product had had any rainwater, anything like that, we would advise them to toss it,” he said.

Jumalon had some points of assurance for diners.

He pointed out that pizza dough cooks at 500 degrees for 20 minutes – enough to kill just about anything that could be on it – and that food is exposed to the outdoors whenever you dine outside. He also said transporting food in a personal car is no different than using a company vehicle.

Maybe some physical hazard risks, but not the kind of stuff that leads to foodborne illness.

Portland to flush 38M gallon reservoir after teen uses it as a toilet

Portland will dispose of 38 million gallons of treated reservoir water after learning that a 19-year-old man urinated into it, even though urine-tainted drinking water is apparently not much of a health risk. 

ReservoirdogWater Bureau Administrator David Shaff said that animals urinate into the reservoir often and that there’s no real problem with that, but this is different because it (naturally) makes everyone feel super weird — or, as he put it, ”I could be wrong on that, but the reality is our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.”

The perp was seen peeing through an iron fence into Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 around 1 a.m. by security cameras and has been cited for public urination. He was accompanied by two others, ages 18 and 19, who tried (only one succeeded) to scale the fence surrounding the reservoir. All three have been given citations for trespassing. 

In describing the footage, Shaff said that there’s “really no doubt” what he’s doing. “When you see the video, he’s leaning right up because he has to get his little wee wee right up to the iron bars.”

Is it safe to keep a pig’s head with baked goods? Judge reserves decision on New Zealand bakery

The Bulls Bakery could be closed down because of problems with food safety, including a pig’s head kept with baked goods.

In Wanganui District Court on April 11, Judge David Cameron heard the Rangitikei District Council’s case for closing the High St business run by Santhya Sun.

pig.headJudge Cameron reserved his judgment until this week.

However, Mr Sun said he had tried hard to remedy problems and the council was unfairly targeting him.

Over the past year an inspector found mould growing on meat, rice and a tin of syrup, uncovered food, cooked and uncooked found placed together and a pig’s head from a home kill in the freezer with loose cakes like doughnuts and eclairs. Other problems included a pastry flan base uncovered with a plate of mince left on top, a mincer with old encrusted meat on it, fly spotting, and a sick baby playing with kitchen implements.

The council ordered the shop closed in December 2013 because of the unsafe food practices, but the owner defied the order and reopened it.

In January council did not renew Mr Sun’s registration and gave chief executive Ross McNeill the go-ahead to prosecute him.

Salmonella, staph, poop on sushi that sickened 220 in Mexico

Salmonella, fecal waste and Staphylococcus aureus were the bacteria that caused food poisoning in 36 customers three branches of Qué Rollo Sushi (Sushi Roll) and sickened up to 220.

sushi.vomit.apr.12Sergio Olvera Alba, director of Epidemiology, Ministry of Health, revealed the results of laboratory outbreak sushi, then matched the isolates with human samples.

8 dead, 26 sickened in Listeria outbreak linked to Quargel cheese in Austria; genomic sequencing

A large listeriosis outbreak occurred in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic in 2009 and 2010. The outbreak was traced back to a traditional Austrian curd cheese called Quargel which was contaminated with two distinct serovar 1/2a Listeria monocytogenes strains (QOC1 and QOC2).

Quargel_cheeseQuargel is an acid curd cheese with a red smear made from skimmed pasteurized milk. Some recalled Quargel lots were highly contaminated with up to 106–108 colony forming units (CFU) of L. monocytogenes per gram of cheese.

From June 2009 to January 2010 Quargel outbreak clone 1 (hereafter: QOC1) was the cause of 14 cases, including 5 with a fatal outcome, while between December 2009 and February 2010, clone 2 (hereafter: QOC2) accounted for 20 cases, which resulted in 3 fatalities. No maternal or neonatal case had been reported. The median age of the cases was 72 years (range 57 to 89) and 76% of the patients were male. Of the 34 patients, 25 were Austrian, 8 were German and one was from the Czech Republic.

Rychli et al. report we sequenced and analysed the genomes of both outbreak strains in order to investigate the extent of genetic diversity between the two strains belonging to MLST sequence types 398 (QOC2) and 403 (QOC1). Both genomes are highly similar, but also display distinct properties: The QOC1 genome is approximately 74 kbp larger than the QOC2 genome. In addition, the strains harbour 93 (QOC1) and 45 (QOC2) genes encoding strain-specific proteins. A 21 kbp region showing highest similarity to plasmid pLMIV encoding three putative internalins is integrated in the QOC1 genome. In contrast to QOC1, strain QOC2 harbours a vip homologue, which encodes a LPXTG surface protein involved in cell invasion. In accordance, in vitro virulence assays revealed distinct differences in invasion efficiency and intracellular proliferation within different cell types. The higher virulence potential of QOC1 in non-phagocytic cells may be explained by the presence of additional internalins in the pLMIV-like region, whereas the higher invasion capability of QOC2 into phagocytic cells may be due to the presence of a vip homologue. In addition, both strains show differences in stress-related gene content. Strain QOC1 encodes a so-called stress survival islet 1, whereas strain QOC2 harbours a homologue of the uncharacterized LMOf2365_0481 gene. Consistently, QOC1 shows higher resistance to acidic, alkaline and gastric stress. In conclusion, our results show that strain QOC1 and QOC2 are distinct and did not recently evolve from a common ancestor.

104 sickened: increase in Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections associated with consumption of Atlantic coast shellfish — 2013

I don’t eat raw oysters. This is why.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is found naturally in coastal saltwater. In the United States, Vp causes an estimated 35,000 domestically acquired foodborne infections annually (1), of which most are attributable to consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish. Illness typically consists of mild to moderate Raw oystersgastroenteritis, although severe infection can occur. Demographic, clinical, and exposure information (including traceback information on implicated seafood) for all laboratory-confirmed illnesses are reported by state health departments to CDC through the Cholera and Other Vibrio Surveillance system. Vp isolates are distinguished by serotyping (>90 serotypes have been described) and by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).

Vp serotypes O4:K12 and O4:K(unknown) comprise the Pacific Northwest (PNW) strain and, within the United States, had not been associated with shellfish outside the Pacific Northwest before 2012. During May–July 2012, Vp of the PNW strain associated with shellfish from Oyster Bay Harbor in New York caused an outbreak of 28 illnesses in nine states. Simultaneously, Vp of the PNW strain caused an outbreak of illnesses on a cruise ship docked on the Atlantic Coast of Spain; illness was associated with cooked seafood cooled with ice made from untreated local seawater. All Vp isolates from ill persons in the U.S. and Spanish outbreaks that were further subtyped were indistinguishable by PFGE (2).

In 2013, this same indistinguishable strain was traced from shellfish consumed by ill persons to a larger area of the U.S. Atlantic Coast, causing illness in 104 persons from 13 states during May–September (Figure). The median age of patients was 51 years (range = 22–85 years); 62% were male. Six (6%) patients were hospitalized; none died. Multiple outbreaks appeared to be occurring, accounting for many of these illnesses. Illness was associated with consumption of raw shellfish and seafood traceback was reported for 59 (57%) illnesses. Of these illnesses, 51 (86%) involved seafood that could be definitively traced to a single harvest area. The implicated harvest areas were located in Connecticut (20 illnesses), Massachusetts (15), New York (10), Virginia (four), Maine (one), and Washington (one). The remaining eight illnesses with traceback information involved seafood that could not be definitively traced to a single harvest area (locations reported included harvest areas of the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada). In response to the illnesses, four Atlantic Coast states closed implicated harvest areas; two issued shellfish recalls (3). The number of foodborne Vp cases in the United States traced to Atlantic Coast shellfish was threefold greater in 2012 and 2013 compared with the annual average number reported during 2007–2011.

This PNW strain is possibly becoming endemic in an expanding area of the Atlantic Ocean. The mechanisms for this introduction are not known. During the 2014 Vibrio season, beginning in the spring, clinicians, health departments, and fisheries departments should be prepared for the possibility of shellfish-associated diarrheal illness caused by this strain SUN0705N-Oyster7again. Appropriate actions, such as quick closure of implicated harvest areas, will help prevent additional illnesses. The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference maintains a list of shellfish harvest area closures and recalls.* Clinicians seeking an etiology of diarrhea in a patient who has recently consumed raw or undercooked shellfish should notify the microbiology laboratory that Vp is suspected; the use of special culture media (thiosulfate citrate bile salts sucrose) facilitates identification of Vibrio species. Consumers can reduce their risk for Vp infection by avoiding eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters and clams.†

References

Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—major pathogens. Emerg Infect Dis 2011;17:7–15.

Martinez-Urtaza J, Baker-Austin C, Jones JL, Newton AE, Gonzalez-Aviles GD, DePaola A. Spread of Pacific Northwest Vibrio parahaemolyticus strain. N Engl J Med 2013;369:1573–4.

CDC. Increase in Vibrio parahaemolyticus illnesses associated with consumption of shellfish from several Atlantic coast harvest areas, United States, 2013. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2013. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/investigations/index.html.

* Available at http://www.issc.org/closuresreopenings.aspx.

† Additional information available at http://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/investigations/vibriop-09-13/advice-consumers.html.

 CDC MMWR 63(15);335-336

Anna E. Newton, Nancy Garrett, Steven G. Stroika, Jessica L. Halpin, Maryann Turnsek, Rajal K. Mody

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6315a6.htm?s_cid=mm6315a6_e