3 dead from Listeria in Macedonia

Three people infected with the bacteria Listeria, which was detected in seven patients in Macedonia, died in a month, Dnevnik daily reports.

listeriaThe Committee on Infectious Diseases held meeting late Monday, third in the past four days, in the presence of the Health Minister Nikola Todorov, after receiving information from the Institute of Public Health that seven cases in which laboratory tests confirmed the presence of listeria were registered in a month.

Five of the reported cases were diagnosed with listeria caused meningitis or meningoencephalitis and two newborn babies were diagnosed with listeria sepsis.  Three of the seven reported cases ended with death – one patient aged 72, the second patient aged 59 and a newborn child.

Prevalence, distribution, and diversity of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella in kiwifruit orchards and processing plants

The kid loves her kiwi (right, not exactly as shown).

I’ve started putting one in her daily lunch, and my wife eats them with skin on, and I just like them.

south.park.sorenne.But are there microbial risks?

Feng et al. report in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease that the aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence, distribution, and diversity of three foodborne bacteria in kiwifruit orchards and processing plants. Fourteen kiwifruit orchards and two processing plants in Shaanxi province were visited for sampling in 2012. Fruit samples and environmental samples in orchards and plants were taken for isolation of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella. All isolates were characterized by antimicrobial susceptibility testing and detection of virulence genes. Selected isolates were further examined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis. In total, 160 E. coli isolates and 14 S. aureus isolates were recovered from 407 samples from orchards and plants, while no Salmonella was recovered. E. coli isolates displayed resistance most frequently to streptomycin (65.6%), and S. aureus isolates displayed resistance most frequently to erythromycin (21.4%). Three E. coli isolates (1.9%) were positive for stx2 and two S. aureusisolates (14.3%) were positive for both seb and seh. Seventy-seven E. coli isolates and 14 S. aureus isolates were analyzed by PFGE. PFGE results showed that both E. coli and S. aureus isolates were diverse, and blades for slicing during the processing could be an important contamination source. This study could provide useful information for kiwifruit growers and industry to establish proper management practices that help minimize the chance of microbial contamination from farm to table.

300 suffer food poisoning at Japanese sports tournament

Police and health officials in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, said Monday that around 300 students suffered food poisoning at a soccer and rugby tournament. Of those, 120 were taken to hospital but none suffered any lasting effects, police said.

According to police, players taking part in an elementary school soccer and rugby tournament started vomiting and complaining of stomach pain at around 1 p.m. Sunday, TV Asahi reported.

Police suspect the cause of the food poisoning may have been in some of the bentos (boxed lunches), which all came from the same supplier.

The moves Wales has taken to stop future outbreaks of E.coli

Positive progress has been made by the majority of Welsh local authorities in preventing future outbreaks of E.coli, a new report has found.

mason.jonesThe Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Food and Feed Law Enforcement Review in Wales, commissioned in January 2014, looked at what progress has been made to implement recommendations of the Pennington inquiry following a serious outbreak nine years ago.

Five-year-old Mason Jones, from Deri, near Bargoed, Rhymney Valley, died in 2005 and more than 150 others fell ill with the O157 strain across Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff.

The outbreak, which struck 44 schools, was the UK’s second biggest.

But the new report, which was unveiled at the Royal Welsh Show, said most councils had “acted decisively” to implement recommendations of the 2009 Pennington inquiry.

powell_tipton_slasher_10_0_storyGwynedd Council was singled out as the only exception.

The FSA set up a food hygiene delivery programme in response to the inquiry’s recommendations and developed a programme of work to improve food hygiene delivery and enforcement across the UK.

Local authority data has confirmed there have been significant improvements in the proportion of food businesses in Wales which are compliant with food hygiene law.

The report said the introduction of the food hygiene rating scheme – known as “scores on the doors” – and collaborative working between local authorities, the FSA and the Welsh Government has empowered consumers to make informed choices about where they eat.

Wales is the only part of the UK where all businesses must display their rating by law.

Want to avoid an E. coli burger? Cook the outside and inside to 71°C (160°F) – regardless of color

It’s a beautiful thing, for a Brit publication to embrace temperature, even when their own overpaid food safety types won’t.

terrance.phillip.fartExcept the person giving the advice is Canadian.

Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom, writer of the Words To Eat By blog, said minced beef is one of the main carriers of E. coli, a harmful bacteria among the most common causes of food poisoning.

But, she said, spotting a burger riddled with the bacteria is difficult as the meat will smell and look normal.

‘While the surface of any meat can technically harbor E. coli, it is killed when you cook food at a high temperature.

‘If E. coli is on the surface of a steak, it is killed by the grill, even if the inside of the meat stays pink.

Needle tenderized?

Irish childcare facility closed due to E. coli outbreak

A childcare facility in county Cavan will remain closed until the area is cleaned following an outbreak of verotoxigenic E. coli.

HSE-300x162The Health Service Executive says that they were notified of a case of E. coli in a child at the facility in county Cavan. It followed a confirmed case of a similar infection in another attendee at the same facility back in April. The HSE was notified of the latest case of E. coli in a child at this facility over three weeks ago. It followed a confirmed case of a similar infection in another attendee at the same childcare facility back in April. The Health Service Executive says no source was identified for the infection in the previous case.

125 now sick in multi-state Cyclospora investigation

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy is reporting that U.S. federal health officials have joined with officials in 13 states to investigate a spike in Cyclospora illnesses, with 125 confirmed or probable cases reported and no specific food item implicated so far.

love.boat.cyclosporaTexas health officials have been investigating a recent surge of infections, and an outbreak investigation is underway in Maine, with Massachusetts also probing an increase in lab-confirmed cyclosporiasis cases, the CDC said in an e-mail to CIDRAP News. As of today, it said, those 3 states, 10 others, and New York City have reported cases. The other states are Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.

News of a multistate increase in Cyclospora illnesses follows the recent launch of the investigation in Texas. Over the last months the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) has learned of 61 cases around the state, which prompted a recent alert to Texas healthcare providers. No common source has been identified.

Why China still sucks at food safety

Michael Moss and Neil Gough write in the New York Times that China has been scrambling to right its gargantuan processed-food ship ever since six infants died and thousands more were hospitalized with kidney damage in 2008 from milk adulterated with an industrial chemical.

schaffnerBut as the latest scandal involving spoiled meat in fast-food shows, the attempted transformation over the last six years has run up against the country’s centuries-old and sprawling food supply chain.

From factory inspections to product recalls, laboratory testing to prosecutions, China’s emergent food-quality apparatus has turned into reform on the fly, with ever-changing threats and setbacks. Now, the growing presence of big American brands means that the country’s oversight efforts — and its most glaring lapses — are playing out on a global stage.

Friend of the barblog Don Schaffner (right, pretty much as shown) a professor of food microbiology at Rutgers University and president of the International Association for Food Protection, said, “The way I keep explaining China to people is that it’s kind of like the U.S. in the time of Upton Sinclair and ‘The Jungle,’ ” referring to the 1906 novel that described unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry and inspired reform. “There is tremendous desire by the Chinese to get it right, but they have a long way to go.”

The meat episode that started garnering widespread attention on Sunday ensnared a roster of American fast-food giants. It stemmed from a hidden-camera broadcast by Shanghai-based Dragon TV showing processing plant workers using out-of-date chicken and beef to make burger patties and chicken products. Meat that had dropped onto the floor was scooped up and tossed back into the processing machine, the news report showed.

Government investigators have since found that workers at the plant, Shanghai Husi Food, used expired or rotten meat to make Chicken McNuggets, beef patties and other food products totaling more than 5,000 boxes, the official news agency Xinhua reported. One hundred tons of meat products were seized, and on Wednesday police detained five people as part of their inquiry. The factory supplied McDonald’s, KFC and other fast-food restaurants in China, and is a subsidiary of the OSI Group, based in Aurora, Ill.

Along with McDonald’s and KFC, the restaurants that have stopped obtaining supplies from Shanghai Husi include Burger King, Starbucks and the Papa John’s pizza chain. The factory had customers in Japan as well, including McDonald’s Holdings Japan, which said it had sourced about a fifth of its Chicken McNuggets from Shanghai Husi and stopped selling the product on Monday.

schaffner.facebook.apr.14“Company management was appalled by the report and is dealing with the issue directly and quickly” through internal inquiry and cooperation with government investigators, OSI said in a statement. A company spokeswoman declined to answer questions.

The varied and often-stomach-turning episodes in China, along with the growing number of American food companies operating there, have made it a focus of world attention and expert support in the efforts to build its food-quality protections. Events like the government-sponsored China International Food Safety and Quality Conference, which began eight years ago, have been drawing top American experts, from regulators to litigators, who say the challenge China faces is staggering.

“Although China is by outward appearance an incredibly modern and vibrant society, it just doesn’t have a long history of regulatory control, of checks and balances, where somebody is making the decision, ‘If the meat falls on the floor, should I put it back in?’ ” said Bill Marler, a Seattle-based consumer lawyer who has attended the food safety conferences.

Mr. Marler, a leading filer of food-borne illness lawsuits in the United States, cites the lack of a vigorous civil torts system in China as a major hindrance to its food-safety overhaul, arguing that big-dollar cases cause companies to change their ways. But the failings in China’s system range widely, observers said, and persist despite the 2009 update of its Food Hygiene Act with the far-more vigorous Food Safety Law.

There may prove to be a benefit as more American food companies enter the Chinese market. While they are raising public alarm about episodes like this week’s meat scandal, they may also come bearing the expertise to help set things right, Professor Schaffner said.

“They’re not perfect,” he said. “But when companies like McDonald’s and Yum Brands come in, they are bringing high food-safety standards to China, which is good for Chinese suppliers.”

Faith-based food safety has to go after audit deception in China: McDonald’s CEO can do better

Not surprisingly, the China meat scandal has widened.

audit.checklist-241x300McDonald’s Corp feels “a bit deceived” by the audit it received for Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a China supplier that was shut down this week after a TV report showed workers mishandling meat, Chief Executive Don Thompson said on Tuesday.

“We are no longer serving product from the primary facility there that has the challenges and the issues,” Thompson said on a conference call after McDonald’s reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings.

But why would a huge brand rely an audit?

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration on Sunday halted operations of Shanghai Husi following a Dragon TV report that showed workers picking up meat from a factory floor, as well as mixing fresh meat with meat beyond its expiration date.

The scandal also has ensnared other Shanghai Husi customers, including KFC parent Yum Brands Inc and Burger King Worldwide Inc.

Many U.S. restaurant operators and retailers rely on third-party auditors to check whether their suppliers comply with food safety rules and other regulations. It is not uncommon for suppliers at the center of food safety scandals to have received high marks on their audits.

 We wrote, and repeated here, it’s time to change the discussion and the approach to safe food. Time to lose the religion: audits and inspections are never enough.

• Food safety audits and inspections are a key component of the nation’s food safety system and their use will expand in the future, for both domestic and imported foodstuffs, but recent failures can be emotionally, physically and financially devastating to the victims and the businesses involved;

• many outbreaks involve firms that have had their food production systems verified and received acceptable ratings from food safety auditors or government inspectors;

• while inspectors and auditors play an active role in overseeing compliance, the burden for food safety lies primarily with food producers;

• there are lots of limitations with audits and inspections, just like with restaurants inspections, but with an estimated 48 million sick each year in the U.S., the question should be, how best to improve food safety?

• audit reports are only useful if the purchaser or  food producer reviews the results, understands the risks addressed by the standards and makes risk-reduction decisions based on the results;

• there appears to be a disconnect between what auditors provide (a snapshot) and what buyers believe they are doing (a full verification or certification of product and process);

• third-party audits are only one performance indicator and need to be supplemented with microbial testing, second-party audits of suppliers and the in-house capacity to meaningfully assess the results of audits and inspections;

• companies who blame the auditor or inspector for outbreaks of foodborne illness should also blame themselves;

• assessing food-handling practices of staff through internal observations, externally-led evaluations, and audit and inspection results can provide indicators of a food safety culture; and,

• the use of audits to help create, improve, and maintain a genuine food safety culture holds the most promise in preventing foodborne illness and safeguarding public health.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety


Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.


Australian swimmer has gastro, just 24 hours out from the Commonwealth Games opening

A member of the Australian swim team has contracted the Norovirus after more than 50 staff members at Commonwealth Games athletes’ village have been affected by the highly contagious virus otherwise known as gastro.

286783-fee89b38-00cc-11e4-a9df-6cbc2a380379Despite the Games press manager Andrew McMenamin insisting that athletes should not be alarmed, saying the bug had been contained to security personnel, at least one Australian athlete has presented with symptoms and has been quarantined.