Norovirus GII.4 a new strain

A norovirus recombinant GII.P4_NewOrleans_2009/GII.4_Sydney_2012 was first detected in Victoria, Australia, in August 2015 at low frequency, and then re-emerged in June 2016, having undergone genetic changes.

norovirus-qmraAnalysis of 14 years’ surveillance data from Victoria suggests a typical delay of two to seven months between first detection of a new variant and occurrence of a subsequent epidemic linked to that variant. We consider that the current recombinant strain has the potential to become a pandemic variant.

A norovirus intervariant GII.4 recombinant in Victoria, Australia, June 2016: The next epidemic variant?

Euro Surveill. 2016;21(39):pii=30353. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.39.30353

L Bruggink, M Catton, J Marshall

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22594

Wisconsin health officials report two cases of cryptosporidiosis

Waukesha County health officials said Thursday they’re investigating two confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis.

diaper-poolThose affected recently swam at the Princeton Club in New Berlin, but the original source is unknown, a county spokeswoman said.

“Princeton Club has been very cooperative, have followed all Waukesha County Environmental Health requirements and have taken steps that go above and beyond the standards to ensure appropriate prevention steps are taken,” Julianne Davan said in a statement.

She said it’s not uncommon for annual reports of cryptosporidiosis, and the number of cases in Waukesha County this year is consistent with previous years.

Going public – Not: Michigan state epidemiologist didn’t publicly report Flint-area disease outbreak

Jeff Karoub of the Boston Globe reports Michigan’s former state epidemiologist acknowledged in a plea deal Wednesday that she was aware of dozens of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area around the same time the city changed its water source, but that she didn’t report it to the general public.

corrinemiller_1473865031626_46311380_ver1-0_640_480Corrine Miller, the former director of disease control and prevention at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, faced three charges stemming from the investigation into Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis. She pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor of willful neglect of duty in exchange for prosecutors dropping felony misconduct and conspiracy charges.

Flint switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money in 2014. But tests later showed that the river water was improperly treated and coursed through aging pipes and fixtures, releasing toxic lead.

The plea agreement states that Miller was aware of the Legionnaires’ cases in 2014, and reported to someone identified only as ‘‘Suspect 2’’ that the outbreak ‘‘was related to the switch in the water source’’ after compiling data about the illness in Genesee County. No explanation is given in the plea deal as to why the cases weren’t publicly reported.

A definitive connection between the corrosive river water and Legionnaires’ has not been made, but many experts believe it probably was the cause.

 

‘Mouse droppings were everywhere’: a day in the life of a food inspector

Kate Lyons of The Guardian writes: When you’ve been a food safety inspector for as long as Sharon Nkansah, you know how to smell a rat.

sharon-nkansah“Last month, there was a place I inspected [where] I walked in and you could smell it,” she says. “You can smell mouse activity. They had droppings in fridges, where they have their sauces, where they have their cutlery; the droppings were everywhere. So I just said: ‘Pull the shutters down’.”

You also learn tricks to catch out wily business owners. The best time to inspect a suspect business is in the morning, she says, before staff have had a chance to sweep up anything nasty deposited overnight.

Nkansah has worked as a food safety inspector for Newham borough council in east London for 10 years. As we move between businesses throughout the day, she is fun and chatty, talking about her children and her recent holiday, but as soon as she’s in a kitchen, her bright patterned dress is covered with a white coat and her braids are tucked under a hairnet. She becomes brisk, businesslike, at times tough.

Her repeated refrain, delivered to staff at the takeaways she inspects who ask her for food hygiene advice, is: “I am not here to train you, I am here to enforce.”

A firm approach is needed in Newham. A Guardian analysis of Food Standards Agency data found that the borough has the lowest food hygiene scores in the country: 26% of its food businesses fail inspections, rising to 50.4% for takeaways. Far from being embarrassed by these numbers, Matthew Collins, a principal environmental health officer at the council, and Nkansah’s boss, sees them as a point of pride.

“I think it’s an indication that we’re out doing our jobs,” he says.

Nkansah began her career as a chef, but wanted a job with more child-friendly hours after having children, so did a one-year degree in food hygiene and began working as an inspector in Newham.

Cuts to local government funding have meant the number of food inspectors has declined in recent years. The ratio of food safety inspectors to businesses has dropped from 4.2 full-time inspectors per 1,000 food businesses in 2012-13, to 3.7 per 1,000 in 2014-15. This figure is dragged down considerably by England, where there are only 3.2 officers per 1,000 businesses, compared with 5.7 per 1,000 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The job, says Nkansah, is satisfying, but it comes at a cost: she has seen what goes on in the back rooms of takeaways, cafes and restaurants.

Before going to a new restaurant, Nkansah says she always looks up its food safety rating. When asked if she would eat somewhere that scored zero, one or two, Nkansah is appalled. “Absolutely not,” she says.

Pay attention to food sources: Restaurant inspection grades and illness

Restaurants are important settings for foodborne disease outbreaks and consumers are increasingly using restaurant inspection results to guide decisions about where to eat. Although public posting of inspection results may lead to improved sanitary practices in the restaurant, the relationship between inspection results and risk of foodborne illness appears to be pathogen specific.

belgium-rest_-inspect-13To further examine the relationship between inspection results and the risk of foodborne disease outbreaks, we evaluated results of routine inspections conducted in multiple restaurants in a chain (Chain A) that was associated with a large Salmonella outbreak in Illinois. Inspection results were collected from 106 Chain A establishments in eight counties. Forty-six outbreak-associated cases were linked to 23 of these Chain A restaurants. There were no significant differences between the outbreak and non-outbreak restaurants for overall demerit points or for the number of demerit points attributed to hand washing or cross-contamination. Our analyses strongly suggest that the outbreak resulted from consumption of a contaminated fresh produce item without further amplification within individual restaurants. Inspections at these facilities would be unlikely to detect or predict the foodborne illness outbreak because there are no Food Code items in place to stop the introduction of contaminated food from an otherwise approved commercial food source.

The results of our study suggest that the agent and food item pairing and route of transmission must be taken into consideration to improve our understanding of the relationship between inspection results and the risk of foodborne illness in restaurants.

Understanding the relationships between inspection results and risk of foodborne illness in restaurants

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. September 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2137.

Petrona Lee and Craig W. Hedberg

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2137

 

Churchill survived Salmonella that killed his servant on a trip to East Africa

A never-seen-before letter by Winston Churchill has emerged to reveal how the future Prime Minister once escaped a fatal bout of food poisoning which killed his servant instead.

churchill-warThe great wartime leader described how he had eaten the same food as George Scrivings, who became ravaged with salmonella poisoning a short while later.

The valet endured 16 hours of choleraic diarrhea before passing away in 1907 during a trip to East Africa.

After burying the army officer, Churchill wrote a very personal and poignant letter to Scrivings’ wife to break the news to her.

In it he wrote how her husband ‘seems to have eaten some poisonous food’, adding ‘we have all had the same food, for he always ate whatever was prepared for me and others’.

Churchill then speculated: ‘It may be some mouthful of poisoned fish from a tin.’

The little-known episode reveals a previously-unknown close brush with death Churchill had which could have changed the course of history.

His letter to Mrs Scrivings has now emerged for sale at International Autograph Auctions for the first time after being in the hands of a private collector for years.salm-churchill-lett-2

salm-churchill-lett-1

Tell me what I already know: Social media and organic food risks

With the increased popularity of organic food production, new information about the risks attached to food products has become available. Consumers need to make sense of this information, interpret the information in terms of risks and benefits, and consequently choose whether to buy these products or not.

social-media-willyIn this study, we examined how social media mediated interaction with another person impacts risk perception and sense-making regarding eating organic food. Specifically, we investigated how risk perception and sense-making are influenced by the specific message frame, the identity of the conversation partner, the perceived similarity and expertise of this partner, and the initial attitude of individuals.

An online interaction experiment, including a simulated chat in which we manipulated the message frame (gains vs losses vs uncertainty) and the conversation partner (expert vs peer vs anonymous) was conducted using a representative sample of Dutch internet users (n=310). Results showed that chatting with partners who were perceived to be expert was associated with lower levels of risk perception, while chatting with partners who were perceived to be similar was associated with higher levels of information need, intention to take notice, and search for and share information. Results also showed that initial attitude had a strong effect.

The more positive consumers were about eating organic food, the lower their risk perception and the higher their need for information, intention to take notice of, search for and share information following the chat. Implications for authorities communicating on food (risks) are discussed.

Social media mediated interaction with peers, experts, and anonymous authors: Conservation partner and message framing effects on risk perception and sense-making of organic food

Food Quality and Preference, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.09.003

F Hilvera, M Kuttschreuter, E Giebels

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329316301768

At least 1 sick: Sliced turkey and chicken products sold at Tre Rose Bakery in Toronto recalled due to Listeria

Tre Rose Bakery is recalling sliced turkey and chicken products from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

trereose-bakeryThe following product products were sliced and sold at Tre Rose Bakery, 2098 Kipling Avenue, Toronto, Ontario from September 15, 2016 to September 16, 2016, inclusively.

Brand Name//Common Name//Size//Code(s) on Product//UPC

None//Lily O. R. Turkey//Variable//PACKED ON SE.15.16//Starting with 2 100252

None//Classic Turkey//Variable//PACKED ON SE.15.16//Starting with 2 100049

None//Brandt O. R. Chicken//Variable//PACKED ON SE.16.16//Starting with 2 100042

What you should do

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor.

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers who are unsure if they have purchased an affected product are advised to contact the retailer.

This recall was triggered by findings of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as part of an ongoing food borne illness investigation. The CFIA continues to conduct a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products.

There has been one reported illness associated with this investigation.

Inevitability of reproduction – TV cooking show edition

In 2004, my laboratory reported (and by reported I mean published in a peer-reviewed journal) that, based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows, an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.celebrity_chefs4

The abstract is below.

Once the paper was published, it made headlines around the globe.

And then it started getting replicated. Texas, Europe, a few other places, and now Massachusetts.

Compliance With Recommended Food Safety Practices in Television Cooking Shows

Nancy Cohen, Rita Olsen

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2016 Aug 28. pii: S1499-4046(16)30715-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.08.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective

Examine compliance with recommended food safety practices in television cooking shows.

Methods

Using a tool based on the Massachusetts Food Establishment Inspection Report, raters examined 39 episodes from 10 television cooking shows.

Results

Chefs demonstrated conformance with good retail practices for proper use and storage of utensils in 78% of episodes; preventing contamination (62%), and fingernail care (82%). However, 50% to 88% of episodes were found to be out of compliance with other personal hygiene practices, proper use of gloves and barriers (85% to 100%), and maintaining proper time and temperature controls (93%). Over 90% failed to conform to recommendations regarding preventing contamination through wiping cloths and washing produce. In only 13% of episodes were food safety practices mentioned.

Conclusions and Implications

There appears to be little attention to food safety during most cooking shows. Celebrity and competing chefs have the opportunity to model and teach good food safety practices for millions of viewers.

 Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

Beware those samples: 24 students in Phillipines barfing

At least 24 students are being treated inside the emergency room of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) after they complained of vomiting, abdominal pain and dizziness Wednesday, September 28.

concord-national-school-in-barangay-basak-san-nicolasThe students, from Concord National School in Barangay Basak San Nicolas, vomited at least five times after reportedly drinking a bottled coffee drink, which was distributed as sample at the school past 3 p.m. Wednesday.

According to Kenneth Siasar, hospital administrator of CCMC, the patients are now in stable condition.