68 sick: 3.1 million ‘Sippee’ cups recalled due to mold

Sippe cups, those seemingly indestructible vessels that toddlers use to quench their thirst have a problem: mold can accumulate.

Tommee Tippee Sippee cupsI used to clean ours with toothpics or thin metal skewers, but that was after hundreds of uses.

Mayborn USA is recalling more than 3 million of their spill-proof Tommee Tippee Sippee cups. The recall affects five types of cups: First Sips Transition cup, Trainer Sippee cup, Sippee cup (including Cute Quips), Sportee bottle and Insulated Swiggle/Sippee tumblers.

All of them have a removable valve, which the Consumer Product Safety Commission says can develop mold if not cleaned well. The agency said 68 kids have gotten sick.

Their symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, consistent with drinking from a cup containing mold.

Officials investigate link between 3 children with shiga-toxin E. coli and Fairfax Creek in Calif.

Richard Halstead of the Marin Independent Journal writes two young children, one a 2-year-old Fairfax resident, have been diagnosed with a toxin-producing form of E. coli, and Marin public health officials are investigating the possibility that the source of the bacteria was a creek that runs through Peri Park in downtown Fairfax.

periparkA third child, a 3-year-old San Anselmo resident, has also displayed symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of E. coli, but tests results are still pending. The second confirmed E. coli case is a 3-year-old resident of Truckee. All three children played in Peri Park’s Fairfax Creek not long before becoming ill.

“We have not yet confirmed that water contamination is the source,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County’s deputy public health officer.

Rebecca Ng, deputy director of Marin County’s environmental health department, said, “We took water samples this morning.”

Test results from those samples weren’t available Thursday; but Santora said they will show only whether there is coliform bacteria in the creek, not whether the type of E. coli that caused these illnesses is present there. Coliform bacteria is found in the intestinal tract of humans and other animals.

Fairfax Town Manager Garrett Toy said the creek is polluted from storm drain runoff and could contain feces from dogs, deer or other animals.

“It’s a creek; there is always going to be bacteria in the creek,” Toy said. “You really shouldn’t be consuming water from the creek even if it is by accident.”

Santora said the Truckee child was the first to become ill and was hospitalized May 8-9 at Marin General Hospital. The Fairfax child became ill on May 15, and the San Anselmo child became ill on May 21.

Neither of the Marin County children have been hospitalized. Santora said she didn’t have current information on the medical condition of any of the children.

The illnesses have caused a flurry of postings on the social media site Nextdoor. According to one posting, the Truckee child was transferred to the University of California at Davis Medical Center in Sacramento after his kidneys began to fail and is responding well to intravenous therapy and blood transfusions.

But will it make fewer people barf? US FDA issues final food defense regulation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today finalized a new food safety rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent wide-scale public health harm by requiring companies in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent intentional adulteration of the food supply. While such acts are unlikely to occur, the new rule advances mitigation strategies to further protect the food supply.

imagesUnder the new rule, both domestic and foreign food facilities, for the first time, are required to complete and maintain a written food defense plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate contamination where the intent is to cause wide-scale public health harm. Facilities now have to identify and implement mitigation strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish food defense monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to these areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.

“Today’s final rule on intentional adulteration will further strengthen the safety of an increasingly global and complex food supply,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., incoming deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, FDA. “The rule will work in concert with other components of FSMA by preventing food safety problems before they occur.”

The rule was proposed in December 2013 and takes into consideration more than 200 comments submitted by the food industry, government regulatory partners, consumer advocates and others.

BBQs work: Cooking squirrel with blowtorch to cost Michigan tenant $2M after complex gutted

A woman whose boyfriend sparked a 2012 apartment fire using a blowtorch on a squirrel is on the hook for $2 million in damages to the Holland Township complex, the Court of Appeals ruled.

grey.squirrel.eatWednesday’s ruling reverses a lower court decision that held Barbara Pellow responsible for only $15,400 in damages caused by the Oct. 10 blaze that consumed 32 units at ClearView Apartments.

The woman’s boyfriend, Khek Chanthalavong, had been using a blowtorch to remove fur from the squirrel on a wooden deck. Owners of the complex claimed cooking a squirrel on the deck violated her rental agreement.

Even though her boyfriend caused the fire, Pellow is still liable under a lease agreement for what justices described as a “fur-burning escapade.”

“Because defendant signed the lease agreement, she is presumed to have read and understood its contents,” the three-judge panel wrote.

Dozens of people at ClearView Apartments in Holland Township lost everything in the fire. Insurance carrier Travelers Indemnity Co. paid out more than $2 million to repair the damage.

The boyfriend left the torch on the deck and went into the apartment. When he returned 15 minutes later, he discovered the fire.

National Chicken Council petitions FSIS for labelling law for frozen chicken thingies

Labels aren’t the same as risk communication. And it’s not clear how effective they are as behavior change vehicles.

Information and safe handling labels can provide the basics, if developed in a science-based manner, but as the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection said in 2014, risk communication folks should really be involved in message crafting and evaluating effectiveness.

The frozen chicken thingie outbreaks are starting to matter. Like these two in 2015.Barber-Foods-stuffed-chicken-breasts

In an effort to ensure safe eating experiences and address potential consumer confusion, the National Chicken Council (NCC) has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for mandatory labelling of raw, stuffed chicken products that may appear cooked and ready-to-eat.

Specifically, NCC is requesting that the agency take the following actions:

Conduct a rulemaking to adopt a regulation requiring that not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat be prominently and uniformly labelled to clearly inform consumers that the products are raw and how to properly handle and cook them; and

Publish a Compliance Guideline explaining how to validate cooking instructions for not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat, which incorporates NCC’s “Best Practices for Cooking Instruction Validation for Frozen NRTE Stuffed Chicken Breast Products.”

“NCC increasingly is aware that some consumers may be uncertain of the proper handling and cooking methods for not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that may appear ready-to-eat, and the proposed measures are necessary to ensure proper handling and cooking of these products,” said NCC President Mike Brown in the petition.

“This labelling would clearly inform consumers that these products are raw and require proper cooking while providing specific and uniform instructions on how to cook the products.”

FSIS has had labeling guidance out for a while. Making it a rule will help with consistency of info but it’s not a magic bullet.

Oh, and this:

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products
01.nov.09
British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820
Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

EU provides millions to enhance food safety in Georgia

I can’t figure why the EU has such an interest in Georgia’s food safety. Why not Montana? Or Rhode Island? Or Oklahoma.

I know some good folks at the Georgia Dept of Ag. And UGA is there.

Oh, it’s a different Georgia. The one that’s a country in Europe at the intersection of Eastern Europe and West Asia.

Georgia will receive €50 million from the European Union to improve national food safety standards.

A special agreement will be signed today in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi that outlines the start of the second phase of cooperation to establish food safety standards in Georgia.

The cooperation launched under the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), which promotes agriculture and rural development policies and reforms to stimulate employment and improve the living conditions of Georgia’s rural population.

The main goal of the cooperation was to improve food safety and quality standards in Georgia, and improve the ways these standards and monitored and controlled.

The first phase included reforming and strengthening Governmental structures and building the capacity and capabilities of small farmers in Georgia to reduce poverty in Georgia’s rural areas.

From the joint cooperation between ENPARD and the Government, about 1,000 cooperatives were established and registered in Georgia and 52 consultation centres were created around the country to improve farmers’ access to agricultural information.

Hockey road trip food safety: Listeria edition

I spent most of the day yesterday in a car driving from Raleigh to Buffalo en route to Toronto. We’re making the migration for a hockey tournament that Jack is playing in and doing food safety stuff along the way. Like snapping pictures of handwashing signs.

Somewhere in Appalachia I chatted with Live Science’s Sara Miller about frozen foods, Listeria and stuff that’s not ready-to-eat.

Listeria can live for a really long time in the freezer, said Benjamin Chapman, a food-safety specialist and an associate professor at North Carolina State University.10425873_10154932050770367_6908638488334872961_n

In fact, freezing is how scientists preserve bacteria when they want to study the organisms in the lab, Chapman told Live Science.

While Listeria is not ubiquitous, it is very common in raw foods, Chapman said. Most people ingest some Listeria daily, but not in high amounts, and those individuals are fine, he said. It takes, on average, thousands of Listeria cells to make a person sick, he said.

But when Listeria does make someone sick, “it’s one of the most fatal pathogens we have,” Chapman said.

Several CDC reports of Listeria outbreaks found that the infection’s mortality rate was between 15 and 20 percent among people who became sick enough that they had to be hospitalized.

To protect yourself against Listeria, frozen vegetables should be cooked before they are eaten, Chapman said. Heating the foods kills Listeria, he said.

In fact, frozen vegetables are not considered “ready to eat” products, meaning that the foods should not be eaten raw, Chapman said. Though eating raw, frozen vegetables may sound unusual, frozen kale, for example, is increasingly being used in smoothies, he said. And it’s not uncommon for pediatricians to recommend letting young children chew and suck on frozen veggies while teething, he added.

Chapman noted that microwaving these foods is not the best way to prepare them. That’s because microwaves provide very uneven heat distribution, Chapman said. The food will get very hot in some places and not hot in other places, he said. In other words, the bacteria might not be killed throughout the food.

He also recommended avoiding thawing frozen vegetables in the refrigerator. This can be risky, especially if a person leaves the food in the refrigerator for multiple days, he said. (sort of, this one didn’t translate very well as I was traveling through a mountain tunnel- thawing in the fridge is cool, leaving uncooked thawed frozen veggies in the fridge for a long time – like a week – especially if the temp is above 41F isn’t great -ben).

19-year-old dies in Oslo from suspected food poisoning

Nyheter reports police have initiated an investigation after a 19-year-old boy died in Oslo on Tuesday.

oslo-university-hospital-ambul_10876310Oslo police are assisting health authorities to find out why 19-year-old died suddenly.

The preliminary autopsy report does not give a clear answer on the cause of death, but it is less likely that it concerns a source of infection. It has probably happened a type of food poisoning, says section leader Rune Shields by Finance and Environmental Crime Section of the Oslo police.

Police have sealed off the family’s home and seized food, but there is no suspicion that there has been no crime.

We have taken a great deal of products at their home, which will now be analyzed, says Shields.

The 17-year-old sister of 19-year-old is too ill. Her condition has been critical, but during the past day has stabilized, police said.

The 19-year-old was a guest at a restaurant in Oslo before he became ill, but not her sister. As things stand now, it is most likely that food poisoning happened at their home.

Infection Control Superior in Oslo, Tore W. Steen, confirmed that he is involved in the case.

Could Alzheimer’s stem from infections like Salmonella

Gina Kolata of The New York Times reports on new research by a team of investigators at Harvard which suggests Alzheimer’s disease stems from the toxic remnants of the brain’s attempt to fight off infection.

salm.alzIt is still early days, but Alzheimer’s experts not associated with the work are captivated by the idea that infections, including ones that are too mild to elicit symptoms, may produce a fierce reaction that leaves debris in the brain, causing Alzheimer’s. The idea is surprising, but it makes sense, and the Harvard group’s data, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, supports it. If it holds up, the hypothesis has major implications for preventing and treating this degenerative brain disease.

The Harvard researchers report a scenario seemingly out of science fiction. A virus, fungus or bacterium gets into the brain, passing through a membrane — the blood-brain barrier — that becomes leaky as people age. The brain’s defense system rushes in to stop the invader by making a sticky cage out of proteins, called beta amyloid. The microbe, like a fly in a spider web, becomes trapped in the cage and dies. What is left behind is the cage — a plaque that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

So far, the group has confirmed this hypothesis in neurons growing in petri dishes as well as in yeast, roundworms, fruit flies and mice. There is much more work to be done to determine if a similar sequence happens in humans, but plans — and funding — are in place to start those studies, involving a multicenter project that will examine human brains.

“It’s interesting and provocative,” said Dr. Michael W. Weiner, a radiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a principal investigator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a large national effort to track the progression of the disease and look for biomarkers like blood proteins and brain imaging to signal the disease’s presence.

The work began when Robert D. Moir, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, had an idea about the function of amyloid proteins, normal brain proteins whose role had long been a mystery.

The proteins were traditionally thought to be garbage that accumulates in the brain with age. But Dr. Moir noticed that they looked a lot like proteins of the innate immune system, a primitive system that is the body’s first line of defense against infections.

Elsewhere in the body, such proteins trap microbes — viruses, fungi, yeast and bacteria. Then white blood cells come by and clear up the mess. Perhaps amyloid was part of this system, Dr. Moir thought.

glen-campbell-ill-be-me-movie-reviewHe began collaborating with Rudolph E. Tanzi, also at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The idea was to see if amyloid trapped microbes in living animals and if mice without amyloid proteins were quickly ravaged by infections that amyloid could have stopped.

The answers, they reported, were yes and yes.

In one study, the group injected Salmonella bacteria into the brains of young mice that did not have plaques.

“Overnight, the bacteria seeded plaques,” Dr. Tanzi said. “The hippocampus was full of plaques, and each plaque had a single bacterium at its center.”

In contrast, mice that did not make beta amyloid succumbed more quickly to the bacterial infection, and did not make plaques.