144 sick: What does government do? Nothing. Salmonella in Australian lettuce could have been limited

Jeanette Severs of Stock and Land reports that Victoria’s health department could have prevented an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning from eating lettuce, as the number of suspected cases, nationally, rose to 144.

lettuce.skull.noroWhile 108 Victorian people were identified suffering from Salmonella Anatum, the same bacteria identified in lettuce last week, only nine cases were confirmed linked to consumption of the lettuce product. They were joined by one confirmed case in NSW.

But there were also serious doubts about how many people identified suffering from the bacteria, could blame the lettuce from Tripod Farmers.

Victoria’s health department spokesperson, Bram Alexander, told Stock & Land the health department also ignored a batch of Tripod Farmers lettuce identified with the bacteria on January 21.

Tripod Farmers confirmed they were notified on January 22 that a sample from a batch of product tested positive to Salmonella Anatum.

“There was one earlier positive test of the product detected on January 21, but the product was out of date,” Mr Alexander said.

Uh-huh.

He said action was not taken because no one would have consumed the product past its use-by date and there had been no noticeable spike in Salmonella diagnoses as far as the health department was concerned.

“Lettuce has a relatively short shelf life, so that in itself did not raise the temperature,” he said.

lettuce“The temperature was raised last Wednesday, when there was a spike in cases reported.

“From food histories taken from some people and testing, there were some definite genotyping links to Salmonella Anatum in those people and the bacterium identified at Tripod Farmers’ processing plant.”

Tripod Farmers’ managing director Frank Ruffo snr said the company detected the Salmonella Anatum bacteria through its normal testing procedures; where each batch of product was tested.

The entire processing plant underwent sterile cleaning, additional to its daily cleaning regime.

“We immediately recalled the entire production batches. Unfortunately, because the supermarkets are no longer taking the product, we’ve had to suspend part of the farming and processing operations,” he said.

Ausveg wanted to assure consumers their safety was paramount.

“The number one priority of the industry is the safety of the consumer. Salad leaf products on the supermarket shelf are safe,” said spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.

Retailers need to turn over new leaf

10.feb.16

Courier Mail

Doug Powell

Lettuce is overrated.

I prefer a cut-up variety of fibre-rich vegetables. A few years ago I toured my local supermarket with the two heads of food safety – both now gone.

We spent about two hours going through the store and I pointed out labelling problems, lack of hygiene and asked how were consumers supposed to know what food was safe?

Now there is a problem with bagged lettuce packaged up and served at some supermarkets interstate, with 28 (144) people sick. This is nothing new.

But it is tragic that people continue to get sick from the food that should nourish them. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Because they are fresh, anything that comes in contact has the potential to contaminate.That means food safety starts on the farm.

Washing produce may make you feel better and government agencies advocate washing, but with fresh produce washing does little.

It may remove some of the stuff that a three-year-old sneezed on it but, microbiologically, not much else.

The key is to have programs in place to reduce contamination.

Twenty years ago, my lab started working with Canadian farmers to limit contamination on fresh produce farms.

Of particular importance was quality of irrigation water, manure and employee handwashing.

You see a bird, I see a salmonella factory. We can’t kill all the birds but we can take appropriate steps to reduce risk.

Fresh produce has been the leading cause of foodborne illness in North America for two decades.

Right now there is an outbreak of listeria on Dole-packaged salads in Canada and the US that has killed two and made 20 ill. Are packaged salads the villain?

Yes and no.

There has been much debate in the food safety community over whether pre-packaged salads are a good thing or a bad thing

I agree with a scientific advisory committee in the US that pre-packaged salads are safer because your sink is a pool of germs.

But only if the companies producing the stuff – and making the profit – can prove it.

During one of my many supermarket trips, I asked the store manager if he washed pre-packaged greens. He replied, “Of course, why wouldn’t I, my wife does it.”

Oh, Australia.

There are no labels with recommendations on pre-packaged salads in Australia. There are no guidelines. There is no public disclosure.

If 28 people got sick, there’s a lot more for it to bubble up to Australian media.Retailers should be clear about practices and sourcing. And they should market food safety.

One means of doing this is to make sure the packaging of the produce they’re selling contains information about not only where the product was sourced but how it was produced – the farming practices. This could be as simple as including a URL address consumers can visit for information about the product or a QR code they can scan with their smartphone.

Dr Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety in Canada and the US who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane.

Hep A outbreak leads to restaurant disclosure in NJ

Hamilton unveiled a searchable website Monday that lists inspection ratings for the township’s 500 restaurants and retail food shops in hopes of giving diners a greater peace of mind.

sopranos.food“This new website will not only provide our local restaurants patrons with added transparency to enhance consumer confidence, but will also encourage food establishments to hold themselves accountable to the highest health standards, knowing that this information will be easily accessible by the public,” Mayor Kelly Yaede said.

The website was prompted, in part, by the Hepatitis A health scare that hit the township in late 2014. In late November, a food handler at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering fell ill with the disease and in the months following, three people who ate at the restaurant contracted the disease.

Inspection reports later revealed the restaurant had a history of health violations.

Last month, Rosa’s quietly announced that it was closing its doors, but would continue the catering portion of the business.

Yaede said all retail food establishments are inspected annually and receive ratings of “satisfactory,” “continually satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” The new database shows the three most recent inspection results.

Users may search the new site, hamiltonnj.com/foodsafety, by establishment name or address.

Prison inmate who got sick from eating bad chicken gets $350 in damages, court says

A federal prison inmate who sued for $130,000 in damages after he became sick from eating chicken tainted with salmonella will have to be content with the $350 granted him by a U.S. Middle District judge.

Eugene K. Brinson is among more than 500 inmates who sued the U.S. government following a June 2011 salmonella outbreak at the federal penitentiary at Canaan in northeastern Pennsylvania. Most of those lawsuits were settled for a total of around $700,000.

Brinson appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, challenging the $350 in damages district Judge Matthew W. Brann awarded in his case. A panel of the appeals court upheld Brann’s decision in a recent ruling.

Retailers need to turn over a new leaf

My op-ed on Salmonella and lettuce got published this morning by the Brisbane Courier-Mail so here it is again.

lettuceLettuce is overrated.

I prefer a cut-up variety of fibre-rich vegetables.

A few years ago I toured my local Coles supermarket with the two heads of food safety – both now gone.

We spent about 2 hours going through the store and I pointed out labeling problems, lack of hygiene, and asked, how were consumers supposed to know what food was safe?

Now there is a problem with bagged lettuce packaged up and served at Coles, Woolies, and elsewhere, with 28 people sick.

This is nothing new.

But it’s tragic that people continue to get sick from the food that should nourish them.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet.

Because they are fresh, anything that comes in contact has the potential to contaminate.

That means food safety starts on the farm.

Washing produce may make you feel better, and government agencies advocate washing, but with fresh produce, washing does little.

It may remove some of the snot that a 3-year-old sneezed on it, but microbiologically, not much else.

The key is to have programs in place to reduce contamination.

Twenty years ago, my lab started working with Canadian farmers to limit contamination on fresh produce farms.

Of particular importance: quality of irrigation water, manure, and employee handwashing.

You see a bird, I see a Salmonella factory. We can’t kill all the birds, but we can take appropriate steps to reduce risk.

Fresh produce has been the leading cause of foodborne illness in North America for two decades.

Right now there is an outbreak of Listeria on Dole packaged salads in Canada and the U.S. that has killed two and sickened 20.

Are packaged salads the villain?

Yes and no.

There has been much debate in the food safety community over whether pre-packaged salads are a good thing or a bad thing.

I agree with a scientific advisory committee in the U.S. that said pre-packaged salads are safer because your sink is a pool of germs.

But only if the companies producing the stuff – and making the profit – can prove it.

During one of my many trips to Coles, I asked the store manager if he washes pre-packaged greens.

He replied, “Of course, why wouldn’t I, my wife does it.”

Oh, Australia.

There are no labels with recommendations on pre-packaged salads in Australia.

There are no guidelines.

There is no public disclosure.

If 28 people got sick, there’s a lot more for it to bubble up to Australian media.

Retailers should be clear about practices and sourcing.

And they should market food safety.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety in Canada and the U.S. who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia. And coaches ice hockey.

Chipotle, are you listening? ‘Food businesses in Ireland must recognize that the legal onus is on them to make sure that the food they sell or serve is safe to eat’

The Food Safety Authority served two enforcement orders on food businesses last month.

barf.o.meter.dec.12The first was a closure order served on Earl’s Delicatessen restaurant at the School of Architecture at University College Dublin in Clonskeagh. The order was lifted two days later.

A prohibition order was also served on Sheahans Butchers in Church Street, Kerry.

During the month of January, two successful prosecutions were carried out by the HSE on Kelleghan Catering Food Stall in Tallow, Waterford and Millbridge Meats butcher in Kimmacrennan, Donegal.

Commenting on enforcement orders served in January, Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive of the FSAI said food businesses need to be vigilant at all times in relation to food safety to ensure full compliance with food legislation.

“Food businesses must recognise that the legal onus is on them to make sure that the food they sell or serve is safe to eat,” she said. “This requires ongoing compliance with food safety and hygiene standards.”

 

Surveys still suck: US consumers definition of food safety expanded, so provide them info

Health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience, and transparency are all factors 51 percent of consumers weigh when determining which food items to purchase, according to a joint study from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Food Marketing Institute (FMI), and consulting firm Deloitte.

survey-saysThe study, “Capitalizing on the Shifting Consumer Food Value Equation,” [PDF] found these new factors influence purchasing decisions in addition to traditional drivers like taste, price, and convenience.

There’s a shift in the way people think about food safety. “Americans no longer define the concept of food safety based on near-term risks to their health,” a joint news release said.

According to the survey, 75 percent of consumers include health, wellness, and transparency in their definition of food safety. Other factors consumers included in their definition of food safety: free from harmful ingredients (62 percent); clear and accurate labeling (51 percent); and fewer ingredients, processing, and no artificial ingredients (42 percent).

“Today’s consumers have a higher thirst for knowledge than previous generations and they are putting the assessment of that information into their value equation,” said GMA Operations and Industry Collaboration Senior Executive Vice President Jim Flannery. “Brands that win with consumers will likely be those that provide the information they seek, well beyond what is on the label.”

South Africa doesn’t have capacity to forecast, track a foodborne disease

A University of Pretoria (UP) food safety expert warns South Africa does not have adequate capacity to forecast and track a foodborne disease.

140818supermarket-jpgProfessor Lise Korsten has told a parliamentary workshop food safety is compromised due to a lack of integrated regulation.

Korsten says providing quality produce to poor communities remains the biggest challenge to food security.

She adds that the lack of an independent regulatory body to ensure food safety further compounds concern around the level of toxins in some food.

Korsten says while several policies have been drafted, no integrated system exists to curb foodborne diseases.

She adds industry and government need to be transparent and accountable regarding food certification.

UK restaurant owner jailed for food hygiene ‘one of the worst cases in 20 years’

The owner of a restaurant that was so filthy a food safety officer said it was one of the worst cases he has seen in more than 20 years has been jailed.

Alomgir-QureshiAlomigir Qureshi, 47, was also sentenced for employing an illegal immigrant at his Chai Wallah restaurant on Yarm High Street and for breaching a suspended sentence he received in 2013 – also for employing failed asylum seekers.

Qureshi, of Brisbane Grove, Hartburn, Stockton was jailed for a total of 21 months at Teesside Crown Court earlier today (Friday, January 29).

Richard Bennett, prosecuting for both the Crown and Stockton Borough Council, told the court that the council’s food safety officers were tipped off by a member of the public who had been served chicken which was raw in the middle and another person who was concerned that the chef’s clothing “appeared filthy”.

Inspectors found dirty tea towels thrown over eggs and dough as well as dirty food preparation and storage areas, shelves and pipework. Mr Bennett said: “In the opinion of the inspectors there was a total disregard for food safety and no evidence of any good hygiene practice.”

Chipotle closed for wankfest

That was a boring super bowl, full of gimmicks and a quarterback pushing Bud Light as his soundbite, but it won’t be as boring as Chipotle’s two-hour wankfest when they close their almost 2,000 outlets for a food safety pep talk.

kenny.diarrheaIt’s not food safety, it’s a marketing gimmick (which is how Chipotle has been getting money all along).

Chipotle is closed for the next couple of hours.

And they’re going to show how much they know about food safety risk communication.

Or how bad their PR consultants are.

The meeting will go over an improved farm-to-fork food safety program, which the chain implemented in January. It includes paid sick leave to make sure employees will stay home when they’re sick, DNA-based testing of ingredients before they’re shipped to restaurants and some changes in food preparation protocols.

Why didn’t they do this before?

Because there’s money to be made in marketing hucksterism.

Ask Dr. Oz.

About 500 people got sick last year from outbreaks due to Norovirus, E. coli O26 and Salmonella,, including an entire basketball team at Boston College. Some of the sickened diners have sued Chipotle. Profits plunged 44% in the fourth quarter compared to the year before. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the company for possible criminal activity.

Oh, they’ll also be launching a new website today, according to the aptly named Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief creative and development officer.

“The creative for this campaign, with one small exception, does not mention food safety or the recent incidents,” he said. “Instead, it reinforces our commitment to high-quality ingredients and great-tasting food.”

Market food safety. High-quality ingredients don’t mean shit (literally and metaphorically).

Beating up on Chipotle and hucksterism gets tiring. So let John Oliver do it.