Hundreds get food poisoning from free meal in Myanmar

 

I used to look like Buddhist, Richard Gere, but I’ve aged and he hasn’t.

A free lunch for villagers in southern Myanmar turned sour after it landed more than a third of the rural community in hospital with food poisoning.

Hundreds of villagers from Eain Ta Lone, west of Yangon, fell ill after eating fish stew served at a Buddhist ceremony to celebrate the ordination of local novices.

The entire 1,000-person village was taken to the nearest hospital, where 367 were admitted for treatment, said charity worker Wai Lin Aung, who helped to transport the villagers. ‘

Too much monkey business: Brisbane’s restaurant inspection sucks, city councillor’s parents fined for food safety breaches

The restaurant inspection system in Brisbane is hopeless beyond belief.

For a cow town that wants to profit from tourism rather than coal and cattle, they are beyond stupid about it.

At least we got good folks to coach the little kids in hockey.

The disclosure system is voluntary. If a restaurant gets two-stars-out-of-five, for example, they don’t put up the sign.

How is it that Toronto, LA, NYC and hundreds of other places figured out how to make restaurant inspection disclosure mandatory, yet Brisbane and most of Australia go on a faith-based system – which usually involves someone blowing someone.

According to the Courier Mail, the parents of a Brisbane city councillor have admitted breaking food safety laws enforced by the council, with inspectors finding cockroaches “happily living” in the carvery they run in a city foodcourt.

Paddington councillor Peter Matic’s parents Milovan and Milena Matic were slapped with fines after a council health inspector unearthed issues with cleanliness, maintenance and cockroaches at their Carvey and Seafood in the Myer Centre in January last year.

The couple were fined $3000 each after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the business complied with the food Act.

The company, Nano Investments Pty Ltd, also copped a $29,000 fine for five counts of failing to comply with the food standards code.

Kevin Cartledge, for Brisbane City Council, said officers inspected the eatery on January 19, 2016, and issued an improvement notice.

So a whole bunch of people ate at that shitshow after the Jan. 19, 2016 inspection, but no one bothered to tell customers.

It’s some perverse British legal system thing, that potentially puts consumers at risk for months after the failings are discovered.

When they returned two days later, the officers discovered the business was still breaching food safety laws, triggering a suspension the following day.

He said the most concerning element was the presence of a large number of cockroaches.

“You have, essentially, the perfect circumstances for cockroaches to live and breed,” he said.

“Given that there were adult and juvenile cockroaches in the premises, it clearly suggests that there was a life cycle and these cockroaches were happily living and feeding.”

He pointed out the company has had compliance issues in the past, and infringements notices had been served.

“This is a company that has been put well and truly on notice yet has still failed to comply with their requirements under the Act,” he said.

So why the fuck wouldn’t you make it public to warn unsuspecting consumers that the place was a shithole?

Too much monkey business.

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

Steak tartare: A special kind of stupid

A favorite line in the ice hockey linesman course I take every year to be recertified is, “that player exhibited a special kind of stupid”

Cooks and purveyors of food porn exhibit their own special kind of stupid, especially around raw beef.

The N.Y. Times continues its long history of bad food porn-based advice because, they’re New Yorkers, and they are their own special kind of stupid: at least the uppity ones.

Gabrielle Hamilton writes in the New York Times Cooking section that a hand-chopped mound of cold raw beef, seasoned perfectly, at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day, with a cold glass of the hair of the Champagne dog that bit you the night before, will make a new man out of you.

Hamilton writes the recipe calls for 8-10 ounces highest-quality beef tenderloin … and to nestle each yolk, still in its half shell if using raw, into the mound, and let each guest turn the yolk out onto the tartare before eating.

Nary a mention of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli or Salmonella or Campylobacter.

Food Safety Talk 122: Isn’t that Ampersand?

This episode opens with an interesting discovery about the messages app then quickly veers into popular culture, and almost as quickly back to food safety.  Food safety talk on rice and Bacillus cereus is followed by a discussion of the Salmonella in truffle oil outbreak at Fig & Olive restaurants.  The discussion then turns to recalls and when to go public. A recent Listeria recall linked to cheese made from pasteurized milk leads to talk about raw milk, followed by a brief segue into North Carolina life, and then on to a recent Lysol ad, and the five second rule. The show wraps up with a discussion of recipe safety, followed by what Ben thinks might be the best after dark ever.

Episode 122 can be found here and on iTunes.

Leftover rice risks from Lifehacker

One of my former roommates was a straight edge punk-loving vegan for a while. Now he eats meat and drinks beer, but for a while he survived on rice and sriracha. Sometimes he left his steamed rice out overnight – making some egg-free fried rice the next day. This was before either of us knew much about Bacillus cereus and rice.

Earlier this week Claire Lower from Lifehacker emailed a couple of questions about leftover rice safety. The Lifehacker folks often ask really good questions about the science and why behind food safety recommendations – Claire included. Claire wanted to know why some guidelines say not to leave rice out on the stove over night.

I sent Claire a couple of papers including this one which is an oldie (1974), but a goodie from Gilbert and colleagues which included this awesome B. cereus spore/vegetative cell growth figure (right, exactly as shown) highlighting anincrease of a log or more within 4 hours once in vegetative state.

We looped Don into our discussion and he pointed out the somewhat common practice of boiled and then fried rice in some Asian cooking techniques.

According to Benjamin Chapman, Food Safety Specialist from North Carolina State University, cooking rice doesn’t necessarily kill all the pathogens that may be lurking about. “The issue with rice,” he explained to me over email, “is that one pathogen, Bacillus cereus, is quite prevalent in dried rice (some sources say ubiquitous), likely as spores. The spores may survive cooking. If cooked rice is subsequently held at room temperature, the spores can come out of their protective form, germinate, and vegetative forms multiply. The cooked rice environment provides a lot of water and nutrients for growth. As a by-product of growth, they create a couple of toxins, including a heat-stable one.”

Beyond refrigerating any home-cooked rice, a sense of vigilance is helpful when dining out. According to food scientist Donald Schaffner of Rutgers University, some restaurants “cook up a large batch of rice, hold it at room temperature all day,” and then take portions from the batch as needed. “Because Bacillus makes a heat stable toxin,” he explained “this is not a best practice, and has led to outbreaks in the past.” “Heat stable” means that the toxin can survive boiling and, once the rice is cooled into the “danger zone” of 59-122°F, the bacteria can multiply, making even more of the toxin. Sushi rice, he noted, shouldn’t be a problem as vinegar is added to lower the pH, allowing it to be held safely at room temperature.

Seattle’s Crab Pot source of foodborne outbreak

Any place called the Crab Pot should welcome foodborne illness, or other STDs.

King County public health investigated an outbreak of gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea associated with The Crab Pot restaurant located at 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle. Five people from the same meal party became ill after eating at the restaurant on 3/4/2017. We do not have laboratory confirmation of the etiology, but symptoms are suggestive of norovirus. Often in norovirus outbreaks no laboratory testing is done.

5 sick: Salmonella outbreak in Adelaide linked to pies

After five years I’m slowly starting to learn Australian.

But really, I can’t understand most of what the locals say.

I smile and wave.

Meat pies produced by a single manufacturer, the Pork Pie Shop in Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide has sickened at least 5 people with Salmonella.

Just cook it doesn’t cut it.

The business has stopped production of the pies and is working on a recall.

The pies are currently stocked by about 30 retailers, including independent supermarkets, delis and butchers across metropolitan Adelaide.

The five salmonella cases have involved people aged 54 to 80. Four of those people have been hospitalised.

The pies — which contain pork, aspic jelly and sometimes veal — were made by the Pork Pie Shop at Victor Harbor and distributed to dozens of supermarkets, delis and butchers across Adelaide, have so far been linked to five cases of salmonella food poisoning.

The five people affected are aged 54 to 80 years of age and of those, four have been hospitalised.

SA Health director of food and controlled drugs Dr Fay Jenkins confirmed five cases of salmonella have been linked to the products from the manufacturer so far.

“The business has since ceased the manufacturing of both products until further notice and is working to recall the pies,” she said.

“Both the pork pies and Ascot pies are stocked at around 30 businesses including independent supermarkets, delis and butchers across metropolitan Adelaide.

“We are working with the manufacturer to ensure the pies will be removed from supply from all stockists as soon as possible.”

Dr Jenkins said people should not consume either products.

“As a precaution, SA Health recommends anyone who has pork or Ascot pies in their home to contact the place of purchase to confirm if the product is from The Pork Pie Shop,” she said.

“If so, people should either discard the pie immediately or return it to the place of purchase.

“Products from other manufacturers will be safe to consume and there is no reason for people to be concerned.” 

23 sick: E. coli O157 from I.M. Healthy soy nut butter

And who produces this shit that someone slaps a label on? According to legal eagle Bill Marler, it’s Dixie Dew Soy Nut Butter.

What follows is a joint composition, like Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, except we can’t figure out how to post it appropriately, and despite years of asking journalists to make us look cool, we recognize our role in life (hockey coaches).

And since there will be no royalties to haggle over, it’s not a concern.

In 2007, CDC foodborne illness outbreak guru Rob Tauxe told a group of food safety folks that the next big thing for food safety was low-moisture ingredients.

Salmonella is hardy, especially when stressed through drying, so it sticks around for a while in dry ingredients.

The comments were post-Salmonella Tennessee in Peter Pan peanut butter and pre-Salmonella Wandsworth in Veggie Booty (and other outbreaks) and he talked about dried spices and flavorings and peanut butter-type products like hummus and tahini.

Since Rob’s talk, the food safety community has seen lots of Salmonella in low- moisture foods like nuts, spices, chia seed powder and food grade lime stone

Not a food, but the pathogen has even been shown to persist in playground sand.

There’s  been Listeria in hummus and pathogenic E. coli in flour, cookie dough and now soy nut butter (which sounds pornographic).

I.M. Healthy, one of the most ironic product names in the history of food, has been linked to at least 23 E. coli O157 illnesses (including 8 hospitalizations) in nine U.S states.

The good public health folks in Oregon found the outbreak strain in a sample of soy nut butter taken in one of the victim’s homes.

According to CDC,  in interviews, ill people or their family members answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill.

In 2009 when PCA was distributing Salmonella-contaminated peanut paste products to lots of manufacturers, lots of folks were asking questions about how the pathogen survived in the low-moisture environment and whether the outbreak was an indicator that the snack food industry was facing a larger issue. Since then there have been numerous low-moisture food outbreaks (here’s a review from Sofia Santillana Farakos and Joe Franks).

Friends of barfblog Larry Beuchat and Scott Burnett did some of the early work on peanut and Salmonella following an outbreak in Australia and showed that the  pathogen could survive for a long, long time:

Post-process contamination of peanut  butter and spreads with Salmonella may to result in survival in these products for the duration of their shelf life at 5 degrees C and possibly 21 degrees C, depending  on the formulation.’

The almond industry, partnering with the Almond Queen, and friend of barfblog, Linda Harris led the way addressing this issue about a decade ago. After numerous  studies examining Salmonella survival, movement, transfer, persistence and  destruction they’ve implemented a kill-step in their process. The peanut industry, in the wake of two outbreaks followed.

What will the soy nut folks do?

As the outbreak investigation unfolds, and the lawsuits pop up, lots of questions remain:

How much contamination was there (10 cfu/g? 1,000,000 cfu/g)?

Was it co-packed?

Did they have a sanitation clean break between lots?

Why was I.M. Healthy so specific about the recalled lots initially, and then expanded the recall?  Did FDA investigators feel the procedures weren’t effective?

Have they validated their sanitation procedures?

How well did the sanitation crew do their job?

Twenty-three people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from nine states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017, to March 5, 2017. Ill people range in age from 1 to 48 years, with a median age of 8. Twenty (87%) of the 23 ill people are younger than 18 years. Among ill people, 61% are male. Ten ill people have been hospitalized and seven people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses that occurred after February 24, 2017, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks.

In interviews, ill people or their family members answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Twenty (87%) of the 23 people reached for interview reported either eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter at home (14 people) in the week before they became ill, attending a facility that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter (2 people), or attending childcare centers that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter and I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter (4 people). SoyNut Butter is a nut-free substitute for peanut butter.

Investigators have reported to CDC two more ill people who either developed HUS or had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with STEC bacteria. In interviews, both of these ill people reported eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter in the week before becoming ill. However, CDC is not including these people in the outbreak case count because no bacterial isolates, or samples, were available for DNA fingerprinting. Public health investigators use DNA fingerprinting to identify illnesses that are part of outbreaks.

Laboratory testing identified STEC O157:H7 in opened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from the homes of ill people in California, Oregon, and Washington. Officials in California also isolated STEC O157:H7 in unopened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from retail locations. Further testing using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) showed that the STEC O157:H7 in all of these containers of SoyNut Butter had the same DNA fingerprints as the STEC O157:H7 isolates from ill people.

The investigation is ongoing. CDC will update the public when more information becomes available.

Good rock and roll is straightforward, in your face. Bad recalls are slippery, slimey affairs, involving bureaurocratic fucks who can’t imagine life without a job rather than submitting a kid to lifelong kidney problems.

So on the 40th anniversary of AC/DC’s Let There be Rock, please, people, develop a public health spine.