Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Download C.V. »

Bloody stools are sorta serious: UK mum’s anger after medics ‘ignore’ daughter’s symptoms of E. coli

Cheri Burns of The Daily Record reports a UK mum has told of her anger after her daughter’s symptoms of a potentially deadly strain of E. coli were “ignored” by medics.

350px-escherichia-coliOne-year-old Myla Smith has been diagnosed with E. coli 157 – the same virus bacteria that claimed the life of a child in Dunbartonshire and infected dozens of others during a recent outbreak.

A multi-agency incident management team (IMT) chaired by Health Protection Scotland are carrying out an investigation after 20 people fell ill after eating Dunsyre blue cheese.

Although Myla’s condition is now stable, parent Siobhan Mclelland, from Johnstone in Renfrewshire, said she cannot bare to think about what could have happened after claiming doctors repeatedly missed the signs.

The tot became unwell earlier this month, suffering from bouts of repeated vomiting and diarrhea.

And, when Siobhan, 20, spotted blood in her stools, she knew something was very wrong.

But, despite rushing Myla to the Accident and Emergency department at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital several times over a seven-day period, Siobhan insists her worries were not taken seriously.

She claimed: “Myla was sick as a dog for days, and when I saw the blood I knew something wasn’t right.

“I took her to hospital on five occasions and they examined her and took blood, but was told it was viral and felt fobbed off.”

Trusting her instincts, Siobhan said it was only after persistence that the problem was treated with more urgency, with samples being sent off for testing at a facility in Edinburgh.

And, just two days later, the parent was stunned to receive a phone call from doctors telling her that the E. coli bug had been detected in results.

Myla now has to return to her local hospital for blood tests and monitoring regularly.

Describing her disappointment at the care her family received, Siobhan told the Record: “I can’t believe what happened – things could’ve been so much worse.

“One doctor we saw didn’t even properly look at Myla, just said she was fine.”

An NHS spokeswoman said: “This patient has been appropriately managed as an outpatient with ongoing monitoring by our pediatric team.

“If her family has any issues they should contact the hospital and we would be happy to address any of their concerns.”

Mettwursts and pepperoni made by Australian smallgoods firm recalled

Brad Crouch of The Advertiser reports that mettwurst and pepperoni manufactured by Barossa Valley smallgoods firm Linke’s Central Meats is being recalled amid potential contamination fears.

mettwurst-and-pepperoniFollowing food safety checks by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions

South Australia (PIRSA), three types of mettwursts and one pepperoni from the Nuriootpa-based Linke’s Central Meats have been recalled and SA Health is advising people not to consume them.

SA Health has not received any reports of illness associated with these smallgoods but PIRSA is now investigating as routine food safety checks have been unable to verify the safety of the firm’s manufacturing processes for these mettwurst and pepperoni products.

Linke’s Central Meats can be found at South Australian Foodlands, the Loxton IGA and independent smallgoods stores.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) will be issuing a nationwide recall for the product and further information about the recall can be found on the FSANZ website.

A.I. might prevent the next E. coli outbreak

Tonya Riley of Inverse reports that artificial intelligence is already well on its way to being the future of food service, but what if it could also do things like prevent foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli?

cow-poop2Researchers at University of Edinburgh say they’ve designed  software to do just that. The A.I. compares the genetic signatures of E. coli samples that have caused infection in humans to bacterial samples from humans and animals. The technology will allow researchers to identify deadly strains of E. coli before the threat becomes an outbreak.

“Our findings indicate that the most dangerous E. coli O157 strains may in fact be very rare in the cattle reservoir, which is reassuring,” University of Edinburgh Professor David Gally said in a press release. “The study highlights the potential of machine learning approaches for identifying these strains early.”

E.coli strains can normally live in human and animal guts without complications, but strains like E.coli O157 can cause infection. The strain is much more deadly in humans than in cattle, where the bacteria serves to collect toxins that need disposed. The team predicts that the O157 strain is present in about 10 percent of cattle.

Advancements in cellular engineering will make it easier for researchers to detect bacteria that is harmful to humans, but let’s not forget E. coli isn’t all bad. Air Force researchers have shown that the bacteria may be key to controlling robots through biological means.

Researchers plan on using the software on test samples of other animal-borne toxins, such as salmonella in order to identify strains with the potential to cause human disease.

7 sick: Multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 linked to beef products from Adams Farm

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, multiple states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coliO157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) infections.

adams-farmSeven people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from four states.

Five ill people have been hospitalized. No one has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicate that beef products produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts is a likely source of this outbreak.

On September 24, 2016, Adams Farm Slaughterhouse recalled beef, veal, and bison products due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

The products subject to recall have establishment number EST. 5497 inside the USDA mark of inspection and include several lot numbers and cuts of meat. The full list can be found on the USDA website.

These items were shipped to farmers’ markets, retail locations, and restaurants in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and eastern New York. The products may have been shipped to neighboring states.

We recommend that consumers, restaurants, and retailers do not use, serve, or sell the recalled meat products.

Don’t cook recalled meat products and eat them. Throw the meat out or return it to the place of purchase. If you throw it away, put it in a sealed bag in the trash so that children, pets, or other animals can’t eat it..

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 27, 2016 to September 4, 2016. Ill people range in age from 1 year to 74, with a median age of 25. Fifty-seven percent of ill people are female. Five ill people have been hospitalized.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicate that beef products produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts is a likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. All five (100%) of the five people reached for interview reported eating ground beef in the week before they became ill.  Preliminary traceback information indicates that ill people ate ground beef which had been produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health collected leftover ground beef from an ill person’s home and from a restaurant for testing; that beef had been produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse. Test results showed the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 in both samples of the leftover ground beef.


20 sick with campy linked to raw milk in Colorado

Jakob Rodgers of The Gazette reports that up to 20 people have been sickened from raw milk supplied by a ranch in Pueblo County, leading health officials to warn against drinking unpasteurized milk from the farm.

santa-barf_sprout_raw_milk7The outbreak of campylobacteriosis – an infection causing nausea and diarrhea – stems from raw milk distributed by Larga Vista Ranch, which is about 20 miles east of Pueblo, according to El Paso and Pueblo county health officials.

The infections highlight the dangers of drinking raw, unpasteurized milk, said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, El Paso County Public Health’s medical director.

“Sometimes people think that raw foods of all kinds are healthier,” she said. “But in this case, raw milk is very dangerous to be drinking.”

Since Aug. 1, health officials have confirmed 12 such cases and eight probable cases, according to the El Paso and Pueblo county health departments. Of those 20 people, half live in El Paso County, and half live in Pueblo County.

The infections stem from milk supplied by a herdshare program, which allows people to purchase stakes in livestock, such as cows or goats, and to receive a portion of each animal’s milk or meat.

Some of the people sickened were not part of the herdshare program. They received the milk from people who were part of it, which is now allowed, health officials said.

An after-hours call to the ranch by The Gazette was not returned.

Eggs from small flocks more likely to contain Salmonella enteritidis

Eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

egg-dirty-feb-12That conclusion — which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that eggs from backyard poultry and small local enterprises are safer to eat than “commercially produced” eggs — was drawn from a first-of-its kind, six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state.

Salmonella enteritidis is a leading foodborne pathogen in the United States, with many outbreaks in humans traced back to shell eggs. The FDA requires shell-egg producers from farms with more than 3,000 chickens be in compliance with the FDA Final Egg Rule, which is aimed at restricting the growth of pathogens. However, small flocks with fewer than 3,000 layer chickens currently are exempted. Eggs from these producers often are marketed via direct retail to restaurants, health-food stores and farmers markets, or sold at on-farm roadside stands.

From April to September 2015, the researchers purchased two to four dozen eggs from each of 240 randomly selected farmers markets or roadside stands representing small layer flocks in 67 counties of Pennsylvania. Internal contents of the eggs and egg shells were cultured separately for Salmonella using standard protocols. Salmonella recovered were classified by serotype, and any Salmonella enteritidis isolates present were further characterized to evaluate their relatedness to isolates of the bacteria that have caused foodborne illness outbreaks.

Test results revealed that of the 240 selling points included in the study, eggs from five — 2 percent — were positive for Salmonella enteritidis. Eggs sold at one of the positive selling points contained the bacteria in egg shells; the eggs from the other four selling points had Salmonella enteritidis in internal contents.

That is a higher prevalence of the pathogen than that found in studies of eggs from large flocks, noted lead researcher Subhashinie Kariyawasam, microbiology section head at Penn State’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. Those eggs, from flocks of more than 3,000 birds, are subject to federal regulations aimed at reducing Salmonella enteritidis contamination.

egg-farmThese regulations require measures such as placement of Salmonella-“clean” chicks, intensive rodent control, cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of pullet and layer houses, continuous testing of eggs from any Salmonella-positive houses, and diverting eggs from Salmonella-positive houses for pasteurization.

Kariyawasam — who presented the research findings to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Avian Pathologists at their August meeting in San Antonio, Texas — said the study clearly demonstrated that Salmonella enteritidis is present in the eggs produced by small flocks.

“The research highlights the potential risk posed by the consumption of eggs produced by backyard and small layer flocks. And, analysis of the Salmonella enteritidis present in the eggs from small flocks shows they are the same types commonly reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from human foodborne outbreaks,” she said. “These findings emphasize the importance of small-producer education on Salmonella enteritidis control measures and perhaps implementation of egg quality-assurance practices to prevent contamination of eggs produced by backyard and other small layer flocks.”

Eggs from small flocks make a negligible contribution to the table egg industry in the United States, Kariyawasam noted. But the growing demand for backyard eggs and eggs from nonfarm environments — with small egg-producing flocks managed in cage-free systems and pasture situations — suggests these production systems deserve some scrutiny.

“We were curious about Salmonella contamination of eggs produced by these flocks because the prevalence of this pathogen in smaller flocks was not known. Now we know that the prevalence of Salmonella enteritidis in eggs produced by small flocks is higher than in eggs produced by larger flocks.”

Hong Kong: City University’s plan to include food safety in a veterinary course

Hong Kong’s urban high-rise environment may seem an unlikely place to host a centre of veterinary excellence. But that is still not the way City University sees it, despite rejections of funding requests for a veterinary school in 2010 and 2014 by the University Grants Committee on the grounds that it is unviable and unnecessary. It has unveiled a self-financed, six-year undergraduate course in veterinary medicine beginning in the next academic year with an intake of 10 to 15 students, rising to about 30 in two years.

one-healthEach student would have to pay tuition fees of HK$120,000 a year. The government has warned the university not to assume that in the long run it would receive public funding, which would reduce the fees to HK$42,100 a year.

Nonetheless university president Professor Way Kuo is confident of securing government funding in 2018, by which time it also hopes to have raised HK$1 billion to support the programme. Cornell University in the US is a partner in the course.

City university says part of the course will focus not on training vets in the care of domestic pets, but on research into food safety and how to prevent disease spreading from animals to humans. Since this is most relevant to the agricultural and livestock industry across the border rather than Hong Kong, perhaps it is hoped the course will attract enough fee-paying students from the mainland to begin with.

5 things a Canadian food safety expert will never eat

Carmen Chai of Global News reports that Rick Holley, a veteran food safety expert and University of Manitoba professor emeritus says these are the five things he won’t eat:

mi-rick-holley-1212Raw shellfish and seafood

Raw sprouts and chopped raw vegetables and fruits

(“I do not eat sprouts, unless they’re cooked.”

He eats the chopped salads from the grocery store, though.

“I’m confessing now that I accept the risk because I value the convenience,” he said.

If you’re chopping up vegetables and fruit, they’re safe to eat for about four hours if kept at room temperature. In the fridge, they can last for up to three days, he said.)

Unpasteurized drinks

Undercooked meat

Undercooked eggs.

“My wife doesn’t like to sit with me at dinner and have guests in because, invariably, the conversation rotates to subjects near and dear to my heart and that’s contamination,” Holley joked.

My list is the same.

Test and ye shall find: Listeria in Blue Bell ice cream, again

A supplier of cookie dough that Blue Bell Creameries blamed for a possible listeria contamination of some of its ice cream products said Thursday that its product tested negative for the pathogen before it was sent to the Texas-based company.

listeria-blue-bellBlue Bell announced Wednesday it was recalling select flavors of ice cream distributed across the South and made at its Sylacauga, Alabama, plant after finding chocolate chip cookie dough from a third-party supplier — Iowa-based Aspen Hills Inc. — that was potentially contaminated with listeria.

Blue Bell halted sales, issued a voluntarily recall of all its products in April 2015 and shut down its three plants due to bacteria contamination that was linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas. The company, headquartered in Brenham, about 70 miles outside Houston, resumed selling its products about four months later. Before resuming production, the company said it had implemented new cleaning and sanitizing procedures at its facilities, as well as new testing programs and new employee training.

The iconic ice cream brand is beloved in Texas, where people impatiently awaited its return to store shelves after the recall.

No illnesses have been reported from the latest recall of ice cream distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, Blue Bell said.

Blue Bell said on Thursday in an email to The Associated Press that it found listeria contamination in packages of cookie dough ingredient received from Aspen Hills.

But a statement from Aspen Hills said its cookie dough product tested negative for listeria before it was shipped to Blue Bell and that the “positive listeria results were obtained by Blue Bell only after our product had been in their control for almost two months.”

Aspen Hills said that Blue Bell is the only customer who received the cookie dough product “included in our voluntary recall.” Blue Bell has been a customer of Aspen Hills since January.

Second Scots cheese firm investigated following quality control testing issues

An investigation has been launched by environmental health officers into a second Scots award-winning cheese firm following issues with quality control testing.

cheese-e-coli-scotlandHighland Council, which is leading in the investigation at the family-run Connage Highland Dairy in Ardersier said there is no link “at this stage” to any cases of illness or the on-going E.coli O157 outbreak which has resulted in the death of a child in Bearsden.

The E.coli outbreak resulted in the shutting down in the operations of another family-run award-winning cheesemaker Lanarkshire-base Errington Cheese whose cheese has been linked to the outbreak.

Highland Council environmental health officers are liaising with Food Standards Scotland in the probe.

The council said that the organic cheese firm had contacted the council voluntarily regarding issues with their own internal quality testing, triggering the probe.

A spokesman said: “Environmental Health officers are investigating the matter and further sampling has been carried out.

“The council are liaising with Food Standards Scotland on the investigation. There is no link at this stage to any cases of illness or the ongoing E.coli O157 outbreak in Scotland.”

Callum Clark, who runs the business with wife, Jill insisted it is not connected to the E.coli outbreak and there was “nothing actually wrong”.

“We asked them to come in. Obviously environmental health are all a bit sensitive and on high alert on everything with the Errington thing,” he said. “Everyone is extra edgy over that.

“We are being fully helpful and co-operating with environmental health. It’s just the testing regime we are looking at.”

Owned and run by the Clark family, Connage Highland Dairy has been using traditional techniques to produce a range of organic, handcrafted, vegetarian cheeses since the family farm opened in 2006.