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 C.V. »

Sheep as an important source of E. coli O157:H7 in Turkey

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a globally important foodborne pathogen and has been mainly associated with cattle as the reservoir. However, accumulating data shows the importance of sheep as an E. coli O157:H7 vehicle.

sheep.shit.aug.12The presence of E. coli O157/O157:H7 in recto-anal mucosal swap and carcass sponge samples of 100 sheep brought to the slaughterhouse in Kirikkale were analyzed over a year. Molecular characteristics (stx1, stx2, eaeA, hly, lpfA1-3, espA, eae-α1, eae-α2, eae-β, eae-β1, eae-β2, eae-γ1, eae-γ2/θ, stx1c, stx1d, stx2c, stx2d, stx2e, stx2f, stx2g, blaampC, tet(A), tet(B), tet(C), tet(D), tet(E), tet(G), sul1, sul2, floR, cmlA, strA, strB and aadA) of 79 isolates were determined and minimum inhibitory concentrations of 20 different antibiotics were investigated. E. coli O157/O157:H7 was found in 18% of sheep included in the study and was more prevalent in yearlings than lambs and mature sheep, and male than female sheep, though none of the categories (season, sex or age range) had significant effect on prevalence. Furthermore, Shiga-toxigenic E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 was determined in 2% and 8% of sheep feces and carcasses, respectively. Additionally, lpfA1-3 and eae-γ1 were detected in all isolates. None of the isolates showed resistance against investigated antibiotics, even though 4 sorbitol fermenting E. coli O157 isolates were positive for tet(A), sul1 and aadA. This is the first study in Turkey that reveals the potential public health risk due to the contamination of sheep carcasses with potentially highly pathogenic STEC O157:H7 strains.

Yilmaz Emre Gencay

Where does food come from? Indiana restaurant with animal birthing room edition

A new restaurant is taking the term ‘farm-to-table’ to a whole new level by letting diners watch baby farm animals being born in a purpose-built birthing room.

dsc_0790At Farmhouse Restaurant in Fair Oaks, Indiana, customers are invited to visit a separate barn where live births happen every hour, with 80,000 baby pigs born each year and 150 calves born every single day.

And diners need not worry about the animals ending up on their plates; since it is only a dairy farm, the employees at Farmhouse get their meat and poultry from neighbouring farms instead.

The Birthing Barn features stadium seating surrounding a room encased with glass, so that hundreds of visitors can catch a glimpse of the miracle of life.

The restaurant, which is run by co-owner Carl Bruggemeier, sits on the 23,000-acre Fair Oaks Farms and boasts up to 500,000 visitors each year.

The goal of the birthing room, he says, is to expose people to where their food comes from.

“Most of us go into a grocery store and don’t really know where things come from or how they got there,” he told “We don’t even give it much thought.”

45 sick from Campylobacter linked to raw milk in Utah

Utah public health officials are investigating a few cases of sickness associated with raw or unpasteurized milk.

A few? Is there that many people in Utah?

colbert.raw.milkSo far, 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been confirmed in people who had raw milk in the week they got sick.

Officials said the illness has been reported in Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties.

Two cases have also been confirmed in California and Idaho.

The first case of the infection was reported May 9.

The Utah Dept. of Health said all 45 cases are linked to raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County.

The Utah Dept. of Agriculture suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on Aug. 4 after several tests were positive for Campylobacter.

Larry Lewis with the UDAF said the dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors and it will be allowed to sell raw milk again as soon as it consistently passes safety tests.

UK supermarkets fail inspections

Tesco supermarkets prove to be the worst for hygiene after it was revealed that 29 of its stores failed inspections aimed to protect customers from food poisoning.

tesco.foodIt was one of five big supermarket chains that saw stores fall foul of basic checks from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), according to figures from between 2012 and 2013 that were published in the Sun.

Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Aldi also had stores that failed to meet expected standards, according to the data.

Lidl and Waitrose were the only two ‘big seven’ chains which saw all stores pass.

The FSA reviewed hygiene practices at a total of 11,106 supermarkets in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of that number, 510 did not maintain standard levels of hygiene.

Careful with that fondue: determinants of the campylobacteriosis winter peak in Switzerland

Campylobacteriosis is the most frequently reported food borne infection in Switzerland. We investigated determinants of infections and illness experience in wintertime. A case–control study was conducted in Switzerland between December 2012 and February 2013. Cases were recruited among laboratory-confirmed campylobacteriosis patients. Population-based controls were matched according to age group, sex and canton of residence. We determined risk factors associated with campylobacteriosis, and help seeking behaviour and illness perception.

fondueThe multivariable analysis identified two factors associated with an increased risk for campylobacteriosis: consumption of meat fondue (matched odds ratio [mOR] 4.0, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 2.3–7.1) and travelling abroad (mOR 2.7, 95 % CI 1.1–6.4). Univariable analysis among meat fondue consumers revealed chicken as the type of meat with the highest risk of disease (mOR 3.8, 95 % CI 1.1–13.5). Most frequently reported signs and symptoms among patients were diarrhoea (98 %), abdominal pain (81 %), fever (66 %), nausea (44 %) and vomiting (34 %). The median perceived disease severity was 8 on a 1-to-10 rating scale. Patients reported a median duration of illness of 7 days and 14 % were hospitalised. Meat fondues, mostly “Fondue chinoise”, traditionally consumed during the festive season in Switzerland, are the major driver of the epidemic campylobacteriosis peak in wintertime. At these meals, individual handling and consumption of chicken meat may play an important role in disease transmission. Laboratory-confirmed patients are severely ill and hospitalisation rate is considerable. Public health measures such as decontamination of chicken meat and improved food handling behaviour at the individual level are urgently needed.

European Journal of Epidemiology

Philipp Justus Bless, Claudia Schmutz, Kathrin Suter, Marianne Jost, Jan Hattendorf, Mirjam Mäusezahl-Feuz and Daniel Mäusezahl

Former California slaughterhouse owner pleads guilty to selling diseased meat

The co-owner of a Petaluma slaughterhouse tied to a massive meat recall pleaded guilty to charges of selling cows with eye cancer and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against three other defendants.

imagesRobert Singleton, 77, faces up to three years in prison and is free on $50,000 bond, according to a copy of the plea agreement, which was reached Friday.

Singleton co-owned Rancho Feeding Corp., which was shut down in February by federal inspectors after a recall of nearly 9 million pounds of meat.

The recall included grocery chains such as Kroger, Food 4 Less and Wal-Mart. Nestle also issued a voluntary recall for its Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets.

Singleton admitted purchasing cows exhibiting eye cancer, which is deemed unfit for human consumption, according to federal laws.

Workers severed the heads of those cows to disguise them as healthy cows for processing and inspection.


130 cases of E. coli now confirmed in Alberta

Alberta Health Services has now confirmed 130 cases of E.coli infection in Alberta.

There are 63 confirmed cases in Calgary and 50 in the Edmonton region.

supershedder.e.coliAHS has not confirmed the source of the bacterial infection. However, health officials are urging the population to take precautions to reduce the risk of infection. 

Those precautions include washing hands with hot, soapy water — especially after using the bathroom — before preparing food and after touching raw meat.

AHS also suggests cooking beef to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and washing all fruit and vegetables.

Washing don’t do much.

Quantitative risk assessment of hemolytic and uremic syndrome linked to O157:H7 and non-O157:H7 shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli strains in raw milk soft cheeses

Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains may cause human infections ranging from simple diarrhea to Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). The five main pathogenic serotypes of STEC (MPS-STEC) identified thus far in Europe are O157:H7, O26:H11, O103:H2, O111:H8, and O145:H28.

raw.milk.cheeseBecause STEC strains can survive or grow during cheese making, particularly in soft cheeses, a stochastic quantitative microbial risk assessment model was developed to assess the risk of HUS associated with the five MPS-STEC in raw milk soft cheeses. A baseline scenario represents a theoretical worst-case scenario where no intervention was considered throughout the farm-to-fork continuum. The risk level assessed with this baseline scenario is the risk-based level. The impact of seven preharvest scenarios (vaccines, probiotic, milk farm sorting) on the risk-based level was expressed in terms of risk reduction. Impact of the preharvest intervention ranges from 76% to 98% of risk reduction with highest values predicted with scenarios combining a decrease of the number of cow shedding STEC and of the STEC concentration in feces. The impact of postharvest interventions on the risk-based level was also tested by applying five microbiological criteria (MC) at the end of ripening.

The five MCs differ in terms of sample size, the number of samples that may yield a value larger than the microbiological limit, and the analysis methods. The risk reduction predicted varies from 25% to 96% by applying MCs without preharvest interventions and from 1% to 96% with combination of pre- and postharvest interventions.

Risk Analysis
Frédérique Perrin, Fanny Tenenhaus-Aziza, Valérie Michel, Stéphane Miszczycha, Nadège Bel, and Moez Sanaa;jsessionid=74BD9124E68BA3CAA0FCD6112D55BB0C.f02t01

Jamie Oliver’s crusade to prove U.S. food safety unfit for UK

Celebrity chef-type Jamie Oliver – who was a stand-out in our 2004 paper, Spot the Mistake about celebrity chefs and food safety mistakes — has been appearing with increasing irritation on a television advert for Woolworths in Australia, hawking dinnerware.

celebrity_chefs(5)“The plate makes the food look great” or something like that.

And when he’s not selling plates, Oliver is embarking on a campaign to stop the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which many feel will result in the watering down of government regulations and says with a straight face that U.K. restrictions on growth hormones and pesticides in food are stricter than those in the U.S.

Stick to dinnerware.