Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

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

Food safety cleanup: and don’t celebrate International Women’s Day at an all-male club in Australia

Three new cases of hepatitis A linked to recalled frozen berries imported from China have been reported in Australia, bringing the total to 26. Sucks. Cook frozen berries for one minute, see our infosheet at http://barfblog.com/2015/02/new-food-safety-infosheet-hepatitis-a-illnesses-linked-to-frozen-berries-in-australia/

john.oliverWe don’t need no inspection: The farmer who runs an organic dairy farm in Minnesota will appear in court Monday, defending his refusal to allow a state inspection he doesn’t want and contends his farm doesn’t need. Raw milk, live free or die.

Royal China Restaurant in Chamblee, Atlanta, serves some of the city’s best dim sum. Just don’t order the lobster. An employee was observed hitting lobster against the inside of a trash can while prepping the crustacean during a recent routine health inspection. There were also four dead lobsters inside a holding tank at the restaurant at 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

Fund us: Local health departments that spent more money on food safety and sanitation experienced significantly lower incidences of salmonella and cryptosporidium, according to a University of Washington study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

From the duh files, and why I ignore Washington: The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report last week stating that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “is not planning to meet” mandates required within the Food Safety Modernization Act and the agency is raising doubts that the high number of required inspections is actually beneficial in any way.

McDonald’s capitulates, saying it plans to start using chicken raised without antibiotics commonly used in humans, and milk from cows that are not treated with rBST. That’s normal. McDonald’s killed off the genetically engineered Bt potato about 2000 because of its purchasing decisions, ensuring increased pesticide use around the fragile waterways of PEI and New Brunswick (in Canada).

There are literally tons of human poop on Mount Everest and it’s now estimated that they leave behind up to 26,500 pounds of excrement annually — and it’s getting to the point where the pits of poop and urine surrounding these camps are becoming a serious environmental and health problem.

How does one eliminate a norovirus outbreak? The Village Manor in Michigan claims to have done that. Probably with laser cats.

And Australia continues to embarrass itself, with the governing party celebrating International Women’s Day at an all-male club. Fortunately, John Oliver is a better comedian than I am (and I may be a better food safety type than John Oliver).

Campylobacter sucks: Irish woman’s terrifying ordeal, paralyzed and couldn’t move a muscle

An Irish woman was left paralysed from her neck to her toes after eating a chicken which was contaminated with a common bacteria.

campy.chickenSandra Loftus, from Kinsealy, Co Dublin, contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome – a severely debilitating condition of the nervous system – after she ate chicken infected with campylobacter.

The bacteria commonly causes food poisoning and shockingly 98.3% of chickens bought by the public here in Ireland are infected with it.

And like Sandra, one in 100 of us who contract food poisoning from campylobacter will get Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

She explained: “I was cooking dinner for the family and I was doing a chicken stir fry.

“The next day I was very sick I had terrible cramps in my stomach, nausea, diarrhea – it was really bad. The Saturday then when I got up the legs just went from under me.

“After a full day in hospital they said to me, ‘Look, just go home, it could be a virus, come back to us if it gets worse.’

“When Monday came I couldn’t even lift my hands – there was no power or anything.

“So I was straight back over to A&E and spent three months in high dependency there and then nearly a year in rehab in Dun Laoghaire.”

Sandra told RTE’s Consumer Show that she thought she was going to die.

She said: “I was paralysed from my neck to my toes, I couldn’t move a muscle.

barfblog.Stick It In“And I thought I was going to die because when we looked into it one in four people can die from this.”

Sandra spent three months in intensive care unit battling for her life and then spent a further nine months at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire.

Thankfully she has now fully recovered from her ordeal.

However, in the food safety advice bit at the end, sorta like Dear Abbey, the story says, “Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.”

Fail.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

2 dead, 31 sick: Same Salmonella strain found in Australian bakery that supplies nursing homes

The strain of Salmonella thought to have killed two nursing home residents and caused dozens of others to fall ill has been found in a Wollongong bakery, tests have confirmed.

BettamaidTo date, 31 cases of confirmed salmonella have been reported from 10 aged care facilities in the Illawarra, south eastern Sydney and ACT.

Two patients have died as a result of the outbreak.

The nursing homes involved are either run by Illawarra Retirement Trust or supplied catering by IRT.

Last month testing conducted by the New South Wales Food Authority at Bettamaid wholesale bakery in Unanderra came back positive for Salmonella.

The Food Authority then carried out further testing on environmental swabs and food samples taken from the bakery.

A test on an environmental swab has returned positive to the strain of Salmonella detected in sick residents, Salmonella bovismorbificans.

A spokeswoman said food samples supplied by the bakery to affected facilities also tested positive for Salmonella, but the strain was still being typed.

There were no reports of illness in the broader community related to consumption of food from the bakery, which supplies a number of shops and school canteens.

But don’t panic: 6 students sick with E. coli from same school in California

An E. coli outbreak in Lodi, California has sickened six elementary school children, requiring one to be hospitalized. The children all attend the same elementary school, but the school has been ruled out as a source of the outbreak.

remaincalm.kevin.baconTwo students in Lodi’s Reese Elementary School’s combined second and third-grade class were confirmed on Monday to have become infected with the E. coli bacteria last week. The students were taken to the hospital when they first showed signs of becoming ill.

School principal Gary Odell realized something was going on last Tuesday. Feb. 24. “It came up a week ago. The secretary noticed that four students were out sick and one had gone to the hospital over the weekend. When the three others began showing symptoms, the nurse contacted (the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health),” Odell said.

Odell said the health department investigated the food services department, and the school cafeteria was given a clean bill of health. The bacteria was not coming from the school’s kitchen or the cafeteria. It is really not known where the first child got the infection because there are so many sources of a potential infection. It is just unusual for this many children from the same school to become infected in such a short time.

Parents weren’t notified of the outbreak until Monday evening after letters were sent home with their children. The principal explained the reason for the lateness of the notification, saying that once the health department took over, they had to follow their guidelines. This meant there had to be two confirmed cases before the public was notified to avoid a panic.

Why does Australia have these huge outbreaks? And an egg problem? 250 now sick from principals’ conference

The number of people who have been struck down by food poisoning since eating at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre last week as part of a principals conference has jumped to 250.

salmonella.eggsThe cases are spread across Queensland with the highest numbers in Cairns and the Sunshine Coast with 34 cases reported in each of those regions.

About 1400 people descended on the venue for the conference on Thursday and Friday last week.

The outbreak is the second worst case of salmonella poisoning in the state’s history.

The worst was in November 2013 from a Melbourne Cup function with 350 reported cases and 12 hospitalizations.

A 77-year-old women’s death was linked to that outbreak which was suspected to have been caused by bad eggs.

An outbreak of Salmonella in January this year from deep fried ice cream at Chin Chin restaurant (it was the eggs) led to 141 cases with at least eight people hospitalized.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-2-15.xlsx\

2 dead, 29 sick at aged-care: Australia apparently sucks at Salmonella control

Public health authorities are concerned after two new cases of Salmonella emerged at aged care facilities in the Illawarra this week, bringing the total number of patients to 31.

salmonella.aged.care.austLast week authorities were hopeful the outbreak of the food-borne illness at 10 facilities in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, south-eastern Sydney and the ACT had been contained.

Two elderly residents have died and 16 residents have been hospitalised after contracting a rare strain of salmonella, with the onset of the first case on January 21.

175 sick with Salmonella: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre kitchen dumps eggs and poultry, Lloyds of London is a food safety auditor?

I can’t make this stuff up.

The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre will continue to source food from the same suppliers, but has suspended the use of poultry and eggs, after the second-worst outbreak of salmonella poisoning in Queensland’s history.

powell.egg.nov.14Despite the indication of potential food poisoning, poultry and eggs weren’t struck off the menu until late yesterday.

Up to six events were held at the centre yesterday.

Chief Health Officer Dr Janette Young said that the usual suspects in salmonella poisoning are poorly cooked meat, poultry, eggs and egg products.

General manager of the BCEC Bob O’Keeffe said yesterday afternoon he hadn’t considered suspending food services while the causes of the outbreak were still unknown, before a dramatic about-face from a spokeswoman later in the day.

“Not really, no. We’ve done 20 years of it, of systems and the systems have got better and better every year and we have the records of the products and the service and the timing and the suppliers,” Mr O’Keeffe had said. A spokeswoman later said eggs and poultry were being suspended as a “prudent and precautionary approach.”

About 200 people who attended the 2015 principals conference on Thursday and Friday last week have been struck down, with at least 24 people hospitalized.

The BCEC has also appointed food safety auditor Lloyds of London to begin an investigation today.

Look to the raw egg dishes that Australian chef types seem to prefer.

Here’s an updated table.

Food safety cleanup

A Japanese buffet restaurant in Stockbridge, Georgia, was asked to close after failing another health inspection, its third in less than six months. The food permit for Huge Hibachi Sushi Buffet, 5425 N. Henry Blvd., was recently suspended because of “continual disregard for public safety.”

qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeAn astonishing 85 restaurants in Birmingham, UK, have been zero-rated for hygiene standards.

Several Malaysian eateries have been ordered closed by the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) in an ongoing operation to check food safety and hygiene. “Action was taken for violations such as cockroach infestation, rat droppings, not maintaining food temperature, preparing food in back lanes and dirty toilets,” said MPK Corporate Communications director Norfiza Mahfiz.

With many jumping on the smartphone disclosure bandwagon, it’s no surprise that shoppers in China can look up a kiwi fruit’s complete thousand-mile journey from a vine in a lush valley along the upper Yangtze River to a bin in a Beijing supermarket. The smartphone feature, which also details soil and water tests from the farm, is intended to ensure that the kiwi has not been contaminated anywhere along the way. Some talk. Some do.

Australia still has an egg (food porn) problem: Former partner of MKR judge investigated after food poisoning incident at Double Bay Public School

The story below from the Wentworth Courier gives a taste of the disdain and food porn that permeates Australian egg culture.

mayonnaise.raw.eggA table of egg-based Salmonella outbreaks is available here.

The former partner of TV chef Manu Feildel has been implicated in a Salmonella poisoning incident at the Double Bay Public School’s Year 6 farewell event.

The incident, which occurred in December 2014, has since been the subject of a NSW Food Authority and NSW Health investigation.

A NSW Food Authority spokeswoman said an investigation had linked the salmonella outbreak “to a raw egg sauce served”.

“The NSW Food Authority has worked with the home-based catering business involved … and provided the operator with advice, guidance and information in relation to food safety requirements.”

Ronnie Morshead, Feildel’s partner for more than a decade and the owner-operator of Red Sage Catering which catered the function, said yesterday she had sent the Food Authority’s findings on to the school’s principal Andrea Garling.

“I believe the school is still waiting on an official report from the director of public health (Mark Ferson),” Ms Morshead said.

“But I understand, as far as (Professor Ferson) was concerned the whole (investigation) was complete.”

Last week, the Courier published details of six confirmed cases of salmonella following the farewell.

Prof Ferson, the South East Sydney Local Health District public health director, said on Monday that “more than six people were affected”, but as the Food Authority had completed its investigation, there was no need for him to conduct ­interviews with other victims.

A parent, who did not want their name published, said upwards of 25 people had fallen ill, including their own child who was still yet to fully recover.

raw.egg.mayo“How can there have been a thorough investigation when not every body has been interviewed?” the parent said.

“There’s talk of reimbursing medical bills but this is so much more than that. What about all that unnecessary suffering?” Prof Ferson said his ­department had identified the farewell event as the source of a salmonella outbreak after receiving ­unusual lab results.

The school has declined to comment and has directed questions to the NSW Education Department.

A spokesman did not ­respond to the Courier’s questions yesterday.

Five Japanese men poisoned by puffer fish after ‘eating highly poisonous liver’

Five men have been poisoned in Japan after allegedly asking a restaurant to serve them banned parts of the world’s most toxic fish.


puffer.fish.liverThe men were having dinner on Friday night in the western city of Wakayama when they ate puffer fish liver, which prompted vomiting and breathing difficulties early the next morning.

Puffer fish – also called blowfish or fugu in Japanese – are the world’s most toxic group of fish and their livers, ovaries and skin contain tetrodotoxin, 100 times more lethal than cyanide.

Yet eating the fish’s flesh is a tradition in Japan, where wealthy diners play the Russian roulette of the restaurant world by dining on sashimi slivers so thin they are almost transparent.

According to a city health official, the men asked to eat a banned, toxic part of the fish – which the most foolhardy fugu aficionados are said to enjoy for the tingling it produces on the lips.

The tingling is only the first symptom of tetrodotoxin poisoning, and is seen as part of the thrill for lovers of the fish.

But if the toxin is served in any significant quantity it then paralyses the muscles, suffocating victims as it reaches their chests and diaphragms while they are still conscious.

The health official said the men were in their 40s and 50s and the restaurant was shut down for five days from yesterday amid an investigation.