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.

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.

Seek and ye shall find: E. coli O103 found in Waco beef

Waco, Texas will always have a special place in the barfblog.com family.

Amy was a French professor there for one year. She was required to follow a dress code, one that didn’t include beach shorts and loud Hawaiian shirts.

Her car was randomly shot at driving to work one day – which is why she volunteered to go to Iraq as part of a teaching mission, correctly reasoning it couldn’t be much more dangerous than Waco.

Chapman did a duck and hide under the table at a Waco restaurant as one of the regular booms went off to scare away starlings.

I’ve been told many times I look like David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians religious sect,

Waco is also home to rare strains of E. coli.

H & B Packing Co., Inc., a Waco, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 73,742 pounds of boneless beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The boneless beef items were produced on March 6, 2017. The following products are subject to recall:

60-lb. box containing boneless beef with case code 69029 and production date 03/06/17.

Multiple combo bins containing 73,682-lbs of boneless beef with case code 69029 and production date 03/06/17.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. M13054” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to food manufacturers within the state of Texas.

The problem was discovered when FSIS was notified by the State of Texas’ Meat Safety Assurance Unit about a positive non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli sample.

There have been no confirmed reports of illnesses due to consumption of these products.

Many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), such as STEC O103 because it is harder to identify than STEC O157. People can become ill from STECs 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after consuming the organism.

should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in customers’ freezers.

Customers who have purchased these products are urged not to use them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Waco is also near George W. Bush’s ranch retreat, as Harold and Kumar found out.

24 sick: E. coli O121 outbreak shows failures of food safety safety net

 

Chapman was always the kinder, gentler version of me, and he goes too easy on Canadian boffins who announced today there are now 24 people sick with E. coli O121 in British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5).

That the outbreak missed Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI should give epidemiologists solid clues, ones that the Public Health Agency of Canada is not ready to divulge.

The initial public announcement was Jan. 12, 2017.

A couple of months later, the case count has doubled, and the only advice PHAC has is wash your fucking hands.

The last two major North American outbreaks of E. coli O121 were in flour, last year, and in sprouts, a few years earlier (please, let it be sprouts, please).

Five months into the outbreak, I’m sure the dedicated Canadian public servants have had time to match the genetic fingerprint of the outbreak strain with the U.S.-based outbreaks, but don’t expect PHAC to answer such simple questions.

They could have done whole genome sequencing in the time it took to have miniions craft a press release that said … nothing.

“The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads multi-jurisdictional human health investigations of outbreaks and is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to monitor and take collaborative steps to address outbreaks.”

Eat me completely.

E. coli O121 outbreak in Canada

A bunch of hosers are sick with E. coli O121, according the the Public Health Agency of Canada

There have been 24 cases of E. coli O121 with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in four provinces: British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5). The illness onset dates range from November 2016 to February 2017. Six individuals have been hospitalized. These individuals have recovered or are recovering. The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing.


Food Safety Talk 121: Seesaws and slides

Don and Ben talk I.M. Healthy’s soy nut butter-linked E. coli O157 outbreak; social responsibility and food safety; and produce washing. The guys also discuss the particulars of goalie screening and Salmonella sticking around in the environment for months. Bonus: urinals.

Episode 121 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Food safety and hockey: Play by the rules or penalties will kill ya

A friend from Guelph sent me this pic the other day (that’s in Ontario, Canada) from 2005, the last year I played with the boys before moving to Kansas (where the closest ice was 2 hours away, so we got it pretty good here in Brisbane).

During the school break — about now for Canadians, so they can all go to Daytona and escape the snow — teams of faculty and staff from at least 6 universities, McGill, Lakehead, wherever — would gather for 3-4 days in Guelph and have a tournament.

We won in 2005, although I can still describe the gut-wrenching feeling as goalie when up by a goal and time ticking away, one of our defence decided to pinch, leading to a 2-on-0 (yeah, that was you, Naylor).

I made the save, we won the game.

Best to go out on top.

Unfortunately, the seniors team I coach in Brisbane had a 3-1 lead going into the third of the summer finals, penalties and mistakes lead to a regulation 3-3 tie, overtime yielded nothing, and we lost in a shootout.

This is what it looks like when doves cry.

But, great summer season, great group to hang out with as I stand with our captain and two team managers, looking old, not so wise.

Always more to learn.

 

Jim, maple syrup and anxiety

My friend Jim calms me down almost as much as my puppy, Ted.

I’ve known Jim since about 1996. We collaborated to shut down emotion-not-evidence-based rules on genetically engineered foods in Canada, and he has always brought a practical sense of what a farmer goes through to make a buck.

He also used to terrorize my then young girls by telling them how he shot stray cats left at his dairy farm, because cats carry toxoplasmosis, and it impacted his money-making side.

We were grateful for the three cats from Walkerton.

Jim and Donna’s Walkerton farm is across the road from the source of the E. coli O157 outbreak in 2000 that killed seven and sickened thousands, and I still get chills when Jim recalls another chopper going over the farm, probably another dead person.

Media outlets were broadcasting live from Walkerton, like it was a dam about to collapse.

Or as I said at the time (Jim had to remind me), media wanted cows, manure, river, and townhouses all in one photo.

I spoke with Jim the other day, primarily to balance myself against the most moderate person I know.

Jim has gotten into the maple syrup biz in Ontario (that’s in Canada), he’s got grandkids, like I do, and a seemingly stable situation, running his B&B with Donna, substitute teaching, and new farming ventures.

I admire that.