NZ food safety laws stopping early childcare centres from giving kids food, charges Council

Scientists, and other mere mortals, get lost in their public voice when they speak about things they have no clue about.

hockey-parentsI agree with the active citizen, participatory democracy, but there are people who take some (rudimentary) form of training, like food servers and hockey coaches, which is much more than the critics ever do, and the posers should just shut the fuck up.

So when Early Childhood Council boss Peter Reynolds says, new rules have made early childhood education centres less safe because most food poisoning and allergic reactions in ECEs are as a result of food prepared at home, I gotta say, you got a source for that?

New food safety laws are forcing childcare centres to stop providing food for kids, or increase fees, the Early Childhood Council says.

Centres were now finding themselves facing bills into the thousands of dollars in inspections and compliance fees, which is likely to be passed onto parents,

The Food Act 2014 came into force in March, and was designed to ensure all food sold in New Zealand is safe.

Many centres have “had enough”, he said, and were now opting out of providing food.

Good choice. You’re not a certified kitchen, and stop feeding kids. Or this NSFV.

Pinto defense: We meet all standards, after 1 dead and six sickened at Perth childcare

In the Aussie form of see, hear and speak no evil, evidence has emerged that a child has died following an outbreak of gastro at a lower North Shore (Perth) childcare centre.

see-no-evilSix children at Little Zak’s Academy in Artarmon — aged between 11 months and four years — developed high fevers and vomiting over the past week caused by rotavirus gastroenteritis, health authorities have confirmed.

But a seventh child died, with the causes so far unknown, although the death is not being directly attributed to the outbreak.

Northern Sydney Public Health Unit director Dr Michael Staff said four of the sick children had to be admitted to hospital.

“Tragically, another child who also attends the centre died in hospital on October 23, but at this stage it appears unrelated to the gastroenteritis outbreak,” he said.

He said they were working with specialist paediatricians to understand the cause of the child’s death.

Parents were tonight in shock over the news of the death.

pintoexplodingAn email from the local health district informing them of what had happened was only sent through this afternoon.

Michael Kendall, father to five-year-old Charlotte, said that he was “furious” and would not be bringing his child back to the child care centre.

He said the centre should have been shut down during the outbreak — and that he only just found out about what had happened.

“It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard in my life, I only found about it 15 minutes ago, I just heard that a child has died.

“If I knew my child wouldn’t have been here.

“I used to run a big centre down at the snow and our first priority was to take care of people especially kids, once you have an outbreak you’re supposed to tell the parents and shut the premises down.”

A spokesman for the centre said Public Health Unit advice was that “the outbreak appears to be under control and it is safe for children to continue to attend the Centre.”

Little Zak’s said in a statement, “Please be assured our Artarmon Centre is fully accredited and compliant with all health and regulatory requirements, and we endeavour at all times to operate to the highest standards of care and hygiene. As confirmed by the Northern Sydney Local Health District, we will continue to work closely with its Public Health Unit to ensure these high standards are maintained.”

Pinto defense.


Food Safety Talk 111: The Meat Spot

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.slide-image-1

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Episode 111 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Bigger the brag, bigger the burn: Chipotle Q3 income tanks as food safety issues take toll

I have a cousin who has carried on the family tradition and makes a living growing asparagus.

chipotle-ad-2In Ontario.

The family biz has gotten into all sorts of asparagus by-products and the farm has a large, devoted crowd of customers.

He proclaims his stuff is GMO-free.

Without going into the nuances of that statement, I said to him a few years ago while visiting, what happens if a super-great genetically engineered asparagus comes out that is beneficial to your farm, your income, and your customers?

He was too busy thinking about the present, and that’s fine.

But consumers’ attitudes can change in a heartbeat – or an outbreak.

Chipotle, the purveyors of all things natural, hormone-free, sustainable, GMO-free, dolphin-free and free from whatever apparently wasn’t free from the bacteria and viruses that make people sick.

And when food folks go out on an adjective adventure to make a buck, they sometimes get burned by the realities of biology.

And the bigger the bragging, the bigger the burn.

So it’s no surprise that the depth of the damage from Chipotle Mexican Grill’s food safety issues showed up in yet another quarterly earnings report Tuesday in which net income fell 95% and missed estimates compared to the same quarter in its high-flying days a year ago.

The Denver-based company reported third-quarter net income of $7.8 million, a dramatic fall from $144.9 million a year ago. Per-share earnings totaled 27 cents, compared with $4.59 a year ago. That was well short of the $1.60 estimated by analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Revenue sank 14.8% year-over-year to $1 billion during the quarter despite even though the fast-casual dining chain opened 54 new restaurants with only one closing.

To me, the amazing thing is that people still spend $1 billion a year at calorie-laden faux Mexican food.

Shares of Chipotle fell 2% in after-hours trading to $397.56. The stock has fallen about 38% in the last 12 months.

Chipotle restaurants are clearly struggling from the food safety issue that sickened customers last year and forced the temporary closure of some restaurants. Comparable restaurant sales — or sales of restaurants that have been opened at least a year — tumbled 21.9%. Comparable restaurant sales are estimated to fall again “in the low single-digits” in the fourth quarter, it said.

The company’s management is more optimistic for 2017, partly due to the lower base of comparison. Comparable restaurant sales will increase “in the high single digits,” it estimated Monday. And the company will open 195 to 210 new restaurants next year, after opening more than 220 this year. Per-share earnings next year will be $10, it estimated.

chipotle-diarrhea“We are earning back our customers’ trust, and our research demonstrates that people are feeling better about our brand, and the quality of our food,” Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, said in a statement.

Not quite.

YouGov BrandIndex, a firm that tracks a brand’s reputation, regularly asks this survey question: Is Chipotle high or low quality? Before all the bad food outbreaks, Chipotle scored a very healthy 25 (on a scale of -100 to +100) for quality. It plunged to -5 by February. It has recovered to 9 recently, but that’s still far from where it was.

Translation: Customers don’t see Chipotle as the golden brand it was before the E. coli outbreak.

Be careful, cuz.


Campy in organic and conventional layer chickens

Poultry is a major source of Campylobacter, which can cause foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis in humans. Additionally, poultry-associated Campylobacter can develop resistance to important antimicrobials, which increases the risk to public health. While broiler chickens have been the focus of many studies, the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant Campylobacter on layer farms has not received equal attention. However, the growing popularity of cage-free and organic layer farming necessitates a closer assessment of (1) the impact of these farming practices on the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant Campylobacter and (2) layers as a potential source for the transmission of these pathogens.

chicken-thermHere, we showed that the prevalence of Campylobacter on organic and conventional layer farms was statistically similar (p > 0.05). However, the average number of Campylobacter jejuni-positive organically grown hens was lower (p < 0.05) in comparison to conventionally grown hens. Campylobacter isolated from both production systems carried antimicrobial resistance genes. The tet(O) and cmeB were the most frequently detected genes, while the occurrence of aph-3-1 and blaOXA-61 was significantly lower (p < 0.05). Farming practices appeared to have an effect on the antimicrobial resistance phenotype, because the isolates from organically grown hens on two farms (OF-2 and OF-3) exhibited significantly lower resistance (p < 0.05) to ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, and tylosin. However, on one of the sampled organic farms (OF-1), a relatively high number of antimicrobial-resistant Campylobacter were isolated.

We conclude that organic farming can potentially impact the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant Campylobacter. Nevertheless, this impact should be regularly monitored to avoid potential relapses.

Antimicrobial-resistant Campylobacter in organically and conventionally raised layer chickens

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. September 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2161.

Kassem Issmat I., Kehinde Olugbenga, Kumar Anand, and Rajashekara Gireesh

Perilous produce: FDA Import Alert 99-35

This import alert represents the Agency’s current guidance to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) field personnel regarding the manufacturer(s) and/or product(s) at issue. It does not create or confer any rights for or any person, and does not operate to bind FDA or the public.

lettuce-skull-e-coli-o145Produce is vulnerable to contamination with pathogenic microorganisms if exposed to insanitary conditions during growing, harvesting, packing, holding, or manufacturing, processing, or transportation. Multiple foodborne illness outbreaks have been linked to produce items that were likely contaminated as a result of insanitary conditions during growing, harvesting, packing, holding, manufacturing, processing, or transportation. Produce is of special concern because in many instances it is consumed without further treatment to adequately destroy or remove pathogenic microorganisms.

FDA may document insanitary conditions during an inspection of an establishment that grows, harvests, packs, holds, manufactures, processes, or transports produce. FDA may also use analytical evidence or epidemiological and traceback evidence to establish that a produce item was manufactured, processed, prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions.


Districts may detain, without physical examination, produce items from manufacturers, shippers, farms, packers and/or other entities (firms) identified on the Red List of this import alert.

Examples of evidence FDA may use to place a firm on the Red List include:

  1. Inspectional evidence.
  2. Epidemiological evidence and traceback evidence. This should include evidence implicating the particular produce item as a vehicle in a foodborne illness outbreak (including positive test results), traceback evidence demonstrating that the firm grows, harvests, packs, holds, manufactures, processes, or transports the implicated vehicle, and expert opinion that the outbreak was likely a result of insanitary conditions at the foreign firm (e.g., contamination likely resulted from insanitary conditions due to the typical modes of transmission of the pathogen implicated in the outbreak) or was related to a resident pathogen or systemic contamination at the foreign firm, or both.
  3. Analytical evidence. This should include evidence of a resident organism at the foreign firm and/or systemic contamination at the foreign firm, such as an expert opinion that the analytical evidence indicates insanitary conditions at the foreign firm or indicates a resident pathogen or systemic contamination at the foreign firm, or both. Examples include:

* A pathogen that matches an outbreak strain is isolated from an imported produce item;

* Microbial pathogens that are indistinguishable by one or more genetic tests are isolated from two or more lots of imported produce originating from the same foreign firm.


In order to be removed from the red list, the firm should submit documentation to FDA demonstrating that the firm has made all relevant corrections to overcome the appearance of adulteration, so that the agency will have confidence that future entries will be in compliance with the Act. Examples of such documentation may include:

  1. Documentation to show that inspectional observations or violations identified by FDA have been corrected. Firms whose produce items appear to be adulterated based on inspectional evidence should submit detailed descriptions of the specific steps taken to correct the violations along with documentation such as (as applicable) written plans, field records, packinghouse or facility records, training records, and photographs.
  2. Root cause analysis to identify potential sources and routes of contamination. Firms whose produce items appear to be adulterated based on analytical or epidemiological and traceback evidence should include a detailed root cause analysis to evaluate all aspects of their operations in order to identify potential sources and routes of contamination. The firm should also provide documentation to demonstrate that corrective actions to adequately control the sources and routes of contamination identified in the root cause analysis have been implemented.

cantaloupe-salmonellaFDA recommends that the firm’s submission be organized according to the following areas, as appropriate to the firm’s practices, processes, and procedures:

– Water adequacy for irrigation, agricultural sprays, cooling, and other uses;

– Soil amendment and biosolids;

– Animal management;

– Worker health and hygiene;

– Sanitary facilities, disposal of sewage and silage;

– Equipment cleaning and sanitation;

– Farm or facility sanitation;

– Transportation; and

– Programs to monitor produce safety practices, processes and procedures and to take corrective actions when measures fail or are not fully implemented.

The firm may wish to refer to FDA’s Guidance for Industry: Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, or similar guidance, to assist them in their root cause analysis and corrective action. Additional guidance for produce, including commodity specific guidance, may be found the FDA website at

Salmonella positive sprouts sold in Ireland

Seán McCárthaigh of The Times reports that EU inspectors auditing food hygiene practices in Ireland found European regulations were being broken, particularly in relation to seeds and sprouts.

kevin-allen-sproutIn November last year, four official samples of sprouts tested positive for salmonella. However, the batch was placed on the market without waiting for the final analytical results.

The Department of Agriculture said it had increased controls on businesses involved in the production of sprouts.

The European Food Safety Authority has estimated that food of non-animal origin was associated with 10 per cent of outbreaks of E.coli across the EU between 2007 and 2011; 35 per cent of hospitalisations and 46 per cent of deaths.

It linked leafy greens eaten raw as well as bulb and stem vegetables such as tomatoes and melons with salmonella and fresh pods, legumes and grains with E. coli.

The inspectors said the system of official controls in Ireland on food producers was supported by a well-functioning network of adequately staffed and equipped laboratories.

The EU report found that 13 per cent of registered primary producers of non-animal food were inspected last year.

There are 761 registered producers of fruit, vegetables and potatoes in Ireland as well as 88 producers of leafy green vegetables, 30 producers of soft fruit, 17 producers of sprouted seed, 301 producers of potatoes only and 225 others including 80 mushroom producers.

CFIA suspends organic food processor

Jim Romahn of Agri 007 reports the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has suspended the registration of Establishment 691, Thomas Canning Ltd., of Maidstone, Ont. (Jim also supplied the pic of this real, but unrelated jar of salsa.)

barf-in-a-jarThe company, which says it is the only organic food processor in Ontario, specializes in tomatoes and juices.

The CFIA “the operator failed to make corrections to three non-compliances identified during an inspection performed in 2014.

Thomas Canning Ltd., will not be allowed to export, trade interprovincially, or apply a Canadian grade mark to products regulated under the Processed Products Regulations until the necessary corrective actions have been implemented and the CFIA has verified that the regulatory requirements can be consistently maintained.”

But go ahead, Ontario, eat up.

Mircobiologically speaking: Should you make out with your dog?

“You sleep with your dog? That’s microbiologically sorta gross.”

miley-cyrus-kissing-dogThat was the first thing I said to Dr. Amy Hubbell, during a seminar in 2005, and I had no idea who she was.

I also told her organic food was not safer – and probably less safer – than conventional food, and that all that French food was overpriced shit.

Or something like that.

Whether or not such practices are microbiologically gross enters into the domain of how to analyze risk, and how to provide advice. Chapman, Schaffner and I always say variations on the same thing: we ain’t your pastors, you decide what’s right, but here’s some info and you decide.

Christopher Mele of The New York Times writes: beware of too much dog kissing.

Especially if your dog likes to eat poop (coprophagia).

You kiss your mother with that mouth?

Dr. Neilanjan Nandi, an assistant professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, said in an email that most animals’ mouths are host to “an enormous oral microbiome of bacteria, viruses and yeast.”

Dr. Nandi says a dog’s saliva has proteins that may help cleanse or heal its own wounds, but in a paragraph titled “Why Not to Make Out With Your Pet,” he noted, “There are some organisms unique to dogs that we were simply not meant to tolerate or combat.”

Some bacteria in dogs’ mouths are zoonotic, meaning the animals can pass them to humans and cause disease.

Some common zoonotic bacteria include clostridium, E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause severe gastrointestinal disease in humans, said Dr. Leni K. Kaplan, a lecturer of community practice service at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

mika1-004So I shouldn’t let my dog lick me at all?

Not entirely.

“When dog saliva touches intact human skin, especially in a healthy person, it is extremely unlikely to cause any problems, as there will be very little absorption through the skin,” Dr. Kaplan wrote in an email.

However, a dog’s saliva and pathogens can be absorbed more easily through the mucous membranes of a person’s nose, mouth and eyes. Though illnesses transmitted this way are rare, Dr. Kaplan said it was best to avoid having your dog lick those parts of your face.

John Oxford, a professor of virology at Queen Mary University of London and an expert in microbiology, said he would never let a dog lick his face, The Hippocratic Post reported.

“It is not just what is carried in saliva,” he said. “Dogs spend half of their life with their noses in nasty corners or hovering over dog droppings so their muzzles are full of bacteria, viruses and germs of all sorts.”

Other infections, such as hookworms and roundworms, can be transmitted in a practice called coprophagia, in which animals ingest one another’s stool or by licking each others’ anuses, Dr. Nandi said in an email.

Dr. Joe Kinnarney, the immediate past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said in an interview that one study calculated that a puppy could have as many as 20 million to 30 million roundworm eggs in its intestinal tract in one week. He said a client’s child at his practice in Greensboro, N.C., nearly lost an eye from a roundworm infection.

It is conceivable that a dog with fecal material in its mouth could transmit an intestinal parasite to a human through licking, but that is rare, Dr. Sarah Proctor, a clinical assistant professor and the director of the veterinary technology program at the University of New Hampshire, said in an email.

More commonly, a parasite can be contracted by ingesting contaminated soil — via a home garden, for example — where pets have left their droppings.

President Obama even touched on the subject in an interview with Wired magazine that was published in August:

“I still don’t let Sunny and Bo lick me, because when I walk them on the side lawn, some of the things I see them picking up and chewing on, I don’t want that, man,” Mr. Obama said, laughing.

Dr. Proctor says people should be aware that not all dogs want to be hugged or kissed.

“Most people do not pick up on a dog’s subtle body language that shows fear, stress or aggression,” she wrote. “Putting your face into a dog’s face and kissing it could lead to a bite on the face if you are not careful.”

Cats do not eat feces, and humans are therefore unlikely to become infected by parasites from them, according to the website petMD.

Cats’ mouths do harbor Pasteurella, which can cause infections of the skin and lymph node, and Bartonella henselae, a bacterium that can cause a severe skin and lymph node infection known as cat scratch fever, the website reported.

Most of those infections come from bites or scratches.

What precautions should I take?

Experts recommend:

  • Make sure your pet is current on all vaccines.
  • New pets should undergo deworming.
  • Keep your pets away from the feces of other animals.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

Arden Moore, who hosts “Oh Behave,” a podcast on Pet Life Radio, said in an email that she welcomed the occasional kiss from her five dogs and one cat, and kisses the tops of their heads in return.

“Pets, just like people, crave attention and affection,” she said. “As long as I remain healthy and my pets stay healthy, I will take this ‘risk’ and accept their kisses.”

It’s a thing: Hemp milk

Marty McCarthy of ABC (the Australian version) reports Stuart Larssons, a soybean grower at Mallanganee in northern New South Wales, wants to produce hemp milk.

5779714-3x2-340x227“If you’ve tasted hemp milk it’s a lovely mild product to drink, high in omega sixes and threes, all the good things in there,” Mr Larssons said.

Hemp is a species of cannabis although, unlike marijuana, it has low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Hemp milk is made by crushing the seeds and mixing them with water.

The milk is already sold overseas, although it cannot be sold legally as a food product in Australia yet.

In 2015 food and health ministers in Australia and New Zealand rejected an application by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to permit the sale of foods made from low-THC hemp seeds.

Authorities were worried about the impact eating or drinking hemp products may have on roadside drug testing.

They also thought legalising hemp seed products would send a confusing message about the safety of its controversial cousin, cannabis.

Commonwealth, state, territory and New Zealand food ministers have asked FSANZ to address these information gaps, and then work on a proposal that would reconsider low-THC hemp being legally designated as a food.

If they do, Mr Larssons, who made a name for himself in the soy milk market, is keen to replicate that success in the hemp milk market.

“It’s like anything new, it has got to be tested and proven there’s nothing wrong with the product, so we’ve just got to wait for what the food authorities say,” he said.