Heston still don’t know food safety, and Aust. viewers thought he was on acid

In late February 2009, complaints from customers who suffered vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms began pouring celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s UK restaurant, the Fat Duck.

A report by the UK Health Protection Agency concluded that 529 patrons paying a ridiculous amount of money for food-porn styled dishes were sickened with Norovirus – this at a restaurant that only seats 40 patrons per night — introduced through contaminated shellfish, including oysters that were served raw and razor clams that may not have been appropriately handled or cooked.

Investigators identified several weaknesses in procedures at the restaurant that may have contributed to ongoing transmission including: delayed response to the incident, the use of inappropriate environmental cleaning products, and staff working when ill. Up to 16 of the restaurant’s food handlers were reportedly working with Norovirus symptoms before it was voluntarily closed

Last night, Heston appeared on Australian current affairs program, The Project, and left hosts and viewers scratching their heads.

Appearing on the show to promote the announcement of the world’s 50 best restaurants, Blumenthal was asked a simple question by Waleed Aly but gave the world’s most confusing answer, with some viewers joking he might have been on “acid.”

“What is it that makes a great restaurant?” Aly asked.

“This might seem a little tangential,” Blumenthal replied, which turned out to be the understatement of the year.

“Human beings became the most powerful species on the planet because through being able to imagine things that don’t exist we created shared beliefs. So all the things that happened after humans: religion, money, language, cultures, social media, fairy tales, they are very human being.

“The reason that happened was the brain trebled in size for lots of reasons but primarily through eating cooked food. It broke the food down and our gut changed and this [touches head] is on top of our body to protect, because this [touches neck] is where the next generation are prepared for life.”

Blumenthal’s answer was met with blank stares from The Project panelists, but the celebrity chef pushed on.

“And so the thing, we should be called omnivores or herbivores, we’re coctivores … we are interdependent beings,” he said.

“We’ve been able to work collectively in numbers larger than any other creature and our efficiency in group learning has become quicker, quicker, quicker, quicker. We don’t have to climb a mountain to get water every day, we don’t have to kill an animal to the death to feed our children.”

The Project’s resident smarty pants, Waleed Aly, interjected and said, “That explains why we like restaurants, but how do we tell the good ones from the bad ones?”

And Blumenthal was off again.
“We have two universes,” he said.

“We have our internal universe, our human being and we have our human doing. We have our feelings and our emotions and then we have getting on in life … The problem that’s happening is we are confusing the two things. We are thinking that our happiness is going to be developed by a numerical system … thank god we have because that’s what’s got us to where we’ve got to.

(Hang in there, it’s almost over)

“There’s a palliative care nurse that wrote a piece in The Guardian last year, the most common things, regrets people had while they were passing away and it was they wished they lived a life true to themselves,” Blumenthal said.

“If every human being had an ambition not to have that feeling, and that’s because our new brain that came from eating cooked food … starts to fade and then our raw emotion comes through and we realise, actually, this is about emotion. Food is about emotion.”

Food is also about sustenance, enjoyment, socializing, and not making one barf.

Heston is a master of both food and words to make one barf.

Seattle’s Crab Pot source of foodborne outbreak

Any place called the Crab Pot should welcome foodborne illness, or other STDs.

King County public health investigated an outbreak of gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea associated with The Crab Pot restaurant located at 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle. Five people from the same meal party became ill after eating at the restaurant on 3/4/2017. We do not have laboratory confirmation of the etiology, but symptoms are suggestive of norovirus. Often in norovirus outbreaks no laboratory testing is done.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Norovirus sickens 49 at glitzy Ginza eatery Bvlgari in Tokyo

A luxury restaurant in the posh Ginza district in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward has been hit by food poisoning caused by norovirus with 49 people showing symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Tuesday.

la-cuccina-di-luca-fantin-bvlgari-food-book9The affected people were among 138 participants in a stand-up party held at Bvlgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin on Dec. 11, and their symptoms appeared on Dec. 12-13, according to the metropolitan government.

The ward ordered the restaurant to suspend its business for three days from Tuesday, though it has already been closed since Friday.

This was the second norovirus poisoning case at the restaurant after one in March 2010.

Strategies? Cook ‘em: 120 sicken by noro in raw oysters in BC

Oysters are officially to blame for a norovirus outbreak that originated in Tofino last month.

“We do know of at least 120 people who became ill with norovirus and it was because of exposure to raw oysters,” Island Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback told Andrew Bailey of Westerly News on Monday.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada shut down all shellfish harvesting in a portion of Lemmens Inlet last week and Hasselback suggested further closures could be coming.

“The investigation isn’t quite complete. There are some loose ends and there may be further actions,” he said. “We can’t put every oyster back exactly where it came from but, believe it or not, we can actually track lots of oysters as to where they were processed, harvested and transported and that’s all been part of this investigation.”

tofinos-clayoquot-oyster-festivalOysters were the primary suspect in Island Health’s investigation from the onset as roughly 30 reports of norovirus cases came in in the immediate aftermath of Tofino’s Clayoquot Oyster Festival.

Hasselback said the number of reported cases ballooned from 30 to 120 after anyone who became sick after attending the festival was encouraged to report in.

“We certainly did get individuals who had consumed the product in Tofino that had gone to other provinces, or even south of the border, who were notifying us of illness so it’s good to know that the communication channels worked well,” he said.

He said the oysters were likely contaminated before arriving at the Oyster Festival’s tables.

“The investigation strongly suggests that the oysters were already contaminated with norovirus before they came to any of those locations so there was nothing that the festival people or other locations would have had any control over or would have known about,” he said.

tofinos-clayoquot-oyster-festival-2“Unfortunately we don’t have easy lab testing for things like viruses that would make it simple to screen the product before it gets out and then we end up finding out afterwards that potentially was contaminated.”

He said he has spoken with festival organizers to hash out strategies for next year.

He said the recent Tofino outbreak is the largest norovirus cluster he’s seen in the past five years but noted it was not unprecedented.

“We have seen it before,” he said. “We know this can occur.”

Today in norovirus news

Winter vomiting virus, noro, Norwalk, whatever you want to call it, is all the rage right now. There are so many outbreaks it’s hardly new and novel.

Today, two schools in Denver shut due to an outbreak. And one in Florida.10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n1-300x3001-300x300-1

A hotel in Ireland also closed for to control the virus through cleaning and disinfection after residents, staff and guests came down with gastrointestinal illness symptoms. Sounds like a memorable wedding.

 

Rutgers hit with noro outbreak

Some Rutgers University students had a nasty gastrointestinal illness last week that is likely norovirus, according to the Daily Targum. Don and I talked about this outbreak on the podcast today. Rutgers has a few things working for them: the semester is over (leaving lots of time to clean and sanitize; and less places for the virus to be transmitted), and Schaffner is there providing some technical advice.

At least 35 students are complaining of feeling sick after a suspected virus broke out on campus around Dec. 7.10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n1-300x3001-300x300-1

Many of these students, who claim to have eaten in the Livingston and Brower Dining Halls, believe they are suffering from food poisoning. But University Sanitarian John Nason said he does not think this is a food-borne illness.

“The virus is people-to-people. We don’t believe it’s food-borne,” he said. “Most people are getting sick 90 minutes to two hours after eating, which doesn’t make sense. Most people who get sick after eating think it’s food poisoning.”

He said the onset time of 90 minutes to two hours does not equivocate to a food-borne virus, considering viruses such as E. coli and salmonella have an onset time of about six to 48 hours.

Managing a norovirus outbreak is a bit tricky, here are a couple of infosheets we’ve used/developed over the years that might be of use.

Norovirus is a problem for campuses and cafeterias

Vomiting and fecal episodes

Over 250 sick from Norovirus in Montana

 

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced Wednesday that in the last three months there have been 12 norovirus outbreaks in Montana that have sickened more than 250 people.

turkey-testicle-festivalThis is three times the number of outbreaks usually reported during this time of year.

Outbreaks have occurred in the counties of Cascade, Flathead, Rosebud, Sanders, Valley and Yellowstone.

“Most of these outbreaks occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, putting our elderly population at risk,” said Dana Fejes of the DPHHS Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section. “Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water often can protect you and others from norovirus.”

62 sick: Norovirus fingered in Mississippi military retirement home outbreak

The illness sickening residents at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport has been identified as norovirus.

norovirusMedia outlets report that since Monday, 62 residents have become ill and nine have been hospitalized. Affected residents reported symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Testing by the Mississippi Department of Health has confirmed that norovirus is the illness.

The AFRH says it continues to enact precautionary measures, like posted notices about the importance of hand washing and sanitation.

Norovirus: Over 100 sickened by raw oysters on Vancouver Island

CBC reports Island Health says Norovirus is likely to blame after more than 100 people who ate raw oysters in Tofino earlier this month fell ill.

osoyoos-oyster-festival-sampling-feature-600x403Roughly 120 people, many of whom had attended the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, suffered gastrointestinal symptoms last week.

But Island Health says people got sick at more than one location, and that people reported being ill over the course of several days.

They say it appears everyone who became ill consumed raw oysters from the same supplier, who is not being named. 

Why not? Going public failure.

“The predominant amount of evidence clearly shows that raw oysters at that particular point in time that were available were the cause of the illness,” said Paul Hasselback, a medical health officer for Island Health.

norovirusHasselback says they are now investigating how the affected oysters were harvested and transported.

There have been a number of shellfish-related illnesses in B.C. in the past two years, and officials have warned that the warming climate is linked to an increase in food poisoning from oysters.