250 paratroopers stricken with food poisoning in Israel

Some 250 members of the IDF Paratroopers 202nd Battalion came down with food poisoning after eating Friday night dinner at their base this past weekend.

paratroppersThe soldiers are currently stationed on the Golan Heights, where they are taking part in a battalion-wide exercise that began last Monday and which might have to be suspended due to the soldiers’ health.

Some of the soldiers told Channel 2’s news site that on Friday they had arrived at Pilon Camp in northern Israel, where they were to spend the weekend. The soldiers said they were served a dinner of sautéed chicken, and some noticed that the chicken smelled bad.

13 sickened: Handwashing is never enough and why I’m wary of animal displays: Crypto outbreak contained in Michigan

An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis at the Centreville High School agriculture program sent one student to the hospital and infected 12 others, according to Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency.

cow.poop2The outbreak is contained and the hospitalized student has been released.

The outbreak came in early March in the co-op vet/ag science program run through St. Joseph Intermediate School District and involving students from throughout the county, according to Rebecca Burns, environmental health director.

The parasite is commonly found near calves, Burns said the health agency identified the calf program as the source.

“The school is all in to make sure this doesn’t happened again,” Burns said. “The problem was traced to poor hand-washing.”

Burns said there was hand sanitizer in the barn, but that alone is not enough.

cow_hug_cumberland“Nothing beats soap, water and friction to get rid of the parasite,” she said.

Two other major outbreaks of crypto were reported in the tri-county health district since 2011. In Hillsdale County in 2012, 28 people were infected at a pool party. In 2011, a Quincy firefighter was hospitalized and 19 others infected while fighting a fire at a calf barn. Firefighters used water from a pond nearby to extinguish the blaze.

100 lawyers sickened at banquet in Philly

“What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

“An excellent start.

“l used to resent jokes like that.

“Now l see them as simple truths.”

danny.devito.war.rosesDanny DeVito in the truly fabulous divorce movie, War of the Roses.

Sam Wood of Philly.com writes that nearly 100 lawyers and law students were sickened last month after attending a banquet celebrating the Lunar New Year in Chinatown.

But even though the restaurant has a history of food-safety problems stretching back several years, the city Health Department says it cannot publicly discuss details of its investigation, citing a 1955 state law.

That law hasn’t silenced the outbreak’s victims.

It’s that social media thing, and restaurants better get used to it – fast.

About 250 people attended the feast Feb. 27 at Joy Tsin Lau, the venerable dim sum restaurant at 10th and Race Streets. Dozens of the diners reported that they felt the first symptoms two mornings later.

Chi Mabel Chan, who has owned Joy Tsin Lau for more than 30 years, denied that the diners had suffered food poisoning from the banquet.

“It was not a problem with my restaurant,” she said, theorizing that chilly weather or festivities at a karaoke bar after the dinner might be to blame.

001679_12“Maybe they got cold or drank too much,” she said of the victims.

Wow.

Good luck with that in court. Against lawyers.

The eight-course dinner – well-documented on social media – was a fund-raiser for a group of Temple University law students, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association.

“This was the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever witnessed,” Antima Chakraborty, a Philadelphia assistant district attorney, wrote on Yelp, a restaurant review site. “Many individuals had to go to the ER.”

City inspection reports show that Joy Tsin Lau has long had a problem maintaining food-safety standards.

Just 17 days before the banquet, a Health Department sanitarian was at Joy Tsin Lau to check back on an earlier problem. In a report dated Feb. 10, Kyria Weng wrote “that current management practices have allowed unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions.”

An Inquirer analysis of city inspection reports found that the average eat-in restaurant in Philadelphia last year had 2.3 risk factors for foodborne illness, the more serious of the two main categories defined by the Food and Drug Administration.

Weng cited Joy Tsin Lau for five such risk factors. Several of those – dumplings held at a bacteria-friendly 57 degrees, and a lack of soap and paper towels in the employee restroom – were noted as repeat violations. Weng also found nine lesser violations, called “lack of good retail practices.”

But that was an improvement over Weng’s Dec. 22 visit, when she cited the restaurant for seven risk factors for foodborne illness (including a chicken held at unsafe temperatures) and 13 lesser violations.

Back in 2010, the city Health Department filed suit against Joy Tsin Lau after deeming it a “public nuisance” and issued a cease-and-desist order for “failure to ensure that public-health standards for a safe and sanitary operation . . . are being maintained.”

City legal officials did not respond to questions asking if the city ever acted on the order or if the restaurant ever was forced to close.

David S. Haase, a Center City lawyer, said he began to feel nauseated about 30 hours after the banquet. Contrary to Chan’s theory, he said he was warmly dressed and did not go to the karaoke bar.

A combination of nonstop puking and explosive diarrhea kept him bedridden for four days.

“It was freaking terrible,” Haase said. “I’d crawl back into bed and curl up into a ball, moaning like a child with the cramps.”

Organizers, in a post-banquet e-mail to attendees, said multiple guests had sought medical attention.

Thursday, nearly four weeks after the banquet, Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran would say only that a “food source” had been identified for the outbreak.

“We are not permitted, by law, to publicly release the findings of outbreak investigations,” Moran said.

Bullshit.

He cited the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955, which prohibits health authorities from disclosing reports or records of diseases. Though the law primarily addresses patients with venereal diseases and tuberculosis, its confidentiality clause keeps secret the details of all health investigations.

Most states have similar laws, according to Scott Burris, the codirector at Temple University’s Center for Health Law, Policy, and Practice.

“It’s pretty typical,” Burris said. “Pennsylvania is not an outlier.”

Investigators need some secrecy to collect sensitive information, he said, but the laws may go too far when it comes to alerting the public of potential threats.

“That’s a price we pay,” Burris said of secrecy laws. “It’s probably worth working on our privacy laws to see if we can find an approach that lowers that price.”

But there is no law silencing the sickened.

“If you enjoy being on your back for the 48 hours post-dinner writhing in pain, burning up, and exploding out of all orifices, then this is the restaurant for you,” wrote Jack Jiang, a University of Pennsylvania researcher who attended the banquet with his girlfriend.

In an e-mail to a reporter, Jiang said he had been bedridden for three days and suffered lingering effects through the end of the week.

Haase, who missed his daughter’s championship track meet due to the illness, said he had contacted a Health Department coordinator, who told him the outbreak was likely brought on by norovirus.

Norovirus, the most common cause of foodborne illness, sickens about 20 million people a year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pathogen is often spread by contact with an infected person or by ingesting food or water contaminated by fecal matter. Acute gastroenteritis strikes usually between 24 and 48 hours after exposure to norovirus.

Caroline Johnson, director of the city’s division of disease control, said she couldn’t talk specifics, but in general said the goal of investigations “is to find out what happened, correct that problem, and move on.”

As for the secrecy, she said, “We don’t want to drive underground the facts we want to uncover.”

Her agency told Haase about the norovirus because “we feel that by telling them, they won’t need to have the wrong antibiotic prescribed to them or have unnecessary testing. It’s the right medical thing to do. I wouldn’t withhold information from them because it might have medical significance to their situation.”

Norovirus would have a much quicker onset than two days.

UK supermarkets block efforts to tackle Campylobacter

Government can’t do much to hold food producers accountable, but consumers can. That’s why microbial food safety should be marketed at retail, so consumers can vote with their dollars (or pounds).

campy.chickenThe UK Food Standards Agency has declared that supermarkets are blocking efforts to tackle Campylobacter, which is found in up to 79 per cent of raw birds on sale.

Levels are dangerously high in 19 per cent of chickens and the agency has demanded this figure should be below 10 per cent by year’s end.

It says however that Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose and the Co-op are failing to help. Only Marks & Spencer is giving updates on its plans and progress in tackling campylobacter.

Professor Paul Wiles of the FSA said the industry’s response had been ‘unacceptable’.

Chief executive Catherine Brown said supermarkets had ‘pushed back’ against providing information and claimed the stores were unhappy over the FSA’s publication of campylobacter league tables.

To date, only M&S has given the FSA details of its comprehensive plan to tackle campylobacter, which involves changes on farms and in slaughterhouses.

Prepared Indian foods recalled for botulism concerns in Scotland

A range of pre-prepared Indian foods from the Mrs Unis brand have been recalled by the Food Standards Agency following concerns over the Edinburgh-based company’s procedures to control Clostridium botulinum.

shaheen.unisThe brand, headed by veteran businesswoman Shaheen Unis, dubbed “Scotland’s curry queen”, was ordered to withdraw a range of ‘atmosphere packed’ products – including six different tyypes of pakora – from sale as a “precautionary measure”. The FSA said that there was “not enough evidence” to show that the products are safe to eat, warning that the process controls at the company’s factory at the Peffermill industrial estate, which provides foods for the retail, catering and wholesale market, were not effective in their ability to prevent the growth and toxin production of the bacterium.

6 sick with campy: California warns of raw milk

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today warned consumers that the consumption of unpasteurized (raw) dairy products may cause serious illness. Six Northern California residents have recently been diagnosed with campylobacteriosis, a bacterial infection that can come from consuming contaminated raw milk.

raw.milk.claravaleA recent investigation conducted by CDPH identified multiple bottles of Claravale Farm raw milk that tested positive for Campylobacter. Under the direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Claravale Farm has initiated a recall of the affected product.

Although the sale of raw milk from some dairies is legal in California, CDPH does not recommend drinking raw milk or raw milk products or giving raw milk, colostrum, raw cream or other raw milk products to children. Raw milk products sold in California are required to carry a warning label:

“WARNING: Raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing microorganisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.”

There’s sick people: Campy in raw milk sparks recall Claravale Farm products in Calif

The press release writers used the same ending three years ago when Claravale raw milk stuff was quarantined, and eventually linked 22 sick people to the products. Epidemiology still works.

colbert_raw_milk(5)Raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream produced by Claravale Farm of San Benito County are the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  

The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of Campylobacter bacteria in Claravale Farm’s raw milk and raw cream from samples collected and tested by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).  

CDPH found the campylobacter bacteria in samples collected as part of an investigation of illnesses that may have been associated with Claravale Farm raw milk.  No illnesses have been definitively attributed to the products at this time.  However, CDPH is continuing its epidemiological investigation of reported clusters of campylobacter illness where consumption of raw milk products may have occurred.

How many sick people this time?

Campy in UK baby sparks formula investigation

Aptamil is investigating a complaint that some of its baby milk might be linked to an 11-week-old boy getting food poisoning.

campy.baby.formula.mar.15Laura Stevens found 50p-sized blood spots in her son Roman’s nappy and took him to the doctors.

He was sent to hospital where he remained for a week with constant diarrhea and a temperature. Doctors said he had a campylobacter infection but could not give a source.

Miss Stevens, a first-time mum, said the only food she had given her son was Aptamil milk powder – but the company’s initial quality checks have come back clear.

The 30-year-old, from Swindon, Wiltshire, said: ‘Roman’s tests came back and showed he had food poisoning.

‘I was gobsmacked, his insides had swollen from the food poisoning and the blood was the bacteria trying to get out of his little body.’

The insurance worker said Roman was left lethargic and pale while he was in hospital. The strain of bacteria is commonly found in meat and poultry.

While Aptamil is investigating she has stopped giving Roman the product and switched to a different milk product.

Aptamil confirmed it is investigating and said it had not had any other complaints.

A spokesman said: ‘We are aware of this complaint and are concerned to hear that Roman had been unwell.

‘We have been in contact with her and are pleased that he is recovering.

‘All our milks are manufactured to stringent quality standards including high temperature processing and a number of quality tests before they are released for sale.

‘We have checked our production records and know that all of the quality checks were carried out. We have not received any other similar complaints.”

Public Health England said it had not been asked to investigate but were aware of a confirmed case of campylobacter in a young child in the Swindon area.

400 sick: High school students in China riot over mass food poisoning

Thousands of disgruntled students smashed up their high school campus in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou in the early hours of Friday morning after an outbreak of food poisoning made hundreds of them sick.

china.students.fbiStudents at Guizhou’s Puding County No. 1 High School ran riot through their dormitories, smashing windows and prompting China’s ruling Communist Party county leaders to rush to the school to deal with the incident, the county government said in a statement on its website.

It said no one was hurt, but made no mention of the mass food poisoning incident, prompting a slew of critical comments on social media sites.

Social media posts said 3,000 students at the high school’s Hengshui campus near Guizhou’s Anshun city had also staged large-scale protests after more than 400 students became ill.

“Why were the students rioting? Because on Thursday night, the ambulances just kept coming to the campus all night,” one user wrote. “The ambulances came from the People’s Hospital, the Chinese Medicine Hospital and the Youhao Hospital.”

“How must the parents feel when they get to the campus and see their kids at death’s door?”

The tweet said protesting students were also angry over high fees and frequent use of out-of-date foods in the canteen.