I don’t go to restaurants much anymore: Too many fake beliefs, not enough science

Beginning in April, 2011, 190 people were sickened with Salmonella Heidelberg linked to partially-cooked chicken livers throughout six U.S. states.

There have been endless outbreaks, especially of Campylobacter in the UK linked to similar products.

Stephen Luscombe, who runs the Golden Ball in Lower Assendon, UK, admitted serving undercooked calves’ liver in 2015.

Two diners suffered food poisoning and others suffered symptoms after eating a dish containing the meat at the restaurant.

Luscombe was fined £4,434, ordered to pay £5,284 costs and a victim surcharge of £120. 

Luscombe admitted serving food on the premises that was unsafe as it had been inadequately cooked and failing to implement and maintain legally required food safety procedures, including those for the safe cooking of high risk foods. 

Magistrates heard South Oxfordshire District Council, the environmental health authority, was asked to investigate after a member of the public suffered campylobacter food poisoning after eating at the restaurant.

Environmental health officers carried out an immediate unannounced inspection and found that the diners had been offered a set menu including calves’ liver for the main course.

They found the calves’ liver had been cooked at too low a temperature.

The restaurant was found to have no protocol to ensure high risk items, such as liver, were cooked according to recommendations from the Food Standards Agency.

It also failed to complete required monitoring records for almost three months, meaning it was failing to meet its legal requirements for food safety. 

1 dead, 3 sick, 2016 Indiana restaurant: It was the C. perfringens in mystery food (probably sitting on the counter for far too long)

When people die from stupid food safety mistakes, are the rest of restaurant goers supposed to just pass it off, like industry, government and academic associations, or should the families be pissed?

Katie Cox of The Indy Channel writes that Indiana State Department of Health says it is “highly likely” that food from a West Lafayette restaurant was the cause of a man’s death last October.

The health department began their investigation into the Agave Azul on Sagamore Parkway after four people reported becoming sick shortly after eating at the restaurant on October 22, 2016. The four had eaten dishes containing beef, pork or chicken.

One of those four, Alexander Zdravich, 66, was hospitalized because of the severity of his illness. Despite aggressive medical treatment, the health department said Zdravich died on October 26.

It’s only water safety but I like it: Chlorine is a friend, multiple failings in NZ campy-in-water outbreak that sickened 5500 and killed 3

On Sunday, May 21, 2000, at 1:30 p.m., the Bruce Grey Owen Sound Health Unit in Ontario (that’s in Canada) posted a notice to hospitals and physicians on their web site to make them aware of a boil water advisory for Walkerton, and that a suspected agent in the increase of diarrheal cases was E. coli O157:H7.

Walkerton Water Tower

Not a lot of people were using RSS feeds, and I don’t know if the health unit web site had must-visit status in 2000. But Walkerton, a town of 5,000, was already rife with rumors that something was making residents sick, and many suspected

the water supply. The first public announcement was also the Sunday of the Victoria Day or May 24 long weekend and received scant media coverage.

It wasn’t until Monday evening that local television and radio began reporting illnesses, stating that at least 300 people in Walkerton were ill.

At 11:00 a.m., on Tuesday May 23, the Walkerton hospital jointly held a media conference with the health unit to inform the public of outbreak, make the public aware of the potential complications of the E. coli O157:H7 infection, and to tell the public to take necessary precautions. This generated a print report in the local paper the next day, which was picked up by the national wire service Tuesday evening, and subsequently appeared in papers across Canada on May 24.

The E. coli was thought to originate on a farm owned by a veterinarian and his family at the edge of town, a cow-calf operation that was the poster farm for Environmental Farm Plans. Heavy rains washed cattle manure into a long discarded well-head which was apparently still connected to the municipal system. The brothers in charge of the municipal water system for Walkerton were found to add chlorine based on smell rather than something like test strips, and were criminally convicted.

Ultimately, 2,300 people were sickened and seven died. All the gory details and mistakes and steps for improvement were outlined in the report of the Walkerton inquiry, available at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/walkerton/.

In Aug. 2016, some 5,500 people in a New Zealand town of 14,000 were sickened with Campylobacter linked to the water supply and three died.

Didn’t chlorinate.

Just like Walkerton, where a drunk employee was found to adjust chlorine levels based on smell, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand also had some lax procedures.

A panel looking into last year’s outbreak made the first stage of its findings public at Hastings District Court on Wednesday.

It identified several failings by the Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and drinking water assessors.

The outbreak in August last year made some 5500 of the town’s 14,000 residents ill with campylobacteriosis. It put 45 in hospital and was linked to three deaths.

The contamination was later found to have entered the town’s drinking water bores. Panel chair Lyn Stevens QC said the outbreak “shook public confidence” in this fundamental service of providing safe drinking water and it raised “serious questions” about the safety and security of New Zealand’s drinking water.

The district and regional councils did not directly cause the outbreak, but their “dysfunctional relationship” and their lack of co-operation resulted in a number of missed opportunities that may have prevented it from occurring.

Knowledge and awareness of aquifer and contamination risks near Brookvale Rd fell below “required standards” and it failed to take effective steps to assess the risk, including the management of the many uncapped or disused bores in the vicinity, and the monitoring of the district council’s resource consent to take the water.

Walkerton redux.

The district council “failed to embrace or implement the high standard of care required of a public drinking-water supplier,” particularly in light of a similar outbreak in the district in 1998, from which it appeared to have learned nothing.

The council’s mid-level managers especially failed, Stevens said. They delegated tasks but did not adequately supervise or ensure implementation of requirements. This led to unacceptable delays in developing the council’s water safety plan which would have been “fundamental in addressing the risks of the outbreak.”

That’s a polite way of saying, people care more about their retirement than others, and often fuck up.

Drinking Water Assessors were also at fault, with Stevens finding they were “too hands off” in applying the drinking water standards.

Sounds like food safety auditors.

They should have been stricter in requiring the district council to comply with responsibilities with its water safety plan, he said.

“They failed to address the [council] sufficiently about the lack of risk assessment and the link between the bores and the nearby pond.”

Nicki Harper of Hawkes Bay Today wrote a high number of positive E. coli readings in the Havelock North and Hastings water supplies over the years, dating back to a 1998 water contamination event similar to last year’s Havelock North campylobacter outbreak, caused bureau-types to do, nothing.

It was confirmed yesterday that the most likely source of the contamination was sheep feces that ran off a paddock following heavy rain on August 5 and 6 into the Mangateretere pond near Brookvale Bore 1.

Water from the pond then entered into the aquifer and flowed across to Bore 1 where it was pumped into the reticulation, Mr Stevens said.

The son of an elderly woman who died shortly after contracting Campylobacter during the Havelock North gastro crisis says she had “good innings” despite her death.

Jean Sparksman, 89, was one of three elderly people whose deaths were linked to the outbreak and had been living in the Mary Doyle retirement village at the time of the crisis.

Speaking from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula in Auckland yesterday, Mrs Sparksman’s son, Keith, said her death shouldn’t have happened the way it did.

“She contracted this bug but there were no steps taken to help. That’s probably why she died in the first place.”

The failures are all too familiar: space shuttle Challenger, Bhopal, BP in the Gulf, Listeria in Maple Leaf cold cuts, Walkerton: the tests said things were not good. But a human condition kicked in: Nothing bad happened yesterday so there is a greater chance of nothing bad happening today.

All these people fucked up, and others got sick.

Yet government, industry and academia will trod along, piling up retirement savings, until the next shitfest comes along.

So just watch this stupid Stones video with Keith out of his mind.

Nothing bad will really happen.

300 French schoolchildren sickened by ‘gone-off cheese’

Katie Forster of The Independent reports a dodgy batch of smelly French cheese has been blamed for a mass food poisoning outbreak at schools in Normandy.

All French cheese smalls bad.

Dodgy is not a microbiologically–specific term.

An investigation launched after 300 children fell ill in the town of Rouen named the culprit as gone-off cheese served up by school canteens.

One parent said her child would be avoiding school meals after the scandal, telling local media: “I’d prefer to take them to a fast food place”.

Local authorities inspected the producers of the cheese – a soft, mould-ripened local variety called neufchâtel – but were unable to identify the origin of the contamination.

The children began to suffer headaches, vomiting and stomach aches after eating the cheese at 54 different primary schools and nurseries on 27 April.

A survey of 1,000 parents of children in the region, both those affected and not affected by the outbreak, found a “strong association between the consumption of the cheese and the appearance of digestive symptoms,” according to the local health board.

 

40 sickened: Don’t eat poop and raw is risky: Poop in Puget Sound sickened customers but really hurt oystermen’s livelihood

I wonder why Marler’s FSN hasn’t reported this one.

Rob Hotakainen of the Miami Herald quotes John Hansen as saying there’s an easy explanation for why he can no longer sell his shellfish: There’s just too much poop in the waters of Puget Sound.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish. (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun) [PNG Merlin Archive]

When nearly 40 people were sickened in March after eating raw oysters, the Washington state Department of Health traced the outbreak to shellfish beds along a three-mile stretch of Hammersley Inlet. It includes Hansen’s farm, South Sound Mariculture, one of 31 companies that had to shut down. States officials blamed the illnesses on norovirus, a stomach illness linked to fecal coliform pollution.

“I’m losing $10,000 a month,” said Hansen, 51, of Shelton, Washington. “I’d say the average farm is losing somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 a month — and that’s not a stretch when they’re shut down.”

Shellfish farming is big business in Washington state, which ranks first in the nation in production and where 3,200 jobs are tied to the Puget Sound. And from Washington state to Washington, D.C., shellfish farmers and their allies want the government to clean up the nation’s second largest estuary and keep their operations running.

While Hansen wants local officials to do a better job of treating the water, the shellfish industry and its allies are taking their case to Congress, hoping to convince members to kill President Donald Trump’s plan to cut cleanup funding next year for the nation’s major bodies of water, including Puget Sound, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

Congress’ 2018 budget remains very much in doubt, but Puget Sound advocates won a reprieve last week when lawmakers struck a deal on a $1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government running through September. The bill, which passed the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday, includes $28 million to continue cleaning up the Sound.

Bot cluster linked to California gas station

Botulism is no joke. The threat of bot toxins binding to nerve endings and blocking muscle contractions scares me.

A small bit of toxin means no more hockey, no catch with my kids and months of rehab. That’s why I find it so scary.

There’s usually less than a couple of hundred cases annually in the US. And not much foodborne. In the past week we’ve seen dried deer antler tea-linked to two illnesses – and now a California gas station looks to be the source of another outbreak, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Sacramento County Public Health officials are investigating a botulism outbreak after several people who ate prepared food from the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove contracted the possibly fatal form of food poisoning.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said five cases are under investigation and the affected people are in serious condition at local hospitals. Four of the five confirmed they’d eaten prepared food from the gas station. Kasirye said the county wants to ensure that anyone who has eaten at the gas station since April 23 and is experiencing botulism symptoms receives immediate medical attention.

Unknown are the linked foods – and what the type toxin it is (because that may be a clue). I usually stick to candy bars and gum at gas stations.

2 sick with botulism from deer antler tea in Calif.

As I sip tea and watch the Pacific waves roll into Coff’s Harbour from our 13th floor beachside apartment, resting for the next-of-so-far-12 hours on the ice at a weekend hockey camp we arranged for 36 kids from Brisbane, I ask myself: who the fuck drinks tea from deer antlers?

Lots of people.

Lots of North Americans make lots of money selling deer antler velvet to southeast Asians, especially Chinese, who value the ingredient in traditional herbal medicine.

Until it gives someone botulism.

Public health officials consider a single case of botulism a public health emergency, because it might foretell a larger outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

One adult in Orange County, California has a confirmed case of botulism, and another has a suspected case. Health types suggest the botulism illnesses may be connected with drinking deer antler tea obtained in March.

According to ProMed, velvet antler (<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_antler>) “is used as a drug in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that classifies many
similar substances from a variety of species under the simplified
Chinese name pinyin Lu Rong and the pharmaceutical name Cervi Cornu
Pantorichum. The 2 common species used within the TCM system are Sika
Deer and Red Deer. Within the TCM system it is prescribed by a doctor
to a patient in the use to treat yang deficiency syndromes. In Asia,
velvet antler is dried and sold as slices or powdered. The powder or
slices are then boiled in water, usually with other herbs and
ingredients, and consumed as a medicinal soup.

Velvet antler in the form of deer antler spray has been at the center
of multiple controversies with professional sports leagues and famous
athletes allegedly using it for injury recovery and performance
enhancement purposes. In mid-2011 a National Football League (NFL)
player successfully sued a deer antler velvet spray manufacturer for
testing positive for methyltestosterone in 2009 for a total amount of
5.4 million.[19][20] In August 2011, Major League Baseball (MLB) added
deer antler spray to their list of prohibited items because it
contains “potentially contaminated nutritional supplements.”

On January 30, 2013, a professional PGA Tour golfer was caught unaware
and openly admitted to the personal use of deer antler spray which
contained a banned substance at the time. A week later the World
Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lifted the ban on deer antler spray, but
with urgency, “Deer Antler Velvet Spray may contain IGF-1
(Insulin-like Growth Factor -1) and WADA recommends therefore that
athletes be extremely vigilant with this supplement because it could
lead to a positive test.” The consensus opinion of leading
endocrinologists concerning any purported claims and benefits “is
simply that there is far too little of the substance in even the
purest forms of the spray to make any difference,” and “there is no
medically valid way to deliver IGF-1 orally or in a spray.”

 

Surf cops: Investigating microbes of surfers and the sea to understand resistance

Peter Andrey Smith of the New York Times writes that on a recent trip, Cliff Kapono hit some of the more popular surf breaks in Ireland, England and Morocco. He’s proudly Native Hawaiian and no stranger to the hunt for the perfect wave. But this time he was chasing something even more unusual: microbial swabs from fellow surfers.

Mr. Kapono, a 29-year-old biochemist earning his doctorate at the University of California, San Diego, heads up the Surfer Biome Project, a unique effort to determine whether routine exposure to the ocean alters the microbial communities of the body, and whether those alterations might have consequences for surfers — and for the rest of us.

Mr. Kapono has collected more than 500 samples by rubbing cotton-tipped swabs over the heads, mouths, navels and other parts of surfers’ bodies, as well as their boards. Volunteers also donate a fecal sample.

He uses mass spectrometry to create high-resolution maps of the chemical metabolites found in each sample. “We have the ability to see the molecular world, whether it’s bacteria or a fungus or the chemical molecules,” he said.

Then, working in collaboration with U.C.S.D.’s Center for Microbiome Innovation — a quick jaunt across the quad from his lab — Mr. Kapono and his colleagues sequence and map the microbes found on this unusually amphibious demographic.

He and his colleagues are looking for signs of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Part of their aim is to determine whether, and to what extent, the ocean spreads the genes for resistance.

Many antibiotics used today derive from chemicals produced by microbes to defend themselves or to attack other microorganisms. No surprise, then, that strains of competing bacteria have also evolved the genetic means to shrug off these chemicals.

While drug resistance comes about because of antibiotic overuse, the genes responsible for creating resistance are widely disseminated in nature and have been evolving in microbes for eons. Startlingly, that means genes giving rise to drug resistance can be found in places untouched by modern antibiotics.

Several years ago, researchers identified antibiotic-resistant genes in a sample of ancient permafrost from Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic. William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, was among those showing that these genes conferred a resistance to amikacin, a semi-synthetic drug that did not exist before the 1970s.

“There was a gene that encoded resistance to it in something that was alive 6,000 years ago,” he said in an interview.

Another group led by Hazel Barton, a microbiologist at the University of Akron, discovered microorganisms harboring antibiotic-resistance genes in the Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico. These bacteria, called Paenibacillus sp. LC231, have been isolated from Earth’s surface for four million years, yet testing showed they were capable of fending off 26 of 40 modern antibiotics.

It’s all cool research, but all I could think of was Celebrity, a skit by The Kids in the Hall.

Hang 10, you’re booked.

100 sick: Outbreak at Gozo Malta’s old people’s home, sounds like Gozer from Ghostbusters

A considerable number of patients currently residing in Dar Sant Anna, the home for the elderly in Victoria, Gozo, are affected with some form of stomach bug, the Malta Independent has learnt. 

This newspaper is informed that the security personnel at the residence were told not to let anyone inside because of the high risk of contagion. 

It turns out that out of the 100 residents, some 80 were affected by the bug, which is causing patients to experience stomach pain, vomiting and fever.

I miss Harold Ramis.

 

Infant botulism claims 6-month-old Tokyo boy who was fed honey

The Japan Times reports that a 6-month-old boy in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, died late last month of infant botulism after his family fed him honey, according to the metropolitan government.

Metropolitan officials said it was the first death caused by infant botulism in Japan since 1986, when the government began compiling such statistics.

The officials warned that babies younger than 1 should not be given honey.

They said the Adachi boy died March 30. He developed a cough on Feb. 16, and was taken to a hospital by ambulance on Feb. 20 after going into convulsions and suffering respiratory failure. He was diagnosed Feb. 28 as having infant botulism.

The officials said the boy’s family had been giving him honey mixed in juice twice a day for about a month, and that they were not aware babies should not be fed honey.

The bacteria Clostridium botulinum was found in an unsealed honey container in the family’s house and in the boy’s excrement. A public health center confirmed that the boy’s death was caused by botulism poisoning.

Infant botulism can occur when newborns, who have immature digestive systems, ingest bacteria that produces toxins inside the bowels.