Over 100 sick; Wisconsin school district deals with aftermath of Campylobacter

After a severe illness sends dozens of students home sick, attendance is back to normal at Durand schools.

football.vomitMore than 100 total students in the district were reported absent last wee, with Durand’s football team being hardest hit by the illness.

There are 19 confirmed cases of campylobacter; all are members of the football team.

Polio virus released into Belgian waters; The Netherlands issue shellfish warning

The Dutch Food Safety and Health Authorities issued a warning (computer translated) against the consumption of raw, improperly cooked shellfish (mainly oysters) harvested by individuals in the eastern part of the Westerschelde river in response to the 45 litres of concentrated live polio virus solution accidentally released into Belgium water sources by Glaxo SmithKline earlier this month.

Raw oystersThe Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said in a release Monday (computer translated), The risk of infection with the poliovirus is very small. Since its release to the River Avenue, the concentration is diluted so much that the water itself is not a threat. However, shellfish filter water and the amount of virus can be higher than in the shell than in the water. Even then the chance to get infected even very small. But in the Netherlands, we are very cautious when it comes to polio. Along the Westerschelde are a number of municipalities with low vaccine coverage where many children are not protected against diseases like polio . When it comes poliovirus in such a community, there is great likelihood that many people get sick.

Belgium gave no such recommendations as the country’s polio vaccination rates are better than the Netherlands, according to the RIVM.

‘Children come to our schools to get support, not to leave in stretchers’ Third child dies in suspected food poisoning case in South Africa

Cake provided by a community member may have resulted in the deaths of three children in Winterveldt, north of Pretoria.
It was earlier reported that three children died after eating food provided through a state feeding scheme at the Ema Primary School.

140528soup-jpgBut Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says a preliminary report indicates that all three of the children had also eaten food from a non-feeding scheme source.

“From the feeding programme we provided yesterday, dough or bread was not part of the menu. It emerged that they ate cake, and we did not provide cake. Late last night a granny came forward to say she had provided the cake.” Police are now interrogating the woman.

The three girls, aged between 6 and 8, died at a local clinic shortly after falling ill at the primary school yesterday.

Lesufi has ordered an investigation into the incident and says other pupils who ate the government supplied food have been observed overnight and are in good health.

“I’m speechless. Children come to our schools to get support, not to leave our schools in stretchers. I’m saddened and don’t have words to describe this. I will investigate this.”

Pay attention, temperature abuse matters: Food Safety Summit diners sickened with C. perfringens in Baltimore in April

My colleagues at Kansas State University would happily eat a Jimmy John’s sub sandwich loaded with raw sprouts, even though there was an outbreak ongoing, and even after expressing derision when one of my students gave a seminar and said it was a stealth ingredient.

sprout.apple.aug.14They’re probably still eating them.

On April 11, 2014, the Baltimore City 311 system received 3 reports of illness from attendees of Conference A (Food Safety Summit). A 4th report was received on April 15. All of the reports were from conference attendees who also worked in the same building at another work location. The reporters stated that they, and

several coworkers who also attended Conference A, became ill with diarrhea between April 8 and April 10. The attendees suspected that lunch served on April 9 was the source of the illnesses. All 4 reports were assigned in the 311 system to Baltimore City Health Department’s (BCHD), Bureau of Environmental Health, Environmental Inspection Services (EIS) Food Control Section.

On April 16, BCHD, EIS identified that these reports were related and informed BCHD’s Office of Acute Communicable Diseases (ACD). An outbreak investigation was initiated on April 16 by BCHD. BCHD notified the

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Division of Outbreak Investigation on April 16. Subsequently, the response proceeded as a joint state‐local outbreak investigation.

Caterer A, the primary caterer for Convention Center A, supplied food for the conference. Food was also available for purchase at vendors and concession areas in the convention center.

The observed temperature of a walk‐in cooler was within the acceptable range. No food prepared for the conference remained. Menus for the conference,

temperature logs, and recipes and procedures for food preparation were obtained.

During the same visit on April 16, Caterer A reported that during the event, about 12 employees worked in the kitchen and 40 served food. Of these, Caterer A estimated that about 20 were temporary wait staff. Two other events were held at Convention Center A that same week and were also catered by Caterer A, but neither the facility nor Caterer A received any complaints of illness from either of these groups. DHMH called the contact person that was supplied to the convention center for one of the groups to ask if attendees of that event had become ill. Caterer A also reported that two employees had been ill around the time of the outbreak. One employee who washes dishes started feeling sick the

morning of April 10 and vomited in a restroom at work that afternoon; the employee was sent home.

Another employee, who did not work in the kitchen, became ill with diarrhea and an upset stomach on April 11, with duration of symptoms less than one day. According to Caterer A management, neither of the ill employees ate food from work. Both of the ill employees submitted stool specimens for testing.

Also during the April 16 visit, Caterer A reported hearing rumors that 20 people associated with Conference A were sick and that someone working at the registration desk for the conference had been sick and could have contaminated the attendees’ badges. When additional questions were asked about

this at a later date, Caterer A reported that it was the event organizer who told them of the illnesses on April 10. The event organizer and caterer did not report the illnesses to BCHD or DHMH.

Through subsequent calls, emails, and visits with Caterer A, information about the preparation and holding of the chicken Marsala served on April 9 for lunch was obtained. The Marsala sauce was prepared the morning of April 9 and used only for the April 9 lunch. Kitchen staff might also have consumed the chicken Marsala, but the other two groups with events at Convention Center A that day

had a different menu and would not have eaten it. Leftovers would have been discarded. However, the ingredients used to make the dish were likely used for other dishes served to this group and for dishes served to other groups. Caterer A reported that precooked frozen chicken breasts were used for the

chicken Marsala. The chicken breasts were placed on sheet pans and thawed in a walk in cooler on April 7.

They were cooked the morning of April 9 and transferred to 2‐inch pans after cooking. The sauce was prepared using wine, pre‐sliced fresh mushrooms, 16 lb. buckets of frozen demi‐glace that had been placed in a walk‐in cooler 24 hours prior to thaw, and peeled fresh garlic from 5 lb. jars that was

chopped in the kitchen prior to use. The mushrooms and garlic were added first to a steam jacket kettle, followed by the wine and demi‐glace. The sauce was brought to a boil and then simmered for 30‐ 40 minutes. One hundred and fifty gallons of sauce were prepared at one time. The sauce was drained

from the steam jacket kettle into pitchers and poured directly over the pans of cooked chicken breasts.

Plastic wrap was placed over the pans. The pans were loaded into hot holding cabinets with Sternos on the bottom shelf approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes prior to service. Temperatures were recorded at that time and 2 hours later. The hot holding cabinet was plugged in while in the kitchen, unplugged

during transport, and plugged in at the location of service. Transport to the location of service occurred about 50‐60 minutes prior to the opening of the buffet. Fifteen to 20 minutes before the buffet lines opened, the pans were loaded onto pre‐warmed serving dishes with the lids closed. The plastic wrap

was removed when the buffet line opened. The above process was reported by Caterer A management and not directly observed on the day of service by DHMH or BCHD. Time intervals were reported, not recorded, by Caterer A.

Three temperature logs for the April 9 lunch service were available from Caterer A. Temperatures were recorded for 2 time points. All three logs were similar and indicated a temperature of 167°F at 10:15 am and a temperature of 151°F or 152°F at noon for the chicken Marsala. Temperatures were also recorded

for vegetable lasagna and roasted vegetables. Per Caterer A, the buffet was scheduled to be open from 11:45 am to 1:15 pm.

Stool specimens from 22 ill individuals were tested, including 1 from an individual who was excluded from the exposure analysis because their onset of illness was April 17, 2 from ill employees of Caterer A, and 19 from case‐patients. The median time between onset of illness and specimen collection was 13 days (range 4‐21 days). Two specimens from case‐patients were positive for norovirus genogroup 2 by real‐time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction procedure (RT‐PCR). The specimen from the person with an onset of illness on April 17 who was excluded from the exposure analysis was positive for

norovirus genogroup 1. Testing for Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157, Shiga toxins, Campylobacter, rotavirus, sapovirus, astrovirus and Shiga toxins was negative.

Thousands sickened in 2005 crypto outbreak at NY splash park; settlement of lawsuit in the works

The New York State Court of Claims has granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement of the class action lawsuit filed over the 2005 Cryptosporidium outbreak at the Seneca Lake State Park spray park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf the settlement receives final approval, it would end nine years of litigation with the state of New York involving some 2,500 class members that was weeks from going to trial.

Under terms of the proposed settlement, the state, defendant in the case, has agreed to pay $5 million to end the litigation without going to trial.

That amount, minus any attorney fees and costs awarded by Court of Claims Judge Nicholas Midey Jr. to lawyers for the class will be distributed among the class members according to their award category.

The categories are those who were hospitalized with the diarrheal illness, those who were treated at an emergency room, those who were treated at a non-hospital emergency room and those who received other forms of medical care.

The money also would be used to pay settlement administration costs.

Any funds remaining after the allocation of class member awards and payments for administration expenses would then be allocated on a pro-rated basis among class members who filed a claim form.

The safety of donkey milk in Italy

There is a growing interest in donkey’s milk as food for sensitive consumers, such as infants with cow’s milk protein allergy and elderly people. The aim of this study was to carry out a survey on the dairy donkeys farming in Piedmont, Italy.

donkey-shrekThe research was conducted in order to analyze the farm characteristics as well as the chemical and microbiological quality of milk. All the farms were small-sized, family-run, and, in most cases, animals were farmed semi-extensively. The donkey milk from Piedmont farms was characterized by a protein content around 1.5 g/100 mL and a fat content lower than 0.1 g/100 mL. Lysozyme activity was considerably higher than that reported in raw cow milk.

The milk microbiological profile greatly differed among the farms. Milk sampled in the farm that performed hand milking showed total viable counts significantly lower than milk collected in the farms equipped with automatic milking. Samples were tested for several pathogens and negative results were observed, except for the detection of Bacillus cereus in one sample. The survey provided useful data for the laying down of recent regional regulation for the production and commercialization of donkey’s milk. The results of the survey indicate that further research is needed in order to define the best management and nutritional strategies for the improvement of the quali-quantitative production of dairy donkeys.

A survey on the milk chemical and microbiological quality in dairy donkey farms located in NorthWestern Italy

Food Control, Volume 50, Pages 230-235

Laura Cavallarin, Marzia Giribaldi, Maria de los Dolores Soto-Del Rio, Emanuela Valle, Gandolfo Barbarino, Maria Silvia Gennero, and Tiziana Civera


Finding vomit on an airplane

Illness happens on planes, and when it does it’s miserable.

In 2009 I dealt with campylobacteriosis over a day of travel from Manhattan (Kansas) to Raleigh. In 2013, then four-year-old Jack yacked on a flight which led to a fascinating approach by Delta Airlines involving plastic bags to contain the risk and coffee pods to manage the smell. The flight crew let us off the plane first (although we were in the second-to-last row) as we potentially inoculated the plane and passengers with norovirus.

Maybe the best plane-related outbreak was one reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases a couple of years ago. I’d describe my poop and barf-related imagination as pretty good but I couldn’t have dreamt up the scenario that unfolded on a plane leaving Boston bound for Los Angeles in October 2008.111007015237-sick-throwing-up-airplane-motion-story-top

Members of [the] tour group experienced diarrhea and vomiting throughout an airplane flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California, resulting in an emergency diversion 3 h after takeoff.

The problematic flight departed Boston on Oct 8, 2008, heading for Los Angeles and carrying among its passengers 35 members of a leaf-peeping tour group. (Four more members of the group had planned other routes home, while two had been hospitalized in the previous 2 days.)

The outbreak included a passenger with “multiple episodes of diarrhea, with at least 1 occurring in the aisle of the first-class section. The soiled aisle was not cleaned until after completion of the flight.”

As the international discussion of Ebola transmission continues, USA Today writes about bodily fluids on airplanes.

[Linda] Cannon, a teacher from Palatine, Ill., was on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Las Vegas when she felt something wet on her seat. “I pulled out my hand, which was covered in vomit,” she recalls.

The crewmember cleaned the seat while Cannon changed into some clean clothes. But it didn’t help: Bits of upchuck still coated her seat.

“I sat for 3½ hours with the remnants of vomit on my jeans and underwear,” says Cannon. ” I spent the entire flight with nausea and the woman in the next seat telling me it still smelled.”

The passengers who came into contact with blood, urine and vomit wonder who to blame for the lack of hygiene on a plane, and what they’re doing about it.

The answer is a bit complicated. Of course, airlines are responsible for the cleanliness of their aircraft, and it’s a job they say they take seriously.

At American Airlines, for example, planes are tidied up between flights, which can include cleaning the lavatories, seats and replacing any obviously soiled blankets or pillows.

Overnight, the planes are serviced more thoroughly. The restrooms are serviced, seats and tray tables are wiped down, carpets are vacuumed and blankets and pillows are replaced.

Every month, each aircraft is given a “deep” cleaning, where seat covers are washed and the entire cabin is sanitized using government-approved cleaning agents. 

While there have many been plane-linked outbreaks, a quick overnight servicing with a wipe-down could explain reoccurring noro events.

157 sick, up from 11 last year; reports of crypto rise in Florida county

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County is asking for the public’s help to prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, a disease that spreads easily person to person in in households, child-care settings and schools, and through swimming in contaminated water or from contact with animals.

listeriaDOH-Hillsborough says the number of Cryptosporidiosis cases reported to them has increased since school started in the county.

Since July 1, 2014, 157 cases of Cryptosporidiosis have been reported by DOH-Hillsborough, as compared to 11 cases during the same time period last year. Many of these cases have reported spending time at school or day care the incubation period.

The highest number of cases of infection is in those younger than 15. Health officials are concerned that the numbers of cases could increase if proper precautions are not followed.

Food Safety Talk 65: All My Ports are Engaged

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.  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.

Man who thinks he's European perplexed by maths.

Man who thinks he’s European perplexed by maths.


In this episode, Ben is absent, but Don is not alone. Mike Batz, Assistant Director of Food Safety Programs, Emerging Pathogen Institute at the University of Florida, is a guest on the show. He appeared not once, but twice on the podcast before.

Don and Mike start by talking a little about their travels, then, they quickly move to a discussion on the Chobani Yogurt recall. The news article leaves Mike unsure whether Mucor circinelloides was pathogenic to both animals and humans. A brief digression about podcast listening speed reveals that Batz listens at 1.5 speed while Don is more civilized. Returning to yogurt, they discuss the originalmBio article. Don concludes the study did not provide enough evidence to show M. circinelloides is truely pathogenic to humans.

Don asks Mike about a psychology experiment done by Facebook where they manipulated users feeds. Mike was disappointed by Facebook’s methodology since the study never requested an informed consent from the users. They then rambled about again about their various and sundry international travels. Mike resided close to the Rijks Museum (that’s in Amsterdam) for a while and Schaffner shared his experience in Finland (including reindeer tartare) and New Zealand (and beef tartare).

Next, they talked about a document from the FAO marketed as providing a list of the top 10 foodborne parasites ). To continue, they discussed seasonal food safety tips. While Mike confessed to not always follow his own food safety recommendations, Don revealed he is reluctant to eat a cut cantaloupe by a stranger.

Soon after, the discussion shifted to antibiotics in meat. Both agreed that the issue is quite complicated and there is not a straight forward answer.

They concluded the show with a discussion on cross contamination including cutting boardsartisanal cheese and the 5 second rule. Don recommended plastic cutting board for meat and wood cutting board for any other food types.