Australia: Operation Trident targets illegal seafood trade

Consumers are being urged to avoid stolen seafood this Christmas, with enforcement officers on the beat to stop illegal seafood traders.

SUN0705N-Oyster7Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Acting Director Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully said Operation Trident is a multi-phase operation targeting the theft or illegal sale of oysters during this peak season.

“DPI fisheries officers will be on the beat – in the streets as well as out on the water to protect the valuable crops from illegal fishers,” Mr Tully said.

“Fisheries officers work in conjunction with the NSW Food Authority and NSW Police Force – and in consultation with NSW Farmers to target oyster theft.

“The operation includes covert surveillance and overt inspections up and down the NSW coast that aims to disrupt and dismantle a black market which is responsible for ripping off hard working oyster farmers.

“Operation Trident has been a key part of the NSW Government’s crackdown on black market seafood since 2007.”

NSW Food Authority CEO Polly Bennett said the black market oyster trade poses a health risk to consumers.

“Consumers are being urged to be our eyes and ear on the streets this Christmas,” Ms Bennett said.

“Illegal seafood is often stored in the backs of unrefrigerated trucks and we strongly advise against anyone consuming seafood if they don’t know where it’s come from.

“Stolen oysters might not come from an area covered by the NSW Shellfish Program, the NSW Food Authority recommends people only buy oysters from reputable retailers as these oysters have been monitored for their safety.”

NSW Police Force’s Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said anyone illegally trading seafood should expect to be caught.

“Police have been working closely with DPI and NSW Food Authority to target and dismantle seafood trafficking rings that are ripping off our farmers and putting people’s health at risk,” Supt Hutchings said.

“We are calling on the community, particularly restaurant or café owners, who may be approached by someone offering cheap oysters to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 and help us stop this illegal and potentially dangerous trade.

“Remember, the number-one rule of a scam is that if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Members of the public and any affected oyster farmers are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 if they have any information about oyster theft and the black market trade.


It was the raw milk that sickened 40 in Wisconsin: Report

State health officials Thursday made public more evidence that raw milk was the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak that sickened nearly 40 people associated with the Durand High School football team, including many players.

santa.barf.sprout.raw.milkIn an investigation report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through a state open records request, officials said among the 38 people sickened, 32 drank unpasteurized milk and six drank milk which might have been unpasteurized.

Those who fell ill from the Sept. 18 dinner included 33 students and five coaches.

State officials said it was one of the largest raw-milk illness outbreaks they’ve seen. Twenty-six of the illnesses were laboratory confirmed to stem from Campylobacter jejuni, a harmful bacteria sometimes found in unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat and poultry. Ten of those who fell ill were hospitalized.

“Analysis of data pertaining to foods consumed during the team dinner demonstrates that consuming milk during the team dinner was associated with illness,” the report noted.

Last week, state officials said publicly for the first time that the unpasteurized milk served at the dinner came from a farm operated by Roland and Diana Reed, of Arkansaw, located near Durand in Pepin County.

colbert.raw.milkAt least some of the adults and students didn’t know that it was raw milk, according to public health officials. Diana Reed, however, said she had served it at team dinners for seven years.

In an interview, she said she doesn’t believe the milk was to blame for the illnesses — despite evidence that showed Campylobacter in manure on the farm had the same unique genetic “fingerprint” as Campylobacter found in football players’ stool samples.


Careful with that dead calf: Outbreak of cryptosporidiosis among responders to a rollover of a truck carrying calves — Kansas, April 2013

We saw a lot of weird stuff on I-70, usually bathtubs for cooking meth.

imagesBut according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in April 2013, the Thomas County Health Department notified the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response section (KDHE) of two cases of cryptosporidiosis among emergency responders to a tractor-trailer rollover. The truck was carrying approximately 350 preweaned Holstein calves. An outbreak investigation was led by KDHE with assistance from the county health department; six cases of cryptosporidiosis were identified among the 15 emergency responders. No additional primary cases with this exposure or secondary cases were identified. Disease was associated with carrying calves (relative risk [RR] = 3.0) and contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5). The calves were aged In the early morning of March 10, 2013, a truck carrying approximately 350 Holstein steer calves overturned in a snowstorm near Colby, Kansas. Many of the calves died as a result; many others were scattered outside of the truck. City police officers and county sheriff’s deputies responded to the incident, controlled traffic, and secured the scene. The officers then contacted a towing company and community volunteers with horses and cattle trailers to assist with righting the truck and securing the calves.

Because of the very young age of the calves and the injuries and stress resulting from the rollover, most calves that survived the initial impact were unable to walk and had to be carried by responders onto cattle trailers. Responders noted that most of the calves had scours. Deceased calves were loaded into the wrecked truck and towed to the local sale barn. The next day, towing company employees returned to the sale barn and loaded the carcasses onto another truck for shipment to a rendering plant.

Following the report of two cases of cryptosporidiosis in persons who responded to a tractor-trailer rollover involving calves, investigators from KDHE hypothesized that illness might be associated with exposure to calves, fecal contamination at the scene, and returning to a location without electrical power and therefore no hot water to thoroughly wash hands or decontaminate equipment and clothing. A retrospective cohort study was conducted among emergency responders to identify additional ill persons and determine risk factors associated with illness. For this investigation, a probable case was defined as diarrhea (three or more loose or watery stools in 24 hours) and either abdominal cramping, vomiting, or anorexia in an emergency responder within 10 days after the response to the rollover. A confirmed case was defined as an illness that met the definition for a probable case with laboratory evidence of Cryptosporidium infection.
KDHE interviewed responders by telephone using an outbreak-specific questionnaire. Fifteen persons participated in the response to this emergency; all were interviewed. Six (40%) respondents were ill and of those, two (33%) had confirmed cases and four (67%) had probable cases of cryptosporidiosis. Fourteen (93%) of the responders were male; all ill persons were male and ranged in age from 17 to 34 years (median = 29 years). Five (33%) responders were law enforcement officers; one became ill. Ten (67%) responders included towing truck employees, the driver of the wrecked truck, and other persons from the community; five were ill. The most common symptoms besides diarrhea were abdominal cramps, anorexia, and weight loss (five [83%] reports each). Five (83%) persons sought medical care.

Although positive rapid antigen test results from stool specimens from two responders prompted this investigation, no additional persons submitted stool specimens. The incubation period ranged from 6 to 8 days (median = 7 days). Among four persons whose illness had resolved by the time of interview, duration ranged from 7 to 13 days (median = 9 days). No deaths or hospitalizations were reported. At the time of the outbreak investigation, no calves were available to be tested for Cryptosporidium.

Ihe_outbreak_of_cryptosporidiosisn bivariate analysis, ill responders were statistically more likely than responders who were not ill to have carried calves during the response (RR = 3.0) and to have reported coming into contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5) (Table). Responders who returned to a location without electrical power following the response were more likely to later become ill than those who returned to a location with power (RR = 4.5); however, this association did not reach statistical significance. No one reported eating any foods during the response; all beverages consumed were contained in sealable plastic bottles and consuming a beverage during the response was not significantly associated with illness (RR = 2.5) (Table).
Cryptosporidium transmission is fecal-oral and can occur through ingestion of contaminated recreational water, untreated drinking water, or food, or by contact with infected persons or animals, most notably preweaned calves. Outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium are commonly associated with recreational water, including waterparks and swimming pools, whereas outbreaks associated with zoonotic transmission outside of farm settings are less frequently reported (2). The cryptosporidiosis outbreak described in this report was associated with handling preweaned Holstein calves and coming into contact with calf feces while responding to a tractor-trailer rollover. Six (40%) of the 15 responders became ill with cryptosporidiosis following this response. Occupational outbreaks have been reported in agricultural settings and veterinary schools (3–5). At least one outbreak has been reported among emergency responders following a firefighting response at a location where Cryptosporidium was detected in calf fecal specimens as well as in environmental water samples (6). This outbreak is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders becoming infected with Cryptosporidium for which only direct contact with animals and their feces was identified as the source of transmission.

Holstein cows are commonly used for milk production; Holstein steers born on dairy farms are sometimes transported to another location to be raised for beef. Very young calves being moved from dairy facilities might be deprived of colostrum and transported with calves from many different farms, which can increase stress and pathogen transmission among calves (7). Scours is common among young calves, and preweaned calves are most likely to be infected with Cryptosporidium parvum, a zoonotic species of Cryptosporidium that can be transmitted to humans (8). Calves in stressful situations usually experience more severe symptoms of scours associated with an increased shedding of enteric pathogens (7). Before the truck rollover, the calves were transported in crowded conditions over long distances during severe winter weather. Additionally, the calves were reportedly aged Contact with livestock, particularly young calves, is a risk factor for zoonotic transmission recognized by health professionals and animal industry workers; however, professional and volunteer emergency responders might be less aware of the potential risk (9). Prior to this rollover response, volunteer responders reportedly were not provided with illness prevention education. Responders did not wear personal protective equipment, but all wore work gloves and heavy outerwear because of the cold weather. Although community members were contacted to provide assistance, no veterinarian was consulted regarding the appropriate care or handling of the calves. A veterinarian could have provided guidance on minimizing transmission of disease while also overseeing humane handling of the animals. The rollover occurred during a snowstorm, and some locations in town did not have electrical power at the time which could have contributed to some persons being unable to appropriately clean or sanitize their clothing and equipment and could have made handwashing less effective or less likely following the response, thus increasing the risk for infection.
This outbreak highlights the need for awareness of zoonotic transmission among those handling calves, including emergency responders. Education of responders is important to prevent future outbreaks of zoonoses that might result from agricultural emergencies (9). Cryptosporidiosis prevention messaging should include instruction on the potential for fecal-oral zoonotic transmission. Education also should be provided on the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., disposable outer wear, rubber gloves, and rubber boots) during the response and postresponse clean-up. Responders should ensure that all protective clothing is promptly removed and disinfected after handling calves or coming into contact with their feces, followed by thoroughly washing hands with soap and water to prevent infection or recontamination (7). These practices are likely to help reduce fecal-oral exposures during emergency responses involving animals where the potential exists for zoonotic transmission of Cryptosporidium spp. and other pathogens.
Monique Cheatum, Thomas County Health Department.
1Kansas Department of Health and Environment (Corresponding author: Lindsey Martin Webb,, 785-296-3304)
Trotz-Williams LA, Jarvie BD, Martin SW, Leslie KE, Peregrine AS. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium parvum infection in southwestern Ontario and its association with diarrhea in neonatal dairy calves. Can Vet J 2005;46:349–51.
Yoder JS, Wallace RM, Collier SA, Beach MJ, Hlavsa MC. Cryptosporidiosis surveillance—United States, 2009–2010. MMWR Surveill Summ 2012;61(No. SS-5).
Levine JF, Levy MG, Walker RL, Crittenden S. Cryptosporidiosis in veterinary students. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1988;193:1413–4.
Konkle DM, Nelson KM, Lunn DP. Nosocomial transmission of Cryptosporidium in a veterinary hospital. J Vet Intern Med 1997;11:340–3.
Smith KE, Stenzel SA, Bender JB, et al. Outbreaks of enteric infections caused by multiple pathogens associated with calves at a farm day camp. Pediatr Infect Dis 2004; 23:1098–104.
CDC. Outbreak of cryptosporidiosis associated with a firefighting response—Indiana and Michigan, June 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2012; 61:153–6.
Kiang KM, Scheftel JM, Leano FT, et al. Recurrent outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis associated with calves among students at an educational farm programme, Minnesota, 2003. Epidemiol Infect 2006;134:878–86.
Santin M, Trout JM, Xiao L, Zhou L, Greiner E, Faver R. Prevalence and age-related variation of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in dairy calves. Vet Parasitol 2004;122:103-17.
Gilpen JL, Carabin H, Regens JL, Burden RW. Agricultural emergencies: a primer for first responders. Biosecur Bioterror 2009;7:187–98.
What is already known on this topic?
Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal illness caused by the chlorine-tolerant protozoan Cryptosporidium. Transmission is fecal-oral and can occur via ingestion of contaminated recreational water, untreated drinking water, or food, or by contact with infected persons or animals, most notably young calves.
What is added by this report?
Two cases of cryptosporidiosis were laboratory diagnosed among 15 persons responding to the rollover of a tractor-trailer carrying approximately 350 calves. An investigation found four additional responders with symptoms meeting a probable case definition. Diarrhea following the exposure was associated with carrying calves and contact with fecal matter. This is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders contracting Cryptosporidium for which the mode of transmission was confirmed to be solely zoonotic.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Public health professionals and emergency responders should be aware of the potential for occupational zoonotic transmission during responses to incidents involving animals. Awareness, education, proper hygiene, and personal protective equipment use can prevent transmission of zoonoses during an emergency response.
TABLE. Exposures possibly associated with acquiring cryptosporidiosis among responders to the rollover of a truck carrying calves — Kansas, April 2013
Exposure No. of persons exposed No. of ill persons exposed Relative risk (95% confidence interval)
Carried calves 9 6 3.0 (1.2–7.6)
Contact with fecal matter 8 6 4.5 (1.3–15.3)
Location without power 4 3 4.5 (0.6–33.7)
Beverage during response 8 5 2.5 (0.9–6.7)

Instant noodles recalled as Taiwan food scare widens

Taiwanese authorities on Thursday (Dec 18) ordered a leading food company to recall two flavours of instant noodles over fears they contain a banned dye as the island’s latest food scandal deepened.

instant-noodlesHealth officials said sauce packages in the two flavours of instant noodles produced by Wei Lih Food Industrial Co might be contaminated with dimethyl yellow, which is banned from food products.

Wei Lih said in a statement that its own tests found no traces of the banned dye in the suspected products, but they were recalling them as a precaution and apologised to the consumers for causing any unease.

As of Thursday, more than 10 tonnes of dozens of brands of dried tofu snacks and other tofu products were pulled from shelves for containing ingredients supplied by Chien Hsin company, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Scrapie from lambs could infect humans like ‘mad cow disease’, research suggests

Or not.

sheep-getyCreuzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD), known more commonly as ‘mad cow disease’, caused a major scare in the 1990s. But now it’s lambs rather than cows that some are concerned about.

A question mark over the safety of lamb has been raised after scientists found that a deadly brain disease affecting sheep has the potential to infect humans.

The disease, named scrapie, is similar to variant CJD that previously spread from cows to humans through infected meat.

Researchers have now found evidence linking the infectious agent behind scrapie with sporadic CJD (sCJD), a fatal human disease thats cause has never been known.

The scientists stress they have no proof that eating mutton or lamb infected with scrapie can lead to sCJD in humans.

But tests on humanised laboratory mice show that potentially scrapie is capable of infecting humans. And the way the infection spreads in the brain is identical to that seen in cases of sCJD.

The scientists, led by Dr Olivier Andreoletti, from the National Veterinary School of Toulouse in France, wrote in the journal Nature Communications: “Our data on their own do not unequivocally establish a causative link between natural exposure to sheep scrapie and the subsequent appearance of sCJD in humans.

“However, our studies clearly point out the need to consider this possibility.”

Both scrapie and different forms of CJD are caused by rogue misshapen prion proteins.

Normal prions that come into contact with the defective versions are changed too and turn “bad”. In this way the infection spreads, inflicting terrible damage to the brain.

Poisoned food found at Gina Rinehart’s Pilbara mine

Australia’s Gina Rinehart was once the world’s richest woman, making a fortune on mining (now she is sixth).

am-w-contrary-20131001211540181206-620x349A police investigation into possible attempted poisoning is underway after a worker at a remote mining company construction site in Western Australia noticed a bad taste as he started eating a meal.

The contractor employee also noticed discolouring in a piece of fruit he was served on Monday at the dining hall at the Pilbara site run by mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill company. He alerted staff who contacted police.

Analysis of the food item confirmed the presence of a dangerous chemical late on Wednesday, but it appears to be an isolated incident, with no similar reports since, police said.

It is not known what the intent of the poison was, or if there was a specific target.

Major crime squad detectives are investigating.

It was the C. perfringens in the turkey; and why I avoid holiday potlucks

Turkey bacteria has been confirmed as the cause of illness at a recent fatal community supper in Nackawic, says the Department of Health.

c.perfrins.oregon.oct.13Lab tests of turkey samples revealed the presence of Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus, acting chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

“Food safety is extremely important,” said Russell.

“It is important to remind New Brunswickers about food safety and prevention especially coming into the Christmas season when these types of suppers take place regularly,” she said.

An 87-year-old woman died and another 30 people reported gastrointestinal illness, diarrhea and abdominal pain soon after the attending the Dec. 5 community supper in Nackawic, located about  60 kilometres west of Fredericton.

In 2011, the New Brunswick government considered imposing food licensing and inspection requirements on not-for-profit events, such as church suppers.

But Madeleine Dubé, the health minister at the time, said the provincial government had received public feedback that “licensing and inspection requirements are too demanding for not-for-profit events.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada says contaminated food typically needs to have large numbers of bacteria present to cause human illness.

That’s bullshit, especially with shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

But the best and brightest move through government.

But the best and brightest move through government.

(One of my PhD advisors was convicted of child porn.)

Do you really want that holiday potluck?


I’ve got a new gig.

I’m the head of food safety for the school tuck shop that is run by volunteers at daughter Sorenne’s school.

The pay is lousy (non-existent) but the discussions are gold, and gets me back into what my friend Tanya deemed reality research – and that’s what my group has always been good at, going out and talking with people.

More practice than preaching.

The tuck shop serves meals for about 200 students, one day a week. It’s run by volunteers, and all profits go to the school.

It used to be run by a school employee, and the meals were purchased and then resold, at a loss. When that person moved on, some parents decided, we can do better that that.

Sorenne said she wanted relief from the drudgery of everyday school lunches, and I said, not until I check it out.

I put my hand up, and now am in charge of food safety.

Things happen that way.

But there were no state resources for volunteers running a tuck shop.

We’ve been making it up as we go.

The questions at my kid’s school can be expanded to the larger community, especially with holiday potlucks.

I avoid the food at potlucks, church dinners and other community meals. I relish the social interaction, but I have no idea of the hand sanitation, the cooking methods, and other food safety factors that can make people barf and sometimes kill them.

Typically, health types will insist on some level of competency for people providing food, and they will get overruled by politicians who say things like, it’s common sense, and, we’ve always done things this way and never made anyone sick.

No one inspects the tuck shop I volunteer at.

But volunteers aren’t magically immune from making people sick.

The outbreaks are happening weekly at this point, tragically resulting in the death of an elderly woman in New Brunswick, Canada.

Over 15 years ago Rob Tauxe described the traditional foodborne illness outbreak as a scenario that ‘often follows a church supper, family picnic, wedding reception, or other social event.’

This scenario involves an acute and highly local outbreak, with a high inoculum dose and a high attack rate. The outbreak is typically immediately apparent to those in the local group, who promptly involve medical and public health authorities. The investigation identifies a food-handling error in a small kitchen that occurs shortly before consumption. The solution is also local.

Community gatherings around food awaken nostalgic feelings of the rural past —  times when an entire town would get together on a regular basis, eat, enjoy company, and work together.

Public health regulations for community-based meals are inconsistent at best, and these events may or may not fall under inspection regulations. Additionally, in areas where community-based meals are inspected by public health there is pressure from the community to deregulate these events due to their volunteer nature.

Food handlers at CMEs are usually volunteers preparing food outside of their own home, often in a communal kitchen. They may not be accustomed to preparing food for a large group, the time constraints associated with food service, or even the tools, foods and processes used for the meal. These informal event infrastructures, as well as volunteer food handlers with no formal food safety training and a lack of commercial food preparation skills, provide a climate for potential food safety problems.

Foods prepared at home and then brought to CMEs also pose a hazard, as research has shown that poor food handling practices in the home often contribute to foodborne illness.

The tuck shop at Sorenne’s school has been running for six months, and we’re now on summer break, did a deep clean, and planning how best to go forward, in a way we can recruit future volunteers.

We also just ended the (ice) hockey season this past weekend and Sorenne told her teacher she wants to be a professional hockey player when she gets older.

There’s no money in that, or food safety, but it’s great to be part of a community.

I needed 40 hours of training to coach a rep girls hockey team in Canada, and 16 hours to coach in Australia.

I don’t need nothing to make people sick.e

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety who shops, cooks, ferments and coaches hockey from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

Tourists in India face threat of zoonotic diseases

Tourists are endangering their health and safety by interacting with elephants that are not screened for any zoonotic diseases, with no vaccination and treatment records with the mahouts, observed PETA.

600full-the-elephant-man-screenshotA team of four veterinarians assessed the health of elephants and various issues came to light during the inspection.

The overall assessment of 34 elephants at Amber was carried out with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) checklist, ‘Asian Elephant Body Condition Index’, ‘Elephant Physical Examination Record’ and ‘Elephant Medical History’.

Many serious epidemic diseases are zoonoses that originated in animals. These include rabies, Ebola virus and influenza. In a systematic review of 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans, 61% were zoonotic.

“The owners/mahouts did not have any record of vaccination and treatments carried out in the past for their elephants. They did not maintain vaccination register nor the disease and treatment register,” said Dr Manilal Valliyate from PETA. 

7 dead, 32 sick from Vibrio vulnificus in Florida in 2014

Outbreak News Today cites the Florida Department of Health (DOH) as saying there have been 32 cases and seven dead from Vibrio vulnificus in Florida in 2014. Those numbers include both food and waterborne sources.

Raw oystersV. vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to seawater. Among healthy people, ingestion of V. vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In immunocompromised persons, particularly those with chronic liver disease, V. vulnificus can infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50% of the time.

V. vulnificus can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. 

Lesson in epidemiology (not): Wisconsin farmer says raw milk may not have made Durand football team ill

Now that the Reed ranch has been named and shamed as the source of the raw milk linked to at least 38 illnesses of Campylobacter jejuni related to players and staff of the Durand High School football team, the owner is speaking out.

raw.milk.death.1917Diana Reed, whose farm provided the milk said, “Some people got sick who did not drink the milk,” she said Saturday.

State health officials also tested manure of the cows at the Reed ranch and concluded some of the cows contained the strain of Campylobacter that sickened the students.

On Friday, state health officials identified the Reed farm as the source of the milk following an open records inquiry by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But Reed said there could have been other sources of the bug.

“I discussed it with the epidemiologist in Madison. He gave me some statistics — 56 people ate chicken, 38 got sick; 43 people chose to drink milk and 33 got sick,” she said. “They interviewed everyone who was there.”

That leaves five people who did not drink milk, but who still had Campylobacter.