Blame it on the (chicken) juice — enhances surface attachment and biofilm formation of Campylobacter

We were having dinner with friends Sunday night, and they do a Chinese-style cooking that is light and yummy, but I noticed a lot of cross-contamination going on during the prep (can someone please come up with a better name than cross-contaminaion, and more succinct than, dangerous bugs move around a lot).

icarly.chicken.cell.handsThe patron said, that’s why you cook it, and I said, just cook it doesn’t cut it, and explained why.

We may never be invited for dinner again.

The next day (another school holiday) the two 5-years-olds were with me for a few hours, so after a couple of hours at the park, I decided we would make two cakes — one gluten/dairy free, one traditional.

I don’t like cake but it is a part of my spring ritual of getting rid of spices that have accumulated for six years and, like Ikea furniture, crap that looked good at the store but awful at home.

The girls became involved in an extended discussion of Salmonella, eggs and cross-contamination.

They enjoyed the cake.

Brown et al. published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology that the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is primarily transmitted via the consumption of contaminated foodstuffs, especially poultry meat. In food processing environments, C. jejuni is required to survive a multitude of stresses and requires the use of specific survival mechanisms, such as biofilms. An initial step in biofilm formation is bacterial attachment to a surface.

Here, we investigated the effects of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) on C. jejuni surface attachment and biofilm formation. Supplementation of brucella broth with ≥5% chicken juice resulted in increased biofilm formation on glass, polystyrene, and stainless steel surfaces with four C. jejuni isolates and one C. coli isolate in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions. When incubated with chicken juice, C. jejuni was both able to grow and form biofilms in static cultures in aerobic conditions. Electron microscopy showed that C. jejuni cells were associated with chicken juice particulates attached to the abiotic surface rather than the surface itself. suggests that chicken juice contributes to C. jejuni biofilm formation by covering and conditioning the abiotic surface and is a source of nutrients. Chicken juice was able to complement the reduction in biofilm formation of an aflagellated mutant of C. jejuni, indicating that chicken juice may support food chain transmission of isolates with lowered motility. We provide here a useful model for studying the interaction of C. jejuni biofilms in food chain-relevant conditions and also show a possible mechanism for C. jejuni cell attachment and biofilm initiation on abiotic surfaces within the food chain.

Helen L. Brown, Mark Reuter, Louise J. Salt, Kathryn L. Cross, Roy P. Betts, and Arnoud H. M. van Vliet

14K tests, 98.7% compliance: Canadian annual microbiology report 2011-12

The Government of Canada verifies that food produced and/or sold in Canada meets federal food safety standards to ensure Canadians have confidence in what they buy. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors and regulates food products that are produced domestically and moved inter-provincially, or are imported.

professor.fink.Simpsons.jpgWithin Canada, all food products must comply with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, which set out criteria for safe food and clearly prescribe restrictions on the production, importation, sale, composition and content of food.

The National Microbiological Monitoring Program (NMMP) is one of many tools utilized by the CFIA to verify that domestically produced and imported products meet Canadian standards. It is designed to sample and test a broad range of imported and domestic commodities for multiple hazards, including microbial hazards and extraneous material. The testing carried out under the NMMP covers red meat and poultry products, shell eggs and egg products, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables and processed fruit and vegetable products.

As CFIA focuses its monitoring activities towards specific food-related hazards that may impair the health and safety of Canadians, it is important to note that most testing is in commodities that are not further processed by the consumer as well as in raw food, that if not properly cooked, can lead to illness. It is generally accepted that proper precautions taken in the home will destroy any bacteria that may be present.

During the 2011/12 fiscal year under the NMMP, 14307 tests were performed on 5234 domestic and imported products. Specifically, 9049 tests were performed on 3678 domestic products and 5258 tests were performed on 1556 imported products to verify they were compliant with Canadian standards. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.0% compliant and imported products were 98.0% compliant. Overall, a 98.7% compliance rate for combined domestic and imported products was observed.

In addition to testing food products, wash water samples and surface swabs taken within the food production environment are used to verify that food products are produced under sanitary conditions. This type of environmental sampling was performed in domestic establishments to verify the operator systems’ ability to control the presence of pathogens within the processing environment. During 2011/12, there were 2300 tests performed on 1878 environmental samples which were assessed as 97.5% compliant.

The results of the 2011/12 NMMP sampling activities demonstrate that the products available in the Canadian marketplace are for the majority compliant with national standards. 

127 sick with Yersinia in NZ: When should public health types go public with food safety risks?

Early findings into a severe gastroenteritis outbreak were withheld to avoid causing a public scare with limited information, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says.

carrotjuiceI’ve heard the same shit for 20 years – we can’t tell the public, we know better and are paid better than the plebes, so we must know better.

We’ve worked with several farming groups over the decades with no problems.

People can handle discussions of risk.

Bureaucrats are terrified of discussions of risk.

About 127 people have been affected and 38 hospitalized by a Yersinia pseudotuberculosis outbreak since it appeared last month.

MPI deputy director general Scott Gallacher yesterday said lettuce and carrots had been associated with the outbreak in an Environmental Science and Research (ESR) draft report last week but the information was “not a slam dunk.”

Epidemiology is rarely a slam dunk.

Foodstuffs, the company that owns New World and Pak’n Save, said it had viewed the report which named two of its two products, Pam’s fresh express mesclun salad lettuce and Pam’s fresh express lettuce, as possible sources.

The company is investigating this and did not believe any of the potentially affected products were still on its shelves.

Gallacher fended off claims the MPI risked public health because it was more concerned about protecting supermarkets’ reputations.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey yesterday said the ESR draft report clearly identified bagged lettuce and carrots from a particular supermarket chain as the source.

Time for an epidemiology refresher in New Zealand, Or a political one; sick people vote with their barf.

Food porn isn’t food safety: Williams-Sonoma sauce recalled for potential botulism risk

Williams-Sonoma always sounded a bit fancy pants to me.

My introduction was through a decent turkey recipe Amy had in one of those glossy catalogues — the catalogues made obsolete by the Internet.

pestoBut it looked pretty, as most food porn does.

Yet food porn is no replacement for food safety.

California Department of Public Health officials warned the public Friday of a potential botulism risk in a sauce sold at Williams-Sonoma retailers.

Director and State Health Officer Ron Chapman said consumers should not eat Pumpkin Seed Pesto Sauce sold by the retailer because it may have been improperly produced, which made it susceptible to contamination with the botulism toxin.

Authorities said the manufacturer, California Olive and Vine, LLC, voluntarily recalled the product after the CDPH determined it had been improperly processed.

The product has been sold nationwide at retail stores since September, authorities said.

The product was packaged in 8-ounce glass jars with screw-on metal lids, CDPH officials said.

The recalled product can be identified by looking for the stock keeping unit numbers 6404305 and 6389043.

Consumers who have had contact any of these products, or any foods made with these products, are urged to discard them immediately.

Health officials advised of double bagging the jars and placing them in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash while wearing gloves.

What are the bugs – or the fabrics — that make hockey equipment smell?

Nothing has quite the stench of (ice) hockey equipment.

Entire cleansing cabinets have been created to lessen the smell. I played hockey I’d wash my jersey maybe once a year.

The stench imparted by the gloves is equivalent to the stench imparted to the hands of a fish monger.

However in all the years coaching girls’ hockey, I can generally say the girls are somewhat more particular to the odor aspect.


On Sunday, the team I coach had an hour practice.

This was followed by a girls only session sponsored by the IIHF (International Ice Hockey federation, below, exactly as shown) for their annual World Girls Weekend.

Sorenne was back out on the ice.

Then I coached a come-and-try session for kids learning how to play from  3:30-4:30 (Sorenne wasn’t on the ice for that) followed by the final league games of the season (Sorenne played, I helped ref).

That’s a lot of hockey.

And a lot of smell.

Whereas I’d leave my stuff to ferment in the bag, Amy ensures Sorenne’s stuff is aired and washed regularly.

Callewaert, et al. examined the microbial basis of exercise stench and concluded they type of undergarments determines the stench of the smell.

Abstract below:

Clothing textiles protect our human body against external factors. These textiles are not sterile and can harbor high bacterial counts as sweat and bacteria are transmitted from the skin. We investigated the microbial growth and odor development in cotton and synthetic clothing fabrics. T-shirts were collected from 26 healthy individuals after an intensive bicycle spinning session and incubated for 28 h before analysis. A trained odor panel determined significant differences between polyester versus cotton fabrics for the hedonic value, the intensity, and five qualitative odor characteristics. The polyester T-shirts smelled significantly less pleasant and more intense, compared to the cotton T-shirts. A dissimilar bacterial growth was found in cotton versus synthetic clothing textiles. Micrococci were isolated in almost all synthetic shirts and were detected almost solely on synthetic shirts by means of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis fingerprinting.

A selective enrichment of micrococci in an in vitro growth experiment confirmed the presence of these species on polyester. Staphylococci were abundant on both cotton and synthetic fabrics. Corynebacteria were not enriched on any textile type. This research found that the composition of clothing fibers promotes differential growth of textile microbes and, as such, determines possible malodor generation.
Microbial odor profile of polyester and cotton clothes after a fitness session

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. November 2014 80:6611-6619;
15 August 2014, doi:10.1128/AEM.01422-14

Chris Callewaert, Evelyn De Maeseneire, Frederiek-Maarten Kerckhof, Arne Verliefde, Tom Van de Wiele, and Nico Boon

Don’t eat moose organs: Quebec health agency

A health agency in Northern Quebec is providing some, uh, Northern Quebec advice:  don’t eat moose organs because of cadmium found in samples collected last fall.

Moose kidneys and livers are considered a delicacy among the Cree First Nations of Eeyou Istchee.

MooseLast year officials from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue health agency and Quebec’s wildlife department collected samples from the kidneys of 24 moose that were hunted in the region.

In a press release, the health agency says there were not enough samples to draw definitive conclusions. But the release says the results are still “worrying.”

Cadmium is used in plastics, batteries and solar panels.

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue health agency wants to continue its research and is asking hunters to help out by keeping a kidney from each moose killed this season and dropping it off when registering the kill at the office in Rouyn-Noranda, Que..

Sri Lanka temporarily halts some Fonterra milk product sales after illness

New Zealand’s Fonterra’s still got some problems after Sri Lanka suspended the sale of some Anchor milk powder after some children consumed the product and fell ill, government health officials said on Sunday.

Anchor-milk-BHowever Fonterra, a New Zealand dairy giant, said independent investigations into the three batches concerned proved that they were safe to consume.

The health ministry suspended the distribution and sale of the three batches of Anchor following a complaint of food poisoning in some children in the southern village of Girandurukotte, 224 km (140 miles) from the capital Colombo.

Senerath Bandara, the secretary of Sri Lanka’s public health inspectors’ association, said the Health Services had ordered inspectors to confiscate all stocks of the three batches.
“We have been ordered to hold them until the investigations are over following the reports that several kids had fallen ill after consuming the milk powder,” Bandara told Reuters.
The health ministry has sent the Anchor milk powder packets of the relevant batches for laboratory testing, officials said.

Sanath Mahawithanage, Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka Associate Director for Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, said, “Our investigations conducted on samples from these three batches by internationally accredited independent laboratories confirm that there is no food safety or quality issue.”

Mahawithanage said the company is waiting for health ministry direction after its own local tests and the outcome of their investigation.

Wash the poo, reduce campy rates?

A move to scrub poo from dirty chicken crates has spared New Zealanders from hundreds of cases of Campylobacter, authorities say.

2011-April-230-e1314634823506-1New research presented to a health conference has revealed that New Zealand’s once-dire problem with the painful and embarrassing gastro bug is a thing of the past thanks to industry changes.

At its peak, the country’s campylobacter epidemic was the worst in the western world, costing $60 million a year, mostly in lost wages from people forced to take days off work to nurse their sore stomachs and stop the contagious spread.

Infected poultry was a leading source of the condition.

Gail Duncan from the Ministry for Primary Industries told the NZ Population Health Congress in Auckland that simple changes to poultry processing regulations led to a radical 58 per cent drop in infections.

A key change was to start washing the crates used to transport chickens to the processing plants, creating a cleaner environment and halting the cross contamination that was fuelling the epidemic.