Growers upset, but ‘it’s not the handling’ Oyster farms in Mass. remain closed as more Vibrio illnesses reported

Katama Bay oyster farms will remain closed for another week following additional confirmed cases of Vibrio illness tied to the area, a state Department of Marine Fisheries official said Tuesday afternoon.

SUN0705N-Oyster7The 12 shellfishermen harvesting oysters out of Katama Bay were scheduled to resume operation on Thursday morning after a one-week precautionary closure announced last Wednesday by state health and fisheries officials. The closure was prompted because of three reported cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus caused by consumption of raw oysters from Katama Bay.

Now the closure will be extended for another seven days due to three more confirmed cases of Vibrio from mid-August, state Vibrio program coordinator Chris Schillaci told the Edgartown shellfish committee at a meeting Tuesday. The meeting was attended by a small group of Katama Bay oyster farmers.

Under state guidelines, two to four illnesses within a 30-day period would result in a seven-day closure, while four or more illnesses require a 14-day closure. More than 10 illnesses would require a 21-day closure and a recall.

There have been six Vibrio cases reported from Katama Bay in the past 45 days, Edgartown shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said, and three in the last 30 days.

The Katama Bay closure is the first Vibrio-related shellfish closure in Massachusetts this year.

Katama and other oyster-producing areas around New England have seen more reported cases of Vibrio in recent years. This marks the third year in a row that Katama Bay oyster farms have been closed for some period of time in the late summer because of Vibrio.

Ryan Smith, a member of the shellfish committee and a Katama oyster farmer, said while demand remains high for farmed oysters, the repeated closures are stressful and there is a loss of business.

“It seems like nobody really knows what’s going on,” he said, adding that the closures seemed to start “out of nowhere” three years ago.

Oyster farmers peppered Mr. Schillaci with questions about how the illnesses were reported, accounted for and traced to the growing area, and discussed whether more stringent measures might be put in place in future years. In 2013 the state adopted strict protocols for handling oysters, and Mr. Schillaci said he’s observed Katama oyster farmers following those guidelines.

“It’s not the handling that’s the problem here and I truly believe that,” he said.

 

Crypto cases spike in Tenn.

East Tennessee health officials are seeing a major spike in reported cryptosporidium cases, a water-dwelling parasite that most commonly contaminates public water sources.

diaper.pool“It is a parasite that lives in the bowels of people who are infected with it,” said Darci Hodge, director of quality and infection control at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. “It can live in animals and it can be passed on by people or animals in living water for a short period of time, and that’s often how you and I will get it.”

Hodge said Children’s Hospital confirmed 29 reported cases of cryptosporidium this year, the biggest number of cases it’s seen in years.

Within the past five years, the second highest number of reported cases of the disease at Children’s Hospital was only five.

“It was significant enough because the Health Department and we, here, really talked a lot about it because it was odd to see so many cases,” Hodge said.

The Knox County Health Department has 34 reported cases on record this year.

“It only takes one person with this illness to have a little spill in the pool, you might say,” said Connie Cronley, an epidemiology nurse at the Health Department. “It could infect lots of folks.”

Cronley said the parasite comes with many symptoms, but not all of them may appear serious enough to contact a doctor.

587 sick: CDC and FDA try to contain cyclosporiasis outbreak

As the numbers of those sickened with cyclosporiasis reached 495 in the U.S. and 92 in Canada, the only lead appears to be cilantro imported from Mexico.

cilantroCyclospora is a microscopic single-celled parasite that is passed in people’s feces. If it comes in contact with food or water, it can infect the people who consume it. This causes an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.

Previous foodborne illness outbreaks of Cyclospora, in Canada and U.S. have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as pre-packaged salad mix, basil, cilantro, berries, mesclun lettuce and snow peas.

To date, no multi-jurisdictional outbreaks have been linked to produce grown in Canada.

Mass. closes oyster beds on Martha’s Vineyard after three sickened

With west coast growers in B.C. fuming about a Canadian Food Inspection Agency recall of oysters, east coast Massachusetts has ordered closed an area of oyster beds in Martha’s Vineyard’s Katama Bay after three people became sick from consuming raw oysters from the area.

Raw oystersThe Katama Bay oyster beds will be closed for one week, DPH officials said.

The department confirmed three cases of vibrio — a bacteria that causes watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills for up to three days when ingested — linked to oysters in the area.

 If additional cases of vibrio are confirmed, DPH said, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could enforce an extended closure of the beds, located between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick Island.

 

77 sick at Calif. Chipotle

Ventura County health officials say at least 60 customers reported feeling sick after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley last week.

It’s unclear what made the customers ill – test results were pending Monday.

Mike Byrne, food safety supervisor for the Ventura County Environmental Health Division, said the restaurant also sent home 17 employees for being sick, closed the business to clean it for a day and brought in new food before reopening.

Health officials inspected the restaurant at 1263 Simi Town Center Way on Monday.

NBC4 reviewed the restaurant’s health inspection reports on the Environmental Health Division website. Violations posted Monday included:

The premises and/or floors, walls, or ceiling are in an unsanitary condition.

Equipment or utensils are not clean, fully operative and in good repair.

Flying insects observed within the food facility.

Food handlers employed at this facility do not possess a valid food handler card and/or records documenting that food employees possess a valid food handler card are not maintained by the food facility for review as required.

The restroom is unclean or in disrepair.

NBC4 found the restaurant has repeated violations for some of the same issues dating back to January 2015.

Despite the findings, health officials said the Simi Valley Chipotle passed Monday’s inspection and found no major violations.

In a statement to NBC4, Chipotle said: “The safety and well being of our customers is always our highest priority. When we were contacted by customers who reported feeling poorly after visiting our restaurant in Simi Valley, we notified health department officials, immediately began a review of the incident, and have taken all of the necessary steps to ensure that it is safe to eat there.”

Cyclospora will do that: Cilantro shortage hits Illinois restaurants, grocery stores

In the produce aisle at a Round Lake Beach grocery store, Valerie Brown hesitated before plucking a bunch of cilantro from between the parsley and green onions.

cilantro.slugs.powell.10She’s used to paying 75 cents for a bundle of the leafy green herb, she said. Today, the price read $1.99.

Even that was better than last week, said Brown, who lives in Antioch. Her husband visited three grocery stores and couldn’t find a single sprig. Cilantro is her parakeets’ favorite food, so she put a bundle in her cart despite the sticker shock.

Grocery stores and restaurants in the area said they’ve been noticing the same higher-than-usual prices and tighter-than-usual supply since officials implemented a partial import ban on some cilantro imported from Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and state public health officials linked cilantro from the state of Puebla, Mexico to outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in the U.S. in 2013 and 2014 and identified it as the possible cause of a 2015 outbreak, according to an import alert the FDA posted in July. About 40 percent of cilantro sold in the U.S. is grown in Puebla, said FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher.

How would consumers know? Market food safety at retail instead of government-growers agreeing to more tests

Stung by a national recall of B.C. oysters destined to be eaten raw, the province’s oyster growers have agreed to a new testing regime they hope will get their products back on the market.

SUN0705N-Oyster7Oyster producers have agreed to test five times more oysters at federal processing plants than were being tested before an Aug. 18 recall, said Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the BC Shellfish Grower’s Association.

Most growers support the change even though many feel a large number of the illnesses that triggered the recall could have as much or more to do with improper storage and handling of oysters than with the product they are delivering to market, she said.

“It [increased testing] came about from the recall – in order to address the perception that we are not selling a safe product, we are going to ramp up the number of animals we test, per lot of product,” she said.

“We want to reassure the public and Health Canada and everybody else that we are taking this very seriously.”

Serious? Go public.

Crypto compensation: United Utilities faces £15m bill

United Utilities accepts it is facing a colossal compensation bill for the first cryptosporidium contamination of drinking water in the North West UK this century.

poop-in-poolBut the company has reassured consumers the payouts – estimated already at £15m and mounting – will not be offset by a rise in water bills.

“Bills will not increase to cover the cost of compensation,” insisted a spokesman.

“This cost will be borne by the company.”

With more than 300,000 households and businesses hit by the scare, now into its third week, United Utilities has declined to put a figure on how much the crypto invasion will amount to.

But in a recent case in Bolton, where consumers had to boil their drinking water for five days after supply problems, the company paid out £15 per house to cover the cost.

With the inconvenience to customers in Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, the Fylde Coast and villages like Samlesbury, Mellor and Mellor Brook at least three times that already, claims could amount to at least £45 a household, or £13.5m in total.

With businesses set to lodge much higher demands for compensation after providing bottled water to all employees during the scare – BAE Systems is thought to have spent more than £100,000 already on keeping its 10,000-strong workforce in Lancashire hydrated – the bill is estimated to be rising by £1m a day.

Popular China restaurant serves crayfish with bacteria, causes food poisoning

Bacteria has been detected in crayfish served by a restaurant which had been ordered to suspend operation after an outbreak of food poisoning earlier this month.

crayfishInspection reports showed that Vibrio parahemolyticus had been detected in food samples provided both by Zheng Wen Qi Crayfish Donburi restaurant and its customers, Yangpu District government said on Friday.

“Considering the restaurant staff’s nonstandard practices in dealing with the excessive quantity of food, the incident is deemed as a food poisoning case caused by food affected by Vibrio Parahemolyticus,” a district government notice said.

A number of diners suffered from diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting after eating crayfish donburi — a dish of crayfish meat on a bed of rice — at the outlet. The restaurant was so popular before the accident that it was said to have served 1,300 portions of donburi on its second day of opening.

At least 3 sick with crypto from Kansas pool

Johnson County is taking some protective measures at specific pools after multiple residents were recently diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) said in a news release.

caddyshack.pool.poop-1“At this time, we have three confirmed cases and are tracking a few more possible cases in the community,” said Lougene Marsh, JCDHE director, in the news release. “We encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently and ensure their children take frequent breaks from the pool to prevent accidents.”

JCDHE is working closely with pool operators in Overland Park and Shawnee for cautionary measures to close and/or treat swimming pools with which infected individuals had contact.