45 sick from Campylobacter linked to raw milk in Utah

Utah public health officials are investigating a few cases of sickness associated with raw or unpasteurized milk.

A few? Is there that many people in Utah?

colbert.raw.milkSo far, 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been confirmed in people who had raw milk in the week they got sick.

Officials said the illness has been reported in Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties.

Two cases have also been confirmed in California and Idaho.

The first case of the infection was reported May 9.

The Utah Dept. of Health said all 45 cases are linked to raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County.

The Utah Dept. of Agriculture suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on Aug. 4 after several tests were positive for Campylobacter.

Larry Lewis with the UDAF said the dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors and it will be allowed to sell raw milk again as soon as it consistently passes safety tests.

19 sick; E. coli O121 infections linked to raw clover sprouts (final update)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this outbreak appears to be over.

clover.sprouts• A total of 19 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) were reported from six states.

• The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: California (1), Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (11).

• 44% of ill persons were hospitalized. No ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported. 

• Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho was the likely source of this outbreak.

• Evergreen Fresh Sprouts is no longer using the seed lot linked to illnesses in this outbreak.

• Sprouts produced by this firm from this seed lot are likely no longer available for consumption given the approximately 14-day shelf life of raw clover sprouts.

Nosestretcher alert: Australian food scientist says just wash raw sprouts, they’re safe and great choice

And why just pick on the Brits. Misuse of science by allegedly science-based agencies is rampant, owing to personal and political preferences.

dr_lisa_szaboAccording to the New South Wales Food Authority (that’s the state where Sydney is located, that’s in Australia), “Science plays an important role in everything we do here and as this week marks National Science Week across Australia, our scientists are getting in on the action and inviting you to learn about the important role science plays in food safety and protecting you from food poisoning.”

Chief Scientist Dr Lisa Szabo was online yesterday from 1pm to 2pm to bust some food furphies and give you the low down on any food safety myths (who writes this stuff?).

In response to a question, Dr. Liz wrote, “You’re right when you say sprouts are healthy, they are a great choice. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly as they can be contaminated as seeds as well as during growth and processing with bacteria such as E.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.

“If you’re under 5, over 70, are pregnant or already have a low or compromised immune system its better to be safe than sorry and avoid any type of raw or lightly cooked sprouts.”

Nonsense.

You ain’t gonna wash bacteria off sprouts, especially if they are internalized in seed.

Raw sprouts are one of the few foods I won’t eat, yet they are ubiquitous in Australia.

jimmy.john's.sprouts Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

From the Salmonella in low moisture foods file: Trader Joe’s almond butter edition

At the 2007 IAFP annual meeting in Florida, CDC foodborne illness outbreak guru Robert Tauxe told symposium audience that the next big thing for food safety was low-moisture ingredients. Salmonella is hardy, especially when stressed through drying, so it sticks around for a while. It might not grow much without available water, many low-moisture foods are also high-fat which protects the pathogen in the gut and leads to a lower mean infectious dose. Tauxe’s comments were post- Salmonella Tennessee in Peter Pan peanut butter and pre- Salmonella Wandsworth in Veggie Booty (and other outbreaks) and he talked about dried spices and flavorings and peanut butter-type products like hummus and tahini. And almond butter.91989-Raw-Crunchy-Unsalted-Almond-Butter

According to a message on the Trader Joe’s website, the retailer is recalling specific lots of two types of of almond butter.

We have been alerted by our supplier of Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butters that there is a possibility that product with the specified date codes may be contaminated with Salmonella:

Raw Crunchy Unsalted Almond Butter

SKU 91989

USE BY 28DEC14 thru 18JUN15

Raw Creamy Unsalted Almond Butter

SKU 56995

USE BY 27DEC14 thru 18JUL15

 In accordance with our stringent health and safety standards, and as an extreme precaution, all of the potentially affected product has been removed from sale and destroyed.

Customers who have purchased any of these items with the specified code dates are urged to not eat them and to dispose of them or return them to any Trader Joe’s for a full refund.

No other Trader Joe’s products are included in this recall.

2 dead from Vibrio in raw fish in Korea

Health officials in Incheon are on alert after two vibrio sepsis patients died there while receiving treatment. They contracted the disease after eating raw fish.

Traw.fish.koreahis year, 10 cases of vibrio sepsis have been reported throughout the country, most of which occurred in South Jeolla Province.

According to the Incheon Metropolitan Government, a patient from Ganghwa-gun, surnamed Hwang, 53, died Aug. 14 at a hospital where he had been treated for severe abdominal pains and diarrhea.

Hwang was the second vibrio sepsis patient in Incheon to die, following another fatality in Bupyeong-gu.

The bacterium Vibrio vulnificus is commonly contracted through the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. The resulting sepsis can cause abdominal pain and vomiting, among other symptoms.

State-sponsored jazz fail: unlocking France’s secrets to safer raw milk cheese?

Leave it to U.S. National Public Radio to glorify raw milk cheese from France, based on some secret manuscript that requires $20,000 to translate (Amy could probably do it for nothing, but I wouldn’t want to speak on her behalf).

UnknownWhat NPR left out was that some former raw milk cheese producers have switched to using pasteurized milk.

In 2007, while Amy and I were touring around France, she wrote, two of France’s (and thus the world’s) top lait cru Camembert producers, Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mère, announced that they are forgoing the status of “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” and switching to cheese made exclusively with heat-treated micro-filtered milk (not quite pasteurized but still an affront to purists).

Lactilis’ spokesperson, Luc Morelon said that although they recognize the importance of Camembert traditions, they’re making the change “[b]ecause consumer safety is paramount, and we cannot guarantee it 100 per cent. We cannot accept the risk of seeing our historic brands disappearing because of an accident in production.” In response to his critics Morelon added, “I don’t want to risk sending any more children to hospital. It’s as simple as that.”

Nice research, NPR.

Still a failure to communicate and, says CDC, sprouts still suck

After a series of outbreaks associated with sprouts in the mid-1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published guidelines in 1999 for sprouts producers to reduce the risk of contamination. The recommendations included treating seeds with an antimicrobial agent such as calcium hypochlorite solution and testing spent irrigation water for pathogens.

jimmy.john's.sproutsFrom 1998 through 2010, 33 outbreaks from seed and bean sprouts were documented in the United States, affecting 1330 reported persons. Twenty-eight outbreaks were caused by Salmonella, four by Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, and one by Listeria. In 15 of the 18 outbreaks with information available, growers had not followed key FDA guidelines. In three outbreaks, however, the implicated sprouts were produced by firms that appeared to have implemented key FDA guidelines.

Although seed chlorination, if consistently applied, reduces pathogen burden on sprouts, it does not eliminate the risk of human infection. Further seed and sprouts disinfection technologies, some recently developed, will be needed to enhance sprouts safety and reduce human disease. Improved seed production practices could also decrease pathogen burden but, because seeds are a globally distributed commodity, will require international cooperation.

Outbreaks caused by sprouts, United States, 1998–2010: lessons learned and solutions needed

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Volume: 11 Issue 8: July 30, 2014, Pages 635-644

DechetAmy M., HermanKaren M., Chen ParkerCary, TaorminaPeter, JohansonJoy, TauxeRobert V., and MahonBarbara E.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2013.1705

Raw sprouts are the poster child for failures in what academics call, risk communication.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.

sprout.santa.barf.xmasAbout 1999, graduate student Sylvanus Thompson started working with me on risk analysis associated with sprouts. He got his degree and went on to rock-star status in the food safety world with the implementation of the red-yellow-green restaurant inspection disclosure program with Toronto Public Health, but we never published anything.

I remember frantically flying to Kansas City to hang out with this girl in Manhattan (Kansas) I’d met a couple of weeks before, in the midst of the 2005 Ontario raw sprout outbreak that sickened over 700; Jen Tryon, now with Global News, interviewed me at the airport, with me wearing a K-State hockey shirt (that’s the joke; there is no hockey at K-State, and I was still employed by Guelph; and I was going to hang out with this girl).

After the German E. coli O104 outbreak that killed 53 people last year and sickened over 4,000, along with the ridiculous public statements and blatant disregard for public safety taken by sandwich artist Jimmy John’s in the U.S., I figured we really needed to publish something.

The basic conclusions:

• raw sprouts are a well-documented source of foodborne illness;

• risk communication about raw sprouts has been inconsistent; and,

• continued outbreaks question effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks.

Sprouts present a unique food safety challenge compared to other fresh produce, as the sprouting process provides optimal conditions for the growth and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. The sprout industry, regulatory agencies, and the academic community have been collaborating to improve the microbiological safety of raw sprouts, including the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), establishing guidelines for safe sprout production, and chemical disinfection of seed prior to sprouting. However, guidelines and best practices are only as good as their implementation. The consumption of raw sprouts is considered high-risk, especially for young, elderly and immuno-compromised persons (FDA, 2009).

Sol Erdozain, now a graduate student in psychology at Kansas State University, took the lead on this one. Kevin Allen, now a prof-type and hockey goon at the University of British Columbia who used to take great pleasure firing pucks off my head – even though he also a goalie himself – weighed in with his microbiology expertise, Katija Morley (nee Blaine) made our arguments more coherent, and I pestered everyone. Because I should have published something like this 12 years ago.

Writing is hard.

amy.sprouts.guelph.05From November 2010 into 2011, an outbreak linked to raw sprouts in the U.S. and involving sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s sickened 140 people. This was the third sprout related outbreak involving this franchise, yet the owner of the Montana Jimmy John’s outlet, Dan Stevens, expressed confidence in his sprouts claiming that because the sprouts were locally grown they would not be contaminated. By the end of December 2010 a sprout supplier, Tiny Greens Farm, was implicated in the outbreak. Jimmy John’s owner, John Liautaud, responded by stating the sandwich chain would replace alfalfa sprouts with clover sprouts since they were allegedly easier to clean. However, a week earlier a separate outbreak had been identified in Washington and Oregon in which eight people were infected with Salmonella after eating sandwiches containing clover sprouts from a Jimmy John’s restaurant. This retailer was apparently not aware of the risks associated with sprouts, or even outbreaks associated with his franchisees.

In late December, 2011, less than one year after making the switch to clover sprouts, Jimmy John’s was linked to another sprout related outbreak, this time it was E.coli O26 in clover sprouts. In February 2012, sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s announced they were permanently removing raw clover sprouts from their menus. As of April 2012, the outbreak had affected 29 people across 11 states. Founder and chief executive, John Liautaud, attempted to appease upset customers through Facebook stating, “a lot of folks dig my sprouts, but I will only serve the best of the best. Sprouts were inconsistent and inconsistency does not equal the best.” He also informed them the franchise was testing snow pea shoots in a Campaign, Illinois store, although there is no mention regarding the “consistency” or safety of this choice.

Despite the frequent need for sprout-based risk communication, messaging with industry and public stakeholders has been limited in effectiveness. In spite of widespread media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks, improved production guidelines, and public health enforcement actions, awareness of risk remains low. Producers, food service and government agencies need to provide consistent, evidence-based messages and, more importantly, actions. Information regarding sprout-related risks and food safety concerns should be available and accurately presented to producers, retailers and consumers in a manner that relies on scientific data and clear communications.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Abstract

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

Raw milk in UK? FSA Board wants more evidence

The UK Food Standards Agency board has asked for the FSA to maintain the current regulations controlling the sale of raw milk, while further evidence is gathered to allow board members to make a final decision on whether to revise the rules.

colbert.raw.milkFollowing a review of the current raw milk regulations, the FSA had proposed exploring the scope for wider access to raw milk, including limited sales from vending machines in shops.

The proposals were discussed today by the Board. They concluded that additional evidence was required on risks from specific pathogens. More detail was also requested on the proposed testing regime that would be necessary to allow extended sales while maintaining consumer protection. The Board said a final decision should not be made until the European Food Safety Authority has delivered the findings of its own review of the risks from raw milk which is expected in December 2014.

The FSA will now consider the conclusions in more detail and agree a timeframe for delivering the additional work the Board has requested.

Quackery confirmed: raw beef making a comeback

It took a pregnant mother-of-one to point out to the six-figure bureaucrats at Queensland Health that a leaflet promoting the Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network was included in  pregnancy packs and listed as the only information source for vaccinations.

bullshitNot much different than Toronto Sick Kids hospital saying pregnant women can eat deli meats as long as they come from “reputable sources.”

And now the Washington Post, with this piece of food porn: “Every once in a while, Kapnos chef-owner George Pagonis will prepare a dish of lamb tartare, carefully plating the beautiful oval of ground meat atop a swish of charred eggplant puree and dollops of harissa, send it to the dining room — and it will promptly come back to the kitchen, untouched.

“A couple of people, when they order it, I guess they don’t know what tartare is. And they’re like, ‘Oh, is this raw?’ And they send it back,” said Pagonis. “You take all this time to make it look nice, and you’re like, what are you doing? I get all upset.”

But occasions for Pagonis to get upset are becoming almost as rare as that rosy-red lamb he’s serving. Diners are rediscovering the pleasures of a plate of velvety raw meat, as steak tartare makes a comeback (along with its Italian cousin, carpaccio).

Raw-meat dishes in ethnic cuisine — the Vietnamese bo tai chanh, Ethiopian kitfo and gored gored, and Lebanese kibbeh nayeh — are, of course, impervious to trends. But tartare, once a mark of sophistication at the “continental” restaurants of old, fell out of favor after the mad cow and E. coli scares of the 1990s. Now that the best restaurants are more cognizant of the conditions in which their animals are raised, diners who were once wary of eating raw meat might be more willing to let their guard down.

“Especially now, with these chef-driven restaurants, chefs are sourcing great products. And these products are more okay [for] eating raw,” said Pagonis. “People are trusting us.”

Absolute bullshit.

bullshit 2dIn December, an outbreak of E.  coli traced to steak tartare at a restaurant in Montreal sickened seven people. But Cliff Coles, president of California Microbiological Consulting, a company that tests food for produce and meat purveyors, said the risk of illness is minimal if chefs prepare well-sourced meat in a clean kitchen using proper technique.

“The beef industry has done a lot to improve not only the quality of the beef but the microbiological quality,” Coles said.

Bullshit.

Bullshit ferments and grows and stinks. No bullshit. Literally.

Can chlorine dioxide improve the microbiological safety of frozen blueberries?

Blueberries are prone to microbial contamination, with growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds during bulk freezing negatively impacting quality and marketability. As a follow-up to our previous work, the combined impact of ClO2 gassing and freezing rate on the microbiological quality of frozen blueberries was examined.

blueberry.lugSixteen lugs of blueberries (∼9.1 kg/lug) were stacked inside a large plastic container at a commercial blueberry processing facility. In each of four trials, one container was exposed to ClO2 gas (4 ppm) using three 3-kg sachets while one ungassed container remained untarped. Before and after commercial processing, 50-g samples of gassed and ungassed blueberries were quantitatively examined for mesophilic aerobic bacteria (MAB), yeasts, and molds. After processing, additional 50-g samples were placed in a −20 °C freezer under different conditions where the berries reached a temperature of −3 °C after 3 h (quick-frozen), 2 days (intermediate-frozen) and 5 days (slow-frozen). Fruit was sampled periodically during 6 months of frozen storage at −20 °C. MAB yeast and mold populations decreased ∼2 and 1 log CFU/g, respectively, in ClO2-gassed and ungassed fruit, with MAB, yeast and mold populations increasing ∼1 log CFU/g during quick freezing to −3 °C and ∼2 log CFU/g during intermediate and slow freezing to −3 °C. Based on these findings, ClO2 gassing followed by quick freezing provides an effective means for meeting the current microbiological standards being imposed by buyers of frozen blueberries.

 Efficacy of chlorine dioxide gas and freezing rate on the microbiological quality of frozen blueberries

ScienceDirect

Lei Zhang, Zhinong Yan, Eric J. Hanson, Elliot T. Ryser

Food Control, Volume 47, January 2015, Pages 114–119, DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2014.06.008

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713514003375