Crapping 40 times a day: UK couple left reeling after luxury holiday in Bulgaria

Claudia Tanner of the Daily Mail reports that an idyllic holiday turned into a health nightmare for a couple when they were struck down with salmonella poisoning at a luxury resort.

Paul Gallagher, 45, and wife Lesley, 48, were looking forward to a sun-drenched break in Sinemorets, Bulgaria, but their joy was short-lived when they both fell ill.

Three days into their stay, the pair suffered extreme vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating and stomach cramps in September last year.

Paul, a HGV driver, revealed how he spent the remainder of the week-long holiday going to the toilet 40 times a day.

The pair, from East Kilbride, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, claim food was left out for hours which attracted flies and the pool was dirty at the four-star Bella Vista Beach Club, where they had paid £620 for an all-inclusive stay.

Back home, Paul’s stools tested positive for salmonella – which is usually caused by eating contaminated food. Lesley was suspected of having the same.

The couple are now seeking compensation. 

Stop handling food: 18 with typhoid in New Zealand

The number of people in Auckland confirmed to have contracted typhoid remains at 18; with one probable case and two others still under investigation.

The Auckland Regional Public Health said this afternoon that of those cases, three people remained in hospitals around the city.

All patients – including children – are connected to the Mt Albert Samoan Assembly of God church congregation which holds its Sunday services at Wesley Primary School in Mt Roskill.

“More cases may come to light as a result of the work ARPHS is doing to trace those who have been in contact with people confirmed as having typhoid,” a statement said.

“Typhoid has a typical incubation period of eight to 14 days, but incubation can be up to 80 days.

This means cases may emerge over the course of several weeks.”

Health officials are urging anyone who has close contacts to those affected by the disease to take extra precautions.

“Public health services have asked close contacts of typhoid patients who are in settings where there is an increased risk of transmission, such as food handlers, to stand down until they’re cleared.”

21 sick with Salmonella: Australia still has an egg problem, Melbourne fairytale edition

You’ve got to be fucking kidding.

Another day, another outbreak of Salmonella traced to some Master-Chef-inspired raw egg food porn.

Paddy Naughtin of the Whitehorse Leader writes that a bad batch of eggs is being blamed for 21 people being struck down by a Salmonella outbreak believed to have been picked up at a Blackburn restaurant.

The Department of Health and Human Services and Whitehorse Council are still investigating the cause of the outbreak which affected at least 21 people who ate at the Food Republic on Blackburn Rd on March 18.

Food Republic co-owner Vanessa Lekkas said she was “genuinely distraught” for those who had been affected and was “humbled by their understanding” .

“In almost 30 years of working in the industry we’ve never seen this happen,” Ms Lekkas said.

“We get hundreds of boxes delivered each week, and it looks like one of those contained a bad batch of eggs.

“We’ve been fully transparent with the council and health authorities, and they’ve seen our food handling processes are up to scratch.

“We’ve been told the investigation is now looking at the farms where the eggs came from,” Ms Lekkas said.

Ms Lekkas said the Food Republic would no longer be serving food made with raw egg products.

Why the fuck didn’t they stop years ago?

There’s been plenty of outbreaks, plenty of publicity, but, humans being humans, they think it won’t happen to them.

I get that.

So in the interest of public health, Australians, stop serving raw egg dishes.

And food porn chefs who are food safety idiots, fuck off.

Your wellness guidelines are making people sick.

Health-types, up your game.

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

12 now sick: Raw eggs source of Salmonella at Victor Harbor’s Pork Pie Shop

Australia still has an egg problem.

Raw eggs have been identified as the source of a Salmonella outbreak at a Victor Harbor bakery that led to four people being hospitalised last week.

The Pork Pie Shop in the beachside city south of Adelaide was forced to stop selling its pork and Ascot pies more than a week ago.

South Australia Health said a total 12 cases of food poisoning had been linked to the pies.

Food and Controlled Drugs director Doctor Fay Jenkins said salmonella was found in a raw egg wash that was applied to the pies only after they had been baked.

“We collected samples and we took swabs at the business and some of those samples came back positive with salmonella,” she said.

“We have to do a bit of forensic work. We have to be like detectives and do a bit more testing to get down to the exact strain that caused the outbreak.”

Dr Jenkins said SA Health was continuing to monitor the business.

“They are allowed to produce these pies but they are not allowed to sell them,” she said.

“They’re making the pies and we’re watching them carefully and making sure they are handled properly and the raw egg wash is not going to be used in the future.”

Dr Jenkins said that eggs are a raw product that should be handled like raw meat or poultry.

The outbreak of Salmonella infection from The Pork Pie Shop was linked to 12 cases in people aged 19 to 82, four of whom were hospitalized as a result.

SA Health said there had been four salmonella outbreaks caused by eggs so far this year and 246 people had been affected.

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

94 sickened: Sprouted chia seed powder – USA and Canada, 2013–2014

Salmonella is a leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness. We report the collaborative investigative efforts of US and Canadian public health officials during the 2013–2014 international outbreak of multiple Salmonella serotype infections linked to sprouted chia seed powder.

The investigation included open-ended interviews of ill persons, traceback, product testing, facility inspections, and trace forward.

Ninety-four persons infected with outbreak strains from 16 states and four provinces were identified; 21% were hospitalized and none died. Fifty-four (96%) of 56 persons who consumed chia seed powder, reported 13 different brands that traced back to a single Canadian firm, distributed by four US and eight Canadian companies.

Laboratory testing yielded outbreak strains from leftover and intact product. Contaminated product was recalled. Although chia seed powder is a novel outbreak vehicle, sprouted seeds are recognized as an important cause of foodborne illness; firms should follow available guidance to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination during sprouting.

 

Steak tartare: A special kind of stupid

A favorite line in the ice hockey linesman course I take every year to be recertified is, “that player exhibited a special kind of stupid”

Cooks and purveyors of food porn exhibit their own special kind of stupid, especially around raw beef.

The N.Y. Times continues its long history of bad food porn-based advice because, they’re New Yorkers, and they are their own special kind of stupid: at least the uppity ones.

Gabrielle Hamilton writes in the New York Times Cooking section that a hand-chopped mound of cold raw beef, seasoned perfectly, at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day, with a cold glass of the hair of the Champagne dog that bit you the night before, will make a new man out of you.

Hamilton writes the recipe calls for 8-10 ounces highest-quality beef tenderloin … and to nestle each yolk, still in its half shell if using raw, into the mound, and let each guest turn the yolk out onto the tartare before eating.

Nary a mention of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli or Salmonella or Campylobacter.

Truffle oil fingered: 159 sickened with Salmonella at Fig & Olive in 2015

In the summer of 2015, some 150 people were stricken with Salmonella at uppity Fig and Olive restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

The salmonella outbreak shut down the City Center, DC location for six days in Sept. 2015. The Food and Drug Administration and local health authorities never definitively determined the exact source of the salmonella, but truffle mushroom croquettes were a common denominator among Fig & Olive diners who got sick. Components of the dish were pre-prepared at a Long Island City commissary that supplied Fig & Olive’s restaurants around the country with already-made sauces, dressings, and more, and has since been closed.

Six months and a round of layoffs later, one former mid-level executive told Jessica Sidman of Washington City Paper, “They’re an image conscious-first company. They don’t care about the guest. They care about their image, and they care about the bottom line … It’s just not a good company.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has now weighed in on the source of the Salmonella – without naming the restaurant.

During July–September 2015, a total of 159 patrons reported gastrointestinal illness after eating at a single District of Columbia restaurant. Forty-one persons (40 restaurant patrons and one employee) were infected with an indistinguishable Salmonella Enteritidis strain on the basis of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (XbaI pattern JEGX01.0008). Results from a case-control study using restaurant patron data identified a novel food vehicle, truffle oil, as the likely source of Salmonella Enteritidis infection in this outbreak. Approximately 89% of case-patients reported eating truffle oil–containing items, compared with 57% of patrons who did not report gastrointestinal illness (p<0.001).

Public health officials and consumers should be aware that truffle oil has been implicated as the likely source of a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak and could possibly harbor this pathogen. Timely engagement of the public, health care providers, and local and federal public health officials, is particularly critical for early recognition of outbreaks involving common foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella Enteritidis.

Going public: Why FDA doesn’t share retail outlet information (but should) edition

Earlier this month Doug and I had a paper published in the Journal of Environmental Health about the need for public health folks (especially at the local and state levels) who are dealing with an outbreak to have a plan on when to go public. The plan should include what info the release; how they release it; and, what triggers release.

There are a bunch of great folks in these agencies who are often understaffed, overworked and dealing with political pressures – but often don’t look to the risk communication world for tips on this stuff.

Caitlin Dewey at the Washington Post wrote about why FDA doesn’t practice sharing outlets/retailers where recalled products are sold, even those linked to illnesses.

The FDA does not specify, however, which stores, centers or schools — because that would violate its interpretation of an obscure trade secret rule.

This interpretation differs from that of other agencies in the federal food safety system, an overlapping and often illogical network of regulatory fiefdoms. The system, which is responsible for keeping food free of bacteria and other pathogens, frequently has to weigh the very real interests of private food companies against potential risks to the public. In the case of releasing retailer lists during major outbreaks, the FDA has historically sided with business, ruling that such lists constitute “confidential commercial information” and thus should not be available for public consumption.

Critics say that the agency’s unwillingness to share this information poses a clear danger to public health, particularly in cases like the current E. coli outbreak, where parents may not know if their child consumed the recalled product. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 of the 16 people who have fallen ill were children.

It could also prove relevant in incidents like last year’s multistate hepatitis A outbreak, which was traced to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt and sold at several Tropical Smoothie Cafes. The FDA did not specifically reveal which locations, however — a measure that some experts say would have gotten the news to ill consumers faster. That’s important in the case of an illness like hepatitis A, which can be treated with a vaccine for a limited period after exposure.

Doug and I argue that public health agencies (like FDA) should be in the business of sharing the info they have, the info they don’t have and all the uncertainties. This includes distribution data. There are lots of ways that folks get food safety and recall information. Sometimes it’s directly from their retailer of choice; or maybe it comes from a local media source. Or someone shared something on Facebook.

Bill Hallman and colleagues at Rutgers conducted a survey of consumers and their self-reported behaviors following 2008’s Salmonella saintpaul in tomatoes, er, peppers outbreak and found that lots of people (81%) say they they share recall info when they see it. 38% believe that the food they purchase is less likely to be recalled than their neighbors. And less than 60% report checking their fridges and pantries for the food.

Releasing retailer/distribution information might increase the chance individuals will say to themselves ‘I’ve bought some soynut butter recently, and I got it at that grocery store’ and they go check.

But I could just be optimistic.

A food safety Facebook friend posted a couple of days ago about a Listeria monocytogenes-linked recall. It was so important to him that he posted the info twice once on Feb 17 and again March 11, ‘I want to again stress that you should check any production codes immediately and if you have any of these products, either throw them away or return them to your grocery store. I just checked my cheese stash and had the pepperjack slices that are included.’

But, like Hallman and colleagues found, while he shared the info, he wasn’t motivated to actually go to his fridge to look for it the first time he posted. Maybe the distribution information would have triggered a behavioral response.

Going public real time: Hepatitis A in my daughter’s Brisbane school, this time it’s personal

At 4:23 p.m. AET on Friday, March 3, 8-year-old Sorenne’s school issued a notice to some parents that said:

“Hepatitis A has been reported at school. Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. Anyone can be infected with hepatitis A if they come into direct contact with food, drunks, or objects contaminated by faeces of an infected person.”

I’m not sure they meant drunks, but that’s what it said.

Amy got the e-mail.

I got notification of the e-mail at 5:30 p.m. AET

I immediately called the school.

No answer.

I e-mailed all the school contacts to say, “Hepatitis A is a serious disease for those who are unvaccinated. It passes fecal-oral, and can be acquired by drinks with straws, but usually not drunks (as your note says).”

Standard procedure in the U.S is vaccination clinics for anyone who has the potential to be exposed, but is only useful if done within a few days.:

So then I called Queensland Health, the state health agency.

Being after 5 p.m. on a Friday, there wasn’t no one around, except for a nice man who said he would investigate.

I e-mailed my questions:

“What is standard vaccination clinic procedure in the event of a positive case?

“What is the vaccination policy for hep A in Australia? Queensland?

“What was the timeline for detection and public notification?”

He said he would do the best he could and call me back.

He didn’t.

This is apparently normal.

On Feb. 23, 2017, I e-mailed media relations at Queensland Health to ask, “Can Queensland Health confirm or deny there was an outbreak of Salmonella in Sunnybank (Brisbane) around the Chinese New Year possibly involving deep-fried ice cream?
“thank you”

No answer.

Going public is about protecting people from public health threats.

Brisbane sucks at it.
Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.