Five Star Shellfish Inc. brand oysters recalled in Canada due to Salmonella

Five Star Shellfish Inc. is recalling Five Star Shellfish Inc. brand large standard and mixed oysters from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products.

salm.oyster.aug.16This recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Another fairytale: Informed choice on food safety

The paper in Adelaide wrote an opinion piece last week about how consumers basically make faith-based decisions when it comes to food safety.

I recycled an old op-ed in response, and still wondering why the same issues haven’t gained traction after 20 years of publicity in Australia.

cantaloupe.salmonellaThe Advertiser editorial thingies wrote that irony can be really ironic, given that the government department charged with upholding and maintaining food standards in SA treats the public like mushrooms.

By keeping the public in the dark by refusing to release the names of the 621 food outlets in breach of hygiene rules last year, SA Health is denying consumers the right to make an informed choice.

While it is good enough for the NSW State Government to identify offending premises, those who water their gardens with human effluent, sell out of date food and have cockroach-infested kitchens in SA apparently deserve anonymity.

There is more than a whiff of double standards surrounding the secrecy of the data held by SA Health.

On one hand (who writes this crap?), the public is not allowed to know which of their local fast food outlets is cutting food hygiene corners by selling six-day-old schnitzels, and on the other, it wasted no time last week issuing a warning about NT- grown rockmelons being the apparent source of a food poisoning outbreak in SA.

Surely the public is allowed to know the identity of a food retailer that has been found guilty of a major breach of food standards that could potentially have the same impact as eating the dodgy rockmelon.

For a food outlet to be warned several times about using effluent to water gardens simply beggars belief.

SA Health’s repeated warnings to the business owner were akin to being slapped with a wet lettuce leaf.

If such a practice can continue for such an extended period of time, the public can only wonder just what sort of heinous breach of food safety regulations a business must commit to be jumped on immediately.

My response was:

I coach little kids’ (ice) hockey in Brisbane.

For that voluntary pleasure, I had to complete 16 hours of certification training, in addition to the 40 hours of training I completed in Canada to coach a travel team.

To produce or serve food in Australia requires … nothing.

Restaurants and food service establishments are a significant source of the foodborne illness that strikes up to 20 per cent of citizens in so-called developed countries each and every year.

After helping develop and watching the mish-mash of federal, state and local approaches to restaurant inspection and disclosure in a number of western countries for the past 15 years, I can draw two broad conclusions:

  • Anyone who serves, prepares or handles food, in a restaurant, nursing home, day care center, supermarket or local market needs some basic food safety training; and,
  • the results of restaurant and other food service inspections must be made public.

There should be mandatory food handler training, for say, three hours, that could happen in school, on the job, whatever. But training is only a beginning. Just because you tell someone to wash the poop off their hands before they prepare salad for 100 people doesn’t mean it is going to happen; weekly outbreaks of hepatitis A confirm this. There are a number of additional carrots and sticks that can be used to create a culture that values microbiologically safe food and a work environment that rewards hygienic behavior. But mandating basic training is a start.

Next is to verify that training is being translated into safe food handling practices through inspection. And those inspection results should be publicly available.

A philosophy of transparency and openness underlies the efforts of many local health units across North America in seeking to make available the results of restaurant inspections. In the absence of regular media exposes, or a reality TV show where camera crews follow an inspector into a restaurant unannounced, how do consumers — diners — know which of their favorite restaurants are safe?

Cities, counties and states are using a blend of web sites, letter or numerical grades on doors, and providing disclosure upon request. In Denmark, smiley or sad faces are affixed to restaurant windows.

Publicly available grading systems rapidly communicate to diners the potential risk in dining at a particular establishment and restaurants given a lower grade may be more likely to comply with health regulations in the future to prevent lost business.

More importantly, such public displays of information help bolster overall awareness of food safety amongst staff and the public — people routinely talk about this stuff. The interested public can handle more, not less, information about food safety.

Even in New South Wales and Queensland, results are only posted voluntarily. 

So if an outlet sucks at food safety, they don’t have to tell anyone.

Toronto, Los Angeles and New York have had mandatory disclosure, on the doors for years.

Adelaide can figure it out.

And instead of waiting for politicians to take the lead, the best restaurants, those with nothing to hide and everything to be proud of, will go ahead and make their inspection scores available — today.

44 sickened: It was the eggs, again, in Australia, tea towels not suitable for draining excess moisture

Fuck me.

Grocer-Grind-Bacon-Eggs-Benny-640x423I give up.

How hopeless are Australians when it comes to making people barf with raw or undercooked eggs?

According to Greg Stolz of The Courier-Mail, a top Gold Coast cafe has pleaded guilty to putting more than 20 customers in hospital with salmonella poisoning, most after eating contaminated eggs benedict (right, exactly as shown, with a serving of sprouts).

Gold Coast Hospital had to open a special ward to cope with the mass outbreak, Southport Magistrates Court heard.

A total of 44 diners became ill after eating at the Grocer and Grind cafe at Broadbeach Waters in March last year, the court was told.

Thirty had laboratory-confirmed salmonella poisoning while another 14 also reported being ill.

Twenty-two customers were hospitalised with symptoms including nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, blood in their stools and diarrhea.

The court heard poor food handling practices, including “temperature abuse” and using a tea towel to drain moisture from eggs used to make hollandaise sauce, was to blame for the outbreak.

Grocer and Grind had been issued an official warning about poor hygiene including dirty tea towels four months before the outbreak, the court heard.

Grocer and Grind and its owner Taletha March pleaded guilty to two charges, brought by Queensland Health, of selling unsafe food.

The cafe and Ms March face maximum fines of more than $330,000.

The hearing is continuing.

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

 

Market food safety at retail and show me the data: Science fairs and rockmelon

I judged my first science fair this morning.

I’ve done lots of stuff with schoolkids over the years – food is a wonderful teaching tool – but this was tough.

cantaloupe.salmonellaThere were 10 of us, judging about 180 projects at one elementary school.

Being the newbie, I got the prep (kindergarten) and grade 1s (grade 2 would have been a conflict of interest).

We had score sheets that will be returned to the students, and I thought, how do I evaluate this, I don’t want to crush the investigative soul of a 6-year-old.

It’s fair game to crush the souls of PhD students and other profs through peer-review, but this felt like peer-review for little kids.

I mainly wrote encouraging things and asked questions.

The things kids think of.

We have an awards thingy later tonight, with the all-Aussie sausage sizzle (yes, I will bring my tip-sensitive digital thermometer and use it, because that is the only data that matters when involving food safety), but I wonder if they’ll serve rockmelon (cantaloupe).

Probably not.

They know who I am, and didn’t serve it at the last school function, after 97 were confirmed sick with Salmonella linked to rockmelon from Red Dirt Farms in the Northern Territories of Australia.

But, as is often, public health seems to take a back seat to biz.

Matt Brann of ABC reports that demand for rockmelons has dived following a salmonella scare earlier this month, which was linked to rockmelons from a farm in the Northern Territory.

(It’s not a scare, it’s an outbreak with lots of sick people).

Christian Bloecker is in the middle of his rockmelon harvest in the Kimberley’s Ord Irrigation Scheme, and said fruit was now being left in the paddock.

“There’s nothing as a farmer that you can really do about it, apart from getting the awareness out there that rockmelons from the Ord are beautiful, fresh and safe to eat,” he said.

Then you’re getting bad advice.

Prove everything you do to produce a safe crop. Look at models in California and Colorado.

Market your food safety at retail.

Some growers are better than others. They should be rewarded.

Soundbites are empty when people are sick.

And as I judged the students this morning, it wasn’t about soundbits and show: it was, show me the data.

Safety and Salmonella in pistachios

New International Association for Food Protection president, committee member for my PhD and all-round nice person (who won’t be put in the corner), Linda Harris, leads a new paper reviewing the safety of in-shell pistachios.

pistachiosAfter harvest, pistachios are hulled with mechanical abrasion and then separated in a float tank containing water; the nuts that float (∼15%; floaters) and those that sink (∼85%; sinkers) are dried and stored separately. To determine the prevalence of Salmonella in pistachios, a total of 3,966 samples (1,032 floaters and 2,934 sinkers) were collected within 4 months of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 harvests from storage silos (12 samples from each silo, in most cases) and were stored at 4°C; 100-g subsamples were enriched for the presence of Salmonella.

Twenty-one of the floater samples and 11 of the sinker samples were positive forSalmonella: 2.0% prevalence (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3 to 3.1%) and 0.37% prevalence (95% CI, 0.21 to 0.67%), respectively, for a weighted average prevalence of 0.61%. Levels of Salmonella were determined for positive samples using a most-probable-number (MPN) method with multiple 50-g, three 5.6-g, and three 0.56-g subsamples. Geometric mean levels of Salmonella in floaters and sinkers were 0.66 MPN/100 g (0.14 to 5.3 MPN/100 g) and 0.18 MPN/100 g (0.10 to 0.62 MPN/100 g), respectively. Seven different serovars were identified among the isolates, with nine pulsed-field gel electrophoresis fingerprints; as many as four serovars were isolated from some samples. Salmonella serovars Montevideo (44%), Enteritidis (19%), Senftenberg (16%), Worthington (12%), and Liverpool (9.4%) were most commonly isolated from the initial 100-g samples.

The prevalence and levels of Salmonella in pistachios are within those observed for other tree nuts, but the limited number of serovars isolated suggests a narrow and persistent contamination source.

Prevalence and amounts of Salmonella found on raw California inshell pistachios

Harris, Linda J.1; Lieberman, Vanessa2; Mashiana, Rupinder P.2; Atwill, Edward3; Yang, Mai4; Chandler, Jeffrey C.5; Bisha, Bledar6; Jones, Thomas4

1: Department of Food Science and Technology, Western Center for Food Safety, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA;, Email: ljharris@ucdavis.edu 2: Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA 3: Western Center for Food Safety, Department of Population, Health, and Reproductive Medicine, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA 4: DFA of California, 1855 South Van Ness Avenue, Fresno, California 93721, USA 5: Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming, 1000 East University Avenue, Laramie, Wyoming 82071, USA, Department of Agriculture, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA 6:Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming, 1000 East University Avenue, Laramie, Wyoming 82071, USA

Journal of Food Protection, August 2016, Number 8, Pages 1304-1315, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-054

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000008/art00001

Now it’s Salmonella in Israeli chickens

Following the salmonella scare in cornflakes and techina, according to a Channel 2 news expose, chickens with salmonella grown in Israel are not exported to Europe but are sold locally.

chickenThe Of Hagalil Company which sells chicken in Israel stated that the chicken sold in Israel does not exceed the allowed limit of Salmonella.  The Ministry of Health has forbidden the Prince Company from producing techina after finding high levels of salmonella in their product.

Of course it was the eggs: 71 sick from InterContinental Adelaide buffet

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports the InterContinental Adelaide buffet breakfast that made at least 71 people sick from salmonella poisoning has been linked to cross-contamination from eggs.

scrambled.eggsAn Adelaide City Council and SA Health joint investigation has identified the likely cause of the salmonella as cross contamination or inadequate cooking of raw eggs.

The total number of people struck down with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headaches after eating the breakfast spread at the luxury hotel on Sunday, July 31, has risen to 71, including 21 people who were admitted to hospital.

InterContinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the investigation was “still ongoing”.

“What the Adelaide City Council has released is a likely cause (but) we’re still partnering with them fully to determine what the exact cause was,” he said.

That’s the same McCandless who last week said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

SA Health chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the latest salmonella outbreak was another reminder of the potential risks associated with handling raw eggs.

The hotel’s $37 full breakfast buffet at the Riverside Restaurant includes scrambled eggs.

And what about those dips? Any raw eggs in those?

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

Salmonella class action filed in Israeli court

The Health Ministry ruled today (Sunday) that the “Hanasich” tehina company will no longer be allowed to manufacture or distribute its products until further notice, after its raw tehina was found to be infected with Salmonella, leading to a recall of many products containing Hanasich tehina.

shamir-salads-false-label“Hanasich tehina company has conducted itself in a negligent, irresponsible, unfitting, and unprofessional manner,” the Health Ministry ruling read.

The Ministry ordered the company to destroy all the Salmonella-infected tehina stock.

Meanwhile, a request for approval for a class action suit against Shamir Salads, Prince Tehina, and the Shufersal Ltd. (TASE:SAE) and Yohananoff retail chains was filed today (Sunday) at the Lod District Court, following the recent contamination of Tehina with salmonella. The request demands financial compensation of over NIS 6.7 billion, NIS 1,000 per suitor.

The suit was filed through advocates Assaf Noy, David Or Hen, Yossi Greiber and Yitzhak Or and includes a demand for compensation for Israeli consumers “who feel anxious about their own health and the health of their children, anger, uncertainty, and disgust at eating the products of the respondents, suspected of salmonella bacteria contamination.”

The lawsuit claims that Shamir Salads or Prince Tehina had been negligent in not conducting lab tests on their products, while Prince had also concealed information from its customers.

Unlicensed Washington caterer exposes dozens to Salmonella

Kenny Ocker of The News Tribune reports that Rick Stevenson told health inspectors he used the kitchen in a buddy’s rental house in Snohomish County to cook chicken, along with other fixings, for an event nearby in early July.

tacoma.catererBut officials say Stevenson, who runs the unlicensed Mr. Rick’s Catering out of a Tacoma home, failed to cook the chicken through and sickened several people with salmonella.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department had contacted Stevenson multiple times since 2012 telling him to shut down his business. After the Snohomish County incident, the department fined him $710 for continuing to operate without a permit.

Department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers said Wednesday that the state Department of Health is leading the investigation into the food poisoning because the people who attended the event came from throughout Washington.

State spokeswoman Julie Graham said the state has confirmed three cases of salmonella from the July 2 event, which about 175 people attended. At least a dozen more responded to a survey of attendees, saying they also were sickened.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever, chills, dehydration and abdominal pain.

At the event, Stevenson served chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, Italian pasta salad, green salad and some beverages, according to Christina Sherman, an environmental health specialist for the county health department.

“From discussing his processes with him, we could see that he didn’t have enough equipment to prepare all of this food safely and didn’t have enough equipment to keep it warm once it was prepared,“ Christina Sherman, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Rachel Knight, food safety program manager at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, said “Local caterers with the appropriate permit to prepare and serve food at events are responsible for following food safety rules—and protecting the public’s health.”

Salmonella in Israel: Health ministry to sue country’s largest Tahini manufacturer

In a follow-up, Michael Bachner of the Jewish Press reports the Israeli Ministry of Health on Thursday ordered a halt to all sales of products containing tahini made by Prince Tahina, the largest manufacturer of tahini in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world, amid a burgeoning scandal in Israel over salmonella found in various Israeli products.

Prince.tahiniThe bacterium was discovered on Wednesday in Shamir salads, which contains tahini made by Prince Tahina.

“We received a report on August 7 saying that salmonella bacteria were discovered in tahini produced by the Prince Tahina factory,” said Israeli Public Health Services Director Prof. Itamar Grotto at a press conference. “We discovered that the company had shipped products to Shamir Salads without updating us.”

The IDF had already noticed an alarming rate of bacteria in Shamir salads at the end of June and decided to cease buying the company’s products. Fellow market competitors Strauss and Tzabar were spared the contamination, as they had conducted their own checks on the product.

“We understood that Shamir was marketing contaminated products and told them to recall the products,” added Prof. Grotto. Shamir has subsequently recalled products produced over the last ten days.

Additionally, over 200 tons of Prince Tahina products are to be destroyed. The Health Ministry alleges that the manufacturer had been aware of the contamination since July 24 and that it will be prosecuted for not having reported it.

“I have been working in this business for 30 years and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened,” responded Prince Tahina CEO Afif Tannus. “I take full responsibility.”

The decision came amid heavy criticism leveled recently at the Health Ministry after products infected with bacteria had recently slipped through its safeguards and made it to supermarket shelves.

The Health Ministry also said on Thursday that four tons of camel’s milk produced by Bereshit Milk were destroyed, after two children consuming it were hospitalized with an infection.

The frozen vegetable company Milotal is another company to announce a recall of its products, after it discovered that a line of frozen french fries was infected with Listeria bacteria.