A magazine report still isn’t peer-review: Times wants Salmonella an adulterant

Americans, according to this editorial in the N.Y. Times, eat more than 50 pounds of beef per person each year. That’s a lot of beef. It’s also a lot of risk, because about half — or more than two billion pounds — is ground beef, which can too easily harbor dangerous bacteria.

beef.processingA report, issued by Consumer Reports with the Pew Charitable Trusts, said that between 2003 and 2012, 1,144 people grew sick from beef contaminated with E. coli O157; 316 people were hospitalized and five people died.

The editorial says the Agriculture Department, which now allows beef to have salmonella in up to 7.5 percent of samples, should instead label it an “adulterant,” which would restrict it further. The industry needs to further curb its use of antibiotics for cattle, which contributes to development of drug-resistant bacteria. And cattle feed regulated by the F.D.A. should not include residue from chicken coops and other contaminants.

Freezing isn’t a good preventive control for raw fish sushi

I like sushi, the raw fish kind, but I’m picky about where I eat it, and with each outbreak I’m becoming more apprehensive about consuming it

When I do choose the raw fish-dish, I ask about whether it’s sushi grade and was previously frozen (to take care of the parasitic worms). I stay away from ground tuna or back scrape (which I learned about after a 2012 Salmonella outbreak) since lots of handling and small pieces can increase my risk of foodborne illness. tuna_roll1-300x196

Lydia Zuraw of NPR’s food blog, The Salt writes about a sushi-linked outbreak earlier this year, and points out that freezing isn’t good a Salmonella control measure.

The outbreak in question began in California in March. All told, it sickened 65 people in 11 states. There were 35 cases in California, with another 18 in Arizona and New Mexico. The rest of the cases were scattered across the country, including four in Minnesota.

So if pathogens like Salmonella don’t usually contaminate fish, what went wrong with the sushi tuna in this case? The FDA tells The Salt it doesn’t know for sure. Maybe someone in the processing facility didn’t wash their hands. Maybe the water or equipment used in processing was contaminated. Or maybe a bird or rodent got into the fish on the boat or during the ride to the processing facility. There are many opportunities for contamination to occur between capture and processing.

Ironically, freezing is usually considered a way to make sushi safer, because it kills any parasitic worms living in the raw fish flesh. That’s why last month, New York Citybegan requiring sushi restaurants to freeze their fish before serving it. Many of the city’s top sushi spots have been freezing their raw fish for this very reason for years.

But as this case highlights, freezing doesn’t guarantee your sushi is pathogen-free. While freezing will slow down the growth of Salmonella, cooking or pasteurizing are the only ways to kill the bacteria.

Neat, no ice: 4 ice safety steps for restaurants, bars, and hotels

Jim Chan, a public health inspector for 36 years who retired in 2013 as manager of the food safety program at Toronto Public Heath, writes:

don_draper-300x225During my career as a Health Inspector, one question often asked by the public is “How safe is the ice in food and drinks serve in restaurants?” There is no easy Yes or No answer without having to explain how ice can be contaminated and in what conditions that ice can cause illness. In general, we tend to view ice much the same way we do with drinking water coming out from the tap, and assume that both water and ice are “clean.” Ice must be treated like food, as both can be a source of foodborne illness if not handled safely.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canada have health code regulations around ice and both define ice as food. Here’s an example of code requirements for ice safety under Food Safety legislation: Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 562 (Food Premises) – Ice used in the preparation and processing of food or drink shall be made from potable water and shall be stored and handled in a sanitary manner. Most pathogenic organisms do not readily multiply in ice in restaurants that’s used for food and drinks. However, scientific research has also shown that some bacteria and viruses can survive cold or freezing for long period of time. Therefore, it is important for restaurant operators to ensure their ice does not become contaminated.

icemachine_junk_450Contamination can be introduced by airborne particles, contaminated water supply, food handlers or dirty utensils. But the main cause of ice in restaurants, bars and hotels becoming contaminated is human error: improper ice handling. Training staff is critical to ice safety. Contaminated ice can cause foodborne illness – reduce your risk with regular cleanings, periodic thorough sanitation (by a professional), regular maintenance, and, of course, training. Note: If your commercial ice machine is in a high yeast environment (pizzerias and breweries for example) or if you’re water source is from a well, you will need additional professional deep cleanings.

Lack of regular inspections, exposure to poor hygiene and improper handling of ice will increase the risk of contamination. You don’t want your restaurant or hotel guests getting sick because of inadequate cleanings and sanitation of your ice machine.

To reduce the risk of ice being a source of foodborne illness, restaurant operators and managers should be aware of the following points and to conduct regular self-inspection to identify problems early:

1) Train restaurant or bar staff in proper ice handling practices (bar and kitchen)

Wash hands before getting ice from ice making machine.

Hold only the ice scoop handle and not other parts of the scoop.

Do not scoop ice using water glasses or cups and never handle the ice with hands.

Do not return unused ice to the ice machine/ice bin.

Keep doors of the commercial ice machine closed except when removing ice.

Ice scoops should be stored outside the ice maker and kept in a clean container. Ice scoop & container should be washed & sanitized regularly.

Do not store anything such as food, drinks, fruit etc. in the ice machine. Never use ice machine as a refrigerator!

Clean the ice making machine regularly and fix all problems identified.

Never put Anything in the ice bin…except clean, untouched ice!

2) Inspect and clean/sanitize the ice making machine regularly

Inspect the exterior of the machine. Ensure the door, handle and hatch of the ice machine are clean and in good repair.

Look for any evidence of growth of scum, slime or mold inside the machine. If such growths are observed, immediately clean according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Tip: The ice should be removed from the ice bin and disposed during cleaning to avoid cross contamination by chemicals).

chan.ice.cartoonRoutine cleaning of an ice making machine should be done at least weekly by staff and the process can be as simple as running a sanitizing solution through the cycle, then running two cycles of ice, dispose of these before running ice for drinks and food. Make sure this is part of your weekly cleaning schedule!

3) Routine Ice Machine Services, Maintenance and Major Cleaning/Sanitizing

The ice making machine should be serviced by a professional technician at least twice year, which requires being taken apart for inspection and major cleaning and sanitizing. This needs to be performed by a professional! By choosing Easy Ice for your ice machine (instead of owning or leasing), your ice maker subscription includes 2 deep cleanings a year. And they schedule it for you – saving you not only time but money! And you’re assured the ice machine is clean when the Health Inspector stops by.

A typical cleaning routine would include the following steps:

Turn off the electrical supply and empty the ice bin.

Remove the protective curtain or cover (if present) and check the drain to ensure it is clear.

Clean all surfaces inside using hot water and a cleaner or detergent, follow with an antibacterial sanitizer by wiping all internal surfaces and allow adequate contact-time for the sanitizer to work. (Tip: Do not rinse off the surfaces, allow to air dry)

Wash and sanitize the plastic curtains, cover, ice scoops etc… (Tip: Use hot water and detergent for washing and then soak in a sterilizing solution as per manufacturer’s instructions)

Check the door and ensure it can close tightly to prevent dirt entering the ice making machine.

Switch machine back on and ensure it works properly.

4)  Additional factors to consider for cleaning and sanitizing of commercial ice machines

Biofilms

Microorganisms such as bacteria, can grow together and secret a matrix of polymers to form a protective shield known as Biofilm on surfaces such as food & ice container, ice machine walls, trays etc. Think of the bacteria producing a secretion to make a ‘bionic blanket’ covering themselves and protecting them from attack by chemicals such as cleaning & sanitizing agents. Within the biofilm, pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Shigella can survive and can cause spoilage or infection later when released.

The best way to prevent biofilms from developing is regular cleaning & sanitizing all surfaces that come in contact with food, drinks & ice. However, if biofilms already formed, surfaces must be physically cleaned by scrubbing and than follow with sanitizing to kill the pathogens to ensure a clean and safe environment for food, drinks & ice.

Ice safety is as important as food safety and should be a priority for your restaurant, hotel or bar. By following the above protocol, you can be assured of serving your guests clean, safe ice. Choose to ignore these key points and you may receive a fine, or worse – a shut down, from the Health Inspector. Protect your reputation, your guests and your bank account.

Should peanut butter be microwaved to control Salmonella: Maybe?

This study evaluated the efficacy of a 915 MHz microwave with 3 different levels to inactivate 3 serovars of Salmonella in peanut butter.

peanut.butter.peter.panPeanut butter inoculated with Salmonella enterica serovar Senftenberg, S. enterica serovar Typhimurium and S. enterica serovar Tennessee were treated with a 915 MHz microwave with 2, 4 and 6 kW and acid and peroxide values and color changes were determined after 5 min of microwave heating. Salmonella populations were reduced with increasing treatment time and treatment power. Six kW 915 MHz microwave treatment for 5 min reduced these three Salmonella serovars by 3.24–4.26 log CFU/g. Four and two kW 915 MHz microwave processing for 5 min reduced these Salmonella serovars by 1.14–1.48 and 0.15–0.42 log CFU/g, respectively. Microwave treatment did not affect acid, peroxide, or color values of peanut butter.

These results demonstrate that 915 MHz microwave processing can be used as a control method for reducing Salmonella in peanut butter without producing quality deterioration.

 Inactivation of Salmonella Senftenberg, Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Tennessee in peanut butter by 915 MHz microwave heating

Food Microbiology, Volume 53, Part B, February 2016, Pages 48–52

Won-Jae Song, Dong-Hyun Kang

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002015001689

What makes people sick in Connecticut

Foodborne pathogens cause >9 million illnesses annually. Food safety efforts address the entire food chain, but an essential strategy for preventing foodborne disease is educating consumers and food preparers.

connecticut.foodTo better understand the epidemiology of foodborne disease and to direct prevention efforts, we examined incidence of Salmonella infection, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli infection, and hemolytic uremic syndrome by census tract–level socioeconomic status (SES) in the Connecticut Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network site for 2000–2011.

Addresses of case-patients were geocoded to census tracts and linked to census tract–level SES data. Higher census tract–level SES was associated with Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, regardless of serotype; hemolytic uremic syndrome; salmonellosis in persons ≥5 years of age; and some Salmonella serotypes. A reverse association was found for salmonellosis in children <5 years of age and for 1 Salmonella serotype. These findings will inform education and prevention efforts as well as further research.

Socioeconomic status and foodborne pathogens in Connecticut, USA, 2000–20111

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 21, Number 9—September 2015

Bridget M. Whitney, Christina Mainero, Elizabeth Humes, Sharon Hurd, Linda Niccolai, and James L. Hadler

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/9/15-0277_article

US school lunches safe

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases boneless and ground beef for distribution to recipients through federal nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program, which represents 93% of the overall volume.

lunchlady.simpsonsApproximately every 2,000 lb (ca. 907 kg) of boneless beef and 10,000 lb (ca. 4,535 kg) of ground beef are designated a “lot” and tested for Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, standard plate count organisms (SPCs), E. coli, and coliforms. Any lot of beef positive for E. coli O157:H7 or for Salmonella, or any beef with concentrations of organisms exceeding critical limits for SPCs (100,000 CFU g–1), E. coli (500 CFU g–1), or coliforms (1,000 CFU g–1) is rejected for purchase by AMS and must be diverted from federal nutrition assistance programs. From July 2011 through June 2014, 537,478,212 lb (ca. 243,795,996 kg) of boneless beef and 428,130,984 lb (ca. 194,196,932 kg) of ground beef were produced for federal nutrition assistance programs.

Of the 230,359 boneless beef samples collected over this period, 82 (0.04%) were positive for E. coli O157:H7, 924 (0.40%) were positive for Salmonella, 222 (0.10%) exceeded the critical limit for SPCs, 69 (0.03%) exceeded the critical limit for E. coli, and 123 (0.05%) exceeded the critical limit for coliforms. Of the 46,527 ground beef samples collected over this period, 30 (0.06%) were positive for E. coli O157:H7, 360 (0.77%) were positive for Salmonella, 20 (0.04%) exceeded the critical limit for SPCs, 22 (0.05%) exceeded the critical limit for E. coli, and 17 (0.04%) exceeded the critical limit for coliforms.

Cumulatively, these data suggest beef produced for the AMS National School Lunch Program is done so under an adequate food safety system, as indicated by the low percentage of lots that were pathogen positive or exceeded critical limits for indicator organisms.

Microbiological testing results of boneless and ground beef purchased for the national school lunch program, 2011 to 2014

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, September 2015, pp. 1624-1769

Doerscher, Darin R.; Lutz, Terry L.; Whisenant, Stephen J.; Smith, Kerry R.; Morris, Craig A.; Schroeder, Carl M.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000009/art00005

Peel produce rather than brush to reduce pathogens

Consumers are being advised to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

carrot.peelerHowever, to achieve that goal, consumers must be able to implement protocols in their kitchens to reduce their risk of consuming contaminated produce.

To address this issue, a study was conducted to monitor the fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on produce (cantaloupe, honeydew melon, carrots, and celery) that were subjected to brushing or peeling using common kitchen utensils.

Removal of similar levels of Salmonella from carrots was accomplished by peeling and by brushing, but significantly greater removal of E. coli O157:H7 from carrots was accomplished by peeling than by brushing under running water (P < 0.05). Brushing removed significantly fewer pathogens from contaminated cantaloupes than from other produce items (P < 0.05), suggesting that the netted rind provided sites where the pathogen cells could evade the brush bristles. A Sparta polyester brush was less effective than a scouring pad for removing Salmonella from carrots (P < 0.05). In all cases, brushing and peeling failed to eliminate the pathogens from the produce items, which may be the result of contamination of the utensil during use. High incidences of contamination (77 to 92%) were found among peelers used on carrots or celery, the Sparta brush used on carrots, and the scouring pad used on carrots and cantaloupe. Of the utensils investigated, the nylon brush had the lowest incidence of pathogen transference from contaminated produce (0 to 12%). Transfer of pathogens from a potentially contaminated Sparta brush or peeler to uncontaminated carrots did not occur or occurred only on the first of seven carrots processed with the utensil. Therefore, risk of cross-contamination from contaminated utensils to uncontaminated produce may be limited.

Role of brushes and peelers in removal of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella from produce in domestic kitchens

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, September 2015, pp. 1624-1769

Erickson, Marilyn C.; Liao, Jean; Cannon, Jennifer L.; Ortega, Ynes R.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000009/art00001

152 sick with Salmonella from whole pigs: Kapowsin Meats expands recall of pork product

This release is being reissued to expand the August 13, 2015 recall to include additional products. Details of this release were also updated to reflect a change in poundage, epidemiological informational and distribution area.

pig.roast.appleKapowsin Meats, a Graham, Wash. establishment, is recalling approximately 523,380 pounds of pork products that may be contaminated with Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

FSIS has been conducting intensified sampling at Kapowsin Meats while this establishment took steps to address sanitary conditions at their facility after the original recall on August 13, 2015. Sampling revealed positive results for Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- on Whole Hogs for Barbeque, associated pork products and throughout the establishment. FSIS has deemed sanitary improvement efforts made by the Kapowsin Meats insufficient, and the scope of this recall has been expanded to include all products associated with contaminated source material. The establishment has voluntarily suspended operations.

The whole hogs and associated items were produced on various dates between April 18, 2015 and August 26, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:

Varying weights of boxed/bagged Whole Hogs for Barbeque

Varying weights of boxed/bagged fabricated pork products including various pork offal products, pork blood and pork trim. 

The product subject to recall bears the establishment number “Est. 1628” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The product was shipped to various individuals, retail locations, institutions, and distributors in Alaska, Oregon and Washington.        

On July 15, 2015, the Washington State Department of Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between whole hogs for barbeque and pork products from Kapowsin Meats and these illnesses. Traceback investigation has identified 36 case-patients who consumed whole hogs for barbeque or pork products from this establishment prior to illness onset. These illnesses are part of a larger illness investigation. Based on epidemiological evidence, 152 case-patients have been identified in Washington with illness onset dates ranging from April 25, 2015 to August 12, 2015. FSIS continues to work with our public health partners on this ongoing investigation.                        

pig.sexConsumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them, and should throw them away or return the products to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

 FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume pork and whole hogs for barbeque that have been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F with a three minute rest time. The only way to confirm that whole hogs for barbeque are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ. For whole hogs for barbeque make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact John Anderson, Owner, at (253) 847-1777.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Egg moguls belong behind bars

The Des Moines Register writes in this editorial that four months ago, Iowa egg producers Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter, were each sentenced to 90 days in prison for their role in the nation’s largest egg-related Salmonella outbreak.

decosterNow, however, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers and other major business organizations are fighting to keep the DeCosters out of prison.

They’ve filed briefs with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, siding with the DeCosters in arguing that while fines and probation are acceptable in such cases, it’s unconstitutional to put corporate executives behind bars for the criminal actions of their underlings.

It’s an interesting case with major legal and ethical implications. After all, mere fines aren’t much of a deterrent to executives who collect multi-million-dollar salaries. But a 90-day stint in prison, as the DeCosters themselves argue in their court filings, carries with it the “personal loss and stigma” associated with becoming a convict.

In this case, a prison sentence certainly seems warranted. The Quality Egg salmonella outbreak of 2010 sickened at least 56,000 people (about 1,800 confirmed) and triggered a record-setting recall of more than half a billion eggs.

salmonella.eggsAs to whether the DeCosters themselves were to blame for the outbreak, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett found the two men had created a “culture of rampant safety violations” and a “work environment where employees not only felt comfortable disregarding regulations and bribing USDA officials, but may have even felt pressure to do so.”

The editorial conclueds that tens of thousands of people were sickened as a direct result of the manner in which the DeCosters managed — or, rather, mismanaged — Quality Egg and its employees. For that, the DeCosters should be held accountable. A prison sentence is entirely appropriate.

Science is hard, being a celebrity isn’t: Salmonella reductions in the US

With six cases of measles linked to the University of Queensland and paleo-diet-for-babies moron Pete Evans being eviscerated by viewers, it seems like a bright time for science.

paleo.pete.evansThe boring, repetitive, peer-reviewed stuff that science is made of.

I want the bridges designed to cross the Brisbane river to function safely based on mathematics and engineering, not scientology.

Following on Chapman’s deserved put-down of state-sponsored jazz and food porn – sometimes referred to as NPR – I offer this paper about Salmonella, and the efforts required to reduce the number of sick people.

Salmonella enterica causes an estimated 1 million domestically acquired foodborne illnesses annually in the U.S. Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (SE) is among the top three serovars of reported cases of Salmonella.

We examined trends in SE foodborne outbreaks from 1973 to 2009 using Joinpoint and Poisson regression. The annual number of SE outbreaks increased sharply in the 1970s and 1980s but declined significantly after 1990. Over the study period, SE outbreaks were most frequently attributed to foods containing eggs.

The average rate of SE outbreaks attributed to egg-containing foods reported by states began to decline significantly after 1990, and the proportion of SE outbreaks attributed to egg-containing foods began declining after 1997. Our results suggest that interventions initiated in the 1990s to decrease SE contamination of shell eggs may have been integral to preventing SE outbreaks.

The rise and decline in Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis outbreaks attributed to egg-containing foods in the United States, 1973–2009

Epidemiology & Infection

P. Wright, L. Richardson, B. E. Mahon, R. Rothenberg and D. J. Cole

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9916508&fileId=S0950268815001867y