Footie star suffers from Salmonella

I tried my hockey goalie re-debut in Australia and strained both my ACLs (that’s anterior cruciate ligament) within 10 minutes. Maybe I’ll prep better next time, or stick to coaching.

clay.smith.aflAussie rules football has become my second favorite sport because of the same randomness and aggressiveness of hockey (the ice kind, have to say that down here) but unfortunately for AFL rising star Clay Smith, he not only tore his ACL, he got Salmonella poisoning.

He’ll be out for the rest of the year.

South Carolina toddler fights Salmonella after family dogs ate contaminated dog food

Cross-contamination with pet food is a continual issue.

It took years for Brian and Elizabeth Hall to have their first baby.

sadie.dog.powellIt will take years more for their infant daughter to get well.

Amy Hall turned 2 last month, battling a debilitating form of salmonella that, according to her parents, surfaces every two to three weeks and is expected to plague her for years to come.

She got it from her family’s dogs. The pets, Amy’s parents later learned, became infected in 2012 from eating contaminated dog food produced at a South Carolina plant.

Now, Amy is a salmonella carrier. Earlier this summer, her parents sued the pet food company they hold responsible.

Health officials have told the Halls their child is a health risk to anyone she is around. The couple sterilizes their Union County home regularly. They don’t believe it’s safe to put Amy in daycare, and have hired a specialized nanny to step in while they’re at work.

Amy is among some 50 salmonella victims in at least 20 states and Canada who health investigators have linked to the Diamond Pet Foods plant in Gaston, S.C. In 2005, the facility produced contaminated food that killed or sickened dozens of dogs in more than 20 states.

Foster Farms: keys to the city after sickening 621

Until Foster Farms goes public, with data and risk responsibility, with 621 sick, puff pieces like getting the keys to the city should be scorned.

Foster-Farms-Chicken-BreastAccording to the Modesto Bee, without Livingston, there is no Foster Farms, and without Foster Farms, there is no Livingston.

Those were the words of Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra as he explained the company’s impact on the city. Samra joined Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza and Councilman Arturo Sicairos in presenting Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster with a commemorative key to the city Tuesday night.

The company was recognized for its 75th anniversary during a special meeting at the City Council chamber.

Foster said he’s grateful for the support of the Livingston community, especially amid a salmonella outbreak and cockroach infestation that shut down the plant for days sending nearly 3,000 employees home without pay.

“I think when things like what’s happened in the last eight months occur it impacts not only the employees, but also the community,” Foster said. “Once this happened, we took a multihurdle approach to controlling salmonella. We now believe we are the best in class with salmonella control.”

Foster also credited the Livingston plant’s employees for their hard work and loyalty. Many of them come from families that have worked multiple generations for the company.

Florette withdraws salmonella parsley from sale in France

French group Florette (ready to use salads and vegetables) announced on Sunday that they had to withdraw sachets of flat parsley and parsley-chives from sale due to a presence of salmonella.  The sachets were put on sale between the 4th-11th July 2014 all over France in large supermarkets and specialised stores. 

Florette”The first investigations carried out have not allowed us, at this stage, to explain the contamination, but Florette is currently continuing their internal inquiry” stated Florette. 

Till receipts – a new approach for investigating outbreaks?

Selecting suitable controls for outbreak investigations is often difficult and if done inappropriately will lead to biased inferences. Till receipts and other sales records are frequently available on food premises, but their applicability has not been fully explored.

Pre printed till rollsUsing data from an investigation into a Salmonella outbreak affecting 66 individuals exposed in a London takeaway restaurant, this study aimed to evaluate the use of till receipts to assess associations between sales and illness. Cases identified through local case-finding were subjected to a standardised exposure questionnaire. Till receipts over the time period when cases arose were analysed. Estimated food exposures from sales were compared to case reported exposures and till receipts analysis showed strong association between illness and consumption of rotisserie chicken (odds ratio (OR): 2.75; confidence interval (CI): 1.7–4.5). Chicken sales immediately prior to food consumption for cases were compared to two control periods in an ecological case-crossover design. On average there was an estimated increase of 3.7 (CI: 2.2–5.2) extra chickens sold in the hour immediately prior to the consumption in the cases (p<0.0001) and the risk of becoming ill at busy times increased by 5% with each additional chicken quarter sold per hour (OR: 1.05; CI: 1.03–1.08). Microbiological and environmental investigations revealed Salmonella Enteritidis phage type (PT)14b in all available cases’ stool samples, two environmental samples and leftover chicken from the takeaway. The feasibility of this novel approach to obtain exposure information in the population at risk has been demonstrated, and its limitations are discussed. Further validation is required, comparing results with those in a concurrent classic case–control study.

Till receipts – a new approach for investigating outbreaks? Evaluation during a large Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 14b outbreak in a north west London takeaway restaurant, September 2009

Eurosurveillance

D Zenner, J Zoellner3, A Charlett1, W Marmairis4, C Lane1, J Y Chow

Euro Surveill. 2014;19(27):pii=20848. Available online: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20848

Is Foster Farms a food safety pioneer or a persistent offender?

Dan Charles of NPR reports that Foster Farms, a chicken producer in California, just can’t seem to stop bleeding bad news.

Foster-Farms-Chicken-BreastAn outbreak of Salmonella linked to Foster Farms poultry has sickened at least 621 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico since 2013, shows no signs of stopping.

But Foster Farms may now be one of the country’s cleanest, safest sources of chicken products. That’s according to the USDA, which has been testing chicken parts that are processed at Foster Farms plants.

After the USDA threatened to shut down the plants in October, the company called in food safety experts and set up new to eliminate salmonella contamination. It’s made a difference, the government says. At Foster Farms plants, fewer than 5 per cent of chicken parts test positive for salmonella. At other companies, it’s typically about 20 per cent.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California called on other chicken companies to follow Foster Farms’ example. David Acheson, former chief medical officer of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and a former associate commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration, praised the company for being “willing to devote the time and resources to becoming a world leader in food safety.”

If Foster Farms or any other company wants to be a real food safety leader, testing data will be publicly available and microbial food safety will be marketed at retail so consumers can choose – and not just choice amongst soundbites.

Military food safety with mashed potatoes and ‘some stuff with lettuce’

Army Times reports that what began as a line of defense against biological warfare has been unleashed on unsuspecting victims in an Army laboratory — 150 mashed potatoes, to be exact.

Potato Head2The result could speed up the Army’s food-testing process, and even help save lives in the event of an outbreak caused by a foodborne pathogen. Which brings us back to the potatoes: 75 of them were infected with Salmonella for a recent test, and researchers at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center found all of them using a Mass Spectrometry Proteomics Method.

Tests that try to grow cultures of suspected pathogens to determine their presence take at least three days, said Mary Wade, head of ECBC’s Point Detection Branch — sometimes up to a month. Spectrometry takes four hours, at most. The test itself, after the questionable foodstuff is prepped for examination, takes minutes.

And unlike other methods that focus on a particular suspected toxin, this one can target any invader that’s been “genomically sequenced,” Wade said, including thousands of types of bacteria and viruses, even fungi and parasites.

The project began as a way to gauge environmental samples — air, water, even blood — for exposure to bacteria, Wade said. That was before the Army’s Public Health Command expressed interest.

“We were not, at the time, necessarily doing food work,” Wade said. “Some stuff with lettuce.”

Initial tests on spuds, a favored subject because of its consistency, showed promise four or five years ago, she said. That eventually led to the larger-scale potato testing, and the recent test led to further program expansion, according to a June 9 ECBC release, including sending the MSPM equipment to Camp Zama, Japan.

Statistics for foodborne illnesses are kept at the Defense Department level, a spokeswoman for PHC said: According to DoD figures, more than 2,700 service members came down with salmonellosis from 2002-2012, and more than 12,300 suffered from “other bacterial food poisoning.”

Tracking such illnesses isn’t an exact science — many service members likely wouldn’t report mild symptoms of food poisoning, and those who do report stomach or intestinal problems are grouped in categories that may or may not involve foodborne pathogens. More than 61,000 troops had “ill-defined intestinal infections” from 2002-12, DoD data show, and almost 380,000 reported suffering from diarrhea.

2000 sickened: Salmonella egg victims sought by feds, 4 years later

In 2010, eggs produced by farms owned by Jack DeCoster in Iowa sickened at least 2,000 people with Salmonella. The companies recalled 550 million eggs nationwide.

eggsalmonellaIn June, 2014, Austin “Jack” DeCoster, 79, and Peter DeCoster, 50, agreed to pay $7 million in fines and forfeitures as part of a federal criminal case.

Prosecutors allege Quality Egg on at least two occasions in 2010, including April 12, 2010, offered money to a “public official with intent to influence an official act.”

On April 12, 2010, Quality Egg employees offered a USDA inspector $300 to release eggs for sale that had failed to meet federal standards, according to criminal charges filed in 2012 against Tony Wasmund, a former Quality Egg employee.

Wasmund, 63, of Willmar, Minn., pleaded guilty in September 2012 to conspiring to bribe an egg inspector. His sentencing has been rescheduled four times, leading to speculation prosecutors were using his testimony against the DeCosters.

Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa asked anyone from the public who got sick from the DeCoster- Salmonella eggs to come forward.

Anyone sickened by those eggs or otherwise hurt by the incident has the right to submit a Victim Impact Statement during the sentencing phase to explain how the crime affected them physically, emotionally or financially.  Impact Statements can be submitted online at www.justice.gov/usao/ian.

Food safety, Salmonella, sprouts and no, that dingo didn’t eat my baby

We used to be known as, “The no sprouts people.”

If Amy or I ordered anything, we’d say, no sprouts please.

sprouts.sorenne.jul.14We fell out of that habit because so much of foodservice in the U.S. has removed raw sprouts from the menu.

But it’s still 1978 in Australia.

With two weeks of school holidays, we decided on a mild road trip north to explore more of the country than the 15km radius we could reach by bicycle (yes, I know it’s not far, but is when hauling a kid in a trailer).

We spent three days at Rainbow Beach, including a day trip to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. Our guide had been a chef for over 20 years and said, no more, gotta get back to what he loves, and that was hanging out on the Island.

We saw whales and four different dingoes going for bait from fishers; they didn’t eat any babies but we know a lot more about dingo safety.

Next stop: Hervey Bay, a renowned area for sea scallops and purportedly the best whale watching in Australia.

indulge.cafe.bundaburgWe arrived tired and went to a restaurant at lunch that had fabulous seafood, but raw sprouts on every dish.

We had forgotten we were the no-sprouts family, although I did have a word with the server on the way out.

Next, Bundaberg, sugar cane and rum capital of Australia, with a slavery past that has now somewhat transformed to a mixture of hippies and bogans.

Amy had looked on-line, and decided where we were going to lunch.

I placed the order, and the server explained all the food was local and naturally sourced. I internally groaned and rolled my eyes.

Then I remembered I needed some tomato sauce –  what North Americans would call ketchup – for the kid.

dingo.beach“Oh, you don’t want the aioli?”

“No, wait, can you tell me how the aioli is made? Does it contain raw eggs?”

Oh yeah, everything here is made from scratch, but I’ll check.”

Thirty seconds later, the chef appeared.

“We only use commercial mayonnaise for mayo and aioli. Everything else we make from scratch but not this one.”

Why?

Because my brother was one of the 220 that got sick from Salmonella from raw-egg mayo on Melbourne Cup day in Brisbane in 2013. And I’m not putting my business at risk over one decision that is easy to make.

Good on ya.

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx.