California company pulls some stone fruits in response to possible Listeria contamination

Dierbergs Markets is pulling from its stores a number of tree-ripened stone fruits from a California-based packing company.

Dierbergs MarketsWawona Packing Co. has issued a voluntary recall of conventional and organic varieties of yellow peaches and nectarines, white peaches and nectarines, plums and pluots because of possible contamination with listeria.

No illnesses have been reported and Wawona is issuing the recall as a precautionary voluntary measure, according to a statement released Saturday by Dierbergs.

20% of all food items sold found to be substandard in India

Over 20 per cent of food items served in restaurants and fast food outlets across the country have been found to be substandard or adulterated, according to government data.

UnknownOut of 46,283 food samples including milk, milk products, edible vegetable oil and spices tested at various government laboratories during 2013-14, as many as 9,265 samples were found to be adulterated and misbranded.

Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of such cases in 2013-14, with a total of 2,930 vendors being prosecuted and as many as 1,919 of them convicted. A total penalty of more than Rs 4.47 crore was imposed on offenders in the state.

In 2012-13, a total of 2,551 cases were registered and there was conviction in 1,010 cases. Penalty amount of over Rs 3.70 crore was imposed on offenders.

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.

Scientists find a way to block botulism poisoning

Scientists have discovered how bacterial toxins that cause food-borne botulism are absorbed through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. The study offers insight into developing new approaches for blocking this poisonous substance.

baby.logan.botulism.ukBotulism is a rare and often fatal paralytic illness due to a neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which can appear in rotted, uncooked foods and in soil. Listed as a Tier 1 agent by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the botulinum toxin is also a potential biological weapon.

Using a crystal structure of a complex protein compound of botulinum neurotoxin, UCI News reports how researchers have found that these compounds – called clostridial hemagglutinin (HA) – bind with epithelial cell proteins in the intestines of patients, initiating a process that disrupts the close intercellular seals, enabling the complex toxin molecules to slip through the epithelial barrier.

By identifying this novel process by which the toxin compound manages to, in a sense, open the door from inside, scientists can better understand how to seek new methods to prevent these deadly toxins from entering the bloodstream.

In further tests the research group designed a mutated version of the botulism compound, based on the novel crystal structure, in which HA would not bind with the epithelial cell protein E-cadherin. Even though this lab-made toxin compound contains the fully active live toxin molecule, it was not orally toxic when tested on mice because the mutated HA cannot break up the intercellular seals and, therefore, the toxin compound cannot be absorbed through the epithelial layer.

The researchers are hopeful that this could lead to the identification of small molecules able to stop HA from binding with epithelial cell proteins, thus preventing the toxin invasion.

The study has been reported to the journal PLOS Pathogens. The study is titled “Structure of a Bimodular Botulinum Neurotoxin Complex Provides Insights into Its Oral Toxicity.”

Label rules take effect next month for mechanically tenderized beef in Canada

Canadian shoppers will be able to see next month if the beef they’re buying has been mechanically tenderized.

Labelling regulations to take effect Aug. 21 are designed to protect consumers after the largest meat recall in the country’s history two years ago.

needle.tenderize.crHealth Canada says beef that has been mechanically tenderized must have a sticker saying that.

Packaged steaks must also have cooking instructions that the meat must reach an internal temperature of 63 C and must be turned at least twice.

Health Canada says the rules are meant to ensure that tenderized meat is labelled from the processor to the consumer, since it’s hard to tell just by looking at it.

But Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, said the cooking requirements are too complicated for most people and he wants mechanical tenderizing banned outright.

“What average Canadian having a beer and a steak is going to measure the temperature of the meat?” Cran asked.

Cran says irradiation of all meats is the best way to ensure meat is safe.

Health Canada received an application to irradiate ground beef, poultry, shrimp and prawns a decade ago, but a spokesman says the public was worried about the process.

Another application from the industry is under consideration.

Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, supports irradiation but says mechanically tenderized beef is safe as long as it’s cooked properly.

Klassen said the association was involved in the research that supported the new labelling, including the cooking instructions. He says it also tested the labels with a sample of Canadians to make sure they were understandable and practical.

He said the research determined that earlier Health Canada instructions to bring the meat to the same internal temperature as ground beef, 71 C, made the beef tougher. He said 63 C is safe as long as the meat is turned at least twice.

No such thing as no risk, managed risk is better; research clears bulb onions of E. coli risk

Research conducted at Oregon State University’s Malheur County experiment station has shown that E. coli contamination is not a risk in furrow- or drip-irrigated bulb onions.

UnknownThe research began last year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a proposed produce safety rule that would limit the amount of generic E. coli bacteria that can be present in irrigation water.

This year’s trial is much larger and researchers expect it will confirm last year’s findings, which showed bulb onions pose no risk of E. coli contamination, regardless of how they are irrigated and regardless of the water quality.

Researchers even enriched some of the water with extremely high levels of generic E. coli by using runoff water from a pasture. Still, there was no trace of bacteria when the onions were ready for packing.

“By the time we packed them out, the numbers were all zero,” said Clint Shock, director of the Malheur experiment station.

There were traces of E. coli present on the outside of some onion bulbs when they were pulled out of the soil and left on the ground to dry. But after they were cured in the field — all bulb onions in this area go through that process — and ready for packing, no E. coli was present on any of the onions.

“The results of last year showed that the bacteria died off really rapidly after they were lifted, and cured in the field,” Shock said. “And we didn’t have any generic E. coli at all on any of the onions when we packed them out.”

E. coli levels for soils and onions were recorded during growing, harvesting and processing conditions. At no time was E. coli ever detected inside of any of the onions.

Really the best approach? Cinnamon may prevent common types of foodborne illnesses

A common cooking spice may be able to prevent some of the most serious foodborne illnesses caused by pathogenic bacteria, according to a recent study.

beef.stecResearchers from Washington State University found that Cinnamomum cassia oil can work effectively as a natural antibacterial agent in the food industry. The findings add to a body of knowledge that “will help improve food safety and reduce or eliminate cases of food poisoning and related deaths,” the investigators noted.

Rising health concerns about chemical additives have strengthened demand for natural food additives, co-author Meijun Zhu, an assistant professor in the School of Food Science, said. Cassia cinnamon is produced primarily in Indonesia and has a stronger smell than the other common cinnamon variety, Ceylon.

“Our focus is on exploring plant-derived natural food bioactive compounds as antimicrobials to control foodborne pathogens, in order to ensure safety of fresh produce,” Zhu said.

During the study, the oil killed several strains of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, known to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “non-O157 STEC.” The study looked at the top six strains of non-O157 STEC, according to co-author Lina Sheng, a graduate student in the School of Food Science.

The findings were recently published in the online journal Food Control.

Pair deny hospital Listeria charges in NZ

A Napier food company director and factory manager have pleaded not guilty to charges relating to a deadly outbreak of listeriosis in 2012.

listeriaLast year, Bay Cuisine was charged with 153 charges under the Food Act, while director Garth Wise faced four indictments, and factory manager Christopher Mackie six. On Thursday, Wise and Mackie’s defence counsel entered not-guilty pleas to all the charges at Napier District Court, after two elderly patients died at Hawke’s Bay Hospital from eating meat contaminated with listeria in June and July 2012.

The three defendants will face a judge-alone trial at Hastings District Court in about 12 months’ time.

Queensland Health says rating schemes a matter for local governments; top franchises and well-known restaurants among Brisbane eateries slapped with fines for dodgy hygiene and health practices

Sometimes I wonder what Queensland Health does, other than publish error-filled food safety information.

eat.safe.brisbaneNo follow-up on the 50 people that got sick from shiga-toxin producing E. coli at the state fair last year, no follow-up on the 240 who got sick from Salmonella linked to raw-egg mayo last year, and just no follow up at all.

According to The Courier-Mail, cockroaches in the kitchen, rat droppings in the deep fryer and Salmonella are just a few of the nasties that Brisbane’s food safety inspectors are finding on the menu at some of the city’s most popular restaurants.

Top franchises and well-known restaurants were among the eateries slapped with a whopping total of $600,000 in fines for dodgy hygiene and health practices during the 2013-14 financial year.

The revelations follow the DM jazz cafe being fined $25,000 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this week after a customer found a live cockroach in the chicken and mushroom risotto.

Food safety inspectors slapped more than 30 restaurants and cafes with fines as part of the city council’s EatSafe program in a bid to clean up the industry.

The Beach House was fined $30,000 in December after rat droppings were found in the deep fryer, as well as accumulated grease on the floor and wall surfaces in the kitchen.

The Gap Tavern, owned by the ALH Group, was fined $28,000 for cleanliness issues including having live cockroaches in November 2013.

ALH Group spokesman said the organisation took food safety very seriously and had already taken steps to address the issues raised by the council.

“We have a robust ongoing audit process,” he said.

Major cities and tourist destinations throughout the state are hiding details about restaurants prosecuted for repeated dodgy hygiene practices, which could include insects crawling through the kitchen and food contamination.

There is now pressure on them to follow Brisbane City’s Council’s lead by naming and shaming eateries that flunk inspections and introducing a star rating system for food safety.

Diners on the Gold Coast and in Cairns could be eating at restaurants repeatedly fined for breaching health standards but wouldn’t know because their councils refuse to reveal who they are.

Queensland Health Health Protection Unit boss Sophie Dwyer said food safety rating schemes were a matter for local governments.

Uh-huh.

Norovirus outbreak at Commonwealth Games linked to restrooms that were ‘not as they should be’

The staff restrooms at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have a norovirus problem. According to scotsman.com, almost 50 games staff members have now come down with gastrointestinal illness and a makeshift restroom is being fingered as the source.

First Minister Alex Salmond said officials were “confident” they had identified the probable cause of the outbreak, which sparked a health scare just days before Glasgow 2014 gets 
underway.job_site_restrooms

No athletes or team officials have been affected by the suspected norovirus outbreak and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the toilet block had been closed to prevent the bug – which leads to sickness and diarrhoea – spreading further.

Speaking after the final meeting of the Glasgow 2014 strategic group yesterday, Mr Salmond said: “We’re confident we’ve identified the cause of the outbreak, a temporary facility which was not as it should be.”

‘Should be’ translates to soap, running water, paper towels and some sort of cleaning and sanitation program.