More hepatitis A: smoothie edition

Berries are a staple of my diet; I go through about 2 lbs a week of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. When the fresh berries are too expensive (or don’t look good) I substitute with frozen ones.

Frozen food is sometimes ready-to-eat. Sometimes not. Frozen berries likely haven’t been heat treated before the get to me and were almost certainly harvested by hand.

So I cook them before eating after the multiple noro and hep A outbreaks in the past few years. Even ones that go into smoothies.

According CBS6, hepatitis A cases linked to Egyptian strawberries served at Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Virginia have climbed to over 20.

There have been 23 confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Cafes across Virginia.

This includes four cases in Central Virginia.

There are seven is Northern Virginia, four in Northwest Virginia, and eight in the eastern region on the state.

The CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café said the strawberries in question were voluntarily removed from all stores when they learned of a possible link.

The VDH said they want anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant within the last 50 days to watch out for symptoms of hepatitis A.

Hawaii Hepatitis A seen and heard: secondary infection potential edition

If I ran a kitchen, hepatitis A would scare me the most. I could have hired a superstar employee, the world’s best handwasher, and still end up with lines outside my operation as folks get post-exposure shots.

I’d try to figure out a way to get everyone who worked for me vaccinated. And according to Murphy et al at CDC, vaccines really matter. Following an increase in vaccination recommendations and offerings in the U.S. rates of the illness declined ‘96.6% from 1996 to 2011 (from 11.7 to 0.4 cases per 100,000 population), and the number of reported cases decreased from 31,032 to 1,398, respectively.’original

In the ongoing saga of hep A in Hawaii, where over 206 are ill following the consumption of contaminated raw scallops, the potential for secondary cases is emerging as food handlers in different settings are part of the case group. According to KRON4, a food handler in a school cafeteria has the virus.

The Hawaii Department of Health is investigating a case of hepatitis A involving a school cafeteria worker.

The patient worked at Kipapa Elementary School in Mililani and was in the cafeteria kitchen between Aug. 3-16.

The Department of Education says it’s complying with the investigation and the school will be preparing its meals off-site for the time being.

The principal sent home a letter to notify parents.

DOH officials say all students should have received a hepatitis A vaccine as part of routinely recommended childhood vaccinations.

Children who have not been previously vaccinated — a few dozen students — should be seen by their pediatrician.

Also on the list of secondary infection sources is a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant who, according to the Hawaii Tribune Herald, is also part of the outbreak cluster.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday afternoon issued a precaution to passengers who were on the following Hawaiian Airlines flights:

• July 31 — Flight HA22 from Honolulu to Seattle.

• Aug. 1 — Flight HA21 from Seattle to Honolulu.

• Aug. 10 — Flight HA18 from Honolulu to Las Vegas.

• Aug. 12 — Flight HA17 from Las Vegas to Honolulu.

The flight attendant served in-flight food and beverages during each of the flights.

The DOH noted in a press release that risk of transmission from the Hawaiian Airlines flights is “extremely low.”

Letterkenny, not that one, hosts food safety workshop

In the never-ending quest for excellent television, earlier this year I found Letterkenny, a six-episode show about a fictional Southern Ontario town with hockey players, hicks and skids.

It sort of reminds me of growing up in Port Hope.

The other Letterkenny, in County Donegal, Ireland, is hosting a workshop for food businesses to avoid recalls (and making customers sick).

The half-day workshop will feature experts from food safety, allergy and food hygiene and will provide practical advice on good food safety practices to help food businesses avoid a product recall.

Dr Gary Kearney, Director of Food Science, safefood, commented “Promoting food safety requires a multi-disciplinary approach backed by consumer research, professional partnerships, knowledge networks and information exchange. This half-day workshop is all about sharing experience and knowledge to help food businesses meet new challenges as they arise and maintain consumers’ confidence in the food they eat. I would encourage all interested food business owners to attend as we’ll have plenty of practical advice for them on topics ranging from the economic implications of a product recall to controlling bacterial contamination and how to manage food allergens.”

That’s a lot of stuff to pack into three hours.

Food Safety Talk 107: Univalve Mallets

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.1472063437005

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Episode 107 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show note links to follow along at home:

Campy overestimates: FSA accused of undermining meat industry

Alex Black of FG Insight reports the UK Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has claimed the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ’appears to continue to undermine the meat processing sector’ with misleading campylobacter figures.

AIMS_LOGO_2008_002An article in The Meat Trades Journal quoted figures published on the Food Standards Agency website stated campylobacter was believed to cause 100 deaths a year.

However, AIMS pointed out the figure was an extract from a FSA funded paper which said ’We could not estimate deaths attributable to foodborne illness, due to the lack of reliable data sources on pathogen-specific mortality rates’.

AIMS head of policy, Norman Bagley, said: “Selectively quoting from its own commissioned report on its own website has once again undermined the excellent work and progress the industry has made on combating campylobacter.

“Stating that campylobacter causes 100 deaths a year is just not based on science and leads to continuing scary, misleading stories being carried in both the trade and consumer media, which once again, undermines our sector.

“This is far from helpful and needs to stop.”

A FSA spokesman said: “We explain on our website that the campylobacter deaths figure is a previous estimate, and that we are continuing to analyse the full impact that campylobacter has.

“We are determining which updated figures to use in the future.”

How Toxoplasma in humans turns aggressive

USDA’s AgResearch Magazine reports that Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that has infected an estimated one-fourth of the world’s population—potentially more than 1 billion people—including about 50 million in the United States. This makes T. gondii the most widespread parasite in the world. This one-celled parasite, invisible to the naked eye, causes a human disease called “toxoplasmosis.” It can lead to serious health complications in people with weakened immune systems and in infants born to infected mothers. Prevention is key.

toxo.usdaarsT. gondiiinfection can happen in two ways. Cats are the only animals that shed the parasite’s egg-like sacks (cysts) in their feces—thus exposing humans and other animals to infection via contaminated soil, water, food, or litterboxes. Infection can also take place when people consume undercooked meat containing T. gondii. 

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and colleagues completed a study that provides clues about T. gondii’s virulence and spread. The study describes genetic mechanisms that help a mild-mannered T. gondii strain turn aggressive.

For the study, a consortium of international researchers, including zoologist Benjamin Rosenthal and parasitologist Jitender Dubey, both with the ARS Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, contributed strains of T. gondii from more than a dozen countries spanning the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The researchers conducted a genomic analysis on each of 62 strains and identified several types of proteins, called “secretory pathogenicity determinants” (SPDs) that thwart the hosts’ immunity.

Secreting SPDs enables the parasite to influence and hinder host defenses. “These proteins enhance the parasite’s survival, which in turn affects disease severity in hosts,” says Rosenthal. “SPDs have diversified more in T. gondiithan in species closely related to T. gondii, so we are very curious to learn more about the functions they perform and their relationship to disease.”

The findings are helping researchers to identify the genetic basis for differences among strains of T. gondii, from mild strains found in U.S. farmlands to more virulent strains found in the jungles of Brazil and French Guyana. The researchers found that T. gondii strains could become more aggressive through environmental adaptation.

In healthy people, infection does not necessarily mean a person will become sick or develop symptoms. The study results provide valuable information about a subset of regulatory genes that enable the parasite to infect animals and humans. The findings will help researchers develop new treatments and methods to check the parasite’s ability to spread.

 

52 college students in Malaysia fall ill after cafeteria meal

A total of 52 students from the Gopeng Matriculation College suffered food poisoning after eating chicken at the cafeteria.

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia

Perak Health Department director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said some of the students started showing symptoms of vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, fever and abdominal pain early on Sunday.

“The students sought outpatient treatment at Kampar Hospital and nearby government and private clinics.

“All are in stable condition and under close observation,” she said here yesterday.

Dr Juita said stool samples, oral swabs of the food handlers and samples of the food had been taken and sent for analysis to find out the cause of any possible contamination.

She said the cafeteria was ordered closed with immediate effect, pending the results of the tests.

The cafeteria operator, who had only just taken over the contract to supply food, has been slapped with a RM1,000 fine under Regulation 34 of the Food Act.

On Wednesday, some 53 students at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar went down with food poisoning after having meals at the dining hall.

1300 sickened in 17 outbreaks: Korea has a school lunch Salmonella problem

More than 500 students at five middle and high schools in northern Seoul came down with salmonella poisoning last week, as did more than 200 students at schools in North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu and Busan.

korea.school.lunchIn total, 17 cases of mass salmonella poisoning had been reported across the nation as of Tuesday, with 1,284 people infected. That was a 34-percent increase compared to last summer and up 52 percent compared to the 2011-2015 average.

An editorial in The Korea Herald says the government’s 5.6 trillion-won ($5 billion) free school meals scheme has been found to be supplying improper lunches to many of the nation’s 6.14 million students.

A government task force inspected between April and July some 2,400 food suppliers and lunch operators and visited 274 of the nation’s 11,700 elementary, middle and high schools that provide students with hot lunches.

The team’s findings, released Tuesday, were disappointing and shocking. It has uncovered a total of 677 violations of the relevant law on the production, sale and consumption of foodstuffs used in school meals.

The findings suggest disregard for food safety and quality is rampant. The number of violations would have been much larger if the task force had visited more schools and inspected more companies.

In one case, a company in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province, washed moldy potatoes with hygienically inappropriate underground water and shuffled them with eco-friendly ones to supply them as organic products.

In another case, a company was found to have used frozen beef that had passed its expiration date by as many as 156 days.  

The investigation also laid bare corrupt practices between schools and food firms. Many schools were found to have awarded contracts to food suppliers in an opaque manner.

Four large food companies – Dongwon, Daesang, CJ Freshway and Pulmuone – are suspected of having provided kickbacks to nutritionists at 3,000 schools to win foodstuff supply contracts.

Many schools were found to lack the ability to inspect the quality of the ingredients provided by suppliers. And at many schools, monitoring of kitchen sanitation was lax.

In light of these and other problems, it would be strange if food poisoning did not occur at schools.

To enhance the quality and safety of school meals, stern punishments should be meted out to those who violate the relevant regulations.

It would be also necessary to encourage parents to keep tabs on school kitchen sanitation. Kitchen managers need to train food service workers to ensure that their kitchens are maintained safely and free from germs and bacteria.

 

NZ dad isn’t fazed at all by the outrage at his daughter’s first deer kill

John Edens of Stuff reports a proud father says he isn’t worried by critics upset at photographs of his eight-year-old daughter taking a bite out of a deer’s heart after her first successful hunt.

kid.deer.heart.2Johnny Yuile and his daughter went hunting on a friend’s bush block the Hawke’s Bay, earlier this month.

Yuile – a New Zealand police constable – said he has been hunting with his daughter since she was a toddler and when she was little he’d strap her to a front-pack during bush missions.

His daughter, using her dad’s Remington 7mm-08 rifle, shot a young stag from 40 metres.

He sent a couple of photographs online to a Facebook page, showing a smiling father and daughter beside the stag and his daughter taking a bite from the deer’s heart. For many people, tasting a freshly killed animal, whether it’s by taking a bite or drinking blood, is part of hunting.

Yuile said he hunts for meat for his family.

“She made tricky downhill shot using my shoulder as a leaning rest and shot with dads 7 mm-08 at about 40m. Then she took a bite from its warm quivering heart,” a Facebook post said.

The Facebook page quickly attracted “haters” who criticised Yuile for taking his daughter hunting at such a young age, branded the hunt “sadistic” and wrongly accused the pair of killing an animal for sport.

Yuile said the pair were hunting at a friend’s place.

Toilet anxiety: Panic about pooping in public

Debbie Schipp of news.om.au reports that a condition which makes people too petrified to poo in public means some Australians avoid going out because they fear not only using public toilets, but are also scared they won’t make it in time.

toilet.anxietyAt its most extreme, toilet anxiety, shy bladder and shy bowel syndromes can be so crippling that sufferers stay home rather than risk peeing or pooing in public toilets.

And the fear people might hear you doing a number two is worse than that of doing a number one (pee) researchers from Swineburne University found when they developed a scale aimed at assessing the anxiety people commonly experience when needing to use a public rest room.

Dr Simon Knowles is one of the study’s authors, and a clinical psychologist who specialises in gastrointestinal conditions and working with people with severe anxiety about using public toilets. His said both Paruresis (anxiety associated with urinating in public: shy bladder) and Parcopresis (anxiety related to having a bowel motion: shy bowel) can be so extreme people can struggle to socialise, study or even hold down a job because they only feel comfortable using their own toilet.

The study involving 334 adults reveals that shy bladder and shy bowel symptoms were both associated with increased stress, anxiety and depression.

“Those who experience toilet anxiety frequently worry about using a public toilet due to fears that others may hear or see them,” Dr Knowles said.

“Although the prevalence of toilet anxiety is not clear, it is suggested to be around six per cent to 35 per cent of the population may be affected to some degree.”

Dr Knowles developed his scale of toilet anxiety measure in an effort to better understand the causes of the condition, and tested it on the 300-plus people involved in the study.

Basically, the ‘how scared are you to poo scale’ will help experts to better judge whether general self consciousness has spiralled into full blown social anxiety. If it’s the latter, Dr Knowles says, you’re far from alone, and it’s treatable.

The results of the research were recently printed in the Journal of Cognitive Behaviour and more information and the survey are available at toiletanxiety.org