Visiting College Station for the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety Annual Meeting

Gary Acuff, Director, Texas A&M Center for Food Safety, is one of the coolest dudes to hang out with at meetings. He’s got great insights about food safety, productivity, Apple products and family stuff and is an all around fun guy. I’m heading out to College Station on August 12 to hang out with Gary for a day and give a talk.

Details are below:
Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 6.54.36 PM

Join us for the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety 2014 Annual Meeting on Tuesday, August 12 at 11:00 AM at our Earl Rudder Freeway lab.

The annual meeting will begin with a special seminar presented by Dr. Ben Chapman entitled: “Food safety communication around beef isn’t well done (no pun intended),” followed directly by the Annual Meeting. Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP to if you plan to attend so we can get a headcount for lunch.

If you would like to invite a guest who might be interested in joining the Center, just let us know and we will add them to the headcount.

Download the flyer here.

Raw milk in UK? FSA Board wants more evidence

The UK Food Standards Agency board has asked for the FSA to maintain the current regulations controlling the sale of raw milk, while further evidence is gathered to allow board members to make a final decision on whether to revise the rules.

colbert.raw.milkFollowing a review of the current raw milk regulations, the FSA had proposed exploring the scope for wider access to raw milk, including limited sales from vending machines in shops.

The proposals were discussed today by the Board. They concluded that additional evidence was required on risks from specific pathogens. More detail was also requested on the proposed testing regime that would be necessary to allow extended sales while maintaining consumer protection. The Board said a final decision should not be made until the European Food Safety Authority has delivered the findings of its own review of the risks from raw milk which is expected in December 2014.

The FSA will now consider the conclusions in more detail and agree a timeframe for delivering the additional work the Board has requested.

At least 22 sickened in E. coli outbreak on Minnesota Reservation

At least 22 people on the Fond du Lac Reservation experienced foodborne illness linked with E. coli bacteria, a spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday.

waterlakestream1The news was first posted on the band’s website Tuesday, when it indicated there were several cases. The band is cooperating with the state health department’s investigation, which has yet to pinpoint a cause of the contamination.

The strain is believed to be E. coli O157, commonly associated with ground beef, said the spokesperson. The strain that prompted Applebee’s restaurants to adjust its Minnesota menus earlier this month was E. coli O111, the spokesperson said as a way of comparison. The restaurant chain voluntarily changed a supplier as well as removed its Oriental Chicken Salad and other nuts and leafy vegetables from its Minnesota menus in that instance.

Health department spokesman Doug Schultz said the 15 people reported ill in that case was “probably the tip of the iceberg.”

Schultz explained that Minnesota is a “real-time investigation” state, placing it at the forefront of reactions to foodborne illness. The goal of a real-time investigation is to arrest the spread of illness by pulling potentially contaminated fare, rather than other states, which conduct follow-up investigations.

Junk science: Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to faithfully ensure his meals aren’t poisoned

As a genetics student in the early 1980s, we were taught about the silliness of Trorfim Lysenko, who set back Russian agricultural production by hundreds of years.

food.tasterToday’s current Russian leader, Vladamir Putin, wants to go further back to the dark ages, and apparently has a professional food taster on his full-time staff.

Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, but didn’t take any chances that some assassin might toxify his favourite dish of asparagus, peppers and cauliflower. A woman called Margot Woelk was brought a plate of food to test, at noon every morning of his last two years alive. If she didn’t fall ill, the food was packed up in cartons and delivered to his military HQ.

Food tasters have been used for thousands of years to sorta protect those in power from the many poisons out there. Doesn’t work so well with microorganisms like Listeria that may take six weeks to incubate, but other procedures have been developed.

There’s recurrent stories of U.S. Presidential food tasters, that are always denied, but the Food and Drug Administration does takes an active role in food prep for the President.

There are plenty of bacteria that would take days to develop into symptoms.

Nice science, Vlad.

At least 10 confirmed with staph at horseriding event in Luxembourg: it was the pesto pasta salad

A pesto pasta salad has been officially blamed for a food poisoning outbreak at a horseriding event in Roeser.

road.apples .tragicallyhipThe conclusion was drawn by Luxembourg’s Health Ministry following an investigation into the food-borne infection, which spread among people who ate from the buffet of a VIP area at the event from June 12 to 13.

Analysis of the stools of 10 people admitted to emergency services were found to contain Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

Food hygiene inspections of the caterers who prepared the buffet showed minor deficiencies in procedures for producing and storing food at the event.

Initially, the smoked salmon was blamed for the food poisoning outbreak. But, the investigation found that among those who fell ill, 82 percent reported having eaten the pesto pasta salad.

At the time of the investigation, no sample of the actual food served was available for testing, however.

33 sickened: tuna linked to E. coli O157:H45 in South Korea

Background: In May 2013, an outbreak of gastroenteritis occurred in a high school in Incheon, South Korea. We investigated the outbreak in order to identify the pathogen and mode of transmission.

kimchi_tuna_bibimbap_00-Materials and Methods: A case–control study was performed using standardized questionnaires with a case definition of illness with diarrhea. Stool samples, environmental samples, and samples from preserved food items were collected to test pathogens. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was performed on the outbreak-related Escherichia coli strains.

Results: Thirty-three people (attack rate: 2.5%) met the case definition, and the pattern of the epidemic curve suggested a point-source outbreak. The common symptoms of cases were diarrhea (100.0%), abdominal pain (75.8%), chills (45.5%), and nausea (39.4%). Cases were found to be 8.26 times more likely to have eaten spicy fish soup with cod (95% confidence interval: 1.05–65.01). Consumption of egg soup with spring onions or braised eggs with razor clam flesh was significantly associated with illness. Atypical enteropathogenic E. coli O157:H45 was isolated from samples of 9 cases (27.3%) and tuna bibimbap. PFGE patterns of all tested isolates of O157 serotype were indistinguishable.

Conclusions: This outbreak was caused by atypical enteropathogenic E. coli O157:H45 and the food vehicle was suspected to be tuna bibimbap. The statistical analysis was not in concordance with the microbiologic tests, probably owing to low pathogenicity of atypical enteropathogenic E. coli O157. This is the first report of an outbreak caused by atypical enteropathogenic E. coli O157.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

Ji-Hyuk Park, Sung-Suk Oh, Kyung-Hwan Oh, Jaeseung Shin, Eun Jung Jang, Byung-Yool Jun, Seung-Ki Youn, and Seung-Hak Cho

Earth Circle Organics recalls organic carob powder for possible Salmonella contamination

Maybe we all experiment in university. For me, it was vegetarianism for six months. And I started baking with carob.

carob.powderIt tasted like dust.

Earth Circle Organics, (River Canyon Retreat, Inc.) has been notified by its supplier of a recall of Organic Carob Powder due to possible health risks related to Salmonella contamination.

Products were sold to distributors and retail outlets in North America.

Product SKU // Lot # // UPC Code // Exp Date

CRBP16ow // 3642; 3404; 3221; 3267  // 894932002283 // 6/5/2015 

CRBP5lb // 3405; 3262 // 894932002733 // 6/5/2015

CBP20lb // 3487; 3387; 3292 // 813313011485 // 6/5/2015

CRBP55lb //  201901; 196201; 194801; 188901; 0786 // 894932002740 // 6/5/2015

No other Earth Circle Organics products are affected by this recall and no illnesses have been reported to date. This recall is initiated as a precautionary measure due to a possibility of contamination as notified by our suppliers.

UK council warns there’s no hiding for food outlets flouting the law

Food outlets found to be flouting the law will face the full weight of legal powers Bradford Council has warned.

bradford.councilThe message comes as a new report revealed the local authority’s Food Safety Team prosecuted 18 food outlets and issued a further 75 warning notices in 12 months.

In the last financial year, four premises chose to close voluntarily, one was given an emergency prohibition order and on one occasion officers were forced to seize unsafe food.

The environmental health team in Bradford dealt with 831 reports of contagious disease during the year, including 673 cases of food poisoning – 96 of which were caused by salmonella bacteria, 107 cases of gastroenteritis and 35 cases of dysentery.

In one study, conducted with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to test the quality of imported fresh herbs, a sample of mint failed a test for E. coli as it was contained an organism associated with fecal matter.

“The Council works hard to ensure that members of the public are not put at risk when eating out, and that food businesses in the district operate with the highest standards of hygiene.

“We provide lots of advice and guidance for food businesses and work with them to help them achieve and maintain the required standards.

“However if businesses fail in their responsibility then we will not hesitate to use the law to protect the public,” a Council spokesman.

Veterinarian and pork producers president-elect arrested for trying to take gun in to DC meetings

Capitol Police confiscated a 9mm Ruger handgun from the bag of Camden, S.C., resident Ronald William Prestage shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the Cannon House Office Building. Prestage, 59, was arrested and cannongun-01charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a District of Columbia offense that carries up to five years in prison.

Records indicate he has a concealed carry permit in South Carolina. Prestage is a veterinarian and farm operator, and is president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. He may have been on the Hill to lobby on agriculture issues.