Salmonella in seafood in Kochi

A survey carried out by a team of scientists of the Microbiology, Fermentation and Biotechnology Division of Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) Kochi, found Salmonella in 29 per cent of seafood samples.

seafood-kochiDuring the screening process, the researchers collected as many as 150 fresh seafood samples including popular varieties like sardine, mackerel, prawns and crabs from the markets in and around Kochi.

The study was conducted by a team of scientists including S.S. Greeshma, M.M. Prasad, K.V. Lalitha, Toms C. Joseph, and V. Murugadas.

The presence of salmonella in seafood indicates contamination with human and animal excreta. Fishes and shellfish normally do not harbour micro-organisms like salmonella but can get contaminated with through the use of contaminated ice, water, containers and poor hygienic handling practices, explained Dr. Greeshma.

Samples were collected over a period of nine months. Once salmonella reaches soil and aquatic environments, it can survive there for long periods.

While cooking kills the micro-organism, there exists the risk of cross-contamination with other food items that are consumed raw when handled along with seafood contaminated with salmonella.

Humans who come into direct contact with salmonella-contaminated seafoods face health risk, she explained.

The study underscores the need to hygienic handling of fish in the markets, said C.N. Ravishankar, Director of the Institute in a communication.

The researchers are planning a source study to identify the routes and points of possible contamination of the fish.

Molecular subtyping of foodborne pathogens

Introduction: Molecular subtyping of pathogens is critical for foodborne disease outbreak detection and investigation. Many clusters initially identified by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) are not confirmed as point-source outbreaks. We evaluated characteristics of clusters that can help prioritize investigations to maximize effective use of limited resources.subtype

Materials and Methods: A multiagency collaboration (FoodNet) collected data on Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157 clusters for 3 years. Cluster size, timing, extent, and nature of epidemiologic investigations were analyzed to determine associations with whether the cluster was identified as a confirmed outbreak.

Results: During the 3-year study period, 948 PFGE clusters were identified; 849 (90%) were Salmonella and 99 (10%) were E. coli O157. Of those, 192 (20%) were ultimately identified as outbreaks (154 [18%] of Salmonella and 38 [38%] of E. coli O157 clusters). Successful investigation was significantly associated with larger cluster size, more rapid submission of isolates (e.g., for Salmonella, 6 days for outbreaks vs. 8 days for nonoutbreaks) and PFGE result reporting to investigators (16 days vs. 29 days, respectively), and performance of analytic studies (completed in 33% of Salmonella outbreaks vs. 1% of nonoutbreaks) and environmental investigations (40% and 1%, respectively). Intervals between first and second cases in a cluster did not differ significantly between outbreaks and nonoutbreaks.

Conclusions: Molecular subtyping of pathogens is a rapidly advancing technology, and successfully identifying outbreaks will vary by pathogen and methods used. Understanding criteria for successfully investigating outbreaks is critical for efficiently using limited resources.

Characteristics of clusters of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157 detected by pulsed-field electrophoresis that predict identification of outbreaks

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. September 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2171.

The research has been published where? Forget thawing food in fridge, use water instead

In what could be yet another case of PR before publication, Science Nordic has issued a press release extolling the virtues of thawing meat in cold water rather than in the fridge. The PR does not address issues of cross-contamination, how a consumer would determine if the meat was actually thawed, and most important, fails to cite a peer-reviewed publication, other than saying, “based on the institute’s own experiments with freezing and thawing different kinds of foods.”

meat-thaw-waterIf it has been published, it’s standard to include a link to that research, otherwise, it’s a fluff piece.

But you decide.

Most people know that food should be frozen as quickly as possible, to retain quality and flavour. The same turns out to be true when it comes to thawing frozen food, too —quicker is better.

So says Susanne Ekstedt, a researcher at the Food and Bioscience unit of SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in Gothenburg.

“This is something food scientists have known to be true for a long time now. But this knowledge is mostly confined to the food industry. Most people don’t seem to be aware of this,” Ekstedt said.

What often happens instead is that people thaw their meats slowly in the refrigerator. While keeping meat cold while thawing is important to limit bacterial growth, it’s possible to thaw food quickly in water. 

Ekstedt’s recommendation is based on the institute’s own experiments with freezing and thawing different kinds of foods. Their conclusion: The best way to thaw frozen meat or fish is to put it in cold water. You have to wrap the food in plastic, of course, to keep the water out of the food, but water will thaw food quickly and effectively.

The reason for this is simple: Water conducts heat better than air. And the faster food is thawed, the better it tastes.

One reason that freezing and thawing foods quickly preserves their quality has to do with ice crystal formation.

When anything, be it snow or food, stays slightly below the freezing point for a long time, it creates the perfect environment for large ice crystals to grow.

In food, the formation of these large ice crystals during freezing can do a great deal of damage to cells, reducing the food’s ability to hold in fluids after it is thawed.

muppets-chef-2The result? Dry meat and flaccid vegetables.

Clarence Birdseye, who is credited with being the founder of the modern frozen food industry in the United States, is said to have discovered this principle himself when he worked in Labrador and was taught by the native Inuits how to ice fish.

He discovered that fish he caught at -40 degrees C froze quickly and tasted quite fresh when thawed.  He went on to invent a series of techniques that allowed foods to be frozen quickly, preventing the formation of large ice crystals.

To this day, the food industry is well aware of the problems posed by ice crystal formation. In fact, it’s not uncommon to buy frozen vegetables with labels that advise consumers to thaw vegetables quickly.

Bjørg Egelandsdal is a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås whose specialty is meat.

“There has never been any good scientific evidence behind the advice that food should be thawed in the refrigerator,” she says.

“Maybe the idea behind this advice is that refrigerator thawing is most hygienic. It is true that meat and other foodstuffs should be stored in the refrigerator if they are thawed, but it is definitely better to thaw food quickly in water if you are going to use it right away,” she said. 

Another potentially quick way to defrost food, the microwave, can be hard on meat, says Per Einar Granum, a microbiologist also at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

He says if you are going to use the meat in a casserole or stew, thawing it in a microwave can be acceptable, because the meat will later become tender as it cooks.

But if you plan to grill your meat, forget the microwave. Even if you use the “thaw” program, it is “a little too brutal for the meat,” he says.

Seek and ye shall find: Beef products recalled due to possible E. coli O103 contamination

Caviness Beef Packers, a Hereford, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 2,100 pounds of boneless beef trim products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.  

caviness-beef-packerssThe 2,100-lb. Combo Bin of “boneless beef trim 84L” products were produced on September 14, 2016 and further processed into ground beef products by another establishment. The recalling establishment has control of all but 320 pounds of ground beef products.

10 lb. chub – 73% Regular Ground Beef products with a “Use By” or “Freeze By” date of October 10, 2016 and bear UPC number 52846-48935. 

2-3 lb. tray pack of – 73% Regular Ground Beef products with a “Sell By” date of September 28, 2016 and bear UPC number 2-01656-00000.

1.5 lb. tray pack of – 73% Regular Ground Beef products with a “Sell By” date of September 28, 2016 and bear UPC number 2-01654-00000.

The products subject to this recall were further processed by a firm other than Caviness Beef Packers, “EST. 675” and may not bear the establishment number “EST. 675”, on products available for direct consumer purchase. These products were shipped to retail locations in Texas.

The problem was discovered when FSIS was notified of a USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) sample that tested positive for E. coli O103. Because the company works with the AMS Commodity Program, AMS did routine microbiological testing. This shipment of beef was never intended for the National School Lunch Program (NLSP) and no sales were made to the NLSP. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), such as STEC O103 because it is harder to identify than STEC O157. People can become ill from STECs 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after consuming the organism. Most people infected with STEC O103 develop diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample. Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment; antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.

Norovirus strikes hundreds at obstacle race in France

In June 2015, near Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes department, an acute gastroenteritis (AG) outbreak occurred among participants of an obstacle race. An investigation in 2 phases was conducted to identify the source of infection and document the extent of the outbreak.

tough_mudder_16-340x227During phase 1, a message on Facebook asked the racers to report by email any symptoms. In phase 2, a retrospective study was conducted through an interactive questionnaire for all participants. Cross-sectional descriptive studies were conducted, completed by an analytical study of the potential risks factors. Microbiological and environmental investigations were conducted in order to identify the responsible agent. An analysis of antidiarrhoeal drugs reimbursements was conducted with data from the French national health insurance to confirm the epidemiological investigation.

During phase 1, on 8229 registered participants, at least 1001 adults reported an AG, which was resolved in 48H.

In phase 2, the risks factors of AG identified were due to: younger participants, first hour of departure time and ingestion of mud. Twenty stool specimens traced were negative for bacteriological research. Only 4 stool specimens were sent to the CNR of enteric viruses. They were all positive for Norovirus genogroup1 and genotype 2 (GI.2), strain of human origin.

Indicator bacteria were negative in the drinking water and positive in the muddy water. Outbreak origin was due to human transmission: a norovirus possibly introduced by stools or vomiting from one or more persons infected, transmitted through contaminated muddy water.

For the future, recommendations for the organisation of such events should be proposed. The risks related to these races should be assessed to guide health authorities and to guide organizers in their awareness of potential risks factors.

Investigation of an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis among participants of an Obstacle Adventure Race Alpes-Maritimes

S Giron, C Six

15 sickened with E. coli O157 in 2015: UK butchers prosecuted over alleged food hygiene offences

In June and July, 2015, 15 people were sickened with E. coli O157 from Robinsons Butchers and Caterers in Billingham, UK.

e-coli-tia-donaldsonIn May 2016, Durham County Council decided it would take no action against the butcher even though cross-contamination was the likely cause.

Yesterday, Stockton Council decided to prosecute Robinsons.

David Huntley of Gazette Live reports Janet Bell and Trevor Robinson, of Robinsons Butchers, are due to appear at Teesside Magistrates’ Court today charged with food safety and hygiene breaches.

A previous report by Public Health England’s outbreak control team stated the likely cause of the outbreak was cross-contamination from raw meat to ready–to-eat food at Robinsons’ Billingham branch and “to a lesser degree” at the Wingate branch.

The authority has now mounted a prosecution against Robinson, 53, and Bell, 55.

Bell and Robinson are accused of breaching food hygiene rules at the Billingham shop by selling cooked ham, pork, beef and ham and egg quiche that was “unfit for human consumption” due to contamination by “pathogenic microorganisms.”

The offences are alleged to have taken place between July 2 and 20 last year.

robinsons-butcherOf the 15 people affected in the E. coli outbreak, 10 needed hospital treatment of which seven went on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition affecting the kidneys.

All have since recovered.

One victim was Tia Donaldson who suffered kidney failure aged 11.

The youngster’s mum Rachael Donaldson, a volunteer from Billingham, told The Gazette in August last year that Tia was left in a critical condition after a series of strokes stemming from the poisoning.

Rachael said: “She’s had bleeds to her brain. On one occasion she couldn’t feel her left side.

“I was sat right next to her and she kept saying ‘please get my mum, you’re not my mum’.

“She was begging for me to be there.”

Vegas Dirty Dining: Cantina Cancun repeat offender edition

Darcy Spears of Action 13 News reports the latest Dirty Dining headliner is a repeat offender. It’s been three years since their first appearance, but records show they’re still dirty.

dirty_dining__expired_food__roaches_at_r_0_45893867_ver1-0_640_480The last time we were at this location for Dirty Dining, one of the owners shoved a newspaper into the camera lens, pushed the photographer out and locked Spears in.

That was March 2013.

That’s when the new owners first took over the restaurant on Maryland Parkway between Reno and Tropicana avenues.

It was called Ahogadas Cancun. It’s now called Cantina Cancun.

This time, things were much more quiet.

Turns out Cantina Cancun is closed on Tuesdays. That’s their choice, but on Aug. 26, they were forced to shut down after health inspectors gave them 42 demerits.

Forty-two is enough to shut a place down on demerits alone. But Cantina Cancun added the imminent health hazard of no hot water.

They also had live roaches.

When we contacted, the person who answered disconnected and it went to voicemail when we called back. We spoke to someone again later and left more messages, but never got any answers.

Health inspectors found expired food, including multiple seafood items, cheese and beans that should have been tossed more than a week before the inspection. But it was all still sitting in the fridge.

There was also lots of food that had to be thrown out because of unsafe temperatures, utensils that hadn’t been washed since the day before, and the stove had excessive build-up. The person in charge couldn’t tell the inspector the last time it was cleaned.

Of the four imminent health hazard closures, the grossest pictures came from the food truck that serves as the pool snack bar at the Plaza hotel-casino.

It was shut down for lack of adequate refrigeration. Just about every food in the facility was at an unsafe temperature.

Plus, inspectors found multiple foods with “Severe signs of spoilage.”

There’s a salad made with feta cheese and cucumber at the top of the menu. But cucumbers on the truck were discolored, spotted with mold and squishy.

And their large container of feta cheese had expired in February.

The Oscar burger comes topped with arugula, but that was wilted, brown and deteriorating.

Cantina Cancun grill is back to an A grade.

17 sickened with Hepatitis E linked to undercooked pig-liver stuffing

Background – On 11 December 2013, 3 clustered cases of hepatitis E were reported on a coastal island in Brittany. Cases had consumed spit-roasted and stuffed piglet during a wedding meal. The raw stuffing was partly made from the piglet liver. Investigations were carried out to identify the source and vehicle of contamination, and evaluate the dispersion of the hepatitis E virus (HEV) in the environment.

spit-roast-pigMethods – A questionnaire was administered to 98 wedding participants who were asked to give a blood sample. Cases were identified by RT-PCR and anti-HEV serological tests. A retrospective cohort study was conducted among 38 blood sampled participants after the exclusion of participants with evidence of past HEV immunity. Relative risks (RR) with their 95% confidence intervals were calculated based on foods consumed at the wedding meal using univariate and multivariable Poisson regressions.

The human HEV strains were compared with the strains detected in the liquid manure sampled at the farm where the piglet was born and at the inlet of the island wastewater treatment plants.

Results – 17 cases, including 3 confirmed cases, were identified and 70.6% were asymptomatic. Acute HEV infection was independently associated with piglet stuffing consumption (RR=1.69 [1.04-2.73]). Human strains from the index cases, veterinary and environmental HEV strains were identical.

Discussion – The outbreak was attributable to the consumption of an undercooked pig liver-based stuffing. After infection, the cases have probably become a temporary reservoir for HEV, which was detected in the island’s untreated wastewater.

Hepatitis E outbreak associated with the consumption of a spit-roasted piglet, Brittany (France), 2013

Épidémie d’hépatite E associée à la consommation d’un porcelet grillé à la broche, Bretagne, 2013. Bull Epidémiol Hebd. 2016;(26-27):444-9

Y Guillois, F Abravanel, T Miura, N Pavio, V Vaillant, S Lhomme, et al.

Toxoplasma at high levels in pigs from tropical Mexico

Background: Toxoplasmosis is caused by the protozoon Toxoplasma gondii, which is one of the most widespread parasites that infect animals and humans worldwide. One of the main routes of infection for humans is through the consumption of infected meat containing bradyzoites in tissue cysts. Pork is one of the foremost meat types associated with outbreaks of acute toxoplasmosis in humans.

pig-mexicoMaterials and Methods: Sixty blood samples were collected from finished pigs at slaughter and their sera was evaluated by an indirect-IgG ELISA. Matched muscle samples were obtained from the tongue and loin. Whole blood and tissue samples were evaluated to search for T. gondii DNA using a nested-polymerase chain reaction.

Results: Seroprevalence of T. gondii was 96.6% (58/60) of sampled pigs. Meanwhile, T. gondii DNA was present in 23.21% of tongue tissue samples (13/56), 7% of loin tissues (4/57), and 0% in blood samples (0/44), respectively. Two pigs were serologically indeterminate.

Conclusion: This is the first report of the presence of T. gondii DNA in tissue samples obtained from finalized pigs. Results from the present study suggest a high exposure to T. gondii in pigs intended for human consumption from the tropical region of Mexico. Thus, the consumption of some undercooked pork meat meals typical from the southern region of Mexico could represent a significant risk for acquiring infection for the human population.

Presence of Toxoplasma gondii in pork intended for human consumption in tropical southern of Mexico

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. September 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2165.

IB Hernández-Cortazar, KY Acosta-Viana, E Guzmán-Marin, A Ortega-Pacheco, JF de Jesus Torres-Acosta, M Jimenez-Coello

16 sickened with trichinellosis in Belgium from imported wild boar meat

Trichinellosis is a rare parasitic zoonosis caused by Trichinella following ingestion of raw or undercooked meat containing Trichinella larvae. In the past five years, there has been a sharp decrease in human trichinellosis incidence rates in the European Union due to better practices in rearing domestic animals and control measures in slaughterhouses.

wild-boar-recipes-and-uses_homemediumIn November 2014, a large outbreak of trichinellosis occurred in Belgium, related to the consumption of imported wild boar meat. After a swift local public health response, 16 cases were identified and diagnosed with trichinellosis. Of the 16 cases, six were female. The diagnosis was confirmed by serology or the presence of larvae in the patients’ muscle biopsies by histology and/or PCR. The ensuing investigation traced the wild boar meat back to Spain. Several batches of imported wild boar meat were recalled but tested negative.

The public health investigation allowed us to identify clustered undiagnosed cases. Early warning alerts and a coordinated response remain indispensable at a European level.

Outbreak of Trichinellosis related to eating imported wild boar meat, Belgium, 2014

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 37, 15 September 2016, DOI:

P Messiaen, A Forier, S Vanderschueren, C Theunissen, J Nijs, M Van Esbroeck, E Bottieau, K De Schrijver, IC Gyssens, R Cartuyvels, P Dorny, J van der Hilst, D Blockmans