Barf’s up: South Bank Surf Club faces 32 charges after 28 sickened with raw egg aioli

On Sept. 23, 2015, Brisbane’s South Bank Surf Club allegedly made up a large batch of raw-egg-based aioli sauce and served it for seven days.

garlic_aioliAt least 28 diners were sickened.

At the time, the manager of the club said the cause was “a bad batch of eggs’’ provided by a supplier. They said the eggs had been used in sauces served with seafood platters.

“We’ve been caught out, unfortunately. Our customers’ wellbeing is our priority and anyone with concerns can get in touch with us,” they said. “To rectify the problem, we are not making sauces in-house.’’

This is a common refrain in Australia.

We, the chefs, would never put the health of our customers in harm’s way, yet they continue to do so with the line, we got a bad batch of eggs.

south-bank-surf-club-1_lrgNow, Brisbane City Council health inspectors have filed a complaint in Brisbane Magistrates Court accusing the club, owned by Brisbane hospitality king Bevan Bickle, of letting the aioli and other sauces sit kitchen benches for up to three hours without refrigeration on the day they were used in meals including fish and chips, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches between September 23 and October 1 last year.

Court documents state aioli is a “potentially hazardous food” because “pathogenic microorganisms” can grow due to the raw egg and it needs to be refrigerated.

The club faces 32 charges of breaching food safety laws.

When inspector Heath Vogler visited the restaurant on October 16 he alleges the aioli was kept at 11C.

The council summons filed in court states aioli must be stored below 5C to minimise the growth of poisonous bacteria.

The case returns to court on December 23. The restaurant has not entered a plea.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

Aioli, raw egg and food porn

There’s a self-congratulatory culture within self-titled food advocates who care more about food porn than microbial safety – the things that make people barf.

aioliAnd why The New Times is becoming increasing irrelevant (and please, stop sending me those thrice daily e-mails about the latest subscription special).

Columnist Mark Bittman, advocate of many microbiologically dubious practices – I wonder if he’s has ever used a thermometer – writes that Alice Waters  is probably the most important American in food.

Bittman writes he wasn’t surprised to see her making the aioli — garlic mayonnaise to serve with the fish and its accompaniments — in the most inefficient and old-fashioned way possible: using a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic, a fork to whip up the emulsion and no lemon juice, vinegar or any other acid at all. It was the best mayonnaise I’ve ever tasted, but then again, she did use a wonderfully perfumed olive oil.

And probably a raw egg.

Consumer shell egg consumption and handling practices: results from a national survey

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Kosa, Katherine M., Cates, Sheryl C., Bradley, Samantha, Godwin, Sandria, Chambers, Delores

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000007/art00010

Abstract:

Numerous cases and outbreaks of Salmonella infection are attributable to shell eggs each year in the United States. Safe handling and consumption of shell eggs at home can help reduce foodborne illness attributable to shell eggs.

A nationally representative Web survey of 1,504 U.S. adult grocery shoppers was conducted to describe consumer handling practices and consumption of shell eggs at home. Based on self-reported survey data, most respondents purchase shell eggs from a grocery store (89.5%), and these eggs were kept refrigerated (not at room temperature; 98.5%). As recommended, most consumers stored shell eggs in the refrigerator (99%) for no more than 3 to 5 weeks (97.6%). After cracking eggs, 48.1% of respondents washed their hands with soap and water. More than half of respondents who fry and/or poach eggs cooked them so that the whites and/or the yolks were still soft or runny, a potentially unsafe practice. Among respondents who owned a food thermometer (62.0%), only 5.2% used it to check the doneness of baked egg dishes the they prepared such a dish. Consumers generally followed two of the four core “Safe Food Families” food safety messages (“separate” and “chill”) when handling shell eggs at home.

To prevent Salmonella infection associated with shell eggs, consumers should improve their practices related to the messages “clean” (i.e., wash hands after cracking eggs) and “cook” (i.e., cook until yolks and whites are firm and use a food thermometer to check doneness of baked egg dishes) when preparing shell eggs at home. These findings will be used to inform the development of science-based consumer education materials that can help reduce foodborne illness from Salmonella infection.

 

Why I don’t get invited to dinner and Australia still has an egg problem

Amy went out for dinner last night with some uni colleagues.

boatshed.menu.june.15She checked out the menu beforehand – as you do when living with a food safety type for 10 years – and I was encouraged by the 50C salmon and 65C eggs.

Unfortunately, this was the summer menu and it’s winter here.

And I noticed the aioli on the menu, and asked Amy, ask the server if it’s made with raw eggs.

Of course it was.

When those questions are asked in a restaurant, servers think you want to hear whatever is fashionable.

Ten years ago I was sitting in a B.C. restaurant with Chapman and a provincial health inspector, and ordered fish, and asked, is it farmed or wild?

He assured me it was wild.

I said I wanted farmed because that left a smaller ecological footprint.

He said, no one had ever asked for farmed, and eventually admitted that yeah, some of it was farmed.

So how are consumers supposed to know?

They don’t. It’s all faith-based.

I made dinner for Amy before she went out.

She didn’t eat the aioli.

While it’s nice that Dr Paul Armstrong, chairman of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, acknowledged the other day that, “We have an ongoing problem with salmonella infections linked with chickens, particularly eggs,” it doesn’t help diners who are served raw-egg aioli.

Australia has an egg problem.

Individual stamps on every egg to trace Salmonella are a rotten idea, say small Australian egg producers

We went with another family to our favorite fish shop for dinner last night after an outing in the park with our daughters.

garlic_aioliThe restaurant owners know not to serve me the aioli which includes raw egg.

We’ve had that conversation.

ABC Rural reports that small-scale egg producers in New South Wales say compulsory stamps on every single egg are a rotten idea.

From November, NSW will follow Queensland to require all bought eggs to have stamps so any food poisoning outbreak like Salmonella can be traced back.

But small producers argue it would cost them up to $30,000 to install and manage the stamping equipment.

NSW Egg Farmers Association director Jo Damjanovic says if consumers get sick, it’s easier to trace the cartons than eggs.

“The egg would be used up by the consumer, the egg shell would be thrown in the rubbish and the traceability would be thrown in the rubbish as well.

“It’s just ridiculous to think you can jigsaw-puzzle a piece of eggshell back together to figure out where that egg came from.”

The NSW Government says egg producers have had two years to prepare for the new national standards and there are exemptions for micro egg producers, those who turn out 1,000 eggs a day or 20 dozen a week.

Eggs sold at the farm gate also will not require a stamp, nor will those sold for charity.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson says eggs are one of the leading sources of Salmonella.

“Between 2010 and 2014, there were 40 food poisoning outbreaks associated with eggs, affecting more than 700 people.”

But Mr Damjanovic says a report he commissioned to assess the Regulatory Impact Statement found there has been no improved traceback in Queensland, where they’ve been stamping eggs since 2005.

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.

Australia only now coming to grips with food safety basics

Ash Lewis was limp in his mother’s arms. The three-year-old boy had been sick for several days, in and out of the family doctor’s surgery and up all night with diarrhea.

That Sunday he had been happily playing on the beach at Torquay on Victoria’s west coast and later munching on an egg and cheese roll at a beachside cafe. He and his garlic.aiolimother had left Melbourne to escape February’s heatwave.

By Thursday his condition had gone downhill fast. He stopped speaking and couldn’t walk. His parents, Scott and Sarina Lewis, rushed him to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. His blood pressure was down, his heart rate was low and his face was the ”colour of concrete.”

From the happy little boy playing in the sea he was now in hospital with an IV drip in his arm.

An estimate by the federal Department of Health puts the number of Australians contracting food-borne illness at 5.4 million cases, or nearly one in four, with 120 people so seriously affected they die. The cost to the economy has been put at $1.25 billion.

Richard Cornish of Good Food writes that incidents involving Salmonella have almost doubled in the past 10 years, from 6,990 in 2003 to 12,836 in 2013. In Brisbane last year, 220 people became ill and one elderly woman died after a Melbourne Cup lunch. The finger was pointed at raw egg mayonnaise contaminated with salmonella. In 2010, salmonella-contaminated aioli made with raw egg was found to be the cause of an outbreak in a hamburger bar that struck down 179 people

A stool sample taken from Ash confirmed he was infected with Salmonella bacteria causing gastroenteritis. The sandwich he ate at that cafe was prepared with mayonnaise made with free-range eggs. Owners of the cafe we spoke to believe this is the most likely cause of the food poisoning.

Brett Graham is the co-owner of the Bottle of Milk in Torquay. At the time of writing his cafe was still closed, three weeks after the food poisoning outbreak was identified. He has scrubbed his business from floor to ceiling, spent $20,000 rebuilding the kitchen, complete raw.egg.mayo.may.13with new fridges and dishwashers, and installed a window so diners can look in. “No one intentionally tries to make someone sick. I, we [he has a business partner], we feel terrible,” he says. “It’s a small town and a lot of people we know personally have been affected.”

The business is still paying their staff of 20.

Seventy-seven diners who fell ill after eating at Canberra restaurant Copa Brazilian Churrasco last year are at present taking civil action against its owners in the ACT Supreme Court. A total of 140 people fell ill, with 15 taken to hospital, after eating home-made mayonnaise at the restaurant in May last year.

Here’s a tip: don’t use raw eggs.

Why won’t Australian government or industry or consumer groups make such a basic statement, and actively promote the message? Instead, consumers are told it’s their fault when they buy a sandwich made with raw egg mayo and get sick. And consumers pay for such terrible messages with tax dollars.

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.

Reducing risk of raw-egg roulette in Australia

Australia still has a raw egg problem.

But at least some of the few remaining journalists are starting to pay attention.

Claudine Ryan of ABC Australia writes that lovers of aioli, chocolate mousse and tiramisu need to know these dishes can cause nasty food poisoning.

Mayonnaise was the source of salmonella bacteria responsible for a number of recent food poisoning outbreaks. In Brisbane, one woman died and hundreds more became ill garlic_aioliafter a Melbourne-cup day lunch, while another 140 people became ill after eating at a Canberra restaurant on Mother’s Day.

But this isn’t only an issue for restaurants or catering companies. Mayonnaise, tiramisu, mousse, and other dishes made with raw or minimally cooked eggs are now the most common cause of foodborne salmonella outbreaks in Australia, says Belinda Davies, a senior environmental health lecturer at Queensland University of Technology.

Davies says in part this is because more of us are getting the food safety messages related to handling raw chicken, such as not eating it undercooked, and making sure we don’t contaminate kitchen surfaces, utensils or uncooked food with bacteria present on raw chicken. As a result raw eggs are now responsible for a greater percentage of reported cases of salmonella-related food poisoning.

Raw egg aioli promoted for Ocean’s Eleven screening

Dinner and a Movie on TBS is incredibly hokey and contrived, which makes it perfect entertainment fare along with trashy magazines and Tom Robbins novels while recharging at the beach.

During a (probably repeat) screening of the George Clooney Ocean’s Eleven remake on Friday night, the recipe to accompany the movie was ‘Risky Aioli;’ risky because, as the hosts said, the recipe included raw egg.

The host did say that if you didn’t feel up to it (were a wus) a tablespoon of commercial mayo could be substituted instead. They went ahead with the raw egg.

I’m guessing the egg-of-course-we-only-promote-the-cooked-kind industry didn’t register any health objections when the episode originally aired.

Farm fresh eggs not Salmonella-free; amplifying risk at restaurants

CNBC ran a feature about raw eggs in recipes today that contained some food safety nose-stretchers.

On the plus side, the story acknowledged that raw eggs can carry salmonella, and when Catherine Donnelly, a professor of food safety at the University of Vermont, said that adults may get sick from salmonella, but are unlikely to die, the story said,

“not dying is a pretty low bar to set for dinner.”

Charles Reeves, chef and owner of Penny Cluse Cafe, a restaurant in Burlington, Vt., known for its from-scratch breakfasts and lunches, said,

"You can’t own a restaurant and call yourself a chef if you’re using mayonnaise out of a bottle. It’s just too easy to make it better yourself."

Though his customers’ safety is a primary concern, Reeves doesn’t think twice about using raw eggs, including serving them over easy and sunny side up.

"You just always have to use absolutely fresh eggs that come from a reputable source," he says.

A reputable source with those superhero Salmonella goggles?

Todd Pritchard, a food scientist at the University of Vermont, said farm fresh doesn’t necessarily mean bacteria free, adding,

"Bacteria are blind. They don’t see whether the eggs come from a local farmer or are free-range or organic."

That’s of no concern to Nancy Oakes, a James Beard award-winning chef and owner of San Francisco’s Boulevard Restaurant who calls the raw egg a "simply magical food."

At Boulevard, Oakes creates aiolis with raw egg yolk, and accompanies her Caesar salad with a soft-cooked egg on the side. She says safety efforts focus too much on the kitchen, and not enough on the farms where the eggs are produced.

The story concludes that for adult home cooks in good health, the minute risk of being sickened may be worth the joy of soft boiled eggs or homemade mayo. Ditto when dining out.

That’s not true.

The American Egg Board estimates the risk of an egg being contaminated with salmonella at about 1 in 20,000. So at home, if I make mayo, or dip into the pancake batter, I’ve upped the risk to 5-6 out of 20,000. If a restaurant is making mayo or aioli, dozens if not hundreds of eggs could be used, cross-contaminating the kitchen area and potentially sickening thousands of people daily.

That’s how 111 people got sick with Salmonella from The Burger Bar in Albury, Australia in Jan. 2010. It was the raw egg in the aioli.

Risk gets amplified real easily.

Pritchard also points out that while it’s true that the likelihood of being sickened by an egg is low, it doesn’t matter, if you’re the one who gets sick.

Especially if it is preventable.