‘Cruise from hell’ Noro hits Australian cruise ship passengers

Passengers aboard a cruise ship bound for Fremantle say more than 100 people were struck down by a particularly violent bout of gastroenteritis.

The Sea Princess, a 15-deck ship operated by Princess Cruises, left Fremantle for Singapore on August 18 and is due back on Saturday.

vomit cruiseIt missed several stops because of a mechanical issue but passengers have been compensated for the changes.

But the norovirus outbreak on the ship led one passenger to call it “the cruise from hell”.

Another passenger, Burswood real estate agent Jim Edwards, 56, became ill about a week into the cruise and said it was the worst bout of gastroenteritis he had ever had.

He said at least 200 of the ship’s 2000 passengers had contracted the bug – double Princess Cruises’ estimate of 100.

“I couldn’t believe how strong it was,” he said.

“I’m only in my 50s but it took everything out of me and that’s why I was worried about the older people. It was knocking them down like flies.”

A Princess Cruises spokesman said more stringent sanitation procedures were implemented after the first few complaints.

Stick it in: Australian warning about Hepatitis E cases linked with pork liver

NSW Health is urging members of the public to thoroughly cook pork products, particularly pork livers, after three recent notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW in people who have not travelled outside Australia.

barfblog.Stick It InNSW Health – in collaboration with the NSW Food Authority and the Department of Primary Industries – is investigating the cases which were recorded over the past few days.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, the Director of Health Protection with NSW Health, said three individuals have likely contracted the illness after consuming either pork liver or pork liver sausages that may not have been properly cooked at home.

“Hepatitis E virus has previously been identified in Australian pig herds but until recently there has been no evidence that humans have acquired the virus from pork products in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.

“Hepatitis E is common in developing countries where there is poor sanitation and little access to clean drinking water. Although infections have been linked to the consumption of pork products in other developed countries, this has not been seen in Australia before.

“In 2010 there were 14 notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW, in 2011 there were 21 notifications and in 2012 there were 10 notifications – all of which were thought to have been acquired overseas.

“Last year there were 19 notifications of the virus across the State and for the first time included a small number which were acquired locally.

“So far this year there have been 27 notifications, many without a history of overseas travel but with a history of eating pork particularly pork liver during the time they were likely exposed to the virus.”

pork.liverDr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist NSW Food Authority, said any raw food product has an element of food safety risk unless it is correctly handled and prepared.

“Undercooking pork livers and poor handling of them can be dangerous,” Dr Szabo said.

“Cooking livers all the way through will reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis E virus or other organisms.”

Potentially harmful viruses and bacteria that may be associated with pork livers are all destroyed by thorough cooking and proper handling.

Pork livers need to be cooked all the way through to kill any organisms that may be present – lightly searing the surface is not enough.

Cook to 75°C at the centre of the thickest part for at least two minutes as measured using a digital probe meat thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. Allow livers to rest for at least three minutes before consuming.

It is also important to handle pork livers in a way to avoid cross-contamination.”

To avoid cross-contamination (where particles from raw food come into contact with ready-to-eat foods), it is very important to:

  • wash your hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before preparing food and after touching raw meat;
  • make sure juices from raw meat do not come into contact with other foods
  • thoroughly clean all utensils, equipment and surfaces after preparing raw meat and before contact with other foods;
  • if possible use a separate cutting board and knife specifically for raw meat;
  • store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so juices can’t drip onto other foods; and
  • keep uncooked raw meat away from other ready-to-eat foods that will not be cooked.

Australia increases importer’s fine to encourage food safety

Following a major food safety breach by Queensland food import company B&E Packaging, it has been announced that the fine for any breaches of the Imported Food Control Act 1992 will rise from $7,000 to $20,000.

prawn.vietnamThe hope is that this boosted fine will serve as an effective deterrent to food importers who may consider ignoring Australia’s strict food safety regulations. B&E Packaging has already been slapped with the increased fine, after they admitted to selling 1,500kg of cooked prawns obtained from Vietnam, without performing the required food safety tests.

Surveys still suck; but lack of Australian awareness of food safety is ‘shocking’

According to surveys, over half (51%) of all Australians do not know enough about food temperature danger zones to keep their food safe and healthy, putting them at risk of food poisoning.

communication.context.13The evidence provided by Thermos has shown that a huge 42% of the Australian population admit that they had heard of food danger zones in the past, but didn’t know a lot about them, whereas an additional 9% of people confessed that they had no idea what they were at all.

The recent research conducted suggest that Australians do not know enough about the temperature ranges in which food-borne bacteria can thrive, typically between five and sixty degrees Celsius.

The marketing manager at Thermos Australia, Paul Fitzgerald, noted that the research his company had carried out regarding Australia’s attitude to food safety and correct storage should ‘serve as a stern warning’ to individuals and parents who may be carrying around unhealthy, potentially damaging foods.

So what rapid, relevant, repeated and reliable information is anyone offering? And is it evaluated?

Food safety for Father’s Day (in Australia)

The teacher looked at me as we arrived at school this morning: Sorenne, you’re with me, dad, take her backpack upstairs and meet us over for assembly.

sorenne.fathers.day.sep.14My mom taught kindergarten (what is called prep in Australia) for some 40 years.

I didn’t argue.

It was all about Australian father’s day, which is this Sunday, and out of about 30 parents in attendance, four were fathers.

I’m used to that.

The New South Wales Food Authority, which is the state below Queensland, decided to issue a presser to avoid food poisoning on Father’s Day this Sunday.

Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said, “If you’re looking to fire up the barbecue for dad this Sunday, make sure you remember that safe food preparation is just as important when you’re cooking on the barbecue as it is in your home kitchen.

“Cross contamination is a common mistake when people are cooking outdoors. It is important to always use a clean plate for your cooked meat and to not reuse one that may have raw juices or marinade on it.

“Outdoor eating and the warmer weather can create an ideal environment for bacteria.”

Here’s a better tip: use a digital thermometer and take out the guesswork.

barfblog.Stick It In

China farms push puts safety first

A giant Chinese meat importer has put food safety and quality at the top of its shopping list as it invests tens of millions of dollars in the Western Australia livestock industry.

amy_s_lamb_aug_12(1)Grand Farm president Chen Xibin said there was huge potential to build on WA’s reputation for producing safe food using modern farming methods and high standards in processing.

Brad Thompson of The West Australian reports that Grand Farm has started eyeing farms in WA as part of its history-making deal with South West meat processor V&V Walsh to secure huge volumes of quality lamb and beef.

Mr Chen arrived in WA late last week for meetings as part of the deal that will see V&V Walsh process an extra 500,000 lambs and 30,000 cattle a year.

Grand Farm, China’s biggest importer of red meat from Australia and New Zealand, is investing $1 billion in boosting supply and processing capacity with the backing of authorities in Inner Mongolia. Mr Chen said the company was considering all options for increasing supply out of WA, including buying farms, developing feedlots and live exports.

Risk assessment of Escherichia coli O157 illness from consumption of hamburgers in the United States made from Australian manufacturing beef

We analyze the risk of contracting illness due to the consumption in the United States of hamburgers contaminated with enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) of serogroup O157 produced from manufacturing beef imported from Australia.

BeefAustralia2012We have used a novel approach for estimating risk by using the prevalence and concentration estimates of E. coli O157 in lots of beef that were withdrawn from the export chain following detection of the pathogen.

For the purpose of the present assessment an assumption was that no product is removed from the supply chain following testing. This, together with a number of additional conservative assumptions, leads to an overestimation of E. coli O157-associated illness attributable to the consumption of ground beef patties manufactured only from Australian beef. We predict 49.6 illnesses (95%: 0.0–148.6) from the 2.46 billion hamburgers made from 155,000 t of Australian manufacturing beef exported to the United States in 2012. All these illness were due to undercooking in the home and less than one illness is predicted from consumption of hamburgers cooked to a temperature of 68 °C in quick-service restaurants.

Risk Analysis

Andreas Kiermeier, Ian Jenson, and John Sumner

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/risa.12248/abstract;jsessionid=43180662EA5BDBE4A8B9078767641769.f03t02

Unlabeled irradiated Australian tomatoes now on NZ shelves

New Zealanders are being urged to once again ask their retailer if their tomatoes have been treated with radiation, as, according to this story, large volumes of unlabelled irradiated Australian tomatoes hit local shelves.

tomato.irradiationThe story says currently there are tonnes of irradiated Australian tomatoes being imported into New Zealand vegetable markets and food retail outlets nationwide, according to Tomatoes New Zealand.

Food retailers and the hospitality sector are legally required to label or indicate where imported irradiated Australian tomatoes are sold or served. However many are unaware that they have a responsibility to their customers to label the produce as irradiated.

Alasdair MacLeod, Chair of Tomatoes New Zealand, said; “We are asking all food and hospitality retailers, including catering companies, to clearly label their irradiated produce at point of sale and on their menus to avoid any public confusion.”

“We are also urging people to register their complaints with the Ministry for Primary Industries via their hotline number and/or email should they believe irradiated Australian tomatoes are being sold without any labeling or signage provided.”

Tomatoes New Zealand is calling on those importing, selling or serving tomatoes to comply with the New Zealand Food Standards Code, which states all food that has been irradiated, or food that contains irradiated ingredients or components, be labeled or have a label displayed on or close to it stating that it has been treated with ionizing radiation.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have mandatory country of origin labeling of fresh produce – so unless retailers clearly label irradiated Australian tomatoes, consumers won’t be able to distinguish irradiated tomatoes from New Zealand tomatoes which are never irradiated.

New Zealand already accepts a number of irradiated tropical fruit from Australia that we don’t grow in New Zealand such as mango, papaya and custard apple. These fruits are required to have mandatory labelling.

Australian infant stricken with botulism digging deep to save other mums from heartache

Lucas Whitelegg was stricken with botulism at nine-weeks-old and left him paralyzed for 241 days.

botulism microThe Mildura, Australia, youngster spent 10 months in intensive care at Monash Children’s Hospital after ingesting spores of Clostridium botulinum bacterium, found in dust and honey.

Ms Bailey was based in  Melbourne alone and did not leave Lucas’s side, spending most of the year away from her support network and husband who could not afford to give up his job in Mildura.

During this time Andrew travelled 30,000km, commuting between Mildura and Melbourne. Eventually Lucas’s movement returned, and for the first time last month, at 17 months old, he began to crawl.

“We waited so long for these milestones so when you finally see them, they blow you away with excitement and happiness,’’ his mother Bree Bailey said. “To know what he’s come from to where he is now is incredible.’’

162 sickened: Salmonella kiss of death for Canberra restaurant

When we go out to eat, which is increasingly rare, I always ask, does your chef use raw eggs in the aioli or mayo or something else that is not cooked.

godfather.death.kissIn Australia the answer is usually a convincing yes.

I try not to be an arse about these things, but what I do say is, look at all the raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia (see http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx).

) and then say something like, we’re fans of your food, that’s why we come here. Do you really want to lose this business you worked so had for because of a dip?

In May, 2013, at least 162 people who went out for a Mother’s Day meal at the Copa Brazilian in Canberra were sickened with Salmonella.

The Copa has, according to media reports, has quietly closed and sold.

After a final dinner service on a Saturday night in mid-June, the site of Canberra’s largest salmonella outbreak now has its lights turned off and had its furniture boxed up.

One story says the victims were sickened after being “served mayonnaise in a potato salad made with bad eggs.”

egg.farm_1This is a line often heard in Australia and elsewhere: the eggs were bad.

Maybe there’s some Salmonella-night-vision goggles I don’t know about. But do restaurant owners really want to make people sick, and do they really want to lose their business?