Nosestretcher alert: With 74 now sick from Salmonella in bagged lettuce, spokesthingy says, ‘it’s safe.’ Where’s the data

Australians have been assured prepacked lettuce on retail shelves is safe to eat as the number of salmonella cases linked to some products grows.

lettuce.skull.noroFresh Produce Safety Centre technology manager Richard Bennett said consumers shouldn’t worry about potentially tainted lettuce unless it had been sitting in their refrigerators (disclaimer — I gave a talk for this group a couple of years ago; weren’t interested in hard questions).

“Any product on the retail shelf now is fresh, safe and healthy,” Mr Bennett told AAP.

Mr Bennett said Australia was a leader in food safety and systems were usually able to prevent outbreaks of disease.

No, most of it doesn’t get reported.

The Australian Fresh Produce Safety Centre, a bastard child of the leafy greens marketing thingy or whatever they’re called in California, is following the same playbook of saying everything is OK, why are you looking at us?

Consumers deserve better.

54 sick: Salmonella in lettuce spreads in Australia

This is how bad public reporting of foodborne illness is in Australia.

lettuce.skull.noroRetailers, even with crappy Internet, we have cameras, and you’ll be found out.

An increasing number of Queenslanders claim they’ve been made ill from supermarket-bought salads in the wake of salmonella outbreak, but Woolworths and Coles insist there’s no problem with Queensland supply.

“The supplier in question does not supply into Queensland so there is no need to worry,” a Woolworths spokesman told The Courier-Mail.

While a Cole statement confirmed: “None of the recalled products are sold in Queensland, there is no cause for concern.”

It is believed Coles and Woolworths have stopped taking supplies from Tripod indefinitely.

Chelsea Bienke is just one of Queensland consumers who believe a bout of extreme vomiting and diarrhea was sparked after eating Woolworths lettuce.

The Brisbane woman and her sister were extremely ill for days after eating a meal with mixed salad.

“We had diarrhea for days and I was vomiting” Ms Bienke said.

“I felt like complete crap. I couldn’t go to work this week.”

She said she doubted claims that the product wouldn’t affect any customers.

“Well it’s strange how we bought the product last week and by Tuesday we were vomiting and had diarrhea,” Ms Bienke said.

“My niece who doesn’t eat the product is perfectly fine.”

Another Queenslander wrote on Coles’ Facebook page: “Are you sure Qld products are not affected. I bought spinach and rocket mix. My child has been unwell for three days.”

Another Brisbane mum posted on the same page: “You say Qld isn’t affected but my kids have been sick with headache and nausea. We eat your salads all the time and five of my six kids have been sick.

28 sickened with Salmonella: Lettuce is overrated

I prefer a cut-up variety of fibre-rich vegetables.

lettuce.skull.noroA few years ago I toured my local Coles supermarket with the two heads of food safety – both now gone.

We spent about 2 hours going through the store and I pointed out labeling problems, lack of hygiene, and asked, how were consumers supposed to know what food was safe?

Now there is a problem with bagged lettuce packaged up and served at Coles, Woolies, and elsewhere, with 28 people sick.

This is nothing new.

But it’s tragic that people continue to get sick from the food that should nourish them.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet.

Because they are fresh, anything that comes in contact has the potential to contaminate.

That means food safety starts on the farm.

Washing produce may make you feel better, and government agencies advocate washing, but with fresh produce, washing does little.

It may remove some of the snot that a 3-year-old sneezed on it, but microbiologically, not much else.

lettuceThe key is to have programs in place to reduce contamination.

Twenty years ago, my lab started working with Canadian farmers to limit contamination on fresh produce farms.

Of particular importance: quality of irrigation water, manure, and employee handwashing.

You see a bird, I see a Salmonella factory. We can’t kill all the birds, but we can take appropriate steps to reduce risk.

Fresh produce has been the leading cause of foodborne illness in North America for two decades.

Right now there is an outbreak of Listeria on Dole packaged salads in Canada and the U.S. that has killed two and sickened 20.

Are packaged salads the villain?

Yes and no.

There has been much debate in the food safety community over whether pre-packaged salads are a good thing or a bad thing.

I agree with a scientific advisory committee in the U.S. that said pre-packaged salads are safer because your sink is a pool of germs.

But only if the companies producing the stuff – and making the profit – can prove it.

During one of my many trips to Coles, I asked the store manager if he washes pre-packaged greens.

He replied, “Of course, why wouldn’t I, my wife does it.”

Oh, Australia.

There are no labels with recommendations on pre-packaged salads in Australia.

There are no guidelines.

There is no public disclosure.

If 28 people got sick, there’s a lot more for it to bubble up to Australian media.

Retailers should be clear about practices and sourcing.

And they should market food safety.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety in Canada and the U.S. who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia. And coaches ice hockey.

28 sick: Salmonella outbreak linked to Coles and Woolworths lettuce in Australia

An urgent national recall has been issued for pre-packaged lettuce and salad linked to a salmonella outbreak that has hospitalized two people.

lettuce.skull.noroThe Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said it had identified a number of cases of the infection linked to lettuce grown and packaged by Victorian company Tripod Farmers.

It is sold at Coles, Woolworths, Bi-Lo and other grocers as Coles 4 Leaf Mix, Woolworths salad mix, SupaSalad Supamix and Wash N Toss salad mix.

The affected products have best before dates leading up to and including February 14 and are in all states and territories except for Tasmania and Western Australia.

The health department identified the lettuce after recording an unusually high level of Salmonella Anatum strain infections and traced a number of those back to the products.

“Normally we only see a handful of cases of this strain each year, but so far this year there have been 28 adult cases of salmonella anatum – mostly adults – notified to the department,” the department’s senior medical advisor Dr Finn Romanes said.

“As a result of following up the food histories of a number of people we have discovered a common source – the Tripod Farmers lettuce.

“Tests of three products from two batches have also tested positive for Salmonella Anatum bacterium.”

“We do expect to see more cases,” he said.

“We are working with the company to understand what may have occurred… They have instituted a comprehensive clean-up to make sure any risk is minimized.”

salm.salad.aust.feb.16

Microbial food safety – what makes people barf — doesn’t have a chance

Burger-mania is set to hit Australia again tomorrow, as the controversial American burger chain Carl’s Jr opens its first Australian store on the NSW Central Coast.

food.porn.jan.16Carl’s Jr has set up shop in Bateau Bay near The Entrance, next to McDonald’s, and is offering a year’s worth of free burgers to the first 50 people through the door on Tuesday.

It’s a publicity stunt set to rival that of fellow US burger chain In-N-Out, which opened a four-hour pop-up restaurant in Surry Hills last month and sold out of product half an hour before the store opened.

151 sickened: Australian woman has emergency caesarean after eating at Sylvania bakery linked to food poisoning

A woman from Kiama Downs was forced to undergo an emergency caesarean after she says she became violently ill after eating a hot chicken roll from a Sydney bakery suspected of being at the centre of a food-poisoning outbreak.

c.section.sydney.bakeryFirst-time mother Ashley Buchanan remains in Wollongong Hospital after giving birth to her daughter, Ava, on Tuesday, five weeks before her due date.

Mrs Buchanan said she and her husband, Caine, had travelled to Sylvania, in Sydney’s south, for a birthing class at the weekend when they stopped at Box Village Bakery and Cafe for lunch about 1pm. Both she and her husband ate hot chicken rolls with gravy, she told the Illawarra Mercury from her hospital bed on Friday.

By 8pm, Mrs Buchanan was violently ill with intense cramping, vomiting and diarrhoea. Mr Buchanan drove her to Shellharbour Hospital about 1am on Monday. By then, he too was experiencing some of the same symptoms.

Mrs Buchanan was transferred to Wollongong Hospital, where doctors kept watch on her falling blood pressure and worsening loss of fluids. Doctors decided to operate when unborn Ava’s movements slowed.

c.section.sydney.bakery.2Mrs Buchanan told radio station 2UE earlier that she was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) after the surgery.

“It was all quite frightening, because my blood pressure went right down; they had to rush me to ICU straight after the delivery,” she said.

“My husband was actually in hospital at the time, but because he was sick he wasn’t allowed to come into the theatre with me to see the birth, so it was all very stressful and frightening.”

“It wasn’t until the next day they told me they were so lucky that they made that call, because once they started the caesarean they found I had internal bleeding so it could have ended up much worse if they waited,” Mrs Buchanan told the Mercury.

Baby Ava ultimately arrived at 35 weeks and six days, weighing a healthy 2.9 kilograms.

Doctors told the family a younger baby of a lesser weight might not have withstood the stresses of food poisoning.

The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District said 151 people had now presented themselves at Sutherland and St George hospitals with food poisoning, and 27 had been admitted to those hospitals.

Quackery continues: Australian naturopath put breastfeeding mum on water only diet

A New South Wales naturopath allegedly put a breastfeeding mother on a raw food diet to cure her baby’s eczema before putting her on a water only diet.

raw-probiotics-kidsMarilyn Pauline Bodnar, who runs the the Health and Vitality Centre from her Leppington home, pleaded not guilty to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to the eight-month-old and failing to provide for a child causing danger of death at Fairfield Local Court yesterday, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The baby’s mother has been charged with the same offences but is yet to enter a plea.

From February to April last year Bodnar, 59, treated the mother, who came to her to help cure her newborn son of eczema.

She allegedly convinced the mother, who cannot be identified, that the only way to help the baby was to adopt a diet of raw vegetables, fruit and seeds.

The court heard the mother was “intimidated by the accused” and made to feel guilty for using steroid creams to treat the eczema “as it was best to use nothing to allow the skin to breathe”.

Bodnar allegedly told the mother “Are you 100 per cent raw? You have to be 100 per cent raw if you want to see your son heal.”

Police allege that when the baby developed a fever Bodnar told the mother to adopt a water only diet, telling her that her baby would not get better if she ate.

When the child was six months old his mother asked Bodnar if she could feed him vegetable puree but the naturopath allegedly advised her to put raw food in a net and let the infant suck it.

Bodnar is also accused of telling the mother to feed the child goat milk.

When the child vomited it up Bodnar allegedly told the mother it was good because it eliminated the toxins that caused the eczema.

After a week of vomiting the mother took the baby to a doctor who advised her to get the infant to hospital immediately

When the baby was admitted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead he weighed 6.39kg, placing him in the zero percentile for baby boys his age.

Before the diet the baby was developing normally and reaching his milestones, the court heard.

The baby has been removed from his mother’s care.

Bodnar is on bail but has been banned from treating anyone under 16.

The case will return to court on March 23.

40 sickened, probably more: Sydney bakery shut, chicken schnitzel suspected

A bakery in Sydney’s south has been closed down pending an investigation after up to 40 people fell ill with food poisoning over the past week, with 13 admitted to hospital for treatment.

salm.bakery.sydney.jan.16The Box Village Bakery in Sylvania has been closed as the Food Authority investigates whether it could be the source of the outbreak.

There are reports that those who fell ill may have eaten chicken rolls or chicken schnitzel rolls from the bakery.

Dr Mark Ferson, public health director for south-east Sydney, told 2UE radio that as of yesterday there had been 40 people who attended Sutherland and St George hospitals with symptoms of food poisoning.

He said salmonella had been found in some of the patients.

“We think about 13 of those have been admitted to hospital. People started becoming sick on Friday and the hospital informed us on Sunday that they were getting a number of patients in.”

Anyone sick: Listeria leads to ham recall in Aus

Pastoral Ham & Beef P/L has recalled Easy Cut Shoulder Ham from Costco stores in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, SA due to microbial (Listeria Monocytogenes) contamination.

hamDate notified to FSANZ

25/01/2016 

Food type

Ham (cured pork meat)

Product name

Easy Cut Shoulder Ham

Package description and size

Plastic cryovac bag, random weights approx. 3 kg

Date marking

Use By 02.03.16

Country of origin

Australia

Reason for recall

Microbial (Listeria Monocytogenes) contamination

Distribution

Costco stores in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, SA

Consumer advice

Listeria may cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly and people with low immune systems. Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice. The product can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Contact

Pastoral Ham & Beef P/L

(02) 9319 4008

http://www.pastoralsmallgoods.com.au/

Australian sushi shops owner fined $41,000 for food safety breaches

The owner of two Woden sushi shops has been fined $41,000 for serious health safety breaches.

sushi.aust.jan.16Raids on the Sizzle Bento and Roll-A-Sushi, owned by parent company World Fashion Food Pty Ltd, uncovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that recycled dirty water, and food being defrosted and stored on the floor.

World Fashion Food Pty Ltd was sentenced by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday on 11 criminal charges for the breaches of food standards.

Court documents said health authorities discovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that repeatedly recycled dirty water, and an overheated display cabinet during raids at the now closed Sizzle Bento store in Woden Plaza in May 2011.

Cleanliness and food storage breaches were again detected during a second inspection in September 2011.

Pictures tendered in court showed food safety inspectors encountered cockroaches in the food preparation area.

Court documents said the sushi display cabinet had been set at about 10 degrees, instead of the recommended 5 degrees or less.