Country Tonk: Australian coroner criticises woman who made toxic ‘moonshine’ contributed to deaths of 3 people in 2015

The Deputy State Coroner has delivered a scathing report into deaths of three people in western New South Wales:

moonshine-australiaFound the consumption of “moonshine” contributed to their deaths

Woman who supplied homemade booze “targeted people with alcoholism”

Magistrate Helen Barry also said more people could die without tougher rules on the purchase of stills that are used to make alcohol.

An inquest found the illegal sale of homemade alcohol contributed to the deaths of the three residents of an Indigenous reserve near Collarenebri in February and March last year. They were aged in their 30s and 40s.

Norman Boney, his sister Sandra Boney and her partner Roger Adams consumed an unknown quantity of “moonshine” in the months before their deaths. It was supplied by another woman, Mary Miller.

Ms Miller denied selling the alcohol, but the coroner found “the overwhelming and only conclusion is that Mary Miller was in fact selling moonshine (homebrew) to the residents of Walli Reserve during the period of 2014 and 2015”.

Lavinia Flick, who was related to Mr Adams, earlier told the inquest the deaths had a huge impact on the community.

“The sadness that you feel, there are no words for it,” she said.

“Mary opened her shop the next day after they died like it was nothing.”

Ms Barry said it is impossible to disagree with Ms Flick’s conclusion that: “Mary targeted people with alcoholism. She targeted people with an addiction and disease. It was our people that were affected by it.”

The inquest was told distilling alcohol without a licence is illegal and easy to get wrong.

Professor Ian Whyte from the Department of Clinical Toxicology and Pharmacology at Calvary Mater Hospital in Newcastle gave evidence at the hearing.

“A relatively small dose can cause blindness and ultimately death.”

‘Gap in the legislation’ could have ‘fatal consequences’

The coroner said it was legal to purchase a still that holds less than 5 litres for the purpose of distilling water or essential oils.

But in practice, it can be used to illegally manufacture alcohol and “because there is no licensing requirement, that activity is likely to remain undetected unless there is a catastrophic event such as in the loss of lives such as those of Sandra, Norman and Roger”.

“Because of the gap in the legislation, there is the potential for fatal consequences.”

Ms Barry said she would send these findings to the Commonwealth Attorney-General and Minister for Finance for their consideration.

Raw (milk) is risky: Scotch and a smoke for your 5-year-old?

In April 1986, three classes of kindergarten and pre-K schoolchildren visited a dairy farm near Sarnia, Ontario (that’s in Canada, although it feels like grungy U.S.).

colbert-raw_-milk_1As recounted by David Waltner-Toews in his 1992 book, Food, Sex and Salmonella, “It was a typical Ontario farm, with 67 cows and calves, some chickens, some pigs, all well-cared for an clean, and seemed the perfect place to take a class of preschoolers. In April of 1986, 62 pre-school children and 12 supervising adults visited this farm. They played in the barn, petted the calves, pulled at the cows’ teats, and gathered a few eggs. For a break, they drank milk (right from the farmer’s tank!) and ate egg cookies (sliced hard-boiled eggs cleverly renamed to induce children to eat them). A good time was had by all.

“Within the next two weeks, 42 children and four adults came down with abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Three of the children ended up in the hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome. One of the children fell into a coma. All eventually recovered. The bacterium blamed for these misfortunes called verotoxin-producing E. coli, or VTEC.

“Public health investigators looked everywhere on the farm. Although they found only two calves carrying the organism, they decided that exposure to the unpasteurized milk was the most plausible explanation for what they saw. And yet the farm family, which drank that milk every day, was apparently healthy and not shedding VTEC.”

The public health version states that “after extensive sampling at the farm the only samples that were positive for E. coil O157:H7 were stool samples taken from two calves at the dairy farm. Agriculture Canada veterinarians collected the animal stool samples and also checked the herd for Brucellosis.

“To control the spread of the E. coil the three classes were closed at the school for about three, weeks. All the affected children and their families were restricted in their contact with the community until the affected family member(s) has three successive negative stool samples. These restrictions imposed by the Lambton Health Unit quickly controlled the spread of the E. coll. Thus by mid-June all families were negative for E, coli and by mid-July the three children with HUS had returned home from the hospital.”

This outbreak was noteworthy in that dairy farms in Ontario stopped serving raw milk to visiting school children.

As one of my many dairy farmer friends have told me, when the schools visit, we go to town and buy some (pasteurized) milk.

Thirty years later and the same nonsense is still being debated, in Tasmania (that’s in Australia).

Rhiana Whitson of ABC News reported earlier this month a Tasmanian farmer who demonstrates milking cows to children, giving them a “squirt” from the udder, has fallen foul of health authorities who have warned he is at risk of losing his business if he does not stop.

huon-valley-caravan-park-aRowen Carter (left, exactly as shown) runs the Huon Valley Caravan Park, south of Hobart, which he said is “more than just a caravan park, we are a self-sufficient working farm that wants to teach people where real food comes from.”

Maybe Rowen should teach microbiology and Louis Pasteur.

Carter offers paying guests homemade Persian fetta made with raw milk, as well as a taste of raw cow’s milk straight from the udder’s teat.

“I squirt it in their mouth and then afterwards I appear with some plastic cups and show them the more couth way of tasting the fresh milk … everybody is amazed at how sweet and how nice it is,” Mr Carter said.

But his attempt to provide guests with an “old-fashioned farm experience” has landed him in trouble with the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority (TDIA).

Mr Carter denied selling raw milk and insisted his guests freely choose to sample it.

“It’s been taken away from us, the right to choose,” he said.

“I think people should be allowed to taste it … they don’t have to taste it, it’s their choice and it’s their choice to let their children have a taste.”

The sale of unpasteurised milk products for human consumption is illegal in Australia, however the use of raw milk in various products has continued with some arguing the risks have been overstated.

smoke-pancake-austinHealth authorities and experts have warned raw milk poses a health risk, especially to children. A boy died in 2014 after drinking raw milk, marketed as bath milk, labelled as being for “cosmetic use only”.

Mr Carter said the tasting of the milk straight from the cow was a “highlight of the day” for guests.

“There is always the question ‘can we do the milk squirting again tomorrow?’

“Now we have to tell them because it is deemed we are selling the milk, squirting is now no longer.

“How can something that brings so much joy be so wrong?”

Search raw milk on barfblog.com and find out how wrong it can be.

In a facebook post, Carter wrote, “I can legally allow you to sit at my dining room table and offer you a can of coke and a cigarette but I am unable to offer you a glass of fresh (raw) milk and a scone with clotted cream according to Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority acting chairman Mark Sayer.”

Raw milk and other weird parental dietary preferences disproportionally affect the kids.

It’s always the kids.

Mr. Carter, drink all the raw milk you like, I don’t care, I provide information.

But as parents, we generally don’t have a scotch and a smoke with 5-year-olds.

And stop with the squirting references, especially around kids: it’s  just weird.

It’s still 1978 here in Australia; or 1803 in Tasmania.

Pulling a Britney: Changing diapers on a cafe table is a microbiologically bad thing

Someone pulled a Britney – our term in honor of Britney Spears, who in 2006 thought it was OK to change a baby’s diaper on a restaurant table – in Brisbane and the owner wants the mom to never return.

britney-crazy-8Darren Cartwright of the Courier Mail reports a mother of a newborn baby wrote a scathing review on Google about Park Bench Espresso Bar in Bulimba for the reception she received for changing her baby in front of dining customers.

The review first praises the quality of the coffee before taking aim at owner Jocelyn Ridgway and other customers. She says her baby is 12-weeks old and that she put a mat down before changing the nappy.

“I approached her (the manager) upon leaving and asked if she had a problem with my baby and I sitting there. She said in quite a critical tone, that she didn’t think it was appropriate to change my baby there,” the review states.

“To this woman and the 2 other customers who made comments regarding this. Mothers don’t need your judgment or criticism. We have enough pressure and stress we deal with on a daily basis. We rarely get the opportunity to get out and have a coffee amidst the long list of things we are doing for our families every single day.

“I am sorry (not sorry) you are so terribly offended by a tiny baby’s tiny little dirty nappy that you think it necessary to criticise.”

Ms Ridgway told AAP the lady was at the coffee shop for two hours last Friday.

“She was there that long the baby did two poos,” Ms Ridgway said.

“There were people next to her. We had complaints from a group of older women who did not think it was that great.”

The coffee shop is an extension of Green Grass and Home Body retail store which Ms Ridgway started 15 years ago.

diaperThe al fresco area opened up in 2011 and a park, with several sheltered tables, is located directly across the road.

Since Ms Ridgway shared the review on Facebook with friends, she’s said she’s had nothing but support.

“I know in my heart that that was not cool. It’s an etiquette thing. She won’t be back as a customer, that’s fine. I can’t afford to have customers like her anyway,” she said.

2016 Thanksgiving turkey extravaganza combining Canadian, American and whatever it is Australia celebrates in honor of the harvest

Thanksgiving has always been our favorite holiday, a celebration of the feast, but there’s no damn turkeys in Brisbane for Canadian Thanksgiving, and it’s too damn hot to be cooking for American Thanksgiving at the end of November.

history-of-white-people-in-americaThere are also practical considerations.

Whole turkeys have started showing up in Coles and Woolies – the Australian  duopoly — in the past two weeks at about $10/kg; in North America they’re about $2.00/kg, but I may be aging myself.

Five years ago, I specially sourced a whole turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving in early Oct., in Brisbane, and it was about $20/kg. Never again.

Thanksgiving (French: Action de grâce), or Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l’action de grâce) is an annual Canadian holiday, occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year.

Thanksgiving has been officially celebrated as an annual holiday in Canada since November 6, 1879, when parliament passed a law designating a national day of thanksgiving, although the first Canadian Thanksgiving is thought by some to have occurred on Baffin Island in 1578 while some English dudes were looking for the Northwest Passage.

The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

Bloddy Monarchs.

amy-turkey-citrus-16According to wikii, tthe event that Americans commonly call First Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621.[4] This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow[5]—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.[6]

On Sat. Nov. 19 – it was the best date to fit around hockey schedules while accommodating the Canadian feast and the 6-week American orgy of food and shopping that begins this coming Thurs – we gathered 40 of our Australian friends at a local park on the river, and had a feast.

The two 10kg turkeys were purchased on Tues., Nov.15.

They sat on the counter for 12 hours and then 3-4 days in the fridge.

Amy made butter tarts, a carrot salad and a citrus-based turkey the day before.

Saturday, I was on the ice at 6.am. and then came home (sore) to make my bird, a traditional Alton-Brown-based variety (I like his science).

I took Amy to the park at 11ish a.m., to stake out BBQ and table space. (Brisbane has fabulous parks, especially along the river, because they have a 500-year-flood every 50 years, so parks better than houses. These parks have the best bathrooms, sanitation and free BBQs than in any other city I’ve been in.)

By our 1 p.m. start time, I had two turkeys, a gluten-free and a regular dressing (because it wasn’t inside the bird), and the best gravy I’ve ever made.

When I delivered to the park, people had started assembling, kids were running around, the river breezes were cool as Brisbane moves into summer,

dpturkey-16As I had written to our guests in the invite, “Think of it as a giant pot-luck, but you better practice decent food safety – no raw egg dishes, including homemade mayo, aioli or sauces – or your dish is consigned to the bin and covered in bleach (because that’s how health inspectors roll).

“The deal is, we’ve invited a bunch of people, and we’ll do it at Tennyson Park so the kids can run around.

Amy and I along with the capable assistance of chef Alex will bring the tip-sensitive digital thermometer-verified safe turkey (and gravy, you can’t overcook a turkey, that’s what the gravy’s for). Two kinds of stuffing – one gluten-free, one regular, which will be cooked outside of the bird (food safety 101).

thanksgiving-nov-16I mangled the turkey Amy cooked Friday night, and once I had started carving into the one I cooked Saturday a.m., a hockey parent who knows his why around a bird kindly asked, ”Would you like me to take over?

“Yes.”

The other families bring something: rolls, mashed potatoes, salad, cooked carrots, green beans, apple pie, beverages, cutlery, whatever, as long as it is microbiologically safe. And wash your damn hands before everyone gets hepatitis A (we’re vaccinated, the rest are on your own; for a pre-meal vindication, I can explain how hep A is spread amongst humans).

Oh, and I’ve got a face for radio and a voice for print. But it was fun.

However, in the videobelow,  I was trying to say, “You may know me because I coach your kid in hockey,” not “hit your kid in hockey.

Editing.

We are thankful to have so many and great friends in Brisbane.

Yes, your cat is trying to kill you: Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella found in Australian cat

Microbiology is not a Marvel comic strip: Not every bacteria is a superbug.

data-spotResistance is not futile.

But it is normal.

A drug-resistant salmonella strain that could infect humans and livestock has been found in Australia for the first time.

The salmonella superbug was discovered in an infected cat after it was taken from a shelter to a Sydney vet last year with a suspected gut infection, ABC News reported.

The ‘highly transferrable’ bacteria is resistant to carbapenems- a life-saving drug used in Australian hospitals.

This rare drug resistance could pose a serious threat to public health, experts believe.

‘This is the first time that a salmonella strain with resistance to most drugs has been reported in any Australian domestic animal and it is a significant concern to public health, Dr Sam Abraham told the publication.

Mr Abraham led a study into the risks of the dangerous salmonella strain with a team of veterinary and medical researchers.

He describes the bacteria as a ‘superbug’ because it has picked up a piece of DNA that gives it ‘super powers or resistance to about nine classes of drugs that we usually use to treat humans and animals’.

The study led by Abraham has been accepted for publication in Scientific Reports.

So what? It’s not like other mortals can see it. Publication before press release. Otherwise, Cake has it covered (NSFV).

Same with the U.S. election.

But is it (microbiologically) safe?

Mangoes are coming into season.

Australian egg producers are flogging studies saying that eggs are OK to eat every day.

duhBut are they safe?

And the pork producers have a national 6-2-2 campaign:

Discover the secret to the perfect pork steak with our new 6-2-2 campaign.

  1. Take a 2cm pork steak (sirloin, leg, scotch fillet or medallion).
  2. Pre-heat a pan, griddle pan or BBQ plate just like you would for any other steak.
  3. Cook the pork steak on one side, without turning, for 6 minutes.
  4. Turn it over once and allow it to cook for 2 more minutes. This method will cook the steak to just white but if you prefer it cooked pink, just reduce the cooking time.
  5. Remove the steak from the pan and rest for 2 minutes. Resting allows the juices to settle and produces a more tender and juicy result.
  6. Remember the simple rule for next time: 6 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other and 2 minutes to rest = the 10 minute pork steak.

(No accounting for variations in cooking devices, just use a damn thermometer and take out the guesswork.)

All at the same time as Australia’s annual food safety week began with this year’s theme , raw and risky (sounds familiar).

The NSW Food Authority is throwing its support behind the Food Safety Information Council’s Food Safety Week 2016 that commences today Sunday 6 November, urging NSW consumers not to become one of the estimated 4.1 million people affected by food poisoning each year in Australia.

Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said the theme of this year’s Australian Food Safety Week “Raw and risky” is a timely and apt reminder that some foods carry more risk than others.

“Recent years have seen major food poisoning outbreaks linked to risky raw foods such as unpasteurised cow’s milk, raw egg dishes, bean/seed sprouts, frozen berries and lettuce,” Dr Szabo said.

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