Salmonella in deep-fried ice cream sickens 100 in Brisbane: Happy Chinese New Year

Deep-fried ice cream sounds like something from a U.S. state fair, where everything is deep-fried, but in times of relative truths, decreasing skepticism and declining media coverage, the idea that over 100 people in Brisbane are sick from Salmonella, and that I found out about it from a hockey parent rather than public-health types is disturbing.

deep-fried-icecream-112Or the new normal.

We have a paper coming out in April about the importance of going public with health information, so fewer people barf, but that lesson is increasingly lost.

Part of that paper includes a couple of Australian outbreaks: When 264 were sickened at a principals conference in Brisbane because they were fed some raw-egg dip, and when over 100 people were sickened with deep-fried ice cream at Chin-Chins in Brisbane in 2015.

There has been no public reporting that I can find, but at some time, public-health types and bureaucrats will realize they are paid by taxpayers, their job is to prevent people barf, not cover and hide.

According to a hockey parent, 15 teachers are out at their son’s school after dining on deep-fried ice cream in the Sunnybank suburb of Brisbane a week or so ago.

The diagnosis is Salmonella and over 100 are believed to be sickened.

Or maybe it’s just fake news, but everyone has a camera and social media, so these stories spread.

Maybe our public health types, or their bosses, with their supers (RSP) can take some steps to protect public health, rather than their own asses.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-2-15.xlsx=


 

Melt the Ice: Because it’s 32C and we’re playing hockey

School holidays, the equivalent of summer holidays for our friends in the Northern Hemisphere, end Monday and the kids go back to school.

bec-doug-mti-hockey-jan-17The four days before the end of summer holidays are devoted to the Melt-the-Ice tournament in neighbouring Boondall.

We were there for 6 a.m.today, and came home with a win and a loss. More games over the weekend.

This is assistant coach Bec and I going over strategies before the second game while the players waited to get on the ice. That’s Sorenne on the far right (Bec was showing me pictures of her newly almost completed deck; photo credit to assistant coach Zoe).

Go Stars.

 

Filthy food habits cost Perth Woolworths $100,000

I prefer to shop at Coles, but there is a few things I get from Woolies, especially since it’s on the way to and from school. She has a preference for tiger bread (I know it’s just white bread with stripes, but it’s on her way to swimming which is a decent bike ride, followed by an hour of laps, so for an 8-year-old, I’m not concerned about the empty calories.

woolworths-crusty-tiger-breadEmma Young of The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Woolworths at Madeley’s Kingsway City must cough up $100,000-plus after numerous public health offences.

The conviction will result in a fine of $95,000 and costs of $7000 to Woolworths, which the City of Wanneroo began inspecting in October 2015 after a member of the public complained about their Woolworths brand Crusty Tiger Loaf, which was found to be ‘unsuitable for sale.’

“The inspection found that Woolworths were not in compliance with a number of food standard codes,” planning and sustainability director Mark Dickson said.

Woolworths was found to have failed to ensure its food handlers were skilled in food safety and food hygiene. It also failed to store food to protect it from contamination, failed to keep the store and its equipment clean and failed to “process only safe and suitable food”. 

Evidence of pests was also found.

Woolworths pleaded guilty to all charges.

“The City’s follow-up inspections found that the issues were rectified,” Mr Dickson said.

No more tiger bread.

One dead, six hospitalised with Listeria in Australian food poisoning surge

Emily Woods of the Age reports one person has died and at least six others have been taken to hospital with listeria during a surge in food poisoning cases in the weeks before Christmas.

listeria4The tragedy is one of seven cases of listeria reported in the last three weeks, although none are believed to be linked.

Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Finn Romanes advised doctors and other health professionals to “educate at-risk patients” about safe food-handling and which foods to avoid.

The department was unable to reveal further details about the patient’s death.

The seven recent cases are among 25 that have been reported in Victoria so far this year. In 2015, there were 22 cases of listeria in the state. 

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the incidents were a timely reminder for pregnant women, and other at-risk people, in the days leading up to Christmas.

“Food-borne illnesses typically increase during the summer months, when bacteria can multiply quickly. With a recent rise in listeriosis notifications it’s particularly important pregnant women take extra precautions this Christmas,” Ms Hennessy said.

“Pregnant women should remain vigilant and avoid eating salads prepared well in advance of consumption, cold seafood and cold deli meats, soft cheeses, soft-serve ice cream, dips and any unpasteurised dairy products.”

All of the other patients have since left hospital and are recovering. 

Brisbane KFC fined $45000 after 2015 inspection

Kate McKenna of The Courier Mail reports a Brisbane City Council health inspector not-so-finger-licking good things at a KFC store in Chermside shopping centre’s food court in March 2015.

kfc-massacreFast food restaurant operator Collins Restaurants Management was slapped with a $45,000 fine in the Brisbane Magistrates Court earlier this month after pleading guilty to six breaches of food health laws.

According to court documents, an audit on March 4, 2015, uncovered live cockroaches in locations around the kitchen including on the surface under the preparation bench, and beneath the wall capping next to the crumbing station.

The council officer found a live cockroach found on the door handle of the freezer that stored the chips, as well as 30 to 40 live critters under the gravy and mash potato bain-marie.

Other violations included no warm running water at the only hand-wash basin in the premises and a build-up of food waste on the floor.

Council prosecutor Mark Thomas said there was substantial cockroach activity in a number of places, and council was seeking a $55,000 fine against CRM, which had no prior convictions.

Ralph Devlin, QC, for CRM, said the open nature of food courts posed unique issues for food retailers because pest control could drive insects from one spot to another.

He said the company had taken swift action and closed the store following the discovery, threw out stock, stripped and cleaned equipment, and enlisted pest control to “mist” the area.

Acting Magistrate Robert Walker handed down a $45,000 fine and decided not to record a conviction against the company.

 

Risk-based: Foodborne illness strategy in Australia

Foodborne illness is a global public health burden. Over the past decade in Australia, despite advances in microbiological detection and control methods, there has been an increase in the incidence of foodborne illness. Therefore improvements in the regulation and implementation of food safety policy are crucial for protecting public health.

aust-food-safetyIn 2000, Australia established a national food safety regulatory system, which included the adoption of a mandatory set of food safety standards. These were in line with international standards and moved away from a “command and control” regulatory approach to an “outcomes-based” approach using risk assessment. The aim was to achieve national consistency and reduce foodborne illness without unnecessarily burdening businesses.

Evidence demonstrates that a risk based approach provides better protection for consumers; however, sixteen years after the adoption of the new approach, the rates of food borne illness are still increasing. Currently, food businesses are responsible for producing safe food and regulatory bodies are responsible for ensuring legislative controls are met. Therefore there is co-regulatory responsibility and liability and implementation strategies need to reflect this. This analysis explores the challenges facing food regulation in Australia and explores the rationale and evidence in support of this new regulatory approach.

Australian food safety policy changes from a “command and control” to an “outcomes-based” approach: Reflection on the effectiveness of its implementation

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(12), 1218; doi:10.3390/ijerph13121218

James Smith, Kirstin Ross and Harriet Whiley

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/13/12/1218/htm

Darwin parents urged to vacuum up gecko and frog poo amid spike in Salmonella cases

Darwin is in northern Australia.

It’s close to the equator.

geckoIt’s hot.

ABC News reports Top End parents are being urged to vacuum up tiny brown and white droppings of gecko poo amid an above-average rise in salmonella cases affecting young children.

Darwin annually records above national average rates of salmonella, especially among children under five during the humid months around Christmas.

This wet season is no different, however the past month has seen an unexpected rise in cases.

“We’re getting about 50 per cent more than we’d expect at the moment,” Dr Peter Markey, head of disease surveillance at the NT Centre for Disease Control, said.

There are many different strands of salmonella, with the disease’s spread generally linked to contaminated food, warm conditions, polluted water, unclean surfaces and the spread of faecal matter.

Symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration, with children and the elderly especially badly affected.

Dr Markey said Top End-specific research conducted by the centre in recent years had identified many well-known risk factors.

“We’ve isolated salmonella from geckos, lizards, snakes. Dogs and cats and turtles are important carriers too. Goldfish even, because aquarium water can be contaminated.”

Dr Markey said young children handling pets and then not washing their hands would often lead to them getting sick, however some might be getting sick from actually eating tiny animal faeces.

Gecko poo is generally elongated and brown, sometimes with a tip of white, and is often mistaken for mouse or rat droppings.

“Toddlers of course live on the ground and crawl around and put anything in their mouths,” Dr Markey said.

“We showed that regular vacuuming can help.

“It’s important to get that gecko poo or the frog poo off the ground or balcony.”

 

Surveys still suck: Australians identify ingredients hate list, so retailers can make a buck

Nielsen research has found almost half of Australian consumers wish there were more “all natural” food products on supermarket shelves.

trump-snake-oilA reflection of the way the question was asked.

Would you like all natural food products that contained dangerous microorganisms?

Probably not.

The findings from the Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey show Australians are adopting a “back-to-basics mindset”, focusing on simple ingredients says Nielsen.

Close to nine in 10 respondents said they avoid specific ingredients because they believe them to be harmful to their own or their family’s health, while six in 10 consumers said they are concerned about the long-term health impact of artificial ingredients in their diet.

“Informed and savvy consumers are demanding more from the foods they eat and are happy to pay more if they believe it is better for them,” said Michael Elam-Rye, associate director – retail at Nielsen.

They are not informed; they are responding to what grocery stores, TV, the Internet and friends tell them.

But in a Donald Trump era, it’s a fact-free world.

Trump won because he told people what they wanted to hear.

People embrace natural foods and are anti-vaccine because someone is telling them what they want to hear.

It’s seductive.

And it’s big bucks for the purveyors of food porn – farmers, processors, retailers – especially retailers – and media outlets that make a buck telling people what they want to hear.

I get it. I’ve always said – since I was about 20-years-old – getting attention in the public domain is a mixture of style and substance. Scientists can work on their style, everyone else can work on their substance (and just because you eat does not make you an expert).

But substance has to win out, about 60-40.

It’s a peculiarity that society expects bridges and other engineering feats, along with medicine, to be exceeding current and revolutionary, yet many expect to produce food as in the old days.

trump-special-kind-stupidIt’s not peculiar: it’s advertising, messaging and manipulation.

John Defore writes about a new documentary Food Evolution, which defends the place of genetically engineered food in agriculture.

Neil deGrasse Tyson – who seamlessly blends the 60-40 suggestion of substance over style – and director Scott Hamilton Kennedy challenge enviro-activist orthodoxy, much in the same way I’ve been doing for 30 years.

But they’re more skilled at the style.

Food Evolution sounds on paper like it might be one of those hack-job rebuttals in which moneyed right-wing interests disguise propaganda as a documentary. Many on the left will likely dismiss it as such, which is a shame … the movie makes an excellent case against those who seek blanket prohibitions against genetically modified organisms — and … against those of us who support such bans just because we assume it’s the eco-conscious thing to do.

[I]t investigates the motives of some prominent anti-GMO activists — like those who are “very entrepreneurial,” finding ways to make money off fears the film believes are baseless, or like researcher Chuck Benbrook, whose work was financed by companies making billions from customers afraid of GMOs.

Hope bridges don’t start falling down because people want them more natural.

The folks who did the survey say, “This presents an opportunity for food manufacturers to increase share by offering and marketing products that are formulated with good-for-you ingredients, and an opportunity for retailers to trade consumers up with more premium priced products.”

snakeoilTell lies. Bend rules. Make a buck.

Trump is the embodiment for the times.

Top 10 ingredients Australian consumers avoid:

Antibiotics/hormones in animals products

MSG

Artificial preservatives

Artificial flavours

Artificial sweeteners

Foods with BPA packaging

Artificial colours

Sugar

Genetically modified foods

Sodium

I avoid dangerous microorganisms, which sicken 1-out-of-8 people every year.

That’s a lot of barfing.

And it’s not on the list.

Data says so: Australia does have a raw egg problem

Statistics show that the consumption of foods containing raw or minimally cooked eggs is currently the single largest source of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks in Australia.

garlic_aioliI based a large part of my research career on verifying the soundbite, ‘we have released guidelines’ or, ‘we follow all recommendations’ by arranging to have students see what actually goes on.

In October 2014, the New South Wales Food Authority released Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products (the Guidelines). Despite this, outbreaks continued to take place, particularly where business hygiene and temperature control issues were apparent. In addition, businesses and councils approached the Food Authority for advice on desserts containing raw eggs and other unusual raw egg dishes. As a result, the Guidelines were recently updated and give specific reference to Standard 3.2.2, Division 3, clause 7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure that only safe and suitable food is processed.

To reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella, retail businesses are advised to avoid selling food containing raw or minimally cooked eggs. The Guidelines give food businesses that do sell food containing raw egg specific safety steps for its preparation and clear guidance and advice on what they must do to meet food safety regulations. The revised Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products is available at www. foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/ retail/raw_egg_guidelines.pdf.

raw-eggsOr as the Australian Food Safety Information Council now says, buy, don’t make aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nice but of no use to consumers at a restaurant who order fish and chips  with a side of mayo or aioli. I’ve already begun an ad hoc investigation – because I don’t want my family to get sick – and can say that out of the 15 times I’ve asked over the past few years – is the aioli or mayo made at the restaurant or bought commercially – the server invariably returns and proclaims, We only use raw eggs in our aioli or mayo.

Wrong answer.

Only once, so far, has an owner or chef said, we know of the risk, we only use the bought stuff. And they’re ex-pat Canadians.

Giv’r, eh.

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

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.