Rolling wheel of cheese blamed for infant’s injuries

Canada has enough musical embarrassments to apologize for.

Now my home and native land is apologizing for cheese wheels.

cheese-rollingJason Proctor of CBC News reports an out-of-control five-kilogram wheel of aged farmhouse cheddar is being blamed for breaking an infant’s leg in a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit arising from a Whistler cheese-rolling competition.

In a notice of civil claim filed by her guardian, Juli Nonaka claims she was injured on Blackcomb Mountain in August during the ninth annual running of the Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival.

“As the plaintiff was watching the event from behind a safety net on the premises, a cheese wheel came rolling down the hill and stretched the safety net colliding with the plaintiff, causing her to be knocked to the ground and sustain injury, loss and damage,” the claim reads.

Nonaka is suing the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Smak Media and Promotions and Vail Resorts, the U.S. Company which owns Whistler Blackcomb.

According to cheese-rolling historians, humans may have been chasing wheels of cheese down steep slopes since pagan times. Written accounts of cheese-rolling date back nearly 200 years.

The most famous event is held at Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in England, where competitors chase a wheel of Double Gloucester down an incline as sharp as a 40-year-old block of cheddar.

An orange-hued cheese with a natural rind, Double Gloucester gets very hard as it ages, which is thought to be why it became associated with cheese rolling. Cheese speeds can reach more than 100 kilometres an hour.

Not surprisingly, the history of cheese rolling is replete with tales of injury.

According to cheeserolling.com, 22 people were injured at Cooper’s Hill during the “cheese chase chaos” of 1990, including a 59-year-old woman knocked unconscious.

And in 1997, more than 33 people were wounded when things went awry, leading to a delay — but not the cancellation — of the women’s event.

 

Raw is risky: Canada reports 1st case this year of illness linked to eating raw oysters

CBC News reports British Columbia has recorded its first case this year of someone being sickened by eating raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio bacteria.

oysters.grillThe B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) said the illness was reported June 30 in the Vancouver area.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria grow in seawater and can end up in shellfish like oysters and clams. When water temperatures rise in the summer, the accumulations of the naturally occurring bacteria increase to the point that eating undercooked shellfish can give people nausea, fever and diarrhea.

Last year’s outbreak of the Vibrio-caused illness was the biggest in Canadian history and sickened at least 73 British Columbians. Sixty of the illnesses were due to eating contaminated raw or undercooked B.C. oysters in restaurants. The other 13 illnesses were traced to exposure to seawater with high levels of the bacteria.

At the height of the outbreak last summer, Vancouver Coastal Health ordered restaurants not to serve raw oysters harvested from B.C. waters and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a food recall for B.C. oysters. 

“Eating raw shellfish increases your risk of Vibrio and other infections,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, epidemiologist at the BCCDC, in a release.  

“It’s best to eat them cooked, but if you choose to eat raw shellfish like oysters, then understand the risks and take steps to reduce your likelihood of illness.”

Meanwhile, Florida health officials have reported 13 Vibrio vulnificus cases as of July 5, including four fatalities thus far in 2016.

Last year, Florida saw 45 cases and 14 deaths, the most since 2003.

Healthy individuals typically develop a mild disease; however, Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish.  (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun)   [PNG Merlin Archive]

So don’t be a drunk and eat raw.

I BBQ them, and prefer scallops on the half-shell.

In other Virbrio news, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have uncovered a mechanism that a type of pathogenic bacteria found in shellfish use to sense when they are in the human gut, where they release toxins that cause food poisoning.

The researchers studied Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a globally spread, Gram-negative bacterium that contaminates shellfish in warm saltwater during the summer. The bacterium thrives in coastal waters and is the world’s leading cause of acute gastroenteritis.

“During recent years, rising temperatures in the ocean have contributed to this pathogen’s worldwide dissemination,” said Dr. Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, published today in the online journal eLife.

About a dozen Vibrio species cause infection in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus is one of the three most common culprits. Vibrio infections cause an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year.

The study found that two proteins made by Vibrio parahaemolyticus work together to detect and capture bile salts in the intestines of people who eat raw or undercooked seafood containing the bacteria.

“When a person eats, acids in the stomach help break down the meal, and bile salts in the intestine aid in the solubilization of fatty food. When humans eat raw or undercooked shellfish contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, the bacteria use those same bile salts as a signal to release toxins,” said Dr. Orth, also an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), holder of the Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science, and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research. Dr. Orth studies the strategies that bacterial pathogens use to outsmart their host cells.

Evidence is increasing that several bacterial pathogens that cause gastrointestinal illness, including the extremely toxic Vibrio cholerae, sense bile salts. But until now, the mechanism that those pathogens use for doing this has remained unknown, Dr. Orth said. In previous studies, only one bacterial gene had been implicated in receiving and transmitting the gut-sensing signal, Dr. Orth said.

“We discovered that not one, but two genes are required for Vibrio to receive the bile salt signal. These genes encode two proteins that form a complex on the surface of the bacterial membrane. Using X-ray crystallography, we found that these proteins create a barrel-like structure that binds bile salts and receives the signal to tell the bacterial cell to start making toxins,” she said.

Future experiments will aim to understand how binding of bile salt by this protein complex induces the release of toxins.

“Ultimately, we want to understand how other pathogenic bacteria sense environmental cues to produce toxins. With this knowledge, we might be able to design pharmaceuticals that could prevent toxin production, and ultimately avoid the damaging effects of infections,” she said.

The receptor pair could possibly act as a model to discover sensors in other bacteria where pharmaceuticals might be more applicable, Dr. Orth said, adding “we are in the early stages of this research.”

Co-lead authors were graduate student Peng Li and research scientist Dr. Giomar Rivera-Cancel, both in Molecular Biology. Other contributing authors included Dr. Lisa Kinch, an HHMI bioinformatics specialist; Dr. Dor Salomon, postdoctoral researcher; Dr. Diana Tomchick, Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry and Director of the Structural Biology Core Facility; and Dr. Nick Grishin, Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry, an HHMI Investigator, and a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Biomedical Research.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Welch Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the HHMI.

And finally, bacterial infections from various organisms including Vibrio sp. pose a serious hazard to humans in many forms from clinical infection to affecting the yield of agriculture and aquaculture via infection of livestock. Vibrio sp. is one of the main foodborne pathogens causing human infection and is also a common cause of losses in the aquaculture industry. Prophylactic and therapeutic usage of antibiotics has become the mainstay of managing this problem, however this in turn led to the emergence of multidrug resistant strains of bacteria in the environment; which has raised awareness of the critical need for alternative non antibiotic based methods of preventing and treating bacterial infections. Bacteriophages – viruses that infect and result in the death of bacteria – are currently of great interest as a highly viable alternative to antibiotics. This article provides an insight into bacteriophage application in controlling Vibrio species as well underlining the advantages and drawbacks of phage therapy.

Insights into bacteriophage application in controlling Vibrio species

Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01114

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01114/abstract

Vengadesh Letchumanan,  Kok Gan Chan,  Priyia Pusparajah,  Surasak Saokaew,  Acharaporn Duangjai,  Bey Hing Goh,  Nurul-Syakima Ab Mutalib and  Learn-Han Lee

I’m not your guy, pal: Raw oysters risky for wine drinkers

When Canada’s food safety agency announced a recall of B.C. oysters last August, it meant producers like Steve Pocock had to ensure every last oyster they had shipped after a certain date was accounted for.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish.  (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun)   [PNG Merlin Archive]

Along with a recall – issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) after dozens of people got sick as a result of eating raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus – there was a ban on restaurants serving raw oysters from British Columbia.

The inconvenience and forgone sales added up to a big hit for Mr. Pocock and other producers in British Columbia’s oyster sector.

Over the past few months, they have been working to prevent a repeat scenario.

“The recall had a very serious impact on our industry – and it should be taken very seriously,” Mr. Pocock said in a recent interview. He owns and operates Sawmill Bay Shellfish and is also president of the BC Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“And I’m not just talking about the farmers; I’m talking about everyone right through to the server in the restaurant,” he added.

A workshop last November spawned a national working group focused on Vibrio with representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and provincial health authorities.

That group developed a prevention program for Vibrio, focusing on education, enhanced testing and improved communication between producers and government agencies.

On the education front, workshops for producers emphasized measures to control Vibrio, such as proper refrigeration during transport.

Oysters represent a relatively small chunk of British Columbia’s aquaculture sales – $13-million, compared with $380.4-million for salmon, according to a 2015 report by British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture – but are prized for their taste and local appeal.

“Shellfish are an important part of our business, and especially in the summertime, when patios are open, [oysters] go great with wine and it was disappointing we were unable to offer B.C. product for raw consumption,” said Guy Dean, vice-president of seafood distributor Albion Fisheries.

Yeah, especially since Vibrio produces a toxin that attacks the weak livers of persistent wine drinkers.

Raw is risky.

And this Guy ain’t your buddy. Or friend.

Raw is risky: 4 sick with Salmonella in Canada linked to raw pet food

Pet owners are being warned Saturday after an outbreak of Salmonella has been found in connection with raw pet food.

sadie.dog.powellAs of Friday afternoon, four British Columbians who feed their pets raw food diets have all become infected with the same strain of Salmonella. The BC Centre for Disease Control said the exact source of the Salmonella is unknown, but investigations are currently underway.

Marketing microbial food safety, BC style

That’s British Columbia, a province in Canada, not before Christ, although food purchases are almost entirely faith-based.

jesus_eating_the_foodB.C.’s Public Health Act’s food premises regulation was amended in 2013 to require written food safety and sanitation plans from processors. The plans are a set of procedures to help prevent or reduce safety hazards, which can cause food poisoning.

The new rules will be enforced by March 2016, but out of the 5,500 food processors across B.C., about 4,900 of them are going to need to improve their food safety plans.

Steve Burthon, software architect with the Richmond-based tech startup ICICLE, has toured many facilities in B.C. and believes that implementation, which has faced a two-year delay, will most likely face more because of the number of processors still catching up.

“The thing most consumers do is when they walk into a supermarket they make the assumption the products on the shelves are safe,” he said. “When you walk into a store you can easily identify what’s GMO, vegan, gluten-free, but there’s no way of knowing that the product purchased is from a company that takes food safety seriously.”

Burthon said most processors who supply products to retailers have no food safety program in place, or it is limited.

Florida Vibrio vulnificus cases reach 30, Canadian growers upset with ban

As the number of Vibrio cases in Florida hit 30, and 81 in western Canada in a separate outbreak, producers of shellfish in B.C. say they cutting jobs because of a month-long raw oyster ban in Vancouver.

BC.oystersRoberta Stevenson, executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association says producers are testing the oysters and they meet health requirements, so the ban should be lifted.

“They are tested five times more than they used to be with the new Health Canada guidelines that are more stringent. So we are 100 per cent confident that before those oysters leave that processing plant they are completely safe to eat,” she said.

Local oysters are being sold to customers in the rest of Canada and to the U.S., Stevenson said, so she doesn’t understand why Vancouver Coastal Health isn’t lifting the ban.

If you’re so confident in your data, make it pubic and market food safety at retail.

“We will lift the order when public health officials in B.C. are satisfied that oyster conditions in coastal waters are not at a level to be a food safety concern,” said Vancouver Coastal Health in a statement.

81 sick: Vibrio outbreak linked to raw oysters grows in Canada’s west

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports 5 additional cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus that have been reported in British Columbia (4), and Saskatchewan (1).

Coos Bay Oyster Co.PHAC is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Health Canada to investigate 81 Canadian cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario linked to raw shellfish. The majority of the illnesses have been linked to eating raw oysters.

The risk to Canadians is low, and illnesses can be avoided if shellfish are cooked before being eaten. People with weakened immune systems, young children, pregnant women and older adults are at increased risk for developing complications if they get sick.

Individuals became sick between May 26 and August 26, 2015 and all reported consumption of raw shellfish, primarily oysters.

Based on the investigation of the foodborne illness outbreak by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, oysters harvested from British Columbia coastal waters for raw consumption on or before August 18, 2015 have been recalled from the marketplace. See the food recall warning for more information on the recalled products that were distributed nationally. Consumers should not consume the recalled products.

Canadian girl survives life-threatening E. coli

A Medicine Hat family was vacationing in British Columbia last month when their 10-year-old daughter became ill.

ella.kettlesHer mom Angela took her to hospital where a stool sample was taken and for the next few days they waited. Angela Kettles says, “the day before we were supposed to go back to Medicine Hat, we got a phone call from the doctor at Invermere Hospital confirming what Ella had was E. coli poisoning.

When the Kettles to returned to Medicine Hat, Angela took her daughter to see the doctor as a precaution. The physician told Angela the strain Ella was suffering from was the life-threatening and could lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome that occurs in about 10% of those infected with E. coli.

With Ella’s potassium levels skyrocketing, doctors became concerned about her heart. When she heard the news Angela said, “I was scared, we were all scared.”

Ella was immediately airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary for emergency surgery. Ella says, “I was scared when the told me I was going to go to Calgary.”

Ella was anemic and her kidneys began to shut down from the deadly toxins. Her blood platelets, which are required for normal blood clotting, fell and became trapped in the tiny blood clots. Ella was forced to endure painful dialysis every hour for 2 days. Her family wasn’t sure she would survive.

Angela and her husband spent 2 agonizing weeks at Ella’s bedside. “She was in so much pain, as a parent it was just awful to sit there and see her go through this.”

To the Kettles’ relief, Ella began to recover. Two weeks ago she was discharged from hospital and came back home to Medicine Hat to resume her life.

No one is sure how she came in contact with E. coli.

31 sick: Restaurants ordered to cook all oysters from B.C.

Vancouver Coastal Health has ordered restaurants to stop serving raw oysters from local waters in response to a rising tide of foodborne illness caused by vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria that naturally occurs in shellfish.

BC.oystersAccording to an advisory issued Wednesday, 31 cases connected to raw oysters have been reported in B.C. so far this year, although the actual number is likely much higher because not all cases are reported.

Symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, vomiting and fever that can last up to a week.

VCH has ordered restaurants to cook all B.C. oysters and said only oysters from outside the province can be served raw. The order comes as the BC Centre for Disease Control issued a similar warning asking consumers to avoid eating locally harvested oysters raw.

“Normally we see between eight and 10 cases in (June and July),” said Marsha Taylor, an epidemiologist with the BCCDC. “So there has been a really notable increase this year.”