Pasteurization works, and Salmonella is not a magical ingredient of raw milk

My version of the 90-10 rule: 90 per cent of time is spent on 10 per cent of participants, whether it’s hockey parents, graduate students, or public health.

napoleon.raw.milkSo once again, raw milk and cream produced by a Fresno County-based dairy company were recalled Monday due to salmonella, the California Department of Food and Agriculture said.

Salmonella was detected by the CDFA in Organic Pastures Dairy’s Raw Heavy Cream, Raw Whole Milk and Raw Skim Milk with the “USE BY” date of June 1, 2016.

The dairy products should be immediately pulled from retail shelves and consumers are urged to throw out any products in their homes, the CDFA said.

The salmonella bacteria was found during a follow-up test to an earlier recall. On May 9, Organic Pastures Dairy’s products with “USE BY” date May 18, 2016, were recalled also due to salmonella.

Red-yellow-green for Calif.’s Contra Costa restaurants

Starting with the 20 on-site inspections completed laws week, Contra Costa’’s Environmental Health Department is now giving the 4,000-some restaurants, grocery stores, delis, conveniencemarts and gas station heat-lamp operations physical placards showing whether that establishment fully passes (green) or is on “conditional” status (yellow).

placard-types-400x455If major problems like vermin infestations, lack of hot water or improper storage temperatures result in an order to close, such establishments can be assigned a red placard until the problems are solved.

For Contra Costa Environmental Health Department Director Marilyn Underwood, it’s largely a matter of consistency. Alameda County, with the exception of the city of Berkeley, has since July 2012 used a color-coded placard system much like the one Contra Costa has adopted with green (pass), yellow (conditional pass) and red (closed) given to the county’s 6,000 restaurants, grocery stores and other places food is sold.

In 2014, Santa Clara County adopted a similar system showing inspection results for its 8,000 vendors. The only Bay Area county that doesn’t do this or something similar, Underwood said, is San Francisco.

“People here live in one area and commute to other areas, and we wanted a consistent look to what people see,” she said.

Also, having a vendor’s rating posted publicly should encourage them to clean up their acts, literally, and may result in more clients reporting problems they see.

To see more about the Contra Costa placard program, go to http://cchealth.org/eh/retail-food/placard.php

More information on the Alameda County program is available at www.acgov.org/aceh/food/grading.htm

Details on Santa Clara County’s placard program can be found at www.sccgov.org/sites/cpd/programs/fsp/Pages/Placarding.aspx

Going public: 10 sick with E. coli O157 linked to raw milk in California

Apparently I wasn’t imagining when I wrote the Spongebob cone of silence – usually reserved for leafy greens, cantaloupes and sometimes tomatoes — had finally been lifted on an E. coli O157 outbreak involving raw milk in California.

spongebob.oil_.colbert.may3_.10Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno County voluntarily recalled its raw milk in Jan. 2016 after internal tests found evidence of E. coli. The tainted milk caused at least 10 illnesses, with six of those victims reporting they drank Organic Pastures raw milk, said California Department of Public Health officials on Mar. 1, 2016.

The victims all had closely related strains of E. coli O157, the health department said.

Dairy owner Mark McAfee said that in early January the company voluntarily recalled the milk within 36 hours of determining the presence of E. coli.

At the time of the last announcement, CDPH types told Healthy Magician the state health department is continuing to investigate the outbreak, but will not provide specific details.

“The environmental investigation is ongoing. CDPH has collected a large number of samples including feces, water and raw milk, which are still undergoing evaluation at the department’s Food and Drug Laboratory Branch,” the CDPH spokesman said via email.

When they are available, the department will not release them until the investigation is finished, the CDPH spokesman said last Tuesday.

The department has not published any statements about the outbreak or investigation.

“CDPH does not routinely post in-process updates on its active investigations,” the department’s spokesman said via email. “If the public needs to be alerted about an adulterated food, CDPH will issue a Health Advisory warning consumers of the food that should be avoided.

colbert.raw_.milk_“In this case, the outbreak was identified and the voluntary recall issued by the firm after the shelf-life of the product had expired. Since no product was believed to remain in the marketplace, no health alert was issued.”

However, legal eagle Bill Marler got his hands on a summary of the investigation dated March 3, 2013. The report concludes:

Evidence collected to date, indicates that cattle in the OPDC milking herd were shedding E. coli O157 that matched PFGE patterns associated with ten illnesses in January 2016. In early January 2016, Cow 149 produced milk contaminated with E. coli O157 which may have been bottled and shipped to the public. Feces, soil, and water collected from OPDC on February 8, 2016 tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, and PFGE patterns for those isolates also matched those patterns associated with the illnesses. The collection of environmental samples from OPDC on February 8, 2016 focused on feces likely deposited on February 6, 7, and 8. It is unlikely that the positive findings from February 8, 2016 represent conditions linked entirely to Co 149. The isolation of E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli from cattle used to produce raw milk for human consumption is concerning and could result in additional illness to raw milk consumers in the future if not addressed at the dairy.

Faith-based food safety: Slaughterhouse owner sentenced for selling meat from sick cattle

A California slaughterhouse owner who admitted ordering the sale of meat from ailing and uninspected cattle — leading to a nationwide recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef and veal products in 2014 — was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison.

Rancho-Feeding-CorpJesse Amaral, 78, of Petaluma, former president of Rancho Feeding Corp., pleaded guilty a year ago to conspiracy to distribute adulterated and misbranded meat. Robert Singleton, owner of Rancho Veal Corp., which purchased cattle for the Petaluma slaughterhouse, and two slaughterhouse employees have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing in March.

Amaral admitted ordering employees between 2012 and January 2014 to process cattle that had been condemned by a government veterinarian — meaning they were unfit for human consumption — and to avoid full inspection of cattle suffering from epitherlioma, or eye cancer.

Prosecutors said he told the employees to deceive inspectors by putting the heads of cows that had been healthy next to the carcasses of decapitated cows that had eye cancer. He also directed employees to use carvers to remove “condemned” stamps from cattle carcasses, prosecutors said. Amaral also admitted sending fraudulent invoices to cattle farmers telling them their cattle had died or had been condemned rather than slaughtered and sold.

Why a neurotoxin is closing crab season in California

State officials have closed both recreational and commercial fishing for Dungeness and rock crab on the California coast north of Santa Barbara to the Oregon border, due to a large algae bloom that’s making the crab unsafe for consumption.

California's Dungeness crabsThe bloom, created by an organism called Pseudo-nitzschia, produces a neurotoxin called domoic acid that can build up in marine life. It causes vomiting, diarrhea and cramping in humans — and even death, in severe cases.

California’s Dungeness crabs are shipped across the U.S. and internationally, and the $60 million fishery is considered vital to the region’s small fishermen. Both the commercial and recreational fishery will open as soon as test samples show the crab is safe.

Clarissa Anderson, a research scientist at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told NPR this bloom has been unprecedented in its extent and its persistence. It started in May and continued on to September.

The warm temperatures all along the North Pacific and off the West Coast are contributing to the persistence of this bloom and are allowing it to stay in the surface waters. We’re now starting to see that subside a little bit as we go into fall.

We know from weekly sampling that domoic acid levels, at least in the surface waters, have been coming down for the last two months. And they’re pretty low now.

The issue with the crabs is that toxin can persist in the sediments. And those crabs are feeding on all kinds of crustaceans and shrimp along the bottom. And so the crabs are bio-accumulating it in their flesh.

Campy in raw organic milk in Calif.

The California Food and Drug Administration has ordered a state-wide recall of raw milk produced by milk Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno.

colbert.raw.milkThat recall follows a quarantine order after Campylobacter was discovered in some of the company’s milk. The CDFA reported on Friday that no illnesses have been reported from people drinking the affected milk.

Under the recall order, Organic Pastures Dairy’s grade-A, raw milk with a code date of “OCT 24” on the containers must be pulled from store helves, and consumers are urged to dispose of any of this milk remaining in their refrigerators.

The bacteria was discovered during normal testing by the CDFA of the company’s milk, the agency reports.

98 sickened: Norovirus confirmed at Calif. Chipotle

An investigation by the Ventura County Environmental Health Division (EHD) revealed that during the week of August 18, 2015, about 80 restaurant customers and 18 restaurant employees reported symptoms characteristic of a gastrointestinal illness.

norovirus-2The restaurant, in conformance with its own corporate policy, voluntarily closed the facility, threw out all remaining food products, cleaned and disinfected the facility including all food contact surfaces, and excluded all employees with symptoms from working in the restaurant. EHD staff conducted an inspection the following day to confirm that the food had been removed, the restaurant was adequately disinfected, and the 18 employees had been excluded from work.

As part of the investigation the EHD and Public Health staff interviewed affected customers and restaurant staff to determine when the illness began and what had been eaten. The EHD also ordered that all affected restaurant employees submit specimens for laboratory analysis in an attempt to determine the cause of the illnesses. As of Sep. 3, 2015, 7-out-of-18 samples tested positive for Norovirus. The employees with positive test results will continue to be excluded from the restaurant until subsequent laboratory analysis results are negative for the virus and the Public Health Division has cleared them to return to work. There have been no further reports of illness since the initial reports two weeks ago.

But don’t panic: 6 students sick with E. coli from same school in California

An E. coli outbreak in Lodi, California has sickened six elementary school children, requiring one to be hospitalized. The children all attend the same elementary school, but the school has been ruled out as a source of the outbreak.

remaincalm.kevin.baconTwo students in Lodi’s Reese Elementary School’s combined second and third-grade class were confirmed on Monday to have become infected with the E. coli bacteria last week. The students were taken to the hospital when they first showed signs of becoming ill.

School principal Gary Odell realized something was going on last Tuesday. Feb. 24. “It came up a week ago. The secretary noticed that four students were out sick and one had gone to the hospital over the weekend. When the three others began showing symptoms, the nurse contacted (the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health),” Odell said.

Odell said the health department investigated the food services department, and the school cafeteria was given a clean bill of health. The bacteria was not coming from the school’s kitchen or the cafeteria. It is really not known where the first child got the infection because there are so many sources of a potential infection. It is just unusual for this many children from the same school to become infected in such a short time.

Parents weren’t notified of the outbreak until Monday evening after letters were sent home with their children. The principal explained the reason for the lateness of the notification, saying that once the health department took over, they had to follow their guidelines. This meant there had to be two confirmed cases before the public was notified to avoid a panic.

California’s Knott’s Berry Farm restaurant reopens after treatment for cockroaches

California institution, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, reopened Thursday night after its permit was restored following treatment for a cockroach infestation, theme park officials said.

Knott's Berry FarmJason Soyster, a spokesman for Knott’s Berry Farm, referred to the infestation as an “isolated structural incident” and said the restaurant was reopened at about 9:30 p.m.

The eatery had its permit suspended at about 2 p.m.

California sushi restaurants allegedly bought rice filled with bugs, rat poop, and mold

I don’t eat sushi. It’s a bit dodgy.

sushi.riceA new lawsuit alleges that rice sold to multiple sushi restaurants in California may have been “tainted” with ingredients like insects, rodent droppings, and black mold, CBS News reports.

Attorney Brian Kabateck told CBS2 that the rice is contaminated with “flush,” a.k.a. ingredients you definitely shouldn’t be eating. The case claims that Farmer’s Rice Cooperative sold the flush rice to thousands of California grocery stores and local restaurants.

According to the complaint, Farmer’s Rice Cooperative would “allow substances, such as insects, rodents and their soiling, bird remains, and black mold to be present in its processed rice.” The complaint also states that the restaurants and store owners thought they were purchasing U.S. No. 1 Extra Fancy rice, not the contaminated varieties they reportedly received. “This rice, although they claim it’s sushi grade, is as little as 15 percent sushi grade, and it’s adulterated with other inferior rices,” Kabateck told CBS.