Go with data or go home: It’s still a f*cking pink chicken

Steve Sayer of MeatingPlace, the home of all things meat, has much praise for Food Safety Scotland’s pink chicken advice, which is apparently grounded to “ensure that public information and advice on food safety, standards, and pink.chicken.fss.jun.16nutrition are accurate while being consumer-focused. It’s obvious that the FSS plucked the pink chicken mascot to warn Scottish consumers about the possibility of getting sick by consuming seemingly under-grilled/cooked chicken that’s still pink internally.

“However, the only exception was the insistence that the internal color of properly grilled chicken should never be pink.

“The USDA has long stated that reaching the internal temperature of 165 degrees F., (by measuring at the thickest part of the chicken) will kill pathogens and is safe to consume. The USDA has also claimed that the internal coloring is not always an accurate indicator whether chicken is properly cooked or grilled, which includes, you guessed it, the color pink.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think the Scot’s pink message bird is rather clever and its intent admirable, as it could very well lessen the amount of people undercooking their summer grilled chicken. But the fact remains it’s not completely accurate.”

It’s a f*ucking pink chicken and it’s wrong.

So how can anything else this science-based organization say be accepted as accurate?

Go with the data or go home.

Waste of money.

Microbiology of cattle poop

Cattle are a natural reservoir of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and have recently been recognized as a major source of Campylobacter jejuni contamination. While several factors are known to be associated with bacterial colonization, the underlying microbial factors have not been clarified.

dodd.poopIn this study, we characterized the fecal microbiota of dairy cattle (n = 24) using next-generation sequencing to elucidate the intestinal bacterial communities and the microbial diversity in relation to the presence of the foodborne pathogens STEC and C. jejuni (STEC-positive samples, n = 9; STEC-negative samples, n = 15; C. jejuni-positive samples, n = 9; and C. jejuni-negative samples, n = 15). While no significant differences were observed in alpha diversity between STEC-positive and STEC-negative samples, a high diversity index was observed in C. jejuni-positive samples compared to C. jejuni-negative samples. Nine phyla, 13 classes, 18 orders, 47 families, 148 genera, and 261 species were found to be the core microbiota in dairy cattle, covering 80.0–100.0% of the fecal microbial community. Diverse microbial communities were observed between cattle shedding foodborne pathogens and nonshedding cattle. C. jejuni-positive cattle had a higher relative abundance of Bacteroidetes (p = 0.035) and a lower relative abundance of Firmicutes (p = 0.035) compared to C. jejuni-negative cattle. In addition, while the relative abundance of 2 and 6 genera was significantly higher in cattle-shedding STEC and C. jejuni, respectively, the relative abundance of 3 genera was lower in both STEC- and C. jejuni-negative cattle.

Our findings provide fundamental information on the bacterial ecology in cattle feces and might be useful in developing strategies to reduce STEC or C. jejuni shedding in dairy cattle, thereby reducing the incidence of STEC infection and campylobacteriosis in humans.

The fecal microbial communities of dairy cattle shedding Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli or Campylobacter jejuni

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. July 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2121.

Dong Hee-Jin, Kim Woohyun, An Jae-Uk, Kim Junhyung, and Cho Seongbeom

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2121

Animals as sources of human pathogens in Ecuador

Animals are important reservoirs of zoonotic enteropathogens, and transmission to humans occurs more frequently in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where small-scale livestock production is common.

Zoonoses_Image_0-270x252In this study, we investigated the presence of zoonotic enteropathogens in stool samples from 64 asymptomatic children and 203 domestic animals of 62 households in a semirural community in Ecuador between June and August 2014.

Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) was used to assess zoonotic transmission of Campylobacter jejuni and atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (aEPEC), which were the most prevalent bacterial pathogens in children and domestic animals (30.7% and 10.5%, respectively). Four sequence types (STs) of C. jejuni and four STs of aEPEC were identical between children and domestic animals. The apparent sources of human infection were chickens, dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits for C. jejuni and pigs, dogs, and chickens for aEPEC.

Other pathogens detected in children and domestic animals were Giardia lamblia (13.1%), Cryptosporidium parvum (1.1%), and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) (2.6%). Salmonella enterica was detected in 5 dogs and Yersinia enterocolitica was identified in 1 pig. Even though we identified 7 enteric pathogens in children, we encountered evidence of active transmission between domestic animals and humans only for C. jejuni and aEPEC. We also found evidence that C. jejuni strains from chickens were more likely to be transmitted to humans than those coming from other domestic animals. Our findings demonstrate the complex nature of enteropathogen transmission between domestic animals and humans and stress the need for further studies.

Importance 

We found evidence that Campylobacter jejuni, Giardia, and aEPEC organisms were the most common zoonotic enteropathogens in children and domestic animals in a region close to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Genetic analysis of the isolates suggests transmission of some genotypes of C. jejuni and aEPEC from domestic animals to humans in this region. We also found that the genotypes associated with C. jejuni from chickens were present more often in children than were those from other domestic animals. The potential environmental factors associated with transmission of these pathogens to humans then are discussed.

Detection of zoonotic enteropathogens in children and domestic animals in a semirural community in Ecuador

Karla Vasco a, Jay P. Graham b and Gabriel Trueba a

A Microbiology Institute, Colegio de Ciencias Biologicas y Ambientales, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador

B Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 82, Number 14, Pages 4218–4224, doi:10.1128/AEM.00795-16

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/14/4218.abstract?etoc

Campylobacter coli in NZ, 2005-2014

Campylobacteriosis is one of the most important foodborne diseases worldwide and a significant health burden in New Zealand. Campylobacter jejuni is the predominant species worldwide, accounting for approximately 90% of human cases, followed by Campylobacter coli. Most studies in New Zealand have focused on C. jejuni; hence, the impact of C. coli strains on campylobacter.colihuman health is not well understood.

The aim of this study was to genotype C. coli isolates collected in the Manawatu region of New Zealand from clinical cases, fresh poultry meat, ruminant feces, and environmental water sources, between 2005 and 2014, to study their population structure and estimate the contribution of each source to the burden of human disease. 

Campylobacter isolates were identified by PCR and typed by multilocus sequence typing. C. coli accounted for 2.9% (n = 47/1,601) of Campylobacter isolates from human clinical cases, 9.6% (n = 108/1,123) from poultry, 13.4% (n = 49/364) from ruminants, and 6.4% (n = 11/171) from water.

Molecular subtyping revealed 27 different sequence types (STs), of which 18 belonged to clonal complex ST-828. ST-1581 was the most prevalent C. coli sequence type isolated from both human cases (n = 12/47) and poultry (n =44/110). When classified using cladistics, all sequence types belonged to clade 1 except ST-7774, which belonged to clade 2. ST-854, ST-1590, and ST-4009 were isolated only from human cases and fresh poultry, while ST-3232 was isolated only from human cases and ruminant sources. Modeling indicated ruminants and poultry as the main sources of C. coli human infection.

Importance 

We performed a molecular epidemiological study of Campylobacter coli infection in New Zealand, one of few such studies globally. This study analyzed the population genetic structure of the bacterium and included a probabilistic source attribution model covering different animal and water sources. The results are discussed in a global context.

Molecular epidemiology of Campylobacter coli strains isolated from different sources in New Zealand between 2005 and 2014

Antoine Nohra a,b, Alex Grinberg b, Anne C. Midwinter a,b, Jonathan C. Marshall a, Julie M. Collins-Emerson a,b and Nigel P. French a,b

A Molecular Epidemiology and Veterinary Public Health Laboratory (mEpiLab), Infectious Disease Research Centre, Hopkirk Institute, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

b Infectious Diseases Group, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 82, Number 14, Pages 4363-4370, doi:10.1128/AEM.00934-16

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/14/4363.abstract?etoc

It’s still a f*cking pink chicken

I’m guessing she doesn’t like my it’s still a f*cking pink chicken approach.

cooked.chickenBut color is a lousy indicator of safety, only a thermometer can do that (right, safe chicken, and this photo has been around for 20 years)

Coral Beach of Food Safety News however, thinks the f*cking pink chicken is brought to you by an unidentified genius in the PR department at Food Standards Scotland, and its new summer barbecue food safety campaign has a catchy slogan and a hilarious super villain.

Dubbed simply Pink Chicken, the super villain is scheduled to travel the hills and dales of the tiny nation for three months, visiting beach partiers and backpackers while “creating mayhem and ‘spoiling’ summer” according to the Scottish food safety agency.

Since I’m an American and write in American English, I can say this without fear of profanity filters blocking me: It’s bloody brilliant.

No, it’s a f*cking pink chicken and it’s dumb.

It also goes against evidence- or science-based reasoning.

Guess that’s where we differ.

And I’m not an educator, I provide information. People make their own choices. Education is up to individuals.

I must be drunk: A pink chicken is the mascot for a Food Standards Scotland campaign

I like the train. Some of my most memorable conversations happen on the train.

scotland.pinkchicken-fss_largeThe three of us bid adieu to Montpellier and returned to Paris for a couple of days before the pilgrimage back to Australia, home of carp herpes and koala chlamydia (see next post, when I write it).

The shaggy-haired dude sitting beside me finally spoke up in perfect London English, and said, I couldn’t help but overhearing, but yes, you should move your knapsack, let me help you.

You speak English?

Turns out Dr. Mark has a PhD in the maths, and is post-docing in Montpellier on the maths.

He was off to the Glastonbury music festival, worried about trenchfoot, I told him to watch out for Campylobacter and E. coli O157, and Amy told him that one of this years’ headliners, Muse, has complaints about Salmonella and bird shit. Something about Sorenne being a product of science also came up.

When we needed a conversational hiatus, I returned to watching John Oliver skewer his native UK for wanting to leave the European Union (warning, video hilarious but extremely not suitable for family viewing).

And even the Brits don’t want to stay together, what with Scotland doing its own thing, including a Food Standards Scotland agency.

Scottish independence was supposed to be something about Celtic pride, or pride in Sean Connery impersonations on mock Jeopardy, but if Food Standards Scotland attempt at independent food safety communications – if it’s not Scottish, it’s craaaaaaap – are an indicator, bring on the whiskey and go back to sleep.

In my best John Oliver voice, the new FSS mascot is a pink chicken.

A f*cking pink chicken.

Read this, if you can.

Foodborne illness remains an important public health problem for Scotland, resulting in disruption to the workforce and burdens on health services which have consequences for the Scottish economy.

Prior to the establishment of Food Standards Scotland (FSS), we worked as part of the Food Standards Agency to develop, implement and evaluate interventions for improving the safety of the food chain and help consumers to understand the steps that they need to take to protect themselves and their families from foodborne illness.

We’re now consulting on a draft of our proposal for a new Foodborne Illness Strategy for Scotland which sets out the approach we think we will need to take over the next five years to protect the safety of foods produced and sold in Scotland and reduce the risks of foodborne illness to the people of Scotland. … It will take a targeted approach by developing interventions for containing and eradicating contaminants at the key foodborne transmission pathways that have the potential to lead to illness in humans. Workstreams will be developed to evaluate the impact of interventions at all stages, based on uptake and evidence for efficacy.

It’s still a f*cking pink chicken.

Did the PR team get loaded and watched Dumbo and woke inspired by pink elephants?

These food safety geniuses know color is a lousy indicator of food safety, yet issued a companion press release which said, Food poisoning can wreck your summer barbecue. Keep pink chicken – and nasty food bugs – off the menu. …The bigger the piece of chicken, the more time it needs.

“Check chicken is steaming hot right through before dishing up.

“Looks can deceive. Charred chicken on the outside may still be pink inside. Check it’s cooked right through. 

“Turning chicken regularly helps it cook evenly. And you’ll impress your guests with your fancy tongs action.

“You’re good to go when the chicken is steaming hot in the middle, there’s no pink chicken to be seen and the juices run clear.

“To make sure, use a meat thermometer. Chicken should be a minimum of 75 °C in the centre.”

The thermometer is an after thought to tong juggling and piping hot, but is the only way to determine if that bird is safe to eat (75C).

FSS also threw in this line, apparently written by a Scot who migrated to the Ozarks and returned home with the word “reckon” in his or her vocabulary.

At least 6000 people in Scotland suffer Campylobacter poisoning every year. Some reckon the number could be 9 times that. It’s the most common cause of food poisoning.

And it’s still a f*cking pink chicken.

Best wishes at Glastonbury, Dr. Mark, and figuring out what you’ll do if Britain does leave the EU.

56 sickened with campy in chicken liver pate in 2013 at Aust. National University: the scientific write-up

In Oct. 2013, 56 students were stricken by Campylobacter linked to poorly prepared liver pate and severed at an end-of-year celebration at Burgmann College, part of Australian National University.

chicken-liver-pate-2The Canaberra Times reported in 2014 some of the students planned to sue Scolarest, the company that feeds the college of 350 students.

No idea if that ever went anywhere.

But here’s that scientific paper that was recently published.

In October 2013, public health authorities were notified of a suspected outbreak of gastroenteritis in students and guests following a catered function at a university residential college. A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to examine whether foods served at the function caused illness.

A total of 56 cases of gastroenteritis, including seven laboratory-confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, were identified in 235 eligible respondents. Univariate analysis showed a significant association with a chicken liver pâté entrée [relative risk (RR) 3·64, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·03–6·52, P < 0·001], which retained significance after adjustment for confounding via multivariable analysis (adjusted RR 2·80, 95% CI 1·26–6·19, P = 0·01). C. jejuni and C. coli were also isolated in chicken liver pâté recovered from the college’s kitchen.

Subsequent whole genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST) of clinical and food-derived C. jejuni isolates showed three genetically distinct sequence types (STs) comprising ST528, ST535 (both clinically derived) and ST991 (food derived).

The study demonstrates the value of utilizing complementary sources of evidence, including genomic data, to support public health investigations. The use of wgMLST highlights the potential for significant C. jejuni diversity in epidemiologically related human and food isolates recovered during outbreaks linked to poultry liver.

A large outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni infection in a university college caused by chicken liver pâté, Australia, 2013

Epidemiology and Infection; May 2016

DOI: 10.1017/S0950268816001187

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304019390_A_large_outbreak_of_Campylobacter_jejuni_infection_in_a_university_college_caused_by_chicken_liver_pate_Australia_2013

Blame celebrity chefs and lack of thermometer use: Campy increases in undercooked chicken livers

In the United Kingdom, outbreaks of Campylobacter infection are increasingly attributed to undercooked chicken livers, yet many recipes, including those of top chefs, advocate short cooking times and serving livers pink.

chicken-liver-pate-2During 2015, we studied preferences of chefs and the public in the United Kingdom and investigated the link between liver rareness and survival of Campylobacter. We used photographs to assess chefs’ ability to identify chicken livers meeting safe cooking guidelines.

To investigate the microbiological safety of livers chefs they preferred to serve, we modeled Campylobacter survival in infected chicken livers cooked to various temperatures. Most chefs correctly identified safely cooked livers but overestimated the public’s preference for rareness and thus preferred to serve them more rare.

We estimated that 19%–52% of livers served commercially in the United Kingdom fail to reach 70°C and that predicted Campylobacter survival rates are 48%–98%. These findings indicate that cooking trends are linked to increasing Campylobacter infections.

Restaurant cooking trends and increased risk for Camplyobacter infection

Emerging Infectious Disease Journal, Volume 22, Number 7, July 2016, DOI: 10.3201/eid2207.151775

A.K. Jones, D. Rigby, M. Burton, C. Millman, N.J. Williams, T.R. Jones, P. Wigley, S.J. O’Brien, P. Cross

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/7/15-1775_article

Birds: Crowds of crows spread Campylobacter

Crows are smart, highly social animals that congregate in flocks of tens of thousands. Such large, highly concentrated populations can easily spread disease — not only amongst their own species, but quite possibly to humans, either via livestock, or directly.

tippi_2431543kOn the campus of the University of California, Davis, during winter, approximately half of the 6,000 American crows that congregated at the study site carried Campylobacter jejuni, which is the leading cause of gastroenteritis in humans in industrialized countries, which could contribute to the spread of disease. The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The investigators posited that the crows’ daily wanderings contributed to C. jejuni’s spread. To track the crows, they trapped a small number of individuals and attached tiny GPS devices to diminutive backpacks. They affixed these to the birds with harnesses that looped around each wing to attach at the breast. The additional weight represented less than one twentieth that of the crows.

The crows’ favored destinations were areas with easy access to food, such as a dairy barn, and a primate research center. “This movement pattern, coupled with high infection rates, suggests that crows could play an important role in transmission from wild birds to domestic animals and, ultimately, to humans,” said first author Conor Taff, PhD.

Crows are also strong flyers, and able to spread contamination far from the roost.

Crows’ social behavior also probably contributes to the pathogen’s spread. Their communal winter roosts can pack thousands of crows into a few trees each night, said Taff, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, who conducted some of the research while he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis. And crowds of crows, opportunistic omnivores, forage together, defecating where they eat. “These things together probably explain why crows have such high prevalence of infection compared to other wild birds,” said Taff.

Crows’ opportunistic foraging frequently leads them to live in proximity to humans, and to livestock, putting us at risk for infection. Among other places, crows forage at livestock feedlots and in fields containing particular crops.

Nonetheless, data is lacking on the prevalence of crow-borne strains of C. Jejuni that have the potential either to infect humans, or to easily mutate to infect humans. (A coauthor on this paper, Allison M. Weis of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Pathogen Genome Project, University of California, Davis, is working on that issue.) Nor is it clear whether Campylobacter sickens crows — another issue which team members are investigating.

“Our study is just a start, but our results suggest that integrative work that combines microbiology, ecology, and behavior is likely to be important in controlling cross-species transmission of Campylobacter,” said Taff. “Since wild birds may be an important source of initial poultry infection, it is important to understand how infection persists in wild birds and how their behavior might contribute to domestic animal infection. Our movement data are particularly interesting in this regard, because we found that crows were making heavy use of some areas with domestic animals.”

“Understanding how both this behavior and infection rates vary across the year might make it possible to devise mitigation strategies that exclude wild animals from interacting with domestic animals in certain places or at certain times of the year,” said Taff.

“Our study is among the first to combine extensive sampling and whole genome sequencing of C. jejuni with relevant information on host ecology, movement, and social behavior,” the investigators write.

“Whether crows represent a major source of domestic animal and, ultimately, human C. jejuni infection remains uncertain, but our study indicates that data on infection prevalence and molecular characteristics of isolates alone will be insufficient for understanding C. jejuni transmission dynamics,” the investigators write. They suggest that more work is needed combining genomics, ecology, and movement and social behavior of the birds. They also note that roost sizes have increased as locations have shifted from rural to increasingly urban over the last 50 years.

Sneaky: Campy in UK chickens declines, but is an artifact

The UK Food Standards Agency says the latest data show 9.3% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination in this quarter, down from 21.8% for the three months from December 2014 to February 2015*.

chickenCampylobacter was present on 50% of chicken samples, down from 71% in the equivalent quarter of the previous year. We tested 1,009 samples of fresh whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging this quarter.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said, “One of the reasons the survey results are lower this quarter is because of the decision taken by a number of retailers and their suppliers to remove neck skin from the bird before it goes on sale. This is good news for the consumer because the neck skin is the most contaminated part of the chicken. However it is also the part of the bird that we have been testing in our survey and this means that comparisons with previous results are not as reliable as we would like.

Therefore, this quarter, we are giving an overall figure for the amount of campylobacter on chicken and not breaking the figures down by retailer as we normally do. We have also stopped this survey and will begin a new one in the summer, with a different method of testing campylobacter levels on chicken. sFirst results from this survey, which will rank retailers, are due in January 2017.”

Alex Neil , director of policy and campaigns at Which?, said: “Despite the work by the regulator and the industry to reduce campylobacter in chickens, levels remain too high and it still poses a significant risk to the public.

“We want to see much greater transparency from the supermarkets on their own testing and the action they are taking to keep their customers safe from this bug.”