Campylobacter: Raw milk from Washington creamery recalled

Some batches of raw milk from the Old Silvana Creamery in Arlington are being recalled out of concern they may be contaminated with Campylobacter.

Old Silvana CreameryThe recall affects raw milk from the farm with expiration dates of Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, according to Jim Sinnema, who manages the farm.

The milk is sold in 15 stores in Western Washington. The creamery produces several hundred gallons of raw milk a week, he said.

The recall, announced Monday evening, was launched after an independent lab discovered Campylobacter in a routine weekly sample sent to a laboratory for testing, Sinnema said. It had an expiration date of Jan. 23. As a precaution, raw milk from Old Silvana Creamery with an expiration date of Jan. 24 also was recalled, Sinnema said.

Humans as source of Campylobacter in Scotland’s seals

In one of the first studies to establish the land-to-sea transmission of a human pathogen, scientists have detected high levels of a human bacterial strain in gray seals. The study also suggests these bacteria may make some seals sick.

sealTerrestrial pathogens have made their way into marine waters before. Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat feces, for example, can infect sea otters when kitty litter gets washed out to sea. Few studies have found a similar route of transmission for human diseases to marine animals, however. Now, by employing genome sequencing and statistical models used to track the source of pathogens, researchers have found the strongest evidence to date that bacteria detected in a population of gray seals originated from a human source.

In the new study, a team led by Johanna Baily, a veterinary pathologist with the Moredun Research Institute in Penicuik, U.K., set out to collect baseline health data on gray seals breeding on Scotland’s Isle of May—an uninhabited island and nature reserve that sits just 8 kilometers off the mainland. During the fall of 2011, the team collected microbiological samples from nearly 100 live and 50 dead seal pups on the island. The researchers screened the samples for several pathogens including Campylobacter—a bacterium commonly found in wildlife and domestic livestock that triggers foodborne illness in humans.

Campylobacter was detected in nearly 50% of the seals tested. Dead seals harboring Campylobacter had signs of intestinal inflammation, suggesting that the pathogen could affect the animals’ health.

article-0-03366E500000044D-308_468x286Next, they compared bacterial sequences from seals to those from potential source populations including poultry, livestock, wild birds, and humans using statistical models. The pathogens infecting seals were most similar to those found in sick humans, the team reports this month in Molecular Ecology.

But, it’s not clear yet whether humans are actually responsible for spreading the bacteria to seals, says Erin Lipp, a microbial ecologist at the University of Georgia, Athens, who was not involved in the study.

The genomic sequences of the bacteria isolated from seals were also highly similar to those found in poultry. Because humans typically contract Campylobacter infections through the consumption of infected poultry, both humans and seals could be acquiring the bacteria through contact with the domestic birds. Agricultural runoff from poultry farms could serve as one potential pathway for the birds to spread the bacteria to seals, without direct contact between the two.   

Campylobacter: UK pensioner died from undercooked chicken kiev

Microwaves are great for reheating but lousy for cooking because the heat is erratically dispersed throughout an uncooked, frozen meal like a chicken kiev. That’s why U.S. producers are required to include labels that clearly distinguish between raw frozen chicken thingies, and cooked frozen chicken thingies, and say check in multiple spots with a meat thermometer to ensure a safe temperature has been reached: the Brits probably say cook it until the juices run clear and it’s piping hot, which is nothing more than faith-based cooking.

chicken.kievUK pensioner Dorothy Flannagan died after contracting food poisoning from an undercooked chicken kiev.

The 86-year-old, who lived with her daughter Karen Kelly, had cooked the meal while Ms Kelly was on holiday in Egypt in July last year.

But the grandmother started to suffer from sickness and diarrhoea the following day.

Doctors believed Mrs Flannagan’s organs started to fail after she contracted campylobacter – the most common cause of food poisoning.

And the retired club secretary of Ryland Close, Lightwood, sadly died at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire on July 30.

During Mrs Flannagan’s inquest yesterday, her daughter, Beverley Turner, told the coroner’s court that she had a delivery of food from Tesco which included two packets of pre-packed chicken kiev.

Mrs Turner, of Caverswall, said: “She had lived with my sister for 18 years. She was self-caring. She didn’t need caring for but she had people staying with her while Karen was away.

“Nobody was with mum when she cooked her tea that night. She had previously cooked one in the microwave but I don’t know how she cooked it that night. She had already had the chicken kiev when we got there that night.”

A post mortem revealed Mrs Flannagan’s cause of death was acute kidney injury following campylobacter infection.

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products


British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820


Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.

chicken.thingies.rawDesign/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.

Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Market food safety at retail: Consumer group says UK supermarkets ‘must act on food bug’

Supermarkets should make a joint stand and show consumers they are serious about Campylobacter by taking a “more visible and co-ordinated industry wide approach” against the problem.

chickenWhich? has written to the UK’s seven major supermarkets to demand they take more action to tackle campylobacter, a bacteria which can be found in chickens and lead to serious illness.

The group has called on Asda, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose to make publicly available plans for how they will tackle Campylobacter, along with clear timeframes for when this will happen.

In its letter to the supermarkets, sent today, Which? says that almost six weeks have passed since the Food Standards Agency (FSA) released data showing “scandalously high levels” of the bacteria in chicken, and that “consumers need reassurance that supermarkets are taking this seriously and doing all they can to address the problem”.

Some 30,000 people have signed a Which? campaign to make chicken safe, and the organization said 60% of consumers were concerned about high levels of campylobacter in supermarket chickens, with 75% saying they thought they were too high.

Half of consumers were unhappy about the amount of information about campylobacter levels in chicken.

“We have previously been in touch with your teams and are calling for every major supermarket to publish a plan of action by the end of January and to make this publicly available and published on your website, with a timeframe for taking action.”

The plan should include both immediate and planned interventions along the food chain, Which? said, such as incentivizing farmers to improve controls to the use of blast surface chilling, to reduce levels of campylobacter as quickly as is feasible.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said food safety was retailers’ “top priority” and that initiatives such as leak-proof and oven ready packaging, safe handling information on labels, websites and in in-store magazines had been introduced to help people understand the risks and minimize contamination.

Set goals and publish the data.

The impacts of an outbreak (or lots of illnesses and contamination): Campy in chicken edition

The U.K. FSA has declared war on Campylobacter, a pathogen that I had my own run-in with in 2009. Food safety coverage often impacts purchasing choices and market researchers in the U.K. suggest that chicken sales have dropped over last year. According to , the market for whole chicken sales has dropped almost 4%.

The latest sales statistics, released by consumer knowledge company Kantar Worldpanel, indicate that the focus on the bacteria has affected whole chicken sales. Spending for the 12 weeks ending 7 December decreased by 3.8% compared to the same period last year, while the volume sold decreased by 6.8%.whole-chicken

Market researcher Mintel said: “Concerns about cooking safely with raw chicken are likely to have been heightened by the campylobacter scandal. While many people may simply be extra careful when preparing and cooking chicken, it may also deter some consumers from buying raw chicken to eliminate risk.”

However, a number of retailers suggested that the their chicken sales had not been affected by the scare, including Marks & Spencer and Lidl. A Lidl spokesperson said: “Our poultry sales have remained steady, as we continue to work in partnership with our suppliers to reduce the levels of campylobacter in raw chicken.”

No word from Tesco on their sales.

UK food scare of the year: Campylobacter gets the FSA in a right old flap

I’m not sure who talks like that, except the Brits.

campy.grocer.dec.14So while The Grocer blames consumers for Campylobacter outbreaks, Walmart Frank has taken steps to implement enhanced poultry safety measures for suppliers designed to further protect customers against foodborne illnesses. The new guidelines are in addition to Walmart’s food safety program that requires poultry suppliers to achieve prevention-based certification against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards.

“At Walmart and Sam’s Club, we are committed to providing our customers with safe, quality foods,” said vice president for food safety, Frank Yiannas. “As part of our continuous improvement process, we determined it was important to require additional layers of protection for our customers.”

The new program requires Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. poultry suppliers to implement holistic controls from farm to fork designed to significantly reduce potential contamination levels, including chicken parts. It also requires suppliers to undergo specialized testing to validate that the measures they have implemented are effective. All poultry suppliers must be in compliance with the new requirements by June 2016.

The enhanced protocol has been reviewed with numerous stakeholders including consumer groups, regulators, academicians, poultry suppliers and industry associations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnered with Walmart on this initiative to advance food safety and decrease foodborne illnesses among consumers.

frank.amy.doug.jun.11dDr. Chris Braden, director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases said, “CDC, along with Walmart, recognizes that reducing Salmonella and other pathogen contamination in poultry products is a crucial step towards decreasing the burden of foodborne illnesses. Walmart and CDC working together to protect public health and advance food safety is a great example of a public-private partnership that benefits everyone”  

Dr. Gary R. Acuff, director of the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety applauded the company’s work: “Walmart’s implementation of enhanced safety measures for poultry products provides leadership for the food industry and continues a progressive approach to providing the safest possible food. This is a smart, science-supported move that will greatly benefit consumers.”

It was the raw milk that sickened 40 in Wisconsin: Report

State health officials Thursday made public more evidence that raw milk was the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak that sickened nearly 40 people associated with the Durand High School football team, including many players.

santa.barf.sprout.raw.milkIn an investigation report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through a state open records request, officials said among the 38 people sickened, 32 drank unpasteurized milk and six drank milk which might have been unpasteurized.

Those who fell ill from the Sept. 18 dinner included 33 students and five coaches.

State officials said it was one of the largest raw-milk illness outbreaks they’ve seen. Twenty-six of the illnesses were laboratory confirmed to stem from Campylobacter jejuni, a harmful bacteria sometimes found in unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat and poultry. Ten of those who fell ill were hospitalized.

“Analysis of data pertaining to foods consumed during the team dinner demonstrates that consuming milk during the team dinner was associated with illness,” the report noted.

Last week, state officials said publicly for the first time that the unpasteurized milk served at the dinner came from a farm operated by Roland and Diana Reed, of Arkansaw, located near Durand in Pepin County.

colbert.raw.milkAt least some of the adults and students didn’t know that it was raw milk, according to public health officials. Diana Reed, however, said she had served it at team dinners for seven years.

In an interview, she said she doesn’t believe the milk was to blame for the illnesses — despite evidence that showed Campylobacter in manure on the farm had the same unique genetic “fingerprint” as Campylobacter found in football players’ stool samples.


Lesson in epidemiology (not): Wisconsin farmer says raw milk may not have made Durand football team ill

Now that the Reed ranch has been named and shamed as the source of the raw milk linked to at least 38 illnesses of Campylobacter jejuni related to players and staff of the Durand High School football team, the owner is speaking out.

raw.milk.death.1917Diana Reed, whose farm provided the milk said, “Some people got sick who did not drink the milk,” she said Saturday.

State health officials also tested manure of the cows at the Reed ranch and concluded some of the cows contained the strain of Campylobacter that sickened the students.

On Friday, state health officials identified the Reed farm as the source of the milk following an open records inquiry by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But Reed said there could have been other sources of the bug.

“I discussed it with the epidemiologist in Madison. He gave me some statistics — 56 people ate chicken, 38 got sick; 43 people chose to drink milk and 33 got sick,” she said. “They interviewed everyone who was there.”

That leaves five people who did not drink milk, but who still had Campylobacter.

State identifies farms tied to two raw milk illness outbreaks, refuses to hear appeal

A day after The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publicly revealed that government types weren’t willing to identify two farms that were the sources of raw milk that sickened dozens at school events, some type of sanity has prevailed; the farms have been identified and separately, the state Supreme Court has refused to consider whether a Sauk County farmer was properly convicted of selling raw milk in 2013.

napoleon.raw.milkIn the most recent incident, this fall in Durand, 38 people associated with the Durand High School football team fell ill after a potluck dinner where unpasteurized milk was served. Twenty-six of the illnesses were laboratory confirmed to stem from Campylobacter jejune, a bacteria sometimes found in unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat and poultry.

A state Department of Health Services memo released Friday by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the milk came from a farm operated by Roland and Diana Reed, of Arkansaw, located near Durand in Pepin County.

The agency also identified a local farm whose unpasteurized milk was tied to the illnesses of 16 people, including students, at North Cape elementary school in Racine County in 2011. It was identified as the Schaal Dairy Farm, according to state officials, who said a relative of the farmer took the milk from the farm to the school, without the farmer’s permission. No action was taken against the owner of the farm.

colbert.raw.milkMeanwhile, Vernon Hershberger had asked the court to review his 2013 conviction for violating a holding order on the sales of raw milk from his farm.

He argued he operates a private buying club that’s not subject to the same rules as a farmer. He also argued that he wouldn’t have been found guilty had an unedited copy of the order been placed into evidence and a judge blocked him from introducing evidence to bolster his defense.

The 4th District Court of Appeals rejected his arguments this past summer. The high court announced Friday it wouldn’t take the case.

UK Health Secretary admits call from Tesco boss over chicken Campylobacter tests

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt (right), has admitted that a Tesco director who is also a former head of the Food Standards Agency contacted the government this summer to argue against FSA plans to publish food poisoning contamination rates for chicken in each supermarket chain.

jeremy.huntThe Guardian reports that the first set of results naming retailers over contamination was supposed to be published in June, but after pressure from other government departments, the FSA backed down. It only put out results in anonymized form in August. When it published individual supermarket results in November, they revealed that, on average, 70% of fresh retail chicken was contaminated with the potentially lethal Campylobacter bug. Campylobacter contamination was found in 64% of Tesco chicken.

Hunt has now acknowledged that Tim Smith, who went directly from his role as regulator at the FSA to a post as technical director of Tesco, requested a telephone meeting in June with one of the health department’s most senior civil servants to discuss the FSA results.

The Department of Health (DoH) refused to answer the Guardian’s requests for information about the incident last month but, responding to a formal letter from the Labour shadow ministerial team, Hunt has now agreed that Smith questioned the naming of individual retailers and the value of publishing the results.

Hunt also acknowledges that Smith’s view were passed by DH to the FSA and the Cabinet Office. He denies, however, that there was any improper influence on the FSA decision. “These communications in no way influenced the decision to delay publication of the names of the retailers,” he wrote. The delay in publishing the names arose because the sample size was deemed insufficiently robust “and may have given a false picture of the situation across the country”, he said.

chickenThe shadow environment secretary, Maria Eagle, accused the government of complacency over the issue. She said: “Consumers will be appalled to learn that ministers have repeatedly failed to take any action to tackle the alarming levels of campylobacter in supermarket chicken. After clearly inappropriate lobbying of the government, the Food Standards Agency decided not to name and shame the retailer[s] alongside levels of campylobacter contamination.

“Instead of being the champion of the consumer, the government is acting as the mouthpiece of the food poisoners.”

Smith’s move from the regulator to a supermarket he had been regulating in October 2012 was approved by the prime minister after guidance from the advisory committee on business appointments (ACOBA), on condition that Smith did not lobby civil servants or ministers on behalf of Tesco for two years.

Tesco is understood to maintain that the contact over campylobacter did not constitute lobbying. A Tesco spokesperson said: “Tim Smith has abided by the restriction agreed with ACOBA on lobbying the government on behalf of Tesco.”