20 years on, Scotland E. coli tragedy saw heart ripped from town

In November 1996, over 400 fell ill and 21 were killed in Scotland by E. coli O157:H7 found in deli meats produced by family butchers John Barr & Son. The Butcher of Scotland, who had been in business for 28 years and was previously awarded the title of Scottish Butcher of the Year, was using the same knives to handle raw and cooked meat.

e-coli-scotland-1996-1A memo at the time, unearthed by The Herald shows what many suspected: that the interests of the food and agriculture industries were given higher priority than public health.

Then Scottish Office health minister, James Douglas-Hamilton, wrote on Dec. 5, 1996 to Sir Russell Hillhouse, the under-secretary of state at the Scottish Office that, “The key issue to be addressed is that when there is an outbreak of infectious disease whether the public health interest should over-ride the food industry and agricultural interests. I believe the public health interest should be paramount, but it was not seen to do so in this case.”

The aptly named agriculture minister, Douglas Hogg, argued E. coli was a “Scottish issue” and that licensing should only be in Scotland.

A memo to Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth, on March 19, 1997, noted: “The Cabinet Office and No 10 were not impressed by Mr Hogg’s idea.”

Ross Thompson of the Daily Record reports that 20 years later, a Wishaw Old Parish Church member believes the heart was ripped from the congregation in the wake of the crippling E. coli tragedy.

Wishaw Old Parish Church session clerk Tom Donaldson was served the same meal as 10 others who lost their lives from the killer bug when infected meat, from John Barr’s Butchers, was served at an annual church lunch.

This week marks 20 years since the outbreak claimed its first victim, 80-year-old Harry Shaw.

Over the next few weeks, 20 others died and hundreds more were infected in what is still the world’s worst E. coli outbreak.

This week, Tom reflected on the horrific events two decades on.

He said: “Many of our members and office-bearers still carry the sad memories of that time.

e-coli-scotland-barr“The heart was torn from the church by the loss of so many members.

“We lost eight members, including three valued elders.

“We held the same meal for over 10 years. For a lot of the people going, it was a chance to get out of the house and see people they hadn’t seen for a while.

“I had the same meal as everyone else but, thankfully, I didn’t have any symptoms. When we heard that people were unwell and then that people had died we couldn’t believe it.

“It was really heart-breaking.”

Over the next few weeks, the world’s media converged on Wishaw to cover the ongoing tragedy.

One man who carried the burden more than most was church minister Rev James Davidson.

Indeed, after burying three of his congregation, Rev Davidson admitted it had been the worst week of his life.

Tom added: “The minister carried the heavy burden as pastor; not only by conducting so many funerals in such a short period but also having to continue to minister to the congregation Sunday by Sunday.

“In one week he had to carry out three funerals. He was heart-broken.

“He really needed more help than he got because not only was he doing those funerals but he was also going to the hospital to visit the sick as well.

“The local media, like the Wishaw Press, and the guys who worked for the Scottish television channels were very respectful. But there was the other side where others would confront the minister and other office- bearers, at their homes and at the church for a comment.

“For quite a few years we had to deal with being ‘that E. coli church’ and people still remember that.”

 

Food porn: People want rare hamburgers yet aren’t informed of risks

I love this paper.

The research is cool, but to me it culminates 16 years of Chapman becoming a better researcher.

ben-newI had a hand in the idea for the paper, but Chapman and his team did all the work.

I edited some stuf.

I was reminded last night of all the youthful energy me, and Chapman and Blaine and Lisa and Brae and Katie and Sarah and the reintroduced Carol – had when we did the bulk of our creative work.

Sorta like the Stones 68-72.

And yet that was the most turmoil in my life, as I went through a painful divorce, separation from kids, an interesting girlfriend and finally meeting Amy a few years later.

My line is graduate students should be able to bail their supervisor out of jail or drive me to the airport when (I) threatened with arrest.

Sorta like the Stones 68-72.

This is Chapman’s moment to shine, and although barfblog.com was named the number 1 food safety blog by someone pushing something today, it don’t matter much.

doug-ben-familyOften Chapman and I will send an e-mail to each other about some obscure reference in a post, with the comment, we only write for each other.

And the over 75,000 direct subscribers in over 70 countries.

Well done Chapman et al., couldn’t be prouder.

You too Blaine.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

FDA says 1 percent of US cucumbers carry Salmonella

One in a hundred cucumbers carries Salmonella, according to new data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — and for fresh hot peppers that number rises to three per hundred.

cucumber-spainmepBoth the vegetables were targeted by the agency’s proactive testing because of their role in previous outbreaks. Because cucumbers are often eaten raw, bacteria on them are more likely to make it into food; raw cucumbers have been blamed in five outbreaks of illness from 1996 to 2014.

Hot peppers, such as jalapeño and serrano peppers, on the other hand, are often cooked but can be a “stealth component” of multi-ingredient dishes, the FDA said. In 2008, hot peppers were implicated in an outbreak that caused 1,500 illnesses, 308 hospitalizations, and two deaths.

The FDA’s proactive sampling program began testing for disease-causing microbes in certain foods in 2014 to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria and to help the agency identify patterns that may help predict and prevent future contamination.

The latest findings, released lastThursday, included results from 1,050 cucumber samples and 1,130 hot pepper samples. Eventually 1,600 of each will be sampled.

Of the cucumber samples, 15 tested positive for salmonella. None tested positive for E. coli. Of the hot pepper samples, 35 tested positive for salmonella, and one tested positive for a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli that was determined to be incapable of causing severe illness.

The samples were collected at ports, packing houses, manufacturers, and distributors across the US.

The agency may take enforcement action, such as a recall, on foods that test positive.

“This testing is still underway and no conclusions can be drawn at this time,” according to the FDA.

 In 2014, the FDA started a sampling program for a variety of commodities to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria on the commodities.

 The microbiological sampling assignments were designed to collect a statistically determined number of samples of certain commodities over 12 to 18 months and test them for certain types of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.

USDA: Everything you ever wanted to know about labeling needle- or blade–tenderized beef

Compliance Documents

Q1. Where can I find information on the new “mechanically tenderized beef products regulation per 9 CFR 317.2(e)(3)?

Information on “mechanically tenderized beef products” is available from the following locations:

Labeling Issues

Q2. Under this final rule, will the product need to be labeled with the specific method of mechanical tenderization used to prepare the product?

tenderizedmeat2_custom-949f4ddbfc4f2cb411923f9296e69966fe69d995-s1100-c85No, the label need not include the specific type of mechanical tenderization used. To provide flexibility, FSIS is allowing the phrase ‘‘mechanically tenderized’’ to be used as the descriptive designation on any type of mechanically tenderized product. In addition, in lieu of “mechanically tenderized,” such product may be labeled as ‘‘needle tenderized’’ or ‘‘blade tenderized,’’ as applicable.

Q3. Can “needle injected” be used as the descriptive designation on the labels of raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized?

No, needle injected may not be used as the descriptive designation. The terms “needle tenderized” or “mechanically tenderized” must be used as the descriptive designation for needle tenderized raw or partially cooked beef products and the terms “mechanically tenderized” or “blade tenderized” must be used as the descriptive designation for raw or partially cooked blade tenderized beef products.

Q4. Are the descriptive designations “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized,” or “needle tenderized” only required on raw or partially cooked beef products?

Yes, unless the product is destined to be fully cooked or to receive another full lethality

treatment at an official establishment, such product must be labeled accordingly.

Q5. Do the new labeling requirements apply to mechanically tenderized pork, lamb, or goat products?

No. The rule applies only to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized.

Q6. Can establishments put both mechanically tenderized beef products and non- mechanically tenderized beef products in the same immediate container and label it with the descriptive designation “mechanically tenderized?”

No. To label product as “mechanically tenderized” when it was not would be false and misleading.

needle-tenderize-crQ7. If we sell mechanically tenderized raw or partially cooked beef or veal products in protective coverings, must the protective coverings meet the mechanical tenderization labeling requirements when the immediate container of this product is labeled “For Institutional Use Only?”

No. Under 9 CFR 317.1(a)(1), protective coverings should not bear any mandatory labeling information.” In this case, the immediate container, which also serves as the shipping container, is required to be labeled with the descriptive designation and bear validated cooking instructions and all other applicable labeling features.

Q8. Is beef cubed steak is subject to the new labeling requirements?

No, this regulation will not apply to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been cubed. The regulation is specific to needle and blade tenderized beef products. FSIS stated in the final rule:

The descriptive designation will only apply to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been needle tenderized or blade-tenderized, including beef products injected with marinade or solution. Other tenderization methods, such as pounding and cubing, change the appearance of the product, putting consumers on notice that the product is not intact. Moreover, most establishments already label cubed products as such. (80 FR 28157)

Q9. Must the labels for raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products be submitted to the FSIS Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS) for approval?

No. The descriptive designations, “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized,” and “needle tenderized” are not considered special statements or claims under 9 CFR 412.1(c). Therefore, as stated in the final rule, simply adding the descriptive designation and validated cooking instructions to a label would not require LPDS approval, given the label is otherwise in accordance with FSIS’s regulations.

Q10. Do the new labeling requirements apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products that are produced at establishments that use a validated intervention during the production of such products?

Yes, the new labeling requirements would apply to products treated with a validated antimicrobial intervention, unless the establishment applies a lethality treatment that achieves a 5-log reduction in pathogens. Mechanically tenderized beef product treated at an official establishment with an intervention or process, including HPP, that has been validated to achieve at least a 5-log reduction for Salmonella and Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) organisms (including E. coli 0157:H7) would not be subject to the requirements in this final rule because it has received a full lethality treatment. (See 80 FR 28153)

Q11. Do the new labeling requirements apply to mechanically tenderized beef products labeled or prepared at retail stores?

Yes, the new labeling requirements would apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products produced, packaged, and labeled at a retail store.

Cooking Instructions

Q12. Is there compliance guidance available on validating cooking instructions for mechanically tenderized beef products?

Yes, at:

FSIS Compliance Guideline for Validating Cooking Instructions for Mechanically Tenderized Beef Products

Q13. Where can I find scientific studies on validated cooking instructions?

Attachment 1 of the above FSIS Compliance Guideline for Validating Cooking Instructions for Mechanically Tenderized Beef Products contains a summary of published scientific support for cooking instructions.

Q14. Do the new labeling requirements apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products that are too thin to practically measure their internal temperature using a food thermometer?

No, the new labeling requirements do not apply to raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized (including through injection with a solution) beef products that are too thin to measure their internal temperature using a food thermometer, such as beef bacon or carne asada. FSIS does not intend to enforce the requirements for these products because they are customarily prepared in a manner that is sufficient to destroy pathogenic bacteria.

Note that the thickness of many food thermometers used by consumers is approximately 1/8,” making it difficult to measure the end product temperature of products 1/8” thick or less through use of a thermometer.

Q15. Where on the label of raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products can the validated cooking instructions appear?

Validated cooking instructions must appear on the immediate containers of all raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products destined for household consumers, hotels, restaurants, or similar institutions. These instructions can appear anywhere on the product label.

Mechanically Tenderized Beef With Solutions

Q16. Must the label of a raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef product that contains added solution also declare the percentage of added solution?

Yes. However, there are different options for declaring the total amount of solution added. See 9 CFR 317.2(e)(2).

Q17. Do the new labeling requirements apply to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been marinated in a tumbler or vacuum tumbled?

The rule only applies to raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized by needle or blade. This rule does not apply to other processes, such as tumbling or vacuum tumbling, unless the product is also mechanically tenderized by needle or blade.

needle-tenderize-beef

Lower the loads: Phages don’t seem to work to lower E. coli O157 in cattle

Image

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a major food safety concern for the beef industry. Several studies have provided evidence that cattle hides are the main source of beef carcass contamination during processing and that reductions in the E. coli O157:H7 load on the hides of cattle entering processing facilities will lead to reductions in carcass contamination. Bacteriophages have been proposed as a novel preharvest antimicrobial intervention to reduce the levels of E. coli O157:H7 on cattle hides.

lairageThe objective of this study was to evaluate a commercialized phage application administered in the lairage area of commercial beef processing plants for the ability to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination of cattle hides and carcasses. Cattle lots either received phage spray treatment (n = 289) or did not (n = 301), as they entered the lairage environments in two separate experiments at two different commercial beef processing plants. Hide and carcass samples were collected and analyzed for E. coli O157:H7 prevalence and concentration. Cattle hides receiving phage treatment had an E. coli O157:H7 prevalence of 51.8%, whereas untreated hides had a prevalence of 57.6%. For carcass samples, the E. coli O157 prevalence in treated and untreated samples was 17.1% and 17.6%, respectively.

The results obtained from these experiments demonstrated that the treatment of cattle hides with bacteriophages before processing did not produce a significant reduction of E. coli O157:H7 on cattle hides or beef carcasses during processing.

Evaluation of bacteriophage application to cattle in lairage at beef processing plants to reduce Escherichia coli O157:H7 prevalence on hides and carcasses

Arthur Terrance M., Kalchayanand Norasak, Agga Getahun E., Wheeler Tommy L., and Koohmaraie Mohammad

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2189

Toddler contracts serious E. coli infection on NZ family farm

Eight months on from a rescue helicopter dash to Starship children’s hospital, two-year-old Grace Dheda is enjoying being back on her family’s farm – even though it nearly killed her.

grace-dhedaIn March, Grace and her family were savouring rural life in Wellsford.

Mum Megan and Dad Kirin were planning their up-coming wedding. 

That all came to a sudden halt when their daughter began to show signs of illness.

After two days of vomiting and diarrhea, a doctor diagnosed a tummy bug.

Grace was sent home and prescribed plenty of fluids, Megan says.

At home Grace played on the deck like her normal self, but collapsed at bedtime.

Grace was rushed back to the doctors.

“They put her on oxygen straight away. She’d been unconscious for about 45 minutes and they were starting to worry about potential brain damage.”

Given the severity of the situation and the closest ambulance an hour away, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called.

Grace and Megan were ferried to a helipad and arrived to see the chopper landing.

“It was such a relief to see the helicopter,” Megan says.

Megan recalls, “At first nobody knew what was wrong with her and why she was having these seizures. It wasn’t until a few days before we left the hospital that we found out she had contracted E. coli and HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).”

HUS is a severe complication of the E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.

At first it was thought that Grace had contracted the bacterial infection through the water supply, however this was later tested and found to be normal.

It is now believed that she contracted it via the farm animals.

Megan says, “We’ve got cows here on the farm and I don’t like Grace going anywhere near them. The doctor told me I have ‘parental anxiety.’ ‘I love the farm life, but I’m a bit paranoid now and have about 20 bottles of sanitiser around the place.”

The Helicopter Trust is actively fundraising at present in order to purchase three new ventilators for use on their helicopters and in their Rapid Response Vehicle.

Raw cheese firm faces the bugs: Drops legal action over E. coli investigation

After all the posturing and posing, Humphrey Errington, founder of Errington Cheese, now says he is no longer seeking a judicial review of the Food Standards Scotland’s (FSS) decision to impose a blanket ban on all his products after finding strains of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.

dunsyre-blue-cheeseA child died after contracting the illness, which affected a total of 20 people in July this year. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said Dunsyre Blue, made by Errington Cheese, was the “most likely cause”.

Mr Errington said the firm had also been offered a meeting with FSS to resolve their differences. “We have accepted that,” he said.

“It’s a major ‘back off’ off from them,” he added. “It’s a big, big step but it’s far from getting us back in the market. Our aim is get them to see that our cheese is not a risk to health.”

Pasteurization works.

Mr Errington always claimed there was “no evidence” linking its cheese to the outbreak and it accused the FSS of opposing the production of unpasteurised milk cheese.

After the legal challenge to the order was dropped, the watchdog confirmed it had issued a revised order in relation to Errington Cheese products. It stressed that the full product withdrawal remains in place as the cheeses are “regarded as a risk to health”.

A statement from the company said: “Errington Cheese Limited embarked upon a judicial review against Food Standards Scotland for two main reasons.

“Firstly, because we were clear that it was unlawful for FSS to have ordered the destruction of our cheeses on September 14 and secondly because we believed it was incumbent as a matter of fairness for FSS to share the evidence which they have been relying on with us.

“We are pleased to report that it has now been recognised that the destruction of our cheese was unwarranted and unnecessary and that FSS has finally started to share the evidence which they possess with us.”

In a statement, Food Standards Scotland confirmed that samples taken from different batches of different cheeses tested positive for E. coli O157 and for other strains of the bacteria.

FSS chief executive Geoff Ogle said: “This outbreak led to one fatality and 11 people being hospitalised. This was a major food incident where there was a significant risk to public health, with a tragic outcome. We have therefore decided to release the three versions of our risk assessment, each undertaken as new information became available, as well as our final risk management decision document.”

In a food safety information vacuum, anyone can say anything.

I understand there are uncertainties, legal implications, and a general fear that people don’t understand science, but if a regulator is going to shut down a business they need to make their case publicly – or others will do it for them (and they won’t like the result).

It’s a messy, modern world for regulators, but they, like scientists and everyone else, must be prepared to be held legally, politically and publicly accountable for their actions.

War is just a tweet away.

Everyone must be held accountable.

The actions described below should be incorporated into routine public health policy.

And by going public, the company backed off its ridiculous claims.

Geoff Ogle said a few days ago,, “Given the understandable level of interest and press coverage regarding the E. coli O157 outbreak linked to products from Errington Cheese Ltd, FSS has taken the decision that it is in the public interest to publish the information that we have used to inform our decision-making with regards to this incident.

“This outbreak led to one fatality and 11 people being hospitalised. This was a major food incident where there was a significant risk to public health, with a tragic outcome.

“We have therefore decided to release the , each undertaken as new information became available, as well as our final risk management decision document. Of particular relevance is the summary of the circumstances and information available to us at 14 September when FSS decided to undertake a full recall of all Errington Cheese Ltd products. The risk management document of 8 November 2016 sets out our conclusions at paragraphs 15-18 based on the risk assessments we have undertaken.

“I have seen a number of comments today and over the past weeks about this incident which FSS does not recognise nor accept. Reference to recent legal actions should not be about claiming any sort of victory given the consequences of the E. coli O157 outbreak. There is nothing to celebrate and this was never a vendetta against the rights to make, sell and consume cheese made from raw milk, nor against Errington Cheese Ltd. Given all that has happened it is sad to see this being portrayed as such in some quarters.

“Finally, I want to put on record my thanks to all FSS staff involved, and to our partner organisations who have supported our endeavours in managing this incident for their magnificent efforts. Their entire focus has been on protecting public health and making the right decisions based on the evidence we had. Scotland is fortunate to have such dedicated public servants.”

Go public.

War is just a tweet away.

Most dangerous foods for Shiga-toxin producing E. coli: Beef, dairy (esp raw), vegetables (esp sprouts)

Background: Foodborne illness is a continuing public health problem in the United States. Although outbreak-associated illnesses represent a fraction of all foodborne illnesses, foodborne outbreak investigations provide critical information on the pathogens, foods, and food-pathogen pairs causing illness. Therefore, identification of a food source in an outbreak investigation is key to impacting food safety.

lettuceObjective: The objective of this study was to systematically identify outbreak-associated case demographic and outbreak characteristics that are predictive of food sources using Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) outbreaks reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1998 to 2014 with a single ingredient identified.

Materials and Methods: Differences between STEC food sources by all candidate predictors were assessed univariately. Multinomial logistic regression was used to build a prediction model, which was internally validated using a split-sample approach.

Results: There were 206 single-ingredient STEC outbreaks reported to CDC, including 125 (61%) beef outbreaks, 30 (14%) dairy outbreaks, and 51 (25%) vegetable outbreaks. The model differentiated food sources, with an overall sensitivity of 80% in the derivation set and 61% in the validation set.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the feasibility for a tool for public health professionals to rule out food sources during hypothesis generation in foodborne outbreak investigation and to improve efficiency while complementing existing methods.

Food source prediction of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli outbreaks using demographic and outbreak characteristics, United States, 1998–2014

White Alice, Cronquist Alicia, Bedrick Edward J., and Scallan Elaine.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. October 2016, 13(10): 527-534. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2140.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2140

E. coli O157 detected in 5 of 21 sickened after eating cutlets in Japan

The Japan Times reports that five of 21 people who fell ill after eating frozen cutlets sold by a company in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, have been found to suffer from food poisoning from the O157 strain of E. coli bacteria, prefectural health officials said Tuesday.

niku-no-ishikawaThe patients’ symptoms included stomachaches and diarrhea. The O157 strain was detected from the cutlets and the patients’ stools.

The frozen cutlets, made of minced beef and pork, were sold by the meat company Niku No Ishikawa, according to the prefectural officials.

The best-before date of the products, made by a company in neighboring Shizuoka Prefecture on behalf of Niku No Ishikawa, was set at Feb. 26, 2017.

The cutlets were sold at 26 Ito-Yokado Co. supermarkets in Kanagawa and Chiba Prefecture. Ito-Yokado, a unit of Seven & I Holdings Co., had removed all of the products from its stores as of Wednesday.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Government is calling on purchasers of the cutlets not to eat them and contact the stores where they were bought.

UK farm still owes £100k over E. coli outbreak at petting zoo

In April 2014, at least 15 people, primarily children, who visited a petting farm in Lancashire were stricken with E. coli O157.

lambing-live-prestonWhen the outbreak was first reported, the UK National Farmer’s Union reassured people that petting farms are safe as long as hygiene rules are followed and that they should continue to go despite the E. coli outbreak.

Not quite.

You people are assholes.

There have been outbreaks where pathogens have been aerosolized and that handwashing was not a significant control factor.

In 2014, a UK court heard that four children suffered potentially life-threatening kidney failure after an E. coli outbreak at a Lancashire farm shop.

Huntley’s Country Stores, near Preston, admitted health and safety breaches at a lambing event in April 2014.

The four children needed life-saving kidney dialysis with one needing three operations and blood transfusions.

The farming attraction was fined £60,000 and told to pay £60,000 costs at Preston Crown Court on Monday.

In total, 15 people were struck down by the bug – 13 of them children – with nine needing hospital treatment. A further 15 possible cases were also recorded.

The court heard the tragically typical litany of errors:

  • visitors allowed uncontrolled access to lambs – children could enter animal pens and roll in feces-covered straw;
  • during bottle-feeding, lambs were allowed to climb onto seats, leaving them soiled with feces;
  • pens had open bar gates allowing contaminated bedding to spill onto main visitor area;
  • animals were densely packed, allowing bacteria build-up; and,
  • hand washing basins meant for visitors were used to clean animal feeding dishes.

Juliette Martin, of Clitheroe, took her daughter Annabelle, 7, to the ‘Lambing Live’ event at Easter in 2014.

The youngster, who had bottle-fed a lamb, suffered kidney failure and needed three operations, three blood transfusions and 11 days of dialysis.

Mrs Martin said: “If we ever thought that by feeding lambs that our daughter would be fighting for her life we would never have visited Huntley’s.”

Now, while the company has “accepted responsibility in court for failings in the assessment of risks” it hasn’t paid up.

The latest count is more than 20 children ill from the 2014 visit, and the owners of Huntley’s Country Stores still owe more than £100,000 after being convicted of health and safety offences in December 2015.

Managing director Harry Wilson appeared before Blackburn magistrates to ask for more time to pay the financial penalties.

Magistrates were told that the outfit had repaid £14,800 of the court costs, leaving £45,120 outstanding. But the £60,000 fine was still owed, the court was told.

Mr Wilson told magistrates that the after effects of the publicity surrounding the E.coli case, which was brought by South Ribble Council, were still being felt by the business.

Questioned by magistrates about how the outstanding sums could be met, he said: “At the present moment we cannot afford any more because we are just starting to get the business going. It might be two years before we recover.”

Huntley’s had been previously ordered to pay £5,000 every three months.

Magistrates ordered that they should be required to find £1,000 every month instead, up to and including May 2017. The penalty would then resume at its previous rate.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.