It’s about the same amount of effort the boffins at Public Health Agency of Canada put into announcing an outbreak of E. coli O121 that has sickened at least 12 people from B.C. to Newfoundland.
There have been 12 cases of E. coli O121 with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in three provinces: British Columbia (4), Saskatchewan (4), and Newfoundland and Labrador (4). The illness onset dates range from November to December 2016. Four individuals have been hospitalized. These individuals have recovered or are recovering. The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing.
The immune response against EHEC in cattle cannot always clear the infection as persistent colonization and shedding in infected animals over a period of months often occurs. In previous infection trials, we observed a primary immune response after infection which was unable to protect cattle from re-infection. These results may reflect a suppression of certain immune pathways, making cattle more prone to persistent colonization after re-infection.
To test this, RNA-Seq was used for transcriptome analysis of recto-anal junction tissue and ileal Peyer’s patches in nine Holstein-Friesian calves in response to a primary and secondary Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection with the Shiga toxin (Stx) negative NCTC12900 strain. Non-infected calves served as controls.
In tissue of the recto-anal junction, only 15 genes were found to be significantly affected by a first infection compared to 1159 genes in the ileal Peyer’s patches. Whereas, re-infection significantly changed the expression of 10 and 17 genes in the recto-anal junction tissue and the Peyer’s patches, respectively. A significant downregulation of 69 immunostimulatory genes and a significant upregulation of seven immune suppressing genes was observed.
Although the recto-anal junction is a major site of colonization, this area does not seem to be modulated upon infection to the same extent as ileal Peyer’s patches as the changes in gene expression were remarkably higher in the ileal Peyer’s patches than in the recto-anal junction during a primary but not a secondary infection. We can conclude that the main effect on the transcriptome was immunosuppression by E. coli O157:H7 (Stx−) due to an upregulation of immune suppressive effects (7/12 genes) or a downregulation of immunostimulatory effects (69/94 genes) in the ileal Peyer’s patches. These data might indicate that a primary infection promotes a re-infection with EHEC by suppressing the immune function.
Potential immunosuppressive effects of Escherichia coli O157:H7 experimental infection on the bovine host
BMC Genomics; 2016; 17:1049; DOI: 10.1186/s12864-016-3374-y; Published: 21 December 2016
E. Kieckens, J. Rybarczyk, R. W. Li, D. Vanrompay, and E. Cox
This is why avant-garde jazz saxophonists shouldn’t be responsible for food safety
And that’s nothing against avant-garde jazz saxophonists, although I hate jazz.
But what I really hate is when people make dumb decisions that lead to another’s death, all marketed with the halo of natural, and yet still heralded as some titan of business.
In late Oct. 1996, an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 was traced to juice containing unpasteurized apple cider manufactured by Odwalla in the northwest U.S. Sixty-four people were sickened and a 16-month-old died from E. coli O157:H7. During subsequent grand jury testimony, it was revealed that while Odwalla had written contracts with suppliers to only provide apples picked from trees rather than drops – those that had fallen to the ground and would be more likely to be contaminated with feces, in this case, deer feces — the company never verified if suppliers were actually doing what they said they were doing. Earlier in 1996, Odwalla had sought to supply the U.S. Army with juice. An Aug. 6, 1996 letter from the Army to Odwalla stated, “we determined that your plant sanitation program does not adequately assure product wholesomeness for military consumers. This lack of assurance prevents approval of your establishment as a source of supply for the Armed Forces at this time.”
Once a huckster, always a huckster.
Stephanie Strom of the N.Y. Times reports for the past 20 years, Greg Steltenpohl, an avant-garde jazz saxophonist turned beverage entrepreneur, has worked to rekindle the magic behind his greatest hit — and make peace with a nightmare that led to an abrupt fall.
Food safety issue: Mr. Steltenpohl started the juice company Odwalla in 1980, selling drinks out of his band’s Volkswagen van in and around San Francisco. Within a few years, the company was a multimillion-dollar business, flying high as one of the first breakout healthy drinks now commonplace in grocery aisles.
Then, in 1996, a child died and dozens were sickened because of contaminated apple juice produced by Odwalla, changing everything. About 90 percent of the company’s revenue evaporated almost overnight in the wake of the outbreak. With the company on the brink of bankruptcy, Mr. Steltenpohl and his partners were forced to sell a controlling interest in Odwalla to private equity firms, the equivalent — to him — of selling out to the devil. Not long after, the company was sold to Coca-Cola.
Dude, you sold out long before that, pushing production and foregoing safety to make bucks.
Quite a fairytale he spins.
“Odwalla took him to the top of the world and then to the bottom,” said Berne Evans, his business partner today. “I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it.”
But now Mr. Steltenpohl, a gentle and avuncular 62, is once again near the center of beverage industry buzz as the head of Califia Farms, a nut milk business that is fast expanding into bottled coffees and other drinks. This time, he is taking advantage of a new trend sweeping the industry, as young beverage companies — empowered by changes in distribution and consumer tastes — are rising and competing successfully with titans like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
Only a few years after its founding, in 2012, Califia is on track to ring up $100 million in sales and is adding products at a fast clip. The company is considered one of the hottest young brands in the beverage world, leading to whispers about whether one of the big competitors will soon swoop in with a buyout offer that Mr. Steltenpohl and his partners can’t refuse.
Not this time, he insists. “I’ve had to sell out once,” Mr. Steltenpohl said. “That was enough.”
The story has lots of financial stuff, and how people who know shit about food safety market and sell shit to people who don’t know better, and the people who know shit make billions.
With Trump as President, the time is ripe for a comeback, I guess.
Duane Stanford, the editor of Beverage Digest, said a young beverage company today can buy its flavors from a flavor house, branding expertise from a branding expert and manufacturing from a producer on contract.
“You have this situation where these companies can become viable, robust, cash-generating businesses without the help of a big company,” he said. “They’re even getting creative at building independent distribution networks.”
Odwalla came together out of a necessity to eat. After graduating from Stanford with a degree in environmental sciences, Mr. Steltenpohl joined with some friends to start a band called the Stance. He also got hooked on the taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice, which his father made for him.
“We were a band of musicians who weren’t really that accomplished — or popular,” Mr. Steltenpohl said of himself and the band members, who became his partners in Odwalla. “We were broke and starving, and we figured if we started a juice business, we could live off the juice and maybe make a little extra.”
He read a book, “100 Businesses You Can Start For $100,” and the partners invested in a juicer and started making juice. They didn’t even try to break into groceries and convenience stores, instead stocking refrigerators in video stores and laundromats with Odwalla fresh juice each day. “Everyone who was a musician back then was basically living out of a VW bus,” Mr. Steltenpohl said. “We quit living in ours and began selling juice out of the back.”
For most of its early years, the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union financed the company. But as consumers cottoned on to its intensely flavored, wacky mixes of unpasteurized juice, it needed something more.
In October, 1996, a 16-month-old Denver girl drank Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. of Half Moon Bay, California. She died several weeks later; 64 others became ill in several western U.S. states and British Columbia after drinking the same juices, which contained unpasteurized apple cider — and E. coli O157:H7. Investigators believed that some of the apples used to make the cider might have been ins
The brand’s claims about the healthiness came back to haunt it as reporters dug into its failure to heed warnings about food-safety lapses.
Those failures are legendary in the food safety world, and a similar failure for Steltenpohl to say, “(Coke) never saw the enormous potential of the Odwalla brand and instead saw it as just another product in the juice portfolio.”
It’s also a failure for the N.Y Times to not report how those Odwalla failures went straight to the top..
Odwalla’s brand is nothing more than a cautionary food safety fairytale.
I have many.
Maybe Cafia will become one.
The story notes that Steltenpohl is also trying to avoid past mistakes. The plant is equipped with cutting-edge food-safety monitors that share alerts about problems as they happen with the entire senior management team. Josh Butt, who previously oversaw food safety systems at Danone, the big French dairy company, presides over the plant’s operations.
Cutting-edge is a phrase that appeals to investors but means shit to any food safety type.
Cutting corners is this guy’s calling card.
And making a buck.
This is what I wrote at the time:
Sometime in late September 1996, 16-month-old Anna Gimmestad of Denver has a glass of Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. After her parents noticed bloody diarrhea, Anna was admitted to Children’s Hospital on Oct. 16. On 8 November 1996 she died after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest. Anna had severe kidney problems, related to hemolytic uremic syndrome and her heart had stopped several times in previous days.
The juice Anna — and 65 others who got sick — drank was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, linked to fresh, unpasteurized apple cider used as a base in the juices manufactured by Odwalla. Because they were unpasteurized, Odwalla’s drinks were shipped in cold storage and had only a two-week shelf life. Odwalla was founded 16 years ago on the premise that fresh, natural fruit juices nourish the spirit. And the bank balance: in fiscal 1996, Odwalla sales jumped 65 per cent to $60 million (U.S.). Company chairman Greg Steltenpohl told reporters that the company did not routinely test for E. coli because it was advised by industry experts that the acid level in the apple juice was sufficient to kill the bug.
Who these industry experts are remains a mystery. Odwalla insists the experts were the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA isn’t sure who was warned and when. In addition to all the academic research and media coverage concerning verotoxigenic E. coli cited above, Odwalla claimed ignorance.
In terms of crisis management — and outbreaks of foodborne illness are increasingly contributing to the case study literature on crisis management — Odwalla responded appropriately. Company officials responded in a timely and compassionate fashion, initiating a complete recall and co-operating with authorities after a link was first made on Oct. 30 between their juice and illness. They issued timely and comprehensive press statements, and even opened a web site containing background information on both the company and E. coli O157:H7. Upon learning of Anna’s death, Steltenpohl issued a statement which said, “On behalf of myself and the people at Odwalla, I want to say how deeply saddened and sorry we are to learn of the loss of this child. Our hearts go out to the family and our primary concern at this moment is to see that we are doing everything we can to help them.”
For Odwalla, or any food firm to say it had no knowledge that E. coli O157 could survive in an acid environment is unacceptable. When one of us called this $60-million-a-year-company with the great public relations, to ask why they didn’t know that E. coli O157 was a risk in cider, it took over a day to return the call. That’s a long time in crisis-management time. More galling was that the company spokeswoman said she had received my message, but that her phone mysteriously couldn’t call Canada that day.
Great public relations; lousy management. What this outbreak, along with cyclospora in fresh fruit in the spring of 1996 and dozens of others, demonstrates is that, vigilance, from farm to fork, is a mandatory requirement in a global food system. Risk assessment, management and communication must be interlinked to accommodate new scientific and public information. And that includes those funky and natural fruit juices.
In sentencing me to jail in 1982, the judge said I had a memory of convenience.
I had said I had a memory of not much.
Spinach and lettuce growers seem to have a memory of not much, given the produce industry’s revisions to the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in spinach that killed four and sickened 200.
In October, 1996, a 16-month-old Denver girl drank Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. of Half Moon Bay, California. She died several weeks later; 64 others became ill in several western U.S. states and British Columbia after drinking the same juices, which contained unpasteurized apple cider — and E. coli O157:H7. Investigators believed that some of the apples used to make the cider might have been insufficiently washed after falling to the ground and coming into contact with deer feces.
In the decade between these two watershed outbreaks, almost 500 outbreaks of foodborne illness involving fresh produce were documented, publicized and led to some changes within the industry, yet what author Malcolm Gladwell would call a tipping point — “a point at which a slow gradual change becomes irreversible and then proceeds with gathering pace” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipping_Point) — in public awareness about produce-associated risks did not happen until the spinach E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the fall of 2006. At what point did sufficient evidence exist to compel the fresh produce industry to embrace the kind of change the sector has heralded since 2007? And at what point will future evidence be deemed sufficient to initiate change within an industry?
In 1996, following extensive public and political discussions about microbial food safety in meat, the focus shifted to fresh fruits and vegetables, following an outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanesis ultimately linked to Guatemalan raspberries that sickened 1,465 in 21 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997), and subsequently Odwalla. That same year, Beuchat (1996) published a review on pathogenic microorganisms in fresh fruits and vegetables and identified numerous pathways of contamination.
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O153:H48
E. coli O153:H47
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O153:H46
E. coli O157:H10
E. coli O153:H49
Table 1. Outbreaks of foodborne illness related to leafy greens, 1992-1996.
By 1997, researchers at CDC were stating that pathogens could contaminate at any point along the fresh produce food chain — at the farm, processing plant, transportation vehicle, retail store or foodservice operation and the home — and that by understanding where potential problems existed, it was possible to develop strategies to reduce risks of contamination. Researchers also reported that the use of pathogen-free water for washing would minimize risk of contamination.
E. coli O157:H9
E. coli O111:H8
E. coli O157:H11
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
Table 2. 1999 U.S. outbreaks of STEC linked to leafy greens
Yet it would take a decade and some 29 leafy green-related outbreaks before spinach in 2006 became a tipping point.
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H8
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
Table 3: Leafy green outbreaks of STEC, 2000 — 2002.
What was absent in this decade of outbreaks, letters from regulators, plans from industry associations and media accounts, was verification that farmers and others in the farm-to-fork food safety system were seriously internalizing the messages about risk, the numbers of sick people, and translating such information into front-line food safety behavioral change.
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
E. coli O157:H7
Table 4: Leafy green STEC outbreaks, 2003 — 2005.
So why was spinach in 2006 the tipping point?
It shouldn’t have been.
But it lets industry apologists say, how the hell could we known?
Tom Karst of The Packer reports the crisis of confidence in the status quo of produce safety practices arrived with a thud a little more than 10 years ago.
Beginning Sept. 14 and continuing until Sept. 20, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued daily news releases that flatly advised consumers “not to eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice.”
The agency had never before issued such a broad warning about a commodity, said Robert Brackett, who in 2006 was director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutritions. Brackett is now vice president and director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology,
“In this particular case all we knew (was) that it was bagged leafy spinach, but we had no idea whose it was or where it was coming from,” he said in December of this year.
“It was a very scary couple of days because we had all of these serious cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome popping up and people getting sick, and it was so widespread across the country.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about half of those who were ill were hospitalized during the 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak.
“It was shocking how little confidence that FDA and consumers had in the produce industry at that moment,” said David Gombas, retired senior vice president of food safety and technology for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
Given the history of outbreaks, the only thing shocking was that the industry continued to expect blind faith.
“For FDA to say ‘Don’t eat any spinach,’ they blamed an entire commodity, and it became very clear to the produce industry at that moment they had to do something to restore public confidence and FDA confidence in the safety of fresh produce,” Gombas said Nov. 30.
“One of the things that was very different and had the greatest impact was the consumer advisory against spinach — period — regardless of where it came from,” said Trevor Suslow, extension research specialist and director of the University of California-Davis Postharvest Technology Center.
The stark warning — immediately followed by steeply falling retail spinach sales — was issued in the midst of a multistate E. coli foodborne illness outbreak eventually linked to Dole brand baby spinach.
The product was processed, packed and shipped by Natural Selection Foods of San Juan Bautista, Calif., which markets the Earthbound Farm brand.
U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that California’s spinach shipments plummeted from 258,774 cartons in August 2006 to 138,278 cartons in September, a drop of nearly 50%.
Shipping point prices for spinach on the California coast dropped from $8.45-10.45 per carton on Sept. 14 — the day that FDA first issued its advice to avoid for consumers to avoid spinach — to $4.85-6.15 per carton on Sept. 15.
No market was reported by the USDA for the rest of September because supplies were insufficient to quote.
The final update on the 2006 spinach outbreak was published by the CDC in October. By March 2007, the FDA issued its own final report about its investigation on the cause of the outbreak.
The CDC said in October 2006 that 199 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported to CDC from 26 states. Later, the tally of those sickened was raised to 205.
Gombas said the FDA warning in mid-September caused leafy green sales to crash, not fully recovering for nearly a decade.
“There were outbreaks before that, but none of them were as devastating to industry or public confidence as that one.”
The FDA and the California Department of Public Health issued a 51-page report on the extensive investigation into the causes of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with the contaminated Dole brand baby spinach.
The report said investigators identified the environmental risk factors and the areas that were most likely involved in the outbreak. However, they were unable to definitely determine the source of the contamination.
The investigation explored the source of the spinach in 13 bags containing E. coli O157:H7 isolates that had been collected nationwide from sick customers, according to a summary of the report.
Using the product codes on the bags, and employing DNA fingerprinting on the bacteria from the bags, the investigators were able to match environmental samples of E. coli O157:H7 from one field to the strain that had caused the outbreak, according to the report.
The report said E. coli O157:H7 isolates located on the Paicines Ranch in San Benito had a (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) pattern indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. The report said the pattern was identified in river water, cattle feces and wild pig feces on the Paicines Ranch, the closest of which was just under one mile from the spinach field.
According to investigators, the sources of the potential environmental risk factors for E.coli contamination at or near the field included the presence of wild pigs and the proximity of irrigation wells and waterways exposed to feces from cattle and wildlife.
From 1995 to 2006, researchers had linked nine outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 infections to, or near, the Salinas Valley region. But the 2006 spinach outbreak was different.
There were guidelines for growers in 2006, but not a way to make sure growers were following them, said Joe Pezzini, CEO of Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif.
The inquiry into the Hastings District Council’s request to re-activate a Brookvale Road bore to augment Havelock North’s peak summer water supply retired today with a set of draft recommendations.
Before wrapping up proceedings, inquiry panel chair Lyn Stevens QC thanked the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) and Hastings District Council (HDC) for the efforts they made that resulted in the regional council dropping its prosecution of the Hastings council.
This agreement came after the first day of hearings on Monday, when pressure was applied by the panel to re-consider the charges.
After extensive questioning on Monday, the regional council agreed to withdraw the charges relating to breaches of the Hastings District Council’s resource consent conditions for taking water from Brookvale bores 1 and 2 – opting to instead consider issuing infringement notices.
Mr Stevens said, “The panel has noted a level of defensiveness in some of the evidence filed to date.
“I’m not being critical of any organisation or witness but wish to emphasise the overriding interest with this inquiry is the public interest, while we look to fulfil the terms of reference to determine the possible causes of contamination.”
A set of 16 draft recommendations were issued and Mr Stevens said the joint working group would be an important conduit to implement them.
The aim was to have the bore re-opened at the end of January before Havelock North water use reached peak demand in February.
Among the recommendations was a directive that the working group – comprising representation from HDC, HBRC, the DHB and drinking water assessors – meet regularly and share information of any potential drinking water safety risk.
For at least 12 months from December 12, the bore would receive cartridge filtration, UV and chlorine treatment, and a regime of regular montioring be implemented.
It was also recommended that the HDC draft an Emergency Response Plan before Bore 3 was brought on line.
Six major Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serogroups: O26, O103, O145, O111, O121, and O45 have been declared as adulterants in federally inspected raw beef in the USA effective June 4th, 2012 in addition to the routinely tested STEC O157: H7. This study tests a real-time multiplex PCR assay and pooling of the samples to optimize the detection and quantification (prevalence and contamination) of six major non-O157 STEC, regardless of possessing Shiga toxins.
To demonstrate the practicality, one large-scale slaughter plant (Plant LS) and one small-scale slaughter plant (Plant SS) located in the Mid-Western USA were sampled, in 2011, before the establishment of 2013 USDA laboratory protocols. Carcasses were sampled at consecutive intervention stations and beef trimmings were collected at the end of the fabrication process. Plant SS had marginally more contaminated samples than Plant LS (p-value 0.08). The post-hide removal wash, steam pasteurization, and lactic acid (≤5%) spray used in Plant LS seemed to reduce the six serogroups effectively, compared to the hot-water wash and 7-day chilling at Plant SS.
Compared to the culture isolation methods, quantification of the non-O157 STEC using real-time PCR may be an efficient way to monitor the efficacy of slaughter line interventions.
Evaluating the efficacy of beef slaughter line interventions by quantifying the six major non-O157 Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli serogroups using real-time multiplex PCR
Food Microbiology, Volume 63, May 2017, Pages 228-238, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2016.11.023
KST Kanankege, KS Anklam, CM Fick, MJ Kulow, CW Kaspar, BH Ingham, A Milkowski, D Döpfer
Ashley Nickle of The Packer reports that Bruce Taylor, CEO and founder of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, emphatically denounced the study.
“We find the artificial conditions created by this study to be ridiculous,” Taylor said in an e-mail. “Producers of bagged salads do not have ‘juice’ in the salad bag, and producers take painstaking steps to avoid the introduction of salmonella or any other pathogen.”
The conclusion regarding refrigeration was the only notable one in the study, said Trevor Suslow, a member of the technical committee of the Center for Produce Safety. Scientists would expect salmonella to be able to survive at the temperature recorded in the study but would not expect it to grow, he said.
“People will definitely be trying to reproduce their results as far as growth under refrigeration temperature for salmonella,” Suslow said. “That’s, for me, the key issue.”
Suslow, an extension research specialist at the University of California-Davis, said it is already known that a bagged salad is an environment in which salmonella can have the nutrients it needs to grow, which is why the industry has focused so intently on ensuring no pathogens make it into bags into the first place.
Drew McDonald, vice president of quality, food safety and regulatory affairs at Salinas-based Church Brothers Farms, said in an e-mail that, although the researchers did some things well, he also had some issues with the study.
“From my read, the study essentially grew salmonella in juices extracted from actual bagged salads in a mixture of sterile water,” McDonald said. “The issue is that in the ‘real’ world the salmonella has to come from somewhere (the surface of the leaf for example) but along with this would be many other microorganisms. That they were able to grow salmonella under these forced, artificial conditions without any competition from other organisms is not surprising.”
Along with the growth conditions, the washed status of the lettuce also gave McDonald pause.
“From my understanding, (the) project used ‘bagged salad,’” McDonald said. “I am assuming this means it was already washed. The fact that they added salad juice and salmonella after it had already been bagged and washed really just shows how important it is to not cross-contaminate cleaned product.”
The researchers, as a result of their findings, suggested people eat bagged salads as soon as possible after purchase to minimize risk. They wrote in a question-and-answer supplement to the release that they no longer keep their bagged salads in the refrigerator longer than one day.
“Ridiculous recommendation,” Taylor said in his e-mail. “For 30 years consumers have enjoyed hundreds of millions of bagged salads weekly with great benefit to their health and wellbeing.”
Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, also disagreed with the recommendation.
“People should always follow the instructions, including best-by dates, on packages, mainly so that they experience the best quality product,” McEntire said in an e-mail. “People shouldn’t be afraid to keep salad in their refrigerators for the full duration of the shelf life.”
She may mean use-by dates.
Suslow described the study as another piece of the puzzle in trying to find long-term solutions for food safety issues, but he was not impressed by it.
“Sort of generating a lot of additional concern and fear without any real basis for changing what (is) sort of standard practice isn’t necessarily helpful,” Suslow said. “Could hurt the category, but probably no more so than other things such as those instances when there are outbreaks or recalls.
“I think consumers understand that there’s no such thing as zero risk,” Suslow said (smartest thing anyone said in this story). “They understand and appreciate the convenience of packaged salads with multiple ingredients with very healthy mixed leafy greens, and that’s how the category has grown.”
A 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.
“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.”
The research is cool, but to me it culminates 16 years of Chapman becoming a better researcher.
I 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.
Often 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
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.
Both 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.
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.