E. coli outbreak at Minnesota reservation

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed several cases of a foodborne illness linked to E-coli on the Fond du Lac reservation.

Between six and 12 people have come down with symptoms of E-coli poisoning over the last week.

The Department of Health is still investigating the source of the E-coli contamination and does not know the strain of the outbreak.

Label rules take effect next month for mechanically tenderized beef in Canada

Canadian shoppers will be able to see next month if the beef they’re buying has been mechanically tenderized.

Labelling regulations to take effect Aug. 21 are designed to protect consumers after the largest meat recall in the country’s history two years ago.

needle.tenderize.crHealth Canada says beef that has been mechanically tenderized must have a sticker saying that.

Packaged steaks must also have cooking instructions that the meat must reach an internal temperature of 63 C and must be turned at least twice.

Health Canada says the rules are meant to ensure that tenderized meat is labelled from the processor to the consumer, since it’s hard to tell just by looking at it.

But Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, said the cooking requirements are too complicated for most people and he wants mechanical tenderizing banned outright.

“What average Canadian having a beer and a steak is going to measure the temperature of the meat?” Cran asked.

Cran says irradiation of all meats is the best way to ensure meat is safe.

Health Canada received an application to irradiate ground beef, poultry, shrimp and prawns a decade ago, but a spokesman says the public was worried about the process.

Another application from the industry is under consideration.

Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, supports irradiation but says mechanically tenderized beef is safe as long as it’s cooked properly.

Klassen said the association was involved in the research that supported the new labelling, including the cooking instructions. He says it also tested the labels with a sample of Canadians to make sure they were understandable and practical.

He said the research determined that earlier Health Canada instructions to bring the meat to the same internal temperature as ground beef, 71 C, made the beef tougher. He said 63 C is safe as long as the meat is turned at least twice.

135 sick; maybe piping hot isn’t the best advice: Nottingham takeaway Khyber Pass closed after E. coli ‘outbreak’

I have no idea why it takes the Brits so long to inform people of impending health risks, other than the bureaucrats think they know better than the plebes.

the-khyber-passMore than 100 people fell ill after an “outbreak” of E. coli at a Nottingham takeaway, prompting an investigation by Public Health England.

The city council shut down The Khyber Pass in Hyson Green last month after reports of 13 people falling ill.

Now it has discovered 135 cases of gastrointestinal problems, 17 of which have been confirmed as E. coli.

The cause of the bug is not known and the restaurant will remain closed until the investigation is complete.

Paul Dales, from Nottingham City Council, said: “While a high number of cases with food poisoning-like symptoms relating to Khyber Pass have been reported to us, we are confident the closure of the premises has contained the outbreak.”

Nobody was available to comment from The Khyber Pass.


Quackery confirmed: raw beef making a comeback

It took a pregnant mother-of-one to point out to the six-figure bureaucrats at Queensland Health that a leaflet promoting the Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network was included in  pregnancy packs and listed as the only information source for vaccinations.

bullshitNot much different than Toronto Sick Kids hospital saying pregnant women can eat deli meats as long as they come from “reputable sources.”

And now the Washington Post, with this piece of food porn: “Every once in a while, Kapnos chef-owner George Pagonis will prepare a dish of lamb tartare, carefully plating the beautiful oval of ground meat atop a swish of charred eggplant puree and dollops of harissa, send it to the dining room — and it will promptly come back to the kitchen, untouched.

“A couple of people, when they order it, I guess they don’t know what tartare is. And they’re like, ‘Oh, is this raw?’ And they send it back,” said Pagonis. “You take all this time to make it look nice, and you’re like, what are you doing? I get all upset.”

But occasions for Pagonis to get upset are becoming almost as rare as that rosy-red lamb he’s serving. Diners are rediscovering the pleasures of a plate of velvety raw meat, as steak tartare makes a comeback (along with its Italian cousin, carpaccio).

Raw-meat dishes in ethnic cuisine — the Vietnamese bo tai chanh, Ethiopian kitfo and gored gored, and Lebanese kibbeh nayeh — are, of course, impervious to trends. But tartare, once a mark of sophistication at the “continental” restaurants of old, fell out of favor after the mad cow and E. coli scares of the 1990s. Now that the best restaurants are more cognizant of the conditions in which their animals are raised, diners who were once wary of eating raw meat might be more willing to let their guard down.

“Especially now, with these chef-driven restaurants, chefs are sourcing great products. And these products are more okay [for] eating raw,” said Pagonis. “People are trusting us.”

Absolute bullshit.

bullshit 2dIn December, an outbreak of E.  coli traced to steak tartare at a restaurant in Montreal sickened seven people. But Cliff Coles, president of California Microbiological Consulting, a company that tests food for produce and meat purveyors, said the risk of illness is minimal if chefs prepare well-sourced meat in a clean kitchen using proper technique.

“The beef industry has done a lot to improve not only the quality of the beef but the microbiological quality,” Coles said.


Bullshit ferments and grows and stinks. No bullshit. Literally.

Non-O157 shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli in U. S. retail ground beef

Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serotype O157:H7 and serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 are the leading cause of STEC-associated infections in humans in the United States. In the United States, these organisms are considered adulterants in raw nonintact beef products and in intact beef destined to be made into or used in nonintact raw beef products.

groundbeef_mediumThe objective of this study was to provide an estimate of the burden of the six serogroups of non-O157 STEC in ground beef obtained from retail stores across the United States. A convenience sample of commercial ground beef products (n = 1,129) were purchased from retail stores in 24 states from October 2011 to May 2012. The samples had various lean/fat proportions, muscle group of origin (chuck, round, sirloin, or not specified), and packaging types. For each ground beef sample, 25 g was inoculated in 225 ml of modified tryptic soy broth, stomached for 1 min, and then incubated at 41°C for 18 ± 2 h. These enrichment cultures were then screened for stx, eae, and O group genes using a commercially available, closed-platform PCR-based method. The potential positive samples were subjected to immunomagnetic separation and plated on modified Rainbow agar. Morphologically typical colonies were subjected to latex agglutination and PCR determination of stx and eae genes. Nine (0.8%) of the ground beef samples were potentially positive for at least one STEC serogroup after PCR screening. The serogroups detected by PCR assay were O26 (four samples), O103 (four samples), O145 (three samples), O45 (two samples), and O121 (one sample).

No STEC isolates belonging to these serogroups were recovered from the sample cultures. The current research provides updated surveillance data for non-O157 STEC isolates among commercial ground beef products and information regarding the potential sources of contamination from different parts of beef trims destined for ground beef production.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2014, pp. 1052-1240, pp. 1188-1192(5)

Liao, Yen-Te1; Miller, Markus F.1; Loneragan, Guy H.1; Brooks, J. Chance1; Echeverry, Alejandro1; Brashears, Mindy M.2


Isolation and Characterization of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli in range and feedlot cattle from postweaning to slaughter

Cattle are the main reservoirs for Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains. E. coli O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145, and O157 are among the STEC serogroups that cause severe foodborne illness and have been declared as adulterants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service.

feedlotThe objectives of this study were (i) to estimate the prevalence of non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157 in naturally infected beef cows and in steer calves at postweaning, during finishing, and at slaughter and (ii) to test non-O157 STEC isolates for the presence of virulence genes stx 1, stx 2, eaeA, and ehlyA.

Samples were collected from study animals during multiple sampling periods and included fecal grabs, rectal swabs, and midline sponge samples. Laboratory culture, PCR, and multiplex PCR were performed to recover and identify E. coli and the virulence genes. The prevalence of non-O157 STEC (serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O113, and O145) fecal shedding ranged from 8% (4 of 48 samples) to 39% (15 of 38 samples) in cows and 2% (1 of 47 samples) to 38% (9 of 24 samples) in steer calves. The prevalence of E. coli O157 fecal shedding ranged from 0% (0 of 38 samples) to 52% (25 of 48 samples) in cows and 2% (1 of 47 samples) to 31% (15 of 48 samples) in steer calves. In steer calves, the prevalence of non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157 was highest at postweaning, at 16% (15 of 96 samples) and 23% (22 of 96 samples), respectively.

Among the 208 non-O157 STEC isolates, 79% (164 isolates) had stx 1, 79% (165 isolates) had stx 2, and 58% (121 isolates) had both stx 1 and stx 2 genes. The percentage of non-O157 STEC isolates encoding the eaeA gene was low; of the 165 isolates tested, 8 (5%) were positive for eaeA and 135 (82%) were positive for ehlyA. Findings from this study provide further evidence of non-O157 STEC shedding in beef cows and steer calves particularly at the stage of postweaning and before entry into the feedlot.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2014, pp. 1052-1240, pp. 1052-1061(10)

Ekiri, Abel B.1; Landblom, Douglas2; Doetkott, Dawn3; Olet, Susan4; Shelver, Weilin L.5; Khaitsa, Margaret L.6


Are you controlling E. coli in that meat? Are you?

We described characteristics of the Escherichia coli O157 and Escherichia coli non-O157 illness investigations conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) during the 5-year period from 2006 through 2010.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175We created a multivariable logistic regression model to determine characteristics of these investigations that were associated with FSIS regulatory action, which was defined as having occurred if a product recall occurred or if FSIS personnel performed an environmental health assessment (Food Safety Assessment) at the implicated establishment.

During this period, FSIS took regulatory action in 38 of 88 (43%) investigations. Illness investigations in which FoodNet states were involved were more likely to result in regulatory action. Illness investigations in which state and local traceback, or FSIS traceback occurred were more likely to result in regulatory action. Reasons for lack of action included evidence of cross-contamination after the product left a regulated establishment, delayed notification, lack of epidemiological information, and insufficient product information.

rare.hamburgerFactors associated with regulatory action involving investigation of illnesses associated with shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli in products regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. July 2014, 11(7): 568-573. doi:10.1089/fpd.2013.1720.

Green Alice L., Seys Scott, Douris Aphrodite, Levine Jeoff, and Robertson Kis. 

MMWR Express app for iPhone and iPad now available

My second favorite bathtime pastime is  MMWR, otherwise know as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

image_thumb[9]And now there’s an app for that.

MMWR Express, is now available for free download in the Apple App Store for both iPhone and iPad. This application provides fast access to the blue summary boxes in the MMWR Weekly. Summaries can be viewed by publication date or by searching for a specific subject (e.g., Salmonella). It is the first iPhone/iPad app to provide MMWR content.

MMWR publications have been in existence since 1952, and today MMWR remains CDC’s primary vehicle for scientific publication of timely, reliable, authoritative, accurate, objective, and useful public health information and recommendations. MMWR readership, which extends around the globe, predominantly consists of physicians, nurses, public health practitioners, epidemiologists and other scientists, researchers, educators, pharmacists, and laboratorians.

This application is one of an expanding collection of mobile applications from CDC. Development of applications for other mobile operating systems is under consideration. When online, MMWR Express can quickly check for new content, ensuring that users always have the most up-to-date information. Users also can share content with others via e-mail, text message, Facebook, or Twitter. The free application is available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mmwr-express/id868245971?mt=8

E. coli on a lot of Norwegian meat

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (FSA) has discovered antibiotic resistant E. coli bacteria in turkey fillets on the Norwegian market, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Tuesday.

uncooked_turkey_breastThe FSA deputy supervisory director, Ole Fjetland, said that the situation is “worrisome” as they had no knowledge on how these bacteria have entered the poultry production in Norway.

The FSA has found the E. coli bacteria in about half of the turkey fillets they tested for monitoring antibiotic resistance.

The FSA has followed the bacteria since 2000 and the new technology they adopted gives results showing that the incidence is much higher than previously thought.

Times once again highlights food porn over safety

Like Stephen Colbert, I am surprised to know the N.Y. Times still exists in print, other than the weekly reminder I get to resubscribe for $0.99.

20100611-sous-vide-burger-12Their food content remains equally suspect.

Sam Sifton spent 1,600 words deconstructing the perfect burger, and never a mention of a thermometer. Here are the nosestrethers, and for those who like their food porn bloody, this article is for you.

“Simply grab a handful of beef and form it into a burger shape, then get it into the pan, season it and cook for about three minutes. Then turn it over and, if using, add cheese. The burger is done three to four minutes later for medium-rare.”

No verificatuion and medium-rare means nothing. All that matters is temperature.

“Better (and safer) to have a butcher grind your meat, asking for a coarse grind so that the ratio of meat to fat is clear to the eye.”

No evidence. It might feel better, but there is no microbiological data to suggest this approach is safer.

“In addition to concerns about the health risks associated with preground hamburger meat, there are culinary considerations as well.”

Food porn.