108 sickened; court rules no negligence in E. coli outbreak at NC state fair

The North Carolina State Fair is not, according to Courthouse News Service, liable after more than 100 people became sick after an E. coli outbreak at its petting zoo in 2004, the state appeals court ruled.

The state’s health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the infection of 108 people to the petting zoo at the state fair in 2004. Jeff Rolan and dozens of others then sued the fair’s sponsor, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

amy_s_lamb_aug_121-300x225The North Carolina Industrial Commission ruled in favor of the state, noting that veterinarians prepared for the fair by checking the animals’ health and removing those that were sick. Also, a veterinarian posted additional signs warning patients to wash their hands and also added hand sanitizers to the petting zoo area.


In light of these facts, the commission determined that the state had taken precautions to protect the health of the patrons.
 The plaintiffs argued on appeal that the state should have taken additional cautionary measures, such as providing better supervision, erecting a fence between the children and the animals, and providing information on the risk of E. coli infection. A three-judge panel with the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the commission’s ruling on April 1.
”While it was certainly possible for defendant to take the additional precautions suggested by plaintiffs, we agree with the Commission’s conclusion that Defendant did not fail to act with due care in October of 2004 to minimize the risk of exposure to E. coli,” Judge Linda Stephens wrote for the court. “Sources cited by the Commission note that it is impossible to eliminate the risk of enteric pathogens, like E. coli, in human-to-animal contact settings without eliminating petting zoos altogether.” 

Then maybe they should be eliminated, or at least much better controlled.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

03.Apr.14

Zoonoses and Public Health

G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12117/abstract?deniedAccess

Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. ‘It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the USA caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

WTF? New Zealand dairy cleared to sell raw milk after Campylobacter outbreak, two kids get E. coli from different NZ raw milk

As Village Milk Timaru in New Zealand begins selling raw milk after being linked to seven Campylobacter illnesses, at least two Timaru pupils have contracted E. coli following school trips, with raw milk being a possible cause.

colbert.raw.milkWho serves raw milk to schoolkids? They don’t have the choice adults do.

South Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Daniel Williams said, “All the children that have been sick have drunk raw milk, but it has not been confirmed what caused the illnesses yet.”

The pupils did not visit the Timaru farm of Stuart and Andrea Weir, which has been at the center of an ongoing Campylobacter investigation.

“We have had a clean run of at least five consecutive days. That gives us enough confidence to resume our operations in Timaru,” chief executive Mark Houston said.

“We don’t want to speculate or point fingers. We understand South Canterbury is a bit of a haven for Campylobacter.” 

Community rallies behind Oklahoma boy battling E. coli infection

Residents in a small town in northwest Oklahoma are rallying behind a young boy, who is fighting for his life after being infected with E. coli.

State health officials in Oklahoma are investigating a spike in a deadly strain of E. coli. Eight-year-old Connor Sneary of Alva, Oklahoma, is one of oklahoma.e.coliat least a dozen people who became hospitalized.

Connor has been in the intensive care unit at OU Children’s Hospital where he remains in critical condition. As part of the treatment, he is undergoing dialysis and blood transfusions.

Connor has a form of E. coli that the family believes may have been contracted at an agricultural event at the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds. Investigators say that is a possibility.

Several organizations are hosting events benefiting Connor’s family. The Oklahoma Blood Institute will have a special blood drive in Alva on Tuesday, April 8, from noon to 6 p.m., at the First Christian Church. All donations will be credited to Connor for his use.

Kids don’t get to choose: more illness with more raw milk in US

An alliance of food activists and anti-regulation libertarians is battling to legalize raw, unpasteurized milk, despite warnings from health officials about the rising toll of illnesses affecting adults and children alike.

Kimberly Kindy of The Washington Post writes that as the popularity of raw milk has grown, so too have associated outbreaks. They have nearly colbert.raw.milkdoubled over the past five years, with eight out of 10 cases occurring in states that have legalized sales of the unpasteurized product, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Public health officials have also documented how pathogens in raw milk have produced kidney failure in more than a dozen cases and paralysis in at least two.

The CDC, which analyzed more than a decade of outbreak data, said the chance of getting sick as part of an outbreak caused by raw milk is 150 times greater than from pasteurized milk. The agency reported that 796 people in 24 states had become sick after consuming raw milk between 2006 and 2011, the latest years for which complete data are available.

CDC and FDA officials say 55 percent of the victims are younger than 18 and got the beverage from a parent or guardian.

12 possibly sick with E. coli at Oklahoma State Fairgrounds; all worked with livestock

The State Health Department said that they are working on 12 cases of possible E. coli cases.

They said 8 of them were at the Youth Expo, but some of the other 4 may not have been there.

petting.zoo.10They are now backtracking and trying to figure out what these cases all had in common.

There were some pre-screening events held before the Youth Expo that are also being investigated.

The one thing the Health Department said all the cases have in common is that the people worked with livestock.

Beam me up: renewed calls for beef irradiation in Canada

Reynold Bergen, science director of the Beef Cattle Research Council, writes that irradiation has been used to pasteurize astronauts’ food since 1966.

Irradiation is also approved as a food safety treatment in over 50 countries back here on earth. For example, France, Belgium and the Netherlands use irradiation to combat foodborne pathogens in frogs’ legs, seafood, and poultry.  The U.S. has approved irradiation of meat. Canada has approved irradiation for spices, seasonings, flour, onions and seed Irradiation-beef-Cattlemens-Association-Canada-ionizing-radiation-Ecoli-bacteria-pathogens-EDIWeeklypotatoes, but not meat or poultry. Irradiation is safe for human food use at doses more than eight times higher than those approved for meat in the U.S. Irradiation does not cause the meat to become radioactive, and has less of an effect on food nutrients than cooking does, but irradiation can have undesirable effects on flavour or colour under some conditions.

Dr. Rick Holley at the University of Manitoba recently published two papers from research funded under Canada’s Beef Science Cluster.

One paper (Meat Science 96:413-418) examined whether a low dose (one kGy) of non-radioactive, ionizing electron-beam irradiation can eliminate verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) and salmonella from beef trim.

VTEC, also known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC, are E. coli that can cause illness in humans. E. coli O157:H7 is one of about 200 serotypes of VTEC. More than a third of VTEC-related illnesses in humans are also caused by non-O157 serotypes such as the “top 6” E. coli O26, O45, O103, O113, O111, O121 and O145. Salmonella is relatively uncommon in beef, but is more irradiation resistant than E. coli because salmonella is better at repairing DNA damaged by irradiation.

The second paper (Journal of Food Science 78:920-925) examined whether e-beam irradiation of beef trim affects the colour, aroma, texture, juiciness or flavour of beef patties.

Over 30 different VTEC (including E. coli O157:H7 and the “top 6” non-O157 VTECs), and six different salmonella serovars were screened for resistance to the one-kGy e-beam. Twelve of these bacteria were then pooled in four groups to test for survivors on beef. Fresh muscle pieces (outside flat, inside round, brisket, and sirloin) were separately inoculated Unknownwith either 1,000 bacteria/gram or 10 million/g of each of the four bacterial mixtures. These numbers are up to a million times higher than would normally be found in beef. The inoculated beef was exposed to a one-kGy e-beam. Surviving bacteria were recovered and counted during storage at 4 C for up to five days. Inoculated muscle pieces were also pre-treated with five per cent lactic acid before being frozen and exposed to the e-beam.

For sensory tests, the same types of fresh muscle pieces (but not inoculated with bacteria) were treated with the one-kGy e-beam. Fresh ground beef patties (10, 20 or 30 per cent fat) were separately formulated with zero, 10, 20, 50 or 100 per cent lean beef treated with the one-kGy e-beam, cooked and evaluated by a similar panel for colour, aroma, texture, juiciness and flavour.

In spite of the artificially high level of experimental contamination, treating fresh beef with the one-kGy e-beam eliminated more than 99.99 per cent of the VTEC E. coli and 99 per cent of the salmonella. The e-beam had less effect on salmonella when used on frozen beef, but this could be overcome if the beef was dipped in five per cent lactic acid before freezing.

The trained panel observed no effects of irradiation on the colour, aroma, texture, juiciness or flavour of beef patties, even when they were made entirely with beef that had been e-beam treated.

Irradiation was highly effective even in beef that was experimentally contaminated with up to a million times more bacteria than would be found in retail beef. Under normal processing conditions, a one-kGy e-beam would be expected to eliminate the hazard represented by all types of VTEC E. coli. Low-dose (one-kGy) e-beam treatment can effectively control E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 VTEC E. coli and salmonella in fresh beef trim. The e-beam did not significantly affect any sensory attributes of the beef patties, regardless of how much irradiated beef they contained. Low-dose e-beam treatment of beef trim to formulate ground beef appears to be a viable pathogen mitigation process that does not affect product quality.

Several hospitalized: E. coli linked to Oklahoma State Fairgrounds

The Oklahoma Health Department is investigating several cases of E. coli sickness with one thing in common, the State Fairgrounds.

Several people who attended the Oklahoma Youth Expo between March 12-royal.petting.zoo21 have been hospitalized with the illness.

Officials at the health department say contamination could come from anything from food vendors to the showcased livestock.

Prevalence of shiga-toxin producing E. coli, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes

There’s a lot of STECs out there.

Cooley et al report in Frontiers that, produce contaminated with enteric pathogens is a major source of foodborne illness in the United States. Lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds were sampled with Moore swabs bi-monthly for over 2 years at 30 locations in the vicinity of a leafy green growing region on the Central California Coast and screened for Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes lettuceto evaluate the prevalence and persistence of pathogen subtypes. The prevalence of STEC from 1386 samples was 11%; 110 samples (8%) contained E. coli O157:H7 with the highest prevalence occurring close to cattle operations. Non-O157 STEC isolates represented major clinical O-types and 57% contained both shiga toxin types 1 and 2 and intimin. Multiple Locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis of STEC isolates indicated prevalent strains during the period of study. Notably, Salmonella was present at high levels throughout the sampling region with 65% prevalence in 1405 samples resulting in 996 isolates with slightly lower prevalence in late autumn. There were 2, 8, and 14 sites that were Salmonella-positive over 90, 80, and 70% of the time, respectively. The serotypes identified most often were 6,8:d:-, Typhimurium, and Give. Interestingly, analysis by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis indicated persistence and transport of pulsotypes in the region over several years. In this original study of L. monocytogenes in the region prevalence was 43% of 1405 samples resulting in 635 individual isolates. Over 85% of the isolates belonged to serotype 4b with serotypes 1/2a, 1/2b, 3a, 4d with 4e representing the rest, and there were 12 and 2 sites that were positive over 50 and 80% of the time, respectively. Although surface water is not directly used for irrigation in this region, transport to the produce can occur by other means. This environmental survey assesses initial contamination levels toward an understanding of transport leading to produce recalls or outbreaks. 

Salami with E. coli pulled from shelves in Netherlands

The Italian company, Fiorucci, pulled 4,230 packages of 80 gram Salame Milano off the shelves in the Netherlands because they may be contaminated with E. coli. Albert Heijn is the only Dutch supermarket carrying the product.

Salame MilanoThe bacterium E.coli VTEC (or STEC) was found during a check by Campofrío Food Group.

The affected packages were sold in the Netherlands between January 30 and February 13. Only packages with expiration date April 21, 2014 are affected. The product was also distributed in Belgium and Austria.

Crisis? What Crisis: Texas meat company remains silent on E. coli-related beef recall

I don’t know why a little-known Fort Worth meat company that recalled nearly 16,000 pounds of beef would want to hurt its image, but saying nothing is a bad strategy – one that even big firms do routinely.

Sometimes it makes sense, because there’s nothing to say, and platitudes make things worse, but when you’re listed as the PR contact as PFP Enterprises President Jim Piep is, 96_supertramp_crisisdeclining to comment just raises suspicion.

It’s OK to say you don’t know. It’s a simple playbook: this is what we know, this is what we don’t know, this is what we’re doing to find out more.

According to a report in the Star-Ledger, USDA cannot compel a private company to respond to media requests for information.

PFP’s registered agent is Lucas Melott, who is chief financial officer of a Dallas meat company named Patterson Food Processors. Melott declined to say whether the two firms are related or answer other questions.

Charles Sanger of Charleston\Orwig, said in a recent report that companies too often “default to a bunker mentality” to wait out the media storm.

“This can be a critical, if not fatal, error, particularly in the 21st century communications landscape in which we all operate,” he said. “This all is magnified in the food system, where issues often are related to food safety and take the form of recalls of food products, at times with associated risks to human health,” Sanger wrote.