E. coli cases being investigated at Lovelock Correctional Center

Just cause you’re in jail doesn’t mean you deserve food poisoning.

Public health officials are investigating a case of E. coli at the Lovelock Correctional Center, the Nevada Department of Corrections said Thursday.

Besides the confirmed case at the prison about 100 miles northeast of Reno, there are two suspected cases of E. coli being examined, the department said in a news release.

5 now sick with E. coli from ND fair

A fifth case of E. coli possibly linked to the Red River Valley Fair was confirmed Tuesday by the North Dakota Department of Health.

red.river_The case joins four others that have been confirmed in the last two weeks. All five cases are from eastern North Dakota and four out of the five have been hospitalized, said Michelle Feist, an epidemiologist with the Health Department.

Feist said the investigation into the root causes of the E. coli outbreak is ongoing. She asks anyone who experienced illness after attending the fair, especially gastrointestinal illness like diarrhea or vomiting, to fill out a survey on the Health Department website to determine if their cases are related.

Careful with that menu it may have E. coli, but is maybe a risk?

The objectives of this study were to detect bacteria on restaurant menus, to determine the bacterial transfer from menus to consumers’ hands and to determine the survival of bacteria on menu surfaces.

everyday-objects-that-are-dirtier-than-your-toilet-7Local restaurant menus were sampled at different periods of operation. The average total plate count (TPC) was 28 (0–210) cfu/15 cm2 menu sampling area during “busy” periods and 15 (0–85) cfu/15 cm2 menu sampling area during “less busy” periods. The staphylococcal count averaged 6 (0–83) cfu/15 cm2 during busy periods and 2 (0–25) cfu/15 cm2 menu sampling area during less busy periods. Escherichia coli was transferred to menus at 11.17% of the hand population with a high variability between subjects (10.45% standard deviation). Survival of bacteria in menus was 1.40% after 24 h and 1.34% after 48 h, respectively.

Bacterial populations found on randomly sampled menus were low; however, bacteria survived and were transferred from menus to a consumer’s hands.

 Recovery, survival and transfer of bacteria on restaurant menus

Journal of Food Safety. 2015. doi: 10.1111/jfs.12212

Ibtehal Alsallaiy, Paul Dawson, Inyee Han and Rose Martinez-Dawson


Inconceivable: UK shellfish farms closed amid sewage fears

Sewage bacteria, thought to be E. coli, was found in the Camel Estuary, St Austell and Falmouth Bays, said the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

inconceivableThe Shellfish Association of Great Britain contests the move, claiming the test results are “inconceivable”.

The FSA said it was “monitoring the situation” but the shellfish beds would remain closed.

David Jarrard, of the Shellfish Association, said: “The industry treats food safety as paramount.

“But I was astonished with these results, we have never seen any of this magnitude before and I just don’t believe them.

“The results we have had are akin to raw sewage and for that to happen in one river might be possible but to find it in all these areas is inconceivable.”

It has asked the FSA to disregard the results while an investigation takes place.

An FSA spokesperson said: “The results are unusually high which is why they require further investigation.

“We are monitoring the situation by taking further samples but until we have evidence to the contrary the beds must remain closed to protect public health.”

Beaches closed after 29 swimmers sickened with Norovirus, at Pennsylvania park

State officials have closed the beaches at a central Pennsylvania state park after at least 29 swimmers were sickened with Norovirus, and possibly E. coli bacteria in the water.

Cowans Gap State ParkThe lake and beach at Cowans Gap State Park have been closed to swimmers, though fishing and boating are still permitted. The park straddles the border of Franklin and Fulton counties and is located about 60 miles west of Harrisburg.

E. coli in beach sand: It happens, but is it a risk?

After surveying popular beaches in Hawaii, researchers from the University of Hawaii found that bacteria love the beach just as much as humans do. Turns out, the sand contained high levels of nasty bugs like E. coli.

dingo.beachThe researchers discovered that warm, moist sand provides the ideal breeding ground for bacteria brought in by waste water run-off, sewage, or garbage dumped on the beach. “Beach sand needs to be considered carefully in assessing its impact on public health,” cautioned lead author Tao Yan, Ph.D. The side effect from your perfect afternoon in contaminated sand? Things like diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, and infections, the study authors warn.

But don’t freak out and cancel that trip to Cabo just yet, says Russ Kino, M.D., the medical director of the Emergency Department at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. “There’s nothing to worry about from walking or playing on the beach,” he says. “If you have an open wound on your legs or feet then there is a risk of infection, but just walking around the beach? Forget it. You’re safe.”

He doesn’t dispute that there are poop germs (and worse) on beaches, but he says that our built-in safety system—our skin—does a great job of keeping germs out. Even if you’re doing something a little more dirty, like letting your friends bury you in the sand, enjoying a picnic on the beach, or having a romantic (ahem) moment, you’re more likely to get sick from the activity than you are from the sand, according to Kino.

“Honestly, the biggest risk from the beach is a sunburn,” he says, adding that his number one tip for beach safety is to wear a hat and shirt with UPF protection and a good sunscreen, as melanoma is still the number one cancer killer of women under 35 years of age.

3 kids sick: E. coli outbreak linked to North Dakota fair

Three children sickened in a recent E. coli outbreak in eastern North Dakota reported attending the Red River Valley Fair earlier this month, prompting state health officials to investigate whether animals there were the source of the infection.

red.riverOfficials said Monday it’s still early in the investigation, but they’re asking anyone who attended the fair, which ran from July 7 to 13, and developed diarrhea or bloody diarrhea for more than 24 hours within 10 days of the fair, to contact them.

The shiga toxin-producing infection from Escherischia coli, or STEC infection, can cause nausea, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, symptoms that can be severe enough to require hospitalization.

One of the children has developed a complication from the infection which can affect red blood cells and cause kidney damage and kidney failure, said Michelle Feist, a state epidemiologist with the Division of Disease Control.

“Although the cases reported having contact with animals at the fair, we are looking into other possible exposures as well,” said Feist.

Red River Valley Fair General Manager Bryan Schulz expressed shock at the announcement, saying he’d heard no details from health officials other than a call early Monday inquiring from where the fair’s animals had come.

“We haven’t had a petting zoo for three years,” Schulz said. “I’m not sure where they’re getting this from.”

Schulz said while fair officials have been moving away from having petting zoos precisely because of concerns over E.coli, people at the fair could have reached through cage bars in the rabbit display area or petted baby pigs held by workers in the Ag Education Center.

 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.

 Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health

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


Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US 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.

 Erdozain G, Kukanich K, Chapman B, Powell D. 2012. Observation of public health risk behaviours, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011. Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01531.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Observation of public health risk behaviors, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011Outbreaks of human illness have been linked to visiting settings with animal contact throughout developed countries. This paper details an observational study of hand hygiene tool availability and recommendations; frequency of risky behavior; and, handwashing attempts by visitors in Kansas (9) and Missouri (4), U.S., petting zoos. Handwashing signs and hand hygiene stations were available at the exit of animal-contact areas in 10/13 and 8/13 petting zoos respectively. Risky behaviors were observed being performed at all petting zoos by at least one visitor. Frequently observed behaviors were: children (10/13 petting zoos) and adults (9/13 petting zoos) touching hands to face within animal-contact areas; animals licking children’s and adults’ hands (7/13 and 4/13 petting zoos, respectively); and children and adults drinking within animal-contact areas (5/13 petting zoos each). Of 574 visitors observed for hand hygiene when exiting animal-contact areas, 37% (n=214) of individuals attempted some type of hand hygiene, with male adults, female adults, and children attempting at similar rates (32%, 40%, and 37% respectively). Visitors were 4.8x more likely to wash their hands when a staff member was present within or at the exit to the animal-contact area (136/231, 59%) than when no staff member was present (78/343, 23%; p<0.001, OR=4.863, 95% C.I.=3.380-6.998). Visitors at zoos with a fence as a partial barrier to human-animal contact were 2.3x more likely to wash their hands (188/460, 40.9%) than visitors allowed to enter the animals’ yard for contact (26/114, 22.8%; p<0.001, OR= 2.339, 95% CI= 1.454-3.763). Inconsistencies existed in tool availability, signage, and supervision of animal-contact. Risk communication was poor, with few petting zoos outlining risks associated with animal-contact, or providing recommendations for precautions to be taken to reduce these risks.

Still on every sandwich: Sprout safety in Australia

Seed sprouts have been implicated as vehicles for numerous foodborne outbreaks worldwide.

sprout.apple.aug.14Seed sprouts pose a unique food safety concern because of the ease of microbiological seed contamination, the inherent ability of the sprouting process to support microbial growth, and their consumption either raw or lightly cooked.

To examine seed sprout safety in the Australian state of Victoria, a survey was conducted to detect specific microbes in seed sprout samples and to investigate food handling practices relating to seed sprouts. A total of 298 seed sprout samples were collected from across 33 local council areas. Escherichia coli was detected in 14.8%, Listeria spp. in 12.3%, and Listeria monocytogenes in 1.3% of samples analyzed. Salmonella spp. were not detected in any of the samples.

A range of seed sprout handling practices were identified as potential food safety issues in some food businesses, including temperature control, washing practices, length of storage, and storage in proximity to unpackaged ready-to-eat potentially hazardous foods.

Microbiological Safety and Food Handling Practices of Seed Sprout Products in the Australian State of Victoria

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Symes, Sally, Goldsmith, Paul, Haines, Heather


Discard produce tainted by flood waters

West Virginia agricultural officials are advising growers to discard vegetables that have had contact with flood waters.

flood.midwestThe advice comes after weeks of rain that promoted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to declare states of emergency in 10 counties this week.

West Virginia extension agent John Bombardiere says the safest way to deal with lettuce, tomatoes or potatoes that have been tainted by flood water is to toss them. He says they should not be consumed by humans or animals.

The advice is based U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, which state there is no practical way to salvage the product.

Market food safety: Can big meat get it?

If companies don’t tell their story, they leave themselves vulnerable to others, who will gladly tell their version of the story.

JBS-Meat-Cooler-590x332NPR says that food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

“Part of you says, ‘I need to learn how to bring the packing house into the consumer’s living room,'” says Bill Rupp, president of the company’s beef division. “Then at the same time, you think of all the pitfalls of trying to explain to consumers how we harvest their meat.”

“I think in today’s society, the consumer wants to know more and more where their food comes from. And food companies are slowly adopting toward that,” says Cameron Bruett, JBS USA spokesman. “But I think we need to do a better job.”

JBS owns numerous plants cross the Midwest, South and West of the U.S., as well as worldwide. The JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colo., is an imposing building. Conveyor belts snake through the concrete structure. But it’s not an assembly line. Workers in blood-spattered smocks disassemble cattle, breaking down whole animals into cuts of meat.

During a guided tour for journalists, the plant’s manager, Bill Danley, points to a line of men carving the animal’s head. “These guys here, what they’re doing is, they’re taking the cheek meat off,” Danley says. “There’s head meat on top of that. A lot of your taco filler is made out of cheek meat and head meat.”

Taco meat is just the beginning. This one cow is destined to be sirloin at steakhouses, ground hamburger at local grocery stores and leather for car seats.

JBS spokesman Bruett says for a long time, beef has been a commodity, shipped out from meatpacking plants in boxes and rebranded at grocery stores and restaurants. Bruett says when your immediate customers are other businesses, there’s little value in telling your story.