A Microwaved Burrito Filled with E. coli set for FringeNYC

A Microwaved Burrito Filled with E. coli is a cracked-out comedy starring Molly “Equality” Dykeman (who returns to the Fringe Festival after the hit 2011 comedy The F*cking World According to Molly), NYC’s favorite poet/security www.amicrowavedburrito.comguard.

This time, Molly attends a lesbian wedding reception at a Mexican restaurant so far out in Brooklyn, that it’s probably in Queens. It’s here that she meets a Southern chatterbox waitress, Angie Louise Angelone. While Molly just wants to escape the wedding and eat some microwaved nachos in peace, she ends up getting something with more hidden layers than a bean dip.

Dad says ‘I don’t want to drag this out’ Raw milk probable cause of Australian 3-year-old’s death

In late 2014, three children in the Australian state of Victoria developed hemolytic uremic syndrome linked to Shiga-toxin toxin producing E. coli in unpasteurized bath milk produced by Mountain View farm. One child died, and two others developed cryptosporidiosis.

mountain.view.dairyThe Victorian government quickly banned the sale of so-called bath milk, which although labeled as not fit for human consumption, was a widely recognized way for Australian consumers to access raw milk.

What followed was a despicable whisper campaign that the child who died had an underlying medical condition, it wasn’t Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC), farmers were losing access to lucrative markets – anything but the basic and sometimes deadly biology of STECs and everything involving fantasy and fairytales.

Today, a coroner heard unpasteurised milk was the probable cause of death of a three-year-old Victorian child who had no previous medical issues.

The toddler’s father told police he had given his son small amounts of Mountain View Organic Bath Milk on rare occasions in the months leading up to his October 2014 death.

The Coroner’s Court yesterday heard a Department of Health investigation, a forensic pathologist’s report and a subsequent outbreak of illnesses among four other children who drank the raw milk had all established its consumption as being the likely cause of the tragedy.

The child’s death prompted a health warning and led the State Government to introduce tough laws making unpasteurised milk sold in Victoria undrinkable.

After hearing details of the investigations Coroner Audrey Jamieson yesterday said she was satisfied issues that would have warranted a full hearing into the death had already been dealt with and she could make a determination on the balance of probabilities.

But after lawyer Rose Raniolo representing Mountain View Farm said she wanted to review a hospital form in which the boy’s parents listed everything he had consumed, Coroner Jamieson granted her seven days to put forward any additional information before making a final decision on whether a public hearing was required.

colbert.raw_.milk_3-300x212-300x212Coroner’s solicitor Rebecca Cohen told the court the three-year-old had been a healthy child until suffering gasto symptoms on September 30, 2014, and being admitted to Frankston Hospital four days later.

He was transferred to Monash Medical Centre on October 6, where it was found his entire large bowel was infected. The boy passed away shortly after.

Ms Cohen told the court a Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine autopsy was consistent with tests taken during the toddler’s medical treatment, finding the same genetic traces in his bowel that lead to hemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a rare and dangerous infection stemming from E. coli bacteria which can be present in raw milk.

In the weeks following the death the Department ordered tests on samples from 39 bottles of Mountain View Dairy milk and found that shiga toxin which produces E. coli bacteria was cultured in one sample.

The department’s investigation stated that although HUS infections were usually an “exceptionally rare occurrence” it was dealing with two non-fatal cases at the same time as the death — and the only link was that all three children had consumed the same unpasteurised milk.

Two cases of cryptosporidium also reported among young raw milk drinkers in the same area within a 10 days of two HUS cases reinforced the pathology evidence, Ms Cohen said.

Ms Cohen emphasised that at no time was there any suggestion Mountain View Farm breached regulations, and no prosecution had even been considered against the producer.

She said that during a police investigation the toddler’s father told officers he purchased Mountain View Organic Bath Milk in the months before his son became ill.

“(The father) understood the milk was labelled not to be drunk, but he noted it looked like every other milk container,” Ms Cohen said.

“Due to his intolerance to dairy, (the child) would only drink very small amounts of the unpasteurised milk, and only on odd occasions. “(The father) said it only amounted one-eigth of a sippy cup, and only twice per month at a maximum.”

Ms Raniolo said she disagreed with a recommendation for the coroner to rule unpasteurised milk as the probable cause of the death, stating the child drank it too rarely for it to be considered as the cause.

After a separate review cleared the hospitals’ of any concerns over the treatment of the child, the toddler’s emotional father told the coroner he now wanted the probes to be finished.

“To me it was a big deal watching everything that unfolded, and I do still struggle with the idea that it was treated as seriously as possible. But, I understand it was not likely to have changed the outcome. I don’t want to get involved in this any further, I don’t want to drag this out.”


Weird because their old steak also sucked: No one likes Chipotle’s new steak

After all of their food safety issues, Chipotle had to change the way they make a lot of their menu items, including steak. Now, steak is cooked on low heat at an offsite facility, and when it gets to stores it’s marinated and grilled.


Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Business Insider, “If there is any difference, it’s that the steak may be more tender than it was before,” to which we say, LOL. There’s no way that’s true.

Lots of customers feel the same way. There’s a Reddit post dedicated to solving the mystery called, “What happened to the taste?” So far, there are 27 comments, but this one seems to sum it up: “The new steak sucks, plain and simple.”

Other Redditors agree. “It’s dry, overcooked, and therefore chewy. I actually just had ‘fresh’ steak last night (they had just pulled it off the grill and sliced it) and it was still dry and overcooked.”

“Used to be a three time a week regular, same with a bunch of friends,” said another. “Anyone who was a steak lover including my girlfriend has stopped going really.”

Others argued it was harder to cook tasty steak with the new method, especially when preparing steak until it reached the required temperature for food safety.

steak.therm.jun.16“To me, this new steak never has a chance to be medium rare,”writes one Chipotle employee. “It goes from cold to medium well in two minutes on the grill.”

“Customer reactions so far? Not good,” another Redditor claiming to be a Chipotle employee wrote in March. “Many are saying the steak isn’t rare enough and that is tastes different… poor quality. I use to have a lot of pride in my steak, now that pride has faded.”

Twitter users are also complaining.

Chipotle’s food safety nightmare just keeps getting worse. For now, maybe stick to sofritos. Or, just eat somewhere else.

Like at our guest house in Maubuisson, France, where I went into town the other day and got these two from the butcher – shown against Hubbell tiny hands that are much larger than Trump tiny hands, for comparative purposes – and prepared on charcoal until close to 140F and then sat for 10 minutes.

It was really f*ucking good.

Flushing with chlorine may not clean drip irrigation lines

Irrigation water distribution systems are used to supply water to produce crops, but the system may also provide a protected environment for the growth of human pathogens present in irrigation water.

drip.irrigation.carrots.jun.16In this study, the effects of drip tape installation depth and sanitization on the microbial quality of irrigation groundwater were evaluated.

Drip tape lines were installed on the soil surface or 5 or 10 cm below the soil surface. Water samples were collected from the irrigation source and the end of each drip line every 2 weeks over an 11-week period, and the levels of Escherichia coli, total coliforms, aerobic mesophilic bacteria, and enterococci were quantified. Half of the lines installed at each depth were flushed with sodium hypochlorite for 1 h during week 6 to achieve a residual of 10 ppm at the end of the line.

There was a statistically significant (P = 0.01) effect of drip tape installation depth and sanitizer application on the recovery of E. coli, with increased levels measured at the 5-cm depth and in nonsanitized lines, although the levels were at the limit of detection, potentially confounding the results. There was no significant effect of drip tape depth on total coliforms, aerobic mesophiles, or enterococci.

In contrast, a statistically significant increase (P < 0.01) in the recovery of total coliforms was recorded from the ends of lines that received chlorine. This may be indicative of shedding of cells owing to degradation of biofilms that formed on the inner walls of the lines.

These findings emphasize the need to better understand conditions that may lead to corrosion and increases in bacterial loads inside drip lines during flushing.

Recommendations to growers should suggest collecting groundwater samples for testing at the end of drip lines rather than at the source. Guidelines on flushing drip lines with chlorine may need to include water pH monitoring, a parameter that influences the corrosive properties of chlorine.

Drip line flushing with chlorine may not be effective in reducing bacterial loads in irrigation water distribution systems

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 1021-1025(5)

Theresa Callahan, Mary; Marine, Sasha C.; Everts, Kathryne L.; Micallef, Shirley A.


Chipotle executives accused of dumping stocks before E. coli outbreak

Clint Rainey of Grub Street writes that in January 2016, during the throes of Chipotle outbreaks, angry shareholders slapped Chipotle with a lawsuit claiming executives had obscured the fact that quality protocols weren’t up to snuff. It argued that withholding that vital little nugget ensured that nobody could abandon the company before shares tumbled to their lowest levels in years.

chipotle.diarrheaThat suit’s still pending, and now a small group of shareholders have filed another lawsuit: Chipotle executives, it says, “abused their control of the Company, and dealt themselves excessive compensation worth hundreds of millions of dollars through a corrupt stock incentive plan.”

Co-CEOs Steve Ells and Montgomery Moran, CFO Jack Hartung, and other senior execs are all named in the suit:

The Company’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all

relevant times, and caused an artificial inflation of Chipotle’s stock price. During the period when the price of Chipotle stock was artificially inflated, a majority of the board of directors (and a supermajority of the Individual Defendants) engaged in lucrative insider sales, reaping millions of dollars in net proceeds.

Basically, this group of shareholders claim in the suit that executives, relying on insider knowledge about food-safety protocols, sold hundreds of thousands of shares in the first half of 2015, right before the food-poisoning scandal. Ells banked $78 million after selling 119,057 shares “while the stock price was artificially inflated and before the fraud was exposed.” Moran, meanwhile, cashed out to the tune of $107 million, and Hartung to about $28 million. The suit even names small-fry “member of the Audit Committee” John Charlesworth, who it claims made $1.5 million on stock sales during the period in question.

For its part, Chipotle isn’t admitting any wrongdoing, saying it intends to defend itself “vigorously.”

Whole genome sequencing key to delineating E. coli O26 in cattle

Escherichia coli O26 is the second most important enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) serogroup worldwide.

cow.say.whatSerogroup O26 strains are categorized mainly into two groups: enteropathogenic (EPEC) O26, carrying a locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) and mostly causing mild diarrhea, and Shiga-toxigenic (STEC) O26, which carries the Shiga toxin (STX) gene (stx), responsible for more severe outcomes. stx-negative O26 strains can be further split into two groups. One O26 group differs significantly from O26 EHEC, while the other O26 EHEC-like group shows all the characteristics of EHEC O26 except production of STX.

In order to determine the different populations of O26 E. coli present in U.S. cattle, we sequenced 42 O26:H11 strains isolated from feedlot cattle and compared them to 37 O26:H11 genomes available in GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST) showed that O26:H11/H− strains in U.S. cattle were highly diverse. Most strains were sequence type 29 (ST29). By wgMLST, two clear lineages could be distinguished among cattle strains. Lineage 1 consisted of O26:H11 EHEC-like strains (ST29) (4 strains) and O26:H11 EHEC strains (ST21) (2 strains), and lineage 2 (36 strains) consisted of O26:H11 EPEC strains (ST29).

Overall, our analysis showed U.S. cattle carried pathogenic (ST21; stx1+ ehxA+ toxB+) and also potentially pathogenic (ST29; ehxA+ toxB+) O26:H11 E. coli strains. Furthermore, in silico analysis showed that 70% of the cattle strains carried at least one antimicrobial resistance gene.

Our results showed that whole-genome sequence analysis is a robust and valid approach to identify and genetically characterize E. coli O26:H11, which is of importance for food safety and public health.

Virulence gene profiles and clonal relationships of Escherichia coli O26:H11 isolates from feedlot cattle as determined by whole-genome sequencing

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. July 2016 vol. 82 no. 13 3900-3912, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00498-16

Narjol Gonzalez-Escalona, Magaly Toro, Lydia V. Rump, Giojie Cao, T.G. Nagaraja, Jianghong Meng


Floodwater, E. coli and leafy greens

The California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) requires leafy green crops within 9 m of the edge of a flooded field not be harvested due to potential contamination (California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Board, Commodity Specific Flood Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens, 2012). Further, previously flooded soils should not be replanted for 60 days.

lettuceIn this study, the suitability of the LGMA metrics for farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States was evaluated. The upper end of a spinach bed (in Beltsville, MD) established on a −5% grade was flooded with water containing 6 log CFU/ml Escherichia coli to model a worst-case scenario of bacterial movement through soil. Escherichia coli prevalence in soil and on foliar tissue was determined by most probable number (MPN) analysis at distances up to 9 m from the edge of the flood for 63 days. While E. coli was quickly detected at the 9-m distance within 1 day in the spring trial and within 3 days in the fall trial, no E. coli was detected on plants outside the flood zone after 14 days. On day 63 for the two trials, E. coli populations in the flood zone soil were higher in the fall than in the spring. Regression analysis predicted that the time required for a 3-log MPN/g (dry weight) decrease in E. coli populations inside the flood zone was within the 60-day LGMA guideline in the spring but would require 90 days in the fall. Overall, data suggest that the current guidelines should be revised to include considerations of field and weather conditions that may promote bacterial movement and survival.

Metrics proposed to prevent the harvest of leafy green crops exposed to floodwater contaminated with Escherichia coli

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. July 2016 vol. 82 no. 13 3746-3753, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00052-16

Mary Theresa Callahan, Shirley A. Micallef, Manan Sharma, Patricia D. Millner, Robert L. Buchanan


Don’t care, use a thermometer: Burger secret sweeping America

Common belief has been, according to Tristan Lutze, a Sydney-based food writer, that a good burger patty should be fat, juicy and pink inside. To cook it perfectly, you need a nicely oiled grill and a careful hand, taking care to never press on the burger and squeeze out those delicious juices.

ultrasmash.burgerColor is a lousy indicator and a tip-sensitive digital thermometer is required.

But there’s something of a burger rebellion happening on America’s east coast, and it’s beginning to spread.

The secret is a technique called “ultra-smashing”, a phrase coined by The Food Lab for a process that’s being used by burger superstars Harlem Shake in NYC, and the obsession-worthy Shake Shack.

With just a couple of pieces of equipment and a small piece of meat, it creates a flavour-packed burger in under a minute. Yes, in less than 60 seconds.

All you need is:

— A stainless steel pan, or BBQ hotplate. Your favourite non-stick pan WON’T work here.

— Any tool that will help you press down on the meat as hard as possible once it’s on the pan. A (new, washed) $10 stainless steel plastering trowel from a hardware store is perfect, and capable of much more pressure than a kitchen spatula.

— A scraper to dislodge the meat from the pan. A steel pastry scraper will work, but a joint knife or scraper from the hardware store is even better.

Heat the unoiled pan to nearly smoking and roll your mince (the fattier the better) into a 5cm diameter ball. Place the meat into the centre of the pan and immediately press down on the patty with the trowel or spatula, applying extra pressure with the scraper if needed.

Keep pushing as hard as you can until the meat is only a few millimetres thick.

Whatever the technique, a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, inserted sideways in this case, is still required.

3 children under 5 sick with shiga toxin E. coli in Wash. state

King County Public Health is investigating the cases of three children all under age 5 who have E. coli infections.

stec.e.coliTwo of the children had to be hospitalized with complications, including a type of kidney injury. The third is recovering at home.

Health officials don’t yet know whether the children have the same strain of E. coli and whether the cases are linked.

Public Health – Seattle & King County said it received the first report of illness on May 26, the second report on June 1 and the third on June 6.

Two students in Kenya die after E. coli outbreak at school for developmentally challenged

An outbreak of E. coli has claimed the lives of two students at the Meru School for the Mentally Challenged, with several others being admitted to hospital.

e.coli.meru.schoolThe school has been quarantined with medical workers camping there to monitor those under medication and prevent the spread of the bacteria.

Close to 50 pupils with severe abdominal cramps and diarrhoea were admitted to hospital but by Tuesday, only 10 were still undergoing treatment.

Meru Health executive William Muraah said the students did not die of cholera as had earlier been reported, adding that food and water contamination could have been the cause of the outbreak.

“Only a conclusive culture test can reveal whether it is cholera. Test results say the students died of E. coli.