Data says so: Australia does have a raw egg problem

Statistics show that the consumption of foods containing raw or minimally cooked eggs is currently the single largest source of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks in Australia.

garlic_aioliI based a large part of my research career on verifying the soundbite, ‘we have released guidelines’ or, ‘we follow all recommendations’ by arranging to have students see what actually goes on.

In October 2014, the New South Wales Food Authority released Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products (the Guidelines). Despite this, outbreaks continued to take place, particularly where business hygiene and temperature control issues were apparent. In addition, businesses and councils approached the Food Authority for advice on desserts containing raw eggs and other unusual raw egg dishes. As a result, the Guidelines were recently updated and give specific reference to Standard 3.2.2, Division 3, clause 7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure that only safe and suitable food is processed.

To reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella, retail businesses are advised to avoid selling food containing raw or minimally cooked eggs. The Guidelines give food businesses that do sell food containing raw egg specific safety steps for its preparation and clear guidance and advice on what they must do to meet food safety regulations. The revised Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products is available at www. foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/ retail/raw_egg_guidelines.pdf.

raw-eggsOr as the Australian Food Safety Information Council now says, buy, don’t make aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nice but of no use to consumers at a restaurant who order fish and chips  with a side of mayo or aioli. I’ve already begun an ad hoc investigation – because I don’t want my family to get sick – and can say that out of the 15 times I’ve asked over the past few years – is the aioli or mayo made at the restaurant or bought commercially – the server invariably returns and proclaims, We only use raw eggs in our aioli or mayo.

Wrong answer.

Only once, so far, has an owner or chef said, we know of the risk, we only use the bought stuff. And they’re ex-pat Canadians.

Giv’r, eh.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

260 sick: EU has an egg problem too

Seven countries have reported human cases of Salmonella Enteritidis between 1 May and 12 October 2016 (112 confirmed and 148 probable).

powell-egg-nov-14Cases have been reported by Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. In addition, Croatia reported a cluster of cases, including one death, possibly associated with this outbreak.

Whole genome sequencing, food and environmental investigations, and trace-back investigations established a link between the outbreak and an egg packing centre in Poland. Evidence suggests eggs as the most likely source of infection. 

Polish competent authorities and Member States to which suspect eggs were distributed have now halted distribution.

To contain the outbreak and identify possible new cases promptly, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and EFSA recommend that EU Member States step up their monitoring.

Affected countries should continue sharing information on the epidemiological, microbiological and environmental investigations, including issuing relevant notifications using the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), the latter representing the official channel to notify serious cross border threats to health.

Barf’s up: South Bank Surf Club faces 32 charges after 28 sickened with raw egg aioli

On Sept. 23, 2015, Brisbane’s South Bank Surf Club allegedly made up a large batch of raw-egg-based aioli sauce and served it for seven days.

garlic_aioliAt least 28 diners were sickened.

At the time, the manager of the club said the cause was “a bad batch of eggs’’ provided by a supplier. They said the eggs had been used in sauces served with seafood platters.

“We’ve been caught out, unfortunately. Our customers’ wellbeing is our priority and anyone with concerns can get in touch with us,” they said. “To rectify the problem, we are not making sauces in-house.’’

This is a common refrain in Australia.

We, the chefs, would never put the health of our customers in harm’s way, yet they continue to do so with the line, we got a bad batch of eggs.

south-bank-surf-club-1_lrgNow, Brisbane City Council health inspectors have filed a complaint in Brisbane Magistrates Court accusing the club, owned by Brisbane hospitality king Bevan Bickle, of letting the aioli and other sauces sit kitchen benches for up to three hours without refrigeration on the day they were used in meals including fish and chips, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches between September 23 and October 1 last year.

Court documents state aioli is a “potentially hazardous food” because “pathogenic microorganisms” can grow due to the raw egg and it needs to be refrigerated.

The club faces 32 charges of breaching food safety laws.

When inspector Heath Vogler visited the restaurant on October 16 he alleges the aioli was kept at 11C.

The council summons filed in court states aioli must be stored below 5C to minimise the growth of poisonous bacteria.

The case returns to court on December 23. The restaurant has not entered a plea.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

Seven EU countries imported salmonella-infected eggs from Poland

Seven countries in the European Union have imported eggs infected with Salmonella from Poland.

eggsalmonellaDutch authorities have reported the infected eggs to the European Commission, which oversees the quality of food and feed.

The threat is considered to be serious, the Polish PAP news agency has said.

According to Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain, “several shipments of Polish eggs contaminated with Salmonella” have been sent to seven EU countries, including hundreds of restaurants in Belgium, from “various Dutch suppliers”.

Earth not so good about Salmonella: Multistate outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg infections linked to shell eggs

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is working with public health and regulatory officials in Missouri, several other states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg infections.

egg-dirty-feb-12Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet, coordinated by CDC, is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.

Eight people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg have been reported from three states.

Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from April 23, 2016 to August 24, 2016. Ill people range in age from 1 year to 85, with a median age of 44. Sixty-three percent of ill people are female. Among seven people with available information, two (29%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

WGS showed that isolates from ill people are closely related genetically to one another. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

The strain of Salmonella Oranienburg in this outbreak also is closely related genetically to a Salmonella Oranienburg strain from a 2015 outbreak linked to the Good Earth Egg Company. In the 2015 outbreak, 52 people infected with the outbreak strain were reported from six states. In response to the 2015 outbreak, Good Earth Egg Company recalled all of its shell eggs on January 9, 2016.

The current outbreak can be illustrated with a chart showing the number of people who became ill each day. This chart is called an epidemic curve, or epi curve. Illnesses that occurred after September 9, 2016, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations identified shell eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company of Bonne Terre, Missouri as the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of the six ill people who were interviewed, all six (100%) reported eating or possibly eating shell eggs in the week before illness started. Ill people reported eating eggs in restaurants as well as at home.

Federal, state, and local health and regulatory officials performed a traceback investigation from one restaurant location in Missouri where three ill people reported eating eggs. This investigation indicated that Good Earth Egg Company supplied eggs to that restaurant.

Missouri health officials collected and tested shell eggs from the Missouri restaurant location and isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg. Additionally, environmental samples taken at the Good Earth Egg Company processing facility isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg. WGS showed that the isolates of Salmonella Oranienburg from eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company are closely related genetically to isolates from ill people in this outbreak and from ill people and environmental samples in the 2015 outbreak. This close genetic relationship provides additional evidence that ill people in this outbreak and in the 2015 outbreak got sick from eating shell eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company of Bonne Terre, Missouri.

CDC recommends that consumers do not eat and restaurants and retailers do not serve or sell shell eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company at this time. Eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company were sold under different brand names. If you don’t know if your eggs were distributed by Good Earth Egg Company, ask the store where you bought them or the restaurant where they were served.

This investigation is ongoing, and we will update the public when more information becomes available. CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill people and to interview those people about foods they ate before they got sick.

 

Eggs from small flocks more likely to contain Salmonella enteritidis

Eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

egg-dirty-feb-12That conclusion — which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that eggs from backyard poultry and small local enterprises are safer to eat than “commercially produced” eggs — was drawn from a first-of-its kind, six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state.

Salmonella enteritidis is a leading foodborne pathogen in the United States, with many outbreaks in humans traced back to shell eggs. The FDA requires shell-egg producers from farms with more than 3,000 chickens be in compliance with the FDA Final Egg Rule, which is aimed at restricting the growth of pathogens. However, small flocks with fewer than 3,000 layer chickens currently are exempted. Eggs from these producers often are marketed via direct retail to restaurants, health-food stores and farmers markets, or sold at on-farm roadside stands.

From April to September 2015, the researchers purchased two to four dozen eggs from each of 240 randomly selected farmers markets or roadside stands representing small layer flocks in 67 counties of Pennsylvania. Internal contents of the eggs and egg shells were cultured separately for Salmonella using standard protocols. Salmonella recovered were classified by serotype, and any Salmonella enteritidis isolates present were further characterized to evaluate their relatedness to isolates of the bacteria that have caused foodborne illness outbreaks.

Test results revealed that of the 240 selling points included in the study, eggs from five — 2 percent — were positive for Salmonella enteritidis. Eggs sold at one of the positive selling points contained the bacteria in egg shells; the eggs from the other four selling points had Salmonella enteritidis in internal contents.

That is a higher prevalence of the pathogen than that found in studies of eggs from large flocks, noted lead researcher Subhashinie Kariyawasam, microbiology section head at Penn State’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. Those eggs, from flocks of more than 3,000 birds, are subject to federal regulations aimed at reducing Salmonella enteritidis contamination.

egg-farmThese regulations require measures such as placement of Salmonella-“clean” chicks, intensive rodent control, cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of pullet and layer houses, continuous testing of eggs from any Salmonella-positive houses, and diverting eggs from Salmonella-positive houses for pasteurization.

Kariyawasam — who presented the research findings to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Avian Pathologists at their August meeting in San Antonio, Texas — said the study clearly demonstrated that Salmonella enteritidis is present in the eggs produced by small flocks.

“The research highlights the potential risk posed by the consumption of eggs produced by backyard and small layer flocks. And, analysis of the Salmonella enteritidis present in the eggs from small flocks shows they are the same types commonly reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from human foodborne outbreaks,” she said. “These findings emphasize the importance of small-producer education on Salmonella enteritidis control measures and perhaps implementation of egg quality-assurance practices to prevent contamination of eggs produced by backyard and other small layer flocks.”

Eggs from small flocks make a negligible contribution to the table egg industry in the United States, Kariyawasam noted. But the growing demand for backyard eggs and eggs from nonfarm environments — with small egg-producing flocks managed in cage-free systems and pasture situations — suggests these production systems deserve some scrutiny.

“We were curious about Salmonella contamination of eggs produced by these flocks because the prevalence of this pathogen in smaller flocks was not known. Now we know that the prevalence of Salmonella enteritidis in eggs produced by small flocks is higher than in eggs produced by larger flocks.”

‘MasterChef-itis’ leading to Australian restaurant staff shortages (and dumb food safety)

Young Australians are attracted to the “rock star” chef lifestyle depicted in reality cooking shows, but don’t want to put in the hard graft to get there, Good Food Guide editor Myffy Rigby says.

rockstar-chefRigby has just released the latest annual Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and said while the food industry was going strong, many restaurants were still having a tough time finding staff.

A Deloitte Access Economics report last year found a current gap of 38,000 staff across the tourism and hospitality sector, a shortage predicted to increase to 123,000 by 2020.

The report predicted demand would be strongest for chefs and restaurant managers.

However, Rigby said young people in particular just weren’t prepared for the years of physical toil it required to make it to the top.

“I think there’s a little bit of MasterChef-itis, I’m going to call it.”

Meanwhile, the Guide announces 11 café trends they’re glad are going away.

Here’s another: No more raw eggs in mayo and aioli.

But that’s a food safety thing and can’t compete with food porn.

Until people get sick.

Of course it was the eggs: 71 sick from InterContinental Adelaide buffet

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports the InterContinental Adelaide buffet breakfast that made at least 71 people sick from salmonella poisoning has been linked to cross-contamination from eggs.

scrambled.eggsAn Adelaide City Council and SA Health joint investigation has identified the likely cause of the salmonella as cross contamination or inadequate cooking of raw eggs.

The total number of people struck down with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headaches after eating the breakfast spread at the luxury hotel on Sunday, July 31, has risen to 71, including 21 people who were admitted to hospital.

InterContinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the investigation was “still ongoing”.

“What the Adelaide City Council has released is a likely cause (but) we’re still partnering with them fully to determine what the exact cause was,” he said.

That’s the same McCandless who last week said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

SA Health chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the latest salmonella outbreak was another reminder of the potential risks associated with handling raw eggs.

The hotel’s $37 full breakfast buffet at the Riverside Restaurant includes scrambled eggs.

And what about those dips? Any raw eggs in those?

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

Raw eggs are risky, but where are pasteurized eggs available in Australia: Criminal trial over Copa Brazilian restaurant Salmonella outbreak begins, 162 sickened at May 2013 brunch

In May, 2013, at least 162 people who went out for a Mother’s Day meal at the Copa Brazilian in Canberra, Australia, were sickened with Salmonella.

raw.eggs_The Copa was eventually closed and sold in 2014.

But the court case is just beginning.

Alexandra Back of the Canberra Times reports that court was told the outbreak had the quickest incubation period one expert had ever seen, a court has heard.

And the speed at which the Copa Brazilian’s customers got sick could be because of the amount of bacteria ingested, the expert said.

In May 2013, within a week of opening, the 161 customers were served a potato salad with a raw egg aioli in a $45 all-you-can eat deal.

An ACT Health investigation traced the raw eggs to a Victorian supplier, while the Dickson restaurant eventually closed in 2014.

Copa’s owners, Zeffirelli Pizza Restaurant Pty Ltd, still faced criminal charges over selling unsafe food. They have pleaded not guilty.

Their defence was that they believed the food was safe to eat.

Defence lawyer Tim Sharman told the court the owners held a positive and reasonable belief the eggs were safe. He said the eggs came from a primary industry and chain of suppliers that was regulated, and the owner’s were entitled to rely on that regulation.

He said the possibility of a “bad egg” was beyond the owners’ control.

The court heard evidence how a crack in the shell invisible to the eye would allow salmonella to develop inside, but not be seen or smelled.

Further, at the time, the ACT had no guidelines or rules governing how to handle raw egg products, unlike other jurisdictions, Mr Sharman said.

The court was told staff were “disturbed” to hear of the outbreak.

But this was a business, and food poisoning was a risk restaurateurs should be aware of, prosecutor Michael Reardon told the court.

And there was a safer alternative in pasteurised egg products, he said, giving the owners ability to control for the risk of salmonella.

Cameron Moffat, an epidemiologist who at the time was with the ACT Health Service, said the use of products such as raw egg mayonnaise in restaurants was “in vogue”, and causing some problems, Mr Moffatt told the court.

Radomir Krsteski, manager of the microbiology unit at ACT Health, also gave evidence at the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday.

raw.egg_.mayo_.may_.13He said pasteurisation – a process of heating the egg products – was the safest way to ensure an egg would be free of salmonella.

He also explained how a “bad egg” with a hairline crack and kept in conditions favourable to the bacteria, could become contaminated with salmonella without someone’s knowledge.

Maybe there’ some Salmonella-night-vision goggles I don’t know about. But do restaurant owners really want to make people sick, and do they really want to lose their business?

When we go out to eat, which is increasingly rare, I always ask, does your chef use raw eggs in the aioli or mayo or something else that is not cooked?

In Australia the answer is usually a convincing yes.

I try not to be an ass about these things, but what I do say is, look at all the raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia and then say something like, we’re fans of your food, that’s why we come here. Do you really want to lose this business you worked so hard for because of a dip?

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-2-15.xlsx

Don’t let the accent influence: British egg industry explains why runny eggs are now safe to eat

I’m a guy sitting on my couch in Brisbane who’s no preacher just provides information. But I can imagine the various ways this video will be used in the next Salmonella-linked-to-eggs outbreak in the UK.

runny.boiled.eggMark Williams, chief executive of the British egg industry council, told Radio 4’s Today programme they are “absolutely delighted” that the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food had made the recommendation to the Food Standard Agency (FSA), which will now consult on the recommendation.

“If it’s got the British lion mark on it’s the safest in the world,” he says.