‘It’s a mitigation measure’ Food safety amateur hour continues in Queensland with ‘dirty eggs’

With 250 teachers sick from a conference, and an additional 20 people sick in a separate outbreak around Brisbane – but apparently using the same egg supplier – people are now being told it’s possible dirty eggs may be the cause.

mountain_range_eggsThis isn’t CSI, with its groovy UV lights that make great television but lousy science.

This also isn’t rocket surgery: publicly release all surveillance data on raw eggs in Queensland (or Australia), publicly release the menu items at the Queensland Convention Center and the Grocer and Grind on the Gold Coast where two of their own chefs got sick, and tell chefs to stop using raw eggs in dishes they have to so expertly craft from scratch like aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nothing new and we have been documenting the problem for years. A table of Australian raw egg Salmonella outbreaks is available here (or here to download the spreadsheet).

Queensland Health yesterday revealed 1,895 cases of Salmonella had been detected since the start of the year, more than double previous levels, prompting an alert to businesses involved in food preparation and the wider community.

Safe Food Production Queensland general manager Phil Pond said Darling Downs Fresh Eggs had immediately issued the voluntary recall of the dirty eggs once notified.

Mr Pond said salmonella bacteria was carried in many animals, especially poultry and pigs, and any ingestion of fecal matter could be harmful to people.

But because the fecal matter could not be entirely eliminated, Queensland had adopted a mitigation strategy which included limiting the sale of any produce, including dirty eggs.

my.brain.hurts“Queensland has had a food safety scheme since 2005 with a salmonella mitigation strategy,” Mr Pond said.

“That’s what this is, a mitigation measure.

“Darling Downs Fresh Eggs has done everything possible to alert the public of the possible dirty eggs in the market place.”

Not quite.

Queensland Health’s Sophie Dwyer said an increase in raw egg consumption, poor food handling and hygiene standards, and consumption of cracked and dirty eggs had all contributed.

“One of the issues is that sometimes people think dirty eggs indicate they’re more healthy, or naturally produced,” Dwyer said.

“But if they are dirty it doesn’t mean they’re safer, they’re more hazardous.

“We are seeing a wider range of products being produced in the home and restaurants that include raw eggs. Products like aioli, mayonnaise, mousse and tiramisu use raw eggs and therefore don’t have a step that would kill any salmonella bacteria.”

Peter Collignon of the Austalian National University said salmonella cases were increasing each year, with more than 10,000 reported cases annually, adding, “The problem is that in Australia, we don’t take the same precautions as other countries do to keep salmonella rates down.”

The restaurant industry was a major source of contamination, he said, because it was impossible for consumers to tell which meals on a menu contained raw egg.

Australia still has an egg problem: And a food safety culture problem

It’s a simple question that journalists and beaurocrats in Queensland (that’s in Australia) seem unwilling to answer: were raw eggs used in any of the menu items that sickened 250 school principals, and now an additional 20 people on the Gold Coast?

Catch22Australians are into food porn – show us mere residents the recipes.

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs,a Queensland egg producer, has issued a voluntary recall of its caged and mountain range free eggs.

In a statement, the company said it issued the recall after being advised of a production issue with the eggs that had a Julian date of 036 up to and including 063.

“It was possible that dirty eggs may have been packed into some of these cartons and we are implementing a voluntary recall of these eggs,” the statement said.

Food safety amateur hour continues in Brisbane.

Those 250 school principals that got sick in Brisbane at a conference last week?

Nothing, no follow up.

Now, with at least 20 people sick linked to eggs at a Gold Coast restaurant in a separate outbreak, the most telling lines in a press conference earlier today were that the restaurant continued to sell food after their head chef was hospitalized with food poisoning.

Grocer and Grind manager Martin Kralovic said the cafe’s head chef, James Lennon, was rushed to hospital on Sunday morning after eating some of the store’s eggs.

The following day a second Grocer and Grind chef was rushed to hospital with food poisoning.

Despite the two contaminations, Mr Kralovic said the cafe continued to serve customers until Tuesday when Gold Coast City Council health authorities inspected the venue.

Health inspectors cleared the cafe but were unable to confirm whether the eggs were the cause of the contamination. The cafe had dumped its stock of eggs on Sunday, fearing they may have been linked to the illness.

Mr Lennon, who was bedridden for four days, said he felt like he was going to die.

“I started feeling ill at about midnight on Saturday. I immediately knew it was the eggs because it is all that I had really eaten that day.

“Also a week prior to that our egg supplier turned up and told us they had been shutdown due to the contamination (at the convention centre) in Brisbane.”

Duh.

The Gold Coast Bulletin became aware of the food poisoning outbreak after being contacted by the father of a woman who became ill on Saturday evening.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his adult daughter was admitted to Robina Hospital late on Saturday after eating eggs benedict at Grocer and Grind in the morning.

She ended up spending three days in hospital on a drip and yesterday was still very unwell and resting at home.

He said there were about 12 other patients in hospital with his daughter at the same time who were ill after eating at the cafe.

Mr Kralovic said the eggs came from the same farm which was involved in the recent contamination at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It is understood the farm was forced to source eggs from another farm after the convention centre contamination.

The Bulletin contacted the second egg supplier but a staff member declined to comment.

Gold Coast Health spokesman yesterday said an outbreak of 20 people was classed as severe and the public health unit were investigating but could not confirm the cafe as suspected source for legal reasons related to the Food Act.

Catch-22.

20 sick in new Salmonella outbreak: Australia still has an egg problem

Amy figures we ate at this place last year.

Grocer and GrindAt least 20 people are believed to have been hospitalised after eating at Broadbeach cafe Grocer and Grind.

The venue’s head chef is reportedly among those admitted to hospital.

Some of those affected reported eating eggs benedict on Saturday morning and were admitted that evening with severe diarrhoea requiring several days in hospital.

Gold Coast Health has today confirmed the public health unit is investigating the possible source but at this stage have not publicly named the eatery involved.

But Grocer and Grind manager Martin Krolovic confirmed the cafe’s head chef had been hospitalised and had only just been discharged.

“The owners are on there way here to sort this out with out head chef who has only just got out of hospital,” he said.

“I don’t know any more than that.”

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

Why does Australia have these huge outbreaks? And an egg problem? 250 now sick from principals’ conference

The number of people who have been struck down by food poisoning since eating at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre last week as part of a principals conference has jumped to 250.

salmonella.eggsThe cases are spread across Queensland with the highest numbers in Cairns and the Sunshine Coast with 34 cases reported in each of those regions.

About 1400 people descended on the venue for the conference on Thursday and Friday last week.

The outbreak is the second worst case of salmonella poisoning in the state’s history.

The worst was in November 2013 from a Melbourne Cup function with 350 reported cases and 12 hospitalizations.

A 77-year-old women’s death was linked to that outbreak which was suspected to have been caused by bad eggs.

An outbreak of Salmonella in January this year from deep fried ice cream at Chin Chin restaurant (it was the eggs) led to 141 cases with at least eight people hospitalized.

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\

Australia looks at whole chain approach to Salmonella risk management

Australia still has an egg problem. So Dr Kylie Hewson is, according to The Poultry Site, developing through-chain Salmonella risk management strategies for eggs.

raw.eggsDr Hewson explained: “If I’m talking to producers, it is about understanding the basis for their current salmonella risk management strategies, and how they go about improving or reviewing these. If I’m talking to retailers or regulatory authorities, it is about the basis for their standards on-farm in terms of food safety and what information their decisions are based on.”

“The first step is to develop scientifically-grounded standards and get them in place,” said Dr Hewson. This involves a lot of research, talk and groundwork. She has been spending quite a bit of time with Health Departments and food regulatory authorities to understand their processes for investigating foodborne illness outbreaks.

“I’ve been asking why they do the things they do, and why they look at what they look at,” she said. Similarly for retailers, questions about what their standards are based on have been asked. …

“A major issue for the industry is that if there is a foodborne illness outbreak, it does not matter where the eggs have come from, the industry as a whole is tarred with the same brush, so it becomes reputational.”

One strategy being investigated is the option of creating a market for eggs produced to the highest standards of Salmonella risk management. This idea mirrors the British Lion scheme in the United Kingdom, and is especially applicable to high-risk food producers, e.g. those producing raw-egg products.

How would consumers know? Iowa too has an egg problem

Four years ago, Iowa was the focus of unwanted national attention triggered by an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis that sickened at least 1,800 people and led to the largest egg recall in United States history — more than 500 million eggs.

seasame.street.good.egg.projectAccording to an editorial in the Des Moines Register, then-Gov. Chet Culver proposed a few long-overdue reforms that would have strengthened Iowa’s oversight of the egg industry. Three days later, Gov. Terry Branstad took office.

Since then, not one of the proposed reforms has been enacted.

Federal investigators attributed the 2010 outbreak to the Iowa operations of Austin “Jack” DeCoster, whose company eventually agreed to pay $6.8 million in fines for attempting to bribe a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector and for selling old eggs with false labels.

DeCoster and his son, Peter, have each agreed to pay $100,000 in fines. They are now awaiting sentencing on criminal charges of introducing tainted eggs into the nation’s food supply.

The DeCoster case perfectly illustrates why states must be vigilant in regulating their most important industries — particularly when the public health is at stake.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, DeCoster eggs that were produced in Maine and Maryland were linked to a series of salmonella outbreaks, including one in New York that killed nine people and sickened hundreds more.

New York eventually banned DeCoster from selling his eggs in that state, and Maine and Maryland imposed a variety of restrictions on his business. DeCoster complained about the expense associated with this new regulatory oversight and sold his Maryland operation. He focused his business on Iowa, the nation’s No. 1 egg-producing state, which had no state-imposed requirements for salmonella monitoring.

Even after the federal reforms were enacted, Iowa egg producers were still given advance notice of government inspections. In some cases, the companies dictated the date of their inspections. The egg producers also were allowed to continue to keep secret from inspectors the brand names under which their eggs were sold. They also withheld access to their complaint files and even refused to name company employees. Even now, egg producers are not required to notify state regulators when salmonella is found in their eggs and barns.

Blame it on the (chicken) juice — enhances surface attachment and biofilm formation of Campylobacter

We were having dinner with friends Sunday night, and they do a Chinese-style cooking that is light and yummy, but I noticed a lot of cross-contamination going on during the prep (can someone please come up with a better name than cross-contaminaion, and more succinct than, dangerous bugs move around a lot).

icarly.chicken.cell.handsThe patron said, that’s why you cook it, and I said, just cook it doesn’t cut it, and explained why.

We may never be invited for dinner again.

The next day (another school holiday) the two 5-years-olds were with me for a few hours, so after a couple of hours at the park, I decided we would make two cakes — one gluten/dairy free, one traditional.

I don’t like cake but it is a part of my spring ritual of getting rid of spices that have accumulated for six years and, like Ikea furniture, crap that looked good at the store but awful at home.

The girls became involved in an extended discussion of Salmonella, eggs and cross-contamination.

They enjoyed the cake.

Brown et al. published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology that the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is primarily transmitted via the consumption of contaminated foodstuffs, especially poultry meat. In food processing environments, C. jejuni is required to survive a multitude of stresses and requires the use of specific survival mechanisms, such as biofilms. An initial step in biofilm formation is bacterial attachment to a surface.

Here, we investigated the effects of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) on C. jejuni surface attachment and biofilm formation. Supplementation of brucella broth with ≥5% chicken juice resulted in increased biofilm formation on glass, polystyrene, and stainless steel surfaces with four C. jejuni isolates and one C. coli isolate in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions. When incubated with chicken juice, C. jejuni was both able to grow and form biofilms in static cultures in aerobic conditions. Electron microscopy showed that C. jejuni cells were associated with chicken juice particulates attached to the abiotic surface rather than the surface itself.

sorenne.doug.usa.today.jun.11This suggests that chicken juice contributes to C. jejuni biofilm formation by covering and conditioning the abiotic surface and is a source of nutrients. Chicken juice was able to complement the reduction in biofilm formation of an aflagellated mutant of C. jejuni, indicating that chicken juice may support food chain transmission of isolates with lowered motility. We provide here a useful model for studying the interaction of C. jejuni biofilms in food chain-relevant conditions and also show a possible mechanism for C. jejuni cell attachment and biofilm initiation on abiotic surfaces within the food chain.

Helen L. Brown, Mark Reuter, Louise J. Salt, Kathryn L. Cross, Roy P. Betts, and Arnoud H. M. van Vliet

http://aem.asm.org/content/80/22/7053.abstract?etocjejuni

Eggs? 3 sick with Salmonella during festival of Pilar in Spain

Three people were stricken with Salmonella and hospitalized during the past holiday Pilar in Zaragoza.

Venida_de_la_Virgen_del_Pilar_(Ximenez_de_Maza)The latest data published by the Public Health Epidemiological Bulletin of Aragon recorded a total of 480 food poisoning during the 2014, slightly above the estimated public health figure for this period, which is 431 based on the data accumulated in the last five years in the community. Last week a total of 9 cases were detected in the community. Five of them were in the province of Zaragoza and the four others in Huesca.

Most outbreaks of food poisoning (TIA) and acute gastroenteritis (AGE) are caused by spoiled food. The tendency of these eating disorders has been rising in recent months in Aragon. In May, the figure exceeded 200 affected after a major outbreak group of 13 people. The figure rose again in June, when it came to 242 It is precisely in the summer when poisoning soar and egg products are often the main cause of salmonella.

‘Strict regulations’ with hundreds sick; European health types confirm Salmonella eggs from Germany

Sporadic or outbreak cases of Salmonella Enteritidis reported by Austria, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in addition to one case reported in Luxembourg in a patient residing in France, appear to be linked by time of symptom onset and microbiological characteristics of isolates.

Raw_eggCases in Austria, France and Germany share an epidemiological link to the same egg packaging centre in southern Germany. Isolates from contaminated eggs identified in France originating from the implicated German egg packaging centre share similar molecular characteristics to the human cases. Isolates from a sample of a Salmonella-contaminated strawberry cake, identified in Germany through an investigation unrelated to this outbreak, also share similar molecular characteristics to the human cases. Additional microbiological and environmental investigations could further strengthen evidence to support or discard the hypothesis of all cases being part of the same outbreak, and being infected after consumption of the same food (i.e. contaminated eggs produced in southern Germany).

 This is particularly unclear with regard to the outbreak cases in the United Kingdom. Investigations and actions taken by the food sector have supposedly stopped the distribution of the suspected contaminated food to the market. However, due to the delay in case reporting, it is still possible that more cases will be notified. ECDC will continue to closely monitor the occurrence of human cases through EPIS-FWD and Member States could consider enhancing their surveillance activities for this Salmonella serovar and specifically for the phage type 14b.

 It is noticeable that Salmonella Enteritidis-contaminated eggs have been able to reach the market, in spite of the strict regulations applying to table eggs for human consumption, and the success in reducing human and animal infections in recent years within the EU. EPIS-FWD and RASFF have been confirmed to be excellent tools for sharing information, identifying potential cross-border threats and linking independent investigations simultaneously occurring in different Member States.

Hundreds sick: that egg problem in Europe; apparently came from Germany

Sporadic or outbreak cases of Salmonella Enteritidis reported by Austria, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in addition to one case reported in Luxembourg in a patient residing in France, appear to be linked by time of symptom onset and microbiological characteristics of isolates.

seasame.street.good.egg.projectCases in Austria, France and Germany share an epidemiological link to the same egg packaging centre in southern Germany. Isolates from contaminated eggs identified in France originating from the implicated German egg packaging centre share similar molecular characteristics to the human cases. Isolates from a sample of a Salmonella-contaminated strawberry cake, identified in Germany through an investigation unrelated to this outbreak, also share similar molecular characteristics to the human cases. Additional microbiological and environmental investigations could further strengthen evidence to support or discard the hypothesis of all cases being part of the same outbreak, and being infected after consumption of the same food (i.e. contaminated eggs produced in southern Germany).

This is particularly unclear with regard to the outbreak cases in the United Kingdom. Investigations and actions taken by the food sector have supposedly stopped the distribution of the suspected contaminated food to the market. However, due to the delay in case reporting, it is still possible that more cases will be notified. ECDC will continue to closely monitor the occurrence of human cases through EPIS-FWD and Member States could consider enhancing their surveillance activities for this Salmonella serovar and specifically for the phage type 14b.

It is noticeable that Salmonella Enteritidis-contaminated eggs have been able to reach the market, in spite of the strict regulations applying to table eggs for human consumption, and the success in reducing human and animal infections in recent years within the EU. EPIS-FWD and RASFF have been confirmed to be excellent tools for sharing information, identifying potential cross-border threats and linking independent investigations simultaneously occurring in different Member States.

European Food Safety Authority

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/pub/646e.htm