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.

 

 

Got a reference for that throwaway in-the-home cause? Salmonella and catered meals in Europe

Salmonella spp. is the causative agent of a foodborne disease called salmonellosis, which is the second most commonly reported gastrointestinal infection in the European Union (EU).

Raw_eggAlthough over the years the annual number of cases of foodborne salmonellosis within the EU has decreased markedly, in 2014, a total of 88,715 confirmed cases were still reported by 28 EU Member States.

The European Food Safety Authority reported that, after the household environment, the most frequent settings for the transmission of infection were catering services. As evidenced by the reviewed literature, which was published over the last 15 years (2000–2014), the most frequently reported causative agents were Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium serovars. These studies on outbreaks indicated the involvement of various facilities, including hospital restaurants, takeaways, ethnic restaurants, hotels, in-flight catering, one fast-food outlet and the restaurant of an amusement park. The most commonly reported sources of infection were eggs and/or egg-containing foods, followed by meat- and vegetable-based preparations.

Epidemiological and microbiological studies allowed common risk factors to be identified, including the occurrence of cross-contamination between heat-treated foods and raw materials or improperly cleaned food-contact surfaces.

Salmonellosis associated with mass catering: a survey of European Union cases over a 15-year period

Epidemiology and Infection; Cambridge University Press 2016; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268816001540; 13 pages; Published online: 18 July 2016

Osimani, L. Aquilanti And F. Clementi

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10411413&fileId=S0950268816001540

 

UK says raw eggs ‘safe for pregnant women’

That didn’t take long.

Six months after a UK Food Standards Agency working group suggested that raw or lightly cooked – runny – eggs were safe for all as long as they were produced under the Lion code or equivalent standards, the report was adopted by FSA so the BBC headline was, “Raw eggs ‘safe for pregnant women.”

Raw_eggThis in a country that still recommends cooking meat until it is piping or steaming hot, with temperature and thermometers as an afterthought because, it may be too complicated for consumers.

The risk of Salmonella from UK eggs produced to Lion code or equivalent standards should be considered “very low”, the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food said.

It said this meant eggs could be served raw or lightly cooked to “vulnerable” groups like the elderly and the young.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has begun a consultation on the issue.

The committee’s report said there had been a “major reduction in the microbiological risk from salmonella in UK hen shell eggs” since a report it produced in 2001,

Its recommendation to classify certain eggs as “very low” risk only applies to UK hens’ eggs produced under Lion code or equivalent standards.

It also warns that safety guidelines including proper storage and eating eggs within best before dates must be followed.

The FSA said it had launched an eight-week consultation in response to the report.

“The consultation is inviting views on the recommended changes to the FSA’s advice from a range of stakeholders, including food and hospitality industries, consumer and enforcement bodies, and health care practitioners,” it said.

seasame.street.good.egg.projectIt currently advises members of vulnerable groups against eating “raw eggs, eggs with runny yolks or any food that is uncooked or only lightly cooked and contains raw eggs” due to the risk of food poisoning.

Professor John Coia, Chair of the ACMSF Expert Ad Hoc group on eggs said, ‘The committee has found that there has been a major reduction in the risk from Salmonella in UK hens’ eggs since 2001. This is especially the case for eggs produced under the Lion Code, or equivalent schemes. It also recommended that these eggs could be served raw or lightly cooked to both those in good health and those in more vulnerable groups.’

Following Committee approval and a UK wide consultation of the report, the FSA has agreed to examine its advice taking into account the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.

1900 sickened: DeCosters appeal jail time in Salmonella egg case

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and Peter DeCoster were sentenced April 13, 2015 to three months in prison for introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce after eggs from their Iowa farms were linked to a 2010 national salmonella outbreak which sickened at least 1,900 people.

decostersU.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett required the father and son to complete a year of probation following prison and pay $100,000 each. The DeCosters’s former company, Quality Egg LLC, was fined nearly $6.8 million.

More than 1,900 people across the country reported getting sick from Salmonella enteritidis linked to tainted eggs supplied by Quality Egg. The companies recalled 550 million eggs nationwide.

Quality Egg pleaded guilty in June 2014 to bribing public officials and misbranding eggs to make them appear fresher.

The DeCosters’s sentences — especially the prison time — were viewed as a warning to other food producers.

Jack DeCoster, 82, of Turner, Maine, and Peter DeCoster, 52, of Clarion, are now trying to get out of their jail time. They filed an appeal April 27, 2015, asking the U.S. District Court of Appeals 8th Circuit to remove incarceration from their sentence.

“They’re arguing that, based upon the type of offense, any sentence of jail time is not appropriate,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said last week.

Pro-business groups, including the Cato Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed briefs in support of the DeCosters, arguing executives shouldn’t serve jail time for this type of crime.

“If executives can be imprisoned for criminal violations of strict liability laws by virtue of the position they hold within a company, the United States economy would suffer,” attorneys for Cato and the manufacturing association argued. “Executive business decisions would be motivated less by good business principles and more by fear of possible future prison sentences.”

The 8th Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal March 17 in St. Paul, Minn., and the parties are now waiting for a decision.

231 sickened with Salmonella in Singapore

Salmonella contamination has been determined as the cause of mass food poisoning among 231 people who ate food prepared by Kuisine Catering in February

raw.eggsInitial reports said that about 130 people were known to have become ill after consuming food from the caterer, but a total of 231 are now linked to the case.

The alarm was first sounded when 33 people fell ill after a birthday party in February. Later, more affected consumers said they experienced vomiting and had diarrhorea after consuming food prepared by the caterer from Feb 12 to 14.

In its latest report, Lianhe Wanbao reported that the company has since shut its business, and its signboard has been removed from the space it occupied in Jurong.

According to the Chinese daily, authorities found that the eggs used by the company were contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis, which can be caused by improper food handling.

A probe also found that there were expired food items in the kitchen, and that the company did not keep temperature records for its freezers and chillers.

Lowering loads on the farm: Australia still has an egg problem

Introduction: Salmonellosis is a significant public health problem, with eggs frequently identified as a food vehicle during outbreak investigations.

raw.egg.mayo.may.13Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis are the two most frequently identified causes of egg-associated disease in industrialized countries. In Australia, a comprehensive review of egg-associated outbreaks has not been previously undertaken.

Methods: Using a national register of foodborne outbreaks, we undertook a descriptive review of egg-associated outbreaks between 2001 and 2011. Included in our review was additional detail from the findings of trace back investigations conducted to the farm level. Evidence classifications were developed and applied to each outbreak based on descriptive and analytical epidemiology, food safety investigations, and microbiological testing of clinical, food, and trace back-derived samples.eggs-for-sale-at-the-arab-market-of-jerusalems-old-city-in-israel-B1K785

Results: Over the study period, the proportion of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks linked to eggs increased significantly (p < 0.001). In total, 166 outbreaks were identified, with 90% caused by Salmonella Typhimurium. The majority of outbreaks were linked to commercial food providers, with raw egg use the major contributing factor. These events resulted in more than 3200 cases, more than 650 hospitalizations, and at least 4 deaths. Fifty-four percent of investigations used analytical epidemiology, food microbiology, and trace back microbiology to demonstrate links between human illness and eggs. Trace back investigations identified S. enterica indistinguishable from outbreak-associated clinical or food samples runny-egg-yolkson 50% of sampled egg farms.

Conclusion: Effective control of egg-associated salmonellosis remains a challenge in Australia, with Salmonella Typhimurium dominating as the causative serotype in outbreak events. Although outbreaks predominantly occur in the settings of restaurants, the high recovery rate of indistinguishable Salmonella on epidemiologically implicated egg farms suggests that further efforts to minimize infection pressure at the primary production level are needed in Australia.

Salmonella Typhimurium and Outbreaks of Egg-Associated Disease in Australia, 2001 to 2011

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease; March 2016; DOI: 10.1089/fpd.2015.2110

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299515711_Salmonella_Typhimurium_and_Outbreaks_of_Egg-Associated_Disease_in_Australia_2001_to_2011

Way forward for safer eggs: Forget faith-based food safety, inspections and audits are never enough

The editorial board of The Des Moines Register writes that if there’s one lesson to be learned from the 2010 salmonella outbreak that originated in Iowa and sickened thousands of consumers nationwide, it’s the high cost of failing to properly regulate egg audit.checklistproduction.

Maybe.

But what constitutes proper regulation?

What constitutes proper audits and inspections?

How can consumers choose?

Jack and Peter DeCoster, who were criminally charged for the way they ran the Quality Egg operation in Iowa, were bad actors, as the Iowa egg industry now admits. But what sort of regulatory system do we have that allows scofflaws to not only flourish but also become some of the industry’s biggest players?

That’s a question our governor and state legislators have steadfastly, and very deliberately, refused to address. Still, it has to be asked, particularly in light of the recent revelations that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship indefinitely suspended its inspection of egg production facilities last year to eliminate any risk of inspectors spreading the bird flu virus.

After the 2010 salmonella outbreak and shortly before leaving office, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver proposed a series of reforms aimed at addressing five vulnerabilities in Iowa’s egg production regulations. None have been acted upon by the Branstad administration.

Among the proposed reforms:

More stringent state oversight of the smaller egg farms — those with fewer than 3,000 laying hens — that are exempt from federal regulations.

AIB.audit.eggsState-mandated reporting, by both testing laboratories and egg producers, of positive tests for salmonella enteritidis.

Accreditation and certification standards for laboratories that perform testing for salmonella.

Creation of a state-mandated salmonella detection and prevention program, with minimum training and competency standards for the staff.

Creation of a new funding stream to support the implementation of a comprehensive, statewide egg-safety program.

But that’s not enough.

Consumers and their pocketbooks will drive food safety innovation and accountability at retail.

Market food safety at retail so consumers can choose.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

Iowa egg oversight ended last year

Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa, the epicenter of a nationwide salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people nearly six years ago, has suspended its egg facility inspections to guard against a recurrence of bird flu. While the risk may be slight, state agriculture officials say they fear that inspectors might spread the virus from one flock to another as they visit egg facilities.

egg.farmGovernment officials and egg industry supporters contend that suspending inspections, which stopped almost a year ago, has not compromised food safety. Farmers are still expected to follow safety regulations, some put in place after the 2010 egg recall.

But critics say the lack of inspections in the nation’s top-producing egg state jeopardizes food safety for biosecurity and leaves the precautions up to corporate farm operators. And they point to the most recently available reports from federal or state inspections, done before the checks ended, to emphasize why such oversight is necessary.

Those records show:

STRAY ANIMALS: Multiple incidents of stray animals getting inside poultry houses, including one site where “approximately eight” frogs were found. Contact between poultry and other animals that can carry disease is forbidden in the facilities. That includes amphibians, which can carry salmonella and cause serious illness to humans.

REFRIGERATION: Not washing or storing eggs at appropriate temperatures at multiple facilities.

BOTCHED TESTS: Improper or no testing for salmonella as required by federal rules in at least 14 sites.

RODENTS: Evidence of rodent infestations, including

“This is jaw-dropping. I just don’t know what else to say,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University and an author of books on food safety. “The inspectors are turning up potential hazards. Why anybody would tell you with a straight face that suspending these inspections is no big deal is beyond my comprehension.”

cafe-free.eggOscar Garrison, a food safety executive for United Egg Producers, said stopping bird flu also impacts human health. The virus led to the destruction of more than 31 million chickens, turkeys and other birds in Iowa last year.

Garrison said he believes that suspending the inspections was an appropriate step, given the context of the bird flu catastrophe.

Other top-producing egg states have either continued to inspect egg producers during the outbreak or stopped temporarily and later resumed them, the Register found. Ohio, the second-largest egg-producing state, and Texas, the nation’s fifth-top egg producer, resumed their inspections late last year. Indiana, the third-largest, continued its inspection throughout, as did fourth-largest Pennsylvania, state officials said.

Pennsylvania officials changed their protocol after the outbreak, instructing inspectors to wait at least seven days between inspection visits to different farms. Such an alternative — or requiring inspectors to wear biosafety gear — is more sensible than suspending inspections entirely, said William Marler, a Seattle attorney whose firm represented more than 100 victims of the 2010 nationwide salmonella outbreak whose origins were traced to Iowa.

“Given the black eye Iowa’s egg production got in 2010, it just seems shortsighted to suspend the inspections,” Marler said. “It sends a completely wrong message to consumers.”

In 2010 eggs contaminated with salmonella from Wright County Egg showed up in 23 states and resulted in a recall of 550 million eggs.

salmonella.eggsThe government reported that at least 1,939 cases of illness were likely associated with the outbreak. But some believe the number to be more than 50,000 people, citing  Centers for Disease and Prevention reports that estimate that for every reported illness, more than 38 go unreported.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter, were sentenced in April to 90 days in jail and fined $100,000 each for their role in the outbreak.

Their trials brought to light what federal officials said was a deliberate and routine effort to avoid proper health regulations. That included falsifying paperwork to a firm that inspected the plant. On the eve of each audit, workers were given blank, signed audit forms and told to fabricate data for the report, prosecutors said.

After reports of human illness, regulators made findings that included rodent infestations and as much as 8 feet of manure beneath some of the facilities.