2 dead, hundreds sickened in German Salmonella outbreak: It can come from free-range and organic eggs

From the duh files:

egg.dirty.feb.12Berlin-based consumer protection organization Foodwatch warned about the state of food animal farming and called for stronger regulations for maintaining animals on Thursday. This follows an outbreak of salmonella that killed two and sickened hundreds, thought to have hailed from a Bavarian company.

The source of the outbreak is believed to be Bavarian egg producer Bayern-Ei. The district attorney for the city of Regensburg is investigating whether the company “brought dangerous food onto the market” in the past year, while animal rights activists have criticized the company for keeping large groups of chickens in small, overcrowded cages.

Theo Ziegler, senior public prosecutor in Regensburg, said that should their suspicions be confirmed, the firm would have to answer for the two deaths following the outbreak in mid-2014. Hundreds of people in Germany, the UK, Austria, France and Luxembourg fell ill from the same strain of salmonella.

Officials in Britain and Austria, which each lost a citizen to the outbreak, claim they are certain at least one of the deaths can be traced to Bayern-Ei.

Foodwatch cautioned in a report on the egg industry that no matter what the nature of egg production – free-range, cage-free, caged or organic – the humane treatment and safety of the products is not guaranteed.


CSI UV goggles? How to tell if an egg is bad

Friend of the barfblog and current Welsh tourist, Don Schaffner of Rutgers University, has a few things to say about egg safety, especially: most of those so-called tests are BS.

nsw.egg.label.oct.14According to SafeBee, there are lots of egg tests on the Internet. You’re supposed to place an egg in a bowl of cold water, for instance. If it floats, it’s old. If it sinks, it’s fresh. If it sinks but stands on its pointed end, it’s supposedly a caution: eat it now before it goes bad. 

The theory behind the float test? Egg shells are porous, and as time goes on the egg’s liquid evaporates through the porous shell and air enters. That makes the eggs more buoyant, so some say the older an egg, the more it floats. 

Forget this test, says Don Schaffner, PhD, a food scientist at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey. “Eggs do take in air as they age, but the size of the air cell in the egg varies from egg to egg. So a freshly laid egg and an older egg may react similarly.” There is too much variability in air cell size from egg to egg to make this a valid test, he says. 

Other Internet advice calls for cracking the egg open and inspecting the yolk and albumen (the white part). If it’s a fresh egg, the yolk should be bright yellow or orange, and the white should not spread much. 

Schaffner gives a thumbs-down to this test as well. “The color of the yolk is primarily determined by what they feed the chickens,” he says. “It may change over time, but it will vary from egg to egg.”

As for the white part: “An older egg will have a white that spreads more than a fresher egg,” he says. “But that has nothing to do with the fact that the egg is spoiled or not, it’s a chemical, physical change in the egg.” 

Another popular idea is to give your egg the sound test. In a quiet space, hold the egg up to your ear and shake it. If it sloshes, the egg has gone bad, the story goes. That sloshing is said to indicate a watery, old yolk.  

Shaffner says this sound test has no credibility. “Eggs do slosh around,” he says. Sloshing doesn’t indicate spoilage, however, he says. He does have another use for the sound test: “That would be a good way to see if the egg is hardboiled or not.”

powell.egg.nov.14The best test to see if an egg is OK to eat? Get the egg in question and have your nose ready. “As far as I know the only way to know an egg is bad is to crack it open and see if it smells.” Of course, you can always examine the egg as you smell, he says. “If it looks strange, I wouldn’t consume it, but odor is the real tip off.” 

Never mind that your refrigerator has a special spot for eggs built into the door. Keep them in the carton, Schaffner and others say. “We know the door is not as good,” he says.

Instead, put the eggs, still in the carton, in the coldest part of the refrigerator. On the door, the temperatures may fluctuate when the door is opened and closed. Keeping the eggs in the carton also means you can refer to the sell-by date. Eggs — even hard-boiled eggs — should not be left out at room temperature more than two hours, as dangerous bacteria can grow. 

“Salmonella is the organism we are most worried about,” Schaffner says. It could be inside the egg if it was infected before it was laid, or it could be on the shell.

Cook whole eggs to about 144 to 158 degrees F; egg whites, 144 to 149; yolks, 149 to 158. Cooking eggs sunny side up or over easy is more of a Salmonella risk than cooking them more thoroughly, Schaffner says.

2000 sickened: US egg executives punished for Salmonella outbreak, sentences send strong message to industry (no it doesn’t)

If you’re an egg producer and sicken over 2,000 people with Salmonella because of your shitty procedures, three months in jail and fines is not a victory.

Raw_eggIt’s shit.

They’ll be out in a month (I’ve been in jail).

According to AP, the three-month sentences handed down in federal court are noteworthy because only a handful of cases of corporate misconduct end with executives behind bars (in the U.S.). The extent of harm caused by the outbreak and the pattern of problems led to the decision for jail time.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, each faced up to a year in jail on misdemeanor charges for shipping adulterated food. They will remain free while appealing their sentences.

“There’s a litany of shameful conduct, in my view, that happened under their watch,” U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett said.

Prosecutors said the jail sentences send a strong message about the importance of following food safety rules.

“A sentence of imprisonment is a fairly significant sentence in a case like this,” said Peter Deegan, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case.

No, it just shows how little the U.S. cares about food safety and the free reign to make people sick.

What can consumers do if they want to eat eggs?


Market microbial food safety at retail.


Market microbial food safety at retail and stop hucksterism: Brisbane campaign to buy local produce

It’s not a new superbug, it’s an outbreak of super stupidity.

A Brisbane TV station finally woke up to Australia’s egg problem, and titled their investigation (bottom), Scientists fear super strain of bacteria behind food poisoning outbreak.

Raw_eggThis refers to the numerous egg-related outbreaks in Queensland and throughout Australia, largely related to a chef snobbery that they have to make their own aioli or mayo using raw eggs.

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-12-15-2.pdf or http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-12-15.xlsx

And in response to the 32 Australians that have been stricken with Hepatitis A from imported frozen fruit, a new initiative is targeting Brisbane shoppers to support local farmers by buying local produce.

Every time some in Brisbane gets religion about buying local, I point out that’s much easier in a sub-tropical climate than, say, Canada.

The scheme involves 100 independent grocers and is backed by Brisbane’s Produce Markets. 

Greengrocer Joseph Guardala said the “hand picked” message was aimed at family shoppers.

He claims greengrocers have better fruit and vegetables than major supermarkets, because they specialize in it.

“They don’t want imported stuff, they want their local fruit to and veg to be locally grown here,” he said

He visits the Brisbane Markets every morning to source the produce for his store, Indooroopilly Fruit. 

“I’m hand picking everything, I’m tasting everything, I open boxes, I even pick through pallets every day, just to get my 24 grapes that I exactly want,” he said.

Here’s hoping you washed your hands properly before spreading Norovirus on all that fresh fruit and veg you touch.

54 sickened: German eggs linked to UK Salmonella outbreak

A Salmonella outbreak at Kirkby take-away Woks Cooking has been linked to German eggs and poor hygiene.

salmonella.eggsHealth bosses have completed their final investigations into the fast food outlet which was shut down by Knowsley council last July but opened again in August and is now under new management.

The report by Public Health England (PHE) confirms food safety experts have found signs that the salmonella illnesses at Woks Cooking, as well as a series of other cases across Europe, were linked to eggs from a German supplier.

Dr Alex Stewart, from PHE’s Cheshire and Merseyside centre, said: “There is now evidence to indicate that a series of cases in Europe caused by the same strains of Salmonella were associated with consumption of eggs from a single source. The eggs from this supplier also reached distributors and food outlets in England and there is evidence to support the hypothesis that this was the same source of infection for Woks Cooking.

“Nevertheless, good practice in any food outlet accounts for the possibility of contaminated food sources; in this outbreak it is clear that poor hygiene practices with cross-contamination were the ultimate cause of the outbreak.”

It had previously been thought 25 people were struck by the salmonella in Kirkby last July but food safety experts have now confirmed 54 cases were identified which were linked to Woks Cooking, which is on Richard Hesketh Drive in Westvale.

Of these, 33 cases were microbiologically confirmed Salmonella Enteritidis PT14b and 21 were classified as probable cases.

There were nine people hospitalised during the outbreak.

A spokeswoman for PHE said they were unable to name the company which supplied the eggs from but confirmed it was German.

‘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.”


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.


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.