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.

Salmonella in not-so-Lucky’s mayo sickens 77, leads to egg recall

An Ohio family farm is voluntarily recalling shell eggs for a possible Salmonella contamination. Kenneth Miller Farms in New Lebanaon said the eggs were sold to Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery and the Mudlick Tavern.

moe_pickled_eggsThe recall come after the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected samples that tested positive for Salmonella. Kenneth Miller Farms supplies Lucky’s Taproom with eggs, the popular Oregon District restaurant had to shut its doors earlier this month after dozens of customers became sickened. Tests later revealed that mayonnaise made locally tested positive for Salmonella.

The rise and fall of the American Salmonella empire

Salmonella enterica causes an estimated 1 million domestically acquired foodborne illnesses annually. Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (SE) is among the top three serovars of reported cases of Salmonella.

roman.empireWe examined trends in SE foodborne outbreaks from 1973 to 2009 using Joinpoint and Poisson regression. The annual number of SE outbreaks increased sharply in the 1970s and 1980s but declined significantly after 1990.

Over the study period, SE outbreaks were most frequently attributed to foods containing eggs. The average rate of SE outbreaks attributed to egg-containing foods reported by states began to decline significantly after 1990, and the proportion of SE outbreaks attributed to egg-containing foods began declining after 1997.

Our results suggest that interventions initiated in the 1990s to decrease SE contamination of shell eggs may have been integral to preventing SE outbreaks.

The rise and decline in Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis outbreaks attributed to egg-containing foods in the United States, 1973–2009

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 04 / March 2016, pp 810-819

P. Wright, L. Richardson, B. E. Mahon, R. Rothenberg, and D. J. Cole

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10170793&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

Not just an Australian problem: Salmonella in raw-egg mayo apparent culprit in Lucky’s restaurant outbreak with 77 sick

Nine people who became ill after eating at Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery tested positive for salmonella, and so did mayonnaise that the restaurant made in-house, local health officials said Monday.

mayonnaise.raw.eggThe number of people who complained of being sickened after eating at Lucky’s rose to 77 by Monday, an increase of 17 since Friday, according to John Steele, spokesman for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County. Those who became ill reported stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Five people were admitted to hospitals, although health officials said they don’t know whether anyone remains hospitalized. The restaurant shut down Monday, Feb. 29. Health officials expect the number of confirmed salmonella cases to rise as test results are completed, Steele said.

Drew Trick, the owner of Lucky’s, said Monday that the eatery will never make its mayonnaise in-house again. On the tap room’s Facebook page, Trick wrote, “Well, it seems our efforts to source locally and make our food from scratch has failed our customers and ourselves. Know that we are doing all that is possible to rectify the situation and eliminate the chance of this happening again.”

Lucky’s, at 520 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District, will remain closed “for an unknown period of time,” Trick wrote, but hopes “to open with a clean bill of health very soon.” The restaurant and craft-beer bar had been gearing up for its 5th anniversary celebration this week.

A table of raw egg-related outbreaks in Australia is available at:

http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-12-1-15.xlsx

Eggs from modern farms are safe and wholesome

Ken Klippen of the U.S. National Association of Egg Farmers writes in support of Will Coggin’s letter to the editor on the Massachusetts ballot initiative on caged layers producing eggs. The group I represent, The National Association of Egg Farmers, is in support of free choice for eggs from different production systems, but the ballot initiative will eliminate that free choice.

cage.eggsAs it relates to food safety, every egg farmer knows that eggs laid on the same ground where manure is located increases the likelihood of contamination.

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, a group of scientists investigating the different production systems for eggs, finished their two-year study of the available research including food safety. The conclusions from their analysis of the research is that eggs produced in caged environments had less fecal contamination compared to cage-free eggs. This is logical since cages allow for the eggs to be removed from the environment of the hen compared to cage-free, where the eggs come into contact with manure. Any reasoning person would conclude that keeping eggs clean and away from manure is better from a food safety perspective.

Caged eggs allow for cleaner eggs.

The scientific articles that support this claim are below:

1) The Journal Poultry Science in 2011 [90, pp. 1586-1593] published “Comparison of shell bacteria from unwashed and washed table eggs harvested from caged laying hens and cage-free floor-housed laying hens.”

This study found that the numbers of bacteria on eggs was lower in housing systems that separated hens from manure and shavings.

2) The Journal Food Control published a study June 17, 2014, entitled “Microbiological Contamination of Shell Eggs Produced in Conventional and Free-Range Housing Systems.” The conclusions state, “Battery caged hens are standing on wire slats that allow feces to fall to a manure collection system beneath the hens. Conversely, free-range hens laid their eggs in nest boxes on shavings and the eggs remained in contact with hens, shavings and fecal material until they are collected. The longer contact time with free-range hens, shavings and feces would explain the higher enterobacteriaceae counts (pathogenic bacteria) on free-range eggs as compared to battery caged eggs.”

One of the letters to the editor claims that caged layers increases salmonella, citing a government survey. This is not true. It’s not even logical when considering the federal agency responsible for food safety has issued regulations to protect the consumer. The Food & Drug Administration has issued the regulation entitled Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation (21 CFR part 118) on July 9, 2009, requiring shell egg farmers to implement measures to prevent SE from contaminating eggs on the farm. If caged environments increased salmonella, it’s inconceivable that FDA would issue regulations governing the production of eggs in caged environments.

Who knows it’s all marketing BS: Where did your egg come from?

Every industry has a few bad eggs. For the egg industry, it was DeCoster Egg Farms. In 2010, DeCoster was harboring foul cages full of sick hens.

egg.dirty.feb.12Those hens laid 550 million eggs tainted with a toxic strain of Salmonella enteritidis, which in turn ended up on grocery store shelves. The eggs were broken into skillets, whisked into mayonnaise, and ended up sickening as many as 6,200 Americans in what would become the largest egg recall in U.S. history. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration quickly passed laws to reform egg safety—but not before consumers had seen the crack in the industry’s veneer.

TEN Ag Tech, a Southern California–based startup aims to take the existential crisis out of your egg purchase. The tech company seeks to keep the egg industry accountable in two ways. First, it offers mobile-based apps that increase transparency on farms by monitoring human behavior—i.e., keeping track of who enters and leaves a hen house. Second, it engraves each individual egg with its own (nontoxic, naturally) gold laser barcode. Input that barcode onto the Naturally Smart Egg website, and you’ll instantly know everything about that egg’s origins: the breed of hen that laid it, the production method that spawned it (cage-free, traditional caged production, or free-range), and the moment it was packed within 180 seconds.

If this is all beginning to sound like a certain Portlandia skit—you know, that one where the couple interrogate their waitress about Colin, the chicken they will be enjoying—then you’re on the right track.

 It’s that, plus data. TEN Ag Tech seeks to “reconnect consumers to the farms that feed them,” according to its website. Since last July, consumers have been buying the company’s Naturally Smart eggs on the shelves of Chicago’s high-end Mariano’s grocery stores, a division of Kroger.

TEN Ag Tech’s vision is not limited to eggs: In February, the company will debut its traceable technology for coffee and meat. The goal is to prevent foodborne illness debacles like the recent outbreaks at fast-casual chain Chipotle. “As monoculture grows, companies like Chipotle are creating alternative realities, fresh food, local foods coming from local places,” says Jonathan Phillips, the company’s president and CEO. “The question is: When you’re dealing with 40,000 farms, how on Earth do you ensure that they’re all producing food for you safely? Our tech begins to solve that problem.”

But when it comes to helping us avoid outbreaks in the first place, this kind of data may be useless, says Ken Anderson, a poultry-extension specialist at North Carolina State University who focuses on egg processing, production, and safety. That’s because in most cases, contamination takes place after the production process, whether in a grocery store, a restaurant, or in your own kitchen. “It’s workers at a grocery store. It’s consumers opening up the egg cartons. It’s people transferring eggs to plastic cartons in their fridge,” says Anderson. “Those little things all add up and add a potential for contamination totally separate from how the eggs were produced.”

Pinto defense: ‘We meet all government standards’ but Australia still has an egg problem

What are consumers to do? Ask if that aioli or mayo at the trendy restaurant is made from raw eggs (they invariably say yes)?

raw.eggsAre consumers to be the critical control point for cross-contamination (that bit of egg goop that invariably ends on the counter when cracking eggs)?

Treat eggs like any other raw food – hazardous waste?

Supermarket giant Coles is under pressure to move eggs off its warm shelves in a bid to protect shoppers from salmonella, matching the practice being rolled out by its main competitor.

Woolworths has pledged to keep eggs in refrigerated cabinets as it continues a nation-wide revamp of its stores.

It is understood dozens of Woolies outlets have had new cabinets installed in the past year, allowing stores to keep fresh eggs chilled below seven degrees, which helps prevent the spread of the harmful salmonella bacteria.

The rollout comes as experts have warned about egg-related salmonella cases, which are on the rise around the country, leading to serious illness and hundreds of hospital admissions each year.

Coles, however, would not disclose if any of its stores would keep eggs refrigerated in response to these calls, prompting shoppers to criticise the company across its social media platforms.

“I will be buying my eggs in Woolworths until you return to displaying them in a chilled area,” one shopper wrote on the company’s Facebook page.

A NSW personal trainer wrote how he had stopped buying eggs from Coles while another shopper pointed out: “It even says on the carton: keep refrigerated.”

The shopper revolt came as another expert joined calls urging stores from large supermarkets to small grocers to be part of an unbroken chain of cold storage for eggs.

egg.dirty.feb.12Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases expert at Australian National University’s medical school, said eggs must be treated just like raw meat and kept in a refrigerator at all times.

“I’m always surprised by the lack of anxiety about this,” he said. “We ought to make the product safer, and we do that by refrigerating it, even at the supermarket.”

Coles declined to comment on Sunday.

It had previously released a one-line statement – “Coles adheres to all health and safety regulations regarding egg storage” – and responded to complaints on social media by denying it was an issue.

Peter Scott, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school, said keeping eggs chilled in all retail stores would not make a big difference to rising salmonella infection rates.

“For the limited time the eggs are stored at the supermarket unrefrigerated it is, black and white, not significant,” he said.

Dr Scott, who also works as a consultant for the poultry industry, stressed that poor practices at farms, where “dirty eggs” are graded and used when they shouldn’t be, combined with poor food-handling practices, particularly in catering or at restaurants, have been the main culprits behind large outbreaks of the food-borne illness.

“You need two consecutive events: an egg contaminated with salmonella and then the [growth] in a raw egg dish,” he said.

“When [eggs] are made into one of these raw egg products, the replication of salmonella is very dramatic, and that’s where all the food poisoning is coming from.”

“Egg-associated outbreaks of salmonella have been increasing – that is clear,” said Associate Professor Martyn Kirk, an expert in epidemiology at the Australian National University.

He said it was crucial for supermarkets to think about cold storage and egg-related salmonella prevention because the risk of an outbreak, leading to serious illness and hospitalisation, can arise at any point from the farm to the home.

“It is a priority. We’ve seen lots of outbreaks. We should be doing multiple things to try and prevent salmonella occurring.”

Under food safety laws, Australian eggs are washed, inspected for cracks, graded and kept in cool rooms on farms before being transported in refrigerated trucks to reduce the risk of bacterial survival.

raw.egg.mayoBut Brian Ahmed, president of the egg group at the Victorian Farmers Federation, said keeping eggs refrigerated in supermarkets remains the “missing link” in the food safety chain.

“It should be treated exactly like raw meat – don’t look at an egg any different way,” he said.

Connor Thomas, adjunct senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Adelaide, also urged grocery stores to keep eggs in a cool environment.

“That way you minimise the growth, increase the storage time, and minimise the risk,” Dr Thomas said.

The calls come as the rate of salmonella infections rises across the country, with up to 40 per cent of cases linked to contaminated eggs.

In 2015 there were 58 cases per 100,000 people in Victoria, twice the infection rate of 10 years ago, health department data shows.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand last updated egg safety laws in 2011, but left out a retail requirement for cool storage because it concluded temperature was not a factor in spreading salmonella here if eggs are clean and intact.

A spokeswoman said the strain of salmonella present in Australia cannot grow on egg shells, though it could contaminate other foods or get inside the egg when its protective membrane breaks down or the egg is cracked.

“It was acknowledged that refrigeration during retail storage may enhance the quality of eggs,” she said.

“However, this option was excluded early in the standard development process due to the nature of egg shell contamination in Australia and the substantial cost of implementing such an option.”

But Dr Thomas said eggs have been continually implicated in illness and it’s difficult to predict when an outbreak is going to happen, so it is vital to maintain a chain of food safety protection.

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

264 sickened: Who’s to blame then? Brisbane ignores raw egg risk

Brisbane likes to think of itself as a bloomin’ metropolis (sorta like the onion), but its food safety politics are based in the old west, with its voluntary disclosure of restaurant inspection reports – 2 stars out of 5, I just won’t post it – and ridiculous number of raw-egg based Salmonella outbreaks.

regulators-younggunmountupIn Feb., 2015, 254 people, mostly state school principals, fell ill and 24 people were admitted to hospital after eating at an education conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition. A subsequent meeting sickened a few more people.

In Nov. 2015, The Courier-Mail reported that a kitchen stick blender contaminated with Salmonella was the source of the outbreak.

Documents showed that investigators examining the outbreak found bacteria on several kitchen utensils, with that bacteria “incubated’’ during the cooking process.

Test results from the investigation showed the people who fell ill were sick with the same strain of salmonella found on a kitchen stick blender “which demonstrates the source of the outbreak”.

bloomin.onionThe documents rule out the possibility the outbreak was caused by eggs being contaminated before they arrived at the convention centre.

“(Redacted) suggested that if the eggs were contaminated when they arrived, that this was the cause, however I advised … that poor cleaning and sanitising of the stick blender was the ultimate cause,’’ the documents say.

“(Redacted) questioned why the Sal. was not killed during the cooking process of the bread butter pudding. I advised that the QH microbiologist suggest that 140deg was not hot enough to kill Sal, but rather it was an incubation temp.’’

Brisbane City Council is now considering prosecuting the operators, with a decision due by the end of this year.

Today it was announced the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre will avoid prosecution after an investigation found no evidence the eggs that had been identified as a possible source of the outbreak were, in fact, responsible.

A Brisbane City Council investigation has found there was insufficient evidence to support a prosecution against the BCEC.

Brisbane lifestyle division chairman Krista Adams said a review of the investigation had found the prospect of a successful prosecution against the BCEC, which would cost ratepayers about $400,000, was “poor”.

“Council commissioned an independent review of the investigation which found that not everyone who tested positive for the salmonella strain consumed the suspect foods, which cast doubt as to the origin of the contamination.

Have any of you ever heard of cross-contamination?

A council spokesman supplied the following summary of the council’s legal advice:

There is no evidence that the eggs used by BCEC in the preparation of the suspect food were contaminated.

While a possible source of contamination may have been the stick blender, there is currently no evidence that the stick blender was used for the creation of the suspect food.

There is no evidence to discount the possibility that the stick blender was used in the preparation of other food on the same day which was not contaminated.

There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the contamination was in food prepared and served to the attendees by BCEC at their respective functions.

All of the evidence shows that BCEC has an exemplary record in keeping its kitchens clean and free of contamination and using proper handling and processing techniques to appropriately minimize contamination risks.

A court is more likely to find that the contamination resulted from a factor or factors beyond the reasonable control of the BCEC.

Bullshit

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

Yes, Brisbane is still a cow town but we’re not that dumb.

As I’ve said from the beginning, if BCEC wants anyone’s business, they should come clean and make a full public accounting of the dishes and ingredients served to principals instead of some legal nonsense with council.

It’s a simple thing: were raw eggs used in any of your sauces or dishes?

They won’t publicly answer.

And it’s not like there aren’t alternatives.

John O’Hara, CEO of leading egg provider Sunny Queen Meal Solutions, said caterers need to feel confident in the product they serve, not only during the festive season, but all year round.

“Caterers, meal providers and food service organisations are encouraged to research and ensure food comes from reputable sources where stringent food safety protocols are in place,” he said.

“Even when your own safety procedures are by the book, when it comes to the health of your guests and your ongoing reputation, it is important to be confident about the product you are serving.”

O’Hara said Sunny Queen prides itself on its quality assurance and food safety programs, and recommends that customers ask their suppliers detailed questions about their QA protocols.

He said manufacturers and suppliers should be transparent about their food safety procedures.

“Sunny Queen is proud of its quality management system, which includes sanitation and cleaning procedures, pest control programs, precise cooking protocols, microbiological testing and traceability systems.

“Sunny Queen Meal Solutions uses real eggs, laid on Sunny Queen farms, and they are all fully cooked or pasteurised, eliminating the need to use raw eggs so real egg dishes can be served with confidence.

“Food safety doesn’t have to be daunting, it just needs diligence. Eggs are an incredibly versatile, nutrient-rich food source, making them the perfect choice for meal providers and caterers.”

Good on ya.

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

Eggs in the Middle-East: 25,000 eggs seized as Salmonella outbreak feared

Customs officials on Thursday seized two trucks that turned out to be carrying over 10,000 eggs – produced by “Palestinian chickens” and headed for Israeli market shelves.

eggs-for-sale-at-the-arab-market-of-jerusalems-old-city-in-israel-B1K785The eggs were confiscated and destroyed. Officials said that the eggs could be contaminated, and that they had not been properly inspected by agricultural authorities.

The eggs, officials said, were being targeted as fears of a major salmonella outbreak was likely.

The egg smugglers were residents of the northern Arab village of Majd al-Krum, aged in their 20s. The eggs were destined to be sold in the northern city of Karmiel. Police have opened an investigation into their smuggling activities.

In a second egg nabbing, Veterinary Service officials seized a large truck, usually used for carrying oil, that was found to be loaded with illegal eggs – 16,800 of them. The source of these eggs was not known, but they, too, did not pass inspection.

On Wednesday, the Health and Agricultural Ministries announced that they were increasing their supervision of fresh food in order to stem an onslaught of food poisoning caused by salmonella. Recent samplings showed that a new form of salmonella bacteria that had not been seen in Israel before was being detected in high amounts – with ten times more salmonella present than in the past.

While there has not yet been an uptick in the number of salmonella cases, officials said that it was just a matter of time before there was a major outbreak.

Officials urged Israelis to cook food thoroughly in order to avoid getting sick, and to buy only inspected products, including eggs, fruits, and vegetables.

Australia has a raw egg problem and why newspapers (they still exist here because the Internet sucks) would publish such recipes is baffling

The Courier Mail out of Brisbane published a column by Frances Whiting extoling the virtues of her grandmother’s raw egg nog recipe.

egg.farm_“She would have been rather chuffed to know that her words of hope still resonate with people today, particularly today.”

I have no idea what chuffed means, and no idea what Australians are talking about almost all of the time.

Basic Eggnog Recipe

6 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp nutmeg

¾ cup rum

¾ cup brandy

2 cups milk

2 cups whipping cream

Beat eggs until frothy, add in sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, then stir in rum and brandy. Add milk and cream, stir vigorously. Pour into jug. Makes 1½ litres.

Why ruin perfectly good foods like eggs and rum?

Raw eggs are risky.

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