MPs’ fury at fresh egg ban because they are ‘too dangerous’ to use in House of Commons’ kitchens

It’s dangerous politics to talk about eggs and risk in the UK.

In 1988, then junior UK health minister Edwina Currie warned the British public that most of the egg production in the UK was affected by Salmonella. Egg sales collapsed, Currie was scrambled-eggs-su-1017334-leventually turfed from cabinet and millions worth of compensation was paid to egg producers.

Yesterday, Members of Parliament scrambled to blast a ban on chefs using fresh eggs in the House of Commons’ kitchens.

Caterers have been told they are “too dangerous” and could be contaminated with salmonella.

Instead they must use liquid egg for dishes like omelette.

But Labour MP Thomas Docherty, vice chairman of the Commons Administration Committee, ordered an inquiry into the daft move.

He said: “I have asked managers to find out who took this ridiculous decision.”

Another shell-shocked MP warned: “If MPs cannot or will not eat scrambled eggs because they are a health risk, members of the public may say, ‘if it is too dangerous for MPs then it must be too dangerous for us’.”

A Commons spokeswoman insisted the ban was in line with Food Standards Agency advice.

She added: “Dishes such as scrambled eggs, mousses or omelettes which do not reach a core temperature of 75C are now made using pasteurised liquid egg rather than fresh eggs.”

But the Food Standards Agency said there was nothing to stop caterers cooking with fresh eggs.

A spokesman pointed out the ­guidance on using the liquid version was meant for vulnerable people like the elderly and ­seriously ill.

It also applied only if the dish was not to be fully cooked.

The spokesman added: “This is simply ­guidance and not a legal requirement.”

Guidance needs to be clear and food safety is never simple. Keep those eggs piping hot.

Should food execs face criminal terms? Lawyers will figure that out but retailers should provide consumers choice

I like eggs, they’re a baking essential and a useful protein source; Sorenne likes them boiled, but only the white parts.

When I buy eggs, I can get free-range, cage-free, omega-3 and probably many others.

What I can’t get is information on the microbiological  safety of eggs at seasame.street.good.egg.projectretail; and these huckster labels are poor surrogates for safety.

In 2010, at least 2,000 people were sickened with Salmonella from eggs produced by DeCoster farms in Iowa.

Three years later, federal prosecutors are still seeking criminal charges.

Attorneys in Iowa’s Northern District are waiting to sentence a former manager of an Iowa egg company involved in the 2010 outbreak that sickened about 2,000 people, possibly to see what testimony he provides to a grand jury that continues to investigate the case.

Tony Wasmund, 62, of Willmar, Minn., pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to bribe a federal egg inspector at Wright County Egg, one of the Iowa egg farms operated by Austin “Jack” DeCoster and Peter DeCoster, a father and son from Clarion.

Wasmund’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 16, nearly a year after he took a plea deal from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The delay feeds speculation that prosecutors are using Wasmund’s testimony to a Cedar Rapids grand jury to implicate others in the DeCoster egg operations.

I understand the law takes a long time; divorce court goes on forever. But there is nothing stopping the better egg producers from bragging about safety, today. And not in scripted media tours targeted at specialized journalists, I want to know, shopping, with my kids.

And I don’t want a cartoon on Sesame Street, I want microbiological data. The best should be loud and proud and brag at retail.

Dropping like flies; at least 20 sick, 5 hospitalized in Canberra food poisoning outbreak

Australia still has an egg problem.

Or at least a Salmonella problem.

According to the Canberra Times, five people have been hospitalized and more than 20 are sick as investigations continue into one of the largest spates of food poisoning recorded in the Australian capital in recent years.

But it’s nothing new; and is an embarrassment to the Australian capital which The Copa Brazilian Churrascoroutinely preaches food safety adherence.

In Dec. 2011, Silo Bakery in Canberra was forced to shut for three days after ACT Health detected salmonella in mayonnaise used in a chicken roll.

It is believed raw egg in the mayonnaise was to blame for the salmonella outbreak which allegedly affected more than a dozen people.

At least 22 people were sickened with salmonella in Dec. at the Canberra bakery. In the aftermath of the outbreak, Silo co-owner Leanne Gray said officials have advised buying commercial mayonnaise or using pasteurized eggs. Her response: “That’s the foulest thing you’ve ever seen, so I said no, I won’t.

Bye bye.

Seventeen months later and The Canberra Times has received reports from numerous readers who have fallen ill as part of a Salmonella outbreak in recent days, after eating at the newly opened The Copa Brazilian Churrasco in Dickson.

A spokesman from The Copa – open for less than a week – confirmed it was working with a team from ACT Health, having voluntarily closed its doors this week citing ventilation exhaust issues.

Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said he was first notified by Calvary Hospital staff about 10am on Monday regarding the influx of patients, who have now been confirmed as having contracted salmonella.

”It’s usually from food and the most likely thing is it’s probably egg-based,” he said. ”But it can be chicken, it can be salads.”

Dr Kelly said there were 22 reported cases and five had been hospitalised as of Tuesday, but he said ”there certainly will be more.”

He said it appeared those affected by food poisoning symptoms had eaten at the same restaurant, where a buffet-style meal had been served.

He confirmed inspections were being carried out on site and investigators had taken swabs of surfaces and samples of available food from the weekend.

Dr Kelly said it was ”one of the biggest” cases in recent years in Canberra, which has now recorded five widespread cases of food poisoning since late garlic_aioli2010. ”We’ve seen four of a similar size,” he said. ”Each of them have been associated with egg.”

Marcela Valenzuela described the emergency department of Calvary Hospital as ”like a war zone” with around 20 people separated from the other emergency patients in a makeshift ward on drips, antibiotics and some even morphine.

Her mother was first admitted with food poisoning on Monday morning, but like many others was treated, sent home, then admitted again.

Ms Valenzuela and her mother were part of a group of 10 dining at the Copa Brazilian Churrasco on Saturday night, with only Ms Valenzuela and friend Carlos Obando escaping illness – as both happened to be on antibiotics. The first Ms Valenzuela knew something was wrong was when a friend messaged her on Monday to ask if she was feeling OK.

”She said, ‘they’re falling like flies, there are a few people already in hospital’ … I rang my mum and she goes, ‘I’ve been up all night with diarrhea and vomiting’, so we brought her in [to hospital],” she said. ”I can’t blame [the restaurant] because we don’t know yet where it comes from – maybe it was something that they bought that was already contaminated.”

She said the scenario could have been worse had the fully booked restaurant not been forced to close around 7pm on Saturday due to faulty exhaust fans, with patrons not charged for their meals.

But the free dinner was not enough to make up for the immediate medical costs. ”Who’s going to pay the bill here?” Mr Obando asked.

A table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia.

Fail: jelly beans in egg cartons, chicks in classrooms

Easter is a big deal in some places, what with the chicks, the bunnies, the chocolate and other religious artifacts to commemorate the resurrection of spring – in the North.

In the South – Australia, not Alabama – Easter marks the beginning of fall, and the kids get two weeks off school.

In the lead-up to Easter, there are some questionable activities that may be going on at day cares and schools (have I mentioned the other parents hate jelly.beans.egg.cartonme?) or in your own kitchen.

A reader sent in this bit from Flower Factor:

“Easter is early this year, falling on Sunday, March 31. I’ve been saving eggshells since January. Quick tip on eggshells: Rather than break the egg in half, carefully tap the top and pour out the egg for use in cooking. Then, carefully, rinse the shell and let it dry. This is ‘re-use and recycle’ at its finest. If you want to make your florist love you, take them cleaned eggs for designing — there are only so many eggs we can eat! And we florists will take your egg trays, too.”

And fill them with jelly beans.

Cardboard egg cartons are impossible to clean; eggs have a tendency to transmit Salmonella; putting ready-to-eat jelly beans in such a container is food porn not food safety.

Chicks in day cares? Great educational opportunity – and they’re cute. But as one teacher was telling me, she has to keep the kids outside or be watching all the time, because 4-year-olds do the most unexpected things: like lick the cage, or stick their hands in chicken poop, or open the crate and smash a chick against a wall (that kid needs help).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reiterated today that 195 people – mainly kids – in 27 states were sickened with Salmonella from March 1–September 24, 2012, after exposure to chicks from a single mail-order hatchery.

This outbreak investigation identified the largest number of human illnesses ever linked to contact with live poultry during a single outbreak, and it chicks.salmonellaunderscores the ongoing risk for human salmonellosis linked to backyard flocks. Preventing live poultry–associated salmonellosis requires an integrated approach involving mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and consumers. Mail-order hatcheries should comply with management and sanitation practices outlined by USDA-NPIP and avoid the shipment of day-old chicks through their hatchery from another hatchery (e.g., trans-shipping). Feed stores should use physical barriers (e.g., a wall or fence) between customers and poultry displays to prevent direct contact with poultry. Educational materials warning customers and advising them on how to reduce the risk for Salmonella infection from live poultry should be distributed with all live poultry purchases.

You see something cute, I see a Salmonella factory.

Failure to communicate: 20-year-old Tunisian dies after eating 28 raw eggs as a dare

Paul Newman was so cool, that stuff he did in a movie 50 years is being reenacted long after his death, and killing people.

According to Huffington Post, a  20-year-old Tunisian man Dhaou Fatnassi died after completing a dare to eat 28 raw eggs, French-language radio station Shems FM reported. According to CoolHandLuke_116PyxurzNews.com.au, Fatnassi’s friends had promised to give him “an undisclosed sum of money” if he swallowed all 28 of the raw eggs whole. (One assumes that did not include the shells, but you can never be sure.)

After doing so, Fatnassi reportedly started to feel pains in his stomach. He headed toward the Hopital les Aghlabides in Kairouan, Tunisia, to receive medical attention, but died in transit.

Over the years, many have surely wondered whether the famous egg-eating scene in “Cool Hand Luke” was replicable in real life, and whether it was really possible to eat 50 eggs and live to tell the tale, as Paul Newman’s character did (his were hard-boiled eggs, not raw).

Warning on raw egg dishes; Australian food safety types pontificate

Australia still has an egg problem.

A raw egg problem.

With the holidays and warm weather, Australian Food Safety Information Council chairman Michael Eyles, warns that trying out new recipes this time of year can be great fun but food poisoning bugs can survive and even grow quickly in foods containing raw egg, like eggnog, home made mayonnaise and desserts such as tiramisu and chocolate mousse, if they aren’t handled properly.

“OzFoodNet has shown that consumption of foods containing raw or minimally cooked eggs is currently the single largest cause of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks. In their most recent nine year survey period they have linked 68 food poisoning outbreaks to eggs with 1404 Australians becoming ill, 322 hospitalised and 2 deaths.”

But it’s not just handling. Yes, refrigerating raw egg dishes will contain risk, but does not eliminate risk. To adapt to the Australian egg climate, every time I’m at an Australian restaurant and offered aioli or mayo, I have to ask if the sauce is raw. Servers and chefs look at me like I’m some new world barbarian who wants eggs somewhat cooked.

A table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia.

34 sick from Salmonella in backyard eggs, Poland, 2011

While Sorenne and I were up watching football at 3:30 a.m. local time (recovering from all the barfing yesterday), she was browsing through this week’s edition of Eurosurveillance and thought this abstract about backyard eggs and Salmonella would be of interest.

One of her teachers at school has chickens and ducks and provides me with eggs, and I provide her with cooked things.

But as I always explain to my 3-year-old sous chef, there are certain precautions to take with raw eggs, not just the undercooking but the cross-contamination, regardless of where they originate.

Abstract below:

Implementation of control measures in line with European Commission regulations has led to a decrease in salmonellosis in the European Union since 2004. However, control programmes do not address laying hens whose eggs are produced for personal consumption or local sale. This article reports an investigation of a salmonellosis outbreak linked to home-produced eggs following a family event held in a farm in September 2011 near Warsaw, Poland. In the outbreak, 34 people developed gastroenteritis symptoms. Results from a cohort study indicated a cake, prepared from raw home-produced eggs, as the vehicle of the outbreak.

Laboratory analysis identified Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis) in stool samples or rectal swabs from 18 of 24 people and in two egg samples. As no food items remained, we used phage typing to link the source of the outbreak with the isolated strains. Seven S. Enteritidis strains analysed (five from attendees and two from eggs) were phage type 21c. Our findings resulted in culling of the infected laying hens and symptomatic pigeons housed next to the hens. Salmonella poses as a public health problem in Poland: control measures should not forget home-produced eggs, as there is a risk of infection from their consumption.

Jack Nicholson, pancakes and kids

Sorenne and I make pancakes once or twice a week.

It’s a recipe I adopted from the N.Y .Times’ Jane Brody about 25 years ago, when I started making them for my eldest daughter, Madelynn.

1 cup buttermilk (but I just use milk with Tahitian limes because buttermilk is ridiculously expensive in Australia)

1 egg

vanilla

honey

baking powder

baking soda

buckwheat flour

lots of frozen berries

Canadian (eh) maple syrup.

And no licking of the batter; Australia has an egg problem.

At 75, Jack Nicholson mentioned pancakes as one of his life lessons.

“What I wish I knew at 18? Everything — from wishing I learned a foreign language to becoming a good chef. I was a short order cook for a while in New Jersey in between acting jobs. One day, a woman came in to ask for pancakes and my pancake came out about 3 inches thick. She said: ‘What the hell is this?’ I lost my temper, hit the pancake and said, ‘Make your own damn pancakes!’

“So you can add wishing I knew how to control my temper to that list.”

Nicholson also added, “I no longer have the energy to both work and fool around. So the last few movies I’ve done, I have hardly left the hotel at nights.”

A food safe breakfast: me and Sorenne

Sorenne and I often bake in the morning.

With the summer solstice approaching in Brisbane, and mornings alighting at 4:45 a.m., she gets up early, I get up early, and we hang out in the kitchen.

Today was whole meal muffins and French toast from some leftover baguette for the Frenchie.

I don’t let Sorenne lick the spoon and am careful not to cross-contaminate; Australia has an egg problem.

A table of Australian egg-based outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia.

Yesterday was poached egg on asparagus on leftover salmon from the night before on whole wheat toast; with mango.

We like to improvise.

Salmonella controls for duck flocks working in Ireland; reptiles remain a source of infection

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland says that procedures put in place to control Salmonella in ducks and duck eggs are working, according to the National Salmonella, Shigella and Listeria Reference Laboratory (NSSLRL). In its Annual Report for 2011, the laboratory reports a decrease in the number of cases of illness caused by a particular strain of Salmonella
which has been linked to duck eggs (S. Typhimurium DT8). Because duck eggs can occasionally contain Salmonella, they must not be eaten raw, but fully cooked until the yolk and white are solid. 

Sometimes, subtyping can actually detect outbreaks.  In 2009, the NSSLRL noticed an increase in cases of illness caused by a particular strain of S. Typhimurium (phage type DT8) and alerted public health colleagues to the possibility of an outbreak.  Over 30 cases were detected and investigations by the Outbreak Control Team pointed to the consumption of duck eggs as the source. 

In order to control the outbreak, consumers were advised not to eat raw or undercooked duck eggs and to handle them hygienically.  Also, new legislation setting down a legal basis for the control of Salmonella in ducks and duck eggs was introduced (S.I. No 565 of 2010).  This legislation requires anyone keeping ducks (even a small ‘backyard’ flock) to register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).  Also, anyone selling even small quantities of duck eggs must put in place a biosecurity plan to prevent Salmonella entering their flock and spreading.  Guidelines are available on DAFM’s website at: www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/poultry.

According to the NSSLRL, these control measures have worked.  The number of cases of human illness caused by S. Typhimurium DT8 has dropped from 28 in 2010 to nine in 2011.

Salmonella infection is a notifiable disease in Ireland.  All cases diagnosed by doctors or clinical laboratories must be notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), which manages the surveillance of infectious diseases in Ireland.  The HPSC provisionally reported 314 cases of Salmonella infection in 2011, which follows a decline in numbers of cases since a peak in 1998.

According to the NSSLRL, Salmonella Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis were the strains which caused most Salmonella illness in humans in 2011, as in previous years.   Of the 320 Salmonella isolates from patients referred to the NSSLRL in 2011, 27% were identified as S. Typhimurium and 18% as S. Enteritidis. 

Reptiles as a Source of Infection

Reptiles often carry Salmonella and can be a source of infection, especially for children.  The HPSC advises that households with children under five years of age should not keep reptiles as pets; and neither should reptiles be kept in childcare facilities such as crèches.  However, the NSSLRL is concerned that this public health message is not being heeded because reptile-associated cases in children continued to be reported in 2011.  Subtyping of isolates from a number of these cases revealed that the strain which caused illness in the child or children was the same as that carried by the household’s pet reptile.  

NSSLRL annual reports are available at:  www.nuigalway.ie/salmonella_lab/