But is it (microbiologically) safe?

Mangoes are coming into season.

Australian egg producers are flogging studies saying that eggs are OK to eat every day.

duhBut are they safe?

And the pork producers have a national 6-2-2 campaign:

Discover the secret to the perfect pork steak with our new 6-2-2 campaign.

  1. Take a 2cm pork steak (sirloin, leg, scotch fillet or medallion).
  2. Pre-heat a pan, griddle pan or BBQ plate just like you would for any other steak.
  3. Cook the pork steak on one side, without turning, for 6 minutes.
  4. Turn it over once and allow it to cook for 2 more minutes. This method will cook the steak to just white but if you prefer it cooked pink, just reduce the cooking time.
  5. Remove the steak from the pan and rest for 2 minutes. Resting allows the juices to settle and produces a more tender and juicy result.
  6. Remember the simple rule for next time: 6 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other and 2 minutes to rest = the 10 minute pork steak.

(No accounting for variations in cooking devices, just use a damn thermometer and take out the guesswork.)

All at the same time as Australia’s annual food safety week began with this year’s theme , raw and risky (sounds familiar).

The NSW Food Authority is throwing its support behind the Food Safety Information Council’s Food Safety Week 2016 that commences today Sunday 6 November, urging NSW consumers not to become one of the estimated 4.1 million people affected by food poisoning each year in Australia.

Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said the theme of this year’s Australian Food Safety Week “Raw and risky” is a timely and apt reminder that some foods carry more risk than others.

“Recent years have seen major food poisoning outbreaks linked to risky raw foods such as unpasteurised cow’s milk, raw egg dishes, bean/seed sprouts, frozen berries and lettuce,” Dr Szabo said.

Australia has an egg problem: Adelaide Hotel InterContinental edition

There are so many egg/salmonella/Australia stories in the past few years that I spent 20 min googling to see if this was a repeat.

It’s not.

According to the Daily Mail over 40 salmonellosis cases, including 9 hospitalizations have been linked to InterContinental Adelaide.raw.eggs_

A mother of three said her and her husband started showing the telltale signs of food poisoning two days after eating the contaminated food. According to the woman, Adelaide City Council and InterContinental suspect the cause to be eggs.

A South Australian Health spokesperson said authorities were ‘aware of a localised case of food poisoning in a city hotel’.
it is understood that up to 45 could have contracted the disease, but the exact number remains unconfirmed as the hotel chain and SA Health investigate the cause of the outbreak.

‘The issue I have is they (the hotel and the council) know there are 400 people out there potentially infected with salmonella and they’re not actively notifying them,’ the mother told the newspaper.

But InterContinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

Saying absolutely safe means absolutely nothing. Especially to the nine who were hospitalized.

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

Food Safety Talk 80: Literally the hummus I’m eating

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.  They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.1442690399236

The show opens with a discussion of Don’s mic stand and quickly segues into “Linda’s Famous Cigar Story”, and Ben’s annual pollen throat. After a discussion of their various ailments, Don wishes Ben an almost 37th birthday.

Ben is currently expecting a new macbook, which was discussed on Episode 116 of the Talk Show. Don shares his recent experiences looking at Apple Watch in the Apple Store, and his preference for the Milanese Loop and his new burr grinder and aeropress.

When the talk turns to food safety, Ben talks about his work with Family & Consumer Sciences in North Carolina, (called Family and Community Health Sciences at Rutgers University) and how Ben has recently changed his training practices from classroom lecture to supermarket and restaurant inspection field trips based on inspiration from Dara Bloom.

This inspires Don to talk about the work he’s doing to help documentary film makers doing a story on shelf life dating of foods especially milk. Ben shares some of the myths circulating about expired milk including this bogus article from Livestrong, and the work he’s doing on expired food and food pantries.

From there the discussion moves to other shelf life myths including the egg float or shake tests, and why they are bogus, as well as places to go for good egg information, because someone on the Internet will always be wrong.

The discussion turns to recalled hummus recall messaging and Ben’s post hockey snacking tips.

As the guys wrap up the show they briefly talk about Blue Bell ice cream and the doses of Listeria that might have made people sick and the future of food safety given the advances in molecular biology, clinical microbiology and whole genome sequencing. Ben shares some final thoughts on Salmonella in spices and how whole genome sequencing might impact that industry too.

In the brief after dark, Ben and Don talk about yoga, and getting healthy, the Turing Test, and the new Star Wars movie trailer.

Science is hard, being a celebrity isn’t: Salmonella reductions in the US

With six cases of measles linked to the University of Queensland and paleo-diet-for-babies moron Pete Evans being eviscerated by viewers, it seems like a bright time for science.

paleo.pete.evansThe boring, repetitive, peer-reviewed stuff that science is made of.

I want the bridges designed to cross the Brisbane river to function safely based on mathematics and engineering, not scientology.

Following on Chapman’s deserved put-down of state-sponsored jazz and food porn – sometimes referred to as NPR – I offer this paper about Salmonella, and the efforts required to reduce the number of sick people.

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

We 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 & Infection

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

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9916508&fileId=S0950268815001867y

 

 

Bureaucrats at work, more eggs recalled: Australia sucks at this recall-provision-of-information thing

My elderly parents arrived from Canada yesterday, and we took them out to dinner.

barfblog.Stick It InThe restaurant knows me, knows my concerns, and does not serve aioli (garlic and mayonnaise) on those occasions when I venture out because they make it with raw eggs.

Australia not only has an egg problem, it has a regulatory problem.

The company that packed those eggs involved in the Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 20 in the Gold Coast, and may be linked to 250 illnesses in Brisbane (but nobody’s talking about that) has expanded its list of recalled products because they’re dirty.

Safefood Queensland today decided to tweet, “Don’t serve raw egg foods that won’t be cooked to the elderly, small children, pregnant women & people with compromised immune systems.”

250 school principals generally don’t fall into those categories. A table of the shit fest of Australian raw egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-12-15-2.pdf. Why are consumers the critical control point in this?

raw.eggsLast week, the safefood group endorsed an infosheet from Queensland Health that said, “Make sure to cook chicken thoroughly so that there is no pink meat and the juices run clear.”

I can’t make this stuff up. Tax dollars at work.

Use pasteurized eggs. Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

Eggs should be treats not tricks

My latest for the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety.

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved introduced the world to Gonzo journalism and Hunter S. Thompson in 1970.

amy.melbourne.cup.12Forty-four years later, they’re still living the decadence at Australia’s Melbourne Cup.

In true Hunter fashion, Australian bars open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov.4, Melbourne Cup day. The entire country shuts down to watch a three-minute horse race. Women wear outrageous hats.

And people get sick.

Last year on silly-hat day, there was an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning at Melbourne Cup functions.

At least 220 people at 40 different Melbourne Cup events catered by the same Brisbane-based company, Piccalilli Catering, got sick with Salmonella. One died.

On Nov. 14, the co-owner of Piccalilli Catering released a statement via Twitter identifying her company as the responsible caterer and saying that they were deeply upset and distressed but denying responsibility, alleging that the infection was due to eggs provided by their supplier to make raw egg mayonnaise. Ms Grace denied any breakdown in her company’s quality system.

In the ensuing year, there has been no further update from Queensland Health and the initial Nov. 13 update has been erased from the Department’s website.

There’s some basic risk analysis questions here that should be answered to provide some level of confidence to Australian consumers, so I wrote the Queensland Minister of Health to ask:

powell.egg.nov.14• how did the outbreak happen;

• was this commodity sourced from a food safety accredited supplier;

• did handling by the caterer contribute to this outbreak;

• what is Queensland Health’s policy on use of raw eggs in dishes to be consumed raw;

• is this policy enforced;

• is the investigation closed and if so, why and when was it closed;

• will an outbreak investigation report be created and publicized;

• why was the previous update erased from the Department’s website and on whose authority; and,

• what is Queensland Health’s policy on providing information to the public.

It is in the best interests of both the public and the food industry that your Department respond promptly to such outbreaks demonstrating timeliness, transparency and critical detail. I have no confidence that your Department will follow through on the release of information should there be any similar outbreaks.”

In the past year, I’ve chatted with folks about the Melbourne Cup outbreak and am usually met with, oh yeah, I heard something about that. One person told me her husband was hospitalized for several days and was pissed off about the lack of public discussion.

Forget the Salmonella, it’s all about hats.

And cute tweets.

Safe Food Queensland on Oct. 16, 2014 wrote that “eggs that are cracked &/or dirty (e.g. feathers, feces) can be a source of microbes like salmonella, which if eaten can make people sick.”

egg.farmThanks for that tip.

So how did those 220 people get sick last year?

Or the 160 who got sick from a raw-egg mayonnaise at a Canberra restaurant on Mother’s Day 2014 when they just wanted to go for lunch?

Or the weekly outbreaks involving raw eggs around the world.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, in 2010, a Salmonella outbreak traced to Austin “Jack” DeCoster’s Iowa egg plants caused the recall of 550 million eggs and led to confirmed illness in nearly 2,000 people, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimated that tens of thousands of people were sickened.

Plea agreements show the company sold the tainted eggs for about eight months starting in January 2010. Documents in a lawsuit by a California food coop that sold the eggs indicate that four months elapsed between when a manager was notified by a veterinarian that Salmonella was present in three DeCoster plants and when one of those, Wright County Eggs, began a recall. And that was only after it had been contacted by the FDA about salmonella sickness in three states linked to its eggs.

Given the BS brand names, how is a consumer to know?

The vast majority of farmers can produce eggs with limited or no Salmonella. I want to buy those eggs – not the eggs marketed as cage-free or not (I don’t want chickens eating their own shit).

It can be a scary and deranged world out there. Might as well bet on the ponies.

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the original creator and do not necessarily represent that of the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety or Texas A&M University. 

You’re not a fan of washing? I’m not a fan of Salmonella; 220 sickened and Australia still has an egg problem

In Feb. 2014,  the Victorian Department of Health blamed Green Eggs for a Salmonella outbreak in Melbourne and issued a health alert for the company’s raw eggs.

garlic.aioli_-300x300-300x300At least 220 people were sickened.

Science more that soundbites is what is needed on this issue.

The loss of 70 per cent of its business forced the Great Western company to shed staff and send their eggs to Melbourne for washing.

Owner Alan Green says the saga has cost the family-owned company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We lost 70 per cent of our market in 24 hours,” he said.

“We’ve got 40 per cent of that back and we’re now working rapidly on the other 30.”

The business has 33,000 chooks, which produce eggs for restaurants in Melbourne and farmers markets across Victoria.

The Department of Health has repeatedly said it’s confident Green Eggs was linked to a salmonella outbreak at two restaruants.

The farm was initially quarantined, with the department ordering the company to wash its eggs.

The couple has since, reluctantly, purchased an egg washer.

They wash their eggs prior to grading and packaging.

“Washing can be positive because it now eliminates any bacteria on the egg whatsoever,” Mr Green said.

“If done incorrectly, then washing won’t add bacteria but it can allow bacteria to get back in.

“It won’t happen during the washing because of the chlorine level in the washing water but it can get in later if the egg isn’t treated properly after washing.

“We’ve had to do it, not wishing to do it, but having done it we’ve now endorsed it and we’re doing everything we can to not only reach that level but go beyond it.”

Mr Green says all eggs in the United States must be washed, while in the UK egg producers are banned from washing eggs.

“We’re now vaccinating all our birds, which is what’s required in Europe and England.

“…we’ll be leaders in the small production field – there’s already big operators washing eggs.

“Does that mean everyone washing? I’m not a fan of washing.”

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx.

“A little garlic to kill the germs.” Mike Tyson makes eggs on Jimmy Kimmel

Mike Tyson’s resurgence as a figure in popular culture is likely correlated with his frequent appearances on Jimmy Kimmel (my favorite one is Mike Tyson’s pigeons). Last night he was at it again and showed Jimmy how to make an omelette a scramble. Tyson includes a little food safety advice, “need a little garlic to kill the germs.”

Not sure that’s going to work for Salmonella. Probably best to cook it 145F, which just above the temperature that eggs set at.

It’s an egg problem; Salmonella spike in South Australia linked to television cooking shows? Blame the consumer

A spike in food poisoning cases has been linked to South Australians undercooking eggs at home.

The new cases have sparked warnings from health authorities to be wary of attempting techniques used on television cooking shows.

SA Health figures show 353 cases of potentially life-threatening salmonellosis have been reported throughout the state so far this year. That is about a third more than the number of cases – 267 – reported at the same time last year.

celebrity.chefsAbout 15 per cent of cases this year were hospitalised.

SA Health director of food safety and nutrition Dr Fay Jenkins said that while raw chicken and other meat can lead to salmonella poisoning, undercooked eggs were believed to be responsible for the recent increase.

“Millions of eggs are eaten each week,” she said. “It’s the exposure we have to eggs. There is nothing that has linked these cases to a restaurant or anything like that.

“We believe it is linked to the handling of eggs at home.”

Dr Jenkins warned against using such techniques as the 60/60 method of cooking eggs at a lower temperature of 60C for the longer timeframe of 60 minutes, a method featured on the inanely boring television cooking show, My Kitchen Rules.

How about cross-contamination or the ritualistic use of raw eggs in many Australian restaurants? You’ve heard it from Dr. Jenkins. It’s up to you, Australian consumers.

I habitually ask if the aioli or mayo is made at a restaurant using raw eggs, and then don’t touch it. But I don’t eat out that often anymore.

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-3-14.xlsx.

Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information

01.may.04, Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A., Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334


Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely.

During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel.

On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. 

Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

Les risques lies a la securite des aliments pendant paques

Translated by Albert Amgar

La manipulation des poussins et des canetons peut entrainer une salmonellose,
Les oeufs crus sont liés a des epidémies
Risques dus aux poussins
Le CDC a rapporté ce mois-ci que 96 cas de salmonellose ont été liés à la manipulation de poussins pendant l’été 2011.
La plupart des patients ont rapporté avoir acheté des poussins ou des canetons dans une chaîne nationale de magasins d’aliments pour animaux qui a été fournie par un seul couvoir.
Depuis 1990, 35 épidémies d’infections humaines à Salmonella liées au contact avec des volailles vivantes ont été signalées.
Le lavage des mains après la manipulation des animaux, même les plus mignons, réduit le risque de maladie. Les enfants peuvent tomber malades en touchant les oiseaux et en mettant leurs mains directement dans la bouche ou en touchant des aliments.
Risques liés aux œufs
En 2011, les desserts produits par une boulangerie de Rhode Island ont été liés à 56 cas de maladies et un décès. Le Rhode Island Department of Health a souligné la contamination croisée avec des œufs crus comme source probable de contamination.
Les pâtisseries ont également été entreposées dans des caisses où des œufs cassés avaient été mis.
Des œufs pas assez cuits ou crus ont été liés à de multiples épidémies à Salmonella, dont 22 cas de maladies en Australie au début de 2012 et plus de 200 cas de maladies au Royaume-Uni en juin 2011.
• Les œufs peuvent héberger Salmonella et ont besoin d’être cuits à 63°C pendant 15 secondes ou jusqu’à ce que le jaune soit centré pour réduire les risques.
• Les œufs crus doivent être entreposés au réfrigérateur à une température égale ou inférieure à 7°C.
• Utilisez des œufs pasteurisés dans un plat à la place d’œufs crus pour réduire les risques.
Utilisez un colorant de qualité alimentaire, si vous souhaitez colorer des œufs. Si des œufs à la coque sont utilisés pour une chasse aux œufs, il est préférable de ne pas les consommer car les coquilles peuvent se fissurer permettant aux bactéries d’entrer. Si les œufs colorés doivent être consommés, conservez-les en dessous de 5°C après les avoir fait bouillir et colorer et ne pas les laisser hors du réfrigérateur pendant plus de 4h.