And so it goes: at least 6 sick from Salmonella in frozen chicken thingies in Minn

State health and agriculture officials said today that six recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees. The implicated product is Antioch Farms brand A La Kiev raw stuffed chicken breast with a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamped cFunkyChickenHiode of P-1358. This product is sold at many different grocery store chains. Investigators from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) determined that six cases of Salmonella infection from August and September 2014 were due to the same strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. One person was hospitalized for their illness. “Our DNA fingerprinting found that the individuals were sickened by the same strain of Salmonella,” said Dr. Carlota Medus, epidemiologist for the Foodborne Diseases Unit at MDH. “The Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected samples of the same type of product from grocery stores and the outbreak strain of Salmonella was found in packages of this product.” There have been six outbreaks of salmonellosis in Minnesota linked to these types of products from 1998 through 2008. This is the first outbreak since improvements were made in 2008 to the labeling of these products. The current labels clearly state that the product is raw.  Salmonella is sometimes present in raw chicken, which is why it is important for consumers to follow safe food-handling practices. This includes cooking all raw poultry products to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. “The problem arises when consumers don’t realize that they are handling and preparing a raw product,” according to Dr. Carrie Rigdon, an investigator for the MDA Dairy and Food Inspection Division. MDA and MDH officials advised that consumers with these products in their freezers, if they choose to use them, should cook them thoroughly. Other important food handling practices include hand washing before and after handling raw meat, keeping raw and cooked foods separate to avoid cross-contamination, and placing cooked meat on a clean plate or platter before serving. Consumers can find more information about safe food-handling practices on the MDH website at: www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety. Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days, but approximately 20 percent of cases require hospitalization. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.

Direct video observation of adults and tweens cooking raw frozen chicken thingies 01.nov.09
 British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929 
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820
 Abstract:
 Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
 Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior. chicken.thingies.raw.cook
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors. 
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Chef at New Jersey restaurant who spit into patron’s food fired

A chef at Kennedy’s Pub who allegedly spit into a meal that a man sent back for additional cooking was fired immediately after the incident occurred, according to a report.

goodfellasMount Olive police responded to the Route 46 restaurant on Sunday evening after an employee contacted authorities to report that 32-year-old John Stagg spat onto a patron’s dinner the prior night.

He was charged with tampering with a food or drug product, as well as disorderly conduct, and released with a court date. The customer, a 51-year-old Lake Hopactong man, was contacted by police and notified of what happened to his food, police said.

Stagg was terminated after authorities’ investigation confirmed he’d spat in the meal, according to the Daily Record. 

Wash hands, sick (and non-sick?) workers stay home: 278 sickened in Norovirus outbreak at Shanghai boarding school, 2012

Researchers conclude in BMC Public Health that this Norovirus outbreak could be limited by good hygiene, daily disinfection and “excluding asymptomatic food handlers from food preparation.”

NorochickI’m not sure how that would work, but based on fecal swabs, nine were Norovirus-positive in asymptomatic food preparers.

Here’s the abstract:

More than 200 students and teachers at a boarding school in Shanghai developed acute gastroenteritis in December, 2012. The transmission mode remained largely unknown.
An immediate epidemiological investigation was conducted to identify it.

Methods: Using a retrospective cohort design, we investigated demographic characteristics, school environment, and previous contacts with people who had diarrhea and/or vomiting, drinking water conditions, recalls of food consumption in the school cafeteria, hand-washing habits and eating habits. Rectal swabs of the new cases and food handlers as well as water and food samples were collected to test potential bacteria and viruses. Norovirus was detected by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Results: A total of 278 cases developed gastrointestinal symptoms in this outbreak, and the overall attack rate was 13.9%. The main symptoms included vomiting (50.0%), abdominal cramps (40.3%), nausea (27.0%), diarrhea (6.8%) and fever (6.8%).
Twenty rectal swab samples were detected as Norovirus-positive, including 11 from student cases and 9 from asymptomatic food handlers (non-cases). Among environmental surface samples from the kitchen, 8 samples were also detected as Norovirus-positive.
The genotypes of viral strains were the same (GII) in patients, asymptomatic food handlers and environmental surfaces. Other samples, including rectal swabs, water samples and food samples were negative for any bacteria and other tested viruses.
Asymptomatic food handlers may have contaminated the cooked food during the food preparation.

Conclusion: The study detected that the outbreak was caused by Norovirus and should be controlled by thorough disinfection and excluding asymptomatic food handlers from food preparation. Early identification of the predominant mode of transmission in this outbreak was necessary to prevent new cases.
Furthermore, good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and efficient daily disinfection should be promoted to prevent such infection and outbreaks.

Author: Caoyi XueYifei FuWeiping ZhuYi FeiLinying ZhuHong ZhangLifeng PanHongmei XuYong WangWenqin WangQiao Sun

Credits/Source: BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1092

More demand for restaurant inspection info

From San Jose to South Australia, locals are adopting restaurant inspection disclosure or grading programs to inform diners of recent ratings.

scores_doors_featureBeginning in Jan. 2016, San Jose restaurants will adopt the Toronto-like green-yellow-red display system.

In the state of South Australia (that’s where Adelaide is) 10 local Councils have signed up to a voluntary Scores on Doors Pilot Program that will test a new Food Safety Rating scheme for cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Director of Food Safety and Nutrition at SA Health, Fay Jenkins said food safety rating schemes were used all over the world to help consumers make informed choices about where they decided to buy their food.

“Customers have a right to know that the food they buy has been stored in a clean, safe environment and prepared by people with the appropriate food handling skills,” Dr Jenkins said.

“South Australian businesses can start displaying a star rating, calculated using the results of their routine food safety inspection undertaken by local Councils throughout the pilot program,” she said.

“Encouraging businesses to display their star rating aims to improve standards in the food service industry and will also help to improve public health by reducing the risk of food poisoning.”

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009.

The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.

Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

Abstract

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks larry.the_.cable_.guy_.health.inspector-213x300and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

Salmonella in sprouts sparks Organic Traditions brand sprouted flax seed powder recalled due to Salmonella

Sprouts, especially the organic kind, you never fail – fail to initiate recalls.

organic.sprouts.recall.cdnAdvantage Health Matters is recalling Organic Traditions brand Sprouted Flax Seed Powder from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Organic Traditions Sprouted Flax Seed Powder 227 g BIO13SGF291 8 54260 00626 1
Organic Traditions Sprouted Flax Seed Powder 454 g BIO13SGF291 8 54260 00553 0

This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products (not yet).

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-8-1-14.xlsx.

(This is also satire) Terrorists threaten to attack UK by washing uncooked chicken

The terror threat level to the UK has been raised to the highest level since the Iraq war after suspicions grew that terrorists might have been reading all the recent articles about the deadly peril of washing uncooked chicken.

veryRawChickenIt is now known that washing raw chicken releases tiny water droplets filled with extreme poison into your kitchen, killing you and all your family instantly. Until this fact was established by government scientists, there was no explanation for the mysterious spate of deaths affecting everyone in the country who cooked chicken.

“Raw chicken washing-related deaths were running at approximately five million per year, in London alone,” explained chief government medical officer Brian Panic. “We’d always wondered why this might be, but no-one had ever put two and two together, despite the obvious presence of freshly washed chicken fillets near all the bodies.”

“The raw material isn’t a problem in itself, if safely handled until cooked right through,” (piping hot) he explained. “But the combination of uncooked poultry and washing has the potential to destroy civilization, and I’m not exaggerating.”

“Now this has become widely known, if would be simple for a terrorist organization, perhaps using chefs, to wash chicken in the major metropolitan centers, with potentially devastating effects.”

“This could be the most severe threat since terrorists learned to secretly not turn off their Kindles during take-off and landing.”

After a meeting of COBRA, the government’s emergency response and cookery committee, the military are guarding all airports close to branches of Tesco and Sainsbury’s and are monitoring suspects’ water usage for potential chicken-related spikes.

There was an unfortunate incident in Dunstable this morning when an armed response team shot dead a suspected sous-chef who turned out to be merely rinsing a nice piece of sea bass, but a government spokesman pointed out that this is the price of freedom.

Police are asking anyone with the smallest Campylobacter-contaminated nugget of information should come forward immediately for rapid grilling.

Thanks to my Scottish food safety friend for sending along this bit.

Chili’s restaurant cook fired for shirtless kitchen selfies in Florida

One of my favorite food writers, Tina Nguyen, reports for Mediate, that a Chili’s line cook in Florida was fired this week after photos emerged of him taking shirtless photos in a restaurant, and no, we didn’t make this story up by pulling “Dumb American Stereotypes” out of a hat.

hey.now.hankThe photos went viral after Justin Speekz (actually his real name) decided to put them on Facebook, in which he poses next to a grill and lying down on a food prep surface, in an album called “Sexy Cooks of Chili’s”.

“Chili’s clearly does not encourage this type of behavior in our restaurants. We maintain very high standards of food quality, safety and cleanliness and took immediate steps to ensure the restaurant continues to follow these requirements,” Chili’s said in a statement to ABC Action News.

 

One child dead, 2 sick from E. coli in Oregon E. coli; parents desperate for answers ask was it a goat named Cathy?

The parents of a Lincoln County girl, Serena Profitt, who died last month of shiga-toxin producing E. coli, say public health officials suspect the 4-year-old was infected by droppings from the family’s goat.

goat.poop.oct.14But Rachel Profitt told The Oregonian lab tests have not been conclusive and the investigation continues into the death of her daughter Serena.

Proffit says Lincoln County health officials advised the family to euthanize the goat, a family pet named Cathy. They are reluctant. It’s now corralled away from people.

A 5-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl from surroundings areas have also been infected and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Health officials say they’re still investigating the cause of the three kids’ E. coli infections.

We’re all hosts on a viral planet: Scientists unlock exact structure of Hepatitis A

That was barroom discussion in graduate school 30 years ago, but not all hosts die because then there’d be no where for the viruses to have babies..

hep.a.infographicHeady stuff.

Scientists have announced that for the first time, they have determined the precise atomic structure of the Hepatitis A virus. In an unprecedented step forward, a team of scientists from Beijing and Oxford have been able to map the exact construction of Hepatitis A, down to the individual atoms. This new finding is a considerable advance for research into Hep A, one of the most resilient and difficult to control viruses and more broadly for our understanding of the virus world. The findings are published today, in the publication Nature.

Despite an existing vaccine, Hep A continues to infect 1.4 million people every year. It causes infection of the liver and symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting, yellow skin, fever, and abdominal pain. These findings are particularly significant due to the unique qualities of the virus. Hep A is particularly hardy unlike other viruses in the picornavirus family, which includes polio and the common cold. Hep A is able to withstand remarkably high temperatures and remain stable in hostile environments, making it difficult to control infection. It also has a unique, enveloped form, allowing it to shroud itself in the host membrane, making it harder for the body’s immune system to detect.

This discovery is ground-breaking in terms of what it reveals about the history and evolution of viruses. The findings suggest that Hep A may be the evolutionary ‘missing link’ between picornaviruses, which infect humans and animals, and some insect viruses.

By scrutinising the atomic structure of the virus, the team from the University of Oxford identified that Hep A possesses characteristics of both ancient insect viruses and modern human viruses such as polio. The methods by which it infects host cells, the very limited range of cells in which it thrives and the sheer stability of Hepatitis A all point towards it having somehow become stuck along the evolutionary trail. Where other viruses in the same picornavirus family developed into the structures we know today, Hepatitis A has remained forever frozen between the old and the new.

Hep A has proved difficult to study in the past. Using the advanced X-ray techniques at the UK’s synchrotron science facility, Diamond Light Source, scientists were able to study the virgech_0001_0002_0_img0129us at an atomic level. Diamond Light Source, is the UK’s national synchrotron, a giant x-ray machine the size of Wembley Stadium. It is the largest science machine the UK has ever built and produces a light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. 3,500 scientists and industry users from the UK and across the world, visit the synchrotron every year, to carry out cutting-edge scientific research.

Viruses are some of the oldest and most pervasive elements of the natural world. There are more viruses on Earth than all bacteria, plant and animal life combined, and they can evolve much faster than any living thing. Because they are so diverse and develop so quickly, it can be difficult to work out how they are related and how they evolved. Scientists know enough to group similar viruses into different families, but the question of their history and how these families came to exist in their current form has been very difficult to unravel.

Recent advances in technology have allowed scientists to look more closely at the structures of challenging viruses. Upgrades to facilities for analysing viruses at the Diamond synchrotron – which produces powerful X-ray light for scientists to use in their research – make it easier for whole viruses to be scrutinised in minute detail. Using Diamond’s crystallography ‘beamlines’ the group has uncovered vital new insights into how viruses have evolved.

Dave Stuart, Professor of Structural Biology at Oxford University and Head of Life Sciences for Diamond Light Source led the research into Hepatitis A. He points out exactly why these findings are so significant: “Viruses are too small and fragile to leave a fossil record, and change so quickly that many people would despair of piecing together the story of their evolution, so it is wonderful to see that their intricate details show mechanisms that form missing links between different families.”

The message is clear: the more we know about virus history and relationships, the more prepared we are to tackle viruses that pose a serious threat now and in the future; that’s why it’s so important to understand the fundamental atomic processes required for a virus to replicate and survive. This underpinning knowledge is the groundwork for the next stage, the production of improved vaccines and effective anti-viral drugs. Using advanced new technology such as Diamond, scientists are able to unpick the mysteries of even the most enigmatic viruses, atom by atom.

The findings are published today in the publication Nature. The paper is entitled ‘Hepatitis A virus and the origins of picornaviruses’.

Blame it on the (chicken) juice — enhances surface attachment and biofilm formation of Campylobacter

We were having dinner with friends Sunday night, and they do a Chinese-style cooking that is light and yummy, but I noticed a lot of cross-contamination going on during the prep (can someone please come up with a better name than cross-contaminaion, and more succinct than, dangerous bugs move around a lot).

icarly.chicken.cell.handsThe patron said, that’s why you cook it, and I said, just cook it doesn’t cut it, and explained why.

We may never be invited for dinner again.

The next day (another school holiday) the two 5-years-olds were with me for a few hours, so after a couple of hours at the park, I decided we would make two cakes — one gluten/dairy free, one traditional.

I don’t like cake but it is a part of my spring ritual of getting rid of spices that have accumulated for six years and, like Ikea furniture, crap that looked good at the store but awful at home.

The girls became involved in an extended discussion of Salmonella, eggs and cross-contamination.

They enjoyed the cake.

Brown et al. published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology that the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is primarily transmitted via the consumption of contaminated foodstuffs, especially poultry meat. In food processing environments, C. jejuni is required to survive a multitude of stresses and requires the use of specific survival mechanisms, such as biofilms. An initial step in biofilm formation is bacterial attachment to a surface.

Here, we investigated the effects of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) on C. jejuni surface attachment and biofilm formation. Supplementation of brucella broth with ≥5% chicken juice resulted in increased biofilm formation on glass, polystyrene, and stainless steel surfaces with four C. jejuni isolates and one C. coli isolate in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions. When incubated with chicken juice, C. jejuni was both able to grow and form biofilms in static cultures in aerobic conditions. Electron microscopy showed that C. jejuni cells were associated with chicken juice particulates attached to the abiotic surface rather than the surface itself.

sorenne.doug.usa.today.jun.11This suggests that chicken juice contributes to C. jejuni biofilm formation by covering and conditioning the abiotic surface and is a source of nutrients. Chicken juice was able to complement the reduction in biofilm formation of an aflagellated mutant of C. jejuni, indicating that chicken juice may support food chain transmission of isolates with lowered motility. We provide here a useful model for studying the interaction of C. jejuni biofilms in food chain-relevant conditions and also show a possible mechanism for C. jejuni cell attachment and biofilm initiation on abiotic surfaces within the food chain.

Helen L. Brown, Mark Reuter, Louise J. Salt, Kathryn L. Cross, Roy P. Betts, and Arnoud H. M. van Vliet

http://aem.asm.org/content/80/22/7053.abstract?etocjejuni