‘Doesn’t have all the industrialized stuff in it’ Raw goats milk in Alaska

After we won the hockey final yesterday, several of the parents said to me or Amy, “we didn’t expect that. Our team dominated.”

goats-1-600x450We were up 6-0 before the other team knew what was happening.

On the drive home Amy said, I told them, Doug probably had a plan (which I did). I appear sorta dopey (which is easy), but do the homework and know the game.

And sometimes get lucky.

Watching the raw milk comings-and-goings is something like that.

The majority of producers invoke the gosh-shucks-raw-is-just-natural line, without adding that smallpox is also natural. And E. coli.

The regulators seem lost in this rhetorical garden, portrayed as villains, even though the are relied upon to clean up the mess when things go bad.

Victor Nelson and his wife, Tabitha, have been supplying raw milk from their dairy goats to people in Petersburg, reported KFSK-FM.

The couple raises chickens, pigs and goats on a few acres of land at Point Agassiz, an area across the sound from Petersburg. They’re the only family living out there year-round, surrounded by craggy peaks, cedar trees and glaciers.

“We started with two goats and just for raising quality milk that doesn’t have all that industrialized stuff in it and people kept asking us so we decided to buy a few more and a few more,” said Tabitha Nelson.

They have more than 30 now.

The Nelsons say people go crazy for the fresh milk — “We could never meet the whole demand for Petersburg,” said Tabitha — but there are limitations on how they can sell it.

In Alaska, you can only buy raw dairy products like the Nelsons’ unpasteurized goat milk through a herd share agreement, so the customers in Petersburg are partial owners of the goats.

Unpasteurized dairy products are heavily regulated because they’ve been known to carry disease-causing microorganisms like E. coli. In 2013, a campylobacter outbreak on the Kenai peninsula was linked to raw milk.

Family of 2005 E. coli victim Mason Jones seek new UK inquest

The family of E. coli victim Mason Jones is seeking a judicial review to determine if there should be a fresh inquest into his death.

mason-jonesFive-year-old Mason, of Deri, near Bargoed in Caerphilly county, died after contracting E. coli O157 poisoning during the 2005 South Wales outbreak, caused by rogue butcher William Tudor.

Following an inquest into his death in 2010, which brought in a neutral narrative verdict, his mother Sharon Mills vowed to “fight on for justice” for her son.

The E. coli outbreak struck 44 schools in the South Wales Valleys throughout 2005 and became the second biggest to hit the UK by the time it had run its course.

More than 150 people were infected after butcher William Tudor, the owner of John Tudor and Son, based at Bridgend Industrial Estate, supplied meat to dozens of schools and residential homes for the elderly at the time.

The public inquest in 2010 heard how Tudor put cash before hygiene for years and may have caused other food poisoning outbreaks.

It was claimed he bought cheap frozen New Zealand mutton and passed it off as prime Welsh lamb and staff who brought him rotten meat unfit for consumption were told to “mince it up” and use it in faggots.

He was jailed for one year at Cardiff Crown Court in 2007 after admitting six counts of placing unsafe food on the market and one of failing to protect food against the risk of contamination.

During the inquest into Mason’s death, Gwent Coroner, David Bowen, concluded a lack of good food hygiene standards at Tudor’s meat processing plant led to Mason’s death but said there was not enough evidence to prove he could have foreseen “a serious and obvious risk of death” and delivered a neutral narrative verdict.

Since Mason’s death in 2005, Ms Mills, has also been campaigning to improve food safety and was at the forefront of the campaign to make the display of food hygiene scores mandatory.

The judicial review will be held at the Civil and Family Justice Centre in Cardiff on Tuesday to determine whether or not another inquest should be held.

Food fraud consequences: 10-year-old died in Melbourne after drinking coconut milk as importer admits label charges

But why wasn’t the investigation and cause revealed earlier, to warn and hopefully prevent further cases. Maybe it has something to do with the legal system in Australia.

coconut.drinkMaybe it doesn’t.

A 10-year-old child died from an allergic reaction in Dec. 2013 after drinking a “natural” coconut drink imported by a Sydney firm.

The canned product from Taiwan, Greentime Natural Coconut Drink, is sold in most states and was recalled just over a month later following the tragedy. But it was never revealed that it was blamed for causing the fatal anaphylactic reaction in the child from Melbourne.

The NSW Food Authority said importer Narkena Pty Ltd, based in western Sydney, pleaded guilty in September to three labelling charges and will be sentenced later this month.

The authority said the company entered pleas of guilty to two charges that the drink was labelled in a way that falsely described the food and to one charge of selling food in a manner that contravened the Food Standards Code.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Coroner said a decision about whether there would be an inquest would be made after the other court hearings were concluded. Lawyers are understood to be pursuing a civil action against the importer.

Despite the tragedy occurring some 22 months ago, it was only in August that a suppression order was applied for in relation to the case.

The child, as a minor, cannot be named by The Sun-Herald.

The child is understood to have had an allergy to dairy products. The NSW Food Authority said at the time that the recall was because the milk content was not declared on the label.

Narkena Pty Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.

Five coconut drinks have been recalled in the last four weeks, all because they contained undeclared cow’s milk according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.

Last month, The Sun-Herald reported Aiden Henderson, nine, who is allergic to dairy products, went into anaphylactic shock after drinking the flavoured drink Coco Joy. It is also imported by a Sydney firm and was recalled after the incident.

Maria Said, president of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia said she was dismayed that although the coconut drink the child consumed immediately before the anaphylaxis that took his life was found to contain cow’s milk, it had taken almost two years for other similar products to be investigated.

“Surely someone in the food science industry would have known the cow’s milk was used for a functional purpose in coconut drink and if that was the case, it would likely be in other coconut drinks,” she said.

“Another child’s near-death experience after drinking a different coconut drink in July 2015 prompted NSW Food Authority to test other coconut drink products, some of which have now also been recalled due to undeclared cow’s milk. The spate of coconut drink-related recalls continues as it should have from Jan 2014.”


9 sick: E. coli O157 linked to venison products in Scotland

Scottish health officials have confirmed they were investigating a number of cases of E. coli O157 across the country.

hqdefaultHowever, they refused to identify which areas were affected by the outbreak or the ages of the victims although it is thought they are a mixture of adults and children.

The bacterium, which is common in deer, causes people to become ill with stomach cramps, vomiting, often bloody diarrhea and fever. It can prove fatal in some cases, especially for the elderly and young children.

The latest outbreak is linked to venison products purchased from “various outlets”, including sausages, grill steaks, steaks and meatballs which were cooked at home.

Venison has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, thanks to marketing campaigns, mentions by TV chefs and greater uptake by high-street retailers.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) said eight of the latest victims were now recovering at home while one patient remains in hospital.

Officials were unable to say whether further cases will emerge over the coming days, although the fear will be that many more people will fall ill.

Scotland’s leading expert in bacteriology, Emeritus Professor Hugh Pennington, of the University of Aberdeen, said Scotland had hundreds of cases of E. coli every year resulting in a small number of deaths, adding, “Here we go again. In the past it was the fast-food outlets that were the issue with rare burgers but now the cases are increasingly linked to home cooking.

“I think the latest outbreak which I believe is linked to venison products is carried out on the premise that all cases resulted from a single event such as a deer carcass severely riddle by E.coli which is totally invisible to the eye, but of course they have to do a lot of testing to establish the facts.”

side-of-venison1-360x360A statement on the latest cases said: “Health Protection Scotland is investigating nine confirmed cases of E.coli O157 PT32 across Scotland. These cases have all consumed various venison products including, venison sausages, grill steaks, steaks and meatballs which were raw when purchased and cooked at home.”

Dr Syed Ahmed, consultant in health protection and clinical director, stressed there were simple ways to avoid infection and added: “It is important that all deer meat should be cooked thoroughly and should not be eaten medium or rare. The risk of E.col O157 infection can be reduced by carful handwashing, especially after contact with animals, handling raw meats, after going to the toilet and immediately before preparing or eating food and by making sure that food is always properly prepared.”

Not so simple.

The advice fails to mention cooking with a thermometer – what is medium or rare? – and the risks of cross-contamination.

35 sickened at wedding in NY inked to Staphylococcus

An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness among guests at a wedding reception in Brewerton July 31 was caused by food poisoning, according to the state Health Department.

wedding.barfAbout 35 people got sick at the party at Arrowhead Lodge, an Onondaga County-owned facility at Oneida Shores Park, and at least nine of them were taken to area emergency rooms.

The health department said in an email its lab tested samples collected from sick individuals and the results came back positive for staph aureus enterotoxin infection, a type of food poisoning.

E. coli in Qatar

Escherichia coli O157:H7, non-O157 E. coli, and Campylobacter spp. are among the top-ranked pathogens that threaten the safety of food supply systems around the world.

qatar.camelThe associated risks and predisposing factors were investigated in a dynamic animal population using a repeat-cross-sectional study design.

Animal and environmental samples were collected from dairy and camel farms, chicken processing plants, and abattoirs and analyzed for the presence of these pathogens using a combination of bacterial enrichment and real-time PCR tests without culture confirmation. Data on putative risk factors were also collected and analyzed.

E. coli O157:H7 was detected by PCR at higher levels in sheep and camel feces than in cattle feces (odds ratios [OR], 6.8 and 21.1, respectively). Although the genes indicating E. coli O157:H7 were detected at a relatively higher rate (4.3%) in fecal samples from dairy cattle, they were less common in milk and udder swabs from the same animals (1 and 2%, respectively).

Among the food adulterants, E. coli O103 was more common in cattle fecal samples, whereas O26 was more common in sheep feces and O45 in camel feces compared with cattle (OR, 2.6 and 3.1, respectively). The occurrence of E. coli in the targeted populations differed by the type of sample and season of the year.

Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli were more common in sheep and camel feces than in cattle feces. Most of the survey and surveillance of E. coli focused on serogroup O157 as a potential foodborne hazard; however, based on the PCR results, non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing E. coli serotypes appeared to be more common, and efforts should be made to include them in food safety programs.

 Risk of Escherichia coli O157:H7, non-O157 shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter spp. in food animals and their products in Qatar

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 10, October 2015, pp. 1776-1924, pp. 1812-1818(7)

Mohammed, Hussni O.; Stipetic, Korana; Salem, Ahmed; McDonough, Patrick; Chang, Yung Fu; Sultan, Ali


No testing, but an A+ on audits: Lenient sentences for ex-peanut officials in Salmonella outbreak

USA Today reports that two ex-officials of Peanut Corporation of America drew lenient sentences Thursday for their self-admitted roles in a Salmonella outbreak blamed for killing nine and sickening hundreds.

AIB.audit.eggsGeorgia U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands sentenced Samuel Lightsey, 50, a former operations manager at the peanut firm’s Blakely, Ga. plant, to serve three years in prison. Daniel Kilgore, 46, another ex-manager at the plant, drew a six-year sentence from the judge.

Sands allowed them to remain free, pending voluntary surrender after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons designates the correctional facilities where they will serve their sentences.

Both reached plea agreements with prosecutors that limited their punishment when they pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, along with sale of misbranded and adulterated food.

They later testified as government witnesses during the 2014 federal trial that ended with criminal convictions of ex-Peanut corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two other former top executives.

The case stemmed from findings by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that traced a national salmonella outbreak to the Parnell firm’s peanut roasting plant in Blakely. The incident sickened 714 people in 46 states and may have contributed to nine deaths, the CDC reported.

The illnesses erupted in January 2009 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

Parnell, 61, was sentenced to a virtual life term — 28 years behind bars — on Sept. 21. His brother, Michael Parnell, received a 20-year term, and former quality control manager Mary Wilkerson, drew a five-year sentence.

Sands ordered the Parnell brothers to surrender immediately, denying defense arguments that they should be permitted to remain free on bond pending appeals of their convictions.

Government evidence presented at the trial established that Lightsey and Kilgore knowingly helped the top executives fabricate certificates of analysis in a scheme that falsely showed peanut butter from the Blakely plant was free of Salmonella and other pathogens. In fact, there had been no testing of the product, or tests had confirmed contamination, prosecutors showed.

Camera system detects foodborne toxin

Chemist Reuven Rasooly and his colleagues at the Agricultural Research Service’s Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) in Albany, California, have developed a simple and inexpensive system for detecting biologically active Shiga toxin, a product of pathogenic Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7. It is estimated that E. coli O157:H7 causes 73,000 cases of food poisoning and more than 60 deaths in the United States each year.

e.coli.O157.usda.detectThe new system involves the use of a camera and a light-emitting source to biologically determine active toxin. Affordable, sensitive devices like this are needed to reduce the sources and incidence of foodborne illness, says Rasooly, who works in WRRC’s Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research Unit. Current immunological tests, such as the ELISA, cannot distinguish between the active and inactive form of Shiga toxin.

“For example, in food processing, a heat-treatment method inactivates the toxin, but the ELISA cannot tell whether the toxin is active or inactive in the processed food,” Rasooly says. “Determining the activity of the toxin is very important, because the active form poses a threat to humans. The inactive form is nontoxic.”

Technology used to detect Shiga toxin and other pathogens is expensive and not a concern for resource-rich countries, he says. But equipment is typically too costly for developing countries, where the risk of foodborne illness and outbreaks is greatest. The camera system makes it easy and affordable for diagnostic labs that cannot afford a fluorometer, which is typically used to detect toxins.

“We demonstrated that our system is effective in measuring Shiga toxin activity compared with equipment costing 100 times more,” Rasooly says. “Afluorometer costs about $35,000, whereas the camera in this experiment costs $300.”

In the study, scientists constructed a fluorescence detection system using a camera and light source to measure GFP (green fluorescent protein) in a cell-based assay. A portion of a Shiga toxin-containing food sample was incubated with cells designed to produce GFP. The toxin in the sample inhibited the synthesis of GFP—reducing GFP production in relation to the amount of toxin present. The greater the toxicity, the less fluorescent the cells were.

Filters used with the light source and camera blocked wavelengths (signals) that would interfere with precise measurements of fluorescence. “We obtained these signal levels by taking a picture with a camera and analyzing the image with a free, available computer software that determines average pixel intensity,” Rasooly says.

The camera method, which can easily be adapted for detecting other foodborne toxins,was compared to a commercial fluorometer for detecting active Shiga toxin, Rasooly adds. Both instruments had the same level of toxin detection.

Ice fingered but epi can be ‘squishy’ 61 sickened by Norovirus at journalists’ conference

Two months after a norovirus outbreak at Bali Hai restaurant, county health officials have fingered ice as the foodborne source that sickened at least 61 people — including three in a wedding party.

norovirus-2“We’re certain it had something to do with the ice” served at the annual awards banquet of the local Society of Professional Journalists, said county spokesman Michael Workman. “We’re not certain how it got in the ice.”

In its final report to the San Diego SPJ, the county said 84 of the 172 people at the July 29 banquet returned surveys on what they ate and other issues. Fifty were sickened by norovirus type GI.1. (Eight others also reported getting ill.)

Three diners elsewhere in Bali Hai also got GI.1 — part of a wedding party of 140.

“We have to [classify it as] food poisoning,” Workman said, rather than a sick person spreading the gastrointestinal disease.

A Sept. 4 report said, “We did not link any food service workers with the illness,” but Workman on Tuesday told Times of San Diego that “we can’t say yes or no” to whether an employee caused the outbreak.

Workman stressed that Bali Hai remains “rated for high” for hygiene. “Everyone involved — from the people who attended [the banquet] and from the restaurant … did the right thing.”

County spokesman Workman saluted Bali Hai management.

“The restaurant had a great hygiene procedure, really good,” he said. “They are on the up-and-up on what they do and what they teach their employees. The employees have been there a long time. So they get it.”

But Workman acknowleged the county’s findings can be “squishy” and “it’s not an exact science.”

But: “We’re confident it’s been taken care of.”

‘I believe it happened at slaughter’ and other delusions: 9 sickened with E. coli from Worthy Burgers in Vermont, STEC found in unopened beef

Vermont health inspectors found the DNA of Shiga toxin in unopened packaged beef at a South Royalton restaurant and believe that undercooked hamburgers at Worthy Burger were the source of an E. coli contamination that sickened several people in late summer, a Vermont health official said Tuesday.

happy.cowsBradley Tompkins, a health surveillance epidemiologist with the Department of Health, also said two more cases of E. coli have been linked to people who dined at the restaurant, and that there now are six confirmed and three probable cases of E. coli in the Vermont outbreak. All have recovered, although to varying degrees, he said.

Tompkins said eight of the nine diners ate ground beef at Worthy Burger between the end of August and the middle of September, when investigators with the Vermont Department of Health inspected the restaurant, recommended some changes, and took some beef and lettuce, which is served on the hamburgers, to test.

The lettuce tested negative — “we do not believe lettuce played a role in this outbreak,” Tompkins said — but the health department found the DNA for Shiga toxin in the ground beef.

When they tried to grow the E. coli in the lab, however, it came out to be a slightly different strain than the one found in the patients from Vermont. Still, Tompkins said, the department believes the beef is to blame.

“It’s certainly not conclusive that it did come from the ground beef, (but) based on the interviews that were done with the patients and that we found the E. coli and the Shiga toxins … we do believe the outbreak was caused by the ground beef that was being undercooked from the restaurant,” Tompkins said.

Asked which farm the beef came from and where it was slaughtered and packaged — Worthy Burger relies on local suppliers for its grass-fed beef and other food — Tompkins referred a reporter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which oversees slaughterhouses.

USDA spokeswoman Gabrielle Johnston said “there’s still debate whether it’s actually been linked to the beef” and said the matter is “still under investigation.”

Aaron Lavallee, another USDA spokesman who was on the same phone line with Johnston, said the agency was not at a point where it would name which slaughterhouses are being investigated, but said officials are “trying to trace this back all the way to the slaughter facility.”

cow.poop.spinachWorthy Burger’s Executive Chef Jason Merrill said on Tuesday the beef that was tested was taken from the restaurant’s walk-in cold storage in its original packaging from a Vermont slaughterhouse, leading him to suggest the contamination could have occurred at what he called a “USDA-inspected plant.”

“The samples they took from us were in a receiving walk-in, and we hadn’t even touched it,” he said.

“I believe the beef was OK (at the farm), and when it got to the slaughterhouse, that’s when the infection happened,” Merrill said.