Recall: Apples and goat milk may not mix

This is a little old, but I’m playing catch-up.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers not to eat goat cheese products manufactured by Apple Tree Goat Dairy of Richfield, Penn. (Apple Tree), because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

apple-tree-goat-dairyApple Tree manufactures pasteurized and 60-day aged, semi-soft, and hard goat cheeses under the Apple Tree Goat Dairy brand. The products were sold in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey through Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, West End Farmers Market in Alexandria, Va., Ambler (Penn.) Farmers Market, and Doylestown (Penn.) Farmers Market.

On September 12, 2016, FDA began its inspection of Apple Tree’s manufacturing facility in Richfield, PA. In addition to observing poor sanitation practices, FDA took environmental samples that identified Listeria monocytogenes in 18 environmental samples from Apple Tree’s processing, packaging, and storage areas, including food-contact surfaces such as a cheese slicer, cheese mold, tables, and plates used to hold cheese before packaging. FDA also tested Apple Tree’s goat cheese. Two of the finished goat cheeses and 18 of the environmental samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

On September 20, 2016, Apple Tree initiated a voluntary recall of the four lots of goat cheeses that PDA tested and found positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Later in September, Apple Tree expanded its recall to include all of its goat cheeses, but FDA is not aware of any public notification to consumers announcing the expanded recall. Accordingly, FDA is issuing this release and working with PDA to monitor this situation and take appropriate actions to protect consumers from Apple Tree goat cheeses that may have been exposed to or contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Although no illnesses have been reported to date in association with Apple Tree’s goat cheeses, Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening infection called listeriosis.

Schnapps, herring and Listeria

To continue with the Danish theme, Royal Seafood Baza, Inc. of Staten, Island, New York is recalling various refrigerated ready to eat herring productsdelicious with Danish schnapps and that’s about it — because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

schapps-denmarkThe affected ready to eat herring products were distributed to customers located New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and North Carolina. Wholesale customers of bulk containers must discontinue sales of existing stock of these items immediately and destroy any returned product as soon as possible.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall of the products was the result of environmental sampling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during an inspection of the firm which revealed the presence of Listeria in the plant.  The company has ceased production and distribution of the products and is working closely with FDA to monitor this situation to determine the source of the environmental contamination, and make the appropriate corrective actions.

listeria-herring-16

 

Marketing food safety: Denmark, schnapps and Salmonella

I’ve been a long-time proponent that those farmers, processors and retailers that are really good at microbial food safety should be able to market such evidence directly to consumers.

salm-free-chicken-denmarkThis has nothing to do with food safety being a non-competitive issue, or whatever else industry types claim: It has everything to do with providing a market-based incentive for those in the farm-to-fork food safety system to brag about what they do.

There are good actors, there are bad actors: if trade associations were really concerned about their customers barfing, they’d stop saying everyone cares about food safety and support efforts to make such information readily available at retail.

But such microbiologically-safe claims are only valid with publicly available data: And there’s no such thing as no risk – or no Salmonella.

As that foodborne Salmonella infections in Denmark reached a historic low, some Danish processors are, according to Steve Sayer of Meatingplace.com, claiming on labels their chicken is Salmonalla-free.

Right, is a retail package containing raw skinless/boneless chicken that was recently purchased in Denmark (DK) Europe.

The labeling on the package is claiming to Danish consumers (where there’s an orange drawing of a chicken within a round circle): “Dansk Salmonelllafri Kylling,” when translated means – “Danish salmonella-free chicken.”

The DK packer is Rose Packing that claims their chicken is “salmonella free” on their website.

The long and winding road that the Danes labored to lowering salmonella within their hatcheries, layer hens, broiler chickens and eggs are impressive.

In 2015 a total of 925 salmonella infections were reported among Danes, which is equivalent to 16.2 infected cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This is the lowest number of salmonella infections since 1988, which is the first year from which researchers at the National Food Institute have used data to map the sources of foodborne salmonella infections.

2015 is also the first year since the introduction of the salmonella source account that Danish eggs have not caused illness. There have also been no registered cases of infection due to Danish chicken meat, which has been the case in four of the previous five years.

“The good results regarding Danish eggs and poultry are very encouraging. However, salmonella still constitutes a risk. Therefore it is important to maintain the preventive measures that researchers, governments and industry have jointly implemented over the years to ensure that salmonella is kept out of Danish products,” Senior Scientific Officer Birgitte Helwigh from the National Food Institute says.

Campylobacter continued to be the cause of most of the registered foodborne infections in Denmark in 2015 with 4,348 cases of illness. This represents a 15% increase from 2014 and is the highest number of cases ever recorded.

denmark-chickenImprovements in the reporting system and changes in diagnostic methods mean that more cases of illness are registered than in the past. Therefore it is unclear whether more people actually got a campylobacter infection in 2015 compared to previous years.

In 2015, only 39 foodborne disease outbreaks have been registered. This is the lowest number of outbreaks since a nationwide database for food and waterborne disease outbreaks was established almost ten years ago. A total of 1,233 people have become sick in connection with the 39 outbreaks.

As in previous year norovirus was the leading cause of outbreaks (42%).

3 sick with botulism in Spain and Germany linked to dried salted fish

Two cases of botulism in the province of Alicante and another in Germany linked to a brand of dried salted fish produced in The Netherlands has led to it being withdrawn from sale in various parts of Spain.

dried-roach-fish-salted-hanged-log-wall-drying-50980748Salted roach (rutilus rutilus, known in Spanish and branded as such in supermarkets asrutilo), stocked in refrigeration cabinets and bearing the identification number NL-6114-EG, distributed by Monolith Alimentos España Sur (in Valencia) and Norte (in Catalunya) has been taken off the shelves after two consumers in the province of Alicante reported having been apparently affected by the bug.

Both showed ‘very similar symptoms’, although it has yet to be confirmed whether they caught botulism from eating dried roach.

All supermarkets and delicatessens in the towns of Dénia, Altea, La Nucia, Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Alicante city have taken it off the shelves, as have those in the province of Castellón, Gandia (Valencia province) and Valencia city.

In Catalunya, shops in Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell (Barcelona province), Salou (Tarragona province) and Lleida have withdrawn it from sale.

The Spanish Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, says it has received a European alert after a case of botulism in Germany thought to have been caused by the same product.

Listeria positive: Bakkavor Foods USA voluntary recalls certain hummus products

Bakkavor Foods USA, Inc. is voluntarily recalling Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus (SKU #90642) and Trader Joe’s White Bean & Basil Hummus (SKU #91107) with “USE BY” date codes up through and including 12/15/2016, because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

trader-joes-hummusThe products come in 16 ounce plastic tubs with SKU numbers printed on the top labels and “USE BY” date codes stamped on the bottom of the tubs, along with the plant identification code “C”. To clarify, products with plant identification code “J” were produced in a different facility and are NOT affected by this recall. In addition, Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus Snack Pack with Pita Chips (SKU #97136) is NOT part of this recall.

To date there have been no confirmed illnesses.

The potential for contamination was noted after testing by the company revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in product manufactured on the same equipment. The company subsequently identified the source of the issue and has corrected the matter. All potentially affected products have been removed from store shelves and destroyed.

Vaccines work: Backpacker, 25, left bedridden in Vietnam after sampling iced coffee

Sinead MacLaughlin of the Daily Mail reports a simple sip from an iced coffee containing contaminated ice cubes left one backpacker bed-ridden in excruciating pain while on holiday.

ice-vietnam-sophiaInstead of seeing the stunning sights of Vietnam and lying on the beach with her friends, Sophia Brockman, 25, spent half of her holiday lying in the fetal position in bed.

‘We knew we weren’t supposed to be drinking the iced drinks but we wanted to have cocktails and try the ice coffee and street food that South-East Asia is famous for’, she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

‘I would totally say that we had a YOLO [you only live once] attitude during this trip,’ Ms Brockman said. 

The Sydney ex-pat, originally from the US, was forced to spend $300 on antibiotics after coming down with severe food poisoning from the tainted coffee.

But despite the serious pain she was in, the 25-year-old says it could have been a lot worse considering she wasn’t vaccinated before the trip.  

A survey of 1004 travelers by pharmaceutical company Sanofi found that Australians often take unnecessary risks when it comes to their safety by eating street vendors food and sleeping outdoors.

One-third prioritised travel insurance over vaccinations.

‘It’s quite common for travelers to think they’re safe if they’ve traveled to the destination before, or that travel insurance is enough protection and vaccinations aren’t needed,’ travel health specialist Dr Sarah Chu told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

‘But I can assure you the risk of falling sick is very real and can happen to anyone.’ 

 

Low incidence of TSEs in the EU, says EFSA

EFSA has published its first EU summary report on the monitoring of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in cattle, sheep and goats. Previously, the annual reports on TSEs were compiled by the European Commission.

TSEs are a group of diseases that affect the brain and nervous system of humans and animals.  With the exception of Classical BSE, there is no scientific evidence that other TSEs can be transmitted to humans.

mad-cows-mothers-milkA low number of BSE cases in cattle were detected in EU Member States, none of which entered the food chain.

Some of the main findings of the report are:

Five cases of BSE in cattle have been reported in the EU, out of about 1.4 million animals tested.

641 cases of scrapie in sheep (out of 319,638 tested) and 1,052 in goats have been reported (out of 135,857 tested) in the EU.

This report provides results on data collected by all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland for 2015 on the occurrence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Surely you can’t be cereus: Pay attention to temperature control, esp when cooking for large numbers

The aim of this study was to identify and characterise Bacillus cereus from a unique national collection of 564 strains associated with 140 strong-evidence food-borne outbreaks (FBOs) occurring in France during 2007 to 2014.

surely-you-cant-be-seriousStarchy food and vegetables were the most frequent food vehicles identified; 747 of 911 human cases occurred in institutional catering contexts. Incubation period was significantly shorter for emetic strains compared with diarrhoeal strains.

A sub-panel of 149 strains strictly associated to 74 FBOs and selected on Coliphage M13-PCR pattern, was studied for detection of the genes encoding cereulide, diarrhoeic toxins (Nhe, Hbl, CytK1 and CytK2) and haemolysin (HlyII), as well as panC phylogenetic classification. This clustered the strains into 12 genetic signatures (GSs) highlighting the virulence potential of each strain. GS1 (nhe genes only) and GS2 (nhe, hbl and cytK2), were the most prevalent GS and may have a large impact on human health as they were present in 28% and 31% of FBOs, respectively.

Our study provides a convenient molecular scheme for characterisation of B. cereus strains responsible for FBOs in order to improve the monitoring and investigation of B. cereus-induced FBOs, assess emerging clusters and diversity of strains.

Baccillus cereus-induced food-borne outbreaks in France, 2007 to 2014: Epidemiology and genetic characteristics

Eurosurveillance, Vol 21, Issue 48, 01 December 2016

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22657

Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK restaurant critic Oliver Peyton’s bar ‘covered with mouse droppings’

Dave Burke of the Daily Mail reports a kitchen in an upmarket Westminster bar owned by restaurant critic Oliver Peyton’s company was covered in mouse droppings, a court has heard.

oliver-peytonThe plush ICA Bar was owned by Peyton & Byrne Ltd, a firm co-owned by Irish restaurateur Oliver Peyton, who is a judge on BBC show Great British Menu.

The company has since gone bust. 

Inspectors discovered mouse droppings inside food storage containers and a sandwich sealing machine, Westminster Magistrates Court heard.

And they found that rodents were trying to nest under the sink by chewing up paper hand towels, prosecutors claim.

The court was told mouse droppings were discovered on a tray where ready-to-eat sandwiches are kept before they are wrapped in cling film.

Westminster Council, which is prosecuting the business, says inspectors found more on the floor in the food storage areas, shelves near food preparation areas and on shelves containing bottles of olive oil.

Even more droppings were discovered on the lids of jars containing ready-to-eat food such as hazelnut paste, sugar cubes, chestnuts and popping candies, it is alleged.

The firm went into administration last month, after the first court hearing into health and safety breaches at the ICA Bar.

French company Sodexo bought the firm’s remaining catering contracts, while the Peyton family took over the bakery side of the business.

The charges the company face include a further allegation that mouse droppings and grease was found in the washing up areas and all over shelves holding cleaning products and paper towels.

Inspectors noted that two rolls of blue hand paper towel underneath the sink in the wash-up room had been gnawed by mice.

portraits-people-003Cracked tiles were found in the kitchen, possibly giving the pests a place to nest.

The company was summoned to court face eight charges of failing to comply with food safety and hygiene provisions, but no-one from the now defunct firm showed up.

Prosecutor Kirsty Pantin, for Westminster Council, applied to district judge Paul Goldspring for the case to be adjourned so the administrators, Deloitte, could be contacted.

‘The company has gone into administration after the last hearing when pleas were meant to be entered,’ said Ms Panton.

20 years on, Scotland E. coli tragedy saw heart ripped from town

In November 1996, over 400 fell ill and 21 were killed in Scotland by E. coli O157:H7 found in deli meats produced by family butchers John Barr & Son. The Butcher of Scotland, who had been in business for 28 years and was previously awarded the title of Scottish Butcher of the Year, was using the same knives to handle raw and cooked meat.

e-coli-scotland-1996-1A memo at the time, unearthed by The Herald shows what many suspected: that the interests of the food and agriculture industries were given higher priority than public health.

Then Scottish Office health minister, James Douglas-Hamilton, wrote on Dec. 5, 1996 to Sir Russell Hillhouse, the under-secretary of state at the Scottish Office that, “The key issue to be addressed is that when there is an outbreak of infectious disease whether the public health interest should over-ride the food industry and agricultural interests. I believe the public health interest should be paramount, but it was not seen to do so in this case.”

The aptly named agriculture minister, Douglas Hogg, argued E. coli was a “Scottish issue” and that licensing should only be in Scotland.

A memo to Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth, on March 19, 1997, noted: “The Cabinet Office and No 10 were not impressed by Mr Hogg’s idea.”

Ross Thompson of the Daily Record reports that 20 years later, a Wishaw Old Parish Church member believes the heart was ripped from the congregation in the wake of the crippling E. coli tragedy.

Wishaw Old Parish Church session clerk Tom Donaldson was served the same meal as 10 others who lost their lives from the killer bug when infected meat, from John Barr’s Butchers, was served at an annual church lunch.

This week marks 20 years since the outbreak claimed its first victim, 80-year-old Harry Shaw.

Over the next few weeks, 20 others died and hundreds more were infected in what is still the world’s worst E. coli outbreak.

This week, Tom reflected on the horrific events two decades on.

He said: “Many of our members and office-bearers still carry the sad memories of that time.

e-coli-scotland-barr“The heart was torn from the church by the loss of so many members.

“We lost eight members, including three valued elders.

“We held the same meal for over 10 years. For a lot of the people going, it was a chance to get out of the house and see people they hadn’t seen for a while.

“I had the same meal as everyone else but, thankfully, I didn’t have any symptoms. When we heard that people were unwell and then that people had died we couldn’t believe it.

“It was really heart-breaking.”

Over the next few weeks, the world’s media converged on Wishaw to cover the ongoing tragedy.

One man who carried the burden more than most was church minister Rev James Davidson.

Indeed, after burying three of his congregation, Rev Davidson admitted it had been the worst week of his life.

Tom added: “The minister carried the heavy burden as pastor; not only by conducting so many funerals in such a short period but also having to continue to minister to the congregation Sunday by Sunday.

“In one week he had to carry out three funerals. He was heart-broken.

“He really needed more help than he got because not only was he doing those funerals but he was also going to the hospital to visit the sick as well.

“The local media, like the Wishaw Press, and the guys who worked for the Scottish television channels were very respectful. But there was the other side where others would confront the minister and other office- bearers, at their homes and at the church for a comment.

“For quite a few years we had to deal with being ‘that E. coli church’ and people still remember that.”