20 sick with campy linked to raw milk in Colorado

Jakob Rodgers of The Gazette reports that up to 20 people have been sickened from raw milk supplied by a ranch in Pueblo County, leading health officials to warn against drinking unpasteurized milk from the farm.

santa-barf_sprout_raw_milk7The outbreak of campylobacteriosis – an infection causing nausea and diarrhea – stems from raw milk distributed by Larga Vista Ranch, which is about 20 miles east of Pueblo, according to El Paso and Pueblo county health officials.

The infections highlight the dangers of drinking raw, unpasteurized milk, said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, El Paso County Public Health’s medical director.

“Sometimes people think that raw foods of all kinds are healthier,” she said. “But in this case, raw milk is very dangerous to be drinking.”

Since Aug. 1, health officials have confirmed 12 such cases and eight probable cases, according to the El Paso and Pueblo county health departments. Of those 20 people, half live in El Paso County, and half live in Pueblo County.

The infections stem from milk supplied by a herdshare program, which allows people to purchase stakes in livestock, such as cows or goats, and to receive a portion of each animal’s milk or meat.

Some of the people sickened were not part of the herdshare program. They received the milk from people who were part of it, which is now allowed, health officials said.

An after-hours call to the ranch by The Gazette was not returned.

Eggs from small flocks more likely to contain Salmonella enteritidis

Eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

egg-dirty-feb-12That conclusion — which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that eggs from backyard poultry and small local enterprises are safer to eat than “commercially produced” eggs — was drawn from a first-of-its kind, six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state.

Salmonella enteritidis is a leading foodborne pathogen in the United States, with many outbreaks in humans traced back to shell eggs. The FDA requires shell-egg producers from farms with more than 3,000 chickens be in compliance with the FDA Final Egg Rule, which is aimed at restricting the growth of pathogens. However, small flocks with fewer than 3,000 layer chickens currently are exempted. Eggs from these producers often are marketed via direct retail to restaurants, health-food stores and farmers markets, or sold at on-farm roadside stands.

From April to September 2015, the researchers purchased two to four dozen eggs from each of 240 randomly selected farmers markets or roadside stands representing small layer flocks in 67 counties of Pennsylvania. Internal contents of the eggs and egg shells were cultured separately for Salmonella using standard protocols. Salmonella recovered were classified by serotype, and any Salmonella enteritidis isolates present were further characterized to evaluate their relatedness to isolates of the bacteria that have caused foodborne illness outbreaks.

Test results revealed that of the 240 selling points included in the study, eggs from five — 2 percent — were positive for Salmonella enteritidis. Eggs sold at one of the positive selling points contained the bacteria in egg shells; the eggs from the other four selling points had Salmonella enteritidis in internal contents.

That is a higher prevalence of the pathogen than that found in studies of eggs from large flocks, noted lead researcher Subhashinie Kariyawasam, microbiology section head at Penn State’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. Those eggs, from flocks of more than 3,000 birds, are subject to federal regulations aimed at reducing Salmonella enteritidis contamination.

egg-farmThese regulations require measures such as placement of Salmonella-“clean” chicks, intensive rodent control, cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of pullet and layer houses, continuous testing of eggs from any Salmonella-positive houses, and diverting eggs from Salmonella-positive houses for pasteurization.

Kariyawasam — who presented the research findings to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Avian Pathologists at their August meeting in San Antonio, Texas — said the study clearly demonstrated that Salmonella enteritidis is present in the eggs produced by small flocks.

“The research highlights the potential risk posed by the consumption of eggs produced by backyard and small layer flocks. And, analysis of the Salmonella enteritidis present in the eggs from small flocks shows they are the same types commonly reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from human foodborne outbreaks,” she said. “These findings emphasize the importance of small-producer education on Salmonella enteritidis control measures and perhaps implementation of egg quality-assurance practices to prevent contamination of eggs produced by backyard and other small layer flocks.”

Eggs from small flocks make a negligible contribution to the table egg industry in the United States, Kariyawasam noted. But the growing demand for backyard eggs and eggs from nonfarm environments — with small egg-producing flocks managed in cage-free systems and pasture situations — suggests these production systems deserve some scrutiny.

“We were curious about Salmonella contamination of eggs produced by these flocks because the prevalence of this pathogen in smaller flocks was not known. Now we know that the prevalence of Salmonella enteritidis in eggs produced by small flocks is higher than in eggs produced by larger flocks.”

Hong Kong: City University’s plan to include food safety in a veterinary course

Hong Kong’s urban high-rise environment may seem an unlikely place to host a centre of veterinary excellence. But that is still not the way City University sees it, despite rejections of funding requests for a veterinary school in 2010 and 2014 by the University Grants Committee on the grounds that it is unviable and unnecessary. It has unveiled a self-financed, six-year undergraduate course in veterinary medicine beginning in the next academic year with an intake of 10 to 15 students, rising to about 30 in two years.

one-healthEach student would have to pay tuition fees of HK$120,000 a year. The government has warned the university not to assume that in the long run it would receive public funding, which would reduce the fees to HK$42,100 a year.

Nonetheless university president Professor Way Kuo is confident of securing government funding in 2018, by which time it also hopes to have raised HK$1 billion to support the programme. Cornell University in the US is a partner in the course.

City university says part of the course will focus not on training vets in the care of domestic pets, but on research into food safety and how to prevent disease spreading from animals to humans. Since this is most relevant to the agricultural and livestock industry across the border rather than Hong Kong, perhaps it is hoped the course will attract enough fee-paying students from the mainland to begin with.

5 things a Canadian food safety expert will never eat

Carmen Chai of Global News reports that Rick Holley, a veteran food safety expert and University of Manitoba professor emeritus says these are the five things he won’t eat:

mi-rick-holley-1212Raw shellfish and seafood

Raw sprouts and chopped raw vegetables and fruits

(“I do not eat sprouts, unless they’re cooked.”

He eats the chopped salads from the grocery store, though.

“I’m confessing now that I accept the risk because I value the convenience,” he said.

If you’re chopping up vegetables and fruit, they’re safe to eat for about four hours if kept at room temperature. In the fridge, they can last for up to three days, he said.)

Unpasteurized drinks

Undercooked meat

Undercooked eggs.

“My wife doesn’t like to sit with me at dinner and have guests in because, invariably, the conversation rotates to subjects near and dear to my heart and that’s contamination,” Holley joked.

My list is the same.

Test and ye shall find: Listeria in Blue Bell ice cream, again

A supplier of cookie dough that Blue Bell Creameries blamed for a possible listeria contamination of some of its ice cream products said Thursday that its product tested negative for the pathogen before it was sent to the Texas-based company.

listeria-blue-bellBlue Bell announced Wednesday it was recalling select flavors of ice cream distributed across the South and made at its Sylacauga, Alabama, plant after finding chocolate chip cookie dough from a third-party supplier — Iowa-based Aspen Hills Inc. — that was potentially contaminated with listeria.

Blue Bell halted sales, issued a voluntarily recall of all its products in April 2015 and shut down its three plants due to bacteria contamination that was linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas. The company, headquartered in Brenham, about 70 miles outside Houston, resumed selling its products about four months later. Before resuming production, the company said it had implemented new cleaning and sanitizing procedures at its facilities, as well as new testing programs and new employee training.

The iconic ice cream brand is beloved in Texas, where people impatiently awaited its return to store shelves after the recall.

No illnesses have been reported from the latest recall of ice cream distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, Blue Bell said.

Blue Bell said on Thursday in an email to The Associated Press that it found listeria contamination in packages of cookie dough ingredient received from Aspen Hills.

But a statement from Aspen Hills said its cookie dough product tested negative for listeria before it was shipped to Blue Bell and that the “positive listeria results were obtained by Blue Bell only after our product had been in their control for almost two months.”

Aspen Hills said that Blue Bell is the only customer who received the cookie dough product “included in our voluntary recall.” Blue Bell has been a customer of Aspen Hills since January.

Second Scots cheese firm investigated following quality control testing issues

An investigation has been launched by environmental health officers into a second Scots award-winning cheese firm following issues with quality control testing.


cheese-e-coli-scotlandHighland Council, which is leading in the investigation at the family-run Connage Highland Dairy in Ardersier said there is no link “at this stage” to any cases of illness or the on-going E.coli O157 outbreak which has resulted in the death of a child in Bearsden.

The E.coli outbreak resulted in the shutting down in the operations of another family-run award-winning cheesemaker Lanarkshire-base Errington Cheese whose cheese has been linked to the outbreak.

Highland Council environmental health officers are liaising with Food Standards Scotland in the probe.

The council said that the organic cheese firm had contacted the council voluntarily regarding issues with their own internal quality testing, triggering the probe.

A spokesman said: “Environmental Health officers are investigating the matter and further sampling has been carried out.

“The council are liaising with Food Standards Scotland on the investigation. There is no link at this stage to any cases of illness or the ongoing E.coli O157 outbreak in Scotland.”

Callum Clark, who runs the business with wife, Jill insisted it is not connected to the E.coli outbreak and there was “nothing actually wrong”.

“We asked them to come in. Obviously environmental health are all a bit sensitive and on high alert on everything with the Errington thing,” he said. “Everyone is extra edgy over that.

“We are being fully helpful and co-operating with environmental health. It’s just the testing regime we are looking at.”

Owned and run by the Clark family, Connage Highland Dairy has been using traditional techniques to produce a range of organic, handcrafted, vegetarian cheeses since the family farm opened in 2006.

 

Chlorine is your friend, but chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table

As the third case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome has been linked to the Campylobacter contamination of Havelock North’s water supply, New Zealand, chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table, for now.

eight_col_1m1a9865The Christchurch City Council went against its own staff advice and unanimously decided on Thursday not to consider temporarily chlorinating the water from eight shallow wells that feed into three pump stations, serving about 20,000 residents.

The council instead decided to accelerate a $16 million programme to replace 22 shallow bores, supplying 80,000 northwest households.

The work was originally due to be finished by June 30, 2018, but most of the wells would now be decommissioned by March 2017. Fourteen of the most vulnerable shallow wells have already either been decommissioned or shut down.

Accelerating the work would cost an additional $480,000.

The council would also embark on a programme to raise community awareness of the risks of drinking untreated water from the shallow bores.

Canterbury’s medical officer of health, Alistair Humphrey, last month asked the council to explain why its continued use of the shallow wells did not present “an untenable risk”. Humphrey’s request was prompted by a gastro outbreak caused by campylobacter in the water supplying the town of Havelock North in Hawke’s Bay.

Staff will now talk to Humphrey to see if he was satisfied with the council’s response, without chlorinating the water. They will report back to the council in November.

Water from the bores was tested for E.coli daily, but it took at least 24 hours to get the results, so there was always a 24-hour period where contamination could go undetected, council three waters and waste boss John Mackie said.

He said the council complied with the water standards, but his professional advice to the council was to chlorinate the water, which would eliminate the risk.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel asked Mackie if the risk from the shallow bores had changed in the last few years. He said no.

She said it was only the perception of risk that had been heightened since the Havelock North contamination.

 

Raw is risky: Seattle’s Toulouse-Petit closed during food-poisoning investigation

Toulouse is one of my favorite French cities.

horse_meat_09Why is it the name on a restaurant in Seattle?

Laura Fonda of Queen Anne View reports that Toulouse-Petit Kitchen & Lounge (601 Queen Anne Ave N) has been temporarily closed down by King County heath officials as they investigate possible food poisoning at the restaurant.

According to King County Public Health, six out of seven people from the same party ate at the restaurant and became ill with symptoms consistent with a bacterial infection such as Salmonellosis or Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.  The potential food source is still under investigation, but Public Health notes that the party had consumed food items that may increase the risk of foodborne illness, including raw beef and raw egg.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-5-27-45-pmPublic Health investigated the restaurant today and found “several problems including room temperature storage, inadequate refrigeration and improper cooling of potentially hazardous foods and cross contamination, which resulted in temporary suspension of the restaurant’s permit.”

Of course it never happened before: Dozens sick from Salmonella outbreak at Tennessee fire department fundraiser

State health officials investigated a food poisoning outbreak that sickened potentially dozens of people in Middle Tennessee.

rutherfordcofire5x5The salmonella illness emerged after fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in Rutherford county.

“Salmonella can be very serious and cause death in some people,” said deputy state epidemiologist John Dunn.

No one died, but several people got sick, some hospitalized.

“We know of a number of others — 18 total so far and hearing of more and all attended the Lascassas Fire Department fish fry on September 10th,” said Dunn.

More than 400 people attended the event at the station on Lascassas Pike. The meal included fried fish and chicken along with homemade white beans other sides an array of desserts.

Since then, many were sickened by salmonella and shared their experiences on Facebook.

One woman lost 15 pounds, another ended up in the hospital, and one was sick for over a week and still not 100 percent.

This was the first time something like this has ever happened at a Lascassas Volunteer Fire fundraiser.

 

20 children sickened: E. coli O26 in Italy, 2013

In summer 2013, an excess of pediatric cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) in a southern region of Italy prompted the investigation of a community-wide outbreak of Shiga toxin 2-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26:H11 infections. Case finding was based on testing patients with HUS or bloody diarrhoea for STEC infection by microbiological and serological methods.

bobby-crosier-e-coli_-sep_-15A case–control study was conducted to identify the source of the outbreak. STEC O26 infection was identified in 20 children (median age 17 months) with HUS, two of whom reported severe neurological sequelae. No cases in adults were detected. Molecular typing showed that two distinct STEC O26:H11 strains were involved. The case–control study showed an association between STEC O26 infection and consumption of dairy products from two local plants, but not with specific ready-to-eat products. E.coli O26:H11 strains lacking the stx genes were isolated from bulk milk and curd samples, but their PFGE profiles did not match those of the outbreak isolates.

This outbreak supports the view that infections with Stx2-producing E. coli O26 in children have a high probability of progressing to HUS and represent an emerging public health problem in Europe.

Community-wide outbreak of hemolytic uraemic syndrome associated with Shiga toxin 2-producing Escherichia coli O26:H11 in southern Italy, summer 2013

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 38, 22 September 2016

C Germinario, A Caprioli, M Giordano, et al.

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22583