Don’t reveal our dirty secrets, beg French chefs

As a postscript to our recent trip to France, friend of the barfblog.com Albert Amgar, who we had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting, forwarded a note from a French colleague who argued that “I think that too much information on albert(food safety) problems creates uselessly an alarming climate of insecurity.”

Fail.

I have a vague understanding of this class-based approach to disclosure.

In 1994, as a graduate student, I was invited to a pre-G7 summit in Naples, Italy. The idea was to bring in a scientist and a journalist from each of the G7 countries to discuss medical conditions and whether patients should be told.

I was the scientist and journalist from Canada.

There was a lot of posturing from the Italian hosts, a lot of drinking and eating, and very little work.

It was a lovely weekend.

The Americans, the Brits and me (the Canadians)  agreed on full disclosure.

The other countries, including France, said their patients couldn’t handle it.

Guess things haven’t changed much.

According to The Times Paris on July 20, 2016, government wants to tell diners the truth by publishing results of health and safety inspections on the agricultural ministry’s website – chefs are aghast.

They are even more appalled at a proposal to stick a label in the window of their restaurants that will say whether hygiene is ‘very satisfactory’ ‘satisfactory’ , to improve’ or ‘to be corrected urgently’. Given that only a few restaurants are likely to be deemed ‘very satisfactory’ , the profession fears for its reputation.

Restaurateurs are campaigning to prevent the plan from being implemented next month. Hubert Jan, chairman of the Union of Hotel Trades and Industries, said that his members were already losing money because of France’s poor economic performance and terrorism fears. ‘The profession, which was badly hit by a fall in custom after the terror attacks, does not need to be thrown to the lions and stigmatised.’

The scheme was drawn up amid increasing concern over restaurant hygiene. In summer 2013, health inspectors ordered the closure of 252 establishments. In Paris, 321 were shut last year. Among the concerns of inspectors were sushi leƞ in the sun, broken fridges and food past sell-by date. The agriculture ministry tried out its ‘transparency of food hygiene’ programme in the capital, testing 367 restaurants. 34% were deemed to have a good level of hygiene, 54% were ‘acceptable’ and 8% were told they had to improve. The figures alarmed restaurateurs, who say that the ratings could be posted on internet guides and remain there even after failings have been rectified. They also fear diners will shun establishments with a label on their doors, unless it says ‘very satisfactory’.

Don’t take the brown acid: No more diarrhea tablets at Glastonbury 2016

Coldplay is enough to induce diarrhea for me.

Hear’s hoping my Dr. Maths friend from the train in France wasn’t caught up in the gastro outbreak that has hit Glastonbury Festival goers – and there’s some bad news for revelers – the onsite pharmacies have run out of diarrhea relief tablets.

Although hopes are high that medication will be delivered to the site’s pharmacies later today, anyone who is unwell can get help from the festival medical centres.

And regardless of if you’re feeling ill or not, people are being reminded to wash hands carefully with soap and water or anti-bacterial hand gel after using the toilet and before eating or handling food.

Meet barfblog’s French correspondent

Had the pleasure of finally meeting Albert Amgar, mirobiologist and frequent French correspondent for barfblog.com.

albertWe had lunch, hung out in his family’s apartment, toured old Paris and found out there really are other people in the world who have to have a couple of hours on the internet just to talk about food safety stuff.

Amy said the similarities were somewhat overwhelming.

I thought it was great.

Albert said France was terrible at public disclosure.

Oui.

 

STECs in shellfish, France

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) strains may be responsible for foodborne infections in humans.

Twenty-eight STEC and 75 EPEC strains previously isolated from French shellfish-harvesting areas and their watersheds and belonging to 68 distinguishable serotypes were characterized in this study.

bourdain_ss_brittany-journal_004_596x334High-throughput real-time PCR was used to search for the presence of 75 E. coli virulence-associated gene targets, and genes encoding Shiga toxin (stx) and intimin (eae) were subtyped using PCR tests and DNA sequencing, respectively.

The results showed a high level of diversity between strains, with 17 unique virulence gene profiles for STEC and 56 for EPEC. Seven STEC and 15 EPEC strains were found to display a large number or a particular combination of genetic markers of virulence and the presence of stx and/or eae variants, suggesting their potential pathogenicity for humans. Among these, an O26:H11 stx1a eae-β1 strain was associated with a large number of virulence-associated genes (n = 47), including genes carried on the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) or other pathogenicity islands, such as OI-122, OI-71, OI-43/48, OI-50, OI-57, and the high-pathogenicity island (HPI). One O91:H21 STEC strain containing 4 stx variants (stx1a, stx2a, stx2c, and stx2d) was found to possess genes associated with pathogenicity islands OI-122, OI-43/48, and OI-15. Among EPEC strains harboring a large number of virulence genes (n, 34 to 50), eight belonged to serotype O26:H11, O103:H2, O103:H25, O145:H28, O157:H7, or O153:H2.

Molecular profiling of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and enteropathogenic E. coli strains isolated from French coastal environments

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. July 2016 vol. 82 no. 13 3913-3927, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00271-16

Balière, A. Rincé, S. Delannoy, P. Fach and M. Gourmelon

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/13/3913.abstract?etoc

 

Over 100 sick from French oysters: Norovirus outbreak in Denmark and Sweden

I don’t eat raw oysters, I don’t eat much of raw anything.

french.guard.monty.pythonNorovirus in oysters from France has sickened more than 100 people in Denmark and Sweden.

Livsmedelsverket (The National Food Agency, Sweden) said there was a number of different outbreak clusters in early February in which a total of 70 people were suspected to be ill.

Fødevarestyrelsen (The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) said there had many different notifications, some from restaurants, in which around 60 people has been sickened.

Both countries posted notifications via the RASFF portal.

A spokesman from Livsmedelsverket said there was a link to one wholesaler in Sweden which has received two batches of oysters from a company in France

Antimicrobial resistance spreads in French livestock

Colistin resistance was investigated in 1,696 isolates collected from 2007 to 2014 within the frame of the French livestock antimicrobial resistance surveillance programme.

Cow_KissThe mcr-1 gene was detected in all commensal Escherichia coli isolates with a minimum inhibitory concentration to colistin above the 2 mg/L cut-off value (n=23). In poultry, mcr-1 prevalence was 5.9% in turkeys and 1.8% in broilers in 2014. In pigs, investigated in 2013, this prevalence did not exceed 0.5%. These findings support that mcr-1 has spread in French livestock.

Prevalence Of Mcr-1 In Commensal Escherichia Coli From French Livestock, 2007 To 2014

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 6, 11 February 2016

A Perrin-Guyomard, M Bruneau, P Houée, K Deleurme, P Legrandois, C Poirier, C Soumet, P Sanders

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21380

Raw pork liver a risk factor for hepatitis E in France

In France, the number of confirmed autochthonous hepatitis E (HE) cases has shown a substantial increase since 2006. In 2010, a descriptive study of acute autochthonous laboratory-confirmed HE cases was implemented in order to generate hypotheses about transmission modes and contamination sources.

raw.pork.liverAcute autochthonous HE cases confirmed by the National Reference Centre (CNR) were interviewed on exposures in the 2 to 10 weeks before illness onset. Clinical, biological and epidemiological characteristics were documented for 139 autochthonous cases.

Sixty-five per cent of them resided in southern France, 59% reported underlying conditions and 74% were infected by HEV subtype 3f. Consumption of raw pig-liver products during the incubation period was more frequent among cases in southern (47%) than in northern (25%) France. HE is a frequent infection, more prevalent in Southern France, where cases frequently report the consumption of raw pork-liver products. A case control study will determine the fraction of HE cases attributable to the consumption of such products and other risk factors.

Descriptive study of autochthonous cases of hepatitis E cases, France, 2010

Couturier E, De Valk H, Letort MJ, Vaillant V, Nicand E, Tessé S, Roque-Afonso AM

Saint-Maurice : Institut de veille sanitaire

http://www.invs.sante.fr/Publications-et-outils/Rapports-et-syntheses/Maladies-infectieuses/2015/Etude-descriptive-des-cas-autochtones-d-hepatite-E-France-2010#panel2

Salmonella and campy happen in France too

In 2007, Amy and I spent a few weeks in France, and being the food safety nerd, I was struck by the indifference many of the people I met showed to foodborne illness.

DSC00006.JPGIt seemed to be a point-of-pride amongst the locals to not report foodborne illness.

I’m familiar with the French desire for food to be alive, sexy, and part of a life well-lived, but also saw a lot of people going to McDonald’s.

We stayed for a week at a friend’s cottage in a small town in the south, and we would visit the butcher, who cross-contaminated everything.

We had dinner at a neighbor’s place one night and he confessed, that butcher, “he made me so sick with his chicken.”

And when I got home, someone told me my don’t eat poop story made it onto Letterman, while Amy developed the look.

Researchers report that community incidence estimates are necessary to assess the burden and impact of infections on health and to set priorities for surveillance, research, prevention, and control strategies.

letterman2The current study was performed to estimate the community incidence of campylobacteriosis and nontyphoidal salmonellosis in France from the number of laboratory-confirmed cases reported to the national reference center (NRC). The probabilities of a case in the community visiting a doctor, having a stool sample requested, having a positive laboratory test, and having the case reported to the NRC were estimated using data of national surveillance systems, national hospitalization and health insurance databases, and specific surveys informing about these parameters. Credible intervals (CrI) were calculated using Monte Carlo simulation. In addition, we estimated the number of hospitalizations for both infections in France.

The annual community incidence rate in France is estimated at 842 cases per 100,000 (90%CrI 525–1690) for campylobacteriosis and 307 cases per 100,000 (90%CrI 173–611) for salmonellosis. The annual number of hospitalizations is estimated at 5182 for campylobacteriosis and 4305 for salmonellosis. The multiplication factors between cases ascertained by the surveillance system and cases in the community were 115 for campylobacteriosis and 20 for salmonellosis.

amy.the.look.2007They are consistent with estimates reported in other countries, indicating a high community incidence of campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis in France.

Community incidence of campylobacteriosis and nontyphoidal salmonellosis, France, 2008–2013

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 2015 ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.1964.

Van Cauteren Dieter, De Valk Henriette, Sommen Cecile, King Lisa A., Jourdan-Da Silva Nathalie, Weill François-Xavier, Le Hello Simon, Mégraud Francis, Vaillant Veronique, and Desenclos Jean C.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2015.1964