18 sickened in 2012; E. coli O111 in a French nursery

(Thanks to my food safety friend Albert for sending this along.)

Three cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) occurred in 15 days and the cases were notified to the Institute for Public Health Surveillance (VS) November 5, 2012 suggesting clustered cases of infection with enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

nurseryAn exploratory investigation, a retrospective cohort of 89/94 children (95%) and 28/36 (78%) and personal prospective surveillance was carried out at a common exposure and to determine the extent of the epidemic . Screening in the family circle of confirmed cases and among children and staff was conducted. EHEC was detected by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in feces, and positive samples were cultured for strain characterization.

A confirmed case was a child or crèche staff who submitted between 10 October 2012 and 17 January 2013, signs of gastroenteritis and/or HUS EHEC O111 isolation; probable case presented bloody and/or stool HUS and a positive PCR; a possible case had presented with diarrhea at least 3 loose stools in 24 hours and consulted a doctor.

Eighteen cases (6 confirmed, 1 probable and 11 possible) were identified among children. The epidemic curve evoked human transmission. The attack rate was 20.2%, 6.7% considering only confirmed cases. Attendance of group A was significantly associated with the disease (RR = 3.1 95% CI [1.3 to 7.1]). Household contacts of confirmed cases, 17% (3/18) were asymptomatic. Screening identified 4% (3/80) of asymptomatic children. 

State-sponsored jazz fail: unlocking France’s secrets to safer raw milk cheese?

Leave it to U.S. National Public Radio to glorify raw milk cheese from France, based on some secret manuscript that requires $20,000 to translate (Amy could probably do it for nothing, but I wouldn’t want to speak on her behalf).

UnknownWhat NPR left out was that some former raw milk cheese producers have switched to using pasteurized milk.

In 2007, while Amy and I were touring around France, she wrote, two of France’s (and thus the world’s) top lait cru Camembert producers, Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mère, announced that they are forgoing the status of “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” and switching to cheese made exclusively with heat-treated micro-filtered milk (not quite pasteurized but still an affront to purists).

Lactilis’ spokesperson, Luc Morelon said that although they recognize the importance of Camembert traditions, they’re making the change “[b]ecause consumer safety is paramount, and we cannot guarantee it 100 per cent. We cannot accept the risk of seeing our historic brands disappearing because of an accident in production.” In response to his critics Morelon added, “I don’t want to risk sending any more children to hospital. It’s as simple as that.”

Nice research, NPR.

Dumpster-diving Frenchman bikes for world hunger

Chapman’s been chronicling dumpster-diving for a few years, but now Frenchman Baptiste Dubanchet is on a quest to bike across Europe, surviving entirely on discarded food. The three-month, 1,900-mile journey from Paris to Warsaw is Dubanchet’s way of raising awareness of food waste in Europe and throughout the world.

baptiste-dubanchet.siWhile the world’s restaurants and supermarkets combine to throw away an average of 1.3 billion tons of food each year, according to the UN, much of it remains inaccessible thanks to locked dumpsters, health regulations, or business policies.

 For legal reasons, most establishments have a policy against giving away food waste.

Beetroot suspected of poisoning 40 French students in January

Red beets are suspected of poisoning 40 school children on January 10, 2014, in Lambersart, France.

According to food service provider Sodexo, preliminary laboratory analysis indicates a bacteria on red beats that produces a toxin when stored at room temperature is beets1responsible for the outbreak.

On January 10, 150 children in Lambersart began vomiting and having headaches. After being examined 40 children were diagnosed with “light” poisoning (something may be lost in translation here, but thanks, Amy, for the work, and Luca for the link).

Sodexo says it has changed their beat supplier and is strengthening their regular testing of suppliers.

French pork group Cooperl rejects Salmonella fraud allegations

France’s leading pork processor Cooperl has rejected allegations in a French newspaper report that it knowingly sold meat contaminated with Salmonella before November 2012 using falsified documents.

According to the report in Le Télégramme, between 2010 and 2012, 1,500 tonnes of meat was used in the composition of prepared dishes such as ravioli and charcuterie Cooperl.porkproducts like salami, sausage and cocktail sausages. The lines were said to have been distributed in France and Russia.

The co-operative confirmed its premises were inspected by police in November 2012 “which revealed a probable misinterpretation on our part of the regulations in force.”

Immediately after the inspection, Cooperl improved its analysis protocols for Salmonella. “We are in full conformity with regulatory requirements relating to food quality and safety,” a spokesperson said.

The Brittany-based group added: “We totally reject the allegations of fraud levelled at our company in this report which are completely unfounded.” It underlined the suspected meat had not represented a health risk to consumers.

125 students victims of food poisoning in French canteen

In yet another outbreak of foodborne illness in  France (which Amy helped translate this warm Sunday morning), 125 school students in Lambeth, near Lille, were stricken with fish_headsstomach pains, vomiting and headaches.

According to Marc-Philippe Daubresse, the Mayor of Lambeth, , this “slight” intoxication was due to the fish. But checks were requested to Sodexo, the provider of meals in the city.

68 students sick; pasta bolognese probable source at school

Sixty-eight people, mostly students, were victims of food poisoning, probably from eating pasta bolognese in the canteen of a private vocational school in Yvelines, 50 km west of Paris.

A communications officer with the school said, “65 people were taken to hospitals to pasta bologneseundergo additional tests and all have returned home or boarding with treatment.”

The people who ate the pasta carbonara did not get sick but the school administration also says there had been cases of gastroenteritis for several days in the school.

School meals are cooked on site. 

French Ministers contract foodborne outbreak in Algiers

(translated by Amy hubbell)

During his visit to Algeria on December 16, France’s Prime Minister along with a few members of his government had the idea to go eat fish at a restaurant serving dishes local to Algiers. They fell ill, and came out the other side with a  raging foodborne illness, according to the Canard Enchaîné newspaper in today’s edition.

 The historic journey of the French delegation to Algeria ended not in one drama but in two, joked the satirical French weekly paper. The first was the witticism the French President let out during a dinner about Valls coming back from Algiers “safe and sound which is saying MC3_1544 Bejaia Bonitosa lot.” It was a joke that angered social media in Algeria and which the Algerian authorities only reacted to much later. The second drama, however, was not reported until the news was released by the Canard Enchaîné.

 On December 15, the French delegation led by Jean-Marc Ayrault went out to dine at the port in a fish and seafood restaurant. The result, as revealed by the satirical weekly paper: a raging case of foodborne illness. 

27 children sick from food poisoning in France

Twenty-seven students enrolled in primary school and college Mont Bar Allegre were victims of food poisoning.

Aged 6-13 years, they returned home with a prescription. The mayor Allegre has provided the multipurpose room for organizing the examinations of both health professionals and for families. 


40 sickened with Salmonella linked to Paris butcher

Our food safety friend in France shared a report that concluded from Dec. 24 2012, the Paris Child Protection Service reported several cases of salmonellosis cases in children hosted in 4 nurseries located in the 7th borough of Paris. In a second step, the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella noticed an increase of salmonellosis cases in Paris in butcher-decade-e1302885066394December 2012 and for several cases, an until now rare Crispol profile was identified — CT51.

Investigations were performed and 40 cases were identified: 30 confirmed cases, 4 possible cases and 6 probable
 cases. They were 10 children hosted in 4 nurseries and 30 community cases. The outbreak was due to 2 strains of Salmonella: S.Typhimurium CT51 and S.4,12:i:-, a monophasic variant of serovar Typhimurium.

During the telephone interview of the cases, it occurred that most of the cases went to a butchery located in the 7th borough of Paris a few days before the onset of the disease. A random inspection led in the butchery by the Food Hygiene Service revealed many infringements to food hygiene. Some samples were taken in the butchery and 2 S.Typhymurium CT51 and S.4,12:i:- strains were found on the surfaces and in the food sold by the butcher.

This investigation emphasized the role played by observation and early reporting of the Child Protection Service. This report was the visible part of a larger epidemic event that included both cases living in institutions and in the community which occurred simultaneously.