Was it sprouts? Rare Salmonella in Switzerland and Germany over past decade

During the summer of 2013, an increase of Salmonella enterica ssp. enterica serovar Szentes isolates from human clinical cases was registered by the Swiss National Centre for enteropathogenic bacteria and Listeria.

sprout.santa.barf.xmasIn the course of the ensuing 9 months, 18 isolates originating from 13 patients and from one food sample were collected. Of the 13 human cases, 10 (77%) were female. The patients’ ages ranged from 27 to 83 years (median age 49 years). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) performed with XbaI, and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) were used to type the strains. PFGE as well as MLST showed the strains as indistinguishable. The PFGE pattern and MLST sequence type (ST427) were identical to those of Salmonella enterica serovar Szentes isolated in previous years (2002–2013) from sporadic cases in Switzerland and Germany.

The increased isolation frequency continued for 6 months after the detection of Salmonella Szentes in sprouts. No common food exposure could be established. Due to lack of information on the potential food source, further investigations were not possible. The outbreak of this unusual serotype was detected because of its temporal clustering.

 Salmonella enterica serovar Szentes, a rare serotype causing a 9-month outbreak in 2013 and 2014 in Switzerland

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.1996.

Nüesch-Inderbinen Magdalena, Cernela Nicole, Althaus Denise, Hächler Herbert, and Stephan Roger

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2015.1996

It’s not organic or conventional it’s will it make you barf?

I’ve been drawn into these debates before, and concluded they are mindnumbing.

sprout.santa_.barf_.xmas_1-300x254Yes, organic probably causes a disproportionate number of food safety recalls, but it’s not the production method, it’s the producer.

Either they know about dangerous microorganisms and take steps to reduce them, or they don’t.

 The Western Producer says the “refreshingly candid comments of a University of Saskatchewan professor (Stuart Smyth) interviewed by WP reporter Dan Yates provoked lively discussion.

Except, if accurately quoted, they were as much bullshit as the good professor claims is at the root of organic outbreaks.

Smyth responded to one critic by stating, “In 2011, organic cucumbers containing a lethal level of E. coli were sold in Europe, resulting in over 4,000 cases of illness and 50 deaths. Colleagues of mine at the FAO reported that by the third day of the story, the powerful European organic industry had pressured the media into removing the word organic from all stories. Sadly, removing the word organic contributed to thousands of additional cases of illness and death, as European consumers had no idea it was the organic food that was killing them.

“I stand by my claim: organic food is the most dangerous and unsafe food on the market today. If you want to eat food that will kill you, eat organic.”

Yes, cucumbers were initially fingered as the source of an E. coli O104 outbreak that killed 53 and sickened 4,400 in Europe in 2011, but the source was ultimately determined to be fenugreek sprout seeks imported from Egypt.

If you’re going to cast stones, get it right.

German city of Hamburg introduces water-repellent paint to fight public urination

I went to Germany a few years ago, and after hours on the train, really had to pee.

352931-d4c575b2-c39d-11e4-bdbb-25549bb81a95But the public restrooms would only take German coins, and were particularly designed to avoid sliding under the door, so off I went to my destination.

When I got there, they all said, just pee on the wall, everyone else does.

The city of Hamburg has erected signs around the city reading “Don’t pee here. We pee back.” A public awareness campaign video shows CCTV footage of a stream of men on the way home from a drunken night out stopping to relieve themselves in the street. Then the video introduces the city’s secret weapon.

359733-d4806472-c39d-11e4-bdbb-25549bb81a95In the fight against the scourge of urinating drunks, the local St Pauli neighbourhood association has begun painting its walls with water-repellent paint, similar to the type used on ships.

The association told a number of outlets that when liquid hits the walls it rebounds with “almost the same force”. Handy graphics spell it out for anyone still confused.

Foodborne hepatitis A outbreak associated with bakery products in northern Germany, 2012

In October 2012, a hepatitis A (HA) outbreak with 83 laboratory-confirmed cases occurred in Lower Saxony.

german.bakeryWe defined primary outbreak cases as people with laboratory-confirmed HA and symptom onset between 8 October and 12 November 2012, residing in or visiting the affected districts. Secondary outbreak cases were persons with symptom onset after 12 November 2012 and close contact with primary cases. We identified 77 primary and six secondary cases. We enrolled 50 primary cases and 52 controls matched for age and sex, and found that 82% of cases and 60% of controls had consumed products from a particular bakery (OR=3.09; 95% CI: 1.15–8.68). Cases were more likely to have eaten sweet pastries (OR=5.74; 95% CI: 1.46–22.42). Viral isolates from five selected cases and three positively tested surfaces in the bakery had identical nucleotide sequences. One additional identical isolate derived from a salesperson of the bakery suffering from a chronic disease that required immunosuppressive treatment.

Epidemiological and laboratory findings suggested that the salesperson contaminated products while packing and selling. Future risk assessment should determine whether food handlers with chronic diseases under immunosuppressive treatment could be more at risk of contaminating food and might benefit from HAV immunisation.

 

38 sick, blame Germany: second Salmonella outbreak, this one linked to meat

The 38 human cases of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium detected recently in six Member States are likely to be part of the same cluster, a joint EFSA/ECDC report has found. Based on limited available information from food investigations, meat is the suspected vehicle of infection.

article-1282120789302-001a91c800000258-577370_304x156The recently detected 38 cases of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium with MLVA profile 3-12-17-NA-211 and 3-12-18-NA-211 occurring in six Member States are likely to be part of the same cluster. Given the typing delay and the fact that not all countries are performing MLVA typing, the number of cases currently detected is most likely to be underestimated. These two profiles emerged simultaneously in several Member States in June and July 2014, indicating a simultaneous exposure to the clonal strain at several locations within the EU. Based on limited available information from food investigations, meats are the suspected vehicle of human infection at present. It is important to interview new cases to identify a common exposure and to report all new cases with matching MLVA typing results through the TESSy molecular surveillance service and EPIS FWD in order to assess the evolution of the cluster. There is a need to gather information on the findings of these MLVA profiles in feed, animals, and foods (of animal origin and non-animal origin) in order to narrow the hypothesis for further epidemiological studies. This cluster highlights the need to ensure a rapid exchange of information between the public health and food safety health authorities in order to assess the situation and the need for further epidemiological studies as quickly as possible.

‘Strict regulations’ with hundreds sick; European health types confirm Salmonella eggs from Germany

Sporadic or outbreak cases of Salmonella Enteritidis reported by Austria, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in addition to one case reported in Luxembourg in a patient residing in France, appear to be linked by time of symptom onset and microbiological characteristics of isolates.

Raw_eggCases in Austria, France and Germany share an epidemiological link to the same egg packaging centre in southern Germany. Isolates from contaminated eggs identified in France originating from the implicated German egg packaging centre share similar molecular characteristics to the human cases. Isolates from a sample of a Salmonella-contaminated strawberry cake, identified in Germany through an investigation unrelated to this outbreak, also share similar molecular characteristics to the human cases. Additional microbiological and environmental investigations could further strengthen evidence to support or discard the hypothesis of all cases being part of the same outbreak, and being infected after consumption of the same food (i.e. contaminated eggs produced in southern Germany).

 This is particularly unclear with regard to the outbreak cases in the United Kingdom. Investigations and actions taken by the food sector have supposedly stopped the distribution of the suspected contaminated food to the market. However, due to the delay in case reporting, it is still possible that more cases will be notified. ECDC will continue to closely monitor the occurrence of human cases through EPIS-FWD and Member States could consider enhancing their surveillance activities for this Salmonella serovar and specifically for the phage type 14b.

 It is noticeable that Salmonella Enteritidis-contaminated eggs have been able to reach the market, in spite of the strict regulations applying to table eggs for human consumption, and the success in reducing human and animal infections in recent years within the EU. EPIS-FWD and RASFF have been confirmed to be excellent tools for sharing information, identifying potential cross-border threats and linking independent investigations simultaneously occurring in different Member States.

Leftover food sharing in Germany leaves a bad taste in my mouth

My role as dad and food dude has morphed in the past year –  I now do most of our food shopping and cooking. Two or three days a week I make meals with the plan that they will also be used for a couple of lunches. I get that this isn’t revolutionary (note the large market for Tupperware) but is new for me.2008_12_4-Leftovers2

There is apparently a subgroup of leftover-avoiding folks out there who are also concerned with food waste, leading to the development of a leftover sharing ap in the U.S. LeftoverSwap and now it’s German counterpart foodsharing.de.

According to NPR, child psychiatrist Vero Buschmann was looking for a way to get rid of leftovers without having to throw them away. And she was looking to create a community around similar food waste values.

She found a nonprofit website in Germany that allows her to do both. On a recent evening, her doorbell rings and she buzzes Franzi Zimmerman in to her fifth-floor apartment.

“I have a whole bunch of baked goods I just picked up from the baker,” Buschmann tells her 29-year-old guest. “You can take as much as you want!” She also offers some soup and chutney, made from her leftover produce.

Zimmerman laughs and replies: “Wow, that’s really great. Homemade soup? It doesn’t get better than that!”

Such exchanges between strangers are happening in more than 240 cities across Germany through Foodsharing.de (for English, click on the tiny British flag on the top left), a website that connects people who have free food to give away with people seeking those items.

Some 40 tons of food have been given away via the network since it began online 18 months ago. More than 41,000 people have signed up. The nonprofit website’s creators say their goal is to prevent large amounts of produce, bread and other perishable food from being thrown away.

Food waste is not just a German problem, says website co-founder Valentin Thurin. He’s a Cologne-based filmmaker whose documentary, Taste the Waste, lays out in jolting terms just how much food Europeans throw away each year – 90 million tons worth, to be exact. It’s a phenomenon that costs the European economy more than $130 billion every year — up to half of fruits and vegetables picked at harvest time, he says.

“With food, obviously there is a health risk associated, so we needed to establish some rules,” Thurin says. He says the Web team worked with lawyers to ensure the network didn’t violate any German or European regulations governing food.

As a result, it doesn’t offer meats or other products that have “sell by” dates, concentrating instead on food items with “best before” labels.

There are no inspectors checking on food offered through the network, but consumers are encouraged to go online and rate the food they’ve received, Thurin says.

After a quick review of the food safety guidance at foodsharing.de  there might be some stuff that is lost in translation. There is a listing of types of high risk foods (or extra delicate foods) and suggestions on transportation, refrigeration and cleaning and sanitation. The lack of safe endpoint temperatures and proper cooling guidance is a glaring omission.

 

157 sick: Norovirus in ice cream in Germany

According to Sudwest Presse (and something will probably be lost in translation) by Thursday afternoon, there were 157 reports of a gastrointestinal virus’ that were reported to the local health department. According to the Reutlinger Office noroviruses were Norochickdetected in the ice cream consumed.

A health department investigation revealed that the majority of people affected consumed ice cream last Sunday and started vomiting 24 hours later. A laboratory diagnosis of the patients is still pending.

11,000 sick with Norovirus in Germany, 2012, linked to frozen strawberries imported from China

That’s a huge outbreak.

German researchers report in today’s Eurosurveillance (Volume 19, Issue 8, 27) that from 20 September through 5 October 2012, the largest recorded foodborne outbreak in Germany occurred. Norovirus was identified as the causative agent. We conducted four analytical epidemiological studies, two case–control studies and two surveys (in total 150 frozen.strawberrycases) in secondary schools in three different federal states. Overall, 390 institutions in five federal states reported nearly 11,000 cases of gastroenteritis. They were predominantly schools and childcare facilities and were supplied almost exclusively by one large catering company.

The analytical epidemiological studies consistently identified dishes containing strawberries as the most likely vehicle, with estimated odds ratios ranging from 2.6 to 45.4. The dishes had been prepared in different regional kitchens of the catering company and were served in the schools two days before the peaks of the respective outbreaks. All affected institutions had received strawberries of one lot, imported frozen from China.

The outbreak vehicle was identified within a week, which led to a timely recall and prevented more than half of the lot from reaching the consumer. This outbreak exemplifies the risk of large outbreaks in the era of global food trade. It underlines the importance of timely surveillance and epidemiological outbreak investigation for food safety.

‘Oysters have to be alive or you’ll get food poisoning’ Porn trumps microbiology again

Everything I know about Germany I learned from South Park’s portrayal of Cartman’s mom and her involvement with scheisse porn.

I gave an invited talk in Berlin about 15 years ago; my parents advised that German’s have no sense of humor; I ignored them. I failed.

Hwan Nam-kong of Furusato, a Korean restaurant in Berlin says “The fact that Liane_Cartmanit is still alive on the plate is a sign of quality.”

World Crunch is talking about octopus moving around on the plate on its tentacles. The cook swiftly grabs it by its slimy head, pushes a skewer through the tentacles, wraps them around it – and voila, the Korean delicacy known as sannakji, served with chili sauce or a sesame oil and salt dip.

However, eating moving tentacles is not without danger: they can fix themselves to the inside of your mouth – or worse your throat – which could lead to suffocation and death. So if you order the dish in Korea make sure to chew well, advises Hwan Nam-kong. In her Berlin establishment, octopus is not served this way for the simple reason that it’s difficult to get live octopus in Germany.

She has heard that Germans believe that eating living things is a form of animal torture. “Every country has its own food culture that should be accepted by other cultures,” she says.

Koki Umesaka, a chef at Berlin’s Daruma Japanese restaurant, explains that with ikizukuri, a fish is served with its eyes, gills and mouth still moving. That’s not easy, he says. It requires a special technique, and a very sharp knife. Only very experienced chefs know how to do this, he says.

A similar side effect is attributed to another living food you can easily find in Germany – oysters. Greek mythology has it that Aphrodite, goddess of love, sprang from an oyster. Famed Italian seducer Casanova is said to have eaten oysters to maximize his staying power, according to Guillaume Boullay of the Austern Restaurant Meerweinin Hamburg.

If you eat raw oysters they have to be alive, otherwise you may get food poisoning, he says. The way to recognize a living oyster is by its shell clamped tightly shut, and the smell of fresh iodine when you pry it open with an oyster sydney.rock.oysterknife. You can also tell by the way the oyster inside moves if you touch it with the tip of the knife or squirt lemon juice on it.

I’ll continue to grill any oyster. My liver wouldn’t like Vibrio.