Euro 2016 qualifier in doubt after 16 players get food poisoning

As one of my food safety colleagues commented, appears to be a case of the dribbles. may have to postpone Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus after 16 members of their squad contracted food poisoning.

The players complained of “terrible stomach aches” after eating a meal of spaghetti bolognaise on Sunday at the team’s hotel in Minsk.

Just four of the 20-man squad were unaffected.

The Luxembourg Football Federation said they are in “close contact” with Uefa about potentially rearranging the game.

A decision is expected by Tuesday.

Food safety memories: Inside Out

Food should be about joy. it too often involves anger, fear, disgust and sadness.

That’s the plot of the new Pixar movie, Inside Out.

Not the food bit, but the emotions humans use to remember things (and why Lewis Black’s angry man character in the film is so compelling).

The movie tells the story of 11-year-old Riley, a hockey player from Minnesota, and her difficulty dealing with a family move to San Francisco.

They had me at girl hockey player, since all five of my daughters play(ed).

My most compelling food memory is this: when my first child was born at home, 28 years ago, I remember walking in Guelph with her 12 hours after birth, and then a couple of friends came over.

I cooked a stuffed trout.

I still remember that stuffed trout as the best ever, but that was probably fuelled by the emotions of the first kid.

Inside Out plays on similar emotions, as did Ratatouille, another Pixar film, in 2007.

Carole Peterson, a professor of psychology at Memorial University in Newfoundland, says that, “Children have a very good memory system. But whether or not something hangs around long-term depends on several other factors” such as whether the memory “has emotion infused in it,” and whether the memory is coherent.

Inside Out gets this right. from Eric Kandel’s lab at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. Paradoxically, it works in the same way as mechanisms that cause mad cow disease, kuru, and other degenerative brain diseases.

In four papers published in Neuron and Cell Reports, Dr. Kandel’s laboratory show how prion-like proteins – similar to the prions behind mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans – are critical for maintaining long-term memories in mice, and probably in other mammals.

When long-term memories are created in the brain, new connections are made between neurons to store the memory. But those physical connections must be maintained for a memory to persist, or else they will disintegrate and the memory will disappear within days. Many researchers have searched for molecules that maintain long-term memory, but their identity has remained elusive.

People learn through and retain stories. Technology is just a tool to deliver the story

Chapman and I figured that out in the early 2000s, going to the bathroom in the restaurant after playing hockey and seeing sports pages above urinals, and ultimately convincing the manager to post food safety stories.

As part of his PhD research, Chapman partnered with a food service company in Canada and placed small video cameras in unobtrusive spots around eight food-service kitchens that volunteered to participate in the study. There were as many as eight cameras in each kitchen, which recorded directly to computer files and later reviewed by Chapman and others.

braun.sorenne.hockeyFood safety inforsheets, highlighting the importance of handwashing or preventing cross-contamination, for example, were then introduced into the kitchens, and video was again collected. We found that cross-contamination events decreased by 20 per cent, and handwashing attempts increased by 7 per cent.

Tell a food safety story, make it compelling.

And involve female hockey players.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

Fathers, mothers and hockey

One hour on the ice, playing; 90 minutes running a practice; one hour coaching a game.
Father’s Day in Australia, and though the Australian Father’s Day isn’t until September – it’s winter solstice here, not summer – I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.

Thanks Amy, for all the skates you did up today and every week.

Thanks for the backyard rink, all those years ago, dad.

Chicago wins, I lose, TV chefs still suck

Now that the Chicago Blackhawks have entered dynasty town with three Stanley Cup wins in six years (Toronto is hopeless) and the wife is gloating because her team won and she got tenure, I’m at a loss for what I’ll watch as background while writing and cooking.

colbert.soccerThere’s TV chefs, but they’re dull.

One gloating Illinois reader suggested I watch soccer.


But only a PR flunky could come up with this headline: America’s favorite chef warns of food poisoning epidemic.

America’s favorite chef, Chef Remi has thrown a word of caution to the public of a food poisoning epidemic during the warm season.

He’s got the usual tips but at least recommends a thermometer “such as the Chef Remi Cooking Thermometer.”

I look forward to the verification data.

214 sickened at teen hockey tournament in Finland

Chapman and I get sorta excited when food safety intersects with hockey. after watching Anaheim take a 2-1 lead after two periods over Chicago, and several OMG e-mails, I can note that in Finland last month, about 30 teens got sick with Salmonella at the Riga Cup.

And then the numbers went to over 200.

But the authors, writing in Eurosurveillance, do a much better job describing the outbreak, so I’ll go back to figuring out my practice plan for this weekend.

On 14 April 2015, a general practitioner in a municipal public health authority in Finland notified the National Registry for Food and Waterborne Outbreaks (RYMY) [1] about a cluster of 30 cases of gastrointestinal disease. All had attended the Riga Cup on the 3 to 6 April weekend 2015 and six had laboratory-confirmed Salmonella serogroup D infection.

The Riga Cup is an annual international youth ice-hockey competition where mainly male teams, with occasional female players, participate. Players in the event are officially categorised in five age groups comprising individuals between 10 and 18 years-old. In 2015, the competition consisted of five tournaments lasting three to four days each, which took place over five consecutive weekends from 27 March to 26 April. The competition attracted 197 teams from Europe, including Belarus, Russia and Ukraine as well as 16 European Union and European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA) countries. Finland contributed 50 teams. The total number of international and national participants was around 5,000. Tournaments were played according to age groups in four hockey arenas, which were used in parallel, with arena A being the main arena. A fifth arena was added on the last weekend of the tournament. Lunches and dinners for the teams were included in the competition package. The teams, including their male and female coaches and officials, were scheduled to have their meals at the arenas where they were playing. Breakfasts were taken at the hotels where the teams stayed.

Following the notification of the first cluster of cases in mid-April, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) monitored notifications reported to the National Infectious Disease Registry (NIDR) in order to capture Salmonella infections with a travel history to Latvia. Names were cross-checked against a list of the Finnish players in the Riga Cup obtained from the tournament website. Other cases of Salmonella sp. in NIDR with travel history to Latvia were contacted to determine whether they had participated in the tournament as an accompanying family member or official. Cases were identified according to the outbreak case definition. this led to the finding of other possible clusters in different parts of Finland, THL invited on 21 April, the Finnish clubs participating in the Riga Cup 2015 to an online survey in order to describe and determine the magnitude of the outbreak. This survey asked about demographics, dates of participation in the competition and place of accommodation. Further, the respondents were requested to specify the tournament venues where they had eaten and on which dates, along with a description of what had been consumed. It was also enquired whether any foods and beverages had been taken outside the venues. Date of onset of diarrhea with three or more loose stools a day, fever (≥38°C), headache, nausea, vomiting, or stomach ache were questioned as were any possible hospitalisations.

As of 8 May, 65 persons with Salmonella sp. infection, who had participated as players or officials in the Riga Cup 2015 between 27 March and 26 April 2015 and had onset of symptoms on or after 27 March were identified by the NIDR in Finland. By the same date, 315 persons had also responded to the online survey. Of these, 31 respondents were classified as confirmed, and were among the 65 confirmed cases identified by the NIDR. The survey additionally identified 57 suspected cases.

Of the 88 cases identified in the survey (Figure), 78 (87%) were male, the median age was 13 years (range: 8–66 years), 7 (8%) had been hospitalised, 86/87 (99%) had been playing at arena A and 39/88 (44%) participated during the tournament taking place over the second weekend of the competition.

Nine patient isolates were microbiologically characterised [2-4] at THL. The isolates were selected so that they represented clusters identified in different participating teams from different parts of Finland (Figure). All nine cases had been infected by S. Enteritidis phage type 1 (PT1) with multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) profile 3–10–6-4–1 (SENTR7-SENTR5-SENTR6-SENTR4-SE3). The isolates were susceptible to the standard panel of antibiotics tested (ampicillin, cefotaxime, chloramphenicol, gentamicin, mecillinam, meropenem, nalidixic acid, perfloxacin, streptomycin, sulfonamide, tetracycline, and trimethoprim). S. Enteritidis PT1 is rare in Finland as well as in Norway and Sweden (Lin Thorstensen Brandahl and Cecilia Jernberg, personal communications, May 2015), but common in Baltic countries, Russia and Korea [5,6].

On 16 April, THL launched an urgent inquiry through the Epidemic Intelligence Information System for Food and Waterborne Diseases (EPIS-FWD) [7] to identify cases in other countries. Potentially affected non-EU countries were informed of the outbreak via the World Health Organization and were given access to EPIS-FWD.

On 24 April, a Rapid Risk Assessment of the outbreak by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) [8] was distributed through the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS). On the request from Latvia, ECDC deployed a fellow from the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) from Finland to support the investigation in Riga on 26 April 2015.

On 29 April, the Latvian Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (LCDC) contacted the leaders of all teams participating in the Riga Cup, except the Finnish and Norwegian teams, which had already been contacted by their national public health authorities, by email and asked if they were aware of cases of gastroenteritis with onset during or after the tournament.

2004HockeyTournanment 051An ECDC expert on food and waterborne disease outbreaks joined the investigating team in Riga on 4 May 2015. As of 8 May, seven countries (Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK)) have reported a total of 214 cases with gastrointestinal symptoms. Identical MLVA profiles to the Finnish cases were confirmed in one Norwegian and three Swedish patient isolates. The MLVAs were performed at the Department of Food-borne Infections at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Public Health Agency of Sweden, respectively. The results were communicated through EPIS and at telephone conferences concerning the outbreak (Lin Thorstensen Brandahl and Cecilia Jernberg, personal communications, May 2015).

Food and environmental investigations in Latvia

Based on the information gained from the first detected cluster in Finland, the cafeteria at arena A was suspected as the source of outbreak [8]. On 16 April, the THL and the Finnish Food Safety Authority, Evira, alerted their respective counterparts in Latvia through the EWRS [9] and the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed [10]. On the same day, the LCDC in collaboration with the Latvian Food and Veterinary services inspected the kitchen at arena A, interviewed all kitchen staff and their family doctors, and collected fecal samples and environmental and food samples. None of the kitchen staff reported gastrointestinal symptoms during the Riga Cup and all the samples were negative for S. Enteritidis. No cases of S. Enteritidis related to Riga Cup were registered in Latvia and the number of S. Enteritidis cases did not exceed the average level in March and April 2015.

Follow-up controls took place at arena A on 24 and 27 April. Members of one team playing at the tournament on the second weekend of the competition, with five suspected cases, had only eaten their meals in arena B, so arena B was inspected on 29 April. Menus were retrieved from all arenas and wholesale suppliers were identified via the purchase receipts. The arena restaurants had been contracted by the organiser and advised to serve the same lunch and dinner menus to the participating teams. The meals were mainly prepared at the tournament arenas. The caterers at the venues served the team members a separate menu than the public during the weeks in between the tournament weekends. Leftovers of the food served to the teams were discarded at the end of each day. Latvian teams did not take lunch and dinner at the venues.

Control measures

Physicians in Finland were alerted about the outbreak by news bulletins (on 15, 20 and 30 April) [11]. The Finnish ice-hockey teams scheduled to play on the last tournament weekend were prior advised to take standard hand hygiene and food safety precautions, such as eating only cooked foods and drinking bottled beverages.

In Latvia, two other junior ice hockey events took place in Riga, from 28 April to 2 May 2015 and from 14 to 16 May 2015 respectively. As some Finnish teams were to take part in these two events, the Finnish public health authorities informed these teams and the Finnish Ice Hockey Association on 27 April about the Riga Cup outbreak and ongoing investigation. Standard hand hygiene and food safety precautions were recommended and participants were also advised to notify THL in case gastrointestinal symptoms appeared during or after the competition.

On 30 April and 8 May the Latvian public health authorities contacted the organisers of both events and recommended to consume only well-cooked foods and maintain proper hand hygiene. In addition, a phone number to a specialist from the Latvian public health authority was provided in case any of the event participants would develop gastroenteritis symptoms.


This outbreak was first detected by municipal public health authorities in Finland. Due to budget cuts at THL since 2015 Salmonella isolates of foreign origin are no longer typed nor are the cases monitored in real time and outbreaks of foreign origin can only be identified at a local level. This will delay detection of Salmonella outbreaks among travellers. Cross-border outbreaks and outbreaks related to mass gatherings pose special problems [12-15] and cooperation between national authorities and ECDC is needed. The investigation to determine the source of the outbreak is ongoing and a retrospective cohort study among event participants from several EU/EFTA countries is underway in order to identify the source.


We would like to thank experts from THL, The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia, Latvian Food and Veterinary Services, national focal points of affected countries and ECDC which are continuously contributing to the outbreak investigation.

Conflict of interest

None declared.

Authors’ contributions

Anne-Katrine Pesola, Triin Pärn, Sari Huusko, Jurijs Perevoščikovs, Jukka Ollgren, Saara Salmenlinna, Taru Lienemann, Celine M. Gossner, Niklas Danielsson and Ruska Rimhanen-Finne reviewed and approved the manuscript. Anne-Katrine Pesola acted as outbreak coordinator, Anne-Katrine Pesola, Triin Pärn, Sari Huusko, Jurijs Perevoščikovs, Jukka Ollgren, Celine M. Gossner, Niklas Danielsson and Ruska Rimhanen-Finne carried out the epidemiological investigation. Saara Salmenlinna and Taru Lienemann, carried out the microbiological investigation, Anne-Katrine Pesola, Triin Pärn and Ruska Rimhanen-Finne drafted the manuscript and data analysis. All co-authors critically reviewed the draft of the paper and approved the final version.


Finnish food Safety Authority Evira. Elintarvike- ja vesivälitteisten ruokamyrkytysepidemioiden ilmoittaminen ja raportointi. [Food and waterborne outbreaks, notification and reporting]. Finland; 2014. Finnish. Available from:

Issenhuth-Jeanjean S, Roggentin P, Mikoleit M, Guibourdenche M, de Pinna E, Nair S, et al. Supplement 2008-2010 (no. 48) to the White-Kauffmann-Le Minor scheme. Res Microbiol. 2014;165(7):526-30. PMID:25049166

Ward LR, de Sa JD, Rowe B. A phage-typing scheme for Salmonella enteritidis. Epidemiol Infect. 1987;99(2):291-4. PMID:3315705

Hopkins KL, Peters TM, de Pinna E, Wain J. Standardisation of multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) for subtyping of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis. Euro Surveill. 2011;16(32):19942. PMID:21871223

Hasenson LB, Kaftyreva L, László VG, Woitenkova E, Nesterova M. Epidemiological and microbiological data on Salmonella enteritidis. Acta Microbiol Hung. 1992;39(1):31-9. PMID:1632197

Kang ZW, Jung JH, Kim SH, Lee BK, Lee DY, Kim YJ, et al. Genotypic and phenotypic diversity of Salmonella enteritidis isolated from chickens and humans in Korea. J Vet Med Sci. 2009;71(11):1433-8. PMID:19959892

Gossner CM, de Jong B, Hoebe CJPA, Coulombier D, and European Food and

Multinational Outbreak Of Salmonella Enteritidis Infection During An International Youth Ice Hockey Competition In Riga, Latvia, Preliminary Report, March And April 2015

Eurosurveillance, Volume 20, Issue 20, 21 May 2015

A K Pesola, T Pärn, S Huusko, J Perevoščikovs, J Ollgren, S Salmenlinna, T Lienemann, C Gossner, N Danielsson, R Rimhanen-Finne

Swedish pupil ‘slept in poo and sick’ at school

Amy and I both went to public schools and got PhDs.

In Australia, parents plan which school to send their kids to beginning in kindergarten (prep here) in hopes of getting into a better high school.

sorenne.hockeyaug.14There is also a lot of private schools that charge upwards of $30,000 per year in high school.

That’s just crazy.

A teenage student in Sweden attending Liljaskolen high school near Umeå is reported to have been sleeping on a mattress in school basement covered in feces, urine and vomit, despite clean dormitories being available elsewhere in the building.

Social services in Vännas are understood to have been alerted to the pupil’s living conditions at Liljaskolen high school near Umeå in northern Sweden last month, although the story has only just emerged in the Swedish media.

Liljaskolen is attended by 800 students and specializes in teaching snow sports such as skiing and ice hockey alongside vocational subjects including tourism, design and watch-making. Its pupils come from more than 50 municipalities across Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

The school provides several dormitories for students who do not come from the area, funded by Vännas council.

It is understood that the pupil is now living with family members.

You don’t need to go to school to learn hockey. Just come to the rink.

Hockey and food safety? Sure they’re the same, keep elbows up when you go in the corners

This isn’t about food safety. It’s about coaching, mentoring, whatever words you like that are often thrown around in the food safety world but often not practiced (follow the money).

No money involved here, just me and fellow coach Kyle spending four Sundays trying to teach a bunch of surfer kids in 90 F heat how to play hockey.

And it was a family affair. Sorenne and Amy both helped out with the various tasks to get people on the ice, as did Kyle’s kids.

The regular season begins next weekend, and I’m anxious to get back on the ice as a goalie (if my body can handle it) and coaching.

But this was fun. Thanks to all who volunteered their time. And especially my family who tolerate my Canadian indulgences in Australia.