Vaccines work: Backpacker, 25, left bedridden in Vietnam after sampling iced coffee

Sinead MacLaughlin of the Daily Mail reports a simple sip from an iced coffee containing contaminated ice cubes left one backpacker bed-ridden in excruciating pain while on holiday.

ice-vietnam-sophiaInstead of seeing the stunning sights of Vietnam and lying on the beach with her friends, Sophia Brockman, 25, spent half of her holiday lying in the fetal position in bed.

‘We knew we weren’t supposed to be drinking the iced drinks but we wanted to have cocktails and try the ice coffee and street food that South-East Asia is famous for’, she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

‘I would totally say that we had a YOLO [you only live once] attitude during this trip,’ Ms Brockman said. 

The Sydney ex-pat, originally from the US, was forced to spend $300 on antibiotics after coming down with severe food poisoning from the tainted coffee.

But despite the serious pain she was in, the 25-year-old says it could have been a lot worse considering she wasn’t vaccinated before the trip.  

A survey of 1004 travelers by pharmaceutical company Sanofi found that Australians often take unnecessary risks when it comes to their safety by eating street vendors food and sleeping outdoors.

One-third prioritised travel insurance over vaccinations.

‘It’s quite common for travelers to think they’re safe if they’ve traveled to the destination before, or that travel insurance is enough protection and vaccinations aren’t needed,’ travel health specialist Dr Sarah Chu told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

‘But I can assure you the risk of falling sick is very real and can happen to anyone.’ 

 

Gross: Malaysian factories found making ice from waste water

A local Malay daily has revealed the absolutely disgusting conditions in which ice cubes are made, rendering our thirst-quenching chilled drinks, the most unhygienic ever.

dirty-iceIn an investigative piece today, Sinar Harian reported on the existence of several “rogue” ice factories in the Klang Valley that use waste water to produce ice cubes and ice slabs.

Besides using obviously filthy water unfit for human consumption, the ice is manufactured in extremely unhygienic surroundings as well.

According to the report, one factory that allegedly “recycled” waste water into ice, even channelled this water to the ice-producing machine via pipes that had moss growing on the inside.

It was learned that waste water was preferred as it was already in a cold state and hence froze faster.

This short cut also invariably translated into more products in a shorter time span, and higher profits for the manufacturers.

And the horror does not stop there. If the sight of stray animals scavenging around in the ice processing area at some factories was not enough to make you gag, how about ice cubes stored on rusty trays?

The report said the toilets at these premises were also in a filthy state, and pools of stagnant water in other parts of the factory due to clogged drainage systems only made the manufacture of ice cubes and ice slabs all the more unhygienic.

You could fool a kid with it, but why? Bone broth popsicles

I make a mean chicken stock.

Many a morning the house is filled with the pleasing aroma of chicken bits and bones boiling, culminating in a fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free yet flavor-filled stock (my stock pot is the one wedding gift I still use, 30 years later, thanks Brian and Marg).

Others in the house think the smell is overwhelming so I boil stock when they are away.

Regardless, I wouldn’t make it into a popsicle.

Bone broth – the centerpiece of the Paleo diet – is now being turned into popsicles.

I find frozen water, sometimes with a squeeze of lime, works well. It’s called ice.

FDA to Horizon Air: No handwashing, no ice

The FDA has a warning for Horizon Air: If there’s no hand-washing, don’t serve ice.

upintheairAccording to The Seattle Times, the FDA sent a letter to Horizon Air, operating by Alaska Airlines, reprimanding employees for serving ice with drinks on their Bombardier Q400 airplanes, which don’t have hand-washing sinks in their bathrooms.

Without hand-washing facilities, the lavatories aren’t sufficient for employees to handle food and ice, which “can increase the potential spread of communicable disease,” said the letter.

The letter comes after several FDA inspections last winter, which led to correspondence with Horizon on the issue for months. The Times reports Horizon fixed other problems noted in the inspections, but employees continued to serve drinks with ice.

“Directing your employees to wash their hands in the airport between flights or to use hand sanitizer does not meet the requirements for suitable lavatory facilities for food-handling employees. We recommend that you discontinue the use of ice and serve only food and beverages that are in closed containers,” the FDA wrote to Horizon.

Yuck factor: Swiss study finds E. coli bacteria in ice cubes

 

More than a quarter of ice cubes used in Swiss bars and restaurants contain fecal bacteria such as E. coli, according to a nationwide study by the Swiss cantonal chemists association (VKCS).

ice.bearIn an analysis of ice cube samples collected from bars, restaurants and canteens around Switzerland last year, 26 percent fell short of legal health standards, said Sunday paper SonntagsBlick, which released the figure prior to the report’s official publication.

The presence of bacteria including pseudomonas, E. coli and enterococci is “a clear sign of unsanitary production of ice cubes,” Otmar Deflorin, president of the  cantonal chemists association and head of the Swiss federal laboratory in Bern, told SonntagsBlick.

The primary cause is a lack of hygiene in bars and restaurants, where ice machines may be badly cleaned and maintained, he said.

Ice fingered but epi can be ‘squishy’ 61 sickened by Norovirus at journalists’ conference

Two months after a norovirus outbreak at Bali Hai restaurant, county health officials have fingered ice as the foodborne source that sickened at least 61 people — including three in a wedding party.

norovirus-2“We’re certain it had something to do with the ice” served at the annual awards banquet of the local Society of Professional Journalists, said county spokesman Michael Workman. “We’re not certain how it got in the ice.”

In its final report to the San Diego SPJ, the county said 84 of the 172 people at the July 29 banquet returned surveys on what they ate and other issues. Fifty were sickened by norovirus type GI.1. (Eight others also reported getting ill.)

Three diners elsewhere in Bali Hai also got GI.1 — part of a wedding party of 140.

“We have to [classify it as] food poisoning,” Workman said, rather than a sick person spreading the gastrointestinal disease.

A Sept. 4 report said, “We did not link any food service workers with the illness,” but Workman on Tuesday told Times of San Diego that “we can’t say yes or no” to whether an employee caused the outbreak.

Workman stressed that Bali Hai remains “rated for high” for hygiene. “Everyone involved — from the people who attended [the banquet] and from the restaurant … did the right thing.”

County spokesman Workman saluted Bali Hai management.

“The restaurant had a great hygiene procedure, really good,” he said. “They are on the up-and-up on what they do and what they teach their employees. The employees have been there a long time. So they get it.”

But Workman acknowleged the county’s findings can be “squishy” and “it’s not an exact science.”

But: “We’re confident it’s been taken care of.”

Neat, no ice: 4 ice safety steps for restaurants, bars, and hotels

Jim Chan, a public health inspector for 36 years who retired in 2013 as manager of the food safety program at Toronto Public Heath, writes:

don_draper-300x225During my career as a Health Inspector, one question often asked by the public is “How safe is the ice in food and drinks serve in restaurants?” There is no easy Yes or No answer without having to explain how ice can be contaminated and in what conditions that ice can cause illness. In general, we tend to view ice much the same way we do with drinking water coming out from the tap, and assume that both water and ice are “clean.” Ice must be treated like food, as both can be a source of foodborne illness if not handled safely.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canada have health code regulations around ice and both define ice as food. Here’s an example of code requirements for ice safety under Food Safety legislation: Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 562 (Food Premises) – Ice used in the preparation and processing of food or drink shall be made from potable water and shall be stored and handled in a sanitary manner. Most pathogenic organisms do not readily multiply in ice in restaurants that’s used for food and drinks. However, scientific research has also shown that some bacteria and viruses can survive cold or freezing for long period of time. Therefore, it is important for restaurant operators to ensure their ice does not become contaminated.

icemachine_junk_450Contamination can be introduced by airborne particles, contaminated water supply, food handlers or dirty utensils. But the main cause of ice in restaurants, bars and hotels becoming contaminated is human error: improper ice handling. Training staff is critical to ice safety. Contaminated ice can cause foodborne illness – reduce your risk with regular cleanings, periodic thorough sanitation (by a professional), regular maintenance, and, of course, training. Note: If your commercial ice machine is in a high yeast environment (pizzerias and breweries for example) or if you’re water source is from a well, you will need additional professional deep cleanings.

Lack of regular inspections, exposure to poor hygiene and improper handling of ice will increase the risk of contamination. You don’t want your restaurant or hotel guests getting sick because of inadequate cleanings and sanitation of your ice machine.

To reduce the risk of ice being a source of foodborne illness, restaurant operators and managers should be aware of the following points and to conduct regular self-inspection to identify problems early:

1) Train restaurant or bar staff in proper ice handling practices (bar and kitchen)

Wash hands before getting ice from ice making machine.

Hold only the ice scoop handle and not other parts of the scoop.

Do not scoop ice using water glasses or cups and never handle the ice with hands.

Do not return unused ice to the ice machine/ice bin.

Keep doors of the commercial ice machine closed except when removing ice.

Ice scoops should be stored outside the ice maker and kept in a clean container. Ice scoop & container should be washed & sanitized regularly.

Do not store anything such as food, drinks, fruit etc. in the ice machine. Never use ice machine as a refrigerator!

Clean the ice making machine regularly and fix all problems identified.

Never put Anything in the ice bin…except clean, untouched ice!

2) Inspect and clean/sanitize the ice making machine regularly

Inspect the exterior of the machine. Ensure the door, handle and hatch of the ice machine are clean and in good repair.

Look for any evidence of growth of scum, slime or mold inside the machine. If such growths are observed, immediately clean according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Tip: The ice should be removed from the ice bin and disposed during cleaning to avoid cross contamination by chemicals).

chan.ice.cartoonRoutine cleaning of an ice making machine should be done at least weekly by staff and the process can be as simple as running a sanitizing solution through the cycle, then running two cycles of ice, dispose of these before running ice for drinks and food. Make sure this is part of your weekly cleaning schedule!

3) Routine Ice Machine Services, Maintenance and Major Cleaning/Sanitizing

The ice making machine should be serviced by a professional technician at least twice year, which requires being taken apart for inspection and major cleaning and sanitizing. This needs to be performed by a professional! By choosing Easy Ice for your ice machine (instead of owning or leasing), your ice maker subscription includes 2 deep cleanings a year. And they schedule it for you – saving you not only time but money! And you’re assured the ice machine is clean when the Health Inspector stops by.

A typical cleaning routine would include the following steps:

Turn off the electrical supply and empty the ice bin.

Remove the protective curtain or cover (if present) and check the drain to ensure it is clear.

Clean all surfaces inside using hot water and a cleaner or detergent, follow with an antibacterial sanitizer by wiping all internal surfaces and allow adequate contact-time for the sanitizer to work. (Tip: Do not rinse off the surfaces, allow to air dry)

Wash and sanitize the plastic curtains, cover, ice scoops etc… (Tip: Use hot water and detergent for washing and then soak in a sterilizing solution as per manufacturer’s instructions)

Check the door and ensure it can close tightly to prevent dirt entering the ice making machine.

Switch machine back on and ensure it works properly.

4)  Additional factors to consider for cleaning and sanitizing of commercial ice machines

Biofilms

Microorganisms such as bacteria, can grow together and secret a matrix of polymers to form a protective shield known as Biofilm on surfaces such as food & ice container, ice machine walls, trays etc. Think of the bacteria producing a secretion to make a ‘bionic blanket’ covering themselves and protecting them from attack by chemicals such as cleaning & sanitizing agents. Within the biofilm, pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Shigella can survive and can cause spoilage or infection later when released.

The best way to prevent biofilms from developing is regular cleaning & sanitizing all surfaces that come in contact with food, drinks & ice. However, if biofilms already formed, surfaces must be physically cleaned by scrubbing and than follow with sanitizing to kill the pathogens to ensure a clean and safe environment for food, drinks & ice.

Ice safety is as important as food safety and should be a priority for your restaurant, hotel or bar. By following the above protocol, you can be assured of serving your guests clean, safe ice. Choose to ignore these key points and you may receive a fine, or worse – a shut down, from the Health Inspector. Protect your reputation, your guests and your bank account.

Cooling food in a restaurant so people don’t barf

Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that improper cooling practices contributed to more than 500 foodborne illness outbreaks associated with restaurants or delis in the United States between 1998 and 2008.

sitting.iceCDC’s Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) personnel collected data in approximately 50 randomly selected restaurants in nine EHS-Net sites in 2009 to 2010 and measured the temperatures of cooling food at the beginning and the end of the observation period. Those beginning and ending points were used to estimate cooling rates. The most common cooling method was refrigeration, used in 48% of cooling steps. Other cooling methods included ice baths (19%), room-temperature cooling (17%), ice-wand cooling (7%), and adding ice or frozen food to the cooling food as an ingredient (2%).

Sixty-five percent of cooling observations had an estimated cooling rate that was compliant with the 2009 Food and Drug Administration Food Code guideline (cooling to 41°F [5°C] in 6 h). Large cuts of meat and stews had the slowest overall estimated cooling rate, approximately equal to that specified in the Food Code guideline. Pasta and noodles were the fastest cooling foods, with a cooling time of just over 2 h. Foods not being actively monitored by food workers were more than twice as likely to cool more slowly than recommended in the Food Code guideline. Food stored at a depth greater than 7.6 cm (3 in.) was twice as likely to cool more slowly than specified in the Food Code guideline. Unventilated cooling foods were almost twice as likely to cool more slowly than specified in the Food Code guideline.

Our data suggest that several best cooling practices can contribute to a proper cooling process. Inspectors unable to assess the full cooling process should consider assessing specific cooling practices as an alternative. Future research could validate our estimation method and study the effect of specific practices on the full cooling process. 

Quantitative data analysis to determine best food cooling practices in U.S. restaurants

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 4, April 2015, pp. 636-858, pp. 778-783(6)

Schaffner, Donald W.; Brown, Laura Green; Ripley, Danny; Reimann, Dave; Koktavy, Nicole; Blade, Henry; Nicholas, David

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000004/art00020

 

Ice for fish used to make juice; restaurants closed in India

Food Safety officials on Sunday closed down three juice shops and a hotel in Kowdiar for unclean conditions and for serving stale food and beverages.

According to the officials, old fruits and ice blocks used earlier for preserving fish were used for making juice.

fish.on.ice“The fridges and freezers were found to be unclean. The fruits which were many days old had fungus on them. At the hotel, we found rats running around in the kitchen. Also, it did not have proper arrangements for waste disposal,” said an official.

On Saturday evening, an illegal slaughter house in Kunchalumoodu was raided and locked down following reports of veal beef being sold off as mutton. 

Who designs stool sample kits for 40-year-olds? Firsthand experience with foodborne illness

Jeff Hansel writes in the Post Bulletin:

I was part of a group that ate at a restaurant. Someone called public health afterward when some of us got a suspected foodborne illness. I ben.stool.sample.nov.09was given a kit with a soft bandage-like catchment to place over the toilet bowl.

Did anyone test these on real 40-something guys?

I mean, the catchment (about 2 inches deep, if memory serves) just wasn’t, um, spacious enough.

Somehow I completed the appointed task, guided by complex directions.

And then the affix-the-label-here instructions said something like, “be sure to place bottle in white container.”

What white container?

Eventually, I, for lack of a better phrase, went without it. Public health called. Was I going to provide a sample?

“Yes!” I said proudly. “Mailed it immediately like the directions said!”

“You mailed it … did you take it to the post office?”

“No, I put it in a mailbox.”

This was winter (several years ago). Who knew samples must be kept warm during transport?

“I’m not sure how we’ll handle this…” the epidemiologist said.

It’s my understanding that a team from public health descended like a swarm of angry killer bees and extracted my No. 2 from the U.S. Postal stool.sample.ben.nov.09Service mailbox by the Government Center while holding a postal carrier under threat of torture.

Perhaps it wasn’t quite that dramatic.

Regardless, within days of eating at one of our successful local restaurants, I had produced, collected, prepared, deposited and sealed No. 2 in a biohazard container safe enough to be mailed, but intended to be kept at room temperature.

The test came back positive for Clostridium, a common cause of foodborne illness.

I slept on my bathroom floor, suffering from a violent illness I’ll spare you the details of. Let’s just say I eventually looked eerily similar to a haggard purple minion from the movie “Despicable Me 2.”

Half my restaurant lunchmates got sick. They were the ones who drank diet soda. Half didn’t drink soda, and they didn’t get sick.

So I suspect that customers or servers stuck their bare hands in the ice bin. That’s breaking rule No. 1 — and it led to No. 2 on ice.