8 sick: Suspected outbreak of cryptosporidium hits thousands of homes in Ireland

Almost 6,500 homes in Westport have been placed on a boil water notice after a suspected outbreak of cryptosporidium.

crypto_enlargedThe precautionary notice was issued by Irish Water to a large number of customers in the town and to those on nearby group water schemes this evening.

It will affect thousands of homes and businesses in the busy tourist town.

Irish Water says the HSE has issued the precautionary boil notice, after eight people in the Westport area reported symptoms of crytosporidium.

They say no crytosporidium had been detected in ongoing water samples, however, as a precaution they are urging customers to boil water before using it for drinking, preparing food and baby food or brushing teeth.

Campylobacter sucks: Irish woman’s terrifying ordeal, paralyzed and couldn’t move a muscle

An Irish woman was left paralysed from her neck to her toes after eating a chicken which was contaminated with a common bacteria.

campy.chickenSandra Loftus, from Kinsealy, Co Dublin, contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome – a severely debilitating condition of the nervous system – after she ate chicken infected with campylobacter.

The bacteria commonly causes food poisoning and shockingly 98.3% of chickens bought by the public here in Ireland are infected with it.

And like Sandra, one in 100 of us who contract food poisoning from campylobacter will get Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

She explained: “I was cooking dinner for the family and I was doing a chicken stir fry.

“The next day I was very sick I had terrible cramps in my stomach, nausea, diarrhea – it was really bad. The Saturday then when I got up the legs just went from under me.

“After a full day in hospital they said to me, ‘Look, just go home, it could be a virus, come back to us if it gets worse.’

“When Monday came I couldn’t even lift my hands – there was no power or anything.

“So I was straight back over to A&E and spent three months in high dependency there and then nearly a year in rehab in Dun Laoghaire.”

Sandra told RTE’s Consumer Show that she thought she was going to die.

She said: “I was paralysed from my neck to my toes, I couldn’t move a muscle.

barfblog.Stick It In“And I thought I was going to die because when we looked into it one in four people can die from this.”

Sandra spent three months in intensive care unit battling for her life and then spent a further nine months at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire.

Thankfully she has now fully recovered from her ordeal.

However, in the food safety advice bit at the end, sorta like Dear Abbey, the story says, “Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.”


Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Infants and turtles don’t mix: Irish mom says ‘experience was torturous’

The mother of an 11-week-old baby who was left fighting for his life after contracting terrapin-related botulism said nobody knew what was happening at the time because “no one had seen anything like it.”

turtleKris Edlund Gibson, the mother of the first child in Ireland to be diagnosed with the disease, said her newborn son Oliver was hospitalized in December 2010 when he began struggling to breathe.

He was the first person in Ireland to be diagnosed with Type E Botulism originating from the two terrapins his parents kept.

“The experience was torturous to us,” said Ms Gibson. “It is impossible to put into words how painful it is to see one’s newborn in that state. It was equally as painful to have to walk away and leave him there night after night.

“I wanted to get rid of the turtles before Oliver was born because I thought they smelled awful and I was worried about salmonella. The only reason we ended up keeping them was because we couldn’t find anyone to take them. I didn’t want to just take them to a pond and dump them so we kept them.”

Irealand? Really?Nearly two decades after ban, Irish beef is back in America

Irish beef was served in New York City for the first time in 17 years on Monday night, after a ban in 1998 saw all European beef restricted from entry into America.

ireland.beef.us.feb.15At a swanky event in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Ireland’s agriculture minister, Simon Coveney, presented a sample of his nation’s beef to a crowd of chefs and food writers, and presented the case for Irish beef filling the huge American demand for red meat.

“The average American eats twice the volume of beef per head to the average European. So you take your beef very seriously,” Coveney said.

“If we are to be serious players in this market, we need to prove to you that we take our beef seriously,” he continued. “And we do.”

Monday’s event was held at Daniel, French chef Daniel Boulud’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant, which prepared a series of dishes with Coveney’s beef as a demonstration of its flavour.

“It does taste a little bit different to US beef,” Coveney told the crowd. Irish cattle are grass-fed, the minister said, and happily for Ireland “the fastest growing segment in the beef market in the US is actually the green beef, or grass-fed”.

The Irish beef last served in the US would be old enough to drive by now, had it the necessary appendages and wherewithal. The US imposed a Europe-wide ban on all beef on 1 January 1998, at the height of the BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka “mad cow disease”) crisis.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Economy Minister John Deng (鄧振中) said Wednesday that Taiwan may ease restrictions on imports of American beef amid reports that it will allow in six kinds of beef parts to make it easier to join the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc.

Deng, who is in Washington, D.C., for a visit, told a CNA reporter in Taipei by phone that the six types of beef under consideration — bone marrow, blood vessels, head meat, cheek meat, weasand and tallow — are not internal organs and therefore not banned by law.

But businessmen have not been willing to import these beef parts for fear of violating the law because the cuts have not been defined and classified clearly enough under the law, he said.

Deng stressed that the government will not open Taiwan to beef internal organs from the U.S. at the expense of public health or in contravention of laws passed by the Legislature.

Two Irish newborns rushed to hospital after contracting terrapin botulism

Two newborns were left fighting for life after contracting terrapin-related botulism, it has emerged.

terrapinBoth babies were just 11 days old when they were rushed to hospital with the disease, which is linked to pet turtles.

The cases are the first of their kind in Ireland, the Irish Daily Mail reports.

The first case was recorded here in December 2010, and the second in March of 2013.

In the first case, the baby boy lived in a home where there was a pet yellow-bellied terrapin.

In the second case, the baby had been in the home of a relative who had pet turtle, and was held and fed by the owner.

Both infants fully recovered from the infection, following rapid treatment by medics.

The botulism-causing toxin was found in the tanks of both turtles.

The HSE has advised owners to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly after handling and feeding turtles, as well as ensuring they remain in their tank and can’t roam freely around the house.

It’s a cyclical thing: More awareness, more food safety reporting in Ireland

A razor blade in minced meat is among the items alleged to have been found in food products in 2014, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

2,783 complaints were received about food safety, while the number of calls to the FSAI was up 8%, compared to 2013.

Bike-logo-570x420The FSAI said the increase reflected, in part, a growing awareness among consumers of the need to report poor hygiene practice.

Consumer complaints included reports of food unfit to eat, suspected food poisoning, poor hygiene standards and incorrect information labelling.

Reports included allegations of food contaminated with glass and dead maggots, as well as other foreign objects including a cigarette found in a fruit brack; wire in takeaway food and a metal bolt found in a tin of grapefruit.  

All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by the HSE’s environmental health officers.

The FSAI said the increased activity reflected a demand among food businesses for information about labelling requirements and resources for food business start-ups, as well as a growing awareness among consumers of the need to report poor hygiene practice.

All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by the HSE’s environmental health officers throughout the country.

Name and shame, Irish style

Nine Irish restaurants and take-aways were closed due to food safety breaches in January.

ireland.pubAn Eddie Rockets diner and a Spar store were among two of the businesses told to close their doors last month by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

While revealing the closure orders, Professor Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of FSAI warned standards cannot slip to a level that consumer health is put at risk.

He said: ” It is not acceptable for any food business to potentially put their customers’ health at risk. Every food business should be striving to meet the high food safety and hygiene standards that the majority of food businesses achieve on a daily basis.

“We’re urging food businesses to make sure that they have a food safety management system in place and that it is consulted on a regular basis and updated, where necessary, to ensure non-compliance issues and breaches of food safety legislation don’t occur.”

Campy hasn’t stabilized in Ireland

Within Ireland, the Food Safety Authority (FSAI) today stated that campylobacteriosis continues to be the most commonly reported foodborne illness in Ireland with 10 times more cases of campylobacteriosis being reported than salmonellosis. 

campy.chickenSome 2,288 cases of food poisoning due to Campylobacter were recorded in 2013, compared to over 2,600 in 2014.* The FSAI noted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) annual figures for foodborne illness published today which suggests that the campylobacteriosis figures across Europe have stabilised, but that is not the experience in Ireland. 

The FSAI states that the figures recorded by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland are the highest since campylobacteriosis became legally notifiable in 2004 and requires cross industry and consumer responses to be undertaken to tackle the problem.  The FSAI would support setting a microbiological hygiene standard for poultry meat at European level.  This would create a maximum tolerance level for Campylobacter in poultry which could be reviewed over time.  A similar approach was adopted as part of European controls for Salmonella which proved successful.

According to Dr Wayne Anderson, Director of Food Science and Standards, FSAI, salmonellosis was a major issue in Ireland 15 years ago, but due to the efforts of the Irish industry to control and reduce Salmonella contamination in eggs and poultry there has been a radical decrease in its incidence and impact on public health.

 “A similar effort is now required to reduce Campylobacter infections which can be serious and life threatening in vulnerable people. For Salmonella control, regulations were put in place which set a maximum tolerance for Salmonella in raw poultry amongst other controls. There is a need to set similar tolerance levels for Campylobacter and this would drive new control measures throughout the food chain to reduce its occurrence,” he says. “If the industry from producer right through to retailer comes together to put in specific measures to reduce the level of Campylobacter on poultry like it did for Salmonella, it would have a positive impact on the number of people becoming sick,” he said.

Second worst year for food closure orders in Ireland

Dead rats, bags of cows’ skins and mold-covered mayonnaise were just some of the reasons for the temporary closure of restaurants and other food outlets this year, according to records released by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

checking-meat-630x343Alison Healy of The Irish Times, writes the records, released under the Freedom of Information Act, also show environmental health officers ordered the temporary closure of premises because of filthy kitchens, rat and mouse droppings, and bizarrely, a wellington filled with cigarette ash.

The wellington was found on the premises of Giles Brothers Fish Shop in Phibsborough, Dublin, where an environmental health officer also found a radiator “covered in filthy cigarette ash”. He said the premises had a “history of non-compliance with food legislation”.

The order was lifted a few days later when the problems were remedied.

While final figures are not yet available for this year, it will be the second worst year on record for the number of closure and other enforcement orders issued.

Some 113 orders were served up until December 23rd, compared with 143 enforcement orders in 2013, which was the highest number to date. In 2012, 109 orders were issued.

Dr Bernard Hegarty, the authority’s director of service contracts, said environmental health officers were still finding “shocking conditions” in some premises.

“We’re seeing places where inspectors are finding evidence of pest infestations, of cockroaches, rodents and so on. Really there’s no excuse for that,” he said. “And that’s really not where a business should be if it wants to protect the safety and health of its customers.”

He said there were about 48,000 food businesses in the State “so we are still looking at quite small numbers of breaches” but there was no excuse for these breaches.

Ethnic food businesses accounted for more than half of the orders issued this year. Dr Hegarty said the FSAI was providing training initiatives focusing on sectors such as ethnic restaurants.

UK dog found eating raw meat in illegal Co Armagh meat farm

Pictures of a dog eating raw meatd being prepared for the human food chain in an illegal Co Armagh butchery, have been released by a council.

dog meat farmThe owner of the premises Benard Muchan of Back Road, Mullaghbawn was arrested when police visited the shed in October 2012.

He pleaded guilty to ten offences relating to breaches of food safety regulations and was fined £10,000.

Newry and Mourne Council, which took the case, said conditions in the facility were “filthy.”

Environmental health officers called to scene found several beef carcases hanging in a makeshift butchery and cold room.

The council’s assistant director of environmental health Eoin Devlin said: “The premises, food contact surfaces and equipment were found to be in a filthy condition with decaying food debris and blood.