Recall of fresh mussels in Ireland: due to presence of DSP (diarrhetic shellfish poisoning)

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is advising consumers of a food recall of fresh mussels supplied from Wednesday of this week to some retail stores throughout Ireland.  The mussels were harvested from Roaringwater Bay, Co. Cork on Monday and Tuesday of this week and may contain harmful levels of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) toxins.  These mussels were sold loose and in bags at fresh fish counters in some retail outlets nationwide.  The FSAI is warning consumers who may have the product at home not to eat the affected mussels. The implicated mussels have now been removed from sale.

Symptoms of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain which can start between 30 minutes to a few hours after ingestion. Complete recovery occurs within a number of days.

The FSAI is warning consumers who may have the mussels to check with the store where they purchased them and not to eat them if they are implicated in this recall.

Guidance on sous vide cooking for caterers in Ireland

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has develop guidelines for sous vide, which is French for ‘under vacuum’, is a method of cooking where food is vacuum-packed in a plastic pouch and heated in a temperature controlled bath for a defined length of time. This cooking method can present some food safety risks which should be identified and controlled. These include the potential for survival and growth of bacteria that can grow under the anaerobic (absence of oxygen) conditions created by the vacuum packaging, e.g. Clostridium botulinum.sous vide ireland Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.17.57 PM

Due to the rise in the use of the sous vide cooking in restaurants and catering establishments, the FSAI has prepared a factsheet which highlights the risks associated with this method of cooking. It provides guidance on managing these risks, in particular guidance on cooking temperatures and times. It also makes recommendations for cooling, storing and reheating food that has been cooked by sous vide.

Click here for the guidelines.

Staff at Irish hospital ‘terrified’ of contracting E. coli

A member of the domestic staff at Craigavon Area Hospital saysCraigavon-Area-Hospital1 she and others are “terrified” of contracting E.coli O157 after being asked to clean the kitchen where it was found.

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that the bacteria had been detected in the main public canteen.

The domestic assistant, who contacted the Portadown Times, said she and other staff were alerted to the situation on Tuesday, when they were called in to a meeting.

She said all domestic staff had been asked to hand in their uniforms for swab tests and were also asked to submit a stool sample.

She criticised the hospital for the lack of information they had received since then and also expressed concern that she and other staff had been asked to go in and clean the kitchen.

“The staff are not happy. We are terrified that we are going to catch it,” she said.

However, a trust spokesperson said any cleaning is conducted under stringent environmental health guidelines and that staff are issued with all the necessary protective clothing.

Meanwhile, the canteen remains open and hot food is continuing to be served – as the bacteria cannot exist in it – but the salad and sandwich bars have been closed until all tests have been completed.

Planning for next food scare top priority for Ireland’s new food safety head

Food scares will always come and go, whether it’s horse meat, dioxins in pork or BSE. But when the next crisis arrives, there will be a new face leading the response at the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

pamela.byrne.fsaiDr Pamela Byrne (right, exactly as shown) became chief executive of the agency in March, taking over from Prof Alan Reilly. The environmental toxicologist from Cork is the first woman to head the authority but she won’t feel outnumbered because 75 per cent of her staff are female.

There are about 80 people working in the agency but she has received sanction from the Department of Health to fill several vacancies that remained unfilled because of the State recruitment embargo.

She says her job is to protect consumers’ health and that ensuring that all food ingredients are traceable is a key part of this. “Traceability within food business systems is going to be critically important,” she says.

“With globalisation of the food supply chain, we have ingredients coming from a number of different sources. We have products coming in from a number of different sources. And we have a lot of products going out.

“With the intended expansion of the food industry, it’s going to be really important that robust traceability systems are in place. And it’s also going to help us in terms of understanding where there might be new and emerging risks.”

The value of food and drink exports has grown from €7.1 billion in 2009 to €10.5 billion but Byrne says this growth also presents challenges. “As anything gets bigger there’s always going to be a need to make sure that those systems are fit for purpose. Food businesses are sourcing ingredients from all over the world and they must make sure their suppliers are reputable.” Exotic tastes But with increasingly exotic tastes being catered for, isn’t it impossible to ensure that all 21 ingredients in one recipe, for example, can be traced back to source and vouched for? “No, I don’t think it’s impossible,” she says. “A reputable food business operator who is sourcing ingredients from multiple sources all over the world should put in the systems to make sure that they are convinced of the reputable nature of every supplier.”

She says the horse meat crisis heightened everyone’s awareness of what can go wrong in the food industry.

So where will the next food scare come from? The authority is working with its European counterparts in investigations into the substitution of lower-value fish species for higher-value species, and the passing off of lower-quality honey as manuka honey.

Byrne also says her agency and the Department of Agriculture are leading a drive to reduce outbreaks of the food-poisoning bacterium campylobacter and are bringing chicken producers, processors and retailers together to do this.

In other Irish news, 15 enforcement orders – 14 closures and one prohibition — were served on food businesses in May, the highest number of closures in one month so far this year.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI warns that the legal onus is on food businesses to act responsibly and ensure that the food they serve and sell is safe to eat at all times.  She states that every Closure Order undermines the confidence consumers should expect to have in the safety of the food they eat. This has negative implications not only for the premises involved, but for the wider food industry.

“Most food businesses follow high standards and are compliant with food safety legislation.  However, inspectors continue to encounter cases where consumers’ health is jeopardised through a failure to comply with food safety and hygiene requirements,” says Dr Byrne says.  “There can be no excuse for such breaches and negligent practices. They are avoidable when food businesses have proper food safety management systems in place.”

Salmonella in tumeric in Ireland

The FSAI has issued a warning that a spice sold in Ireland could be carrying traces of Salmonella.

tumeric.ireland.salmThe spice is a ground tumeric root that comes in 50g batches.

It is mostly sold in Eastern European food outlets under the name ‘Kurkumawurzel’ and is being recalled by food producer Monolith Mitte Gmbh.

The product originates in Germany and the batches carrying the Salmonella infantis are not safe to eat.

Businesses that sold this particular spice are required to put up ‘point of sale’ notices alerting people to the batch.

The batches that are being recalled have best before dates of 31/12/2016; 28/02/2017 and 31/03/2017.

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. 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.