Seek and ye shall find: STEC in Ireland

The recent paradigm shift in infectious disease diagnosis from culture-based to molecular-based approaches is exemplified in the findings of a national study assessing the detection of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infections in Ireland. The methodologic changes have been accompanied by a dramatic increase in detections of non-O157 verotoxigenic E. coli serotypes.

wgsChanging diagnostic methods and increased detection of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Ireland

Emerg Infect Dis., Volume 22, Number 9, September 2016, DOI: 10.3201/eid2209.160477

T Rice, N Quinn, RD Sleator, B Lucey

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/9/16-0477_article

739 sickened in 2007: Cryptosporidium outbreak cost Ireland €19m

Paul Melia of the Irish Independent reports a Cryptosporidium outbreak that resulted in 120,000 people being forced to boil their water for five months cost €19m, a new study shows.

cryptoThe 2007 outbreak in Galway cost each household €95 and resulted in one in eight hotel and guesthouse bookings being cancelled.

One in five people in the city refuse to drink the tap water today due to concerns about its safety, the study says.

It found that had the water supply to the city and surrounding areas been subjected to an adequate treatment process costing just €1.6m, it would have resulted in an €11 saving for every €1 invested.

The ‘Economic Assessment of the Waterborne Outbreak of Cryptosporidium Hominis in Galway 2007’ study, which was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says the outbreak lasted for 158 days and resulted in 242 confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis, “although it was likely the actual number affected was far higher”.

– There were 242 notified cases of cryptosporidiosis, with another 497 non-reported cases.

– 45,160 households were affected, and around 120,000 people.

– There was an 80pc increase in bottled water consumption during the outbreak, with a spend of €3.5m. Another €400,000 was spent boiling water.

– Hotels and guesthouses were obliged to provide 4.2 litres of water per day to guests, and the hospitality industry bore costs of €50,000 per day.

Cryptosporidium remains a problem across the country, with the latest data showing that 17 water supplies require upgrades to remove the threat.

The report, compiled by researchers at NUI Galway with an official from the HSE, found that households bore costs totalling €3.9m, the hospitality sector another €8m, while the local authorities spent almost €6m.

Use a thermometer: At least 8 sick from E. coli linked to Son of a Bun’ burgers in Ireland

The proprietors of Cork burger restaurant ‘Son of a Bun’ have said that they are ‘devastated’ by the temporary closure order served upon the business last week.

DKANE 05/10/2015 REPRO FREE Proprietors Niall and Amanda O'Regan at the opening of Son of a Bun, Cork’s newest burger restaurant, creating 31 new jobs on the site of the old Crowley’s Music Store on MacCurtain Street.  The newly renovated 4,500 sq ft restaurant can seat 84 people and offers a selection of mouth-watering burgers using only the best Aberdeen Angus beef, sourced locally in Bandon, Co. Cork.  The burger restaurant is also the first one in Ireland to be approved by the HSE to serve burgers pink. Pic Darragh Kane.

The order follows a HSE investigation into an outbreak of E. coli in the city, which has identified eight cases in adults to date. The HSE said all affected are currently well.

“A Cork food business has been identified as a common link between the cases,” the HSE confirmed yesterday.

Son of a Bun owners Niall and Amanda O’Regan said it was an issue in relation to “structural issues” with the premises.

However in a statement the couple also revealed that “four staff have tested positive to carrying bacteria linked with E .coli”.

The closure order was served last Wednesday, June 29 and the restaurant was shut over the weekend.

While a notice on the door of the premises cited “necessary construction works” as the cause of the closure, it did not make any reference to the closure order.

However the restaurant yesterday issued a statement confirming it had received the closure order.

“Following a complaint, Son of A Bun restaurant has been working with the FSAI to ensure the integrity and quality of food safety at the premises in Cork,” the statement read.

barfblog.Stick It InWhen it opened last October, the owners said Son of a Bun was “the only restaurant approved by the HSE to serve burgers cooked pink”.

However a spokesperson for the HSE yesterday said that it does not award approval to restaurants wishing to serve rare or medium-rare burgers.

And did the bureautypes say that back in Oct.? Did they say anything during subsequent inspections?

Son of a Bun opened last September and has proven a huge hit with burger fans in Cork. It became well-known for its ‘pink burgers’, served rare and medium rare at customers’ requests.

It is understood that Son of a Bun will no longer serve the ‘pink’ burgers when the MacCurtain St restaurant reopens.

Color is irrelevant. Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Food fraud: Ireland wants to separate its cheese from Brits

Provenance of processed foods is a significant quality attribute for many consumers and one for which they are willing to pay a price premium. As a consequence, the fraudulent mislabeling or adulteration of high-value foods now occurs on a global scale.

Artisan_cheese_cover_200Regulatory authorities and food businesses are focusing greater efforts in combating food fraud which can have serious ramifications for both revenue and reputation.

A number of provenance verification schemes have been established in other countries with the express purpose of protecting the denomination of quality associated with particular food products. This includes the Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano protected designation of origin status for artisan cheeses in Italy. There is currently no such scheme for artisan or “farmhouse” cheeses produced on the island of Ireland and yet it is desirable to facilitate a system of provenance confirmation which can provide confidence to consumers in the true geographical origin of artisan cheeses branded as produced on the island of Ireland. It is therefore prudent at this point in time to investigate analytical methods that could be applied to provide consumers with the necessary assurance of the claimed island of Ireland origin of such products.

The concentration and relative ratios of key analytes in a food products such as cheese are mainly influenced by animal diet and geographic location. Several reports from other countries or regions have shown that the use of multivariate analysis of analytical data comprising elemental and isotopic ratio values can provide confirmation of claimed geographic provenance. Given that food animals on the island of Ireland are largely fed a grass-based diet and reside within a discrete insular geographical area, there is potential for developing robust fingerprint models that can characterise indigenous farmhouse cheeses.

Ultimately, the development of robust models will require the demonstration of two properties: (a) models should correctly classify the provenance of all island of Ireland-produced artisan cheeses as originating on the island of Ireland, and (b) models should correctly identify that farmhouse cheeses produced outside the island of Ireland are not of island of Ireland provenance. These two objectives are inseparable in the context of the provenance testing desired and must be demonstrated before any such model can be confidently used in practice. Before this juncture is reached the application of analytical methodologies for the purposes of robust fingerprinting must be investigated.

Artisan_cheese_640_90This project was a technology viability study that set out to do just that. The strategy pursued generated a considerable quantity of baseline analytical data on the elemental and isotopic composition of island of Ireland artisanal cheese as well as a selection of artisanal cheeses from Great Britain and mainland Europe. While it was not possible to confirm the geographic provenance of island of Ireland artisanal cheeses with 100% accuracy, nonetheless trends in some of the data, especially the isotope data, suggest the possibility of effective segregation of island of Ireland from mainland European, if not Great Britain, cheeses.

Therefore the analytical methodologies investigated have been scoped out for this purpose and can now be taken forward and applied in more focused investigations involving artisan cheeses and other foods produced on the island of Ireland.

Irish meat wholesaler ‘committed fraud against the industry’

The Irish Times reports a meat wholesaler which was prosecuted for labelling foreign beef as Irish has been told it had committed a fraud against the wider meat industry.

food-fraudKeelaghan Wholesale Meats, of Ashbourne Industrial Estate in Co Meath, was convicted on six charges of breaches to food safety legislation.

They included falsely declaring Irish origin for beef imported from Poland, Lithuania and Germany.

The company was also found guilty of applying false Irish slaughter and cutting plant codes to packaging labels and of having an inadequate traceability plan for the products. It was fined a total of €16,000.

The District Court judge told the firm that this was a very serious matter and constituted a fraud not only on the consumer, but on the entire industry.

In a statement following the court ruling on Friday, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which had investigated the company in conjunction with Meath County Council, welcomed the decision.

The FSAI said the ruling was important for consumer confidence in the system.

“Today’s ruling by the courts reinforces that breaches of food law which are in place to protect consumers’ health and interests will not be tolerated,” said chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne.

“Food businesses are obliged by law to ensure that the information they provide to their customers is accurate.”

She said the industry must ensure robust traceability systems are in place and carry out audits of suppliers to ensure they have appropriate food safety mechanisms.

8 sick with E. coli O26: Children’s nursery in Ireland closed

The Irish News reports a children’s nursery in Co Down has been closed following an E. coli outbreak.

daycare_children_pictures_242_op_800x533Eight cases of the E. coli O26 infection have been identified in children who attend the nursery.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is investigating and confirmed that preliminary test results suggest there may be additional cases.

Dr Neil Irvine, consultant in health protection at the PHA, said: “We are working with colleagues in environmental health and staff in the nursery to identify the source of infection and to help prevent transmission to other children.

“As a precautionary measure, the nursery has been closed for a deep clean and samples taken from all children. The children will be excluded from nursery until negative samples are provided.”

Dr Irvine said people should follow some simple rules to help prevent the spread of E. coli, such as washing hands after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food. He said people with vomiting or diarrhoea should remain at home for 48 hours after last symptoms appear.

If it was so bloody simple, then why do so many get sick?

Childcare centers and water primary source of dangerous E. coli in Ireland

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) are significant for their low infectious dose, their potential clinical severity and the frequency with which they generate outbreaks.

dirty.jobs.daycare.e.coliTo describe the relative importance of different outbreak transmission routes for VTEC infection in Ireland, we reviewed outbreak notification data for the period 2004–2012, describing the burden and characteristics of foodborne, waterborne, animal contact and person-to-person outbreaks.

Outbreaks where person-to-person spread was reported as the sole transmission route accounted for more than half of all outbreaks and outbreaks cases, most notably in childcare facilities. The next most significant transmission route was waterborne spread from untreated or poorly treated private water supplies.

The focus for reducing incidence of VTEC should be on reducing waterborne and person-to-person transmission, by publicizing Health Service Executive materials developed for consumers on private well management, and for childcare facility managers and public health professionals on prevention of person-to-person spread.

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli transmission in Ireland: a review of notified outbreaks, 2004–2012

Epidemiology and Infection, Volume 144, Issue 5, April 2016, pages 917-926, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268815002034

Garvey, A. Carroll, E. McNamara, and P. J. McKeown

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10216060&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

Six closure orders served on Ireland food businesses in February

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reports that six Closure Orders were served on food businesses during the month of February for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010. The Closure Orders were issued by environmental health officers in the Health Service Executive (HSE).

stockwell-artisan-foodsDr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI stated that consumers must be confident at all times that the food they are eating is safe to eat, adding, “There can be no excuse for putting consumers’ health at risk through negligent practices. Food businesses must recognise that they have a legal responsibility to make sure that the food they sell or serve is safe to consume. We are re-emphasising to all food businesses the need for ongoing and consistent compliance with food safety and hygiene legislation. This requires putting appropriate food safety management procedures in place and making sure they are strictly adhered to at all times.”

Cryptosporidium in Ireland’s water supply

There seems to be a lot of Cryptosporidium in Ireland.

Irish Water has identified cryptosporidium contamination in Carraroe’s public supply in Connemara.

cryptoThe discovery came as ten thousand homes and businesses in Cork were issued with boil water notices over fears of contaminated drinking water.

The State utility has advised some 4,700 people dependent on the public supply in Carraroe to boil their water until further notice.

This follows a similar notice issued for Leitir Móir/Tír an Fhia in south and west Connemara in January.

Sinn Féín senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has criticised Irish Water for failing to upgrade the Carraroe scheme when it was directed to by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“This supply has been substandard for years and the EPA have indicated for the last number of years that there has been insufficient protection for cryptosporidium, ”Senator Ó Clochartaigh said.