S. Korean men investigated after eating missing sheepdog

South Korean police say they are investigating accusations that four men killed someone’s missing sheepdog before eating it in a case that has infuriated many and caused debate on the country’s dog-eating culture.

sam-sheepdog-wolfPolice official Choi Won-kyu, from the rural city of Iksan, said Friday the men admitted to butchering and eating the dog but they said they found it dead on the side of the road.

Choi says a witness claimed seeing the dog hurt but alive hours before the men butchered it.

Although the popularity of eating dog meat is fading somewhat in South Korea, an estimated 2 million dogs are still slaughtered every year for food.


Gary Acuff on process validation

Gary Acuff is the antithesis of Hunter S. Thompson.

acuff2007Champan and I call him the nicest guy in food safety, but who knows — everyone in those U.S. college towns acts like they came from an audition for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, or Blue Velvet.

My friend Gary, a Texas A&M professor of food microbiology, got a nice write-up in MeatingPlace about the importance of validation.

His research has focused on improving the microbiological quality and safety of red meat in all areas of production and utilization. Most recent activities have centered on the effective use of surrogate bacteria for validating process controls in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems.

Meatingplace sat down with Acuff after he addressed this year’s Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, Ill.

Meatingplace: What are some of the biggest challenges these processors face in validating their food safety processes?

ACUFF: Maybe the biggest challenge is getting their arms around it because they are convinced that their process works or they wouldn’t be doing it. A typical response is to show negative product samples, but that doesn’t prove your process is working; it just proves that you had a lot of negative samples. Validation is taking a deeper step to actually find the data or generate the data to prove that their process does exactly what they say it is doing. And that’s been difficult for people to start thinking about how to do that.

The next hardest concept becomes not having enough pathogen on their product to show a three-log kill. The answer is, we know you don’t have three logs on there, but we want to know what your process would do if you did have three logs because some day three logs may show up.

Meatingplace: What is the appropriate use of the scientific literature in terms of the validation process?

ACUFF: The scientific literature should be where you start. That’s what you pull out and say, “It looks like we can do something like this and add some control to our process.” I’m not sure that you can take it much further than that.

Meatingplace: When are microbiological studies from laboratories useful and when are they dangerous?

ACUFF: It’s another step. You have the scientific literature. Now you want to try and apply that to your process. If you take that scientific literature and go straight out to the process then you’re going to have a lot of hits and misses before you are successful. But if you do a challenge study in the laboratory you can actually use the pathogen so that gives you even stronger data because you’re looking at the behavior of the pathogen. At the same time, you can run the surrogate organisms parallel to that and use that data to reflect or extrapolate when you use the surrogate in your process.



1000 tons of meat seized in South China some ‘soaked in bleach’

Police in China’s southern province of Guangdong have seized $12.3 million of potentially hazardous frozen meat including some reportedly soaked in bleach.

goodfellas-body-meat-freezer-09Sixteen suspects were detained in the raid late last week, say local police, who uncovered 1,000 tons meat and offal — chiefly from the U.S., Brazil and Thailand — on a vessel near Dangan Island by the city of Shenzhen.

“A criminal gang that used to smuggle frozen meat products, along with marine smuggling channel in Guangdong waters, were busted in the crackdown,” said a police statement, reports the state-backed China Daily newspaper.

Police said some of the haul — including beef cuts, tripe, tongue and chicken wings — had been soaked in bleach in order to clean the meat and increase its weight. A kilogram of beef weighs more than 1.5 kg after soaking in highly toxic bleach, said police, warning that the doctored meat would have “seriously harmed people’s health.”


Q fever outbreak in Melbourne’s west

Julia Medew of The Age reports that health officials are investigating an outbreak of a rare and potentially serious infectious disease among meat workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

q.feverPeople working in and around Vic Wide Meat Brokers and W J Drever in Laverton North are being tested for Q fever after six employees of the two meat businesses fell ill with it.

Other staff working at the site and at similar businesses nearby are now being contacted to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease which usually produces flu-like symptoms and can cause pneumonia and liver inflammation. While only half of all people infected with it get symptoms, it is fatal for one to two per cent of those people.

The Victorian department of health is now writing to contractors who may have visited the site since late last year to provide them with advice about signs and symptoms. The businesses are located at 9 Holcourt Road in Laverton North.

“Both the Department and WorkSafe officials have visited and inspected the premises to check on the vaccination status of other staff, and arrange testing and vaccinations, as required,” said Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest. “At this stage there is no broader public health issue as our investigation shows all exposures have been confined to the site and have occurred in the workplace.”


Australian farmers’ markets branded meat risk

Kath Sullivan of The Weekly Times reports that farmers’ markets put the reputation of Victoria’s meat exporters at risk, according to the former MeanGirls_162Pyxurzchairman of the ­industry’s Victorian regulator, PrimeSafe.

Tempy farmer Leonard Vallance criticised the Victorian Government’s handling of meat safety, and its relationship with the regulator, as he completed his term as PrimeSafe chairman.

“Farmers’ markets are the achilles heel of the Victorian food industry,” he said. “The reputational risk to our export markets is massive … they (farmers’ markets) are nowhere near adequately regulated.”

In Victoria, PrimeSafe regulates meat processors, including all butchers, abattoirs and supermarkets, but compliance of farmers’ markets is a local government responsibility.

“Local government would be fine if they were doing their job properly,” Mr Vallance said. “The issue is that people are selling meat in less than ideal conditions.”

Mr Vallance said the Government had created “double standards” where butcher shops were required to operate under strict conditions, including in a temperature-­controlled environment, but people selling meat in farmers’ markets were not.

“There should be a level playing field for all meat retailers,” he said.

Victorian Farmers Market Association president Wayne Shields said accredited markets complied with the food safety regulation.

“All meat has to be packaged and sealed at a PrimeSafe premises before it can be sold at a market,” Mr Shields said.

He said PrimeSafe “would prefer to snipe from the sidelines,” rather than help small producers.

EFSA advises on meat spoilage during storage and transport

Continuing in the advice vein, the European Food Safety Authority is trying to balance safety and quality when transporting meat.

meat.and.you.simpsonsEFSA had previously advised on the implications for meat safety if two parameters – time and temperature – varied and provided several scenarios for ensuring safety of meat during storage and transport of meat. The Commission subsequently asked EFSA to consider what implications such scenarios would have for the growth of bacteria that cause meat to spoil.

“If the sole consideration was safety, policy makers would have more options on the table to pick from. However, scenarios that are acceptable in terms of safety may not be acceptable in terms of quality,” said Dr. Marta Hugas, Head of EFSA’s Biological Hazards and Contaminants unit.

Current legislation requires that carcasses are chilled to no more than 7C and that this temperature is maintained until mincing. The European Commission wants to revise this legislation to provide industry with more flexibility and asked EFSA’s scientific advice on safety and quality aspects.

Experts also said that effective hygienic measures during slaughter and processing help control contamination with spoilage bacteria.

Fresh or frozen, deep-fried or baked: Reducing E. coli in meatballs

I’d always use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer to account for variations in cooking appliances, degrees of thawdiness (yes, I’m making up words) initial bacterial loads.

meatballs2We investigated the effects of deep-frying or oven cooking on inactivation of Shiga toxin–producing cells of Escherichia coli (STEC) in meatballs.

Finely ground veal and/or a finely ground beef-pork-veal mixture were inoculated (ca. 6.5 log CFU/g) with an eight-strain, genetically marked cocktail of rifampin-resistant STEC strains (STEC-8; O111:H, O45:H2, O103:H2, O104:H4, O121:H19, O145:NM, O26:H11, and O157:H7). Inoculated meat was mixed with liquid whole eggs and seasoned bread crumbs, shaped by hand into 40-g balls, and stored at −20°C (i.e., frozen) or at 4°C (i.e., fresh) for up to 18 h. Meatballs were deep-fried (canola oil) or baked (convection oven) for up to 9 or 20 min at 176.7°C (350°F), respectively. Cooked and uncooked samples were homogenized and plated onto sorbitol MacConkey agar with rifampin (100 μg/ml) followed by incubation of plates at 37°C for ca. 24 h. Up to four trials and three replications for each treatment for each trial were conducted.

Deep-frying fresh meatballs for up to 5.5 min or frozen meatballs for up to 9.0 min resulted in reductions of STEC-8 ranging from ca. 0.7 to ≥6.1 log CFU/g. Likewise, reductions of ca. 0.7 to ≥6.1 log CFU/g were observed for frozen and fresh meatballs that were oven cooked for 7.5 to 20 min.

This work provides new information on the effect of prior storage temperature (refrigerated or frozen), as well as subsequent cooking via deep-frying or baking, on inactivation of STEC-8 in meatballs prepared with beef, pork, and/or veal. These results will help establish guidelines and best practices for cooking raw meatballs at both food service establishments and in the home.

Effect of deep-frying or conventional oven cooking on thermal inactivation of Shiga toxin–producing cells of Escherichia coli in meatballs

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 5, May 2016, pp. 696-889, pp. 723-731(9)

Porto-Fett, Anna C. S.; Oliver, Michelle; Daniel, Marciauna; Shoyer, Bradley A.; Stahler, Laura J.; Shane, Laura E.; Kassama, Lamin S.; Jackson-Davis, Armitra; Luchansky, John B.



Guess he figured no one would notice in Burford: Meat business, owner fined

Burford is a wonderful little hamlet outside of my hometown of Brantford, Ontario. I’m sure it’s a lovely place now, but when I was a teenager it was a destination for and depravity and decadence.

burfordA lot of people had mullets.

 A Burford meat business and its owner have been fined $3,750 for violating provincial food safety law, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

On Jan. 27, 1107053 Ontario Inc., operating as Greenwood Meats, of 124 King St., and owner Thomas Greenwood pleaded guilty in provincial offences court in Brantford to one count each of processing meat products without a licence under the Food Safety and Quality Act, said a media release.

On June 18, 2015, a joint inspection was conducted at Greenwood Meats by regulatory compliance officers of the ministry and the Brant County Health Unit.

During the inspection, Greenwood admitted that about 330 pounds of ready-to-eat meat products were produced on site without a licence under the act, the ministry stated in a media release.

Greenwood had signed a document in 2008 stating that he would not produce this type of meat products at his premises, according to the ministry.

The meat products, valued at about $1,600, were voluntarily condemned so they would not be distributed or sold to the public.

Greenwood and his company were fined a total of $3,000 plus a $750 victim fine surcharge.

I don’t have to close my dirty restaurant I’ll just ignore you: Philadelphia health department finally gets power to shut dirty eateries

Sam Wood of Philly.com writes that for years, whenever the Philadelphia health department discovered a restaurant with hygiene problems that posed a public threat, it has ordered the business to shut down and clean up.

rockey.meat.feb.16And for years, restaurants have been able to ignore those cease-and-desist orders.

That’s set to change in March.

An agreement signed by the health agency and the Department of Licenses & Inspections will give health inspectors the power to shut down problem eateries, said Palak Raval-Nelson, director of Environmental Health Services.

“For so long, we’ve only had a water gun to squirt, and now we’re getting an Uzi,” said Raval-Nelson.

As the policy stands now, if inspectors find inadequate refrigeration, an infestation of mice, or spilled sewage, they can do little more than ask L&I to step in.

“Our authority has been limited to asking for a voluntary closure,” Raval-Nelson said.

Nine times out of 10, proprietors agreed to close, she said. Those who didn’t were referred to L&I.

Under the new agreement, in the works since July 2015, health officials can act on their own, said Chief Deputy City Solicitor Andrew Ross.

“It makes the process more efficient,” Ross said. “We’re not growing any new teeth, we’re just moving them from one mouth to the other.”

The discovery of vermin will trigger an automatic 48-hour closure, Raval-Nelson said.

“It’s very difficult to get rid of vermin in less time,” she said. “You can’t go running around stomping on the mice and roaches.”

Though Philadelphia has resisted issuing letter grades for restaurant sanitation, it has made health reports public through the city’s website. (They are compiled at philly.com/cleanplates.) Public attention to the issue was heightened early last year when about 100 lawyers and students were sickened after eating at Joy Tsin Lau, a frequently cited restaurant in Chinatown.

E. albertii: Prevalence in retail raw meat in China

Escherichia albertii is a newly emerging enteric pathogen that has been associated with gastroenteritis in humans.

e.albertiiRecently, E. albertii has also been detected in healthy and sick birds, animals, chicken meat and water. In the present study, the prevalence and characteristics of the eae-positive, lactose non-fermenting E. albertii strains in retail raw meat in China were evaluated.

Thirty isolates of such strains of E. albertii were identified from 446 (6·73%) samples, including duck intestines (21·43%, 6/28), duck meat (9·52%, 2/21), chicken intestines (8·99%, 17/189), chicken meat (5·66%, 3/53), mutton meat (4·55%, 1/22) and pork meat (2·44%, 1/41). None was isolated from 92 samples of raw beef meat. Strains were identified as E. albertii by phenotypic properties, diagnostic PCR, sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene, and housekeeping genes. Five intimin subtypes were harboured by these strains. All strains possessed the II/III/V subtype group of the cdtB gene, with two strains carrying another copy of the I/IV subtype group. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis showed high genetic diversity of E. albertii in raw meats.

Our findings indicate that E. albertii can contaminate various raw meats, posing a potential threat to public health.

Prevalence of eae-positive, lactose non-fermenting Escherichia albertii from retail raw meat in China

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 01 / January 2016, pp 45-52