62 sick: Norovirus fingered in Mississippi military retirement home outbreak

The illness sickening residents at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport has been identified as norovirus.

norovirusMedia outlets report that since Monday, 62 residents have become ill and nine have been hospitalized. Affected residents reported symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Testing by the Mississippi Department of Health has confirmed that norovirus is the illness.

The AFRH says it continues to enact precautionary measures, like posted notices about the importance of hand washing and sanitation.

‘You are going to have food outbreaks’ Fewer restaurant inspections bad for Mississippi

According to this editorial from the Sun Herald, Robert Travnicek had a more than 20-year run as the head of the local Health Department, so we listen when he issues a warning.

RestaurantInspectionGradeCReporter Mary Perez contacted Travnicek for her front-page story Tuesday about budget cuts at the Mississippi Department of Health. The state is cutting 20 food inspector positions, which will result in some restaurants being inspected only once a year.

“Food inspection, if I was there, is the last thing I’d cut,” said Travnicek, who can speak more freely now that he’s no longer employed by the state. “Who knows what could happen in a year? You are going to have food outbreaks.”

Two positions were cut on the Coast and three Coastal inspectors were moved to wastewater-related duties.

The decision is troubling for our health, our businesses and our tourism industry in South Mississippi.

Restaurants want to put out a quality product. We get that. But the fear of frequent restaurant inspection ensures there are no corners cut. For comparison purposes, say you knew there were no highway patrolman on the interstate. Would you then drive well above the speed limit?

The inspection process protects you, the consumer.

Fewer inspectors also means restaurants are going to have a more difficult time getting open. Previously, inspectors would typically go out several times to a new facility and help the owner work through the process, Perez reported.

Now, a health department spokeswoman said, “we’re just not funded to do that because of the budget cuts.”

Bad food and bad business is nothing to mess around with.

Numerous violations found at Mississippi slaughterhouses

Some meat processed for consumption in Mississippi has been kicked, contaminated, smeared with feces, left under dripping pipes and stored in insect-infested rooms, according to federal inspection records obtained by The Clarion-Ledger.

Nineteen of the state’s 22 slaughterhouses racked up a combined 470 noncompliance records between May 16 and July 1, as detailed by the USDA Food Safety and BryantsGroceryMeatMkt2009Inspection Service, which places personnel in all federally approved meat processing plants.

A noncompliance record is issued any time a plant fails to meet federal regulations on any one of a host of issues ranging from building maintenance to food safety controls.

The Clarion-Ledger requested the records in July after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video showing abuse at a Pontotoc, Miss., slaughterhouse. That slaughterhouse, Southern Quality Meats, did not appear in the report provided by FSIS.

The records — 300 pages of detailed inspection notes — are a fraction of the 10 years’ worth the newspaper requested and is still awaiting. FSIS provides the data in batches.

Nearly one-third of the records received detail the discovery of feces on randomly selected poultry carcasses before they enter the chiller, which is the last step before being cut up and packaged for consumption.

 

59 confirmed sick: Don Julio’s was the salmonella source in Mississippi

After dancing around the possible source of a salmonella outbreak in Corinth, Mississippi, with lots of reassurances that restaurants were safe, state health types announced what most suspected since Dec. 7, 2011:

“As of today, a total of 59 patrons and employees of Don Julio Mexican Restaurant, 1901 Virginia Lane in Corinth, have had positive cultures confirming the presence of salmonella.”

But this time the health types stressed that “salmonella is no longer an ongoing risk to the public in Corinth, Miss.”

"Our investigation has shown that the incident does not appear to be a food producer or supplier issue," said Northeast Mississippi District Health Officer Dr. Jessie R. Taylor. "It appears to be an isolated problem with this particular restaurant, and the restaurant is working closely with us to correct the problem."

And that’s all … for now.

22 sick with salmonella in Miss; vegetables suspect?

As the number of sick people doubled from 11 to 22 and one restaurant, Don Julio’s, closed voluntarily Thursday, the Cornith, Mississippi, visitors bureau said no one should hesitate to continue supporting area restaurants.

Health officials had found no evidence of any food contamination at Don Julio’s, and it was not ordered to close, a sign on the door said.

However, concern about contamination of vegetables from a supplier and the safety of customers prompted the move.

Don Julio’s and any other restaurant where confirmed salmonella victims say they ate will come under scrutiny, a state health department spokeswoman said Wednesday.

At least 11 sick with salmonella in Mississippi

Officials at Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth, Miss. say the hospital has received 11 positive salmonella cultures since Nov. 28 and some cases have been hospitalized.

A definitive source is yet to be determined.

State health officials have interviewed the patients to find out what foods they’d eaten. They also are taking food samples from local restaurants. No restaurants have been closed by the state.

Is that a lobster in your pants or are you just happy to see me – Mississippi edition

 A man in southern Mississippi is accused of trying to walk out of a D’Iberville grocery store without paying for food items he’d stuffed into his cargo shorts including live lobsters.

Police Chief Wayne Payne says a 35-year-old man was arrested Saturday after allegedly being caught stuffing food into his cargo shorts — two bags of jumbo shrimp, a pork loin and two live lobsters.

Payne says Hardy, of Biloxi, tried to escape by throwing the pork loin at employees at the local Winn Dixie but fell while running away. He was arrested at the scene.

Raw oysters from Louisiana sicken 11 in Mississippi with norovirus

The Louisiana state Department of Health and Hospitals has closed a large section of east bank Plaquemines Parish waters to oyster fishing through at least mid-April, after 11 people in Mississippi – at a seafood conference, repeat, at a seafood conference — became sick after eating oysters believed to be traced to that area.

The Times-Picayune reports the state has also issued a recall of any oysters harvested from that area since March 6, meaning wholesalers must review their records and contact any restaurants, brokers or other buyers who bought oysters from those waters. Under Food and Drug Administration and state health guidelines, oyster dealers are required to have a recall plan in effect.