Minneapolis sees rise in foodborne illness from nororvirus, Vibrio in oysters

When I think Minnesota, I think raw oysters.

No, I never think that about anywhere.

raw.oysters.minnJeremy Olson of the Star Tribune reports that city health inspectors in Minneapolis are investigating a summer increase in foodborne illnesses related to norovirus and Vibrio, a bacteria found in raw oysters.

The increases were highlighted in the city’s “food establishment” newsletter, released Thursday.

“The reason for the spike in norovirus outbreaks is not known,” the advisory stated. “The Vibrio outbreaks are due to higher concentrations of bacteria in some oyster beds during the summer.”

Cases of norovirus, a highly contagious bug that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, are not required to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, but the state agency has received reports of a slight uptick that is unusual for this time of year.

Over 100 sickened at Kansas dinner theatre in Jan.

Beginning with the Jan. 17, 2016 performance at the Overland Park New Theatre dinner theatre, people began complaining of illness. Hundreds of people say they got sick after attending a Johnson County dinner theater in January. Now months later, Abby Eden of FOX 4 has obtained the final report detailing the investigation by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment into what happened.

New-Theater-Restaurant-in-Overland-Park-The report shows the norovirus could have been spread by employees who were already sick- and handling food like the bread, salad, and ranch dressing. The C. perfrigens was found to be associated with the poppyseed dressing and burnt ends- improper temperature settings may have led to that bacteria spreading.

However, the report doesn`t rule out the possibility that a patron brought in the norovirus and spread it through going through the buffet line.

Water cooler common source in Norovirus outbreak in China

Noroviruses are a common cause of acute gastroenteritis around the world; however, reports of outbreaks caused by GII.17 norovirus are rare. An outbreak caused by GII.17 norovirus in a senior high school in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China is reported here.

WatercoolerAn epidemiological investigation, pathogen detection, and case–control study were performed. Epidemiological data combined with the epidemic curve indicated that this outbreak was a point source type initially, followed by secondary transmission. The first case was identified as most likely the source of the outbreak.

Risk analysis showed exposure to patients and sharing a communal water cooler to be associated with the spread of infection. Sequence analysis of GII-positive samples confirmed that the norovirus GII.17 variant was the etiological agent of this outbreak.

An acute gastroenteritis outbreak caused by GII.17 norovirus in Jiangsu Province, China

Chao Shi1, Wei-Hong Feng1, Ping Shi1, Jing Ai, Hong-Xia Guan, Dan Sha, Qian Geng, Jun Mei, Shan-hui Chen, Yong Xiao, Yan-Hua Qian

1Chao Shi, Ping Shi, and Wei-Hong Feng contributed equally to this study.

International Journal of Infectious Diseases, August 2016, Volume 49, Pages 30-32, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2016.05.004


Headline of the week: Chipotle’s decision to open a burger joint is ridiculously stupid

Chipotle has fooled so many people for so long it can say and do almost anything.

But when investors sour, shit gets real.

chipotleBrian Sozzi  of The Street wonders what Chipotle is thinking.

The bruised and battered better burrito joint confirmed Thursday that the first Tasty Made burger restaurant will open this fall in Lancaster, Ohio. Chipotle said the Tasty Made menu will be limited to burger, fries and milkshakes.

Here is why Chipotle’s decision to try and play the role of a bootleg Shake Shack is ill-conceived.

The core Chipotle brand is far from fixed.

Chipotle’s well-paid management team should be 1,000% focused on returning its namesake brand to full health in the wake of several high-profile food safety incidents last year. Judging by Chipotle’s second quarter results, efforts to restore large amounts of goodwill among consumers via free food giveaways, intensified marketing and a new rewards program are not working to a sizable degree.

The company’s second quarter earnings nosedived 80% from the prior year to 87 cents a share. Wall Street estimated earnings of 93 cents a share. Revenue fell 16.6% to $998.4 million, missing Wall Street’s $1.05 billion estimate. Same-store sales plunged 23.6% in the quarter, and are down about 21% so far in July.

Hadley Malcolm of USA Today writes the company’s first burger joint, Tasty Made, is set to open in the fall in Lancaster, Ohio. With it, Chipotle will draw on the game plan it’s banked on for years: a simple menu featuring fresh ingredients. The only items diners can order will be hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes. Burgers will be made from fresh, not frozen beef; the buns will be preservative-free.

Adam Chandler of The Atlantic writes that last week, analysts at the financial-services firm Stifel downgraded its recommendation on Chipotle to “sell” and warned that the company could lose half of its value in the coming months.

“Chipotle was really vulnerable because of their heavy reliance on their claims about their food,” Chris Malone, the co-author of The Human Brand, a book on consumers’ connections to companies, told Business Insider last week. The steady refrain of purity and the constant trill of its motto, “Food With Integrity,” left little room for a contaminated supply chain.

‘It came with them’ Republican convention staffers test positive for Norovirus

Nearly a dozen Republican staffers who are in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention have tested positive for norovirus, public health officials said Wednesday.

norovirusOhio public health officials confirmed reports from Tuesday that a group of staffers from the California delegation had contracted the virus, according to Stat News.

Those infected with the norovirus were part of the advance team for the California delegation, leading to concerns that the bug may spread.

“It came with them,” Erie County Health Commissioner Peter Schade told Stat News.

But public health officials have taken precautions by quarantining those who were believed to be infected, while warning others who may feel under the weather to stay in their hotels.

People say they go to work, even when they shouldn’t

Rae Ellen Bichell of NPR writes that a majority of working adults say they still go to work when they have a cold or the flu. There are some jobs where doing that can have a big effect on health.

sea-sickness1At least half of people who work in very public places, like hospitals and restaurants, report going to work when they have a cold or the flu. Those were among the findings of a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

They are some of the last people you’d want to go to work sick, because they tend to have a lot of contact with people. And that helps spread disease.

“It’s one of the biggest food safety problems that there is, and we’ve known about it forever,” says Kirk Smith, who oversees foodborne outbreak investigations with the Minnesota Department of Health. But he says it’s really hard to get people to stop doing it.

When it comes to food handling, there’s one illness that’s particularly concerning: norovirus. “It is by far the most common cause of foodborne illness,” says Smith. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is responsible for 35 percent of them.

That’s because there are billions of virus particles per gram in stool and vomit. It only takes about 20 of those to get someone sick. And norovirus can hitchhike from surface to surface. It takes a high concentration of bleach to kill it.

“And so it just takes microcontamination of your hands, if you don’t do a perfect job washing, to be able to contaminate food with enough of the virus to infect lots and lots of people,” says Smith.

The same virus has plagued restaurant customers across the country. Last winter, 140 people — including much of the Boston College basketball team — got sick from eating at a Chipotle in Boston where one person had gone to work sick.

“It’s definitely the norm to go into work sick. That’s what I and most of my co-workers usually do,” says Anthony Peeples. He used to work at an Olive Garden restaurant. Now he’s a bartender at a casino in Michigan City, Ind.

The CDC has found that 1 in 5 food service workers has reported working while sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

Depends if you’re in the capital region or NSW: Norovirus outbreak in Australia

Alexandra Back of the Canberra Times reports an isolation ward has been set up at Calvary Hospital and visitors are being discouraged as the hospital works to contain a gastro outbreak.

norovirus-2An intensive care patient was diagnosed with the highly contagious norovirus – that causes fever, cramping, vomiting and diarrhea – Friday last week.

Calvary Hospital chief executive Karen Edwards said there were 16 suspected cases of the virus and the patients were isolated.

The general medical ward 5W has been closed to new admissions and staff movement across the hospital was being restricted.

But one man said his wife, who had a caesarean birth under general anaesthetic two days ago, was rushed out on Thursday, a day early. He was concerned because she was still in a lot of pain.

“My concern is the continuance of care. The whole thing is, there were no options provided, in essence, we’re told they are getting everyone out by 11.30.”

Neighboring NSW Health issued a public health warning after an above average number of people went to emergency with gastro.

ACT Health said viral gastro cases weren’t notifiable in the capital, but the government had not seen a recent spike in cases.

Looks like they picked the wrong week to go to camp: Norovirus outbreak at Christie Lake sends 120 campers home

At least one parent says there’s been a lack of communication between camp officials and parents after it was confirmed all 120 campers at Christie Lake Kids’ first session are being sent home (that’s in Canada).

Christie Lake Kids'A spokesperson confirmed Wednesday about 20 kids fell ill amid what the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit says appears to be a norovirus outbreak.

Natalie Benson, director of fundraising and communications at Christie Lake, says some of the kids had to be hospitalized with what appeared to be severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

“It’s really been brought on, not entirely, by the heat,” she said. “When it’s weather like we’re seeing they really have not a lot of places to get cool and to drink lots of fluids so some of them have become dehydrated as well.”

Benson said the camp was working to contact parents and let them know their kids were coming home, but Robin Lacasse, whose daughter and niece are both at Christie Lake, says she only heard about the cancellation through the news and through word of mouth.

“I should’ve been told already,” she said. “If I didn’t have Facebook, or cell phones, and not everybody watches the news. How many kids are going to get off the bus tomorrow without their families?”

Lacasse’s niece was brought to an emergency room at around 3 a.m. Wednesday and had since been sent back to camp to rest.

Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer of health with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit says norovirus is unique because of how quickly it can spread.

“A very small amount can make an individual sick, which is why it can cause outbreaks,” she says, adding the virus can easily become airborne if one child is vomiting in the vicinity of other kids.

Dr. Stewart says the camp had to close to give staff time to do proper cleaning to have it ready in time for the next session.

Benson says the camp is now working on finding room for the affected children to make sure they can still go to camp this summer.

E. coli, Salmonella, Norovirus: Chipotle, you’re gonna love it

Karlene Lukovitz of MediaPost reports that after battling since last summer to recover from a series of food contamination incidents, Chipotle Mexican Grill has released a new long-form video that returns to its pre-crisis brand messaging about the superiority of its fresh, natural ingredients over typical chipotle.BSfast-food fare.

According to Chipotle, the new video, “A Love Story,” began to be developed 18 months ago, before the restaurant chain’s first two contamination incidents in August 2015. 

Those salmonella and norovirus incidents were followed in Fall 2015 by an E. coli outbreak, and then by separate norovirus incidents in December 2015 and March 2016.

The latest video’s story is about two children who set up competitive all-natural juice stands. As they grow up and establish real businesses, they resort to competing by offering increasingly processed fast food with artificial ingredients. Ultimately, they unite, fall in love, have a family and launch a food truck offering Chipotle-like items in synch with their original standards of natural ingredients and preparation.

With all the natural things like E. coli, Salmonella and Norovirus.

Doesn’t sound like the food safety and marketing hucksters are talking.

In recent months, Chipotle has tried to revive its traffic and sales with free-food offers. But its Q1 2016 same-store sales were down 30%, and it reported its first loss as a public company. Its stock price has dropped by 35% over the past 12 months. 

The new video ends by promoting its latest revival effort: a “summer rewards” program called Chiptopia.

280 sickened with Norovirus: UK carvery victims a step closer to compensation

Nearly 300 people look set to receive compensation after falling ill as a result of a norovirus outbreak at Exeter’s Toby Carvery.



Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing those affected, said they have reached the next stage of their legal battle after restaurant owners Mitchells & Butlers Retail Ltd admitted breach of duty to the group.

This means the company will pay compensation to all clients who can establish that their illness and other related losses, such as lost earnings, were caused through the breach of duty.

A total of 280 people instructed the specialist public health department at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the cause of an illness outbreak over the Easter period in April 2015 during which the restaurant was closed on more than one occasion for deep cleaning.

The law firm has now secured the admission from the company which means victims are one step closer to receiving fair settlements for the illness they suffered, which left many unable to work for a number of days and ruined other customers’ holidays in the area.

It is estimated that total damages for the group action will be over £500,000, though lawyers are still gathering medical evidence.

Those seeking compensation include John Williams, 68, from Bangor, Wales, who was staying at the Exeter Arms on holiday when he fell ill with diarrhoea and sickness. The symptoms he suffered lasted three weeks and ruined his holiday.

He said: “The symptoms I suffered were absolutely horrendous and stayed with me long after I left Exeter and returned home to Wales. It really did take its toll on me.

“I don’t think enough was done to control the outbreak at the pub and the hotel and I hope that the management has learned lessons from what happened last year so this never happens again.

“The Exeter Arms failed to inform me before travelling to the restaurant and hotel that there were problems with illness. My holiday was absolutely ruined and I want to know why more wasn’t done to control the outbreak.”