Beware the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli in sheep shit: Goat yoga is a thing in Oregon

I’m really glad the folks in Portland, Oregon have stopped demonstrating about Dump-a-Trump, and are going back to their old ways – like having yoga with goats.

goat-yoga-portlandThe No Regrets Farm in Albany, Oregon, is offering what it calls Goat Yoga classes.

The sessions take place outside. While participants stretch and pose, the animals wander around or sit on mats and wait to be pet, said Lainey Morse, who owns and lives on the farm.

Morse launched the program last month, and it was an instant hit, she told The Huffington Post. The remaining two classes of the season have filled up already, and her waiting list for next year is more than 500 people long, she added.

Though people have been taking the class for a suggested donation of $10, that price will likely change in the future due to demand.

To sign up for a class, people can visit the Goat Yoga Facebook page, where the class schedule and updates are posted.

“They are gentle and peaceful and just want attention,” the farm owner told HuffPost of the goats.

People seem to enjoy their experiences with the class. In fact, one participant, a cancer patient, was flooded with emotion when taking it, according to Morse.

What’s behind Oregon’s Marionberry mania?

I love the berries, especially the tart blackberries.

marion-barry-1They grew voraciously in my aunt’s backwoods where as kids, we’d pick them by the bucketful. She also made great pies.

According to Tove Danovich of NPR, blackberries also grow voraciously in the Pacific Northwest and it’s not rare to stumble across rural barns or abandoned homes that have been completely consumed by the thorny vine. Let them grow too close to a window, and they’ll break the glass. They’re common — easy to forage and hard to get too excited about. At least compared to the marionberry, a type of blackberry that has become an Oregon obsession.

One of the reasons the marionberry is so beloved is because it is entirely a product of Oregon. It’s “born and raised” in state, so to speak.

The marionberry, a cross between Chehalem and Olallie blackberries, was bred at Oregon State University as part of a berry-developing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that dates back to the early 1900s. It’s named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, where most of the field trials took place (not for former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, right, exactly as shown).

marionberryWhen the berry was introduced in the 1950s, it was widely hailed as the most delicious blackberry commercial cultivar around. Even today, people rave over its tart-yet-sweet flavor — think of a cross between raspberries and blackberries. (Though there is some raspberry in its DNA, the red fruits are more like a genetic great-great grandparent to the marionberry.)

MNA fighter’s Listeria death shines light on illness

Amy Frazier of KOIN 6 reports the death last week of MMA fighter Chael Sonnen‘s newborn daughter from a listeria infection shined a spotlight on the foodborne illness.

Brittany-Smith-Chael-Sonnen-girlfriend-pictures1Sonnen, a West Linn native described as “one of the most polarizing figures in MMA,” talked about his baby, Blauna, on his podcast. She was born 10 weeks prematurely, and both she and his wife, Brittany, were diagnosed with listeriosis, said MMA official Jeff Meyer.

The CDC said listeriosis is usually caused by eating contaminated food and primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

“It is worrisome in pregnancy because there is the chance a pregnant woman can pass the infection on to her fetus and that can cause potentially serious complications like miscarriage, still birth, preterm labor. So it can be serious in pregnancy,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the Deputy Health Officer for the Multnomah County Health Department.

“It’s an illness that would be hard to distinguish from others, so we talk about flu-like symptoms,” she said — fever, muscle aches, feeling tired, vomiting and diarrhea.

Vines said listeria is rare among pregnant women. Over the past 5 years, she said there’s been about 10 cases of listeria, “and of those, only 2 of those have been pregnant women.”

She suggested pregnant women steam hot dogs or deli meats, avoid unpasteurized cheeses and avoid cross-contamination from the water in the package to any other foods, like a salad.

“You’d want to avoid any unpasteurized milk and then any unpasteurized milk that’s used to make cheese,” Vines said.

Handwashing is never enough: E. coli outbreak suspected at Oregon fair

Washington County health officials are investigating after cases of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli were reported after some attendants at the Washington County Fair became ill.

Microbiologist Mi Kang works to identify a strain of E. coli from a specimen in a lab at the Washington State Dept. of Health Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Shoreline, Wash. Chipotle's industry-leading commitment to tracking its ingredients from farm to table is being put to the test by an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 37 people as of Tuesday, nearly all of whom ate recently at one of the chain's restaurants in Washington state or Oregon. Scientists also said that they identified the specific microorganism responsible, which they believe was carried on fresh produce such as lettuce or tomatoes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

No sources has been identified, but public health officials said that livestock at the Washington County Fair may have been a cause, as well as food items brought to the fair from outside.

According to Washington County, anyone who attended the Washington County Fair and has had, or develops, symptoms of stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or fever, should call their health care provider.

“The best way to prevent getting STEC infection is by washing hands well with soap and water,” Baumann said. “It’s very important to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, before preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals or their environments at farms, petting zoos and fairs.”

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-5-5-16.xlsx

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interations

Zoonoses and Public Health 62:90-99

Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman and D. Powell, 2015

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12117/abstract?deniedAccess

 Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. ‘It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the USA caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

Nuts to you: Organic raw macadamia nuts recalled because of Salmonella

Ashland Food Co-op of Oregon is recalling Organic Raw Macadamia nuts because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

macadamia.organic.salmAshland Food Co-op (AFC) sold affected Organic Raw Macadamia nuts in random weight bags between January 5th, 2016 and February 4th, 2016. The nuts have a one month shelf life if refrigerated and were packaged in clear cellophane bags of random weights with an AFC bulk label.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with AFC product. We initiated this recall because we were notified by our supplier, Hummingbird, of the bulk Organic Raw Macadamia nuts recall.

Oregon public health employee faked 56 infection case reports

A former employee in the public health division of the Oregon Health Authority committed misconduct in 56 case reports about Clostridium difficile infections in Klamath County, Oregon, as well as in a manuscript submitted to JAMA Internal Medicine and a published report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in March, 2012.

faking.itRyan Asherin, previously a Surveillance Officer and Principal Investigator at the OHA,

falsified and/or fabricated fifty-six (56) case report forms (CRFs) while acquiring data on the incidence of Clostridium difficile infections in Klamath County, Oregon. Specifically, the Respondent (1) fabricated responses to multiple questions on the CRFs for patient demographic data, patient health information, and Clostridium difficile infection data, including the diagnoses of toxic megacolon and ileus and the performance of a colectomy, with no evidence in patient medical records to support the responses; and (2) falsified the CRFs by omitting data on the CRFs that clearly were included in patient medical records.

In addition, Asherin was found guilty of “falsifying and/or fabricating data” that appeared in the research record of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a manuscript sent to JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2013, and a paper about C. diff that appeared in the CDC’s MMWR journal. The paper — about a potentially deadly infection that’s a common feature of healthcare settings — has been cited 75 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Some of these messy data also made their way into 2012 presentations to the CDC and the 11th Biennial Congress of the Anaerobe Society, according to the ORI report.

The OHA told us Asherin no longer works there.

Preventative pasteurization for Hazelnut Growers of Oregon

Hazelnut Growers of Oregon is starting up its large Napasol Pasteurization line this week, effectively bringing in house a state-of-the-art process to eliminate any potential foodborne pathogens. The performance of the Napasol process is validated for a 5-log kill on Salmonella and other pathogens on hazelnuts and other nuts and seeds.

hgobannerOregon is the largest producer of Hazelnuts in the U.S. In business since 1984, the 150 growers that are members of the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon cooperative cultivate 10,000 acres of prime hazelnut orchards in the Willamette Valley. The region’s gentle climate and abundant rainfall grows trees that produce large nuts of exquisite flavor and freshness. Westnut, their industrial ingredients division, is the largest processor and marketer of hazelnuts in North America. Hazelnuts are processed in the Cornelius facility which handles 25 million lbs. of in-shell hazelnuts and 5 million lbs. of hazelnut kernels.

Pathogens such as Salmonella have been involved in foodborne illnesses and product recalls in several kinds of nuts including Hazelnuts. Jeff Fox, President of Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, points out that “the number of samples from the field that test positive warrants this investment to protect the interest of their growers and the commercial development of the cooperative” adding that “whole industry sectors are taking proactive measures to protect their markets, for example mandatory pasteurization of almonds has been in place since 2007.”

Napasol offers an ideal solution, because nuts are treated at relatively low temperatures and the saturated steam is dry, the process preserves the sensory attributes of the raw nuts while delivering the most effective microbial reduction on the market. The process is validated for the pasteurization of a wide range of nuts including hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamias, and Brazil nuts.

“There is a clear trend in the industry for a demand for pasteurization of nuts, for example for pistachios and walnuts, two other large US crops involved in recalls” says Dieter Kundig CEO of Napasol. He adds “This investment gives a unique advantage to Hazelnut Growers of Oregon and also anticipates regulatory measures that will affect the entire nut industry with the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and with the outcome of FDA’s ongoing tree nut risk assessment.”

Oregon deserves regular, visible grocery inspections

Following up on the series of articles by Tracy Loew about grocery store inspection disclosure in Oregon, her paper, the Statesman Journal, comes out in favor of full disclosure.

image4Good for them.

In Oregon, it is difficult for consumers to learn whether the food at their favorite grocery store is handled safely.

That is the state’s fault.

And that is unconscionable.

The understaffed Oregon Department of Agriculture lags far behind the nationally recommended schedule for store inspections. Even worse, the public cannot easily learn what the inspectors found.

As the Statesman Journal’s Tracy Loew reported last week in stories that should raise legislators’ ire, the Agriculture Department has a huge backlog of grocery store inspections. Some stores have not been inspected for years, even though the federal government recommends inspections every six months.

State agriculture officials say that is because they prioritize inspections based on which activities in the food chain represent the greatest risk to public health and which facilities have a history of problems. That approach sounds defensible from a risk-analysis viewpoint, but it leaves widespread holes in the food-safety system.

The number of serious violations found in grocery store inspections can be astounding. Some — food being sold past the expiration date, food stored at the wrong temperature and food-handling equipment that is unclean — are enough to make the stomach turn.

The Agriculture Department inspection staff is stretched too thin. And some legislators say the situation is not unique to that department.

deli.counterThe 2015 Legislature should undertake a thorough review of inspections conducted by the state’s licensing and regulatory agencies, including:

•Do the inspections serve the purposes for which they were intended?

•Should the inspection process be streamlined? Intensified? Eliminated?

•How are inspections financed, and is staffing appropriate for the workload?

•Are inspection reports promptly posted online, where they are easily available for public view?

For grocery stores, another question desperately needs answering: Should county health departments be given the duty — and the state funding — to inspect grocery stores.

Counties already inspect restaurants. Grocery stores have added delis and other restaurant-style options to meet Americans’ changing lifestyles. For many people, a quick stop at the grocery store has replaced either eating at home or dining out.

In contrast to the backlog in grocery store inspections, about 95 percent of Oregon restaurant inspections are completed on time. The Oregon Health Authority is responsible for those restaurant, cafe and food-cart inspections but delegates that work to counties.

Because grocery stores operate on slim profit margins and face intense competition, it’s in their best interests to have the cleanest, healthiest food handling, display and storage. Some stores have increased their own inspections to compensate for the infrequency of state inspections. That is to their credit.

Still, inspections throughout the food chain are among government’s most important roles. A government inspection report, especially one that the public easily can see, adds clout to the importance of food safety.

It is baffling that the Agriculture Department this year created a database to track inspections and findings but planned the database only for internal management use instead of posting the results online. That suggests misplaced priorities and misunderstanding of the importance of transparency. In contrast, Marion County has an easy-to-use public database of restaurant inspections.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and legislators have a duty to bring Oregon from one of the least progressive states on food-to-table inspections to one of the best. This is an issue of public health, accountability and transparency.

Oregonians should not have to file a public records request and pay a fee for a copy of a grocery store’s inspection report.

Oregonians should not be left in the dark about their neighborhood grocery stores.

Oregonians should expect that their state government ensures their food safety — regularly and publicly.

How safe is a grocery store in Portlandia? It’s not easy to find out

In Cincinnati, Chicago or Washington, D.C., grocery store customers can go online to check out their favorite stores’ latest inspection report.

portlandia-we-can-pickle-thatAt least eight states and many counties and cities across the country post full copies of retail food inspections online. Many other states and municipalities offer online access to, at a minimum, an establishment’s last inspection date and score.

Tracy Loew of the Statesman Journal writes that in Oregon, customers are left in the dark.

Oregon adopted the FDA Food Code, which recommends inspection reports be public documents. But there is no requirement that they be publicly posted or made easily available.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Department of Agriculture created a new database to track food inspections and results. But the system was designed for internal use only, said Mark Stuller, an ODA information systems specialist.

Downloading the data, stored in a program called Filemaker Pro, would take a $30-an-hour analyst at least four hours, Stuller said, as would downloading any updates.

Oregon officials haven’t discussed putting the database online or otherwise making it accessible to consumers, said Frank Barcellos, an ODA food safety program manager.

To get a paper copy of an inspection report, customers must file a formal request under Oregon’s public records law and pay a minimum $15 search fee plus copying costs.

The system is in stark contrast to restaurant inspections, which are available online in Marion and the state’s other most-populous counties.

The Statesman Journal paid $109.50 for copies of inspection reports for the largest stores in Salem and Keizer.

In a follow-up story, leading food safety experts say Oregon officials have a responsibility to make grocery and food processing inspections publicly available.

“The more information you give them, the more consumers are able to make really good decisions to keep themselves safe,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle food-safety lawyer and founder of Food Safety News. “If a grocery store has a bad track record of safety, the public has a right to know that.”

Portlandia_veganOn Sunday, the Statesman Journal reported that while the Oregon Department of Agriculture aims to inspect grocery stores, bakeries, food storage warehouses, dairies and other food establishments once a year, it misses that target by a third.

Grocery stores, in particular, are being neglected. More than half have not had an inspection in the past year, and five percent haven’t had an inspection for more than three years.

Oregon doesn’t give retail food and food processors scores or letter grades. And, consumers who want a copy of their store’s last inspection must file a formal public records request and pay a minimum $15 search fee.

It’s a stark contrast to Oregon’s restaurant inspections, which are conducted by county health departments and overseen by the Oregon Health Authority. OHA reported 95 percent of restaurant inspections were completed on time, and it complies a yearly report with results. Most large counties also make restaurant inspection results easily available.

“There are two issues here – the inspections and the disclosures. Oregon is lacking in both,” said food safety expert Doug Powell, creator of barfblog.com. “What you’re talking about is things that make people sick.”

Powell, a former Kansas State University food safety professor who has published a number of peer-reviewed papers on the subject, said restaurants are the focus of the public attention because it’s easier to pinpoint outbreaks when everyone reporting illness has eaten the same meal.

“It’s a farm-to-fork problem,” he said. “There are vulnerabilities all along the system. Everyone has a responsibility all along the system to provide safe food. (Oregon regulators) should have a responsibility to make that data publicly available.”

The newspaper has reached out to legislative leaders on the issue.

In an email response Sunday, Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli didn’t address funding or transparency.

qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeBut, he said, “Any system so complex and with so many players inevitably fails on occasion. That’s where the educated consumer comes in. The person in the family who prepares and serves meals is ultimately responsible for making sure that all foods, even pre-packaged foods are washed before storing, kept under proper refrigeration, cooked hot enough to kill.

Such terrible advice. But he’s a politician, not a food safety type.

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009.

The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.

Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

Investigation of E. coli outbreak at Oregon Montessori school closed and remains a mystery

The E. coli outbreak at a West Linn Montessori school that sickened three children will remain a mystery, with health officials announcing Monday they have wrapped up the investigation without evidence pointing to the cause.

West-Linn-MontessoriInvestigators combed Heart Centered Montessori School, taking environmental samples that were tested for E. coli. All students and staff were tested as well. Those tests yielded nothing, according a news release.