1 dead, 38 sick at Greece baptism party: Maybe it was the feta

One person is dead and two are in critical condition amongst the 38 people who suffered food poisoning after a baptism party in Aspra Spitia, Viotia, in central Greece.

buffet food

buffet food

The baptism party was held on Saturday and afterwards 38 people were transferred to the hospital with severe gastroenteritis symptoms. Health experts claim it was salmonella that caused the mass food poisoning.

According to local website lamiareport.gr, a 55-year-old man died in the hospital while two others are in intensive care. The 23-year-old son of the man was transferred to an Athens hospital for treatment, while another guest is in intensive care at a Lamia hospital.

A guest who spoke to lamia.gr believes the salmonella was in a specific feta cheese because all the people who ate it ended up in the hospital, while those who didn’t eat the particular cheese showed no gastroenteritis symptoms whatsoever.

Nightmares from camp: Norovirus infects 60 Dutch students on class trip

At least 55 school children from Assen were infected with the Norovirus while on a school trip to a recreation park in Annen, RTV Drenthe reports.

meatballsThe kids are all from primary schools the Marskramer and De Scharmhof. they were visiting the Annen park for a few days.

On Friday about 40 children were suffering from diarrhea, nausea and headaches. Over the weekend another 15 fell sick. GGD doctor Jorien Van Pelt confirmed that they were infected with the highly contagious virus.

Public health service GGD believes that one sick child infected the rest. All children who start showing symptoms are advised to stay at home.

 

Food fraud: EU warns Italy to stop treating squid with hydrogen peroxide

Michael Ramsingh of Seafoodnews.com reports European trade officials have warned Italy to stop soaking its squid in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and shipping it to markets around the EU.

squid-fish-marketItalian officials were notified by the EU Commission’s Ministry of Health that soaking squid in H2O2 currently violates specific food safety regulations.  The practice is legal in the Italian market but is not approved in other member countries.

“The use of this substance as a food additive, therefore, is not authorized in the EU,” the Commission said in a statement. “The Member States have the responsibility to enforce effectively the Union legislation concerning the food chain, which also includes rules applicable to the use of food additives.”

H2O2 is used to treat squid to increase its marketability since it whitens the product on display. The treatment does not pose a health risk for consumers. However, the practice is considered dubious since it is nearly impossible to tell a treated squid product with a non-treated item, which makes it difficult to verify the actual freshness of the item.

NPR: Greenhouse tomatoes and news for the comatose

I always liked it when Stephen Colbert’s alter ego referred to U.S. National Public Radio as state-sponsored jazz.

jazz.street.montpellier.jun.16It seemed so apt.

So 20 years after greenhouse tomatoes from Leamington, Ontario, Canada, became a big thing in the U.S., Dan Charles of NPR has driven to Leamington, to document the biggest concentration of greenhouses in North America.

I’d rather listen to the real French acoustic jazz playing outside my window in Montpellier (right, exactly as shown).

The NPR story is a puff-piece, soothing to the ears and palate (journalists have a more suitable description) that fails to mention the June 6, 2016 ruling in which Kingsville, Ontario-based Mucci Pac Ltd., Mucci International Marketing and two of its executives were ordered to pay $1.5 million in fines in a case filed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for mislabeling Mexican produce as Canadian-grown.

In addition to the fine, the companies will operate under a probation period for three years.

CFIA filed charges against the Mucci companies, general manager Danny Mucci and vice president of sales Joe Spano in 2014. The charges involved fraudulent misrepresentation of country of origin for imported peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers from November 2011 to January 2013.

When the charges were filed, CFIA named the public at large and three retailers — Costco Wholesale, Loblaw Cos. and Sobeys Inc. — as the victims of the misrepresentation.

Mucci International Marketing and Mucci Pac each pleaded guilty to three violations of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and the Canada Agricultural Products Act, according to CFIA.

Mucci and Spano each pleaded guilty to a violation of the Canada Agricultural Products Act.

In a June 7 statement, the Mucci companies said CFIA investigators found “anomalies in our computer records.”

tomato“We take responsibility for those mistakes and have promised to make every reasonable effort to ensure that this does not occur in the future,” according to the statement.

The companies said that they were guilty of “regulatory offenses,” which is not the same as admitting they committed a crime.

In a statement, the Leamington-based Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers said the mislabeling of produce is an issue “of great concern” to its grower members.

“We view the convictions as a serious matter, and we will be reviewing the evidence presented in this case and will take whatever actions that we deem appropriate to protect the sector, our producers and consumers.”

Uh huh.

Here’s a couple of more scientific things to consider.

Poop in the greenhouse: Survival of pathogens

Animal manure provides benefits to agriculture but may contain pathogens that contaminate ready-to-eat produce.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards include 90- or 120-day intervals between application of manure and harvest of crop to minimize risks of pathogen contamination of fresh produce. Data on factors affecting survival of Escherichia coli in soils under greenhouse conditions are needed.

Three separate studies were conducted to evaluate survival of nonpathogenic E. coli (gEc) and attenuated E. coli O157:H7 (attO157) inoculated at either low (4 log CFU/ml) or high (6 log CFU/ml) populations over 56 days. Studies involved two pot sizes (small, 398 cm3; large, 89 liters), three soil types (sandy loam, SL; clay loam, CL; silt loam, SIL), and four amendments (poultry litter, PL; dairy manure liquids, DML; horse manure, HM; unamended). Amendments were applied to the surface of the soil in either small or large containers.

Study 1, conducted in regularly irrigated small containers, showed that populations of gEc and attO157 (2.84 to 2.88 log CFU/g) in PL-amended soils were significantly (P < 0.05) greater than those in DML-amended (0.29 to 0.32 log CFU/g [dry weight] [gdw]) or unamended (0.25 to 0.28 log CFU/gdw) soils; soil type did not affect E. coli survival.

food-art-tomatoResults from study 2, in large pots with CL and SIL, showed that PL-amended soils supported significantly higher attO157 and gEc populations compared with HM-amended or unamended soils.

Study 3 compared results from small and large containers that received high inoculum simultaneously. Overall, in both small and large containers, PLamended soils supported higher gEc and attO157 populations compared with HM-amended and unamended soils. Populations of attO157 were significantly greater in small containers (1.83 log CFU/gdw) than in large containers (0.65 log CFU/gdw) at week 8, perhaps because small containers received more regular irrigation than large pots. Regular irrigation of small pots may have affected E. coli persistence in manure-amended soils.

Overall, PL-amended soils in both small and large containers supported E. coli survival at higher populations compared with DML-, HM-, or unamended soils.

Survival and Persistence of Nonpathogenic Escherichia coli and Attenuated Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Soils Amended with Animal Manure in a Greenhouse Environment

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 913-921(9)

Sharma, Manan; Millner, Patricia D.; Hashem, Fawzy; Camp, Mary; Whyte, Celia; Graham, Lorna; Cotton, Corrie P.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000006/art00003

Dunking tomatoes: Potential for Salmonella internalization

Salmonella bacteria may internalize into tomato pulp when warm tomatoes from the field are submerged into colder water.

Several washing steps may follow the initial washing and packing of tomatoes at the packinghouses; the potential for internalization into tomatoes in subsequent washing steps when tomatoes have a cooler pulp temperature is unknown. Our objective was to evaluate Salmonella internalization into mature green and red tomatoes with ambient (21°C) and refrigeration (4°C) pulp temperatures when they were submerged into water at various temperature differentials, simulating repacking and fresh-cut operations.

Red (4°C and 21°C) and mature green (21°C) tomatoes were submerged (6 cm) into a six-strain Salmonella cocktail (6 log CFU/ml) and maintained at ±5 and 0°C temperature differentials for varying time intervals, ranging from 30 s to 5 min. Following submersion, tomatoes were surface sterilized using 70% ethanol, the stem abscission zone and blossom end epidermis were removed, and cores were recovered, separated into three segments, and analyzed. Salmonella populations in the segments were enumerated by most probable number (MPN).

The effects of temperature differential and maturity on Salmonella populations were analyzed; results were considered significant at a P value of ≥0.5. Internalized populations were not significantly different (P ≥0.5) across temperature differentials. Salmonella internalization was seen in tomatoes under all treatment conditions and was highest in the segment immediately below the stem abscission zone. However, populations were low (typically >1 log MPN per segment) and varied greatly across temperature differentials. This suggests that the temperature differential between tomatoes and water beyond the initial packinghouse may be less important than submersion time in Salmonella internalization.

Influence of temperature differential between tomatoes and postharvest water on Salmonella internalization

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 922-928(7)

Turner, Ashley N.; Friedrich, Loretta M.; Danyluk, Michelle D.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000006/art00004

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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.

With all the dirt and the grease and the gunk: Handwashing better than sanitizers in food service

Hands can be a vector for transmitting pathogenic microorganisms to foodstuffs and drinks, and to the mouths of susceptible hosts.

handwashing.loadsHand washing is the primary barrier to prevent transmission of enteric pathogens via cross-contamination from infected persons. Conventional hand washing involves the use of water, soap, and friction to remove dirt and microorganisms. The availability of hand sanitizing products for use when water and soap are unavailable has increased in recent years. The aim of this systematic review was to collate scientific information on the efficacy of hand sanitizers compared with washing hands with soap and water for the removal of foodborne pathogens from the hands of food handlers.

An extensive literature search was carried out using three electronic databases: Web of Science, Scopus, and PubMed. Twenty-eight scientific publications were ultimately included in the review. Analysis of this literature revealed various limitations in the scientific information owing to the absence of a standardized protocol for evaluating the efficacy of hand products and variation in experimental conditions. However, despite conflicting results, scientific evidence seems to support the historical skepticism about the use of waterless hand sanitizers in food preparation settings.

Water and soap appear to be more effective than waterless products for removal of soil and microorganisms from hands. Alcohol-based products achieve rapid and effective inactivation of various bacteria, but their efficacy is generally lower against nonenveloped viruses. The presence of food debris significantly affects the microbial inactivation rate of hand sanitizers.

Efficacy of instant hand sanitizers against foodborne pathogens compared with hand washing with soap and water in food preparation settings: A systematic review

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 1040-1054(15)

Foddai, Antonio C. G.; Grant, Irene R.; Dean, Moira

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000006/art00020

Will fewer people barf? Ho Chi Minh City plans food safety agency

Ho Chi Minh City authorities are planning to set up a major food safety agency as the number of food poisoning cases has been on the rise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The new agency, directly managed by the city’s administration, will have more authority in coordinating with relevant agencies and handling violations, according to the plan.

The current food safety agency of the city, managed by the Department of Health, has limited personnel and authority, the city’s Interior Department said in the plan.

A total of 248 people were hospitalized for food poisoning in the first four months this year, according to the Food Safety Agency. That was nearly equal to the number of patients with food poisoning in 2015. 

Is transparent food better?

Transparency is one of those words like collaboration that gets thrown around a lot but is meaningless in that it can mean anything.

I want to know if food is microbiologically safe and see the data to supports claims of safety. That’s transparent to me.

transparent.salmonFor the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), it means “exposing it all when it comes to key sustainability and environmental data.”

“Truth is an essential ingredient of healthy change. Transparency not only accelerates change, it also helps drive it in a productive direction,” said Avrim Lazar, Principle Consultant to the Global Salmon Initiative.

“We all know that we need to accelerate the pace of change if we are going to provide a sustainable diet for the 9 billion people. At the GSI, we have made transparency at the global, regional and company level one of the pillars of our drive to significantly improve sustainability. Our experience has been that by the letting the sun in, it opens the doors to rapid progress,” Lazar added.

The Global Salmon Initiative is a leadership group of 12 global farmed salmon companies who are committed to improving the sustainability of their operations and providing a healthy and sustainable product. The GSI group has recently published their second annual Sustainability Report which features data across 14 key sustainability and environmental indicators, for all 12 member companies across the past 3 years. The report is available on the GSI website.

About that micro data …

Floodwater, E. coli and leafy greens

The California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) requires leafy green crops within 9 m of the edge of a flooded field not be harvested due to potential contamination (California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Board, Commodity Specific Flood Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens, 2012). Further, previously flooded soils should not be replanted for 60 days.

lettuceIn this study, the suitability of the LGMA metrics for farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States was evaluated. The upper end of a spinach bed (in Beltsville, MD) established on a −5% grade was flooded with water containing 6 log CFU/ml Escherichia coli to model a worst-case scenario of bacterial movement through soil. Escherichia coli prevalence in soil and on foliar tissue was determined by most probable number (MPN) analysis at distances up to 9 m from the edge of the flood for 63 days. While E. coli was quickly detected at the 9-m distance within 1 day in the spring trial and within 3 days in the fall trial, no E. coli was detected on plants outside the flood zone after 14 days. On day 63 for the two trials, E. coli populations in the flood zone soil were higher in the fall than in the spring. Regression analysis predicted that the time required for a 3-log MPN/g (dry weight) decrease in E. coli populations inside the flood zone was within the 60-day LGMA guideline in the spring but would require 90 days in the fall. Overall, data suggest that the current guidelines should be revised to include considerations of field and weather conditions that may promote bacterial movement and survival.

Metrics proposed to prevent the harvest of leafy green crops exposed to floodwater contaminated with Escherichia coli

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. July 2016 vol. 82 no. 13 3746-3753, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00052-16

Mary Theresa Callahan, Shirley A. Micallef, Manan Sharma, Patricia D. Millner, Robert L. Buchanan

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/13/3746.abstract?etoc

G turns to D: From one chord to another

It was 20 years ago today that Sloan released their third album, One Chord to Another.

I first heard the song, Everything You’ve Done Wrong, driving home from Florida with the family and said, that sounds like Sloan. But it doesn’t. And I like it.

That album/CD would become a mainstay of my lab as I became a shiny, happy professor in Sept. 1996.

I’ve had lots of nostalgia in the past few weeks, hanging out with some long-time food safety buddies (the best way to fix food safety – close all the takeaways and fire all the vets), chilling in France, being quoted on food safety for Ramadan in a publication in Pakistan, and getting interviewed for a professoring job.

But nostalgia only goes so far.

I will always (attempt) to teach someone to skate.

I never turn down a request from students (but almost always from bureaucrats).

I love my wife and children.