HPP may be safe but this advert is bad

In 2005, Hormel Foodservice became the first meat processor to make a significant investment in High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP).

HPP is employed after the meat is sliced and packaged — so there is no opportunity for harmful pathogens and food spoilage organisms to re-enter the package, and no need for taste-altering preservatives.

Sounds good, although I wonder about the potential for contamination once the package is opened.

But check out this ad which is a good example of marketers messing up science.

Expectant mothers are advised not to eat cold cuts and other refrigerated ready-to-eat foods because of the potential for Listeria contamination.

In addition to the medieval stirrups and a stereotypical representation of birth, there is no mention of why this lunchmeat may be OK other than, it has no preservatives.

Bad Hormel, bad.

Like I tell mommies-to-be: Listeria is prevalent, persistent in retail delis

Purdue University research shows that standard cleaning procedures in retail delis may not eradicate Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause a potentially fatal disease in people with vulnerable immune systems.

amy.pregnant.listeriaA study led by Haley Oliver, assistant professor of food science, found that 6.8 percent of samples taken in 15 delis before daily operation had begun tested positive for L. monocytogenes.

In a second sampling phase, 9.5 percent of samples taken in 30 delis during operation over six months tested positive for the bacteria. In 12 delis, the same subtypes of the bacteria cropped up in several of the monthly samplings, which could mean that L. monocytogenes can persist in growth niches over time.

“This is a public health challenge,” Oliver said. “These data suggest that failure to thoroughly execute cleaning and sanitation protocols is allowing L. monocytogenes to persist in some stores. We can’t in good conscience tell people with weak immune systems that it is safe to eat at the deli.”

In healthy individuals, eating food contaminated with L. monocytogenes may lead to common food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea or an upset stomach. But the bacteria can cause listeriosis – a serious systemic infection – in immunocompromised people such as the elderly, infants and children, pregnant women and people with HIV. In severe cases, L. monocytogenes can pass through the intestinal membrane and into the bloodstream or cross the blood-brain barrier. The bacteria can also cross the placental barrier in pregnant women, which can trigger abortion.

Ready-to-eat deli meats are the food most associated with L. monocytogenes, which can grow at refrigerator temperatures, unlike Salmonella and E. coli.

Stringent control measures and inspections have tamped down the presence of L. monocytogenes at meat processing plants, but there are no regulations specific to Listeria for retail delis. Recent risk assessments suggest that up to 83 percent of listeriosis cases linked to deli meats are attributable to products contaminated at retail.

oliver-listeria“It’s kind of the Wild West,” Oliver said. “Manufacturing has a zero-tolerance policy for Listeria, but that dissipates at the retail level. The challenge of developing systematic cleaning procedures for a wide variety of delis – which are less restricted environments than processing plants – can make Listeria harder to control.”

Consumers with vulnerable immune systems should buy prepackaged deli meats or heat ready-to-eat meats to 165 degrees, she said. Meat contaminated with L. monocytogenes will not show signs of spoilage, such as sliminess or odor.

The paper was published in the Journal of Food Protection. The abstract is available at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2014/00000077/00000011/art00012

But what about listeria risks? FDA says fish consumption in large amount is the best food during pregnancy

Daughter 2-of-5 is pregnant with my second grandson (I’m old).

What I’ve found through all these pregnancies is the enormous amount of conflicting advice provided to the moms-to-be.

jaucelynn.pregnantIt’s stressful enough being pregnant (not that I would know) without having Dr.-this-that giving bogus advice.

The Westside Story (whatever that is) writes that conflicting research works have been done on the nutritional benefits of consuming large amounts of fish during pregnancy and after that. Some studies have shown that fish is among the best foods that a pregnant and breastfeeding mom needs to take for the benefit of her baby and her own. However, some other studies raised questions about fish consumption, citing that some fish could actually have an adverse impact on the brain development of a baby. According to the latest research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fish is good and eating large amounts of it is even better.

Good for brain development

What these stories lack is the potential Listeria risk in any refrigerated ready-to-eat foods like smoked salmon.

My kid’s got a biology degree and we’ve talked about this.

There’s a significant risk difference between refrigerated ready-to-eat foods and whole fish cooked to 145F as measured by a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Unborn babies can get toxoplasmosis, listeriosis

ABS-CBN News in the Philippines reports Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in raw or undercooked meat, can latch on to pregnant moms and their unborn babies if ingested, potentially causing food poisoning, miscarriage or other complications to the unborn baby.

pregnant.fishAccording to microbiologist Dr. Windell Rivera, “Usually infected newborns would have problems sa mata, sa utak, mga damage talaga at birth (Usually, infected newborns would have eye or brain damages at birth).”

Toxoplasmosis is the disease caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Naturally thriving in a cat’s stomach, it can contaminate soil, water, or plant material once released via the animal’s feces. Animals that ingest the parasite can be infected. Humans may contract the parasite by consuming contaminated meat products.

According to the World Health Organization, toxoplasmosis is one of the five most commonly “neglected parasitic infections” as the parasite shows no symptoms in people with strong immunity. However, immunodeficient individuals may experience body aches, swollen lymph nodes, head ache, fever, or fatigue. Babies of pregnant mothers are usually the most potent victims as congenital toxoplasmosis can result to fetal death.

Experts, however, said that mothers who contracted the parasite before pregnancy could be safer as their bodies may have already developed immunity.

Treatment of the toxoplasmosis, in general, is also possible through medication, according to experts; however, completely removing all the parasites from the body may not be possible.

Beyond the Toxoplasma gondii, experts add that mother must also look out for the Listeria bacteria.

amy_pregnantRivera warned, “Ang listeria delikado. Twenty times at risk ang mga buntis. Pwedeng malaglag yung bata kung ma-food poison yung nanay. O kaya sakitin yung bata paglabas (Listeria is 20 times more harmful to pregnant mothers. Mothers may experience miscarriage if they contract food poisoning. If not, the baby may turn out to be sickly).”

The Listeria bacteria may be contracted from raw milk, vegetable salad, and processed meat such as hotdogs or luncheon meat. In general, people infected by the bacteria experience mild fever and are treated with antibiotics. However, experts say, people experiencing worse symptoms ought to receive medical attention.

To avoid further complications by parasites and bacteria, experts warn, prevention is key.

 

Got a risk assessment to back that up? UK nutritionist say soft-boiled eggs ‘now safe for pregnant women and babies’

This is not the advice of UK health types, but according to a new review published in the Journal of Health Visiting and cited in Parent Dish, nutritionist Dr Juliet Gray, said mothers may be unwittingly putting their children at greater risk of allergy by an avoidance strategy.

runny.boiled.eggShe said research suggests delayed introduction of potential food allergens, such as eggs, during weaning may actually be counterproductive.
In contrast the introduction of these foods while breastfeeding, between the ages of 4-7 months, could protect against developing allergies to these foods.

Dr Gray said two trials are being carried out to test whether the approach works and two government committees are also reviewing the current advice on infant feeding and food allergy.

She said “Eggs are highly nutritious, containing key nutrients including high quality protein, vitamin D, selenium, choline and omega-3 fatty acids, several of which are not found in many other foods.

“Our review concluded that mums and their babies can be encouraged to eat eggs, as this could have a positive effect in terms of nutritional intake and may also help immune tolerance of eggs.

The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) said the launch of a strict code of practice 15 years ago has been so successful that salmonella has been ‘effectively eliminated’, with 90 per cent of British eggs now laid by salmonella-vaccinated hens.
Each egg is stamped with a lion mark and a best-before date on the shell.

NHS Choices still advises pregnant women to avoid eating soft-boiled eggs, or giving them to babies after weaning because of the salmonella risk.

And just a fraction of babies are given eggs at six months because of allergy concerns.

27 sickened including 11 pregnancies in two outbreaks of Listeria, Northern Spain 2013

In the province of Gipuzkoa, Spain (≈700,000 inhabitants), 7–12 episodes of human listeriosis were recorded annually during 2009–2012. However, during January 2013–February 2014, 27 episodes were detected, including 11 pregnancy-associated cases.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAll cases produced sepsis in the patients, except 1 case that produced diarrheal disease in a 34-year-old parturient woman who had undergone a splenectomy. Eleven episodes (40.7%) occurred in pregnant or parturient women, and 8 of the children of these patients were affected: 5 newborns (4 of them premature infants) became ill, 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage, and 1 infant was stillborn.

Fifteen cases in 2 epidemiologically unrelated outbreaks were caused by a rare type of Listeria monocytogenes, sequence type 87 serotype 1/2b. 

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014 [ahead of print]

Pérez-Trallero E, Zigorraga C, Artieda J, Alkorta M, Marimón JM

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/20/12/14-0993_article

Listeria concerns on the rise for pregnant women?

Listeria has always been a concern, but according to a NBC news affiliate, it’s new.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAnd people wonder why mainstream journalism is dying.

“While normally this is a bacteria our bodies can fight off, for expecting women, it becomes more difficult because of a lowered immune system. Additionally, there is concern that the bacteria could be passed on to the fetus.”

Duh.

Diet alert for mums-to-be

Whenever I get a chance to expound, I always put a plug in for Listeria, and the havoc it can wreck in pregnant mothers.

amy.pregnant.cat Last year in New Zealand, five women between 23 and 36 weeks pregnant were struck down with listeriosis, and three of their babies died. From 2010 to 2012 there were 12 cases of perinatal listeriosis, with six baby deaths.

Listeria is one of several food-borne illnesses, including toxoplasma, methylmercury and salmonella, which can cause severe complications in pregnancy, when the immune system is lowered.

The Ministry for Primary Industries principal health advisor, Dr Craig Thornley, said while such cases were rare, it was important pregnant women followed food safety recommendations to avoid any risk.

Listeria bacteria can be found in refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods such as meat, poultry and seafood, or food made with unpasteurised milk.

Avoiding raw milk and eggs, unpasteurised cheese, processed and undercooked meats, some seafood, and even sushi and hummus would cut down the chance of becoming ill.

New Zealand College of Midwives midwifery advisor Lesley Dixon said women should focus on what they can eat.

“I think we get hooked up on ‘we can’t eat this and we can’t eat that’ and what we forget is what we can eat and what we should be eating,” she said. “Yes we can’t eat brie and camembert anymore but actually we can still eat cheese.”

When Amanda Ashman was pregnant with her son Jake in 1997 she wasn’t warned not to eat certain foods.

So when she fell pregnant again in 2012 with her daughter Mackenzie, the barrage of food safety advice came as a big shock.

“I was constantly saying ‘I was never told any of this when I was pregnant with Jake’.”

The 34-year-old West Auckland mum said as a pregnant 17-year-old she knew not to drink or smoke but doesn’t recall anyone advising her not to eat food that could cause her to become ill such as unpasteurised cheese, pre-cooked ham, and raw eggs.

She ate whatever she wanted and did not have any problems.

She said it was concerning to find out later pregnant women were warned off some food.

“I thought it was strange that I wasn’t warned about it when I was carrying Jake.”

Fifteen years later, when pregnant with Mackenzie, it was a different story.

She was made aware of the guidelines by her midwife and kept to them but thinks they might be a bit over the top.

Rob Mancini: Moms, Listeria, and stealth sprouts

Rob Mancini, a MS graduate of Kansas State University and a health inspector with the Manitoba Department of Health writes:

amy.pregnant.listeriaMy wife and I are trying for baby number 2 and food safety is always on my mind. Listeria monocytogenes presents a significant risk to pregnant women and as such there are certain foods expected moms should avoid, like deli meats, hot dogs that have not undergone a cooking process, soft cheeses, meat spreads, raw milk, and others.

Many medical doctors are not completely aware of all the foods that must be avoided during pregnancy, for instance, avoiding the consumption of raw sprouts. The Internet doesn’t help either. I did a random interview of 40 expectant women in the grocery store to determine if they would consume raw sprouts during their pregnancy. Ninety per cent of the interviewed women said that they would consume raw sprouts due to their nutritional value. This was disturbing. Public health types, including myself, have to do a better job in communicating the risks and more importantly that the message is factual and consistent. 

KETV reports that the family of a baby, hospitalized at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, wants to warn other expecting mothers and new parents about the illness that made their son extremely sick.

Ezra Armstrong entered the world at a whopping 9-plus pounds, and the ‘big guy’ is still adding to that.“He’s drinking four ounces every two hours,” said his mother, Lucinda.  “Gaining weight like a pro.”

Lucinda, also mom to 2-year-old Lena, knows the difference between ‘I’m hungry’ cries and when something is wrong.  She was on high alert in May, when Ezra was just two weeks old.“He was red all day, he pretty much cried his eyes out all day and then when we took his temperature at night time it was bad,” said Armstrong.  “That was when we decided to go to the hospital.”Ezra had a fever of 101.6, dangerously high for a newborn.  The Armstrongs rushed their baby to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs.  Doctors performed several tests, and a spinal tap revealed Ezra had meningitis, an infection of the coverings of the brain. Ezra was immediately transported to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha.  Doctors, including Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Kari Simonsen, determined Ezra had listeria meningitis.

listeria“Listeria is a particular type of bacteria that’s known to cause meningitis, particularly in susceptible patients; infants are one of the most susceptible,” said Dr. Simonsen.  “Most babies get it around the time of delivery from their mother, who’s acquired it usually from a food.”

Dr. Simonsen said refrigerated meats and cheeses and deli products usually served cold host the listeria bacteria, which can live at the refrigerated temperature. 

“Often times, the mom won’t become clinically ill because of her normal immune system,” said Dr. Simonsen.  Babies’ immature immune systems cannot fight off the bacteria.  Dr. Simonsen says it is important to note listeria meningitis is not contagious; you cannot spread the infection person to person.

Doctors are now helping Ezra’s tiny body battle the infection.

“They said he was in pretty bad shape,” said Armstrong.  “They said we probably would’ve lost him if this would’ve gone untreated.”

Ezra is improving every day; doctors will watch him closely but Dr. Simonsen says many patients have normal outcomes.

“I think the main takeaway for moms would be to listen to your obstetrician’s advice,” said Dr. Simonsen.  “In this case, those foods that might be dangerous for moms to consume while pregnant.”

Lucinda Armstrong also has a message for parents.

“I’d tell them to go with their gut,” said Lucinda.  “If they feel something’s wrong, it’s much better going to the hospital and figuring out nothing is wrong rather than not going, then to figure out something bad happened.”

It’s not clear how long Ezra will have to stay in the hospital.  Lucinda and her husband, Greg, plan to stay with their baby until they can take him home.

“[I was] sitting here thinking about it and I just broke down in tears because I think of how bad it could’ve been if it would’ve gone untreated,” said Lucinda.  “If we wouldn’t have thought anything of it at the time, we could’ve lost him.

(That’s pregnant Amy, not pregnant Rob’s partner)

Seven ill and one dead after consuming Listeria-contaminated cheese

Health authorities from US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today the investigation into an outbreak of listeriosis linked to Hispanic cheeses. The outbreak has lead to a death and seven other illnesses in Maryland and California. CDC reports that five of the illnesses (2 mother-newborn pairs and a newborn) were related to pregnancy and all patients are of Hispanic ethnicity.

Among persons for whom information is available, dates that illness was diagnosed range from August 1, 2013 to November 27, 2013. Seven of the eight ill persons were hospitalized. Five of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; two of these were diagnosed in two mother–newborn pairs, and one in only the newborn. The three other illnesses occurred among adults.   Eveling raking the curds

In interviews, ill persons answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures in the month before becoming ill. All patients in Maryland reported consuming soft or semi-soft Hispanic-style cheese and all shopped at different locations of same food store chain (Chain A). Testing of cheese products collected from Chain A (VDACS reports it as Mega Mart -ben) stores was performed in Maryland and Virginia. 

Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) identified the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of Caujada en Terron (fresh cheese curd) collected by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) from a Chain A store. This cheese was likely produced by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware and was later repackaged in the Chain A store.  VDACS issued a press release on February 15, 2014 instructing persons who purchased this product not to consume the cheese and to discard any remaining product.

logoFrom the VDACS press release,

On February 10, 2014, Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause human illness, was isolated from a sample of Cuajada en Terron (Fresh Cheese Curd) collected by food safety inspectors from Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  The sample was collected at Mega Mart, a retail store located at 8328 Shopper’s Square, Manassas, VA 20111. The product was sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags held in the retail cheese display cooler within the facility.

Listeria affects the elderly and pregnant women disproportionately more than healthy adults and is fatal 25-30 per cent of the time. Hispanic style fresh cheese is regularly linked to Listeria cases. In January, Oregon public health officials issued a warning for illegally imported cheese from Mexico that is believed responsible for giving an unborn baby Listeria. In 2010, Two Oregon mothers have were sickened by Listeria after eating tainted Mexican-style cheese made in Yakima, causing their babies to be born with a serious illness