Blessed are the cheese-makers: Storm parliament in NZ

A small-scale cheese maker is hauling her raw milk cheese to Parliament.

florida-swampKatikati’s Mount Eliza Cheese owner Jill Whalley says New Zealand artisan producers of raw milk cheese find high compliance costs crippling – about $60 a kilo.

That makes European products cheaper to import and it’s not fair, she says.

The Food and Safety Reform Bill is currently under consideration by a select committee.

“We want a level playing field,” says Whalley.

She believes it’s prohibitive to a thriving artisan cheese industry.

“If they took the same approach to road safety as they do to food safety, we would all have to drive at three miles per hour, with a person in front waving a red flag.”

Whalley argues pastuerisation destroys the milk’s good bacteria which protects the cheese from harmful bacteria.

Small cheese makers have greater control over hygiene and other variables and can prevent it from happening, Whalley says.

I also have some land in Florida you may want buy.

20 sick with campy linked to raw milk in Colorado

Jakob Rodgers of The Gazette reports that up to 20 people have been sickened from raw milk supplied by a ranch in Pueblo County, leading health officials to warn against drinking unpasteurized milk from the farm.

santa-barf_sprout_raw_milk7The outbreak of campylobacteriosis – an infection causing nausea and diarrhea – stems from raw milk distributed by Larga Vista Ranch, which is about 20 miles east of Pueblo, according to El Paso and Pueblo county health officials.

The infections highlight the dangers of drinking raw, unpasteurized milk, said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, El Paso County Public Health’s medical director.

“Sometimes people think that raw foods of all kinds are healthier,” she said. “But in this case, raw milk is very dangerous to be drinking.”

Since Aug. 1, health officials have confirmed 12 such cases and eight probable cases, according to the El Paso and Pueblo county health departments. Of those 20 people, half live in El Paso County, and half live in Pueblo County.

The infections stem from milk supplied by a herdshare program, which allows people to purchase stakes in livestock, such as cows or goats, and to receive a portion of each animal’s milk or meat.

Some of the people sickened were not part of the herdshare program. They received the milk from people who were part of it, which is now allowed, health officials said.

An after-hours call to the ranch by The Gazette was not returned.

Raw milk cheese can really suck

Fresh cheeses are a main garnish of Mexican food. Consumption of artisanal fresh cheeses is very common and most of them are made from unpasteurised cow milk.

unknownA total of 52 fresh unpasteurised cheeses of five different types were purchased from a variety of suppliers from Tabasco, Mexico. Using the most probable number method, 67% and 63% of samples were positive for faecal coliforms and E. coli, respectively; revealing their low microbiological quality.

General hygienic conditions and practices of traditional cheese manufacturers were poor; most establishments had unclean cement floors, all lacked windows and doors screens, and none of the food-handlers wore aprons, surgical masks or bouffant caps. After analysing all E. coli isolates (121 strains) for the presence of 26 virulence genes, results showed that 9 (17%) samples were contaminated with diarrheagenic E. coli strains, 8 harboured non-O157 Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC), and one sample contained both STEC and diffusely ad-herent E. coli strains. All STEC strains carried the stx1 gene. Potential uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) strains were isolated from 15 (29%) samples; the most frequent gene combination was fimA-agn43. Two samples were contaminated with Salmonella. The results demonstrated that unpasteurised fresh cheeses produced in Tabasco are of poor microbiological quality and may frequently harbour foodborne pathogens.

Food safety authorities in Mexico need to conduct more rigorous surveillance of fresh cheeses. Furthermore, simple and inexpensive measures as establishing programs emphasizing good hand milking practices and hygienic manufacturing procedures may have a major effect on improving the microbiological quality of these food items.

Mexican unpasteurised fresh cheeses are contaminated with Salmonella spp., non-O157 Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli and potential uropathogenic E. coli strains: A public health risk

International Journal of Food Microbiology 237 (2016) 10–16, DOI:

R Guzman-Hernandez, A Contreras-Rodriguez, R Hernandez-Velez, I Perez-Martinez, A Lopez-Merino, MB Zaidi, T Estrada-Garcia

Campy in Canada: Pets and raw milk underestimated

To inform source attribution efforts, a comparative exposure assessment was developed to estimate the relative exposure to Campylobacter, the leading bacterial gastrointestinal disease in Canada, for 13 different transmission routes within Ontario, Canada, during the summer.

sadie-dog-powellExposure was quantified with stochastic models at the population level, which incorporated measures of frequency, quantity ingested, prevalence, and concentration, using data from FoodNet Canada surveillance, the peer-reviewed and gray literature, other Ontario data, and data that were specifically collected for this study. Models were run with @Risk software using Monte Carlo simulations.

The mean number of cells of Campylobacter ingested per Ontarian per day during the summer, ranked from highest to lowest is as follows: household pets, chicken, living on a farm, raw milk, visiting a farm, recreational water, beef, drinking water, pork, vegetables, seafood, petting zoos, and fruits.

The study results identify knowledge gaps for some transmission routes, and indicate that some transmission routes for Campylobacter are underestimated in the current literature, such as household pets and raw milk. Many data gaps were identified for future data collection consideration, especially for the concentration of Campylobacter in all transmission routes.

A comparative exposure assessment of Campylobacter in Ontario, Canada

Risk Analysis, 18 Sept 2016, DOI: 10.1111/risa.126553

Actors, sportsthingies, real housewife of somewhere: Don’t build bridges, don’t advise on vaccines or food

I learned to roll my own cigarettes in jail, because tobacco in a pouch was about 90 per cent cheaper than TMs (tailor-mades).

organic-cigs-delpyI was so terrible at it, I spent a couple of my hard-earned jail dollars on a contraption that would roll them for me

That was 1982.

The New Zealand Herald reports that young people are labouring under the false impression roll-your-own cigarettes are healthier than manufactured ones because they are more “natural”, when they could actually be at least as hazardous and more addictive, researchers say.

A study by Smokefree researchers at the University of Otago also found some people would find roll-your-own(RYO) cigarettes less appealing if the rolling papers were a mustard yellow colour.

Otago’s professor of public health, Richard Edwards, published a letter in medical journal BMJ in 2014 saying evidence showed RYO cigarettes “are at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette” and pointing to animal research suggesting they were more addictive.

“Any notion that loose tobacco is more ‘natural’ is severely undermined by evidence that the concentration of additives is higher in loose tobacco, at about 18 per cent of dry weight, compared with 0.5 per cent for factory made cigarettes,” he wrote in his letter.

“Some of these additives, including sweeteners such as honey, sugar, dextrose, and sorbitol, often at much higher concentrations than in factory-made cigarettes, potentially make the product more acceptable to children. The high concentration of other additives would probably surprise RYO cigarette smokers.”

The researchers at Otago published their findings in the international journal Tobacco Control.

6 confirmed sick: Crypto linked to raw milk in New Mexico

Officials with the New Mexico Department of Health are investigating cases of cryptosporidiosis among state residents.

napoleon-raw-milkThey say there have been six confirmed cases of “crypto” — a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites — since Aug. 31.

Each reported consuming raw milk products.

The affected individuals are from Bernalillo County.

Epidemiologists, laboratory staff and inspectors are working to confirm the source of the outbreak.

The state Department of Agriculture and New Mexico Environmental Department also are involved in the investigation.

Health Department officials recommend that anyone in New Mexico who has raw milk products discard the product to prevent infection.

Unpasteurized cheese making record number sick in Texas

Claire Z. Cardona of The Dallas Morning News reports a record number of people in Dallas County have been sickened from an infection caused by consuming unpasteurized cheese, health officials said. 

brucellosisThere have been 13 brucellosis infections in residents so far this year, affecting patients between 6 and 80 years old, according to a health advisory released Thursday

All of the patients reported eating the cheese brought into the U.S. from Mexico by friends or relatives, consuming the cheese while traveling in Mexico or eating unidentified cheese products from local street vendors, officials said. 

The county typically sees two to six cases a year, though 11 were recorded in 2004. 

Health officials confirmed all the Dallas County cases by blood culture. In two instances, hospital lab personnel were exposed while handling the samples. 

The Brucella bacteria can infect livestock and is most commonly transmitted to humans who consume the unpasteurized dairy products. Some areas, such as Mexico and Central and South America, are considered high-risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

E. coli in Scotland: FSS doubles down and says all Errington Cheese products pose a risk to public health

According to Lizzy Buchman of The Scotsman Food Standards Scotland (FSS) issued an alert to all Scottish councils calling for all Errington Cheese products to be removed from the shelves as they could pose a risk to public health. The outbreak is being linked to another outbreak in Angus where a playgroup has been temporarily shut down due to a small number of cases.

double-downThe South Lanarkshire-based firm has already been forced to take two of cheeses off the market following a wave of E. coli cases linked to a batch of Dunsyre Blue cows milk cheese and another batch of Lanark White ewe’s milk cheese. A statement released tonight by FSS Scotland said: “Both O157 and non-O157 strains of E. coli have been detected in a number of different types of cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd. “Errington Cheese Ltd has not voluntarily withdrawn these products so… FSS as the designated central public food body in Scotland, is initiating the withdrawal of all cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd from the marketplace. “FSS and South Lanarkshire Council’s investigations into food safety related to unpasteurised cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd are ongoing. Actions will continue to be determined by what is necessary to protect public health and the interests of consumers.” The affected products include Dunsyre Blue, Dunsyre Baby, Lanark Blue, Lanark White, Maisie’s Kebbuck and Cora Linn cheeses.

NHS Tayside said it is investigating linked cases of E.coli O157 affecting a “small number of children” in the region, which has led to a playgroup being temporarily closed. The playgroup, which has not been named by NHS Tayside, has been shut as a precautionary measure while investigations continue. The health board’s Health Protection Team has issued information to parents at the playgroup and an Angus primary school advising them of action to take if they have concerns about their child’s health. A helpline has also been set up on 0800 028 2816. The health board is examining possible sources and routes of transmission and said “necessary control measures” have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading. Consultant in public health medicine, Dr Jackie Hyland, said: “NHS Tayside and Angus Council are together investigating a small number of linked cases of E.coli O157 infection. The risk to the general public remains low and those affected have received appropriate medical treatment and advice.” No one at Errington Cheese was available for comment. The firm said previously that its own extensive testing had shown the cheese was safe to eat.

10 sick: Unpasteurized, this time ‘green for life’ camel milk in Israel

Ten additional people have come down with brucellosis after consuming camel milk, it was revealed today (Thursday, 8 Sep 2016) when the Ministry of Health extended the administrative closure of a business dealing with this product. A month ago, it was reported that 2 children were hospitalized in mild to moderate condition at the Ichilov Hospital [Tel-Aviv] with brucellosis resulting of drinking the said milk.

camel-milkConcurrently, the Be’er Sheva Magistrate indicted E.L., the manager of an enterprise engaged with the storage and marketing of milk and milk products “Green for Life” or “Genesis Milk” in Moshav Sitria, Shefela district. Prof. Shmuel Rishpon, Acting District Medical Officer [DMO] – Center District, signed today the extension of the closure order of the business, issued by the DMO/Center, Dr. Ofra Havkin, on 11 Aug 2016, for 30 additional days.

The Acting DMO’s decision stated that the closure order was extended because during an inspection/control visit to the enterprise, performed about 2 weeks ago, it was found that — in breach with the previous order — camel milk was encountered in the premises. Even worse, since the decree was issued last month, information on 10 additional brucellosis patients, infected by the consumption of the milk, has been obtained. “This situation is indicative of continued immediate danger to public health from the consumption of the camel milk,” Prof Rishpon stated in the issued order.

New cheese alert after child’s E. coli death

A three-year-old girl from Dunbartonshire who died from E. coli O157 was among 20 confirmed cases that emerged in July and linked to Dunsyre Blue cheese made by South Lanarkshire-based Errington Cheese.

e-coli-o157-cheeseOn Saturday, Food Standards Scotland ordered the withdrawal from sale of batch G14 of Lanark White (unpasteurized) ewe milk cheese, adding, “A sample from a batch of Lanark White submitted for testing by South Lanarkshire Council has tested positive for E. coli O157. Although this organism may not carry shiga toxins, it is associated with human disease in the UK, so this cheese is a potential risk to health. FSS has issued a FAFA [Food Alert for Action] calling for this product to be immediately recalled from sale.”

The order to withdraw the cheese from sale was made after Errington refused to issue its own voluntary recall.

The company said the cheese had been on the market for three weeks with no reported cases of illness.

In a statement on its website, it said: “When we were told of the presumptive E. coli O157 result we immediately consulted experts in dairy microbiology.

“The experts told us they were confused and concerned by the testing methodology adopted by the laboratory.

“We have given careful consideration to this and to the fact that the cheese has been on the market for three weeks now with absolutely no reported incidence of illness.

“We have arranged for the sample of the same cheese tested by the authorities to be tested and the results will be ready on Monday when we will review the situation.”

Health Protection Scotland previously said that epidemiological investigations had “identified Dunsyre Blue cheese as the most likely cause of the outbreak”.

It added: “Despite extensive investigation, including looking for other possible food sources, no other link to a majority of cases could be established.”

Errington Cheese disputed the link, maintaining there was no conclusive evidence linking its products to the outbreak.

In a statement on its website last month it said that testing had shown it to be “completely clear of E. coli O157.”

Professor Hugh Pennington, the country’s leading expert on E. coli, told the Herald Scotland it could be difficult to identify it in any product suspected of causing food poisoning as by the time the illness comes to light, the food is usually all consumed or thrown away.

“Even if some of the batch (of food) is available for testing the bug might not be evenly distributed through a whole product, and so you might test part of the product that has been left or not been eaten yet and not find it – that doesn’t prove it wasn’t there in the bit that has been eaten,” he said.

“Scientifically it is sometimes quite complicated to come to a straightforward conclusion. The cheese manufacturers rightly say what is the evidence – but the regulatory authorities might never be able to come up with that.”

Joanna Blythman, investigative food journalist and the Sunday Herald’s food critic, said she believed there was a prejudice in Scotland against raw milk products, adding, “The (Dunsyre Blue) case puts a chill round everyone who wants to make a small scale artisan food. Meanwhile, the real prime suspects for large scale food poisoning are our industrial food producers.”

Stick to journalism. Illness per meal and type of food consumer and processing technique would have to be factored into any comparison of one food and artisan products.