35 sick: raw is risky in rising temperatures in BC

A warning from the BC Centre for Disease Control about eating raw shellfish:

So far this summer, there have been an unprecedented number of shellfish-related illnesses thanks to the warm weather.

SUN0705N-Oyster7The majority of illnesses have been linked to eating raw oysters sourced in BC and served in restaurants.

Spokesperson Marsha Taylor says 35 people have become ill from eating the uncooked shellfish…

“We’re putting this message out both to the public that will also hit the restaurants and we’re also doing follow up with every restaurant to make sure they are aware of the issue and we’re inspecting the premises.”

Some illnesses have also been linked with raw oysters purchased or self-harvested.

Taylor says if you happen to get sick…

“People who are experiencing symptoms of the Vibrio Parahaemolyticus most often experience typical food-borne illness like nausea and vomiting, headaches, and feel pretty badly for a couple of days…but most people will recover on their own.”

To reduce risk of illness consumers are being told to eat only cooked shellfish.

Raw eggs again: 16 stricken with Salmonella in Seattle

JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times reports that as many as 16 people were likely sickened with salmonella poisoning from raw eggs used in Father’s Day weekend brunch dishes served at Tallulah’s restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, health officials said Wednesday.

Tallulah’sVictims in the June 21 outbreak ranged in ages from 4 to 71, officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County said. There were nine confirmed cases and seven probable cases of infection, including one person who was hospitalized.

The infections were traced to crab and ham eggs Benedict dishes, which typically include a sauce made from raw eggs. Managers at the restaurant at 550 19th Ave. E reported the problem to health officials after receiving complaints from customers. Restaurant staff have been cooperative with the environmental health and epidemiologic investigation, officials said.

An investigation of the egg supplier and distributor conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture revealed no violation of regulations regarding temperature control, storage or handling, officials said. The producer reported no recent positive tests for salmonella bacteria, although they don’t routinely test raw shell eggs.

The restaurant menu was appropriately labeled to note that dishes made with raw or undercooked foods could result in foodborne illness.


Raw remains risky: Osamu Corporation voluntarily recalls frozen yellow fin tuna chunk meat due to possible health risk

Osamu Corporation of Gardena, CA is recalling Frozen Yellow Fin Tuna Chunk Meat (Lot #68568) sold to AFC Corporation of Rancho Dominquez, CA sourced from one processing plant in Indonesia.

tuna.sushi.raw.jul.15Investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health found samples of this product from one retail location in Minnesota to be contaminated with Salmonella.

There have been two reports of illness to date associated with exposure to AFC sushi in Minnesota.

The Frozen Tuna Yellow Fin Chunk Meat (Lot #68568) was shipped to AFC from 05/20/15 to 05/26/15. AFC has removed the product from the marketplace and is destroying any remaining product it has.

AFC has sushi franchises nationwide in many different grocery stores and it is sold from sushi counters.

Consumers concerned about whether the sushi they purchased may contain the recalled tuna product should check with the store where they purchased the sushi. That store will be able to determine if it used the recalled product to prepare the sushi. At this time Osamu does not believe that the recalled product or sushi made with the recalled product is available for purchase by consumers.

Aioli, raw egg and food porn

There’s a self-congratulatory culture within self-titled food advocates who care more about food porn than microbial safety – the things that make people barf.

aioliAnd why The New Times is becoming increasing irrelevant (and please, stop sending me those thrice daily e-mails about the latest subscription special).

Columnist Mark Bittman, advocate of many microbiologically dubious practices – I wonder if he’s has ever used a thermometer – writes that Alice Waters  is probably the most important American in food.

Bittman writes he wasn’t surprised to see her making the aioli — garlic mayonnaise to serve with the fish and its accompaniments — in the most inefficient and old-fashioned way possible: using a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic, a fork to whip up the emulsion and no lemon juice, vinegar or any other acid at all. It was the best mayonnaise I’ve ever tasted, but then again, she did use a wonderfully perfumed olive oil.

And probably a raw egg.

Consumer shell egg consumption and handling practices: results from a national survey

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Kosa, Katherine M., Cates, Sheryl C., Bradley, Samantha, Godwin, Sandria, Chambers, Delores



Numerous cases and outbreaks of Salmonella infection are attributable to shell eggs each year in the United States. Safe handling and consumption of shell eggs at home can help reduce foodborne illness attributable to shell eggs.

A nationally representative Web survey of 1,504 U.S. adult grocery shoppers was conducted to describe consumer handling practices and consumption of shell eggs at home. Based on self-reported survey data, most respondents purchase shell eggs from a grocery store (89.5%), and these eggs were kept refrigerated (not at room temperature; 98.5%). As recommended, most consumers stored shell eggs in the refrigerator (99%) for no more than 3 to 5 weeks (97.6%). After cracking eggs, 48.1% of respondents washed their hands with soap and water. More than half of respondents who fry and/or poach eggs cooked them so that the whites and/or the yolks were still soft or runny, a potentially unsafe practice. Among respondents who owned a food thermometer (62.0%), only 5.2% used it to check the doneness of baked egg dishes the they prepared such a dish. Consumers generally followed two of the four core “Safe Food Families” food safety messages (“separate” and “chill”) when handling shell eggs at home.

To prevent Salmonella infection associated with shell eggs, consumers should improve their practices related to the messages “clean” (i.e., wash hands after cracking eggs) and “cook” (i.e., cook until yolks and whites are firm and use a food thermometer to check doneness of baked egg dishes) when preparing shell eggs at home. These findings will be used to inform the development of science-based consumer education materials that can help reduce foodborne illness from Salmonella infection.


Cleaner cantaloupes: Sanitizers for rock melon

For health reasons, people are consuming fresh-cut fruits with or without minimal processing and, thereby, exposing themselves to the risk of foodborne illness if such fruits are contaminated with bacterial pathogens.

cantaloupe.salmonellaThis study investigated survival and growth parameters of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and aerobic mesophilic bacteria transferred from cantaloupe rind surfaces to fresh-cut pieces during fresh-cut preparation. All human bacterial pathogens inoculated on cantaloupe rind surfaces averaged ∼4.8 log CFU/cm2, and the populations transferred to fresh-cut pieces before washing treatments ranged from 3 to 3.5 log CFU/g for all pathogens. A nisin-based sanitizer developed in our laboratory and chlorinated water at 1,000 mg/liter were evaluated for effectiveness in minimizing transfer of bacterial populations from cantaloupe rind surface to fresh-cut pieces. Inoculated and uninoculated cantaloupes were washed for 5 min before fresh-cut preparation and storage of fresh-cut pieces at 5 and 10°C for 15 days and at 22°C for 24 h. In fresh-cut pieces from cantaloupe washed with chlorinated water, only Salmonella was found (0.9 log CFU/g), whereas E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes were positive only by enrichment.

The nisin-based sanitizer prevented transfer of human bacteria from melon rind surfaces to fresh-cut pieces, and the populations in fresh-cut pieces were below detection even by enrichment. Storage temperature affected survival and the growth rate for each type of bacteria on fresh-cut cantaloupe. Specific growth rates of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes in fresh-cut pieces were similar, whereas the aerobic mesophilic bacteria grew 60 to 80 % faster and had shorter lag phases.

 Efficacy of Sanitizer Treatments on Survival and Growth Parameters of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes on Fresh-Cut Pieces of Cantaloupe during Storage

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Ukuku, Dike O., Huang, Lihan, Sommers, Andchristopher


Discard produce tainted by flood waters

West Virginia agricultural officials are advising growers to discard vegetables that have had contact with flood waters.

flood.midwestThe advice comes after weeks of rain that promoted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to declare states of emergency in 10 counties this week.

West Virginia extension agent John Bombardiere says the safest way to deal with lettuce, tomatoes or potatoes that have been tainted by flood water is to toss them. He says they should not be consumed by humans or animals.

The advice is based U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, which state there is no practical way to salvage the product.

More raw frozen chicken thingies recalled

Aspen Foods, A Division of Koch Poultry Company, a Chicago, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 1,978,680 pounds of frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken product that may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

UnknownThe frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken items were produced between April 15, 2015 and July 10, 2015 with “best if used by” dates between July 14, 2016 and October 10, 2016. To view a full list of recalled products, please click here (XLS).

The product subject to recall bears the establishment number “P-1358” inside the USDA mark of inspection. This product was shipped to retail stores and food service locations nationwide.

FSIS was notified of a cluster of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses on June 23, 2015. Working in conjunction with Minnesota State Departments of Health and Agriculture, FSIS determined that there is a link between the frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken products from Aspen Foods and this illness cluster. Based on epidemiological evidence and traceback investigations, three case-patients have been identified in Minnesota with illness onset dates ranging from May 9, 2015 to June 8, 2015. FSIS continues to work with the Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on this investigation.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the organism. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers. Although the product subject to recall may appear to be cooked, this product is in fact uncooked (raw) and should be handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen. Particular attention needs to be paid to safely prepare and cook these raw poultry products to a temperature of 165° F checking at the center, the thickest part and the surface of the product.

This frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken product was labeled with instructions identifying that the product was raw and included cooking instructions for preparation. Some case-patients reported following the cooking instructions on the label and using a food thermometer to confirm that the recommended temperature was achieved. Therefore, FSIS advises all consumers to treat this product like a raw chicken product. Hands and any surfaces, including surfaces that may have breading dislodged from the product, should be cleaned after contact with this raw product. Also, keep raw poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw poultry and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.


Raw is risky: The danger of eating uncooked snails

Robert Herriman of Outbreak News Today reports that Vietnamese health officials in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau are reporting the case of a 10-year-old boy who has been hospitalized with an infection with the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

snailHe is currently recovering from the infection at a Ho Chi Minh City hospital neurology and infectious disease ward.

The boy’s mother said she was unaware of the dangers of eating snails. “We are not aware of the danger of eating snails. Residents here often catch snails and eat them because the rumor is that snails help treat aches and pains,” she said.

A hospital spokesperson said the infection is relatively rare but not unheard of. Last year, the ward admitted as many as 30 children, most of whom were from rural areas.

Russian routlette: Risk and public health

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants to balance consumer choice with public protection with its ‘risky foods framework’ policy for local authorities. John Bassett, food safety consultant, argues that this approach has implications for enforcers, industry and above all consumers.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175Although the FSA went public on their risky foods framework at the end of last year, they haven’t been shouting about it too loudly. Steve Wearne, the FSA’s director of policy, emphasised that consumer choice was at the heart of everything they do and outlined the approach at the recent CIEH Food Safety Conference. 

It is clear that the framework will support increased freedoms to sell and choose such ‘Russian roulette’ delicacies such as rare burgers and raw milk. Some consumers are passionate about their right to eat foods that many would consider unsafe, and cynics may say that the framework has been developed as a result of the inability of the FSA and local authorities to effectively communicate or regulate for those risks. A recent example of this is demonstrated by the court ruling allowing for Davy’s to sell rare burgers. 

But apart from the strong UK consumer voice, there is a drive globally for regulators to base management decisions on risk and remove prescriptive controls that seek to reduce risk down to an unachievable zero risk. Risk-based controls will allow businesses to manage risks more flexibly, on the basis of robust risk assessment, which should lead to innovations in food products and cost-savings, benefits that can flow to consumers both directly through better/cheaper products and indirectly through more targeted regulatory attention to the most significant risks. In particular, there are significant cost, nutritional and environmental benefits to be realised by the reduction of over-processing of many food products.

meatwad.raw.hamburgerWhile government and food businesses can develop or commission risk assessments, these products by definition will still pose a higher risk than the majority of foods. The remaining risk will have been deemed by the FSA to be ‘acceptable’, at least to the consumers who accept the higher risk that they pose. But will consumers be able to understand the risks that they are taking? One key communication channel will undoubtedly be packaging labelling. The FSA board is considering the extension of raw milk labelling requirements for Northern Ireland and England in their meeting in July, but they also recognise that ‘it is difficult to demonstrate quantifiable public health benefits associated with enhanced labelling and consumer research carried out … provided variable view’.

Warnings on menus where rare burgers are served are subject to the same uncertainties as raw milk labels. A key part of the risky foods framework and the FSA strategy in general is the engagement of consumers on the risks they personally find acceptable. A lot more work is required before the FSA and businesses can say with confidence that the risks they want to communicate are truly, effectively received and understood, and hence accepted by consumers.

Salad safety in Ireland

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland reports this survey investigated the microbiological safety of ready-to-eat, pre-cut and pre-packaged fresh herbs and salad leaves available at retail sale in Ireland.

lettuceOver 1,000 samples were tested for the presence of Salmonella and enumerated for Listeria monocytogenes. Salmonella was detected in only 0.1% (1/1,005) of samples; this was a bag of rocket leaves grown in Italy from which S. Napoli was isolated. L. monocytogenes was below the limit of enumeration (<10 cfu/g) for 99.8% (998/1,000) of samples and at 10 cfu/g for the remaining two samples, all well below the maximum legal limit of 100 cfu/g.

Some samples were tested for the presence of verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC). In total, 0/247 samples tested using the CEN/ISO TS 13136 method (which targets the major VTEC virulence genes stx and eae) were positive. In addition, 0/397 samples tested specifically for E. coli O26 were positive and although 1/403 samples tested specifically for the presence of E. coli O157 was positive, the isolate did not contain the genes required to produce verotoxin and therefore, was not of clinical significance.

This survey was carried out from June to October, the months when Irish produce was most likely on sale. Irish origin produce made up 62% of the samples tested in this survey, none of which were unsatisfactory.

Producers labelled fresh herbs and salad leaves with a wide range of storage instructions, particularly in relation to the temperature for chilled storage. Maximum storage temperatures as low as 3oC were recommended by some producers; however, the national recommended temperature for chilled storage is 0-5 oC. Food business operators that package ready-to-eat, pre-cut, fresh herbs and salad leaves should also be aware that the temperature in domestic fridges is generally higher than at retail and wholesale level.

In total, 87% of samples were stored or displayed in refrigerated conditions at the time the sample was collected.

The air temperature of the refrigeration unit for the majority (77%) of these samples was ≤5 oC. However, the air temperature of the refrigeration unit for 23% of chilled samples was >5oC. Indeed, an air temperature of 7.1oC was measured for the refrigeration unit in which the Salmonella-positive bag of rocket leaves was stored. This temperature could allow Salmonella numbers on the already contaminated product to increase if the shelf-life is sufficiently long. Food business operators should ensure that refrigeration units do not exceed the maximum chilled temperature of 5oC.

The bag of rocket in which Salmonella was detected was labelled as already washed. Washing (with or without the presence of sanitisers) cannot eliminate pathogens on fresh produce. Therefore, producers must take all reasonable measures to control potential points of contamination in the field, during harvesting, processing and distribution; for example using guides to good practice such as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) Code of

Practice for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Supply Chain (FSAI, 2001a). In addition, food business operators should ensure that their traceability records for the fresh herbs and salad leaves are robust, as this will facilitate rapid control measures to be implemented should a pathogen be detected in a batch of fresh herbs or salad leaves or if they are implicated in an outbreak of illness. The FSAI has produced Guidance Note No.10 on

Product Recall and Traceability (FSAI, 2013).

 Survey of the microbiological safety of ready-to-eat, pre-cut and pre-packaged fresh herbs and salad leaves from retail establishments in Ireland (13NS7)

Food Safety Authority of Ireland, May 2015