‘We grind our patties in store every day’ so they’re safe, and other hamburger myths

Not sure who is worse here: the celebrity chef or the government regulators.

But they’re both wrong on the topic of shiga-toxin producing E. coli in hamburgers.

meatwad.raw.hamburgerThe stories pitch it as a “bun fight between health bureaucrats and burger bars over what makes a safe hamburger.”

And both sides are using erroneous information.

I don’t really care what people eat, other than what they feed to their kids, and that accurate information is provided.

A NSW Food Authority spokeswoman said council officers had approached the watchdog in recent months “concerned about the increase in businesses serving rare/undercooked burgers” and potential health risks.

The authority has sent revised “Hamburger Food Safety” guidelines to Environment Health Officers, attached to the state’s 152 councils.

“Mince meat should be cooked right through to the centre,” the instructions say, citing a temperature of 71C.

“No pink should be visible and juices should run clear.”

Color is a lousy indicator, as is juices running clear. The only way to tell if a burger is safe is to use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Regulators, with all their talk of science-based activities, should know better.

The spokeswoman said if businesses wanted to cook using an alternative temperature, “they must be able to demonstrate that their cooking process is safe”. Burger bars that don’t meet the new guidelines face penalties up to $1540 per offence “for the preparation or sale of unsafe food”.

Sydney chef Neil Perry, who plans to open four Burger Project stores this year, cooks his patties to medium — about 60C. But he said the big difference is staff at his outlets grind meat fresh every day, making it safe.

“We can do medium-rare, which is about 55C, but we rarely get asked for that,” he said. “About 10 per cent of orders are for ‘well done’.”

Perry said the food guidelines serve as a “worst-case scenario” safety net.

“Those guidelines from the health department are important because a lot of burger places have their patties supplied by butchers and have already been minced,” he said.

Perry said bacteria starts growing as soon as meat is minced so chefs need to mince and cook on the same day and keep meat refrigerated at the right temperature:

“We grind our patties in store every day.”

So what?

Shiga-toxin producing E. coli are generally found on the surface of meat cuts (unless that meat has been needle tenderized). The process of mincing moves the outside to the inside, so rare is risky.

Those dangerous E. coli are also especially infectious, with as few as 10 cells thought to cause illness.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175

FDA warns ‘small family company trying to make dogs and cats healthier’ about Salmonella in its dog food

Federal authorities have notified a Berks County, Penn. raw-pet food producer that its dog food has been found to contain salmonella.

sadie.car.10A U.S. Food and Drug Administration “warning letter” sent last month to Lystn LLC, dba Answers Pet Food at 356 Maidencreek Road in Richmond Township, says the company’s Detailed Answers Chicken Formula dog food showed traces of salmonella.

The FDA letter says investigators found salmonella in its Detailed Answers Chicken, 8-ounce raw chicken patties and the 2-pound carton Detailed Answers Chicken Formula.

In a news release issued Wednesday and subsequent telephone interview, Lystn officials denied the company is introducing salmonella in its pet food or allowing product in the market “that could result in illness to animals or humans.”

Company officials also say they believe they have addressed the FDA’s concerns about its food processing and contend the agency has denied to address the company’s follow-up questions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows a limited amount of salmonella in poultry and other food consumed by humans, said Jacqueline C. Hill, the company’s vice president of operations, product development and sales.

“But we’re not regulated by the USDA but by the FDA, and it says pet food can’t contain any salmonella,” Hill said. “We’re a small family company trying to make dogs and cats healthier.”

Lystn began selling raw pet food in 2010, said Hill, adding there are many advantages to feeding it to domestic animals, including helping to heal those with chronic health issues.

Raw is risky: 4 sick with Salmonella in Canada linked to raw pet food

Pet owners are being warned Saturday after an outbreak of Salmonella has been found in connection with raw pet food.

sadie.dog.powellAs of Friday afternoon, four British Columbians who feed their pets raw food diets have all become infected with the same strain of Salmonella. The BC Centre for Disease Control said the exact source of the Salmonella is unknown, but investigations are currently underway.

Raw is risky: Pressed Juicery edition

Besides the high sugar levels, I don’t frequent those funky juice bars and I don’t buy unpasteurized juice because of the risk of bacterial contamination.

pressed-juicery-reviewI haven’t seen frozen juice in Australia, but as Sloan sings, “three cans of water provokes me.”

Hayden Slater, chief executive thingy of Fresno, CA-based Pressed Juicery, received a catchy letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which said that after numerous inspections in 2015, that the juice manufacturing facility had serious violations from the FDA’s juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation, Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 120 (21 CFR Part 120).

This inspection resulted in FDA’s issuance of a Form FDA-483 Inspectional Observations (FDA-483), at the conclusion of the inspection. 

Mr. Slater, your juice sucks.

  1. Your HACCP plan does not include control measures that will consistently produce, at a minimum a 5-log reduction of the most pertinent microorganism(s) of public health significance that is likely to occur in the juice, for at least as long as the shelf life of the product when stored under normal and moderate abuse conditions, as required by 21 CFR 120.24(a). Your HACCP plan for “Ready to Drink Beverages, Soups (Food Drink), Freeze and Toppings,” which includes low acid 100% juices (pH > 4.6), does not have control measures for the pertinent microorganism, Clostridium botulinum. Furthermore, the validation study conducted by Food Microbiological Laboratories to validate the microbial load reduction of Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 in your juice products using the High Hydrostatic Pressure (HHP) process did not take into consideration the pertinent microorganism C. botulinum for the low acid products. Additionally, FDA recommends you provide a validation study for each of the products you manufacture, to demonstrate, at a minimum, a 5-log reduction of the most pertinent microorganism(s) of concern.

FDA believes that it is necessary to address the control of hazards that could occur in low acid refrigerated juices subjected to severe temperature abuse. Further guidance on this public health issue can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Juice/ucm072481.htm].

  1. Your HACCP plan must, at a minimum, list all food hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, to comply with 21 CFR 120.8(b)(1). A “food hazard” is defined in 21 CFR 120.3(g) as “any biological, chemical, or physical agent that is reasonably likely to cause illness or injury in the absence of its control.” However, your HACCP plan for “Ready to Drink Beverages, Soups (Food Drink), Freeze and Toppings,” which includes juice blends with apple juice, does not list the food hazard patulin. Because patulin, a mycotoxin, can occur in apple juice from rotting or molding apples and is not destroyed with thermal processing, it is reasonably likely to occur in your juice products that contain apple juice.

No thanks: Parasite destruction proof needed for sushi

The source of raw tuna and salmon being served at Enos Sushi in Forsyth County couldn’t be verified when a Forsyth County, Georgia, health inspector made a recent routine inspection.

sushi-largeThe fish was not in the original packaging and parasite destruction documentation was not available either, the inspector said. Points were taken off because food safety could not be determined, and the fish would be served raw in sushi.

Enos Sushi, 3630 Peachtree Parkway, Suwanee, received a failing score of 34/U. The restaurant also failed a routine inspection in August with a 62/U, then improved to 88/B on the follow-up inspection.

Trichinellosis in 3 French travelers after eating bear meat in Greenland

Jean Dupouy-Camet reports to ProMED-mail that on 11 Mar 2016, a 55-year-old patient presented to the Parasitology Clinical Service of Cochin Hospital in Paris complaining of high fever and muscular pain that he had been suffering from since 4 Mar 2016.

Green-MeatHe was part of a group of 3 French people having recently travelled in East Greenland. Between, 13 and 16 Feb 2016, they each had consumed around 200 g of polar bear (_Ursus maritimus_) meat. The polar bear meat had been cut into 1 cm thick slices and then fried for several minutes, but was still pink when eaten.

One of the consumers, aged 56, was totally asymptomatic besides one day of pronounced diarrhea at the beginning of March. On 9 Mar 2016 the last consumer, aged 59, developed fever, myalgia and a slight facial edema and one day of diarrhea. Blood tests were performed on all the patients and showed both elevated muscle enzyme and eosinophile levels.

Antibody testing for _Trichinella_ was positive by ELISA and western blot for the 3 patients (LDBio Diagnostics, France) and they were prescribed albendazole for 10-days. The polar bear, weighing around 400 kg, was shot by a local accredited Inuit hunter in the Scorebysund region on the East coast of Greenland.

Only the 3 French travellers ate under-cooked meat, whereas local people ate the meat boiled and have been informed that the polar bear was infected with _Trichinella_. None of the meat was imported to France.

Not just an Australian problem: Salmonella in raw-egg mayo apparent culprit in Lucky’s restaurant outbreak with 77 sick

Nine people who became ill after eating at Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery tested positive for salmonella, and so did mayonnaise that the restaurant made in-house, local health officials said Monday.

mayonnaise.raw.eggThe number of people who complained of being sickened after eating at Lucky’s rose to 77 by Monday, an increase of 17 since Friday, according to John Steele, spokesman for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County. Those who became ill reported stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Five people were admitted to hospitals, although health officials said they don’t know whether anyone remains hospitalized. The restaurant shut down Monday, Feb. 29. Health officials expect the number of confirmed salmonella cases to rise as test results are completed, Steele said.

Drew Trick, the owner of Lucky’s, said Monday that the eatery will never make its mayonnaise in-house again. On the tap room’s Facebook page, Trick wrote, “Well, it seems our efforts to source locally and make our food from scratch has failed our customers and ourselves. Know that we are doing all that is possible to rectify the situation and eliminate the chance of this happening again.”

Lucky’s, at 520 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District, will remain closed “for an unknown period of time,” Trick wrote, but hopes “to open with a clean bill of health very soon.” The restaurant and craft-beer bar had been gearing up for its 5th anniversary celebration this week.

A table of raw egg-related outbreaks in Australia is available at:


Irradiation of almonds to control Salmonella

Two outbreaks of salmonellosis were linked to the consumption of raw almonds from California in 2001 and 2004.

almonds-cssrAs a result, federal regulations were developed, which mandate that all almonds grown in California must be treated with a process that results in a 4-log reduction of Salmonella. Because most of the technologies approved to treat almonds rely on the application of heat to control Salmonella, an evaluation of alternative technologies for inactivating heat-resistant Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 and Salmonella Senftenberg 775W was needed.

In this study, almonds were inoculated with Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 and Salmonella Senftenberg 775W and then treated with an electron beam (e-beam) or by blanching or oil roasting. The irradiation D 10-values for Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 and Salmonella Senftenberg 775W treated with e-beam were 0.90 and 0.72 kGy, respectively. For heat treatments, thermal D 10-values for Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 and Salmonella Senftenberg 775W strains were 15.6 and 12.4 s, respectively, when subjected to blanching at 88°C and 13.2 and 10.9 s, respectively, when roasted in oil at 127 ± 2°C.

No significant differences in irradiation and thermal treatment results were observed between Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 and Salmonella Senftenberg 775W (P > 0.05), indicating that e-beam irradiation may be a feasible technology for reducing Salmonella in almonds. However, the sensory changes resulting from irradiating at the doses used in this study must be evaluated before e-beam irradiation can be used as a nonthermal alternative for decontamination of almonds.

Efficacy of Traditional Almond Decontamination Treatments and Electron Beam Irradiation against Heat-Resistant Salmonella Strains

Journal of Food Protection, Number 3, March 2016, Pages 369-375, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-059

P. Cuervo, L. M. Lucia, and A. Castillo



Raw is risky: Taiwan regulators warn of food poisoning from shellfish

The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged people not to eat raw shellfish to avoid food poisoning, such as norovirus infection, as several recently reported cases of food poisoning were all caused by eating raw shellfish.

raw.clamsRaw shellfish, including raw clams and oysters, can easily be contaminated by norovirus or Vibrio parahaemolyticus in their growing environment, the agency said, adding that norovirus is one of the most common viruses that cause viral gastroenteritis.

The transmission of norovirus is primarily fecal-oral, and as few as 10 or less viral particles can cause an infection, Division of Food Safety official Hsu Chao-kai (許朝凱) said, adding that norovirus infection can cause an infected person to exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, stomach pain, watery diarrhea and, in some cases, a fever.

The agency said people should not risk their health to enjoy the taste of raw shellfish and urged the public to wash and cook shellfish thoroughly before eating.

Fancy food ain’t safe food, Hong Kong edition: 6 sick with noro from raw oysters

The Excelsior has taken oysters off the menu due to several diners falling sick at the luxury hotel’s rooftop restaurant last week.

The Centre for Food Safety is investigating after at least six diners who ate imported Penn Cove oysters at the Causeway Bay hotel’s Tott’s and Roof Terrace restaurant on February 23 showed symptoms of food poisoning.

The CFS has also banned the import and sale of raw oysters from the same area.

A spokesman said the CFS had linked a case of food poisoning to the consumption of raw oysters.

“The stool specimen of one of the affected persons tested positive for norovirus upon laboratory testing,” the statement said.

“For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all raw oysters harvested from the area,” it added.

The ban will affect Tott’s and Roof Terrace and one other restaurant that obtained the same rogue oysters. According to food safety inspectors, no remaining stock from the affected batch was found on their premises.

A spokeswoman for the Excelsior said: “As soon as we knew of these cases, we stopped all the supply of oysters throughout the hotel.

“We will ensure we maintain our due diligence and, keeping the high standards of our food supplies, maintain very high hygiene standards. We’ll continue to select the best possible suppliers.”