Data says so: Australia does have a raw egg problem

Statistics show that the consumption of foods containing raw or minimally cooked eggs is currently the single largest source of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks in Australia.

garlic_aioliI based a large part of my research career on verifying the soundbite, ‘we have released guidelines’ or, ‘we follow all recommendations’ by arranging to have students see what actually goes on.

In October 2014, the New South Wales Food Authority released Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products (the Guidelines). Despite this, outbreaks continued to take place, particularly where business hygiene and temperature control issues were apparent. In addition, businesses and councils approached the Food Authority for advice on desserts containing raw eggs and other unusual raw egg dishes. As a result, the Guidelines were recently updated and give specific reference to Standard 3.2.2, Division 3, clause 7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure that only safe and suitable food is processed.

To reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella, retail businesses are advised to avoid selling food containing raw or minimally cooked eggs. The Guidelines give food businesses that do sell food containing raw egg specific safety steps for its preparation and clear guidance and advice on what they must do to meet food safety regulations. The revised Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products is available at www. foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/ retail/raw_egg_guidelines.pdf.

raw-eggsOr as the Australian Food Safety Information Council now says, buy, don’t make aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nice but of no use to consumers at a restaurant who order fish and chips  with a side of mayo or aioli. I’ve already begun an ad hoc investigation – because I don’t want my family to get sick – and can say that out of the 15 times I’ve asked over the past few years – is the aioli or mayo made at the restaurant or bought commercially – the server invariably returns and proclaims, We only use raw eggs in our aioli or mayo.

Wrong answer.

Only once, so far, has an owner or chef said, we know of the risk, we only use the bought stuff. And they’re ex-pat Canadians.

Giv’r, eh.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

Raw is risky: Searching for answers behind Vibrio-in-raw-oyster outbreaks

Michael Casey of The Charlotte Observer reports that for the past 25 years, researcher Stephen Jones has tried to understand the threat that bacteria may pose to oysters in New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary. He often couldn’t get funding to study the problem. But that is beginning to change as scientists notice “something is going on.”

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish.  (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun)   [PNG Merlin Archive]

Scientists are recognizing that a waterborne disease sickening tens of thousands of people each year is associated with warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico moving northward, partly due to climate change. The problem is extremely rare in New Hampshire and neighboring Maine, but scientists have seen cases elsewhere in New England and expect it to become a bigger problem.

Cases of human illness have been piling up since Sept. in Florida, Massachusetts and Western Canada.

“We have this situation in the northern part of the United States and other cooler climates where people haven’t thought this had been a problem,” said Jones, of the Northeast Center for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at the University of New Hampshire. “In the last 10 or 20 years, it’s become very apparent that there is something going on.”

In a paper in the science journal PLOS One, Jones and other scientists reported their findings that illnesses from vibrio bacteria have jumped significantly in New England — from five cases in 2000 to 147 in 2013. Disease-causing bacteria can contaminate oysters, leading to infections such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Jones and his colleague, Cheryl Whistler, concluded that warmer waters in the Great Bay, higher salinity and the presence of chlorophyll all contributed to higher concentrations of one of the more common vibrio species that makes people sick — vibrio parahaemolyticus. The researchers are hoping their findings will serve as the foundation of an early warning system for the region’s booming oyster industry.

oysters-grillCurrently, all experts can do is monitor the waters and rapidly cool harvested oyster to halt bacteria growth.

An August report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that warming waters were linked to waterborne food poisoning, especially from eating raw oysters.

“There is similar reporting in Alaska where it has been found that increased cases have been occurring where it has not been reported before because of the temperature rise,” said the study’s lead author, Rita Colwell, of the University of Maryland.

The industry has welcomed Jones and Whistler’s work, noting that outbreaks like the one that occurred last month in Massachusetts need to be avoided. Nearly 75 people were sickened.

“When you are involved with a recall because people have gotten sick, you are a losing tremendous amount of money and a tremendous amount of credibility,” said Tom Howell, president of Spinney Creek Shellfish Inc., in Eliot, Maine, which harvests oysters from the Great Bay. A predictive model would allow the industry to move more aggressively to avoid an outbreak, he said.

But Howell and Chris Nash, New Hampshire’s shellfish program manager, said that day could be far off.

“We are still learning what seems to trigger these pathogenic strains to multiply … We don’t have that knowledge yet and it may be that we never do,” Nash said. “We are talking about biological organisms … They react to their environment different, the same way humans do.”

Norovirus: Over 100 sickened by raw oysters on Vancouver Island

CBC reports Island Health says Norovirus is likely to blame after more than 100 people who ate raw oysters in Tofino earlier this month fell ill.

osoyoos-oyster-festival-sampling-feature-600x403Roughly 120 people, many of whom had attended the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, suffered gastrointestinal symptoms last week.

But Island Health says people got sick at more than one location, and that people reported being ill over the course of several days.

They say it appears everyone who became ill consumed raw oysters from the same supplier, who is not being named. 

Why not? Going public failure.

“The predominant amount of evidence clearly shows that raw oysters at that particular point in time that were available were the cause of the illness,” said Paul Hasselback, a medical health officer for Island Health.

norovirusHasselback says they are now investigating how the affected oysters were harvested and transported.

There have been a number of shellfish-related illnesses in B.C. in the past two years, and officials have warned that the warming climate is linked to an increase in food poisoning from oysters.

Barf’s up: South Bank Surf Club faces 32 charges after 28 sickened with raw egg aioli

On Sept. 23, 2015, Brisbane’s South Bank Surf Club allegedly made up a large batch of raw-egg-based aioli sauce and served it for seven days.

garlic_aioliAt least 28 diners were sickened.

At the time, the manager of the club said the cause was “a bad batch of eggs’’ provided by a supplier. They said the eggs had been used in sauces served with seafood platters.

“We’ve been caught out, unfortunately. Our customers’ wellbeing is our priority and anyone with concerns can get in touch with us,” they said. “To rectify the problem, we are not making sauces in-house.’’

This is a common refrain in Australia.

We, the chefs, would never put the health of our customers in harm’s way, yet they continue to do so with the line, we got a bad batch of eggs.

south-bank-surf-club-1_lrgNow, Brisbane City Council health inspectors have filed a complaint in Brisbane Magistrates Court accusing the club, owned by Brisbane hospitality king Bevan Bickle, of letting the aioli and other sauces sit kitchen benches for up to three hours without refrigeration on the day they were used in meals including fish and chips, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches between September 23 and October 1 last year.

Court documents state aioli is a “potentially hazardous food” because “pathogenic microorganisms” can grow due to the raw egg and it needs to be refrigerated.

The club faces 32 charges of breaching food safety laws.

When inspector Heath Vogler visited the restaurant on October 16 he alleges the aioli was kept at 11C.

The council summons filed in court states aioli must be stored below 5C to minimise the growth of poisonous bacteria.

The case returns to court on December 23. The restaurant has not entered a plea.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

Gross: Raw chicken sashimi: Japan’s health types urge

Takahiro Takenouchi of The Asahi Shimbun reports that chicken sashimi and “tataki” (seared chicken breasts and livers) are a common menu item in yakitori bars and restaurants across Japan.

chicken-sashimiHowever, eating undercooked or raw chicken can cause food poisoning via the campylobacter bacteria, which can cause severe stomach pain and diarrhea.

Raw beef liver and raw pork are banned, but no such restrictions have been imposed on raw chicken, despite many cases of food poisoning caused by eating tainted bird meat.

“It is not fatty, and I love it. I never worry about food poisoning,” said a 39-year-old company employee enjoying a plate of chicken sashimi at a yakitori bar in Tokyo.

The owner of the yakitori bar added, “Chicken sashimi and tataki have been some of our popular dishes since we opened (50 years ago). I am careful about campylobacter.”

The owner said she purchases chickens freshly butchered in the morning for sashimi, and the meat is boiled in hot water until the surface turns white. No cases of food poisoning have ever been reported related to her restaurant.

In June this year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare finally took action and advised regional public health centers to take steps to implement preventative measures to reduce food poisoning from raw chicken.

Although the advisory is not legally binding, the ministry printed fliers asking restaurants to change their practices.

“Re-evaluate raw and half-raw chicken menus,” the flier reads, urging restaurants to heat the meat at 75 degrees at its core for one minute.

More than 800 people complained about stomachaches or diarrhea in Tokyo and Fukuoka in April and May after eating chicken breast sashimi and chicken sushi rolls at events made by the same company.

chicken-sashimi-2The mass food poisoning in the span of two months prompted the ministry to issue its advisory.

According to ministry preliminary statistics, there were 56 cases with 395 people treated at the hospital for food poisoning from campylobacter from June to August. More than half of the identified causes were due to consuming chicken.

Another ministry report says that 67 percent of chicken meat processed for consumption tested positive for the bacteria, and freshness does not always mean safe.

 “There is a certain demand for raw chicken eating, and it is part of our food culture,” a health ministry official said.

The ministry plans to estimate the number of campylobacter infection cases that go unreported to gauge the extent of the food poisoning as it only causes minor diarrhea in some cases. In addition, the ministry seeks to implement sterilizing methods, such as rapid freezing technology or food disinfectants.

“We never expect the public to consume chickens raw,” said Teruaki Oshima with the Japan Chicken Association, which is made up of meat producers and food processing companies. “If consumers choose to eat raw chicken, they should carefully consider the risks, and the level of hygiene and credibility of the restaurant.”

5 things a Canadian food safety expert will never eat

Carmen Chai of Global News reports that Rick Holley, a veteran food safety expert and University of Manitoba professor emeritus says these are the five things he won’t eat:

mi-rick-holley-1212Raw shellfish and seafood

Raw sprouts and chopped raw vegetables and fruits

(“I do not eat sprouts, unless they’re cooked.”

He eats the chopped salads from the grocery store, though.

“I’m confessing now that I accept the risk because I value the convenience,” he said.

If you’re chopping up vegetables and fruit, they’re safe to eat for about four hours if kept at room temperature. In the fridge, they can last for up to three days, he said.)

Unpasteurized drinks

Undercooked meat

Undercooked eggs.

“My wife doesn’t like to sit with me at dinner and have guests in because, invariably, the conversation rotates to subjects near and dear to my heart and that’s contamination,” Holley joked.

My list is the same.

‘MasterChef-itis’ leading to Australian restaurant staff shortages (and dumb food safety)

Young Australians are attracted to the “rock star” chef lifestyle depicted in reality cooking shows, but don’t want to put in the hard graft to get there, Good Food Guide editor Myffy Rigby says.

rockstar-chefRigby has just released the latest annual Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and said while the food industry was going strong, many restaurants were still having a tough time finding staff.

A Deloitte Access Economics report last year found a current gap of 38,000 staff across the tourism and hospitality sector, a shortage predicted to increase to 123,000 by 2020.

The report predicted demand would be strongest for chefs and restaurant managers.

However, Rigby said young people in particular just weren’t prepared for the years of physical toil it required to make it to the top.

“I think there’s a little bit of MasterChef-itis, I’m going to call it.”

Meanwhile, the Guide announces 11 café trends they’re glad are going away.

Here’s another: No more raw eggs in mayo and aioli.

But that’s a food safety thing and can’t compete with food porn.

Until people get sick.

CDC version: 4 dead, 33 sickened from Listeria linked to Dole packaged greens

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control came out with a summary of its investigation of Listeria in Dole packaged leafy greens produced at its Columbus, Ohio plant.

lettuce.tomato.skullIn September 2015, PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, identified a cluster of Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) clinical isolates indistinguishable by two-enzyme pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern combination and highly related by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST). A case was defined as isolation of Listeria with the outbreak PFGE pattern and highly related by wgMLST with an isolation date on or after July 5, 2015, the isolate date of the earliest case in this cluster.

A standardized Listeria Initiative questionnaire (1) was used to gather information about foods consumed in the 4 weeks before illness from seven persons identified by November 30, 2015, with isolation dates occurring July 5, 2015–October 30, 2015. This tool did not include leafy green vegetables and failed to identify a common source for the infections. During December 2015 and January 2016, eight new or previously interviewed patients or their surrogates participated in open-ended interviews or provided shopper card records, and all reported consuming leafy greens in the month before illness onset. Among these, seven (88%) reported romaine and six (75%) reported spinach, higher than national food consumption estimates of 47% (p = 0.022) and 24% (p = 0.003), respectively (2). Six patients (75%) recalled consuming packaged salad, and three patients (38%) who recalled brands reported packaged salad brands processed by Company A (that’d be Dole).

The Ohio Department of Agriculture obtained packaged salad processed at Company A’s Ohio facility from a store during routine sampling. On January 14, 2016, PulseNet analyzed sequence data from Listeria isolated from the packaged salad, and the isolate was highly related to the clinical isolates by wgMLST (median allele differences <10). This molecular finding, combined with the epidemiologic information, led the Food and Drug Administration to initiate an inspection of Company A’s Ohio facility on January 16, 2016. Two food samples collected during the inspection yielded Listeria, and wgMLST analysis indicated that they were highly related (median allele differences <10) to clinical and retail product isolates.

On January 21, 2016, Company A voluntarily halted production at its Ohio facility and conducted a market withdrawal of all packaged salad products from that facility because of possible Listeria contamination.* The market withdrawal included 22 varieties of packaged salads sold under various brand names. Company A issued a voluntary recall of these products on January 27, 2016, which further identified the list of affected products and brand names.

After the market withdrawal and recall, CDC fielded >450 inquiries about listeriosis from concerned consumers and clinicians, and the CDC outbreak website received >787,000 page views, more views than after any other foodborne illness outbreak to date.

lettuceAs of March 28, 2016, there were 19 persons meeting the case definition from nine states (Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) with isolation dates through January 31, 2016. All were hospitalized; one died. One illness in a pregnant woman resulted in a preterm live birth. One otherwise healthy child developed meningitis.

The Public Health Agency of Canada investigated 14 cases of listeriosis associated with this outbreak, with onset dates from May 7, 2015 to February 23, 2016 (3). Six Canadian clinical isolates were compared with U.S. clinical isolates and were highly related by wgMLST. Three cases reported consuming packaged salad processed at the Ohio facility. In January 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) collected 55 packaged salads from stores in Canada representing 12 different products processed at the Ohio facility. CFIA isolated the outbreak strain and issued a food recall warning on January 22, 2016, for all products processed at the Ohio facility and distributed in Canada.

The wgMLST analysis identified this listeriosis cluster and provided evidence of the link between contaminated food products and human illness. This allowed timely recall of potentially contaminated food, which might have prevented additional cases of serious illness.

This is the first reported outbreak of listeriosis associated with leafy greens and the eighth reported outbreak of listeriosis associated with fresh produce in the United States; all occurred since 2008 (4).** It is unclear whether the appearance of these outbreaks might be attributed to improved outbreak detection, changes in consumer behavior, or changes in production and distribution. Fresh produce processors are advised to review food safety plans and consider incorporating measures to avoid the growth and persistence of Listeria.†† The Listeria Initiative questionnaire has been revised to include additional questions about fresh produce to better identify produce vehicles of Listeria.

Outbreak of listeriosis associated with consumption of packaged salad – United States and Canada, 2015-2016

Weekly / August 26, 2016 / 65(33);879–881

JL Self, A Conrad, S Stroika, A Jackson, L Burnworth, J Beal, A Wellman, KA Jackson, S Bidol, T Gerhardt, M Hamel, K Franklin, C Kopko, P Kirsch, ME Wise, C Basler

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6533a6.htm?s_cid=mm6533a6_e

Minneapolis sees rise in foodborne illness from nororvirus, Vibrio in oysters

When I think Minnesota, I think raw oysters.

No, I never think that about anywhere.

raw.oysters.minnJeremy Olson of the Star Tribune reports that city health inspectors in Minneapolis are investigating a summer increase in foodborne illnesses related to norovirus and Vibrio, a bacteria found in raw oysters.

The increases were highlighted in the city’s “food establishment” newsletter, released Thursday.

“The reason for the spike in norovirus outbreaks is not known,” the advisory stated. “The Vibrio outbreaks are due to higher concentrations of bacteria in some oyster beds during the summer.”

Cases of norovirus, a highly contagious bug that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, are not required to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, but the state agency has received reports of a slight uptick that is unusual for this time of year.

Raw is risky: 2 Tampa Bay residents die from shellfish

Jacqueline Ingles of WFTS Tampa Bay reports, take a ride on Captain Nick Warhurst’s boat and there is just one rule: do not eat raw shellfish.

seven.fish.bbq.dec.11“I’d rather you not eat anything raw on my boat,” said Warhurst. “If you want to eat them raw you wait till you get to the dock and you’re on your own.”

Married to a nurse, Warhurst says he knows the dangers of eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

“Some people die from this stuff,” he explained.

According to the Florida Department of Health, two Bay area residents did get infected with Vibrio Vulnificus and died this year. One resident was from Citrus County, the other resided in Sarasota County.

Vibrio is a bacteria that occurs naturally in Gulf Coast waters.

You can also get infected if you go into water with an open cut or sore.

So far this year, 23 people have been infected by the bacteria across the states. A total of five people have died from the infections.

However, contracting it is rare.

“It is really, really, really rare, but why take the chance,” asked Terry Natwick, the director of sales and marketing at the Plantation Inn in Crystal River.

The inn, which is a hotspot for tourists who’ve come to scallop stay, offers a catch and cook program.

“Not only do we have somebody who will professionally shuck the scallops for you and keep it on ice and then put it in a Ziplock and then you bring it right to our kitchen where we refrigerate it at the proper temperature and cook if for you either that day at lunch or that night for dinner,” Natwick said.

First time scalloper Nick Tulse is taking the Inn up on it’s offer.

“Oh no no, you cook ’em,” said Tulse, who drove up from Bradenton.