52 college students in Malaysia fall ill after cafeteria meal

A total of 52 students from the Gopeng Matriculation College suffered food poisoning after eating chicken at the cafeteria.

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia

Perak Health Department director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said some of the students started showing symptoms of vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, fever and abdominal pain early on Sunday.

“The students sought outpatient treatment at Kampar Hospital and nearby government and private clinics.

“All are in stable condition and under close observation,” she said here yesterday.

Dr Juita said stool samples, oral swabs of the food handlers and samples of the food had been taken and sent for analysis to find out the cause of any possible contamination.

She said the cafeteria was ordered closed with immediate effect, pending the results of the tests.

The cafeteria operator, who had only just taken over the contract to supply food, has been slapped with a RM1,000 fine under Regulation 34 of the Food Act.

On Wednesday, some 53 students at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar went down with food poisoning after having meals at the dining hall.

1300 sickened in 17 outbreaks: Korea has a school lunch Salmonella problem

More than 500 students at five middle and high schools in northern Seoul came down with salmonella poisoning last week, as did more than 200 students at schools in North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu and Busan.

korea.school.lunchIn total, 17 cases of mass salmonella poisoning had been reported across the nation as of Tuesday, with 1,284 people infected. That was a 34-percent increase compared to last summer and up 52 percent compared to the 2011-2015 average.

An editorial in The Korea Herald says the government’s 5.6 trillion-won ($5 billion) free school meals scheme has been found to be supplying improper lunches to many of the nation’s 6.14 million students.

A government task force inspected between April and July some 2,400 food suppliers and lunch operators and visited 274 of the nation’s 11,700 elementary, middle and high schools that provide students with hot lunches.

The team’s findings, released Tuesday, were disappointing and shocking. It has uncovered a total of 677 violations of the relevant law on the production, sale and consumption of foodstuffs used in school meals.

The findings suggest disregard for food safety and quality is rampant. The number of violations would have been much larger if the task force had visited more schools and inspected more companies.

In one case, a company in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province, washed moldy potatoes with hygienically inappropriate underground water and shuffled them with eco-friendly ones to supply them as organic products.

In another case, a company was found to have used frozen beef that had passed its expiration date by as many as 156 days.  

The investigation also laid bare corrupt practices between schools and food firms. Many schools were found to have awarded contracts to food suppliers in an opaque manner.

Four large food companies – Dongwon, Daesang, CJ Freshway and Pulmuone – are suspected of having provided kickbacks to nutritionists at 3,000 schools to win foodstuff supply contracts.

Many schools were found to lack the ability to inspect the quality of the ingredients provided by suppliers. And at many schools, monitoring of kitchen sanitation was lax.

In light of these and other problems, it would be strange if food poisoning did not occur at schools.

To enhance the quality and safety of school meals, stern punishments should be meted out to those who violate the relevant regulations.

It would be also necessary to encourage parents to keep tabs on school kitchen sanitation. Kitchen managers need to train food service workers to ensure that their kitchens are maintained safely and free from germs and bacteria.

 

UK pub fined £100,000 for mouse infestation

Daniel Woolfson of The Morning Advertiser reports that Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) was slapped with a £100,000 fine after environmental health officers uncovered an infestation of mice at one of its Birmingham pubs.

The  Railway Pub, Birmingham UKThe company, which owns the Harvester and Toby Carvery, pleaded guilty to three food safety offences at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (19 August) after inspectors discovered rodent droppings and unhygienic kitchen conditions at the Railway, Hill Street.

It was ordered to pay £105,000 as well as £9,528 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

Councillor Barbara Dring, Birmingham City Council’s licensing and public protection committee chair, said: “People should be able to have confidence in the safety of the food served and cleanliness of any food business in Birmingham – regardless of whether it’s a pub or a posh restaurant.

“We want the city’s food businesses to thrive and, as such, our officers work closely with premises to ensure they achieve the necessary standards required to operate safely.”

The Railway’s kitchen was ordered to close on the spot after the inspection on February 18 last year but was allowed to reopen two days later when inspectors returned and found improvements to have been made.

Since then it has gone on to achieve a five-star food hygiene rating.

Earlier this summer M&B admitted a breach of duty to 280 customers who were stricken with norovirus after visiting an Exeter Toby Carvery pub in April 2015.

The Exeter Arms was closed after instances of the virus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, were reported to management.

However, it continued to trade after closing for one day and more people fell ill.

Amandeep Dhillon, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, which was instructed by the customers to investigate the outbreak, said at the time it hoped by taking legal action important lessons would be learned when it came to dealing with outbreaks of illness in similar premises.

208 sick: Hawaii Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen raw scallops from Philippines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses linked to raw scallops.

scallops.hep.aThe FDA and CDC are supporting the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) in an investigation of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections linked to scallops supplied by Sea Port Products Corp. On August 17, 2016, Hawaii Department of Health reported that 206 people have been confirmed to have become ill with hepatitis A in that state.

On August 17, 2016, the FDA, Hawaii DOH, CDC and state partners informed Sea Port Products Corp that epidemiological, laboratory and traceback information indicates their scallops are the likely source of illnesses.

On August 18, 2016, Sea Port Products Corp initiated a voluntary recall of frozen Bay Scallops produced on November 23, 2015 and 24, 2015. The products were distributed to California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The FDA is working with the recalling firm to ensure their recall is effective and that recalled product is removed from the market.

Restaurants and other retailers should not sell or serve the recalled Bay Scallops. The recalled products were not sold directly to consumers. FDA advises consumers not to eat the recalled Bay Scallops. Consumers should ask the restaurant or retailer where their scallops came from to make sure they do not eat recalled Bay Scallops from Sea Port Products Corp.

The FDA’s traceback investigation involved working with Hawaii DOH to trace the path of food eaten by those made ill back to a common source. The traceback investigation determined that Sea Port Products Corp imported the scallops that were later supplied to certain Genki Sushi locations in Hawaii, where ill people reported eating.

On August 17, 2016, FDA laboratory analysis of two scallop samples, which were collected on August 11, 2016, were confirmed positive for hepatitis A. These samples were imported by Sea Port Products Corp. 

The scallops are produced by De Oro Resources Inc., in Suba Basbas, Philippines, and imported by Sea Port Products Corp. in Washington state. Health authorities closed Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai late Monday because the scallops had been served there.

 

Another fairytale: Informed choice on food safety

The paper in Adelaide wrote an opinion piece last week about how consumers basically make faith-based decisions when it comes to food safety.

I recycled an old op-ed in response, and still wondering why the same issues haven’t gained traction after 20 years of publicity in Australia.

cantaloupe.salmonellaThe Advertiser editorial thingies wrote that irony can be really ironic, given that the government department charged with upholding and maintaining food standards in SA treats the public like mushrooms.

By keeping the public in the dark by refusing to release the names of the 621 food outlets in breach of hygiene rules last year, SA Health is denying consumers the right to make an informed choice.

While it is good enough for the NSW State Government to identify offending premises, those who water their gardens with human effluent, sell out of date food and have cockroach-infested kitchens in SA apparently deserve anonymity.

There is more than a whiff of double standards surrounding the secrecy of the data held by SA Health.

On one hand (who writes this crap?), the public is not allowed to know which of their local fast food outlets is cutting food hygiene corners by selling six-day-old schnitzels, and on the other, it wasted no time last week issuing a warning about NT- grown rockmelons being the apparent source of a food poisoning outbreak in SA.

Surely the public is allowed to know the identity of a food retailer that has been found guilty of a major breach of food standards that could potentially have the same impact as eating the dodgy rockmelon.

For a food outlet to be warned several times about using effluent to water gardens simply beggars belief.

SA Health’s repeated warnings to the business owner were akin to being slapped with a wet lettuce leaf.

If such a practice can continue for such an extended period of time, the public can only wonder just what sort of heinous breach of food safety regulations a business must commit to be jumped on immediately.

My response was:

I coach little kids’ (ice) hockey in Brisbane.

For that voluntary pleasure, I had to complete 16 hours of certification training, in addition to the 40 hours of training I completed in Canada to coach a travel team.

To produce or serve food in Australia requires … nothing.

Restaurants and food service establishments are a significant source of the foodborne illness that strikes up to 20 per cent of citizens in so-called developed countries each and every year.

After helping develop and watching the mish-mash of federal, state and local approaches to restaurant inspection and disclosure in a number of western countries for the past 15 years, I can draw two broad conclusions:

  • Anyone who serves, prepares or handles food, in a restaurant, nursing home, day care center, supermarket or local market needs some basic food safety training; and,
  • the results of restaurant and other food service inspections must be made public.

There should be mandatory food handler training, for say, three hours, that could happen in school, on the job, whatever. But training is only a beginning. Just because you tell someone to wash the poop off their hands before they prepare salad for 100 people doesn’t mean it is going to happen; weekly outbreaks of hepatitis A confirm this. There are a number of additional carrots and sticks that can be used to create a culture that values microbiologically safe food and a work environment that rewards hygienic behavior. But mandating basic training is a start.

Next is to verify that training is being translated into safe food handling practices through inspection. And those inspection results should be publicly available.

A philosophy of transparency and openness underlies the efforts of many local health units across North America in seeking to make available the results of restaurant inspections. In the absence of regular media exposes, or a reality TV show where camera crews follow an inspector into a restaurant unannounced, how do consumers — diners — know which of their favorite restaurants are safe?

Cities, counties and states are using a blend of web sites, letter or numerical grades on doors, and providing disclosure upon request. In Denmark, smiley or sad faces are affixed to restaurant windows.

Publicly available grading systems rapidly communicate to diners the potential risk in dining at a particular establishment and restaurants given a lower grade may be more likely to comply with health regulations in the future to prevent lost business.

More importantly, such public displays of information help bolster overall awareness of food safety amongst staff and the public — people routinely talk about this stuff. The interested public can handle more, not less, information about food safety.

Even in New South Wales and Queensland, results are only posted voluntarily. 

So if an outlet sucks at food safety, they don’t have to tell anyone.

Toronto, Los Angeles and New York have had mandatory disclosure, on the doors for years.

Adelaide can figure it out.

And instead of waiting for politicians to take the lead, the best restaurants, those with nothing to hide and everything to be proud of, will go ahead and make their inspection scores available — today.

Of course it was the eggs: 71 sick from InterContinental Adelaide buffet

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports the InterContinental Adelaide buffet breakfast that made at least 71 people sick from salmonella poisoning has been linked to cross-contamination from eggs.

scrambled.eggsAn Adelaide City Council and SA Health joint investigation has identified the likely cause of the salmonella as cross contamination or inadequate cooking of raw eggs.

The total number of people struck down with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headaches after eating the breakfast spread at the luxury hotel on Sunday, July 31, has risen to 71, including 21 people who were admitted to hospital.

InterContinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the investigation was “still ongoing”.

“What the Adelaide City Council has released is a likely cause (but) we’re still partnering with them fully to determine what the exact cause was,” he said.

That’s the same McCandless who last week said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

SA Health chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the latest salmonella outbreak was another reminder of the potential risks associated with handling raw eggs.

The hotel’s $37 full breakfast buffet at the Riverside Restaurant includes scrambled eggs.

And what about those dips? Any raw eggs in those?

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

‘It’s not for me to make sense of it, it’s the law: SF tries to justify ‘loophole’ allowing restaurants to wipe away old health scores, dangerous violations

Come to Australia, where mandatory display ain’t mandatory.

Bigad Shaban, Liza, Meak, Mark Villarreal of NBC Bay Area report that in the restaurant world, reputation is everything, especially when it comes to health inspection records.

SCC+Restaurant+Website“We have people’s lives in our hands,” said Alexis Solomou, the owner of Seven Hills in San Francisco. “You could get people very, very sick very, very quickly.”

Solomou’s restaurant boasts a near perfect health inspection score – 98 out of a 100.  He says he has worked hard for it and was upset to learn about a loophole that allows restaurant owners in San Francisco to essentially wipe away their old inspection records and health code scores from the city’s website.

“There’s no reason why anybody should hide their health inspection score or wipe it clean unless there’s something they’re trying to hide,” said Solomou.

Websites such as Yelp take restaurant inspection scores from the city’s public database and post them online to give customers easy access to the information.  But those scores can’t get posted if the city erases the information from its online database.

In May, the Investigative Unit discovered that the San Francisco Department of Public Health deletes old health inspection records from its website if a restaurant files a change of ownership with the city. The application process costs restaurants roughly $600 in city fees but offers new owners a clean slate so they are not saddled with the old health inspection scores from the previous restaurant owner.

However, the Investigative Unit revealed that even after a restaurant files an ownership change with the city, the same people can continue to run the restaurant as long as the owners list a new corporation name as part of that application.

Even in situations when new restaurant owners are listed in the application, the Investigative Unit discovered those owners are still allowed to work for the same corporation that owned the restaurant previously. So while a restaurant may have strong ties to its previous ownership, San Francisco still agrees to delete that restaurant’s old inspection records from the city’s online database.

That’s exactly what happened at a dim sum restaurant in the Diamond Heights neighborhood.  All Season Restaurant, which is officially known as Harbor Villa on city documents, had its history of repeated high-risk violations wiped clean online, even though inspectors found dead cockroaches on utensils and plates.

“It’s not for me to make sense of it; it is what the law requires us to do,” said Stephanie Cushing, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environmental Health.

Cushing and her team of 30 inspectors are in charge of permitting the roughly 7,400 restaurants and caterers throughout San Francisco. In May, Cushing told the Investigative Unit that state and local laws require her department to remove a restaurant’s old inspection records from the city’s website once they file a change of ownership application.

State Law on Restaurant Inspections

That’s simply not true, according to the California Department of Public Health. Nowhere in California’s retail food code does it state a local health department must delete a restaurant’s old health records from its website.

“The law doesn’t specify whether a historical record associated with a prior owner of a business goes with a new company or doesn’t go with a new company,” said Pat Kennelly, California’s Department of Public Health Food Safety Manager.  “The law is silent on the issue.”

Kennelly said there is nothing to keep local health departments from shutting down a restaurant for repeated health violations.

“They have the authority under existing law to be able to take action against them, to fine them, penalize them, impound their equipment, impound product, and ultimately suspend or revoke their permits if they can’t comply with the rules,” Kennelly said.

San Francisco’s Department of Public Health stopped including a restaurant’s previous ownership records online about 10 years ago. A spokeswoman for the department said consumers “only wanted to see the most current score.”  She went on to say that posting the information now “would make it very difficult for people to navigate.”

That response frustrates Solomou.

“To say that San Francisco diners, in particular, are not savvy enough to digest that information is incorrect,” Solomou said.  “I don’t know why anyone would want the wool being pulled over their eyes.”

Solomou said the issue is also one of fairness since his own restaurant’s inspection history is posted online, even though his violations were deemed “low-risk,” including a peeling wall.  He wonders why restaurants with far more serious violations are allowed to wipe their records clean, regardless of how dirty those record may have been over the years.

“To think that someone can come in and change their name … and get any blemishes squashed is scary,” Solomou said. “It really is.”

Everyone’s got a camera: Mouse-at-Sonic edition

Drive-through fast food vendor Sonic, known for their creepy television commercials, made the silver screen in a less appetizing way in Corpus Christi, Texas.

sonic-drive-ins-sonic-drive-ins-600-33126According to Jessica Hamilton of the Houston Chronicle, when the Cortez family pulled up to a Sonic Drive-In window on Saturday, they expected to be handed the four drinks they ordered. Instead, they arrived at the window to find their drinks were already being eyed by a furry friend.

In a viral video posted to Facebook, the family can be heard screaming as 14-year-old Christian Cortez records a mouse walking on the fountain drink machine at the Ayers Street location. An employee with a long stick attempts to move the mouse off the machine.

“I was really shocked to see it, especially since it was right next to our drinks,” Cortez said. “Once it went around the fountain machine an employee was still trying to give us our drinks. We told them we wanted a refund.”

The family got their money back.

A spokesperson for Sonic issued a statement Tuesday morning, stating the franchisee at the location has increased pest control measures, including two visits over the weekend.

“The drive-in is currently in good standing with the Health Department and the franchisee takes food safety very seriously. All food safety issues are acted upon immediately,” said Jason Cook, manager of communications for Sonic-In. “They appreciate the trust and confidence customers place in Sonic every day to serve them delicious and safe food. They take pride in being a good community partner and are proud of the service their employees provide to customers every day in Corpus Christi.”

Uh-huh.

Fine dining in Brisbane

A restaurant operator who was caught storing dodgy ice-cream balls and tenderising chicken at an ‘alarming’ temperature has been ordered to pay a hefty fine.

West End GardenMinh Tri Nguyen, who operates the restaurant West End Garden, was last week fined $37,500 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court after he pleaded guilty to a string of food safety violations.

Brisbane City Council authorities inspected the restaurant after five diners suffered food poisoning in January 2015.

Council prosecutor Mark Thomas had previously told the court that authorities had found ice cream balls, a tea towel and dish cloth contaminated with salmonella.

He also said chicken and beef had been found tenderising in a sink at a dangerous temperature.

First Denmark, now Norway for smiley-faced restaurant ratings

Nina Berglund of News in English.no reports inspectors from Norway’s state food safety agency Mattilsynet had little to smile about after their most recent visits to 1,100 restaurants in the Oslo area. Six out of 10 restaurants failed to earn the smiley face insignia that symbolizes good hygiene.

rest.inspection.smile.norway.aug.16Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday that only 41 percent of the eating places inspected by Mattilsynet in Oslo, Asker and Bærum were awarded the smiley face, which means they met the authorities’ standards for good hygiene.

“We of course wished that the results were better, but we’re not surprised,” Marit Kolle, division chief at Mattilsynet, told NRK. The results show a decline from national inspections earlier this year, when more than 60 percent did well and received smiley faces.

Kolle said that half the restaurants inspected most recently were given a straight face, after inspectors found deficiencies and errors in hygienic routines. “Those establishments get a warning from us that they must improve their routines,” Kolle said.

Another 9 percent were hit with a sour face symbol, meaning they flunked the hygiene inspection. Inspectors can close them on the spot if the violations are severe, or fine them.

The system of symbolizing the hygiene of restaurants was launched January 1 as a means of advising patrons about food safety inspection results. After an initial round of visits to 2,279 restaurants nationwide, around a third failed to win smiley faces.

The restaurants are obliged to post the smiley-, straight- or sour-faced symbols at their front doors. NRK reported earlier this year that Mattilsynet inspectors claimed many were failing to do so, thus “sabotaging” the program.

Restaurant inspection results are also made public on the state agency’s own website, matportalen.no/smilefjes.

smiley.faces.denmark.rest.inspection