France: Probably the meat sauce in cluster of three rare Clostridium baratii type F cases

A cluster of three cases of food-borne botulism due to Clostridium baratii type F occurred in France in August 2015.

michelle-goodfellas-sauceThe Regional Health Agency (ARS) and the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS) initiated an investigation to identify the source of contamination and to take appropriate control measures.

Foodborne botulism is primarily caused by ingestion of food contaminated by C. botulinum. Botulism caused by C. baratii is rare.

The investigation identified the ground meat used to prepare the sauce as the most probable vehicle of C. baratii contamination. However, the ultimate source and mode of contamination of the meat remain unknown. No further case was identified in France during the shelf-life of the contaminated meat despite the wide distribution of the product, and the investigation of the producer’s stored samples was negative.

goodfellasNo toxin was found in frozen and defrosted ground meat but the sauce eaten by the patients was not tested. Based on the restaurant inspection results (no temperature monitoring of stored preparations) and given the known conditions of toxin production, we can hypothesise that the botulinum toxin was produced during the sauce cooking process or storage. Indeed, preparations of a large volume of meat sauce by boiling for more than ten minutes and storage at room temperature for several hours are favourable conditions including anaerobiosis and substrate requirement for Clostridium growth and toxin production.

Disclosure and sick leave: Colorado lawmaker wants restaurants to post notice if workers are not given five paid sick days

A Colorado lawmaker is proposing a “Scarlet Letter” of sorts for statewide restaurants.

Disclosure_Still2_SnapseedState Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, wants to require restaurant owners to have to post a notice on their door if they do not give their employees five paid sick days.

“If employees are not offered paid time off when they’re sick, then we, as the public, should know,” said Ulibarri. “If we know there’s dairy in our food or gluten in our food, we should know if there’s influenza in our food.”

He said his bill is not in response to the recent Chipotle health scare, but rather a few workers in his House district who have said they’ve had to decide between working sick and getting paid or staying home and risk their bills and their jobs.

“When there’s an economic incentive to show up to work sick, it can endanger the health of all of us,” said Ulibarri. “I’ve followed this issue and received some information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which indicated in fact, most of the major food outbreaks are due to sick employees, not listeria or E.coli.”

Denver7 checked with CDPHE and was told that about half of all food-borne outbreaks are caused by Norovirus and not by E.coli, Listeria or other bacterial infections.

“It’s very easy for illness to be spread through a worker who’s ill,” said Brian Hlavacek, Environment Health Director for Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. “Certainly it’s a problem that sometimes workers often work while ill.”

How LA is using data to reduce the risk of foodborne illness

Stephanie K. Baer of The San Gabriel Valley Tribune writes, it wasn’t long ago when Los Angeles County health inspectors relied on handwritten reports manually filed in boxes to keep track of which restaurants they needed to inspect.

larry.david.rest.inspec“LA County got a late start on data management,” said Terri Williams, acting director of the county Department of Public Health’s environmental health division, which is responsible for inspecting more than 39,000 retail food facilities in the county between one and three times a year.

Now, more than two years after implementing Envision Connect, a data management system that tracks inspection data for retail food facility, food truck, housing, and swimming pool inspections, county health officials are beginning to analyze inspection data for food safety trends to help restaurants reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

They plan to meet with representatives from Chipotle in February to discuss trends at the food company’s more than 80 locations in the county as part of a pilot program aimed at helping restaurant operators improve food safety procedures.

“We’re in a position to help them help themselves too, so working together on a positive approach rather than just saying we’re going to call you in for a hearing or we’re going to tack on another inspection,” Williams said, adding the health department would like to continue the program with other large chains.

While Los Angeles County’s data analysis efforts are still in their infancy, other agencies have developed new, innovative strategies to protect consumer health at restaurants.

In Chicago, the city’s Innovation and Technology Department created an algorithm in 2014 that uses data to predict which of the city’s 15,000 food establishments are going to have critical violations, like food temperature issues or vermin infestations.

qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeThe system looks at different variables, like nearby garbage and sanitation complaints, and past inspection results to create a list of the most likely violators.

“The predictions are focused on what we call canvas inspections ‑ where am I going to send my inspectors,” said Chicago’s Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk, “What we’ve done is extract data available on (the city’s) data portal and apply analytics on top of that.”

The city also uses a tool that tracks tweets geocoded to Chicago about people complaining of food poisoning symptoms and then sends the user information about how to report their condition to the health department so it can investigate the restaurant where the person believes they got sick.

The City of Toronto, which developed its own data management system in 2001, has used inspection data to dictate food safety policy and target specific areas in the city where restaurants are experiencing similar health risks, like a cockroach or rodent infestation, said Sylvanus Thompson, Associate Director of Toronto’s food safety program.

“We can use the data to show what section of the city is in more compliance,” Thompson said, referring to an inspection map the city posts on its website.

Similar to what Los Angeles County is working toward, the city will also run reports to track the most common infractions and share that information with local restaurant associations to help them improve.

Williams said she would like to pursue strategies adopted in Chicago and Toronto, but added that the county still doesn’t have enough data to best implement them.

“I’m a big fan of data and making data-driven decisions, but you’ve got to make sure you have good data and you know what you’re doing,” she said. “We just started collecting this data.”

50 sick: Seattle restaurant closed after suspected noro outbreak

JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times reports that health officials have closed Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant in Bellevue while they investigate a suspected outbreak of norovirus food poisoning that may have sickened as many as 50 people at a private event.

godfather.rest.sceneOne or more people may already have been ill at the Jan. 18 event, officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County reported Tuesday.

Several workers at the restaurant at 10455 N.E. Eighth St. in Bellevue also were ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus. No lab tests have confirmed that the illnesses are norovirus, but tests may be pending, officials said.

40 sickened, probably more: Sydney bakery shut, chicken schnitzel suspected

A bakery in Sydney’s south has been closed down pending an investigation after up to 40 people fell ill with food poisoning over the past week, with 13 admitted to hospital for treatment.

salm.bakery.sydney.jan.16The Box Village Bakery in Sylvania has been closed as the Food Authority investigates whether it could be the source of the outbreak.

There are reports that those who fell ill may have eaten chicken rolls or chicken schnitzel rolls from the bakery.

Dr Mark Ferson, public health director for south-east Sydney, told 2UE radio that as of yesterday there had been 40 people who attended Sutherland and St George hospitals with symptoms of food poisoning.

He said salmonella had been found in some of the patients.

“We think about 13 of those have been admitted to hospital. People started becoming sick on Friday and the hospital informed us on Sunday that they were getting a number of patients in.”

UK restaurant owner fined for ‘sewage smell’ hygiene breaches after 200 fall ill from catered event

The owner of a London Road curry house has been hit with a £6,000 fine after a food poisoning outbreak which led to more than 200 people being taken ill.

JFK bathrooms montageSivapathasundaram Premanathan, director of VP & Sons, which owns Spiceland in Broad Green, pleaded guilty to 20 food hygiene offences at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on December 12 and was hit with a £6,000 fine.

Environmental health officers at Croydon Council were alerted by the organiser of a coming-of-age party in December 2014, which was catered by the restaurant, after which more than 200 guests fell ill.

They discovered the food for the party had been produced and delivered from Spiceland, which had failed a food hygiene rating a month earlier.

When the inspectors returned a few days after the party, they found “very dirty” conditions in the kitchens; the washing up sink smelled of sewage, the walk-in chiller was dirty with food spillages and debris, raw meat and chicken was stored directly above ready-to-eat food and the hand wash basin could not be used because it was cluttered with dirty cloths and utensils.

They also found staff were ignorant of basic food safety practices and were seen handling food without washing their hands.

Stoner’s paradise (and good for them): White Castle website to display health scores

White Castle, America’s first hamburger chain, today announced the launch of WhiteCastleClean.com. This website is dedicated to promoting food safety, cleanliness and transparency by providing county health scores for all White Castle restaurants. White Castle is the first quick service restaurant chain to create a website specifically designed to share health inspection scores with the public.

harold-kumar-go-to-white-castle“The commitment to food safety, cleanliness and total transparency in our efforts are critical aspects of serving our customers and are the foundation upon which founder Billy Ingram built our family owned business,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of White Castle. “As we celebrate our 95th birthday, we are reaffirming our commitment to these values and I can think of no greater commitment than to be the first restaurant to offer our health scores online.”

“Online health scores are common for most but not all counties and cities,” said Richardson. “Restaurant inspection and health scores are handled at a county and municipal level. So while there is a semblance of a universal standard, there are unique differences in how the scores are assigned at each county across the United States. Unfortunately, budget challenges have forced some counties to abandon their health score websites. In the spirit of Billy’s transparency, we wanted to create a place where our Cravers could go to view their local Castles’ health scores.”

The site will be updated biannually and the most recent scores will be included on the site.

For more information about White Castle’s food safety and cleanliness initiatives, visit whitecastle.com.

Brisbane, are you listening: Call for UK restaurants to display hygiene ratings

England’s filthiest restaurants should be forced by law to display hygiene ratings, inspectors say.

toronto.red.yellow.green.grades.may.11Outlets in Wales have had to display food hygiene ratings since 2013, but no such law exists in England (nor Australia)

Somehow, New York, Los Angeles Toronto and San Mateo County (near San Francisco) have managed to figure it out.

Inspectors say this results in premises that score lower than three out of five – meaning they must improve hygiene standards – failing to display ratings.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) said it believed the display of hygiene notices should be voluntary.

Of course they did.

The BBC’s Inside Out team filmed a hygiene inspection in Leicester, where evidence of mouse and rat droppings, dirty dishes and floors and mouldy kitchen surfaces was uncovered.

Andrew Wood, from the inspection team, said: “I find it frustrating [that ratings are not displayed].

“Members of the public are not always able to check the ratings online so in a way they are going into these places blind.

“It must also be frustrating for businesses that have achieved good ratings.”

Australian sushi shops owner fined $41,000 for food safety breaches

The owner of two Woden sushi shops has been fined $41,000 for serious health safety breaches.

sushi.aust.jan.16Raids on the Sizzle Bento and Roll-A-Sushi, owned by parent company World Fashion Food Pty Ltd, uncovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that recycled dirty water, and food being defrosted and stored on the floor.

World Fashion Food Pty Ltd was sentenced by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday on 11 criminal charges for the breaches of food standards.

Court documents said health authorities discovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that repeatedly recycled dirty water, and an overheated display cabinet during raids at the now closed Sizzle Bento store in Woden Plaza in May 2011.

Cleanliness and food storage breaches were again detected during a second inspection in September 2011.

Pictures tendered in court showed food safety inspectors encountered cockroaches in the food preparation area.

Court documents said the sushi display cabinet had been set at about 10 degrees, instead of the recommended 5 degrees or less.