5530 sick 39% of residents: Health board discloses full extent of Campy in NZ water outbreak

Forty-five people, mostly over 70 were admitted to hospital with campylobacter a Hawke’s Bay District Health Board update reveals.

poop-water-nz-nov-16The DHB has conducted four surveys since the event in August, the latest on September 27 and 28, the results of which they collated with the previous findings.

The surveys were conducted by telephone and the latest figures brought the estimated total number of residents affected by gastroenteritis to 5530 or 39 per cent of Havelock North’s population, 1072 of those confirmed cases.

Of those hospitalised, as of October 10, 27 were aged over 70, followed by four in the 60-69 year age group, four in the 40-49 age group and three in the 50-59 age group.

Four people under the age of 20 also ended up in hospital.

The total number of people who had developed the rare complication from campylobacter, Guillan Barre Syndrome, was reported to be three people. As the incubation time was up to four weeks, it was considered that any new cases now would not be linked to the original outbreak.

Of the estimated 5530 residents who were affected, 32 per cent had a recurrence of the bug, and as of September 28 four people were experiencing ongoing symptoms.

At the time an estimated 78 per cent of people who had symptoms took time off work or school.

This paper is so great, it’s the greatest paper ever: Trump invades peer-reviewed publishing

Wang and Cheng from Nanjing Tech University in China (right, not exactly as shown), call their paper on food safety risk modeling in SpringerPlus, “a great reference for food safety management.”

cheech_and_chong-615781Boasting about academic prowess, at least in the public literature, used to be more subtle.

They have a lot of numerical models about why good people do bad things (to make money) and avoid the simplest solution – market food safety at retail.

But judge for yourself on the quality of so-called scientific scholarship:

In this paper, based on the imbalance of the supply-demand relationship of food, we design a spreading model of food safety risk, which is about from food producers to consumers in the food supply chain. We use theoretical analysis and numerical simulation to describe the supply-demand relationship and government supervision behaviors’ influence on the risk spread of food safety and the behaviors of the food producers and the food retailers.

We also analyze the influence of the awareness of consumer rights protection and the level of legal protection of consumer rights on the risk spread of food safety. This model contributes to the explicit investigation of the influence relationship among supply-demand factors, the regulation behavioral choice of government, the behavioral choice of food supply chain members and food safety risk spread.

And this paper provides a new viewpoint for considering food safety risk spread in the food supply chain, which has a great reference for food safety management.

The conclusion also has some gems:

In this paper, we design a food safety risk spread model from food producer-to-consumer in the food supply chain based on the imbalance of the supply-demand relationship of food. We use theoretical analysis and numerical simulation to describe the

influence and active mechanism of the supply-demand relationship and government supervision behaviors on the risk spread of food safety and the behaviors of the food producers and the food retailers. We also analyze the effect of the awareness of consumer rights protection and the level of legal protection of consumer rights on the risk spread of food safety. The theoretical analysis and numerical simulation result showed that, (1) with the increase in the imbalance of the supply-demand relationship, the risk spread rate of unsafe food appeared the phenomenon of accelerated increasing. Thus stabilize the market supply-demand relationship of food is most important part of government regulatory. (2) the behaviors of government supervision behaviors and strategy choice more significant effect on controlling the risk spread of unsafe food, enhancing the sampling rate of the food retailers, and decreasing the raw material adulteration rate of the food producers. Thus the government should strengthen the many-links supervision of food supply chain. (3) intensifying the awareness of consumer rights protection and enhancing in the level of legal protection of consumer rights effectively decreased the risk spread rate of unsafe food. Thus the government should build effective system of consumer rights protection, and inspire consumer taking legal action to defend their rights and interests when they finding unqualified products. Certainly, this model and numerical simulation also have certain scope of application and limitations, for example the variable design and parameter value selection, and the demand elasticity characteristics of food.

Bubonic plague hung around in Europe

The plague bacterium Yersinia pestis may have lurked in a Medieval European reservoir for at least 300 years, researchers suggest January 13 in PLOS ONE.

thing.that.wouldn't.leave.belushiThe second of two major plague pandemics hit Europe from the 14th to 16th centuries, peaking during the Black Death from 1346 to 1353. The new study weighs in on a longstanding debate over what fed the pandemic, strains of the bacterium traveling on waves of trade from Asia via the Silk Road or a homegrown biological reservoir such as lice.

Researchers analyzed DNA from 30 skeletal remains spanning the 14th to 17th centuries. Eight carried strains of Y. pestis, and all bore genetic similarity to each other and to those found in previously sampled European plague victims. Strains from Asia would have injected more genetic variety. Instead, the results suggest that at least one strain of Y. pestis stuck around in Europe for a long time, researchers write.

The thing that wouldn’t leave from topo morto on Vimeo.

SNL, Who, lab?

Saturday Night Live is like The Who – a greatest hits group (I always preferred Townsend’s solo stuff).

So while the 40th anniversary of SNL provided a lot of laughs, it took 40 years to get to those gems.

And a lot of people had to be deemed not worthy, like running a lab.

But at least they got hand sanitizers.

Thanks to one of our Jersey food safety friends for the link.

NYC cafe shut down by Health Dept. for second time in 2 months

Longtime Irish pub Peter McManus Cafe was shut down by the Health Department this week — its second closure in less than two months.

belushi.snl.after.partyHealth inspectors found evidence of mice, unwashed food preparation surfaces, contaminated food and hot food that was allowed to get cold during a visit to the 78-year-old bar on Monday and ordered it closed, records show.

Officials also found that the 152 Seventh Ave. spot’s supervisor lacked a city-mandated Food Protection Certificate. In all, the restaurant racked up 61 violation points, records show.

The family-owned bar opened in 1936 and has appeared in many movies and TV shows, including “Keeping the Faith,” “Seinfeld” and “Saturday Night Live.”

The bar is also a favorite of “SNL” cast members and alumni for the show’s afterparties.

A steady trickle of passersby were bewildered by the bar’s closure Wednesday.

“That’s so f—ing sad,” shouted one woman after seeing the Health Department’s closure sign. “This place is an institution.”

Forget Veganville: Seattle tofu company loses food processing license, fined $17,800

Tofu should be made fun of, as Justin Timberlake did on Saturday (Night Live).

But not when tofu has the potential to make people barf.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the food processing license of Chu Minh Corp., which produces tofu and other soy products, after several inspections found on-going sanitation problems with the Seattle business.

In addition to revoking the company’s license to process food, WSDA also assessed a civil penalty of $17,800 against the company and required all product at the facility to be destroyed.

Notices about the license revocation have been sent to all retail outlets and restaurants that have purchased or carry Chu Minh products. 

As a result of these actions, the company cannot process any food at this location. Chu Minh has 10 days to appeal and request agency reconsideration of the order, but it cannot operate as a food processing operation during that appeal period.

Sweet Julia Child O’ Mine; mash-up honors America’s first top chef; SCTV, SNL did it better

Guns ‘N Roses was a terrible band.

Misogynistic lyrics, riffs from a corporate boardroom, and really, really boring.

But PBS somehow thinks GNR is appropriate way to honor the matron of French cooking in the U.S., Julia Child, who would have turned 100-years-old on August 15.

New York inspections reveal new A-list for restaurants

Charlie Sheen may have texted a porn star that, “I’m an A-lister” but that don’t mean much when it comes to food safety.

Glenn Collins writes in the New York Times tomorrow that after six months of restaurant inspection grading in New York City, nearly 60 per cent of some 24,000 restaurants in the city have inspection scores that rate an A, from a liberal sprinkling in Chinatown to a true sanito-palooza of nine blue A placards in the food court at Grand Central Terminal.

Meanwhile, some of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants have struggled to get on the A list. In December an inspector disturbed the hushed precincts of Corton, which The New York Times gave three stars, to dispense 48 points for a possible C grade. Similarly, restaurant Daniel, the winner of four stars, received an initial B score of 19 in November. Even the haute Bernardin, another four-star winner, received a B score of 22 in August. Each endured derision from food bloggers for a few weeks before earning A grades on later inspections.

Fancy food don’t mean safe food.

Two other three-star restaurants — Le Cirque, with a score of 30, and Gramercy Tavern, with a score of 35 — were assessed enough violation points to earn C grades. On Dec. 7, Esca, another three-star restaurant, received 25 points on its first inspection and 18 points on a reinspection three weeks later. (The scores would earn the restaurant a B.)

If there is an apparent preponderance of A’s, it is not because the city is trying to be generous, said Daniel Kass, a deputy health commissioner. “There are more A’s at this point,” he said, “because the A’s get issued immediately.”

The mayor is expected to address the issue of letter grading today in his annual State of the City address.

But the Web site, nyc.gov/health/restaurants, shows that, as of Tuesday, 12,469 restaurants had scores that would give them an A; 7,892 earned scores that would rate a B; and 1,665 have scores that would qualify as a C.

Mr. Mazzone of Chicken Masters is expecting an inspection “any day,” he said, and is looking forward to it “like root canal.” What would he tell restaurants with a more complex menu array than his inventory of chicken, ribs and burgers?

“That’s simple,” he said. “They should move to Jersey.”
 

Honey laundering: sweet and sickly

Honey’s in everything. Check out any bakery product, sauce, processed food. A little dab of nectar makes anything smoother.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail ran a great feature a few days ago about the international honey cartel – so realistic it could be based in Jersey. Excerpts below:

As crime sagas go, a scheme rigged by a sophisticated cartel of global traders has all the right blockbuster elements: clandestine movements of illegal substances through a network of co-operatives in Asia, a German conglomerate, jet-setting executives, doctored laboratory reports, high-profile takedowns and fearful turncoats.

What makes this worldwide drama unusual, other than being regarded as part of the largest food fraud in U.S. history, is the fact that honey, nature’s benign golden sweetener, is the lucrative contraband.

Honey has become a staple in the North American diet. Those that do not consume it straight from bear-shaped squeeze bottles eat it regularly whether they know it or not – honey is baked into everything from breakfast cereals to cookies and mixed into sauces and cough drops. Produced by bees from the nectar of flowers and then strained for clarity, honey’s all-natural origin has garnered lofty status among health-conscious consumers who prefer products without refined sweeteners (think white sugar and processed corn syrup). About 1.2 million metric tons of honey is produced worldwide each year.

What consumers don’t know is that honey doesn’t usually come straight – or pure – from the hive. Giant steel drums of honey bound for grocery store shelves and the food processors that crank out your cereal are in constant flow through the global market. Most honey comes from China, where beekeepers are notorious for keeping their bees healthy with antibiotics banned in North America because they seep into honey and contaminate it; packers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor quality product by mixing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.

None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chinese honey sold in North America is more likely to be stamped as Indonesian, Malaysian or Taiwanese, due to a growing multimillion dollar laundering system designed to keep the endless supply of cheap and often contaminated Chinese honey moving into the U.S., where tariffs have been implemented to staunch the flow and protect its own struggling industry.

Savvy honey handlers use a network of Asian countries to “wash” Chinese-origin product – with new packaging and false documents – before shipping it to the U.S. for consumption in various forms.

Fifteen people and six companies spanning from Asia to Germany and the U.S. were recently indicted in Chicago and Seattle for their roles in an $80-million gambit still playing out in the courts. That case has been billed as the largest food fraud in U.S. history. But American beekeepers, already suffering from a bee death epidemic that is killing off a third of their colonies a year, say the flow of suspect imports has not let up.

In the honey world, there are two types of countries: producers and consumers. The United States is one of the largest of the latter, consuming about 400 million pounds of honey a year. Its beekeepers can produce only half that amount leaving exporters to fill the rest. Canada produces about 65 million pounds of honey a year and ships its surplus, 20 to 30 million pounds, south of the border.

China, the world’s largest producer of honey, would seem a natural candidate to fill the gap. But Chinese honey is notorious for containing the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol, used by farmers to keep bees from falling ill. The European Union outlawed Chinese honey imports because of it.

Dilution is another issue. According to Grace Pundyk, author of The Honey Trail, Chinese manufacturers will inject a type of honey with litres of water, heat it, pass it through an ultrafine ceramic or carbon filter, and then distill it into syrup. While it eradicates impurities such as antibiotics, it also denies honey of its essence.

Ten years ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce accused the Chinese honey industry of dumping cheap product into the American market at prices well below the cost of production. Canadians also detected surprisingly low-priced product crossing its own borders.

Australian investigators uncovered the roots of a global conspiracy when they intercepted a large consignment of “Singapore” honey bound for the U.S. in 2002.
At the time, Singapore didn’t produce honey. The shipment was traced back to China, opening the first window into a worldwide scheme in early bloom: The industry had figured out they could launder Chinese honey through neutral countries able to ship into the U.S. without paying tariffs.

 

What’s the worst thing to say to a farmer? Hi, I’m from the government, I’m here to help

We figured out about 15 years ago that the worst thing to say to a farmer was, Hi, I’m from the government, I’m here to help, cause we hung out with farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration apparently hasn’t figured this out, and went all gushy about how the two agencies are sharing people and resources to develop new produce regs.

Farmers across the nation were cleaning themselves after hearing the news from Washington.

USDA’s fresh produce chief will join FDA to develop new food safety rules, as part of a cooperative initiative between FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Today’s announcement comes amid beefed up outreach efforts with key agriculture and safe food stakeholders to better share and exchange produce safety ‘best practices’ and ideas.”

Will this result in fewer sick people? No . Is it complete bureau-speak that no one, especially those that grow fresh produce for a nation, will care about? Yes. Saturday Night Live captured the do-nothingness that has already cloaked the Obama change administration.