Rapid testing for big 6 shiga toxin E. coli in slaughterhouses

Six major Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serogroups: O26, O103, O145, O111, O121, and O45 have been declared as adulterants in federally inspected raw beef in the USA effective June 4th, 2012 in addition to the routinely tested STEC O157: H7. This study tests a real-time multiplex PCR assay and pooling of the samples to optimize the detection and quantification (prevalence and contamination) of six major non-O157 STEC, regardless of possessing Shiga toxins.

imagesTo demonstrate the practicality, one large-scale slaughter plant (Plant LS) and one small-scale slaughter plant (Plant SS) located in the Mid-Western USA were sampled, in 2011, before the establishment of 2013 USDA laboratory protocols. Carcasses were sampled at consecutive intervention stations and beef trimmings were collected at the end of the fabrication process. Plant SS had marginally more contaminated samples than Plant LS (p-value 0.08). The post-hide removal wash, steam pasteurization, and lactic acid (≤5%) spray used in Plant LS seemed to reduce the six serogroups effectively, compared to the hot-water wash and 7-day chilling at Plant SS.

Compared to the culture isolation methods, quantification of the non-O157 STEC using real-time PCR may be an efficient way to monitor the efficacy of slaughter line interventions.

Evaluating the efficacy of beef slaughter line interventions by quantifying the six major non-O157 Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli serogroups using real-time multiplex PCR

Food Microbiology, Volume 63, May 2017, Pages 228-238, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2016.11.023

KST Kanankege, KS Anklam, CM Fick, MJ Kulow, CW Kaspar, BH Ingham, A Milkowski, D Döpfer

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002016305639

£13 for a MILF (burger): UK Meat Counter has some safety beefs, but do they verify safety with thermometer?

Cornwall Live reports the Meat Counter is one of those burger joints that are so much more than that.

rare-hamburgerLocated in Arwenack Street in Falmouth, the stylish American-style eatery known for its homemade burgers and chili fries has carved a name for itself on the culinary scene in the town and beyond.

There is an extensive menu to choose from including the £13 M.I.L.F. – a burger, pulled pork and chicken layered extravaganza with a fried Jalapeno on top.

Alongside its signature dishes, The Meat Counter offers a selection of American delicacies such as the ultimate bulldog (hot dog), local steaks and chips with all the trimmings.

It also has fine vegetarian options including The Filthy Shroomburger and Spiced Chickpea Burger.

It opened three years ago, employs 10 staff and has consistently received high reviews from punters, with 223 ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ reviews out of 262 on TripAdvisor.

However the Meat Counter was one of six restaurants in the Duchy to receive a zero hygiene score rating from Cornwall Council food inspectors following a visit in July.

The note from Cornwall Council inspectors was that the venue needed to improve its handling of food including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage, along with a major improvement of the general cleanliness and condition of its facilities and building.

The zero rating also came with a ‘major improvement necessary’ warning for the management of food safety.

When Cornwall Live revealed the list of the 75 worst-rated restaurants in Cornwall, Martyn Peters, owner of the Meat Counter, said the score was by no means a reflection of the kinds of “kitchen nightmares” documented at other places.

stiflers-mom-paul-finchHe said that if issues such as cross-contamination or out-of-date food had been a factor in the company’s score, the kitchen would have been shut down immediately instead of simply being given the lowest rating.

He added: “On the contrary, the vast majority of the issues raised during that first visit were rectified within 48 hours, and we have continued to trade ever since.”

Mr Peters said the hygiene scoring rating from council food inspectors could do with greater transparency.

A restaurant, especially in an old building, can be penalised for having small cracks in the floor tiles or for its bins not being collected on the day of the inspection even though it is out of its control.

Structural faults inherent to old buildings can also play against a restaurant and may involve expensive work to fix.

Mr Peters added: “Any business worth its salt takes the condemnation of a zero rating very seriously and we’ve been working closely with our environmental health officer to address the issues raised during her first inspection.”

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

 

STEC surveillance: EU edition

On 1 December 2016 the third version of the Epidemic Intelligence Information System for food- and waterborne diseases and zoonoses (EPIS-FWD) was launched. With this development, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) moved one step further towards the One Health approach.

In collaboration with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Molecular Typing Cluster Investigation (MTCI) module was expanded to also allow the assessment of Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Listeria monocytogenes microbiological clusters based on non-human isolates (i.e. food, feed, animal and environmental) and on a mix of non-human and human isolates.

Depending on the type of cluster assessed, the MTCIs are coordinated by ECDC or EFSA or jointly by both agencies together with public health and/or food safety and veterinary experts from the involved European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States.

ECDC collects human typing data through the European Surveillance System (TESSy) since 2013 [1]. Typing data from non-human isolates can now be submitted by the food and veterinary authorities of the EU/EEA Member States through the EFSA molecular typing data collection system. Furthermore, the joint ECDC-EFSA molecular typing database allows the comparison of the typing data collected by ECDC and EFSA.

First launched in March 2010, the Epidemic Intelligence Information System for food- and waterborne diseases and zoonoses (EPIS-FWD) has become an important tool for assessing on-going public health risks related to FWD events worldwide. Currently, 52 countries from five continents have access to the outbreak alerts in the EPIS-FWD [2].

Since its launch, 305 outbreak alerts have been assessed through the EPIS-FWD; 32 (10%) were from countries outside of the EU/EEA which underlines the global dimension of the system.

The Health Security Committee, a part of the European Commission and the officially nominated public health risk management authority in the EU/EEA, has access to the EPIS-FWD to ensure the link between risk assessment and risk management. The World Health Organisation (WHO), including the International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN) managed jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO, is invited to contribute to the discussions in the EPIS-FWD when international outbreaks involve non-EU/EEA countries.

Through this new version of EPIS-FWD, ECDC and EFSA are encouraging the sharing of data between sectors and aspire to strengthen the multi-sectorial collaboration at international and national levels.

New version of the epidemic intelligence information system for food- and waterborne diseases and zooonoses (EPIS-FWD) launched

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 49, 08 December 2016, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.49.30422

CM Gossner

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22666

E. coli O26, HUS and dairy

In their recent article in Eurosurveillance, Germinario et al. describe a community-wide outbreak of Shiga toxin 2-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26:H11 infections associated with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and involving 20 children between 11 and 78 months of age in southern Italy during the summer 2013 [1]. The investigation identified an association between STEC infection and consumption of dairy products from two local milk-processing establishments. We underline striking similarities to a recent multi-country STEC O26 outbreak in Romania and Italy and discuss the challenges that STEC infections and their surveillance pose at the European level.

e-coli-colbertIn March 2016, Peron et al. published, also in Eurosurveillance, early findings of the investigation of a community-wide STEC infection outbreak in southern Romania [2]. As at 29 February 2016, 15 HUS cases with onset of symptoms after 24 January 2016, all but one in children less than two years of age, had been identified, three of whom had died. Aetiological confirmation was retrospectively performed through serological diagnosis and six cases were confirmed with STEC O26 infection. Shortly after this publication, and following the identification of the first epidemiologically-linked case in central Italy, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a joint Rapid Outbreak Assessment [3]. The Italian and Romanian epidemiological, microbiological and environmental investigations implicated products from a milk-processing establishment in southern Romania as a possible source of infection. The dairy plant exported milk products to at least four European Union (EU) countries. The plant was closed in March 2016 and the implicated food products recalled or withdrawn from the retail market.

Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) analyses did not establish a microbiological link between the Italian (2013) and the Romanian/Italian (2016) outbreaks (personal communication, Stefano Morabito, October 2016). However, the epidemiological similarities between the two community-wide outbreaks associated with HUS and STEC O26 infections, mostly affecting young children and implicating dairy products, are notable. While raw milk and unpasteurised dairy products are well known potential sources of STEC infection, milk products, as highlighted by Germinaro et al. [1], have been rarely implicated in community-wide STEC outbreaks in the past, emphasising an emerging risk of STEC O26 infection associated with milk products.

Reporting of STEC O26 infections has been steadily increasing in the EU since 2007, partly due to improved diagnostics of non-O157 sero-pathotypes [4]. The attention to non-O157 STEC sero-pathotypes rose considerably after the severe STEC O104 outbreak that took place in Germany and France in 2011 during which almost 4,000 cases and more than 50 deaths were reported [5]. In light of the recently published outbreaks related to dairy products and the simultaneous increased reporting of isolations of STEC O26 from milk and milk products in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) [6], strengthening STEC surveillance in humans and food and enhancing HUS surveillance in children less than five years of age is warranted. Paediatric nephrologists should be sensitised to this effect

Community-wide outbreaks of haemolytic uraemic syndrome associated with Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli O26 in Italy and Romania: A new challenge for the European Union

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 49, 08 December 2016, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.49.30420

E Severi, F Vial, E Peron, O Mardh, T Niskanen, J Takkinen

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22664

Know thy water: If it’s dry, I’m gonna water rather than lose a crop

Foodborne disease outbreaks associated with fresh produce irrigated with contaminated water are a constant threat to consumer health. In this study, the impact of irrigation water on product safety from different food production systems (commercial to small-scale faming and homestead gardens) was assessed.

drip-irrigation-carrots-jun-16Hygiene indicators (total coliforms, Escherichia coli), and selected foodborne pathogens (Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli O157:H7) of water and leafy green vegetables were analyzed. Microbiological parameters of all irrigation water (except borehole) exceeded maximum limits set by the Department of Water Affairs for safe irrigation water. Microbial parameters for leafy greens ranged from 2.94 to 4.31 log CFU/g (aerobic plate counts) and 1 to 5.27 log MPN/100g (total coliforms and E. coli). Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 were not detected in all samples tested but L. monocytogenes was present in irrigation water (commercial and small-scale farm, and homestead gardens).

This study highlights the potential riskiness of using polluted water for crop production in different agricultural settings.

Assessment of irrigation water quality and microbiological safety of leafy greens in different production systems

Journal of Food Safety, 2 November 2016, DOI: 10.1111/jfs.12324

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jfs.12324/abstract;jsessionid=883317B2001984CC39815B1792B68759.f04t01

Shiga-toxin producing E. coli: Another reason to avoid pigeon poop

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infections in humans cause disease ranging from uncomplicated intestinal illnesses to bloody diarrhea and systemic sequelae, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Previous research indicated that pigeons may be a reservoir for a population of verotoxigenic E. coli producing the VT2f variant.

pigeon-poop-shamelessWe used whole-genome sequencing to characterize a set of VT2f-producing E. coli strains from human patients with diarrhea or HUS and from healthy pigeons. We describe a phage conveying the vtx2f genes and provide evidence that the strains causing milder diarrheal disease may be transmitted to humans from pigeons.

The strains causing HUS could derive from VT2f phage acquisition by E. coli strains with a virulence genes asset resembling that of typical HUS-associated verotoxigenic E. coli.

Whole-genome characterization and strain comparison of VT2f-producing Escherichia coli causing hemolytic uremic syndrome

Emerging Infectious Diseases, December 2016, Volume 22, Number 12, https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2212.160017

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/12/16-0017_article

E. coli: Event raises $50K for South Dakota boy

Jake Shama of the Mitchell Republic reports that watching 6-year-old Eagan Hudson playing darts, eating candy and running around the Tyndall Community Center on Saturday, one would never guess he’d been released from the hospital just one month earlier.

egan-hudsonBon Homme County residents and others from as far away as Wisconsin filled the community center and raised more than $50,000 during the benefit for Eagan and his family, according to James Torsney, one of the event’s organizers.

The benefit was held to help pay medical bills, which the family incurred when Eagan was taken to Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls for treatment of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), believed to be caused by an E. coli infection.

“It was really hard, and I had to go through lots of pain. It was not fun,” said Eagan, of Tyndall. “I just had all those doctors help me, and everything went good.”

Eagan and his brother, Kalem, 4, contracted E. coli in the middle of September. Kalem’s illness was resolved fairly quickly, his parents said, but Eagan’s condition didn’t improve. By Oct. 6, platelet and kidney tests raised red flags, and doctors sent Eagan to Sioux Falls for treatment.

Three days later, Eagan suffered a stroke, which temporarily prevented him from moving his right arm and leg, and he started having seizures the following morning.

Doctors had medication flown in from six hours away, and Eagan was sedated for 10 days, during which he was given nonstop dialysis treatments.

Leafy green cone of silence: Salad producers say don’t be scared by ‘ridiculous’ study

In a time when facts don’t matter and Donald Trump is President-elect, there is scrutiny of any new study, and rhetoric is increasingly common.

spongebob-oil_-colbert-may3_-10Socrates, via Plato, had some thought on rhetoric (yes I dabbled in philosophy many decades ago, didn’t everyone experiment in university?).

Still no comment from the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement but they sent a few of their spokesthingies out to counter a study that says Salmonella grows in cut leafy greens, even at refrigerator temperatures..

Ashley Nickle of The Packer reports that Bruce Taylor, CEO and founder of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, emphatically denounced the study.

“We find the artificial conditions created by this study to be ridiculous,” Taylor said in an e-mail. “Producers of bagged salads do not have ‘juice’ in the salad bag, and producers take painstaking steps to avoid the introduction of salmonella or any other pathogen.”

The conclusion regarding refrigeration was the only notable one in the study, said Trevor Suslow, a member of the technical committee of the Center for Produce Safety. Scientists would expect salmonella to be able to survive at the temperature recorded in the study but would not expect it to grow, he said.

“People will definitely be trying to reproduce their results as far as growth under refrigeration temperature for salmonella,” Suslow said. “That’s, for me, the key issue.”

Suslow, an extension research specialist at the University of California-Davis, said it is already known that a bagged salad is an environment in which salmonella can have the nutrients it needs to grow, which is why the industry has focused so intently on ensuring no pathogens make it into bags into the first place.

Drew McDonald, vice president of quality, food safety and regulatory affairs at Salinas-based Church Brothers Farms, said in an e-mail that, although the researchers did some things well, he also had some issues with the study.

“From my read, the study essentially grew salmonella in juices extracted from actual bagged salads in a mixture of sterile water,” McDonald said. “The issue is that in the ‘real’ world the salmonella has to come from somewhere (the surface of the leaf for example) but along with this would be many other microorganisms. That they were able to grow salmonella under these forced, artificial conditions without any competition from other organisms is not surprising.”

lettuceAlong with the growth conditions, the washed status of the lettuce also gave McDonald pause.

“From my understanding, (the) project used ‘bagged salad,’” McDonald said. “I am assuming this means it was already washed. The fact that they added salad juice and salmonella after it had already been bagged and washed really just shows how important it is to not cross-contaminate cleaned product.”

The researchers, as a result of their findings, suggested people eat bagged salads as soon as possible after purchase to minimize risk. They wrote in a question-and-answer supplement to the release that they no longer keep their bagged salads in the refrigerator longer than one day.

“Ridiculous recommendation,” Taylor said in his e-mail. “For 30 years consumers have enjoyed hundreds of millions of bagged salads weekly with great benefit to their health and wellbeing.”

Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, also disagreed with the recommendation.

“People should always follow the instructions, including best-by dates, on packages, mainly so that they experience the best quality product,” McEntire said in an e-mail. “People shouldn’t be afraid to keep salad in their refrigerators for the full duration of the shelf life.”

She may mean use-by dates.

Suslow described the study as another piece of the puzzle in trying to find long-term solutions for food safety issues, but he was not impressed by it.

“Sort of generating a lot of additional concern and fear without any real basis for changing what (is) sort of standard practice isn’t necessarily helpful,” Suslow said. “Could hurt the category, but probably no more so than other things such as those instances when there are outbreaks or recalls.

“I think consumers understand that there’s no such thing as zero risk,” Suslow said (smartest thing anyone said in this story). “They understand and appreciate the convenience of packaged salads with multiple ingredients with very healthy mixed leafy greens, and that’s how the category has grown.”

20 years on, Scotland E. coli tragedy saw heart ripped from town

In November 1996, over 400 fell ill and 21 were killed in Scotland by E. coli O157:H7 found in deli meats produced by family butchers John Barr & Son. The Butcher of Scotland, who had been in business for 28 years and was previously awarded the title of Scottish Butcher of the Year, was using the same knives to handle raw and cooked meat.

e-coli-scotland-1996-1A memo at the time, unearthed by The Herald shows what many suspected: that the interests of the food and agriculture industries were given higher priority than public health.

Then Scottish Office health minister, James Douglas-Hamilton, wrote on Dec. 5, 1996 to Sir Russell Hillhouse, the under-secretary of state at the Scottish Office that, “The key issue to be addressed is that when there is an outbreak of infectious disease whether the public health interest should over-ride the food industry and agricultural interests. I believe the public health interest should be paramount, but it was not seen to do so in this case.”

The aptly named agriculture minister, Douglas Hogg, argued E. coli was a “Scottish issue” and that licensing should only be in Scotland.

A memo to Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth, on March 19, 1997, noted: “The Cabinet Office and No 10 were not impressed by Mr Hogg’s idea.”

Ross Thompson of the Daily Record reports that 20 years later, a Wishaw Old Parish Church member believes the heart was ripped from the congregation in the wake of the crippling E. coli tragedy.

Wishaw Old Parish Church session clerk Tom Donaldson was served the same meal as 10 others who lost their lives from the killer bug when infected meat, from John Barr’s Butchers, was served at an annual church lunch.

This week marks 20 years since the outbreak claimed its first victim, 80-year-old Harry Shaw.

Over the next few weeks, 20 others died and hundreds more were infected in what is still the world’s worst E. coli outbreak.

This week, Tom reflected on the horrific events two decades on.

He said: “Many of our members and office-bearers still carry the sad memories of that time.

e-coli-scotland-barr“The heart was torn from the church by the loss of so many members.

“We lost eight members, including three valued elders.

“We held the same meal for over 10 years. For a lot of the people going, it was a chance to get out of the house and see people they hadn’t seen for a while.

“I had the same meal as everyone else but, thankfully, I didn’t have any symptoms. When we heard that people were unwell and then that people had died we couldn’t believe it.

“It was really heart-breaking.”

Over the next few weeks, the world’s media converged on Wishaw to cover the ongoing tragedy.

One man who carried the burden more than most was church minister Rev James Davidson.

Indeed, after burying three of his congregation, Rev Davidson admitted it had been the worst week of his life.

Tom added: “The minister carried the heavy burden as pastor; not only by conducting so many funerals in such a short period but also having to continue to minister to the congregation Sunday by Sunday.

“In one week he had to carry out three funerals. He was heart-broken.

“He really needed more help than he got because not only was he doing those funerals but he was also going to the hospital to visit the sick as well.

“The local media, like the Wishaw Press, and the guys who worked for the Scottish television channels were very respectful. But there was the other side where others would confront the minister and other office- bearers, at their homes and at the church for a comment.

“For quite a few years we had to deal with being ‘that E. coli church’ and people still remember that.”

 

Food porn: People want rare hamburgers yet aren’t informed of risks

I love this paper.

The research is cool, but to me it culminates 16 years of Chapman becoming a better researcher.

ben-newI had a hand in the idea for the paper, but Chapman and his team did all the work.

I edited some stuf.

I was reminded last night of all the youthful energy me, and Chapman and Blaine and Lisa and Brae and Katie and Sarah and the reintroduced Carol – had when we did the bulk of our creative work.

Sorta like the Stones 68-72.

And yet that was the most turmoil in my life, as I went through a painful divorce, separation from kids, an interesting girlfriend and finally meeting Amy a few years later.

My line is graduate students should be able to bail their supervisor out of jail or drive me to the airport when (I) threatened with arrest.

Sorta like the Stones 68-72.

This is Chapman’s moment to shine, and although barfblog.com was named the number 1 food safety blog by someone pushing something today, it don’t matter much.

doug-ben-familyOften Chapman and I will send an e-mail to each other about some obscure reference in a post, with the comment, we only write for each other.

And the over 75,000 direct subscribers in over 70 countries.

Well done Chapman et al., couldn’t be prouder.

You too Blaine.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.