Use a f**king thermometer: Campy risk in Swiss Christmas meal

Celebrating Christmas in Switzerland can be a risky business.

Not only does the use of real candles on Christmas trees lead to a rise in call-outs for the fire brigade, but apparently eating a traditional Swiss Christmas dish can be dangerous too.

chinese-fondueChinese fondue – a fondue of raw meat cooked in a pot of hot broth, instead of bread dipped in cheese – is often chosen as the main meal by many Swiss at Christmas.

But according to the Swiss food hygiene office (BLV) this leads to a rise in the number of cases of diarrhea each festive season, caused by the presence of the bacteria Campylobacter in the meat.

Up to 8,000 people are affected by Campylobacter infections every year in Switzerland, costing the country around 10 million francs, the BLV said in a statement.

And each festive season the number of cases is considerably higher than average, mainly because Chinese fondue is traditionally eaten around this time of year, it said.

Now it has issued guidelines, including a handy video, on how to prepare the meat hygienically in order to cut down the risk of Campylobacter and thus avoid spending the rest of Christmas on the toilet.

Different plates and utensils should be used for raw meat, cooked meat and other raw accompaniments such as sauces and salads, it says.

Hands should be washed thoroughly before and after handling raw meat.

Meat should be well cooked, particularly poultry, which should be completely cooked through.

Yuck factor: Swiss study finds E. coli bacteria in ice cubes

 

More than a quarter of ice cubes used in Swiss bars and restaurants contain fecal bacteria such as E. coli, according to a nationwide study by the Swiss cantonal chemists association (VKCS).

ice.bearIn an analysis of ice cube samples collected from bars, restaurants and canteens around Switzerland last year, 26 percent fell short of legal health standards, said Sunday paper SonntagsBlick, which released the figure prior to the report’s official publication.

The presence of bacteria including pseudomonas, E. coli and enterococci is “a clear sign of unsanitary production of ice cubes,” Otmar Deflorin, president of the  cantonal chemists association and head of the Swiss federal laboratory in Bern, told SonntagsBlick.

The primary cause is a lack of hygiene in bars and restaurants, where ice machines may be badly cleaned and maintained, he said.

Was it sprouts? Rare Salmonella in Switzerland and Germany over past decade

During the summer of 2013, an increase of Salmonella enterica ssp. enterica serovar Szentes isolates from human clinical cases was registered by the Swiss National Centre for enteropathogenic bacteria and Listeria.

sprout.santa.barf.xmasIn the course of the ensuing 9 months, 18 isolates originating from 13 patients and from one food sample were collected. Of the 13 human cases, 10 (77%) were female. The patients’ ages ranged from 27 to 83 years (median age 49 years). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) performed with XbaI, and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) were used to type the strains. PFGE as well as MLST showed the strains as indistinguishable. The PFGE pattern and MLST sequence type (ST427) were identical to those of Salmonella enterica serovar Szentes isolated in previous years (2002–2013) from sporadic cases in Switzerland and Germany.

The increased isolation frequency continued for 6 months after the detection of Salmonella Szentes in sprouts. No common food exposure could be established. Due to lack of information on the potential food source, further investigations were not possible. The outbreak of this unusual serotype was detected because of its temporal clustering.

 Salmonella enterica serovar Szentes, a rare serotype causing a 9-month outbreak in 2013 and 2014 in Switzerland

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.1996.

Nüesch-Inderbinen Magdalena, Cernela Nicole, Althaus Denise, Hächler Herbert, and Stephan Roger

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2015.1996

‘Construction workers like it’ Activists call on Swiss parliament to outlaw eating cat for Christmas

Amy talks glowingly of her time in Switzerland, but seems sorta weird to me.

steve.martin.cat.jugglingKeeping with the shameless exploitation of cats to increase blog hits, animal rights activists have drawn up a petition to ban the ‘barbaric’ practice of eating pets in Switzerland, where cat meat often appears on traditional Christmas menus in rural areas.

The animal protection group, SOS Chats Noraingue, has handed over a petition with 16,000 signatures, including such notable animal rights defenders as Brigitte Bardot, to the Swiss parliament on Tuesday.

Dog meat is often used to make sausage, while cats are prepared around the holiday season in a similar style to rabbit – in a white wine and garlic sauce. A type of mostbröckli made from marinated cat or dog is another local favorite.

Though there are no statistics available on the amount of cat and dog meat consumed by the Swiss, SOS Chats founder and president, Tomi Tomek told AFP she suspects that “around three percent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog.”

While the commercial sale of dog meat is banned nationwide, its consumption is still legal and is particularly popular in Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern, according to Tomek. Farmers are free to kill and eat their own animals. Those in the Appenzell and St. Gallen areas are said to favor a beefy breed of dog related to Rottweilers.

In a 2012 report on pet eating in the Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger, the Swiss Veterinary Office chalked up the practice to a “cultural matter” and noted that some countries breed dogs specifically for slaughter.

One farmer, defending the practice, told the paper, “There’s nothing odd about it. Meat is meat. Construction workers in particular like eating it.”

Careful with that fondue: determinants of the campylobacteriosis winter peak in Switzerland

Campylobacteriosis is the most frequently reported food borne infection in Switzerland. We investigated determinants of infections and illness experience in wintertime. A case–control study was conducted in Switzerland between December 2012 and February 2013. Cases were recruited among laboratory-confirmed campylobacteriosis patients. Population-based controls were matched according to age group, sex and canton of residence. We determined risk factors associated with campylobacteriosis, and help seeking behaviour and illness perception.

fondueThe multivariable analysis identified two factors associated with an increased risk for campylobacteriosis: consumption of meat fondue (matched odds ratio [mOR] 4.0, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 2.3–7.1) and travelling abroad (mOR 2.7, 95 % CI 1.1–6.4). Univariable analysis among meat fondue consumers revealed chicken as the type of meat with the highest risk of disease (mOR 3.8, 95 % CI 1.1–13.5). Most frequently reported signs and symptoms among patients were diarrhoea (98 %), abdominal pain (81 %), fever (66 %), nausea (44 %) and vomiting (34 %). The median perceived disease severity was 8 on a 1-to-10 rating scale. Patients reported a median duration of illness of 7 days and 14 % were hospitalised. Meat fondues, mostly “Fondue chinoise”, traditionally consumed during the festive season in Switzerland, are the major driver of the epidemic campylobacteriosis peak in wintertime. At these meals, individual handling and consumption of chicken meat may play an important role in disease transmission. Laboratory-confirmed patients are severely ill and hospitalisation rate is considerable. Public health measures such as decontamination of chicken meat and improved food handling behaviour at the individual level are urgently needed.

European Journal of Epidemiology

Philipp Justus Bless, Claudia Schmutz, Kathrin Suter, Marianne Jost, Jan Hattendorf, Mirjam Mäusezahl-Feuz and Daniel Mäusezahl

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10654-014-9917-0/fulltext.html#Fig3

Holiday hot pot with chicken linked to Campylobacter spike in Switzerland

In Switzerland, 7,000-8,000 people fall ill with a Campylobacter infection annually. An increase of campylobacteriosis case numbers is being observed throughout Europe. Human cases of campylobacteriosis must be reported to the relevant authorities in Switzerland.

Fondue chinoiseIn Switzerland, an unusual increase in campylobacteriosis case numbers can be observed in the period around Christmas and New Year. Therefore, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, in agreement with the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office has commissioned Swiss TPH to perform a case control study in order to investigate this increase over the festive season.

“We are relying on data subject to reporting and telephone interviews with affected persons for this”, study leader Daniel Mäusezahl of Swiss TPH says.

The researchers interviewed affected persons who had fallen ill with a campylobacter infection between December 2012 and February 2013. An independent laboratory examination had confirmed a campylobacter infection in all interviewed persons. The focus of the interviews was on risk factors, the consultation of a doctor and the course of the illness experienced by the affected persons.

The study identified two factors for an increased risk of infection with Campylobacter pathogens. The risk of infection increased by a factor of four when consuming Fondue chinoise. About half of the notified campylobacteriosis cases over the Christmas and New Year period can be attributed to this source of infection.

The study also shows that the risk of infection can be decreased by hygienic measures at the table. As soon as the meat fondue consumers used compartmented or separate plates for raw and cooked meat, the risk of an infection decreased by a factor of up to five. Likewise, the risk of an infection decreased when consuming meat that had been previously frozen. “Campylobacter infections among consumers could be avoided to a large extent by employing the appropriate hygiene behaviour measures”, Daniel Mäusezahl says.

Philipp J. Bless, Claudia Schmutz, Kathrin Suter, Marianne Jost, Jan Hattendorf, Mirjam Mäusezahl-Feuz, Daniel Mäusezahl. A tradition and an epidemic: Determinants of the campylobacteriosis winter peak in Switzerland. European Journal of Epidemiology, DOI: 10.1007/s10654-014-9917-0

Outbreak of listeriosis due to imported cooked ham, Switzerland 2011

Hächler et al. report in the current issue of Eurosurveillance that from 24 April to 31 July 2011, nine cases of listeriosis were registered in the cantons of Aargau, Basel-Land and Zurich, Switzerland. In six of the cases, infection with Listeria monocytogenes was laboratory confirmed, ham.slicedwhile three remained suspected cases. The suspected cases were family members of confirmed cases with identical or similar symptoms. All confirmed cases were infected with a L. monocytogenes strain belonging to serovar 1/2a: all had an indistinguishable pulsotype by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The same strain was detected in samples of cooked ham that were on sale from a particular retailer. Two samples of ham tested contained 470 and 4,800 colony-forming units (CFU) L. monocytogenes per gram respectively. Data of shopper cards from two confirmed cases could be evaluated: both cases had purchased the contaminated ham. The outbreak initiated a product recall and alert actions at national and European level, through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). Following the RASFF alert, the company producing the contaminated ham was inspected by the responsible authorities. Their investigations showed that the ham was not contaminated in the production plant, but in the premises of a company to which slicing and packing was outsourced.

The complete report is available at http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20469.

German E. coli O104 outbreak: 18 dead, 520 HUS, 1,733 sick; no salad for me please

Amy’s in Switzerland working on some memories, so while she had a salad with cucumbers and raw sprouts, me and Sorenne had pizza.

I have no trouble saying, ‘no sprouts’ and am known at a local Manhattan (Kansas) eatery as the no-sprouts person. So is Amy. But not in Europe.

There’s a lot of social protocol over there, in Europe, and I try to stay out of it when visiting, but when there’s an outbreak of foodborne illness linked to 18 dead, 520 with HUS and 1,733 sick, then I’d say something.

I say something if an employee doesn’t wash their hands.

Amy may not have to say anything on her return flight. Salads are off the menu for all American Airlines flights departing from Europe. Not sure if other airlines will follow, but her salad on the way over didn’t look too appetizing.
 

Fowl findings surprise Swiss veterinary officials

As many as nine-out-of-ten chickens in Switzerland are infected with campylobacter, prompting the Federal Veterinary Office to call a crisis meeting of food and health experts, as well as poultry producers, for December 18.

According to a report in the Sunday newspaper, SonntagsZeitung, the veterinary office was surprised by the results of the unpublished study, expecting only half as many chickens to have been infected with the bacteria.

Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items.