Maybe cook from frozen, using a thermometer to verify safety? Campylobacter exploits chicken juice to flourish

A study from the Institute of Food Research has shown that Campylobacter’s persistence in food processing sites and the kitchen is boosted by ‘chicken juice.’

raw-chicken-bacteria-537x357Organic matter exuding from chicken carcasses, “chicken juice”, provides these bacteria with the perfect environment to persist in the food chain. This emphasises the importance of cleaning surfaces in food preparation, and may lead to more effective ways of cleaning that can reduce the incidence of Campylobacter.

The study was led by Helen Brown, a PhD student supervised by Dr Arnoud van Vliet at IFR, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Helen’s PhD studentship is co-funded by an industrial partner, Campden BRI.

The researchers collected the liquids produced from defrosting chickens, and found that this helped Campylobacter attach to surfaces and subsequently form biofilms. Biofilms are specialised structures some bacteria form on surfaces that protect them from threats from the environment.

“We have discovered that this increase in biofilm formation was due to chicken juice coating the surfaces we used with a protein-rich film,” said Helen Brown. “This film then makes it much easier for the Campylobacter bacteria to attach to the surface, and it provides them with an additional rich food source.”

Campylobacter aren’t particularly hardy bacteria, so one area of research has been to understand exactly how they manage to survive outside of their usual habitat, the intestinal tract of poultry. They are sensitive to oxygen, but during biofilm formation the bacteria protect themselves with a layer of slime. This also makes them more resistant to antimicrobials and disinfection treatments

Understanding this and how Campylobacter persists in the food production process will help efforts to reduce the high percentage of chickens that reach consumers contaminated with the bacteria. Although thorough cooking kills off the bacteria, around 500,000 people suffer from Campylobacter food poisoning each year in the UK. Reducing this number, and the amount of infected chicken on supermarket shelves, is now the number one priority of the Food Standards Agency.

“This study highlights the importance of thorough cleaning of food preparation surfaces to limit the potential of bacteria to form biofilms,” said Helen.

 Chicken juice enhances surface attachment and biofilm formation of Campylobacter jejuni

05.sep.14

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. November 2014 vol. 80 no. 22 7053-7060

Helen L. Brown, Mark Reuter, Louise J. Salt, Kathryn L. Cross, Roy P. Betts and Arnoud H. M. van Vliet; M. W. Griffiths, Editor

http://aem.asm.org/content/80/22/7053

Abstract

The bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is primarily transmitted via the consumption of contaminated foodstuffs, especially poultry meat. In food processing environments, C. jejuni is required to survive a multitude of stresses and requires the use of specific survival mechanisms, such as biofilms. An initial step in biofilm formation is bacterial attachment to a surface. Here, we investigated the effects of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) on C. jejuni surface attachment and biofilm formation. Supplementation of brucella broth with ≥5% chicken juice resulted in increased biofilm formation on glass, polystyrene, and stainless steel surfaces with four C. jejuni isolates and one C. coli isolate in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions. When incubated with chicken juice, C. jejuni was both able to grow and form biofilms in static cultures in aerobic conditions. Electron microscopy showed that C. jejuni cells were associated with chicken juice particulates attached to the abiotic surface rather than the surface itself. This suggests that chicken juice contributes to C. jejuni biofilm formation by covering and conditioning the abiotic surface and is a source of nutrients. Chicken juice was able to complement the reduction in biofilm formation of an aflagellated mutant of C. jejuni, indicating that chicken juice may support food chain transmission of isolates with lowered motility. We provide here a useful model for studying the interaction of C. jejuni biofilms in food chain-relevant conditions and also show a possible mechanism for C. jejuni cell attachment and biofilm initiation on abiotic surfaces within the food chain. 

UK food stores flock to roast-in-the-bag chickens

It’s the one recipe to which even rudimentary cooks like to add their unique touches – perhaps a herby garnish or a few strips of bacon.

roast.chicken.june.10But it seems the days of roast chicken prepared in the distinctive way that your family has always enjoyed it may be numbered (the bird, right, was cooked to excess of 165F before serving).

Supermarkets are, according to Valerie Ellliot of the Daily Mail, urging shoppers to buy chickens in sealed ready- to-roast bags, amid fears that people are no longer able to maintain basic kitchen hygiene.

The aim is to reduce the number of campylobacter food-poisoning cases caused by handling fresh birds.

Supermarkets are increasingly promoting chickens in roast bags that are opened only after cooking. There is no human contact with raw skin and a lower risk of poultry juices spreading bugs. In most cases, they are marginally more expensive – Tesco charges £6 for a 3.3lb bagged version against £5 for a plain chicken.

Asda launched roast-in-bag flavoured chickens in September last year. Six million have been sold, and they now make up 30 per cent of all its chicken sales. A turkey crown in a bag will be on sale for Christmas.

Marks and Spencer now sells two thirds of its chickens in bags and they are also sold at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Aldi, while Morrisons and Lidl intend to introduce them.

Restaurateur Mark Hix, who specialises in British cuisine, said: ‘I don’t think people should buy chickens in bags. That removes all the pleasure of cooking. Good hygiene is not difficult.’

cooked.chickenGood hygiene is difficult – it requires people to pay attention.

But it can be done. Just stop saying it’s simple.

Tom Parker Bowles, Mail on Sunday food critic asked, “has it really come to this? A nation so lacking in basic common sense that we’re not to be trusted to wash our own hands? A country so obsessed with ease and convenience that the birds we put in our ovens must be sanitized and shoved in a plastic bag?

“I’ve been cooking roast chicken for more than 20 years and have never once caught any nefarious bug. We all know that raw chicken is to be treated with care: separate chopping board, hands scrubbed with soap and all the rest.”

Yes, the ole’ I’ve-been-doing-it-this-way-all-my-life-and-never-got-sick line.

But people are getting sick.

A roast chicken is the cornerstone of any decent cook’s repertoire. I’m making one tonight, stuffed with 30 cloves of garlic, rosemary, sage, and other stuff, and then get to make stock for a couple of days (I’ve got a bunch of mushrooms to use, so I see a mushroom soup in the near future.

Maybe in addition to cooking food in plastic, which may have a role, there is a learning moment to talk about the prevalence of dangerous bugs and how they can best be controlled. And that involves using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, not pedantic piping hot advice.

Schweddy balls: NPR’s advice on ‘how to buy the safest meat and make the juiciest steaks’

U.S. National Public Radio is a continual target of satire and for good reason.

barfblog.Stick It In“Free range’ can be a bit of a misnomer,” Bridget Lancaster, executive food editor of the Test Kitchen, tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “When you see ‘free range’ or even ‘pasture raised,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean that the hens and chickens are out roaming free and having a party outside. … Unless you visit the chicken farm, you almost don’t know how the chickens are being raised.”

And eating their own crap.

She and Jack Bishop, editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen, edited a cookbook, and suggest consumers look for the organic label.

Why? Saying the farming practices are better is like saying medical treatment was better with leeches. But natural.

On why you shouldn’t pack your burgers too tight:

Lancaster: Every time you touch, grind, move, look at ground meat, it starts to release a protein that’s really, really sticky called myosin. … Basically, when you grind beef, you’re damaging the meat fibers — so the more you damage it or touch it or pack it, the more of that sticky protein is going to be formed. And the sticky protein sometimes might not be a bad thing — for instance, [for] something like meatloaf, where you want a bit more cohesion. But for a burger, where you’re going to bite into it, you want it to almost just hang together. …

We kind of bundle the meat into mounds and then very gently pack the meat into patties. By “pack,” I really mean it’s … hands-off — it’s like you’re cradling a newborn baby, almost. You have to be very, very gentle with it. The best part of that is the surface of the burger itself is not completely smooth — it’s got all these crags and crevices in it. So when you go to cook it, you’re going to have a really nice crust that forms on the sides of the beef.

Sounds groovy, but use a thermometer and stick it in, so the burger is safe and not overcooked.

Too scientific for NPR.

Squirts Stars, thermometers and gender stuff

In Canada we call the little kids that play hockey, Novices.

sorenne.coffs.horbor.14In Brisbane they call them Squirts.

Novice is better.

Whatever they’re called, mucho kudos to the Brisbane  Southern Stars Squirts (5-9-years-old) on winning all six games at the 4th Annual 3-on-3 tournament at Coff’s Harbour, NSW, during the school holidays (Oct. 4-6, 2014)

I was out a couple of games, but Sheldon (another Canadian) ably stepped up (and his wife helped me), and his daughter Noelle, who may actually be younger than Sorenne, rocked it. I spoke with the kids afterwards to address any concerns and they seemed cool.

We may have gotten outshot every game, but superstar goalie Ronan Hoy registered two shutouts and pulled us though every other game. Each team member was awarded a gold medal, and coach Doug Powell’s medal is already proudly hanging downstairs with old-timey hockey paraphernalia.

Cole Hardiman was a scoring machine while brother Liam was no slouch (thanks for your help, parents Susan and Brad), while Onrii and Didier Dalgity chipped in as well. John Kelly, Alex Wentz Luke McNamara, and Ethan Poole all knew their role and to watch little kids change on the fly, pay attention to offside, and spread out and pass the puck was gratifying when we haven’t really practiced it.

sorenne.stick.hit.oct.14I apologize if I missed anyone, just like when I wake up in the morning and apologize to my wife for anything that may happen, and apologize when I go to bed for anything that did.

And of course we don’t teach little girls to hit other players in the back of the calves where there is no padding; that would be unsportspersonlike.

I didn’t go to the BBQ but Amy did and took a tip sensitive digital thermometer. A coupe of the dads said “Really?”

It’s food safety 1978 here, and more about that next week.

Thanks to all the parents for their time and helping to build the sport.

In a related but sorta unrelated story, my friend Elizabeth Weise, one of the few remaining reporters at the The USA Today, sent out a note asking now that “Apple and Facebook include egg freezing as a benefit. I’m curious what working mothers might think of this. One woman I know said it made her feel as if these companies were in effect saying to employees that they should have kids later on, on their own time. She worried anyone who actually had kids would be seen as a slacker who wasn’t committed to the job. Any thoughts? I’d love to quote some real mothers in the story.”

Also, “Anyone have thoughts they’d like to share with USA Today on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s comment yesterday that women in tech don’t need to ask for raises, they should just trust the system to do well by them.

braun.sorenne.hockeyI can put you in touch with Beth.

How about another gender story? Most people know this– it’s a not a secret.

My comment to Beth was that as a father of five hockey-playing daughters – he’s a jackass.

We’ll work more on positioning for the rest of the season, as well as the basics.

Also, the girls-only session last week was a success. When we started the Guelph girls hockey league in about 1996, (that’s in Ontario, in Canada, a town of about 120,000), the girls came out of the woodwork and now is a vibrant league with house league, various rep teams, and probably some 1,000 girls playing.

girls.hockey.international.oct.14

dp

Dr. Douglas Powell

powellfoodsafety.com

barfblog.com

dpowell29@gmail.com

 

Reader’s Digest nosestretcher alert: 13+ things you shouldn’t eat at a restaurant

In its futile quest to compete in a 140—character universe, Reader’s Digest (Canada) included meat with the bone in as a restaurant no-no.

steak.tartareAnd I quote: “small cuts of meat, like bone-in pork or chicken breasts, are harder to cook thoroughly because their outsides easily char. This often translates to crispy on the outside and raw on the inside. Unlike undercooked beef—say, a rare burger or a steak tartare—undercooked pork and chicken are highly dangerous and could causes foodborne illnesses.”

Rare burgers and steak tartares are microbiological messes and shouldn’t be touched. Regardless of the cut, use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

barfblog.Stick It In

Hockey, thermometers and disbelief

News has been a little slow because we spent the long weekend with 120 (ice) hockey players in Coff’s Harbour, a primarily fishing town about five hours south of Brisbane, and home to the big banana.

powell.coffsAnd a decent-sized rink, so it was a 3-on-3 games.

The Saturday night is a large BBQ for parents and players of all ages and, as usual, I volunteered to cook and brought a couple of tip-sensitive digital thermometers.

Unfortunately, I spent the night in the hospital for other reasons but, the show must go on.
temp.burgers.coffs..harbour.14Proving that even French professors can use a thermometer, by all accounts Amy was a food safety master.

Although a couple of the parents said, a thermometer, you’ve got to be kidding, Amy had all the answers.

The team I co-coached won gold.IMG_0038 But fun was had by all.powell.coffs.3

big.banana

Use a thermometer and stick it in, not a knife

Bad food safety advice from Tesco Ireland today on Twitter:

@safefood_eu tip: To check meat is fully cooked, stick a sharp knife in & check that there is no pink meat in the middle #homecooks

barfblog.Stick It InColor is a lousy indicator. There’s lots of references on barfblog. Why stick in a knife when you can stick in a tip-sensitive digital thermomter?

Shattered: UK FSA annual science report published

I saw the Rolling Stones in Buffalo in 1981. We stayed up all night, and drove from Guelph, crossing the border about 4:30 a.m. George Thorogood opened in the rain, and was awesome, followed by Journey, who sucked (hence the Journey effect) and then the Stones.

barfblog.Stick It InThe UK Food Standards Agency is the Journey of the food safety biz: they make other agencies look good.

Catherine Brown, the chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, writes in the annual science report that it demonstrates “science is at the heart of everything we do.”

It’s hard to take that seriously from a group that recommends piping hot, steaming hot, and cooked until the juices run clear.

There’s no mention of thermometers.

Brown also writes, “A fundamental principle in this process is to maintain a clear distinction between the independent, expert assessment of risk, and decisions on risk management.”

The U.S. got rid of that in 1997.

But Journey was popular back then.

Stick it in: Australian warning about Hepatitis E cases linked with pork liver

NSW Health is urging members of the public to thoroughly cook pork products, particularly pork livers, after three recent notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW in people who have not travelled outside Australia.

barfblog.Stick It InNSW Health – in collaboration with the NSW Food Authority and the Department of Primary Industries – is investigating the cases which were recorded over the past few days.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, the Director of Health Protection with NSW Health, said three individuals have likely contracted the illness after consuming either pork liver or pork liver sausages that may not have been properly cooked at home.

“Hepatitis E virus has previously been identified in Australian pig herds but until recently there has been no evidence that humans have acquired the virus from pork products in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.

“Hepatitis E is common in developing countries where there is poor sanitation and little access to clean drinking water. Although infections have been linked to the consumption of pork products in other developed countries, this has not been seen in Australia before.

“In 2010 there were 14 notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW, in 2011 there were 21 notifications and in 2012 there were 10 notifications – all of which were thought to have been acquired overseas.

“Last year there were 19 notifications of the virus across the State and for the first time included a small number which were acquired locally.

“So far this year there have been 27 notifications, many without a history of overseas travel but with a history of eating pork particularly pork liver during the time they were likely exposed to the virus.”

pork.liverDr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist NSW Food Authority, said any raw food product has an element of food safety risk unless it is correctly handled and prepared.

“Undercooking pork livers and poor handling of them can be dangerous,” Dr Szabo said.

“Cooking livers all the way through will reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis E virus or other organisms.”

Potentially harmful viruses and bacteria that may be associated with pork livers are all destroyed by thorough cooking and proper handling.

Pork livers need to be cooked all the way through to kill any organisms that may be present – lightly searing the surface is not enough.

Cook to 75°C at the centre of the thickest part for at least two minutes as measured using a digital probe meat thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. Allow livers to rest for at least three minutes before consuming.

It is also important to handle pork livers in a way to avoid cross-contamination.”

To avoid cross-contamination (where particles from raw food come into contact with ready-to-eat foods), it is very important to:

  • wash your hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before preparing food and after touching raw meat;
  • make sure juices from raw meat do not come into contact with other foods
  • thoroughly clean all utensils, equipment and surfaces after preparing raw meat and before contact with other foods;
  • if possible use a separate cutting board and knife specifically for raw meat;
  • store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so juices can’t drip onto other foods; and
  • keep uncooked raw meat away from other ready-to-eat foods that will not be cooked.

Nosestretcher alert: steaming hot taxpayer-funded UK food safety nonsense

bites.stick.it.inYou don’t even need a temperature probe, just keep dad handy. Meat should be steaming in the middle, with no pink on the inside. Any juices should run clear.”

Nonsense.

And taxpayers pay for this.

I also wouldn’t use tongs on raw meat and then stick them in my apron.

Use a thermometer and stick it in.