Step away from the turkey II: bad advice from experts?

Thanksgiving brings a flurry of turkey tips, but the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension seem to have some conflicting advice.

More-doctors-smoke-Camels-than-any-other-cigaretteUniversity of Illinois Extension says, “Wash the turkey inside and out and pat skin dry with paper towels,” yet most other Extension advice is, don’t wash the damn bird, you’ll have bacteria flying everywhere.

And, if smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with deep ashtrays After the guests leave, check inside, under upholstery and in trash cans for smoldering cigarette butts.

Step away from the turkey, do not wash

You’d figure a website called could get some basics right, but no, in the run-up to U.S. Thanksgiving next week, idiocracy rules.

wash.turkey.nov.14“Step 3 Rinse the Turkey

Remove the giblets and neck out of the turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey with cold water inside and out, removing any excess fat and leftover pin feathers. Dry the turkey by patting it with paper towels and place it in a large roasting pan.

TIP If you purchased a frozen turkey, allow about 5 hours of thawing per pound.”

Do not wash the poultry, unless you killed it yourself and need to remove the feathers.

27 sickened with Salmonella in New Zealand linked to consumption of contaminated tahini imported from Turkey

A widespread salmonellosis outbreak linked to consumption of hummus made from contaminated tahini imported from Turkey occurred in New Zealand in November 2012.

tahiniThis article summarizes the outbreak detection, investigation, and control. The New Zealand Enteric Reference Laboratory alerted public health units regarding a cluster of 11 persons with Salmonella Montevideo infection identified from different regions of the North Island of New Zealand.

A multiagency outbreak investigation commenced to determine the source of illness and prevent further transmission. Salmonellosis is a notifiable disease in New Zealand. Outbreak cases were identified through routine salmonellosis notifications, and interviewed using a standardized questionnaire to identify common exposures. Clinical and food isolates were initially characterized by serotyping and then further typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE profiles were sent to PulseNet and international alerts were posted. The scope of the investigation widened to include persons with either Salmonella Maastricht and Salmonella Mbandaka infection following detection of these serotypes in tahini epidemiologically linked to laboratory-confirmed cases. All three of the tahini-associated serotypes were detected in people who had consumed tahini, and these were found to have PFGE profiles indistinguishable from the tahini isolates.

Twenty-seven salmonellosis cases infected with at least one of the three tahini-associated Salmonella serotypes were detected between September 1 and December 31, 2012; of these, 16 (59%) cases (12 with Salmonella Montevideo, 3 with Salmonella Mbandaka, and 1 with Salmonella Maastricht infection) had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the outbreak profile.

The investigation led to a trade withdrawal and consumer recall for tahini sesame paste from the consignment and products containing this tahini. The outbreak ceased following the recall. The importer of the implicated tahini was reminded of his duties as a food importer, including ensuring appropriate product testing. Changes to New Zealand legislation strengthened food safety responsibilities of food importers.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, November 2014, 11(11): 887-892

Paine Shevaun, Thornley Craig, Wilson Maurice, Dufour Muriel, Sexton Kerry, Miller Jim, King Grant, Bell Stephen, Bandaranayake Don, and Mackereth Graham

Poultry retailers in Europe may be penalized if they sell Salmonella contaminated fresh meat

Ute Reindl is the manager of an Austrian branch of a supermarket (MPREIS Warenvertriebs GmbH). In 2012 a food safety body took a sample at that branch of vacuum packed fresh turkey breast processed and packaged by another company (MPREIS being involved only at the distribution stage). The sample was contaminated by salmonella and was therefore ‘unfit for human consumption’ for the purposes of EU law1.

turkey.thanksgiving.oct.12The Austrian authorities brought proceedings against Ms Reindl for failure to comply with food safety rules and fined her. As Ms Reindl appealed against the fine to the Unabhängiger Verwaltungssenat in Tirol (Independent Administrative Chamber for the Land of Tyrol, Austria) which has asked the Court of Justice about the extent of liability of food business operators where they are active only at the distribution stage.

In today’s judgment, the Court of Justice states that the fresh poultry meat referred to by EU law2 must satisfy the microbiological criteria for salmonella at all the stages of distribution including the retail sale stage. In that connection, the Court notes that the microbiological criterion applies to ‘products placed on the market during their shelf life’3. The concept of ‘products placed on the market’ refers to foodstuffs (such as the fresh poultry meat) which are held for the purpose of sale, distribution or other forms of transfer, which thereby includes retail sale. Furthermore, failure to ensure compliance with microbiological criterion at all stages of distribution (including the retail sale stage) would amount to undermining one of the fundamental objectives of food safety legislation, that is, to attain a high level of protection of human health.

The Court of Justice states, moreover, that food business operators which are active only at the distribution stage may be fined for having placed on the market a foodstuff which fails to comply with the microbiological criterion. It is clear from EU law that the Member States must set penalties for infringements of food law, which are effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The Court considers that the system of fines put in place by Austrian law may help to attain the fundamental objective of food safety law (a high level of protection of human health). However, the referring court must ensure that that system satisfies the criterion of proportionality.

1 Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (OJ 2002 L 31, p. 1).

2 Essentially, chickens, laying hens and turkeys (see Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the control of salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents (OJ 2003 L 325, p. 1).

3   Commission  Regulation  (EC)  No  2073/2005  of  15  November  2005  on  microbiological  criteria  for  foodstuffs,  as

amended by Regulation No 1086/2011 (OJ 2005 L 281, p. 7).

Sheep as an important source of E. coli O157:H7 in Turkey

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a globally important foodborne pathogen and has been mainly associated with cattle as the reservoir. However, accumulating data shows the importance of sheep as an E. coli O157:H7 vehicle.

sheep.shit.aug.12The presence of E. coli O157/O157:H7 in recto-anal mucosal swap and carcass sponge samples of 100 sheep brought to the slaughterhouse in Kirikkale were analyzed over a year. Molecular characteristics (stx1, stx2, eaeA, hly, lpfA1-3, espA, eae-α1, eae-α2, eae-β, eae-β1, eae-β2, eae-γ1, eae-γ2/θ, stx1c, stx1d, stx2c, stx2d, stx2e, stx2f, stx2g, blaampC, tet(A), tet(B), tet(C), tet(D), tet(E), tet(G), sul1, sul2, floR, cmlA, strA, strB and aadA) of 79 isolates were determined and minimum inhibitory concentrations of 20 different antibiotics were investigated. E. coli O157/O157:H7 was found in 18% of sheep included in the study and was more prevalent in yearlings than lambs and mature sheep, and male than female sheep, though none of the categories (season, sex or age range) had significant effect on prevalence. Furthermore, Shiga-toxigenic E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 was determined in 2% and 8% of sheep feces and carcasses, respectively. Additionally, lpfA1-3 and eae-γ1 were detected in all isolates. None of the isolates showed resistance against investigated antibiotics, even though 4 sorbitol fermenting E. coli O157 isolates were positive for tet(A), sul1 and aadA. This is the first study in Turkey that reveals the potential public health risk due to the contamination of sheep carcasses with potentially highly pathogenic STEC O157:H7 strains.

Yilmaz Emre Gencay

46 sickened: Campylobacter and roast turkey or jus, Nov. 2013

In England, several recent campylobacter outbreaks have been associated with poultry liver consumption. Following a lunch event in a hotel in Surrey in November 2013 where chicken liver parfait was served, guests reported having gastrointestinal symptoms.

gravy-intro-612A retrospective cohort study showed 46 of 138 guests became unwell, with a median incubation period of two days and for 11 cases campylobacter infection was laboratory confirmed. Food item analysis identified an association between illness and consumption of roast turkey (aOR=3.02 p=0.041) or jus (aOR=3.55 p=0.045), but not with chicken liver parfait (OR=0.39 p=0.405). The environmental risk assessment did not identify non-compliance with standard food practice guidelines.

This study presents a point-source outbreak of campylobacter with a high attack rate and epidemiological analysis results show that the jus or roast turkey was the likely source of infection although this could not be confirmed by the environmental assessment. Consuming the chicken liver dish was not a risk factor for developing symptoms as was initially hypothesised. Prior knowledge on the association between poultry liver food items and campylobacter outbreaks should not overly influence an outbreak investigation to ensure the true aetiology is identified and on-going public health risk is minimised.


Suzan Trienekens, Charlotte Anderson, Jennifer Duffy, Rachel Gill, Lisa Harvey-Vince, Helen Jones, Piers Mook, Chikwe Ihekweazu, Ishani Kar-Purkayastha

Salmonella Stanley outbreaks – a prompt to reevaluate existing EU food regulations

In a recent Eurosurveillance issue, Kinross et al. [1] describe a cross-border outbreak of Salmonella Stanley in the European Union, which could be traced back to a contamination in the turkey production chain. The aetiological clone is mono-resistant to nalidixic acid and characterised by a novel pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) type. We agree with Kinross et al. that the exchange of molecular data has to be improved to speed up outbreak investigations. However, although control measures were adequate to contain the multistate outbreak, they were not sufficient to eradicate the new clone, seeing as two outbreaks that occurred in Germany 12 months and Austria 16 months later [2] were caused by kebab contaminated with the newly described Salmonella Stanley outbreak clone. Rather, there is a considerable risk that the clone will become endemic in the turkey or poultry production chain in Europe.

turkey.headIn an editorial on this outbreak report, Hugas and Beloeil from the European Food Safety Agency conclude: If sufficient information becomes available to reliably identify particular strains of public health significance, the inclusion of such strains as part of the EU-wide targets should be considered [3]. In Austria we are already observing rising infection rates with Salmonella Stanley, with nine documented human infections in 2010 versus 101 documented infections in 2013. Moreover, the problem of antibiotic resistance inherent to the Salmonella Stanley outbreak clone was not addressed in this editorial. During the recent outbreak in Austria, we isolated three strains from infected humans that had developed resistance even against third generation cephalosporins and gentamicin. All strains harboured a CTX-M-15 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase, rendering standard therapy regimens ineffective. To prevent further evolution and spread of Salmonella Stanley, countries must undertake every effort to eradicate this outbreak clone in the poultry production chain in Europe now.

Although European regulations have contributed substantially to reducing Salmonella infections, the recent Salmonella Stanley outbreaks should be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate existing regulations in view of efficient risk management and consistency. According to Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 [4], food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 [5] further specifies that Salmonella has to be absent in minced meat and meat preparations made from poultry meat. However, in 2011, Regulation 1086/2011 [6] set a food safety criterion for fresh poultry meat that unfortunately only covers Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium, leaving food inspectors in the difficult situation that safety criteria for meat preparations differ from those for raw meat. Further, in our opinion, Regulation 1086/2011 weakened the stricter standards originally intended by part E of Annex II to Regulation No 2160/2003 [7] specifying that fresh poultry meat may not be placed on the market for human consumption when contaminated with Salmonella.

Along with harmonisation and refinement of food safety criteria, inclusion of Salmonella Stanley in the community targets for the reduction of the prevalence of zoonoses and zoonotic agents should be implemented to efficiently support control measures.

Eurosurveillance, Volume 19, Issue 22

B Springer, F Allerberger, and C. Kornschober


710 sickened in 1.5-year EU Salmonella outbreak linked to turkey

Between August 2011 and January 2013, an outbreak of Salmonella enterica serovar Stanley (S. Stanley) infections affected 10 European Union (EU) countries, with a total of 710 cases recorded. Following an urgent inquiry in the Epidemic Intelligence Information System for food- and waterborne diseases (EPIS-FWD) on 29 June 2012, an international investigation was initiated including EU and national agencies for public health, veterinary health and food safety. 

turkey.thanksgiving.oct.12Two of three local outbreak investigations undertaken by affected countries in 2012 identified turkey meat as a vehicle of infection. Furthermore, routine EU monitoring of animal sources showed that over 95% (n=298) of the 311 S. Stanley isolates reported from animal sampling in 2011 originated from the turkey food production chain. In 2004–10, none had this origin. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profile analysis of outbreak isolates and historical S. Stanley human isolates revealed that the outbreak isolates had a novel PFGE profile that emerged in Europe in 2011. An indistinguishable PFGE profile was identified in 346 of 464 human, food, feed, environmental and animal isolates from 16 EU countries: 102 of 112 non-human isolates tested were from the turkey production chain. On the basis of epidemiological and microbiological evidence, turkey meat was considered the primary source of human infection, following contamination early in the animal production chain.

Multidisciplinary investigation of a multicountry outbreak of Salmonella Stanley infections associated with turkey meat in the European Union, August 2011 to January 2013

Euro Surveill. 2014;19(19)

Kinross P, van Alphen L, Martinez Urtaza J, Struelens M, Takkinen J, Coulombier D, Mäkelä P, Bertrand S, Mattheus W, Schmid D, Kanitz E, Rücker V, Krisztalovics K, Pászti J, Szögyényi Z, Lancz Z, Rabsch W, Pfefferkorn B, Hiller P, Mooijman K, Gossner C.

The sous vide of the suburbs: Cooking Thanksgiving in the dishwasher

Ben Raymond is an MS student at North Carolina State Universit yand self-proclaimed beer aficionado, focusing on food safety through social media, barf banter, and creating new foods.

Raymond writes:

As I wait impatiently for my girlfriend to come back from work in Boston, I’m hoping the freezing rain and sleet will hold off until later tonight. We have a three-hour drive this afternoon to Vermont, to visit my family for Thanksgiving.dishwasher

Ben Chapman forwarded me a piece from the L.A. Times blog (thanks Michele -ben) on cooking a Thanksgiving dinner in the dishwasher (because I’ve become the dishwasher-cooking-food-safety guru of our group).

If you can’t seem to keep your Thanksgiving turkey moist in the oven, you may want to try your dishwasher. Yes, people have been using the kitchen washing machine to cook proteins and fish since the 1970s, but famed chef David Burke insists you can also use it to cook the star of your Thanksgiving meal.

But before you start shoving your entire turkey in the dishwasher, Burke’s recipe calls for two boneless turkey breasts, not the entire bird. The meat and herbs are packed tightly in plastic wrap then sealed in Tupperware containers before hitting the top shelf of the dishwasher for three cycles or about 3 hours and 25 minutes.

This cooking technique is getting some play in the social mediaverse as a way to make moist, tender chicken, fish, or even beef –sort of a sous vide for the suburbs (without the thermal immersion circulator).

Earlier this fall I did a quick and dirty test of this technique in my own dishwasher. With some nifty water-proof stainless data-loggers, I’ve run few cycles in the dishwasher to see if you can safely cook various proteins. Is it a safe method? The data I’ve generated points to, unsurprisingly, sort of.

Salmon cooks nicely and reaches a safe (and tender) time and temperature combination as suggested 145° F.  Even poultry may be cooked safely in the dishwasher (at least in my home, no promises for any other setup), but only if you have expensive tools to monitor the cooking process. The data shows the proteins were held at temperatures below 165° F, but still hot enough and for sufficient time to effectively be cooked (as per FSIS’ appendix A. As a home cook, armed with a tip sensitive digital thermometer, the meat is unlikely to ever register the recommended 165° F internal temperature.

image-copyThere’s lots of variability though. Other dishwashers may be hotter than mine, or not (we have very hot water in my house, over 145° F from the tap).

All of this effort the chicken I cooked in my dishwasher was gross. It never got hot enough for the proteins to really cook and move past the rubberyish texture of raw of chicken. I like my steaks medium rare, but poultry? No thanks.  In my house we will be sticking with our traditional, yet boring, oven to roast our Thanksgiving bird.

Share your food (safety) porn this Thanksgiving

A walk through the farmers market, grocery store or restaurant will provide a glance into a not-so-new but increasingly prevalent subculture: cataloging food porn through smartphone cameras. This is spilling over into homes this week as my Facebook and Twitter feeds are already being populated with pics of turkeys brining and thawing.IMG_2587 copy

There’s an abundance of tips and strategies for a safe and tasty Thanksgiving circulating on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and news websites. There’s not a plethora of pictures of the safety in action.

Started to increase the dialogue around food safety through Twitter and Instagram, the #citizenfoodsafety project has generated over 200 pictures of handwashing signs, dirty toilets, thermometers and cross-contamination since September.

Snap a pic of your food safety practices this Thanksgiving and tag with #citizenfoodsafety and/or an additional special hashtag for this weekend: #citizenturkey. Jump in, share pictures of your meal and food safety in action with the online food safety nerds.