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.

317 sick in Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak; just cook it still doesn’t cut it; skating, hockey, Thanksgiving turkey

Amy, Sorenne and I began eight weeks of skating lessons at the local arena Satuday (I suck after seven years of no ice, thank you Kansas), started cooking the Canadian Thanksgiving feast at 3 a.m Sunday, and have had hockey on in the background since 4 a.m.

I try to be super-extra careful when cooking a big bird because of the potential for cross-contamination, and the potential of sickening a bunch therm.turkey.oct.13of what-would-become former friends.

But in some cases, extra care is not enough.

As the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to Foster Farms hits 317 sick, Costco has ordered a recall of nearly 40,000 pounds of rotisserie chickens after one tested positive for Salmonella on Friday.

That’s a cooked chicken. To paraphrase Bill Marler, if Costco can’t cook the poop out of a bird, why are consumers expected to?

Still, company types, many government types and other types, insist all will be well if the chicken is just cooked properly.

This is a terrible message, and not scientifically accurate.

Chapman at least got a few correct points in when he told Live Science cross-contamination can happen at any point in the cooking and handling process, starting at the grocery store, don’t wash the bird, and use a damn thermometer.

(I gave one to an IT friend here for the Thanksgiving food orgy.)

After threatening Monday to close three Foster Farms processing plants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed on Thursday to allow the plants to continue operating with advanced, super-secret safety procedures.

Neither the company nor USDA will say what these procedures are. Doesn’t build confidence.

Which would be an additional reason the list of retailers recalling Fosters products is growing.

Lynne Terry of the Oregonian writes that Costco’s El Camino Real store in San Francisco, Calif., is pulling and products over Salmonella contamination. The recall includes nearly 8,800 Kirkland Signature Foster Farms rotisserie chickens and more than 310 units of Kirkland Farm rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters and rotisserie chicken salad.

The products were sold to Costco customers at the El Camino Real store between Sept. 11 and Sept. 23, the notice said. The chickens were processed at three Foster Farms plants in central California.

Fred Meyer and QFC stores have withdrawn chicken from the same plants. They were sold under the brand names of Simple Truth Organic and Kroger Value. The voluntary withdrawal also includes deli chicken and rotisserie chickens.

Melinda Merrill, Fred Meyer spokeswoman, said the stores are still selling the Foster Farms labeled poultry that came from a plant that’s not been implicated in the outbreak.

This outbreak differs in that the variety of salmonella is especially virulent.

There are seven strains of salmonella Heidelberg involved in the outbreak. Several of them are antibiotic-resistant and “one of the strains that we’ve tested is resistant to seven antibiotics,” said Christopher Braden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention division of foodborne diseases.

Of the people infected, 42% have been hospitalized — an unusually high percentage, according to the CDC.

“That’s about twice what we would normally see for a salmonella outbreak,” Braden said. “We think that’s at least in part due to the fact that a number of these strains have resistance to one or more antibiotics.”

Thirteen percent of those sickened have salmonella septicemia, a serious, life-threatening, whole-body inflammation, Braden said. Normal for salmonella would be “just a few percent,” he said.

In a statement, Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster said “we have worked relentlessly to address these issues and will continue to do so as we work to regain consumer trust and confidence in the Foster Farms brand.”

Those comments do not bolster consumer confidence.

If you’ve got a good food safety system, brag about it. Because some companies are better.


Turkey on the table; praise be to Canadian Thanksgiving

I paid $9.50/kg for the Canadian Thanksgiving turkey we’ll be carving this Sunday afternoon (after reaching a thermometer-verified 165F or higher; I’m not one of those you-can’t-over-cook-a-turkey-that’s-what-the-gravy-is-for folks).

That’s about $4.50 a pound.

I told the butcher, one of the few to stock turkey (he also has crocodile and kangaroo) that in North America it would be aust.turkey.label_.12-225x300$0.99/pound. Market demand, I guess.

Turkey’s just not that big in Australia, even though we have dozens wandering the streets in our near-to-downtown Brisbane suburb.

The cooking instructions on the label are the same as last year – scientifically incorrect and suck. No safe cooking temperature, no thermometer advice, and says to wash the bird.

No one will be washing the bird in this house.

Last year we had about 30 people show up, and the locals were amazed by such a thing – a turkey.

Dr. Temple Grandin is featured in a video about the turkey industry designed to give the public a look at how the birds are raised, slaughtered and readied for Thanksgiving dinner.

The National Turkey Federation and the American Meat Institute paid for the video which features Grandin with a flock of 1,500 birds and takes the viewer all the way through the stunning and slaughter process.

I like the transparency. It undercuts any attempts at conspiracy theories.

But a 13-minute video? Edit it to two minutes.

My friend Jim Romahn asks, why hasn’t the Canadian turkey industry, which is far more organized than in the United States, done something like this long ago?

“I’m really pleased that the industry wanted the public to see this process because I think we need to show people how it’s just done right in a typical plant,” Grandin said in a news release.

“There’s a lot of good work going on in animal agriculture and I’m glad we’re telling our story openly and honestly.”  

Brunch will be served Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. Show up if you’re around.

Know your camel: Turkish men hospitalized after drinking camel’s milk, urine

Two Turkish men were hospitalized on arrival to Turkey after drinking camel’s milk and urine while on an umrah visit, Hurriyet Daily News reported. 

The men believed the camel’s milk and urine to be good for health, claiming it was written in a hadith. An imam, according to the Turkish men, also drank the gonza.camelmilk and urine with them. 

The visitors were hospitalized due to high fever and unusual levels of liver enzymes. Further tests revealed that the two men had been infected with the “alkhurma” virus, reportedly catching the virus from the milk.  

The alkhurma virus is very dangerous and highly contagious and has a fatality rate of 25 to 35 percent, daily Hürriyet reported

İhsan Özkes, a retired religious cleric and current member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), denied the existence of any hadith that would encourage people to drink camel’s milk and urine.

“Those who did drink it must have been ignorant,” he said.

Salmonella sickened Martha Stewart last month after ‘handling so many turkeys’

Martha Stewart told the New York Post’s Page Six she was confined to her bed for several days last month because of a salmonella infection, adding, “I never get sick, but I came down with salmonella. I think I caught it because I was handling so many turkeys around Thanksgiving. I was on the ‘Today’ show, I did a number of other [Thanksgiving] appearances. It really hit me hard and I was in bed for days. It was terrible.”