U.K. nursery closed following E. coli O55 outbreak

500065432206023-1BBC reports that the Blandford Children’s Centre Nursery in Dorset (U.K.) was closed as health officials investigate a cluster of rare E. coli illnesses.

Vanessa Glenn, head of family support at Dorset County Council, which runs the nursery in Black Lane, said a child there was diagnosed with E. coli infection in mid-October.

She said it was closed for three days while deep-cleaning work was carried out.

Another child from the nursery was infected on Monday and it is currently closed pending the results of staff blood tests and child stool samples, she added.

She said there had also been another E. coli case involving a child from Blandford who had attended Shaftesbury Children’s Centre, although this is not part of the “cluster”.

Ms Glenn said: “While there is no indication of a direct link between the nursery and recent cases, we are working closely with Public Health England and local authority environmental health officers to help tackle the problem.”

She added parents had been “kept fully informed” and were being advised of the nursery closure.

“As some cases have occurred in people associated with a children’s nursery, letters have been sent to parents whose children attend the nursery and staff, informing them about E. coli O55 and the ongoing investigation,” PHE said.

A couple of years ago I collaborated with Clemson’s Angie Fraser on a set of USDA NIFA funded food safety and infection factsheets for childcare facilities including using exclusion of ill staff and children as an outbreak control measure. The sheets can be downloaded here and here.

E. coli O55 cluster in UK; some cases link to childcare

Since the early 80’s E. coli O157:H7 had been public enemy number one in the pathogenic foodborne E. coli world. Sample and hold strategies that came out of the meat-related E. coli focus was based on O157.

Then came the other STECs.1380655137600

And Europe’s O104:H4 fenugreek sprout-linked outbreak.

There are lots of of E. colis to worry about.

According to Heart 102.3, a cluster of E. coli O55 has been identified Blanford UK.

Since July, ten people have been diagnosed with this infection which can cause bloody diarrhoea and seven of those affected have developed kidney problems – called haemolytic uraemic syndrome – a serious complication of an E. coli infection.  There have been no deaths.

As some cases have occurred in people associated with a children’s nursery, letters have been sent to parents whose children attend the nursery and staff, informing them about E. Coli O55 and the ongoing investigation. 

Noëleen McFarland, Consultant in Health Protection at PHE Wessex, said: “We are working closely with colleagues in the North Dorset Environmental Health Department to identify possible sources of infection. It is an infection that can be passed easily from person to person and young children are particularly easily affected.

“Any infection with E. coli can be very serious. We have interviewed all of those affected or their parents and their close contacts to look for possible causes in the days before they became ill.  This information is being used in the ongoing investigation into these cases.”

Reading about HUS in kids is like a gut punch.

Husband tells of horrific moment of wife’s death after eating reheated Christmas dinner at UK chain pub

 A husband has told how his dying wife’s eyes rolled back into her head after eating a reheated Christmas dinner at one of the country’s top pub chains, a court heard.

237E855900000578-0-image-55_1416934800709Mother-of-one Della Callagher died and 32 other diners became seriously ill after eating the turkey dinner at the Railway Hotel, Hornchurch, Essex.

The 46-year-old became unwell on Boxing Day and her devastated husband told the court how his wife began shaking and her eyes rolled back into her head.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard she was sent home from Queen’s Hospital, Romford, and she died on December 27.

Guests paid £39.95 for a meal which had been cooked the day before and given a second blast on a hotplate before it was brought to the table.

Prosecutors claimed the food was not allowed to cool when it was first cooked and then not properly reheated, creating a perfect breeding ground for the deadly Clostridium bacteria.

After the outbreak landlady Anne-Marie McSweeney, 40, and chef Mehmet Kaya, 37 disposed of all the waste food, preventing health inspectors from taking samples. They also forged kitchen records.

They were both found guilty perverting the course of justice for falsifying food safety records.

Proper cleaning and sanitizing matters; so does correcting infractions

Restaurants I want to eat at have some common attributes: tasty food, decent value and a good food safety culture. Food safety culture isn’t about having a training program – it’s about identifying hazards, understanding how to manage them and when deficiencies are pointed out, reacting by addressing problems.

I avoid places that have trouble responding to the help that local public health regulatory folks provide. Everyone can have a bad day, but having two or three consecutive inspections and not correcting the issues is a trend that says more about what an operator values.JS51071999

According to GetHampshire.com, Woodys Take Out received a formal caution by local regulators after not heeding inspectors’ warnings to address their food safety activities.

The offences, noted during visits on October 23 and November 3, included a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection of the premises and equipment such as chopping boards, handles and taps.

Food handlers were also found to not have been suitably trained in food hygiene procedures and demonstrated a poor understanding of effective cleaning.

There was also a failure to implement required food safety management systems.

The director of the company – which has branches in Farnborough, Aldershot, Blackwater and Yiewsley – accepted the cautions, admitting the offences on behalf of the company.

As part of this action, the takeaway voluntarily closed for one day to ensure that the premises were brought up to the minimum standard required by law.

Good cleaning and sanitizing takes having the right equipment, staff that know how to do it and an organizational value system that ensures it gets carried out. Dirty utensils and cutting boards in the prep area can lead to cross-contamination risks.

Top 10 UK toilets through time

A Scottish food safety friend sent along this story from English Heritage which has some great pics.

1. Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall: All together now…

Toilet-bannerThe best preserved Roman loos in Britain are at Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall. At its height, the fort was garrisoned by 800 men, who would use the loo block you can still see today. There weren’t any cubicles, so men sat side by side, free to gossip on the events of the day. They didn’t have loo roll either, so many used a sponge on a stick, washed and shared by many people.

Visit Housesteads Roman Fort

2. Old Sarum, Wiltshire: Luxury facilities, until you have to clean them…

These deep cesspits sat beneath the Norman castle at Old Sarum, probably underneath rooms reached from the main range, like private bathrooms. In the medieval period luxury castles were built with indoor toilets known as ‘garderobes’, and the waste dropped into a pit below. It was the job of the ‘Gongfarmer’ to remove it

Visit Old Sarum

3. Dover Castle, Kent: The royal wee

Henry II made sure that Dover Castle was well provided with garderobes. He had his own en-suite facilities off the principal bed-chamber. As with many castles of the era, chutes beneath the garderobes were built so that the waste fell into a pit which could be emptied from outside the building.

Visit Dover Castle

4. Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire: The toilet tower

At Goodrich Castle there’s a whole tower dedicated to doing your business.

Visit Goodrich Castle

5. Orford Castle, Suffolk: A Norman urinal

Garderobes are quite common in medieval castles, but urinals are a little more unusual. Henry II’s Orford Castlewas built as a show of royal power, and to guard the busy port of Orford.

Visit Orford Castle

6. Muchelney Abbey, Somerset: Thatched loo for monks

Many medieval abbey ruins across the country include the remains of the latrines, or ‘reredorter’ (meaning literally ‘at the back of the dormitory’), including Muchelney AbbeyCastle Acre Priory and Battle Abbey. At Muchelney the building survives with a thatched roof, making it the only one of its kind in Britain. The monks would enter the loo block via their dormitory and take their place in a cubicle – you can still see the fixings for the bench and partitions between each seat.

Visit Muchelney Abbey

7. Jewel Tower, London: The Privy Palace

A precious survival from the medieval Palace of Westminster, Jewel Tower was part of the ‘Privy Palace’, the residence of the medieval kings and their families from 11th to 16th century. It was well supplied with garderobes, with one on each of the three floors.

Visit Jewel Tower

8. Old Wardour Castle, Wiltshire: ‘A new discourse of a stale subject’

The forerunner to our modern flushing toilet was invented at Old Wardour Castle. The inventor Sir John Harington met with five others at the castle to discuss his idea for the first time in 1592.

Visit Old Wardour Castle

Thunderbox9. Audley End House, Essex: Feeling flush

Along with many other technological advancements, Audley End was one of the first country houses in England to have flushing toilets. The first of Joseph Bramah’s new hinged-valve water closets was purchased in 1775, and a further 4 were bought in 1785 at a cost equivalent to the wages of two servants for a whole year.

Visit Audley End

10. Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire: Thunderboxes

Inside the elegant Victorian country house of Brodsworth Hall almost everything has been left exactly as it was when it was still a family home. So as well as the grand furniture, there’s also everything from the commodes of the 1840s to a modern pink bathroom from the 1960s/70s.

Visit Brodsworth Hall

Campylobacter in UK: Just cook it still doesn’t cut it

The British Poultry Council (BPC) told The Grocer that media reports that supermarkets are knowingly selling chickens contaminated with Campylobacter may mislead consumers, and that “cooking it properly and observing good kitchen hygiene” will take care of the problem.

album-Rolling-Stones-Let-It-BleedIt’s easy to blame consumers. What are producers doing to reduce risk?

An article in today’s (19 November) The Times cited BPC data that showed 24% of a randomly tested sample of 5,000 batches of chicken had tested positive for the highest levels of campylobacter contamination.

The results were similar to those revealed in August in  the first batch of quarterly results from a 12-month survey currently being undertaken by the FSA on the prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chickens and their packaging. The FSA survey showed 16% of birds at the highest level of contamination of more than 1000 colony forming units per gram, and 26% at between 100 and 1000 cfu/g.

BPC CEO Andrew Large said The Times article was based on a small sample of testing, designed to assist members of the Joint Working Group on Campylobacter in their operations.

“As the data is neither comprehensive nor statistically robust, it will not be useful for consumers and risks being misleading,” he warned, adding: “Consumers have a key role to play as good kitchen hygiene will remain a cornerstone of preventing foodborne illness.”

A spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium said, “As long as campylobacter is present in the food chain, and we don’t yet have the solution for that despite our best efforts. We need to maintain the very strong message that all raw chicken should be handled with appropriate care and releasing incomplete data could dilute that message to consumers and lead to confusion.”

The FSA will next week issue the second set of quarterly results of its campylobacter survey, when it will also name-and-shame” retailers with the worst record for campylobacter-contaminated poultry.

Spin away.

(And this is from the last time I saw the Stones, in 1981; didn’t need to go again in Brisbane the other night.)

UK student needs second kidney transplant 20 years after eating E. coli O157 contaminated cheese

A student who almost died after eating a contaminated cheese sandwich as a toddler has been told she needs a second kidney transplant.

lois.reid.e.coliLois Reid fell desperately ill when she was two years old. But a transplant at the age of six meant she could live a normal life.

This year, however, the 22-year-old suffered kidney failure again.

And now she has to play a waiting game again for another donor organ.

In the meantime, she spends three days a week hooked up to a dialysis machine in hospital.

But despite her illness and the exhaustion it causes, Lois managed to complete her final year of college.

And she passed her last exam just three days after getting out of hospital.

Lois said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had passed. I phoned my mum and she just burst into tears.”

The family’s nightmare began after Lois fell ill after eating a sandwich with

home-made farmhouse cheese that was contaminated with E coli O157.

She was taken to Aberdeen Royal Children’s Hospital, where doctors found out her kidneys were failing.

Lois spent four years on dialysis, during which she suffered a stroke and frequent life-threatening infections.

Leicester diners placed at “unnecessary risk” says UK Food Standards Agency

Leicester City Council has been criticized by the Food Standards Agency for the way it has let restaurant hygiene levels slip.

public.healthConcerns were raised over the lack of enforcement action taken against low-rated businesses and the backlog of uninspected restaurants in the city.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the authority was putting diners at “unnecessary risk” after it was audited earlier this year.

A report released today by the agency’s chief executive Catherine Brown highlighted a number of concerns, nationwide, with regard to a lacklustre approach to food hygiene.

But Ms Brown drew particular attention to Leicester City Council in the eight-page document, saying its inspectors had failed on a number of points when dealing with food safety.

The report says: “An authority of particular concern to us at the moment is Leicester City Council, which the FSA has informed is in default of its statutory obligations under food law.

“This is as a result of ongoing and serious issues concerning levels of unrated premises, backlogs in inspecting premises, failing to inspect food manufacturing businesses prior to approval to operate and the level of enforcement activity undertaken in order to protect consumers.”

85 sick in UK shiga-toxin producing E. coli outbreak; source unknown

So far 75 people have been affected (primary cases): 67 in England, 3 in Wales and 5 in Scotland. Genetic analysis has shown that all these individuals have all been infected with the same E.coli strain. Most of these cases are adults but the total number of cases has an age range of between 2 to 90. Twenty-seven males and 48 (64%) females have been affected.

e.coli.magnifiedIn addition, there have also been 10 secondary cases reported. These are people who have become unwell through contact with a primary case.

Further details are available on 82 of the total cases all of whom reported symptoms of diarrhoea. Bloody diarrhoea was reported by 58 people (71%) and 25 people have been hospitalised as a result of their illness. There have been no deaths or cases of haemolytic-uraemic syndrome which is a serious complication of an E. coli infection which can result in kidney failure.

At present there is no clear indication as to what is causing the outbreak. 

Still prefer scores on doors: UK diners should ‘look before they book’

Festive diners are advised to ‘look before they book’ when planning a Christmas meal out in Bucks.

larry.david.rest.inspecThe Food Standards Agency said people should check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating, which is determined by local authority food safety officers.

Restaurants are marked from nought to a high of five.

Ninety-three per cent of food businesses in Bucks are rated three or better.

South Bucks District Council’s cabinet member for health and housing, Councillor Jennifer Woolveridge, said: “It’s easy to check hygiene ratings online and choose a restaurant for Christmas parties that takes food hygiene seriously. A good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of.

Visit www.food.gov.uk/ratings to check
a rating or look for the green and black sticker on the restaurant. If you cannot see one, just ask.