Category Archives: Food Illness

Research – Genetic insights could help tackle food bug

Roslin

Scientists have identified regions in the genetic makeup of chickens that are linked to resistance to Campylobacter  ̶  the leading bacterial cause of food-borne gastroenteritis worldwide.

Data obtained in the study inform the extent to which parts of the chicken genetic code can be linked to the prevalence of Campylobacter in the chicken gut.

A study led by researchers from the Roslin Institute, in collaboration with the poultry breeding company Aviagen, investigated the genetic make-up of 3,000 chickens bred for meat, to discover whether parts of their genetic code were associated with resistance to Campylobacter colonisation.

This was achieved by looking for variation at specific positions in the chickens’ genome and their association with numbers of Campylobacter in the gut of the birds.

Scientists combined this with analyses of the expression of genes in chickens that were resistant or susceptible to colonisation by the bacteria.

All the chickens were naturally exposed to Campylobacter present in their environment, which mimics how chickens are exposed on a commercial farm.

Campylobacter infections are common in people, who can develop diarrhoea and severe complications after handling or eating contaminated chicken meat.

Each year, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people in the UK are infected, costing the country approximately £50 million.

These results show that whilst there are genetic factors that influence Campylobacter colonisation, these factors play a minor role and therefore it is crucial to characterise and understand the role of the non-genetic and environmental factors to further reduce Campylobacter levels in poultry.

Taiwan – 106 hospitalized in Chiayi with suspected food poisoning

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) A total of 106 students and staff from a New Taipei elementary school were taken to hospitals in Chiayi City late Thursday after developing symptoms of food poisoning on the second day of their graduation trip, authorities said on Friday.

As of press time, 74 people — six adults and 68 students — who were sent to St. Martin de Porres Hospital suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, had been discharged.

One student who was among 32 people — five adults and 27 students — taken to Chiayi Christian Hospital, remained hospitalized for further observation, Chiayi City Public Health Bureau Director Liao Yu-wei (廖育瑋) said.

Specimens taken from the patients are being analyzed by local health officials and the results will be available within a week, Liao added.

USA – Washington State juice maker shut down by federal judge for toxins

Food Safety News

At the  FDA’s request, a federal court in Washington State has shutdown a 51-year-old juice maker who was annually supplying 2.9 million apple juice servings to USDA’s national school lunch program.

FDA found juice products at Valley Processing at 108 Blaine Ave in Sunnyside, WA, with inorganic arsenic and patulin, both toxins that pose a health risk to consumers.

Judge Stanley A Bastian on Jan. 14 approved a Consent Decree for Permanent Injunction against Valley Processing, closing the company that employed 71 people in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Singapore – Eng’s Heritage at Northpoint suspended after 26 people had food poisoning

Yahoo News

Authorities have suspended the licence of Eng’s Heritage from Wednesday (13 January) until further notice, after 26 people who ate at the wonton noodle chain’s Northpoint outlet came down with food poisoning.

Five of the 26 cases are currently hospitalised and are in a stable condition, while one additional case has been discharged from hospital, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a joint release.

The patrons reportedly had gastroenteritis symptoms after they consumed food at the outlet between 7 and 9 January, MOH and SFA added.

All food handlers working in the suspended premises are required to re-attend and pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course, before they can resume work as food handlers.

The appointed food hygiene officers working at the suspended premises are also required to re-attend and pass the food hygiene officer course before they can resume work.

USA – Hearings set on motions to vacate convictions and sentences of Parnell brothers in deadly Salmonella outbreak

Food Safety News

Brothers Stewart Parnell, 66, and Michael Parnell, 62, have, respectively, another 18 and 11 years to serve in federal prisons for their 2014 jury convictions involving Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

But with so-called “2255” evidentiary hearings now scheduled, on April 20  for Michal and on May 25 for Stewart, the early release of both men is a possible outcome. Their trial was in relation to a deadly Salmonella outbreak traced to their peanut products.

By getting evidentiary hearings on their motions to “Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct” their sentences, the Parnells have secured something many others do not get.

United States Magistrate Judge Thomas Q. Langstaff has agreed to hear the motions in the same Albany, GA, courthouse where the Parnells were convicted and sentenced.

Research – An Outbreak Investigation of Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning Illnesses in the United States Linked to Yellowfin Tuna Imported from Vietnam – 2019

Journal of Food Protection

Scombrotoxin fish poisoning (SFP) is caused by the ingestion of certain fish species with elevated levels of histamine due to decomposition. In the fall of 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was notified of 51 SFP illnesses including two hospitalizations from 11 states through consumer complaints received by FDA’s Consumer Complaint System or directly from state partners. A case was defined as an individual who experienced a histamine-type reaction after consumption of tuna imported from Vietnam and an illness onset between August 14, 2019 and November 24, 2019. A traceback investigation was initiated at 19 points-of-service (POS) to identify a common tuna source. FDA and state partners collected a total of 34 product samples throughout the distribution chain including from a case patient’s home, POS, distributors, or at the port of entry. Samples were analyzed by sensory evaluation and/or chemical testing for the presence of histamine. Cases reported exposure to tuna imported from Vietnam. The traceback investigation identified two Vietnamese firms as the sources of the tuna. Twenty-nine samples were confirmed as decomposed by sensory evaluation and/or positive for the presence of elevated levels of histamine by chemical testing. Both Vietnamese firms were placed on Import Alert. Seven U.S. firms and one Vietnamese firm initiated voluntary recalls. FDA released public communication naming the U.S. importers to help suppliers and distributors to identify the product and as a result, effectuate the foreign firm’s recall. This SFP outbreak investigation highlights the complexities of the federal outbreak response, specifically related to imported food. Imported foods present cultural considerations that need to be addressed during outbreak response when timing is critical. Furthermore, collaborating with countries where confidentiality agreements are not in place can limit information sharing and the speed of public health response efforts.

Venezuela – Salmonella outbreak continues with close to 500 sick

Food Safety News

About 500 people have fallen ill in a Salmonella outbreak in a Venezuelan state.

The Anzoatiguense Institute of Health (Saludanz) reported 480 people had tested positive for Salmonella, mostly from the El Carmen and San Cristóbal area of the Simón Bolívar municipality.

In mid-December 2020, the agency revealed 240 children and adults had been affected and seen at different health centers after a significant increase in salmonellosis during the previous month.

Investigations so far have pointed to contaminated water as the source of infection but officials have not ruled out a type of Brazilian sausage being behind some cases in the outbreak. They urged the public to buy food and water from hygienic places that comply with the necessary permits.

Research – Parasites in food an Invisible Threat

FAO

Foodborne parasitic diseases are often neglected in various food safety control systems, even though they can create severe human health problems. Because the production and monetary losses associated with them are often not visible, and the infected animals often show no signs, they are very difficult to detect. Different types of parasitic diseases can be transmitted to humans from pork, fish, freshwater crustaceans, vegetables, eggs of tapeworms and protozoa. The risks associated with all of them can, however, be avoided through the application of good hygiene, farming and fishing practices, and with the promotion of the community awareness. For example, the promotion of a participatory approach and the development of training packages for food businesses operators would be beneficial in raising awareness within the community. Basic information regarding the how the parasites are transmitted and their effects, and any and all preventive measure that each person can take should be included in communication topics. Food safety authorities can play an important part by using the guidance provided by Codex Alimentarius regarding animal production, food processing, and meat inspection. Furthermore, the development of networks of authorities committed to addressing the problem, would help prevent and control the spread of parasitic diseases.

Research – Project confirms growing threat in Europe from toxins created by microalgae

Food Safety News

gam

A project looking at the risk of ciguatera poisoning in Europe has finished work after almost five years.

An international scientific meeting was held in October for the EuroCigua project which began in April 2016 and ends this month.

Ciguatera is a type of food poisoning associated with consumption of fishery products that contain toxins produced by a microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus. The toxin does not affect the appearance, odor or taste of the fish and is not destroyed by cooking, refrigeration or freezing.

It causes an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 cases per year worldwide and outbreaks have been reported in Spain and Portugal. From 2012 to 2018, four European countries reported 23 ciguatera outbreaks and 167 cases.

Results confirmed the appearance of ciguatera in the European Union, having identified native species of fish with ciguatoxins in Macaronesia, Madeira and the Canary Islands. The presence of Gambierdiscus in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus and Greece was also detected, as well as the first finding in the Balearic Islands.

USA – Sushi related outbreak stumps health officials; more than 150 sickened

Food Safety News

Public health officials in North Carolina have concluded their investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak linked to sushi, saying they were unable to determine the specific cause behind the illnesses of more than 150 people.

Only a handful of ill people who ate the suspect sushi sold at two Harris Teeter grocery stores agreed to provide samples for pathogen testing, according to the Cabarrus Health Alliance environmental health director. Officials also tested one sample of sushi.

All patient samples and the product specimen were tested for a broad range of pathogens in an attempt to identify the agent responsible for the illnesses.