During October and November 2016, over 1,000 customers and staff reported gastroenteritis after eating at all 23 branches of a restaurant group in the United Kingdom. The outbreak coincided with a new menu launch and norovirus was identified as the causative agent. We conducted four retrospective cohort studies; one among all restaurant staff and three in customers at four branches. We investigated the dishes consumed, reviewed recipes, interviewed chefs and inspected restaurants to identify common ingredients and preparation methods for implicated dishes. Investigations were complicated by three public health agencies concurrently conducting multiple analytical studies, the complex menu with many shared constituent ingredients and the high media attention. The likely source was a contaminated batch of a nationally distributed ingredient, but analytical studies were unable to implicate a single ingredient. The most likely vehicle was a new chipotle chilli product imported from outside the European Union, that was used uncooked in the implicated dishes. This outbreak exemplifies the possibility of rapid spread of infectious agents within a restaurant supply chain, following introduction of a contaminated ingredient. It underlines the importance of appropriate risk assessments and control measures being in place, particularly for new ingredients and ready-to-eat foods.
Posted in food contamination, food handler, Food Hygiene, Food Illness, Food Inspections, Food Micro Blog, Food Microbiology, Food Microbiology Blog, Food Pathogen, food recall, Food Safety, Food Safety Alert, Food Testing, Food Virus, Norovirus, Uncategorized, Virus
Some people use frozen berries without first cooking them, increasing their risk of exposure to harmful viruses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported three hepatitis A virus outbreaks and one norovirus outbreak linked to frozen berries in the United States from 1997 to 2016. The FDA began sampling frozen berries for each hazard as part of the agency’s efforts to protect consumers and ensure food safety.
The sampling assignment began in November and is estimated to last approximately 18 months. The agency is collecting domestic samples of frozen berries in retail packaging from processors, distribution centers, warehouses, and retail locations. The agency is also collecting import samples from ports of entry, importer warehouses, or other storage facilities where foreign goods are cleared for entry into the country. The FDA plans to collect and test 2,000 samples in all.
Frozen berries are used as ingredients in many foods without being cooked; cooking would reduce or eliminate potential contamination. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are delicate and may become contaminated with bacteria or viruses if handled by an infected worker who does not use appropriate hand hygiene, or if exposed to contaminated agricultural water or a contaminated surface, like a harvesting tote. Freezing preserves berries but generally does not kill viruses, which can survive at low temperatures.
If the FDA detects hepatitis A virus or norovirus in a sample, the agency will notify the firm of the finding(s) and work with the firm to take appropriate action to protect the public health. Upon detecting a positive test result, the FDA may also take actions such as placing a firm on an import alert, overseeing a recall, or issuing public warnings.
The FDA will post the sampling results on its FY 19-20 Frozen Berries Assignment page on a quarterly basis and will publish an analytical report once the assignment is complete.
Posted in food contamination, Food Hygiene, Food Inspections, Food Micro Blog, Food Microbiology, Food Microbiology Blog, Food Pathogen, Food Safety, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Uncategorized, Virus
Food Poisoning Bulletin
A norovirus outbreak associated with Dave and Buster’s restaurant at 1101 Outlet Collection Way SW, Suite 1057, in Auburn, Washington has sickened at least 12 people, according to King County Public Health. Since April 5, 2019, five people from a single party reported illnesses after eating at that facility on March 31, 2019.
Posted in food bourne outbreak, food contamination, food handler, Food Hygiene, Food Illness, Food Inspections, Food Micro Blog, Food Microbiology, Food Microbiology Blog, Food Pathogen, food recall, Food Safety, Food Safety Alert, Food Spoilage, Food Testing, Food Virus, Norovirus, Uncategorized, Virus
A common bacterial pathogen called Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces a virus that substantially increases the pathogen’s ability to infect us, according to a study by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
P. aeruginosa weaponizes its resident virus to exploit the immune system’s distinct responses to bacterial versus viral infections.
This marks the first time a bacteria-infecting virus, otherwise known as a bacteriophage or just phage, has been observed inducing the immune system to mount an antiviral response and, in doing so, causing it to ignore the bacterial infection. When the scientists generated a vaccine directed at the virus, they showed that it dramatically lowered the bacteria’s ability to infect wounds in mice.
Food Poison Journal
The Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District officials have confirmed a case of hepatitis A in a food handler at McDonald’s, 106 LaFayette Road, Chickamauga, GA. An investigation found that this employee worked at the restaurant while infectious, from March 4 through March 17. While it is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, “there might be some risk to the public,” says District Health Director Dr. Unini Odama, “and therefore we are doing everything necessary to protect the public and anyone that might have been inadvertently exposed to the hepatitis A virus.”
Posted in food handler, Food Hygiene, Food Inspections, Food Micro Blog, Food Microbiology, Food Microbiology Blog, Food Pathogen, Food Safety, Food Safety Alert, Food Testing, Food Virus, Hepatitis A, Uncategorized, Virus
Food Poisoning Bulletin
A case of hepatitis A has been identified in a Frisch’s employee who worked in two of the restaurant’s locations: at 1228 Scioto Street in Urbana, Ohio, and at 1830 Bechtle Avenue in Springfield, Ohio. The Champaign Health District and the Clark County Combined Health District are working to vaccinate all restaurant employees.
Posted in food handler, Food Hygiene, Food Micro Blog, Food Microbiology, Food Microbiology Blog, Food Pathogen, Food Safety, Food Testing, Food Virus, Hepatitis A, Uncategorized, Virus
Oyster farming is the pride of this small town in the south of Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast. But tasting the famed local delicacy may not be a good idea at the moment.
Authorities have detected norovirus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, in parts of the Mali Ston bay—triggering shock and alarm among the breeders.
The traditional oyster-tasting feast in March has been canceled and fears are mounting of huge financial losses to the local community that harvests about 3 million oysters each year.
Experts are pointing their fingers at the outdated sewage system in the area that has seen a rise in the numbers of tourists flocking to Croatia’s stunning Adriatic coast.
“I am really sorry but people themselves are to blame that something like this happened,” explained Vlado Onofri from the Institute for Marine and Coastal Research in nearby Dubrovnik. “It’s something that has to be solved in the future.”
While some stomach bugs can be eliminated with cooking, norovirus survives at relatively high temperatures.
“The problem with oysters is that they are eaten raw,” Onofri said.
Posted in food contamination, Food Hygiene, Food Inspections, Food Micro Blog, Food Microbiology, Food Microbiology Blog, Food Pathogen, food recall, Food Safety, Food Safety Alert, Food Testing, Food Virus, Norovirus, Uncategorized, Virus