News
for the month of November, 2014

Firm sentenced after workerís leg injured by chainsaw

3rd of November 2014

An East Kilbride firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker was injured when a chainsaw hit him on the leg as he slipped while felling trees.  

Hugh Dorricot, then aged 26, was not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and was not adequately trained to use a chainsaw when the incident took place at Gartsherrie Burn, near Gartsherrie Road, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on 9 March 2010.

Airdrie Sheriff Court was told yesterday (15 October) that Mr Dorricott was working for Enviroclean (Scotland) Ltd to clear vegetation and trees from an embankment beside Gartsherrie Burn, which sloped at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. As he began to fell one of the trees, Mr Dorricott felt the ground move away from beneath his feet causing him to fall backwards and start sliding down the embankment. As he fell, the moving chainsaw cut through his trousers and into his lower left leg.

He was taken to hospital with a deep cut near his knee and underwent an operation to repair the wound. He has since recovered and returned to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a risk assessment produced by Enviroclean for using a chainsaw stated that all employees must be properly instructed, trained and supervised, and that personal protective equipment, including chainmail leggings, must be worn.

However, HSE Inspectors discovered that at the time of the incident no employees of the company were certified as competent to use a chainsaw, and that Mr Dorricott was not wearing adequate personal protective equipment. In addition, he was not made aware of the risks involved in carrying out the job.

Enviroclean (Scotland) Ltd, of Hawbank Road, East Kilbride, was fined £7,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Jennie Stafford, said:

“Hand-held chainsaws are dangerous machines which must be handled with the greatest care. That is why it is a legal requirement to ensure that users are adequately trained by a competent person.

“It is clear this incident could have been avoided had Enviroclean (Scotland) Ltd taken reasonably practicable steps – ensuring that only trained and competent users were allowed to operate the chainsaw; discussing the risk assessment with workers, clarifying the system of work and enforcing the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment.

“However, the company failed to do this and instead, Mr Dorricott suffered a painful injury.”

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Good oleí timey science-off: whatís the best way to wash hands, do sanitizers have a role?

3rd of November 2014

Science is about a world–view of a topic and providing the data to back up that view.

Biology is especially messy.

International handwashing day was October 15, but I was busy making a mess.

In Australia, the feds have a nice poster and how paper towel is to be used to dry hands, and I’ve never been in a Western country that has more hand driers than paper towel dispensaries.

Proper handwashing requires proper tools.

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Does your food safety training centre use hot air driers? If so is it time to set an example?

3rd of November 2014

Perhaps it is time to think again! In 2012 the Mayo Foundation published on-line research to show that a study of twelve papers of effective handwashing identified from a hygiene point of view that paper towels are superior to electric air driers. Although, some of the papers did point out that a combination of hot air and use of paper towels together may be effective.

If you have hot air driers - how hot is the air and how long do they take to reach that temperature before the user gets bored and starts to wipe wet hands on their clothing?

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22 years later E. coli O157 victim still feels the effects daily

3rd of November 2014

The long term effects of foodborne illness can be as nasty as the acute symptoms. The consequences last a lifetime in certain cases. According to The Press and Journal an Aberdeenshire woman, Lois Reid has been dealing with the effects of an E. coli O157 illness since she was two.

She’s now 22 and is graduating from college.

After a kidney transplant at age six.Lois-Reid-660x496

And kidney failure again this year.

Earlier this year, in March, Lois Reid, from Old Rayne, was approaching the end of her second and final year studying legal services at the North East Scotland College when she was admitted to hospital with kidney failure.

When she was just two-years-old, Ms Reid caught e-coli which led to her having to undergo a kidney transplant at the age of six (here’s some old coverage that details the story 15 years ago -ben).

The average lifespan of a replacement kidney is between eight and 12 years and after 15, Ms Reid’s stopped working.

Tomorrow, the 22-year-old graduates from college and says she couldn’t believe it when she found out she had passed the course.

She said: “I was over the moon, and so relieved. I was so nervous to open my results because I didn’t think I would have passed.

“I phoned my mum straight away and she cried.”

Ms Reid spent six weeks in hospital as doctors tried to save her kidney.

She added: “Life is pretty busy between my dialysis, university and working part-time but I’m really glad I came to college and proud that I have achieved my HND.

It’s messed up that a healthy kid eats something that was contaminated and then deals with the effects for 20+ years, not knowing whether her kidney would be saved. That’s the kind of thing folks should be thinking about when handling food  on the farm or in the kitchen – or places in between.

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UK-wide E. coli outbreak makes 85 ill

14th of November 2014

Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are investigating the cause of a large number of E. coli cases, with a suspected link to food.

The ongoing outbreak was first declared on 20 October and has so far affected 75 people directly, with a further 10 secondary cases reported. Twenty-five people have been hospitalised.

Genetic analysis has shown the individuals have all been infected with the same E. coli strain. The majority of cases are adult but the age range of those affected is between 2 and 90.

Although PHE said there was as yet ‘no clear indication’ what linked the cases, it is not thought to be environmental. This leaves the probability that bacteria were transmitted by food products.

Leading E. coli expert Prof Hugh Pennington, who has chaired two inquiries into outbreaks, told EHN that salad products could be under suspicion.

He said: ‘I assume it is an enterohemorrhagic escherichia coli as 71 per cent of cases had bloody diarrhoea.

‘It is UK wide, including Scotland, so it is not from a local butcher or unpasteurised milk.

‘Sixty-four per cent of primary cases are women, so it is reasonable to guess that an important focus on the investigation will be on widely distributed salad products.’

Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at PHE, said: ‘Any infection with E. coli can be very serious. We have carried out initial investigations which involved interviewing some of the affected people to look for connections that link individuals in terms of the foods that they had eaten and the places they had visited in the days before they became ill.

‘This information is now being used to develop more in-depth investigations designed to identify the cause of the outbreak.’

An FSA spokesperson said: ‘The FSA is working closely with PHE and other members of the outbreak control team to identify the source of this outbreak. Investigations are on-going.’

PHE, which is leading the investigation, said there is no link to an E. coli O157 outbreak at a Lancashire nursery that has affected four children.

 

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UK food stores flock to roast-in-the-bag chickens

14th of November 2014

But it seems the days of roast chicken prepared in the distinctive way that your family has always enjoyed it may be numbered (the bird, right, was cooked to excess of 165F before serving).

Supermarkets are, according to Valerie Ellliot of the Daily Mail, urging shoppers to buy chickens in sealed ready- to-roast bags, amid fears that people are no longer able to maintain basic kitchen hygiene.

The aim is to reduce the number of campylobacter food-poisoning cases caused by handling fresh birds.

Supermarkets are increasingly promoting chickens in roast bags that are opened only after cooking. There is no human contact with raw skin and a lower risk of poultry juices spreading bugs. In most cases, they are marginally more expensive – Tesco charges £6 for a 3.3lb bagged version against £5 for a plain chicken.

Asda launched roast-in-bag flavoured chickens in September last year. Six million have been sold, and they now make up 30 per cent of all its chicken sales. A turkey crown in a bag will be on sale for Christmas.

Marks and Spencer now sells two thirds of its chickens in bags and they are also sold at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Aldi, while Morrisons and Lidl intend to introduce them.

Restaurateur Mark Hix, who specialises in British cuisine, said: ‘I don’t think people should buy chickens in bags. That removes all the pleasure of cooking. Good hygiene is not difficult.’

Good hygiene is difficult – it requires people to pay attention.

But it can be done. Just stop saying it’s simple.

Tom Parker Bowles, Mail on Sunday food critic asked, “has it really come to this? A nation so lacking in basic common sense that we’re not to be trusted to wash our own hands? A country so obsessed with ease and convenience that the birds we put in our ovens must be sanitized and shoved in a plastic bag?

“I’ve been cooking roast chicken for more than 20 years and have never once caught any nefarious bug. We all know that raw chicken is to be treated with care: separate chopping board, hands scrubbed with soap and all the rest.”

Yes, the ole’ I’ve-been-doing-it-this-way-all-my-life-and-never-got-sick line.

But people are getting sick.

A roast chicken is the cornerstone of any decent cook’s repertoire. I’m making one tonight, stuffed with 30 cloves of garlic, rosemary, sage, and other stuff, and then get to make stock for a couple of days (I’ve got a bunch of mushrooms to use, so I see a mushroom soup in the near future.

Maybe in addition to cooking food in plastic, which may have a role, there is a learning moment to talk about the prevalence of dangerous bugs and how they can best be controlled. And that involves using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, not pedantic piping hot advice. 

 

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Infant botulism risks exist with all honey, pasteurized or not

14th of November 2014

Tragic stories around infant botulism have popped up over the past couple of years and, as a dad, reading them is like a gut-punch.

In 2011, infant Amanda Zakrzewski was diagnosed with infant botulism and had to undergo 9 days of antitoxin treatment in hospital. Amanda wouldn’t eat, her eyes glassed over and she wasn’t able to suckle due to the paralysis the botulinum outgrowth caused. The result was months of rehab.Unknown-18

Also in 2011, 16-week-old Logan Douglas was temporarily blinded and paralyzed from infant botulism. He fully recovered after six months, but at one point the illness was so severe that doctors had discussed turning off life support systems as the toxin was attacking his body.

Related to infant botulism, ABC Research Laboratories blog has an interview with Chief Scientific Officer Gillian Dagan about food safety choices she makes as a food scientist. While I agree with most of what she says, she loses me at honey:

We all have fond memories of our grandparents when we were younger. Dr. Dagan remembers when her grandfather kept bees. She was fascinated by the bee hives and loved it when he would lift one of the trays and break off a piece of fresh honeycomb for her to enjoy on the spot. Now she knows better. As much as she loved that as a kid, she probably wouldn’t do that for her daughter. When she was younger she didn’t know that raw honey is a food at risk for botulism and should be pasteurized much like milk. Pasteurized honey is safe honey.

Sort of.

Clostridium botulinum spores, the stuff I’m guessing she’s worried about are tough to address in honey because they are heat-stable. Once the spores get into the digestive system of an infant, which hasn’t fully developed and has a gastric pH higher than 4.6, they can germinate and outgrow. The result is a cell that multiplies and secretes a toxin as a byproduct. The rub, for the honey industry is that consumption is a factor in almost all infant botulism cases. There is also some evidence that infant botulism may be a risk factor for SIDS.

And pasteurized vs. unpasteurized honey is no different when it comes to Clostridium botulinum spores.

According to the National Honey Board, recommended pasteurization treatments include flash pasteurization (170 °F for a few seconds) or heating at 145°F for 30 minutes.

Neither will do much to inactivate the spores. There’s really nice risk profile that the former NZ Food Safety Authority put together in 2006. The authors explicitly say: “Normal cooking temperatures would destroy vegetative cells, although these would not be expected to be present in honey in the first instance (because of the low water activity -ben). Commercially available honey may be pasteurised but this process is not sufficient to destroy the spores.”

I’m not sure if Dr. Dagan was worried about Salmonella that the industry standard wouldn’t do much for the stressed vegetative cells either (there’s a pretty good literature around low water activity and heat resistance , especially with a dry heat).

Honey is pasteurized for other reasons, but it really doesn’t do anything to reduce the risk of infant botulism. That’s why the industry and health authorities suggest that infants not be fed any honey, pasteurized or not, until after their first birthday.

 

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Son recalls how eating raw cookie dough led to one mom's death

22nd of November 2014

Richard Simpson, of Las Vegas, recounted his mom's painful battle with E. coli today at an FDA hearing about stricter regulations on food production.

Linda Rivera died last summer, four years after she ate a few spoonfuls of prepackaged cookie dough that was later found to be contaminated with a dangerous strain of E. coli. First, her kidneys stopped functioning and she went into septic shock. Over the years, she became sicker as more organs failed and she was in and out of the hospital for operations.

"There were moments of hope -- and of despair," Simpson, 22, said today. "She fought very hard. We knew she didn't want to give up."

Rivera died in July 2013 from medical complications that appeared to stem from the E. coli she was infected with years earlier, her son said.

"Eventually, her body just couldn't take it," said Bill Marler, Rivera's friend and the attorney who handled her claim against Nestle, which manufactured the contaminated cookie dough in 2009.

"She was probably the most severely injured E. coli victim I have ever seen," he added. "She suffered brain injury. She had quite a large section of her large intestines removed. She suffered so many infections while hospitalized it was incredible. She was on a ventilator for several months in a coma. She was a very sick lady."

Through it all, Rivera's family and Marler said, she remained strong.

"I remember the first time I met Linda, she was vomiting and retching and she was really sick, but she would apologize -- 'I am so sorry, please sit down, do you need anything to drink?'" Marler said. "That's just the way she was. She was just the most graceful, caring person you can ever meet."

Simpson, who recently got married, said he's fighting for stricter food regulations so another son doesn't have to testify about his mother's eventual death after she ate contaminated food.

Nestle recalled its pre-made Toll House cookie dough in 2009 after dozens of E. coli illnesses were reported.

Rivera's claim against the company was settled for an undisclosed amount, Marler said.

In a statement, Nestle said, "The fact that our product was implicated in Linda Rivera’s 2009 illness and tragic passing was obviously of grave concern to all of us at Nestle. Since then, we have implemented more stringent testing and inspection of raw materials and finished product to ensure the product meets our high quality standards. In addition, we have switched to using heat-treated flour to further enhance safety. We continue to emphasize that the cookie dough should be consumed only after baking and not eaten raw."

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Steve Naldrett, director of Ardan Training also added "this shows that e coli can be a horrible organism. This story shows how long term illness can result from a bout of food bourne disease. Ecoli 0157 is also a low dose pathogen and as such small amounts can make you very ill.

 

Food handlers should be trained to ensure they realise the consequences and the actions that they are required to take to ensure the food they prepare is safe. Training alone is not adequate food premises must promote a positive food safety culture"

Donít leave cooked rice out overnight

22nd of November 2014

I never order rice when I’m out.  When I make rice, it’s into the refrigerator reasonably fast. But lots of people leave it out overnight and that’s the problem.

According to a national Newspoll survey, commissioned for Australian Food Safety Week, 22% of Australians think it is ok to leave cooked rice out of the refrigerator for up to 6 hours or overnight - or even that it doesn’t need refrigerating at all.

Dr Michael Eyles, Food Safety Information Council Chair, said that many consumers consider that cooked rice is a low risk for food poisoning and can safely be left on the benchtop if the fridge is too full.

‘This just isn’t true. Spores from the bacteria Bacillus cereus can survive the cooking process and once the rice begins to cool, they can grow and form a heat resistant toxin. This toxin is not destroyed by further reheating, with only very small amounts needed to make you sick.’ Dr Eyles said.

‘In contrast it was pleasing to see people surveyed were much more aware that raw egg mayonnaise and chicken dishes were a high risk for food poisoning as only 4% thought it ok to leave those products unrefrigerated for up to 6 hours or overnight. But even 4% of consumers taking this risky behavior adds to the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year.

The 2014 Newpoll survey was conducted nationally, over the phone, among 1252 respondents aged 18 years and over.

Effect of temperatures on the growth, toxin production, and heat resistance of Bacillus cereus in cooked rice

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease:

Bacillus cereus is capable of producing enterotoxin and emetic toxin, and Bacillus foodborne illnesses occur due to the consumption of food contaminated with endospores. The objectives of this study were to investigate the growth and toxin production of B. cereus in cooked rice and to determine the effect of temperature on toxin destruction. Cooked rice inoculated with B. cereus was stored at 15, 25, 35, and 45°C or treated at 80, 90, and 100°C. The results indicated that emetic toxin was produced faster than enterotoxin (which was not detected below 15°C) at all the storage temperatures (15–45°C) during the first 72 h. Emetic toxin persisted at 100°C for 2 h, although enterotoxin was easily to be destroyed by this treatment within 15 min. In addition, B. cereus in cooked rice stored at a warm temperature for a period was not inactivated due to survival of the thermostable endospores. These data indicate that the contaminated cooked rice with B. cereus might present a potential risk to consumers. Results from this study may help enhance the safety of such food, and provide valuable and reliable information for risk assessment and management, associated with the problem of B. cereus in cooked rice. 

 

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Steve Naldrett, director of Ardan Training added “this situation is mirrored in many of the courses that I run. This demonstrates the need or food handlers to be trained.”