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  • MarinaMoon 3:30 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Animal, cloned meat, Cloning, Europe, meat   

    (Meat) European parliament votes to ban cloning of farm animals 

    What is your opinion on human cloning? Have you ever thought about having another identical self? Not only the surface but genetically identical? To certain extent, many would feel leery even thinking about it.

    Then what are your opinions on animal cloning of animals? Unlike human cloning, there seems to be distinct split opinions between different countries. Some countries suggest a positive perspective toward the idea of cloning animals for meat productions. In 2008, FDA has ultimately concluded that meat from cloned animals and offspring of clones are safe to be consumed by consumers. They added that it is as safe as those foods from conventionally bred animals. Since then, products of cloned animals, which include cow, goat and pig, are allowed to be sold in the market without any labelling that differentiate cloned animals from conventionally bred ones.Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.10.41 PM

    How did this issue on cloned animals arise in the first place?

    The history of cloning started with a female domestic sheep named Dolly in Scotland in 1996. Cloning of animals is a technique that involves use of adult somatic cell by replacing the nucleus of unfertilized ovum to nucleus of the somatic cell and produces an embryo. After its first introduction from Scotland, cloning of animals has been studied and practiced ever since.

    Ironically, in 8th of September 2015, the European Parliament voted to ban animal cloning completely including all farm animals, their descendants, and products derived from them that include imported products into the Europe. With issues regarding animal welfare and ethical considerations, the European Parliament has decided to fully ban the practice of cloning animals. In addition, despite FDA’s claim that cloned animals are safe to consume by human, there are several concerns associated with consumption of cloned animals. Cloned animals tend to have problem delivering live young and produce lameness and in order to overcome this issue, they are treated with hormones and antibiotics. With consumption of these heavily dosed cloned animals, number of health risk may arise such as allergenicity, development of antimicrobial resistant microbes, toxicity, carcinogenicity and much more. To add to this notion, European Food Safety Authority has stated that there are still uncertainties in the risk from the lack of studies and evidence available for information on safety of cloned animals except cattles and pigs.

    WiScreen Shot 2015-12-02 at 2.09.54 PMth two very different opinions toward consumption of animals from North America and Europe, it is hard to choose which studies are true. The controversy of having cloned animals for meat production and other consumption is still unresolved as no one possess enough evidence to fully back up their opinions.

    How do you feel about animal cloning now? Did this persuade to change your mind to be against cloned animals or not?

    Let me know on the comments below!



    Main article for this blog:  E.U parliament votes to ban cloning of farm animals.. Retrieved on Nov 25th, 2015 from http://news.sciencemag.org/europe/2015/09/e-u-parliament-votes-ban-cloning-farm-animals

    Are We Eating Cloned Meat? Retreived on Nov 28th, 2015 from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-we-eating-cloned-meat/

    Center for Food Safety. Retrieved on Nov 28th, 2015 from http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/302/animal-cloning/about-cloned-animals#

    European Food Safety Authority. Retrieved on Nov 28th 2015 from http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/cloning

    European Parliament News. Retrieved on Nov 29th, 2015: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20150617IPR67269/html/Ban-not-just-animal-cloning-but-cloned-food-feed-and-imports-too-say-MEPs

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on Nov 25th, 2015 from http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AnimalCloning/

    • csontani 9:41 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not necessarily against animal cloning but I wouldn’t want to eat meat from cloned animals. It is still so strange for me cause it just seems like it’s not real meat. Plus, we don’t even know what illness it can cause and what other side effects are there. It might potentially be a good idea in the future when earth’s population increased significantly and there’s less food source but I think that they should only do that once they’re certain that cloned meats are perfectly safe and if they can process it with less additives and hormones.

    • cvalencia 10:38 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What is the primary purspose of cloning animals? I think that it shouldn’t be done unless there is a great benefit that outweighs the risk of having adverse consequences to human health (if they are for consumption).. I wouldn’t eat meat and any products from cloned animals, just because of the uncertainty that goes along with it.

    • BarbaraCorreiaFaustino 12:50 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That was a very thought-provoking article! I agree with the above comment, that I wouldn’t want to eat meat from cloned animals because of the uncertainty of whether consuming it might lead to health consequences. I believe that there should many more studies to determine if the consumption of this kind of product is really safe, so that we can form a more informed opinion about this issue.

    • KristinaRichmond 7:45 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It seems like there are a lot of ethical and safety issues that need to be explored further in this case. This is a very interesting article though, and with ever increasing technology it makes me wonder about what food production will be like in the future. I know there are things like lab grown burgers being developed. However, I think cost would be a huge consideration, as I imagine the lab techniques could be quite expensive.

    • Jasmine Lee 2:57 am on December 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I support Europe’s decision to completely ban cloning of farm animals for meat consumption. There needs to be more research studies, i.e. randomized control trials, on the potential complications. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of studies, which indicate a strong association between food choices and human health. Aside from the nutrients in the meat, microRNAs, which are non-protein-coding RNAs, are present in animal tissues. From my FNH 451 research project last year, several articles have claimed that specific microRNAs may be correlated with altering the gene expression of certain regulatory proteins, which will affect disease development in humans. Hence, frequent consumption of cloned foods with certain levels of microRNAs may potentially and negatively expose individuals to the progression of particular diseases.

    • RainShen 9:19 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is a interesting post! I never know that cloned animals for meat consumption is allowed in North America. For me the meat from cloned animals is like those GMO products we have in the market now. I do not know if they are safe or unsafe, since it is still a debatable issue in food industry, but it has to be clearly labelled on the food products to let the customers know. The meat from cloned animals sold in the market without any labelling that differentiate cloned animals from conventionally bred ones is not acceptable for me. As mentioned in the post, they are treated with hormones and antibiotics, so by consuming the meat it may cause antimicrobial resistance, toxicity, and carcinogenicity for the consumers. With that many potential dangers, it should be labelled “cloned animal” to notify customers that consumption of the meat may take some level of risk, since the research is still ongoing.

    • yichen25 2:17 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is such an interesting post. I never thought that animal cloning could be applied in food production. I am pretty sure that this idea will not be acceptable by the majority as there are many ethical and safety aspects to be considered. Firstly, cloning an animal requires complicated genetic modification procedures and as far as I have known, there is a potential for mutation and/or unstable consequences leading to that. Also, there are not many scientific evidences that have proven the safety aspects of the consumption of cloned animals and the side effects of consuming cloned animals are still fairly unknown. Therefore, more research should be done on the safety aspects on the consumption of the cloned animals before authorizing this practice.

    • JorgeMadrigalPons 10:15 pm on December 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I personally don’t think there is much benefit in cloning animals for meat consumption, considering that it involves very complicated procedures, but I do not disagree with it. For meat production, it should be better to just clone a specific tissue (Tissue culture engineering), it is much more efficient than cloning the whole body to just kill it after. Cultured meat has a great potential to improve the nutritional quality and safety of the product, since it can be manipulated in vitro. Also, there is no need to kill animals.

    • EmilyChow 2:17 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! I can’t believe that the meat sold in North American supermarkets now could be from a cloned animal. Since this was FDA approved back in 2008, there must be an exponential number of offspring from breeding of the original clones. Who knows how much of the meat nowadays are from a cloned animal? I think cloning is a major scientific field of research and this concept can potentially solve the food scarcity issues; however, there is concern due to the lack of scientific studies and evidence. There could be dangers of consuming cloned meat that we are yet to be aware of. Although the concept of cloning is controversial, it is also innovative. With more research and evidence in this field to confirm its safety, I believe cloning could give rise to solutions for many food-related issues in the future.

    • CandiceZheng 3:12 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting topic! Cloning animals, like all the genetically modified food commodities in the market, are of great concern currently. I believe there are certainly benefits of using the gene techniques such as keeping the beneficial traits while reducing the possibility of the bad traits to produce animals and plants that would bring more health and economic benefits to human being. In this way our food products would be cheaper and more affordable for the general population. However, there are definitely lots of concerns regarding genetically engineered products, too. Although FDA has claimed that meat from cloned animals and offspring of clones are safe to be consumed by consumers; that genetically modified salmon is as safe to eat as non-GE salmon (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm472487.htm), there might still be some undiscovered adverse health effect that we don’t know yet.

  • Susanna Ko 11:17 pm on November 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: barfblog, Europe, , , ,   

    Recall of Potato Products Due To Small Metal Fragments 

    From May 8th to May 12th, several large UK retailers issued a recall for over 50 potato salads, coleslaws, and ready-to-eat meals. Retailers affected included Sainsbury, Waitrose, Morrison’s and Tesco. To give you a scale of the impact of this recall, Sainsbury is UK’s second largest retailer, and Tesco is one of the world’s biggest retailers. The recall affected multiple brands of the nationwide retailers, and is found in over 43 ready-to-eat savoury pies and quick meals, and at least 6 potato salads.

    The cause of the recall? Small pieces of metal were found in the potato products, and originated from a single supplier. Further investigation identified that a piece of the equipment broke during processing, resulting in metal fragments possibly being dislodged.

    To give you an idea of how scary this is, here is a picture of an affected product:

    Look familiar? You may have grabbed something similar to this to eat on the go from the grocery store. The products affected by this recall are ready-to-eat convenient meals. People choose this product as a quick and easy meal option. I know that I eat quick meals while I multitask with homework, and I may not be paying attention to what is hidden inside of it. Plus, convenient pre-packaged potato salads could be a popular item to bring to family potlucks or work lunches…. kind of scary, isn’t it?

    But they’re just small metal fragments, what’s the worst that can happen? Well, further explanation of the risks associated with the metal pieces could not be found on the UK Food Standards Agency or in the recall notice. Which is a shame, because somebody could swallow the fragment and mistakenly believe it to contribute to their daily intake of minerals. Small metal fragments can cause lacerations and internal injuries to the mouth, gastrointestinal system, and internal organs. Ouch!

    An article from Food Safety Magazine stated that metal fragments are considered as “hazardous extraneous material” under Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (or HACCP for short). We all know just how important HACCP is in the prevention of food safety hazards. But why wasn’t metal detection a critical control point during the processing of the potatoes? Not to be critical or anything, but isn’t preventative maintenance part of a certain prerequisite program of HACCP?

    I know what I’m going to be more careful with now. A news article from Daily Mail (which is a popular UK online magazine) reported that product was still found on the shelves of Tesco during the weekend. The recall was announced on a Friday. Seems like there was some mis-communication.

    Or do what the comments say (in the Daily Mail news article) and just make your own potato salad.

    Daily Mail. 2015. Still on Tesco’s Shelves… potato salads recalled in metal fragments Scare: Safety row erupts as food containing stainless steel is left for customers to buy after warnings of recall are missed. Available from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3075221/Still-Tesco-s-shelves-potato-salads-recalled-metal-fragments-scare-Safety-row-erupts-food-containing-stainless-steel-left-customers-buy-warnings-recall-missed.html#comments. Accessed 2015 November 25.

    Food Standards Agency. 2015. Potato Products Recall. Available from http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2015/13955/potato-products-recall. Accessed 2015 November 25.

    Food Safety Magazine. 2003. The Dirty Dozen: Ways to Reduce the 12 Biggest Foreign Materials Problems. Available from
    http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/aprilmay-2003/the-dirty-dozen-ways-to-reduce-the-12-biggest-foreign-materials-problems/. Accessed 2015 November 25.

    • wen liao 3:52 pm on November 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      HAHA I like the last sentence, which usually solves most of the problems. As it is in most of the cases, we learn from the mistakes. I wonder what caused the metals to remain in prepared food. I am wondering about the side effects of ingesting these small metal fragments. In addition, as there is no metal detector available for potato products processing line, how did they find out the metals in the first place?

    • laurenrappaport 1:46 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article Susanna! It was a very interesting read but also very concerning. I lived in the UK for 6 months, and shopped at some of the mentioned grocery stores all the time! Its especially concerning as some of these food products are given to kids for lunches or snacks and they are less likely to identify the metal fragments in their foods. Metal detection during production should be implemented to ensure this sort of issue does not happen again. In addition, equipment maintenance should be a key part of the quality assurance program which would have prevented this issue in the first place.

    • dgozali 3:43 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I like how you related this to what we learned in FNH 403 about the HACCP plans and CCPS. this shows the importance of having a good HACCP plan in place as any step that was overlooked can cause a really big impact if something goes wrong. There was probably no metal detection system in place to check the final product, or maybe the metal detector was faulty and was not fixed by the employees.

    • Silvia Low 3:36 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is disturbing. What affects me the most is that the metal fragments were found in children’s food. I feel that anything that goes near children should be handled with extra care and be more diligently inspected prior to distribution just because these are children! But it is nice to hear that no one was harmed (for now at least).

    • cvalencia 5:17 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What an eye opener! I wonder how they detected the small metals inside the packages though? was it because someone actually tasted it or saw it when they opened the product? It is also very dangerous to the consumer, and to think that it is also marketed more towards the kids, rather than the adults, is even more concerning. This company definitely needs to re-evaluate their food processes in their facility to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

    • meggyli 11:56 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This article is very much like the frozen pizza assignment some of us did for FNH 403 as a way too look at successful HACCP Programs and the hazards involved in food production. There may have been many ways in which the metal fragments remained in the final packaged and distributed products, for example, the metal detection wand was broken at the food plant, or it was the result of a careless quality control practitioner. Either way, I think the company needs to revisit their HACCP Plan and find the cause of the problem ASAP. This also goes to show that these things really do happen in the real world, and it is also important for consumers to properly check their shopping cart before purchasing, and to properly check their food containers before consuming.

    • AngeliMalimban 10:00 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting stuff Susanna! Like Lauren said, this stuff is given to kids, especially since potato salad is very soft and easy to swallow/digest for kids. I noticed that whenever my aunts or uncles give food to my little cousins, they always chop it up for them to prevent them from making a mess by cutting it themselves. That would probably be a great way to detect huge metal fragments in food… but since this is potato salad, that is not the case. And as for HACCP – I agree with Meggy and I hope that they actually do revisit their HACCP plan to find out who or what could be responsible in this case. This goes to show that even with HACCP in place, there are still such little things that can go unnoticed…

    • Ya Gao 10:42 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I read the label in the article carefully and saw it is a kid’s meal. The recall is especially important for vulnerable people like kids. They are less likely to notice those hazardous extraneous material when they are eating and ingesting small metal fragment can cause fatal consequence. Since this recall is a huge one. I believe this supplier to be huge as well with massive production every day. It is curtail for a HACCP plan to be in place and actually work. A metal detector is definitely a CCP that the company needs to work on immediately.

  • Stephanie Chen 11:37 am on November 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Europe, , , ,   

    Listeria Seizes the Oppor-tuna-ty! Denmark investigates outbreak linked to smoked fish products 


    August 2015. Four people sickened by Listeria in fish products linked to fish company, Hjerting Laks, in Denmark. Earlier in May, five cases of Listeria with two deaths were detected in Denmark. Two out of the five were of the same strain of Listeria that caused 40 cases and 16 deaths in deli meats in 2014. Although the current outbreak is not linked to the one last year, one of the five in May was traced back to Hjerting Laks.

    Unique culprit. While all tested samples did not reveal to have Listeria above the accepted limit, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) found that Listeria isolates from the patients and samples taken from the company’s production area, equipment, and official food samples gave a DNA match after whole genome sequencing. The Listeria monocytogenes ST6 sequence pattern specific to this outbreak has not been detected in samples from other sources.

    Suspect: smoked fish. The source of infection in exact products has not been confirmed by the DVFA, but smoked salmon was suspected due to patients’ common consumption prior to illness. An outbreak of Listeria connected to Hjerting Laks was related to smoked halibut in November 2014, after which changes in the production processes were made. Hjerting Laks states that the bacteria from the current outbreak may have originated from raw materials supplied by sub-contractor.

    “We have ordered the company to change its routines with regards to production and own-check scheme,” says Annette Perge, head of unit in the DVFA. “Tightened supervision” has been placed on the company, and DVFA has advised customers to discard related fish products or return them to the place of purchase.

    Listeria monocytogenes. A gram positive, facultative anaerobic bacterial species capable of causing infections that may lead to symptoms of fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Populations including those with compromised immune responses due to age, pregnancy, and disease are typically at higher risk for listeriosis, with possible deadly effects on fetus and newborn infants. The primary route of transmission for this pathogen is through food, and especially in ready-to-eat foods that support bacterial growth of L. monocytogenes.

    But smoked fish? Yes, smoked fish. Smoked seafood including salmon, trout, tuna, oysters, etc., are manufactured in two primary forms: cold-smoked and hot-smoked product. Typical temperatures used for cold-smoking (22-28°C) are inadequate to inactivate L. monocytogenes, but levels of the pathogen present on raw salted fish are usually reduced by 90-99% during the cold-smoking steps of salting, drying, and smoking. Hot-smoking involves initial drying at 30-40°C, then smoking at 60-70°C followed by a second drying procedure. However, products may be contaminated after both cold and heat treatment in the processing environment while products are sliced and vacuum packaged. It also doesn’t help that Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures and is relative resistant to heating, acidic and high salt environments, as well as other inhibitory compounds used on foodborne microorganisms.


    See diagram. Production process has multiple opportunities for contamination. (Where else do you see places for Listeria to sneak in?)


    Recommendations for persons at high risk (weakened immune system) from the CDC:

    • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish (e.g. casserole)
    • Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” (These are typically found in the refrigerator section or sold at seafood and deli counters in grocery stores)
    • Canned and shelf stable tuna, salmon, and other fish products are safe to eat

    Reduce risk for listeriosis from smoked fish by… Using ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible (product’s shelf-life shortens upon opening the packing). And remember to practice good hygiene in the kitchen!


    News sources:

    Listeria traced to Hjerting Laks despite fish products passing tests. (Aug 2015). http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Outbreaks/Denmark-investigates-four-Listeria-cases-linked-to-fish-producer

    Denmark investigates new Listeria outbreak. (May 2015). http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Outbreaks/Listeria-sickens-five-and-a-factor-in-two-deaths


    Joint FAO/WHO Activities on Risk Assessment of Microbiological Hazards in Foods. Case Study: Listeria monocytogenes in Smoked Fish (including digram). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/agns/pdf/jemra/Listeria.pdf

    Report of the FAO Expert Consultation on the Trade Impact of Listeria in Fish. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x3018e/x3018e05.htm

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Whole genome sequencing. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/pdf/whole-genome-sequencing-and-listeria-508c.pdf

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for preventing Listeria poisoning. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dfwed/pdfs/tips-preventing-listeria-508c.pdf

    Image retrieved from http://www.rivertea.com/blog/7-healthy-breakfast-recipes-for-every-day-of-the-week/

    • Michelle Ebtia 1:00 pm on November 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This was a really interesting report! I do like smoked sockeye and always choose hot-smoked variety, however, after reading about the chances of cross-contamination post-production, I think I will avoid consuming them prior to further cooking and heating.
      Since the current measures seem to be rather ineffective, I did some research to find out about alternative methods for prevention and came across a paper that reports a novel approach in controlling the growth of Listeria spp on smoked salmon, through inoculating it with Carnobacterium maltaromaticum. The authors conclude that “the bioprotective culture C. maltaromaticum can extend the commercial shelf life of both hot and cold smoked salmon”, as it outcompetes the growth of the pathogen. However, I couldn’t find any reports of this method being put to practice by food manufacturers.

      Work Cited:
      Smith, D. (2012, July). Biopreservation: Control of Listeria monocytogenes Growth in Hot and Cold Smoked Salmon by Carnobacterium maltaromaticum CB1. In 2012 Annual Meeting. Iafp.

      • Jasmine Lee 2:02 pm on November 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I really like the clever use of wordplay in your title. It highlights the opportunistic nature of Listeria monocytogenes to persist and grow in susceptible ready-to-eat foods. Given that L. monocytogenes is ubiquitous in the environment, I am not surprised that it would appear in fish, especially smoked salmon. There are Canadian regulations which require manufacturers to ensure sufficient lethality of their treatments and inactivation of their target microorganisms. If there are deviations in these standards, then the pathogen may remain and continue to be a problem. Furthermore, the smoking process is dependent on the smoke reaching the contaminated surface. The pathogen may be embedded in the flesh of the fish, where the smoke cannot make contact. Time and temperature abuse of the raw materials may also promote bacterial survival. As beautifully illustrated in your flowchart, I agree with the multiple routes of entry and carriers which contribute to the pathogen’s survival. The food matrix may be another factor since salmon is high in lipids. Fat is known to protect L. monocytogenes, which will present another challenge to eradicating this pathogen. As a consumer, I will probably reduce the consumption of this product or research more about the company before taking smoked salmon to the checkout.

    • AngeliMalimban 2:26 pm on November 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I read a small article saying that Listeria does not normally survive the smoking process. However, it can still grow while being stored if it is done so improperly. It can grow heat-resistant endospores if it is not smoked to a high enough temperature either (source: http://foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/pdf_Files/smokingyourcatch.pdf). Smoked fish can also be found in shelf-stable storage (I commonly see these at Canadian souvenir stores) where it is ready to eat. This can also have an equal risk of contracting L. monocytogenes, but there may be a common misconception that shelf-stable foods are safer to consume and that the likelihood of disease could be less.

      I actually LOVE smoked salmon, especially when I go get sushi (where they serve smoked salmon on top of sushi). It’s pretty scary because sometimes I just see the fish wrapped at room temperature on the sushi bar… it makes me wonder if it is actually refrigerated or left out there for the whole day. This is also consumed raw – and I should probably heat/cook it instead.

    • WinnieLiao 3:58 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      First thing to point out is that your layout is easy to read and your wording is short and precise! I personally don’t like eating smoked salmon not only because of the fishy taste but also because of the salty and preservative content. The smoked salmon products I have seen in supermarkets are usually those vacuum packed. Just from looking at the product, I assume the producer processed their food by controlling water activity, using of preservatives and eliminating air. Knowing that Listeria is a relatively “resistant” bacteria that often is salt tolerant, dessication tolerant and facultative anaerobic, I can understand why it would survive so well in smoky salmon! Also another issue that comes to my mind, is that some First Nations people make their own homemade smoked salmon, which can be a possible food safety concern.

    • CindyDai 12:24 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree what Winnie has said. There are a lot of other safety hurdles used in smoked fish industry to suppress pathogen growth. Lowering water activity, adding preservatives and vacuum packaging are all examples of other hurdles used. Since Listeria has high adaptation to tough environments, only multiple hurdles used simultaneously could ensure the effectiveness. However, as learned in lectures, sub-lethal treatments could cause increased resistance to other safety treatments, so the combination of safety hurdles must be well planned and proved by scientific test results.

    • Ya Gao 11:46 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The traditional preservation method, smoking, may not be safe for food processing if the raw material or the procedure after food processing is problematic. I love smoked salmon from deli area in Costco a lot personally. Although I cook them occasionally, I prefer eating them raw right away from the package. I will be more cautious in the future.

  • ColleenChong 10:12 pm on November 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cryptosporidium, , Europe, , ,   

    Warning: Water supply contaminated with the parasite Cryptosporidium 

    Most North Americans and Europeans consume fresh tap water daily without any concern. These developed countries have advance filter systems, implemented chlorine treatments and/or radiation treatments; such as ultraviolet light to kill pathogens. Since the water supply is treated many would believe the source is safe. Is that always true?


    This past August the water supply of several Lancashire districts in England (Blackpool, Preston, Chorley, Fylde, Wyre and South Ribble) was contaminated with an infectious parasite, Cryptosporidium. About 300,000 Lancashire households were put on alert. This parasite causes the disease cryptosporidiosis, which includes symptoms stomach cramping, dehydration, vomiting, nausea, and weight-loss. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. These symptoms may appear after 2 days and last up to 30 days after infection. Chronic or fatal illness maybe develop in susceptible population; which includes immunocompromised, young children, and the elderly.

    This parasite is a concern when it comes to the consumption of tap water because it is extremely resistant to chlorine, therefore; the chlorinated treatments have little effect on the parasite. The water company United Utilities advised everyone to boil their water before consumption.

    Due this parasitic discovery panic was all over. A local mentioned, “This water thing in Blackpool is a nightmare just went to the corner shop and they were on the last few bottles!” Major supermarkets were running short bottled water since “nobody can drink the water in Blackpool because it’s contaminated and now there’s no water left in any shops.” With the high demand of water and the short supply, people were selling water on the internet for ridiculously high prices.

    Water shortage in Supermarkets

    United Utilises reassured the public that they were monitoring Cryptosporidium levels carefully through continuous testing. Only trace amounts remain in the source after the first week of August, United Utilities issued boiled water notice until mid-August.

    This is a rare occurrence. In 2005 an outbreak of cryptosporidium affected 231people in North Wales and the Cymrus Welsh Water was fined £60,000 and spent another £70,000 to compensate the affected individuals. As for the cryptosporidium contamination from August there were no confirm cases of sickness. An outbreak was avoided due to the quick action United Utilities took.

    Here’s a Brief video for your interest!

    Sources of contamination (fecal-oral route):
    • Animal waste
    • Water sources

    • Boil water
    • Proper hygiene
    • Wash hands

    • No specific drug to kill organism
    • diarrheal medicine may help slow down diarrhea
    • Consume lots of water

    What is your opinion on drinking tap water? Do you boil or treat your water?


    • yichen25 12:46 am on November 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Growing up in Malaysia where we don’t have the privilege to drinkable tap water, it has been a practice for us to boil our water before drinking. Even after coming to Canada, I still continue to do so. I personally think that even with the advanced filtering systems and treatments, there is still the possibility of post-treatment contamination as the pipes that carried the water to household might be contaminated. Therefore, I strongly believe that boiling yr water before drinking is the best way to avoid being contracted with any unwanted diseases.

    • MarinaMoon 3:00 am on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Similar to Yichen, back in Korea we always boiled our water before drinking because the tap water was not safe to drink. However, for me, after coming to Canada, I adapted a habit of drinking from tap water especially since I started living by myself. I never doubted that there could be a contamination in something that I consume everyday, but now I realized that I should be more concerned about what I consume and although it is still safe in Canada, to boil the water before drinking. It’s scary how there seems to be increase in pathogens that are resistant to so many sanitation practices. This particular pathogen only cause mild symptoms which is relieving, but I wonder what would happen when something more resistant and more pathogenic appear in food product or water that we consume everyday. In the future, there could be pathogens that arise which is resistant to chlorine and heat, which would further complicate the prevention process.

    • catherine wong 10:42 pm on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This was an extremely interesting article. At home I always boil my water before drinking it because I’ve heard about tap water being unsafe to drink sometimes. However when I’m out in the public and didn’t bring enough boiled water from home, I do sometimes drink tap water. I also agreed with Yichen that full trust cannot be placed in advanced filter systems and treatments due to the possibility of post-treatment contamination and there could always be the chance of these systems failing. Sometimes just a flaw in the system could cause great problems and it was just nice to know that there were no confirm cases of sickness for this occurrence. After reading this article, I think I might refrain from tap water even if I’m a little thirsty because it doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of getting sick.

    • elaine chan 3:01 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely an interesting article! Water intake is an essential element for human survival, so with an incident like this occurring, it is no surprise that it has caused a panic across the region. I feel rather grateful that I’m living in an area where water filtration systems are present, and the water is safe for consumption once it’s deposited from our taps. However, like Yichen mentioned, at times, there can be flaws in the water filter and treatment systems. Growing up, my family has always had the practice of boiling the water from our tap prior to consumption. It has become a common practice for myself as well , and it doesn’t seem to be a bad idea implement this extra step for safety measures.

    • RainShen 4:23 pm on November 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The safety of drinking water was a big problem in the China before I came the Canada. My family definitely would boil the tape water before drink to make sure all the pathogens have been killed and the water is safe to consume. I know some households in China they do have their own water filter system at home for filtering and de-contaminating their drink water, since the tap water would not only contains some pathogens, but also some heavy metal ions. Therefore, wherever I go, I will boil the tap water if I wanna drink it. Even through the water treatment system here in Canada is very efficient, it may still get contaminated after the treatment before consumed by human.

    • amreenj 1:39 pm on November 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! It is so scary to think that this contamination of drinking water occurred despite the precautionary measures in place to prevent such things from occurring. Having lived in Vancouver all my life, I hadn’t though about this ever occurring. However, I have travelled to a number of countries in which the problem of contaminated drinking water does frequently occur. I think that the quick action taken by the water company prevented a major outbreak of this chronic/ fatal disease. I think that this case serves as a reminder that we must still be aware of the potential for contamination in “safe” drinking water and that water companies should continue to ensure that their water is in fact properly sterilized.

    • JorgeMadrigalPons 10:57 pm on November 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In Mexico, there is also big issues with drinking tap water, since it is not treated for drinking purposes. I almost never drink tap water in my country. Mostly, people buy bottled water for consumption, but many small local food businesses do not. I have heard of many outbreaks caused by the usage of tap water by ice-cream shops, taco shops, etc, (mainly food street). I think that it would be of great benefit to the health of Mexicans, if the gouverment implemented advanced water treatment systems.

    • dgozali 1:28 am on November 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! Ive always been boiling my water before I came to canada but changed my routine when i started living here. I think this is a step that is often overlooked in countries where tap water is drinkable, yet it is probably the most crucial step in preventing outbreaks because water is needed by everyone for drinking and also for washing other foods. If the water has been contaminated, it can go on to cross contaminate fruits and vegetables that are washed with it.

    • Michelle Ebtia 11:13 am on November 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was initially surprised to learn that there are no effective treatments for patients infected with this parasite! So I did a quick research and found out that there is a moderately effective drug called nitazoxanide available for treatment. However more research needs to be done to come up with an effective option, which according to Miyamoto and Eckmann (2015), has not occurred due to insufficient funding, mainly because historically, this problem has only existed in developing countries. Since the case reported in this blog has happened in England, one might wonder if the research would now gain some momentum.

      Work Cited:
      Eckmann, L. (2015). Drug development against the major diarrhea-causing parasites of the small intestine, Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6, 1208.

    • Mandy Tam 9:23 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think chlorine is the major hurdle that most countries have in their water to eliminate pathogen. Knowing that this might not work 100%, I think this is more scarier than Lauren’s post. I think more and more I read the blogs, I really need to reconsider my own eating habits. Maybe I should start boiling my water before consumption.

      Anyhow, I am surprised how little researches have been done on such matter after reading Michelle comment. Maybe more surveillance and research should be done in such matter as a lot of people drink water from the tab.

    • teewong 6:43 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is very interesting, especially when both occurrence happened verily close to each other. It makes me wonder if the water companies are taking every precaution to detect these sort of contaminations before it even affects the water. Also, I read from your prevention section that washing hands will help, but I was wondering with what water do we wash hands with when the tap source is contaminated already?
      This is a frightening problem to me since I live in Vancouver and we drink out of the tap 80% of the time when we visit restaurants. This could be a potential hazard for many of us if it were to happen in Vancouver as well! I can also see that companies that make bottled water will use this chance to profit from people as it would cause shortages on bottled water supplies when such thing happens.

    • MichelleLui 9:53 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! There are so many factors that could contaminate the city water, such as backflow, old pipes and etc.. Preventative measures such as putting in a reverse osmosis system and boiling water are recommended. I have a reverse osmosis system which works for me.

  • JorgeMadrigalPons 2:13 pm on November 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Berry, Europe, frozen berries, , , , , NOV   

    Virus Outbreaks in Europe linked with frozen berries. 

    In Europe, there have been recent concerns regarding consumption of frozen berries. Unfortunately, Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and norovirus have been linked with these nutritious and tasteful produce. Authorities and food industries have struggled with large and prolonged food-borne outbreaks.


    The most recent incident involving HAV and frozen berries lasted from 2013 to 2014. This outbreak began in May 2013, when Germany reported seven hepatitis A cases in travellers coming back from northern Italy. Subsequently, Italy declared the first national outbreak, and other European Union countries reported locally acquired and travel-related cases of HAV associated with the same problem, consumption of berries. From January 2013 to August 2014, 1,589 hepatitis A cases were reported linked with the frozen berry outbreak. 70 % of these cases were hospitalised for an average time of six days, and there were 2 deaths reported (Severi et al, 2015). Trace backs done by the European Food Safety Authority could not indicate a single point source of contamination (RASF, 2015). The frozen berry market in Europe is very complex, considering the produce can be distributed at different times in different countries. Although it is not fully certain, the main suspicious candidates to blame were Bulgarian blackberries and Polish redcurrants, since these were the most common ingredients in the different contaminated samples.

    Regarding norovirus and frozen berries, from 20 September through 5 October 2012, the largest recorded food-borne outbreak in Germany occurred. Norovirus was spotted as the causative agent. 390 schools and childcare facilities reported nearly 11,000 cases of gastroenteritis. All affected institutions had received strawberries of one lot, which lead to the identification of frozen strawberries from China as the most likely vehicle of infection. Thanks to the timely surveillance and epidemiological outbreak investigations of the correspondent authorities that detected the case within a week, more than half of the lot was prevented from reaching the consumers (Bernard et al, 2014).

    The occurrence of outbreaks associated with frozen berries has raised many concerns, especially with the growth in popularity of fruit-based products like smoothies, ice creams and yogurts. According to literature, in a period from 1998 to 2013, frozen berry contamination with norovirus caused 14,000 reported human cases in 70 outbreaks in six EU countries, namely Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden (Tavoschi et al, 2015). The European Food Safety Authority highlights the risk of contamination of berries, because this food commodity often receives no or minimal processing. Contamination and cross-contamination via equipment, water (irrigation and washing) and particularly via food handlers have been identified as the main risk factors (Tavoschi et al, 2015). Also, it is known that viruses like NOV and HAV, can resist freezing treatments and remain latent in the product, which make frozen berries a perfect source of contamination. Since there have been new outbreaks this year (norovirus in Sweden and hepatitis A in Australia), European authorities recommend to be careful when consuming frozen berries. They specially suggest to boil imported frozen berries for one minute before eating, especially if the food is going to be given to vulnerable people such as nursing home residents (FSAI, 2015).

    Severi, E., Verhoef, L., Thornton, L., Guzman-Herrador, B. R., Faber, M., Sundqvist, L., … & Tosti, M. E. (2015). Large and prolonged food-borne multistate hepatitis A outbreak in Europe associated with consumption of frozen berries, 2013 to 2014. Eurosurveillance 20, 29. Retrieved from: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21192

    Tavoschi, L., Severi, E., Niskanen, T., Boelaert, F., Rizzi, V., Liebana, E., … & Coulombier, D. (2015). Food-borne diseases associated with frozen berries consumption: a historical perspective, European Union, 1983 to 2013. Euro Surveill, 20, 29.

    RASFF (2015). The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, Annual Report 2014. European Commission – Health and Food Safety.

    FFSAI. (2015). Berries – Advice to boil imported frozen berries. Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Retrieved from: https://www.fsai.ie/faqs/berries_advice_to_boil_2015.html

    Bernard, H., Faber, M., Wilking, H., Haller, S., Höhle, M., Schielke, A., … & Stark, K. (2014). Large multistate outbreak of norovirus gastroenteritis associated with frozen strawberries, East Germany, 2012. Eurosurveillance, 19(8), pii-20719.

    • Jasmine Lee 5:45 pm on November 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Jorge! It is frightening that enteric viruses, specifically HAV and NOV, are highly resistant to many hurdles and common processing methods, e.g. freezing and desiccation. This is quite unfortunate and worrisome as frozen and dried fruits are versatile ingredients and widely used in many recipes. Consumers typically depend on these preserved products as not many fresh fruits are in season and they are quite expensive during the winter. I agree that boiling may be the most feasible method for viral inactivation aside from commercial sterilization. Canned fruits, sauces and fillings may serve as an alternative and safe (assuming the absence of C. botulinum) source of nutrients for vulnerable groups. Another point to note is that these outbreaks highlight the importance of adherence to proper hygiene practices from farm to fork. Therefore, do you agree that more stringent regulations should be in place for controlling enteric viruses, especially for imported goods?

    • wen liao 4:14 pm on November 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is actually a really interesting post! Usually when we think about viruses and such, we think about pandemic flus and something that is airborne. However, a large amount to GI tract related disease are largely contributed to viruses. Especially for fresh produce such as vegetables and fruits, rarely do we link them to HAV contamination and infection. Comparing to bacteria, viruses are more resistant to some environmental stresses, and they their virulence stays unchanged even after freezing or other production hurdles. I am not sure if there are some developed essays that are specific in targeting these viruses, but it should definitely considered as a big public health problem.

    • NorrisHuang 4:14 pm on November 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting! It is scary to learn about this. I am a big fan of berry smoothie but I don’t think I am gonna boil the berries before blending them up as the texture/ taste may change, and also, the smoothie may become too watery. (using canned berries may be a good idea though) I wonder if there is another way of getting rid of the viruses in addition to boiling? If not, I guess it is the most effective to prevent the virus before harvesting the berries? and also, how is the viruses regulated in North America?

    • EmilyLi 6:48 pm on November 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think this is a great story. Frozen food are processed and kept at low temperatures (at least below zero degree Celsius). With that reason, many people have the mind set that many of the microorganisms that may cause illness would not be present in the food. Like many people, I wouldn’t give a second thought about consuming my frozen fruits. I like how this instance will bring awareness that ready to eat frozen aren’t always safe for consumption either. In my opinion, consistent analysis and checking the food product for various microorganisms before the food product being release in the market would be a good solution for food companies to adopt.

    • elaine chan 2:34 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely an interesting post! As mentioned, it’s not common for consumers to associate frozen fruit products to an outbreak like this. As a Food Science student, I would also not give much thought as to how frozen fruits can be contaminated like this, as the processing procedures are relatively simple compared to other food products. I’m really glad that the surveillance and epidemiological outbreak investigation prevented another wave of outbreak from happening, and I feel that all food agencies across the globe can learn from this to prevent any sort of food break to occur. However, I do question the practicality of the advice provided by the European authorities of boiling the fruit product prior to consumption. Majority of the population consumes fruit in its raw form; thus, this advice seems rather impractical and difficult to adapt by consumers.

    • meggyli 10:28 pm on November 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Reading this post made me sad, because frozen berries are one of my favorite ingredients in a morning smoothie. 🙁 For something that is processed and stored in such a low temperature we usually don’t think about it possibly being contaminated with a pathogen. Even as a Nutrition student this is not something that would spring up in my mind when I think frozen berries. Therefore I think it is even more important for the public to be aware of such occurrences. I really enjoy the blogs on this site that highlights the outbreaks associated with uncommon foods.

    • flyingsquirrel 5:23 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As berries are heralded as the go-to fruits that taste delicious on their own and are flexible to use in many dishes, it is concerning especially for mothers as they begin to introduce solid foods to their children. It is common to mash fruits and vegetables to give to toddlers as they transition from milk to solids for benefit of taste andnutrients. However this is also a time children’s digestive and immune systems are still developing and maturing, thus they are less likely able to fight off the virus. It has been said that young children don’t always show symptoms of being infected and this may allow the spread of the virus as no one would be aware and this could also pose a problem.

  • csontani 1:13 pm on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Denmark, Europe, , ,   

    Another Visit by Listeria in Denmark 

    In May 2015, Statens Serum Institut (SSI) detected another five cases of Listeria in Denmark. The five cases showed up in one week, which makes it unusual if there was only one source. The source of the cases is still undetermined; with deli meats being the most suspected, as it is the cause of last year’s outbreak. All five people had the underlying illnesses and two have died since.


    Listeria is one of the low-key food pathogen in Denmark, but it is considered to be one of the deadliest. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declared that Listeriosis cases have increased by 8.6% between 2012 and 2013, and have been increasing for the past five years. Overall, the number of cases reported in Europe is low but the main concern would be the fact that each infection that occurred is the most severe and has the highest death rate.

    It seems that Listeria has been coming back to Denmark for the past 3 years. In September 2013, 5 people were diagnosed with Listeriosis and the case continued on until August 2014 where approximately 38 people were sickened and 15 deaths. This particular outbreak was considered to be the deadliest food pathogen outbreak in Denmark. The main cause of this outbreak was the contaminated deli meat used to prepare Rullepoelse (picture above). The company that distributed the deli meat was shut down after the source traced back to them last year, but has reopen again this year. However, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) have ruled out that company as the source of this year’s outbreak.

    SSI stated that two out of the five people infected with Listeriosis this year are infected by the same strain that caused last year’s outbreak. As of now, the SSI is still trying to trace back the source for the cases they’ve found and is trying to sample the possible food source that they could think of. They have not found any more new cases and are hoping to not have another outbreak just like last year. However, with the current number of cases, it is very difficult for them to figure out the source of Listeria.

    In order for the health agency to trace back the source of the contamination, they need an adequate amount of cases to easily determine the source. This is kind of an issue for Denmark where in one year they would only detect a small amount of cases, which they can’t use to find the source easily, and the case would continue the following year with a greater number of cases.

    It might be possible that in the near future, the department responsible for food safety can create a better sampling and detection technologies that could help them to trace the source of contamination with a small amount of cases available. With your knowledge about Listeria, what solutions would you suggest them? Would you think that better detecting and sampling technologies would make a big difference to the country? Comment below!

    Denny, J., McLauchlin, J. (2008). HUMAN LISTERIA MONOCYTOGENES INFECTIONS IN EUROPE – AN OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVED EUROPEAN SURVEILLANCE. Retrieved from: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=8082

    EFSA. (2015). Campylobacteriosis cases stable, listeriosis cases continue to rise, say EFSA and ECDC. Retrieved from: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/150128

    SSI. (2014). Listeria outbreak – suspected source: deli meats. Retrieved from: http://www.ssi.dk/English/News/News/2014/2014_08_listeria.aspx

    Whitworth, J. (2015). Denmark investigating new Listeria outbreak. Retrieved from: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Outbreaks/Listeria-sickens-five-and-a-factor-in-two-deaths

    Whitworth, J. (2014). Listeria from deli meat kills 12 in Denmark. Retrieved from: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Outbreaks/Joern-A.-Rullepoelser-closed-as-Denmark-investigates-Listeria-outbreak

    • shinnie 3:06 pm on October 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for this blog post. It is interesting to compare the mortality rates of the same pathogen from different geographical areas– the mortality rate is much lower in the U.S. and in Canada as compared to Denmark. I wonder why? Perhaps it is because our health care system is better, or maybe our surveillance of pathogen is also more developed? I am assuming they are using a case-control study to identify the source of the outbreak –and the weaknesses of this source attribution method is evident in the Denmark outbreaks.
      I feel that people in Denmark should push the notion that high-risk people should avoid eating Category 1 foods all in all, although it limits the variety of the foods someone can consume. But, better safe than sorry right? Looking at the pathogen safety data sheets from PHAC, it is so interesting to note that outbreaks from Listeria Monocytogenes were from different food types in the past! For example, from vegetable products in the early 1980s, to dairy products in the mid 1980s and early 1990s, to ready-to-eat meat and poultry products in the late 1990s to early 2000s. How did that evolve?!?!

    • dgozali 8:51 pm on November 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Perhaps one of the solutions for this problem is to have better food production practices and more routine quality checks in the processing facility. It is better to improve the prevention strategies in the production plant than to work backwards to determine the cause only after the outbreak has happened. Nevertheless, it is still important to improve on pathogen detection methods to trace the source of Listeria before more people fall ill.

    • elaine chan 1:15 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is definitely unfortunate to hear that the number of reported Listeriosis is increasing throughout the years in Denmark. What I find interesting though is that the cause of the outbreak is from the same strain of Listeria, but from different sources. This could possibly suggest that this particular strain has better survivability; hence, it’s able to survive, persist and cause subsequent outbreaks in Denmark. I agree with dgozali’s idea on focusing to better improve the prevention strategies. Rather than waiting and trying to work backwards to determine the cause, which will cost more time and more outbreaks to determine the answer, it is more practical focus on what can actually be done, prevention. It will be important for food manufacturing facilities to implement more strict sanitization and processing conditions to ensure the elimination of Listeria survival. At the same time, it will also be equally important to improve sampling and detection methods at the food production level to ensure that if Listeria is present, it can be readily detected and subsequently stop production to prevent the outbreak.

    • flyingsquirrel 5:50 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      If there were small outbreaks in two consecutive years of the same strain of Listeria, could the contamination been at a different level aside from the manufacturers? Perhaps there is something going on at the stores that sell the deli? I wonder what places they have checked for cross-contamination because if it is the same strain, there could likely be a common point of contact between all the deli meats involved.

    • Carissa Li 12:26 am on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is very surprising how Listeria is affecting Denmark compare to its influence on the US. From the outbreak investigation lecture we learnt that finding more cases is very critical since it helps us to understand more about the time frame, size and the source of contamination. I would say a better detection method will help the case a lot since it can help identify which food is being contaminated with Listeria and narrow down the suspecting food list.

  • Silvia Low 4:34 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Europe, , , ,   

    Europe: Salmonella Stanley Strikes Again! Find out why S. Stanley keeps refusing to back down. 

    SalmonellaTurkeys Stanley, as friendly as this particular strain of salmonella may sound, is no friend to the European member states at all. S.Stanley may as well be a multi-national celebrity as it has been making headlines across Europe for various food-borne outbreaks since 2011.

    After a string of salmonella outbreaks that affected 7 European states and more than 400 patients, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and other authorities finally initiated investigations on the source of the culprit strain in 2012. Evidence from the investigations led to a suggested source of turkey meat and without slowing down, the notorious S.Stanley continued to make various headlines up until 2014. Now, S.Stanley has re-emerged in clusters throughout 2015 and is taking over a new wave of Austrian turkey supply.

    Between 1 January and 8 October 2015, 141 cases of non-travel related infection with S. Stanley were identified in eight of the nine Austrian provinces. At least 36 of these cases have been traced back to turkey kebabs made with turkey meat supplied by a single retailer located in Slovakia. More trace back by National authorities indicate that the Slovakian retailer sources its turkey meat from a facility in Hungary. This same facility was linked to a S.Stanley cluster back in 2014. Furthermore, recent investigations using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) molecular typing indicate that the 2015 salmonella isolates have the same unique pattern as S.Stanley from the 2011 to 2014 outbreaks.

    So what is the secret to S.Stanley’s everlasting presence?

    Antimicrobial Resistance.

    Since the early 1990s, antimicrobial resistant salmonella strains have emerged and become serious public health concerns. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when pathogenic cases are routinely treated with antimicrobial therapy but result in not eliminating the more resistant bacteria strains. The subsequent result is resistant bacteria strains reproducing, and the antimicrobial treatment becoming ineffective.

    The same strain of Salmonella Stanley has consistently been recognized from 2011-2014 due to its pattern of resistance to nalidixic acid antibiotics. That was up until now, where the 2015 strain of S.Stanley has been identified as having low-level resistance to ciprofloxacin in addition to nalidixic acid antibiotics.

    To prevent further cases of antimicrobial resistance cases, the single most important action is to change the way antibiotics are used. Mostly, the use of antibiotics in people and animals are unnecessary especially in mild cases of infection. Treatment guidelines should be reviewed regularly while considering bacterial resistance patterns.

    Here are some simple tips to prevent Salmonella from spreading in your home:

    • Clean surfaces regularly and wash your hands often especially after coming into contact with animals and animal products.
    • Separate raw and cooked, ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross contamination.
    • Cook food to the right temperature. Checking the colour and texture of meat is not enough to ensure it is safe. Instead, use a food thermometer to check internal food temperatures.
    • Refrigerate foods below 4°C. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours and even quicker during the summer.


    Works Cited

    CDC. (2014). Antibiotic Resistance and Food Safety. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/antibiotic-resistance.html

    CDC. (2015). About Antimicrobial Resistance. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html

    ECDC. (2015). CDTR Week 41, 4-10 October 2015. . COMMUNICABLE DISEASE THREATS REPORT. Available at: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications/Publications/communicable-disease-threats-report-10-oct-2015.pdf

    Whitworth, J. (13 October 2015). New Cases reported in multi-year, multi-country Salmonella outbreak. Food Quality News. Available at: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Outbreaks/Turkey-production-chain-at-centre-of-Salmonella-concerns

    WHO. (2013). Salmonella (non-typhoidal). Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs139/en/

    WHO. (2015). Antimicrobial resistance. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs194/en/

    • ayra casuga 9:57 am on October 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting and intriguing blog! I found it very interesting to see recent real-world cases of antimicrobial resistance playing a large role in the prevalence of food-borne illnesses. I was surprised that the same strain managed to make its way to Australia considering that the outbreaks mostly occurred in Europe. Especially since these Australian outbreaks were non-travel related. Perhaps it was though some sort of international trade or shipment of these products. After reading this blog, I was wondering if the EU are going to add an extra antimicrobial (ciprofloxacin) into their food supply since S. Stanley is resistant to nalidixic acid? If so, wouldn’t that cause an emergence of another, possibly more infective, strain of Salmonella that would be resistant to the new antimicrobial?

    • EmilyChow 7:06 pm on October 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Nice post! It’s interesting to see that just one strain of salmonella could have such a lasting impact in one particular part of Europe. Since it’s emergence in 2011, it’s amazing how S. stanley had continuously been responsible for so many outbreaks. Because the last outbreak was specific to one place, Austria, and also to one source, turkey, it makes me wonder how the food safety regulations are implemented in Europe. Over 9 months in 2015 is quite a period of long time. Are the warnings and regulations the same in Europe as they are here? Perhaps this continuous emergence of salmonella is not only attributed to antimicrobial resistance but also due to how the meat is handled?

    • Michelle Ebtia 11:59 pm on November 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very well written, nicely organized blog!
      As mentioned in the report, the single most important factor that needs to be taken into account while discussing antibiotic (AB) resistance is its use in animals and people. However, as more than 80% of all AB used in the US are fed to farm animals (Levy et al. 1976), the most effective way of controlling the emergence of AB resistant strains of pathogens can be limiting their use in animal farming.
      A very promising corrective measure that has taken place recently, is FDA’s initiative in banning/limiting the use of such drugs as growth promoters in farming practices. According to Kuehn (2014), AB’s that are currently prescribed for treating bacterial infections in humans, can no longer be administered to animals, without the supervision of veterinarians, and the manufacturers of the drug are also required to mention in their labeling that the use of their product as growth enhancer is illegal. I really hope this initiative would help resolve the issue of AB resistance!

      Works Cited:

      Kuehn, B. M. (2014). FDA moves to curb antibiotic use in livestock. JAMA, 311(4), 347-348.

      Levy, S. B., FitzGerald, G. B., & Macone, A. B. (1976). Changes in intestinal flora of farm personnel after introduction of a tetracycline-supplemented feed on a farm. New England Journal of Medicine, 295(11), 583-588.

  • angel519 11:00 pm on October 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breast milk, , Europe,   

    Breast Milk: a potential source of Escherichia coli 

    “Liquid gold” as known as breast milk is the natural way of providing energy and nutrients to young infants for healthy growth and development. World Heath Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding particularly colostrum (breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy) to new born within the first few hours of birth. Unfortunately, there are mothers with extremely vulnerable hospitalized babies (preterm birth, birth defects) are unable to provide adequate amount of breast milk to support their babies; or there are mothers that generally cannot produce enough breast milk. With the increase of Internet usage and online shopping, people have started to sell breast milk online.


    source: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/10/chkd-begin-work-breast-milk-bank-next-month

    An investigation done by the “BBC Inside Out” program took 12 samples of online bought breast milk around Europe for microbiological tests at Coventry University. The results showed that four of the samples contained pathogenic Escherichia coli, two of samples contained candida and one contained pseudomonas aeruginosa, which lead to death of four infants in neonatal units in Belfast in 2012. Even though the investigation had very small sample size, the test result indicated that online breast milk has the potential of containing pathogenic bacteria. Infants have immature immune system and devoid of natural gut microflora, which make them the most vulnerable population that has the highest risk of being infected by pathogenic bacteria. Small amount of pathogenic bacteria can cause severe illness or death of infants. Thereby, online breast milk from unauthorized websites should be banned to prevent foodborne illness from happening on those fragile babies.


    In Europe and other parts of the world, there are many authorized Milk Banks that offers pasteurized breast milk for premature babies or babies recovering from surgeries. To ensure the safety of donor milk, serological screening, medical history and lifestyle are done and checked before receiving donor milk. According to the European Milk Bank Association (EMBA), there are 210 active milk banks around Europe to support infants that need safe breast milk. A study on nutrients and bioactive factors in human milk indicated that heating process like pasteurization does have a certain degree of destruction on the functionality of bioactive protein components. However, it is not worth the risk of feeding infants with unknown source breast milk that is potentially pathogenic.

    Despite there are no outbreaks caused by E.coli in online sold breast milk, preventions should be done to avoid such incidence from happening.

    The following video shows a clear procedure on how milk bank handle donated breast milk. (Video from the Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast)

    Click link to see the video: http://milkbankne.org/for-healthcare-professionals/

    Angel Chen

    • yichen25 1:55 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I personally think that it is not a wise choice to purchase breast milk online as the milk source is not known and you have no idea if the breast milk is properly processed and pasteurized. With online shopping nowadays, it is difficult to determine the authenticity of the item and this applies to breast milk as well. Food fraud is more likely to happen online as the buyers are convinced based on the description and pictures given without seeing the real product. Also, even with proper pasteurization, breast milk still stands a chance of being contaminated with improper packaging, storage and delivery. Therefore, to avoid infants risking their lives for breast milk that might endanger their lives, it is best for local authorities to restrict the sales of breast milk on an online platform unless it is properly authorized.

    • CandiceZheng 1:39 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’d say this is a brilliant angle for the food safety issues! As online shopping is becoming increasingly popular and everyone enjoys its convenience, lots of home prepared food come to the market without proper processing method, which might lead to lots of potential food safety issues. Nowadays the inspection agency should pay their attention to those online sources as well.

    • CandiceZheng 2:02 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Online shopping is a new angle for the food inspection agency to consider. Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular currently and we all enjoy the convenience. However, this also bring about a lot of home processed food and even things like breast milk, which poses a significant threat to food safety. Although it might be hard to regulate the selling of all those types of food online, the authorities should pay more attention to the food that potentially have more significant impact and probably ban the sales. For example, online breast milk are used to feed infants, who do not have a complete immune system yet. While by consuming contaminated foods normal individuals might only get mild symptoms, infants are very fragile and might get very severe problems.

    • catherine wong 5:38 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I also agree that purchasing breast milk online from an unknown stranger is very dangerous. If they were purchasing or receiving the breast milk from an authorized source such as a milk bank then it would be different because it technically should be treated and handled by professionals hopefully. I understand that some new mothers are unable to give their newborns enough breast milk and decide that the only way their babies can get benefits of colostrum is from other new mothers, but they have to understand that there are lot of risks associated with this. The mothers selling the breast milk may not even know that the milk contains harmful pathogens and since they are not trained on ways to keep breast milk safe through the packaging, handling and storage process, they really should not be selling it.

    • elaine chan 3:29 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting article! Since breast milk comes from our own human body as a natural source of food for our babies, it’s understandable how some people can overlook the safety factor. Majority of the population may assume that since it’s a natural source, and under normal conditions, it would be fed straight to the baby, there will be no health hazards associated with purchasing breast milk from another source. I also agree that even though there are no reported outbreaks, preventative measures should be implicated to avoid its occurrence. Setting out regulations for the sale of breast milk would be a good solution to manage its distribution. However, regulations can only manage so much and the distribution of breast milk can still occur in secrecy. I think it will be important to educate mothers that are planning to either buy or sell breast milk. This will allow both sides to understand the risks associated and be more cautious about the breast milk they’re handling with for babies.

    • TamaraRitchie 9:00 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Really interesting article. I had never thought about breast milk being a possible source of bacterial contamination as it usually goes directly from mother to baby, therefore minimizing the risk of cross contamination. I think it is great what is being done in Europe with having the Milk Banks that supply safe and fresh milk to babies who are in need. It is a great alternative for Mothers who want to supply breast milk to their babies but cannot do so for a number of reasons. I think it is very unsafe for breast milk to be sold online without any regulations or screening. I agree with Elaine Chan that it would be a great idea to educate mothers that are considering buying breast milk online. I believe if many of these mothers knew the health dangers associated with infants and bacterial contamination of foods that they would reconsider the purchase of breast milk from an online source.

    • RainShen 10:26 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think purchasing human breast milk from unauthorized online stores is not wise at all. Newborns’ immune system is not nearly as effective as an adult’s or even an older child’s, and that it takes many months before a newborn can fight off infection as well as someone whose immune system is fully matured. Breast milk provides the babies with an added level of immune protection, because it contains large numbers of antibodies and other infection fighting cells, but it must be not pathogenic in the first place. It is very nice that these authorized Milk banks can provide safe breast milk, but if the breast milk has already been pasteurized, is it still providing those unique antibodies for the baby? Comparing to the commercial formula, is the pasteurized breast milk still much more beneficial for the newborns? I’m thinking that during the transportation or storage, there might be other contamination.

    • amreenj 7:01 pm on October 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A really interesting article! Taking into consideration that breast milk is highly recommended as the primary food source for infants and that infants have a unestablished microflora it seems counterintuitive that breast milk would be a source of illness/death. However, purchasing dairy products online, seems rather unwise. We have learnt the importance of proper sanitation/ processing at various stages of the food processing/distribution continuum and that failing to do so can lead to serious harm. When buying products online, especially with low shelf-life foods, it is critical that they be stored (before/after/ during transport) at the correct temperature and treated appropriately. In knowing this, it should raise a red flag to potential consumers that plan on buying such products online (unauthorized online stores). On the other hand, the presence of Milk Banks, serve as a safer alternative, and make breast milk more accesible to those who perhaps can’t provide this to their infants.

    • MarinaMoon 2:28 am on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In my opinion, I would never risk my baby to consume breast milk from another unknown source even if breastfeeding has many positive benefits to a baby. I think it is better to provide baby formulas which ensure of containing all of the nutrients that a baby needs as well as safety of the baby. Even if the breastmilk to be sold had been free of bacteria may become contaminated through out the process of transportation to handling of the milk. There is so many other factors that needs to be supervised which cannot be done online. On the other hand, the milk bank that provides pasteurized breastmilk that confirms safety seems like a better approach in allowing women who lack the ability to breastfeed to be able to give breastmilk to their child. However, as mentioned in the summary of article, the first thing that came to my mind was nutrient content of the pasteurized milk. I remember one of the article on this blog talked about raw milk to be more nutritious and beneficial to the body than pasteurized milk although it does have negative consequences such as presence of bacteria. Nevertheless, this evidence indicates that pasteurizing milk does in fact reduce the nutrient content of the product. This being said, I would rather feed baby formulas which compensates women who cannot breastfeed to be able to give their children the nutrients that they need.

    • YaoWang 2:56 pm on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The article is really interesting! As online shopping is becoming more and more popular and convenient, people can buy almost whatever they can think of via the internet. However, I won’t buy food from any unauthorized sources online especially for vulnerable populations such as babies. I think in order to prevent people from risking their babies’ lives, it is more important for the government to make the authorized Milk Banks more available rather than just regulate online shopping environment.

    • cheryl lau 6:05 pm on October 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This article about breast is brings up interesting concerns as there is an increasing demand for these types of products. Whether or not people feel that selling breast milk is controversial does not take away from the fact there should be some sort of system to ensure the safety of these products. Since the breast milk is supposed to benefit babies, there should even more emphasis on ensuring that these products are not contaminated with foodborne pathogens. Breast milk sold online are sold at higher prices because of its claimed benefits and limited supply, therefore it should go without saying that consumers of these products would not mind if they paid a little more to have the milk tested before going on the market.

    • laurenrappaport 4:45 pm on October 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is such an interesting post! I had never considered breast milk to be a potential source of foodborne pathogens before reading this. As babies have not developed any sort of immune system or gut microflora this is something that should be of major concern. Selling un-testing breast milk online creates a huge risk factor for the health of the baby and I dont think it should be done without pasteurization techniques and testing. For mothers who cannot produce their own breastmilk the milk banks are an amazing alternative to providing their baby with the nutrients and introduction of microflora compared to the alternative of formula. Although there is a degree of uncertainty when you use the milk from the banks as the milk is coming form an unknown source, with the proper use of sanitation, preparation and storage it provides a great opportunity to babies to get the all the benefits even though it is not coming from their mother directly.

    • Stephanie Chen 1:37 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This article gives an interesting insight to the issue of breast milk banks online. While the intentions may be good, buying breast milk from online sources really is a flashing red light to me. Multiple dangers may come with breast milk purchased from the internet, most importantly, health and safety risks for your baby. Each step of the collection, processing, testing (if any), and storage of breast milk may introduce a route of entry for pathogen contamination. Even if they are said to be pasteurized, you have no way of ensuring the process will eliminate all pathogenic factors in the breast milk. Moreover, the FDA recommends against feeding babies with breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the internet. While understanding the need for alternative sources of milk for those who cannot breastfeed, personally, I believe the risks to infants’ health and safety outweigh any benefits that they may get from breast milk. Many types of formula are available for babies with medical conditions and may be the better alternative.

    • Silvia Low 4:50 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think it is absolutely disgusting that people would purchase breast milk ONLINE for their infants. What is wrong with people? This activity should be completely banned and illegal. To me, this is equivalent to purchasing blood, kidneys, and other miscellaneous organs online. Why would people want this? I’m flabbergasted. “Recommendations” to not purchase online break milk from the FDA and other authorities are not enough. They should make this a criminal act. Especially if one day, by chance, death does occur from consumption of this product. Because, killing someone is a crime! Intentional or not!

    • EmilyLi 11:51 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In my opinion, since breast milk is considered to be the “gold standard” for infants, the intention and the availability of breast milk banks is wonderful. However, because the breast milk from the the milk banks are for vulnerable infants, milk bank facility should be run by under government authorities to ensure tight regulations. The facility should be able to provide health information of the donor mother for the safety of the consumer. I think breast milk bank provided another option for very vulnerable infants who are not taking formula well, but something like breast milk shouldn’t be order online and have it mail to you. The process of shipping may introduce more risk factor of the breast milk which can be life threatening to infants.

    • Mandy Tam 8:48 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article and I remember we discuss this in class. I think nothing is better than breast milk to infant, however, food safety is very important as well. Like local farm market, I think government will have a hard time to control online selling as they are too “scatter” to track unlike large industrialize production.

      I think starting a register program and also recommend people to provide milk to such program are a great start since breast milk becomes more and more popular over formula.

      Anyway, I learn a lot from this post!

  • CandiceZheng 9:15 pm on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Europe   

    Poop on birds: A survey of Campylobacter on fresh chicken in the UK 

    The year-long survey of Campylobacter on fresh chicken by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is carried out during the period from February 2014 to February 2015, reported the levels of Campylobacter found on fresh chickens sold in the UK. The final report was released in May, 2015, and it included the results represented by major retailers all over the UK.

    Campylobacter has become the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK, which can cause gastrointestinal infections such as bloody diarrhea and dysentery syndrome like cramps, fever, and pain. Poisoning usually develops a few days after eating contaminated food, and the most common routes of transmission are fecal-oral.  Raw poultry, being the most common food vehicle responsible for the transmission contributes to 4 in 5 cases of campylobacter food poisoning in the UK.

    According to the results from the report, during the tested period,

    • 19% chickens tested positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination (greater than 1,000 colony forming unit per gram (cfu/g) on each sample)
    • 73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter (i.e. contained campylobacter at a level above the detectable limit of 10 cfu/g)
    • 0.1% (5 samples) of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination
    • 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter

    (If you are interested in more details about the report, please refer to the full report at   A microbiological survey of Campylobacter contamination in fresh whole UKproduced chilled chickens at retail sale – February 2014 to February 2015)

    However,  above results seem not to be optimistic provided that the UK government and industry have targeted  for reduction of Campylobacter in the chickens produced in UK poultry slaughterhouses that have the highest level of contamination (i.e. those with more than 1,000 cfu per gram) from a baseline of 27% in 2008 to 10% by 2015 ever since 2010. (read more at the Joint Government and Industry Target to Reduce Campylobacter in UK Produced Chickens by 2015 December 2010)

    Under such circumstances, to further reduce campylobacter levels in raw chicken and improve the food safety in the UK, the FSA initiated the ‘Chicken Challenge’ during the summer of 2015, and encouraged the public to share messages that demonstrate proper food handling methods to their family and friends. For example, the message saying “store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on bottom shelf of fridge” would prevent cross contamination and help limit the growth of Campylobacter. For more good demonstrations and some other fun activities you can visit the home page of the  ‘Chicken Challenge’.

    Finally, back to our daily life, there are certain things you can do to avoid Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter poisoning). Campylobacter is actually very heat sensitive and can be destroyed with thorough heating process. Your chicken is safe as long as you follow good kitchen practice:

    • Cover and chill raw chicken: Cover raw chicken and store them on the bottom shelf of the fridge so that the juices can’t drip on to other foods and contaminate them with Campylobacter.
    • Don’t wash raw chicken: Cooking will kill any bacteria present in the raw chicken, including Campylobacter. However, if you wash them in your sink, splashing of water will spread the germs.
    • Wash hands and use utensils: Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils that contact the raw chicken, such as chopping boards and surface used to prepare raw chicken. And thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken. Such practice can help prevent cross contamination.
    • Cook chicken thoroughly: Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before consuming. It is always better to check that the thickest part of your chicken is steaming hot with no pink meat and the juices run clear.

    Check out the video below to become a ‘Chicken Hero’!

    Wish you all have a safe one without any food poisoning 🙂 LOL

    Candice Zheng

    • Barbara Correia 7:05 pm on October 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am surprised that, even though the UK government authorities and food companies targeted the reduction of Campylobacter in chicken products, the number of products that tested positive for this bacteria was still very high. I liked a lot your tips for avoiding cross-contamination from raw chicken and I believe that one of the best ways to combat Campylobacter outbreaks from raw chicken is spreading information to people, so that they make sure they cook properly the chicken (as Campylobacter is sensitive to high temperatures) and avoid contaminating other foods.

    • Barbara Correia 7:11 pm on October 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am very shocked that, even though the UK authorities worked in order to reduce Campylobacter from raw chicken and, therefore the major source of foodborne diseases caused by Campylobacter, their plan of action still failed and a lot of the raw chickens tested positive for the presence of this bacteria. Therefore, I believe that right now the best way to prevent outbreaks of foodborne diseases caused by Campylobacter from raw chicken sources is to warn and inform people that they should cook properly the chicken and hoow to avoid cross-contamination, and that is why I found your tips very important.

    • angel519 1:27 pm on October 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The food industry plays an important in ensuring food safety in our community, however, the government also have a great impact on this field. The “Chicken Challenge” in the UK is a great example of the government educating the public to have good food safety practice. It is crucial for the public to recognize that improper food handling can lead to foodborne illnesses, and they are ways they can improve their handling practice to reduce the chance of food poisoning.

    • WinnieLiao 10:53 am on October 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Campylobacter with chicken has been the top of the list combination for causing food borne illnesses resulting in QALY loss. Even in Canada, this pathogen has been found to be responsible for approximately 8% of the annual food borne illnesses. It is helpful for the general public to know about the common procedures we can do to prevent the spread of these organisms into other foods. One that comes to my attention is to wash the chicken. Many would think that washing chicken could possibly be beneficial in terms of food safety. However as said in the blog, this could lead to cross contamination and can potentially be another safety hazard. The chicken challenge, as established by the government, provides a great platform for the public to investigate into more food safe knowledge. Not only is this knowledge helpful for dealing with Campylobacter, but it can also be essential for effectively treating other foodborne pathogens in food. To conclude, food safety is also in our hands!

    • YueDai 11:48 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ensuring food safety in our community is the top responsibility of food industry and food-related government agencies, but it also requires public awareness and correct food handling at the household level. Some tough food safety challenge, like Campylobacter in raw chicken in this blog, can be easily controlled by good kitchen practice. In these circumstances, it may be more cost-efficient for governments to invest in public food safety education. Also, lots of common food pathogens share the same prevention methods in home kitchens. Cooking food thoroughly is a really good example.

    • YaoWang 12:39 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s quite amazing that although the UK government has taken some steps to reduce Campylobacter in the chickens produced in UK poultry slaughterhouses with more than 1000 cfu/g from 27% to 10% by 2015, the actual level is still 9% higher than expected. But it’s a great idea for them to encourage the public to share messages that demonstrate proper food handling methods to their family and friends. I like the tips you provided for good kitchen practice though, especially the second one “don’t wash raw chicken”. My family actually always wash raw chicken thoroughly over the sink before cooking, which is completely wrong. Good reminder! Thanks!

      • CandiceZheng 2:11 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        As a food scientist you should definitely prevent your family from doing that lol! Thanks for your comment!

    • SunnyHuan 2:18 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, nice to know that there is no need to wash the raw meat before cooking, and washing raw meat could cause cross contaminzation and become a food safety issue.

    • YaoDongYu 2:20 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is hard to believe that campylobacter levels after a few years if UK government regulation and control (since 2008) still have such significant test results. These information should definitely be emphasized to the public to advertise safe handling of raw chicken (in general, people tend to believe chicken are safer than raw pork and beef)

    • Stephanie Chen 4:12 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Despite the UK government’s aims to reduce Campylobacter in chickens produced in the UK and even sets targets to carry this out, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of human infections. Success of meeting their targets relies on government policies and the industry, but it really comes down to the consumers being able to reduce the risk of Campylobacteriosis through safe food practices themselves. I like the UK government’s idea of the Chicken Challenge which gives very practical advice and an opportunity for the population to be involved in helping to reduce food-borne illness caused by Campylobacter. I enjoyed the campaign video as well and think it is a great and very creative way to educate kids who are even more vulnerable to this bacteria.

    • Stephanie Chen 4:26 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Despite the UK government’s aim to reduce the level of Campylobacter on poultry produced in the UK and even sets targets to achieve this, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of human infection. To achieve this target relies on government policies and the industry, but the reduction of Campylobacteriosis really comes down to the consumer’s safe food practices themselves. I really like the UK government’s idea of the Chicken Challenge which gives very practical advice and an opportunity for the population to be actively involved in helping to reduce food-borne illnesses caused by Campylobacter. I also enjoyed the campaign video and think it is a great and very creative way to educate kids who are even more vulnerable to this bacteria.

    • Stephanie Chen 4:27 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Despite the UK government’s aim to reduce the level of Campylobacter on poultry produced in the UK and even sets targets to achieve this, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of human infection. To achieve this target relies on government policies and the industry, but it really comes down to the consumer’s safe food practices themselves. I really like the UK government’s idea of the Chicken Challenge which gives very practical advice and an opportunity for the population to be actively involved in helping to reduce food-borne illnesses caused by Campylobacter. I also enjoyed the campaign video and think it is a great and very creative way to educate kids who are even more vulnerable to this bacteria.

    • ya gao 8:21 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is shocking to see that with all these work the government had done, the reduction of contamination of Campylobacter on poultry products is minimal. The data 1000cfu/g Campylobacter on sample is another shock. It is sad to see with all the regulations, policy, QA and QC in place, food safe is still a big threat in our society that is threatening citizens’ life. Despite the fact that we should work harder to improve our food processing procedure to possess minimal risk, citizens should learn essential food handling skill to prepare food safely. For the food handling tips present in this blog, I am surprising to see that we should avoid washing raw chicken before cooking. I used to do that all the time. Thanks for the helpful tip that I could learn from your post Candice!

    • Stephanie Chen 10:38 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Although the UK government aims to reduce the level of Campylobacter on poultry produced in the UK and even sets targets to achieve this, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of human infection. To achieve this target relies on government policies and the industry, but it really comes down to the consumer’s safe food practices themselves. I really like the UK government’s idea of the Chicken Challenge which gives very practical advice and an opportunity for the population to be actively involved in helping to reduce food-borne illnesses caused by Campylobacter. I also enjoyed the campaign video and think it is a great and very creative way to educate kids who are even more vulnerable to this bacteria.

    • Alex Shen 10:37 am on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for this great post! Although I found the test sophisticated to me, the conclusion here is rather useful: cook the chicken thoroughly. Saves me some time washing raw chicken:)

    • YueDai 8:27 pm on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ensuring food safety in our community is the top responsibility of food industry and food-related government agencies, but it also requires public awareness and correct food handling at the household level. Some tough food safety challenge, like Campylobacter in raw chicken in this blog, can be easily controlled by good kitchen practice. In these circumstances, it may be more cost-efficient for governments to invest in public food safety education. Also, lots of common pathogens in food share the same prevention methods in home kitchens. Cooking food thoroughly is a really good example.

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