Monday, April 23, 2018

Foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli are a constant concern among food producers and distributors. Raw and incompletely composted manure can transport these pathogens onto fresh produce, while handlers and animals can contaminate produce with a variety of other pathogens.

The Food and Drug Administration provides industry guidelines to meet required standards for minimizing microbial food safety. For those in the produce industry, the challenge is to easily reach these standards without expending a significant amount of time and resources.

EcoloxTech has developed a 100 percent safe and reliable no rinse produce sanitizer through the use of Electrolyzed Oxidizing Water. Cleared by the FDA for no-rinse sanitation of produce if generated from EcoloxTech systems, electrolyzed oxidizing water saves time and water use in sanitizing produce, leaving no harmful residues, alterations in taste, odors, or discolorations.

No potable water rinse is required after using electrolyzed oxidizing water. The USDA has also approved its use for organic produce handling and production.

“We can wash our product, and it doesn’t harm the product because its salt based. “ said Dinesh Ragbir, owner of Healthy Organics, a certified organic produce company in Vero Beach, Florida. “We’re happy using it. It washes and sanitizes. It’s an easy system for us to use.”

Using just table salt, water and electricity, electrolyzed oxidizing water kills bacteria, bacterial spores, and viruses 100 times more effectively than chlorine bleach. Studies have proven electrolyzed oxidizing water to be highly effective in killing  E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella enteritidis, Listeria monocytogenes, and spore-forming bacteria. The electricity induces a chemical reaction in the salt water to create a powerful oxidant solution. EcoloxTech has perfected this reaction to identify optimal formulas and settings of voltage, amperage, and flow rates.

EcoloxTech is a US based company founded by Morten Larsen, a Marine Engineer who used to advise the White House on advancing environmentally friendly technologies and previously served as an engineer for the United Nations in Africa, and Dr. Scott Hartnett, a graduate of Nova Southeastern University School of Medicine who has worked as a physician and surgeon in the Mercy Health System in Philadelphia and specialized in minimally invasive surgery at the University of Miami Hospital. Larsen currently serves as CEO of EcoloxTech, while Dr. Hartnett serves as Chief Medical Officer.

Other produce sanitizing agents, like chlorine bleach, come in concentrated form, are irritant to eyes and skin, and must be prepared using personal protective gear. Electrolyzed oxidizing water is safe, non-irritant and is generated on-site with EcoloxTech systems, therefore eliminating the need for purchasing, storing, transporting, preparing, and disposing of toxic chemicals. Sanitation of produce using EcoloxTech electrolyzed oxidizing water does not require a potable water post-rinse as is required when using chlorine bleach.

Electrolyzed Oxidizing Water is a green, sustainable alternative to add to small and large scale produce washers and can be used by greenhouse growers to safely reduce biofilm and pathogens in irrigation systems. Despite being more effective than alternative sanitizing agents, its non-toxic, non-irritant, and requires no safety or protective equipment to use.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

E. Coli, Listeria or Salmonella in your produce!!

You can contract E.Coli, Listeria and Salmonella through your fresh fruits or vegetables, even after you washed the produce thoroughly!

Leafy greens, lettuce, cantaloupes, mangoes and strawberries. These are just some of the foods that have sickened or even killed people when they were contaminated with foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella.

Amidst the confusing swirl of information about these and other produce outbreaks, the question arises: Were some of these pathogens inside the produce? Could it be — in some cases, anyway — that the plant’s roots sucked the pathogens up out of the soil and transferred them through the plant into its edible parts?

Could this happen when uncomposted manure is applied to a field, or when water contaminated with livestock waste is used to irrigate a crop, or when deer wandering through a field or geese flying over it leave behind some fecal droppings? Could some of the pathogens from the manure, polluted irrigation water, or droppings from wildlife soak down into the ground and become available to the roots of the plants?

No idle question, this. In fact, it’s been asked enough times for serious research to be done to try and answer it. The main reason, of course, is the need to come up with information that food producers and handlers can use to prevent their crops from becoming contaminated — without being sidetracked by possibilities that don’t hold water.

Just glancing through the newly proposed food safety rules for fruits and vegetables, it becomes readily apparent that a good deal of attention is paid to preventing the surfaces of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are eaten raw, from being contaminated with foodborne pathogens. Strategies cited in the proposed rules include taking steps to ensure that irrigation and wash water is free from pathogens, that farm and processing equipment doesn’t harbor pathogens and that farmworkers have proper handwashing facilities.

But the question persists: If plants can suck contaminants up out of the soil, what in the world can a producer or processor do if livestock or wildlife pollutes nearby irrigation water or if wandering wildlife contaminates the soil with fecal droppings?

None of this is far-fetched. After all, it was E. coli O157:H7 in droppings from deer wandering through some strawberry fields in Oregon that contaminated berries that would eventually kill an elderly woman and send seven people to the hospital, three of whom suffered kidney failure, according to public health officials.

And it was the same potentially fatal type of E. coli that killed three people and sickened more than 200 in the 2006 outbreak linked to baby spinach grown in California. The likely culprits in that outbreak were wild pigs or livestock that wandered through the field or perhaps nearby irrigation water that had been contaminated by livestock or wildlife. But even with matching DNA samples, the exact way the pathogen actually spread to the spinach remains unknown.

Some mysteries brought to light

It was the 2006 baby spinach E. coli outbreak that led to a research project, funded by Fresh Express, that looked at the question of whether spinach roots could suck pathogens up from soil and transport them through the stems into the leaves.

The research on whether this sort of internalization of E. coli into is possible is also relevant to other salad greens.

The project tracked the pathogen’s journey from the field to harvest. By placing a fluorescence gene at a specific location in the E. coli bacterium, the researchers could use a specialized microscope to see where the pathogen was going.

It turned out that not only could the E. coli survive in the soil for up to 28 days, but the E. coli cells were also able to migrate from the soil into the roots of the spinach plants.

“We wanted to investigate this, because it was one of the questions out there,” USDA microbiologist Manan Sharma told International Eco trade in an earlier interview. “We’ve taken something that has been of concern for eight or nine years and put it to rest.”

He said that thanks to the results of this research project, spinach growers and processors could focus on more likely routes of contamination so they can prevent that from happening.

He also told International Eco Trade that if the plants didn’t have a way to keep the pathogens from traveling up into the plants’ leaves, there would probably be a lot more contaminated produce and a lot more sick people.

Even so, Sharma said that the results from this research couldn’t be translated into other crops.

“Each crop system should receive its own evaluation of the risk of the uptake of foodborne pathogens through root systems,” he said.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious, sometimes fatal infection called listeriosis. Those most at risk are young children, seniors, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women among whom listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and infection in newborns. Symptoms of listeriosis include high fever, severe headache, muscle stiffness or soreness and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. Those most at risk are young children, seniors, those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms, which include fever, diarrhea that may be bloody, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure and last up to 10 days. Complications include bloodstream infections, infected aneurysms, endocarditis and arthritis.

E. coli also causes serious illness and death. Symptoms of an infection include abdominal cramping and diarrhea that is often bloody that last about a week. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a complication of E. coli infections that causes kidney failure, coma, seizure, stroke and death. Children are most at risk for HUS.
That’s what scientists wanted to know when they did a review last year of the literature about research projects that focused on whether the edible parts of crops could be contaminated from pathogens or viruses that get into the plants’ roots and then travel up into the edible parts of the plant. Does that happen? they wanted to know.

So, what about other crops?
The paper about this literature review, published May 2012 in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, starts right out by saying that root uptake of enteric pathogens — those relating to or affecting the intestines — and subsequent internalization into the plants has been a large area of research with results varying due to differences in experimental design, systems tested and pathogens and crops used.

Referring to the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to baby spinach contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 as the catalyst for more research on whether or how root uptake can contaminate produce, the paper explains that the debate on this topic has led to the need to review the literature. According to the paper, outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have been increasingly linked to the consumption of fruits and vegetables, with the source of some of these outbreaks traced back to the farm. Even so, in many outbreaks, the way the produce was actually contaminated remains unknown.

According to data from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, produce outbreaks accounted for 13 percent of foodborne outbreaks during 1990-2005.

Kalmia E. Kniel, Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Delaware, and one of the project’s researchers, told International Eco trade that, when all is said and done, the results of the literature review show that it’s “very unlikely” that contamination of produce occurs in the field through root uptake.

“There’s enough literature to say that,” she said.

When asked about root crops such as carrots, Kniel said there’s no evidence to show that they’re at risk when it comes to internalizing pathogens from the soil.

That’s not to say, of course, that root crops grown in soil contaminated with pathogens won’t have some pathogens on their surfaces when they’re harvested.

The paper’s conclusion says that “generally, the presence of internalized pathogens in roots of plants does not directly correlate with internalized pathogens in the edible or foliar tissues of crops.”

Even so, the researchers say that any future research about root uptake should include realistic growing conditions, along with realistic pathogen contamination levels.

Some of the research projects used sterilized soil or extremely high levels of pathogens, for example.

Kniel also told International Eco trade that because pathogens are good at exchanging genetic material, especially when under pressure, scientists need to stay one step ahead of how that might affect root uptake and from there internalization into the plant.


According to the same research paper, the topic of viral pathogens is critically important to food safety. That’s because from 1973 to 2006, 60 percent of U.S. foodborne outbreaks associated with eating leafy greens were caused by noroviruses, while Salmonella and E. coli only accounted for 10 percent of the outbreaks.

While noroviruses — often referred to as “the stomach flu” because they produce gastrointestinal symptoms — typically involve food contaminated by food handlers, several outbreaks from fresh produce have been linked to environmental contamination (in the field, for example).

Then, too, one of the largest outbreaks of hepatitis A virus in the United States was linked to eating green onions contaminated by the virus. That outbreak sickened about 1,000 people and killed four. And even though polluted irrigation water and farmworkers were among the likely sources for the outbreak, the exact way the onions were contaminated remains unknown.

The research also revealed that while contaminated soil triggered little to no internalization of pathogens from the roots into the plants, that wasn’t always the case with plants grown hydroponically, especially in the case of viruses that can get people sick.

“Following good agricultural practices and using clean water is essential for hydroponics,” Kniel said.

How, then, do pathogens get inside the crops?

“Internalization” happens when pathogens get inside the edible parts of fresh produce. But if not from root uptake, then how?

In a paper titled Internalization of Fresh Produce by Pathogens, which appeared last year in the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, Marilyn C. Erickson of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, shared some observations about internalization and root uptake in leafy greens.

She found that while pathogens can get into plants in a number of locations on the plant and in a number of different kinds of produce — both before and after harvest — it is unlikely they enter through roots or seeds when grown in soil under normal growing conditions.

However, some growing, harvesting and processing conditions can open the way for pathogens to get onto and into the produce.

For example, her research showed that a film of moisture on the leaves appears to be a critical factor in a pathogen’s ability to reside on leaf surfaces and then to migrate and infiltrate into the stomata of the plants.

Stomata are tiny openings, typically found on the outer skin of a leaf but also in other parts of the plant. These little “mouths” are made up of two cells, referred to as “guard cells” that surround a tiny pore called a stoma. The stomata’s main job is to allow gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor and oxygen to quickly move into and out of the leaf.

Erickson said that enteric pathogens can lodge in the stomata or be trapped in crevices of leafy greens that are exposed to contaminated water after harvest.

In addition, surfaces of the greens that have been cut during harvest or during minimal processing furnish sites on the leaves that are especially vulnerable to penetration by the pathogens.

When looking at actual growing conditions, Erickson told International Eco trade that the microflora (organisms that are already in the soil) far outnumber any pathogens that might also be in the soil. In general, the indigenous organisms easily outcompete the pathogens in their search for nutrients, which they need to survive. She said that in “normal soil,” you’d need concentrations of about 10,000 E. coli bacteria per gram for root uptake to happen, and even more in moist soil.

Her research has led her to conjecture that plants have defenses against internalization when they’re growing. “Internalization is more likely to happen after harvest,” she said, referring to cuts in the surfaces of the leaves as an example.

Food safety scientists have pointed out that once a pathogen migrates to a cut surface where nutrients are oozing out, it’s almost impossible to dislodge them. Like any other hungry organism, they’ll hold on tight to a source of food. From there, they can migrate into the plant’s edible parts in search for yet more food.

The sweet nutrients inside cantaloupes can lure pathogens on the surface into a melon that has been nicked or cut through these openings. From there, they can travel into the melon itself in search of even more food.

In a research paper about Salmonella contamination in cantaloupes that appeared in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, Trevor Suslow, a food safety scientist at the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues concluded that the outcomes of the project strongly indicated that root uptake and the transportation of Salmonella from the soil due to contaminated irrigation water is “highly unlikely” to occur — even under “exaggerated worst-case” growing conditions.

However, any inputs, such as contaminated irrigation water, which can contain Salmonella, would have the potential to contaminate surfaces of the melons that come into contact with the pathogens — even at low levels.

According to the report’s conclusions, these pathogens, if on the ground’s surface where the cantaloupes are growing, could get onto the melons’ surfaces and from there be transferred to other melons by farmworkers, harvesting equipment or transportation vehicles, for example.

In an earlier interview, Suslow told International Eco trade that as far as he knows, foodborne pathogens can’t penetrate the surface of produce on their own. Generally it takes some kind of opening on the surface to provide a pathway to the subsurface of the produce. But when that happens, he said, even antibacterial solutions won’t be able to rid the produce of pathogens.

The research paper concludes by warning that contamination of the external rind of the melons from irrigation water carrying pathogens remains a concern in melon production. For that reason, it’s important to establish critical limits for melon irrigation in California and other growing regions with similar arid and semi-arid climates, soil texture and crop-management practices.

An industry giant, California provides 70 percent of the cantaloupes sold in this country. During the state’s five-month season, the industry typically packs and ships around 30 million cartons of cantaloupes. A carton contains 12 to 18 cantaloupes.

Cantaloupes stand out in the roll call of recent food poisoning outbreaks. In 2011, Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes from a farm in Colorado sickened more than 140 people and killed 33. And last year, Salmonella-contaminated cantaloupes from a farm in Indiana killed 2 people and sickened more than 175 in 21 states.


Chlorination is a commonly used method of controlling pathogens in drinking water, and also is increasingly used in irrigation water treatment (Zheng et al, 2008).
Pathogen control using chlorination involves the oxidation of organic material (including pathogens) by free (highly reactive) chlorine species (hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ions). Hypochlorous acid is the stronger oxidizer and is most predominant in water with a pH between 6-8 (Zheng et al, 2008). With increasing irrigation water pH (alkalinity), the free chlorine species hypochlorous acid (HOCl) converts to hypochlorite (OCl- ), which is a much weaker oxidizer.
These chlorine species may be added to irrigation water via water treatment with sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl).  The water property of “chlorine demand” is vital to take into consideration in order to supply adequate chlorine concentrations.
Chlorine reacts with any organic substance in the irrigation water, and the “chlorine demand” is the amount of chlorine used up oxidizing materials (debris, algae, etc.) other than pathogens (Fisher, 2011). Because of chlorine demand, more chlorine must be added to the water initially than is required to kill a particular pathogen. As such, the concentrations in ppm listed in the next section do not reflect the amount of chlorine that should be supplied by the injection system. These values represent “residual chlorine”, or the amount of chlorine available for pathogen destruction after chlorine demand has been satisfied. Residual chlorine is what must be measured to determine if chlorine concentrations are adequate for pathogen control.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What causes food poisoning and when should you consult a doctor

Eating contaminated food can cause food poisoning, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever within hours, sometimes days or even weeks, of eating contaminated food.

What are the causes of food poisoning?

Food poisoning is caused due to ingesting food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or toxins. Food can get contaminated during growing, processing, storage or preparation stage. Also, food that isn’t cooked thoroughly or cooked under unsanitary conditions can also cause food poisoning. Also, expired food products usually contain bacteria and toxins.

Bacteria that cause food poisoning are Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, etc. Hepatitis A virus is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Rotavirus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route and spread from person-to-person through contaminated hands. Foods that require no cooking like salads and fruits may be contaminated by infected food handlers.

What factors increase the risk of food poisoning?

Most often an inbuilt system within our stomach inhibits the growth of these organisms, but in some cases we end up ingesting such large quantities of them that it cause illness. Risk of infection depends on:

1. Age and health – Risk of infection increases in older adults and in people with chronic diseases as their immune response is weakened. Very young children are at risk too as their immune system is not fully developed.

2. Type of food – Eating raw foods like salads, etc. increase the risk of food poisoning as harmful bacteria and parasites are not destroyed before consumption. Vegetables that have not been washed well and undercooked meats can cause food poisoning.

3. Bad hygiene practices – Not washing hands, especially the nails, before and after handling food can increase the risk of food contamination. Nails are the first place dirt tends to accumulate, and become a haven for harmful bacteria to hide and breed. Preparing food using unclean cutting board and utensils can contaminate the food. Kitchen sponges that have been in use for long are known to be dirtier than a toilet seat as they are a breeding spot for different types of bacteria.

4. Type of organism contaminating the food – Most cases of food poisoning are from common bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella or E. coli and virus such as norovirus. Most strains of E.Coli are the natural gut bacteria. But food contamination by the strain E.Coli 0157:H7 can cause kidney problems and even death if not treated properly. Infection due to Listeria contamination can lead to inflammation of the brain membrane (meningitis). Clostridium botulinum causes severe illness affecting the nervous system (botulism).

5. Quantity of harmful toxin ingested – If you drink a little quantity or eat a mouthful or two of contaminated food, you are not likely to suffer from food poisoning. The inbuilt system within our stomach inhibits the growth of the bacteria. But ingesting large quantities of food contaminated by bacteria can causes illness.

When should one consult a doctor?

Food poisoning is mostly self-limiting and usually resolves without treatment within a few days in most people. Promptly replacing lost fluids by drinking lots of fluids or oral rehydration mixture and getting plenty of rest can help recover from food poisoning. Consult the doctor under following conditions:

Vomiting even liquid food
Severe or worsening diarrhea
Severe dehydration
Blood in stools
High fever
Vomiting for more than 12 hours in young children
What are the tests involved in the diagnosis of food poisoning?

Food poisoning is diagnosed from a detailed health history, physical examination and signs of the disease. Since most episodes of food poisoning are not severe and resolve within a few days without treatment, diagnostic tests are rarely pursued. Blood test and stool culture can help confirm the diagnosis and identify the causative organism. Blood tests can help diagnose bacterial or parasitic infection. For the stool analysis, a stool sample collected in a clean container is sent to the laboratory for microscopic examination and other tests.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How Restaurants Can Make You Sick

Bad food has nothing to do with it
In new stomach-turning news, a gastroenteritis-causing virus could be lurking on restaurant silverware and dishes—even if they’ve been washed, according to a new study published online on PLOS ONE.

To “simulate a worst-case scenario,” researchers at the Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science infused cream cheese and reduced fat milk—both of which are difficult to properly clean off of tableware—with disease-causing murine norovirus (MNV-1), Escherichia coli (E. coli K-12), and Listeria innocua (L. innocua). They then coated ceramic plates, forks, and drinking glasses with the infectious mixture and put them all through either a mechanical wash or a hand wash.

The good news? Both washing methods reduced bacterial cells E. coli and L. innocua enough to meet safety standards, though using a dishwasher was slightly more effective than hand washing. But before you head to your nearest restaurant to celebrate, take note: Norovirus particles survived both washing techniques and were not significantly reduced by either wash method.

“Norovirus is the leading cause of about 90% of epidemic gastroenteritis,” says Donna Duberg, assistant professor of Clinical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University. The danger: “Gastroenteritis is a pretty uncomfortable disorder—it causes nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea that lasts for days.” Plus, it’s not easy to get over and is very easily spread, she says.

But it isn’t necessarily a restaurant’s fault if norovirus particles remain on tableware. Food itself can act as a barrier, protecting the bacteria and viruses from cleaning products and heat, says Duberg. And milk products—like the ones used in the study—can neutralize cleaning products, making them less effective, she says.

But don’t stress: This doesn’t mean you should swear off restaurants altogether. “The idea that we’re going to ‘kill’ things [bacteria and/or viruses] is probably a little far-fetched,” says Duberg. “What we’re doing is trying to reduce the number of germs to a level that our bodies can handle—one we can clear with our defense system.”

While we have little control over what a restaurant does behind closed doors, there are a handful of things to consider before you place your order. Here, Duberg’s tips on how to stay as germ-free as possible while dining out.

Follow your nose. A restaurant should smell good. “It shouldn’t smell dirty or contaminated,” she says. “The bathrooms should smell fresh and clean and not have a heavy odor of air fresheners that are covering up dirty odors,” Duberg says. So if you smell anything other than the delicious food that’s cooking, it might be time to try a new spot.

Take a look around. Any clean establishment will look tidy and demonstrate prudent cleaning habits. “There shouldn’t be sticky tables,” Duberg says. “That’s where bacteria is going to breed, and where bacteria breed, viruses are right behind them.” And take note of the color of the cloths employees use to wipe down the tables. They should be white and clean, and buckets of water should be clear. Also, be aware of whether or not your server is sniffling or has a runny nose, she suggests.

Inspect the utensils. Your silverware and tableware shouldn’t have remnants of a past meal. Silverware should also come wrapped in clean napkins. Plus, serving utensils shouldn’t be transferred from one dish—and one person—to another, says Duberg.

Know when to stay in. “If your immune system is low—if you’re stressed, or had a cold, for example—you can handle less bacteria and viruses effectively,” Duberg says. In this case, you might not want to expose your weakened system to germs that might make you get sick all over again. Plus, you don’t want to be the person responsible for contaminating anyone else, do you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How Dirty Is Restaurant Silverware?

Here’s The Scoop On Whether That Fork Is Really Clean
Even if you’re a die-hard germaphobe — you Purell your hands all day at work, you use your knuckles (rather than your fingertips) to steady yourself on the subway, and you would never dream of getting on that cycle at the gym without wiping it down first — you probably don’t think much about how dirty restaurant silverware is. You know, the silverware you not only touch with your bare hands, but use to scoop up food and put directly into your mouth. Have we clean freaks perhaps been overlooking the dirtiest item of them all?

If you’re giving the forks at your favorite cafe the side eye now, don’t worry — you’re not just being paranoid. There are plenty of reasons to be a bit cautious about what we put in our mouths. Researchers at Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science conducted studies proving that odds are high that a gastroenteritis-causing virus is present on all public silverware, even after they’ve been washed and dried. But before you panic and swear off dining out forever, take a breath. Donna Duberg, assistant professor at Clinical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University, told Women’s Health that this all sounds scarier than it is. She notes that it’s not realistic to think we can kill off all the bacteria and viruses in the world. We just have to learn how to reduce the number of germs that are entering our system.

So how filthy is your brunch fork, really? Read on to find out, and learn what you can do to prevent restaurant germs from ruining your life (or your evening).

Just How Dirty Is Your Restaurant Silverware?

The Ohio State study found that it didn’t matter whether silverware was hand-washed or run through a dishwasher; the murine norovirus (MNV-1) — which is the cause of 90 percent of epidemic gastroenteritis cases — lived on. Although the plates and cutlery put through the machine came out a tad cleaner, they still held remnants of the nasty stuff. The study claimed that norovirus, Escherichia coli (E. coli K12) and Listeria innocua were left on the cutlery, ceramic dishes and drinking glasses after washing, too. Those names look scarier than they actually are — not everyone who comes into contact with the norovirus instantly becomes ill — but they do pose a threat to your immune system.

So why doesn’t washing remove all the germs on silverware? Dairy food items (especially dense ones like cream cheese) cause the germs to stick around longer. Along with some other foods, milk products act as a barrier between silverware and cleaning products, neutralizing the powers of soap and disinfectants. Even if the restaurant is following cleanliness protocol to the highest standards, things like this simply can’t be helped.

Do We Notice When Our Forks Are Filthy?
Last year, a Consumer Reports survey interviewed over one thousand individuals, asking for the feedback on the cleanliness of the restaurants they visit most often. Dirty utensils were the number one issue that restaurant patrons complained about — 76 percent of respondents said the forks, spoons, and knives were not up to acceptable standards. While this research didn’t touch on the specifics of the germs that appear on your silverware, it did prove that this is a real issue in the food industry.

It also doesn’t take much effort to find online forums run by folks who have worked in the restaurant biz before, who cart around a whole cutlery set in the trunk of their car in order to avoid using the silverware offered by the servers. This is obviously extreme, but it does point to the fact that we’re becoming more and more aware of the potential funk that is leftover on that fork. Strangely enough, though, a study conducted by Harris Interactive found that only 25 percent of customers would actually speak up to management about such an incident. The same study found that the 75 percent of folks who said they would complain were only somewhat likely to call over their server.

Does This Germ Exposure Have Lasting Effects?
Typically, when we tangle with a dirty restaurant fork or spoon, our body simply learns to process the germs; Duberg says we have incredible germ defense systems that are built to protect us from such unexpected substances. So, no need to stress too much — a dirty restaurant fork isn’t fatal.

Of course, if you do end up catching the norovirus, the gastroenteritis disorder that it causes is anything but pleasant. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea — for days. It’s not easy to get over and, even worse, it’s extremely contagious. But Duberg says this is a worst-case scenarioand the odds this will happen to you aren’t that high. If you’re feeling at all under the weather, avoid eating out; your immune system is vulnerable, and if you go in already susceptible to germs, you could get sick more easily.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned with the silverware we’re given when we’re feeling well, which brings us to the final point…

Can You Do Anything To Avoid Dirty Cutlery?
A little common sense goes a long, long way on this front. If you walk into a hole in the wall restaurant that feels grimy and is emitting some serious smells, think twice before you sit down and lick your fork clean. Duberg suggests you find somewhere else to eat if you enter a restaurant and can smell the bathroom more easily than you can the food itself. Examine the tables, too — if the tops are sticky, don’t be afraid to ask your server to wipe it down before she brings out the cutlery and plates. Bacteria thrives on surfaces that aren’t properly cleaned, and where bacteria live, viruses follow. You definitely don’t want your silverware anywhere near that kind of tabletop.

Also take note of what materials the server is using to clean everything. If the rag they’re using to wipe tables down is clearly gnarly and full of dark stains, you have a right to ask them to grab a new one, as they’re taking care of exposed surfaces. One of the reasons we don’t normally speak up as customers is because we don’t want to be a pain, especially if we’ve worked in food service before. But you can ask in a friendly way so you don’t come off as the jerky customer everyone will gossip about in the back of the kitchen — and don’t have to deal with unnecessary germs while you chow down, either.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sanitation of breweries

When brewing, one of the most important things a brewer have to do is assure the equipment and facility they are using is as sterile as possible. Nothing is more devastating than having to scrap an entire batch because bacteria and microbes have spoiled a batch.
Throughout the history of brewing, a variety of chemicals and processes is being used to mitigate the exposure of contaminants. Many of those chemicals that are being used are caustic, and downright dangerous if not handled correctly. Residuals may taint the brew and change color, taste, and even stability. Ecolox has the answer. Ecolox is a sanitizer that you make on demand.

Ecolox or Neutral Electrolyzed Water is the result of a process known as electrolysis. Although it seems remarkable, it is fairly simple chemistry. Tap water is passed into a chamber that contains multiple chambers some with a positive electrical, the others with a negative charge. The total charge is between is very low.

Chloride ions are migrated into the positively charged chambers as sodium ions are migrated into the chamber with the negative charge. In the positively charged chamber, chloride ions, which are naturally negatively charged, are attracted to the positive charge and are converted to HOCl or hypochlorous acid at a pH between 6 and 7.

In the negatively charged chamber, sodium ions, which are naturally positively charged, are attracted to the negative charge and are converted into sodium hydroxide at a pH of between 11.5 and 12.5. The hypochlorous acid is a powerful sanitizer; the sodium hydroxide is a grease cutter and detergent.

The Ecolox technology converts ordinary tap water into a very efficient disinfectant with mild cleaning properties.  the solution is a disinfectant and cleaner known as hypochlorous acid which has been clinically proven to be 200% more powerful at 80 ppm than chlorine bleach at 300 ppm.

The most interesting part of this technology is you make it on-site, when and where you need it for only fraction of the price of chlorine.

We would be happy to talk to you about this innovation and how it can save you and your organization time, money, and frustration.

Please contact us at 954-900-6070 or
More information can be found on our website

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Controlling Salmonella cross-contamination in tomatoes

Tomato Best Management Practices require Florida packers to treat tomatoes in a flume system containing at least 150 ppm of free chlorine or other approved sanitizer.

tomato.traceabilityHowever, research is needed to determine the ability of these sanitizers to prevent the transfer of pathogens from contaminated to uncontaminated tomatoes, particularly under realistic packinghouse conditions.

The goal of this research was to assess the minimum levels of sanitizer needed to prevent Salmonella cross-contamination between tomatoes in a model flume system under clean conditions and conditions where organic matter was added.

Inoculated tomatoes (ca. 8.3 log CFU per tomato) were treated along with uninoculated tomatoes in a model flume system containing 0, 10, or 25 ppm of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) under organic loading conditions of 0, 500, or 4,000 ppm of chemical oxygen demand (COD). In the absence of HOCl, uninoculated tomatoes were highly contaminated (ca. 5 log CFU per tomato) by 15 s. No contamination was detectable (

log CFU per tomato) on uninoculated tomatoes when HOCl was present, except with 10 ppm at 4,000 ppm of COD, suggesting failure of 10 ppm of HOCl as a sanitizer under very high organic loading conditions. In the presence of HOCl or peroxyacetic acid, Salmonella was undetectable (

Further validation in a larger commercial setting and using higher organic loading levels is necessary because managing HOCl at this low concentration is difficult, especially in a recirculating system. The use of less sanitizer by packers could reduce chemical and disposal costs.

Control of Salmonella Cross-Contamination between Green Round Tomatoes in a Model Flume System

Implementing Ecolox 240 or Ecolox 1200 in your flume system will prevent the cross contamination between tomatoes and maintain a more healthy environment for workers!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vomiting bug from Asia threatens global wave of gastro outbreaks

SYDNEY — A virus that caused a spate of vomiting and diarrhea in Asia last winter appears to be spreading globally, threatening larger outbreaks of gastro infections that are a bane of luxury cruises.

The new strain of norovirus known as GII.17 that emerged in southern China has the potential to spread widely because people will probably lack immunity to it, researchers in Japan said Thursday. That means the bug, which kills about 800 people in an average year in the U.S., could sicken hundreds of millions of people worldwide as the highly contagious disease is transmitted by infected food and people.

“We know that noroviruses are able to rapidly spread around the globe,” scientists from 16 countries wrote in a paper accompanying the Japanese research. “The public health community and surveillance systems need to be prepared in case of a potential increase of norovirus activity in the next seasons” caused by this novel strain.

Norovirus made headlines last month when an outbreak of gastroenteritis on Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines’ flagship vessel, the Balmoral, sickened “hundreds” of people in Scandinavia, prompting the cancellation of a subsequent three-night cruise from England. A gastro outbreak occurred on the same ship the previous month, the Daily Mail newspaper reported. Norovirus was the culprit, the Ipswich, U.K.-based company said in a June 12 statement on its website.

Norovirus infections, sometimes called “stomach flu” or “winter vomiting disease,” usually occur in winter. An increase in the frequency of outbreaks on cruise ships over summer can predict a greater incidence in the community next winter, said Marion Koopmans, a professor of public health virology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in an interview Friday.

Outbreaks on cruise ships are especially noticeable because the contained environment and shared dining areas allows the disease to spread quickly — more than 80 per cent of passengers can be affected, according to the World Health Organization. But the vast majority of epidemics actually occur on land.

Like flu, new strains emerge as the virus mutates, but while flu typically mutates quickly, new norovirus bugs tend to emerge only every two to four years, often leading to gastroenteritis pandemics that send hundreds of thousands of people to hospital.

“What this could mean is that we’re looking at the emergence of a new genotype,” said Koopmans, who was a co- author of one of the two papers published last week. The new GII.17 virus could replace GII.4 to become the dominant strain circulating in other parts of the world, she said.

There is no specific medicine to treat the infection. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., based in Osaka, Japan, has the most advanced vaccine in development. Scientists will need to study whether it will work against the new strain, Koopmans said.

Cases of GII.17 have been detected in the U.S., South America, Europe and Africa, Koopmans and colleagues wrote.

Infected food workers are frequently the source of norovirus outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants, according to the CDC. As few as 18 viral particles on food or hands can make someone sick, which means the amount of norovirus on the head of a pin would be enough to infect more than 1,000 people.

That’s made it the bane of luxury cruise lines. The CDC has reported nine outbreaks on cruises already this year among vessels it monitors, compared with eight in 2014 and eight in 2013.

Preventing the introduction of gastrointestinal illness is one of the cruise industries’ top priorities, the Cruise Lines International Association says on its website. Members take steps to prevent sick passengers from bringing norovirus on board and if an outbreak does occur, work to mitigate its spread and treat those who are ill, the Washington-based group says.

“The cruise ships have gone to long lengths to make sure that gastroenteritis outbreaks are contained,” said Martyn Kirk, an associate professor in the college of medicine, biology and environment at the Australian National University in Canberra. “They’ve got quite slick at making sure people stay in their rooms, that ships are disinfected between cruises.”

Norovirus causes 19 million to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis a year in the U.S., leads to 400,000 emergency department visits, and about 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and as many as 800 deaths, mostly among young children and the elderly, the CDC says.

“For many people, it is a nuisance,” Koopmans said. “You have two days of vomiting, diarrhea, and then that’s it. The majority of cases have a fairly mild disease course.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The importance of pure drinking water and recommendations to optimize hydration

The importance of high quality drinking water is vastly understated. Compromising approximately 75 percent of the body, water is found both inside and outside the cells and is the basis of all body fluids including blood, lymph, saliva, digestive juices, urine, and perspiration. Therefore, an unadulterated source of pure drinking water and learning how to optimize hydration is one of the most fundamentally important things one can do for their health.

Water’s role in the body
Since water is the regulator of all the body’s functions, it is equated with life. It is the main source of energy transport for every cell in the body, conducting electrical and magnetic energy that supplies the power to live.

Water also facilitates energizing the skin’s many photo-sensitive and energy-sensitive nerve endings that receive and transmit signals, making them more responsive and enhancing the skin’s vitality. It also protects both the skin and mucous membrane barrier functions and acts as an antioxidant by flushing oxidants and other toxins out through the kidneys. In addition, the sinuses drain better when they are well hydrated and their mucous membrane is more resistant to infection.

One must also consider that the brain is made up of 80 percent water. Severe dehydration can lead to the inability to think clearly, and in severe cases, mental derangement.

Conditions and habits related to dehydration
According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, most people unknowingly suffer from chronic dehydration. This condition contributes to toxic overload in the body, which can lead to a hyperactive immune system and cause or contribute to a variety of diseases, including:

• Arthritis
• Asthma
• Colitis
• Depression
• Diabetes
• Dyspeptic ulcer
• Duodenitis
• Gastritis
• Heartburn
• Headaches
• High blood pressure
• High Cholesterol
• Low back pain
• Neck pain
• Osteoporosis
• Kidney problems

Instead of water, most people drink alcohol, coffee, non-herbal teas, soda, and other caffeine-containing beverages. These liquids tend to further exacerbate the dehydration, making it much worse.

Recommendations for optimal hydration
According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, the body needs an absolute minimum of 6 to 8 glasses a day. Other sources suggest up to half your body weight in pounds should be consumed in ounces of water on a daily basis. For someone who weighs 160 pounds, that’s 80 ounces (10 glasses) of pure water on a daily basis.

The best time to drink water is first thing in the morning to wake up the digestive system from its dehydrated and contracted state, and 30 minutes before each meal. Water should be avoided during meals so as to not interfere with stomach acid and proper digestion. It should also be consumed around room temperature, save exceptionally hot days where extra cooling of the body may be required.

Since tap water all too often contains a variety of unhealthy contaminants, including microorganisms, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, and other impurities it is recommended that this water be filtered to remove these harmful impurities.

Water is available in a wide variety of formats. Some of the most common ways people consume it is through bottled water and filtering units such as reverse osmosis and alkaline water systems. Each of these ways has varying levels of convenience, purity, and minerals, and the benefits and drawbacks should be closely considered with each before choosing.

Source: Natural News

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Simple elixir called a ‘miracle liquid’

It’s a kitchen degreaser. It’s a window cleaner. It kills athlete’s foot. Oh, and you can drink it.

Sounds like the old “Saturday Night Live” gag for Shimmer, the faux floor polish plugged by Gilda Radner. But the elixir is real. It has been approved by U.S. regulators. And it’s starting to replace the toxic chemicals Americans use at home and on the job.

The stuff is a simple mixture of table salt and tap water whose ions have been scrambled with an electric current. Researchers have dubbed it electrolyzed water — hardly as catchy as Mr. Clean. But at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica, some hotel workers are calling it el liquido milagroso — the miracle liquid.

That’s as good a name as any for a substance that scientists say is powerful enough to kill anthrax spores without harming people or the environment.

Used as a sanitizer for decades in Russia and Japan, it’s slowly winning acceptance in the United States. A New York poultry processor uses it to kill salmonella on chicken carcasses. Minnesota grocery clerks spray sticky conveyors in the checkout lanes. Michigan jailers mop with electrolyzed water to keep potentially lethal cleaners out of the hands of inmates.

In Santa Monica, the once-skeptical Sheraton housekeeping staff has ditched skin-chapping bleach and pungent ammonia for spray bottles filled with electrolyzed water to clean toilets and sinks.

“I didn’t believe in it at first because it didn’t have foam or any scent,” said housekeeper Flor Corona. “But I can tell you it works. My rooms are clean.”

Management likes it too. The mixture costs less than a penny a gallon. It cuts down on employee injuries from chemicals. It reduces shipping costs and waste because hotel staffers prepare the elixir on site. And it’s helping the Sheraton Delfina tout its environmental credentials to guests.

The hotel’s kitchen staff recently began disinfecting produce with electrolyzed water. They say the lettuce lasts longer. They’re hoping to replace detergent in the dishwasher. Management figures the payback time for the $10,000 electrolysis machine will be less than a year.

“It’s green. It saves money. And it’s the right thing to do,” said Glenn Epstein, executive assistant at the Sheraton Delfina. “It’s almost like fantasy.”

Actually, it’s chemistry. For more than two centuries, scientists have tinkered with electrolysis, the use of an electric current to bring about a chemical reaction (not the hair-removal technique of the same name that’s popular in Beverly Hills). That’s how we got metal electroplating and large-scale production of chlorine, used to bleach and sanitize.

It turns out that zapping salt water with low-voltage electricity creates a couple of powerful yet nontoxic cleaning agents. Sodium ions are converted into sodium hydroxide, an alkaline liquid that cleans and degreases like detergent, but without the scrubbing bubbles. Chloride ions become hypochlorous acid, a potent disinfectant known as acid water.

“It’s 10 times more effective than bleach in killing bacteria,” said Yen-Con Hung, a professor of food science at the University of Georgia-Griffin, who has been researching electrolyzed water for more than a decade. “And it’s safe.”

There are drawbacks.

Electrolyzed water loses its potency fairly quickly, so it can’t be stored long. Machines are pricey and geared mainly for industrial use. The process also needs to be monitored frequently for the right strength.

Then there’s the “magic water” hype that has accompanied electrolyzed drinking water. A number of companies sell so-called ionizers for home use that can range from about $600 to more than $3,000. The alkaline water, proponents say, provides health benefits.

But Richard Wullaert, a Santa Barbara consultant, said consumers should be careful.

“Some of these people are making claims that will get everybody in trouble,” said Wullaert, whose nonprofit Functional Water Society is spreading the word about electrolyzed water. “It’s time for some serious conferences with serious scientists to give this credibility.”

Most of the growth has happened outside the United States.

Russians are putting electrolyzed water down oil wells to kill pesky microbes. Europeans use it to treat burn victims. Electrolyzing equipment is helping to sanitize drinking water in parts of Latin American and Africa.

It’s big in Japan. People there spray it on sushi to kill bacteria and fill their swimming pools with it, eliminating the need for harsh chlorine. Doctors use it to sterilize equipment and treat foot fungus and bedsores. It’s the secret weapon in Sanyo Electric Corp.’s “soap-less” washing machine.

Now Sanyo is bent on cleaning up Japan’s taxis with a tiny air purifier that fits into a car’s cup holder. The device uses electrolyzed water to shield passengers from an unwelcome byproduct of Japan’s binge-drinking business culture: vomit.

“There was some concern about the spreading of viruses and bacteria via the taxi, not to mention the . . . stinky smells,” Sanyo spokesman Aaron Fowles said.

Sanyo’s taxi air washer isn’t yet available in the U.S.; commuters will have to hold their noses for now. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have approved electrolyzed water for a variety of uses.

PuriCore of Malvern, Pa., and Oculus Innovative Sciences of Petaluma, Calif., have developed treatments for chronic wounds. Albuquerque, N.M.-based MIOX Corp. sells municipal water-purifying systems. EAU Technologies Inc. of Kennesaw, Ga., caters to both ends of a dairy cow, with alkaline water to aid the animal’s digestion and acid water to clean up its manure.

Integrated Environmental Technologies Inc. of Little River, S.C., is working with oil companies to keep wells free of bacteria and with high schools to sanitize sweaty wrestling mats and grungy football equipment that spread skin infections.

Electrolyzer Corp. of Woburn, Mass., is going after the hospitality market. The Sheraton Delfina purchased one of its machines. So has the Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Trump International Beach Resort near Miami.

Patrick Lucci, Electrolyzer’s vice president of marketing, likes to bombard prospects with scientific studies, then give ’em the old razzle-dazzle. He’ll swig the processed salt water before he mops the floor with it.

“Try that with bleach,” he said.

The unit in Santa Monica looks a little like an oversized water heater, with two tanks side by side — one for making the hypochlorous acid sanitizer, the other for the sodium hydroxide cleanser.

Rebecca Jimenez, director of housekeeping, heard grumbling from the cleaning staff when the hotel brought the machine in last fall. Housekeepers doubted that the flat, virtually odorless liquids were really doing the job. Some poured the guest shampoos into their bottles to work up a lather.

“If it doesn’t suds up, it doesn’t work,” Jimenez said. “That’s the mentality.”

Still, she said, most have come around and are enjoying working without fumes and peeling skin.

Minnesota food scientist Joellen Feirtag said she was similarly skeptical. So she installed an electrolysis unit in her laboratory and began researching the technology. She found that the acid water killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria and other nasty pathogens. Yet it was gentle enough to soothe her children’s sunburns and acne.

She’s now encouraging food processors to take a look at electrolyzed water to help combat the disease outbreaks that have roiled the industry. Most are dubious.

“This sounds too good to be true, which is really the biggest problem,” said Feirtag, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. “But it’s only a matter of time before this becomes mainstream.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

FDA issues proposed rule to address data gaps for certain active ingredients in health care antiseptics

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a proposed rule requesting additional scientific data to support the safety and effectiveness of certain active ingredients used in health care antiseptics marketed under the over-the-counter drug monograph.

“Health care antiseptics are an important component of infection control strategies in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings, and remain a standard of care to prevent illness and the spread of infection,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “The FDA recommends that health care personnel continue to use these products consistent with infection control guidelines while additional data are gathered.”

Health care antiseptics are primarily used by health care professionals in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, outpatient settings and nursing homes. They include hand washes and rubs, surgical hand scrubs and rubs (with or without water), and patient preoperative skin preparations, including pre-injection preparations. The most common active ingredients in health care antiseptics marketed under the over-the-counter drug monograph include alcohol and iodines. These products are different from consumer antiseptics, such as antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizer rubs, which are not part of this proposed rule.

Based on new scientific information and concerns expressed by outside scientific and medical experts on an FDA advisory committee, the agency is requesting additional scientific data to demonstrate that health care antiseptics in the over-the-counter drug monograph are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) for their intended use to reduce bacteria that potentially can cause disease. The FDA’s request for more safety and effectiveness data for health care antiseptic active ingredients should not be taken to mean the FDA believes that these products are ineffective or unsafe.

Since the FDA began review of health care antiseptics in the 1970s, many things have changed, including the frequency of use of some of these products, hospital infection control practices, new technology that can detect low levels of antiseptics in the body, the FDA’s safety standards and the scientific knowledge about the impact of widespread antiseptic use.

Emerging science also suggests that for at least some health care antiseptic active ingredients, systemic exposure (full body exposure as shown by detection of antiseptic ingredients in the blood or urine) is higher than previously thought, and existing data raise potential concerns about the effects of repeated daily human exposure to some antiseptic active ingredients. The FDA is particularly interested in gathering additional data on the long-term safety of daily, repeated exposure to these ingredients in the health care setting and on the use of these products by certain populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding health care workers, for which topical absorption of the active ingredients may be important.

“Today health care professionals use antiseptic products much more frequently than they used to, in some cases up to 100 times a day,” said Theresa Michele, M.D., director of CDER’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products. “Today’s proposal seeks to ensure the FDA’s evaluations and determinations for all health care antiseptic active ingredients are consistent, up-to-date and appropriately reflect current scientific knowledge and patterns of use by health care professionals.”

The proposed rule does not require any health care antiseptic products to be removed from the market at this time. Instead, it requires manufacturers who want to continue marketing health care antiseptic products under the monograph to provide the FDA with additional data on the active ingredients’ safety and effectiveness, including data to evaluate absorption, potential hormonal effects and development of bacterial resistance. Once the proposed rule is finalized, ingredients for which adequate safety and effectiveness data have been provided would continue to be available.

The proposed rule will be available for public comment for 180 days. Concurrently, companies will have one year to submit new data and information, followed by a 60-day rebuttal comment period. The FDA will then evaluate all the data and comments that were received in response to this proposal to make a final determination regarding GRASE status for each active ingredient.  The FDA’s final determination will be published as a final rule (final monograph).

Today’s action is part of the FDA’s larger, ongoing review of monograph antiseptic active ingredients to ensure these ingredients are proven to be safe and effective. This proposed rule does not affect health care antiseptics approved under the New Drug Application process, consumer antiseptic products (consumer antibacterial soaps) or consumer hand sanitizers.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by helping to ensure the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for helping to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Food borne Disease

Botulism suspected in 24-case church outbreak in Ohio

Suspected botulism has sickened 24 people and killed 1 after a potluck lunch at a Lancaster, Ohio, church, Reuters reported today.

Fifty to 60 people attended the lunch on April 19 at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church, and outbreak patients started getting sick on Apr 21, said Jennifer Valentine, a spokeswoman for the Fairfield (County) Department of Health.

She said health officials are still testing to confirm botulism and are trying to determine what food might have caused the outbreak. Botulism, which is caused by the botulinum toxin produced byClostridium bacteria, can result from low-acid home-canned foods such as beans that have not been canned properly. On average, 145 US cases are reported each year, and 15% are foodborne, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease is not contagious.

The CDC sent a “large quantity” of botulism antitoxin overnight, and health officials were giving it to people showing symptoms, the story said.

Apr 22 Reuters story

California notes multistate Salmonella outbreak possibly tied to sushi
California health officials are tracking a Salmonella Paratyphi outbreak possibly linked to sushi that involves 25 confirmed cases.

Eighteen of the patients live in California and seven live elsewhere, Ventura County Public Health said Apr 20 in a news release. Seven of the California cases are in Los Angeles County, 4 in Orange County, 4 in Ventura County, 2 in Riverside County, and 1 in Santa Barbara County. Most of the seven out-of-state patients had traveled to Southern California, the release said.

Twenty percent of patients required hospitalization. As of Apr 17, all 10 patients who completed a detailed food questionnaire said they had recently eaten sushi, most of them eating raw tuna. The news release did not specify when patients first got sick.

The California Department of Public Health (CDHP) first notified Ventura County of the outbreak on Apr 9. The outbreak strain “had never been seen in animals or humans before March 2015,” the release said, but the CDPH noted that a closely related strain was responsible for a salmonellosis outbreak in California and Hawaii in 2010. That outbreak was linked to raw tuna imported from Indonesia.

Apr 20 Ventura County Public Health news release

Airborne norovirus genomes detected in hospitals during outbreaks

Infective aerosolized human norovirus genomes can remain suspended in the air of healthcare facilities both inside and outside of infected patients’ rooms, say the findings of a study published yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The evidence lends credence to earlier suggestions that the disease may be transmissible not only through direct contact with infected patients, their fecal matter, their vomitus, or contaminated surfaces, but also through inhalation of aerosolized virus.

During norovirus outbreaks in eight Quebec City–area healthcare facilities, the Canadian researchers took air samples from patient rooms (1 meter from the patient), just outside patient rooms, and at corresponding nurses’ stations. In addition, they tested murine norovirus MNV-1, used as a surrogate for norovirus GII in an aerosol chamber to determine whether the stress of aerosolization compromised the virus’s infectivity.

Norovirus genomes were found in 23 of 48 air samples from 6 of the 8 healthcare facilities; the breakdown of locations was 14 positive samples of 26 (54%) in patient rooms, 6 of 16 (38%) in hallways, and 3 of 6 (50%) at nurses’ stations.

In addition, the infectivity and integrity of norovirus MNV-1 was found to be preserved in the in vitro aerosol studies.

The authors conclude, “Although norovirus is an intestinal pathogen, noroviruses could be transmitted through the airborne route and subsequently could, if inhaled, settle in the pharynx and later be swallowed.” They point out that several processes could lead to aerosolization, including toilet flushing and vomiting, and that healthcare workers could act as vectors for the aerosolized droplets.

Apr 21 Clin Infect Dis abstract

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Are alcohol based hand sanitizers any good?

Erwin Duizer, PhDnorovirus
Head of section Enteric Viruses
Centre for Infectious Diseases Control
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
The Netherlands

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Duizer: Hand hygiene is important for interrupting the transmission chain of viruses through hands. Alcohol-based hand disinfectants are widely used in hospitals and healthcare facilities, due to convenience, rapidity, and broad acceptance by healthcare personnel. The effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectant has been shown for bacteria and enveloped viruses but their effectiveness in reducing transmission of non-enveloped viruses, such as norovirus, is less certain. Therefore we tested, in a joint project of the RIVM and Wageningen University, the virucidal activity of a propanol based product and an ethanol based product in quantitative carrier tests. Additionally, the virus reducing effect of hand washing (according to health care guidelines) and the use the propanol based product was tested in a quantitative finger pad test.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Duizer: With the quantitative carrier test we found that the virucidal effect of the ethanol and propanol based products against the non-enveloped noroviruses, enteroviruses, parechoviruses and adenoviruses was limited; after 3 min still 1% or more was left infectious. The propanol based product performed slightly better than the ethanol based product, with good activity, within 30 s, against rotavirus and influenzavirus.

The average virus reduction from finger pads was close to 3log10 (ie from 100% to 0.1%) for the propanol based products, but a transferable quantity of virus could still be detected on 5 out of 12 fingers. After hand washing with water and soap, no virus was detected on any of the finger pads.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Duizer: Often, the use of alcohol based hand hygiene products will contribute to reduced spread of many pathogens, including bacteria, enveloped viruses and rotavirus. However, many non-enveloped viruses such as noroviruses and enteroviruses, are quite resistant to alcohols and may require strict hand washing to prevent transmission.


Reducing viral contamination from finger pads: handwashing is more effective than alcohol-based hand disinfectants, by Tuladhar et al.
Journal of Hospital Infection Published Online: April 09, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Can humans get norovirus from their dogs?

Human norovirus may infect our canine companions, according to research published online April 1 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. That raises the possibility of dog-to-human transmission, said first author Sarah Caddy, VetMB, PhD, MRCVS, a veterinarian and PhD student at the University of Cambridge, and Imperial College, London, UK. Norovirus is the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The research showed that some dogs can mount an immune response to human norovirus, said Caddy, who will be a junior research fellow at the University of Cambridge, beginning in August. “This strongly suggests that these dogs have been infected with the virus. We also confirmed that that human norovirus can bind to the cells of the canine gut, which is the first step required for infection of cells.”

Caddy and collaborators performed the latter research using non-infectious human norovirus particles, which consist solely of the virus’ outer protein, called the capsid. The capsid is the part of the virus that binds to host cells. By itself, it is non-infectious because it lacks genetic material. (The non-infectious capsid is the basis for a new norovirus vaccine which is being tested in clinical trials, said Caddy).

Nonetheless, it is not clear just how much of a problem canine infection and transmission may represent for humans, said Caddy. Despite dogs’ apparent susceptibility, the investigators failed to find norovirus in canine stool samples, including those from dogs with diarrhea. They found it in serum samples of only about one seventh of 325 dogs tested.

Additionally, it is not yet known whether human norovirus can cause clinical disease in dogs Assuming that dogs become infected with human norovirus as per this study, it also remains unknown whether they could shed the virus in quantities sufficient to infect humans—although clinical investigators have estimated that as few as 18 virus particles can cause human infection.

Moreover, it is yet to be determined whether dogs play a role in the epidemiology of some outbreaks of human norovirus. Some of the biggest outbreaks occur in places from which dogs are absent, such as on cruise ships and in hospitals.

Norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, is extremely contagious among humans. It infects 19-21 million Americans annually—more than six percent of the US population—according to the CDC. Those infections may result in as many as 71,000 hospitalizations, and 800 deaths.

The impetus for the study came from her veterinary practice, and her status as a dog owner, said Caddy. “As a small animal veterinarian, I am often asked by dog owners if they might be able to pass infections onto their dogs, or if their dogs are contagious to them,” said Caddy. “There are plenty of anecdotal cases of dogs and humans in the same household, having simultaneous gastroenteritis, but very little rigorous scientific research is conducted in this area.”

Ecolox products eliminates the spread of Human Norovirus though food and water

“Until more definitive data is available, sensible hygiene precautions should be taken around pets, especially when gastroenteritis in either humans or dogs is present in a household,” said Caddy.

More information: The full study can be found here:

Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Microbiology

Provided by American Society for Microbiology

Friday, May 29, 2015

Remember Food Safety When Firing Up The Grill

With warmer weather on the way, many barbecue fans will be firing up their grill. Summer is typically a time of creating fun-filled memories and delicious meals. However, if the meal is not prepared properly, it could be a source of foodborne disease.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service, foodborne illness peaks during the summer months, as harmful bacteria tend to grow faster in warmer, more humid weather.

Food safety isn’t just for the food manufacturing plants, it is important in the home as well, said Peter Muriana, food microbiologist for Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center.

“Everything we eat has some degree of foodborne illness risk associated with it,” Muriana said. “Generally, those people who practice good food-handling practices are less likely to acquire foodborne illness, but they are still not completely invulnerable to it. When consumers practice risky food-consumption practices and get away with it, there is often a sense that the caution was unwarranted, and they may continue those practices until someone gets sick.”

The following food safety tips should be kept in mind when preparing favorite, summertime meals.

Preparing foods for the grill:

Completely thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator before grilling, so it cooks evenly.

Never thaw raw meats on a countertop or in a sink. Thawing at room temperature increases the risk of bacteria growth at the surface of the meat, even though the interior may still be chilled.

Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter, where bacteria can multiply.
Discard leftover marinade. Do not use it on cooked foods as a dressing or dipping sauce because it could contain bacteria.

Do not use the same utensils, platters and basting brushes for both raw and cooked meat. Juices from the raw meat may contaminate cooked food.

Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing any food product.

Cooking food on the grill

Use a food thermometer to make certain the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Cook meat to proper temperatures by using the following internal temperature guide:

Beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145 degrees Fahrenheit (Allow 3 minutes to rest before consuming).

Ground meats—160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chicken—165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Picnic cookouts and barbecues

Keep foods, such as cooked hamburgers/hotdogs, condiments, cheese slices and others, covered with a clear cover or wrap to prevent flies from landing and spreading their germs.

Storing and eating leftovers

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator within two hours after cooking is complete.

Leftovers should be divided into smaller portions and stored in shallow, airtight containers. They should be eaten within three to four days.

If large amounts are left, consider freezing for later use. Do not wait until the leftovers have been in the refrigerator for several days to freeze. Frozen leftovers should be eaten within six months.

Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and never taste leftover foods that look or smell strange.

FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop and deliver technical and business information that will stimulate and support the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.