NEWS SCAN: Soda fountain contamination, H5N1 in Indonesia, FDA shuts seafood producer

Jan 11, 2010

Study finds coliform bacteria in soda fountain drinks
An analysis of beverages dispensed from fast-food soda fountains found that 48% of the samples contained coliform bacteria, with 20% exceeding the safety level set for drinking water, according to a report in the Jan 31 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology. The researchers collected 90 beverage samples (sugar sodas, diet sodas, and water) for microbiologic analysis from 30 fast-food restaurants around the Roanoke Valley, Va., area. They collected samples from 20 self-serve fountains and 10 fountains operated by restaurant staff. Investigators also observed customers using the soda fountains. None of the beverages was more likely than the others to exceed the drinking water standard, and no difference in contamination levels was found between the self-serve and staff-serve soda fountains. Only five (1.8%) customers were seen touching the dispenser nozzle, and 47 (16.7%) were observed refilling a used cup. The two most common microbes isolated from the samples were Escherichia coli and Chryseobacterium meningosepticum. The authors concluded that the dispensing nozzles and fittings could serve as a contamination link. To avoid gastrointestinal illnesses, particularly in immunocompromised patients, they recommended increasing surveillance of the machines and developing rules for periodic maintenance and disinfection.
Jan 2010 International Journal of Food Microbiology study

Indonesian child recovering from H5N1 infection
An official at a hospital in Indonesia's Riau province said a 4-year-old girl is recovering from an H5N1 avian influenza infection that was confirmed by the health ministry, the Jakarta Post reported today. She came down with a fever and breathing problems after she had contact with a dead backyard chicken, the official said. If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the girl's infection, it will be listed as Indonesia's 162nd H5N1 case. The girl is no longer on a respirator and can now eat and talk. The official said the hospital is also treating a 17-year-old boy who has a suspected H5N1 infection. He was moved to the hospital in serious condition and is in a coma and on a respirator. The hospital is awaiting lab test results. Officials haven't yet found a link to infected poultry. In late December Indonesia announced that it had 20 human H5N1 cases so far in 2009, of which 19 were fatal. The WHO has included the Indonesian cases in its yearly total, but has not issued a report on the illnesses.
Jan 12 Jakarta Post story

FDA shutters Maryland seafood company
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Jan 8 shut down a Maryland seafood processor and said it would not be allowed to resume operation until it has approved Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and sanitation plans. The firm, Congressional Seafood Co., based in Jessup, delivers fresh, frozen, and ready-to-eat seafood in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington, DC. The FDA cited the company for not following rules for handling raw, ready-to-eat tuna for sushi and sashimi, fresh and vacuum-packed crabmeat, frozen octopus and shrimp, and molluscan shellfish. The FDA said it has warned the company numerous times, but it did not say if any foodborne illnesses have been linked to the company's products.
Jan 8 FDA press release

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