FOOD SAFETY SCAN: Eatery inspections and outbreaks, sprout E coli genetic analysis

Nov 2, 2012

Minnesota scientists find restaurant violations correlate with outbreaks
Restaurant food safety violations correlated well with outbreaks of foodborne disease in Minnesota, according to a study yesterday in the Journal of Food Protection. Minnesota researchers analyzed data collected during routine inspections at restaurants connected to outbreaks and those not connected to outbreaks. They found significantly more violations at outbreak restaurants, and they also identified 11 violations significantly more likely to be associated with outbreaks of norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella illnesses, which cause most US foodborne illness. They conclude, "This approach can help identify criteria more likely to be associated with outbreak locations and allow operators to focus on interventions that will have the most significant impact in higher risk establishments." The authors detailed their three-pathogen-focused tool in a separate report in the same journal.
Nov 1 J Food Prot study abstract
Nov 1 J Food Prot report abstract

Scientists identify 'nearest neighbor' to 2011 sprout E coli outbreak strain
A genomic analysis of the 2011 Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain traced to contaminated sprouts in Germany reveals that its "nearest neighbor" is a 2009 strain from the Republic of Georgia, according to a report in PLoS One yesterday. Differences between the two strains, however, indicate that the outbreak E coli strain probably didn't directly evolve from the older strain. Researchers from the United States and Georgia detailed the complete genomes of an isolate from the 2011 outbreak—which sickened more than 4,000 with enterohemorrhagic disease—and two isolates from cases of bloody diarrhea in Georgia in 2009. "Comparative genome analysis indicates that, while the Georgian strains are the nearest neighbors to the 2011 outbreak isolates sequenced to date, structural and nucleotide-level differences are evident" between the isolates, the authors wrote. The nucleotide-level differences probably occurred more than once since 2009, the authors conclude, or the outbreak strain may be the result of a recent reassortment.
Nov 1 PLoS One report

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