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Bread identified as source of food poisoning at Hamamatsu schools

24 Comments

Health officials in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, have identified bread in school lunches as the cause of a food poisoning epidemic that sickened more than 1,100 students, teachers and staff at 17 schools on Wednesday and Thursday.

Officials and the local board of education said bread, baked by pastry maker Hofuku Co, had been delivered to all the schools in question, Fuji TV reported Saturday. The bread was baked last Monday and delivered to the schools on Tuesday.

After investigating 10 random bread samples, officials confirmed the origin of the contamination after it was discovered that a female employee working at the plant, who had simply touched a doorknob on her way to the restroom, transferred the norovirus G2 onto the bread.

The company has been ordered to suspend operations pending an inspection.

As of Friday afternoon, nine students and eight teachers had contracted the norovirus, Fuji reported. All the infected people suffered from diarrhea and vomiting.

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24 Comments
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Hello WORK!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I've had norovirus. It's very unpleasant, but a great way to lose weight! I lost five kilos in a week!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

More information, please. Anyone have news in Japanese? Something sounds very odd. Is this news implying that she touch many loafs of bread, with her dirty hands, after it was baked, each time transferring some of those 2 grams?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Been a huge boom in food-related problems here these past few months. Weird.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The virus was found on the doorknob of the toilet, and there was an employee who was sick and told not to report to work. Anyone who touched the knob would spread it. Also, when the bread is cooled it's placed all together in one box and then bagged, they think that this is how it was spread to so many pieces of bread.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It disgusts me that in an "advanced" country, industrial sized food manufacturers are not baking in a cleanroom environment.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Radioactive ground water contamination from Fukushima the culprit? When more provinces start reporting sickness then we will know.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The collective suffer for the benificial rewards of the whole,

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am finding it a little hard to believe this door knob reason. Its seems like a very hard to deduce path of contamination in a probably largish plant has been discovered very quickly. Perhaps, more like the company went on a witch hunt and some poor employee has had to fall on the sword in hope that they could continue production.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I could imagine the shock and upset that would have rippled through management if someone from the bread factory had decided to indulge in the luxury of calling in sick for work. Having noro virus has the most awful symptoms I can only imagine the commute to work and trying to actually work sick.

I really wish people would feel comfortable to stay away from work instead of doing the "honorable" thing and forcing yourself to come in at any consequence

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I am finding it a little hard to believe this door knob reason.

It's one of the most common places to pick up a virus.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I can understand that the restroom door may have been the source (awful germy things, don't ever touch them) but still can't understand how she infected enough bread to affect so many people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's not condemn the employee, nor the bakery. S*it happens everywhere. If they traced the virus to its source, that should be enough. Wipe the place clean and get on with life. Little nasties can't be 100% eliminated, especially in food production. If you think of yourself as healthy, when your co-workers might be sick and you don't show symptoms, it doesn't mean your breath is safe, it just means you're immune.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Aren't they all wearing hats, masks, and gloves? Door knobs are not necessary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Norovirus, as bad as it is, is not ebola. Odd story.

female employee working at the plant, who had simply touched a doorknob on her way to the restroom, transferred the norovirus G2 onto the bread.

That sounds really weird. Bread is not stored in refrigerated storage due to the rarity of contamination compared to that of nearly all kinds of food. If she had manipulated the ingredients or the dough, it was baked at high temp after, so no risk at that level. So I assume her task was cutting or packaging the bread. The baked bread can possibly be contaminated, just like any object and a door knob, but... Look at the odds. There are many HACCP documentation about this type of food. As bread is very dry and as it's probably industrial bread, it's loaded with preservatives. A small amount of virus or of other contamination has limited chances to stay on the surface, more limited chances to survive more than a few minutes and even less to proliferate greatly in only 2 days.

If they traced the virus to its source, that should be enough

No. It's big scale and unusual case. It's important to find out. A simple and quick hand contact contaminating one or two loaves over the day, maybe. And you'd get 5 sick persons. Here we get over 1000. Hundreds of loaves of the same batch being contaminated.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not sure why I get the thumbs down. I for one am glad I live in a country with proper food safety regulations, in both the mass production industry and at all stores/restaurants/etc that sell/make ANY food. Never had food poisoning in my life when at home.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

That's why in any food processing facility toilets should be all hands-free why are there doorknobs swinging doors or no doors at all and sensors that turn faucets for washing hands. don't employees have to wear plastic gloves and hats and masks so that Breonna food too. this is a lesson not just for one instance but for all public facilities training stations restaurants shouldn't have to touch anything

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Never had food poisoning in my life when at home.

Me neither. In fact I don't think I've heard of any mass outbreak of food poisoning since Typhoid Mary!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Currently a norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship. Norovirus outbreaks are common every year across the globe, many deaths too.. Hope everyone recovers soon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Knobs have always been a source of viral transmission.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is Japan, a "thorough" investigation was carried out, an excuse made, now will follow many apologies, much head bowing and possibly a sacrificial offering in the form of a firing. Source traced to a door knob? Yeah...right

The real issue of course is one of hygiene, or lack of it. Not unique to Japan of course, but look around when eating at many places like ramen shops....... those cooks wear rubber boots for a reason.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Me neither. In fact I don't think I've heard of any mass outbreak of food poisoning since Typhoid Mary!

Selective memory is a wonderful thing. "I haven't heard of" is very different from "it doesn't happen".

Mary Mallon died in 1938, and this list picks up 25 years later.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foodborne_illness_outbreaks_in_the_United_States

Some of the nastiest cases are very recent, like the 2011 listeriosis outbreak that originated in produce from Colorado, and the contamination of peanut butter with salmonella (2009). Multiple fatalities in both cases, and tens of thousands poisoned in one of them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

a food poisoning epidemic that sickened more than 1,100 students

And 17 students and teachers had norovirus. That source has been identified, so now, what made the other 1083 people sick, since they didn't test positive for norovirus?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Corrected link. I admit it. I'm incapable of remembering to link properly on JT.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foodborne_illness_outbreaks_in_the_United_States

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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