Botulinum toxin

Leaked docs show MOH woefully unprepared for Botulism outbreak

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Oh dear oh dear. Leaked documents showing Ministry of Health advice to Tony Ryall and Jo Goodhew over the Fonterra botulism scare point to the MOH being woefully underprepared for an outbreak.

Remember just a few months ago, Botulism Siouxie – recent recipient of the $100,000 Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize, caused widespread angst by saying “Botulinum toxin A is one of the most toxic substance known to man. One kilogram of it would be enough to kill the entire human population”.

You’d hope the MOH would be able to cope, but documents show an alarming admission.

In an August 2013 MOH Situation Report, the Acting Director of Public Health, Dr Fran McGrath provided an update on the MOH’s actions in response to Fonterra’s contaminated Whey Protein Concentrate and Nutricia Karicare Recall.

McGrath must have been desperate to give Ministers confidence that the MOH was all over the issue like a rash, especially just in case botulism started spreading like wildfire among the population.

At the start of the SitRep, McGrath states “There have been no cases of infant botulism reported in New Zealand in the last 20 years”. From that you’d expect a sigh of relief from Ministers.   Read more »

AgResearch Kills Stuart Little while Botulism Siouxie basks

Today’s shocking headline finally bears the truth. AgResearch killed Stuart Little.

See Stuart Little was a little mouse too, lost, looking for a home, but was brutally killed by Ag Research scientists who are now blaming Fonterra, saying they didn’t confirm anything.

But what’s this? AgResearch’s test “report said the batch was likely to contain botulism-causing bacteria”, and “samples likely to be Colstridium botulinum” and “described all samples as toxigenic”.

Now if you were a company and received a report like that what would you do!  Read more »

Botulism Siouxie

"Butilism" Siouxie Wiles

“Botulism” Siouxie Wiles

Every now and then someone comes out of the woodwork and sprouts off complete nonsense. Siouxie Wiles – or as she will now be known, “Botulism Siouxie” is one such person.

Botulism Siouxie just loves getting into the media. Slight problem though, she talks complete shite. Take the Fonterra botulism issue, where she blabbed non-stop with ghoulish comments that failed completely to put the issue into context – like there was no risk what-so-ever to babies.

Let’s take a look at how Botulism Siouxie loves scaring mums and dads of young children. She starts scaremongering in a blog post dated 4 August, ‘Fonterra scare: the other side of Botox’ saying:

Botulism is caused by the ability of C. botulinum to produce several neurotoxins (types A-G) which prevent acetylcholine from being released from the motor nerve endings causing flaccid paralysis and symptoms of blurred vision, drooping eyelids, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation and cramps. In severe cases it leads to paralysis of the breathing muscles and causes respiratory failure. Toxin types A, B, E, and F cause disease in humans while types C and D cause disease in cows, birds, and other animals but not in humans.  Read more »

In a “crisis”, perspective is often the last thing thought of

Yesterday’s Herald actually got something right. John Roughan’s article was spot on when he wrote:

Somehow the precautionary element of the announcement was completely lost in the frenzy that followed. Amid all the reports of fearful parents and foreign trade embargoes I for one had missed the fact that the bacterium they had detected might not be clostridium botulinum.

Good point – the recall was always precautionary. But that didn’t stop officials flipping out.

In a crisis, usually the first question asked is has anyone died. That should be the first question Ministers would want to know. Perhaps this skipped most bureaucrats minds when all and sundry started a global panic.

One example of this was MPI, under Acting DG Scott Gallacher. Whoops. But at least he’s taken responsibility for AgResearch.

Another example was the Ministry of Health. You would have thought someone was bright enough in their comms team to point out that there had been no cases in the world where infant botulism had been linked to infant formula. None, nada, nought, zip, zilch.    Read more »

Will Frank Rowson apologise for his Notulism comments, will the media ask him?

So will Matamata vet Frank Rowson retract his theory that glyphosate caused the Notulism scare? Heard him interviewed by NewstalkZB’s Mike Hosking I think on August 14th . Listening back is interesting. Frank Rowson: Botulism bug could be traced back to farm.

A veterinarian and farm consultant doubts the recent Fonterra botulism scare was caused by a dirty pipe, and says he is sitting on material that will embarrass the dairy giant further.

Matamata veterinarian and farm performance consultant Frank Rowson says Fonterra should be tracing the source of the Clostridium botulinum bacterium back to farms or their own water supply.

He doubts Clostridium botulinum was caused by an old pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant and said it had to get in there in the first place.

Rowson planned to discuss the threat of glyphosate contamination links in the food chain at a meeting in a few weeks time, which included Fonterra’s Risk Manager Lindsay Burton and the president of GE Free NZ, Claire Bleakly.  Read more »

Notulism

Oh dear a  number of people are going to be doing a massive face-palm over the news that there was never any Botulism in Fonterra’s products, including Bryce Edwards, the Labour and Green parties and Nathan Guy.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said it had received results confirming that the bacteria found in the whey protein concentrate (WPC) manufactured by Fonterra was not the botulism-causing clostridium botulinum, the ministry said.

“The organism is confirmed as Clostridium sporogenes. It is therefore not capable of producing botulism causing toxins,” the ministry said in a statement.

“There are no known food safety issues associated with Clostridium sporogenes, although at elevated levels certain strains may be associated with food spoilage,” it said.  Read more »

I’ve been thinking about this Fonterra thingy

Botulism Toxin Source/Wikipedia

Botulism Toxin
Source/Wikipedia

There are a couple of things I have been thinking about this Fonterra milk scandal.

Ok, first up Fonterra and Nutricia have not handled this at all well. It would seem neither company has a crisis management team, a war room or even a war game manual for dealing with crisis. Large companies normally always do this. I know of one large company with its HQ in Auckland that regularly conducts drills.

This all seems to be missing from Fonterra despite the billions upon billions that these guys are earning and the millions they are paying for their top executives.

Now to the actual scale of the disaster…it seems that it is actually a PR disaster rather than a product disaster. The fault of that lies with Fonterra in the first instance. Yes it was their pipe that was allegedly contaminated, but how they handled that subsequently leaves a lot to be desired.  Read more »