Chipotle sounds like a John Prine song: Throw front-liners under the bus: Chipotle CEO blames staff for noro outbreak that sickened at least 135

Business Insider reports that last week, news broke that Chipotle had closed a restaurant in Sterling, Virginia, following multiple reports of customers getting sick after eating there. Chipotle’s stock plummeted and more than 130 people claimed they had become ill after eating at the restaurant.

Now, CEO and founder Steve Ells needs to convince customers and investors that the chain has a plan to prevent another food poisoning scandal.

“We have isolated the failure that occurred,” Ells said in a call with investors on Tuesday.

According to Ells, the Sterling, Virginia restaurant had failed to comply with Chipotle’s safety regulations, specifically allowing an employee to work while sick.

“We made it clear to the entire company that we have a zero-tolerance policy” for not following food-safety measures, Ells said. “When followed, they work perfectly.

That’s bullshit.

When biology and humans are involved, nothing is perfect.

Seriously, this dude who runs thousands of restaurants hasn’t looked at the fail-safe measures used by engineering firms for decades?

Another nosestretcher: Ells told reporters on a conference call Tuesday, “We are the only major restaurant to have HACCP.”

That would be news to McDonalds, Disney, and dozens of others.

In describing the norovirus outbreak this past week, Ells placed the blame squarely on the individual restaurant, saying “norovirus is unrelated to our food supply chain.”

How do you know?

Coke-head Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle, said: “We conducted a thorough investigation and it appears that someone in the restaurant leadership did not adhere to our food safety protocol. We believe someone worked while sick.

The lack of compliance at the Sterling restaurant doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident. According to some Chipotle employees at other locations, store managers have encouraged workers to not to follow certain regulations, forcing them to work while sick and lie when filling out food safety sheets.

To prevent another food poisoning outbreak, Ells said that the chain needs to create a “culture of compliance.”

In light of the Sterling outbreak, Chipotle has made it clear that there will be “severe” consequences when in-store employees do not follow safety procedures. The company is launching additional training and communications efforts to ensure that each location follows national policies, such as sending sick workers home.

“Compliance with our procedures is nonnegotiable,” Ells said.

That’s all nice, and probably because Chipotle Mexican Grill received a follow-up subpoena on July 19, requesting information:

* Chipotle Mexican Grill says follow-up subpoena sought information related to illness incidents associated with a single Chipotle restaurant in Sterling, Virginia

* Chipotle Mexican Grill says it intends to continue to fully cooperate in the investigation

* Chipotle – sales trends in H2 of July 2017 have been adversely impacted by news regarding norovirus incident in co’s restaurant in Sterling, Virginia‍.

But it was just an accident.

Anti-vaxxers, organic all the same in Australia; scammed school into screening BS film

Anti-vaxxers have allegedly scammed their way into a Gold Coast school under the pretence of holding a seminar about organic vegetables.

But what Miami State School students got was something very different.

The anti-vaxxers instead screened a film about their unfounded beliefs that there is a link between autism and childhood vaccinations.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is demanding answers as to how the documentary came to be shown at the school on Tuesday night after organisers told school officials they were running a seminar on organic vegetables.

She said the organisation made “misrepresentations” to the school, and she would be speaking with Education Minister Kate Jones on Wednesday to get to the bottom of the matter.

“My initial advice is there has been some misrepresentation from that organisation to the school in question where they conveyed to the principal that they were to be conveying information about organic produce,” the premier told reporters on the Gold Coast on Wednesday.

“I don’t think they were very clear in their purpose and I don’t think they should have been allowed to present in such a manner.”

The organisers of the film have previously gone to extreme lengths to keep the location of screenings a secret in an effort to keep them from being shut down, amid strong opposition from Australian health professionals.

Maybe the Australian government and public should apply similar critical faculties to anyone claiming to purport the benefits of organic production.

Farm machinery eating peoples’ arms and legs: Machinery still biggest cause of UK farm deaths

My grandfather, the one who ran the Massey-Ferguson dealership in Cookstown, Ontario, Canada, lost two-or-three of his fingers from the knuckle up due to farm machinery (that’s me and sis).

But when I was about 10, he would send me inside a combine to put pliers on a nut while the others loosened a bolt – from the outside.

I only remember how damn hot it was.

In the UK – gramps was from Newport, Wales — machinery and transport continue to be the main causes of life-changing and life-ending injuries on farm.

Four in 10 of all farmworkers who have lost their lives over the past decade were related to workplace machinery or transport, said NFU vice-president Guy Smith.

Mr Smith, who is also chair of England’s Farm Safety Partnership, said that while the most recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive showed a reduction in the number of deaths through machinery and transport, one death was one too many.

Helen Banham, a dairy farmer from Skegness, Lincolnshire, lost two fingers on her right hand in a life-changing accident with a bottling machine four years ago.

She was going about her daily routine when a bottle dropped through the machine. Instinctively, and without thinking of turning off the bottling line, she reached into the machine to grab it.

Her hand became trapped in the machine and her thumb was severed, while a spike penetrated the palm of her hand.

While pulling her hand free she ripped it open, severely and irrevocably damaging the tendons in her third finger.

Mrs Banham said: “It was our wake-up call. The milk business was taking so much of our time and we were really up against it. We couldn’t afford to take on any more staff, costs were rising and the prices we could charge just weren’t covering our costs.”

$19K fine for dirty restaurant in Canberra

Canberra, the former sheep farm that is now the capital of Australia, has fined a restaurant owner $19,000 after he admitted he had neglected the shop and not cleaned it for about a month.

Alexandra Back of The Canberra Times reports the Hawker business was inspected in May last year when authorities found evidence of food build-up and debris around the food preparation areas.

They also found live and dead cockroaches and uncovered food stored on the floor. The equipment used to transport pie meat was unclean and on one container a plastic bag was being used as a lid.

Prosecutors said the level of uncleanliness was “disturbing”.

The 54-year-old owner, Vinh Quoc Vinh, pleaded guilty to five food safety offences relating to storage, hand washing facilities, maintenance, cleanliness and pests.

The offences happened more than a year ago and the Oriental Hot Bake shop has been compliant since. There was evidence pest controllers had been called to the shop every couple of months.

The ACT Magistrates Court heard the owner usually cleaned the shop once a week. But in what his lawyer described as “exceptional” circumstances the shop had been neglected because a member of his family was very ill.

He had been running the business for 12 years.

 

NZ says (not a joke): Have your say on cooking burgers: Until a chef offers a temperature rather than adjectives it’s bullshit

While Australia is being dragged kickin-and-screamin into the thermometer age, New Zealand has decided to put knowledge aside, and ask the people, How do you want your burgers done?

Just because everyone eats doesn’t mean they know anything about microbial food safety.

The NZ Ministry for Primary Industries issued a public notice, stating: Feedback from chefs is that they would like to be able to cook mince (especially minced burger patties) to medium/medium rare (I have no idea what these adjectives mean; some numbers, please) under the template food control plan.

MPI has worked with chefs, environmental health offers and food scientists to develop a specialist section for both official template food control plans.  The specialist page is written in the “Know, Do, Show” format from the Simply Safe & Suitable template. The section will allow red meat mince for medium/medium rare burgers, and other meat specialities like steak tartare, to be safely served lightly cooked or raw. (Carpaccio is already covered in the templates (refer to section 10.6 (Serve) –  Whole cuts and whole joints of meat – and the ‘Cooking food’ page in Simply Safe & Suitable).

We want to know if the specialist section works for you? Have we got it right?  

Please note: Two of the processes included in the consultation are sanitising and blanch-in-a-bag.  The scientific validation for these methods is ongoing.  If there is insufficient evidence for it to be included in this amendment for the official template food control plans, and there is high demand for the process, further research would need to be commissioned so it could be added at a later date.

The consultation opens 25 July and closes on 8 August 2017.

Email your feedback to foodact.2014@mpi.govt.nz

I suggest e-mailing them this blog post and saying, I want a burger cooked safely to a verified 74C.

Who will clean up the puke in self-driving taxis?

Canada’s Driving magazine asks: who will clean up the barf in self-driving cars?

Bloomberg reports those working for companies like Lyft and Uber are already discovering a downside of the general public that retailers and restaurateurs and hoteliers have always known. People are pigs. It makes perfect sense that the same people who use white hotel towels to wipe their muddy shoes and return used appliances in sealed boxes will treat a hired ride just as poorly. Hell, some people treat their own cars in ways that would make you shudder.

I spent a weekend in New Liskeard once, a tiny town far north in Ontario (I’ve also been there for a weekend). They do an annual Biker’s Reunion every Canada Day. The place is inundated with visitors and drunken revellers. I took a cab back to my hotel (after a one hour wait) and asked my driver what he did if he had a barfer.

“Two hundred bucks,” he responded. “They get charged two hundred bucks.”

Realizing that it was overwhelmingly drunks who called for cabs at events like this, I wondered if the steep surcharge was actually enforceable.

“We only have two cars,” he responded. “You can’t hide puke.”

 

Levine writes: Investigating shoppers’ perceptions of risk

Katrina Levine, extension associate and lead author of Consumer perceptions of the safety of ready-to-eat foods in retail food store settings writes,

While I was grocery shopping one day at my regular store, I noticed that one of the doors to the dairy refrigerator case was missing. There was no sign or notice to explain the gaping hole where the door should have been in front of the shredded cheese, nor was any attempt made to compensate for the absent door, such as by relocating the items in that section or putting up a temporary covering.

After first being a bit confused when trying to reach for a non-existent handle, these questions popped into my head:

• how can the food in this section be at a safe temperature, as well as the foods on either side of it? and,

• doesn’t this missing door affect the ability of the case to maintain its temperature?

I’m a food safety nerd. Most people just want to shop and get on with whatever they are doing, but I’m subconsciously always looking for food safety behaviors. The person standing behind me was probably more interested in which brand was the least expensive or which package looked the freshest, or just wanted me to get out the way so they could buy their cheese and leave.

Does the lack of a door on a normally enclosed refrigerator case pose a food safety risk for dairy the products in that case? Depends on whom you ask. The average consumer (interpret this as you choose) often doesn’t see the same food safety risks when shopping in grocery stores compared to food safety folks.

Our group from North Carolina State teamed up with John Luchansky and Anna Porto-Fett at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service to investigate this difference between consumers and food safety folks in food safety risk perception when shopping at grocery stores.  We conducted a national survey and several focus groups where, instead of just describing a situation, we showed pictures of a food safety situation someone could actually encounter while shopping. In addition to asking questions about whether each photo was safe or unsafe, we wanted to know about the actions, if any, people would take to do something about a situation they thought was unsafe. We prodded them further with questions about how their perceptions of safety would affect their shopping behaviors.

We found that consumers and food safety folks don’t always see the same food safety risks. There were some situations consumers perceived as risky but that weren’t actually risks, like seeing an insect on the floor. There were also some risks that food safety folks saw but consumers missed, like food not properly stored within the refrigerated area.

I was explaining our study to a friend the other day, and she flat out told me, “I look for food quality when I’m shopping – is it fresh, is there mold or signs of damage, does it look ok?” This is exactly what we found. Consumers are looking for those quality aspects, but aren’t always seeing the warning signs that the safety of the food could be at risk. The viruses, bacteria, and other things that cause foodborne illness such as Listeria monocytogenes, might be present on foods in the grocery store at high levels by not storing soft cheeses at the proper temperature, allowing bacteria to grow more quickly.

Our research team will be taking this one step further to better understand the mind of the shopper and see things through their eyes. Everyday consumers will become our secret shoppers, and we plan to arm them with the information they need to be food safety detectives every time they shop. #citizenscience for the win.

Consumer perceptions of the safety of ready-to-eat foods in retail food store settings

Katrina Levine, Mary Yavelak, John B. Luchansky, Anna C. S. Porto-Fett, and Benjamin Chapman

Journal of Food Protection

August 2017, Vol. 80, No. 8, pp. 1364-1377

DOI: doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-417

Abstract:

To better understand how consumers perceive food safety risks in retail food store settings, a survey was administered to 1,041 nationally representative participants who evaluated possible food safety risks depicted in selected photographs and self-reported their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Participants were shown 12 photographs taken at retail stores portraying either commonly perceived or actual food safety contributing factors, such as cross-contamination, product and equipment temperatures, worker hygiene, and/or store sanitation practices. Participants were then asked to specifically identify what they saw, comment as to whether what they saw was safe or unsafe, and articulate what actions they would take in response to these situations. In addition to the survey, focus groups were employed to supplement survey findings with qualitative data. Survey respondents identified risk factors for six of nine actual contributing factor photographs >50% of the time: poor produce storage sanitation (86%, n = 899), cross-contamination during meat slicing (72%, n = 750), bare-hand contact of ready-to-eat food in the deli area (67%, n = 698), separation of raw and ready-to-eat food in the seafood case (63%, n = 660), cross-contamination from serving utensils in the deli case (62%, n = 644), and incorrect product storage temperature (51%, n = 528). On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was very unsafe and 5 was very safe, a significant difference was found between average risk perception scores for photographs of actual contributing factors (score of ca. 2.5) and scores for photographs of perceived contributing factors (score of ca. 2.0). Themes from the focus groups supported the results of the survey and provided additional insight into consumer food safety risk perceptions. The results of this study inform communication interventions for consumers and retail food safety professionals aimed at improving hazard identification.

How bad FSANZ is at risk communication (or restrained by gov’t rules): At least 5 sick from crypto linked to raw milk

Below is the official Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSNAZ) public announcement of an outbreak of crypto that has sickened at least 5 people linked to a raw milk cow share agreement:

RAW COW’S MILK

1 litre, 2 litre, 3 litre

Date marking:   NONE

MS & HJ TYLER is conducting a recall of the above product. The product has been available for sale online and at farm gate in SA.

Problem: The recall is due to microbial (Cryptosporidium) contamination

Food safety hazard: Food products contaminated with (Cryptosporidium) may cause illness if consumed.

What to do: Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice and should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

For further information please contact:

Mark Tyler

0414492466

mooviewdairy.com.au

Media recorded actual facts about people being sick.

You’d think government could do the same.

Things rarely happen until they do: 4136 sick from Norovirus in bottled water, Spain, 2016

In April 2016, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness (4,136 cases) occurred in Catalonia, Spain. We detected high levels of norovirus genotypes I and II in office water coolers associated with the outbreak. Infectious viral tiiter estimates were 33–49 genome copies/L for genotype I and 327–660 genome copies/L for genotype II.

During April 11–25, 2016, a total of 4,136 cases of gastroenteritis were reported by the Public Health Agency of Catalonia (ASPCAT; Figure, panel A). A case-patient was defined as an exposed person who had vomiting or diarrhea (3 or more loose stools within 24 hours) and >2 of the following: nausea, abdominal pain, or fever (≥37.8°C). Six patients required hospitalization.

The epidemiologic investigation conducted by the ASPCAT pointed toward an association of the outbreak with drinking bottled spring water from office water coolers; the water had been bottled at a source in Andorra (M. Jané-Checa and A. Martínez-Mateo, Public Health Agency of Catalonia, pers. comm., 2016 Sep 1). Compared with other modes of transmission such as food or person to person, norovirus outbreaks associated with drinking water are rare in developed countries. On April 15, 2016, as a precautionary measure, the company producing the bottled water recalled >6,150 containers of water of suspected quality that had already been distributed to 925 companies. The water complied with all requirements of the European Commission directive on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters, but these requirements do not include any virologic determination.

Norovirus in bottled water associated with gastroenteritis outbreak, Spain, 2016

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 23, Number 9—September 2017

Albert Blanco, Susana Guix, Noemí Fuster, Cristina Fuentes, Rosa Bartolomé, Thais Cornejo, Rosa Maria Pintó, and Albert Bosch

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/9/16-1489_article

 

Benefit for 7-year-old Texas girl with E. coli set for August

Alexis Dominguez of KXII Fox News 12 reports a 7-year-old Tioga girl has spent the last month recovering in a Dallas hospital after getting E. coli.

Emorie Clayton, 7, from Tioga has been in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in Dallas for nearly a month.

Austin Lewter, Emorie’s uncle says she is recovering after she was infected with E. coli, which attacked her intestines, her digestive system and her kidneys.

“She’s had several surgeries and procedures now but the biggest one actually removed 70% of her colon.”

Emorie’s family says doctors are unsure how she got E. coli and may never even know what caused it.

But during the family’s difficult time, friends and family have come together to help pay for their medical bills.

“There’s stories like this everywhere and when people want to do good, when people need to do good, when people need to come together, they do.”

Lewter says they are several events for the month of August being planned by community members.

“The 12th of August, here in Whitesboro, we’re planning an all-day benefit event. All the proceeds will go to her medical expenses.”