Everyone’s got a camera: Carl’s Jr. in Alberta outed by former manager

The co-franchisee of a Carl’s Jr. in central Alberta was, according to Carolyn Dunn of CBC News, temporarily barred from his own restaurant’s kitchen after a host of unhygienic behaviours that even “shocked” a public health inspector. 

Jack Webb was captured on in-store security video at the Red Deer restaurant without gloves, forearm deep in a large container, mixing a batch of barbecue sauce for Carl’s Jr. burgers. 

That was the first of no fewer than 10 food safety violations caught on video, which was exclusively obtained by CBC News. 

Andrew Minnes, the former manager of the restaurant, blew the whistle on Webb to health authorities and CBC. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this. If he wasn’t an owner, he would have been fired instantly. There wouldn’t even have been a debate,” Minnes told CBC News from his home in Airdrie, Alta.

Minnes says it was conscientious kitchen staff who initially alerted him to the “gross” infractions. 

He says he approached Webb about the complaints.

“His reaction was, ‘I’m the owner’ and then ‘Too bad.’  He made it clear to the staff as well that they don’t say anything, ‘Don’t talk about what I’m doing, I do what I feel like doing.'”

So Minnes began playing undercover detective in the restaurant he managed until May 2017, recording the screen of the CCTV that overlooked the kitchen. 

Minnes says he never planned to take the footage public — he just wanted to show it to the other co-franchisee so the issue would be addressed.

“He just ignored me. He didn’t want to deal with it. ‘Complicit,’ I guess is the word.”

Minnes had surreptitiously captured 10 videos of serious food safety regulation infractions on his cellphone. 

During the barbecue sauce mixing video, a staffer goes as far as offering Webb a spoon — which his boss refuses and continues mixing with his hand and forearm, before scraping the accumulated barbecue sauce off his arm back into the container.

Domenic Pedulla, the CEO at the Canada Food Safety Group, shook his head while watching the video clips. “Bare hand contact with ready to eat food is not OK. This is where we want to use tongs, gloves.”

Webb didn’t use tongs or gloves in any of the videos. 

CBC News approached Webb for comment at his Red Deer restaurant. He asked us to wait for an interview for several hours.

“We’re going to give a response,” Webb assured the CBC.

In the end, the response came via a statement from Carl’s Jr. Canada, which said it found out about the infractions in April and the video earlier this month. 

The popular U.S. fast food restaurant, which has been trying to expand its franchise footprint in Canada since 2011 called the “improper food handling behaviour … unacceptable and (that it) in no way, represents Carl’s Jr.’s commitment to safe food handling.” 

Carly McKinnon, who owns the Press’d The Sandwich Company franchise next to Carl’s Jr., told Paul Cowley of the Red Deer Advocate she used the CBC-obtained video showing food safety violations at Carl’s as a training exercise.

“I showed it. (I said) this is what happens. People are always watching,” said McKinnon, who also owns a Press’d franchise in Leduc.

“I’m sharing it with my staff. I just want to make sure they’re stepping it up.”

McKinnon said new employees are always given extensive training in food safety before they begin their jobs.

 

Gastro outbreak hits more than 50 day care centres in Brisbane

It’s winter in Brisbane, Australia, with highs in the 90s F (30s C) a couple of weeks ago, and today where I went to the arena for a lunchtime skate with Amy in shorts and the loudest Hawaiian shirt I own (additional layers were added once in the arena), and where what they call gastro outbreaks have increased dramatically.

Seven elderly people have died from gastro at one Brisbane nursing home – vigorously denied by the operator – and more than 50 daycare centres have alerted Queensland Health of gastro outbreaks.

Emergency rooms throughout Brisbane have been overwhelmed, and not just by dumbass Canadians falling off bikes.

But what is a gastro bug?

How can they not name the bug?

Regis aged care facility in the suburb of Yeronga, just down the road from us, has been in lockdown for 26 days.

A Regis spokesperson on Tuesday night reiterated “there have been no deaths confirmed as being as a result of gastro.”

“As advised previously, Regis has experienced an episode of gastroenteritis at the Yeronga facility. It was first identified on 28 July. We are pleased to say that the episode is nearing completion.”

Darren Cartwright of the Courier-Mail reported yesterday there has been a four-fold increase in gastroenteritis outbreaks in Brisbane’s daycare centres, with almost 200 children alone affected on the southside since June.

In total more than 50 daycare centres have alerted Queensland Health of an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

A Queensland Health spokesman acknowledged the outbreaks were “significantly” higher this year than for the same eight week periods in 2016.

“The data indicates a significantly high number of outbreaks during this eight week period in 2017, however, it should be noted that half of these outbreaks involved fewer than 10 unwell children,” the spokesman said.

That will make the parents and kids feel better.

“In general, it has been a big year for viral gastroenteritis outbreaks across the region.”

Oh, it’s a virus.

Does the virus have a name?

 

30 sick: Arkansas restaurant possibly linked to Salmonella outbreak

Kristen Wilson of KATV reports the Arkansas Department of Health is investigating a foodborne illness outbreak that has affected approximately 30 people since Friday.

ADH has confirmed four cases of salmonella so far. At this point, health officials say their investigation suggests the Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Stuttgart is likely the site of the outbreak.

Currently, health officials are collecting biological specimens from those who fell ill and are investigating their recent food history and any other common exposures, including animal or worksite exposures.

Cyclospora gets around

As summer grinds on in the Northern Hemisphere, Cyclospora is again spreading: at least 78 in the UK; 57 in Canada (which appear to be locally acquired; and, 712 lab-confirmed cases in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control reports Cyclospora cayetanensis is a single-celled parasite that causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis.

As of August 16, 2017 (3pm EDT), CDC has been notified of 712 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in persons who became ill in 2017. This number includes persons who reported international travel as well as persons who did not report travel. The reports have come from 36 states.

At least 347 (49%) of these persons did not report international travel (i.e., likely were infected in the United States) and became ill on or after May 1, 2017 (a date after which cases tend to increase each year). These 347 persons were from the following 31 states: Arizona (1), California (5), Colorado (6), Connecticut (18), Florida (36), Georgia (4), Illinois (11), Indiana (3), Iowa (8), Kansas (2), Louisiana (3), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (11), Michigan (1), Minnesota (10), Missouri (8), Montana (2), Nebraska (5), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (10), New Mexico (1), New York (excluding NYC) (12), New York City (27), North Carolina (19), Ohio (6), Pennsylvania (1), Rhode Island (2), South Dakota (4), Texas (116), Utah (1), Virginia (2), and Wisconsin (7).

At this time, no specific vehicle of interest has been identified, and investigations to identify a potential source (or sources) of infection are ongoing. It is too early to say whether cases of Cyclospora infection in different states are related to each other or to the same food item(s).

Previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce (e.g., basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, snow peas). Consumers should continue to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet.

If it’s not chickens, it’s eggs

In a risk communication fiasco reminiscent of the 1999 dioxin-in-chicken-feed scandal in the EU, millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe after contamination with a banned insecticide.

On July 19, 2017, the government of Belgium said that fipronil had been found in eggs produced there, one month after the fipronil was actually detected. The contamination is thought to have been caused by the mixing of the insecticide with a cleaning agent used at chicken farms to control blood lice.

Dutch health authorities admitted that they had received a tip about fipronil being used in barns against blood lice as early as November 2016.

After initially poo-pooing the threat, things picked up in early Aug. as more countries found eggs with fipronil, and more supermarkets pulled eggs.

Dutch police arrested two individuals they say could be accountable for allowing the insecticide Fipronil to be used inside Dutch poultry farms.

A joint Dutch-Belgian task force conducted raids at eight poultry farms in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch prosecution service.

The investigation “focused on the Dutch company that allegedly used Fipronil, a Belgian supplier as well as a Dutch company that colluded with the Belgian supplier,” according to the prosecutor.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the UK Food Standards Agency said: “Our advice remains clear – there’s no need to change how you buy or consume eggs. We are responding very quickly to any new information, to ensure that any products left that contain egg from the affected farms is withdrawn immediately. We’re doing this because Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals, not because we are concerned about any risk to health.”

No risk messages are risky.

So is commercial exploitation.

Robert Chapman, who packs four million eggs a week under the Farmlay label from his West Cockmuir farm at Strichen, Aberdeenshire, urged buyers to learn a lesson from the incident, adding, “Price is obviously a major factor why so many imported eggs come into Britain, but the fact that so many have been found to be contaminated is a major issue. Surely processors and retailers will take this on board and source more eggs from UK producers whose standards are second to none.”

British Free Range Egg Producers Association chief executive Robert Gooch said, “British egg producers follow stringent production standards to ensure that what they produce is perfectly safe and nutritious for consumers to eat.”

Until it isn’t.

961 sick with Salmonella: About those chicks, stop kissing them

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that since the last update on July 13, 2017, 172 more ill people have been reported. The most recent illness began on July 31, 2017.

CDC and multiple states are investigating 10 separate multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections in people who had contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.

These outbreaks are caused by several DNA fingerprints of different Salmonella bacteria: Salmonella Braenderup, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i-, Salmonella Indiana, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Litchfield, Salmonella Mbandaka, Salmonella Muenchen, and Salmonella Typhimurium.

The outbreak strains of Salmonella have infected a reported 961 people in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to July 31, 2017.

215 ill people have been hospitalized. One death has been reported.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link the 10 outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, from multiple hatcheries.

In interviews, 498 (74%) of 672 ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before illness started.

Contact with live poultry or their environment can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Live poultry can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean, with no sign of illness.

Personal risk analysis

After three bicycle crashes in the past two months, I applied my risk analysis skills and decided it was safer to have people shoot a hard rubber disk at my head and returned to the ice.

I didn’t account for the cardio and flexibility requirements — which I had let slide — in my assessment.

Amy was there to capture the before, during and after shots:

5-year old in coma with HUS

My son is 6-years old, stories like this are sickening. But hey, food safety is simple….

A 5-year-old girl is unconscious and two others are in hospital after a case of food poisoning from a batch of potato salad sold at a supermarket deli counter here.
The 5-year-old has been diagnosed with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) — acute kidney failure plus anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells and a low platelet count.
A total of eight people aged 4 to 60 who ate the potato salad purchased at the “Delicious” deli counter in the Shokusaikan Marche supermarket branch here reported food poisoning symptoms including diarrhea. Tests found the O157 strain of E. coli bacteria in six of the patients.
The Saitama Prefectural Kumagaya Health Center has determined the potato salad as the cause of the outbreak, and suspended business at the “Delicious” deli for three days starting from Aug. 21 based on the Food Sanitation Act.
According to prefectural authorities, the potato salad was produced by a company outside Saitama Prefecture. The deli then added ham, apple and other extra ingredients and put it on sale starting Aug. 7.

 

What to do with the sponge

The kitchen sponge has been gaining a lot of traction lately in food safety media that stemmed from the recent German study that analyzed 14 sponges. Don Schaffner provided his expertise regarding the validity of the study on Barfblog earlier.

It is no surprise that sponges harbor bacteria, what is surprising is all of the conflicting messaging on what to do with them. Food safety messaging needs to be rapid, reliable, relevant and repeated. Unfortunately it is not just food safety messaging on social media, inconsistency exists within food safety Regulations in Canada compounding the problem further. But that’s a whole other blog.

A study conducted in 2007 evaluated different disinfection methods to reduce bacteria, yeasts and molds on kitchen sponges (1). Sponges were soaked in 10% bleach solution for 3 min, lemon juice (pH 2.9) for 1 min, or deionized water for 1 min, placed in a microwave oven for 1 min at full power, or placed in a dishwasher for full wash and drying cycles, or left untreated (control). The study showed that microwaving or placing the sponge in a dishwasher significantly lowered aerobic bacterial counts on sponges more than chemicals and control.

Doug Williams of the The San Diego Union Tribune writes:

As a longtime food safety consultant, teacher and inspector, Robert Romaine has seen plenty of disastrous and dirty commercial kitchens.
He knows the menacing microbes that make us sick and has seen the evils lurking in kitchen corners.
So, he has a couple of rules. One, avoid potlucks. Who knows how that chicken salad was prepared. And two, when invited to a friend’s house for dinner, put the blinders on.
“When I’m visiting someone, I try not to hang around the kitchen,” says Romaine, who owns Food Safety Consulting in San Diego. “Sometimes I know too much, and I just don’t want to know what’s going on in there.”
The dangers are many, from improper refrigeration to cross contamination. But recently, there’s been an added focus on kitchen sinks and counters and the way people keep them clean — or don’t.
Yet as Romaine notes, precautions can easily be taken in our home kitchens to lessen the dangers of contamination.
Take that disgusting sponge, for instance.
“If a person is careful and actually knows they got the sponge up to 180 degrees (when cleaning it), nothing’s going to live,” he says. The key is being certain the temperature is high enough, not just warm but lethally hot. Federal government guidelines suggest 165 degrees as the minimum temperature for killing bacteria. A food thermometer can be used to test that sponge after microwaving. Adds Joyce Wilkins, who taught food safety for years in San Diego through her business, Safe at the Plate: “Yes, the sponge is fairly disgusting. All bacteria, all organisms die at 165 degrees, so if you heat it up hot enough to burn you in the microwave, you will kill it.”

Wilkins, in fact, discourages the use of a sponge and suggests buying a pack of 10 dishcloths instead and using a fresh one every 24 hours. “The big issue is dampness,” she says. “Bacteria need water to survive, and if the cloth is dried out each time,” it helps prevent bacteria growth.

Romaine suggests using paper towels instead of cloths or a sponge for cleanup, especially after preparing meat or chicken. Paper towels can be thrown away so bacteria can’t be transferred. “Obviously, if you just cut up raw chicken, you don’t want to use a household sponge for that,” he says. “But if you’re just wiping up debris from cutting up bread or vegetables, that’s not very harmful.”

Wilkins also will use isopropyl alcohol to clean surfaces, along with a stiff-bristled brush instead of a sponge. A cutting board used to prepare chicken, for instance, will be scrubbed with a brush and hot, soapy water, then treated with some of the alcohol to kill remaining germs, rinsed and allowed to air dry. The same system can be used for countertops, where a brush can dislodge the bio film that can build up over time (and not be rubbed away with a sponge or cloth).
Instead of using a dishtowel to dry just-washed plates and utensils — a towel that may have been used to dry hands or wipe a countertop — allow those plates and utensils to air dry.

Do not use isopropyl alcohol to clean surfaces, washing with soap and water applying friction is good enough.

1. Manan Sharma , Janet Eastridge, Cheryl Mudd. 2007. Effective household disinfection methods of kitchen sponges. Food Control 20 (2009) 310–313

Trumped

If I paid $300,000 for a membership, the kitchen better be pristine and safe.

As President Donald Trump took office earlier this year, state health inspectors arrived at Mar-a-Lago, the new president’s “winter White House,” for their annual inspection of the the private club’s kitchens.
What they found was not pretty.
Just weeks before Trump began entertaining world leaders and other dignitaries during his frequent visits to the Florida club, Mar-a-Lago’s restaurant was cited for 13 health code violations in a single inspection, the Miami Herald reported.
The infractions included potentially serious violations, including serving dangerously raw fish and keeping raw meat in malfunctioning coolers. The minor violations included not having hot enough water for staff to wash their hands and employees failing to wear hair nets when preparing food.
So, how do the kitchens at Trump’s “summer White House” in New Jersey compare?
The kitchens at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster — where the president is wrapping up his working vacation — have been cited for at least 17 health code violations during routine inspections between 2011 and 2016, according to records obtained through the state’s Open Public Records Act.
The reports included mostly minor infractions in the main kitchen serving the clubhouse restaurant and a smaller kitchen serving the pool-side cafe. Both restaurants are open to members as part of their $300,000 membership fee.
The violations included “significant fly activity” in the pool kitchen and main kitchen, dirty wiping cloths, grease-covered fryer units, uncovered and spilled food storage bins, melons stored at the wrong temperature and dirty kitchen utensils with “old and encrusted food buildup.”
In each case, the violations were minor enough for the golf club to get a “satisfactory” rating and its restaurants were allowed to remain open.