Robert Mancini

About Robert Mancini

Robert Mancini hosted and provided research for the television series “Kitchen Crimes” for Food Network Canada, H.G. T.V. (U.S.) and Discovery Asia. He is currently a certified Public Health Inspector in Manitoba and the health protection coordinator/specialist in food safety for Manitoba Health. He holds a Master’s Degree in Food Safety through Kansas State University. He enjoys playing with his 3-year old boy, violin, and running.

FDA: Juice safety

My wife has gotten me on a freshly squeezed juice regimen every morning because admittedly I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. We’ll juice anything from kale, spinach, lemons to apples. The juicer cost me a fortune but I feel great, I love my wife.

The FDA is promoting juice safety due to the potential microbial risks associated with juicing.

The Baltimore Times reports:

As fall arrives, so do drives in the country and drinking fresh-squeezed juices and cider.
Unfortunately, serious outbreaks of foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning,” have been traced to drinking fruit and vegetable juice and cider that have not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to kill harmful bacteria.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds consumers this fall to read the label carefully on juice and cider products.
Juices provide many important nutrients, but consuming untreated juices can pose health risks to your family. When fruits and vegetables are fresh-squeezed or used raw, bacteria from the produce can end up in your juice or cider. Unless the produce or the juice has been treated to destroy any harmful bacteria, the juice could be contaminated. While most people’s immune systems can usually fight off the effects of foodborne illness, children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (such as transplant patients and individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes) risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking untreated juices.
Most of the juice sold in the United States is pasteurized (heat-treated) to kill harmful bacteria. Juice products may also be treated by non-heat processes for the same purpose. However, some grocery stores, health food stores, cider mills, farmers’ markets, and juice bars sell packaged juice that was made on site that has not been pasteurized or otherwise processed to ensure its safety. These untreated products should be kept under refrigeration and are required to carry the following warning on the label:
WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
However, the FDA does not require warning labels on juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass, such as at apple orchards, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and juice bars.
Follow these simple steps to prevent illness when purchasing juice:
•Look for the warning label to avoid the purchase of untreated juices. You can find pasteurized or otherwise treated products in your grocers’ refrigerated sections, frozen food cases, or in non-refrigerated containers, such as juice boxes, bottles, or cans. Untreated juice is most likely to be sold in the refrigerated section of a grocery store.
•Don’t hesitate to ask if you are unsure if a juice product is treated, if the labeling is unclear, or if the juice or cider is sold by the glass.
Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within one to three days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to six weeks later. Symptoms of foodborne illness include: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms (such as fever, headache, and body ache). If you think that you or a family member has a foodborne illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Fail: Paulding County restaurant inspections

Food safety is behavior-based. Public health inspections are a necessary means to ensure compliance with food safety regs but are a snap shot in time. It may be more beneficial to provide some on-site training during the inspection to effectively engage operators. They’ll be in their own environment, feel comfortable, and by actually working with them hands-on; you can break the English-as-second language barrier, if that exists.

Doug Gross reports

Two different Paulding County restaurants failed their health and safety inspections this past week, with inspectors finding problems ranging from raw chicken being stored on the floor to food that should have been thrown away still being in the cooler.
China Wok, off of Dallas Nebo Road at 4813 Ridge Rd., scored a 63/U on its inspection Tuesday and Las Palmas Restaurant, at 480 Watts Rd. in Hiram, scored an even lower 55/U on Monday.
At China Wok, inspectors said they found raw chicken being stored in a plastic bin on the floor. Rangoons were found in a small metal bowl being stored on top of a trash can. In the cooler, an uncovered container of raw chicken was being stored above containers of sauce and another bowl of raw chicken was being stored above green onions.
Food residue was found on a knife and potato peeler that were supposed to be clean, an employee was wearing a charm bracelet while preparing food and another was serving food without any kind of hair restraint.
Managers were found not to be properly trained and the restaurant couldn’t show that workers had gotten the proper food safety training.
At Las Palmas, cooked pork, pasta noodles, stuffed peppers and refried beans all were found with date markings that meant they should already have been thrown out. The marking on the beans suggested they were more than two-and-a-half weeks old.
Packages of raw ground beef were being stored next to lettuce, raw shrimp was left in a sink to thaw, two microwaves had food debris in them from the day before and food was being stored at the wrong temperature.
Managers didn’t display they’d had the proper training and the restaurant had no established procedures for what to do if a customer gets sick while there, the report said.
According to state policies, the restaurants will be inspected again within the next 10 days. If either hasn’t addressed the problems from the original inspection by then, inspectors could shut the restaurant down until the problems are fixed.

Not going to solve the issue. The problems may be altered temporarily and the restaurant will be open for business. However, from my experience, unless you can tackle the underlying issues that contributing to the problems initially; the restaurant will resort its’ original state. It’s all about behavior and effective training.

Sea lice threatening salmon production

Sea lice are copepods and have been around since Salmon have been in water. Not a public health concern but a massive threat for salmon farmers.

Zye Angiwan of Immortal News reports

Salmon farms are facing a large parasitic problem, which has disrupted production all over the world. An uptick in sea lice has become a growing problem in salmon farms, jacking up wholesale prices to as high as 50% from last year for salmon products, from fillets to lox. The tiny sea lice attach themselves to the fish and feed on them, eventually killing them or making them inedible, New York Daily News reports. The sea lice have infested salmon farms in the United States, Scotland, Canada, Norway and Chile – all major global suppliers of the popular fish. Scientists and fish farmers are working to control the pesky crustaceans, which costs the international aquaculture industry around $1 billion yearly.

Jake Elliott, vice president of Cooke Aquaculture in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, said, Our work has to be quicker than the evolution of the lice. Experts believe that the problem needs a new slew of advanced technology coupled with older tools such as pesticides. New strategies for breeding the high-protein fish for genetic resistance is necessary, as our methods such as bathing the salmon in warm water to remove the lice or using underwater lasers to take the parasites out. Salmon farmers consider sea lice the biggest threat to their industry, saying that the chronic problem is making the fish more expensive for consumers. The parasites thrive in the tightly packed ocean pens that fish farmers use, according to Shawn Robinson, a scientist with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “There are not enough tools right now to allow the farmer to really effectively deal with it,” he said. Atlantic salmon have managed to keep the sea lice at bay in the wild for centuries, and fish farmers have been managing them for many years. The lice were first identified as a problem in 1994, but the bigger concerns came when the sea lice started evolving to resist the tools farmers used to eradicate them. The chances of sea lice making their way to market-sold salmon is very slim, and should it happen, accidentally consuming a louse would not pose a threat to humans.

Plastic in shellfish

My wife and I were visiting her relatives in France back in 2009 and I can recall her uncle shucking fresh oysters that he had caught just moments before. He served them raw with a fresh wedge of lemon and beer. I enjoyed the beer, couldn’t stand the oysters. It seems that along the coast of British Columbia (Canada), researchers have found plastic particles in shellfish.

Ken Christensen of NPR writes

Sarah Dudas doesn’t mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.
But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she’ll probably point out a bivalve’s gonads or remark on its fertility.
“These are comments I make at dinner parties,” she said. “I’ve spent too much time doing dissections. I’ve done too many spawnings.”
And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests — about plastics in those shellfish.
In 2016, she and her students at Vancouver Island University planted thousands of clams and oysters across coastal British Columbia and let them soak in the sand and saltwater of the Strait of Georgia. Three months later, they dissolved hundreds of them with chemicals, filtered out the biodegradable matter and looked at the remaining material under a microscope. Inside this Pacific Northwest culinary staple, they found a rainbow of little plastic particles.
“So when you eat clams and oysters, you’re eating plastics as well,” Dudas says.
Funded by the Canadian government and British Columbia’s shellfish trade association, the project aimed to learn whether the shellfish aquaculture industry may be contaminating its own crop by using plastic infrastructure like nets, buoys and ropes. The experiment was a response to those claims by local environmental groups.
But tracking the origins of tiny plastic particles in a big ocean is new territory. So Dudas turned to Peter Ross, who has studied the effects of ocean pollution on sea life for 30 years.
“We’ve long known that plastic and debris can be a problem for ocean life,” says Ross, director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program.
In 2013, he began sampling the coast of British Columbia for microplastics. The researchers found up to 9,200 particles of microplastic per cubic meter of seawater — about the equivalent of emptying a salt shaker into a large moving box.
“So, large numbers,” Ross says. “Rather shocking numbers.”

The rest of the story can be found here.

Raw milk is risky

I have friends who grew up on the farm their entire lives and insist on drinking raw milk as they feel that pasteurization completing devoid the milk of nutrients. I can preach about the dangers of consuming raw milk supported with scientific facts but that’s not going to change their minds. They’re adults, they can make their own choices; just don’t impose your choice on a child. When I was younger I was courting a girl who lived on a dairy farm in rural Manitoba (Canada). She insisted on drinking raw milk and offered some to me. I was aware that raw milk was risky but this way before my food safety days. So like many boys courting women, you sometimes make foolish mistakes and so I drank the milk. Puked it up. Not because of microbial reasons, just tasted horrible, maybe it was that batch, not sure.

Kristi Rosa reports
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued an official health advisory regarding a rifampin/penicillin-resistant strain of RB51 Brucella that has been linked with the consumption of raw milk; this follows a alert issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) that was issued back in mid-August.

The DSHS defines raw milk as “milk from cows or other animals that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria.” Raw milk can be contaminated with several different bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter—all bacteria that are known to be responsible for countless disease outbreaks.

The individual who contracted brucellosis is a Texas resident who was exhibiting fever, muscle and joint pain, as well as fatigue. The DSHS reports that blood culture revealed the bacteria responsible for these symptoms was, in fact, Brucella. Further investigation tracked the infection back to a potential source: a licensed raw milk dairy based in Paradise, Texas, called K-Bar Dairy.

The CDC stresses that any individuals who have consumed raw milk from this dairy between June 1, 2017 and August 7, 2017 should “receive appropriate post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).” These individuals are thus at increased risk for infection and should contact their healthcare providers to inquire about PEP and undergo potential diagnostic testing.

K-Bar Dairy has fully cooperated with the CDC’s investigation and has contacted customers and advised them to dispose of any milk that may be contaminated. However, the dairy does not have a record of all customers, therefore, the DSHS alerted the public about the recall on August 14, 2017.

The rest of the story can be found here.

Bad advice: Cook poultry thoroughly


The UK Food Standards Agency advises that poultry should be cooked thoroughly by ensuring it is steaming hot all the way through….NOPE. Use a thermometer and verify that the internal temperature has reached a minimum of 74C (165F). Stop guessing.

Following an article in The Mirror (9 September) which suggests that some people believe that raw chicken dishes are safe to eat, we are reiterating our advice not to eat raw chicken.
Raw chicken is not safe to eat – it could lead to food poisoning. Chicken should always be cooked thoroughly so that it is steaming hot all the way through before serving. To check, cut into the thickest part of the meat and ensure that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
The article states that ‘if birds have been free range, kept in quality conditions, and processed in a clean environment, there’s not so much to worry about’; but this is not the case. All raw chicken is unsafe to eat, regardless of the conditions that the birds have been kept in.
Consuming raw chicken can lead to illness from campylobacter, salmonella and E coli. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. In some cases, these bugs can lead to serious conditions.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Texas edition

An audit investigation of the Austin Public Health Department reveals inspectors napping, shopping, and taking extended breaks. Unfortunately things like this happen and without proper management and effective leadership, things like this will continue to happen.
Disappointing when the actions of a few inspectors tarnish the reputation of others who actually take pride in the work they do and have an ethical, moral backbone. When I first started as an inspector, I recall hearing a number of stories of bribery on the job and other ridiculous things. Like any profession, you have the good, bad, and ugly.

David Barer of KXAN writes
Austin Public Health’s Environmental Services Division, which conducts restaurant inspections among other duties, “wasted city resources as a result of grossly inefficient practices and procedures,” according to the audit.
Auditors also found three environmental health officers wasted time while on the city clock, and two “may have attempted to conceal their misuses on their inspection reports.”
Environmental health officers spend a majority of their time in the field with “limited oversight,” according to the report. Inspectors had no set list of daily inspections; rather, inspectors chose to inspect whichever restaurant was due, and officers were not required to notify supervisors ahead of inspections or check in before or after they were conducted, auditors found.
Investigators said they found several instances of officers saying their inspections took place at times that did not square with what the auditors observed.
According to the report, supervisors were only conducting a “supervisory audit,” which is an in-person check of an officer’s inspection, on less than two percent of inspections. Despite concerns about officers wasting time, management did not regularly review or question how time was being used in the field.
· KXAN Investigation: Restaurant inspectors weren’t meeting inspection-rate standards.
Audit office investigators followed three environmental health officers inspectors during their daily routine and found inspectors napping, shopping and exercising, according to the report.
Investigators found one environmental health officer working out at a local gym for an hour and a half to two hours on at least two separate days. She also left work an hour early on one occasion. She “also may have attempted to conceal the misuse by misrepresenting the time in and out on her written inspection reports,” the audit states.
Another employee was observed napping in her car and misrepresented the times she went in and came out of a restaurant inspection, auditors said.

The rest of the story can be found here:


Food handler training in Hawaii

I was asked to teach a couple of food safety courses in Hawaii a couple of years ago in February. I live in Winnipeg, Canada where the temperature hovers around -45C around that time. You do the math. I told my wife to pack up the bags and kids cause we’re getting the hell out here….
I am not going to refute that food safety training is essential for food handlers to prevent unnecessary public barfing. It’s how the training is delivered that makes the difference. Different people learn in different ways and so it is critical for trainers to accommodate student needs.
I have always been a proponent of providing on-site, hands-on training based on behavioral science. Prior to starting my grad work on food safety training, I took the grassroots approach and asked frontline workers, in particular, English as Second Language students how they would benefit from a training course. Answer is always a resounding on-site, hands-on training that is short, concise and to the point.

John Steinhorst of the Garden island writes
The Hawaii Department of Health amended Chapter 50, Food Safety Code, after public hearings were held on Kauai, Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu in December 2016 and March 2017.
One of the major rule changes is a mandate for Food Handlers Education certification for persons-in-charge at all food establishments. This will ensure a minimum baseline of food safety knowledge for facility owners and managers.
“In reality, I think it’s probably a good idea that more people are certified to handle food safely,” said John Ferguson, owner of Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Company. “It just makes the environment in restaurants a lot safer for everybody.”

This is no conclusive evidence to support this statement. Having a Certificate doesn’t mean anything, it’s all about human behavior.

Studies have shown that food establishments with properly trained persons-in-charge have a lower occurrence of critical food safety violations that are directly linked to food illnesses.
“I already have some employees that have gone through the program at the school, so they are certified themselves,” Ferguson said. “I was certified many times throughout my career, but I probably need a refresher as well too.
The new rule requires at least one employee present during normal work hours, including during food preparation, must have a formal food handler’s training level certification. DOH will accept certification recognized by the American National Standards Institute.

The rest of the story can be found here:

Investigating the potential benefits of on-site food safety training for Folklorama, a temporary food service event.

Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 10, October 2012 , pp. 1829-1834(6)
Mancini, Roberto; Murray, Leigh; Chapman, Benjamin J.; Powell, Douglas A.


Update to food safety laws in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska to impose new updates to food safety laws including no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods for bartenders that handle sliced lemons and other like garnishes. Studies have shown that the rind and even the flesh of lemon slices harbor a plethora of microorganisms, either from the environment or the food handler. However, the true impact on public health has not been evaluated and there has been resistance from industry on the new proposed update.

Devin Kelly of Dispatch News writes

Anchorage bartenders and waiters may have to start using gloves or utensils to make mixed drinks with lemons, limes, olives or other garnishments if city health officials move forward with a recently unveiled update to local food safety laws.
Other proposed food safety law revisions, released last week, relate to wild game meat donations, wild mushrooms and the city’s growing cottage food industry. Health officials say Anchorage is trying to come more in line with state and federal regulations aimed at preventing foodborne illnesses.
This would be the most substantive update to the city’s food safety laws since 2010. Among the key changes:
* Elimination of an Anchorage law that allows bare-hand contact in bars and restaurants when it comes to garnishing beverages. Right now, Anchorage bartenders are exempt from state laws that require gloves or utensils to handle any kind of food that’s considered ready to eat.
* New regulations would exist for the sale in Anchorage of cottage food, or homespun, non-temperature-controlled products like bread, cookies, jams, pickles and relishes that weren’t acknowledged anywhere in city law until earlier this year. Officials say the changes reflect the booming popularity of farmers markets in the state. The revised update would create new licensing requirements, such as an Anchorage food worker card and recipe submissions.
* Freshly caught fish could be cooked at 125 degrees, about 20 degrees below the temperature recommended by federal authorities. Members of the Anchorage restaurant industry requested the change, hoping to cook more tender, flaky fish, according to DeAnn Fetko, deputy director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services.
* Wild mushrooms would no longer need to be reviewed by a certified specialist, a rule that hasn’t been enforced because of the scarcity of those specialists, officials said. The state certifies mushroom producers, and Anchorage restaurants will be required to indicate on a menu that wild mushrooms are “not an inspected product.”
* Wild game meat could be donated to food banks and cultural programs, an old local law that officials say was inadvertently left out of the 2010 update.
* Businesses would be required to clean and maintain “grease interceptors,” or grease traps, at least every 30 days, and keep the records to show inspectors.

The rest of the story can be found here:


Sick food handlers are a food safety risk

A while back I was awarded a contract to teach food safety in correctional institutions. I clearly remember an incident when I was talking about not going to work when you are ill as this poses a food safety risk and I went to explain why. Then this massive looking dude about the size of Terry Crews jumps out of his seat yelling at me. Apparently he had worked in the food service industry and had to support a family of five without having any sick time. So, when he was sick he went to work. Thereafter it was blur as 5 correctional officers jumped in the room to detain my friend as I soiled myself from fear…

Heather Williams writes

We put a lot of trust in the people who prepare and serve our food. We expect that our food is safe to eat and handled appropriately. In the United States, we have standards for food safety and many regulations in place. Why wouldn’t we trust those who prepare and serve our food? Unfortunately, a significant number of food workers have admitted to working while knowingly being sick. There are many reasons someone might do this. Some do it for financial reasons, others for sense of duty, and then there are some who fear they may lose their job if they do not cover their shift. Could foodborne illness cases dramatically decrease if food workers could have sick leave, which would allow them monetary compensation for identifying their illness and not passing it on to other unsuspecting patrons? Let’s explore this.
Restaurants Are a Primary Source of Foodborne Outbreaks
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 48 million people become ill in the United States each year from foodborne infection. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized and foodborne illness claims about 3,000 lives each year. Over half of all foodborne outbreaks reported to the CDC can be linked back to eating in restaurants or delicatessens.
In one study, a group of investigators gathered data from FoodNet. This resource is also known as the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, a central database where participating sites report information regarding foodborne illness. In a study analyzing 457 foodborne disease outbreaks, 300 were restaurant related. 98% of the 300 had only one contributing factor causing the outbreak. The most common contributing factor resulting in 137 outbreaks was “handling by an infected person or carrier of pathogen.” This is a significant number considering one lapse can have such high statistical repercussions.
The purpose of the study was to identify the contributing factors in restaurant-linked foodborne disease outbreaks. 75% of the outbreaks investigated were linked to Norovirus and Salmonella. These infections were predominately linked back to transmission by food workers. Significant resources are devoted to preventing contamination of food products before they make it to the point of service. Restaurants must ensure that staff have adequate training and understanding for how to handle the food once it becomes in their custody. Food worker health and hygiene were primary factors in contributing to foodborne illness.

The rest of the story can be found be here: