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.

Where did the hog come from?

Who knows….. I have run in to similar problems when I was in the field and it is incredible the stories people make up when you ask for the origin of products. If it is not from an approved source, just say it and get it out of your restaurant.

Zack McDonald of News Herald writes:

A whole hog of questionable origins and more than 100 live roaches led inspectors in December to temporarily halt operations for the second time at a Panama City Beach restaurant, according to health inspection reports.
It was the only restaurant reported to have been issued an emergency closure in the past month.
In December, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) issued an emergency closure for Cool Runnings Caribbean Cuisine, 13312 Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach. Sanitation and safety specialists reported finding conditions that could contribute directly to a food-borne illness or injury at the time of their inspection. Cool Runnings, however, corrected the issues that led to the closure and was allowed to reopen within a day, state inspectors reported.
DBPR specifies the inspections are snapshots of a business at that time only. Cool Runnings has an active state licenses and is currently open. It is, however, the second time within the past few months the business has been temporarily shuttered for health violations, according to DBPR reports.
On Dec. 5, inspectors reported arriving at Cool Runnings about 2 p.m. to find a whole hog being stored in a reach-in freezer. After the restaurant was unable to provide an invoice or receipt to show the hog’s origins, inspectors issued a “stop sale” order on the food item, DBPR reported.
Inspectors also reported finding more than 100 live roaches in various areas of the kitchen.
“Observed 75 live roaches on the shelf next to root beer reach in cooler, in the back prep area,” inspectors wrote. “Observed 16 live roaches on the wall by root beer reach-in cooler. Upon eight live roaches underneath the prep table in back prep area. Observed five live roaches behind two-door reach in cooler in back prep area. Observed four live roaches underneath the three compartment sink in back prep area.”
Management of Cool Runnings did not return a request for comment on the closure. DBPR reported the business corrected the issue and was allowed to reopen the following morning about 10:30 a.m.
In August, inspectors reported finding flying insects in the restaurant’s kitchen, food preparation area and food storage area. In addition to the business operating with an expired DBPR license, officials also reported finding about 75 live roaches in areas near the restaurant’s hot water heater, underneath a reach-in cooler and around an umbrella during that visit.
That was the first emergency closure issued to the business since it opened in February, DBPR records indicated.
The closure brings the total to 21 for 2017 in the central Panhandle. The bulk of the closures occurred since the end of June after a two-month stint during which DBPR went without a closure.

A Mancini New Year Festivity

The festivities are beginning early in the Mancini household this year with friends and family and we plan to keep the good times going. On New Year’s Eve my family and I wake up early, well I have 2 young kids, so sleeping in is not an option, and we prepare a massive outdoor fire in preparation of roasting different cuts of meat on a spit over the entire day. We set up an outdoor bar, there is music playing and of course friends and family gathering. Looking forward to it. The only problem is that the temperature is not going to be in my favor, be around -27C since I reside in Winnipeg (Canada).

SAMSUNG CSC

My father-in-law is responsible in roasting the different cuts of meat, my son is the bartender and I am the food safety guy checking temps and preventing cross-contamination. I’m also responsible in bathing the meat with olive oil using a rosemary stick. Good times.

Wishing all our barfblog readers a Happy New Year.

Multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) in 13 states

Eastern Canada has been experiencing an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce. Since the lettuce is eaten raw, this increases the likelihood of acquiring the infection. It appears now that the states are experiencing a similar outbreak. The CDC is performing whole genome sequencing to determine if this outbreak is related to the Canadian romaine lettuce outbreak.

CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are
investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) in 13 states. Seventeen illnesses have been reported from California (3), Connecticut (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), Vermont (1) and Washington (1). Illnesses started on dates from November 15 through December 8, 2017. The Public Health Agency of Canada also is investigating an outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections in several provinces.
CDC is performing whole genome sequencing on samples of bacteria making people sick in the United States to give us information about whether these illnesses are related to the illnesses in Canada. Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada. In the United States, state and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started. CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.
Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.

Enjoy the holidays and follow safe food practices

As Christmas fast approaches, it is time for family and friends to get together and share in the festivities. This year my extended family and I have rigged together a massive outdoor spit and intend on roasting different cuts of meat all day. My job is to lather the meat with rosemary infused olive oil and ensure food safety. The latter is a given since my family knows my background and my less than par culinary skills. I’ll leave the cooking to my father-in-law and kids, I’ll make sure we have thermometers on hand.

The Boston Globe reports

One of the most rewarding parts of throwing a holiday bash is hearing the next day from guests reminiscing about how delicious and fun the prior evening was for all. What you don’t want to receive are messages about an impromptu afterparty thrown at the local emergency room. Food poisoning is a horrific holiday present to give folks as it’s a gift that could keep giving . . . for days.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people get sick from food poisoning each year, with 128,000 of them having to be hospitalized. Bouts of nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are not only unpleasant reminders that you ate some bad food, but this type of foodborne illness can accelerate to the point that is life-threatening. According to the CDC, 3,000 people die annually from food poisoning.
If children, pregnant women, older adults, and/or those with certain chronic conditions are on your guest list, they are even more susceptible to food poisoning because their immune systems might be weakened or not as strong as they need to be yet. To help you enjoy your holiday season without regret, here are five strategies to safeguard your guests:
Be mindful when making cookies and dough ornaments
If you are baking cookies or making raw dough ornaments at your party, you could be asking for trouble. While you shouldn’t eat raw egg-containing cookie dough or batter because of the increased risk of salmonella, that’s only part of the problem. According to the Food and Drug Administration, flour may contain bacteria that can also sicken you. In 2016, there was an outbreak of foodborne illness from bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121. Because of this, the FDA is now recommending that you don’t let children play with raw dough. If you or your guests come in contact with flour, make sure that all hands, work surfaces, and utensils are thoroughly washed when the baking and crafts are completed.
Alter Grandma’s homemade eggnog recipe
Sipping eggnog topped with ground cinnamon and nutmeg just screams holiday cheer. Unfortunately, making the traditional recipe with raw eggs will put you and your guests at risk. The CDC recommends that you swap out the raw eggs from the eggnog recipe for pasteurized eggs that can be found at many supermarkets. Even better, save yourself time and worry by buying pre-made eggnog that is already pasteurized. Just don’t tell Grandma. 
Roast a safe turkey or chicken — and don’t wash it first
In a study done by researchers at the CDC, poultry was found to be the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. The good news is that proper cooking will kill nasty bacteria. To avoid food poisoning, get yourself a reliable food thermometer and make sure that it is inserted in the innermost part of the thigh, wing, and breast of the poultry. If the thermometer reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees, you are good to go. Contrary to popular thought, don’t wash the poultry before cooking it. Giving your bird a bath in your kitchen sink will not wash away the bacteria, but it could splatter it in the sink and contaminate surrounding surfaces.
Buffer the buffet table
When putting food out on a buffet table, you need to remember to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Cold foods, such as cooked shrimp and salads, should be placed on a pan of ice to help keep these items at 40 degrees or colder. Use heating trays to keep hot foods at 140 degrees to keep bacteria from multiplying to levels that can make folks sick. Better yet, only put out small portions of these foods at a time. When the platter is empty, replenish the buffet table with a new platter of food from the refrigerator or oven. When the party is over, perishable foods left at room temperature for two hours or more should be tossed.
Provide parting gifts that go the distance
If you are sending your guests home with leftovers, be mindful of the distance they have to travel. If they’ll be on the road more than two hours, perishables should be packed in a cooler with ice or cold packs that will keep the food at 40 degrees.

 

New proposed changes to the Regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act in Ontario

 

New proposed changes to the Regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) in Ontario (Canada) are intended to modernize and ensure public health programs and services remain current to protect the health of Ontarians. A couple of the major highlights to the proposed changes to the Food Premises Regulation include mandatory on-site disclosure of inspections and mandatory food handler training for one person on shift at all times. There are a number of other modifications that include amendments to cleaning and sanitizing, temperature control and food handling.

The Ontario Food Premises Regulation was outdated and a number of concerns, in particular, with cleaning and sanitizing requirements have to come light a number of times in the past by industry and Regulators alike. Glad to see the modernization of the Regulation. However, when reading further into the proposed changes, one proposed amendment to another Regulation under HPPA is to remove the professional qualifications requirements for public health inspectors. Public health inspectors undertake specialized education and training in their field followed by a rigorous process of becoming Certified. Why remove their professional qualifications? They are highly trained on how to conduct food safety inspections, pool inspections and any other public health related inspections. Removing their qualifications in Ontario will not only provide inconsistency in Canada, they will also lose credibility.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great time to be thankful and to celebrate with family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the US. In Canada, Thanksgiving fell on October 9th, my family and I celebrated with lots of good food and friends. We decided not to go with the traditional turkey and ended up making lasagna, enough to feed a small army. Tonight to share in the festivities with my friends to the South, my 6-year old son and I intend on making Turkey and will cook the bird to an internal temperature of 74C (165F).

FOX 5 reports

A catering company whose food may have sickened hundreds of workers during a company Thanksgiving dinner has voluntarily shut down while the investigation is going on.
Complaints have been all over social media and prompted a health department investigation into a possible Salmonella outbreak.
Employees at the TOYO Tire plant in White, Georgia Were sounding off on social media. They said a number of the 1,800 people who ate a catered Thanksgiving meal last week got Salmonella poisoning.
The meal spanned 2 days. Workers who are out sick said they aren’t sure when they will be back. They said they started getting sick Thursday and so did their coworkers.
FOX 5 News spoke with an employee’s wife took her husband home from the hospital with Salmonella information packets and a handful of prescriptions.
“They gave him two bags of fluids, did blood work did a salmonella culture, gave him some IV antibiotics and um basically he’s being treated for salmonella poisoning,” said Stephanie, who didn’t want us to use her last name.
Stephanie’s husband started getting sick Thursday night and got progressively worse over the weekend. He said he’s not the only one out of work Monday.
“I can only speak from what I know for sure,” said Stephanie. “My brother in law was in the emergency room yesterday and was also treated for salmonella poisoning and several of my husband’s coworkers that he has spoken to he has directly spoken to have been sick and were in the ER.”
When asked how many people are out of work and how many people are out from sickness, this is the statement a TOYO spokesperson provided:
“The health and safety of our employees is our highest priority. We are cooperating fully with health authorities as we seek to determine the cause of these illnesses.”
A representative at the district health department who said both the caterer and TOYO are cooperating. They wrote:
“While we suspect this is a foodborne-related outbreak, that hasn’t been confirmed. Cause of the outbreak is not yet known; the illness or illnesses have not yet been confirmed.”
Cultures will take days to officially identify Salmonella and the health department said it could be next week before they name a cause.

 

Campylobacter uses other organisms to multiply and spread

Campylobacter spp. are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions and do not multiply at temperatures below 30C, however, they can survive temperatures as low as 4C for several months. They remain to be a prevalent pathogen on chicken and identified as a source of many outbreaks associated with unpasteurized milk.

Kingston University researchers have found that Campylobacter jejuni can multiply and spread using another organism’s cells.

Kingston University researchers have shown how a leading cause of bacterial food poisoning can multiply and spread – by using another organism’s cells as a Trojan horse.
Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis in the United States and Europe, often infecting humans through raw or undercooked poultry. The new study revealed how the bacteria can infiltrate micro-organisms called amoebae, multiplying within their cells while protected inside its host from harsh environmental conditions.
As well as leading to a better understanding of how bacteria survive, the research could help efforts to prevent the spread of infection, according to lead author and PhD student Ana Vieira.
“Establishing that Campylobacter can multiply inside its amoebic hosts is important, as they often exist in the same environments – such as in drinking water for chickens on poultry farms – which could increase the risk of infection,” she said. “The amoeba may act as a protective host against some disinfection procedures, so the findings could be used to explore new ways of helping prevent the bacteria’s spread by breaking the chain of infection.”
The relationship between Campylobacter and amoebae has been hotly debated in scientific circles – with conflicting findings in previous studies as to whether the bacteria multiply inside, or only in the beneficial environment around, amoebae cells.
The Kingston University team used a modification of a process that assesses the bacteria’s ability to invade cells – called the gentamycin protection assay – to confirm they can survive and multiply while inside the amoeba’s protective environment.
This allows Campylobacter to thrive, escaping the amoeba cells in larger numbers – shining a light on how it spreads and causes disease, professor of microbiology Andrey Karlyshev, a supervisor on the study, explained.
“Our research gives us a better understanding of bacterial survival,” he said. “Because amoebae are widespread, we have shown how Campylobacter bacteria are able to use them as a Trojan horse for infection of the food chain. Otherwise they wouldn’t survive, as they are very sensitive to the environment.”
As part of the study, the researchers showed how a system used by the bacteria to expel toxins – known as a multidrug efflux pump – plays a key role in its ability to thrive within the amoebae.
The team examined how this system helps the bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, which could lead to new methods of preventing resistance from developing, Professor Karlyshev added.
“Campylobacter is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics because of their wide use on humans and animals,” he said. “Due to its role in antibiotic resistance and bacterial survival in amoebae, the efflux pump could prove to be a good target for the development of antibacterial drugs.
“Targeting the bacterial factors required for survival within amoebae could help to prevent Campylobacter from spreading in the environment and colonising chickens. This is turn could help reduce its ability to enter the food chain and cause disease in humans.”

 

Power of media, Broadway actor claims he was ill after dining at Chipotle

Kate Taylor of Business Insider writes:

Chipotle’s shares dropped after a Broadway star blamed the burrito chain for a recent illness.
“I, as you can see, am in the hospital and I have fluids in my arm because the food did not agree with me and I almost died,” People reported that Jeremy Jordan, a Broadway actor and star of “Supergirl,” said in an Instagram story on Thursday.
The story of Jordan’s illness picked up media coverage over the weekend.
On Monday, Chipotle’s stock fell up to 5.9% — the lowest level in almost five years, according to Bloomberg.
Chipotle denied any link between Jordan’s illness and the chain.
“We were sorry to hear Jeremy was sick and were able to get in touch with him directly regarding where and when he ate,” spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email to Business Insider. “There have been no other reported claims of illness at the restaurant where he dined. We take all claims seriously, but we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle given the details he shared with us.”
The reaction shows just how susceptible Chipotle is to concerns about food safety.
In 2016, the company’s stock dropped 3.5% after a single report on Twitter said that someone had gotten sick after eating at a Manhattan Chipotle.
Chipotle is still struggling to build sales following an E. coli outbreak in late 2015 that sickened more than 50 people in 14 states.
In October, Chipotle’s shares fell nearly 12% after missing expectations for its most recent quarter. The company’s revenue reached $1.13 billion in the quarter, falling short of the $1.14 billion estimate.

Baltimore proposes inspection disclosure

My little boy turned 2 yesterday and my family and I went all out to make this a memorable event. He’s into Paw Patrol (cartoon about dogs who rescue) and so the house was littered with Paw Patrol posters, napkins, plates, everything and dad’s wallet was depleted.
Worth it when I saw the look on his face.
I was in charge of picking up cake and food for the evenings’ BBQ from a local grocery store. In Manitoba (Canada) there is no on-site disclosure system to inform me how the place fared on their latest health inspection but I have done enough of them in my time to understand what to look for when I am shopping/dining and I ask questions, it’s the food safety in me. I observe behaviors; it gives me a more comprehensive picture of a food establishment’s culture. The City of Baltimore is proposing that restaurants post their latest inspection report to increase public transparency. Anything to better inform the public on food safety is better than nothing. I am curious to see if patrons will actually read the report and accurately assess the risk.

Baltimore Sun reports

At least once every year each of Baltimore City’s approximately 5,700 restaurants and eateries must pass a health department inspection in order to stay in business. Those checks are essential not only to ensure that minimum standards of cleanliness are observed in food preparation and service but also to prevent the spread of serious foodborne illnesses such as Norovirus and Salmonella. Yet until recently the public had virtually no way of knowing when a restaurant failed to pass muster or the reasons officials shut it down. Baltimore needs to make the process more transparent so that citizens can be more confident making up their own minds about where and what to eat.
A bill last year sponsored by City Councilman Brandon Scott would have required health department officials to assign a letter grade to restaurant inspection reports and display the results in a prominent place. Many other cities, including New York, have adopted similar grading systems over the initial objections of restaurateurs who argued consumers would confuse it for an endorsement of some restaurants over others. That appears not to have happened in the Big Apple, where the restaurant industry is still booming. Yet Mr. Scott’s initiative ultimately failed in the council, even though the debate did convince Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen to post restaurant inspection reports on her department’s website.
Now Mr. Scott is back this year with a new proposal that would require restaurants to post their latest health inspection reports in plain view outside their shops. Unlike his earlier effort, this one wouldn’t require inspectors to give restaurants a letter grade. We appreciate restaurants’ objection to such a system but also the value an easy-to-understand rating would have for diners. Though it may be unlikely that potential patrons would be as inclined (or equipped) to judge the contents of an entire inspection report as they would a simple letter grade, posting them would still represent a vast improvement in transparency. Diners could look up a restaurant’s inspection report on the Internet, but they’re much more likely to consider the issue of food safety if reports are posted in plain sight.
“We need to join the rest of the civilized world on this issue,” Mr. Scott says. “The city inspection reports are already on line, and there are only a handful of major cities that don’t require restaurants to show their health department reports on site. In Baltimore, for some reason, we’ve been slow to do that.”
The federal government estimates that about 1 in 6 Americans are sickened by a foodborne illness each year, which adds up to about 48 million cases nationally. Though the American food supply is considered one of the safest in the world, foodborne illness account for an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths every year. Young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for contracting such diseases, but they can strike anyone of any age with deadly effect.
That’s why we urge the City Council to revisit Mr. Scott’s proposed legislation with the aim of helping consumers judge for themselves whether the food they are offered is safe to eat. Some restaurant owners object that posting inspection reports prominently on site could confuse diners who may not know how to interpret the results or who may become alarmed by a reported problem that appears to be more serious than it really is. But that’s a cause to educate the public, not to hide important information. If a report prompts consumers to ask questions about a particular food safety issue, it’s probably something the restaurant owner ought to be paying more attention to anyway.
Would any requirement that establishments post their inspection reports in a prominent place make customers less likely to patronize a particular restaurant or eatery? We doubt that any of the city’s top-tier dining places would see much, if any, change in consumer attitudes, not least because they’ve spent years developing reputations for excellence in all aspects of their business, including food safety and cleanliness. It’s the smaller, more informal neighborhood establishments that are most likely to feel the effects of a change in the law, but they’re also the most likely to be cited for health code violations. By encouraging them to strive for a clean bill of health every time Mr. Scott’s proposed legislation would give them more than enough incentive to offer fare that is not only tasty but safe to eat as well.
As for the criticism this proposal is bound to receive that restaurant inspections are a minor issue compared to Baltimore’s epidemic of violence, we would note that Brandon Scott is the last city official who could be accused of paying insufficient attention to the crime rate. On the contrary, no member of the council has been so consistently at the forefront of efforts to develop strategies for improving public safety and for ensuring accountability. He’s allowed to do more than one thing at a time. In fact, the taxpayers who pay his salary should expect it.

One way to control vermin….

Shoot them.

Richard Allison reports
Milling wheat growers are being reminded not to use shotguns to control vermin in grain stores, as some flour mills have reported increasing amounts of lead shot being found among grain intakes.
Martin Savage, trade policy manager at the National Association of British and Irish Millers (Nabim), says while some shot can be screened out, a significant quantity may remain to contaminate end-products.
“Despite many attempts, it is impossible to determine whether the shot results from farmers shooting within grain stores or if it comes from shooting over standing crops,” he said.
See also: New significant wheat yellow rust strain is identified
He pointed to a recent case where a grower’s crops became contaminated after a neighbouring farmer operated a simulated “driven-game” clay shooting operation on adjacent land and the shot fell onto the nearby wheat crop.
However, Mr Savage added that it is difficult to understand how significant quantities of shot can result from this practice, and survive the harvesting process.
“Therefore, most of us believe that in the majority of these contamination cases, the shot comes from pest control within farm grain stores. Farmers should certainly never shoot within grain stores.”
Live cartridges
Of greater concern for some mills is the recent discovery of live ammunition.
“Flour millers have not only detected lead shot in wheat, but also found spent .22 cartridges and even live .410 cartridges at intake,” Mr Savage said.
He explained that the problem is that the milling process flattens the shot to paper-thin proportions that cannot always be found by the existing in-line metal detection systems.
In the past, there have been recalls of finished baked products which are not only very costly, but potentially damaging to the reputation of the food producer.
“We will always attempt to identify the loads containing shot and will not hesitate to seek compensation where problems occur,” Mr Savage said.