Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Download C.V. »

PM Trudeau manscaping? A poutine donut? Yes and happy Canada Day

Saturday, July 1, 2017, is the 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding as a nation.

The N.Y. Times says in a series of vignettes, it is a day celebrated by newcomers seeking economic opportunity or refuge from war, immigrants of several generations and descendants of arrivals from more than a hundred years ago. For aboriginal peoples, who remain subjected to discriminatory policies, the anniversary is not one to celebrate.

USA Today reports that Tim Hortons will celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by offering poutine doughnut at five of its restaurants. A poutine doughnut is one the chain’s Honey Dip Donuts topped with potato wedges, gravy and cheese curds.

And TMZ reports Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  posed for the cover of Delta Airlines Sky Mag … the July issue. The shot is perfectly framed … making his crotch the centerpiece.

This is the tragedy that Canada has become: A hot leader with the media sense and policy sense of a moose, by posing for Delta.

No one flies Delta, unless they have to.

 

Where’s the fun in that? BPI settles with ABC in pink slime defamation case

There’s no settlement details; both sides claim victory; lawyers get rich – pink slime and media are both disappointing.

4 T

BPI said: “We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila. While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012. Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious. This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business, while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family.”  

ABC said, “ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of ‘lean finely textured beef.’ Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company’s interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer’s right to know about the products they purchase.”

This after three weeks of jury trial and testimony in a courtroom in South Dakota.

What can be learned?

Not much that isn’t already known.

People want to know about their food. Where it was grown, how, what’s been added and if it’s safe.

The N.Y. Times, as usual, gets that little bit right in a commentary in 2012, but wrongly thinks right-to-know is something new, that media amplification is something new because of shiny new toys, and offers no practical suggestions on what to do.

The term pink slime was coined in 2002 in an internal e-mail by a scientist at the Agriculture Department who felt it was not really ground beef. The term was first publicly reported in The Times in late 2009.

In April 2011, celebtard chef Jamie Oliver helped create a more publicly available pink slime yuck factor and by the end of 2011, McDonald’s and others had stopped using pink slime.

On March 7, 2012, ABC News recycled these bits, along with some interviews with two of the original USDA opponents of the process (primarily because it was a form of fraud, and not really just beef).

Industry and others responded the next day, and although the story had been around for several years, the response drove the pink slime story to gather media momentum – a story with legs.

BPI said pink slime was meat so consumers didn’t need to be informed, and everything was a gross misunderstanding. BPI blamed media and vowed to educate public. Others said “it’s pink so it’s meat” and that the language of pink slime was derogatory and needed to be changed. USDA said it was safe for schools but quickly decided that schools would be able to choose whatever beef they wanted, pushing decision-making in the absence of data or labels to the local PTA. An on-line petition was launched.

Sensing the media taint, additional retailers rushed to proclaim themselves free of the pink stuff.

BPI took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, the favored reading choice for pink slime aficionados, and four mid-west governors banded together to repeat the same erroneous messages during a media-show-and-tell at a BPI plant. Because political endorsements rarely work, and the story had spread to the key demographic of burger eaters, others sensed opportunity in the trashing of BPI. Wendy’s, Whole Foods, Costco, A&P, Publix and others launched their own media campaigns proclaiming they’ve never used the stuff and never would.

Guess they didn’t get their dude-it’s-beef T-shirts.

These well-intentioned messages only made things worse for the beef producers and processors they were intended to protect.

Here’s what can be learned for the next pink slime. And there will be lots more.

Lessons of pink slime

  • don’t fudge facts (not really 100% beef?)
  • facts are never enough, although facts are the underpinnings of journalism, ABC
  • changing the language is bad strategy (been tried with rBST, genetically engineered foods, doesn’t work)
  • telling people they need to be educated is arrogant, invalidates and trivializes people’s thoughts
  • don’t blame media for lousy communications
  • any farm, processor, retailer or restaurant can be held accountable for food production – and increasingly so with smartphones, facebook and new toys
  • real or just an accusation, consumers will rightly react based on the information available
  • amplification of messages through media is nothing new, especially if those messages support a pre-existing world-view
  • food is political but should be informed by data
  • data should be public
  • paucity of data about pink slime that is publicly available make statements like it’s safe, or it’s gross, difficult to quantify
  • relying on government validation builds suspicion rather than trust; if BPI has the safety data, make it public
  • what does right-to-know really mean? Do you want to say no?
  • if so, have public policy on how information is made public and why
  • choice is a fundamental value
  • what’s the best way to enable choice, for those who don’t want to eat pink slime or for those who care more about whether a food will make their kids barf?
  • proactive more than reactive; both are required, but any food provider should proudly proclaim – brag – about everything they do to enhance food safety.
  • perceived food safety is routinely marketed at retail; instead market real food safety so consumers actually have a choice and hold producers and processors – conventional, organic or otherwise – to a standard of honesty.
  • if restaurant inspection results can be displayed on a placard via a QR code read by smartphones when someone goes out for a meal, why not at the grocery store or school lunch?
  • link to web sites detailing how the food was produced, processed and safely handled, or whatever becomes the next theatrical production – or be held hostage

Corned beef and pastrami with poop: New York deli flooded with ‘fecal matter’ due to bad pipes, suit says

Maya Rajamani of DNA Info reports the basement of the Stage Door Deli & Restaurant was deluged with “sewage and fecal matter” after the building’s owner failed to inspect and maintain the eatery’s pipes, a new lawsuit charges.

The restaurant at 360 Ninth Ave., between West 30th and 31st streets, was no longer able to use its basement after the pipes connecting to the city’s main utility lines broke on July 30, 2016, the suit filed against the landlord Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court claims.

Building owner 30th Street and 9th Avenue Enterprises LLC was supposed to inspect and maintain the pipes but failed to do so, the suit notes.

The diner, known for the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches it has served for the past 17 years, moved into the Ninth Avenue space after a rent hike forced it out of its longtime home across from Penn Station in 2015.

When the pipes broke last year, “sewage and fecal matter” seeped into the basement, “causing both substantial health concerns and damage to food products, food supplies and food preparation areas,” the complaint says.

 

AI and dairy

Why did I write the other day about an artificial intelligence dude who I knew 25 years ago, and whose primary application at the time was ensuring elevators in skyscrapers were efficiently dispersed to floors that needed them – oh, and vision?

Because he made the N.Y Times with an hyperbaric headline about making Toronto a high-tech hotbed (he didn’t write the headline) and because his AI basics are making their way into food safety.

Caroline Diana of Inquisitr writes IBM and Cornell University, which primarily focuses on dairy research, will make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to make dairy safe(r) for consumption.

By sequencing and analyzing the DNA and RNA of food microbiomes, researchers plan to create new tools that can help monitor raw milk to detect anomalies that represent food safety hazards and possible fraud.

While many food producers already have rigorous processes in place to ensure food safety hazards are managed appropriately, this pioneering application of genomics will be designed to enable a deeper understanding and characterization of microorganisms on a much larger scale than has previously been possible.

Only a PR thingy could have written this paragraph: “This work could eventually be extended to the larger context of the food supply chain — from farm to fork — and, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, may lead to new insights into how microorganisms interact within a particular environment. A carefully designed informatics infrastructure developed in the IBM Accelerated Discovery Lab, a data and analytics hub for IBM researchers and their clients and partners, will help the team parse and aggregate terabytes of genomic data.”

Better than a poorly designed informatics infrastructure.

Body to be exhumed for paternity test: Elementary Drawing with Salvador Dali

I tried not to post this, but it brought back so many happy memories of watching SCTV in Canada as a teenager, and the awesome manscaping of Salvador Dali.

The food safety hook would be the Salmonella cross-contamination with the eggs.

AP reports a  Spanish judge has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali be exhumed to settle a paternity suit, despite opposition from the state-run foundation that manages the artist’s estate.

Dali, considered one of the ­fathers of surrealist art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeast town of ­Figueres.

Pilar Abel, a tarot-card reader from the nearby city of Girona who was born in 1956, says she is the offspring of an affair between Dali and her mother, Antonia.

At the time of the alleged ­affair, Dali was married to his muse, Gala, who died seven years before the painter. Gala had a daughter from an earlier marriage but the couple had no children of their own. Upon his death, at age 84, Dali bestowed his estate to the Spanish state.

On Monday, a Madrid court statement said that tests with DNA from Dali’s embalmed body were necessary because there were no other existing biological remains with which to make a genetic comparison.

7 sick: Outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to raw frozen breaded chicken thingies in Canada, again

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with lotsa other bureau-types to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in four provinces with cases of human illness linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.

PHAC feels compelled to tell Canadians the risk is low and illnesses can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation and cooking practices are followed when preparing these types of food products. This outbreak is a reminder that frozen raw breaded chicken products contain raw poultry and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products.

It’s the just-cook-it stance, which doesn’t account for cross-contamination, and utterly fails to account for the BS marketing that companies use to market this shit (see video below, when we had no idea how to shoot video).

Currently, there are seven cases of Salmonella illness in four provinces: British Columbia (1), Alberta (4), Ontario (1) and New Brunswick (1). Two people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals became sick between April and May of this year. The majority of cases (71%) are male. The average age of cases is 26 years.

It’s the end of June. How much time is needed to go public with an identifiable foodborne risk? And no company identified? A public health disgrace.

Direct video observation of adults and tweens cooking raw frozen chicken thingies (not the real title)

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820


Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.


Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.


Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.


Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Poison customers, it’s good for business: Burger row hits the grills in New Zealand; try a thermometer

New Zealand’s oldest licensed premises has pulled a burger that’s been the cornerstone of its menu – blaming it on bureaucratic red tape gone mad.

Dan Fraser, executive chef at the Duke of Marlborough restaurant in the Bay of Islands, was left stewing after a visit from a Ministry of Primary Industries inspector on Thursday. 

Nicole Lawton of The Sunday Star Times reports new food preparation guidelines from MPI state minced meat and liver needs to be cooked at high temperatures for a longer amount of time than previously, to avoid contamination. 

Fraser said the new rules were a raw deal and will now prevent him serving his signature burger The Governor’s Burger which is pink and juicy in the middle. 

The Governor’s Burger features bacon, cheese, pickle, tomato, chipotle mayonnaise and a medium rare beef mince patty.

“It’s a really good burger, we really pride ourselves in presenting it to our customers,” Fraser said.

“Basically, the ministry is telling us how our customers need to eat their food.”

MPI food and beverage manager Sally Johnston, said the new rules didn’t entirely ban medium-rare meat – but chefs would have to change how they cooked it.

“If they do want to serve a medium-rare burger, it is possible, it just might take a little more forethought and planning,” Johnston said.

“It is possible to cook a medium-rare burger safely, it just means that they need to think about the processes that they are using to do that. It might not be necessarily possible to do that on a BBQ or grill.”

She suggest sous vide methods of cooking instead – what people used to call boil-in-the-bag.

“Who the f*** wants a sous vide burger?”, Fraser said.

The new rules state meat should have an internal minimum temperature of 65°C for 15 minutes while cooked, 70°C for three minutes, or 75°C for 30 seconds.

But Fraser said those were rules drawn up by a bureaucrat and not a chef. They meant a beef mince patty would always be “rubbery and devoid of flavour”.

Johnston insists the new rules are necessary. “People have died from under cooked burgers, there is a genuine food safety risk here, we’re not doing this to take the fun out of food. Bugs that have caused people to die (such as E. coli) are frequently found in New Zealand meat.”

The new MPI guidelines detail how restaurants and food businesses should prepare, store and serve their food, and supplement the 2014 Food Act. 

Top chef Ray McVinnie told Stuff NZ that serving a medium-rare burger is “dangerous and dumb” and that any chef who complains about such regulations does not understand basic food safety.

Yesterday, the Ministry for Primary Industries decided they will be talking to chefs about ways they can serve medium rare burgers and still keep food safe for consumers.

“We’re happy to work with chefs wanting to develop a custom Food Control Plan that covers their specific menu items. It might need different methods of sourcing, storing, and handling meat to make sure consumers are still protected.”

The move by MPI to regulate chefs’ kitchens brought howls of outrage and ridicule from those interviewed by the NZ Herald.

Labour’s Damien O’Connor said it was “ridiculous overkill”.

“We’ve got strict controls on how you kill and process meat. To then look at the cooking of it is nanny-state gone mad.

Northland MP Winston Peters, who has eaten at the Duke of Marlborough often over the years, said “paternalistic bureaucrats” were killing New Zealand businesses.

Sick customers ruin biz.

I look forward to the microbiologically-based arguments the talking heads will bring to the public discussion.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

Australian barfgate: Who chundered in a ministerial car?

Linda Silmalis of the Courier Mail writes it has been dubbed Barf-gate — who chundered in a ministerial car, leaving the driver gagging and resulting in a clean-up bill costing hundreds of dollars?

The car was driven by a ministerial driver who transported NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro and Liberal MP Eleni Petinos (right, with Blues coach) from ANZ Stadium, where they had been watching the State of Origin match on Wednesday night.

The pair had watched the game with Mr Barilaro’s young daughter and one of his staffers.

Mr Barilaro was in a celebratory mode after a successful state Budget, tweeting from the game: “I spent today backing #NSW in small business AND State of #Origin! UP THE BLUES!!!!!”

By Friday, word was going around Parliament House of a driver fuming over what he had discovered in the car upon starting his shift hours — possible a day — later.

 “The word is one vomited, and that set off the others,” a source close to the driver said.

Mr Barilaro, a married ­father of two, declined to ­answer any questions about the cost of the clean-up bill, nor who left the car in a mess.

A statement from his ­office confirmed Mr Barilaro and Ms Petinos were at Origin, but declined to confirm the figure to be repaid.

 “The taxpayer will not have to bear any costs,” the statement said.

 “Costs incurred will be privately managed.”

Food safety is not simple

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada correspondent, Rob Mancini, writes:

I’ve been told many times from various sources that Mancini’s always a cheerful guy, you can’t upset him… this is only because I find happiness with my family. I have an amazing wife and 2 incredible kids (6 years old and 19 months), all healthy.  What more can I ask for: nothing.

But when I read stories of kids dying from hemolytic uremic syndrome due to an E. coli infection, in particular when it could have been prevented, I get mad.

“We can’t hold him. We can’t love on him. All we can do is just stand at the bedside,” Lindsey Montgomery, Huston’s mom, told WFAA.

Heartbreaking.

Fox News reports A 2-year-old boy is on life support after contracting an E. coli infection from an unknown source while on vacation in Oklahoma with his family. Landon Huston, of Ennis, Texas, was experiencing stomach virus-like symptoms when a fecal sample tested positive for E. coli, WFAA reported.

Huston was taken to Children’s Medical Center Dallas where doctors discovered the infection had progressed to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), an abnormal destruction of red blood cells that leads to kidney failure, WFAA reported.

Huston underwent the first of two surgeries on June 14 and has had a blood transfusion. He was placed on life support after doctors discovered fluid in his lungs, a post on the family’s GoFundMe page said.

The Texas Department of Health Services is investigating any potential source of the bacteria. E. coli can be found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Most parents like us had no idea, you know, the dangers of something like this,” Montgomery told WFAA. “And it’s everywhere. E. coli is something that’s everywhere.”

While most strains of the bacteria are harmless, others can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia. About 5-10 percent of patients who contract E. coli will develop (HUS), which could present as decreased frequency of urination, feeling tired and losing color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. Patients can recover in a few weeks but others may suffer permanent damage or die.

“I have faith he’s going to come out on top,” John Huston, the toddler’s dad, told WFAA.

I’ve taught many food safety courses and have lectured on the importance of food safety to many. I’ve used different techniques in teaching, heavily based on behavioral science amongst other antics, to stress the importance of certain food safety principles. Even did a TV show on the subject.  All of this doesn’t matter if your inherent belief system is contrary to the information provided.  Need to be compelling and understand how human behavior operates. At times I wish I know more psychology but it’s never too late.

Food safety is not simple, it is hard and anyone who says otherwise is clueless.

I always try to share personal stories and current relevant food safety stories in an attempt to connect with my audience or readers and gauge their interest. Doug taught me this and it works.