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. »

My brain hurts: MRI edition

The first time I got an MRI was about four years ago in Tokyo after I passed out in a bowl of soup.

They didn’t find much.

Now that I randomly fall, my Australian doctor said go get a MRI.

So I just finished.

Some say it’s the booze, others say it’s CTE (chronic traumatic encephalapthy from too many pucks to the head, too many years playing linebacker where the coach said go kill the dude with the ball, the car crash, and too many falls as age advances.)

I don’t know what to expect, but remain optimistic for my partner and family.

Peace and love.

 

‘Better think about the consequence of (temperature abuse) actions’ Over 700 sick from C. perfringens at one Chipotle

Chipotle’s head of food safety, Jim Marsden, has been conspicuously silent after at least 647 patrons at a single Chipotle restaurant in Powell (no relation), Ohio, were sickened with Clostridium perfringens.

As one of my colleagues said, Preventing C. perfringens is kind of like food safety 101. They must’ve had a massive temperature abuse situation.

In response, CEO Brian Niccol said Chipotle will start retraining all restaurant employees on food safety and wellness protocols next week.

Uh-huh.

#MeToo

New Zealand’s Prime Minister and one of my daughters have babies

Emma started caring for Sorenne when she was an undergrad in child studies at Kansas State University about 9 years ago.

She followed the path of others and hooked up with a veterinarian and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, one of my favorite cities (and no, not for The Lord of the Rings movies).

Emma writes she is so honoured to live in this country for so many reasons, and this is now definitely one of them. I highly recommend you Google Jacinda, because she’s doing lots of great things.

“This is The Prime Minister Of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She’s 37. She’s the youngest female Head of Government in the world. She’s also the first western woman to give birth while in this position of power. Two days after the baby was born – with midwives, standard in NZ hospitals – she introduced her to the country during a press conference on the nightly news. It was really lovely. She named her Neve Te Aroha. Te Aroha means “The Love” in Māori. It represents all the names that were submitted (upon her request) from various tribes throughout the country, and was her attempt at capturing them all.

This is her and her partner, no, he’s not her husband (gasp!), walking to the press conference. He’s TV fishing show Host Clarke Gayford, and he will be staying at home with baby Neve when his lady goes back to running the country in 6 weeks. Clarke sports a snazzy sweater he picked up at the op-shop (second-hand store) in Gisborne, and thinks its just kinda logical and he gives up his day job to stay home and look after the baby.

A week after the birth on July 1st Jacinda introduced a $5 billion Families Package that she’d drafted on the floor of her friends house in Hastings – long before her pregnancy. It’s based on the knowledge that the first few years of a babies life are the most important. The package gives an extra $60 a week to families with new babies, and an extra $700 to families for winter heating costs as well (it’s cold as hell down there in the winter). It also increases the Paid Leave for new parents from 18 weeks to 22 weeks. She announced the details via Facebook live, from her couch, right after she’d finished breastfeeding the baby. Because Kiwis. Some of the most down-to-earth, no-drama-having, just-do-it kind of people you’ll ever meet.

And because Women. We really do know how to lead, and to do it well.

Yes, women do.

Amy’s been leading me around for the past five years as I go from drama to drama.

But as I get older I’m accepting that people won’t really care if I do an extra barfblog.com post before I go screaming into that night.

They may care about my family, so welcome to Jasper William Toth, brother to Emerson and second son of 2-of-4 daughter, Jaucelynn, back in Canada, who was born at 4:39 a.m. with the help of a midwife after a couple hours of labour at home.

Jaucelynn writes that Jasper is an impressive 9lbs 2oz and 21 inches long. We are all doing well and excited to start our journey as a family of four.

Jaucelynn was a 10-pounder.

Jasper is grandson #3 for me, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Funky blanket, Probably hot there.

How the hell would I know? 395 sickened by Cyclospora linked to McDonalds salads

There was this one time, in 2010, I got a phone call at 6 a.m. from the esteemed Michael Osterholm of the Minnesota food safety system.

My wife does a better Minnosotan accent, spending her yute in Albert Lea, eh?

He didn’t like the photo, right, made by the creative couple of Heather and Christian, who used to work in my lab, and opened the conversation with, “How could you print that?”

I said it was an accurate description of what had been publically known about the leafy greens folks since the E. coli O157 spinach outbreak of 2006 (I’m old, waiting for news on the birth of my third grandson).

He then told me he was a consultant for Fresh Express and that they had an excellent food safety system.

I said great, make it public, so people can judge on their own.

Fresh Express has now been linked to 395 cases of Cyclospora through their lettuce served at McDonalds.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is pressing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for specifics about the investigation of the cyclosporaoutbreak linked to product sold by Fresh Express.

In an Aug. 3 letter her office released to the media, DeLauro said she wrote the letter “out of concern about the current outbreak of cyclosporiasis as well as the transparency and timeliness of your agency’s ongoing investigation.”

“Although once rare in the United States, parasitic outbreaks caused by cyclospora have become more common over the last several decades,” she said in the letter. “Many of these outbreaks have continually been found to be associated with imported fruits and vegetables.”

The recent outbreak is currently responsible for 395 infections — including 16 hospitalizations — across 15 states.

The parasite was first found when the FDA conducted testing on an unused package of Fresh Express salad mix, distributed to a McDonald’s restaurant, containing romaine lettuce and carrots.

The FDA states as of July 13, McDonald’s decided to stop selling the salads at restaurants impacted in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan. Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota. Montana, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri.

In a July 20, statement, McDonald’s said the health and safety of their customers is their top priority.

“The health and safety of our customers and the people who work in McDonald’s restaurants is always our top priority. The additional states identified by the FDA and CDC are among the same states where a week ago we proactively decided to remove our lettuce blend in impacted restaurants and replace it through a different supplier. McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality and we continue to cooperate and support regulatory and public health officials in their investigations. For those seeking additional information about Cyclospora, we encourage them to visit the CDC and FDA websites.”

Uh-huh.

Cyclospora sucks. My aunt, my mom’s sister, got it in Florida from basil, about a decade ago.

(Doesn’t she look amazing at 80, left.)

Cyclospora isn’t one of those things doctors routinely check for. Then you’re sick for about six weeks until some bright doc figures it out.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued an alert to the public on “beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products potentially contaminated with Cyclospora that were distributed by Caito Foods LLC, of Indianapolis,” Indiana.

USDA also released a public health alert after Indianapolis-based food distributor Caito Foods “received notification from their lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that the chopped romaine that is used to manufacture some of their salads and wraps was being recalled.”

“Fresh Express follows rigid food safety requirements and preventive controls throughout our supply chain that are carefully designed to mitigate against potential health risks. Working together with public health officials, we are hopeful a definitive source of the outbreak clusters will be identified soon.”

Uh-huh.

Still here, Mike. You can call me in Australia through Google voice 785-532-1925 and tell me what Fresh Express is doing, and why they are importing lettuce in the middle of North American summer.

Young and fearless

We were driving home from Florida – to escape the Canadian winter for a week – and back then we’d do the 24 hours with four kids in one shot in early 1996, and this song came on an American radio station.

I thought it was awesome.

Then I said, is that Sloan?

We didn’t have Google or phone tethering back then, so just argued, as you do.

This youthful enthusiasm encapsulates everything I miss about universities and why I hate  the smothering bureaucracy they have become.

E. coli O157 outbreak at Marine base in San Diego and chest thumping

The leading cause of immobilizing U.S. troops?

Foodborne illness.

My former dean was known as Dr. Clorox while serving in Vietnam.

I used to give training sessions to food types headed for Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Riley (in Manhattan, Kansas) and would sheepishly say, I have no idea what you’re going to face in terms of potable water, but bleach is your friend.

I reported in Nov. 2017 that a bunch of Marines training in San Diego got sick from Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

The eventual number would be about 220.

Food safety lawyer Bill Marler wrote the other day that the outbreak “seemed to fall a bit below the radar.”

That means below his litigation radar, not the public awareness radar. Yesterday he filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court of California against Sodexo Inc. on behalf of Illinois resident, Vincent Grano who developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection from food served at the cafeteria and mess hall at a Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Sodexo, a Delaware company, provides food and facility management services for the United States Marine Corps Depot in San Diego. Mr. Grano is represented by Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, and Gordon and Holmes, a local San Diego firm.

Marler also wrote the other day that two of his blogs made the Top 30 Food Safety Blogs, Websites & Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot.com.

I don’t pay attention to this kind of shit and wouldn’t unless Marler’s chest-thumping could be heard across the Pacific Ocean.

Maybe he’s like Sarah Palin and looks out and sees me.

It’s nice to be included in some BS list of top-30 food safety bloggers, but it’s better to be #1.

That would be barfblog.com.

And we’re not trying.

Don’t get shot in America. Live in Australia


Building on what John Oliver, then of the Daily Show, started five years ago, Damien Power writes in The New York Times there are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, which means there are more guns than people. If that makes you feel unsafe, visit Australia.

In Australia, it took one mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996, where 35 people were killed, for the country to do something concrete about gun reform. The government adopted tighter gun control, banned semiautomatic weapons and started a mandatory gun buyback program.

The United States, meanwhile, has an average of nine mass shootings every 10 days, and 13,000 gun homicides a year. Gun violence is so rampant that China has warned its citizens about traveling here.

So if you’re interested in not getting shot to death and adorable koalas, Australia might be the place for you. Not being the target of snipers adds to the magic of visiting Down Under.

I’d add don’t barf and visit Aus, but food safety controls aren’t as good as gun controls.

‘He would be dead right now’ Canadian family warns parents after 2-year-old contracts E. coli infection

There is so much I want to write about, to get the daily buzz of the blog, but blogs don’t last, and don’t pay the bills.

What’s important to me is the pic, below, and everything I can do to help them succeed.

I’ll work on books (which also don’t pay the bills, but may last longer).

Julian Kolsut of Chek reports that a Parksville family is at the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver this weekend after their two-year-old toddler contracted an E. coli Infection — that his father Aaron Hughes says was not diagnosed until it was almost too late.

“Be persistent… if we didn’t stick to our guns and react, he would be dead right now,” said Hughes.

It all started when 2-year-old Jaxon starting to act “off” on Tuesday, both of his parents thought he may have had heatstroke and made sure to take him out of the sun and keep him hydrated.

“He was out in the sun and he became really lethargic really fast, didn’t have an appetite, a fever kicked in quickly and then the diarrhea started,” said Aarons wife Jolene Secord.

After contacting the nurse’s line, they were given the same advice, but eventually Jaxon started vomiting. A visit to the walk-in clinic resulted in a different diagnosis, a possible bacterial infection, but while at the clinic they noticed blood in his diaper.

“They did take a swab of his green bowl movements but sent us home,” said Secord.

They were told to continue keeping an eye on him and taking care of him.

The parents say on Wednesday the vomiting and bleeding got worse, and after rushing Jaxon to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital they were told again it may be a bacterial infection, and that he may have had a torn fissure. After speaking to a nutritionist they were sent home.

Aaron says he couldn’t see the fissure, and was confused the mucus coming out of his toddler’s behind was also bloody.

When his 18-year-old daughter called him when he was shopping for vaseline for his son in Nanaimo on Thursday and was told Jackson’s symptoms were worse, he told them to call and ambulance at that he would meet them at the hospital.

“We weren’t wasting any time… but they couldn’t find his stools [that were sent in for testing]” said Hughes.

“The doctor then came into the room [the next day] and said, “I think we found the source” and he didn’t look too happy, [the doctor] tracked down the stools and said the test came back positive for E. coli O157:H7.”

He was immediately airlifted to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and currently, among many other issues with his health, does not have any functioning kidneys and has a damaged pancreas.

Jaxon is undergoing dialysis, transfusion and other treatments, and his mom says his state changes by the hour.

“At this point, they don’t see the kidneys waking up… it could be a long-term thing… every hour seems to change for Jaxon,” said Secord. “We will see a positive, we will see a negative, we will see a positive.”

The exact cause is unknown, but the family says they suspect it came from deer feces, as the animal can carry the O157:H7 strain. They think Jackson may have come in contact with it outside.  Contaminated food is also a possibility.

“We almost have a family of deer living [on our property]” said Hughes. “We have apple trees on our property and they [the deers] live off that stuff, and that can transport diseases.”

Both parents also say the unfortunate incident is a reminder to always listen to your gut.

“If we would have stuck to what they were telling us then we would have lost him… and if we waited he could have had brain damage, heart failure,” said Hughes.

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The silliness of academia: ‘I’m excited for the vivid dimensionality, impactful synergies, and collaborative challenges of this meta-disciplinary discourse opportunity’

I despised Mike Souliere.

He was sieve Souliere, I was porous Powell when we played as goaltenders for AAA peewee hockey in Brantford, a lifetime ago.

He was better than me.

And now Mike and I exchange notes on facebook.

Mike, and Amy, both pointed out that my facebook messages were getting weird.

I hate facebook.

I hate text.

I’m one of those cranky old guys who wonders how a whole generation missed e-mail.

I’m done. My brain is mush.

I’ll try to write a book or two, but I need to pay attention to myself and my family.

Marler hiring Joe, telling me to fuck off (not that I cared about that) and me not getting paid for 18 months, translates to, I give up.

I’ve been doing this for 25 years.

And I never met a lawyer who couldn’t appropriate a good idea.

I’ve got grandkids to go see.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool. … Be honest and unmerciful.”

I need to be honest, with my failings and successes.