The intersection of marijuana and food safety

I hate missing hockey. Skipping my Monday night game was worth it though; I spent some time with some old friends at the Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference in Denver. I’d been with the good folks of Colorado before, speaking at the conference in 2006 (and again virtually with Doug a couple of years ago).

Sometimes food safety meetings have similar slots: updates on recent outbreaks, a company’s new training strategy or someone talking about environmental sampling. The Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference was different. I spent an afternoon learning about keeping marijuana and food products safe.

I found it fascinating.

Doug often cites a Neil Young quote that guides a lot of stuff that I do ‘Heart of Gold put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.’ Farmers’ markets, food pantries, roadkill. These are all in the food safety ditch. So is pot.

I learned that marijuana (and the active compounds of THC and CBD) can be consumed in lots of different ways – smoking is the somewhat traditional way, but there’s vaping, edibles (cookies, candies, chocolates, etc) and even suppositories, tampons and personal lubricants. Who knew.

What was really compelling is the intricacies of the regulations and enforcement. The state health folks are in a tough spot because they receive federal funds – and the product is still seen as illegal by the feds. This has led to some local health departments have stepped in to regulating not only just the retail stores on how they handle the food and other products – but also the marijuana infused product processing. I’ve said that environmental health specialists are the salt of the earth; passionate protectors of public health and have some of the very best stories. It’s heartening to see folks who know food safety stuff putting together a framework of science-based guidelines for pathogen control, pesticides and other risky compounds. They’re trailblazers since there’s not a whole lot to go on. They look to LACF thermal death curves for C. bot spore inactivation in oils and tinctures (these aren’t highly refined oils) and requiring folks to manage cleaning and sanitation using GMP and the Food Code as a guide. There are risks, marijuana smoking was linked to a 1981 outbreak of salmonellosis (an oldie but a goodie) and some of the edibles out there have the correct pH and water activity to support the growth of pathogens.

And labeling, serving/dose size matters.

My guess is that there are a few processors who are really good at the THC part of things – and not so good at the food safety. It’s cool that the local regulators are working with them to keep the stoners safe.

I got back in time for my hockey game tonight.

Really? Raising fish in containers on land is eco-friendly so grow veggies in fish poo

Although aquaponics is still in its infancy, Fort Langley–based West Creek Aquaculture and others see potential for this alternative to conventional agriculture

Felicity Stone of BC Business reports the fish from B.C.’s handful of land-based aquaculture farms are considered sustainable, with Ocean Wise certification from the Vancouver Aquarium. The farms use no antibiotics, hormones or chemicals, and they compost the fish waste.

Instead of composting the waste, West Creek has experimented with aquaponics, growing vegetables in the same water as the fish so the effluent nourishes the plants, which in turn clean the water. Although plant yield increased, Read found that he couldn’t compete with traditional vegetable growers. He’s still looking for a way to monetize fish effluent as plant fertilizer, but he thinks aquaponics is best suited for farmers in the business of plant, not fish, production.

Crops raised using aquaponics actually tend to be more profitable than the fish, according to U.S. studies. The key is marketing them to compete with other local and organic greens. Andrew Riseman, an associate professor of applied biology and plant breeding at UBC, believes aquaponic produce is superior to both conventionally grown and organic. “But until there’s product differentiation in the marketplace where they can get a premium for that specific product, they’re just lumped in with organics or chemical-free or pesticide-free or whatever other generic grouping they fit into,” he says. “Much like the land-based fish production—they’re grouped in with farmed salmon.”

The key is proving the produce is microbiologically safer?

Doubtful.

Guess the aquaponics folks wouldn’t want to market that.

Bathrooms and barf from around the world — in Instagram

Long before Instagram and YouTube, the barfblog crew — I can’t believe I just wrote that, I never called my lab members the crew but I did call them the kids, even if I was the immature one — we were making food safety videos and taking pictures.

Just didn’t know what to do with them.

We had an entire website devoted to handwashing signs in bathrooms — as you do.

And then when I moved to Kansas in early 2006, it sorta got lost.

Someone in the lab was taking care of it and I was posting pictures of bathrooms from our trip to France, as we sat on the coast of Marseilles, but then the University of Guelph decided the sandbox wasn’t big enough for both of us so kicked me out.

Bullies.

Then the website disappeared.

Or maybe it exists somewhere.

I know my limitations, and computer technology is one of them. Which is why I’ve been using a Mac since 1987.

Now there’s thing called Instagram, which may not be as cool as Snapchat, but whatever, I like pictures.

So Chapman created a barfblogben Instagram account, and I created a barfblogdoug account, because someone already has barfblog and it’s probably me (but linked to a previous e-mail).

I did one post — Amy did it and I immediately forgot how to do it — so I’ll put this picture in here, and maybe some time she’ll show me how to do it again.

This is from the University of Queensland bathroom in the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation building/centre/whatever it’s called.

(All those people who used to work with me, if you know where that website it, send me a note).

Trump’s expected pick for USDA’s top scientist is not a scientist

Catherine Woteki, served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for research, education and economics in the Obama administration.

She recently told Pro Publica “This position is the chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture. It should be a person who evaluates the scientific body of evidence and moves appropriately from there.”

Trump expects to appoint Sam Clovis — who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.

Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

Morningside College sounds like painting with Dali (below) on SCTV’s Sunrise Semester.

Clovis advised Trump on agricultural issues during his presidential campaign and is currently the senior White House advisor within the USDA, a position described by The Washington Post as “Trump’s eyes and ears” at the agency.

Clovis was also responsible for recruiting Carter Page, whose ties to Russia have become the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny, as a Trump foreign policy advisor.

Neither Clovis, nor the USDA, nor the White House responded to questions about Clovis’ nomination to be the USDA’s undersecretary for research, education and economics.

Clovis has a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an MBA from Golden State University and a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama. The University of Alabama canceled the program the year after Clovis graduated, but an old course catalogue provided by the university does not indicate the program required any science courses.

Clovis’ published works do not appear to include any scientific papers. His 2006 dissertation concerned federalism and homeland security preparation, and a search for academic research published by Clovis turned up a handful of journal articles, all related to national security and terrorism.

I can’t make this shit up.

Kierkegaard? I don’t even know her: The Danish doctor of dread, and BS from food safety companies

Without Kierkegaard, where would Woody Allen be?

The 200th anniversary of Soren Kierkegaard’s birth has brought some stereotypical outpourings about angst and existentialism.

Me, it’s better to play hockey.

I have a soft spot for the Danes. Spending five summers hammering nails with a couple of Danish homebuilders in Ontario (that’s in Canada) taught me the value of being well-read and beer at morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon coffee. My friend John Kierkegaard would say, the beer is nice, but the work, it isn’t really so good.

When I went to Copenhagen in 1998 for a scientific meeting, there was beer at morning coffee.

Gordon Marino wrote in The New York Times that the way we negotiate anxiety plays no small part in shaping our lives and character.  And yet, historically speaking, the lovers of wisdom, the philosophers, have all but repressed thinking about that amorphous feeling that haunts many of us hour by hour, and day by day. The 19th-century philosopher-theologian Soren Kierkegaard stands as a striking exception to this rule. It was because of this virtuoso of the inner life that other members of the Socrates guild, such as Heidegger and Sartre, could begin to philosophize about angst.

The adytum of Kierkegaard’s understanding of anxiety is located in his work “The Concept of Anxiety” — a book at once so profound and byzantine that it seems to aim at evoking the very feeling it dissects.

Perhaps more than any other philosopher, Kierkegaard reflected on the question of how to communicate the truths that we live by — that is the truths about ethics and religion.

“Deep within every human being there still lives the anxiety over the possibility of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the millions and millions in this enormous household. A person keeps this anxiety at a distance by looking at the many round about who are related to him as kin and friends, but the anxiety is still there.”

Kierkegaard understood that anxiety can ignite all kinds of transgressions and maladaptive behaviors — drinking, carousing, obsessions with work, you name it. We will do most anything to steady ourselves from the dizzying feeling that can take almost anything as its object. However, Kierkegaard also believed that, “Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”

In his “Works of Love,” Kierkegaard remarks that all talk about the spirit has to be metaphorical.  Sometimes anxiety is cast as a teacher, and at others, a form of surgery. The prescription in “The Concept of Anxiety” and other texts is that if we can, as the Buddhists say, “stay with the feeling” of anxiety, it will spirit away our finite concerns and educate us as to who we really are, “Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them.” According to Kierkegaard’s analysis, anxiety like nothing else brings home the lesson that I cannot look to others, to the crowd, when I want to measure my progress in becoming a full human being.

But this, of course, is not the counsel you are likely to hear these days at the mental health clinic.

I can attest to that.

So when Tyson launches a no antibiotics ever campaign, it is appealing to crass consumerism, making a buck, and throwing science back to when Kierkegaard was born.

We want our social media and technology, but we want our food produced in some 200-year-old barn.

Tyson President and CEO Tom Hayes said earlier this year that the company would continue to innovate in product development while remaining focused on sustainable production practices. “For us, sustainability isn’t a single issue; it’s about focusing on multiple dimensions in order to advance the whole,” Hayes said during the 2017 Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Conference in Boca Raton, Florida. “We will use our reach, capabilities and resources to drive positive change at a scale we believe no other company can match.”

Amy and I went to a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game when Wayne was coach, maybe 2006, and this loudmouth behind us was bragging about some cougar he hooked up with in Boca.

That’s your benchmark, Tyson.

I have vague memories of another company, back in 2006, that turned its back on science and proclaimed no antibiotics.

They forgot about food safety, too busy being posers.

How’s that working out, Chipotle?

The language of this presser is full swallow-whole.

The company’s sustainability plans include establishing strategic partnerships to set science-based sustainability goals; continuing third-party audits of farms to certify humane treatment of chickens; improving how chickens are raised through a concept farm, with innovations designed to be better for the birds, the environment and food safety; and increasing transparency across the business, including sustainability efforts.

I’ve know people who can write this stuff.

Not me.

Not Kierkegaard

I’ve got no genius for evil, that makes me common.

The name “Kierkegaard” means “graveyard,” and “Søren” is an affectionate Danish moniker for the Devil.

Sorenne, you know you have some devil in you, and some science.

I don’t go to restaurants much anymore: Too many fake beliefs, not enough science

Beginning in April, 2011, 190 people were sickened with Salmonella Heidelberg linked to partially-cooked chicken livers throughout six U.S. states.

There have been endless outbreaks, especially of Campylobacter in the UK linked to similar products.

Stephen Luscombe, who runs the Golden Ball in Lower Assendon, UK, admitted serving undercooked calves’ liver in 2015.

Two diners suffered food poisoning and others suffered symptoms after eating a dish containing the meat at the restaurant.

Luscombe was fined £4,434, ordered to pay £5,284 costs and a victim surcharge of £120. 

Luscombe admitted serving food on the premises that was unsafe as it had been inadequately cooked and failing to implement and maintain legally required food safety procedures, including those for the safe cooking of high risk foods. 

Magistrates heard South Oxfordshire District Council, the environmental health authority, was asked to investigate after a member of the public suffered campylobacter food poisoning after eating at the restaurant.

Environmental health officers carried out an immediate unannounced inspection and found that the diners had been offered a set menu including calves’ liver for the main course.

They found the calves’ liver had been cooked at too low a temperature.

The restaurant was found to have no protocol to ensure high risk items, such as liver, were cooked according to recommendations from the Food Standards Agency.

It also failed to complete required monitoring records for almost three months, meaning it was failing to meet its legal requirements for food safety. 

Food fraud: CFIA lays charges after regular cheese passed off cheese as kosher at kids’ camp

I don’t get the kosher-halal food thing, seems to involve excessive animal suffering, but hey, who doesn’t want to make a buck and fly live animals for slaughter 150 years after frozen food transport was invented.

According to Michele Henry of the Toronto Star, for the first time in Canada, the country’s food inspection agency has laid criminal charges against a businessman and his company for allegedly trying to pass off run-of-the-mill food as kosher.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has charged Creation Foods and its vice-president, Kefir Sadiklar, with sending cheddar cheese falsely described as “kosher” to Jewish summer camps in June 2015. The agency alleges forged documents were created to make it seem like the cheese adhered to Jewish dietary laws.

The regulatory body, which polices food labels across Canada, has laid five charges against Sadiklar and his family-run Woodbridge-based distributor related to cheese products sent to two camps — Camp Moshava near Peterborough and Camp Northland-B’nai Brith in Haliburton.

The agency alleges that forged letters of kosher certification were slipped into boxes of non-kosher Gay Lea Ivanhoe shredded “Ivanhoe Old Cheddar Cheese” that Creation delivered to “strictly kosher” Jewish summer camps in June 2015. Kosher products are typically sold at a higher price than non-kosher products.

In an email to the Star, the federal food inspection agency said this is the first case it “has brought before a provincial court related to the misrepresentation of a kosher food product.”

Sadiklar, 39, is scheduled to make his next appearance in Newmarket court on May 20.

If convicted, he and Creation could face steep fines and even jail time.

The allegations made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have not been tested in court.

The term “kosher” refers to food that follows Judaism’s strict dietary rules that dictate not only what observant Jews can eat, but how the food is prepared and handled. In the case of making cheese, a rabbi would be responsible for adding the coagulation enzyme at the first stage and certifying that no non-kosher products touched the kosher cheese on the line.

A rabbi has more microbiological knowledge than a microbiologist?

Market food passed on safety, not some weird religious stuff.

If god was so caring, why are so many people getting sick from the food they eat?(Darwin had the same problem with religion after his daughter, Annie, died at 10-years-old).

Kelly oysters brand Gigas Oysters recalled due to domoic acid

One of the first science columns I ever wrote for a newspaper 36-years ago was about domoic acid in shellfish.

Everything old is new again.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency DOM International Limited is recalling Kelly Oysters brand Gigas Oysters from the marketplace due to marine biotoxin which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning. Consumers should not consume and retailers, hotels, restaurants and institutions should not sell, serve or use the recalled product described below.

This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

This is what creativity looks like at its ugly peak (even though this was filmed with makeup and tricks 7 years after being written, it’s still the best vid)

We don’t need no education: Why PR flunkery fails

I could never do PR.

It’s so much about swallowing whole.

I’ve done it, I’ve applied for jobs, but it makes me feel nauseous.

In a Cormey-Team America way.

My grandfather – the original Homer — was the asparagus baron of Canada.

100 acres that he sold at the door in Alliston, Ontario (that’s in Canada) in the 1960s and 70s, and my cousin is making a living with 40 acres outside Cambridge, Ontario (also in Canada – Barrie’s Asparagus).

There’s this guy at the University of Guelph who has been doing the PR thing for decades. I once asked his boss, a good scientist, do you know how much bullshit this guy is spinning?

And he said yeah, but that was what the system required.

Swallow whole.

(Oh, and to my Ontario farmer friends, I understand it’s been a bit wet. Adapt).

But this isn’t about asparagus.

It’s about the weird perversion that a bunch of groups have to educate consumers.

The U.S. just went through the dumbest electoral cycle in its history, and people want to be educated?

No it’s the rise of idiocracy.

In the past week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration got $3 million to educate consumers about genetically engineered foods, Cargill unveiled its Non-GMO Project partnership, which is stupid beyond belief (and knowing that Cargill’s Mike Robach, vice-president, corporate food safety, quality & regulatory is chair of the Global Food Safety Initiative’s board of directors makes me question the value of any food safety audit ever sanctioned by GFSI), and the National cattlemen’s Beef Association has produced “two fact sheets on beef production and processing, available to consumers seeking more information about their steaks and other cuts, and how they got to the plate,” to educate consumers makes me want to scream.

How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Whenever a group says the public needs to be educated about food safety, biotechnology, trans fats, organics or anything else, that group has utterly failed to present a compelling case for their cause. Individuals can choose to educate themselves about all sorts of interesting things, but the idea of educating someone is doomed to failure. And it’s sorta arrogant to state that others need to be educated; to imply that if only you understood the world as I understand the world, we would agree and dissent would be minimized.

There’s a shitload of academic literature about the value of story-telling, about providing information rather than educating, withholding judgement, but these assholes can’t help themselves.

They know better.

Waste money.

My farmer relatives who interact with people daily know a whole lot more than you.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

Power of going public: 30 children in Jerusalem daycare sick with Salmonella

Arutz Sheva of Israel National News reports that on April 30, a report was received from the mother of an infant enrolled in an Emunah daycare in Jerusalem claiming infants and toddlers in one of the daycare’s classes were suffering stomachaches and intestinal disturbances.

According to Ynet, an investigation by the Jerusalem District Health Office found the problems had begun several days earlier, in the daycare’s 2-year-old class, when 15 of the class’s 24 children became ill and one was hospitalized.

In the infants’ group, 15 out of 18 infants became ill, and one was hospitalized.

Last Wednesday, the Health Office received the results of the various tests performed, and found that one of the sick children tested positive for salmonella.

A district health supervisor was immediately sent to the daycare, where they found that both breakfast and lunch were served hot and made on the premises. The supervisor also made a list of health hazards which the daycare will need to fix.

During the visit, the supervisor took samples of food stored in the daycare since April 28. Though the samples did not test positive for salmonella, they did test positive for several other pathogens.