BBQ food safety

BBQ food safety tips….in August…a little late in the game for us in Canada, then I realized this story stems from Australia.

Food safety tips for parties and BBQs
Storage:
Ensure you have enough fridge and freezer space
Keep cold foods in the fridge until they are ready to serve e.g. salads
Temperature controls:
The bacteria that cause food poisoning grow rapidly between 5°C and 60°C (also known as the temperature danger zone)
Hot food should be served steaming hot – at least 60°C
Food should be thoroughly cooked before consuming. It is recommended that poultry, minced meats and sausages be cooked until well done right through to the centre. No pink should be visible and the juices should run clear. Alternately, you can use a meat thermometer to check if the meat is properly cooked.

Nope. Always use a thermometer to ensure safety of foods, never rely on color alone. This will also prevent over-cooking meats/fish that would otherwise lend to formation of heterocyclic amines (HCA’s), potent mutagens formed when meats/fish are cooked using high temperature methods. One way to reduce the formation of HCA’s is to marinate your meat/fish before grilling. Studies have shown that marinated meats and fish contained lower levels HCA’s than non-marinated samples with the exception of pan-fried salmon(1). 

Preventing cross-contamination:
Wash and dry hands thoroughly before preparing food (and in between handling raw and cooked foods)
Keep raw and cooked food separate – don’t let raw meat juices drip onto other foods
Use different knives and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods
Ensure that benches, kitchen equipment and tableware are clean and dry
Avoid making food for others if you are sick
Leftovers:
Refrigerate any leftovers straight away
Leftovers should be consumed within 3 days
Reheat leftover food to at least 75°C or until it is steaming hot

1. Heterocyclic amines content of meat and fish cooked by Brazilian methods. 2010. J Food Compost Anal. Feb 1; 23(1): 61–69.

 

Seafood safety, roses and writing

Chapman is a shitty writer.

How he got a staff member named Katrina Levine, who can write, is beyond my grasp.

But, I’m content to be amazed at the world, not think too much about it, and be grateful for the beauty in a rose or an MPH who can put a couple of sentences together.

Katrina (whom I’ve never met) writes:

I’ve never been one who likes attention, but I’ll admit that during the 15 minutes of fame that came with the publication of Evaluating Food Safety Messages in Popular Cookbooks in the British Food Journal, I got a little excited every time someone wanted to interview me. Terrified, but excited.

During the 2 week media buzz that followed the press release, I did approximately 6 interviews, one of which was for Consumer Reports. Unlike most of the interviews, which were focused on our row with Gwyneth Paltrow or how her cookbook could give you food poisoning, the nice journalist I spoke with wanted my professional opinion on how to choose and prepare seafood safely.

As I said before in an earlier barfblog post, the media attention from this paper gave us an opportunity to share what we know about safe food handling while people were listening. So when this journalist asked me to talk about seafood food safety, share I did – for about 45 minutes.

The messages I shared ranged from safe thawing methods, such as running raw seafood under cold running water, to determining doneness using a thermometer or opacity. Sari Hararr of Consumer Reports writes:

In a hurry? For safe seafood, thaw frozen fish and shellfish under cold running water in a sealed plastic bag, then cook it right afterward, says Katrina Levine, M.P.H., a registered dietitian and an extension associate in food safety and nutrition at North Carolina State University in Raleigh

For thicker fish such as a salmon steak, you can slip the thermometer into a side of the fillet, Levine says. But because it’s almost impossible to use a thermometer on shellfish or a delicate fillet of sole, the USDA notes that it’s also considered safe to cook fish until the flesh is opaque and separates or flakes easily with a fork. Cook crabs, lobster, and shrimp until the flesh is opaque and pearly; clams, mussels, and oysters until their shells open; and scallops until they are milky white or firm and opaque.

Although seafood does not need to reach an internal temperature as high as some foods like ground beef – 145°F compared to 160°F for ground beef and 165°F for poultry – it’s not any less risky. Outbreaks of norovirus and Vibrio have been linked to raw or undercooked seafood.

We know that using a thermometer to check internal temperatures is the best practice for knowing when food is done. Yet, people are even less likely to use a thermometer on fish than on meat or poultry, and cookbook recipes are also less likely to include safe endpoint temperatures for fish. While raw or undercooked seafood may be trendy (sushi and raw oyster lovers – you know who you are), getting foodborne illness isn’t.

Rare chicken hooks UK food porn-types, the country that gave the world mushy peas and mad cow disease: It’s a Salmonella/Campy shit-storm waiting to happen

Just when you thought you’d seen every possible bizarre foodie trend on Instagram, a truly stomach-churning craze comes along to surprise you.

Siofra Brennan of the Daily Mail writes people have been sharing images of their ‘juicy and tender’ meals of medium rare chicken, claiming it’s the best possible way to enjoy the meat, but their claims certainly haven’t gone down well with the masses. 

People have described the craze as ‘salmonella waiting to happen’ with one stating that there’s a ‘special place reserved in hell’ for people who don’t cook their chicken properly. 

However, fans are absolutely insistent that it’s the best way to eat the poultry with one declaring that if you’re not having your chicken medium rare, ‘you’re doing it wrong’.  

People seem particularly keen to find out what firebrand chef Gordon Ramsay thinks of the debacle, frantically tweeting him images of the offending dishes to get his opinion.

His thoughts remain, as yet, unknown.  

(Who gives a fuck?)

Earlier this year Australian Morgan Jane Gibbs found worldwide notoriety with a Facebook snap of a plateful of very pink pieces of chicken with the caption: ‘Just made chicken medium rare chicken strips.

‘They’re so good can’t believe I’ve never tried it like this before,’ she said. 

‘Can’t wait to dig into this with my homemade salad and veges. #healthy #newyearsresolution #clean #cleaneating’

Unsurprisingly the post has gained notoriety online as people tried to figure out if Ms Gibbs is being serious with her nauseating dish.

While the post by Ms Gibbs was most likely a joke, the image itself was of a legitimate dish, origination from a blog promoting tourism in the Japanese region of Shizuoka and the recipe for chicken tataki; chicken seared over hot coals and served raw.

Chicken sashimi is another Japanese dish where the bird is served raw, chefs manage to avoid the issue of pesky food poisoning by serving the meat as fresh as possible and raising the chickens in a hygienic environment.

That’s some microbiological poultry manure (check your organic garden).

To avoid the risk of food poisoning, the NHS recommends that chicken must be cooked through so that the meat is ‘no longer pink, the juices run clear and it’s steaming hot throughout.’ 

No wonder the UK is messed up about chicken, the government-types can’t get advice right.

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

NZ says (not a joke): Have your say on cooking burgers: Until a chef offers a temperature rather than adjectives it’s bullshit

While Australia is being dragged kickin-and-screamin into the thermometer age, New Zealand has decided to put knowledge aside, and ask the people, How do you want your burgers done?

Just because everyone eats doesn’t mean they know anything about microbial food safety.

The NZ Ministry for Primary Industries issued a public notice, stating: Feedback from chefs is that they would like to be able to cook mince (especially minced burger patties) to medium/medium rare (I have no idea what these adjectives mean; some numbers, please) under the template food control plan.

MPI has worked with chefs, environmental health offers and food scientists to develop a specialist section for both official template food control plans.  The specialist page is written in the “Know, Do, Show” format from the Simply Safe & Suitable template. The section will allow red meat mince for medium/medium rare burgers, and other meat specialities like steak tartare, to be safely served lightly cooked or raw. (Carpaccio is already covered in the templates (refer to section 10.6 (Serve) –  Whole cuts and whole joints of meat – and the ‘Cooking food’ page in Simply Safe & Suitable).

We want to know if the specialist section works for you? Have we got it right?  

Please note: Two of the processes included in the consultation are sanitising and blanch-in-a-bag.  The scientific validation for these methods is ongoing.  If there is insufficient evidence for it to be included in this amendment for the official template food control plans, and there is high demand for the process, further research would need to be commissioned so it could be added at a later date.

The consultation opens 25 July and closes on 8 August 2017.

Email your feedback to foodact.2014@mpi.govt.nz

I suggest e-mailing them this blog post and saying, I want a burger cooked safely to a verified 74C.

Levine writes: Investigating shoppers’ perceptions of risk

Katrina Levine, extension associate and lead author of Consumer perceptions of the safety of ready-to-eat foods in retail food store settings writes,

While I was grocery shopping one day at my regular store, I noticed that one of the doors to the dairy refrigerator case was missing. There was no sign or notice to explain the gaping hole where the door should have been in front of the shredded cheese, nor was any attempt made to compensate for the absent door, such as by relocating the items in that section or putting up a temporary covering.

After first being a bit confused when trying to reach for a non-existent handle, these questions popped into my head:

• how can the food in this section be at a safe temperature, as well as the foods on either side of it? and,

• doesn’t this missing door affect the ability of the case to maintain its temperature?

I’m a food safety nerd. Most people just want to shop and get on with whatever they are doing, but I’m subconsciously always looking for food safety behaviors. The person standing behind me was probably more interested in which brand was the least expensive or which package looked the freshest, or just wanted me to get out the way so they could buy their cheese and leave.

Does the lack of a door on a normally enclosed refrigerator case pose a food safety risk for dairy the products in that case? Depends on whom you ask. The average consumer (interpret this as you choose) often doesn’t see the same food safety risks when shopping in grocery stores compared to food safety folks.

Our group from North Carolina State teamed up with John Luchansky and Anna Porto-Fett at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service to investigate this difference between consumers and food safety folks in food safety risk perception when shopping at grocery stores.  We conducted a national survey and several focus groups where, instead of just describing a situation, we showed pictures of a food safety situation someone could actually encounter while shopping. In addition to asking questions about whether each photo was safe or unsafe, we wanted to know about the actions, if any, people would take to do something about a situation they thought was unsafe. We prodded them further with questions about how their perceptions of safety would affect their shopping behaviors.

We found that consumers and food safety folks don’t always see the same food safety risks. There were some situations consumers perceived as risky but that weren’t actually risks, like seeing an insect on the floor. There were also some risks that food safety folks saw but consumers missed, like food not properly stored within the refrigerated area.

I was explaining our study to a friend the other day, and she flat out told me, “I look for food quality when I’m shopping – is it fresh, is there mold or signs of damage, does it look ok?” This is exactly what we found. Consumers are looking for those quality aspects, but aren’t always seeing the warning signs that the safety of the food could be at risk. The viruses, bacteria, and other things that cause foodborne illness such as Listeria monocytogenes, might be present on foods in the grocery store at high levels by not storing soft cheeses at the proper temperature, allowing bacteria to grow more quickly.

Our research team will be taking this one step further to better understand the mind of the shopper and see things through their eyes. Everyday consumers will become our secret shoppers, and we plan to arm them with the information they need to be food safety detectives every time they shop. #citizenscience for the win.

Consumer perceptions of the safety of ready-to-eat foods in retail food store settings

Katrina Levine, Mary Yavelak, John B. Luchansky, Anna C. S. Porto-Fett, and Benjamin Chapman

Journal of Food Protection

August 2017, Vol. 80, No. 8, pp. 1364-1377

DOI: doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-417

Abstract:

To better understand how consumers perceive food safety risks in retail food store settings, a survey was administered to 1,041 nationally representative participants who evaluated possible food safety risks depicted in selected photographs and self-reported their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Participants were shown 12 photographs taken at retail stores portraying either commonly perceived or actual food safety contributing factors, such as cross-contamination, product and equipment temperatures, worker hygiene, and/or store sanitation practices. Participants were then asked to specifically identify what they saw, comment as to whether what they saw was safe or unsafe, and articulate what actions they would take in response to these situations. In addition to the survey, focus groups were employed to supplement survey findings with qualitative data. Survey respondents identified risk factors for six of nine actual contributing factor photographs >50% of the time: poor produce storage sanitation (86%, n = 899), cross-contamination during meat slicing (72%, n = 750), bare-hand contact of ready-to-eat food in the deli area (67%, n = 698), separation of raw and ready-to-eat food in the seafood case (63%, n = 660), cross-contamination from serving utensils in the deli case (62%, n = 644), and incorrect product storage temperature (51%, n = 528). On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was very unsafe and 5 was very safe, a significant difference was found between average risk perception scores for photographs of actual contributing factors (score of ca. 2.5) and scores for photographs of perceived contributing factors (score of ca. 2.0). Themes from the focus groups supported the results of the survey and provided additional insight into consumer food safety risk perceptions. The results of this study inform communication interventions for consumers and retail food safety professionals aimed at improving hazard identification.

Thermometers, cats and the UK Food Standards Agency: Piping hot for the world?

I watched our veterinarian stick a thermometer into the ass of our cat(s) the other day while they were getting vaccinated for feline immunodeficiency virus (because they’ve now become outside roaming cats).

They didn’t care.

The UK Food Standards Agency is bragging that one of its own, Steve Wearne, got elected to the Codex Alimentarius Commission as vice-chair.

That’s an impressive bureaucratic achievement.

UK Food Minister George Eustice bubbled that, “The appointment of Steve Wearne to this important leadership role is testament to the strength and reputation of the UK’s food quality and safety standards. 

“This is a great opportunity to bring the UK’s renowned expertise to the table as the committee continues to pioneer global policy for food safety – increasing consumer confidence in the food we eat around the world.”

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the FSA said: ‘Steve’s appointment is a real vote of confidence in the UK’s leadership in modern, accountable food regulation. I’m delighted that he and the FSA will be taking such a significant role in setting the standards for food globally.’

I’m not.

This is an agency that ignores science and continues to tell consumers to cook things until they are piping hot, apparently because consumers are too low on the British caste system to understand how a thermometer works.

My cats know how thermometers work.

Use a fucking thermometer: Ireland says eating undercooked burgers ‘like driving without a seatbelt’

Diners who enjoy a juicy burger have been warned that eating them pink in the middle is “like driving without wearing a seatbelt”.

Fiachradh McDermott of The Irish Times reports that safefood began its new campaign, “Burger Fever”, on Thursday to inform people that eating undercooked burgers could lead to serious or sometimes life-threatening food poisoning.

What she didn’t report is that color is a terrible indicator of safety, and that needle-or-blade-tenderized steaks carry the same risk as mince, so this science-based agency is publishing fairy tales.

But I’ll let the bureaucrats speak for themselves and you judge.

The body advised people to always ask for burgers to be well-cooked in restaurants.

In an online survey conducted by safefood, 96 per cent of people considered themselves well-informed about food safety. However, 51 per cent admitted to eating undercooked burgers.

Two thirds of respondents said they would reconsider their choice if they knew there was a possibility of food poisoning.

Undercooked burgers carry the risk of E. coli, which can have long-term effects. The biggest worry is a type called VTEC, which causes severe diarrhoea.

Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at safefood, said it can result in “frequent serious complications.” VTEC can affect the blood and kidneys, and is most serious in older people and children under five. However, it only takes as little as ten E. coli cells to make a person sick, she said.

Dr Gordon said the campaign is intended as a preventative measure, but “emphasising the difference between a burger and a steak” is an important aspect.

According to Dr Gary Kearney, director of food science at safefood, “Mince used in hamburgers is a higher risk as the food poisoning bacteria that live on the surface of the beef (steak) is then mixed through the middle of the burger when the beef is minced – so in effect, the outside is now on the inside.”

Dr Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), emphasised the possibility and danger of contracting VTEC from undercooked meat.

“Eating burgers that are pink in the middle is a bit like driving without a seatbelt; you might get away with it for years but if something goes wrong and you are harmed, will you still think it was worth it?”

No mention of thermometer, cooking temps and hold times, just plain pandering.

Use a fucking thermometer and stick it in.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

E. Thomas, E,M,, Binder, A., McLaughlin, A., Jaykus, L., Hanson, D, Powell, D.A., Chapman, B. 2016.

Journal of Food Protection Vol. 79, No. 12, pp. 2113-2118

http://www.jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065?code=fopr-site

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.

Color sucks: Use a thermometer and stick it in for food safety

safefood Ireland has joined the UK Food Standards Agency in providing terrible advice about how to cook burgers.

A recipe for summer beef burgers (may a fine solstice greet our Northern and Southern friends) endorsed by safefood says:

“Before serving, ensure that the burgers are cooked thoroughly. Cut into them with a clean knife and check that they are piping hot all the way through, there is no pink meat remaining and that the juices run clear.”

Meanwhile, FSA issued a Safe Summer Food guide as UK picnickers head out in the sun (there’s sun in the UK?). The guidelines were in part based results of a self-reported survey, which is largely meaningless but something FSA likes to do.

The Morning Advertiser has more details on the hoops FSA seems willing to jump through to ensure the safety of rare burgers including:

  • sourcing the meat only from establishments which have specific controls in place to minimise the risk of contamination of meat intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked;
  • ensuring that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working;
  • Strict temperature control to prevent growth of any bugs and appropriate preparation and cooking procedures;
  • notifying their local authority that burgers that aren’t thoroughly cooked are being served by the business; and,
  • providing advice to consumers, for example on menus, regarding the additional risk.

The advice from these self-proclaimed science-based agencies is at odds with, uh, science.

It has been known for over two decades that color is a lousy indicator of safety in hamburger.

The latest addition to this work comes from Djimsa et al. in the Dept. of Animal Science at Oklahoma State Univ., who wrote in the Journal of Food Science earlier this year that:

Premature browning is a condition wherein ground beef exhibits a well-done appearance before reaching the USDA recommended internal cooked meat temperature of 71.1 °C; however, the mechanism is unclear.

The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the effects of packaging and temperature on metmyoglobin reducing activity (MRA) of cooked ground beef patties and (2) to assess the effects of temperature and pH on thermal stability of NADH-dependent reductase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and oxymyoglobin (OxyMb) in-vitro.

Beef patties (lean: fat = 85:15) were packaged in high-oxygen modified atmosphere (HiOX-MAP) or vacuum (VP) and cooked to either 65 or 71 °C. Internal meat color and MRA of both raw and cooked patties were determined. Purified NADH-dependent reductase and LDH were used to determine the effects of pH and temperature on enzyme activity. MRA of cooked patties was temperature and packaging dependent (P < 0.05). Vacuum packaged patties cooked to 71 °C had greater (P < 0.05) MRA than HiOX-MAP counterparts.

Thermal stability of OxyMb, NADH-dependent reductase, and LDH were different and pH-dependent. LDH was able to generate NADH at 84 °C; whereas NADH-dependent reductase was least stable to heat.

The results suggest that patties have MRA at cooking temperatures, which can influence cooked meat color.

Effects of metmyoglobin reducing activity and thermal stability of NADH-dependent reductase and lactate dehydrogenase on premature browning in ground beef

Journal of Food Science, 2017 Feb, 82(2):304-313, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13606. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28099768

Can consumers handle the truth (yes)? Can they handle potty-mouth (yes)? are auditors fucking robotrons when people die, from food (yes)

A subscriber from a third-party auditing company recently wrote and said I had a potty mouth.

I said get the fuck over it, nothing else seems to work, so try something different when it comes to food safety behavior.

You can go and get all hepped up on food safety culture, but it don’t translate into shit.

Night soil shit.

The kind that fertilizes all the veggies for the fancy restaurants in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and around the globe.

Gregory Bloom asks in MeatingPlace, can consumers handle the truth?

Besides the tortured writing, the answer is, duh.

For the past 25 years, all I’ve heard is we can’t adopt new technology because consumers don’t want it.

Bullshit.

Consumers don’t know what they want until they are offered it.

We sorta proved that in 2000 when we offered genetically engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes for sale at a farmer’s market.

The big stores wouldn’t let us in, because they were terrified to let moms and dads know that sweet corn and potatoes was grown with pesticides.

Corporate assholes.

Which allowed the anti-GE crowd to come up with some conspiracy shit that resulted in a death-to-science banner on my lab door.

Move out of your parent’s basement, get a life.

Bruce Cran of the Consumers Association of Canada told CTV News the federal government has done “an incompetent job” informing Canadians that irradiation is safe and he worries that a lack of action could lead to a deadly outbreak.

“They need to promote an understanding so Canadians can make an informed choice, and they’re not doing that for whatever reason,” Cran said. “This is not only a safe practice, it’s one that many of us would like to be able to use.”

“Our members would absolutely support it,” said Robin Horel, president of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.

“But we haven’t pushed hard because … the companies that produce chicken and turkey are concerned about what the consumer response would be.”

It’s called leadership.

Yes, leaders get some arrows in the back, but it’s been decades, either get behind science or suffer down the road.

My cousin the asparagus farmer bills his crop as genetically-engineered free. But anyone in the know knows that asparagus has been bred using multiple techniques over the years so it is absolutely genetically modified.

I asked him once if a fungal resistant GE asparagus came along, would he plant it.

He shrugged.

I have full respect for any farmer that can make a living doing whatever, getting gullible consumers to buy whatever.

There is a long history of food fairy tales, most famously linked to Dr. Kellogg in Michigan.

Anna Madison, a spokeswoman for Health Canada, said in an email the federal government would not promote irradiation since it does not engage in promotional activities.

Bullshit.

Health Canada promotes all kinds of bad food safety advice, from handwashing to thermometer use.

Rick Holley, professor emeritus of food microbiology and food safety at University of Manitoba, says irradiation is safe and is even more important for chicken than for ground beef. Chicken causes more illness in Canada, he said.

Holley said salmonella is naturally present on a lot of chicken and the gastro-intestinal bacteria campylobactor is present on all of it, regardless of whether a bird is free-range or factory.

“Both of these organisms occasionally kill, but because they make more people ill who recover, then the emphasis is not placed on them to the same extent as E. coli O157 in hamburger,” said Holley, who suggested that irradiating chicken could cut food-related illness in Canada by 25 per cent.

(Like my The Who T-shirt?)