Tell us about your turkey

This past year at IAFP 2017 a student of mine, Minh Duong gave a presentation on thermometer use in turkeys collected by citizen science – a project that came out of our collaboration with John Luchansky and Anna Porto-Fett at USDA ARS and Caitlin Warren, a high school science teacher in Souderton, PA.

What makes this method cool is that it allows for easy data collection where the participants are the ones collecting and interacting with it.

We’re doing some more stuff again this year, If you’re cooking turkey over the Thanksgiving holiday, please come and take this survey.

Same-sex marriage and thermometers promoted in Australia: Welcome to the naught years

Australian politicians decided to be good politicians, not leaders – because pioneers get arrows in their back – and threw the issue of same-sex marriage to a public mail-in vote. The yes side won by a 2:1 margin, thereby undermining the foundation of Western society (or so some say).

I say, who cares, let same sex people enjoy the benefits and grief of marriage like the rest of us.

Australian food safety week is Nov. 11-18, 2017.

The organizers have been to my church, and the theme is not hockey, but, “Is it done yet? Use a thermometer for great food, cooked safely every time.”

Stick it in.

The theme last year was“Raw and risky.”

Uh-huh.

These PR thingies are increasingly meaningless.

Chapman is coming over in Jan. or so, once our renovations are done.

Bring another batch of thermometers, buddy.

If a group wants to promote thermometer use, give them away.

According to a self-reported bullshit survey, 70% of Australians don’t know that 75°C is the safe cooking temperature for high-risk foods such as hamburgers, sausages and poultry. 75% of Australians surveyed also reported that there wasn’t a meat thermometer in their household and only 44% of those with a thermometer reported using is over the previous month.

Check out our media release Australians clueless about safe cooking temperatures – Use a thermometer for great food, cooked safely every time.

Stick it in and get it safe

Our contractor warned us the house would like a missile site for a few weeks.

It does, after Canadian daughter 4-of-4 and her boyfriend moved in.

Aussie time.

What I do notice is the builders are always shouting out measurement in millimeters.

120-this, 280-that.

So why wouldn’t anyone expect the same precision in cooking and use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer instead of some food porn adjectives.

We expect bridges to stay up when we cross them, house to stay intact when they are reinforced with steel.

We should expect food to be safe when we cook it.

That requires data, not porn.

Maybe not so slightly pink: Properly cooked pork chops may contain threat of Listeria and Salmonella for consumers

If you are eating leftover pork chops that have not been cooked well-done, you’re putting yourself at risk for Salmonella and Listeria exposure. While many individuals prefer to consume their pork medium, a new study published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal revealed that cooking pork chops to an acceptable temperature does not completely eliminate pathogens, providing these cells with the opportunity to multiply during storage and harm consumers.  

The study, “Impact of cooking procedures and storage practices at home on consumer exposure to Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella due to the consumption of pork meat,” found that only pork loin chops cooked well-done in a static oven (the researchers also tested cooking on a gas stove top) completely eliminated the Listeria and Salmonella pathogens. Other levels of cooking, i.e. rare and medium, while satisfying the requirements of the product temperature being greater than or equal to 73.6 degrees Celsius and decreasing the pathogen levels, did leave behind a few surviving cells which were then given the opportunity to multiply during food storage before being consumed.  

It is generally believed that when meat is heat treated to 70 degrees Celsius for two minutes, a one million cell reduction of E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria is achieved and thus the meat is free of pathogens and safe to eat. However, a report by the European Food Safety Authority revealed that more than 57 percent of Salmonella outbreaks in 2014 were in the household/kitchen, and 13 percent were associated with inadequate heat treatment. 

“The results of this study can be combined with dose response models and included in guidelines for consumers on practices to be followed to manage cooking of pork meat at home,” says Alessandra De Cesare, PhD, lead author and professor at the University of Bologna.  

In order to assess the pathogen levels in cooked pork, the researchers, from the University of Bologna, the Institute of Food Engineering for Development and the Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie, tested 160 packs of loin chop. The samples were experimentally contaminated with 10 million cells of L. monocytogenes and Salmonella to assess the reduction in pathogens after cooking, in accordance with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) specifications (ensuring a reduction of at least 100,000 and 1,000,000 cells, respectively). The samples were contaminated on the surface, to mimic contamination via slaughter and cutting.  

The samples were divided into groups to be cooked either on gas with a non-stick pan or in a static oven. In each setting, the pork chops were cooked to rare, medium, and well-done. For each cooking combination, 40 repetitions were performed for a total of 240 cooking tests.  

The researchers also interviewed 40 individuals between the ages of 20 and 60 to determine household consumer habits regarding doneness preferences. Prior published research was referenced to define meat storage practices and the probability that consumers store their leftovers at room temperature, in the refrigerator or discard them immediately. Growth rate data for the pathogens at each temperature were obtained using the software tool ComBase.  

The only cooking treatment able to completely inactivate the pathogens was oven well-done, which achieved a reduction between one and 10 million cells. Statistical analyses of the data showed significant differences related to level of cooking and cooking procedure. However, the researchers explained that factors such as moisture, water activity, fat levels, salts, carbohydrates, pH, and proteins can impact the cooking treatment and effectiveness and, as a consequence, on bacteria survival. These results emphasize the needs to consider the form of pork (such as whole muscle versus ground) being cooked, in addition to the final temperature necessary to inactivate pathogens.  

The results show that a reduction between one and 10 million of pathogen cells was reached when applying all of the tested cooking treatments, with product temperatures always reaching 73.6 degrees Celsius or greater. However, according to the simulation results using the obtained cell growth rates, the few surviving cells can multiply during storage in both the refrigerator and at room temperature, reaching concentrations dangerous for both vulnerable and regular consumers.  

After storing leftovers, there was a probability for the concentration of pathogens to reach 10 cells ranging between 0.031 and 0.059 for all combinations except oven well-done. Overall, the mean level of exposure to Listeria and Salmonella at the time of consumption was one cell for each gram of meat. The results obtained from this study can be implemented in guidelines for consumers on practices to follow in order to manage cooking pork meat at home.  

 

Everyone’s got a camera Arkansas, edition: Clinton students say school served them raw chicken

Color is still a lousy indicator of whether food is safe, but if Clinton High School wanted to make a case, they would provide internal temperature logs.

For two days a Clinton mother says her children sent her pictures of the food being served in the school cafeteria at lunch.  She says it appears to be undercooked chicken.

“I don’t want my child sick from food poisoning,” says Kathleen Page, mother of two teens at Clinton High School.

” It was so obviously raw,” says her son, Jonathan Carter, a junior at the school.  “You could see pink in it.  I’d cut it open with my fork and it’d be more red on the inside.”

Page called the school and was transferred to the cafeteria.  “I started to ask her questions and she told me it was none of my business and hung up.”

She also called the Health Department and they told her this wasn’t the first complaint they’d gotten about the school lunches.

Clinton School District Superintendent, Andrew Vining, released a statement regarding the issue.

“The Clinton School District strives to serve our students and staff a variety of meals that are healthy, nutritious, and appealing.  The photos that have been circulated do not appear that way.  This concerns us and we have taken steps to resolve the matter to ensure our students are provided with the best meals possible.

“There were also photos that were circulated regarding apparent raw pork; to clarify, no pork was served.

“The chicken fajita meat which was pictured was Tyson, fully cooked and prepackaged.  None of our staff or students have reported becoming ill after eating chicken from our cafeteria.  In the event someone does get sick, they need to notify my office and go to their doctor to see if symptoms were due to food-borne illness.

“We regret this has happened and we will continue to put the health of our students first in all things.”

Bad advice: Cook poultry thoroughly

 

The UK Food Standards Agency advises that poultry should be cooked thoroughly by ensuring it is steaming hot all the way through….NOPE. Use a thermometer and verify that the internal temperature has reached a minimum of 74C (165F). Stop guessing.

Following an article in The Mirror (9 September) which suggests that some people believe that raw chicken dishes are safe to eat, we are reiterating our advice not to eat raw chicken.
Raw chicken is not safe to eat – it could lead to food poisoning. Chicken should always be cooked thoroughly so that it is steaming hot all the way through before serving. To check, cut into the thickest part of the meat and ensure that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
The article states that ‘if birds have been free range, kept in quality conditions, and processed in a clean environment, there’s not so much to worry about’; but this is not the case. All raw chicken is unsafe to eat, regardless of the conditions that the birds have been kept in.
Consuming raw chicken can lead to illness from campylobacter, salmonella and E coli. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. In some cases, these bugs can lead to serious conditions.

It’s podcasts all the way down: I talk food safety stuff with Food Safety Magazine

Don and I started podcasting because it was kind of fun to chat with each other about nerd stuff every couple of weeks. It all started as part of IAFP’s 100 anniversary meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we recorded a 40 min conversation with each other for NPR’s StoryCorps (which we now refer to as Episode Zero). 133 episodes later, Food Safety Talk is still going strong with about 3000 subscribers.

Early on in our podcasting we appeared as guests on lots of other shows, including a bunch from Dan Benjamin’s 5by5 network. Others have joined us in the food safety podcasting world including the good folks at Food Safety Magazine who started Food Safety Matters a while back.

A couple of weeks ago I recorded a fun episode with Barbara VanRenterghem and we talked about how I got into food safety; some of the research we’re doing; and, evaluating safe food handling messages.

Check it out here.

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.