Not everything is food safety

Travel woes en route to an FAO meeting (oh, that is a food safety hook)  in Russia resulted in me having 12 hours to kill in Paris. Instead of staying in the city, I did something today that I’ve thought about for a while but had not had the chance- rented the world’s smallest stick shift car and traveled to Normandy. I drove through the French countryside and walked along Juno Beach where many Canadians landed on D-Day.

Most emotional for me was seeing an area of the world that had an impact on my life – the small villages of Le Mesnil-Patry and Norrey-en-Bessin. My grandfather, who Sam is named for, was part of a small group of seven that survived a battle where their company lost 98 soldiers. My grandfather was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. Although we were very close he never spoke about it.

 

Can you see the real me? Can ya? Can ya?

I was sitting with my friend Dave, as you do waiting for kids to be released from school yesterday, and I was telling him I’m going to back off the hockey head coaching thing, I’ve been doing it for four years, and Sorenne and I need a coaching break from each other.

Dave’s kid is taking to the ice for the first time in full hockey gear on Sunday, so I said I’d be there to help him.

Dave asked me why I was backing off, and I said, I had a lot of death about 35 years ago, it’s all on the Intertubes, but now I’m revisiting it, because I don’t have endless amounts of kids, I don’t have a job, and it’s making me evaluate what went on and who I am.

And I’m not the best person to be lead for the kids.

Dave: You can’t leave me hanging, what happened?

Doug (the 90 second version): In March 1981 I was in a car crash. I was driving and went through a house. My best friend was in the front seat with me and he died. There was one other person in the other car and he died.

I was in the hospital for two weeks and still have long-term pain related to the left side of my body, which was basically collapsed.

Then I went to jail for criminal negligence causing death, then my cousin, the only one of six children who survived a car crash before I knew him, died over a waterfall in B.C.

Then I got out of jail, went to visit my grandmother in Barrie, Ontario (in Canada) where she was caring for her husband who was dying of Alzheimer’s, and she took her own life.

I took her to the hospital with my uncle and she pretty much died in my arms.

And then death pretty much went away and I’ve been completely fortunate.

I have a fantastic support group I meet with most Fridays, lots of military, post-traumatic stress disorder types, oh, and the concussions I received playing goalie with a shitty piece of plastic for a mask have now become legendary.

Why do I share this?

Because it’s hard fucking work to get inside your soul.

It makes me a better writer.

It may even make me a better person, jury’s out on that one.

Don’t like it? Start your own blog, that is why I started the other University of Guelph newspaper, back when newspapers existed in 1986, because I got tired of listening to myself complain.

Or hit delete.

The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved: 5 quotes that capture the madness

Elaborate clothes, excessive drinking and loutish behaviour. Can you tell the difference between the 1970s Kentucky Derby and the atmosphere at the races today?

‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved’ is Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970s rendering of the ever-famous Louisville event, the annual Kentucky Derby. Alongside his companion and cartoonist Ralph Steadman, he paints a picture of an event that is just that: utterly decadent and wholly depraved.

Check out our top five quotes and you’ll see what we mean…

#1 Hunter S. Thompson and Steadman arrive at the racetrack bar and anyone who’s anyone is there: the politicians, the beautiful women and the rich locals, all there to see and be seen.

The only thing more important than the horse race itself is the sport of people-watching.

How different is that to the streams of spectators dressed in their best finery on Millionaire’s Row, desperate to impress the watchful eyes of the fashion police at the track nowadays?

#2 Looking out over the stands, Hunter S. Thompson imagines them packed with spectators, crying, fighting and falling over each other when the Kentucky Derby begins. The screaming, the vomiting, the public urination, the desperate grappling for money.

Ever sat in the cheap seats at a race track? If you’re in the infield, say goodbye to your hearing, you might as well throw away your shoes, and forget about personal space.

#3 Hunter S. Thompson studies the faces of the horse breeders, looking for the one face that perfectly represents the character of the typical Kentucky Derby race-goer. The privileged sort, drunk on whiskey and the belief in their own pure-bred Southern superiority.

They might be less conspicuously drunk nowadays but the only people who claim to be more pure-bred than the horses at a derby are the people who breed them.

#4 That night after the first race, drinking ensues in the unfortunate absence of drugs. Stealing passes to the race clubhouse, Hunter S. Thompson and Steadman spend an incoherent Kentucky Derby Day lost in a sea of whiskey-soaked people.

We’ve all seen the pictures of the rowdy drunken crowds falling over each other and pouring out of a race track. Hardly a stretch for the imagination.

#5 Hunter S. Thompson awakes from his drunken, sleep-like stupor, he sees an ill, red, haggered-looking face in the mirror. The exact face of the loathsome type of person he was looking for at the Derby.

The morning after the night before. We’ve all been there. This one doesn’t necessarily apply exclusively to horse races…just, mornings.

Hunter S. Thompson got one thing right in ‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved’: the racetrack is capable of bringing out the worst in human nature. But there’s really no denying it, it’s still a great day out.

Roger Ramjet, rainbow unicorns, and a Missouri girl’s poop-themed third birthday party

In grade 10, I would race home on my bicycle at lunch to take in 30 minutes of animated joy that was a predecessor to all the satire 40 years later of pompous American superheros, and I was convinced the writers were all stoned.

Roger Ramjet.

Greatest TV cartoon ever (read the start of the wiki entry to get of how deepl weird the show was and how we are living it today).

Today’s weirdest non-political animation is the pooping unicorn, which has reached its demographic epoch in the same way that 7-year-olds hang posters of Michael Jackson or Katy Perry, when a friend of daughter Sorenne asked, “Do you know what the colorful unicorn is?

Yes, yes I do, we covered it over a year ago and it has to do with a colorful unicorn and some stoned student pitching a device for the proper popping posture.

But is the unicorn effect spreading like diarrhea?

As Caroline Bologna of Huffington Post writes, when a Missouri mom named Rebecca asked her daughter, Audrey, how she’d like to celebrate her third birthday, the toddler had only one theme in mind: “poop.”

“For months, every time we mentioned her party, Audrey requested ‘poop balloons and a poop cake,’” Rebecca told The Huffington Post. “I tried suggesting other themes, but she always insisted on poop.”

Ultimately, she and her husband decided to “embrace the weird” and give Audrey the party she wanted.

The unconventional party took place in October at the family’s home in St. Louis.

The guests played “pin the poop,” enjoyed a poop emoji-shaped piñata filled with Tootsie Rolls and Hershey’s Kisses, and received whoopee cushion favors. Rebecca even dressed in a poop costume.

The mom said everyone loved the party and thought it was hilarious. “I expected the grandparents to question it, but they all just laughed when I told them,” she added.

Rebecca believes the birthday party embodied her daughter in many ways. “Audrey is definitely her own person,” she explained. “I hope she always has the confidence she has now. She is so funny and the best big sister.”

Rebecca hopes Audrey’s party can inspire other parents in the throes of birthday planning.

Some call it hockey? Shortest workout possible

Super-short workouts are all the rave in media space.

Me, I want to go back to working out 3 hours a day, and being mindful of it.

Gretchen Reynolds of The New York Times wrote in Feb. 2007, in an exaggerated example of exercise porn, that she had written about seven-minute, six-minute, four-minute, and even one-minute workouts. They are appealing because they require so little time, but they also demand straining effort.

Martin Gibala is the scientist we most have to thank for the popularity of very brief, very hard exercise. All of these workouts are built around the concept of high-intensity interval training, in which you push yourself almost to exhaustion for a brief spurt of minutes or seconds, and then rest and recover for a few minutes before repeating the intense interval.

It’s called hockey (the ice kind).

45-seconds shifts, go hard or go home, and do it again.

Tim, this one’s for you: Earthing Gwyneth Paltrow offers ridiculous depression cure

My friend Tim in Edmonton wrote a best-seller, Why Gwyneth Paltrow is Wrong About Everything.

If he’s working on a second edition, here’s a fairytale to add.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous new-age lifestyle site GOOP has delivered the goods once more, offering subscribers some rather unusual advice on how to combat depression.

A new post on the Paltrow-helmed website introduces readers to the concept of “earthing” — that’s going barefoot, in layman’s terms.

Walking around barefoot outside isn’t a sure-fire way to step on something sharp — it’s actually an incredibly powerful healer for mental and physical woes including depression.

“Earthing therapy rests on the intuitive assumption that connecting to the energy of the planet is healthy for our souls and bodies,” says the post, which insists there is a “scientific angle” to the theory, and that ‘GP’ (Gwyneth Paltrow herself) swears by the practice.

There is one caveat: You must do your ‘earthing’ outside. Walking around barefoot in your own home just won’t cut it.

“Walking barefoot in your home, where minimally conductive or nonconductive materials like concrete foundations and hardwood floors insulate us from the earth’s electric potential, will not have the same effect,” GOOP quotes an earthing expert as saying.

Is this GOOP’s weirdest advice to date? Honestly, how do you even quantify that anymore? This is a website that, this year alone, has advised women to stick jade eggs into their vaginas to balance their menstrual cycles, and told anyone dealing with a breakup to immediately burn all their underpants in a bonfire.

In the past, Paltrow’s blog has even claimed underwire bras could cause breast cancer. The American Cancer Society disproved that myth.

There is the problem of worms.

Bats in salad is yuck factor stuff; actual illnesses end up lost

I don’t know exactly when the barfblog risk factor vs. yuck factor thing was coined, but it’s been a running theme for over a decade. The concept is that stuff that grosses some people out (like this 3-year old’s poop party) garners more attention than the stuff that actually makes people sick.

There’s literature out that that shows that individuals are likely to perceive a situation or product as unsafe if it appears dirty, gross, or yucky, regardless of whether or not there is an actual food safety risk.

Many food safety regulatory systems, at national and local levels, employ a risk-based standard and inspection process grounded in both epidemiological and scientific evidence for monitoring and addressing food safety from farm-to-fork.

Risk and yuck get confusing.

Like bats and scorpions in bagged salad are a bigger deal for the mere mortals like the hockey parents I hang out with than actual outbreaks (like this one). Finding something that’s gross, and isn’t expected, garners a stronger media reaction than seven cases of E. coli O157.

Lots of folks I’ve talked to over the past couple of days want to know why there are suddenly more of these weird animals-in-food events (there aren’t) and how it happens.

We’ve seen stuff like this before:

Frog found in bag of Aussie salad

‘Why have I a soggy fishcake on my plate?’ Tesco customers’ horror as they find dead bird in salad during meal

And rats.

It’s possible that the mechanical harvesting could pick something like this up and it makes it through the quality control steps (see this video of what a salad mix mechanical harvester looks like beginning at 1:17)
.

The washing, sorting line is a place for quality control to happen (and here’s another video about that process), but it doesn’t surprise me that small animals make it through (and these events seem really rare)

As for risk, animals can carry human pathogens. As with any fresh produce item, there’s not a cook step (usually), so the potential for these extra critters (and their feces or body parts) to carry something like Salmonella is there. But the exposure chance is pretty low. Once discovered, I don’t know if many folks will eat around the animals once discovered.

Folks might benefit from targeted information about yuck versus epidemiologically-driven food safety risks. Not just the home chefs, but the industry and government risk managers that have to explain where their food safety priorities lie – and how stuff – like bats – slip through the cracks.

‘We meet all standards’ Fresh Express uses Pinto defense after dead bat found in salad

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support an investigation of a dead bat that was found in a packaged salad purchased from a grocery store in Florida. Two people in Florida reported eating some of the salad before the bat was found. The bat was sent to the CDC rabies lab for laboratory testing because bats in the United States sometimes have been found to have this disease. The deteriorated condition of the bat did not allow for CDC to definitively rule out whether this bat had rabies.

Transmission of rabies by eating a rabid animal is extremely uncommon, and the virus does not survive very long outside of the infected animal. CDC is supporting Florida local and state health officials in evaluating the people who found the bat in the salad. In this circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people who ate salad from the package that contained the bat were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment. Both people report being in good health and neither has any signs of rabies. CDC is not aware of any other reports of bat material found in packaged salads.

On April 8, 2017, Fresh Express issued a recall of a limited number of cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix. The salads were sold in a clear container with production code G089B19 and best-if-used-by date of APR 14, 2017 located on the front label. The recalled salads were distributed only to Walmart stores located in the Southeastern region of the United States. All remaining packages of salad from the same lot have been removed from all store locations where the salad was sold.

The company said in a statement it worked quickly with officials to remove the entire batch of salads from store shelves, and only one line of its products had been affected.

“Fresh Express takes matters of food safety very seriously and rigorously complies with all food safety regulations including the proscribed Good Agricultural Practices.”

Maybe install bat filters as the lettuce goes through a wash?

KState changes handwashing recommendations

Twelve years after Chapman and I set out for Prince George, B.C., where Chapman announced his fears of both bears and jello-swim nights at the local college, and then went to Kansas State University, where I met a girl (who’s still my best friend and wife), where I got sexually advanced upon in an unpleasant manner by a professor dude, where I had lunch with the president, got a job offer, and enjoyed a great career, my former boss sent me this:

KState has changed its handwashing recommendations.

They disconnected the blow dryers in those groovy all-in-one handwashing units.

One reason I was offered the job is because I took the prez to the bathroom and showed him how shitty their handwashing recommendations were.

But that story is old.

No one should be recreating their past glory days (and if I ever quote a Bruce Springsteen song again, put me out of my misery).

Change does sometimes happen: usually not as fast as any of us would like.

She podcasts too: Mapping Layers of Colonial Memory into Contemporary Visual Art

From January to May 2016, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (known as MuCEM) in Marseille, France hosted an exhibition called “Made in Algeria: Genealogy of a Territory”. The exhibit proclaimed to be the first large-scale exposition on the Algerian territory and gathered cartographic depictions of Algeria from the earliest European encounters in the fifteenth century to twenty-first century images of an independent culture still bearing colonial remnants, with a goal to show “this long and unique process which was the impossible conquest of Algeria” (MuCEM 3).

The most recent pieces, notably by artists Zineb Sedira who was born to Algerian parents in France, and Katia Kameli who has a French mother and Algerian father, show layering of colonial memory into contemporary images of the Algerian people and landscape. The exhibit, which in title wants to show the origins of the Algerian territory, is created primarily in France, for a French audience, and is built upon French imagination. By assessing the lines, grids and other marks that are still visibly mapped onto Algeria in the exhibit, this paper explores how what is in name “Made in Algeria” remains heavily marked by France.