Fail: Paulding County restaurant inspections

Food safety is behavior-based. Public health inspections are a necessary means to ensure compliance with food safety regs but are a snap shot in time. It may be more beneficial to provide some on-site training during the inspection to effectively engage operators. They’ll be in their own environment, feel comfortable, and by actually working with them hands-on; you can break the English-as-second language barrier, if that exists.

Doug Gross reports

Two different Paulding County restaurants failed their health and safety inspections this past week, with inspectors finding problems ranging from raw chicken being stored on the floor to food that should have been thrown away still being in the cooler.
China Wok, off of Dallas Nebo Road at 4813 Ridge Rd., scored a 63/U on its inspection Tuesday and Las Palmas Restaurant, at 480 Watts Rd. in Hiram, scored an even lower 55/U on Monday.
At China Wok, inspectors said they found raw chicken being stored in a plastic bin on the floor. Rangoons were found in a small metal bowl being stored on top of a trash can. In the cooler, an uncovered container of raw chicken was being stored above containers of sauce and another bowl of raw chicken was being stored above green onions.
Food residue was found on a knife and potato peeler that were supposed to be clean, an employee was wearing a charm bracelet while preparing food and another was serving food without any kind of hair restraint.
Managers were found not to be properly trained and the restaurant couldn’t show that workers had gotten the proper food safety training.
At Las Palmas, cooked pork, pasta noodles, stuffed peppers and refried beans all were found with date markings that meant they should already have been thrown out. The marking on the beans suggested they were more than two-and-a-half weeks old.
Packages of raw ground beef were being stored next to lettuce, raw shrimp was left in a sink to thaw, two microwaves had food debris in them from the day before and food was being stored at the wrong temperature.
Managers didn’t display they’d had the proper training and the restaurant had no established procedures for what to do if a customer gets sick while there, the report said.
According to state policies, the restaurants will be inspected again within the next 10 days. If either hasn’t addressed the problems from the original inspection by then, inspectors could shut the restaurant down until the problems are fixed.

Not going to solve the issue. The problems may be altered temporarily and the restaurant will be open for business. However, from my experience, unless you can tackle the underlying issues that contributing to the problems initially; the restaurant will resort its’ original state. It’s all about behavior and effective training.

Add food safety cards: Texas restaurant hands out rule cards instructing how kids should act

A restaurant is hoping to pre-empt unruly child behavior by giving parents with kids a rule card about proper table manners when they get seated.

cuchara_english-570x398Can diners have food safety cards they can hand to staff?

For the last few months, d, a Mexican restaurant located in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, has been handing out illustrated cards to families that come in to dine. The colourful card shows a happy family eating with text below that reads:

“Children at Cuchara don’t run or wander around the restaurant. They stay seated and ask their parents to take sthem to the rest room. They don’t scream, throw tantrums or touch the walls, murals, windows or other patrons. They are respectful!”

According to TV news service KHOU, the restaurant isn’t trying to discourage parents from bringing in their kids but they do want diners to be mindful of how their children behave.

The move comes after the restaurant suffered $1500 in damage six months ago, when a child scratched one of its walls featuring hand painted murals by Mexico City artist Cecilia Beaven.

So far, the restaurant says the reaction to the cards has been overwhelmingly positive.

Who can control cats? Visual audit of food safety hazards present in homes in an urban environment

Research utilizing both survey and observational techniques has found that consumers do not accurately report their own food handling behaviors.

braunwynn.kittens.03The goal of this study was to objectively observe conditions related to food safety risks and sanitation in domestic kitchens in an urban environment. Subjects (n = 100) were recruited from Philadelphia, PA. Homes were visited over a one-year period by two trained researchers using a previously developed audit tool to document conditions related to sanitation, refrigeration, and food storage.

Potential food safety risks identified included evidence of pest infestation (65%), perishable food stored at room temperature (16%), storage of raw meat above ready-to-eat foods (97% of homes where raw meat was present), and a lack of hot running water in the kitchen (3%). Compliance with correct refrigeration practices was also low, with 43% of refrigerator temperatures ≥ 41°F, and only 4% of refrigerators containing a thermometer.

Consumers of minority race/ethnicity were more likely to have evidence of pest infestation in the home, lack a dishwasher and lack a cutting board in the kitchen, while Caucasian consumers were more likely to have an animal present in the kitchen during the audit visit.

 

Signs don’t work: Employees must wash hands

 Handwashing is important in preventing microbial cross-contamination. The US FDA Model Food Code requires that handwashing sinks have a sign or poster nearby that is visible to employees washing their hands.

jon.stewart.handwashing.2002This research collects and reviews existing handwashing signs and subjects them to quantitative analysis. An Internet search produced a database of handwashing signs. Lather time, rinse time, overall wash time, water temperature, water use, drying method, technique, and total number of steps were recorded.

Eighty-one unique handwashing signs were identified. Each sign had between one and thirteen steps. Thirty-seven signs indicated a specific lather time, with average time ~18 s. No sign suggested > 20 s lather, and none suggested < 10 s lather. Twenty-four signs recommended use of warm water. Two signs recommended 100°F (37.8°C) water and one recommended hot water. Sixty-two signs made a recommendation on drying hands, and fifty-three suggested using a paper towel.

Our analysis reveals that handwashing sign instructions can vary quite widely. Lack of consistent hand wash guidance on signage may contribute in part to a lack of handwashing consistency and compliance. Our study serves as a foundation for future research on handwash signage. 

Quantitative analysis of recommendations made in handwashing signs

Food Protection Trends, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 270-279, July 2015

Dane A. Jensen, Donald W. Schaffner

http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/food-protection-trends/article-archive/2015-07quantitative-analysis-of-recommendations-made-in-handwashing-signs/

 

Ignoring the safety: NZ company guilty of supplying Listeria-infected meat to hospital

We won’t get caught. No one got sick yesterday, so there’s a greater chance no one will get sick today.

These basics of of the human psyche continue to undermine tragedies from Bhopal to BP to the Challenger and food safety.

But with all the toys and technology, you’ll be found out – so act accordingly, even if decent humanity is not enough against the directive of profit.

A meat processor, its director and an employee have admitted selling Listeria-contaminated meat to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital and omitting to listeria4provide test results showing meat had tested positive.

The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board discovered cold ready to eat meats supplied by the company was contaminated in July 2012, after a number of Listeria cases had been linked to the hospital kitchen.

The outbreak claimed the life of 68-year-old Patricia Hutchinson on June 9 that year, and contributed to the death of an 81-year-old woman on July 9. Two other people were infected.

Bay Cuisine has pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Food Act and was not charged in connection with the Listeria infections.

When the health board discovered a link between the infections and the hospital kitchen it sent 62 unopened plastic pouches of Bay Cuisine meat products to ESR for testing. All the pouches were found to contain Listeria.

A summary of facts complied by the Ministry for Primary Industries said the company had the contract to supply the hospital since 2002.

The summary states that on July 9, 2012 the DHB requested copies of all test results Bay Cuisine had carried out for Listeria. Production manager Christopher Mackie replied by telling the DHB a batch of corned silverside had tested negative for Listeria, when in fact it had tested “presumptive positive”.

The following day an officer from the Ministry, investigating the Listeria cases at the hospital, requested test results. Mackie sent these on July 13 but again omitted reports showing that some products had tested “presumptive positive”.

But analysis of cellphone text messages between MacKie and company director Garth Wise show that on the evening of July 12 Wise had sent a text to Mackie suggesting that he “hold back the presumptive listeria ones [results] as there is only 3 or 4 of them and we just send the good”.

A subsequent search of the Bay Cuisine premises by the Ministry found the company had not provided the original, correct spreadsheet to the Ministry. This spreadsheet showed positive Listeria tests for meat products on June 18 and July 10.

Bay Cuisine, Wise and Mackie appeared in Napier District Court on Friday.

Through its lawyer Jonathan Krebs the company pleaded guilty to five representative charges of selling contaminated food, one charge of suppressing test results and one charge of omitting to provide information to the Ministry. Mackie pleaded guilty to one charge of suppressing test results and one of omitting information. Wise pleaded guilty to one charge of omitting information.

More than 140 other charges were dropped by the Ministry. The company and the men vacated not-guilty pleas that had entered a year ago.

Other charges to which the company pleaded guilty related to meats it had provided to various outlets between May and July 2012.

The company faces a fine of up to $500,000 on the charges of deception and omitting information and fines of up to $5000 for each of the other five charges. Wise and Mackie faces a maximum fine of $100,000.

Food Safety = Behavior, 30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance

My friend, Wal-Mart Frank, has written a follow-up to his 2008 book, Food Safety Culture. This is from the introduction:

food_safety_culture_0_story(1)As a food safety professional, getting others to comply with what you are asking them to do is critical, but it is not easy. In fact, it can be very hard to change other’s behaviors. And if you are like most food safety professionals, you have probably received little or no formal training on how to influence or change people’s behaviors.

But what if I told you that simple and proven behavioral science techniques exist, and, if applied strategically, can significantly enhance your ability to influence others and improve food safety. Would you be interested?

The need to better integrate the important relationship between behavioral science and food safety is what motivated me to write this book, Food Safety = Behavior, 30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance.

When it comes to food safety, people’s attitudes, choices, and behaviors are some of the most important factors that influence the overall safety of our food supply. Real-world examples of how these human factors influence the safety of our food range from whether or not a food worker will decide to wash his or her hands before working with food to the methods a health department utilizes while attempting to improve food safety compliance within a community to the decisions a food manufacturer’s management team will make on how to control a food safety hazard. They all involve human elements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf concepts related to human and social behavior are so important to advancing food safety, why are they noticeably absent or lacking in the food safety profession today? Although there are probably several good reasons, I believe it is largely due to the fact that, historically, food safety professionals have not received adequate training or education in the behavioral sciences. Therefore, there are numerous food safety professionals who approach their jobs with an over-reliance on the food sciences alone. They rely too heavily, in my opinion, on traditional food safety approaches based on training, inspections, and testing.

Despite the fact that thousands of employees have been trained in food safety around the world, millions of dollars have been spent globally on food safety research, and countless inspections and tests have been performed at home and abroad, food safety remains a significant public health challenge. Why is that? The answer to this question reminds me of a quote by the late psychologist Abraham Maslow, who said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” To improve food safety, we have to realize that it’s more than just food science; it’s the behavioral sciences too.

Think about it. If you are trying to improve the food safety performance of an organization, industry, or region of the world, what you are really trying to do is change peoples’ behaviors. Simply put, food safety equals behavior. This truth is the fundamental premise upon which this entire book is based.

How does one effectively influence the behaviors of a worker, a social group, a community, or an organization?

frank.amy_.doug_.jun_.11While it is not easy, fortunately, there is good news for today’s more progressive, behavior-based food safety professional. Over the past 50 years, an incredible amount of research has been done in the behavioral and social sciences that have provided valuable insights into the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of humans. Applying these studies’ conclusions to our field has the potential to dramatically change our preventative food safety approaches, enhance employee compliance, and, most importantly, save lives.

One of the most exciting aspects of behavioral science research is that its results are often of simple and practical use to numerous professions, including ours – food safety. Generally, the principles learned through behavioral science research require little technical or scientific equipment to implement. They usually do not require large expenses. What is required, however, is an understanding of the research data and the ability to infer how the research might be used to solve a problem in your area of concern.

In this book, Food Safety = Behavior, I’ve decided to collect some of the most interesting behavioral science studies I’ve reviewed over the past few years, which I believe might have relevance to food safety. I’ve assembled them into one easy-to- use book with suggested applications in how they might be used to advance food safety.

To get the most out of this book, at the end of each chapter, I strongly encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about the behavioral science principle you have just read, what it means to food safety, and how you might apply that principle in your own organization (or in your role) to improve food safety. For those in academic set- tings, you might also want to make a list of potential questions for further research.

frank.doug_.manhattan-300x225In summary, this book is devoted to introducing you to new ideas and concepts that have not been thoroughly reviewed, researched, and, more importantly, applied in the field of food safety. It is my attempt to arm you with new behavioral science tools to further reduce food safety risks in certain parts of the food system and world. I am convinced that we need to adopt new, out-of-the-box thinking that is more heavily focused on influencing and changing human behavior in order to accomplish this goal.

It is my hope that by simply reading this book, you pick up a few good ideas, tips, or approaches that can help you improve the food safety performance of your organization or area of responsibility. If you do, I will consider this book a success.

In closing, thanks for taking the time to read Food Safety = Behavior and, more importantly, for all that you are doing to advance food safety, so that people worldwide can live better.

 

Text me, don’t e-mail me, to influence food safety behavior

I hate texting.

I learned how to do it so I could chat with my kids, but I much prefer e-mail.

imagesChapman says I’m old, and the whole e-mail thing just passed by these kids.

The hardest lesson to teach any student working in my lab over the past 15 years was, check your e-mail.

When I went to Disney with food safety Frank in 2008, I was most impressed that he had all his chefs in the 20-something resorts checking their Blackberries every couple of minutes.

That’s the way I ran my lab.

But, I have kids, and they slowly drag the old man along to the new technology, and texting.

A Curtin University-led study (that’s in Australia) shows young adults are more apt to develop automatic, regular and long-lasting food-safety behaviors if a habit is formed.

However, this formation doesn’t have to be linked to education or motivation, but simply created with regular cues that prompt action.

Curtin University Associate Professor Barbara Mullan says the work flips the usual habit paradigm.

“There is a lot of research into how we break bad habits, particularly in clinical psychology, in areas such as obsessive-compulsion disorder,” Mullan says.

“But there’s very little about how humans establish good habits.

“Previous studies that do have largely involved people with a motivation to change, such as losing weight or exercising more, but we felt there was a lot of noise in that data.

“We wanted to strip the question of back to the purest level of ‘how long do people have to repeat an action for it to become automatic?'”

To answer that question, they drew on recent research which found microwaving a dishcloth—a major source of kitchen cross-contamination—for one minute was an effective method of sterilisation.

They enlisted 45 undergraduate students and divided them into three groups, two which received a reminder poster and text-message prompts every three and five days respectively to microwave their dishcloth, and a control group who received no reminders.

The test period lasted for three weeks, with a follow-up done three weeks after completion.

This follow-up revealed that a significant number of those given cues to act were still performing the habit, while those in the control group were not.

“The results are particularly important as they demonstrate that a relatively simple intervention was sufficient to change and maintain behavior,” A/Prof Mullan says.

“This suggests focusing on habit formation is a better strategy than attempting to change or improve behaviors through education or instruction, which have been shown to be largely ineffective.

“And they remove the need for motivation. While a person’s intentions may be good, intention does not always lead to behavior change.”

Mullan says they chose students as participants due to young adults being a population at a higher risk of experiencing foodborne illness, which affects a quarter of Australians each year.

The researchers are now looking at cue sensitivity and if sequences of habits can be built, including checking expiry dates and fridge temperatures.

Bakery owner: It’s easy to follow the rules; good food safety is about staff who care

Employing good food safety at retail is a combination of folks identifying risks and putting in mitigation steps to address them. The rub is that you need to cultivate a good staff who values the stuff that keeps patrons from getting sick. The science and guidance is relatively easy compared to the people stuff.

Mad Eliza’s Cakes and Confections, a pastry and bakery shop in Topeka, KS sorta has the people stuff figured out, according to cjonline.com.bakery-www

“It doesn’t matter what it is,” said co-owner Mark Murnahan, “I’m going to see it if it’s dirty.”

Murnahan said he has pretty high standards for his kitchen staff of four and constantly monitors everything to make sure they are in compliance. The KDA food guidelines, he said, are never farther than his laptop.

“I don’t want to serve anything I wouldn’t serve to my 98-year-old grandma or my 1-year-old son or anyone in between,” he said.

To accomplish that, Murnahan said, “training is critical” — and so is having a staff that cares about what it is serving.

“You have to know someone will take direction and have pride in what they serve,” he said. “Anyone who really wants to learn, the first thing they need to learn is food safety.”

“Anybody can have a good inspection,” Murnahan said. “It’s not hard to follow the rules. There are a lot, but once you know them, they’re really not hard to follow.”

Market food safety at retail so consumers can choose: Not training or technology

Maple Leaf Foods hosted its Sixth Annual Food Safety Symposium last week in Mississauga (that’s in Canada).

hucksterAccording to The Poultry Site, this year’s event was themed ‘People or Technology’, asking participants to debate which was the best investment to make a step change in food safety globally.

Dr. Randy Huffman, SVP Operations and Chief Food Safety Officer at Maple Leaf said, as many do, that food safety as a non-competitive issue and the company actively shares food safety learnings and promotes sharing of information among industry and government groups.

These are the wrong questions and wrong assumptions.

Yes, people need training – ever seen a peer-reviewed paper evaluating the effectiveness of such training?

Yes, new technology does wonderful things and also creates wonderful new opportunites for new bugs because food is a biological system that will always change.

Yes, food safety should not be a competitive issue and information should be shared.

But that’s not marketing at retail.

Any time I say, food safety should be marketed at retail – E. coli counts in spinach, Salmonella in eggs, Listeria in (Maple Leaf) cold cuts, I get told food safety is a non-competitive issue.

But I’m talking about marketing. People say the reason they buy local, organic, natural, sustainable, dolphin-free and hundreds of other categories is primarily because of safety.

market.naturalAs a consumer, I want to know which eggs have a history of low Salmonella counts. The technology exists and is being used to access complete restaurant  inspection reports with smart phones on those A-B-C rating in New York City.

Food safety may be non-competitive, but implementation is altogether different: some companies are better than others. As a parent doing all the grocery shopping, I want to know what companies are better at microbial food safety. As a PhD in food safety, I want to figure out how best to convey meaningful information.

But have your conferences, feel important, and read barfblog.com daily and bear witness to the outrageous levels of microbial food safety failures.

The kind that make people sick.

Toilet psychology: why do men wash their hands less than women?

By hiding in toilet cubicles for a new study, psychologists observed how long people spend using the loo, and how long they wash their hands for afterwards. That men usually wash their hands less conscientiously than women is a well-established finding. Thomas Berry and his colleagues wanted to find out more about the reasons for this gender difference.

toilet.hideFor one day, between 10am and 4pm, a male researcher secreted himself inside one of three cubicles in a gents toilet facility at a U.S. University. For optimal observational purposes he chose the cubicle adjacent to a row of three urinals. Nearby, in a similarly designed female toilet facility, a single female researcher positioned herself in one of the three cubicles available. Don’t worry, both researchers were provided with a “customised wooden bench” for comfort.

They were also equipped with stopwatches. The researchers used an “unobtrusive sight procedure” – that is, they spied on other visitors to the lavatories using the gaps beneath and by the side of the cubicle doors (for some reason, US toilet cubicles always have a gap of about a centimetre either side of the door). The researchers also used an “acoustic procedure”. That is, they listened to the visitors’ actions. The study authors explained:

“… research assistants recorded the facility [urinal or cubicle], and then started a stopwatch when the patron’s feet stood relatively still. For the men, the research assistants also recorded the orientation of the feet to gauge the patron’s use of the commode (i.e. as a commode or a urinal). When research assistants heard the flushing of the patron’s commode or urinal the stopwatch was turned off … and the duration of the restroom event was recorded.”

Similar procedures were followed for recording each visitor’s “hand washing event” if there was one. A clever twist was that for part of the study, the researchers put “out-of-order” signs over the men’s urinals. This was to see how much they’d hand wash if they were forced to urinate in a cubicle, rather than at a urinal.

The psychologists managed to observe the toilet behaviour of 34 women using cubicles; 32 men who used a cubicle to defecate; 40 men who had no choice but to use the cubicles for urinating (because of the out-of-order signs); and 64 men who used a urinal. The bare statistics show that the hand-washing rates for these four groups were 91 per cent, 87.5 per cent, 75 per cent and 59.4 per cent, respectively.

The difference in hand washing rates between women using a cubicle and men using a cubicle (for defecating) was not statistically significant. In contrast, both women using a cubicle, and men using a cubicle (for defecating), showed significantly higher hand-washing rates than men who used a urinal.

The data are somewhat compromised because, as the researchers delicately put it – the women’s “facility use is a constant (i.e., commode) and their behaviour (urination, defecation, or menstrual care) is confounded within the one environment.” However, taken together, the results suggest that the reason men wash their hands less than women overall, is not because of gender norms (i.e. men are less bothered about being clean), but because of the differences in the toilet environment and toilet behaviour for men and women. In fact, after using a toilet cubicle to defecate, men tended to wash their hands for longer than women (but remember we don’t know what the women had been doing).