Everyone has a camera, India restaurant edition

Tanu Kulkarni writes in The Hindu, the next time you spot a pani puri wala using unhygienic water or find that the food in your school canteen is not fresh, take a photograph or a video of the food safety violation and send it on WhatsApp to the Department of Health and Family Welfare and your complaint is as good as registered.

The department has decided to work with resident welfare associations (RWAs) in the city to spread awareness about safe and unsafe food and also look into complaints pertaining to food safety. Subodh Yadav, Commissioner of the department, said active volunteers will also be given an identity card so that they are taken seriously. The department’s local officials will be given a three day deadline to attend to the complaint. Apart from flagging off the department about these complaints, citizens can also raise awareness about food safety practices among others.

RWAs have welcomed the move. Nitya Reddy, vice-president, Richmond and Langford Town Residents’ Welfare Association, termed it a much needed one. “It will be great if the Health Department ropes in RWAs as we will be able to point out to unhygienic neighbourhood eateries, restaurants, and roadside vendors. We can be in constant touch with them and help them monitor food quality.”

More throwing poop: Drunk man in UK police cell hurled poop at CCTV camera

A disgruntled man pooped on the floor of a police cell after his request for toilet roll was said to have been ignored.

pay-shoplifter-poops-on-supermarket-floorIan Brock, 31, was caught on CCTV pulling his trousers down and defecating in a corner.

He then smeared his own excrement on the walls and threw a lump of it at the camera.

Brock, of Rectory Road, Llangwm, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage when he appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Tuesday (October 4).

Prosecutor Vaughan Pritchard-Jones said Brock had been arrested for an unrelated matter and was “highly intoxicated” when he carried out the dirty protest.

“In interview, he admitted what he had done and said he was disgusted with himself,” said Mr Pritchard-Jones.

Clever: Inexpensive camera system detects foodborne Shiga toxins

Reuven Rasooly, a chemist at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California (nice tagline) has developed a simple and inexpensive system for detecting Shiga toxin, a product of pathogenic Escherichia coli O157:H7.

shiga.toxin.cameraThis particular pathogen causes about 73,000 cases of food poisoning and more than 60 deaths in the United States each year.

The new system uses a camera and a light-emitting source to detect active toxins. Tests used today cannot distinguish between the active and inactive form of Shiga toxin, Rasooly says. It’s important to tell the difference between the two, because the toxin’s active form poses a threat to humans while the inactive form does not.

“We need devices that are affordable and sensitive to reduce the sources and incidence of foodborne illness,” Rasooly says. “Equipment such as a commercial fluorometer, typically used to detect Shiga toxin and other pathogens, is too expensive for developing countries, where the risk of foodborne illness and outbreaks is greatest.”

In a study, Rasooly and his colleagues showed that the camera system was as effective in measuring Shiga toxin activity as a fluorometer. Both instruments had the same toxin detection levels. The difference is that a fluorometer costs about $35,000 while the camera only costs $300, making it an affordable alternative for diagnostic labs.

In addition, the new system can easily be adapted for detecting other foodborne toxins. Rasooly recently demonstrated that the camera system can be used to detect Aflatoxin B1, a toxin produced byAspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.

“The toxin contaminates crops and foodstuffs worldwide, affecting 4.5 billion people,” Rasooly says.


Everyone has a camera: Food-safety-in-Oman edition

I’ve long been an advocate of electronics and digital monitoring for improving food safety outcomes.

Video-camera-1024x600But only with clear objectives and limits.

In Oman, cameras have been installed on a trial basis at different restaurants located at tourist spots, butcher shops and slaughterhouses in a bid to maintain hygiene standards.

“The aim is to keep an online tab on food processing,” the ministry said.

Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Shehhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, said the project enjoys full confidentiality guaranteed by the laws to all of the information including visual and non-visual data of food establishments.

Everyone’s got a camera: Hamburger-buns-stored-next-to-toilet-at-Tennessee-Checkers edition

Customers at a local fast food restaurant in Bradley County say they found a disturbing scene over the weekend, hundreds of buns, just feet away from a public toilet

checkersIt all happened at a Checkers restaurant located off of 25th Street in North West Cleveland,TN. Pictures confirm the buns weren’t in the oven, they were in the bathroom, Saturday. Customers say this type of practice is unacceptable while health department officials called it a “public health emergency.” Tennessee Department of Health officials were on the scene within 24 hours to investigate. 

“That’s nasty, I don’t want to eat,” said customer T.C. Cooper. “I’m never going to eat there again.” 

Customers are now turning away from the Checkers in Cleveland after seeing the pictures another customer posted online. 
The video show several racks of hamburger buns sitting next to the toilet in the men’s bathroom.

“It’s just bad business, poor management and it’s disgusting,” said Cooper. 

Stephen Staley who manages a nearby McDonalds says he was visiting Checkers on Saturday when took the video. 

“My first thought was are they going to serve them and speechless other than that,” said Staley 

He says he took the video to keep others safe.

“I’ve been to get a serve-safe certificate and you learn about all of that stuff in that class,” said Staley. “Food safety is definitely a big priority in a restaurant.”

 He confronted the manager on duty about the buns being in the bathroom. 

“They said they were trying to get them out of there and inside of the restaurant,” said Staley. 

Staley told Channel 3 that he stayed on the property until employees moved the buns back inside more than an hour after his complaint. He then he called the Health Department’s emergency tip-line for help. 

A spokesperson for Checkers released a statement saying:

” The health and safety of our guests is our top priority and a bread delivery mistakenly left in the bathroom is completely unacceptable. The buns were misplaced during a delivery at the franchise-operated Checkers location in Cleveland, Tennessee, on Saturday, April 23, 2016, and when discovered, they were immediately disposed of by the restaurant team. The buns were never served, and the employees involved in the delivery have been disciplined.”
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Everyone’s got a camera: Maryland school lunch version, and ‘food safety is our top priority’

The Prince George’s County Public School System rejects a student’s allegations that students are being served food that is moldy, unhealthy and disgusting.

belushi.zit.food.fight“Our school meals are healthy, nutritious and safe. And food safety is our top priority,” says Sherrie Johnson, spokeswoman for Prince George’s County Public Schools.

The student, Tamera Perry, a senior at Friendly High School in Fort Washington, made her complaints about school food public. Other students took to social media, posting pictures including undercooked hamburgers and moldy sandwich rolls.

But Johnson insists most of the pictures are of food from other school districts.

“We actually met with members of our Food and Nutrition Team [Tuesday] morning, and we examined the photos and they were quite clear: some of those are not ours. We could tell by the color of the food tray and we don’t use milk cartons — we have bottled milk,” Johnson says.

Among the complaints the girl made to Fox5 was that the Rojo Fiesta Pizza she was served Friday, Sept. 11, “wasn’t pizza at all, it was disgusting.”

Johnson says there’s a reason the pizza looked different.

“This is a new product this year. It’s a vegetarian pizza in which mashed kidney beans and cheese are part of the protein source,” Johnson says.

Cameras everywhere: Student filmed allegedly spitting in roommates’ food, adding poison

Police say a University of South Carolina student has been arrested after her roommates set up a camera and caught her spitting and putting window cleaner in their food.

security-camera-iconInvestigators told media outlets the roommates set up the camera because they had several arguments with 22-year-old Hayley King and she refused to leave their off-campus apartment.

Columbia police say the camera caught King taking several containers of food out of a refrigerator in February and spitting or spraying window cleaner into them. Authorities say one of the roommates ate out of one of the containers before seeing the video.

King is charged with unlawful, malicious tampering with human drug product or food. Her lawyer didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Mayor of California town caught tossing poop onto neighbor’s yard

It’s impossible to have sex in public places anymore – cameras are everywhere.

Chris Morran of Consumeristd writes Mayor Dennis Kneier of San Marino, CA, has been caught on video lobbing a sack o’ doggie diamonds onto the lawn of one of his neighbors. He claims it’s merely a mistake, while the homeowner believes it’s political payback.

throwing.poopSecurity camera footage shows the mayor and his wife strolling down the sidewalk on Saturday. In the mayor’s right hand is a tied-up bag of poop (which everyone assumes is from a dog). As he passes by the house in question, the mayor tosses the bag up the walkway and onto the yard.

After he was identified in the footage, the mayor, who apparently doesn’t own a dog, says that he spotted the bag of excrement against a lamppost elsewhere on the property and that he should have been more thoughtful about where he tossed it.

“I made a mistake of putting it in his walkway,” Kneier said. “Rather than leaving it, I should have walked on by or disposed of it properly.”

The homeowner contacted police, who agree that the tossing off the bag appears to be intentional. The video doesn’t show when or where the mayor picked up the poop used in his dirty bomb.

“This was a mistake, for which I apologize,” wrote the mayor in a letter the homeowner. “It won’t happen again.”

But the homeowner isn’t having any of it. He says the apology letter only makes matters worse by trying to put some of the blame on the homeowner — who also owns no dogs — for allegedly having dog poop on his property to begin with.

The homeowner believes that he was targeted because of his recent opposition to a dog park that the mayor supports. The mayor tells the Star-News that he is offended by the allegation, saying that people are free to have their own opinions. 

Smile: you’re on camera; McDonald’s, Carrefour sorry for food violations in China

Staff at McDonald’s and Carrefour outlets in China were caught on camera selling expired chicken products and meat that fell on the ground.

The report by China Central Television offered no evidence of widespread problems with the China operations at either company. But their quick apologies highlight the pressures foreign companies can face in China, as well as rising food-safety worries there.

CCTV reported late Thursday that a Beijing branch of McDonald’s sold chicken wings an hour and 24 minutes after they had been left on a warming tray, compared with the 30-minute limit that the store sets. The report also said outlet personnel cooked and sold beef that had fallen on the outlet’s kitchen floor.

China’s Food and Drug Administration said late Friday that it sent health investigators to the McDonald’s outlet featured in CCTV’s report and ordered the company to act in accordance with food-safety laws and to boost employee food-safety awareness. The incident should be a warning to all McDonald’s outlets, it said.

The network also said a Carrefour outlet in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, in central Henan province, sold expired chicken and labeled regular chicken as more the expensive free-range variety.

CCTV’s report came as part of an annual broadcast feature marking World Consumer-Rights Day on March 15, or what is known in China as "315." Analysts say that China has historically used the day as an educational tool to give Chinese consumers more information on the products they use and as an outlet for their complaints.

UK regulator wants cameras in slaughterhouses to curb animal abuse, industry says, hang on mate

In Feb. 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shut down a meat processing company after concluding workers committed egregious acts of animal cruelty, about a week after the Humane Society of the United States released video showing employees of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. of Chino, Calif., tormenting cows that were too injured or weak to stand.

That $100-million-a-year company does not exist anymore – brought down by someone using an over-the-counter video recording device.

An employee of the Humane Society of the United States worked undercover inside the company for about six weeks in the fall, secretly recording what went on.

His video shows what appear to be crippled cows dragged with forklifts, sprayed in the face with a high-pressure water hose and poked in the eye with a stick.

The images sparked concern not only from animal-welfare advocates, but from food-safety experts, who feared the company might have used the tactic to prod sick animals to slaughter in violation of state and federal regulations.

At the time I said maybe it was time for USDA to adopt some new inspection and investigative techniques if the HSUS can so easily document such grotesquely poor treatment of animals.

In April, 2008, Dr. Richard Raymond of USDA said the department needed neither video cameras nor more inspectors to police slaughterhouses after the country’s largest beef recall earlier this year.

Everything was just fine.

In March 2009, Cargill Beef decided to do their own thing – probably because when an outbreak or outrage happens, the USDA or any other regulatory types, don’t lose their jobs, it’s the producers, processors and employees who lose money and their jobs — and implemented a third-party video-auditing system that would operate 24 hours a day at its U.S. beef slaughter plants to enhance the company’s animal welfare protection systems.

A year later, Cargill announced it was expanding its remote video auditing program to monitor food-safety procedures within processing plants.

Mike Siemens, Cargill leader of animal welfare and husbandry, said at the time,

“The early results with our animal welfare program have been terrific … In addition to the positive results on compliance rates, we have observed healthy competition among plants on performance scores, as well as a general theme of collaboration among plants on how to attack specific operational challenges. The ability to share data and video easily is extremely valuable.”

If the U.S. regulators aren’t listening, the Brits are.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency tabled a proposal last week to introduce CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras into slaughterhouses in a bid to tackle animal welfare abuse.

Food Production Daily cited FSA director of operations Andrew Rhodes as saying the agency is calling for the voluntary introduction of surveillance cameras after undercover filming by animal rights group Animal Aid in the last year had highlighted abuses in U.K. slaughterhouses. The proposal is due to go before agency chiefs next week for approval.

The report said that while there is no legal requirement to fit CCTV, food business operators (FBOs) may come under pressure from retailers to install systems. The FSA acknowledged there were practical issues – such as how the footage in monitored, who has access to it and how long film is kept – that must be addressed.

Agreed. There are lots of issues involved. So figure them out. What slaughterhouse or processor wants to be held hostage by each new hire that may be carrying a video device.

Today, Food Production Daily cited Stephen Rossides, head of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), as saying that proposals to fit surveillance cameras in UK slaughterhouses to combat animal welfare abuses must remain voluntary as violations are relatively rare.

I don’t know about the U.K., but at the time of the Westland mess, Julie Schmit of USA Today reported that newly released government records show such animal mishandling in past years was more than a rare occurrence.

The Animal Welfare Institute, an animal-protection group, said that more than 10% of the humane-slaughter violations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the 18 months ended March 2004 detailed improper treatment of animals that couldn’t walk — mostly cattle.

USDA records obtained by the Animal Welfare Institute describe 501 humane-handling or slaughter violations that occurred at other slaughter plants. At one plant, a downed cow was pushed 15 feet with a forklift. Other companies were cited for dragging downed but conscious animals, letting downed cattle be trampled and stood on by others and, in one case, using "excessive force" with a rope and an electric prod to get a downed cow to stand, the enforcement records say.

Beyond reaction and regulation, producers and processors who say their food is safe should be able to prove it. Producers and processors who say they treat animals humanely should be able to prove it.