Jumped the shark: Food safety culture

It’s a shame when one of your children jumps the shark.

Not my actual children, there are all unique and different, and I love their takes on life.

Ideas are not biological beings.

Food ​safety culture in a business is how everyone (owners, managers, employees) thinks and acts in their daily job to make sure that the food they make or serve is safe. It’s about having pride in producing safe food every time, recognising that a good quality product must be safe to eat. Food safety is your top priority.

A strong food safety cu​lture comes from people understanding the importance of making safe food and committing to doing whatever it takes, every time. It starts at the top but needs everyone’s support across the business.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) says it has developed some easy-to-use tools and resources to help businesses and regulators work together to improve food safety culture, through a 3-step process:

Step 1: Know where your business stands

Step 2: Do something to make a difference

Step 3: Follow through for a long-lasting impact

Food safety is not simple, and nothing is easy.

How does FSANZ know their tools are easy to use? Have they done surveys, personal interviews?

Unlikely.

It’s one of those catch phrases which means, be suspicious.

I’ve always told my daughters, anyone who says trust me is untrustworthy.

Food safety is like anything else, especially hockey: put in the hours, get it right.

Takedown of food co-ops in Ep. 3 was awesome: Ronny Chieng – International Student is my favourite new show

Ronny Chieng may be known to barfbloggers as the Malaysian correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and his shit is funny.

And the dude knows food.

Kylie Northover of Melbourne’s The Age writes when asked about places to dine in Melbourne (that’s in Australia), Chieng swiftly sent back a small list of his favourite places – and a link, no less, to his own restaurant website.

Less food blog than a comprehensive list of cafes, restaurants and bars, Chieng’s site, I’m OK with Anything, also features his bio, links to buy merchandise and his agent details, but it’s foremost a comprehensive “guide to eating, drinking and playing in Melbourne city”.

“This is right up my alley,” Chieng says when we meet at his first choice, Malaysian cafe Aunty Franklee, in the city. “I’m all about this.”

Chieng loves his food, and when he moved here from Singapore to study law and commerce, he was shocked at the lack of late-night food options. This only got worse when he started comedy. But he’s seen a shift, and says it’s usually the Asian places that have spearheaded later opening hours.

“That then forces other places to start doing it too,” Chieng says. “When you do comedy shows, you usually don’t finish until about 11pm, then you have this adrenaline dump and you get hungry. There’s Supper Club and a couple of places but it used to be you had to settle for one of those shitty Lygon Street places; it’s good they’re open but the food is usually awful. That’s why I started the list.”

Visiting comedians would ask for recommendations and he would send out an email.

“That evolved into the website; now I just send people the link.”

Ronny Chieng
Photo Credit: Comedy Central

His site covers brunch, lunch, dinner, late openings and bars, and while he doesn’t rate restaurants as such, he does differentiate between prices and “moods”, like “fancy but not super fancy”.

“Sometimes you feel like a $15 meal and sometimes you feel like a $30 one.”

Chieng is fussy about his Malaysian food, and Aunty Franklee, inside the Exford Hotel, serves the best char kwai teow, a hawker flat noodle dish, he’s had in Melbourne.

“It’s a dish that I judge all Malaysian restaurants by,” he says. “It’s hard to get this taste outside of Malaysia, and this is the best I’ve had.”

Chieng orders that and the Bak kut teh, a traditional pork rib dish cooked in a fragrant broth made with 23 herbs, for us to share.

Starters are not really a thing in Malaysian cuisine, he says.

“And there’s no rules – it’s very informal,” Chieng says. “You can even use your hands. In fact, I’m probably the best dressed person ever to walk in here.”

Born in Malaysia but raised mostly in Singapore, Chieng moved to Melbourne to study and in one of those almost unbelievable scenarios, decided to try out at an open mic night – despite never having harboured any desire to be a comedian – and found, with his deadpan delivery, he was an instant hit.

Was he always funny?

“I don’t think so,” he says, although that deadpan thing makes it hard to tell. “I gave it a try, just to confirm my suspicions, really.”

That was in 2009, in the final year of his studies – and when he couldn’t get a legal job, he chose comedy. By 2012, he’d won the best newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and was already touring the major comedy festivals.

And what does his Mum, who, as fans would know, often features in his material, make of his throwing away 10 years of study?

He says she’s “very happy” he got his degrees.

“She’s surprisingly OK – she never once mentioned anything about being part of my stand-up,” he says, again with a tone.

In late 2015, he was headhunted for US comedy news program The Daily Show after host Jon Stewart’s departure. His replacement, comic Trevor Noah, emailed Chieng out of the blue and asked him to come on board as a correspondent. Chieng was on tour at the time, and, as one would, accepted the gig right away.

He didn’t even have time to tell his parents before the news broke in the media.

“I moved straight from the UK to New York – I didn’t even come back to Australia.”

It has been “intense”. “Living in in New York is intense anyway but then with the Trump thing it became even more so,” he says.

On top of the long hours, for many months Chieng was co-writing his sitcom, International Student, via Skype, with Declan Fay in Australia.

“Not to mention I got married last September,” he says.

He married his Australian-Vietnamese fiancee at City Hall in New York, but he’s not getting out of it that easily, with two more “proper” weddings being planned.

“Mum was OK about it but we are getting married again in Melbourne and then again in Kuala Lumpur for my family,” he says. “The Asian wedding is coming!”

He also says no to a beer with lunch, but for less health-conscious reasons.

“The photos will turn out weird if I drink – I have one and my face goes red.”

Much like his character in International Student, one of six comedy pilots shown on ABC last year through its Comedy Showroom initiative, Chieng’s was the first to be made into a full series.

Based “loosely” on his experiences as a student at Melbourne University, it’s a comic look at student life when you’re straddling the cultural divides between locals and foreigners.

It is, Chieng says, an under-explored story.

“It’s all based on stuff that actually happened – I mean, nobody really broke a photocopier, but we had drinking games and I went out of my way to participate in one to get out of my comfort zone,” he says. ” I don’t think you can go through Melbourne Uni without doing a ‘boat race’, for example,” he says of the drinking game in the show’s pilot episode.

When Chieng arrived here, he knew only his sister.

“Usually the international students stick to themselves, but I wanted to make a point of making friends with other students, not just the international ones. I made friends with the locals.”

The series is co-produced by The Comedy Channel in the US, where it will also screen and Chieng reckons despite it being Australian, it will translate to America, where tales of college life are almost their own genre.

As for what lies ahead, Chieng has no definite plan.

“I come from the corporate world where everyone has a five-year plan, but performing arts doesn’t work that way; you just kinda do the best job you can with the gig you’ve got.”

International Student is on ABC, Wednesdays at 9pm, and on ABC iview (that’s the Australian one).

 

Follow my lead: Food service needs safety champions

This paper addresses the challenge of reducing food safety errors in the foodservice industry.

dragnetResults of a survey of 255 full-time food service professionals supported our proposed causal chain of impact that runs from “leader behavioral integrity for food safety” (the extent to which leaders/supervisors consistently enact and enforce food safety rules) through the proportion of food safety errors reported, through “error management” (an integrated set of practices involving error detection, correction, analysis, prevention and learning), finally to reduced food safety violations.

Specifically, this study found the mediating effect of error reporting between leader behavioral integrity for food safety and error management; and the mediating effect of error management between error reporting and food safety violations.

Results suggest that ongoing support and incentivizing of supervisors’ behavior may be a critical supplement to skill-based training of employees in reducing food safety errors and thus violations. The study found that high leader behavioral integrity for food safety can improve error reporting and error management leading to a reduction in the risk of foodborne illness, which is the ultimate goal of a food safety training program.

It is recommended that managers serve as role models by following proper food safety practices and reporting errors themselves. A manager who consistently enacts food safety priorities and protocols conveys more clear information about positive organizational priorities for safety, provides clearer incentives for safety behaviors, models desired attitudes, and enhances employee trust and thus willingness to learn; which is critical for the success of food safety programs.

Reducing food safety errors in the United States: Leader behavioral integrity for food safety, error reporting, and error management

International Journal of Hospitality Management

Volume 59, October 2016

Priyanko Guchait, Jack A. Neal, Tony Simons

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278431916301323

Malaysians okay with dirty eateries

The number of eateries the Malaysian Health Ministry (MOH) was compelled to close in the past two years reflected a poor awareness among Malaysians on food safety and hygiene.

food-handler1“In 2015, a total of 124,254 food premises were inspected. Of this 2,422 (1.9%) were ordered closed.

“A total of 8,210 compounds were issued to food premises operators for offences committed under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009,” said MOH director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The situation shows no sign of improving.

Up till March this year, 645 of the 28,026 food premises inspected were ordered to close.

Already, 3,418 compounds have been issued for various offences.

A circular issued by the ministry on Food Hygiene Regulations 2009, which was fully enforced from January 2014, stated 33 compoundable offences for food operators.

They range from licensing to the transportation of meat, cooked food and raw fruits as well as vegetables.

Maximum penalties include fines not exceeding RM10,000 or not more than two years’ jail, or both.

Continual public patronage is the reason why dirty eateries thrive, said MPSJ Corporate and Strategic Management Department deputy director Muhammad Azli Miswan.

He cited an example of an eatery in USJ 10, Subang Jaya, which had been issued with 30 compounds but continued to run on full house daily.

“People who care about their health should give dirty eateries a wide berth.

“But in Malaysia, a dirty food stall or restaurant is not a deterrent to customers,” he observed.

It does not help that Malaysians have a “forgiving” and tolerant nature towards dirty food handlers.

 

Poop, not spices: UK chef prepared food after wiping bottom with bare hands; it’s a culture thing

A takeaway chef wiped his bottom using his hands before preparing food because he does not use toilet paper for ‘cultural reasons’, a court heard.

mahbub.chowdhuryMahbub Chowdhury, 46, from Swindon, was found to have a filthy bottle in the kitchen of Yeahya Flavour of Asia, which inspectors concluded was covered in faecal matter.

When questioned, he said he filled the empty milk bottle with water from the kitchen taps before using it to clean his backside after going to the toilet. ‘He did not use toilet paper for cultural reasons. Inspectors concluded the brown finger prints was faecal matter.’

Chowdhury prepared meat and fish curries at the takeaway, which was run out of a rented kitchen at the Nine Elms pub.

The chef, who no longer works at the takeaway, pleaded guilty to ten counts of breaching food hygiene regulations at Swindon Magistrates Court.

He was fined more than £5,000 last year for ten similar offences relating to food hygiene.

Mark Glendenning, defending, said the milk bottle was never examined and the marks could have been spices.

 

A plea for culinary modernism: Why we should love processed food

Rachel Laudan, a visiting scholar at the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin who has a doctorate in history & philosophy of science from University College, London , writes in Gastronomica, vol. 1, no. 1, Winter 2001, pp. 36-44. That modern, fast, processed food is a disaster. That, at least, is the message conveyed by newspapers and magazines, on television cooking programs, and in prizewinning cookbooks.

culinary.luddittesThe article is long and insightful, and I’ve only included a few highlights.

It is a mark of sophistication to bemoan the steel roller mill and supermarket bread while yearning for stone­ ground flour and brick ovens; to seek out heirloom apples and pumpkins while despising modern tomatoes and hybrid corn; to be hostile to agronomists who develop high-yielding modern crops and to home economists who invent new recipes for General Mills.

We hover between ridicule and shame when we remember how our mothers and grand­mothers enthusiastically embraced canned and frozen foods. We nod in agreement when the waiter proclaims that the restaurant showcases the freshest local produce. We shun Wonder Bread and Coca-Cola. Above all, we loathe the great culminating symbol of Culinary Modernism, McDonald’s — modern, fast, homogenous, and international.

Culinary Luddism involves more than just taste. Since the days of the counterculture, it has also presented itself as a moral and political crusade. Now in Boston, the Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust works to provide “a scientific basis for the preservation and revitalization of traditional diets.

As an historian I cannot accept the account of the past implied by Culinary Luddism, a past sharply divided between good and bad, between the sunny rural days of yore and the gray industrial present. My enthusiasm for Luddite kitchen wisdom does not carry over to their history, any more than my response to a stirring political speech inclines me to accept the orator as scholar.

That food should be fresh and natural has become an article of faith. It comes as something of a shock to realize that this is a latter-day creed. For our ancestors, natural was something quite nasty. Natural often tasted bad.

Fresh meat was rank and tough; fresh milk warm and unmistakably a bodily excretion; fresh fruits (dates and grapes being rare exceptions outside the tropics) were inedibly sour, fresh vegetables bitter. Even today, natural can be a shock when we actually encounter it. When Jacques Pepin offered free-­range chickens to friends, they found “the flesh tough and the flavor too strong,” prompting him to wonder whether they would really like things the way they naturally used to be. Natural was unreliable. Fresh fish began to stink. Fresh milk soured, eggs went rotten.

Everywhere seasons of plenty were followed by seasons of hunger when the days were short. The weather turned cold, or the rain did not fall. Hens stopped laying eggs, cows went dry, fruits and vegetables were not to be found, fish could not be caught in the stormy seas.

Tequila? Promoted as the national drink of Mexico during the 1930s by the Mexican film industry. Indian tandoori chicken? The brain­child of Hindu Punjabis who survived by selling chicken cooked in a Muslim-style tandoor oven when they fled Pakistan for Delhi during the Partition of India. The soy sauce, steamed white rice, sushi, and tempura of Japan? Commonly eaten only after the middle of the nineteenth century.

The lomilomi salmon, salted salmon rubbed with chopped tomatoes and spring onions that is a fixture in every Hawaiian luau? Not a salmon is to be found within two thousand miles of the islands, and onions and tomatoes were unknown in Hawaii until the nineteenth century. These are indisputable facts of history, though if you point them out you will be met with stares of disbelief.

What we need is an ethos that comes to terms with contemporary, industrialized food, not one that dismisses it, an ethos that opens choices for everyone, not one that closes them for many so that a few may enjoy their labor, and an ethos that does not prejudge, but decides case by case when natural is preferable to processed, fresh to preserved, old to new, slow to fast, artisanal to industrial.

Such an ethos, and not a timorous Luddism, is what will impel us to create the matchless modern cuisines appropriate to our time.

5 ways food companies can protect themselves and customers

Fritz Kriete, chair of the Food Industry Group at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, says these are five ways in which companies can protect themselves against food safety issues:risk.mgmt.cycle

  1. Put food safety first. The company culture must revolve around it.
  2. Concentrate on internal communications.
  3. Hire accredited consultants.
  4. Don’t overlook supplied products.
  5. Label clearly.

When it comes to foodborne outbreaks, it’s a matter of taking classic prevention and preparation steps. Do everything you can to keep it from happening, but be ready just in case it does.

Really? Some call it food safety culture, some call it food safety climate

The Belgians have a new name for food safety culture: it’s food safety climate.

fonzi.jump.the.sharkHuman behavior and decision-making of employees can be influenced by the food safety climate prevailing in an organization.

Four farm based and four affiliated centrally managed butcheries were screened on their food safety climate and level of implemented food safety management system, by application of self-assessment questionnaires. Besides, by product and environmental microbiological sampling, objective data on hygiene status were collected. The food safety climate was scored significantly higher in the centrally managed butcher shops compared to the independent small scale farm butcheries, mainly for the components ‘leadership’ and ‘communication’ while ‘risk awareness’ and ‘commitment’ were equally evaluated.

Food safety climate’ component ‘resources’ was perceived higher in the affiliated butchers shops, but not statistical significant. The study demonstrated that affiliated butcher shops are able to achieve a better microbiological hygiene and safety status, because both a well-elaborated food safety management system and a favorable food safety climate is present in the affiliates. While in the investigated farm butcheries, the overall lower hygiene and safety status is likely to be related to their lower food safety climate score in combination with a more basic food safety management system.

This semi-quantitative case study revealed that employees’ perception of a favorable food safety climate in combination with a fit-for-purpose food safety management system is likely to result in a good and stable microbiological output in food companies.

Interplay between food safety climate, food safety management system and microbiological hygiene in farm butcheries and affiliated butcher shops

Food Control, Available online 12 January 2016

  1. De Boeck L. Jacxsens, M. Bollaerts, M. Uyttendaele, P. Vlerick

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516300159

Chipotle makes a lot of promises

Without a whole lot of substance.

CNBC, where business analysts who look like Louis C.K. like to yell like Lewis Black, asked Chipotle executives how they will change their business after five recent outbreaks. Their answer was: food safety is really, really important to us now.1024px-Chipotle_Mexican_Grill_logo.svg

“We want to show all of our customers that the industry standards that we had been employing before — which are considered great standards — were not good enough. They were not good enough because something like this could happen,” said founder and co-CEO Steve Ells.

“I will say though, that we can assure you today that there is no E. coli in Chipotle,” Ells said. “We have thoroughly tested our food, we have thoroughly tested our surfaces and we are confident that Chipotle is a safe place to eat.” He also confirmed that the company’s new safety measures will put Chipotle well ahead of industry standards.

To find out of the company has been punished enough, Cramer spoke with Ells and co-CEO Monty Moran.

To implement a rigorous safety protocol, the executive said the company is working with a leading epidemiology team to develop new safety systems. Chipotle is widely known for its integrity in food selection and culture. Cramer asked the Chipotle leaders whether eating with integrity comes at the price of safety?

“We do not believe there is anything less safe about eating that way, and we believe that what we need to do now is put that same innovation that we put toward food with integrity and that we put toward our very special people culture — we’ve got to put that same kind of innovation into food safety now,” Moran said.

 

280 sick: Why didn’t you pay attention to food safety before selling food? Idaho Co-Op reconstructs to bounce back from Salmonella outbreak

Before the salmonella outbreak, the deli was bringing around 18 percent of the Co-Op’s business. Now, after one month of being re-opened, the deli is only selling 12 percent.

boise.co-op-300x169To be reopened in the first place, a lot had to be done.

“We added a few hand washing sinks in the deli. We had 11 of our staff serve safe certified, which is a national food safety certification that goes above and beyond the Idaho Health Department standards,” said Mo Valko, Boise Co-Op spokeswoman.

During the closure, the deli moved departments around and bought new colored cutting boards. Valko says this will help prevent cross contamination.

“In order to ensure the food they’re serving here at the Boise Co-Op is safe, employees go through a three page checklist anywhere from personal hygiene to food storage,” she said.

Returning customers believe the outbreak was a rare mistake.

“It was an unfortunate incident but my faith has not been shaken, I think it was a mistake that probably should have never happened and now that it has happened it probably never will ever, ever happen again,” said Jan Pierce, a Boise resident.

“In general, it’s such a decent place that it’s not really a huge concern. I think that sometimes people get a little over charged on things like that,” said Rita Shaw, another Boise resident.