Thermometers, cats and the UK Food Standards Agency: Piping hot for the world?

I watched our veterinarian stick a thermometer into the ass of our cat(s) the other day while they were getting vaccinated for feline immunodeficiency virus (because they’ve now become outside roaming cats).

They didn’t care.

The UK Food Standards Agency is bragging that one of its own, Steve Wearne, got elected to the Codex Alimentarius Commission as vice-chair.

That’s an impressive bureaucratic achievement.

UK Food Minister George Eustice bubbled that, “The appointment of Steve Wearne to this important leadership role is testament to the strength and reputation of the UK’s food quality and safety standards. 

“This is a great opportunity to bring the UK’s renowned expertise to the table as the committee continues to pioneer global policy for food safety – increasing consumer confidence in the food we eat around the world.”

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the FSA said: ‘Steve’s appointment is a real vote of confidence in the UK’s leadership in modern, accountable food regulation. I’m delighted that he and the FSA will be taking such a significant role in setting the standards for food globally.’

I’m not.

This is an agency that ignores science and continues to tell consumers to cook things until they are piping hot, apparently because consumers are too low on the British caste system to understand how a thermometer works.

My cats know how thermometers work.

Sensible Swedes: Court rules coop grocery chain ‘misled’ consumers by claiming organic food safer, healthier

Kavin Senapathy of the Genetic Literacy Project writes the makers of the viral 2015 “Organic Effect” video, which claimed that switching to an all organic diet can eliminate pesticides from the body, are no longer allowed to promote the video or its claims, ruled the Swedish Patent and Market Court on July 3rd following three days of hearings in mid-May.

The Coop chain of Swedish grocery stores must not use the video or make unsubstantiated claims about organic and conventional food or pay a fine of one million Swedish Krona (about $120,000 USD). The Swedish Crop Protection Association (“Svenskt Växtskydd”), a trade association of nine Swedish crop protection companies, filed the lawsuit [in 2016], citing misleading and inaccurate advertisement.

The “Organic Effect” video … totally [omits] the crucial fact that organic farming does use pesticides, albeit different than the ones used in conventional agriculture. Even though the pesticides used in organic farming tend to be naturally derived, whether a substance is synthetic or natural in origin, in and of itself, has no bearing on its toxicity or environmental impact.

Further, as Switzerland-based biologist Iida Ruishalme pointed out at her Thoughtscapism blog, the video left out information that conflicted with the video’s shaky pro-organic assertions.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis.

See the crap below.

634 sickened in national Salmonella outbreak, 2013-14, from one poultry company (Foster Farms)

In June 2012, the Oregon Health Authority and the Washington State Department of Health noted an increase in the number of Salmonella enterica serotype Heidelberg clinical isolates sharing an identical pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern. In 2004, this pattern had been linked to chicken from Foster Farms by the Washington State Department of Health; preliminary 2012 interviews with infected persons also indicated exposure to Foster Farms chicken.

In the end, at least 634 Americans were sickened with Salmonella Heidelberg, all linked to Foster Farms, from 2013-2014.

Here is the scientific write-up of that outbreak, or I’m completely wrong in my interpretation and will blame the painkillers.

Importance

This large outbreak of foodborne salmonellosis demonstrated the complexity of investigating outbreaks linked to poultry products. The outbreak also highlighted the importance of efforts to strengthen food safety policies related to Salmonella in the chicken parts and has implications for future changes within the poultry industry.

Objective

To investigate a large multistate outbreak of multidrug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections.

Design

Epidemiologic and laboratory investigations of patients infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella  Heidelburg and traceback of possible food exposures.

Setting

United States. Outbreak period was March 1, 2013 through July 11, 2014

Patients

A case was defined as illness in a person infected with a laboratory-confirmed Salmonella Heidelburg with 1 of 7 outbreak pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) Xbal pattern with illness onset from March 1, 2013 through July 11, 2014. A total of 634 case-patients were identified through passive surveillance; 200/528 (38%) were hospitalized, none died.

Results

Interviews were conducted with 435 case-patients interviewed with a focused questionnaire, 201 (74%) reported eating chicken prepared at home. Among case-patients with available brand information, 152 (87%) of 175 patients reported consuming Company A brand chicken. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing was completed on 69 clinical isolates collected from case-patients; 67% were drug resistant, including 24 isolates (35%) that were multidrug resistant. The source of Company A brand chicken consumed by case-patients was traced back to 3 California production establishments from which 6 of 7 outbreak strains were isolated.

Conclusions

Epidemiologic, laboratory, traceback, and environmental investigations conducted by local state, and federal public health and regulatory officials indicated that consumption of Company A chicken was the cause of this outbreak. The outbreak involved multiple PFGE patterns, a variety of chicken products, and 3 production establishments, suggesting a reservoir for contamination upstream from the production establishments. Sources of bacteria and genes responsible for resistance, such as farms providing birds for slaughter environmental reservoir on farms that raise chickens, might explain how multiple PFGE patterns were linked to chicken form 3 separate production establishments and many different poultry products.

National outbreak of multidrug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to a single poultry company

PLoS ONE, 11(9), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162369

http://forum.efeedlink.com/contents/07-05-2017/976bf575-6e5a-4067-a763-0598a663f48d-c784.html

 

British Columbia oysters and norovirus: Another fairytale, as hundreds of cases in months with an “r”

Researchers at the BC Centre for Disease Control report in the British Medical Journal that between November 2016 and March 2017 more than 400 individuals across Canada developed norovirus gastroenteritis associated with the consumption of BC oysters. Over 100 cases occurred mid-November in participants at a Tofino oyster festival. Six cases occurred in persons attending a December oyster barbecue in Victoria. By March over 300 additional cases of norovirus linked to cultivated BC oysters harvested from multiple sites on both the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island were identified in BC, Alberta, and Ontario consumers. 

Norovirus is a highly infectious cause of gastroenteritis typically spread from person to person and is associated with regular community outbreaks in schools, hospitals, day cares, and care facilities. Foodborne outbreaks of norovirus are often linked to ill food handlers. In this recent outbreak, oysters were contaminated in the marine environment where they were farmed. The trace-back of oysters consumed by infected individuals led to the closure of 13 geographically dispersed marine farms in BC and to extensive public outreach.

Genotypic analysis of norovirus isolated from the cases included several variants of genogroup I (GI) early in the outbreak and both genogroups GI and GII later in the outbreak. 

Both GI and GII norovirus were detected in oysters from shellfish farms. This suggests that oysters bind and act as a reservoir for community outbreak strains and disseminate those strains to consumers.[1

Although sewage is often the cause of oyster contamination it remains unclear whether one or many sewage sources contributed to the contamination of shellfish farms. The 2016–17 outbreak was preceded by a wet fall and accompanied an unseasonably cold winter. Wet, cold, and dark winters enhance norovirus survival, allowing for longer retention in ocean sediments and in oysters.[2,3] The infective dose of norovirus is estimated as few as 18 particles.[2] Given the low infective dose and the viability of norovirus in cold water, we postulate that sewage spread by ocean currents may have contaminated geographically dispersed farms. Among potential sources under investigation are sewer overflows, metropolitan and local wastewater treatment plants, municipal raw sewage discharge, and commercial fishing vessels. The BCCDC is leading a collaborative group reviewing pollution sources discharging to BC marine environments that may have contaminated BC oysters. 

In this outbreak, both raw and cooked oysters led to illness; oysters were likely insufficiently cooked to inactivate norovirus. In addition to norovirus, pathogens like Vibrio sp., Salmonella sp., and hepatitis A can be transmitted to oyster consumers; cooking oysters to an internal temperature of 90 °C for at least 90 seconds will reduce this risk. The “rule” that shellfish is safe to eat in months with an “r” (September to April) is false. First, bacteria and viruses persist in cold seawater. Second, marine biotoxins (saxitoxin and domoic acid that cause paralytic and amnesic shellfish poisoning) occur year round. 

Physicians and laboratories play an important role in controlling foodborne disease. In this outbreak, trace-back of oysters linked to cases was used to close shellfish farms. If you see patients with acute gastroenteritis who recently consumed shellfish, inform your local public health office and submit stool samples for testing.[4]

BC oysters and norovirus: Hundreds of cases in months with an “r”

BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 6, July, August 2017, page(s) 326,327

BC Centre for Disease Control

Lorraine McIntyre, MSc, Eleni Galanis, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Natalie Prystajecky, PhD, Tom Kosatsky, MD

http://www.bcmj.org/bc-centre-disease-control/bc-oysters-and-norovirus-hundreds-cases-months-%E2%80%9Cr%E2%80%9D

Poison customers, it’s good for business: Burger row hits the grills in New Zealand; try a thermometer

New Zealand’s oldest licensed premises has pulled a burger that’s been the cornerstone of its menu – blaming it on bureaucratic red tape gone mad.

Dan Fraser, executive chef at the Duke of Marlborough restaurant in the Bay of Islands, was left stewing after a visit from a Ministry of Primary Industries inspector on Thursday. 

Nicole Lawton of The Sunday Star Times reports new food preparation guidelines from MPI state minced meat and liver needs to be cooked at high temperatures for a longer amount of time than previously, to avoid contamination. 

Fraser said the new rules were a raw deal and will now prevent him serving his signature burger The Governor’s Burger which is pink and juicy in the middle. 

The Governor’s Burger features bacon, cheese, pickle, tomato, chipotle mayonnaise and a medium rare beef mince patty.

“It’s a really good burger, we really pride ourselves in presenting it to our customers,” Fraser said.

“Basically, the ministry is telling us how our customers need to eat their food.”

MPI food and beverage manager Sally Johnston, said the new rules didn’t entirely ban medium-rare meat – but chefs would have to change how they cooked it.

“If they do want to serve a medium-rare burger, it is possible, it just might take a little more forethought and planning,” Johnston said.

“It is possible to cook a medium-rare burger safely, it just means that they need to think about the processes that they are using to do that. It might not be necessarily possible to do that on a BBQ or grill.”

She suggest sous vide methods of cooking instead – what people used to call boil-in-the-bag.

“Who the f*** wants a sous vide burger?”, Fraser said.

The new rules state meat should have an internal minimum temperature of 65°C for 15 minutes while cooked, 70°C for three minutes, or 75°C for 30 seconds.

But Fraser said those were rules drawn up by a bureaucrat and not a chef. They meant a beef mince patty would always be “rubbery and devoid of flavour”.

Johnston insists the new rules are necessary. “People have died from under cooked burgers, there is a genuine food safety risk here, we’re not doing this to take the fun out of food. Bugs that have caused people to die (such as E. coli) are frequently found in New Zealand meat.”

The new MPI guidelines detail how restaurants and food businesses should prepare, store and serve their food, and supplement the 2014 Food Act. 

Top chef Ray McVinnie told Stuff NZ that serving a medium-rare burger is “dangerous and dumb” and that any chef who complains about such regulations does not understand basic food safety.

Yesterday, the Ministry for Primary Industries decided they will be talking to chefs about ways they can serve medium rare burgers and still keep food safe for consumers.

“We’re happy to work with chefs wanting to develop a custom Food Control Plan that covers their specific menu items. It might need different methods of sourcing, storing, and handling meat to make sure consumers are still protected.”

The move by MPI to regulate chefs’ kitchens brought howls of outrage and ridicule from those interviewed by the NZ Herald.

Labour’s Damien O’Connor said it was “ridiculous overkill”.

“We’ve got strict controls on how you kill and process meat. To then look at the cooking of it is nanny-state gone mad.

Northland MP Winston Peters, who has eaten at the Duke of Marlborough often over the years, said “paternalistic bureaucrats” were killing New Zealand businesses.

Sick customers ruin biz.

I look forward to the microbiologically-based arguments the talking heads will bring to the public discussion.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

Ideas, not geography or institutes, make for public advances

When you haven’t seen a prof dude for 25 years, and then he’s being featured in the N.Y. Times as “The man who helped turn Toronto into a high-tech hotbed,” it’s time for a reality check.

The webs we spin over time.

I was a lousy grad student.

Not the PhD one but the eventually aborted MS one.

I spent hours staring through a microscope – sometimes the electronic kind – at tomato cells artificially infected with a fungus called Verticillium.

I spent months trying to extract and sequence DNA from this slimy fungus.

After 2.5 years, I quit.

I became newspaper dude – that’s right kids, in my day, newspapers existed, and we even started our own paper using a Mac SE and a program called PageMaker.

That was 1988.

It was all because of a girl.

Now, I’ve been to Kansas and Brisbane.

All because of another girl.

But after working for a year at a computer trade magazine in Toronto, I landed a job at the University of Waterloo in Jan. 1990, with an Ontario Centre of Excellence.

I had ideas to try out with my science, computing and journalism experience, and the powers that be said sure, play along.

Within a couple of years, I got tired of writing about other people’s science, and wanted to write about my own science, which led to be starting a PhD at the University of Guelph in the fall of 1992.

But there was this prof at the University of Toronto who I helped promote – specifically his artificial intelligence course, which I sat through a couple of times because it was fascinating – and at one point he said to me: all this targeted research money, and all these oversight committees with their expenses, just get rid of them all and give profs some basic funding and see what happens.

I sorta agreed.

I knew my job was BS, that could be exterminated when the next provincial government came around, and when chatting with Dr. Hinton, he made a lot of sense.

So I soon quit, went and got a PhD, and got to write about what I wanted.

And then Dr. Hinton shows up in the N.Y. Times.

Craig S Smith writes as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, Geoffrey Everest Hinton thought a lot about the brain. He wanted to better understand how it worked but was frustrated that no field of study — from physiology and psychology to physics and chemistry — offered real answers.

So he set about building his own computer models to mimic the brain’s process.

“People just thought I was crazy,” said Dr. Hinton, now 69, a Google fellow who is also a professor emeritus of computer science at the University of Toronto.

He wasn’t. He became one of the world’s foremost authorities on artificial intelligence, designing software that imitates how the brain is believed to work. At the same time, Dr. Hinton, who left academia in the United States in part as a personal protest against military funding of research, has helped make Canada a high-tech hotbed.

Dictate a text on your smartphone, search for a photo on Google or, in the not too distant future, ride in a self-driving car, and you will be using technology based partly on Dr. Hinton’s ideas.

His impact on artificial intelligence research has been so deep that some people in the field talk about the “six degrees of Geoffrey Hinton” the way college students once referred to Kevin Bacon’s uncanny connections to so many Hollywood movies.

Dr. Hinton’s students and associates are now leading lights of artificial intelligence research at Apple, Facebook, Google and Uber, and run artificial intelligence programs at the University of Montreal and OpenAI, a nonprofit research company.

“Geoff, at a time when A.I. was in the wilderness, toiled away at building the field and because of his personality, attracted people who then dispersed,” said Ilse Treurnicht, chief executive of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, an innovation center that will soon house the Vector Institute, Toronto’s new public-private artificial intelligence research institute, where Dr. Hinton will be chief scientific adviser.

Dr. Hinton also recently set up a Toronto branch of Google Brain, the company’s artificial intelligence research project. His tiny office there is not the grand space filled with gadgets and awards that one might expect for a man at the leading edge of the most transformative field of science today. There isn’t even a chair. Because of damaged vertebrae, he stands up to work and lies down to ride in a car, stretched out on the back seat.

“I sat down in 2005,” said Dr. Hinton, a tall man, with uncombed silvering hair and hooded eyes the color of the North Sea.

Dr. Hinton started out under a constellation of brilliant scientific stars. He was born in Britain and grew up in Bristol, where his father was a professor of entomology and an authority on beetles. He is the great-great-grandson of George Boole, the father of Boolean logic.

His middle name comes from another illustrious relative, George Everest, who surveyed India and made it possible to calculate the height of the world’s tallest mountain that now bears his name.

Dr. Hinton followed the family tradition by going to Cambridge in the late 1960s. But by the time he finished his undergraduate degree, he realized that no one had a clue how people think.

“I got fed up with academia and decided I would rather be a carpenter,” he recalled with evident delight, standing at a high table in Google’s white-on-white cafe here. He was 22 and lasted a year in the trade, although carpentry remains his hobby today.

When artificial intelligence coalesced into a field of study from the fog of information science after World War II, scientists first thought that they could simulate a brain by building neural networks assembled from vast arrays of switches, which would mimic synapses.

But the approach fell out of favor because computers were not powerful enough then to produce meaningful results. Artificial intelligence research turned instead to using logic to solve problems.

As he was having second thoughts about his carpentry skills, Dr. Hinton heard about an artificial intelligence program at the University of Edinburgh and moved there in 1972 to pursue a Ph.D. His adviser favored the logic-based approach, but Dr. Hinton focused on artificial neural networks, which he thought were a better model to simulate human thought.

His study didn’t make him very employable in Britain, though. So, Ph.D. in hand, he turned to the United States to work as a postdoctoral researcher in San Diego with a group of cognitive psychologists who were also interested in neural networks.

They were soon making significant headway.

They began working with a formula called the back propagation algorithm, originally described in a 1974 Harvard Ph.D. thesis by Paul J. Werbos. That algorithm allowed neural networks to learn over time and has since become the workhorse of deep learning, the term now used to describe artificial intelligence based on those networks.

Dr. Hinton moved in 1982 to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as a professor, where his work with the algorithm and neural networks allowed computers to produce some “interesting internal representations,” as he put it.

Here’s an example of how the brain produces an internal representation. When you look at a cat — for some reason cats are a favorite subject of artificial intelligence research — light waves bouncing off it hit your retina, which converts the light into electrical impulses that travel along the optic nerve to the brain. Those impulses, of course, look nothing like a cat. The brain, however, reconstitutes those impulses into an internal representation of the cat, and if you close your eyes, you can see it in your mind.

By 2012, computers had become fast enough to allow him and his researchers to create those internal representations as well as reproduce speech patterns that are part of the translation applications we all use today.

He formed a company specializing in speech and photo recognition with two of his students at the University of Toronto. Google bought the business, so Dr. Hinton joined Google half time and continues to work there on creating artificial neural networks.

The deal made Dr. Hinton a wealthy man.

Now he is turning his attention to health care, thinking that artificial intelligence technology could be harnessed to scan lesions for cancer. The combination of the Vector Institute, a surrounding cluster of hospitals and government support, he added, makes Toronto “one of the best places in the world to do it.”

Toronto is not Silicon Valley north.

You got where you are because of your ideas, not geography.

 

Barf’s Up: Brisbane seafood restaurant fined $37,000 after raw-egg aioli sickens 29

For casual-corporate barf, nothing beats the South Bank Surf Club.

The South Bank Parklands, which were established on the former site of World Expo 88, are one of Brisbane’s most popular tourist attractions.

Approximately 11,000,000 people visit the South Bank Parklands each year.

On Sept. 23, 2015, Brisbane’s South Bank Surf Club allegedly made up a large batch of raw-egg-based aioli sauce and served it for seven days.

At least 29 diners were sickened.

At the time, the manager of the club said the cause was “a bad batch of eggs’’ provided by a supplier. They said the eggs had been used in sauces served with seafood platters.

“We’ve been caught out, unfortunately. Our customers’ wellbeing is our priority and anyone with concerns can get in touch with us,” they said. “To rectify the problem, we are not making sauces in-house.’’

Guess they were too busy courting biz-cas types to worry about microbiology.

The South Bank Surf Club was fined $37,000 this week for its food-porn mistake in making aioli dip with raw eggs, then leaving the dip out on a warm counter for hours.

Lawyers for the restaurant on Thursday entered guilty pleas to 22 charges of serving unsafe food over eight days.

The charges did not arise from unhygienic practices and the company had no knowledge the food was unsafe, the court heard.

Really?

Western Australian hockey player Kelli Reilly had snacked on buffalo wings with aioli sauce with her team at the restaurant the day before they were due to play in the final of a masters competition in Brisbane.

They won gold at the tournament but soon after, Ms Reilly was hospitalised for three days and still suffers from the salmonella poisoning.

She has not been able to play hockey since and has sworn off aioli.

‘I’ve been through a lot, I’d probably not like to comment on it all because it has impacted me a lot and my family,’ she said outside court.

‘I would not wish this on anybody.’

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx.

Color sucks: Use a thermometer and stick it in for food safety

safefood Ireland has joined the UK Food Standards Agency in providing terrible advice about how to cook burgers.

A recipe for summer beef burgers (may a fine solstice greet our Northern and Southern friends) endorsed by safefood says:

“Before serving, ensure that the burgers are cooked thoroughly. Cut into them with a clean knife and check that they are piping hot all the way through, there is no pink meat remaining and that the juices run clear.”

Meanwhile, FSA issued a Safe Summer Food guide as UK picnickers head out in the sun (there’s sun in the UK?). The guidelines were in part based results of a self-reported survey, which is largely meaningless but something FSA likes to do.

The Morning Advertiser has more details on the hoops FSA seems willing to jump through to ensure the safety of rare burgers including:

  • sourcing the meat only from establishments which have specific controls in place to minimise the risk of contamination of meat intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked;
  • ensuring that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working;
  • Strict temperature control to prevent growth of any bugs and appropriate preparation and cooking procedures;
  • notifying their local authority that burgers that aren’t thoroughly cooked are being served by the business; and,
  • providing advice to consumers, for example on menus, regarding the additional risk.

The advice from these self-proclaimed science-based agencies is at odds with, uh, science.

It has been known for over two decades that color is a lousy indicator of safety in hamburger.

The latest addition to this work comes from Djimsa et al. in the Dept. of Animal Science at Oklahoma State Univ., who wrote in the Journal of Food Science earlier this year that:

Premature browning is a condition wherein ground beef exhibits a well-done appearance before reaching the USDA recommended internal cooked meat temperature of 71.1 °C; however, the mechanism is unclear.

The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the effects of packaging and temperature on metmyoglobin reducing activity (MRA) of cooked ground beef patties and (2) to assess the effects of temperature and pH on thermal stability of NADH-dependent reductase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and oxymyoglobin (OxyMb) in-vitro.

Beef patties (lean: fat = 85:15) were packaged in high-oxygen modified atmosphere (HiOX-MAP) or vacuum (VP) and cooked to either 65 or 71 °C. Internal meat color and MRA of both raw and cooked patties were determined. Purified NADH-dependent reductase and LDH were used to determine the effects of pH and temperature on enzyme activity. MRA of cooked patties was temperature and packaging dependent (P < 0.05). Vacuum packaged patties cooked to 71 °C had greater (P < 0.05) MRA than HiOX-MAP counterparts.

Thermal stability of OxyMb, NADH-dependent reductase, and LDH were different and pH-dependent. LDH was able to generate NADH at 84 °C; whereas NADH-dependent reductase was least stable to heat.

The results suggest that patties have MRA at cooking temperatures, which can influence cooked meat color.

Effects of metmyoglobin reducing activity and thermal stability of NADH-dependent reductase and lactate dehydrogenase on premature browning in ground beef

Journal of Food Science, 2017 Feb, 82(2):304-313, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13606. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28099768

Hucksterism gets richer: Amazon to buy Whole Foods in $13.4 billion deal

When you’re the second richest guy on the planet, what do you pick up when you go to the shops for a little retail therapy?

Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion (U.S.).

That’s what Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, with a personal wealth of $84.7 billion, did on Friday on his way home with some all-organic crap bread, cheese and ice cream.
I’d be more like Jimmy Buffett: “I went to Buckhead to get some ice cream and next thing I knew I was on I-75 headed for Florida.”

According to Michael J. de la Merced and Nick Wingfield of The New York Times the Amazon deal marks an ambitious push into the mammoth grocery business, an industry that in the United States accounts for around $700 to $800 billion in annual sales. Amazon is also amplifying the competition with Walmart, which has been struggling to play catch-up to the online juggernaut.

For Whole Foods, the deal represents a chance to fend off pressure from activist investors frustrated by a sluggish stock price. Whole Foods last month unveiled a sweeping overhaul of its board, replacing five directors, naming a new chairwoman and bringing in a new chief financial officer. It also laid out plans to improve operations and cut costs.

Forget all the organic, sustainable, dolphin-friendly products: Whole Foods is a cut-throat business that attracts gullible consumers to drop extra cash on food with a lot of adjectives.

A couple of centuries ago they would be called hucksters, or medicine-men.

With Amazon, Whole Foods gets a deep-pocketed owner with significant technological expertise and a willingness to invest aggressively in a quest for dominance.

Amazon has designs on expanding beyond online retail into physical stores. The company is slowly building a fleet of outlets, and much attention has been focused on its supermaket dreams. It has already made an initial push through AmazonFresh, its grocery delivery service.

The e-commerce giant has been testing a variety of other retail concepts. It has opened a convenience store that does not need cashiers, and has explored another grocery store concept that could serve walk-in customers and act as a hub for home deliveries.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, Amazon would pay $42 a share for Whole Foods, a 27 percent premium to Thursday’s closing price. After the deal was announced, shares of Amazon rose as much as 3.3 percent while other major retailers, including Target, Walmart and Costco Wholesale fell sharply.

Whole Foods, which was founded in 1978 in Austin, Tex., is best known for its organic foods. The company built its brand on healthy eating and staked its reputation on fresh, local produce, albeit with a high price tag.

But the company has increasingly faced fierce competition from rival supermarkets. National retailers like Costco, Safeway and Walmart have begun offering organic produce and kitchen staples, forcing Whole Foods to slash prices.

 

Going public: about E. coli O121 in Rogers Flour: Why a 17-day difference between feds and province?

In April 2017, health-types in Canada said E.coli O121 had sickened 26 people that was linked to Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original.

On May 26, 2017, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Ardent Mills is recalling various brands of flour and flour products due to possible E. coli O121 contamination.

On May 21, 2017 the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) alerted British Columbians after six people in B.C. were infected with the same strain of E. coli O121 between February and April, 2017.

Now, CFIA has gotten in on the act – 17 days after BCCDC –announcing on June 7, 2017 that Rogers Foods Ltd. is recalling Rogers brand All Purpose flour from the marketplace due to possible E. coli O121 contamination.

The following product has been sold from Costco warehouse locations in British Columbia.

Brand Name: Rogers, Common Name: All Purpose Flour, Size: 10 kg, Code(s) on Product: MFD 17 JAN 19 C, UPC: 0 60179 10231 8

This recall was triggered by findings by the CFIA during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products.

There have been reported illnesses that may be associated with the consumption of this product. Further lab testing is underway to confirm the link.