The Good, Bad, and Ugly Texas edition

An audit investigation of the Austin Public Health Department reveals inspectors napping, shopping, and taking extended breaks. Unfortunately things like this happen and without proper management and effective leadership, things like this will continue to happen.
Disappointing when the actions of a few inspectors tarnish the reputation of others who actually take pride in the work they do and have an ethical, moral backbone. When I first started as an inspector, I recall hearing a number of stories of bribery on the job and other ridiculous things. Like any profession, you have the good, bad, and ugly.

David Barer of KXAN writes
Austin Public Health’s Environmental Services Division, which conducts restaurant inspections among other duties, “wasted city resources as a result of grossly inefficient practices and procedures,” according to the audit.
Auditors also found three environmental health officers wasted time while on the city clock, and two “may have attempted to conceal their misuses on their inspection reports.”
Environmental health officers spend a majority of their time in the field with “limited oversight,” according to the report. Inspectors had no set list of daily inspections; rather, inspectors chose to inspect whichever restaurant was due, and officers were not required to notify supervisors ahead of inspections or check in before or after they were conducted, auditors found.
Investigators said they found several instances of officers saying their inspections took place at times that did not square with what the auditors observed.
According to the report, supervisors were only conducting a “supervisory audit,” which is an in-person check of an officer’s inspection, on less than two percent of inspections. Despite concerns about officers wasting time, management did not regularly review or question how time was being used in the field.
· KXAN Investigation: Restaurant inspectors weren’t meeting inspection-rate standards.
Audit office investigators followed three environmental health officers inspectors during their daily routine and found inspectors napping, shopping and exercising, according to the report.
Investigators found one environmental health officer working out at a local gym for an hour and a half to two hours on at least two separate days. She also left work an hour early on one occasion. She “also may have attempted to conceal the misuse by misrepresenting the time in and out on her written inspection reports,” the audit states.
Another employee was observed napping in her car and misrepresented the times she went in and came out of a restaurant inspection, auditors said.

The rest of the story can be found here:
http://kxan.com/2017/09/01/audit-finds-austin-restaurant-inspectors-shopping-napping-while-on-the-job/

 

Restaurant employee positive for Hepatitis A

A worker at Cliffside Bistro tested positive for Hepatitis A in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

City News reports
Toronto Public Health said Monday that anyone who recently ate at a Scarborough restaurant may have been exposed to hepatitis A.
Health officials said an employee at Cliffside Bistro at 22-77 Kingston Rd. near Midland Avenue has tested positive for the illness.
Anyone who ate at the restaurant on July 21, between July 25-29 and between Aug. 2-4 may have been exposed.

The problem with Hep A is the long incubation period and symptoms may not appear until 14-28 days after exposure.

While the risk of infections is low, Toronto Public Health says they will be holding several free hepatitis A vaccination clinics at the Scarborough Civic Centre.
The clinics are open on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hepatitis A can be spread by improper hand washing after using the washroom and the coming into contact with food. Common symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, stomach pains and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).

 

Health inspections are not easy

The field of public health inspection is not easy; it is a difficult job, yet gratifying. I remember inspecting restaurants that were notorious for non-compliance and trying to work with them to improve their food safety behaviors. I believed in quality inspections and not quantity as health inspections are essentially a snap shot in time and I wanted to make a difference.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t and it is frustrated when you feel like you haven’t made a difference. So I get the ideology of fines as a method to increase compliance.
But do fines actually work or is it the cost of doing business for some operators? What will the establishment look like in a month or two, did we influence change or not? I have done this in the past where I charged a facility for a number of significant non-conformance’s and they subsequently cleaned up, but a month later, they regressed to the same state that I initially found them. Our department did not have a risk-based approach at that time and so the operator wasn’t expecting me for another year…surprise…

It is all about behavior and behavior change.

The owner of an East Tilbury sandwich bar has been slapped with a fine of almost two-and-a-half thousand pounds.
The owner of Nancy’s Sandwich Bar has been ordered to pay £2,353 for failure to comply with food safety legislation.
Daniel Wood appeared at Basildon Magistrates on Monday July 24, 2017 and pleaded guilty to 11 food hygiene offences, following a visit by Thurrock Council’s food safety team in September last year.
Inspectors visited the premises and found a makeshift kitchen had been set up in a room previously used for storage without consideration to food hygiene or public safety.
As a result, the food outlet was rated with a ‘1’ on the Food Standards Agency’s food hygiene rating scheme.
But the owner has since made improvements and the bar’s rating has gone up to ‘4’.
The bar was fined £1,230 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and £123 victim surcharge.
Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Sue MacPherson said: “During the visit, the premises and equipment were found in a filthy condition, but I am pleased to see that improvements have since been made.”

 

Vaccines work: 18 sick with hep A linked to award-winning bakery in Scotland

Malcolm Gladwell — a poor imitator of Lyle Lovett hair — cites research in his 2008 book, Outliers, that says the difference between good and great is about 10,000 hours of practice.

That’s what it takes to adjust the brain wiring: from pianist to poet, Beatle to Stone, haberdasher to hockey player, from good to great.

I’m not going to take up the academic and practical concerns with this simplification that gets used as mantra.

Biology is always messier.

Hockey camp at the beach over the weekend with 36 kids was great for the exercise, the repetition, and the bonding that lasts a lifetime.

So I’m always baffled when some restaurant owner who has devoted his lifetime – their 10,000 hours, to their craft — can lose it all in a microbiological minute.

Again, biology is messy.

Rachel Macpherson of The Sun reports that JB Christie has closed its Airdrie bakery in North Lanarkshire and ordered the immediate withdrawal of products after being linked to multiple cases of the potentially deadly virus.

NHS Lanarkshire announced nine patients had been treated with a further nine suspected cases of the bug.

Initial probes by health chiefs said the infection was possibly linked to the bakery, but a probe, including staff blood tests, failed to turn up any sign of the virus.

Jody Harrison of The Herald reports Andrew Chisholm, owner of JB Christie Baker’s, now intends to re-open both shops, saying that he viewed it as his “civic duty” to shut as soon as the link was made.

He said: “As a business, we have fully and voluntarily co-operated with Lanarkshire NHS and Environmental Health Officers during this process.

“As of this morning all staff at the bakery have been blood tested and have been found to be clear of the infection. Also as a precaution all have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A.

The baker said: “I have made my career in this industry and I bought the JB Christie business just over four years ago and I am proud to have done so.

Good on Chisholm for taking so-called swift action (but ‘major electrical issue,’ sorta douchebagish). Epidemiology works, so tests afterwards don’t mean much.

Neither do vaccinations.

If an owner devoted 10,000 hours to his craft to be award winning, vaccinating all employees against Hepatitis A should have been done before, not after a health risk emerged – real or not.

Pulling a Britney: Changing diapers on a cafe table is a microbiologically bad thing

Someone pulled a Britney – our term in honor of Britney Spears, who in 2006 thought it was OK to change a baby’s diaper on a restaurant table – in Brisbane and the owner wants the mom to never return.

britney-crazy-8Darren Cartwright of the Courier Mail reports a mother of a newborn baby wrote a scathing review on Google about Park Bench Espresso Bar in Bulimba for the reception she received for changing her baby in front of dining customers.

The review first praises the quality of the coffee before taking aim at owner Jocelyn Ridgway and other customers. She says her baby is 12-weeks old and that she put a mat down before changing the nappy.

“I approached her (the manager) upon leaving and asked if she had a problem with my baby and I sitting there. She said in quite a critical tone, that she didn’t think it was appropriate to change my baby there,” the review states.

“To this woman and the 2 other customers who made comments regarding this. Mothers don’t need your judgment or criticism. We have enough pressure and stress we deal with on a daily basis. We rarely get the opportunity to get out and have a coffee amidst the long list of things we are doing for our families every single day.

“I am sorry (not sorry) you are so terribly offended by a tiny baby’s tiny little dirty nappy that you think it necessary to criticise.”

Ms Ridgway told AAP the lady was at the coffee shop for two hours last Friday.

“She was there that long the baby did two poos,” Ms Ridgway said.

“There were people next to her. We had complaints from a group of older women who did not think it was that great.”

The coffee shop is an extension of Green Grass and Home Body retail store which Ms Ridgway started 15 years ago.

diaperThe al fresco area opened up in 2011 and a park, with several sheltered tables, is located directly across the road.

Since Ms Ridgway shared the review on Facebook with friends, she’s said she’s had nothing but support.

“I know in my heart that that was not cool. It’s an etiquette thing. She won’t be back as a customer, that’s fine. I can’t afford to have customers like her anyway,” she said.

Can’t we just enjoy food? Poop dessert café to open in Toronto

Torstar News Service reports Toronto is joining the (bowel) movement: a poop-themed café is coming to Koreatown.

Poop Café Dessert BarPoop Café Dessert Bar, which will be located at 706 Bloor St. W., is set to open mid-August.

“I’m trying to make poop cute,” said owner Lien Nguyen, who first came across the concept while visiting her mother in Taiwan a couple years ago.

“We checked out a toilet-themed restaurant and I just loved it. It’s funny to put food and poop together; it’s a great comparison,” she added. “It stayed in my mind for a long time. As soon as I finished school, I said, ‘OK, I’m going to bring the restaurant to Toronto.’”

The recent George Brown College graduate earned her credentials in culinary management. She plans to focus her menu around traditional Asian desserts like patbingsoo (red beans with ice) and is hoping that, through this enterprise, “people will change their minds about poo.”

“[It’s] considered very disgusting, [something] you can’t talk about when you’re eating,” she said … until now.

All of the poo-ticular items available at the café will be brown, formed like a stool and served in toilet-shaped dishes, said Nguyen, who plans to seasonally change up the menu to reflect customer feedback.

While the “latest lavatorial trend” might be new to Toronto, restaurants around the world have already embraced the bowl.

Decline of American Empire reflected in food

While guns fire, Americans pither about with Coles Notes quips of this and that food.

paris.food.pornFood was once a necessity, with presidential campaigns less than a century ago promising a chicken in every pot.

Now that the staples are readily available, eaters seek a thrill, an experience, a story, to enliven their experience.

Food pornography has never been more desired yet never more unsatisfying.

How many cooking shows are about stories rather than snobbery.

A restaurant in Modena, Italy, won the top prize Monday night as the 2016 edition of the influential World’s 50 Best Restaurants list was unveiled at a New York City gathering attended by hundreds of chefs from around the world.

That’s nice.

The Times reports that since it began in 2002, the list has proved its power, making international stars of chefs. It has become so popular (and profitable, with the opportunity for multiple sponsorships) that sub-lists — 50 Best Restaurants in Asia, 50 Best Restaurants in South America — have been established, with more to come.

This was the first time since the awards began that the event took place outside London, a move intended to highlight haute cuisine’s increasingly global and decreasingly Eurocentric focus. (Next year’s awards ceremony will be held in Melbourne, Australia.)

burnt-cooper-2.0Similarly, at a time when more chefs are interested in food policy, the environment, health and leadership, a group of them descended on the Yale campus in New Haven this week to talk about food issues.

Called the MAD Yale Leadership Summit, the gathering is an outgrowth of MAD, the Copenhagen-based nonprofit organization — spearheaded by the chef René Redzepi of Noma — that holds events around the world.

For this event, which began with a dinner June 13 but is not open to the public, chefs like Mr. Redzepi, David Chang, Kylie Kwong, Jessica Koslow, Alex Atala, April Bloomfield and Rosio Sanchez are attending lectures and salon-like discussions on topics including fermentation, law, food security, agriculture and gender.

Safety is notably absent.

Some of the happiest friends I have, as they age, return to what they love with an emphasis on basics, while continuing to explore and experiment.

They don’t care about lists, they don’t care about poses, they nurture, produce and create with experience and passion.

Many of them love food, and they don’t make people barf.

 

Lucky’s Taproom patrons aren’t so lucky; foodborne illnesses linked to Dayton restaurant

Today I talked to a restaurant operator about something they wanted to do that was risky. After talking about what could go wrong, the operator said ‘I don’t want to make people sick, I’ll figure something else out.’

Making patrons sick is bad business.6980

According to WHIO, a Dayton restaurant has closed as health officials investigate the source of illnesses.

The health department received the first report of Lucky’s patrons and employees being ill on Monday and samples have been sent to the Ohio Department of Health for testing, said Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper.

The testing will identify what specifically the people are suffering from, Cooper said.
Cooper said they are currently still collecting samples and conducting interviews, in part to determine whether there was a particular food or dish that all the sick people ate.

Drew Trick, owner of Lucky’s, confirmed this afternoon that the restaurant and bar voluntarily shut down at least through Friday while health officials test produce and other items to try to determine what caused the food-borne illness that affected both customers and employees.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure our customers are safe when we reopen,” Trick said.

“We have bleached every square inch of this establishment” and have thrown out all produce and other food items to ensure the threat is eliminated, the restaurant’s owner said.

I wonder if some of those sick employees were working while ill.

UPI gets into the Buzzfeed list business: Notable E. coli outbreaks in U.S. fast food restaurants

Most of the U.S. mainstream food safety news coming through Google Alerts over the last week has been recycled and Chipotle-related.

Much of the focus has been on the business with the same questions are being asked by many journos: Will the fast casual Mexican restaurant rebound? What will happen to their stocks? When can we eat there again? Sorta lost in the media are the stories of the folks who went to grab a lunch and ended up ill. The folks that couldn’t go to work, missed life events and may have a long recovery. The affected have been digested down to a list of numbers.Jimmy-Johns-Gourmet-sandwiches

UPI gets into the food safety list business and revisits stigma-creating events over the past 30+ years, here are some highlights:

McDonald’s (1982)
Nearly 50 people in Oregon and Michigan fell ill after eating burgers at McDonald’s. The confirmed outbreak was the first time E. coli O157:H7 was linked to food poisoning, but wouldn’t be the last time ground beef would be recalled for outbreaks of the dangerous pathogen, including Topps Meat Co. recalling nearly 22 million pounds in 2007 and Con Agra Foods pulling nearly 20 million pounds of ground beef in 2002.

Jack-in-the-Box (1993)
The 1993 Jack-in-the-Box outbreak occurred when more than 500 people became infected after eating undercooked beef patties associated with 73 restaurants in Washington, Idaho, California, and Nevada. Four children died and hundreds of customers were left with permanent injuries, including kidney damage, resulting in numerous lawsuits.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (1999)
In July of 1999, public health officials confirmed four Cincinnati-area Kentucky Fried Chickens were to blame for an outbreak of E. coli that led to 18 illnesses and at least 11 hospitalizations. Investigators identified poorly prepared coleslaw as the source of the contamination.

Sizzler (2000)
Two Sizzler restaurants in Wisconsin were responsible for 64 confirmed cases of E. coli and dozens of hospitalizations. Four patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a serious illness that can result in kidney failure. One child died. Officials linked the contamination back to watermelon, which was cross-contaminated with raw meat products. Eight years later, the family of the 3-year-old girl who died from exposure at a Sizzler restaurant reached a $13.5 million settlement with the company’s meat supplier.

Taco Bell (multiple)
In December, 2006, 71 illnesses linked to Taco Bell were reported to the CDC from five states: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina. Investigations indicated shredded lettuce was the likely source of the outbreak. Two years later, all Taco Bell restaurants in Philadelphia were temporarily closed and green onions removed from all 5,800 of its U.S. restaurants after tests indicated they were to blame for an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least five dozen people in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Jimmy John’s (multiple)
In 2013, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified nine cases of E.coli O157:H7 in the Denver area linked to the consumption of Jimmy John’s sandwiches containing cucumbers imported from Mexico. This wasn’t the first time Jimmy John’s, based in Champaign, Ill., has been linked to an outbreak. Since 2008, the sandwich chain has been cited for serving contaminated sprouts at least five times.

Show me the data: Chipotle outbreak is caused by in restaurant vegetable processing?

I don’t know about that.

But that’s amateur epidemiologist (and president of Taylor Farms Florida) Leonard Batti’s working theory on the 39 cases of E. coli O26 outbreak linked to Chipotle (via The Packer).

Leonard Batti, president of Orlando-based Taylor Farms Florida, a division of the Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Fresh Foods Inc., said changes in the foodservice industry likely contributed to the Chipotle outbreak.iWKad22

“It’s a classic example of what’s happening in foodservice today,” he said. “They made a decision a little less than a year ago to move away from fresh-cut and start cutting products in their facilities, somewhere around 1,700 restaurants.

“So basically, almost overnight, we had 1,700 new vegetable processors pop-up around the country. We’ve all been in fast-food restaurants. You never question their focus on food safety. I am not really surprised that we have what’s transpired with Chipotle.”

Uh, what? It sure seems like a supplier issue, not an on-site processing issue. But I’d like to see the data first.