Hucksterism fail: Ells out as CEO at Chipotle

Joe Rubino of The Denver Post writes the man who turned a tiny burrito shop near the University of Denver into an international brand will soon be out as Chipotle Mexican Grill’s CEO.

Steve Ells, the founder of the Denver-based fast-casual chain, will leave his post as chairman and CEO to become executive chairman after a replacement has been found, the company announced Wednesday.

A committee that includes Ells and directors Ali Namvar and Robin Hickenlooper, wife of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, has been formed to find a leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise, the company said.

Whoever takes the job will be tasked with helping the chain climb out of protracted market malaise caused, in part, by outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to some of its restaurants, first in 2015, then again earlier this year

Co-CEO Monty Moran stepped down in December, leaving Ells with control of the company as it faced pressures from activist investor Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital hedge fund took a nearly 10 percent stake in September 2016. Ackman said then that he wanted improvement in Chipotle’s “operations, cost structure, management and strategy.”

Flies, raw sewage among 19 violations found at Tennessee Red Robin

Crystal Chen of News 4 Jax reports just four months after opening its doors at the Strand near the Town Center, Red Robin failed an inspection with 19 health violations.

Red Robin is known for its burgers, brews and, of course, bottomless fries.

But that wasn’t the focus during a visit from the health inspector last week. 

The restaurant was cited for six high-priority violations, including live flies found in the kitchen, food prep area and bar.

Raw sewage was found on the ground near the back door, and a stop sale was issued for potentially hazardous food like fish and milk that were at the wrong temperature.

In a second visit, two days later, the restaurant only had two violations, both regarding paperwork.

The restaurant was not shut down, and this was its first failed inspection.

Management and the company’s media relations department have not  responded to requests for comment on the inspection report.

Blaming consumers: Cruise ship edition

Jim Walker of Cruise Law News writes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there was a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Crown Princess during its recent cruise, from October 25th to November 8, 2017. The Princess cruise ship departed Quebec, Canada on October 25th for a two-week cruise to Canadian and U.S. ports. The cruise ship arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8th and will begin its Caribbean season.

According to the CDC report, 184 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastro-like symptoms which included diarrhea.  

During the period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most outbreaks on its cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, according to the CDC. Princess reported twenty-one (21) cases to the CDC during this time period.

The Crown Princess alone has suffered through six (6) norovirus outbreaks since 2010 to the present. Before the current GI outbreak, the last norovirus outbreak on the Crown Princess was from January 3 – 18, 2016 and, before that, from October 18 to November 16, 2014. Earlier, there was a norovirus and e-coli outbreak from February 5 to 12, 2014. It also experienced back-to-back norovirus outbreaks from January 29 to February 4, 2012 and February 4 to February 9, 2012.

The cruise line with the second most outbreaks is Holland America Line with 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. HAL suffered norovirus outbreaks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and two outbreaks each on the Voendam and the Noordam this year.  

So why is Princess Cruises far more prone to norovirus outbreaks than Carnival cruise lines, for example?

The cruise industry always blames the passengers for bringing the virus aboard, rather than its food handlers, or contaminated food or water. So are Princess Cruises customers the sickest and the least hygienic cruisers around? Are guests of HAL the second most unhygienic cruisers? Do they wash their hands the least of any cruisers? This seems like absurd arguments to make.

Whoever is to blame, the crew members, of course, always pay the price, by having to wipe and scrub and spray everything in sight for long 16+ hour days to try to disinfect a ship longer than three football fields.

Irrespective of the blame-game, don’t call us if you get sick on a cruise. Proving where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can’t even figure out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus, e-coli or something as exotic as Shigella sonnei or Cyclospora cayetanensis.

For example, The New Zealand Herald reports, a passenger on a cruise ship plagued with a vomiting and diarrhoea bug says he only learnt previous guests had been struck down with the same thing once they set sail.

Sydney man Walter Gibian and his wife Elisabeth left Sydney on October 30 on a 12-day Celebrity Solstice cruise travelling from Sydney to Auckland via the South Island so they could see New Zealand. Gibian had worked in New Zealand in 1980s and loved it so booked the cruise to see the East Coast.

The ship had left Melbourne when the captain announced to guests that passengers on an earlier cruise had norovirus and asked guests to take extra precautions including washing their hands regularly and using hand sanitiser.

any notification before they left and by this time it was too late to do anything about it as they were well on their way to New Zealand.

“It think people should be told and given the option that if you don’t like being exposed to this virus you are allowed to get off. But we found out when we were sea.”

Halfway into the 12-day cruise passengers started falling ill and Elisabeth came down with the bug on Saturday night. She was then isolated to her cabin for 48 hours.

“They (passengers) are sick all right. But of course the ship won’t tell us how many are sick, but my wife got sick on Saturday night. They are taking all sorts of precautions but it is still happening. They keep telling me, they are doing their utmost and they are doing their best but the fact is it is not effective.”

Blame the consumer: India-style

Sindhu Bhattacharya of First Post reports the Indian Railways has blamed the passengers of Tejas Express for falling sick after eating food served on board.

Yes, without batting an eyelid, the world’s largest transporter has thought it fit to shrug off the embarrassment of having two dozen passengers down with food poisoning by conveniently saying their own doings – and the food that they were carrying – is to blame for the fiasco.

According to media reports, some of which quote a report by a three-member Central Railway Enquiry Committee, some children vomiting inside one coach could also be the culprits. Though how would 24 passengers suffer food poisoning if some kids threw up, remains a mystery.

Specially, since the kids who threw up were all in one coach, according to an IRCTC official we spoke to. This official also confirmed that passengers who fell sick were in different coaches, not all were in the same coach as the kids. Besides vomiting children, the Railways also wants to pin the blame on some fish that a group of Kolkatans was reportedly carrying, which stank, lead the kids to vomit and thereby somehow induced food poisoning in two dozen passengers.

This DNApiece is headlined “Not bad eggs or other food items, Hilsa caused food poisoning on Tejas Express” and goes on to say that in the report (on the food poisoning incident), the Central Railway has asserted “there was nothing wrong with the breakfast served to passengers. It has found that smell from stale fish had caused some children to vomit, triggering a similar response from other passengers. Some were taken ill after they consumed the fish.” It is not clear if the paper was in possession of the report or the entire piece has been strung together on source-based information. It is also not clear why anyone would carry stale fish, more than a fortnight old.

The Hindusays the samples collected for testing after the food poisoning incident were all packaged food items including soup powder, cake and mango punch. “However, the Railway authorities didn’t test the sample of the omelette that reportedly had a foul smell, as per its own inquiry report.” Why the omlettes or eggs were not tested is not known. The Hindu report goes on to add from the enquiry report of the Railways that “a few passengers complained of slightly different smell from omelette served to them. Quality of omelette may be ensured while serving.”

‘Many sick’ from crypto in Norway

Thanks to our Norwegian correspondent, we now know the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was notified on September 26, 2017, of a Cryptosporidium outbreak, and after talking to the sick, they could narrow the time of infection to 14-16. September,

The Food Safety Authority believes the people were infected at the Taqueros Taco & Tequila restaurant (because when I think Norway, I think tacos and tequila, not schnapps and raw fish).

The restaurant decided to shut one day to wash the premises when they heard about the outbreak and that the infection came from them.

The source of the infection was not found, but the Norwegian Food Safety Authority emphasizes that they do not discourage people from eating at the restaurant.

Specialist warden Erik Wahl in Mattilsynet in Trondheim and surroundings said, “We have reason to believe that the infection is now gone, as no people who have become ill after September 16 have not been reported. We have no reason to discourage people to eat at this restaurant.”

 

Australia still sucks at going public: Salmonella outbreak sickened 100 in March, shows up in annual report yesterday

In early March, 2017, more than 100 people reported becoming sick after dining at Ricardo’s Cafe in Canberra.

The outbreak was briefly noted in media accounts – only because so many people took to facebook – and then disappeared from public discussion.

Until yesterday.

According to ACT Health’s annual report there was a “disturbing” salmonella outbreak linked to Ricardo’s Cafe earlier this year.

Daniella White of The Age reports Ricardo’s was listed in the ACT Health report. 

None of the food outlets have faced prosecution, but ACT Health said it would provide reports on all three cases to the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.

The biggest outbreak was associated with where 100 people reported suffering from gastroenteritis with 75 confirmed cases of Salmonella.

Of the confirmed cases 19 people were hospitalised, ACT Health said.

A second outbreak of Salmonella was also investigated about the same time with four confirmed salmonella infections from people who reported eating at Central Cafe in Gungahlin between January 30 and February 2.

Both cafes were found to have flaws in their food handling processes and procedures and forced to temporarily close.

Ricardo’s Cafe’s owner previously stated salmonella had been found on a dish cloth and tea towel in the cafe.

ACT Health said both cafes have been inspected since the outbreaks and found to be compliant.

A third Salmonella outbreak investigation was conducted in February and March, with 11 cases where people ate at the same restaurant over a five week period.

Several inspections of the premises did not identify any issues and the source of that outbreak remains unknown, ACT Health said.

It declined to identify the food outlet given it was found to be compliant and could not be held responsible for the outbreak.

An ACT Health spokesman said any foodborne outbreak was taken seriously by the Health Protection Service.

Associate professor Martyn Kirk, from ANU’s College of Health and Medicine said the food service industry had a responsibility to make sure it handled food safely and avoided high risk foods, such as raw eggs and improperly cured foods.

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

13 sick: Another Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen raw chicken thingies

Public health officials in four Canadian provinces are investigating a salmonella outbreak linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Thirteen cases have been reported, including seven in Ontario, two in Quebec, two in New Brunswick and two in Nova Scotia.

All incidents occurred between June and August and four people required hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported. 

Nice timely reporting.

A news release issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada outbreak does not link the outbreak to a particular brand.

The agency said the outbreak is a reminder that frozen raw breaded poultry products such as nuggets, strips and burgers should be handled the same as other raw poultry products.

“Follow cooking instructions carefully and verify the internal cooking temperature after cooking, as recommended, before consuming these products,” the agency said.

An internal temperature of at least 74 C (165°F) should be reached before eating such products.

The agency said frozen raw breaded chicken products may look pre-cooked, but they contain raw poultry and must be cooked correctly.

Been there, done that.

As we found back in 2007, when preparing frozen foods, adolescents are less likely than adults to wash their hands and are more susceptible to cross-contaminating raw foods while cooking.

“While half of the adults we observed washed their hands after touching raw chicken, none of the adolescents did,” said Casey Jacob, a food safety research assistant at Kansaas State. “The non-existent hand washing rate, combined with certain age-specific behaviors like hair flipping and scratching in a variety of areas, could lead directly to instances of cross-contamination compared to the adults.”

Food safety isn’t simple, and instructions for safe handling of frozen chicken entrees or strips are rarely followed by consumers despite their best intentions, said Doug Powell, K-State associate professor of food safety who led the study.

As the number and type of convenience meal solutions increases — check out the frozen food section of a local supermarket — the researchers found a need to understand how both adults and adolescents are preparing these products and what can be done to enhance the safety of frozen foods.

In 2007, K-State researchers developed a novel video capture system to observe the food preparation practices of 41 consumers – 21 primary meal preparers and 20 adolescents – in a mock domestic kitchen using frozen, uncooked, commercially available breaded chicken products. The researchers wanted to determine actual food handling behavior of these two groups in relation to safe food handling practices and instructions provided on product labels. Self-report surveys were used to determine whether differences exist between consumers’ reported food handling practices and observed behavior.

The research appeared in the November 2009 issue of the British Food Journal. In addition to Jacob and Powell, the authors were: Sarah DeDonder, K-State doctoral student in pathobiology; Brae Surgeoner, Powell’s former graduate student; Benjamin Chapman, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University and Powell’s former graduate student; and Randall Phebus, K-State professor of animal science and industry.

Beyond the discrepancy between adult and adolescent food safety practices, the researchers also found that even when provided with instructions, food preparers don’t follow them. They may not have even seen them or they assume they know what to do.

“Our results suggest that while labels might contain correct risk-reduction steps, food manufacturers have to make that information as compelling as possible or it will be ignored,” Chapman said.

They also found that observational research using discreet video recording is far more accurate than self-reported surveys. For example, while almost all of the primary meal preparers reported washing hands after every instance in which they touched raw poultry, only half were observed washing hands correctly after handling chicken products in the study.

Powell said that future work will examine the effectiveness of different food safety labels, messages and delivery mechanisms on consumer behavior in their home kitchens.

 Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820

Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.

Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.

Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

European Union takes a stand against food fraud

Anadolu Agency reports

The European Union said it will take more measures against food fraud cases after a contaminated eggs scandal touched 24 out of 28 member states this year.
“Misdoings and fraudulent practices of a few should not have such devastating effects,” EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement after the high-level meeting in Brussels.
The commissioner said the bloc will improve “risk communication” between the member states to make sure the general public learns about such incidents in a “more coherent and swift way.”
He warned that a lack of transparency could “eventually lead to destruction of trust in particular [of the] food industry,” Andriukaitis added. The European Commission is planning to present more proposals to an upcoming the Council of the EU meeting on Oct. 9-10. The measures include creating common risk assessment on incidents, stretching the rapid alert system for food and holding training and regular crisis exercises. The origin of the egg contamination was detected in poultry in the Netherlands and has led to the closure of 200 farms in the country. Since July 20, millions of eggs have been destroyed or taken off supermarket shelves across Europe amid fears they had been contaminated with fipronil, used in insecticide

31 sickened by E. coli O55 in Dorset: Almost 4 years later, health-types’ report is public

In Dec. 2014, an outbreak of E. coli O55 was identified in Dorset, UK with at least 31 sickened. Public Health England (PHE) and local environmental health officials investigated and found nothing, other than cats were also being affected.

There was a protracted battle between local residents affected by the outbreak, and the lack of disclosure by PHE, documented in June, 2017.

But now, the health-types have gone public, in a report in the current issue of Eurosurveillance.

The first documented British outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O55:H7 began in the county of Dorset, England, in July 2014. Since then, there have been a total of 31 cases of which 13 presented with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The outbreak strain had Shiga toxin (Stx) subtype 2a associated with an elevated risk of HUS. This strain had not previously been isolated from humans or animals in England. The only epidemiological link was living in or having close links to two areas in Dorset.

Extensive investigations included testing of animals and household pets. Control measures included extended screening, iterative interviewing and exclusion of cases and high-risk contacts. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) confirmed that all the cases were infected with similar strains. A specific source could not be identified. The combination of epidemiological investigation and WGS indicated, however, that this outbreak was possibly caused by recurrent introductions from a local endemic zoonotic source, that a highly similar endemic reservoir appears to exist in the Republic of Ireland but has not been identified elsewhere, and that a subset of cases was associated with human-to-human transmission in a nursery.

Recurrent seasonal outbreak of an emerging serotype of shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC O55:H7 STX2A) in the South West of England, July 2014 to September 2015

Eurosurveillance, vol 22, issue 36, 07 September 2017, N McFarland, N Bundle, C Jenkins, G Godbole, A Mikhail, T Dallman, C O’Connor, N McCarthy, E O’Connell, J Treacy, G Dabke, J Mapstone, Y Landy, J Moore, R Partridge, F Jorgensen, C Willis, P Mook, C Rawlings, R Acornley, C Featherstone, S Gayle, J Edge, E McNamara, J Hawker, Balasegaram, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.36.30610,

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22872

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough.

Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

Me teaching Chapman how to golf: Norovirus everywhere

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Panhellenic Council has postponed sorority recruitment due to an outbreak of norovirus-like symptoms for a “significant section of the Greek community,” according to an email sent to students Thursday.

The council said it has taken the recommendation of Campus Health and the Orange County Health Department to cancel at least Thursday and Friday’s planned events.

“Please go to Campus Health immediately if you are showing any symptoms,” the Panhellenic Council said in an email.

In Australia as we welcomed the first day of spring, hundreds of people have been struck down by gastroenteritis with New South Wales Health urging affected people to stay home and follow medical advice.

There were 39 gastro outbreaks in NSW institutions between August 20 and 26, including 22 in childcare centres, 10 in aged-care homes, five in hospitals and two in schools.

NSW Health said at least 348 people were affected by the bug in these outbreaks, which is more than double the previous five-year weekly average number of outbreaks for August.

And the bug finally has a name.

Director Communicable Diseases, NSW Health, Vicky Sheppeard said it appeared the outbreaks were caused by viral gastroenteritis including rotavirus and norovirus which spread easily.

“If your work involves handling food or looking after children, the elderly or patients, do not return to work until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

“The best defence against gastroenteritis is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handling and eating food, and after using the toilet, changing nappies or assisting someone who has diarrhoea or vomiting.”

10 seconds? In the U.S. it’s 20. How can all these scientists come up with different recommendations when looking at the same data. Values. And I agree with 10.

Winter has been a bad season for gastro in Australia; 1900 people attended NSW emergency departments with the bug in early August.

Brisbane has also been affected by an outbreak, with 51 childcare centres hit in the eight weeks to August 14.

NSW Health said all children should receive the rotavirus vaccine for free as part of the National Immunisation Program.

These figure come after NSW Health data showed there were 35,670 confirmed flu cases in NSW last month, making it the worst month on record for flu cases in NSW.

University students’ hand hygiene practice during a gastrointestinal outbreak in residence: What they say they do and what they actually do
01.sep.09
Journal of Environmental Health Sept. issue 72(2): 24-28
Brae V. Surgeoner, MS, Benjamin J. Chapman, PhD, and Douglas A. Powell, PhD
http://www.neha.org/JEH/2009_abstracts.htm#University_Students%92_Hand_Hygiene_Practice_During_a_Gastrointestinal_Outbreak_in_Residence:_What_They_Say_They_DO_and_What_They_Actually_Do 
Abstract
Published research on outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness has focused primarily on the results of epidemiological and clinical data collected postoutbreak; little research has been done on actual preventative practices during an outbreak.

In this study, the authors observed student compliance with hand hygiene recommendations at the height of a suspected norovirus outbreak in a university residence in Ontario, Canada. Data on observed practices was compared to post-outbreak self-report surveys administered to students to examine their beliefs and perceptions about hand hygiene. Observed compliance with prescribed hand hygiene recommendations occurred 17.4% of the time.

Despite knowledge of hand hygiene protocols and low compliance, 83.0% of students indicated that they practiced correct hand hygiene during the outbreak. To proactively prepare for future outbreaks, a current and thorough crisis communications and management strategy, targeted at a university student audience and supplemented with proper hand washing tools, should be enacted by residence administration.