Make it mandatory: Voluntary restaurant inspection ratings are silly

According to new research by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), only a third (34%) of us regularly check food hygiene ratings before eating in a restaurant or takeaway. With an estimated 4.3 million meals expected to be eaten out over this festive period, FSA is urging people to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating before booking this Christmas.

respect-authorityThe research, released ahead of the expected Christmas spike in restaurant bookings, found that although food hygiene and safety were of concern for 37% of people, only 6% said that they actively consider the food hygiene rating when deciding where to eat. Other priorities included:

quality/type of food (58%)

own experience of the place (32%)

location/convenience (23%)

good service (21%)

price (20%)

appearance (20%)

recommendation (19%)

Mark O’Neill, senior advisor, local authority policy and delivery, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland said: ‘We are pleased to see that so many food businesses in Northern Ireland are already compliant with the Food Hygiene Rating Act, which came into operation in October, making it mandatory for food businesses to display their hygiene ratings. This means that around 90% of businesses should now be displaying hygiene information on a green and black sticker somewhere easy to spot outside of their premises. We expect that consumers will be pleased with this development as our recent survey showed that 95% of people in Northern Ireland believe that businesses should have to display their ratings, which now they do.

We are now urging people to look for hygiene ratings and choose restaurants which score three or above this Christmas.

Blame consumers: Hong Kong case of E. coli O157:H7

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 20) investigating a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 infection, and hence reminded the public to maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene against intestinal infections.

blame_canadaBecause in the absence of any details, it’s PR strategy to blame consumers.

The boy, aged 3 with good past health, has developed fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough and runny nose since June 10, and was admitted to a private hospital for management on June 12. He has been in a stable condition all along and was discharged on June 15.

His stool specimen tested positive for STEC O157:H7 upon laboratory testing by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

Initial enquiries revealed that the patient had no recent travel history. He had contact with animals during the incubation period, but did not consume unpasteurised milk or raw food.

Orgazmo? That a real name for olives? Different agency, same terrible approach to going public

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand says Orgazmo Smoked Foods has recalled Wood Smoked Sicilian Olives from Farmers Markets in NSW due Smoked Olivesto potential microbial contamination.

Food products contaminated with microbial pathogens may cause illness if consumed. Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice. The products can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

No idea what pathogen, no idea how it was discovered, no idea if anyone is sick, but if you’re buying olives of the Orgazmo brand, just sayin.

orgazmo

And they still know shit about food safety: Shareholders accuse Chipotle board of being too white

Early coverage out of the Chipotle shareholders’ meeting today from Virginia Chamlee of Eater, who writes, in the wake of a food safety crisis that crippled the company, Chipotle shareholders have voted in favor of shaking up the company’s board, arguing it is devoid of racial or gender diversity. The concerns were voiced at a company shareholder meeting held in Denver Wednesday morning.

token.south.park“Our basic premise is that it’s difficult to conceive of a more significant risk failure than what we’ve seen at Chipotle,” said Michael Pryce-Jones, the director of corporate governance at CtW Investment Group, who attended Wednesday’s meeting. In a phone conversation with Eater, Pryce-Jones said the company has “done a lot at the operational level, but not on the governmental side” to deal with the fallout from a string of food safety failures at Chipotle restaurants around the country last year.

The current board (which contains nine members, all of whom are white) has “all the marks of an insular board,” Pryce-Jones said, adding that the risk of a lack of diversity is group-think. “A good indication of that is a lack of accountability around their own conduct during the food safety scandal.”

CtW and other activist shareholders have recently argued that Chipotle board members failed to draw any lessons from the food safety scandal, as evidenced by the fact that no directors left the board and no new ones were appointed. “We’ve seen a stock price decline close to that of BP, after the Deepwater Horizon incident, or VW after their emissions scandals,” Pryce-Jones said. “For them not to consider board changes, shows a complete lack of awareness.”

After the meeting, CtW released a statement saying the vote “demonstrated that a significant portion of the investor base had lost faith in the credibility and competency of these board members.”

The board heard from a worker at Taylor Farms, a Chipotle distributor, that Taylor Farms workers have recently held protests at a handful of Chipotle stores, hoping to shed light on alleged safety issues at a California plant that prepares produce for the fast-casual chain.

According to those present at the meeting, Chipotle co-chief executive officer Montgomery Moran “seemed genuinely shocked” when told about the safety issues, and said he would look into them further.

I knew about the Taylor issues. So did many others. That’s why the board gets the big bucks.

But will it make fewer people barf? Chipotle hires more food safety expertise

Reuters reports that David Acheson, a former official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and David Theno, a food safety consultant and former Jack in the Box executive who is credited with fixing food safety at the fast-food chain following a deadly E. coli outbreak in the 1990s, have joined the payroll at Chipotle Mexican Grill.

chipotle.burrito.vomitThey join James Marsden, a former meat science professor at Kansas State University, and Mansour Samadpour, chief executive of IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group.

That’s a lot of egos in one sandbox.

Or as friend of the barfblog, Don Schaffner, a food science professor at Rutgers University, told Reuters,“If I had to put together a dream team to fix something, you could do a lot worse,” But, he added, “I’ve begun to wonder a little bit about too many cooks. Each of those guys is going to have a perspective on what to do to fix the problem.”

Spokesman Chris Arnold confirmed the consultants were retained last year but would not say when or detail their duties. He did say Marsden, as executive director of food safety, would have “primary responsibility for our food safety programs.”

Expanding its complement of food safety experts is part of Chipotle’s effort to rebound from a spate of disease outbreaks – including E. coli, salmonella and norovirus – last year that crushed sales, repulsed customers and slashed $6 billion off its market valuation.

“We have committed to establishing Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety, and we have assembled an extremely capable team to help us achieve that goal,” Arnold told Reuters.

chipotle_ad_2Chipotle declined to make members of the team available for interviews.

Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, said he expected the group’s focus “would likely be more on food safety preventive controls and less on food testing.”

Chipotle’s initial response emphasized testing ingredients for pathogens with the goal of stopping any source of illness from getting into its restaurants.

Acheson criticized the Chipotle for relying too heavily on that one approach. “I’m not a believer that you can test your way to safety,” he told Reuters in early December.

At the time, he said the focus should be on improving food sourcing and handling practices, including how suppliers are approved, “how they are leveraged in terms of training, storing, handling, and preparing of food.”

Arnold said Chipotle continues to work with the IEH testing firm. Its more recent changes have focused on food preparation. For instance, Chipotle said on its latest earnings call that it had started blanching bell peppers in an effort to kill germs.

family.guy.diarrheaThe chain also has cut some small suppliers. Kenter Canyon Farms said it lost business providing oregano to Chipotle through a third-party distributor.

“When that whole scandal happened with the E. coli, when they revamped their food safety. They cut ties with a lot of growers,” said Mark Lopez, sales director for the farm.

Chipotle’s Arnold said the chain would continue to support smaller farms, and has committed to spending $10 million to help them meet its standards. But he said the company has noted that it may be difficult for “some of our smaller suppliers to meet our heightened food safety standards.”

23 sick: It’s E. coli O26 at Chipotle, stock falls

I never liked Chipotle. How can that much smugness and superiority be crammed into one restaurant in Manhattan, Kansas?

chipotlawayBut when Amy was pregnant with Sorenne, she had Chipotle cravings and I would dutifully comply.

(I had a brief procedure at the hospital this a.m. that involved knocking me out, and when the nurse informed me I could go and Amy was there to pick me up, she asked if I wanted to finish my tea. I said, no, she’s here, I better go.

She said I was an obedient husband.

I said no, just learned a — little –bit over the years).

After 23 cases of what is apparently E. coli O26 linked to Chipotle restaurants led to the voluntary temporary closure of 43 of its Pacific Northwest eateries, shares in the company went down.

“We assume this outbreak is much broader than we’ve seen,” said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, Oregon‘s state health officer and epidemiologist.

JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times reports that in Oregon, health officials say they’ve identified the outbreak strain as E. coli O26, one of several types of Shiga toxin-producing bacteria that can cause severe illness. E. coli O26 was linked to an outbreak tied to raw clover sprouts that sickened 33 people who ate at Jimmy John’s restaurants in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington officials have not yet named the specific bug.

“Right now, we don’t know whether all of the cases identified are even going to turn out to be the same strain,” said Dr. Marisa D’Angeli, Washington state medical epidemiologist. Some cases may turn out to be E. coli O157:H7, a strain often associated with undercooked ground beef, while others may be E. coli O26 — or something else.

chipotleWashington state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist says more people are being tested.

Laura Ries, president of Atlanta marketing strategy firm Ries & Ries, said the decision to immediately close the 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon will help the brand in the long term. She says the chain “went above and beyond what they needed to do.

Attorney Bill Marler of Seattle law firm Marler Clark who is involved in other lawsuits against Chipotle restaurants, agreed, and says people should not assume a company that focuses on local and fresh ingredients is going to be immune from food safety issues.

But he says three cases of foodborne illness in a few months shows Chipotle is not paying attention to food safety like it should.

In September, more than 60 people who ate at Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota were sickened by Salmonella, and in August, nearly 100 customers and staff were infected by norovirus at a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley, California.

One new case was reported in Oregon on Monday, bringing the case count in the state to four people, including two who were hospitalized. There were no new cases in Washington state, where 19 have been sickened, including seven hospitalized.

“This is a refreshing company to work with,” Lindquist said. “They want to get to the bottom of this.”

Health officials suspect a produce item was to blame, such as leafy greens, tomatoes, cilantro or parsley. Beef is also associated with E. coli, which lives in the intestinal tracts of cattle. But it’s highly unlikely that all six locations failed to thoroughly cook the meat, Marler said.

Heat kills E. coli. But produce is eaten raw. If it’s contaminated, it’s difficult to clean it with water.

‘Oysters have to be alive or you’ll get food poisoning’ Porn trumps microbiology again

Everything I know about Germany I learned from South Park’s portrayal of Cartman’s mom and her involvement with scheisse porn.

I gave an invited talk in Berlin about 15 years ago; my parents advised that German’s have no sense of humor; I ignored them. I failed.

Hwan Nam-kong of Furusato, a Korean restaurant in Berlin says “The fact that Liane_Cartmanit is still alive on the plate is a sign of quality.”

World Crunch is talking about octopus moving around on the plate on its tentacles. The cook swiftly grabs it by its slimy head, pushes a skewer through the tentacles, wraps them around it – and voila, the Korean delicacy known as sannakji, served with chili sauce or a sesame oil and salt dip.

However, eating moving tentacles is not without danger: they can fix themselves to the inside of your mouth – or worse your throat – which could lead to suffocation and death. So if you order the dish in Korea make sure to chew well, advises Hwan Nam-kong. In her Berlin establishment, octopus is not served this way for the simple reason that it’s difficult to get live octopus in Germany.

She has heard that Germans believe that eating living things is a form of animal torture. “Every country has its own food culture that should be accepted by other cultures,” she says.

Koki Umesaka, a chef at Berlin’s Daruma Japanese restaurant, explains that with ikizukuri, a fish is served with its eyes, gills and mouth still moving. That’s not easy, he says. It requires a special technique, and a very sharp knife. Only very experienced chefs know how to do this, he says.

A similar side effect is attributed to another living food you can easily find in Germany – oysters. Greek mythology has it that Aphrodite, goddess of love, sprang from an oyster. Famed Italian seducer Casanova is said to have eaten oysters to maximize his staying power, according to Guillaume Boullay of the Austern Restaurant Meerweinin Hamburg.

If you eat raw oysters they have to be alive, otherwise you may get food poisoning, he says. The way to recognize a living oyster is by its shell clamped tightly shut, and the smell of fresh iodine when you pry it open with an oyster sydney.rock.oysterknife. You can also tell by the way the oyster inside moves if you touch it with the tip of the knife or squirt lemon juice on it.

I’ll continue to grill any oyster. My liver wouldn’t like Vibrio.

Denver fans say pigeon poop is ruining their football experience

Getting crapped on by a pigeon is apparently routine for Denver Broncos fans sitting in section 306 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“There were some people messing around behind me and someone grabbed my shirt,” season ticket holder Allison Harden said according to The Coloradoan. “I found out a pigeon had pooped on the back of my shirt.”

Allison and her husband, Jeff, say they saw several other people hit with the stink before and during the game. She says people sitting in the $250 seats had to use towels to cover their heads and were turning their popcorn bags into covers for their drinks. The Hardens reported the problem to stadium employees and were told it has been going on for years.

“There’s actually a plastic owl,” Jeff Harden said. “I’m sure they set that up there at one point to deter the pigeons. It’s obviously not working. It’s a health issue.

There’s people with drinks. There’s open food containers.”

General Manager of Stadium Management Company Andy Gorchov released a statement saying the safety and comfort of fans is the No. 1 priority of the stadium’s maintenance team but noted that outdoor stadiums sometimes have issues with birds. If it has been going on for years and is as bad as the fans say it is, something definitely has to be done.

Canada – it’s not even a real country anyway

Is it Canada Day or Canada Dry?

Thanks Sarah Silverman.

Canada, the summit of mediocrity, and where a Maple Leafs jersey can only be cool 15,000 miles away.

That’s Sorenne with teacher Nancy at pre-school. Nancy was born in Arnprior, raised in Pembroke that’s near Ottawa, in Canada (hello Alanis).

To my fans at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency who think my mentions of geography is derogatory and are once again dispensing crappy food safety advice for Canada Day, I have readers in 69 other countries who aren’t as self-important as Canada.

Nancy said, I don’t suppose you’d know where Pembroke is, which was the perfect launching point into a twisted tale of hallucinogens, backroads with my friend Dave and my high school sweetheart’s family cottage in nearby Barry’s Bay.

Nancy said I had an evil past.

I said I just like to tell stories.

Nancy was arranging pancakes and maple syrup for today, but they don’t let me cook – even though I volunteered – after I showed up with my own tip sensitive digital thermometer.

Canada Day – it’s not even a real country anyway. 

New CFIA head named; Will and Kate rejoice

 As Prince William and Kate entertain one of the colonies on this Canada Day (right, not exactly as shown), the former head of the Coast Guard was named to lead the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

George Da Pont, currently the executive vice-president of the agency, will become its president. Da Pont was appointed as the food inspection agency’s executive vice-president about a year ago. Before that he served in various departments in senior positions dating to the 1990s, including, among others, that of commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and assistant deputy minister in Fisheries and Oceans and Human Resources and Corporate Services.

Mary Komarynsky, currently an assistant deputy minister in Transport Canada, replaces Da Pont to become executive vice-president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Mr. Da Pont holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science and a Master of Arts degree in History, both from the University of Saskatchewan.