Can consumers handle the truth (yes)? Can they handle potty-mouth (yes)? are auditors fucking robotrons when people die, from food (yes)

A subscriber from a third-party auditing company recently wrote and said I had a potty mouth.

I said get the fuck over it, nothing else seems to work, so try something different when it comes to food safety behavior.

You can go and get all hepped up on food safety culture, but it don’t translate into shit.

Night soil shit.

The kind that fertilizes all the veggies for the fancy restaurants in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and around the globe.

Gregory Bloom asks in MeatingPlace, can consumers handle the truth?

Besides the tortured writing, the answer is, duh.

For the past 25 years, all I’ve heard is we can’t adopt new technology because consumers don’t want it.

Bullshit.

Consumers don’t know what they want until they are offered it.

We sorta proved that in 2000 when we offered genetically engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes for sale at a farmer’s market.

The big stores wouldn’t let us in, because they were terrified to let moms and dads know that sweet corn and potatoes was grown with pesticides.

Corporate assholes.

Which allowed the anti-GE crowd to come up with some conspiracy shit that resulted in a death-to-science banner on my lab door.

Move out of your parent’s basement, get a life.

Bruce Cran of the Consumers Association of Canada told CTV News the federal government has done “an incompetent job” informing Canadians that irradiation is safe and he worries that a lack of action could lead to a deadly outbreak.

“They need to promote an understanding so Canadians can make an informed choice, and they’re not doing that for whatever reason,” Cran said. “This is not only a safe practice, it’s one that many of us would like to be able to use.”

“Our members would absolutely support it,” said Robin Horel, president of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.

“But we haven’t pushed hard because … the companies that produce chicken and turkey are concerned about what the consumer response would be.”

It’s called leadership.

Yes, leaders get some arrows in the back, but it’s been decades, either get behind science or suffer down the road.

My cousin the asparagus farmer bills his crop as genetically-engineered free. But anyone in the know knows that asparagus has been bred using multiple techniques over the years so it is absolutely genetically modified.

I asked him once if a fungal resistant GE asparagus came along, would he plant it.

He shrugged.

I have full respect for any farmer that can make a living doing whatever, getting gullible consumers to buy whatever.

There is a long history of food fairy tales, most famously linked to Dr. Kellogg in Michigan.

Anna Madison, a spokeswoman for Health Canada, said in an email the federal government would not promote irradiation since it does not engage in promotional activities.

Bullshit.

Health Canada promotes all kinds of bad food safety advice, from handwashing to thermometer use.

Rick Holley, professor emeritus of food microbiology and food safety at University of Manitoba, says irradiation is safe and is even more important for chicken than for ground beef. Chicken causes more illness in Canada, he said.

Holley said salmonella is naturally present on a lot of chicken and the gastro-intestinal bacteria campylobactor is present on all of it, regardless of whether a bird is free-range or factory.

“Both of these organisms occasionally kill, but because they make more people ill who recover, then the emphasis is not placed on them to the same extent as E. coli O157 in hamburger,” said Holley, who suggested that irradiating chicken could cut food-related illness in Canada by 25 per cent.

(Like my The Who T-shirt?)

 

Kelly oysters brand Gigas Oysters recalled due to domoic acid

One of the first science columns I ever wrote for a newspaper 36-years ago was about domoic acid in shellfish.

Everything old is new again.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency DOM International Limited is recalling Kelly Oysters brand Gigas Oysters from the marketplace due to marine biotoxin which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning. Consumers should not consume and retailers, hotels, restaurants and institutions should not sell, serve or use the recalled product described below.

This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

This is what creativity looks like at its ugly peak (even though this was filmed with makeup and tricks 7 years after being written, it’s still the best vid)

Dinner is off at Heston’s as food bug shuts him down…again

If I go to Coles I have to look at Curtis Stone; if I go to Woolworths, I have to look at Jamie Oliver; if I turn on Australian TV, I get Heston Blumenthal.

I’m not sure why Australians are so insecure they need celebrity endorsements for cooking — leave that to Americans.

But they endure, and cash cheques, even with questionable food safety.

In Jan. 2009, the beginnings of the world’s largest known restaurant-based Norovirus heston_blumenthaloutbreak began to take hold in Heston Blumenthal’s fancy pants Fat Duck restaurant.

A report in Epidemiology and Infection concluded that 591 people were sickened, the restaurant failed to notify public health types as dozens of complaints poured in, hired its own food safety consultant, did a deep clean, and then temporarily closed.

Six of 63 staff members tested positive for norovirus (44 were tested).

Now, Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant Dinner, which has two Michelin stars, was closed last night after an outbreak of Norovirus.

The Daily Mail says the celebrity chef acted with decisive speed to shut the gourmet London restaurant’s doors for a week after a number of customers fell ill.

The establishment on Hyde Park – which specialises in historical English food – opened to universal acclaim in 2011, and was fully booked for months.

Mr Blumenthal, who was criticised for reacting too slowly when his flagship restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, was hit by a worse outbreak, said the temporary closure of Dinner might seem ‘rather extreme and over cautious’.

But he added: ‘My goal has always been to pursue perfection in the kitchen and to amaze our guests with taste sensations beyond their imagination, rather than expose them to the risk of a really nasty couple of days of heaving.’

The chef, famous for his experimental cooking, said the problem came to light two weeks ago when a guest reported feeling unwell with symptoms consistent with the norovirus winter vomiting bug.

The restaurant, in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, immediately called in Westminster Council environmental health officers and nine further reports of illness were celebrity_chefs(5)recorded.

Mr Blumenthal, whose restaurant caters for about 1,000 people a week and where a meal for two can cost £190, said the complaints peaked after a couple of days and tests made by Westminster officials came back negative.

But a new set of test results came in on Friday confirming norovirus in three staff members and two guests. Mr Blumenthal told The Mail on Sunday: “I therefore decided to close the restaurant.

“I personally have the experience and knowledge about this winter bug and how to contain it immediately.

“We are in a unique position of having an insight into the behavior of this bug and I will always err on the side of extreme caution. As The Who sang: “I won’t get fooled again”.’

You did, by having three staff working sick. And don’t denigrate The Who like that.

See me smell me taste me; faith-based food safety in Malaysia

In the wake of four Salmonella deaths and multiple illnesses at a wedding, 36 sick kids at one school from canteen food and 25 at another, a prominent physician told Malaysia’s New Straits Times consumers could protect themselves against food poisoning by sight, smell and taste.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM) vice-president Dr Othman Warijo said the three steps were part of a imagescampaign by the Health Ministry and were crucial to avoid food poisoning.

“Despite appearing simple, the steps are worth doing to avoid food poisoning, which can result in death,” he said on Friday.

He said victims of food poisoning often blamed food handlers when they themselves ignored safety procedures before eating.

“Look at the physical appearance of the food to find out if the gravy has become sticky. Sniff the food to determine if it is rotten. Taste the food. If one is confident that the food is edible, then one can proceed. Otherwise, leave it.”

He added food handlers must ensure adequate storage and cooking facilities to ensure that raw materials were not contaminated and have basic knowledge in food preparation, be properly attired with their head and mouth covered, use aprons and gloves, and undergo compulsory typhoid injections.

In the Salmonella deaths, Kedah Health Department director Dr Ismail Abu Taat confirmed that the chicken used for the ‘ayam masak merah’ dish was delivered to the host in Kampung Huma a day before the wedding reception was held. “The chicken stock was sent to the house on Friday evening but the meat was only cooked at 4pm the next day, which allowed to bacteria to breed,” he said.

Summertime Blues: lowering bacterial loads from farm-to-fork means fewer sick people

Every summer, government agencies at the local state and federal level in Western countries around the world warn consumers to be extra super-duper careful when barbecuing, because the incidence of foodborne illness, especially E. coli O157:H7, goes up in the warm summer months, and this is because consumers are doing dumb things at the grill.

I never believed it – consumers, food service workers, humans are capable of doing dumb things wherever they are cooking – but it was another standard line in the blame-the-consumer approach to food safety risk reduction.

There has been plenty of evidence over the years to show that the increase in human illnesses in summer months is strongly correlated to overall increases in E. coli O157:H7 loads in cattle in summer months.

Lower the loads, reduce the risk.

Most food safety interventions are designed to reduce or eliminate pathogen loads – to lower the number of harmful bugs from farm-to-fork. A piece of highly-contaminated meat can wreck cross-contamination havoc in a food service or home kitchen.

A new paper in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease by researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln uses models representing seasonal variation in E. coli O157:H7 loads in the farm-to-fork continuum, and concludes that summertime cooking is as risky as the rest of the year.

The authors write:

“A plausible explanation for the increase in E. coli O157:H7 illness during the summer is poor consumer storage and cooking practices associated with meals prepared and cooked outdoors (e.g., picnics and barbeques). If these practices are major contributors to human illness, then an effective mitigation strategy could be additional labeling and consumer education regarding the need to maintain meat products at temperatures sufficiently low to avoid bacterial growth during transportation to outdoor venues and to cook products to a sufficient temperature when grilling. Conversely, if summer storage and cooking practices are not responsible for a large proportion of summer illnesses, a more effective mitigation strategy would reduce the seasonal effect of E. coli O157:H7 contamination at the preharvest stage or during the production and processing of beef. …

“The seasonal change in the probability of exposure to a contaminated serving is the primary driver of the season pattern in illnesses, rather than any seasonal changes in consumer storage and handling.”

The complete abstract is below.

Determining relationships between the seasonal occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in live cattle, ground beef, and humans
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. October 2010, 7(10): 1247-1254
Michael S. Williams, James L. Withee, Eric D. Ebel, Nathan E. Bauer, Wayne D. Schlosser, William T. Disney, David R. Smith, Rodney A. Moxley
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2010.0576
Abstract
The prevalence and concentration of many foodborne pathogens exhibit seasonal patterns at different stages of the farm-to-table continuum. Escherichia coli O157:H7 is one such pathogen. While numerous studies have described the seasonal trend of E. coli O157:H7 in live cattle, ground beef, and human cases, it is difficult to relate the results from these different studies and determine the interrelationships that drive the seasonal pattern of beef-related human illnesses. This study uses a common modeling approach, which facilitates the comparisons across data sets, to relate prevalence in live cattle to raw ground beef and human illness. The results support an intuitive model where a seasonal rise of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle drives increased ground beef prevalence and a corresponding rise in the human case rate. We also demonstrate the use of these models to assess the public health impact of consumer behaviors. We present an example that suggests that the probability of illness, associated with summertime cooking and handling practices, is not substantially higher than the baseline probability associated with more conventional cooking and handling practices during the remainder of the year.