Everyone’s got a camera Arkansas, edition: Clinton students say school served them raw chicken

Color is still a lousy indicator of whether food is safe, but if Clinton High School wanted to make a case, they would provide internal temperature logs.

For two days a Clinton mother says her children sent her pictures of the food being served in the school cafeteria at lunch.  She says it appears to be undercooked chicken.

“I don’t want my child sick from food poisoning,” says Kathleen Page, mother of two teens at Clinton High School.

” It was so obviously raw,” says her son, Jonathan Carter, a junior at the school.  “You could see pink in it.  I’d cut it open with my fork and it’d be more red on the inside.”

Page called the school and was transferred to the cafeteria.  “I started to ask her questions and she told me it was none of my business and hung up.”

She also called the Health Department and they told her this wasn’t the first complaint they’d gotten about the school lunches.

Clinton School District Superintendent, Andrew Vining, released a statement regarding the issue.

“The Clinton School District strives to serve our students and staff a variety of meals that are healthy, nutritious, and appealing.  The photos that have been circulated do not appear that way.  This concerns us and we have taken steps to resolve the matter to ensure our students are provided with the best meals possible.

“There were also photos that were circulated regarding apparent raw pork; to clarify, no pork was served.

“The chicken fajita meat which was pictured was Tyson, fully cooked and prepackaged.  None of our staff or students have reported becoming ill after eating chicken from our cafeteria.  In the event someone does get sick, they need to notify my office and go to their doctor to see if symptoms were due to food-borne illness.

“We regret this has happened and we will continue to put the health of our students first in all things.”

Bad advice: Cook poultry thoroughly

 

The UK Food Standards Agency advises that poultry should be cooked thoroughly by ensuring it is steaming hot all the way through….NOPE. Use a thermometer and verify that the internal temperature has reached a minimum of 74C (165F). Stop guessing.

Following an article in The Mirror (9 September) which suggests that some people believe that raw chicken dishes are safe to eat, we are reiterating our advice not to eat raw chicken.
Raw chicken is not safe to eat – it could lead to food poisoning. Chicken should always be cooked thoroughly so that it is steaming hot all the way through before serving. To check, cut into the thickest part of the meat and ensure that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
The article states that ‘if birds have been free range, kept in quality conditions, and processed in a clean environment, there’s not so much to worry about’; but this is not the case. All raw chicken is unsafe to eat, regardless of the conditions that the birds have been kept in.
Consuming raw chicken can lead to illness from campylobacter, salmonella and E coli. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. In some cases, these bugs can lead to serious conditions.

19 sickened: Temperatures matter; C. perfringens outbreak at a catered lunch Connecticut, 2016

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in September 2016, the Connecticut Department of Public Health was notified of a cluster of gastrointestinal illnesses among persons who shared a catered lunch.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health worked with the local health department to investigate the outbreak and recommend control measures. Information about symptoms and foods eaten was gathered using an online survey. A case was defined as the onset of abdominal pain or diarrhea in a lunch attendee <24 hours after the lunch. Risk ratios (RRs), 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and Fisher’s exact p-values were calculated for all food and beverages consumed. Associations of food exposures with illness were considered statistically significant at p<0.05. Among approximately 50 attendees, 30 (60%) completed the survey; 19 (63%) respondents met the case definition. The majority of commonly reported symptoms included diarrhea (17 of 18), abdominal pain (15 of 16), and headache (7 of 15).

The median interval from lunch to illness onset was 5.3 hours (range = 0.4–15.5 hours) for any symptom and 7 hours (range = 2.5–13 hours) for diarrhea. Analysis of food exposures reported by 16 ill and 10 well respondents (four respondents did not provide food exposure information) found illness to be associated with the beef dish (RR = undefined; CI = 1.06–∞; p = 0.046) (Table). All 16 ill respondents reported eating the beef. Coffee was also associated with illness; however, all 13 coffee drinkers who became ill also ate the beef. Eating cake approached significance (p = 0.051); all 10 cake eaters who became ill also ate the beef.The caterer had begun preparing all dishes the day before the lunch. Meats were partially cooked and then marinated in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, they were sautéed 2 hours before lunch. Inspection of the facility found the limited refrigerator space to be full of stacked containers that were completely filled with cooked food, disposable gloves that appeared to have been washed for reuse, and a porous wooden chopping block.

The caterer’s four food workers reported no recent illness. Stool specimens from the food workers and from four ill attendees all tested negative for norovirus, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, Salmonella, and Shigella at the Connecticut State Public Health Laboratory. All eight specimens were sent to the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory, where additional testing was available. Two specimens from food workers were positive for enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli by polymerase chain reaction, but no enterotoxigenic E. coli colonies were isolated. Seven specimens (four from food workers and three from attendees) were culture-positive for Clostridium perfringens, and specimens from all attendees contained C. perfringens enterotoxin. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of 29 C. perfringens isolates from the culture-positive specimens found no matches among attendee isolates, but demonstrated a single matching pattern between two food worker specimens. No leftover food items were available for testing.

C. perfringens, a gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium, forms spores allowing survival at normal cooking temperatures and germination during slow cooling or storage at ambient temperature (1). Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms are caused by C. perfringens enterotoxin production in the intestines. Vomiting is rare and illness is usually self-limited, although type C strains can cause necrotizing enteritis (1).

Symptoms reported were consistent with C. perfringens infection, with a predominance of diarrhea, and median diarrhea onset time was at the lower end of the typical C. perfringens incubation period (6–24 hours) (1). C. perfringens enterotoxin detection in the stool of two or more ill persons confirms C. perfringens as the outbreak etiology (2). Both C. perfringens and enterotoxigenic E. coli can colonize asymptomatic persons (3,4), which might explain the presence of these pathogens in the stools of asymptomatic food workers. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis did not identify the C. perfringens strain responsible for the outbreak, but findings add to the evidence for a wide variety of C. perfringens strains, not all producing C. perfringens enterotoxin (5).

C. perfringens outbreaks are typically associated with improper cooling or inadequate reheating of contaminated meats (1), which might have occurred with the beef dish. The restaurant was advised about the need for adequate refrigeration and best practices for cooling foods, including using stainless steel rather than plastic containers, avoiding filling containers to depths exceeding two inches, avoiding stacking containers, and ventilating hot food. Upon follow-up inspection, staff members discarded disposable gloves after one use, used only food-grade cutting boards, and maintained proper food temperatures for hot holding, cold holding, cooling, and reheating, as outlined in the Food and Drug Administration Food Code.

An estimated 1 million illnesses in the United States each year are attributable to C. perfringens, but fewer than 1,200 illnesses are reported annually with C. perfringens outbreaks (6). C. perfringens testing is not routine for foodborne outbreaks; even if testing is unavailable, C. perfringens should be considered when improper cooling, inadequate reheating, and improper temperature maintenance of meat are identified.

8 sick from campy in liver parfait at UK boutique hotel

Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that chicken liver parfait was the cause of illness at Brockley Hall Hotel in Saltburn.

However “no obvious defect was noted in the production of this food item”, therefore meaning it cannot be concluded with certainty why it caused illness.

Undercooking?

A total of eight cases were reported to PHE North-east – six of which were laboratory confirmed cases of campylobacter . The two remaining cases were “probable” reports Laura Love of Gazette Live.

Most of those who fell ill had been attending a 40th birthday celebration on Friday, July 7 – with three of them being hospitalised.

This included the birthday girl herself, who ended up in hospital on a drip.

A spokeswoman for PHE said their investigation is now complete , and that a copy of the outbreak report has been sent to Redcar and Cleveland Council.

The decision on what further action, if any, to take rests with the local authority .

Fancy food ain’t safe food: 2 sick with campy: It was the foie gras at Seattle restaurant

I always have a thermometer in my backpack.

That’s how much of a food safety nerd I am, and why I don’t get invited to dinner parties (and, I can be an asshole).

King County Public Health investigated an outbreak of Campylobacter associated with a single meal party at Café Juanita in Kirkland on June 24, 2017.

On July 24th, Public Health learned about two ill persons from a single meal party during an interview with an ill person diagnosed with Campylobacter. We were not able to confirm illness information about the second ill person until August 16th. No other ill persons have been identified.

The ill persons shared multiple food items, including foie gras. Foie gras has been linked to other Campylobacter outbreaks in the past, particularly when eaten raw or undercooked.

Public Health’s Environmental Health inspectors visited the restaurant on August 17th. During the field inspection, inspectors observed the cooking process and checked the final cooking temperature of the foie gras. Although it reached a safe temperature during the inspection, workers had not been using a thermometer. They were instructed to use a food thermometer to ensure that all foods are reaching the correct temperatures to kill harmful bacteria that may be present. The restaurant worked cooperatively with Public Health.

Inspectors made a return visit on August 22nd and reviewed sources and preparation steps of the other foods that the two cases may have also consumed.

Impossible Burger, regulatory gaps, and money. Always money

I want hamburgers temperature-verified to 160F.

Blood is a terrible indicator.

Stephanie Strom of the NY Times writes that one of the chief selling points of the Impossible Burger, a much ballyhooed plant-based burger patty, is its resemblance to meat, right down to the taste and beeflike “blood.”

Those qualities, from an ingredient produced by a genetically engineered yeast, have made the burger a darling among high-end restaurants like Momofuku Nishi in New York and Jardinière in San Francisco, and have attracted more than $250 million in investment for the company behind it, Impossible Foods.

Bill Gates is an investor.

That makes me want to run to my Mac.

The genetically engineered yeast thingy is just thrown in there to raise alarm.

My 1985 daily squash partner, Andy, was working on genetically engineered yeast for wine back in the day. Our bottling parties were legend.

Now, its secret sauce — soy leghemoglobin, a substance found in nature in the roots of soybean plants that the company makes in its laboratory — has raised regulatory questions.

Impossible Foods wants the Food and Drug Administration to confirm that the ingredient is safe to eat. But the agency has expressed concern that it has never been consumed by humans and may be an allergen, according to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the ETC Group as well as other environmental and consumer organizations and shared with The New York Times.

“F.D.A. believes the arguments presented, individually and collectively, do not establish the safety of soy leghemoglobin for consumption,” agency officials wrote in a memo they prepared for a phone conversation with the company on Aug. 3, 2015, “nor do they point to a general recognition of safety.”

Impossible Foods can still sell its burger despite the F.D.A. findings, which did not conclude soy leghemoglobin was unsafe. The company plans to resubmit its petition to the agency.

Impossible Foods is finding out what happens when a fast-moving venture capital business runs headlong into the staid world of government regulation.

In the case of Impossible Foods, the debate centers on its use of soy leghemoglobin, which the company’s engineered yeast produces and forms an important ingredient behind the business.

The company was started in 2011 by Pat Brown, a chemist at Stanford University. His approach, involving genetics, microbiology and cutting-edge chemistry attracted venture capitalists also eager to find plant-and lab-based replacements for hamburgers and chicken wings.

Impossible Foods sought to woo top chefs with a splashy sales pitch about how the burger mimicked the aroma, attributes and taste of real beef. When soy leghemoglobin breaks down, it releases a protein known as heme, giving it that meatlike texture.

Within three years of its founding, Impossible Foods landed big-name investors like Khosla, Mr. Gates and the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing. This month, Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, joined an investment round that added $75 million to the company’s coffers.

“I love V.C.s and particularly the ones that invested in us,” Mr. Brown said at a TechCrunch conference in May, referring to venture capital firms. “But it’s truly astonishing how little diligence they do in terms of the actual science that underlies some tech companies.”

The F.D.A.’s approval is not required for new ingredients. Companies can hire consultants to run tests, and they have no obligation to inform the agency of their findings, a process known as self-affirmation.

Impossible Foods adhered to that procedure, concluding in 2014 that soy leghemoglobin was safe. But it went further, seeking the regulator’s imprimatur.

“We respect the role the F.D.A. plays in ensuring the safety of our food supply, and we believe the public wants and deserves transparency and access to any information they need to decide for themselves whether any food they might eat is safe and wholesome,” Rachel Konrad, a spokeswoman for Impossible Foods, wrote in an email.

The F.D.A., however, wanted the company to show the ingredient was safe specifically for humans. It told Impossible Foods to establish the safety of the more than 40 other proteins that make up part of its soy leghemoglobin. F.D.A. officials said the company’s assessment of the potential for the ingredient to be an allergen was deficient.

“This product has been touted as the ‘secret sauce’ in the Impossible Burger,” said Jim Thomas, program director at the ETC Group, the Canadian environmental organization that started the Freedom of Information request. “Now we know that the F.D.A. had questions about it, but it was put on the market anyway.”

Ms. Konrad defended the burger, writing it “is entirely safe to eat” and “fully compliant with all F.D.A. regulations.” She said the company was “taking extra steps to provide additional data to the F.D.A. beyond what’s required.”

Impossible Foods, she said, has tested its ingredient on rats fed “well above” the amount of soy leghemoglobin in its burger. Ms. Konrad said the company’s expert panel had determined those tests also demonstrated the ingredient was safe, and that the company would thus resubmit its petition for F.D.A. confirmation this month.

This is a novel food, and makes Canada’s approach to regulation of food safety sane, for a while.

Seafood safety, roses and writing

Chapman is a shitty writer.

How he got a staff member named Katrina Levine, who can write, is beyond my grasp.

But, I’m content to be amazed at the world, not think too much about it, and be grateful for the beauty in a rose or an MPH who can put a couple of sentences together.

Katrina (whom I’ve never met) writes:

I’ve never been one who likes attention, but I’ll admit that during the 15 minutes of fame that came with the publication of Evaluating Food Safety Messages in Popular Cookbooks in the British Food Journal, I got a little excited every time someone wanted to interview me. Terrified, but excited.

During the 2 week media buzz that followed the press release, I did approximately 6 interviews, one of which was for Consumer Reports. Unlike most of the interviews, which were focused on our row with Gwyneth Paltrow or how her cookbook could give you food poisoning, the nice journalist I spoke with wanted my professional opinion on how to choose and prepare seafood safely.

As I said before in an earlier barfblog post, the media attention from this paper gave us an opportunity to share what we know about safe food handling while people were listening. So when this journalist asked me to talk about seafood food safety, share I did – for about 45 minutes.

The messages I shared ranged from safe thawing methods, such as running raw seafood under cold running water, to determining doneness using a thermometer or opacity. Sari Hararr of Consumer Reports writes:

In a hurry? For safe seafood, thaw frozen fish and shellfish under cold running water in a sealed plastic bag, then cook it right afterward, says Katrina Levine, M.P.H., a registered dietitian and an extension associate in food safety and nutrition at North Carolina State University in Raleigh

For thicker fish such as a salmon steak, you can slip the thermometer into a side of the fillet, Levine says. But because it’s almost impossible to use a thermometer on shellfish or a delicate fillet of sole, the USDA notes that it’s also considered safe to cook fish until the flesh is opaque and separates or flakes easily with a fork. Cook crabs, lobster, and shrimp until the flesh is opaque and pearly; clams, mussels, and oysters until their shells open; and scallops until they are milky white or firm and opaque.

Although seafood does not need to reach an internal temperature as high as some foods like ground beef – 145°F compared to 160°F for ground beef and 165°F for poultry – it’s not any less risky. Outbreaks of norovirus and Vibrio have been linked to raw or undercooked seafood.

We know that using a thermometer to check internal temperatures is the best practice for knowing when food is done. Yet, people are even less likely to use a thermometer on fish than on meat or poultry, and cookbook recipes are also less likely to include safe endpoint temperatures for fish. While raw or undercooked seafood may be trendy (sushi and raw oyster lovers – you know who you are), getting foodborne illness isn’t.

Rare chicken hooks UK food porn-types, the country that gave the world mushy peas and mad cow disease: It’s a Salmonella/Campy shit-storm waiting to happen

Just when you thought you’d seen every possible bizarre foodie trend on Instagram, a truly stomach-churning craze comes along to surprise you.

Siofra Brennan of the Daily Mail writes people have been sharing images of their ‘juicy and tender’ meals of medium rare chicken, claiming it’s the best possible way to enjoy the meat, but their claims certainly haven’t gone down well with the masses. 

People have described the craze as ‘salmonella waiting to happen’ with one stating that there’s a ‘special place reserved in hell’ for people who don’t cook their chicken properly. 

However, fans are absolutely insistent that it’s the best way to eat the poultry with one declaring that if you’re not having your chicken medium rare, ‘you’re doing it wrong’.  

People seem particularly keen to find out what firebrand chef Gordon Ramsay thinks of the debacle, frantically tweeting him images of the offending dishes to get his opinion.

His thoughts remain, as yet, unknown.  

(Who gives a fuck?)

Earlier this year Australian Morgan Jane Gibbs found worldwide notoriety with a Facebook snap of a plateful of very pink pieces of chicken with the caption: ‘Just made chicken medium rare chicken strips.

‘They’re so good can’t believe I’ve never tried it like this before,’ she said. 

‘Can’t wait to dig into this with my homemade salad and veges. #healthy #newyearsresolution #clean #cleaneating’

Unsurprisingly the post has gained notoriety online as people tried to figure out if Ms Gibbs is being serious with her nauseating dish.

While the post by Ms Gibbs was most likely a joke, the image itself was of a legitimate dish, origination from a blog promoting tourism in the Japanese region of Shizuoka and the recipe for chicken tataki; chicken seared over hot coals and served raw.

Chicken sashimi is another Japanese dish where the bird is served raw, chefs manage to avoid the issue of pesky food poisoning by serving the meat as fresh as possible and raising the chickens in a hygienic environment.

That’s some microbiological poultry manure (check your organic garden).

To avoid the risk of food poisoning, the NHS recommends that chicken must be cooked through so that the meat is ‘no longer pink, the juices run clear and it’s steaming hot throughout.’ 

No wonder the UK is messed up about chicken, the government-types can’t get advice right.

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

NZ says (not a joke): Have your say on cooking burgers: Until a chef offers a temperature rather than adjectives it’s bullshit

While Australia is being dragged kickin-and-screamin into the thermometer age, New Zealand has decided to put knowledge aside, and ask the people, How do you want your burgers done?

Just because everyone eats doesn’t mean they know anything about microbial food safety.

The NZ Ministry for Primary Industries issued a public notice, stating: Feedback from chefs is that they would like to be able to cook mince (especially minced burger patties) to medium/medium rare (I have no idea what these adjectives mean; some numbers, please) under the template food control plan.

MPI has worked with chefs, environmental health offers and food scientists to develop a specialist section for both official template food control plans.  The specialist page is written in the “Know, Do, Show” format from the Simply Safe & Suitable template. The section will allow red meat mince for medium/medium rare burgers, and other meat specialities like steak tartare, to be safely served lightly cooked or raw. (Carpaccio is already covered in the templates (refer to section 10.6 (Serve) –  Whole cuts and whole joints of meat – and the ‘Cooking food’ page in Simply Safe & Suitable).

We want to know if the specialist section works for you? Have we got it right?  

Please note: Two of the processes included in the consultation are sanitising and blanch-in-a-bag.  The scientific validation for these methods is ongoing.  If there is insufficient evidence for it to be included in this amendment for the official template food control plans, and there is high demand for the process, further research would need to be commissioned so it could be added at a later date.

The consultation opens 25 July and closes on 8 August 2017.

Email your feedback to foodact.2014@mpi.govt.nz

I suggest e-mailing them this blog post and saying, I want a burger cooked safely to a verified 74C.

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.