I like Dyke

My wife told me not to post this until all the bugs get worked out, but I can’t help myself.

I like Dyke was a play on the Eisenhower slogan of the 1950s and used by my vice-presidential running mate in high school politics – and best friend – which would make sense if I told you his last name, but first rule of confessionals and therapy, no last names.

Dave and I were tight through high school, we dated girls who were best friends – little Suzie being part of the inspiration for this blog, and Dead Flowers is Ben’s favorite Stone’s song – we both drove pieces of shit – I had a Datsun B210, Dave had a Ford Vega, a cousin to the notorious Pinto which had a tendency to blow up when hit from behind – and we spent every waking hour together.

And then, we didn’t.

Dave and I have reconnected in the past couple of months as we both could be on our last legs.

Hearing his deep chortle over the Intertubes has brought a warmth to what’s left of my heart and reminded me why we were such a good fit initially.

If only all relationships were like that (of course, we don’t live together, and if we did, one of us would be dead in days).

Relationships are hard like that.

But I’m glad I said my peace before there was nothing but regret.

Welcome to my blog.

dougsdeadflowers.com

Gin is awful: Elephant poop gin is worse

There’s a reason the clones in George Orwell’s 1984 had gin available: Because it’s fucking awful.

According to Maya-Rose Torrao of Briefly, inventors Les Ansley and Professor Paula Ansley (sounds like a lab relationship that shouldn’t be) have created South Africa’s first ever gin made from elephant poop.

The two creators took inspiration from Mzansi’s gentle giants when they noticed that much of what elephants eat passes through their systems undigested

The creators of this unique drink explain, on their website: “The original idea for elephant dung gin came from marrying the love of Africa and its wildlife with the love of gin. We are both scientists—and therefore inclined towards novel ideas and problem solving—so when Paula had the idea we really wanted to see whether it would actually be possible. The more we explored the concept the more it opened up and the more excited we became.”

Not dead yet: Future of barfblog.com

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

That famous quote, often wrongly ascribed to Albert Einstein, is believed to have originated with Narcotics Anonymous in 1981 (the same year I began university).

In addition to helping raise five daughters, providing endless relationship entertainment to the folks I played pick-up hockey with back in Guelph (that’s pre-Amy, who is playing pick-up as I write this), helping teach lots of kids how to skate, influencing lotsa students (good and bad, not much in-between), pissing off lotsa bureaucrats and industry types, publishing lots of peer-reviewed stuff that still gets cited daily and almost 15,000 barfblog.com posts, I did news.

Food Safety Network news, long before wannabes.

For 26 years I’ve done news.

And always referenced the evidence, or lack thereof.

Until others do the same, they’re just plagiarists.

I combined my background in molecular biology with some journalism experience, and I carved out a path in food safety.

The vision I always had for food safety information, all those years ago, was what I heard about daily – and often directly: How the hell was I supposed to know?

We mined the world (I used Compuserve to get access to the AP wires and others back in the days before Google, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s MMWR would take six months to arrive by mail, when those who needed to know should have had the information as soon as possible).

I am intensely loyal to the kids, er, students, that flourished and maybe we’ll write a book; or maybe not.

I did my best, even when my best wasn’t good enough.

I still love it – I haven’t been paid in over two years — but someone else should be in charge.

I have early-onset dementia, I have other health issues, so rather than submit any more family members to, I’ve got to do news, I am going to step away while I can.

Of the 15,287 barfblog.com posts, I authored (or cut and paste) 13,070 since 2005. That’s 86 per cent, or an ice hockey goalie save percentage of .8549, which isn’t great (should be over .91) but doesn’t exactly suck, because this isn’t hockey.

It’s something different.

And time for me to do something different.

I may still write, maybe about food safety, maybe about other things, maybe about the probability of monkeys flying out of my butt.

But for now, I’ve got other priorities.

Ben can figure out what to do and what he wants to do.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to share your computer screens, maybe even your brain space, and improve food safety, one tip-sensitive digital thermometer, one less serving of raw sprouts, and one calling out of bullshit advice, at a time.

Peace and love.

dp

Improperly home-canned peas linked to botulism illnesses

A couple of years ago I ran into a barfblog reader who commented to me, ‘You’re really scared of botulism, aren’t you?’ This wasn’t a random question, it was related to a few things I had posted over a couple of year period. I think he thought I was irrationally worried about it.

Scared isn’t how I would describe it. Rattled and in awe of are probably better terms. The toxin blocks motor nerve terminals at the myoneural junction, causing paralysis. It starts with the mouth, eyes, face and moves down through the body. It often results in paralysis of the chest muscles and diaphragm, making a ventilator necessary. Months of recovery follow an intoxication.

Maybe I am scared.

There isn’t a whole lot of botulism in the U.S. every year, and not all of it is foodborne – (infant botulism is more common); over the past two decades, improperly home preserved foods have been identified as a common vehicle.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (my favorite Thursday read, see my coveted mug at right) nails it again with a detailed report of three botulism cases in 2018 – all linked to an improperly canned jar of peas.

Here are some highlights from lead author Bergeron and colleagues:

On June 6, 2018, at 1:30 p.m., the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was notified of three related women who had arrived at a hospital 4 hours earlier for evaluation for acute nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech, ptosis, thick-feeling tongue, and shortness of breath. Two patients developed respiratory failure, requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation in the emergency department, and the third patient was intubated at 7 p.m. that evening.

Approximately 14 hours before arriving at the hospital, the patients had shared a homemade potato salad containing home-canned peas. The family’s freezer had malfunctioned, and, to preserve some commercially produced frozen peas, one of the patients had home-canned the peas 1–2 weeks before consumption.

The patient who prepared the home-canned peas was a novice home canner. She used a peach preserves recipe with a boiling water technique, replacing the peaches with frozen vegetables. The patient was unaware that low-acid foods (e.g., vegetables) must be canned in a pressure canner rather than a boiling water canner to eliminate C. botulinum spores (1). After the jars cooled, the patient correctly checked for jar seal. One of the jars of peas was not sealed, so the patient covered and refrigerated it, and the family consumed the peas in the potato salad.

 

Not as simple as just cook it: Ground turkey linked to Salmonella illnesses prompt Butterball recall

I use a lot of ground turkey – it’s my preferred ground meat for tacos and homemade burgers and tomato sauce. I switched to turkey when my kids were younger (because I was so much more freaked out about STECs, it was one way to manage the risk).

A year ago we did some work with RTI for FSIS on ground turkey preparation and during our observations found that cross-contamination could be a particularly an issue (to spice bottles and other areas).

Yesterday Butterball recalled over 75k lbs of ground turkey products after being linked to a Salmonella Schwarzengrund outbreak investigation.

FSIS and public health partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, have been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Schwarzengrund illnesses involving 5 case patients from 2 states. Wisconsin collected three intact Butterball brand ground turkey samples from a residence where 4 of the case patients live. The case patients and ground turkey Salmonella Schwarzengrund isolates are closely related, genetically.

Butterball, LLC, a Mount Olive, N.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 78,164 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengrund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The prepacked raw ground turkey was produced on July 7, 2018. The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF only)]

48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC codes 22655-71555 or 22655-71557 represented on the label.
48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71556 represented on the label.
16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71546 represented on the label.
16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC codes 22655-71547 or 22655-71561 represented on the label
48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “Kroger GROUND TURKEY FRESH 85% LEAN – 15% FAT” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC code 111141097993 represented on the label.
48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “FOOD LION 15% fat ground turkey with natural flavorings” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 3582609294 represented on the label.
The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. P-7345” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to institutional and retail locations nationwide.

Repeat violations is a pretty good indicator of a food safety culture issue

My kids are terrible at remembering things. Everyday one of them forgets at least one of the following: homework; water bottle; to change his socks; to flush; brush their teeth.

There are many more.

As a parent it’s my job to keep reminding them – and it gets frustrating when the same things are done over and over.

But they are 8 and 10. And not running a food business. Their repeated mistakes don’t leave to foodborne illness risks for thousands of customers.

I read the FDA warning letters with fascination every time an email alert comes out. Today’s  highlight for me was that a food business, Reuben’s, cant seem to get stuff straight after repeated reminders from FDA inspectors. In 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016 and again last fall they had issues with facilities, pests and behaviors.

The investigators found the same stuff. That’s frustrating – and kinda shows that the business leadership doesn’t get it, or care.

When someone asks me about inspection results at a restaurant or a processor I tell them the limitations of the snapshot, what really matters is how has the business dealt with issues over time. Repeated issues without fixing shows a negative food safety culture in my books.

Here are some other highlights:

Several tiles were missing on the production floor. Water was pooling on the floor where tiles were missing/broken.

Chiles fell onto the dirty floor and were picked up by and placed into the rinse/cooling tank with other roasted chiles

Uncovered chile relleno products were observed in the walk-in freezer. The ceiling directly above the uncovered products displayed an accumulation of condensation drops and peeling paint.

We observed an employee push an uncovered rack of green chile from the walk-in refrigerator into the production area. The sides and top layer of green chile came in direct contact with an curtain which appeared to be soiled with red chile debris and grime.

Food Safety Talk 177: Toilet as a Research Device

In this episode, the guys jump right into a discussion on why Ben is late and how bourbon, lead and the Indy 500 might all be connected (and have a food safety thread). The discussion goes to feedback on citrus slices; using AI for diets and journalism; and, farmers’ markets. Ben and Don go on to talk about cooking through slapping, the double turns out story of MSG and how magic temperatures get decided. The episode ends where it started – in the bathroom – with smart toilets and dumb soap dispensers. Oh, and a dirty, dirty salad robot.

You can download episode 177, Toilet as a Research Device here and on iTunes

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Food safety advice as herring egg harvest opens on Vancouver Island

Health officials are offering some food safety advice as this year’s herring egg harvest opens along a section of Vancouver Island’s east coast.

Hand-gathered herring eggs, known as spawn-on-kelp, are an important traditional seafood for many First Nations, but an outbreak of a cholera strain in 2018 forced closure of the harvest between French Creek and Qualicum Bay.

Island Health says in a news release that lab tests confirm a small group of people contracted the vibrio cholera bacteria last year after eating herring eggs from the affected region.

Officials say the bacteria are a “natural inhabitant” of the marine environment, are unable to produce the toxin found in more severe strains of cholera and are not from poor sanitation or sewage.

Until last year there had been no reported outbreaks, but a Health Canada and B.C. Centre for Disease Control review found salinity, acidity, temperature, sunlight and availability of nutrients can encourage the bacteria.

Water temperature above 10 C and sea water low in salt are two key factors in development of vibrio cholera, the review said.

Not bad for a bunch of southern Ontario boys (that’s in Canada).

Stick it in and use a thermometer

As Jimmy Buffett said on his 1978 Live album, sometimes I’m real sentimental, and sometimes I’m real trashy.

I can relate.

How many times can the UK Food Standards-thingy say cook poultry until piping hot, while Canada, the U.S. and now even Australia – apparently the most monarch-frenzied country in the world according to early-morning talk-fests – say, use a fucking thermometer.

Stick it in and use a fucking thermometer.

And now, research from the U.S. says that changes in lighting conditions to promote energy conservation may induce folks to eat undercooked turkey, please, pay homage to my late, great food safety pioneer Pete Snyder (and pardon my Minnesotan, but am married to one and she swears like a drunken sailor, after living with me for 13 years) and use a fucking thermometer.

Changes in Lighting Source Can Produce Inaccurate Assessment of Visual Poultry Doneness and Induce Consumers To Eat Undercooked Ground Turkey Patties

Journal of Food Protection, March 2019, Volume 82, Number 3, pages 528-534, https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-392

Curtis Maughan, Edgar Chamber IV, et al

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/full/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-392

Undercooked poultry is a potential source of foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. The best way to avoid eating undercooked poultry is to use a food thermometer during cooking. However, consumers who cook poultry often use visual appearance for determining doneness, which relies on extrinsic factors, including lighting conditions. Because the United States recently mandated changes in lighting to promote energy conservation, this study evaluated the effect of lighting sources on consumer perceptions of doneness and willingness to eat cooked poultry patties. Consumers (n = 104) evaluated validated photographs of turkey patties cooked to different end point temperatures (57 to 79°C) and rated the level of perceived doneness and willingness to eat each sample. Evaluations were conducted under different lighting sources: incandescent (60 W, soft white), halogen (43 W, soft white), compact fluorescent lamp (13 W, soft white), light-emitting diode (LED; 10.5 W, soft white), and daylight LED (14 W). Lighting changed perception of doneness and willingness to eat the patties, with some of the energy-efficient options, such as LED and halogen making samples appear more done than they actually were, increasing the willingness to eat undercooked samples. This poses a risk of consuming meat that could contain bacteria not killed by heat treatment. Recent changes in lighting regulations can affect lighting in homes that affects perceptions of poultry doneness, requiring that educators place extra emphasis on the message that properly using a meat thermometer is the only way to ensure meat is cooked to a safe end point temperature.