Shopping for safety, consumers left wondering at Coles

Talk less, do more.

That’s what I’m telling 5-year-old Sorenne as she explains for the eighth time she’s about to go get her shoes on, so we can walk to school.

And after 20 years of food safety stuff, it’s my go-to response to any corporate head of borat.chickenfood safety.

I understand that talking has a role, that meetings have a role, but only if they translate into tangible outcomes. With food safety, for me, that has always meant, will fewer people barf?

A month ago, Amy proclaimed, based on her acquired food safety knowledge, that she may have sickened Sorenne after a serving of frozen chicken thingies from Coles (that’s a supermarket chain in Australia).

The label did not indicate whether they were fully cooked and frozen, or frozen raw.

Raw, frozen not-ready-to-eat entrees purchased in retail and prepared in the home have been identified as a significant risk factor for salmonellosis. From 1998 to 2008, eight separate outbreaks have implicated undercooked chicken nuggets, chicken strips, and stuffed chicken entrees.

I guess someone other than my mother and Ben and Amy read what I write, because someone from Coles e-mailed me in response to the Jan. post to say: “Kansas State’s loss is Australia’s gain and it would be great to talk to you to 1) answer your query on nuggets (apologies it took so long, that’s not acceptable and we will put that right) and 2) to explore opportunities to get your unique insight into Australian retail and your experience’s so far.”

We talked.

He said him and Jackie Healing, who spoke today at the Global Food Safety Initiative shindig in California, would love to come and visit with me and go through a local Coles on a food safety tour.

Those chicken nuggets? Flash fried so the breading sticks, but not cooked to a microbiologically safe temperature. Nothing on the label, no cooking instructions for microbiological safety. How would a consumer know?

I never heard back.

That’s normal; lots of talk, little action. I’ll go hang out with my 5-year-old.

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


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;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820


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, coles.chicken.breast.nuggets.jan_.14-225x300which 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.


Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria icarly.chicken.cell.handsestablished by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.