Ben Chapman

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.

Hurricane preparation from a Canadian

I grew up more that 400 miles away from an ocean. The biggest weather events I had to prepare for were snow and cold.

I’ve lived in NC for almost 10 years, have not been through much more than power outages for a few hours due to storms. Getting ready for #Florence though. Updating prep and recovery stuff at and here over the next few days.


Food Safety Talk 163: Grown on Chia Pets

The episode starts with the ongoing history of Canadian cuisine, landing on peameal bacon and how it came to be an Ontario delicacy. The guys go on to talk creamers dropping in hot coffee and contamination potential. The guys put out a request to listeners to send on listener’s food safety in everyday life (send pics). The guys talk date balls, chia and immunocompromised individuals. Ben tells a story about navigating the public health investigation world from a victims perspective and Don provides his insight. They both then go on to chat about risk communication in deception studies with human subjects. The episode ends on rapid listener feedback on double gloving (again), washing onions and cutting boards.

Episode 163 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Food Safety Talk 162: FST Bolo Ties

The show opens with a bit of discussion about other podcasts, but quickly moves to the main subject at hand: a recent study on the increased isopropanol tolerance of certain bacteria found in hospitals.  The guys weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of the study, including it’s relevance to food safety, with some help via listener feedback. The next topic is Chipotle’s recent problem with Clostridium perfringens in their beans. The guys introduce a new segment on Canadian foods, before moving to listener feedback on fermented foods, CSPI, and thermometer calibration, times and temperatures, food dehydrators, handwashing, and double gloving. The show ends with a discussion of a recent cookbook recall.

Episode 162 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

barfblog notifications are back. Oh and California is looking to allow folks to sell meals from their home kitchens

Notifications are back. Or at least we think they are. For the past few weeks we’ve put some posts up, but they never made it to our subscribers. After a few weeks of trying to figure out what was up, our technical folks think they’ve figured it out.

Here’s the test post:

I spent today making a bunch of food today in a home kitchen, being videoed, for science. We’re piloting a study that we’ll launch next year and wanted to know how the script and technology was going to work. This one involves using eye-tracking hardware to see where folks look. That’s me (right, exactly as shown) trying the mock technology on (we used Google Glass for the pilot).

Below is what I made.

According to Capitol Public Radio, some Californians are lobbying the state government to allow for commercial businesses to operate out of home kitchens.

Home cooks rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday in support of AB 626, a bill that would make California the first state to permit and regulate the small-scale sale of meals from home kitchens.

Oakland farmer Brandi Mac said the bill will provide economic opportunities to women, immigrants, and people of color that live in urban communities.

“We need to figure out what are some of the ways we can be able to get to employ urban farmers,” Mac said. “You can’t make money selling lettuce. But you can [make some money] if you make a Caesar salad.”

As careful as I was, I don’t think the meal, made in a consumer home, is ready for commercial prime time.

Food Safety Talk 161: Two shows for the price of one

The episode starts with a discussion on food safety media coverage, Chipotle and fish-related worms (anisakiasis and cod worms). Don and Ben then talk New Jersey, Thor, British scandals and get into a lengthy segment on how cockroaches, flies and other critters can impact the risk of foodborne illness. The guys then get into a bunch of listener feedback on lava rock and Clostridium botulinum control in canned beverages. The conversation goes to Toxoplasma and entrepreneurialism and Mongolian style grill cooking. The episode ends on the differences in food safety between 41°F and 42°F, in North Carolina.

Download the show on iTunes or here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

It’s free guacamole day and Chipotle investigated as source of another outbreak

Chipotle appears to be linked to another outbreak of foodborne illness. Maybe it’s just two cases (according to Chipotle via CNBC reporting) or maybe it’s way more according to Patrick Quade over at 

There are lots of things that can go wrong in the restaurant like poor handwashing, cross-contamination or improper temperature control. Or folks showing up to work while ill (and Chipotle’s seen this before).

The pathogen isn’t clear, nor is what dish/practice caused the illnesses. It’s too early to tell.

What we do know is that the local health department is investigating:

Jeni’s Ice Cream uses raw milk?

According to the Charlotte Business Journal, Jeni’s Ice Cream is coming to North Carolina and bringing their fun flavors and tasty desserts. And raw milk?

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is scooping up its signature gourmet ice cream and frozen yogurt in South End.

That roughly 1,000-square-foot boutique ice cream shop is located in the Design Center complex. It marks the brand’s first N.C. scoop shop — and 35th overall.

That spot just fit for the brand, says founder Jeni Britton Bauer.

Jeni’s sets itself apart with how its ice cream is prepared.

That means using raw milk, avoiding stabilizers and emulsifiers and using the best ingredients. For example, whiskey is distilled in the U.S., and the brand uses Fair Trade Chocolate and local ingredients when possible, such as fresh fruit or mint from the farmers market.

I tweeted at the @jenisicecreams handle looking for clarification. Have yet to hear what they mean by raw milk. I read it as unpasteurized milk goes into their ice cream. Other folks on Twitter have pointed out that it might just be marketing speak. Like ‘Hey, we make ice cream out of raw milk, well milk that starts raw, and then gets pasteurized.’

I don’t want to get into the raw milk choice debate here. You can check out Food Safety Talk 53: Raw Milk Hampsterdam for my thoughts on that.

Thanks to Dr. Tara Smith (@aetiology) on sleuthing this passage from the Jeni’s website where they talk about raw milk,

Dairy is the foundation of everything we do, so we use the best we can find. Smith’s, the 110-year-old dairy in Orrville, Ohio, has been sourcing raw cream and grass-grazed milk and pasteurizing it for us for the past couple of years. They work with small family farms within 200 miles of our kitchen.

Back to the Biz Journal article:

“Our ice creams really are fundamentally different from others,” she says.

If they make it with raw milk, yeah. And would be doing so illegally in NC. If they are talking about raw milk that becomes pasteurized before they get it, or they pasteurize it, then they are like pretty much every other ice cream processor in the U.S.

Update: Jeni’s (@jenisicecreams) tweeted back to me with this info:


Food Safety Talk 159: Hot Tongs

Don and Ben get together in a room in Salt Lake City with a few listeners and talk about their week at IAFP, online shopping, selling soup on Facebook, roundtables and Gary Acuff’s Ivan Parkin lecture. The guy’s discussion goes to a few items of listener feedback on grilling techniques, peanut grinders and restaurant ratings. They talk about Listeria in European frozen vegetables and intentional poisoning of co-workers. The episode ends on in-studio questions on communicating environmental sampling to produce processors and IAFP membership benefits.

Food Safety Talk 159 can be downloaded here or on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Canada Day and Fourth of July food safety fun

Today is my ninth Canada Day in Raleigh.

In previous years we’ve sought out Canadian beers; found the best poutine in town; skated with the Canadian club of the triangle; and curled.

This year is a bit lower-key: I’m hanging out in the backyard, watching Don Cherry talk about the opening day of free agent signings in the NHL (right, exactly as shown).

As I get a bit older I think more about what I miss about Canada, what I don’t, what it means to me to be Canadian and why I choose to live in the U.S.. There are lots of similarities and differences between the two countries.

Some stuff is easy to explain, others, like an emotional connection to The Tragically Hip and Jr. hockey, is a bit tougher.

The combination of Canada Day and July 4th (just a couple of days apart) is one of my favorite times of year. The traditional signal of summer vacation season in both countries and – and a bunch of cookouts, grillouts, bbqs, or whatever you want to call it.

The seasonal lede is also often used for talking food safety.

Cooking a bunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, folks coming to a backyard party or hanging out around the pool is something that many can identify, north and south of the 49th parallel.

The preliminary results of some work that I was part of is making the rounds this weekend with the grilling hook, which is kinda cool. Over the past 18 months a team of us planned and carried out a series of observations in kitchen settings asking regular people to come in, cook a couple of turkey burgers, prepare a salad and some salad dressing in front of a series of cameras while students and staff coded what took place – stuff handwashing, thermometer use, cross-contamination.

The project was built on concepts that were developed more than a decade ago when I visited the a creative food safety group in Cardiff, Wales (then UWIC, now Cardiff Met) who were all about observations. Following that trip, Sarah DeDonder, Brae Surgeoner, Randy Phebus, Doug and I adapted the approach to look at handling of frozen chicken entrées.

I’ll wait for a couple of weeks until some of this work is presented at the 2018 International Association for Food Protection annual meeting to share more results- and publication for all the fun details, but here’s some good highlights from USDA.

“As a mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the mad dash families go through to put dinner on the table,” said Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria. By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen.”
The preliminary results of the observational study, conducted by USDA in collaboration with RTI International and North Carolina State University, showed some concerning results.
* Handwashing: the study revealed that consumers are not washing their hands correctly 97 percent of the time.
* Most consumers failed to wash their hands for the necessary 20 seconds, and
* Numerous participants did not dry their hands with a clean towel.

* Thermometer use: results reveal that only 34 percent of participants used a food thermometer to check that their burgers were cooked properly.
* Of those who did use the food thermometer, nearly half still did not cook the burgers to the safe minimum internal temperature.

* Cross contamination: the study showed participants spreading bacteria from raw poultry onto other surfaces and food items in the test kitchen.
* 48 percent of the time are contaminating spice containers used while preparing burgers,
* 11 percent of the time are spreading bacteria to refrigerator handles, and
* 5 percent of the time are tainting salads due to cross-contamination.

Food Safety Talk 157: 1000 Jars of Jam (Live from MSU)