Doug Powell

About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Download C.V. »

Hundreds of drones take to the South Korea sky to send message of social distancing and handwashing

South Korea has done everything big on coronavirus.

Now, over 300 drones have taken to the sky in South Korea to remind people of the importance of practicing social distancing and handwashing.

This resulted in a spectacular display over the Han River on Saturday.

The drones formed a white face mask and red circles were used to symbolize coronavirus particles, which has claimed the lives of almost 300 people in the country.

Messages of support and images of medical workers also appeared in the 10-minute display that was organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

One of the displays said “ThanksToChallenge”, which made reference to a South Korean social media campaign that was created to show thanks to healthcare workers in the county.

There were no crowds watching the event because it was not advertised ahead of time.

The government captioned a video of the event on YouTube: “Thank you for the efforts of the people and medical staff.

“We express our gratitude and respect to all who suffer from Covid-19.”

This display comes after South Korea was praised for its response to the virus, quickly containing the initial outbreak, although the country has experienced sporadic cases since – caused by small gatherings and door-to-door sales practices.

According to the Mirror, South Korea has reported just 68 cases of coronavirus today and 33 of them are imported.

However, the country is preparing itself for a potential second wave of infections and this drone display was undoubtedly a timely reminder to its citizens that they are not out of the woods yet.

Vietnam too.

 

Outbreak of bubonic plague in Mongolia as two brothers are infected after eating marmot meat

Two brothers have contracted the deadly bubonic plague after feasting on the meat of rodents.

The men, from Mongolia, are said to have contracted the deadly disease from marmots – in a country where consuming the innards of the animals is traditionally believed to be good for your health.

Pansoch Buyainbat, 27, and his brother, 17, are being treated in separate hospitals in Khovd province in western Mongolia.

The older brother is in a “critical” condition.

The cases have now sparked urgent checks on 146 people with whom they were in contact.

Health officials now face a big task ahead of them as it’s believed 500 people may already be affected, say reports.

The bacterial infection can kill adults within 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Major security precautions have been put into operation amid fears of a spread.

The plague is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots, a large type of squirrel.

The country’s National Centre for Zoonotic Diseases confirmed that bubonic plague had been diagnosed and emergency meetings have been set up.

It is a recurrent problem in the East Asian nation.

A couple died of bubonic plague in the western Mongolian province of Bayan-Ulgii in April 2019, after eating raw marmot meat.

It prompted authorities to warn against eating raw marmot because it can carry Yersinia pestis , the plague germ.

The plague is spread by marmots coughing or through the bite of the tarbagan flea they carry, or through consumption of their meat.

Man fined $560 for farting loudly at police in Austria

A person in Vienna was fined 500 Euro ($560) for farting loudly in front of police officers. If the fine isn’t paid, the man could face five days in jail.

The title of the Reddit post stated: “It’s a miracle that the policeman didn’t grab the poufs right away! We must not be ‘suppressed’: let the intestinal wind escape for everyone!”

The fine said that in the incident in Bennoplatz, Vienna, the person violated a regulation by violating public decency or for an unduly disturbing noise. More specifically, according to the fine, “they violated public decency by loudly blowing a bowel in front of police officers.”

In October 2019, Missouri police revealed that they located a suspect after he farted loudly. The Clay County Missouri Sherriff’s Office said on social media: “If you’ve got a felony warrant for your arrest, the cops are looking for you and you pass gas so loud it gives up your hiding spot, you’re definitely having a [poop emoji] day.”

In September 2019, a man in Scotland intentionally farted as police officers conducted a body cavity search and was ordered to perform 75 hours of community service.

Everyone’s got a camera: Supermarkets edition

I’m not sure what is going on in some supermarkets.

A week ago, South Australian police announced they were investigating after needles and thumbtacks were found in various food items including strawberries at an Adelaide suburban supermarket.

The incidents were reported by three different customers purchasing groceries at the Woolworths supermarket at The Grove shopping complex at Golden Grove, in Adelaide’s north-east.

Police said metal needles were discovered in a punnet of strawberries and in an avocado, and thumbtacks were found in a loaf of bread.

The discoveries occurred between Saturday, June 27, and Wednesday, July 1, police said.

SA Police said the contaminations appeared to be “deliberate acts,”and are being investigated by detectives from the Northern District Crime Investigation Branch, assisted by Woolworths.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company will provide SA Police with CCTV footage from the store to help the investigation.

About the same time, a supermarket worker in Toronto was caught cleaning shopping baskets with spit in the middle of a global health pandemic.

Essential workers in Australian supermarkets are required to regularly sanitise their hands and any high-touch surfaces.

Canada has similar rules, but employees are also required to wear gloves – something Australian supermarket employees don’t have to do under the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Hygiene Practices For Supermarkets.

Footage shows the employee, who works at a FreshCo store in Toronto, Canada, spitting into a white cloth he’s using to wipe down the green plastic carriers, before he stacks them up for customers to use.

The clip, which was filmed on July 5, by a customer who said she was “shocked and disgusted” by the act has since gone viral, with many criticising the man.

 

Toilet plumes: Flush with the lid down (if there is one)

A study published in mid-June in the journal Physics of Fluids found that flushing a toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets that rises nearly three feet. As reported by Knvul Sheikh of the New York Times, those droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by a shared toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.

This toilet plume isn’t just gross. In simulations, it can carry infectious coronavirus particles that are already present in the surrounding air or recently shed in a person’s stool.

And while it remains unknown whether public or shared toilets are a common point of transmission of the virus, the research highlights the need during a pandemic to rethink some of the common spaces people share.

 “The aerosols generated by toilets are something that we’ve kind of known about for a while, but many people have taken for granted,” said Joshua L. Santarpia, a professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who was not involved in the research. “This study adds a lot of the evidence that everyone needs in order to take better action.”]

Typically, the coronavirus is most at home in cells in the lungs and upper respiratory tract. But studies have found it can also dock to cell receptors in the small intestine. Patients have been reported to experience diarrhea, nausea and vomiting among other symptoms.

And researchers have found viable virus particles in patients’ feces, as well as traces of viral RNA on toilet bowls and sinks in their hospital isolation rooms, although experiments in the lab have suggested that material may be less likely to be infectious compared with virus that is coughed out.

A computer simulation of the toilet flushing mechanism showed that when water pours into the toilet and generates a vortex, it displaces air in the bowl. These vortices move upward and the centrifugal force pushes out about 6,000 tiny droplets and even tinier aerosol particles.

Depending on the number of inlets in the toilet, flushing can force anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the produced aerosols high above the seat.

“It’s very alarming,” said Ji-Xiang Wang, who studies fluid dynamics at Yangzhou University and was a co-author of the study.

It’s virtually impossible to keep bathrooms sanitized all the time, and sharing a toilet may be unavoidable for family members, even when one person is sick and isolating in a separate room at home, Dr. Wang said.

As cities around the world navigate the reopening of restaurants, offices and other businesses, more and more people will also need to use public or shared restrooms. But while diners can be moved outdoors and employees spaced out, people may find it harder to practice social distancing in small bathrooms.

Aerosolized particles may still linger in single-use toilets, and bathrooms are frequently poorly ventilated spaces, which can increase the risk of exposure to infection. Users also have to consider risks from high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs and faucets.

Experience with other coronaviruses shows how quickly the fecal-oral route can lead to spread of disease. In March 2003, more than 300 people living in the Amoy Gardens apartment complex in Hong Kong got infected with the original SARS coronavirus because infectious fecal aerosols spread through faulty plumbing and ventilation systems.

Backyard chicks continue to sicken, in the U.S. and Australia

Queensland’s latest salmonella outbreak has caused officials to warn backyard chicken owners to practice biosecurity steps to ensure everyone’s safety in handling the animals. Since June 26, 17 cases of Salmonella typhimurium have been documented.

According to ABC News, 13 of the cases were aged 11 or younger. Additionally, five out of the 17 cases were admitted to the hospital. The recent outbreak has been associated with chicks from an unnamed supplier.

Backyard poultry can appear harmless, healthy, and clean but can carry Salmonella spp or Campylobacter spp. Moreover, chicken coops, habitats, and eggs could also become contaminated.

Zoonotic diseases that backyard poultry may transmit to humans include salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, and avian influenza viruses. Since the 1990s, epidemics of human Salmonella spp infections connected to contact with backyard chickens have been recorded in the United States.

In Victoria, nine cases of salmonella in two months were linked to the pet chicks and their eggs.

And in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control reported that as of June 23, 2020, there were 465 recent cases of Salmonella linked to backyard poultry, including one death, an increase of 368 ill people since the previous report on May 20, 2020.

CDC says always wash your hands and don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.

Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.

Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages and containers for feed or water.

Supervise kids around poultry.

Always supervise children around poultry and while they wash their hands afterward.

Children younger than 5 years of age shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella.

Handle eggs safely.

Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.

Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg though a cracked shell.

Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned carefully with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth.

Don’t wash warm, fresh eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.

Refrigerate eggs after collection to maintain freshness and slow germ growth.

Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or hotter. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.

Acid is still important

Simplot Australia Pty Ltd announced in June it is conducting a recall of Leggo’s Tuna Bake with Spinach & Garlic 500g.  The product has been available for sale at Coles, Woolworths, IGA and independent supermarkets in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and online.

Only products with Best Before 1 05 22 and with a specific batch code of 12164:

The recall is due to the incorrect pH level being detected in the sauce which has the potential for microbial growth.

Food products with the potential for microbial contamination and may cause illness if consumed.

Country of origin: Australia.

Tick the boxes is not enough: Leadership in food safety management in Australia

My friend Andrew Thomson writes in this piece for Hospital Health here in Australia:

COVID-19 has sharpened our focus on safety, with lockdown providing an opportunity to reflect on current approaches and where improvements to compliance policies and practices could be achieved.

Food safety management systems in Australia have largely not changed on the safety front. A one-size-fits-all approach to food safety management systems is widespread across the foodservice sector — a certain recipe for failure. All too familiar food safety problems persist at unacceptably high rates.

Leaders (at all levels) do not fully understand their food safety obligations — they are wanting a quick fix so they can tick the regulatory box.

Characteristically, a leader within an organisation will copy and paste another organisation’s food safety management system and make minimal changes; or they will download a template to assist them develop what they believe is a compliant system. This leader fills out a few text boxes here and there throughout the document, which is done in isolation of operational employee consultation and involvement. The newly created food safety management system completely lacks operational detail and bears no resemblance to site-specific operational and food law requirements.

Validating the system and developing robust verification mechanisms are poorly understood, and in many cases does not occur.

Production processes impacting on food safety are not fully understood by operational leaders and employees, or there is inconsistent understanding of the processes. If leaders and employees do not know how the food safety system works (or is supposed to work), how can they improve it?

There are significant shortcomings around resource allocation, including sub-par training — there is no genuine commitment to training, nor are there any accountability processes in place — this is just another example of ticking the box.

Food handling employees need to know:

what to do,

how to do it,

why it’s important, and

what corrective actions to take when required.

Corrective action is a critical food safety step that helps prevent a food safety incident from occurring.

The dated ‘compliance-based training’ and ‘mandatory online modules’ approach and refresher training has failed. New training and learning habits and practices will need to be created.

Implementation and meaningful review of food safety management systems rarely occur. An organisation must be able to demonstrate that it is complying with its food safety management system and conduct a regular review — a requirement of Australian food law.

A review is of critical importance as food production activities within the operation will change over time, such as when new equipment is purchased or changes are made to cooking methods.

The involvement of senior leadership is required in the review process, to provide an opportunity to examine business activity from a different perspective. Soft or inconsistent regulatory audits are simply not helpful and place the organisation and other stakeholders at risk, including the regulator. In many situations food safety management is not a priority and is not taken seriously, with a ‘she’ll be right’ approach, until there is a food safety incident or regulatory intervention. This can often lead to unwanted and negative (social) media attention.

Food safety colleague Dr Doug Powell explained that when there is an outbreak of foodborne illness many food operations will rely on a go-to soundbite, “Food safety is our top priority”.

For Dr Powell, a former professor of food safety for 17 years at the universities of Guelph and Kansas State, this sets up a mental incongruity: if food safety is your top priority, shouldn’t you show me?

The other common soundbite is, “We meet all government standards”.

With a changing regulatory landscape, advances in technology, and food products and ingredients travelling great distances, it is time for senior leadership and boards of directors to elevate the food safety conversation within their organisation.

Far too many foodservice operations are leaving brand protection to government inspectors or auditors — this is a bad idea.

Organisational leaders should commit themselves to achieving optimal industry standards in food safety management instead of aiming to meet minimum requirements. Leaders must be actively involved in celebrating team success and equally the reporting and development of risk-reduction strategies when a food safety issue arises. Leaders must hold every employee accountable for consistent adherence to recognised food law requirements and safety practices. Failing to respond to these matters leaves many organisations (and employees) vulnerable to a myriad of risks.

Falling, falling

I fell again.

About 4 a.m. yesterday, my prostate betrayed me and I went for a pee and tumble.

Blood everywhere.

I told my doctor a few years ago I have a tendency to fall over when I lean over to tie my shoes.

She said, don’t lean over.

Another ambulance ride, 20 stitches in the three lacerations in my skull and the one above my eyebrow, and a groovy new doctor-designed haircut.

Thanks to Amy for getting me off in the ambulance and cleaning the floor, and my carerer who sat with me for four hours.

My doc also says, the most important thing is, don’t fall over.