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. »

Restaurant worker training effectiveness during covid-19

The restaurant business has turned into a dynamic and ever-growing industry. So, food safety must be a priority for these establishments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of training intervention on the health and food safety knowledge, attitude, and self-reported practice (KAP) of restaurant food handlers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This quasi-experimental study was conducted on 159 restaurant food handlers in Tehran, Iran. The training intervention was developed based on the latest global guidelines. The KAP of the subjects was measured before and after the training. Fisher’s exact test, paired t test, and repeated measures ANOVA were used for statistical analysis. Data analysis was done using the IBM_SPSS software. The total knowledge scores of participants were low (17.6%), moderate (35.2%), and good (47.2%) before training, which were changed to 5% (low), 23.9% (moderate), and 71.1% (good) after training. The total pretraining attitude scores were 0.6, 77.4, 18.2, and 3.8% that were changed to 0% (strongly negative), 49.1% (negative), 33.3% (positive), and 17.6% (strongly positive), respectively. Also, the self-reported practice scores of the participants before training were 1.3, 56, and 42.7 that were changed to 0% (weak), 26.4% (acceptable), and 73.6% (desirable) after the intervention, respectively. Paired t test results showed a statistically significant increase in all scores. The interaction of training with age and education was statistically significant in increasing the knowledge and attitude scores of the participants by the repeated measures ANOVA.

Improving the KAP of food handlers by health and food safety training can improve the status of restaurants and minimize the outbreak of pandemic diseases, including COVID-19, which is an effective step in community health. Thus, it is an urgent need for policymakers to design an online system of continuous food safety training for food handlers.

A quasi-experimental study on the effect of health and food safety training intervention on restaurant food handlers during the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 April 2021

Food Science & Nutrition

Fatemeh Mohammadi-Nasrabadi, Yeganeh Salmani, and Fatemeh Esfarjani

DOI: 10.1002/fsn3.2326

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/fsn3.2326

Hand washing only spiked temporarily during pandemic, hospital finds

European Cleaning reports that a US hospital study has revealed that while healthcare hand hygiene compliance soared early on in the pandemic, it fell back to pre-pandemic levels after just four months.

Woman washing her hands at the kitchen sink. There are vegetables out of focus in the background.

The University of Chicago Medical Centre used an automated hand hygiene monitoring system to track how often staff washed their hands or used sanitiser when entering and exiting a patient’s room between September 2019 and August 2020. Compliance trends were then analysed by researchers at the hospital.

In September 2019, baseline monthly hand hygiene compliance levelled out at 54.5 per cent across all units, peaking at 75.5 per cent. On March 29, 2020 – when anxiety about the pandemic was running high – hand hygiene compliance hit a daily peak of 92.8 per cent across all hospital units. And it hit 100 per cent across those units that were temporarily given over for the exclusive use of COVID-19 patients.

However just four months later in August 2020, monthly compliance levels had dropped back to 56 per cent, researchers found.

The results of the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, considered various factors that may have contributed to the March 2020 jump in compliance including staff members’ increased awareness of the importance of hand washing during the pandemic.

Presence of listeria in sausages from Catalonia and distributed throughout Spain

The En24 reports the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) has received updated information from Catalonia, through the Coordinated System for Rapid Information Exchange (SCIRI), on the presence of ‘Listeria monocytogenes’ in different meat products heat-treated elaborated in the Embotits D’Oix establishment, extending the product recall to batch 2115 of the same products.

With the information available no case has been confirmed in Spain associated with this alert, although it is recommended that people who have the products included in this alert at home refrain from consuming them and return them to the point of purchase.

Although the Catalan health authorities already informed AESAN on April 16, they have now provided new information regarding the withdrawal of different heat-treated meat products produced in the establishment due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and lack of sanitary guarantees.

In the course of the investigations carried out, the Catalan Public Health Agency has extended the product recall to batch number 2115, of the same products affected by this notification. With the new information, the data of the products involved in this alert are: Botifarra d’ou, Bull blanc, Botifarra negra, Botifarra de fetge and Botifarra all julivert.

In addition, the batches involved are: 2106 2107; 2108; 2109; 2110; 2111; 2112; 2113; 2114 and 2115. The distribution has been made in Catalonia, Aragon, Balearic Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencian Community and Madrid. This information has been transferred to the competent authorities of the autonomous communities through the SCIRI, in order to verify the withdrawal of the affected products from the marketing channels.

Listeria outbreak linked to queso fresco made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc. closed

Fast Facts

Illnesses: 13

Hospitalizations: 12

Deaths: 1

States: 4

Recall: Yes

Investigation status: Closed

Don’t eat any soft cheeses like queso fresco, unless they are labeled “made with pasteurized milk.” This is especially important if you are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments. This is because you are at higher risk for severe Listeria illness.

Be aware that Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk have caused Listeria outbreaks, including this outbreak. Although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk can still become contaminated if they are produced in facilities with unsanitary conditions.

Listeria in RTE foods at retail, Costa Rica

Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacterium associated with RTE meat products sold at the retail level. The objective of this research was to determine the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in RTE meat products sold at retail in Costa Rica and to study the factors associated with the levels of contamination; analyzed factors include hygienic practices within stores (cutting techniques, microbial contamination of products) and the behavior of the isolates (persistence against antimicrobials and transfer potential).

A total of 190 samples of RTE meat products were collected and analyzed for the presence of coliforms and Listeria species. Isolates of L. monocytogenes were then evaluated in terms of resistance to disinfectants (quaternary ammonium compounds and chlorine) and their transfer potential from food contact surfaces (knife and cuttingboards). Overall Listeria spp. prevalence was 37,4% (71/190); L. innocua was present in 32,1% (61/190) of the products and L. monocytogenes was found in just 2,6% (5/190) of the samples. Most of the contaminated samples were cut with a knife at the moment of purchase (44,2%). When analyzing practices within the stores, it was observed that L. monocytogenes transfer from inoculated knife to “salchichón” was higher for samples cut right at the beginning of the experiment. Also, L. monocytogenes transfer from inoculated cuttingboards was independent of the number of slices but contamination from plastic was higher than wood. Regarding L. monocytogenes resistance to disinfectants, average reductions of 2,6 ± 1,1 log CFU/mL were detected after 6 minutes of exposure to 200 ppm of chlorine; however, chlorine resistance varied among the strains. Prevalence of L. monocytogenes in RTE meat products sold at retail could be associated with handling practices within the stores; further studies are necessary to estimate the impact of these practices on the overall risk for consumers.

Presence of listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products sold at retail stores in Costa Rica and analysis of contributing factors, 2021

Journal of Food Protection

Karol Calvo-Arrieta 1Karol Matamoros-Montoya 1María Laura Arias-Echandi 1Alejandra Huete-Soto 1Mauricio Alberto Redondo-Solano 2

doi: 10.4315/JFP-21-020

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34047780/

Scientists discover five new species of listeria, improving food safety

While examining the prevalence of listeria in agricultural soil throughout the U.S., Cornell University food scientists have stumbled upon five previously unknown and novel relatives of the bacteria.

The discovery, researchers said, will help food facilities identify potential growth niches that until now, may have been overlooked – thus improving food safety.

“This research increases the set of listeria species monitored in food production environments,” said lead author Catharine R. Carlin, a doctoral student in food science. “Expanding the knowledge base to understand the diversity of listeria will save the commercial food world confusion and errors, as well as prevent contamination, explain false positives and thwart foodborne outbreaks.”

One of the novel species, L. immobilis, lacked motility, or the ability to move. Listeria move a lot. Among scientists, motility was thought to be common among listeria closely related to L. monocytogenes, a well-known foodborne pathogen – and used as a key test in listeria detection methods. This discovery effectively calls for a rewrite of the standard identification protocols issued by food safety regulators, Carlin said.

As listeria species are often found co-existing in environments that support the growth of L. monocytogenes, food facilities will monitor for all listeria species to verify their sanitation practices.

“This paper describes some unique characteristics of listeria species that are closely related to listeria monocytogenes, which will be important from an evolutionary perspective and from a practical standpoint for the food industry,” said co-author Martin Wiedmann, the professor in food safety and food science. “Likely, some tests will need to be re-evaluated.”

Understanding the different listeria species is key to comprehending their similarities. “This will help us to get better about identifying listeria monocytogenes,” Wiedmann said, “and not misidentifying it as something else.”

Frozen chicken thingies strike again: This time Listeria

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for approximately 130,860 pounds of frozen fully cooked, diced chicken products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The frozen, fully cooked, diced chicken items were packed on Jan. 25, 2021, Jan. 26, 2021, March 23, 2021, and March 24, 2021. The following products are subject to the public health alert:

4-lb. plastic bags containing “FULLY COOKED CHICKEN MEAT ¾ DICED WHITE” with code 13530, Est. number P-18237, and pack dates of “01/25/2021” and “01/26/2021.”

4-lb. plastic bags containing “FULLY COOKED CHICKEN MEAT DARK/WHITE ¾ DICED” with code 16598, Est. number P-45638, and pack dates “24/MAR/2021” and “23/MAR/2021.”

The products bear establishment numbers “P-18237” or “P-45638” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were distributed by Big Daddy Foods, Inc., a Houston, Texas firm. These items were further distributed to consumers at local food banks in Florida through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program in individual food boxes. The products were distributed between Feb. 24, 2021 through March 1, 2021, and March 29, 2021 through April 8, 2021, at temporary locations. More distribution details can be found here: Distribution List 1 and Distribution List 2.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS inspection activities when inspection personnel observed products requiring recooking due to possible Lm contamination had been repackaged without being recooked. A subsequent FSIS investigation determined other affected product had been further distributed in commerce. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

Restaurant owner in Wales continued to serve food despite cockroach infestation

It’s been 10 years since we were in Cardiff and my father’s home of Newport, Wales, and I felt strangely at home, but maybe it was the universal speak of food safety.

A cockroach infestation was discovered in the kitchen of a Cardiff takeaway by inspectors after the owner ignored a request to deep clean the restaurant.

Flame Grillhouse, in Clare Road, Riverside, was visited by food hygiene officers from Cardiff Council where they found dead and live cockroaches in the kitchen, preparation area and front service area.

Owner Mohammed Hussain was told by pest control contractors to close his business for the building to be deep cleaned but he failed to carry out the request and carried on trading.

A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday heard customers could have been at risk of salmonella, E. coli, and typhoid fever as a result of the infestation.

Prosecutor Nik Strobl said the business had initially been given a one star hygiene rating which had been upgraded to a three star rating in 2018.

Describing the incriminating inspection, the barrister said: “There was evidence of full life cycle cockroach infestation at the business. There were live and dead cockroaches found at various stages of maturity.”

He added that despite being told about the problem, Hussain failed to undertake cleaning of his business and continued to serve food in spite of the infestation.

After the discovery, the defendant agreed to voluntarily close the restaurant and on September 3, another inspection was carried which satisfied the officers the infestation had been eradicated.

The restaurant reopened on September and currently has a four star hygiene rating as of November 6, 2019.

Defence barrister William Bebb said his client fully accepted his culpability for the infestation and wished to apologise to the court.

Sentencing, Judge Niclas Parry said: “There would have been a serious risk of public health. Salmonella, E. coli and typhoid fever can all be caused when cockroaches and human consumption cross paths.

“The matter is aggravated by you paying lip service to your obligations and you ignoring more than one warning. You were aware there was an issue but you let it fester.”

Hussain was sentenced to four months imprisonment suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work and to pay £750 in costs.

Conch alert after cases of suspected poisoning in Bahamas

Khrisna Russell of Tribune 242 reports food safety officials are cautioning against the consumption of fresh conch after several suspected cases of conch poisoning.

Several reports of conch poisoning made the rounds on social media over the past few days before the Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority issued a statement yesterday.

The authority warned consumers to avoid fresh conch until officials are able to determine the source of the contamination.

Conch poisoning is typically caused by the bacterium, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, with contamination attributed to poor hygienic practices during its handling and preparation.

Health Minister Renward Wells said there had been about 10 reported cases of conch poisoning.

Vendors should also avoid having the conch sit in the sun for long periods of time and after the conch meat is removed, it should be gutted and rinsed thoroughly under potable running water for enough time to carefully remove all the slime and debris present. Also, vendors should wash their hands before and after preparation with liquid hand soap and warm running water for 20-30 seconds.

Gloves should also be worn when preparing conch salad or other fresh preparations where further cooking is not done.

Hair nets and disposable aprons should also be worn to prevent cross contamination. Gloves should be changed regularly if they become torn or in between tasks.

Other precautions include conch salad vendors utilising separate cutting boards for slicing vegetables and the conch. Cutting boards and utensils should be cleaned and sanitised in between preparations to avoid cross contamination or the carryover of contamination between preparations.

Consumers are urged to be vigilant to ensure that wherever they are purchasing raw conch dishes, vendors are following hygienic practices. Those who purchase raw conch to prepare at home should follow these preparation steps as well.

From the duh files: Researchers say zero risk not possible in food safety

There is no such thing as zero risk when it comes to food safety, according to researchers.

Joe Whitworth of Food Safety News, writes researchers Marcel Zwietering, Alberto Garre, Martin Wiedmann and Robert Buchanan presented the study, published in Current Opinion in Food Science, at IAFP Europe.

They defined residual risk as what remains even after a fully compliant food safety system has been implemented. Every product has a residual risk but severity varies because it depends on a variety of factors such as the perspective or consequences.

Researchers gave the example of the risk of Salmonella in chocolate bars assuming contamination of one Salmonella enterica cell per 10,000 of 25,000 bars of 25-grams, and that the company produces 100,000 bars a day. Testing is limited to five samples per day, each sampling unit is a whole bar, and probability of a false negative or false positive is zero.

“The probability of detecting Salmonella in each sampling unit equals 0.01 percent, and the probability of detecting it in the product in a given day is 0.05 percent. In other words, we expect a single positive every 5.5 years. On the basis of this result, it could seem reasonable to conclude that the risk of salmonellosis is insignificant.

“However, a single cell of Salmonella enterica has a probability of causing illness that has been estimated to be 1 case per 400. Therefore, if we consider that 10 bars of the 100,000 daily production contain a single Salmonella enterica cell, the expected number of yearly cases of salmonellosis is 9.125, a value that is certainly not insignificant. Although sampling will rarely show a positive, there is clearly a residual risk.”

Bill Leiss and I wrote a book on this topic, Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk, published in 1997, explicitly stating there is no such thing as zero risk: it’s about maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks in food safety stuff.