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. »

Dumbing down: Mark Bittman is starting a food magazine at Medium

Mark Bittman is a food safety idiot.

This is nothing new, he’s been publishing his microbiological rubbish about the glories of eating raw hamburger, not using a thermometer and other shit for decades and that someone would give him a new gig is baffling.

He’ll now head up a new online magazine, Salty.

Nice title. My kidneys can’t handle that.

We’re doing practical stories that will help people see food in a way they haven’t seen it before,” said Bittman.

If I was going to reinvent myself, this would be the least creative way to go.

Salty, which is making its debut on Tuesday, will comprise recipes, stories related to food and more.

From the duh files: How well do you understand irrigation water risk management?

Doug Grant of The Packer writes food safety outbreaks have a massive effect not only on growers, but on all stakeholders throughout the fresh produce supply chain. Irrigation water has been identified over the years as a likely cause of fresh produce contamination, so it’s critical that our industry fully understands the potential risk involved and how these risks are being managed by growers.The Center for Produce Safety has numerous research projects involving irrigation water. One 2015 project titled “Evaluation of risk-based water quality sampling strategies for the fresh produce industry,” led by PI Channah Rock, Ph.D., University of Arizona, concluded that “localized environmental conditions play a large role in water quality.”

Further, that “growers must get a better understanding of their water sources through collection of water quality data and historical analysis.” Another outcome from this project was developing a computer app to provide guidance on the frequency of sampling based on risk factors (e.g. after rainfall).

Several other CPS research projects focus on predictive models for irrigation water quality, exploring the relationship between product testing and risk, reuse of tail water and evaluating alternative irrigation water quality indicators.

Let me introduce Natalie Dyenson, head of food safety and quality assurance at Dole. As you can imagine, she has a huge responsibility covering several product lines (fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and packaged salads) sourced from hundreds of growers throughout the Americas and other countries. She’s been involved with CPS for several years and takes a keen interest in new research findings.

With leafy greens as her top priority, she is still very concerned about the three romaine lettuce outbreaks during 2018. With all Dole crops, water quality risk assessment and testing are very important. Dole reviews water source (wells, reservoir, canals, etc.) and type of irrigation (foliar spray, furrow irrigation, flooding farms).
All water sources including deep wells are tested monthly, and after weather events such as wind and frost. Enhanced testing of product is done prior to harvest depending on their environmental risk assessments — for example, after an excessive rain event where potential contaminated water run-off could be introduced to the field.

Natalie said, “there is a huge potential to leverage historical water quality test data to help mitigate risk.” She’s also very interested in predictive models and is looking forward to the results of a CPS research project starting in 2019, “Development of a model to predict the impact of sediments on microbial irrigation water quality,” led by Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D, from the University of Arizona.

Previous CPS research has shown that sediments at the bottom of waterways can harbor 10 to 10,000 more fecal bacteria than surface waters. This new project will investigate the conditions where pathogens could be re-suspended in surface water and will design sampling strategies to minimize contamination to crops.

While discussing sediment in irrigation canals Natalie mentioned that it’s been observed that some non-Dole farmers are still laying irrigation intake hoses directly on the bottom of water sources (canals, ponds, etc.). A simple solution is to use a flotation device positioned so that the hose end extracts water just below the surface where there are fewer potential contaminants. While not a complete remedy to eliminate all organic matter and pathogens in the water supply, it is a simple tool to help reduce risk.

Falling down

First I started falling on my hockey skates and the was the end of my 50-year hockey career.

Then I fell off my bike a couple of times and that was the end of cyclying.

Then I started falling while walking.

My wife thinks I’m a drunk, I think I’ve taken too many pucks to the head as a goaltender in ice hockey since 1967 (the last time the Leafs won the cup), 4 years as a linebacker in North American football, the car crash and everything else.

Amy took me to emergency yesterday a.m. because she’s solid like that.

Three stiches in the ear, a couple in my forehead.

Yes, it fucking hurt.

FML.

Check out my new web site,dougsdeadflowers.com.

Bob and Doug from France: Mouse in a Coke

Aurelie Sipos of Le Parisien writes there was a mouse running through the supermarket shelves , tucked away in a baguette and now … floating in the Coca-Cola can. On March 7, Damien, 34, would have preferred not to make this new discovery. While returning home and after drinking his entire soda, this computerist is sure to have come face to face with a rodent, stuck in the can.

After an order in his usual restaurant near his work, Damien receives with his pizza a can of Coke. “I do not drink it during the meal, but on my return home,” says the young man. It detects nothing abnormal, no suspicious taste or disturbing texture. “The can finished, I empty it to prevent the bottom sinks in the trash. And there, I realize that it is not empty, “said the resident of Varenne-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Marne).

According to his story, he observes with horror that the weight of his can is due to a dead rodent. “I immediately called Coca-Cola and they spent a good quarter of an hour” (that’s French for 15 minutes). After this contact, he then receives a letter, explaining that the security of the company’s production line is total, and that it can not come from home. Damien also goes to the police station, which does not take his complaint. “They told me to find solutions on the Internet,” he says, bitter.

 

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

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.