The barf museum in Sweden

Maura Judkis of The Washington Post writes buy a ticket to the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, Sweden, and it won’t be printed on a slip of paper.

“Your ticket is a vomit bag with our logo,” said Samuel West, the museum’s founder. It’s a joke, but not really: Somewhere between the exhibit on the world’s stinkiest cheese and the free samples of fermented shark meat, someone’s stomach may turn. But, then again, the noni, an Asian fruit nicknamed the “vomit fruit,” is one of the displays. So visitors will already be acclimated to some pretty terrible smells.

Welcome to the world’s first exhibition devoted to foods that some would call revolting. The museum’s name and its contents are pretty controversial — one culture’s disgusting is another culture’s delicacy. That goes for escamoles, the tree-ant larvae eaten in Mexico, or shirako, the cod sperm eaten in Japan, or bird’s nest soup, a Chinese dish of nests made from bird saliva. The name is meant to grab visitors’ attention, but that’s the point that West says he’s trying to make: Disgust is a cultural construct.

“I want people to question what they find disgusting and realize that disgust is always in the eye of the beholder,” said West. “We usually find things we’re not familiar with disgusting, versus things that we grow up with and are familiar with are not disgusting, regardless of what it is.”

For example: Though the museum is in Sweden, he includes surströmming, an incredibly pungent fermented Swedish herring, and salt licorice, which is found throughout the Nordic nations.

Food Safety Talk 166: Surprising lack of cannibalism questions

Don and Ben traveled to SUNY Geneseo for a live version of the podcast sponsored by the Center for Integrative Learning, and hosted by the amazing Beth McCoy. The episode title comes from an unrecorded after dark which may or may not have taken place in a bar in Geneseo.

Episode 166 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home.

Food Safety Talk live in Geneseo, NY

Don and I are recording a live show tonight at SUNY Geneseo thanks to an invite from Dr. Beth McCoy. Beth has been a listener since close to the beginning. It’s always cool to find out that someone actually listens to the stuff we talk about. As I did some prep for the show, I stumbled upon a local bar and grabbed a Genny Cream Ale. The bartender saw the Food Safety Talk decal I have on my MacBook and we struck up a conversation about what it’s like to work in the back of the house of a restaurant.

My most valuable experience as a food safety person remains washing dishes in a local Guelph bar.

Sex & drugs & rock and roll.

And food safety.

We talked food safety myths, eating leftover pizza, stuff both of us have seen in the kitchen and cleaning up puke (and dragging the mop bucket back into the kitchen).

 

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:

Shirley Surgeoner — legend

When I first became a prof in 1996, Gord Surgeoner took me aside and said, stick close to the farmers.

He introduced me to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and we did some cool work.

I ran the counties of ag meetings, giving my spiel, and always knowing Gord approved.

And behind Gord was Shirley.

Shirley was always gracious, kind to my kids, and would tell me life advice like, Gord goes out and makes the life, I make the life worth living.

From my hometown of Brantford, Ontario (that’s in Canada), Shirley was in the Cockshutt family while I was firmly in the Massey-Ferguson camp.

Gord and I spent a lot of hours on the 401, I watched him practice speeches at 6 am in hotel rooms, and would say, Surgeoner, go back to bed, but Shirley was always on his mind, and he didn’t want to screw up.

Gord’s one of about three people I would drop everything for and fly halfway around the world if I thought I could be of use. The two daughters both worked with me at various times when I was in Kansas, and they each produced some cool science shit.

Here’s the official obit:

Shirley Diane Surgeoner

1948 – 2018

It is with joyful memories and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Shirley Diane Surgeoner (nee Vaughan). Shirley passed away on September 3rd at Norfolk General Hospital surrounded by her family.

Shirley was born in Brantford Ontario on February 20, 1948 to Audrey (nee Waring) and Edwin Vaughan; the oldest sister to Gary (Patsy) and Lary (Carrie). Shirley attended the University of Guelph where she graduated B.A. Sc. in 1972. She was a great advocate of the University of Guelph and the Mac-FACS-FRAN Alumni Association. Shirley received the prestigious Lincoln Alexander Medal of Distinguished Service in 2002 and the Alumni Volunteer Award in 2011.

For 45 years Shirley was the devoted wife and best friend of Gordon Surgeoner. Shirley and Gordon renovated a beautiful historic home in Fergus ON where they raised their three children: Brae (Luke), Drew (Jen) and Jade (Ben). She left behind a poem that brings us all to tears, but highlights the wonderful life she created at 169 Garafraxa St. E, “There’s a home whose rooms I know by heart. Where I tended the garden and read my books. Where dreams were dreamt and memories made. Where children grew up and I grew old. There’s a home where life was lived. A house where I belong” – Author Unknown. A loving and inspirational mother, she was also the proud grandmother of Aspen, Lily and Rilen.

Throughout her life Shirley maintained a sweet and simple demeanor that won the hearts of many. Her signature gift was that of giving. Shirley gave unconditionally to her family, friends and community. More than anything her family is grateful to her selfless years spent raising her children, supporting her husband and devotedly caring for her aging grandparents and parents. Shirley’s mantra in life was that life can provide many unexpected challenges, so enjoy every day and tell those that surround you how much you love them. She will be missed by many. Cremation has taken place at McCleister’s Funeral Home in Brantford. A celebration of Shirley’s life will be held at a later time to be announced. In her memory donations may be made to the Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus. 

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:

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 iwaspoisoned.com. 

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:

From the duh files: Human behavior and corporate culture impact on hygiene, food safety

Easy to talk about; harder to do.

Leadership and efficient communication in food companies have a large impact on hygiene and food safety, as proven by research at Ghent University.

Many food processing companies have implemented a food safety management system to comply with the severe measures to deliver hygienic and safe food. Nevertheless, consumers can be exposed to unsafe food, with food poisoning as a result.

Research at Ghent University shows that human behavior and corporate culture may have an impact on these problems.

Researchers Elien De Boeck, Prof. Liesbeth Jacxsens (faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University) and Prof. Peter Vlerick (faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University) took a closer look at food companies and their management systems.

“Food safety is often looked at from a purely technological approach”, De Boeck explains. “Many companies choose to obtain a food safety certificate merely because their customers demand it; not because they are intrinsically motivated to improve their company’s hygiene and food safety. As such, certificates risk to become merely a checklist with requirements and lose their original goal: to safeguard and improve hygiene and food safety.”

A certificate is no guarantee for safe food”, the researcher continues. “Some companies with certificates still encounter food safety problems.”

Their study shows that in many cases, food safety problems are caused by the behavior of individual employees, who are, in turn, influenced by the corporate culture with respect to food safety and hygiene.

De Boeck: “As a company, you make choices: for instance, how do we manage food safety? Is it our priority to produce safe and hygienic food, or to increase production? This organizational culture reflects on all aspects in production and processing, and on the behavior of employees. If you give employees sufficient time to do their job well, they will get the signal that quality and food safety are more important than quantity. Furthermore, stress and burn-out are clearly linked to a weak food safety culture.”

A strong leading management and efficient communication seemed crucial to realize a better food safety culture.

“Every food processing company should have strong leaders on crucial positions in the company”, De Boeck advises. “These persons have a positive influence on the behavior of individual employees.”

Also good communication is important, to make employees aware of the importance of food safety and hygiene, for example by organizing frequent food safety and hygiene training.

In certification of companies, food safety culture will become more important in the future.

“Food companies need to aim for a good food safety culture, in which every employee is aware of the importance of safe and hygienic food”, the researcher concludes.

Electrolyzed water: a pretty good review

An old friend of the blog emailed today looking for some info for someone he was working with who wanted to know about whether electrolyzed water, on it’s own, was a good replacement for sanitizers.

I came across this 2016 review paper in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

Electrolyzed Water as a Novel Sanitizer in the Food Industry: Current Trends and Future Perspectives

SME Rahman, Imran Khan, and Deog-Hwan Oh

Abstract:

Electrolyzed water (EW) has gained immense popularity over the last few decades as a novel broad-spectrum sanitizer. EW can be produced using tap water with table salt as the singular chemical additive. The application of EW is a sustainable and green concept and has several advantages over traditional cleaning systems including cost effectiveness, ease of application, effective disinfection, on-the-spot production, and safety for human beings and the environment. These features make it an appropriate sanitizing and cleaning system for use in high-risk settings such as in hospitals and other healthcare facilities as well as in food processing environments. EW also has the potential for use in educational building, offices, and entertainment venues. However, there have been a number of issues related to the use of EW in various sectors including limited knowledge on the sanitizing mechanism. AEW, in particular, has shown limited efficacy on utensils, food products, and surfaces owing to various factors, the most important of which include the type of surface, presence of organic matter, and type of tape water used. The present review article highlights recent developments and offers new perspectives related to the use of EW in various areas, with particular focus on the food industry.