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.

Blockchain won’t stop this: Walmart manager fined $40,000 for selling contaminated food after Fort McMurray wildfire

David Thurton of CBC reports that  Walmart Canada and its district loss prevention manager were fined $20,000 each after pleading guilty Monday to 10 charges of selling contaminated food following the May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. 

The retailer has also agreed to donate $130,000 to the Red Cross.

The retail giant and Darren Kenyon pleaded guilty in Fort McMurray provincial court.

“Unfortunately, during the confusion of the unprecedented 2016 wildfire crisis in Alberta, we didn’t adequately carry out an order from Alberta Health to dispose of certain food items in the Fort Mac store prior to reopening,” Walmart said Monday in a statement attributed to Rob Nicol, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs.

“For this, we sincerely apologize to our customers and Alberta Health. Food safety and the safety of our customers is our top priority. We have learned from this experience and will be better able to respond in future crises to support the community. As part of our commitment, Walmart has recently made a donation to the Red Cross to support ongoing disaster preparedness, relief and recovery operations.”

Walmart and Kenyon admitted to displaying, storing and selling food that was not fit for human consumption after the wildfire.

The food included pickles, beef jerky, spices, pretzels, mints, stuffing mixes, vinegar, salad dressings, corn starch and yeast.

Everyone has a camera Pakistan grape edition: Fruit seller is filmed spray painting green grapes red days after Brit aunt became seriously ill eating them

Jay Akbar of The Sun, writes this is the moment a fruit seller was caught spray painting green grapes red just days after a British tourist fell sick eating his wares.

Layla Khan, 23, filmed the dodgy vendor in the village of Afzalpur, Pakistan, after her aunt ate his grapes and contracted diarrhea.

She was shocked to find the merchant crouched behind a stall using a can of Win spray paint to dye the fruit.

The middle-aged man smirked when he noticed the camera, before placing the grapes in a pile of painted fruit on the ground.

The seller, who had red paint on his hands, did not react when questioned in the video by Layla, a carer from Birmingham.

She said: “Tourists need to keep their eyes open and be very careful in street markets like this.

“You can easily be exploited and it is very dangerous for your health. This man does not care that he is feeding people poison and it left my aunt very ill.

“When we confronted him he said ‘Everyone is doing it’ – and smirked. I saw many British people walking around – it’s a spot that is popular with tourists and a busy area.

“My aunt had fallen ill for two days with diarrhea and sickness but had only eaten grapes from a man on the street.

“My cousin and I were shopping and we decided to visit – there were street vendors selling all sorts of food like kebabs, samosas, fruit and coconuts.

“Tourists need to open their eyes and see what they are buying – you’d have to be blind to miss him spraying them in the street.

“Go to a supermarket to buy food to be safe – the grapes cost more but it’s worth it.”

Layla said she reported the incident to the local police force who have been approached for comment.

 

Going public: FDA to disclose retailer information for certain food recalls to improve consumer safety

Americans depend on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help ensure that the foods they buy and consume are safe.

No they don’t. Food safety is faith-based.

When we learn that potentially dangerous food products may be available in the U.S. marketplace, we must move quickly and efficiently to remove these food products from the market.

Our teams routinely work with food producers on voluntary recalls, and when necessary and where applicable, mandate recalls in order to keep people from getting sick or being harmed. We recognize that an important part of the recall process is also arming consumers with actionable information that they can use to avoid potentially contaminated food products. We’re committed to providing consumers with more information to take these actions. This is an area where we see more opportunity to improve the FDA’s role in protecting public health. To promote these goals, we’re advancing an important new policy.

When a food recall is initiated, the FDA typically works with companies to publicize labeling information, product descriptions, lot numbers, as well as photographs and geographic or retail-related distribution information. The aim is to enable consumers to identify whether they have the recalled product and take appropriate actions. That often includes discarding the product or returning it to the place of purchase.

The agency has not traditionally released lists of specific retailers where recalled foods may have been purchased. This is because certain supply chain information is confidential between the supplier and retailer. Moreover, in most cases, information publicized by the recalling company is sufficient to allow consumers to identify and avoid recalled product. But there are some cases where additional information about the retailers selling potentially harmful product may be key to protecting consumers such as when the food is not easily identified as being subject to a recall from its retail packaging and the food is likely to be available for consumption. It is particularly important in situations where the product has already been linked to foodborne illness. In these situations, providing retailer information can help consumers more quickly and accurately recognize recalled product and take action to avoid the product or seek assistance if they’ve already been exposed.

We recognize the importance of providing consumers with actionable information related to recalled food products. That’s why today the FDA issued new draft guidance that describes situations when disclosing retail information for products undergoing recalls is appropriate. The draft guidance outlines the circumstances when the FDA intends to make public the retail locations that may have sold or distributed a recalled human or animal food. These circumstances will particularly apply in situations associated with the most serious recalls, where consumption of the food has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.

Based on this new policy, moving forward the FDA intends to publicize retail consignee lists for food recalls when the food is not easily identified as being subject to a recall from its retail packaging, or lack thereof, and if the food is likely to be available for consumption. Some examples of this may include foods sold directly to consumers with no universal product code or UPC, or bar code. This might include deli cheese, nuts, rawhide chews, or pet treats sold in bulk and fresh fruits and vegetables sold individually.

The new draft guidance also states that the FDA may disclose retail consignee lists in certain recall situations, including when a recalled food is related to a foodborne illness outbreak and where the information is most useful to consumers. For example, the FDA might release retailer information for a packaged food that was distributed in a particular geographic region or through a particular online retailer if providing that information could help consumers protect their health and wellbeing from a recalled food potentially purchased at one of these establishments.

In recent months, we’ve already begun taking actions that align with this approach.

For example, this summer the agency released detailed retail distribution information by state during a recall of pre-cut melon associated with an outbreak of Salmonella infections so consumers could better identify where the recalled food may have been purchased. The draft guidance released today, provides greater transparency on our intention to regularly use this approach in these and other scenarios.

We believe that providing retailer information for certain recalls will also improve the efficiency of recalls by helping the public to identify and focus on the foods that are recalled. It’s important to note that in sharing this information, the FDA may also not be able to fully verify the accuracy or completeness of the information it receives from recalling companies or distributors, and information may change over time.

Identifying retail locations can be complex. It can involve obtaining information from multiple parts of the supply chain, including the recalling company and intermediate distributors. But we also know this information can be very important to consumers. Knowing where a recalled product was sold during the most dangerous food recalls can be the difference between a consumer going to the hospital or not. While we can’t prevent every illness, we can make sure we provide information to consumers to prevent more people from becoming sick from a recalled or hazardous food product.

Chapman told USA Today that, “We can never become too vigilant when talking about food safety. We’re talking about 48 million cases of food-borne illnesses a year and that estimate being stable over the last 10 years. There are lots of ways for improvement.”

He said he personally shops at numerous grocery stores for his family, so he doesn’t always remember where he buys what, especially unmarked items, such as sweet potatoes and onions.

The FDA plan to cite specific retailers “can trigger that ‘Oh, I did shop at these places. Maybe I need to start looking,’ ” Chapman said.

Nice to see Chapman stepping up to fill the gap I left. But he still needs me to write it up.

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

Wrong, wrong, wrong: EFSA conference closes with theme ‘Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate’

Committees do not come up with ideas.

They can be stifling, and the one benefit I have for getting fired as a university professor (because I followed a girl) is that I never have to attend another faculty meeting.

What a waste of salary, ego and hubris.

The main message for me was ‘collaborate, collaborate, collaborate’, because it is not enough to have good science,” said Bernhard Url, EFSA’s Executive Director, following the agency’s conference, Science, Food, Society.

He added that the conference had exceeded his expectations and he was “still overwhelmed by the breadth and diversity of the views” he had heard.

Dr Url was speaking at the end of the four-day event in Parma, Italy, which was attended by more than 1,100 delegates from around the world and followed by another 800 via live video link.

Discussions roamed across a range of issues, from new horizons in risk assessment science to engaging and communicating with society and developing expertise for the future.

And the bullshit goes on.

Try to make fewer people barf.

That is a worthy goal.

‘I look just like Mary Tyler Moore’ Now the Germans are copying us

Regarding peer-reviewed papers about cooking shows and food safety and something about integrity: There’s a lot of hucksters out there – especially in academia.

I’ve articulated where the idea came from (my father), how we set out to do the research in 2002, how the Canadian Food Network loved us and then threatened to sue us.

I’m, uh, unaffiliated, so sue away.

The rest of youse are posers, but at least the Germans cited us.

Which sorta freaks me out, given that my infant father had his surrounding landscape bombed away in Newport, Wales, in 1940 (some of my relatives may have owned the Red Lion, no one really wants to talk about it).

Since a few years, cooking shows have enjoyed great popularity in Germany. Currently, about 60 different formats are broadcasted on German television. In the field of food preparation and nutrition, they represent a significant passive source of information. This study aims to assess food safety practices in German TV cooking shows and to identify potential differences between professional and amateur chefs.

With the help of an observational sheet, three trained evaluators examined 100 episodes of eight popular TV cooking shows. On average, the evaluators observed 1.2 hygiene mistakes per minute or one hygiene lapse every 50 seconds. The most common mistakes include the use of unwashed cutting boards, adding ingredients with unwashed hands and wiping dirty hands with tea towels.

A lack of handwashing before beginning food preparation and after coughing, sneezing, wiping the nose or sweat or touching their hair, eyes, etc. was also frequently observed. No significant differences between professional and amateur chefs were found for the overall frequency of food safety mistakes, but professional chefs more often complied with specific personal hygiene measures.

Findings suggest that little attention is paid to safe food handling practices in German TV cooking shows. However, they may be particularly suited to convey safe food handling practices to a broad audience, not least because of their popularity.

 

 

Food safety behavior observed in German TV cooking shows

17.sep.18

Food Control https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.09.017

JasminGeppert, Sarah SchulzeStruchtrup, RainerStamminger, ClaudiaHaarhoff, VolkerEbert, SeverineKoch, MarkLohmann, Gaby-FleurBöl

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713518304705

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.

‘Better think about the consequence of (temperature abuse) actions’ Over 700 sick from C. perfringens at one Chipotle

Chipotle’s head of food safety, Jim Marsden, has been conspicuously silent after at least 647 patrons at a single Chipotle restaurant in Powell (no relation), Ohio, were sickened with Clostridium perfringens.

As one of my colleagues said, Preventing C. perfringens is kind of like food safety 101. They must’ve had a massive temperature abuse situation.

In response, CEO Brian Niccol said Chipotle will start retraining all restaurant employees on food safety and wellness protocols next week.

Uh-huh.

#MeToo