3 dead, 92 hospitalized, 555 sick from raw chicken thingies in Canada

In 2005, after Chapman was afraid he’d be eaten by bears in Prince George, BC (that’s in Canada) we met with Phebus at a pub in beautiful Manhattan, Kansas, and crafted a research project idea to see how people actually cooked raw chicken thingies (maybe it was 2006, my memory is shit).

The American Meat Institute funded it, we wrote a paper (which was not our best writing), but seems sort of apt now that 555 Canadians have been laboratory confirmed with Salmonella from raw frozen chicken thingies.

Jordyn Posluns of Narcity reports:

The Public Health Agency of Canada indicated that of those affected by the salmonella outbreaks, 92 individuals were hospitalized.  Three people have also died in connection to the outbreaks.

Like many infections, salmonella doesn’t discriminate those infected by the contaminated chicken products were Canadians of a wide range of ages and of different genders.

Direct video observation of adults and tweens cooking raw frozen chicken thingies

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820

The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.

Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors. Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

 

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.

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

O. Pete Snyder, food safety rock star

My very first thermometer came as a gift from Pete.

I was a newbie graduate student, full of hubris, trying my best to figure out how to communicate food safety to food handlers in restaurants. I started making these food safety infosheets (which have morphed into other things) and Pete was a concerned reader of FSnet (which morphed into barfblog).

After posting something that I likely put together in haste, he emailed me to share exactly how and why I got something wrong. He was gruff and to the point. It made me panic. I didn’t want to look stupid, and to this guy, who I didn’t know, I looked pretty stupid.

A couple of weeks later I posted something else, and he emailed me again; same thing, I was sloppy and Pete called me on it.

The third time, he emailed he asked for our lab phone number. He called and said that he could explain C. perfringens growth so much better with a conversation. We talked for 20 min. No small talk, just microbiology and food safety.

During that call I finally got it. He wasn’t being picky, or calling me out because of his ego. He was giving me feedback because he cared. And he cared that I got things right. In that conversation we talked about good thermometers and bad thermometers, I remember it really vividly.

A couple of days later my very own Comark PDT 300 showed up unannounced in the mail.

Since then, everything I write and everything I create goes through the Pete test in my mind – like, ‘What would Pete say about this? Did I get it right?’ I’ve passed the Pete test on to my graduate students as well.

Over the past decade, Pete and I had become friends, seeing each other at IAFP or the Dubai Food Safety Conference (at both places he was a star). He was so generous with his comments and accolades and asked lots of questions about my kids.

He was always the first person to wish me a happy birthday on Facebook too.

Pete was a giant. I was saddened to hear that he passed away last week. One of the last times I saw him I told him about the Pete test. He just chuckled and just wanted to talk microbiology. That’s the kind of guy he was.

I used my Comark PDT 300 on our dinner tonight and thought about Pete.

Oscar ‘Peter’ Snyder, Jr.

Snyder, Oscar Jr. ‘Peter’ Age 89 of Shoreview, passed away March 1, 2019 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Born in Washington, DC on February 23, 1930, Pete grew up primarily on the east coast and especially enjoyed vacationing at the family lake cottage in Beaver Lake, NJ. He was a career Army officer, with overseas assignments in Germany, Korea and Vietnam. He retired as a Lt. Col. after 22 years of service. He was a Bronze Star and Legion of Merit recipient. In 1974, he became an Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, and then in 1982 he founded the Hospitality Institute of Technology & Management (HITM), a food safety training, education & consulting firm. He was a passionate, lifetime proponent of safe food handling and the HACCP method of food preparation for organizations around the world. He especially enjoyed photography, traveling throughout Europe, and the music of Dave Brubeck. Pete also spent many years volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America and as an usher & lay reader at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. He is preceded in death by his parents, Oscar & Louise, and sister Jane. Survived by wife of 59 years, Ella and sons, Tom (Anne), Scott (Lesley), Chris (Dawnette); grandchildren: Griffin (Andrea), Ryan, Andrew, Camille, Jasmine and great-granddaughter, Faith. Memorial service 11:00 am, Saturday, March 9, 2019, at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church with visitation one hour prior. Memorials in lieu of flowers to St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 2300 N. Hamline Ave, Roseville, MN 55113; Feeding Tomorrow – IFT Foundation, 525 W. Van Buren, Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60607; or IAFP Foundation, 6200 Aurora Ave, Suite 200W, Des Moines, IA 50322.

An ode to my other dad, Ken Murray

My friend, mentor, patron and lab Godfather, Ken Murray, died on Saturday, aged 95.

I’m going to inter-splice some personal notes with the official obituary, and this may not be the best writing because I am flooded with memories, but here it is (that’s Ken’s head in the middle of my 2005 lab, where we had gathered at their place, and I slept there because stalker girlfriend was on the loose).

After a long full life, lived with purpose and generosity, Ken Murray died peacefully in Guelph at Hospice Wellington in his 95th year on Saturday March 2, 2019. He is survived by his wife Marilyn, his daughters Susan Pearce (Richard) and Leslie Harwood (Fred), his grandchildren Andrew Harwood (Kristin) and Lauren Harwood, and his great grandson James Murray Harwood.

He was only at the hospice for a couple of days.

He is lovingly remembered by Marilyn’s children and the extended Robinson family. Ken was predeceased by his first wife Helen Volker (1995), his brother Donald (Margaret), sister Jean Shetler (Elmer) and parents George Murray and Vera Irwin. 

A son of the manse, Ken was born in 1924 in Chatham Ontario and grew up in small town Ontario – Buxton, Newbury, Zephyr and Keene. After serving two years in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War he enrolled in the Ontario Agricultural College in 1946, married Helen Volker from Kitchener in 1948 and graduated in 1950 with a BSc (Agriculture). His first job was as a salesman for J.M Schneider Inc. in Kitchener, and he retired in 1987 as president.

Wait, that’s modest. The dude was president of J.M. Schneider Inc. in Kitchener, Ontario (that’s in Canada) and both Ken and the company were pillars of the community, and Canada.

My ex and I lived on Queen St. in Kitchener, not far from Schneider’s, for seven years, and just down the road from the Schneider historical house (and there he is, far right, in this 2002 lab photo).

Schneider (which was swallowed by Maple Leaf in 2003) and Seagram in neighbouring Waterloo (which is now a museum) were essential for the surrounding agricultural areas in the mid-20th century to convert their commodities into products people wanted: booze and meat.

I first met Ken and Marilyn in 1995.

Someone at the University of Guelph said Ken Murray would like to meet with you.

In 1995, I was a cocky PhD student and about to be a father for the fourth time.

I rode my bike to a local golf club, met the former long-time president of Schneiders Meats, and established a lifelong friendship.

Fairly fancy surroundings, reminding me of my caddy days at the Brantford Golf and Country Club, where the caddies weren’t allowed in the Club but were allowed out on the course for a round before 8 a.m. on Mondays (I lived the movie, Caddyshack).

Within moments, Ken and I were talking about our families who had suffered from Alzheimer’s – his wife, my grandfather – the effect on others and how accommodation could be bettered.

It was a special moment, that had nothing to do with surroundings and everything to do with compassion and curiosity.

Ken had heard I might know something of science-and-society stuff.

Ken shared his frustration that food irradiation had not been approved for meats in Canada, and was curious about my interests in the intersections between science and society (by that time I had been teaching engineering students at the University of Waterloo in science, technology and values for five years; keeping 100 engineering students engaged in a 3-hour night class they didn’t want to take was a fabulous learning experience, for me).

Ken funded my faculty position at the University of Guelph for the first two years.

Sure, other weasels at Guelph tried to appropriate the money, but Ken would have none of it.

For over 20 years now, I’ve tried to promote Ken’s vision, of making the best technology available to enhance the safety of the food supply.

Following retirement, Ken played a leadership role for more than 20 years at the Homewood Health Centre, serving as President and Chair, creating the Homewood Foundation and sitting on the Homewood Research Institute Board (that’s me and Ken and Marilyn when I was awarded aggie extension-type of the year in 2003)

Raising beef cattle was a favorite pastime for Ken, both on his home farm in North Dumfries Township and later in Bruce County.

Ken lived his life following the example of his minister father. He loved and was proud of his family. He was committed to the communities where he lived. He believed in giving back. He revelled in meeting new people. He found joy in supporting local causes and participating in their activities and special events. 

He was an active church member in the communities where he lived: Trinity United, Kitchener; Knox United, Ayr; Ellis Pioneer Chapel, Puslinch Twp and Harcourt Memorial United, Guelph.

Many organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and beyond benefitted from his leadership and support. The Universities of Guelph, Waterloo and Laurier have all benefitted from Ken’s generous spirit, particularly his support for student scholarships and awards and he has received numerous honors and awards in recognition of those contributions.

He received honorary degrees from the University of Waterloo (1995) and the University of Guelph (1996). And one of his proudest moments was in 2001 when he became a member of the Order of Canada.
In 1996, Ken married Marilyn Robinson, who has been his soulmate and loving partner for more than 22 years. Together they continued their love of volunteering, travelling and connecting with family and friends. 

When my ex and I moved into our newly-built house in Guelph in 1997, Marilyn showed up to our open house and I said, where’s Ken?

He’s on his way.

About 30 minutes later Ken showed up, driving his lawn mower with a load of firewood on the trailer.

When Lester Crawford, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, camped with us for a couple of days in Guelph, Ken was there, asking questions.

When the Listeria outbreak hit Maple Leaf in 2008, in which 23 died, I asked Ken, any ideas?

Ken reminded me how he used to walk the Schneider’s plant every morning, talk to every employee, just like the best university presidents do instead of being locked away in some ivory tower, and he said, I always worried about those slicers.

The deadly Listeria was found hidden deep in those industrial slicers at other Maple Leaf plants.

But Ken (and Marilyn) seemed most delighted hanging out with the various characters in my lab (older version, left).

Ken had a curiosity and a genuine interest in the human condition, whatever one’s status, that is foundational and resonates with me.

A colleague said that Ken viewed me as a son.

I read that, I cried, and thought I could never be worthy enough.

That colleague wrote back, “Doug, being a son has nothing to do with worthiness, but, rather, love. However, you did him proud and never doubt that. If we start looking for faults, we all have long lists.”

I was so proud to know him,

And to continue to share with Marilyn.

A celebration of Ken’s life will take place at Harcourt Memorial United Church, 87 Dean Ave., Guelph on Saturday, March 30 at 1 pm. Burial will take place at a later date at the Ayr Cemetery, Ayr Ontario.
In lieu of flowers and in memory of Ken, please consider a donation to the Ken Murray Fund at the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, Harcourt Memorial United Church, Guelph or Hospice Wellington. Cards are available at Gilbert MacIntyre & Son Funeral Home, 1099 Gordon St., Guelph (519) 821-5077, or donations and condolences may be made at www.gilbertmacintyreandson.com

Ken and I are landlubbers, not sailors, but this song resonates.

Did health-types get it wrong or a Canberra court: Ricardo’s Café cleared of Salmonella charges

The owner of a popular Canberra cafe has had charges against him dropped, relating to a salmonella outbreak that saw more than 100 people fall ill in 2017, and has also escaped conviction on an unrelated charge.

The owner of Ricardo’s, Rick DeMarco, 32, was cleared of the most serious charges spanning from an investigation in February 2017, which began after customers complained of food poisoning on social media.

The restaurant in Jamison was immediately closed after the reports and, in a statement at the time, Mr DeMarco admitted salmonella was found on a used dishcloth and tea towel, but nothing was found in any food or on any cafe equipment.

Hello? Cross-contamination? Epidemiology?

The ACT chief magistrate Lorraine Walker did not record a conviction against De Marco, after he pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with the food standards code.

However, the chief magistrate said there was no correlation between Mr De Marco’s plea of guilty to the individual charge and the salmonella outbreak.

The single charge against Mr De Marco related to breaches discovered by health inspectors. These were uncovered containers of food in a refrigerator and a single-use container being reused.

However, while the food was kept inappropriately, Mr De Marco’s defence barrister Jack Pappas noted the food was kept at the required temperature in the refrigerator.

He added that Mr De Marco’s two businesses, Ricardo’s Cafe and Space Kitchen in Woden, were significant contributors to the local economy by employing about 50 people and training apprentices.

Ms Walker said that the instances were not at the lowest end of offending, “they were pretty close”.

Ms Walker said it was an instance where, due to the nature of the breach and Mr De Marco’s good character, it was appropriate to not record a conviction.

There were 75 cases of salmonella confirmed by ACT Health during the outbreak in February 2017, with some people requiring hospitalisation.

Smell the glove: Americans don’t understand food date labels and surveys still suck

Note to journalists (if there are any left): Don’t reprint PR fluff like it’s news and don’t bury the lede.

“A good way to test your food is also a simple way: give it a sniff,” says Roni Neff, PhD. “If the date says ‘best by’ and it looks and smells okay, it’s probably okay to eat.”

Probably is not good enough, and smell is a lousy indicator of food safety.

A new survey examining U.S. consumer attitudes and behaviors related to food date labels found widespread confusion, leading to unnecessary discards, increased waste and food safety risks. The survey analysis was led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), which is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

This study calls attention to the issue that much food may be discarded unnecessarily based on food safety concerns, though relatively few food items are likely to become unsafe before becoming unpalatable. Clear and consistent date label information is designed to help consumers understand when they should and should not worry.

Among survey participants, the research found that 84 percent discarded food near the package date” occasionally” and 37 percent reported that they “always” or “usually” discard food near the package date. Notably, participants between the ages of 18 to 34 were particularly likely to rely on label dates to discard food. More than half of participants incorrectly thought that date labeling was federally regulated or reported being unsure. In addition, the study found that those perceiving labels as reflecting safety and those who thought labels were federally regulated were more willing to discard food.

New voluntary industry standards for date labeling were recently adopted. Under this system, “Best if used by” labels denote dates after which quality may decline but the products may still be consumed, while “Use by” labels are restricted to the relatively few foods where safety is a concern and the food should be discarded after the date. Previously, all labels reflected quality and there was no safety label.

Neff and colleagues found that among labels assessed, “Best if used by” was most frequently perceived as communicating quality, while “use by” was one of the top two perceived as communicating safety. But many had different interpretations.

Lead author, Roni Neff, PhD, who directs the Food System Sustainability Program with the CLF and is an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering said, “The voluntary standard is an important step forward. Given the diverse interpretations, our study underlines the need for a concerted effort to communicate the meanings of the new labels. We are doing further work to understand how best to message about the terms.”

How best to message about the terms? Maybe use language properly.

Using an online survey tool, Neff and colleagues from Harvard University and the National Consumers League assessed the frequency of discards based on date labels by food type, interpretation of label language and knowledge of whether date labels are regulated by the federal government. The survey was conducted with a national sample of 1,029 adults ages 18 to 65 and older in April of 2016. Recognizing that labels are perceived differently on different foods, the questions covered nine food types including bagged spinach, deli meats and canned foods.

When consumers perceived a date label as an indication of food safety, they were more likely to discard the food by the provided date. In addition, participants were more likely to discard perishable foods based on labels than nonperishables.

But dates can be a lousy indicator: I’ve got deli meat in the fridge with a use by label about 2 weeks from now, yet once that package is opened, the stuff is good for 2-4 days. Publix gets it right.

Smell, like color, is a lousy indicator of food safety.

Probably because they weren’t on maps: Disgusted NZ Pizza Hut staff quit over food safety fears

The Otago Daily Times reports that three Dunedin Pizza Hut workers have resigned in protest after “disgusting” actions by a franchise owner who allegedly served expired food that had been thrown in a skip, extended expiry dates of chicken and seafood and refused to fix a broken mixer that leaked engine oil into dough.

New Zealand fast-food company Restaurant Brands said it was aware of the issues and was working through them as a “matter of urgency”. The Ministry for Primary Industries is also investigating.

The franchise owner has denied the claims.

I have no ill-feelings to NZ and my food safety brethren, others may not.

Food Safety Talk 176: Bug Book

The show opens with a discussion about privacy, whether you should cover the microphone on your computer, or how you can scare your kids using Alexa. The guys talked briefly about what they’re watching, Ben’s trip to Athens Georgia, and celebrity feet. From there the show moves into listener feedback talking about the safety of eating Canadian seaweed. Listener feedback makes a interesting segue into failure, and the things we can learn from it. The show returns to listener feedback with a discussion about citrus safety and infused water. For some reason Don wants to talk about smoke detectors, before returning again to listener feedback and “Contamination Corner”, and ways to learn about stuff you don’t know about (like filibusters). Ben and Don talk about an interview that Don did for Cooking Light, before Don wants to talk about fixing his broken software. Ben ends the show with a long discussion regarding safe cooking directions for frozen vegetables, and why no one can agree.

This episode is available at foodsafetytalk.com or on iTunes.

 

Show notes so you can follow along at home are below:

Food Safety Fairytales: My life is an open book

I’ve always done the open stuff, where I put myself out there for criticism or praise or something else, 5 new chapters added, when people reminded me of things.

Anyone else wanna chip in?

Food safety is simple         Powell

Just cook it                            Powell

BSE                                      Bert

Cyclospora                                                                Ron (??)

Food safety programs ensure food safety                        Chapman

Training ensures safe food                                     Mancini

Five-second rule                                                       Schaffner

Sprouts are a health food                                       Powell

Cold-cuts should be served in aged care             Powell

Cantaloupe is a health food                                   Powell/Chapman

Labels are a meaningful way of communicating             Celia/Powell

Pasteurized products are safe                                Powell

Lettuce and leafy greens are a health food          Powell

Pet food is cooked and safe                                                Hammlet

Petting zoos are fun                                                 Erdozain

Piping hot is a food safety strategy                      Powell

Handwashing                                                           Michele

Celebrity chefs know food safety                          Powell

Raw is safe                                                                Powell