Authorities shut Mecca restaurant after 18 suffer food poisoning

Gulf News reports 18 people suffered food poisoning after they were served at a famous restaurant in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, prompting authorities to close it down.

Municipal authorities in Mecca shut down the restaurant in line with a related decision from the Ministry of Municipal and Village Affairs that cited a health report blaming the eatery for the incident.

The restaurant has been closed down for one month with a name-to-shame notice posted on its front, saying the shutdown was due to food poisoning.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has stepped up inspection tours of commercial establishments nationwide to ensure compliance with health rules, including precautions against COVID-19.

Sewage leak and mouse droppings at takeaway in south London

Tristan Kirk of MSN writes a south London takeaway has been shut down after inspectors discovered a mouse infestation and raw sewage on the kitchen floor (that’s late 1980s great hair, right).

Chicken wings were being defrosted in the filthy kitchen at Dallas Chicken & Ribs despite sewage leaking from broken drain pipes, Wimbledon magistrates’ court heard.

A routine inspection by Wands­worth council uncovered used toilet paper on the floor, mouse droppings at the back of the kitchen and on a chopping board and ­“visible faecal matter” coming from the drains.

Environmental health official David Stupples, who served a prohibition notice on the business last week, told the court: “We found that there was an imminent risk to public health. It was flooded with raw sewage, including visible faecal matter.

“The drain pipes could be seen emanating with raw sewage, there was also evidence of mice droppings in the rear section of the kitchen.”

He supplied photos of the filth, including a dirty mop bucket containing sewage next to the sink where the chicken wings were being defrosted.

Referring to the photos shown to magistrates, Mr Stupples said: “Faecal matter was visible in the sewage and there was faecal matter around the working area.”

 

Everyone’s got a camera: Restaurants in China edition

Workers at two popular restaurant chains in China have been caught on undercover video reusing leftover food scraps and handling meals with filthy hands, according to a report.

Man Ling restaurant, which has 1,000-plus locations throughout China and markets itself as “healthy,” issued an apology to the public after the scandalous video emerged. 

Joshua Rhett Miller of the New York Post reported employees were filmed using leftover food to cook congee – a classic Chinese rice porridge – as well as other revolting practices, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday. They were also nabbed placing their unwashed hands on the grub. 

One employee even pulled out pork ribs from a pot of leftover soup and used them to cook Chinese yam and meat congee for other diners, according to the report.

“Yeah, it’s leftover,” a Man Ling worker told the undercover reporter from Fujian Television when asked if there was any food safety issue. 

“It’s OK to cook again.”

Man Ling, renowned for its cut-price offerings, sells more than 180 million bowls of congee each year, according to one food ordering data analysis app. 

Its store in Fuzhou, in southeastern China, was shut down earlier this week following the scandal, and the chain apologized Monday for “disappointing” its customers, according to the South China Morning Post.

Public health inspectors in Saudi Arabia

Background: Every year about 600 million –—almost 1 in 10 people in the world –—fall ill after eating unsafe food, and more than 400,000 people die. Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) perform important roles and have numerous responsibilities in efficiently protecting public health from foodborne illnesses (FBIs). Some of these roles and responsibilities include undertaking food safety assessments, enforcing local food safety legislation, and providing support to food establishments (i.e., restaurants) regarding the minimization of food safety risks. The processes of qualifying and training PHIs, and ensuring timely addressing of their professional needs are essential for the successful and safe development of the food industry in any country. At the same time, there is a significant knowledge gap in the food safety area in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Saudi Arabia, which is related to the lack of a detailed understanding of the major issues preventing, or interfering with, the implementation and improvement of a food safety inspection approach.

Purpose: There are two key approaches towards food safety inspection at the food establishments across the globe —the traditional approach and the risk-based (modern) approach. The traditional approach typically focuses on reactive measures towards problems once they have been identified. In contrast, the risk-based approach recommended for adoption by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a more proactive character, whereby it attempts to identify and address food safety issues before they actually become a public threat. The transition of Saudi Arabia to the risk-based food safety approach raises important questions about the professional needs of the Saudi PHI workforce for and during such a transition. Therefore, guided by the Knowledge-to-Action (KTA) framework, the aim Page | v of this Thesis was to identify the knowledge and skills needs of the PHIs in Riyadh to conduct risk-based food inspections, including any barriers and factors that may influence the effectiveness of the inspection process.

Methods” This research was conducted in two phases using both qualitative (phase 1) and quantitative (phase 2) methods and utilising a sequential exploratory design. In the first phase, seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with four PHIs, two senior Environmental Health Mangers (EHMs) and the Coordinator of the Food Safety Diploma. The reason for the inclusion of the EHMs and the Coordinator in phase 1 was to obtain different perspectives. Then, the information gathered from these interviews and the knowledge and skills framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), were used to inform the development of the survey in the second phase. A survey was deemed to be a best fit in the current study to capture a large cohort of PHIs’ perceptions. A total of 502 PHIs were invited to participate in phase 2 and 301 completed and submitted it, resulting in a 60% response rate. Findings Results revealed that the levels of formal qualification of PHIs in Riyadh are significantly lower than in other developed and developing countries. Female PHIs typically have lower levels of knowledge and skills compared to their male counterparts. In addition, according to the conducted qualitative (Phase 1) and quantitative (Phase 2) investigations, the majority of participants demonstrated only limited levels of understanding and knowledge about Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles, food sampling techniques, food microbiology and the English language as a communication tool with restaurant staff.

Resuls: Leading towards the anticipated transition to risk-based food inspections in Saudi Arabia, special attention was focused on the professional needs of PHIs and issues that influence their performance, including on-going professional training. In particular, deficiencies in regular training and in the overall training arrangements to PHIs were also demonstrated by the current study. Additionally, lack of job satisfaction was another major finding of the study, with the highest levels of dissatisfaction being expressed with regard to motivation at the workplace, and the lack of support and security provided by the management. It was also found that a large proportion of PHIs in Riyadh regarded the existing food safety laws and regulations are generally inadequate and not sufficiently clear. These were the issues constituting the greatest perceived obstacles for the effective performance of PHIs and an effective transition toward the risk-based inspection approach in Riyadh. In addition, the obtained outcomes could also be generalised to other regions of Saudi Arabia and possibly, other GCC countries.

 

Investigating Riydah’s public health inspectors’ ability to conduct risk-based food inspection, and their professional needs, 2021

Queensland University of Technology

Sultan Abdullah Alsaleh

https://eprints.qut.edu.au/208321/1/Sultan%20Abdullah%20R_Alsaleh_Thesis.pdf

Models for efficacy of restaurant inspections

Restaurant health inspections aim at identifying health violations and shall reduce the risk that restaurant visitors suffer from foodborne illness. Nevertheless, regulatory authorities’ resources are limited, so an efficient mechanism that supports scheduling of health inspections is necessary.

We build upon information efficiency theory and investigate whether information extracted from online review platforms is useful to predict restaurant health violations. Furthermore, we examine how the expectation disconfirmation bias impacts classification performance. Analyzing a large sample of health inspections, corresponding online reviews and restaurant visitor data, we propose and evaluate different predictive models.

We find that classifiers specifically taking into account information from online review platforms outperform different baseline approaches. We thus show that online reviews encompass private information indicating strong information efficiency. Furthermore, we observe that the expectation disconfirmation bias has an influence on classification performance in case of restaurants with a low star rating and with a poor inspection history. An ensemble classifier can help to mitigate this influence. Thus, online review platforms contain relevant information to predict future health violations. Our results are highly relevant for regulatory authorities, restaurant visitors and restaurant owners.

Leveraging online review platforms to support public policy; Predicting restaurant health violations based on online reviews

Decision Support Systems

Michael Siering

ttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2020.113474

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167923620302293

Disgusting face, disease-ridden place? Emoji influence on the interpretation of restaurant inspection reports

Every year, millions of Americans get sick from foodborne illness and it is estimated half of all reported instances occur at restaurants. To protect the public, regulators are encouraged to conduct restaurant inspections and disclose reports to consumers. However, inspection reporting format is inconsistent and typically contains information unclear to most consumers who often misinterpret the inspection results. Additionally, consumers are increasingly searching for this information in a digital context. Limited research explores inspection reports as communication tools.

Using affect-as-information and ELM as theoretical frameworks, this experiment investigated how discrete emotions (e.g., disgust) conveyed through pictorial cues (i.e., emojis) influenced consumers’ processing of inspection reports. Participants, recruited from Amazon’s MTurk, were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions in a 3 (emoji: smiling vs. disgusted vs. none) x 2 (violation level: low vs. high) between-subjects design. Then, participants completed a questionnaire regarding perceptions and cognitive processing of the message.

Results revealed that, compared to text, disgusted face emoji increased risk perceptions and avoidance behavior. In terms of emotion, smiling face emoji motivated participants to feel more emotions related to sanitation. In turn, positive feelings decreased elaboration likelihood. As predicted by ELM, involvement also predicted elaboration, such that participants who were highly involved with inspection reports elaborated more than those less involved. Involvement also moderated the relationship between emoji presented and elaboration. Practical implications are also discussed.

Disgusting face, disease-ridden place?: Emoji influence on the interpretation of restaurant inspection reports

Health Communication, 18 August 2020

Elizabeth Ray and Patrick Merle

https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2020.1802867

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2020.1802867

Three sushi restaurants closed after Food Safety Authority discover they were being run from the bedroom of a house

Another reason not to like sushi

Eoghan Moloney of the Independent writes three unregistered online sushi restaurants were ordered to close by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) after it was found they were being run from a bedroom of a house in Dublin.

Koi Sushi, Nagoya Sushi and Kyoto Sushi takeaway restaurants were all registered to the same address of a house in the Santry area of Dublin and were ordered to close after the FSAI found them in breach of numerous laws around food and food safety.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI expressed particular concern at the conditions in which the high-risk sushi products were being stored in.

Dr Byrne said the conditions in which the Sushi restaurants were operating in “posed a grave and immediate danger” to consumer health.

“Running a food business that has not been registered and is therefore, not supervised is totally unacceptable and poses a very serious risk to consumers’ health.

“In these instances, the unregistered businesses were producing sushi without any hygiene or temperature controls. Sushi is a very high-risk product because it contains raw fish which must be kept chilled to reduce the growth of dangerous bacteria. It can also contain cooked rice, which is a ready-to-eat product that must be kept chilled.

“In these instances, the absence of a food safety management system, no monitoring of the cold chain and no evidence of traceability of raw ingredients posed a grave and immediate danger to consumer health,” Dr Byrne said.

The FSAI closure orders on the premises detail how food was being produced, processed and distributed in an unsatisfactory and unclean environment.

There was an absence of safe practice when handling raw fish and cooked rice, it says, with the enforcement order noting a lack of access to hand washing facilities in the ‘food prep’ area. There was also no access to hot water, which posed “a serious risk to public health.”

‘My five-year-old son died with E. coli after eating infected meat at school. He would have been 21 this year’

I’m sorry I missed this story in Wales Online from Sept. 13, 2020, as I was doing my own recovering.

Cathy Owen writes that Sharon Jeffreys dreads this time of year.

As children return for the start of the school year, she relives what happened to her family 15 years ago over and over, and over again.

It was only two weeks into the start of the school year at Deri Primary in 2005 when her eldest son Chandler came home with stomach pains and the beginning of a nightmare for the young family.

Chandler had contracted E. coli O157 after eating contaminated food that had been supplied to the school by a local butcher.

But worse was to come after his younger brother Mason also became ill with the food poisoning.

The five-year-old had only just switched from taking packed lunches to having school dinners because he was so fond of chips and sausages.

“It was the worse decision I ever made,” says Sharon. “Mason loved his food. He was taking sausages and chips off the plates of children, so we decided to switch him to school dinners and he was really happy.”

Mason and eight-year-old Chandler were one of more than 150 schoolchildren and adults struck down in the south Wales outbreak. Thirty-one people were admitted to hospital, but Mason was the only one to die.

He had suffered high temperatures, stomach pains and had hallucinations and was admitted to Bristol children’s hospital, but died of kidney failure.

Today, his mum Sharon remembers every moment of those terrifying days.

“It will be 15 years on September 13 when Chandler first became ill,” she remembers. “When Mason started to be sick I tried to do everything I possibly could. Mason’s condition deteriorated considerably and he started to hallucinate saying he could see slugs and frogs.

“He went a yellow colour and started sweating like he’d just come out of a shower. Mason died two weeks later in unbearable pain.”

Reflecting on the amount of time that has passed, Sharon says: “I just can’t believe how long it has been, it feels like such a long time since I last saw him.

“It is still very difficult to think about, but at this time of year I always relive that awful time. I always dread September coming along because it takes me back there.

“I will never get over it, but I have had to learn how to live with it, but little things can take me back there. Like I see a blade of grass, or hear something and it takes me back with a jolt.

“After Mason died it was really busy, there was the inquest and then the legal proceedings, so I didn’t actually face what had happened for a long time, and then it went quiet and it was like trying to scramble out of a big black hole.

“Mason would have been 21 in December. He should have been looking forward to celebrating that milestone in his life.

“Chandler is 23 now, but he is not the same person. He and Mason were so close, it has left a big hole in his life.

“My younger son is 16 and it has affected his life too. He can’t remember Mason because he wasn’t even one at the time, and that upsets him.”

Fifteen years on and Sharon and her family still feel that they have been denied justice.

Bridgend butcher William Tudor, 56, was jailed for breaching hygiene laws by allowing raw meat to come into contact with cooked ham and turkey.

public inquest in 2010 heard how Tudor put cash before hygiene for years and may have caused other food poisoning outbreaks.

Butcher William Tudor was jailed for 12 months

It was claimed he bought cheap frozen New Zealand mutton and passed it off as prime Welsh lamb and staff who brought him rotten meat unfit for consumption were told to “mince it up” and use it in faggots.

Sharon went  on to immerse herself in other food safety issues, including a push to make restaurant inspection disclosure – scores on doors – mandatory in Wales. Voluntary disclosure misses the point and if large cities like Toronto, New York and Los Angeles can figure out how to make it mandatory so can Wales.

Disclosure became mandatory in Wales and Northern Ireland in Nov. 2013, thanks in part – or largely — to Sharon’s efforts.

The rest of the UK, and Australia, wallows in a voluntary system: lousy score, don’t post it.

“The food hygiene rating scheme is very important and it is good that more people are more aware after what happened,” says Sharon.

“It is a bit concerning to hear that Covid might have an impact on some council environmental services, but we need to make sure there are more officers carrying out inspections and making sure that best practice is being followed.

“I have heard back from people that they have used our story as part of their training for cooks and kitchen staff.

“Before Mason’s death I had never really heard of E. coli. I had heard the name, but didn’t know much about it.

“Now, I think people are definitely more aware. That is good to know, good to know that people haven’t forgotten, even after all these years.”

One child dead, 700 sick due to mass food poisoning in Jordan restaurant

Joanne Serrieh of Alarabiya reports a five-year-old child is dead and 700 other people have been hospitalized in Jordan with mass food poisoning after eating shawarma at a restaurant in the town of Ain al-Basha, north of the capital Amman, the Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday.

Investigations revealed that the meat and chicken shawarma had been prepared without using a refrigeration unit in an “unhealthy environment and without adhering to the health requirements and the minimum levels of general safety,” the official Jordan News Agency reported citing a ministry press release.

Laboratory tests also found that bacteria in meat and poultry products at the restaurant, according to the ministry’s statement.

The restaurant was immediately shut down following investigations and the restaurant owner is in police custody, AFP reported citing local media.

Everyone’s got a camera: Pizza Hut Toronto version

Blog TO reports Pizza Hut Canada has confirmed they have dealt with the situation of unsanitary food practices at a specific restaurant location in Scarborough.

A customer at the pizza chain witnessed an employee refilling a tray of cheese in an unsanitary way and happened to capture the act on video.

Facebook user Corina Somers was at the Pizza Hut in Parkway mall on Ellesmere Road in Scarborough weeks ago, and noticed an employee refilling the cheese container without gloves on.

She posted the video on Facebook with the caption, “Pizza Hut Parkway mall on Victoria Park and Ellesmere. Share The sh*t out of it so people are aware of it.”

“She has the container right on the floor and dumping the cheese and touching the bag and then touching the cheese with her hand,” Somers wrote in the comments of her video. “The containers shouldn’t be on the floor, (they) should be on the counter.”

Her video has since been flooded with comments and has nearly 700 shares and Somers wrote in the comments that she reported the incident and also spoke to a public health inspector.