What a difference a grade makes

When I was about 10 or 11, playing goal in AAA hockey, I used to vomit before games I knew I was starting, Gump Worsley style.

There was this one time in a 3rd year cell biology class about a century ago, that I totally choked on an exam.

Guess I should have guessed I had anxiety issues back then.

I went to the prof the next day and she let me retake the exam and I aced it.

That’s the thing I’ve learned about anxiety, which is like playing goalie in ice hockey: sometimes you’re good, sometimes not so much: ya let in a goal, gotta get over it and keep your mind in the game).

Amy and I have a lot of shared values, but I can see that my anxiety is causing issues.

She’s going to a conference in the U.S. for a couple of weeks with the kid, and I’m going to a new rehab place (if what you’re doing ain’t working, try something different) with my trusted psychiatrist, beginning last Monday. It gives Amy some peace.

For at least three weeks.

I may write a little.

I may write a lot.

I’ve learned not to make predictions.

Can governments use grades to induce businesses to improve their compliance with regulations? Does public disclosure of compliance with food safety regulations matter for restaurants? Ultimately, this depends on whether grades matter for the bottom line.

Based on 28 months of data on more than 15,000 restaurants in New York City, this article explores the impact of public restaurant grades on economic activity and public resources using rigorous panel data methods, including fixed‐effects models with controls for underlying food safety compliance.

Results show that A grades reduce the probability of restaurant closure and increase revenues while increasing sales taxes remitted and decreasing fines relative to B grades. Conversely, C grades increase the probability of restaurant closure and decrease revenues while decreasing sales taxes remitted relative to B grades. These findings suggest that policy makers can incorporate public information into regulations to more strongly incentivize compliance.

Wiley Online Library

Michah W. Rothbart, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Thad D. Calabrese, Zachary Papper, Todor Mijanovich, Rachel Meltzer, Diana Silver

https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13091

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/puar.13091

Chester restaurant infested with cockroaches

David Holmes of Cheshire Live writes that owners of a popular Indian restaurant have been fined a total of £11,848 for food hygiene offences with live cockroaches seen running up the walls, across the floor and even over the inspectors’ feet.

Chester Foods Ltd trading as Barton Rouge, Granary Wharf, Steam Mill Street, Chester, Kashem Ali Tahid, 52, of Brooklands Road, Manchester and Mohammed Aamir Latif, 43, of Arbour Drive Manchester, the owners of Chester Foods Ltd, were convicted of food safety and hygiene offences at Chester Magistrates Court, on Thursday, July 25.

Regulatory services officers visited Barton Rouge on July 25, 2018, to undertake a routine food hygiene inspection and found evidence of a German cockroach infestation and poor standards of cleanliness throughout the premises.

The level of cockroach activity was such that officers saw live insects run up the walls, across the floor and over their feet when equipment was moved.

Worker scratching his crotch led to Florida restaurant’s temporary closure

Beau Zimmer of WTSP reports that ants were seen crawling inside a Tampa Bay area Mexican restaurant – our favorite part of Florida and equidistant from the equator as is Brisbane.

Sabor A Mexico in Brandon is the go-to spot for customer Anna Brooks.

“I just love their home homemade salsa and just a lot of their entrees are really good,” Brooks said as she arrived for lunch.  

Brooks and other customers had no idea this Mexican restaurant was shut down by state inspectors just two weeks earlier.  

The restaurant racked up 65 violations, including meat and salsa stored on the floor and employees not properly washing their hands.  

The report indicated one employee was spotted going from working with raw meat to lettuce. Another was seen scratching their crotch area without changing gloves.

“I have no words for that,” a near speechless Brooks said with a look of bewilderment on her face.  “That’s very gross. That’s very disappointing.”

Health inspectors weren’t done there. The restaurant’s inspection report also listed too many ants to count walking around in the walk-in cooler area.  There was also roach excrement on dry storage shelves holding food and rodent activity with a chewed up plastic lid on top of the tortilla container.

“Wow! That’ eye-opening,” Brooks said.  

The restaurant has now had two full weeks to clean up their kitchen so Wednesday 10News stopped in unannounced.

Within minutes of arriving, the restaurant allowed us behind the kitchen door and almost immediately we started spotting positive changes, like soap and paper towels at all the kitchen handwashing sinks.

Indian takeaway which had no sink and served raw chicken ordered to pay £42K in UK

Latifa Yedroudj of the Mirror reports an Indian takeaway boss has been ordered to pay £42,000 in fines after food hygiene inspectors found his restaurant did not have a sink.

Mr Biryani restaurant in Slough, Berkshire has been slammed for breaching food hygiene requirements 10 times over the past two years since the eatery opened for business.

Owner Santosh Ragalpavi Balasubramaniam, 37, from Maidenhead, Berks has been slapped with staggering fines after inspectors found his chefs did not have a sink to wash their hands and served undercooked chicken.

The restaurant was also ordered to dispose of all of its food and disinfect the premises after sewage water flooded the basement.

Dining in Finland

Readers know I’m a fan of restaurant inspection disclosure results, and now, so is Finland.

Disclosure systems for official food safety inspection results have been introduced in many countries including Finland in order to increase compliance of food business operators (FBOs). Although the disclosure systems are intended to affect FBOs, few studies have been published on FBOs’ experiences of these systems.

To investigate FBOs’ opinions of disclosed food safety inspections in Finland, a questionnaire was distributed in 2016. The questionnaire study also aimed to recognize factors affecting compliance and disagreements about gradings with a special focus on FBOs’ risk perception. In total 1277 responses from FBOs in retail (n=523), service (n=507) and industry (n=247) sectors revealed that the majority of FBOs perceived the disclosure to promote correction of non-compliance. However, many FBOs disagreed with the grading of inspection findings.

Most common topics of disagreements were maintenance of premises, record-keeping of own-check plan and adequacy and suitability of premises for operations. Logistic regression analysis showed that the likelihood of occurrence of disagreements with grading was higher among those retail and service FBOs with a lower risk perception. Similarly, the occurrence of non-compliance was associated with FBOs’ risk perception in all sectors. Thus, FBOs need proper guidance on food safety risks. These results can be used to improve the efficacy of disclosed food safety inspections.

Food business operators’ opinions on disclosed food safety inspections and occurrence of disagreements with inspector grading, 05 June 2019

Food Control

JenniKaskelaa, AnnukkaVainiobc, SariOllilad, JanneLundéna

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2019.06.005

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713519302609

Everyone’s got a camera: Burger King employee mopping tables edition

 A restaurant employee was caught on camera cleaning tables with a mop.

A customer recorded the video at a Burger King restaurant on Thursday night.

“It was disgusting, honestly. I had just ate on that table. Did you do this yesterday? Do you do this every night? Did you do this, this morning?” the customer asked.

Katie Duran recorded the video, and now, she has questions for the restaurant.

After sending the video to Burger King’s corporate office, she received this response:

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention, and rest assure that your comments have been forwarded to the appropriate management team.”

News4Jax looked into the restaurant’s inspection report with the state and found seven basic violations and one intermediate violation. The violations included vents in the kitchen containing mold and the interior of the freezer soiled with food residue.

Barry and restaurant inspection grades in LA

I am barfblog, barfblog is me.

I don’t think the other site will go anywhere.

So you get this mess, and can always opt out.

Chapman and I have been talking about creativity lately, and how to get better at it.

It may not be apparent, but for 20 years now, we always try to get better.

He quoted me Neil Young this morning, who said in 1974, “’Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride, but I saw more interesting people there.”

I said the the same thing to Bill Leiss when he wanted to rehash a book: been there, done that, you’re boring.

Well done Ben.

Discovering, by Robert Scott Root-Bernstein, a prof type at the University of Michigan, was one of the most influential books I read. So much so that I had him come to the University of Waterloo when I hosted the annual meeting of the Canadian Science writer types in 1992.

Whether I’ve done journalism or science (and I still get cited every day, sorta proud of that, even with my diminished mind), or just writing to keep the cobwebs out of my brain, it’s all about asking questions that others haven’t, and then telling a good story.

Barry is probably the best new show on TV (after John Oliver).

Who knew Bill Hadler had it in him?

An Oklahoma dude who wowed audiences with his Stefon character on Saturday Night Live, who knew he could come up with Barry, a deep, disturbing and funny role that he writes, stars in and directs (committees are overrated).

But what this food safety nerd got in episode 4 of the second season was not the tension between the actors, but the A restaurant inspection grade in Los Angeles.

I love public disclosure.

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.

Dead lizard found in Irvins salted egg fish snack: Singapore

A packet of salted egg fish skin snack that contained a dead lizard was manufactured at Irvins Salted Egg’s previous premises, which ceased operations in November last year, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said.

That facility is understood to be located in Admiralty Street.

In a statement on Monday (Feb 11), the AVA said that it had completed investigations into the Singapore-based food company, after a Bangkok customer found a dead lizard coated with salted egg in a packet of the popular snack in December.

The AVA said that it had since inspected Irvins’ current premises and told the company to improve its quality control checks.

Quality control checks include conducting regular refresher training for quality control operators, sourcing ingredients from reputable suppliers and conducting regular audits.

“Irvins has made improvements in these areas, as well as stepped up inspections on the production line,” the AVA said.

The authority added that it will continue to do periodic audits and enforcement checks on the company.

The AVA urged food manufacturers to be responsible in complying with food safety standards or requirements as well as maintaining robust food safety management systems, even as it continued to carry out periodic checks.

Consumers should also adhere to good food safety practices, the AVA said in its statement.

Some good food safety guidelines for consumers include the following:

– Examine packaged food carefully. Do not buy if the packaging is damaged or open as it may contain harmful micro-organisms that could cause food poisoning.

– Keep foodstuff – such as coffee, tea, powdered milk and biscuits – in clean, air-tight containers, away from heat and moisture.

– Inspect food regularly for insect infestation, mould, and other signs of spoilage. Discard when necessary.

– Check food storage cupboards regularly to ensure that they are free from insect infestation or contamination.

– Keep cupboards meant for food storage uncluttered and clean.

I’m not sure what consumers can do about reptiles in pre-packaged foods.

Everyone has a camera: Vancouver bakery edition

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a recall for Betty brand and Nancy’s Fancy Yummy in the Tummy brand bakery products.

The agency says the products may be unsafe due to possible contamination from mice infestation at the manufacturing plant.

The affected products were sold in Ontario and Quebec up to and including Feb. 8, and may contain harmful bacteria.

CFIA says there have been no reports of illness linked to the products.