Connecticut steakhouse temporarily closes amidst food poisoning fears

Kevin Zimmerman of West Fair Online reports that Barbarie’s Black Angus Grill in Danbury has voluntarily closed while the city’s health department investigates a possible outbreak of a food-borne illness.

The investigation came in the wake of several diners’ complaints of food poisoning after dining at the 5 Eagle Road eatery, which were first reported on Dec. 26. The Health Department emphasized that no evidence of food poisoning has been found yet.

Barbarie’s was last inspected by the Danbury Health Department on Aug. 15 and passed with a score of a 91, according to city health department records.

“The Barbarie name has been a part of Danbury for over 60 years,” the restaurant, which could reopen as soon as today, said in a statement. “Our main priority is the safety and health of our patrons. We are currently working alongside the health department to get to the bottom of this. At this time, we do not have any further information.”

Everyone has a camera – even the restaurant operators

Doug and I have been talking about marketing food safety for years – the oft misunderstood concept. If you’re doing a good job at food safety tell everyone about it – differentiate yourself from your competitors. Complementing this idea is transparency and disclosure. Everyone has a camera.

In 2005 some keen public health folks in Korea started soliciting food safety-related pictures from diners as they ate and ordered at restaurants. The authorities wanted to enlist citizens to look for violations to place additional pressure on businesses to be decent food safety citizens – and to fine them for bad practices.

Five years ago we started a project, citizen food safety, on Instagram. Collectively capturing food safety, in the broadest terms through the lens of the camera phone-wielding public. This wasn’t just for the food safety nerds; its for the Interweb’s population of eaters: the regular folks who shop, eat at restaurants, visit farmers markets, cook or eat.

The hashtag #citizenfoodsafety still pops up sometimes on social media.

According to Xinhuanet, Health officials in the Chinese city of Hangzhou are actively calling on restaurant operators to be more transparent and put up cameras and offer patrons a live look on what’s going on in the kitchen. I love it. This advances #citizenfoodsafety.

Sure, folks can do weird stuff in blind spots, but this is a cool progression.

In an effort to alleviate food safety concerns that shroud China’s booming takeout services, the capital city of Zhejiang Province said over 150 restaurants had offered such services on a popular takeout app.

Hangzhou’s administration for market regulation said it was part of the city’s campaign to turn its eateries into “sunshine restaurants,” which install cameras or have open kitchens to allow for customer supervision.

The online live vetting aims to eliminate the “blind spot” as more restaurants jump on the mobile internet bandwagon to promote their takeout services, said Wang Jinchao, an official with the administration.

Consumers will feel relieved as they can see what happens in the kitchen, while the restaurants will be prompted to comply with the rules, according to Wang.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Canteen at one of Lincolnshire’s top schools hit with one-star food hygiene rating

A Lincolnshire school has moved to reassure parents that its kitchens are clean after receiving a one out five food hygiene rating for one its canteens.

Health inspectors from West Lindsey District Council were not impressed after a visit to Will’s diner at William Farr School in Welton near Lincoln on October 31.

Inspectors were particularly concerned about the school’s management of food safety and said ‘major improvement was necessary’.

Improvement was also requested on hygienic food handling, although the cleanliness and condition of the facilities was described as good.

However, William Farr – which was ranked as the county’s twelfth top performing school in July – insists there is an innocent explanation.

It is thought that the school froze several items and then served them past their recommended sell-by date, which is usually safe but does fall foul of food standards agency regulations – although the inspector did say there were no concerns about the risks posed to public health.

In the report from the inspector it read: “In most areas of this business , food safety provision is of a high standard.

“The law states that, subject to certain provisions, food exceeding the designated use by date is unsafe.”

I avoid potlucks and food trucks

The rise of food trucks as an eating out option requires knowledge of this sector. Balancing the reality of the food truck sector with access to safe food should guide actions and public policies to cater to its peculiarities. Therefore, this study aimed to characterize the Brazilian food truck vendors’ profile regarding their socioeconomic status and compliance with food safety rules.

From the 118 food truck vendors registered in the Brazilian Federal District, 30% (n = 35) participated in the study. We conducted structured interviews from December 2017 to April 2018. We ranked compliance levels according to a five-point Likert scale based on calculated compliance scores. The interviews revealed that food truck vendors were mostly married males, who had completed at least a tertiary education level, and wanted to start up their own businesses. The compliance levels depict good compliance with food safety rules (overall compliance (OC)-score = 0.69, on a 0 to 1 scale).

The food trucks assessed in this study distinguished themselves from the street food and food retail sectors due to their operational structure and the complexity of food production processes. Those particular features should be considered to ensure adequate and effective sanitary control and inspections, as well as to reduce the probability of microbial growth and food contamination and the consequent risk of foodborne illnesses.

Who is serving us? Food safety rules compliance among Brazilian food truck vendors

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Ligia Isonia Auad, Veronica Cortez Ginani, Eliana dos Santos Leandro, et al

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?url=https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/12/2807/pdf&hl=en&sa=X&d=331275599414970212&scisig=AAGBfm1ALcoGLQrOxOvwFJD5reiRlp-fiw&nossl=1&oi=scholaralrt&hist=2O4SIb4AAAAJ:16506682388974377703:AAGBfm0hA8hv9psB2ckGPRnkmmh7MNIaGQ

Make it mandatory: More evidence that restaurant inspection disclosure matters

This work describes the relationship between compliance with food hygiene law as reflected in food hygiene scores; measures of microbiological contamination of food samples taken from consumer-facing food businesses in England, Northern Ireland and Wales; and outbreaks of foodborne illness.

This paper demonstrates an association between the results of food hygiene inspections done by trained inspectors, using a rigorous and consistent procedure, with microbiological contamination of actual food samples from those premises. A proposed theoretical model further demonstrates the reduction in foodborne illness that would result if there were increased compliance with food hygiene law.

As clean as they look? Food hygiene inspection scores, microbiological contamination, and foodborne illness

Fleetwood, Janet, Shamim Rahman, Darren Holland, David Millson, Laura, Thomson, Guy Poppy. 2019.

Food Control. 96: 76-86

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.08.034

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713518304432

Food Safety Confessional: Connie still thaws meat in the sink (so do I)

Connie, someone I’ve never met but she’s a food safety professional from Guelph (that’s in Ontario, Canada, and it’s a small community) writes:

I’ve been a food safety professional for going on 20 years, I still thaw meat in the sink (sometimes in hot water if I’m really rushed) and in my house, we wash hands after we eat.

I’m a firm advocate of not killing our immune systems by trying to sterilize our homes; according to my research, the illness and deaths that occur now are more frequent, widespread and worse in the effects than ever in the past (Peanut Corporation of America excluded for obvious reasons).

 I don’t take any chances at work, I never would, but at home, sigh, we’re all still alive.

 If you’re ever looking for inspiration for a blog post look no further than the website IFSQN. It’s a great forum for discussion and assistance from experienced FSP but wow, there are some things posted that are positively frightening.

 I am currently advocating with the Canadian government to:
• change our national job description so people realize we are gd professionals and not place holders; and,

• institute a national standard for both auditors and CB (CFIA has accreditation standards, but I don’t think anyone is checking in on auditors).

 I personally believe that GFSI is the downfall of safe food, with people focused on being audit-ready and not on producing safe food.

Surveys still suck: How likely would you go back to a restaurant involved in a foodborne illness outbreak

This study reports an investigation of the determinants of the likelihood consumers will revisit a restaurant that has had a foodborne illness outbreak, including the moderating effects of restaurant type and consumer dining frequency.

A scenario-based survey was distributed via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to collect data from 1,034 respondents; the tally of valid responses was 1,025. Partial least squares-based structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) showed perceived vulnerability and perceived severity to be statistically significant; both also negatively affected customer intentions to patronize restaurants cited for serving foods that caused foodborne illness outbreaks.

Results suggest that type of restaurant is a significant moderator between perceived severity and customer intentions. The type of diner, however, based on frequency, does not moderate the relationships between perceived severity and perceived vulnerability and customer intentions to patronize restaurants that served food causing a foodborne illness outbreak (FBI).

Using protection motivation theory (PMT) (Rogers, 1975), this study’s findings contribute to understanding determinants and moderators of customer intentions to revisit restaurants after a foodborne illness outbreak.

Consumers’ return intentions towards a restaurant with foodborne illness outbreaks: Differences across restaurant type and consumers’ dining frequency

Food Control

Faizan Ali, Kimberly J. Harris, Kisang Ryu

DOI : 10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.12.001

http://m.x-mol.com/paper/921130

Food Safety Confessional: Sheila says she is horrible

Sheila is a former MSc student with me at Kansas State University and a tough military chick. We hardly ever saw each other, because phones and the Internet sometimes work (despite administratium claims to the contrary), but she has kept up the food safety conversation. I was privileged to work with her and a whole bunch of other military food safety folks over the years.

Sheila writes:

I am a horrible food safety professional.  

Not at work. At work I’m a straight-laced, all business, don’t-you-dare-break-the-rules-or-I’ll-kick-you-in-the-nuts kinda girl.  My problem is outside of work.  When I’m off the clock I turn into Andrew Zimmern’s sister by another mister.  I like to eat weird stuff.  

I spent 15 years with the U.S. Army as a Food Safety Specialist and got to travel all over the world.  While others in the group were sticking to main stream chow hall fare and MREs, which has its own dangers, I was happy to find some random vendor selling mystery meat on a stick by the side of the road.  It might have been dog, or monkey, or bat, or rat.  I really have no idea, but it sure tasted good.  Boiled chicken heads?  Roasted sparrows?  Camel on a spit?  Beaver tater tot hotdish?  A whole sheep buried in the desert sand for 2 days?  Hell yeah, bring it on!  From Africa, Australia, Central America, the South Pacific, the Arctic, the Middle East and the Far East, it didn’t matter where I was I had to try the odd local fare.  Still do when I travel.  Real haggis is amazing.

Back at home, cooking for myself or eating out, I am also bad.  When cooking for others all safety precautions are followed, thermometers, separate cutting boards and utensils for different food types, obsessive hand washing, but I make all kinds of exceptions when food is just for me.  E. coli and Salmonella be damned.  My eggs need to be over medium. Scrambled eggs are gross.  I eat raw, homemade cookie dough.  I love homemade eggnog.  Don’t give me that store bought boxed crap that tastes like nutmeg infused cardboard.  Now if I could find pasteurized eggs in the shell, I’d use them, but out in the Minnesota tundra they just aren’t available.  I like my steak on the rare side of medium rare, even if it is needle tenderized.  Hamburgers done medium.  Sushi is a favorite food and I go for raw and roe.  Raw oysters are a heavenly treat.   

But here’s the deal.  I know the potential consequences of eating all of these risky foods.  I am generally healthy, aside from the arthritis and anger issues the Army so generously gave me.  I realize healthy people still get food poisoning, but I am willing to occasionally take that risk to enjoy certain foods.  I would never force anyone else to do what I do and I often tell people not to do it and why. 

Do as I say, not as I do. 

And even I have limits.  Chicken must be cooked to 165F.  I don’t drink raw milk.  I rant about the raw pet food trend.  And I avoid potlucks like the plague.  I’m sure it all tastes great, but I just can’t do it.  I don’t trust what most people do in their kitchens unless I’m there to see it.  If invited to a party that’s potluck and I can’t get out of it, I bring potato chips and eat before I get there.  Weird right?  

Oh, and I have 12 beautiful pet snakes of varying sizes and species, but that’s another story.  

‘I don’t know how to face my friends and relatives’ Dozens ill after wedding banquet in Singapore

Jeffrey Sivalingam, 61, the father of the bride, told The New Paper yesterday an eight-course meal had been catered for more than 400 guests.

After contacting them yesterday, the retiree said many of them had told him about falling ill after the banquet.

“About four people from each table fell ill as well as some entire tables,” he said.

“I didn’t expect this and now I don’t know how to face my friends and relatives.”

Mr Sivalingam said he was warded at Tan Tock Seng Hospital with his son after they developed fever, and that at least three youngsters, including his 16-year-old niece, were also warded.

A wedding guest, Mr Matthew Tjow, 40, said he and his three children started vomiting and having diarrhoea on Monday.

The counsellor added: “My daughter, who is in Primary 1, vomited from the hall to the toilet. She has kept vomiting and is looking as frail as a rag doll.”

He said the other two, aged 12 and 10, also vomited and had diarrhoea and fever. His wife also started showing symptoms last night.

The spokesman said staff who handled food during the banquet events have been “temporarily relieved of duties” until they complete all necessary medical tests and are cleared by the relevant authorities.

The hotel will also cease serving raw food from its banquet kitchens during the investigation.

Mr Sivalingam hopes to warn the public about such incidents.

“I am not interested in compensation from the hotel. I am interested in the well-being of our guests,” he said.

Everyone’s got a camera: NY Just Salad mouse edition

NBC New York reports a salad bar blamed its building after up to eight mice were seen running rampant in its midtown location Sunday night, and said the store was closing permanently next month.

“We closed this store for several days to give our team the Thanksgiving holiday off and did not notice the issue in a timely matter. Rodent activity has been a struggle for the concourse area in general,” Just Salad CEO and founder Nick Kenner said in a statement of the Rockefeller Center location.

Kenner added that the brand would moving out of the underground location entirely at the end of December.

Rockefeller Center owner Tishman Speyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The mice were caught on camera by Eli Colon, who had just finished having dinner at a nearby restaurant about 7:30 p.m. when he saw something moving in the Just Salad.

He said he spotted about six to eight mice running and jumping inside the store, which is closed Sundays, and started to film. “When you see this kind of stuff you get very concerned for the health of the people who work there and the people who have lunch there every day,” he said.

In the video, the mice can be seen scampering around behind the counter in the kitchen. Colon has a 3-year-old with allergies so he was particularly concerned about the level of hygiene. sanitary grade of “A” displays mice like that and we were just passing by not searching for mice and those are noticeable. I’m sure there have to be more. Also questions about the standards and processes used by the sanitary organizations that rates these places and how reliable those are.”