Assessment of food safety compliance to federal, state and local regulations within NYS capital region farmers markets: An investigation of current facilitators, barriers, and future opportunities to increase food safety, 2020

Patricia Miller of the State University of New York at Albany writes in her Doctor of Public Health dissertation that within the United States there are over 8,000 farmers markets, that sell directly to consumers. New York State has the second-largest number of markets, at 637, with the capital region host to 114 markets.

Over the years the selections of offerings have grown to include not only produce but ready-to-eat foods, eggs, dairy products, crafts, beer, and wine. The increasing popularity of farmers markets coupled with inadequate regulatory oversight of these markets, can contribute to incidences of foodborne illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control identified 95 foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States potentially associated with fairs, festivals, and temporary mobile services from 1988-2007, which resulted in almost 4,000 illnesses, including 144 hospitalizations (Centers for Disease Control, 2008). Of these markets, six are held year-round.

This research undertook a needs assessment to identify gaps in food safety as it related to compliance with regulations required by federal, state, and local government by farmers markets and their vendors. This was a multimethod study utilizing content of each farmers markets rules compared to regulations, direct observations of vendor behaviors, and data collection through observation of physical characteristics of the markets, and interviews with market managers. Market compliance was measured by analysis of market rules to key rules and regulations required through the Federal Food Code, and by the New York State Temporary Food Service Establishments Regulations. These rules included adherence to minimal cooking of foods, maintaining and monitoring temperatures of foods, hand hygiene requirements, prevention of cross-contamination, and storage of food. These regulations address transportation of food to the markets, into the markets, display of food, and serving of food.

Data collection through observation of each markets was done to assess market facilities, and direct observations were made of vendors during market operations on multiple occasions. Results showed many markets lacked clearly defined rules, and resources, including handwashing stations, as regulated, were not in evidence. Observational data collection showed that these markets did not comply with the New York State Department of Health Temporary Establishments Regulations and that the vendor behaviors did not meet food code requirements. In addition, this study looked to identify facilitators and barriers to safe food handling behaviors. A lack of handwashing facilities and thermometers were found to be barriers to safe food handling at these markets.

While implementing more rules or changing policies may improve these behaviors, enforcement of the required rules would be a better method to decrease these barriers. Inspection by local authorities may improve compliance to regulations as may providing resources to the vendors.

Stick it in: Thermometers work but people don’t want to use them

This paper came out in Feb. but was lost in the Covid haze.

Observation is always better than self-reported survey BS (I cooked the turkey below, in Brisbane, and it went back in the oven)

Chapman learned well. Abstract below.

The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of an intervention for consumer thermometer use by using a randomized experimental design and direct observation of meal preparation.

The study was conducted in test kitchen facilities in two locations in North Carolina (one urban and one rural). Cameras recorded participants’ actions at various locations throughout the kitchen and recorded the meal preparation from beginning to end. Before preparing the meal, a randomized treatment group watched a 3-min U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food safety video “The Importance of Cooking to a Safe Internal Temperature and How to Use a Food Thermometer.”

Participants in the control and treatment groups were observed while cooking turkey burgers and preparing a salad to determine whether a thermometer was used to check the doneness of the turkey patties. Following meal preparation, all participants responded to a post-observation interview about food handling behaviors. Treatment group participants were also asked about the intervention.

A total of 383 people participated in the study (201 in the control group and 182 in the treatment group). Participants who viewed the video were twice as likely to use a thermometer to check the doneness of the turkey patties compared with the participants who were not exposed to the video (75 versus 34%) and twice as likely to place the thermometer in the correct location (52 versus 23%). Sixty-seven percent of participants who watched the video reported that it influenced their behavior in the kitchen.

This study demonstrates the importance of timing and framing of a behavioral intervention for thermometer use and highlights considerations for the development of additional messages (e.g., proper insertion).

An observational study of thermometer use by consumers when preparing ground turkey patties

Minh Duong; Ellen Thomas Shumaker; Sheryl C Cates; Lisa Shelley; Lydia Goodson; Christopher Bernstein; Aaron Lavallee; Margaret Kirchner; Rebecca Goulter; Lee-Ann Jaykus; Benjamin Chapman

Journal of Food Protection

https://doi.org/10.4315/JFP-19-594

https://meridian.allenpress.com/jfp/article-abstract/83/7/1167/426199

Stick it in: Kevin McHale accidentally gives boyfriend Austin McKenzie Salmonella

My partner and American/Australian daughter have taken to watching reruns of the television show, Glee, during or after dinner.

Who knew there would ever be a food safety connection?

Turns out 32-year-old Glee alum Kevin McHale amusingly shared a series of tweets on Saturday night (August 1) in which he revealed that he accidentally gave his boyfriend Austin McKenzie salmonella due to his cooking.

“But have you undercooked chicken sausage (unintentionally) and then served it to your bf and then he got superrrrr sick and you thought it was covid and you got tested twice but nah you just fed him salmonella? He should break up with me. I would,” he tweeted.

When told that Austin needs to take his phone away, Kevin then added: “He’s asleep because I poisoned him!”

He then tweeted “Omg” when he realized that Austin hilariously changed his profile bio to: “I left Twitter many years ago. I’m back on now to monitor my thirsty boyfriend, Kevin Mchale, who ‘accidentally’ gave me salmonella 5 days ago.”

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer. Any fans of McHale should mail him one (if the U.S. Postal Service still exists).

From the duh files: Your chicken is no longer pink. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat

The New York Times followed up on the chicken study and how to tell if it’s done that I wrote about last week with a meandering story about color, texture, and stupidly recommends using pop-up thermometers.

Me and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many others have been saying the same thing for over 20 years: Use a fucking tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

That is all.

You think that chicken is done? It’s not done (or it’s burnt)

About one third of foodborne illness outbreaks in Europe are acquired in the home and eating undercooked poultry is among consumption practices associated with illness. The aim of this study was to investigate whether actual and recommended practices for monitoring chicken doneness are safe.

Seventy-five European households from five European countries were interviewed and videoed while cooking chicken in their private kitchens, including young single men, families with infants/in pregnancy and elderly over seventy years. A cross-national web-survey collected cooking practices for chicken from 3969 households. In a laboratory kitchen, chicken breast fillets were injected with cocktails of Salmonella and Campylobacter and cooked to core temperatures between 55 and 70°C. Microbial survival in the core and surface of the meat were determined. In a parallel experiment, core colour, colour of juice and texture were recorded. Finally, a range of cooking thermometers from the consumer market were evaluated.

The field study identified nine practical approaches for deciding if the chicken was properly cooked. Among these, checking the colour of the meat was commonly used and perceived as a way of mitigating risks among the consumers. Meanwhile, chicken was perceived as hedonically vulnerable to long cooking time. The quantitative survey revealed that households prevalently check cooking status from the inside colour (49.6%) and/or inside texture (39.2%) of the meat. Young men rely more often on the outside colour of the meat (34.7%) and less often on the juices (16.5%) than the elderly (>65 years old; 25.8% and 24.6%, respectively). The lab study showed that colour change of chicken meat happened below 60°C, corresponding to less than 3 log reduction of Salmonella and Campylobacter. At a core temperature of 70°C, pathogens survived on the fillet surface not in contact with the frying pan. No correlation between meat texture and microbial inactivation was found. A minority of respondents used a food thermometer, and a challenge with cooking thermometers for home use was long response time. In conclusion, the recommendations from the authorities on monitoring doneness of chicken and current consumer practices do not ensure reduction of pathogens to safe levels. For the domestic cook, determining doneness is both a question of avoiding potential harm and achieving a pleasurable meal. It is discussed how lack of an easy “rule-of-thumb” or tools to check safe cooking at consumer level, as well as national differences in contamination levels, food culture and economy make it difficult to develop international recommendations that are both safe and easily implemented.

Cooking chicken at home: common or recommended approaches to judge doneness may not assure sufficient inactivation of pathogens, 29 April 2020

PLOS One

Solveig Langsrud, Oddvin Sørheim, Silje Elisabeth Skuland, Valérie Lengard Almli, Merete Rusås Jensen, Magnhild Seim Grøvlen, Øydis Ueland, Trond Møretrø

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230928

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230928

What is the temperature of your fridge?

I used to use these semi-disposable thermometers in my old-school fridge, but when we bought our Brisbane house we bought a new fridge which displays the fridge and freezer temps continuously (although I should check on how to validate).

The fridge also has an ice and water dispenser, which I used to have but lost in the divorce or move(s), it’s all a blur now.

 A transdisciplinary observational study, coupled with a web-based survey, was conducted to investigate refrigerated storage of food, in five European countries.

The investigated consumer groups in this study were: young families with small children and/or pregnant women, elderly people, persons with an immunodeficient system, and young single men.

The refrigerator temperature was monitored for approximately two weeks using a temperature data logger. Variables such as country, income, age of refrigerators, education, living area, refrigerator loading practices had no significant effect (p > 0.05) on the overall average fridge temperature, whereas consumers’ practices showed a significant influence (p < 0.05) on registered temperature values.

Compared to temperatures inside the fridges belonging to young families and young single men group, the temperatures inside refrigerators belonging to elderly was in the temperature danger zone (5–63 °C). The lowest temperatures were recorded in UK consumers’ refrigerators, whereas the highest were in French households. Presence of Listeria monocytogenes was confirmed in three refrigerators out of 53 sampled (two in Romania and one in Portugal).

The most vulnerable category to food safety risks is represented by elderly persons with low education, unaware of safe refrigeration practices and the actual temperature their fridges are running.

Time-temperature profiles and listeria monocytogenes presence in refrigerators from households with vulnerable consumers

Food Control vol. 111 May 2020

LoredanaDumitrașcua, Anca IoanaNicolaua, CorinaNeagua, PierrineDidierb, IsabelleMaîtrec, ChristopheNguyen-Theb, Silje ElisabethSkulandd, TrondMøretrøe, SolveigLangsrude, MonicaTruningerf, PaulaTeixeirag, VâniaFerreirag, LydiaMartensh, DanielaBordaa

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2019.107078

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095671351930667X?via%3Dihub

Man had hundreds of tapeworms in brain, chest after eating undercooked pork

Alexandria Hein of Fox News reports a 43-year-old man in China who was suffering from seizures and loss of consciousness went to the doctor after his symptoms persisted for several weeks, only to discover that he had hundreds of tapeworms in his brain and chest, reports say.

The patient, identified as Zhu Zhongfa, allegedly had eaten undercooked pork, which was contaminated with Taenia solium, a parasitic tapeworm.

“Different patients respond [differently] to the infection depending on where the parasites occupy,” Dr. Huang Jianrong, Zhongfa’s doctor at Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, told AsiaWire. “In this case, he had seizures and lost consciousness, but others with cysts in their lungs might cough a lot.”

Jianrong explained that the larvae entered Zhongfa’s body through the digestive system and traveled upward through his bloodstream. He was officially diagnosed with cysticercosis and neurocysticercosis, and given an antiparasitic drug and other medications to protect his organs from further damage, according to AsiaWire.

Jianrong said his patient is doing well after one week, but the long-term effects from the massive infestation are unclear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cooking meat at a safe temperature and using a food thermometer in an effort to avoid taeniasis. Humans are the only hosts for Taenia tapeworms, and pass tapeworm segments and eggs in feces which contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor. The eggs survive in a moist environment for days to months, and cows and pigs become infected after feeding in the contaminated areas.

Once inside the animal, the eggs hatch in the intestine and migrate to the muscle where it develops into cysticerci, which can survive for several years. This infects humans when they eat contaminated raw or undercooked beef or pork, according to the CDC.

Piping hot: Publication of year 4 Campylobacter retail chicken survey

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the Year 4 report for the UK retail chicken survey which took place between August 2017 and July 2018. Samples were collected every quarter but after the first quarter only minor retailers were tested. The UK’s top nine retailers have carried out their own sampling since September 2017.

The report found that high level campylobacter contamination in UK chickens has decreased considerably, but remains high in smaller retailers, independents and butchers.

Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said:

“Retailers have achieved significant reductions in levels of campylobacter contamination since the retail chicken survey began in 2014. The FSA will continue to engage with industry and particularly smaller retailers, butchers and independents to build on this progress.” …

Make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly and steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

From the duh files: Here’s why consumers don’t use thermometers when cooking

I told Amy when I die and my brain is carved up in Sydney, my epitaph should be, improving food safety, one thermometer at a time.

I still feel naked when cooking without a thermometer.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Purdue University, few people use thermometers when they cook—even if they know how. 

One of the major reasons that consumers don’t use thermometers, researchers found, is because they tend to draw inspiration from outside sources—celebrity chefs, cookbook authors, magazines, restaurant managers, and food blogs. These outlets rarely ever mention or demonstrate the importance of cooking food to proper temperatures.

“We see that celebrity chefs simply rely on time estimates in their recipes or cut through the meat to show there is no blood or pink. That doesn’t always mean the food is safe, however,” says Yaohua “Betty” Feng, an assistant professor of food science at Purdue. “That affects the behaviors of home cooks and professional cooks. If their role models aren’t using thermometers, why should they? But if chefs preparing food on television or social media would include the use of a thermometer to ensure the food is thoroughly cooked, it would have an impact on their viewers.”

Feng worked with University of California’s Christine M. Bruhn to analyze 85 studies from over two decades to understand knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors associated with thermometer use. Despite it being considered a best practice in home and professional kitchens, thermometer use is low.

In one study, two-thirds of people reported owning a meat thermometer, but less than 20 percent used it all the time to check the temperature of chicken, and less than 10 percent used it all the time for hamburgers. About half of consumers say that thermometers aren’t necessary to check the doneness of egg or meat dishes.

Feng also noted that many people are unsure which type of thermometer to buy or how to correctly use them, including where to place the thermometer in the food, the correct endpoint temperatures, proper temperature calibration for the thermometer, and proper cleaning and sanitation. About 95 percent of people in one study did not clean their thermometers after use.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative supported this research. The results were published in the Journal of Food Protection in January 2019.

Piping hot is stupid cooking advice, that only the Brits could have come up with

I take pride in my Birmingham and Newport, Wales roots, as well as a lot of Ontario (that’s in Canada) but the UK government’s continued insistence that food be cooked to piping hot is not only unscientific, but just stupid.

This paper sounds nice, but will have no effect.

Chapman, I never got those Comarks, and need about 100 so I can keep improving food safety, one tip-sensitive digital thermometer at a time.

Improper cooking of meat contributes to many foodborne illnesses worldwide. The use of meat thermometers during cooking is recommended by food safety authorities in North America, but not yet in Europe. This scoping review investigated meat thermometer usage trends, consumers’ barriers and facilitators, and usage-enhancing interventions, with the aim of informing potential policy changes as necessary towards enhancing meat thermometers usage.

The study revealed that Europe is far behind North America in meat thermometer research and consumer use. The study results highlighted the increased compliance among mid-aged and higher socio-economic consumer groups. A considerable percentage of people do not use a meat thermometer, despite owning one and knowing its importance.

Barriers to meat thermometer usage among consumers included: cooking habits, non-practicality, and the influence of society and media, whereas responsibility to dependents and enhancing meat quality were strong facilitators. Intervention studies showed that knowledge gain does not necessarily translate to behavior change, unless consumers’ barriers and facilitators are addressed; hence behavioral theory-based interventions were most effective. The review concludes with recommendations for food safety authorities, starting with filling the research gap to understand consumers’ attitudes and behaviors, followed by implementation and scaling-up of evidence-based interventions, associated with cost-effectiveness studies.

Is scoping now a cool word?

Meat thermometer usage amongst European and North American consumers: A scoping review”

Dec.19

Food Control

Sarah Elshahat, Jayne V. Woodside, Michelle C. McKinley

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713519302737