Hinting at food safety – marketers play games but invoke consumer concerns

I shop at Dillons in Manhattan (Kansas), owned by Kroger. I’ve gotten to know the staff, we talk food safety stuff, and I’ve really enjoyed the few times I’ve chatted with Gale Prince, who used to be head of food safety at Kroger.

But I don’t understand the press release Kroger sent out today about its new line of salads which includes new technology on the packaging that enables customers to learn where the produce was grown as part of Kroger’s "Quality You Can Trace" program.

I don’t really care where it was grown. I do care if it was grown in cow shit.

The Kroger’s Fresh Selections are the only salads with HarvestMark technology sold in the U.S. today. Each bag carries a 16-digit code shoppers can enter at HarvestMark.com to learn more about the salad’s origin, packing location, ingredients, date and time the product was packed.  Customers can also offer their feedback on the product.

The PR BS goes on to say,

"Kroger continues to be a leader in offering customers innovative food safety tools and resources," said Joe Grieshaber, group vice president of Kroger’s meat, seafood, deli and produce departments.  …  Food safety is a top priority at Kroger.  Our partnership with HarvestMark makes it easy for customers who are interested to learn more about the food they purchase for themselves and their families. 

This has nothing to do with food safety. A food safety program for leafy greens would provide at retail – or at least through a url – practices on irrigation water testing, soli amendments and human hygiene programs for the workers. Market food safety directly and stop dancing.

Left, is a bag of Dole spring mix, purchased at Dillons. Included on the package is a salad guide that says taste, 4, on the mild to bold scale, and texture is 2 on the tender to crunchy guide.

The label also says the spring mix pairs well with balsamic vinaigrette, crumbled goat cheese, julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes and a pinch of Mediterranean herbs. It’s thoroughly washed, preservative free and all natural. And Kosher certified and has a recipe for Balsamic vinaigrette.

I want to know if it has E. coli and is going to make me barf. Don’t eat poop. And if you do, cook it.

Fresh whole chicken leaking bacterial-infested blood onto fresh produce – this is how people get sick

This is my fridge. This is my fridge on Salmonella and Campylobacter. This is how cross-contamination occurs. This is why it is important to lower pathogen loads before foods enter the home or a food service kitchen. Because foods can be a mess.

I bought a whole, fresh chicken a couple of days ago, but got some cheap lamb in the discount bin (the best time to go to Dillion’s grocery in Manhattan, Kansas, is between 10 and 11 a.m., lotsa foods discounted) so it sat in the back of my fridge for two days.

After two days in the back of my fridge I noticed fresh chicken blood had dripped into both the produce and fresh fruit crispers. Who designs fridges, engineers? Those drawers should be on top.

That red spot in the picture, that’s Salmonella- and Campylobacter-laden blood; it was also throughout the crispers. Those apples are in the pie we’re having tonight – whole wheat pie crust, love it. The rest has been cooked or tossed, and a full cleansing took place.

But food safety’s so simple; sure, without the chicken blood everywhere.

And this is my pie.

Don’t drink infected pig blood

Reuters reported yesterday that new information from the World Health Organization suggested pigs sickened with H1N1 swine flu should not be consumed, despite earlier insistence that fully cooked pork is perfectly safe.

The story states,

"The WHO comments appear more cautious than those from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which said import bans are not required to safeguard public health because the disease is not food-borne and has not been identified in dead animal tissue.

The WHO however said it was possible for flu viruses to survive the freezing process and be present in thawed meat, as well as in blood."

Well, who in their right mind drinks raw pig blood thinking it won’t possibly make them sick?

I didn’t find any statements on the WHO website that mentioned the ability of viruses to survive freezing–or its pertinence to the consumption of fully cooked pork–but I discovered that the WHO, FAO, and OIE have reissued their joint statement from April 30 today to address misunderstanding of the consumption of meat from H1N1 infected pigs. The statement reads, in part,

"Authorities and consumers should ensure that meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead are not processed or used for human consumption under any circumstances."

Sick or dead animals should never be slaughtered, regardless of the cause of illness or death. This  reduces the risk for cross-contamination. The statement reassures,

"Heat treatments commonly used in cooking meat (e.g. 70°C/160°F core temperature) will readily inactivate any viruses potentially present in raw meat products.

Pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices recommended by the WHO, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a source of infection."

But I shouldn’t be spelling this stuff out–the WHO should. And they should address the bit about viruses surviving freezing and how that impacts food handlers.

Authorities should communicate the risks and how they’re being managed (or can be managed) in a way the public can understand and the media can’t mess up. It’s their responsibility to a concerned public.

Chicken soup may lower blood pressure, study finds

Lunch was delicious, thanks.

The key to a good soup or stew is a good homemade stock. Canadian Thanksgiving dinner last Monday night was a hit and the students ate everything so there were no leftovers.

I made a turkey stock with the remnants, and then cooked another turkey breast later in the week so Amy and I could enjoy turkey leftovers. What you see (right) is the second batch of stock draining into the stock pot, and a container of the first batch of stock that has cooled in the fridge so the fat has solidified on top. Remove the fat, sauté some garlic, onion, veggies (I use a mixture of frozen and fresh, whatever is around), add some turkey meat, fresh oregano and hot sauce and the stock and it’s turkey soup or stew for lunch.

According to a report to be published in the Oct. 22 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Japanese researchers have found that collagen proteins found in chicken may actually lower blood pressure.

Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, said,

"As this study suggests, some collagen in chicken may lower blood pressure. But be careful. The salt we put on our chicken and in our chicken soup may offset or even reverse this potential benefit."

I don’t add salt.