Inappropriate complaints – NYC pizza topping edition

DNA Info reports that an apoplectic pizza parlor patron scratched two of the eatery’s employees after one of them told her they didn’t have pizza with chicken on top, police said.

Merilu Pizza Al MetroAn employee at Merilu Pizza Al Metro told police she was working at the pizzeria at 791 Ninth Ave. around 12:35 a.m. on Feb. 29 when Divya Viveka, 26, came in and ordered pizza with chicken on top.

After the 49-year-old employee told the Manhattan resident that they didn’t have that kind of pie, the customer became “irate” and scratched the employee’s palm, the worker told police.

The clawing left the employee with a cut and redness on her left palm, a complaint filed with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said.

When a 39-year-old male employee tried to stop Viveka, she scratched him on his left forearm, leaving him in pain with several scratches, the DA’s office said.

Viveka was arrested and charged with two counts of assault, one count of attempted assault and one count of harassment, the complaint said.

Evan Henke: For the Jucy Lucy and stuffed burgers, the food safety jury is still out

Evan Henke, a student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (right, sorta as shown), writes in this guest post:

During a recent trip to a Minneapolis restaurant, I ordered what is perhaps Minneapolis’s most significant contribution to the culinary world: the “Jucy Lucy.”

Legend has it that the Lucy, a hamburger with cheese stuffed inside of the beef patty before cooking (right, not exactly as shown), was invented in Minneapolis, although debate still rages as to which burger joint was the first to offer the Lucy to its customers. As I bit into the Lucy, I noticed that the center of the burger was quite undercooked, and I did not notice the use of a thermometer on the nearby grill. I immediately wondered what effect stuffing the cheese inside of the patty had on the survival of foodborne pathogens during the cooking process.

Maybe the added weight of the cheese would better insulate the side of the burger exposed to the surface grill compared to cooking a normal patty of equal thickness without flipping. Maybe any added moisture in the cheese would help kill any pathogen present in the beef, as long as the moisture was present.

But the true food safety implications of stuffing a ground beef patty with cheese or other ingredients are not well documented (left, not exactly as shown). The amounts of fat and water that escape from the cheese during cooking are not documented, and how those amounts affect the survival of foodborne pathogens present in the patty is unclear. It has been documented that E. coli O157:H7 shows increased resistance to heat in patties with higher fat and lower moisture contents[1]. It is possible that the composition of a stuffed burger, depending on the stuffing and fat and moisture content of the ground beef, could favor the survival of foodborne pathogens relative to a burger with no stuffing.

In a world of foods that taste delicious but can be deleterious to your health, the Jucy Lucy and stuffed burgers sizzle in mystery. How the addition of cheese to the center of the patty affects the survival of foodborne pathogens ought to be documented, not just for the health of my fellow Minneapolitans, but for the health of burger eaters everywhere. And of course, thermometer use is recommended whenever preparing ground beef.

The Make Your Own Jucy Lucy video is included below Warning: Conventional safe cooking technique not displayed in video.

Evan Henke is a student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Health. An avid fan of foodborne disease epidemiology and food safety, he spends most of his free time angering his friends with his knowledge of the food chain and careful scrutiny of food safety practices.

1. Ahmed, Nahed M., Donald E. Conner, and Dale L. Huffman. "Heat-Resistance of Escherichia Coli O157:H7 in Meat and Poultry as Affected by Product Composition." Journal of Food Science 60.3 (1995): 606-10.


Making Your Own Jucy Lucys from The Heavy Table on Vimeo.