The need for food packaging: The French fight back

When I was on The Dr. Oz show for 30 seconds a couple of months ago, I noted that leading supermarkets are taking steps to minimize contact between the thousands of sniffling, sneezing and wheezing customers who daily rifle through bread bins, climb on piles of plantains, and snort olives.

Albert Amgar alerted me to a new spot from the French Plastic and Flexible Packaging Association, highlighting the need for food packaging. I’m looking at you, Whole Foods. 

Rats filmed in Honolulu’s Chinatown market

Here’s the video of rats in a Chinatown market that sparked the story in the Honolulu Advertiser that Chapman just blogged about.

The video sparked a Department of Health inspection of Pacing’s, which was cited for a violation.

The Geller rat video has been seen by tens of thousands of people, and has spurred some to stop coming to Chinatown, according to shop owners, who say business has decreased — by 30 to 50 percent or more — over the last weeks.

Last year, Sekiya’s Restaurant in Kaimukí closed its doors for days and dumped all its food after an E. coli outbreak, which sickened seven.

Dancing in the Loo wins, wins, wins at the Gloden Poo awards

Occasional guest barfblogger and handwashing advocate Michéle Samarya-Timm, now with the Somerset County Health Department in central New Jersey – represent – writes:

Usually poo is an undesirable thing. Regular readers know about the focus on poo avoidance – through proper farm-to-fork food handling, through sound regulatory practices, and through increased handwashing. We inform using po(o)p culture. We use humor. We use reality.

And it doesn’t get much more real than this — The International Golden Poo Awards were held in London last week.

Imagine, a red-carpet paparazzi filled evening at a majestic theatre, to view a program full of short animated films about hygiene and poo – culminating in the presentation of a coveted golden statuette. How better to increase awareness of handwashing and heap praise on those who are helping to spread the clean hands message in unique, humorous and gross ways?

Golden Poo Award nominees included:

•    For your convenience

•    Symphony Number Two

•    A Film about Poo

•    Poo in Passing

•    Are you spreading poo?

•    Toilet Plant

And the winner: Dancing in the Loo (above).

The winning videos can be found at

Several of my colleagues already commented that these videos were a little too focused on fecal matter. Perhaps. But as noted in the recent UK study – the perception of gross seems to increase handwashing amongst some audiences.

Cats shouldn’t hang out in supermarket meat cases

Cats like meat.

Even though we live in central Manhattan (Kansas), there’s a small greenbelt behind the house and we’ve had visitors such as deer, turkeys, and yesterday, a fox.

The raccoons, squirrels, birds and rabbits are everywhere.

My two black cats have had happy hunting since our 2006 arrival, and left me a pair of lucky rabbits feet the other day (the two black ones, as kittens in this pic, from 2003; the other one, named Lucky, wasn’t so lucky).

Because cats like meat, it’s a good idea to keep them out of supermarkets, especially those with a butcher shop, or a meat case with open doors.

A colleague sent along this video of a cat in a meat case in a supermarket, apparently, according to readers’ comments, in St. Petersburgh, Russia. Not good supermarket food safety practices.

Gratuitous food porn shot of the day – scrambled eggs with veggies and toast

Sorenne eating breakfast with dad, Oct. 9, 2009, 7:00 a.m.

Saute fresh rosemary, garlic, red pepper and garden-fresh tomato (the nighttime temperatures are cooler, but not quite freezing yet, when what’s left of the herbs and tomatoes will move inside). Add scrambled eggs, salt and pepper, cooking the salmonella out of the eggs. Serve with whole grain toast.

That’s toast. I like … toast.

Does it suck or not? USDA’s version of protect your baby and yourself from listeriosis

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, eager to groove with the youtube generation but without the grossness that thrives online, released a video today highlighting the potential for certain foods to cause listeriosis in pregnant women.

I don’t know if it works so I asked Chapman. He said the video doesn’t spend enough time on deli meats, the food that risk assessments have shown was much riskier than others. He also said it’s not bad, but somewhat patronizing, but he’s also not a pregnant woman.

For which we are all grateful.

I asked a former pregnant woman, Amy, to look at the video. She said,

“The voices are crazy. I love the idea that she had her baby while they were filming.

“Why do they pick such a boring male narrator? Like I want to listen to him tell me about what not to eat.

“He sounds like he should be the voice of the Pork Bureau.”

These are anecdotal responses. I look forward to USDA releasing the results of their video evaluation research so taxpayers can be assured these attempts at video aren’t just wasting time and money.

Does Domino’s Pizza get new media?

Domino’s Pizza posted a youtube response last night and has moved quickly to douse the Internet-fanned yuckiness of poop in its pizza.

But when Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre told USA Today today the company is considering banning video cameras in stores, I wonder if they actually understand this social networking stuff – and that anyone can have a video camera on their cell phone.

The USA Today piece explains that two Domino’s employees in Conover, N.C. — fired and facing charges — posted a video on YouTube on Monday that shows one of them doing gross things to a Domino’s sub sandwich he is making, such as sticking cheese pieces up his nose and passing gas on the salami.

Although Domino’s is getting fairly high marks from social-networking and crisis-management types about its response, McIntyre told the N.Y. Times today that company executives initially decided not to respond aggressively, hoping the controversy would quiet down.

Scott Hoffman, the chief marketing officer of the social-media marketing firm Lotame, said in social media, “if you think it’s not going to spread, that’s when it gets bigger.”

That’s actually traditional media 101, but sure, dress it up with terms like new and social media.
By Wednesday afternoon, Domino’s had created a Twitter account, @dpzinfo, to address the comments, and it had presented its chief executive in a video on YouTube by evening (see below).

Yet more than one commentator has said the video may make things worse.

Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle fails to look into the camera. Instead his eyes peer at 45 degrees, presumably in the direction of a script. The effect is not reassuring. What is even more unfortunate for Domino’s is that the posting of the video apology has caused even more YouTube commentary about the company, some of it extremely unflattering.

However, marketers are getting an instant lesson in the dangers of an online world where just about anyone with a video camera and a grudge can bring a company to its knees with lightning speed.

Here are key things experts say marketers can do to quickly catch and respond effectively to similar social-networking attacks:

• monitor social media;

• respond quickly;

• respond at the flashpoint (Domino’s first responded on consumer affairs blog The Consumerist, whose readers helped track down the store and employees who made the video);

• educate workers about social media;

• foster a positive culture; and,

• set clear guidelines.

We covered many of the same points in our Food Technology paper about food safety blogging that appeared earlier this year.

Domino’s YouTube pizza ‘prank:’ arrest warrants issued

Arrest warrants have been issued for Kristy and Michael, the two former Domino’s employees who had their 15-minutes of Internet fame yesterday.

The videos are available at GoodAsYou, including one of Michael wiping his ass with a sponge and then using it to clean a pan, and another in which Kristy says, "Did you all see that? He just blew a booger on those sandwiches.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that Catawba County health inspection records show the Domino’s in Conover, on 10th Street N.W., has a very good sanitation rating — 96.5. In fact, its last four inspections have produced scores ranging from 95.5 to 97.5.

Domino’s officials and Catawba County health department inspectors took nothing to chance late Tuesday, sanitizing all equipment in the restaurant and throwing away all opened food items.

NewsChannel 36, the Observer’s news partner, said Kristy sent an email to Domino’s officials, saying it was a prank and that she and Michael never would prepare food that way — in contrast to what they said on the video.

Domino’s officials responded to the video Tuesday, sending out a news release that said, “We are appalled by the actions of these individuals and they do not represent the 125,000 hard-working men and women of Domino’s Pizza across the country and in 60 countries around the world.”

Bite Me ’09: First gig, Raleigh, North Carolina

It was like Spinal Tap goes to the airforce base (below).

But Ben’s dad enjoyed the talk, New messages, media, to reduce incidence of foodborne disease.

The global incidence of foodborne illness continues to rise. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 per cent of individuals in developed countries suffer from foodborne illness each year . Current strategies for compelling individuals and organizations to practice food safety appear inadequate and are rarely evaluated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported in April 2008 that efforts to reduce foodborne illness have stalled. New messages using new media are required to create a culture that values microbiologically safe food.

Culture encompasses the shared values, mores, customary practices, inherited traditions, and prevailing habits of communities. The culture of today’s food system (including its farms, food processing facilities, domestic and international distribution channels, retail outlets, restaurants, and domestic kitchens) is saturated with information but short on behavioral-change insights. Creating a culture of food safety requires application of the best science with the best management and communication systems, including compelling, rapid, relevant, reliable and repeated, multi-linguistic and culturally-sensitive messages.

The effectiveness of multilingual, convergent and distinctive food safety communications must be evaluated by direct observation – people lie a lot on surveys. A novel video capture system will be discussed.

The talk went well. We captured everything on video so the material will get used in about 30 places.

And after doing my usual, why are animal activists the only ones who know how to use a video camera spiel, Cargill Beef announced today it had implemented a third-party video-auditing system that will operate 24 hours a day at its U.S. beef harvesting plants to enhance the company’s animal welfare protection systems. All of Cargill’s U.S. plants are expected to have the program in place by the end of 2009.

We’ve now traveled to North Myrtle Beach for a few days of golf with a bunch of other Canadians.

And Amy appears to have some sort of foodborne illness.