Step away from the turkey II: bad advice from experts?

Thanksgiving brings a flurry of turkey tips, but the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension seem to have some conflicting advice.

More-doctors-smoke-Camels-than-any-other-cigaretteUniversity of Illinois Extension says, “Wash the turkey inside and out and pat skin dry with paper towels,” yet most other Extension advice is, don’t wash the damn bird, you’ll have bacteria flying everywhere.

And, if smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with deep ashtrays After the guests leave, check inside, under upholstery and in trash cans for smoldering cigarette butts.

One hundred years of food safety extension

Ellen Thomas, PhD candidate in the department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at NC State writes,

When I was growing up, I made occasional trips with my dad to the local extension office to drop off soil samples (we lived on a farm). Up until about 5 years ago, this was really my only experience with Cooperative Extension. It wasn’t until I began graduate school that I was introduced to the far-reaching world of extension. This year marks 100 years of Cooperative Extension in the United States.10447625_692765530308_9060931799503108221_n A United States Department of Agriculture’s extension webpage details the Congressional acts that initially created extension, as well as the primary goals of extension today. I also dug into numerous universities’ cooperative extension pages to learn more about how extension has evolved over the past century, and found numerous examples of agricultural courses offered to consumers, research conducted to improve food safety and communicate those steps to consumers, and technologies developed to vastly improve efficiency and opportunity for growers.

Ellen took the lead on an article for Food Safety Magazine on detailing some of the history of food safety as it relates to the food industry, reprinted below.

Land-grant universities in the United States were established with the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. Their mission was to educate the public on subjects of agriculture, home economics and other practical tasks in the home—to literally extend research and help families across the country. While food safety was not initially within the mission’s scope, food safety has a strong and intertwined history within land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension.

In 1890, Professor Stephen M. Babcock at the University of Wisconsin invented a device that tested the butterfat content of milk quickly and efficiently. He shared this technology with the university and dairy industry throughout the state, creating an open and engaging relationship between the university and the public that continues to this day.

In the early 1900s, advocates began to call for better-quality milk, as well as bringing milk sanitation laws and training inspectors to be consistent in how they enforced regulations. This led to creation of the International Association of Dairy and Milk Inspectors in 1912 (the precursor to the International Association of Food Protection). One of the nation’s greatest challenges was how to obtain the most technical, up-to-date information, and to effectively communicate it to dairy farmers.

In addition to teaching and research, land-grant universities have a long tradition of connecting academics and research to the masses, originally in largely rural areas through a delivery mechanism known as extension; 2014 marks 100 years of the Cooperative Extension system in the United States. The Smith-Lever Act in 1914 further solidified the role of extension in land-grant universities by creating a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in which USDA would provide funds to each state to carry out extension work.

In North Carolina, strong extension programs emerged from canning clubs and corn clubs. These organizations were effective in providing useful information for those interested in home preservation, increasing crop yields, volunteerism and community fellowship. The clubs later developed into 4-H. The structure and overall group principles of 4-H were defined in 1919 at a meeting in Kansas City. Today, 4-H reaches 7 million American children and includes groups in rural, urban and suburban communities in every state; youth are exposed to a wide variety of topics in agriculture and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

During World War I, extension helped increase crop yields and home preserving, as well as the organization of groups to fill gaps in the labor force. Extension helped create farming cooperatives and provided instruction on home practices to aid families during the Depression. During World War II, extension dramatically increased food production as part of the Victory Garden program.

In the 1960s, Rutgers University extension agricultural engineer William Roberts revolutionized greenhouse farming with the innovation of pumping air between plastic films. Approximately 65 percent of commercial greenhouses throughout the world use this technology today. Further similar greenhouse technology developments continued under Roberts in the years that followed.

In 1969, President Lyndon Johnson began the Expanded Food Nutrition Extension Program (EFNEP) as part of his War on Poverty. Program assistants were trained to teach nutrition and food safety, and to promote overall wellness. EFNEP now operates in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas and Micronesia. There are both adult and youth programs with the goal of promoting high-quality diets among audiences with lower incomes and limited access to resources.

The Master Gardener program began at Washington State University in the 1970s with the idea to train volunteers in horticulture to educate the public to reach a larger audience. The curriculum included culturing plants, fruits and vegetables, and grasses; how to deal with pests, diseases and weeds; and how to safely administer pesticides. The curriculum was administered by state- and county-based faculty. Over time, the program has grown, gaining more recognition; it is now sponsored across the United States and Canada. The program structure has also been extended to other portions of extension, such as food preservation.

In 1988, listeriosis, a highly infectious and potentially serious illness caused by the bacterium Listeria, was linked to hot dogs and deli meats. The tragic outbreak included 108 cases, with 14 deaths and 4 miscarriages or stillbirths. Researchers at Colorado State University conducted extensive experiments to characterize Listeria and explore methods of mitigating its prevalence in foods. High-risk groups, particularly pregnant women, were the focus, and suggestions for reducing risk, such as heating deli meats before consumption, were distributed in extension fact sheets nationally.

Kansas State University enjoys a strong relationship with a variety of meat producers, which has been building over the past few decades. Meat science faculty engage in research related to meat quality, sensory evaluation, meat safety, color stability, packaging and numerous other factors related to meat from slaughter to handling at home. The department offers courses on campus and through distance learning, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points courses throughout the Midwest and value-added services for meat processors. The department has been releasing papers on optimal equipment for small producers, handling wild game and other technologies since the 1990s.

With the increase of foodborne illness associated with produce in the 1990s and 2000s, the University of California, Davis, established the Center for Produce Safety in 2007, which integrates industry, government and academic research with the ultimate goal of maximizing produce yields while maintaining the best quality and safety of product. The center provides short courses, workshops and certifications for produce growers, related to quality, postharvest technology and safety, and has funded numerous research projects.

Extension faces many challenges and opportunities as the system moves into its second century. While state and federal appropriations and other funding streams have decreased recently, agriculture has also changed—less than 2 percent of Americans are farmers today. The Food Safety Modernization Act, with the goal of making food safer, will provide many food businesses with new regulations to comply with. Cooperative Extension will continue to play an integral part in assisting businesses (especially the small and very small) to assess and manage food safety issues—and help consumers understand what goes into making food safe. Extension programs across the country have also increased their social media presence, continue to provide evidence-based recommendations and conduct applied research that affects food from farm to fork. Extension has adapted to numerous changes over the past century, taking the lead in bringing new food safety technologies to agriculture and food production worldwide.

19 sick, 1 dead; Alabama Extension system ends E. coli silence, says meals served safely

I figured I’d wait and see what the Alabama Cooperative Extension System had to say about a foodborne illness outbreak at one of its events – it is Extension, which gets millions of taxpayer dollars to inform people about food – but nothing surfaced.

spongebob.oil.colbert.may3.10At least 19 people reported becoming ill after attending an ACES-hosted luncheon at Bridge Builders Church on Beltline Road on May 30, 2014. A private lab has confirmed three cases of E. coli and salmonella in the ongoing investigation.

Clarence Hampton, 71, died six days after the event. According to a family member, Hampton’s doctor said he tested positive for the E. coli bacteria. Autopsy results have not been released.

“The Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Program Unit of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System under its Successful Aging Initiative was the sponsor of an SAI Conference held in Morgan County on May 30, 2014,” according to the unsigned statement ACES provided to The Daily. “As is customary, meals were served during the conference with strict adherence to all procedures and regulations for health and safety.”

The ACES statement said it is cooperating with health authorities.

“Over 300 persons attended the conference and were served meals,” the ACES statement said. “We have been made aware of two complaints that were filed with the Health Department alleging food poisoning emanating from the event.”

According to Michael Tubbs, executive director of Community Action Partnership in Decatur, a member of his staff contacted ACES a week after the event to report that some from CAPNA who attended the luncheon were getting sick. Tubbs said at least two dozen CAPNA employees and volunteers became sick, including Hampton, who worked as a senior companion.“We were not responsible for the event, but we are responsible for our volunteers,” Tubbs said Monday. “I am disappointed that others did not address this early on, when they could have and should have.”

According to its website, ACES “operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn universities.”

Lots can talk, but can they actually deliver food safety video without classroom command-and-control

It’s been almost 10 years since me and the ex-wife and the four kids got in the family van for our outsized family to drive to Atlanta for the annual meeting of what is now know as the International Association for Food Protection (that’s Carl Custer, right, going to deliver his Ivan Parkin lecture a few years later and trying to convince Randy Phebus to buy a decent bike)..

I was to give the Ivan Parkin lecture at the gala opening, and then would be supervising my kids as they grabbed as many freebies as possible when the trade show opened.

But we never made it.

We got to Detroit about 8 am on the Saturday morning after a 3-hour drive, and the kindly border guard said, sir, have you ever been arrested?

I sais yes, and said I have been in the U.S. about every other week for the previous three years, and she said , that’s nice, go on over there.

The dreaded secondary inspection.

I was subsequently informed after a couple of hours hanging out with my 5, 7, 10, 13-year-olds – and wife – that the U.S. had changed it’s border policy I would have to apply for a waiver to enter the U.S. and that would take six months.

But I’m supposed to talk in Atlanta tomorrow?

Six months.

The hungry family and I retreated to an IHOP in Windsor (that’s on the Canadian side of the U.S. border with Detroit), they ate syrupy stuff and I called IAFP leadership types in Atlanta.

We had been doing some consumer research at a farm market selling genetically engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes, and decided to start videotaping stuff, even though didn’t exist and we weren’t sure what to do with the tapes. But we had bought a video recording device. So I suggested we tape the talk, e-mail it to Atlanta, and they could broadcast it.

There was no way I was getting across the border.

Because I like to be prepared, I hadn’t really done anything for this big-shot talk, so the ex-wife drove the three hours back to Guelph, I made up my talk, and Katija came over and taped me talking in my kitchen. That talk was broadcast as the Ivan Parkin lecture at the IAFP annual meeting the next night.

Now, it’s sorta routine. I’ve given at least 20 keynote speeches and presentations via programs such as Skype and iChat since 2000, using a combination of live video feeds and pre-recorded video, for crowds ranging in size from five to 800 people.

As reported in a campus publication this week,

According to Powell, there are many advantages to using this form of technology in delivering speeches, such as eliminating the costs and stresses of travel and increasing a professor’s overall availability. Although, it does come with additional challenges, he said, such as the ever-present possibility of disrupted Internet feed and a lack of feedback from the audience.

"I actually find it forces me to be more creative," he said. "If you’re giving a talk in person, you can tell when people are sort of zoning out or falling asleep and you can modify it. You don’t get that on video because you’re talking to a camera."

Powell said to help spice up the video feed he often integrates action segments into his pre-recorded speeches, for example, utilizing cooking as a form of demonstration.

Apparently Republican Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty agrees with me, which is somewhat creepy. Pawlenty was on The Daily Show last week, and while poorly declining his presidential aspirations, said some decent stuff about education:

“For example, higher education. … Do you really think in 20 years someone’s going to put on their backpack, drive a half-hour to the University of Minnesota from the suburbs, haul their keester across campus, to sit and listen to some boring person drone on about Econ 101 or Spanish 101?

Is there another way to deliver the service other than a one-size fits all monopoly that says show up at 9 a.m on Wednesday. for Econ 101, Can’t I just pull that down on my iphone or ipad whenever the heck I feel like it and wherever I feel like it, and instead of paying thousands of dollars, can I pay $199 for iCollege instead of $0.99 for iTunes.

Pawlenty says this stuff about 5 minutes into the clip. Bricks and mortar just isn’t necessary for a lot of so-called education.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Tim Pawlenty Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

barfblog, bites, and food safety

Foodborne illness can be an unpleasant experience or something more serious. The World Health Organization estimates up to 2 billion people get sick from food and water each year – 30 per cent of all citizens in all countries.

Dr. Douglas Powell, associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University, leads a group of individuals passionately committed to reducing the incidence of foodborne illness, through research, teaching and information. The group strives daily to be the international leader in comprehensive and compelling food safety information that impacts individual lives – and reduces the number of sick people.

The electronic publications, and, are comprehensive, current and compelling sources of food safety news and analysis, and help foster a farm-to-fork culture that values microbiologically safe food.

•    The effectiveness of food safety messages and media in public discussions of food safety issues, such as the risks of listeria to pregnant women, legislation surrounding raw milk, public availability of restaurant inspection data, and the safety of fresh produce, are evaluated through qualitative and quantitative methods.

•    Observational research methodologies are used to quantify individual food safety behaviors from farm-to-fork, to enhance handwashing compliance, thermometer use, food packaging information and interventions that can reduce the number of people that get sick from the food and water they consume.

•    A graduate program in food safety risk analysis – including food safety, language, culture and policy — is being developed and will include distance-education.

•    Courses are currently taught in Food Safety Risk Analysis, and Food Safety Reporting.

•    Dr. Powell is the publisher and editor of bites and barfblog, rapid, reliable and relevant sources of food safety information. Dr. Ben Chapman of North Carolina State University is the assistant editor.

•    bites and barfblog are produced by a cross-cultural team of secondary, undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals who create multilingual and multicultural food safety and security information, including weekly food safety information sheets, and multimedia resources.

•    Research, educational and journalistic opportunities are available for secondary, undergraduate and graduate students through and

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Douglas Powell
associate professor, food safety
dept. diagnostic medicine/pathobiology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS
cell: 785-317-0560
fax: 785-532-4039


Dr. Benjamin Chapman
Food Safety Specialist
Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences
NC Cooperative Extension Service
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 7606 (512 Brickhaven Drive)
Raleigh, NC  27695-7606
919.515.8099 (office)
919.809.3205 (cell)