30 Helens and most of 635 epidemiologists agree: Stay at home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, both the Canadian, in early October, and the American, today, the last Thursday in November.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has finally found a consistent voice and has recommendations to make #Thanksgiving safer. Bring your own food and drinks, stay at least 6 feet apart, and wash your hands often. Choose outdoor or well-ventilated spaces.

Most importantly, CDC and others strongly recommend to celebrate only with those you live with, and use virtual gatherings with others (I am exceedingly thankful for the electronic toys we have to help weather the pandemic; 1918 and the Spanish flu would have really sucked).

Of course, the current White House occupant is planning on hosting several parties throughout the holidays. Please ignore Trump et al. and listen to the science.

To that end, the N.Y. Times surveyed 635 epidemiologists and found that most are staying at home, and that those who are gathering with family or friends are taking precautions or rethinking their holiday rituals altogether.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving my American friends and colleagues, and be thankful that someone will live with you.

Australia has somewhat enviable statistics related to this pandemic and the lesson that America is only beginning to grasp is this: go fast, go hard and go smart to limit the spread of coronavirus or any illness.

So hard done by: Not

I built this electronic community originally as the Food Safety Network beginning in Jan. 1993. I consider it one big food safety family.

I provided a health update, not because I sought sympathy, but because I thought I should let the family know what was going on and why my writing had declined.

Australia is currently burning, and every time someone who has just lost everything is interviewed, they talk about how grateful they are for what they have and how they will plunge ahead.

It’s the Australian way, and I am very much of that attitude.

I am not wallowing, I am grateful that Deb will be here in a few minutes for the next four hours (not sure we can go for a walk, there is so much smoke in Brisbane from the fires 100km away that health warnings have been issued).

I’ll continue to teach her about hockey (in Australia you have to call it ice hockey).

And look at these two. They have arrived in Paris, where it’s 5C, and they have no winter clothes, because we are spoiled in Brisbane.









They’ll figure it out and have a great time.

How blessed am I to have so much family?


Two grandsons, two birthdays, proud papa from afar

I had coffee with a friend this morning after dropping Sorenne off at school.

She was interested in psychology and I shared with her what I thought was relevant.

But it was watching the women in my life skating last night, and I just sat there with a shit-eating grin on my face.

Amy and Sorenne, playing hockey and wanting more ice.

Go figure.

Daughter 1 (Madelynn) and daughter 2 (Jaucelynn) both have children of their own now, with birthdays within a week.

Gabe turned 4, and Emerson turned 2.

They both apparently like cake

I miss them but it was best I leave, however painful that was.

And it was a long time ago.

Is your in-laws’ cooking a food safety failure

The occasional relative will welcome my help in the kitchen. That’s Amy’s aunt Jean (right) as we prepped dinner in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. We talked food safety and I complimented her on stringent thermometer use.

But many dinners with family or friends can be food safety nightmares. Cross-contamination is rampant, temperature control inadequate, and the source of ingredients suspect.

Someone called Grossed Out wrote the Toronto Sun to say her mother-in-law does not wash her hands.

“During our Christmas visit, she and I went grocery shopping. We returned and prepared the leftovers. She "re-mashed" the potatoes with her bare hands — without ever washing her hands. … Is there any way to bring this to her attention without hurting her feelings?”

Columnist Amy Dickinson responds,

“This is extremely unappetizing, not to mention unhealthy. If your mother-in-law handled uncooked chicken or shellfish and then plunged her unwashed hands directly into a bowl of mashed potatoes, for instance, this could cross-contaminate foods and spread foodborne illness.

“If you were pregnant and contracted Listeria from these unsanitary practices, it could be disastrous. …

“Try saying: ‘Mom, I’m very concerned about hand washing in the kitchen and I notice you’re pretty casual about it. Can you help me out here? I feel like I can’t eat comfortably unless the cook washes her hands often.’"

Other suggestions?

1 dead, 10 sick from E. coli at Missouri Thanksgiving meal

Details are trickling out about the death of Jasper County, Missouri, resident from E. coli last week.

The Joplin Globe reports this morning that a food or a beverage served at a Thanksgiving dinner is the apparent source of an E. coli outbreak that killed a 51-year-old Carthage woman and sickened several other people.

Tony Moehr, director of the Jasper County Health Department, said,

“We have two confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 in Jasper County. One of the cases resulted in a death.”

Moehr said a third confirmed case of the bacterial infection has been reported in Dade County and involves someone who attended the Thanksgiving dinner.

“It appears the cases are related to a family gathering for Thanksgiving on Nov. 27,” he said. “We have identified seven or eight additional illnesses related to that gathering, but we don’t have the test results back for them. These cases occurred around the same period of time but were not as severe.”

It is believed that 11 of the 24 people who attended the event became ill.

The department, Moehr said, did not issue a press release about the E. coli death because the incident was associated with a family gathering and did not pose a threat to the public.

The Mazurs and Food Safety

I like to think of myself as being quite conscious of food safety, but I have learned so much since starting my work with the International Food Safety Network six months ago.  Not only do I think more about washing my hands and cleaning food properly, I’ve told my family members about it as well.

My mom has become a regular reader of BarfBlog and we’ve also discussed a few of the articles at the dinner table.  When we’re out doing things and we see someone doing something unsafe with food (like picking food up off the floor and eating it) one of our favorite things to do is say, “Doug wouldn’t like that.”

It turns out that there are a few things in the lives of the Mazurs that “Doug wouldn’t like.”  A prime example is one of our favorite restaurants on the East side of Wichita.  They serve traditional Indian food, buffet style.  The restaurant is family owned, and as far as I know they have a relatively clean restaurant up to code according to the city.  But during my interview for my job with Doug, we discussed this restaurant and I distinctly remember him telling me it wasn’t a good idea to eat at a buffet.  The food sits out for hours and so many people go up and contaminate it, even with a sneeze guard.

He’s right, buffet style is a food safety nightmare , but unfortunately it hasn’t stopped our family from eating there once every two weeks.  I have yet to get sick from the buffet, so I continue to play the game of Russian roulette with the possible pathogens in the Indian food.  Each time we sit down at that restaurant we all say, “Doug sure wouldn’t approve of this.