Bye-bye BITES-l

That’s host Sammy Maudlin (right), as Dave Thomas’ drink-loving Captain Kangaroo answers the phone during the 1978 Second City TV (SCTV) satire of TV telethons.

Once a year, I ask for money to support the 2-3 X daily distribution of food safety news to tens of thousands, with consecutive posts dating back to 1994.

The funding is no longer there.

So it’s time to do something else.

We will continue to blog about food safety developments, and be relevant rather than repetitive. Tonight will be the last bites-l listserv posting. I may revisit things in a couple of months, but for now, it’s time to do something else.

Bill Marler donates to International Food Safety Network

Fifteen years ago this week, Seattle lawyer Bill Marler and
Kansas State University professor Douglas Powell were drawn into the
food safety arena when the Washington Department of Health announced
that Jack in the Box restaurants were the source of a multi-state
outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. Now, the two are teaming up to
further promote awareness of food safety.

Marler, who has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other
foodborne illness outbreaks since representing more than 100 victims of
the Jack in the Box outbreak, has pledged to donate $25,000 to Powell’s
group, the International Food Safety Network — iFSN — at Kansas State
University. The group, which was formed in 1993 when Powell began
researching the impact and influence of food safety information on
farmers, processors, retailers, consumers and regulators, produces
several electronic mailing lists to disseminate food safety information
across the globe. In addition, Marler has pledged to match all other
donations made to iFSN in 2008, up to $25,000.

In thanking Marler for the donation, Powell said,

"All money donated to iFSN will be used to fund students in developing and carrying out a
variety of projects. These will focus on the use of new media and new
messages to compel individuals from farm-to-fork to take steps to
reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.

"Bill Marler is an outstanding advocate for food safety and understands
that microbiologically safe food just doesn’t happen," said Powell.
"Any lawyer can talk the talk. Bill walks the talk."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76
million Americans get sick and 5,000 die each and every year after
consuming contaminated food and water. The Jack in the Box outbreak in
the Pacific Northwest, which killed four and sickened over 600, was the
tipping point for American public awareness of the risks posed by
dangerous microorganisms in food.

Meet iFSN: Danielle Dring

When I started with the International  Food Safety Network a few months ago, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I have actually only met one of my co-workers, Stephanie Maurer.

She helped me get into to touch with Doug and the rest of the “Newsies” as I call them. I work for the Food Safety Network out of Omaha. And my educational background is actually in French. So to be honest this has been more than a just a job; for me the research for the Food Safety Network has helped me learn a lot about food safety.

I have previously worked in the food service industry; and I can tell you that you really should know what you are eating when you choose to eat out. I have also decided to help out more in the kitchen at home; this is coming from the self-proclaimed “kitchen-illiterate” chef. You, and your contributions to the Food Safety Network, can help me reach more people and help them to learn as much as I have learned, ending “kitchen-illiteracy” with everyone who reads our blogs and listservs.

Meet iFSN: Andrew Reece

When I went to Canada in May 2005 I had no idea what I was getting into. I signed up for an exchange program between Kansas State University and the University of Guelph on a whim, and a month later I was in a town I had never heard of, and in an empty dorm where for the first 3 weeks the only other person I saw was the doorman.

I had never heard of the International Food Safety Network, but I was a junior in food science at the time so I thought I had a little background on food safety. Turns out I was just scratching the surface of this deep subject. After an amazing summer, I went back to Kansas State with expanded knowledge and a new interest.

I finished up my bachelors degree this past spring and am now working on my MSc at KSU. While working for iFSN I have successfully: increased my knowledge on food safety, found a path that differs from the normal food science route, furthered my education, and I have learned a lot of new skills — check out my videos.

However, the best thing about working for the iFSN is being able to create a food safety dialogue with those around me. Now when I go to a restaurant and am asked “How would you like your burger done?”, I can use the question as a conversation starter instead of getting a bloody piece of meat.

With your donations, college students will have more options for work and study, and you will be helping create a larger public discussion about food safety.

Meet iFSN: Danny Unruh

Greetings! I am a Freshman at Kansas State, majoring in Food Science and Industry, with an emphasis on Pre-Medicine, and a minor in Leadership Studies.

I must admit, when I began with iFSN I was a little apprehensive: my boss was wearing shirts about poop and barf, and I was finding articles about poop and barf. Yet now, a month into this endeavor, I realize it is about much more than that. It’s about keeping people safe, and making it fun and interesting along the way. Therefore, I spent my winter break bragging about my great job and how interesting it is.

The thing is, I really want to keep my job. More than that, however, is the urge we feel to keep people informed; it’s a passion we intend to keep moving. With your kindness and donations, you can keep me working and keep yourself from barfing.

Meet iFSN: Stephanie Maurer

Hey y’all!

My name’s Steph, and I am a newbie graduate from Kansas State with a bachelor’s in Animal Science, a minor in French, and a certificate in Equine studies.

Currently, I am working for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and  iFSN.  Luckily for me, Doug is kind enough to keep me on part-time so I can stay connected online and watch my TV shows ;).

I didn’t realize how important food safety is, until I began pulling news for iFSN at the beginning of last year.  Now, I try my best to keep my mother out of the kitchen, and thanks to that, I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas without barfing.

Through donations and other helpful contributions to the network we can help the world realize the importance of food safety like I did, and save them from barfing as well.

Meet iFSN: Ella Reusser

I’m a senior in Marketing and Spanish at KSU.

When I’m not fighting in the trenches of Hale Library jacked up on coffee, I pull news for iFSN.

Being a business major, the world of food safety was quite foreign to me until I joined the network. Now you can find me patrolling the local bathrooms lecturing on the importance of proper handwashing. I am also the marketing coordinator for the KSU Student Union and one of the tasks I have incorporated into my position is writing articles regarding food safety in the K-State student newspaper, the Collegian.

Expanding our knowledge about food safety is key to making this network grow and prosper. Through donations and other helpful contributions to the network we can make this food-addicted country safer, one bite at a time.

Meet iFSN: Ben Chapman

Doug is going broke.  Not personally, but iFSN is beginning to hurt for money.  Over my years as an undergraduate news puller and graduate student I’ve benefitted from you, our generous readership, and I figure it’s time to try and generate some cash and replenish the reserves for the next generation of iFSN.  Here’s my message: Please continue to give.

We do good work, always trying to chase down the most up-to-date food risk information from around the world, provide our pithy commentary and conduct reality-based research.  We’ve posed as shoppers in grocery stores, watched hundreds of hours of celebrity chefs, watched consumers prepare food and now have cameras up in kitchens to evaluate training interventions.  We really do care about this stuff.

Being around iFSN for as long as I have has given me an appreciation for all the behind-the-scenes labour that goes into our activities, and since Doug’s move to Kansas State we’ve attracted another fantastic crop of undergraduate and graduate students to help carry it out. iFSN is all about developing keen, creative and passionate students who are committed to reducing the risks of foodborne illness.  Past members of the iFSN family have gone on to be faculty members, industry leaders, and yes, surprisingly, some even work as regulators. So your support of the iFSN has a reach far beyond just our group.

Oh, and Doug gets grumpy when money gets low, so donations make our lives easier (and we can focus all the cool things we do).

We can’t offer you any DVDs of British comedies or Ken Burns documentaries like they do on PBS, but we can offer a very cool Don’t Eat Poop or barfblog tshirt in exchange for your support.  They are really stylish as well, so not only will you be helping iFSN, you’ll be dressing better (and I’ve met many of you, you need all the help you can get).  So please continue to give.

Meet iFSN: Chris Babcock

Two bananas relaxing on a riverbank suddenly hear someone calling to them. After a short time, they notice a pile of dung floating towards them. The dung shouts “Hey fellas! Come on in! The water’s nice!” One banana whispers to the other “Do you really believe that crap?”

My name is Chris Babcock, and I am a fifth-year financial services major at Kansas State University. I was told this joke while working in the produce section in a grocery store during high school. The moral that I extracted from the joke is that it’s important to have reliable information at the right time. Since the television is such a limited source of relevant information, I decided last year to stop wasting my time watching it, and cancelled my services. I realize now how much time I save reading news from the Internet.

 It’s no secret that the Internet is an incredible way to gain information. It amazes me how much new information I can learn from a few hours of researching for the International Food Safety Network. Our job is to filter relevant stories for the subscriber, so that he or she doesn’t have to. In minutes, one can read the most current news that we spend so much time finding. It’s truly money well spent to be knowledgeable about the latest developments in agriculture and food safety. Making a donation to our cause will help provide the funds necessary to keep the information chain rolling, and minimize the opportunity costs you incur trying to stay updated.

Meet iFSN: Kyle Seiler

Bonjour! I’m a senior in History and French at Kansas State, and I do a number of other things, like throwing long metal projectiles over mountains. 

I also spend several hours a week pulling stories for iFSN (it keeps me informed and you regular) and in the future, I may be translating infosheets into French.  But that all depends on your donations, petit or grand, give what you can.