Are they really ‘dynamic, interactive and arousing adolescents’ interest’ Food safety risk communication in games

Raising consumers’ awareness about food safety issues is one of the primary objectives of Italian public health organizations.

SophiaLorenNew dynamic and interactive tools, based on web applications, are already playing a leading role in health promotion campaigns targeted at adolescents. Among the web-based tools specifically designed for young people, educational videogames have proved especially effective in furthering learning and disseminating information, as they arouse adolescents’ interest and curiosity.

When a number of cases of hemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) were reported in 2010, particularly among children, the Italian Ministry of Health stressed the need to implement communication initiatives aimed at raising consumers’ awareness of the potential risks associated with raw milk consumption at home.

The pilot study described in the article is a relevant example of educational projects implemented in Italy, oriented to transmit knowledge about food risks to young consumers (aged 16–18). To provide correct information on safe milk handling practices and to reduce health issues, including serious ones, the videogame “A mysterious poisoning” was developed. This tool was administered online to 359 upper secondary school students from four different provinces in Italy. The videogame covered all stages of the milk supply chain, from stable to table, and enabled players to identify the crucial moments when milk can be contaminated and to discover safe milk handling practices. By completing a series of tasks, students helped a detective discover the cause of a food poisoning outbreak. This videogame provided an opportunity for students to test their knowledge of the product and to receive more detailed and accurate information. Data collected through two structured questionnaires that were administered before and after the controlled use of the videogame showed that this serious game was capable of changing players’ perception of risk exposure and their cognitive associations, particularly increasing their levels of knowledge about the risks associated with raw milk consumption.

Food safety and young consumers: Testing a serious game as a risk communication tool

Crovato, A. Pinto, P. Giardullo, G. Mascarello, F. Neresini, L. Ravarotto

The safety of roadkill is a risk/benefit question

Food safety is all about risk/benefit tradeoffs and trust. I base my consumption choices on lots of factors with risk level, source and production practices amongst them (mixed in with price and taste).

I don’t eat raw sprouts because they’ve been linked to lots of outbreaks; seed stock can be contaminated and there seems to be an inconsistent implementation of best practices.  And no one has peeled back the curtain on day-to-day management and marketed food safety by sharing real-time data on irrigation effluent sampling, product sampling or proof of implementation which would increase my trust. The risks don’t outweigh the benefits, to me. The information just isn’t there.

Eating roadkill is another risk/benefit decision. I’ve never had any (that I know of) but it’s not a strictly bad practice/good practice situation. While illegal to harvest side-of-the-road dead animals in some jurisdictions, others, like Montana, are investigating relaxed rules.

The risk/benefit decision is often murky. Food safety is important, but so is actually having food. New friend Andrea Anater of RTI and I shared a guest lecture this week around coping strategies for individuals and families with very low food security and- meaning they often do not have enough to eat and food safety is not as high of a priority as calories. And sometimes people eat roadkill.roadkill-1

Liz Neporant of ABC news reports,

By passing a bill last week that allows motorists to eat their roadkill, the Montana House of Representatives may be on their way to legalizing the ultimate drive-through experience.
State Rep. Steve Lavin originally introduced the bill into Montana’s House to allow “game animals, fur-bearing animals, migratory game birds and upland game birds” who have been killed by a car to be harvested for food.

“This includes deer, elk, moose and antelope, the animals with the most meat,” said Lavin.

“The risk is relative depending on the condition of the animal and how it was killed,” said Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist with North Carolina State University. “In roadkill if you happen upon the animal, you don’t know its condition, which makes it riskier than eating regulated food or an animal you’ve hunted.”

Should you decide that flattened moose is what’s for dinner, Chapman advised using a meat thermometer and cooking large game to a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When dressing the carcass, keep it away from other foods, scrub work surfaces with bleach afterward, and wash hands thoroughly.

Being hungry and sick from foodborne illness (or another zoonoses) isn’t a good thing.  The conditions under which the animal died might not be known (like whether it sick when hit) or how long it has been sitting at the side of the road (with pathogens potentially growing and creating toxins). Those are the things I worry about, but I’m fortunate enough to have ready access to food.

Sausages seized as police make arrests in Parry Sound wild game dispute

Parry Sound is more than the home of hockey legend Bobby Orr; it’s a place to not steal sausage.

Canadian Press reports fresh charges have been laid after police say a northern Ontario man was hit in the face and had his package of wild 1966-67-Topps-Bobby-Orr-Rookie-Cardgame sausages stolen.

Provincial police in Parry Sound say the man picked up the sausages Dec. 30 at a wild game dinner at the local community centre before making his way over to a Don Cherry’s Sports Grill for a drink.

They say that while later walking home the man was followed and attacked by another man who had also been at the restaurant, with the packaged meat allegedly stolen during the altercation.

Police say their investigation of the sausage incident led them to the home of a third man, who they say was seen wearing bloodstained clothes while cooking a sausage.

They say both men were arrested and the package of sausages was seized at the scene.

Four sickened by E. coli after eating meat from Zillman Meat Market in Wisconsin

The Wausau Daily Herald reports that four people have become ill, including one person who was hospitalized, from E. coli after eating meat processed at Zillman Meat Market in Wausau, Wisconsin.

The Marathon County Health Department says that ready-to-eat, custom smoked meat products made from wild game processed between Sept. 30 and Nov. 13 are the only products being investigated.

Ruth Klee Marx, an epidemiologist with the health department said the market will complete a “thorough cleaning” of their facility “in the next several days.”

Pat Zillman, owner of the market, said he and his staff are fully cooperating with the health department and provided any information requested by health department officials.

No ready-to-eat products are being sold but fresh meat is still available for sale.

In a worrying poo-pooh of bacterial cross-contamination, Zillman said, “There is always an inherent risk of bacterial contaminations when you purchase fresh meat. That’s why people need to cook it properly.”

Officials recommend using a food thermometer to ensure temperatures reach 155 degrees, particularly for ground fresh meat.

That would be 160F for ground beef, 165F for chicken.

The health department is advising people to not eat smoked, ready-to-eat meat products purchased from Zillman. Hunters who brought their own meat to Zillman’s to be processed into smoked, ready-to-eat also should not eat the products.

Canada’s public health silliness

Dr. David Butler-Jones (right, exactly as shown), the chief public health thingy for Canada who hasn’t been heard from since his embarrassing statements about how listeria in deli meats that killed 20 Canadians last fall was due to poor handwashing , has apparently spent the past 7 months devising a game for school kids.

Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, today launched an educational program designed to help students learn about food borne illnesses, how they’re caused and how to prevent the risk of infection.

It’s foodborne, not food borne. Butler-Jones insists repeatedly the bulk of foodborne illness happens at home, and says the game is innovative but provides no assessment by the targert audience.

“Creating healthy habits and practicing safe food handling starts at an early age. These students are learning an important lesson about the causes of food contamination and how to protect themselves and their families against infectious disease. This initiative shows how collaboration between the federal and provincial governments, health experts and educators can lead to the creation of innovative public health tools and resources that contribute to better health for Canadians and for our communities.”

This initiative shows nothing except how tax dollars can be wasted.

Oh, and Health Canada came out today with so-called fact sheets on how to safely handle fresh produce, and emphasize repeatedly that “fresh fruits and vegetables do not naturally contain microorganisms … that can make you sick.”

No idea where that statement came from. Other than pressure from the fresh fruit and vegetable growers in Canada. That’s how government and public pronouncements roll north of the 49th parallel.