Control of contamination of fresh produce in guacamole and salsa starts on the farm

I was with this girl once in my younger days and we were driving north somewhere in Ontario. She had previously consumed a bunch of guacamole and a few beverages, and it wasn’t long before she was vomiting the most vile smelling guacamole barf.

I’ve never eaten the stuff again (although people in the current household like it, as seen in this nearly empty bowl of guacamole photographed in the most attractive manner I could, last night).

Sol noted yesterday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported nearly 1 out of every 25 restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks with identified food sources between 1998 and 2008 can be traced back to contaminated salsa or guacamole, more than double the rate during the previous decade.

Improper storage and worker contamination accounted for half the outbreaks, but, as noted by one of the researchers,

"Salsa and guacamole often contain diced raw produce including hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, each of which has been implicated in past outbreaks."

That part was sorta downplayed in the press release, but it shouldn’t be. The great salmonella outbreak of 2008 involved jalapeno peppers arriving contaminated at restaurants.

Food safety starts on the farm.

Salsa and guacamole – yummy but risky?

I love Jimmy John’s veggie subs. I think the secret ingredient is in the guacamole spread-thingy. I avoid the sprouts though; not just because they’ve been linked to outbreaks, but I find they ruin the whole flavor chemistry.

It appears that now I might have reason to avoid the guacamole spread-thingy as well.

Research from the CDC shows that “nearly 1 out of every 25 restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks with identified food sources between 1998 and 2008 can be traced back to contaminated salsa or guacamole.”

The risks might arise from big batches of the stuff being stored at improper temperatures, or contamination from mishandling the raw ingredients.

Next time I’m at Jimmy John’s, I’ll make sure I ask how their delicious guacamole is prepared and stored so as not to make any rash decisions about completely avoiding it.


Phoenix Suns coach loses lunch and game

Last night was rough for Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry, as his team lost at the buzzer to the L.A. Lakers in basketball’s western conference playoff game; and he vomited into a garbage can during the game, which he blamed on food poisoning – the chicken wrap or the fried guacamole.

I’m going with the guacamole. I still can’t touch the stuff after a girlfriend 25 years ago had a tragic guacamole vomiting incident – tragic in that it was everywhere, accompanied with the burning scent of garlic and avocado.

And is there anything Americans won’t deep-fry?

A colleague reports that after the game, one of the television dudes theorized the coach was likely targeted by some restaurant worker who was a Laker fan.

After hurling, Gentry stayed on the bench, had an IV treatment at halftime and later blamed his condition on fried food from a nearby eatery, adding,

"I was not going to leave the sidelines. I told someone it’s very similar to college. Once you get it out of the system, everything’s OK. It’s like a Friday night frat party, OK?" 

Praise the Lord and pass the guacamole

WFAA-TV reports that La Calle Doce, a restaurant in Dallas, don’t need no stinking FDA advisory.

“Despite the FDA advisory, the restaurant has not stopped serving tomatoes.
Jesus Sanchez, the restaurant’s owner, said, "We’re making sure that everything we serve is thoroughly washed.” …

Anita Bivens, another diner at the restaurant, said,

"As a Christian, you just pray over your food and you just trust that God is going to provide and take care of you.”

Individuals should be free to believe and do what they want – with caveats about harming others.

But not a restaurant.