Food Safety Confessional: Connie still thaws meat in the sink (so do I)

Connie, someone I’ve never met but she’s a food safety professional from Guelph (that’s in Ontario, Canada, and it’s a small community) writes:

I’ve been a food safety professional for going on 20 years, I still thaw meat in the sink (sometimes in hot water if I’m really rushed) and in my house, we wash hands after we eat.

I’m a firm advocate of not killing our immune systems by trying to sterilize our homes; according to my research, the illness and deaths that occur now are more frequent, widespread and worse in the effects than ever in the past (Peanut Corporation of America excluded for obvious reasons).

 I don’t take any chances at work, I never would, but at home, sigh, we’re all still alive.

 If you’re ever looking for inspiration for a blog post look no further than the website IFSQN. It’s a great forum for discussion and assistance from experienced FSP but wow, there are some things posted that are positively frightening.

 I am currently advocating with the Canadian government to:
• change our national job description so people realize we are gd professionals and not place holders; and,

• institute a national standard for both auditors and CB (CFIA has accreditation standards, but I don’t think anyone is checking in on auditors).

 I personally believe that GFSI is the downfall of safe food, with people focused on being audit-ready and not on producing safe food.

Guelph boy In Flander’s Fields: Life of a poet surgeon

I spent about 20 years in Guelph (that’s in Ontario, Canada) but in 2005 it was time to move on.

I still remember frequent walks by John McCrae’s homestead near the Speed River

This CBC story gives a great account of the author of In Flander’s Fields . on the 100th anniversary of the end of the war to end all wars.

24 sick with campy from pig roast in Guelph

Canada’s self-proclaimed capital of food safety has reported at least 24 people became ill after attending a pig roast in Guelph earlier this year.

A report by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says that the people became ill with a gastrointestinal disorder after attending a catered pig roast event at an unspecified location in Guelph in May/June.

That’s some good reporting time. Guess everyone was off for summer holidays.

“Pig roasts area a popular and high-risk method of cooking for large gatherings. It is important that WDGPH staff are prepared to respond to community outbreaks and remain diligent in their knowledge of food safety,” reads a staff report.

“Pig roasts are a common catering method for preparing and cooking large volumes of meat. This cooking style is associated with a number of food safety challenges that food operators must be aware of in order to prevent any potential food borne illness from occurring in those consuming the meat.”

Leftover food from the pig roast was delivered the following morning to a drop-in centre in Guelph, but no illnesses from those consuming the meat there were reported.

A total of 82 individuals attended the event and Public Health interviewed 74 of them. Thirty-three per cent of those people reported getting sick, the report says.

“The inspection and epidemiological investigation indicate pork as the source of illness,” says the report.

An inspection of the unnamed Guelph caterer for the pig roast found “a number of items” not in compliance with regulations, including hazardous food not being maintained at 4 C or lower during transportation, poor sanitary maintenance and lack of supplies in the staff washroom.

Name and shame the caterer.

Whole genome sequencing – it’s all the rage

I returned to the University of Guelph in about 1989 for a press thingy, and asked a former genetics prof (who was an asshole; drinking game, they all were) what was this PCR stuf.

kary.mullisHe didn’t tell me how a dude on acid figured it out, but it was now routine.

Today, whole genome sequencing is all the rage, and all I can remember is, another six months of graduate school for you, Powell, go tape those gels.

Our rudimentary DNA sequencing back in 1985 involved a particular skill with masking tape so the gels wouldn’t leak.

And a lot of radioactive phosphorous.

And phenol-based extraction, which has left my one pinky finger smaller than the other.


 Whole genome sequencing (WGS) has emerged as a powerful tool for comparing bacterial isolates in outbreak detection and investigation. Here, we demonstrate that WGS performed prospectively for national epidemiologic surveillance of Listeria monocytogenes has the capacity to be superior to our current approach using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus sequence typing (MLST), multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA), binary typing and serotyping. Initially 423 L. monocytogenes isolates underwent WGS and comparisons uncovered a diverse genetic population structure derived from three distinct lineages. MLST, binary and serotyping results inferred in silico from the WGS data were highly concordant (>99%) with laboratory typing performed in parallel. However, WGS was able to identify distinct nested clusters within groups of isolates that were otherwise indistinguishable by our current typing methods. Routine WGS was then used for prospective epidemiologic surveillance on a further 97 L. monocytogenes isolates over a 12-month period, providing a greater level of discrimination to conventional typing for inferring linkage to point source outbreaks. A risk based alert system based on WGS similarity was used to inform epidemiologists required to act on the data. Our experience shows WGS could be adopted for prospective L. monocytogenes surveillance, and investigated for other pathogens relevant to public health.

 Prospective whole genome sequencing enhances national surveillance of Listeria monocytogenes

J Clin Microbiol. 2015 Nov 25. pii: JCM.02344-15.

Kwong JC, Mercoulia K, Tomita T, Easton M, Li HY, Bulach DM, Stinear TP, Seemann T, Howden BP.

Solve Canadian constitution with round-robin hockey tournament: There once was a Rhino in Guelph

Almost 30 years on, it’s hard to believe Marty is the one being roasted in the Guelph newspaper, where he’s the executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association, and I’m unemployed, coaching hockey and hanging out at the beach (with a PhD).

doug.nona.marty.1988Marty was always the front man, quick with a quip, as shown in the story below, and I was the asshole who enforced deadlines. Nona more so.

Back in 1988, after we’d all quit the official student newspaper – I was editor – we started up our own paper at the University of Guelph. And at some point there was a federal election, and I told Marty, you should run as the Rhino candidate. Good PR.

I’ll always remember the skinnier, younger versions of ourselves, and it was a good time.

The story below explains it better:

They would nationalize Tim Hortons, repeal the law of gravity and promote higher education by building taller schools.

Ah yes, the Rhinoceros Party of Canada — the only party to promise not to keep any of its promises — is back for another kick at a federal election, and at federal candidates. For almost 40 years, Rhino candidates have used satire and pranksterism to lampoon the political process.

It’s been 27 years since a Rhino ran for election in Guelph. Back in 1988, a federal election was too rich a target for Marty Williams, who was Guelph’s last would-be Rhino MP.

“For me, it was improv comedy,” says Williams, who is now the executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association. “I grew up reading Mad Magazine. Poking holes in the pompous came naturally to me.”

marty.bed.1988(Marty, left as I usually saw him when a column was due). Williams recalls that it wasn’t really his idea to become a Rhino candidate. The notion was proposed by two friends while he was a student at the University of Guelph. “I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, stop bugging me,’ and by the time I got back to the campus, they had organized a press conference. I was interviewed by the local media and it got on CBC radio.

“It was silly fun. Our defence policy was to bring back Bobby Orr and we wanted to have Free Trade vacations with people in Mexico . . . in February. Good for us, not so good for them.”

Back in 1988, says Williams, it only cost $200 to register as a candidate, and the party needed 50 candidates across the country to be a registered party on the ballot.

“For $200, it was a good glimpse into how politics works at the local level. I was invited to all the debates and everybody was asked the same questions.”

Williams said that he particularly enjoyed the debates at high schools. “Most of them were too young to vote, but it’s about trying to engage them in the issues.” Williams said that the students responded when “someone could take a question and have some fun with it. It’s more fulfilling to take a satiric slant when you know something about what you’re talking about.”

The debates weren’t all about riffing off the headlines, though. “At the time, there was still apartheid in South Africa, and we were asked a question about apartheid. When it was my turn to respond, I said that some things just aren’t funny, and I got a round of applause for that.”

For the 1988 election, there were 74 Rhino candidates across Canada. For the 2015 election, there are (at last count) just seven, and none in Guelph or area. In the age of satiric political talk shows, are the Rhinos still relevant?

“How could we have possibly thought in 1988 that a political candidate would be caught on camera swearing at reporters? … Peeing in a cup? How could you even make that up?

“What would you be talking about (in this election) that is conventional wisdom that should be stood on its head?,” Williams said.

And the sources for political satire are many and varied today: “Visual evidence of people behaving badly can be circulated around the world in a blink of the eye. With memes and posters, everyone becomes a satirist in this day and age.

“It was much more somber and polite (in decades past). It was more of an ‘old boys’ network back then,” and thus easier to lampoon. “That seems like such an innocent age now.”

In 1988, Williams finished seventh of eight candidates with 240 votes. “I’m amazed I got that many … even I didn’t vote for myself.”

Part of his work with the Downtown Guelph Business Association is to encourage small businesspeople and property owners to engage with the federal election. Williams says that many people don’t see a federal election as a “local” issue.

“The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has put out a good position paper. The federal government has the levers and the ability to do a lot for cities, including a small city like Guelph.”

As for this election, Williams hopes all eligible Guelphites will vote. “If you think about every admirable country in the world — lowest poverty rates, best treatment of women or minorities — those are countries with governments that were chosen by voters.

“The cynical can say that your vote doesn’t matter, but the places where people participate are the best ones. Anarchy has not proven to be a book for personkind. The best places in the world are where people get out to vote.”

Below is an op-ed we wrote and it may have gotten published. I never read my own work once it’s published, onto the next thing.

The Rhino constitutional process

A referendum? Seven provinces or 50 per cent of the population? An election? The Rhinoceros Party recently came up with a better way to improve the country’s constitutional competitivenes, one that is deeply rooted in the Canadian psyche: a round-robin hockey tournament.

bobby.orrThe tourney opened in ritualistic Canadian style, with Maureen Forrester singing the Canadian national anthem. Don Getty followed with the French version while Eric Lindros performed an interpretive ice dance of the DeGaulle classic, Viva Quebec Libre. In justifying his performance, Mr. Lindros, back from the Albertville Olympics said, “Hey, I’m just like every other Canadian. I don’t mind playing in front of the French as long as the Americans are watching.”

The games featured the best political ice skaters from each special interest group and province — Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Minnesota (they’re so distinct they’re from a different country).

The Reproductive Technologies team was disqualified in its first game for failing to wear protective cups. The ordinary Canadians team was also eliminated for insisting on playing in Ea-Z-Boy recliners and using short-wave radio frequencies to direct the puck from hand-held remote controls.

The Manitoba team, featuring the Axworthy line (which is difficult to understand but easy to get through), adopted a defensive style of play, and spent most of their game explaining why it’s not their fault. They lost to the Saskatchewan team featuring Roy Romanov, the golden jet of the tourney, who one day hopes he will be so famous that Oliver Stone will make a movie about him.

The New Brunswick team, after refusing to play against an opposition, finally capitulated and easily defeated the Confederation of Regions team who had an overabundance of right-wingers.

The B.C. team was distracted because captain Mike Harcourt was preoccupied with his intense endorsement schedule for the Hockey Helmet Club for Men. “I’m not just a premier, I’m also a client,” said Harcourt for the fawning Newsworld anchors. Regardless, the team’s hopes were undermined by malcontents when B.C. goaltender Bill Vander Zalm sold the net to a Hong Kong business-type, who thought he was buying Annette Funichello. Vander Zalm will appear in a Hong Kong court after the Chinese take over.

The Newfoundland team was easy pickings for the Missing Link team from P.E.I. because star Clyde Wells was out in the parking lot letting the air out of everybody’s tires and stuffing tailpipes with cod. When asked about the old “Newfie cod up the tailpipe trick”, PEI captain Joe Ghiz responded, “No, my eyebrows are just bushy.”

Following the precedent set by the former U.S.S.R., two new teams were added to the tourney. The Prairie unified team was constructed so Manitoba could receive welfare payments from Alberta instead of Ottawa, while the Atlantic-unified team was convened to reroute welfare from Ottawa to Maine-based Irving Oil.

The Yukon team spent most of their first game in the dressing room when favorite daughter, NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin, dropped by to say a few words. The team emerged inspired but was unable to overcome the 224-0 deficit.

A crowd favorite was the Triple-E Senate team, featuring the high-scoring line of Eddie Shack, Eddie Johnson and Eddie Giacoman. Just like the Senate, they were fun to watch but highly ineffective.

Quebec GM Claude Ryan finally dealt Eric Lindros to where all Quebecers think he belongs: the North West Territories. “See the endorsements you get in Inuvik,” said an enthused Ryan.

During the Dairy Farmers versus the Canadian Book Publishers game, the “No Whey” team was accused of simply milking the publicity by fielding a marketing-board approved 3.8 players and then refusing to play the third period. “We were cheesed off,” said coach Eugene Whelan.

The tourney was so successful that Bob White was thinking of cloning the technique for the next round of labor negotiations at the Oshawa car plants. “I can hardly wait for the union workers to play the GM all-executive team,” said White.

However, just when it had appeared the Rhino party of Canada had achieved consensus where other parties had failed, Ovrid Mercredi insisted on a bingo tournament where the caller fires appropriately labelled lacrosse balls into the crowd, modeled after the democratic native decision-making process. Newfoundland insisted on a fishing derby and Manitoba demanded a curling bonspiel. The tournament adjourned lacking a clear winner, but Mercredi’s suggestions were thought to hold potential for Senate reform.

Marty Williams and Douglas Powell were the candidate and campaign manager for the Rhino Party in the riding of Guelph in the 1988 federal election.

How Canadian: Restaurant food safety reporting needs review in Guelph

According to this editorial, it seems like the Guelph-area public health unit can take extra steps to make the community more aware of food safety issues at local eateries. Public Health’s latest records show it has recently flagged 152 area eateries with food safety violations that could cause food poisoning.

However, unless someone went through the health unit’s posted database for such issues, there would be no public notification surrounding these findings. What’s more, there is no obligation for local eateries to even draw the public’s attention to the existence of recent health unit inspection results, let alone make available, on-site, a report of such findings relating to their food operation.

The health unit touted its present, public food safety inspections database related to local eateries when the online tool was launched in 2013. It suggested the system was a big improvement over what had been in place in this regard. That was true. What it replaced was an opaque system for the public that required requests for the food safety records of eateries to be made to the health unit for its release, on its timing.

However, even when the Check Before You Choose program emerged, it lagged behind best practices elsewhere in the public health field — even in southern Ontario.

barf.o.meter.dec.12Since 2001, Toronto Public Health’s DineSafe has been a leader in this sector. Where the Guelph-area health unit obliges citizens to do their research and dig for potentially concerning restaurant food safety records, the Toronto system makes eateries prominently post the results of the latest health unit inspections on-site. What’s more, the reports are colour coded, so it can be seen at a glance whether an eatery received a pass (green), a yellow report (conditional approval), or a red (closure order) in their latest inspection.

The Toronto system has its critics. Some fault DineSafe as a “name and shame” initiative that may also give a false sense of food safety security to diners. However, DineSafe’s introduction coincided with a period where the rate of food safety compliance jumped at local eateries and stayed higher.

A version of the system has since been adopted in several other regional health unit venues and in other international jurisdictions.

Embarrassing: Guelph eateries not obligated to post health inspection results

Unlike many other cities, Guelph (that’s in Canada) doesn’t require places that serve food to post their health inspection results on their premises. Mercury survey of the 460 food establishments that had health code violations at their most recent inspection found that Public Health Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph flagged 152 eateries for having violations that could cause food poisoning.

These violations included food handlers not washing their hands, toxic substances not being stored separately from food, and food not being refrigerated properly, data from public health’s own website show.

And barely half of those with serious health code violations post a simple sign at their establishment telling people where to find the inspection results online through the health unit’s “Check Before you Choose” database.

Jessica Morris, manager of health protection with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, said officials try to use the sign as a “sales pitch” to owners, saying it demonstrates their commitment to food safety. She said the website is very well-frequented.

Morris added eateries with violations that could cause food poisoning are required to correct the problem within 72 hours. If there is an imminent health risk, public health closes the restaurant, which it has done in two cases since 2013. Public Health started posting results of its food safety inspections online in early 2013.

Before that, members of the public would have to contact public health to find out about the food safety record of their favourite diner or coffee shop.

As anyone who has ever spent the day doubled over in the bathroom after a meal can attest, food safety is no joke.

Many communities in Ontario, and around the world, go one step further than Wellington-Dufferin with a pass-fail system that requires restaurants to post their inspection results on their premises.

In Toronto, for example, consumers can easily see how a restaurant has fared on their most recent inspection through a system called DineSafe.

After an inspection, restaurants receive either a green (pass), yellow (conditional pass) or red (closed) sign, which they must post where guests can clearly see it.

A green sign is an easily understood stamp of approval: The food here is safe to eat.

Sylvanus Thompson, associate director at Toronto Public Health, said after the system was introduced in 2001 following a Toronto Star investigation on restaurant inspections, there was a 40 per cent decrease in instances of sporadic food poisoning in the city. said officials can’t conclude the new system definitely caused this decline. But he said data show compliance of food establishments went from around 70 to over 90 per cent with the introduction of DineSafe.

“We know for sure that the yellow was playing a significant role in the increase in compliance,” Thompson said.

“They don’t want to get the yellow. They call it the fear of the yellow.”

A version of the model has been adapted by Peel Region, Durham Region, Halton Region, Hamilton, London, Lambton County, Sacramento County in California, Shanghai in China, and cities in Denmark and Scotland.

For food safety experts such as Doug Powell, a former food safety professor at the University of Guelph and Kansas State University who publishes “barfblog” about food- borne illness, such a change is long overdue.

“For a city that prides itself as the food and agricultural centre of the Canadian universe, their lack of public disclosure is pretty embarrassing I think,” he said, speaking from Brisbane, Australia, where he is now based.

“Toronto figured it out, cities around Toronto figured it out. New York City, Los Angeles have all figured it out,” he said.

New York and Los Angeles take a slightly different approach, making restaurants display letter grades. An “A” means all good, “B” and “C” less so.

Powell laughed when told Guelph eateries still don’t have to post their inspection results on the premises.

He acknowledges systems like DineSafe aren’t perfect. But he said they enhance the conversation about food safety, for both restaurants and the public.

Keith Warriner, a professor of food science at the University of Guelph, said even the best public disclosure systems have issues..

Results can vary according to whether an inspector has a bad day or lacks experience, he said.

More important, said Warriner, is making sure restaurant employees get proper training in food safety.

For Powell, the bottom line should be fewer people getting sick.

“That is the goal of public health and should be the message consistently, and (systems like Dinesafe) are a tool to reduce the number of sick people. Go for it.”

Canadian researchers rank Canada’s food safety system as world’s best; Chapman ranks himself as top-5 hockey player in NC

And I’m the best goalie in Australia (not).

ITALY-G8-G5-AGRICULTURE-FARMPress release before publishing – and peer review – reached new depths as academics at the University of Guelph proclaimed Canada’s food safety system the best in the world, in a report released today by the Conference Board of Canada.

“Canada has one of the safest and healthiest food systems in the world as confirmed by this study,” said Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health. “Our Government remains committed to our continuing efforts to further strengthen Canada’s food system to ensure that Canadian families can continue to have confidence in the food they buy and eat.”

According to the executive summary (you have to sign up to get the report) “food safety data segmentation and limitations hamper the world’s ability to select, build up, monitor, and evaluate food safety performance. Currently, there is no metric that captures the entire food safety system, and performance data are not collected strategically on a global scale. Therefore, benchmarking is essential not only to help monitor ongoing food safety performance but also to inform continued food safety system design, adoption, and implementation toward more efficient and effective food safety preparedness, responsiveness, and accountability.”

south.park.canadaAnd what academic report would be complete without a call for “funding future food safety data collection is recommended, as is hosting a food safety summit for nations to find consensus on common robust food safety performance measurements, drawing on metrics from this study, among others.”

Canada, striving for mediocracy.

18 sick in E. coli outbreak ‘entirely preventable’ Food safety leaders create perceptions rather than follow; surveys still suck

Eighteen people got sick from E. coli O157:H7 in Canada in 2012 leading to the recall of 1,800 products because both the company, XL Foods, and government inspectors, sucked at safety.

The Calgary Herald reiterates this point by arguing that a large number of food inspectors are irrelevant if they’re lax in their duties. And inspectors are there mediocrityto set a minimal standard – which they failed miserably at XL Foods – while the company that makes the profit should be responsible and go far and above government standards; the best companies do.

But in this sea of mediocrity, where terribly sick people are an afterthought, leave it to the University of Guelph to proclaim that “Canadians bounced back from the 2012 beef scare relating to E. coli bacteria, and that “when dealing with such a massive recall, regulators and industry may want to expand the scope of their risk communication strategy.”

Someone paid for this?

We’ve always provided restaurant inspection results in Guelph; if you book meal 60 days in advance

In July 2004, I had a couple of students conduct an experiment: with restaurant inspection disclosure systems well-established in neighboring Toronto, Halton  and Waterloo (they’re all in Ontario, in Canada, land of rejoicing hockey fans), see if you can find out from the Guelph health folks the grade on any restaurant you like.

The response was this: a consumer who wants to view an inspector’s report must file a written request with the Board of Health and await a barf.o.meter_.dec_.12-216x300response in the mail.

Not of much use when going out for dinner, like we did last night on the Island. And I remember the students remarking about how denigrating the person on the phone was.

So when Shawn Zentner of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit posted that “We’ve always made food inspection results available to the public (via phone or hard-copy request)” I had a chuckle.

I then threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Zentner  also insisted that “local/municipal by-laws mean we can’t force restaurant owners to post signs. However, we’re encouraging owners to post the window clings, cards, and signs we provide.”

Then change the law.

If thousands of other communities can do it, so can Guelph, the self-proclaimed capital of all things food in Canada (it’s not).

Steven Petric of the Guelph Mercury gets it right when he notes that between 2004 and 2005, both the Canadian Newspaper Association and the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph (that’s what we used to call ourselves, until others started appropriating the name) called out the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health unit on its lacklustre system for the public to access restaurant inspection reports. Now, Guelph is trying to catch up to other regions.

The ‘Check before you choose’ program was quietly announced via a posting on the health unit’s website over the Christmas break. This online portal is supposed to provide restaurant-goers with access to a database list of the most recent and past infractions and allow diners to do some of their own research of these results before going out to eat. Previously, anyone who wanted to view an inspector’s report had to file a written request and wait for a response four to six weeks later in the mail.

It is more likely not many people will have the patience or foresight to search through an online database before going out to a restaurant establishment. Just in 2011 alone, the local health unit inspected 1,365 locations issuing only one ticket. However, 1,204 of the inspections required a followup. This is very concerning.

Other cities have taken things a step further in informing the public of inspection results.

In Toronto, the DineSafe program, which has been widely praised since it was introduced in 2001, came about following media and public concern about how difficult it was to access inspection information.

Along with the normal food safety notices, the Toronto system has an extensive website that allows the public to track the results of qr_code_rest_inspection_grade(5)inspections through a user-friendly colour coding system of green for pass, yellow for conditional pass, and red for closure.

The Toronto system has been adopted by health departments in the United States, the United Kingdom and other areas of Canada, such as Brampton. Health officials routinely travel to Toronto from Australia, Japan and China to study the model for their own cities.

Toronto’s health department even received an international award in 2011 for its work.

So while other cities have created modified versions of the Toronto model since about 2005, it looks as though the program being presented for our area is going for a minimalist approach.

Don’t get me wrong, having these reports easily accessible online has been a long time coming. However, it feels as though we are getting the short end of the stick and a watered-downed system. The health unit’s own 2012 public survey on this matter pointed out that people wanted results posted at food establishments. I don’t think they meant having a voluntary sticker in their window telling you to visit a website to find out if it’s OK to dine here as the system they wanted.

The colour-coded window display system presented and successfully used by Toronto and now other cities is a great model and should not have been dismissed outright.

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information. Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.
?? The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand?. ?Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
? The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly

because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.