Time waits for no one: Dr. Clorox — Ralph Richardson — to retire

I can’t make this stuff up.

In 2005, I had a stalker girlfriend between wives, so me and Chapman went on a road trip starting in BC, where Chapman was convinced he would be eaten by bears at some jello-fest.

We went to Seattle and looked at Marler’s fancy offices, and then to Manhattan, Kansas, home of Kansas State University, where one of my recent PhD graduates had settled.

I’m proud that the few PhD students I’ve gotten through, and the dozens of MSc students, are innovators and create great work.

But back to the tale.

The day after we arrived, Chapman and I get invited to go speak with a Canadian studies group (paid for by Canadians that fund Americans to study Canadians) and Hubbell is there because she got some money to study Quebec.

I was tired, despondent, but Ben and another grad student were saying, look at her butt.

I was more interested in her brain.

I was an independent, she was (somewhat) married, but we worked through that.

In one week, I met a girl who I’ve been with for 13 years and moved to Kansas because the president offered me a job after having lunch.

The guy left with the mess of details was Dean of the Veterinary College at Kansas State, Ralph Richardson (the details of the job, not the new girl).

The other day, Dr. Ralph C. Richardson announced his plans to retire as Dean and CEO of Kansas State University’s Olathe campus before July 1. He has served there since August 2015.

“I certainly have mixed emotions about retiring, as I’ve never enjoyed my work more and am proud of what has been achieved at the Olathe campus in the last several years,” Dr. Richardson said.

 

“President Myers and Provost Taber are leading K-State forward in unprecedented ways. I love being part of their team and working with faculty and staff, my fellow deans and other university administrators. However, it is imperative to focus on succession planning, especially with the new budget model and strategic enrollment management initiatives coming on board. I want the new leader of the Olathe campus to be well prepared to embrace the opportunities that are coming to K-State through engagement with Greater Kansas City.”

Under Dr. Richardson’s leadership, K-State used the Olathe campus to expand its outreach and services to Greater Kansas City to elevate the university’s profile in academics, research and service in the region and generate new opportunities for students and faculty.

Dr. Richardson helped establish and oversee numerous partnerships that are being used to develop a recruitment and support infrastructure for Kansas City-based undergraduate students to attend K-State and working professionals to enroll at the university’s Olathe campus.

Before his appointment overseeing the Olathe campus, Dr. Richardson served as dean of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine for 17 years. Under his guidance, the college experienced increased student enrollment; raised more than $72 million in private support for scholarships and seven permanently endowed professorships; introduced the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas, which offers a debt repayment incentive for graduates to work in rural practices in Kansas; increased faculty and staff numbers, with many receiving national and international attention for their teaching, research and service efforts; aligned research and educational programs to meet the needs of the federal government’s National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, which is being built just north of the college; and much more.

Dr. Richardson joined Kansas State University in 1998, coming from Purdue University where he was a professor and head of the veterinary clinical sciences department and a 22-year faculty member of the university. At Purdue, he helped establish an ongoing comparative oncology program, utilizing naturally occurring cancer in pet animals as models for people. Before starting his academic career, Richardson served in the Army Veterinary Corps and worked as a private practice veterinarian in Miami.

Back to the story.

Ralph knew me because when he was at Purdue, he signed up to AnimalNet, one of those listserves that is now obsolete but was radical at the time.

When I met him in person, he was like an old friend, because if you get an e-mail from someone every day, they are like old friends.

After another week I went back to Canada, spoke with my four daughters, and decided, I should be in Kansas. Curt Kastner (the only uninvited dude who showed up at our city hall wedding, because we didn’t invite anyone except the witnesses, much thanks Pete and Angelique) called and said, can I arrange a conference call with Ralph?

I said, why don’t I show up in person?

Next day I was on a flight. I did a TV interview at the Toronto airport as I was departing, about a raw sprouts outbreak that had sickened at least 400 in Ontario (that’s a province in Canada), and within 24 hours, I was in Ralph’s living room, because he had broken his ankle or something while hunting, and was propped up on the couch.

I told him my vision of food safety risk analysis and research and outreach, and he told me he’d see what he could do.

I went and hung out with the girl.

In December, I decided to take the girl to Canada to see if my friends approved, because my solo judgement in such areas had proven awful.

They approved.

On my birthday, Dec. 29, 2005, me and the girl were in a grocery store in Guelph, and Ralph called. He said, we’d like to make you a job offer, how’s $100,000 U.S., plus lab start-up fees?

I was ecstatic.

Within months, me and the girl had bought our own house in Manhattan, Kansas, I was brimming with ideas, the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in spinach started in Sept. 2006 and I was splashed all over American media as someone who may know something about this stuff. Kansas State benefited, and the president would call me weekly and say, great job.

However, back in the veterinary college, the other faculty didn’t really know what to make of me: except Dean Ralph.

I got made a full professor in 2010, but the increasing bureaucracy was not to my liking.

I loved the other aspects of my job, and I loved my wife and family.

So when Dr. Amy Hubbell, formerly of Kansas State University, was offered a faculty appointment at the University of Queensland, I wasn’t gonna be the guy who said no.

It would have been real easy to stay in Kansas, but that wasn’t our style.

So Amy and Sorenne went off to Australia, and I eventually caught up.

I worked by distance at Kansas State.

But other profs started nitpicking.

Our first guest on the first day we moved into the first place we owned rather than rented in 2012 was Dr. Clorox (that’s what they called him in Korea).

Kansas State knew we were in Brisbane, I was still an employee of K-State, but no one bothered to reach out as K-State tried to set up a partnership with the University of Queensland.

I told Ralph that evening, no hard feelings if you have to get rid of me, universities can be small sandboxes with too many and too big egos.

I had presented options for on-line course in food safety policy, a massive open on-line course (MOOC) in food safety, take a 20 per cent pay cut and was repeatedly told my performance as a faculty member was above average – but I got fired for not being there to hold my colleagues hand during tea.

The bosses at Kansas State University determined I had to be on campus, I said no, so I was dumped.

Full professors can get dumped for bad attendance.

I love my wife and family. And that’s where my allegiance lies.

It’s been harder than I thought it would be, I’ve unfortunately expressed my rage to my wife at silly times in silly ways, my brain is degenerating for a variety of reasons, but I’m optimistic, and in addition to the Kastners, Dr. Clorox has been a big fan and a good friend.

Ralph, thanks for all you’ve done for Amy and I, enjoy that retirement, and try not to drive Bev crazy hanging around the house.

Food Safety Confessional: Sheila says she is horrible

Sheila is a former MSc student with me at Kansas State University and a tough military chick. We hardly ever saw each other, because phones and the Internet sometimes work (despite administratium claims to the contrary), but she has kept up the food safety conversation. I was privileged to work with her and a whole bunch of other military food safety folks over the years.

Sheila writes:

I am a horrible food safety professional.  

Not at work. At work I’m a straight-laced, all business, don’t-you-dare-break-the-rules-or-I’ll-kick-you-in-the-nuts kinda girl.  My problem is outside of work.  When I’m off the clock I turn into Andrew Zimmern’s sister by another mister.  I like to eat weird stuff.  

I spent 15 years with the U.S. Army as a Food Safety Specialist and got to travel all over the world.  While others in the group were sticking to main stream chow hall fare and MREs, which has its own dangers, I was happy to find some random vendor selling mystery meat on a stick by the side of the road.  It might have been dog, or monkey, or bat, or rat.  I really have no idea, but it sure tasted good.  Boiled chicken heads?  Roasted sparrows?  Camel on a spit?  Beaver tater tot hotdish?  A whole sheep buried in the desert sand for 2 days?  Hell yeah, bring it on!  From Africa, Australia, Central America, the South Pacific, the Arctic, the Middle East and the Far East, it didn’t matter where I was I had to try the odd local fare.  Still do when I travel.  Real haggis is amazing.

Back at home, cooking for myself or eating out, I am also bad.  When cooking for others all safety precautions are followed, thermometers, separate cutting boards and utensils for different food types, obsessive hand washing, but I make all kinds of exceptions when food is just for me.  E. coli and Salmonella be damned.  My eggs need to be over medium. Scrambled eggs are gross.  I eat raw, homemade cookie dough.  I love homemade eggnog.  Don’t give me that store bought boxed crap that tastes like nutmeg infused cardboard.  Now if I could find pasteurized eggs in the shell, I’d use them, but out in the Minnesota tundra they just aren’t available.  I like my steak on the rare side of medium rare, even if it is needle tenderized.  Hamburgers done medium.  Sushi is a favorite food and I go for raw and roe.  Raw oysters are a heavenly treat.   

But here’s the deal.  I know the potential consequences of eating all of these risky foods.  I am generally healthy, aside from the arthritis and anger issues the Army so generously gave me.  I realize healthy people still get food poisoning, but I am willing to occasionally take that risk to enjoy certain foods.  I would never force anyone else to do what I do and I often tell people not to do it and why. 

Do as I say, not as I do. 

And even I have limits.  Chicken must be cooked to 165F.  I don’t drink raw milk.  I rant about the raw pet food trend.  And I avoid potlucks like the plague.  I’m sure it all tastes great, but I just can’t do it.  I don’t trust what most people do in their kitchens unless I’m there to see it.  If invited to a party that’s potluck and I can’t get out of it, I bring potato chips and eat before I get there.  Weird right?  

Oh, and I have 12 beautiful pet snakes of varying sizes and species, but that’s another story.  

It’s all about the cross-contamination: But isn’t there a better way to describe how bugs spread and make people puke?

Ever since Sorenne got diagnosed with a shellfish allergy, the shrimp on the barbie are for when she’s at school.

Woman’s hands cleaning prawns at table

The video clip is exactly what weekly faculty meetings were like at Kansas State University, while they ate raw sprouts on Jimmy John’s subs, with about $2 million in annual salaries sitting around the table, chatting about what to do with a 45K staffer.

This study aimed to qualify the transfer of Vibrio parahaemolyticus during the shrimp peeling process via gloves under 3 different scenarios. The 1st 2 scenarios provided quantitative information for the probability distribution of bacterial transfer rates from (i) contaminated shrimp (6 log CFU/g) to non-contaminated gloves (Scenario 1) and (ii) contaminated gloves (6 log CFU/per pair) to non-contaminated shrimp (Scenario 2). In Scenario 3, bacterial transfer from contaminated shrimp to non-contaminated shrimp in the shrimp peeling process via gloves was investigated to develop a predictive model for describing the successive bacterial transfer.

The range of bacterial transfer rate (%) in Scenarios 1 and 2 was 7% to 91.95% and 0.04% to 12.87%, respectively, indicating that the bacteria can be transferred from shrimp to gloves much easier than that from gloves to shrimp. A Logistic (1.59, 0.14) and Triangle distribution (-1.61, 0.12, 1.32) could be used to describe the bacterial transfer rate in Scenarios 1 and 2, respectively. In Scenario 3, a continuously decay patterning with fluctuations as the peeling progressed has been observed at all inoculation levels of the 1st shrimp (5, 6, and 7 log CFU/g). The bacteria could be transferred easier at 1st few peels, and the decreasing bacterial transfer was found in later phase. Two models (exponential and Weibull) could describe the successive bacterial transfer satisfactorily (pseudo-R2 > 0.84, RMSE < 1.23, SEP < 10.37). The result of this study can provide information regarding cross-contamination events in the seafood factory.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:This study presented that Vibrio parahaemolyticus cross-contamination could be caused by gloves during the shrimp peeling process. The bacterial transfer rate distribution and predictive model derived from this work could be used in risk assessment of V. parahaemolyticus to ensure peeled shrimp safety.

Modeling transfer of vibrio parahaemolyticus during peeling of raw shrimp

February 2018

Journal of Food Science

Xiao X, Pang H, Wang W, Fang W, Fu Y, Li Y

DOI:10.1111/1750-3841.14064 

http://geenmedical.com/article/29411873

Kansas veterinarian says the same food safety rules that apply to humans also apply to pets

When I got fired as a full professor from Kansas State University in 2013, my department chair actually kept a straight face as he said, if I didn’t show up on campus, he would have no choice, and that “I didn’t work well with others.”

Bureaucratic BS.

They wanted my salary, didn’t like what I said to cattle folks, and started a whole on-line thingy I had proposed after getting dumped.

Best and brightest get promoted.

There were several colleagues in the college of veterinary medicine I worked quite well with.

One was Kate KuKanich, associate professor of clinical sciences in Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

We hit the road and did handwashing studies in hospitals, co-supervized vet students who did cool investigative work on petting zoos, and she brought us duck eggs.

Kate made K-State’s Thanksgiving of PR, and full kudos for going through the process.

“Thanksgiving is a time when a lot of people think that giving tidbits of the food to pets it thoughtful. A small piece of turkey breast, which is low in fat and salt, is OK for a dog or cat in moderation. But, because we love our pets, we can often overdo it and ignore food safety rules that affect both our health and the health of our pets.”

Each year around Thanksgiving, KuKanich and colleagues at Kansas State University’s Small Animal Hospital treat multiple cats and dogs that have pancreatitis — an inflammation of the pancreas. The condition often manifests in pets that have eaten fatty human foods, such as meat trimmings and bacon, rather than their normal diet. Foods high in salt can be hazardous to pets with heart disease.

I thought it was drunks that got pancreatitis.

KuKanich advises pet owners to keep pets’ meals and treats as normal as possible during the holidays in order to avoid a recipe for disaster. She also said that the same food safety rules that apply to humans also apply to pets. These include:

  • Turkey and other meats must be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before dogs, cats and humans eat it. Raw and undercooked meats as well as their juices can contain germs that can cause serious illness in both people and animals.

“Sometimes people think that it’s OK to give a pet raw or undercooked meat because pets’ ancestors come from the wild,” KuKanich said. “Any raw meat, such as the gizzard of the turkey, can make our pets sick because they can be contaminated with bacteria. A meat thermometer is best way to know our meats are food safe and cooked to the proper temperature for everyone’s safety.”

  • Bones, such as a hambone, drumstick or rib, also can be dangerous because they can become lodged in the esophagus of dogs, requiring emergency endoscopy or surgical removal.
  • Pet owners should wash their hands in warm, sudsy water before and after feeding their pet. Pets’ food and water bowls and measuring cups used to dispense their food also should be cleaned regularly.

“Handwashing prior to cooking, eating and food storage is important to keep food and family members safe,” KuKanich said. “It also is a good idea to either avoid petting our furry friends during food prep and meals or to wash hands frequently so that we keep both the food and the pets safe.”

  • Juices from raw turkey and other meats will contaminate anything it touches in the kitchen, including counter space, utensils, other food and pet dishes.
  • Pets and people should not eat cooked and dairy-based food that has been sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Two hours is the longest food should sit at room temperature before it is refrigerated or frozen, according to a food safety specialist at Kansas State University Olathe.

Additionally, while sweets and deserts may affect our waistline, they can be hazardous to an animal.

Kate’s got the basics right.

Kansas State is fortunate to have her.

Our publications can be found on-line.

KState changes handwashing recommendations

Twelve years after Chapman and I set out for Prince George, B.C., where Chapman announced his fears of both bears and jello-swim nights at the local college, and then went to Kansas State University, where I met a girl (who’s still my best friend and wife), where I got sexually advanced upon in an unpleasant manner by a professor dude, where I had lunch with the president, got a job offer, and enjoyed a great career, my former boss sent me this:

KState has changed its handwashing recommendations.

They disconnected the blow dryers in those groovy all-in-one handwashing units.

One reason I was offered the job is because I took the prez to the bathroom and showed him how shitty their handwashing recommendations were.

But that story is old.

No one should be recreating their past glory days (and if I ever quote a Bruce Springsteen song again, put me out of my misery).

Change does sometimes happen: usually not as fast as any of us would like.

Who says I don’t play well with others: Kansas State veterinarian outlines safety guidelines for kids handling animals

Do you have kids who love to find frogs and turtles in the wild or snuggle with baby chicks and ducklings? Kansas State University veterinarians say it’s great to encourage children to become interested in animals at a young age, but there are certain precautions and guidelines you should know.

uq.petting.zoo.1.aug.11“We want kids to be excited about animals, but it’s really important for parents to remember that safety should always come first,” said Kate KuKanich, associate professor of internal medicine in the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “We want to make sure all of these experiences that kids have with animals are safe, healthy and positive experiences, which is why everyone should follow the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention recommendations about interacting with animals.”

According to the CDC, parents should closely monitor which animals young kids come into contact with, and kids under the age of 5 should not be allowed to touch reptiles like turtles, snakes and lizards; amphibians like frogs, toads, salamanders and newts; and young poultry like chicks, ducklings and goslings. All of these animals are carriers and shedders of salmonella, which can cause illness in children and immunosuppressed adults.

“Salmonella is so common in reptiles that reports have shown that more than 90 percent of our reptiles may be carrying and shedding the bacteria — and they often don’t show symptoms,” KuKanich said. “Having young children wash their hands after petting the animal isn’t enough protection from salmonella because of the possibility of cross-contamination. Children who pet these animals often have risky behaviors, such as wiping their hands on their shirt, pants or the counter, or putting their hands in their mouth before washing. All of these actions can lead to the spread of the bacteria and ultimately, illness.”

More than 70,000 people become sick from salmonella through contact with reptiles each year in the U.S., with the main signs of salmonellosis being fever and bloody diarrhea.

“It’s just not worth the risk of letting toddlers handle, pet or even be in the same room with these animals,” KuKanich said.

That doesn’t mean animals can’t be part of young children’s lives. Kukanich says some fun animals that young kids can learn about and safely pet — as long as these animals are healthy — include pocket pets, adult dogs and cats, and adult farm animals.

ekka.petting.zooPetting zoos and farms can provide an excellent opportunity for children to learn and interact with animals. A recent study from KuKanich; Gonzalo Erdozain, a 2014 Kansas State University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduate; and colleagues found three main ways to reduce the risk of transmission of infection in these settings: knowing the risks involved with interacting with animals, including the potential diseases and how they spread; taking the proper sanitary measure of washing your hands; and being aware of risky behaviors that could lead to illness.

“Young kids are more prone to risky behaviors around animals, such as putting their hands in their mouths right after petting an animal or letting a pacifier touch an animal before going into their mouth,” Erdozain said. “Parents and teachers should supervise kids closely to minimize these behaviors, encourage hand-washing and help ensure all animal encounters are safe as well as fun.”

Previous research by Erdozain, KuKanich and colleagues found that of 574 visitors attending petting zoos in Kansas and Missouri, only 37 percent attempted any kind of hand hygiene.

“Think about how many kids pick up a turtle or toad they find in the yard and then don’t wash their hands immediately after handling the animal,” Erdozain said. “Properly washing your hands is the best way to decrease the chances of getting sick after petting or handling an animal.”

Proper hand-washing includes wetting hands, applying soap, rubbing for at least 15 seconds, rinsing with a significant flow of running water and drying with paper towels — not on clothes. KuKanich suggests teaching kids to sing a song while washing their hands to ensure they wash long enough.

The study, “Best Practices for Planning Events Encouraging Human-Animal Interactions,” was published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health. Authors include Erdozain; KuKanich; Ben Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com.

Universities increasingly irrelevant

When I talk with my older four daughters, I increasingly find myself quoting my father: I don’t care if you go to university, but be really good at something.

snl40-taylor-swift-sitting-with-sarah-palin-steven-spielberg-2015-billboard-650The cost-benefit simply isn’t worth it.

And university presidents are increasingly cheerleaders in charge.

Like Kirk Shultz at Kansas State;

“It is not snowing in Australia! @mikestanton14: .@kstate_pres a snow day tomorrow would be a pretty great way to celebrate President’s Day”

See my four-part series, Dear Dr. Provost, and the ridiculous lows universities have succumbed to.

Chapman is Taylor Swift.

Universities can suck

I loved my time at the University of Guelph and Kansas State University – to a point.

bill-murray-lost-in-translationAt KState, I met my wife, Amy, we have a daughter, and I was made full professor.

But I know, at both institutions, the people around me thought I was a freak, and when I moved to Brisbane to support Amy, the salary became attractive so I was unceremoniously fired.

KState now brags about its virtual campus, but they couldn’t handle me doing more work than others, electronically.

Gotta be there to meet and greet, because if you follow KState president Kirk Schulz’s blog, that’s all he does to bring in the bucks.

Amy and I both got this message in the past week:

“Your K-State eID will lose access as of (December 03, 2014) to your K-State email account. That resource is intended solely for use by K-State faculty, staff, students, and sponsored users. This action is being taken because K-State records indicate you are not a currently enrolled student or a current employee.  You will retain access to your eProfile, K-State Online, any student records in iSIS, and any personnel records in HRIS as long as you keep your eID active.”

Don’t expect a donation to the alumni fund. My e-mail is dpowell29@gmail.com. I’m in Japan this week (right, not exactly as shown) which could be a great opportunity to promote KState, but, narrow vision doesn’t go far, no matter how much it’s dressed up by PR flunkies.

 

Someone sued because they wanted raw sprouts on their Jimmy John’s sandwich? Maybe they work at Kansas State University

Lee Schafer of the Star Tribune wrote in mid-Oct (yes, I’m playing catch-up, taxes and hockey and pumpkins are a bitch) about an announcement of a proposed class-action settlement to readers who somehow suspect they got cheated out of some alfalfa sprouts by the sandwich shop Jimmy John’s.

sprout.apple_.aug_.141In the case of Starks v. Jimmy John’s LLC et al., filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, a customer claimed that Jimmy John’s did not put alfalfa sprouts on her sandwich. The notice of proposed settlement said “sandwiches,” plural, so that suggests it happened to her more than once.

Since alfalfa sprouts were advertised on the menu, there was a problem.

In a subsequent court filing, the customer alleged interference with contract, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, violation of California’s False Advertising Act and so on.

Jimmy John’s has agreed to “cease and desist from advertising or otherwise representing” to sell sandwiches with sprouts and then not put them on the sandwich, and it agreed make a charitable donation of at least $100,000.

The vouchers issued to customers can only add up to a maximum of $725,000, less the actual costs of the settlement administration, which are estimated at $15,000.

So, if you ordered a sandwich with sprouts from February 2012 through July 21, 2014, and didn’t get sprouts, then you may fill out a form, send it in and get the $1.40.

jimmy.johns_.sprouts2-300x225The lead plaintiff is to get $5,000 in addition to her $1.40 voucher. The plaintiffs’ attorneys are to receive $370,000 in fees and expenses. That’s cash, incidentally, not 264,286 vouchers for a pickle or chips at Jimmy John’s.

Meanwhile, business was brisk Friday at a Jimmy John’s in downtown Minneapolis. There were several sandwiches like the Totally Tuna and Turkey Tom listed with “sprouts* optional” with the asterisk leading to a menu warning that eating raw or undercooked sprouts poses a health risk.

Jimmy John’s has become the poster child for raw sprouts in the U.S. with numerous outbreaks; WalMart and Kroger no longer sell raw sprouts; much of food service stopped years ago.

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-8-1-14.xlsx.

Sprouts present a unique food safety challenge compared to other fresh produce, as the sprouting process provides optimal conditions for the growth and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. The sprout industry, regulatory agencies, and the academic community have been collaborating to improve the microbiological safety of raw sprouts, including the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), establishing guidelines for safe sprout production, and chemical disinfection of seed prior to sprouting. However, guidelines and best practices are only as good as their implementation. The consumption of raw sprouts is considered high-risk, especially for young, elderly and immuno-compromised persons.

From November 2010 into 2011, an outbreak linked to raw sprouts in the U.S. and involving sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s sickened 140 people. This was the third sprout related outbreak involving this franchise, yet the owner of the Montana Jimmy John’s outlet, Dan Stevens, expressed confidence in his sprouts claiming that because the sprouts were locally grown they would not be contaminated. By the end of December 2010 a sprout supplier, Tiny Greens Farm, was implicated in the outbreak. Jimmy John’s owner, John Liautaud, responded by stating the sandwich chain would replace alfalfa sprouts with clover sprouts since they were allegedly easier to clean. However, a week earlier a separate outbreak had been identified in Washington and Oregon in which eight people were infected with Salmonella after eating sandwiches containing clover sprouts from a Jimmy John’s restaurant. This retailer was apparently not aware of the risks associated with sprouts, or even outbreaks associated with his franchisees.

sprout.santa_.barf_.xmas_1-300x254In late December, 2011, less than one year after making the switch to clover sprouts, Jimmy John’s was linked to another sprout related outbreak, this time it was E.coli O26 in clover sprouts. In February 2012, sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s announced they were permanently removing raw clover sprouts from their menus. As of April 2012, the outbreak had affected 29 people across 11 states. Founder and chief executive, John Liautaud, attempted to appease upset customers through Facebook stating, “a lot of folks dig my sprouts, but I will only serve the best of the best. Sprouts were inconsistent and inconsistency does not equal the best.” He also informed them the franchise was testing snow pea shoots in a Campaign, Illinois store, although there is no mention regarding the “consistency” or safety of this choice.

Despite the frequent need for sprout-based risk communication, messaging with industry and public stakeholders has been limited in effectiveness. In spite of widespread media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks, improved production guidelines, and public health enforcement actions, awareness of risk remains low. Producers, food service and government agencies need to provide consistent, evidence-based messages and, more importantly, actions. Information regarding sprout-related risks and food safety concerns should be available and accurately presented to producers, retailers and consumers in a manner that relies on scientific data and clear communications.

The would-be food safety gurus at Kansas State still order Jimmy John’s with sprouts for their various really important meetings.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Abstract

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been arecurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.