New food safety training techniques required; with Kevin McDonald

I don’t know Kevin McDonald but I’ve laughed with him for 20 years as one of the founders of the popular Canadian comedy troupe, Kids in the Hall.

I also regularly insert his videos into, and say catchlines to Amy like, How the Hell Could I Know, or I Can’t Help Blaming Myself, but I Also Can’t Help Not Caring, Slipped My Mind, and There’s Nothing Like Clean Sheets (and a rock hard alibi).

So who knew I’d have a grad student that knew Kevin.

But this is really about that graduate student, Rob Mancini, who got his research published.

It’s not a TV show, but for science nerds, it’s the credibility that counts.

New methods of food safety training need to be developed and health inspections do help correct unsafe food preparation practices, according to new research from Kansas State University.

Rob Mancini, a MS graduate of Kansas State and a health inspector with the Manitoba Department of Health, led a study of how to improve food safety at Folklorama in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a 14-day temporary food service event that explores the many different cultural realms of food, food preparation, and entertainment.

The results were published in the Oct. issue of the Journal of Food Protection.

In 2010, the Russian pavilion at Folklorama was implicated in a foodborne outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 that caused 37 illnesses and 18 hospitalizations. The ethnic nature and diversity of foods prepared within each pavilion presents a unique problem for food inspectors, as each culture prepares food in their own unique way.

The Manitoba Department of Health and Folklorama Board of Directors realized a need to implement a food safety information delivery program that would be more effective than a 2-h food safety course delivered via PowerPoint slides. The food operators and event coordinators of five randomly chosen pavilions selling potentially hazardous food were trained on-site, in their work environment, focusing on critical control points specific to their menu. A control group (five pavilions) did not receive on-site food safety training and were assessed concurrently. Public health inspections for all 10 pavilions were performed by Certified Public Health Inspectors employed with Manitoba Health. Critical infractions were assessed by means of standardized food protection inspection reports.

The results suggested no statistically significant difference in food inspection scores between the trained and control groups. However, it was found that inspection report results increased for both the control and trained groups from the first inspection to the second, implying that public health inspections are necessary in correcting unsafe food safety practices. The results further show that in this case, the 2 hour food safety course delivered via slides was sufficient to pass public health inspections. Further evaluations of alternative food safety training approaches are warranted.

“Rob was an outstanding graduate student and his research highlights the value of reality research,” said supervisor Dr. Douglas Powell, a professor of food safety in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at Kansas State University. “The research was done in the field, Rob took all his courses by distance, but we communicated regularly using electronic tools.

Other authors include Dr. Leigh Murray of the Dept. of Statistics at Kansas State, and Dr. Ben Chapman, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University.

A video highlighting the results of the research featuring Mancini and Kevin McDonald is available at

Investigating the potential benefits of on-site food safety training for Folklorama, a temporary food service event


Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 10, October 2012 , pp. 1829-1834(6)

Mancini, Roberto; Murray, Leigh; Chapman, Benjamin J.; Powell, Douglas A.

Top Chef: Medium-rare lamb is 140F and soy sauce is the secret ingredient in perfect gravy

Jennifer and daughter Ingrid brought the lamb, I did the cooking, and Amy’s mom flew in from Vegas. Another Thursday night in Manhattan (Kansas).

What better occasion to try out alleged perfect gravy that scientists with the U.K. Royal Society of Chemistry have determined contains drippings from a roast on a bed of halved onions, carrots and celery and the left-over water from boiled cabbage.

Add salt, pepper and a sprinkling of flour to thicken and …  a touch of soy sauce.

Dr John Emsley, a chemical scientist, says soy sauce should be used in place of traditional gravy browning because monosodium glutamate from the soy sauce brings out the meaty flavour.

A spokesman for the society said:

“Chemistry and cooking are basically the same thing. Both need to have the correct formula, equipment and procedures. Just think of Heston Blumenthal.”

Eww. Blumenthal makes me think norovirus and barf.

And I didn’t take pictures of Thursday’s dinner, but Top Chef on Wed. night also struggled with lamb, and none of the hot-shot chefs could agree on how to define medium-rare lamb.

Chef Kevin (left):

“We’re having temperature issues with the lamb. What I think of as medium-rare, is apparently what she thinks of as rare. I don’t know who’s right or wrong, I don’t know if there is anyone who is right or wrong.”

The judges knew:

“This was seared raw lamb that was horrible.”

“Severely underdone.”

“Center was like jello.”

“A little too bloody.”

The lamb shoulder roast we had last night was cooked to 140F. There’s even a chart on the Internet that says medium-rare lamb is 140F. I have no idea where the numbers on the chart came from, but it seems about right.

Genius chefs and judges: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

The gravy was delicious.

Nestle says Peanut Corp. sucked; Kellogg’s says, how the hell could we know?

David Mackay doesn’t look like Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall fame.

But Kellogg’s CEO Mackay did an outstanding impersonation of McDonald’s, “How the hell should I know” skit (below) in front of a U.S. Congressional committee today.

“When you look at Kellogg, we have 3,000 ingredients and 1,000 suppliers, I think it’s common industry practice to use a third party.”

Not common enough for Nestle North America, which rejected Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely plant as a supplier in 2002 after it found the plant had no plans to address hazards like salmonella.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that in January 2006, Nestle also rejected the company’s Plainview, Texas, plant after finding dozens of dead mice rotting in and around the plant, dead pigeons near a peanut receiving door and live birds roosting inside the plant.

Congressional types also heard today that auditors AIB — also known as the American Institute of Baking based in Manhattan (sigh, Kansas) — were hired and paid by Peanut Corp. of America, notified the company in advance when they were coming, how to prepare for inspections and then gave its plants glowing reviews.

An inspector with AIB wrote to the manager of Peanut Corp.’s Blakely, Ga., in a December 2008 e-mail produced today by the committee that,

“You lucky guy. I am your AIB auditor. So we need to get your plant set up for any audit.”

Mackay told the committee a version of, “how the hell could we know?” and that AIB is the most commonly used inspector by food companies in America.

Not for long. And for a company to say it meets industry standards ain’t so great when 700 are sick and nine dead.