Food Safety Talk 199: Possum Droppers

Don and Ben start the episode talking about kimchi fermentation and all the cabbage that needed to be washed and salted. The conversation went towards collaborations with fun people that might seem a bit unnatural to outsiders. The guys talk about a few outbreaks including two pathogenic E. coli ones linked to Romaine lettuce and Hep A in blackberries. They then do some listener feedback on foreign objects, bad cleaning and sanitizing machines and chitterlings. Also, bacteria is everywhere.

Food safety recalls are always either too early or too late. If you’re right, it’s always too late. If you’re wrong, it’s always too early.
– Dr. Paul Mead

Food Safety Talk 199: Possum Droppers can be found on iTunes, Overcast or at

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Proposed Virginia law would allow sale of uninspected home processed food

A few weeks ago my neighbor told me about a how he was making kimchi, a fermented cabbage, carrot and onion concoction, in is kitchen. He put some vegetables into a mason jar, added some water, put the lid on it and tightened it as hard as it could go. Then he left it on the counter for a week. Although he created a pretty nice environment for botulinum toxin production, he luckily didn’t paralyze himself or his family.

After we chatted about fermentation, anaerobic environments and botulism, he decided he’d buy kimchi.

Kenric Ward writes at that some Virginians are looking to change state law around purchasing processed food from neighbors.original_ARTICLE-IMAGE-kimchi-jars-finedininglovers

Virginians who try to sell homemade food from their kitchens are feeling the heat from state and local inspectors.

“I have to turn down my neighbors when they ask if they can buy pesto I make from my own basil plants,”

HB 1290, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, would end home-kitchen inspections on items produced for direct sale. The goods would bear a label stating that the products are not for resale and were processed without state inspection.

“If someone wants to buy food from someone, what business is that of the state?” asks Matthew French, a farmer in Bland, Va. “The state basically comes at you with a gun, and says you can only buy from state-approved supplier.”

The push for fresh, locally made food is gaining ground,” French told in an interview. “Buyers want to know the person who’s preparing their food. People want it — and the state is getting in the way,” he said.

My neighbor is a great guy, but he’s not a food processor.

Maybe that fermentation ain’t working so well; 1,642 sickened; outbreak of E. coli O169 in schoolchildren associated with consumption of kimchi, Korea, 2012

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is now recognized as a common cause of foodborne outbreaks. This study aimed to describe the first ETEC O169 outbreak identified in Korea. In this outbreak, we identified 1,642 cases from seven schools. Retrospective cohort studies were Kimchiperformed in two schools; and case-control studies were conducted in five schools.

In two schools, radish kimchi was associated with illness; and in five other schools, radish or cabbage kimchi was found to have a higher risk among food items. Adjusted relative risk of kimchi was 5·87–7·21 in schools that underwent cohort studies; and adjusted odds ratio was 4·52–12·37 in schools that underwent case-control studies.

ETEC O169 was isolated from 230 affected students, and was indistinguishable from the isolates detected from the kimchi product distributed by company X, a food company that produced and distributed kimchi to all seven schools. In this outbreak, we found that the risk of a kimchi-borne outbreak of ETEC O169 infection is present in Korea. We recommend continued monitoring regarding food safety in Korea, and strengthening surveillance regarding ETEC O169 infection through implementation of active laboratory surveillance to confirm its infection.

Epidemiology & Infection, 2013, p.1-8

J.K. Hu, J. Seo, and Y.J. Choe

Kimchi crackdown in Korea

The Korea Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it conducted a joint inspection with local governments on kimchi producers and ingredient makers over a 2-week period earlier this month in order to ensure that consumers are free from foodborne illnesses.

Of more than 1,000 companies inspected, 140 were cited for having poor sanitary conditions or failing to conduct self-quality checks before selling the food products.

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables.