Surveys still suck: Did the UK FSA discover that piping hot is a fairytale

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have released their biannual findings from the general public attitudes tracker. This tracker highlights the behaviour, thoughts and reputation of food safety aspects throughout the year. Whenever there’s a scandal, a legislation change or a news piece surrounding the FSA’s points of interest, it’s going to have a public reaction. Whether good or bad, these reactions will shape and alter the way in which the public perceives food safety.

The FSA’s findings are based on 2,150 interviews from a representative sample of adults aged 16 and over across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Fieldwork was carried out between 8th and 26th May 2019, as part of the regular TNS Kantar face-to-face-omnibus survey.

Questions cover several topics of interest for the Agency, including:

concern about food safety issues

awareness of food hygiene standards

awareness of the FSA and its responsibilities

trust in the FSA and the food industry

confidence in food labelling.

At wave 18, a new set of questions were added to monitor the public’s trust in the FSA as well as the wider food system.

One of the FSA’s strategic objectives is to ensure consumers have the information and understanding to make informed choices about where and what they eat. To help monitor performance against this objective, respondents were asked about their awareness of hygiene standards when buying food or eating out. At wave 18, 52% of respondents reported always being aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from, and a further 33% said they were sometimes aware.

It’s fair to say that the public is now taking a greater interest in UK food safety standards, meaning there is less margin for error in the food industry. With nearly 80% of the UK public being aware of food hygiene standards when eating out, it’s imperative that you get your standards right first time. Partnering with a food safety company like ourselves is one of the best ways of ensuring you meet your legal obligations as a food business. Our experts are some of the best in the business are available around the clock to coach, advise, audit and help your business reach the highest level of food hygiene.

Piping hot is not a standard.

Piping hot in Australia

I guess people think I don’t exist, but I am here, just not in the corporate-academic-producer group-government meeting mode.

I hang out at supermarkets and talk with people.

I went to my Commons this morning, and saw these ribs and bought a pack, not because I wanted ribs but because of the labelling.


Thermometers, cats and the UK Food Standards Agency: Piping hot for the world?

I watched our veterinarian stick a thermometer into the ass of our cat(s) the other day while they were getting vaccinated for feline immunodeficiency virus (because they’ve now become outside roaming cats).

They didn’t care.

The UK Food Standards Agency is bragging that one of its own, Steve Wearne, got elected to the Codex Alimentarius Commission as vice-chair.

That’s an impressive bureaucratic achievement.

UK Food Minister George Eustice bubbled that, “The appointment of Steve Wearne to this important leadership role is testament to the strength and reputation of the UK’s food quality and safety standards. 

“This is a great opportunity to bring the UK’s renowned expertise to the table as the committee continues to pioneer global policy for food safety – increasing consumer confidence in the food we eat around the world.”

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the FSA said: ‘Steve’s appointment is a real vote of confidence in the UK’s leadership in modern, accountable food regulation. I’m delighted that he and the FSA will be taking such a significant role in setting the standards for food globally.’

I’m not.

This is an agency that ignores science and continues to tell consumers to cook things until they are piping hot, apparently because consumers are too low on the British caste system to understand how a thermometer works.

My cats know how thermometers work.

UK food stores flock to roast-in-the-bag chickens

It’s the one recipe to which even rudimentary cooks like to add their unique touches – perhaps a herby garnish or a few strips of bacon.

roast.chicken.june.10But it seems the days of roast chicken prepared in the distinctive way that your family has always enjoyed it may be numbered (the bird, right, was cooked to excess of 165F before serving).

Supermarkets are, according to Valerie Ellliot of the Daily Mail, urging shoppers to buy chickens in sealed ready- to-roast bags, amid fears that people are no longer able to maintain basic kitchen hygiene.

The aim is to reduce the number of campylobacter food-poisoning cases caused by handling fresh birds.

Supermarkets are increasingly promoting chickens in roast bags that are opened only after cooking. There is no human contact with raw skin and a lower risk of poultry juices spreading bugs. In most cases, they are marginally more expensive – Tesco charges £6 for a 3.3lb bagged version against £5 for a plain chicken.

Asda launched roast-in-bag flavoured chickens in September last year. Six million have been sold, and they now make up 30 per cent of all its chicken sales. A turkey crown in a bag will be on sale for Christmas.

Marks and Spencer now sells two thirds of its chickens in bags and they are also sold at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Aldi, while Morrisons and Lidl intend to introduce them.

Restaurateur Mark Hix, who specialises in British cuisine, said: ‘I don’t think people should buy chickens in bags. That removes all the pleasure of cooking. Good hygiene is not difficult.’

cooked.chickenGood hygiene is difficult – it requires people to pay attention.

But it can be done. Just stop saying it’s simple.

Tom Parker Bowles, Mail on Sunday food critic asked, “has it really come to this? A nation so lacking in basic common sense that we’re not to be trusted to wash our own hands? A country so obsessed with ease and convenience that the birds we put in our ovens must be sanitized and shoved in a plastic bag?

“I’ve been cooking roast chicken for more than 20 years and have never once caught any nefarious bug. We all know that raw chicken is to be treated with care: separate chopping board, hands scrubbed with soap and all the rest.”

Yes, the ole’ I’ve-been-doing-it-this-way-all-my-life-and-never-got-sick line.

But people are getting sick.

A roast chicken is the cornerstone of any decent cook’s repertoire. I’m making one tonight, stuffed with 30 cloves of garlic, rosemary, sage, and other stuff, and then get to make stock for a couple of days (I’ve got a bunch of mushrooms to use, so I see a mushroom soup in the near future.

Maybe in addition to cooking food in plastic, which may have a role, there is a learning moment to talk about the prevalence of dangerous bugs and how they can best be controlled. And that involves using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, not pedantic piping hot advice.

It’s steaming hot, like road apples? How is that scientific? Campy campaign fails

While the Brits are busy congratulating themselves on their Campylobacter reduction campaign, the following video from the UK Food Standards Agency crossed my computer.

How can any agency talk science-based, while ignoring the science in public advice about cooking chicken.

And these elaborate videos ain’t cheap.

Way to be duped, British taxpayers.

“The only way to kill germs is to cook chicken thoroughly, making sure it’s steaming hot in the middle.

I’ll go with the Hip.

KFC restaurant in UK prosecuted for selling undercooked food

It wasn’t piping hot.

A fast food restaurant in Northwich has been prosecuted for selling undercooked food which was eaten by a three-year-old child.

Queensway Hospitality Limited, which operates the KFC premises at Chesterway under franchise, admitted placing an unsafe mini chicken fillet burger on the market.

kfc.ukCheshire West and Chester Council prosecuted the company following a complaint to food safety officers concerning an incident on February 2, 2013.

Last Thursday (May 1), Chester Magistrates Court heard that a customer bought a mini chicken fillet burger meal from the restaurant’s drive-thru as a treat for his three-year-old son to eat at home a short distance away.

After starting to eat the mini chicken fillet burger the child spat the food out,

commenting that “it tasted funny”.

The child’s parents reported the matter to Cheshire West and Chester Council Food Safety, who sent the item for analysis by the Public Analyst who found conclusively that part of the burger had not been adequately cooked.

Food Safety Inspectors subsequently conducted an inspection of the KFC premises and gathered items of food safety documentation such as temperature and defrost control records.

They found evidence to suggest that in some instances chicken was being under-defrosted and that additional items were added to the defrosting cabinet during a defrosting cycle.

The company accepted that this was a serious incident, to which they reacted promptly, conducting their own internal investigation and undertaking a thorough review of procedures, recognising that fortunately on this occasion there was no harm caused as the child who ate the chicken spat it out.

The company was fined £500 and ordered to pay £2500 towards the council’s costs and a victim surcharge of £50.

Forget piping hot use a thermometer

Director of public health may sound like an impressive title, but how impressive is it when you uncritically repeat federal government palp?

Diners in Doncaster, UK, have according to the Star, suffered nearly 1,500 cases of a serious food poisoning bug in the last three years.

chicken.cook.thermometerFigures requested from the public health bosses show 1,479 people in the borough have gone down with Campylobacter since April 2012 – and NHS bosses are concerned cases of the illness may be on the rise.

Heath bosses are concerned about a rise in cases as a result of barbecues over the Bank Holiday.

And with more public holidays on the way, one of the borough’s most senior doctors is calling for people to be careful the bug does not spoil their parties.

In total, 475 cases of the bug, which causes nausea, severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, were reported between April 2013 and March 2014, the highest number of foodborne infectious disease investigated by Environmental Health in the borough over that period.

Doncaster’s director of public health Dr Tony Baxter warned people planning their barbecues now the weather is warming up to do all they can to prevent the illness striking.

He said: “Barbecued food may look well-cooked when it isn’t.

“Make sure that burgers, sausages and chicken are properly cooked by cutting into the meat and checking that it is steaming hot all the way through, that none of it is pink and that any juices run clear.”

As part of National Food Safety Week, which runs from June 16 to 22, the Food Standards Agency will be launching a campaign to help people protect themselves against the bug.

It will encourage people to make sure their barbecues are piping hot, cook meat thoroughly and check it before they eat it. The aim is to reduce levels of bug nationally.

The agency is also commissioning research into the cause of increasing levels of infection nationally.

I can save FSA some money.

Use a thermometer and stop with the piping hot crap.

FSA seeking for research on norovirus removal from oysters

Norovirus in oysters is a global issue and the UK Food Standards Agency, home of piping hot, is looking for some research help. As the virus bioaccumulates and is tough to cook out of shellfish, lots of folks are looking for virus removal strategies.Beautiful-Opened-Oyster

According to Fish Farmer, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is inviting tenders to design and execute a research study to identify and evaluate possible enhancements to improve norovirus removal from live oysters during shellfish depuration processes.

The FSA wants to commission work to quantify and optimise the effectiveness of standard UK depuration practices in reducing norovirus in oysters and to explore the potential for novel approaches to significantly improve the effectiveness of this process.

The study should include reviews of relevant available evidence (published and unpublished) as the starting point for a fully justified laboratory-based project which will improve the controls that can be applied to current UK depuration practices, to reduce the levels of norovirus in oysters sold for public consumption.

Maybe Heston Blumenthal is on the review panel.  If so, research into food handlers working while ill might predictably be next on the docket.

60 sick; Salmonella outbreak on Jersey Isle; make sure meat is piping hot

Oh, the Brits.

An investigation is underway into an outbreak of Salmonella infection linked to summer barbecue events during the weekend of 6-7 July.

Dr Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer of Health, told Jersey Isle, “I am pleased to report that the likely source of infection has been identified and barfblog.Stick It Inremoved, and there is no reason to believe there is any ongoing risk of infection.”

Mere mortals were not informed of the likely source of infection that resulted in 14 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella by midday July 15, with over 60 people reporting symptoms.

The story notes, “Don’t assume that because meat is charred on the outside it will be cooked properly on the inside,” and then states, “food made from minced meat, such as sausages and burgers, must be cooked thoroughly all the way through so should be piping hot before serving.”

It’s called a thermometer. Don’t be nervous, it’s not the kind for sticking up the arse; it’s for ensuring food is safe (and not overcooked).

Piping hot is not sound science

Dr Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), told a webinar that food policies and advice based on the best available science are needed to protect consumers from 1M cases of UK foodborne illness every year.

Telling consumers to cook their turkey until it is piping hot is not sound science.

Stick it in.