US to miss foodborne disease reduction goals

I’ve said this for years.

Need new messages, new strategy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association newsletter reports numbers of confirmed illnesses in humans resulting from common foodborne pathogens have risen or remained level for several years, putting the U.S. on track to miss 2020 reduction targets.

Better tests and more testing may help explain why the numbers have not fallen, but to reach its goals, the U.S. needs more work to reduce food contamination, according to authors of an article published this spring in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among the findings, the authors wrote that preliminary 2019 data show confirmed illness counts for Listeria, Salmonella, and Shigella have remained unchanged over several years, and confirmed illness counts for the other five pathogens tracked by the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network increased.
“FoodNet surveillance data indicate that progress in controlling major foodborne pathogens in the United States has stalled,” the article states. “To better protect the public and achieve forthcoming Healthy People 2030 foodborne disease reduction goals, more widespread implementation of known prevention measures and new strategies that target particular pathogens and serotypes are needed.”

I saw the Hip at a bar in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on this tour with my 6-month pregnant ex-wife.

Great show.

Food safety management: the UK version

My 28-year-old music therapist came over for her one hour session this morning which is the highlight of my week. I sing and play guitar like no one is watching. And I introduce her to 50-year-old songs, like those on Workingman’s Dead, which we played this morning in its entirety (Oh, and Chapman, she likes Jimmy Buffett, so suck it).

This paper forms part of an ongoing project studying various approaches to the management of hazards and risk in the food industry with implications for other areas of risk management where cooperation and collaboration between organisations are of a potential benefit. In this paper we give particular focus to the Food Standard Agency’s proposed Regulating Our Future that requires closer cooperation and collaboration between the public enforcement authorities and the industry organisations that police food hygiene and food safety management. The forming of a Primary Authority between Cornwall Council and Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) emerged as a potential means of contributing to this by improving trust between all parties involved, sharing of information, assessing risk, reducing inspection times and frequency of inspections from Primary Authority. Attention is given to the current relationship between the various organisations involved from the perspectives and viewpoints of Local Authority Enforcement Officers from Preston City Council, Cornwall Council and SALSA and other experienced food safety professionals. The research is qualitative and grounded, including a review of the extant literature and interviews with food safety and food standards professionals from the private and public enforcement sectors.

Approaches to the management and policing of food safety: The food standard agency’s regulating our future, 2019

International Journal of Management and Applied Research vol. 7 no. 2

Richard Bradford-Knox, Kevin Kane, Simon Neighbour

http://ijmar.org/v7n2/20-012.pdf

Tick the boxes is not enough: Leadership in food safety management in Australia

My friend Andrew Thomson writes in this piece for Hospital Health here in Australia:

COVID-19 has sharpened our focus on safety, with lockdown providing an opportunity to reflect on current approaches and where improvements to compliance policies and practices could be achieved.

Food safety management systems in Australia have largely not changed on the safety front. A one-size-fits-all approach to food safety management systems is widespread across the foodservice sector — a certain recipe for failure. All too familiar food safety problems persist at unacceptably high rates.

Leaders (at all levels) do not fully understand their food safety obligations — they are wanting a quick fix so they can tick the regulatory box.

Characteristically, a leader within an organisation will copy and paste another organisation’s food safety management system and make minimal changes; or they will download a template to assist them develop what they believe is a compliant system. This leader fills out a few text boxes here and there throughout the document, which is done in isolation of operational employee consultation and involvement. The newly created food safety management system completely lacks operational detail and bears no resemblance to site-specific operational and food law requirements.

Validating the system and developing robust verification mechanisms are poorly understood, and in many cases does not occur.

Production processes impacting on food safety are not fully understood by operational leaders and employees, or there is inconsistent understanding of the processes. If leaders and employees do not know how the food safety system works (or is supposed to work), how can they improve it?

There are significant shortcomings around resource allocation, including sub-par training — there is no genuine commitment to training, nor are there any accountability processes in place — this is just another example of ticking the box.

Food handling employees need to know:

what to do,

how to do it,

why it’s important, and

what corrective actions to take when required.

Corrective action is a critical food safety step that helps prevent a food safety incident from occurring.

The dated ‘compliance-based training’ and ‘mandatory online modules’ approach and refresher training has failed. New training and learning habits and practices will need to be created.

Implementation and meaningful review of food safety management systems rarely occur. An organisation must be able to demonstrate that it is complying with its food safety management system and conduct a regular review — a requirement of Australian food law.

A review is of critical importance as food production activities within the operation will change over time, such as when new equipment is purchased or changes are made to cooking methods.

The involvement of senior leadership is required in the review process, to provide an opportunity to examine business activity from a different perspective. Soft or inconsistent regulatory audits are simply not helpful and place the organisation and other stakeholders at risk, including the regulator. In many situations food safety management is not a priority and is not taken seriously, with a ‘she’ll be right’ approach, until there is a food safety incident or regulatory intervention. This can often lead to unwanted and negative (social) media attention.

Food safety colleague Dr Doug Powell explained that when there is an outbreak of foodborne illness many food operations will rely on a go-to soundbite, “Food safety is our top priority”.

For Dr Powell, a former professor of food safety for 17 years at the universities of Guelph and Kansas State, this sets up a mental incongruity: if food safety is your top priority, shouldn’t you show me?

The other common soundbite is, “We meet all government standards”.

With a changing regulatory landscape, advances in technology, and food products and ingredients travelling great distances, it is time for senior leadership and boards of directors to elevate the food safety conversation within their organisation.

Far too many foodservice operations are leaving brand protection to government inspectors or auditors — this is a bad idea.

Organisational leaders should commit themselves to achieving optimal industry standards in food safety management instead of aiming to meet minimum requirements. Leaders must be actively involved in celebrating team success and equally the reporting and development of risk-reduction strategies when a food safety issue arises. Leaders must hold every employee accountable for consistent adherence to recognised food law requirements and safety practices. Failing to respond to these matters leaves many organisations (and employees) vulnerable to a myriad of risks.

Chinese primary school hit by food poisoning with more than 100 children hooked to drips

Abigail O’Leary of the Mirror writes that a primary school hit by a wave of food poisoning caused scenes of chaos as more than 100 children were struck down. 

The school, in the central Chinese province of Henan, saw pupils suffering from vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Officials are now investigating a so-called ‘central kitchen project’ in Yucheng County, where four government-contracted catering companies are supplying school meals to 4,500 kids.

Distressing images from rural hospitals in the county show young children hooked up to intravenous drips while others are slumped on chairs in waiting areas with their parents.

More than 100 youngsters have been admitted to hospital since Wednesday (10th June). County officials said most have been discharged, but some are still receiving treatment.

Home-based food businesses in Alberta with “low-risk” products no longer require handling permits

This is why I avoid potlucks (not that anyone would invite Dr. food safety).

I have no idea of the kitchen prep area, nor the personal hygiene of the providerer.

According to David Opinko of Lethbridge News Now, the Government of Alberta (that’s in Canada) has made it easier for individuals to start or continue operating businesses out of their home that sell food.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says this will also help to increase the public’s access to locally grown or processed foods.

“This regulatory change maintains our standards for food safety, supports Alberta entrepreneurs, adds new jobs, and benefits the economy by giving Albertans new opportunities to buy locally produced foods. It also makes it easier than ever to turn your passion into a home business.”

Specifically, those who sell low-risk items, or ones that have a lower ability to create food-borne illnesses, will not require food-handling permits or be subject to inspections.

Uh-huh.

C. diff rates decline

Efforts to prevent Clostridioides difficile infection continue to expand across the health care spectrum in the United States. Whether these efforts are reducing the national burden of C. difficile infection is unclear.

The Emerging Infections Program identified cases of C. difficile infection (stool specimens positive for C. difficile in a person ≥1 year of age with no positive test in the previous 8 weeks) in 10 U.S. sites. We used case and census sampling weights to estimate the national burden of C. difficile infection, first recurrences, hospitalizations, and in-hospital deaths from 2011 through 2017. Health care–associated infections were defined as those with onset in a health care facility or associated with recent admission to a health care facility; all others were classified as community-associated infections. For trend analyses, we used weighted random-intercept models with negative binomial distribution and logistic-regression models to adjust for the higher sensitivity of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) as compared with other test types.

RESULTS

The number of cases of C. difficile infection in the 10 U.S. sites was 15,461 in 2011 (10,177 health care–associated and 5284 community-associated cases) and 15,512 in 2017 (7973 health care–associated and 7539 community-associated cases). The estimated national burden of C. difficile infection was 476,400 cases (95% confidence interval [CI], 419,900 to 532,900) in 2011 and 462,100 cases (95% CI, 428,600 to 495,600) in 2017. With accounting for NAAT use, the adjusted estimate of the total burden of C. difficile infection decreased by 24% (95% CI, 6 to 36) from 2011 through 2017; the adjusted estimate of the national burden of health care–associated C. difficileinfection decreased by 36% (95% CI, 24 to 54), whereas the adjusted estimate of the national burden of community-associated C. difficile infection was unchanged. The adjusted estimate of the burden of hospitalizations for C. difficile infection decreased by 24% (95% CI, 0 to 48), whereas the adjusted estimates of the burden of first recurrences and in-hospital deaths did not change significantly.

CONCLUSIONS

The estimated national burden of C. difficile infection and associated hospitalizations decreased from 2011 through 2017, owing to a decline in health care–associated infections. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Trends in US burden of clostridioides difficile infection and outcomes, 02 April 2020

New England Journal of Medicine

Alice Y. Guh, M.D., M.P.H., Yi Mu, Ph.D., Lisa G. Winston, M.D., Helen Johnston, M.P.H., Danyel Olson, M.S., M.P.H., Monica M. Farley, M.D., Lucy E. Wilson, M.D., Stacy M. Holzbauer, D.V.M., M.P.H., Erin C. Phipps, D.V.M., M.P.H., Ghinwa K. Dumyati, M.D., Zintars G. Beldavs, M.S., Marion A. Kainer, M.B., B.S., M.P.H., Maria Karlsson, Ph.D., Dale N. Gerding, M.D., and L. Clifford McDonald, M.D.

DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1910215

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1910215

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes

And there will be no Alanis videos here.

Almost 10 years ago, I, full professor who had been tenured since 2000, was fired by Kansas State University for bad attendance because I did want to be the spouse who crushed his partner’s dreams and not move to Australia (she has lots of other ways to be disappointed in me, join the line).

I said, why not run a distance course.

That didn’t work out so well.

Now all the unis are trying to develop distance courses as they face shutdowns in response to Coronavirus.

Just saying.

Everyone’ got a camera Red Rooster Australia edition

Nick Hall of Franchise Business reports fast food chain Red Rooster has made the drastic decision to shut two Perth outlets after leaked photos raised concerns over food safety.

Images posted on Facebook appear to show cooked chickens piled into the back of a Red Rooster delivery vehicle; unwrapped, unrefrigerated and in seemingly unsanitary condition.

Furthermore, reports suggest the chickens were being transported on day when the Perth sun was at its deadliest.

Social media users slammed the outlet for its unsanitary practices, with many questioning why the chickens were placed in the back of the car in the first place.

“To me this looks like a store has ran out of chicken and someone has transferred these from one store to another,” one user speculated.

In response to the alleged food safety breaches, Red Rooster quickly moved to close Forrestfield store, along with another in Waypoint also under the same franchisee’s direction.

In a statement, Red Rooster confirmed that the stores would remained closed until investigations were finalised.

“These stores will remain closed while detailed investigations are conducted, required actions are taken and we are satisfied that the operating standards of these locations meet the high expectations of our strict brand standards,” the brand said.

“We have alerted the relevant authorities and are working with them closely while our local staff on the ground undertake the investigation and actions required to meet our brand standards.”

Chipotle: The food safety gift that keeps on giving

In a previous life I was the scientific advisor for the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.

We would meet a couple of times a year, and I would provide my food safety thoughts on what was going on at retail, but what struck me was that the first three hours of every meeting were like a self-help therapy session.

These heads of food safety at major Canadian retailers would bemoan their diminishing status at the corporate level: No one cares about food safety until there’s an outbreak. Twenty years later, the song remains the same.

Alexis Morillo of Delish writes that Chipotle workers claim that food safety practices are at risk at the fast casual restaurant due to managerial procedures that cause workers to “cut corners.”

A total of 47 current and former Chipotle workers from New York City locations came forward about the malpractice in a report to Business Insider. This news follows recent allegations that the company has been violating child labor laws.

In the report obtained by Business Insider, workers outlined concerns about the way things are done behind the scenes at Chipotle. It said that many incentives like pay bonuses let other responsibilities like cleanliness audits and food safety fall to the wayside.

Workers said in the report that working at Chipotle is “highly pressurized environment” with goals that include “minimizing labor costs.”

It was also said that managers are often told in advance when a restaurant will be inspected for cleanliness so they can be prepared. Meanwhile, when an inspection isn’t taking place the cleanliness standard is much more laid back. In the past, people have questioned Chipotle’s safety standards because of the E. Coli outbreak a couple years back. The chain also has an interesting sick day policy, where there are on call nurses for workers to check if they’re actually sick.

Chipotle said in a statement to Delish that the company is committed to safe food and a safe work environment and that the pay bonuses actually incentivize workers to be even more precise when following company policies.

The song remains the same.

Arguing about the org chart: Food safety culture has really jumped the shark

How about don’t make food that makes people barf.

No runs, no barf.

Barf-free food.

For those who want labels, here ya go:

The topic of food safety culture and climate is growing attention from industry, researchers, standards owners and certification bodies. Authors use the terms food safety culture and climate, however, there are no unified definitions to provide clarity on the meaning of these terms.

The objective of this study is to analyse the similarities and differences in current definitions and statements of Food Safety Culture and Food Safety Climate, and provide suggested clarifying definitions for both concepts, to bring a consistent approach to the field. The study evaluates the types of organisational cultures, climates and employees’ behaviours which provide important differences and further insights into each of these.

Looking back at the origins of safety culture following the Chernobyl accident in the 1980’s provides an understanding of how this laid the foundation for safety culture and climate in the UK. Reflecting on the increasing trend in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) breaches due to the increasing number of incidents reported to authorities, the study suggests an increased focus is needed on culture, climate, and behaviour in food businesses. A critical analysis of previous definitions, statements and common words currently used to describe culture and climate in published definitions is provided. New definitions for food safety culture and climate based on factors shown to be important and are recommended for use by industry and researchers are proposed. The study assesses different types of culture, climate and employees, and suggests different employee behaviours impact the culture and climate of an organisation.

Terminology and the understanding of culture, climate, and behavioural change—impact of organizational and human factors on food safety management

Trends in Food Science and Technology, vol. 96, pg. 13-20

N.Sharmana, C.A.Wallacea, L.Jespersen

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2019.12.005

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092422441930439X