Medium and message: Need to frequently change handwashing signs to be effective

I’m a food safety voyeur.

Supermarkets, farmers markets, restaurants – fancy or not – kitchens, farms, I’ve been professionally watching people for 20 years.

surprise-01Chapman likes to recount how he was invited to the GFSI Consumer Goods Forum as a last minute replacement speaker in 2013 to talk about food safety infosheets and how we evaluated them.  He said that the literature shows surprise matters when it comes to communicating risks – and a message that is up all the time, like a hand washing sign, probably doesn’t do much after the day it was posted (when it is surprising to the food handler).

The level of surprise in a message determines how successfully the information is received. In 1948, the Bell Telephone Company commissioned a study on communication as a mathematical theory to aid in the design of telephones.  In a study of brain function, Zaghloul and colleagues (2009) also showed the brain’s sensitivity to unexpected or surprising information plays a fundamental role in the learning and adoption of new behaviors.

During the Q&A session at the end of the session someone from a German retail store asked Chapman if he was suggesting that that they take down all the handwashing posters they had up, and Chapman said, yes, unless they plan on changing them every couple of days. The audience had an audible gasp.

We’ve found that posting graphical, concise food safety stories in the back kitchens of restaurants can help reduce dangerous food safety practices and create a workplace culture that values safe food.

It was the first time that a communication intervention such as food safety information sheets had been validated to work using direct video observation in eight commercial restaurant kitchens and was published in the  Journal of Food Protection.

hand_sanitizer_hospital_11We found that infosheets decreased cross-contamination events by 20 per cent, and increased handwashing attempts by 7 per cent.

Based on observations of more than 5,000 patrons at a hospital-based cafeteria, we showed that an evidence-based informational poster can increase attempts at hand hygiene.

So we gladly welcome new work on food safety messages and media in poultry processing facilities.

Signs can provide repetitive training on specific food safety practices for multicultural food processing employees. Posted signs for workers in many food processing facilities tend to be text-heavy and focus specifically on occupational hazard safety. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of newly-developed hand washing pictograms on employees’ hand washing behavior using video observation.

Five employee hand washing behaviors (soap use, wash completeness, wash time, complete rinsing, and towel use) were evaluated with (a) no intervention, company signs posted and considered the baseline; and compared to (b) hand washing behavior the next day (short term) and two weeks (long term) after experimental hand washing signs were displayed at a raw poultry slaughter facility (Facility A) and a poultry further processing facility (Facility B).

sponge.bob.handwashingBoth facilities showed a significant increase (p < 0.05) in soap use after the new sign was introduced at both short and long term time periods. There was a significant increase (p < 0.05) in washing, time of washing, and rinsing observed by Facility B employees, when baseline data was compared to the short term. This indicates that a new sign could increase hand washing compliance at least in the short term. Sign color also had a significant effect (p < 0.05) on employee behavior for washing and time of washing. Behavior for four of the five variables (soap, wash, time of wash, and towel use) was significantly different (p < 0.05) between baseline and either experimental observation period.

While signs can be a useful tool to offer as recurring food safety training for food processing employees, employees tend to revert back to old habits after several weeks.

Evaluation of how different signs affect poultry processing employees’ hand washing practices

Food Control, Volume 68, October 2016, Pages 1–6

Matthew Schroeder, Lily Yang, Joseph Eifert, Renee Boyer, Melissa Chase, Sergio Nieto-Montenegro

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516301244

 

Watch the chickens; predict the campy

When I had campylobacteriosis I didn’t want to move much for fear of unleashing what was in my bowels. According to Yahoo News, chickens infected with campy also move less.

Using cameras to track how the birds move around can predict which flocks are at risk of being infected, according to research by Oxford University.images-1

Lead author of the study Dr Frances Colles, from Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, said: “Humans consume nearly 60 billion chickens a year, more than any other animal.

“At the same time, there is a worldwide epidemic of human gastroenteric disease caused by campylobacter.

“It is estimated that up to four fifths of this disease originates from contaminated chicken meat.”

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, showed campylobacter-positive birds had less movement and different behaviour to those without the bacteria.

Professor Marian Dawkins, Professor of Animal Behaviour at Oxford University, said: “The findings are compatible with the growing evidence that campylobacter may be detrimental to chickens’ health, rather than simply being harmless gut bacteria.

“Use of this optical flow information has the potential to make a major impact on the management of commercial chicken flocks, for the benefit of producers, consumers and the birds themselves.”

Researchers collected data for 31 commercial broiler flocks and tested for the presence of campylobacter at different ages.

A lot of poop on UK birds: Campylobacter survey report published

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the final report of its year-long survey of Campylobacter levels on UK fresh shop-bought chickens.

chickenThe report is an analysis of the data from the survey carried out by the FSA between February 2014 and March 2015, which showed the levels of Campylobacter found on fresh, whole chickens sold in the UK.

The results for the full year, as previously published, showed:

19% of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter within the highest band of contamination*

73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter

0.1% (five samples) of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination.

7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter.

* more than 1000 colony forming units per gram (>1000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

The survey results, which were published on a quarterly basis throughout the year, allowed consumers for the first time to compare the Campylobacter levels found on chickens from all of the major retailers. The final report contains data sets of the results from all of the retailers and includes comparisons between different sized birds.

Going public: Standards aim to cut down on Salmonella and campy in poultry pieces

The U.S. government is pushing the poultry industry to make their chicken and turkey a little safer with new standards aimed at reducing the number of cases of foodborne illness by 50,000 a year.

chicken.cook.thermometerThe proposed standards announced Wednesday by the Agriculture Department apply to the most popular poultry products — chicken breasts, legs and wings, and ground chicken and turkey. They are voluntary but designed to pressure companies to lower rates of salmonella and campylobacter, another pathogen that can cause symptoms similar to salmonella, in their products.

Among the measures companies could take to reduce the rates of those pathogens: better screening of flocks and better sanitation.

The proposal would ask poultry producers to reduce the rates of salmonella in raw chicken parts from around 24 percent now to less than 16 percent, and campylobacter rates in raw chicken parts from 22 percent to 8 percent. Rates also would be reduced in ground chicken and turkey, and sampling would be done over a longer period of time to ensure accuracy.

The Agriculture Department says the standards could eventually reduce salmonella and campylobacter illnesses linked to raw poultry by about a quarter, or 50,000 illnesses a year.

“We are taking specific aim at making the poultry items that Americans most often purchase safer to eat,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Ashley Peterson of the National Chicken Council said the industry has already made improvements. She said poultry companies have been exploring options to reduce contamination, including

The standards come after a lengthy outbreak of salmonella illnesses linked to California chicken company Foster Farms, which sickened more than 600 people between March 2013 and July 2014. In 2013, USDA said inspectors at Foster Farms facilities had documented “fecal material on carcasses” along with poor sanitation.

Foster Farms took measures to improve its sanitation and screening, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says the company’s products have less than 5 percent salmonella.

chicken.thingies.raw.cookVilsack said the Foster Farms outbreaks led the department to realize it needed to be more focused on reducing salmonella in chicken parts. The department already had standards in place for whole carcasses, but not individual parts like breasts and wings. The new proposal would cover the parts, which the USDA says is about 80 percent of chicken available for purchase.

USDA also would make public which companies are meeting the standards or going beyond them, and which companies have more work to do, giving companies more incentive to comply.

The secretary said companies should realize that complying is good business. “It’s in the long-term best interest of the market to have safer food,” Vilsack said.

“These new standards, as well as improved testing patterns, will have a major impact on public health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “The proposed changes are another way we’re working to meet the ever-changing food safety landscape and better protect Americans from foodborne illness.”

“Getting more germs out of the chicken and turkey we eat is an important step in protecting people from foodborne illness,” said Robert V. Tauxe, MD, deputy director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I look forward to seeing fewer Americans get sick as a result of these proposed changes.”

A pathogen reduction performance standard is the measure that FSIS uses to assess the food safety performance of facilities that prepare meat and poultry products. By making the standards for ground poultry tougher to meet, ground poultry products nationwide will have less contamination and therefore result in fewer foodborne illnesses. FSIS implemented performance standards for whole chickens in 1996 but has since learned that Salmonella levels increase as chicken is further processed into parts. Poultry parts like breasts, wings and others represent 80 percent of the chicken available for Americans to purchase. By creating a standard for chicken parts, and by performing regulatory testing at a point closer to the final product, FSIS can greatly reduce consumer exposure to Salmonella and Campylobacter.

The federal register notice is available on FSIS’ website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/federal-register-notices.


chickenConsumer Federation of America today applauded the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for issuing the first ever performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter for raw poultry parts and updated standards for ground poultry.

“Pathogen rates on poultry parts and ground poultry are way too high,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America. “These standards are essential to protect consumers and help drive down rates of contamination in these products.”

FSIS’ performance standards related to poultry have historically focused only on poultry carcasses. While reducing contamination on the carcass is critical, this approach has failed to address contamination levels once the bird is cut up into parts or processed into ground poultry. FSIS’ own testing revealed high prevalence levels of contamination on raw chicken parts – 24.02% for Salmonella and 21.70% for Campylobacter.  FSIS’ previous standards for ground poultry only addressed Salmonella (and not Campylobacter) and were set at nearly 50% so that a plant could fail almost half of FSIS’ sampling set and still meet the standard.

FSIS’ previous approach also did not account for the way consumers’ poultry purchases have changed over the years. Consumers today are more likely to purchase poultry parts such as breasts, wings and thighs, or ground poultry, than they are to purchase whole birds.

 

(This is also satire) Terrorists threaten to attack UK by washing uncooked chicken

The terror threat level to the UK has been raised to the highest level since the Iraq war after suspicions grew that terrorists might have been reading all the recent articles about the deadly peril of washing uncooked chicken.

veryRawChickenIt is now known that washing raw chicken releases tiny water droplets filled with extreme poison into your kitchen, killing you and all your family instantly. Until this fact was established by government scientists, there was no explanation for the mysterious spate of deaths affecting everyone in the country who cooked chicken.

“Raw chicken washing-related deaths were running at approximately five million per year, in London alone,” explained chief government medical officer Brian Panic. “We’d always wondered why this might be, but no-one had ever put two and two together, despite the obvious presence of freshly washed chicken fillets near all the bodies.”

“The raw material isn’t a problem in itself, if safely handled until cooked right through,” (piping hot) he explained. “But the combination of uncooked poultry and washing has the potential to destroy civilization, and I’m not exaggerating.”

“Now this has become widely known, if would be simple for a terrorist organization, perhaps using chefs, to wash chicken in the major metropolitan centers, with potentially devastating effects.”

“This could be the most severe threat since terrorists learned to secretly not turn off their Kindles during take-off and landing.”

After a meeting of COBRA, the government’s emergency response and cookery committee, the military are guarding all airports close to branches of Tesco and Sainsbury’s and are monitoring suspects’ water usage for potential chicken-related spikes.

There was an unfortunate incident in Dunstable this morning when an armed response team shot dead a suspected sous-chef who turned out to be merely rinsing a nice piece of sea bass, but a government spokesman pointed out that this is the price of freedom.

Police are asking anyone with the smallest Campylobacter-contaminated nugget of information should come forward immediately for rapid grilling.

Thanks to my Scottish food safety friend for sending along this bit.

344 now sickened says CDC: Multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in backyard flocks

  • As of September 23, 2014, a total of 344 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 42 states and Puerto Rico.
  • campy.chicken31% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio.
  • 78% of ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.
  • Findings of multiple traceback investigations of live baby poultry from homes of ill persons have identified Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio as the source of chicks and ducklings. This is the same mail-order hatchery that has been associated with multiple outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in past years, including in 2012 and 2013.
  • CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory conducted antibiotic resistance testing on Salmonella isolates collected from 11 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis or Newport. Of the 11 isolates tested:
  • Two (18%) were drug resistant (defined as resistance to one or more antibiotics).
  • Nine (82%) were pansusceptible (susceptible to all antibiotics tested).
  • Mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others that sell or display chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers of these birds prior to selling them. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.
  • Read the advice to mail-order hatcheries and feed stores and others that sell or display live poultry.
  • Consumers who own live poultry should take steps to protect themselves:
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where these birds live and roam.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house.

Audits and inspections can suck: UK food watchdog admits chicken factory breached hygiene laws

Roy Stevenson was a senior quality controller for more than a decade at one of the UK’s largest poultry abattoirs, in Scunthorpe, until the end of 2012 when he was made redundant. Owned by the 2 Sisters group, the factory still supplies many leading supermarkets and fast-food chains. After the Guardian investigated this factory and others this year to understand why so much chicken across the industry was contaminated with Campylobacter, Stevenson decided to come forward. He wanted to explain what is was like when he worked there, and why there can be such a gap between what auditors see and what workers feel is the reality on the factory floor

FunkyChickenHiThe government’s food watchdog has been forced to admit that an initial inquiry which cleared one of the UK’s largest poultry processing plants of hygiene failings was misleading.

Instances of chickens being dropped on the floor then returned to the production line, documented by a Guardian investigation into failings in the poultry industry, constituted a “breach of the legislation”, the Food Standards Agency has now acknowledged.

Following the Guardian revelations at the site in Scunthorpe in July, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asked the FSA to investigate. It rated the factory as good and wrote to the shadow food and farming minister saying there was no evidence of any breaches of food hygiene legislation.

But in an embarrassing climbdown less than a month on, the FSA has written to Labour’s Huw Irranca-Davies admitting it was wrong. It has reviewed the Guardian’s undercover footage showing dirty birds from the floor being thrown back into food production and concluded there has been a serious breach. But it has not issued a penalty, saying the company has assured it the problem has been addressed.

The admission comes as fresh allegations of hygiene failings at the factory emerged, with three former employees making claims about dirty chickens contaminating the production line and attempts to manipulate inspections up to 2012.

Labour said the FSA admission and the new questions over safety raised serious questions about the poultry inspection system in the UK.

But now three workers who have been in charge of quality control at the factory in recent years have come forward claiming it was “an almost daily occurrence” for birds to fall on the floor and be put back into the food chain instead of being correctly disposed of as waste. The company initially denied any instances of this happening.

The sources also claimed that auditors were often hoodwinked, even when their visits were supposedly unannounced, as managers slowed production lines and cleaned up poor practice when they were present. One described his responsibility for ensuring production managers followed the company’s own rules on food hygiene and safety as “a war of attrition”.

chicken.wrap.campyThe three new sources were all employed as quality controllers until 2012 at the Scunthorpe site. Roy Stevenson was in charge of a team of quality assurance technicians and worked at the factory for more than a decade until being made redundant at the end of 2012.

“On the day of the audit, all the lines would be slowed to a minimum where it was pristine,” he claimed. “There would be no birds dropping on to the floor, an auditor would walk round and everything would look lovely, unlike any other day.”

Richard Lingard worked at the factory as a quality controller for a few weeks in 2012 before moving on because he said it was impossible to do the job correctly. A third former quality controller with several years’ experience at Scunthorpe in the recent past, who asked for anonymity, described being regularly undermined and bypassed when trying to enforce hygiene rules.

All three claimed birds fell on the floor regularly because the line speeds were too fast for workers to keep up, and they would then be recycled back into the food chain in breach of company policy. They allege that their efforts to stop this happening were undermined by production staff.

In response, 2 Sisters said audits could not be cheated and it had no way of knowing when unannounced ones would take place.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

Open letter to the FSA on the publication of Campylobacter survey results

Richard Lloyd of Which? a UK consumer organization, writes to the UK Food Standards Agency to say:

chicken.thermI am writing to express our grave concern about the proposal being put to the FSA Board to withhold information about the levels of the deadly food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter in supermarket chickens. Campylobacter is a major public health issue. 72,000 people were reported to have suffered Campylobacter food poisoning last year and it kills an estimated 100 people every year.

As you know, the main source for the bacteria is in raw chicken which is why the FSA decided to undertake testing across supermarkets, butchers and convenience stores and publish the results on a quarterly basis with information by retailer and processor.

The publication of the performance of each retailer is in the public interest. The FSA should not sit on this survey data which it initially intended to publish in full.

The FSA was set up because of concerns about commercial and political interference in decisions about food safety. It is with great regret that it has become necessary to remind you of your role to put consumers first, be independent and operate transparently.

At your board meeting today, I urge you to reject the proposal to withhold this information and instead to publish the results in full on a quarterly basis in order to provide consumers with this important information and help to drive up standards.

Salmonella Stanley outbreaks – a prompt to reevaluate existing food regulations

To the editor: In a recent Eurosurveillance issue, Kinross et al. [1] describe a cross-border outbreak of Salmonella Stanley in the European Union, which could be traced back to a contamination in the turkey production chain. The aetiological clone is mono-resistant to nalidixic acid and characterised by a novel pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) type. We agree with Kinross et al. that the exchange of molecular data has to be improved to speed up outbreak investigations. However, although control measures were adequate to contain the multistate outbreak, they were not sufficient to eradicate the new clone, seeing as two outbreaks that occurred in Germany 12 months and Austria 16 months later [2] were caused by kebab contaminated with the newly described Salmonella Stanley outbreak clone. Rather, there is a considerable risk that the clone will become endemic in the turkey or poultry production chain in Europe.

IOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAn an editorial on this outbreak report, Hugas and Beloeil from the European Food Safety Agency conclude: If sufficient information becomes available to reliably identify particular strains of public health significance, the inclusion of such strains as part of the EU-wide targets should be considered [3]. In Austria we are already observing rising infection rates with Salmonella Stanley, with nine documented human infections in 2010 versus 101 documented infections in 2013. Moreover, the problem of antibiotic resistance inherent to the Salmonella Stanley outbreak clone was not addressed in this editorial. During the recent outbreak in Austria, we isolated three strains from infected humans that had developed resistance even against third generation cephalosporins and gentamicin. All strains harboured a CTX-M-15 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase, rendering standard therapy regimens ineffective. To prevent further evolution and spread of Salmonella Stanley, countries must undertake every effort to eradicate this outbreak clone in the poultry production chain in Europe now.

Although European regulations have contributed substantially to reducing Salmonella infections, the recent Salmonella Stanley outbreaks should be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate existing regulations in view of efficient risk management and consistency. According to Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 [4], food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 [5] further specifies that Salmonella has to be absent in minced meat and meat preparations made from poultry meat. However, in 2011, Regulation 1086/2011 [6] set a food safety criterion for fresh poultry meat that unfortunately only covers Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium, leaving food inspectors in the difficult situation that safety criteria for meat preparations differ from those for raw meat. Further, in our opinion, Regulation 1086/2011 weakened the stricter standards originally intended by part E of Annex II to Regulation No 2160/2003 [7] specifying that fresh poultry meat may not be placed on the market for human consumption when contaminated with Salmonella.

Along with harmonisation and refinement of food safety criteria, inclusion of Salmonella Stanley in the community targets for the reduction of the prevalence of zoonoses and zoonotic agents should be implemented to efficiently support control measures. 

Eurosurvellance

B Springer, F Allerberger, C. Kornschober

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20818

Rob Mancini: new US standards for Campylobacter on poultry

Campylobacter spp. commonly infect a broad range of livestock species, pets and wild animals. In poultry they multiply in large numbers in the hindgut, principally in the caecae. A significant cause of enteritis in hymans is caused by Campylobacters and infected poultry are a potential reservoir of this zoonosis.1 It is generally assumed that Campylobacters contaminate poultry meat during processing, surviving throughout the food chain supply to constitute a risk to human health.

FunkyChickenHiThe reduction of C. jejuni in the food chain, particularly from chicken products, is a major strategy in controlling the disease caused by campylobacter spp. One approach to this goal is to prevent C. jejuni colonization of broiler chickens.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has, according to The Poultry Site, announced it will draft new safety standards for Campylobacter in poultry, in addition to the previously-announced timeline on Salmonella. These standards are expected to be ready by the end of September.

The Department took this step in response to an April letter from Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) that expressed concern over food safety standards and urged the Department of Agriculture to develop better standards that would significantly reduce the levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry.

Senator Feinstein commented: “Simply put, the levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken are too high. Secretary Vilsack made the right decision to accelerate the creation of strong standards for both pathogens.

Senator Durbin said: “I am pleased to hear that the USDA is taking proactive steps to address the risk of foodborne illness by establishing strong performance standards for poultry products, including poultry parts.

Commenting on the announcement, Senator Gillibrand added: “The U.S. has made little progress in reducing the rate of foodborne illnesses from Salmonella and Campylobacter over the past 10 years, and it is time to turn that track record around. I will continue to work with Secretary Vilsack and my colleagues in the Senate to improve food safety for American families.”

1. McMullin, P. A (2004) Pocket Guide to Poultry health and Disease. 5M Publishing, Sheffield.

2. Newell, D.G. and Fearnley, C. (2003) Sources of Campylobacter Colonization in Broiler Chickens.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. August vol. 69 no. 8 4343-4351

Rob Mancini, a MS graduate of Kansas State University, is a health inspector with the Manitoba Department of Health.