Candy porn: Do these images make you randy?

Simon Simpkins, a Pontefract, West Yorkshire, U.K. father of two, says he was buying Haribo MAOAM sour candies for his children when he noticed the ‘pornographic’ illustrations of limes, lemons and cherries romping with each other.

‘The lemon and lime are locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter.

‘The lime, whom I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid expression on his face.’

A spokesman for Haribo said the ‘fun’ packaging of the sweets was introduced in Germany 2002 and added: ‘This jovial MAOAM man is very popular with fans, both young and old.’

OK, we get it, listeria is everywhere; what are you going to do about it, Maple Leaf?

Early on in the Aug. 2008 outbreak of listeria that killed 22 Canadians, the manufacturer, Maple Leaf Foods, adopted the line that, listeria is everywhere.

CEO Micheal McCain said,

“All food plants and supermarkets have some amount of listeria.”

Yesterday, when Maple Leaf announced yet another recall of product – this time involving nine wiener products produced under the Hygrade, Shopsy’s and Maple Leaf brands produced at its plant in Hamilton, Ontario – the listeria is everywhere line was … everywhere.

Randy Huffman of Maple Leaf said in the company blog yesterday,

“Listeria is a common bacteria – it can be in virtually 100% of refrigerated food plants. It also exists at low levels in one out of every 200 ready-to-eat food products and even higher levels in many other foods we eat …

“This creates a real dilemma for us. I have to be frank with you. Nothing we can do – nothing anyone can do – will completely eliminate Listeria from the food supply. Listeria is found in about 0.5% of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products based upon best estimates from the USDA. This percentage means that one out of every 200 packages is likely to be positive. I know consumers might prefer that this number was zero, and food safety professionals certainly strive for this goal.”

I thought you were Randy, but if you’d rather be frank, sure. And this is a Canadian recall, you may want to explain what USDA is.

Both Huffman and Mansel Griffiths, professor in the food science department at the University of Guelph, invoked the consumer-wants-zero-risk although I’ve seen no evidence to back up this straw-person argument. Griffiths said,
“There’s no such thing as 100-per-cent safe foods, no matter what food we eat.”

No one asked for risk-free food; but consumers do expect that those in charge of whatever portion of the farm-to-fork food safety system take responsibility for their own actions. Me, I told the Toronto Star the risk is that the listeria contamination could have happened after processing, and people, especially kids, eat wieners out of the fridge without reheating.

Back to the issue: if listeria is everywhere, what should processors and retailers do about it?

• Warning labels. Pregnant women and other at-risk populations should be informed of listeria risks, using a variety of messages and a variety of media. The supermarket Publix places all of its deli-cut meats into a plastic bag that says:

“The Publix Deli is committed to the highest quality fresh cold cuts & cheeses???

Therefore we recommend all cold cuts are best if used within three days of purchase???

And all cheese items are best if used within four days of purchase”

• Make listeria testing data public.

• Market food safety efforts at retail.

Because listeria is everywhere.

Maple Leaf invents food safety

I blogged earlier today that any food company doing over $5 billion a year in sales should already have a food safety dude and, after at least 20 deaths, really shouldn’t be bragging.

It gets worse.

Maple Leaf Foods president and CEO Michael McCain said yesterday that by appointing a chief food safety officer,

"I think we’re the first in Canada and … possibly in North America to have that role inside a major food company.”


Jack-in-the-Box appointed a food safety officer after the 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Odwalla acted like it invented flash pasteurization after the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in cider in 1996. I could go on. Michael McCain, your knowledge of food safety sucks.

And rather than pontificating, at some point Mr. McCain will provide a full accounting of:

• who knew what when;??????

• warn pregnant women and others at risk from listeria in deli meats; and,??????

• make your listeria data public.

Maple Leaf hires food safety chief – shouldn’t they have had one already?

There’s an old saying about reformed smokers or drinkers or whatever … they’re the worst critics.

And they want everyone to share their religion.

Natural Selection Foods got food safety religion after the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 in spinach outbreak. Bill Marler recently said upon settling some lawsuits, “Special mention to Natural Selection Foods for its leadership role in preventing leafy green bacterial outbreaks.  All companies should strive for its standards.”

I disagree. There were 29 outbreaks on leafy greens before the 2006 spinach outbreak. Why didn’t Natural Selection pay attention before they got caught?

It’s an old tale. Now, after 20 confirmed deaths, and probably dozens more, Maple Leaf Foods is proclaiming they’ve hired a food safety dude.

I thought food safety would be a priority if a $5 billion company was selling food.

But I’m hopelessly naïve. Ask old girlfriends — or my wife.

Randy Huffman, formerly of the American Meat Institute, is going to be chief food safety dude for Maple Leaf Foods. Once he settles into his new post in Jan., maybe he can foster the food safety culture his boss, Michael McCain, claims to already have. And maybe he can address some outstanding issues, ones I wrote about back in Aug. 2008 when the enormity of the listeria outbreak in Canada was just emerging:

• who knew what when;

• warn pregnant women and others at risk from listeria in deli meats; and,

• make your listeria data public.

Here’s Randy, the meat science guy, on video.