Sticky Fingers: Oregon dismisses glove requirement for restaurant workers

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all show up at our first day of a new job as a 20-year-old and help create rock greatness – Honky Tonk Women.

Instead, most are told to wear gloves while participating in sandwich greatness something.
But in Oregon, they’ve decided to rethink the gloves thing.

Eatocracy reports that the no-bare-hands rule was originally supposed to go into effect on July 1, but Oregon public health officials delayed the decision because of public debate that these new safety rules were not actually safe.

The rule would have prohibited food handlers from contacting “exposed, ready-to-eat food” with their bare hands. Instead, any contact would have to be made with “suitable utensils,” including deli tissue, spatulas, tongs and single-use gloves.

Wednesday, regulators of Oregon’s Foodborne Illness Prevention Program announced that “…at this time, the ‘No Bare Hand Contact’ section of new food safety rules will not be adopted.”

Among the complaints raised by food experts: gloves give foodservice handlers a false sense of cleanliness, create more plastic waste (especially since plastic bags are banned in Oregon) and add a supplementary cost for restaurateurs.

Happy 50th birthday, Rolling Stones, especially the Taylor years.

Bad food safety reporting II: inconsistent and uncertain edition

NSF International issued the results of a survey involving 1,000 Americans that found consumers were inconsistent and uncertain about some food safety practices in the home.

That’s because food safety advice is inconsistent and uncertain. That’s normal. Food safety isn’t simple.

But this particular press release is inconsistent and uncertain within the press release.

The press release trumpeting the results states:

• Most Rewash Pre-Packaged Foods: Over half (60%) of consumers surveyed always re-wash pre-packaged fruits and vegetables (such as ready-to-eat salads), but it’s not necessary. Prepackage produce that is labeled as prewashed in a sealed container does not need to be rewashed.

The same press release subsequently states:

* Rewash Pre-packaged Foods: Consumers should always rewash pre-packaged produce that is in an open package or does not specifically state it is prewashed. Rewashing all pre-packaged produce is an additional precaution consumers can take to reduce the likelihood of consuming food contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Scientists have said the re-washing process is more likely to cross-contaminate the pre-washed greens with whatever crap was previously in a sink. The paper is in Food Protection Trends and available here.

The NSF study about inconsistent and incertain practices also contains a couple of other nosestretchers.

* Consumers Can Get Lazy When it Comes to Safe Hand Washing Practices: While 90% of consumers wash their hands after handling raw meat or poultry, a fifth (20%) of consumers aren’t using warm water and soap – which is considered the most effective combination when it comes to reducing exposure to bacteria that causes foodborne illness. Warm water may be helpful in removing grease and grime, it’s unnecessary for removing dangerous microorganisms. And 10 seconds is microbiologically sufficient.

“For example, consumers are taking great caution in the initial food preparation stages, as 78% of respondents knew the right way to defrost meat and poultry safely (such as defrosting in a refrigerator), but only 20% of them bother to use a meat thermometer to ensure food is properly cooked.”

Self-reported surveys of food safety practices are meaningless. Nowhere near 20 per cent of Americans use thermometers; it’s less than 1 per cent.

I won’t forget to put roses on your grave: Study says men exaggerate illness to gain sympathy

There are serious faults with studies based on self-reported surveys, but I’ve been around enough men to know that a new study which found nearly 50 per cent of men exaggerate minor ailments like cold symptoms to gain sympathy, is probably true.

I’ve driven all over North America with kids, babies and poop, but the worst bunch of cry-babies was when I drove to the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting in Atlanta in 1997 or somewhere thereabouts. The women in the van were fine, but the men were horrible crybabies who needed to stop more frequently than a breastfeeding baby. And you all know who you are.

The research led by Engage Mutual reveals that one in two men describe a common cold as flu and headaches as a migraine, and moan more than women. The study was carried out on 3,000 people.

The findings also revealed that women admit more than 57 percent of men become attention-seeking when ill, with 66 percent constantly moaning and groaning.

In contrast, men said that only 50 percent of women seek attention when they’re ill and 56 percent moan and groan.

As my favorite Stones song goes, take me down (high-school girlfriend) little Susie, while you’re talking to some rich-folks that you know. And is Mick Taylor not the best and most expressionless guitar player ever?

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, hot sauce and macaroni

It’s no secret I’m a Rolling Stones fan, especially of the inspired work between 1968 and 1972.

Every generation has their Stones knockoff band. In the 1970s it was Aerosmith. The 1980s brought the Black Crowes. Not sure what the recreations were in the later decades, but they exist.

Turns out Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is, at least according to the Baltimore Sun, a bit of a foodie.

Nightlife reporter Sam Sessa hung out with Perry for a while on his tour bus, and spent a lot of time talking about food.

“I had no idea he’s been a foodie for more than 35 years, and has his own line of hot sauces. He also told me he’s planning on launching his own brand of mac ‘n’ cheese in the near future, called Joe Perry’s Rock ‘n’ Roni.”

Does your own brand of mac ‘n’ cheese – or KD, as in Kraft Dinner  in Canadian-speak – make one a foodie?

Duck and Cover: It’s Food Safety Education Month

Watching the pronouncements and proclamations for Food Safety Education month makes me think about kids in the 1950s getting educated about nuclear bombs: Duck, Cover and Roll.

In the film, below, substitute foodborne illness for atomic bomb, and substitute consumers have a role, for duck, cover and roll.

In a month of foodborne illness, the signal of impending doom is not an air raid siren, but more likely explosive diarrhea; you might even be out playing when it comes.

The advice in Duck and Cover is as useful in protecting against radiation as the advice from various government, industry and advocacy types is in preventing foodborne illness.

The Journey effect; and why I don’t get invited for dinner

Amy and I don’t often get invited for dinner. I thought it was cause of my food safety geekness, but I now realize it could just be me.  On Tuesday I ended the meal at some friends’ house by breaking out my best Geddy Lee falsetto and recounting the Rush classic, Closer to the Heart.

It was part of our terrible bands nostalgia. Journey was at the top of my list (and they’re even back with a new Steve Perry sounding singer they found on youtube). I saw Journey once, opening for the Rolling Stones in Buffalo in 1981. They were terrible. But they made the Stones look even better when they finally took the stage. Ever since, I refer to the practice of surrounding oneself with dumbasses as the Journey effect – it makes you look better without trying.

I’ve also since learned there are a lot of hardcore Journey fans out there.

As I told Misti Crane of the Columbus Dispatch back in July, I try not to be a food safety jerk around other people. But, sure enough, the first e-mail Wednesday morning was from our dinner hosts, asking if our stomachs were stable.

Dinner was great. And I’ll stick to my 68-72 Stones.