‘Safest food in the world’ UConn edition

A quintessentially urban lawmaker who admits she knew virtually nothing about agriculture when she was first elected to Congress, Rosa DeLauro has, according to World News Report, become a national voice for food safety and food production reform.

what.is.safe.food.09During her more than two decades in office, DeLauro has castigated federal officials for inaction on contaminated cucumbers and ground chicken, criticized hog inspection rules and aimed her laser critiques at the over-use of antibiotics in beef, poultry and pigs. Her demands for reform include creation of a federal “super agency” to oversee both food production and food safety.

Now, however, some small farmers in Connecticut worry that DeLauro’s push for more and tougher federal controls over agriculture and food may have gone too far, and that the cost of reforms she’s helped pass could push them right out of business — a claim DeLauro flatly denies.

At 73, DeLauro’s voice still vibrates with urgency when she talks about the need to improve food safety. “We’re talking about people’s lives,” she said. “Three thousand people every year die in the U.S. from food-borne illnesses.”

Michael Darre, a professor in the University of Connecticut’s animal sciences department and one of the school’s top poultry experts, believes DeLauro goes too far in her demands for agricultural reform, adding “I don’t agree that we need to have a single super agency.” Darre agrees that improvements should be made in the federal system, but adds: “We have the safest food in the world.”

Dumb rules: EU sets out post-horsemeat food standards

EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg said May 6, 2013, the European political environment needs to loosen its ties on the agri-food sector, if is to be competitive in the future, while simultaneously creating a farm-to-fork food safety revolution to curb future horse-heads-in-bed-burgers incidents.

Speaking in Brussels, Borg announced the terms of the commission’s proposals on what is termed “smarter rules for safer food.”  The package of legislative borat.bathing.suitproposals covers a series of topics, such as labeling and food chain safety. The message is the same as that touted out during the recent horsemeat scandal; that European food sources are impeccable – it is labelling fraud that undermines consumer confidence.

EU types may want to check out those suppliers.

Also, health head Borg earned himself a spot in the barfblog.com we-have-the-safest-food-in-the-world hall of shame by stating, Europe has the highest food safety standards in the world.”

There’s little evidence anyone is following those standards, as shown by horsehead Europa.

The European Commission itself proclaimed in writing the package it has adopted “provides a modernized and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain.

“The package responds to the call for better simplification of legislation and smarter regulation thus reducing administrative burden for operators and simplifying the regulatory environment. Special consideration is given to the impact of this legislation on SMEs and micro enterprises which are exempted from the most costly and burdensome elements in the legislation.”

These people can’t write a clear press release, how can they be expected to write clear legislation?

 “In a nutshell, the package aims to provide smarter rules for safer food.”

No one actually writes, in a nutshell” and it sounds creepy when someone says it. No one thinks these rules are smarter just because Borg says they are. And when EU.simply.food.safe.regsrepeatedly talking about a package, I’m thinking Borat’s bathing suit.

The package will introduce a single piece of legislation to regulate animal health in the EU based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure.”

Don’t write with dick fingers; it’s unbefitting such a moral and scientific authority as the EU.

If passed by EU member governments and the European Parliament, the proposed revamp, boiling down existing legislation and sharpening testing regimes, will introduce:

— financial penalties directly related to profits from “fraud”;

— and mandatory spot-check testing, as opposed to the power only to recommend inspections, as now.

But the changes will not affect, in the main, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or micro-businesses, a large part of the post-industrial food chain.

Neither will stipulations governing the important seed sector be applied to godfather_horse“private gardeners,” who will still be able to buy seeds “in small quantities” on open markets.

That should doom any efforts to control raw sprout safety. After 53 deaths and 4,400 illnesses from E. coli contaminated sprouts in 2011, maybe the Eurocrats sould focus on the entire food system, not just the political expediency of big ag.

Safest restaurant in the city of Harrisburg (PA)?

It might look good today, but by cleaning up is the Aramark-managed Capitol cafeteria the “safest restaurant in the city of Harrisburg”?

PennLive.com reports that after being closed by Pennsylvania officials on December 17th following an inspection that revealed rodent droppings, underheated dishwashing water and poor food handling procedures, Capitol is trying to clean up their image. Bruce Walton, vice president for operations of Aramark was cited as saying that prior to the closing, more than 1,500 customers ate at the Capitol cafeteria on busy weekdays and that rebuilding that steady clientele will take time.

After a thorough clean-up, a new pest control program with Ecolab and contracting with a company to provide surprise audits, Aramark district manager Andre Obendorfer was quoted as saying “This is the safest restaurant to eat in in the city of Harrisburg.”

Ah, the safest food/safest restaurant comment; impossible to back-up with evidence and leaves everyone who eats there with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Walton, by not disclosing any firings or discipline, downplayed what might be the most important change — personnel. He was quoted as saying that they “did make changes in our team.” Rodent control and a cold dishwasher can lead to public health issues, but other violations found on December 17th including indirect cross-contamination (handling potentially contaminated equipment and then going to clean equipment, possibly leaving pathogens for the next person) and not having paper towels, demonstrate a lack of a food safety culture. A personnel and management issue.

Food safety culture is a set of values wherein food safety risks are openly identified, discussed, and addressed. What this means is that anyone who works there — from manager to dishwasher — knows that paper towels can reduce risks so they refill the dispenser. Food safety is supported from the organization but it’s the front-line folks who hold the health of patrons in their hands. An organization like Aramark needs to be building the food safety culture capacity behind the scenes, not just touting how clean everything looks now.

To assure patrons of their commitment to food safety, the article reports that Aramark will have staff on site to answer questions, use guest chefs and in the most bizarre step, revamp cafeteria stations such as turning the pizza station into an “Italian zone.” I guess visitors to the Capitol Complex have the perception that Italian food is safer than pizza?