Is it in the sauce? Single pork product responsible for 23 per cent of USDA salmonella-positives

 Pork barbecue with vinegar and pepper-based sauce is the source of 23 per cent of salmonella-positive samples the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviewed from 2005 to 2010. The contamination has not caused any known illnesses.

Exactly what part of the dish is contaminating it with salmonella isn’t clear. FSIS notes that it “may have come from the addition of contaminated ingredients (such as the pepper) to the sauce, or from cross-contamination of the product or sauce in the post lethality processing environment.”

During processing of these products, the pork was cooked first, and the barbecue sauce was added after the cooking step. The lack of a lethality treatment for the sauce or its ingredients could result in contamination of the final product. reports inspectors were told to plan an awareness meeting on the subject, and to ensure that the plants they inspect have a HACCP plan that enables them to determine whether the establishment had a way of evaluating the safety of the ingredients added after the lethality step.

Top Chef: Medium-rare lamb is 140F and soy sauce is the secret ingredient in perfect gravy

Jennifer and daughter Ingrid brought the lamb, I did the cooking, and Amy’s mom flew in from Vegas. Another Thursday night in Manhattan (Kansas).

What better occasion to try out alleged perfect gravy that scientists with the U.K. Royal Society of Chemistry have determined contains drippings from a roast on a bed of halved onions, carrots and celery and the left-over water from boiled cabbage.

Add salt, pepper and a sprinkling of flour to thicken and …  a touch of soy sauce.

Dr John Emsley, a chemical scientist, says soy sauce should be used in place of traditional gravy browning because monosodium glutamate from the soy sauce brings out the meaty flavour.

A spokesman for the society said:

“Chemistry and cooking are basically the same thing. Both need to have the correct formula, equipment and procedures. Just think of Heston Blumenthal.”

Eww. Blumenthal makes me think norovirus and barf.

And I didn’t take pictures of Thursday’s dinner, but Top Chef on Wed. night also struggled with lamb, and none of the hot-shot chefs could agree on how to define medium-rare lamb.

Chef Kevin (left):

“We’re having temperature issues with the lamb. What I think of as medium-rare, is apparently what she thinks of as rare. I don’t know who’s right or wrong, I don’t know if there is anyone who is right or wrong.”

The judges knew:

“This was seared raw lamb that was horrible.”

“Severely underdone.”

“Center was like jello.”

“A little too bloody.”

The lamb shoulder roast we had last night was cooked to 140F. There’s even a chart on the Internet that says medium-rare lamb is 140F. I have no idea where the numbers on the chart came from, but it seems about right.

Genius chefs and judges: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

The gravy was delicious.

Australia: Tables restaurant find $19,000 for deadly asparagus; widow says, ‘we’ve had enough’

A fancy restaurant that served a man deadly asparagus sauce has been fined $19,000 – a fraction of the maximum penalty available under the Food Standards Act.

William Hodgins, 81, died of a ruptured stomach about 12 hours after taking his wife to the award-winning Tables Restaurant at Pymble, in January 2007.

Food Authority spokesman Alan Valvasori said legal advice was that it did not have enough evidence for a charge such as manslaughter.

A coronial inquest heard Mr Hodgins dined on snapper covered in a creamy asparagus sauce that had bacteria spores at 10 times the toxic level.

The maximum penalty under the Act is $275,000.

Mr Hodgins’ widow, Audrey, said the family had decided not to proceed with further legal action.

"We’ve had enough."

What does Obama eat?

In a fantastic combination of celebrity and food porn, the Globe and Mail reports on U.S. President-elect Obama’s favorite foods — sort of.

There was a lot of guessing that went into this hard-hitting investigative journalism:

Early last year, when the Obamas said pizza from Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Chicago was their favourite, co-owner Patti Harris-Tubbs says people called her up to say, "I’ll have whatever Obama likes." But Ms. Harris-Tubbs isn’t sure which pie that is.

"Our most popular is cheese and sausage," she tells them. "I guess I would have to go with that."

Eddie Gehman Kohan, the Los Angeles freelance writer behind the Obama Foodorama blog, says she doesn’t know, either.

She points to a New York Times interview with Reggie Love, Mr. Obama’s right-hand man, who was quoted as saying the boss’s favourite foods are Dentyne Ice, Nicorette, pistachios and MET-Rx chocolate-roasted peanut protein bars.

"Part of the fascination with food is trying to pinpoint who is he? How can we define him, how can we understand him?" Ms. Gehman Kohan says.

One thing the food paparazzi does know is that Obama likes his hot sauce. Ms. Gehman Kohan was cited as saying, "He puts it on everything, he carries a bottle with him.He’s shown he can handle the heat. At least so far."

Here’s a nice clip of food critic Barack from a 2001 local TV food show in Chicago. 

Fish of the day sauce a killer

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that coroner Jane Culver has found that a Sydney restaurant served asparagus sauce contaminated with bacteria in January last year, leading to the death of William Hodgkins, 81, because of slack procedures in its handling of the sauce.

The sauce, which was served with the fish of the day at Tables restaurant in Pymble on January 12, 2007, had 9.8 million colony-producing units of Bacillus cereus per gram.

Ms Culver said the sauce was made at 3pm the day before, on January 11, and refrigerated. It was taken out of the refrigerator on January 12 but not discarded after four hours of use. Four hours is the recommended amount of time for the sauce to be used after being refrigerated, Ms Culver said.

Instead of being thrown out, it was placed in a coolroom so that it could be used for serving meals.

Ms Culver said the container for the sauce had no label showing when it was made or when it should be discarded.