Maybe it could be served piping hot; UK raw milk dispenser ‘contravenes food hygiene regulations’

A major London department store is giving consumers the chance to buy unpasteurised milk, despite the government food watchdog’s claim that the move is illegal on public health grounds.

Raw milk, is banned from mainstream sale in England, Scotland and Wales. Its distribution is so tightly regulated that supermarkets and mainstream retailers are not allowed to stock it, although it can be sold directly by producers.

But the growing number of raw milk devotees are now able to buy it fresh from a vending machine in Selfridges food hall in London’s west end.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the move was in contravention of food hygiene regulations designed to protect consumer health, and released a statement saying "discussions are still ongoing."

Raw milk dispensers are hugely popular on the continent, allowing customers to top up their own glass bottles. But the FSA says it may contain bacteria "such as salmonella and E coli that can cause illness."

It said it had informed Westminster City Council, which deals with the day-to-day enforcement of food safety and public health protection in its area, of the position and that it believed this had been passed on to Selfridges.

Selfridges said Westminster City Council knew it was selling the milk and claimed it had regulatory approval because the sales will be handled by a concession run by Longleys Farm, an established dairy farm.

The bottles carry a health warning demanded by the FSA that reads: "This organically produced raw milk has not been heat treated and may therefore contain organisms harmful to health."

Steve Hook of Longleys Farm, based in Hailsham, East Sussex, said he had been selling raw milk since 2007. "We pay fantastic attention to hygiene to ensure the strict bacteria tests conducted on the milk by the FSA are easily met."

Both Hook and Selfridges said they were not aware that they were doing anything wrong, and would keep selling the milk until they were officially ordered not to.

Load Australian fridges with food, not beer, and keep it cool

In 2004, I spoke at a conference in Gold Coast, Australia. I did a TV bit on Good Morning Australia, or whatever the equivalent was to the U.S. Good Morning America about food safety. The chef at the conference center was with me, and well-versed in food safety. He had a digital tip-sensitive thermometer in his front pocket, which I asked to borrow for the interview. One of the PR types said something like, you can’t go on TV and talk about using thermometers, we have enough trouble getting Australians to store food in the fridge, which is largely used for beer.

A survey by the New South Wales Food Authority found that some household fridges were twice as warm as they should be after groceries were transferred into them and they took four hours to return to a safe temperature.

The authority’s chief scientist, Lisa Szabo, said while most fridges operated well, overloading them with food or warm products increased the chance of micro-organisms growing, as did the age of the fridge and the condition of the seals.

Of the 57 fridges checked in the study, almost 23 per cent had an average temperature of more than 5 degrees. Almost 9 per cent had an average of more than 6 degrees. The highest average temperature for one fridge was 9.5 degrees.

Salmonella infections rise in the hotter months of the year (it’s summer there right now, and everyone, including Katie, is at the beach).

NSW Health statistics show 372 people had salmonella infections in both January and February this year, compared with 129 in June and 101 in July.

Last December 240 people had salmonellosis compared with 103 in June last year.

One fridge in the study was loaded with drinks at 1.20pm, raising the temperature from 3.5 degrees to 14.5 degrees, and it took until 5.40pm for the fridge to return to 5 degrees. The study found that ”although [loading or cleaning] is unavoidable, limiting the duration or frequency of opening the refrigerator can minimize its impact on temperature rises’.’

As fridges across the state are filled with prawns, ham, champagne, desserts and fruit for Christmas celebrations, the Primary Industries Minister, Steve Whan, reminded consumers to keep the fridge out of the danger zone – between 5 and 60 degrees.

The Dirt on Mold

When was the last time you opened your fridge and saw this- the mold monster?  Hopefully never, but if you have, you’ve probably experienced some sort of sickness related to eating the food from the fridge.  Mold grows from decomposing organic material, and in addition to a foul order and slime, mold is a great indicator of food going bad.  But food can be decidedly “bad” before the mold fully appears.

Unfortunately the busy life of student has led me to find the mold monster lurking in my fridge on more than one occasion.  CNNHealth gives some great advice to college students this week: “Don’t eat mold.”  Not only is it unappetizing, but molds can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems as well as produce mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can make you sick.

I’ve definitely never gone as far to intentionally consume mold.  I believe in labeling my leftovers with the date and smelling foods before eating them.  It’s not a foolproof way to avoid food-borne illness from moldy foods, but it’s better than eating leftovers blindly.

CNNHealth goes on to offer additional tips to enjoy a meal from the fridge: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends discarding moldy bread and baked goods, because of their porous texture.
Creamy dairy products like yogurt can easily spread mold and should be discarded. So
ft cheeses with high moisture content — including those that are shredded, sliced, or crumbled — can be contaminated with both mold and bacteria. So throw those away, experts advise.
Hard cheeses can be saved, as long as the mold is cut 1 inch around the spot. Because of the cheese’s hardness, the mold generally cannot penetrate deep into the product.

Mom taught me well, to throw away any bread with the slightest bit of mold, and to keep moldy hard cheese but to cut away the mold. (Within reason of course, I’m talking about cutting off a dime-sized piece of mold, not eating a furry piece of cheese.)  I also try to disinfect my fridge at least every six months.

What if the fridge doesn’t belong to you?  Office or community fridges can be hot spots for spoiled food and moldy surfaces.  The Pittsburg Post-Gazette cites a survey by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods which “found that 44 percent of office refrigerators are cleaned once a month and 22 percent are cleaned only once or twice a year.”

Clean out your fridge at home with a household kitchen cleaner – preferably something with bleach.  Institute a bi-weekly cleanup day for the office fridge.  These are two terrific ways to lower your risk of contracting a food-borne illness from fridge food.  You can also reference the USDA’s guide on moldy food when deciding what to trash or save.

Also, don’t forget to wash your hands after touching all that mold.

Fresh whole chicken leaking bacterial-infested blood onto fresh produce – this is how people get sick

This is my fridge. This is my fridge on Salmonella and Campylobacter. This is how cross-contamination occurs. This is why it is important to lower pathogen loads before foods enter the home or a food service kitchen. Because foods can be a mess.

I bought a whole, fresh chicken a couple of days ago, but got some cheap lamb in the discount bin (the best time to go to Dillion’s grocery in Manhattan, Kansas, is between 10 and 11 a.m., lotsa foods discounted) so it sat in the back of my fridge for two days.

After two days in the back of my fridge I noticed fresh chicken blood had dripped into both the produce and fresh fruit crispers. Who designs fridges, engineers? Those drawers should be on top.

That red spot in the picture, that’s Salmonella- and Campylobacter-laden blood; it was also throughout the crispers. Those apples are in the pie we’re having tonight – whole wheat pie crust, love it. The rest has been cooked or tossed, and a full cleansing took place.

But food safety’s so simple; sure, without the chicken blood everywhere.

And this is my pie.

What’s in your fridge? Smell from leftover food in unplugged fridge sends 7 to hospital, sickens 28

Ever had leftover food loitering in your fridge for so long it made you yack?

Anyone who has worked or lived in an area with a communal fridge has a tale of grossness. Amy’s mom recalled yesterday about a fridge in one of their rental units that had been left full of food and unplugged – apparently for some time. The chicken was particularly interesting.

Amy and I found some grossness when we moved into our current house which previously was a fraternity drinking house – although the turkey carcass in the driveway was the grossest.

In San Jose, California, an enterprising office worker discovered an unplugged fridge full of rotting food, so decided to move the food into a conference room while using two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess.

The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused 28 people to need treatment for vomiting and nausea.

Firefighters had to evacuate the AT&T building in downtown San Jose on Tuesday after the fumes led someone to call emergency services. A hazardous materials team was called in.

Authorities say the worker who cleaned the fridge didn’t need treatment — she can’t smell because of allergies.

Beware of falling mice!

The Birmingham Mail in England reported a couple weeks ago that half a dozen expired mice dropped to the floor next to diners at the food hall in a local Selfridges department store.

The rodents were victims of pest contol measures carried out after mice droppings were spotted in a back-of-house area during regular checks.

caterersearch, who reported the story today, says the mice fell out of the ventilation system.

The surprised diners were refunded and the company apologized in a statement for any distress caused by the fallen mice.

Pest control personnel were called out to clear away the remaining mice.

Additionally, a spokesman explained,

“Environmental health officers were called in to make sure the matter was dealt with and doesn’t happen again.

“At their recommendation we have now identified areas the mice may have been coming in and had those blocked off.”

The spokesman added there had been no more incidents and the food hall was open as usual as soon as these steps were taken.