Acuff speaks, over and over and over (because it’s on video at***

Dr. Gary Acuff game a seminar at Kansas State University on Nov. 9, 2010, entitled, The End Game: What is Really Achievable in Pathogen Reduction.

The slides for Acuff’s talk are available at:

The video is available at:

Or under the video section on the front page of

Texas A&M University announced last month that Acuff was going to become director for the Center for Food Safety, and will lead expanded food safety efforts.

Prior to his appointment as Director of the Center for Food Safety, Acuff served as interim head and then head of the department of animal science from 2004 to 2010. And before that he taught undergraduate and graduate level courses and laboratories in food microbiology for 20 years and conducted research on the microbiological quality and safety of foods through his appointment with Texas AgriLife Research.

A past-president of the International Association of Food Protection, Acuff currently is chairman of a 10-member committee for the National Research Council, which evaluates food safety requirements for the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program.

Will restaurant grades in New York mean fewer people barfing?

With any restaurant inspection disclosure system, one of the overriding objectives is a measurable reduction in foodborne illnesses. The question is: does putting an A on the front of a restaurant mean fewer people barf?

WNYC reports this morning that a 2003 study by two economists found that after letter grades were introduced in Los Angeles, there was a 20 per cent decline in hospital admissions for foodborne illness.

In the world of public health, that was a dramatic result. Yet this study is the only academic work to date that shows a connection between restaurant letter grades and rates of foodborne illness.

There’s a reason there’s only been one such paper: causation is not the same as correlation.

Katie Filion (left, pretty much as shown) gave a departmental seminar this morning – we’re both in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the veterinary college at Kansas State University — critiquing the paper and presenting some results from her year in New Zealand developing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system.

Filion said there was no accounting for different sources of, say, salmonella (pets cause it too), no accounting for whether food was contaminated at home, in the field or in a restaurant, and no accounting for statistical validity. There may have been a reduction of hospital admissions once inspection scores were posted, but that could have been due to increased awareness, a correlation of interest, but not causation.

A philosophy of transparency and openness underlies the efforts of many local health units across North America in seeking to make available the results of restaurant inspections. Such public displays of information may help bolster overall awareness of food safety amongst staff and the public — people routinely talk about this stuff. It’s all about that food safety culture.

The New Zealand stuff? Katie can talk about that after she defends her thesis.

Show me the grade: Restaurant food safety ratings and consumer confidence

Katie Filion will be giving a departmental seminar this afternoon about restaurant inspection disclosure systems, research needs, and how to make them better. Katie’s been accepted into graduate school at Kansas State beginning in May 2009, and is working in my lab until then.

For those in Manhattan (Kansas), Katie’s talk is at 3:30 p.m. in the Practice Management Center, 4th Floor, Trotter Hall, Kansas State University. The slides Katie will be using are available below. me the score – Feb 2009.ppt