Air kissing or ‘la bise’ discouraged in France because of H1N1 flu

It was so confusing when I was in France: do you kiss anyone on the cheek or just friends; two pecks or three (the further south, the greater the frequency of the tri-peck). I usually defaulted to a handshake, but after a fabulous lunch with tons of great wine at a chateau near Bordeaux where I had unlimited Internet access for the first time in two weeks, I gave the dude a bi-peck at the train station – we had just met, and he was a little taken aback (that’s me and the dude at a wedding in Montreal a couple of months later 2007, right, below; look at that suit).

Now, according to  Associated Press, the French tradition of "la bise," the cheek-to-cheek peck that the French use to say hello or goodbye, has come under pressure from a globalized threat: swine flu.

Some French schools, companies and a Health Ministry hotline are telling students and employees to avoid the social ritual out of fear the pandemic could make it the kiss of death, or at least illness, as winter approaches.

For kids in two schools in the town of Guilvinec, in France’s western Brittany region, the first lesson of the year came from local officials: no more cheek kisses to teachers or other students.

The national government isn’t calling for a ban. But the Health Ministry, on its swine flu phone hotline, recommends that people avoid "close contact — including shaking hands and giving the bise."

Dairy-free brownies and other sacrifices

It has been almost three months now that my diet has been more or less dairy free. Shortly after Sorenne turned two months old, she became plagued with eczema. Her pediatrician never recommended I change my diet, as he was satisfied that she continued to gain weight, but I couldn’t stand watching her turn red and try to scratch herself with little hands that she could barely control. A friend of mine, and many articles I read, suggested cutting dairy. My first reaction was – that will be the end of nursing. I am a cheese addict, I love butter, and really, dairy is one of my main sources of protein. Soy is fine – but giving up cheese? How cruel can life be?

I eventually decided that cutting dairy for a couple of days would not kill me, and Sorenne did seem to get a little better. But Doug and I were really not sure if it was the dairy or any number of other variables in our daily life that could be affecting her. I had changed detergents and soaps and made sure she wore only 100% cotton material in the meantime.

The first two weeks of avoiding dairy were very difficult. Giving up cheesecake was almost painful, but I eventually found substitutes and cheated a little here and there when necessary. Sorenne had flare ups that I attributed to a dairy allergy, but we really have no way of knowing for sure. Sorenne doesn’t complain – neither does Doug – and I brought this challenge entirely on myself. After I discovered tofutti cream cheese and (yes it’s gross) veggie cheddar, quitting milk no longer seemed like such a big deal. I noticed I’m generally less gassy (pleasant for everyone around me) and Sorenne vomits significantly less.

For the past week Sorenne’s skin has been almost entirely clear. Today, while contemplating the dairy-free brownies I was about to make, I realized that living dairy free is a challenge I enjoy. I still salivate thinking about Roquefort, but I lived without most of my favorite cheese throughout my pregnancy due to the risk of listeria. (At least now I can eat pâté without much worry.) Finding substitutes has been somewhat enjoyable with some pleasant side effects. For those who cannot enjoy dairy due to serious allergies or lactose intolerance, the diet may feel more like a burden. Worse yet, it’s scary to not know if an allergen has contaminated your food when you’ve been careful to protect yourself or your child. I’m fortunate to have a choice and a knowledgeable partner tolerant of my neurotic parenting.

The story was so good, we made it into an infosheet

Last week a few subscribers emailed us a story about inappropriate acts in a St. John’s, NFLD Dairy Queen.   Seems that while managers weren’t around staff were mooning, grabbing their body parts and then going back to food handling without washing up.  Sounded like a perfect infosheet to us, so here it is.

If you have any stories that you think need infosheet attention, please send them on to

After baring your butt at Dairy Queen, ” Oh man, you gotta wipe that now”

Would you like fries with that, as the employee drops his pants and bares his bottom outside the takeout window.

That’s apparently in a video from a St. John’s, Canada, Dairy Queen franchise.

"Oh man, you gotta wipe that now," a co-worker advises him, apparently in vain. The employee continues about his work, without — at least immediately — washing his hands.

CBC News reports that the video also shows a snowball fight behind the counter, where food orders are prepared and served. Christmas decorations are visible in the video.

Messages posted by former and current employees also made comments about the questionable handling of food at the restaurant.

Franchise owner Albert Buott was quoted as saying, "Good God almighty. Where’s my managers? Who’s allowing this to happen?"

A provincial food inspection official said dropping one’s pants behind a restaurant counter is a health-code violation.

Two dead from listeria in Massachusetts

State health officials warned consumers not to drink milk products from Whittier Farms in Shrewsbury, Mass. after two people died after consuming products contaminated with listeria bacteria.

The Department of Public Health has identified four cases of the listerioris. 2 of the victims have died. The cases occurred in June, October and two in November. The four cases involved three elderly residents and a pregnant woman from Worcester county.

DNA fingerprinting conducted by the State Laboratory Institute showed that the bacteria causing these infections came from a common source.

Whittier Farms has agreed to suspend operations and distribution until a source of contamination is identified.

Brand names produced at Whittier Dairy include Whittier, Schultz, Balance Rock, Spring Brook, and Maple.

Dairy Queen has repeat violations is reporting that a Dairy Queen in Daytona Beach was  fined $900 for repeated problems such as untrained employees handling food and foods held at dangerous temperatures.

Based on a review of thousands of health inspections in 12 cities, Dairy Queen has one of the worst records in the fast food industry, often with critical violations that have not been corrected since the last inspection.  The chain has one of the worst records in fast food for repeating the same health code violation time and again.

Employee hygiene is the number one problem at DQ – accounting for 22% of the chain’s violations. Hygiene includes everything from workers not washing their hands to employees found eating and drinking in the kitchen.
Near Denver, for example, an inspector watched an employee "wipe nose, take money," and continue to prepare food without washing.

“The Lord takes care of us”

The York Daily Record in Pennsylvania reported Sunday that Stump Acres Dairy has stopped giving away raw milk after some customers became sick and were diagnosed with salmonella this month, marking the third time this year that the North Codorus Township dairy has stopped selling or giving away raw milk because of customers becoming ill.

In April when the dairy suspended raw milk sales for the second time in a month under the advice of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which warned that the milk might be associated with a case of gastrointestinal illness, co-owner Glendora Stump was quoted as telling the York Dispatch, "The Lord takes care of us. I’m not afraid to sell my milk. I know it’s not what they think it is."

Yesterday however, Terry Stump, the son of the dairy owner, was cited as saying Stump Acres hasn’t sold raw milk for about two months, but the dairy has given it away to people who ask for it, adding, "We will not be giving it away. Nobody wants to see anybody getting sick."