Going public Italian style: I tell you but you tell I sue

As Americans grapple with the public health implications about going public either too early or too late, the Italians have added an unique variation: a company issued a public warning, then prohibited people from speaking or writing about it.

A food safety friend based in Italy who has followed the machinations of Taco-Restaurant-A-Bell and a recent salmonella outbreak, noted that going public with a food safety recall is an exception in Italy. Companies have plans for disseminating information to the public in their recall procedures, but are reluctant to put them into practice. National authorities don’t insist on much. A recall for foreign bodies is also exceptional as officials don’t mind foreign bodies much. What is typically Italian is the threatening message at the end: we tell the public because we have to, but we will sue you if you talk about it to anyone, or you link to our page.

The press release, translated from Italian, says, “Leaf Italia informs its consumers of the possible presence of foreign bodies inside some boxes of chocolate pralines "Sperlari Granperle plain chocolate with crushed nougat" gr. 160 which belong only to production lots L11284 – L11285 – L11287 – L11294 – L11296 – L11300 as indicated on the package.

“As a precautionary measure, it is therefore recommended not to consume the product in the image and to call the toll free number 800829008 for more information.

“This information is owned by LEAF. The information is intended for exclusive use for the purposes covered by this statement and any different use must be authorized in writing by LEAF: in the absence of such authorization, any dissemination and reproduction is forbidden."

Denny’s downgraded but will stigma affect sales?

Denny’s is like the Taco Bell of breakfast: no matter how much foodborne illness is sourced to Taco-Restaurant-A-Bell or Denny’s, people continue to scarf down these cheap sources of calories.

Stigma or stupidity, it doesn’t faze the boss.

Add Jimmy John’s sprout sandwiches to the impervious to stigma list.

The Cibola Beacon reports the New Mexico state Environment Department has downgraded Denny’s Restaurant for repeated food safety violations and posted an “unsatisfactory” grade emblem was posted at each of the facility’s entrances.

The Feb. 7 regular visit report listed six violations, two high-risk and four low-risk, which required a follow-up inspection.

A Feb. 15 follow-up inspection found, “hand-wash sinks filthy, inconsistent and minimal hand-washing observed, food-film covering all non-food contact surfaces including equipment handles, microwaves, doors and handles of walk-ins.”

Lewis Black on Taco Bell meat

Taco Bell behaved poorly during an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2006 that was linked to lettuce.

Who knows what’s in the meat. 12 per cent is a secret. Lewis Black explains on last night’s Daily Show.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Meat Edition
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

Taco Bell implicated in two salmonella outbreaks sickening more than 150

The always colorful and geographically precise, Bill Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health, told The Oregonian yesterday that mystery Mexican-style fast food chain restaurant A is Taco Bell.

"It’s been clear for weeks that Taco Bell was the source for many of the illnesses. It’s equally clear that it’s not all Taco Bell. It’s also not a single Taco Bell restaurant."

The first cases appeared at the beginning of April and continued through the third week in July. Dozens were sickened in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, with a sprinkling of cases across the rest of the country. One person in Oregon — a woman in her 20s in Klamath County — got sick.

Keene said,

"It’s very striking to have two such similar outbreaks at roughly the same time and both of them affecting Taco Bell. The similarities might be a coincidence."

Although no one food or menu item has been named a culprit, Keene said epidemiologists think that lettuce, tomatoes or both were to blame.

"It’s not 100 percent sure it’s one or the other but those are the chief suspects," he said. "We’ve been unable to tease them apart because everyone eats both."

Keene said the food involved in the outbreaks was clearly contaminated before reaching Taco Bell franchises.

"It’s not something that they’re doing wrong. One of the products that they using in their food was contaminated."

The company did not return a phone call seeking comment.

CDC officials would not confirm that the company involved in the outbreaks was Taco Bell.

Naming a restaurant could have an economic impact on the company’s bottom line, said Kristen Nordlund, an agency spokeswoman.

The outbreak is also considered to be over though both the FDA and CDC are continuing to investigate.

"There’s no inherent reason for people to stop eating at Taco Bell now," Keene said.

Runs from the border: Taco Bell is mystery Mexican-style restaurant chain ‘A’ 155 sick across US since April

"I’m about to have the worst case of taco sh**s."?

That prophetic line offered by Clarissa before engaging in a good-natured game of "Battlesh**s" with Christy in the movie, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, has been experienced by some of the 155 sick with salmonella who ate at a Taco Bell since April.

Earlier today, Phyllis Entis of eFoodAlert.com received independent confirmation that Mystery Mexican-style restaurant A was indeed Taco Bell.

In Dec. 2006, in the wake of the E. coli O157:H7 in spinach mess that killed four and sickened 200, Taco Bell became the butt of endless haranguing by David Letterman after the same bug in lettuce sickened over 100 people (“Their old slogan used to be ‘think outside the bun.. The new slogan is, ‘look outside for the ambulance.’” See the video clip, below).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said yesterday that no specific food item have been fingered but fresh produce was suspected.

The spinach outbreak of Sept. 2006 was supposed to be the tipping point (although I have argued the tipping point for fresh produce should have been the 1996 E. coli O157:H7 in Odwalla juice outbreak): for farmers dealing with collapsed markets; for retailers who say they were now going to get serious about questioning their suppliers; and, for consumers who now realize that fresh produce is a significant source of foodborne illness and are voting with their wallets and their forks how can they know if the fresh stuff is safe??

The way this information trickles out does nothing to instill confidence, just like the salmonella outbreak and subsequent recalls in Fresh Express lettuce earlier this year. It’s nice that Taco Bell fully co-operated with CDC and other health types, but they can do better: brag about food safety requirements and back it up by making test results public, market food safety at retail so consumers can choose, and if people get sick from your product, be the first to tell the public.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are good for us; we should eat more, even at Taco Bell. Because fresh produce is just that – fresh, and not cooked — anything that comes into contact is a possible source of contamination. Every mouthful of fresh produce is an act of faith — faith in the growers, distributors, processors, retailers and our own hands.?

Some in the farm-to-fork food safety system want more of the same: stronger checks of good agricultural practices on the farm (which have been available but not necessarily followed or enforced since 1998); more research on how dangerous bugs get on or in healthy produce; more vague press releases.?

The American economy is driven by competition and the produce sector should compete for the food dollar in grocery stores and restaurants across the country, using safety as a selling point. The farmers or company that uses the best science to keep poop off the plate matched with employee commitment through a strong food safety culture, will capture the imagination of a hungry public..

May the best food safety system win.? The diarrhea twins from Harold and Kumar will be first in line.

Customer can’t get south of the border, shoots Taco Bell staff

It must suck to work in food service. Minimum wage, nerds like me telling staff to pay attention to food safety, and occasionally getting shot at by customers.

A man who was refused service around three in the morning by staff at Taco Bell on the outskirts of Miami waited outside in his white sports utility vehicle and when staff exited, he shot and wounded one female employee in the leg.

The victim was treated at a local hospital. Police are asking for help with their inquiry.

FDA chief focuses on produce safety

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the new chief of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said a couple of weeks ago she was going to focus on preventing contamination of fresh fruit and vegetables.

That’s good, because this year has brought a new crop of unrealistic expectations about the microbial safety of fresh produce, created primarily by the largest producer of fresh produce, California.

While the industry is busy blowing itself over the steps it finally took after the 29th outbreak involving leafy greens, a cone of silence has apparently fallen over any outbreak involving fresh produce. How hard is it to traceback lettuce? Apparently that depends on who wants to know the answer.

Meanwhile, a bunch of Taco Bell franchisees won damages from their insurance company over a 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak involving California bagged lettuce when the judge ruled that the lettuce should be considered an ingredient, which would be covered by the policy, instead of a product, which would not be covered.

The Onion, in this satirical-but-a-little-to-close-to-reality piece, has the perfect solution for Taco Bell.

Taco Bell’s New Green Menu Takes No Ingredients From Nature