Stick it in: Thermometer use

Temperature control prevents the rapid growth of foodborne pathogens during food storage and assures adequate heating to destroy pathogens prior to consumption. The use of thermometers is a recognized best practice among consumer and food worker guidelines; however, compliance with this recommendation is quite low.

Eighty-five studies from the past 21 years were reviewed and an analyzed for the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors associated with thermometer use and the motivators and barriers to cooking and refrigerator thermometer use among consumers and food workers. Barriers to thermometer were categorized into two major groups: ‘‘the belief that a thermometer is not necessary’’ and ‘‘the difficulty of selecting and using a thermometer.’’ Each group has its unique aspects. Four barriers were recognized in the ‘‘not necessary’’ group: (i) preference for alternative techniques, (ii) mainstream media and food professionals seldom serve as role models and often negate the need for food thermometers, (iii) limited awareness of potential health issues associated with current practices, and (iv) limited knowledge and awareness related to thermometer usage for specific food groups.

Six barriers were recognized in the ‘‘difficult to select and use’’ group: (i) difficulties in selecting the type of food thermometers, (ii) availability of food thermometers, (iii) lack of skills related to the usage of food thermometers, (iv) limited knowledge related to endpoint temperatures, (v) inability to calibrate food thermometers, and (vi) lack of knowledge about food thermometer cleaning and sanitation. These findings will facilitate the development and adoption of effective strategies to increase thermometer use and increase food safety education efficacy with a positive impact on public health.

Motivators and barriers to cooking and refrigerator thermometer use among consumers and food workers: A review.

Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 noi. 1 pg. 128-150

Yaohua Feng and Christine Bruhn

doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-245

http://www.jfoodprotection.org/doi/pdf/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-245

365 burgers in a year, how many were cooked to 160F?

I like hamburgers, not enough to eat an average of one a day though. According to the Los Angeles Times, that’s what restaurant investor Lawrence Longo did in 2018. Added difficulty, he did it at 365 different restaurants.

When asked to describe the perfect burger Longo responded:

Not too much going on. Bun-cheese-meat-bun. If you have the right meat, the right bun, the right ratio, you don’t need any ingredients on that burger. The juices on that burger are all you really need.

I’d add that it was cooked to 160F and verified with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

 

Food safety confessional: Tell us your stories

I did not create this idea, nor will take credit (unlike lawyers, the credit belongs to Michele and Josh, just like the barfblog name belongs to Christian) but will run with it, using the barfblog forum.

Food safety professionals, we all know everyone messes up.

As we say in therapy, everyone has problems, especially the ones who think they don’t.

So rather than say food safety is simple, we’ve always said it’s hard.

And to show we’re all human, we professionals should confess to our failings (and like therapy, no last names will be used and establishing relationships is discouraged, and no physical contact with the counselliors).

I’ll start, e-mail yours to me or Chapman and we’ll get it posted.

I got religious about using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer for cooking about 2000, in the same way a reformed cigarette smoker is against cigs.

I didn’t like the religion. But there were times I was grilling and didn’t have a thermometer.

Usually I just cooked the shit (literally) out of it.

But I know there were occasions where I undercooked stuff, because of time and drunk pressures.

I also know I have left stock on the counter for days, creating a wonderful colony of Staph. Usually I throw it out, but not always, because I’m still a struggling grad student at heart, and would never turn down anything that was free.

Look forward to hearing from youse.

Stick it in: Australians urged to buy accurate thermometers

Me and Ben, my hetero lifemate, broke up.

He was worried about a blog post I wrote, with university types to answer to, I  disagreed, so the barfblog.com is now totally mine.

It’s expensive for an unemployed ex-prof, but I understand.

Ben can still post when he likes, but it’s about 5 per cent of the content.

And the offending post will soon be up again, and if someone wants to sue, go ahead.

I know what happened.

Sometime in 2004 I went to the Gold Coast in Australia with my soon-to-be-stalker girlfriend.

I went on one of the morning shows, and was going to talk about the importance of thermometers, and the government food agency type said, you can’t do that, Australians just use their fridges to keep beer cold.

The chef at the restaurant we filmed the piece in had a tip-sensitive digital thermometer in his front pocket and said he wouldn’t cook without one.

Eighteen years later, the Australian government, as part of Food Safety Week – shouldn’t it be every day – has endorsed the use of thermometers, rather than the British standard of piping hot.

Testing by Choice has found a number of meat thermometers on sale in Australia were out by 2°C. Food Safety Information Council is urging people to pick up an accurate meat thermometer, using Choice’s survey as a buying guide, after their own research found 75% of Australians surveyed reported that there wasn’t a meat thermometer in their household and only 44% of those with a thermometer reported using is over the previous month.

Epitaph ‘He tried to improve the world, one thermometer at a time’

Soon after Sorenne started at Junction Park State School, I started volunteering in the tuck shop, prepping foods for a few hundred kids on Fridays.

I put in some time, but then politics overtook my food safety nerdiness so I stopped.

But not before I left about 10 Comark tip-sensitive digital thermometers and advised, use them frequently.

While cooking breakfast this morning for 120 school kids, I ran into my friend, Dave, who is currently running the tuck shop, and he told me the thermometers get a regular workout each week, he had to change some batteries last week, and he took one home for cooking.

Now imagine that a tip-sensitive digital thermometer could be used to harness user data (and sell product).

Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times writes that most of what we do — the websites we visit, the places we go, the TV shows we watch, the products we buy — has become fair game for advertisers. Now, thanks to internet-connected devices in the home like smart thermometers, ads we see may be determined by something even more personal: our health.

This flu season, Clorox paid to license information from Kinsa, a tech start-up that sells internet-connected thermometers that are a far cry from the kind once made with mercury and glass. The thermometers sync up with a smartphone app that allows consumers to track their fevers and symptoms, making it especially attractive to parents of young children.

The data showed Clorox which ZIP codes around the country had increases in fevers. The company then directed more ads to those areas, assuming that households there may be in the market for products like its disinfecting wipes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends disinfecting surfaces to help prevent the flu or its spread.

Kinsa, a San Francisco company that has raised about $29 million from venture capitalists like Kleiner Perkins since it was founded in 2012, says its thermometers are in more than 500,000 American households. It has promoted the usefulness of its “illness data,” which it says is aggregated and contains no identifying personal information before being passed along to other companies.

It is unique, Kinsa says, because it comes straight from someone’s household in real time. People don’t have to visit a doctor, search their symptoms on Google or post to Facebook about their fever for the company to know where a spike might be occurring.

“The challenge with Google search or social media or mining any of those applications is you’re taking a proxy signal — you’re taking someone talking about illness rather than actual illness,” said Inder Singh, the founder and chief executive of Kinsa. Search queries and social media can also be complicated by news coverage of flu season, he said, while data from the C.D.C. is often delayed and comes from hospitals and clinics rather than homes.

The so-called internet of things is becoming enmeshed in many households, bringing with it a new level of convenience along with growing concerns about privacy.

Clorox used that information to increase digital ad spending to sicker areas and pull back in places that were healthier. Consumer interactions with Clorox’s disinfectant ads increased by 22 percent with the data, according to a Kinsa Insights case study that tracked performance between November 2017 and March of this year. That number was arrived at by measuring the number of times an ad was clicked on, the amount of time a person spent with the ad and other undisclosed metrics, according to Vikram Sarma, senior director of marketing in Clorox’s cleaning division.

Being able to target ads in this way is a big shift from even seven years ago, when the onset of cold and cough season meant buying 12 weeks of national TV ads that “would be irrelevant for the majority of the population,” Mr. Sarma said. The flu ultimately reaches the whole country each year, but it typically breaks out heavily in one region first and then spreads slowly to others.

While social media offered new opportunities, there has been “a pretty big lag” between tweets about the flu or flulike symptoms and the aggregation of that data for marketers to use, he said.

“What this does is help us really target vulnerable populations where we have a clear signal about outbreaks,” Mr. Sarma said.

Imagine using similar for data for people cooking dinner tonight.

This is what we’re having (above, right; Chapman, about those thermometers?).

A short guide to food thermometers

Chapman still owes me food thermometers.

He says he’ll send them, he says he’ll come to Australia, but nothing.

And he’s supposed to be the co-author on my next book.

It’s so hard to get good help.

But I’ve recruited the best of the past and we’ll get something done if my brain hangs together.

Barbara Gordon of At Right writes that you can’t tell if a food is safely cooked by sight, smell or even taste. A food thermometer is the only way to ensure food is cooked to the proper temperature and harmful bacteria are eliminated.

(Tell that to the British Food Safety Agency and their piping hot directive).

A food thermometer is not needed just for meat and poultry. A safe minimum internal temperature must be reached to avoid food poisoning in all cooked foods. The “danger zone” for perishable foods is between 40° and 140° Fahrenheit. Perishable foods are no longer safe to eat if they have been in this danger zone for more than two hours (one hour in 90° Fahrenheit or above). A food thermometer also is needed after food is cooked to ensure the temperature doesn’t fall into the danger zone. This is especially important for buffet and potluck-style gatherings.

28 sick with E. coli O121 in Japan, because they like their burgers rare

The Mainichi – great newspaper name – reports a total of 28 people have suffered food poisoning after dining at MOS Burger restaurants in Tokyo and other locations in Japan, the operator and other sources said.

Twelve of the 28 were infected with the same O-121 strain of E. coli bacteria, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Friday.

Those affected had dined at 19 restaurants in eight prefectures in eastern and central Japan between Aug. 10 and 23, the operator, MOS Food Services Inc., said.

One of the restaurants in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, suspended operations for three days through last Wednesday following an order from a local public health office, the company said.

“It is highly likely that (the illness) was caused by foodstuffs supplied (to the restaurants) by the headquarters of the chain,” it said.

Always use a thermometer: 244 sickened by shiga toxin-producing E. coli at US Marine training base

In Nov. 2017, over 200 U.S. Marines-in-training were sickened by shiga-toxin producing E. coli at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Camp Pendleton.

That outbreak was blamed on undercooked beef prepared by a civilian contractor, according to the results of an investigation.

First rule of public health (substitute military or any other organization): make public health look good.

According to Healio, the outbreak occurred in October and November among newly enlisted men at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, and Camp Pendleton, a nearby base where recruits conduct weapons and field training, according to Amelia A. Keaton, MD, MS, EIS officer in the CDC’s Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch.

The outbreak involved Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC) — a major cause of foodborne illness in the United States each year and the pathogen responsible for the current multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce. In all, 244 male recruits are suspected of being sickened, including 15 who developed a life-threatening complication of STEC infections called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Among those who developed HUS, six were deemed critically ill but none died, Keaton told Infectious Disease News during the CDC’s annual EIS conference.

She said the outbreak presented several challenges for investigators and highlighted some unique risk factors among military trainees living in close quarters.

“Nobody on our team had a military background, so we first wanted to understand what their training environment is like,” Keaton said. “Do they have any unique exposures that people in the general public don’t have? We wanted to get a sense of what day-to-day life was like for these guys and what risk factors for infection they were exposed to.”

Keaton and colleagues interviewed 43 case patients and 135 healthy controls, plus Marine officers, food workers and staff. They observed food preparation practices and studied recruit sleeping quarters, bathroom facilities and cafeterias where meals were served to around 2,000 to 3,000 recruits at a time, Keaton said.

Although they were unable to directly test any meat, through interviews investigators found that ill recruits were 2.4 times likelier to report consuming undercooked beef than healthy controls. Moreover, Keaton said investigators directly observed beef being undercooked.

According to Keaton, most dining facilities on military bases are run by civilian contractors, including the facilities involved in this outbreak, which offered the same menu prepared by the same company. The Navy is in charge of inspecting such facilities once a month, she said.

“A lot of people reported eating meals that were visibly undercooked,” Keaton said. “When we observed food preparation, we saw that food workers were cooking a large number of hamburger patties and a large number of meals. Because such a large number of meals are being prepared, they’re only able to check foods intermittently with a meat thermometer. In some instances, we saw there were temperature abuses where they weren’t necessarily cooking to temperatures recommended by California state law.”

Raw is risky: Norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters rises to 126 in BC

In a follow-up on the norovirus outbreak linked to the consumption of British Columbia raw oysters, The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported that a total of 126 cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to oyster consumption have been reported in three provinces: British Columbia (92), Alberta (9), and Ontario (25). No deaths have been reported.

Ensure oysters are fully cooked before consuming them. Lightly cooking oysters does not kill norovirus. Oysters need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius (194° Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 90 seconds in order to kill norovirus.

30 sick from Salmonella linked to raw frozen chicken thingies in Canada

In an outbreak that begin May 2017 and continues, the Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting 30 cases of Salmonella Enteriditis between May 2017 and February 2018.

The news release came out last Thursday, two days, one day after the feds reminded Canadians on the importance of properly cooking such this.

Use a thermometer.

Currently, there are 30 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis illness in four provinces: Alberta (2), Ontario (17), Quebec (7), and New Brunswick (4). Four individuals have been hospitalized. Individuals became sick between May 2017 and February 2018. The average age of cases is 32 years, with ages ranging from 1 to 73 years. The majority of cases (57%) are male.

Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to poultry, including frozen raw breaded chicken products has been identified as a source of illness. Several individuals who became ill reported consuming a mix of poultry and frozen raw breaded chicken products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is conducting a food safety investigation into a source of the outbreak. At this time, there is no food recall warning associated with this outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing.

Frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned but they contain raw chicken and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products.

The safety of these products rests with the consumer who is expected to cook it, according to the directions on the package.

In 2015, industry voluntarily developed additional labelling on frozen raw breaded chicken products that included more prominent and consistent messaging, such as “raw,” “uncooked” or “must be cooked” as well as explicit instructions not to microwave the product and they voluntarily introduced adding cooking instructions on the inner-packaging bags.

Microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded poultry products including chicken nuggets, strips or burgers is not recommended because of uneven heating.

Use a digital food thermometer to verify that frozen raw breaded chicken products have reached at least 74°C (165°F). Insert the digital food thermometer through the side of the product, all the way to the middle. Oven-safe meat thermometers that are designed for testing whole poultry and roasts during cooking are not suitable for testing nuggets, strips or burgers.