Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will, according to Edvard Pettersson of Bloomberg, pay a $25 million criminal fine to resolve allegations by federal prosecutors that its food sickened more than 1,100 people across the U.S. from 2015 to 2018.
It’s the largest fine ever imposed in a food-safety case, according to a statement by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
The criminal charges pertain in part to norovirus outbreaks at Chipotle restaurants. The highly contagious virus can be transmitted by infected food workers handling ready-to-eat foods and their ingredients, according to the statement. It can cause severe symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramping.
“Chipotle failed to ensure that its employees both understood and complied with its food safety protocols, resulting in hundreds of customers across the country getting sick,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the statement announcing the deferred-prosecution agreement.
The Newport Beach, California-based company said that, as part of the agreement, it will its strengthen its food-safety polices and practices.
“This settlement represents an acknowledgment of how seriously Chipotle takes food safety every day and is an opportunity to definitively turn the page on past events and focus on serving our customers real food made with real ingredients that they can enjoy with confidence,” Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said in a statement.
Prosecutors alleged that four norovirus outbreaks were caused by employees showing up to work sick, in violation of company policy, and by food products being stored at the wrong temperatures.
A fifth outbreak — which sickened about 647 people in July 2018 who dined at a Chipotle in Ohio — was from Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium found in raw meat and poultry that is one of the most common types of foodborne illness in the U.S. People who get ill from it usually recover in 24 hours and it’s not contagious.
Managers at the company’s restaurants failed on a number of occasions to notify Chipotle’s safety group at its headquarters when an employee had been vomiting at work, according to prosecutors. Instead, the safety analysts would find out only after contacting the restaurant because it had received a complaint from a sick customer. As a result, there were days of delay before the restaurants were sanitized.
Food safety training is like psychotherapy: Sure, I understand the theory, the neural pathways, the addictive brain, but will that change my behavior (shurley not).
But there’s always hope – in place of well-designed studies that measure success, failure, and actual experiments with novel approaches. Most studies get tossed on the rhetorical pile of we-need-more-education crap.
Here’s the abstracts for two recent papers:
Effectiveness of food handler training and education interventions: A systematic review and analysis
Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 no. 10
Ian Young, Judy Greig, Barbara J. Wilhelm, and Lisa A. Waddell
Improper food handling among those working in retail and food service settings is a frequent contributor to foodborne illness outbreaks. Food safety training and education interventions are important strategies to improve the behaviors and behavioral precursors (e.g., knowledge and attitudes) of food handlers in these settings.
We conducted a comprehensive systematic review to identify, characterize, and synthesize global studies in this area to determine the overall effectiveness of these interventions. The review focused on experimental studies with an independent control group. Review methods included structured search strategy, relevance screening of identified abstracts, characterization of relevant articles, risk of bias assessment, data extraction, meta-analysis of intervention effectiveness for four outcome categories (attitudes, knowledge, behavior, and food premise inspection scores), and a quality of evidence assessment.
We identified 18 relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 29 nonrandomized trials. Among RCTs, 25 (64%) unique outcomes were rated as high risk of bias, primarily owing to concerns about outcome measurement methods, while 45 (98%) nonrandomized trial outcomes were rated as serious risk of bias, primarily because of concerns about confounding bias. High confidence was identified for the effect of training and education interventions to improve food handler knowledge outcomes in eight RCT studies (standardized mean difference = 0.92; 95% confidence interval: 0.03, 1.81; I2 = 86%). For all other outcomes, no significant effect was identified. In contrast, nonrandomized trials identified a statistically significant positive intervention effect for all outcome types, but confidence in these findings was very low due to possible confounding and other biases.
Results indicate that food safety training and education interventions are effective to improve food handler knowledge, but more evidence is needed on strategies to improve behavior change.
Gaps and common misconceptions in public’s food safety knowledge
Background: Incidence rates of some foodborne illnesses (FBIs) in BC still remain on the rise despite numerous initiatives to prevent FBIs. This rise over the years has been attributed to gaps in the public’s food-safety knowledge and practices. In order to decrease incidence rates and prevent future FBIs, efforts should be made to identify common misconceptions in the public’s food safety knowledge. With a focus on the Metro Vancouver population, common misconceptions in food safety were found and their knowledge level towards the misconceptions was analyzed.
Methods: An in-person survey was conducted in three locations in Metro Vancouver. The survey asked for demographics information, perceived food safety knowledge and food safety misconceptions. ANOVA and Independent Sample T-test were administered to analyze results.
Results: No statistically significant difference in food safety knowledge was found between groups by gender, age, and geographic region. The majority of participants rated their food safety knowledge as moderate but they demonstrated a poor knowledge level in food safety.
Conclusion: The public’s knowledge level should be improved to prevent further rises of FBIs. Initiatives involving the provincial Foodsafe certification program, secondary school curriculums and health authority websites can be utilized to educate the public.
The educational methods enlisted to facilitate food safety certification included group meetings, instructional material delivery, individual farm instruction, and expert instruction. In addition, there were four challenges to food safety certification identified—the needs for motivation, information, clarification, and resources—along with strategies to address the challenges.
The program was found to be limitedly successful, producing ten GAP-certified operations. It was concluded that further evaluation of the educational methods is needed.
An educational program on produce food safety/good agricultural practices for small and limited resource farmers: a case study
Journal of Agriculture and Life Sciences vol. 5 no. 2
For the 70 or so papers I produced, I get cited pretty much every day.
It’s a great testament to the team I put together, and how much we worked.
Sure geneticists have 200 papers, but if they scroll something they get their name added to the publication list.
When I went searching for a place to my PhD in 1992, I interviewed with about 40 departments, and was grateful that Mansel shepherded me into food science at the University of Guelph.
The most bizarre meeting I had was at the University of Waterloo in some sort of biological engineering department, and all the three profs cared about was what the publishing order would be on papers.
Background: Food and beverage sanitation hygiene is a prevention effort that focuses on activities or actions that are necessary to free food and drinks from hazards that can interfere with or damage health.
Objective: This study aimed to identify personal hygiene, sanitation and food safety knowledge of food workers at the canteen university.
Methods: This was a descriptive study with observational approach. Thirty-four canteens were recruited using total sampling. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics with percentage.
Results: Findings showed that 11 canteens (32.3%) did not meet the standard for canteen sanitation, 24 canteens (70.6%) did not meet lighting standard, 29 (85.3%) did not meet ventilation standard, 18 (52,9%) did not meet the standard of clean water, 31 (91.2%) did not meet wastewater disposal standard, 23 (67.6%) did not meet the hand washing facility standard, 25 (73.5%) did not meet standard of waste disposal conditions, 28 respondents (85.3%) had good personal hygiene, 6 respondents (14.6%) had poor personal hygiene and all food workers had good knowledge on food safety (100%).
Conclusion: Personal hygiene, sanitation and food safety at the university canteen must be carried out continuously. Our findings can be used as a basis for creating healthy university canteen.
Personal hygiene, sanitation and food safety knowledge of food workers at the university canteen in Indonesia
Public Health of Indonesia, Volume 4, Number 2, 2018
Yup An evaluation of the effectiveness of a university’s food safety training for hospitality service workers
Lisa Mathiasen1, CASEY J. JACOB2 and Douglas A. Powell2
1Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
2 Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
For the 500,000 Canadians employed by the food service industry, effective food safety information delivery is necessary. This research considered the effectiveness of food safety information provided to food handlers at the University of Guelph in Ontario. In-depth interviews were conducted with four of the University’s food service managers and the manager of Health and Safety to determine existing methods of food safety training and the knowledge and attitudes of managers regarding food safety. Managers’ perceptions of barriers to effective implementation of safe food handling behaviors by employees were also identified, and tools to overcome the perceived barriers were offered. Non-managerial food service employees at the University were surveyed to assess food safety knowledge, attitudes and self-reported practices.
It was found that the food safety training program used at the University of Guelph in the spring of 2003 provided an unbalanced overview of issues important to the safety of food. The study also found that managers and employees were familiar with four particular foodborne pathogens and the familiarity may be attributable to media coverage of foodborne illness outbreaks involving those pathogens. Self-contradictory attitudes of managers were identified, as well as manager misperceptions of employee attitudes. Communication of food safety concepts at the University of Guelph and other foodservice institutions may be enhanced through comprehensive food safety training programs, use of media stories as training tools, awareness of contradictions between manager attitudes and actions, and interactive communication between managers and employees.
Food safety is behavior-based. Public health inspections are a necessary means to ensure compliance with food safety regs but are a snap shot in time. It may be more beneficial to provide some on-site training during the inspection to effectively engage operators. They’ll be in their own environment, feel comfortable, and by actually working with them hands-on; you can break the English-as-second language barrier, if that exists.
Two different Paulding County restaurants failed their health and safety inspections this past week, with inspectors finding problems ranging from raw chicken being stored on the floor to food that should have been thrown away still being in the cooler. China Wok, off of Dallas Nebo Road at 4813 Ridge Rd., scored a 63/U on its inspection Tuesday and Las Palmas Restaurant, at 480 Watts Rd. in Hiram, scored an even lower 55/U on Monday. At China Wok, inspectors said they found raw chicken being stored in a plastic bin on the floor. Rangoons were found in a small metal bowl being stored on top of a trash can. In the cooler, an uncovered container of raw chicken was being stored above containers of sauce and another bowl of raw chicken was being stored above green onions. Food residue was found on a knife and potato peeler that were supposed to be clean, an employee was wearing a charm bracelet while preparing food and another was serving food without any kind of hair restraint. Managers were found not to be properly trained and the restaurant couldn’t show that workers had gotten the proper food safety training. At Las Palmas, cooked pork, pasta noodles, stuffed peppers and refried beans all were found with date markings that meant they should already have been thrown out. The marking on the beans suggested they were more than two-and-a-half weeks old. Packages of raw ground beef were being stored next to lettuce, raw shrimp was left in a sink to thaw, two microwaves had food debris in them from the day before and food was being stored at the wrong temperature. Managers didn’t display they’d had the proper training and the restaurant had no established procedures for what to do if a customer gets sick while there, the report said. According to state policies, the restaurants will be inspected again within the next 10 days. If either hasn’t addressed the problems from the original inspection by then, inspectors could shut the restaurant down until the problems are fixed.
Not going to solve the issue. The problems may be altered temporarily and the restaurant will be open for business. However, from my experience, unless you can tackle the underlying issues that contributing to the problems initially; the restaurant will resort its’ original state. It’s all about behavior and effective training.
Ernest Griffin, 71, was sentenced Wednesday and also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, according to the office.
Griffin had pleaded guilty in March 2016 to one count of federal program bribery, according to court records.
His business, Food Safety Awareness, contracted with the Illinois Department of Public Health to offer food handling courses. Students needed to complete a 15-hour course and take an exam in order to receive sanitation certificates from the health department.
In exchange for bribes, Griffin submitted false certifications and false test results to the department, although prosecutors and Griffin’s lawyer disagreed on the total amount of bribes the man received, court documents show.
Prosecutors said that starting in at least 2008 and continuing through January 2015 Griffin received bribes from students, taking in a total of almost $152,000. His lawyer, in a filing, said that Griffin admitted to receiving more than $5,000 a year in bribes from 2010 through 2014.
The government said that Griffin’s bribery scheme ended only after he was confronted by FBI agents in January 2015.
The government contended that during that four-year period, about 675 students who hadn’t taken the required class or exam were given sanitation certificates.
I just registered for an Ice Hockey Australia Level 2 coaching course.
The course is rarely offered, and there’s only a couple of level 2 coaches in Queensland. It will take 25 hours of training to complete.
That’s on top of the 16 hours I put in for Coach 1 in Australia, and recertification every two years.
It’s similar to the Intermediate Level Coach status I had in Canada back in 2001, which was required to coach a rep or travel team.
It’s a lot of time, sitting in a classroom, and on the ice.
I view it as my church, my community service.
So when Chipotle makes a big deal saying all of its managers will be trained in food safety the ServSafe way, I shrug, and ask, why weren’t they before?
How far was Chipotle’s head up its own moralistic ass that it paid more attention to food porn – like hormones and GE foods – than to food safety, the things that make people barf?
Great, you’re going to require training. Anyone ask if the training is any good? Third-party audits? Nice soundbite but they’re just a paycheck. Handwashing every thirty minutes? McDonald’s have been doing that for decades (you’d think Chipotle would have picked that up when they were partnered with McDonald’s, but no, there was food porn to peddle).
The Chipotle announcement reads like a moralistic lecture, and that no one had discovered food safety before.
Some scientists may question such tactics, saying they have been supplanted by newer methods. But Dr. James Marsden, Chipotle’s new executive director of food safety, who had recently retired from teaching at Kansas State University (and the father of the actor James Marsden, best known as Cyclops in the “X Men” film series) said he was confident in them.
“We’re doing research and are going to publish papers on what we’re doing, so people can see for themselves that it works,” he said.
That’s all good, but they’re still moralistic assholes who expect people to pay a premium for their food sermons (journos, contact me for Marsden stories).
In a video that the Mexican burrito chain unveiled on Wednesday, a contrite Ells admits that last year, the fast-casual restaurant chain “failed to live up to our own food safety standards, and in so doing, we let our customers down. At that time, I made a promise to all of our customers that we would elevate our food safety program.”
Contrite is not the word I would use.
Looking to revalue Chipotle’s share price is more accurate.
Chipotle initially blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Australian beef for its woes. Today, it blamed social media.
“No one has ever had this kind of a food safety crisis in the era of social media,” Mr. Ells said.
I could list hundreds, beginning with E. coli O157 in spinach in 2006, you arrogant poser.
“Jack In The Box,” — a burger chain where more than 700 people got sick in 1993 after eating E. coli contaminated meat — “never had to deal with Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
When I coach, I’m always telling kids, and adults, stop blaming the refs, go score a goal, stop whinging.
What is fresh? Australian beef in the U.S.?
Is this guy stealing from Trump’s playbook?
It’s slogans and hucksterism.
Which Americans seem to go for.
And Mr. Ells, since you seem content on lecturing Americans about food safety, while blaming others, here’s a history lesson.
In the Fall of 1994, Intel computer chips became scrutinized by the computer geeks, and then the public.
Intel had delayed responding to allegations, and Wall Street analysts at the time said it was the result of a corporate culture accustomed to handling technical issues rather than addressing customers’ hopes and fears.
On Monday, Nov. 12, 1994, the International Business Machines Corp. abruptly announced that its own researchers had determined that the Pentium flaw would lead to division errors much more frequently than Intel said. IBM said it was suspending shipments of personal computers containing the Pentium chip
Mr. Grove was stunned. The head of IBM’s PC division, Richard Thoman, had given no advance warning. A fax from Thoman arrived at Intel’s HQ on Monday morning after the IBM announcement, saying he had been unable to find Grove’s number during the weekend. Mr. Grove, whose number is listed, called directory assistance twice to ask for his own number to ensure he was listed.
After the IBM announcement, the number of calls to Santa Clara overwhelmed the capacity of AT&T’s West Coast long-distance telephone switching centres, blocking calls. Intel stock fell 6.5 per cent
Only then, Mr. Grove said, did he begin to realize that an engineer’s approach was inappropriate for a consumer problem.
Intel took out full-page ads, apologized, and did better.
That was in months, not a year.
Mr. Ells, you can claim you’re in uncharted territory, that no one has experienced the woes like you have, that fresh is a meaningful term.
But it’s just a repeat.
Customers may expect you to have the humility to admit such failings when driven by the hubris of your own beliefs.
But hey, anyone who can get Americans to believe that 1,000 calorie burritos are healthy can do anything you damn well please.
And customers will bow down.
Investors. I wouldn’t touch it. But I said that in 2007.
Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune writes the U.S. National Restaurant Association on Friday agreed to train without charge about 170 employees at bodegas, restaurants and other food-service establishments in the city who received certificates in safe food handling from a consultant accused of selling bogus documents for as much as $450.
The association also said it suspended the consultant, Jorge De Jesus, whom it had hired to teach the courses and administer the exams needed to receive a so-called ServSafe certificate from the association.
De Jesus also was suspended with pay from his $51,602-a-year job as a code inspector for the city’s Inspectional Services department after a bogus ServSafe certificate found at Noelia Market on Lawrence Street was traced to him. The city shut the bodega last week.
The certificates are issued by the association, not the city, but the city requires them from merchants seeking the common victualler license needed to sell food. That made it a conflict of interest for De Jesus to issue even valid certificates in Lawrence, Assistant City Attorney Brian Corrigan said.
Even though the pathogenic capacity of L. monocytogenes is practically circumscribed to a few risk categories as pregnant women, newborns and different kinds of immunocompromised people, given its high case-fatality rate this disease represents the second cause of death for foodborne infection in Europe.
As it emerged from the reviewed literature, L. monocytogenes was recovered in many different food categories, which testifies the widespread of the pathogen in the food chain. The main causes of L. monocytogenes presence were poor microbiological quality of raw materials, cross-contamination, inadequate cleaning practices, improper storage temperature, inadequate preparation processes, and a lack in the training of staff on food hygiene.
In particular, cross-contamination of foods can be reduced by hand washing, use of gloves, separation of raw materials from end products, sanitation and disinfection of equipment and food contact surfaces, hence, a structured training program of staff on these practices is essential.
The occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in mass catering: An overview in the European Union
International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 57, August 2016, Pages 9–17, doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2016.05.005
A successful food safety intervention must be based on firm theories and a consideration of all relevant variables. The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent of improvement in food safety knowledge and practices of food handlers in primary school canteens through food safety training.
– A list of 98 primary schools was randomized into intervention and control groups using a multistage sampling method. The training programme for the intervention group and questionnaires for evaluating knowledge and practices were developed. On-site observations were done to assess hygienic practices during the handling of raw food and cooking equipment. In total, 16 school canteens participated in this study.
– Knowledge about personal hygiene and related to rules for preparing safe food was significantly improved after the food safety intervention. Some of the improvement was sustained for up to 12 weeks after the intervention. The self-reported practice score of food safety and hygiene in the intervention group was significantly higher at post1 and post2 compared to baseline. A significant within-group and between-group improvement was demonstrated for the observed behaviour of raw food handling and equipment sanitation.
– The originality of this study is to provide a new framework for the design and implementation of food safety intervention in school canteens targeted towards a specific enabling factor for behavioural change. Provision of food safety training grounded by the theory of planned behaviour was associated with significantly improved food safety knowledge and behaviour amongst food handlers.
Effect of food safety training on food handlers’ knowledge and practices
Folklorama in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a 14-day temporary food service event that explores the many different cultural realms of food, food preparation, and entertainment. In 2010, the Russian pavilion at Folklorama was implicated in a foodborne outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 that caused 37 illnesses and 18 hospitalizations. The ethnic nature and diversity of foods prepared within each pavilion presents a unique problem for food inspectors, as each culture prepares food in their own very unique way. The Manitoba Department of Health and Folklorama Board of Directors realized a need to implement a food safety information delivery program that would be more effective than a 2-h food safety course delivered via PowerPoint slides. The food operators and event coordinators of five randomly chosen pavilions selling potentially hazardous food were trained on-site, in their work environment, focusing on critical control points specific to their menu. A control group (five pavilions) did not receive on-site food safety training and were assessed concurrently. Public health inspections for all 10 pavilions were performed by Certified Public Health Inspectors employed with Manitoba Health. Critical infractions were assessed by means of standardized food protection inspection reports. The results suggest no statistically significant difference in food inspection scores between the trained and control groups. However, it was found that inspection report results increased for both the control and trained groups from the first inspection to the second, implying that public health inspections are necessary in correcting unsafe food safety practices. The results further show that in this case, the 2-h food safety course delivered via slides was sufficient to pass public health inspections. Further evaluations of alternative food safety training approaches are warranted.