Jason Bourne novelist tanks Chipotle stock with one tweet

Despite Chipotle Mexican Grill’s attempt to move on from a string of high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks, the company’s stock moves Thursday show how fragile its reputation is at the moment.

chipotle.tweets.jul.16The stock dipped as much as 3.4 percent in early morning trading following a tweet from Jason Bourne author Eric Van Lustbader that said his editor had been hospitalized after eating at a Chipotle in Manhattan.

We are aware of the post made on Twitter, however there have been no reports of illnesses at any of our New York restaurants,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told CNBC. “Moreover, we have excellent health department scores throughout the city, and we continue to have the highest standards of food safety in our restaurants.”

Chipotle seems to be suffering some Jason Bourne-like amnesia.

jason.bourneAfter Chipotle released the statement, shares began to reverse themselves and were recently trading down $7.88, or 1.9 percent, at $392.44.

“Every time that something like that comes out, yes, it will affect the stock because it potentially impacts … the recovery [in the] near term,” Nick Setyan, a Wedbush analyst, told CNBC. “There is such a lack of visibility right now that every little thing is going to change that variable.”

The illness Van Lustbader reported is unconfirmed at this time, however, other Twitter users have taken to the social media platform to share their experiences with New York Chipotle restaurants.

The key is supplement: Statisticians using social media to track foodborne illness

The American Statistical Association reports the growing popularity and use of social media around the world is presenting new opportunities for statisticians to glean insightful information from the infinite stream of posts, tweets and other online communications that will help improve public safety.

vomitTwo such examples–one that enhances systems to track foodborne illness outbreaks and another designed to improve disaster-response activities–were presented this week at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM 2015) in Seattle.

In a presentation titled “Digital Surveillance of Foodborne Illnesses and Outbreaks”, biostatistician Elaine Nsoesie unveiled a method for tracking foodborne illness and disease outbreaks using social media sites such as Twitter and business review sites such as Yelp to supplement traditional surveillance systems. Nsoesie is a research fellow in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The study’s purpose was to assess whether crowdsourcing via online reviews of restaurants and other foodservice institutions can be used as a surveillance tool to augment the efforts of local public health departments. These traditional surveillance systems capture only a fraction of the estimated 48 million foodborne illness cases in the country each year, primarily because few affected individuals seek medical care or report their condition to the appropriate authorities.

Nsoesie and collaborators tested their nontraditional approach to track these outbreaks. The results showed foods–for example, poultry, leafy lettuce and mollusks–implicated in foodborne illness reports on Yelp were similar to those reported in outbreak reports issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

yelp.sick“Online reviews of foodservice businesses offer a unique resource for disease surveillance. Similar to notification or complaint systems, reports of foodborne illness on review sites could serve as early indicators of foodborne disease outbreaks and spur investigation by local health authorities. Information gleaned from such novel data streams could aid traditional surveillance systems in near real-time monitoring of foodborne related illnesses,” said Nsoesie.

The lack of near real-time reports of foodborne outbreaks reinforces the need for alternative data sources to supplement traditional approaches to foodborne disease surveillance, explained Nsoesie. She added Yelp.com data can be combined with additional data from other social media sites and crowdsourced websites to further improve coverage of foodborne disease reports.

A guy ate a cockroach sandwich, so he’s waging Twitter war against a Canadian Subway

After allegedly finding a cockroach in his sandwich at a Subway franchise in Sudbury, Ontario, Patrick Balfour took to Twitter to voice his complaints against the sandwich giant. He’s sparing no expense in the process: He even bought two anti-Subway promoted tweets for $90. His story is a testament to the power of social media to affect sweeping change—or the power of a near-obsessive-compulsive desire to shame a sandwich chain, either one.

Balfour’s Subway saga began 11 months ago, when he contacted @SubwayOntario via Twitter to complain about finding the critter in his sandwich (a turkey footlong on Italian subway-sandwich-in-handherb and cheese bread).

He didn’t have a photo of the sandwich. “I was [disgusted] and got rid of the sub as soon as possible,” he said in an email. “I never thought it would drag on this long or that I’d ever need a photo of a dead cockroach.” But after sending a few tweets to @SubwayOntario, the company eventually responded, asking for Balfour’s contact info. When they failed to follow up with him after 10 days, he reached out again and they responded with the same message.

For a while, Balfour forgot about the cockroach incident, until @SubwayCanada launched a promotional initiative on Twitter. He decided to use their new advertising campaign as an opportunity to contact them again:

SUBWAY CANADA: More than great sandwiches, follow SUBWAY®Canada today!

PATRICK BALFOUR: ‪@SUBWAYCanada I found a cockroach in my sub. I spoke with someone from ‪@SubwayOntario & they said someone would be in touch. Never happened

PATRICK BALFOUR: ‪@mike_check_2012 ‪@SUBWAYCanada I wasn’t paying attention and it was dead. I thought it was a black olive at first until I saw the legs

PATRICK BALFOUR: ‪@SUBWAYCanada ‪@SubwayOntario no response??? Awesome!

PATRICK BALFOUR: ‪@SUBWAYCanada ‪@SubwayOntario a Why are you ignoring my tweets? You’d think that if I found a cockroach in my sub you might want to reach out

Like before, he received a perfunctory response:

SUBWAY CANADA: ‪@patrickbalfour ‪@SubwayOntario We’re sorry to hear this! Plz reach out to our Customer Care team at 1-800-888-4848 or http://bit.ly/1iA8MQV

“I called [the line], even though I thought that was a horrible response,” he told me. “What I got was a 24 hour voice mail. Now I was mad!”

Enraged by the subpar customer service, Balfour promoted the following tweet:

PATRICK BALFOUR: I found a dead cockroach in my sub which I bought in Ontario. This tweet is being promoted! Do you care now ‪@SubwayCanada? ‪#Subway

PATRICK BALFOUR: ‪@draxapup ‪@SUBWAYCanada if they have twitter available to engage with their customers they should solve their problems. Not very smart!

A message for all you older guys/gals: Get on Twitter

When Terry posted this I called him immediately.

I opened with, “I’m crushed.”

He immediately said back, “what, that I didn’t include you in my twitter go to list” (ya big baby; he didn’t say that, but probably thought that).

terry.daynard.13Not bad for a 70-something year old.

So from Terry Daynard’s blog, and Terry has been a huge influence in my life, we have old people being urged to own twitter.

I tell my kids the same thing; writing is hard, learning how to write in short meaningful ways is harder.

By older I mean about 50-plus, including old-timers like me who can still learn new skills. Younger people can ignore the following advice; they’ve mostly discovered what I’ll be saying, years ago.

I have long ignored the idea of social media. I saw no reason to inform others about my daily trivia, or to know the same about them. But then, thanks to two daughters, I discovered Twitter. It’s marvelous.

For sure, Twitter can be about trivia, and often is. But it’s also a phenomenal means of keeping one informed almost instantly. And about issues which are really important.

Twitter helps me in farming. It was my best source of timely information in 2012 on the spread of armyworm and aphid infestations – as well as what to do about them. It’s equally good for real-time information on crop performance, markets, ag policy, weather damage, or just about anything else you’d want to know. And it’s free.

I’ll not give details on how to get onto Twitter and into “tweeting.” I got help from my family and you can too. It’s not difficult. Emailing was a harder learn 15+ years ago.

Don’t be deterred by the 140-character-per-message limit. It’s actually your friend – forcing tweeters to be concise. Tweets can include encrypted (abbreviated) web links to more information, and often do. For many of you, there is no need to send tweets at all; it’s what you learn from the tweets of others that provides the most benefit. I know farmers with twitter accounts who have yet to tweet once; they just use it to learn from others.

The whole trick is in choosing whose tweets “to follow.” If you choose good sources, you’ll get good, timely information. If you choose bad ones, you’ll get a stream of useless nonsense about going for coffee, bathrooms, and bitching about sports events. One huge advantage: you can be ruthless and still polite. Try different sources but drop bad ones quickly (“unfollowing” is the term) if they waste your time. (I dropped one source after only 15 minutes.)

If you are in Ontario crop agriculture, there are some essentials: Peter Johnson (aka @WheatPete), Mike Cowbrough (@cowbrough), Pat Lynch (@PatrickLynch13), Tracey Baute (@TraceyBaute) and Dave Hooker (@cropdoc2). Many others are about as good – including several for market information. A characteristic of good crop info sources is that they tell you what you need to know, when you need it, but don’t flood you with countless tweets.

Include good farmers, indeed many of them, as they are your best scouts for what’s happening on farms. Two of my favourites are Brent Royce (@brfarms09) and Andrew Campbell (@FreshAirFarmer). Use sources well beyond Ontario and Canada. I value farm/ag tweets from the US and Europe, and international agencies like the Gates Foundation and CIMMYT.

There are dedicated individuals who voluntarily make it their mission to scan information from everywhere and summarize it on Twitter. Two top examples are Cami Ryan (@DocCamiRyan) at U Saskatchewan and Calestous Juma (@calestous) at Harvard University. I like “Frank N. Foode”  (@franknfoode) which is a great, though cheeky source, authored, I’m told, by a group of US ag students. Carl the Corn Plant (@IowaCornPlant) is another. UofGuelphOAC (@uofGuelphOAC) is a top source of news from the Ontario Agricultural College. You can see everyone I follow, if you like, by checking @TerryDaynard.

One huge benefit for an old guy like me is that most of the information on Twitter comes from young people. I value that immensely.

Fax machines first arrived in the mid 1980s – a marvelous communications break through. Then came emails a decade later – even better, as were high-speed internet and modern web site technologies to follow. Twitter is the next wave. If you’re not part of it, you’re missing something great. Indeed, soon you may be in the minority.

Until recently, I started most days reading the (Toronto)  Globe and Mail on line. But now I check Twitter first, and read several articles I’m attracted to by Twitter links. I read stuff from all over the world, often in obscure on-line publications I’ve not known before. If I still have time at breakfast, I’ll then check the Globe – good to know what’s on the national stage – but it’s pretty boring compared to Twitter.

(This item appeared initially in the Ontario Farmer, and is now being posted here.  I’m pleased to hear of folks  in their mid 80s who are now on Twitter, as well as 70-year-old youngsters, like me)

Steak tartare in 6 seconds; IT CEO don’t know food safety

Although a couple of months old, we just came across this lovely video from Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo making steak tartare.

Mashable Media reports Twitter users may soon have a new way to share videos  in their tweets via Vine, a small video-sharing startup that Twitter acquired in October.

If Costolo’s tweet is any indication, it appears Twitter is planning to integrate Vine to allow users to embed short clips in their tweets in the same way that Twitter now lets users create and share Instagram-style photos in tweets.

Raw hamburger and eggs and known microbiological risks. No matter how cool you are on Twitter.

I prefer the Mr. bean version, parts 1 and 2 below.

‘I would rather eat my own diarrhea’ #McDStories McDonald’s Twitter campaign backfires

The social media thing sounds sorta cool until customers complain that your food makes people vomit, you serve pig meat from gestation crates and a burger containing a finger nail.

And it’s all on Twitter for anyone to see.

Jumping on the social media bandwagon, McDonald’s last week launched a campaign featuring paid-for tweets, which would appear at the top of search results and designed to get people to share touchy-feely nostalgic stories about the fast food chain.

The company only promoted the hashtag #McDStories for two hours, during which Twitter users told stories of finding gross things in their food, unclean restaurants, and bad experiences working for the chain.

McDonald’s social media director Rick Wion says of the incident, "We’re learning from our experiences." And they will. And become even more profitable.

Social media role in tracking norovirus outbreak at journalism gathering

This sounds like norovirus. And some investigators discovering that youngsters use different ways to communicate.

Michelle Ferguson tried to avoid it, but the rapid onslaught of nausea took its toll on her body when she suddenly vomited in the back seat of a school bus last weekend.

She and her fellow delegates, attending a journalism conference in downtown Victoria, were on their way to the Vertigo nightclub for the final gala when dozens of formally dressed students started vomiting on the buses, in their hotel and at the club.

Almost instantly, messages on Twitter told the stories of people suffering from extreme stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Staff at Canadian University Press, who organize the conference every year, contacted health officials as the numbers increased. Within minutes, delegates were asked to return to the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites.

The well-documented outbreak is considered a successful example of the effectiveness of communicating through social media. The conference’s Twitter hashtag, #nash74, led news agencies to the story, became a slick crisis-control tool and has inspired health officials to consider using similar methods to monitor outbreaks.

"It would be fascinating to learn how to use social media to control and manage outbreaks like they did," said Dr. Murray Fyfe, chief medical health officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. "I’m sure some were able to limit their exposure because of it."

Messages about the widespread vomiting were sent out on #nash74. CUP staff saw the numbers climbing and shut down the gala.

CUP staff went door-to-door as well, but nothing worked more efficiently than Twitter, according to students.

"I feel a lot more people would have gotten sick without Twitter," Mattern said. "This whole thing would have played out a lot differently."

Methods for tracking and managing outbreaks could change because of the role Twitter played in this incident.

Fyfe and his staff have analyzed the Twitter feed from the conference and could follow how the outbreak spread.

"A traditional investigation would have trouble getting those details," he said. "We’re interested in partnering with people who have expertise in social media to use it as a tool to investigate outbreaks and as a communication tool to control outbreaks."

Contact us any time.

I was just puked on and as a result puked myself, it’s awful; 60 sick as norovirus hits student journalism conference

In what is now being dubbed the “Great Puking Debacle of Nash 74,” student journalists from across the country who attended Canadian University Press’s 74th National Conference (or “NASH”) in Victoria, B.C. were hit with a plague-like puking epidemic Saturday evening at the conference’s gala.

That’s how The Varsity, a University of Toronto student paper, described events after rumors of the vomiting outbreak surfaced on Twitter late Saturday evening, when conference delegates began reporting symptoms and nausea and vomiting episodes after dinner at the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites in downtown Victoria.

There are reports on Twitter that up to 60 students are ill and 11 have been hospitalized with what is believed to be norovirus.

On Twitter, conference delegates live-tweeted new cases of the infection. As one attendee tweeted, “I was just puked on and as a result puked myself. It’s awful.”

The outbreak is the most recent example of live-tweeted epidemics, a phenomenon studied by scientists last year in response to swine flu trends on Twitter. Evidence of the Nash 74 outbreak’s progression can be found on Twitter under #nash74

Does moral education make food safer? China says yes; food is worse than twitter weiners

Maybe I’m losing something in translation, but Xinhua reports that experts in China have called for strengthening moral education to ensure food safety following a string of scandals in recent months.

Zhao Chenggen, an expert at the School of Government at Peking University, said on Wednesday that to promote moral education is conducive to urging food producers to place a higher value on public health.

Under the influence of moral cultivation, food producers could enhance their subjective consciousness to resist ill-gotten gains through adding toxic materials into food, he said.

"Moral decline in the food industry is more terrible than that in social communications," said another expert, Xu Yaotong, a professor of political science at the National School of Administration.

Premier Wen Jiabao said, "A country without the improved quality of its people and the power of morality will never grow into a mighty and respected power.”

Wen said that advancing the moral and cultural construction would help safeguard normal production, life and social order, as well as to eradicate the stain of swindling, corruption and other illegal conduct.