Using observation to evaluate training: Canadian High School edition

A couple of old friends Shannon Majowicz and Ken Diplock and colleagues from Waterloo, (that’s in Canada) are doing good work looking at food safety stuff with high school students- evaluating training efficacy using observation. They published their work demonstrating some sustained food safety behaviors following a training program, this month in the Journal of Food Protection.

Kenneth J. Diplock, Joel A. Dubin, Scott T. Leatherdale, David Hammond, Andria Jones-Bitton, and Shannon E. Majowicz. 2018. Observation of High School Students’ Food Handling Behaviors: Do They Improve following a Food Safety Education Intervention?

Greenbank High School Birkdale Merseyside.

Journal of Food Protection: June 2018, Vol. 81, No. 6, pp. 917-925

Youth are a key audience for food safety education. They often engage in risky food handling behaviors, prepare food for others, and have limited experience and knowledge of safe food handling practices. Our goal was to investigate the effectiveness of an existing food handler training program for improving safe food handling behaviors among high school students in Ontario, Canada. However, because no schools agreed to provide control groups, we evaluated whether behaviors changed following delivery of the intervention program and whether changes were sustained over the school term. We measured 32 food safety behaviors, before the intervention and at 2-week and 3-month follow-up evaluations by in-person observations of students (n = 119) enrolled in grade 10 and 12 Food and Nutrition classes (n = 8) and who individually prepared recipes. We examined within-student changes in behaviors across the three time points, using mixed effects regression models to model trends in the total food handling score (of a possible 32 behaviors) and subscores for “clean” (17 behaviors), “separate” (14 behaviors), and “cook” (1 behavior), adjusting for student characteristics. At baseline, students (n = 108) averaged 49.1% (15.7 of 32 behaviors; standard deviation = 5.8) correct food handling behaviors, and only 5.5% (6) of the 108 students used a food thermometer to check the doneness of the chicken (the “cook” behavior). All four behavior score types increased significantly ∼2 weeks postintervention and remained unchanged ∼3 months later. Student characteristics (e.g., having taken a prior food handling course) were not significant predictors of the total number of correctly performed food handling behaviors or of the “clean” or “separate” behaviors, and frequency of cooking and self-described cooking ability were the only characteristics significantly associated with food thermometer use (i.e., “cook”). Despite the significant increase in correct behaviors, students continued to use risky practices postintervention, suggesting that the risk of foodborne disease remained.

Salmonella found by USDA in Canadian deli products

Piller’s Fine Foods, a Waterloo, Canada establishment, is recalling approximately 1,076 pounds of ready-to-eat salami and speck products that may be adulterated with Salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The problem was discovered when an FSIS sample of the ready-to-eat salami product was confirmed positive for Salmonella. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

The ready-to-eat speck prosciutto and salami items were produced on Sept. 22 and Oct. 12, 2017, respectively. The following products are subject to recall:

Vacuum-sealed random weight plastic packages containing “Black Kassel Piller’s Dry Aged D’Amour Salami” with Best Before date of May 12, 2018

Vacuum-sealed random weight plastic packages containing “Black Kassel Piller’s Dry Aged Speck Smoked Prosciutto” with Best Before date of May 12, 2018.

These items were produced in Canada and were shipped to distribution centers in California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.         

Rolling Acres unpasteurized apple cider linked to a mysterious number of illnesses in Ontario

Hallowe’en in North Carolina is kind of awesome. Unlike my childhood where I had to wear a ski jacket underneath my Superman costume, tonight’s temps in Raleigh will be in the 60s. Capitalizing on the nice weather, our neighborhood will look like a street party. Beyond the traditional candy, chocolate and boxes of raisins, some folks will give out hot dogs and hot chocolate to adults; others will have apple cider.20141030ba_1414719717551_eng

I’ll be asking whether the cider is pasteurized.

According the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) unpasteurized apple cider at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market in Waterloo, Ontario (thats in Canada) has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. How many cases and hospitalizations and where the cider was consumed is still a mystery (to me at least, it’s not listed on the CFIA website).

Rolling Acres Cider Mill is recalling unpasteurized apple cider from the marketplace due to possible E. coliO157:H7 contamination.

The following products have been sold by Rolling Acres Cider Mill at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market located in Waterloo, Ontario on October 11, 2014 and from the company’s own location in Waterloo, Ontario between October 10, 2014 and October 11, 2014.

This recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

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Health inspectors in one Ontario region found nearly 11,000 food safety infractions in 2013

Restaurants and other food-handling facilities in Waterloo Region were inspected more times in 2013 than ever before – and were found to not be abiding by the rules more than ever before as well.

IYN_pic7_wpRegion of Waterloo Public Health conducted a total of 5,230 inspections last year.

That’s more than the 5,088 they conducted in 2012, which was the previous all-time high.

Also more than the previous high-water mark was the number of infractions inspectors found – a total of 10,984, including 3,162 critical infractions.

The most common of the critical infractions was “failure to protect food from potential contamination and adulteration.”

Chris Komorowski, the region’s manager of food safety, says the results aren’t a surprise given the uptick in total inspections.

“We’ve inspected more food premises this year than we did in previous years,” he tells CTV News.

“With that, you’re going to see overall more infractions.”

It’s not just restaurants that see occasional visits from health inspectors – supermarkets, bakeries and other facilities are examined as well.

“Wherever food is prepared to be sold, we’re mandated to respect,” says Komorowski.

Waterloo region (Ontario) students might have foodborne illness after competition

I used to be an even bigger nerd than I currently am. Spending my time focusing on food safety might be considered by some as sexy (the food pornographers) but while in high school I was into a much weirder and unhip hobby — I built robots. It’s not like I hung out alone in the basement messing around with motors and gears; I built robots on my high school robotics team (I hope that makes it a bit cooler). A couple of us even coined a somewhat embarrassing team name, Team PHYRE (PHYRE stands for Port Hope young robotics engineers).

The robot building wasn’t entirely aimless, we competed against other nerds in an annual national competition, Canada First. Each participating high school was provided with a few materials and tasked with creating a remote control contraption that would be used to play a game against other teams. The game varied from year-to-year but usually involved collecting/shooting/storing and moving balls or pucks into a goal. Fun stuff. We had 8 weeks to build the robot, but the competition weekend was the big pay-off. A bunch of senior high school students staying in a hotel and getting into various levels of trouble. The most embarrassing part of the story is that the competition weekends still rank high on my list of most memorable experiences.

In a related story, a group of Waterloo region (Ontario) students probably had a memorable extracurricular event weekend recently — but for more barfblog-worthy reasons. Twenty-five students and two teachers attending DECA, an extracurricular program that gives students hands-on experience in marketing and business, reported symptoms consistient with foodborne illness after the comptetion.

The students stayed at the Toronto Sheraton Hotel in the city’s downtown, where the competition was held.
“We’re still in the early fact-finding mode,” said Brenda Miller, the region’s manager of health protection and investigation.
Public health began investigating on Wednesday (February 11) and has contacted both school boards to find out which schools sent students to the competition and if they have a surge in absenteeism.
One possibility being looked into is the hotel restaurant where many students ate, although Miller stressed there are other potential sources that must be investigated.
“It could be norovirus, but at this point it’s too early to tell,” Miller said.

While there were definitely illnesses associated with the robotics competitions, I’m pretty sure foodborne illness wasn’t a likely cause.

4 students, staff sick with E. coli at Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario

There are two universities in the Ontario, Canada, town of Waterloo – the University of Waterloo, from whence the Blackberry, and text searching and CCD toys and all sorts of things emerged – and the smaller, business-oriented uni across the street, Wilfrid Laurier, named after the dude on the Canadian $5 bill and former Prime Minister.

Two students and a staff member at Wilfrid Laurier University are recovering from E. coli poisoning after being treated in hospital, the region’s public health department has confirmed.

A fourth person, also a student at Laurier, was a “probable case” with symptoms, but no laboratory confirmation.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, associate medical officer of health for Waterloo Region, said health officials inspected all food preparation areas thoroughly on campus and, “We found no evidence of any potentially unsafe food handling practices.”

But did they source food from safe sources? Especially the stuff that was going to be served fresh?