Memo to Australian retailers: provide sanitizing wipes in stores or pay to clean my shorts

This is going to be transformed into dinner in about 12 hours, traditional comfort food as the people of Brisbane bundle up with lows as low as 59F and highs of only 69F with rain (people are dressed like it was Feb. in Saskatoon).

But when I picked the bird out of the cooler case yesterday, blood ran down my hand. I looked for something to help clean up the mess and could only find my shorts.

The same thing happened a few weeks ago with some marked-down packaged chicken pieces. I happened to pick a checkout aisle that was being manned by the manager. I asked Mr. Megalomart Manager if he had something form me to wipe my hands on.


I asked about the bloody drippings now on the checkout conveyor. He looked around but couldn’t find the sanitizing solution he insisted was at every checkout.

I said, in the U.S. and Canada, it has become routine to find disposable sanitizing wipes not only near the meat counter, but any raw product such as produce, along with a variety of contraptions and wipes for sanitizing shopping carts.

Manager thought the wipes were a decent idea; they had a weekly food safety meeting and he’d bring it up with corporate.

Corporate trashed the idea because of cost and waste.

Something to keep in mind next time a vp of something proclaims, “food safety is our top priority.”

Gonzalo Erdozain: Antibacterial gels wipes not a substitute for washing hands when visiting petting zoos farms

Washing hands is the single most effective way to prevent zoonotic disease transmission at petting zoos yet compliance remains low. The most recent attempt at raising public awareness on handwashing after visiting petting zoos comes from Ireland’s Public Health Agency (HPA), which released recommendations yesterday.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding parents about the importance of supervising hand washing among their children after visiting an open farm and handling farm animals, over the summer holidays.

Antibacterial gels and wipes are not a substitute for washing hands with soap and water, as gels/wipes may be unable to remove contamination in the way that running water can. However, using such gels after hand washing with soap and water may further reduce the risk of picking up these infections.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, Assistant Director of Public Health (Health Protection), PHA, said: “Farm animals often carry a range of organisms which can be passed to children and adults. These organisms can include serious infections such as E. coli O157 which is extremely infectious and easily passed from animals to children and then within the household. Hand washing with soap and water will reduce the risk of picking up these infections, which can be particularly harmful to young children.”

"By being aware and by doing these simple things we can help to avoid illness and enjoy a fun day out.”

It’s not simple if the tools for handwashing are not available. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t work well on soiled hands. They are ineffective in killing Clostridium spores and norovirus. The latest petting zoo-related outbreak (June 2011) involved four people – two adults and two children – falling ill with E. coli after visiting a petting zoo in Washington.

An updated table of petting zoo-related outbreaks is available at

Wamego, the Wizard of Oz and petting zoos

Every time I say, I’m from Kansas, some genius makes a remark about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.

Wamego (Kansas), about 20 miles from Manhattan (Kansas) is more than the home of the Wizard of Oz museum (visited by a couple of my daughters, right, exactly as shown), where fights among the little people on the set of the movie are depicted in all their glory. It is also apparently home to the annual Tulip Festival, which ran this weekend.

A couple of my colleagues went tuliping on Saturday, and found the fair also included a lot of food and a petting zoo: a poorly supervised petting zoo, where little kids could walk in and swap saliva with a bunch of animals like cows, and llamas and alpacas, without supervision, and then go eat food or suck their fingers or whatever.

I’m told there were signs, there were wipes available, but is that really enough, especially given all the tragic outbreaks that have been linked to petting zoos? And the handwashing facilities were about 30 yards removed from this sign (left).

Food poisoning during the Dominican honeymoon means Pepto-Bismol and baby wipes

Kansas State University student, and news hunter and gatherer, Gonzalo Erdozain (right, sorta as shown), finally got away on his honeymoon to the Dominican Republic after classes ended last week. Gonzalo returned yesterday and shares his tale below.

I probably contracted a slight case of food poisoning while honeymooning in the Dominican Republic.  So did my wife, and I spent my birthday, literally, in the bathroom and having to use baby wipes on sensitive and inflamed, uh, skin.

We apparently weren’t alone.

The Toronto Star reported yesterday that five passengers aboard a WestJet flight from the Dominican Republic were taken to hospital by ambulance Wednesday night after apparently suffering from food poisoning.

I’d like to know the resort where those other sick people were staying, but if it was anything like ours, it became rapidly apparent that food safety standards in the U.S. are still much, much higher than those of the Dominican Republic.

The resort was luxurious and the service was indeed top of the line, but what they consider to be safe and appropriate is just different than what Americans do.

Gonzo’s do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do advice when visiting a resort in the Dominican:

• don’t eat ceviche that isn’t cold enough or that isn’t entirely covered by lemon and lime juice (which is what is supposed to kill microorganisms;

• don’t eat the fruit they put as decoration on your drinks, its been sitting out all day at the bar in temperatures around 80-90F; and,

• if you want to be extremely careful, even though the hotel tap water is purified, always use bottled water if it will end up in your mouth such as washing your toothbrush, mouth guard (yes, I wear one myself due to grinding), or even rinsing the toothpaste from your mouth – if you use the tap water for any of these, and it happens to be tainted, you will get sick.

Bonus traveler tips: A small bottle of Pepto-Bismol at the hotel costs $18, the equivalent of a year’s supply in the U.S., and yes, baby wipes are available, but there is nothing funny about having to go to the pharmacy and buy baby wipes in a couples-only resort.

flushable wipes might not be so flushable

Having a baby around the house has introduced me to a bunch of new life necessities like soothers, gripe water and wipes. I’m not a huge diaper-changing fan, but when it’s my turn I try to do everything in a quick, fluid-like step but it doesn’t always work out. The wipes help a lot.

I have a close friend back in Guelph who also uses wipes. And he doesn’t have a baby.

A couple of years ago he led a discussion at a party about the political-correctness of adults using baby wipes for the not-so-clean trips to the restroom. As the

Raleigh News and Observe

r puts it, wipes can provide consumers a "shower-fresh" feeling for their bottoms. Since the discussion, this friend reports that he has been buying wipes, stashing them in his desk and covertly grabbing one daily as he goes to have a dump.

According to the

News and Observer,

it turns out that flushing the wipes, even if they are the flushable ones is not a good idea for the sewer systems (at least in Raleigh).

Tissues and wipes of all stripes get balled up with hair and grease in the city’s pipes, creating clogs that send sewage cascading from manholes. The problem has gotten worse in recent years with the introduction of wipes designed to disappear down toilets, Wastewater Treatment Superintendent T.J. Lynch said.

"What we see a lot of times in the collection system are overflows caused by those types of materials that don’t degrade like they’re supposed to or they claim to," he said.

Lynch knows this from experience and because he asked the lab at the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant to test several kinds of wipes to see how quickly they break down in water.

The test, performed in March, was simple: Put a wipe or a tissue in a beaker of water with a magnet on the bottom that rotates, creating a vortex not unlike a flushing toilet. The lab put nearly a dozen products through this process, letting them spin for an hour.

Toilet paper begins to break down into a milky mush almost immediately, lab supervisor Darrell Crews said. Other items survived more or less intact. Some, such as Kleenex and other facial tissues, are well-known to people in the sewage business.

"A lot of people flush Kleenex thinking that it’s just like toilet paper," Crews said. "But I can tell you, Kleenex doesn’t break down. You can stir it, beat on it, it’s just not going to break down."

It turns out that flushable wipes don’t break down either, Crews said.

I’m not sure that public data exists around the extent of use of the wipes, but I doubt my Guelph friend is the only one sneaking around with them. Having them disposed in waste baskets beside the toilet, or elsewhere in the restroom after a clean-up probably isn’t a great public health strategy. Flushable wipes, if they breakdown and don’t lead to sewage spewing from manholes, are a good idea.