“We’re going to check the burger with our hands here”

YouTube is awesome. Not just for watching music videos of Norwegians dancing in fox suits or trucks smashing into bridges. It’s just about the best place to see folks modeling risky burger cooking practices.logo_stec

Ben Raymond, MS student, is in the middle of what may end up being an excruciating project of collecting and coding online how-to-cook burger videos.

He sent me the below message today about an eHow video staring school executive chef Brad Newman (below, exactly as shown):

Here’s a great example of the stuff we see in these videos. He’s a chef, he “he helps public schools improve their food programs by training staffs and speaking with students about responsible eating” and is a food safety failure.

He grabs the raw ground and within seconds is literally holding it against the bun he uses for the burger.

The best line “learn your meat, once you learn it youll have it forever” in reference to checking doneness by firmness of the meat.

And at 4:01 you can see him cut into what he describes as the perfect (non-temped) medium rare burger.
USDA NIFA has funded this project (the mining and coding of burger-related YouTube videos) as part of the STEC CAP grant. We will also be creating our own evidence-based videos based on the findings.

Rat sipping Starbucks syrup

Starbucks has instituted several new procedures in response to a YouTube video shot April 21 which shows what’s believed to be a black rat inside the Terra Nova Starbucks (that’s in B.C., in Canada), searching for food while walking on the counter amongst the syrups.

Steve Chong, Richmond’s chief public health inspector, said that an environmental health officer met with Starbucks management on Tuesday morning to deal with the concerns.

"Based on the inspection today, there is no indication that there’s a rodent infestation," Chong told The Richmond Review.

Chong said the pest control employee noted some rodent access points, which have now been pest-proofed.

Chong believes from the grainy images that it was a black rat seen foraging around the syrups in the YouTube video. They wander up to 100 yards from their home.

That rat’s got happy feet.

Food tube: Coverage of food safety issues through video

A couple of ag journalism types from Nebraska and Ohio State have the right idea — although I’m not sure it’s completely executed — in a new paper examining the role of YouTube videos in food safety.

Emily Rhoades and Jason D. Ellis write in the Journal of Food Safety that food safety in restaurants is an increasing concern among consumers. A primary population segment working in foodservice is receiving food safety information through new media channels such as video social network websites. This research used content analysis to examine the purpose and messages of food safety-related videos posted to YouTube. A usable sample of 76 videos was identified using “food safety” in the YouTube search function. Results indicate that videos must be artfully developed to attract YouTube users while conveying a credible and educational message. Communicators must also monitor new media for competing messages being viewed by target audiences and devise strategies to counter such messages. This one-time snapshot of how food safety was portrayed on YouTube suggests that the intended purpose of videos, whether educational or entertainment, is not as relevant as the perceived purpose and the message being received by viewers.

I have no idea what this means. There’s a lot of BS in the paper about where foodborne illness happens and how consumers are motivated and the authors seem hopelessly stuck in the educational framework. But at least they are looking at different media. Too bad the message sucks.

Marshall McLuhan had it right when he said that those who try to distinguish between entertainment and education don’t know the first thing about either.

Does it suck or not? USDA’s version of protect your baby and yourself from listeriosis

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, eager to groove with the youtube generation but without the grossness that thrives online, released a video today highlighting the potential for certain foods to cause listeriosis in pregnant women.

I don’t know if it works so I asked Chapman. He said the video doesn’t spend enough time on deli meats, the food that risk assessments have shown was much riskier than others. He also said it’s not bad, but somewhat patronizing, but he’s also not a pregnant woman.

For which we are all grateful.

I asked a former pregnant woman, Amy, to look at the video. She said,

“The voices are crazy. I love the idea that she had her baby while they were filming.

“Why do they pick such a boring male narrator? Like I want to listen to him tell me about what not to eat.

“He sounds like he should be the voice of the Pork Bureau.”

These are anecdotal responses. I look forward to USDA releasing the results of their video evaluation research so taxpayers can be assured these attempts at video aren’t just wasting time and money.

Does Domino’s Pizza get new media?

Domino’s Pizza posted a youtube response last night and has moved quickly to douse the Internet-fanned yuckiness of poop in its pizza.

But when Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre told USA Today today the company is considering banning video cameras in stores, I wonder if they actually understand this social networking stuff – and that anyone can have a video camera on their cell phone.

The USA Today piece explains that two Domino’s employees in Conover, N.C. — fired and facing charges — posted a video on YouTube on Monday that shows one of them doing gross things to a Domino’s sub sandwich he is making, such as sticking cheese pieces up his nose and passing gas on the salami.

Although Domino’s is getting fairly high marks from social-networking and crisis-management types about its response, McIntyre told the N.Y. Times today that company executives initially decided not to respond aggressively, hoping the controversy would quiet down.

Scott Hoffman, the chief marketing officer of the social-media marketing firm Lotame, said in social media, “if you think it’s not going to spread, that’s when it gets bigger.”

That’s actually traditional media 101, but sure, dress it up with terms like new and social media.
By Wednesday afternoon, Domino’s had created a Twitter account, @dpzinfo, to address the comments, and it had presented its chief executive in a video on YouTube by evening (see below).

Yet more than one commentator has said the video may make things worse.

Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle fails to look into the camera. Instead his eyes peer at 45 degrees, presumably in the direction of a script. The effect is not reassuring. What is even more unfortunate for Domino’s is that the posting of the video apology has caused even more YouTube commentary about the company, some of it extremely unflattering.

However, marketers are getting an instant lesson in the dangers of an online world where just about anyone with a video camera and a grudge can bring a company to its knees with lightning speed.

Here are key things experts say marketers can do to quickly catch and respond effectively to similar social-networking attacks:

• monitor social media;

• respond quickly;

• respond at the flashpoint (Domino’s first responded on consumer affairs blog The Consumerist, whose readers helped track down the store and employees who made the video);

• educate workers about social media;

• foster a positive culture; and,

• set clear guidelines.

We covered many of the same points in our Food Technology paper about food safety blogging that appeared earlier this year.

Domino’s YouTube pizza ‘prank:’ arrest warrants issued

Arrest warrants have been issued for Kristy and Michael, the two former Domino’s employees who had their 15-minutes of Internet fame yesterday.

The videos are available at GoodAsYou, including one of Michael wiping his ass with a sponge and then using it to clean a pan, and another in which Kristy says, "Did you all see that? He just blew a booger on those sandwiches.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that Catawba County health inspection records show the Domino’s in Conover, on 10th Street N.W., has a very good sanitation rating — 96.5. In fact, its last four inspections have produced scores ranging from 95.5 to 97.5.

Domino’s officials and Catawba County health department inspectors took nothing to chance late Tuesday, sanitizing all equipment in the restaurant and throwing away all opened food items.

NewsChannel 36, the Observer’s news partner, said Kristy sent an email to Domino’s officials, saying it was a prank and that she and Michael never would prepare food that way — in contrast to what they said on the video.

Domino’s officials responded to the video Tuesday, sending out a news release that said, “We are appalled by the actions of these individuals and they do not represent the 125,000 hard-working men and women of Domino’s Pizza across the country and in 60 countries around the world.”

If I was a tomato grower, this is what I would say — but only if it were true

I started worked with Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers in 1998. The general manager at the time, Denton Hoffman, saw the U.S. export market growing rapidly, and told me of his recurring nightmare … one he wanted to prevent.

"The phone rings and it’s a retailer on the U.S. east coast. He says he’s got a customer who says she got sick from eating my Ontario greenhouse tomatoes. What do I say?"

That was the challenge Denton laid out for my group in 1998. Using a risk analysis approach, we assessed the risks for all 220 or so Ontario greenhouse producers, developed management schemes, and communicated what we were doing to buyers, consumers, whoever.

We learned lots of things about building trust with individual growers (which means visiting their farms, not plopping them in a classroom and trying to make them HACCP experts), coming up with practical, farm-based solutions, and being on call 24/7 for when those phone calls come in (that’s me and Amber Leudtke, back in about 2001, in a greenhouse, above right).

But I could never get the group to take the final step and really promote their food safety program. I suggested putting a url on the stickers at retail that would link to a series of videos showing whoever wanted to see them the food safety practices undertaken by the growers.

During the latest Salmonella-in-tomatoes outbreak, a rep for Nature Sweet, a grower in San Antonio e-mailed me and said, what should we do? This grower does great things for food safety. So I told her.

The rep wrote me back last week and said,

"I spoke with you last week briefly about the tomato outbreak.  You made the suggestion about putting our company’s safety practices on blogs, YouTube, etc.  Well, we took your advice and have created a video that is up on YouTube.  Here is the link to the video if you’re interested to view it, http://www.youtube.com/naturesweettomatoes."

The video is also below. Sure, I’d rather see a farmer than the marketing dude, and the intro will have to be redone for future use, but the rest is great.

And they spelled it out in a press release:

Our greenhouse growing practices are the foundation of our food safety program:

• The water supply used in our greenhouses is self-contained, filtered, and secure. Water from each well and each greenhouse farm is continuously monitored and tested for purity by our staff and by third party experts.
• We use only natural fertilizers.

• Our tomatoes are picked under sanitary conditions.

• Food safety begins with the seed. Our tomato seeds are always naturally selected, disinfected and germinated under sanitary conditions.

• Within each greenhouse, we control and monitor all intakes – water, nutrients, and pest control.

In addition to our greenhouse practices, we also employ the following food safety initiatives:

• Regulate all aspects of tomato production and processing, as well as employ the best agricultural practices.

• Monitor all of our systems continuously to ensure that our produce exceeds the highest food safety standards and FDA guidelines. In addition to our adherence to HACCP-based safety practices, we follow rigorous training, growing, packing, and shipping standards.

• Use a food safety coding system that provides us with traceability of every case and pallet of tomatoes to the greenhouse in which they are grown. In addition, each individual selling unit has a comprehensive food safety tracking code.

• Test, monitor, and audit our products, our water, our processes, and our procedures regularly with staff and third-party experts.

I can quibble about details. But it’s a great start, and, like transparency in risk assessments, now that it’s out there, it can be improved. It’s a lot better than just telling consumers to wash their tomatoes or it’s local so it’s safe.

Queen Liz hip to YouTube

Amy and I finally got around to watching Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning performance last night in The Queen, which documents the U.K. Royal family’s initially stultified response to the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

About an hour later, I e-mailed Ben Chapman, and said this is a good study in risk communication, we can use it in the classes we teach.

Today, the 81-year-old Queen Elizabeth II once again proved herself adaptable — at least more nimble than most American food producers, especially spinach growers — and launched her own special Royal Channel on YouTube.

The Associated Press reports that the queen will use the popular video-sharing website to send out her 50th annual televised Christmas message, which she first delivered live to the nation and its colonies on Dec. 25, 1957.

I was born in 1962 in the colony of Canada, and it was a Christmas tradition when I was young to watch the Queen’s broadcast on Christmas Day at my very English grandparents’ house, and then cuddle up with my grandmother over a heat register behind the couch and watch the Toronto Maple Leafs — the same Leafs who last won hockey’s Stanley Cup in 1967.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement today,

"The queen always keeps abreast with new ways of communicating with people. The Christmas message was podcast last year."

On Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth II’s annual Christmas speech can once again be downloaded as a podcast from www.royal.gov.uk. It also is being made available on television in high definition for the first time.

American baseball pitcher Roger Clemens has also continued his campaign to refute allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs on Sunday as he released a video and agreed to an interview that will air on “60 Minutes."

Kids love the video.