Posted: February 16th, 2010 - 10:26pm
by Doug Powell
What better way to celebrate World Cat Day on Feb. 17 (tomorrow, who knew?) than to suggest recipes to prepare the other white meat for deliciousness.
ANSA.it is reporting that the co-host of a popular Italian daytime cooking show was suspended on Monday for extolling the delights of cat meat during an episode last week.
Beppe Bigazzi, a food expert on La Prova del Cuoco (The Cooks' Challenge), enraged animal rights experts around the country when he gave advice on preparing ''tender, white cat meat'' in a portion of the show usually reserved for advice about nutrition.
The Italian Animal Protection Agency said they were ''satisfied'' with the timeliness of Bigazzi's suspension in view of World Cat Day on February 17.
While cat meat is illegal in Italy, it is a popular winter dish throughout China and much of Southeast Asia.
The ministry said the deaths - four in Austria and two in Germany - occurred last year and were caused by listeria, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.
The ministry said the four Austrians who died were senior citizens.
The contaminated cheese was made in the southern province of Styria by Prolactal.
It issued a recall last month and said it had halted production until the case is cleared up.
In 2009, Austria recorded 45 listeria infections that led to a total of 11 deaths.
Reuters reports tonight that in October 2009 Atlanta plant inspection found bacterial contamination and sanitation violations such as improper handling of trash and food, and insufficiently sanitized equipment, the FDA said.
The FDA's letter, dated Jan. 27, comes after the Georgia Department of Agriculture found Listeria bacteria in Eggo Buttermilk Waffles on Aug. 31.
Kellogg's plant had "significant deviations" from the manufacturing practices for food manufacturers and Kellogg's response so far had not addressed the violations, the agency wrote.
Kellogg said on Tuesday it has fully addressed all of the violations and that its response to the FDA letter would be filed shortly.
Posted: February 16th, 2010 - 3:19pm
by Doug Powell
Media outlets in New York and London-lite (the Ontario version) are clamoring for improvements in restaurant inspection disclosure.
The job is easier in New York, because, as reported by nyunews.com, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced that beginning in July of 2010, restaurants in NYC will be required to display their health inspection letter grade so that it is highly visible to customers.
While gaining support from a number of people who believe the system will promote cleanliness and limit foodborne illnesses, many believe the system will be an unnecessary burden on the restaurant community. The following are reactions from managers and employees of several local restaurants.
It would be better, though, if London could afford more inspectors to ensure more frequent checks, added one owner.
In New York, managers such as Elias Bourakac of Bully's Deli said,
"I'm for it. The inspection goes through the Health Department. We passed it, we did very good. No problems, no violations."
Frank Berascha of Famous Famiglia said,
"We had almost 90 percent last year. Everything is perfect. I would have no worries."
In London-lite, the health unit is expected to announce Thursday that it will start posting inspection results online and that’s fine by restaurateurs contacted by The Free Press.
Vanessa Willis, co-owner of the Church Key said,
"I think that's exactly how it should be done. I think the community has the right to know what restaurants are working properly and what ones are not."
Felipe Gomes, owner of Aroma said conscientious eatery owners spend thousands of dollars on equipment, supplies and training to keep operations safe and healthy, and those who cut corners should be exposed, adding, "You are dealing with the health and safety of people."
Posted: February 16th, 2010 - 2:30pm
by Doug Powell
Procter & Gamble is gunning for me.
With two dogs, two cats, hardwood floors, a 1-year-old and a wife who watches the Dog Whisperer on TV, I’m the target demographic for P&G’s new campaign to replace mops and brooms with Swiffer products, featuring celebrity spokesthingy Cesar Millan.
The New York Times reports that Swiffer, the 11-year-old Procter & Gamble brand, is hiring Mr. Millan to help with a different sort of behavior modification: getting consumers to forgo traditional floor cleaning devices and buy Swiffer products.
“Mops and brooms are really what we’re going after,” said Marchoe Northern, a Swiffer brand manager, adding that women were the target consumers. “It’s really about habit adaption at first — getting the Swiffer in her house — and then habit formation.”
P&G: I’m not a woman. I’m your target. Stop being so sexist.
Posted: February 16th, 2010 - 1:48pm
by Doug Powell
Some punk in Calgary may be running around with, as the Edmonton Sun says, “a box of pins and a brain half as sharp” after the Calgary Co-op brought in police for the second time in a month over what appears to be food tampering.
Food service and retail is a tough business, one that is prone to fraud, allegations and errors.
The man with the Whopper called Burger King to ask them to pick up the more than $15,000 in medical bills that he accrued. He says someone told him that they'd get back to him in two days. That was more than a year ago, and he's still waiting.
In mid-Jan., the Co-op found sewing needles, pins and buttons found in juice bottles, cheese and bread. This time, it’s a tub of margarine with a pin-sized hole pierced straight through the lid, plastic safety film and deep into the food inside.
Rigorous food safety programs, verification and even video documentation can help anyone in the farm-to-fork food safety system improve their operations and defend against malicious attacks.
The March issue of Consumer Reports says that tests on 208 samples of salads sold in bags or plastic containers, conducted by Consumers Union revealed that 39 per cent of the salads analyzed revealed the presence of several types of bacteria, including total coliforms and Enterococcus, both found “in the human digestive tract.”
Trevor Suslow of UC Davis told the Perishable Pundit that “a normal head of lettuce is colonized, not contaminated with, a diversity of microbiota, including diverse types of bacteria. Only a small fraction of the total normal bacteria on lettuce can be grown or cultured in the lab. The total numbers of bacteria on a leaf far exceed the number of a single group like the Total Coliforms that were a prime target in the survey. A smaller subset of Total Coliform bacteria are the fecal coliforms. We eat lots and lots of microbes all the time. …
“I am certainly not a medical or public health expert and I am simplifying this quite a bit just to ensure that you are aware that a total coliform or fecal coliform doesn’t necessarily indicate fecal contamination in the plant world. Their numbers on a leaf or fruit do not relate well to risk of illness or true and serious pathogens being present. When one follows standard protocols, developed for dairy, meat, drinking water, and wastewater reclamation, for example, for enumerating total coliform populations from plants, one often gets high numbers of these plant colonizers. They are very tough to wash off…”
“Purchasing packaged salads or whole heads is a matter of personal choice. We do both in my family. I always wash loose leaf lettuces to remove any adhering soil. I never wash packaged salads. I do not support or believe that re-washing packaged salads should be a recommendation for the home consumer. A large and diverse panel of experts published a comprehensive article in 2007 detailing the scientific evidence for the lack of benefit and the greater risk of cross-contamination in the home.”
That report is available here. The conclusion is there is a greater chance of cross-contamination during the rewash of packaged greens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also states, “… there is no need to wash fresh-cut leafy greens again if they are labeled as "washed," "triple washed," or "ready-to-eat" on the package. Although not recommended, if end users do re-wash RTE fresh-cut leafy greens, having appropriate sanitary washing and drying conditions in the foodservice, retail or in-home food preparation environment to reduce the potential for cross contamination of fresh-cut RTE produce with human pathogens. “
The U.K. Food Standards Authority made a similar statement about no need for rewashing after the Brits had a row about the issue documented in Salad Smackdown ’08.
The issue is complicated, but for Consumers Union to come out with a soundbite about washing greens is great PR and lousy public policy. For journalists not to check is becoming standard for an industry in decline. For the producers of bagged leafy greens, this is an opportunity to tout your food safety efforts and market them at retail so consumers can choose.
Posted: February 15th, 2010 - 6:33pm
by Michelle Mazur
As a veterinary student at Kansas State University, I hear quite a bit about the growing demand for food animal veterinarians. With the increasing cost of tuition for vet school, it’s understanding that many of my colleagues are choosing to specialize in small animal medicine to help pay off school loans. But the looming threat of agroterrorism, emerging diseases and heightened food security shows an increased demand for food animal vets.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports, Only about 17 percent of veterinarians work in food supply, including practicing veterinarians and veterinarians working for governmental and corporate organizations. This is in contrast to the turn of the 19th century, when virtually every veterinarian was a food supply veterinarian. Moreover, research forecasts a shortfall of 4-5 percent per year in the ranks of food supply veterinarians.
Philip Lowe, from the Centre for Rural Economy at the University of Newcastle, has said the proportion of time vets in private practice spent treating animals used for food halved between 1998 and 2006 – due in part to the fact most vets run their own businesses, and pet owners have proved a more sustainable and lucrative source of income than farmers.
These programs and future opportunities will help veterinary students join the nation’s food safety task force, and hopefully also increase our knowledge base and preparedness for foreign animal diseases within the United States. This is a critical time in the veterinary world, in which veterinarians must take full advantage of their skill sets to protect the nation’s food supply.
Posted: February 15th, 2010 - 5:37pm
by Doug Powell
“Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.”
That’s from the truly terrible movie, The Godfather III (see below), but I prefer Sil’s impersonation on the truly terrific television series, The Soprano’s (right).
Safe food is food that doesn’t make you barf.
At least that’s my definition. Food safety has come to mean all things to all people, but to me, food safety is about minimizing the chemical, physical and especially microbial risks that can be found in food. The risks that make up to 30 per cent of all people in all countries barf every year (or at least that’s the number the World Health Organization says; when are those updated U.S. numbers coming out?)
Animal welfare, genetic engineering, local/organic/natural, trans fat and fat kids, these are all bandied about under the rubric of food safety, but have little or nothing to do with safety. These issues are valid on their own but are primarily about lifestyle choices and food porn. Americans love choice.
“Shut up. Shut up you Americans. You always talk, you Americans. You always talk and you talk and you say, ‘Let me tell you something,’ and ‘I just wanna say this.’ Well you’re dead now, so shut up.”
(Python food safety note: The dinner guests all died at the same time from presumably botulism in the salmon mousse. “Darling, you didn’t use canned salmon, did you?”)
Every time I focus on core food safety issues, someone tries to pull me back in to lifestyle debates. Sure I dabbled in genetic engineering and food production systems – doesn’t everyone in college – but I got enough to do focusing on the things that make people barf.
For the past week, the Intertubes have been pneumonically spewing out messages about the risks of antimicrobials in animal husbandry since a CBS News so-called special report aired on the issue.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of those persistent ag issues where -- like me crossing the border into the U.S. – every journalist or customs officer thinks she’s discovered something no one else has yet.
They’re always wrong.
Antimicrobial resistance has been on the public agenda since the Swann report of 1969. It’s a risk, it needs to be managed, just like any other risk, to maximize benefits and minimize risk.
(The capitalization and exclamation marks are from the Whole Foods original blog post, the authors and editors who apparently think their readers have disorders and need to be bashed with punctuation and capitalization)
Theo Weening, the national meat buyer for Whole Foods Market, says he “can assure our customers that our standard is: No antibiotics, EVER! We work very hard to make sure that the people who produce our meat have raised their animals without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones* or animal byproducts in the feed.”
Meat-buyer Weening fails to distinguish between the routine use of antibiotics as growth promotants and the use of antibiotics to treat animals that are sick. Should sick animals be deprived antibiotics? Wouldn’t that go against animal welfare standards?
And note the asterick beside the no growth hormone BS. At the end of the blog post, there is an asterick with the comment, “*Federal regulations prohibit the use of growth hormones in raising pigs, veal calves, bison and poultry.”
Tyson already tried this line of labeling. Didn’t work. Whole Foods is hopeless.
What I really want to know is if the Whole Foods or any other steak has been needle tenderized or not so I can adjust my cooking temperature (as verified by a tip-sensitive digital thermometer). Those are the kinds of things that make people barf.
Posted: February 14th, 2010 - 9:05pm
by Doug Powell
The Washington Post reports in tomorrow’s edition that federal officials say 225 people in 44 states and the District of Columbia are thought to have been sickened by Salmonella in imported black pepper used in the preparation of salami and other types of Italian sausage made by a Rhode Island company.
Daniele International recalled 1.2 million pounds of ready-to-eat salami on Jan. 22, after state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked the outbreak to the company's products. Daniele expanded the recall on Feb. 4 to include 23,754 additional pounds of salami products. Of those who fell ill, an estimated 26 percent have been hospitalized, officials said. No deaths have been reported. Victims of the outbreak range in age up to 93 years old, with a median age of 39. More than half, or 53 percent, have been male.
This is the second time in less than a year that an outbreak of Salmonella illness has been linked to pepper. Last March, 42 people fell ill after eating tainted white and black pepper sold by Union International Food of California.
The salami, sopressata and other products were packaged under Daniele as well as the Boar's Head and Black Bear of the Black Woods brands and were sold by several national chains, including Costco, Walmart and online through Amazon.com.
The outbreak began in July and is ongoing. Because the product has a shelf life of one year, federal health officials are concerned that the products remains tucked away in home freezers and pantry shelves.
Last month, officials at the Rhode Island Department of Health said they thought the contamination was caused by tainted black pepper that was used to coat the salami. Tests showed that the same strain of Salmonella involved in the outbreak was present in two open containers of black pepper at Daniele's plant in Burrillville, R.I.
State officials said Daniele used two suppliers, Mincing Oversees Spice and Wholesome Spices, which both bought imported black pepper. Samples of pepper from both distributors tested positive for Salmonella, according to state health officials.
"This outbreak only underscores the importance of closely monitoring food that is imported from other countries as they may not have the same food safety standards as we do," David R. Gifford, the state's director of health, said in a statement.
While the Department of Agriculture regulates salami, the Food and Drug Administration oversees black pepper and other food additives. An FDA spokesman said the agency does not know where the pepper originated and that its joint investigation with USDA continues.
Daniele, which has suspended salami production, said in a statement it has changed its spice suppliers and will now use only irradiated pepper, which undergoes a process designed to kill bacteria.
Posted: February 14th, 2010 - 8:43pm
by Doug Powell
barfblog is a reasonably OK name for a blog. At the time we didn’t know we’d be going up in Google searches against BARF – the ridiculously inaccurately named biologically appropriate raw food diet for pets.
Salmonella doesn’t discriminate. The Oregonian reports that Nature’s Variety, headquartered in Lincoln, Neb., is pulling its chicken formula raw frozen diet for both dogs and cats. The chicken was sold in retail stores nationwide and online.
The company said it received a customer complaint about a particular batch after its pet developed digestive problems. The call prompted a salmonella test, which turned up positive in another batch of the food.
Maybe the company should have more routine testing of its products rather than waiting for pets to start barfing. And make those results public.
Posted: February 14th, 2010 - 6:55pm
by Doug Powell
Tomorrow’s USA Today talks about the new school lunch rules coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture by this summer (sorry, kids already in school).
USDA official Craig Morris told program suppliers at a National Meat Association conference here last week that much work remains to ensure that food purchased for the National School Lunch Program — in particular, ground beef — is "as safe, wholesome and high quality" as the best commercial products.
Beef industry representatives here said they could adapt to the new standards but pressed the USDA to move fast so they know what changes will be required.
The new standards follow a USA TODAY investigation that revealed that beef bought by the USDA for school lunches is not tested as rigorously for bacteria and pathogens as beef bought by many fast-food chains. The newspaper also reported that some food producers have been allowed to continue supplying the school lunch program despite having poor safety records with their commercial products.
But as I like to harp, the big news, repeated in the USA Today story, is that Cargill and a company it owns, Beef Packers, are trialing the use of third-party video audits not just for animal welfare but to enhance food safety systems.
However, the third-party bit really doesn’t matter -- haven’t there been enough outbreaks involving third-party audited farms and facilities? Just create a credible and transparent system to enhance consumer and buyer confidence. And don’t wait for the government to do it.
Posted: February 14th, 2010 - 2:09pm
by Doug Powell
There are lots of things that make people barf besides foodborne illness.
When I read that 15 people showed up at the Flagler County hospital – near Daytona Beach, Florida -- on Saturday complaining of nausea and vomiting, I thought, amateur Canadian students who can’t handle their drink. The Daytona 500 is today, and this weekend marks the beginning of spring break for many Canadian university students and the annual pilgrimage to Daytona Beach.
But then I read in the News-JournalOnline that three of the sick people were children who attend Rymfire Elementary School in Palm Coast and I figured it wasn’t students partying.
Health Department officials have begun taking food histories of the patients to see if they have anything in common or if foodborne illness can be ruled out.
Posted: February 14th, 2010 - 7:21am
by Doug Powell
There’s a scene in the fabulous 2003 movie, Almost Famous, where the band gets new T-shirts, and only the lead guitar player is discernable in the group pic – the rest of the band are the out-of-focus guys.
The bass player, tired of the band angst, says, “I just want to go get some barbeque.”
And why not. The fictional band is in real Topeka (Kansas).
- A falta de saneamento ou contaminação cruzada pode ter causado o fechamento.
- Listeria Monocytogenes pode ser letal para idosos.
- Em 2008, 43 indivíduos ficaram doente e 22 morreram durante uma epidemia de Listeria em carne processada no Canadá. A idade média das vítimas era 77.
Folhetos de Segurança Alimentar são criados semanalmente e são colocados em restaurantes, atacados, fazendas e usados em treinamentos por todo o mundo.
Se você quiser solicitar qualquer tópico para o próximo folheto ou foto, por favor, contatar Ben Chapman em Benjamin_chapman@ncsu.edu . Você pode seguir as histórias dos folhetos de segurança alimentar e barfblog em twitter @benjaminchapman e @barfblog.
Posted: February 13th, 2010 - 10:05pm
by Doug Powell
Amy started barfing about 10 p.m. Thursday night. Daughter Sorenne woke up about 6 a.m., covered in barf. I felt fine, did laundry and chores, fed Sorenne some stuff about 9 a.m. before I had to go give a lecture to the third-year Vet class.
She projectile vomited all over me.
Emma the excellent babysitter showed up at 9 a.m., I did my talk about barfblog, smelling like baby barf, and came home and took care of things.
About 11 p.m. Friday night, I started barfing.
We had friends over for dinner Thursday night, but they seem fine, so probably something we ate earlier in the week. There was perhaps some dodgy seafood, but I cooked it thoroughly, verifying the results with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.
There are so many unknowns with foodborne illness it’s amazing anything gets linked back to an original source.
There was a lot of barfing at the four-star Los Gigantes Hotel – a property exclusive to Thomson on an island belonging to Spain on the west coast.
The U.K.Telegraph reports it is alleged that Thomson failed to ensure proper hygiene standards were enforced and did not provide adequate assistance or information as to the severity of the outbreak.
Thomson said in a statement:
"In January, an independent hygiene consultant confirmed that the hotel was operating to the highest standards and concluded that a viral agent was the most probable cause of any illness. The hotel has adopted procedures set by its own consultants and local government. The hygiene consultant witnessed these and has advised that they appear to follow good practice. There is advisory documentation on personal hygiene in bedrooms and sanitising gel stations are located in the main restaurant."
Thomson said that normal booking conditions will continue to apply, therefore amendments to holidays at the hotel will be subject to charge.
That’s a polite way of saying, screw you, sickies.
Posted: February 13th, 2010 - 7:36pm
by Doug Powell
Public availability of food safety testing data underpins efforts to convince a skeptical public that a product is microbiologically safe.
Yes, testing has limitations, just like restaurant inspections, but the goal should be to figure out how best to make that information available – rather than saying people can’t have it or handle it.
Ever since the fall 2006 spinach E. coli O157:H7 outbreak – and even back to our first on-farm food safety programs with Ontario Greenhouse tomatoes, I have been a strong advocate of public data. Coupled with marketing meaningful food safety steps, data and transparency can go a long way to enhancing public confidence.
BPI founder and chairman Eldon Roth announced Friday at the National Meat Association's annual conference that the company will post on its Web site 100 per cent of its results from the processor's testing for E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella.
"We're going to be 100 percent transparent," Roth told Meatingplace in an interview following the announcement.
The first order of business, Roth said, is having third-party auditors accredit BPI's testing and sampling procedures in its four processing plants as well as laboratories the company uses. The plants will be audited one at a time, with the goal to have the first plant accredited and able to post results within two months or less, he said. The aim is to have all plants ready to do so within the next six to eight months, he added.
BPI produces approximately 600 million pounds of product per year. The industry standard for sampling is N=60, or 60 samples per lot. BPI currently has an N=167 program and plans to expand it to N=334.
"We're not promising to be perfect, but I will promise that we will be better," he told Meatingplace.
Posted: February 13th, 2010 - 5:55pm
by Ben Chapman
WRAL is reporting that 5 students have been hospitalized and more than 150 students fell ill after eating a common meal on Friday February 12. All of the ill were attending a YMCA leadership event at the Raleigh Sheraton and attended a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Some attendees reported stomach discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea early Saturday morning, Perry said. As the reports increased, conference leaders called emergency personnel. Most of the sick students were isolated, treated and returned to conference activities, Perry said. By early afternoon, about 150 students had been treated. Five had to be taken to the hospital.
Students came from across the state to attend. Conference leaders called the parents of students who got sick, and some parents had started to arrive at the Sheraton by Saturday afternoon. Organizers have provided a phone line at 1-800-834-2105 for concerned parents to call for more information.
“At this time, we don’t know the cause of the illness,” said Wake County EMS Medical Director Brent Myers. “We are working with the Wake County epidemiological team to investigate the cause of this illness. It is important that parents of the young people attending the conference know that we are taking good care of everyone.”
Perry said food poisoning could be a possibility. All the students attended a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center Friday night, he said.
Posted: February 13th, 2010 - 5:48pm
by Ben Chapman
It’s norovirus season. The highly contagious and often foodborne pathogen has restricted travel in and out of a North Carolina retirement residence. 80 residents and 50 staff members of the Croasdaile Village Retirement Community in Durham N.C. have been stricken with the virus leading to the local health department to reportedly set up a quarantine situation effective until Feb 28. (my guess is that it’s just a suggestion to reduce movement, not a lock-the-doors type of thing).
Croasdaile Village Retirement Community Executive Director Howard DeWitt said that staff first noticed the outbreak Thursday morning when multiple residents started exhibiting the same symptoms. None of the victims appear to have a life-threatening illness, he said.
Dewitt said that the Durham Health Department was called in and set up a quarantine, effective until Feb. 28.
Access to the community is being restricted, and the staff is trying keep residents separated, he said. Communal activities such as meals and worship have been curtailed. A 24-hour emergency command center has been set up in the administrative building.
The origin of the virus hasn't been determined, DeWitt said.
Infected people can shed large amounts of norovirus in their vomit and poop; shedding can sometimes occur for 3 weeks after symptoms have resolved.
The majority of reported norovirus outbreaks are associated with food service settings or events and the virus can persist on common kitchen surfaces for at least 3-6 weeks.