• Posted: April 3rd, 2012 - 12:25am by Doug Powell

    I do not like the actress Julia Roberts.

    Her movies suck, and she wasted a marriage to real talent, Lyle Lovett, back in the 1990s (but it did help Lyle create great art).

    Julia now says it was "torture" being covered in bird poo for her latest role in Mirror Mirror.

    “All that 'beauty' stuff was so disgusting.”

    Was it sterilized bird poop? Otherwise Salmonella and Campylobacter. Don’t follow the cooking or food advice of a celebrity wearing bird poop.

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    Celebrity  |  Comments
  • Posted: March 27th, 2012 - 7:13pm by Doug Powell

    I’ve been around parents and little kids for 30 years and had endless discussions about home-birth, breastfeeding, nutrition, and the consistency of baby poop.

    Bird feeding hasn’t come up.

    But you may after watching this video.

    Alicia Silverstone, the star of Clueless and dozens of failed movies, named her son Bear Blu, and decided it would be wise to tell the world she feeds her 11-month-old son by chewing on some vegan food and letting him eat it out of her mouth.

    And post the video.

    Dr. Jennifer Landa, M.D. said, “There are those who think that a mom chewing a baby’s food provides helpful enzymes from her mouth but it doesn’t seem like a hygienic practice. Various viruses and bacteria, but especially herpes virus, may be passed from mother to baby. These microbes present a challenge that the infant’s immune system may not be ready for. So the practice is questionable for safety, and then, there’s a certain ick factor here that needs to be considered.”

    Forget the minimal biological risks. This is ripe material for Freud, Jung, or AA when Care Bear gets older and has to watch this crap over and over and over.

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  • Posted: September 27th, 2009 - 1:52pm by Michelle Mazur

     Vet school doesn’t leave much time for extracurricular activities (especially during second year classes), but I try my best to stay relatively well rounded throughout these four years of academic boot camp. One of my favorite weekend activities is Cat town, a tailgating area near the football stadium here at K-State. (Doug talked about it yesterday)  Each home football game has a different Vet med-associated club volunteer to help serve food at Cat town, and yesterday’s game against Tennessee Tech was CVMF’s day (Christian Veterinary Medical Fellowship).  As a CVMF member, I helped to set up and serve lunch to the tailgaters. In typical vet student fashion, some brought their pets to the event. One of my classmates has two beautiful black-capped caiques that are always a big hit at Vet med events, and we had them strategically placed at the t-shirt selling booth to attract people to support the second year class.

    Now to defend myself, when serving I wore my food-serving plastic gloves in aseptic fashion. I didn’t touch my face with my fingers or sneeze into my hands. I wish there would’ve been hand sanitizer available before I put my gloves on, because serving food hygienically involves a combination of good hand washing and regular glove changes.  We only had one server touching food directly (handing out burger buns) and everyone else used a utensil such as a spoon, knife or tongs to serve food along with gloves. During the slower parts of the afternoon, I would take breaks to chat with people and often drift over to see the birds, Monty and Apple (right). They are very charming little creatures, so I took full advantage of holding them and kissing them (glove-free).  

    Lo and behold, who shows up to Cat town but my food-safety boss Doug Powell. He eyes my classmate and I suspiciously as we hold the birds on our fingers and give them kisses on the beak, all while enjoying burgers and cake (pretty much doing everything the CDC recommends avoiding).  Amy and Sorenne got an especially close look at the birds. In the background Doug said, “Keep that Salmonella factory away from my baby.” There’s the Doug I know, always thinking about the potential pathogens.

    Later in the afternoon I chatted with my classmate about her food safety practices with the birds. She goes on to tell me that she frequently consumes food around her birds, and has never had any sickness in the past that could be related to the birds. While feeding the birds potatoes salad from her own fork, she tells me that she may have gotten Salmonella from them in the past, but she’s been around them so much that her body may have developed a tolerance to the bacterium. She has never has them tested to see if they carry Salmonella in their feces, though most birds do.

    I’m thankful that my classmate has never had any sickness related to her birds, but that may not be the case for the rest of the nation. The young, elderly and other immunocompromised individuals are most likely to contract a zoonotic disease when handling pets. Practicing good food safety habits such as washing your hands thoroughly and cooking your meat to the proper temperature can help reduce the risk of food borne disease. Also, don’t kiss animals to allow them to lick your face, especially not in front of your boss.


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  • Posted: June 1st, 2009 - 3:54pm by Doug Powell

    Last year, with Amy’s guidance, was the first year I really started cooking with fresh herbs. Basil and tomato (and formerly cheese, right), fresh pesto, bruschetta, it’s all good.

    Except for the bird poop.

    Here are a couple of our basil leaves with some semi-fresh bird plops – similar to the ones I washed off the car earlier today. When preparing dishes with fresh herbs, wash thoroughly (which can be difficult) or cook the poop out. Or both.

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    Salmonella  |  Comments
  • Posted: December 16th, 2008 - 6:54am by Doug Powell

    The Brits and their piping hot. The Canadians and their 185F.

    No one knows where this advice comes from, yet every holiday, the soundbites are trotted out like a recurring nightmare. It’s like a song by Journey or Styx or Bryan Adams – Don’t Stop Believing, I’m Sailing Away, Summer of ’69 -- it keeps playing and it’s horrible.

    The UK Food Standards Agency
    came out with a computer screen saver yesterday that I couldn’t get to work, and just as well – it says “cook your turkey properly until the juices run clear.”

    Color is a lousy indicator: use a digital tip-sensitive thermometer and stick it in.

    Nevertheless, the communication experts at the Food Standards Agency say:

    “These are the three main ways to tell if poultry is cooked:

    * the meat should be piping hot all the way through

    * when you cut into the thickest part of the meat, none of the meat should be pink

    * if juices run out when you pierce the turkey, or when you press the thigh, they should be clear.”

    Piping hot reminds me of Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Provide some scientific validation for these statements. And is it really so hard to recommend using a thermometer?

    In Canada, where the laws of physics are somehow different, Health Canada continues to recommend cooking all the crap out of the bird until 185F. The U.S. changed its advice to 165F years ago. When asked why, Canadian government types won’t talk. It’s a secret. But then again, Canada has no Parliament. It goes away. Just keep on believing.

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    Food Safety Policy  |  Comments
  • Posted: February 15th, 2008 - 1:15pm by Ben Chapman

    The Times of India reports today that avian influenza may cost India its first grand prix badminton tournament.  The story says:

    Bird flu outbreaks in China had made India ban import of all premium goose feathers of Chinese origin to manufacture shuttlecocks.
    In a last-minute bid to save India the blushes, BAI president V K Verma has shot off letters to secretaries in the animal husbandry department and the ministries of health and agriculture, as well as to the Sports Authority of India, urging them to review the ban.

    Interesting fallout from the animal disease outbreak.
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  • Posted: September 24th, 2007 - 2:41pm by Doug Powell

    While some may argue that bird poop is natural, others may argue that bird poop is an excellent source of salmonella, campylobacter and others.

    On September 4, 2007, Dennis Wasylyszyn, an employee of Aberdeen Farm Market in Coldstream, B.C., pled guilty in provincial court to one count of violating s.4(e) of the Food and Drugs Act by selling an article of food which was manufactured or prepared under unsanitary conditions. Mr. Wasylyszyn was fined $2000 for this violation.

    The Canadian Food Inspection Agency explains that Mr. Wasylyszyn was preparing fresh, unpasteurized apple juice with a machine that was protected only by an open-raftered roof supported by four beams. The processing area was open to the air and there were indications birds were roosting in the rafters above the machine.

    There was no evidence of illness related to consumption of the juice.
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