Our resident non-aging television personality and food safety dude, Rob Mancini, who did a MSc with me all those years ago, writes that food safety professionals have been using a number of different mediums to get the word out on food safety.
One such medium are blogs, like the one you are reading now, using current press releases to disseminate information to the masses. Others use eclectic marketing campaigns, some which are validated others not, radio, Internet, and TV.
While I am a proponent in using media to get information out in a rapid, relevant manner, TV reality shows can be misleading and often times food safety takes a back seat to sensation.
TV reality shows are a fine balance between science and fiction….. it’s about the ratings and trying to get a second season. Prior to embarking on my journey with Kitchen Crimes back in 2005, I was bombarded with emails from my colleagues not to sensationalize the facts and use weird gadgets to uncover dirt, grime, or whatever was lurking in the kitchen. Except hat doesn’t get ratings, sometimes we have to sensationalize and grasp peoples’ attention.
But it has to be done right. At least it gets people talking and thinking about food safety.
I was so sick for two weeks, although I did manage to crawl out of bed for a Neil Young show in Toronto (part of the International Harvesters tour) but then felt so sick afterwards I went home to Brantford.
One of my parent’s neighbours was my evy doctor, so I was in for a regular check-up and he detected it immediately.
Put me on some Acyclovir, which had just come out, and I was cured in no time.
Or temporarily. Viruses don’t go away.
We’re all hosts on a viral planet.
Mine has come back, in the form of a cold sore, probably because of the stress of buying a new house in an over-heated real-estate market and not selling ours.
I went to the chemist, got some drugs that aren’t really working, but at least I had that option.
Imagine 600 years ago, when Cortez from Spain dances across the water to what is now Mexico and there’s no chemist down the road.
Ewen Callaway of Nature writes one of the worst epidemics in human history, a sixteenth-century pestilence that devastated Mexico’s native population, may have been caused by a deadly form of salmonella from Europe, a pair of studies suggest.
In one study, researchers say they have recovered DNA of the stomach bacterium from burials in Mexico linked to a 1540s epidemic that killed up to 80% of the country’s native inhabitants. The team reports its findings in a preprint posted on the bioRxiv server on 8 February.
This is potentially the first genetic evidence of the pathogen that caused the massive decline in native populations after European colonization, says Hannes Schroeder, an ancient-DNA researcher at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen who was not involved in the work. “It’s a super-cool study.”
In 1519, when forces led by Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés arrived in Mexico, the native population was estimated at about 25 million. A century later, after a Spanish victory and a series of epidemics, numbers had plunged to around 1 million.
The largest of these disease outbreaks were known as cocoliztli (from the word for ‘pestilence’ in Nahuatl, the Aztec language). Two major cocoliztli, beginning in 1545 and 1576, killed an estimated 7 million to 18 million people living in Mexico’s highland regions.
“In the cities and large towns, big ditches were dug, and from morning to sunset the priests did nothing else but carry the dead bodies and throw them into the ditches,” noted a Franciscan historian who witnessed the 1576 outbreak.
There has been little consensus on the cause of cocoliztli — although measles, smallpox and typhus have all been mooted. In 2002, researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City proposed that a viral haemorrhagic fever, exacerbated by a catastrophic drought, was behind the carnage2. They compared the magnitude of the 1545 outbreak to that of the Black Death in fourteenth-century Europe.
In an attempt to settle the question, a team led by evolutionary geneticist Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, extracted and sequenced DNA from the teeth of 29 people buried in the Oaxacan highlands of southern Mexico. All but five were linked to a cocoliztli that researchers think ran from 1545 to 1550.
Ancient bacterial DNA recovered from several of the people matched that of Salmonella, based on comparisons with a database of more than 2,700 modern bacterial genomes.
Further sequencing of short, damaged DNA fragments from the remains allowed the team to reconstruct two genomes of a Salmonella enterica strain known as Paratyphi C. Today, this bacterium causes enteric fever, a typhus-like illness, that occurs mostly in developing countries. If left untreated, it kills 10–15% of infected people.
It’s perfectly reasonable that the bacterium could have caused this epidemic, says Schroeder. “They make a really good case.” But María Ávila-Arcos, an evolutionary geneticist at UNAM, isn’t convinced. She notes that some people suggest that a virus caused the cocoliztli, and that wouldn’t have been picked up by the team’s method.
Krause and his colleagues’ proposal is helped by another study posted on bioRxiv last week, which raises the possibility that Salmonella Paratyphi C arrived in Mexico from Europe.
A team led by Mark Achtman, a microbiologist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, collected and sequenced the genome of the bacterial strain from the remains of a young woman buried around 1200 in a cemetery in Trondheim, Norway. It is the earliest evidence for the now-rare Salmonella strain, and proof that it was circulating in Europe, according to the study. (Both teams declined to comment on their research because their papers have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal – good for them, dp).
“Really, what we’d like to do is look at both strains together,” says Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. And if more ancient genomes can be collected from Europe and the Americas, it should be possible to find out more conclusively whether deadly pathogens such as Salmonella arrived in the New World from Europe.
No longer tied to any sponsorship, academic or anyone.
(Chapman is, but he needs his job; I don’t).
I’m Canadian. Get used to the fucking swearing or get the fuck off.
A few years ago at the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting, I told the audience, after revealing my wife’s breast size because she asked me to shop for bras – which I did — that the audience of food safety geeks now knew more about my wife’s breast size than they knew about the food they were about to eat for dinner, where it came from, and how it was prepared.
A government-type said she couldn’t read me anymore.
Or the way 1.5 million attended my farewell blog.
But a few thousand have written in so:
After 25 years of food safety risk communication, nothing has changed.
A self-congratulating-largely-taxpayer-funded crowd to tell people food safety is their fault is not a movement.
Cut-and-paste press releases do not make a publication, regardless of medium – and I’ll take on anyone who wants to talk the medium is the message by University of Toronto prof Marshall McLuhan.
In an intensifying climate of scrutiny over food safety, the food industry is turning to “food safety culture” as a one-size-fits-all solution to protect both consumers and companies. This strategy focuses on changing employee behavior from farm to fork to fit a universal model of bureaucratic control; the goal is system-wide cultural transformation in the name of combatting foodborne illness. Through grounded fieldwork centered on the case of a regional wholesale produce market in California, we examine the consequences of this bureaucratization of food safety power on the everyday routines and lived experiences of people working to grow, pack, and deliver fresh produce. We find that despite rhetoric promising a rational and universal answer to food safety, fear and frustration over pervasive uncertainty and legal threats can produce cynicism, distrust, and fragmentation among agrifood actors. Furthermore, under the cover of its public health mission to prevent foodborne illness, food safety culture exerts a new moral economy that sorts companies and employees into categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ according to an abstracted calculation of ‘riskiness’ along a scale from safe to dangerous. We raise the concern that ‘safety’ is usurping other deeply held values and excluding cultural forms and experiential knowledges associated with long-standing food-ways. The long-term danger, we conclude, is that this uniform and myopic response to real risks of foodborne illness will not lead to a holistically healthy or sustainable agrifood system, but rather perpetuate a spiralling cycle of crisis and reform that carries a very real human toll.
Gretchen Reynolds of the NY Times writes that super-short workouts are a favorite topic in this column. I have written about seven-minute, six-minute, four-minute, and even one-minute workouts. They are appealing because they require so little time, but they also demand straining effort.
Martin Gibala is the scientist we most have to thank for the popularity of very brief, very hard exercise. All of these workouts are built around the concept of high-intensity interval training, in which you push yourself almost to exhaustion for a brief spurt of minutes or seconds, and then rest and recover for a few minutes before repeating the intense interval.
Athletes have long used interval sessions as part of a varied weekly training program to improve their competitiveness. But Dr. Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, has helped to popularize the idea that we can rely on high-intensity intervals as our only exercise, and do very, very few of them while still improving our health and fitness.
Since 2004, he has published multiple studies about the potent effects of intervals.
Deep-fried ice cream sounds like something from a U.S. state fair, where everything is deep-fried, but in times of relative truths, decreasing skepticism and declining media coverage, the idea that over 100 people in Brisbane are sick from Salmonella, and that I found out about it from a hockey parent rather than public-health types is disturbing.
Or the new normal.
We have a paper coming out in April about the importance of going public with health information, so fewer people barf, but that lesson is increasingly lost.
There has been no public reporting that I can find, but at some time, public-health types and bureaucrats will realize they are paid by taxpayers, their job is to prevent people barf, not cover and hide.
According to a hockey parent, 15 teachers are out at their son’s school after dining on deep-fried ice cream in the Sunnybank suburb of Brisbane a week or so ago.
The diagnosis is Salmonella and over 100 are believed to be sickened.
Or maybe it’s just fake news, but everyone has a camera and social media, so these stories spread.
Maybe our public health types, or their bosses, with their supers (RSP) can take some steps to protect public health, rather than their own asses.
This episode has you covered from the top of your head to the tips of your lucky socks. Ben and Don dig into some 1980’s culture and shoot forward into the food on the future, and then back again. It’s a food (and pet) safety grab bag covering pineapple safety, hand sizes and hand sanitizers, safe raw cookie dough, rats, turtles, milk from camels, microgreens and toilet history.