Ben Chapman

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.

I’m all for food hubs but food safety needs to be on the menu

As Ashley Chaifetz, public policy student at UNC-Chapel Hill wraps up her research on food pantries her data shows really passionate individuals (largely volunteer) who work within a food distribution system that’s not all that systematic or formal when it comes to food safety training. Kind of like the emerging world of food hubs.

The hippie, punk rock, F the man part of me loves the idea of grassroots, community-led food hubs – but my public health conscience leads me to believe that microbial food safety has to be part of the passion or hubs are doomed to fail at the first outbreak.03-25-10-food-hub

Laurie Davis, of Cornell Cooperative extension explains what food hubs are in the Press Republican:

Just what is a food hub?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines it as “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” This is a broad definition because a food hub can assume many different forms.

It might just be a building where local food is delivered, temporarily stored, then shipped back out, or longer term storage may be needed in the form of various temperature and humidity controlled coolers, freezers, etc.

There may be a commercial kitchen associated with the facility so that value-added products can be produced either by the farmers or by the food hub staff.

A storefront might be added so that the public can access food right at the hub instead of having all the food shipped out to other businesses.

It can act as a community supported agriculture (CSA) location or it might just focus on supplying restaurants, schools and institutions such as hospitals and prisons.

Another idea would be to include space for education, training producers and consumers in efficient methods of local food production and delivery. Its shape will be defined by the needs of the surrounding community.

Cornell Cooperative Extension recently received a grant to gather some preliminary information hopefully leading to the establishment of several food hubs in the Adirondack region. Or maybe not. The point of the study is to see how many farmers are interested and willing to sell to a food hub, what products they have and what their production capacity is.

While many think a food hub would be a great idea, few appear ready to participate. Many of our local farmers are struggling to make ends meet with full retail dollars and are understandably reluctant to shift toward wholesale pricing structures or even something in between. For a food hub to work, producers and consumers all need to be on board.

And food safety, from suppliers through distribution has to be valued.

Fine dive

Ashley Chaifetz, a PhD student studying public policy at UNC-Chapel Hill writes:

As a food policy doctoral student, I pay special attention to articles on food waste and its prevention—which includes dumpster diving. This activity is at the intersection of policies on food insecurity, waste, safety, and liability—and comes with a lot of uncertainties.   This week, Tove Danovich wrote about dumpster diving for Civil Eats:

Dumpster divers of the world, unite. Last week, food waste activist Rob Greenfield offered to pay the fines and bring some media attention to anyone who gets arrested or ticketed for taking and eating tossed food.Image 2

Greenfield has been drawing attention to food waste by traveling the country, engaging local communities, and photographing the enormous quantities of wasted food he finds. Now he hopes more Americans will begin looking at the problem directly by trying it themselves by taking people’s fear of arrest and fines out of the equation.

“From what I can tell the main reason that people don’t dumpster dive is the fear of getting arrested or ticketed,” wrote Greenfield recently on his website.

Rob Greenfield makes an effort to remind people about the problem of food waste. At a loss rate of approximately 40%, Americans are tossing almost as much food as they consume. But, Greenfield’s suggestion that people do not dumpster dive due to fines seems ludicrous; it is probably due to the products.

The issue with dumpster diving that is often forgotten is food safety. Neither Greenfield nor any other dumpster diver can tell via taste or smell if the food was tossed due to pathogen contamination. Even when if food is thrown away due to cosmetic reasons, the dumpsters themselves are not clean and sanitized like a food contact surface. If a product contaminated with a pathogen was discarded into the dumpster, the products pulled by the dumpster divers may be contaminated as well.

Individuals concerned with food safety can take other actions to lessen food waste: consuming all of the food purchased, choosing the “reduced for quick sale” items, shopping in salvage grocery stores, or even encouraging large grocery chains to donate those items to food pantries and food banks (many which already do).

And so it goes: Marj’s closes following hepatitis A exposure event

When a restaurant’s food safety practices are called into question isn’t usually good business. The restaurant industry isn’t the most stable at the best of times.

Anecdotally, vocal and passionate community members support a local diner or meeting place, even after illnesses; but sales still often plummet.

In 2010, salmonellosis hit 60+ patrons of a Durham, NC BBQ joint, Bullocks. Sam Poley, marketing director for the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau said, “This is a long-standing restaurant … 58 years in business … never had anything less than an ‘A’ health rating.” Sales dropped 80% and the usually busy restaurant was close to empty.logo

Three days after being linked to a hepatitis A exposure (where an ill cook was diagnosed with the virus, Marj’s, the Alma, Ontario institution closed it’s doors. According to CTV, owner Keith McLean released the following statement:

There are several factors for Marj’s Village Kitchen Inc. closing, economic times, the remote location for winter traffic, the restaurant has been struggling financially and now the reputation has been tainted.

There has been a serious cash flow problem resulting from this last incident. It is important that staff and patrons seek medical attention, even though the chances are next to nil of contracting this condition from Marj’s.

There has been an outpouring of concern about Marj’s. Management would thank those individuals for their past patronage plus their well wishes. Thank you sincerely.

 

 

Bakery owner: It’s easy to follow the rules; good food safety is about staff who care

Employing good food safety at retail is a combination of folks identifying risks and putting in mitigation steps to address them. The rub is that you need to cultivate a good staff who values the stuff that keeps patrons from getting sick. The science and guidance is relatively easy compared to the people stuff.

Mad Eliza’s Cakes and Confections, a pastry and bakery shop in Topeka, KS sorta has the people stuff figured out, according to cjonline.com.bakery-www

“It doesn’t matter what it is,” said co-owner Mark Murnahan, “I’m going to see it if it’s dirty.”

Murnahan said he has pretty high standards for his kitchen staff of four and constantly monitors everything to make sure they are in compliance. The KDA food guidelines, he said, are never farther than his laptop.

“I don’t want to serve anything I wouldn’t serve to my 98-year-old grandma or my 1-year-old son or anyone in between,” he said.

To accomplish that, Murnahan said, “training is critical” — and so is having a staff that cares about what it is serving.

“You have to know someone will take direction and have pride in what they serve,” he said. “Anyone who really wants to learn, the first thing they need to learn is food safety.”

“Anybody can have a good inspection,” Murnahan said. “It’s not hard to follow the rules. There are a lot, but once you know them, they’re really not hard to follow.”

Handwashing matters: Atlanta area Hibachi Express fails reinspection

I’m often critical of the retail/foodservice’s focus on temperatures (cooking, cooling, holding) as the biggest noncompliance area, which gets extrapolated to what needs to be controlled.

Out of temp foods are easier to inspect for than cross-contamintation and hygiene: they are measured with a thermometer and don’t require observation of the act – so the relative number of data points skews  compliance data towards temperature control. Also, norovirus is so prevalent (70% of the foodborne outbreaks are associated with food service) and temps don’t really matter with that pathogen. hand_washing

Looking for, and shutting a place down because of, poor handwashing is good.

Gwinnett County health officials suspended service at a Lawrenceville Hibachi Express and conducted on-site food safety training after the restaurant failed a second inspection in less than 10 days.

According to the inspection report, employees were not washing their hands when re-entering the food prep area after returning from the restroom.

Hibachi Express, 1417 Grayson Highway, Lawrenceville, scored 46/U on the follow-up inspection. The restaurant scored 63/U on a routine inspection seven days earlier, and prior to that had an 81/B.

Also, one of the restrooms had been turned into a sleeping area and was also used to store toilet paper and napkins. The other one was being used as a unisex restroom, the inspector said.

I don’t want my napkins stored in someone’s bedroom.

Seen and heard: Hepatitis A exposure in Ontario

Line-ups usually seen at the Fergus curling club or Legion bar – not at the offices of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (below, exactly as shown). Following the report of a hepatitis A-positive cook at Marj’s, an Alma, Ontario (that’s in Canada) diner, public health officials have been busy issuing protective IgG shots to exposed patrons.

According to The Record, at least 600 shots were given Friday AM before supplies ran out. And an additional 150 when stock was replenished.B821841584Z.1_20150123191304_000_GGS1DL62B.2_Gallery

The shots are effective and reduce the risk of illnesses. Earlier this month, a similar exposure incident in New Jersey resulted in additional cases amongst folk who didn’t stand in line for shots.

“It’s unfortunate, really,” said Joanne Hall, a clerk of session at the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church down the street from the restaurant. “It’s a business, and something like this is not something you ask for. It can happen anywhere. As a small community we will support them, and help them get back on their feet.”

Anyone who dined at Marj’s between Jan. 2 and Jan. 20—the period when there was the highest likelihood of infection— was advised to get vaccinated to prevent infection.

Marj’s was closed on Friday, but not due to a public health order. Health officials inspected the premises on Thursday and cleared it. The restaurant’s owner, Keith Mclean, was not immediately available for comment. There were a number of people in the back of the diner Friday who appeared to be readying it for business. 

John Goforth lives just around the corner from Marj’s and eats there occasionally. He has not dined there this month and is not getting the vaccination.

“It’s a really good place, with good people and good food,” he said. “There was nothing they could do about this (except require vaccinations for their staff? -ben), and I hope it doesn’t hurt them. It’s been there forever, and it’s a great place.” 

“I think it was just a fluke,” Arsene Pick said Friday after getting the shot. He lives in Elora and dines occasionally at Marj’s. “It was just one of the cooks there that caught it and nobody knew. I hope it doesn’t hurt their business.”

Sharon Grose was in the outside lineup Friday. She said Marj’s is legendary in Alma, and is frequented by people from all around the town, especially in the farming community, and by travellers on their way to cottages further north. 

“This is a small price to pay to make sure you’re safe,” she said, speaking of waiting in the lineup for the vaccine. She had been waiting for about 40 minutes. “I don’t think this will hurt Marj’s. I hope not. They have a solid record for good food. This is just a matter of people being cautious.” 

Canadians are so nice.

Marj’s in Alma, Ontario source of hepatitis A exposure

When I was a grad student I played in a few co-ed slopitch baseball tournaments close to Guelph, Ontario (that’s in Canada). These tournaments consisted of a lot of beer drinking and my team (which completed in the Guelph restaurant league) wasn’t great. We played one tournament in Palmerston and on the way home we stopped for greasy hamburgers at a place called Marj’s in Alma. I don’t remember much about the meal. Just that we stopped.logo

Marj’s, according to the Guelph Mercury, is dealing with a hepatitis A exposure situation.

Anyone who ate at Marj’s Village Kitchen in Alma between Jan. 2 and 20 is advised to get a Hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reports. 

Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health, has confirmed that an employee at the restaurant has a confirmed case of Hepatitis A and anyone who ate there in the first part of January could be at risk of infection.

“The source is no longer working at the restaurant so there is no further risk at this restaurant,” Mercer said in an interview. “We are not out to be punitive.

“But Marj’s is extremely popular—it’s always busy. There could be many hundreds who have been exposed.”

Mercer is urging customers who ate at the restaurant between Jan. 2 and Jan. 20 to get a Hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible.

CAFP Symposium January 22, 2015 at NC State: Linda Harris headlines

If you will be in the N.C. State University/Raleigh area tomorrow (January 22) come on out to a 2hr afternoon Carolina Association for Food Protection sponsored symposium – with friend of barfblog Linda Harris as the headliner. Event Title: Carolina Association for Food Protection symposium.

Keynote by Dr. Linda Harris (UC Davis): Food Safety Considerations for Nuts Produced in the United StatesIMG_0521

Location: Schaub G40 (driving directions below)

Event Date & Time:

Thursday January 22

2:30-4:30pm

Event Description:

The Carolina Association for Food Protection hosts a symposium highlighting food safety issues for the food safety community and partners. The event includes four speakers:

2:30- 2:45 Matt Moore (PhD candidate, NCSU, FBNS): Use of a Nucleic Acid Aptamer-based Method to Study Thermal Inactivation of Human Norovirus

2:45- 3:00 Chip Manuel (PhD candidate, NCSU, FBNS): Rapid Destruction of Human Norovirus Capsid and Genome Occurs during Exposure to Copper-containing Surfaces

3:00-3:30 Brett Weed (State Liaison, Food and Drug Administration): Careers in food safety regulation

3:30-4:30 Linda Harris  (Cooperative Extension Specialist in Microbial Food Safety, UC Davis; Vice-President IAFP): Food Safety Considerations for Nuts Produced in the United States.

The first two talks are from students who won 1st place awards in the International Association for Food Protection’s (IAFP) 2014 Developing Scientist Competition.

Refreshments and snacks will be provided

Contact:

Ben Chapman
benjamin_chapman@ncsu.edu
919 515 8099

Let me know if you are planning on making it (for parking instructions).

From Durham, Chapel Hill and points west
    • Take I-40 east to Raleigh.
    • Take Exit 289 – Wade Avenue.
    • Continue on this freeway a few miles, pass underneath the beltline (I-440), and go through two stoplights.
    • Turn right at the third stoplight, onto Faircloth Street.
    •  Haircloth turns into Gorman St.
    • Turn left at the second stoplight, Sullivan Drive. 
    • Continue ~ a mile Schaub is on the right hand side.
    • Park off of Sullivan drive in the West Lot or West Deck

From Clayton, Benson and points east
    • Take I-40 West to Raleigh.
    • Take Exit 295 – Gorman Street.
    • Turn right at the foot of the exit onto Gorman Street.
    • Continue a couple of miles and cross Western Boulevard; the campus will be on your right.
    • Turn right at Sullivan Drive. 
    • Continue ~ a mile Schaub is on the right hand side.
    • Park off of Sullivan drive in the West Lot or West Deck

CAFP Symposium January 22, 2015 at NC State: Linda Harris headlines

If you will be in the N.C. State University/Raleigh area tomorrow (January 22) come on out to a 2hr afternoon Carolina Association for Food Protection sponsored symposium – with friend of barfblog Linda Harris as the headliner. Event Title: Carolina Association for Food Protection symposium.

Keynote by Dr. Linda Harris (UC Davis): Food Safety Considerations for Nuts Produced in the United StatesIMG_0521

Location: Schaub G40 (driving directions below)

Event Date & Time:

Thursday January 22

2:30-4:30pm

Event Description:

The Carolina Association for Food Protection hosts a symposium highlighting food safety issues for the food safety community and partners. The event includes four speakers:

2:30- 2:45 Matt Moore (PhD candidate, NCSU, FBNS): Use of a Nucleic Acid Aptamer-based Method to Study Thermal Inactivation of Human Norovirus

2:45- 3:00 Chip Manuel (PhD candidate, NCSU, FBNS): Rapid Destruction of Human Norovirus Capsid and Genome Occurs during Exposure to Copper-containing Surfaces

3:00-3:30 Brett Weed (State Liaison, Food and Drug Administration): Careers in food safety regulation

3:30-4:30 Linda Harris  (Cooperative Extension Specialist in Microbial Food Safety, UC Davis; Vice-President IAFP): Food Safety Considerations for Nuts Produced in the United States.

The first two talks are from students who won 1st place awards in the International Association for Food Protection’s (IAFP) 2014 Developing Scientist Competition.

Refreshments and snacks will be provided

Contact:

Ben Chapman
benjamin_chapman@ncsu.edu
919 515 8099

Let me know if you are planning on making it (for parking instructions).

From Durham, Chapel Hill and points west
    • Take I-40 east to Raleigh.
    • Take Exit 289 – Wade Avenue.
    • Continue on this freeway a few miles, pass underneath the beltline (I-440), and go through two stoplights.
    • Turn right at the third stoplight, onto Faircloth Street.
    •  Haircloth turns into Gorman St.
    • Turn left at the second stoplight, Sullivan Drive. 
    • Continue ~ a mile Schaub is on the right hand side.
    • Park off of Sullivan drive in the West Lot or West Deck

From Clayton, Benson and points east
    • Take I-40 West to Raleigh.
    • Take Exit 295 – Gorman Street.
    • Turn right at the foot of the exit onto Gorman Street.
    • Continue a couple of miles and cross Western Boulevard; the campus will be on your right.
    • Turn right at Sullivan Drive. 
    • Continue ~ a mile Schaub is on the right hand side.
    • Park off of Sullivan drive in the West Lot or West Deck