Food Safety Talk 100: No buns in the bathroom

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University.  Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.1459283728049

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.1461946810971

Episode 100 can be found here and on iTunes.

Here is a bulleted list of link to the topics mentioned on the show:

Jessica Alba sued over ‘unsafe’ baby food

Taking nutritional advice from a celebrity is like driving over a bridge constructed by an “alternative, all natural engineer.”

Jessica-Alba-Interview-About-Honest-CompanyBut, people do.

So it’s ironical that D-lister Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company is facing fresh legal action over organic baby food – from the Organic Consumers Association.

OCA filed a complaint at Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this month on “behalf of the general public” claiming The Honest Company bosses have been falsely labelling their Organic Premium Formula as organic, according to New York gossip column Page Six.

OCA lawyers claim the product contains 11 substances which are prohibited from organic foods under federal law.

On their website, they also state, “Some of the ingredients are federally regulated as hazardous compounds. At least one is irradiated. And some have not even been assessed as safe for human foods, much less for infant formulas.”

The group want the company to be prohibited from selling the product as organic, and to cover their legal fees.

News of the legal action comes as Jessica was named as the first-ever recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year prize at the 2016 Webby Awards for her natural lifestyle firm, which she founded four years ago.

 

Thank you Mel Gibson and Dr. Ozß: Dietary supplements and nonprescription drug products may harm you, natural doesn’t mean safe

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that if you buy imported products marketed as “dietary supplements” and nonprescription drug products from ethnic or international stores, flea markets, swap meets or online, watch out. Health fraud scams mel.gibson.supplementsabound.

And in the U.S. too.

According to Cariny Nunez, M.P.H., a public health advisor in the Office of Minority Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health scammers often target advertising to people who prefer to shop at nontraditional places, especially those who have limited English proficiency and limited access to health care services and information.

“These scammers know that ethnic groups who may not speak or read English well, or who hold certain cultural beliefs, can be easy targets,” Nunez says. For example, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians and Africans may have a long tradition of turning to more herbal or so-called “natural” remedies. Many advertisers put the word “natural” somewhere on the package of a product, knowing it inspires trust in certain groups.

But just because a product claims to be natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe, says Gary Coody, R. Ph., FDA’s national health fraud coordinator. Likewise, just because a product claims to be natural does not mean that it’s free of hidden drug ingredients.

Furthermore, these products may also be contaminated or contain potentially harmful chemicals or drug ingredients not listed on the label.

For example, many products that claim to help people lose weight contain hidden and dangerous prescription drug ingredients such as sibutramine. Sibutramine was in Meridia, a formerly FDA-approved drug that was removed from the market in October 2010 because clinical data indicated it posed an increased risk of heart problems and strokes.

Fancy food ain’t safe food, Brisbane rock ‘n roll edition: ‘Live roaches inside the drinking straws’

A trendy restaurant in Brisbane’s inner city which has been a magnet for rock ‘n’ roll types has admitted live cockroaches were running around its kitchen after pleading guilty to breaching food safety laws.

Libertine in The Barracks French-Vietnamese restaurant Libertine in The Barracks on Petrie Terrace was prosecuted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and on February 5, admitted to eight breaches of food health laws in court that day.

The company, owned by Andrew Baturo, was fined $15,000.

Brisbane City Council’s Acting enforcement coordination manager Stephen Thomson told Magistrate Suzette Coates that he found more than a dozen live cockroaches and many more dead ones in 12 locations around the kitchen and pantry when he inspected on July 14, 2014.

He found “live cockroaches inside the drinking straws” kept under the stainless steel bench located on the right hand side of the kitchen near the door leading from the kitchen to the dining area.

Mr Thomson also found a dead cockroach inside a food preparation fridge, a live cockroach on the door steal of another fridge and a live adult cockroach on wall of the dry storage area.

Chipotle closed for wankfest

That was a boring super bowl, full of gimmicks and a quarterback pushing Bud Light as his soundbite, but it won’t be as boring as Chipotle’s two-hour wankfest when they close their almost 2,000 outlets for a food safety pep talk.

kenny.diarrheaIt’s not food safety, it’s a marketing gimmick (which is how Chipotle has been getting money all along).

Chipotle is closed for the next couple of hours.

And they’re going to show how much they know about food safety risk communication.

Or how bad their PR consultants are.

The meeting will go over an improved farm-to-fork food safety program, which the chain implemented in January. It includes paid sick leave to make sure employees will stay home when they’re sick, DNA-based testing of ingredients before they’re shipped to restaurants and some changes in food preparation protocols.

Why didn’t they do this before?

Because there’s money to be made in marketing hucksterism.

Ask Dr. Oz.

About 500 people got sick last year from outbreaks due to Norovirus, E. coli O26 and Salmonella,, including an entire basketball team at Boston College. Some of the sickened diners have sued Chipotle. Profits plunged 44% in the fourth quarter compared to the year before. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the company for possible criminal activity.

Oh, they’ll also be launching a new website today, according to the aptly named Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief creative and development officer.

“The creative for this campaign, with one small exception, does not mention food safety or the recent incidents,” he said. “Instead, it reinforces our commitment to high-quality ingredients and great-tasting food.”

Market food safety. High-quality ingredients don’t mean shit (literally and metaphorically).

Beating up on Chipotle and hucksterism gets tiring. So let John Oliver do it.

Spoiler alert: 15-minute “sexy” burger on Top Chef LCK

(Technical difficulties: Written by Amy Hubbell not me — dp).

In Episode 5 of Bravo’s Last Chance Kitchen, Top Chef’s online spinoff, Tom Colicchio challenged the three chefs to make their best burger in 15 minutes.

One chef chose lamb, one chose to grind pork belly and mix it with beef, and the other did a beef and pork patty.

The food safety nerd in me knew there would be no time for thermometers and wondered how 15 minutes could be long enough to do all the prep and properly cook the meat. Yet among the chefs, there is a lot of talk about fear of overcooking the burgers.

Watch the tasting from the 8-minute mark here: http://www.bravotv.com/last-chance-kitchen/season-5/videos/lck-ep-5-a-delicious-burger

raw burger TopChef LCKep5When Tom cuts into the center of Burger #3, the beef-pork mix, it is apparently raw inside. “It’s a little raw dog,” says one competitor. “No! I think that’s a pretty sexy slice right there,” retorts Tom as he gobbles it.

Colicchio eating burger

And the raw burger wins. Tom apparently hasn’t died from E. coli yet.

Where’s the food safety? Food porn makes bucks for Instagrammers

Like many Instagram users, Natalie Landsberg, Gillian Presto and Emily Morse frequently posted photos of what they were eating.

paris.food.pornBut as their joint account @New_Fork_City took off, they found themselves with nearly 500,000 followers, and soon, free restaurant meals, gigs “curating” food for a music festival and an offer to create their own cookie-dough flavor.

The three 19-year-olds, who started the account in high school, are now in college, and their modest Instagram earnings aren’t footing their tuition bills yet. But their parents spent almost $15,000 to trademark the New_Fork_City name and create a limited liability company, “so down the road, if there is an opportunity to figure out a financial business model, the company is established,” said Ms. Presto’s father, Michael Presto.

Meet the professional food Instagrammers, courted by restaurants for their six-figure followings and stylish, sometimes over-the-top photography. Some have turned their accounts into full- or part-time professions, earning up to $350 for posting a flattering image, while others have parlayed their social-media savvy into free meals or public-relations jobs.

heidi.food.porn.carl's.jr“There are people who decide on where they want to go out to eat by their Instagram feed, and that’s a fact that we in the hospitality industry just cannot ignore,” said Helen Zhang, director of media strategy at LFB Media Group, a public-relations agency that works with such restaurants as the Stanton Social and Casa Nonna.

Olivia Young, brand and communications director for the Altamarea Group, which operates restaurants such as Vaucluse and Osteria Morini, said the company has begun inviting some Instagram users for meals and plans to pay some to post photos.

 

Brisbane gleefully ignores foodborne illness

Want to eat off the same china as President Obama at last year’s G20?

The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre is hiring out the dining room in its Plaza Gallery used by world leaders at the global powerfest.

g20.foodCentre general manager Bob O’Keeffe tells your diarist that guests can have the same menu and even sit in the same chairs used by Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders.

O’Keeffe recalls food for the leaders’ meals had to pass through several security check points before reaching the dining room.

Yeah, but they don’t do micro testing and aren’t capable of testing for idiocracy. This is the 21st century, not the 14th when food tasters were employed to check for poisons.

This same Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre was host of two Salmonella outbreaks earlier this year that sickened at least 254 people, including school principals at a conference. In response, the Centre struck custard from the menu.

It was probably raw eggs that made all those folks sick, but us Brisbane residents will never know because once an outbreak is publicly declared, it disappears. Maybe into the courts. Maybe into embarrassment-land.

I know Presidents of the U.S. have a food safety detail and would never allow raw eggs into a meal served to the Commander-in-Chief, but school principals?

Why not.

Make the full menu public and let us food safety types identify possible risks. I don’t care where Putin or Obama sat – possible skid marks – I care if your food is going to make me barf like those other 254 people.

Women rock, Gwyneth doesn’t: Paltrow pushes debunked breast cancer myth

Some women spend their time playing other people in front of cameras and offering lifestyle advice. Some women work in public health. Some play ice hockey, some are French professors.

girls.hockey.brisbaneFrom the annals of bad health advice, actress Gwyneth Paltrow is under fire for a post on her website GOOP by Dr. Habib Sadeghi with the inflammatory title “Could There Possibly Be a Link Between Underwire Bras and Breast Cancer??” The research discussed in the article has been widely discredited, including by the American Cancer Society.

A 2014 study in which 1,044 women ages 55 to 74 were interviewed about their bra wearing, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (also known as Fred Hutch) found absolutely no link between bras and breast cancer. Specifically, Lu Chen, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, said in an article on the center’s website (one that’s cited in a footnote of the GOOP article), “Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with underwire, or at what age they began wearing a bra.”

disease.detectiveDiane Mapes, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy (what she calls “the full monty”), is a public health writer for FredHutch.org and also blogs about her breast cancer experience at DoubleWhammied.com. She told Salon, “If you get your advice from Gwyneth Paltrow, you’re probably not serving yourself particularly well. If people want public health advice, there’s a lot of other sites where they can go to get it.”

Girls rock. Women rock. People rock. Gwyneth doesn’t.

Watch NFL linebacker Brian Cushing puke an endless stream of vomit

In hockey coaching camp, we’re told, the old school ways of making kids skate until they puke is a no-no.

I agree.

Apparently, the concussion-free National Football League hasn’t gotten that message, as Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing demonstrated at a NFL training camp.

Watch Cushing prove to everyone that he’s only human by puking for nearly a minute during last night’s episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks.