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.

A pox of poo on you, soccer star

Chelsea’s star forward Eden Hazard is no joke. Having created more chances to score last season than any other player in the Premier League, it’s no wonder people have compared him to La Liga greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

D0W30WOr that he was voted the league’s Player of the Year last season. Quite frankly, Hazard is intimidating to his opponents — even Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, who jokingly said on Friday that he hopes Hazard comes down with messy intestinal issues so that he wouldn’t be able to play on Sunday.

“You’d almost hope that Eden Hazard would have diarrhea,” the defender told Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad this week (via the Guardian).

HPP may be safe but this advert is bad

In 2005, Hormel Foodservice became the first meat processor to make a significant investment in High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP).

HPP is employed after the meat is sliced and packaged — so there is no opportunity for harmful pathogens and food spoilage organisms to re-enter the package, and no need for taste-altering preservatives.

Sounds good, although I wonder about the potential for contamination once the package is opened.

But check out this ad which is a good example of marketers messing up science.

Expectant mothers are advised not to eat cold cuts and other refrigerated ready-to-eat foods because of the potential for Listeria contamination.

In addition to the medieval stirrups and a stereotypical representation of birth, there is no mention of why this lunchmeat may be OK other than, it has no preservatives.

Bad Hormel, bad.

Stick to singing? Justin Timberlake’s restaurant fails NY inspection

To be fair, it’s not sure how much JT is involved in the restaurant these days.

But his name’s on it, so there’s a potential for stigma.

justin.timberlakeJustin Timberlake’s New York City restaurant has been hit with charges of sanitation violations during a recent health inspection, including a citation for mice activity.

Officials at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene gave the Sexy Back hitmaker’s Southern Hospitality venue a routine examination in July, and according to the department’s records, the place received four violations.

In the documents obtained by GossipCop.com, two of those violations were critical, with the first showing “evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food area”, adding the venue has “conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.” The other citation suggests an area of the kitchen which comes in contact with food was “not properly washed, rinsed and sanitised after each use, and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.” The final grade for Southern Hospitality is still pending, and the restaurant remains open.

Food porn hero shot: Tricks of TV cooking shows

I can’t watch cooking shows.

The music is terrible, the chefs are awful and food safety is essentially non-existent (see paper we wrote over a decade ago).

celebrity_chefs4 A post on the social media site Reddit asked people who have worked on the set of food shows to reveal the strangest things they’ve seen while working.

According to user ‘Elroypaisley’ who worked on a daytime talk show with daily cooking segments, most the hard work is done by a food stylist behind the scenes.

“Most of the food is either A) not edible (under cooked chicken, just browned on the outside to look good for camera or sprayed with shining spray to make it look glossy) or B) Eaten by the crew,” write the redditor.

“The most enlightening fact, for me, was that many of the chefs have no idea what the recipe is, what they are cooking when they arrive or how it’s made.

“A food stylist shows up two hours before taping, having been up the night before all night making the ‘beauty dishes’ — these are the dishes the camera will take shots of to show what the final product looks like. Then the stylist lays out every ingredient, every bowl, every tool that will be needed.

“The chef arrives, does hair/makeup and comes to set where the stylist briefs them. ‘Chef, today you’re making such and such. These are the ingredients for the reduction sauce, etc’. The chef goes over the recipe a few times, then we go live and they are the expert.”

User ‘Landlubber77’ worked as a production intern on a food network and said the dish prepared on screen by the chef isn’t usually the one that features in the fancy photos.

“When they want to stage shots of just the food on its own, the ‘hero shot’, they have an intern make a duplicate of the meal (doesn’t matter if it’s undercooked inside because nobody is gonna eat it) which just has to look good on the surface. They then spray it with an aerosol can of some ungodly preservative to make it ‘stay’.

When it comes to shows such as MasterChef, ‘absinthevisions’ wrote that “each dish can be made several times so there is a lot of waste”.

masterchef“If it’s a contest style show, the judges don’t eat the version that you see cooked and plated. That version is thrown away and a new version is cooked specifically for them to eat. Then they take 2-3 bites from a plate and throw the rest away.”

If you’ve ever seen a cooking show where the chef is given a special ingredient at the start of the show and you’ve been amazed by how quickly they brainstormed and executed their dish, well … don’t be amazed.

“My brother was a sous chef for his (at the time) boss on a popular food competition show,” wrote Reddit user ‘LadyofRivendell’.

“He said the secret ingredient was revealed a few hours prior to filming and the chefs sat down with their sous chefs and made plans ahead.”

But the best story in the thread was from a caterer called ‘Astrochef12’ who was hired to in the early 2000s by The Oprah Winfrey show to help make a number of different celebrities’ favourite recipes for the studio audience.

Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.