‘We found Salmonella in some of the cooked food from the restaurant, as well as in some raw food.’ That’s not good

In North Carolina folks vacation at the beach or in the mountains. The idea is to get a bunch of people together in a house and cook/eat/drink and recharge. In Ontario (that’s in Canada) people relax and party in cottages that line the hundreds of lakes north of Toronto.

I spent this past weekend in cottage country, as it’s known, celebrating my parents anniversary with a bunch of family and friends.IMG_0978

One of the popular Southern Ontario-to-the-cottage roads travels through Bradford. Home of a marsh, Chicago Blackhawk Brandon Mashinter, and over 20 confirmed cases of salmonellosis linked to St. Louis Bar and Grill.

According to 104.5 CHUM FM, the restaurant has been closed twice in the past three weeks due to illnesses.

22 cases have been confirmed by lab testing and another 18 people have symptoms that are consistent with Salmonella.

Dr. Colin Lee with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says the restaurant had to be closed on May 31st and then again on June 15th-16th to allow for food samples to be taken and proper disinfection.

“We found Salmonella in some of the cooked food from the restaurant, as well as in some raw food.”

In a statement provided to NEWSTALK 1010, St. Louis Bar & Grill says the safety and well-being of its customers and staff are its highest priorities. The company underlined that it has been working closely with the local health unit and that its Bradford location is open as normal.

“On two occasions (May 31 and June 15), we cooperated fully with the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit to close the restaurant for inspection, sanitization and disinfection. On both occasions, the Health Unit was satisfied that there was no risk to public safety and cleared us to re-open within a few hours (May 31) and the next day (June 15).”

There is always a risk to public safety when food is involved. It’s up to restaurant operators to reduce the risks. Salmonella in raw and cooked food isn’t an indicator of good risk management.

Collaboration collaborationists: Trust us is terrible soundbite for food safety

Last night, I chatted in my terrible French with our host and his far better English, with Amy there to mediate the difficult parts, about his parents’ emotional shit-fest during Nazi occupation in World War II.

gfsi.collaboration.bs.jun.16The short version: his father had been chosen to be killed by Germans in retaliation for the killing of a German soldier, and while awaiting death, American troops rolled into town, post-Normandy, and his father was spared.

The son showed me a photograph of the German boss being transported out of town on the front of an American Jeep, hands on his head.

That’s one of the reasons this lovely French family loves Amy: she’s American.

Collaboration, which has been touted for decades as essential in the academic enterprise and yesterday ad nausea in the food safety world, also has a different meaning: Collaborationists.

Selling out.

I’ve covered this before, but food safety collaboration is over-rated, especially if it’s driven by a top-down organization.

Just because a lot of salaries from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly developing food safety capacity building projects, means nothing (upper right, propaganda image).

Will fewer people barf?

Yet the collaborationists falling over themselves to follow is at once both nauseating and vomit-inducing.

Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director at UNIDO, said, “The World Health Organization estimates that up to 600 million people fall ill every year after eating contaminated food. Our collaboration with GFSI will further strengthen and promote multiple benefits of safe food for social inclusiveness, sustainability and industrial development.” 

Will fewer people barf?

Mike Robach, Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors, added, “We are very enthusiastic about the potential to have a bigger impact in these key regions, thanks to this collaboration with UNIDO. Multi-sector collaboration is the way forward in achieving food safety across borders and barriers. Our joint efforts within this partnership will take us further and faster towards our vision of safe food for consumers, everywhere.”

collaboration.german.trustWill fewer people barf (lower left, propaganda image)?

Individuals create and innovate, and bring others to the table.

Individuals who are steady and focused need someone to take them out of their comfort zone, as much as the erratic need steadying support.

That is the challenge of any collaboration, bringing those elements together, and being better than the individual.

Otherwise, it’s just a collaborationist following a paycheck.

This is how bad Whole Foods sucks at food safety

Whole Foods just don’t get it.

whole.foods.empty.valuesAccording to Stephanie Strom of the New York Times, when U.S. Food and Drug Administration types asked for proof the company had fixed potential Listeria problems, Whole Foods “failed to provide photos, invoices, records of product destruction and other documentation that would demonstrate the necessary corrections.”

Individuals are required to provide more proof on a tax audit.

Whole Foods, Chipotle, an emerging pattern of documented bullshit to validate what many food safety types thought long before: bullshit, on food, in management and in communications.

Risk Analysis 101.

Too much Listeria from poor training? Maybe try an augmented reality approach

Listeria monocytogenes is the causative agent of the human illness called listeriosis. The data reported in the last 15 years of scientific literature concerning the relationship between this microorganism and the catering sector showed a permanent presence of the opportunistic pathogen through the years, though with low frequencies.

listeria4Even though the pathogenic capacity of L. monocytogenes is practically circumscribed to a few risk categories as pregnant women, newborns and different kinds of immunocompromised people, given its high case-fatality rate this disease represents the second cause of death for foodborne infection in Europe.

As it emerged from the reviewed literature, L. monocytogenes was recovered in many different food categories, which testifies the widespread of the pathogen in the food chain. The main causes of L. monocytogenes presence were poor microbiological quality of raw materials, cross-contamination, inadequate cleaning practices, improper storage temperature, inadequate preparation processes, and a lack in the training of staff on food hygiene.

In particular, cross-contamination of foods can be reduced by hand washing, use of gloves, separation of raw materials from end products, sanitation and disinfection of equipment and food contact surfaces, hence, a structured training program of staff on these practices is essential.

The occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in mass catering: An overview in the European Union

International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 57, August 2016, Pages 9–17, doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2016.05.005

Andrea Osimani, Francesca Clementi

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278431916300639

Food safety training is utilized in the food industry to provide employees with the needed knowledge on how to prevent foodborne illnesses. However, although there is evidence that current food safety training is effective in increasing employee knowledge, employees’ observed behaviors often do not change and, therefore, the risk of foodborne illness is not decreased. In this review we discuss several motivational theories and propose a unique use of augmented reality for training to increase compliance of employees in regards to safe handling of foods.

Taking food safety to the next level—An augmented reality solution

Journal of Foodservice Business Research

DOI:10.1080/15378020.2016.1185872

Dennis E. Beck, Philip G. Crandall, Corliss A. O’Bryan & Jessica C. Shabatura

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15378020.2016.1185872

Food Safety Talk 102: Flour power

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.1464969674490

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.

Episode 102 can be found here and on iTunes.

Links so you can follow alone at home:

Latest food quacks peddling dangerous advice

The UK’s newest foodie stars, sisters Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, purport themselves as healthy food gurus. In fact, one’s a former model, the other has a background in marketing. Following the release of their latest cookbook, experts claim their clean-eating, tongue-scraping advice could actually do more harm than good.

Hemsleys-embedJasmine, 36, has left her racy modelling past far behind. These days, she and sister Melissa, 30, are the self-styled queens of “clean eating”, a regime that forbids followers from eating sugar, gluten and processed foods, which are said to contain body-harming toxins.

The sisters, who have written two recipe books and set up their own cafe, can be found promoting such food fads as “spiralising”, a healthy eating gadget that turns vegetables into guilt-free “pasta”; bone broth, a collagen-rich soup made from boiling bones; and, just last week on their new UK Channel 4 TV show, astrologically farmed vegetables grown according to the cycles of the moon.

Critics say that by peddling the “clean eating” fad, the Hemsleys and their ilk – including “Deliciously” Ella Woodward – are causing vulnerable schoolgirls to become not only paranoid about food, but frightened of it.

In a society in which more young women than ever have troubled relationships with their bodies – 1.6 million people in Britain suffer from an eating disorder – this is cause for serious concern. Experts say just words such as “clean” and “cleanse” may trigger harmful behaviour.

“Clean eating uses the language of anorexics to describe food,” says Dr Richard Sly, a lecturer in mental health at the University of East Anglia. “When you place a label on such things, you are creating a judgment, one that vulnerable people will buy into.”.

The girls started tapping into Jasmine’s contacts in the TV and film world to find clients for whom they could cook healthy meals. In spring 2010, a well-known actor (whom the sisters refuse to name) asked them to help with his diet.

Before they knew it, they had a waiting list and their business was born. It was so exclusive they took on just six, super-elite clients at a time and were flown round the world as private chefs.

They set up a blog to document their work and, in 2012, it caught the attention of an editor at Vogue, who took them on as food columnists.

The Hemsley & Hemsley brand was co-founded by Jasmine’s boyfriend Nick Hopper, 40, a model and photographer, who took the pictures for their first book, The Art Of Eating Well, which has sold 150,000 copies.

Today, Jasmine and Nick live in a £585,000 flat in South-East London, while Melissa lives nearby with her boyfriend, Henry Relph, 32, a DJ and art collector.

Central to their success is their glamorous appearance and the glitzy social circles in which they move.

However, some of their dishes contain a lot of sugar – their “guilt-free” brownies have 150ml maple syrup, as well as 230g butter.

Even their “healthy” alternatives (honey, maple syrup and agave nectar) contain high levels of fructose, a natural sugar linked to diabetes, obesity and liver disease.

But most concerning of all are health ‘experts’ from whom the Hemsleys get their approach to food.

Last week, it was revealed that they support controversial diet guru Natasha Campbell-McBride, a Russian nutritionist criticised for her “Gut And Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) doctrine, which claims that a restrictive, gluten-free diet can cure conditions including schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy. Despite not being legally registered to practise medicine in Britain, she bills herself on her UK website as “Doctor Natasha”.

Experts have branded her work “unethical” and “dangerous”, yet the Hemsleys cite her book at the top of a list of five that have “shaped their food philosophy”.

The Weston A Price Foundation, an American non-profit group founded by a dentist, is another inspiration.

Among the unorthodox practices it advocates are eating poached animal brains, feeding newborns raw cows’ milk and ingesting clay, believed to remove toxins from the body.

The sisters insist they “are not advocates of anyone else’s regime.

But leading doctor and Daily Mail columnist Max Pemberton says the doctrines they quote from are “absolute quackery”.

Their star may be on the rise, but maybe it’s time we started seeing the Hemsley sisters for what they really are: glossy beauties with an eye for making money – and not a shred of genuine expertise between them.

So is there any science behind the clean eating cult? We look at some of the most outlandish schools of thought that the Hemsleys support . . .

Biodynamic food

What is it? Based on the teachings of 19th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, it claims the best time to plant crops is two days before a full moon, when there is an increase in the moisture content of the soil, meaning plants “growth forces” are enhanced.

They say: In the latest episode of their cookery series, the sisters buy eggs produced by chickens fed on grain that has been “planted according to the astrological calendar”.

Liz Cotton of Orchard Eggs, the Hemsleys’ favourite biodynamic brand, explains: “The yolks are bright yellow and they taste better than organic.”

Experts say: There’s no difference – and certainly no nutritional benefit – in planting crops according to the solar system.

Dietitian Renee McGregor says some eggs are better for you than others, but this has to do with soil quality and farming conditions. “In terms of the moon, that’s a load of mumbo-jumbo,” she adds.

Tongue scraping

What is it? One of the sisters’ weirder obsessions, tongue scraping comes from Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian practice.

It involves running a metal scraper – with padded handles and a sharp, curved middle – up and down your tongue to remove bacteria, fungi and food debris.

They say: “I’d rather go without brushing my teeth in the morning than not doing it,” Jasmine claims. “All your toxins come out on your tongue, so you want to remove them.”

Mindful eating

What is it? This Buddhist-inspired technique is all about taking your time over food, rather than wolfing meals down in minutes.

It encourages “reconnecting” with ingredients by paying attention to their colour, smell and texture.

They say: “If you develop a proper relationship with the food you are about to eat, it will taste better and you will feel fuller more quickly,” Jasmine claims.

They also say chewing food more slowly can “get rid of common digestive complaints”.

Experts say: It’s not complete quackery: taking time over eating can avoid indigestion and heartburn. But Jane Odgen, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey, says this obsession with chewing “may make people over-focused on food”.

The gaps diet

What is it? Dreamed up by Russian nutritional “guru” Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, this regime teaches that illnesses including autism, dyslexia, heart disease and epilepsy are caused by an “imbalance of intestinal flora”, which allows particles of food to escape into the blood.

GAPS – which stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome – encourages followers to combat this by giving up sugar, dairy, starch and gluten.

They say: The Hemsleys, who cite Doctor Natasha as an influence, promote a gluten and refined sugar-free diet and warn against “leaky gut syndrome”.

Food combining

What is it? A naturopathic – in other words, not scientifically proven – theory that claims the order and combination in which you put food into your mouth can affect digestion. Also known as the Hay Diet, invented by American doctor William Howard Hay in the Thirties, it forbids eating protein and carbohydrates on the same plate.

They say: The sisters claim food combining “aids digestion and optimises nutritional absorption from our foods”.

Experts say: “There is absolutely no evidence for this,” says Renee McGregor. “Our body is capable of coping with food all on its own. It doesn’t need us interfering to help it work properly.”

Bone broth

What is it? Otherwise known as plain old stock, “bone broth” is one of the Hemsleys’ go-to recipes, made by boiling animal bones in water with vegetables, peppercorns and bay leaves for 24 hours.

Chipotle outbreak makes Boston College commencement address

Part of our approach on barfblog is to inject surprise and humor, or what some might call shock jockery, into food safety messages to compel folks to employ risk reduction practices.

Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. Linking a norovirus outbreak with a tragic terrorist event isn’t the best idea. According to Boston.com, United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz made the Chipotle/Boston Marathon bombing connection during a Boston College commencement speech.Screen-Shot-2016-05-23-at-10.38.40-AM-850x478$large

United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz is a native of Fall River, Mass., an alumnus of BC and a professor at MIT, which means he knows very well what it means to be a Bostonian.

But Boston College’s commencement speaker gave a special shout-out to the class of 2016 for being what he called “Boston College strong.”

“You were here for the terrible Boston Marathon terrorism events, the terrible snow storm, and, as I understand, the perils of fast food became also known to this class,” he said.

Those “perils” occurred in December during a norovirus outbreak at the Chipotle in Cleveland Circle. More than 140 Boston College students got sick after eating at the restaurant, including many members of the basketball team.

Everyone has a camera: Food-safety-in-Oman edition

I’ve long been an advocate of electronics and digital monitoring for improving food safety outcomes.

Video-camera-1024x600But only with clear objectives and limits.

In Oman, cameras have been installed on a trial basis at different restaurants located at tourist spots, butcher shops and slaughterhouses in a bid to maintain hygiene standards.

“The aim is to keep an online tab on food processing,” the ministry said.

Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Shehhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, said the project enjoys full confidentiality guaranteed by the laws to all of the information including visual and non-visual data of food establishments.

FSIS releases final mechanically tenderized beef labeling rule

I don’t order steaks at restaurants very often; it’s not for safety reasons, it’s because I can buy good ribeye or fillet and grill it at home.china_use_2

About once a week I make a spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and toasted walnuts served with sliced steak. I like to sear the outside to about 220F – and keep the inside around 130F. Something I can do with little risk if my meat is fully intact.

I don’t buy mechanically tenderized meat.

At least I don’t think I do. As a consumer, up until now I’ve been at the mercy of the butcher/meat counter. I ask questions. Folks tell me it’s not tenderized.

Soon, I’ll be able to look for a label. According to Meating Place, USDA FSIS’s final rule on mechanically tenderized beef labeling was just released.

The rule was two years in the making and requires that the product names of the affected products include the descriptive designation “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized” or “needle tenderized.” Raw products that are destined for foodservice or home cooking have to include cooking instructions that recommend that mechanically tenderized beef be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees followed by a three-minute rest time.

The new rule is intended to address issues with the blades or needles used to mechanically tenderized meat cuts, which can introduce pathogens from the surface of the meat into the interior. If not fully cooked, then, the pathogens could make diners sick the same way a rare or medium rare burger can.
Consumers have been getting messages about fully cooking their burgers, however, whereas they are more likely to cook mechanically tenderized steak on the rare side, the same they way would with an intact cut.

About 11 percent, or 2.6 billion pounds, of beef products sold in the U.S. have been mechanically tenderized, according to USDA data. Deputy Undersecretary Al Almanza said the new rule comes in response to six outbreaks of illnesses linked to bacterial contamination in mechanically tenderized meat since 2000.

Don’t like your inspection result? Change your restaurant’s ownership

It seems like a lot of work but NBC Bay Area reports there is a loophole in erasing inspection history – good and bad – change the ownership.

But a name change alone doesn’t change how the managers and staff address food safety.

“It’s not for me to make sense of it, it is what the law requires us to do,” said Stephanie Cushing, who heads the city’s restaurant inspection process as the Director of the San Francisco’s Department of Environmental Health.dohevhiomwpyri5adsqz

Cushing’s team of 30 field inspectors make daily checks at restaurants across the city to ensure they comply with health and safety codes, but she acknowledges those inspection reports are promptly removed from the city’s website once a restaurant files paperwork to indicate changes in ownership of the business, even if managers and employees remains largely the same.

Cushing’s team of inspectors are no strangers to a Chinese restaurant at 5238 Diamond Heights Boulevard. Even though the sign on the building says All Season, don’t expect to find that name anywhere on the city’s online database of restaurant inspection reports. A

ccording to city records, the business changed its name to Harbor Villa last year, as well as a change in ownership, which required the city to remove the inspection history for All Season restaurant from the city’s website.

While the restaurant listed new company officers in 2014, the Investigative Unit discovered that ownership was still under the same corporation.

Last year, the restaurant filed another change of ownership, and listed a new corporate name, but the two officers of that corporation stayed the same.

Even after the restaurant name change, Harbor Villa was forced to close on two more times for serious health and safety violations, including a cockroach infestation.

I dunno how many places go through the process and the paperwork of changing company officers and names, but it seems like managing food safety risks is probably easier. And better for business.