Always the kids: ‘He turned grey’ says mother of child who fell ill after drinking raw milk

A Melbourne mother has described how her son turned grey when he became seriously ill after drinking raw milk.

bath.milkThe one-year-old boy suffered kidney failure after contracting hemolytic-uremic syndrome – a serious complication of an E. coli infection.

The Melbourne baby’s mother, who spoke to Fairfax Media on the condition of anonymity, said her son developed diarrhea and vomiting, which lasted 10 days, after he had sips of her smoothies made with Mountain View Organic Bath Milk.

“He turned grey, became extremely lethargic and extremely thirsty and was he still sporadically vomiting,” she said.

By the time he reached the Royal Children’s Hospital Emergency Department in late October, his kidneys were failing.

“He had 20 per cent kidney function,” the mother said.

The baby remained in hospital for a week as doctors worked to increase his red blood cells. He is now expected to make a full recovery.

University of Melbourne food microbiology expert Said Ajlouni said he was aware some people may drink raw milk to treat serious medical conditions but warned against it, saying children and people with depressed immunity were more susceptible to infection.

The Australian Medical Association’s Andrew Miller said drinking unpasteurized milk could be fatal or lead to lifelong disabilities, multiple organ failure or brain damage.

colbert.raw.milk“Because these kind of outcomes are relatively rare, people may get away with it [drinking unpasteurized milk] for a period of time, but there are reasons we have food safety laws and that’s so we don’t see children die unnecessarily,” he said.

The mother acknowledged she had been blinded by the wider trend towards raw food, but said she was not aware of the serious risks associated with raw milk.

“If I had heard of anything like this happening to anyone I wouldn’t have brought into my home – I wouldn’t have consumed it myself,” she said.

“It was a wake-up call to make sure I’m no longer blinded by the latest trends. It was a wake-up call to make sure I’m making informed decisions for my family.”

Australian raw milk company defends product after 3yo’s death; urgent recall after ACCC steps in

A day after proclaiming it would continue to sell its unpasteurized bath milk following the death of a three-year old boy, Mountain View Farm is now urgently recalling the product.

raw.milk.headlineOf the four other children – all under five-years old who were sickened, three developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and one cryptosporidiosis.

The recall comes after the case was referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which said the milk had been recalled due to “a number of recent health concerns” in young children who consumed the milk, and is sold in one and two liter containers.

The ACCC said it would also lead a national investigation of consumer law regulators into possible breaches by suppliers selling raw milk as a cosmetic product.

“The message from health agencies is clear: do not drink unpasteurized milk,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. “If you have this product, do not drink it in any circumstances. Return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.”

Authorities have expressed frustration with current regulations allowing the sale of unpasteurized milk in Australia because technically it is not being sold as food.

Dr Rosemary Lester, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer said she had written to Victorian Consumer Affairs and the ACCC about the issue.

“This is correctly labeled as not [for human consumption], so it’s in the domain of consumer law, not food law,” she said.

Vicki Jones, the owner of Mountain View Farm, said she drank the milk herself, but her product was clearly labeled as not for human consumption.

“We label it as bath milk, for cosmetic use only, not for consumption. It’s quite bold, so it’s easy to see,” she said.

“I drink it, but it is a raw product, I can’t say that it’s safe to drink.”

But Ms Jones said the company would change its labels to make them even clearer.

mountain.view.farm“What do I say to [the people who drink the milk]? It’s clearly labeled. At the end of the day what they do with the milk after they purchase it is their choice,” she said.

“Whether they listen to me is out of my hands. … We would probably just put the link to the Health Department website or print what their warnings are.”

Ms Jones said she was aware of the incident and had been contacted by health authorities following the death of the child.

“Apparently [the child's family] had purchased our milk, but I have been told the child had been previously seriously ill and that he had passed away, and that he had consumed our milk,” she said.

“The health department had taken samples of our milk [for] Salmonella, E. coli, dysentery and all the results have come back negative, or not detected.”

She also said her company ran their own tests on the milk every week for bacteria and it always came back negative.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the company lamented, “waking up to the disgusting front page of the Herald Sun” on Thursday.

“Shame on the reporter and the people that were behind that piece of rubbish that was written. …

“To the health department, you have opened a hornets nest, not for raw milk, but for exposing the garbage that consumers are fed, the chemical laden pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics that are used to grow food to feed families.

Shame on the system that allows this, shame on Food Safety standards, that permit and make up the levels they deem safe. Look at how many people are sick, why our hospitals are overflowing.

“Why is good quality food so expensive and out of reach of young families on low wages, the very people that need to feed our future generation.”

The organic farm has previously mocked the U.S. food authority for labeling unpasteurized milk as unsafe.

A photo shared by the Facebook page of the business on November 20 implies the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the use of harmful substances while wrongly demonizing raw milk.

Jones defended using the image on her Facebook page, saying she questioned many substances in foods and the FDA should do the same.

mountain.view.farm.2Asked whether the image was misleading because of what it implied about raw milk, Jones said: “Maybe the FDA need to revisit the use of chemicals in food.

“I question the use of some chemicals used in food production and the effect it has on children.”

Some people took to the Mountain View Facebook page to criticize the company following news of the child’s death. “Where is the warning that you claim is on your Facebook page against drinking raw milk,” one person wrote.

Others defended the company, describing the media coverage as a “witch-hunt.”

David Tribe, a University of Melbourne professor and friend of the barfblog.com, collected several images from the Mountain View web site, which are included here.

Dr. Lester said she was worried unpasteurized milk was intentionally being given to children despite being labeled not for human consumption.

“There are two issues that concern me – one is the movement out there that people think that something raw is wholesome and better for you, which is clearly not the case,” said.

“Secondly was the potential for confusion with milk that really is for human consumption, given these products are being sold alongside milk for human consumption.”

It was not clear whether the child in this particular case was intentionally given the raw milk. 

An ambulance can only move so fast: problems with partnership’s food safety educator study

Chapman’s right when he says I probably didn’t notice him the first year he worked in my lab: it was big, and I had people supervising people.

ben.doug.2.12But he stuck with it, ended up coaching girls hockey with me, bailed me out of jail, published lots of cool research, and now he’s his own prof at North Carolina State.

And he gets to make his own mistakes.

The recent work he and graduate student Nicole Arnold did with the food safety partnership thingies might have been good experience, but he got pressured into violating some basic research tenets: surveys, on their own, suck (they had limited cash), and press release before peer review is always a bad idea.

At least Chapman insisted all the raw data be made available.

The draconian consistency of partnership messages – cook, clean, chill, separate – while all valid, lead to a snake-oil salesman effect and ignore one of the biggest causes of foodborne illness that has been highlighted by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization: food from unsafe sources.

What did consumers have to do with outbreaks involving peanut butter, pizza, pot pies, pet food, pepper and produce (washing don’t do much). That’s just the Ps.

Reciting prescriptive instructions like some fascist country line-dancing instructor benefits no one. Food safety is complex, and it takes effort.

The survey found that in today’s digital environment, most food safety education is done in person. According to the survey, 90 percent of the people that consider themselves food safety educators connect with consumers via face-to-face meetings and presentations. The next most-used channel is online, with 36 percent of educators using this method to connect with consumers.

But such a conclusion ignores the multiplier effect of messages, or the social amplification of risk: where did those messages originate and are they valid?

If anything the results argue for marketing microbial food safety at retail, where people can vote at the checkout aisle.

And education is the wrong word: people make risk-benefit decisions all the time. For those who care, food safety information should be provided using multiple media and messages; then people can decide for themselves.

At least Chapman stressed the need for medium and message evaluation, which is sorely lacking.

Food safety culture has really jumped the shark: Fonterra profit focus damaging says botulism report

Food safety culture was a cool concept to try and talk about all the incidentals in delivering safe food.

hockey.team.apr.14To me, it was when one employee was with another in the bathroom and one left without washing their hands, the culture would support the other employee saying, dude, wash your hands.

But the term was abrogated when Maple Leaf Foods started talking about their culture, rather than offering a clear time-line of who-knew-what-when, making Listeria test results publicly available, and putting warning labels on their deli meats, as Publix has done.

It jumped the shark.

If there’s any further proof required, Fonterra of New Zealand’s response to the latest inquiry on the botulism (not) in raw milk was, “The reason we’re welcoming it, is because it’s hugely important to raise the prominence of the food-safety culture with our food processes here in New Zealand.”

Uh-huh.

According to media accounts, Fonterra focused on profits at the expense of a food safety culture, damaging New Zealand’s international reputation.

Earlier this year, Fonterra was fined $300,000 for the incident, which saw milk-products pulled off shelves when it emerged they were potentially contaminated with Botulism. 

Fonterra was late in notifying the correct authorities and it caused an international scare, particularly in China, with Fonterra unable to confirm for several days where the products, which had been produced more than a year earlier, were around the world.

Further testing showed that the risk of botulism never existed, although the false alarm prompted a review of New Zealand’s food safety system.

The last of a series of independent reports was released today, and the inquiry, led by Queen’s Counsel Miriam Dean, found a number of errors were made. 


While food-safety protocols were in place, the culture of care around food safety had not been fostered.

Problems dated back to May 2012, when Fonterra reworked some of its concentrated whey using temporary pipes and hoses at the Hautapu plant in Waikato in a way not approved by regulators, which increased the risk of bacteria.

larry.health.inspectorHoses were cleaned using a caustic (rather than acid) solution, which failed to eliminate all contamination.

The report also found that having notified the ministry, days late in August 2013, Fonterra had no well-prepared group crisis plan to implement, including crisis communications (particularly in social media).

“Fonterra took until 18 August to trace all the affected products, a seriously deficient effort.

“Fonterra did not effectively co-ordinate its actions with those of the ministry, Danone and the Government during the crisis,” the report said.

The Ministry for Primary Affairs did not escape unscathed.  

“The ministry had no single, coherent (or reviewed or rehearsed) crisis plan for a food incident that it could implement straight away after receiving notification of C. botulism.

But Dean noted the ministry’s response was hampered by Fonterra’s late notification and overstating the certainty botulism, as well as Fonterra’s drawn-out and deficient tracing.

Dean described the incident as a “watershed moment”. 

“Fonterra realized in a most profound way that food safety was the one thing without which it was impossible to achieve any other company priority, whether continued sales and profits, a sound reputation, strong consumer confidence or a secure future on the world stage,” she said.

Labour immediately called for an independent food safety authority (New Zealand used to have one; good folks).

“It’s the only way that we can ensure the very highest levels of food safety and an independence that reassures our customers in the international market,” primary industries spokesman Damian O’Connor said.

New Zealand needs a “world-leading” food safety regime, he said. “This report has been a sad indictment of what has taken place… The culture, right from the farm through to the market-place has to improve.”

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings acknowledged the report and said the co-operative would study its findings and recommendations.

“Food safety and quality are our number one priority. At the time of the recall, we did what was right based on the evidence we had. It was subsequently confirmed that the recalled WPC80 did not present a health risk.”

Uh-huh.

Stop the nonsense about culture: Food producers should truthfully market their microbial food safety programs, coupled with behavioral-based food safety systems that foster a positive food safety from farm-to-fork. The best producers and processors will go far beyond the lowest common denominator of government and should be rewarded in the marketplace.

food.safety.cultureThey should pay attention.

I coach hockey in Australia, where 5-year-olds and 10-year-olds are on the ice at the same time, and I say, pay attention. Because that 10-year-old can wipe you out.

Just like some unexpected bug or a false positive.

Culture is nice, but pay attention and serve your consumers the data to back up the bullshit statement that every food CEO makes during an outbreak: food safety is our top priority.

Stop making people barf.

And it was nice the work of me and Chapman and our collaborators was cited throughout the report.

Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident

Preface

Six months have passed since the Inquiry began stage two of its examination of New Zealand’s biggest food safety scare. That scare, as most people will vividly remember, was sparked by suspicion that infant formula and possibly other products, too, were infected with botulism-causing C. botulinum. In this final stage, the Inquiry has looked closely at the causes of the incident, together with the responses by Fonterra and the Ministry for Primary Industries and the roles of others. The distance of time has enabled the Inquiry to take a considered view of just how it was that the extraordinary events came to pass. At all times, it has endeavoured to do so through the lens of food safety, including its examination of the state of readiness of key participants to respond to unfolding events. The contributions of those who assisted, from providing documents, briefing papers and written submissions, to participating in long interviews, are gratefully acknowledged. All were prepared to review the events in question openly and honestly. The Inquiry is particularly appreciative of the assistance from

the core participants: Fonterra, the ministry, AsureQuality, AgResearch and Danone. The Inquiry is indebted to Kelley Reeve, Ned Fletcher, Sally Johnston and Annette Spoerlein as the secretariat and to Simon Mount as legal advisor; also our scientific advisor, Dr Lisa Szabo, chief scientist of Australia’s NSW Food Authority, and our independent peer reviewer, Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. We cannot thank Peter Riordan enough for his enormous contribution in assisting with the writing of this report. Also, Susan Buchanan for editing and proofing; Jacqui Spragg as designer; Jill Marwood and Maria Svensen for secretarial and administration assistance; and finally staff at the Department of Internal Affairs. As with the first stage, it was a pleasure to work with them all. It took this incident to raise awareness that food safety cannot be taken for granted. Lessons learned from the incident provide an opportunity for all participants in the dairy food safety system – and indeed wider – to step up and meet the challenges ahead. Consumers expect no less. But the Inquiry hopes that this final report can draw this particular chapter to a close, in the knowledge that all participants will continue to work together to ensure New Zealand remains a world leader in dairy food safety.

Overview

The news in August 2013 of potential Clostridium botulinum contamination made global headlines. In New Zealand, it was received with something approaching disbelief, in part because the country prided itself on exporting food of the highest quality. The truth is, our food was, and still is, safe, wholesome and among the best in the world. But the botulism scare, as many call the WPC80

incident, led to a review of the dairy industry’s food safety framework, a matter dealt with in the Inquiry’s first report. That report concluded that the

regulatory framework was fundamentally sound, but recommended improvements. Underlying many of these was the idea that the dairy industry must anticipate future risks as well as counter existing known threats. Now, in stage two, the Inquiry has turned to a detailed examination of what began with a simple breaking of a torch lens in a Waikato dairy factory and ended in the recall of millions of product items. How did something so insignificant come to have

consequences so enormous? This report answers that question. The Inquiry is tempted to describe the account as fascinating – and certainly it is likely

to be so for those at arm’s length from New Zealand’s biggest food safety incident. However, for those involved, or who felt its serious financial repercussions, the word grim might be more apt. Between the torch breakage on 1 February 2012 and Fonterra’s notification of C. botulinum on 2 August 2013, numerous people made decisions that, one by one, added their small contribution to the building momentum of events. Sometimes, those events seemed to take on a life of their own, but they were entirely avoidable – if a strong food safety culture had thrived in the workplace. Some readers will wonder why the various individuals involved did not heed the warning signs or take the precautions that were so apparent afterwards. But to yield to that temptation would be to underestimate the complexity of the events and also to undervalue the good intentions of all those involved (many of whom, the Inquiry can vouch, worked days on end after the crisis broke, trying to regain control of the situation).

food.safe.culture.marketThe key immediate causes are relatively easy to determine (although the findings on pages 7-8 give a comprehensive list). They are:

• The Hautapu plant’s improvised reprocessing of WPC80, without a risk assessment and in breach of its risk management programme

• The Fonterra research centre’s encouragement of C. botulinum testing without sufficiently considering its purpose, justification and potential implications

• The decision to approve “toxin testing” without appreciating that this meant authorizing C. botulinum testing

• Fonterra’s failure to advise both the Ministry for Primary Industries and its customers much sooner of a potential food safety problem. The direct causes do not tell the whole story. Wider factors had an influence on the crisis as a whole. Identifying those enabled the Inquiry to understand more fully why the incident happened and to compile a lessons section especially for the industry (see pages 10-11).

Contributing factors included:

Organisational pressures: Fonterra’s workplace culture exhibited an entrenched “silo” mentality that robbed the company of some of the cohesion so vital in an organisation of its size. Both internal and external pressures also contributed to missed opportunities to correct the course of events. Communication, both within and between parts of the organisation, was often unclear – symbolised most starkly by a manager’s unwitting authorisation of C. botulinum testing. And there was also a lack of adequate escalation procedures to deal with possible food safety problems.

OVERVIEW

Testing: Fonterra and AgResearch, the research institute that tested Fonterra’s WPC80 samples, approached this work from different perspectives.

Communication lacked the precision and formality that might have halted testing or shifted it to a diagnostic laboratory and produced a different result.

Readiness: The ill-prepared inevitably pay a heavy price in a crisis. Fonterra was not ready for a crisis of this magnitude. It lacked an updated, wellrehearsed crisis plan to implement, as well as a crisis management team that could spring into

action. The ministry also lacked a single, coherent food incident plan to implement straight away.

fonzi.jump.the.sharkResponses: The WPC80 incident had a long and largely unobserved prelude, followed by a short, very public conclusion. The second phase placed most of the main participants in the crisis, but particularly Fonterra, under intense pressure to act swiftly, decisively and in concert. This did not always happen. Partly, the underperformance was the result of insufficient preparedness and partly, Fonterra’s tracing problems.

With a single phone call on 2 August, the ministry was confronted with a raft of public health, trade, market access, tracing, infant formula supply and media problems. Many aspects of its response deserve credit, especially its decision to put public health first and urge a recall, knowing that more definitive test results would be weeks away.

Its decision-making, however, could have been more rigorous and science-based. All parties could also have co-ordinated better during the crisis.

Tracing: This was an undeniably complex task. The 37.8 tonnes of WPC80 manufactured in May 2012 had, by August 2013, made their way into thousands of tonnes of products in various markets.

Nonetheless, Fonterra’s tracing efforts were, for different reasons, seriously deficient. That, in turn, hampered both the ministry and Fonterra’s customers in their tracing of the affected production. Fonterra’s initial estimate was well off

the mark. It would take the company a further 16 days, and numerous amendments, before it arrived at a final, conclusive figure that enabled all

suspected production to be identified.

Food safety culture: A food safety programme and a food safety culture are entirely different. One is concerned with documentation and processes, the other with employee behaviour and a top-to-bottom commitment to putting food safety first.

The Inquiry has explored this in detail, because if Fonterra had possessed a strong food safety culture, this incident would probably not have happened.

But good can come out of bad. The WPC80 incident has spurred Fonterra into a series of comprehensive changes, from boardroom to factory floor, especially aimed at strengthening food safety and quality and crisis management capability. The ministry, too, has taken matters swiftly in hand. During the past 12 months, it has created a regulation and assurance branch devoted more or less solely to food safety. No one now can be in any doubt about where responsibility for food safety sits.

The ministry is also preparing a new crisis response model for implementation in 2015.

All those changes are welcome and will put the ministry and the country’s biggest dairy company on a better footing in the event of another food safety incident (as well as protecting consumers and New Zealand’s economy and reputation).

Other changes may follow, too. This report contains recommendations specifically for consideration by the Government and the ministry, which would, among other things, strengthen scientific expertise, auditing, crisis planning and non-routine reworking procedures. The report also draws lessons from the WPC80 incident that could be useful for the dairy industry and wider food manufacturing sector. These would strengthen the food safety cultures, manufacturing processes and crisis planning of other companies, as well as clarify laboratory testing processes.

But perhaps the most important lesson here is one of attitude. As United States food safety expert Debby Newslow puts it: “We can no longer learn

from our mistakes; we cannot allow mistakes to happen. In today’s world of food safety, we must be proactive and prevent mistakes from occurring.”

Over 300 sickened: State knew Chobani yogurt was tainted months before recall, FDA says

Whether it’s food, automobiles, consumer goods, whatever – selling deficient product and trying to cover it up usually backfires.

chobani.yogurtPeople and corporations are found out over time: so suck it up and go public early and often.

In response to continual mold problems, Chobani, the Greek yogurt people, made staff changes at its Twin Falls plant and corporate headquarters in New York, hired one new public relations firm and one advertising firm during the recall, and fired Nicki Briggs and “other in-house PR staffers” in November after “a broad refocusing of its resources.”

Chobani official said those PR changes had nothing to do with the mold outbreak and resulting recall.

Chobani may have been focusing on the wrong problem.

MagicValley.com reports the Idaho Department of Agriculture saw moldy yogurt during a routine inspection at Chobani two months before the company issued a voluntary recall, says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report obtained by the Times-News under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The state denies the FDA claim.

More than 300 people got sick after consuming the moldy Greek yogurt from Twin Falls.

The state inspection was conducted in July. But not until September did Chobani issue a voluntary recall of 35 varieties of its tainted yogurt, advising the public it was contaminated with Mucor circinelloides, a mold commonly associated with yogurt production.

A report summarizing five separate inspections by the FDA in September gives this account of the state’s inspection:

“In July the routine Grade A sampling and testing samples taken by the Idaho Department of Agriculture (ISDA) from the Chobani Idaho Inc. production were visually noted, by the laboratory technician, that surface defects were present and additional testing was conducted noting a yeast like growth developing in the yogurt samples.”

chobani-recall-2013-updateThe FDA inspections also prompted Chobani to clean various pieces of equipment at the Twin Falls facility. After some “minor deficiencies” were reported, the FDA did not issue a mandatory recall or take further action.

ISDA spokeswoman Pamela Juker said state regulators never took note of any mold during the July inspections, and she’s unsure where the FDA got its information.

“All of the raw and finished product-testing results met the requirements of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance,” Juker said. “All of the tests we’ve done met the requirements.”

Chobani repeatedly has declined to provide details on the issue. But Weber Shandwick, a third-party public relations firm, emailed a company response Wednesday.

“Our goal is to ensure our Idaho facility is not just a leader in size, but also in cleanliness, quality and safety,” a Chobani official wrote. “To accomplish this, we have brought in significant resources and are working with internal as well as outside experts to put together one of the most advanced food safety and quality systems in our industry.”

Uh-huh.

And I prefer science as an enhancement of nature.

I loves me the berries, so do many others, so a kid from Japan decides it’s lucrative to pick strawberries in Australia

Sorenne was quick to the fruit at the compact market in Melbourne tonight: 2 punnets of strawberries.

Strawberries ripening on vineShe gets it from her father, who got it from his mother, except the strawberry season in Australia is almost year round, while in Ontario, it’s five weeks.

I do love my berries.

I’m not alone: according to statistics published by the United States Department of Agriculture and cited in the New York Times, percent since 2000.

But if you compare apples and oranges, you’ll find we now eat 9 percent less of each, and 11 percent fewer bananas. The decline in those three mainstays, which still account for 49 percent of the fresh fruit we eat, has made room in our diets for more berries, pineapples (up 99 percent), mangoes (up 42 percent), papayas (up 41 percent), tangerines (up 40 percent), lemons (up 56 percent) and avocados (up 139 percent), which, yes, the agriculture department says are fruit.

per capita consumption of fresh raspberries grew 475 percent from 2000 to 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. Blueberry consumption is up 411 percent, and strawberries are up 60 percent.

Before you pat yourself on the back for your healthy eating habits, you should know you’re probably not eating a lot more fresh fruit in total: The latest reading is 48 pounds per person per year, up just 1

If people are eating more of some kind of fruit, it’s probably because farmers have figured out how to deliver more of it, at higher quality, throughout the year.

raspberryOf course, there is the “superfood” factor: Both raspberries and blueberries have been praised for their nutrient value. But Chris Romano, who leads global produce procurement for Whole Foods, attributes the boom in berries largely to taste and availability.

“Techniques in growing raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have gotten much better over the last 15 years,” he said. Growers are planting better breeds of berry, with higher sugar content; they’re using pruning and growing techniques that extend the season, including growing berries inside greenhouse-like structures called tunnels that retain heat; and most important, they’re growing berries in places they didn’t used to, where production is possible at different times of year.

sorenne.strawberry.13Historically, blueberries needed to be grown in regions that get cold weather for part of the year, because rising temperatures bring the plants out of dormancy. But newer “low-chill” blueberry varieties have helped make berries available all year by expanding production to formerly inappropriate areas like coastal California. That helps make more berries available in months like November.

While the U.S. imports many of its fresh fruits, Australia is its own island.

So much so that on my flight back from Japan the other day I was sitting beside a 21-year-old Japanese kid who was going to pick fresh strawberries in Bundaberg (north of Brisbane), because it was that lucrative (and they probably can’t get locals to do the work).

Food safety, and microbial transmission are increasingly international.

Consumer food safety efforts (or, environmental scans aren’t about camping)

I started out my career in food safety as an undergraduate student looking for some sort of direction or passion. It was post-y2k and I really just wanted to find something fun to do and stay in Guelph with all my friends.

After one night of expressing my disappointment of not getting a job as a councilor at a science camp, one of those friends, Lindsay Core, suggested that I contact this professor (Doug) who was interested in food safety – he might have a job. After a couple of emails he told me to show up to his lab to learn how to do the news.

I didn’t know what the news was. I figured I’d find out when I arrived.

Doug was running FSNet, a daily food safety listerv (the precursor to barfblog), and a couple of other lists. The news meant scouring the Internets for content that would be edited into those listserv postings. I showed up everyday as summer student, read everything I could and became really passionate about foodborne illness stuff.

NA-picThe rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

At the start of summer 2014, soon-to-be MS student Nicole Arnold (right, exactly as shown)  was helping out with a couple of projects that my group was running – and doing the news. One day I got a call from Shelley Feist at the Partnership for Food Safety Education about a research question: would we be able to gather some data on who was doing what in the world of consumer food safety education. I said I had a student who might be a good fit for her needs.

I emailed Nicole and asked her if she wanted to do an environmental scan.

As she stated this morning during a talk the 2014 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference, she thought I was asking her about a camping project.

After administering a questionnaire electronically and by phone to almost 400 front-line folks who are actively engaging with people in their communities about food safety stuff she answered Shelley’s questions: lots of different types of interventions are out there, most are delivering face-to-face; many programs are directed at high-risk populations; only about half measure whether their efforts had any impacts; and, there are some audience gaps.

Here’s the press release that the partnership sent out today about Nicole’s work. A paper will be submitted shortly, but in the interim preliminary analysis of the raw data can be found here.

Partnership for Food Safety Education Conducts First-Ever Analysis of Food Safety Education Initiatives across Sectors

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Federal government, cooperative extensions and public health agencies are identified as the most active organizations in educating consumers about safe food handling at home, according to an environmental scan report commissioned by the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE). The analysis of current activity and initiatives in food safety education across different sectors was released today at the Consumer Food Safety Education Conference 2014 in Arlington, Va. and is available at teamfoodsafety.org.

The survey found that in today’s digital environment, most food safety education is done in person. According to the survey, 90 percent of the people that consider themselves food safety educators connect with consumers via face-to-face meetings and presentations. The next most-used channel is online, with 36 percent of educators using this method to connect with consumers.

“We conducted this environmental scan for the Partnership for Food Safety Education to better understand where health and food educators are focusing their consumer outreach activities,” said Dr. Benjamin Chapman, associate professor in the department of Youth, Family, and Community Sciences at NCSU. “Gathering data on educators’ delivery methods and target audiences allows the food safety community to see where gaps exist – and provide a roadmap for where to put resources in the future.”

Of the groups surveyed, the federal government was identified as reaching the greatest numbers of consumers through programs such as Food Safe Families, Cook it Safe and Fight BAC!®. Cooperative extensions represent the greatest number of educators who come in contact with consumers on the topic of home safe food handling.

Across the three most active groups, food safety education outreach has been predominantly aimed at reaching children/students and adults with children at home. Public health was found to be a primary sector reaching elderly populations. Low-income populations, pregnant women and people who buy food were secondary targets for food safety educators.

Another finding of the survey is that measuring the impact of food safety education programs is not always a top priority. Across all of the groups surveyed, half (52 percent) measure the impact of their programs, while the remaining 48 percent either do not conduct evaluations of these efforts or don’t know if there is an evaluation system in place. Those organizations that do measure effectiveness do so using tools such as pre and post surveys, tests/quizzes, audits/visits and surveillance.

“We all need to do a better job of measuring and then telling the story of the impact of food safety education on consumer health,” said Shelley Feist, Executive Director, Partnership for Food Safety Education. “Much of this year’s Consumer Food Safety Education Conference is focused on program evaluation and tactics for measuring program impact. Our hope is that the conversations and the tools shared in these sessions will make measurement a more attainable goal across the board.”

For those unable to attend the Consumer Food Safety Education Conference, several plenary sessions will be broadcast live on December 4-5 at www.teamfoodsafety.org/live.

Methodology

PFSE commissioned North Carolina State University to conduct the survey in 2014 to identify the most involved organizations, the audiences they serve, and the channels most frequently used to communicate safe food handling messages. For a complete description of methodology please visit: www.teamfoodsafety.org/scan

Is this mechanically tenderized meat?

I’ve been frustrated with the rate that large cuts of meat thaw at and have used a variety of methods (running under water; microwaving; or, thawing as part of the cook step) to speed it up. I’ve never resorted to beating the meat on the pavement. According to the Daily Mail, that’s what a chef at a San Francisco restaurant decided to do (below, exactly as shown).

Captured on video outside Lucky River, a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Sunnyside neighborhood, the chef appears to lift and slam two slabs of beef up and down onto the ground.

When a concerned inspector from the city’s health department arrived to question the apparently bemused staff, they simply said the man was attempting to tenderize the meat and ‘defrost’ it by beating it off the concrete.

However, when local news made the trip down to examine the exact section of sidewalk they discovered it was covered in gum, cigarette butts and general filth. The owner of the restaurant said that the defrosting incident was an isolated one and that the meat was never used in any meals.

After seeing the shocking video, the San Francisco Public Health Department gave the owners of Lucky River just one month to clean up their act or face closure. If the owners do not get their staff to enroll in an eight-hour Food Manager Class, earn and print food handlers cards and go on remedial food safety courses within one month, the restaurant will be forced to close.

Pat Quinn, ‘one of hockey’s most respected individuals,’ has died

Whenever I travel, people ask me what I do, and it inevitably evolves into discussions about food safety and hockey.

patquinnThe topics aren’t necessarily connected, other than commitment.

I’m thankful for my parents who spent endless hours at the ice rink so I could play, and I’m thankful for all the food safety types who let me play as well.

Pat Quinn, a Hamilton (that’s in Canada) boy, passed away yesterday and was widely praised as a respected hockey dude.

That’s about the best most of us can hope for, whatever our profession.

Quinn, a two-time Jack Adams winner for coach of the year, led both Philadelphia (1980) and Vancouver (1994) to the Stanley Cup Finals as a bench boss and was highly decorated internationally, winning gold medals at the U-18, World Junior, World Cup and — most famously — the Olympic level, guiding Canada to victory in 2002 at Salt Lake.

Quinn also served as the chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Here’s the statement from Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden, who played for Quinn in Vancouver:

“We have lost a great man. It’s a sad day for hockey and for everyone who loves our game. On this difficult day I am thinking about Pat, his family and his friends, and how much he will be missed.

sorenne.hockey“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for Pat. He was a great leader and always a teacher. He taught me how to be a professional on and off the ice. He taught me how to play hockey the right way, how to win, and about the importance of respect and loyalty.

“Pat’s impact on our city has been immeasurable. He was responsible for bringing hockey to the forefront in Vancouver. He brought the pride back to the Canucks and today his finger prints and impact are still felt within this organization.”

It’s what I’ve tried to instill in my five daughters. and food safety types around the world.

Proper cleaning and sanitizing matters; so does correcting infractions

Restaurants I want to eat at have some common attributes: tasty food, decent value and a good food safety culture. Food safety culture isn’t about having a training program – it’s about identifying hazards, understanding how to manage them and when deficiencies are pointed out, reacting by addressing problems.

I avoid places that have trouble responding to the help that local public health regulatory folks provide. Everyone can have a bad day, but having two or three consecutive inspections and not correcting the issues is a trend that says more about what an operator values.JS51071999

According to GetHampshire.com, Woodys Take Out received a formal caution by local regulators after not heeding inspectors’ warnings to address their food safety activities.

The offences, noted during visits on October 23 and November 3, included a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection of the premises and equipment such as chopping boards, handles and taps.

Food handlers were also found to not have been suitably trained in food hygiene procedures and demonstrated a poor understanding of effective cleaning.

There was also a failure to implement required food safety management systems.

The director of the company – which has branches in Farnborough, Aldershot, Blackwater and Yiewsley – accepted the cautions, admitting the offences on behalf of the company.

As part of this action, the takeaway voluntarily closed for one day to ensure that the premises were brought up to the minimum standard required by law.

Good cleaning and sanitizing takes having the right equipment, staff that know how to do it and an organizational value system that ensures it gets carried out. Dirty utensils and cutting boards in the prep area can lead to cross-contamination risks.