We pay tax dollars for this? Safe Food Queensland sucks

Safe Food Queensland: What do you get when you cross a Smurf with cheese?  Blue Cheese.  #cheesejoke #jokes #food #cheese

you.suckSafe Food Queensland should maybe focus on providing reports on the E. coli O157 outbreak that sickened 50 at the Ekka in 2013. Follow-up? Nothing.


In November 2013, at least 220 people were felled by salmonella and one was killed at Melbourne Cup functions, all linked to raw egg-based dishes served by Piccalilli Catering. Follow-up? Nothing.

In January 2015 at least 130 diners were stricken with salmonella after dining at Brisbane’s Chin Chin Chinese Restaurant. Dozens were hospitalised. Follow-up? Nothing.

In March 2015, 250 teachers contracted salmonella at a conference and an additional 20 people were sickened on the Gold Coast from the same egg supplier. Follow-up? Nothing.

But way to make bad, taxpayer-funded jokes, Safe Food Queensland.

Food safety costs money: OSI Group nearing $1 bn

US based meat supplier OSI Group has lost around six billion yuan ($967.6 million) since a food safety scandal in China last summer, a senior China-based executive for the firm told the official Xinhua news agency.

osi-logoThe report, published late on Tuesday, underlines how severe the impact of food safety scares can be in China, which has seen a series of stomach churning scandals from decades old meat to milk tainted with industrial chemical melamine which led to the deaths of at least six infants.
OSI Group said in January it had lost “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost revenue in China since an undercover local media report alleged to show workers at its Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd plant using out-of-date meat and doctoring production dates.

Operations at Shanghai Husi, which supplied meat to McDonald’s Corp and Yum Brands Inc, were suspended following the reports. Local authorities launched an investigation into the matter and OSI’s chief executive said he was appalled over misteps at the plant.
OSI China’s vice president Lu Yong told Xinhua on Tuesday the firm had suffered the near $1 billion loss since the scandal last July and that many factories were still suspended

Actors should stick to acting, not medical advice

It was about 2002 when someone posted a death threat on the door of my lab.

jim_carey_by_aporelimprevisto-d5fyl39We had done comparative studies of consumer preferences for genetically engineered and conventional crops, and this person didn’t like the results (GE won).

I wasn’t too frazzled — I’m used to being called an asshole — but I had about 15 people working with me and they were, understandably, frazzled.

So we met with campus security – mall cops? – and they advised us on preventative steps.

Anti-vaxxers in the U.S. are employing similar tactics.

According to the Courier Mail, groups campaigning against vital immunization have started going further: harassing, intimidating and smearing the reputations of people who disagree with them.

They have sent their opponents death threats, published their private information online (a practice known as “doxxing”) and sent vicious letters to their employers.

Most disturbing of all, parents have seen their children targeted. A woman belonging to the pro-vaccination group Anti Vax Wall of Shame told Jezebel that her 11-year-old daughter had been sent a threatening Facebook message.

It read: “Your mother is a fat, ugly, lazy piece of s*** who tried to kill you. She is a bully and suffers from mental problems. She is under investigation for the hate groups and illegal computer crimes she’s committing. I hope you like your new home. You can thank me when you’re older.”

The woman said she had also received messages saying her husband had AIDS, her children were ugly and that her kids had rotting teeth.

The administrator of Anti-Vaxxers Wall of Shame, Allison Hagood, has had her address and photo posted in anti-vaxxer Facebook groups, along with comments calling her a “whore.”

Her employer, the University of Colorado, has received emails saying she shouldn’t be allowed to teach psychology. “There’s a core group that are irrational to the point of dangerousness,” said Hagood, who, for her part, insists that no posts on her “mocking” page are threatening or offensive, or identify any of the anti-vaxxers it satirizes.

The frightening trend has ramped up following Thursday’s passing of a Senate Bill called SB 277 by the California assembly, which will end vaccination exemptions on personal or religious grounds.

How about a Canadian angle on Canada Day.

When actor and fellow Canadian Jim Carrey gives advice on medical issues, my response is, stick to acting.

“California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped.

Sometimes people with a megaphone go outside their fields of expertise – I’m thinking Linus Pauling and vitamin C.


You can’t handle the truth: Surveys still suck and do not measure behavior

Food safety training is an important tool in preventing foodborne illness (FI), which affects millions of people each year in the United States and around the world and costs billions of dollars.

food.safety.trainingTraining gives those working in the food service industry the knowledge and skills necessary to properly handle, cook and serve food.

The objectives of this research was to assess changes in knowledge of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County’s (PHDMC) Level One Food Safety Certification program participants, analyze which questions were most often answered incorrectly, and determine whether there was a relationship between quiz scores and primary job responsibility, using pre- and postquiz training data. The course teaches food safety topics, including handwashing, employee hygiene, correct cooking and holding temperatures, sanitization duties of the person in charge, and others. The participants are offered a quiz at the beginning of the course, and the same quiz is offered after completion of the two-hour training.

Pre-training and post-training quiz score data were obtained from approximately 692 participants completing the PHDMC Level One Food Safety Certification program from 2011 to 2013. Paired t-tests were used to evaluate change in scores overall, on individual questions, and by job responsibility. Quiz scores significantly improved both aggregately (20.6%) and in nine out of the ten questions. The temperature-related questions had the most incorrect answers (score range: 38% – 71%) but also showed the most improvement (improvement range: 28% – 49%). This research shows that PHDMC’s Level One Food Safety Certification class was associated with a change in knowledge of participants from pre- to post-training.

Increasing knowledge with food safety training at public health – Dayton & Montgomery County

Food Protection Trends, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 262-269, July 2015

Matthew M. Tyler, Naila Khalil, Sara Paton


Ignoring the safety: NZ company guilty of supplying Listeria-infected meat to hospital

We won’t get caught. No one got sick yesterday, so there’s a greater chance no one will get sick today.

These basics of of the human psyche continue to undermine tragedies from Bhopal to BP to the Challenger and food safety.

But with all the toys and technology, you’ll be found out – so act accordingly, even if decent humanity is not enough against the directive of profit.

A meat processor, its director and an employee have admitted selling Listeria-contaminated meat to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital and omitting to listeria4provide test results showing meat had tested positive.

The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board discovered cold ready to eat meats supplied by the company was contaminated in July 2012, after a number of Listeria cases had been linked to the hospital kitchen.

The outbreak claimed the life of 68-year-old Patricia Hutchinson on June 9 that year, and contributed to the death of an 81-year-old woman on July 9. Two other people were infected.

Bay Cuisine has pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Food Act and was not charged in connection with the Listeria infections.

When the health board discovered a link between the infections and the hospital kitchen it sent 62 unopened plastic pouches of Bay Cuisine meat products to ESR for testing. All the pouches were found to contain Listeria.

A summary of facts complied by the Ministry for Primary Industries said the company had the contract to supply the hospital since 2002.

The summary states that on July 9, 2012 the DHB requested copies of all test results Bay Cuisine had carried out for Listeria. Production manager Christopher Mackie replied by telling the DHB a batch of corned silverside had tested negative for Listeria, when in fact it had tested “presumptive positive”.

The following day an officer from the Ministry, investigating the Listeria cases at the hospital, requested test results. Mackie sent these on July 13 but again omitted reports showing that some products had tested “presumptive positive”.

But analysis of cellphone text messages between MacKie and company director Garth Wise show that on the evening of July 12 Wise had sent a text to Mackie suggesting that he “hold back the presumptive listeria ones [results] as there is only 3 or 4 of them and we just send the good”.

A subsequent search of the Bay Cuisine premises by the Ministry found the company had not provided the original, correct spreadsheet to the Ministry. This spreadsheet showed positive Listeria tests for meat products on June 18 and July 10.

Bay Cuisine, Wise and Mackie appeared in Napier District Court on Friday.

Through its lawyer Jonathan Krebs the company pleaded guilty to five representative charges of selling contaminated food, one charge of suppressing test results and one charge of omitting to provide information to the Ministry. Mackie pleaded guilty to one charge of suppressing test results and one of omitting information. Wise pleaded guilty to one charge of omitting information.

More than 140 other charges were dropped by the Ministry. The company and the men vacated not-guilty pleas that had entered a year ago.

Other charges to which the company pleaded guilty related to meats it had provided to various outlets between May and July 2012.

The company faces a fine of up to $500,000 on the charges of deception and omitting information and fines of up to $5000 for each of the other five charges. Wise and Mackie faces a maximum fine of $100,000.

Hangi? NZ food act will see unlicensed online sellers fined

I have no idea what hangi is, but because of the Intertubes, I looked it up (and wiki is never wrong):

Maori-HangiHāngi (Māori pronunciation: [ˈhaːŋi]) is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions.

To “lay a hāngi” or “put down a hāngi” involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the hāngi.[1]

According to New Zealand regs, selling homemade hangi without a licence could soon land people with a $450 fine.

The online sale of hangi and other food items has caused an influx of complaints to the New Plymouth District Council recently.

The council’s manager of regulatory services Mary-Anne Priest said phone calls about Facebook pages being used to sell homemade food, and in particular hangi, were growing.

“The staff here have said they’ve handled more complaints about food recently than ever before. People are seeing food for sale on websites and ringing the council to see if it’s ok,” Priest said.

“When we contact the sellers a lot of them seem a little bit unaware that they are required to be licensed. Once we have spoken to them a lot of them have stopped selling.”

She said one-off sales for fundraising events were exempt and the council was not concerned about those.

“But we will go and investigate if people are selling for personal gain.”

Priest said if the online sale of food from unlicensed sellers and unregistered kitchens continued after the Food Act 2014 came into effect in March, then sellers could be hit with a $450 fine for operating without a licence.

She said there would be significant changes happening under the new act and the regulations were due to be released by central government in the next two weeks.

Tastes like chicken: Insects set to appear on Swiss plates

Crickets, locusts and mealworms could be on Swiss menus and supermarket shelves next year, after being given the green light by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

insects.foodHowever, the range of insects on offer is currently limited to these three species because of protein allergies and production conditions.

A consultation period on commercializing the consumption of insects runs until October.

At present, a permit is required to serve up insects, as has already been done at museum nights or at a buffet in parliament last year where politicians were served mealworm hamburgers, cricket rissoles and grasshopper mousse. Feedback was by and large positive.

The authorization of insects as food is part of a comprehensive revision of the Swiss food law.

On Monday the Food Safety and Veterinary Office announced a paradigm shift: all food should be allowed which is safe and corresponds to the law.

Until now it was the other way around: all food that was not explicitly mentioned in the law needed a permit. For example, a milk fat product that doesn’t contain enough milk to be turned into butter will in future no longer need a permit – although it still won’t be able to be sold as butter.

Let them eat ass, say Egypt’s food safety officials

Donkey meat, though “disgusting”, is perfectly safe to consume, according to the head of the Egyptian Food Safety Authority, as food prices continue to rocket and grocery bills mount up.

donkeyAs long as the beast has been slaughtered hygienically, it is perfectly safe to eat donkey meat, Egypt’s top food safety official has announced.

And cooked to the proper temperature – whatever that is.

The statement is the latest twist in an ongoing food scandal in Egypt, as fears grow that donkey meat has been passed off as beef to unsuspecting shoppers.

“Donkey meat is exactly the same as any other meat,” Hussein Mansour told an Egyptian TV channel. “It is only harmful if it is slaughtered using unhygienic methods – but it is disgusting, and some religions do not allow its consumption.”

The official attempted to downplay public fears, saying the beast of burden – as well as dog meat – had long been eaten by blissfully unaware Egyptians.

“If you’ve eaten donkey by mistake, have no fears, nothing will happen,” said Mansour.

“Two scientific studies have shown that donkey and dog meat have been sold in minced meat and ready-made sandwiches for ages. It looks and tastes just like any other meat – even I can’t tell the difference.”

Local news reported last week that Egyptian police raided a farm in Fayoum, which was found to be raising donkeys for human consumption. A drove of 1,500 live and 30 slaughtered donkeys were reportedly seized from the farm.

The owner of the donkey farm, reportedly still in police custody, claims the animals were being raised to feed lions in circuses around Cairo.

Ask questions at the farmers market; the grower is (usually) right there

Where I grew up (Port Hope, Ontario – that’s in Canada), there was a small tailgate farmers market Saturday mornings in the parking lot adjacent to Valu-Mart. My mom and I shopped there sometimes and I never really wondered whether the stuff was safe. I didn’t think a whole lot about food safety and regulation until years later. I figured that if someone could sell it, they must know what they are doing, and I didn’t have to worry about it.

Food safety is all about trust, and I had lots of it.

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As a more mature food safety-focused shopper, I don’t care what size the farm is, where they are located geographically or what their production style is – I only want to know whether the person making what I’m eating can manage food safety risks or not. And whether they do it all the time.

When our group started working with farmers markets a few years ago we created a strong partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Together, with funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund, we developed best practices and engaged with market managers and vendors through workshops and on-site visits. The focus was to help market folks manage food safety risks – and engage with the interested public around what they do to keep food safe.

The growing trend of farmers’ market shopping allows for direct engagement between producer and eater and when Kim Painter of USA Today asked me about questions I ask when I walk through vendor stalls I told her I go full food safety nerd and ask about handwashing (and other stuff).

Markets are subject to state and local food safety rules, but some practices – including the provision of hand-washing facilities for vendors – should be followed everywhere, says Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. Chapman also asks whether workers have had food safety training and how equipment is kept clean. Finally, he asks about farming practices, including how farm water is tested for safety and how farms that raise animals keep animals and their waste out of fruit and vegetable fields. Illness outbreaks have been linked to foods sold at both grocery stores and farmers markets, he says. “I think there’s a perception that the products you would get at a farmers market are safer. But we don’t have that data.”

Click here to check out the asking questions at farmers’ markets infosheet we put together last year.