Blue Bell recalls all of their ice cream

According to the Dallas News, Blue Bell has recalled all of the ice cream that they have ever produced throughout their 108-year existence.

The initial recall was announced on March 13 after products manufactured in a Brenham TX plant were linked to a cluster of listeriosis including 3 deaths and 2 illnesses. With additional information came additional recall expansions. And now it’s all the ice cream products.

A message from CEO and President, Paul Kruse on the Blue Bell website states:BLUEBELL_43460737

Through further internal testing, we learned today that Listeria monocytogenes was found in an additional half gallon of ice cream in our Brenham facility. While we initially believed this situation was isolated to one machine in one room, we now know that was wrong. We need to know more to be completely confident that our products are safe for our customers.

As Blue Bell moves forward, we are implementing a procedure called “test and hold” for all products made at all of our manufacturing facilities. This means that all products released will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe.

In addition to the “test and hold” system, Blue Bell is implementing additional safety procedures and testing including:

-          Expanding our already robust system of daily cleaning and sanitizing of equipment

-          Expanding our system of swabbing and testing our plant environment by 800 percent to include more surfaces (what was it before -ben?)

-          Sending samples daily to a leading microbiology laboratory for testing

-          Providing additional employee training
We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers.  Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream, and we intend to fix this problem.   We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.

Too bad it takes such a tragic event to lead to the action.

It’s gross: fish and chip shop owner fined for sanitation issues

I was explaining to an American friend what a chip butty was this weekend. The oh-so-British delicacy of white bread, butter and french fries all wrapped up into an artery stopping sandwich. The butty was a menu favorite of my grandfather (who introduced me to it when I was a kid) and you could only get one at real pubs (the ones that show Manchester U on Saturday mornings and illegally serve beer before 11) or traditional fish and chip shops.

Like the Nevill Street Chippy in Southport (that’s in England).JS61352288

According to the Liverpool Echo, Chippy owner Kim Paskin was recently fined for breaching local sanitation rules following an inspection.

They found the inside of the microwave that was used to heat up mushy peas and beans to be coated in grime, as well as the can opener being covered in ‘brown grime’ and the top lid of the chest freezer in the potato preparation room to be covered in flour and ‘not sufficiently cleaned or maintained.’JS61351526

Cigarette butts were found on the floor of a food storage area – indicating that people were smoking on the premises – where canned drinks and cans of beans and peas were kept.

The prosecution for Sefton Council noted a ‘tennis-ball sized hole’ in the wall which led out onto the yard, which inspectors said would be an access point for vermin into the kitchen and preparation areas – although there was no evidence to suggest there were any on the premises.

These are all nasty, but only one foodborne illness risk factors showed up:

Inspectors also found insufficient hand washing facilities, with the bottom of the wash basin covered in grime and no soap or hand drying facilities available.

The other stuff fits the yuck factor category, but no handwashing sink/equipment/soap is bad news.




Foodborne Illness: Consumer Costs, Consequences, and Choices (via The Abstract)

I’m collaborating with Matt Shipman, public information officer at NC State University and curator of The Abstract, on a set of food safety-related posts from other NCSU folks as we roll toward WHO’s World Health Day on April 7– which is focused this year on food safety. Here’s a post on consumer purchasing issues as they relate to food safety from my friend Kathryn Boys, an assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at NC State.

Changes to our food system have increased the availability and variety of foods for U.S. consumers, but these changes have also introduced food safety challenges that can have significant impacts on human health and the economy. Researchers are working to develop new food safety tools – and in the meantime there are actions consumers can take to lower their risk of foodborne illness.Boys-Food-Safety-HEADER-848x477

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million instances of foodborne illnesses occur annually in the U.S., resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The value of medical costs, productivity losses, long-term mental and other health impacts, and the costs of premature deaths stemming from these events is substantial. The fourteen pathogens that account for a majority of U.S. foodborne illness have recently been estimated to cost the U.S. economy $14 billion and cause a loss of 61,000 quality-adjusted life years annually.

The potential for a specific foodborne illness outbreak to have a broad and significant impact on human health and the economy is compounded by the integration and globalization of food supply chains. Historically, because of perishability and the fact that produce was predominantly consumed in its raw form, incidents involving produce contaminated in a farm setting would have only affected consumers geographically near the farm. Today, through improved transportation and logistics networks and increased processing, that same produce has the potential to be used in a wider variety of products and affect consumers far from where it was grown.

In addition, identifying the source of contamination may be challenging and time consuming for food wholesalers and other distributors who aggregate products from across many suppliers and who have not implemented traceability practices. And that delay in tracing the source of the contamination means there is more time in which additional consumers may become sick.

When Illness Strikes: Impact on Individual Consumers

A majority of consumers who become ill due to foodborne illness recover at home or with minor medical assistance. In cases of severe illness that can be attributed to either food prepared outside of their home (i.e., restaurants), or contaminated prior to entering their home, consumers may pursue legal remedy for their illness. Information on the number or outcomes of cases settled out of court is not available. We do have some insight, however, of food safety cases settled through jury trials.

Buzby, et al., analyzed federal jury trials (1988-1997) for foodborne pathogens to determine which factors of the incident/case most influenced the trial outcomes. These authors found that 31.4 percent of cases were won by plaintiffs, and juries awarded a median of $25,560 (ranging from $0 to $2.37 million in 1998 dollars). Demographic characteristics of the plaintiff, the ability of plaintiffs to link their illness to a specific pathogen, and the severity of the health impact resulted in higher awards.

Given increasing public and media attention to foodborne illness, continued integration of food supply networks, and improved traceability systems, it is likely that both the number of cases and the amount of these awards will increase over time. I am currently working with collaborators at Virginia Tech and the USDA Economic Research Service to examine this issue.

Foodborne Illness: Preventative Market Measures

Most U.S. consumers have faith in the safety of food supply chain. In general, consumers expect their products to be free from dangerous levels of contamination and to be efficiently recalled if there is a problem. However, the incidence of foodborne illness suggests that problems remain.

Higher levels of food safety can be attained for most food products, lowering the risk of purchasing a contaminated product. But increased food safety comes at a cost.

Research has explored how much more consumers are willing to pay for higher levels of food safety.

In general, findings indicate that U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for higher levels of safety due to risk from microbial, chemical or physical (e.g., metal) contamination. How much more, however, has been found to vary considerably depending on the research setting, the particular food products being studied, the extent of risk reduction, and the research participants’ adherence to safe food handling practices, perception of risk, and demographic characteristics.  The same is true for perceived threats to food safety from other sources.

Consumers concerned about pesticide residues or genetic modification, for example, are willing to pay higher prices for organic and non-GMO foods. Consumer willingness to pay to avoid other food technologies, such as artificial colorants, fruit-ripening technologies, growth hormones and other growth promotants, and nanotechnology (among many others) has been summarized by Lusk, et al.

Consumers interested in decreasing their risk of foodborne illness have the option of buying products from companies with good food safety records, and to keep abreast of product recalls and safety alerts. Once food has entered the home, the food handling and sanitation practices that consumers can take to limit their risk of foodborne illness are generally well known. Information about safe food handling techniques can be found at

In the future, additional tools are also likely to be available to consumers. By way of example, food producers often signal the presence (or absence) of specific food attributes through a growing array of food certification and labeling schemes. While at present, there is no label to identify products with higher levels of microbial food safety, it is possible that one may emerge. In addition, human vaccines are currently under development to protect against illness due to Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. These and other tools are likely to significantly change the food safety market and policy landscape in coming years.

World Health Day 2015, Food Safety – the Global View

The message bears repeating: On World Health Day 2015, the World Health Organization and Europe estimates that levels of foodborne disease are much higher than currently reported and underlines the need for improved collaboration among sectors to lower the health risks associated with unsafe food. food chain is longer and more complex than ever before, and demographic, cultural, economic and environmental developments – globalized trade, travel and migration, an ageing population, changing consumer trends and habits, new technologies, emergencies, climate change and extreme weather events – are increasing foodborne health risks. 

“The fact that we significantly underestimate how many people become ill from chemicals in the food chain and from common microorganisms such as Salmonella and Campylobacter should start alarm bells ringing across the many areas with a stake in our food chain. A failure in food safety at any link in this chain, from the environment, through primary production, processing, transport, trade, catering or in the home, can have significant health and economic consequences,” says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

*Contamination from a single source may become widespread and have enormous health and economic consequences. In 2011, for example, an enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) outbreak in Germany and France, linked to imported contaminated fenugreek seeds, led to almost 4000 cases of EHEC infection in 16 countries, including more than 900 haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) cases and 55 deaths. The estimated loss for farmers and industries was US$ 1.3 billion.

*Changes in animal food production are leading to an increase in the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases. Of 335 emerging infectious disease events in humans between 1940 and 2004, it is estimated that 60% were transmitted from animals and many of these were foodborne. 

who.factors1-300x178WHO calls on policy-makers:

*To build and maintain adequate food safety systems and infrastructures, including laboratory capacities and surveillance and reporting systems; 

*To respond to and manage food safety risks along the entire food chain, including during emergencies;

*To foster multisectoral collaboration among public health, animal health, agriculture and other sectors for better communication, information sharing and joint action;

*To integrate food safety into broader food policies and programmes (e.g. nutrition and food security);

*To think globally and act locally to ensure that food produced domestically is as safe as possible internationally.

World Health Day 2015, celebrated on 7 April, is an opportunity to recognize the important food safety role of all those involved in food production, and to strengthen collaboration and coordination among these various areas, in order to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne diseases efficiently and cost-effectively. A kaleidoscope of events is planned across the globe. 

People are also invited to engage through social media and to promote “From farm to plate: make food safe” using the hashtag #safefood.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) says to be able to meet the demand for milk, eggs and meat and guarantee their safety, it is first of all essential to control pathogens in animals on the farm.

Eliminating or controlling food hazards at source has proved more effective than an approach relying solely on checking the finished product.


Canada says Canada is best at food safety, but inspectors don’t have CSI goggles to see bacteria: Leaked documents contradict CFIA claims, as Lilydale recall grows

Not sure what’s going on in Canada, but consumer confidence in food safety should be questionable.

rick.holleyLeaked documents appear to contradict statements by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s top bureaucratd that oversight at meat processing plants in Alberta has not been reduced as the federal watchdog grapples with staff shortages and tight budgets.

In a tersely worded release issued in the aftermath of this week’s allegations by meat inspectors that the frequency of some checks have been cut in half at facilities in the northern half of the province, CFIA-president-and-former-Guelph-squash-player Bruce Archibald said the union’s claims  were false and unnecessarily undermined Canadian confidence in their food safety system.

But an internal strategy document obtained by the Calgary Herald shows the agency had plans in to reduce the daily presence of inspectors in plants and the frequency of some of their tasks by up to 50 per cent starting in early January of this year.

While inspectors would still visit plants that export to the U.S. every day to ensure compliance with that country’s standards, the strategy shows facilities that produced solely for the Canadian market would now only see an inspector three days a week.

“Processing group will not be able to complete work as per program design,” the document said.

“With reduced inspector presence at establishments, the CVS (compliance verification system) must be reduced.”

Agency officials did not respond to a request to interview Archibald about the apparent contradiction between his comments and the detailed strategy outlined in the December document that inspectors union president Bob Kingston says was implemented on January 5 as planned by CFIA managers.

“We have bent over backwards to be factually correct about what’s happening and our members get pretty upset when the head of the CFIA calls them liars,” Kingston said in an interview.

“This is not about protecting  jobs, but about whether the agency has the resources it needs to ensure the safety of  food on Canadian kitchen tables and store shelves.”

The controversy over the inspection cuts in Alberta – made as CFIA grappled with a $43.3 million reduction in annual budget for food safety and with the prospect of more financial pain next year – comes as the agency deals with a growing recall of products from one of the plants where oversight has been reduced in recent months.

patrick.stewartThe agency’s inspectors were busy Thursday pulling potentially tainted turkey made by Lilydale Inc. from store shelves across the country, a week after warning consumers that chicken from the company’s plant in Edmonton could be contaminated with the same Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

CFIA said the suspect products were produced on a range of dates, but officials indicated they all appear to have been manufactured on the same line.

The recalls were triggered by positive results from testing of swabs of equipment in the plant and finished product made within a specific time frame, the agency said.

Officials did not directly answer a Herald query as to whether a CFIA inspector was at the plant on all the days when the recalled product was manufactured.

But they did say an inspector was present on March 10, one of the production days in question, when checks were done before the line began operating.

Rick Holley, a food safety expert at the University of Manitoba who advised the government during the deadly Maple Leaf Foods listeria outbreak in 2008, said that recent spikes in listeria outbreaks in processed meats have made him concerned that the meat industry is slacking in its sanitation practices.

“If we let our guard down, I think we’re just asking for trouble,” he said.

Holley said there are five times as many food recalls due to listeria contamination this year than the year before. To come to that conclusion, he analyzed data on food recalls from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and found that in the first three months of 2015, 44 per cent were due to listeria contamination.

Only 9 per cent of recalls during all of 2014 were because of listeria, he said. What concerned him most, he said, was that the listeria outbreak was largely coming from cooked meat and fish products, which means that the bacteria was probably introduced during packaging.

The CFIA boasted in its statement that the Conference Board of Canada has rated Canada’s food safety system number 1 out of 17 OECD countries. This statistic comes from a report co-authored by Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at the University of Guelph. Charlebois said that there is no magic number of food inspectors that will guarantee food safety.

Holly disagreed with his methods, and said it is difficult to compare information across countries.

Rick knows food safety.

Dr. John H. Silliker: Obit

Dr. John H. Silliker

john.silliker.obitJune 20, 1922 – March 19, 2015


Dr. John H. Silliker, a renowned food microbiologist and founder of Silliker Laboratories, the largest independent network of food testing and consulting laboratories in the U.S., died after a brief illness on March 19, 2015. Dr. Silliker, 92, had been a resident of Crown Point, IN, and Naples, FL, for over two decades.

Born in Canada on June 20, 1922, Dr. Silliker was raised in Hollywood, CA, where he counted a number of future movie stars among his high school classmates. He enrolled in the pre-med program at the University of South California in 1940. Unsure of his career path, he left the learning institution after three years and enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Assigned to serve in the prestigious Combat Engineers at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Dr. Silliker was put to work in the medical department at the base. It was there that he befriended a young scientist, Hiroshi Sugiyama, and was mesmerized by a complex microorganism that would one day stand the food industry on its ear: Salmonella.

Dr. Silliker credited Sugiyama, who went on to a distinguished career at the University of Wisconsin’s Food Research Institute, with giving him a crash course on food microbiology. Together, the young soldiers made batches of salmonella antisera in the laboratory. Through a fortuitous stint in army fatigues, Dr. Silliker’s future assumed a decidedly different course.

Following an honorable discharge, Dr. Silliker returned to USC and earned a doctorate in microbiology in 1950. Three years later, he landed his first big career break with Chicago-based Swift and Company. After nine years at Swift, he held the position of chief microbiologist and associate director of research. But he yearned to start his own business.

At this time, St. James Hospital in south suburban Chicago Heights, IL, was seeking someone with his microbiology background to work in its pathology department. On paper, joining a hospital staff didn’t appear to be a logical step for a man with entrepreneurial ambitions. But as part of his employment, St. James agreed he could use its lab to moonlight as a food microbiology consultant. For three years, his consulting business grew steadily. However, a 1965 decree from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which launched warfare on the presence of Salmonella in processed food, placed his days at the hospital on life support.

Due to his extensive Salmonella expertise, Dr. Silliker’s small consulting business was soon overrun with samples and the hospital wanted him gone. He rented a 5,000 square foot, two-floor building down the road from the hospital. Silliker Laboratories was incorporated in Chicago Heights, IL, in 1967. From the brick building, Dr. Silliker took great pride in providing young scientists and local area residents with the opportunity to hone and learn new work skills. 

The focus on food safety took on greater dimensions in the U.S. following the FDA’s declaration of war on Salmonella. Over the next two decades, Silliker Laboratories opened new operations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, and Canada. Dr. Silliker hired two young Ph.Ds — Damien A. Gabis and Russell S. Flowers – to help him grow the organization. Both would go on to helm the company with distinction.
Dr. Silliker was committed to making meaningful contributions to food safety outside the confines of his laboratory. He was an early proponent of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system; developed the revolutionary concept of using sponges to collect environmental samples in food plants; and testified at congressional hearings that resulted in the passage of landmark food safety legislation.

“Retiring” in 1987, Dr. Silliker returned home to California, but remained involved as a company consultant. In the mid-1990s, Institut Merieux, a leading international company dedicated to improving public health, acquired a controlling interest in Silliker. Today, the company is known as Merieux NutriSciences and features over 75 locations in 18 countries.

A sports enthusiast, Dr. Silliker revered Joe “the Brown Bomber” Louis, watched the development of a young California golfing phenom, Tiger Woods, and followed his beloved USC Trojans football team. By a twist of faith, he served as an adjunct professor at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) for a few years and used the income from his alumni’s archrival to pay for his Trojan season tickets, a wicked irony that he enjoyed with immense gusto.

The author of over 80 peer reviewed publications, Dr. Silliker served on numerous scientific committees and groups, including several years on the highly influential International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF). During his exceedingly productive tenure, he served as ICMSF editorial committee chairman for the highly acclaimed two-volume monograph, “Microbial Ecology of Food” (Microorganisms in Foods 3).

For his outstanding contributions, the Institute of Food Technologists, American Academy of Microbiology, NSF International, and International Association for Food Protection and other scientific groups recognized his decades of service.
Upon learning of his death, many of Dr. Silliker’s colleagues praised both the man and the scientist.

Dr. R. Bruce Tompkin, who succeeded Dr. Silliker as Director of Research at Swift and served on the ICMSF board with him, said he was a mentor who gave his time freely even when Silliker Laboratories was in its infancy. “It is not possible to include all of John’s contributions and it isn’t necessary,’ he said. “Each of us has our own recollection of John and how he impacted our professional experience.”

“John was one of the three or four food microbiologists of that period that left an imprint that continues to be important 50+ years later,” said Dr. Robert L. Buchanan, a former FDA official who currently serves on the faculty of the University of Maryland.
“John Silliker was a giant in the food industry,” Russ Flowers said. “The influence he had on my life both professionally and personally is impossible to measure. I will always cherish the many late hours we spent together in the laboratory building Silliker into the most respected brand in food testing.”

Dr. Silliker is survived by his wife, Katherine Lee; his daughters Paula Silliker Goepfert (Pino Tarabelli) and Margaret Elizabeth Silliker (John Ryan); his sister Margaret Silliker Williams; his grandchildren Colin McDonnell Goepfert (Rachel) and Gwendolyn Silliker Goepfert (Nello Patrone); his great grandchildren Connor, Samuel, and William Goepfert; his stepsons James and John Harrell whose mother Marguerite predeceased him; his stepchildren Mary Beth Senne (Scott), Maureen Reid (Dr. J.R.), Margaret Groark (Richard), Michael Lee (Jennifer), Brian Lee (Jennifer); eleven step grandchildren, and two step great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights, IL.


Take charge, inspect yourself: Health violations at Philly airport have dropped

More than a decade ago, city health inspectors would see occasional mouse droppings at Philadelphia International Airport, black residue and slime inside ice machines, and eggs and other cold foods kept at temperatures too warm.

philly.airport.foodIn 2011, the airport approved the hiring of two former city health inspectors, and the results have been dramatic.

Violations for risk factors known to cause food-borne illness have significantly declined. Today, the airport’s 27 eat-in restaurants have a better average than the citywide numbers for 5,000 non-airport eat-in restaurants.

The airport numbers improved after MarketPlace Philadelphia, the company that manages the airport shops and restaurants, hired Ken Gruen, a retired health department district supervisor in West Philadelphia, and Jerry Zager, another health inspector, who worked with Gruen.

The two have a business, Environmental Health Consultants L.L.C. In addition to making sure 70 food establishments between Terminals A and F are up to snuff, their other major client is the Philadelphia Four Seasons Hotel. “We inspect the kitchen, their entire food preparation and storage facility,” Gruen said.

At the airport, Gruen and Zager make the rounds of every terminal once a month, checking food-storage temperatures, cleanliness of floors and countertops, whether there are paper towels, hot water, and soap, and whether the establishment has a current city food license. They also make sure there is a certified food-safety handler on duty, as required by the Philadelphia Health Code.

Denton Hoffman: Champion of on-farm food safety

My longtime friend and mentor, Denton Hoffman, has fallen on hard times.


He slipped on some icy stairs in Guelph, had brain swelling and a subsequent stroke (that’s Denton on the right, with my asparagus baron grandfather, about 15 years ago).

At the suggestion of Gord Surgeoner, I met with Denton as a newly minted prof back in 1998 to devise an on-farm food safety program for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. At least three of my grad students went through the drill, and there was this time, we thought we’d killed Chapman.

Ben and I went along with Uncle Denton to the Canadian Horticulture Council meeting in Montreal in Feb. 2003. I had chaired a national committee on on-farm food safety program implementation – and the advice was completely ignored – Chapman and I had done years of groundwork with Denton and the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, and we agreed to share a room at the annual meeting to cut down on expenses.

There was a couple of receptions and I still remember Ben and I asking Uncle Denton for drink tickets. We then retired to a hotel lounge and I knew trouble was ahead when Chapman asked for a cigarette.

He then went to the bathroom.

He didn’t return.

He showed up a few hours later, seemingly intact.

In 2009, Denton wrote:

As you journey through life you meet the occasional person who makes a real difference.  Dr. Douglas Powell is one of those – to say the least.

Doug called me recently to talk about the early years.  He was new in the On Farm Food Safety business when I was working with the Ontario Greenhouse vegetable group.  Doug was at the University of Guelph and I would talk to him about the phone call I didn’t want to get.  This would be the imaginary call from a senior’s residence wondering why all the occupants were very sick after consuming a fresh salad, and if the cause may have been the greenhouse tomatoes. I never got that call—thank God–but I wanted to be ready.  And that readiness included a strong response indicating we had an On Farm Food Safety program and proof we were capable of tracing our greenhouse product. We’ve seen several incidences in the past few years with certain fresh veggies and berries that almost ruined the industry and certainly crippled those markets for a year or so.

From the University of Guelph and the beginning of the On Farm Food Safety program, Doug has moved to Kansas State University where he is associate professor of food safety. He is still very much in the industry – just relocated to a different university — and still writing newsletters, hence the reputation of “the guru” of On Farm Food Safety.

Doug has remained a good friend over all these years. We developed a bond as we developed an On Farm Food Safety program for greenhouse vegetables and more.  Doug’s philosophy was to keep it simple.  He could relate to growers, and had an uncanny ability to make the complicated science of bacterial contamination simple and understandable. Early on, he received a little help from Dr. Gord Surgeoner.  These were the seeds of the On Farm Food Safety program in Canada, spreading from Ontario Greenhouse to CHC and to most vegetable growers across Canada.

I can still see Doug in an old T-shirt and jeans, holes in both, and running shoes–that was his fashion statement. Of course, his description of toilet paper “slippage” resulting in fecal contamination on your finger was priceless, but his crude description helped to break down the mystery of bacterial contamination by food handlers with dirty hands. Seems to me I got a T-shirt from Doug with “Don’t Eat Poop” written on the front.  Doug continues to be a great communicator, a fair goalie, poor at politics but great at On Farm Food Safety and raising little girls.

Thanks, Doug.  I am proud to say I knew you back when.

And as Ben said yesterday, Denton was a great mentor on how to deal with crazy industry folks.

Denton’s brain still works, and he can be contacted at: 222 Mountainview Road North suite 217

Georgetown,On L7G 3R2

phone: 905-877-1828×1217


This guy was a champion of on-farm food safety, long before it was fashionable.

Food safety should apply everywhere: Community food, fundraisers and markets in NZ

I’ve listened to about all I can stand from the parents at the kid’s tuck shop and their food porn views of safety.

hank.hill.bbqI’ve said, I will help with any food safety issues, but otherwise I’m out.

It’s like coaching hockey: data is never going to convince any parent of their evangelical role, so I choose to avoid it and focus on the kids.

New Zealand has a new food act, that is apparently ruffling feathers among well-meaning parents.

So the ministry decided it had to say something.

What they didn’t say is that food safety is our first and foremost priority.


The Act provides a clear exemption to allow Kiwi traditions like sausage sizzles, home baking at school fairs, raffles and charity fundraisers to take place. 

People selling food once a year, for example, at an annual cultural festival, are also exempt from operating under a Food Control Plan or a National Programme.

There is another exemption that applies to clubs, organisations and societies that would mean for example, members of a cricket club selling food for a match tea, would not have to operate under a Food Control Plan or a National Programme.

The Act allows a person who trades in food solely for fundraisers or to support a charity or cultural or community events to do so up to 20 times in a calendar year without the need to be registered or undergo checks, but people will need to ensure  that the food is safe and suitable to eat.

Food Safety = Behavior, 30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance

My friend, Wal-Mart Frank, has written a follow-up to his 2008 book, Food Safety Culture. This is from the introduction:

food_safety_culture_0_story(1)As a food safety professional, getting others to comply with what you are asking them to do is critical, but it is not easy. In fact, it can be very hard to change other’s behaviors. And if you are like most food safety professionals, you have probably received little or no formal training on how to influence or change people’s behaviors.

But what if I told you that simple and proven behavioral science techniques exist, and, if applied strategically, can significantly enhance your ability to influence others and improve food safety. Would you be interested?

The need to better integrate the important relationship between behavioral science and food safety is what motivated me to write this book, Food Safety = Behavior, 30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance.

When it comes to food safety, people’s attitudes, choices, and behaviors are some of the most important factors that influence the overall safety of our food supply. Real-world examples of how these human factors influence the safety of our food range from whether or not a food worker will decide to wash his or her hands before working with food to the methods a health department utilizes while attempting to improve food safety compliance within a community to the decisions a food manufacturer’s management team will make on how to control a food safety hazard. They all involve human elements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf concepts related to human and social behavior are so important to advancing food safety, why are they noticeably absent or lacking in the food safety profession today? Although there are probably several good reasons, I believe it is largely due to the fact that, historically, food safety professionals have not received adequate training or education in the behavioral sciences. Therefore, there are numerous food safety professionals who approach their jobs with an over-reliance on the food sciences alone. They rely too heavily, in my opinion, on traditional food safety approaches based on training, inspections, and testing.

Despite the fact that thousands of employees have been trained in food safety around the world, millions of dollars have been spent globally on food safety research, and countless inspections and tests have been performed at home and abroad, food safety remains a significant public health challenge. Why is that? The answer to this question reminds me of a quote by the late psychologist Abraham Maslow, who said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” To improve food safety, we have to realize that it’s more than just food science; it’s the behavioral sciences too.

Think about it. If you are trying to improve the food safety performance of an organization, industry, or region of the world, what you are really trying to do is change peoples’ behaviors. Simply put, food safety equals behavior. This truth is the fundamental premise upon which this entire book is based.

How does one effectively influence the behaviors of a worker, a social group, a community, or an organization?

frank.amy_.doug_.jun_.11While it is not easy, fortunately, there is good news for today’s more progressive, behavior-based food safety professional. Over the past 50 years, an incredible amount of research has been done in the behavioral and social sciences that have provided valuable insights into the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of humans. Applying these studies’ conclusions to our field has the potential to dramatically change our preventative food safety approaches, enhance employee compliance, and, most importantly, save lives.

One of the most exciting aspects of behavioral science research is that its results are often of simple and practical use to numerous professions, including ours – food safety. Generally, the principles learned through behavioral science research require little technical or scientific equipment to implement. They usually do not require large expenses. What is required, however, is an understanding of the research data and the ability to infer how the research might be used to solve a problem in your area of concern.

In this book, Food Safety = Behavior, I’ve decided to collect some of the most interesting behavioral science studies I’ve reviewed over the past few years, which I believe might have relevance to food safety. I’ve assembled them into one easy-to- use book with suggested applications in how they might be used to advance food safety.

To get the most out of this book, at the end of each chapter, I strongly encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about the behavioral science principle you have just read, what it means to food safety, and how you might apply that principle in your own organization (or in your role) to improve food safety. For those in academic set- tings, you might also want to make a list of potential questions for further research.

frank.doug_.manhattan-300x225In summary, this book is devoted to introducing you to new ideas and concepts that have not been thoroughly reviewed, researched, and, more importantly, applied in the field of food safety. It is my attempt to arm you with new behavioral science tools to further reduce food safety risks in certain parts of the food system and world. I am convinced that we need to adopt new, out-of-the-box thinking that is more heavily focused on influencing and changing human behavior in order to accomplish this goal.

It is my hope that by simply reading this book, you pick up a few good ideas, tips, or approaches that can help you improve the food safety performance of your organization or area of responsibility. If you do, I will consider this book a success.

In closing, thanks for taking the time to read Food Safety = Behavior and, more importantly, for all that you are doing to advance food safety, so that people worldwide can live better.