Belts need cleaning too

After visiting a bunch of produce packing plants in the U.S. and Canada over the past decade, I have a keen interest in cleaning and sanitizing conveyor belts. They sure seem like they could be harborage sites for Listeria – especially with all the seams. Traditional conveyor belts are also pretty hard to take apart as part of a daily (or between lot) sanitation step.buckle-western-silver-belt-socalgarrison1550-960x721

A couple of years ago Michelle Danyluk and I wrote a factsheet on establishing a clean sanitation break in a fresh produce packing facility. I still think that while a packer attempts to separate products into lots (by date, farm source, or some other variable) that clean breaks aren’t well done.

My concerns are around how sanitation is carried out (maybe it’s a good compound, maybe not; all sanitation crews are also not built equally) – but equipment really matters too. Sorting machines haven’t been built with Listeria control as a design feature.

According to the Packer, JBT Corp is marketing a better belt.

The SaniClean belt conveyor from JBT Corp. has gained food safety approval and is now commercially available.

“The biggest feature of it is that it is super easy to clean,” Jeff Cook, aftermarket parts and equipment sales manager at JBT, said in a news release. “With most conventional conveyors, you can’t get into them and clean under or around the belt — you need the maintenance department to take them apart to do the cleaning.”

The sanitation precautions include disposable plastic belt supports directly under the conveyor, as well as “food-safe” welds that allow for cleaning of the machine’s hidden and hard-to-reach crevices to stop germs from manifesting.

The marketing sounds good; but who knows what it really means. Food safety approval? By whom? Against what standard? Show me the data (I couldn’t find anything on their website).

Don’t believe the hype without seeing the validation.

Chipotle CEO Ells uses the bare hand touch test for meat doneness

Chipotle, one of our favorite barfblog topics, is in the news again as CEO Steve Ells appeared on the Today Show to talk woes associated with recovery from 2015’s multiple outbreaks. Ells says the slow recovery is because their service sucks now. I dunno.

I like to get my real and fake news on the Internet and consume digital stuff so I checked out the Newsy video of Ells walking through a Chipotle kitchen (below, exactly as shown).screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-12-20-34-pm

At 10 seconds the guy who wrote, “We deployed robust, industry leading new food safety procedures in our restaurants including new handling procedures for produce, citrus and meats as well as comprehensive sanitizing protocols” pokes at a piece of meat on the grill, I’m guessing to check for doneness, with his bare hands.

Steve, a good food safety culture starts at the top. Model safe practices for your staff, mix in a thermometer and some gloves.

 

Effective inspections: Be kind and considerate

Conducting food safety inspections requires interpersonal skills and technical expertise. This requirement is particularly important for agencies that adopt a compliance assistance approach by encouraging inspectors to assist industry in finding solutions to violations.

george-carlin-honestyThis article describes a study of inspections that were conducted by inspectors from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Food and Dairy Division at small-scale processing facilities. Interactions between inspectors and small processors were explored through a qualitative, ethnographic approach using interviews and field observations. Inspectors emphasized the importance of interpersonal skills such as communication, patience, empathy, respect, and consideration in conducting inspections.

This article examines how these skills were applied, how inspectors felt they improved compliance, the experiences through which inspectors attained these skills, and the training for which they expressed a need. These results provide new insights into the core competencies required in conducting inspections, and they provide the groundwork for further research.

Interpersonal skills in the practice of food safety inspections: A study of compliance assistance

Journal of Environmental Health , December 2016, Volume 79, No. 5, 8–12

Jenifer Buckley, PhD

https://www.netforumpro.com/eweb/shopping/shopping.aspx?site=neha&webcode=shopping&shopsearchcat=merchandise&productcat=jeh%20articles&prd_key=8a34823b-b79b-4f9c-819f-1ce7b3410c3a

How the hell could we know? Kellogg hopeless at food safety and accountability

In 2008, peanut butter thingies with the nut part sourced from Peanut Corporation of America killed nine people and sickened at least 700 with Salmonella.

traci_lind_and_matthew_broderick_in_the_road_to_wellville_2In March 2009, Kellogg’s CEO David Mackay did an outstanding impersonation of Kevin McDonald’s, “How the hell should I know” skit (below) in front of a U.S. Congressional committee.

“When you look at Kellogg, we have 3,000 ingredients and 1,000 suppliers, I think it’s common industry practice to use a third party” (to verify safety).

Not common enough for Nestle North America, which rejected Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely plant as a supplier in 2002 after it found the plant had no plans to address hazards like salmonella.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in January 2006, Nestle also rejected the company’s Plainview, Texas, plant after finding dozens of dead mice rotting in and around the plant, dead pigeons near a peanut receiving door and live birds roosting inside the plant.

Congressional types also heard that auditors AIB — also known as the American Institute of Baking based in Manhattan (sigh, Kansas) — were hired and paid by Peanut Corp. of America, notified the company in advance when they were coming, how to prepare for inspections and then gave its plants glowing reviews.

An inspector with AIB wrote to the manager of Peanut Corp.’s Blakely, Ga., in a December 2008 e-mail produced by the committee, “You lucky guy. I am your AIB auditor. So we need to get your plant set up for any audit.”

Mackay told the committee a version of, “how the hell could we know?” and that AIB is the most commonly used inspector by food companies in America.

48_the_road_to_wellvilleHe also wanted food safety placed under a new leader in the Health and Human Services department, called for new requirements that all food companies have written safety plans, annual federal inspections of facilities that make high-risk foods, and other reforms.

Mackay whined that Kellogg’s had to recall more than 7 million cases of crackers and cookies, at a cost of $65 million to $70 million, and that “Audit findings reported no concerns that the facility may have had any pathogen-related issues or any potential contamination.”

Kellogg’s is a multi-billion dollar company asking for a government handout to do what Kellogg’s should be doing – selling a safe product. Kellogg’s helped create the paper albatross that is third-party audits instead of having its own people at plants that supply product which Kellogg’s resells at a substantial profit.  Kellogg’s crapmeister told Washington how to strengthen food safety when he couldn’t keep shit out of his own company’s peanut cracker thingies.

aib-audit-eggsThis is a company founded on fairytales and colonic cleansing in Michigan, making its money selling sugar-sweetened treats to kids and their parents, and using a sliver of those profits to sanctimoniously fund so-called research and training, using Michigan State University as their willing vessel.

With this background, it’s not surprising that, as reported by Dan Flynn of Food Safety News, that, “In mid-2007, Michael collaborated with his brother, Stewart Parnell, who was the President and CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, a peanut processing and manufacturing company, to provide peanut paste to Kellogg.”

P.P sales “was a small operation with two tanker trucks and one customer: Kellogg Company.

From mid-2007 to 2008, Michael shipped peanut paste from PCA’s Blakely, Georgia plant (PCA Blakely) to a Kellogg production facility in Cary, North Carolina.”

P.P.’s tanker trucks, filled with peanut paste, during those months were making 1,200 round-trips to provide the product Kellogg’s needed to put a little dab of peanut paste on all those Keebler PB sandwich crackers.

When anyone from Kelloggs talks about food safety, have a chuckle and move on; or tell them what dickshits they are and how they know nothing about food safety.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

 

 

Food Safety Talk 113: A Tale of Two Outbreaks

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.english-novelist-charles-dickens

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Episode 113 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Get stuffed?

I wrote the below for NC State News.

As a Canadian in the U.S. I’ve fully embraced the holiday season that runs from Thanksgiving through December. I enjoy spending a day planning and shopping for an event-style meal, and then another day actually preparing and cooking it. I throw on some tunes (this year it will probably be Drake, for my Canadian roots, and the Avett Brothers as a nod to North Carolina) and with the help of the rest of the family I’ll roast a turkey, make mashed potatoes, green beans, squash, beets and a couple of other harvest vegetables.

And we’ll make a lot of stuffing.stuffing-header-825x464

Depending on your preference and food persuasion there are lots of different stuffing or dressing options.

A common question that pops up is whether it’s better to cook stuffing it in the bird to preserve moisture (and get flavored by the turkey juices) or prepare it as a separate dish. The concern is that if someone puts the stuffing in the turkey cavity it may become contaminated by the turkey juices and Salmonella and Campylobacter will migrate through the stuffing. Easier to recommend not messing with the cross-contamination instead of managing the risk. But what does the science say?

I’m a food safety nerd and take a science-based approached to my meals. Armed with a digital, tip-sensitive thermometer I’m happy to jam stuffing up inside of my poultry and use the probe to check the temperature. And I use 165 degrees Fahrenheit as a target for my bread-based stuffing.

There’s some history to that number; in 1958 Raymond Rogers and Millard Gunderson of the Campbell Soup Company published some work evaluating the safety of roasting frozen stuffed turkeys (a new product at the time). Using a known amount of Salmonella pullorum, nine turkeys and some then-fancy ceramic thermocouples, they found that they could get an 8-log (or 99.999999%) reduction when the deepest part of the stuffing hit 160 degrees Fahrenheit. They recommended 165 degrees to be conservative (and because some thermometers aren’t always very accurate).

From the manuscript (comments that still apply today): “The initial temperature and the size of the turkey influence considerably the time required to reach a lethal temperature in the stuffing. The lower the initial temperature of the turkey, the longer the roasting period required. Present recommended roasting procedures designating hours cooking time or which stipulate a thigh or breast temperature to be attained alone does not appear to be adequate bacteriologically.”

Inside the bird, outside the bird; meat or no meat: Use a thermometer.

For your holiday viewing, here’s a video devoted to minimizing risk from foodborne illness when cooking turkey. More food safety tips are available here.

Take a dump on Trump: Poo Haiku for World Toilet Day

 

 

Take a dump on Trump

I won’t change my toilet’s name

Your poo orange too.

trumptoiletSaturday is World Toilet Day, a serious effort by the United Nations focusing on the fact that one-third of the world’s population — or 2.4 billion people —  have no toilet at home. A third of those people are children. They are vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and other major problems because there is no clean way of going to the bathroom where they live.

Marylou Tousignant of The Washington Post writes the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organizations want everyone in the world to have proper toilets and safe drinking water by 2030.

People living in present-day Scotland and Pakistan built the first indoor toilets about 4,500 years ago. Pipes carried the waste outdoors. Knossos palace, built 3,700 years ago on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean, had some of the first flush toilets. They used rainwater and water from nearby springs. A wooden seat kept users dry.

Medieval castles had toilets built high on an outside wall. There was a stone seat at the top, and gravity took care of the rest. Often the waste dropped into the castle moat. People living in towns, meanwhile, collected their waste in what were called chamber pots, and they emptied them by heaving the contents out a window. Public lavatories, which were not common at the time, were often just several toilet holes in a row built over a river.

In 1596, England’s Sir John Harington designed a flush toilet with a handle and a raised water tank. He said using it would leave rooms smelling sweet. He gave one to his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, who didn’t like it. Instead, she used a pot in a box covered in velvet and trimmed with lace. The idea of an indoor flush toilet didn’t catch on until 200 years later.

The word “toilet” comes from the French “toile,” meaning “cloth.” It referred to the covering on a lady’s dressing table and, over time, to the dressing room itself and the primping that went on there. (Wealthy people in the 17th and 18th centuries often had rooms at home just for getting dressed.) In the 19th century, “toilet” got its modern meanings: the place where bathing and other private acts occur and the bowl into which human waste is deposited.

Over time, chamber pots and toilet bowls got fancier and fancier. One such pot, sold during the American Revolution, had an image of Britain’s King George III at the bottom of the bowl.

Thomas Jefferson, who used flush toilets while he was the U.S. ambassador to France in the 1780s, had three small rooms for toilets built at Monticello, his home in Virginia. But there is no proof that they were true flush toilets. And because most American homes did not have running water until a century later, the widespread use of flush toilets came later as well.

Chinese businessman Zhong Jiye will not give up the brand name on his Trump Toilet products, NBC News reports.

“We registered our company in 2002 and obtained approval from the trademark office in Beijing,” said Zhong, referring to Shenzhen Trump Industrial Company Limited, which mostly manufactures high-tech toilet seats. 

hanksy-dumptrump“If (U.S. President-elect Donald) Trump thinks our trademark violates his rights and interests, he can use legal methods because our company observes China’s laws,” CEO Zhong told NBC News, adding that he is prepared to defend his company’s legal rights to the Trump brand name.

In Chinese, the company name means “innovate universally.” 

Vicky Hallett of NPR reports that poetry may be one way of getting people to discuss diarrhea.

That’s the idea behind Poo Haiku, a competition created by Defeat DD, a campaign dedicated to the eradication of diarrheal disease.

Although everybody’s had the runs, it’s not something most folks talk about, says Hope Randall, digital communications officer for PATH’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, which created DefeatDD to bring together resources on vaccines, nutrition, oral rehydration therapy, sanitation and more.

Kat Kelley of the Global Health Technologies Coalition, which references a recent study published in The Lancet:

Just six pathogens

But eighty percent of kids’

Diarrheal deaths.

Randall herself penned an entry:

A vicious cycle,

Gut damage, malnutrition

We can halt the churn.

And from Doug Powell:

Take a dump on Trump

I won’t change my toilet’s name

Is your poo orange too.

(Depends whether the word orange is one syllable or two.)

Food Safety Talk 112: Magical little poop nugget

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.1479398141136

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Episode 111 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

This birthday themed episode features wide-ranging topics, many based on listener feedback. We briefly touch on election results, and then move (almost) right into food safety. Thanks to everyone for listening and for your feedback.

Morimoto restaurant linked to Salmonella

My roommate Owen and I used to watch Iron Chef, the original dubbed version, while we ate late night Chinese food after going to the bar. I always liked the Morimoto the best. He was sort of the Bill Belichick of the show. He never smiled and always had his game face on. Serious about fancy food.

Fancy food ain’t safe food though; according to the Napa Valley Register Morimoto’s Napa joint has been linked to six cases of salmonellosis.

Several people reported getting sick with salmonella after eating at Morimoto Napa last month, according to Napa County Public Health.

There are at least six confirmed cases of salmonella-related food borne illnesses in customers who dined at the restaurant on Main Street between Oct. 10 and Oct. 12, said Dr. Karen Relucio, the county’s chief public health officer.

Relucio confirmed that the restaurant has been cooperative. During their investigation, she said, officials found that the restaurant was very clean and organized with strict operating procedures.

I ate at Morimoto’s Disney Springs restaurant earlier this year and there was a lot of sushi and sashimi on the menu. Maybe it’s the frozen kind.

Dubai addressing shawarma risks

I’m on my way back to the US after a few days in Dubai teaching hotel, restaurant and other food business folks about stuff like sous vide food safety and measuring production parameters to reduce risk.

Bobby Krishna (below, left, exactly as shown), always the gracious host, showed me some cool stuff that Dubai is planning on launching as they prepare to host Expo 2020. One of the challenges the Dubai Municipality has tackled over the past decade as they modernize and add resources to their food safety system is balancing the traditional food stall/small business with addressing risks.

According to Gulf News, after a phase-in period, Dubai officials are enforcing new rules to make shawarmas safe again including proper facilities, temperature control and equipment sanitation.cwjw3kxxgaqy-q3

Almost 45 per cent of shawarma stands in Dubai will be closed, with Dubai Municipality enforcing its new rules for the sale of the popular Arabic delicacy in the emirate from November 1.

The six-month deadline given to 572 small and medium food outlets selling shawarma across Dubai to implement the new rules related to space, equipment and storage requirements aimed at enhancing hygiene and safety of the product ended on October 31.

Of these, only 318 have either made or are in the process of making the changes to their existing conditions as per the new guidelines to ensure the health and safety of consumers, the civic body said on Monday.

Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of Food Inspection Section at the Food Safety Department, said 146 establishments (25.5 per cent) among the 572 have completed the implementation of the new requirements before the deadline, 172 establishments (30.07 per cent) have begun the amendments and are still in the process of completing these.

The primary change that consumers can see will be the end of shawarma stands operating in an open area of an outlet. It is mandatory to move the shawarma stands indoors and ensure that they are not exposed to dust, dirt or any other external sources of pollution.

The regulations also make it mandatory to ensure proper refrigeration of raw materials, enough space for the storage of shawarma-making tools, separate facilities for defrosting frozen meat, thorough cleansing of vegetables and proper ways of waste disposal.

About a decade ago shawarma-style foods were linked to three outbreaks of E.coli O157 in Alberta, and I stopped eating them. Outbreak investigators found that traditional cooking practices including a rotating a cone of meat next to a heat source, were problematic, especially when the meat was cooked from frozen. A national committee was created to look at donair risks associated and the group recommended grilling post cone cut-off to ensure pathogen-killing temps.