Mettwursts and pepperoni made by Australian smallgoods firm recalled

Brad Crouch of The Advertiser reports that mettwurst and pepperoni manufactured by Barossa Valley smallgoods firm Linke’s Central Meats is being recalled amid potential contamination fears.

mettwurst-and-pepperoniFollowing food safety checks by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions

South Australia (PIRSA), three types of mettwursts and one pepperoni from the Nuriootpa-based Linke’s Central Meats have been recalled and SA Health is advising people not to consume them.

SA Health has not received any reports of illness associated with these smallgoods but PIRSA is now investigating as routine food safety checks have been unable to verify the safety of the firm’s manufacturing processes for these mettwurst and pepperoni products.

Linke’s Central Meats can be found at South Australian Foodlands, the Loxton IGA and independent smallgoods stores.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) will be issuing a nationwide recall for the product and further information about the recall can be found on the FSANZ website.

Hong Kong: City University’s plan to include food safety in a veterinary course

Hong Kong’s urban high-rise environment may seem an unlikely place to host a centre of veterinary excellence. But that is still not the way City University sees it, despite rejections of funding requests for a veterinary school in 2010 and 2014 by the University Grants Committee on the grounds that it is unviable and unnecessary. It has unveiled a self-financed, six-year undergraduate course in veterinary medicine beginning in the next academic year with an intake of 10 to 15 students, rising to about 30 in two years.

one-healthEach student would have to pay tuition fees of HK$120,000 a year. The government has warned the university not to assume that in the long run it would receive public funding, which would reduce the fees to HK$42,100 a year.

Nonetheless university president Professor Way Kuo is confident of securing government funding in 2018, by which time it also hopes to have raised HK$1 billion to support the programme. Cornell University in the US is a partner in the course.

City university says part of the course will focus not on training vets in the care of domestic pets, but on research into food safety and how to prevent disease spreading from animals to humans. Since this is most relevant to the agricultural and livestock industry across the border rather than Hong Kong, perhaps it is hoped the course will attract enough fee-paying students from the mainland to begin with.

5 things a Canadian food safety expert will never eat

Carmen Chai of Global News reports that Rick Holley, a veteran food safety expert and University of Manitoba professor emeritus says these are the five things he won’t eat:

mi-rick-holley-1212Raw shellfish and seafood

Raw sprouts and chopped raw vegetables and fruits

(“I do not eat sprouts, unless they’re cooked.”

He eats the chopped salads from the grocery store, though.

“I’m confessing now that I accept the risk because I value the convenience,” he said.

If you’re chopping up vegetables and fruit, they’re safe to eat for about four hours if kept at room temperature. In the fridge, they can last for up to three days, he said.)

Unpasteurized drinks

Undercooked meat

Undercooked eggs.

“My wife doesn’t like to sit with me at dinner and have guests in because, invariably, the conversation rotates to subjects near and dear to my heart and that’s contamination,” Holley joked.

My list is the same.

Second Scots cheese firm investigated following quality control testing issues

An investigation has been launched by environmental health officers into a second Scots award-winning cheese firm following issues with quality control testing.


cheese-e-coli-scotlandHighland Council, which is leading in the investigation at the family-run Connage Highland Dairy in Ardersier said there is no link “at this stage” to any cases of illness or the on-going E.coli O157 outbreak which has resulted in the death of a child in Bearsden.

The E.coli outbreak resulted in the shutting down in the operations of another family-run award-winning cheesemaker Lanarkshire-base Errington Cheese whose cheese has been linked to the outbreak.

Highland Council environmental health officers are liaising with Food Standards Scotland in the probe.

The council said that the organic cheese firm had contacted the council voluntarily regarding issues with their own internal quality testing, triggering the probe.

A spokesman said: “Environmental Health officers are investigating the matter and further sampling has been carried out.

“The council are liaising with Food Standards Scotland on the investigation. There is no link at this stage to any cases of illness or the ongoing E.coli O157 outbreak in Scotland.”

Callum Clark, who runs the business with wife, Jill insisted it is not connected to the E.coli outbreak and there was “nothing actually wrong”.

“We asked them to come in. Obviously environmental health are all a bit sensitive and on high alert on everything with the Errington thing,” he said. “Everyone is extra edgy over that.

“We are being fully helpful and co-operating with environmental health. It’s just the testing regime we are looking at.”

Owned and run by the Clark family, Connage Highland Dairy has been using traditional techniques to produce a range of organic, handcrafted, vegetarian cheeses since the family farm opened in 2006.

 

Chlorine is your friend, but chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table

As the third case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome has been linked to the Campylobacter contamination of Havelock North’s water supply, New Zealand, chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table, for now.

eight_col_1m1a9865The Christchurch City Council went against its own staff advice and unanimously decided on Thursday not to consider temporarily chlorinating the water from eight shallow wells that feed into three pump stations, serving about 20,000 residents.

The council instead decided to accelerate a $16 million programme to replace 22 shallow bores, supplying 80,000 northwest households.

The work was originally due to be finished by June 30, 2018, but most of the wells would now be decommissioned by March 2017. Fourteen of the most vulnerable shallow wells have already either been decommissioned or shut down.

Accelerating the work would cost an additional $480,000.

The council would also embark on a programme to raise community awareness of the risks of drinking untreated water from the shallow bores.

Canterbury’s medical officer of health, Alistair Humphrey, last month asked the council to explain why its continued use of the shallow wells did not present “an untenable risk”. Humphrey’s request was prompted by a gastro outbreak caused by campylobacter in the water supplying the town of Havelock North in Hawke’s Bay.

Staff will now talk to Humphrey to see if he was satisfied with the council’s response, without chlorinating the water. They will report back to the council in November.

Water from the bores was tested for E.coli daily, but it took at least 24 hours to get the results, so there was always a 24-hour period where contamination could go undetected, council three waters and waste boss John Mackie said.

He said the council complied with the water standards, but his professional advice to the council was to chlorinate the water, which would eliminate the risk.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel asked Mackie if the risk from the shallow bores had changed in the last few years. He said no.

She said it was only the perception of risk that had been heightened since the Havelock North contamination.

 

Gary Acuff on process validation

Gary Acuff is the antithesis of Hunter S. Thompson.

acuff2007Champan and I call him the nicest guy in food safety, but who knows — everyone in those U.S. college towns acts like they came from an audition for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, or Blue Velvet.

My friend Gary, a Texas A&M professor of food microbiology, got a nice write-up in MeatingPlace about the importance of validation.

His research has focused on improving the microbiological quality and safety of red meat in all areas of production and utilization. Most recent activities have centered on the effective use of surrogate bacteria for validating process controls in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems.

Meatingplace sat down with Acuff after he addressed this year’s Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, Ill.

Meatingplace: What are some of the biggest challenges these processors face in validating their food safety processes?

ACUFF: Maybe the biggest challenge is getting their arms around it because they are convinced that their process works or they wouldn’t be doing it. A typical response is to show negative product samples, but that doesn’t prove your process is working; it just proves that you had a lot of negative samples. Validation is taking a deeper step to actually find the data or generate the data to prove that their process does exactly what they say it is doing. And that’s been difficult for people to start thinking about how to do that.

The next hardest concept becomes not having enough pathogen on their product to show a three-log kill. The answer is, we know you don’t have three logs on there, but we want to know what your process would do if you did have three logs because some day three logs may show up.

Meatingplace: What is the appropriate use of the scientific literature in terms of the validation process?

ACUFF: The scientific literature should be where you start. That’s what you pull out and say, “It looks like we can do something like this and add some control to our process.” I’m not sure that you can take it much further than that.

Meatingplace: When are microbiological studies from laboratories useful and when are they dangerous?

ACUFF: It’s another step. You have the scientific literature. Now you want to try and apply that to your process. If you take that scientific literature and go straight out to the process then you’re going to have a lot of hits and misses before you are successful. But if you do a challenge study in the laboratory you can actually use the pathogen so that gives you even stronger data because you’re looking at the behavior of the pathogen. At the same time, you can run the surrogate organisms parallel to that and use that data to reflect or extrapolate when you use the surrogate in your process.

log-lady

 

23 years late, Chipotle gets food safety religion (or so they lecture)

I just registered for an Ice Hockey Australia Level 2 coaching course.

The course is rarely offered, and there’s only a couple of level 2 coaches in Queensland. It will take 25 hours of training to complete.

dp-sorenne-becThat’s on top of the 16 hours I put in for Coach 1 in Australia, and recertification every two years.

It’s similar to the Intermediate Level Coach status I had in Canada back in 2001, which was required to coach a rep or travel team.

It’s a lot of time, sitting in a classroom, and on the ice.

I view it as my church, my community service.

So when Chipotle makes a big deal saying all of its managers will be trained in food safety the ServSafe way, I shrug, and ask, why weren’t they before?

How far was Chipotle’s head up its own moralistic ass that it paid more attention to food porn – like hormones and GE foods – than to food safety, the things that make people barf?

Great, you’re going to require training. Anyone ask if the training is any good? Third-party audits? Nice soundbite but they’re just a paycheck. Handwashing every thirty minutes? McDonald’s have been doing that for decades (you’d think Chipotle would have picked that up when they were partnered with McDonald’s, but no, there was food porn to peddle).

The Chipotle announcement reads like a moralistic lecture, and that no one had discovered food safety before.

A year after the outbreaks, Chipotle is now getting into standard PR – which it should have done months ago (Chipotle, your communication advisors absolutely suck). The full page ad, the video, the push for food safety.

Guacamole, for instance, now takes advantages of the cleansing properties of the lemon and lime juices in the recipe. Before getting mixed, the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeños are laid on top of avocados and drizzled with citrus juices in one last effort to ensure food safety.

Some scientists may question such tactics, saying they have been supplanted by newer methods. But Dr. James Marsden, Chipotle’s new executive director of food safety, who had recently retired from teaching at Kansas State University (and the father of the actor James Marsden, best known as Cyclops in the “X Men” film series) said he was confident in them.

“We’re doing research and are going to publish papers on what we’re doing, so people can see for themselves that it works,” he said.

That’s all good, but they’re still moralistic assholes who expect people to pay a premium for their food sermons (journos, contact me for Marsden stories).

Chipotle founder and Co-CEO stepped in front of a camera in a bid to win over weary diners that still aren’t hankering for the chain’s once-popular tacos and burritos.

In a video that the Mexican burrito chain unveiled on Wednesday, a contrite Ells admits that last year, the fast-casual restaurant chain “failed to live up to our own food safety standards, and in so doing, we let our customers down. At that time, I made a promise to all of our customers that we would elevate our food safety program.”

chipotleadContrite is not the word I would use.

Looking to revalue Chipotle’s share price is more accurate.

Chipotle initially blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Australian beef for its woes. Today, it blamed social media.

“No one has ever had this kind of a food safety crisis in the era of social media,” Mr. Ells said.

I could list hundreds, beginning with E. coli O157 in spinach in 2006, you arrogant poser.

“Jack In The Box,” — a burger chain where more than 700 people got sick in 1993 after eating E. coli contaminated meat — “never had to deal with Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

When I coach, I’m always telling kids, and adults, stop blaming the refs, go score a goal, stop whinging.

What is fresh? Australian beef in the U.S.?

Is this guy stealing from Trump’s playbook?

It’s slogans and hucksterism.

Which Americans seem to go for.

And Mr. Ells, since you seem content on lecturing Americans about food safety, while blaming others, here’s a history lesson.

In the Fall of 1994, Intel computer chips became scrutinized by the computer geeks, and then the public.

Intel had delayed responding to allegations, and Wall Street analysts at the time said it was the result of a corporate culture accustomed to handling technical issues rather than addressing customers’ hopes and fears.

On Monday, Nov. 12, 1994, the International Business Machines Corp. abruptly announced that its own researchers had determined that the Pentium flaw would lead to division errors much more frequently than Intel said. IBM said it was suspending shipments of personal computers containing the Pentium chip

Mr. Grove was stunned. The head of IBM’s PC division, Richard Thoman, had given no advance warning. A fax from Thoman arrived at Intel’s HQ on Monday morning after the IBM announcement, saying he had been unable to find Grove’s number during the weekend. Mr. Grove, whose number is listed, called directory assistance twice to ask for his own number to ensure he was listed.

After the IBM announcement, the number of calls to Santa Clara overwhelmed the capacity of AT&T’s West Coast long-distance telephone switching centres, blocking calls. Intel stock fell 6.5 per cent

Only then, Mr. Grove said, did he begin to realize that an engineer’s approach was inappropriate for a consumer problem.

Intel took out full-page ads, apologized, and did better.

That was in months, not a year.

Mr. Ells, you can claim you’re in uncharted territory, that no one has experienced the woes like you have, that fresh is a meaningful term.

But it’s just a repeat.

Customers may expect you to have the humility to admit such failings when driven by the hubris of your own beliefs.

But hey, anyone who can get Americans to believe that 1,000 calorie burritos are healthy can do anything you damn well please.

And customers will bow down.

Investors. I wouldn’t touch it. But I said that in 2007.

 

Liverpool restaurant fined £14,000

How good are those UK chefs?

(Thanks to the barfblog.com reader who sent this in.)

mouse-chefRed Hot World Buffet in Liverpool One shopping centre was fined £14,000 after inspectors found an infestation of mice in the kitchen. It was also ordered to pay £7,816 costs after admitting breaching health and safety regulations.

The pic (right, exactly as shown) was from the chef’s office, with mouse shit everywhere.

Owners Passepartouts Ltd pleaded guilty to 10 counts at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court after mice droppings and beetle larvae were found during an inspection.

The restaurant closed in June and the owners are now in administration.

Environmental health officers visited the restaurant twice last year.

Live mice were caught on sticky traps and mouse droppings and grease were found next to food containers and near fridges.

E. coli outbreak shows need for restaurant grading system

Paula Wissel of KNKX reports the Washington Department of Health is still investigating this month’s E. coli outbreak that forced a Seattle restaurant to close temporarily. The Matador in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has now reopened, but the source of the E. coli that sickened several patrons remains a mystery. Meanwhile, food safety advocates say this latest scare underscores the need for a promised restaurant grading system to be implemented quickly by public health officials.

barf-o-meter_-dec_-12-216x300-216x3001-216x300-1-216x300Back in 1993, Sarah Schacht, along with her mother and little brother, was sickened in the deadly E. coli outbreak linked to undercooked hamburgers at Jack in the Box.  Then, a few years ago, she contracted the foodborne illness again.

“The experience of getting E. coli the second time was much worse. It was feeling like my stomach was being ripped open, I had extreme cramping and I was in and out of the hospital,” Schacht said.

She is one of the primary proponents of restaurants in King County being required to post placards showing what score they received from the health department. She sat on a stakeholders panel convened by the county to come up with a system. Although Public Health of Seattle and King County announced several years ago they were going to implement a system, it has yet to be put in place, which frustrates Schacht.

“They’ve continually rolled back deadlines for this program and so it’s been disappointing to see another outbreak and no posted signs,” Schacht said.

In response, county health officials says they want to make sure that when it launches, the grading system is consistent across eating establishments. The health department has conducted a series of studies to try and figure out how best to obtain that consistency.  A grading system pilot program is scheduled to begin in January.

 

Here’s a couple of suggestions:

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information. Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

larry-the_-cable_-guy_-health-inspector-213x300-213x3001-213x300-1-213x300The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

 

100 sickened: Did Salmonella at Trump’s restaurant kill her dad?

After Samantha Allen of The Daily Beast had a chat with me the other morning, she did good journalism and went off on her own, and cited a Trumpism: He likes to eat fast food because “at least you know what they’re putting in it.”

trump-junk-foodKatherine Purgatorio-Howard wishes her father knew what was in the mousse he ate at Trump’s Castle in October 1989, three months before he died.

“It was six figures,” she told The Daily Beast of the settlement her mother reached with the Atlantic City property over the mousse, which New Jersey health officials identified as the source of a salmonella outbreak. “But it didn’t make my father un-dead.”

Last Thursday, the Trump campaign issued—and then quickly deleted—a rant against the “FDA food police,” listing it as one of several “specific regulations to be eliminated” in his new economic plan. Among other things, the campaign whined about the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for “farm and food production hygiene,” safe cooking temperatures, and even “dog food.”

But these are the exact safety measures that help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks like the one that affected the Purgatorio family in 1989. In fact, the Trump business empire has a long and illustrious history of food poisoning cases and safety violations.

According to a 1991 Associated Press report, Kathleen and Thomas Purgatorio, then in their sixties, ate the “salmonella-tainted mousse” at a restaurant called Buffet by the Sea in Trump’s Castle Hotel and Casino on Oct. 16, 1989. Kathleen felt sick afterwards, Purgatorio-Howard recalls, but nowhere near as ill as her father who she told The Daily Beast “went from walking into the hospital to being in intensive care on a ventilator in a coma.”

“He was in critical care from October to December,” Purgatorio-Howard recalled. “We brought him home. We kept him in the living room in a hospital bed. He was in distress the whole time and then, in January, he went back to the hospital and died.”

The following July, according to the AP, the newly-widowed Kathleen and three other plaintiffs sued Trump’s Castle for “nearly $11 million” over the mousse, which the New Jersey Department of Health said in a report had sickened over 100 people—including the Purgatorios—over the span of four days in October 1989. Hers was one of six food poisoning lawsuits filed over the mousse around the same time, the AP reported.

the-7-most-ridiculous-things-donald-trump-has-said-in-the-last-2-weeksThat same July, Trump told the New York Daily News that the Purgatorio lawsuit was “ridiculous” and refuted any link between Thomas Purgatorio’s death and the chocolate mousse.

“If you write that story, there will never be a dime of money spent by my casinos in the Daily News again,” Daily News staff writer Salvatore Arena recorded Trump as saying in a phone interview. “And you can print that.”

Alan Kaplan, an attorney for Trump at the time, told the AP that Thomas Purgatorio’s death was due to a “pre-existing heart condition.” Purgatorio-Howard, now a New Jersey nursing instructor, told The Daily Beast that her father had previously had a heart attack sometime before the trip to Trump’s Castle but maintained that “his symptoms and his organ failure came from the overwhelming salmonella infection.”

Kaplan also told the AP that the salmonella at Trump’s Castle was due to bad eggs from a vendor. If that’s the case, perhaps stricter adherence to FDA “farm and food production hygiene” standards could have prevented the eggs from ever reaching the restaurant.

“People have to be protected,” Purgatorio-Howard told The Daily Beast. “You really can’t have less regulation.”

The case file for Kathleen Purgatorio’s lawsuit was ultimately disposed, according to court records. Purgatorio-Howard told The Daily Beast that the case was settled out of court for “hundreds of thousands” of dollars but could not recall the figure. Attempts to reach attorneys for both parties in order to confirm her estimate were unsuccessful.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a detailed request for comment and the Trump Organization did not have comment at press time. The Atlantic City Licensing and Inspection Department told The Daily Beast that records from this time are no longer available.

But newspaper reports indicate that Trump’s food-related woes only continued in Atlantic City. In 1992, the AP reported that “Donald Trump’s properties have the worst track record for food-related health problems among Atlantic City’s 12 casinos,” citing statements made by city health officials. Between 1984 and that time, the AP noted, there were five salmonella outbreaks at Trump properties, resulting in several temporary closures.

 “We find it highly unusual that most of our problems in Atlantic City have been associated with the Trump properties,” then-Atlantic City health department official Denise Nelson told the AP. “The physical part of the [establishments] is top-of-the-line but it all boils down to extremely poor food handling.”

The AP report states that “Sharon Pearce, a spokeswoman for the Trump Taj Mahal, disagreed with [Nelson’s] assessment, but refused to elaborate.”

In his now-retracted anti-FDA screed, Trump complained about “inspection overkill” but restaurant inspections like these can prevent deadly salmonella outbreaks. The CDC estimates that 19,000 people are hospitalized and 380 people die due to salmonella every year. A total of 3,000 Americans die from foodborne illness each year.

As Trump’s business empire grew, so did the list of food safety violations. In November 2012, the DJT restaurant in the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas received a staggering 51 violations “including month-old caviar and expired yogurt,” according to another AP report.

Public records from the Southern Nevada Health District show that DJT was indeed closed on Nov. 2 of that year with 51 violations during a routine inspection, reopening later that day with only 6 violations.

But the sudden closure and reopening did not escape the notice of local news station KTNV, which bestowed the dubious honor of a “Dirty Dining” award on the restaurant.

“The DJT restaurant in the Trump hotel is described on its website as ‘elegant’ and ‘in a class by itself,’ KTNV investigative reporter Darcy Spears announced in her exposé. “It is indeed in a class by itself this week, receiving the highest number of demerits of all restaurants health inspectors visited.”

Spears went on to list the many expired foods that health inspectors found at the DJT restaurant, including veal stock, tomato sauce, caviar, cranberry juice, duck, yogurt, peanut dressing, and black bean chili. Spears further reported that inspectors found “eggs, cream, cut tomatoes, potatoes, and sausage” were being kept at “unsafe temperatures.” As the AP noted, they also found “no measures to destroy parasites in undercooked halibut and salmon.”

In last week’s anti-FDA rant, the Trump campaign specifically highlighted required “food temperatures” as an example of potential over-regulation.

DJT ultimately provided KTNV with a statement that said, “We take these situations very seriously and all adjustments were made immediately. DJT opened within a few hours that same evening. We greatly value our guests, and delivering an exceptional experience to them is our top priority.”

But one of the worst brushes with health inspectors hit Trump even closer to home. As The Daily Beast has previously reported, public New York City health department records show that the Trump Cafe and Grill in Trump tower received 45 violations during an ungraded inspection in October 2015. That’s counting five “critical” violations including unapproved shellfish, a lack of appropriate “metal stem-type” thermometers to check cooking temperatures, and unsanitary wiping cloths. Two months later, the Trump Cafe and Grill scored only 12 violations and received an “A” grade.

But this May, another ungraded inspection found “live roaches present in [the] facility’s food and/or non-food areas” of the Trump Cafe and Grill and determined that the restaurant was not “vermin proof,” meaning that there were “conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.” One week prior to that inspection, Trump had tweeted a picture of himself eating a taco bowl prepared in that restaurant. Yum.