There are no stupid questions only stupid people – UK edition

A new Reddit thread started by user MrTalkingDuck asks, “What is the dumbest 100% serious thing someone has said to you?”

South.Park_Mr.GarrisonMiddle_sized_Richard wrote: “I was once told that drug dogs at airports etc. were addicted to the drug they were looking for.

“So each airport has a heroin dog, cocaine dog and so on. This person was a university graduate.”

Aim_snap_fail added: “I used to work in a kitchen, and one of the pot washers was cleaning a slicer and not exactly being careful.

“I told him the correct way to do it, so he didn’t chance cutting any of his fingers.

“With a straight face and complete seriousness he told me he didn’t care if he cut his finger off… It would just grow back. Like a starfish.”

Redditor Yer_F*****_Now_Bud recalled: “I’ve been a cook for 15 years. One time a server asked me to rush a chicken breast she forgot to ring in.

“I said, ‘OK, it will be a few minutes, it’s still a bit raw.’ ‘Just give it to me, it’s fine,’ she says.

“I tell her I don’t feel like giving anyone salmonella poisoning today and she will have to wait.

“Her jaw drops and her face turns red. She rather belligerently shouts just give it to her because she’s losing tip money, then adds, ‘Besides, people don’t get salmonella from chicken, they get it from salmon. You’re a cook, you should know that by now.’”

Referring to famous physicist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neurone disease and relies on a speech-generating device to talk, MyUglyKitty divulged: “Stephen Hawking is British? But he doesn’t have an accent.” ~ me, unfortunately.”

Has that mango been irradiated or you just happy to see me

A trans-Tasman review into the necessity of labelling food treated with ionizing radiation has drawn a mixed response from industry groups, consumers and activists.

Radura.mangoWhile most industry groups and corporations that produced submissions to Food Standards Australia New Zealand were supportive of removing the labelling, all but one of the private citizen submissions were against the idea.

The body will not propose a removal of the current labelling requirements at this stage, but asked respondents whether they thought the countries’ approach to signaling irradiated food was effective or necessary at present.

Irradiation, which is used as both a pest control method and way of extending food’s shelf life, is a rare practice in the two countries, used mainly as a final quarantine measure to prevent the spread of fruit flies.

Some mangoes are treated using irradiation.

Five FSANZ studies over the last 15 years and numerous World Health Organisation reports have found the irradiation process is safe, but food manufacturers are required to add a label informing consumers food has been processed in this way.

The wording of the labelling is not proscribed, though manufacturers can add an optional Radura symbol, the internationally recognised identifier of irradiated food.

Sneaky: Campy in UK chickens declines, but is an artifact

The UK Food Standards Agency says the latest data show 9.3% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination in this quarter, down from 21.8% for the three months from December 2014 to February 2015*.

chickenCampylobacter was present on 50% of chicken samples, down from 71% in the equivalent quarter of the previous year. We tested 1,009 samples of fresh whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging this quarter.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said, “One of the reasons the survey results are lower this quarter is because of the decision taken by a number of retailers and their suppliers to remove neck skin from the bird before it goes on sale. This is good news for the consumer because the neck skin is the most contaminated part of the chicken. However it is also the part of the bird that we have been testing in our survey and this means that comparisons with previous results are not as reliable as we would like.

Therefore, this quarter, we are giving an overall figure for the amount of campylobacter on chicken and not breaking the figures down by retailer as we normally do. We have also stopped this survey and will begin a new one in the summer, with a different method of testing campylobacter levels on chicken. sFirst results from this survey, which will rank retailers, are due in January 2017.”

Alex Neil , director of policy and campaigns at Which?, said: “Despite the work by the regulator and the industry to reduce campylobacter in chickens, levels remain too high and it still poses a significant risk to the public.

“We want to see much greater transparency from the supermarkets on their own testing and the action they are taking to keep their customers safe from this bug.”

 

But will it make fewer people barf? US FDA issues final food defense regulation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today finalized a new food safety rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent wide-scale public health harm by requiring companies in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent intentional adulteration of the food supply. While such acts are unlikely to occur, the new rule advances mitigation strategies to further protect the food supply.

imagesUnder the new rule, both domestic and foreign food facilities, for the first time, are required to complete and maintain a written food defense plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate contamination where the intent is to cause wide-scale public health harm. Facilities now have to identify and implement mitigation strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish food defense monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to these areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.

“Today’s final rule on intentional adulteration will further strengthen the safety of an increasingly global and complex food supply,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., incoming deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, FDA. “The rule will work in concert with other components of FSMA by preventing food safety problems before they occur.”

The rule was proposed in December 2013 and takes into consideration more than 200 comments submitted by the food industry, government regulatory partners, consumer advocates and others.

National Chicken Council petitions FSIS for labelling law for frozen chicken thingies

Labels aren’t the same as risk communication. And it’s not clear how effective they are as behavior change vehicles.

Information and safe handling labels can provide the basics, if developed in a science-based manner, but as the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection said in 2014, risk communication folks should really be involved in message crafting and evaluating effectiveness.

The frozen chicken thingie outbreaks are starting to matter. Like these two in 2015.Barber-Foods-stuffed-chicken-breasts

In an effort to ensure safe eating experiences and address potential consumer confusion, the National Chicken Council (NCC) has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for mandatory labelling of raw, stuffed chicken products that may appear cooked and ready-to-eat.

Specifically, NCC is requesting that the agency take the following actions:

Conduct a rulemaking to adopt a regulation requiring that not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat be prominently and uniformly labelled to clearly inform consumers that the products are raw and how to properly handle and cook them; and

Publish a Compliance Guideline explaining how to validate cooking instructions for not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat, which incorporates NCC’s “Best Practices for Cooking Instruction Validation for Frozen NRTE Stuffed Chicken Breast Products.”

“NCC increasingly is aware that some consumers may be uncertain of the proper handling and cooking methods for not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that may appear ready-to-eat, and the proposed measures are necessary to ensure proper handling and cooking of these products,” said NCC President Mike Brown in the petition.

“This labelling would clearly inform consumers that these products are raw and require proper cooking while providing specific and uniform instructions on how to cook the products.”

FSIS has had labeling guidance out for a while. Making it a rule will help with consistency of info but it’s not a magic bullet.

Oh, and this:

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products
01.nov.09
British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820
Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

EU provides millions to enhance food safety in Georgia

I can’t figure why the EU has such an interest in Georgia’s food safety. Why not Montana? Or Rhode Island? Or Oklahoma.

I know some good folks at the Georgia Dept of Ag. And UGA is there.

Oh, it’s a different Georgia. The one that’s a country in Europe at the intersection of Eastern Europe and West Asia.

Georgia will receive €50 million from the European Union to improve national food safety standards.

A special agreement will be signed today in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi that outlines the start of the second phase of cooperation to establish food safety standards in Georgia.

The cooperation launched under the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), which promotes agriculture and rural development policies and reforms to stimulate employment and improve the living conditions of Georgia’s rural population.

The main goal of the cooperation was to improve food safety and quality standards in Georgia, and improve the ways these standards and monitored and controlled.

The first phase included reforming and strengthening Governmental structures and building the capacity and capabilities of small farmers in Georgia to reduce poverty in Georgia’s rural areas.

From the joint cooperation between ENPARD and the Government, about 1,000 cooperatives were established and registered in Georgia and 52 consultation centres were created around the country to improve farmers’ access to agricultural information.

19-year-old dies in Oslo from suspected food poisoning

Nyheter reports police have initiated an investigation after a 19-year-old boy died in Oslo on Tuesday.

oslo-university-hospital-ambul_10876310Oslo police are assisting health authorities to find out why 19-year-old died suddenly.

The preliminary autopsy report does not give a clear answer on the cause of death, but it is less likely that it concerns a source of infection. It has probably happened a type of food poisoning, says section leader Rune Shields by Finance and Environmental Crime Section of the Oslo police.

Police have sealed off the family’s home and seized food, but there is no suspicion that there has been no crime.

We have taken a great deal of products at their home, which will now be analyzed, says Shields.

The 17-year-old sister of 19-year-old is too ill. Her condition has been critical, but during the past day has stabilized, police said.

The 19-year-old was a guest at a restaurant in Oslo before he became ill, but not her sister. As things stand now, it is most likely that food poisoning happened at their home.

Infection Control Superior in Oslo, Tore W. Steen, confirmed that he is involved in the case.

Food fraud: Police and Interpol crackdown on toxic food

The New York Times highlights some of the toxic and counterfeit food products that police agencies have recently seized recently in 57 countries:

  • food.fraud.jpg154 pounds of chicken intestines soaked in formalin, a prohibited food additive, seized in Indonesia;
  • Italian olives painted with copper sulfate solutions to make them look greener;
  • sugar that was cut with fertilizer in Sudan;
  • customs agents and police officers in Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Romania have discovered counterfeit chocolates, sweets and non-alcoholic sparkling wine that were headed to West Africa;
  • South Korean police arrested a man who was smuggling dietary supplements that contained harmful ingredients but were advertised online as natural products;
  • in Australia, a shipment of peanuts was repackaged and relabeled as pine nuts, posing a potentially deadly threat to people with serious groundnut allergies;
  • police in Bolivia raided a warehouse and seized thousands of cans of sardines and the fake labels of a famous Peruvian brand that would have been affixed to them;
  • police in eastern China raided two workshops that were producing fake jellyfish, which contained high levels of aluminum and chemicals (jellyfish is popular in parts of China, where it is sliced and served as part of a salad); and,
  • illicit alcohol concocted in Greece, Britain or Burundi.

Criminals make millions of dollars a year peddling such products, and worse, to unwitting or reckless buyers, according to the international police agencies Interpol and Europol. Recent joint operations have netted about 11,000 tons of counterfeit and hazardous food and 264,000 gallons of bogus beverages, the agencies’ largest hauls to date.

“Fake and dangerous food and drink threaten the health and safety of people around the world, who are often unsuspectingly buying these potentially dangerous goods,” said Michael Ellis, who runs Interpol’s unit on trafficking in illicit goods and anti-counterfeiting measures.

EU data on veterinary drug residues in animals and food

European Food Safety Authority’s data report summarises the monitoring data from 2014, including compliance rates with EU residue limits, for a range of veterinary medicines, unauthorised substances and contaminants found in animals and animal-derived food.

abattoirs-anc-494x190Overall, 730,000 samples were reported in 2014 – a drop from the 1 million plus samples in last year’s report on 2013 data – from the 28 EU Member States.

In 2014, the level of non-compliance in targeted samples (i.e. samples taken to detect illegal use or check non-compliance with the maximum levels) rose slightly – to 0.37%, compared to 0.25%-0.34% over the previous seven years.

There was slightly higher non-compliance for resorcylic acid lactones (hormonally active compounds produced by fungi or man-made) and contaminants such as metals and mycotoxins (toxins produced by fungi).

The summary data reported suggest high rates of compliance overall and demonstrate the strengths of the EU monitoring system and its contribution to consumer protection.

I’m not your guy, pal: Raw oysters risky for wine drinkers

When Canada’s food safety agency announced a recall of B.C. oysters last August, it meant producers like Steve Pocock had to ensure every last oyster they had shipped after a certain date was accounted for.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish.  (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun)   [PNG Merlin Archive]

Along with a recall – issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) after dozens of people got sick as a result of eating raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus – there was a ban on restaurants serving raw oysters from British Columbia.

The inconvenience and forgone sales added up to a big hit for Mr. Pocock and other producers in British Columbia’s oyster sector.

Over the past few months, they have been working to prevent a repeat scenario.

“The recall had a very serious impact on our industry – and it should be taken very seriously,” Mr. Pocock said in a recent interview. He owns and operates Sawmill Bay Shellfish and is also president of the BC Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“And I’m not just talking about the farmers; I’m talking about everyone right through to the server in the restaurant,” he added.

A workshop last November spawned a national working group focused on Vibrio with representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and provincial health authorities.

That group developed a prevention program for Vibrio, focusing on education, enhanced testing and improved communication between producers and government agencies.

On the education front, workshops for producers emphasized measures to control Vibrio, such as proper refrigeration during transport.

Oysters represent a relatively small chunk of British Columbia’s aquaculture sales – $13-million, compared with $380.4-million for salmon, according to a 2015 report by British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture – but are prized for their taste and local appeal.

“Shellfish are an important part of our business, and especially in the summertime, when patios are open, [oysters] go great with wine and it was disappointing we were unable to offer B.C. product for raw consumption,” said Guy Dean, vice-president of seafood distributor Albion Fisheries.

Yeah, especially since Vibrio produces a toxin that attacks the weak livers of persistent wine drinkers.

Raw is risky.

And this Guy ain’t your buddy. Or friend.