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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew M. Tyler, Naila Khalil, Sara Paton

http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/food-protection-trends/article-archive/2015-07increasing-knowledge-with-food-safety-training-at-public-health-dayton-montgomery-county/

Surveys suck: Consumers don’t accurately report what they do in kitchen

Research utilizing both survey and observational techniques has found that consumers do not accurately report their own food handling behaviors. The goal of this study was to objectively observe conditions related to food safety risks and sanitation in domestic kitchens in an urban environment.

survey-saysSubjects (n = 100) were recruited from Philadelphia, PA. Homes were visited over a one-year period by two trained researchers using a previously developed audit tool to document conditions related to sanitation, refrigeration, and food storage.

Potential food safety risks identified included evidence of pest infestation (65%), perishable food stored at room temperature (16%), storage of raw meat above ready-to-eat foods (97% of homes where raw meat was present), and a lack of hot running water in the kitchen (3%). Compliance with correct refrigeration practices was also low, with 43% of refrigerator temperatures ≥ 41°F, and only 4% of refrigerators containing a thermometer. Consumers of minority race/ethnicity were more likely to have evidence of pest infestation in the home, lack a dishwasher and lack a cutting board in the kitchen, while Caucasian consumers were more likely to have an animal present in the kitchen during the audit visit.

 Visual audit of food safety hazards present in homes in an urban environment

Food Protection Trends, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 290-301, July 2015

Patricia A. Borrusso, Shauna Henley, Jennifer J. Quinlan

http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/food-protection-trends/article-archive/2015-07visual-audit-of-food-safety-hazards-present-in-homes-in-an-urban-environment/

 

Sounds like hucksterism and Pinto defense: Chinese ‘mall’ for Australian food

Billionaire Richard Liu has further opened Australian food producers to the massive Chinese consumer market, launching an “Australia Mall” channel on China’s biggest online trading platform, JD.com.

Richard LiuThe 40-year-old Mr Liu, China’s 11th-richest man, was in Melbourne launching the new platform and announcing a deal with Treasury Wines to use the system, under which a2 milk is already sold.

“We believe it’s important to market the country first and then its product and we want to promote Australia as a very clean, very natural and very beautiful country,” he told The Australian.

“We also want to make Chinese people aware of how straight and stringent Australian regulations are in regards to food safety and security.”

Mr Liu said the platform would focus on food and cosmetics in Australia but also healthcare, sports, shoes, baby goods and others. A deal with Australia Post was also announced today.

JD, which is a $US46 billion company listed on the Nasdaq, has 100 million Chinese users and is the world’s third-biggest online trading platform, meaning there are big opportunities for local companies that team up with JD.

Is Juicy Lucy a safe burger? Use a thermometer

The Food Network with their BS recipes is another gift that keeps on giving.

juicy.lucyUse a tip-sensitive digital meat thermometer  and make sure it gets to 165F.

Forget the fluff below.

Lightly mix 6 ounces ground beef chuck with a big pinch of kosher salt. Form into two equal balls, and then shape into two flat patties. Lay two slices American cheese between them and form the meat around the cheese; make an indentation in the center of the patty. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; sprinkle the skillet with salt. Cook the burger 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve on a soft bun.

Going public: Yes, Blue Bell sucks at risk analysis

Food safety experts, puzzling over the earliest days of Blue Bell Creameries’ response to a finding of listeria in some of its products, were confused.

blue.bell.scoopsIn mid-February, company workers began quietly reclaiming products from retailers and institutional customers such as hospitals. That was about a month before the iconic Texas-based ice-cream maker announced its first product recall in 108 years.

The stealth approach, called a withdrawal, came before any illness had been linked to the tainted ice cream. A withdrawal, which generally is used for minor problems, requires no broad notice to the public.

While the state health department called the withdrawal acceptable, some food safety experts are questioning why the public was not made aware of Blue Bell’s issues sooner.

“With something like this, I don’t understand how they got away with doing a withdrawal,” said Cliff Coles, president of California Microbiological Consulting Inc. “Withdrawal is not nearly as strong of language as a recall. If you knew that you had listeria, why wasn’t it a recall?

“I think they could have stepped up to the plate a whole lot quicker and done a whole lot more to protect the consuming public,” he added. “They pussyfooted around what they should have done in the first place.”

He and other food safety experts said they were unaware of any past cases in which a withdrawal, rather than a public recall, was used in a case in which a pathogen such as listeria was found in a ready-to-eat food.

Blue Bell, which first announced the listeria issue in a March 13 recall notice, has declined to go into detail about the withdrawal, citing pending litigation.

Blue Bell has been criticized for moving slowly to alert the public to the magnitude of its problem. The March 13 recall notice came as a terse, six-paragraph statement that pointed the finger at a specific production line that put out a “limited” amount of product. The release noted that “all products produced by this machine were withdrawn. Our Blue Bell team members recovered all involved products in stores and storage.”

listeria4Asked if that means 100 percent of the amount distributed was reclaimed, and that none of the product ended up in the hands of consumers, the company declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

That’s a key point. Food safety experts said a withdrawal would only be appropriate if the company could guarantee that it could account for 100 percent of the product that left the plant.

“Even if one [listeria-tainted] box was sold, at that point, the mechanism is no longer withdrawal,” said Mansour Samadpour, president of Seattle-based IEH Laboratories, a food consulting firm. “It has to be a recall. You have to announce it so anyone who purchased it would know not to consume it.”

“The key there is 100 percent,” he said.

In emailed answers to questions from The Dallas Morning News, Blue Bell challenged the notion that it did not move quickly enough to protect public health.

“From the moment we found out about a presumptive positive [listeria] test on February 13, we began working with regulators and immediately retrieved (we call this a withdrawal) the products that were on the market, which had been produced on a specific machine,” the company said. “That machine was already down for maintenance, so no more products were produced on that machine, and it has since been retired.

“As soon as we were notified on February 13, we notified FDA, and began instructing our employees to recover the products in question, which had been distributed to institutional and retail sales accounts,” the company said. “We went to those account locations and withdrew the products.”

Duh files: UK will push for mandatory restaurant inspection disclosure following Welsh success

Brisbane, are you listening?

Voluntary restaurant inspection disclosure means the good ones will brag and the bad ones will be quiet, sorta with their heads down, hoping no one will ask them a question

orillia.rest.disclosureThe UK Food Standards Agency will now do what it should have done all along: provide Government with evidence to support mandatory display of food hygiene rating scores for England by autumn 2015.

Following the rise in Welsh food hygiene standards since the introduction of mandatory display of scores in November 2013, The Food Standards Agency will be pushing this year for the same to be carried out in England.

A recent FSA audit of the food hygiene rating scheme in England in 2013/14 showed that only 35% of English food businesses displayed their ratings in a position that’s visible before entering the premises. Predictably, most of those establishments had received a 4 or 5 food hygiene rating score. The results of further auditing will be released later this month (April 2015).

Before legislation came into force in Wales which instructed that all food businesses must display their food hygiene rating score, 45% had a 5 food hygiene rating and 87% had a 3 or above. And after just 12 months of the enforcement, 56% recorded a 5 rating and 93% 3 or above.
These figures will be used as supportive evidence for the introduction of mandatory display of food hygiene rating scores when the FSA comes to lobby Government later this year.

In its evidence for ministers, the FSA is also likely to use the results of research by the Policies Studies Insitiute into the impact that the scheme has had on food hygiene compliance and the occurrence of foodborne disease.

Chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Graham Jukes said, “CIEH fully supports the mandatory display of FHRS in food premises. It is clear from the evidence in Wales that mandatory display is an important and effective tool in raising standards in food businesses, driven by simple consumer information messaging. Given the evidence why are we delaying the implementation in England and the rest of the UK?”

44 sick with Salmonella: Frozen chicken thingies strike again, in Canada

So why did it take until the end of June to report on people who became sick from between Feb. 7 and May 23?

chicken.thingies.raw.cookCanada is hopeless on some things.

Frozen and raw breaded chicken products are the culprits behind 44 recent cases of Salmonella illness in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, says the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in a notice it issued Sunday morning.

The 44 cases happened in Ontario (28), Quebec (12), Nova Scotia (2) and Newfoundland and Labrador (2). Twelve people were hospitalized as a result. No deaths have been reported.

The video below is from Mar. 2008.

Direct video observation of adults and tweens cooking raw frozen chicken thingies 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

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.

raw.chicken.thingies.outbreakDesign/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.


 

I volunteer: Study on THC in animal products

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in milk and other food of animal origin.

thcTHC, more precisely delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) is derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. In fresh plant material, up to 90 % of total Δ9-THC is present as the non-psychoactive precursor Δ9-THC acid. Since few data on Δ9-THC levels in foods of animal origin were available, the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) estimated acute human dietary exposure to Δ9-THC combining different scenarios for the presence of Δ9-THC in hemp seed-derived feed materials.

Acute exposure to Δ9-THC from the consumption of milk and dairy products ranged between 0.001 and 0.03 µg/kg body weight (b.w.) per day in adults, and 0.006 and 0.13 µg/kg b.w. per day in toddlers. From human data, the CONTAM Panel concluded that 2.5 mg Δ9-THC/day, corresponding to 0.036 mg Δ9-THC/kg b.w. per day, represents the lowest observed adverse effect level. By applying an overall uncertainty factor of 30, an acute reference dose (ARfD) of 1 μg Δ9-THC/kg b.w. was derived. The exposure estimates are at most 3 % and 13 % the ARfD, in adults and toddlers, respectively.

The CONTAM Panel concluded that exposure to Δ9-THC via consumption of milk and dairy products, resulting from the use of hemp seed-derived feed materials at the reported concentrations, is unlikely to pose a health concern.

A risk assessment resulting from the use of whole hemp plant-derived feed materials is currently not feasible due to a lack of occurrence data. The CONTAM Panel could also not conclude on the possible risks to public health from exposure to Δ9-THC via consumption of animal tissues and eggs, due to a lack of data on the potential transfer and fate of Δ9-THC.

 Scientific Opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in milk and other food of animal origin

EFSA Journal 2015;13(6):4141[125 pp.]

EFSA

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4141.htm?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ej

Estimating risk: Concrete thinking vs. abstract thinking

Recent findings on construal level theory (CLT) suggest that abstract thinking leads to a lower estimated probability of an event occurring compared to concrete thinking.

concrete.thinkingWe applied this idea to the risk context and explored the influence of construal level (CL) on the overestimation of small and underestimation of large probabilities for risk estimates concerning a vague target person (Study 1 and Study 3) and personal risk estimates (Study 2).

We were specifically interested in whether the often-found overestimation of small probabilities could be reduced with abstract thinking, and the often-found underestimation of large probabilities was reduced with concrete thinking.

The results showed that CL influenced risk estimates. In particular, a concrete mindset led to higher risk estimates compared to an abstract mindset for several adverse events, including events with small and large probabilities.

This suggests that CL manipulation can indeed be used for improving the accuracy of lay people’s estimates of small and large probabilities. Moreover, the results suggest that professional risk managers’ risk estimates of common events (thus with a relatively high probability) could be improved by adopting a concrete mindset.

However, the abstract manipulation did not lead managers to estimate extremely unlikely events more accurately. Potential reasons for different CL manipulation effects on risk estimates’ accuracy between lay people and risk managers are discussed.

Thinking concrete increases the perceived likelihood of risks: The effect of construal level on risk estimation

Wiley Online Library, Risk Analysis, 26 June 2015, DOI: 10.1111/risa.12445

Eva Lermer, Bernhard Streicher, Rainer Sachs, Martina Raue, and Dieter Frey

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/risa.12445/abstract

Tasmanian government defends food safety standards that closed state’s only organic dairy

Elgaar Farm at Moltema in the Meander Valley stopped producing milk, cheese and yoghurt in July last year after a routine inspection by the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority (TDIA).

Elgaar Farm at MoltemaThe regulatory body identified a number of issues with the factory, which uses traditional European production methods, the farm’s owner Joe Gretschmann said.

The factory’s pasteuriser failed to meet recently upgraded industry standards, but Mr Gretschamann believed there was never a risk to public health.

He said he believed his business was the victim of a “severe bureaucratic issue”.

Several weeks ago Elgaar launched an online fundraising drive to upgrade its factory, with the aim of reopening by the end of August.

Consumers have so far donated $165,000 of the $250,000 the owners say they need by the end of this month.

The reopening would still need the approval of the TDIA.

In a statement the TDIA said it had met with representatives from Elgaar and they were aware of what they needed to do to meet standards.

“Operators that meet these requirements are then able to be licensed,” is said.

“At this stage, Elgaar or its representatives do not have a new licence application before the authority for consideration.

“If they do apply, the application will be assessed in line with the standard procedures.”

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the regulations were necessary to protect the state’s brand.

“Food safety is critical to protecting the health of Tasmanians and maintaining confidence in our dairy products,” he said.