Thanksgiving goofiness

My parents come from Ontario (that’s in Canada) every year to visit for Thanksgiving (or American Thanksgiving as it’s known to them). My mom likes to participate in the Black Friday shopping craziness; my dad likes to watch football. It’s just fun to have them around.

A couple of years ago my friend Matt Shipman and I put together some Thanksgiving meal videos – sorta our goofy take on food safety for the holidays. The content (unlike my hairline) is timeless.

And here are some food safety infosheets for the holidays.

Holiday meal food safety

Bathing birds is a food safety mess

Avoid foodborne illness during the holidays


Best public restroom in the U.S. named; handwashing tools not shown

Powell famously rated Guelph bathrooms in the 1980s while editor of the University of Guelph’s campus paper, The Ontarion. His idea was resurrected by supply and uniform company, Cintas and according to the Denver Post, a Minturn, Colorado restroom has won the most artsy award (or something like that).20150917__Minturn_bathroom_1~p1

Holding back chuckles, [Minturn planning director Janet] Hawkison said there has been a great sense of humor and jokes around town about being known for their toilets. The town is just happy that a project that was such a big part of the community had its time to shine.

The two restrooms, one for men and one for women, sit a few feet apart and feature fabricated wood pieces — 320 different pieces total — on the sides where they face each other to mimic an adit, or an entrance to a mine in honor of Minturn’s rich mining history. Inside the bathrooms, walls are painted turquoise and copper and feature steel butterflies on the ceiling. Conception, design and construction were all done locally.

Curious parties want to see the award winning handwashing tools and signs.

‘I do wash my hands!’ – Jennifer Lawrence shuts down toilet rumors

Jennifer Lawrence told an MTV interview with Hunger Games co-stars Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, that she didn’t wash her hands when she went to the toilet.

jennifer.lawrence.hunger.gamesShe was joking.

Her joke was taken out of context, leading to a series of questions about her hygiene on her press tour.

So, being media savvy, J-Law made a video, and said, “I hate talking to the Internet but I can’t get asked another question about my hygiene on this press tour. I told MTV I didn’t wash my hands after going to the bathroom because I was trying to gross out Josh and Liam and I ended up grossing out the world. Of course I wash my hands after going to the bathroom! (I can’t believe I’ve put myself in a situation where I even have to say that.) Anyway with all the rumors I’ve ever heard about myself this is the one I really had to put to rest.’


Handwashing in the field: soap or sanitizer or both

Effective hand hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of pathogens on produce farms and reduce foodborne illness.

dirty.handsThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act Proposed Rule for Produce Safety recommends the use of soap and running water for hand hygiene of produce handlers. The use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) may be an effective alternative hygiene intervention where access to water is limited. There are no published data on the efficacy of either soap or ABHS-based interventions to reduce microbial contamination in agricultural settings.

The goal of this study was to assess the ability of two soap-based (traditional or pumice) and two ABHS-based (label-use or two-step) hygiene interventions to reduce microbes (coliforms, Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus spp.) and soil (absorbance of hand rinsate at 600 nm [A 600]) on farmworker hands after harvesting produce, compared with the results for a no-hand-hygiene control.

With no hand hygiene, farmworker hands were soiled (median A 600, 0.48) and had high concentrations of coliforms (geometric mean, 3.4 log CFU per hand) and Enterococcus spp. (geometric mean, 5.3 log CFU per hand) after 1 to 2 h of harvesting tomatoes. Differences in microbial loads in comparison to the loads in the control group varied by indicator organism and hygiene intervention (0 to 2.3 log CFU per hand). All interventions yielded lower concentrations of Enterococcus spp. and E. coli (P < 0.05), but not of coliforms, than were found in the control group. The two-step ABHS intervention led to significantly lower concentrations of coliforms and Enterococcus spp. than the pumice soap and label-use ABHS interventions (P < 0.05) and was the only intervention to yield significantly fewer samples with E. coli than were found in the control group (P < 0.05). All interventions removed soil from hands (P < 0.05), soap-based interventions more so than ABHS-based interventions (P < 0.05).

ABHS-based interventions were equally as effective as hand washing with soap at reducing indicator organisms on farmworker hands. Based on these results, ABHS is an efficacious hand hygiene solution for produce handlers, even on soiled hands.

 Ability of hand hygiene interventions using alcohol-based hand sanitizers and soap to reduce microbial load on farmworker hands soiled during harvest

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 11, November 2015, pp. 1930-2102, pp. 2024-2032(9)

de Aceituno, Anna Fabiszewski; Bartz, Faith E.; Hodge, Domonique Watson; Shumaker, David J.; Grubb, James E.; Arbogast, James W.; Dávila-Aviña, Jorgé; Venegas, Fabiola; Heredia, Norma; García, Santos; Leon, Juan S.

Handwashing with Dr. Oz (‘never heard of him’)

I was talking to a medical doctor and a couple of his students, and a New York City trip is in the works, and I said I’d only been to NYC a couple of times, including when I was on Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz“Who’s Dr. Oz?”

“A television celebrity medical doctor.”

“Why would he call himself Dr. Oz? Does he represent all of Australia?”

Communication breakdown.

One of the students explained who Dr. Mehmet Oz was and how he was spawned from Oprah.

“Never heard of him.”

Dr. Oz released a handwashing video and it’s not bad. They got the water temperature bit right (so please, everyone else stop saying it has to be warm water, that’s just a personal preference).

They also got the soap and friction bit right.

The 20-second bit? Not so right.

So I turned to handwasher-in-chief, Don Schaffner of Rutgers University, who offered the following comments:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration model food code says two things: In section 2-301.12 it says “warm” water must be used for handwashing.  It’s isn’t science based as far as I know.

“In section 5-202.12 it says the handwash sink must provide water at a temperature of at least 38 °C (100 °F).  Also not science based.

“The video mentions 20 seconds.  As far as I know, that’s not science based either, and while it’s a perfectly fine length of time, 30 seconds would be better, and 15 seconds would be almost as good.”

New Mexico restaurant types on board with new food safety regulations

There are proposed changes coming down the line for New Mexico restaurants, regulations that impact how food is heated and training requirements for restaurant employees.

In a post on its website, the New Mexico Restaurant Association outlined some of the proposed changes by the New Mexico Environment Department.

For example, each restaurant must have a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM), a food safety certification achieved through taking courses and passing an exam.

Also new is that restaurant employees working directly with food, such as those that deal with unpackaged foods and food equipment, must take a basic food safety course. The course will cover such topics as preventing cross-contamination in food and how to property clean and sanitize.

After the course is completed, the person will get his or her Food Handlers Card, which would be required after 30 days of working in a restaurant. The cost to the employee will be between $15 and $35.

Life of Poo handwashing: 30-second food safety stories

Everyone says they wash their hands.

life-of-pi_0But when researchers look, most don’t

(especially men).

A UK professor wrote a book, The Life of Poo,

Sorta like the Life of Pi (and the last book I read).

He says toothbrushes should be 2m from the loo.

And he says, no one washes their hands in a way that will work.

“Whether you are brushing your teeth, having sex, cleaning your bathroom, following the 2-second rule, debating the 5-second rule, guzzling probiotics or just sitting on the toilet, this book is likely to be of interest to you.”


30-second food safety stories.

I wash my hands.

142 sickened with E. coli from UK takeaway because staff fail to wash hands

More than 100 takeaway customers were sick for up to two months with a rare strain of E. coli - after staff did not wash their hands after using the toilet, a court heard.

handwashing.sep.12Nottingham Crown Court heard that 142 customers of the Khyber Pass in Hyson Green, Nottingham, suffered with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after the outbreak last June.

In one case, a 13-year-old girl spent four nights in hospital with a consultant saying the infection could have been fatal if it was not treated.

Amjad Bhatti and Mohammed Basit, owners of the Khyber Pass, in Gregory Boulevard, pleaded guilty to seven food hygiene offences and were sentenced on Wednesday.

Prosecuting, Bernard Thorogood said that nine of the 12 members of staff who handle food at the takeaway were found to have traces of the bacteria, and one of the defendant’s daughters fell ill.

Mitigating, Robert Egbuna said lessons had been learnt and improvements made at the takeaway.

He said: “It is not just a case of adding hand basins. There have been significant changes that have come about from the real shock of what has happened.”

Bhatti and Basit were both given four months prison suspended for a year, as well as being ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work each.

His Honour Judge Jeremy Lea also said each of the victims should be paid £200 compensation by the defendants as well as paying costs of £25,752.36.

Not so: Antibacterial handwash ‘no better than soap at killing germs’

Food micro geek Don Schaffner of Rutgers University responds in a point-counterpoint style discussion of antibacterials in soap and effectiveness.

point.counterpointAccording to the story, a new study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found that antibacterial handwash is no more effective than plain soap at killing bacteria.

In recent years numerous products have appeared on the shelves claiming they were effective in killing 99.9 per cent of all germs.

But Korea University scientists investigated the effect of triclosan, the most commonly used active antiseptic ingredient in soap, in everyday conditions on bacteria such as MRSA, salmonella and listeria.

In recent years numerous products have appeared on the shelves claiming they were effective in killing 99.9 per cent of all germs. That’s actually a regulated label claim.  And it’s not “99.9 per cent of all germs.”  It’s 99.9 percent (3 log reduction for the math nerds) of certain regulatory-specified organisms under specified test conditions.

One central key weakness of the study is that authors state in their methods, “Antibacterial soap had the same formulation as plain soap except that it contained 0.3% triclosan.” While this might seem to be a good idea from the science perspective, it turns out that soap formulation is a tricky business. For antimicrobials to be optimally effective, the formulation might need to be adjusted. You can’t just throw sh*t in at ‘the maximum allowed by law’ and expect it to work.

Handwashing intervention in daycares doesn’t reduce illness

Either the employees were already real good at hand hygiene, or the interventions didn’t resonate with people. are common in children attending daycare centres (DCCs). We evaluated the effect of a hand hygiene (HH) intervention for caregivers on the incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections in children. The intervention was evaluated in a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial.

Thirty-six DCCs received the intervention including HH products, training sessions, and posters/stickers. Thirty-five control DCCs continued usual practice. Incidence of episodes of diarrhea and the common cold in children was monitored by parents during 6 months. Using multilevel Poisson regression, incidence rate ratios (IRRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were obtained. Diarrheal incidence was monitored in 545 children for 91 937 days. During follow-up, the incidence was 3·0 episodes per child-year in intervention DCCs vs. 3·4 in control DCCs (IRR 0·90, 95% CI 0·73–1·11). Incidence of the common cold was monitored in 541 children for 91 373 days. During follow-up, the incidence was 8·2 episodes per child-year in intervention DCCs vs. 7·4 in control DCCs (IRR 1·07, 95% CI 0·97–1·19).

In this study, no evidence for an effect of the intervention was demonstrated on the incidence of episodes of diarrhea and the common cold.

A hand hygiene intervention to reduce infections in child daycare: a randomized controlled trial

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 143 / Issue 12 / September 2015, pp 2494-2502

P. Zomer, V. Erasmus, C. W. Looman, A. Tjon-A-Tsien, E. F. Van Beeck, J. M. De Graaf, A. H. E. Van Beeck, J. H. Richardus and H. A. C. M. Voeten