About time: Pittsburgh unveils updated restaurant inspection stickers

The Allegheny County Health Department is making it easier for restaurant patrons to get a glimpse of what’s going on in the kitchen before deciding where to eat.

stickers0719-restaurant-inspected-bizOn Monday, the county unveiled new inspection stickers for restaurant doors that include QR codes — two-dimensional bar codes — so that people with smartphones can scan the codes and get instant access to a restaurant’s inspection reports. 

The decals — which include green stickers for “Inspected and Permitted” facilities; yellow “Consumer Alert” stickers for when conditions may pose a health risk; and red “Closed” stickers for facilities shut down for serious health code violations until fixes are made — also have been redesigned in an easier-to-read format.

“The updated placards will provide county residents with a clear and easy-to-read status of the facilities they’re considering when making dining choices, while also providing easy access to the reports,” health department director Karen Hacker said in a statement.

Restaurant inspection reports have been available for residents to view online using a search engine on the health department’s website since 2007. The QR codes will provide a direct link to the search page.

stickers0719-restaurant-consumer-alertstickers-0719-closed-resaturant-biz

Safefood Queensland, you awake? Noosa eatery brags about medium-rare USDA certified organic burgers

A friend of Amy’s from her PhD days at the I-was-there-when-Tom-Brady-was-there University of Michigan and her family came over last night for dinner.

austin.powers.meat.2.verThey’d been on the road a long time, so I figured a U.S.-styled meal of steak and two veg would be welcomed.

It was.

After a day of cleaning and cooking – seriously, me and two other semi-house dads I hang with at the kid’s school should jump on the food porn train with all the shopping and cooking we do and the discussions we have about how to make a slow-cooked chicken curry while also talking about the shit guys say on mic’d up hockey – Amy went off with her friend and family and I got to write.

Yet only a couple of hours into the adventure, I get this from Amy:

We went to a place for lunch in Noosa. I was going to get a burger but read that “All our burgers are USDA certified organic and served medium-rare.”

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Only way to tell if something is microbiologically safe.

And the prices are outrageous.

There’s so much shit out there.

cafe.le.monde.noosa.burger.jul.16

Singapore rocked by 5 separate outbreaks at eateries

Clara Chong of The Straits Times writes that good food can be passed off as food worth eating – only if it is safe to consume.

TTdurianpuff-goodwoodThe current case involves Pow Sing restaurant, which, as of July 12, had 29 verified cases of gastroenteritis and investigations are currently ongoing.

This is just the latest case of a food establishment being suspended after outbreaks of food poisoning among its diners.

Here is a look at the five most recent cases.

  1. Pow Sing Restaurant

Pow Sing restaurant and its sister eatery Pow Sing Kitchen at Serangoon Gardens had their licences suspended indefinitely on July 13 after the authorities became aware of at least 29 cases of gastroenteritis, otherwise known as gastric flu, that were linked to the eatery.

An inspection on July 5 threw up several food lapses, such as the failure to maintain temperature records and allowing an unregistered food handler to prepare food.

Pow Sing, which sells zi char or cooked food in addition to chicken rice, has been told to dispose of all food and completely sanitise the kitchen.

  1. Pek Kio Food Centre

With more than 180 cases of gastroenteritis reported, Pek Kio Market and Food Centre in Owen Road area had to be closed on May 25 for a thorough cleaning and disinfection, including disinfection of dining tables, chairs, food preparation surfaces, walls and floors, for two days.

  1. Kuisine Catering

Poor hygiene standards at Kuisine Catering are a likely cause of a mass food-poisoning incident last February, resulting in 231 people falling ill, with five of those affected requiring in-patient medical treatment.

Investigations by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority concluded that food poisoning was likely due to Salmonella enteritidis.

  1. Goodwood Durian Pastries

Goodwood Park Hotel’s food establishment licence was suspended on April 22 after 76 cases of food poisoning were linked to its durian pastries.

singapore-food2But on May 3, it was revealed that up 183 cases may be linked to the hotel’s hugely popular durian pastries.

Further investigations revealed that lapses in food handling in the durian pastry kitchen were to blame. All food handlers had to undergo medical screening and retraining on safe food handling practices

  1. GBS infection from raw fish dishes

In December 2015, stalls were no longer allowed to sell Chinese-style raw fish dishes such as raw fish porridge due to its link with an aggressive strain of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria.

The outbreak, caused by the Type III GBS ST283 strain, is the largest of its kind in the world, with about 360 cases of GBS infections since January 2015 and about 150 cases linked to the consumption of Chinese-style raw fish dishes that use freshwater fish.

This ban extended to hawker centres, coffee shops, canteens, food courts and caterers but left out restaurants, which generally observed hygiene standards.

The ban on using such freshwater fish remains in force until further notice.

65 sick with E. coli from Chicago restaurant

Becky Yerak of the Chicago Tribune reports that an outbreak of E. coli at Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill has grown to include 65 people who have become ill, more than double the number initially reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

carbon.live.chicagoA second lawsuit was filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court against the restaurant, which has locations in Bridgeport and on the North Side. The North Side restaurant has been found by city health inspectors to be “safe” and “clean.” The two locations share a phone number, and a person answering the phone Thursday morning said the North Side spot is open, and the Bridgeport restaurant remains closed for now.

At least 29 sick: Singapore restaurant suspended for links to outbreak

The Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA), and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are investigating several cases Pow Sing Restaurantof gastroenteritis reported between 4 and 11 July 2016, traced to the consumption of food prepared at Pow Sing Restaurant, located at 63-65 Serangoon Garden Way. As of 12 July 2016, a total of 29 cases were verified to be affected, and further investigations are ongoing.

Laboratory tests are ongoing.

MOH has collected stool samples from the affected cases and the restaurant’s food handlers have been sent for stool screening. Only food handlers who are tested to be free of food poisoning pathogens, and have re-attended and passed the Basic Food Hygiene Course will be allowed to resume work. MOH and NEA will continue to monitor the situation.

Orlando restaurant goes on the offensive after outbreak link

One of my close friends owns a restaurant and texts me regularly with questions about stuff that’s going on (like O121 in flour).

He’s the kind of business owner I like: he shares what he sees as deficiencies and we chat about ideas to get his folks to keep his product safe. He’s worried about his livelihood daily. He’s not complacent.

Later this month, while the restaurant is closed, I’ll talk to his employees and tell them stories from barfblog – about the people who got sick and the people that led to the illnesses.txt-lets_get_real

I’ll paraphrase him here, but he’s said lots of times that while he doesn’t think he’s been the source of any illnesses, it could happen tomorrow. And he’d lose his business.

That’s the kind of realism that makes me want to eat at his restaurant.

Sorta the opposite of what’s happening at Spice Modern Steakhouse in Orlando, according to WFTV.

Ben Elliott and Alyssa Mason planned a perfect wedding. Then came the rehearsal dinner at Spice Modern Steakhouse. Within hours, 38 people in the wedding group, and two others, became sick and some described violent food-poisoning symptoms to Florida Health Department investigators.

The couple’s parents said three people went to the hospital.

Documents Action 9 checked and revealed big problems inside the kitchen before and after the food poisoning. The restaurant flunked a routine state inspection just three days before the event. Critical violations included potentially hazardous food temperatures.

Investigators listed spoiled lettuce with slime, moldy strawberries and black algae in a sink. Plus they listed hand wash failures, some employees worked while sick and with poor training. Murphy said those last three issues have been linked to food poisoning outbreaks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Restaurant owner Manny Tato told Action 9, in nine years, the restaurant served thousands of customers without incident. Tato said he fully expects state investigators to clear his restaurant of any wrongdoing. He also told Action 9 since the complaint, management has changed at the restaurant and all inspection problems have been corrected. Tato said he has hired an outside company to audit food safety issues on a regular basis.

Statement from Manny Tato / Spice Modern Steakhouse:

Contrary to what you have been told, I personally have been involved with communicating with the gentleman who started the complaint (leaving out his name to respect his privacy) since shortly after his first call to the restaurant. I think his phone records could prove this if requested. During my very first conversation with this gentleman, he himself mentioned that I should have insurance to take care of his expenses thus far—as his expenses were substantial—unless I wanted to settle personally. Since we have been fortunate enough not to ever have had any such claim or complaint from a guest in over 9 years at this location, serving thousands of guests weekly, I called our insurance agent. Under our agent’s advice we agreed and our insurance company was notified.

Once I was given the insurance adjuster’s contact information, I passed it along to the gentleman. A few phone calls were exchanged between the adjuster, the gentleman, and me. While being sympathetic to his claim, he was asked a couple of times to provide supporting documentation from doctors, other healthcare professionals, etcetera. He was also asked to pass along the adjuster’s information to all parties allegedly involved so they could discuss this. As of yesterday afternoon, the adjuster has not received any documents or heard from any other parties to the alleged incident. I suppose you could argue the reason for not providing these documents is probably a legal strategy—which shouldn’t even be a thought at this point since the insurance company is willing to resolve this—provided there is supporting evidence. Or it could be that there are no such documents to provide from a physician to support the claim.

While I acknowledge the health department inspection seems lengthy, primarily due to “basic” items they had to note after performing a 6 hours inspection with 3 inspectors present, none of the listed items noted posed a threat to the public according to the inspection reports themselves. The restaurant remains in operation and corrective measures were taken right away. We have been proactive on our end by implementing new guidelines compliant with new health department codes (which change frequently). New management is in place, some aged equipment has been replaced, and we have engaged a third party company to perform regular safety and food handling audits.

We are not a big chain restaurant. We love our guests, staff, and our city. The last thing we want to do is hurt anyone, especially our faithful regular guests we’ve learned to call our friends.

I understand stories need to air or ratings will decrease due to lower viewing audiences. Even so, to prove a point, one may say there have been inspections with quite a few items listed (none that pose a threat, mind you), but I would stand on the mere fact that there has been no proof of any wrong doing on our part. To that end, do we say “guilty until proven innocent” or “innocent until proven guilty”? I think the latter is appropriate based simply on the fact that in all of our years in business, we have never had an incident or claim.

Yeah, we’ve been doing the same things for years and have never made anyone sick. Heard it. Lots of times. Pretty hard to say when inspectors report a bunch of risk factors (hand washing, working while ill) three days before a 30+ illnesses are linked to the business.

2 sick with Salmonella linked to Seattle pub

King County health officials are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella linked to the Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant in downtown Seattle.

fado-seattleTwo people in separate parties became sick after eating bacon cheeseburgers at the restaurant on June 16th.

Laboratory tests showed the two were infected with the same Salmonella bacteria.

Public Health workers inspected the restaurant last week and found several violations that may have caused the outbreak including: inadequate equipment cleaning and handwashing and poor handwashing facilities. The restaurant has since corrected those violations.

 

Jason Bourne novelist tanks Chipotle stock with one tweet

Despite Chipotle Mexican Grill’s attempt to move on from a string of high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks, the company’s stock moves Thursday show how fragile its reputation is at the moment.

chipotle.tweets.jul.16The stock dipped as much as 3.4 percent in early morning trading following a tweet from Jason Bourne author Eric Van Lustbader that said his editor had been hospitalized after eating at a Chipotle in Manhattan.

We are aware of the post made on Twitter, however there have been no reports of illnesses at any of our New York restaurants,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told CNBC. “Moreover, we have excellent health department scores throughout the city, and we continue to have the highest standards of food safety in our restaurants.”

Chipotle seems to be suffering some Jason Bourne-like amnesia.

jason.bourneAfter Chipotle released the statement, shares began to reverse themselves and were recently trading down $7.88, or 1.9 percent, at $392.44.

“Every time that something like that comes out, yes, it will affect the stock because it potentially impacts … the recovery [in the] near term,” Nick Setyan, a Wedbush analyst, told CNBC. “There is such a lack of visibility right now that every little thing is going to change that variable.”

The illness Van Lustbader reported is unconfirmed at this time, however, other Twitter users have taken to the social media platform to share their experiences with New York Chipotle restaurants.

I’m going to serve food. Should I be pre-inspected? Finland says go back to yes

Finnish food control authorities waived pre-inspections of food premises in 2011, leaving food business operators to begin operating with no pre-operation food control. This study aims to investigate the effects of this food policy change on the preconditions for Good Hygienic Practices (GHPs) on food premises.

Traditional-Finnish-Food-fOf the 916 food premises that were included in this study, 379 were pre-approved whereas 537 merely notified their operations.

The results show that notified food service premises (restaurants) preparing food displayed significantly more non-compliance pertaining to infrastructure than did restaurants pre-approved for food preparation (11.5% and 1.8% of the premises, respectively) (p < 0.05). Significant differences also emerged in the number of premises with non-compliance pertaining to cleaning facilities and equipment, and marked differences in the adequacy of hand and other washing sites. Such instances of non-compliance weaken the preconditions for GHPs.

The results suggest that re-introducing pre-inspections of restaurants would strengthen the preconditions for GHPs and possibly provide a model for other countries with similar food control systems.

Does waiving preventive food control inspections in Finland weaken the prerequisites for safe food handling in restaurants?

Food Control; Available online 29 June 2016; doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2016.06.044

Veera Haukijärvi, and Janne Lundén

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516303589

What about suppliers? Eating safe key to newerer NZ food certification scheme

Auckland Council is rolling out a new-look verification and certification scheme called “Eatsafe” in response to Food Act 2014 standards that came into effect on 1 March 2016.

eat.safely.auckland“Eatsafe is designed to protect and reassure the public by providing more transparency around food safety and suitability in Auckland,” says Bylaws and Regulatory Committee Chair, Councillor Calum Penrose.

The new Food Act 2014 promotes food safety by focusing on the processes of food production and not the premises where the food is made.

“Our industry-leading system recognizes that every one of the more than 8,000 food businesses in Auckland is different, with differing levels of measurement required, depending on the type of food premises,” he says.

The new grading system assesses each business based on food safety, looking at cleaning, cooking, chilling of food and operator conduct, as well as food suitability issues such as food composition and labelling.

“With the increasing number and diversity of food outlets, and the rising popularity of eating out in Auckland, more people will be looking for the Eatsafe “A – Excellent” rating on the wall. Of course, under the new system, a “B” or “C” rating will also be a passing grade and quite appropriate for some types of outlets,” says Councillor Penrose.

Auckland Council’s current blue food safety certificates will be phased out over the three years and food operators serving alcohol have until June 2017 to switch.