It’s sorta sad when the PhD boffins at the UK Food Standards Agency get stood up by Cooks Illustrated.
Worse when they fail to acknowledge the error of their ways, but still earn the big bucks.
Cooking a chicken until its “juices run clear when pricked” is pretty standard poultry advice but, according to Cook’s Illustrated, it’s not a very dependable way to tell if your chicken is properly cooked.
As reported by Claire Lower of Skillet, though myoglobin (the molecule that gives meat its pink or red hue) does lose its color when heated, the temperature at which the color change occurs can vary depending on a whole bunch of factors. In fact, when Cook’s Illustrated tested this theory, they found the color of the juice had very little to do with the temperature of the meat:
But when we cooked whole chickens, in one case the juices ran clear when the breast registered 145 degrees and the thigh 155 degrees—long before the chicken was done. And when we pierced another chicken that we’d overcooked (the breast registered 170 degrees and the thigh 180 degrees), it still oozed pink juices.
The takeaway? Get a thermometer, use it, and never under-cook or overcook your chicken again.
My parents warned me Germans would not get my sense of humor, and I hobbled around Berlin with my first affliction of what I later understood to be familial-associated gout.
The beer probably didn’t help.
Regardless, the occurrence of zoonotic pathogens and toxigenic bacteria in the food chain and the associated risk for humans were the focus of the “4th Symposium for Zoonoses and Food Safety” at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin.
Around 250 participants were discussing strategies to combat zoonotic pathogens in livestock, their occurrence in foods of animal origin and the role of toxigenic bacteria for food safety.
“The sharp decline of salmonellosis in humans in recent years can be seen as a success of the measures taken to combat this pathogen in poultry flocks,” says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. “Accordingly, there is now more focus on other sources of human infection”. This includes the occurrence of Salmonella in pig farming and in reptiles kept as pets.
For this reason, the symposium also focused on how to reduce the spread of salmonella in pig herds and pork meat. To do so, the food chain was examined from feedstuffs all the way through to food retail. New goals and initiatives of the federal states were presented too. The possible role of household pets as a source of infection for humans was also thematised using the example of reptiles.
The risk posed to humans by other zoonotic pathogens was also looked at. New laboratory methods play an important role in estimating these risks and assessing possible infection chains. This was illustrated by describing the investigation of a listeriosis outbreak. Another current example is the appraisal of the gut bacteria Clostridium difficile as a zoonotic pathogen.
A second main focus of the symposium was toxigenic bacteria. These are bacteria whose metabolites can trigger illnesses known as food intoxications (poisonings) that can sometimes be severe. It is not the bacterium but rather the toxin produced by it that is the cause of the health impairment.
The number of cases of foodborne diseases through toxigenic bacteria reported on EU level is increasing continuously. With approx. 16%, overall food intoxications took third place in reported cases of foodborne disease outbreaks after viruses and salmonella in 2014.
The main focus of the symposium was on the significance, occurrence and detection of toxigenic Staphylococci, Bacilli and Clostridia. The results of outbreak investigations in Germany were presented among other things, along with suitable examination methods for detecting toxigenic bacteria in prepared foods. The experts also picked up on the question of whether more efforts have to be made to better estimate and minimise the risk posed by toxigenic bacteria in the future.
The Packer writs in an editorial that the produce industry is justified in being upset about the latest accusation of lax food safety practices, but also acknowledges the industry has a strong food safety message and should be eager to share it.
It’s important that retailers and foodservice providers know the industry’s response to the most recent attack, this time from a United Kingdom study that raises concerns about salmonella in bagged salads.
How to do that?
Because at retail, the person consumers are going to ask is some minimum-wage kid who is stocking produce when a shopper walks by.
Most people want to go shopping, not do homework.
They are an abundance of tools that have been developed to help support risk communication at retail.
On the front lines.
Where sales are won and lost.
Market microbial food safety at retail rather than offering boilerplates.
I based a large part of my research career on verifying the soundbite, ‘we have released guidelines’ or, ‘we follow all recommendations’ by arranging to have students see what actually goes on.
In October 2014, the New South Wales Food Authority released Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products (the Guidelines). Despite this, outbreaks continued to take place, particularly where business hygiene and temperature control issues were apparent. In addition, businesses and councils approached the Food Authority for advice on desserts containing raw eggs and other unusual raw egg dishes. As a result, the Guidelines were recently updated and give specific reference to Standard 3.2.2, Division 3, clause 7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure that only safe and suitable food is processed.
To reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella, retail businesses are advised to avoid selling food containing raw or minimally cooked eggs. The Guidelines give food businesses that do sell food containing raw egg specific safety steps for its preparation and clear guidance and advice on what they must do to meet food safety regulations. The revised Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products is available at www. foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/ retail/raw_egg_guidelines.pdf.
This is nice but of no use to consumers at a restaurant who order fish and chips with a side of mayo or aioli. I’ve already begun an ad hoc investigation – because I don’t want my family to get sick – and can say that out of the 15 times I’ve asked over the past few years – is the aioli or mayo made at the restaurant or bought commercially – the server invariably returns and proclaims, We only use raw eggs in our aioli or mayo.
Only once, so far, has an owner or chef said, we know of the risk, we only use the bought stuff. And they’re ex-pat Canadians.
Ashley Nickle of The Packer reports that Bruce Taylor, CEO and founder of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, emphatically denounced the study.
“We find the artificial conditions created by this study to be ridiculous,” Taylor said in an e-mail. “Producers of bagged salads do not have ‘juice’ in the salad bag, and producers take painstaking steps to avoid the introduction of salmonella or any other pathogen.”
The conclusion regarding refrigeration was the only notable one in the study, said Trevor Suslow, a member of the technical committee of the Center for Produce Safety. Scientists would expect salmonella to be able to survive at the temperature recorded in the study but would not expect it to grow, he said.
“People will definitely be trying to reproduce their results as far as growth under refrigeration temperature for salmonella,” Suslow said. “That’s, for me, the key issue.”
Suslow, an extension research specialist at the University of California-Davis, said it is already known that a bagged salad is an environment in which salmonella can have the nutrients it needs to grow, which is why the industry has focused so intently on ensuring no pathogens make it into bags into the first place.
Drew McDonald, vice president of quality, food safety and regulatory affairs at Salinas-based Church Brothers Farms, said in an e-mail that, although the researchers did some things well, he also had some issues with the study.
“From my read, the study essentially grew salmonella in juices extracted from actual bagged salads in a mixture of sterile water,” McDonald said. “The issue is that in the ‘real’ world the salmonella has to come from somewhere (the surface of the leaf for example) but along with this would be many other microorganisms. That they were able to grow salmonella under these forced, artificial conditions without any competition from other organisms is not surprising.”
Along with the growth conditions, the washed status of the lettuce also gave McDonald pause.
“From my understanding, (the) project used ‘bagged salad,’” McDonald said. “I am assuming this means it was already washed. The fact that they added salad juice and salmonella after it had already been bagged and washed really just shows how important it is to not cross-contaminate cleaned product.”
The researchers, as a result of their findings, suggested people eat bagged salads as soon as possible after purchase to minimize risk. They wrote in a question-and-answer supplement to the release that they no longer keep their bagged salads in the refrigerator longer than one day.
“Ridiculous recommendation,” Taylor said in his e-mail. “For 30 years consumers have enjoyed hundreds of millions of bagged salads weekly with great benefit to their health and wellbeing.”
Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, also disagreed with the recommendation.
“People should always follow the instructions, including best-by dates, on packages, mainly so that they experience the best quality product,” McEntire said in an e-mail. “People shouldn’t be afraid to keep salad in their refrigerators for the full duration of the shelf life.”
She may mean use-by dates.
Suslow described the study as another piece of the puzzle in trying to find long-term solutions for food safety issues, but he was not impressed by it.
“Sort of generating a lot of additional concern and fear without any real basis for changing what (is) sort of standard practice isn’t necessarily helpful,” Suslow said. “Could hurt the category, but probably no more so than other things such as those instances when there are outbreaks or recalls.
“I think consumers understand that there’s no such thing as zero risk,” Suslow said (smartest thing anyone said in this story). “They understand and appreciate the convenience of packaged salads with multiple ingredients with very healthy mixed leafy greens, and that’s how the category has grown.”
I’ve been a long-time proponent that those farmers, processors and retailers that are really good at microbial food safety should be able to market such evidence directly to consumers.
This has nothing to do with food safety being a non-competitive issue, or whatever else industry types claim: It has everything to do with providing a market-based incentive for those in the farm-to-fork food safety system to brag about what they do.
There are good actors, there are bad actors: if trade associations were really concerned about their customers barfing, they’d stop saying everyone cares about food safety and support efforts to make such information readily available at retail.
But such microbiologically-safe claims are only valid with publicly available data: And there’s no such thing as no risk – or no Salmonella.
As that foodborne Salmonella infections in Denmark reached a historic low, some Danish processors are, according to Steve Sayer of Meatingplace.com, claiming on labels their chicken is Salmonalla-free.
Right, is a retail package containing raw skinless/boneless chicken that was recently purchased in Denmark (DK) Europe.
The labeling on the package is claiming to Danish consumers (where there’s an orange drawing of a chicken within a round circle): “Dansk Salmonelllafri Kylling,” when translated means – “Danish salmonella-free chicken.”
The DK packer is Rose Packing that claims their chicken is “salmonella free” on their website.
The long and winding road that the Danes labored to lowering salmonella within their hatcheries, layer hens, broiler chickens and eggs are impressive.
In 2015 a total of 925 salmonella infections were reported among Danes, which is equivalent to 16.2 infected cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This is the lowest number of salmonella infections since 1988, which is the first year from which researchers at the National Food Institute have used data to map the sources of foodborne salmonella infections.
2015 is also the first year since the introduction of the salmonella source account that Danish eggs have not caused illness. There have also been no registered cases of infection due to Danish chicken meat, which has been the case in four of the previous five years.
“The good results regarding Danish eggs and poultry are very encouraging. However, salmonella still constitutes a risk. Therefore it is important to maintain the preventive measures that researchers, governments and industry have jointly implemented over the years to ensure that salmonella is kept out of Danish products,” Senior Scientific Officer Birgitte Helwigh from the National Food Institute says.
Campylobacter continued to be the cause of most of the registered foodborne infections in Denmark in 2015 with 4,348 cases of illness. This represents a 15% increase from 2014 and is the highest number of cases ever recorded.
Improvements in the reporting system and changes in diagnostic methods mean that more cases of illness are registered than in the past. Therefore it is unclear whether more people actually got a campylobacter infection in 2015 compared to previous years.
In 2015, only 39 foodborne disease outbreaks have been registered. This is the lowest number of outbreaks since a nationwide database for food and waterborne disease outbreaks was established almost ten years ago. A total of 1,233 people have become sick in connection with the 39 outbreaks.
As in previous year norovirus was the leading cause of outbreaks (42%).
My new best friend – Ted, the dog – came from a breeder in Toowoomba, about 90 minutes away, atop Australia’s Great Dividing Ridge.
He weighs less than our cats, but is feisty and loves a walk.
Or a run.
The breeder (we went to the local shelters, but they had dogs that were not deemed appropriate by our townhouse body corporate) so we got the little one rather than make a rush decision to buy an $800K house so we could have a bigger dog.
Besides, this one’s got personality.
The breeder insisted that dogs do better on a raw meat diet.
I just wanted to get the dog, go visit our friends, and go home, so didn’t belabor the point.
But any raw product carries the same risk of Salmonella and E. coli and other things that are not fun to inflict on your dog.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working with Wisconsin health, agriculture, and laboratory agencies, several other states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
Portrait of the cute baby bull calf
Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may have been part of this outbreak. PulseNet, coordinated by CDC, is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.
Twenty-one people infected with an outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from eight states.
Among 19 people with available information, illnesses started on dates ranging from January 11, 2016 to October 24, 2016. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 21. Sixty-two percent of ill people are female. Among 19 ill people with available information, 8 (42%) reported being hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
WGS showed that isolates from ill people are closely related genetically to one another. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.
Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings have identified dairy bull calves from livestock markets in Wisconsin as the likely source of infections. Dairy bull calves are young, male cattle that have not been castrated and may be raised for meat. Dairy bull calves in this outbreak have also been purchased for use with 4-H projects.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about any contact with animals and foods eaten in the week before becoming ill. Of the 19 people interviewed, 15 (79%) reported contact with dairy bull calves or other cattle. Some of the ill people interviewed reported that they became sick after their dairy bull calves became ill or died.
One ill person’s dairy calves were tested for the presence of Salmonella bacteria. This laboratory testing identified Salmonella Heidelberg in the calves. Further testing using WGS showed that isolates from ill people are closely related genetically to isolates from these calves. This close genetic relationship means that the human infections in this outbreak are likely linked to ill calves.
As part of routine surveillance, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, one of seven regional labs affiliated with CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network, conducted antibiotic resistance testing on clinical isolates from the ill people associated with this outbreak. These isolates were found to be resistant to antibiotics and shared the same DNA fingerprints, showing the isolates were likely related to one another.
WGS identified multiple antimicrobial resistance genes in outbreak-associated isolates from fifteen ill people and eight cattle. This correlated with results from standard antibiotic resistance testing methods used by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory on clinical isolates from two ill people in this outbreak. The two isolates tested were susceptible to gentamicin, azithromycin, and meropenem. Both were resistant to amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and had reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. Antibiotic resistance limits treatment options and has been associated with increased risk of hospitalization, bloodstream infections, and treatment failures in patients.
Traceback information available at this time indicates that most calves in this outbreak originated in Wisconsin. Wisconsin health and agriculture officials continue to work with other states to identify herds that may be affected.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in January 2006, Nestle also rejected the company’s Plainview, Texas, plant after finding dozens of dead mice rotting in and around the plant, dead pigeons near a peanut receiving door and live birds roosting inside the plant.
Congressional types also heard that auditors AIB — also known as the American Institute of Baking based in Manhattan (sigh, Kansas) — were hired and paid by Peanut Corp. of America, notified the company in advance when they were coming, how to prepare for inspections and then gave its plants glowing reviews.
An inspector with AIB wrote to the manager of Peanut Corp.’s Blakely, Ga., in a December 2008 e-mail produced by the committee, “You lucky guy. I am your AIB auditor. So we need to get your plant set up for any audit.”
Mackay told the committee a version of, “how the hell could we know?” and that AIB is the most commonly used inspector by food companies in America.
He also wanted food safety placed under a new leader in the Health and Human Services department, called for new requirements that all food companies have written safety plans, annual federal inspections of facilities that make high-risk foods, and other reforms.
Kellogg’s is a multi-billion dollar company asking for a government handout to do what Kellogg’s should be doing – selling a safe product. Kellogg’s helped create the paper albatross that is third-party audits instead of having its own people at plants that supply product which Kellogg’s resells at a substantial profit. Kellogg’s crapmeister told Washington how to strengthen food safety when he couldn’t keep shit out of his own company’s peanut cracker thingies.
This is a company founded on fairytales and colonic cleansing in Michigan, making its money selling sugar-sweetened treats to kids and their parents, and using a sliver of those profits to sanctimoniously fund so-called research and training, using Michigan State University as their willing vessel.
With this background, it’s not surprising that, as reported by Dan Flynn of Food Safety News, that, “In mid-2007, Michael collaborated with his brother, Stewart Parnell, who was the President and CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, a peanut processing and manufacturing company, to provide peanut paste to Kellogg.”
P.P sales “was a small operation with two tanker trucks and one customer: Kellogg Company.
From mid-2007 to 2008, Michael shipped peanut paste from PCA’s Blakely, Georgia plant (PCA Blakely) to a Kellogg production facility in Cary, North Carolina.”
P.P.’s tanker trucks, filled with peanut paste, during those months were making 1,200 round-trips to provide the product Kellogg’s needed to put a little dab of peanut paste on all those Keebler PB sandwich crackers.
When anyone from Kelloggs talks about food safety, have a chuckle and move on; or tell them what dickshits they are and how they know nothing about food safety.
Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety
D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman
Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.
Both the vegetables were targeted by the agency’s proactive testing because of their role in previous outbreaks. Because cucumbers are often eaten raw, bacteria on them are more likely to make it into food; raw cucumbers have been blamed in five outbreaks of illness from 1996 to 2014.
Hot peppers, such as jalapeño and serrano peppers, on the other hand, are often cooked but can be a “stealth component” of multi-ingredient dishes, the FDA said. In 2008, hot peppers were implicated in an outbreak that caused 1,500 illnesses, 308 hospitalizations, and two deaths.
The FDA’s proactive sampling program began testing for disease-causing microbes in certain foods in 2014 to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria and to help the agency identify patterns that may help predict and prevent future contamination.
The latest findings, released lastThursday, included results from 1,050 cucumber samples and 1,130 hot pepper samples. Eventually 1,600 of each will be sampled.
Of the cucumber samples, 15 tested positive for salmonella. None tested positive for E. coli. Of the hot pepper samples, 35 tested positive for salmonella, and one tested positive for a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli that was determined to be incapable of causing severe illness.
The samples were collected at ports, packing houses, manufacturers, and distributors across the US.
The agency may take enforcement action, such as a recall, on foods that test positive.
In 2014, the FDA started a sampling program for a variety of commodities to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria on the commodities.
The microbiological sampling assignments were designed to collect a statistically determined number of samples of certain commodities over 12 to 18 months and test them for certain types of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.