Fish edition: Gratuitous food porn shot of the day

Our friend is spending her weekends doing a business degree, and her hubby took the girls after hockey, so Amy and I got to relive the many reasons we initially got together 10 years ago and cooked dinner for our friends.

Sorenne ate the trout (she thought it was salmon because of the color, I didn’t argue) and her friend devoured the barramundi. Temperature-verified 145F.

fish.mar.15

Boy Scouts avoid liability in E. coli lawsuit

I was shocked and shamed about a month ago when we were invited to dinner at the home of other hockey parents.

thermometers.feb.15I normally carry a spare Cormark PTD 300 tip-sensitive digital thermometer in my knapsack, but had donated the spare to Sorenne’s school the day before and forgot to replenish the stash (thanks, Chapman, for providing more).

I felt naked not being able to probe the pork roast, especially when our hosts asked for a demonstration.

Dr. food safety was Dr. fail.

Apparently the Boy Scouts of America don’t care about such things either.

Harrison King, then 14, was among more than 80 campers who became ill after a 2008 gathering at a sprawling Boy Scout camp in Rockbridge County. King suffered brain damage as a result of his illness, according to his lawsuit.

A Virginia Department of Health report concluded the outbreak was caused in part by undercooked ground beef.

amy.thermometer.05King sued both the Boy Scouts and the company that sold ground beef used at Camp Goshen. He claimed the meat supply was tainted and the Boy Scouts failed to ensure the meat was properly cooked.

U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon first ruled in November that the Boy Scouts were entitled to charitable immunity in King v. S&S Foods LLC, Boy Scouts of America (VLW 014-3-618).

At the time, Moon left the case open for the parties to explore whether there was evidence of gross negligence that would allow King’s claim to proceed against the Boy Scouts.

Based on evidence that the Boy Scout regional unit had provided guidance on the proper cooking of so-called “foil dinners” and on safe food handling generally, Moon rejected the allegations of gross negligence. He dismissed the Boy Scouts and the BSA regional unit on March 20 in King v. S&S Foods LLC (VLW 015-3-142).

Take a thermometer.

 

Use a thermometer, not steaming hot: Bad government advice paid by taxpayers in UK and Aus

The taxpayer funded bullshit is below, even though the US and Canada say, use a damn thermometer, because color is a lousy indicator. The science is clear on this issue.

bites.stick.it.inThe UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is reminding people to take care when preparing and cooking burgers at home.

Steve Wearne, Director of Food Policy, at the FSA, said: ‘The most important thing to remember is to cook your burgers so they are steaming hot all the way through, that none of it is pink and that any juices run clear.”

And in Australia, Safe Food Queensland endorsed a fact sheet from Queensland Health that stated, “Make sure to cook chicken thoroughly so that there is no pink meat and the juices run clear.”

Fail.

Stick it in and use a tip sensitive digital thermometer.

Thermometers, they aren’t just for omnivores

That’s what I told Lydia Zuraw of Food Safety News when she and I spoke last week about my favorite kitchen tool, the tip-sensitive digital thermometer (below, exactly as shown). We chatted about cold spots, microwaving and checking internal temperatures in multiple spots.

I also told her that my very first thermometer came as a gift from the infamous Pete Snyder. It was during the testing of food safety infosheets and Pete had been providing feedback on specific kinds of thermometers and why. And Pete’s suggestions came with publications and references. One day my very own Comark PDT 300 showed up unannounced in the mail.231-xx7_z_a

 

“It’s a tool just like a frying pan,” says Benjamin Chapman, associate professor of food safety at North Carolina State University. “The more you cook, the more investment you put into your tools.”

As for dial thermometers, or bi-metallic stems, they’re “not great tools,” Chapman says. “They’re fine in a jam, but they do have to be calibrated.”246609-meatthermometers-comark-pdt300digital

They also aren’t as precise – as the dial provides an average temperature between the tip and a dimple, sometimes an inch away. That makes me nervous as the surface of a thick piece of meat may be 20 or 30 degrees warmer than an inch inside.

Cyclones, rain, and temperature-verified steak

During a morning of unrelenting and ongoing cyclone-related rain (yes, Brisbane gets weather too, not just Mass.) hockey skating and Chapman embarrassingly wearing a Leafs jersey (although my kid had one on this a.m., but Chapman should know better), I decided, why not barbeque for lunch.

145 F, rested for 10 minutes.

steak.rain.feb.15

Less talking, more doing: Horrible hygiene humbles Australian MKR duo Gina and Anna

My Kitchen Rules is Australian food porn.

According to Rebekah Carter of the Australian Institute of Food Safety, social media was just one of the locations to receive an outpouring of disgusted comments recently after mother-daughter duo Anna and Gina demonstrated a number of food safety faux pas on “My Kitchen Rules.”

mkr.ann.ginaThe first couple to be eliminated, Anna and Gina from Canberra made a dramatic exit from the popular television show. However, the response that followed their departure was even more striking.

Fans of the reality TV cooking contest flocked to the radio and grabbed their keyboards to express comments suggesting that the show’s contestants were in desperate need of some “lessons in kitchen hygiene”.

Alongside rejecting gloves for her Band-Aid covered fingers, viewers reeled at the image of contestant Gina double-dipping her spoon in the soup. One fan called into the Kyle and Jackie O breakfast show with the phrase “would you like some saliva with that?”

Meanwhile, the official Facebook page for My Kitchen Rules was over-run with queasy comments. Kelly Cockshell wrote “I’m sorry, but you don’t put the spoon back in after you taste test that is gross!!”

Kayla Dean commented “All teams before they start need to go through a health and hygiene course.”

And Robyn Champion agreed, saying “OMG no wonder the ragout tastes bad… did you see all that double dipping going on! Send them home!!!”

Not lovin’ it: UK father says his McDonald’s quarter pounder was completely raw

McDonald’s takes a lot of heat about their burgers, yet going back to the initial identified E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the U.S. in 1982, they’ve somewhat fool-proofed the cooking system and taken steps to reduce risk.

mclovinSo any claims about inadequate cooking should be investigated before passing journalistic judgment.

A father who bit into his McDonald’s burger to find it was completely raw has vowed to never return to the chain.

Byron Thomas, from Northampton, ordered the quarter pounder with cheese meal for £4.69 on Monday evening, and took it back to his car.

But when the 28-year-old eagerly tucked into his dinner, he noticed a strange taste after he had his first bite.

He said he was sickened when he saw that apart from the light brown top layer, the rest of the meal was red raw.

Color is a lousy indictor of beef safety, but it’s promoted by the UK Food Standards Agency, so …

The father-of-two went back in to the branch at the Weston Favell Shopping Centre in Northampton to complain – but said the manager only offered to cook him another burger.

He then claims he was up from 4am on Tuesday being sick.

Mr Thomas, who lives with his partner Gail Mooney, 36, vowed never to eat there again.

Byron, who works as a health and safety trainer on the railways, refused to give the raw burger back to the manager at the McDonald’s branch.

He is now planning on contacting his local environmental health officer to make an official complaint.

royale.cheese.pulp.fictionMr Thomas, who has two sons Kenzie, three, and Kyson, six, and two stepdaughters Katie, 13, and Karley, 16, has also contacted McDonalds’ head office.

He added: ‘I went straight back in there but the manager didn’t look too bothered.

‘He just said ‘sorry I’ll cook you another burger’.

‘But I refused to eat that and refused to give him the raw burger because he wanted to take it away.

A McDonald’s spokesman said: ‘Food safety is our highest priority. We place great emphasis on quality control and follow rigorous standards in order to avoid any imperfections in our food.”

Here’s a possibly better answer: Bryon, we’re sorry, we’re really sorry, and we’ll do everything we can to find out how this happened.”

Some talk, some do: 101 burgers all temped for safety

Sorenne was in prep (kindergarten for North American types) last year when she asked, “Dad, can I order food from the tuck shop?”

“Not until I check it out,” said Dr. food safety dad.

doug.tuckshop.feb.15So I asked about, and, as these things go, was soon nominated to be the food safety advisor or something for the tuck shop.

I can say that having worked with the team of volunteers, led by Katherine, they didn’t need much help in the food safety and cleanliness area.

I’ve introduced some basic paperwork (like recording fridge and freezer temperatures), some posters on cooking and handwashing as reminders, and using tip-sensitive digital thermometers to determine whether food is cooked to a microbiologically safe temperature.

I’m a parent, and wouldn’t serve anything to my daughter that I wouldn’t serve at home (as Katherine likes to say). That’s why I individually temped all 101 beef and chicken burgers that I cooked Feb. 6, 2015, for tuck shop.

It’s what I’d do at home, and what I’d expect anyone else to do.

The menu’s up to Katherine and the other volunteers. I’m there to make sure that whatever they serve, it’s safe.

It is.

With a check by Schaffner: How to avoid food poisoning at home

Science is about disagreements, revising knowledge and generating new evidence-based knowledge (someone will disagree with that).

Don-Schaffner-214x300Don Sapatkin of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently asked a number of food safety types about food safety at home. For fun, I asked friend of the barfblog and known bugcounter, Don Schaffner of Rutgers University (left, prettymuch as shown) his thoughts on the answers.

“Washing a sponge with soap doesn’t get rid of bacteria,” said microbiologist Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety (below, right). They grow at room temperature and get spread around anything else you wipe off. Put the sponge in a microwave for one minute to kill the salmonella and other bacteria,” he said.

Schaffner: Sort of true. Washing a sponge will probably remove some bacteria, but not all. Same with the microwave: it depends upon the microwave, the amount of moisture in the sponge, etc. A better practice may be to put your sponges in the automatic dishwasher, assuming you have one.

 Experts say most home kitchens are far dirtier.

Schaffner: Might be true, but science-based head-to-head comparisons are lacking.

 Cutting boards should not have hard-to-clean nicks and grooves (wood is better, Doyle said, because the resin has antibacterial properties).

Schaffner: Dean Cliver’s work showed wooden cutting boards to be safer, but the literature is far from clear on the matter.

 Washing chicken in the sink may sound hygienic but actually poses all sorts of risks.

Schaffner: Yup, this has good scientific consensus.

 “Every time you run your disposal in the sink you are generating a little airflow back up.”

michael.doyle.produce.07Schaffner: Yup, probably true.

 If you do wash chicken in the sink, clean it (the sink) with bleach (1 ounce in 1 gallon of water).

Schaffner: Giving bleach concentration recommendations always concerns me. The units are never the same, the knowledge about the type of bleach is never certain, and the type of surface being cleaned makes a difference (plates versus countertops).  I used to dream of creating a webpage that would definitively answer these questions, and do unit conversions. Now I have the same dream except it’s an iPhone app.

Craig Hedberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (below, left): “If you take this big mass of hot food and put it into a plastic container and put a lid on it, you are holding the heat in and slowing the cooling process, even if you put it in the refrigerator. You want to get it out of bacterial-growth range” – 40 to 140 degrees – “within a couple of hours.” Pouring it into containers no more than four inches deep speeds the process.

Schaffner: This is more or less correct, but I believe the correct depth of the food recommendation is 3 inches. It doesn’t really matter how deep the container is, it’s the depth of the food.

If food is not cooled fast enough, spores that survived cooking can germinate and grow bacteria. Reheating leftovers to 165 degrees for 15 seconds will kill them.

Schaffner: This is the general time temperature recommendation. I’ve never checked to see what log reduction it would give for Clostridium perfringens cells, but it’s likely sufficient.

Hedberg advises against washing prewashed bagged lettuce; E. coli and salmonella can adhere to cut surfaces and tiny pores. “If it’s contaminated, your washing it again would not eliminate the contamination,” he said. “If it is not contaminated, your washing may contaminate it.”

Schaffner: That is consistent with expert recommendations.

 Hands should be washed vigorously with soap before preparing food or eating; after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or even raw produce; and after smoking, eating, or drinking.

Craig HedbergSchaffner: Also after pooping or changing a diaper, handling pets etc.

 Countertops, cutting boards, utensils, etc., should be cleaned with hot water after every use.

Schaffner: I also recommend soap.

 Cooking and holding temperatures should be checked, which means having working thermometers. (The fridge should be set between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit; the freezer, at zero or below).

Schaffner: They nailed this one.

 Everything should be clean: Garbage covered, or at least three feet from food-preparation areas; pets never allowed in the kitchen (and hands washed after petting).

Schaffner: I’m not sure where the three-foot recommendation comes from, and it’s probably not science-based. Does anyone really exclude their pets from the kitchen? When we had dogs their food and water dishes were in the kitchen. Good luck getting a cat to do anything you want to do.

To bring home cooks up to speed, the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension posts a quick home kitchen food safety best practices check-Up list: http://bit.ly/1xDO19F.