Dumped

Ashley Chaifetz, a PhD student studying public policy at UNC-Chapel Hill writes,

Food safety and food quality are not the same, especially when you are in a dumpster searching for food to eat.Unknown-10

NPR’s The Salt covered Maximus Thaler, a “semi-professional dumpster diver with a moral purpose” and his organization, The Gleaners’ Kitchen.

You look at the food and you smell the food … using your senses is really important,” Thaler says.

While vegetables may get mushy and cheeses might mold, it’s nothing that Thaler can’t cut off or cook up. He says the only thing that’s really risky is meat.

“I would never eat a rare steak out of the dumpster,” he says. “Don’t take the meat that’s obvious discolored,” he advises. Eggs, on the other hand, are fine, he says, as long as they don’t smell absurdly strong of sulfur.

“There are complex systemic reasons why there is so much food waste in this country, but at their core is the fact that most Americans have forgotten what good food is.” He argues that humans have evolved to know what good food is, and we don’t need the Food and Drug Administration or sell-by dates to tell us that.

The dates on food packages are certainly flawed but it isn’t because of the FDA. No federal agency regulates the dates on packaging, except for baby formula. Manufacturers and retailers add various kinds of dates to their foods—and use sell-by, best-by, or use-by to help consumers make choices about the quality, not safety, of the items.

Humans have no special ability to smell Salmonella, or E.coli, or any other pathogen that might be reason a grocery has tossed the food into the dumpster (and neither do dogs). Every item Thaler mentioned (vegetables, cheese, meat, and eggs) has been recalled due to pathogen contamination or foodborne illness risk within the last 5 years. Just because he hasn’t gotten sick does not mean the food is zero risk.

I agree with Thaler’s suggestion that more food is wasted than it should be—and certain grocery stores are better than others at donating their barely-damaged fruits and vegetables to food pantries and food banks.

It’s not that I think dumpster diving is intrinsically bad. It’s that the advocates often fail to adequately address certain issues, like food safety.

Chinese restaurant serves noodles laced with opium poppy

A Chinese noodle vendor in northern Shaanxi province has been detained for 10 days after admitting he added powdered poppy plant — from which opium is made — to his dishes to keep customers coming back, Chinese media has reported.

china.noodle.opiumThe owner said that he bought 4 catty (2kg) of the substance for 600 yuan ($98) in August. He said he added it to his food to make it taste better and to improve his business, the Huashangbao paper reported.

The opium-laced noodles came to light after police stopped a vehicle driven by a 26-year-old man and tested him for drugs not long after he had consumed a bowl of the noodles.

The man was detained for 15 days on charges of drug abuse and was not released until family members told police how they had also eaten at the same restaurant and tested positive for the drug.

The paper said the risk of becoming a drug addict from the laced noodles, even if eaten continuously for a long period of time, was unlikely.

It added that lacing food with opium poppy was not uncommon in China, with similar cases in 2010 and 2012.

Man cooks ex her dog for dinner

In a scene straight out of the vastly underrated movie, War of the Roses, a California man was arrested on charges of stalking and animal cruelty after his ex-girlfriend told police that he killed and cooked her dog before feeding it to her.

war.of.rosesThe woman contacted Redding, Calif., police Sept. 9, telling them she was a victim of domestic violence and stalking by her 34-year-old ex-boyfriend Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh of Pale Cedro. She said she had been physically assaulted numerous times during their relationship which lasted several months, police Sgt. Todd Cogle said.

Reason to use different colored bottles: 28 children accidentally drink bleach at N.J. day care

Twenty-eight children and two adults accidentally drank bleach at a day care center in Jersey City on Thursday, according to officials.

the_first_bleach_bottle_by_thebleachbottle-d5h2xeyThe children, aged 3 and 4, were evaluated and taken from the day care center, Growing Tree II, to Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health. The children were in stable condition and expected to be released to their parents, officials said.

“We don’t think the amount they ingested is significant,” said hospital spokesman Mark Rabson.

Hospital officials were not clear how or why bleach was ingested by the children and staff.

Dr. Steven M. Marcus, the executive director of New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, said such accidents are fairly common. Hotels, restaurants and other food service outlets are required to regularly sanitize certain areas, and often use bleach and water as the solution. Despite warnings by the poison center against it, workers will often put the solution in a container — such as a brand-name water bottle or gallon jug — that can be mistaken for water.

Who steals sheep? New Zealanders

Cunning sheep rustlers have captured and presumably butchered 30 pregnant ewes from a park on the fringes of central Auckland that is well known for its daffodils and lambs.

Cornwall Park.nzjpeg“It’s disgusting behaviour,” the park’s farm manager Peter Maxwell said on Tuesday after returning from a flock headcount.

“Thirty ewes have gone missing in the past month, all pregnant, some carrying two or even three lambs.

“To think that there are people out there targeting these animals, rounding them up and presumably killing them for food, is very distressing.”

Police are working with Cornwall Park management after a series of incidents over the past few weeks during which sheep rustlers have used dogs and traps to round up and capture sheep after dark.

Last Wednesday passers-by disturbed three men and three large dogs capturing newborn lambs.

“One of the dogs was standing on a lamb and the men were working to round up the sheep,” Mr Maxwell said.

“This is difficult work so it’s obviously highly planned.”

Lizards and worms should not be on the school lunch menu in India, or elsewhere

Rice and lentils was the free lunch on Aug. 22 at the Government Model Senior Secondary school in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

sprouted-lentilsTeachers took a look at the meal.

They found worms.

Lunch was not served. Seven hundred students reportedly went home hungry after their school day.

India’s free school lunch program is the largest in the world. The program was started in the mid-1990s with two goals: to fight chronic hunger and child malnutrition and to increase school enrollment and attendance.

Dog meat fades in S. Korea

The USA Today today reports that for more than 30 years, chef and restaurant owner Oh Keum-il built her expertise in cooking one traditional South Korean delicacy: dog meat.

sadie.dog.powellIn her twenties, Oh traveled around South Korea to learn dog meat recipes from each region. During a period of South Korean reconciliation with North Korea early last decade, she went to Pyongyang as part of a business delegation and tasted a dozen different dog dishes, from dog stew to dog taffy, all served lavishly at the Koryo, one of the North’s best hotels.

She adapted famous dishes to include dog meat, replacing beef with dog in South Korea’s signature meat and rice dish bibimbap. But the 58-year-old’s lifelong experience with a food eaten for centuries in Korea is about to become history.

Daegyo, the famous dog meat restaurant she opened in a Seoul alley in 1981, will serve its last bowl of boshintang, or dog stew, on Friday, a reflection of the challenges facing a trade that is neither legal nor explicitly banned under South Korean laws governing livestock and food processing.

Food Safety Talk 64: The One With Doug

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.  They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.doug.powell.church

In a special episode recorded back before Ben went on summer hiatus, the guys invite Doug Powell on for a chat.  According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong), Dr. Douglas Powell was raised in Brantford, Ontario (that’s in Canada). Doug describes himself as a former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com. He is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey.

These days Doug is been thinking a lot about soul, and given the Venn diagram of their intersecting musical tastes this leads to a discussion of Mr. Soul and a place where even Richard Nixon has got soul. Any discussion of music and soul leads to a mention of the classic Soul Man, which Don knows from the Blues Brothers movie, and Doug knows from the original version by Sam and Dave. Doug is thinking about soul because of his monthly writing gig for the Texas A&M Center for food safety. The piece he was ruminating on during the call led to a post called “It’s Gotta Have Soul” where his central thesis is that most people talking about food safety lack relevance; they lack soul, and fail to resonate.

After the guys bid Doug good night, the discussion turns to managing graduate students, task tracking software like OmniFocus, distracting diversions like Flappy Bird, managing references using Sente or Mendeley and a brief look forward to this special events which are coming, or rather were coming, at the IAFP annual meeting.

Would you eat off a subway platform? This guy in Canada did

A vacuum brand manager is so confident in his product’s cleaning power that he decided to eat his lunch straight from the floor of Toronto’s busiest subway station, and to record the experience on video.

Ravi Dalchand, brand manager at Bissell Canada and ad firm KBS+ Toronto, came up with the brilliant if gag-inducing idea.

In the video, he cleans a small square of the subway platform with a Bissell Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop, which the company claims can eliminate 99.9 per cent of all germs.

99.9 per cent would be a 3-log killstep.

Food safety types tend to want about a 7-log kill step.