Texas A & M Center for Food Safety announces new monthly column by Doug Powell of barfblog.com

The Texas A&M Center for Food Safety is proud to announce a new monthly column by Doug Powell of barfblog.com, starting March 19. This new feature will be available on the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety’s website, CFS.TAMU.EDU, along with other original content currently in production.

“Dr. Powell offers a unique and sometimes irreverent view of food safety issues – he always ‘hits the nail on the head’ and will challenge your comfort zone,” said Texas A&M doug.goalie.feb.14Center for Food Safety director, Gary Acuff. “I am thrilled that we convinced him to write a monthly column for us and I know he will be a favorite feature on our website.”

This column kicks off a new initiative of original content designed for academics, industry members and consumers. Look for videos, infographics and additional columns coming very soon.

Join us Wednesday, March 19th as we launch the first piece in our special feature series and keep checking back for more fresh new content from the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety.

We like the social media stuff: barfblog is now active on Facebook

Someone asked me about the history of barfblog this week – stuff like how it started and where the name came from.

Here’s how I remember it: Doug had been editing a bunch of daily listservs (FSNet, Agnet, Animalnet and FFnet) in some form since 1993. These were a big source of food safety-related news for risk managers (folks in industry, academia and the regulatory agencies) Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 1.28.41 PM before Google Alerts, RSS feeds and Twitter existed. Beyond sharing what was going on in the food safety world, Doug encouraged the students and staff who worked for him to write evidence-based commentary and submit op-eds and letters to the major publications (back when there were actual newspapers).

I came along in 2000 and became a news junkie and jumped into the whole share-your-thoughts-in-an-interesting-way thing. Even with my grammar, spelling and general logic challenges. In 2005, when self-publishing was all the rage, we decided to start a forum to post stories about food safety experiences, the stuff that others didn’t publish or didn’t fit the format of the traditional newspapers.

And we started a blog. It wasn’t really a blog at the start, but a forum. And it got bombarded by porn spam. So we left it for a while and relaunched the whole thing in 2007.

But it needed a name.

Christian, a particularly creative undergraduate, came up with the name – barfblog (all in lowercase as Dave Stanley always told Doug uppercase was a waste in e-mail, and he agrees) – and then created a video of him guzzling vermouth and actually barfing.

The idea was (and still is) to write stories about what makes people barf and take current news items and highlight what we thought was important – based on the literature and our experiences.

Doug’s more concise description is this:

Every time I talk to someone on a plane, train or automobile, they find out what I do, and then proceed to tell me their worst barf story. barfblog.com was created to capture those stories, except most people don’t want to be bothered writing, so we did it for them.

Since 2007 we’ve embraced social media as a channel to carry out that dialogue and increase discussion. But we’ve really sucked at Facebook. Until now. We’ve got a somewhat new, but now active space where we’ll be posting our, uh, blog posts as well as pictures and links. And we’re looking for folks to jump in on the discussions.
Check out barfblog on Facebook at Facebook.com/safefoodblog

consumerfoodsafety.org: people can make a difference

Some companies really are better. Yet as consumers, parents, shoppers, we don’t get to make that food safety decision at retail.

Still, everyone votes at checkout.

consumerfoodsafety.org is here to empower individuals so they can FoodFightAnimalHouse-185x141demand and choose microbiologically safe food.

barfblog.com will still be the place where I send food shout-outs to my daughters, where me and Chapman and Hubbell will post stuff, but to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, it’s about multiple messages and multiple media.

We’re still working out some bugs with the new blog site, the new daily listserv, but getting there. This will be the last dailybarf-l.

Sign up for the individual blog posting, or the daily mailer at consumerfoodsafety.org. And twitter at consumesafefood, and facebook.

Straight, no chaser; because some food companies are better

Amy says she’s my filter, and I say dumb things when she’s not around (IAFP?).

But that’s not quite true: I say dumb things whether she’s around or not.

It must have been March when I got interviewed for the Meatingplace magazine bit that appeared today.

powell.meatingplace.aug.13Apparently I give bracing interview.

I was in Kansas, miserable because I was once again away from my family for U.S. citizenship requirements, and had found out I was going to be fired from my professoring job for bad attendance (ironic, since I spent about four of the first five months of 2013 in the U.S.

I’ve got this fog of academia slowly clearing from my brain – not as fast as a San Diego or Brisbane morning, but getting there – and again reinventing.

But, for a journey through the past, have a giggle.

A friend said I looked like a cross between Harrison Ford and Guy Fieri; far too complimentary.

No one could accuse Douglas Powell of pulling his punches. This is the guy, after all, who named his popular online food safety journal, barfblog. In a bracing conversation with Meatingplace, Powell, a professor of microbiology, food safety consultant and an “OK goaltender in pickup hockey,” discussed consumers’ concerns in meat processors’ language.

Meatingplace: Your research encompasses food safety throughout the supply chain. Where do you think the weakest links are in the meat supply chain?

Powell: The meat supply chain has done a fabulous job over the last 10 years at improving itself. That being said, when little kids get sick, it’s devastating, and when you get outbreaks of E. coli … [meat companies amy.the.look.2007have] got to step up. I think the industry has been really innovative in some [ways]. Companies like Cargill started using video surveillance for animal welfare … [a]nd pretty soon they started doing it for food safety.

Meatingplace: Where would you personally, as a microbiologist in this area, like to see more effort made by the meat industry?

Powell: What I’d like to see is for the best companies to be able to go public and brag about it. You and I both know that there are a lot of companies out there that are really good at this stuff. I want them to brag about it at retail because as a parent of five daughters, I want to buy their product. If you’re going to invest in food safety, you should get rewarded for it.

The rest of the interview is available at meatingplace.com.



Bye-bye bites-l, hello dailybarf

The barfblog.com brain trust decided a few months ago to get rid of bites-l and centralize around barfblog.com.
American Independence Day seems apt, so welcome to dailybarf-O-Brother-Where-Art-Thoul.

Although it probably won’t be daily; the brain trust will figure it out as it goes.

Any immediate stuff will be on barfblog.com, twitter and facebook. When there’s enough stuff, a dailybarf will be distributed, along with additional items that were not blogged – dailybarf is like the daily digest with bonus tracks.

For those of you who signed-on-or-off for bites-l in the past month, sorry, you’ll probably have to do it again.

To sign up, go to barfblog.com and enter your e-mail in the receive newsletter box visible after scrolling down on the right side.

To unsubscribe, click the button at the bottom of dailybarf.


Smartest contribution to barfblog today; cooks know crap

Change is afoot.

Over the next couple of weeks, the bites-l listserv will be changed to something else. We haven’t had the resources to archive all the stories, so we hamburger.thermometerneeded to come up with something different.

barfblog.com will continue with musings from me, Chapman, Hubbell and various food safety friends.

Probably not as often.

bites-l will be converted to a new daily listserv – the dailybarf — with new formatting.

If you want your food safety news fast and furious, subscribe to barfblog.com, facebook, twitter, whatever.

If you want the daily summary of all barfblog.com posts, plus all the food safety stories we didn’t have time to blog about but are still of interest, subscribe to dailybarf.

Some may want both.

You don’t have to do anything, this is just an advisory of things about to happen; I’m not sure when, and am interested to see the outcome.

But I am encouraged by the increased dialogue on barfblog.com, which will amy.thermometerbecome the hub of all our food safety and child rearing activities.

From today:

At culinary school, we were taught to gauge the doneness of beef by touching it. As a food safety consultant, I believe you are foolish if you don’t use a thermometer.”

barfblog.com 25; top 30 public health blogs of 2012

I generally ignore those endless polls that purport to rank blogs, especially if you’ll put their endorsement sticker on your blog.

This one is a little different, because I actually care about public health, and especially the inspectors who work in a largely thankless job.

So according to BestPublicHealthSchools.com – and I’m quite proud of my association with the School of Public Health within the veterinary Rob_Mancini_001college at Kansas State University – barfblog.com comes in at 25.

I’m especially proud we do all this with minimal resources. We’re not CDC or the Wall Street Journal. But we do have Amy to fix all our mistakes.

And this is no list of wannabes.

 “The field of public health is wide ranging and varied. There are many perspectives on the field and as public health by definition affects everybody, there are many stakeholders. This list consists of the top thirty blogs in the field of public health from experts in many portions of the field. Readers will find that the list consists of a wide variety of perspectives including medical, economic, national, global, corporate, and governmental.”