What’s the risk of bloody with cheese?

When I was eleven my parents took me to Disney World in Florida. I don’t remember much about the trip other than we rode space mountain, went to Epcot, and did the backlot tram tour at what was then called MGM Studios.

And I remember the burger I had one night at a restaurant on International Drive.

It was the juiciest, tastiest burger I had ever had.images-1

It was really undercooked, I ordered it medium rare.

I don’t think ordering burgers undercooked was an option in Ontario. I had never been offered a choice before.

No one told me or my parents that there was increased risk of illness eating undercooked meat. Maybe there was a consumer advisory on the menu. But probably not, I don’t remember seeing it. This was 1989, before Jack-in-the-Box. After McDonalds in 1982.

While golfing at IAFP in 2005, Doug and I were in line for burgers in-between the front and back nine. The cook asked the group in front of us how they wanted their burgers. One guy responded, “Bloody … with cheese.”

No one said anything about the risks.

Over the next nine holes we talked about servers as risk communicators, figuring out what they knew, what they said and how to get better information to patrons.

Years later, as part of a USDA CAP grant Ellen Thomas would lead the first part of this work and found that servers aren’t great at helping folks makes informed decisions (more on that when the paper comes out).

Sometimes managers and owners try to get their customers information by signing a disclaimer; I wonder what kind of risk information is in the documents.

The Kingswood Arms in Waterhouse Lane was downgraded from a 5 to a 1 following a visit in February, a decision that has left landlord Tony Slayford furious.

He told the Mirror: “That is the only reason why we went to number 1, which I am absolutely disgusted about. They were happy with all the cleanliness. Everything is spot on.”

The pub has been offering burgers cooked medium-to-rare for more than five years, but has always asked customers to sign a disclaimer beforehand.

Moldy bun on airport burger: Australian man wants apology

A Melbourne Airport traveler is in a bun fight with a fast food franchise after claiming he chowed down on a moldy burger.

burger.mold.melbourneCameron Baker said he’s still looking for an apology from Oporto after biting into what he claims was a mold-ridden burger at its Melbourne Airport store in October last year.

He said he had eaten most of the burger before realizing there was an extra condiment and took it to the manager, who had promised he would be contacted by someone.

But according to Mr Baker, he was contacted by Delaware North, which manages and delivers catering and service at various retail outlets at Melbourne Airport.

He claimed they had “accepted no responsibility for the moldy burger” and had informed him not to discuss it with anyone.

“Everybody just tried to sweep it under the rug,” he said.

“(They told me) ‘we consider this matter closed’.”

Mr Baker had been on a stopover in Melbourne on his way back to Queensland following a short stint in Hobart.

He said he’d been immediately unwell as a result and had, until recently, been unable to eat meat.

He said he was slowly starting to eat meats again.

‘There’s a poop in my burger’ – 16 of worst prank 999 calls to Cambridgeshire police amid sharp rise

Sorenne said the other day, the emergency number in Spain is 112.

sorenne.science.fair.aug.15We checked it out and she was right.

She said someone spoke in her grade 1 class about telephones.

We emphasized that the emergency number in Australia is 000.

In North America its 911, and apparently in the UK it’s 999.

A child asking for toilet roll and a report of a “poop in my burger” are among a tripling in the number of hoax 999 calls to Cambridgeshire police prompting a stark warning.

Valuable police time is being taken up by hoax and malicious callers reported fake crimes and emergencies.

A total of 366 calls deemed “inappropriate” were made to the force last year up from 109 the previous year and from January to October this year a total of 259 of the calls have been made.

Figures released using freedom of information laws also show that between August 2010 to July 2011 a total of 590 calls were made to the force that were deemed a “hoax”.

The number increased in the same period the following year to 604 and fell to 587 from August 2012 to July 2013. And the total number of officers deployed to the calls over the three years was 1,074.

The number of crimes linked to the hundreds of hoax calls was 17.

A police spokeswoman said: “The force has seen a rise in the number of hoax calls for service in the last couple of years.

“When a call for service comes in we have a duty to take that report seriously, and by wasting police time on dealing with fictitious calls people are seriously jeopardising the safety of those in genuine need of police help.”

Cambridgeshire police has released a list of hoax calls.

  A youth called, saying ‘your mum’ a couple of times, and then hung up

  Child called saying a robber had stolen his ‘di*k’, laughed, then hung up

  Fake call about an ‘orange glow’ coming from a house – regular hoax caller about fires as ‘likes seeing firefighters’ turn up

  Child asked for a toilet roll and then hung up

  Drunk person telling us they were off to get a kebab

  Child wanting to order a pizza

  Child saying their friend has been kidnapped and killed, laughing, swearing and hung up

  Fake reports of break ins

  Claims that a school was on fire

  Man saying ‘yeah, me and my girlfriend are hard core’ then hung up

  Woman reporting in hospital and nurses have taken her cigarettes off her (not mental health related)

  ‘I meant to call my friend’

  ‘There is a poop in my burger’

  ‘F**k you’

  Neighbour is killing my chickens

  Girl claiming to have been beaten up and was bleeding from ‘everywhere’ when we said we could she her on CCTV she hung up.


Spam burger in Sydney

Amy was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota, next door to Austin, MN, the home of Spam.

spam.burgersProving that it really is 1978 in Australia, a popular Sydney bar is now serving a Spam burger.

Bloody Mary’s in Sydney’s Darlinghurst is known for its Instagram-worthy, American diner-style creations and of course, top-notch Bloody Marys made with homemade tomato juice.

The spam burger costs $16 and comes with grilled spam, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pineapple, mayonnaise and mustard.

“We put it on the menu two weeks ago and it’s going off, it’s crazy,” owner Cinta Rockey told news.com.au.

Ellen Thomas: Thermometers only way to know a burger is safe

Ellen Thomas, a PhD student in food science at North Carolina State University who enjoys running, baking, and playing the violin, writes:

I’ve ordered a crazy number of burgers over the past year. This isn’t because I constantly crave red meat, I’m just interested in what restaurant servers say about eating undercooked burgers.

An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, which sickened 11 people in 4 different states, has been linked to undercooked burgers at restaurants. Over 1.8 million pounds of ground beef have been recalled.

hamburger.thermometerThe FDA Food Code, adopted in some form by most states, says that it is the duty of the restaurant to disclose risk information around consuming undercooked hamburgers and remind people when they order. Sometimes this is included on the menu, sometimes the servers engage patrons. However, there is no data about whether this actually occurs.

To capture this data, I’ve trained a legion of secret shoppers to order burgers cooked medium rare, and record the risk information provided on menus and by servers.

It’s been an enlightening process.

A lot of servers talk about color, some talk about temperature, others talk about the firmness of the burger.

There have been numerous situations where a server simply says, “the cook just knows what they’re doing.” A lot of servers assure the secret shoppers that eating a medium rare burger is perfectly safe.

And some responses have been shocking like the server who volunteered, “You’ll be fine eating it medium rare- my sister ate a burger that was raw in the middle when she was pregnant and she was just fine.”

rare.hamburgerUnfortunately, misinformation about cooking burgers is widespread. When interviewed by 22News following the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, Joe Igner, owner of Local Burger in Northampton, Massachusetts, said that he “never had a problem with E. coli” because “it’s recommended to cook ground beef at least 4 minutes and up to 7 minutes on each side.” Nowhere did Igner mention thermometer use. He also stated, “We don’t get it from a processing plant and that’s a big difference because when they process, they process beef and turkey and if they don’t change the blades, that’s when somebody’s going to get sick.”

This is simply not true. Contamination can occur at any point when processing, handling, and preparing raw ground beef, including in a restaurant kitchen, even if it is ground in house.

Sydney Lupkin of ABC writes, So how do you know if your hamburger’s safe? It’s not as simple as you think.

“With ground beef, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness,” said Marianne Graveley, a specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meat and poultry hotline.

Meat that’s still pink may be well-done, Graveley said, and meat that’s brown may need more heat.

“We used to have different campaign: It’s done when it’s brown in middle,” she said. “Now we say to use a meat thermometer. It’s the only way to know that it’s safe.”

USDA recommends that hamburgers be cooked to at least 160 degrees internally. But it’s no secret that few of us take the temperature of our patties, and many of us prefer them rare.

“We would never recommend that,” Graveley said. “The risk of food poisoning is too great. People have gotten very sick from very small amount of food. We just don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175The server response that sticks with me the most is, “I’m just a server- I don’t know what the cooks do.” This may seem like a reasonable statement; servers are usually tending to numerous tables in a very high-paced environment and only pass through the kitchen to pick up dishes.

When digging into the current outbreak, it’s curious to think whether illnesses have occurred had risks been effectively communicated to consumers. What I’m trying to figure out is how much do servers play a role in advising consumers of their food choices?

Ordering all of these burgers shows me that there are gaps between what happens in a kitchen and what a server tells restaurant patrons. As the server is typically the liaison between the kitchen and the consumer, these gaps mark crucial points where risk information could occur and it is not happening.

‘Not in our culture to eat horse meat’; horse, pig DNA found in Irish supermarket burgers

Traces of horse meat have been found in burgers on sale in some of the country’s busiest supermarkets, food safety chiefs have revealed.

Scientific tests on beef products sold in Tesco, Dunnes StoresLidlAldi and Iceland uncovered low levels of the animal’s DNA.

Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), said there was no health risk but also no reasonable horse.meat.09explanation for horse meat to be found.

“The products we have identified as containing horse DNA and/or pig DNA do not pose any food safety risk and consumers should not be worried,” he said.

According to the research by the FSAI, one sample of burger goods, Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burgers, showed about 29% horse meat relative to beef content.

“Whilst there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, there is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horse meat in their production process,” Prof Reilly said.

“In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horse meat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger.”

Tennessee woman arrested for calling 911 to complain about ‘nasty’ hamburger from Hardee’s

The latest entry to our food-related 911 Hall of Shame is Donna Marie Nichols of Rockwood, Tennessee (right, exactly as shown) who called 911 twice to complain about a substandard fast food hamburger.
In one call, obtained by the website The Smoking Gun, Ms Nichols, 50, tells the 911 dispatcher that the burger is "no good" and "nasty."

When deputies arrived at her home, she said that she had called the restaurant before she called 911 and the manager had offered her a refund for her food, according to WCRB.

She was arrested on abuse of 911 charges and booked into the Roane County Jail. She was released Monday night.

Previously, customers have been popped for calling 911 to register dismay about Burger King lemonade, McDonald’s McNuggets, and pizza.

Epidemiology can work; Salmonella Hadar found in fingered Jennie-O turkey burgers

Oh frozen food, you are so helpful during investigations of foodborne illness.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported last night, in its best CDC-speak,

“Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies have linked this outbreak to eating turkey burgers. Investigators were not able to determine consumption of turkey burgers for all case-patients. However, FSIS determined that at least three of the case-patients in Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin specifically reported eating Jennie-O Turkey burgers the week before their illness began. Samples of Jennie-O ground turkey burgers were collected by public health agencies from the homes of case-patients in Colorado and Wisconsin who tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Hadar. Both turkey burger samples were positive for the outbreak strain. States have reported antibiotic resistance of the outbreak strain to several clinically useful drugs including ampicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, cephalothin, and tetracycline.

"As of April 1, 2011, 12 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 10 states: Arizona (1 case), California (1 case), Colorado (1 case), Georgia (1 case), Illinois (1 case), Missouri (1 case), Mississippi (1 case), Ohio (1 case), Washington (1 case), and Wisconsin (3 cases). Isolation dates range from December 27, 2010 to March 24, 2011. Ill persons range in age from 1 year to 86 years old, with a median age of 29 years old. Sixty-three percent are female. Among the 12 ill persons with available information, three have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported."

12 sick with salmonella linked to turkey burgers

They may be all natural and lean, but raw, frozen turkey burgers can contain salmonella. With raw, frozen turkey thingies and burgers, and raw frozen beef patties, people have been observed to treat them like a sterile mini-Frisbee because they are frozen, leading to cross-contamination. And something like 1 per cent of Americans say they use a tip-sensitive thermometer to ensure burgers or thingies have reached a safe temperature; color is a lousy indicator of safety. That’s why it’s important to reduce loads of dangerous microorganisms in foods before they reach the food service or home kitchen.

At least 12 people throughout the U.S. are sick with Salmonella serotype Hadar, with illnesses occurring between December 2010 and March 2011. Health types determined that three of the patients in Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin specifically reported eating a Jennie-O ground turkey burger prior to illness onset and hospitalization; the last of these illnesses was reported on March 14, 2011.

Last night, Jennie-O Turkey Store, a Willmar, Minn. establishment, recalled approximately 54,960 pounds of frozen, raw turkey burger products that may be contaminated with salmonella. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continues its investigation of illnesses related to this recall, additional raw turkey products may be recalled.

The products subject to recall include:
• 4-pound boxes of Jennie-O Turkey Store® "All Natural Turkey Burgers with seasonings Lean White Meat". Each box contains 12 1/3-pound individually wrapped burgers.

A use by date of "DEC 23 2011" and an identifying lot code of "32710" through "32780" are inkjetted on the side panel of each box, just above the opening tear strip. Establishment number "P-7760" is located within the USDA mark of inspection on the front of each box. The products were packaged on Nov. 23, 2010 and were distributed to retail establishments nationwide.

When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on FSIS’ website at www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_Recalls/ Open_Federal_Cases/index.asp.

Sol Erdozain: Stick it in, Mr. Food

The Topeka (Kansas) news on CBS at 5am always seems to have some sort of problem with sound, weather maps, and performing lively. It has become my little morning ritual to have it on in the background while I work and see what else they can get wrong.

I can’t help myself. I have to watch, no matter how bad it gets.

With summer starting today, I can add bad food safety information to the list.

CBS had Mr. Food reciting a chili burger recipe that apparently included barfing.

He instructed viewers to cook the patty until “juices run clear” and then slap it on the bun, which is not the correct way to check if it’s safe to eat.

It exemplified why I was skeptical of experts cited in a Washington Post article, in which they agreed it was possible to learn how to cook from watching TV, yet didn’t even mention food safety. Putting together a recipe is not all there is to cooking, and with advice like that of Mr. Food’s you are learning how to make people sick.