Safest food in the world – chicken miracle edition

He couldn’t resist.

In response to a N.Y. Times column about meat that didn’t have much to do with safety, Mike Brown, president of the U.S. National Chicken Council writes, “A system that supports 25,000 rural farm families who chicken.thermraise chickens and produces the safest, most affordable and wholesome chicken on the planet isn’t a racket — it’s a miracle.”

Show consumers the data so we can decide who is the safest.

Shopping for safety, consumers left wondering at Coles

Talk less, do more.

That’s what I’m telling 5-year-old Sorenne as she explains for the eighth time she’s about to go get her shoes on, so we can walk to school.

And after 20 years of food safety stuff, it’s my go-to response to any corporate head of borat.chickenfood safety.

I understand that talking has a role, that meetings have a role, but only if they translate into tangible outcomes. With food safety, for me, that has always meant, will fewer people barf?

A month ago, Amy proclaimed, based on her acquired food safety knowledge, that she may have sickened Sorenne after a serving of frozen chicken thingies from Coles (that’s a supermarket chain in Australia).

The label did not indicate whether they were fully cooked and frozen, or frozen raw.

Raw, frozen not-ready-to-eat entrees purchased in retail and prepared in the home have been identified as a significant risk factor for salmonellosis. From 1998 to 2008, eight separate outbreaks have implicated undercooked chicken nuggets, chicken strips, and stuffed chicken entrees.

I guess someone other than my mother and Ben and Amy read what I write, because someone from Coles e-mailed me in response to the Jan. post to say: “Kansas State’s loss is Australia’s gain and it would be great to talk to you to 1) answer your query on nuggets (apologies it took so long, that’s not acceptable and we will put that right) and 2) to explore opportunities to get your unique insight into Australian retail and your experience’s so far.”

We talked.

He said him and Jackie Healing, who spoke today at the Global Food Safety Initiative shindig in California, would love to come and visit with me and go through a local Coles on a food safety tour.

Those chicken nuggets? Flash fried so the breading sticks, but not cooked to a microbiologically safe temperature. Nothing on the label, no cooking instructions for microbiological safety. How would a consumer know?

I never heard back.

That’s normal; lots of talk, little action. I’ll go hang out with my 5-year-old.

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products


British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820


Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, coles.chicken.breast.nuggets.jan_.14-225x300which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.

Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.

Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.


Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria icarly.chicken.cell.handsestablished by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

158 sick from Salmonella at Malaysian school

Two out of the seven pupils from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Dato Syed Ahmad, Kuala Nerang, who were treated at Hospital Kuala Nerang (HKN) for food poisoning yesterday were discharged Tuesday.

Kedah Health director Dr Ismail Abu Taat said the five other pupils were undergoing ayam masak merahtreatment and were reported to be in stable condition.

He said the food poisoning was caused by ‘ayam masak merah’ believed to be infected by a type of salmonella bacteria, because the chicken were not preserved properly.

Yesterday a total of 158 pupils at the school had diarrhea and vomiting, 117 pupils received out-patient treatment at the hospital before 110 pupils were allowed to return to the boarding school.

7 prisoners in Tenn. sick with Salmonella from Tyson chicken; compare response with Foster Farms

A link between mechanically separated chicken products from Tyson Foods and an illness cluster in a Tennessee correctional facility was established between seven case-patients at the facility, with two resulting in hospitalization.

Illness onset dates range from Nov. 29, 2013 to Dec. 5, 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service continues to work with the Tennessee FunkyChickenHiDepartment of Helath on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.    

Tyson Foods, Inc. a Sedalia, Mo., establishment, is recalling approximately 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with a Salmonella Heidelberg strain.

The mechanically separated chicken products were produced on Oct. 11, 2013. The following products are subject to recall:

40-lb. cases, containing four, 10-lb. chubs of “Tyson Mechanically Separated Chicken.”

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “P-13556” inside the USDA mark of inspection with case code 2843SDL1412 – 18. These products were shipped for institutional use only, nationwide. The product is not available for consumer purchase in retail stores.

416 sick from Salmonella: USDA closes Foster Farms plant over roach infestation

With 416 sick from Salmonella that has been going on for months, the feds finally decided to close a Foster Farms plant in California.

For cockroaches.

I told Beth Weise of USA Today, “It’s probably that USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) was getting bad PR so it needed a reason to shut them down. Cockroaches are never FunkyChickenHigood; but neither are 416 sick people.”

Finding roaches in a processing plant isn’t unexpected, said International Association for Food Protection president, Rutgers University food extension guru and beard aficionado Donald Schaffner, “The key question is how many other plants have this frequency of roach noncompliance and were not shut down?”

Federal inspectors on Wednesday suspended processing at a poultry plant in California found to have been infested with cockroaches four times over the last five months.

The on-going outbreak has sickened a total of 416 people in 23 states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

However according to the letter sent to Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster on Wednesday, USDA Food Safety Inspection Service staff documented four cases of live cockroach contamination in the plant, on Sept. 14, Nov. 4, Dec. 28 and finally on Jan. 7. The letter was first reported by Lynne Terry of The Oregonian newspaper.

“These recent findings of egregious insanitary conditions related to a cockroach infestation in your facility indicate that your establishment is not being operated and maintained in sanitary condition,” the letter said.

In a statement provided by spokeswoman Karmina Zafiro, Foster Farms said it was first notified of the infestations on Jan. 8 and “closed the Livingston facility immediately for sanitization and treatment.”

No other Foster Farms facilities were affected, according to the statement. “No products are affected. Product production has been transferred to the company’s other facilities.”

Seattle food safety lawyer Bill Marler found it odd that USDA “has the power to shut a plant down when they found cockroaches but doesn’t have the power to shut them down when they poison hundreds of people with antibiotic-resistant salmonella.”

Dutch food safety inspectors enforce meat and water regulations

A professor once told this nubile food science graduate student that it was all about adding water and salt to protein and charging more.

FunkyChickenHiHe was right.

The Dutch food safety authority NNWA has made ‘several enforcement visits’ to Dutch factories where meat is tumbled with water to increase its weight in recent months, the Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday.

The aim of the visits was to stop the practice of adding water to imported chicken destined for resale as raw meat, the paper said. The NVWA told the paper chicken produced in this way is illegal.

Glass Onion Catering products sold at Trader Joe’s (and elsewhere) recalled after link to E. coli O157 Illnesses

According to USDA FSIS, 26 people in three states suffering from E. coli O157 have  been linked together as a cluster of related illnesses. Investigators have identified pre-packaged salads containing grilled chicken produced by Glass Onion Catering as the likely source. Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 2.51.01 PM

According to a USDA FSIS press release, Glass Onion Catering is recalling 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products associated with outbreak. From the press release:

FSIS began monitoring a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on Oct. 29, 2013 then was notified by FDA on Nov. 6, 2013 that California authorities had reported case-patients consuming pre-packaged salads with grilled chicken. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services, FSIS has determined that there is a link between the grilled chicken salads and the illness cluster. Twenty-six case-patients have been identified in three states with indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 PFGE (genetic fingerprint) patterns with illness onset dates ranging from Sept 29, 2013 to Oct. 26, 2013. Based on epidemiological information, 15 case-patients reported consumption of ready-to-eat pre-packaged salads prior to illness onset. A traceback investigation determined Glass Onion Catering was the supplier of the products implicated in the outbreak.   

While uncommon to find E. coli O157:H7 in a poultry product, FSIS will continue its investigation in conjunction with the FDA to identify the source of the contamination. FSIS continues to work with the CDC, FDA and state public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

A list and pictures of the affected product labels, including many branded as Trader Joe’s private label is found here.

According to their website, Glass Onion Catering and Gourmet Foods, “is a rising force in the prepackaged, grab and go gourmet food industry. A trusted source for several top retail brands, Glass Onion was envisioned and created by Tom, a Northern California native.”

Nothing related to what they do to address food safety is listed on the site. Listing their systems would make them a more trusted source for me.

317 sick in Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak; just cook it still doesn’t cut it; skating, hockey, Thanksgiving turkey

Amy, Sorenne and I began eight weeks of skating lessons at the local arena Satuday (I suck after seven years of no ice, thank you Kansas), started cooking the Canadian Thanksgiving feast at 3 a.m Sunday, and have had hockey on in the background since 4 a.m.

I try to be super-extra careful when cooking a big bird because of the potential for cross-contamination, and the potential of sickening a bunch therm.turkey.oct.13of what-would-become former friends.

But in some cases, extra care is not enough.

As the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to Foster Farms hits 317 sick, Costco has ordered a recall of nearly 40,000 pounds of rotisserie chickens after one tested positive for Salmonella on Friday.

That’s a cooked chicken. To paraphrase Bill Marler, if Costco can’t cook the poop out of a bird, why are consumers expected to?

Still, company types, many government types and other types, insist all will be well if the chicken is just cooked properly.

This is a terrible message, and not scientifically accurate.

Chapman at least got a few correct points in when he told Live Science cross-contamination can happen at any point in the cooking and handling process, starting at the grocery store, don’t wash the bird, and use a damn thermometer.

(I gave one to an IT friend here for the Thanksgiving food orgy.)

After threatening Monday to close three Foster Farms processing plants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed on Thursday to allow the plants to continue operating with advanced, super-secret safety procedures.

Neither the company nor USDA will say what these procedures are. Doesn’t build confidence.

Which would be an additional reason the list of retailers recalling Fosters products is growing.

Lynne Terry of the Oregonian writes that Costco’s El Camino Real store in San Francisco, Calif., is pulling and products over Salmonella contamination. The recall includes nearly 8,800 Kirkland Signature Foster Farms rotisserie chickens and more than 310 units of Kirkland Farm rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters and rotisserie chicken salad.

The products were sold to Costco customers at the El Camino Real store between Sept. 11 and Sept. 23, the notice said. The chickens were processed at three Foster Farms plants in central California.

Fred Meyer and QFC stores have withdrawn chicken from the same plants. They were sold under the brand names of Simple Truth Organic and Kroger Value. The voluntary withdrawal also includes deli chicken and rotisserie chickens.

Melinda Merrill, Fred Meyer spokeswoman, said the stores are still selling the Foster Farms labeled poultry that came from a plant that’s not been implicated in the outbreak.

This outbreak differs in that the variety of salmonella is especially virulent.

There are seven strains of salmonella Heidelberg involved in the outbreak. Several of them are antibiotic-resistant and “one of the strains that we’ve tested is resistant to seven antibiotics,” said Christopher Braden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention division of foodborne diseases.

Of the people infected, 42% have been hospitalized — an unusually high percentage, according to the CDC.

“That’s about twice what we would normally see for a salmonella outbreak,” Braden said. “We think that’s at least in part due to the fact that a number of these strains have resistance to one or more antibiotics.”

Thirteen percent of those sickened have salmonella septicemia, a serious, life-threatening, whole-body inflammation, Braden said. Normal for salmonella would be “just a few percent,” he said.

In a statement, Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster said “we have worked relentlessly to address these issues and will continue to do so as we work to regain consumer trust and confidence in the Foster Farms brand.”

Those comments do not bolster consumer confidence.

If you’ve got a good food safety system, brag about it. Because some companies are better.


Second major outbreak this year; Foster Farms chicken sickens nearly 300 with Salmonella

Foster Farms raw chicken products made at three California sites may have sickened nearly 300 people in 18 states, according to a public health alert issued Monday by U.S. Department of Agriculture officials.

JoNel Aleccia of NBC News and Lynne Terry of The Oregonian report that at least 278 illnesses caused by salmonella Heidelberg linked to the chicken brand have been reported, mostly in California, according to the USDA’s Food Foster-Farms-Chicken-BreastSafety and Inspection Service. The products were distributed mainly to outlets in California, Oregon and Washington state. 

The notice follows an outbreak earlier this year traced to Foster Farms raw chicken in which 134 people in 13 states became ill, but it appears to be a separate, new incident, said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That outbreak, which was declared over in July, sickened 40 people in Oregon and 57 in Washington state and sent 33 patients to the hospital.

Neither agency could provide many details about the latest outbreak because of limited staffing caused by a week-long government shutdown.

Illnesses were linked to the Foster Farm brand through epidemiologic, laboratory and trace-back methods, FSIS said. But health officials were unable to tie the illnesses to a specific product or a specific production period. They said that the products bear one of three establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package. The numbers are: P6137, P6137A and P7632.

The USDA allows producers to sell raw poultry with a nearly 10 percent incidence rate of salmonella. Foster Farms says it’s always met that standard. It is not issuing a recall.

Foster Farms officials said in a statement that the company has been collaborating with FSIS and CDC to eradicate salmonella Heidelberg at its sites and has retained national experts to “assess current practices and identify opportunities for further improvement.”

Follow the bug, collect the evidence: washing poultry not worth it

The food safety family’s curmudgeonly uncle, Pete Snyder (who really isn’t) would be happy that the don’t-wash-poultry crowd is gaining some traction.

Medical Daily writes that everyone should stop rinsing raw chicken under the faucet. Rather than reducing foodborne bacteria, rinsing poultry spreads pathogens to other surfaces in your kitchen via Dan Aykroyd Plays Julia Childwater splatter, exacerbating contamination rather than preventing it. Now, a new campaign urges the public to drop the habit, as it increases the risk of serious foodborne illnesses like those caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria. 

“There’s no reason, from a scientific point of view, to think you’re making it any safer, and in fact, you’re making it less safe,” said researcher Jennifer Quinlan, speaking to NPR. Quinlan is a food safety researcher at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and a spokesperson for “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” –– a university-backed public health campaign educating informing home cooks with video simulations and “photonovellas.”

“You should assume that if you have chicken, you have either Salmonella or Campylobacter bacteria on it, if not both,” said Quinlan. “If you wash it, you’re more likely to spray bacteria all over the kitchen and yourself.”

Concomitant focus-group studies funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicate that 90 per cent of the population washes their poultry before cooking it. After all, washing usually makes things both cleaner and safer. 

If you, like the majority of Americans, have been washing your chicken until now, campaign officials urge you to peruse the new reports, as well as the educational photonovellas. 

In addition, their “Germ-Vision” animation helps visualize the disconcerting spread of pathogens in your kitchen.