Food Safety Talk 107: Univalve Mallets

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.1472063437005

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.

Episode 107 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show note links to follow along at home:

Brits want Campy reduced in chickens; testing to be resumed

The UK Food Standards Agency reports that two thirds (66%) of consumers think the industry should continue to reduce campylobacter beyond the agreed current target of less than 10% of chickens at the most highly contaminated level. Retailers should also be telling customers what proportion of chickens are at this highest level of contamination, according to 75% of those questioned.

chickenThe research has been released to coincide with the resumption this month of our campylobacter survey, part of our on-going efforts to reduce the high levels of food poisoning caused by the bug. Testing was suspended in April so we could update the way the survey was carried out to ensure results continued to be robust.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said, “Publishing surveillance data on campylobacter has prompted action from retailers and processors and we are now seeing progress. Our campaign has also raised awareness of campylobacter amongst the public and it is good to see from our research that it is customers, and not just the FSA, demanding action and information from retailers. We have always said that consumer power will ultimately push industry action.

“Many retailers and processors should be commended for the action they have taken so far.  The majority signed up to the pledge to ensure that campylobacter in chicken ceases to be a significant public health issue, and continued action will be needed to deliver this.”

The FSA’s research shows that 76% of people questioned want retailers to be more proactive in telling them what actions they are taking to reduce the campylobacter levels on the raw chicken they sell. More than half of people (53%) said that they would start buying chicken from another retailer if their usual shop was found to sell more than the industry average ‘high risk’ chicken.

Now it’s Salmonella in Israeli chickens

Following the salmonella scare in cornflakes and techina, according to a Channel 2 news expose, chickens with salmonella grown in Israel are not exported to Europe but are sold locally.

chickenThe Of Hagalil Company which sells chicken in Israel stated that the chicken sold in Israel does not exceed the allowed limit of Salmonella.  The Ministry of Health has forbidden the Prince Company from producing techina after finding high levels of salmonella in their product.

Go with data or go home: It’s still a f*cking pink chicken

Steve Sayer of MeatingPlace, the home of all things meat, has much praise for Food Safety Scotland’s pink chicken advice, which is apparently grounded to “ensure that public information and advice on food safety, standards, and pink.chicken.fss.jun.16nutrition are accurate while being consumer-focused. It’s obvious that the FSS plucked the pink chicken mascot to warn Scottish consumers about the possibility of getting sick by consuming seemingly under-grilled/cooked chicken that’s still pink internally.

“However, the only exception was the insistence that the internal color of properly grilled chicken should never be pink.

“The USDA has long stated that reaching the internal temperature of 165 degrees F., (by measuring at the thickest part of the chicken) will kill pathogens and is safe to consume. The USDA has also claimed that the internal coloring is not always an accurate indicator whether chicken is properly cooked or grilled, which includes, you guessed it, the color pink.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think the Scot’s pink message bird is rather clever and its intent admirable, as it could very well lessen the amount of people undercooking their summer grilled chicken. But the fact remains it’s not completely accurate.”

It’s a f*ucking pink chicken and it’s wrong.

So how can anything else this science-based organization say be accepted as accurate?

Go with the data or go home.

Waste of money.

21 sickened: Salmonella outbreak at New York jail

Undercooked chicken served at the Suffolk jail in Riverhead led to a salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 21 inmates in May, health officials said.

One inmate who was hospitalized has filed a notice of claim with the county, a prelude to a lawsuit.

“Suffolk County comes with an affirmative obligation to supply its criminals in prison all food that’s free of any unhealthy or dangerous substance,” stated Andrew Siben a Bay Shore attorney representing the inmate, Shawn Carpenter.

Why color sucks: Eating pink chicken

Joe Sevier of Epicurious had unknowingly done me a favor, telling his food porn audience it’s OK to eat pink chicken, if it is temped for safety.

Suck on that Food Standards Scotland.

scotland.pinkchicken-fss_largeWe’ve been trained as a society to treat pink poultry like anathema. Some cooks even go so far as to overcook chicken on purpose. But what if I told you some pink poultry is safe to eat? Would you believe me?

Amazingly, it’s true. When I spoke to Dr. Greg Blonder, a physicist and co-author of Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, he explained why some pinkness will never fade. And if no amount of checking the chicken’s temperature will assuage your squeamishness, he offered some tips to avoiding pink poultry before you even bring it home from the store.

What causes cooked meat to turn pink?

“The majority of chickens sold in stores today are between six to eight weeks old,” says Blonder. Young chickens have hollow bones that are thinner and more porous than their older brethren. When cooked, “the purple marrow—so colored due to the presence of myoglobin, a protein responsible for storing oxygen—leaks into the meat.” This reaction, in effect, stains the bone; the color of the meat adjacent to it will not fade regardless of the temperature to which it’s cooked.

What about pink flesh nearer the surface? Certain cooking techniques—especially ones that use lower cooking temperatures, such as smoking—exacerbate the pink meat reaction. That pink smoke ring that’s a telltale sign of good barbecue? Myoglobin again. In fact, you don’t even need smoke to achieve that smoke ring.

barfblog.Stick It InWhy is my chicken bloody in the first place?

Actually, it’s not. Blonder notes, “all commercially-sold chickens are drained of their blood during processing.” The pink, watery liquid you’re seeing is just that: water. The moisture that seeps from the chicken while it’s waiting for you to buy it mixes with that old rascal myoglobin, causing the pink “juices” that you see pooling around the packaged bird—it’s called myowater, FYI.

That same substance is what gushes forth when you cut into a cooking chicken to see if the juices run clear. Unfortunately, that’s a long-held measure of doneness that can’t be trusted. The only way to know if your bird is cooked through: a good quality thermometer. (Here’s the Epi favorite.) To check the temperature, stick the probe into the meatiest part of the bird—checking both the breast and thigh is a good idea. You’re looking for a finished temperature of 160ºF to 165ºF. Accounting for carry-over cooking and the size of whatever it is you’re cooking, that could mean pulling the chicken off the heat anywhere from 150ºF to 155ºF.

Whatever, pink meat still freaks me out

There are a couple of things you can do to avoid pink meat altogether.

First, debone the meat before it’s cooked. Without a myoglobin-y bone around to stain it, your chicken breast will be as pristinely white as possible.

Second, change the pH. A lot of factors are at play here, notes Blonder, and even the way an animal is slaughtered can significantly change the pH level (i.e. acidity) of its meat. Higher pH—i.e. lower acidity—means higher myoglobin and higher myoglobin means pink had better be your new obsession. If you’re not Steven Tyler, opt instead to marinate your meat in a marinade with a lot of citrus or vinegar. Introducing the meat to a high-acid environment will lower the pH and reduce the risk of that anxiety-inducing rosy hue.

Scotland, your overpaid food safety communications types got some explaining to do. If you can’t even get cooking chicken right, how can anyone believe your so-called science-based approach to food safety issues?

And every generation will have its Aerosmith. They aren’t the Stones or Floyd.

Stop playing with Just Bare chicken: In-house tampering behind need to recall 27 tons

In-house tampering is being blamed for GNP Co. of central Minnesota recalling more than 27 tons of chicken over the weekend after contaminants were detected in some of the product that was distributed primarily to food service and institutional outlets.

Just-Bare-Chicken-1The recall involving the Gold’n Plump and Just Bare brands by the Upper Midwest’s leading chicken manufacturer follows the company disclosing the discovery of sand and black soil in the chicken. GNP is the parent of the popular Gold’n Plump brand.

“Our own inspections turned it up,” said Lexann Reischl, a GNP spokeswoman, “and two food service customers called and told us they found the same material.”

In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, the company said, “Extraneous foreign matter … is linked to an isolated product tampering incident that occurred at the company’s Cold Spring processing plant the week of June 6.”

An employee, who has since been fired, is believed to be behind the contamination, Reischl said.

Cold Spring Police Sgt. Jason Blum said Sunday “there is a known suspect” being investigated, but an arrest has not been made.

Temperature matters: 157kg of chicken and 61kg of meat to be disposed of in UAE

A total of 157kg of fresh chicken, that was being transported at an unsafe temperatures, will be disposed of immediately by order of the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s food sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA).Chicken-Tikka_635549434140673686

An additional 61kg of mutton stored under unsafe conditions has also been confiscated and will be disposed of by the ADFCA, it announced in a statement sent on Monday.

The contaminated and spoilt food was found during random checks on fresh meat stores in the capital. Inspectors looked at the state of storage equipment, product quality, the condition of vehicles used for transportation and the adherence to food safety procedures during their visits.

Four vehicles used to transport the spoilt chicken were issued warnings for not maintaining the right temperature, and the two freezers that contained both fresh meat and spoilt samples were also isolated.

UK mum vomits after carving up fluorescent green Aldi roast

Mum Louise Snell was merrily carving and picking at the roasted bird in readiness for dinner time.

green.chicken.barf.mar.16But she went sprinting to puke in the sink after unearthing fluorescent green insides more suited to Homer Simpson’s power plant.

Despite the chicken stinking of chemicals – and making Mrs Snell feel sick – Aldi gave her a gift voucher for just five quid.

“I started carving it but when I got to the middle, it was fluorescent green,” said Mrs Snell, 46.

“It ended up with me vomiting over the sink because I’d already eaten little bits off the outside as I was carving it.

“The green bits smelt of chemicals too. I’m disgusted to say the least.”

Everyone’s got a camera: California uni receives A rating after alleged raw chicken is served

The Cal State Fullerton Gastronome maintained an “A” food safety rating following an inspection conducted after reports of undercooked chicken.

According to the CSUF Food Facility Inspection Reports, conducted by the Department of Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety, Inspector Justine Baldacci carried out the Feb. 24 inspection three days after students lodged complaints.

Baldacci also performed the Gastronome’s last inspection on July 28, 2015. The dining facility received a score of 95. The department scheduled a reinspection date for Nov. 20, 2015. However, no inspection report for November was filed on the CSUF Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety website.

The most recent inspection report states that Baldacci inspected the facility following a report of allegedly undercooked chicken served to a customer.

cooked.chickenThe inspection found that “the processes, procedures and record keeping for batch cooking were reviewed with management and found to be adequate.”

The incident that caused the complaint took place Sunday, Feb. 21, when students said the chicken they were served for dinner was undercooked.

Elana Stein, 18, posted a picture of the chicken she said was undercooked on the Gastronome’s Facebook page and sent a complaint with the pictures of the alleged raw chicken to Rhonda Robinson, manager of the Gastronome.

Color is a lousy indicator of safety. Use a thermometer and stick it in.

barfblog.Stick It In