You want to tell people what roast chicken looks like? Epicurious’ new Apple Watch app sucks at science

Color is a lousy indicator of food being cooked to a microbiologically safe temperature.

But Epicurious goes all food porn with an Apple Watch app that, sucks.

Use a tip sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

Below? Fail.


Why I don’t eat sushi: 25 sick with rare Salmonella in Calif

A rare strain of salmonella has been reported in Ventura County and appears connected to sushi and other raw fish, possibly tuna, public health officials said Monday.

sushiAbout 25 cases have been reported in California and other states. There have been four cases in Ventura County, seven in Los Angeles County and one in Santa Barbara County. Other cases have reported in Orange and Riverside counties.

Many of the seven out-of-state cases involve travel to Southern California.

And while the investigation of the exact cause continues, officials say all 10 people who completed a food questionnaire said they ate sushi. Many said they ate raw tuna.

About 20 percent of the patients hit by the illness have been hospitalized.

The species of salmonella is called paratyphi, Levin said. The particular strain being reported had never been seen in animals or people before last month.

Going public: 128 sick with E. coli in Ontario, possibly from leafy greens

On April 15, 2015, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced it was investigating an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, with a possible link to leafy greens.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145There had been 12 cases of E. coli with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in Alberta (9), Saskatchewan (1), Ontario (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). The illness onset dates range from March 13 to March 31, 2015.

Today, the Guelph Mercury reported that public health authorities are investigating almost three dozen probable cases of E. coli infections in the Royal City.

“Thirty-five people are presenting symptoms,” ministry spokesperson Andrew Morrison said.

These aren’t confirmed incidents of the potentially dangerous E. coli O157:H7 bacterium, which remains at five cases in Guelph, Morrison said.

He added Guelph public health authorities knew about the 35 probable cases previously, but hadn’t made that public until they realigned their definition of probable cases to match that of other health authorities in Ontario. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health did so yesterday (bureaucrat speak; the obfuscation is astounding).

That brings Ontario’s tally to 128 probable cases, of which 26 are confirmed. These include two confirmed cases out of three under investigation in Waterloo Region (at St. Mary’s high school in Kitchener). There are also five confirmed cases out of 29 probable cases in Halton Region and 14 confirmed cases out of 56 probable in Niagara Region.

Testing at the ministry’s laboratory in Toronto has found the four E. coli outbreaks have the same genetic fingerprints, suggesting a common source of contamination.

Late yesterday afternoon, public health in Guelph issued a release in which Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer said “we are investigating romaine lettuce as the possible source.” Public health advised washing lettuce, but warned that doesn’t always get rid of all contamination.

The five confirmed local cases are University of Guelph students recovering from the illness, at least one of whom was hospitalized.

At least four of these students ate at the Pita Pit in the University Centre food court. The university, which owns the franchise, has shut down the outlet while the E. coli investigation continues.

Hope there’s a good public health system: Ethiopians are risking Salmonella to eat raw meat delicacies

Instead of chocolate, Ethiopia marks Orthodox Easter Sunday weeks after the Gregorian calendar celebration, with mass animal slaughter and a meat binge of epic proportions. Goat hides piled up to a metre high line busy city corners while goat heads, ox horns, and entrails overflow from neighborhood bins.

raw.meat.ethiopiaRevelling in the meat fest is Beza Selemon. Tradition dictates that the 22-year-old accountant should be at home breaking a 56-day vegan fast with her family. Instead she’s in town eating raw minced meat out of her boyfriend Dawit’s hand—a sign of affection in Ethiopian culture.

Beza and Dawit are a new breed of Ethiopians; those from the booming capital Addis Ababa (affectionately known as “Addisynnians”) who are snubbing Easter at home with the family in favour of joining friends at restaurants to enjoy a variety of raw meat dishes.

The aromatic doro wat, a saucy chicken stew, is traditionally eaten to break the fast but the most prized delicacy in Ethiopia is raw meat. It’s fair to say that Ethiopians are flesh obsessed. Ox is the most common meat consumed raw but the more expensive goat is gaining momentum.

Despite official health warnings, Ethiopians still prefer to buy their animals live and slaughter them at home. It’s a sign of respect for visitors and a practice they believe keeps the meat fresh.

Beza and Dawit are celebrating the end of fasting season by eating a highly desirable delicacy called kitfo, a dish consisting of raw minced ox meat.

“When I eat raw meat in the morning, I can go the whole day without eating anything else,” says Dawit. “It has good nutritional value so it makes me feel strong.”

And her friends are not alone. Fast food such as burgers and fries are now voraciously consumed in Ethiopia especially by the younger generations in Addis.

Ethiopia might have been associated with famines over feasts in the past but the country is now the “lion of Africa” enjoying rapid economic growth. Despite this, per capita income remains some of the lowest in the world and nowhere is this contrast more apparent than in the sprawling capital of Addis Ababa, where sub-Saharan Africa’s first metro train network is nearing completion.

As the wealth of the urban population grows, so too does the appetite for raw meat. Some raw meat dishes can cost up to 240birr (£8) per kilo, a price that is out of reach for most Ethiopians. Even for those that can afford it, raw meat dishes are reserved for special occasions.

What is a novel food safety technology? University of Maine researcher gets $5 million to find out

A University of Maine researcher has received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop the novel approach of using non-thermal technologies to control microbial contamination of low-moisture foods.

cold.plasmaDr. Vivian Wu, a professor of food science at UMaine, will be working as lead researcher on a five-year project that will explore new technologies to better control microbial contamination of low-moisture foods, such as cereals, nuts and spices, without using heat.

“Heat is a very effective way to control microbial contamination, but there are food products that heat just doesn’t work that well,” Wu said, discussing such foods as produce and grains. “We want to develop nonthermal processing techniques to eliminate, to maintain the safety of produce and low-moisture food.”

According to Wu, USDA has been emphasizing produce safety for years, and low-moisture foods are becoming an increasing concern as it comes to food safety and bacterial contamination.

Methods Wu will be examining include the use of cold plasma (ionized atmospheric air), gaseous antimicrobial treatment and multicolored decontaminating lights to sanitize low-moisture foods.


About time: Ho Chi Minh to issue fine to food safety violations

Individuals or businesses that violated food safety and hygiene regulations will receive a fine up to VND 200 million (US$9,260) said a representative from the Department of Industry and Trade in Ho Chi Minh City at a meeting.

Ho Chi Minh City.foodThe rule was introduced at a meeting between the Department with these enterprises of the city’s market stability program, aiming at deterring people from unsafe foodstuffs.

A toilet entrance is not a place to vac-pack meat: UK butcher to pay £4,400 for food hygiene offences

A butcher who used a toilet entrance to vacuum-pack cooked meat has been been ordered to pay £4,400 after admitting a string of food safety offences.

vac.pac.meatKevin Blanchard, of Master Butcher in Trelawney Avenue, Langley, was sentenced at Slough Magistrates’ Court on April 2 after pleading guilty to seven offences.

They included failing to ensure that lavatories did not open directly into rooms in which food is handled, failing to put in place and implement permanent food safety procedures, and not keeping the premises clean.

Nah nah na nah nah: Shanghai to grant more anonymity for food safety tip-offs

Whistleblowers seeking more anonymity when giving food safety tip-offs will be eligible for rewards under new city regulations.

tattletale-kidUntil now, anyone providing a tip-off had to leave their name and contact details to receive a reward.

This initiative is part of efforts to ensure that at least 95 percent of food products in markets and restaurants meet quality standards during random inspections, officials said yesterday.

Last year, whistleblowers shared 746,000 yuan (US$120,500) in 1,396 rewards for providing food safety tip-offs in Shanghai.

This was an increase of nearly 90 percent on 2013, said Xue Mingyang, director of the education, science, cultural and health commission with the city’s legislative body.

Once confirmed, the whistleblower receives a reward of 5 percent of the case value, with a minimum sum of 500 yuan. But they must leave their name and contact details.

Now the city will amend regulations to require fewer personal details from whistleblowers, allowing them to retain more anonymity while still receiving rewards, Xue said.

CSI UV goggles? How to tell if an egg is bad

Friend of the barfblog and current Welsh tourist, Don Schaffner of Rutgers University, has a few things to say about egg safety, especially: most of those so-called tests are BS.

nsw.egg.label.oct.14According to SafeBee, there are lots of egg tests on the Internet. You’re supposed to place an egg in a bowl of cold water, for instance. If it floats, it’s old. If it sinks, it’s fresh. If it sinks but stands on its pointed end, it’s supposedly a caution: eat it now before it goes bad. 

The theory behind the float test? Egg shells are porous, and as time goes on the egg’s liquid evaporates through the porous shell and air enters. That makes the eggs more buoyant, so some say the older an egg, the more it floats. 

Forget this test, says Don Schaffner, PhD, a food scientist at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey. “Eggs do take in air as they age, but the size of the air cell in the egg varies from egg to egg. So a freshly laid egg and an older egg may react similarly.” There is too much variability in air cell size from egg to egg to make this a valid test, he says. 

Other Internet advice calls for cracking the egg open and inspecting the yolk and albumen (the white part). If it’s a fresh egg, the yolk should be bright yellow or orange, and the white should not spread much. 

Schaffner gives a thumbs-down to this test as well. “The color of the yolk is primarily determined by what they feed the chickens,” he says. “It may change over time, but it will vary from egg to egg.”

As for the white part: “An older egg will have a white that spreads more than a fresher egg,” he says. “But that has nothing to do with the fact that the egg is spoiled or not, it’s a chemical, physical change in the egg.” 

Another popular idea is to give your egg the sound test. In a quiet space, hold the egg up to your ear and shake it. If it sloshes, the egg has gone bad, the story goes. That sloshing is said to indicate a watery, old yolk.  

Shaffner says this sound test has no credibility. “Eggs do slosh around,” he says. Sloshing doesn’t indicate spoilage, however, he says. He does have another use for the sound test: “That would be a good way to see if the egg is hardboiled or not.”

powell.egg.nov.14The best test to see if an egg is OK to eat? Get the egg in question and have your nose ready. “As far as I know the only way to know an egg is bad is to crack it open and see if it smells.” Of course, you can always examine the egg as you smell, he says. “If it looks strange, I wouldn’t consume it, but odor is the real tip off.” 

Never mind that your refrigerator has a special spot for eggs built into the door. Keep them in the carton, Schaffner and others say. “We know the door is not as good,” he says.

Instead, put the eggs, still in the carton, in the coldest part of the refrigerator. On the door, the temperatures may fluctuate when the door is opened and closed. Keeping the eggs in the carton also means you can refer to the sell-by date. Eggs — even hard-boiled eggs — should not be left out at room temperature more than two hours, as dangerous bacteria can grow. 

“Salmonella is the organism we are most worried about,” Schaffner says. It could be inside the egg if it was infected before it was laid, or it could be on the shell.

Cook whole eggs to about 144 to 158 degrees F; egg whites, 144 to 149; yolks, 149 to 158. Cooking eggs sunny side up or over easy is more of a Salmonella risk than cooking them more thoroughly, Schaffner says.

Always the kids: UK nursery is told to clean up after dire food-hygiene rating

A nursery school for children aged between six weeks and five years old has been given a food-hygiene rating of one out of five.

Wolfson Nursery on Linton Road, North OxfordWolfson Nursery on Linton Road, North Oxford, was inspected by Oxford City Council’s environmental department last month.

It was informed that the low for food-hygiene rating meant that “major improvements” were necessary and unless these were completed, formal action would be taken.

The nursery was judged to have inadequate provision for washing utensils and equipment used for food, and was asked to install a double sink or preferably a dish washer.