Substandard oil: China government rejects Ting Hsin’s NT$3B donation for food safety

The government will not accept a NT$3 billion donation offered by Ting Hsin International Group to promote food safety, Health Minister Chiang Been-huang said Saturday.

ting.hsinChiang said the conglomerate should first compensate food makers and consumers affected by its substandard oil products.

Ting Hsin has become the target of consumer boycotts since last October, when it was found to be selling cooking oils mixed with animal feed-grade fats.

At the suggestion of Ruentex Group Chairman Samuel Yin, Ting Hsin pledged to donate NT$3 billion to fund a food safety reform committee, intended to be led by Yin himself.

Yin later proposed that Ting Hsin donate the money to the Ministry of Health and Welfare instead to help the government’s efforts to improve food safety.

Hawaii department of health fines $8,000 for food safety violations

The state Department of Health has cited a Waimalu restaurant for intentionally removing the posted yellow “Conditional Pass” placard from its facility, and for food safety violations. 3W Restaurant Group LLC., which does business as Ichiben, was slapped with an $8,000 fine. restaurant, which is located on Kaahumanu Street in Waimalu, may request a hearing to contest the notice. Peter Oshiro, the Department of Health’s Environmental Health program manager, says this is only the second incident involving intentional removal of a placard, with more than 2-thousand inspections completed.


Coldplay is worst thing to happen to music, and Gwyneth is worst thing to happen to food; maybe that’s why they hooked up

There was this one time, that saint Gwyneth made everyone throw up, and shockingly, it wasn’t from the overwhelming nauseous feeling they got from hearing Gwyneth Paltrow talk about how perfect Gwyneth Paltrow is all evening.

"Mortdecai" Los Angeles premiere***NO DAILY MAIL SALES***It was from food!

That’s right, famous cookbook author Gwyneth Paltrow admitted on The Rachael Ray Show (via Glamour) Friday morning that she once made a meal that made everyone fill the 17th century gilded French porcelain toilets in her home with hot barf. Now, I’ve read both of Goopy’s cookbooks, and I’d say that roughly 79% of what I saw gave me the heaves (so many vegetables and not ONE recipe for Frito Pie). But according to Goopy, it wasn’t because she was serving her guests some kind of disgusting pickled heirloom kholrabi over mashed sunchoke bullshit; it was because she screwed up the recipe for eggplant parmesan.What do you think?

“I went to the store and bought some eggplant, a jar of tomato sauce, and some really rubbery mozzarella cheese. I didn’t know that when you cook eggplant, you first have to sweat it to get all the bitter juice out, and I didn’t realize that you also have to bread eggplant parmesan and fry it before. So I put slices of raw eggplant with jarred tomato sauce and mozzarella. And everyone threw up.”

What do you think?


Jail and fines as UAE gets serious against food safety (and religious) offenders

A tough new draft law will ramp up penalties for those found to be endangering food safety across the UAE, according to legislation to be debated by the Federal National Council in the next session on February 3.

uae.foodThe bill suggests a jail term of up to three years and a Dh2 million fine for those found endangering food safety.

The legislation, passed by the Cabinet in March last year, sets out key requirements to establish a system of effective regulatory and oversight services to ensure the protection of public health and consumers.

Under the draft law, no food may be imported into the country for the first time without approval of the Ministry of Environment and Water.

The draft law provides for a prison term of not less than a month and a fine of up to Dh500,000 for those who deal in food or products that contain pork or alcohol or any of their by-products without permission.

Misleading consumers by publishing a false description of food or using incorrect labels will attract a fine ranging from between Dh10,000 and Dh100,000, according to the draft law, which will need to be passed by the House and get a final endorsement by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan before it becomes law.

Red-green disclosure for Simcoe county (that’s in Canada)

Barrie, I miss you.

The Canadian town, north of Toronto, was home to my aunt and uncle, who I enjoyed hanging out with (they let me sleep with whoever my girlfriend was)., the general public is getting a little more insight into the cleanliness of Simcoe-Muskoka’s 3,900 food establishments.

At the beginning of the month, green placards began popping up in the windows of restaurants, convenience stores and other places where food is served, sold or prepared as part of the Inspection Connection initiative launched late in 2014 by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

With roughly 20 food inspectors responsible for looking into the 3,900 establishments, which include 1,100 restaurants, it will take a bit of time to get the new signs up throughout the region, said Steven Rebellato, director of health protection services for the health unit, but he is hopeful the distribution will be complete in the next month or so.

Inspection of food establishments is nothing new for the health unit, but promoting the results both through a pass or fail placard and an all-encompassing website ( is.

“Visibility is the change,” Rebellato said. “Most health units have this type of program in place.”

Visitors to food establishments in the City of Toronto or York Region will be familiar with the placards. Toronto’s, which features a green (pass), yellow (conditional pass) or red (closure) card, is one of the oldest in the province, spanning some 13 years.

Simcoe-Muskoka’s program only features a pass or close option.

“There are only two signs, which is consistent with our approach since we started,” Rebellato said.

The decision to only have the two signs came from consultation with the operators of the establishments as well.

“If you put a yellow in my door, you might as well put a red, because (patrons) don’t know what that means,” Rebellato said, using an anecdote from a restaurateur on King Street West in Toronto, where there are dozens of restaurants in direct competition.

“We didn’t want to confuse the public.”

Worst words a bureaucrat can say.

Food tester: Lebanon tests smelly food sent to Syrian refugees

Health Ministry inspectors confiscated Saturday large quantities of food distributed to Syrian refugees in south Lebanon after receiving complaints that they were emitting foul odors.

Become-a-Taste-Tester-Step-5The food packages, which were donated to Syrian refugees through the Rahma and Ouzai charity centers in Sidon, were confiscated for testing, while Abu Faour referred the case to the judiciary.

Separately, the minister sent the ministers of finance, economy and public works a letter to demand the confiscation of large amounts of sugar stored in Tripoli’s port.

The request was based on skepticism that the sugar met safety standards.

Live free or die: Wyoming edition (just don’t give it to your kids)

Parenting and food prep: no one needs any training (until someone gets sick and they want ObamaCare).

yoming.freedomA proposal to take homemade or homegrown food “off the black market” passed a legislative committee vote Thursday.

The House Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee voted 8-1 to advance House Bill 56, also known as the Wyoming Food Freedom Act.

The legislation would exempt Wyoming food sales from government oversight — including inspections, licensing and certification — as long as they are single transactions between a producer and an “informed end consumer.”

Sales at farmers markets and sales of homegrown or locally raised products fall under the purview of the bill.

Rep. John Eklund, R-Cheyenne, said people should have the right to select what they want to buy and eat.

“I think eating good, wholesome food is a right people should have, and they should go and purchase what they want,” he said. “I think I’ve eaten out of everybody’s garden and off every table in eastern Laramie County, and I’ve never had food poisoning or any other problems.”

Food safety fairytales.

Fake fish from plants; sous vide safety concerns?

Alastair Bland, a freelance writer based in San Francisco who covers food, agriculture and the environment, writes for NPR that San Francisco chef James Corwell wants to “create a great sushi experience without the tuna.”

tomato.sushiTo make this Tomato Sushi, he skins and removes the seeds from fresh Roma tomatoes. Then he vacuum seals them in sturdy plastic bags and cooks them in hot water for about an hour — a technique called sous-vide.

The process firms up the tomatoes and creates a texture similar to tuna. Corwell throws in a few more ingredients (he won’t divulge what they are), and slices them up. When eaten with sushi rice, nori, ginger, soy sauce and wasabi, they’re delicious.

Corwell is not the only entrepreneur experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. (His product is so far available at one retail market in San Francisco and via mail order.) But with issues like overfishing, bycatch and high mercury levels gaining traction with consumers, it may only be a matter of time before demand kickstarts a faux-fish movement on the heels of the plant-based protein revolution already underway.

Corwell of Tomato Sushi was first convinced of the need to shift away from eating the bigger tuna species after visiting Tokyo’s celebrated Tsukiji fish market in 2007. He was stunned by the hundreds of frozen bluefin carcasses sprawled across the warehouse floor.

“The way I learned to cook with big slabs of meat [and fish] isn’t going to be possible in the future, and that’s nothing to be scared of,” Corwell says.

Tuna isn’t his only focus. Corwell has created an eggplant-based rendition of unagi and a granular seasoning blend meant to taste like dried, salted bonito flakes. Through the use of fermented ingredients and yeast, caramelization and lots of stovetop test runs, Corwell says he hopes to develop many more vegan sushi products.

“[Tomato Sushi] is the just the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

Hawaii restaurant cited for removing yellow placard

The Hawaii State Department of Health has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against 3 W Restaurant Group LLC d.b.a. Ichiben for $8,000 for intentionally removing the posted yellow “CONDITIONAL PASS” placard from its facility and for food safety violations cited during the health inspection resulting in the issuance of the yellow placard.“With more than 2,000 inspections completed since the start of the new placarding system, we’ve seen excellent compliance with the food industry; this is only the second incident involving intentional removal of a placard,” said Peter Oshiro, Environmental Health program manager.  “The program is a huge success and after completing the most challenging inspections involving eating places in the higher-risk category, we are well on track to complete the inspections for all licensed food establishments this year.”

A food establishment may face fines of $2,000 per day for removing an inspection placard posted by DOH and $1,000 per day for each critical violation that led to the facility receiving a yellow placard. Placard removal is a serious violation because this act intentionally places profit above health and safety and compromises the public’s trust and their right to know when violations occur during an inspection.

Sprouts still suck; another outbreak sickens at least 115 with Salmonella

The prison warden told Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke in the 1967 film that “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”

coolhandlukeIt’s based on an authoritarian model and is the oldest excuse out there; all kinds of problems could be solved if everyone just communicated better, especially scientists and others.

The anti-authoritarian heros of great American movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Blues Brothers and Stripes all found different ways to communicate, in unconventional ways.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports a total of 115 persons infected with the outbreak strains were reported from 12 states. The number of ill people identified in each state was as follows: Connecticut (8), Maine (4), Maryland (6), Massachusetts (36), Montana (1), New Hampshire (6), New York (22), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (18), Rhode Island (7), Vermont (3), and Virginia (1). The one ill person from Montana traveled to the Eastern United States during the period when exposure likely occurred. Since the last update on December 16, 2014, four additional cases were reported from Maryland (1), Massachusetts (1), New York (1), and Pennsylvania (1).

Illness onset dates ranged from September 30, 2014, to December 15, 2014. Ill persons ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 83 years, with a median age of 32 years. Sixty-four percent of ill persons were female. Among 75 persons with available information, 19 (25%) were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

This outbreak appears to be over. However, sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. CDC recommends that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from eating sprouts.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022


Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks.

amy.sprouts.guelph.05Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.