Encouraging thermometer use, one person at a time

doug.sorenne.hockey.apr.14Australia shuts down for Easter.

It’s the end of two weeks of school holidays, the weather in Brisbane is ideal, so everyone is at the beach.

We went to the arena.

We did go to the beach Friday, but Saturday was two different outings and sausage sizzles.

First it was leisure in a park down by the Brisbane River. Brisbane has numerous, fabulous parks outfitted with lots of electric grills, and open spaces for kids and adults alike. I had forgotten my thermometer but my brofriend remembered to bring the one I had given him.

thermometer.chicken.apr.14The grills aren’t the most efficient, so people were waiting for us to hurry up and get on with things. A couple saw us temping sausages with the tip-sensitive digital thermometer and proclaimed, what a great idea. They were preparing ginger-soy chicken, so I said, use the thermometer. We’ll get it back later. They were hooked.

Then it was a hockey tournament at a neighboring arena where Sorenne made her game debut, and I returned to coaching for the first time in nine years.

They also had a sausage sizzle as a fundraiser. I was too busy with the kids to ask about thermometers, but it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.

Beach, hockey, thermometers – what’s not to like?


Parents baffled by doll that literally poops rainbows

As a father of five daughters, I’ve always tried to introduce some activity into their routine to balance all the girly stuff.

Sure Sorenne wears a pink sweater, but she plays hockey.

sorenne.hockeyShe’s also really into human anatomy videos on youtube, so maybe the Moxie Girls are for her.

TM, the brand that owns Bratz and Bratzillas, tells girls what it means to have moxie and the tagline “Be True, Be You.”

The Moxie Girls’ pet unicorns actually poop. But not just any poop, rainbow poop.

One commentator said “I suppose a doll with a pooping pet has some sort of educational value (might encourage potty training), but really, I think they could have done more. After all, it’s a UNICORN. Pooping rainbows is one thing, but if it doesn’t also fart moonbeams and sunshine, then really, it’s only half a unicorn.”


Hockey, cones and food safety

Hockey starts this weekend in Brisbane (that’s ice hockey) and I’ll be coaching and playing a little, and even brought my ice cones over from North America during my last trip (they’re called witch hats here; I can’t make this stuff up).

Apparently I have to sterilize them.

Contractors were forced to spray contaminated road cones in Mairehau, New Zealand, with disinfectant to prevent staff from getting sick.

Toilet paper and other sewage was still flowing out of a drain in the road yesterday morning. 

Jim Young, of Transfield Services, said some of the cones had been floating in the flood waters. They would be hosed down with a water-blaster once he had finished spraying them.

“We don’t want our guys to get sick from touching them before they eat lunch or anything pylon_display_imagelike that,” he said.

Smith said he saw footage on television of children playing in contaminated water, during the floods, which was “not ideal”.

In Missouri, about 40 people, including nearly half the roster of a minor league hockey team, got ill at a charity event Monday night, and health officials say a nasty stomach virus is the likely culprit.

The family bowl night at Harvest Lanes was a benefit for Autism Speaks. Members of the St. Charles Chill hockey team were on hand to sign autographs, and about 36 hours later, many of the players and front-office workers developed symptoms.

Doug Bolnick, a spokesman for the St. Charles County Health Department, said officials suspect the illness is the work of the norovirus.

Prevention and training are boring – and essential

I learned how to use an epi pen.

braun.sorenne.skate_.sept_.13-225x300And that all of my CPR training was about 30 years out of date.

As part of my subtle but ultimate quest to get more girls playing hockey (that’s ice hockey, not running or in-line hockey, they’re different) I participated in an 8-hour sports medic course on Saturday (far more training than most cities require staff to serve food that can kill).

When the instructor, who’s the medic for girls rugby league teams, got to the part about, if you’re there and have the knowledge, you have the responsibility to help, I glanced again at the leftover deli-based sandwiches that had been provided for lunch and noted they’d been out at least an hour after we had eaten.

I saw a refrigerator, so just got up and went to move the leftovers – that many were planning to take home.

But that fridge wasn’t cold.

I spoke up and said, if anyone wants to take those sandwiches home to their families, they need to be refrigerated; is there a refrigerator that works?

I briefly explained why, and how I had knowledge, so had a responsibility to act.

One of the hockey club dudes took the sandwiches and placed them in a working braunwynn.hockeyrefrigerator.

But the class of 10 was whispering, what an a-hole.

That’s the boringness of how tragedies are avoided.

Skating, seafood and the Queen’s swan found barbecued on riverbank

My mother and 20-year-old daughter Braunwynn began their trek back to Canada this morning. Braunwynn says she doesn’t know how she’ll ever eat seafood again in Ontario after the Brisbane indulgence.

We went skating, because Braunwynn had to teach Sorenne that princesses can wear hockey skates (it was B’s idea) and B kicked all the boys in the skating races and won. braun.sorenne.skate.sept.13The Aussies had never seen quite a thing.

We also ate kangaroo burgers. I temped them to 165F.

One country’s cultural norm is another’s ick factor.

But it’s sorta creepy that British police are investigating the killing and apparent barbecuing of one of Queen Elizabeth’s swans.

The bird was butchered, burnt and stripped of its flesh before the carcass was dumped on a riverbank near Windsor Castle, west of London, police and an animal charity said on Wednesday.

“It was done neatly, presumably to get at the meat.” 

All wild mute swans in Britain are considered the property of the crown and it is an offence to kill one.

Who wants a hockey puck for a roast?

I spent the last two hours doing my annual talk and chat session with summer public health students, invoking in them the capacity to care; public health doug.hockey.goalieain’t glamorous, but it matters.

Contrary to what Kansas State University admin types may think, the stagecoaches manage to run through Brisbane at 1 a.m.

Somehow I also managed to comment on needle tenderized beef, while not physically in Manhattan (the Kansas version) even though I’ve been there the majority of the last four months.

And I made a hockey analogy.

I even had a guy visit me at the house yesterday to talk food safety, and he asked me to show him a hockey puck.

I did.

Elizabeth Weise writes in USA Today today that after years of food-safety concerns and at least five outbreaks of illness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing that mechanically tenderized meat — 26% of all the beef sold in the USA — be labeled as such and that labels include cooking instructions.

Tenderizing meat mechanically involves forcing hundreds of tiny blades or needles through it to break up muscle fibers and make it more tender.

Unfortunately, it can also drive pathogens that might be on the surface, such as E. coli O157:H7, deep into the cut’s interior, where cooking may not kill them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have braun.hockeybeen five E. coli outbreaks attributed to mechanically tenderized beef, sickening 174 people. Four died.

It’s impossible to tell just by looking that a cut of meat has undergone mechanical tenderization, said USDA Undersecretary Elisabeth Hagen.

“When people buy cube steak, you see the marks where the machinery has cubed up the steak,” Hagen said. “When people buy ground beef, they know they’re getting ground product. But when people order this product, they don’t know. And certainly, when people are ordering in a restaurant, they don’t know they’re ordering this product.”

She added, “A lot of people want a medium-rare steak. But if folks knew that the steak they’re buying might not be what they think it is, and might be in a higher risk category,” they might want it well done.

Some stores do label the product. Costco labels mechanically tenderized beef it sells as “blade tenderized.”

Until now, the USDA hadn’t required producers to label mechanically tenderized meat so consumers know what they’re buying. The new rules, to be announced Thursday, would require that mechanically tenderized products be labeled. The labels would include cooking instructions.

Hagen said mechanically tenderized meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees, then allowed to sit for at least three life.hockeyminutes after it is taken off the heat to insure any potential pathogens are killed.

Canada has rules in the works to require labeling of mechanically tenderized meat. Last October, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to meat processor XL Foods sickened 18 people and led to the country’s largest beef recall, almost 2.5 million pounds of meat. Some of it was mechanically tenderized.

Some food-safety specialists aren’t sure labeling would make much difference.

“We can’t get people to use thermometers on steaks. Why would they do it for needle-tenderized meat?” said Doug Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

Cooking blade-tenderized meat to 145 degrees, the temperature required to kill E. coli, would “turn it into a hockey puck,” Powell said. “Why would someone pay the premium for steak or roast and then turn it into a hockey puck?”

Food safety or hockey, language goes a long way; a Punjabi broadcast draws in new hockey fans

While packing up endless stuf to bring to Brisbane tomorrow, I had the Rangers and Devils on in the background this afternoon, and now have Canadians-Leafs on the computer, exchanging text barbs with daughter Braunwynn who does not yet know the sorrow of a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and packing more.

Harnarayan Singh and Bhola Chauhan are the voice of the National Hockey League in an animated stream of Punjabi, punctuated with courtlynn.poop.aug.12English words like “linesman,” “icing” and “face-off.”

The New York Times reports Singh spoke at great volume as Toronto scored its first goal, crediting wing Joffrey Lupul for what translates to “picking up the wood,” a traditional Punjabi battle cry akin to bringing the house down.

“Chak de phatte goooaaalll Joffrey Lupul! Torrronto Maple Putayyy!”

A few minutes later, Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn and Toronto’s Colton Orr dropped their gloves and began pounding on each other, and Singh rose in his chair to animate each blow. As the players were led to the penalty box, Chauhan, an Indian-born draftsman, writer and taxi driver wearing a cream-colored turban, read a fighting poem he had written based on a Punjabi style of verse.

The guy who is winning has a punch like a lion, and takes over the fight.

He hits like a sledgehammer.

They’re rivals, and he’s hung the other out to dry, not letting him go.

The weekly Punjabi broadcast of “Hockey Night in Canada,” as venerated an institution for Canadians as “Monday Night Football” is for Americans, is the only N.H.L. game called in a language other than English or French.

The broadcast marries Canada’s national pastime with the sounds and flavors of the Indian subcontinent, providing a glimpse into the changing face of ice hockey.

Singh, 28, has developed a signature style tailored for his audience. A puck can be described as an “aloo tikki,” a potato pancake his mother makes especially well. When a team comes back in the second period with renewed energy, Singh might say what translates to “someone life.hockeymust have made them a good cup of chai in the intermission.” A player who celebrates after a big goal will “dance bhangra moves.”

The number of children playing ice hockey in Canada has remained stagnant, said Paul Carson, vice president for hockey development with Hockey Canada.

“Growth in this country is coming from immigration from a lot of non-hockey-playing countries,” he said. “They’re coming from the Mideast, Africa, East and South Asia.”

The members of Singh’s family, like most of Canada’s 1.1 million Punjabi speakers (almost twice as many as in the United States), are Sikhs. The religion is centered in the Punjab region, which straddles northwestern India and Pakistan. Sikhs have been in Canada since the late 19th century.

Singh’s parents, Santokh and Surjit, were born in India and moved to Canada in the late 1960s, to work as teachers in Brooks, a small town in Alberta. Singh, the youngest of their four children, was born in 1984, months after Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup.

So far, the best way to generate new fans seems to be having a successful home team. The Washington Capitals have broadened their appeal among young Hispanics and other minorities because of the star power of Alexander Ovechkin.

“Now there’s an explosion of interest in that community because they all want to play hockey,” said Peter Robinson, a Capitals official who oversees amateur hockey development. Local rinks are adding classes every week to keep up with demand, he said. “Their parents and grandparents didn’t pay attention to hockey, but now hockey’s everywhere.”

Sorta like food safety.

The best Canadian response: if my earpiece went in his beer, I would have bought him another

When Boston Bruins ice hockey assistant coach Geoff Ward got frustrated during his team’s recent overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it led to an amazing chain of events.

Ward was having technical difficulties with his electronic earpiece during winter.classic.hockey.chilithe NHL game and angrily unclipped the device on the sideline.

Television footage appeared to show him nonchalantly throwing the earpiece behind him over a glass partition – and it landing directly into a stunned male spectator’s beer.

“Holy crap what are the odds!?” one person commented on YouTube.

But the truth was even weirder.

What landed in the man’s drink was actually a smelling salt – accidentally thrown about five metres from the Bruin’s bench by player Tyler Seguin.

The right winger confessed to being the thrower in a short video posted on the Bruin’s website.

“It was before the third period and sometimes I use the smelling salt just to wake me up a little bit,” he said.

Seguin apologised to Ward for making it appear as though he was responsible.

But the Canadian-born assistant coach took it all in his stride.

“Let’s be straight – if it was me that was the culprit I would have definitely bought him another beer,” Ward added.


College students vomit after chugging beers on ice at hockey game

After arriving in Brisbane this morning with a large bag of hockey equipment, it warmed my cockles – which didn’t need warming in the 85F heat and 8,000% humidity – to discover that a minor league capt.ef7fb1d4ac7d4de68fafcee1dd3609cc.bruins_penguins_hockey_pagp108hockey promotion went horribly awry after college students began puking on the ice after chugging beers as part of the “College Olympics” during intermission at the Rapid City Rush game in South Dakota.

According to the Rapid City Journal, two male students vomited on the ice in front of 5,000 fans after chugging four beers while running on the ice, riding a cooler and spinning around a hockey stick.

“It was meant to be fun, but it went completely wrong,” Rush General Manager Tim Hill told the Journal. “I apologize on behalf the organization. Obviously it was in poor taste. The intermission game was not appropriate, and it’s just something we will never do again.”

Manage problems before, not after alienating customers; what the NHL should learn from business

Some genius at CNN decided the National Hockey League, which resumes play in a few days after a protracted strike, could learn from the 1996 E. coli outbreak in unpasteurized juices produced by Odwalla that killed one and sickened at least 65.

While Odwalla did some creative risk communication, they, like the NHL, utterly failed at risk management by letting the crisis happen.

I’m gong back to Australia to play hockey, not talk about it.

Sometime in late September 1996, 16-month-old Anna Gimmestad of Denver has a glass of Smoothie juice manufactured by  Odwalla Inc. After her parents noticed bloody diarrhea, Anna was admitted to sorenne.hockey.jan.13Children’s Hospital on Oct. 16.  On 8 November 1996 she died after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest.  Anna had severe kidney problems, related to hemolytic uremic syndrome and her heart had stopped several times in previous days.

The juice Anna — and 65 others who got sick — drank was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, linked to fresh, unpasteurized apple cider used as a base in the juices manufactured by Odwalla.  Because they were unpasteurized, Odwalla’s drinks were shipped in cold storage and had only a two-week shelf life.  Odwalla was founded 16 years ago on the premise that fresh, natural fruit juices nourish the spirit.  And the bank balance: in fiscal 1996, Odwalla sales jumped 65 per cent to $60 million (U.S.).  Company chairman Greg Steltenpohl told reporters that the company did not routinely test for E. coli because it was advised by industry experts that the acid level in the apple juice was sufficient to kill the bug.

Who these industry experts are remains a mystery.  Odwalla insists the experts were the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The FDA isn’t sure who was warned and when.   In addition to all the academic research and media coverage concerning verotoxigenic E. coli cited above, Odwalla claimed ignorance.

In terms of crisis management — and outbreaks of foodborne illness are increasingly contributing to the case study literature on crisis management — Odwalla responded appropriately.  Company officials responded in a timely and compassionate fashion, initiating a complete recall and co-operating with authorities after a link was first made on Oct. 30 between their juice and illness.  They issued timely and comprehensive press statements, and even opened a web site containing background information on both the company and E. coli O157:H7.  Upon learning of Anna’s death, Steltenpohl issued a statement which said, “On behalf of myself and the people at Odwalla, I want to say how deeply saddened and sorry we are to learn of the loss of this child.  Our hearts go out to the family and our primary concern at this moment is to see that we are doing everything we can to help them.”

For Odwalla, or any food firm to say it had no knowledge that E. coli O157 could survive in an acid environment is unacceptable.  When one of us called this $60-million-a-year-company with the great public relations, to ask why they didn’t know that E. coli O157 was a risk in cider, it took over a day to return the call.   That’s a long time in crisis-management time.  More galling was that the company spokeswoman said she had received my message, but that her phone mysteriously couldn’t call Canada that day.

Great public relations; lousy management.  What this outbreak, along with cyclospora in fresh fruit in the spring of 1996 and dozens of others, demonstrates is that, vigilance, from farm to fork, is a mandatory requirement in a global food system.  Risk assessment, management and communication must be interlinked to accommodate new scientific and public information.  And that includes those funky and natural fruit juices.