Food safety fail: BBC Food Detectives

Our resident non-aging television personality and food safety dude, Rob Mancini, who did a MSc with me all those years ago, writes that food safety professionals have been using a number of different mediums to get the word out on food safety.

One such medium are blogs, like the one you are reading now, using current press releases to disseminate information to the masses.  Others use eclectic marketing campaigns, some which are validated others not, radio, Internet, and TV.

While I am a proponent in using media to get information out in a rapid, relevant manner, TV reality shows can be misleading and often times food safety takes a back seat to sensation.

TV reality shows are a fine balance between science and fiction….. it’s about the ratings and trying to get a second season. Prior to embarking on my journey with Kitchen Crimes back in 2005, I was bombarded with emails from my colleagues not to sensationalize the facts and use weird gadgets to uncover dirt, grime, or whatever was lurking in the kitchen. Except hat doesn’t get ratings, sometimes we have to sensationalize and grasp peoples’ attention.

But it has to be done right.   At least it gets people talking and thinking about food safety.

The BBC Food Detective show was peppered with a number of food safety fails including no thermometers to verify internal food temps. Really, no thermometer….. something so simple that can literally save someone’s life. As a society, we do a horrible job in food safety communication, just look at all of the inconsistencies found on the Internet, in food regulations, provincially and internationally, and in the media.

Mancini speaks: Hands-on training to enhance the safe handling of food

Our own Rob Mancini will be speaking at the 12th Annual North American Summit on Food Safety taking place at the Old Mill in Toronto on Thursday, April 21st, 2016.

Rob_Mancini_001The importance of training food handlers is critical to effective food hygiene; however, there have been limited studies on the effectiveness of such training.

Food safety training courses are administered worldwide in attempts to reduce outbreaks in food service, retail and temporary food service establishments. However, food handlers often exhibit a poor understanding of microbial or chemical contamination of food and the measures necessary to correct them.

Studies suggest that the provision of a hands-on format of training would be more beneficial than traditional classroom-based programs. The delivery of such a program may assist in changing ones’ food safety behaviours and aid in the retention of knowledge that are necessary to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Mancini: Food safety at home

Rob Mancini writes:

There’s a lot of talk about food safety in the home. the majority of meals consumed are at home.

In 2005 I hosted Kitchen Crimes, a television-based series that promoted food safety at home, from dirty sponges to mice poop on countertops, we’ve seen it all. I always inform the public to use a diluted concentration of bleach to water in efforts to wash produce, countertops, and so on without validating the procedure.

From my experience, 100ppm of a diluted bleach solution means absolutely nothing to the home chef and more often than none, an excessive amount of bleach is used.

There are three important factors to consider when looking at food safety at home: hand washing; the use of a digital tip-sensitive thermometer and understanding proper internal temperatures; and, avoid cross-contamination. 

Serve burgers, not hockey pucks; food safety and thermometers

I may have first said that about 15 years ago.

Rob Mancini writes that food safety types have always advocated for the use of thermometers to determine if a food product has reached the required temperature to inactivate pathogens.

 mancini.jun.14This leads to less barfing.

Different types of foods require different temperatures to kill pathogens; don’t memorize the numbers, just know where to reference them. Be careful with poultry because Canada requires a higher temperature than the States, 85°C (185°F) and 74°C (165°F) respectively. Consistency is hard to attain….

Canada Beef and the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education have launched a campaign to save Canadians from eating hockey pucks this summer.

“All too often the humble hamburger is cooked beyond tasty recognition,” says Joyce Parslow, a professional home economist with Canada Beef. “A food thermometer is a quick and very effective way of knowing just when your burger is done. There is no more guessing, which means hockey pucks can stay on the ice and burgers can be enjoyed all summer long.”

The two groups are encouraging Canadians to share a photo of themselves

This is my beautiful wife cooking a roasted chicken and using a digital tip sensitive thermometer to ensure the final internal temperature has reached 74°C (165°F).

Temperature guidelines for all foods can be found at

Food safety culture and Canadian public health

This is a Huntsman spider.

About two weeks ago I woke up to find one on the wall, beside my head.

As I neared the end of a video talk about food safety culture at the annual gathering of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors about an hour ago, a gigantic Huntsman  appeared on the floor, headed toward the kitchen, where I was talking.

I told the assembled, hang on a sec, gotta kill a spider.

Everything’s bigger in Australia.

Always a pleasure to chat with my public health friends and frenemies, wherever they are, and at whatever time.

But I’m especially proud that Winnipeg public health inspector and K-State MS graduate Rob Mancini will be talking at the conference. His paper that formed the basis of his MS research will be published shortly.