Everyone’s got a camera: Australian supermarket duopoly edition

A Brisbane man says he will stop shopping at Coles after he found dozens of tiny insects in a sealed packed of pasta.

Masood Rahimi, 29, said he bought the 500g packet of Coles brand Bowties pasta in New Farm over a week ago.

It wasn’t until he was about to open it on Sunday when a friend noticed something moving around inside.

Mr Rahimi said there were maybe 50 to 100 bugs inside the packet, which he threw away.

He said he made a video of bugs and uploaded it to Coles’ Facebook page but didn’t think it would cause an impact.

At  Woolworths, a mouse was found eating biscuits in the bakery aisle.

South Australian man Mickey Young was shopping at Woolworths Port Lincoln at the weekend when another shopper noticed a mouse eating a biscuit inside a display cabinet in the bakery aisle.

Mr Young, who is a baker himself, began filming the mouse eating the sweet treat before it ran off.

Woolworths has launched an investigation and begun pest control following the sighting.

Man put mouse poison on food in Michigan stores

Police and federal agents said they’ve arrested a man suspected of spraying food with a mouse poison mixture at Ann Arbor-area grocery stores.

mouse.poison.ann.arborThe FBI said a tip from the public led to the suspect, whom they haven’t identified.

David Gelios, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division, said the man admitted to contaminating food with a potentially hazardous liquid at the Whole Foods Market on West Eisenhower Parkway, a Meijer store on Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Plum Market on North Maple Road.

“The suspect has admitted to using a potentially hazardous material to contaminate food in several Ann Arbor-area grocery stores,” Gelios said. “Our joint investigation leads us to believe that this individual sprayed a liquid mixture of hand sanitizer, water and Tomcat mice poison on produce.”

He also said the suspect told investigators he sprayed the chemicals on produce in those stores within the last two weeks.

Based on FBI investigation, there is the potential that other stores in Michigan may also have been targeted. These stores include:

2240 S Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI

Cupcake Station
116 E Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI

Family Fare
2026 North Saginaw
Midland, MI

3838 Richfield Road
Flint, MI

Meijer, #108
7300 Eastman Ave
Midland, MI

Meijer, #64
3145 Ann Arbor-Saline
Ann Arbor, MI

Meijer, #213
9515 Birch Run Rd
Birch Run, MI

Millers Mini Mart
3001 Bay City Rd
Midland, MI

Plum Market
375 North Maple
Ann Arbor, MI

2000 Waters Road
Ann Arbor, MI

Tsai Grocery
3115 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI

910 Joe Mann Blvd
Midland, MI

7000 E Michigan Ave
Saline, MI

Whole Foods
990 W Eisenhower Pkwy
Ann Arbor, MI

Whole Foods
3135 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI

sq-willard-crispin-glover-rat-nl“While the risk for adverse health effects appears to be low, more investigation is being done to determine what level of exposure may have occurred,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive, MDHHS. “If you have any health concerns, contact your healthcare provider or call Michigan Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 with questions.”

The departments would like to acknowledge the diligence of employees at Whole Foods, the quick response of the FBI, law enforcement agencies, and local health officials, and those who provided tips via social media, which has led to a speedy resolution to this issue.

Food industry employees and consumers are reminded to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities. Remember, “If you see something, say something.” Any suspicious activities should be immediately reported to local law enforcement.

Examples of things to watch for include employees or strangers who:

  • spray unknown substances in your store
  • enter or exit your operation through the wrong doors
  • hang around display cases, exposed food displays (e.g., produce or salad bars) or cold/hot food displays
  • loiter in aisles

leave suspicious materials in your store.

‘You are going to have food outbreaks’ Fewer restaurant inspections bad for Mississippi

According to this editorial from the Sun Herald, Robert Travnicek had a more than 20-year run as the head of the local Health Department, so we listen when he issues a warning.

RestaurantInspectionGradeCReporter Mary Perez contacted Travnicek for her front-page story Tuesday about budget cuts at the Mississippi Department of Health. The state is cutting 20 food inspector positions, which will result in some restaurants being inspected only once a year.

“Food inspection, if I was there, is the last thing I’d cut,” said Travnicek, who can speak more freely now that he’s no longer employed by the state. “Who knows what could happen in a year? You are going to have food outbreaks.”

Two positions were cut on the Coast and three Coastal inspectors were moved to wastewater-related duties.

The decision is troubling for our health, our businesses and our tourism industry in South Mississippi.

Restaurants want to put out a quality product. We get that. But the fear of frequent restaurant inspection ensures there are no corners cut. For comparison purposes, say you knew there were no highway patrolman on the interstate. Would you then drive well above the speed limit?

The inspection process protects you, the consumer.

Fewer inspectors also means restaurants are going to have a more difficult time getting open. Previously, inspectors would typically go out several times to a new facility and help the owner work through the process, Perez reported.

Now, a health department spokeswoman said, “we’re just not funded to do that because of the budget cuts.”

Bad food and bad business is nothing to mess around with.

US federal court orders rice noodle company to stop selling

On April 27, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kun Wo Food Products Inc., located in San Francisco, and its co-owners, Zi Xing Liu and Zi Chen Liu (“Kun Wo”), after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration documented violations of federal food safety laws. The U.S. Department of Justice handled the case on behalf of the FDA.

UnknownAccording to the complaint filed with the consent decree, FDA inspections at Kun Wo in 2015 and 2016 found unsanitary conditions in which noodles may have become contaminated. Listeria monocytogenes (L.mono) was found in the environment, and the company’s rice noodles were also at risk of contamination from Bacillus cereus, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.  L. mono is a bacterium that can cause serious illness or even death in vulnerable groups including elderly adults and those with impaired immune systems (such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and transplant patients). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies. The FDA investigators observed that company allowed employees to touch food without cleaning their hands after handling dirty machinery and equipment. The company also failed to take adequate measures to protect food against the risk of contamination from other sources, including pests and condensation.

“The FDA has an obligation to protect public health, and we will take action when we see a company repeatedly violating food safety regulations,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

After the FDA’s 2015 inspection, Kun Wo made inadequate and unsuccessful corrections to its processes and facility issues. The FDA conducted an additional inspection in 2016 and found continuing and ongoing violations of current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.

As a result of this court action, Kun Wo was ordered to cease processing and distributing food. Under the consent decree, if Kun Wo intends to resume operations, it must give the FDA at least 90 days’ advance notice and fulfill other requirements before the company can begin operating. Kun Wo must, among other things, retain an independent expert to develop a pathogen control program, retain an independent laboratory to conduct analyses of both the environment and food products, and provide employee training on sanitary food handling techniques. If Kun Wo is permitted to resume operations, the consent decree requires the company to obtain independent audits to ensure ongoing compliance.

Food porn: 32,000 sign up for nude dinners at UK naked restaurant

How bored are Westerners that Bunyadi, a pop-up restaurant billed as London’s first “naked food experience” has a waiting list of 32,000 people?

naked.diningSanitarians have e-mailed me in abject microbiological horror.

The butt is covered for a reason.

Opening in June, the central London venue will offer gowns, changing rooms and lockers to guests wanting to digest the sight of their own exposed skin while getting their chow on.

Only 42 diners a time will fit in the restaurant — at an as-yet-undisclosed location — meaning that many of those hoping for a naked lunch, or dinner, will be disappointed.

“I’m both surprised and excited by the response,” Seb Lyall, whose company Lollipop is behind the venture, tells CNN.

“People want to be naked. Whether it’s on a beach or in a sauna, if the opportunity is there to be in a natural state, they will take it.”

Semi-nude staff

Paying up to $95-a-head for food and drinks, diners will be able to choose between clothed and “naked and pure” seating areas, where they’ll be served by semi-nude staff.

Selfies, mercifully, will be impossible as guests will have to leave their devices behind when entering the candlelit restaurant.

Lyall says to create a completely natural environment, both the restaurant and its kitchen will be run without electricity or gas.

Instead, its menu of vegan and non-vegan dishes will be prepared using wood fires by chefs who will, hopefully, be wearing more than just hairnets and aprons.

Food will be served on earthenware crockery and eaten with edible cutlery.

If you email to get on the waitlist, you get this response:

“The ethos behind The Bunyadi is ultimate freedom and liberation from any impurity.

You will enter a creatively designed space where you will dine under a canopy of candlelights, carefully partitioned with bamboo and wicker, as you recline on wood-hewn furniture. In this space, everything is handmade and natural. 

Think edible cutlery, handmade clay plates and a cooking done with only the basic utensils available (The spatula used in the kitchen is a piece of tree branch…)

Please note, although we would like everyone to experience this, tickets are limited and are only released on a first come first served basis.

Meanwhile, please visit us on our facebook page”

Microorganisms are natural, even the kind that will make people sick, and don’t care about marketing hucksterism.

Ask Chipotle.

15 sickened with E. coli from butcher: Council says no action to be

In June and July, 2015, 15 people were sickened with E. coli O157 from Robinson’s Butchers and Caterers in Billingham, UK.

Tia Donaldson, e.coliYesterday Durham County Council decided it would take no action against the butcher even though cross-contamination was the likely cause.

Stockton Council is continuing its inquiry into the conditions at the Billingham branch which has remained closed since the incident.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Officers from Durham County Council’s food safety team took all appropriate enforcement actions during the course of the investigation, to ensure that suitable and effective control measures were put into place by the food business operator at the Wingate premises. Any identified contraventions of food safety law were rectified at the time, and all recommendations were fully implemented without delay. Accordingly, there is no intention to pursue any further formal enforcement action in respect of this incident.”

Some of those affected contracted illness from food supplied by Robinson’s butcher’s to Northfield School in Billingham.

A report by Public Health England’s outbreak control team in December found the outbreak did come from Robinson’s, and said the likely cause was “cross-contamination from raw meat to ready-to-eat food within the Billingham branch and to a lesser degree at the Wingate branch.”

Robinson’s butchersOf the 15 people affected, 10 needed hospital treatment of which seven went on to develop haemolytic uraemic syndrome, a serious condition affecting the kidneys.

One of these was 12-year-old Tia Donaldson, of Billingham, who was left in a critical condition having suffered kidney failure, a series of mini strokes and a dangerously inflamed bowel.

Philadelphia: Post inspections in restaurant windows

Following up on UK calls for mandatory posting of inspection grades in restaurants, letter writer Joseph Mcaffrey tells Philly.com he recently walked by a barf.o.meter.dec.12restaurant near Philadelphia City Hall that had 19 illness-risk and retail violations, yet it was doing a booming lunch business.

Food poisoning is horrendous to recover from, and I urge the Inquirer to continue publishing restaurant inspection reports. But City Council must do more to protect the public. Council and Mayor Kenney should mandate the placement of the most recent food-inspection reports in all restaurants’ front windows.

With the coming Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia cannot risk the bad press involved in food poisoning and other adverse health events.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Brits pushing for full restaurant grade disclosure, including Michelin starred

Australia take note: Even though Toronto, Los Angeles and New York City have all figured out mandatory disclosure of restaurant inspection grades on the door – you know, when people might actually make a decision – the Brits and Aussies opted for a voluntary system, so if a restaurant gets a 2-out-of-5 it’s just not posted.

wtf_mate_ornament_roundWales already has a mandatory system and Northern Ireland will have one in October.

But not England or Scotland.

The Telegraph reports that the UK government came under pressure last night from council leaders who called for a change in the law to force high-class establishments – even Michelin starred ones — to publicise their hygiene rankings in a bid to reduce the risk of diners eating unsafe food and becoming ill.

The change would affect all restaurants but those with Michelin stars are set to be hit particularly hard, as research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows their rankings are generally lower than many familiar chain restaurants.

I repeat, Michelin-starred restaurants generally rank lower than chain restaurants.

Fancy food ain’t safe food.

In December, FSA found 83pc of high street chains were given the best rating of five out of five, compared to just 55pc of Michelin star restaurants.

Michelin stars, a mark of exceptional quality food, are awarded to businesses by mystery shoppers and are judged independently of the official hygiene ratings.

Safety and quality are altogether different measures.

(Safety and quality are different measures, see below.} 

The FSA said all businesses should be able to reach this top rating of five.

But Bruce Poole, owner of Chez Bruce, a Michelin star restaurant in Wandsworth with a hygiene rating of lower than five, defended top restaurants which did not score top marks.

fancy.food.shitHe said: “It is very difficult for restaurants like ours as unlike high street chains which have restricted menus, we have fresh food coming through the day – sometimes up to 70 different items. We have to be able to show that all these pieces of produce have been handled correctly. For example we were downgraded from five stars because we couldn’t prove that we had frozen some fish at the correct temperature.” 

Simon Blackburn, Blackpool councilor and chairman of the Local Government Association safer and stronger communities board, said: “It’s not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a ‘dodgy’ meal that could pose a serious risk to their health.”

An FSA spokesperson said: “We very much favour making this system compulsory in England too, as we believe this will be better for consumers. It will also be better for businesses that achieve good standards as they will get more recognition and it will increase the spotlight on those not meeting the grade.”

“Anyone in England who sees a business without a hygiene rating sticker currently has to decide if they want to eat or buy food there without knowing what’s going on in the kitchen” said councillor Simon Blackburn, the chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board.

“It’s not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a ‘dodgy’ burger or kebab that could pose a serious risk to their health.

“Councils always take action to tackle poor or dangerous hygiene and improve conditions and see first-hand what shockingly can go on behind closed doors at rogue food premises.

smiley.faces.denmark.rest.inspection“Businesses have recently been prosecuted for being riddled with mice or cockroach infestations, rodent droppings on food and caught with a chef smoking when preparing food.”

Mandatory display of food hygiene ratings is supported by the consumer organization Which?, the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health and many environmental health officers.

Last year Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in Mayfair, London, scored just two out of five after inspectors found cockroaches on the premises. Immediate steps were taken and Maze now scores top marks.

The LGA released details of recent food safety breaches, including in Croydon where more than 100 food outlets failed to meet expected hygiene standards last year, including 22 on a single street.

Over to you, Australia.

Poop, not spices: UK chef prepared food after wiping bottom with bare hands; it’s a culture thing

A takeaway chef wiped his bottom using his hands before preparing food because he does not use toilet paper for ‘cultural reasons’, a court heard.

mahbub.chowdhuryMahbub Chowdhury, 46, from Swindon, was found to have a filthy bottle in the kitchen of Yeahya Flavour of Asia, which inspectors concluded was covered in faecal matter.

When questioned, he said he filled the empty milk bottle with water from the kitchen taps before using it to clean his backside after going to the toilet. ‘He did not use toilet paper for cultural reasons. Inspectors concluded the brown finger prints was faecal matter.’

Chowdhury prepared meat and fish curries at the takeaway, which was run out of a rented kitchen at the Nine Elms pub.

The chef, who no longer works at the takeaway, pleaded guilty to ten counts of breaching food hygiene regulations at Swindon Magistrates Court.

He was fined more than £5,000 last year for ten similar offences relating to food hygiene.

Mark Glendenning, defending, said the milk bottle was never examined and the marks could have been spices.


‘We grind our patties in store every day’ so they’re safe, and other hamburger myths

Not sure who is worse here: the celebrity chef or the government regulators.

But they’re both wrong on the topic of shiga-toxin producing E. coli in hamburgers.

meatwad.raw.hamburgerThe stories pitch it as a “bun fight between health bureaucrats and burger bars over what makes a safe hamburger.”

And both sides are using erroneous information.

I don’t really care what people eat, other than what they feed to their kids, and that accurate information is provided.

A NSW Food Authority spokeswoman said council officers had approached the watchdog in recent months “concerned about the increase in businesses serving rare/undercooked burgers” and potential health risks.

The authority has sent revised “Hamburger Food Safety” guidelines to Environment Health Officers, attached to the state’s 152 councils.

“Mince meat should be cooked right through to the centre,” the instructions say, citing a temperature of 71C.

“No pink should be visible and juices should run clear.”

Color is a lousy indicator, as is juices running clear. The only way to tell if a burger is safe is to use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Regulators, with all their talk of science-based activities, should know better.

The spokeswoman said if businesses wanted to cook using an alternative temperature, “they must be able to demonstrate that their cooking process is safe”. Burger bars that don’t meet the new guidelines face penalties up to $1540 per offence “for the preparation or sale of unsafe food”.

Sydney chef Neil Perry, who plans to open four Burger Project stores this year, cooks his patties to medium — about 60C. But he said the big difference is staff at his outlets grind meat fresh every day, making it safe.

“We can do medium-rare, which is about 55C, but we rarely get asked for that,” he said. “About 10 per cent of orders are for ‘well done’.”

Perry said the food guidelines serve as a “worst-case scenario” safety net.

“Those guidelines from the health department are important because a lot of burger places have their patties supplied by butchers and have already been minced,” he said.

Perry said bacteria starts growing as soon as meat is minced so chefs need to mince and cook on the same day and keep meat refrigerated at the right temperature:

“We grind our patties in store every day.”

So what?

Shiga-toxin producing E. coli are generally found on the surface of meat cuts (unless that meat has been needle tenderized). The process of mincing moves the outside to the inside, so rare is risky.

Those dangerous E. coli are also especially infectious, with as few as 10 cells thought to cause illness.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175