I’ve stepped aside for two weeks and this has become painfully apparent: Most of everything I did in my 20-year academic career don’t mean shit.
It’s the food safety version of the liberal bubble.
I’ve been praised and criticized along the way for using new messages, new media and new ways of gauging food safety behaviour.
But it don’t mean shit.
We microbiologially-inclined folks look on with dismay as mere plebes engage in all kinds of risky food stuff, and then lament amongst ourselves at the uneducated public (I don’t, but many others do).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), long considered the holy tome for all things food safety, has just published its 10 Most Talked About MMWR Reports of 2016:
France’s Contrôle Sanitaire writes the publication of the results of health checks in the food sector (restaurants, canteens, slaughterhouses, etc.) is a legitimate expectation of citizens that contributes to the improvement of consumer confidence. Foreseen in the Future for Agriculture, Food and Forest Act of 13 October 2014, this measure is part of a move towards greater transparency of State action.
To which a Brit tweeted @foodgov have been doing this for years, France is now copying the successful “Food Hygiene Rating” scheme.
Oh fuck it.
This is a good point to pause.
Restaurant inspection disclosure goes back to 1924, at which time letter grades were introduced to classify milk in the United States.
Toronto has been doing it since 2000.
So for a Brit to brag to a French about stuff that happened decades ago seems a bit silly, and time for barfblog.com to take a pause.
We don’t want to become recall.net and most of you 100K+ subscribers can figure out how to aggregate news on your own.
Chapman and I started barfblog on a plane trip to Prince George, B.C, where Chapman thought he would be eaten by bears and we saw advertisements for a college student jello thing, but decided we were too old to go.
We went to Vancouver to see our hockey goon friend Kevin Allen, and then to Seattle to see Marler.
Eventually we made our way to Manhattan, Kansas, where I was running away from an ex-wife, a stalking girlfriend and a whole lot of history.
I met a girl and Kansas State University hired me.
This is all the messy stuff in how science gets done but not really reported.
After 45 years of working continuously – I started as a golf caddy at nine-years-old, and the movie Caddyshack is historically accurate — I’m going to give it a break
No retirement, no pension, just want to see what else is out there, and see what other ideas I can come up with for others to claim as their own.
Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information. Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.
Emily Woods of the Age reports one person has died and at least six others have been taken to hospital with listeria during a surge in food poisoning cases in the weeks before Christmas.
The tragedy is one of seven cases of listeria reported in the last three weeks, although none are believed to be linked.
Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Finn Romanes advised doctors and other health professionals to “educate at-risk patients” about safe food-handling and which foods to avoid.
The department was unable to reveal further details about the patient’s death.
The seven recent cases are among 25 that have been reported in Victoria so far this year. In 2015, there were 22 cases of listeria in the state.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the incidents were a timely reminder for pregnant women, and other at-risk people, in the days leading up to Christmas.
“Food-borne illnesses typically increase during the summer months, when bacteria can multiply quickly. With a recent rise in listeriosis notifications it’s particularly important pregnant women take extra precautions this Christmas,” Ms Hennessy said.
“Pregnant women should remain vigilant and avoid eating salads prepared well in advance of consumption, cold seafood and cold deli meats, soft cheeses, soft-serve ice cream, dips and any unpasteurised dairy products.”
All of the other patients have since left hospital and are recovering.
This is why avant-garde jazz saxophonists shouldn’t be responsible for food safety
And that’s nothing against avant-garde jazz saxophonists, although I hate jazz.
But what I really hate is when people make dumb decisions that lead to another’s death, all marketed with the halo of natural, and yet still heralded as some titan of business.
In late Oct. 1996, an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 was traced to juice containing unpasteurized apple cider manufactured by Odwalla in the northwest U.S. Sixty-four people were sickened and a 16-month-old died from E. coli O157:H7. During subsequent grand jury testimony, it was revealed that while Odwalla had written contracts with suppliers to only provide apples picked from trees rather than drops – those that had fallen to the ground and would be more likely to be contaminated with feces, in this case, deer feces — the company never verified if suppliers were actually doing what they said they were doing. Earlier in 1996, Odwalla had sought to supply the U.S. Army with juice. An Aug. 6, 1996 letter from the Army to Odwalla stated, “we determined that your plant sanitation program does not adequately assure product wholesomeness for military consumers. This lack of assurance prevents approval of your establishment as a source of supply for the Armed Forces at this time.”
Once a huckster, always a huckster.
Stephanie Strom of the N.Y. Times reports for the past 20 years, Greg Steltenpohl, an avant-garde jazz saxophonist turned beverage entrepreneur, has worked to rekindle the magic behind his greatest hit — and make peace with a nightmare that led to an abrupt fall.
Food safety issue: Mr. Steltenpohl started the juice company Odwalla in 1980, selling drinks out of his band’s Volkswagen van in and around San Francisco. Within a few years, the company was a multimillion-dollar business, flying high as one of the first breakout healthy drinks now commonplace in grocery aisles.
Then, in 1996, a child died and dozens were sickened because of contaminated apple juice produced by Odwalla, changing everything. About 90 percent of the company’s revenue evaporated almost overnight in the wake of the outbreak. With the company on the brink of bankruptcy, Mr. Steltenpohl and his partners were forced to sell a controlling interest in Odwalla to private equity firms, the equivalent — to him — of selling out to the devil. Not long after, the company was sold to Coca-Cola.
Dude, you sold out long before that, pushing production and foregoing safety to make bucks.
Quite a fairytale he spins.
“Odwalla took him to the top of the world and then to the bottom,” said Berne Evans, his business partner today. “I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it.”
But now Mr. Steltenpohl, a gentle and avuncular 62, is once again near the center of beverage industry buzz as the head of Califia Farms, a nut milk business that is fast expanding into bottled coffees and other drinks. This time, he is taking advantage of a new trend sweeping the industry, as young beverage companies — empowered by changes in distribution and consumer tastes — are rising and competing successfully with titans like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
Only a few years after its founding, in 2012, Califia is on track to ring up $100 million in sales and is adding products at a fast clip. The company is considered one of the hottest young brands in the beverage world, leading to whispers about whether one of the big competitors will soon swoop in with a buyout offer that Mr. Steltenpohl and his partners can’t refuse.
Not this time, he insists. “I’ve had to sell out once,” Mr. Steltenpohl said. “That was enough.”
The story has lots of financial stuff, and how people who know shit about food safety market and sell shit to people who don’t know better, and the people who know shit make billions.
With Trump as President, the time is ripe for a comeback, I guess.
Duane Stanford, the editor of Beverage Digest, said a young beverage company today can buy its flavors from a flavor house, branding expertise from a branding expert and manufacturing from a producer on contract.
“You have this situation where these companies can become viable, robust, cash-generating businesses without the help of a big company,” he said. “They’re even getting creative at building independent distribution networks.”
Odwalla came together out of a necessity to eat. After graduating from Stanford with a degree in environmental sciences, Mr. Steltenpohl joined with some friends to start a band called the Stance. He also got hooked on the taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice, which his father made for him.
“We were a band of musicians who weren’t really that accomplished — or popular,” Mr. Steltenpohl said of himself and the band members, who became his partners in Odwalla. “We were broke and starving, and we figured if we started a juice business, we could live off the juice and maybe make a little extra.”
He read a book, “100 Businesses You Can Start For $100,” and the partners invested in a juicer and started making juice. They didn’t even try to break into groceries and convenience stores, instead stocking refrigerators in video stores and laundromats with Odwalla fresh juice each day. “Everyone who was a musician back then was basically living out of a VW bus,” Mr. Steltenpohl said. “We quit living in ours and began selling juice out of the back.”
For most of its early years, the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union financed the company. But as consumers cottoned on to its intensely flavored, wacky mixes of unpasteurized juice, it needed something more.
In October, 1996, a 16-month-old Denver girl drank Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. of Half Moon Bay, California. She died several weeks later; 64 others became ill in several western U.S. states and British Columbia after drinking the same juices, which contained unpasteurized apple cider — and E. coli O157:H7. Investigators believed that some of the apples used to make the cider might have been ins
The brand’s claims about the healthiness came back to haunt it as reporters dug into its failure to heed warnings about food-safety lapses.
Those failures are legendary in the food safety world, and a similar failure for Steltenpohl to say, “(Coke) never saw the enormous potential of the Odwalla brand and instead saw it as just another product in the juice portfolio.”
It’s also a failure for the N.Y Times to not report how those Odwalla failures went straight to the top..
Odwalla’s brand is nothing more than a cautionary food safety fairytale.
I have many.
Maybe Cafia will become one.
The story notes that Steltenpohl is also trying to avoid past mistakes. The plant is equipped with cutting-edge food-safety monitors that share alerts about problems as they happen with the entire senior management team. Josh Butt, who previously oversaw food safety systems at Danone, the big French dairy company, presides over the plant’s operations.
Cutting-edge is a phrase that appeals to investors but means shit to any food safety type.
Cutting corners is this guy’s calling card.
And making a buck.
This is what I wrote at the time:
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 Children’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.
Kelly told Rural News that 75 to 85 per cent of vet students were women and in the first year when there was a high ‘cull’, it was the female students who continued because the work was largely academic.
“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he told Rural News. “Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.”
Kelly then went on to imply that a high fallout rate in the vet profession was the result of the life choices made by female graduates.
“When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a fulltime equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.”
This is what is infuriating about food safety government types: they have the budgets, they have the knowledge, but they don’t have the wherewithal to confront an issue on a public scale.
They can say, oooohhh, we use social media to track when people are barfing but they do no evaluation of their alleged interventions.
Telling people to wash their hands doesn’t mean people will wash their hands.
Elizabeth Cassin of BBC writes if you’re suffering with projectile vomiting and watery diarrhea, reach for your phone and post an update.
While it won’t ease your suffering, a tweet or two could help researchers track the spread of the winter vomiting bug (which the rest of the world calls Norovirus).
The UK Food Standards Agency has been using social media to track levels of norovirus, a highly contagious illness which spreads via food and through person-to-person contact. The symptoms usually last for one to two days, with the person remaining infectious for a further two days.
If you’ve ever had, it you know what it means: vomiting, diarrhea, pain, and the general feeling of having been run over by a car.
In 2013, the Foods Standards Agency started looking at new ways to track the virus. They analysed Google searches but found that social media was a better source of data. “It’s more about the immediacy… what’s happening in their lives right now,” says Dr Sian Thomas.
On the other hand, “if you’re in hospital or a nursing home and you’re sick, then they might take a sample and send it to a laboratory for analysis,” she says.
The FSA compared this official sample data with the volume of relevant tweets and concluded that “there’s a really good correlation between the number of mentions on Twitter of ‘sick’ and a range of search terms, with the incidents of illness as defined by laboratory reports.”
“Our current estimate is that between 70-80% of the time, we are able to accurately predict an increase the next week.”
If the team predict a national outbreak, they plan to run a digital campaign explaining how to look after yourself.
“The intervention is really quite basic,” she notes. “It’s about washing your hands, it’s about looking after yourself, and not coming in to contact with other people while you’re sick.”
Norovirus can be dangerous for children or the elderly. Fortunately for healthy adults though, the illness is usually a minor, if messy, inconvenience.
Everyone’s got a camera, consumers are asking more about food safety, so quit the bickering and get ahead of the curve.
A shopping mall in Hongkou district of China had digital screens installed at the front doors of its restaurants to broadcast real-time scenes from inside their kitchens, the Jiefang Daily reported. According to Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Supervision Administration, the mall’s live streaming is a pilot for the new transparent kitchens and stoves project promoted by the local authority. Liu Jun, an official from Hongkou District Market Supervision and Management Bureau, said that other information such as business licenses and health certificates may also be presented on the screens. Mobile phone applications that contribute to food safety will also be utilized. “With these food-safety applications, citizens can have more access to what ingredients are used and where leftovers go,” Zhang Lei, an official from Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Supervision Administration said.
Amy is away in Adelaide, doing what she is good at: French professoring.
Walking Sorenne to her last day of grade 2 this morning – summer in Australia – she asked me, what should I be when I grow up?
I said, I’ll let you know when I grow up.
We chatted back and forth, and then came the advice I had heard from my father and uncle: I don’t care what you do, but be really good at it.
I told Sorenne mom was really good at the French professoring thing, I was really good at the food safety thing, and she could decide what to be really good at.
My uncle Larry is in this pic (below, left); he worked the railroads and played hockey in the Huntsville-north-of-Toronto-but not-too far-north leagues; settled in Barrie and when I was a kid, about 1970, on those every other weekends we would visit from Brantford, would go watch what I thought were giants of the neighborhood on a sunday morning pick-up, and then watch them drink beers.
I keep this amongst my hockey memorabilia.
In his later years, uncle Larry drove a truck for Molsons brewery out of Barrie.
That plant is long defunct, I don’t know who owns Molsons, but I do know that in 1982, uncle Larry would be delivering a load to Guelph and would honk at me as he passed by.
He also gave me a ridiculous supply of beer returned from the stores.
Larry and aunt Shirley also let me and my high school girlfriend, Sue, sleep in the same bed.
That was awesome.
So when the free beer allotment for Labatt retirees — which was part of the workers’ pension benefit package for more than five decades — will soon go flat, I thought of Larry.
Labatt has announced the long-standing perk will be phased out by Jan.1, 2019 because it’s too expensive. But workers call the cut petty when compared to the company’s ballooning revenues.
Labatt said the allotment for existing retirees would be cut in half in 2018 and cut off completely in 2019.
“I just think it’s nickel-and-diming of our retirees that put in a lot of work for many, many years,” said local union president Jim Stirr. “In the cost of doing business, it’s such a small, small thing.”
Labatt, a formerly Canadian beermaker, is now owned by Belgium-based global super-producer Anheuser-Busch InBev. That’s a publicly traded company that owns more than 400 beer brands worldwide and reported $55 billion in revenue in 2015 alone.
“The reason for the change relates to the rising overall cost of maintaining a full benefits package, including health care coverage for retirees,” Labatt vice-president Lindsay King wrote in a letter to employees dated Oct. 28.
As in hockey, as in life, Some talk, some do, some play hockey.
And if you’ve invested “tremendous resources in food safety” why not brag about it at retail, rather than in a lame journal no one will read.
Food retailers have invested tremendous resources in food safety over the past two decades. Food safety is the foundation of food retailers’ relationships with their customers—consumers expect the food they purchase is safe. According to US Grocery Shopper Trends 2016 (FMI), nearly nine out of 10 shoppers have confidence in the safety of the food at the grocery store. Also, an increasing number of consumers are taking personal responsibility for food safety compared to just six years ago.
Food retailers are a credible and very accessible source of food safety information for consumers. For this reason, FMI has been a founding member and partner of the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) since its inception in 1997. PFSE is better known as the FightBac!® campaign which promotes four core practices for food safety– Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. The FightBac!® campaign provides food safety education to a variety of audiences through a network of health and food safety educators, called BAC Fighters. The retail food industry is an integral part of the BAC Fighter network.
Because interacting with customers is essential for doing business, grocers are well positioned to put food safety information at shoppers’ fingertips. Over the years, PFSE has developed campaigns and toolkits for retailers to use in stores to help promote safe food handling at home.
I remember. I was in Quebec City with a pregnant Amy when all this went down. Doing hour-long iradio interviews where midnight callers asked about aliens and Salmonella.
Michael Booth of the National Law Journal reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cannot be held liable for financial damages suffered by farmers when it issues emergency, but erroneous, food safety warnings, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled.
In its Dec. 2 ruling, the Fourth Circuit refused to allow a South Carolina tomato farmer to seek more than $15 million in damages from the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act after the FDA issued a warning that an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul was caused by contaminated tomatoes, when it was later determined that the outbreak was caused by contaminated peppers imported from Mexico.
A South Carolina tomato farm, Seaside Farm on St. Helena Island, sued the federal government, claiming that the incorrect warnings issued by the FDA, beginning in May 2008 and later corrected, cost it $15,036,294 in revenue. The Fourth Circuit agreed with a trial court that the FDA was acting within its authority to issue emergency food safety warnings based on preliminary information in order to protect public health.
“We refuse to place FDA between a rock and a hard place,” wrote Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson for the panel, sitting in Richmond.
“One the one hand, if FDA issued a contamination warning that was even arguably overbroad, premature, or of anything less than perfect accuracy, injured companies would plague the agency with lawsuits,” he said.
“On the other hand, delay in issuing a contamination warning would lead to massive tort liability with respect to consumers who suffer serious or even fatal consequences that a timely warning might have averted,” Wilkinson said.
Judges Paul Niemeyer and Dennis Shedd joined in the Dec. 2 ruling.
The medical crisis arose on May 22, 2008, when the New Mexico Department of Health notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a number of residents had been diagnosed as having Salmonella Saintpaul, a strain that causes fever, diarrhea, nausea and, if left untreated, death. Soon after, similar reports came in from Texas.
The CDC determined that a “strong statistical” analysis determined that the illnesses were caused by people eating raw tomatoes. By June 1 of that year, CDC was investigating 87 illnesses in nine states.
The FDA then issued a warning to consumers in New Mexico and Texas. By June 6, 2008, however, reported cases grew to 145 incidents in 16 states. In New Jersey, three people were reported to have been diagnosed with the illness. On June 7, the FDA issued a blanket nationwide warning telling consumers that they should be wary of eating raw tomatoes. (New Jersey tomatoes were not implicated, since they do not ripen until later in the season.)
The warning listed a number of countries and states, including South Carolina, that were not included and were not implicated, but those states were not listed in media reports. Eventually, 1,220 people were diagnosed as having Salmonella Saintpaul.
Raw tomatoes were not the cause of the illnesses, however. The contamination was traced to imported jalapeño and serrano peppers imported from Mexico.
Seaside Farm, which had just harvested a large crop of tomatoes, sued in May 2011. The farm claimed the erroneous FDA warning about tomatoes cost it $15 million-plus damages in revenue.