It’s sorta sad when the PhD boffins at the UK Food Standards Agency get stood up by Cooks Illustrated.
Worse when they fail to acknowledge the error of their ways, but still earn the big bucks.
Cooking a chicken until its “juices run clear when pricked” is pretty standard poultry advice but, according to Cook’s Illustrated, it’s not a very dependable way to tell if your chicken is properly cooked.
As reported by Claire Lower of Skillet, though myoglobin (the molecule that gives meat its pink or red hue) does lose its color when heated, the temperature at which the color change occurs can vary depending on a whole bunch of factors. In fact, when Cook’s Illustrated tested this theory, they found the color of the juice had very little to do with the temperature of the meat:
But when we cooked whole chickens, in one case the juices ran clear when the breast registered 145 degrees and the thigh 155 degrees—long before the chicken was done. And when we pierced another chicken that we’d overcooked (the breast registered 170 degrees and the thigh 180 degrees), it still oozed pink juices.
The takeaway? Get a thermometer, use it, and never under-cook or overcook your chicken again.
The Packer writs in an editorial that the produce industry is justified in being upset about the latest accusation of lax food safety practices, but also acknowledges the industry has a strong food safety message and should be eager to share it.
It’s important that retailers and foodservice providers know the industry’s response to the most recent attack, this time from a United Kingdom study that raises concerns about salmonella in bagged salads.
How to do that?
Because at retail, the person consumers are going to ask is some minimum-wage kid who is stocking produce when a shopper walks by.
Most people want to go shopping, not do homework.
They are an abundance of tools that have been developed to help support risk communication at retail.
On the front lines.
Where sales are won and lost.
Market microbial food safety at retail rather than offering boilerplates.
Nielsen research has found almost half of Australian consumers wish there were more “all natural” food products on supermarket shelves.
A reflection of the way the question was asked.
Would you like all natural food products that contained dangerous microorganisms?
The findings from the Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey show Australians are adopting a “back-to-basics mindset”, focusing on simple ingredients says Nielsen.
Close to nine in 10 respondents said they avoid specific ingredients because they believe them to be harmful to their own or their family’s health, while six in 10 consumers said they are concerned about the long-term health impact of artificial ingredients in their diet.
They are not informed; they are responding to what grocery stores, TV, the Internet and friends tell them.
But in a Donald Trump era, it’s a fact-free world.
Trump won because he told people what they wanted to hear.
People embrace natural foods and are anti-vaccine because someone is telling them what they want to hear.
And it’s big bucks for the purveyors of food porn – farmers, processors, retailers – especially retailers – and media outlets that make a buck telling people what they want to hear.
I get it. I’ve always said – since I was about 20-years-old – getting attention in the public domain is a mixture of style and substance. Scientists can work on their style, everyone else can work on their substance (and just because you eat does not make you an expert).
But substance has to win out, about 60-40.
It’s a peculiarity that society expects bridges and other engineering feats, along with medicine, to be exceeding current and revolutionary, yet many expect to produce food as in the old days.
It’s not peculiar: it’s advertising, messaging and manipulation.
John Defore writes about a new documentary Food Evolution, which defends the place of genetically engineered food in agriculture.
Neil deGrasse Tyson – who seamlessly blends the 60-40 suggestion of substance over style – and director Scott Hamilton Kennedy challenge enviro-activist orthodoxy, much in the same way I’ve been doing for 30 years.
But they’re more skilled at the style.
Food Evolution sounds on paper like it might be one of those hack-job rebuttals in which moneyed right-wing interests disguise propaganda as a documentary. Many on the left will likely dismiss it as such, which is a shame … the movie makes an excellent case against those who seek blanket prohibitions against genetically modified organisms — and … against those of us who support such bans just because we assume it’s the eco-conscious thing to do.
[I]t investigates the motives of some prominent anti-GMO activists — like those who are “very entrepreneurial,” finding ways to make money off fears the film believes are baseless, or like researcher Chuck Benbrook, whose work was financed by companies making billions from customers afraid of GMOs.
Hope bridges don’t start falling down because people want them more natural.
The folks who did the survey say, “This presents an opportunity for food manufacturers to increase share by offering and marketing products that are formulated with good-for-you ingredients, and an opportunity for retailers to trade consumers up with more premium priced products.”
Tell lies. Bend rules. Make a buck.
Trump is the embodiment for the times.
Top 10 ingredients Australian consumers avoid:
Antibiotics/hormones in animals products
Foods with BPA packaging
Genetically modified foods
I avoid dangerous microorganisms, which sicken 1-out-of-8 people every year.
I based a large part of my research career on verifying the soundbite, ‘we have released guidelines’ or, ‘we follow all recommendations’ by arranging to have students see what actually goes on.
In October 2014, the New South Wales Food Authority released Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products (the Guidelines). Despite this, outbreaks continued to take place, particularly where business hygiene and temperature control issues were apparent. In addition, businesses and councils approached the Food Authority for advice on desserts containing raw eggs and other unusual raw egg dishes. As a result, the Guidelines were recently updated and give specific reference to Standard 3.2.2, Division 3, clause 7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure that only safe and suitable food is processed.
To reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella, retail businesses are advised to avoid selling food containing raw or minimally cooked eggs. The Guidelines give food businesses that do sell food containing raw egg specific safety steps for its preparation and clear guidance and advice on what they must do to meet food safety regulations. The revised Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products is available at www. foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/ retail/raw_egg_guidelines.pdf.
This is nice but of no use to consumers at a restaurant who order fish and chips with a side of mayo or aioli. I’ve already begun an ad hoc investigation – because I don’t want my family to get sick – and can say that out of the 15 times I’ve asked over the past few years – is the aioli or mayo made at the restaurant or bought commercially – the server invariably returns and proclaims, We only use raw eggs in our aioli or mayo.
Only once, so far, has an owner or chef said, we know of the risk, we only use the bought stuff. And they’re ex-pat Canadians.
Ashley Nickle of The Packer reports that Bruce Taylor, CEO and founder of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, emphatically denounced the study.
“We find the artificial conditions created by this study to be ridiculous,” Taylor said in an e-mail. “Producers of bagged salads do not have ‘juice’ in the salad bag, and producers take painstaking steps to avoid the introduction of salmonella or any other pathogen.”
The conclusion regarding refrigeration was the only notable one in the study, said Trevor Suslow, a member of the technical committee of the Center for Produce Safety. Scientists would expect salmonella to be able to survive at the temperature recorded in the study but would not expect it to grow, he said.
“People will definitely be trying to reproduce their results as far as growth under refrigeration temperature for salmonella,” Suslow said. “That’s, for me, the key issue.”
Suslow, an extension research specialist at the University of California-Davis, said it is already known that a bagged salad is an environment in which salmonella can have the nutrients it needs to grow, which is why the industry has focused so intently on ensuring no pathogens make it into bags into the first place.
Drew McDonald, vice president of quality, food safety and regulatory affairs at Salinas-based Church Brothers Farms, said in an e-mail that, although the researchers did some things well, he also had some issues with the study.
“From my read, the study essentially grew salmonella in juices extracted from actual bagged salads in a mixture of sterile water,” McDonald said. “The issue is that in the ‘real’ world the salmonella has to come from somewhere (the surface of the leaf for example) but along with this would be many other microorganisms. That they were able to grow salmonella under these forced, artificial conditions without any competition from other organisms is not surprising.”
Along with the growth conditions, the washed status of the lettuce also gave McDonald pause.
“From my understanding, (the) project used ‘bagged salad,’” McDonald said. “I am assuming this means it was already washed. The fact that they added salad juice and salmonella after it had already been bagged and washed really just shows how important it is to not cross-contaminate cleaned product.”
The researchers, as a result of their findings, suggested people eat bagged salads as soon as possible after purchase to minimize risk. They wrote in a question-and-answer supplement to the release that they no longer keep their bagged salads in the refrigerator longer than one day.
“Ridiculous recommendation,” Taylor said in his e-mail. “For 30 years consumers have enjoyed hundreds of millions of bagged salads weekly with great benefit to their health and wellbeing.”
Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, also disagreed with the recommendation.
“People should always follow the instructions, including best-by dates, on packages, mainly so that they experience the best quality product,” McEntire said in an e-mail. “People shouldn’t be afraid to keep salad in their refrigerators for the full duration of the shelf life.”
She may mean use-by dates.
Suslow described the study as another piece of the puzzle in trying to find long-term solutions for food safety issues, but he was not impressed by it.
“Sort of generating a lot of additional concern and fear without any real basis for changing what (is) sort of standard practice isn’t necessarily helpful,” Suslow said. “Could hurt the category, but probably no more so than other things such as those instances when there are outbreaks or recalls.
“I think consumers understand that there’s no such thing as zero risk,” Suslow said (smartest thing anyone said in this story). “They understand and appreciate the convenience of packaged salads with multiple ingredients with very healthy mixed leafy greens, and that’s how the category has grown.”
TSEs are a group of diseases that affect the brain and nervous system of humans and animals. With the exception of Classical BSE, there is no scientific evidence that other TSEs can be transmitted to humans.
A low number of BSE cases in cattle were detected in EU Member States, none of which entered the food chain.
Some of the main findings of the report are:
Five cases of BSE in cattle have been reported in the EU, out of about 1.4 million animals tested.
641 cases of scrapie in sheep (out of 319,638 tested) and 1,052 in goats have been reported (out of 135,857 tested) in the EU.
This report provides results on data collected by all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland for 2015 on the occurrence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy
The research is cool, but to me it culminates 16 years of Chapman becoming a better researcher.
I had a hand in the idea for the paper, but Chapman and his team did all the work.
I edited some stuf.
I was reminded last night of all the youthful energy me, and Chapman and Blaine and Lisa and Brae and Katie and Sarah and the reintroduced Carol – had when we did the bulk of our creative work.
Sorta like the Stones 68-72.
And yet that was the most turmoil in my life, as I went through a painful divorce, separation from kids, an interesting girlfriend and finally meeting Amy a few years later.
My line is graduate students should be able to bail their supervisor out of jail or drive me to the airport when (I) threatened with arrest.
Sorta like the Stones 68-72.
This is Chapman’s moment to shine, and although barfblog.com was named the number 1 food safety blog by someone pushing something today, it don’t matter much.
Often Chapman and I will send an e-mail to each other about some obscure reference in a post, with the comment, we only write for each other.
And the over 75,000 direct subscribers in over 70 countries.
Well done Chapman et al., couldn’t be prouder.
You too Blaine.
Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers
Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, powellfoodsafety.com
Journal of Food Protection
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.
That’s my response to people who ask about the proportionally high rates of foodborne illness in lettuce and other leafy greens eaten raw.
I like spinach – in a lasagna or stir-fry – but not raw.
Raw is risky.
There’s a bunch of new findings on foodborne pathogens and leafy greens which are summarized below.
In the sphere of public conversation, it is notable the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, the group formed after the 2006 E. coli-in-spinach outbreak that killed four and sickened at least 200 in the U.S. – has been once again silent on any research or outbreaks that associate risk with greens.
The scientists have discovered that juices released from damaged leaves also had the effect of enhancing the virulence of the pathogen, potentially increasing its ability to cause infection in the consumer.
The research is led by Dr Primrose Freestone of the University’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and PhD student Giannis Koukkidis, who has been funded by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) i-case Studentship.
Their research investigates novel methods of preventing food poisoning pathogens from attaching to the surface of salad leaves to help producers improve food safety for consumers.
This latest study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that juices from damaged leaves in bagged spinach and mixed salad increased Salmonella pathogen growth 2400-fold over a control group and also enhanced their adherence to surfaces and overall virulence, or capacity to cause disease.
Dr Freestone said: “Salad leaves are cut during harvesting and we found that even microliters of the juices (less than 1/200th of a teaspoon) which leach from the cut-ends of the leaves enabled Salmonella to grow in water, even when it was refrigerated. These juices also helped the Salmonella to attach itself to the salad leaves so strongly that vigorous washing could not remove the bacteria, and even enabled the pathogen to attach to the salad bag container.
“This strongly emphasizes the need for salad leaf growers to maintain high food safety standards as even a few Salmonella cells in a salad bag at the time of purchase could become many thousands by the time a bag of salad leaves reaches its use by date, even if kept refrigerated. Even small traces of juices released from damaged leaves can make the pathogen grow better and become more able to cause disease.
“It also serves as a reminder to consume a bagged salad as soon as possible after it is opened. We found that once opened, the bacteria naturally present on the leaves also grew much faster even when kept cold in the fridge.
“This research did not look for evidence of Salmonella in bagged salads. Instead, it examined how Salmonella grows on salad leaves when they are damaged.”
Leafy green and other salad vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, providing vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Ready to eat prepared salads are particularly popular, are widely consumed and so of significant economic importance. Over recent years there has however been a number of outbreaks associated with fresh salad produce contaminated with Salmonella and E. coli both in the USA and Europe.
This has triggered considerable interest in effective strategies for controls and interventions measures both in UK industry, the EU and key research funding bodies.
Despite a number of published reports on improving the microbiological safety of salad leaf production, very few studies have investigated the behavior of Salmonella once the leaves have been bagged.
Giannis said: “Anything which enhances adherence of foodborne pathogens to leaf surfaces also increases their persistence and ability to resist removal, such as during salad washing procedures. Even more worrying for those who might eat a Salmonella contaminated salad was the finding that proteins required for the virulence (capacity to cause infection) of the bacteria were increased when the Salmonella came into contact with the salad leaf juices. “Preventing enteric pathogen contamination of fresh salad produce would not only reassure consumers but will also benefit the economy due to fewer days lost through food poisoning. We are now working hard to find ways of preventing salad-based infections.”
No comment from the LGMA.
While this research may make it seem like pre-packaged salads pose a scary risk, the researchers themselves were quick to say they still eat bagged salads. But they make sure to look for packages that have appropriate use-by dates and crisp-looking leaves. They stay away from salads that have mushy, slimy-looking greens, or bags with accumulated salad juice at the bottom. And they make sure to eat the greens within one day of purchase.
“Our project does not indicate any increased risk to eating leafy salads, but it does provide a better understanding of the factors contributing to food poisoning risks,” said Freestone.
If you feel like it, you can wash greens that have already been pre-washed by manufacturers just before eating, but Freestone says this doesn’t have much of an effect on the salmonella bacteria that may already be attached or internalized by the leaves.
Foodborne disease outbreaks associated with fresh produce irrigated with contaminated water are a constant threat to consumer health. In this study, the impact of irrigation water on product safety from different food production systems (commercial to small-scale faming and homestead gardens) was assessed.
Hygiene indicators (total coliforms, Escherichia coli), and selected foodborne pathogens (Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli O157:H7) of water and leafy green vegetables were analyzed. Microbiological parameters of all irrigation water (except borehole) exceeded maximum limits set by the Department of Water Affairs for safe irrigation water. Microbial parameters for leafy greens ranged from 2.94 to 4.31 log CFU/g (aerobic plate counts) and 1 to 5.27 log MPN/100g (total coliforms and E. coli). Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 were not detected in all samples tested but L. monocytogenes was present in irrigation water (commercial and small-scale farm, and homestead gardens).
This study highlights the potential riskiness of using polluted water for crop production in different agricultural settings.
No comment from LGMA.
Adaptive response of Listeria monocytogenes to heat, salinity and low pH, after habituation on cherry tomatoes and lettuce leaves
Sofia V. Poimenidou, Danai-Natalia Chatzithoma, George-John Nychas, Panagiotis N. Skandamis
Pathogens found on fresh produce may encounter low temperatures, high acidity and limited nutrient availability. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of habituation of Listeria monocytogenes on cherry tomatoes or lettuce leaves on its subsequent response to inhibitory levels of acid, osmotic and heat stress.
Habituation was performed by inoculating lettuce coupons, whole cherry tomatoes or tryptic soy broth (TSB) with a three-strains composite of L. monocytogenes, which were further incubated at 5°C for 24 hours or 5 days. Additionally, cells grown overnight in TSB supplemented with 0.6% yeast extract (TSBYE) at 30°C were used as control cells. Following habituation, L. monocytogenes cells were harvested and exposed to: (i) pH 3.5 adjusted with lactic acid, acetic acid or hydrochloric acid (HCl), and pH 1.5 (HCl) for 6 h; (ii) 20% NaCl and (iii) 60°C for 150 s.
Results showed that tomato-habituated L. monocytogenes cells were more tolerant (P < 0.05) to acid or osmotic stress than those habituated on lettuce, and habituation on both foods resulted in more stress resistant cells than prior growth in TSB. On the contrary, the highest resistance to heat stress (P < 0.05) was exhibited by the lettuce-habituated L. monocytogenes cells followed by TSB-grown cells at 5°C for 24 h, whereas tomato-habituated cells were highly sensitized. Prolonged starvation on fresh produce (5 days vs. 24 h) increased resistance to osmotic and acid stress, but reduced thermotolerance, regardless of the pre-exposure environment (i.e., tomatoes, lettuce or TSB).
These results indicate that L. monocytogenes cells habituated on fresh produce at low temperatures might acquire resistance to subsequent antimicrobial treatments raising important food safety implications.
No comment from LGMA.
Efficacy of post-harvest rinsing and bleach disinfection of E. coli O157:H7 on spinach leaf surfaces
Attachment and detachment kinetics of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from baby spinach leaf epicuticle layers were investigated using a parallel plate flow chamber. Mass transfer rate coefficients were used to determine the impact of water chemistry and common bleach disinfection rinses on the removal and inactivation of the pathogen. Attachment mass transfer rate coefficients generally increased with ionic strength. Detachment mass transfer rate coefficients were nearly the same in KCl and AGW rinses; however, the detachment phase lasted longer in KCl than AGW (18 ± 4 min and 4 ± 2 min, respectively), indicating that the ions present during attachment play a significant role in the cells’ ability to remain attached. Specifically, increasing bleach rinse concentration by two orders of magnitude was found to increase the detachment mass transfer rate coefficient by 20 times (from 5.7 ± 0.7 × 10−11 m/s to 112.1 ± 26.8 × 10−11 m/s for 10 ppb and 1000 ppb, respectively), and up to 88 ± 4% of attached cells remained alive.
The spinach leaf texture was incorporated within a COMSOL model of disinfectant concentration gradients, which revealed nearly 15% of the leaf surface is exposed to almost 1000 times lower concentration than the bulk rinse solution.
No comment from LGMA.
Development of growth and survival models for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes during non-isothermal time-temperature profiles in leafy greens
Leafy greens contaminated with Salmonella enterica have been linked to large number of illnesses in many countries in recent years. Listeria monocytogenes is also a pathogen of concern for leafy greens because of its prevalence in the growing and processing environment and its ability to grow at refrigeration temperatures. Experimental data for the growth and survival of S. enterica and L. monocytogenes under different conditions and storage temperatures were retrieved from published studies. Predictive models were developed using the three-phase linear model as a primary growth model and square-root model to calculate specific growth rate (ln CFU g−1 h−1) at different temperatures (°C). The square-root model for S. enterica was calculated as μ = (0.020(Temperature+0.57))2. The square-root model for L. monocytogenes was fitted as μ = (0.023(Temperature-0.60))2. The growth-survival model for S. enterica and growth model for L. monocytogenes were validated using several dynamic time-temperature profiles during the production and supply chain of leafy greens. The models from this study will be useful for future microbial risk assessments and predictions of behavior of S. enterica and L. monocytogenes in the leafy greens production and supply chain.
No comment from LGMA.
Is there a relation between the microscopic leaf morphology and the association of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 with iceberg lettuce leaves?
Journal of Food Protection, Number 10, October 2016, pp. 1656-1662, pp. 1784-1788(5)
I Van der Linden, M Eriksson, M Uyttendaele, F Devlieghere
To prevent contamination of fresh produce with enteric pathogens, more insight into mechanisms that may influence the association of these pathogens with fresh produce is needed.
In this study, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella were chosen as model pathogens, and fresh cut iceberg lettuce was chosen as a model fresh produce type. The morphological structure of iceberg lettuce leaves (stomatal density and length of cell margins per leaf area) was quantified by means of leaf peels and light microscopy of leaves at different stages of development (outer, middle, and inner leaves of the crop) on both leaf sides (abaxial and adxial) and in three leaf regions (top, center, and bottom). The morphology of the top region of the leaves was distinctly different from that of the center and base, with a significantly higher stomatal density (up to five times more stomata), different cell shape, and longer cell margins (two to three times longer). Morphological differences between the same regions of the leaves at different stages of development were smaller or nonsignificant. An attachment assay with two attenuated E. coli O157:H7 strains (84-24h11-GFP and BRMSID 188 GFP) and two Salmonella strains (serovars Thompson and Typhimurium) was performed on different regions of the middle leaves. Our results confirmed earlier reports that these pathogens have a higher affinity for the base of the lettuce leaf than the top. Differences of up to 2.12 log CFU/g were seen (E. coli O157:H7 86-24h11GFP). Intermediate attachment occurred in the central region.
The higher incidence of preferential bacterial attachment sites such as stomata and cell margins or grooves could not explain the differences observed in the association of the tested pathogens with different regions of iceberg lettuce leaves.
No comment from LGMA.
The N.Y Times reportsthe one place the one place the Salinas Valley’s bounty of antioxidants does not often appear is on the tables of the migrant workers who harvest it.
More than a third of the children in the Salinas City Elementary School District are homeless; overall diabetes rates are rising and projected to soar; and 85 percent of farmworkers in the valley are overweight or obese, partly because unhealthy food is less costly, said Marc B. Schenker, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who studies the health of farmworkers.
The 1984 movie Starman is one of my favorites, not because of the actors, who are all consistently great, but because of what it says about humanity and ice hockey (at least in mythologies): You are at your very best when things are worst.
The results of the U.S. election feel like awaiting the results of a group project in school: Amy and I did our part, but I think the rest of youse might have really fucked this up (modified from facebook).
What can be done to make this better?
Sure the Canadian immigration site has been collapsing all night, Australia is a long ways away, and those countries have their own problems.
But for now, at this moment, I’ll go back to the humanity of Starman, and tomorrow worry about how I will chat with my five daughters, the girls I coach in hockey, and people generally around the world who are writing and saying, WTF? How did a lying, misogynist, racist, financial idiot huckster and game show host win the U.S. presidency?
Mark Shermin: Have people from your world been here before?
Starman: Before? Yes. We are interested in your species.
Mark Shermin: You mean you’re some kind of anthropologist? Is that what you’re doing here? Just checking us out?
Starman: You are a strange species. Not like any other. And you’d be surprised how many there are. Intelligent but savage. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? [Shermin nods] You are at your very best when things are worst.