Trump, castes, and microbial food safety

Roberto A. Ferdman and Christopher Ingraham, reporters for the Washington Post, write there are few things as regrettable as a steak well done.

idiocracy_thumbCooking meat to the point of leathery toughness dulls the flavor, among many other things. “Forgive my snobbishness, but well-done meat is dry and flavorless,” Mark Bittman wrote in 2007, imploring people to serve hamburgers “rare, or at most medium rare.”

What Bittman actually said was, “if you grind your own beef, you can make a mixture and taste it raw,” adding that, “To reassure the queasy, there’s little difference, safety-wise, between raw beef and rare beef: salmonella is killed at 160 degrees, and rare beef is cooked to 125 degrees.”

This is food safety idiocracy: Using Bittman to prop up an argument is silly.

The authors continue by commenting on the gastro habits of Donald Trump, who apparently likes his steak well-done.

This, more than anything else Trump has ssaid or done, brings him into ridicule.

A 2014 survey by 538 found that fully one-quarter of Americans said they liked their steak done “well” or “medium-well.”  Is this Trump’s base? Hard to tell, since there weren’t enough steak-eaters in the 538 survey to break out demographic groups. But we can turn instead to a 2012 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey that asked 1,000 Americans how they liked their burgers done.

The results shock the conscience. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they liked their burgers well done, making that the most popular response. Another 29 percent liked medium burgers, 19 percent prefer medium-rare, and only 4 percent cook their burgers rare.

Digging into the demographics, a few interesting patterns stand out. First, preference for overcooked meat is strongly correlated with age. Forty-six percent of senior citizens prefer their burgers well done, compared to only 27 percent of those aged 18 to 29.

The less-educated are also more likely to prefer well done burgers – 47 percent of those with a high school education or less like their burgers well done, compared to only 25 percent of those with a college or advanced degree.

barfblog.Stick It InThere’s a similar relationship with income, with people in higher-income households less likely to overcook their burgers than people in low-income households.

These are the same demographics as anti-vaxxers, raw-milk connoisseurs and anti-GMO types.

And surveys still suck.

Hamburger should be cooked to 165F, steak 140F, as verified with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

No amount of flowery put-downs or caste-style insults will change the safety data.

Thermometers an afterthought: UK wants views on rare burgers advice

The UK Food Standards Agency has made a begrudgingly acknowledgement to thermometers, but still insists on color to tell if burgers are done.

barfblog.Stick It InThe growing popularity of burgers served pink has led the FSA to develop the advice on rare burgers. It is aimed at helping businesses meet consumer demand for rare burgers while keeping customers protected. Burgers that aren’t thoroughly cooked can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning if the right controls aren’t in place.

In September 2015, the FSA Board agreed a number of controls that food businesses serving burgers pink will need to have in place to demonstrate that they are maintaining customer safety. The new advice sets the options out and they include:

  • sourcing the meat only from establishments which have specific controls in place to minimise the risk of contamination of meat intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked;
  • ensuring that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working;
  • sStrict temperature control to prevent growth of any bugs and appropriate preparation and cooking procedures;
  • notifying their local authority that burgers that aren’t thoroughly cooked are being served by the business; and,
  • providing advice to consumers, for example on menus, regarding the additional risk.

chipotle.BSThe draft advice is for caterers and local authorities only and the FSA’s long-standing advice to consumers is unchanged: burgers prepared at home should be cooked thoroughly until they are steaming hot throughout, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat left inside. If using a temperature probe or cooking thermometer, make sure the middle of the burgers reaches a temperature of 70⁰C for 2 minutes.

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

Everyone’s got a camera: California uni receives A rating after alleged raw chicken is served

The Cal State Fullerton Gastronome maintained an “A” food safety rating following an inspection conducted after reports of undercooked chicken.

According to the CSUF Food Facility Inspection Reports, conducted by the Department of Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety, Inspector Justine Baldacci carried out the Feb. 24 inspection three days after students lodged complaints.

Baldacci also performed the Gastronome’s last inspection on July 28, 2015. The dining facility received a score of 95. The department scheduled a reinspection date for Nov. 20, 2015. However, no inspection report for November was filed on the CSUF Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety website.

The most recent inspection report states that Baldacci inspected the facility following a report of allegedly undercooked chicken served to a customer.

cooked.chickenThe inspection found that “the processes, procedures and record keeping for batch cooking were reviewed with management and found to be adequate.”

The incident that caused the complaint took place Sunday, Feb. 21, when students said the chicken they were served for dinner was undercooked.

Elana Stein, 18, posted a picture of the chicken she said was undercooked on the Gastronome’s Facebook page and sent a complaint with the pictures of the alleged raw chicken to Rhonda Robinson, manager of the Gastronome.

Color is a lousy indicator of safety. Use a thermometer and stick it in.

barfblog.Stick It In

Depends: Does slow cooking beef roasts get rid of E. coli O157?

Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in beef roasts cooked under selected cooking conditions was evaluated.

eye.round.roast.slow.cookerEye of round roasts were each inoculated at five sites in the central plane with a five-strain cocktail of E. coli O157:H7 at ca. 6.3 log CFU per site and cooked to center temperatures of 56 to 71°C in a convection oven set at 120, 140, 180, or 200°C, in a conventional oven set at 120 or 210°C, and in a slow cooker set on high or low.

Prime rib roasts were each inoculated at 10 sites throughout the roast with the same E. coli O157:H7 cocktail at ca. 6.6 log CFU per site and cooked in the conventional oven set at 140 or 180°C to center temperatures of 58 to 71°C.

The number of sites yielding E. coli O157:H7 after cooking decreased with increasing roast center temperature for the eye of round roasts cooked in the convection oven or in the slow cooker at a given setting, but this trend was not apparent for roasts of either type cooked in the conventional oven. Reductions of E. coli O157 in both types of roasts were generally less at the center than at other locations, particularly locations closer to the surface of the meat. When eye of round roasts were cooked to the same center temperature in the convection oven, the reduction of E. coli O157:H7 increased with increasing oven temperature up to 180°C and decreased after that. The reduction of E. coli O157:H7 in replicate roasts cooked under conditions in which the organism was not eliminated during cooking mostly differed by >1 log CFU per site. However, E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered from any of the inoculation sites when eye of round roasts were cooked to 65, 60, 60, or 63°C in the convection oven set at 120, 140, 180, and 200°C, respectively; cooked to 63 or 71°C in the conventional oven set at 120 and 210°C, respectively; or cooked to 63°C in the slow cooker set at high or low.

For prime rib roasts, E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered from any of the inoculation sites in roasts cooked to 71 or 58°C in the conventional oven set at 140 and 180°C, respectively.

Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in beef roasts cooked in conventional or convection ovens or in a slow cooker under selected conditions

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 2, February 2016, pp. 184-344, pp. 205-212(8)

Gill, C. O.; Devos, J.; Badoni, M.; Yang, X.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000002/art00003

Steaming hot: Campylobacter reduction in UK

Still no mention of thermometers which makes this Agency not so-science based.

chicken.thermThe Food Standards Agency reports results for the second quarter of testing, from October to December 2015, continue to show a decrease in the number of birds with the highest level of contamination from the same months last year. These most heavily contaminated birds, carrying more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g), are the focus of the current target agreed by industry, which is equivalent to no more than 7% of chickens at retail having the highest levels of contamination. Research has shown that reducing the proportion of birds in this category will have the biggest positive impact on public health.

The latest data show 11% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination, down from 19% in October to December 2014. Campylobacter was present on 59% of chicken samples, down from 74% in the same months of the previous year.

In this second quarter of the FSA’s second survey, 966 samples of fresh whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging have been tested. The chickens were bought from large UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The survey commenced sampling in July 2015.

The data continue to show an improvement from the previous year. Interventions, including improved biosecurity, SonoSteam, and the trimming of neck skins, introduced by some retailers to reduce levels of campylobacter, may be helping to deliver the improved results. The trimming of the neck skin, the most highly contaminated skin area, means chickens are carrying less campylobacter. The results of this intervention, while making chickens safer, mean comparisons to the first year’s survey may potentially be more difficult in future quarters as most samples from the previous year will have analysed more neck skin. The FSA will review the impact of this successful intervention to ensure the survey results remain robust.

The FSA has been testing chickens for campylobacter since February 2014 and publishing the results as part of its campaign to bring together the whole chicken supply chain to tackle the problem. Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, making an estimated 280,000 people ill every year.

camp.reduction.uk.feb.16The FSA is pressing the industry to play its part in reducing the levels of campylobacter contamination at each production stage to as low a level as possible before raw chicken reaches the consumer. Chicken is safe as long as consumers follow good kitchen practice:

Cover and chill raw chicken: Cover raw chicken and store on the bottom shelf of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as Campylobacter.

Don’t wash raw chicken: Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including Campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.

Wash hands and used utensils:  Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of Campylobacter by avoiding cross contamination.

Cook chicken thoroughly:  Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

Year 2 of a UK-wide survey of campylobacter contamination on fresh chickens at retail (July 2015 to July 2016)

This 12-month survey investigates the prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chilled chickens and their packaging. The survey aims to examine more than 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The two sets of results from quarter 1 and 2 (sampling period July to December 2015) are available.

Crappy bathrooms in NY’s JFK

It was Australia Day, 33 C, so why not coach an exhibition hockey game.

skate.like.a.girlWe travelled to Toowoomba yesterday, about 100 minutes from Brisbane, where one of my fellow coaches lives, and put the younger kids on a makeshift ice surface to drum up local interest in the sport (they’re trying to build an arena). http://www.chrismccooey.photography

Afterwards, many of the families went to a park, where the one grilling had remembered to bring his tip-sensitive digital thermometer, and another asked me about the bathroom.

I explained how 29 years ago, when I was editor of the Ontarion, the University of Guelph student paper, my first story in my new role was to rate the bathrooms at local bars.

It cost the paper thousands in lost advertising revenue because many of the bars didn’t like the results. The story was popular, and we made up the lost revenue in no time.

Christine Negroni writes in The Huffington Post that women arriving on oneworld flights into New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport have one word for the condition of the bathrooms in Terminal 8, “Ewwww.”

hockey.toowoombaKisha Burgos stopped at the bathroom in the baggage claim area and was shocked to see paper-strewn floors, filthy toilets and empty and broken paper dispensers in the stalls. “It’s bad,” she told me comparing it to the airports she visited in in Bangkok, Vietnam and Laos on her recent five week trip.

“Everything was really clean,” she said of the bathrooms in places one might not expect to find them. 

Airport workers know the secret is to use the toilets on the departure level because passengers are better cared for there. Keeping them happy encourages them to shop and dine while waiting to board their flights. Arriving passengers on the other hand, are in a hurry and on their way out.

The most customer-friendly airport is Singapore’s Changi where every bathroom has a touch screen survey enabling users to immediately register their satisfaction (is that before or after washing their hands?).

I reported back to the parent the bathroom had the essentials – running water, soap and paper towel (which isn’t that common in Australia).

As a coach, I like that – we had the basics covered.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/530692596955113/1090594804298220/?notif_t=group_activity

 

Chipotle should study hockey if it wants to improve food safety

I’ll get caught up with news soon enough, and there were no food safety issues I am aware of at the Melt the Ice hockey tournament we attended for the last four days.

dp.mti.minors.jan.16(Although I am promoting food safety, one tip-sensitive digital thermometer at a time).

The under-9 kids went undefeated (6-0) and the atom majors won silver.

Good effort for 95F days, while many readers are figuring out how to clear their snow.

Many thanks to Rebecca, our team manager, and all the parents who got up at 4:30 a.m. for the last four days to be at the rink (I don’t make schedules, I just coach).

And kids, great effort.

dp.bec.sorenne.mti.jan.16

Breakfast in Brisbane

Chapman can keep his turkey breast — although it’s a good idea and I do something similar with whole chickens (note to self — BBQ that chicken for dinner tonight and ensure it’s done with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer reading of 165 F).

This is breakfast in Brisbane: mango, kiwi, watermelon, strawberry and passion fruit, along with some yoghurt and homemade granola.

There are benefits to living in a sub-tropical climate.

fruit.breakfast.dp.jan.16

Brits still don’t know to use thermometers: Why you shouldn’t order a medium rare burger when eating out

I like my burgers at 165 F.

I don’t know what a medium-rare burger means, and neither do most of the people ordering and preparing hamburgers.

finger-testThere’s no definition, other than BS visual cues or B finger touching, or BS guesswork because, “we’ve always done it this way and never made anyone sick.”

More BS.

Worse is when the BS is coming from a publicly funded so-called science-based food safety agency – like the one in the UK.

According to the Mirror, experts say ordering a medium rare burger could contain dangerous bacteria that may lead to food poisoning or worse, be potentially fatal.

This is because bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and E. coli, live on the outside of meat so searing steaks and cuts of beef and lamb would kill anything harmful, even when it’s still pink inside (unless it had been needle tenderized).

But as burgers are minced up those bugs that were on the outside are then on the inside and therefore should be cooked thoroughly, experts say.

The revelations were made as part of new four-part Channel 4 documentary Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, which explores the secrets of eating out.

Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology and leading expert of food poisoning, spoke to the programme and said he wants undercooked burgers banned.

“The problem with rare burgers is that you might fall ill from eating a bug that’s contained in the rare burger.

barfblog.Stick It In“You only have to eat about one bacterium to get a potentially lethal infection.”

In the episode aired tonight, the programme tested meat from some of the country’s top burger chains, with some shocking results.

A burger from Byron, a trendy gourmet burger restaurant, was found to contain Listeria innocua, the least dangerous strain of the bug but on rare occasions it can kill.

The chain said it was something they would be investigating.

A spokesman for Byron said ‘We have a comprehensive food management system to assure the safety of the food we serve.

‘We are proud of the quality of our beef and the rigour of these systems.”

You can say that with a straight face? Then show the burger-consuming public what the rigourous system actually is, instead of talking like a PR flunky.

It came after the Food Standards Agency released guidelines advising chains to warn about harmful bacteria.

The advice, released in September 2015, said restaurants should provide warnings on menus to vulnerable groups, like children, the elderly and pregnant women.

It also said only well done burgers should be served to children, especially the very young.

The programme sent in two young people, 11-year-old Abbie and 15-year-old Jamie, to three top burger chain restaurants to test the policy with some shocking results.

The first restaurant they tried was Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) where they were given no warnings on the menu and served a medium rare burger.

Next they went to Byron where the menu did contain a warning but staff still served the youngsters undercooked meat.

Finally they went to Honest Burgers where there was also no caution on the menu and the kids managed to get their hands on what appeared to be the rarest serving of the three.

GBK said that as of January 2016 the new FSA advice would be put on our menus, while Honest Burgers said it would add it on its next print run.

More BS.

Coolers not working at Mimi’s Café in Georgia

Line coolers at Mimi’s Cafe in Buford were not working properly during a recent routine inspection, and the air temperature along hazardous food products were too warm.

bufordThe Gwinnett County health inspector said a line drawer cooler across from the grill had a temperature of 48.9 degrees, and the cooler under the grill measured 54 degrees. A Mimi’s manager had already notified the corporate office about the coolers.

The restaurant staff had to toss out several food products such as tuna, sausage, cheese, ham, salmon, lettuce, chicken, meatloaf and au jus for the French dip beef sandwiches.

The inspector also noted built-in thermometers in the line coolers were not working, and no other thermometers were placed inside the coolers to measure air temperature.

An employee cracked eggs into a pan then handled peppers and onions inside a cooler without changing gloves and washing hands.

Food was stored under a condensation leak in the freezer, and boxes and plastic containers had ice buildup. The open food packages were discarded.