Shopping for safety, consumers left wondering at Coles

Talk less, do more.

That’s what I’m telling 5-year-old Sorenne as she explains for the eighth time she’s about to go get her shoes on, so we can walk to school.

And after 20 years of food safety stuff, it’s my go-to response to any corporate head of borat.chickenfood safety.

I understand that talking has a role, that meetings have a role, but only if they translate into tangible outcomes. With food safety, for me, that has always meant, will fewer people barf?

A month ago, Amy proclaimed, based on her acquired food safety knowledge, that she may have sickened Sorenne after a serving of frozen chicken thingies from Coles (that’s a supermarket chain in Australia).

The label did not indicate whether they were fully cooked and frozen, or frozen raw.

Raw, frozen not-ready-to-eat entrees purchased in retail and prepared in the home have been identified as a significant risk factor for salmonellosis. From 1998 to 2008, eight separate outbreaks have implicated undercooked chicken nuggets, chicken strips, and stuffed chicken entrees.

I guess someone other than my mother and Ben and Amy read what I write, because someone from Coles e-mailed me in response to the Jan. post to say: “Kansas State’s loss is Australia’s gain and it would be great to talk to you to 1) answer your query on nuggets (apologies it took so long, that’s not acceptable and we will put that right) and 2) to explore opportunities to get your unique insight into Australian retail and your experience’s so far.”

We talked.

He said him and Jackie Healing, who spoke today at the Global Food Safety Initiative shindig in California, would love to come and visit with me and go through a local Coles on a food safety tour.

Those chicken nuggets? Flash fried so the breading sticks, but not cooked to a microbiologically safe temperature. Nothing on the label, no cooking instructions for microbiological safety. How would a consumer know?

I never heard back.

That’s normal; lots of talk, little action. I’ll go hang out with my 5-year-old.

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820


Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, coles.chicken.breast.nuggets.jan_.14-225x300which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.


Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.


Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.


Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

 

Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria icarly.chicken.cell.handsestablished by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

Stick it in: thermometers, not color, required to safely cook pheasant

Dean Ralph likes to hunt pheasant in Kansas. He likes to grill them as well.

After years of hearing me go on about tip-sensitive digital thermometers and their role in producing safe food, he finally got an automated contraption that hooks up to his BBQ.

The next time I saw him, he was gushing about how easier it was cooking with a thermometer and how he was a better cook for it (people tend to celebrity.chefsovercook to compensate for pink meat).

Dean Ralph could teach the folks at My Kitchen Rules a few pointers – MKR for those in the know – another in a long line of terrible cooking shows offering terrible food safety advice (not you, Alton Brown), that airs Sunday nights in Australia.

I don’t watch. But apparently the folks at safefood Queensland do, and decided to be witty Monday morning by taking to the twittersphere to proclaim:

SFPQ
Last night’s team on #MKR learnt a great lesson while cooking their pheasant. Juices should run clear with no pink meat visible. #foodsafety
2/24/14, 9:45 AM

Followed by:

 

 

 

SFPQ
When they saw blood after cooking for 15min, they wisely put it back in oven. Serving food poisoning is a good way to get a low score. #MKR
2/24/14, 9:46 AM

So I twittered:

barfblog
Fail. Use a thermometer “@SFPQ: Last night’s team on #MKR cooking pheasant. Juices should run clear with no pink meat visible. #foodsafety”
2/24/14, 9:55 AM

They wrote back:

SFPQ
Correct @barfblog if u have one. But a good guideline is no pink should be visible & juices run clear. If in doubt, cook it for longer.
2/24/14, 10:16 AM

To which I responded:

barfblog
Fail; color is a lousy indicator “@SFPQ: Correct @barfblog if u have one. But a good guideline is no pink visible & juices run clear.”
2/24/14, 10:47 AM

Several other food safety types jumped in to the twit-war, reinforcing that thermometers were indeed the best way to ensure microbiologically safe food. An hour later, safefood Queensland changed its tune.

SFPQ
Juices running clear & no visible pink is a starting point but use a #thermometer to make sure yr poultry & meats are cooked. #foodsafety
2/24/14, 11:48 AM

And then:

SFPQ
Meat thermometers take the guess work out of #cooking. It’ll be the best thing you’ll invest in for yr health and safety. #foodsafety
2/24/14, 11:50 AM

A five-minute search using Google yielded revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking pheasant to 165F (74C) hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175and letting the bird sit for 15 minutes. USDA states, “Cooked game meats can be pink even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.”

So can chicken and hamburger and pork. Color of the finished product is variable, primarily due to the age of the animal at harvest and other biochemical factors that are in a lot of references, readily available on barfblog.com, but safefoodQueensland can do the job itself.

The appropriately named BBQ Down Under recommends “a target temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 75°C (167°F) – check it using a thermometer probe. Put the probe in approximately 3/4 of the way into the breast meat, making sure you don’t go too far and hit bone.”

In Canada, the recommended temp is 82C (180F), but that’s another discussion. At least the U.S., and more recently Canada, can, on this issue, keep a straight face when they say they use science-based decision making.

safefood Queensland, you can do better, especially when your website has statements like:

“Raw chicken and poultry can carry bacteria, which is responsible for more cases of food poisoning than any other pathogen.”

Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This barfblog.Stick It Inresearch reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

6 sick from chicken liver pate in Oregon, Washington

When I think Oregon, I tend not to think UK. But these regions are apparently bound by a passion for undercooked chiken liver pate resulting in Campylobacter outbreaks.

Since December 2013, Oregon health officials have been looking into the source of campylobacteriosis that has sickened six individuals in Oregon, Washington and Ohio. All cases report eating undercooked or raw chicken livers; most cases consumed chicken pate_beet_dp_mar_12livers prepared as pâté. The cases in Ohio ate chicken liver pâté while visiting Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority is working with the Washington Department of Health, USDA and CDC.

This is the second reported multistate outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of undercooked chicken liver in the United States.

Australia has had its own outbreak.

Chicken livers should be considered a risky food. A recent study found up to 77 percent of chicken livers tested were positive for Campylobacter. Washing chicken livers is not enough; chicken livers can be contaminated on the inside and on the outside, which is why thorough cooking is the only way to kill bacteria in contaminated livers.

(Hint: don’t wash them, you’re just spreading Campylobacter around your kitchen.)

Pâté made with chicken liver is often undercooked to preserve texture. It can be difficult to tell if pâté is cooked thoroughly because livers are often partially cooked then blended with other ingredients and chilled. Pâté prepared at a USDA inspected facility is considered safe to eat because in order to pass inspection the livers must be cooked to a proper temperature.

The 2009 FDA Food Code states that restaurants must inform customers about the risk of eating undercooked food; the warnings are often included at the bottom of restaurant menus.

Was it thermometer-verified 165? Were there sprouts on it? Obama gets a burger

President Obama escaped the White HouseCoupe Burger.menu with 5 young people and they hit up a very cool, neighborhood burger joint, according to TMZ, with almost no advanced notice. The 5 young people are all working on the Affordable Care Act.

At the time we posted this, they were all still at The Coupe in Columbia Heights.
We’re told Obama is enjoying a Coupe Burger — “Our classic with fried onion rings, sauteed mushrooms and sharp cheddar.  And get this … we were told fries, but turns out the side is spinach.

obama.burger.menu.jan.14

How do you know that hamburger is done?

The family along with a friend went to Palm Beach on Friday.

hamburger.done.jan.14Not that Palm Beach, but the one on the Gold Coast (Australia) about an hour away.

After acting like tourists and getting sunburnt, we grabbed some lunch. I usually order what the kid wants, and eat the leftovers, a strategy I learned from having four previous kids.

She wanted a hamburger (right, exactly as shown) so I asked the purveyor at the takeaway, how do you know the hamburger is done?

She said people complain if it’s pink, so they cook it well.

Color is a lousy indicator. Stick it in.

barfblog.Stick It In

Christmas in Australia, feast of 7 fishes; 36-hr Sydney Fish Market marathon

I’m not catholic, I’m not Italian, but our third annual feast of the seven fishes has occurred, in the afternoon, because some of us go to bed at 8 p.m. (it’s light at 4:15 a.m.)

The fish was cooked was to a tip-sensitive digital thermometer approved temperature, but the N.Y.Times wrote about it so that could ruin things.

I waited in line for 25 minutes to buy fish and chatted with some Brisbane elderlies who told me, you have to have prawns at Christmas in Aussie, and oh, doesn’t the weather in seafood.seven.fish.dec.13Toronto suck, once they recognized my accent.

I don’t miss winter.

Thousands of Sydneysiders are expected to snap up more than 650 tonnes of seafood from the Sydney Fish Market in the lead up to Christmas.

The Sydney Fish Market’s annual 36-hour seafood marathon kicked off on Monday morning and runs until 5pm (AEDT) on Tuesday.

Fish market general manager Bryan Skepper said he was expecting about 100,000 shoppers to purchase more than 650 tonnes of seafood during the period.

He was also predicting 120 tonnes of prawns and 70,000 dozen oysters to be shifted from the market floor.

Here’s what we got from our local fish monger: bay bugs, snapper, prawns, salmon, scallops, mud crab, tuna.

Tomorrow, bacon-wrapped scallops.

Hamburgers at Christmas in Australia

Christmas can be exhausting in Australia. There’s no Thanksgiving, little Halloween, and summer’s here, so everyone’s ready to party.

Match that with two Christmas concerts from different childcare outfits, and the birthday party tomorrow at the park, and I’m not sure how Amy is keeping ihamburger.pool.dec.13t together.

Tonight, to relieve some pressure, we ate at the pool after the swimming lessons, because every Aussie child must swim (and play hockey – the ice kind – but that’s my addition).

I got a burger and fries for me and Amy, and chicken thingies with fries for the kid.

No aioli or mayonnaise.

But I did ask the person who took two frozen patties and fried them up, how do you know when the hamburger is done.

She said she cuts the patty in half and looks at the color.

Uh-huh.

Color is a lousy indicator of safety, and my burger was not cut – not that it would matter.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in. That’s what I’ll be doing at the kid’s birthday party at the barbie in the park tomorrow.

barfblog.Stick It In

 

Get rid of piping hot advice? UK research call on effectiveness of surface treatment in reducing microbiological contamination

The UK Food Standards Agency says the undercooking of meat products, such as burgers and sausages, continues to be a significant concern, particularly for enforcement officers responsible for assessing the safety of practices used by food businesses. 

Meat products, such as burgers, have been associated with food poisoning and they can pose a risk of illness because of the way they are prepared if they are then ben-newundercooked. For example, with whole pieces of meat, bacterial contamination is usually present on the outer surfaces. Internal (deep muscle) contamination is unlikely unless the meat has been pierced. External contamination can become spread throughout the meat during mincing, such as in the preparation of burgers, kebabs, sausages and other products.

There are indications that consumers and caterers are showing a preference for serving burgers undercooked and in a variety of settings. Local authority enforcement officers are concerned about the risk posed by such practices. A number of bacterial hazards may be associated with meat of which verocytotoxin-producing E.coli and salmonella are considered to be the most important.

The aim of the project is to examine whether treating the external surfaces of different cuts of beef, lamb and venison with heat and/or organic acids is effective in reducing microbiological contamination. This would be both before and after these meats are made into comminuted (a process that breaks up the meat into smaller pieces) products such as burgers.

The work should include:

• a range of meat cuts from beef, lamb and venison, focusing on those cuts that would typically be used for the production of burgers;

• examining naturally contaminated meat, as well as samples spiked with pathogens, and include a range of heat and/or organic acid treatments; and,

• assessments both before and after the preparation of the meat into a range of comminuted products such as burgers, steak tartar, kebabs and sausages which may be served raw or lightly cooked.

Turkey on the table; praise be to Canadian Thanksgiving

I paid $9.50/kg for the Canadian Thanksgiving turkey we’ll be carving this Sunday afternoon (after reaching a thermometer-verified 165F or higher; I’m not one of those you-can’t-over-cook-a-turkey-that’s-what-the-gravy-is-for folks).

That’s about $4.50 a pound.

I told the butcher, one of the few to stock turkey (he also has crocodile and kangaroo) that in North America it would be aust.turkey.label_.12-225x300$0.99/pound. Market demand, I guess.

Turkey’s just not that big in Australia, even though we have dozens wandering the streets in our near-to-downtown Brisbane suburb.

The cooking instructions on the label are the same as last year – scientifically incorrect and suck. No safe cooking temperature, no thermometer advice, and says to wash the bird.

No one will be washing the bird in this house.

Last year we had about 30 people show up, and the locals were amazed by such a thing – a turkey.

Dr. Temple Grandin is featured in a video about the turkey industry designed to give the public a look at how the birds are raised, slaughtered and readied for Thanksgiving dinner.

The National Turkey Federation and the American Meat Institute paid for the video which features Grandin with a flock of 1,500 birds and takes the viewer all the way through the stunning and slaughter process.

I like the transparency. It undercuts any attempts at conspiracy theories.

But a 13-minute video? Edit it to two minutes.

My friend Jim Romahn asks, why hasn’t the Canadian turkey industry, which is far more organized than in the United States, done something like this long ago?

“I’m really pleased that the industry wanted the public to see this process because I think we need to show people how it’s just done right in a typical plant,” Grandin said in a news release.

“There’s a lot of good work going on in animal agriculture and I’m glad we’re telling our story openly and honestly.”  

Brunch will be served Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. Show up if you’re around.

71 now sick; Salmonella outbreak at church BBQ

The number of salmonella cases linked to a church barbecue fund raising event earlier this month at Sandy Plains Baptist Church in North Carolina has climbed to 71, with no leads on the cause.

But that didn’t stop a local NBC affiliate to quote those who would blame the consumer.

“I think if you just take some common steps — you look at the food when it’s served, if anything looks under cooked, if your doug.thermometerhamburger looks pink, if your chicken doesn’t look cooked, then send it back and ask it to be cooked until it’s not raw any more.”

That was from a communicable disease nurse, who should know that color is a lousy indicator and that tip-sensitive digital thermometers are required to confirm safety.

And these events have little or no food safety oversight.

Vera Vaughn is an environmental health specialist with the Beaufort County Health Department. She says, “There’s a general statute that allows not for profit organizations that are exempt from federal taxes to sell food for two consecutive days once a month — so it’s not regulated by anyone. We in Beaufort County have an application we ask folks to fill out — so that we know what’s going to happen, what food is going to be sold so if there were to be an outbreak — we can try to trace it back to what food item may have been served or sold.”

I’ve been cooking at the kids’ events for over 15 years – with a thermometer.