Crappy bathrooms in NY’s JFK

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

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.


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.


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.


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.

Say it ain’t so: Irish follow Brits on bad turkey advice

Safefood Ireland asks: Want to know the cooking time for your turkey to ensure the best (and safest) results?

turkey.calculator.dec.15This year it’s quick and simple. Just enter the weight of your turkey in the calculator, and it will calculate the correct cooking time to ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection.

Our calculated turkey cooking times are for use in electric fan assisted ovens only. See below for guidance on cooking turkeys using other oven types.

I’ll spare you the convoluted details.

Whoever thought a calculator with all the variables such as oven temp, time, etc. was simpler than sticking it in has probably never cooked a turkey. With a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

CurtisStoneAnd of course, the piping-hot-no-pink mantra: “As with cooking any poultry, always double check that the turkey is properly cooked before serving. Your turkey should be piping hot all the way through with no pink meat left and the juices should run clear when the thickest part of the thigh and breast are pierced with a clean fork or skewer.”

Curtis Stone from Coles in Australia gets it sorta right when he says, “Baste the turkey and continue roasting uncovered for about 1 hour longer, basting occasionally with more spice butter, or until a meat thermometer reads 75°C when inserted deep into the breast. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a clean skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and if the juices run clear the turkey is ready.”

Just stick it in. Three times.

We’re having fish.

barfblog.Stick It In

Campylobacter in turkeys – Italian edition

In this retrospective study, typing ability, discriminatory power, and concordance between typing results obtained on 123 Campylobacter jejuni turkey isolates, collected in 1998, within 14 different farms, applying multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), antibiotic resistance profile, and virulence gene pattern, were assessed and compared.

therm.turkey.oct.13Overall, 33 sequence types, 28 pulsotypes, 10 resistotypes, and 5 pathotypes were identified. MLST and PFGE showed the better discriminatory ability (i.e., Simpson’s diversity index >0.90) as well as unidirectional (i.e., Wallace and adjusted Wallace coefficients >0.86) and bidirectional (i.e., adjusted Rand coefficient >0.60) concordance.

Moreover, both methods showed a good unidirectional and bidirectional concordance with the resistotype. On the contrary, the congruence of both genotyping methods and resistotype with the pathotype seemed due to chance alone. A clonal relationship was identified among 66.7% of the isolates. Furthermore, 59.7% of the investigated isolates were resistant to two or more antimicrobials and 92% to tetracycline.

All the isolates harbored cadF and pldA genes, whereas a flaA gene product and a cdtB gene product were amplified from 85.4% and 79.7% of the isolates, respectively, using the primers designed by Bang et al. (2003).

mr-bean-turkeyThe results of this study clarify the level of genetic diversity among the C. jejuni originating from turkeys. MLST level of correlation with PFGE, resistotype, and pathotype is assessed. This result supports the selection of type and number of typing methods to use in epidemiological studies. Finally, the identification of clonal complexes (i.e., groups of profiles differing by no more than one gene from at least one other profile of the group using the entire Campylobacter MLST database) shared between turkey and human isolates suggests that turkeys could be a possible source of Campylobacter infection.

Typing of Campylobacter jejuni isolated from turkey by genotypic methods, antimicrobial susceptibility, and virulence gene patterns: a retrospective study

Gerardo Manfreda, Antonio Parisi, Alessandra De Cesare, Domenico Mion, Silvia Piva, and Renato G. Zanoni

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease


Lower campy limits: NZ govt insists poultry safety system is robust

Public health researcher Michael Baker said the illness was an epidemic here but it would be easy to fix.

roast.chicken.june.10The University of Otago professor wants to see a lower allowable limit for Campylobacter contamination on poultry. He also wants data to be published showing which companies have the best and worst rates of contamination and better warning labels on packaging.

Prof Baker said that would lower the high rates of infection in New Zealand.

But a government spokesman claimed the current food safety system was robust, and did protect people from hazards like campylobacter.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) deputy director-general Scott Gallagher said the ministry was not considering any further measures.

Last year about 6,800 people got sick with campylobacter, with poultry to blame in half those cases, official figures showed.

But Prof Baker believed the number was much higher. More than 30,000 people each year get ill from eating chicken, he said.

“Our current campylobacter epidemic from fresh poultry is the biggest food safety problem in New Zealand.”

The Poultry Industry Association is backing Prof Baker’s calls for changes to the way chicken is prepared for sale, and a spokesman said the industry was working hard to lower the rates of contamination and infection.

Lowering the regulatory limit for campylobacter on fresh poultry was a good idea, the association’s executive director Michael Brooks said, and the association has proposed a new limit to MPI.

barfblog.Stick It InHowever, Mr Brooks said he did not support Prof Baker’s call for naming companies that have the best and worst rates of contamination.

But Mr Brooks said those measures only worked if there were also good food safety practices in people’s homes, such as careful preparation and proper cooking.

Caterer and chef Ruth Pretty recommended using a thermometer to guage the correct cooking temperature of the poultry.

“People worry, they don’t want to overcook it but they… (worry they’ve undercooked it) and they do that thing, you take it out of the oven or off the BBQ and you think, ‘is it cooked, isn’t it cooked, are the juices running clear’ and all that,” Ms Pretty said.

“But if you have a thermometer – you don’t have to have a fancy thermometer, it (can be) any thermometer – that you can insert into the cooked product.”

“Once you get (into) a system like that – which is how all chefs actually work – you’ll be fine, you’re always going to have your chicken cooked.”

I don’t eat potlucks, I don’t know where their bugs have been, and I carry a thermometer with me

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a few tips to keep your holidays healthy.

barfblog.Stick It InAt home:

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • To avoid overcooking beef, veal, pork and lamb roasts use a meat thermometer. These roasts should be removed from the oven when they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees and allowed to rest for three minutes before serving.
  • Turkey, duck and goose should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured by a food thermometer. Temperatures should be taken in three areas of the bird: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh.
  • Kitchen towels should be washed frequently to avoid cross-contamination, so a home cook can never have enough kitchen towels.

The rest of the advice is nonsense.

But Ireland, I have so much respect for your Safefood, yet you still insist on telling people, “no pink meat and be sure that the juices run clear before eating.”

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Chapman sent me 10 for me to give out over the holidays. I’d be happy to mail you, Safefood Ireland, a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, since apparently no one in Europe is aware of their existence.


Is the finger test accurate for steak safety? Better to just stick it in

Objectives: To evaluate the reliability of using the thenar eminence to determine steak doneness.

barfblog.Stick It InDesign: Double-blinded, cross-sectional study.

Setting: Various home kitchens in Melbourne, Australia.

Participants: Amateur/home cooks.

Main outcome measures: The accuracy of the finger test (the tenseness of the thenar eminence in different hand positions) for determining how well a random beef steak has been cooked (rare v medium-rare v medium v well-done). We also examined whether participants improved with practice and whether the accuracy of the finger test was correlated with age, sex, cooking experience or self-rated steak-cooking ability.

Results: Twenty-six participants completed the study, and showed that they could accurately determine the doneness of a steak with the finger test better than chance (χ2[1, n = 156] = 9.88; P < 0.01). Their overall accuracy, however, was low (36%). There was no correlation between accuracy in application of the finger test with the other collected participant and steak variables.

Conclusions: The finger test can be used by amateur cooks to determine beef steak doneness. However, the low overall accuracy of the test suggests that more invasive tests are to be recommended for determining steak doneness for its health benefits.


 Studying the Thenar Eminence of Amateur cooKs (STEAK) study: a double-blinded, cross-sectional study

Toby I Vinycomb, Amanda M-Y Tan, Manu Bhatnagar and Joon Ming Wong

Med J Aust 2015; 203 (11): 467-469