These 675 people make your meals: Illinois man gets 18 months for food safety bribes

A Lynwood, Illinois man has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for accepting bribes in exchange for allowing students in his food safety training classes to bypass sanitation certification testing, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago.

Ernest Griffin, 71, was sentenced Wednesday and also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, according to the office.

Griffin had pleaded guilty in March 2016 to one count of federal program bribery, according to court records.

His business, Food Safety Awareness, contracted with the Illinois Department of Public Health to offer food handling courses. Students needed to complete a 15-hour course and take an exam in order to receive sanitation certificates from the health department.

In exchange for bribes, Griffin submitted false certifications and false test results to the department, although prosecutors and Griffin’s lawyer disagreed on the total amount of bribes the man received, court documents show.

Prosecutors said that starting in at least 2008 and continuing through January 2015 Griffin received bribes from students, taking in a total of almost $152,000. His lawyer, in a filing, said that Griffin admitted to receiving more than $5,000 a year in bribes from 2010 through 2014.

The government said that Griffin’s bribery scheme ended only after he was confronted by FBI agents in January 2015.

The government contended that during that four-year period, about 675 students who hadn’t taken the required class or exam were given sanitation certificates.

23 years late, Chipotle gets food safety religion (or so they lecture)

I just registered for an Ice Hockey Australia Level 2 coaching course.

The course is rarely offered, and there’s only a couple of level 2 coaches in Queensland. It will take 25 hours of training to complete.

dp-sorenne-becThat’s on top of the 16 hours I put in for Coach 1 in Australia, and recertification every two years.

It’s similar to the Intermediate Level Coach status I had in Canada back in 2001, which was required to coach a rep or travel team.

It’s a lot of time, sitting in a classroom, and on the ice.

I view it as my church, my community service.

So when Chipotle makes a big deal saying all of its managers will be trained in food safety the ServSafe way, I shrug, and ask, why weren’t they before?

How far was Chipotle’s head up its own moralistic ass that it paid more attention to food porn – like hormones and GE foods – than to food safety, the things that make people barf?

Great, you’re going to require training. Anyone ask if the training is any good? Third-party audits? Nice soundbite but they’re just a paycheck. Handwashing every thirty minutes? McDonald’s have been doing that for decades (you’d think Chipotle would have picked that up when they were partnered with McDonald’s, but no, there was food porn to peddle).

The Chipotle announcement reads like a moralistic lecture, and that no one had discovered food safety before.

A year after the outbreaks, Chipotle is now getting into standard PR – which it should have done months ago (Chipotle, your communication advisors absolutely suck). The full page ad, the video, the push for food safety.

Guacamole, for instance, now takes advantages of the cleansing properties of the lemon and lime juices in the recipe. Before getting mixed, the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeños are laid on top of avocados and drizzled with citrus juices in one last effort to ensure food safety.

Some scientists may question such tactics, saying they have been supplanted by newer methods. But Dr. James Marsden, Chipotle’s new executive director of food safety, who had recently retired from teaching at Kansas State University (and the father of the actor James Marsden, best known as Cyclops in the “X Men” film series) said he was confident in them.

“We’re doing research and are going to publish papers on what we’re doing, so people can see for themselves that it works,” he said.

That’s all good, but they’re still moralistic assholes who expect people to pay a premium for their food sermons (journos, contact me for Marsden stories).

Chipotle founder and Co-CEO stepped in front of a camera in a bid to win over weary diners that still aren’t hankering for the chain’s once-popular tacos and burritos.

In a video that the Mexican burrito chain unveiled on Wednesday, a contrite Ells admits that last year, the fast-casual restaurant chain “failed to live up to our own food safety standards, and in so doing, we let our customers down. At that time, I made a promise to all of our customers that we would elevate our food safety program.”

chipotleadContrite is not the word I would use.

Looking to revalue Chipotle’s share price is more accurate.

Chipotle initially blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Australian beef for its woes. Today, it blamed social media.

“No one has ever had this kind of a food safety crisis in the era of social media,” Mr. Ells said.

I could list hundreds, beginning with E. coli O157 in spinach in 2006, you arrogant poser.

“Jack In The Box,” — a burger chain where more than 700 people got sick in 1993 after eating E. coli contaminated meat — “never had to deal with Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

When I coach, I’m always telling kids, and adults, stop blaming the refs, go score a goal, stop whinging.

What is fresh? Australian beef in the U.S.?

Is this guy stealing from Trump’s playbook?

It’s slogans and hucksterism.

Which Americans seem to go for.

And Mr. Ells, since you seem content on lecturing Americans about food safety, while blaming others, here’s a history lesson.

In the Fall of 1994, Intel computer chips became scrutinized by the computer geeks, and then the public.

Intel had delayed responding to allegations, and Wall Street analysts at the time said it was the result of a corporate culture accustomed to handling technical issues rather than addressing customers’ hopes and fears.

On Monday, Nov. 12, 1994, the International Business Machines Corp. abruptly announced that its own researchers had determined that the Pentium flaw would lead to division errors much more frequently than Intel said. IBM said it was suspending shipments of personal computers containing the Pentium chip

Mr. Grove was stunned. The head of IBM’s PC division, Richard Thoman, had given no advance warning. A fax from Thoman arrived at Intel’s HQ on Monday morning after the IBM announcement, saying he had been unable to find Grove’s number during the weekend. Mr. Grove, whose number is listed, called directory assistance twice to ask for his own number to ensure he was listed.

After the IBM announcement, the number of calls to Santa Clara overwhelmed the capacity of AT&T’s West Coast long-distance telephone switching centres, blocking calls. Intel stock fell 6.5 per cent

Only then, Mr. Grove said, did he begin to realize that an engineer’s approach was inappropriate for a consumer problem.

Intel took out full-page ads, apologized, and did better.

That was in months, not a year.

Mr. Ells, you can claim you’re in uncharted territory, that no one has experienced the woes like you have, that fresh is a meaningful term.

But it’s just a repeat.

Customers may expect you to have the humility to admit such failings when driven by the hubris of your own beliefs.

But hey, anyone who can get Americans to believe that 1,000 calorie burritos are healthy can do anything you damn well please.

And customers will bow down.

Investors. I wouldn’t touch it. But I said that in 2007.

 

Food service workers in Mass. will be retrained after bogus certificates surface

Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune writes the U.S. National Restaurant Association on Friday agreed to train without charge about 170 employees at bodegas, restaurants and other food-service establishments in the city who received certificates in safe food handling from a consultant accused of selling bogus documents for as much as $450.

jesus_nobody_fucksThe association also said it suspended the consultant, Jorge De Jesus, whom it had hired to teach the courses and administer the exams needed to receive a so-called ServSafe certificate from the association.

De Jesus also was suspended with pay from his $51,602-a-year job as a code inspector for the city’s Inspectional Services department after a bogus ServSafe certificate found at Noelia Market on Lawrence Street was traced to him. The city shut the bodega last week. 

The certificates are issued by the association, not the city, but the city requires them from merchants seeking the common victualler license needed to sell food. That made it a conflict of interest for De Jesus to issue even valid certificates in Lawrence, Assistant City Attorney Brian Corrigan said.

Too much Listeria from poor training? Maybe try an augmented reality approach

Listeria monocytogenes is the causative agent of the human illness called listeriosis. The data reported in the last 15 years of scientific literature concerning the relationship between this microorganism and the catering sector showed a permanent presence of the opportunistic pathogen through the years, though with low frequencies.

listeria4Even though the pathogenic capacity of L. monocytogenes is practically circumscribed to a few risk categories as pregnant women, newborns and different kinds of immunocompromised people, given its high case-fatality rate this disease represents the second cause of death for foodborne infection in Europe.

As it emerged from the reviewed literature, L. monocytogenes was recovered in many different food categories, which testifies the widespread of the pathogen in the food chain. The main causes of L. monocytogenes presence were poor microbiological quality of raw materials, cross-contamination, inadequate cleaning practices, improper storage temperature, inadequate preparation processes, and a lack in the training of staff on food hygiene.

In particular, cross-contamination of foods can be reduced by hand washing, use of gloves, separation of raw materials from end products, sanitation and disinfection of equipment and food contact surfaces, hence, a structured training program of staff on these practices is essential.

The occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in mass catering: An overview in the European Union

International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 57, August 2016, Pages 9–17, doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2016.05.005

Andrea Osimani, Francesca Clementi

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278431916300639

Food safety training is utilized in the food industry to provide employees with the needed knowledge on how to prevent foodborne illnesses. However, although there is evidence that current food safety training is effective in increasing employee knowledge, employees’ observed behaviors often do not change and, therefore, the risk of foodborne illness is not decreased. In this review we discuss several motivational theories and propose a unique use of augmented reality for training to increase compliance of employees in regards to safe handling of foods.

Taking food safety to the next level—An augmented reality solution

Journal of Foodservice Business Research

DOI:10.1080/15378020.2016.1185872

Dennis E. Beck, Philip G. Crandall, Corliss A. O’Bryan & Jessica C. Shabatura

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15378020.2016.1185872

Needs to be compelling: Does training improve food safety?

A successful food safety intervention must be based on firm theories and a consideration of all relevant variables. The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent of improvement in food safety knowledge and practices of food handlers in primary school canteens through food safety training.

compel – A list of 98 primary schools was randomized into intervention and control groups using a multistage sampling method. The training programme for the intervention group and questionnaires for evaluating knowledge and practices were developed. On-site observations were done to assess hygienic practices during the handling of raw food and cooking equipment. In total, 16 school canteens participated in this study.

– Knowledge about personal hygiene and related to rules for preparing safe food was significantly improved after the food safety intervention. Some of the improvement was sustained for up to 12 weeks after the intervention. The self-reported practice score of food safety and hygiene in the intervention group was significantly higher at post1 and post2 compared to baseline. A significant within-group and between-group improvement was demonstrated for the observed behaviour of raw food handling and equipment sanitation.

– The originality of this study is to provide a new framework for the design and implementation of food safety intervention in school canteens targeted towards a specific enabling factor for behavioural change. Provision of food safety training grounded by the theory of planned behaviour was associated with significantly improved food safety knowledge and behaviour amongst food handlers.

Effect of food safety training on food handlers’ knowledge and practices

British Food Journal, Volume 118, Number 4, 2016, pp. 795-808(14)

Husain, Nik Rosmawati Nik; Muda, Wan Manan Wan; Jamil, Noor Izani Noor; Hanafi, Nik Nurain Nik; Rahman, Razlina A

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mcb/070/2016/00000118/00000004/art00003

We had our own take on training effectiveness a few years back:

Investigating the potential benefits of on-site food safety training for Folklorama, a temporary food service event

Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 10, October 2012 , pp. 1829-1834(6)

Mancini, Roberto; Murray, Leigh; Chapman, Benjamin J.; Powell, Douglas A.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2012/00000075/00000010/art00014

Rob_Mancini_001Folklorama in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a 14-day temporary food service event that explores the many different cultural realms of food, food preparation, and entertainment. In 2010, the Russian pavilion at Folklorama was implicated in a foodborne outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 that caused 37 illnesses and 18 hospitalizations. The ethnic nature and diversity of foods prepared within each pavilion presents a unique problem for food inspectors, as each culture prepares food in their own very unique way. The Manitoba Department of Health and Folklorama Board of Directors realized a need to implement a food safety information delivery program that would be more effective than a 2-h food safety course delivered via PowerPoint slides. The food operators and event coordinators of five randomly chosen pavilions selling potentially hazardous food were trained on-site, in their work environment, focusing on critical control points specific to their menu. A control group (five pavilions) did not receive on-site food safety training and were assessed concurrently. Public health inspections for all 10 pavilions were performed by Certified Public Health Inspectors employed with Manitoba Health. Critical infractions were assessed by means of standardized food protection inspection reports. The results suggest no statistically significant difference in food inspection scores between the trained and control groups. However, it was found that inspection report results increased for both the control and trained groups from the first inspection to the second, implying that public health inspections are necessary in correcting unsafe food safety practices. The results further show that in this case, the 2-h food safety course delivered via slides was sufficient to pass public health inspections. Further evaluations of alternative food safety training approaches are warranted.

Mancini speaks: Hands-on training to enhance the safe handling of food

Our own Rob Mancini will be speaking at the 12th Annual North American Summit on Food Safety taking place at the Old Mill in Toronto on Thursday, April 21st, 2016.

Rob_Mancini_001The importance of training food handlers is critical to effective food hygiene; however, there have been limited studies on the effectiveness of such training.

Food safety training courses are administered worldwide in attempts to reduce outbreaks in food service, retail and temporary food service establishments. However, food handlers often exhibit a poor understanding of microbial or chemical contamination of food and the measures necessary to correct them.

Studies suggest that the provision of a hands-on format of training would be more beneficial than traditional classroom-based programs. The delivery of such a program may assist in changing ones’ food safety behaviours and aid in the retention of knowledge that are necessary to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Food safety, hockey: Training could be improved but at least something should be required

In addition to endless sausage sizzles, folks in Brisbane are forever hosting school fetes, dinners, and homemade goods for sale at the weekly tuck shop.

I’m always wary of such items because I have no idea of the preparation technique, sanitation and storage.

doug.hockey.mar.16I need 16 hours of training to open a door on a kid’s hockey team, but nothing to offer up food for sale (that’s me this morning, after my practice, and before coaching a kids practice an hour later, getting in some blogging – I was working with the goalies so kept my pads on).

That’s going to change in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.

Mandatory food hygiene training will be required for those preparing food for groups including non-profit organizations holding fundraising suppers and breakfasts.

The new training rules will come into effect on April 1 and will apply to everyone who is involved in food service, P.E.I. Environmental Health manager Joe Bradley said.

“It is for people to understand their role in preparing food for large groups of people as to prevent foodborne illness.”

At least one person in the group holding the fundraising event in which food is served will be required to have the training and will have to be on site, he said.

“Certainly for community groups, church groups that haven’t had the opportunity to access training yet, we would certainly look at a grace period for them to access that training.”

The required mandatory training takes about one day to complete. The free food safety courses are being offered this month in Charlottetown and Summerside.

A shorter course of just a couple of hours for non-profit groups, churches and community service organizations is being planned, Bradley said.

Health officials exploring mandatory training for Hawaiian food businesses

Our weekends are dominated by hockey. Jack, the 7-year-old, practices early Saturday morning with games are Sundays. Sam, the 5-year-old, starts a learn to play hockey class this weekend.

Last year I went through 8 hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of online modules to qualify as a volunteer assistant coach. The worse thing I can do is accidentally hit a kid in the helmet with a puck or fall on one (both of those things have happened this year) but the training is required – and it made me a better coach.

It’s not like I’m handling food that people eat, where if I mess up people could get sick and die.

According to KHON2, Hawaiian health department folks are looking at mandatory food safety education for all food establishments in response to a bunch of poor inspections (maybe this is manager training, maybe for all food employees; I’m not sure).

The state health department says it may soon be asking food establishments to undergo mandatory food safety education in wake of a string of “red-carded” Oahu businesses in October.

Of the over 10,000 restaurant inspections done statewide since July 2014, the DOH says 2,000 restaurants had two or more critical violations. So what has the state learned since the placard system for food establishments was put in place? “One thing in our rules we’re probably going to change later on in the year is have a mandatory food safety education for all restaurants and food establishments in Hawaii,” said Peter Oshiro with the Department of Health.

Since fixing their violations, the North Shore bakery says it’s busier than usual.

“That’s great for the bakery,” Oshiro said. “For us, all we’re concerned with is that they correct violations that impact public health.”

Inspectors also discovered employees were not following proper hygiene or hand-washing rules, something Oshiro says is considered, “one of the most common violations in food establishments.”
“It looks like they may need some form of food safety education so hopefully they might agree to something like that,” Oshiro said.

Neat, no ice: 4 ice safety steps for restaurants, bars, and hotels

Jim Chan, a public health inspector for 36 years who retired in 2013 as manager of the food safety program at Toronto Public Heath, writes:

don_draper-300x225During my career as a Health Inspector, one question often asked by the public is “How safe is the ice in food and drinks serve in restaurants?” There is no easy Yes or No answer without having to explain how ice can be contaminated and in what conditions that ice can cause illness. In general, we tend to view ice much the same way we do with drinking water coming out from the tap, and assume that both water and ice are “clean.” Ice must be treated like food, as both can be a source of foodborne illness if not handled safely.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canada have health code regulations around ice and both define ice as food. Here’s an example of code requirements for ice safety under Food Safety legislation: Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 562 (Food Premises) – Ice used in the preparation and processing of food or drink shall be made from potable water and shall be stored and handled in a sanitary manner. Most pathogenic organisms do not readily multiply in ice in restaurants that’s used for food and drinks. However, scientific research has also shown that some bacteria and viruses can survive cold or freezing for long period of time. Therefore, it is important for restaurant operators to ensure their ice does not become contaminated.

icemachine_junk_450Contamination can be introduced by airborne particles, contaminated water supply, food handlers or dirty utensils. But the main cause of ice in restaurants, bars and hotels becoming contaminated is human error: improper ice handling. Training staff is critical to ice safety. Contaminated ice can cause foodborne illness – reduce your risk with regular cleanings, periodic thorough sanitation (by a professional), regular maintenance, and, of course, training. Note: If your commercial ice machine is in a high yeast environment (pizzerias and breweries for example) or if you’re water source is from a well, you will need additional professional deep cleanings.

Lack of regular inspections, exposure to poor hygiene and improper handling of ice will increase the risk of contamination. You don’t want your restaurant or hotel guests getting sick because of inadequate cleanings and sanitation of your ice machine.

To reduce the risk of ice being a source of foodborne illness, restaurant operators and managers should be aware of the following points and to conduct regular self-inspection to identify problems early:

1) Train restaurant or bar staff in proper ice handling practices (bar and kitchen)

Wash hands before getting ice from ice making machine.

Hold only the ice scoop handle and not other parts of the scoop.

Do not scoop ice using water glasses or cups and never handle the ice with hands.

Do not return unused ice to the ice machine/ice bin.

Keep doors of the commercial ice machine closed except when removing ice.

Ice scoops should be stored outside the ice maker and kept in a clean container. Ice scoop & container should be washed & sanitized regularly.

Do not store anything such as food, drinks, fruit etc. in the ice machine. Never use ice machine as a refrigerator!

Clean the ice making machine regularly and fix all problems identified.

Never put Anything in the ice bin…except clean, untouched ice!

2) Inspect and clean/sanitize the ice making machine regularly

Inspect the exterior of the machine. Ensure the door, handle and hatch of the ice machine are clean and in good repair.

Look for any evidence of growth of scum, slime or mold inside the machine. If such growths are observed, immediately clean according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Tip: The ice should be removed from the ice bin and disposed during cleaning to avoid cross contamination by chemicals).

chan.ice.cartoonRoutine cleaning of an ice making machine should be done at least weekly by staff and the process can be as simple as running a sanitizing solution through the cycle, then running two cycles of ice, dispose of these before running ice for drinks and food. Make sure this is part of your weekly cleaning schedule!

3) Routine Ice Machine Services, Maintenance and Major Cleaning/Sanitizing

The ice making machine should be serviced by a professional technician at least twice year, which requires being taken apart for inspection and major cleaning and sanitizing. This needs to be performed by a professional! By choosing Easy Ice for your ice machine (instead of owning or leasing), your ice maker subscription includes 2 deep cleanings a year. And they schedule it for you – saving you not only time but money! And you’re assured the ice machine is clean when the Health Inspector stops by.

A typical cleaning routine would include the following steps:

Turn off the electrical supply and empty the ice bin.

Remove the protective curtain or cover (if present) and check the drain to ensure it is clear.

Clean all surfaces inside using hot water and a cleaner or detergent, follow with an antibacterial sanitizer by wiping all internal surfaces and allow adequate contact-time for the sanitizer to work. (Tip: Do not rinse off the surfaces, allow to air dry)

Wash and sanitize the plastic curtains, cover, ice scoops etc… (Tip: Use hot water and detergent for washing and then soak in a sterilizing solution as per manufacturer’s instructions)

Check the door and ensure it can close tightly to prevent dirt entering the ice making machine.

Switch machine back on and ensure it works properly.

4)  Additional factors to consider for cleaning and sanitizing of commercial ice machines

Biofilms

Microorganisms such as bacteria, can grow together and secret a matrix of polymers to form a protective shield known as Biofilm on surfaces such as food & ice container, ice machine walls, trays etc. Think of the bacteria producing a secretion to make a ‘bionic blanket’ covering themselves and protecting them from attack by chemicals such as cleaning & sanitizing agents. Within the biofilm, pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Shigella can survive and can cause spoilage or infection later when released.

The best way to prevent biofilms from developing is regular cleaning & sanitizing all surfaces that come in contact with food, drinks & ice. However, if biofilms already formed, surfaces must be physically cleaned by scrubbing and than follow with sanitizing to kill the pathogens to ensure a clean and safe environment for food, drinks & ice.

Ice safety is as important as food safety and should be a priority for your restaurant, hotel or bar. By following the above protocol, you can be assured of serving your guests clean, safe ice. Choose to ignore these key points and you may receive a fine, or worse – a shut down, from the Health Inspector. Protect your reputation, your guests and your bank account.

You can’t handle the truth: Surveys still suck and do not measure behavior

Food safety training is an important tool in preventing foodborne illness (FI), which affects millions of people each year in the United States and around the world and costs billions of dollars.

food.safety.trainingTraining gives those working in the food service industry the knowledge and skills necessary to properly handle, cook and serve food.

The objectives of this research was to assess changes in knowledge of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County’s (PHDMC) Level One Food Safety Certification program participants, analyze which questions were most often answered incorrectly, and determine whether there was a relationship between quiz scores and primary job responsibility, using pre- and postquiz training data. The course teaches food safety topics, including handwashing, employee hygiene, correct cooking and holding temperatures, sanitization duties of the person in charge, and others. The participants are offered a quiz at the beginning of the course, and the same quiz is offered after completion of the two-hour training.

Pre-training and post-training quiz score data were obtained from approximately 692 participants completing the PHDMC Level One Food Safety Certification program from 2011 to 2013. Paired t-tests were used to evaluate change in scores overall, on individual questions, and by job responsibility. Quiz scores significantly improved both aggregately (20.6%) and in nine out of the ten questions. The temperature-related questions had the most incorrect answers (score range: 38% – 71%) but also showed the most improvement (improvement range: 28% – 49%). This research shows that PHDMC’s Level One Food Safety Certification class was associated with a change in knowledge of participants from pre- to post-training.

Increasing knowledge with food safety training at public health – Dayton & Montgomery County

Food Protection Trends, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 262-269, July 2015

Matthew M. Tyler, Naila Khalil, Sara Paton

http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/food-protection-trends/article-archive/2015-07increasing-knowledge-with-food-safety-training-at-public-health-dayton-montgomery-county/