There are no stupid questions only stupid people – UK edition

A new Reddit thread started by user MrTalkingDuck asks, “What is the dumbest 100% serious thing someone has said to you?”

South.Park_Mr.GarrisonMiddle_sized_Richard wrote: “I was once told that drug dogs at airports etc. were addicted to the drug they were looking for.

“So each airport has a heroin dog, cocaine dog and so on. This person was a university graduate.”

Aim_snap_fail added: “I used to work in a kitchen, and one of the pot washers was cleaning a slicer and not exactly being careful.

“I told him the correct way to do it, so he didn’t chance cutting any of his fingers.

“With a straight face and complete seriousness he told me he didn’t care if he cut his finger off… It would just grow back. Like a starfish.”

Redditor Yer_F*****_Now_Bud recalled: “I’ve been a cook for 15 years. One time a server asked me to rush a chicken breast she forgot to ring in.

“I said, ‘OK, it will be a few minutes, it’s still a bit raw.’ ‘Just give it to me, it’s fine,’ she says.

“I tell her I don’t feel like giving anyone salmonella poisoning today and she will have to wait.

“Her jaw drops and her face turns red. She rather belligerently shouts just give it to her because she’s losing tip money, then adds, ‘Besides, people don’t get salmonella from chicken, they get it from salmon. You’re a cook, you should know that by now.’”

Referring to famous physicist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neurone disease and relies on a speech-generating device to talk, MyUglyKitty divulged: “Stephen Hawking is British? But he doesn’t have an accent.” ~ me, unfortunately.”

Sneaky: Campy in UK chickens declines, but is an artifact

The UK Food Standards Agency says the latest data show 9.3% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination in this quarter, down from 21.8% for the three months from December 2014 to February 2015*.

chickenCampylobacter was present on 50% of chicken samples, down from 71% in the equivalent quarter of the previous year. We tested 1,009 samples of fresh whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging this quarter.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said, “One of the reasons the survey results are lower this quarter is because of the decision taken by a number of retailers and their suppliers to remove neck skin from the bird before it goes on sale. This is good news for the consumer because the neck skin is the most contaminated part of the chicken. However it is also the part of the bird that we have been testing in our survey and this means that comparisons with previous results are not as reliable as we would like.

Therefore, this quarter, we are giving an overall figure for the amount of campylobacter on chicken and not breaking the figures down by retailer as we normally do. We have also stopped this survey and will begin a new one in the summer, with a different method of testing campylobacter levels on chicken. sFirst results from this survey, which will rank retailers, are due in January 2017.”

Alex Neil , director of policy and campaigns at Which?, said: “Despite the work by the regulator and the industry to reduce campylobacter in chickens, levels remain too high and it still poses a significant risk to the public.

“We want to see much greater transparency from the supermarkets on their own testing and the action they are taking to keep their customers safe from this bug.”

 

Food fraud: Police and Interpol crackdown on toxic food

The New York Times highlights some of the toxic and counterfeit food products that police agencies have recently seized recently in 57 countries:

  • food.fraud.jpg154 pounds of chicken intestines soaked in formalin, a prohibited food additive, seized in Indonesia;
  • Italian olives painted with copper sulfate solutions to make them look greener;
  • sugar that was cut with fertilizer in Sudan;
  • customs agents and police officers in Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Romania have discovered counterfeit chocolates, sweets and non-alcoholic sparkling wine that were headed to West Africa;
  • South Korean police arrested a man who was smuggling dietary supplements that contained harmful ingredients but were advertised online as natural products;
  • in Australia, a shipment of peanuts was repackaged and relabeled as pine nuts, posing a potentially deadly threat to people with serious groundnut allergies;
  • police in Bolivia raided a warehouse and seized thousands of cans of sardines and the fake labels of a famous Peruvian brand that would have been affixed to them;
  • police in eastern China raided two workshops that were producing fake jellyfish, which contained high levels of aluminum and chemicals (jellyfish is popular in parts of China, where it is sliced and served as part of a salad); and,
  • illicit alcohol concocted in Greece, Britain or Burundi.

Criminals make millions of dollars a year peddling such products, and worse, to unwitting or reckless buyers, according to the international police agencies Interpol and Europol. Recent joint operations have netted about 11,000 tons of counterfeit and hazardous food and 264,000 gallons of bogus beverages, the agencies’ largest hauls to date.

“Fake and dangerous food and drink threaten the health and safety of people around the world, who are often unsuspectingly buying these potentially dangerous goods,” said Michael Ellis, who runs Interpol’s unit on trafficking in illicit goods and anti-counterfeiting measures.

Latest food quacks peddling dangerous advice

The UK’s newest foodie stars, sisters Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, purport themselves as healthy food gurus. In fact, one’s a former model, the other has a background in marketing. Following the release of their latest cookbook, experts claim their clean-eating, tongue-scraping advice could actually do more harm than good.

Hemsleys-embedJasmine, 36, has left her racy modelling past far behind. These days, she and sister Melissa, 30, are the self-styled queens of “clean eating”, a regime that forbids followers from eating sugar, gluten and processed foods, which are said to contain body-harming toxins.

The sisters, who have written two recipe books and set up their own cafe, can be found promoting such food fads as “spiralising”, a healthy eating gadget that turns vegetables into guilt-free “pasta”; bone broth, a collagen-rich soup made from boiling bones; and, just last week on their new UK Channel 4 TV show, astrologically farmed vegetables grown according to the cycles of the moon.

Critics say that by peddling the “clean eating” fad, the Hemsleys and their ilk – including “Deliciously” Ella Woodward – are causing vulnerable schoolgirls to become not only paranoid about food, but frightened of it.

In a society in which more young women than ever have troubled relationships with their bodies – 1.6 million people in Britain suffer from an eating disorder – this is cause for serious concern. Experts say just words such as “clean” and “cleanse” may trigger harmful behaviour.

“Clean eating uses the language of anorexics to describe food,” says Dr Richard Sly, a lecturer in mental health at the University of East Anglia. “When you place a label on such things, you are creating a judgment, one that vulnerable people will buy into.”.

The girls started tapping into Jasmine’s contacts in the TV and film world to find clients for whom they could cook healthy meals. In spring 2010, a well-known actor (whom the sisters refuse to name) asked them to help with his diet.

Before they knew it, they had a waiting list and their business was born. It was so exclusive they took on just six, super-elite clients at a time and were flown round the world as private chefs.

They set up a blog to document their work and, in 2012, it caught the attention of an editor at Vogue, who took them on as food columnists.

The Hemsley & Hemsley brand was co-founded by Jasmine’s boyfriend Nick Hopper, 40, a model and photographer, who took the pictures for their first book, The Art Of Eating Well, which has sold 150,000 copies.

Today, Jasmine and Nick live in a £585,000 flat in South-East London, while Melissa lives nearby with her boyfriend, Henry Relph, 32, a DJ and art collector.

Central to their success is their glamorous appearance and the glitzy social circles in which they move.

However, some of their dishes contain a lot of sugar – their “guilt-free” brownies have 150ml maple syrup, as well as 230g butter.

Even their “healthy” alternatives (honey, maple syrup and agave nectar) contain high levels of fructose, a natural sugar linked to diabetes, obesity and liver disease.

But most concerning of all are health ‘experts’ from whom the Hemsleys get their approach to food.

Last week, it was revealed that they support controversial diet guru Natasha Campbell-McBride, a Russian nutritionist criticised for her “Gut And Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) doctrine, which claims that a restrictive, gluten-free diet can cure conditions including schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy. Despite not being legally registered to practise medicine in Britain, she bills herself on her UK website as “Doctor Natasha”.

Experts have branded her work “unethical” and “dangerous”, yet the Hemsleys cite her book at the top of a list of five that have “shaped their food philosophy”.

The Weston A Price Foundation, an American non-profit group founded by a dentist, is another inspiration.

Among the unorthodox practices it advocates are eating poached animal brains, feeding newborns raw cows’ milk and ingesting clay, believed to remove toxins from the body.

The sisters insist they “are not advocates of anyone else’s regime.

But leading doctor and Daily Mail columnist Max Pemberton says the doctrines they quote from are “absolute quackery”.

Their star may be on the rise, but maybe it’s time we started seeing the Hemsley sisters for what they really are: glossy beauties with an eye for making money – and not a shred of genuine expertise between them.

So is there any science behind the clean eating cult? We look at some of the most outlandish schools of thought that the Hemsleys support . . .

Biodynamic food

What is it? Based on the teachings of 19th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, it claims the best time to plant crops is two days before a full moon, when there is an increase in the moisture content of the soil, meaning plants “growth forces” are enhanced.

They say: In the latest episode of their cookery series, the sisters buy eggs produced by chickens fed on grain that has been “planted according to the astrological calendar”.

Liz Cotton of Orchard Eggs, the Hemsleys’ favourite biodynamic brand, explains: “The yolks are bright yellow and they taste better than organic.”

Experts say: There’s no difference – and certainly no nutritional benefit – in planting crops according to the solar system.

Dietitian Renee McGregor says some eggs are better for you than others, but this has to do with soil quality and farming conditions. “In terms of the moon, that’s a load of mumbo-jumbo,” she adds.

Tongue scraping

What is it? One of the sisters’ weirder obsessions, tongue scraping comes from Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian practice.

It involves running a metal scraper – with padded handles and a sharp, curved middle – up and down your tongue to remove bacteria, fungi and food debris.

They say: “I’d rather go without brushing my teeth in the morning than not doing it,” Jasmine claims. “All your toxins come out on your tongue, so you want to remove them.”

Mindful eating

What is it? This Buddhist-inspired technique is all about taking your time over food, rather than wolfing meals down in minutes.

It encourages “reconnecting” with ingredients by paying attention to their colour, smell and texture.

They say: “If you develop a proper relationship with the food you are about to eat, it will taste better and you will feel fuller more quickly,” Jasmine claims.

They also say chewing food more slowly can “get rid of common digestive complaints”.

Experts say: It’s not complete quackery: taking time over eating can avoid indigestion and heartburn. But Jane Odgen, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey, says this obsession with chewing “may make people over-focused on food”.

The gaps diet

What is it? Dreamed up by Russian nutritional “guru” Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, this regime teaches that illnesses including autism, dyslexia, heart disease and epilepsy are caused by an “imbalance of intestinal flora”, which allows particles of food to escape into the blood.

GAPS – which stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome – encourages followers to combat this by giving up sugar, dairy, starch and gluten.

They say: The Hemsleys, who cite Doctor Natasha as an influence, promote a gluten and refined sugar-free diet and warn against “leaky gut syndrome”.

Food combining

What is it? A naturopathic – in other words, not scientifically proven – theory that claims the order and combination in which you put food into your mouth can affect digestion. Also known as the Hay Diet, invented by American doctor William Howard Hay in the Thirties, it forbids eating protein and carbohydrates on the same plate.

They say: The sisters claim food combining “aids digestion and optimises nutritional absorption from our foods”.

Experts say: “There is absolutely no evidence for this,” says Renee McGregor. “Our body is capable of coping with food all on its own. It doesn’t need us interfering to help it work properly.”

Bone broth

What is it? Otherwise known as plain old stock, “bone broth” is one of the Hemsleys’ go-to recipes, made by boiling animal bones in water with vegetables, peppercorns and bay leaves for 24 hours.

UK restaurateur sentenced to 6 years after peanut allergy death

The owner of an Indian takeaway in North Yorkshire has been found guilty of manslaughter after a customer with a nut allergy was served a meal containing ground peanuts.

food.allergensThe trial was told Mohammed Zaman had cut corners by swapping the thickening agent almond powder for the cheaper groundnut powder, which contained peanuts.

Although the vast majority of restaurants are safe, a number each year are found to have breached laws and guidelines.

Since December 2014, takeaways and restaurants have been required by law to let customers know if any of the 14 most dangerous allergens are ingredients in their food.

They include peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans and mustard.

Paul Wilson, 38, who suffered an anaphylactic shock after eating a meal from Zaman’s business, died before the change in the law, but the trial heard he had flagged up his peanut allergy to the restaurant and his meal had been labelled as “nut free”.

Another customer with a nut allergy had to be treated at a hospital after eating at Mr. Zaman’s restaurant three weeks before Mr. Wilson’s death. Like him, she had been assured her meal would not contain nuts, prosecutors said.

Mr. Zaman was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence in the death of Mr. Wilson, and six food safety offenses. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

indian gardenHe had a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk,” the prosecutor, Richard Wright, told a jury at Teesside Crown Court.

It marked the first time in Britain that someone has been convicted of manslaughter over the sale of food.

David Pickering, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), said: “Some [restaurants] will have it in a book, some will give you the information verbally. If they can’t give you it, don’t eat there.”

German cockroaches invade filthy UK takeaway

The owners of the Chick ‘N’ Spice takeaway were fined and the premises were closed after inspectors found an infestation of German cockroaches.

cockroach_1_finEaling Council food safety officers found the cockroach infestation around a chest freezer in the takeaway, with evidence of adults, nymphs and egg casings.

The borough’s cabinet member for safety, culture and community services, Councillor Ranjit Dheer, said: “The vast majority of food outlets in Ealing comply with hygiene requirements.

“The council responded swiftly to tackle the serious and inexcusable hygiene breaches committed by Chick ‘N’ Spice, and had no hesitation closing the premises to protect public safety.”

£30k fine slapped on UK Indian takeway owner after pools of blood found in freezer

A takeaway boss has been forced to pay out more than £33,000 after health inspectors found pools of blood in a freezer and cobwebs on light fittings at his business.

Maya takeaway Salik Mohammed Miah, 42, the owner of Maya takeaway in Polesworth, was handed one of the largest fines in the history of North Warwickshire Borough Council after a catalogue of hygiene horrors were exposed during an inspection.

Uncovered boxes of prawns, chicken and rice were also discovered along with containers of curry sauce stored on the floor and a dirty sink containing disgusting cloths and sponges.

Thank you sir, may I have another: 3 UK Royal Marines detained over paddling pool full of barf and piss

And the Brits think we’re the heathens, out in the colonies.

blutoThree Royal Marines have been sentenced to military detention for their part in an initiation ceremony which involved subjecting a colleague to “40 minutes of depravity and naked humiliation”.

Carlo Nicholson, who was made to drink from a paddling pool full of urine and vomit, said he was left feeling suicidal following the “joining run” event – watched by 80 drunken men – and carried out by 45 Commando, based at Royal Marine Condor in Arbroath in May 2014.

Marine Ian Tennet, 22, Lance Corporal Scott Simm, 26, and James Taylor, 27, who is now a lance corporal in the Royal Marines Reserves, were all sentenced for a charge of ill-treatment of a subordinate.

Tennet was sentenced to 11 months and two weeks’ detention, while Simm and Taylor were both sentenced to eight months.

A fourth defendant, former Marine Ryan Logan, 25, was sentenced to 220 hours of unpaid community work for battery and disgraceful conduct of a cruel kind.

Sentencing the defendants at Portsmouth Naval Base’s court martial centre, Judge Advocate Robert Hill said the event had been “40 minutes of depravity and naked humiliation”.

kevinbacon_animalhouse-620x436He said: “The suggestion has been made it was nothing more than a rite of passage, and its purpose was not to humiliate, harm or distress but to harness bonding, and is something all Royal Marines Commandos have gone through – but it’s no more than conduct that brings disgrace on the Commandos involved.”

He said the defendants had been described during the court hearing as “scapegoats” and added: “It is not the purpose of this court to set itself up as a board of inquiry. It has been noted with considerable concern that more senior non-commissioned officers haven’t found their way to the court martial system. Had they done so the likely position they would face is a starting point of a term of imprisonment.”

Military training: During the initiation event, described in court as a “rite of passage”, Mr Nicholson, along with other newcomers to the unit, was forced to run naked around the camp with bottles and milk and lemonade taped to his arms.

He was made to lie down in the paddling pool containing urine and vomit while eggs were thrown at him, as well as to fight other marines while naked and covered in cooking oil.

He was also made to eat dessert spoons of chill, cinnamon and curry powder, eat dog food out of a mess tin while on all fours, eat lard and swallow liquid through a funnel as well as made to consume the contents of a mess tin filled from the paddling pool which also contained a rollmop herring, lard and cider.

Epi works: Over 300 sickened from crypto on pre-cut salad greens in UK, 2012

In May 2012, people in England and Scotland started getting sick with Cryptosporidium. In June, 2012, the UK Health Protection Agency first announced 267 people were sick with Cryptosporidium across four areas of the UK, double the normal rate.

lettuce.harvestTen months later, HPA said the crypto that sickened about 300 people was most likely linked to eating pre-cut bagged salad products which were likely to have been labeled as ‘ready-to-eat.’

The outbreak was short lived and the numbers of cases returned to expected seasonal levels within a month of the first cases being reported. Most of those affected had a mild to moderate form of illness and there were no deaths associated with the outbreak.

During the investigation, an initial link was found between illness and pre-cut spinach. When specific retailers were included in the analysis, the strongest association with infection was found to be with consumption of ready to eat pre-cut mixed salad leaves from a major supermarket chain.

In this analysis, exposure to pre-cut spinach only reached conventional levels of significance for one retailer – a second major supermarket chain. A link to spinach from a number of other retailers was also suggested but these were not statistically significant. Together these findings suggest that one or more types of salad vegetables could have been contaminated.

Dr Stephen Morton, regional director of the HPA’s Yorkshire and the Humber region and head of the multi-agency Outbreak Control Team, said, “Our findings suggest that eating mixed leaf bagged salad was the most likely cause of illness. It is however often difficult to identify the source of short lived outbreaks of this type as by the time that the outbreak can be investigated, the affected food and much of the microbiological evidence may no longer be available

Dr Alison Gleadle, director of food safety at the FSA, took the opportunity to further confuse consumers, stating, “We’d like to remind everyone of our usual advice to wash all fruits and vegetables, including salad, before you eat them, unless they are labeled ready-to-eat.”

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145But wasn’t this outbreak linked to ready-to-eat salads? How is that advice of any use? Could have offered some details, like, additional washing of ready-to-eat products is largely ineffective. FSA is refocusing its efforts on farm management to limit such contamination, before it happens.

A spokesthingy from retailer Morrisons said, rather defensively, “Morrisons is not the source of this outbreak. We have received no complaints of illness and no Morrisons products have tested positive for Cryptosporidia.

“The HPA’s claim is based solely on statistics, not testing. The very same statistics also implicated products from other retailers that the HPA recognize as ‘implausible’.”

Why doesn’t Morrison’s say what they do to enhance the safety of products they sell rather than trash epidemiology?

In the scientific paper on the outbreak, McKerr et. al reported a widespread foodborne outbreak of Cryptosporidium parvum in England and Scotland in May 2012. Cases were more common in female adults, and had no history of foreign travel. Over 300 excess cases were identified during the period of the outbreak. Speciation and microbiological typing revealed the outbreak strain to be C. parvum gp60 subtype IIaA15G2R1.

METHODS: Hypothesis generation questionnaires were administered and an unmatched case control study was undertaken to test the hypotheses raised. Cases and controls were interviewed by telephone. Controls were selected using sequential digit dialling. Information was gathered on demographics, foods consumed and retailers where foods were purchased.

RESULTS: Seventy-four laboratory confirmed cases and 74 controls were included in analyses. Infection was found to be strongly associated with the consumption of pre-cut mixed salad leaves sold by a single retailer. This is the largest documented outbreak of cryptosporidiosis attributed to a food vehicle.

An outbreak of cryptosporidium parvum across England & Scotland associated with consumption of fresh pre-cut salad leaves, May 2012

PubMed

McKerr C1, Adak GK2, Nichols G3, Gorton R4, Chalmers RM5, Kafatos

PLoS One, 2015, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125955. eCollection 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26017538/

Paperwork is never enough: Cats may vomit from Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Hill’s Pet Nutrition has recalled cat food pouches after they were found to contain vomit inducing levels of iron.

cat.vomit.may.16The major pet nutrition firm said certain packs of its chicken and fish cat food pouches in the UK contain a large amount of iron, which can cause digestive upset, including vomited and diarrhea.

The feline food was pumped full of iron in error by an ingredient supplier.

The Food Standards Agency are urging pet owners not to feed their cats the foodstuff but instead return it to their nearest store for a full refund.

Owners who have already fed it to their cat should consult a vet, they said.

In a statement, Hill’s nutrition said: “Hill’s Pet Nutrition is voluntarily recalling specific manufacturing batches of the single-serving cat food pouches. Due to an error by an ingredient supplier, the products contain high levels of iron. … At Hill’s we take great pride in the quality and safety of our pet food products.”

Except when it comes to checking ingredients from suppliers.