Microbiologically safe isn’t on the list: Whole Foods predicts food trends for 2017

On Tuesday, Whole Foods released its predictions for 2017’s hottest food trends—a list that’s compiled by experts who track consumer behavior at more than 400 of the chain’s stores.

poop-cakeHere’s the list of the top eight potential food trends of 2017:

– Wellness tonics: Ingredients include kava, Tulsi/holy basil, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar.

– Byproducts: Whole Foods says brands like Atlanta Fresh and White Moustache are using leftover whey from yogurt production to create probiotic drinks.

– Coconut everything: Think: Chips, ice cream, butters, etc.

– Japanese food beyond sushi: Like dried kelp, wakame, and Japanese-style pickles.

– Creative Condiments: Such as black sesame tahini, habanero jam, ghee, and black garlic purée.

– Alternative pasta: Alternative grain noodles made from quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas will be on the rise.

– Purple foods: Also will include black rice, elderberries, acai, and purple corn and cereal.

– Oven-ready meal kits: Fresh oven-ready meal kits and vegetable medleys will be on the upswing.

Whole Foods still sucks at food safety: Hep A link in Detroit (vaccines work)

A bromate at the daddy crowd at school pickup yesterday sheepishly admitted that until two years ago, he thought the band Queen was from the U.S.

whole-foodsI asked him, where were the Beatles from?

Liverpool, UK.

Rolling Stones?

Detroit, Michigan, Rock City USA (he was joking).

Regardless of where you’re from, Whole Foods still sucks at food safety.

The Detroit Health Department is investigating two cases of Hepatitis A in connection with the prepared foods section at the Whole Foods Market at 115 Mack Avenue in Detroit, officials said.

One case was diagnosed in an employee at the store who handles and prepared food at the store.

The second case was diagnosed in a Detroit resident who ate at the prepared foods section of the store.

It’s unclear how either case was contracted, officials said. It’s possible the second case might have been contracted from the food handler, health officials said.

The Detroit Health Department recommends anyone who ate prepared foods from the Whole Foods in Detroit between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12 to speak with a doctor.

“While it remains unclear exactly how either of these individuals contracted Hepatitis A, and we know that Whole Foods Market Detroit has a comprehensive food safety protocol, we want to do our best to protect our residents and those of surrounding communities who may have been exposed. Whole Foods has been nothing but cooperative throughout this process,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer at the Detroit Health Department.

(Canada should also apologize for Rush).

Whole Foods sucks at food safety: Salmonella positive in organic micro greens

Osage Gardens Inc. is recalling Osage Gardens Organic 2oz Micro Greens, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

organic-micro-g-greensOsage Gardens Organic 2oz Micro Greens was distributed to Whole Foods stores in Colorado and Kansas. The Osage Gardens Organic 2oz Micro Greens product is packed in a clear plastic clamshell and has a label on the bottom with a UPC Code 709376615008 and affected product are dated with a Julian codes from 266 to 279’.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was a result of a routine sampling by the FDA which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. Osage Gardens Inc. has ceased the production and distribution of the product as FDA and Osage Gardens Inc. continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

 

Investors beware: Grocers tackle new food-safety issues as tastes grow for prepared meals

I read food safety fairytales daily.

But as noted by Jesse Newman and Heather Haddon of the Wall Street Journal, supermarkets are starting to look a lot more like takeout restaurants, and the explosion of prepared meals has brought new food-safety issues that even leading chains are racing to manage.

fairytale-foodInvestors beware.

Whole Foods Market Inc., (which sucks a food safety) a trailblazer in the sale of fresh-cooked items, was recently forced to temporarily shutter one of its commercial kitchens producing fresh meals for stores. The move was a response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s warning over safety gaps in the Boston-area plant.

The grocer is now overhauling its approach, including discontinuing the processing of meat, poultry and raw seafood in that kitchen and two others, according to a letter obtained through a public document request and the company.

The FDA’s warning followed an E.coli outbreak last year that was linked to rotisserie chicken salad made at Costco Wholesale Corp. and sickened 19 people. Deli foods from the Boise Co-Op, a natural-foods grocer in Idaho, were also tied to a salmonella outbreak last year that sickened nearly 300 people.

The grocers’ woes highlight challenges facing supermarkets competing for consumers forgoing home-cooking and traditional restaurant meals in favor of fresh offerings from sushi counters or taco bars at neighborhood grocery stores. As prepared-food offerings increase in volume and complexity, the risk of food-safety issues also grows, with supermarkets now facing safety concerns that have beset the restaurant industry for years.

Fresh prepared foods generated $15 billion in sales in supermarkets in 2005, a figure that has nearly doubled to about $28 billion last year, according to Technomic, a food industry research firm.

But while grocers have long offered fresh options from delis and salad bars, they now are selling more sophisticated meals, which require more complex cooking and serving practices.

 

This is how bad Whole Foods sucks at food safety

Whole Foods just don’t get it.

whole.foods.empty.valuesAccording to Stephanie Strom of the New York Times, when U.S. Food and Drug Administration types asked for proof the company had fixed potential Listeria problems, Whole Foods “failed to provide photos, invoices, records of product destruction and other documentation that would demonstrate the necessary corrections.”

Individuals are required to provide more proof on a tax audit.

Whole Foods, Chipotle, an emerging pattern of documented bullshit to validate what many food safety types thought long before: bullshit, on food, in management and in communications.

Risk Analysis 101.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Another Whole Foods edition

Condensation from ceiling pipes dripping on food. Sounds like a familiar food safety risk.

whole.foodsBut nasty things like engineering concerns are of little concern to new-age companies doing its utmost to squeeze more profits by dressing up crap with adjectives.

Megan Woolhouse of the Boston Globe reports the Food and Drug Administration has warned Whole Foods Markets to resolve serious violations found at a regional food preparation facility in Everett after inspectors discovered condensation from ceiling pipes dripping on food, as well as evidence of Listeria.

Last week, the federal agency sent a lengthy letter to Whole Foods citing an extensive list of food safety violations during multiple visits in February to the company’s kitchen in Everett, which makes ready-to-eat foods for 74 stores in Northeastern states.

The agency said Whole Foods’ initial response to the violations was unacceptable because the company did not offer sufficient documentation about how it would correct the problems at the 70,000-square-foot facility and ensure compliance with health and safety rules.

“FDA has serious concerns that our investigators found your firm operating under these conditions,” according to the June 8 warning letter, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

Whole Foods’ global vice president of operations, Ken Meyer, said in a statement issued Tuesday evening that he was “honestly surprised” by the warning and that the company has taken “thorough and tangible steps” to address problems. “We’ve been in close contact with the FDA, opened our doors to inspectors regularly since February, and worked with them to address every issue brought to our attention,” Meyer said.

FDA inspectors who visited the Everett plant, known as Whole Foods Market North Atlantic Kitchen, wrote that they saw condensation dripping onto surfaces where dishes such as pesto pasta and mushroom quesadillas were being prepared or stored, as well as uncovered barrels of egg salad “that were placed in an area below the condenser. Condensate was observed to be dripping at a rate of approximately once per second.”

ass.whole.foodsThe FDA inspectors also found a type of Listeria that indicated the presence of a more severe form of the germ when they tested swabs of more than 100 surfaces throughout the facility. The letter said it found Listeria welshimeri, a form of the bacteria that the FDA said is an indicator of the probable presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly form of the bacteria.

In one instance, the inspectors found that a hand-washing station did not have hot water, yet was used by employees returning from a break before they began preparing food. Inspectors also said they saw an employee spray ammonium-based sanitizer on an open colander of salad greens and found sheet pans used for raw meats and ready-to-eat food products soaking in tanks with inadequate levels of sanitizer.

Yum.

The letter further cited problems with workers using improperly diluted disinfectant in heavier than necessary amounts to clean vegetables.

Whole Foods has 15 business days to respond to the FDA’s letter.

The Everett facility warning is a blow for a company that is generally known for the pride it takes in high-quality products, which typically come with a high price tag. The Austin, Texas based chain is also widely credited with helping to bring about the organic food revolution.

But fancy food ain’t safe food.

One of the most worrisome findings, said Mel Kramer, president of EHA Consulting Group Inc., a Baltimore firm that advises restaurants and food manufacturers on food safety, was the inattention to how vegetables were washed. The use of too much disinfectant, he said, can lead to serious gastric problems such as diarrhea.

“This is pretty serious from a major company that the public generally looks to as a good actor,” said Kramer, who said he had reviewed the FDA warning letter at the request of the Globe. “An inspection is a picture, and the picture during those inspections was pretty poor.”

The Everett warning also comes seven months after Whole Foods voluntarily recalled products prepared and packaged in the same Everett kitchen facility, including curry chicken salad and classic deli pasta salad, after a routine inspection found possible Listeria contamination of the life-threatening sort, according to a list of product recalls posted on the FDA’s website.

Man put mouse poison on food in Michigan stores

Police and federal agents said they’ve arrested a man suspected of spraying food with a mouse poison mixture at Ann Arbor-area grocery stores.

mouse.poison.ann.arborThe FBI said a tip from the public led to the suspect, whom they haven’t identified.

David Gelios, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division, said the man admitted to contaminating food with a potentially hazardous liquid at the Whole Foods Market on West Eisenhower Parkway, a Meijer store on Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Plum Market on North Maple Road.

“The suspect has admitted to using a potentially hazardous material to contaminate food in several Ann Arbor-area grocery stores,” Gelios said. “Our joint investigation leads us to believe that this individual sprayed a liquid mixture of hand sanitizer, water and Tomcat mice poison on produce.”

He also said the suspect told investigators he sprayed the chemicals on produce in those stores within the last two weeks.

Based on FBI investigation, there is the potential that other stores in Michigan may also have been targeted. These stores include:

Busch’s
2240 S Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI

Cupcake Station
116 E Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI

Family Fare
2026 North Saginaw
Midland, MI

Kroger
3838 Richfield Road
Flint, MI

Meijer, #108
7300 Eastman Ave
Midland, MI

Meijer, #64
3145 Ann Arbor-Saline
Ann Arbor, MI

Meijer, #213
9515 Birch Run Rd
Birch Run, MI

Millers Mini Mart
3001 Bay City Rd
Midland, MI

Plum Market
375 North Maple
Ann Arbor, MI

Target
2000 Waters Road
Ann Arbor, MI

Tsai Grocery
3115 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI

Walmart
910 Joe Mann Blvd
Midland, MI

Walmart
7000 E Michigan Ave
Saline, MI

Whole Foods
990 W Eisenhower Pkwy
Ann Arbor, MI

Whole Foods
3135 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI

sq-willard-crispin-glover-rat-nl“While the risk for adverse health effects appears to be low, more investigation is being done to determine what level of exposure may have occurred,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive, MDHHS. “If you have any health concerns, contact your healthcare provider or call Michigan Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 with questions.”

The departments would like to acknowledge the diligence of employees at Whole Foods, the quick response of the FBI, law enforcement agencies, and local health officials, and those who provided tips via social media, which has led to a speedy resolution to this issue.

Food industry employees and consumers are reminded to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities. Remember, “If you see something, say something.” Any suspicious activities should be immediately reported to local law enforcement.

Examples of things to watch for include employees or strangers who:

  • spray unknown substances in your store
  • enter or exit your operation through the wrong doors
  • hang around display cases, exposed food displays (e.g., produce or salad bars) or cold/hot food displays
  • loiter in aisles

leave suspicious materials in your store.

Whole Foods still sucks at food safety: Boston edition

A Globe review of Boston food safety inspection data found that supermarkets are equal-opportunity offenders, with hundreds of violations, big and small, scattered across stores and neighborhoods of all kinds.

whole.foods.vomitThree years of citation records from the city’s Inspectional Services Department show a wide variety of problems, from minor ones such as cluttered storage areas and ice buildup in freezers to critical ones like employees not washing up before handling food. And there were nearly 50 citations issued for evidence of rodents, flies, or cockroaches.

Of the stores open during the entire three-year period, everyone had at least a dozen violations.

The Boston supermarket with the most violations — 127 — was the Whole Foods on Cambridge Street, near Beacon Hill, a high-end brand in what is generally considered a well-to-do, white-collar area. But not all citations are created equal, so sheer quantity may not be an indicator of an especially problematic store.

Case in point: The majority of violations (108) at the Cambridge Street Whole Foods involved relatively minor problems, including dirty shelves and improperly stored mops. None of them involved mice or rats. It was last week’s discovery of mice in a Roxbury Stop & Shop that brought new attention to the issue of supermarket cleanliness.

Interpreting the violation data requires some context. For example, larger grocery stores, as well as chains with more locations, often have a higher chance of being hit with citations simply because their size creates more opportunities for missteps. That’s especially true among stores like Whole Foods that sell large quantities of self-service prepared foods.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman, in a statement, said the chain is “dedicated to maintaining the highest quality standards for the products we sell and the stores we operate.”

Uh-huh.

 

Fancy food possibly ain’t safe food: Pennsylvania Whole Foods edition

Sam Wood of Philly.com writes that shoppers once chose supermarkets for convenience, cost, customer service and quick checkouts.

whole.foodsBut a recent study found 83 percent of consumers pick only retail outlets that look clean to them, according to supermarket guru Phil Lempert. A full third of the people he surveyed have turned around and fled stores that seemed less than pristine.

The Inquirer, as part of its Clean Plates project, examined two years of health department reports for large grocers in Philadelphia and Bucks County.

And though each inspection is said to be only “a snapshot in time,” some chains are more photogenic than others.

At the top of the list for cleanliness were Wegman’s and Aldi, each with near immaculate records and very few violations per inspection.

At the bottom were Shop N Bag, Fresh Grocer, and, perhaps surprisingly given its reputation for high prices, Whole Foods. Each of the chains had at least four times as many infractions (noted per inspection) as Wegman’s.

To determine the rankings, we added up the number of infractions found by the health departments and divided that by the number of inspections.

Wegman’s averaged 1.8 violations per inspection while Shop N Bag topped out at 10.

In general, most violations were corrected on the spot before the inspector left the store and the transgressions were minor, ranging from insufficient hot water to missing thermometers in refrigerated cases. Evidence of mice, both dead and alive, was also a commonly cited problem.

At Whole Foods in the city’s Fairmount section, inspectors in January found mouse droppings throughout the rear storage area. Food samples were being offered without the protection of a sneeze guard covering the food, as required. At the South Street branch last week several food items were found to be improperly refrigerated and a dead mouse was discovered in a trap in a bakery cabinet. Two more expired rodents were found in snap traps there in late November.

Mouse-droppings-in-airing-cupboardA spokeswoman said mice were more likely to be attracted to Whole Foods because the markets carry more prepared foods and fresh perishable items than others. Just as customers are drawn to those specialty items, mice are lured by the increased trash and compost created as a byproduct.

“Whenever issues are discovered, like those in Philadelphia, we take immediate action to fix the situation and provide our customers with the service and quality they expect,” said Whole Foods spokeswoman Robin Rehfield Kelly.

“Making food safe costs money,” said Donald W. Schaffner, food safety expert and a professor of microbiology at Rutgers University. “If you’re an upscale chain, you know your customers demand it. It comes through diligence and staffing.”

Schaffner said he wasn’t surprised that Wegman’s came out on top or that the others didn’t do as well.

Blaine Forkell, senior vice president of Wegman’s Pennsylvania division, said each store has a dedicated food safety coordinator and every employee, including the cashiers, receives at least an hour of food safety training.

“We don’t put profit ahead of food safety and we ask our employees to make it personal,” Marra said. “It’s an everyday way of doing business. It’s an everyday expectation from our stores.”