Food Safety Talk 19: Not Here Today

Added on by Ben Chapman.

The guys start the podcast with their usual technological discussion. Skype was again the opening topic, as Don found out that the old Skype remains installed when the new Skype is installed (at least on the Mac). Ben then reminisced about his Commodore C64, which eventually was replaced with a 386. Don remember how fast the 386 was compared the 286, though he used mainframe computers with a line editor (probably similar to vi) to type up papers for Joe Regenstein’s food science course.

The discussion became more personal when Don shared his recent endoscopy experience. While most of the hospital staff seemed to know the value of the Checklist Manifesto (which the guys discussed in Episode 12), Don wondered whether he should have written “Not here today!” on one of his body parts. Don was particularly excited to find out that he had a Helicobacter pylori infection (asymptomatic).

It didn’t take Ben long to get over his jealousy and find out lots about H. pylori, thanks to Wikipedia (which is never wrong). Don’s feeling of being special quickly dissipated when Ben told him that H. pylori infection is the most widespread infection worldwide.

Ben then had some follow up on barfblog on a Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak linked to tempeh which the guys discussed in Episode 18 – Bunkum. The update was that pathogen was found in the starter culture the outbreak is not a result of a sanitary deficiency of the tempeh producer. However, the guys were wondering why there haven’t been other illness reports given the widespread distribution. This information around this outbreak has helped Ben gather his thoughts about the FSMA for a recent meeting at Oklahoma State University's Food and Ag Product Center organized by Chuck Willoughby and the potential benefits of asking suppliers about their risk reduction measures.

But even the best intentions in product labelling doesn’t indemnify the producer nor guarantee appropriate product use as shown in the recent outbreak associated with tuna scrape which was used for sushi.

Ben’s research into the etymology of 'bunkum' led him to Wiktionary (which is also never wrong) and he managed to really impress Dani (his wife).

Ben also reported on discussions at a recent North Carolina Commission for Public Health meeting in relation to the adoption of the FDA Food Code. The food code would remove the requirement to sell burgers cooked if requested by a customer – provided the risks are explained. This led to a discussion on whether consumer advisory disclosures, including labels, really conveys the risk to the consumer and whether they can make appropriate and informed decisions.

Don recalled the traps with compliance, which led New Jersey to be the laughing stock of the nation in 1992 for not allowing the serving of undercooked eggs, which led Johnny Carson (not Jay Leno) to comment “there's something wrong with a state in which you can buy an Uzi but there's a 10-day waiting period to get a Caesar salad."

Don also wondered what compliance with handwashing requirements would really look like?

The guys wondered whether there are other companies who’s food safety culture is ingrained enough to steer high risk customers to less risky products. Ben asked whether Subway would ever advise pregnant woman against consuming cold sandwiches containing deli meats because of Listeria risks.

Don then had a long rant about cross-contamination and viruses, after reading this Microbe Magazine article, which led him to this JAM article. It highlights the importance of microbial transmission between surfaces, which Don’s grad student Dane is also currently writing up.

Don and Ben discussed this Journal of Infectious Disease article, from which Don concluded that food storage containers should not been stored in the bathroom. Ben’s correspondence with one of the author’s, 'epi-god' Bill Keene, confirmed that the Norovirus outbreak had nothing to with the fact that the bag was reusable.

Don used dick fingers when he referred to work on the risks associated with reusable bags. The guys concluded with a discussion of the term “infectious dose” which makes Don’s want to reach through the computer screen and slap them, preferably with the median infectious dose (LD50).

Ben found Canadian band Cuff the Duke on Spotify, which Don though sounded like a dirty sex-thing, but is actually a hockey term for pulling the goalie.

Food Safety Talk 19: Not Here Today