The guys started with the usual technical problems but this time they were self-inflicted rather than Skype induced.
Don started off by talking about FSIS Risk Assessment for Guiding Public Health-Based Poultry Slaughter Inspection, which he is currently reviewing. The risk assessment is part of FSIS’ attempt to modernize their meat inspection system. Despite the introduction of HACCP in the mid 90’s, the current system relies on inspecting every carcass for visually observable contamination, obviously missing microbiological contamination, like in Gary Larson’s “Early microbiologists.” The risk assessment was undertaken to assess whether allowing FSIS personnel to undertake off-line inspection verification activities would result in reductions (or at least no increase) in the occurrence of Salmonella or Campylobacter on finished poultry carcasses.
The risk assessment is largely based on a data rich and complicated regression model, which attempts to model the prevalence of Salmonella or Campylobacter from different types of inspections activities. While ultimately nothing is clear-cut, the risk assessment does indicate that moving inspectors from on-line inspection to more risk-based off-line activities will not result in more foodborne illness. However, the coding system used in the risk assessment was turning Don into 'grumpy pants' and reminded Ben of Bingo, and it shows an apparent communication disconnect between those undertaking the modeling and those writing up the risk assessment.
The conversation then turned to FSMA and the delay in the regulations. Ben’s worried that some companies may be holding off on undertaking certain activities until the regulations come out. For example, he thinks that some business may be holding off on training staff until the training standards are better defined. Both agreed that concern for food safety and public health didn’t stop due to the lack of regulations and that any effort expended in planning and thinking about food safety is not wasted. Don is hopeful that even if the FSMA is repealed that the good ideas in FSMA will not be lost, and neither will the activities of the Food Safety Preventative Control Alliance be wasted.
Since the last podcast, Don had been to his favorite restaurant, Moosewood in Ithaca, NY while Ben started his visit to Canada with a trip to Tim Hortons to bask in the Canadian ambiance and slang, such as beauty and giver, eh? Ben also went to Swiss Chalet with his mom and dad. When a child on a nearby table vomited, Ben’s neurotic father wanted to know whether they should move. But Ben assured him that they were OK, having ulterior motives in mind. One of the kitchen staff then came out of the kitchen to clean up the vomit with a bucket, mop and some cleaning cloths, before disappearing back into the kitchen, clearly not following CDC’s guidelines for cleaning up vomit. Ben was of course aware of the risks associated with airborne Norovirus infection as shown by his Food Safety Info Sheet and his careful reading this article. But he wanted to see how the restaurant handled the cleanup, even at the risk of his own heath and that of his parents!
On the social media front, Don recommended that Ben follow Michele Catalano and John Roderick (from Roderick on the Line) on Twitter. Don was totally in awe of Mike Batz’s Twitter-awesomeness when Mike replied to John’s tweet about the bactericidal effects of coffee with “Coffee kills gut demons, miniature blood Nazis, and vampire nanobots. But not milk devils. Everybody knows this.” Ben is again trying to engage more on Twitter, but he wasn’t impressed with McDonald’s Executive Chef’s video on how to do a Big Mac at home.
The guys then discussed scientific writing. Despite Don’s best efforts he can’t get his students to write better, though maybe collaboration with Michelle Danyluk on “How to write a paper that won’t piss off your advisor” might help. He’d even be happy if students learned to use a reference manager like Sente. Ben is trying out some advice he’d received from Gord Surgeoner during his graduate studies – with a bit of luck it’ll earn him some beers.
While Don is generally happy with his own scientific writing he wasn’t happy with the reviewer of his recent JFP manuscript entitled “Issues to consider when setting intervention targets with limited data for low-moisture food commodities: A peanut case study” which arose out of an ILSI North America sponsored meeting. The reviewer thought that the approach was very simplified and not novel enough. He clearly didn’t understand the complexities of making decisions from limited data – something the smartest people in this field in the country struggled with.
Finally, the guys got excited about the upcoming IAFP meeting, for which Don had done an IAFP webinar for students and IAFP meeting first timers, which was all about how to meet people. Don also offered to a buy a beverage of choice for any listener who mentions to podcast to Don at the IAFP meeting.