Don shared that he’s been flogging the podcast mercilessly during his recent travels. The guys then launched straight into the Bug Trivia segment, highlighting Clostridium perfringens, which can be a big problem particularly for meat processors who need to cool large cuts of cooked meat quickly (to meet the FSIS performance standard). Carl Custer’s notes indicate that it was infamous for causing gas gangrene. During cooking of meat the spores germinate and these can grow incredibly fast if the rate of cooling is inadequate. Luckily it generally doesn’t cause death, but can cause a potentially fatal disease called pig-bel especially in countries where cooked meat is held at room temperature for long periods of time. Ben has developed some food safety infosheets for this organism, including this one detailing an outbreak linked to a school event.
The guys then turned their attention to baked goodies and that some things on the Internet are not true. Don referred to one of those typical urban legend emails warning people to discard their out-of-date pancake and cake mixes for risk of causing anaphylactic allergic reactions. Turns out that there is some truth to the matter as you can see from Snopes and this scientific article “An unusual case of anaphylaxis. Mold in pancake mix.” While there are some incorrect aspects to the story, Don would always advise people to not use food that has passed its best or sell by date because of the lower quality (the dates are there for a reason).
The conversation then turned to canning as Ben, the self-proclaimed Canning King of Wake County NC, recently received a question about canning mushrooms. While the email appeared to be about quality, Ben’s concern was Clostridium botulinum (see bug trivia in FST 39) and hence he elevated this email to an 11 on the 1 to 10 scale. So, Ben passed on information on canning mushrooms from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Don was also dealing with canning questions and was worried about people fiddling with established jam recipes for fear of a repeat of what happened in Cowichan with watermelon jelly.
Ben then went on a Salmonella-fuelled hazelnut caper – he was grumpy about the lack of supplier information provided by the CFIA, although Lynne Terry from The Oregonian managed to find it out. Ben felt this information could be important to other distributers who would be able to make better decisions (provided they had the right food safety culture). Don noted that weenie public health folk, such as Dr. Eric Wilke, had Doug all fired up. Dr Wilke’s antics at the press conference turned serious foodborne illness outbreak into bizarre theater. Not cool, dude. The Salmonella outbreak from Fayetteville Hotelon the I-95 reminded Don of FST 11 and the guys discussed some of the ill-informed responses of public health officials after food borne illness outbreaks.
Don and Ben then turned their attention to needle tenderized beef, which was prompted by the MeatingPlace opinion about this Consumer Reports article. While James Marsden was against labeling of mechanically tenderized beef, Canada has already moved to such a labeling requirement, although Doug had some questions about it. Ben had managed to find some research on cooking inoculated and mechanically tenderized beef, although the debate about it is ongoing. Both Ben and Don would prefer to have this type of product clearly labeled, although their preference is for naturally tender and flavorsome beef cuts (such as MSA graded beef).
In the after dark the guys talked about Don’s upcoming trip to Brazil and Denmark, and Ben's trip to Nebraska.