The guys’ problems with Skype continue, though it’s unclear whether it’s because of Skype not ringing the bell or due to their own fault (e.g. when Don mutes himself).
Ben’s trip to Rochester for the filming of a show of Second Opinion was cool as Ben was able to talk to his heart’s content rather having to limit him to small sound bites. The show’s theme was the E. coli O157 outbreak in 2006 involving spinach and it will screen in Rochester probably sometimes this summer and nationally in fall. Apparently the show stems from a journal club, run by University of Rochester Medical Centre, which aimed at providing a scientific discussion of some of the fictitious causes presented on TV shows, such as ER and House. Ben also managed some significant carb loading thanks to the coffee and donuts he got from Tim Horton’s, while spotting Sarah Palin from his hotel room. Or was that Russia? Or Canada?
Ben’s carb loading is continuing thanks to the delicious cookies that Dani had made thanks to a recipe she found on Pinterest. Though Don’s feeling left out, because he doesn’t know anything about this ‘Tumblr for the non-nerds’.
Michael Batz was mentioned half a dozen times (in a row) to acknowledge him for the wonderful review of the podcast he had left on iTunes. So join Mike Batz and Evan Henke – Don’s star pupil who really gets QMRA – to leave a review on iTunes – whether good or bad – though we obviously prefer good. The guys are always open to feedback, as seen by their efforts after Merlin Mann provided some pointers.
Then the conversation turned to hand washing, which is of interest to some of the CSA (community supported agriculture) organizations that Ben has been working with. But, Don’s rant was set off by an article in The Forecaster entitled “In tepid water: Many fast-food restaurants don't comply with Maine health requirement”, shared by Doug Powell. In particular, Dr. Stephen Sears, Maine State Epidemiologist, assertion that using cool water for hand washing is putting the public at greater risk than using warm water. Don tried to think about the scientific justification, though he couldn’t come up with any. It couldn’t really be because of the soap, as camp suds work well in cold water. So maybe it’s a comfort thing, but that is surely a cultural preference as noted by their friend Bobby Krishna from Dubai. But then Ben remembered the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak where lack of warm water had something to do with the outbreak … or was it a lack of water altogether? As expected, Ben is opposed to putting someone else’s poop into his mouth, but strangely enough he seemed rather comfortable ingesting his own.
Don goes on to note: he would have been more interested in the availability of paper towels and soap, unobstructed hand wash sinks. Or maybe inspectors should be checking more critical things such as burger temperature or cold holding temperature? And just because the tap can give you 110˚F (43.3˚C) doesn’t mean that employees wash their hands with it (if at all). As the Michaels et al. and Todd et al. reviews have showed, water temperature had no impact on the efficacy of hand washing. While the journalist wrote that “There are no statistics that demonstrate how many illnesses are caused by improper hand washing,” the guys were quick to point out that Guzewich and Ross’s article “Evaluation of Risks Related to Microbiological Contamination of Ready-to-eat Food by Food Preparation Workers and the Effectiveness of Interventions to Minimize Those Risks” refutes that point. Don finished his rant by suggesting that a better story would be to write about the lack of resource for public health people to inspect restaurants every year (provided they look for the things that matter). Let the record show that eventually Don did write a barfblog post on this topic.
The guys then swung around to another liquid – raw milk – which sent Ben off on a tirade on effective, or more precisely ineffective, risk communication. The offending article was “Education needed to show why pasteurization is needed for milk” in Ag Weekly, which epitomizes bad risk communication. The guys agreed that there were many reasons for why people drink raw milk, e.g. “Motivation for Unpasteurized Milk Consumption in Michigan, 2011” and that it was critical to present the risk, but to let the consumer decide whether the potential or perceived benefits outweigh the risk. Ben pointed out a good example of risk communication that was demonstrated by the recent CDC ad campaign, which showed the consequences of smoking but didn’t tell you that smoking is not safe, though Don hadn’t watched any ads since getting TiVo.
Don is still flabbergasted that educated people don’t understand that zero tolerance does not mean zero risk! Don reflected on why a lawyer upset him after he presented at Washington DC meeting “The Future of Performance Standards in Food Safety: Innovation Ahead?” The lawyer was indignant that she had to defend a company that made pig ear dog treats, which had made people sick as she felt that it was the consumer who was to blame for having a pet or for mishandling the dog treat. Don disagrees with blaming consumers, unless they do some really stupid stuff. In fact, pet treats have been associated with human illness on a regular basis, whether they be pig ears or beef pizzles (here’s what a pizzle is), likely due to lack of hand washing after handling the treat. The guys noted the need for producers to understand how people are using their products (irrespective of whether they are pet treats or human food products) and the risk associated with the actual use, rather than just the intended use.
Don had a great time at MaxFunCon, because it made him feel awesome, and possibly because it made Mike Batz jealous. In winding up, a huge shout out went to Dr. Andreas Kiermeier from SARDI who’s volunteered to doing the show notes. He’ll be one of the first ones, right after Mike Batz, to get a T-Shirt once Don gets the T-shirt idea out of Omnifocus.
In the after-dark, the guys work through their difficulties with finding a suitable time for recording the next podcast, which was exacerbated by Don’s plans to see Steven Wright live. Don found a new Safari extension called TabLinks by Brett Terpstra to save many of the links they discuss in the Dropbox shared folder to help Andreas with the show notes. The guys said good-bye and Ben went to the pool with his kids and Don went to do a Friends of Scouting presentation at a Boy Scouts meeting.
Food Safety Talk 20: I’m not worried about eating my own poop!