Season 2 kicked off with the introduction of special guest stalker Chip Manuel who joined the guys from the Dan Benjamin style box in Ben’s office to provide a student perspective of IAFP.
The discussion started with an IAFP meeting round-up, including some discussion of the official app (iPhone or Android) and why Ben was hiding from his ‘stalkers.’ Chip and Ben both loved how the app gave them the schedule in the pocket, but noted a few minor annoyances. Don was pleasantly surprised how many people at the meeting had used the app.
At IAFP, Chip chaired the student Professional Development Group (PDG) and helped organize the student luncheon, at which Don presented. Don felt somewhat unloved, since none of the students came up to him during the conference to say “Hi” afterward (even after offering free drinks), but Chip questioned why Don hadn’t joined the students at Karaoke. Ben didn’t have the same problem as Don, so maybe students are intimidated because Don is the IAFP president. However, Ben felt that there were few non-students to mix with during the IAFP Student Mixer and maybe a speed networking between students and professionals will take place next year.
Ben didn’t go to any symposia or round-tables unless he was presenting in them, because he concentrated on the technical talks to find really new, fresh and interested things. Don noted that the “clicker” audience feedback was really useful and Ben enjoyed the clickers from a speaker’s perspective as it helped shape the talks on the fly.
The guys then explored their paranoia for double booking themselves for talks. This reminded Ben of a talk he gave on “Using multiple media and messages to create and foster a good food safety culture” in Tennessee. After the talk he was stumped by an audience question about a rumor that Ben had floated his Fanny down the Ganny, which was related to a festival in Port Hope.
The discussion then turned to follow up. Ben forgot his homework to watch “The Wire” as he’d been watching the Olympics. The conversation turned to the Olympics and sports more broadly and Ben recalled some watching a women’s soccer game while working at a bar.
Related to the vomit incident discussed in the previous podcast, third biggest fan, Mike Roberson sent a message asking whether Ben offered some food safety suggestions with Swiss Chalet. Ben noted that he hadn’t, but that it would involve sectioning off the contaminated area and avoiding moving contaminated mops, buckets and staff back into the kitchen area. This led to Chip providing some information about his scientific background and his current work on Norovirus nested PCR assays with Lee-Ann Jaykus. Chip agreed with Ben’s approach for dealing with the vomit incident. In particular he mentioned the importance of separating the clean-up from food preparation and also the need to use validated decontaminants to inactivate Norovirus.
The guys the explored their scientific family trees. In particular, Chip’s scientific grandfather is Martin Videman, which makes Karl Batt his scientific great-grandfather and Myron Solberg is great-great grandfather.
Ben then raised an issue he became aware of as part of his involvement with North Caroline Fresh Produce Safety Taskforce. Listeria monocytogenes had been found on cantaloupes though MDP surveillance, though no illnesses had been reported. Product was tracked back to Burch farm and cantaloupes were recalled over a number of days. Ben posed some questions about what such a recall says about production practices, especially in comparison to the Jensen’s farm outbreak last year. He also wondered whether cantaloupes were in a different risk category compared to other fresh produce. Don thought that Listeria would be found on other fresh produce and that cantaloupes clearly are a risk (as seen from last year’s outbreak – though there were apparently a number of processing issues). But at the same time he cautioned that to understand the risk better one would need to know the levels and how growth of Listeria might occur. Chip hadn’t found much Listeria in soil as part of his Master’s Thesis, despite Listeria having been reported as “ubiquitous” in soil. However, this discrepancy may be related to specificity issues with the diagnostic methods previously used, such as the simplified Henry technique. Ben felt that cantaloupes, and watermelon, do belong into their own risk category as they are grown on the ground, but unlike other produce they are eaten raw and can support the growth once they are cut. In addition, after cutting they are often stored for a number of days at temperatures that will promote the growth of Listeria.
The FDA had described Burch farm as having unsanitary conditions, but Don questioned whether other farms would actually be similar and whether this is in fact a risk factor for a fresh produce farm. Don then wondered whether it’s “blaming consumers” when the increase in risk comes from the practices in the home, i.e. storage, temperature and handling. And what is the solution to this? Is it the farmer’s or retailers responsibility to produce a Listeria-free cantaloupe or would an education campaign on proper storage and usage be more effective? And what would that proper storage be? Don also floated his pipe dream of retailers being able to avoid recalling food products because they are doing an excellent job at educating their consumers (of the risks). Chip found it interesting that all five Listeria isolates stored as part of the MDP program, were linked to human isolates on PulseNet and he wondered what would happen for this recall.
Don then gave kudos to Evan Henke for some cryptic tweets that managed to confuse Mike Batz. He also recalled how impressed he was when he shopped at Shaw’s supermarket, because they provided wipes for sanitizing hands and shopping cart handles. He was even more impressed by the public food safety announcement in the store that color was not an indication of doneness. Ben then recalled some work by Sandy McCurdy on emotion-based messaging in retail stores for thermometer usage.
The guys then discussed three pieces of Don’s follow up. First was an article on eco-contamination in hotel rooms from which Ben learned not to lick the light switch or TV remote, though noodling for catfish seems to be OK. The guys then discussed an article by Dr David Acheson on the intersection of food safety and politics, which reminded Ben of Creekstone’s request for 100% BSE testing. But Don warned of the danger that regulators need to watch out for, namely that increased food safety standards aren’t used as non-tariff trade barriers. The final piece of follow up related to the discussion in the last podcasts on visual inspection of chicken carcasses. The guys are still wondering how an inspector can see anything on a chicken carcass that they have a third of a second to thoroughly examine and Don got grumpy at the chicken processor who didn’t want to be responsible for the food safety of the chicken he produces.
The guys finished off with a quick chat about their crazy upcoming travel schedules. Ben mentioned his involvement in the development of a ‘video game’ for farmers markets, which reminded Don of testing the beta version of Ninja Kitchen.
Food Safety Talk 23: Hello? Hello? Stalkers? Or closing the barn door after stepping on the cat