Pesticides and Food

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its annual report on the "Dirty Dozen." The report outlines information on pesticides and food, specifically the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides. Not only are the worst 12 ranked, but the cleanest 15 are also ranked. This report causes us to answer the question, Are the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables worth exposing ourselves to harmful pesticides? Also, is "organic" really better since pesticides aren't used? Often in food protection we talk about threats to food safety associated with foodborne illness, but misuse of pesticides can be just as deadly. Pesticides are used to … [Read more...]

No Bare Hand Contact Rule Confuses Oregon Restaurants

Oregon restaurants are all up in arms about a new health rule set to go into effect July 1. No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods first surfaced in the FDA Food Code in 1993, when states and restaurant industry professionals worked together to apply a comprehensive approach to hand washing as well as limited bare hand contact with food, but it has taken until this year for Oregon to join the discussion. Many Oregon restaurants see this rule as unnecessary. The 2009 FDA Food Code, the most recent version, doesn't allow bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, and Oregon restaurant operators don't like it. They're afraid it will cost more money and lead to more waste, and they're … [Read more...]

Tales of Food Illness: E. Coli & Tuna Scrape

Last June, there were 2 food illness outbreaks that highlighted the complex nature of identifying and tracking food illness outbreaks nationwide. An outbreak relies heavily on each state's foodborne illness surveillance program. Some states are better than others, but as cases grow, it's important to understand there are probably many other unidentified cases not making it on the list, and food safety is at risk with contaminated product still being served. E. Coli O145 Food Illness Outbreak Now at 15 Cases Even though the number of cases is relatively low, what's concerning is that the CDC and state epidemiologists have yet to identify the cause. The cases are spread across 6 states … [Read more...]

Label Sanitizer Buckets

This week's tip is about labeling sanitizer buckets. It's important to understand that even if your red buckets are only used for sanitizer, they still need to be labeled in writing. Typically, red buckets come pre-labeled, but over time the writing wears off. The FDA Food Code specifically states that any container with chemicals needs to be labeled with the common name. As you can see in picture A, the buckets have the label printed on them. In picture B, you can see the same style bucket with no label. Once the sanitizer printing has worn off, make sure to write "sanitizer" or simply replace the bucket with a new one. … [Read more...]

Social Media Extortion: Foodborne Illness Edition

Everyone's familiar with the old way of foodborne illness extortion—"You made me sick so give me money or I'll call the health department!" This worked quite well in persuading some managers to give up at least free gift certificates. Now there's a new form of extortion happening by way of social media. The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento, California, was faced with this reality. The owners were contacted by a customer who claimed he became ill by eating in their restaurant. The customer demanded $100, and if they didn't pay up, he would post a bad review on the popular restaurant review site Yelp. If you aren't familiar with Yelp, it's a site that allows users to post reviews … [Read more...]