Friday, March 28, 2008

The news just keeps on getting worse!

After so many years of living with a food microbiologist, my wife has become a valuable food retail spy. Today she told me two more horror stories:

In our local supermarket there is a display stand for unwrapped bakery goods that extends from about chest height down to the floor. The store manager has supplied tongs for customers to use and there are signs asking customers to use the tongs.

Today she arrived at the bakery counter in time to see a mother wrestling the tongs from her toddler. If this were not bad enough, the mother then said to the toddler “I thought you said you were going to eat that”. Grabbing a bun from the child’s other hand, she stuck it back in the cabinet. Now both of them had handled the bun.

Now, I realise that bread buns are not a particularly good growth medium for food poisoning bacteria, but this is unacceptable. Some food borne pathogens have a very low infecting dose. The display cabinet should be arranged so that products and tongs are inaccessible to toddlers. Owners of self-service food displays need to be aware that simply providing tongs does not guarantee the safety of the food they sell. Needless to say, we will not purchase unwrapped goods from that store again.

The second incident was observed on TVNZ’s Good Morning show. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it and have not been able to locate a replay on their website. It appears that The Mad Butcher was on the show and demonstrating the preparation of chicken. After handling the raw chicken, he put his fingers into some spices and tasted a pinch. The bowl of spices was thus contaminated with whatever bacteria were on the raw chicken. A short while later, he put a cooked chicken onto the same chopping board, contaminating it with raw poultry juices.

OK – the Mad Butcher is not a professional chef and neither is Steve Grey, the host for that segment. The poultry industry in New Zealand has had a bad press recently over Campylobacter food poisoning, allegedly transmitted largely via chicken (though in fact we have seen a significant and sustained reduction over the last year in the incidence of the disease in the human population). This sort of example on daytime television, which is probably watched by many young mothers, is perhaps one of the reasons that we see such a high incidence of campylobacteriosis in New Zealand. Young adults are not getting the food safety message and we need to have good kitchen habits shown on our national television channels. We can’t rely on the food suppliers to take total responsibility for control of food poisoning.

This type of poor kitchen practice is not confined to New Zealand; Doug Powell at Kansas State University, who runs the Food Safety Net and writes the Barfblog has castigated some TV chefs in the USA for similar indiscretions (see for example:

1 comment:

blessy said...

In the world most of the people life's is based on food
Food gives man physical energy to do any work.Now a days all the people eat fast food centers and that no vitamins to there body.In olden days all the people eat good food and they were more strong.the fast food center's they aim is to get more money so they were not to interest supply good food for ever.this becomes some food poison cases are many people suffer some diseases and some people will die with the cause of food poison. so i will give some instructions they are:
first of all take care of your food it is suitable or not.
next Do not eat over food and do not eat fast food centers.
Missouri Drug Treatment-Food poison is dangers

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