Don't Eat PoopCommentary from the International Food Safety Network Douglas Powell

Spinach and lettuce is once again being harvested in California and it’s as safe as it was before the food poisoning outbreaks of last fall. Or 2005. Or after any of the other 29 leafy green outbreaks over the past 15 years.

But there is some hope that the safety of leafy greens will improve. And it has nothing to do with calls for government inspections, new technology, or even pledges by growers to be extra super special careful.

The final report on the fall 2006 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in spinach, which sickened 205 and killed three, has come and gone, interesting those in the business but largely a yawn to the salad-eating public — a public that is skeptical and is buying 20-to-30 per cent less of the leafy green stuff than a year ago.Continue Reading Don’t eat poop — and other lessons from spinach

Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor of the Don't Eat PoopMcClatchy-Tribure interviewed Dr. Doug Powell of the Food Safety Network:

E. coli in the spinach. Salmonella in the peanut butter. Listeria in the hot dogs. Seven major food recalls since July.

The Food Safety Network, which has a new home at Kansas State University, is dedicated to stopping the epidemic of food contamination that sickens 76 million people – one out of every four Americans – and kills 5,000 each year.

The network combines public awareness with an Internet-based information service and research projects in an effort to educate growers, consumers and workers.

Microbiologist Doug Powell started the organization more than a decade ago at the University of Guelph in Canada. Now an associate professor of food safety in Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Powell is outspoken on good farming practices and good worker hygiene and blunt about what needs to be done.

‘‘It boils down to three words,’’ he said. ‘‘Don’t eat poop.’’Continue Reading Food-safety experts share some advice: ‘Don’t eat poop’

Doug PowellCommentary from the Food Safety Network, Douglas Powell

If Canadian cattle or chickens get sick, the public is told all about it. If Canadian people get sick, not so much.

The silence surrounding salmonella in Hershey’s chocolate made in Smiths Falls, Ont., this month is just another episode in the arrogant and dysfunctional father-knows-best approach to providing health advice practiced by various Canadian authorities. Dr. Phil would say the relationship between officials at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Canadian public is like a couple headed for divorce: they don’t speak unless forced to, and when asked, it’s denial, deceit and deception.

The American-based Hershey Co. finally relented to media pressure and identified the mystery ingredient thought to contain salmonella (soy lecithin). At one point, a spokesthingy for CFIA said that since the contamination had been contained, and the tainted products recalled, there was no longer a public safety interest in divulging the source of the salmonella.

Poop happens — literally on the product, and metaphorically out of the mouths of bureaucrats.Continue Reading Sorry, bureaucrats just aren’t that into you

Commentary from the Food Safety Network, Douglas Powell and Ben Chapman

Don’t eat poop. That’s the first rule of public health.

And the first company that can assure consumers they aren’t eating poop on spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and any other fresh produce, will make millions and capture markets across the country.

The recent outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on bagged spinach which sickened over 200 and killed four was the tipping point: for farmers dealing with collapsed markets; for retailers who say they are now going to get serious about questioning their suppliers; and, for consumers who now realize that fresh produce is a significant source of foodborne illness and are voting with their wallets and their forks — how can they know if the leafy stuff is safe? Or tomatoes? Or cantaloupes, carrots and any other fresh produce?

After decades of refusing to publicly advertise food safety differences — my spinach is safer than your spinach because these are the things I do on my farm and I can show you the data — retail and food service chains may finally be forced to do just that.

And the sooner the better.Continue Reading Don’t eat poop

Commentary from the Food Safety Network, Douglas Powell and Ben Chapman
The death of 73-year-old Carolyn Hawkinson of Longville, Minn. is a painful reminder that food can kill, even when prepared with the best of intentions and under the most divine conditions.
Her death from E. coli O157:H7, and the sickening of at least 17 other people who shared a church supper in July also highlights the need for oversight of such events, and training for anyone who prepares food for others.Continue Reading Community nightmare

Commentary from the Food Safety Network’s Brae Surgeoner
In years past I’ve spent Friday nights under the patio heaters at the Albion Hotel in Guelph, Ontario, drinking gin and tonic, and longing for summer to arrive.
These days I’m more inclined to spend a Friday night counting my pocket change and scanning the classifieds for garage sale notices. At precisely 7:30 Saturday morning my sister will pull into my driveway eager to hit the first sale.
By this time in May we’ve established a route. We’ve trained our eyes to recognize garage sale signs from several street blocks away, and we know (without speaking) what constitutes a drive-by. By 9:30 our stomachs are rumbling and the only sale that’s going to entice us to pullover is a church bazarre — where we’re assured of good conversation and some tasty home baking. But as has been the case so far this year, when there’s no bazarre on the radar, our final stop is the local farmers’ market.Continue Reading Market mayhem

Commentary from the Food Safety Network by Douglas Powell
I met this girl.
When I say such words they are usually followed by tragicomedy of the highest order.
But this time, so far, so good.
About the same time I met this girl last fall, I had lunch with the president of Kansas State University and a few others. Soon thereafter, K-State offered me a job.
So I took it.Continue Reading Food Safety Network expands to Kansas