by Marion Nestle

Search results: kfc

Oct 26 2021

USDA says it will try to reduce Salmonella in poultry. What about FDA-regulated onions?

In a press release, the USDA says it is going to take action against Salmonella contamination of poultry in order to get closer to the national target of a 25% reduction in Salmonella illnesses.

Despite consistent reductions in the occurrence of Salmonella in poultry products, more than 1 million consumer illnesses due to Salmonella occur annually, and it is estimated (PDF, 1.4 MB) that over 23% of those illnesses are due to consumption of chicken and turkey…USDA intends to seek stakeholder feedback on specific Salmonella control and measurement strategies, including pilot projects, in poultry slaughter and processing establishments. A key component of this approach is encouraging preharvest controls to reduce Salmonella contamination coming into the slaughterhouse.

The North American Meat Institute says its members are happy to assist (Salmonella is a problem for poultry, not beef).

The National Chicken Council also pledged to assist with the pilot projects, but then put the onus of responsibility squarely on you.

Even with very low levels of pathogens, there is still the possibility of illness if a raw product is improperly handled or cooked. Increased consumer education about proper handling and cooking of raw meat must be part of any framework moving forward. Proper handling and cooking of poultry is the one thing that will eliminate any risk of foodborne illness. All bacteria potentially found on raw chicken, regardless of strain, are fully destroyed by handling the product properly and cooking it to an internal temperature of 165°.

The newly formed Coalition for Poultry Food Safety Reform, led by Center for Science in the Public Interest, welcomes the USDA’s announcement, but insists that USDA’s food safety oversight needs to extend from farm to fork.

Comment: The USDA’s jurisdiction starts at the slaughterhouse, but chickens coming into the plant are already contaminated with Salmonella.  This means prevention has to start on the farm, and poultry producers would have to institute procedures to keep their flocks free of Salmonella. They would much rather you cooked your chicken properly.

The latest big Salmonella outbreak is due to onions, an FDA-regulated food.

FDA’s traceback investigation is ongoing but has identified ProSource Produce, LLC (also known as ProSource Inc.) of Hailey, Idaho, and Keeler Family Farms of Deming, New Mexico, as suppliers of potentially contaminated whole, fresh onions imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Keeler Family Farms issued a voluntary recall.   ProSource Produce LLC also issued a voluntary recall.

The CDC has the statistics:

Comment: I wrote about a previous onion recall last year.   Food safety lawyer Bill Marler asks: What did we learn – or not – from the 2020 Salmonella Outbreak linked to onions?  That investigation, as he emphasizes, identified probable causes:

  • potentially contaminated sources of irrigation water;
  • sheep grazing on adjacent land;
  • signs of animal intrusion, including scat (fecal droppings), and large flocks of birds that may spread contamination; and
  • food contact surfaces that had not been inspected, maintained, or cleaned as frequently as necessary to protect against the contamination of produce.

The FDA lists all the products that have been recalled so far.  It also displays their labels.  If you have onions from these companies, treat them like biosafety hazards.  If you can’t bear to throw them out, at least boil them and sterilize everything they could have contacted.

Oct 8 2021

Weekend reading: Selling salad in China

Xavier Naville.  The Lettuce Diaries: How a Frenchman Found Gold Growing Vegetables in China.  Earnshaw Books, 2021. 

The publicist for this quirky book sent it to me and I have to admit being charmed by it.  The French author started out in international corporate food, managing canteens in 70 countries for the Compass Group and based in Paris.

At age 27, almost on a whim, he went to Shanghai to sell salads to the Chinese (who didn’t eat salads) and oversee the production of vegetables for KFC and other fast food places.

He was, to say the least, ignorant of Chinese language and culture but learned a lot during the twenty years or so he spent there.

His book is about how his naivete and uncertainty got in the way of getting small farmers to grow lettuce and other vegetables consistently and safely, and how he slowly and painfully learned to speak and write Chinese, and learn the importance of guanxi (personal relationships essential for getting anything done in China).

He is so modest, so hard on himself, and so likable that I wanted him to succeed—which he did, and quite well.

Among other things, his company produced bagged salads for Chinese supermarkets.  Food safety maven that I am, I won’t even buy bagged salads in the U.S.  His descriptions of small-scale food production are terrifying.

He reports no outbreaks due to his products, although he talks about plenty of others, including the melamine-in-infant-formula scandal predicted by the earlier melamine-in-pet-food scandal I wrote about in Pet Food Politics.  

I liked his thoughtfulness about his experience.

All these years, I had viewed the microscopic farming plots as a barrier to the modernization of China’s agriculture.  But after a few hours with my Chinese friends, I was beginning to see things differently.  Where would all these seasonal foods come from if there were fewer farmers?  Would there still be regional differences?  If China follows the developmental path of the West, the number of farmers will shrink while operations increase in size.  Farms will focus on scale and productivity, specializing in fewer crops, breeding the most productive ones and neglecting some that have a higher nutritional content but lower returns per acre.  Is that really what Chinese consumers want?

…family farmers weren’t necessarily just an obstacle on China’s path toward modernization; they might actually be its cultural gatekeepers, protecting the local food industry and underpinning a renaissance of Chinese beliefs that will be key to the health of both the Chinese people and the safety of the foods they cherish.  (p. 246)

Quirky?  Definitely for a business book, but in a good way.  I enjoyed reading it.

[The author is now a food business consultant in Oakland, CA].

Sep 3 2020

Where are we on cell-based meat alternatives?

Let’s catch up on what’s happening with cell-based meat, so far still in development, regulated jointly by FDA (pre-harvest) and USDA (post-harvest), but not yet approved for human consumption.

I think I can wait.

Aug 20 2020

What else is happening with plant-based meat alternatives

Since writing about Christopher Gardner’s study on Monday this week, I have plant-based meats on my mind.  Here are some other recent items about the booming interest in these products.

Apr 28 2020

Coronavirus: effects on the restaurant industry

Recall that Americans spend about half our food dollars on food consumed outside the home.   Therefore, the virus-induced closure of restaurants affects food supply chains, but it also affects restaurant workers, owners, operators, and patrons.

Restaurant workers

A survey by the New York State Restaurant Association says 80 percent of state restaurant workers have been laid off since the outbreak started—more than 527,000 people.

In a letter to Congress, the National Restaurant Association says 8 million restaurant employees have already been furloughed or laid off, or two-thirds of the entire workforce.

The New York Times reports that restaurants account for about 40 percent of COVID-19 related layoffs, the most of any industry.  This statistic is based on New York State Department of Labor data.

Restaurant owners

To get an idea of what this is like for small restaurant owners, read Gabrielle Hamilton’s account in the New York Times Sunday Magazine: My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?  Hamilton is the award-winning chef-owner of Prune, a small restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village.

The Wall Street Journal reports that restaurant chains cannot adequately source masks and gloves for their employees.

Restaurant patrons

Tom Sietsema, the restaurant critic for the Washington Post, writes about what it feels like to not be able to go to restaurants.

Gee, do I miss the good old days. And boy, am I trying hard to summon them from home. Honestly, though, my new acquaintances Caviar, Postmates and Uber Eats can never replace all the in-the-flesh servers and chefs who have made Washington a premier restaurant destination in recent years.

The bailouts

Restaurants are having special problems with the government’s forgivable loan program.  It turns out, the expansion of unemployment benefits authorized by the $2 trillion stimulus package sometimes pay workers twice their restaurant salary.

What?  Unemployment benefits pay MORE than restaurant work?  The shocking figures: unemployment benefits go to an average high of $970 per week, but this is nearly double average weekly pay within the food industry.

The $350 billion loan program quickly ran out of money when more than 46,000 loans were approved.   Food services firms got $30.5 billion.

Most of the money went to large restaurant firms: ‘The Big Guys Get Bailed Out’: Restaurants Vie for Relief Funds

The provision, in a section outlining which small businesses qualify for loans from the federal government, allowed big chains like Shake Shack, Potbelly and Ruth’s Chris Steak House to get tens of millions of dollars while many smaller restaurants walked away with nothing when the $349 billion fund was exhausted last week. On Monday, Congress and the White House were nearing a deal to replenish that fund with $300 billion in additional relief.  The inequity caused widespread outrage. Independent owners said it would create a post-pandemic landscape in which chains dominated and small, vibrant restaurants collapsed. Some lawmakers said the outcome had violated the spirit of the legislation.

Chains like Potbelly, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Taco Cabana qualified to get the maximum $10 million in loans even though they employed thousands of workers.

Some of these companies had been making money but spent it to buy back their own stocks.  As the New York Times reported Some Companies Seeking Bailouts Had Piles of Cash, Then Spent It.” Those companies, includingd KFC, Wendy’s, and Papa John’s, among others, asked for $145 billion in relief.

These companies had been highly profitable in recent years, yet they were seeking help from the federal government. Where had all their money gone? Like much of corporate America, the restaurant chains had spent a large chunk on buying back their own stock, a practice aimed at bolstering its price. Some were even more vulnerable to the economic shock because they had previously increased their borrowing — including to fund buybacks or pay dividends — and strained their credit in the process.

Some companies, embarrassed by the uproar, returned the funds.  The first to do so was Shake Shack (see Danny Meyer’s statement) 

Now the restaurant industry wants its own targeted recovery fund, as it explained in a letter to Congress.

What will restaurants look like in the future?

For sure, they will be different.

The National Restaurant Association, which represents chain restaurants, issued new general guidelines.   These largely defer to government regulations, but leave most practices to owners’ discretion.

Independent restaurant groups are trying to develop more detailed protocols.  They refer to a set of guidelines  issued by the founder of Black Sheep Restaurants in Hong Kong.

I hope that the revelations about how badly restaurant workers are treated and paid will inspire legislative action.

To me, the most shocking revelation is how restaurant workers who rely on tips do not qualify for unemployment insurance in some states because their salaries are so low that they do not meet earning requirements.  That has to change.

Dec 27 2017

Planet Fat: The New York Times series on global obesity

Since September, the New York Times has been investigating how the food industry markets its products in the developing world, and how this marketing is encouraging a rising prevalence of obesity and its health consequences. The series is called Planet Fat.   This is the complete set to date, in reverse chronological order.

If you haven’t read them, this week is a good time to catch up.  Enjoy!

One Man’s Stand Against Junk Food as Diabetes Climbs Across India

India is “sitting on a volcano” of diabetes. A father’s effort to ban junk food sales in and near schools aims to change what children eat.

Dec. 26, 2017

 

Dec. 23, 2017

 

Dec. 11, 2017

 

Nov. 13, 2017

 

Oct. 2, 2017

 

Oct. 2, 2017

 

Sept. 16, 2017

 

Sept. 17, 2017

 

Jul 31 2017

Bakery and Snacks Special Edition: Grain-Free, Gluten-Free

BakeryandSnacks.com is another industry newsletter I subscribe to for keeping me up to date on what’s happening with baked goods and snacks.

Special Edition: Is grain-free the new gluten-free?

Grain-free may still be niche but it’s gaining traction among consumers who perceive it as the next step to better health. ‘Going completely grainless’ is becoming increasingly popular among consumers who are moving away from processed foods and incorporating natural ingredients, such as nuts, legumes and pulses, into their diets that boost their intake of proteins and minerals. The grain-free trend is an extension of the gluten-free trend, which is predicted to reach $4.35b by 2013 in the US, according to MicroMarketMonitor.

And just for fun, I’m adding this fascinating one from the B&S daily feed:

Feb 25 2016

Food Navigator-USA’s Special Edition on on Oils and fats

Is fat really good or bad and, one way or the other, is it really back?

Food Navigator-USA has an interest in fats from the perspective of companies that use them in food processing.  Here’s what it says:

Fats are often classed into good, bad and ugly categories. But do consumers know which are which, and how can manufacturers help increase consumption of the healthier variety (MUFAs and PUFAs) and reduce trans- and saturated fats (and that’s assuming that saturated fats really are the bogeyman many dietitians have made them out to be)?

Protein is hot, sugar is public enemy #1, and fat is back (so the trend-watchers say). But when it comes to good, bad and ugly fats, does everyone agree on which are which? Check out our gallery of insights from consumers, industry stakeholders, and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee…

Cobram Estate will enter US to fill what it says is a void in high quality, extra virgin olive oilsAward winning Australian olive oil manufacturer Cobram Estate in February will extend its reach into the competitive US market, which it says suffers a dearth of high quality, extra virgin olive oils. .. Read

Solazyme to launch algae butter in early 2016: We’re offering a hard fat from a completely new sourceSolazyme is aiming to launch the latest addition to its micro-algae-based ingredients portfolio in early 2016 – an algae butter – which it says could replace hard fats such as palm oil or partially hydrogenated oils in a variety of applications spanning confectionery, bakery and spreads… Read

Do we need new labeling conventions around fully hydrogenated oils?Fully hydrogenated oils (FHOs) do not create harmful trans-fats, and could replace partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in many applications. However, manufacturers are reluctant to use them because the word ‘hydrogenated’ has become “demonized”, argues one expert, who says efforts are underway to find an alternative name for FHOs that will satisfy manufacturers, consumers, and regulators.  .. Read

Judge stays Gen Mills trans fat lawsuit, but FDA has left firms exposed to civil litigation, argue attorneysIn a ruling that will be read with interest by food manufacturers worried about being sued for using partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), a judge in California has stayed a PHO-related class action vs General Mills until the FDA decides whether certain low-level uses should be permitted… Read

JM Smucker to settle lawsuit over ‘all natural’ claims on Crisco oils made with GMOsJM Smucker has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of misleading shoppers by labeling selected Crisco cooking oil as ‘all natural’, according to court papers filed in New York… Read

Solazyme unveils Thrive, the first culinary algae oil in the market and its first consumer food brandMicroalgae specialist Solazyme has moved into the consumer packaged goods (CPG) arena with the launch of Thrive, a culinary oil from algae that will make its debut at upmarket grocer Gelson’s Markets in southern California this week… Read

Solazyme expands algae oil JV with Bunge to develop ‘breakthrough” products for food and animal nutritionSan Francisco-based microalgae pioneer Solazyme has expand its joint venture with oils expert Bunge to develop a “range of breakthrough oils for food and products for animal nutrition”… Read

Extra virgin olive oil exec: You wouldn’t buy rotten meat or stale bread, so why are you buying rotten olive oil?Claims that much of the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) sold in US supermarket is not ‘extra virgin’ at all are hardly new. But the fact that many retail buyers are effectively turning a blind eye to such widespread fraud is immensely frustrating for companies that are playing by the rules, says one industry expert… Read

FDA revokes GRAS status of partially hydrogenated oils; allows food industry to file petition to permit specific usesAs widely expected, the FDA has finalized plans to revoke the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in a bid to eradicate artificial trans fats from the US food supply. However, it says manufacturers may petition the agency to permit specific uses of PHOs… Read