THE FOOD INDUSTRY TODAY - HEALTH and SAFETY  •




I’M A FOOD ADVOCATE, and A NASTY CRITIC  

If you can’t stand truth, and believe in the lies you are told by those who could care less from corporate guano, with some very strange agendas, mostly money, please seek help from professionals… because… a good critic tells it like it is, not for a freebee… and sometimes I have been cursed out for telling the truth about places unsafe for human consumption.

What you get here is cold, hard and somewhat repulsive at times on occasion... But it will be verified truth.  It’s telling you to avoid certain things. Bad places, Bad food, Bad Service, Bad Bosses.... Remember “ He who buries his head in the sand is just putting forth a new face…”

Here are five websites that tells as it is, from State run Food Police to people who care about the industry and your health.


AUGUST 2020 ONION ALERT
 - 
Recall and Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers - 

Do not eat, serve, or sell recalled external icon onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food made with these onions. Onion types include red, white, yellow, and sweet yellow varieties. Other companies have also issued recalls of foods, like chicken salads, made with recalled onions. 

At home, check your refrigerator and kitchen for recalled onions or foods made with them, such as salads, wraps, tacos, sandwiches, etc.

Check the package or look for a sticker on the onion to see if it is from Thomson International, Inc., or one of the brand names below. If it is, don’t eat it. Throw it away.   Other brand names that may be on labels include: Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, and Food Lion.

Latest Outbreak Information

Since the last case count update on July 31, 2020, an additional 1,044 ill people have been reported in this outbreak, including 15 from 10 new states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, West Virginia.



FOOD POISONING GUARDIANS

HTTPS://WWW.FOODSAFETYNEWS.COM

WORLD WIDE FOOD ALERTS FOR SALMONELLA, E.COLI, AND A HUNDRED OTHERS

IWASPOISONED.COM

THE PLACES IN FLORIDA YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THAT JUST MIGHT INDISPOSE YOU

DATA.TALLAHASSEE.COM

IT’S ALL ABOUT LEGAL FLORIDA AND FOOD INSPECTIONS ARE THE TOP SUBJECT - GREAT SITE

THE RESTAURANT DIRTY DINNING 

LOCAL STATION THAT MAKES HOUSE CALLS SOMETIMES BEFORE THE FOOD POLICE GET THERE

BARFBLOG.COM

WORLD WIDE FOOD ASSESSMENT AND OPINION WITH SOME OF THE MOST BIZARRE OCCURRENCES 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

 MORE THAN 23 MILLION BECOME ILL AND AN ESTIMATED 4,700 DIE PER YEAR, 
ACCORDING TO DATA IN A REPORT BASED ON POPULATION FIGURES 

HEPATITUS AND THE FOOD INDUSTRY

WE HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES PROBLEMATIC NEW ISSUES, SOME THAT ARE RESTAURANT 
RELATED BELIEVE IT OR NOT, AND ARE POSTED HERE AS A PUBLIC SERVICE...
 


 THIS PAGE 

COVID-9

AND STEPS TAKEN TO SAFEGUARD FOOD NEEDED TO FEED ALL AMERICANS


THE ICONIC CHEF JOSE ANDRES

CHEF JOSE ANDRES IS AN AMERICAN HERO WHO PROVES IT CAN BE DONE
WHEN OUR
GOVERNMENT FALLS ON ITS FACE AND FAILS TIME AFTER TIME


TIME FOR THE TRUTH BY LAURA RILEY

FAKE FOOD AND RESTAURANT ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
BY THE DEAN OF FOOD CRITIQUES AND CONSUMER FOOD ADVOCATE


HUMAN AND SHRIMP TRAFFICKING

TAMPA BAY GOT NAILED IN ITS CHINESE BUFFETS, NOT GOOD 
PLACES FOR FRESH FOOD. SLAVE LABOR AND MICKEE-DEE GROPING AGAIN


WHO REALLY GUARDS THE HENHOUSE

THE STATE, THE COUNTY KITCHEN POLICE, DIRTY DINNING AND SOMETIMES ME



Critical Websites - Now Mention COVID-19

Two senior U.S. Representatives, two former Secretaries of Agriculture, a chef, and Consumer Reports have sent USDA an “action plan” to safeguard America’s food supply during the COVID-10 pandemic. They’ve sent the plan with a cover letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

The plan reportedly includes detailed steps USDA should immediately take, including diverting surplus food that is currently being wasted, protecting workers — from the farm to the grocery store — who make feeding America possible, and fully utilizing existing authority and resources provided by Congress to help farmers, ranchers, and grower operations. The plan also calls for USDA to “partner” with Congress on additional innovative solutions to feed all Americans.

“Too many people across the country are struggling to get food in their communities — at grocery stores and food banks,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-CT.   “At the same time, farmers are plowing crops under, euthanizing pigs, and dumping milk. This is a massive failure in the food supply chain, and only the federal government has the scale and resources to solve the problem. 

That is why I am proud to team up with experts in agricultural space who understand the scope of the problem, the opportunities within existing USDA authority, and the on-the-ground know-how in communities to feed people where they are. I urge Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration to join us at this critical moment in our nation’s history. We must do everything we can to keep people from going hungry.”

Chef Jose Andres

Chef José Andrés, who has gained notoriety for providing meals in disaster areas, also commented.  “As our country faces a significant economic and health crisis, I believe that food can be part of the solution, not the problem,” the chef said. “From farms to restaurants to non-profits serving meals on the front lines of this pandemic,  America has a great opportunity to put forth bold solutions that protect the food supply chain and ensure our country stays fed. Every dollar USDA invests in food purchase and distribution, federal nutrition programs, and support for food banks and local food systems represent our commitment to feeding Americans in need and strengthening our economy at the same time. I hope Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration will act with urgency and be the leaders we need on food issues.”

“In recent weeks, the challenges facing our food system have garnered national attention. Images and videos continue to surface of dairy farmers dumping millions of gallons of milk, farmers plowing over fields of fresh produce, and greenhouses throwing away spring flowers”
“These actions are undoubtedly heartbreaking for farm families who have seen their markets eliminated. But at the same time, their juxtaposition to the shortages and long lines at food banks has caused confusion and frustration among many Americans.”

  • Create and implement a detailed food distribution plan prior to procurement of surplus commodities to provide for an efficient and equitable distribution of food and to minimize food waste and supply shortages;
  • Provide for real-time understanding and collaborative solutions of problems related to processing, transportation, storage, delivery, and other logistics; and,
  • Identify programs and authorities, and gaps thereof, within USDA that could expand the appropriate distribution of food throughout the supply chain.


Incredible Work By Laura Reiley -Time for Truth
THE TAMPA BAY TIMES FOOD CRITIC AND WRITER Laura Reiley gave existence to a series of articles whose authorship determines recognition and credit for what was created. It is the best single piece of work in a field I have been following for years.  

She is the food critic for the Tampa Bay Times, a brilliant writer and investigative reporter, I can not say enough or offer enough praise.  She investigated in depth the inconsistencies in the food industry.  They are in a three part series which is eye and alimentary canal opening.

The Tampa Bay Times  (formerly The St. Petersburg Times) for years was one of the best disclosure and investigative papers in the nation.  From Scientology to food to sports, if there was story there, the times brought it to the surface in depth.  And she is spot on , taking names and kicking it up on what you are really getting at some restaurants and at Farmers markets in the Tampa Bay area.  

The entire story is at   http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2016/food/farm-to-fable/restaurants/

I go back 40 plus years with this paper still receiving it on my doorstep daily, getting some of my pics published and bringing the world to me.  Winner of many Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism and Photography and owned by The Poynter institute, this paper has been a bastion of truth in a media driven world of well, lots of fabrications and lies. I had a chance to meet and spend time with great journalists and photographers

The Institute which is increasing its international teaching work, also was selected to conduct training for Fulbright Scholars and participants in the Edward R. Murrow Program for journalists. 

Recently, Poynter became the home of the International Fact-Checking Network, a group of 75 organizations that fact-check statements of public officials.  Commonly known as Politico.  It has the credentials of truth you don’t get with other forms of media, biased TV, and shock jock talk show radio.


The Chalkboard Invitation

In the flatlands of malls and shopping centers, the restaurant’s chalkboard greet you as enter from the valet parking lot using terms like “farm-fresh, locally grown, farm direct to table and so forth”.  These places claim a direct farm-to-table assertion “ We use local products whenever possible.”  "Whenever" is a large word in a small environment.  I refer to it as an "excusable word".  I want you to read the article and see the depth of these falsehoods, you will not believe what you will read.

The images portrayed about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors, free range chickens, healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom overweight tomatoes rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves, are in a friendly colloquial word in many, too many instances sheer...PURE BULLSHIT.

I have been saying this for years, the food industry is as corrupt as our politicians, insurance companies, lobbyists, some TV preachers and more and more places get inspected less and less.   Our kitchen police look for violations of food control, not the food itself.  

The attraction is “People want “local,” and they’re willing to pay because theoretically local food is fresher and tastes better.  Less handling by distribution, direct to restaurant and money stays in the community.   If you eat food, you are being lied to just about every day. The food supply chain is vast and so complicated.  

  • It has yielded extra-virgin olive oil that is actually colored sunflower oil.
  • Parmesan cheese that has been bulked up with wood pulp.
  • Chicken pumped up with water exceeding 5% Sam’s sells up to 15% and Costco 10%
  • The horse meat scandal that, for a while, rendered Ikea outings Swedish meatball-free.
  • New FAke Terms Like: “Sustainable,” “ Naturally raised,” “Organic,” “Non-GMO,” "Fair trade," "Responsibly grown." 

Restaurants have reached new levels of hyperbole. And as we have found the selections composed in laboratories served in our fast food establishments would rival Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hydes best work in the culinary field with chemicals I can’t even pronounce.  Better food by chemistry really doesn’t appeal to me.

Seafood is much less regulated than meats, and thus misrepresentations happen more frequently. For instance, 70 to 80 percent of the grouper you see in Florida markets and restaurants is from Mexico, according to a Bar Harbor Seafood salesman (name omitted)   “It’s strictly a price point thing. Seventy percent of domestic grouper goes to Canada because they’re willing to pay for it.”

Pay attention to precisely what something is called, says Katie Sosa of Sammy’s Seafood. See “domestic grouper” on a menu and it means it’s local, from Florida. See “Gulf grouper” and it’s much more likely to be Mexican, more problematic in terms of quality, worker pay and fishery management.  And if you see “fresh shrimp” on a menu, raise one eyebrow high.

“The word ‘fresh’ is not right,” explains Gary Bell of Madeira Beach Seafood. “There’s almost no shrimp that’s fresh. These are million-dollar boats and when those shrimp are caught they’re frozen right on board and graded right there.”

To choose fish ethically, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafoodwatch.org has been a resource for years, with a downloadable app and state-by-state consumer guides. And if you see something “fishy,” file a complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation by visiting myfloridalicense.com.  It pays to be afraid.


Gleaners, Organics and Dead Fish

Did you know after a field has been commercially harvested, people called “gleaners” offer a farmer a flat fee to scoop up the scraps.   Now here’s the part I don’t understand.  If PUBLIX is getting the best of what is offered, why is their produce horrid at times. Jalopena’s normally very hardy, shriveled.  I actually called the manager one day to tell him how bad the stuff was on the shelf and he removed it.   Some of the cilantro and parsley greens were suffering from wet mould.  

Back at the farm:  Folks who turn product to smaller locations buy up the excess at wholesale markets, stuff deemed not desirable enough to get shipped around the country to big supermarkets. So while that tomato still looks pretty good, it may have been languishing in the field.

But outdoor markets, roadside stands and other venues are not required to comply with this organic labeling, they just stamp it.  Box labels may give a more accurate accounting of food’s provenance.  

Certified organic: There are more than 18,000 certified organic operations in the United States, an estimated 370 of them in Florida. If something has the US Department of Agriculture organic seal, it means that crops cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, synthetic chemicals or sewage sludge; they cannot be genetically modified or irradiated. 

However, if a farm or business’ sales are $5,000 or less per year, it is considered an “exempt” operation and doesn’t need to be certified to sell, label or represent its products as organic.  Consumers have to become advocates, do it, because Big Agriculture’s thumb is on the scale. Grocers and restaurants want to buy low and sell high. Small farmers don’t have lobbying resources.

There’s a good chance you’re not getting what you think you’re getting.  There’s something fishy happening in the seafood industry.  According to a new report from the ocean conservation advocacy group Oceana, one in five of over 25,000 samples of seafood tested globally was mislabeled. That means people may purchase and consume seafood and fish that’s not what they think it is.

The group looked at 200 studies from 55 countries for their report, which was released on Wednesday. The report authors say evidence of seafood fraud was discovered throughout supply chains worldwide. In the United States alone, the researchers found an average seafood fraud rate of nearly 30%, and 58% of samples of fraudulent seafood were species that could cause health complications. 

Some types of seafood are supposed to be screened for potential toxins or allergens and if they are mislabeled that process may not happen.“People purchasing seafood to eat are the ones most impacted by this type of activity from a health and sustainability standpoint,” says Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana. 

“But it also harms everyone in the supply chain who is playing by the rules. The person going through the effort to catch fish legally and label correctly is undercut by the fraudulent practices.”

The report authors highlight some country-specific offenses that are particularly egregious. In Italy, for example, 82% of the 200 samples of grouper, perch and swordfish that were tested were mislabeled and close to half of the substituted fish were types of fish that are at risk for extinction. A study of Brussels restaurants found 98% of 69 bluefin tuna dishes tested were a different kind of fish. In a Santa Monica, California restaurant, two sushi chefs were found to be selling whale meat as tuna.

Asian catfish was found to be the type of fish most often sold as a different, higher value type of fish, the report shows. Warner and her coauthors found in their review that Asian catfish was sold as 18 different types of fish.

Your Fridge Might Be Full of Fake Food - Oceana is pushing for more regulation from the U.S. government on the issue. President Obama has made a commitment to addressing seafood fraud, and has proposed a rule that would require more traceability—the ability to figure out where the fish is coming from—for 13 types of seafood that are at a particularly higher risk for fraud. 

Warner says Oceana would like to see a final rule that encompasses all seafood. Steps taken by the European Union to combat seafood fraud appear to be working. The E.U. has pushed for transparency in the seafood industry, and has experienced a drop in overall fraud from 23% in 2011 to 8% in 2015.

To ensure people buy the fish they want, Warner recommends asking grocers and waiters more questions about where their fish originates. “Some grocers provide traceable fish, and if people ask, hopefully managers will learn people want to know where their seafood comes from,” she says.


Food Safety

The ultimate responsibility for food safety lies with the producers and not the auditors, inspectors or government agencies,  It Critiqued the limits food safety audits and inspections and provided recommendations for strengthening the system.  “Audits and inspections are never enough:   

They identified audit reports as useful if the purchaser who requires them reviews the results, understands the risks addressed by the standards and makes risk-reduction decisions based on the results.  Everyone talks a good food safety game but it is the companies who are ultimately responsible for ensuring food is safe.  “Any inspection is only a snapshot but it can still provide valuable information.

“Take restaurant inspections, they are made public and are subject to public accountability but that doesn’t happen in food processing plants.”  Powell added that the industry needs to get ahead of and stop reacting to food safety concerns.  “Outbreaks culminate in a bunch of mistakes, they are not a random act of god.  

 “With most food we can’t be sure if it is luck or if firms are doing the right things but they label if it is healthy, organic, sustainable so why not here’s what we do to ensure food safety.”  “Audits and inspections are not enough, when there is an outbreak the public response is huge and it gets them thinking about it.”

They concluded: “A common thread in all of the outbreaks described is a clear lack of food safety culture among the implicated companies. Companies who blame the auditor or inspector for outbreaks of food borne illness should also blame themselves.”  “Why are we seeing more and more nutritionally related diseases?”  “Our methodologies for both production and processing of food are killing us.”   And in the past few years, food-borne illness crises seem to be coming at an alarming rate. 

  • Increased frequency of sanitizing all surfaces throughout our restaurants
  • Increased frequency of handwashing for our restaurant team members
  • All restaurant team members are wearing gloves and protective face masks
  • Introduced restaurant signage and floor stickers to emphasize social distancing in our restaurants
  • Installed plexiglass cashier separation shields in most locations to safeguard employees and customers
  • Closed our salsa bar temporarily to prevent dipping
  • Removed drink lids from the self-service area and now safely give them out with each purchase
  • Established contactless payment transactions in most restaurant locations
  • Our delivery bags continue to be sealed and tamper-free for your safety


Florida Health Department   ( Commonly called the Food Police)

👮🏼  When I decided to do the FOOD COURT, it incorporated in the evaluations, the training I got from the restaurants I worked in and a crosscheck from reliable sources and a constant vigil of the rules and requirements.  It became almost automatic now that I look before I eat. 

👮🏼  The structure of a place tells you a lot and sometimes more than you should know about the food. Cleanliness, efficiency, service all become more apparent because you know what they should be doing. I have a friend who retired from the food industry as an inspector.   Different states assign this task to different departments but many of the rules are the same.  He described the enforcement as akin to Whack-A-Mo.  

👮🏼  In Florida, Inspections are performed at the County Health Department (CHD) level by the Environmental Health section. Each CHDs Environmental Health section is responsible for all DOH-regulated food service establishments located within their county.  Like most Federal and State agencies, they are understaffed and fighting the budget battles.  

👮🏼Most good owners love them as they eventually get rid of the bad guys and the bad guys hate them because they get caught.  Nothing is more important than the health of the general public.   Their rules are simple, keep it clean, keep it safe, make sure hot is hot, and cold is cold. If a restaurant owner can't follow that, he doesn't need to be there. 

👮🏼  The types of inspections that you may see in this report are routine inspections, re-inspections, and complaint inspections. My comments are from actual personal  “confrontations” and each visit is an accurate description of the environment and food in a specific area, namely Tampa Bay, where I live and eat. But their departments and personnel are limited by budgets and time constraints  and they do a good job. 

👮🏼  Example, one franchise was hanging up their certificate a day before I got there and I guess the inspector missed the mens room, there was a gaping hole in the floor where the toilet used to sit.  Let me explain that and take the heat for saying, the place had an open to the air, SHITTER!   (Rules 28 and 29) 

👮🏼  On another, there was something smeared like excrement all over the walls which I will not mention, and no one cleaned it.  (No rule for this since no one can comprehend it)   A distraught former employee got even.  You are almost safer not washing your hands in many places and carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer which is what my patients are told to do and I do.  I saw it, called the agency and they were shut down on the spot.  A three store chain exists no more since their other locations were equally disgusting.

Food Service High Priority Violation Categories

01a       Food obtained from approved source
01b       Food safe and unadulterated; sound condition 
01d       Parasite destruction for raw/undercooked fish
02b       Consumer advisory for other raw/undercooked animal products (except oysters
02c       Date marking ready-to-eat (RTE) potentially hazardous/time/temperature control for safety foods (PH/TCS) 
03a       Receiving and holding PH/TCS foods cold 
03b       Receiving and holding PH/TCS foods hot
03c       Cooking raw animal foods and plant foods; non-continuous cooking of raw animal foods 
03d       Cooling PH/TCS foods; proper cooling methods
03e       Reheating PH/TCS foods for hot holding 
03f        Time as a Public Health Control
03g       Reduced oxygen packaging (ROP) and other Special Processes
07         Unwrapped or PH/TCS food not re-served
08a       Separating raw animal foods from: each other, RTE foods and unwashed produce
08b       Food protection during preparation, storage and display 
09         Bare hand contact with RTE food; Alternative Operating Procedure (AOP)
10         In-use food dispensing utensils properly stored
11         Employee health knowledge; ill/symptomatic employee present
12a       Hands clean and washed properly; use of hand antiseptic if use of AOP 
14         Food-contact and nonfood-contact surfaces designed, constructed, maintained, installed, located
16         Dishwashing facilities; chemical test kit(s); gauges 
22         Food-contact surfaces clean and sanitized
25         Single-service and single-use items
27         Water source safe, hot (100 degrees F) and cold under pressure
28         Sewage and waste water disposed properly
29         Plumbing installed and maintained; mop sink; water filters; back flow prevention  
35a       No presence or breeding of insects/rodents/pests; no live animals
41         Chemicals/toxic substances 
43         Complete separation from living/sleeping area/private premise; kitchen restricted - no unauthorized personnel
50         Current license, properly displayed


Abc Action News - Dirty Dinning - Great Website

Another ally, a good source, not sauce, are the local TV food cops.  Channel 10, I love these guys. One in particular does a good job. This is in addition to the "The Poultry Police". That is the  nickname for the Health Department. Their findings, excellent journalism and commentary are found at their site. at ABC ACTION NEWS

They do an article on bad seeds called "Dirty Dinning", a nice takeoff on "Dirty Dancing".  Eat in a rat infested location and you might be doing just that, "Dirty dancing".  Sometimes we all met at the same place in time. The Health Department, ABC and myself all had frequented the same place. A trifecta of bad news for a place but when you work in the public trust and you know the rules, there are no excuses.


We Tried To Be Fair
Part of our testing and reviewing meant going back several times. All restaurants can have a bad day. With some, leaning toward corporate fast food, it depends on the minimum wage hourly staff.   A bad week is a sign of something else, that's the work of a bad manager. 

I am happy-happy in the kitchen which means I follow guidelines as to food handling, cleanliness and organization.  Some of these things I see in some of these places in these categories are red flags to me. Habits, especially bad ones are hard to break in some restaurants.

Most of the problems in food service are correctable, nothing has changed that much in forty years, sure, faster cookers, better ovens, and food control. These locations that follow the party line and have no innovation and fail are people problems, combined with management neglect and a lack of training. 

Wendy's will always be Wendy's, and the same for McDonalds and Burger King. But the help will determine whether you return. And the hype is the bait.

The things we see are real:
I have witnessed line people with no gloves, handling food.
Picking up things from the floor with gloves on and then touching food. 
I have seen people scratch their head with the gloves on and the handling a sandwich. 
A popular buffet had the manager shaking out floor rugs from the front in the dishwashing room spreading the dirt all over the freshly cleaned plates.  Same place that had 10,000 fruit flies all over the produce and refused to shut the line.  I called the Health Department and the Police to record it.
We list those places and I get heat, which means nothing to me.  There is a reason I only eat burgers at Five Guys and Culvers.  You can either see it being made or the integrity of the company. 


We Marker Specific Locations
I'm not making the statement all the stores in a chain might be this way.   Au contraire, this is why I marked specific locations. Within a normal amount of time, if the situation hasn't been corrected, we will bring that to your attention. If it has improved we will tell you, we will also take note if we sent them an "anon-o-gram"  to their corporate office.

UPDATED   JULY 2020