Sunday, January 7, 2018

[Travel] Happy New Year from Tokyo!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all,
I was indeed fortunate enough to spend the New Year in Tokyo - surely a tremendous experience! 


Always the best,
Zacko

Friday, July 21, 2017

[Travel] Hiatus from Lac Leman.

Dear all,

A brief check-in on a rainy day in Lyon, France. Please excuse the hiatus due to travel.

I share with you Lac Léman from Château de Nyon. Beauty beyond words.




Have a wonderful day,
Zack

Friday, June 9, 2017

[Food Safety] Recall alerts - connecting the masses

The problem

Foodborne pathogens remain in consumer food products worldwide. While advances in food processing techniques, policy, and knowledge regarding foodborne pathogens occur are numerous, both sporadic cases and outbreaks are still prevalent. In addition to foodborne pathogens, the informed reader also sees the incoming recalls of ready-to-eat foods that may contain plastics and other contaminants. Lastly, there are numerous recalls regarding mislabeled products that contain undeclared allergens.

The proposal: improved notification systems

Reducing foodborne pathogens and contaminants to levels below those harmful to humans may prove difficult given the current state of food control; therefore, it is important to investigate alternative intervention strategies. While public news feeds (RSS feeds) provided by the FSIS/USDA, CDC, FDA, WHO  etc. bring a small, voluntary subscriber base knowledge of food recalls & cases of foodborne illness, the general population remains disconnected and in the dark. By bridging communication gaps between
  • ·consumers
  •  grocery stores, restaurants, and other retailers
  • distribution centers
  •   processing plants
we may reduce prevalence of foodborne illness cases, outbreaks, as well as consumption of contaminated or mislabeled products. The proliferation of electronic devices such as smartphones and computers may be used to enhance communication between these layers. For example, text message alerts, smartphone alerts, smartphone apps, email, etc. all may be utilized to keep everyone in the loop – instantaneously. Notifying consumers to be immediately when recalls of purchased items have been made, these potentially harmful items may be properly disposed of rather than ingested. As an illustrative example, customers who purchased recalled item with UPC code X may be alerted automatically by an administrator.


To my knowledge, the closest existing alert system is a service provided by foodsafety.gov where users may (voluntarily) subscribe to a recall feed by email or RSS feed. Again, this only reaches a small userbase due to its purely optional nature. Thinking out loud.. interesting avenues that come to mind are policies in place for which communication and notifications between processing plants, retailers, and all consumers is required. 

Edit June 18, 2017: After posting this entry, I have been informed of CFIA who posts recalled products and their labels (sometimes UPC codes even) on twitter! Although one needs to voluntarily follow CFIA on twitter, this is much closer to the general public than email or RSS feeds. Hats off to them!