UPDATE....PAY ATTENTION!Thursday, April 30th, 2009No more kidding with ManBird Pigflu.2009 H1N1 is what it's called and it's officially a Global Pandemic Threat.Headlines first, then commentary...Current level of influenza pandemic alert raised from phase 4 to 5www.who.orgFirst U.S. Death reported. (Heartbreaking)CDC says "The more recent illnesses and the reported death suggest that a pattern of more severe illness associated with this virus may be emerging in the U.S. Most people will not have immunity to this new virus and, as it continues to spread, more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths are expected in the coming days and weeks"Interactive Google Map Tracking of the Outbreak.,-110.390625&spn=15.738151,25.488281&z=5);Confirmed Cases by State# of laboratory confirmed casesArizona 1California 14Indiana 1Kansas 2Massachusetts 2Michigan 2Nevada 1New York 51Ohio 1Texas 16TOTAL COUNTS 91 cases 1 death (Texas)There are numerous suspected cases in several other states.None reported in Florida yet...any bets on how long?Pick your State and place your bets...Clearly this mess is spreading rapidly and the Restaurant Community needs to understand the consequences and deal with it. So does everyone else.There is a ton of solid information for Foodservice People in the comments below...and everyone else for that matter.Also, think about some of these random items that don't get sanitized very often.(They can spread germs and are hard to clean, but easy to contaminate)Remote Controls ( Microbe Killing Remote, Patent Pending by me!)Playing Cards, dice etcComputer Keyboards and MouseFridge HandlesAll Door Handles (both sides!)Toilet Flush Handle...just stuff you always touch but never really think aboutHey Servers and Bartenders!Give out straws with the whole liner intact, let the customers unwrap them.AND PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE!Anyone Flying this week?Read this; -- The novel swine flu is showing the world just how interconnected we are and how commercial aircraft can serve as vehicles of rapid disease spread.I am frequently asked: What is the risk of catching an illness while flying?In a nutshell, the risk of getting an infection while you're in an enclosed space such as an airplane depends upon three factors: The infectiousness of the contagious person spreading the illness; the degree of your exposure (how close you are to the contagious person and for how long); and the ventilation of the space or passenger cabin.We really have no control over the infectiousness of our fellow passengers, and usually, you really don't have much of a choice about your seating partners. So the exposure is pure chance.But this doesn't mean that you are doomed. Most respiratory viral infectious diseases -- like influenza and the common cold -- transmit via droplets contaminated with the offending microorganism when the infectious person coughs or sneezes.These droplets are propelled no farther than 3 feet and can land on an inanimate object -- such as a seat, overhead bin or seat tray -- or on your body. This is why hand hygiene is so critical and is the single most significant thing you can do to protect yourself and your family when you are traveling or out in public.Study after study shows marked reductions in transmission in public spaces when hand hygiene is practiced, and a recent study found nearly undetectable influenza particle levels after hands contaminated with influenza were washed with either soap and water or an over-the-counter gel containing at least 50 percent alcohol.Sanitize your hands before eating, drinking and after retrieving something from the overhead bin or returning from the restroom, and you have just cut your chances of getting infected by at least 40 percent. One of my disappointments with the airline industry is its lack of providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers to passengers. Such a service would go a long way in eliminating infection spread within aircraft.Ventilation is the final crucial element to consider in minimizing infection spread. Ventilation dilutes the concentration of infectious particles within any confined space, thereby reducing the probability of infection.Experience shows us that transmission becomes widespread within the passenger cabin involving all sections when the ventilation system is not working -- as evidenced by an influenza outbreak in 1979 involving passengers being kept aboard grounded aircraft with an inoperative ventilation system.Air circulation patterns aboard standard commercial aircraft are side-to-side (laminar), with air entering the cabin from overhead, circulating across the aircraft and exiting the cabin near the floor. Little to no front-to -back (longitudinal) airflow takes place.This air circulation pattern "compartmentalizes" the air flow into sections, thereby limiting the spread of airborne particles throughout the passenger cabin. Ventilation can involve either 100 percent fresh air in which outside air enters and leaves the cabin in a single pass or a system in which various fractions of air are recirculated from the aircraft cabin and mixed with fresh air.Most commercial aircraft in service recirculate 50 percent of the air delivered to the passenger cabin for improved control of cabin circulation, humidity and fuel efficiency. The recirculated air usually passes through high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters before delivery into the cabin.HEPA filtering of recirculated cabin air to minimize exposure to infectious particles is established within scientific literature, practiced daily in health care facilities and is strongly endorsed by the medical community and cabin health experts.However, oddly enough, the Federal Aviation Administration, its British counterpart, the Civil Aviation Authority, and Europe's Joint Aviation Authorities do not require the use of these filters on commercial airlines.Efforts to improve international regulations regarding the certification, inspection and maintenance of aircraft environmental control systems are needed. To minimize the risk of disease spread by aircraft, regulations requiring HEPA filters for any aircraft that uses recirculated air should be seriously considered.In the meantime, you can improve the ventilation at your seat by turning on the overhead air vent to low and positioning the airflow to be slightly in front of your face. This may create enough air turbulence to push a viral particle from landing on your face and mucous membranes.Finally, face masks are effective. In 2003, during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic, 76 percent of Hong Kong residents wore simple masks, and in this case, mask use was associated with a lower incidence of SARS, as well as upper respiratory tract infections and influenza. A recent analysis of public health interventions used during the SARS epidemic suggests that the use of masks by the public was 68 percent effective in decreasing rates of infection, with simple face masks, and 91 percent effective for more sophisticated N95 face masks.The take-home message is this: Use a surgical mask when you are traveling to areas that have reported cases of swine flu and bring an additional one to give to anyone near you who forgot one or appears to be sick and is coughing or sneezing.Prevention of a disease outbreak is the most important means of control and requires a proactive approach. The aviation industry and medical community should better educate the general public about health issues related to air travel and infection control.The only way to eliminate any risk of cross-infection in the aircraft cabin -- or the rapid worldwide spread of an infectious agent -- is to prevent would-be passengers who are either substantially exposed to or carrying transmissible infections from flying.This needs to come from education and promoting individual responsibility, since the systematic screening of passengers for contagious diseases is impractical. Although thermal scanners used in airports may detect travelers with symptoms, they are not effective since people exposed to an infectious disease could travel without any signs or symptoms and yet still be infectious.The late Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg once said "The microbe that felled one child in a distant continent yesterday can reach yours today, and seed a global pandemic tomorrow." True words.Original Post: (a few days ago)Don't panic. I'm not trying to be alarmist.The CDC updates are here. Click Here.Some of us have joked about the elusive ManBearPig for years. That was funny. This is not.Now we have a ManBirdPigFlu virus. A mutation with no vaccine. By all accounts so far, this one is nasty. And it spreads easily in crowds. Crowds like you find in a bar or restaurant.A few years ago when the original avian flu virus hit Southeast Asia, tourism and restaurant traffic came to a halt in Hong Kong, Singapore etc.This event alone crashed the entire Australian Lobster Tail market. Prices halved in a matter of producers beware. Many restaurants went out of business.This time it's in our own backyard.There has never been a more relevant time to remind everyone to wash their hands frequently, don't work in restaurants when you're sick.Just as important, educate yourselves now on this entire issue...from reliable sources. CDC, WHO etc. No, doubt, activists will jump all over this.Be prepared to answer guest questions about pork. Consuming pork products are perfectly safe...but don't take my word for it.Some good resources to start:Glad to see the National Pork Producers Council is on the ball.I haven't seen anything from NRA yet. Our industry needs leadership addressing this issue with a unified ASAP.World Health OrganizationCDCThe timing sucks but the threat is real.
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  • To all who enjoyed this original Swine flu post when the story first broke, my new blog is an absolute must read!

    Link here

    It's titled On The Pillars of this Earth Lies A World Without End

    Enjoy Learning what you probably didn't want to know
  • so.....did you say you were not trying to be alarmist? checked out the cdc site, (sorry, been away a while and just got back to view all of this) and it looks like every state is now affected. yee haw. i think that it will be hard to convince a restaurant employer that staying home for 7 days from the start of simptoms(sp?) as is suggested by the cdc is a good idea. i know that in the long run, and especially as a responsible member of the community, this should seem like a no-brainer.
    on a similar note: tampa has finnaly gotten the rain we so desperatly need, and have needed for 3 years now. i know that at first the corellation doesn't seem will. a few months ago restaurants in the bay area recieved letters explaining the severity of the water situation. they were asking restaurants to be more conscientious of their water usage and not use running water to defrost items, and to turn off ice machines when enough ice was made for a given day. i saw the letter. on of my chefs showed it to me when we were talking about how bad we needed rain. the next day when i arrived at work there were two taps running to defrost shrimp and veal and the ice machine was running as well.
    the point here is that even government involvement doesn't seem to influence some of those who are making decisions in our industry, untill they are caught. transferring this same idea to the h1n1 it seems unlikely that losing an employee for a few days to prevent the spread of this and other illness would be acceptable. we have all been there - calling in legitamately ill, only to be told that if we can't find someone to cover our shift, we have to come in anyway. it has become almost a badge of honor to work sick. and so between lack of sick pay and what appears to be outright short sighted greed, i think that we will see a continuation of people working while sick, and a continued growth in the spead of this, and other illnesses.

    sorry. it's been a while, and i think i went 'round the block a few times on this one.
  • Scary development...across the pond

    The WHO is troubled because in one of the 10 cases in Spain the virus was transmitted from person-to-person within the community.

    The other nine infected people had returned from Mexico, where the crisis is most severe, according to WHO spokesman Dick Thompson.

    If Spain sees more such cases of community transmission, the world body may have to elevate its pandemic alert to its highest level. Phase 6 is the pandemic phase and is characterized by a community-level outbreak in another country in a different WHO region.

    Spain falls in a different region from the United States and Mexico -- the two countries that have until now shown human-to-human spread.

    "The significance is that it's another phase," Thompson said. "The virus is becoming established in another area, another country."

    But, Thompson added, the virus would have to show a sustained pattern of transmission in order for the level to be raised.
  • Forced Patio Dining

    Kinda' makes sense...

    Better than closing.

    Patio, Take Out and Delivery w/BioSuit
  • BTW
    Regarding the Mexico shutdown through May 5.
    It's usually a 'shutdown' kind of week anyway because of Cinco de Mayo.
    Simply devastating for the restaurant biz there....
    Probably some restaurants biggest week of the entire year.

    I think we're OVER this.....but this is not over.
  • Mexico City closes 35,000 restaurants until 5/5/09
    Mexico City Orders Restaurants Closed on Flu Concern
    By Carlos Manuel Rodriguez 4/28/09

    April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico City’s government will order all 35,000 restaurants in the capital to close their dine-in service today through May 5 in a bid to contain a flu outbreak.

  • Ground Level Interview with the Principal of Newberry Academy in South Carolina.
    Currently closed, several students sick fter Spring Break in Cancun

    (Ignore the first 30 seconds...just an intro....apparently this guy likes his guns...but it is the South)

  • Update

    Glad to see NRA is finally beginning to get involved in this.

    They've put up a Swine Flu portal on their website.

    Needs some work but still a good start
  • Absolutely. We're continuing to gather more links and information and would be glad to post and/or contribute to any checklist. Use the article we have on anyway you can. We're getting a number of questions about it so this obviously has struck a point of concern with people.
  • If this continues to spread, I will put aside the time to create an 'idiot proof' checklist for individuals and restaurants. Perhaps you'd be willing to collaborate?
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