This past weekend, like many people, I attended an outdoor barbecue.  While awaiting the hamburgers to reach my preferred medium-well doneness, I spoke with the cook as he was tending the fire on the free-standing Weber Grill. While we were talking I noticed he was taking finished hamburgers from the grill and placing them on the same plate they had been resting on before they were put on the grill. When I mentioned that doing that would allow any pathogens left on the plate from the raw meat patties could/would contaminate the finished burgers and possible make the picnic goers ill, he pooh-poohed my concerns and dismissed it by noting that he had been doing things this way for years, including when they tailgate at Chicago Bears games, and nobody ever got sick! I quickly went and got my hamburger bun and had him put my burger on the bun directly from the grill surface.

The above incident came to mind this morning when I noticed on the Food Safety News  website that they had reprinted the USDA's Tailgating Food Safety Q&A.  As we enter the football seasons for both the NFL and the NCAA we should all review these six fairly simple Q&A's in order to keep ourselves and our friends safe as we enjoy our burgers, hot dogs, potato and egg salads etc.

Recently the FDA entered into a five-year agreement with Life Technologies of Carlsbad, CA. for them to create and develop rapid detection tests to find and identify food borne pathogens using genetic material provided by the FDA. The final target of the agreement is the development of real-time tests to quickly detect specific strains of E-coli and Salmonella, both of which have been in the news too much in the past several years. Additionally, these tests will genetically sequence bacteria and analyze the results for use in future tests, while the genome sequences will be included in the National Institutes of Health Genbank and shared with the food safety research community. This is a giant step in the right direction and the FDA should be applauded for this initiative.

It is indeed a new beginning for me. I recently resigned from Virgo LLC and severed all ties to Food Product Design Magazine which I founded and launched in 1991. My new endeavor is Weeks Communications LLC. I will be applying my 28 years of food industry experience and knowledge as a speaker/moderator, consultant on things food.

Throughout my 28 years in the food industry I have been fascinated by ethnic cuisines and how to most effectively market to those ever-growing and valuable market segments. More often than not, I have turned to one of our industries most reliable sources, The Hartman Group. A recent post on their website list a new report entitled "The Multi-Cultural Latino Consumer Report" which brings you up-to-date on the latest info on what we usually refer to as the Hispanic Market.  One interesting tidbit is that 51% of Latino/Hispanics surveyed indicated they prefer to be identified by their country of origin. Question? If that trend continues to grow, will it cause more market segmentation, which will further complicate marketing efforts.

A copy of the above report may be purchased on The Hartman Group website.