This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

The Meat Expose - and a few questions

Posted by: James Lileks under Technology Updated: July 8, 2013 - 12:56 PM

I have no opinion about this one way or the other, except that the guy who made it needs to learn how to hold the camera. Hey, anyone see “Man of Steel,” and think “This would be so much better if the picture was really tall and narrow”? No.

Now that the obligatory shaming is over, here. When I started writing this, it hadn 125,000 hits. Now it has a quarter of a million:

 

 

Daily Dot notes that this is a bad day for the restaurant chain, which has a platter of bad publicity to clean up. Here’s the Gawker story:

Golden Corral cook Brandon Huber actually likes his job at the national buffet chain's Port Orange, Florida, location.

That's why he tried going directly to Golden Corral management first before reaching out to the media about his restaurant's ironic efforts to avoid receiving poor health inspection marks.

But after being turned down by a number of news outlets, Huber decided to speak directly to the Internet about his branch's practice of storing both raw and cooked foods near the dumpster ahead of the health inspector's visit.

Tried going directly to news outlets? The link in the Gawker piece about “going directly” goes to the Reddit thread where it broke. At the top, someone paraphrases the whistleblower’s actions thus:

He has Voiced displeasure with the practice directly to his local boss.

Contacted the county health department, and was told that they don't handle it. He was referred to someone else and was given that person's name. When he tried calling that person, the person that answered the phone had no idea who the man was or why he was calling.

He made an eBay advertising the steaks by the dumpster in an attempt to bring exposure to the practice see here. I don't know about the wisdom of this step, but whatever, he was trying anything he could think of.

In response to the eBay auction, he was contacted by the police for attempting to blackmail the owner. The owner thought he was trying to extort money out of him? The details about this are unclear: extorting for the return of the actual food or threatening to report? Either way, it's stupid.

He called various news outlets (and Dr. Phil), and none of them are interested in the story.

After all of that, this practice is ongoing.The shocking part of this is: what else should he do? He has really gone a long ways to try to get the word out about this, and no one is listening.

How much faith should we have in those organizations that are supposed to be watching the food we all eat when no one is interested in going after this problem. Oh, I'm sure it will get some attention now -- but by the efforts of a kid with a video camera and none of the people that are supposed to be doing their jobs.

Okay. Let’s say this is all true. I’m trying to think of a situation in which someone calls a newsroom, asks to talk to someone about a consumer safety story, and says “we are storing raw meat by the dumpster.” Every station in town says “nah.” Does that seem right? Can you imagine a TV station not leading the broadcast with rotten restaurant meat?

 

As for that ebay post, here’s what it looked like. The text, in part:

Here is a picture of RAW uncooked  Steak, baby back ribs, hamburger patties and more stored right next to and on top of an outside dumpster. This food is being prepard by a FAMOUS FOOD CHAIN...who is forcing its employees to hide it here in this location away from inspectors to avoid violations..... after inspections the employees are forced to bring the food back in and be stored for the next days opening.... Cooked and then served!!!   WHERE WILL  YOU BE EATING TOMMORROW???.......why would they do this????... good question!..The food chain is adhereing to the "obama care program" by dropping its employees hours to under the minimum requirements outlined in the program..... with this being said the food chain cannot see itself keeping up with the onslaught of buisness expectations during the upcoming 4th of July week...The dumpster area is surrounded by walls and concieled by a door. there are flies everywhere the insides of the dumpster has crawling maggots and is disgusting.  the covered rack you see in the one picture is coverered.....the flies surely wont get to it in the 90 degree heat where its sitting...and ohhh its hamburger under the covers... flies dont seem to like raw hamburger do they!!!

Now here’s the money quote. Literally:

The winning bidder... if theres a winner ..... upon reciept of payment will be given the name and address of the Famous Franchise where these photos were taken... ...THATS IT... NO REFUNDS NO NOTHING.... THE ONLY GUARANTEE IS THAT THE FRANCHISE IS WELL KNOWN ACROSS THE NATION ...ALONG WITH THAT THE ADDRESS OF WHERE THE PICTURES WERE TAKEN......THATS IT!...

if by chance you have had the miss fortune of recently visiting this establishment..... you will know better next time ....

and if by chance you have the misfortune of owning this franchise..... ....lets just say..... hope you win!!....HAPPY BIDDING

The Huffpo story says Golden Corral fired the manager, but the link goes to the video. So if you read the story without clicking on the link, you’d be taking their word about the firing, even though the presence of the link doesn’t back up the claim.

 

Mashable says that Golden Corral has responded:

A video was recently posted showing an incident of improper food handling at our Port Orange, Fla., location. None of these items were served to a single customer. All were destroyed within the hour at the direction of management. Brandon Huber, the employee who made the video, participated in the disposal of the food.

The following day, the father of the employee, posted an offer to sell the video for $5,000, which was not accepted.

The manager involved in the improper storage was terminated for failing to follow approved food handling procedures.

There’s no link there, either. And now it’s the FATHER who made the ebay page?

International Business Times has another detail: management responded to employee concerns by warning them that they might be killed if they didn’t shut up.

Here’s the email, apparently taken from . . . where? The source is “YouTube.”

 

It’s obviously not the original email; it’s copied and edited, with the names redacted, although rudimentary googling reveals the full name of “Tovah,” who indeed works at Golden Corral.

 Also: Ben Jammin  That’s the name for the YouTube account that ran the video and the emails, and the text on the original expose suggests it’s not the William Huber who made the video.

Last weekend i took the Dr Phil's weekend challenge to turn a problem in to an opportunity.

 The problem.....The location in this video is a brand new building less than a year old.

 i have been listening to the young people working there tell me horror stories for some time. i watched as this young man try turning in a statement dated dated for june 2nd 2013

And so on. “Ben Jammin” says he made the ebay page; if you believe the Mashable piece, then Ben Jammin” would seem to be the guy’s dad, no? There’s another video with the “email,” and another addressed to Tovah, alerting her to the ebay page, where the pictures and location are on sale for $5K. So: it could all be completely legit. After all, as Mashable notes:

The barrage comes after images of a Taco Bell employee licking some taco shells emerged on Facebook last month. In general, restaurant chains appear uniquely vulnerable to such charges.

Ergo . . . well, nothing. One question: after a few more of these, will all “social media exposes” be taken as true without qualms, just because it started on Reddit? 

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