Ten Commandments – Food Safety Plan

Ten Commandments – Food Safety Management

You have seen the ten commandments in your spiritual life but what about the food ten_commandments_hebrew_stonesafety life?

 

As we all know, the DoJ has stepped into the food industry and they can seek to prosecute cases where illnesses have occurred – restaurant companies, manufacturers, etc. Our consumers are demanding “cleaner” products as they eat out or purchase their food. With the science of genome sequencing, it’s possible to link illnesses from years earlier to their source, meaning a past incident can come back to haunt a company – long after the event.

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – based regulations are here. The first impression that restaurants and grocery stores would not be impacted is now becoming clear that the ripple effect of FSMA will increase the food safety demands on them as well. FDA has written the rules for some flexibility – which is causing significant confusion and it carries the risk of many in the industry getting something wrong and placing considerable and unnecessary strain on already overburdened QA professionals.

Therefore, the food safety professionals cannot manage food safety program in the same old way. There has never been a more important time to stop, take a critical and unbiased view of the food safety management systems and processes, and emulate best practices being used in the industry.

Follow these 10 simple commandments:

  1. Senior Leadership Team on your side

Senior leadership want to know: ROI, key issues and plans to address those, business trending, strategies employed to move the business in the right direction, and how the quality and food safety strategies support business strategies and objectives. These strategies are always focused on the customer.

Be clear with the senior leaders’ group about the investment required in food safety, and the benefits gained through the investment. As we all know, the investment is significantly less costly than the problems. Provide simple but impactful food safety training to the senior leaders. This will highlight that effective food safety training is provided for every team member in the company.

  1. Suppliers audited

Regularly audit all suppliers, especially prior to their first delivery of items. Must review supplier’s track record so it can be established that appropriate systems and processes exist. The audits need to be structured so that all of the elements supporting the supplier’s ability to reliably meet all the quality and food safety requirements are checked, and where deficiencies are found, formal corrective actions are established. There are a number of good auditing schemes in widespread use, accredited under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Best practice in this area: Obtain full copy of every audit, review the audit outcomes to establish that risks are effectively identified and managed; and ensure that corrective actions requested by the auditor are resolved in a timely manner.

  1. Supplier Specifications

To ensure consistency of the items you are using in your restaurant, specification is required for most items.

The specification should include the chemical, physical, and biological parameters the supplier has promised to comply with to ensure the item is safe. The specification should also contain a full ingredient list of the product, including the presence or otherwise of any allergens. This is essential to enable rapid investigation of the presence of a particular ingredient of concern that may be subject of a wider recall.

  1. Supplier Performance

Supplier audit is merely a point-in-time assessment, and may or may not reflect the typical week-to-week performance of a given supplier. Be sure to include conformance to specifications, the number and rate of corrective actions and timely responses to measure performance. The best industry practice is to keep your dialogue and communication with the suppliers – – fact based; transparently providing comments to the supplier on their actual performance.

  1. Risk Assessment and Preventative Controls

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is used on a voluntary basis by few operators, though not currently required. The HACCP process identifies all hazards that may exist and clarifies the point at which the hazard can be managed or controlled. This process prevents the hazard: a) from entering the food, b) eliminating it in product, or c) reducing it to acceptable levels.

FSMA’s requires for the supplier to identify particular hazard, if not controlled by their process. In this case, they must advise users of their non-compliance in writing.

Restaurants must acknowledge that items such as raw meats, fresh produce, and many other items contain hazards, and take on the responsibility for controlling specific hazard. Implement HACCP (if possible) to ensure that the hazard is effectively controlled.

  1. Validate | Monitor | Document |

The validation step determines that the control measures put in place are scientifically sound and will control the identified hazard. Managers and team members are required to “monitor” the control measures to ensure the hazard is eliminated/controlled.

The best way to verify a restaurant’s plan is being followed is to document the evidence. One can also include a review of the execution and evidence for corrective actions being taken when control measures are out of compliance. Verification is providing proof that you are doing what you said you needed to.

  1. Corrective Actions

Organize workflow, take prompt and timely corrective action when something fails and always follow-up. Documentation of all the required communication of the details between the parties is very important. Train and re-train as necessary.

  1. Documentation

An arduous food safety management system ensures that everything is documented—a challenging task in today’s dynamic work environment because of pressure on new product development, constant change in the supplier world, pressure on value engineering, and staff turnover. For documentation to be truly effective, each element of data needs to be dated, and each action must be trackable. Thankfully, technology has changed, and in this cloud-based computing age and with the right software, data can be available to anyone who is authorized, from any device, at any time and from any location.

  1. Complaints and Social Media

While employee empowerment is a great approach to resolve complaints at the point of receipt, there must also be an entrenched process of identifying and resolving common causes. Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) being used by the masses – can’t be ignored and must be effectively monitored and managed.

  1. Professional FTE

One must have a food safety professional on staff – company’s growth and future plans must include a FTE, if not already! Consultants can help and assist you and your team as well – but there are limitations to this.

In short: Almost 60% of all food borne illnesses in the US is caused by food consumed from a food service facility, the business must take every possible step to ensure brand protection and that all food served is safe to eat.

Image: via leewoof.org
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Win Super Bowl – Food Safety Defense

Defense wins Championship

As you get ready to serve food to your guests in a restaurant or your loved one, follow these simple FOOD SAFETY DEFENSE rules to avoid food safety penalties during fast-paced Super Bowl celebratiosb51_game_ball_front_1ns.

Personal foul

That hand towel on your oven or hanging from your belt is a 15-yard penalty. Not sanitizing food-contact surfaces before, during, and after prepping raw vegetables and meat is going to
create challenges for your coaching staff. Disposable sanitizing wipes are convenient, fast, and effective at home to prevent cross-contamination that may cause foodborne illnesses.

Illegal formation

Two hours is the maximum time foods should be kept at room temperature. Just one bacterium, doubling every 20 minutes, could grow to over 2 million bacteria in seven hours! Don’t hesitate – refrigerate at 41°F or colder. Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, pasta, rice, beans and cooked vegetables should be consumed in 2 hours or place them in refrigerator. Refrigerate salads with meat/fish/chicken/seafood, fresh-cut fruits until used.

Clock management

Pre-moistened sanitizer wipes are the smartest way to maintain clean and sanitary hands and surfaces when every second counts.

Unnecessary roughness

Refrigerate take-out
foods right away if you won’t be eating them within two hours after buying. For large quantities, divide food into loosely covered shallow containers before refrigerating and then cover tightly when cool. If you leave your pizza and other perishable foods at room temperature for more than two hours, you will be moving back 15 yards.

Delay of game

Plan to eat take-out foods and leftovers within a day (Monday) for greater safety and quality.

Illegal substitution

Don’t reheat take-out food in its original container in the microwave, unless the container is described as safe for microwave use. Reheat all foods to 165°F. Use a food thermometer and proper utensils.

Illegal use of hands

Provide hand sanitizing wipes before, during, and after preparing or handling food. Wash your hands as many times as you can when preparing/handling food items – especially ready to eat food items.

Neutral-Zone infraction

You can’t see, smell, or taste bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. It takes from half an hour to two or more weeks before you get sick from contaminated food. Sometimes it’s hard to know if food has been handled safely. If you are not sure, throw it away. No delays allowed.

Hike – Wash, Wipe, Refrigerate, Toss, OMAHA Hut!

Notes: A cooler well packed with ice or frozen gel packs is a practical alternative to a refrigerator. Keep the cooler in the shade. After food comes out of the cooler, remember the two-hour rule. Keep it at 41°F or below. Use a chafing dish, warming tray, steam table, slow cooking pot or a place on the side of the cooking grill. Keep it at 140°F or higher. 

ENJOY THE BIG GAME!

Super Bowl LI is in Houston!

Football photo: courtesy Wilson.com

 

Let’s make American TV Food Shows “Food Safe” now!

If I made a dollar every time someone brings up a celebrity chef and talks about what he or she viewed on a televised program and not follow safe food handling protocols, I would have a lot more money in my bank account.

I know what you are thinking “if a celebrity chef can do it on TV, why can’t I?”

We all know that Gordon Ramsay’s primary responsibility when filming “Hell’s Kitchen” isn’t food safety, its entertainment. The same applies for the filming of “Top Chef” or “Jamie’s Kitchen” or “Paula’s Home Cooking” or “30 Minute Meals” or “Throw down with Bobby” or “Guy’s Big Bite” or “Restaurant: Impossible” or “Bar Rescue” or insert your own favorite show here >.

Remember that Martha Stewart was confined to bed for several days after becoming ill with salmonella few years back? She had made her rounds on the daytime talk shows, preparing turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday. I remember telling my family, “I wish they would show Martha washing her hands to prevent cross contamination.” Apparently, she did not wash her hands well and became ill. Yes, celebrities get sick, too.

I remember that Giada De Laurentiis was on “The Today Show” and preparing ready-to-eat foods with her bare hands while having a bandage on her finger. Where were the single-use disposable gloves? Does the producer or network not know these simple rules?

Foodborne illness continues to be a significant health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illness, resulting in 55,961 hospitalizations, 1,351 deaths and an economic burden of approximately $78 billion annually occur in the U.S.  Foodborne illnesses such as Hepatitis A and Norovirus can spread rapidly via improper personal hygiene such as not properly washing one’s hands or washing improperly. Wearing single-use gloves and preventing cross-contamination are very critical to prevent the spread of illness.

We all know that the food you see celebrity chefs preparing isn’t what the audiences are consuming, but viewers assume it is. Don’t you think that the chefs can include a bit more information and demonstration about food safety? Those few seconds they show the chef licking their fingers can be easily replaced by showing them washing their hands and adding a graphic that you must wash your hands properly.

Imitating positive behavior of a role model may impact the adoption of safe-handling practices. While role modeling has been shown to be an effective mode for behavior change in the nursing and medical arena, the concept has not been applied to food-safety education. Effective role modeling involves exposure, reinforcement, accountability, and repeating positive behavior. We need to start role modeling in food safety world NOW.

From a recent analysis* of 60 TV episodes revealed most common food-handling errors:

  • 98% of episodes (almost every show) failed to wash hands prior to beginning food preparation. However, 46% mentioned handwashing (or showed it), but did not mention that it is recommended 20 seconds.

  • Hosts were shown licking their fingers 5% of the time and touching their head, face, or hair 7% of the time.

  • With respect to cross-contamination, ready-to-eat food or kitchen items were touched after handling raw meat without reference to or actual washing of hands prior to touching the items 27% of times.

  • Cutting boards were used without washing or mention of washing in 69% of the episodes.

  • The host wiped his/her hands with a cloth towel or clothing in 35% of episodes.

  • 52% of the shows, chefs added ingredients to their dish with unwashed hands, and in 11% of the episodes the host was shown sampling food with their hands rather than utensils.

  • 25% of the episodes, the chefs handled the finished dish with their hands instead of utensils, and in 8% of the shows utensils were not washed between being used for raw and ready-to-eat foods.

  • In 45% of the shows, chefs tested meat for doneness without using a thermometer, and 8% mentioned an incorrect cooking temperature.

  • 8% episodes exhibited temperature abuse or recommended serving food at an incorrect temperature.

Who was the most obvious? Bobby Flay’s Boy Meets Grill averaged the most errors per show, at 5.7, while Paula’s Home Cooking averaged the fewest errors, at 4.0 errors per show. Fieri’s Big Bite and Ray’s 30 Minute Meals averaged of 4.1 and 4.2 errors per episode, respectively.

Rachael Ray mentioned on her show that it was OK to leave meatballs out at room temperature and snack on them throughout the night. 27% consumers agreed with her. Yea, sure! Insert your hashtag here > #___

Guy Fieri, while cooking burgers on his show did not use a thermometer, and only used the recipe cooking time. 52% of surveyed consumers agreed that if Guy Fieri did that, they would do the same.

I am not a celebrity chef but a food safety professional and next time you are watching your favorite food show on TV, please remember a few food safety tips:

  1. Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water and rubbing between fingers for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Use a paper towel.
  2. Thaw frozen food items in the refrigerator. Never defrost food at room temperature on the counter top or in the sink. It is acceptable to thaw frozen food under running water at a temperature of 70°F or below.
  3. Wash cutting boards and knives with hot, soapy water after food preparation, especially after cutting raw meat, poultry or seafood. Clean utensils and cutting boards between uses when meat has been on them.
  4. Never place food on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood unless the cutting board has been thoroughly washed and rinsed.
  5. Refrigerate or freeze prepared foods and leftovers within two to three hours. Do not leave them sitting out at room temperature.

I am not familiar with any celebrity chef’s food-safety trailblazer ranking. Let’s let the food-safety professionals execute the educating and the chefs prepare the meals. As for the celebrity chefs — let’s hope that the TV networks and producer spend a few dollars and hire a consultant so that some key information about food safety is shown and implemented on the shows.

TV celebrity chefs are ideal role models for food safety messaging because of their popularity; therefore, they could serve as important resources for consumer food safety education.

 

* Published in Food Protection Trends (Volume 36, Number 6) and work supported by National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2012-68003-30155. Author: Rachelle D. Woods and Christine M. Bruhn

12 days of Christmas – Inspection

12 Days of Christmas and MY INSPECTION

 

  1. On the 1st day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: light shields for all my light fixtures.
  2. On the 2nd day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  3. On the 3rd day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  4. On the 4th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  5. On the 5th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  6. On the 6th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  7. On the 7th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: no wet nesting, all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  8. On the 8th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: all utensils in good repair and not rusty or chipped, no wet nesting, all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  9. On the 9th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: clean gaskets and shelves in my restaurant, all utensils in good repair and not rusty or chipped, no wet nesting, all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  10. On the 10th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: all gaskets in good repair, clean gaskets and shelves in my restaurant, all utensils in good repair and not rusty or chipped, no wet nesting, all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  11. On the 11th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: all foods stored at 41°F or below, all gaskets in good repair, clean gaskets and shelves in my restaurant, all utensils in good repair and not rusty or chipped, no wet nesting, all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.
  12. On the 12th day of MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: clean ice machine/bar-gun holder/dishes/utensils/cutting boards, all foods stored at 41°F or below, all gaskets in good repair, clean gaskets and shelves in my restaurant, all utensils in good repair and not rusty or chipped, no wet nesting, all utensils stored properly, proper labeled and stored chemicals, no expired (out of date) food items, proper food storage hierarchy, food container covers for all my stored food items, and light shields for all my light fixtures.

  

On the 13th day of my MY INSPECTION, my inspector gave to me: a perfect 100% score and I celebrated so much that I became sick from foodborne happiness!

TAKE OUT – Food Safety Tips

With the NFL season just around the corner, and the tail gate season upon us – here are some basic food safety tips – – that can make your life a bit more comfortable. And yea, your friends will stay your friends as well.

Now that you have picked up your food from a restaurant, here are some simple tips so that you and your friends/family enjoy safe food at your gathering.

Tip 1: MORE THAN TWO? IT’S BAD FOR YOU!

Two hours is the maximum time foods should be kept at room temperature. Just one bacterium, doubling every 20 minutes, could grow to over 2 million bacteria in seven hours! Don’t hesitate – refrigerate at 40°F or colder if you won’t be eating your take-out meal within the next two hours. Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, pasta, rice, beans and cooked vegetables should be consumed in 2 hours or place them in refrigerator. Refrigerate salads with meat/fish/chicken/seafood, fresh-cut fruits until used.

Tip 2: HERE IS THE RULE – KEEP IT COOL.

Refrigerate hot take-out foods right away if you won’t be eating them within two hours. For large quantities, divide food into loosely covered shallow containers before refrigerating and then cover tightly when cool. If you leave your pizza and other perishable foods at room temperature for more than two hours, toss them out.

Tip 3: AVOID DELAY – EAT WITHIN A DAY.

Plan to eat take-out foods and leftovers within a day for greater safety and quality.

Tip 4: DON’T MISS A BEAT – THOROUGHLY REHEAT!

Don’t reheat take-out food in its original container in the microwave, unless the container is described as safe for microwave use. Reheat all foods to 165°F. Use a food thermometer.

Tip 5: WHEN IN DOUBT – THROW IT OUT!

You can’t see, smell, or taste bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. It takes from half an hour to two or more weeks before you get sick from contaminated food. Sometimes it’s hard to know if food has been handled safely. If you are not sure, throw it away.

Notes: When take-out or prepared food is purchased cold for an outdoor event—like a picnic, sporting event or outdoor buffet—a cooler well packed with ice or frozen gel packs is a practical alternative to a refrigerator. Keep the cooler in the shade. After food comes out of the cooler, remember the two-hour rule. Keep it at 40°F or below. Use a chafing dish, warming tray, steam table, slow cooking pot or a place on the side of the cooking grill. Keep it at 140°F or higher. 

Planning a Picnic? Wanna serve Safe Food?

TIME OUT FOR PICNIC FOOD SERVING

Are you planning a 4th July picnic? a company picnic? or a weekend get-together? A few well-planned steps may mean the difference between a food safety nightmare and sure success.

Although you may see ants, insects and other crawling creatures outdoors, it is not possible to see, taste or smell harmful microorganisms that may cause illness if food served is mishandled. Make sure that you pack food safety in your carryout box or picnic basket before leaving.

Warm temperatures are ideal for bacteria and other harmful pathogens to multiply and cause foodborne illness. Pathogens grow best between 41°F and 135°F. Potentially hazardous foods transported without proper temperature control will not stay safe for long. Please make a note of the following to avoid your family, customers, friends, relatives and guests making a comment to you that they have the “Summer Bug”!

 

 

  • PLAN AHEAD. Plan the right amount of food. That way, you will not have to worry about the storage of leftovers.
  • Foods cooked ahead need to be cooked in adequate time to thoroughly chill in the refrigerator. Store and transport the food with sufficient ice or refrigeration to MAINTAIN FOODS at 41°F or lower.
  • Carryout foods such as fried chicken and barbecue, should be consumed by the guest within two hours or pack ahead of time to store them REFRIGERATED.
  • Divide large quantities of bulk foods into SHALLOW CONTAINERS for quick cooling and quick reheating outdoors.
  • Keep all meat and poultry, seafood, dairy items refrigerated to minimize bacterial growth. Use insulated coolers, ice packs, refrigerated containers on trucks to ensure safe temperature. When handling raw meats, remove from the cooler only the amount that will fit the cooking needs.
  • Pack salads, deli meats and other cold items by nesting dishes in containers of ice.
  • When outdoors, keep the coolers and other food storage equipment in the shade. Keep the lid closed and AVOID FREQUENT OPENING. Do not forget to replenish ice in the cooler as it melts.
  • If entertaining, set out only SMALL AMOUNTS of food at time and replace with fresh food rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already has food in it.
  • Use SEPARATE COOLERS for drinks so the food containers won’t be constantly opened and closed.
  • KEEP HOT FOOD HOT until served. Use a chafing dish, warming tray, steam table, slow cooking pot or on the side of the cooking grill.
  • To destroy all harmful microorganisms, COOK ALL MEATS properly. Keep a product thermometer available to check the internal temperature. Cook poultry to at least 165F and burgers to 150F.
  • ENJOY YOUR OUTING!

Power outage? Worried about your food?

No lights? No A/C? No power to your refrigerator?

The techniques for handling food during power outages, when applied, will reduce the possibility of bacterial growth in food and help food remain safe for human consumption.

Raw Foods:

As a general rule, discard fresh meats, fish, poultry, or dairy products if the color or odor is poor or questionable. The rule is “When in doubt, throw it out.” Saving or eating a possibly contaminated food product is never worth the risk of food borne illness.

Perishable (or potentially hazardous) Foods:

Perishable food, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and leftovers that have been held at temperatures greater than 41ºF for more than four hours should be discarded.

Thawed food in the freezer, including raw meats and vegetables and fruits without sauces, that contain ice crystals or have been held at 41ºF or below can be refrozen and cooked. However, do not refreeze thawed cooked foods or packaged dinners that have thawed out. Pre-cooked thawed items are highly susceptible to bacterial growth.

Maintaining Foods Safe in the Freezer:

After a power outage, keep the freezer door shut for as long as possible. A full freezer will keep food at freezing temperatures for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about one day. If the power is off for several days consider using dry ice. Check the yellow pages of your telephone directory for “ice”. Many grocery stores have dry ice. Call ahead to make sure that the grocer has an adequate supply. Allow 2 ½-3 pounds of dry ice per cubic foot of freezer space in a chest freezer. In an upright freezer more dry ice is required so that ice can be placed on each shelf. Because dry ice can burn exposed skin, do not touch it with bare hands. Follow instructions on dry ice usage carefully. Make sure it is wrapped in several layers of newspaper before placing it in the freezer.

Temperatures

Cook or heat food to a minimum of 145º. If food is to be reheated, it must be rapidly reheated to a minimum of 165º. Use a probe-type metal thermometer to test the final cooking temperature.

Store perishable or potentially hazardous food cold food at a minimum of 41º F or below.

Water and Cleanliness

Safe potable water must be available and used for cooking, dishwashing, drinking and maintaining personal hygiene. If the Municipal water supply is not safe, use bottled, boiled or treated water. Make sure dishes and utensils are clean by washing, rinsing and sanitizing them in safe potable water. Sanitization is very important at this time. Effective sanitization can be obtained by adding one ounce of regular household chlorine bleach (unscented type) to each gallon of safe potable cool water. Wash with soap and water first, rinse with clean water second, and sanitize with bleach water, using the proper proportion of bleach to water. Allow bleach-water solution to air-dry on the utensils. Store the clean utensils in a clean place to protect them from recontamination.

The use of single service items is encouraged to reduce the possibility of food borne illness. Paper plates and cups, plastic knives and forks that are used only once and discarded are highly recommended.

Insects and Rodent Activity

Since air conditioning usually does not work during power outages, door and windows are usually kept open. Insects and rodents may gain entrance into the building. Make sure that doors and windows are adequately screened, using screening material of not less than 16 mesh to the inch.

By discarding spoiled food, controlling food temperatures, keeping utensils clean and sanitary and by keeping pests out, the fear of food borne illness can be eliminated from your post-disaster recovery concerns.

If you have specific concerns, please let me know or call your local Health Department.

Hope you get your power and utilities back up and running soon! Stay safe!