March 29, 2015

How Do Diners Use Restaurant Scores?

lettergrade-150x150

How do diners use restaurant scores? A Dine Safe study of usage in King County, Washington sheds some light. Many cities have adopted a grade policy for restaurants tool help customers decide where to eat. Some cities use letter grades. In New York,  for example,  restaurants are required to post the letter grade of their most recent health inspection where it can easily be seen by passers by. In Kansas, restaurants don’t have to post their grades, but a new online tool makes them available to consumers. The information provides a snapshot of conditions. In King County, Washington, Sarah Schacht, a member of the the Dine Safe stakeholder group, wanted to know more about how consumers use the information to make dining decisions. With the help of students from the University of … [Read more...]

Second Campylobacter Scare for Claravale Farm

raw-milk

Almost three years to the day after the California Department of Food and Agriculture issued a recall of Claravale Farm raw milk products for possible Campylobacter contamination, it issued another one. Both times there had been reports of illness that "weren't definitively linked to the products." Both times the recall was for raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream produced at San Benito County farm. Retail sales of raw milk are legal in California if the the farm is licensed. Claravale Farm does have a license. Campylobacter infections are commonly associated with raw milk. Campylobacter is a pathogen that is transfered via the fecal-oral route, meaning those who develop Campylobacter infections have ingested microscopic amounts of animal feces. Pasteurization kills … [Read more...]

PAMTA Reintroduced to Congress

Factory-Farm

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, has reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to prevent a post-antibiotic future. Overusing antibiotics causes bacteria to mutate and become resistant to these life-saving drugs. More than 2,000,000 Americans acquire an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and at least 23,000 died from those infections. This carries a cost of $20 to 35 billion every year. PAMTA will address all routine uses of medically important antibiotics in the feed of animals that are not sick. The FDA made a commitment in 1977 to put limits on this antibiotic use. The voluntary guidance that agency issued in 2013 is being called a "fig leaf" solution to a monumental problem. Slaughter … [Read more...]

Hepatitis A Exposure at Casa di Pizza in Buffalo, NY

Hepatitis A Virus

An employee at Casa di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo in Erie county, New York has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. Anyone who ate at the restaurant from February 26, 2015 to March 19, 2015 may have been exposed to the virus. Take out customers and those who ate food and drink at the bar are not affected. Erie County Department of Health is offering vaccinations to anyone who ate at the restaurant March 9 through March 19, 2015 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center at 153 Franklin Street in Buffalo. The clinics will be Monday, March 23, noon to 8 pm, and Tuesday, March 24, 8 am to 6 pm. If you are going to visit this clinic, pre-register at the New York State Department of Health web site. If you can't pre-register, bring your driver's license with you. Vaccinations are only … [Read more...]

Outbreaks Show Freezing Doesn’t Kill Listeria, E. coli

HUS Lawyer for Farm Rich Outbreak

The Blue Bell Listeria outbreak is another example of how dangerous bacteria  such as Listeria and E.coli can survive freezing temperatures. Rare strains of Listeria in Blue Bell ice cream served to patients at Via Christi hospital in Wichita gave five of them listeriosis. Three people died. The source of the outbreak was traced to a machine at the company's Brenham, Texas facility that produced single serving ice cream treats such as ice cream bars, sandwiches and individually packaged scoops of ice cream. Many of the potentially contaminated products were distributed for use in food service, which was also the case with another frozen food outbreak. in 2013. An E. coli outbreak linked to Farm Rich frozen products sickened 35 people in 19 states in 2013. Most of them were under … [Read more...]

People From Five Kansas Counties Hit With Listeria in Past Year

Hospital Listeriosis Compensation

Residents from five Kansas counties have been hit with Listeria since January 2014, including five Kansans believed to be sickened by contaminated Blue Bell ice cream served at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita. The statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment don't reveal names or hometowns of those who became ill, nor would the agency say which of the six listeriosis patients from the five counties are considered victims of the Blue Bell/Via Christi outbreak. Of the six Kansas listeriosis patients, two are from Sedgwick County, which is dominated by the Wichita area. One each is from Harvey (county seat is Newton, Kansas); Wyandotte (county seat is Kansas City); Shawnee (county seat is Topeka, Kansas) and Ford (county seat is Dodge City, Kansas.) The five … [Read more...]

National Kidney Month, Learn Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Risks

E. coli-HUS Damages Red Blood Cells

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is a life-threatening complication of E. coli infections that causes kidney failure, primarily in young children. Because March is Kidney Month, it's a good time to learn the risks and symptoms of HUS. In the United States, HUS from E. coli infections is the most common cause of serious kidney injury in children and the most common cause of E. coli deaths.  About 7, 500 cases are diagnosed each year. And most E. coli infections in children are caused by contaminated food or drinks. E. coli outbreaks have been linked to hamburger, mechanically tenderized steak, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, raw milk, raw cheese, unpasteurized apple cider, strawberries, hazelnuts, frozen pizza and other frozen food products and cookie dough. Symptoms of E.coli infection … [Read more...]

Cow Share Arrangement for Raw Milk Sales Allowed in WV

Milking cows

The legislature in West Virginia has cleared a bill that will let people purchase raw milk through cow herd share arrangements. The vote was 81-19, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. The sale of raw milk has been illegal in that state up to now. The retail sale of raw milk, at farms or at retail establishments, will not be allowed. Consumers would fill out a contract of ownership for a cow, and sign a form acknowledging that they are aware of the health risks posed by this product. In addition, physicians would be required to report any illnesses caused by raw milk to public health officials. Unfortunately, food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk increase in states where raw milk sales are legal. All raw milk contains pathogenic bacteria. Pasteurization is the only way … [Read more...]

FSIS Increases Label Monitoring for Food Allergies

Foodallergy

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a new directive on procedures for verifying that food manufacturers are accurately labeling foods for the eight most common food allergens. The directive is for inspection program personnel. The allergens are wheat, shellfish, eggs, fish, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, and soy. They account for 90% of allergic reactions among the American public. Other ingredients of concern include sulfites, lactose, FD&C Yellow #5, gluten, and MSG. Monthly verification will begin April 12, 2014. This process will include record reviews, observation of food production, and response to specific questions. Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) will ask whether an establishment has developed and implemented control measures, discuss whether the … [Read more...]

Buying Supplements On the Internet Can be Risky

Dietary-Supplements

Dietary supplements are very popular in this country. However, Center for Science in the Public Interest is warning consumers that buying these products over the internet can be risky. First, many "testimonials" from "customers" are fake. The same "person" is usually used repeatedly by different companies, writing the same thing about different products. Second, free samples are offered if you give the company your credit card number. But the time frame for canceling the charge is too short for you to decide if the product works for you. These companies will hype scientific studies that "prove" their product is effective as advertised. But these studies are usually worthless, not adhering to the usual rigor applied to credible nutritional and medical studies. For instance, one … [Read more...]

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