November 28, 2014

CDC Wants Restaurants to Reduce Sodium Content


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants restaurants to lower the sodium content of the foods they offer. The agency just issued a report called "From Menu to Mouth: Opportunities for Sodium Reduction in Restaurants", which was published in CDC's journal, Preventing Chronic Disease. Americans eat out, either at fast food or dine-in restaurants, four or five times a week. And just one meal can contain more than an entire day's recommended amount of sodium, which is about 2,300 milligrams. On average, fast food meals have 1,848 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories. Foods served in dine-in restaurants have 2,090 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories. Foods obtained in restaurants contributed to 24.8% of the sodium consumed in this country during 2007 to 2008. The average sodium … [Read more...]

New Study Finds Risk in Caramel Coloring


A new study by Consumer Reports have found that caramel coloring is a potential carcinogen. That common ingredient is used most often in soft drinks, and in other foods to turn them brown. Two years ago, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said that ingredient should be declared a carcinogen and taken off the Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) list. Consumer Reports agrees. While "caramel coloring" sounds innocuous, it is a highly processed additive that contains a chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel). What's interesting is that in the last two years, the amount of 4-Mel in products has dropped significantly. Manufacturers are paying attention to what consumers want. Under California's Proposition 65 law, any food or beverage sold there that exposes consumers to more … [Read more...]

Do You Know How to Keep Food Fresh and Safe?


An organization has developed an Infographic to help consumers keep their food fresh and safe. More than 40% of all food in the U.S. is thrown out every year. This type of waste is costly and hard on the environment. It's estimated that food that is discarded costs $165 billion every year. And uneaten food is the single largest component of municipal waste in the U.S. This rotting food emits methane, a greenhouse gas. And since 1 in 6 Americans is "food insecure", meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from, food waste is hurting people. The Infographic tells you the best place to store food in your refrigerator. For instance, did you know that the door isn't a good place to store anything perishable, since it's the warmest part of the appliance? Do you know how to … [Read more...]

CDC Surveying Local and State Food Safety Programs

Not everyone uses calorie counts at fast food restaurants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to survey some local and state food safety programs. A notice of this intent was posted in the Federal Register on January 17, 2014. CDC funds and works with local and state health departments in California, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee to identify underlying factors of outbreaks, to translate findings into improved prevention efforts. In addition, the collaboration offers training opportunities and strengthens partnerships among epidemiology, laboratory, and environmental health programs. The agency wants to expand this information on a more national scale. Unfortunately, cuts in public spending have led to reduction in fundings for public health programs. Fifty-seven percent of local health departments … [Read more...]

Store and Use Leftover Food Safely

4 day throwaway

Michigan State University Extension is offering tips for storing and using leftover food safely. If not handled properly, leftover food can become a vehicle for food poisoning. Always wash hands with soap and water before handling cooked food, especially food you are going to store to eat later. Always use clean utensils to handle this food. Store it in clean containers. Don't put the food back into the same container it was in before cooking, unless it has been thoroughly washed with soap and water. And sanitize cutting boards and counters. Leftovers should be stored in small, shallow containers, less than three inches in height. Always cover leftover containers. Don't stack containers, but leave some air space around them so the cold air can circulate. Don't use large, deep … [Read more...]

Consumers Can Help Solve Food Poisoning Outbreaks

PFGE Explained with CDC Infographic

Have you ever wondered how food poisoning outbreaks are solved? Consumers play a key role, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here's how you can help. When you are sick Contact the health department. If you think you have food poisoning, contact your local or state health department and let them know. When public health officials can track clusters of people with similar symptoms and exposures, it helps them to identify potential outbreaks. See your doctor. Your doctor can order stool samples and blood tests that can determine if you have an infection from E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria or other foodborne bacteria. A Pulsed-field Electrophoresis test determines the genetic fingerprint of the bacteria that sickened you. This fingerprint … [Read more...]

Mad Cow Emerges in Germany


At least one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease, has been confirmed in Germany. That country has claimed for years that its country was free of BSE, but they were wrong. Public health officials claim that the cow was killed and none of it entered the food chain. Germany instituted "high standards" for animal feed, but traces of meat and bone meal were found in cattle feed recently. A 1994 European Union ban on feeding ruminants meat by-products was supposed to eliminate those ingredients. The cow was 10 years old, and tested positive for atypical BSE, which develops spontaneously in older cows. It had seven offspring. Five have already been slaughtered, and two others were on the same farm. They have been tested and killed. The herd is … [Read more...]

USDA Tells Staff Not to Interfere with Poultry Industry Voluntary Pathogen Reduction Effort

Chicken Processing Plant

Food & Water Watch has obtained an internal email by the USDA regarding a new data collection effort by the National Chicken Council. According to the email, The National Chicken Council is spearheading an effort to "collect samples from chicken parts from most all poultry establishments in order to collectively work on voluntary pathogen reduction performance goals that the industry will self-impose using their own industry-wide aggregate data." The email, dated January 17, 2014 to USDA-FSIS district managers, states that the USDA approves of the National Chicken Council effort and does not want in-plant USDA-FSIS inspectors and field supervisors to question this effort or to take steps to force poultry processing plants to turn over the results of the sampling.  The email … [Read more...]

FDA’s Pet Safety Tips To Avoid Medication Errors

At least 1,000 dogs have died from treats made in China.

When pets are sick, the last thing they need is medication error that could make them worse. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put together some tips to help consumers avoid medication errors with their pets. Start by making  sure you understand why the medication has been ordered for your pet and what it's supposed to do. Ask about side effects, or possible interactions with other drugs your pet may be taking. It's a good idea to keep a list of drugs your pet takes – including over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and prescription drugs. Tell the vet about any allergies or adverse reactions your pet has had to medications. Check to make sure the dosing instructions are clear. Before you leave the vet's office make sure you know: how many times each day your pet needs … [Read more...]

Avoiding Food Poisoning From the Grocery Store


Did you know that you can get a foodborne illness just by shopping at the grocery store? The Grocery Coupon Network has put together an Infographic to tell you about the hidden dangers lurking at the supermarket. The shopping cart is the first area of potential problems. There is a 72% chance that your shopping cart has poop on it. When little kids sit in the front part of the cart, their diapers can leak onto the cart.  Wipe the cart handle and the "sitting" area with wipes before you start shopping. Many stores provide the wipes, but it's a good idea to carry your own. It's a good idea to just avoid putting food in the seat area. Recalls are usually posted at the store. Check them to make sure you don't have any food in your house that is recalled for pathogenic bacteria, incorrect … [Read more...]

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