October 24, 2014

Americans’ Eating Habits Got Worse in 2013


According to a Gallup and Heathways poll, Americans' eating habits got worse in 2013, with produce consumption declining in most months, compared to polls in 2012. Fewer adults are reporting eating healthy "all day yesterday" in every month this year compared to the same months last year. The percentage of U.S. adults who ate "healthy" declined from about 67% in 2012 to 63 to 65% in 2012. At least 500 Americans take place in this poll each month. Health eating usually follows a seasonal pattern. People start out in January eating more healthy foods, but that number gradually declines into the spring months. Produce consumption increases slightly in the summer months, then declines to a low in December, most likely because of holiday indulgence. Fewer Americans eat at least five … [Read more...]

Jailhouse Wine: Compost Pile Aroma with a Finish of Botulism


Prisoners who drink jailhouse wine are often among the small number of Americans sickened by foodborne botulism each year. Batches of jailhouse wine, sometimes called pruno or hooch, are ideal breeding grounds for the bateria that causes botulism, a life-threatening disease that paralyzes muscle groups starting at the head and working its way down.  When the nerve toxins reach the muscles that control breathing, botulism is fatal without medical intervention. A recent study looked at a 2011 outbreak at a Utah prison that sickened eight people. The prisoners became ill after drinking the pruno. In three of them, the disease had progressed to the muscle groups affecting their lungs. They were intubated to prevent respiratory failure. Botulism cannot be spread from person to person. … [Read more...]

Men Have Riskier Food Safety Habits Than Women, Norwegian Study Finds


Unless your question is about parboiling or the proper temperature setting for a refrigerator, don't look to a Norwegian man for the answer to your food safety question. Researchers in Norway hoping to reduce risky consumer food safety habits with targeted messages wondered which segments of the population had the riskiest behaviors. They surveyed 2,000 randomly selected people about food safety habits and found that in all but two categories, parboiling and the proper refrigerator temperature, men had the riskiest food safety behaviors. If survey answers were considered a food safety violation, they were organized into groups. Men were the biggest violators overall. Middle aged men were slightly less prone to risky behaviors than young or elderly men. Other findings revealed that … [Read more...]

Cooking for a Group this Holiday Season? Get USDA Advice.


If you are cooking for a large group this holiday season, the USDA has some great advice to help you keep the food safe to eat. The pamphlet "Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer's Guide to Food Safety" has lots of tips about safe food handling. The pamphlet has information about how bacteria get in food, what to do in case of suspected foodborne illness, how to plan, shop, store, prepare, cook, and serve food properly, and helpful charts. Many outbreaks are caused when volunteers at churches and other venues prepare food for a crowd, but don't know about food safety. The guide is for consumer use only. State food codes and the FDA regulate commercial enterprises such as restaurants and institutional food settings. The pamphlet has information about the four key steps in safe food … [Read more...]

American Academy of Pediatrics Warns Against Raw Milk


The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement warning against the consumption of raw milk and raw milk products by pregnant women and children. Many children and pregnant women have become seriously ill with bacterial infections directly linked to raw milk. The statement says, "raw milk and raw milk products from cows, goats, and sheep continue to be a source of bacterial infections attributable to a number of virulent pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Brucella, and E. coli O157. These infections can occur in both healthy and immunocompromised individuals, including older adults, infants, young children, and pregnant women and their unborn fetuses, in whom life-threatening infections and fetal miscarriage can … [Read more...]

FDA Goes Sour on Antibacterial Soaps


The FDA is taking a closer look at antibacterial soaps. Their issue is with ingredients called triclosan and triclocarbon, chemicals that may act as hormone disruptors. And those ingredients don't have any proven benefit; they doesn't kill more bacteria than plain old soap and water. There is no evidence that over the counter antibacterial soaps are more effective at preventing illness than ordinary soap and water. Dr. Colleen Rogers, a lead microbiologist at the FDA said, "new data suggests that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits." The soaps may also contribute to the serious problem of antibiotic resistance. The government issued a proposed rule on December 13, 2013 that would require manufacturers to provide more … [Read more...]

Sriracha Sauce Producer Shut Down for a Month


Huy Fong Foods in California has been shut down for 30 days by the California Department of Health. After months of talks, public health officials closed the business so they can inspect the bottles, the ingredients, and the process to make sriracha hot sauce, a popular condiment. A 30 day hold will let officials test the product to make sure there is no growth of microorganisms in the sauce. The pH level in the sauce must be at a certain number to reduce bacterial growth. Bacteria do not grow in lower pH level ingredients. While no recall has been ordered and no pathogenic bacteria have been found in the sriracha, a new manufacturing process must be tested before the product can be sold to the public. Residents in Irwindale, California, where the Huy Fong Foods plant is located, … [Read more...]

In a Twist, China Bans U.S. Shellfish


We're used to hearing about how food from China is banned from entering the U.S., or that consumer and food safety groups oppose measures to bring food from that country here. But now China has turned the tables by banning all imports of West coast shellfish from its borders. The issue is paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins and arsenic found in geoduck clams harvested in Renton, Washington and Ketchikan in Alaska. No shellfish harvested on the entire West coast will be exported to China for the foreseeable future. The ban applies to clams, oysters, geoducks, and all bivalve shellfish harvested off Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and northern California. The health departments of those states routinely test for PSP and arsenic, as well as other parasites and bacteria. Officials with the … [Read more...]

Californians Warned to Avoid Bivalve Shellfish From Two Areas


The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is telling consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from two areas because the shellfish may have dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins. The regions are Monterey Bay and Inner Tomales Bay in Marin County. This warning is in addition to the annual mussel quarantine that was extended on October 31, 2013 for northern Humboldt County. That quarantine remains in effect. This warning doesn't apply to commercially harvested and sold clams, mussels, scallops, or oysters from approved harvest areas. State law allows only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell those foods. The shellfish are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for these and … [Read more...]

Chinese Chicken Proves Unfit


Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, has released a statement on the USDA's decision to let processed chicken from China enter U.S. borders. This decision was made a few weeks ago, but yesterday USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service admitted that China's poultry slaughter system is not equivalent to the U.S. system. That means China is not eligible to ship poultry products made from Chinese-raised chickens to the U.S. Ms. Hauter said, "China's food safety record is horrific and there are serious concerns with avian influenza. We have also just learned that USDA Secretary Vilsack is scheduled to visit China next week. We sincerely hope that this visit will not be a prelude to a new audit of the Chinese poultry slaughter system. USDA should stop wasting … [Read more...]

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