February 21, 2019

University of Cincinnati Professor Studies Hamburger E. coli

A professor at the University of Cincinnati is studying hamburger E. coli with a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grant. The pathogen is E. coli O157:H7, which is sometimes called "hamburger E. coli" because many illnesses are attributed to that food-pathogen combination. And indeed, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to ground beef sickened 7 people in 2016. Five people were hospitalized because they were so ill. The pathogen is carried in the guts of ruminant animals, such as cows and goats. Those animals do not get sick, but they pass the E. coli bacteria in their feces. That feces can get onto the coat of the animal, and may be spread to the muscle during slaughter. When the beef is ground, the entire batch of hamburger can be contaminated.  Shiga … [Read more...]

FDA Food Inspections Reduced By Government Shutdown

According to an interview of FDA Commissioner Dc. Scott Gottlieb, the number of inspections conducted by the FDA have been "sharply reduced" by the partial government shutdown. The FDA has oversight over 80% of the food supply in this country. All "routine inspections" of domestic food facilities have been suspended. Gottlieb is trying to bring back about 150 inspectors as soon as possible, hopefully next week, to inspect high-risk facilities, such as those that process soft cheese and seafood or make infant formula, or those that may have had issues with food safety in the past. The Agriculture Department is still inspecting meat and poultry plants in this country, but those inspectors are not being paid for their work. Overseas inspections have continued, according to the New … [Read more...]

Almanza’s Restaurant in Garden City, CO Closed By Officials

Almanza's restaurant at 2502 8th Avenue in Garden City, Colorado has been closed bye the Board of Weld County Commissioners. The restaurant will remain closed until it fixes "repeated health code violations."  The Weld County Department of Public Health requested the closure. Chairwoman of the Board, Barbara Kirkmeyer, told the Greeley Tribune that the restaurant needs to hire a food safety consultant, train all staff in food safety, and require the manager and owner to get food protection manager certification. The restaurant has had issues with inspections in the past. The most recent inspection garnered nine critical and two non-critical health code violations. The restaurant was closed twice in 2017 because the sinks in the women's restrooms and the kitchen were not working … [Read more...]

Winter Weather Food Safety Tips

Most people think about food poisoning during warm weather months, but food poisoning can happen any time of the year. In the winter, power outages are the issue. Foodsafety.gov is offering winter weather food safety tips. Winter storms and blizzards can cause power outages. When that happens, food in your refrigerator or freezer can become too warm, putting perishable products into the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F. In that temperature range, pathogenic bacteria can double in size every 20 minutes. If a power outage happens in your area, the first thing to remember is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food at a safe temperature for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours. But if your freezer is … [Read more...]

How Much Caffeine is Too Much? The FDA Has Answers

The FDA has answers to the question: How much caffeine is too much? While caffeine can be part of a healthy diet, too much can be dangerous to your health. The amount that is safe to consume depends on body weight, individual sensitivity, and the medications you take. In general, a 12 ounce soft drink contains 30 to 40 milligrams of caffeine. An 8 ounce serving or green or black tea has 30 to 50 milligrams. An 8 ounce cup of coffee contains 80 to 100 milligrams, and an 8 ounce energy drink contains 40 to 250 milligrams. For years, the FDA has warned consumers to avoid powdered caffeine since 2014. An 18-year-old teenager in Ohio died after using this product. One teaspoon of the powdered product is the equivalent to 25 cups of coffee. And last year, the government warned … [Read more...]

Consumers Warned to Wash Avocados After Pathogens Found on Skin

The FDA has released a report on avocado and hot pepper sampling, as part of  their "new, proactive sampling program," that was adopted in 2014. The program attempts to help public health investigators identify patterns in certain foods that may help reduce microbial contamination. They found Listeria monocytogenes on 17.73% of the avocado skin samples. They found the overall prevalence of Salmonella on the samples to be about 0.74%. That means that, if you don't rinse the avocado before you cut into it, you will spread any pathogens on the skin into the flesh. And because this fruit is usually eaten uncooked, there is no kill step to destroy that bacteria before you eat it. The FDA began collecting avocados in Many 2015. They collected 1,615 samples to test for Salmonella and … [Read more...]

FDA Heralds Drop in Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals: Is It Warranted?

The FDA is heralding a drop in antibiotic use in farm animals from 2016 to 2017. This issue is critical to human health, since antibiotic-resistant bacteria are being identified in more and more human food poisoning outbreaks. The World Health Organization warned the medical community about this problem in 2012. At that time, Dr. Margaret Chan said that "antibiotic resistance could end modern medicine as we know it." And that body issued its first report on antibiotic resistance earlier this year, which showed that this is a serious situation worldwide. In 2015, the CDC released a report that stated antibiotic resistant bacteria sicken 2,000,000 Americans every year. At least 23,000 of those patients die. Medically important antibiotics have been used for decades in farm animals … [Read more...]

FDA Warns Against Teething Necklaces and Bracelets

The FDA is warning parents about the risk of teething necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry that is marketed for relieving teething pain or providing sensory stimulation because they could be choking or strangulation devices. The safety of teething jewelry has not been determined. These products are not the same as teething rings or teethers, which are made of hard plastic or rubber and are not worn on the body. Teething jewelry is made of beads of amber, wood, marble, or silicone. This jewelry may also be used by people with special needs to redirect chewing on body parts for clothing. These products can also cause injury to the mouth or an infection in the gums. The FDA has received reports of death and serious injuries to infants and children, including strangulations and … [Read more...]

Potatoes and Food Poisoning Outbreaks: Botulism and Listeria Monocytogenes

Potatoes aren't often thought of when people think about food poisoning. This root vegetable is, after all, always cooked before it's eaten, which would kill off any pathogenic bacteria. But this vegetable grows in soil and can be contaminated at any point along the supply chain. But there have been some outbreaks linked to potatoes. Clostridium botulinum outbreaks have been linked to baked potatoes that are wrapped in aluminum foil. The spores that produce this deadly toxin are found in the soil, and they can contaminate the spuds. The spores can sometimes survive the baking process. If the potatoes are baked while tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, that creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. And that creates the perfect conditions for botulism spores to germinate, grow, … [Read more...]

Did You Know Some Decorative Glitter and Dust Are Unsafe to Eat?

During the holiday season, many people use decorations on food to add interest and to reflect a celebratory mood. Unicorn cakes and cakes based on dolls and popular products can be decorated with items including decorative glitter and dust. But did you know that some of those decorative products are unsafe to eat? Some decorative glitters and dusts should not be eaten. Many of these products are sold over the internet and also in bakery supply and craft stores. They are sold under the names luster dust, disco dust, twinkle dust, highlighter, sparkle dust, shimmer powder, pearl dust, and petal dust. And many online videos and blogs promote the use of these products. Some glitters and dusts are edible and are made for use on foods. You can distinguish edible decorations from … [Read more...]

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