December 4, 2016

Back to School Food Safety

With everyone getting ready to go back to school, there are some steps you can take to make sure your child's lunch is safe. Foodsafety.gov is offering some tips to consumers. When you buy a lunch box, make sure that it is insulated, with enough room for two cold sources to keep the food safe. Perishable foods must be kept below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. Make sure that the lunch box is easy to clean. Always wash all reusable food storage containers with hot, soapy water after each use. Thermoses should be tested before use to make sure they can keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Fill it with hot water and let the thermos stand at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours. Then test the water with a reliable food thermometer and make sure it is at least 140°F, the safe … [Read more...]

Monroe Montessori School in WA Closed for Possible E. coli

According to the Snohomish Health District in Washington state, two young children have been hospitalized for complications from a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection. The school they attend, at 733 Village Way in Monroe, Washington has been temporarily closed because other children and staff may have been exposed to the bacteria. Dr. Gary Goldblum, health officer and director of the Health District said, "the exact source of contamination in E. coli can be very difficult to identify, but at this point we believe the children were likely exposed to livestock near their home. The school has been cooperating fully as we work with the families and improve existing policies and procedures to prevent these incidents from happening in the future." Livestock carry E. coli … [Read more...]

Back to School Food Safety Tips

FoodSafety.gov is offering tips to parents and caregivers about packing safe back to school lunches. Bacteria that cause foodborne illness are everywhere. They grow quickly at temperatures between 40 and 140°F. In just two hours, the bacteria in foods can grow quickly enough to cause foodborne illness. To keep your child safe and healthy, remember the four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. These rules must be followed to avoid food poisoning. If the lunch you are packing contains perishable foods such as lunch meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, pack it with at least two cold sources.  You can use frozen gel packs, frozen juice boxes, or frozen water. By lunchtime, the juice or water should be thawed and ready to drink. Always use an insulated lunchbox or bag. A … [Read more...]

More E. coli Infections Reported in Whatcom County Fest Outbreak

Children dominate a growing list of case patients in the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to the 22nd annual Milk Makers Festival in Whatcom County, Washington. According to the county health agency's latest update, 41 people have fallen ill with classic E. coli symptoms after attending the Milk Makers event from schools all over the county. The working total of 41 case patients includes people who got sick after having close contact with a sick attendee. Seven of the 41 victims have been hospitalized, but the county has not said anything about their conditions. "Most of the cases involve children who attended the event,'' said a news release from Whatcom County Health Officer Dr. Greg Stern. "Several older children involved with the event and some adults and close contacts of cases … [Read more...]

Milk Makers Fest Mixed E. Coli and School Children at Fairgrounds

It was the 22nd annual Milk Makers Festival in Whatcom County, Washington, and 25 Lynden High School students helped set up a hay maze to go with a petting zoo, scavenger hunt and activities for younger kids to learn about raising calves and milking cows. When more than 1,300 first graders and their chaperones arrived for the three-day fest at Northwest Fairgrounds late last month, they also were joined by invisible pathogens from animal feces that caused an outbreak of potentially fatal E. coli infections, including a dreaded complication known as HUS E. coli. Lawyers for the childrens' families, scientists from the Whatcom County Health Department, state epidemiologists -- even experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- are now trying to determine what went wrong. … [Read more...]

School Outbreak in Maine Sickened 22 Children Last Week

According to the Portland Press Herald, 22 Portland schoolchildren were sickened with food poisoning last week at Reiche Elementary School. Officials suspect a pickled beet salad may be the culprit. School officials alerted public health officials when student began to throw up about an hour after lunch on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The cafeteria at Reiche was the only school in the public school system to serve that beet salad that day. There were no illnesses in the rest of the district. Lab results are pending. No students needed to see the doctor. Twenty-one of the twenty-two sickened students returned to school the next day. The school district's central kitchen and the kitchen at Reiche School were inspected by public health officials. While the district kitchens passed … [Read more...]

Employee at Passaic Schools in New Jersey Has Hepatitis A

A high school cafeteria employee in the Passaic, New Jersey schools has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to a letter sent to parents by the Passaic New Jersey Superintendent of Schools. Anyone who bought food from the Passaic High School teacher's cafeteria between January 15 and January 30, 2015 may have been exposed to the virus. The High School has been thoroughly cleaned to disinfect the building. Hepatitis A is a virus that causes injury to the liver. The virus is shed in the feces of the infected person. When a person with the virus doesn't wash their hands after using the bathroom, the feces and virus can get into food or drink they have prepared. When someone else eats or drinks those products, they can get sick; this is called the "fecal-oral" transmission. Direct … [Read more...]

Norovirus Outbreak at Hampstead, NH Schools

A norovirus outbreak has been reported at the Hampstead Central and Middle Schools in Hampstead, New Hampshire. The school is posting a daily tally on the number of students sick with a "stomach bug".  Norovirus is also called viral gastroenteritis. The school calls the outbreak "significant numbers of students and absences." Staff members are enacting precautions in classrooms, and the custodians are increasing cleaning procedures. At least 60 students were sick last week. New cases were reported yesterday. Norovirus is a very contagious virus. Cases increase during the cold winter months because more people are together inside. The symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. Fever is usually mild or absent. Most people recover within 1-2 days, but … [Read more...]

Norovirus Sickens Dozens at Condon Elementary School in Boston

About 140 students and 10 staff members at Condon Elementary School in Boston have been sickened with suspected norovirus this week, according to CBS Boston. The principal of that school sent a message to parents Tuesday, telling them about the outbreak. Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Outbreaks typically increase in the colder months, when more people spend more time indoors. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach and abdominal pain. The illness usually lasts for a few days. Teams were cleaning the school to try to stop the spread of the illness. Officials are asking parents to keep their children home from school if they are ill, and to keep them home until they have been completely symptom-free for 24 hours. To prevent the spread of norovirus, always wash your … [Read more...]

Sunny Delight, Others Asked to Stop Marketing In-School Junk Food

Center for Science in the Public Interest has asked Sunny Delight, maker of Sunny D beverage, to stop a program that encourages parents, teachers, and students to collect 20 labels of the product in exchange for foods. CSPI said that Sunny D "encourages families to consume a drink that promotes diabetes, weight gain, and other health problems." The beverage only includes 5% juice; the remaining ingredients are sugar; artificial sweeteners sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and neotame; high fructose corn syrup; sodium benzoate; dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6; and water, along with vitamins and other ingredients such as xanthan gum and canola oil. A 16-ounce bottle of Sunny D Tangy Original has almost 7 teaspoons of sugar. CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan said in a statement, … [Read more...]

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