Keeping Thanksgiving happy

TurkeyCarving_blogEvery household has their own Thanksgiving traditions, but when it comes to the meal, the turkey is oftentimes the center of attention. While there are several ways to prepare your holiday bird, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has food safety recommendations on how to properly prepare a turkey to make sure yours is both delicious and safe to serve.

In a recent article, Maria Malagon, Director of Food Safety Education with USDA-FSIS, said unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious foodborne illness as they may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, harmful pathogens that are only destroyed by properly preparing and cooking a turkey.

That being said, the article mentions the following steps to help you and your guests avoid foodborne illness: [ More ... ]

Case demonstrates relationship between food allergies and asthma

Further evidence of the relationship between food allergies and asthma was demonstrated in a recent case in which a two-year-old girl from Pennsylvania nearly died after suffering an unusually severe allergic reaction after eating an orange.

According to a recent article in Live Science, after the toddler ingested the orange, she developed an allergic reaction so severe her airway began to swell and close and required her to be flown via helicopter to an intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. [ More ... ]

Monday Links

Produce3Catch up on the latest news and information in the food safety, animal science and agriculture industries with Monday links!

Food Safety

Studies Find Reusable Produce Containers Often Contaminated – Food Safety News
Reusable plastic containers used by farmers to ship fresh produce from farms to grocery stores have gained wide usage in the last decade, effectively replacing corrugated boxes with a more environmentally friendly alternative. But two studies have found serious problems with the general sanitation and cleanliness of those containers, raising concerns about possible food safety risks.

Animal Safety

Pork industry launches new tool for animal, food-safety audit process – Iowa Farmer Today
A new common swine industry audit platform for pork producers, packers and processors is now certified and available to the public after 18 months of industry collaboration, the National Pork Board recently announced.

How to travel safely with your pet during the holidays – Detroit Free Press
Millions of pet owners could unknowingly put their dogs and cats at risk when they travel for the holidays, but a few tips can make the journey safer and more enjoyable.

Agriculture

Big Data Companies Agree: Farmers Should Own Their Information –National Public Radio
Some of the biggest names in American agriculture, ranging from farmers’ organizations to private companies, have agreed on principles governing the use of data collected from farms.

Still plenty of work to do on mycotoxins” – All About Feed
An effective mycotoxin strategy entails more than one measure. At the same time, climate change, new feed ingredients (such as mealworms) and plant toxins are there to make it even more challenging to keep humans and animals free of exposure.

Toxicology

Marijuana Use Linked to Changes in the Brain – Live Science
Using marijuana daily for four years or longer may be related to certain changes in the brain, according to new research.

Offbeat

Just What Is In Pumpkin Spice Flavor? (Hint: Not Pumpkin) – National Public Radio
We’d be surprised if anyone believed that coffee house baristas were squirting actual bits of pumpkin into latte drinks. But what is in that “science goo?”

The truth behind towel washing

Kitchen towels isolated on whiteCold and flu season has once again begun. During this time of the year it is important to keep ourselves and our homes as germ-free as possible in order to help our immune systems stay healthy. With this in mind, a recent article from the Huffington Post discusses one of the most overlooked carriers of bacteria in our homes: towels.

According to the article, kitchen towels especially can be a vessel for bacteria and based on a recent study from the University of Arizona, a carrier of E. coli.  In fact, 25% percent of the towels involved in the experiment tested positive for the harmful bacteria. [ More ... ]

Allergen training in the food service industry

Waitress_wSalads_resizedSeveral years ago before “allergy-friendly” menus and “gluten-free” options at restaurants were readily available, the food service industry had far fewer obstacles when it came to catering to customers’ dietary needs. However, as the number of individuals with food allergies and intolerances continue to increase worldwide, along with the number of those who dine out frequently, so does the need for proper foodservice employee allergy training.

According to a recent article in Food Safety Magazine, it is estimated that approximately 15 million Americans and 17 million Europeans have food allergies, with 90% of them allergic to at least one of the top eight allergens—milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. As stated in the article, the number of children with food allergies is also growing rapidly, with data showing a 50% increase of children with food allergies between 1997 and 2011. [ More ... ]

Tox Tuesday: designer benzodiazepines

Online Prescription DrugsCommonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and seizure-prevention, benzodiazepines have assisted millions for more than 60 years. Marketed under well-known names including Xanax, Ativan and Valium, benzodiazepines or “benzos,” are referred to as “downers” as they work by depressing the central nervous system leading to feelings of relaxation, calmness, or sedation.

Because of these effects, benzodiazepines can be highly addictive and according to a published study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), just as addicting as illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. Due to their addictive nature, they are also highly abused. This occurs not only in those with a prescription for the drugs, but also in those who are able to purchase “designer benzodiazepines,” illegally via the internet. This not only creates more problems of addiction and dependence, but also leads to other serious issues of drug-related crime, including those who sell or purchase these drugs to use them as “date-rape” drugs. [ More ... ]

Monday links

Catch up on the latest news and information in the food safety, animal science and agriculture industries with Monday links!

Food Safety

Will Mechanically Tenderized Beef Labeling Be Pushed Back to 2018? – Food Safety News
Long-planned efforts to place a label on mechanically tenderized beef may be delayed another two years — until 2018 — if they are not finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by the end of this year.

Proposed food safety regulations put water quality responsibility on growers – Yakama Herald
Federal regulators have softened some proposed restrictions to farming practices in the name of food safety, but the Yakima Valley’s tree fruit industry officials say the proposal is still too much. [ More ... ]

Don’t let your food safety practices drop with your tailgate

Tailgate_D3Campaign2012_resizedDating back more than 140 years, the tradition known as the tailgate is practiced by approximately 50 million people in the U.S. each year and has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry.  Although cooler weather is in the forecast for this weekend’s college and professional football games, that will not stop fans everywhere from coming together in parking lots across the nation for their beloved pre- and post-game tailgates.

The menu for these events has fast become one of the most crucial parts to a successful tailgate and while party planners and “grill masters” everywhere think they have their bases covered, foodsafety.gov has provided several tips to tackle food safety and to ensure you and your guests are not sidelined with nasty foodborne illnesses.

For example, some of these tips include: [ More ... ]

The role of histamine in the human body

Histamine_123RF33041482_blogMany are familiar with the word histamine, in the sense of antihistamine drugs that are taken by millions of allergy suffers around the world. In a very general sense these drugs work by blocking the compound known as histamine that our bodies produce during an allergic reaction. This in turn controls common symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes that those with allergies suffer from.

All that being said, it is the complex role of histamine in the human body that plays a very useful and important part in scientific testing because the detection of histamine indicates the presence of foreign pathogens like allergies. [ More ... ]

Heavy fall snowfall causing concern in northern U.S. corn harvest

CornCrop_wSnow2_PublicDomain_blogFarmers in the Midwest are already dealing with the first snowfall of the season which is causing concern in some states including South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and upper Michigan where the corn crop still remains to be fully harvested.

According to a recent report from the Associated Press (AP), 11 inches of snow has already fallen in parts of Minnesota, with another four more inches on its the way. Currently, about 10% of the corn crop remains to be harvested there, which could force farmers to leave corn in their fields until the weather improves. However, if the snow does not melt quickly enough, the remaining crop could be lost completely. [ More ... ]