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 ... ]

First-ever global Listeria report released

Listeria_BLOGThe World Health Organization (WHO) recently released the first-ever Global Listeria Report which concluded that in 2010 Listeria monocytogenes infected an estimated 23,150 people worldwide, killing 5,463 or 23.65% of them.

The study, known as “The Global Burden of Listeriosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and according to a recent article, was the first of its kind “to estimate the global numbers of illnesses, deaths, and disability-adjusted life-years due to Listeria infections.”

Of the total infected, the report also states that 20.7% of them were pregnant women, as the bacteria is known to affect pregnant women at disproportionate rates. From the total number of pregnant women infected, 14.9% of these cases resulted in infant fatality. [ More ... ]

Monday links

Corn_Sweetcorn_resizedDon’t have time to scour the internet for the latest food safety, animal safety, life sciences and agriculture news? Relax, we’ve got it covered.

Agriculture 

Why Farmers Aren’t Cheering This Year’s Monster Harvest – National Public Radio
U.S. farmers are bringing in what’s expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. But for many farmers, that may be too much of a good thing.

Grain corn plentiful in supply but also high in mycotoxin threat – Wisconsin State Farmer
Corn growers in the United States are gradually harvesting a crop predicted to set a record high yield of about 14.5 billion bushels but some of that corn will have a downside — the presence of mycotoxins that would be a threat to livestock health. [ More ... ]

CDC: Wetter is better for hand washing

WashingHands1_blogIt’s that time of year again — cold and flu season is upon us and the battle of keeping yourself and others healthy has intensified.

While many people know that washing their hands or using hand sanitizer is an important aspect to preventing infection and avoiding the spread of foodborne bacteria and other germs, do you know what one is actually the most effective method for keeping you and others healthy?

An article for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention aims to set the record straight: “Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.” [ More ... ]