Food Safety: March 2008 Archives

cantaloupe.jpgThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert regarding entry of cantaloupe from Agropecuaria Montelibano, a Honduran grower and packer, because, based on current information, fruit from this company appears to be associated with a Salmonella Litchfield outbreak in the United States and Canada. In all, there have been 50 cases of illness associated with cantaloupes.[MORE]

While there have been no reported cases of Salmonellosis from these Cantaloupes in Pennsylvania, the guidelines listed below should be followed when preparing cantaloupes. 

The FDA recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella or other foodborne illnesses from cantaloupes:

Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh-cut cantaloupe, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly.
  • Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes.
  • Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents.
  • Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes. Wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, or seafood and the preparation of cantaloupe.
  • If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it.
  • Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing cantaloupes outdoors.

Added March 27, 2008
Salmonella and Cantaloupe: What Can Consumers Really Do?
Recommendations from UC-Davis for handling and washing cantaloupes

The Perishable Pundit has some criticisms of how FDA handled the situation here

PFOA (Teflon) in popcorn bags

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Martin Bucknavage
Penn State Food Safety Extension Associate
There have been a few questions regarding PFOA, a compound used in Teflon coated pans, and is also used in grease resistant packaging material such as popcorn bags. PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, a synthetic (man-made) chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment. After reviewing the topic, there is an indication from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that PFOA may be a carcinogen. FDA has found that the level of migration from the popcorn bags to the product is extremely low, but does occur. While the CDC has shown that PFOA is found at low levels in 96% of Americans, the FDA indicates that the levels in the blood can not be accounted for by eating popcorn. There are other pathways that must be occurring. 

According to the EPA website: "At the present time, EPA does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer or industrial related products because of concerns about PFOA. But if people are still concerned, they can microwave their popcorn in a paper bag.

There has been an agreement with the producers of PFOA and similar compounds to reduce these compounds use, and release into the environment. There will also be continued studies on these compounds.

In short, the government does not think there is a quantifiable issues with the amount of PFQA transferred to foods. They are more concerned about environmental contamination and control.  They are going to continue to study it.

These website are recommend for further reading:

ATLANTA, GA – March 19, 2008 -- When it comes to what we eat, men and women really are different according to scientific research presented today at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases. In general, men are more likely to report eating meat and poultry items and women are more likely to report eating fruits and vegetables.
The findings come from the most recent population survey of the Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet). From May 2006 to April 2007 over 14,000 American adults participated in an extensive survey outlining their eating habits, including high risk foods for foodborne illness.
“There was such a variety of data we thought it would be interesting to see whether there were any gender differences. To our knowledge, there have been studies in the literature on gender differences in eating habits, but nothing this extensive,” says Beletshachew Shiferaw, a lead researcher on the study.
Shiferaw and her colleagues found that men were significantly more likely to eat meat and poultry products especially duck, veal, and ham. They were also more likely to eat certain shellfish such as shrimp and oysters.
Women, on the other hand were more likely to eat vegetables, especially carrots and tomatoes. As for fruits, they were more likely to eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples. Women also preferred dry foods, such as almonds and walnuts, and were more likely to consume eggs and yogurt when compared with men.
There were some exceptions to the general trend. Men were significantly more likely to consume asparagus and brussels sprouts than women while women were more likely to consume fresh hamburgers (as opposed to frozen, which the men preferred).
The researchers also looked at reported behavior in regards to consumption of 6 risky foods: undercooked hamburger, runny or undercooked eggs, raw oysters, unpasteurized milk, cheese made from unpasteurized milk and alfalfa sprouts. Men were significantly more likely to eat undercooked hamburger and runny eggs while women were more likely to eat alfalfa sprouts.
This information is important to public health officials because better understanding of gender differences in eating habits can help them create more targeted strategies for prevention.
“The reason we looked at consumption and risky behaviors was to see if there was a statistically significant difference between men and women and if there is this information could be used by health educators to target interventions,” says Shiferaw.

Probing Question: Is cloned meat safe to eat?

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Penn State Live

article29469.jpg Picture the perfect steak. The first bite melts in your mouth, tender and dripping with flavor. You can barely keep chewing as your mind goes slack with joy. Yes, you could spend the rest of your life eating this same steak, over and over, with no complaint whatsoever.

The technology exists to create exact reproductions of genetically superior cows — those that have the most tender flesh or are the best milk-producers, said Ed Mills. But don’t expect cloned steaks to hit the market in the near future. [More]

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