Salmonella in Cucumber Outbreak!

Imported Cucumber Outbreak

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 70 people in America have become sick because of a salmonella outbreak connected to imported Mexican cucumbers. The CDC reported that 14 people have been hospitalized and are trying to identify other people who could have been infected.

The source of the outbreak is thought to be Mexican supplier Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse of Culiacan, Mexico. The cucumbers were distributed by Tricar Sales Inc. of Rio Rico, Ariz., the CDC said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stopped the imports by Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse unless they can prove that their cucumbers are not contaminated with salmonella. As of this point, California has reported the highest number of people who have fallen sick- 28. Among these people, the majority of them became sick between January 12th and April 6th. The outbreak reportedly reached its peak in early March but, the contaminated cucumbers have been pulled from shelves and are no longer on the market. But, the number of ill-stricken people could still rise. Due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, more sick people could come forward.

Most persons infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. For example, the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. In some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized- due to dehydration. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Children younger than 5 years, older adults, and persons with compromised immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illnesses Salmonella.

Consumers should always follow safe produce handling recommendations like:

          Wash

o   Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling/preparing produce

          Prepare

o   Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.

          Store

o       Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked produce as soon as possible, or within 2 hours.

o       Store produce away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

La Times

CDC

cucue

cucumber-salmonella-outbreak-map

cucumbers-200px

Advertisements

Dear Sequester, Thank You For the Food-Borne Illness

Dear Sequester, Thank You For the Food-Borne Illness

Due to the recent government sequester that went into effect on March 1st, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will administer fewer number of food safety inspections throughout the country. While American consumers may not feel the impact immediately, the loss of $209 million from its budget will force the FDA to conduct about 2,100 less inspections. This reduction in food inspections account for an 18% decline compared to last year. The funding loss will also delay the agency’s implementation of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act.

Not only are food-borne illnesses (FBI) of concern but, the approval of new drugs are as well. All of the programs within the FDA are at risk for being compromised because of the huge cuts that are taking place. The Sequester is becoming a really big hit and I think that more and more people will start to experience that, and in turn realize its significance.  The FDA does plan to prioritize programs that have the greatest effect on the public’s health, including disease outbreaks.

These next statistics are so ridiculous to me…. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans, which equals 48 million people, develop a FBI each year. Out of these people, 3,000 people die and 128,000 are hospitalized. The FDA is already facing serious criticism, not to mention legal actions, for being slow to implement the food safety law. This law is geared towards refocusing the FDA’s efforts on prevention, instead of responding to crises. Since the law was signed into effect in 2011, it sat for 2 years with the White House Office of Management and Budget where it was rewritten in ways that weakened FDA’s oversight.  The FDA claims that they’re frustrated with this situation, as is the rest of the country.  The more time that goes by without this law going into effect, the more people that are at-risk of getting seriously sick.

But, I don’t believe that the FDA is as innocent as they might be leading on. Even before the Sequester, the FDA was able to inspect less than 2% of all food imports.

The FDA also addressed other key issues like:

        Plan B being sold over-the-counter to anyone, regardless of age.

        Drug shortages

        Outbreaks of fungal meningitis within pharmacies  

USA Today

96cs1480 cd-0334-65

sequester_foodsafety

sequester_fdsafety

Food Trucks- Safe or Risky?

With an economical and attractive price, like arugula pizza or fish tacos, America’s 15,000+ food trucks are rolling into virtually every big city and a lot of small towns across the US.

The burning question: Is it safe to grab a bite to eat from a truck that cooks for hundreds in a space that’s a fraction of the size of your kitchen?

According to Health.com, yes, yes it is…

Just as the prices from their peers, though, some food trucks are better bets, food safety-wise, than others. Before you line up for your favorite lunchtime hoagie, here’s what you need to check for:

License

By law, food trucks need a license to operate so the local health department can track them for inspections. Why does this matter to you? Well, illegal operators tend to not worry as much about temperature and proper storage as an owner who knows an inspector could drop by at any time.

In many towns across the country, food-truck operators are required to post their license on the window, in a place where customers can see it.

Good grades

A number of cities require that food trucks place their latest inspection grade on the window that they serve food from. The worse the grade you see at your favorite food truck, the greater your chances are of getting a food-borne illness (FBI). If your city doesn’t post grades, they’re likely available on your local health department’s website.

Gloves

You might think your biggest worry is that the chicken or beef is undercooked, but you’re actually more likely to get sick because a food truck employee has bad hygiene. In fact, one of the leading causes of FBI is contamination from someone’s dirty hands.

Employees should be wearing gloves when handling your food, and changing them often, to avoid transferring bacteria from their hands to your food.

Gloves aren’t legally required everywhere, and an employee without them can handle food safely with utensils and regular hand-washing.  This is a good sign that food safety is taken seriously at a restaurant/food truck.

Dangling hair

If employees don’t pull back their hair, they’ll be constantly moving it out of their eyes, then touching your food, which could get contaminated with bacteria from their face. Messy hair can also be a sign that a business isn’t following the food safety rules.

Lukewarm food

“Temperature problems are one of the most common violations in food trucks,” says Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County. Salads and deli sandwiches should feel like they’re straight out of the fridge, while soup and burgers should be piping hot.

Messy sink

If you have a chance to peer inside the truck, try to find the sink. Look for soap, towels and a clear place for hand-washing. If the area is stacked up with dishes or there’s no soap in sight, where are employees going to wash their hands after coughing, sneezing or touching raw meat?

Food Trucks in my hometown of Harrisburg, PA to look out for:

MAD Sandwiches

          The Must-Try:  The Cuban sandwich stacked with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo on a crusty 12-in. Italian roll.

          Location: Forster St. and Commonwealth Ave. in front of the Keystone Building Tuesday-Wednesday and Walnut and Third streets in Harrisburg Thursday-Friday.

          MAD Sandwiches

A Moveable Feast

          The Must-Try:  Fish tacos with avocado and a honey wasabi and cilantro dressing are healthy and out of this world.

          Location: N. 2nd and Pine St. in Harrisburg on Friday and Saturday nights.

          A Moveable Feast 

Chef Ed’s Lunch MOB

          The Must-Try: Fish tacos are a signature item and worth ordering. The Asian hot pot with its noodles, flavorful broth and vegetables is pleasantly unexpected for food truck fare.

          Location: Near 400 block of Walnut Street in Harrisburg

          PA Lunch MOB

CNN: Are Food Trucks Safe?

HBG food trucks

What’s Trending in Food for 2013?

Top 10 Food Trends in 2013

1.     Repositioned Palate

        One in 10 shoppers now choose higher-end cuts of meat in order to recreate a restaurant dining experience. In the past, consumers used to eat food for substance, today more people are having eating occasions that can be described as “savoring”, which conveys a new upscale eating experience defined by freshness, distinct flavors, and more.

2.     Redefining Health

        Data shows that consumers relate the word “fresh” with “healthy”. Nine in 10 people think fresh foods are healthier, and 80% look for the descriptor “fresh” when it comes to retail and 58% in restaurants.

3.     Generational Cooking

        Young adults are continuing to cut back on restaurant visits for the fifth year in a row, which means the market for the food industry to develop at-home meal products that appeal to the newest generation of cooks is on the rise.

4.     Eating Alone

        There has been a dramatic increase in the number of adults who are eating solo, regardless of family dynamics. In addition to adults, children are also eating alone more often opening the market for new fresh/refrigerated meals for kids.

5.     Seeking True Transparency

        Food safety is trending and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. 17 % of consumers have stopped buying a certain food or brand due to certain safety concerns.

6.     Global Look-Alikes

        The integration of ethnic flavors, food items, and ingredients into American foods. Children’s sushi is predicted to be a hot trend for 2013.

7.     Farmstead Formulations

        Hyper-local sourcing, like restaurant gardens, farm/estate brands, small-producer suppliers, and the mainstreaming of farmers’ markets all attest to consumers’ fascination and appreciation for all things agricultural related.

8.     Craveable Finger Foods

        Restaurants have added bite-sized food to their menus and 67% of consumers find it “extremely appealing” to get their flavor through dips/condiments.

9.     Nutritional Insiders

        In 2012 alone, 78% of consumers made a strong effort to get more vitamins and 57% tried to consume more products with specialty nutritional ingredients. The top vitamins were vitamin D, vitamin C, B-vitamins and omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin A.

10.  Mother Hens

        Moms are more likely to buy nutritionally enhanced food and beverages. They are also more likely to seek out nutritional information. Moms want healthier kids’ food away from home.

Top 10 Food Trends in 2013

food-trends-2013-600x250

Fathers Hand- Nutrition Education for Male Mentors and Boys

Basil Boys!

A visual for the guys to pass around to touch, feel, and smell fresh basil!

A visual for the guys to pass around to touch, feel, and smell fresh basil!

WVU’s Human Nutrition and Foods department spearheaded a lesson within the existing program, “Fathers Hand” at the Shack Neighborhood House. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Shack Neighborhood House, commonly known as the Shack, it is a non-profit community center for the surrounding communities of Morgantown, WV. The Shack runs programs for children, adolescents, teens, and families all year long. Throughout the school year, most programming is run after school and in the evening. In the summer time, programs are run throughout the day, as well as in the evening.

Fathers Hand is an evening program that is designed for male adult mentors and male children. Normally, Fathers Hand every 1st, 2nd, and 4th Thursday of the month from 6pm-8pm. Since April is “Child and Family Awareness Month”, the Shack thought it would be nice to have Fathers Hand every Thursday this month, instead. Fathers Hand is an open program to increase male bonding and expose these men and young men, to anything and everything new that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience without the help from the Shack.

Well, tonight marked our second lesson and had an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, incorporating the use of container gardens. I developed the lesson plans for the 3 weeks of content for the program, as well as creating handouts, recipes, instructions for activities, and purchased the groceries. Within the lesson, a dinner/meal is included so, we try to always make something for the participants that’s easy to make AND healthy as well. WVU Student Dietetic Association (SDA) volunteers to help cook the meals each lesson. This way, participants are encouraged to try to make these meals outside of the Shack, within their home environment.

Tonight, the lesson consisted of information about how many servings of fruits and vegetables that everyone should be eating. The participants learned the concept of “5-A-Day”, which refers to eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The theme of tonight’s lesson was BASIL! The activity was making container basil gardens out of plastic cups. This will serve as a “starter” garden for all the guys, adults included. Both recipes that the participants were served, contained basil and were made with healthy ingredients, which the participants received recipe handouts on as well.

The participants were educated on the MyPlate, using a poster, and focusing on fruits and vegetables. The lesson focused on fruit and vegetable identification, so fresh basil was passed around as a visual for everyone to touch, feel, and smell. The incorporation of fruits and vegetables that were unfamiliar like heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, avocados, and mangoes was another visual for the participants. The lesson was geared towards green leafy vegetables but, also incorporated “new” and unfamiliar produce which we aim to accomplish overall to teach everyone food identification skills that they could use all year long! 

Shack Neighborhood House

The beginning of the basil, tomato, and zucchini casserole!

The beginning of the basil, tomato, and zucchini casserole!

basil garden1

basil garden

A variety of heirloom tomatoes to show the participants that veggies come in different colors, you wouldn't think of!

A variety of heirloom tomatoes to show the participants that veggies come in different colors, you wouldn’t think of!

heirloom2

heirloom_red

heirloom_lgreenheirloom_yellow

heirloom_green

Is SNAP-Ed Under Attack?

Is the Farm Bill’s Nutrition Education Program under Attack?

farm bill_

Since the Farm Bill is up for re-authorization, Congress is currently threatening to cut one of its components. This component is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs’ nutrition education (SNAP-Ed).

SNAP-Ed empowers recipients to purchase healthy foods within a very tight food budget. The program employs hundreds of RDs in all 50 states. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Farm Bill Work Group is making slight revisions to the 2012 Farm Bill Recommendation document to highlight the SNAP-Ed program among other aspects of the bill.

The recommendations include talking points related to:

          Empowering consumers

o   Maintain current funding for SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP Ed), an effective program that empowers participants to change behaviors for healthy eating using knowledge tailored to their lifestyle.

          Provide access to healthy and safe foods

o   Protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), key programs in our nation’s nutrition safety net.

          Assure a healthy and safe food system

o   Ensure funding for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs, and promote economic development.

o   Support farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity, as these are essential to our survival, and help to assure that a next generation of farmers has access to land and the skills and incentives to grow healthy foods.

          Assure sound science for future evidenced-based decision making

o   Maintain funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service that includes Human Nutrition Research Centers for vital research to drive better nutrition, eliminate hunger, increase food security and healthy food systems and eliminate diet-related health disparities, including obesity and assure the availability of nutrition monitoring, food composition and related data.

o   Maintain funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants in order to support food safety and nutrition research and a diversity of fruits, vegetables and nuts available to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Farm Bill overview:

The Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation that determines not only what farmers grow, but what is available in the United States food supply. Farm policies have existed in the U.S. since the establishment of our country. The 1920’s brought about the first big shift in agriculture policies, focusing on direct government intervention to provide income support by increasing crop prices and controlling supplies. Legislation continued to support farmers through direct income payments and crop supply management until 1996. At that time fixed income support payments were removed, making a shift to the modern commodity payments currently in place, and focused on issues surrounding food safety, food assistance and the environment.

The most recent Farm Bill, 2008 Food Conservation and Energy Act, included several key provisions that impacted nutrition.

          – Renamed the “food stamp program” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to reflect a modern program, putting healthy foods within reach for people.

          – Authorized a small pilot program, the Healthy Incentives Pilot, to research the effect of incentives in encouraging SNAP participants to purchase healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables.

        –   Created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to coordinate agricultural research and Extension programs.

          – Established funding for new programs to support producers transitioning to organic agriculture and to increase research in organic agriculture.

So, now the real question is- what will happen next? Only time will tell….

AND Farm Bill

2012 Farm Bill recommendations

farm_bill_icon1

220px-Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program_logo_svg

How to Fight Heartburn and Reflux

How to Fight Heartburn and Reflux

heartburn

A substantial amount of Americans suffer from “acid indigestion” or “heartburn.” Others may be diagnosed with GERD: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. These conditions may be triggered by the “typical” American diet and lifestyle habits. The occurrence of these symptoms has increased with the growing epidemic of obesity.  

Well, let’s break the issues down… What are these conditions? How can we address their symptoms?

In heartburn and reflux, acid from the stomach flows upward into the lower end of the esophagus. This can be caused by pressure pushing upward, or relaxation of the otherwise tight muscle that normally keeps acid in the stomach. Pressure can be caused by overeating at a meal, pregnancy, some types of exercise, or being overweight. In the case of the muscle, it can be affected by actual changes in the muscle or substances that relax the muscle. The symptoms, in turn, can be a burning sensation and/or pain.

Foods, beverages, and even certain medications can cause the muscle to relax. Stress, lack of sleep and smoking can also contribute to indigestion. Eating, especially large amounts before bedtime is another element.

Despite the name, heartburn is not a condition of the heart, but the symptoms can mimic heart conditions. Regrettably, some people dismiss symptoms of heart complications, by blaming them on indigestion. Random indigestion or heartburn is not a problem. When it occurs on a regular basis, as in GERD, it can cause ulceration in the esophagus, bleeding ulcers, and an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

GERD is diagnosed when the reflux becomes more chronic and problematic. This occurs more than twice a week, becomes worse even with increasing doses of OTC antacids, causes problems with sleep, interferes with normal activities, causes hoarseness or worsening of asthma, invokes a chronic cough, causes chest pain, causes trouble swallowing, or causes a loss of appetite due to symptoms.

As the article stated before, there are some foods that contribute to the cause of reflux, while other foods are more likely to irritate already inflamed tissues. Examples of trigger foods that can cause relaxation of the muscle would be fatty foods, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, tomato, onion, garlic, mint, caffeine and carbonated beverages.

Foods that cause physical irritation might be abrasive grain foods (like some crackers or dry cereals), nuts, or some raw vegetables. Others might be acidic foods (citrus fruit/juices, tomato products) or spicy foods (pepper, chili powder, curry). Try using softer foods and beverages to provide nutrient needs when the esophagus is irritated.

When it comes to fiber, try including more soluble fiber foods found in oats, cooked vegetables and skinned fruit. Cooking raw vegetables like steaming or roasting can reduce the abrasion. It can be helpful to keep a food and beverage record, as well as a symptom record to identify any triggers.

Other habits that can be helpful might be eating smaller, frequent meals (rather than a few large meals), eating slowly, and chewing food thoroughly. You should also try stopping eating about two to three hours before bedtime and sleeping with your upper body elevated. Keep up with fluid intake, which is at least 64oz. spread throughout the entire day.

If being overweight is contributing to the reflux, weight loss would be an option. Healthy weight loss should be achieved by eating smaller portions of healthy foods spread over at a minimum of 3 meals. This pattern can help reduce total calorie intake while sustaining energy levels and putting you in better control over food choices. The smaller portions and more consistent food intake can directly improve the reflux as well. You should also make sure that your diet is nutritionally adequate, since some foods may be limited owing to reduced food intake and because you are avoiding reflux triggers.

GERD

Heartburn/Reflux article

Renaming the Cuts of Meat…

After 40 years, the names for cuts of meat are being revamped to make it easier for consumers to understand what they’re buying and how to cook it. The labels are shorter and less anatomically based than the names used today for cuts of meats. Pork cuts are now more in sync with the beef cuts consumers are familiar with. The new names and labels should start appearing this summer, just in time for grilling season.

Loin (Pork):

Old

New

Pork Loin Top Loin Chop

Porterhouse Chop

Top Loin Pork Chops

New York Chops

A Pork Loin Rib Chop

Ribeye Chop

Bone-In Pork Loin Chop

T-Bone Chop

Chuck (Beef):

Old

New

Beef Chuck Eye Edge

Pot Roast, Boneless

Denver Roast

Beef Shoulder Top Blade Steak

Boneless Flat Iron

Flat Iron Steak

Sirloin (Beef):

Old

New

Beef Loin Top Sirloin Steak,

Boneless, Cap Off

Top Sirloin Steak

Beef Loin Top Sirloin Cubes

For Kabobs

Kabobs

 

With the new names come new labels for meat. They’ll now identify the species (at this point just beef or pork), whether it’s from the chuck, rib, loin or round, the retail cut name and provide cooking instructions.

The purpose of the naming system is help customers identify cuts with familiar cooking methods. When customers see the word “Porterhouse”, they might think- hey I could put this on the grill…

Most names consumers know and love won’t be changing, but after two years of research it became apparent that Americans needed more clarity when they inspected the meat case, said the director of market intelligence for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver.

The new pork names go with a shift in how pork is cooked, compared to the terms used in the 1970’s when these names were first implemented. Because trichinosis is no longer a problem in U.S. hogs, in 2011 the Department of Agriculture changed the recommended cooking temperature for pork from 160 degrees F to 145 degrees F. Once pork could be pink, a pork chop could be cooked just like a steak.

Although the pork producers “love their friends in the beef world” they want to remind grillers that while beef prices are at an all-time high because of the drought and resulting spikes in feed costs, pork is now inexpensive “and will be through summer.”

Chop, Chop! article

cutscuts 1cuts 2cuts 3cuts 4

Hormone Replacement Therapy Increases Risk For Breast Cancer

A new analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative now casts doubt on previous researcher’s findings that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) isn’t dangerous. The study, published Friday by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, concludes that the prognosis for cancers related to hormone replacement therapy is just as dire as for other breast cancers. As a result, women who turn to the treatment are more likely to die of breast cancer than their non-hormone-taking peers.

The principal investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative and lead author of the new study stated, “You could fill a basketball arena with the women who get the disease.” “It seems like you’d want to reach a higher threshold before you take it.”

Nearly 70,000 postmenopausal women participated in randomized clinical trials as part of the Women’s Health Initiative project. The study participants who took estrogen plus progestin had higher rates of breast cancer diagnoses and of breast cancer deaths.

At the same time, more than 90,000 additional women took part in a related observational study that tracked details about their health and hormone use over an average of 11 years. Along with other observational studies, this one found that women who took hormones to treat menopause symptoms and got breast cancer were less likely to die from the illness than women who got breast cancer without taking hormones.

So he and his team identified a subset of more than 41,000 women from the observational study who more closely matched the women who took part in the randomized trial. In doing so, the researchers set aside data on women who were not using hormones when they participated in a study but had taken them in the past — a factor that had the potential to complicate the findings.

The new results fell more closely in line with the findings from the original randomized trial: Survival after breast cancer was similar for both hormone users and non-users. Tumors that arose in women who took hormones were no less deadly.

They had appeared to be, however, because women who had taken hormones years before might have already developed aggressive cancers and would not have been able to participate in the study in the first place.

HRT Study

breast cancer_5

April is National Preceptor Month!

April is National Preceptor Month!

As an essential component of any dietetic internship, preceptors play an important role in the lives of dietetic intern students everywhere. Within each rotation of a dietetic internship, there exists a preceptor that decides to take on the role of a mentor and personally teach their intern(s) the specialty skills for that specific rotation.

Starting in the month of April, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) will celebrate National Preceptor Month by beginning a preceptor drive!

ACEND will unveil a database which allows practitioners to register to potentially become preceptors and join the effort to guide and educate the next generation of dietetic professionals. In addition, the Academy and ACEND will establish a Find-a-Preceptor Database so directors and students members of the Academy can search for a preceptor within a certain geographical or specialty area.

Applications and efforts, like the preceptor database, are so important in the field of nutrition, as well as the profession. It’s important for other RDs to promote the growth of tomorrow’s RDs, to try and keep America healthy!

Become a Preceptor!

preceptor

 

ACEND