Preventing Foodborne Illnesses this Summer

Preventing Foodborne Illnesses this Summer

With the beginning of summer, many people think they can just keep their picnic food safe from bacteria by storing it in the refrigerator. But, there is one bacteria- that is exempt from that rule…

Unlike most food bacteria, Listeria can grow in cool temperatures. Refrigerating food already contaminated with these bacteria could allow the germs to multiply and spread, according to the USDA.

The bacteria can cause serious illness known as listeriosis, which is especially dangerous for children, older people, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems. Foods in which Listeria has been found include deli meats, hot dogs, smoked seafood and store-prepared salads. The FDA advises those at greater risk for developing listeriosis to reheat these ready-to-eat foods until they are steaming hot. They should also avoid unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses.

Listeriosis has also been linked to contaminated cantaloupes. The FDA recommended washing all fruits and vegetables under running water immediately before eating, cutting or cooking them. Firm produce, in particular, should be scrubbed with a produce brush. Examples like this, is specifically important in the summer when fruits are in season.

Other ways to prevent Listeria infection include:

          Set your refrigerator temperature to 40 degrees F or lower to slow the growth of Listeria. Use a refrigerator and freezer thermometer to make sure temperatures are appropriately cold.

          Wrap or cover food before placing it in the refrigerator. Be sure no containers or covers are leaking juices on other foods.

          Do not allow cooked or ready-to-eat (RTE) foods to sit in the refrigerator. Eat these foods right away so Listeria doesn’t have the opportunity to grow. If you have leftovers in your refrigerator, it’s best to throw them out after 3 days, just to be sure. Because remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

          Clean up refrigerator spills immediately. The FDA notes leaks or spills from hot dog packages, raw meat or poultry are mostly of concern. The agency advised cleaning these spills with paper towels to avoid spreading germs to a cloth towel.

          Routinely disinfect the refrigerator. Cleaning the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator with warm water and soap. Surface cleaners can also be used monthly.

          Sanitize kitchen surfaces where food is prepared with soap and water and surface cleaner.

          Wash cutting boards after every use. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards can be sanitized in the dishwasher.

          Wash dish cloths, towels and cloth grocery bags in the hot cycle of the washing machine.

          Before and after handling food, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds! And if you can’t remember how long- just sing the “Happy Birthday” song. This is a trick we educate children on for food safety and hand washing!

Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Listeria_Colorado State University

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CDC statistics from 2011

CDC statistics from 2011

listeria

The Dirty Dozen

Dirty Dozen

There has, and probably always will be, a debate as to whether consumers should purchase organic versus traditionally grown food sources. And I really didn’t think too much about the topic until I took an Agricultural Values and Ethics class my last year as an undergraduate, as a capstone requirement. Ever since then, I really have become aware of how information can really change how a consumer shops for groceries for their family.

This being said… I came across a term, “The Dirty Dozen”, in several articles about organic food versus traditionally grown food.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases a Shopper’s Guide. The guide has information on 45 different conventional fruits and vegetables and their pesticide loads. At the top of the list- the produce found to contain the highest amount of pesticides: is the Dirty Dozen. These are the 12 foods that they recommend consumers always purchase in their organic form. This Shopper’s Guide is based on the EWG’s analysis of pesticide residue testing data from the USDA and the FDA.

Then, on the bottom of the list, are the Clean Fifteen. These are 15 foods that have the lowest pesticide residue. If you’re on a limited budget and have to pick and choose your organic produce, the EWG encourages that you spend the extra money for the Dirty Dozen in their organic form and buy the Clean Fifteen in their conventional form.

Now that I’ve provided the education and substantial background on these organic-friendly foods, don’t get confused as to why I chose not to mention anything based on my opinion in this post. I personally, have different views about organic versus tradition foods. And again, I personally, will go out of my way to avoid purchasing organic foods. But, I’m not here to convince anyone to agree or disagree with my opinions. I’m here to provide nutritionally beneficial education to the public. And I hope I’m achieving this goal more and more as my ISPP Dietetic Internship, and future career as a Registered Dietitian, continue.

St. Louis Fox News

dd 2012

dd 2011

organic

 

Purple Corn is the New Rage?

Purple Corn is the New Rage?

Recently Dr. Oz, yes THE Dr. Oz, has stated that the color purple is currently “hot”.  And from my experience with anything that Dr. Oz says, nutritionally, everyone listens.

Purple corn has recently been crowned the king of the crop, according to Minnesota-based Suntava. From purple carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower to blackberries, grapes, blueberries, and cabbage, a deep purple shade is usually a good sign that fruits or vegetables contain a healthy dose of valuable phytonutrients.

Suntava purple corn has an ORAC value (per 100 grams) of 10,800, where blueberries have 4,669. ORAC scores should not be viewed in seclusion because they are a good indicator of the free-radical busting potential of foods.

The average consumer probably has never heard of purple corn before, like myself. But, shoppers are increasingly becoming more aware of the powerhouse grain source.

Suntava, which initially focused on bringing natural colors from purple corn to market as a replacement for synthetic dye Red 40, has since expanded into purple corn meal, which is used in everything from tortilla chips to snack bars, sourdough, cereals, and cakes.

The important fact that really jumped out to me when I first read about the purple-colored food source, is that its non-GMO. While certain food companies are more interested in the novelty factor of purple snacks, others have really zoned in on the antioxidant message that this food brings to the table.

Suntava Launches Purple Corn to Super Foods Status

USDA ORAC

purple corn suntava

purple corn chips

purple corn

Introducing the MyBowl

What is MyBowl?

The image for the new MyBowl campaign that Kelloggs has launched

MyBowl is an education tool that is an extension of the MyPlate food guide, used across the United States. MyBowl is designed to show how easy it is to meet dietary recommendations with meals served in bowls, like breakfast cereals.

MyPlate is a recognized education instrument developed by the USDA that brings to life the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to help people get the most nutrition from their meals. A recent survey shows that 100% of RDs are aware of MyPlate and 99% of them agreed that it is a helpful tool. There’s an opportunity to help consumers further understand and apply MyPlate recommendations to meals people eat in bowls, too. Using specific visual cues, images, and icons are effective ways to educate the public. MyBowl helps illustrate and extend the message that all food groups can fit into all meals, even those traditionally served in bowls like cereal breakfast, soup, and salads. 95% of RDs expect the MyBowl graphic to be used in addition to MyPlate.

Like MyPlate, MyBowl is a simple visual cue to help people get the most nutrition from meals served in bowls. MyBowl is a simple tool that helps people understand how specific foods fit into “food groups”, like how a cereal breakfast with fruit delivers servings from “grains, dairy and fruit food groups”. MyBowl was purposefully created to match the features of MyPlate. The MyBowl colors are identical to those used in MyPlate. The positioning and size of the colored bands around MyBowl reflects different types and amounts of foods and food group combinations that could be enjoyed in a bowl. When used as an online interactive tool, the size and color of the bands around MyBowl will change to reflect the amount and type of foods actually in the bowl. ChooseMyBowl.com is an interactive site that features tips, tools and meal plans to show people how to make smart choices and enjoy a variety of food groups and nutrients in delicious bowl meals.

People need help starting the day with a balanced breakfast; research shows:

  • While more than half of all adults would like to eat breakfast every day, only one-third actually do.
  • Nearly all moms want their kids to eat breakfast every day; however, 40% of moms report their child doesn’t eat breakfast daily.
  • While nearly all toddlers and preschool-age children are eating breakfast, consumption of breakfast decreases as American children grow older. 77% of young children eat breakfast every day, but the number falls to 50% in the middle-school years and 36% among high school students.
  • The latest research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) shows people who eat breakfast regularly have higher intakes of several vitamin and minerals.
  • The same research noted that breakfast skippers may not make up for missed nutrients at other meals during the day.

MyBowl helps people realize that eating breakfast can be a fast and easy solution to achieving a varied diet and meeting nutrient needs.

When it comes to breakfast, cereal with non-fat milk is a nutrient-dense choice eaten in a bowl, delivering several essential nutrients in less than 150 kcal per serving, on average. Cereal with milk is the leading source of 10 nutrients in children’s diets and provides four nutrients, including fiber, most likely to be lacking in kids’ diets. Cereal with milk may deliver good or excellent sources of the 4 nutrients of concern- calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and fiber. Studies show that cereal eaters have higher intakes of many essential nutrients including B vitamins, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Numerous studies show that a cereal breakfast is associated with a lower BMI in both children and adults. Cereal with milk is an affordable breakfast option- costing just 50 cents per serving, on average.

A cereal breakfast can help Americans get more fiber, which was noted in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a “nutrient of concern”. Nine out of ten Americans don’t meet daily recommendations for fiber. On average, Americans consume just about half of the required fiber that they need each day. Many experts think Americans poor fiber intake is a public health concern for both adults and children, with potential consequences that may increase the risk for several chronic diseases and obesity. In a recent survey, 90% of RDs agreed that a cereal breakfast is one of the best ways to easily increase fiber intake. On average, Americans only get 18% of their daily fiber at breakfast.

The MyPlate design published by the USDA. This replaced the MyPyramid in June 2011, ending 19 years of USDA food guide diagrams.