Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Food Safety: Cancer Causing Food Additives?


What were these additives doing in our food supply in the first place? According to the article, they have been approved and used since 1964.

Nutrition textbooks offer this information:

Delaney Clause: A clause added to the 1958 Food Additives Amendment of the Pure Food and Drug Act that prohibits the intentional addition to any food of any compound that has been shown to induce cancer in animals or humans, at any dose.

Guess they missed these seven. Now we know what “artificial flavor” means on an ingredient list?

Despite the criticism of the term “clean eating” by some,  perhaps our food has become a little less “dirty”.



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Grilling Food Safety Guide

It’s almost summer! Follow these rules for a safe foodborne illness-free season. Some we know and others we may not think about.  Take care. it’ so easy to be careless.



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How to Have a Very, Very Happy Thanksgiving

I wish everyone a Happy Thankful Thanksgiving to enjoy the wonderful food we all know and have loved for decades. However, the holiday can be so much better  when we know the foods we are eating are as safe as possible. As a microbiology person, I can’t help but remind everyone to follow some simple rules for not only a Happy Holiday but also be aware of  food safety from purchase to leftovers. Providing a Thanksgiving dinner for family or friends can be hectic and it is easy to make mistakes, for  example, forgetting about cross-contamination of foods in the kitchen. And with more helpers and distractions in the kitchen,  the risks can become even  unintentionally more common. Nevertheless, if you practice common sense food safety rules from purchase to leftovers,  you will have a very, very Happy Holiday.

Bon appétit and enjoy.


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How to Wash Fresh Fruits and Vegetables


Recently, fresh produce has been involved in some outbreaks of foodborne illness since they are often eaten raw. Protect against this by thorough washing before eating and store them properly.



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How Safe is That Food Truck?

Since the advent of food service via food trucks, new safety regulations are necessary to protect the consumer from food-borne illness.  Food trucks can provide some delicious food; however, food safety may be compromised. What should you watch for? Click HERE.

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Recalls and More Recalls


This has been the month of recalls, many for possible Listeria contamination which we seem to be seeing more and more of.

Listeria species can grow at room and refrigerator temperatures. Many types of food  items  can also contain Listeria bacteria and the latest appears to be deli cheeses.  People at high risk for listeriosis (elderly, pregnant women, people with suppressed immune systems, and infants) and those who prepare meals can take steps to lower risk. Healthy adults experience few symptoms and the illness does not appear to be transmissible from person  to person.

  • Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running tap water before eating.  Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting them.
  • Heat hot dogs, deli meats and cold cuts until they are steaming hot just before serving.
  • Do not drink raw milk (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat fresh soft cheeses that have unpasteurized milk in them, especially Mexican soft cheeses like queso fresco. Organic and non-organic products both can be contaminated.
  • Consumers and food preparers should wash their hands before and after handling any food.

What is Listeriosis?

Listeriosis is caused by species of Listeria bacteria called monocytogenes and it is estimated that there are 2500 cases in the U.S. every year.  Twenty percent of these cases result in death. The incubation period can be prolonged, anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. In  these cases, the illness can cause symptoms of fever, malaise, arthritis, and jaundice. It can occur as meningoencephalitis with headaches, stiff neck and coma. Or another form is septicemia, a blood disease with high numbers of infected white blood cells called monocytes, thus its name. There is a third form that infects the uterus with vague flu-like symptoms and if contracted during pregnancy  may result in miscarriage or mental damage to the newborn.

A notable outbreak of listeriosis occurred in late 1998 and early 1999. Close to 100 illnesses were reported in 22 states that were all linked to hot dogs and deli meats. Fourteen adults died during this outbreak, and six pregnancies resulted in miscarriages.