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  • Archive for the ‘foodborne illness’ Category

    5 Important Food Lessons From This Past Week

    Over the past few days, several important food-related stories captured top headlines.

    Rather than dedicate a lengthy blog post to each, here is the Small Bites’ Cliff’s Notes version.

    What’s the deal? What are the important takeaways? Here’s your cheat sheet:

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    2011: A Year to Remember (and Forget!)

    It wasn’t until I started compiling stories for this post that I realized just how much had taken place this year on issues of food, agriculture, and nutrition. While by no means a definitive list, I think it covers the most substantial events.

    So, if you’ve been spelunking in Antarctica for the past twelve months — or just want a short trip down memory lane — let’s review 2011, the year where:
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    In The News: Soda’s Newest Enemy? Microbiologists

    reunion soda and juices in DC_sPer CNN, the January issue of International Journal of Food Microbiology reports that “nearly half of the 90 beverages from soda fountain machines in one area in Virginia tested positive for coliform bacteria — which could indicate possible fecal contamination.”

    Something else to skeeve you out: “researchers also detected antibiotic-resistant microbes and E.coli in the soda samples.”

    The microbiological state of most soda fountains — at least the ones in this study — are so horrendous that they fall below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking-water regulations.

    Don’t place the blame on dirty ice cubes, either.  When those were tested for bacteria, results were negative.

    The issue here, of course, isn’t soda itself, but the consequences that occur when food service employees do not clean and sanitize appropriately.

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    The Mayo Myth

    Time to shatter a myth I have heard every single summer.

    Here’s how it starts.  Someone complains of an upset stomach after attending a picnic or outdoor event.  Cue someone who asks, “did you have anything with mayo in it?”

    Guess what? Commercial mayonnaise is so acidic that pathogens have a terribly tough time growing on it.

    If you ate potato salad that sat under the sun for a few hours and don’t feel so fresh the next day, don’t blame the mayo — blame the potatoes!

    That’s right. Potatoes are a high-carbohydrate food with the right amount of moisture and the perfect pH for pathogens to cavort in.

    Another likely foodborne illness candidate during the hot summer months? Melons. If that fruit salad that spent four hours outside the refrigerator contains this fruit, save your stomach the trouble and opt for another dessert.

    We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

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