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  • Archive for the ‘salmonella’ 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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    You Ask, I Answer: Cilantro

    I have heard that something in cilantro is supposed to help prevent food borne illness?

    – Kristin
    (via the blog)

    A few years ago, food scientists discovered a compound in cilantro (both fresh leaves as well as seeds, more commonly known as coriander) named dodecenal which was found to be quite effective at destroying the Salmonella virus.

    That is not to say, however, that cilantro guarantees you a foodborne illness-free meal.

    Turns out you need to eat the same amount (weight wise) of cilantro as the offending food to offset food poisoning.

    So, if your six-ounce chicken breast contains salmonella, you would theoretically need to eat six ounces of cilantro to experience any protective effects.

    A fun fact, nevertheless!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Salmonella in Peanut Butter

    Okay, [I always thought] salmonella is usually [related to eating] eggs or meat.

    Peanut butter is primarily three things: peanuts, oil, salt.

    Sometimes [they add] sugar or another sweetener.

    How, then, does salmonella end up in peanut butter?

    – Corey Clark
    (Location withheld)

    The ingredient list can even be shorter! Remember, many brands of peanut butter consist of nothing but peanuts.

    Your question — which is excellent, by the way — is one that many food safety experts are asking themselves (while vividly remembering the eerily similar E.Coli-infested spinach outbreak of 2007.)

    Part of the issue here is that the United States does not have one central agency overseeing issues of food safety.

    Consequently, sources of contamination are hard to track and contain.

    Additionally, most of the focus on food safety (from random inspections to consistent monitoring) is relegated to meat processing plants, as they are considered “high risk” operations.

    In short, the vague answer to your question is: “unsanitary plant conditions.”

    This could mean anything from animal feces somehow ending up in the peanut butter (think a bird or two somehow getting inside the facility) or dirty equipment being used in the processing of peanut butter.

    What is practically a given is that the contamination had to have occurred after the roasting and grinding process (both of these use extremely high temperatures that kill all strands of the salmonella virus.)

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