Posts Tagged ‘bacteria’

Recall Madness

June 6, 2016


In the last few weeks, there have been massive food recalls, as a result of potential listeria contamination. Not only are the recalls vast, they are also turning up in food products we may have deemed to be safe, and often healthy.

Once such recall stems from contaminated sunflower seeds, which were purchased by many different producers of granola bars and trail mix. The list of products being recalled seems to grow daily, with companies such as Nature Valley, Kashi, and Clif Bars being affected by the voluntary intiative.

Many ready made salads are joining the list, with Trader Joe’s being among the companies involved. They also have had significant issues with frozen vegetables, frozen fried rice mixtures and sunflower seed products.


5035600025_compThis weekend’s recall of General Mills flours is an especially alarming one, as the recall goes back several months, and the flour has likely been used to make other products, which could trigger more issues in the immediate future.

UPDATE: Hostess recalling donuts and snack cakes, based on potentially contaminated flour used to make them. Here we go…

Why are there so many recalls lately and what can we do about it?

An article by Tiffany Thomas on the website Romper suggests that the scope of the recalls could indicate progress within our food saftey system. According to Elliott Ryser, a professor at Michigan State University, the fact that a relatively small number of people actually became ill and the recalls were triggered by red flags during routine inspection, means our food inspection process is improving.

In fact, the CDC has new tools to track the genome sequences present in the bacteria. Listeria is also a hearty bacteria, sticking around and taking up residence in food processing plants. It is also able to survive extreme conditions, such as freezing. It can be killed if food reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, but it best to avoid contaminated foods altogether. Even listeriosis symptoms can take up to 2 months to reveal themselves, although they often show up within days of consuming contaminated foods.

For a list of all food recalls, check the FDA’s website for the latest information.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Spatulas

January 20, 2015


imagesRubber and silicone spatulas are indispensible in the kitchen. Their flexibility allows you to get into nooks and crannies, and scrape every last drop out of the bowl.
You know what else has nooks and crannies? That spatula.

They are designed to come apart for a reason. It is important to detach the handle from the upper portion, and wash the inside thoroughly. Food tends to get into the head of the spatula and bacteria can form. Make sure it is completely dry before reassembling it to avoid growing mold.

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Foods to Shut Down During the Shut Down

October 16, 2013

The government has been shut down for a couple of weeks now, and many of the massive ramifications have yet to be felt.

With most of the Food and Drug Administrations inspectors being deemed “non-essential” our food supply is in grave danger.

While the agency only has enough power in its workforce to inspect 2% of all incoming food from other countries, it still prevents a large amount of unsanitary foods from hitting our supermarkets.

Below are some of the foods experts are most concerned about during this period:



Inspectors often reject shrimp from other countries due to the conditions in which they are farmed. Southeast Asian shrimp farms are akin to overcrowded sewers. The water is not filtered or recycled, and pesticides, additives and antibiotics are often used to prevent the shrimp from dying. The processing plants are filthy, and often very hot, resulting in spoiled food that is then shipped to the USA.

Wild, domestic shrimp from the Gulf Coast is a safer way to go.


Tilapia is a farmed fish that is often rejected by inspectors for reasons similar to those associated with shrimp. In China, tilapia is often fed a diet of untreated animal feces. We say choose something else until the inspectors are back on duty. (Or maybe longer)


Fresh Produce:

About 50% of our fruit, and 20% of our vegetables are imported. With nobody checking the quality and cleanliness, eating these can be risky business. It is best to buy organic, and local during this time if you can. Use a fruit and vegetable wash, or soak in a vinegar and water solution and scrub with a brush to try to get your produce as clean as possible.

One of the other horrifying parts of the shut down, relative to our food supply is the furlough of those whose jobs are to track foodborne illness outbreaks to identify the source. If there are outbreaks during the shut down (and the recent salmonella infected chicken is a prominent case) they will be harder to control.

Buying local, organic foods from reputable farms is the safest alternative to the uninspected foods in the large supermarkets. Wash all produce carefully, and cook foods thoroughly to kill any possible bacteria. Be sure to wash all cutting boards, surfaces, utensils and your hands in hot soapy water after handling raw foods. Being extra safe is better than being sorry when it comes to food.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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