Posts Tagged ‘food borne illness’

Recall Madness

June 6, 2016

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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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Risky Business: Sprouts

April 25, 2016

 

Jack-The-Green-SproutsI am a lover of most things vegetable. I prefer a mound of greens to a juicy steak any day of the year. I love my vegetables raw, steamed, fried, sautéed, and roasted. There are very few I don’t care for, and  one of those are sprouts. I don’t just dislike them, I detest them.

The hairy consistency and overall earthiness of them is off putting. If the taste and texture isn’t enough to make you back off, these new findings just might.

Sprouts appear on the list of foodborne illness outbreaks more regularly than other foods. The frequent outbreaks have some stores and restuarants taking great measures to mitigate the risks of selling a potentially dangerous “health” food.

When ordering at sandwich chain Jimmy John’s online, a warning pops up stating.”The consumption of raw sprouts may result in an increased risk of foodborne illness and poses a health risk to everyone. Click ‘Yes’ if you understand the potential risks, or ‘Cancel’ if you’d like to continue without adding sprouts.”  The restaurant has been victim of multiple outbreaks of sprout related illness in the last several years.

Kroger and Walmart have deemed sprouts ” too dangerous to sell,” and have opted out of carrying them since 2012.

Why are sprouts, often though of as a health food so susceptible to contamination? Sprout seeds need warmth and humidity to grow, as do many pathogens, causing them to flourish. Because they are eaten raw, the risk is even higher.

Although thorough testing of seeds and seed water have been employed to reduce risk, the outbreaks continue. For now, it is best to pass them by.

photo: Jack and the Green Sprouts / barf blog

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