Posts Tagged ‘salmonella’

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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Hidden Havens (for bacteria)

April 29, 2013

A recent report looks at the places and appliances in your kitchen, which are the most likely to harbor harmful bacteria. The results may surprise you.

The study by NSF, a nonprofit public health group, hopes to provide some insight on how food borne illnesses spread in even the cleanest of kitchens.


Researchers took swabs from kitchens in suburban Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and asked participants to rate where they thought the highest contamination might occur.

While the participants all guessed that the microwave keypad would be the dirtiest, the researchers found that other areas were much more contaminated.

Refrigerator ice and water dispensers are a breeding ground for yeast and mold. The vegetable and meat compartments of refrigerators were often found to harbor salmonella, and listeria. Most shockingly, rubber spatulas, and the rubber gasket that prevents leaks in the blender, were also found to contain yeast, mold and E coli and salmonella.

Proper cleaning of these items is pivotal in preventing food borne illness.

The blender should be fully disassembled and washed in hot soapy water, before drying and storing. Just washing the jar and lid does not seem to be effective enough. Be sure to remove the rubber ring and wash each component thoroughly.

Rubber spatulas are made in 2 pieces, and the handle should be detached from the rubber head, and cleaned separately.

NSF also suggests that the vegetable bins be washed regularly with soap and water, and dried with a clean towel. Unwashed produce should be kept separated, and away from other foods to prevent cross contamination.

The meat drawers should also be cleaned regularly. The meat should be stored at the bottom of the refrigerator, to avoid juices dripping onto other items.

Water and ice dispensers should be cleaned with a solution of vinegar and water. It is recommended that the water source be turned off, and 3-4 cups of distilled white vinegar be run through the system. Use a tiny brush to clean the waterspout weekly. Be sure to run the water and discard the next batch of ice, to avoid the vinegar taste.

While it was not found to be the ultimate harbinger of germs, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down that microwave keypad with a disinfectant on a regular basis.

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