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Candess Zona-Mendola

Buying Food Online: What Are the Risks?

Americans are all about convenience, especially as our lives get busier and busier with work and family responsibilities. We want things quicker and easier, and online shopping is one of those brilliant conveniences that has come to the rescue in our thriving, busy lives. But is it actually safe to grocery shop online? While much online shopping is perfectly safe and trustworthy, there is a nagging worry for a lot of people as to what quality and freshness their online-ordered food will be delivered. What are the risks? What are the results? Keep reading to find out!

Online Grocery Shopping Pros

Honestly, the convenience of this luxury is fairly incredible. You can order your food anytime, day or night, weekday or weekend. The delivery process tends to be very easy and you can choose your delivery window. Stores like to send their best-quality products, paying special attention to the freshness of ingredients, in order to minimize the complaints from online customers. You’re able to avoid crowded parking lots and grocery store aisles, and you don’t have to wait in line to check out. And you also get to browse for the best prices on your desired items at your own convenience!

But is this ease-of-shopping worth the delivery fee and risk factors?

Online Grocery Shopping Risks

Anytime you’re shopping online, there are a list of risks and concerns involved. Here are the top five that you should consider before ordering food online.

  1. Online Reviews Could be Faked!

While it’s good to see a reasonable supply of five-star ratings on a business’s page, many businesses have confessed to posting fake reviews in order to boost their rating. While some of these companies are offering refunds in exchange for a write up, when ordering from a new company online, be sure to look into more than just their star rating to determine their reliability. Be skeptical of stars without a detailed review. Check into their Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp reviews and look for real-people comments before diving in and purchasing a week’s worth of groceries.

  1. Lack of Full Disclosure on Prices and Fees

Watch out for “hidden fees,” or carefully hidden fineprint that’ll keep you from getting a discount or free shipping. It’s not unheard of for a seller to advertise free shipping, only for you to find out later that you must subscribe to their membership in order to get the free shipping, which often ends up being far more expensive of a bill than if you just paid for shipping to begin with!

  1. Counterfeit Goods or Contaminated Foods

No matter what you’re buying or where, there will be someone in that market trying to sell counterfeit goods. Even Amazon has difficulty keeping all of their merchandise clean of counterfeit. Just remember that if the price is too good to be true, then that’s most likely exactly what it is. Also, keep an eye out for recalled products. It is still common for online retailers to still sell foods that are recalled by the FDA. This is part of the reason the FDA is pursuing further authority to release the names of retailers of recalled products.

“Knowing where a recalled product was sold during the most dangerous food recalls can be the difference between a consumer going to the hospital or not,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “While we can’t prevent every illness, we can make sure we provide information to consumers to prevent more people from becoming sick from a recalled or hazardous food product…Identifying retail locations can be complex…It can involve obtaining information from multiple parts of the supply chain, including the recalling company and intermediate distributors. But we also know this information can be very important to consumers.”

Do your research and don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. Never be pressured into buying things and learn to trust your gut. Additionally, it isn’t unheard of for perishable goods to be delivered already perished. If such a thing happens, be sure not to eat it and report the issue at once.

  1. Your Order Might Never Arrive

That could be the fault of the online seller, or the mailing service. Even big and reputable companies like Walmart and Amazon can struggle with reliable delivery services. This risks cannot be 100% helped, but you can certainly choose your online sellers carefully in order to reduce the risk as much as possible. Only shop from reputable buyers and pay special attention to their delivery reputation.

  1. Identity or Credit Card Theft

Placing your identification or credit card information online is automatically putting you at risk of getting these things stolen. Be especially careful when offering your private information to unknown online retailers, and be sure to check your financial information on a regular basis in order to catch any unwanted activity as quickly as possible. Be sure you maintain careful records of your banking information and pay special attention to your credit report.

Conclusion

Buying food online can be a great convenience for some people, especially those with busy lifestyles, but it certainly presents a great deal of risk to the buyer. When purchasing food online, establishing seller credibility is key to ensuring the food the food delivered  is fresh and pure of contamination. Check reviews, do your research, and be careful what foods you buy. If you ever encounter suspicious activity after online shopping–be it unwanted credit card activity or signs of a food-related illness–report the issue immediately.

October 20, 2018
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Halloween Food Safety

That time of year is coming when the spooky and adorable costumed children come knocking on your door. We love Halloween and everything about it. We really get into the spirit of things, and while we do not hand out as much candy we we once did before we had children of our own, I still find myself becoming quite festive in dressing the boys and taking them out trick-or-treating. Halloween food safety is a big deal at our place.

We have to be food-aware this time of year for more reasons than just our waistlines from indulging in one too many sweet treats though. Obviously we don’t take candy from strangers, but the FDA goes a little further into food safety when it comes to Halloween.

To make sure treats are safe for children, follow these simple steps:

  • Snacking: Children shouldn’t snack on treats from their goody bags while they’re out trick-or-treating. Give them a light meal or snack before they head out – don’t send them out on an empty stomach. Urge them to wait until they get home and let you inspect their loot before they eat any of it.
  • Safe treats: Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pin holes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious. Each year it seems that more and more rumors hit the internet with candy issues including needles and other horrifying information. Be sure to check and double check your candy stash.
  • Food Allergies: If your child has a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Do not allow the child to eat any home-baked goods he or she may have received.
  • Choking hazards: If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.

Bobbing for apples is an all-time favorite Halloween game. Here are a couple of ways to say “boo” to bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

  • Reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Try this new spin on apple bobbing from FightBAC.org: Cut out lots of apples from red construction paper. On each apple, write activities for kids, such as “do 5 jumping jacks.” Place a paperclip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string. Let the children take turns “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple. Give children a fresh apple for participating.

If your idea of Halloween fun is a party at home, don’t forget these tips:

  • Beware of spooky cider! Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
  • No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contain uncooked eggs.
  • “Scare” bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
  • Bacteria will creep up on you if you let foods sit out too long. Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).

Be sure to check to make sure that if you are applying makeup to your child (or even yourself) that you test a portion on your skin as allergies that can creep to other areas of your body. While not food safety related, the idea of having an allergic reaction to makeup when you are just trying to have some Halloween fun is definitely not on the menu for a good time. Many people choose to do their “test run” several days before the big event to ensure there are no issues.

Personally, we take our boys to the local assisted living facility which is also connected to a nursing home and rehabilitation center so that not only the residents can get a peep of the children in their adorable costumes but we also know that this is safer as far as accepting treats than going door to door. They also hand out a variety of snack bag sized portions instead of just mounds of candy. In our community there are also fun events at local fire departments and also the downtown businesses participate in a door to door style trick or treating that has children heading into the business spots instead of inside homes.

We have attended Halloween parties inside the homes of friends in the past, too. These bring forth a variety of food safety concerns especially when preparing foods for a crowd. When we host events in our home we make sure that the hot foods stay hot and the cold foods stay cold. We do not leave anything out and also use those warming trays for hot foods. They work great and are not very expensive when entertaining a bunch of people. We also prepare a lot of foods ourselves with ingredients that we get from local farmers who supply seasonal produce and the Halloween icon; the pumpkin!

Whether you find yourself heading out to trick or treat with your children, attending events or even hosting one inside your own home be sure to practice the above tips to ensure that everyone not only has a great time and makes many memories but also avoids sickness.

At the end of the night you want to remember what a great time that was had by everyone, and send your kiddos to bed so you can collect your parent tax– If you haven’t heard of that one be sure to look it up. I am one of the fortunate ones that has kids who aren’t really fond of candy and love to share.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 20, 2018
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Crops and Flood Waters – Is The Food Safe?

The southern states have been slammed lately with one hurricane or tropical storm after another. It seems like we take a breath and there will be another one coming or stirring around in the ocean and we are waiting to see where it is going to strike. Crops and flood waters can be a concern, with E. coli and other issues.  

Hurricane Florence was a dodged bullet for us in Virginia. We didn’t get so lucky with Hurricane Michael. These floods bring so many concerns from the safety of drinking water to mold growing on literally everything. We are also left wondering about the safety of crops that are grown locally and in the other states that have been hit so hard. And as the rumors pour in, people are concerned if their food is safe.

Being a farmer is tough work; a job that I say I would love to have but it often comes with heartache when a storm comes through and you lose often years of hard work. The recent storms brought loss that will cost millions to get back, but also there are some things that only time can repair and with some aging farmers time is something that there just isn’t enough of. Social media accounts have been filled with photos of damaged farm lands including apple orchards with literally acres of apples laying on the ground often beaten and bruised beyond anything we would bring into our homes to consume. The pecan crops were heavily damaged in Georgia as well and many farmers were unable to harvest crops prior to the storms coming through because they were securing their own homes for the impending weather event.

The FDA has given us some thoughts about the storms and crops that have been hit with flood damage, but let us not forget that not only flooding damaged crops but winds wreaked havoc on them as well.

What Should Farmers Do?

Safety of food crops when flood waters contacted the edible portions of the crops

If the edible portion of a crop is exposed to flood waters, it is considered adulterated under section 402(a)(4) (21 U.S.C. 342(a)(4)) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and should not enter human food channels. There is no practical method of reconditioning the edible portion of a crop that will provide a reasonable assurance of human food safety. Therefore, the FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood damaged to avoid adulterating “clean” crops

Section A applies to ALL food crops, including:

  • Surface crops such as leafy greens, tomatoes, string beans, berries, and corn;
  • Underground crops, such as peanuts, potatoes, carrots, and garlic;
  • Crops with a hard outer skin or shell, such as watermelon and winter squash
  • Grains, nuts, corns, and similar products stored in bulk

For crops that were in or near flooded areas but where flood waters did NOT contact the edible portions of the crops, the growers should evaluate the safety of the crops for human consumption on a case-by-case basis for possible adulteration.  We encourage growers to work with state regulators and local FDA offices to assess their unique situations and to take into consideration all possible types and routes of contamination from flood waters in determining whether a particular crop is adulterated.

Factors to consider in terms of evaluation may include:

  • Assessment of flood waters
  • Flood waters may have been exposed to sewage, chemicals, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms or other contaminants..  In addition, there might have been localized catastrophes such as petroleum leak, chemical spills or other disasters due to flooding.   Therefore, knowledge of the sources of flood waters and any possible upstream contributors of human pathogens and/or chemical contaminants will help evaluate the likelihood of crop contamination by flood waters..
  • Type of crop and stage of growth
  • The likelihood of contamination may be low if:
    • The edible portion of the crop has developed after the flood water receded, or
    • The lowest edible portion of the crop was above the floodwaters level with minimum risk of contamination due to splashing;
    • and
    • The crop can be harvested without cross-contamination from nearby environment, including flooded soil and flooded portion of the crop.

FDA recommends that, depending on the results of the assessment described above, the growers consider testing any one or more contaminants, as needed, to determine the suitability for human food use.  Sampling should be representative of the crop being evaluated and testing appropriate for the specific crop and flood situation. FDA recommends that growers discuss their testing plans with state and local FDA regulators and technical specialists for case-specific evaluations.

These situations do not just end with current crops though. The land can be damaged as well and before planting the soil must be tested, too especially if the flood waters have not receded or if the land is very wet. Again time comes into play because the crops may not have time to grow and mature in time for a harvest. This happens locally with corn here in Virginia. Often a second planting is unable to happen because there is just not enough time.

Ensuring that crop foods affected by floodwaters are safe to eat is just another farming stress and for that I have to say that today and every single day we thank our farmers. Farmers are told to use a 30 feet buffer zone between contaminated and non-contaminated crops to keep them separated. Farmers are also urged to check their wells if they were under water and to have the water tested by a local extension office to ensure that the water that is often used for crops is safe to consume.

Our thoughts remain with everyone who has been affected by the recent storm events in the United States and beyond. These storms often leave a lifetime of devastation and memories behind and they take a lot of time and effort to clean up afterwards, especially in farming communities. The loss of crops and even most recently animals put a financial burden on everyone.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 19, 2018
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Multistate Outbreak – Salmonella Chicken Lawsuit Likely

It is not surprising to hear Salmonella illness related to chicken.  It is just about common knowledge that there is a risk of Salmonella infection when chicken is improperly handled or cooked.  What should not be common, though, is Salmonella outbreaks.  Especially Salmonella outbreaks of drug-resistant strains. But yet again, here we are.  A Salmonella outbreak often occurs when the food product is grossly contaminated, making it more likely for those handling or consuming it to become ill.  Information about this latest outbreak of Salmonella Infantis are being uncovered as the investigation trucks on and the likelihood of a Salmonella chicken lawsuit or lawsuits.

In the meantime, here is what you need to know.

What You Need to Know About the Outbreak

As of October 17, 2018, 92 people across 29 states have been linked to this outbreak with Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts being the hardest hit.  Currently there have been 11 reported cases in Pennsylvania. 10 in New York. 9 in New Jersey and Massachusetts.  Ohio has 7 reported cases.  Illinois has seen 5.  North Carolina with, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri have 3.  Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Rhode Island, Texan, Virginia, and Washington have 2 cases each.  The states of Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Tennessee have 1 reported case.

These reported cases are only as accurate as the currently released data and many other cases may not be documented due to the infected individual being healthy enough to recover without medical treatment.  Those cases, unfortunately, are often unreported.  So far people have been hospitalized with Salmonella Infantis linked to this outbreak.  No deaths have been reported so far.

Two big issues are at play here.  No source has been narrowed, and multiple antibiotic resistance makes this illness more difficult to treat.

The CDC did, however, provide a link to a previous pet food investigation from earlier in the year. There may be a possible link between this outbreak (1 person was confirmed sick from exposure to raw pet food) and this earlier investigation. According to the FDA’s website, there was an investigation and a warning letter concerning raw pet foods made by Arrow Reliance Inc., including Darwin’s Natural Pet Products and ZooLogics Pet Food in early 2018. Among the laundry list of found contaminants, Salmonella was found in:

  • Natural Selections Chicken with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #43887, manufacture date 1/30/18, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 3/26/2018
  • ZooLogics Chicken with Vegetables Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #4403743887, manufacture date 2/7/18, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 3/26/2018
  • Natural Selections Duck with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #44147, manufacture date 2/5/18, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 3/26/2018
  • ZooLogics Duck with Vegetable Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #41957, manufacture date 11/16/17, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 2/10/18
  • ZooLogics Chicken with Vegetable Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #41567, manufacture date 11/2/17, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 2/10/18
  • Natural Selections Duck with Organic Vegetables Meals for dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #40487, manufacture date 9/29/17, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 12/04/17
  • Natural Selections Chicken with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella and Listeria Monocytogenes
    Lot #40727, manufacture date 9/26/17, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 12/04/17
  • Natural Selections Turkey with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs, due to Salmonella
    Lot #39937, manufacture date 8/24/17 and Lot #40507, manufacture date 9/20/17, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 12/04/17
  • Natural Selections Duck Meals for Cats, due to potential contamination with Salmonella
    Lot #38277, manufacture date 6/1/17, in 2 lb. flexible film packages, recalled on 09/08/17

What You Need to Know About the Investigation

At this time, evidence is not linking the outbreak strain to a single source.  Current epidemiologic and laboratory evidence (patient interviews and tested samples) indicate that many types of raw chicken products from several different sources are contaminated with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis.

According to patient interviews, different types of chicken products under different brands were consumed prior to becoming ill.  The outbreak strain has been linked to food samples taken from raw chicken products, raw chicken pet food, and even live chickens.

The investigation has uncovered antibiotic resistance to several antibiotics.  Laboratory testing indicated to resistance to antibiotics: ampicillin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, gentamicin, hygromycin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracylcin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued advice to clinicians on which treatment to pursue, though the process to link a patient to the outbreak may present a lag in correct administration of treatment.

As a preventative measure, the CDC and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety Investigative Service (FSIS) – the governing body for food inspection in chicken production has shared investigation information throughout the chicken industry and asked about steps that each facility could take to reduce Salmonella contamination.

What You Need to Know About How the Outbreak is Investigated

When a patient becomes ill with what seems to be a potentially foodborne illness, their doctor will request a test to screen for the potential culprit.  Depending on the results of that test, the data from the patient sample will be uploaded into PulseNet – a “national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the CDC.”   A type of testing known as DNA fingerprinting is obtained on the sample to determine the specific genetic information of the strain infecting the patient.  With this specific information, data can be compared to other patients and food samples to link cases to other patients and potential sources of infection.  When samples are closely genetically related, they are most likely from a common source.

Patient interviews help narrow down the source to give investigators a place to start.  In this outbreak, 89% of those interviewed reported preparing and/or eating chicken products purchased raw.  Chicken products included ground chicken, chicken pieces, and whole chicken.  They were asked what brands they purchased and where they got them from.  In this outbreak, interviewed patients indicated many different brands from multiple stores.  Patient interviews can uncover other clues to help investigators narrow down the source.  “One person got sick after pets in their home ate raw ground chicken pet food.”  Recently the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a recall on raw pet food.    Another interviewed patient lives in the same home as a person who works in a facility that raises or processes chickens.

Armed with patient interview information, FSIS and FDA investigators looked for potential sources.  Samples were obtained from slaughter and processing establishments as part of FSIS’s routine testing procedures under the current Salmonella performance standards.  Samples from 58 facilities tested positive for genetically similar strains to the Salmonella Infantis strain identified in outbreak patient samples.  “This result provides evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from handling or eating raw or undercooked chicken.”

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis has been identified in samples from raw chicken pet food, from raw chicken products from 58 slaughter and/or processing establishments, and from live chickens.  Samples collected at slaughter and processing establishments were collected as part of FSIS’s routine testing under the Salmonella performance standards. Furthermore, WGS showed that the Salmonella from these samples is closely related genetically to the Salmonella from ill people.  This result provides more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from handling or eating raw or undercooked chicken.

What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family

All chicken products should be considered contaminated.  Expect that germs are present and take precautions as needed to keep you family safe.  You can do this by cleaning hands, cooking tools, and surfaces.  Proper handwashing should be with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds – consider singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to be sure you wash long enough.  You can use a diluted bleach solution – one tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water – to sanitize food contact surfaces.  Fresh bleach solution should be prepared each time.

Separating raw and ready-to-eat food items is also essential to prevent the spread of germs.  From the grocery cart, to the shopping bag, to the refrigerator, to the prep counter – keep raw foods away from other foods.  Consider using separate cutting boards and plates for raw meats and potentially contaminated foods than ones used for produce and cooked foods.  NEVER place cooked food on a plate that you had raw meat or potentially contaminated foods on.

Cooking to an appropriate internal temperature is another way to protect your family.  Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 ⁰F.  Don’t estimate or go by “color.”  Use a food thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to get an accurate temperature.

Store food responsibly.  The refrigerator should be at least 40 ⁰F.  All foods should be stored in the refrigerator within 2 hours to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.  This drops to 1 hour if the temperature creeps above 90 ⁰F.

Our Salmonella Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed a Salmonella infection, we want you to know that a Salmonella Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Salmonella after eating or handling raw chicken products, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Heather Van Tassell, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 19, 2018
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Phthalates: The Harsh Chemicals in Restaurant Foods

There is a new study that proves burgers and other fast foods consumed at restaurants, fast food outlets, and cafeterias are often associated with higher levels of phthalates. This means that dining out at these fast food outlets, cafeterias, and restaurants can increase the total level of potentially health harming chemicals called phthalates in our bodies, according to the latest study.

What Are They?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are used in food packaging and processing materials that are known to disrupt and change hormones in the body. Studies have linked them to various health problems, including birth defects and others.

The study is one of the first completed to compare exposure of phthalates in people who preferred dining out to those who rather eat home cooked meals. People who reported to have more meals at a cafeteria, fast food restaurants, and other restaurants had much more phthalate levels than those who ate at home. The levels were approximately 35 percent higher than people who had food purchased from the grocery store, the study concluded.

The study has clearly suggested that food prepared at home is less likely to contain high levels of phthalates and other harmful chemicals that are linked to an increase in fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and other health issues, as reported by senior author Ami Zota, ScD, MS and assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Milken Institute of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University.

The findings of the study point out an important and previously unrecognised source of exposure to the phthalates for the US populations.

Experiment:

Lead author of the study, Julia Varshavsky who is PhD, MPH and did conducted the study while she was present at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, Zota and their colleagues extracted and used the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 2005 and 2014. There were a total of 10,253 participants in the study that were asked question on what they ate and where the food they had came from in the last 24 hours. The researchers collaborated the answers and analyzed the links between what people ate and the levels of phthalate break down products that were found in each participant’s urine sample.

Findings:

The team found out that 61% of the participants reported that they dined out at a fast food outlet, cafeteria or a restaurant the previous day. Here is what the researchers found:

  • The association between exposure to phthalate and dining out was quite significant in all the age groups but the magnitude of association was found to be highest among the teenagers;
  • Adolescents who were frequent consumers of fast food and other food that was purchased outside the home had 55 percent higher phthalate level as compared to those who preferred to consumed home cooked food;
  • Certain kind of foods especially cheeseburgers and other variety of sandwiches were associated with an increase in the level of phthalates. These foods had more phthalates only when they were purchased at a cafeteria, restaurant or a fast food outlet.
  • The study revealed that sandwiches that are sold and consumed at fast food outlets, cafeteria or a restaurant are associated with 30% higher levels of phthalate in all age groups.

The toxic effect of these hormone disrupting chemicals can cause much more of a problem in pregnant women, children and teens. Therefore, it is important that we find ways to limit the exposure, adds Varshavsky who is a postdoctoral scientist at the University of California, San Francisco. Studies in the future should investigate how to effectively intervene to remove phthalates from the food chain.

A previous study done by Zota and colleagues found that people who are more fast food, burger, fries and other foods had 40 percent higher phthalate levels than people who ate such foods rarely. The new study looks much more broadly at dining out and not just at the fast food outlets to find out the link between outside food and amount of phthalates in the body. According to the author, the findings are quite disturbing as almost two thirds of the population in US eats some food outside the home everyday.

The study has additional authors like Rachel Morello Frosch at the University of California, Berkeley and Tracey Woodruff at the University of California, San Francisco.

Research team used an innovative way to assess the real world exposures to multiple phthalates called cumulative phthalate exposure. This way takes into account that some forms of phthalates are much more toxic than the others. The National Academies of Sciences has recommended using these cumulative assessments twice – first, it was in a 2008 report when the cumulative risk assessments was suggested to estimate human health risk caused by this class of chemicals and next in 2017, when there was a report pointing out that certain phthalates can lead to reproductive hazards to humans.

There are a lot of products that contain phthalates like gloves used in handling food, food processing equipments and take out home boxes among a lot other items that are used in day to day operations at restaurant, cafeteria and fast food meals. There are research work that suggests that these chemicals can leach from the containers or wrappings and processing equipments into your food. When verifies with additional research, the study findings suggest that people who are frequently dining out at the outlets are getting a side of phthalates with their delicious meals.

How to reduce exposure to phthalates?

Home cooked meals are one of the best ways to limit the exposure to phthalates and other harmful chemicals. Not only are home cooked meals good for your health, it also is a good way to reduce sugar, unhealthy fats and salt. The study also points out that home cooked meals might not have as many phthalates as a restaurant meal.

Phthalate contamination in the food supply represents a much larger public health problem that must be considered and addressed by policymakers. Previous research proves that policy actions such as bans can help in reducing human exposure to phthalates and other harmful chemicals.

By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 18, 2018
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MMWR & The Burden of Food Poisoning

United States has been taking continuous food safety measures, but the burden of food poisoning still has taken a toll on the government. So, CDC examined the trends of foodborne illnesses in 2017 and also detailed on the changes in its incidence since 2006 in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for March 23, 2018. In 2017, FoodNet reported a total of 24,484 infections, 5677 hospitalizations, and 122 deaths.

The Breakdown

When you compare the numbers with the 2014 – 2016 statistics, the incidence of infections for Campylobacter, Listeria, STEC E.Coli, Vibrio, Cyclospora, and Yersinia have increased. The increase, however, is also attributed to the fact that the testing was previously limited, and the rates of reporting of illnesses have grown. This is likely due to escalated use and sensitivity of the culture independent diagnostic tests. In 2017, infections related to Salmonella serotypes Typhimurium and Heidelberg decreased as compared to 2006-2008 and the incidence of serotypes Infantis, Thompson and Javiana increased. The decrease could be because of the new regulatory techniques that mandate testing of Salmonella in various poultry products. Cases of STEC E. coli O157 also have decreased in 2017, along with reductions of these isolations from beef when the numbers are compared to 2006-2008.

FoodNet – The Driving Force

FoodNet is a collaboration between CDC, USDA-FSIS, 10 state health departments, and the FDA. They conduct population-based surveillance for infections caused by Campylobacter, Listeria, Vibrio, Shigella, STEC, Cyclospora, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, and Yersinia in 10 sites that have 15% of the US population (around 46 million people). Laboratory diagnosed bacterial infections is basically defined as isolation of the bacteria from a specimen with the help of culture or identifying using CIDT. CIDTs help in detecting nucleic acid sequences and bacterial antigens.

Incidence per 100,000 population is estimated by dividing the number of infections in 2017 by the surveillance area population in 2016. Since there have been so many changes in testing practices since 2006, incidence comparisons to 2006-2008 uses only culture confirmed bacterial infection but the incidence comparisons with 2014-2016 uses both culture confirmed and CIDT positive cases.

Infections Cases, Incidence and Trends

In 2017, incidence of infections per 100,000 population were as follows

  • Campylobacter – 19.2
  • Salmonella – 16.0
  • Shigella – 4.3
  • STEC – 4.2
  • Cryptosporidium – 3.7
  • Yersinia- 1
  • Vibrio – 0.7
  • Listeria – 0.3
  • Cyclospora – 0.3

Percentages of all those infections that were CIDT positive-only included those that had culture negative and were not tested for the culture includes Yersinia (51%), Campylobacter (36%), Shigella (31%), Vibrio (29%), Salmonella (9%) and Listeria (1%). The incidence of 2017 was significantly higher as compared to 2014-2016 with a 489% increase for Cyclospora, 166% increase in Yersinia, 54% increase in Vibrio, 28% increase in STEC, 26% increase in Listeria and a 10% increase in Campylobacter. There was an overall 96% increase in the bacterial infections diagnosed by CIDT in 2017 as compared to the numbers during 2014-2016. The percentage of positive cultures among the specimens on which reflex culture was done, the numbers were around 38% for Vibrio to 90% for Salmonella.

Incidence of Salmonella and its serotypes:

The 5 most common serotypes of Salmonella among the 6373 (89%) of the fully serotypes isolates were

  • Enteritidis – incidence of 2.6 per 100,000
  • Typhimurium – incidence of 1.4 per 100,000
  • Newport – incidence of 1.3 per 100,000
  • Javiana – incidence of 1.2 per 100,000
  • Monophasic variant of Typhimurium

Among the 13 of the most common serotypes, the incidence for Heidelberg in 2017 was 65% lower when compared to 2006-2008 and 38% lower when compared to 2014-2016. For Typhimurium, the numbers were notably lower with 42% and 14% respectively.

STEC E. coli Trends:

A total of 1473 STEC isolates were tested for the O157 antigen and out of them, a total of 413 (28%) cases were determined to be O157. Among the 766 non-O157 STEC isolates whose serogroup were determined, the most common were O26 with 29% cases, O103 with 26% of cases and O111 with 18% of cases. The incidence of the non-O157 STEC notably increased by 25% during 2017 as compared to that of 2014-2016 and the incidence of STEC O157 remains unchanged. However, when you compare the numbers for STEC O157 with 2006-2008, the numbers were significantly lower and there was a 35% decrease in the incidences.

HUS Trends:

FoodNet determined a total of 57 cases of HUS among children with an incidence rate of 0.51 per 100,000 during 2016 and 35 (61%) occurred among the children aged less than 5 years, so the incidence is 1.18 per 100,000. When you compare the incidence of 2016 with that during 2013-2015, then the numbers are not significantly different among all the children or those that are aged less than 5 years. The incidence, however, notably decreased by 36% in children aged less than 5 years during 2016 as compared to the time period 2006-2008.

Discussion:

There has been a rapid increase in the culture independent diagnostic testing. In the previous years, stool test only consisted of the methods that included finding Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter and STEC O157. These panel tests more than often included Yersinia, Vibrio, Cyclospora and non O157 STEC, which most likely were the reason for their increase in 2017.

CIDTs are not able to subtype the pathogens, detect outbreaks when the reflex culture is performed or find antimicrobial susceptibility. Because of these reasons, the Association of Public Health Laboratories has recommended that the clinical labs do culture CIDT positive specimens. CIDTs are able to come up with the results more quickly which has increased incidence of the infection. Infection that remain undetected with the culture methods might be found with better sensitivity and specificity of the DNA based CIDTs.

The report concludes by stating that most of the outbreaks and illnesses can be prevented. It states:

“Most foodborne illnesses can be prevented. New regulatory requirements aimed at reducing contamination of poultry meat might have contributed to decreases in incidence of infections caused by Salmonella serotypes Typhimurium and Heidelberg. Vaccination might also have contributed, but the extent of vaccination in poultry broiler flocks has not been reported. The declines in these and in STEC O157 infections provide supportive evidence that targeted control measures are effective. More control measures are needed and might be achieved with continued implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,§§ new or revised meat and poultry performance standards, and enhanced training and guidance for industry and inspection personnel. In particular, measures targeting specific Salmonella serotypes, including vaccination of broiler poultry flocks, might result in a marked decrease in human illness, as has been seen in the United Kingdom.”

We can surely see a difference with continued implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, more control measures, revised poultry, seafood and meat performance standards etc.

By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 18, 2018
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NJ, NY, and PA Hit Hard by Salmonella Raw Chicken Outbreak

A devastating outbreak of Salmonella is currently spreading quickly throughout the United States. This multistate outbreak is made even more deadly given that the Salmonella Infantis is multidrug-resistant. Investigators from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are linking the outbreak to raw chicken products from a variety of sources with no single common supplier being identified. 92 people have been affected from 29 states. Further, there have been 21 hospitalizations. Stakeholders are currently trying to get the situation under control with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) monitoring the outbreak. Unfortunately for food safety observers, this is yet another yet another poultry-related outbreak to add to the long list of cases in recent history. Here is everything you need to know about this latest Salmonella Raw Chicken Outbreak.

What We Know

First, a clarification of what is known by the authorities must be given. Illnesses started from January 19, 2018, to September 9, 2018. CDC has been extremely thorough in their investigation to date with a comprehensive PulseNet system being used to monitor the illnesses attributed to the outbreak. There is a phenomenal range of people affected with ill people ranging in age from less than one year to 105, with a median age of 36. Additionality,  sixty-nine percent of ill people are female thus showing the gender bias for victims. This information illustrates to food safety professionals just how encompassing this Salmonella outbreak is for consumers and the subsequent dangers to health. Investigations have shown the strain in samples from a variety of raw chicken products including pet food, chicken pieces, ground pieces and whole chickens. The bacteria have also been found in live chickens.

Interviews are an indispensable tool for investigators to coherently analyze the perilous situation. Ill people were posed questions focusing on the weeks before they came ill, especially about the foods they ate and other exposures. Of 54 people interviewed, 48 (89 percent) reported preparing or eating chicken products that were purchased raw, including whole chicken, chicken pieces and ground chicken. Results conclusively prove that this outbreak caused people to get sick from handling or eating raw or undercooked chicken as ill people reported purchasing various different brands of raw chicken products from many stores. The patients live in California, Washington, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Maine.

Photo courtesy of CDC

Rosa DeLauro (D., Ct.) believes that; “The overuse of antibiotics in the livestock sector only makes this problem worse, and it is long past time we deal with the problem head-on, instead of going through the same issues over and over again. The federal government and the poultry industry need to take this problem seriously. Déjà vu (after a similar incident of antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella that contaminated chicken five years ago which resulted in 634 illnesses across 29 state) is not an acceptable policy for dealing with food safety. We need to be proactive. People’s lives are on the line”.

The Outbreak Investigation

Investigators have identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis through sampling raw chicken pet food, from raw chicken products from 58 slaughter and/or processing establishments, and from live chickens. These samples were collected at slaughter and processing establishments to assist FSIS’ routine testing under the Salmonella performance standards. Furthermore, Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) showed that the Salmonella from these samples is closely related genetically to the Salmonella from ill people. The CDC in their investigation notice state that; “a single, common supplier of raw chicken products or of live chickens has not been identified. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis is present in live chickens and in many types of raw chicken products, indicating it might be widespread in the chicken industry. CDC and USDA-FSIS have shared this information with representatives from the chicken industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce salmonella contamination.”

This outbreak of Salmonella is alarming stakeholders given that it is multidrug resistant, especially the following antibiotics (the main drug used to treat the disease): ampicillin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, gentamicin, hygromycin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. These results of predicted resistance came from WGS analysis of isolates from 43 ill people and 68 food or environmental samples. Moving forward, CDC and USDA-FSIS are sharing information about the investigation with representatives from the chicken industry seeking to establish precautionary measures to reduce Salmonella contamination.

Salmonella – A Household Name?

Salmonella is becoming an all too familiar illness in the U.S. Common symptoms usually occur 12 to 72 hours after being exposed with infections including diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Children under the age of 5, adults over 65 years old and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer severe Salmonella upon infection. The illness usually lasts between four and seven days with most healthy people recovering without ever needing treatment. with antibiotics. Cases that cause concern include severe diarrhea and a spread from the intestines to the bloodstream. However, there are reported cases of death unless victims are not treated promptly.

There are several easy, vital safety procedures that must be adopted to prevent Salmonella infection. Most importantly, it is paramount that the handling of raw chicken is done carefully given that raw chicken has harmful germs that can infect food preparation areas. Hands should always be washed thoroughly, especially before and after preparing or eating food, touching animals, or using the toilet.

Raw chicken should not contaminate the food preparation areas as germs can spread to other foods and surface. A separate cutting board for raw chicken and vegetables will efficiently manage germs and protect diners. It is a good idea to not wash chicken before preparing it. Another fundamental step to avoid Salmonella infection is thoroughly cooking raw chicken to kill harmful germs. Purchasing a food thermometer to effectively measure temperatures is a proactive way of ensuring food safety. Chicken breasts, whole chickens and ground poultry should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

 By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 18, 2018
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Multistate Raw Chicken Salmonella Outbreak

Raw chicken Salmonella. They can’t seem to get away from each other. The CDC and public health and regulatory officials across multiple states are currently investigating a multistate outbreak involving a multi-drug resistant Salmonella infection. These illnesses have been linked to raw chicken products, leading to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (USDA-FSIS) involvement in the investigation. Here is what you need to know about this outbreak!

Many outbreaks don’t ever surpass a dozen infected cases, and when the numbers reach two dozen, it’s considered terrible. However, this recent raw chicken-related outbreak has left ninety-two individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cases have been reported across 29 states! While twenty-one of the ninety-two affected people have been hospitalized, no deaths have yet to be reported.

According to epidemiologic and laboratory evidence, many different types of raw chicken products are responsible for the outbreak and a variety of different sources have been found to be contaminated with Salmonella Infantis, meaning the source that is making people sick is broad and harder to contain than normal. Per information gathered via interviews, the ill people report having eaten many different types, brands, and cuts of chicken products purchased from a collection of locations. The particular strain has been detected “in samples taken from raw chicken pet food, raw chicken products, and live chickens,” according to the CDC.A single, common supplier for the contaminated raw chicken has yet to be determined.

Per the CDC’s report on the outbreak, “Antibiotic resistance testing conducted by CDC on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people shows that the outbreak strain is resistant to multiple antibiotics.” This is a dangerous situation, as it means it is much harder to eliminate! The CDC goes on to say that

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis is present in live chickens and in many types of raw chicken products, indicating it might be widespread in the chicken industry. CDC and USDA-FSIS have shared this information with representatives from the chicken industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce Salmonella contamination.

A resistance to antibiotics, however, is scary news to anyone who has contracted this specific strain of Salmonella. A visit to a healthcare professional is certainly advisable, but few medications are proving effective in fighting this particular strain. The best protection in this case, as in many, is in prevention.

All ninety-two of the infected illness had been reported by October 15th. A list of the states as well as number of cases can easily be found on the Map of Reported Cases page provided by the CDC. According to the research presented by the CDC, the illnesses have ranged in dates from January 19th to September 9th of this year, which patients’ ages ranging from less than twelve months to 105 years old. The median age is 36 and 69% of all the ill cases are female. Fifty-four of the ninety-two sick people were interviewed and 48 of these reported having prepared or eaten chicken that had been purchased raw. Products included ground chicken, chicken pieces, and whole chickens, but many different brands from multiple stores were used. According to one interviewee, the sickness occurred after feeding the pets in the home raw ground chicken as pet food, and another illness came about by someone who works directly with raising and processing chickens.   

58 different slaughter and/or processing establishments have been identified as contaminated with the strain of Salmonella in question. Samples were collected from many different establishments as part of FSIS’s investigation testing routine, a standard test meant to identify Salmonella performance standards. As authorities collect more information, it becomes more and more apparent that people suffering from this outbreak become sick after handling or eating raw or undercooked chicken products.

The CDC offers a collection of helpful advice on the most effective ways to prevent a salmonella infection from spreading. They encourage retailers and consumers to “handle raw chicken carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. This outbreak is a reminder that raw chicken can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and make you sick.” While we’ve all most likely been educated on the fact that it’s best to eat your meat cooked rather than raw, outbreaks like this one occur due to improper food handling techniques. The CDC is clear about not advising consumers to avoid eating chicken or that retailers should cease selling chicken products. They are simply and directly stating that properly cooking chicken is essential in order to prevent foodborne illnesses from spreading.

In order to make it as clear and concise as possible, the CDC has presented a list for all consumers to follow in order to prevent Salmonella infection from any raw chicken products from any source:

  • Wash your hands. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another if hands have Salmonella germs on them. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers.
  • Cook raw chicken thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Chicken breasts, whole chickens, and ground poultry, including chicken burgers and chicken sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food.
  • Don’t spread germs from raw chicken around food preparation areas. Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw chicken can spread to other foods and kitchen surfaces. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw chicken. Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken and other raw meats if possible.
  • CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.

Be careful with raw ingredients, especially raw poultry, since even meats contaminated with some strain of Salmonella bacteria can appear and smell perfectly normal. Properly cooking these proteins is essential in avoiding the spread of foodborne illnesses.

Our Salmonella Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed a Salmonella infection, we want you to know that a Salmonella Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Salmonella after eating or handling raw chicken products, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Abigail Ryan, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 17, 2018
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The Risks of Honey

People like to eat sweet things. There’s no shame in that. We sweeten our tea, we sweeten our cakes, we sweeten our cereals and peanut butter sandwiches. With scary information constantly streaming out about the dangers that sugar presents to your waistline and the threat chemically-made sweeteners have on your body, honey has taken its appropriate place in the arena of sweetness. Honey is generally considered one of the healthier options, but that doesn’t mean it is entirely void of risk as a food item. See the following list of risks of honey before you commit yourself completely to this delicate sweetener.

What is Honey?

While practically everyone has tasted honey, or at least seen it on a shelf available for purchase, few actually understand what honey is made up of. While we correlate it with bees and flowers, many don’t actually understand that it’s a sweet fluid that honeybees create using the nectar from flowering plants. There are approximately 320 different variations of honey, off of which differ slightly in color, odor, and flavor.

Honey is made mostly of sugar, though it also contains a healthy mixture of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, and antioxidants, making it beneficial for many different ailments and nutritional needs. Honey can and is often used as a natural sweetener, as well as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial agent. It is extremely useful when ingested orally to treat coughs and applied topically to treat burns and promote the healing of wounds. Honey can be used to reduce the risk of heart disease, relieve gastrointestinal tract infections, prevent memory disorders, and more.

What Harm can Honey Do?

First off, if you’re allergic to honey, then you’re fully aware of the dangers it could present to you specifically and (hopefully) know to avoid it. Generally, however, honey is safe for adults and children older than the age of 1. However, honey can actually present it’s own forms of dangers, especially when consumed raw.

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), for instance, reported that a number of people from varying regions in their Mainland died after consuming unprocessed, raw honey back in January. Honey and honey products, including raw honey, comb honey, wild honey, and more, are gaining a lot of popularity, especially in recent years. However, it’s important to note that even though these products carry their fair share of specific health benefits, they also come with some intense risks aside from high allergen risk.

As foragers, honeybees can cover several kilometers in their journey to bring nectar from wide variants of plants to their hives. The kinds of plants honeybees can forage from have the potential to be poisonous. If the density of flowering poisonous plants is high, or if the number of insects that feed on these poisonous plants is high, all during a certain period, then the honey the bees develop has a high chance of containing many natural toxins. Grayanotoxin that causes “mad honey poisoning” is one of the most common results of eating toxin-filled, unprocessed honey.

Depending on the type and level of toxin contained in the honey, the symptoms of honey poisoning vary. Nausea and vomiting, however, are common symptoms and tend to occur at different levels of severity. If the toxin level is high and the resulting poisoning severe, then low blood pressure, shock, and even death are all within the realm of possibility.

Infants Under 1 Should Never Be Fed Honey

Due to honey’s unpredictability in the form of allergens, toxins, and more, babies under the age of one should never be allowed to ingest honey of any kind. This includes straight honey, honey products, and things sweetened with honey. Infants’ immune systems are not strong enough to handle the results should they have an allergy to honey or should the honey contain any kind of toxin. Why? Because of botulism.

Botulism and honey is no joke. According to our friends at Poison.org,

“Botulism spores can be found in honey; when swallowed, the spores release a toxin. Infants’ systems are too immature to prevent this toxin from developing. In fact, most cases of botulism in the U.S. are in infants.

When botulism toxin is absorbed from the intestines, it affects the nervous system. The most common symptoms in infants are muscle weakness – the infant feels “floppy” and the eyelids can droop; constipation, sometimes for several days; poor sucking and feeding; and an unusual cry. Poor feeding can quickly lead to dehydration. Muscle weakness can lead to breathing difficulties.

No one knows exactly how long it takes for symptoms to develop, but it’s thought to be about 3 to about 30 days. Over a period of a few days, a child can become acutely ill. Treatment in an ICU, including a respirator and feeding through an IV or a tube may be needed. If botulism is thought to be the cause of the child’s illness, there is a treatment available, but it takes a day or so for this unusual drug to be delivered to hospitals. Children usually recover, even without this drug, but receiving it can shorten the length of time that a child spends in the hospital.

There are other sources of botulism spores, especially soil, so that honey is not the only way that infants can be exposed. However, NOT giving honey in any form to infants is an easy, safe way for parents to limit the risk.”

Conclusion

Honey is delicious and understandably growing in popularity. It has a lot of health and medical benefits and should certainly never be removed from consumers. However, it also presents its fair share of risks! Therefore, when purchasing honey, one must always be sure to do so from reliable sources or apiaries. Be aware that grayanotoxin-containing honey often causes a burning sensation in the throat and any and all honey that has a bitter or astringent taste should be immediately discarded. People traveling overseas should pay careful attention to their consumption of honey, as grayanotoxin poisoning is far more common outside America.

And parents should never feed honey to infants less than a year old.

By: Abigail Ryan, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 17, 2018
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It’s National Pasta Day!

Pasta holds a special place in the hearts and minds of diners around the world. The versatility, tastiness and ease of cooking makes pasta a firm family favorite. This healthy and nutritious dish can be brought to life with succulent flavors, allowing chefs to work their magic and show off their skills. Pasta has been recognized as a pillar of the Mediterranean Diet and won the prestigious award of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This incredible recognition by the leading global cultural body truly highlights the importance of this beloved dish to food lovers around the world. Given this phenomenal love for pasta, it is only natural that we devote one day to truly basking in this glorious taste. The United States celebrates Pasta Day on October 17. This global recognition and establishment of world pasta day gives friends and families the opportunity to unite and show their love for the most delicious food known to mankind! All hail food holidays!

Pasta History

The history of pasta is long and undoubtedly illustrious. People have been eating pasta for 5000 years. The current epicenter for pasta consumption is Italy. A country famous for world class cuisine has adopted pasta and made it their own, for pasta and Italy are synonymous with each other. A land which has given the world so much in terms of delicious food can crown pasta as its greatest export. Italy has the undisputed honor of producing 25 percent of all the pasta that is eaten worldwide. However, it must be noted that the production of pasta is a global phenomenon. 48 countries produce over 1,000 tonnes of pasta with pasta production increasing by a staggering 57 percent from 1997 to 2016. 14.3 million tonnes of pasta are created to perfection each year and given to chefs to create masterpieces. Global pasta sales are up 2.3 percent each year and the statistics show us that the only way is up! Pasta offers consumers the luxury of being affordable, tasty and healthy all at the same time.

As statistics show, the allure of pasta is sweeping the globe. International Pasta Organization (IPO) President Paolo Barilla explains that; “World pasta day offers us the opportunity to share how pasta of Italian tradition is increasingly appreciated and valued in many countries around the world that have developed excellent local recipes. From the pleasure of a tasty meal and good nutrition, to the awareness that it is accessible and respectful of the planet, these are all features that make it a modern product.” The IPO has been promoting pasta since the first annual celebration in 1998. For 20 years, the IPO has been meeting yearly to promote the countless wonders of pasta to the world. In a fast paced world, pasta is a quick and healthy option to diners that are hard pressed for time and can help people achieve weight loss and weight management goals. The reasons to celebrate pasta are plentiful. Most importantly, pasta has been linked to lowering incidences of chronic diseases, heart disease and cancer.

Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!

The wonders of pasta knows no boundaries. As is to be expected for a world pasta day article, we are proud in our passion for pasta and want to offer readers nothing but a shameless plug. There are a truly mind boggling 600 shapes of pasta in the world. The creative ones amongst us are in a minefield of potential intuitive designs. Further, pasta is revered by experts as a ‘total’ food given that it is consumed in every continent and satisfies the human diet’s primary requirements. Pasta is typically made from durum wheat semolina or from the flour of other grains mixed with water and/or eggs. Pasta making is an artisanal art with restaurants carefully mastering their recipe to offer diners the best tastes possible. Diners are no doubt more familiar with the most famous types of pasta. These include fusilli, spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, penne, cannelloni, tagliatelle and farfalle. In the words of the late, great Anthony Bourdain; “those places I don’t understand, just doing bad food, it takes some doing. Making good pasta is so much easier than making bad stuff. It actually takes quite an effort to make poor linguine pomodoro”.

World pasta day activities must begin with making a tasty pasta dish. Given that there are a plethora of options available, aspiring chefs amongst us must be tactful in preparation. Popular sauces to compliment the type of pasta include marinara, brown butter, Ragu, vodka sauce, and Alfredo. Catering to a large group can be an arduous task given the amount of options available as everyone could have a different preference. The American classic macaroni and cheese is always an option for those devoid of imagination. Mastering the plenty of variables in play are crucial and require meticulous planning. Given that this a challenge, it is only right that the finished article is shared with esteemed friends, followers and colleagues on social media. The savvy ones can utilize flattering filters to show off their pasta, creating envy for those not lucky enough to come together for a pasta party. Key to any social media hit is a witty #hashtag. Hopefully, the lure of the picture will set off a chain reaction and those who are envious will visit their favorite restaurant. Leaving pasta preparation to the experts is a guaranteed winner!

Italians Don’t Die… They Pasta Way

For those that have made it this far and are still sceptical of pasta, we have one final paragraph to convert you. As a carbohydrate (thus prone to criticism), health warriors must be taught facts about the benefits of pasta. The glycemic index of pasta is lower than less complex carbohydrate foods and pasta is digested slowly to allow the sensation of being full for longer. Whole grain pasta is incredibly healthy and a study, published in Nutrition & Diabetes, links pasta intake with significantly lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and central obesity. Ultimately, pasta is cheap, affordable and healthy. Its health benefits, coupled with its ease of preparation, make pasta high in nutritional quality. These benefits have led pasta to become the 2016 Google Trend, and a healthy meal choice for top athletes.

By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 17, 2018
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