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Pumpkin Spice Latte Addiction

Do you or someone you know have PSL Addiction?  This affliction often pulls new victims into its grasp this time of year?  Both effects and withdrawal symptoms could be compared to hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.  What am I talking about?  The Pumpkin Spice Latte of course.  This year marks the 15th consecutive release of Starbuck’s most popular seasonal flavor.  It has stuck around for a reason.  In addition to hype, this beloved pastime has chemical properties that contribute to its addiction.

There is more truth to this satirical public service announcement than you might think.  Between the caffeine, sugar, and salt in the perfect ratio that sends even the not so “basic” of the population running to the nearest Starbucks, something dark and addictive lies.

Habit Forming Drink Tips the Scales of Percent Daily Value

Inside that sweet, orange elixir resides a significant portion of your daily intake of fat, sodium, and sugar.  This trifecta mimics the addictive properties used in tobacco products, says Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss and David Kessler, who helped run the United States Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s.

Sizing up that cheerful Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), a grande serving of 16 ounces makes up almost half of the suggested daily value of saturated fat.  Not to mention the 240 mg of sodium they sneak into each serving. That is 10 percent of your daily value in case you were wondering.  While there is no recommended daily value for sugar, the PSL contains 50 grams.  This combination combines to elicit a reaction in your brain akin to those of certain illicit drugs.  This cocktail of chemicals is not found in the PSL by happenstance.  Each aspect of the warm, frothy beverage is designed to enhance the senses and keep you coming back for more.

But Addiction?

That doesn’t addictive.  Does it?  A 2011 Duke University study indicates that salt, just the salt content itself, can trigger the same nerve cells found in the hypothalamus. These cells light up when consuming cocaine or heroine (in rat subjects of course).  This causes a flood of dopamine to rush the brain before the blood can even fully absorb it.

A 2015 study at the University of Michigan found that processed foods (more so than natural foods) containing high amounts of carbohydrates are absorbed more quickly by the body.  This is why food addiction has a higher associating with processed foods.  “The research is very clear in terms of what happens in the brain when you get this rush of sugar,” explains Dan Henroid, a dietician who heads the food programs at the University of California, San Francisco hospital.  “Especially when It’s in pure, liquid form without enough fiber to help your body absorb it slowly over time, it makes it very easy to get that high.”  Perhaps not directly linked to the PSL, but consumer habits in general, the hospital has even noted an increase in non-alcohol-related liver disease from people consuming large doses of sugar.  How large?  Maybe multiple PSL’s a day large.

Food Addiction is Real.  The Caffeine Effect.

Food addiction is indeed a real thing.  This can come in the form of fixating on one food (or beverage in the case of my PSL addicted friends and co-workers) or food in general.  The Yale Food Addiction Scale (referred to as the Yale Scale) is an industry standard to establish food addiction standards used by the Michigan researchers (and other researchers) in this study.  This Scale consists of 8 levels that start at the moment someone is hooked to the level of “emptying your pockets on the street corner in desperation.”  Level 1 is defined by increasing the quantity and frequency in which something is consumed.  Level 5 is reached when someone knows that the food is bad for you but choose to keep eating it.

You’d think the addictive component of the PSL would be the caffeine content, right?  Whether Pumpkin Spice related or not, caffeine is a major part of many of our lives.  While not directly listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) the go-to standard for doctors and government agencies on all things mental health, it gets an honorable mention.  The substances included that could potentially lead to a mild or severe “substance use disorder” currently include: alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines, hallucinogens such as LSD, and opioids.  It is possible to see this happy little molecule in future additions. Caffeine is currently listed in a category named “Conditions for Further Study.”  Keep it up PSL drinkers…  Your category is coming.

Sugar Adds to the Addiction

The DSM-5’s criteria was adapted for the Yale Scale. The DSM-5 does not list sugar or fat food addictions. This means that the same 11 questions used to indicated behaviors over the last 12 months in the DSM-5 are used in the Yale Scale.  Though the Yale Scale actually includes 35 questions.  On the DSM scale, answering yes to 2 of the 11 questions indicates a mild use disorder.  The more yeses, the greater to sever the disorder.

While the DSM does not call caffeine a “substance use” disorder, it does mention it as a “substance related” disorder.  The DSM recognises the withdrawal symptoms following cessation of caffeine use. These include anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and nausea.

Worried About Your Consumption?

Should you drop the PSL right now?  Whether you are drinking because, “tis the season” or if “you just can’t even,” you are not alone. The Journal of Caffeine Research published a review, co-written by Johns Hopkins and the University of Vermont, which says:

Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world.  Although consumption of low to moderate doses of caffeine is generally safe, and increased number of clinical studies are showing that some caffeine users become dependent on the drug and are unable to reduce consumption despite knowledge of recurrent health problems associated with continued use.  The World Health Organization and some health care professionals recognize caffeine dependence as a clinical disorder.” 

Duke researchers wrote a review in 2014 indicating that:

“It may be difficult for some health professionals to accept that caffeine use can result in the same types of pathological behaviors caused by alcohol, cocaine, opiates, or other drug abuse.  Yet there is evidence that some individuals are psychologically and physiologically dependent on caffeine, although the prevalence and severity of these problems is unknown.”

As the saying goes, everything in moderation.  Enjoy that cherished warm insulated cup of the fall season.  Just make good choices the rest of the day.  I don’t imagine there are going to be PSL Anonymous groups popping up anytime soon.  Though you might find your peers among friends.

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

September 20, 2018
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The Pros and Cons of Cannabis Edibles

With more and more states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreation use, many are calling upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cannabis use in the food industry.  The FDA has broad regulatory powers over legal drugs, with more limited powers over food.  The FDA categorizes a substance as either a food or a drug depending on how the product is labeled or advertised.  Note: For purposes of this particle, we are focusing on natural cannabis, not synthetic marijuana, which is actually not cannabis at all.

BENEFITS OF CANNABIS EDIBLES

Many dispensary owners advertise the benefits of cannabis edibles as way to sell more of their products to consumers.  Whether many people know this or not, enthusiasts report that there are several benefits to cooking with cannabis:

It does not get you stoned

When cannabis is raw, un-aged, and uncooked, the active ingredient is not psychoactive.  By keeping the product raw, many people are able to get the dietary and health benefits of the plants without getting that “high” feeling.

Cannabis Leaves are high in Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber

Whether you think about cannabis, it is still in the family of green leafy plants.  Raw cannabis leaves are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Raw cannabis is high in:

  • Vitamin K (Essential for blood clotting)
  • Vitamin C (Essential for Immune Systems)
  • Iron (Essential for blood Oxygenation)
  • Calcium (Essential for bones)
  • Folate (Essential for DNA repair)

It also has a high concentration of fiber.

High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect the body from stress and other damages.  They also help fight against diseases and cancer.  Raw or cooked cannabis is chocked full of antioxidants that will give our bodies more of what is needed.

Healthy Alternative to Smoking

Smoking is not good for the respiratory system whether you are smoking weed, cigars, or cigarettes.  Smoking marijuana can leave four times more tar in your lungs than smoking cigarettes can.  Using cannabis in your cooking, or rather as an edible, has none of the drawbacks as smoking and puts no harmful carcinogens into your lungs.  Cooked marijuana can actually give you a longer higher because it travels differently through the body’s system than smoking it will.

Great for Pain Relief

As previously stated, ingesting marijuana will cause the user to experience a more intense and longer lasting high than smoking.  When smoking marijuana, a user will usually experience a high lasting from one to two hours.  On average, oral ingested marijuana users experience a high lasting from four to six hours.  This will provide more pain relief for a longer period of time.

Reduces Nausea

Studies have shown that medical marijuana has been clinically proven to reduce nausea and help increase appetite.  The only drawback with this use of cannabis edibles is that it can take up to 90 minutes before they start having an effect.  It is not useful when it comes to sudden and unpredictable bouts of nausea.

Helps Fight Cancer

The National Cancer Institute has updated its website to reflect the fact that cannabis does not only help eliminate the symptoms that results from cancer treatment (nausea, loss of appetite, severe pain, and discomfort), but it can actually be used to help fight cancer.  While you can’t get the added benefit from smoking, the cannabis can be made into an oil that can be added to food.

RISK OF CANNABIS EDIBLES

Cannabis edibles are not regulated by the FDA because of how some of the products are labeled or marketed.  Because they are not regulated, cannabis edibles are more accessible and can be purchased over the internet.  Cannabis infused edibles, such as: brownies, cookies, lollipops, and chocolate candy, avoid the issues of marijuana odor and the stigma of use because they are consumed like any other food.  Cannabis edibles are very easy to transport.  Since these products not being regulated, it is considered a “buyer beware” market.

Mislabeling Edible Marijuana Products

A study conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine tested the accuracy of how medicinal edible marijuana products are labeled.  Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana.  Medicinal edible marijuana products are supposed to list the amount of THC that is contained in their product.  The study showed that majority of the labeling on medicinal edible marijuana products is incorrect.

  • 17 percent of the products had accurate labels
  • 60 percent of the products contained less THC than listed on the packaging
  • 23 percent of the products contained higher levels of THC than listed on the packaging

Warning Issued

In 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning highlighting the dangers of ingesting marijuana.  According to a 2013 study, it was estimated that 19.8 million people used marijuana making it the second leading recreation drug in the country behind alcohol.  The CDC warns its users that consuming multiple servings of cannabis edibles in close successions could lead to higher level of intoxication and a greater risk for psychological side effects which can severely impact judgment.

Officials are also warning parents about the presence and dangers of marijuana-laced candy that could be given out during Halloween.  They suggest that parents check their children’s Halloween candy and look for unusual candy packaging.  If any suspects their child has received marijuana-laced candy, then they are to report it to their local police department immediately.

Better Regulations

Many are calling for better regulation and government oversight for cannabis edibles.  Patients who consume under-labeled products could suffer from overdosing side effects while other patients who consume over-labeled products are not getting what they paid for.

Side Effect of Marijuana Overdose

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Acute psychosis in extreme cases

In the absence of federal regulations, it is up to states that have medical marijuana laws to issue their own regulations.  California has placed a strict limit of no more than 100 milligrams of THC in edible marijuana products.

While many are concerned with the cost of regulation to the consumers and businesses, most can agree that regulation is the only way forward.  While there are many benefits to edible cannabis, it is important to think about the risk as well.  With proper regulation, we can make sure edibles are safe for everyone.

By: Keeba Smith, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 17, 2018
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I’d Like My Milk Lectin Free, Please

Lectins.  Are they good?  Are they bad?  Is this the new “gluten-free” fad?  Will you see packages that never contained lectins now proudly announce “lectin-free” in brightly colored, bold font?  Well, they are good and bad, and most likely yes and yes.

Gluten-free diets became all of the rage recently as a result of their claimed inflammatory response.  Some people do have gluten sensitivities and consuming gluten elicits a terrible autoimmune response – those with celiac disease.  Effects can range from mild to severe resulting in damage to the small intestine.  Many people who remove gluten from their diets, whether for a legitimate health sensitivity or just to jump on the bandwagon, often cite better digestive activities.  This lies in the fact that gluten, the protein found in wheat and some other grains, is difficult for the human body to digest.

Like gluten, lectins are a protein.  A carbohydrate-binding glycoprotein to be exact.  Molecules in the category of lectins are found in just about every living organism.  Good luck avoiding them.  But experts on both sides of the fence explain their stance on these molecular question marks.

Lectins are found in food items often considered part of a healthy diet.  You will find lectin in milk, fruit, nuts, whole grains, beans, peas, and tomatoes.  Avoiding lectins and eating healthy seem to be at odds with on another.  So are lectins bad?  Are they neutral?  Are they good?  What do we do?

Lectins Bad?

Lectins can be inherently toxic.  In fact, many plants and animals use their lectins as a survival tactic.  Depending on how the lectin is ingested, it can reduce absorption in the consumer, so they will not retain the nutrients needed to properly feed the body.  So much so they are sometimes described as antinutrients.

Lectins are known to bind to sugars, more specifically carbohydrates.  In doing so, they “unlock” specific carbohydrates.  This causes the cells in which the carbohydrate is housed to disrupt and results in inflammation.  Without the proper enzymes to break down certain lectins they can pass through the digestive tract wreaking havoc – causing nutrient deficiencies, disrupts digestion, and can even cause severe intestinal damage.  If by chance these lectins leave the digestive tract, which they can do (lectins increase intestinal permeability, essentially creating their own door outside of the digestive tract), they can attach to other organs causing inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lectins Neutral?

Not all lectins are bad.  In fact, many are biologically neutral presenting no biological activity.  They can be consumed and present no ill or beneficial effects.  While lectins are found in many different animal- and plant-based foods, only about 30% of the foods we eat as part of a balanced diet contain significant amounts of them.

Even those that are found to be bad can be rendered neutral through the cooking process.  For example, kidney beans consumed raw elicits gastric distress.  Take those kidney beans and boil them until they soften, the toxic lectin content drops by a staggering 99%.  If you are curious they go from somewhere between 20,000 to 70,000 hemagglutinating units to about 200 to 400 hemagglutinating units.  You can also ferment or sprout foods that are high in lectins to reduce their content to negligible amounts.

Long-term a lectin-free diet may be difficult to maintain.  Any limiting plan that cuts out a large amount of otherwise healthy foods may cause other deficiencies.  

Lectins Good?

The sturdy properties of lectins that allow them to resist digestion, survive the path through the gut, and remain active after the hell-storm that is our digestive system has pharmaceutical companies reaching for them.  This makes lectin primely positioned as a carrier for medications that can treat cancer, HIV, rheumatic heart disease, diabetes, ocular diseases, and other that need the medication to remain intact passing through the digestive system.

While high amounts of certain lectins may cause digestive distress, small amounts of some lectins may even help the human digestive system by benefiting the good bacteria found in the gut.

While there is a lot of information out there about lectins and their negative consequences, not a lot is known about what they do and how they work.  In fact, some research shows that small amounts of certain lectins play important roles in cell growth and even immune function. 

You Decide!

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?  Do you consume foods high in lectins in a way that makes them harmful?  Do you even care?  Have you ever noticed before?  Chances are you have never noticed the effects of this newly taboo food before, even though you have probably consumed quite a bit of these foods in the past.  Or perhaps it is the unanswered question to what has ailed you all of this time when you have done exclusion diets to no avail.

Many of the foods you must avoid in a lectin-free diet can lower the risk of other health conditions such as heart and lung disease and could make it difficult to avoid weight gain.  A lectin-free diet may lead to constipation with decreased dietary fiber, so mitigating that side-effect will be important to maintaining this diet.

If you are wanting to pursue a lectin-free diet, the following foods are fair game:

  • avocado
  • mushrooms
  • celery
  • onion
  • garlic
  • cooked sweet potatoes
  • leafy, green vegetables
  • cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • asparagus
  • pasture-raised meats
  • olives or extra virgin olive oil
  • A2 milk (milk containing only the A2 protein and not the A1 protein found in most commercial milk)

Limit the following foods as part of a lectin-free diet:

  • squash
  • nightshade vegetables: eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes
  • legumes: beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts
  • fruit: although in-season fruit is allowed in moderation
  • grains: white flour in moderation

Avoid the following foods as part of a lectin-free diet:

  • meat from corn-fed animals
  • corn
  • A1 milk (milk containing the A1 protein)

To avoid or to consume is entirely up to you.  Just like most things in life, you decide what works best for you and your family.  As for me, I will continue with the status quo.

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

September 2, 2018
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Hampton, NH Legionnaire’s Outbreak Becomes Deadly

State health officials confirmed that as of today, there have been a total of 12 confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease linked to Hampton, NH hotels. One person has died. New Hampshire health officials have reported that they only expect the case count to rise. Those affected are treated for the respiratory infection, which can be fatal to some people.

The Outbreak

These individuals might have contracted the Legionella bacteria at the end of July or early August in the Ashworth Avenue area between the H Street and the Island Path, as informed in a statement by New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The stretch between the two places of the Ashworth Avenue is about half-mile. Federal authorities along with the state health officials spearheaded in investigation to find the source of the Legionella bacteria at the vacation spot. They believe the cases are linked to hotel spas or hot tubs at two hotels in the area – the Sands Resort and the Harris Sea Ranch Motel.

Officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be joining the state and local authorities this week to investigate the cases of Legionnaires’ growing in the area. The cases have come to light since late last Friday by the state health authorities. On that day, the announcement for the fifth case in the cluster of disease was made, and the CDC’s involvement to investigate the outbreak was announced on Monday at a public information forum in the Hampton Police Station by a panel of state officials including New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Perry Plummer.

All the cases have been adults, state officials added on Thursday. We know three people out of have been hospitalized and discharged from the hospital, but there are likely other who have been hospitalized. One person, an elderly person, died as a result of the infection.

Legionella Briefings

Officials also briefed the public about the infection. They said that the Legionnaire’s disease can only be spread through the inhalation of Legionella contaminated droplets from hot tubs, faucets, decorative fountains, cooling towers, or contaminated showers. Legionnaire’s disease can’t be contracted through drinking contaminated water, unless aspiration has occurred. The disease was discovered in the year 1976 after a massive outbreak occurred at a Pennsylvania convention of the American Legion – hence, the name. According to CDC, there were a total number of 6100 confirmed Legionnaire’s disease cases in the United States last year.

“Legionella is a serious infection,” said Lisa Morris, the Director of New Hampshire’s Division of Public Health Services. “We want to make sure the public is aware of the potential risk of this disease so that each person can make a decision for themselves about visiting the area in the best interest of their health.”

State officials have advised those who are more at risk of getting the disease to postpone their visits to this part of the beach until further investigation is done in the outbreak. Not all people exposed to the bacteria will get sick, but some people are more susceptible to catching the infection, such as: smokers, those who have an underlying lung disease, and elderly people (50 years or older). Those who are under medication that can weaken their immune system, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, are also more susceptible. People with diabetes, kidney failure, and liver failure should also be more cautious.

Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include: headache, muscle pain, fever, chills, etc. by the first day. Shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms etc. develop by the second or third day. If you stayed in the Hampton, NH area in the last few months and have these symptoms, urgent medical attention is highly recommended.

Chan said that around 30-25 cases per year are reported to the department each year. He also said that investigating such a typical case requires expertise that warrants asking CDC to join them in the investigation. The investigation involves environmental sampling of various manmade water sources in the area, including the hotel hot tubs at the two named properties.

Panelists said that the officials have conducted an intense outreach to clinicians about the outbreak as well as the communities in the neighboring states who travel to the Hampton beach.

Impact on the Businesses:

Hampton Beach is a premier vacation spot for those living nearby. So, naturally there are a lot of businesses thriving around in the area.

Most of the business owners including Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce President John Nyhan were specifically concerned about the impact of cluster on the local businesses around. They said that their customers are worried that the place might not be safe to travel. Steve Chasse, owner of the Grayhurst Hotel on F Street sad that the information out in the media might have caused people to think that Hampton, NH was dangerous to travel to. There were a couple of people who cancelled the bookings at the hotel because they were concerned about getting infected by the bacteria.

“While the panelists said that they did not ask the public to stop visiting Hampton Beach, they have written that the presence of the bacteria is taken as a health threat,” said Elizabeth Daly, the Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

Hampton Police Chief Richard Sawyer said that he was sympathetic towards the business owner as his own family once owned a business at the Hampton Beach. Sawyer asked the board of the community to keep a little patience as the investigation is going on. According to a source, Sawyer also told the selectmen that the source of the bacteria may never be discovered. This is because the bacteria can be present somewhere one day and then disappear shortly after sometime. He, however, ensured them that the state officials are working diligently so as to investigate the cluster.

For all those who wish to report Legionnaire’s disease after staying in Hampton, NH can call the state’s Department of Health and Human Services Public Enquiry Line at (603) 271-9461.

If you believe you’ve developed Legionnaire’s disease after staying in Hampton, NH, we want you to know that a Legionnaire’s disease lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this outbreak and offering free legal consultations.  If you or a loved one have become ill, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

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

August 31, 2018
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Holy Corn Dogs! Food Safety & Fair Food

Fall is my favorite season of the year. The colors, the weather, even knowing the snow will descend soon; I love it. But there is a different “season” I love more than fall: Fair Season. Even writing about it brings a smile to my face. If it wasn’t for the wax burner filling my nose with “peach something”, I believe I could almost smell the fair food. Fried Oreos, funnel cakes, corn dogs, popcorn… Great, now my mouth is watering.

Sure, I enjoy the occasional stop at vendors not serving up corn-dogs or elephant ears and browse art or knick-knacks; but at the end of the day it is the food that drives me to plan out which fairs are happening on what days and how many can I fit into a weekend. Over the years, I have come across some interesting treats – the weirder the better. One thing I try to remember though is making my food conquest safe.

Recently, the CDC issued a reminder to those attending and operating fairs concerning food safety. Since ‘tis the season, it would be best if we took a minute, looked over what the CDC said as well as what we know from reading MakeFoodSafe.com regularly, then applied this information when we head out to our local fairs.

You are going to your local fair right?

There you are, standing in front (or in line) at your favorite vendor’s window. Your senses are being assaulted as the smells, sounds, and sights battle for your attention. Your heart is set on the newest treat or an old favorite; either way there are a few tips to remember. This is not to spoil the fun a fair can bring, but to keep you from getting sick, so it is perfectly okay to be safe.

What is the first thing you should look for? Take your eyes off the menu for a minute – we will get back to that soon. The CDC advises a cursory glance at the vendor in front of you. There are a few basic questions to consider before you grab your favorite fair food.

  • Does it look clean?
  • Are the people preparing the food wearing the right protection?
  • Has the food been sitting out or is it made fresh?
  • Is there a sink for the employees to wash their hands?
  • Is there a visible certificate of inspection and a license as well?

You should ask these (and other) questions of yourself before you dive in. There is nothing wrong with making sure the vendor is safe after all. Their safety practices directly affect your health. A good rule of thumb: if any of these questions cannot be answered, move on. That is part of the beauty of fairs: there is more than one place to get your corndog or deep-fried Oreo. I would go so far as to say to ask for a license if one is not visible and politely ask them to make it visible if it isn’t.

Another area to watch out for would be cross-contamination. Is the vendor trying to prepare multiple foods? Beef, chicken, and pork all have different needs when preparing and cross-contamination is a very real problem.

I do not envy vendors at fairs. Their jobs are fast paced, hot, and normally involve people wanting their food now and possibly not being very nice about waiting. It is important though to mention their role in food safety. Making sure they understand food preparation safety, licensing, and public relations make for a well-rounded experience. For the vendor, the CDC has also produced a small but important list of things to remember:

  • Make sure you apply for and show your license to sell food.
  • Review and understand food safety practices.
  • Try to limit off-site preparation.

While the burden falls on the fair-goer to make sure what they are eating is safe, it is ultimately the responsibility of the vendor to make sure food safety is 100%.

It boggles the mind to think of someone attending a fair for anything other than food but it does happen. Crazy right! I too like to peruse the wares – while I feast. If your goal is to steer clear of the food, there are alternatives. There is nothing wrong with bringing healthier meals or snacks with you. There are just a few things to keep in mind. Just because you’re bringing food to the event does not exclude you from making sure what you bring is safe to eat.

Remember: this time of year is usually warmer so preparing and storing your own food is the important part. What you bring is completely your call. Here are a few simple and easy rules to consider.

  • Never let food sit out for more than two hours. This will ensure nothing sours. Also, keep perishable food cooler by using ice or ice packs.
  • Find a hand-washing station and eat close to it if possible. Being safe means washing your hands. Whether it’s playing a game, petting an animal, or handling merchandise; always wash your hands before eating.

I will take that a step farther and add: wash your hands after attending a fair even if you do not eat. Married to washing your hands is bringing and using hand sanitizer – which must have (at the very least) 60% or more alcohol content.

Who would have thought that a day of fun could take so much precaution? We don’t skimp on the sunscreen, or make sure we wear the best walking shoes we have to the fair. Why would keeping what we eat safe be any different?

I have a plan. In my state there are many fairs to attend each weekend. I try to get to as many as possible and try new things each time. Yes, I also enjoy looking at the animals and what other types of vendors bring; but if I have to be honest I love the food. And it is my responsibility to be as safe as I can.

Make sure you have a plan to be safe this fair season.

By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Author (Non-Lawyer)

August 23, 2018
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Raise a German Beer to National Bratwurst Day

National Bratwurst Day!

I live for food holidays!  I’m not just talking about Thanksgiving.  Not that you needed an excuse to celebrate doughnuts or tacos, but why shouldn’t we?  As August 16th this year marks this year’s National Bratwurst Day, we take a moment to acknowledge this delicious food.

How do you honor such a holiday?  You eat, of course.  And perhaps throw in a German beer for good measure.  As for me, I enjoy a good Wurst Fest at my local German Beirgarten.  While rising in popularity, at least in my hometown, brats have been around for a long time.  In fact, a famous quote explains, “There’s no dispute that can’t be solved over a beet, a brat, and an adversary with a weaker argument than you.”

What is the Difference Between Sausage and Bratwurst?

Bratwurst is not like other sausages or the common frankfurter (hot dog).  Not even close.  Bratwurst can even be distinguished from the typical sausage.  While often made from pork, bratwurst can be made from any meat.  Anything from pork blends to exotics depending on the sway of your taste buds.

Let’s start with sausage.  Sausage is made from ground or minced beef, pork, veal, chicken, or any other kind of meat you can think of.  It is mixed with fat, salt, herbs, and spices.  Sausage can also come in dried, smoked, or fresh forms.

Hot Diggity Dog

What about the hot dog?  Well, technically the hot dog is a type of sausage as it is made with meat trimmings and mixed with spices.  While discerning tastes can easily tell the difference, the bigger difference lies in the type of casing used.  Hot dogs use a thinner casing that those used for sausage and bratwurst.  Hot dogs are packaged after they are steamed, so they are sold fully cooked.

It All Began in Germany

Bratwurst originates in Germany.  It’s often found as a fresh link and typically made with veal or pork that is seasoned with caraway, coriander, ginger, and nutmeg.  More traditional recipes are made with eggs and cream.  The types of ingredients vary from one German region to the next, creating plenty of varieties for us to choose from.  Over 40 according to some sources.  Franconia region bratwursts are heavy on the marjoram and filled with coarsely ground meat while those from Corburg are simpler with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and lemon zest.

Bratwurst were created so that no meat went to waste.  Whatever trimmings were left from unspoiled meat made their way into the cased delight.  In fact, food manufacturers would often punish someone for not using the trimmings to make brats.  This created more food for people, but also introduced a tasty pastime.

The Birth of Bratwurst

The origins of bratwurst date back to around 1313.  Unlike in the United States, in Germany bratwurst are considered a snack more than a main dish.  This German snack food can be found served at pubs alongside potato salad or sauerkraut and possibly a rye bread or pretzel.

Bratwurst was the center of one of the first documented food purity laws in Germany.  Prior to that there was little government involvement in food safety.  In 1432 it was proclaimed that production of bratwurst could not use rancid pork, meat other than pork, or pork with parasites.

Safety First!

Consuming bratwurst can come with some potential risks.  Traditionally sold uncooked, appropriate measures must be taken to avoid foodborne illness.  First, pay attention to food labels, be sure to cook them appropriately, and store them safely.

Check Labels

For the sake of categorization, bratwurst is labeled with sausage.  According to the United States Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) any sausage NOT ready to eat must be labeled with safe handling instructions.  Words like “Uncooked,” “Ready to Cook,” “Cook before eating,” “Cook and Serve,” or “Needs to Be Cooked” should be prominently displayed.  Cooking directions must be included and the manufacturer should have previously validated that the cooking directions are sufficient to destroy any pathogens that could be present.  If perishable, as in the case of fresh bratwurst, a “Keep Refrigerated” should be on the label.

How to Cook Bratwurst

Bratwursts should reach an internal temperature of 160 ⁰F to ensure safe consumption.  Uncooked food should be segregated from cooked food to avoid cross contamination.  For pre-cooked bratwurst, it is as simple as heat and serve.

For best results, raw bratwursts should be poached or braised before grilling in either beer (traditionally) or some other flavorful liquid prior to making an appearance on the grill.  To avoid a busted brat, pierce the bratwurst with the tines of a fork to allow air and gasses to escape.  Follow the following recipe for the perfect bratwurst dish.

  1. Prep the grill to cook directly on the grill.
  2. Prepare a heavy saucepan with an ovenproof handle (alternatively wrap heavy duty foil around the handle). Add one can or bottle of bear to saucepan.  Set saucepan on preheated grill.
  3. Pierce each bratwurst in several places to allow an air vent. Carefully add bratwurst to heated beer.  Simmer on uncovered grill over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning once.
  4. Using tongs, transfer bratwurst to grill. Discard beer.
  5. Grill brats on a covered grill between 9 to 10 minutes until browned an cooked to 160 ⁰F, turning halfway through.
 Bratwurst Storage

Storing both uncooked and cooked bratwurst is very important.  Food storage is both the beginning and the end of ensuring food safety.  Pay careful attention to packages.  A “use-by” date is the last recommended date the product will have peak quality.  This is determined by the product manufacturer.  If no date is mentioned or the product includes a “sell-by” date, follow instructions found on the storage chart below.  If you are not able to use the sausage or bratwurst before the recommended time, it can be frozen and kept safe indefinitely.

Storage Chart Courtesy of FSIS

Types of Sausage Refrigerator  Unopened Refrigerator  After Opening Freezer
Fresh, uncooked 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 months
Fresh, after cooked by consumer N/A 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Hard/Dry sausage Whole, 6 weeks in pantry, indefinitely in refrigerator 3 weeks 1 to 2 months
Hot Dogs and cooked sausage 2 weeks 7 days 1 to 2 months
Luncheon meats 2 weeks 3 to 5 days 1 to 2 months
Summer Sausage (semi-dry) 3 months 3 weeks 1 to 2 months
Celebrate!

However you choose to celebrate, be sure to do so safely.  Whether at your backyard barbeque with a few friends or at a local Wurst Fest with some fun drunken strangers, enjoy a taste of history!  Celebrate National Bratwurst Day! Prost!

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

August 16, 2018
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Preparing for a Consult with a Lawyer

Most people are intimidated and nervous when they meet with a lawyer for the first time. And this is completely normal. Most people are not involved in serious car accidents or severe food poisoning claims on a routine basis. Regardless of how approachable an attorney is, a consult with an attorney is not generally because of a joyous occasion. After all, it is rare that individuals wander into a law firm for happy, life-affirming reasons. Most often, individuals are either struggling with a hardship or need advice on a complex and technical legal matter, like the issue of getting injured in a car accident or because they ate contaminated food.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help ease the potentially anxiety-inducing prospect of consulting with a lawyer. The first and perhaps most important thing you can do if you are seeking a consultation with a firm is reassure yourself that the lawyers are eager to advocate on your behalf to the best of their ability. Legal professionals take personal injury claims seriously because we know firsthand how life-changing accidents can be. We want to make this process as easy for you as possible. Once you have taken a few well-deserved deep breaths, here are a few other things you can do to prepare for your initial consultation.

  1. Report Your Injury or Accident

This is a given when it comes to car or work-related accidents. Reporting is a typical step to the process. The cops may be called or the Human Resources Director files a report to create the paper trail. However, when it comes to foodborne illnesses, many people do not know that they can report their food poisoning. It is simple:

First, you can seek medical attention from your physician to obtain necessary testing for a diagnosis. This is helpful to find out what bacteria or virus made you sick and to obtain the medical care you need to get better. It is through a simple stool test that you can find out if your illness was caused by Salmonella, Campylobacter, Vibrio, or a myriad of other potential foodborne pathogens.

Second, you can encourage your physician to report your illness to your local health agency. Many pathogens, like E. coli, are required to be reported to the local and state health department. However, others may not be. It is always a good idea to encourage reporting.

  1. Write Down the Details About Your Claim, In Your Own Words

After you have done your reporting, one of the most beneficial things you can do when preparing for a consultation is to write down the details of your accident and its aftermath in your own words. Speaking with a stranger about such a sensitive situation can be unnerving. As a result, it can be very helpful to have notes written out describing what happened or what you ate, how the accident has affected you, what your doctors told you, and any other matters you feel are worth mentioning. That way, you can reference it if you need to during the consultation, and you won’t be concerned that you may forget to convey important information. Some clients keep a diary to try to remember any details that may have been forgotten.

It is also generally helpful to write down any questions you have as you think of them. It may seem that because your questions are pressing and important that you will not forget what they are during the consultation. But the stress of the moment combined with the wandering nature of conversation tends to make even the most focused of us forgetful at times. Writing down your questions will provide you with a valuable reference that you don’t need to even glance at unless you need to. Also, you may find your questions have questions. And that is ok!

  1. Gather Up Your Documents

 As you are likely aware, legal cases largely depend on evidence. As a result, it is helpful if you gather any relevant documentation before your consultation. Police reports, medical bills, medical records, health department questionnaires, receipts, photographs, and any other documents that may support your claim should accompany you to our office. And if you feel that any electronic statements, emails or text messages are relevant, please feel free to print them off and bring them with you as well. In some cases, sending these documents to your attorney via secured email may be alright, too. It is important to save copies of anything you have related to your claim, including any cell phones or other items that can be used as evidence later.

We Are Here for You. You Don’t Have to Do This Alone.

If you have yet to schedule a personal injury or a foodborne illness consultation with a law firm, please consider doing so today. A personal injury attorney in Washington, D.C., recommends calling a lawyer who will be experienced in the area of personal injury law for your vehicle, work, or other related accident. A food poisoning lawyer agrees that calling a law firm will help ensure that your rights are preserved. We are passionate about what we do. We love to help people. Also, meeting with lawyers does not obligate you to take any specific course of action. Scheduling a consultation will simply allow you to make an informed decision about your legal options related to your situation.

The law is complicated and lawyers know what to do to ensure your claim is given respect and weight. Also, insurance companies will often refuse to settle in good faith or give your case the attention it deserves. That is where lawyers come in. Lawyers will use their experience and expertise to ensure your case has all of its evidence gathered and that it is taken seriously. Lawyers will work with the insurance companies to ensure your claim gets attention. Because, it is not ok that you were hurt.

Thanks to our friends from Cohen & Cohen, P.C., for their contribution and collaboration.

August 14, 2018
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Cannabis Drinks Among Recalled Products in Cali

California is grappling with the challenges of bringing one of the largest legal marijuana markets in the world out of the shadows. The recreational marijuana market, which estimates suggest will generate some $4 billion dollars of sales in the future, is experiencing some growing pains as it comes online.

Those growing pains have included a spate of recalls for cannabis products this summer. Venice Cookie Company voluntarily recalled several of their marijuana-infused beverages this August after receiving a failing grade from an inspection by San Diego-based PharmLabs. PharmLabs found that ethyl-alcohol based flavoring used in several of Venice Cookie Company’s drinks raised their alcohol content past limits set by state regulators. Venice Cookie Company’s Kenny Morrison said that the California Bureau of Cannabis Control was “very understanding” once they understood that the recall was due to flavoring as opposed to contamination.  Noting that the recall had resulted in only minimal loss to the company, he chalked it up to “a little bit of turbulence” as the industry matures.

Venice Cookie Company decided to recall the drinks out of an abundance of caution. The products are popular, and they’re carried by retailers of marijuana products across the state. On August 13th, Venice Cookie Company reached out to some 100 retailers who carry the product to notify them of the recall. They will not face any punitive action by state retailers.

It’s the largest of three recalls that we’ve seen so far this year. On January 1st, California rolled out the first legal storefronts for purchasing marijuana products, and with it an inspection regimen to ensure that the state’s various marijuana businesses were operating in compliance with state regulations.

The state’s inspection regimen was redoubled on July 1st of this year, and we started to see the first recalls from businesses as California regulators identified different violations and irregularities. The first came down in late July; vape manufacturer The Bloom Brand and distributor Greenfield Organix 4th street issued a voluntary recall for four of their products sold during the first three weeks of July. Testing of that batch revealed the presence of a fungicide called myclobutanil that violated the standards imposed by California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. Myclobutanil breaks down into several toxic and corrosive chemicals when it’s heated, making it unsuitable for the agricultural production of marijuana and leading to bans across the west coast, Colorado, and Canada.

The second voluntary recall of a marijuana product in California followed shortly thereafter. Lowell Herb Co., a Los Angeles company that produced pre-rolled joints of cannabis, recalled a batch of their products was declared unfit for sale. The pre-rolls had passed initial rounds of testing by SC Labs in Santa Cruz and BelCosta Labs in Long Beach. A subsequent test by Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco initially agreed with that conclusion, and the products were shipped to retailers. Anresco subsequently reversed their decision, however, leading Lowell Herb to issue a voluntary recall and have the batch destroyed out of an abundance of caution.

Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, companies don’t have to comply with regulation and inspection by the Food and Drug Industry. They do have to comply with California law, however, and whatever additional regulations that counties or municipalities might have imposed.

The lack of federal regulations puts more pressure on state and local governments to make sure that cannabis businesses are putting out products that are safe for consumption. California’s Department of Public Health previously created a sub-branch of the former Division of Food and Drug Safety to deal entirely with cannabis – the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch. This agency, launched a year before marijuana products were legalized for recreational use by Proposition 64, is dedicated to statewide inspections at the different levels of the cannabis industry to make sure that cannabis products conform with public health regulations.

California’s a big state, with 40 million people, and the MCSB isn’t the only statewide agency that keeps an eye on marijuana. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has its own rules governing cannabis growing the production of edible products; they dictate what pesticides can and can’t be used for cannabis grows, and set limits on how much and when to apply the pesticides that are permitted for use.

Also in play is California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. Set up after California’s voters legalized the use and sale of recreational cannabis through Proposition 64 in 2016, the CBCC oversees licensing and regulation for businesses all along the cannabis supply chain.

There’s a bevy of rules governing cannabis products in California. They cover infusions of nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol; permissible shapes for edible cannabis products; the use of foods that are perishable or requiring refrigeration with edible cannabis; acceptable levels of THC and CDB; how to properly package and label cannabis, how it should be tested, and how potential cannabis entrepreneurs can go about getting the licenses necessary to do business.

To track the movement of cannabis products statewide, California employs the California Cannabis Trace and Track system. It follows the movement of different commercial cannabis products through the supply chain. The system is used to register and keep track of different licenses for cannabis businesses. It also provides the infrastructure to record sales and transfers of cannabis products between those businesses.

With these tools and agencies, state regulators hope to track down cannabis products that are out of compliance with California’s numerous cannabis regulations. This is no easy task. There’s a number of different pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that are dangerous when smoked or infused into concentrates or edible products. Regulators need to keep to appropriate levels of THC and CBD in their products; in the case of edibles, they need to provide best-by dates and keep to them.

Many of the functions assumed by state regulators in this case would otherwise be picked up by the federal government. The feds, however, regard marijuana as a schedule 1 drug with no legitimate medical or recreational use. That leaves states with legal marijuana markets to pick up the slack of federal regulators.

 

By:  Sean McNulty, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

August 13, 2018
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Do Astronauts Get Food Poisoning?

As a child I was obsessed with outer space and astronauts. I remember a disc program (yes, I am THAT old) for our old IBM computer that literally held the secrets to everything astronaut and space related. I remember quoting the disc and craving to know more.

Recently in an online forum, a question was posed asking if astronauts get food poisoning. This made my mind wander to places where it really shouldn’t have because let’s face it– food poisoning is pretty gross. Could you imagine having food poisoning when your feet are not even on the Earth’s soil?

I went right to the NASA website to find out information on this and, while food poisoning itself was not mentioned, I found a lot of information on what astronauts eat and the negative effects on the body from being in space.

Astronauts eat a very basic diet; think baby food. Their foods are often in tubes like toothpaste. This type of outer space diet goes back to John Glenn who ate applesauce from an aluminum tube in 1962 and squeezed the tube into his mouth. As the years progressed, the diets of astronauts did as well and freeze dried diets became more of a staple. Things have truly changed from the John Glenn days because now astronauts have the ability to have a kitchen — that includes an oven and hot water. They also have the ability to use condiments and liquid salt and pepper to prevent the grains from floating away into space.

Time spent in space can cause digestive issues due to the loss of “good bacteria” in the stomach which some people refer to now as gut health, and they are now using more and more probiotics to help keep the delicate balance.

Can Freeze Dried Foods Cause Food Poisoning?

Freeze drying is not only just popular in space, but allows people who like to take long hikes or spend days outdoors to have readily available foods. Go Ask Alice from Columbia University covered this topic, and I learned a lot.

  • Freeze dried foods remove 98% of the liquid in fruits and veggies.
  • The process of freeze drying prevents food from spoiling while allowing the foods to maintain their flavor and texture. You also maintain the nutritional value from this process compared to others.
  • Some freeze dried foods can last YEARS.
  • Freeze drying involves chemicals and the foods that astronauts eat are freeze dried using FDA approved chemicals. Beware, as a citizen if you are purchasing freeze dried foods to know what is inside your packages.While regulated, be aware that, if you are sensitive to sulfites, you may have some adverse effects.
  • Did you know that freeze dried foods can contain more calories than before this process?  If one cup of a particular fresh fruit is 100 calories, when you freeze dry that same amount of fruit it will shrink in size. So, one cup of freeze-dried fruit will contain more pieces of fruit than one cup of fresh fruit. This translates to more calories.

The moral of this story is this: bacteria loves water, but they also love time and obviously it loves food. If water is added to freeze dried foods and is left to kinda simmer in its own element then bacteria can begin to build. The only time that bacteria does not like to grow is if the freeze dried meal is highly acidic, such as a tomato soup.

The freeze drying process has been around since World War 2 and because of the low moisture content of only 1-4% bacteria and enzymes can’t really survive. Many people compare freeze drying to the popular home canning method, but they are totally different. Freeze drying is not something that is done at home and home canning has resulted in botulism because of the amount of moisture and improper canning methods and such a high moisture content.

At the end of the day it seems like while gastrointestinal issues are pretty common in space because there is no gravity and things move around so differently in the stomach. Plus, there are issues with vertigo. Food poisoning seems like something that has not happened, and if it has then it has not been discussed.

Delving further into the topic of a sickened stomach while in space: should the astronaut happen to vomit they do have “barf bags” so to speak that have liners inside that allow the astronaut to be able to clean their face. They have zip style bags that prevent the already nasty mess from getting all over the space shuttle since this is the living quarters of the space crew and their home away from home can cost upwards of $100 billion dollars.

Treatment for many other space-related illnesses has come a very long way and telemedicine has been utilized for many things such as prescribing antibiotics which would be on the shuttle just in case. People here on Earth are using some of the same technologies when they are ill and instead of visiting a crowded doctor’s office they are hopping on camera enabled devices and speaking to doctors in real time. Pretty interesting to know we share a lot of the same life skills with astronauts and this makes me happy to know that in some ways I am living my childhood dream (or so I tell myself!)

There is plenty of room for medical advancement while astronauts are learning more and more in space every day, but thankfully food poisoning does not seem like it is a real concern at least for right now. As things progress maybe more information will be given to those of us who are addicted to all things science and love to know more about how things work on the space shuttle and in space. Perhaps one day we will learn of food poisoning on other planets.

Time will tell all, so keep your eyes posted here on MakeFoodSafe.com for more information about how our astronauts dine and how they handle the ideas of bacteria and other contaminants to their environments.

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

August 8, 2018
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Cyclosporiasis Outbreak in Tulsa County Oklahoma – What You Need To Know

The Tulsa Health Department along with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Acute Disease Service are all three investigating a recent outbreak of cyclosporiasis. Residents of Tulsa as well as many of the surrounding counties have been influenced by this infection, causing 24 laboratory-confirmed cases as of August 1st. But what is cyclosporiasis, how did it start, and what’s the real danger? Here is everything you should know!

What is Cyclosporiasis?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cyclosporiasis is “an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite.” The time between becoming infected with the parasite and the onset of illness is usually about seven days. The parasite, cyclospora, infects the small intestine and tends to cause extremely watery diarrhea with frequent and even explosive bowel movements.

Other common symptoms of this infection include a loss of appetite, stomach cramps and pains, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, weight loss, fever, and more–though some people infected with cyclospora don’t ever manifest any symptom. If left untreated, the illness can last anywhere from a few days to well over a month, and they have a strong tendency to go away and return one or more times. Tiredness is a very common symptom. According to the CDC, people living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic tend to have an increased risk for infection.

Cyclospora is spread when someone ingests something, either a food substance or water, that is previously contaminated with feces. The infection is unlikely to pass from one person to another because cyclospora needs time after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious to another individual.

Should you or someone you know begin experiencing the symptoms of an infection, medical attention needs to be sought out in order to properly manage the infection.

What’s Happening in Tulsa?

As of August 1st, 24 cases of cyclosporiasis were reported and confirmed. The onsets of symptoms occurred between June 24th and July 26 of this year, and epidemiologic investigations suggest that is likely still ongoing. Ages of those affected range from 27 to 67 years old, with the media being 43 years. 67% of the cases are female and 38% are of Hispanic ethnicity. 88% of the cases, however, are residents of Tulsa County, leaving three people who are residents of Wagoner, Creek, and Rogers counties, who all admitted to having shopped or dined in Tulsa-area establishments around the time of their infection.

Identifying the source of the outbreak remains to be part of the investigation. While a lot of evidence suggests a geographic cluster among residents in northeast Oklahoma, there remains to be a possibility that other cases in other areas of the state have yet to be identified–and international travel could also relate to the cause.  According to the CDC,

“Identifying the particular food item/ingredient that caused an outbreak of cyclosporiasis can be very challenging—for example, if fresh produce was served as a garnish or topping or if several types of produce were mixed together. CDC and other agencies are working to develop and validate molecular typing methods that could distinguish among different strains of the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis that causes cyclosporiasis. In the future, such tools could help link cases of cyclosporiasis to each other and to particular types of produce, which could help public health officials investigate and prevent cases and outbreaks of Cyclospora infection.”

Recommendations

According to authorities, recommendations for clinicians and laboratories include the following list:

  • Clinicians should consider cyclosporiasis in patients presenting with an acute diarrheal illness with persisting watery diarrhea.
  • Laboratory testing for suspected cyclosporiasis includes gastrointestinal polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or ova and parasite (O&P) fecal examination.
  • Notify the clinical diagnostic laboratory about suspicion of Cyclospora disease to determine what testing is available, instructions for specimen collection and submission, and whether Cyclospora must be specified on the test order.
  • If ordering a gastrointestinal PCR panel, clinicians need to assure the PCR panel includes a target for Cyclospora.
  • If microscopic examination is ordered, stool specimens are typically submitted in an O&P collection kit. Stool specimens should be obtained early in the course of illness; optimum time is 1-3 days after onset of illness, during the early morning hours when the parasite(s) should be present in the greatest numbers. Many parasites are shed intermittently during the course of an infection; therefore, for initial detection,
  • 3 separate specimens should be collected on separate days, at a minimum of 24 hours apart – one every other day (over 5 days) is optimal but collection should not exceed 10 days.

It is important to note that some infected persons are asymptomatic (meaning they have no symptoms), particularly in settings where cyclosporiasis is endemic. This is why, according to the CDC, “travelers to cyclosporiasis-endemic areas should be told that food and water precautions for Cyclospora are similar to those for other intestinal pathogens, except that Cyclospora is unlikely to be killed by routine chemical disinfection or sanitizing methods.”

The Health Department notice further stated:

“We are conducting an investigation to gather as much information as we can,” said Luisa Krug, epidemiology supervisor. “Cyclosporiasis is spread by people ingesting something—such as food or water—that was contaminated with feces, so the best way to protect yourself is to use standard food safety practices like frequent handwashing to prevent the spread of germs, wash items like cutting boards and utensils with soap and hot water, and wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.”

Conclusion

Avoiding food or water that might be contaminated with feces is a key element in preventing the spread of a cyclospora infection. Washing hands before preparing food or eating is also beneficial, as is properly cleaning all cooking materials, and keeping separation between raw meats, poultry, and vegetables and raw fruits and vegetables. Since the parasite, cyclospora, is usually spread through food, properly cleaning and cooking any foods that are likely to be contaminated is the best way to ensure you avoid an infection.

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

August 1, 2018
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