Tag Archives: food safety

Velveeta Shells and Cheese Cups Recall Caused by Wire Bristle

My kids are huge lovers of macaroni and cheese. I’ve tried to get them hooked on homemade, healthier versions, but they still beg for the boxed, orange dust variety. Even more than the regular cups, though, they love the microwaveable single serve cups, and I will buy them once in a while. They aren’t a great source of nutrition; in fact, I don’t equate them with a healthy choice at all, but I’d rather they eat a cup of pasta and cheese than a bag of chips. Today’s recall might be enough to change my mind, however.

Alaska state officials have announced the recall of three varieties of Velveeta Shells & Cheese microwaveable cups due to the fact that they might contain small bits of wire bristle.

Kind of gives the idea of “iron-fortified” a new meaning, doesn’t it?

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Help Your Child go Back to School Safely with a Peanut Allergy

My son has a severe, life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. We discovered this food allergy when he was two years old and we just could not figure out why he had severe asthma, requiring multiple emergency room visits, steroids and the like. He also randomly developed enormous hives all over his body and had difficulty breathing when the hives occurred. We took him to an allergist who tested him with both a skin test and a blood test, and we learned of the severity and breadth of the allergies.

Food allergies are different from food intolerances. A food intolerance can cause stomach upset, gastric distress, and possibly digestive issues in the form of diarrhea and constipation. Many people claim that they have a food allergy when a food does not agree with them, and this diminishes the severity for those with a true, life threatening allergy. A food allergy is defined as an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system, and is most often triggered by the so called “Big 8”.  These eight foods account for 90% of all food reactions and are milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, shellfish, sesame, wheat and soy.

You may hear of a person outgrowing their food allergies, but peanut and shellfish most often remain as lifelong allergies. A food allergy affects the breathing and heart and can, if not stopped in time, lead to death. People who have been diagnosed with a food allergy are often prescribed an epi-pen, an auto-injector of epinephrine that must be injected into the upper thigh to stop the reaction.

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Bisin: A New Natural Food Preservative Discovery

If you haven’t yet heard of Bisin there is a good chance that you probably will within the next couple of years. Bisin is the latest craze in the world of food-borne illness prevention. It is the first natural preservative found to kill gram-negative bacteria, and it may just be worth all the hype, especially in light of all the recent E.coli outbreaks that have occurred this summer.

Bisin can supposedly prevent harmful bacteria such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella from growing on a wide variety of foods. These types of food include meats, processed cheeses, egg and dairy products, canned foods, seafood, salad dressing, fermented beverages, and many other foods. By using Bisin, these foods may have extended shelf-lives and ultimately reduce food waste. This is a good thing – so is the fact that bisin appears to be allergen free, non-toxic, and doesn’t appear to be one of those substances that germs build up resistance to.

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Lazy Larry Brownies Remind of the Danger of Natural Additives in Food

By Jill Buonomo

Most health-conscious consumers routinely avoid additive-laden foods. But are they missing hidden dangers by accepting “natural” additives at face value?

The Food and Drug Administration might say so. Earlier this week, the FDA issued a strong warning to HBB LLC, the manufacturers of “Lazy Larry” brownies, a product laced with melatonin and marketed through convenience stores and the company’s website. The FDA says it can seize the brownies if the company continues to manufacture and sell them.

Melatonin is a hormone that, while “natural,” affects the sleep-wake cycle and can make consumers sleepy. According to the FDA the addition of melatonin makes the brownies unsafe. Included on the packaging is a warning against driving or operating heavy machinery after consumption.

Although melatonin is fairly unregulated as an over-the-counter supplement, the FDA suggests that consumers, especially children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with autoimmune diseases should consult their doctor before eating melatonin-laced foods. Some medical research suggests that use of melatonin could result in reproductive, cardiovascular, ocular and neurological issues.

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Bag School Lunches Blamed for Disease-Causing Bacteria

With healthier school lunch guidelines on the way, some parents might prefer to let their child buy lunch, especially with the recent findings that “sack” lunches can pose serious health threats for children.

According to ScienceNews.org, a recent study from the University of Texas, Austin found that bag lunches are likely to harbor bacteria that causes food borne illness. Researchers tested the temperature of 235 packed bag lunches with an electronic temperature gun to determine the safety of the food inside.

According to Science News, roughly 40 percent of lunches containing perishable foods arrived without ice packs and more than 90 percent of meals were packaged in thermally insulated plastic containers. Of the 618 perishable foods packed in lunch bags with a single ice pack, only 14 food items were deemed to be at an acceptable temperature, according to the report.

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Tainted Ground Turkey Could be Largest Meat Recall in U.S. History

There have been at least two cases of salmonella food poisoning caused by tainted ground turkey in the U.S. so far this summer. Strangely enough, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew where these tainted meats were coming from two weeks ago, but they did not issue a recall on the poisonous food because they “simply did not have enough information,” according to Fox News.

“There were two cases in the same state, and in two days we were able to confirm that the two cases were related to the [Cargill meat plant in Springdale, Arkansas],” said Dr. David Goldman, an assistant administrator from the USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service.

That sounds like enough information to issue a recall to me, but Goldman claims that this really isn’t enough to warrant one.

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Starbucks’ Ready-To-Eat Chicken Products Recalled

UPDATE [7/27/11]: This recall has been expanded to include Starbucks salami and cheese Bistro Box and the chipotle chicken wrap. There has also been a separate recall of Pilgrim’s Pride chicken nuggets.

Those that frequent Starbucks coffee shops in Georgia and Alabama will want to be on the lookout for chicken products that have been recalled recently. Flying Food Group is the company that produces the Starbucks Chipotle Chicken Wrap Bistro Box and the Starbucks Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box. They have recently recalled both of these products due to Listeria monocytogene contamination.

Roughly 204 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken wraps and plates are being recalled in total. The products that are recalled have “Enjoy by 071511” on the bottom left corner of the package. They also have an establishment number of P-34373 within the USDA mark of inspection.

This problem was discovered through microbiological testing conducted by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service or FSIS. There were no reports of illness with these products, but the FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks, which is how the contamination was found.

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New Legislation Could Ban Food and Plastic Chemicals From Shelves

New legislation could alter the familiar faces of the grocery store aisles, such as Chester the Cheetah or the Jolly Green Giant, in the very near future.

According to CNN.com, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts will introduce a bill later this month that would give the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences power to ban up to 10 harmful chemicals from common household and food products.

Once the NIEHS has named a chemical as “high concern,” its use is illegal after 24 months. Bisphenol A, often used in plastics and known as an endocrine disruptor, is one of the chemicals that could be on the banned list. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is also used in the lining of many canned goods, which are a staple of pantry cabinets throughout the US.

Harmful chemicals such as BPA and DES, a chemical found in cattle feed and breast cancer treatment medicine, can change how hormones operate and lead to birth defects such as neurological disorders or autism, according to the article.

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How to Safely Handle and Grill Chicken

Whether you’re a grill aficionado or you only pull out your miniature Weber for special occasions, it’s important to eat plenty of protein as part of a balanced diet.  While most nutrition experts recommend eating lean meats, tofu, beans and quinoa, we often neglect those during the summertime in favor of grilled steaks, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Chicken is an easy alternative to red meat, which often has a lot of artery-clogging saturated fat. Chicken is versatile, grill-friendly and inexpensive, but when not handled or cooked properly, poultry can be a source of dangerous food borne illness.

Here are some important poultry-handling principles to follow this summer to ensure that all of your meals are safe and delicious.

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3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Family from E. Coli Contamination

A deadly E.coli outbreak that has afflicted Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe has sickened nearly 2,000 people to date. According to the New York Times, the deadly outbreak has been traced to tainted domestic sprouts and forced the closure of several farms in the Northern part of the country.

While this news might send some people running to empty their produce bins and avoid green vegetables, some public health experts are skeptical of these claims.

“We would want either epidemiological evidence or confirmed laboratory evidence,” Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of food-borne diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told the New York Times.

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