Monday, September 24th, 2012
This post is written by Dana Points, editor in chief of Parents.
Q: Who is responsible for our kids’ safety?
A: We all are!
A recent trip to “Safe Kids Day” in Washington, D.C., opened my eyes to how persistent some children’s safety problems are. As the editor in chief of Parents and a board member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit devoted to preventing unintentional injury, I thought I knew a thing or three about children’s safety, but I learned a few new things visiting the exhibits and talking to the educators at this Capitol-Hill event designed to raise awareness among members of Congress and their staff:
1. More child pedestrians are injured in September than in any other month–and injuries to older kids are on the rise, probably because they are distracted by their mobile devices.
2. If your smoke alarm is wired into your electrical system or home alarm system, you may not be fretting about changing the batteries, but you should replace the device every 10 years (which means our family is overdue!)
3. Despite warnings to parents, kids continue to swallow button batteries, which can cause devastating internal injury. A bill introduced earlier this summer would call on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make battery compartments more child-resistant, among other things.
Fortunately, we have some friends watching out for us in D.C.–but they can’t work magic overnight. Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky stopped by Safe Kids Day to check out the safe sleep display. An infant and toddler safety act she introduced back in 2001 (!) was part of an effort that resulted in the ban on drop-side cribs that took effect last year. And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a mother of two young boys, has her own initiatives under way, with a focus on safe food, safe water, and safe toys. “I look at issues in a children-first way,” she says. But she can’t be the only one and that’s where we come in. “Women need to get off the sidelines and understand their voice needs to be heard,” Gillibrand told me. After a half-hour of wide-ranging discussion of children’s safety with Safe Kids President and CEO Kate Carr and me, her parting words were a warning: “If most women realized their legislators could care less about the issues we have discussed today they’d be amazed.” That’s why it’s up to all of us to take action on a personal level.
For more on what you can do at home and in your community to ensure a safer world for our kids, visit Safe Kids Worldwide.
Categories: GoodyBlog, Must Read | Tags: consumer product safety commission, Dana Points, fire safety, food safety, Injuries, injury prevention, kids safety, Safe Kids Day, Safe Kids USA, sleep safety, toy safety, water safety
Friday, September 16th, 2011
The highly publicized clash between Dr Oz and the FDA regarding acceptable levels of arsenic in apple juice has left many wondering, ‘Well, what exactly is safe?’. We called upon two health experts, Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, and author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips, and Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA, and director of University Nutrition at Washington University, to help clear up some of the confusion.
What do you make of the controversy between Dr. Oz and the FDA?
Connie Diekman: As a registered dietitian I appreciate Dr Oz’s passion for and interest in healthful eating but hate to see such controversy causing confusion and angst for parents. Parents are working hard to provide the right food choices and activity for their children and they need role models who provide information that is based on the science of nutrition in a simple to implement manner.
Can you explain the difference between “good” and “bad” arsenic in food?
CD: There are two types of arsenic – organic and inorganic. The inorganic form is the one that is harmful, and while arsenic exists in both forms in foods, the inorganic arsenic is the main form found in drinking water. This higher concentration in drinking water is the reason that the EPA, and subsequently the FDA, established limits of safety for drinking water.
Organic arsenic is found in a variety of foods, including fish, seafood, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, and rice. Organic compounds are easily digestible and do not accumulate in the body as inorganic compounds can, thus intake of organic arsenic, especially at the low levels it exists in foods, is not a concern.
What are the acceptable FDA levels of arsenic in food?
CD: There is no scientific evidence available to allow FDA to set limits for food. The very small amounts in food, combined with the majority being organic, makes it difficult to conduct studies that consistently show a level of risk or safety.
Why would the FDA have higher acceptable levels of arsenic in apple juice as compared to drinking water?
Elisa Zied: The FDA says the levels vary because humans drink and consume a lot more water than they drink other beverages, including apple juice. Because water is more commonly consumed and the quantities consumed are so much higher than they are for juice or other beverages, it’s more important to limit potentially harmful chemicals in it to minimize their total exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
CD: The EPA set the level for water based on the average consumption amounts of water, which are significantly higher than those of juice. In addition, since the arsenic in water is predominately inorganic it is easy to measure amounts.
What parents should do with regard to giving their kids apple juice?
EZ: Apple juice–like all juice and other calorie-containing beverages–should be limited in the diet. The AAP recommends 4 to 6 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice to kids ages 1 to 6 ; older kids should limit it to no more than 8-12 ounces if they consume it.
It’s wise to encourage fresh fruit as main source of daily fruit intake because its higher in fiber and more filling. But 100 percent fruit juice can fit into a healthful diet; to lower the amount consumed you can combine with water or seltzer. Like with all food or beverages, it’s wise to mix up what kids consume from each of the different key food groups. For example, one day have an apple and some strawberries, the next day a banana and some apple juice or orange juice, the next day grapes and some honeydew, the next day some dried fruit and watermelon. Consuming different foods and beverages within the same category mixes up the nutrients you get and can potentially minimize risks of exposure to low levels of contaminants you may find in different foods and beverages.
CD: Apple juice can be a part of a healthful eating plan but as with all fruit juices it should not be a child’s main fruit source. Nutritional and health benefits of whole fruits are better than those of juice, so encouraging kids to enjoy fruit should be the first step.
Readers, what do you think? Do you trust that the FDA has your child’s safety covered or, given Dr. Oz’s concerns, are you now hesitant to give your child apple juice?
Categories: Food, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Must Read, News | Tags: apple juice, Dr. Oz, FDA, food safety, health, juice, Nutrition
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Over the last few weeks, Europe has seen a particularly nasty outbreak of E.Coli, a common bacteria that in some strains can cause serious food poisoning. Some of the people affected were children, and their plight got us thinking about how to keep our food safe. Here are five tips for food poisoning prevention:
1. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat is cooked properly. Ground beef and pork should be cooked until it’s 160 degrees, while fish, steaks and roasts should be cooked to 145. Cook chicken and turkey until it’s 165 degrees.
2. If you’re served undercooked meat in a restaurant, send it back and ask for a new plate. If you’re unsure that any food you’ve bought or cooked is prepared, stored, or cooked safely, don’t taste it to make sure—just throw it out.
3. Wash all produce thoroughly before eating, even if you plan to peel it. And that’s not the only thing you need to wash! Whenever you’ve handled raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, wash your hands, the knife you used, and your cutting board, as well as any other surfaces the food has touched. Use warm, soapy water—not dish soap. Plastic cutting boards are easier to wash than wooden ones.
4. Don’t thaw your food at room temperature. Instead, thaw it in the fridge (or use your microwave’s “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting) and eat it as soon as you take it out. Your fridge should be at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. If you’ve frozen something and then thawed it, don’t freeze it again. Put perishable foods in the fridge or freezer within two hours of buying them.
5. Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. This doesn’t just apply to your cooking surface, but to your fridge and grocery cart, too. This prevents ready-to-eat foods from getting contaminated.
Tips adapted from MayoClinic.com