Posts Tagged ‘ food safety ’

Salmonella Outbreak in Chicken Sickens Hundreds

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Nearly 300 people in 18 states have been sickened by a salmonella bacteria that has been traced back to contaminated chicken packaged by Foster Farms, according to an alert released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Salmonella poisoning is especially dangerous for people with compromised immune systems and young infants.  More from The Boston Globe:

While some USDA employees have been furloughed due to the partial government shutdown, food safety inspectors at beef and poultry plants are still conducting routine inspections and investigating illness outbreaks.

Consumers can identify raw Foster Farm chicken products associated with the outbreak by looking for the following numbers on the package: P6137, P6137A, and P7632.

The products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington State, the USDA said, but no recall has been issued because the food safety service has been “unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period.”

Instead, consumers should remember to handle all raw meat and poultry in a safe manner, cooking chicken thoroughly until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F. They should also avoid cross contamination of raw chicken juices with other foods like fresh produce that won’t be cooked before consuming; for example, they should use separate cutting boards for preparing these foods.

Another tip recommended by food safety scientists: Don’t wash raw poultry before preparing it since that can foster the spread of bacteria.

“If you wash it, you’re more likely to spray bacteria all over the kitchen and yourself,” said Drexel University food safety researcher Dr. Jennifer Quinlan in a new video campaign she launched to get people to stop rinsing raw chicken.

Image: Raw chicken, via Shutterstock

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Chicken Nuggets Contents Examined, Found Wanting

Monday, October 7th, 2013

In theory, chicken nuggets should contain…chicken.  But everyone who has ever eaten or fed their children the popular foods has probably wondered at some point whether that’s what they’re eating.  Researchers at the University of Mississippi took a scientific look at samples from several fast-food restaurants, and found, alarmingly, that only 50 percent of the average nugget’s contents is actual muscle tissue, what most people would think of as “chicken meat.”  More from Reuters:

The nuggets came from two national fast food chains in Jackson. The three researchers selected one nugget from each box, preserved, dissected and stained the nuggets, then looked at them under a microscope.

The first nugget was about half muscle, with the rest a mix of fat, blood vessels and nerves. Close inspection revealed cells that line the skin and internal organs of the bird, the authors write in the American Journal of Medicine.

The second nugget was only 40 percent muscle, and the remainder was fat, cartilage and pieces of bone.

“We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it,” lead author Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said.

“What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken,” deShazo told Reuters Health.

“It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them.”

The nuggets he examined would be okay to eat occasionally, but he worries that since they are cheap, convenient and taste good, kids eat them often. His own grandchildren “beg” for chicken nuggets all the time, and he compromises by making them at home by pan-frying chicken breasts with a small amount of oil, deShazo said.

Image: Chicken nuggets, via Shutterstock

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Chobani Yogurts Remain in Some School Lunches

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Chobani yogurts remain on the menus at schools in 4 states that are launching a healthy eating pilot program, even after discovery of possible mold contamination prompted a nationwide recall of some of the Greek yogurt company’s products.  More from NBC News:

Some 230 New York school districts have ordered more than 3,300 cases of Chobani products, while Idaho schools have requested more than 3,400 cases, school officials said.

Those states, along with Arizona and Tennessee, are part of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot project to test the use of Greek-style yogurt as a healthy, high-protein addition to the National School Lunch Program.

The yogurt set for schools isn’t affected by the Sept. 5 Chobani recall, state and federal officials said. It won’t arrive for another couple of weeks and it’s being made in the firm’s New York plant, not the Twin Falls, Idaho, site where company officials detected mold after receiving consumer reports of bubbling, bulging cartons of yogurt. At least 223 complaints of illness tied to the recalled yogurt have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration, though they haven’t been confirmed.

“USDA is aware of the situation and will work with the company to ensure products delivered to schools are healthy and safe,” said agency spokeswoman Brooke Hardison.

Image: Elementary school cafeteria, via Shutterstock

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Chobani Pulls Some Greek Yogurt Because of Mold Concern

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Chobani, the makers of a popular brand of Greek yogurt, has voluntarily pulled a number of its products from shelves amid reports that the yogurt cups are “swelling” and “bloating,” possibly due to an overgrowth of a kind of mold that grows in dairy products.  The company has not issued a formal recall, and it says the issue only affects 5 percent of its total inventory nationwide. The affected containers are marked with the code 16-012 and expiration dates Sept. 11-Oct. 7.   More from the Christian Science Monitor:

Chobani, which is based in New Berlin, N.Y., did not say how many of its cups or what varieties were affected. The effort was voluntary, and it is not issuing a formal recall.

A representative for Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional supermarket operator, said Chobani issued a product withdrawal Friday. “It was not a food safety issue,” Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey said in an e-mail.

On Tuesday, Chobani was responding to people who were complaining about their yogurt cups on Twitter. One person described her cup as “unnervingly fizzy,” another said the cups were like “yogurt soup” and another said it tasted like “wine.”

Yet another person said the strawberry flavor they bought tasted “really old.”

Chobani, which says it uses only high-quality, natural ingredients, has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2005.

Greek yogurt in general has surged in popularity as well, with fans saying they prefer its thicker consistency and relatively higher protein content when compared with the sweeter yogurt varieties that have long been sold in American supermarkets.

Image: Empty yogurt container, via Shutterstock

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FDA Proposes New Arsenic Limit for Apple Juice

Monday, July 15th, 2013

The US Food & Drug Administration has announced it will limit the amount of inorganic arsenic allowed in apple juice drinks, proposing a limit that would be the same as is allowed in drinking water. The news comes after decades of debate, which flared in 2011 when Dr. Mehmet Oz released a widely publicized study finding higher-than-allowed amounts of total arsenic in popular brands of apple juice, including Gerber.

Oz’s research did not distinguish between “organic” and “inorganic” arsenic, which scientists liken to cholesterol, which has “good” and “bad” types that should be measured separately.  At the time, Oz argued for the inorganic arsenic level to be lowered to the allowable drinking water level, which the new FDA announcement appears to do.

More on the new ruling from Reuters:

“This action level will keep any apple juice that may have more inorganic arsenic than that out of the marketplace,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a blog post.

Last year the agency tested 94 samples of arsenic in apple juice and found that all were below the 10 ppb threshold for inorganic arsenic. The FDA is now setting that limit as the allowable future benchmark. It will accept public comments on its recommendations for 60 days.

Inorganic arsenic may be found in foods because it is present in the environment, both as a naturally occurring mineral and due to the use of arsenic-containing pesticides.

Inorganic arsenic has been associated with skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes. Organic forms of arsenic, also found in soil and ground water, are considered essentially harmless.

Some consumer groups said the limit on arsenic is a good first step, but the carcinogen needs to be limited further.

“The standard they’ve chosen may not be adequate to fully protect the public,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Image: Apple juice, via Shutterstock

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