By: Juan Archila
More Americans are now seeking a healthy lifestyle and finding easy ways to engage with meal preparation. As part of a healthy diet, fresh fruits and vegetables are needed for your body to get essential nutrients and prevent chronic diseases. Leafy greens (including lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), especially those in packaged salads, have become popular since they are easy to incorporate into healthy meals. Most packaged salads commonly say: “Triple washed,” “Thoroughly washed,” or “Ready to eat,” which makes consumers feel safe about eating the leafy greens. However, some of them have been involved in recalls and outbreaks related to harmful microorganisms’ contamination. The question is, how can this happen if they are supposed to be safe?
If we compare the ratio of safe leafy greens grown, delivered, and consumed with the ones that have been involved in recalls and outbreaks, you will notice that the safer leafy greens exceed those contaminated with harmful microorganisms. These harmful microorganisms are so tiny that you cannot see them with your naked eye, and you will only know your leafy greens are contaminated when symptoms show up. Some of those harmful microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. This, however, is NOT a justification for those packaged salads that have been involved in recalls and outbreaks. These outbreaks have negatively affected the overall population, with severe consequences on high-risk populations, including adults aged 65 and older, children younger than five years, immunocompromised, and pregnant women.
Different microorganisms can contaminate those leafy greens inside packaged salads, including pathogenic E. coli, norovirus, Salmonella, Listeria, and Cyclospora. But the most common microorganism identified in these unfortunate scenarios is E. coli O157:H7, which can potentially cause life-threatening diseases. There are many routes along the supply chain where harmful microorganisms like E. coli can contaminate the leafy greens you consume. That contamination could come from the farm, transportation, packing or processing facility, retailer, and even home. For example, leafy greens can be contaminated with harmful bacteria if the irrigation water used is contaminated with cattle feces. In the food production industry, it is very important to recognize that everyone shares responsibility for the safety of these food products. This means that in each step from farm to table, everyone needs to pay special attention to how leafy greens are being handled to decrease the incidence of harmful microorganisms contamination and growth.
The way each microorganism works to cause symptoms may be different from each other and could lead to various adverse outcomes. For example, those outbreaks in which Listeria monocytogenes is involved could lead to negative consequences (e.g., miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm labor) in pregnant women and their newborns.
The following timeline summarizes some multistate leafy greens outbreaks in the past five years (it does not include fresh herbs or sprout outbreaks).
|2022||Leafy greens mixed (packaged salads)||E. coli O157:H7|
|2021||Leafy greens mixed (packaged salads)||Listeria monocytogenes|
|2021||Leafy greens mixed (packaged salads)||Listeria monocytogenes|
|2021||Baby spinach (packaged salads)||E. coli O157:H7|
|2021||Leafy greens mixed (packaged salads)||Salmonella Typhimurium|
|2020||Leafy greens||E. coli O157:H7|
|2020||Iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots (packaged salads)||Cyclospora|
|2019||Leafy greens mixed (packaged salads)||E. coli O157:H7|
|2019||Romaine lettuce||E. coli O157:H7|
|2018||Romaine lettuce (packaged salads)||E. coli O157:H7|
|2018||Leafy greens mixed (packaged salads)||Cyclospora|
|2018||Romaine lettuce||E. coli O157:H7|
Continuous efforts have been made by the industry, government agencies, and academia to mitigate this public health risk. Even though there is specific regulation for produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, action plans have also been developed. These action plans are based on “prevention, response and knowledge gaps.” The prevention includes the implementation of the science-based standards that are stipulated in the Produce Safety Rule. The response consists of actions being followed to investigate produce outbreaks, including surveillance systems. And the knowledge gaps include the understanding of produce contamination using science to mimic harmful microorganisms’ dynamics.
This is too much information to process! So, let’s summarize it!
1. Packaged salads should be safe for consumption because their production must follow food safety practices.
2. Sometimes, packaged salads could be contaminated with harmful microorganisms. But that DOES NOT mean all of them are contaminated.
- Daily food recalls can be found here:
- Foodborne outbreaks can be found here:
3. Industry, government agencies, and academia are working together to continue providing safe produce to consumers.
For more information, visit:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Fruit and vegetable safety. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-healthy-fruits-veggies.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Lettuce, other leafy greens, and food safety. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/leafy-greens.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). People at risk – pregnant women and newborns.
- US Food & Drug Administration. (2020). FDA outlines 2020 action plan to help advance the safety of leafy greens. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices/fda-outlines-2020-action-plan-help-advance-safety-leafy-greens
Graduate Research Associate
Why the recall?
In May 2022 the FDA issued a recall for powdered infant formula made in Sturgis, Michigan. The products recalled included Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.1 For the most current information about the recall, please visit the FDA’s website or click on this link. The outbreak is considered closed, but the FDA and CDC are continuing to update information regarding their investigation after the recall and ways to prevent future outbreaks.
As we learned with this most recent infant powdered formula outbreak, products we think may be the safest still have risk. This reminds us the risk of foodborne illness is never zero. The process of making baby foods are more regulated to lower the risk of a food safety outbreak, but these safer conditions do not equate to sterile food products.
One way we can take control in lowering our own risk is to read instructions on the packaging of any foods carefully. Careful reading, especially for foods for the young, elderly, pregnant, and immunocompromised, can help in saving lives.
What is Cronobacter?
Cronobacter sakazakii is a germ that lives naturally in our environment. It can be found in dry foods like infant formulas, herbal teas, powdered milk and starches. Cronobacter infections are rare, but they can be deadly in newborns. They can also be serious for the elderly, those age 65 or older, and adults with weakened immune systems. In infants, Cronobacter illness will usually start with a fever and poor feeding, excessive crying, or very low energy. Some infants may also have seizures. You should take an infant with these symptoms to a medical provider as soon as possible.2
Feeding Safe Formula
In addition to reading the specific instruction on how to prepare your specific formula, there are some general rules to follow to keep the formula as safe as possible:
Wash hands well before preparing bottles or feeding your baby. Clean and sanitize the space where the infant formula is prepared.
Bottles need to be clean and sanitized.
Liquid infant formula does not need to be warmed before feeding as it is considered sterile, but some people like to warm their baby’s bottle. Avoid using a microwave to heat bottles to prevent uneven heating.
If you use powdered infant formula:
- Use water from a safe source to mix your infant formula. If you are not sure if your tap water is safe to use for preparing infant formula, contact the local health department.
- Use the amount of water listed on the instructions of the infant formula container. Always measure the water first and then add the powder.
- If a baby is very young (younger than 2 months old), was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system, they may be at higher risk of getting sick from Cronobacter. The CDC recommends considering extra precautions in preparing infant formulas to protect against Cronobacter, specifically for these infants.3
The safest way to prepare powdered formula is to prepare with water at boiling temperature. This step is not to sterilize the water, but to help in killing any bacteria in the powdered formula itself. Unlike the liquid formulas available, powdered formula is not sterile. This step may help any infants stay safe when choosing liquid formula, but is especially important for those at higher risk of getting sick, mentioned above. To learn more about how to prepare powdered baby formula safely through boiling water, check out the directions from the CDC found here.2
Always Play it Safe
When it comes to baby food, if you have any concern based upon sensory perceptions, storage conditions, or even a gut instinct, it is best to throw the formula out. Likewise, any unfinished bottles should be discarded and not stored for later, even in the refrigerator. If power is lost, you should follow the same protocols you would for other foods in the refrigerator.
Where are we now?
After this outbreak, we have seen some weaknesses in the way we supply baby formulas. The combined effects of supply chain trouble due to the pandemic and the formulas recalled by Abbott Nutrition have led to shortages seen across the country:4
One of our own CFI students has directly felt these effects. Nadira Yasmin, an MPH practicum student and mom to a little one dependent on one of these formulas, shared with us some of the lengths she went to get the formula her son relied on:
“As a mother using formula to supplement my baby’s nutrition, it was very difficult to find the exact one that my son takes available at stores throughout the Columbus area and beyond. I traveled to different Walmart and Target locations that were much further from my home just to pick up some formula that I ordered online once the stock became available again. During this time, there were limits on the quantity of formula that could be purchased as well. There was a good 4-5 weeks that the specific formula I buy was not available in any of the stores here. I ended up ordering from Amazon, which took about 3 weeks to come.”
Months after the recall and improvement of COVID supply issues, we are still feeling effects of this shortage that is impacting some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. In response to the situation, President Biden and his administration have worked with government agencies involved in formula regulation and distribution. Their actions include working with the FDA to allow more formula to be brought in from other countries and working with the USDA to simplify production of formula container sizes to allow for more to be made overall.5 With these and other actions, we hope to see families feel more secure in both the availability and safety of infant formulas.
By: Laura Onianwa
On May 2, 2022, I landed in South Korea, ahead of the US Eastern Standard Time Zone by about 11 hours. I do not speak Korean, nor am I well versed in Hangul, but it didn’t make me want to go any less and visit my close friend who resides there. Korean is the primary language spoken, as is to be expected. And although it is becoming more common, not everyone speaks English, since all Koreans aren’t afforded the same opportunity to attend English academies as young children. I was a little anxious, yes, but excited. The pandemic had previously uprooted my plans to study abroad in Spain two years ago, and I knew that opportunities like this didn’t come along often. Although I’ve never really been into K-pop or K-dramas, I can appreciate both; at any rate, I was both willing and ready to travel abroad to Korea.
Being a minority in more than one way, living on my own, traveling solo much of the time, and not being completely knowledgeable of the language, I most definitely would stand out as a foreigner. In preparation, however, I did educate myself on the culture and was given proper advice by friends familiar with the country. They helped in providing the major do’s and don'ts, and what is considered appropriate and/or disrespectful in the typical culture and customs of Korea.
As ready as I could be, I would spend the next 2 months in Korea. My experience there was surreal at times, interesting, informative, and genuinely good! I experienced many things for the first time; hostel living, Buddhist temples, palaces, shrines, Hof bars and pubs, jazz bars, busking, outdoor markets, underground shopping centers, the subway/metro train (beyond awesome), the night scene, vivacious mountains, cozy cafes and bakeries (individualized and aesthetically pleasing all-around), authentic street food, photo booth studios, lovely parks, cultural venues, and delivery drivers on motorcycles riding through both red lights and upon sidewalks (which they are legally permitted to do). However, as a student with CFI, I paid special attention to all things food and food safety, especially when eating out.
Sharing is Caring
Korea is by and large a sharing culture, but that shouldn't stop you from getting a bowl of Bingsu (a Korean dessert comprised of shaved ice, topped with fruit and sweet add-ons) for a party of one. It is very common to share meals there. From Korean Barbeques, in which the minimum amount is a two-serving meal, to desserts. Due to the portion sizes of the food, it is easy to notice when certain dishes are commonly shared versus made for one person to consume.
I noticed that the size of drinks is all largely the same, in that you get the same, one size, no matter where you go. Unlike the US, the food establishment will rarely let you choose the size.
No tips, please
Taxes and tips are included in the total price of food, and there is no tipping culture, so the price you see displayed is the only price you pay. This was quite a relief if I’m being honest. Tipping can be considered rude/impolite, as it can be seen as insulting someone’s presumed financial status.
Waste management was another interesting change from what I’ve seen in the US. Large garbage bags are not made readily available to the general public, but rather medium/small waste basket-sized ones are commonly found in stores. In Korea, waste bins are small because the apartments there are typically small in size, and the majority of the population live in these apartments. While staying in a hostel in Seoul, South Korea, I noticed how concerned they were about sorting one’s trash into food only, cardboard/paper, plastic, and glass-specific bins. Even with this concern, waste is collected daily, with people sorting through the trash based on the previously mentioned categories. It seems to be an all-around communal effort to adhere to the country’s waste management operation taking place.
Many restaurants offered those dining in with individually packaged sanitizing hand towelettes to clean their hands prior to eating, since many of the food establishments in South Korea don’t have public-use restrooms. As many may forget to wash their hands before eating, I thought this was a good way of keeping hand hygiene more consistent. I’m not sure if this had always been the case or a mitigation response due to Covid-19, but either way, I was all for it!
There was usually a pitcher of water and cup placed by the server at your table, or a universal one made available to use if you wanted water to drink. With communal use, I wondered, however, how often these reusable water containers were washed and sanitized? Daily? Weekly? I did not have the answer.
Like in the US, upon placing your order at either the self-service kiosk or at the front counter, many places would ask if you wanted to "take out" or "eat in". If you got takeout, you were not allowed to sit down and eat your meal inside the establishment. I suspect it had to do with the unnecessary waste of material that could accumulate in the food establishment’s own indoor trash can and was a good way of preventing the creation of avoidable waste. It may also be the reason why there were no obvious trash cans in these food places, except maybe a tiny waste bin near the front counter. There was an expectation that if you ordered to eat out or requested your food to-go, you actually ate your food somewhere else.
Reusable utensils were also a staple in restaurant eating. If you dined in, most, if not all the utensils used could be washed and reused. If you ate in, at a cafe, bakery or quick food shop, they usually gave you a tray, and once you were done eating you would bring it up to the counter for them. Even at a large franchise such as Starbucks, they used actual mugs, teacups, and glasses for those choosing to dine in. For the coffee drinks, I think this not only allowed them to show off their coffee art artistry, bringing class to fast-food style coffee, but prioritized sustainability.
In South Korea, cafes are on nearly every corner. Places to eat like small bakery businesses and chain-franchises alike are all able to maintain that “all are welcome” feel. I enjoyed how I could sit and savor everything I tasted. At these places you don’t feel forced to make it a grab and go process but are compelled to just have a seat and enjoy. On a few occasions, I noticed that at sit-down restaurants where utensils were required, such as chopsticks and spoons (reusable cutlery), they were either all stored in a pullout drawer connected to the table you were eating at or such utensils were simply in a universal container and out in the open where the dine-in customer could pick out their eating utensil from the collective. Although it could be a charming practice, I noted that it was another communal area possibly leading to the transfer or spread of illnesses. Especially, when left unprotected from human hands and thus the germs that each of us may carry.
At some bakeries and café locations, I noticed that the freshly made grab-and-go bakery items were not encased but rather freely open to plate. Although plastic or wooden trays with parchment paper and clean utensils were provided and required to be used by all when grabbing bakery items, there wasn’t a plexiglass covering or sliding door to provide some sort of protective barrier between the array of food and the perusing customers like we are used to seeing here in the US.
Ultimately, I found the food in South Korea, whether they were traditional Korean dishes or picturesque pastries, to be nothing short of fresh, unique, and tasty. The restaurants, cafés, and bakeries I visited, specifically the latter, exuded charm, prioritized visual appeal, and upheld quality. Now that I am back in the States, I can say that I’ve left South Korea with a plethora of interesting experiences, both food related and not. New friendships, an appreciation for clean and efficient metro systems, a better understanding of Korean history, a strengthened growth mindset, a newfound desire to learn Hangul, and over 200+ photos that will stick with me forever. I will definitely be traveling to South Korea again, and other countries as well in the future! 감사합니다.
By: Drew Barkley
Let’s start by taking a quick trip down memory lane. The year is 2010, and after spending your evening watching highlights from the Vancouver Winter Olympics, you begin to feel sick. Your stomach starts to churn, and you realize that this might be something serious. You visit your doctor and they suggest taking a stool sample. Your sample gets sent off to a lab to be cultured, and after a few days you hear back that your culture came back positive for Salmonella Montevideo. Further, the lab submitted the Salmonella Montevideo strain isolated from your stool to PulseNet at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PulseNet is a foodborne disease outbreak surveillance system here in the U.S. that uses whole genome sequence data taken from clinical isolates to find common strains between different cases. The isolate from your stool ends up matching isolates from other cases of Salmonella Montevideo around the country. As a result, the health department questions you about the food you ate over the last month to identify any common exposures with the other cases and identify a potential source of the emerging outbreak.
Fast-forward to today. It’s 2022, and while watching replays from the Beijing Winter Olympics, your stomach begins to ache again. You feel the same illness coming on. However, when you go to visit the doctor this time, they do not send a stool sample off to the lab to be cultured. Instead, they use a small molecular array that looks like a chip to test your stool. Within a few hours, you receive the results that you are positive for Salmonella and are sent home to rest and recover. Because no culture was completed this time, unfortunately there is no way of knowing whether your illness is a sporadic case or part of a larger outbreak.
The scenario described above highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of culture-independent diagnostic techniques, or CIDTs. CIDTs, like the small molecular array used to diagnose a foodborne illness in the paragraph above, are a relatively new method for detecting enteric or foodborne pathogens from stool. Unlike traditional culture methods that are labor-, resource-, and time-intensive, CIDTs are quick and easy, and can test for up to 20 or more different pathogens on a single test. Because CIDTs are so fast and test for several pathogens, they help physicians diagnose patients more quickly and allow for appropriate treatment to begin more rapidly as well. Within the last 5 to 10 years, because they are so easy and efficient, CIDT use has greatly increased. For example, the proportion of Campylobacter cases in FoodNet sites diagnosed with CIDTs increased from 13% in 2012-2014 to 38% in 2018.1 You can also see in the graphs below the increase in CIDT usage to diagnose various foodborne pathogens between 2015 and 2020.2
So if CIDTs are easier, more efficient, and test for more pathogens, what is the problem with increasing their usage? If you remember back to the scenario at the beginning of this post, when the molecular array CIDT is used today to diagnose a foodborne illness, there is no isolate or culture to send to PulseNet at CDC. This means there is no way to determine if your illness is a sporadic case, or part of a larger outbreak when using just CIDTs. That is because PulseNet needs bacterial isolates so that the exact strain causing an illness can be determined. By identifying the exact strain, if the strain for one ill person matches the strain of another ill person, outbreaks and linked cases can be more easily identified. As CIDT use increases, the effectiveness of the PulseNet surveillance system in identifying ongoing foodborne disease outbreaks becomes more jeopardized.
So what can be done? While more research is needed to fully understand the impact of CIDTs on foodborne disease surveillance, the CDC has launched a pilot study for how to adapt PulseNet to CIDT data. CIDTs typically rely on genetic material of the pathogens present in the stool. The CDC is currently investigating using metagenomic approaches to match the genetic material from CIDTs to common, known outbreak strains for specific pathogens.3 This “shotgun” approach to seeing if CIDT results match any previous outbreak strains is not the most efficient way to identify outbreak strains, but may prove a useful tool as we move further from culture and more towards CIDT use.
Graduate Research Associate
On Wednesday, May 11th, CFI hosted the Inaugural OSU Food Safety Collaborative meeting. The goal of this meeting was to bring together the OSU food safety community to share ideas and build partnerships. To kick off our meeting, David J. Staley, who is an Associate Professor with the OSU Department of History, gave a wonderful talk titled "The Need for Interdisciplinary Thinking". The talk emphasized the importance of inter-departmental collaboration to solve food safety challenges and was the perfect talk to set the tone for what the OSU Food Safety Collaborative is hoping to accomplish.
The Need for Interdisciplinary Thinking
By: David J. Staley
I’m not an ecologist, but I understand that in ecology there is the concept of an “ecotone”: a region of transition between two biological habitats/ecologies. It turns out that this point of intersection between ecologies often produces “edge effects,” and is particularly noted as an attractive site for a rich, complex diversity of life.
Thinkers such as diverse as Stewart Brand and Yo-Yo Ma have borrowed this concept to describe how creativity and innovation works. And I wish to borrow the analogy as well: we are often admonished to “break down silos” with little or no guidance about what we are supposed to do after we have broken the silos.
I would like to propose the creation of an “epistemological ecotone”—a point of intersection between disciplines—that induces edge effects: a rich, complex diversity of ideas.
To continue the analogy: disciplines are habitats in this analogy. Richard Ogle thinks of disciplines as “idea spaces” “Idea spaces can take many different forms,” he writes.
Established scientific disciplines and paradigms, for example, represent idea-spaces that embed collective intelligence about the most effective way to carry out research, typically providing an overarching framework of established theory, principles, practices, heuristics, methodological assumptions, lab techniques, and so forth.
A discipline—an idea-space—is an intellectual habitat. The point of intersection between these intellectual habitats becomes the site and generator of edge effects.
This ecological analogy gives us a new way to think about interdisciplinarity/about collaboratives (like the Food Safety Collaborative).
Frans Johansson describes this condition as “The Intersection”
The key difference between a field (a discipline) and an intersection of fields lies in how concepts within them are combined. If you operate within a field (within a discipline) you primarily are able to combine concepts within that particular field, generating ideas that evolve along a particular direction—what (he) calls directional ideas. When you step into the Intersection (what I’ve been calling the “epistemological ecotone”) you can combine concepts between multiple fields, generating ideas that leap in new directions—what (he) calls intersectional ideas.
The Intersection is a liminal space—a threshold—an environment that is in-between disciplines; and it can be difficult and disorienting and unsettling to reside here because:
1) it is difficult to manage, in part because outcomes are difficult to foresee or to plan for or to control. Surprise and fortuity, serendipity and epiphany are edge effects of life in the epistemological ecotone.
2) this liminal environment often has no recognizable academic infrastructure: journals, conferences, professional societies, degree programs, TIUs. Faculty are often rewarded for their contributions to disciplines, not for the edge effects they might create when in The Intersection. Perhaps this is why universities are often hesitant to create and maintain (and fund) these liminal, in-between spaces.
The threshold space I am describing is a kind of “Third Place.” In urban design, a third place is a convivial space that is neither home (First Place) nor work (Second Space). What you are building here with your Collaborative is an “epistemological third place,” neither one discipline or another, but the liminal edge between them.
In design, we often talk about “wicked problems.” These are challenges of such size, complexity and uncertainty that they appear seemingly unsolvable. The maintenance of food safety certainly qualifies as a wicked problem, one best addressed by breaking down silos between stakeholders and collaborating together…at the edge.
Associate Professor with the OSU Department of History
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, direct-to-consumer and third-party delivery methods were on the rise. The food delivery industry has tripled since 2017 with 8% growth just in the last few years (Ahuja et al., 2022). With this rapid growth in industry, regulatory agencies and establishments have had less time to adapt to the increasing food-safety concerns.
There are three resources that I have found to be useful when looking for advice. The first is the Partnership for Food Safety Education, an organization that promotes and develops education programs to reduce the risk of foodborne illness among consumers (Partnership for Food Safety Education, 2021). The second source of information is from the Conference of Food Protection which is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing food safety guidance that is incorporated into food safety laws and regulations throughout the United States (Conference for Food Protection, n.d.). The third source of information comes from StateFoodSafety, an online food safety training company, where their efforts are designed to educate the public and ensure the health of communities nationwide (StateFoodSafety, n.d.).
Here are a few tips you can use to ensure a food delivery order remains safe regardless of your role:
- Consumers are individuals who seek out food orders for their own consumption:
- Partnership for Food Safety Education encourages consumers to:
- Ask the delivery company or restaurant questions about their delivery standards and what you should do if your order has been compromised.
- Ensure you or someone you know will be able to accept the delivery of your order so that it can be stored in a safe place if the food is not consumed immediately.
- Inspect the packaging once you have your order to ensure there is no damage and promptly cook, serve or save your food depending on your plans.
- Partnership for Food Safety Education encourages consumers to:
Food Businesses are establishments that prepare, cook, and serve food to their customers.
The Conference for Food Protection encourages food businesses to:
Protect your food by providing adequate packaging to ensure four things:
1. There is no cross-contamination between perishable foods,
2. Unpackaged food items do not have contact with major allergens,
3. Food is protected from time-temperature abuse during transit, and
4. Food is not damaged during transit.
Provide your employees with proper food handling techniques through some sort of training program.
Training should be reassessed on a regular basis.
- Delivery Drivers are individuals who transport food items from a food business to a consumer whether through a third-party company or directly through a food business.
- StateFoodSafety encourages delivery drivers to:
- Practice good personal hygiene.
- Avoid cross-contamination of delivery orders by keeping foods separate and in safe places.
- Identify ways to keep the food order at the proper temperature to ensure quality and safety.
- StateFoodSafety encourages delivery drivers to:
Everyone has a responsibility when it comes to the safety of food delivery orders, no matter what role an individual has in the food chain. Enjoy safe and delicious food using these tips!
Ahuja, K., Chandra, V., Lord, V., & Peens, C. (2022, February 18). Ordering in: The rapid evolution of Food Delivery. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/ordering-in-the-rapid-evolution-of-food-delivery
Clark, C. (n.d.). How to Handle Food Delivery and To-Go Orders Safely. Statefoodsafety.com . Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.statefoodsafety.com/Resources/Resources/how-to-handle-food-delivery-and-to-go-orders-safely
Conference for Food Protection. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from http://www.foodprotect.org/
Dimensions. (2021, April 27). Close up of woman packing food for delivery stock photo. iStock. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/close-up-of-woman-packing-food-for-delivery-gm1314632869-402807855
Guidance document for direct-to-consumer and third-Party Delivery Service Food delivery: Conference-developed guides and documents. Conference for Food Protection. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from http://www.foodprotect.org/guides-documents/guidance-document-for-direct-to-consumer-and-third-party-delivery-service-food-delivery/
Partnership & history. Partnership for Food Safety Education. (2021, September 20). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.fightbac.org/about-us/partnership-history/
PeopleImages. (2020, November 26). We've got you covered during lockdown stock photo. iStock. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/weve-got-you-covered-during-lockdown-gm1287632111-383789708
Prep yourself. Partnership for Food Safety Education. (2022, February 16). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.fightbac.org/prep-yourself/
Rez-Art. (2020). African american couple sitting at table looking at food delivery stock photo. iStock. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/african-american-couple-sitting-at-table-looking-at-food-delivery-gm1279915118-378372743
StateFoodSafety. (n.d.). About us: Company. About Us | Company | StateFoodSafety.com. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.statefoodsafety.com/About
By: Chloe McGovern
A new year brings a fresh start to a lot of aspects of our lives; it is a great time to reset and rejuvenate. A fresh start can be symbolic with a good cleaning, so why not start with your refrigerator? Your refrigerator is an essential part of keeping your food safe, and it does not get cleaned often enough as a thank you for all the work it does. Left unclean, your fridge could become the perfect incubator for pathogens to survive and contaminate other food. So now is the perfect time to clean it in preparation for another year of feeding your loved ones.
So... How do you clean it?
The first step is to take all your food out of the fridge and place it in an ice chest. This is a fantastic opportunity to throw out expired food or month-old leftovers that have been pushed to the back. Once you take the food out of the refrigerator it is recommended that it stays out of the refrigerator for at most 2 hours. Cleaning your fridge should not take 2 hours but set a timer so you do not forget about the food!
The second step is to remove all the detachable parts like shelves or drawers. Wash these removable parts with hot, soapy water and a sponge. Be careful with cold glass and hot water. As the water warms up, warm up the glass so the temperature difference does not break the glass. Next, you are going to dry these parts with a clean towel.
The third step is to wipe the inside of the empty refrigerator with hot, soapy water. Follow this with clean water and a towel to wipe the soap off and dry the inside. The inside includes the door and any non-removable parts.
For an additional step, you can mix 1 tablespoon of liquid bleach and a gallon of water to create a sanitizing solution. With a clean sponge, wipe down just the removable parts. Let these parts dry outside of the fridge. Bleach solution should not be applied directly to the inside of the fridge.
The last step in your refrigerator cleaning is putting the shelves and drawers back into your nice and clean refrigerator and placing your food back in its home!
Weekly or monthly wipe downs with disinfecting wipes, or right after a spill, prevents these deep cleanings and the upkeeping of your appliances from being a drag. Your refrigerator deserves a deep cleaning every 3-4 months, so show your most important appliance the love it deserves.
The recommendations made in this blog are from the U.S. Center for Disease Control. More information from them can be found here:
Graduate Research Assistant at the Master’s Level
By: Ariel Garsow
It is common in the New Year to make a resolution to eat healthier. This may include incorporating foods into your diet that you have not cooked with or eaten before. Maybe you want to meal prep the night before for the next day.
Improper handling of food can lead to an increased risk of foodborne illness. There are four steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick from the healthy food you are preparing this New Year: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Clean: wash your hands and the counter
Hand washing may seem monotonous, but it is important. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before you start cooking, after handling potentially contaminated food as well as before eating. Clean your countertop after use as well.
Separate: keep raw meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood far away from produce
Cross-contamination can occur if the same cutting boards and utensils are used simultaneously for raw products that are commonly contaminated (raw meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood) and produce. To prevent the spread of foodborne pathogens, use different cutting boards and utensils or wash them with hot, soapy water between uses.
Cook: use your food thermometer
A visual test may not be sufficient to ensure meat, fish, and seafood are fully cooked. If you are unsure of what temperature to cook an item to, here is a link to a chart with safe internal cooking temperatures for various types of foods. There are also some minimum internal cooking temperatures on the figure below.
Chill: refrigerate food after preperation
After you have finished preparing your healthy meal, remember to keep hot food hot (at or above 140°F) and cold food cold (at or below 40°F). Between 40°F - 140°F is the “danger zone.” Avoid foodborne illness by cooling leftovers quickly in shallow containers and placing them in the refrigerator within two hours of preperation.
Hope these tips help to keep the food you prepare safe and healthy. Wish you all the best with your New Year’s resolutions!
1. Bin, Qi. 2019. Photo by qi bin on Unsplash. Unsplash. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/IIzny_Qgw-g. Accessed 21 December 2021.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Four Simple Steps to Food Safety. Food Safety. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html. Accessed 21 December 2021.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. ‘Danger Zone’ (40 °F - 140 °F). Available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/.... Accessed 21 December 2021.
Graduate Research Associate
By: Jack Palillo
I started my Masters of Public Health in September 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. There was a lot of uncertainty in my program, especially being in the first cohort of MPH students to begin fully in the middle of the pandemic. One of the most pressing issues was finding an applied practicum experience that would allow me to display the skills I had gained during the first year of my MPH. I saw a listing online for a “Foodborne Disease Epidemiology Practicum Opportunity”, applied and hoped for the best. Little did I know that this experience would be crucial to my development as a graduate student and ultimately change my professional career path.
After interviewing with Dr. Kowalcyk and various CFI students, I was invited to join the SHARE project (Developing Methods for Assessing the Public Health Impact of Foodborne Illness Using Electronic Medical Records). While CFI traditionally operates in-person, COVID-19 required them to transition to virtual meetings with limited time in the lab within the Parker Food Science and Technology Building. SHARE was a great fit for me as it allowed me the opportunity to finetune the biostatistical analytical skills I had gained from my graduate program as well as learn how to code. Coding had been something I wanted to learn for a long time, but my educational path had never allowed me to explore it. During my interviews when I had mentioned it as a goal of mine, I realized I had come to the right place as this was something that was heavily taught and utilized at CFI.
Under Drew Barkley, I was tasked with characterizing patients who had stool samples submitted within OSU’s healthcare system from 2011-2019. It is critical to investigating foodborne illnesses due to the underdiagnosing and underreporting associated with them. There are many reasons why there is an underrepresentation of foodborne illnesses, but it can be best understood by looking at the events required for an illness to be properly reported/diagnosed. “First, the ill person must seek medical care. Second, a specimen must be submitted for testing. Lastly, the illness must be reported to public health officials”.1 Any break in this chain can cause underreporting or misdiagnosis. Characterizing this break in the chain was exactly what one aspect of SHARE was looking to investigate as it could provide a better picture of the impact that foodborne illness may be causing at the local level here in Columbus. By writing my code I was able to analyze data by selecting the correct collection methods and then interpret those results into an effective PowerPoint presentation. I was able to investigate foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and Campylobacter. After much trial and error, I sorted through a data set with over 500,000 observations and presented demographic and diagnostic trends in patients to CFI during our weekly meeting.
Dr. Kowalcyk emphasized that working with her team would teach you professional skills that would go beyond the classroom. While the skills as a newfound data scientist I had learned were very useful, I also developed two very important professional skills. The first was learning to integrate myself into a well-developed team. For the first time in my professional career, I had to be the chair and take minutes for weekly meetings, schedule one-on-one meetings with various team members and even be willing to help out on others’ projects when they had deadlines to meet. The second skill I learned was how to effectively translate research to others. At the end of my practicum, I was required to present my results to both CFI and other MPH students doing their practicums. While CFI was an audience with background knowledge in food safety, many of the other MPH students had focused on other areas of public health. Being able to translate my findings to an audience with minimal knowledge was a challenge, but CFI had prepared me well.
The skills I’ve gained while at CFI have allowed me to successfully defend my master’s thesis and graduate a semester early, submit two abstracts to the International Association for Food Protection 2022 conference, and prepare a manuscript for submission to the Journal of Food Protection. CFI is passionate about mentoring students as this was one of the most rewarding experiences during my graduate education. I will be forever grateful for the skills that CFI has taught me and hope to make a lasting impact in the world of public health research.
Upon graduation, I have accepted a position as a Clinical Data Manager at Massachusetts General Hospital.
1. Scallan, E., et al. “Hospitalisations Due to Bacterial Gastroenteritis: A Comparison of Surveillance and Hospital Discharge Data.” Epidemiology and Infection, vol. 146, no. 8, June 2018, pp. 954–60. PubMed, doi:10.1017/S0950268818000882.
By: Devin LaPolt
Climate change and food safety are two issues that affect all of us. We rely on our food to be nutritious and free from anything that could cause harm, such as pathogens. One factor that can influence food safety is climate change which causes long-term changes in weather patterns. As temperatures increase, pathogens like bacteria, fungi, and protozoa are more likely to cause contamination due to more favorable growth conditions, leading to illness. Increased frequency of heat waves will also affect food safety, as it will become more difficult to keep foods like meat and dairy cold throughout the transportation process as refrigerated trucks must be modified to account for increased length of travel, increased temperature, and increased microbial control measures (USDA, 2015). Food prices will also continue to increase as it becomes more difficult to protect food and prevent spoilage. Food protection involves reducing exposure to the sun, heat, contaminated water, and other sources of pathogens to prevent foodborne illness due to eating unsafe food.
What does this mean for us? As food safety becomes more challenging, there will be an increase in many negative health outcomes related to food consumption. Rates of undernutrition, which is insufficient consumption of food and other nutrients needed to maintain good health, will increase. Undernutrition is associated with climate change effects such as frequent, intense storm events, temperature changes, and flooding. Existing issues of undernutrition or malnutrition will be intensified. Water contamination will persist as a health concern and impact food and agricultural production since contaminated water can lead to contaminated fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. This contamination of fruits and vegetables with continue to increase as chemicals are transported from industrial sites due to flooding and increased severe weather events. Another source of environmental contamination that increases risk to food safety is heavy metal uptake from soil. As temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, uptake of heavy metals into plants will increase (Whitworth, 2020). This poses threats to human health as toxic metals like lead can be ingested through the consumption of contaminated produce. Ultimately, the risk factors associated with climate change will continue to pose a significant health risk for people both locally and globally if action is not taken to mitigate risk.
As food and food-related products become more difficult to protect, there are a variety of actions that can be taken to reduce risk of foodborne illness. Some of these include raising awareness of safe food production, additional water quality monitoring, and implementation of new strategies to prevent contamination of food products with pathogens. This could include new monitoring techniques, new policies for agriculture, meat, poultry, and seafood production, or changes to irrigation systems to prevent contamination of agricultural fields.
Brown, M.E., J.M. Antle, P. Backlund, E.R. Carr, W.E. Easterling, M.K. Walsh, C. Ammann, W. Attavanich, C.B. Barrett, M.F. Bellemare, V. Dancheck, C. Funk, K. Grace, J.S.I. Ingram, H. Jiang, H. Maletta, T. Mata, A. Murray, M. Ngugi, D. Ojima, B. O’Neill, and C. Tebaldi. 2015. Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System. 146 pages. Available online at http://www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/FoodSecurity2015Assessment/FullAs....
Whitworth, Joe (2020, April 22). “FAO: Climate change is changing food safety landscape. Food Safety News”, https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2020/04/fao-climate-change-is-changing-fo...
World Health Organization. (2019, July 31). Food Safety, climate change, and the role of WHO. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/food-safety-climate-change-and-t....
Graduate Research Associate