Posts By Date

woman using hand sanitizer while shopping - Getty Images

By: Tracy Turner

What steps do I need to take when grocery shopping in light of the coronavirus pandemic?

COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease. While there have been no reports as of this time to suggest that COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has been transmitted by handling food or food packaging, here are ways that consumers can protect themselves when grocery shopping.

COVID-19 transmits person-to-person through droplets that are produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, said Qiuhong Wang, a scientist and coronavirus researcher with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Symptoms range from mild to severe respiratory illness. Advanced age or conditions such as various cancers, COPD, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes are associated with an increased severity of COVID-19 infections and fatality rates.

The virus is most often transferred to another individual when droplets directly reach their nose, mouth, or eyes, or through close contact such as a handshake. The virus can also transmit when a person touches an object or surface with the virus on it and then touches their mouth or eyes before washing their hands.

With that in mind, the most important thing that consumers can do to protect themselves and others when grocery shopping is to practice social distancing, said Sanja Ilic, food safety state specialist with Ohio State University Extension, CFAES’ outreach arm.

That includes keeping at least 6 feet between yourself and other shoppers while shopping and when standing in line to pay for your purchases, she said, noting that current evidence shows the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, many retailers have taken to marking safe standing distances with an “X” on the floor in the checkout lines.

“Although consumers should not be too worried about COVID-19 transmissions from food, everyone should follow good hygiene practices when purchasing and preparing foods to lessen their chances of contracting the virus from other sources,” she said.

If possible, use hand sanitizer before and after selecting produce items, and avoid touching multiple produce items when making selections, Ilic said.

“If you are concerned about fresh produce or other food being contaminated with coronavirus, wash your hands before and after eating, and before touching your face,” she said. “Also, make sure you never cough or sneeze in or around fresh produce display refrigerators.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wash their hands often; refrain from touching their mouth, nose, and eyes; and use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.”

Many grocery stores have instituted safety precautions such as reducing the hours the stores are open to allow employees to sanitize and restock the stores each night, and allowing special shopping hours for elderly consumers and those with compromised immune systems.

Additionally, here are other steps that Extension educators suggest you take when going to the store for food and supplies:

  • Sanitize shopping cart and basket handles before and after you use them. All grocery stores should have sanitization wipes near the entrance. If bringing a young child to the store with you, clean and sanitize the child flap seat and other areas that the child can touch. This is because coronaviruses can remain on hard surfaces such as steel and plastic for up to three days, research has shown.
  • Use a single-use plastic bag for meat packages. Although not specific to COVID-19 prevention, research has shown that doing so can reduce the risk of foodborne pathogen cross-contamination.
  •  You don’t have to clean and sanitize food packaging. If you or your loved ones are at increased risk from infection, you can wipe shelf-stable and ready-to-eat food packages. If you do so follow the instructions on the label of the sanitizer or wipe. Do not wash your produce using soup and water as it may be toxic.

  • Use sanitizer wipes on “high-touch” hand-contact surfaces such as door handles, salad-bar tongs, and checkout counters.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands after grocery shopping. It’s important that you wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds each time. Hand sanitizer is also an option if you do not have access to soap and water.
  • Use separate bags for raw meat and ready-to-eat food items, as a general precaution.
  • Wash and sanitize reusable grocery bags often. You can do this by washing the bags in hot, soapy water. If the bags are made of nonwashable material, wipe them down with a sanitizer before and after each use.
  • If possible, avoid using cash, opting to use a credit or debit card instead. Once home, it’s a good idea to wipe your credit or debit card with a sanitizing cloth or wipe.

For more information, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a website dedicated to answering questions regarding food, food safety, and COVID-19.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Sanja Ilic, state specialist in food safety for OSU Extension.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: 

Tracy Turner

turner.490@osu.edu

614-688-1067

SOURCE(S): 

Sanja Ilic
614-292-4076
ilic.2@osu.edu

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
Picturesque view of Lake Atitlán

By: Gary Closs, Jr.

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala is equal parts beautiful and dangerous. Beyond the captivating beauty of the volcanic lake lie stories that few get to tell.  We, OSU graduate students and Asst. Professor/ CFI director Barbara Kowalcyk, were visiting the lake to learn more about its connection to food safety and its implications on One Health. My first glance of the lake came as we drove to Panajachel. The picturesque lake looked like the place meditation leaders tell you to imagine when you close your eyes. Three volcanoes (San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán) surround it. The deep, blue lake was further decorated with rich green trees and kissed by the sunlight on the horizon. I took in the beauty of the lake on day one and found myself staring out my hotel balcony all night as the sunset turned the sky shades of pink and orange in the distance.

Overlooking Lake AtitlánView of Lake Atitlan from hotel balcony in Panajachel

Unbeknownst to me, I would be quickly redirected to the deeper stories and perils of the lake as we visited the Mayan towns along the lake’s shores. This metaphoric switch seemed to be physically manifested by the winds that rocked the boat as we traveled to the first destination of San Lucas.

Upon arrival, we immediately noticed the difference and instead saw a dying lake. We were even informed that children under the age of five had a 50 percent mortality rate. Women were directly washing clothes in the lake. Detergents add to the lake’s contamination; however this practice makes sense for town’s people who have limited resources. In an effort to reduce water contamination, several washing stations have been built near the lake but all but one were empty. Instead, there was an overwhelming amount of people washing at one particular station. More alarming, we learned about water practices among the town. Natives tend to believe that clear water equates to clean water. It is common practice for them to remove the debris from water and use it under the guise that it is now safe. Some do take measures to add chlorine but it is unmeasured and seemingly random.

 View of Lake Atitlán in San Lucas

As a student who studies foodborne disease and zoonotic pathogens, I was constantly paying attention to the chickens and dogs that roamed the premises and drank water from various crevices. I was made aware that it is common for such animals to come in and around the houses defecating near the people; further contaminating the lake through run off.  Runoff contaminated with pathogens and chemical pollutants can harm the fish, animals that prey on the fish, and humans as the contamination makes it way up the food chain through a process called biomagnification.

However, poor agricultural practices aren’t the only things adding to the lake’s contamination. Climate change and expanding tourism have greatly added to the destruction. The lake is contaminated with cyanobacteria, which has caused outbreaks in the past.1 Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria, often mistaken for algae, that can cause disease in humans and animals when ingested.2

Saving Lake Atitlán requires interventions, education, and financial assistance. Interventions must take into account the culture and daily routines of its inhabitants. Culturally conscious science and advocacy is what is needed to revitalize the health and stability of the lake and people. Fortunately, organizations like Amigos de Lago (a non-profit, non-governmental organization) have been developing safe plant mediation methods to combat the lake’s contamination. They have also been educating the natives on ways to conserve the lake and advocating for proper practices. Amigos de Lago graciously led our tour of the native towns and lake. The organization’s effort to include science, education, and advocacy prove to be a blueprint that culturally responsible conservation is attainable.

Plant mediation at the Amigos de Lago research facilityOhio State University graduate students with Dr. Kowalcyk at Santa Catarina Palopó with Lake Atitlán in the background

  1. Rejmankova, Eliska & Komárek, Jiří & Dix, Margaret & Komárková, Jaroslava & Girón, Nancy. (2011). Cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Limnologica. 4 296-302. 10.1016/j.limno.2010.12.003.
  2. Water-related diseases. (2016, August 29). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases-risks/diseases/cyanobacteria/en/
  3. https://amigosatitlan.org/

Gary Closs

 

Gary Closs, Jr. 

closs.1@osu.edu

Graduate Research Assistant

Department of Food Science & Technology

Food Animal Health Research Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
Finished SERO chocolate product

By: Emily Campbell

On our recent trip to Guatemala we had the opportunity to tour the chocolate production facility of SERO chocolate. They are a Guatemalan chocolate producer that integrates social and environmental responsibility with the quality cacao necessary to create fine chocolates. Their philosophy helps them create a comprehensive and quality product that connects them with people the supply chain depends on and helps expand their cultural horizons.

Find out more at: https://www.cacaoembassy.com/

The production of a finished bar of chocolate takes the input of many people and, something you may not realize - microorganisms. Chocolate’s unique flavors come from growing conditions and fermentation of the cocoa bean. Beneficial microorganisms help give chocolate its flavor, but if not controlled, harmful microorganisms can cause issues with quality and safety.

Chocolate production starts with harvesting of the mature cacao fruit by hand. The selected fruits are cut open and the beans are removed. After husking, the beans are fermented. Proper fermentation is essential for production of good tasting chocolate. Cocoa fermentation occurs naturally from the microorganisms present on healthy fruit, knives, and other surfaces the beans come in contact with. Proper conditions must be maintained on these surfaces to support growth of the beneficial microbes. The fermentation process is carried out by successive microbial populations. In the beginning yeasts dominate, then lactic acid bacteria, and finally, acetic acid bacteria dominate the population. If left to ferment for too long, spore forming bacteria, such as Bacillus, and molds can take over. Spore former growth leads to production of off flavors in the chocolate. Mold can negatively impact the flavor and safety. Some mold strains can produce mycotoxins, a harmful compound. Good storage practices below 8% humidity can prevent mold growth (1). The manufacturing process can also lower the toxin present in the sample by removing the husk from the bean (2). The color of the beans is used to determine the degree of fermentation. Once completed, the fermented beans are then dried which reduces bitterness, astringency, and acidity. It also reduces the moisture content to levels that are safe for storage and transport. If moisture is too high mold growth can spoil or contaminate the product. The beans are then processed into chocolate.

Cocoa nibs at the SERO chocolate production facility

The beans are cleaned to remove sand, stones and metal. The husks are removed, and the beans are roasted. The roasting process transforms the aroma precursors that originated in fermentation and drying processes into the final flavor of the chocolate. Roasting is also the critical control point in chocolate making. Critical control points are essential processes that are controlled to eliminate or reduce food safety hazards. The temperature and duration of the roasting must be long enough to inactivate biological pathogens and bring out flavors in the bean. The cocoa is then ground and fat is recovered from the beans. The resulting cocoa liquor or paste is homogenized and then cooled. The cocoa liquor is pressed, and cocoa butter is extracted. The pressed cake is pulverized and turned into cocoa powder. The final product is made by grinding cocoa liquor, sugar and cocoa butter together in a process called conching. The chocolate is stirred at a warm temperature for several hours. The stirring helps develop flavor, darken color, and stabilize viscosity. The chocolate is then tempered to create a stable crystalline structure that gives it a nice shine and stability.

Conching at SERO chocolate processing facility

There are three characteristics of chocolate that are important to maintain microbial safety of the chocolate: low water activity, high proportion of fats and sugars and pH around 5.5. These conditions limit the growth of bacteria but do not eliminate them. The pathogenic organisms of concern are Salmonella, but the likelihood of acquiring salmonellosis from chocolate is low. Salmonella could be introduced into the product through workers handling the beans. The low pH and the low water activity prevent Salmonella from growing, but this pathogen can survive in the chocolate. The roasting stage is the only step that can eliminate the pathogen from the product and is therefore a critical step in safe chocolate production.

The process of making chocolate is complex and requires several steps to bring out the characteristic flavors. Microorganisms play a big role in flavor production, but they need to be controlled to keep the product delicious and safe.

Finished SERO chocolate product

Find out more at: https://www.cacaoembassy.com/

  1. Agell O, Rodr ́ıguez MC, Rodr ́ıguez JJ. 2013. La seguridad alimentaria delchocolate. Available from:http://ebookbrowse.com/19-la-seguridad-alimentaria-del-chocolate-pdf-d25....
  2. Copetti MV, Iamanaka BT, Frisvad JC, Pereira JL, Taniwaki MH. 2011.Mycobiota of cocoa: from farm to chocolate. Food Microbiol28(8):1499–1504.

Emily CampbellEmily Campbell

campbell.2179@osu.edu

Graduate Research Assistant
Food Science and Technology

 

 

 

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
Woman washing laundry in river

By: Devon Mendez

From the moment we landed in Guatemala I began to take in the multitude of differences that existed between my home in Ohio and the loud and bustling Guatemala City. As we traveled throughout the country, we were able to see and experience many incredible things, including a visit to Lake Atitlan, a lake created by the three volcanos, one of which you can see in the background of the photo below. While on the surface the lake seemed healthy, a meeting with members of the organization “Friends of Lake Atitlan” taught us that the water was anything but.  

Team standing in front of one of the three volcanos that created Lake Atitlan after touring the various water treatment facilities in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years the lake has been contaminated with many different types of pollution, including chemicals from hotels and industrial companies, phosphorus and nitrogen run off from farms, as well as sewage. Accumulation of pollution has led to the water in the lake to be extremely contaminated, causing harm to all those who drink it. One of the most significant risks present in the water of Lake Atitlan is phosphorus and nitrogen. This excess phosphorus and nitrogen are largely caused by runoff of both sewage and fertilizer, both known to be high in these nutrients. As a result of these excess nutrients there are often high numbers of cyanobacteria and coliforms, organisms that are known to cause severe negative health effects, including diarrhea. With diarrheal disease being one of the leading causes of death for children under five, it is imperative that these issues be resolved so that children can remain healthy and have access to clean water. 

Photo of water treatment center for laundry facilities at Lake Atitlan. While these facilities do their best many chemicals are still released into the lake as a result.

To decrease the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen available in the water, “Friends of Lake Atitlan” have begun to research the use of plants for the absorption of these chemicals. These plants, predominantly consisting of algae and Eichhornia crassipes, are typically used for tertiary treatment of the water. Eichhornia crassipes is a shrub like water plant with roots that are able to absorb large amounts of phosphorus. This absorption occurs for approximately 21 days before turn roots turn black which denotes the plant is not able to absorb any more contaminants. As for the algae, its role is largely to add oxygen to the water, which helps encourage life within lake, and help combat the hypoxia that is often caused by harmful algal blooms from other species of algae.  

Photo of Eichhornia crassipes being used in research at the “Friends of Lake Atitlan research facility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While plant remediation of the water is a newer technique and has not been implemented on a large scale yet, the research being done by “Friends of Lake Atitlan” shows a great amount of promise. It is my hope that, through a bit more research to increase ourunderstanding of how the plants can be utilized, we can begin to revive the lake. The use of the plants would provide a way to begin resolving these issues in a sustainable and natural way, aiding in the recovery of the ecosystem.  


Devon MendezDevon Mendez

CFAES Graduate Practicum Student

Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and College of Public Health

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
Market in Guatemala - photo by Arturo Rivera on unsplash.com

By: Drew Barkley

This past spring break, I was fortunate enough to travel with the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention to Guatemala for work related to the Prenatal Exposure to Mycotoxins project (https://foodsafety.osu.edu/research/pesar). In the middle of our trip, our schedule changed so that we had an extra unplanned day in Guatemala City. So, we decided to tour a fruit and vegetable cooperative processing facility that some of our Guatemalan colleagues were able to arrange. We met our guide and then proceeded to suit up in booties, masks, and lab coats before entering the facility. After a thorough handwash and step through the bleach pool, we were getting a look at the processing lines. The day we were there, they were packaging primarily French beans and carrots. We were able to see where the raw product arrived, how it was washed and packaged, where finished product was stored, and what happened to rejected product. Overall, I was impressed with their food safety measures that included temperature-controlled rooms, good worker hygiene, microbiological and pesticide testing, and traceback codes.

While this was my first time touring a fruit and vegetable processing facility, it was not my first time touring an export processing facility in a foreign country. Two summers ago, I participated in the Farm-to-Table program in Chile. There, we were able to tour salmon, dairy, and deli meat processing facilities. Two of the facilities, the dairy and salmon, were international exporters and had strong food safety measures implemented, similar to the fruit and vegetable cooperative in Guatemala. The deli meat processing facility only supplied the national market, and the difference in food safety was noticeable. Raw and finished products were stored in the same room, floors were not as clean, and some of the product was stored under a leaky air conditioner. The stark differences highlighted the higher standards that must be met for export as compared to the domestic standards for some developing countries.

Remembering my experience in Chile reminded me that the fruit and vegetable cooperative, as an exporter to the US, had to meet higher standards set by the United States Food and Drug Administration. A national producer may not have the same food safety measures in place. This was made a little more obvious when they informed us that rejected product was taken to the local market to sell. So all of this begged the question, shouldn’t the national market have the same quality and safe food as in the export market? It’s an economic question of course, without a clear answer. Addressing this gap requires balances to be struck between food safety, food waste, capacity, costs, and so many more. If anything, the next time I go to the grocery store, I will appreciate the measures put in place to ensure my food is safe, understanding that many people in the world do not have that privilege. 


Drew Barkley

Drew Barkley

Graduate Research Associate

CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
Farmer's Market - photo by Anne Preble on unsplash.com

By: Drew Barkley

Last summer I spent a Saturday morning with a friend at a farmer’s market that sets up every week from April through November. We enjoyed looking at the different booths and products, many of which came from here in central Ohio. As we went down the row of booths, we tried some kettle corn, different salsas, and purchased some salted chocolate donuts. Continuing down the row, we came across a cheese booth. While my friend, still in a “try everything” mode, started to sample the different cheeses, I decided to pass after reading “unpasteurized” on the label. The stop at this booth reminded me that just because food is locally sourced and fresher, it doesn’t mean that it’s safer.

When we’re making trips to our local farmer’s market this spring, it is important to keep food safety in mind and be aware of the potential risks. There are several guides online that offer some simple steps you can take while at the farmer’s market to be sure the food you buy is safe. One common piece of advice is to ask the vendor about their food safety practices. Do they wash their produce? How are meat products stored and handled? Asking questions like these can give you a better idea of the procedures vendors have in place for food safety. Another tip, one that I remembered at the cheese stand, is to avoid raw dairy or unpasteurized dairy products. The FDA warns about the serious health risks associated with raw milk and milk products that can harbor dangerous bacteria. Even if vendors mention they’ve tested the product for bacteria, there is still a greater chance of becoming sick so it is best to avoid these products. Two final tips are to save perishable items for last and be sure to wash produce. The less time perishables spend in your shopping bag and out in the heat, the better. By washing your produce before eating, you can reduce surface contamination, and make the fruits and veggies safer to eat.

I want to emphasize that my goal is not to discourage people from buying food from farmer’s markets. I think farmer’s markets are a great place to spend time with friends and family and find foods or products you couldn’t otherwise find in a grocery store. However, we do still need to be mindful about the risks, and by keeping food safety in mind while wandering the rows of vendors, you can make safer purchases. Below are some links with more farmer’s market food safety tips if you’re interested in learning more ways to make safe choices at the farmer’s market.

https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/farmers_market.html

https://www.cookinglight.com/news/food-safety-farmers-markets-tips


Drew BarkleyDrew Barkley

Graduate Research Associate

CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology

 

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
iced tea - image by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on unsplash.com

by: Aaron Beczkiewicz

Having spent a good portion of  my master’s program interviewing individuals about their foodborne illnesses following international travel, it goes without saying that I tend to be a little paranoid about what I eat when I travel. As a result, I was fairly strict about self-imposed diet restrictions (i.e., no fresh produce, pre-packaged beverages only, no iced drinks, etc.) over the course of a 2-week trip to Ethiopia last summer. During my return trip, the first several items on my to-do list involved satisfying habits I had gone without the entire trip. Since I LOVE cold beverages and typically go through 2 trays of ice a day, I made a point of getting a drink with ice during one of my layovers (…unfortunately, no direct flights from Columbus to Addis Ababa). As I was enjoying an iced tea at the London Heathrow Airport, I started pondering whether I would consider it a potential food safety risk. With several hours till the next leg of my trip, I decided to occupy myself by digging deeper and a quick internet search at the airport bar returned a couple outbreaks due to tea or other herbal supplements:

2017 Botulism Outbreak – Deer Antler Tea

2010 Sodium Azide Poisoning – Iced Tea

Despite spending several days during the trip to Ethiopia assisting with a course on risk ranking and discussing how individuals perceive risk differently, it really had not occurred to me until I was sitting in an airport drinking iced tea how impactful a setting could be on my own perception of risk. Was I justified in relaxing my food and beverage restrictions the minute I passed through customs and immigration in London despite avoiding ice those 2 weeks in Ethiopia?

Given the strong public health and food safety systems in western Europe, I’m fairly confident that I was less likely to get sick from items I consumed during my layover. But the more I thought about it, there were multiple factors I was considering. Whereas my biggest concern with the iced tea at the airport was norovirus due to food handler contamination of ice or garnishes, my avoidance of ice in Ethiopia was driven primarily by my concerns about Salmonella and Cholera which last longer and are more severe than norovirus. Thus, it wasn’t just the likelihood of illness that I was concerned about, but also how severely it could impact my daily life.

Evaluating these two components of risk can be challenging if you don’t have the information (e.g., contamination history, severity of illness, etc.) necessary to base decisions off of. Luckily, food safety systems are increasingly adopting practices, such as posting letter or color grades for retail food establishments following inspection, that promote increased consumer awareness. While my airport musings haven’t led me to give up iced tea, they did increase my awareness of how I approach food and beverages in the U.S. and I now make sure to look for a green health department sign in the window any time I go to a coffee shop in Columbus.

 


Aaron BeczkiewiczAaron Beczkiewicz

Graduate Research Associate

CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology

 

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
Women working in field

By: Ariel Garsow

Gender and food safety are interconnected because gender roles determine the distribution of food safety resources and responsibilities between men and women. Women in low and middle income countries such as Ethiopia carry a disproportionate responsibility because their traditional roles place them in charge of food production, handling, and preparation.

Last August, I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for a gendered data collection course at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. During this course, we discussed how gender, nutrition and food safety are interconnected. Through this course, I gained a deeper understanding of how lack of access to resources due to gender disparities effect food safety worldwide. 

One of the activities that we completed was a 24-hour clock to look at the differences in how typical small holder male and female farmers spend their time in a typical day. We split up the men and women in the class into two separate groups. The men were assigned the task of creating a 24-hour clock of the typical day of a woman who farms on a small plot of land, also called a woman smallholder farmer. The women were assigned the opposite, making a 24-hour clock of the typical day of a male smallholder farmer.

A picture of the status of the groups doing the activity after 15 minutes. The men were still busy at work while the women were chatting since they finished the activity. A picture of the status of the groups doing the activity after 15 minutes.  The men were still busy at work while the women were chatting since they finished the activity.

The pictures of the typical day for a small-holder male farmer, left, and female farmer, right. The pictures of the typical day for a small-holder male farmer, left, and female farmer, right.

The pictures of the typical day for a small-holder male farmer, left, and female farmer, right.

As shown in the photos above, this activity creates a pictorial representation of reality that allows for an open discussion of gender roles and equality. For example, one of the men in the group commented that he “had no idea” that women spent so much of their time working compared to men.

These types of tools are useful because they reveal the food safety practices in a community by showing who does what activities during the day such as harvesting crops, milking cows and food preparation. This information can also be used to see when most individuals are available to have conversations and trainings around food safety can occur, increasing the potential impact that can be made.

Following this exercise, we visited several small holder dairy producers in the area surrounding Addis Ababa to conduct a gender analysis of the food safety practices in the dairy value chain. These types of conversations are important because they can lead to the development of best food handling practices that are specific for a community. For example, one of the women we spoke with stated that she stores the milk she collects from her cows in the evening in a container in a cold water bath until the milk can be collected the next morning. She stated that she does this because she had attended a dairy food safety course in a nearby town where she learned that it is important to keep the milk cold to limit bacterial growth. One of the course instructors was also at the woman’s house and indicated that she had purposefully invited women to the diary food safety course because in the village the woman are the primary ones responsible for milking and making cheese. This is just one example of the linkage between gender roles and food safety.

Examining gender roles in value chains allows for the creation of interventions for those who are more likely to be able to change behaviors to reduce foodborne contamination. Future food safety trainings need to understand gender roles to target the correct audiences in order to be effective in reducing exposure to foodborne pathogens.

If you are interested in learning more, here is a link to a webinar series from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems on gendered data collection:

https://livestocklab.ifas.ufl.edu/events/webinars-on-gender--nutrition/


Ariel GarsowAriel Garsow

Graduate Research Associate

CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology

 

 

 

 

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
fruit infused water

By: Tracy Turner

I’m planning to add either fresh strawberry or cucumber slices to a pitcher of water to serve with a lunch I’m hosting. Are there any food safety concerns that I need to be aware of when making fruit- or vegetable-infused water?

Infusing water with fruits or vegetables is a wonderful, healthy, and delicious way to add flavor to water without adding sugar. Not only is infused water a simple way to stay hydrated, but it has also become increasingly popular among consumers who are seeking healthy alternatives to sugary drinks.

However, when preparing fruit- or vegetable-infused water, it’s important to keep food safety in mind to prevent the potential of developing a foodborne illness. In fact, you should handle infused water as you would any perishable food, according to Infused Water with Ohio Local Foods, a recent Ohioline fact sheet written by Patrice Powers-Barker, an Ohio State University Extension educator.

Ohioline is OSU Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Because you are adding fresh fruits or vegetables, the infused water is perishable. When serving infused water at a party or on a buffet table, treat it like other perishable foods. Add ice to the water and remember that perishable foods should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. After two hours at room temperature, the food can enter the “danger zone,” a range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit at which bacteria grows most rapidly. 

“For food safety, store the infused water in the refrigerator,” writes Powers-Barker. “As in any food or beverage preparation, do not forget to wash hands with soap and water before handling the food, as well as wash all produce with clean running water.” 

“Use clean containers and sanitize preparation surfaces before starting,” she writes.

Also, cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid using any produce that looks rotten, advises the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

Because fruits and vegetables can sometimes harbor harmful bacteria, rinse all produce under clear running water before preparing or eating it. When washing firm produce such as melons and cucumbers, clean it with a produce brush and pat it dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that might be present on the surface, the FDA says.

For example, cantaloupe skin has nooks and crannies that can house dirt particles. Therefore, give cantaloupes a good rinse and scrub them with a clean brush before cutting through them with a knife. Peeling or cutting unwashed produce can transfer dirt or other contaminates from the surface of the produce to the portion of the fruit or vegetable that you plan to eat or add to your water.

It’s important to note, however, that washing the produce will not get rid of all bacteria or viruses. And washing it with soap, detergent, or commercial produce washes is no more effective than washing it with water, the FDA says.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor:This column was reviewed by Patrice Powers-Barker, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: 

Tracy Turner

turner.490@osu.edu

614-688-1067

SOURCE(S): 

Patrice Powers-Barker
Extension educator
Family and consumer sciences

  1. 364 West Lane Ave.
    Suite B120
    Columbus, OH 43201
    Fax: 614-292-2270
  2. Research Services Building
    1680 Madison Ave.
    Wooster, OH 44691
    Fax: 330-202-3504

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0
washing chicken

By: Tracy Turner

I just can’t stomach the idea of not washing raw chicken before cooking it. The slime on it is really off-putting. Isn’t rinsing out my sink afterward good enough to prevent spreading any germs?

No, it’s not.

You shouldn’t wash or rinse raw chicken or any other raw poultry before cooking it, because doing so doesn’t kill any bacterial pathogens such as Campylobacter, salmonella, or other bacteria that might be on the inside and outside of raw chicken. 

When you wash or rinse raw chicken, you are likely splashing chicken juices that can spread those pathogens in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some estimates say the splatter can spread out and land on surfaces up to 3 feet away.

In fact, a new report issued last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service showed dangerous levels of contamination between bacteria from raw poultry and other surfaces, and foods being prepared nearby. 

The study involved 300 people who prepared a meal of chicken thighs and salad in a test kitchen. Of those who washed the chicken before cooking it, 60% were found to have left a trail of bacteria in the sinks and surrounding areas. 

Even after washing out the sinks, 14% of the sinks were still contaminated with bacteria. Even worse, of the salads that were prepared in the test kitchen where participants washed the raw chicken, 26% were contaminated with bacteria from the raw chicken.

That’s a problem because pathogens such as Campylobacter and salmonella can survive on surfaces such as countertops for up to 32 hours, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The only way to kill these potentially dangerous bacteria is to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Practicing sound, safe food handling is important, considering that 48 million Americans get sick with a foodborne illness every year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die, according to the CDC.

“Everyone has a role to play in preventing illness from food,” according to a USDA written statement. “Please keep in mind that children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk. 

“Washing or rinsing raw meat and poultry can increase your risk as bacteria spreads around your kitchen, but not washing your hands for 20 seconds immediately after handling those raw foods is just as dangerous.”

To lessen your chances of developing a foodborne illness, the USDA says to:

  • prepare foods that will be served uncooked, such as vegetables and salads, before handling raw meat or poultry.
  • clean and sanitize thoroughly any surface that has potentially touched or been contaminated from raw meat and poultry, or their juices. To do this, clean sinks and countertops with hot, soapy water, let them dry, and then apply a sanitizer to them.
  • wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, rinse them under warm running water, and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel after handling raw poultry or any other raw meat.

Lastly, be sure to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, using a food thermometer to measure the temperature. Beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, roasts, and chops are safe to eat at 145 degrees, while ground meats are safe to eat at 160 degrees, the USDA says.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor:This column was reviewed by Sanja Ilic, state food safety specialist, OSU Extension.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: 

Tracy Turner

turner.490@osu.edu

614-688-1067

SOURCE(S): 

Sanja Ilic
State Food Safety Specialist
OSU Extension

  1. 364 West Lane Ave.
    Suite B120
    Columbus, OH 43201
    Fax: 614-292-2270
  2. Research Services Building
    1680 Madison Ave.
    Wooster, OH 44691
    Fax: 330-202-3504

 

Posted In:
Tags:
Comments: 0

Pages