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Contamination of Nuts/Nut Butters

January 26, 2023 - 12:42pm --

By: Charles Bashiru Bakin

Nuts are an important food commodity and an essential part of our diet. Nuts are defined as single-seeded fruits, dry in nature and containing high oil content. Botanically, exclusively a kind of dry fruit with a single seed, a hard shell, with a protective husk. The four nuts that truly fit this definition are chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. Salmonella, with its long-term persistence and high heat resistance on dry foods, is considered the target organism for tree nuts and peanuts.

Ripe almonds on the tree branches photo - Adobe Stock #106115003

Chow Line: Safe ways to thaw and cook a frozen turkey

November 22, 2022 - 1:07pm --

By: Tracy Turner

Photo: Getty Images

I’m buying a frozen turkey this week to serve for Thanksgiving this year. What’s the best way to thaw it?

With the traditional holiday just days away, if you’ve purchased a frozen turkey, the time to think about how to defrost it is now. Depending on how large your frozen bird is, it could take up to six days to safely defrost it in a refrigerator.

There are three safe ways to thaw a frozen turkey: in the refrigerator, in a container of cold water, or in a microwave.

A Seasonally Safe Recipe

November 2, 2022 - 7:58pm --

By: Samantha Cochrane Pumpkin Bread Photo by Unsplash

My favorite fall recipe is, of course, something pumpkin. Fall is always the season that brings my family together. From pumpkin carving to thanksgiving, and lots of little things in between, each of my fall events will probably involve pumpkin bread. Don’t be fooled by the name - pumpkin bread is basically cake and is the perfect dessert to pair with your favorite warm beverage.

Pumpkin bread is pretty simple, but even the simplest of recipes can present an opportunity for foodborne illness. Check out the steps below for more!

Samantha CochraneSamantha Cochrane




Food is Health: My Path to Nutrition and Public Health

October 3, 2022 - 6:10pm --

By: Samantha Cochrane

Food has always been a major part of my life. Like many people, some of my first memories involve the foods I was eating in those moments. From enjoying piles of oven-baked dinosaur chicken nuggets and tater tots at home, to spending my dad’s weekly day off running through a drive-thru for a hamburger. These first memories, while positive, did not always contain the most healthful food choices. Giving more thought to the health content of my foods did not come to me until later in life after being introduced to healthy eating, cooking, and nutrition science in an elective class I took in high school. This class marked a shift in the way I looked at food, just as I was trying to figure out what my future might hold. It not only gave me the helpful baseline knowledge of nutrition to make healthy choices but changed the course of my career pursuits. When I found out this was something I could not only study further but share with others, I was set on becoming a dietitian.

Samantha CochraneSamantha Cochrane

Graduate Intern



The College of Public Health at OSU

Are packaged salads safe?

September 15, 2022 - 10:41pm --

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?

Click here to read the entire blog

Juan Carlos Archila GodinezJuan Carlos Archila Godinez

Graduate Research Associate



micro photography of green leaf photo on

Understanding the 2022 Infant Formula Recall  

August 22, 2022 - 7:52pm --

By: Chloe McGovern and Samantha Cochrane with contributions from Nadira Yasmin 

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.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.Baby Formula  

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 

Chloe McGovernChloe McGovern



Samantha CochraneSamantha Cochrane

Graduate Intern


Nadira YasminNadira Yasmin


South Korean Cuisine and the Food Safety Experience

July 29, 2022 - 6:05am --

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.

Laura OnianwaLaura Onianwa

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.

Are Culture-Independent Diagnostic Techniques Too Independent?

July 9, 2022 - 1:46pm --

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 

Chart, bar chartDescription automatically generated 

ChartDescription automatically generated 

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. 

Drew BarkleyDrew Barkley

Graduate Research Associate



The Need for Interdisciplinary Thinking

May 12, 2022 - 4:20pm --

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.

David StaleyDavid Staley

Associate Professor with the OSU Department of History







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