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What People Wonder About Water

We're getting so used to use-by dates that sometimes we hesitate to make decisions without them. For example, when has an unopened bottle of water hung around too long?  Other questions come to mind: Where does bottled water come from? Which is better, bottled water or tap (municipal)?

Summer Party Tips: Baby Carrots (Using for Dips) Hot Dogs (Ditching the Guilt), and Watermelon (Finding a Ripe One)

watermelon, carrotsSummer parties often involve dipping, grilling, and happily biting into fresh fruit. Here are some useful things to know about those mini-carrots perfect for dipping into guacamole or hummus, those hot dogs sizzling invitingly on the grill, and that giant watermelon waiting to be sliced. Nothing shouts summer quite as loudly as these foods.  Let's answer some FAQs about these ubiquitous treats.  Note: some questions express concerns about harmful substances in these beloved edibles. 

What shouldn’t I do or eat at a farmers’ market?

Farmers' MarketConsider following these tips to decrease the risk of food-borne illness:

 

• Don’t drink or buy unpasteurized juices, raw (unpasteurized) milk, or unpasteurized cheese.  Fresh, unpasteurized, chemical-free beverages may taste delicious, but they’ve been known to harbor E.coli, which can cause serious illness.

 

• Don’t snack on fruit until you’ve washed it well.

 

• Don’t buy canned (jarred) vegetables or garlic-in-oil unless you know these were prepared in an inspected kitchen.

Raw Sprouts: Nutritious and Dangerous

Sprouts

A new sprouts recall  from the FDA arrived in my inbox on August 11, and it reminded me to once again warn visitors to Shelf Life Advice that eating raw sprouts--although they are nutritious and are frequently used to decorate summer sandwiches--are also often contaminated with bacteria that cause food-borne illness.  Let's start with some details about this latest recall and then explain why sprouts are so susceptible to pathogens. Finally, we'll provide some suggestions for how to avoid them.

 

Good Seed Inc. of Springfield, VA is voluntarily recalling all packages of soybean sprouts and mung bean sprouts because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections to individuals with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

 

Salmonella, another baceria that sometimes thrives in sprouts, can also can cause serious, occasionally fatal, illness.  The usual symptoms are diarrhea, fever, and cramps that begin within 48 hours of infection and last 4-7 days.   Serious cases require hospitalization.  Salmonella is especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, and others with weakened immune systems.

 

To reach a list of the specific products being recalled and other details about the Good Seed recall, go to Good Seed Inc. Recalls Soybean Sprouts and Mung Sprouts Due to A Possible Health Risk.

 

Raw seed sprouts (such as alfalfa and radish sprouts) have long been touted as a health food.  And there are good reasons for this: they’re an excellent source of many essential nutrients including protein, as well as being a popular, tasty addition to salads and sandwiches. However, unfortunately, sprouts are also a very common source of pathogens (especially salmonella and E.coli) and illness.  FoodSafety.gov (a website from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services) says that, since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of food-borne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts.  (Two or more cases of the same food-associated illness is considered an outbreak.)

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