Dark Times Lie Ahead; Enjoy These Scary Food Stories

No doubt about it, darker times are coming, as they do every year about now. First, there's Halloween night; then there's the sad loss of daylight savings time, which forces us to be groping about in the dark; then we get to snowstorms and seemingly endless winter (brrrr) if you live in the "right" places in the U.S. Anyway, enough stalling. Let's leap into three true food stories that are scary enough for late fall and winter. These stories, while not cheerful, may lead to greater care and safety when working in the kitchen.


On September 26, the Chicago Tribune reported that 17 new lawsuits concerning Pam cooking spray (a product I use daily) have caused fires that "severely burned users." The suits claim that Conagra Brands and DS Containers have sold "dangerous and faulty products and failed to adequately warn consumers of the risks." These suits, in addition to others brought in May, bring the total to 33. The cause of the suits relates to the design of the can, which had U-shaped vents to relieve pressure if the can is overheated. (These cans have been redesigned earlier this year.) Store-branded products with similar designs have also been involved in fires. These included Member's Mark, which is sold at Sam's Club. 


Conagra has defended Pam, saying that it's when used properly, it's both safe and effective. When using aerosol sprays, customers should heed these warnings: don't place them on a stove or close to a heat source; don't use them near an open flame; don't store them anywhere above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Take this advice seriously., Cooks working at home and in restaurants have been injured, and some were scarred with burns that permanently disfigured them.




In cold weather, hot food can be a comfort. But, believe it or not, it can also be a killer. Here's a weird story that warns you not to sample a hot tidbit when you don't know how hot it actually is. In Britain, a 52-year-old wedding planner sampled a small fish cake about to be served at a wedding venue. The result: a day later, Darren Hickey died of asphyxiation. The fish cake burned his throat badly, so badly that the swelling made it impossible for him to breathe. 


 The moral here might be don't eat the refreshments is you're not a guest at the party. But the other advice is this: Avoid consuming very hot food and drinks. Much has been reported about people who are burned by hot coffee that they drink or spill on themselves.




Since we've been hearing a lot about Ukraine lately, here's a food story that is more bad news: 129 people became ill with salmonellosis after attending a wedding in a western Ukrainian village (Putyla, Bukovina). Of those stricken , 73 required hospitalization. 


Cross-contamination was the villain. Testing found the same Salmonella strain on many of the foods served. Also, many had additional types of bacterial contamination. 


To read about how to avoid contaminating your food, type "cross-contamination" into the search bar on the Shelf Life Advice home page and/or go to this link: http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/i-left-it-out-too-long-can-i-still-eat-it


You'll find a lot of good advice there. Happy, healthy cooking!




Chicago Tribune "New lawsuits allege cooking spray cans exploded" September 26, 2019.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-conagra-pam-can-lawsuits-20190925-6wsugyytffh6ra77bvyzksfv4e-story.html (online version)


Fox News "Man Died After Very Hot Fish Cake Burned His Throat..." October 10, 2019.



Penn State Food Safety "Ukraine - Massive Salmonella Outbreak at Wedding"

October 11, 2019.






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