Hello everyone! First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Chloé Lundquist and I am currently a dietetic intern at Iowa State University. I was lucky enough to have my time with Extension and Outreach fall during some of the Summer Short Courses for School Foodservice Managers. I learned so much about school nutrition program and it got me thinking that maybe the general public needs to be better informed. For instance, did you know that more school lunches are served on a given day than lunches at a major quick service chain? In the Smarter Lunchroom workshop we did a group activity where we listed words often associated with school meals. Sadly, this list included words like “boring”, “bland”, “disgusting”, and even “unhealthy”. During the different workshops, I learned about several tactics school foodservice departments are using to try and satisfy the students and their parents while complying with government regulations. For example, many schools have set up a “Flavor Station”, with different spices and condiments available for students to customize their meals. Schools are also trying to get students’ input on would like menus; many districts use a cycle menu with several options on a daily basis. So are school meals really unhealthy? A recent study was done comparing the nutritional quality of school lunches and packed lunches. The results showed that school lunches were actually of greater nutritional quality than packed lunches. School nutrition programs have the difficult task of trying to please several different entities (students, parents, public, and government regulations). One clear take away for me was the interest nutrition program staff had in pleasing the students in their districts.
It’s Fair Time! Our State Fair – the Iowa State Fair – has been underway for close to a week. Had the chance to explore/eat/enjoy yesterday – and there was a lot for each! We didn’t see Ann Margaret and Pat Boone but we did see the butter cow, ate at Beef Quarters and Dairy Barn, and enjoyed the cooler weather. We also saw future farmers (way into the future) at Little Hands on the Farm exhibit get up close and personal with farm animals. As a hand hygiene advocate, I LOVED this sign from CDC about washing hands after touching animals. It is good there are readily available restrooms that are well-stocked with hand washing supplies – hopefully fair goers make use!
We hear of outbreaks occurring – here is one that hit close to home. Dietetic Intern Nicholas Arensdorf (as part of a rotation with Extension Specialist Rachel Wall) provides advice on what to do if one occurs in your neighborhood.
The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued a consumer advisory against consuming potato salad produced at Big “G” Food Store in Marengo, Iowa. The culprit: Salmonella in the “traditional potato salad” and “zesty potato salad” made in July. It is unclear when the food became unsafe, but it is likely that the issue was incorrect handling and unsafe storage temperatures after the potato salads were made. This was an easily preventable mistake that led to at least 20 cases of Salmonella poisoning in the area.
Because Salmonella is a bacterium, you cannot taste, smell, or see it with the naked eye. This makes it difficult to tell if a food is unsafe to eat. Following precautionary practices will provide some protections. With the tips below, you can reduce your risks.
•Always wash your hands before handling foods.
•Wash all produce, even if it will be cooked.
•Keep raw meat foods separate from fruits and vegetables and keep utensils separate. Store raw meat below any fruits or vegetables in the refrigerator.
•Foods with raw or under-cooked eggs, poultry, or meat should not be eaten. Poultry and meats should be well-cooked, and not pink in the middle.
•Keep cold foods cold and keep at or below 40º Fahrenheit temperature (refrigerators should be at this setting – you can monitor with inexpensive thermometers).
At Events (it IS Fair Season!)
•Avoid food that has been left out for 2 hours or more (think: picnics, barbeques, and buffets). If it is super-hot weather, say above 90 F, then 1 hour or less exposure is recommended.
•Be especially cautious of creamy salad foods (think: potato salad, egg salad, and other casseroles) when they have been left out for unknown amounts of time. (These foods are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply when handled incorrectly)
•Wash your hands immediately after petting animals (especially reptiles, chicks or ducklings as they carry Salmonella sp.) or touching animal feces.
Signs and symptoms of Salmonella poisoning often develop within 12 to 36 hours after eating the bacteria, but can happen as soon as 6 hours or as late as 3 days later. Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning (and also several other food-borne illnesses), include: fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, bloody stools, diarrhea, dehydration from diarrhea, and/or muscle pain from dehydration
It is important to note that simply not eating will not relieve symptoms when diarrhea is caused by a bacterium. Avoiding dehydration is very important, so frequently drinking fluids and replacing electrolytes, like water and sports drinks, is encouraged until diarrhea subsides. Eating foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, and white bread toast may help relieve diarrhea.
Consumers who have purchased the “Zesty” or “Traditional potato salad” should throw it out and not return the product to the store. Iowans with concerns or questions about the implicated products should contact DIA’s Food & Consumer Safety Bureau at 515-281-6538 or Big G Food Store at 319-642-5551. If you have eaten Big G’s potato salads and/or have encountered these symptoms above, contact your doctor or healthcare provider. Do not prepare foods for others.
If you are like me, you have been getting some exercise virtually by sitting on the couch and cheering on Katie, Michael, Missy and other Olympians! I particularly like the swimming events – as a fair weather swimmer I try to get to the pool for some laps during the summer. While I may think I can swim like an Olympian as I channel those setting records, it prolly is not evident to others! The Games are inspiring and watching these athletes swim, jump, twirl, flip, twist and shout on their way to best performances makes me hope those in charge of the foodservice are on their game. How depressing to train for years and qualify for the Olympics only to be sidelined with a food borne illness. Granted the immune systems of these athletes are pretty strong (they are young and healthy) but we know from past events it doesn’t take much to cause an outbreak. Factor in the weather conditions of Rio and high populations, and the risk increases. So, a shout out in recognition of those working behind the scenes and taking the proper precautions to make sure athletes can perform their best. Those of us in foodservice know there are pressures on you to perform quickly but don’t let those pressures take your head out of the game and cause an incident. Game on and good luck!
Hello, my name is Katie Busacca. I am an intern in the dietetic program at Iowa State University. I recently completed a rotation with Rachel Wall, a Nutrition and Wellness Specialist in Cedar Rapids Iowa. As we enter into the last month of summer gatherings, keep in mind that the hot weather will make a difference in how food at picnics and barbeques should be handled. No one wants to spend the last weeks of summer recovering from a food borne illness, so here are some tips to minimize risk.
• Keep food out of the temperature “danger zone”. Keep cold foods in the cooler with ice to maintain a temperature below 41°F. Pack raw meats, fish or poultry you are planning to grill while still frozen to help maintain a cold temperature. When grilling meat, cook thoroughly (different temperatures are needed for different foods). Be sure to keep hot foods hot – USDA says above 140°F.
• Avoid cross-contamination. Pack one cooler for beverages and one for perishable foods. This limits time cooler is opened and exposed to summer heat. Using separate coolers also prevents raw meats, fish or poultry from dripping on ready to eat foods like fresh fruit.
• Pre-wash fruits and vegetables. Washing and preparing fruits and vegetables at home before placing in separate containers will make it easy to use at the event.
• Hand washing. Hand washing is the best step that can be taken to avoid food borne illness. If there isn’t easy access to running water – bring along a jug of water and soap for hand washing and encourage everyone to do so before eating.
• Serving time. Once food is served, try not to leave it out in the heat for more than one hour. With hot temperatures, bacteria can reproduce very rapidly. If it left out for over an hour, discard any leftovers.
Now that you know how to keep food safe and your family healthy, enjoy these last days of summer and get-togethers.
The patchwork system among states regarding selling of raw milk (milk that has not been pasteurized) has led to standoffs in church parking lots. A recent incident in Katy, Texas made the news. In this state, it is legal to purchase raw milk directly from the dairy farmer on the farm, and it is legal for a group of people to hire a delivery person to pick up their purchased milk and bring it to them. It is not legal for raw milk sales to occur off the farm. In some states, no sales of raw milk are allowed (Iowa is one of these – about 20 other states also do not allow) – while in others certain retail venues can sell. So it is complicated. And even in states that don’t allow sales of the milk, people may purchase a share of the cow that produces the milk – thus obtaining their fix. Raw milk is not addictive but there are LOTS of consumers who claim there are health benefits and want the right to purchase. Health professionals are concerned that contamination from certain pathogens (such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella) make it too risky for at-risk consumers (young kids, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems) to drink. Pasteurization of milk is a quick heat treatment of the milk designed to kill these harmful microorganisms. Hence the standoff: dairy farmers are trying to find niche markets (raw milk sells for about twice that of pasteurized milk) and health officials are trying to rein in risk levels. It is not an overstatement to say that most consumers assume products would not be on the market unless they were safe but with raw milk it really is a case of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware – just in case your Latin is rusty). So back in Katy, about 50 people who had purchased the raw milk from the dairy farmer and arranged for transit from a third party gathered in a church parking lot to collect their goods. County health inspectors and police who called the transactions illegal due to the appearance of a wholesale delivery were waiting for them. The issue was not settled that day – but it is likely this will be on agenda in the state legislature next session (and probably other states as well). BTW – the CDC does not support consumption of raw milk and has prepared a set of FAQ to help in decision making
Here we go again – debating extent of labeling for food items containing ingredients from genetically modified organisms, AKA GMO) such as soybean or corn seeds. Congress is trying to create a national law to avoid market place confusion with individual state laws. (The recent fuss stems from a recently implemented Vermont law – Vermont was the first state to successfully pass a law requiring all foods sold include a label noting inclusion of GMOs.) Currently, it is estimated that about ¾ of packaged/processed foods use ingredients from GMOs, i.e. the soybean and/or corn oils in salad dressing. There are a few genetically engineered whole foods on the market such as Hawaiian papaya which protect the crops (and thus, economic viability) from pest infestation and plant diseases. Same purpose for widespread planting of commodity crops such as corn and soybeans and resultant use in many processed food products. On surface, it may seem reasonable and no big deal for food manufacturers to communicate as some consumers have objections to tinkering with Mother Nature and/or simply don’t want to eat those foods. But with interstate distribution systems it IS a big deal. Imagine companies trying to comply with 50 different sets of food labeling regulations – there go the efficiencies of production and distribution with a potential unintended consequence of increases in market prices. Currently, the only way to avoid foods with GMOs is to purchase organic – yet these foods typically have a premium price tag. Surveys show that consumers perceive non-GMO foods are safer (42% from a recent Farm Bureau survey) even though the FDA (and much of scientific community) have consistently said GMO products are safe. But there is a difference between perception and reality. Right now Congress is sorting through the emotion and the science – attempting to reconcile views of protestors shouting “Monsanto money” (Monsanto is a leading GMO seed company) and industry pleas for common sense. Stay tuned!
Hi! My name is Jill Schechinger. I am a dietetic intern who recently spent time with the Iowa State Extension and Outreach Food Safety Project. This experience was eye opening as it provided a look into a realm of the dietetics profession that I had not had exposure to before! ISU Extension seeks to provide education and partnerships designed to solve today’s problems and prepare for the future through a variety of resources, workshops, and educational programs.
Through research, I also learned a lot about the history of ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know that it was the Morrill Act that granted Iowa State University the land to establish a college specializing in agriculture? The need for more agricultural research increased, setting the stage for the creation of the Extension and Outreach program that you know today.
My work with ISU Extension focused on food safety and the impact Iowa State Extension and Outreach can have on the surrounding community. Over the past two weeks I experienced several workshops and short-courses related to food safety including courses on ServSafe®, HACCP, and Smarter Lunchrooms. Courses were offered for school food service personnel across Iowa including school nutrition directors and managers. Participants gained important knowledge and skills that could be transferred to their school districts to better improve the school nutrition program. I’m sure you can imagine how important food safety is in keeping your kiddos healthy at school. Can you believe this year marks the 100th year that ISU Extension and Outreach has provided such workshops that positively impact all Iowans? How cool is that!
Did you know that Iowa State Extension also participates in annual 4-H events held on campus? Students get awesome hands-on learning experiences about a variety of topics related to their 4-H activities. Topics included the importance of proper hand washing and personal hygiene through a workshop called “GSI: Germ Scene Investigation”. Students worked together to investigate a viral outbreak on campus, and the actions they can take to promote proper hand washing techniques to ensure safety of all students. Not to worry- it was a fake virus!
This rotation through Iowa State Extension gave me a glimpse of the numerous professional possibilities available related to food and food safety. It also highlighted the immense impact this work has on the surrounding community! I had no idea ISU Extension did so much to promote food safety, did you? The field of dietetics is continually expanding and thriving, and there are hundreds of paths available that can positively transform and influence lives, and who wouldn’t want to do that!
News reports this past spring regarding the unsafe water in the city of Flint, Michigan have certainly raised questions about water. When a potential 12,000 children are at risk for health problems due to lead contamination in the water they drank, the public demands answers. Drinkable water is a basic need. We use it to grow food crops, quench thirst, cleaning purposes, and as an ingredient in other foods, including ice. As one speaker at a food safety conference put it, water is the “stealth ingredient”. In simple terms, the Flint crisis was due to contaminated water source as well as older pipes used for distribution. While Flint became the face of the issue, it really is a national concern. For the last few decades, there has been a campaign to replace metal pipes, used widely prior to the 1970’s, with non-lead materials. Piping from the major distribution valve to the main taps in homes is not cataloged; so the water source for a community may test as drinkable but water coming from tap in home (or workplace or school) may have lead transferring from the piping to the water. In a recent field trip to Baltimore, we were told that the schools do not use the water for drinking or cooking as there is concerns about leeching of lead into the water from the older plumbing. How do you know? Legislative efforts are underway to strengthen current regulations (as well as oversight authority – lessons learned from the Flint crisis) and the Centers Disease Control and Prevention has some “how-to” guidance for consumers.
Like everyone else, I have been on a few airplane rides. As the summer flight traffic picks up, it is interesting the approach taken by different airlines in addressing allergens – food and otherwise. Some still offer peanuts – which is very surprising in this era of peanut free zones. Of course, those who have peanut or nut allergies likely scope out in advance what snacks are offered, and either fly with another carrier or designate need for an accommodation. More recently, I am seeing small pets traveling as companions. Fortunately I am not allergic or even sensitive to pet dander, but a lot of people are. What can they do – have to request a reassignment? Even if you are not sitting close to a pet, would think would be hard to escape in the closed confines of an airplane.
Pet ownership is rising – and many pet owners treat their pets well. Doggy day cares and bakeries are pretty common (more so in urban areas than small towns). Pet insurance sells briskly and there are big box stores devoted to pet supplies. So given this viable market, am sure decision makers advocate for a more inclusive marketing plan. While passengers are always thanked with “we know you have a choice of airlines” etc, etc, etc, I still feel like part of a herd during boarding and deplaning! Hope your “leaving on a jet plane” experience is positive!