SafeFood: Above the Fold

The New York Times had an article about how to avoid food poisoning! This is great that the topic made it in the popular press, not to mention a media with high circulation numbers. And even better, the information was spot on. Information was framed to reflect changing consumer habits such as increased purchases of prepared foods and globalization of the food system. Points about monitoring for time/temperature abuse and avoiding cross contamination were made. Cautions about not washing raw meats and poultry, and avoiding re-washing of bagged salad greens were clearly presented. I also liked that the author mentioned the concept of planning. Plan what foods to pull from the freezer to allow time for thawing under refrigeration, not on the counter. The article also stressed the importance of reporting to the regulatory agencies if one becomes ill. In Iowa, there is a hotline number with an emoji called Ralph as well as lots of other information. To confirm an outbreak, there is a need for a stool sample, which is off putting for many. (Wait, there are [yes, plural!] YouTube videos on How To do this, which takes away some of the mystery). But without the match of the pathogens in the sample with that in the food, a connection cannot be made. Interestingly, the author suggested tracking one’s personal digestive rate so that the source of the contaminated food could be narrowed. Kudos to the Times for providing this useful and relevant information.



Catherine Hemphill Strohbehn has been a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Hospitality Management Program for 30 years. She is a State Specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. As part of her work, she conducts research, develops educational materials and provides programs to help retail foodservices use their resources effectively and ensure safe food is served. Cathy is a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certified Professional in Food Safety from the National Environmental Health Association.

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