4 Quick “Home Food Safety” Tips!
Recently, I received a request to write a toxicological post about canned fruit and its nutritional value. Unfortunately, I have not yet learned much about canned foods, but I do know one interesting toxic fact …
Here’s why …
Dented cans can provide residency for Colstridium botulinum, a bacteria that produces a toxin known as botulism. Although boltulism is rare, it is best to AVOID food containers that are leaking, bulging, badly dented, cracked, have loose or bulging lids, or have a foul odor. Even a small amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly!!!!!
So, pay attention! If you’re the type of person who shops in the 50%/”half off” section at grocery stores (introduced to me by my economist for a boyfriend), then check your cans often, that’s usually where you will find the dented ones. Once again, I DO NOT recommend buying these dented cans just because they are CHEAP–there is a reason they are so cheap and that reason is potentially unsafe.
On the positive side, as long as the can is in good shape, the food contents should be safe! But, canned food taste, texture, and nutritional value can decrease over time. So as a general guideline, be sure to store canned foods and other “shelf” products in a cool, dry place. Furthermore, if the can is in good shape, high acid foods such as tomatoes and other fruit should only be stored up to 18 months, while low acid foods such as meats and veggies can be stored 2 to 5 years.
However, if the can is NOT in good shape, please DISCARD! Botulism is more likely to grow in low acidic environments like canned peas, corn, green beans, and beets, but only if the can is deeply dented, leaking, bulging, cracked, etc.
click on the images for their sources
For more information please visit the USDA website @ http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Shelf_Stable_Food_Safety/index.asp
First off, I hope everyone enjoyed their three-day weekend!!!
But now it’s back to school and back to work!
In an earlier post, I told you all about the food processing toxin, acrylamide, in “Large Fries with a Side of Acrylamide.“
I have some very riveting little facts to add.
Acrylamide is most commonly found in heat-treated foods rich in carbohydrates, like potatoes, but I recently learned it is also found in heat-treated nuts! So, although raw almonds may have many great benefits, which I will touch on in a later post, roasted almonds contain acrylamide! This may sound shocking, at least for me it was, I didn’t know roasted almonds had traces of a listed Prop 65 chemical … but they do!
So, once again, if you absolutely love roasted almonds, MODERATION is key!!!!
Also, to add to your ever growing acrylamide knowledge, I posted a table, from one of my food toxicology lectures, that seems to complement this post perfectly! The table below displays the amount of acrylamide in a specific serving for different food products! Take a look!!! It’s super interesting.
Let’s talk about a food additive that prevents the wastage of food…
I’ve talked about antioxidants before in “An Antioxidant a Day, Keeps the Free Radical Away” but now I’m taking a different approach.
I’m going to talk about using antioxidants, natural and synthetic, to prevent the oxidation of food. Our bodies use antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress, similarly, we add antioxidants to food to do the same thing.
Read on young grasshoppers…
Fruits and veggies produce antioxidants (carotenoids, polyphenolic, ascorbic acid or vitamin C, and vitamin A) to prevent oxidation. But once the fruit or veggie is not living anymore it will stop producing antioxidants and will be vulnerable to oxidation. Unfortunately, oxidation can decrease the nutritional value of the food by degrading essential fatty acids and vitamins.
You’ve seen oxidation occur … It’s the browning effect! For example, when you cut an apple and let it sit, what happens??? The apple turns brown.
Synthetic antioxidants are used for the same reason as natural antioxidants. They are added to food products in order to protect food against oxidative deterioration of vitamins and essential fatty acids, delay and detain unwanted and unusual odors, extend self-life, and lastly, hinder the production of toxic by-products.
Last thoughts: I hear apples taste even better with a little lemon… maybe you should try it… especially those folks who eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away … give your apple a little spunk … When life gives you lemons, squirt some on your cut apples … that means you gramps!
People that have allergies to anchovies, and consume this product, run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reactions. Thankfully, no health problems or illnesses have been reported yet. The new sauce bottles will have a “contain anchovies” sticker on them in order to inform their customers.
Now, I know this post may have been a bit boring … however, it’s important to keep yourself informed on these recalls, because you never know when it may pertain to one of your dietary constraints!
I’m here to inform you about food safety and food toxicology … which can be a bit boring at times! But stayed tuned, a bit more interesting posts are coming your way!!
Today I discovered two great Food and Drug Administration (FDA) YouTube videos!
Both videos teach you the ins-and-outs of food selection, storage, and preparation. The first video involves fruits and veggies, while the second video is all about fish.
To end your weekend, here’s a quick post about the mysterious ingredient …
Found naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree, quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria and was used therapeutically in the 17th century. Even today, quinine is used as a drug to cure malaria by killing the organisms that cause the disease.
Furthermore, quinine was once used for the treatment and prevention of night leg cramps. But, in 1994, the FDA banned the use of over-the-counter quinine for this purpose. Quinine may cause serious or life-threatening side effects, including severe bleeding, kidney damage, irregular heartbeat, and intense allergic reactions.
Although quinine is relatively poorly tested, pregnant ladies should avoid these products as they may cause birth defects (The Center for Science In the Public Interest).
Thankfully, the FDA limits the amount of quinine in tonic water due to the dangers of overconsumption. Once again, MODERATION is key!
P.S. To end my post, I would like to share my friend Johnny’s gin and tonic recipe …
MY FAVORITE: tons of tonic with a little gin, some crushed up strawberries, and a little sugar, and a lot of crushed ice! So refreshing! (a picture will hopefully be posted tomorrow!)
#2. Wild mushrooms are typically more flavorful than cultivated, but WAY more dangerous–too risky! Mushrooms are good replacements for meat because they have a very savory flavor. In addition, some mushrooms will pick up flavors from their soil, like wine grapes do. Furthermore, mushrooms are high in protein, high in fiber, 90% water, high in B vitamins and vitamin C, low in carbohydrates, have some essential fatty acids, and may also be high in MSG (more on this later).
#3. Fugu, a japanese delicacy, is a fancy name for prepared puffer fish–the most poisonous fish in the world. Puffer fish produce a deadly toxin, known as tetrodotoxin, which interferes with the nerve conduction by blocking sodium channels which causes a numbness if consumed in very, very tiny amounts… or can cause death within 17 minutes.
Allergic to fish?? Maybe not!
Named after the Scombridae family (Tuna, Bonito, Skipjack, Saury, Mackerel), this type of poisoning can involve any fish containing high levels of free histidine (Mahi-Mahi, Yellowtail, Bluefish, Herring, Sardines, Anchovies). Scombroid fish poisoning occurs when there’s bacterial growth on the fish due to poor preservation. These bacteria can breakdown the free histidines into histamines.
Thus, the symptoms of this poisoning, due to the effectiveness of antihistamines, are very similar to food allergy symptoms.
ERGO, you may not actually be allergic to fish … even if you think you are.
And lastly, to avoid scombroid poisoning, fish must be promptly refrigerated or eaten after capture. Histamine content can increase 1000 fold at room temperature for 10 hours.
This past weekend was not only Mother’s Day, but it was also The Whole Earth Festival. It’s a time when people from all over the Pacific Northwest come to Davis to frolic to the Bohemian music and sell and buy expensive, organic, homemade, recycled, earthy products. Not only is this a festival for the hippies and the un-showered folks from out of town, it’s the happiest place on earth for vegetarians and vegans. The quad is FILLED with ONLY vegan and vegetarian food options; not one item has meat!!!! There was even a RAW food stand. But raw food diets are not always good for you!
Lectin is a glycoprotein, in other words, sugar + protein. This natural toxin is found in plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. The plant sources include red kidney beans, castor beans, peas, lentils, sweat peas, and soybeans. In addition, the lectin toxin is found mostly in the seed of the plant.
More specifically, lectin binds to specific sugars on the surface of cells. And is considered to be a direct predecessor of the immune system. Lectin intoxication is usually associated with acute toxicity; including symptoms like gastrointestinal distress; however, coupled with a fast recovery (3-4 hours). Not all lectins are toxic but typically this toxin causes clumping of red blood cells, or hemagglutins.
Raw kidney beans contain 20,000 to 70,000 hemagglutinating units (hau) while fully cooked kidney beans only contain 200 to 400 hau.
This is also why some raw food diets are NOT so good for you!