Friday, September 24, 2010
This year has seen recalls of trusted brands- Johnson and Johnson (Benydryl) and Abbott (Similac). We have had eggs recalled, spinach recalled, peanut butter recalled and meat recalled.
Many of the recalls are for poor manufacturing practices leading to bacterial contamination. Others are for products with unlabeled allergens. Many are for dietary supplements with scary sounding non-dietary ingredients ("6-Etioallochol-1,4-Diene-3,17-Dione, also known as ATD, an aromatase inhibitor").
How do you stay on top of all them? Try what I do, subscribe to the FDA recalls. I get an email once a day with product recalls. This is one way that you will hear about all recalls without relying on the news. This is especially important if you have kids with allergies as those labeling recalls don't make it to the press.
Go to http://www.fda.gov/ and look to the right and you will find where to subscribe to email alerts.
How do you minimize your risk?
1. Avoid bagged salads. These veggies have a lot of handling prior to bagging and then those plastic bags work like little incubators to allow any bacteria to grow. Organic may limit pesticide exposure but it will not limit bacteria exposure.
2. Avoid sprouts in containers. These are favorites of bacteria. Sprout your own , super-easy. Get a jar, a piece of screen or cheesecloth. Put in a tablespoons of alfalfa seeds or beans (check your natural foods stores, many sell these for sprouting). Secure the cheesecloth or screen. Pour in some water, rinse daily and watch them grow.
3. Use a different cutting board for produce and meats/fish/chicken. Get those silicone boards in different colors and reserve boards for each type of food. Make sure to wash your hands after touching raw meat and use a different knife for raw meat, cooked meat and produce.
4. Eat only well cooked eggs. The days of eating raw cookie dough are over. If you need to use raw eggs in a recipe such as Aoli sauce, there are pasteurized eggs available in the refrigerator section at many markets.
5. Avoid raw milk. Raw milk may be a wonderful food with many magical properties but in our society today, it can also be a poison. Raw milk is from cows on farms and usually there is more than one cow. So just like in preschool, a couple of kids leads to infections, so is true with milk. More cows, more risk. Then the transport may allow for those bacteria to grow so by the time that milk touches your lips, it may be full of undesirables. As with eggs, you want raw eggs, buy a chicken you want raw milk buy a cow (or goat).
6. "Natural" or "Organic" does not protect you. Remember the recent peanut butter recall? That included products from Little Debbie cookies to organic and natural energy bars found at stores like Whole Foods. Unpasteurized organic juices also pose risks.
7. Refrigerate foods that need refrigeration. Don't leave foods out, bacteria love warm and moist.