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Researchers have developed a spray-on barcode that can trace foodborne illnesses back to their source within an hour
This invention, utilized by could prevent thousands of people from falling ill every year.
The CDC estimates that approximately one in six Americans (48 million people) get sick from foodborne illnesses, 3,000 of whom die, every year. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have come up with a new invention that could help shrink that astronomical number: a spray-on barcode for fruits and vegetables that is not only able to detect contaminated food, but that also allows people to trace the contamination back to its source (even if it’s a farm thousands of miles away). The "DNA" can be sprayed onto the produce at any point during the supply chain, from farm to distributor.
The substance, called DNATrax, is entirely harmless and is made from, according to CBS, sugar and non-living, non-viable DNA. The spray is odorless and tasteless, and can make a serious impact on food safety. With just a simple (an usually inexpensive) DNA swab, the origins of the product, as well as its "purity" can be traced within an hour. The data, according to the scientists behind this innovation, can get super-specific, identifying “when [the produce] was picked, who picked it, and potentially which tree it came from."
In addition to sniffing out contaminated foods, the same technology can also be used to trace counterfeit or fraudulent food.
Raw Produce Is Still Safe To Eat Amid The Coronavirus Outbreak, But Here's How You Should Clean It
The news around the COVID-19 outbreak is constantly changing, but information about food safety and how to keep yourself healthy is crucial right now. Here is a comprehensive list on the foods you should be stocking up on during this period of social distancing, as well as information about your local grocery stores&rsquo changing hours, an explanation of &ldquono-contact delivery,&rdquo and a guide on how to help your community and its businesses throughout closures.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak it's more important than ever to practice good hygiene and proper food safety. This means, as always, washing your hands frequently, checking expiration dates, and making sure your food is cooked to a safe temperature. But when it comes to eating raw produce, things can seem a little dicier. Thankfully, it seems like the food safety rules you should have been following all along will hold up here.
First off, it's important to note that the FDA's current position is that "there is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19." Furthermore, they went on to say that there is "no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19."
Still, raw fruits and veggies obviously don't have the benefit of being heated up, which can kill bacteria and pathogens. You also obviously shouldn't wipe them down with disinfectant wipes like you can with packaged food. So here are a few tips you should follow.
VP of marketing at Naturipe Farms CarrieAnn Arias told us that first and foremost, when you get back from the grocery store, you need to wash your hands. You should also do it before you go. and after putting away your food.
Then, fruits and veggies should be rinsed with water. Yes, lots of running water is all you need.
"Washing your fruits and vegetables under running water is always recommended, even if it has a peel you will be discarding like our avocados," she said. "Don&rsquot use soap, detergents or bleach solutions. When it comes to berries, you will want to rinse in cool running water before serving."
This advice echos those given by other experts too, including chief culinary officer at Rouxbe Ken Rubin.
"The best practices for washing fruits and vegetables has not changed or been revised in light of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "The same principles that have always been true still apply."
Even with the threat of coronavirus, washing your produce with lots of water is all that's recommended, but if you really feel like you'd like an extra safety net, you can also use a vinegar and water solution made with three parts water and one part vinegar, as outlined in NPR, if you want them to be extra clean.
"If you are uneasy or uncertain, just buy varieties of produce that you can either peel at home (like bananas, oranges, mangoes or avocados) or choose products that you will cook," Rubin added.
As long as you wash your hands, avoid cross contamination, and only eat produce that does not show signs of spoilage, you can and should be eating fruits and veggies right now.
"Raw veggies and fruits are safe to eat, especially right now," Arias said. "They are packed with nutrition and essential vitamins that can aid in boosting our energy and immune system."
DE is a naturally occurring substance made from fossilized remains of organisms called diatoms.
Diatomaceous earth has many uses however, it makes a great caterpillar spray. Its abrasive qualities and incredible absorbing abilities allow it to dehydrate them.
Make a solution by combining 4 tablespoons of the product with 1 gallon of water. Shake until dissolved and douse the plant.
When dry, it will leave a powdery residue which is what will naturally kill them.
You can also sprinkle the powder directly on the ground around your plants and on the foliage.
The Clean 15: Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic
There are many reasons to buy organic foods. The USDA Organic label tells you that fruits and veggies weren't raised using manmade chemical pesticides, fossil fuel- or sewage-based fertilizers or genetically modified seeds. On meat, the label indicates that the feeds provided met those same standards, and that the animals weren't administered hormones and antibiotics. Bottom line: "Organic" is more sustainable and healthier -- for the environment and farm workers, certainly, and often for you and your family.
How is organic healthier? It's healthier because some studies suggest that organic produce has more nutrients than its conventional counterparts, probably because the soil is left in better condition after repeated plantings and healthier because you avoid ingesting any harmful pesticide residues left on conventional produce.
But, particularly as the economy sags and millions of Americans lose their jobs, it can be hard to afford the often-premium price charged for organic foods. That's why we've published this updated list, based on Environmental Working Group's latest compilation of government data about pesticide residue.
The fruits and vegetables on this list were the least likely to have pesticides detected on the parts you eat, after typical washing, whether or not they're certified organic. (Remember, though, that the farmworkers and the farm soil, will thank you for any organic purchases you can make.)
For a list of the foods most likely to be contaminated, see The Daily Green's feature Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods To Buy Organic.
Frozen sweet peas cracked the top five thanks to their squeaky-clean test results. Wondering about fresh sweet peas? "Based on our assessment, most frozen produce will have comparable levels of pesticide residues as fresh produce of the same type," Carla Burns, a research analyst at EWG and co-author of the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, tells us.
Whether you're tossing them into a stir-fry or using the allium to flavor soup, rest assured that buying non-organic onions isn't wreaking havoc on your health.
How common is salmonella infection?
Salmonella is commonly found in birds, in reptiles, in chickens, and in humans. There are more than 2,000 types of salmonella.
Every year, the CDC gets reports of about 40,000 cases of salmonella illnesses. The actual number of cases may be higher because not all cases get reported to the CDC. In fact, the CDC estimates that for every reported case, 38 cases go unreported.
An estimated 400 people per year die of acute salmonella infection, according to the CDC.
But the Salmonella Saintpaul strain is rare in humans. Last year, there were 400 reported cases. And last year there were only 25 cases of infection with the specific Saintpaul subtype causing the current outbreak.
Even though mushrooms grow from the ground, there's nothing about mushrooms that's "dirty." That is, once you get them properly cleaned off, of course. They're delicious in countless recipes and according to experts may even be a superfood to fight against COVID-19.
Cauliflower is a great source of fiber and can even help with weight loss. There are several other health benefits of eating cauliflower, which is great considering there are so many ways you can incorporate the fresh veggie into your diet. Riced cauliflower with roasted chicken anyone?
The kiwi may not be your first fruit choice, but since it's usually low in pesticides, it may be time to give it a try. The skin of a kiwi is actually edible and packs a lot of fiber—just make sure to rinse it under tap water for 15-20 seconds before digging in!
In addition to pesticides, potatoes are contaminated with fungicides.
Their soft skin is easily penetrated by contaminants.
Non-organic milk contains innumerable pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
Of course, we don’t recommend organic meat, as meat should be avoided regardless. But it is good for consumers to know that animals are dosed with hormones and antibiotics and fed pesticide-rich grains before they are slaughtered.
Following is a brief list of a few foods that are less likely to be heavily contaminated by pesticides:
- Sweet Corn (Frozen)
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Kiwi Fruit
The most important thing is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, eating organic whenever possible. Hopefully these lists can help you save money while still looking out for your well-being.
How to Keep Fruit Kabobs Fresh Overnight
Fruit kabobs are a fun way to serve cut fruit without the mess. It can take a long time to construct fruit kabobs, mainly because you have to prep the fruit before you skewer it. To save time, you can make fruit kabobs the night before you plan to serve them. To keep fruit kabobs fresh overnight, coat them in a layer of citric acid to prevent them from browning and losing their texture and consistency.
The 12 Most Pesticide-Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables Of 2015
Oh, how do you like them apples? The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit advocacy agency has released their list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables - and apples have been ranked as the most contaminated - fifth year in a row. The Dirty Dozen list includes the top 12 fruits and veggies with the highest amount of pesticide residues. The agency hopes to enlighten people so they study the list, stay away from this produce and go for the organic options instead, at least for these 12 items.
"The bottom line is people do not want to eat pesticides with their fruits and vegetables," said Ken Cook, EWG's president and co-founder. "That's why we will continue telling shoppers about agricultural chemicals that turn up on their produce and we hope we will inform, and ultimately, empower them to eat cleaner."
According to a statement, the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranked pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of more than 34,000 samples taken by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and federal Food and Drug Administration. It was found that pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed or peeled.
This can't be good, especially when pesticides have been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, developmental problems and lower IQ in children.
"We are saying, eat your fruits and vegetables," said Sonya Lunder, EWG's senior analyst. "But know which ones have the highest amounts of pesticides so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable."
99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
98 percent of peaches tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
Similarly, 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
A single sample of strawberry showed 13 different pesticides a piece.
A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides.
It ranked sixth on this year's list of Dirty Dozen.
This leafy veggie dropped to seventh this year, from sixth last year.
A single sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
It ranked ninth on last year's Dirty Dozen list too.
Single samples of cherry tomatoes showed 13 different pesticides.
11. Snap peas - imported
Like strawberries and cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas also showed 13 different pesticides.
The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
Under Dirty Dozen +
EWG says the Dirty Dozen + category focuses on food that contains trace levels of highly dangerous pesticides. Though these don't meet the Dirty Dozen ranking criteria, they are contaminated with insecticides that are deadly to the human nervous system. Leafy greens - kale and collard greens - and hot peppers feature in this list.
14. Kale / Collard greens
Research conducted by USDA scientists in 2007-2008 found 51 pesticides on kale and 41 pesticides on collard greens. Several of those pesticides -famoxadone, dieldrin, oxydemeton, chlorpyrifos , DDE and esfenvalerate are extremely toxic.
Though farmers would have altered their pesticide practices since 2008, esfenvalerate and chlorpyrifos are still allowed on leafy greens. Likewise, Organochlorine pesticides DDE and dieldrin were banned a few years ago but still linger on your greens even today. Organophosphates pesticides - which are potent neurotoxins - can damage children's intelligence, brain development and nervous systems even in low doses.
How to Stay Safe
Shop smart and buy organic whenever you can. It's always a good idea to shop from Local farmers' markets.
A study by Cynthia Curl of the University of Washington found that people who "often or always" buy organic produce had significantly less organophosphate insecticides in their system even though they reported eating 70 percent more servings of fruits and vegetables per day than adults who said they "rarely or never" purchase organic produce.
Source and information: The Environmental Working Group. To know more, please visit EWG's website