Monthly Archives: July 2016

Keep your food and stay healthy for it

Do you tune into the news just to find out which food is the latest addition to the “don’t eat” list? Before you continue to shun peanut butter, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and other foods that have been caused foodborne illness at some point over the last few years, find out what you can do to help improve food safety.

Food Safety: What Is There to Worry About?

The U.S. government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), works to prevent and investigate cases of food contamination. The FDA, for example, has a Food Protection Plan focusing on preventing contaminated food from hitting U.S. supermarkets and quickly intervening if contaminated foods do make it to market.

Despite the regulations and controls, however, sometimes food can still come into contact with harmful germs, presenting a food safety issue. And if certain foods, such as raw chicken, aren’t handled in a safe manner, they can quickly contaminate other foods, like nearby fruits and vegetables on your kitchen counter, and lead to illness.

With the recent salmonella scares involving seemingly wholesome foods, what’s really safe to eat?

Salmonella and other food contamination scares shouldn’t make you afraid to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. You can’t spot contaminated food just by looking at it — unless it has obvious mold or rot, but you can be more careful about how you choose the foods that you buy, and how you store and prepare foods.

Be a Smart Food Shopper

Some foods are more likely than others to be contaminated with germs. Likely culprits include:

  • Eggs
  • Foods that contain raw eggs
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Dairy products, including milk
  • Unpasteurized milk and juice
  • Vegetables and fruits

doesn’t mean that all of these foods are going to be contaminated, just that they are more susceptible to contamination. To insure food safety to as great a degree as possible, follow these tips:

  • Seal and store. Wrap steak, hamburger, chicken, fish, and other meats in plastic bags and store them separately from other foods — to keep potentially contaminated juices from seeping into the other foods.
  • Examine packaged foods. Don’t buy dented cans, jars with loose lids or cracks, or any packaged food with a broken seal.
  • Inspect eggs. Never buy eggs that aren’t refrigerated or those with cracks in the shells.
  • Keep cold food cold. Save the refrigerated and frozen food sections for the end of your shopping trip — make milk, eggs, and other refrigerated products the last things you put into your cart.
  • Keep hot food hot. Pick up prepared or hot foods at the end of your shopping trip, too, just before you check out.

Food Storage and Safety at Home

Do you sometimes leave the groceries on the counter while you take care of a few other chores? Do you leave leftovers on the stove for an hour or two after dinner? You could be contaminating food in your own home. To decrease that risk, follow these smart food storage guidelines:

  • Put groceries away right away. This is especially important for frozen and refrigerated items; get them in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home.
  • Thaw properly. Allow frozen meats to thaw in the refrigerator or defrost them in the microwave, rather than at room temperature.
  • Cook meat all the way through. Use a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached an internal temperature hot enough to kill any potential bacteria.
  • Put leftovers away promptly. Eat leftovers within two or three days.
  • When in doubt, toss it out. Don’t eat food that you think might have already gone bad.

The benefit of water filter

Are you concerned about the water quality in your home, or do you yearn for better tasting water from your kitchen faucet?

First, consider whether you really need a water purification system in your home. More than 90 percent of the water supply in the United States is safe to drink from the tap, according to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

However, some people may need to consider a water purification system to improve water quality in their homes for health safety reasons, including those who have:

  • A high level of lead in their water, as shown by water testing
  • A high level of a contaminant in their water, such as radon in water from a well
  • An extremely compromised immune system, such as those with HIV or who are on chemotherapy

Water purification systems can help to eliminate contaminants that can make you sickor affect the taste or feel of your water supply. Water filter systems may be able to remove:

  • Microbes, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, such as cryptosporidium and giardia
  • Lead
  • Radon
  • Radium
  • Nitrates
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • Byproducts of the disinfection process

Water Filter Options

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on a water filter system. Look for a water purification or filter system that has been certified to meet standards of water quality set by the EPA, as well as one that meets your specific needs. Not every system can remove every contaminant. If you’re concerned about a particular contaminant, like bacteria or radon, find the water filter system that works best at removing that particular contaminant from your water supply.

A water purification system can be either point of use (POU), meaning it filters the water at the particular faucet it is attached to, or point of entry (POE), in which the water supply is filtered as it comes into your home so that you have purified water at every faucet. The system might include a filter, a piece of material that “catches” contaminants like microbes and chemicals in the water, or it might remove or destroy contaminants in another manner.

Point-of-entry water filter options include:

  • Water softeners. A water softener uses an exchange system to correct water “hardness.” Tap water contains calcium and magnesium, which can make the water very hard. This water filter uses sodium or potassium ions to replace the calcium and magnesium ions, which makes the water softer.
  • Aerators. These water filter devices use jets of air to remove certain chemicals, like radon and chemical components of gasoline.
  • Adsorptive media or water filtration. These are often carbon-based filtering systems that trap both solids and liquids in the material of the filter.

Top Tips for Health and Safey

The loveable Disney fish Nemo and the less endearing Captain Nemo will now share their names with a potentially devastating snowstorm. For those in the northeastern United States, the problem has shifted from finding Nemo to avoiding Nemo as the winter storm rolls in.

Many in the Northeast have already begun to prepare with the memories of Super Storm Sandy’s destruction still fresh in their minds. Here are some tips for those still looking to make last-minute preparations:

Stock up on gas, food, batteries, and other supplies. Sandy left many cars without gas and homes without power. If you haven’t restocked your supply cabinets, now’s the time to make sure you have several days supply of food and bottled water, plus flashlights and batteries. Lines are already forming at some gas stations, and they could get a lot worse before they get better. Try and have one full tank of gas ready to go in case of an emergency.

Check your heating systems. The U.S. Center for Disease Control’s website recommends that you “have a safe alternate heating source” — like a clean fireplace or portable space heater. They also recommend checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Dress appropriately to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. If you have to go outside, make sure to wear a winter coat, hat, boots and gloves. Don’t touch snow without wearing gloves, and remember that frostbite most often affects the parts of your body not covered by clothing. The risk of contracting hypothermia or being frostbitten increases the longer you are outside.

Be careful when using a snow blower. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, snow-blower accidents are responsible for more than 5,700 annual injuries requiring emergency room visits.

“Keep hands and fingers out of the snow-blower mechanism whether it’s running OR turned off,” said R. Michael Koch, M.D., chief of the microsurgery and replantation service at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, in a press release.

Dr. Koch also recommends wearing thick gloves, paying careful attention when operating the blower, and taking advantage of safety devices built into most snow blowers.

Take precautions while shoveling snow. Using a shovel might seem safer than using a snow blower, but both carry risks. Drinking water, avoiding caffeine and nicotine, and lightening the amount of snow per lift can help you clean your driveway and sidewalks pain-free. Remember, snow can be heavy, and shoveling can be a form of weight lifting. If you have heart problems, consider hiring someone to shovel for you. Overworking yourself can lead to severe consequences, such as heart attacks.

Avoid driving in the snow. The CDC recommends avoiding travel when the weather service has issued advisories. According to icyroadsafety.com, there were 477 deaths due to icy road conditions during the 2008-2009 winter season and 458 deaths during the 2009-2010 season. A major storm like Nemo could inflate those numbers. If you must drive, wait until after snow plows have driven through and cleaned the roads in your town.

Have extra medication ready. If you are living with a chronic condition, like diabetes orhigh blood pressure, medication is a constant need. Nemo could leave a lot of people snowed in, so make sure you have extra supplies of necessary medications.