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Food News


THIS SECTION IS FOR NEWS AND INTERESTING STORIES RELATED TO FOOD, NUTRITION AND FOOD PROCESSING. THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO KOSHER BUT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO THE KOSHER CONSUMER, MANUFACTURER OR MASHGIACH.

Spate of recalls doesn't mean food is more risky: expert

June 8, from the CBC Canada:
Recently there have been a lot of "recalls have involved a range of foods, including granola and other grain products, frozen vegetables and salad greens."
Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food safety at Cornell was intereviewed by the CBC:
"And he says we really are seeing far more food recalls and outbreaks these days. "But that doesn't mean our food is less safe," he noted.
"It's the opposite. What happened over the last 20 years and really accelerated over the last two years is the use of completely new DNA fingerprinting tools to detect disease outbreaks," he said.
"Today, we are 100 times more likely to detect an outbreak than we were 20 years ago."
Salad is not more 'risky' than raw milk because fewer people consume raw milk than lettuce.
"Most recalls are precautionary and the products haven't actually made anyone sick."
" 148 shares Canadians have seen a spate of food recalls lately, thanks to possible Listeria and E. coli contamination. The recalls have involved a range of foods, including granola and other grain products, frozen vegetables and salad greens. Quaker Harvest brand granola bars recalled over Listeria concerns Listeria recall: frozen foods list for Canada Listeriosis outbreak in packaged salad highlights risk of lettuce If it seems to you like these recalls are a dime a dozen these days, you're not imagining things, says Martin Wiedmann. He's a professor of food safety at Cornell University's food science department. And he says we really are seeing far more food recalls and outbreaks these days. "But that doesn't mean our food is less safe," he noted. "It's the opposite. What happened over the last 20 years and really accelerated over the last two years is the use of completely new DNA fingerprinting tools to detect disease outbreaks," he said. "Today, we are 100 times more likely to detect an outbreak than we were 20 years ago." Cornell University's Martin Wiedmann Cornell University food safety expert Martin Wiedmann says we're seeing more food recalls thanks to better testing. (Jason Koski/Cornell University) Health officials have developed a system to track the genetic makeup of salmonella, Listeria and E.coli. Once a food-related illness outbreak is identified, scientists can match the DNA from contaminated food with the bacteria making people sick, and potentially trace it to the originating food processing plant. Is salad more 'risky' than raw milk? A lot of the recalls we're seeing now seem to apply to foods that aren't traditionally associated with bacterial contamination, like granola. But traditional wisdom, and modern public health rules, steer at-risk consumers (including children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system) away from unpasteurized cheese. Pregnant women are told to avoid sushi. And hold off on pre-sliced deli meat, health officials say, because it might be tainted with Listeria. In light of that long list of recalls, and the fact that we're detecting more outbreaks, shouldn't they also be steering us away from salad and cantaloupes? After all, based on the recalls, they might sound like risky foods. Wiedmann says that's not really so. He points to the reason we see few cases of issues arising from raw milk consumption as an example of why. "Much, much fewer people consume raw milk," he said. "So we don't hear much about raw milk outbreaks. But we hear about outbreaks with lettuce, so [people think] lettuce must be less safe. Quite the opposite, because you need to consider the total amount of the food produced — what is your chance of getting sick from eating one of these servings." Most recalls precautionary Wiedmann also points out tha. A recall isn't the same as an outbreak. In most cases, food recalls are precautionary, and the products haven't actually made anyone sick."
"We call them outbreaks now because we can easily link a specific product in California, for example, with a handful of sick people in separate provinces or states, thanks to the DNA fingerprinting Wiedmann mentioned."
"The bottom line, he says, is that those high-risk products health officials advise against, like unpasteurized cheese, are actually riskier than the products making news headlines."
"It's just not like 'risk' or 'no-risk.' There's a gradation... And then somewhere in the middle, someone puts a line," he said.
"And that line is arbitrary, because no food is risk free."

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