Foodborne Illness: It’s Not Just about Meat, Poultry and Seafood

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the stuff of healthy diets, so it may surprise you to know that fresh produce can be implicated in foodborne illness.  Salmonella, Listeria and other foodborne pathogens can contaminate your salad ingredients just as they can contaminate meats, poultry and seafood. Recently, imported cucumbers from Mexico were reported to be


Disinfesting Bed Bugs

A resurgence in bed bug infestations since around 2000 is making travelers wary of hotel beds, and not just lumpy mattresses in budget hotels.  Bed bugs travel the world secreted in luggage and clothing; they respect no boundaries, infesting everything from low-cost housing to five-star hotels. Bed Bug Life Stages In contrast to surfaces harboring


Avoiding Plant Disease in the Backyard Vegetable Garden

In springtime, hope springs eternal for a bountiful harvest from the backyard vegetable garden.  One risk to productivity, however, is pathogens (disease-causing microbes) transferred from contaminated planting pots and garden tools to vegetables, a form of cross-contamination.  Here are some tips for avoiding crop loss due to cross-contamination. Recycle Planting Pots, Not Pathogens Do you


Drinking Water and Chlorine Smell

How would you describe the taste and odor of your tap water? “A rich bouquet earthy flavors“? “Sulfurous aroma with a hint of chlorine”? Or “simply divine”? The aesthetic properties of your tap water depend upon your local natural water supply source, how your water is treated, and how it is delivered to you.  


Introducing the CDC Model Aquatic Health Code

This summer, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the availability of the first edition of its Model Aquatic Health Code. “The MAHC,” as it is known, provides free guidance on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of public swimming pools and spas. Why is such a document needed? As CDC notes


Norovirus Season: It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over

Norovirus—sometimes dubbed “the stomach bug” – is making notable appearances around the nation as winter gives way to spring. Alexandria, Virginia schools closed their doors in recent days to disinfect in an effort to stem outbreaks. Virginia students on a class trip to New York City were hospitalized after becoming sick at a performance of


The Thanksgiving Cook’s Quiz

Calling all cooks: As Thanksgiving approaches, you are invited to test your knowledge of safe food handling with this quiz: 1. Which of the following should all Thanksgiving cooks assume as they begin dinner preparations? a. All guests will arrive on time. b. The raw turkey is contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria. c. The mashed


Is There Good Chemistry in Your Pool?

This summer many of us will spend some “down time” cooling off in a pool. Whether the pool is in your backyard, your community, or your vacation spot, chemistry is at your service to help ensure that your pool experience is a healthy one. Within seconds of application, chlorine-based pool sanitizers destroy most of the


That White Film on Baby Carrots: Myth and Fact

There is no truth to the myth that the whitish film on baby cut carrots is a chlorine residue from carrot processing. Myth:  The white film noticed occasionally on baby carrots is a chlorine residue from carrot processing that presents a cancer health risk to consumers. Fact:  The white film in question, sometimes referred to


New Tools to Help Reduce the Spread of Norovirus

Each year an estimated 20 million Americans are sickened by a highly contagious virus that usually turns up in force in late fall and hangs around until early spring. Norovirus, aka the “stomach bug,” “winter vomiting disease,” or “stomach flui” is an uninvited guest at nursing homes, schools, holiday parties, and wherever people congregate.  It