Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It is not unusual for recalls of contaminated food items in our food supply to expand over time. But usually it happens fairly quickly (days) after the initial recall. Not in the case of the Thompson, Inc. recall of its Anytime Deli Turkey & Ham Footlong ready-made sandwiches.

This U.S. company issued a recall back on January 24 of this year (see my 3 posts of January 26 and 27). Now - almost three months later, it has had to expand it. Even worse, the bacteria found is that deadly Listeria monocytogenes which is so dangerous for pregnant women and others with a weak immune system (see earlier posts).

The following products with expiration dates from January 19th through May 2nd and lot number from 00112 through 10412 are being recalled:

Turkey & Ham Footlong UPC 0543200194
Italian Footlong UPC 0543200196
Classic Cuban UPC 0543200156

The sub sandwiches were distributed on January 2nd through April 13th to convenience and grocery stores nationwide under the labels Anytime Deli, Sandwich Central and Dandee (most have probably been eaten). All sandwiches are packaged in white butcher wrap.

If you are pregnant - make your own sandwiches! Even if you aren't, and value your health, avoid the pre-packaged ones.

To your good health,

Monday, April 16, 2012


We have another case of Salmonella bacteria contaminating the U.S. food supply. The previous one (that was caught, that is - many aren't) involved tuna fish. Now lettuce is taking a turn - which is much more common. Clearly, Salmonella season (the summer months) is beginning.

Dole Fresh Vegetables has recalled 756 cases of DOLE® Seven Lettuces salad with Use-by Date of April 11, 2012, UPC code 71430 01057 and Product Codes 0577N089112A and 0577N089112B. The salads were distributed in fifteen U.S. states (Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin).

As you can see from the photo, this is one of those increasingly popular "thoroughly washed" products. Sure - of course it has been washed. But, washing, even with added chemicals is not 100% effective (read The Safe Food Handbook to find out why).

Does rewashing help? Maybe sometimes. The research does not give a clear answer. But yes, raw salads quite often carry bacteria. If you eat them, just cross your fingers and hope there aren't enough really vicious bacteria in it to make you sick. (Confession: I love arugula).

To your good health,


Sunday, April 15, 2012


If you have read The Safe Food Handbook, you'll know that, much as we love it, sushi is not always all that safe. This especially applies to sushi made with raw fish, such as raw tuna. That is reportedly what was eaten by most of the 116 or more people in the U.S who have came down with Salmonella food poisoning, some of them hospitalized. Usually they ate “spicy tuna” sushi or sashimi in restaurants or bought it ready-made from grocery stores.

Here are the latest numbers on confirmed illnesses from this relatively unusual Salmonella Bareilly bacteria(remember - this will be only a small fraction of real numbers): Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (10), Louisiana (2), Maryland (11), Massachusetts (8), Mississippi (1), Missouri (2), New Jersey (7), New York (24), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (5), South Carolina (3), Texas (3), Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (12).

You may think that your ready-to-eat store-bought or restaurant-ordered spicy tuna sushi or sashimi was made from a nice block of chopped up tuna sushimi. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. It is quite likely that it was made with the cheapest tuna, scraped off the bone of the fish ("Nakaochi Scrape" or tuna backmeat). This is basically the fish equivalent of ground meat - the least safe kind.

Nakaochi tuna is the kind responsible for the present outbreak. The responsible company - Moon Marine USA Corporation (also known as MMI) of Cupertino, Calif. is recalling 58,828 lbs of a frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA (imported from who knows where). But it's doubtful most of it will ever be found or removed from the food supply. It has gone to other distributors and to restaurants and even to retail outlets in smaller and relabeled packages. That's industrialized food for you.

Just to be safe, you may want to avoid eating tuna sushi or sashimi for a while - both when eating out, or buying it ready-made, especially the "spicy tuna" kind.

To your good health,


Friday, April 13, 2012


In much of the United States we are about to enter the warm summer season, or, at least moving into spring. In the San Francisco area of California that is pretty hard to believe. Last night, during a particularly freezing storm (which included thunder and lightning) I had to cover my sprouting beans and orange blossoms. I think they survived, but I am afraid to go down to the garden to look.

Summer is also the time - anywhere in the world - when cases of food poisoning increase in numbers. The simple reason is that food just gets too warm, encouraging the bacteria to grow faster. A related reason is that we tend to eat outdoors more - at picnics, fairs, and similar places.

Eating food from street vendors or people selling food at fairs or farmers' markets is known to be risky. Many vendors do not have proper cooling or hand washing facilities. Nor do such vendors often wear rubber gloves or use tongs the way they should. (Take a careful look next time). Inspection in some countries - including parts of the United States - is very weak at best.

So look, here's the bottom line: if you have to eat food sold by vendors on the street or at fairs, only eat food that is cooked (well) in front of you. Pass on anything raw, including onions or lettuce or tomatoes on your hamburger. And make sure it is served properly - using tongs or gloves.

If you are eating your own picnic outdoors, use a cooler and keep the food in the shade until ready to eat. If the temperature is cool, think in terms of two hours at most. If it is a hot day (90°F or higher), reduce this time to one hour.


To your good health,