Category Archives: Article

Leftover Rice Risks from Lifehacker

One of my former roommates was a straight edge punk-loving vegan for a while. Now he eats meat and drinks beer, but for a while he survived on rice and sriracha. Sometimes he left his steamed rice out overnight – making some egg-free fried rice the next day. This was before either of us knew much about Bacillus cereus and rice.

Earlier this week Claire Lower from Lifehacker emailed a couple of questions about leftover rice safety. The Lifehacker folks often ask really good questions about the science and why behind food safety recommendations – Claire included. Claire wanted to know why some guidelines say not to leave rice out on the stove over night.

I sent Claire a couple of papers including this one which is an oldie (1974), but a goodie from Gilbert and colleagues which included this awesome B. cereus spore/vegetative cell growth figure (right, exactly as shown) highlighting an increase of a log or more within 4 hours once in vegetative state.

We looped Don into our discussion and he pointed out the somewhat common practice of boiled and then fried rice in some Asian cooking techniques.


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Almond Milk vs Cow Milk vs Soy Milk vs Rice Milk

Not too long ago, when being a milkman was a career option, the only thing you could expect to drown your cereal in was whole cow’s milk. Now, dairy milk comes in all sorts of varieties: whole milk, 2 percent, 1 percent, skim (fat-free), and even lactose-free milk.

For those with dietary or allergy concerns, there are also alternatives to cow’s milk. Almond, soy, and rice milk are popular alternatives to dairy, and they’re becoming even more available in stores across the U.S.

Each type of milk has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on a person’s diet, health, nutritional needs, or personal taste preferences.

For example, people in key development years — children over two, teens, and pregnant women — need proteins, vitamin D, and calcium. These are abundant in dairy milk. On the other hand, people who need to watch their calories or cholesterol — for weight reasons or heart health problems — should look to other options. Whole dairy milk contains more calories and cholesterol than any other milk.

In looking at the differences in these popular types of milks, you can determine which best suits your needs.

Dairy Milk

Dairy Milk

Whole milk is cow’s milk with none of the fat removed. It contains 8 grams of fat per cup, 8.5 percent nonfat milk solids, and 88 percent water. As none of the milk’s natural components are removed, it is high in natural proteins, fat, calcium, and vitamin D.

Other dairy milk has some or all of the fat removed. While whole milk has 150 calories in one cup, 1 percent milk has 110 calories, and skim milk has just 80 calories. Fat-free milk has all of the nutritional benefits of whole milk — a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals — without the saturated fat and calories, though absorption of some vitamins may be reduced due to the lack of fat.

Lactose-free milk is processed to break down lactose, a natural sugar found in milk products. As with other milks, lactose-free milk is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals. The fat and cholesterol content of lactose-free milk varies, as it comes in 2 percent, 1 percent, and fat-free varieties.

The 3 Best Things About Dairy Milk

  • Whole milk can provide essential proteins and extra calories from fats as well as vitamins and minerals for infants and the elderly
  • Lactose-free versions are available for people who are lactose intolerant
  • Widely available in grocery stores and convenience stores, including grass-fed and low-heat pasteurized milk options

Con: Those that are not fat-free are high in saturated fat and calories, which is bad news for people with heart problems, high cholesterol, or those who are trying to lose weight. Dairy milk is also a common allergen for babies, children, and adults.

To read the rest of the article from Healthline, click HERE.

Osteoporosis: Nutrition and Children

When you hear osteoporosis, you often think of aging adults and their bone health. “Osteoporosis is a major cause of morbidity and economic burden around the world. By the year 2020, it is estimated that half of Americans 50 years of age or older will be at risk for osteoporotic fractures,” according to researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Osteoporosis Quick Facts:

  • Osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually (that’s a fracture every 3 seconds)
  • It is estimated that osteoporosis affects 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan
  • By 2025, the estimated number of hip fractures occurring worldwide in men will be similar to that observed in women in 1990
  • Smoking can lead to a lower bone density and a higher risk of fracture
  • Childhood and adolescence are particularly valuable times to improve bone mass through exercise

The foundation for this condition is rooted in childhood and adolescence, when preventative measures can be taken.

Nutrition in Childhood

The primary source of nutrition for infants should be human milk (or instant formula, if human milk is not attainable). After this stage of life, dietary calcium comes from milk and other dairy products, which will account for 70-80% of calcium intake.

“Based on their report, the researchers recommend that pediatricians advise children and adolescents to increase daily consumption of calcium and foods and beverages containing vitamin D, which includes nonfat milk and low-fat yogurts” (Medical News Today).

Medical News Today also says that, “as part of their report, they say routine calcium supplementation is not advised for healthy children but that increased dietary intake is strongly encouraged.

To learn more about milk and it’s alternatives, here is a helpful article.


Medical News Today —

International Osteoporosis Foundation —

“Stick Sponge” Environmental Sampling Tutorial

The sponge stick method is very popular in environmental sampling. Here’s what you need to know so your sample is safe and packaged correctly.

The sponge stick allows collection without directly handling the sponge, which causes contamination of the sample.

In regards to breaking off the “stick” part of the stick sponge, here is a helpful and quick tutorial video:

It is of upmost importance that the stick has been completely removed. If it is broken at any point other than at the base of the sponge, there is increased risk of puncturing the tie-off bag, which will ultimately affect the test.

Happy sampling!

Food For Thought: The Federal GMO Labeling Law

For several years, legislative bodies throughout the country have struggled with the issue of whether to label food products as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or bioengineered food. Congress and various states have wrestled with whether to require foods containing GMOs to be labeled as such, and, if so, what the label should look like.

In July 2016, Congress voted to pass a GMO disclosure bill, establishing national standards for food labeling when foods contain GMO ingredients (with certain exceptions). On July 29, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law (GMO Labeling law). While proposed federal legislation in 2015 would have made GMO labeling only a voluntary program, the new GMO Labeling law—the result of bipartisan congressional compromise—makes GMO labeling mandatory. The law also preempts individual state GMO labeling laws.

Although the GMO Labeling law provides information about the different ways companies will be permitted to disclose GMO ingredients, it leaves the specific regulations implementing the law to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish by July 2018. Therefore, some uncertainty about the details of the new law remains for food companies, industry groups and consumers. It also remains to be seen how, if at all, the new law and the buzz surrounding it will cause some companies to modify any prior decisions to label GMO-containing products. Additionally, will the law impact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s highly anticipated definition of the term “natural” in food labeling? Significantly, will the new presidential administration affect implementation of the law, and if so, how? The GMO Labeling law begins a new chapter of the GMO labeling saga, but the tale is far from over.

What Does the New Law Say?
The secretary of agriculture, as head of USDA, is tasked with promulgating the specific GMO labeling regulations, including determining 1) which foods will be considered “bioengineered” and subject to the labeling requirements and 2) the specific ways a company can disclose GMOs on its labels. But the GMO Labeling law requires that disclosure be made on a food label through one of the following ways: text, a symbol or picture, a hotline consumers can call to receive GMO information or a bar code that links to a website displaying GMO information for the product.

Read More at Food Safety Magazine

Fast Food Chain Wendy’s Making Strides with Food Suppliers, Antibiotics, Sustainable Beef and More

This week, The Wendy’s Company released its 2016 update on significant corporate social responsibility initiatives, including plans for continued progress in 2017. In terms of food safety, Wendy’s says they have made significant strides in the following respects:

Implements a Supplier Code of Conduct

The Wendy’s Supplier Code of Conduct was rolled out in early 2016 to the nearly 300 suppliers that provide food, paper and packaging to the Wendy’s U.S. system, and includes suppliers based in the U.S. and internationally. Wendy’s achieved 100% acknowledgement of the Code by May 2016 and requires an annual reaffirmation. Looking ahead: the Company will continue to expand the Supplier Code of Conduct to incorporate evolving best practices in the U.S. and internationally related to environmental and social responsibility, and to include additional categories of suppliers such as professional service providers.

Strengthens Antibiotics Policy

Building on a multi-year effort to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics in its supply chain, Wendy’s made a commitment to remove antibiotics important to human health from its chicken supply by the end of 2017, while remaining committed to the necessary treatment of sick animals. To date, 50% of the Wendy’s U.S. chicken supply is raised without medically important antibiotics. Looking ahead: the Company will transition 100% of its chicken supply to be raised without medically important antibiotics, and will announce specific commitments for pork and beef in 2017.


Read More at Food Safety Magazine

Corn, milk proteins make medicine easier to swallow

Developing medications for children can be challenging — taste and texture are important, but safety is also a major concern, according to pharmaceutical sciences professor Om Perumal at South Dakota State University. As co-founder and chief scientific officer of Tranzderm Solutions, he is adapting his corn protein-based drug delivery method to oral pediatric formulations.

“Our core technology is the same, but we’ve refined it and are finding new ways to utilize it,” said Perumal. His patented drug delivery system uses zein, a protein found in dried distillers grain, a co-product of ethanol production, to encapsulate the medication. The nanoparticles are approximately 500 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

To apply to oral pediatric formulations, Perumal explained, “We’ve modified the nanoparticles by coating them with milk proteins.” explained Perumal. “Our idea is to use products kids like.”

Providing federal incentive

Before 1998, about 70 percent of the drugs used for children had not undergone clinical testing for the newborn to 17-year-old population, according to the National Institutes of Health Medline Plus.

“Drugs behave differently in children than adults,” Perumal explained. However, the pharmaceutical industry did not have much incentive to do the testing because the pediatric medications make up only 10 percent of the pharmaceutical market.

To encourage the development of drugs customized for children, the federal government in 2002 passed the Best Pharmaceutical for Children’s Act. It grants incentives to drug companies conducting Food and Drug Administration-requested pediatric studies.

Read More at Science Daily

The Truth Behind The 5-Second Rule

Growing up, almost everyone has heard of the “5-second rule,” also known as the five “safe” seconds to pick your food up off of the floor while it’s still safe to eat.

Naturally, it’s too good to be true. No matter how fast you pick your fallen portion up off the floor, you’re picking up any given number of bacteria along with it.

Research by the Centers for Disease Control found that, “surface cross-contamination was the sixth most common contributing factor out of 32 in outbreaks of food-borne illnesses” (NY Times).

Donald Schaffner, a microbiologist and professor at Rutgers University said that, “the 5-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food… Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously” (Live Science).

Are different types of food more vulnerable?

Absolutely. Bacteria will cling to items with a high moisture rate. According to the Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal, factors that influence the transfer of bacteria from surface to surface and have been shown to affect cross contamination rates are:

  • The type of bacteria,
  • The source and destination surfaces,
  • Time postinoculation, and
  • Moisture level

Put simply, bacteria will saturate items such as watermelon, other fruits or any “wet” foods more rapidly than they will attach to gummy candy, cookies or “dry” foods.

There is some truth to the 5-second rule, hence why it originated. Reduced contact time with any given surface corresponds with the amount of bacteria transferred. So the difference between 5 seconds and 5 minutes is significant when it comes to bacteria transfer. The longer the time in contact with the floor, the more “contaminated” the item is. There’s just no such thing as no bacteria transfer because the item was picked up in the first five seconds.

Does the type of surface matter?


According to the study at Rutgers University, “carpet had a very low rate of transmission of bacteria compared with tile and stainless steel; transfer rates from wood varied” (NY Times).

No matter the surface, bacteria will still be transferred.

So, to eat or not to eat before five-seconds? That one’s ultimately on you.


Montville, R., and D. W. Schaffner. “Inoculum Size Influences Bacterial Cross Contamination between Surfaces.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69.12 (2003): 7188–7193. PMC. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Mele, Christopher. “‘Five-Second Rule’ for Foods on Floor is Untrue, Study Finds.” The New York Times. Retrieved from

Rettner, Rachael. “Still Good? 5-Second Rule a Myth, Study Finds.” Live Science. Retrieved from

Nuts over Nutella

Ah, the classic Nutella spread. Part chocolate, part hazelnut, and just 200 calories of pure deliciousness. Or is it 100 calories? Do you classify your serving as 1 tablespoon or 2? That’s what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to know.

Nutella is currently classified as a dessert topping. The serving size is two tablespoons which is equivalent to 200 calories on the Nutella jar. If it were reclassified as a spread (the same category as honey, jam, and fruit butter), the label would read 100 calories for 1 tablespoon.

Angela Chen from The Verge writes that, “100 calories per tablespoon could make people think it’s healthier than it is. People are already bad at reading food labels. We often don’t keep track of how much we eat and are easily tricked by a small number next to the “calorie” box — which is exactly what would happen in this case.”

Nutella is commonly consumed as a dessert topping. It acts as a savory spread, topping, or dip for items such as bread, bagels, ice cream, or pretzels. It is chocolaty, rich, and creamy which is why it falls into the same category as other dessert toppings like frosting and whipped cream.

Why would Ferrero (the Italian parent company of Nutella) want to consider it a jam spread? The “lower” calorie number would most likely attract customers and boost sales.

The FDA opened the floor for comments for 60 days regarding whether the popular shelf item should be listed as a dessert topping or a jam based solely on the amount the typical person eats in a single serving. So going back to the original question, 1 tablespoon or 2?

The FDA’s public commenting period closed January 3, 2017.


Is Nutella a Dessert Topping or a Spread? The FDA Wants to Know. Retrieved from

Why the FDA wants to know how much Nutella you scoop out of the jar. Retrieved from

Juicing is healthy, but easily contaminated by pathogens

So many fruits. So many veggies. So little time.

That’s the dilemma that people who want to eat as healthy as possible face. After all, who really has the time to eat the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits or vegetables — 2 1/2 cups of veggies and two cups of fruit — each and every day.  Even nutrition experts agree that eating that many servings each day can be a challenge.

“Quite a leap from the typical American diet, which includes a mere cup and a half of veggies and one cup of fruit per day,” says USDA.

That’s where juicing comes into the picture. Juicing advocates say it’s a great way to toss some fresh fruits and veggies into a juicer, and voila  — a concentrated version of the nutrients, all in a glass of what hopefully is a delicious concoction.

Or as Kris Carr, New York Times best-selling author and wellness advocate, puts it: “By removing the fiber, all of the nutrients in the plant’s juice — vitamins, minerals, enzymes — instantly flood our bodies with goodness.”

And she points out that even those with the heartiest of appetites would find it challenging to consume the same amount of raw vegetables and fruits with a fork.

Read More at Food Safety News