Friday, December 18, 2015

10 Cool Things the Kitchen of the Future Will Do

Newswise, December 18, 2015—When the next generation of home cooks go to their kitchens, they’ll be entering a world of interconnected smart appliances, 3-D printers, and touchscreen controls that will simplify food preparation, create customized meal solutions, and produce far less waste. 

In the December issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), associate editor Melanie Zanoza Bartelme writes about some cool features that the kitchen of the future will offer.

1. Appliances will be wired to actively monitor their contents and reorder when it senses supplies are running low. Products that are near their expiration dates would be moved closer to the front.
2. Each family member can print the dinner they want when they want using a countertop 3-D printer that takes account likes and dislikes, food allergies and nutritional needs.
3. Induction cooktops using magnetic energy and compatible pans will heat up only the pan placed on it; the rest of the surface can be safely used for other tasks.
4. At the touch of a button, counters, sinks and cooking surfaces can move up or down appealing to the height of people sharing a kitchen as well those with disabilities. Stoves can be moved up so children don’t hurt themselves, while the sink can be lowered so they can easily wash their hands.
5. Integration facial recognition technology will make it so that the kitchen can automatically set itself to a combination of desired settings—from counter height to ambient lighting to background music—as soon as the user is home.
6. Virtual chefs will be projected directly into consumers’ kitchens to guide their cooking.
7. Integrated systems will read data from fitness-monitoring devices and suggest meals appropriate to certain situations, such as muscle recovery after a strenuous workout.
8. Sinks would come equipped with a finger sensor that could read users’ hydration levels, dispensing water when it’s needed.
9. Video monitoring will help consumers see exactly what they have and systems that are linked to ovens and stoves will create recipes that use the meal preparation ingredients that are expiring.
10. A fridge will use ultraviolet light to sterilize food within it, keeping it safe from spoilage. A blast chiller instantly takes leftovers out of the danger zone where bacteria thrive.

Read the article in Food Technology here

Check out 10 New Tools for the Foodie’s Kitchen on FutureFood2050 here
About IFT

Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit

Food Technology Magazine Editors Share Top 10 Food Trend Predictions for 2016

Newswise, December 18, 2015—The editors at Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, announced their predictions on hot food trends for 2016. Here’s what they’re forecasting for next year.

Clean Labels Spread to Fine Dining
This year was marked by tons of major food companies, in addition to fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, announcing the “healthification” of their menus through the banning of artificial ingredients/additives. In 2016, we can expect to see this effect “trickle up” to fine dining/sit-down restaurants where consumers are going to demand more than “locally produced” or “made in house” to signify a holistic approach to health.
—Kelly Hensel, Senior Digital Editor

The Intersection of Health and Convenience
Foods and beverages that deliver on both health and convenience will proliferate and gain wider distribution as consumers look for easy ways to incorporate more good-for-you products into their lives. Think portion-controlled snacks and ready-to-eat salad kits complete with slightly exotic ingredients like hemp seeds and edamame. We’ll see more of these kinds of products on retail shelves as entrepreneurs continue to get creative and major food companies acquire or partner with innovative niche marketers.
—Mary Ellen Kuhn, Executive Editor 

Less Is More
Food manufacturers will have to continue to make food products that are less processed as consumers demand more transparency and foods that are closer to their natural state.
—Toni Tarver, Senior Writer/Editor

Smartphone Staple
Just like a knife and fork, your smartphone will become an indispensable utensil for eating and dining in 2016. It can order and purchase food, find grocery and restaurant deals, count calories, provide nutrition knowhow, suggest recipes, replace mom for cooking advice, share memorable culinary experiences, connect farmers with retailers and restaurants, and reduce food waste through redirecting surpluses to those in need.
—Bob Swientek, Editor in Chief

The Packaging Connection
Foodies have long been interested in the backstory behind the foods they choose, but recent technologies have made it more possible than ever to bring this kind of information to the everyday consumer. In 2016, this trend will continue to grow, with packaging innovations allowing consumers to interact with products both on the shelf and when they get them home. Packaging technologies will also make it easier than ever for consumers to reorder their favorite items at the touch of a button.
—Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Associate Editor

Cleaner Labels
More than ever, consumers are pushing food manufacturers to use ingredients to produce products with so-called clean labels. Ingredient manufacturers have stepped up and now offer ingredients that are naturally derived, minimally processed, organic, and not genetically modified—all of which food manufacturers use to formulate clean label products.
—Karen Nachay, Senior Editor

Morally Conscious Foods
Increasing emphasis on conscious living will lead to a new category of foods—morally conscious foods. From farm to fork, these foods, their production methods, and the companies manufacturing them will align closely with consumers’ moral values.
—Tara McHugh, Contributing Editor, Processing

Gourmet Convenience
With 48 million time-strapped Americans describing themselves as foodies, gourmet convenience will be among the new megatrends.
—A. Elizabeth Sloan, Contributing Editor, Consumer Trends

Generational Nutrition
Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials will continue to play a role in popular nutritional trends as well as product labeling. Baby Boomers want to lead lives full of energy and strong mental focus. Generation Xers are concerned not only with their own health, but with the health of their children. Immune health will continue to be a trend as this generation understands the link between immunity and overall wellness. Millennials tend to be more focused on labels and natural foods, so being transparent—not only in terms of healthful ingredients but also in terms of how the foods and beverages are made—will be important. Information is key to all generations, so communicating science-based information in an understandable way will be critical in upholding the credibility of products focused on health and wellness.
—Linda Ohr, Contributing Editor, Nutraceuticals

Focus on Food Safety
Researchers, food manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and suppliers will continue to focus attention on pathogens, developing new and improved methods of analysis, instruments, detection supplies, and specific applications. Efforts will also continue on improving traceability of ingredients and products and harmonizing standards internationally. Food companies will be very involved in meeting the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration's final regulations implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act.
––Neil H. Mermelstein, Editor Emeritus

About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit

Almonds May Help Augment Nutrients in Diet

Newswise, December 18, 2015--- Eating a moderate amount of almonds each day may enrich the diets of adults and their young children, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Almonds are a good source of plant protein -- essential fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium,” said Alyssa Burns, a doctoral student in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department. Burns conducted the study as part of her graduate work.

Her statement is backed by the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend people eat unsalted nuts.

For the 14-week study, published in the journal Nutrition Research, UF/IFAS nutrition scientists gave almonds daily to 29 pairs of parents and children. 

Most of the adults were mothers with an average age of 35, while their children were between 3 and 6 years old. The children were encouraged to consume 0.5 ounces of almond butter daily. Parents were given 1.5 ounces of almonds per day.

Participants ate almonds for a few weeks, then they resumed eating their typical intake, which included other foods as snacks.

Researchers based their conclusions about improved dietary intake on participants’ scores on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), a tool used to measure diet quality and adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
UF/IFAS researchers used an online dietary recall to find out what adults had eaten and how much. That way, researchers could measure diet quality, Burns said.

When parents and children were eating almonds, their HEI increased for total protein foods, seafood and plant proteins and fatty acids, Burns said, while they ate fewer empty calories. 

Parents also decreased sodium intake. Parents and children consumed more vitamin E and magnesium when eating almonds, she said.

HEI is based on 12 dietary components which should be consumed adequately or in moderation, Burns said. All components receive a score between 0 and 10 for maximum score of 100. For all components, a higher score indicates higher diet quality.

When parents and children ate almonds, their HEI score increased from 53.7 to 61.4, Burns said. 

The Healthy Eating Index works this way: Categories are given a weight, depending on how much of the current food group a person consumes. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Swap Salt for Herbs and Spices in 2016

December 14, 2015 (Family Features) Making a New Year's resolution? Don't forget salt. Most Americans consume about a 1,000 milligrams of sodium over the amount recommended by nutrition and health experts. New research shows cooking with spices and herbs could help you ditch the salt shaker and meet sodium recommendations.

Keeping a resolution to cut salt from your diet is easy. Use simple spice swaps to create tasty, low-sodium meals. From seasoning eggs with basil instead of salt to adding spices and herbs to no-salt tomato sauce, the McCormick Kitchens offer these easy tips and recipes to make low-sodium meals full of flavor:
* Beat 1/8 teaspoon herb instead of salt into 2 eggs before scrambling.
* Add oregano, garlic powder and red pepper to no-salt added tomato sauce for a tasty, low-sodium pasta dinner.

* Try making Citrus Herbed Chicken with Asparagus, Fiesta Citrus Salmon or Tuscan Pasta. These dishes don't call for any salt. Instead, they swap in basil, garlic powder and oregano.

For more low-sodium tips and recipes - such as shaved vegetable salad with Italian herb vinaigrette - visit to keep your New Year's resolutions on track. To see the full Anderson study, which examined the effects of a behavioral intervention that emphasized spice and herbs, and how it impacts sodium intake, visit

Fiesta Citrus Salmon
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
          1/4    cup orange juice
          2        tablespoons olive oil
          2        tablespoons McCormick Perfect Pinch Salt-Free Fiesta Citrus Seasoning, divided
          2        tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided
          1        pound salmon fillets

In small bowl, mix juice, oil and 1 tablespoon each seasoning and sugar. Place salmon in large re-sealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or longer for extra flavor.

In another small bowl, mix remaining seasoning and sugar. Remove salmon from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Rub salmon evenly with seasoning mixture.

Tuscan Pasta
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6
          1        can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
          1        can (8 ounces) no-salt added tomato sauce
          1        tablespoon sugar (optional)
          2        tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided
          2        teaspoons McCormick Garlic Powder
          2        teaspoons McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning
          1/2    teaspoon McCormick Black Pepper, ground
          1        tablespoon olive oil
          1        pound zucchini, sliced
          1        package (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
          1        small onion, chopped
          6        ounces pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine

In medium saucepan, mix tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar and seasonings. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes.

In large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms and onion; cook and stir 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Stir tomato sauce into vegetables.

Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain well. Place pasta in serving bowl. Add vegetable mixture; toss well.

Citrus Herbed Chicken with Asparagus
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4
          1/4    cup flour
          2        tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
          1/2    teaspoon McCormick Garlic Powder
          1/4    teaspoon McCormick Black Pepper, coarse ground
          1        pound thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts
          1        tablespoon oil
          1 1/2 cups chicken stock
          1        teaspoon McCormick Basil Leaves
          1        teaspoon McCormick Oregano Leaves
          1        pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
          2        tablespoons lemon juice

In shallow dish, mix flour, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Moisten chicken lightly with water. Coat evenly with remaining flour mixture.

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add 1/2 of the chicken pieces; cook 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding additional oil, if necessary. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.

In medium bowl, mix stock, basil, oregano and reserved flour mixture until well blended. Add to skillet along with asparagus. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3-5 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in lemon juice. Return chicken to skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until heated through.
Source: McCormick Spice

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fries with a Side of Acrylamide

Researchers working to cut unwanted chemical in French fries

Newswise, December 8, 2015 - French fry lovers, beware! You may be exposed to a chemical more commonly associated with heavy industry than crispy fried potatoes. Fortunately, researchers are finding ways to reduce that exposure.
French fries contain acrylamide. 

The chemical poses a risk for several types of cancer in rodents. However, the evidence from human studies is still incomplete. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers the chemical a “probable human carcinogen.”

Scientists first began paying attention to the unwanted chemical’s presence in food more than a decade ago. Trace amounts of acrylamide are present in many foods cooked at temperatures higher than 248 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Relatively high levels are found in fried potatoes, including French fries and potato chips.

With that in mind, a group of scientists set out in 2011 to identify potato varieties that form less acrylamide.

Led by University of Idaho researcher Yi Wang, the group assessed more than 140 potato varieties. The researchers’ goal was to identify potatoes that make great French fries and form less acrylamide. 

The amount of the chemical found in fried potatoes is thought to be directly linked to the chemistry of the raw potatoes.

Raw potatoes contain an amino acid called asparagine. The amino acid is found in many animal and plant food sources, and it’s a known precursor of acrylamide. When cooked at high temperatures, sugars react with amino acids, including asparagine, in a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction. 

The reaction is what gives fried potatoes their prized flavor and color, but it is also what produces acrylamide.

Researchers planted 149 potato breeds in five potato-growing regions across the United States. 

Upon harvesting, they sent some of the raw potatoes to labs. There, the potatoes were stored in conditions similar to commercial potatoes. After storage, the labs tested the potatoes for their levels of reducing sugars and asparagine. Researchers then fried some of the potatoes and observed how much acrylamide the potatoes formed.

The researchers found that it is fairly achievable to identify potato breeds that produce less acrylamide, especially when compared with the industry standard potato breeds, Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank.

“The real challenge is to find the varieties that not only have those characteristics, but also yield finished products with desirable processing quality that meet the stringent standards of the food industry,” Wang said.
Two of the most promising varieties — Payette Russet and Easton — have already been released for commercial use.

Wang said the group hopes to identify genes that are related to lower acrylamide in certain fried potatoes. The study shows a strong relationship between the genetics of a raw potato and its potential to form acrylamide. If researchers are able to identify the specific genes, they may be able to eliminate them in the future.

The team’s research is published in Crop Science.

New study shows Montmorency Tart Cherry Supplements can help reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery post-workout

Newswise, December 8, 2015-- Sufferers of achy and fatigued muscles may have a new and unique dietary supplement option to help them recover more quickly.

In a recently published clinical study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition researchers from Texas A&M University® shed light on the benefits of Montmorency Tart Cherry Powder supplementation for exercise recovery. 

A short-term dose helped to accelerate recovery from muscle soreness, slow strength decline during recovery, and lessen markers of muscle catabolism in resistance trained individuals.

Led by Dr. Richard Kreider from the Department of Health and Kinesiology, Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory, in College Station, TX the research team used a well-established double-blind, placebo-controlled testing method to examine if short-term ingestion of a powdered tart cherry supplement, prior to, and following intense resistance-exercise alleviates muscle soreness and recovery from strength loss.

The study looked at healthy, resistance-trained men and matched them based on relative maximal back squat strength, age, body weight and fat free mass. The subjects were then assigned, in a double-blind manner, capsules containing 480mg of powdered Montmorency Tart cherries (as CherryPURE®) or a placebo.

The study reports those taking the tart cherry supplement reported a significant decrease in post-workout muscle soreness compared to the placebo group. 

Blood tests also revealed significantly attenuated post-workout markers of protein catabolism, indicating muscle recovery benefits following exercise in the tart cherry supplement group.

The Texas A&M study adds another chapter to the growing body of evidence for describing the beneficial use of Tart Montmorency cherries in post-exercise recovery.

For additional information about other studies please visit the Cherry Marketing Institute's (CMI) website at
CMI is a not-for-profit organization funded by the North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI's mission is to increase market expansion, product development and research.

This study was funded by the Anderson Global Group, LLC (Irvine, CA, USA) and Shoreline Fruit, LLC (Traverse City, MI, USA) through an unrestricted research grant to Texas A&M University. 

All researchers involved independently collected, analyzed, and interpreted the results from this study and have no financial interests concerning the outcome of this investigation. The results from this study do not constitute endorsement by the authors and/or the institution concerning the nutrients investigated.

CherryPURE® Montmorency Tart Cherry Powder is the premier tart cherry powder available in the nutraceutical marketplace and the only cherry ingredient backed by multiple human clinical studies. Built upon the health benefits inherent to phytonutrients, CherryPURE® is produced using proprietary processing technology that starts with cherries carefully harvested in the USA and utilizes methods to protect the rich phytonutrient levels of each individual cherry. It takes more than 100 pounds of fresh Montmorency tart cherries to produce a single kilogram of CherryPURE® Montmorency Tart Cherry Powder.

Anderson Global Group offers a distinct portfolio of premium nutraceutical and functional food ingredients. Founded in 2009, we have distinguished our company by delivering superior ingredients, applying best-in-class processing technologies and supporting unique ingredient claims with compelling scientific research. This perpetual drive towards innovation is the platform for our brand partners to stand above the competition. Anderson Global Group is a privately held company headquartered in Irvine, California.

For more information about CherryPURE® and our entire portfolio of quality ingredients, visit us at

Shoreline Fruit, LLC is a vertically integrated grower, processor, and marketer of premium cherry products and other dried fruits. Locally owned and headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan, Shoreline is one of the world's largest producers of dried tart cherries and cherry concentrate. 

Shoreline also offers a broad selection of other premium dried fruits and tart cherry-based nutraceutical products to consumers under their Cherry Bay Orchards® and CherryPURE® brand names to retail and specialty food marketers and distributors worldwide. 

From orchard to table, Shoreline Fruit is committed to quality, innovation, and sustainability. For more information about Shoreline's products and services, please visit

Coffee Compounds That Could Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Identified

Newswise, December 8, 2015 — Much to coffee lovers' delight, drinking three to four cups of coffee per day has been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now, scientists report in ACS' Journal of Natural Products that they have identified two compounds that contribute to this health benefit. 

Researchers say that this knowledge could someday help them develop new medications to better prevent and treat the disease.

Patients with type 2 diabetes become resistant to insulin, a hormone that helps turn glucose from food into energy. To overcome this resistance, the pancreas makes more insulin, but eventually, it just can't make enough. High blood glucose levels can cause health problems, such as blindness and nerve damage.

Several genetic and life style risk factors have been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but drinking coffee has been shown to help prevent its onset. Caffeine was thought to be responsible, but studies have shown it has only a short-term effect on glucose and insulin, and decaffeinated coffee has the same effect as the regular version of the drink. To investigate which of coffee's many bioactive components are responsible for diabetes prevention, Søren Gregersen and colleagues tested the effects of different coffee substances in rat cell lines.

The researchers investigated different coffee compounds' effects on cells in the lab. Cafestol and caffeic acid both increased insulin secretion when glucose was added. The team also found that cafestol increased glucose uptake in muscle cells, matching the levels of a currently prescribed antidiabetic drug.

They say cafestol's dual benefits make it a good candidate for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, because coffee filters eliminate much of the cafestol in drip coffee, it is likely that other compounds also contribute to these health benefits.

The authors acknowledge funding from Aarhus University

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Eat and Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

Rutgers eating behavior expert gives tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holidays
Newswise, November 23, 2015 — When it comes to maintaining healthy lifestyles, people tend to fall off the wagon from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Then, they set “get in shape” and “lose weight” as New Year’s resolutions.

That’s not the best idea, says Charlotte Markey, a Rutgers University-Camden psychologist who teaches a course titled “The Psychology of Eating” and studies eating behaviors, body image and weight management. Overeating during the holidays, she notes, is not a matter of if, but when. People need to approach their goals in a smarter way.

Rutgers Today spoke with Markey, the author of Smart People Don’t Diet: How the Latest Science Can Help You Lose Weight Permanently, about a more realistic and sustainable strategy to losing weight and living healthier.

Rutgers Today: Why do New Year’s resolutions and “I’ll start on Monday” diets fail?

Markey: It’s easy to say, “I’ll start eating a certain way or exercising more on Monday or on January 1.” We tend to feel better for making a commitment to ourselves to change our diet – in the future.

But when the time for action inevitably comes, we discover that we are not that committed to the change we pledged to make. When we put pressure on ourselves to radically change our behaviors on a predetermined day, we place unrealistic expectations upon ourselves and set ourselves up to fail. Just because we set a date to make a change doesn’t mean that we as people have changed. We will still crave potato chips on Monday and leftover holiday pie on New Year's Day. 

Rutgers Today: What is a smarter approach to eating better and exercising more?

Markey: Set small, realistic and achievable goals: Save sweets for after dinner and consume them in moderate proportions; have cocktails only on weekends; take several 15-minute walks per week. These little changes can really add up and are more likely to become sustainable habits.

Rutgers Today: What roles do stress and depression play in eating behaviors?

Markey: Most of us experience stress related to the holidays, but everyone responds to stress and depression in different ways. Some people eat more, some eat less and some can’t eat at all. In anticipation of what can be a challenging month for health behaviors, people can be proactive and work in some fun and relaxing activities, such as walks with friends or getting together with others for common activities such as present wrapping.

That said, if emotions and mental health issues are contributing to bad eating habits throughout the year, you should consult a mental health professional who specializes in body image or weight management.

Rutgers Today: Why should people focus on their eating behaviors and physical activity rather than on the goal of simply losing weight?

Markey: People typically achieve their objectives more effectively when they focus on “approach goals,” which are things they should do, instead of “avoidance goals,” which are things they want to avoid. So, instead of telling yourself “Don’t eat carbs, don’t go out to dinner, don’t have that second glass of wine,” say “I’ll try to eat four fruits and vegetables every day, do something active daily, manage my stress and go to bed earlier to get more sleep.”

Rutgers Today: How does planning help a person stay committed to goals?

Markey: Planning can help you avoid the many convenient, but negative, influences, like take-out and TV dinners or a comfortable couch. Plan a few days to a week in advance what days you will have time to exercise and shop for ingredients for healthy meals that you can make – even with a busy schedule.

Rutgers Today: How can your romantic partner positively affect your healthy living goals?

Markey: A romantic partner can be a great source of support and may even be willing to make changes with you. Why not make it a team effort? You can eat off of smaller plates to help control your portions, agree to eat out only once per week, buy bikes and start riding together on the weekends or take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV. You also can praise each other. No one is going to be motivated to eat better or jog more often when they feel so down on themselves that they don’t even want to lace up their jogging shoes.

Even talking to our partners about our bodies has the potential to improve how we feel about ourselves. In a recent study I did at Rutgers, we asked men and women to talk about their bodies and weight with their partners. Most of the 288 participants reported having healthier body ideals after they talked with their partners.

We are often our own worst critics, and partners do not often see the faults that we see in ourselves. Our romantic partners are attracted to us as we are. Talking with them helps us to understand that we need to strive for a healthy body, not an emaciated ideal that we may have initially favored. After all, your ultimate goal is to be healthy and feel good about yourself – no matter your weight.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Avoid a Recipe for Disaster with Properly Cooked Food This Thanksgiving, Expert Says

Photo Courtesy of

Newswise, November 16, 2015--This Thanksgiving many Americans may find one uninvited guest at their meal: food poisoning. A Kansas State University food safety expert shares some food preparation tips for home cooks that will ensure guests pile their plates with safe food dishes and forgo a side of food poisoning.

"Thanksgiving is a time when many cooks turn to those old family recipes and preparation methods when making the meal," said Bryan Severns, manager of food programs and services at the Kansas State University Olathe campus.

"I have seen many instances in which those traditional methods clash with safe food preparation and family members end up sick."

Seasoning is in, stuffing is out
Turkey, duck, quail and other game birds are simple to prepare. Those familiar images of a golden brown turkey filled with stuffing, though, are a recipe for disaster, Severns said.

"For a great tasting bird, rub the inside of the cavity with a seasoning/spice blend made from some salt and pepper and maybe a diced onion or fruit," Severns said.

"Meanwhile, stuffing and dressing should be cooked separately to ensure the bird cooks all the way to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and that your dressing isn't based in raw turkey juices."

Also, Severns says never wash turkey or other raw poultry in the sink to prep it for cooking. There is no safety benefit to rinsing poultry. Instead, washing raw poultry greatly increases the chances of food poisoning as water with the raw juice is likely to splash the cook and the cooking area.

Your goose is cooked — to food safe levels
Juices, joints and timers cannot tell when turkey and other game birds are fully cooked. A calibrated meat thermometer can, Severns says. Use the thermometer to take temperatures in the thickest areas of the bird, such as the breast, thigh and leg. The bird is safe to serve once it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Severns also suggests the following to keep holiday cooking efficient and food safe.
• Raw turkey juice as salad dressing? No way, Severns said. Never use the same cutting board for poultry, raw meats, eggs and vegetables without cleaning and sanitizing between projects.
• Plan your preparation by grouping similar items together to improve efficiency and food safety.

"If you're doing the bird first, clear the counters and sink areas," Severns said. "Set up your sudsy sink and a sanitation sink with bleach solution. Do all the raw bird prep and then clean and sanitize thoroughly, especially knives and cutting boards. Then move on to the veggies."

Have an Apple-Shaped Body? You May Be More Susceptible to Binge Eating

Newswise, November 16, 2015 — Women with apple-shaped bodies – those who store more of their fat in their trunk and abdominal regions – may be at particular risk for the development of eating episodes during which they experience a sense of “loss of control,” according to a new study from Drexel University.

The study also found that women with greater fat stores in their midsections reported being less satisfied with their bodies, which may contribute to loss-of-control eating.

This study marks the first investigation of the connections between fat distribution, body image disturbance and the development of disordered eating.

“Eating disorders that are detected early are much more likely to be successfully treated. Although existing eating disorder risk models comprehensively address psychological factors, we know of very few biologically-based factors that help us predict who may be more likely to develop eating disorder behaviors,” said lead author Laura Berner, PhD, who completed the research while pursuing a doctoral degree at Drexel.

“Our preliminary findings reveal that centralized fat distribution may be an important risk factor for the development of eating disturbance, specifically for loss-of-control eating,” said Berner.

“This suggests that targeting individuals who store more of their fat in the midsection and adapting psychological interventions to focus specifically on body fat distribution could be beneficial for preventing eating disorders.

The study, titled “Examination of Central Body Fat Deposition as a Risk Factor for Loss-of-Control Eating,” was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Berner is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research at UC San Diego Health. Michael R. Lowe, PhD, a professor in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, was a co-author, along with Danielle Arigo, PhD, who was a postdoctoral research fellow at Drexel and is now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Scranton; Laurel Mayer, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute,; and David B. Sarwer, PhD, professor of psychology in Psychiatry and Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as well as director of clinical services at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.

Mounting evidence suggests that experiencing a sense of loss-of-control during eating – feeling driven or compelled to keep eating or that stopping once one has started is difficult – is the most significant element of binge-eating episodes regardless of how much food is consumed, according to the researchers.

“This sense of loss of control is experienced across a range of eating disorder diagnoses: bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and the binge-eating/purging subtype of anorexia nervosa,” said Berner. “We wanted to see if a measurable biological characteristic could help predict who goes on to develop this feeling, as research shows that individuals who feel this sense of loss of control over eating but don’t yet have an eating disorder are more likely to develop one.”
“This sense of loss of control is experienced across a range of eating disorder diagnoses: bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and the binge-eating/purging subtype of anorexia nervosa,” said Berner.

“We wanted to see if a measurable biological characteristic could help predict who goes on to develop this feeling, as research shows that individuals who feel this sense of loss of control over eating but don’t yet have an eating disorder are more likely to develop one."

Using a large dataset that followed female college freshman for two years, the researchers preliminarily investigated whether body fat distribution is linked to body dissatisfaction over time and increases risk for the development or worsening of loss-of-control eating.

The nearly 300 young adult women completed assessments at baseline, six months and 24 months, that looked at height, weight and total body fat percentage and where it’s distributed. Participants, none of whom met the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders at the start of the study, were assessed for disordered eating behaviors through standardized clinical interviews in which experiences of sense of loss of control were self-reported.

In this sample, the researchers found that women with greater central fat stores, independent of total body mass and depression levels, were more likely to develop loss-of-control eating and demonstrated steadier increases in loss-of-control eating episode frequency over time.

Women with a larger percentage of their body fat stored in the trunk region were also less satisfied with their bodies, regardless of their total weight or depression level.

The findings indicate that storage of body fat in trunk and abdominal regions, rather than elsewhere in the body, is more strongly predictive of loss-of-control eating development and worsening over time, and that larger percentages of fat stored in these central regions and body dissatisfaction may serve as maintenance or exacerbation for loss-of-control eating.

“Our results suggest that centralized fat deposition increased disordered eating risk above and beyond other known risk factors,” said Berner.

 “The specificity of our findings to centralized fat deposition was also surprising.

“For example, a one-unit increase in the percentage of body fat stored in the abdominal region was associated with a 53 percent increase in the risk of developing loss-of-control eating over the next two years, whereas total percentage body fat did not predict loss-of-control eating development.”

According to Berner, more research is needed to explain the mechanism behind these findings, though she speculates that there are a number of reasons why this might happen.

“It’s possible that this kind of fat distribution is not only psychologically distressing, but biologically influential through, for example, alterations in hunger and satiety signaling,” she said.

“Fat cells release signals to the brain that influence how hungry or satiated we feel. Our study didn’t include hormone assays, so we can’t know for sure, but in theory it’s possible that if a centralized distribution of fat alters the hunger and satiety messages it sends, it could make a person feel out of control while eating.”

The findings may apply to other disordered eating behaviors beyond loss-of-control eating, but more research is needed.

“Body fat distribution hasn’t been studied in disorders characterized by binge-eating behaviors as much as it has in anorexia nervosa,” said Berner.

“The participants in our sample didn’t develop eating disorder diagnoses within the two year period that we studied them, but this study suggests that future research should investigate whether individuals with greater central fat stores are more likely to develop bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods, UGA Study Finds

Newswise, November 13, 2015--In a recent study funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, University of Georgia researchers found that produce that contained bacteria would contaminate other produce items through the continued use of knives or graters—the bacteria would latch on to the utensils commonly found in consumers’ homes and spread to the next item.

Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware that utensils and other surfaces at home can contribute to the spread of bacteria, said the study’s lead author Marilyn Erickson, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ department of food science and technology.

“Just knowing that utensils may lead to cross-contamination is important,” Erickson said. “With that knowledge, consumers are then more likely to make sure they wash them in between uses.”

Erickson has been researching produce for the past 10 years. Her past work has mainly focused on the fate of bacteria on produce when it’s introduced to plants in the field during farming.

In 2013, she was co-author on a study looking at the transfer of norovirus and hepatitis A between produce and common kitchen utensils—finding that cutting and grating increased the number of contaminated produce items when that utensil had first been used to process a contaminated item.
This study, published in Food Microbiology, is similar in that it considers the influence that knives and graters have on the transfer of pathogenic bacteria to and from produce items. She urges consumers to realize that these germs can spread in their kitchens as well.

Researchers have known that poor hygiene and improper food preparation practices in a consumer’s home can lead to foodborne illnesses, but considering what practices in the kitchen are more likely to lead to contamination has not been examined extensively.

“The FDA was interested in getting more accurate numbers as to what level of cross-contamination could occur in the kitchen using standard practices,” Erickson said.

In her recent study, Erickson contaminated many types of fruits and vegetables in her lab—adding certain pathogens that often can be found on these foods, such as salmonella and E. coli.

Using a knife, Erickson would cut into things like tomatoes or cantaloupe and other types of produce to see how easily the bacteria could spread when the knife was continuously used without being cleaned. Because they “were looking at what would be the worst-case scenario,” she said, Erickson and study co-authors did not wash between cutting these different produce items.

Researchers also grated produce, like carrots, to see how easily the pathogens spread to graters. They found that both knives and graters can cause additional cross-contamination in the kitchen and that the pathogens were spread from produce to produce if they hadn’t washed the utensils.

“A lot of the broken up material and particles from the contaminated produce remained on the graters,” said Erickson, who conducts her research at the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin. “Then if you were to shred another carrot or something else immediately after that, it gets contaminated, too.”

The study also found that certain fruits and vegetables spread pathogens to knives to different degrees.

“For items like tomatoes, we tended to have a higher contamination of the knives than when we cut strawberries,” Erickson said. “We don’t have a specific answer as to why there are differences between the different produce groups. But we do know that once a pathogen gets on the food, it’s difficult to remove.”

Knives and graters aren’t the only utensils in the kitchen consumers should be worried about. Erickson has also helped study the role brushes and peelers have on the transfer of dangerous kitchen bacteria.
In concurrent studies, Erickson found that scrubbing or peeling produce items—like melons, carrots and celery—did not eliminate contamination on the produce item but led to contamination of the brush or peeler.

Even when placed under running water, the utensils still became contaminated; however, the ability to cross-contaminate later produce items depended on the brush type and the pathogenic agent.

These studies combined give researchers a better idea as to how common cross-contamination is in the kitchen—even when just using standard practices.

Erickson explained there is a small chance of buying fruits and vegetables contaminated with bacteria, but the problem can occur—whether the product is store-bought or locally grown.

Additional study co-authors were Qing Wang, a doctoral student at the University of Delaware, and Jean Liao, a research professional; and associate professors Jennifer Cannon and Ynes Ortega with UGA’s Center for Food Safety.

The study, “Contamination of knives and graters by bacterial foodborne pathogens during slicing and grating of produce,” is available at

WVU Doctor Helps Create Program to Provide Healthy Fruits, Vegetables to SNAP Recipients

Newswise, November 13, 2015 — As the last couple apples of the season are being plucked for the final days of the Shepherdstown Farmers Market, a new program to provide those fresh fruits to more consumers is just getting started.
West Virginia University Professor of Family Medicine Mark Cucuzzella has partnered with Eastern Panhandle-area groups to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program recipients make their money go further at four local farmers markets.

"In West Virginia, not unlike many places in a country, there is food insecurity – meaning that your health outcomes and treatments are impacted by your ability to buy healthy foods," Cucuzzella said. 

"So, making more healthy foods available to more people is necessary to improve overall health."

The WV FresHealthy Bucks program allows EBT customers to swipe their card for however much they intend to spend at either the Shepherdstown, Charles Town, Morgans Grove or VA Medical Center farmers market, and that amount is doubled. The additional money, which is funded by WVU grants, as well as others, can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables.

"Though the program has only been operational for about two months, it has already made a huge impact on the market," said Megan Webber, a market master for the Shepherdstown Farmers Market. 

"We have about five core customers who are here every week to use the program. That means that mom who comes in with three kids and $40 to spend on her EBT card can now have $80 to spend."

This program is just one of many that have been springing up all over the country in an effort to have farmers markets accept EBT cards, provide more fresh foods to SNAP recipients, support local farmers and benefit the local economy.

Kristina James, who operates Blueberry Hill Vegetables with her husband and his family, said she's happy to see this program get started in the Eastern Panhandle markets, as she has seen success with it in the Washington, D.C., area markets she attends.

"I think it's fabulous that those parents and their young children get to benefit, but we as farmers benefit as well," James said. "We have definitely seen an increase in sales; and that's just great for everyone. It's a wonderful program, and I think it should be everywhere."

Cucuzzella said the goal is to expand the program to more families, especially through the use of the mobile market.

"We're just now getting started, but it's taking off, and I think it's just going to get better and better," Cucuzzella said. "I think it's going to lead to some great things."

The WV FresHealthy Bucks program is a partnership between Eastern Area Health Education Center, WVU Medicine University Healthcare Physicians, Wholesome Wave and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.