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What's in your water? — Do you scrub-a-dub? — What is 'sugar glass' and why should you care?

Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of iwaspoisoned.com.

Water, water everywhere …
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that drinking water is continuing to be associated with many disease outbreaks in the United States. Data collected from 2013-2014 shows there were a 42 reported outbreaks associated with drinking water.

From these outbreaks, there were at least 1,006 cases of illness, 124 hospitalizations, and 13 deaths. Among this list were the first drinking-water outbreaks associatd with algal toxins, which can also contaminate fish and seafood.

“When drinking water is contaminated by infectious pathogens, chemicals, or toxins, public health agencies need to provide rapid detection, identification of the cause, and response to prevent and control waterborne illness and outbreaks,” according to the report.


How sweet it is: Fighting bacteria with sugar glass
With the recent rise of anitibiotic resistance, in which bacteria are becoming immune to antibiotics used to treat infections in humans, keeping food free of pathogens like Salmonella and Listeria is of increasing importance. Unlike antibiotics, which kill good and bad bacteria, viruses are receiving new attention as weapons against only the bad bacteria.

In a recent study published by ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, scientists used “sugar glasses” to preserve the helpful viruses for up to three months.

“… bacteriophages were preserved in pullulan-trehalose mixture as dried films and as coatings on food packaging. The phages encapsulated in pullulan-trehalose films were able to retain infectivity for up to 3 months at ambient storage conditions,” according to the report.

“Overall, this study describes a method of preserving bacteriophage activity in a dried format that has great potential for use as coatings, which can be used to create antimicrobial surfaces for food preparation and for food preservation.”


Scrub-a-dub those fruits and veggies
Consumers are often reminded to thoroughly cook raw meet or poultry due to the risk of exposure to pathogens and the infections of foodborne illness, but it’s just as important to inspect and wash fresh produce, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The iconic institution posted a new consumer education video this week to show consumers exactly what to do.

Dr. Vandana Bhide, a hospital internal medicine specialist for Mayo, said there are a number of illnesses and outbreaks being traced to fresh produce, which often lacks a kill step in during preparation because it is eaten raw.

“Anything that can be washed should be washed. And you want to really wash it thoroughly. If there’s something that can be scrubbed, that has a hard rind, you want to do that,” Bhide said in a news release.

Foods with peels, like cantaloupe, watermelon, mangos, papaya, zucchini and squash, can carry bad bacteria from the outside-in with the slice of a knife blade.

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