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Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Briefly: Poison posies — Prison food — Online reporting

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.


A rose by another name is not safe to eat
James Wong, a botanist in the United Kingdom, outed a California vegan blogger for decorating food with poisonous flowers.

The culpret is San Francisco-based cookbook author Marie Reginato, who has 74,000 followers. Eating the “decorative” toxic flowers, PaperWhite Narcissus blooms, can lead to itching, swelling, convulsions and vomiting.

Narcissus flowers are part of the daffodil family, all of which contain the toxic plant alkaloid lycorine.

Wong, known for his TV show “How to Grow Your Own Drugs,” tweeted to his 66, 000 followers: “Another day, another ‘clean eating’ Instagramer posting images of toxic flowers on food.”

Reginato has been blogging about a plant-based diet for three years, and her success has resulted in a the cookbook “Alternative Vegan.”


County fighting foodborne illnesses online
El Paso County Public Health is launching an online system to investigate foodborne illnesses that allows people to report symptoms that develop after eating at restaurants or events.

“Most foodborne infections go undiagnosed and unreported either because the ill person does not see a doctor, or the doctor does not make a specific diagnosis,” said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, El Paso County Public Health’s medical director.

“This new online system allows people to report food-related illness any time – day, night, or on weekends – and help improve public health’s response.”

Questions include what was eaten, where the food came from, what symptoms developed and when, etc. County officials say it takes 5-10 minutes to fill out the form on a computer or mobile device.

According to El Paso County Public Health, 18-percent of last year’s 916 calls received by its Communicable Disease Program were food related. In addition, the program received 148 reports of retail food establishments or food-based events possibly associated with foodborne illness.


Prison food can lead to unintended death sentences
According to research by the American Public Health Association, incarcerated people are six times more likely to contract foodborne illnesses than those who are not in jail or prison. Problems listed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records include rancid chicken, food infested with maggots, and cake that was nibbled on by rats.

“We analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System to describe correctional institution outbreaks from 1998 to 2014 and compare them with other foodborne outbreaks,” according to the research abstract.

The data showed 200 foodborne outbreaks in correctional institutions were reported, resulting in 20,625 illnesses, 204 hospitalizations, and five deaths.

Aramark and Trinity are the two largest food service companies operating in U.S. prisons, and they are the companies blamed for maggots in food and “crunchy dirt” in potatoes, as reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Aramark, which serves many stadiums where professional sports teams play, has been in hot water with more than one municipal health department in recent years for dangerous violations that could cause foodborne illnesses.

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