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Cookson Beecher

Cookson Beecher

A journalist by trade, Cookson Beecher spent the past 12 years working as an agricultural & environmental reporter for Capital Press, a four-state newspaper that covers agricultural and forestry issues in the Pacific Northwest. Before working at Capital Press, she was the editor of a small-town newspaper, the Courier Times, in Skagit County, Wash. She received her B.A. in political science from Hunter College in New York City, and before moving West, she worked for publishing companies in mid-town Manhattan. In the 1970s and 80s, she and her family lived in North Idaho, where they built a log home and lived a “pioneer life” without running water and electricity for almost ten years. She currently lives in rural Skagit County of Washington State.

Articles Written by Cookson Beecher

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Listeria outbreak set apple industry on a targeted course

apple-target-406

SEATTLE — Sometimes when something that “just can’t happen” does happen, valuable lessons are learned. That was the case when some batches of commercially produced, packaged, whole caramel apples turned out to be the cause of a listeriosis outbreak in 2014-15 that infected 35 people from 12 states, putting 34 of them in the hospital. Listeria… Continue Reading

Tech+intellect = 100% consumers at CPS Research Symposium

Bob Whitaker of the Produce Marketing Association, is on the board of directors for the Center for Produce Safety and is a member of its Technical Committee.

SEATTLE — The mood was upbeat as the Center for Produce Safety’s seventh annual Research Symposium opened. “Welcome to our coming-out party,” said an enthusiastic Steve Patricio, the center’s board chairman, as he welcomed more than 300 attendees to the two days of research reports about food safety in the fresh produce industry. Patricio, president and chief executive… Continue Reading

One look at the enemy and you’ll get serious about food safety

bacteria hand shake

What could be more frightening than an unseen enemy — one so stealthy and powerful that it can send you to the hospital or even kill you? And what if that enemy is so small that you can’t see it, don’t even know that it’s there. Maybe right there on some food you’re about to… Continue Reading

Researchers find nanoparticles in 6 of 6 U.S. baby formulas tested

Looking more like an overhead view of garden stones and shrubs, this highly magnified photo shows nano titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide found in baby formula in the U.S.

Recent research has detected potentially harmful nanoparticles in six out of six popular infant formulas tested. Not surprisingly, this has triggered yet more concern about the safety of these engineered particles, which are added to some of the foods we eat. The products tested were Gerber Good Start Gentle, Gerber Good Start Soothe, Enfamil, Similac… Continue Reading

Food safety initiative puts farmworkers front and center

This green label can only be used on produce from suppliers who are certified by the Equitable Food Initiative, which works to improve the safety of fresh product while ensuring farmworkers' are in the loop as well as on the front lines in the war against pathogens.

When the topic is food safety, the first things that might come to mind for many are the farmers growing the food, the stores selling the food, and even the public health scientists who are testing the food to make sure it doesn’t contain any pathogens that could make us sick — or even kill… Continue Reading

Is that the answer blowin’ in the wind, or pathogen drift?

Free-manure

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” — Bob Dylan The question in the case of food safety is: “What’s blowing in the wind?” Turns out it can be dangerous pathogens such as E. coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella when manure is spread on the land, which is a common agricultural practice. At least that’s… Continue Reading

Small plus local doesn’t equal a free pass on food safety

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There’s a revolution going on in a grocery store near you. Fueled by consumer demand, it has been dubbed the “fresh revolution” by industry heavyweights such as the United Fresh Produce Association. It’s all about fresh produce — fruits and vegetables that nutritionists are praising as “healthy foods” and that shoppers are increasingly seeking out…. Continue Reading

Oyster research could lead to food safety strategies

Tiny bacteriophages attack larger microscopic organisms such as viruses.

Microbes battling microbes. This type of warfare is happening all around us — and even inside of us — every day. And as in every battle, there are good microbes and bad microbes, depending on what you want the outcome to be. In this case, the bad guys are pathogens that are infecting large numbers… Continue Reading

Food safety scientist unravels questions about food safety act

Skagit-Ag-Summit

Are you in or are you out? That was one of the first questions Don Stoeckel, a food-safety scientist with Cornell University, posed to the farmers and processors attending his presentation on the federal Food Safety Modernization Act  during the Ag Summit in Skagit County, WA, on March 3 and 4. It was a question… Continue Reading