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.

Modern high-tech greenhouses such as this don’t use dirt.

Organic board supports hydroponics 
By an 8-7 vote, the National Organic Standards Board has recommended that hydroponic and aquaponic growing techniques should not be prohibited from the USDA’s National Organic Program.

However, the board, which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding organic operations, said no to aeroponics. Fourteen members voted against organic certification for the technique. One member of the board abstained from the aeroponics vote.

A debate has been raging years about whether soil is essential to organic growing, with the Cornucopia Institute and the Organic Consumers Association opposing certification of non-soil operations. In 1995 the NOSB recommended that USDA-approved organic certifiers be allowed to license hydroponic operations, “if all provisions of the OFPA (Organic Foods Production Act) have been met.” Licensing has been inconsistent, though, with some certifiers approving hydroponic operations and some not.

Opponents say the foundation of organic farming is clean soil. They contend soil conservation and eliminating certain pesticides and herbicides spurred the birth of the organic movement.

There is concern that certification for hydroponic and aquaponic operations could reduce overall organic output. However, operators of non-soil greenhouses say they can produce 8, 10 and 22 times more tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, respectively, per acre than conventional field operations produce.

So-called cage free poultry operations often confine birds in cramped conditions such as this, which can contribute to the spread of bacteria such as Salmonella.

‘Big Chicken’ says the sky may not be falling, but …
In her words, public health journalist Maryn McKenna says she wrote the book “Big Chicken” in hopes of improving the quality of the chicken consumed in the United States. In the book, McKenna describes the American public’s love affair with white meat and how it has contributed to antibiotic-resistant foodborne infections in humans.

She also calls out the poultry industry for labeling claims that mislead consumers. McKenna notes that “things like, for instance, ‘raised without hormones,’ or ‘raised cage-free’ ” don’t tell the whole story. Hormones have never been legal for meat chicken in the United States, and meat chickens are never raised in cages.

“To me, a label claim of, ‘Raised without antibiotics’ is a thing that’s really worth looking for,” the author told National Public Radio recently.

McKenna also suggests chicken industry heavyweights such as Perdue Farms and Tyson, as well as restaurant chains including Chick-Fil-A, Subway and McDonald’s, haven’t moved away from antibiotic use in chickens because they’re concerned about antibiotic resistance. They did so, she contends, because of the concerns of consumers, who ultimately determine corporate profits.

To view a video from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on how to properly clean up after a norovirus incident, please click on the image.

Huskers say fill your ‘Barf Bucket’ now
Having a toolkit, or “Barf Bucket” as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension calls it, can help with the proper handling of messy incidents associated with norovirus, sometimes referred to as the stomach flu.

Vomiting and diarrhea can hit suddenly when people are infected with the highly contagious virus. When such bodily fluids splash on floors, bathroom fixtures and other surfaces in childcare facilities, nursing homes, schools, restaurants, etc., a “Barf Bucket” is a practical item for containment procedures.

“Knowing how to clean is very important to prevent the bacteria from spreading, as the virus can survive on surfaces for up to a week and is somewhat resistant to general cleaning,” according to the Extension Service.

The Extension Service says some Barf Bucket items, such as gloves, goggles, shoe covers and protective aprons, are Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for the people who are tasked with cleaning up after a norovirus incident.

Among the other supplies recommended for a Barf Bucket kit are:

  • Liquid-spill absorbant material;
  • Single-use flat-edge scoop, shovel or dustpan;
  • Bucket;
  • Spray bottle of disinfectant; see the Environmental Protection Agency for acceptable products;
  • Paper towels;
  • Liquid soap;
  • Garbage bags for double bagging waste and cleaning materials; and
  • A designated mop.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness, and accounts for more than 50 percent of food-related outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The pathogen can spread through the air, live on surfaces and contaminate food.

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