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 Alchemy Systems.

Watchdog group pleased with drug drop
The Food and Drug Administration’s 2016 results show a 10 percent decrease in antimicrobials sold for use in animals, which is good news for animals and people, according to the Center for Food Safety.

The continuation of such declines in recent years is an encouraging development, signaling “a lasting change in the food industry,” according to Cameron Harsh senior manager for Organic and Animal Policy at the center.

This step toward safer food is partly a result of big companies like McDonald’s, Subway and KFC asking suppliers to eliminate unnecessary uses of antibiotics in chicken during the last few years, after pressure from various organizations, including the Center for Food Safety.

A threat to food safety, “misuse of antibiotics important to human medicine in food animals is linked to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose significant harm to humans. Antimicrobials have been routinely used to promote rapid weight gain and keep animals from succumbing to illness and disease in overcrowded, filthy conditions,” according to the center.

John (right), ridden by owner Doug Parker, overcame botulism poisoning to qualify for the World Series of Team Roping. Courtesy of UC-Davis

‘John’ is healthy as a horse again
Near death earlier this year because of food poisoning, a champion roping horse has recovered from a case of botulism linked to contaminated grain. Doug Parker, owner-rider of “John” was quick to seek help, as a stablemate had previously died from a case of botulism.

Emily Schaefer, a resident at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Center, said that when John arrived for treatment, “he preferred to lay down for long periods and eventually became so weak that he could not physically get up without help. He was becoming paralyzed.”

John remained hospitalized at UC Davis for 26 days. During that time, he was treated with botulism anti-toxin plasma. He received other supportive care including intravenous fluid therapy, anti-inflammatories, and vitamin E.

Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that produces the toxins that cause botulism, is sometimes found in human food, especially in improperly home-canned foods. The infection is life threatening and is just as dangerous to horses and other domesticated animals as it is to people.

In humans, symptoms can include double or blurred vision, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, thick-feeling tongue, and general muscle weakness. Patients often spend a long time on respirators because the toxin paralyzes muscles used for breathing

Hot stocking stuffer for college cooks
Along with the majority of their parents, college students put themsevles and others in danger every day by incorrectly assessing the color, firmness, color of juices or shrinkage as indications of whether meat, poultry and other foods are cooked.

Food thermometers are an essential step in preventing foodborne illness from E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and other bacteria, viruses and parasites, according to public health officials at all levels.

“Using thermometers is the only way to really know your food is thoroughly cooked, and that it has reached a temperature that will destroy any harmful bacteria,” according to the Michigan State University Extension Service.

About two-thirds of people own food thermometers, but less than 10 percent actually use them. The Extension Service says looking for visual signs of doneness can result in food becoming overcooked and dry, whereas using a food thermometer can assure that the food has reached a safe temperature and is not overcooked.

There are a variety of different types of food thermometers, any of which fit nicely into a holiday stocking.

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