Ask and Ye Shall be Rewarded…or Maybe not.

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

When I was working with restaurants, etc, there was a two-fold fear among my peers that our agency wasn’t doing enough to protect the dining public. The regulations under which we worked were geared towards providing protection from bacteria and viruses. Little, actually, was being done to protect anyone from organic or inorganic chemistry. Further, after about 1985, care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living places lost the environmental portion of their inspection process because of a fluke in federal guidance. It said all members of the care facility evaluation teams had to be able to do the jobs of everyone on the team. And since the driving force was nursing, the qualifying tests were primarily nursing-oriented. In a nutshell, over 1200 environmental health specialists who worked with food, water supply, sewage disposal, and air quality around the country were let go, and those duties were taken over by the nurses. Hmmm, I think you know where this is going.

Today, across the nation, nurses evaluating nursing and care facilities do a dynamite job looking at care. What many don’t have is much training in food safety. Now, to be fair, the kitchen staff I’ve met in care facilities, which were attached to places I was inspecting, were excellent at doing their jobs. They produced pretty safe food most of the time. What they lacked, however, was any direction on how to handle produce, including effectively washing fruits and vegetables, because the nurses lacked this training themselves.

So, one wonders how the fruits and vegetables are being handled in care facilities? Are lemons and oranges washed before the peel is grated for fresh zest? Are apples washed before they’re chopped for Waldorf salad? Is garden-fresh lettuce washed to remove whatever nature poured onto it with the rain, or carried over chemicals from the pesticides applied to tomato cutworms? Without direction from regulators, many care facilities only do what the regulations call for. And if the regulations aren’t specific, it’s anybody’s guess what the residents are getting.

The next time you talk to the care facility staff, ask them to describe how they wash fruits and vegetables. If it’s only in water, the wax and pesticides are still there…and that’s what your loved ones are eating.

 

 

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

Washing Romaine Lettuce Recipe

Tools needed

Water

Earth’s Natural Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Bowl big enough to hold a minimum of 1 gallon of water

Salad spinner bowl or cloth

Romaine lettuce

Timer

Plastic storage bag

1 tsp measuring spoon

 

 

Washing steps – Note – Laboratory testing has shown that, due to the increased surface area of the lettuce, increased amounts of concentrated solution and time when being immersed are needed to achieve maximum taste and crispness.

1. Put 2 tsp concentrated wash solution into a bowl (4 pumps with 16oz, 2 caps full with 8oz)

2. Fill a bowl with room temperature water – note bubbling/foaming action

3. Break a stalk in half, and break off the stem

4. Place in water, kneading it until it is submerged in the wash solution

5. Let sit for a minimum of 3 to 5 minutes minimum

 

 

Rinsing steps

1. Drain wash solution from the bowl

2. Fill with room temperature water

3. Knead lettuce in the rinse water

4. Drain water from the bowl

 

 

Final water removal

1. Place lettuce into a salad spinner (or a cloth spinner)

2. Place cover on, spin for several revolutions

3. Remove lettuce and place in bag appropriate for storage in the refrigerator

 

 

Storage / Eating

1. Let the lettuce cool for a minimum of 1 hour to assure a good level of crispness

a. For maximum crispness, allow washed and bagged lettuce to cool in the refrigerator overnight

2. Lettuce is ready to eat immediately or later, depending upon the level of desired crispness.

 

 

Warning:

Caution should be taken when you are cutting or eating your romaine lettuce in salads or sandwiches. This warning is based on the fact that most cooks are not used to their lettuce making noises. Once washed using the above methodology, your lettuce will be crispy & noisy every time you move or cut it. Cutting, in particular, makes some rather large crunchy noises. It should be noted that these same crunchy noises will exist in your salads or sandwiches. One customer was so startled that they dropped their sandwich when biting into it! Be aware; this could happen to you!

 

651.261.0251     Gene@LifesPureBalance.com    www.LifesPureBalance.com

Raspberries

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

Most of my raspberries come from my 5 ft by 12 ft patch and become jam. This year, the raspberries started ripening in mid-June. This is odd considering all other years it has been mid-August.  Our funky Minnesota weather might have something to do with it. All I know is I collected over 600 berries last evening, and my daughter took the bulk of them. Along with the berries came dad’s advice to wash them because they were sprayed with apple tree spray.

Why would anyone spray apple tree spray on anything other than apples? Well, the last 2 summers, our apple trees, and the raspberry patch have been heavily infested with Japanese beetles.  The chemicals in the spray kill Japanese beetles and are conveniently found in both spray formulas. Suffice it to say; we’ve found no beetles on either this year. Both contain sulfur and Captan and a variety of other things.

Back when I was in college, I worked for a testing company that tested agriculture chemicals on farm animals and beagles. The Food and Drug Act of the time said that chemicals in which humans could be exposed had to be tested every 5 years. By today’s standards, the testing was primitive. There were no mass spectrometers, computer analysis, margins of error, molecular level determinations, or genetic anomaly testing. This often resulted in warning words on product descriptions, which I believe the public did not understand. “Warning, Danger and Caution” on a product label were the results, and that label information really never got to the consumer.  Thus, if the defoliant called “dioxin” was used and some carried over to row crops, that information was never given to the consumer.

We are not using DDT anymore. Dioxins that affect people have become severely restricted. But honeybees are being affected by nicotinamides, and that information is not provided at the consumer level. Similarly, Chlorpyrifos has been shown to have neuro-developmental effects on fetuses and newborns, but that information is not being shared in an understandable form for the general public.  If you want to see what is available, the USEPA has a 142-page analysis online of study data on Chlorpyrifos dated September 21, 2020.

All of this comes down to the US, the consumers, taking the time to clean our fruits and vegetables before eating them.  You don’t have to be able to pronounce or understand what might be on your produce as long as you actively work to get it off. Using enough Life’s Pure Balance fruit and veggie wash to create bubbles and letting your produce soak for 2-minutes or longer is going to take off the icky, un-pronounceable chemical residues. On top of that, getting rid of produce coatings gives them a much better taste and extends shelf-life.

A quick tip on raspberries.  I could go with mulching with slow-release organic source materials, but I don’t want to wait to have my berries pick up what they need.  Instead, I literally cover the garden with Miracle Grow crystals as soon as the snow has melted.  The rain “melts” it into the soil and the raspberry plants explode with berries every summer. 

 

 

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

The Nature of Parabens

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

They’ve been around for a while.  Parabens, in the form of fruit coverings, are there to provide microbiological protection.  Low-dose studies in adults show no problems.  But studies are done on animals, microbes, and adult humans.  Nothing has been done in terms of kids or babies, because, ‘who in their right minds’ would submit their kids to do a study on the health effects of a chemical??

Then there is the effect of bio-accumulation over time.  Methyl-, ethyl- and butyl- parabens do accumulate over time.  MOST comes out in urine, but some accumulate in the liver.  Recent studies have shown an effect on male and female reproductivity…  Hmm, that leads me to believe ‘out of sight, out of mind’ isn’t a good philosophy, after all.

Knowing which paraben is being used in your cosmetics and food isn’t going to happen.  Most of us didn’t know about parabens until someone raised a red flag and suggested avoiding them was in everybody’s best interest.  Ingredient statements on processed foods don’t differentiate the different types, and fruits and vegetables have nothing on the label to tell you the products have been treated with anything.  Don’t believe me?  The next time you buy a bunch of bananas or head of lettuce, see if it is packaged or its “bare” and if there is any description near or on it telling you what might have been done to it before you bought it.

Even “organic” produce isn’t necessarily chemical-free.  The industry is allowed the use of some chemicals made for specific purposes.  As I recall some of the organic fungicide labels, they say to hold the product for up to 10-days before offering for sale, to let the chemical dissipate.

Where does this leave the consumer?  First, there is the unknown to consider.  The distributors (stores) usually don’t have a clue.  The wholesalers don’t either.  The growers sell to a broker who ships to distributors, who ship to stores, and onto you.  The current state of regulation doesn’t tell the food or cosmetic industry that pesticides, waxes, or cosmetic treatments be identified to consumers in a language they can understand. In a strange sort of way, it might be on a label, but you need a PhD in chemistry to understand what’s been written.

Back to “where does it leaves the consumer?”  I guess the best way to protect yourself is to wash produce with something that’s proven to take off as much as possible of what’s on the outside of produce before you eat it.  Life’s Pure Balance Fruit and Veggie Wash dissolves and ties up the chemicals.  It lifts off the bacteria.  The pesticides and (parabens)waxes and organisms are mechanically removed by washing and rinsing.  Please note: the rinsing step flushes everything away and it’s an important step in the process.

 

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

What’s On Produce and Do We Really Want To Know?

Misplaced Trust and How to Clean Contaminated Food

Who is Responsible for the Quality of our Food?

Who is Responsible for the Quality of our Food?

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

My wife and I just finished a Sustainable Food class through the community college.  I was thinking it was going to be about sustainable agriculture, but to my eternal surprise, it proved to be much better.  The course was chiefly about gardening, from individual efforts around the world to corporate-sized endeavors, including a variety of topics from food deserts in our bigger cities, to turning marginal lands into corporation-sized farms;  it was very interesting.

I was struck, however, by the number of pests wanting to eat what’s grown. It is simply amazing that a farmer, of any size, can get a crop delivered to the market at all, but if you want to market apples, lettuce, beans, and tomatoes with blemishes, that’s always the option. However, most of us like produce that doesn’t look like it’s on its last legs at the market.

In a nutshell, small producers can, with lots of manual labor, remove the Japanese beetles, wash off the aphids and thrips, and who knows what they do for cutworms, though I think they have to pick them off each tomato plant, every day.  Producers can also use chemicals and cultivation to do the work for them. You can always produce and market organic foods, but even organically produced crops are allowed some chemicals, and that’s why it’s important to use Fruit & Vegetable Wash.

The food chain goes something like this:  farmers grow, harvest, and sell to wholesale marketers. They’re not required to wash the crops they sell. The wholesalers either sort, combine and send to consumer markets, supermarkets, or the products go to companies that make something of it (process).  Some of the wholesale marketers rinse off produce but not all do.  We, as consumers, are the ultimate end-users, and it is up to us to take the final step of cleaning that produce, or we face eating what wasn’t washed off in the chain of handlers before it came to us.  Since produce is offered in big bins and store shelves, other consumers get to touch, pick over, poke, prod, attempt to dent, and finally, decide to take or not take everything they touched.  Those consumer hands, which weren’t washed before the produce was handled, are the end result of using never washed cellphones, touching never washed steering wheels, wiping kid’s runny noses, touching pets, and so on.  Every time you take an apple, pear, tomato, melon, green bean, green/yellow/red pepper, and a myriad list of other bulk produce, this is what’s already on the surface.  As the ultimate consumers of unprocessed fruits and vegetables, it’s up to us to wash our produce with Fruit & Vegetable Wash before eating it.

Earth’s Natural Fruit and Vegetable Wash takes off the wax that long-term storage companies put on.  It removes the pesticides that were used in growing.  And it removes the grime that was left from other people’s hands.  Now you have produce that will taste better and be clean enough to eat.  Enjoy!

What you can Learn from a Label.

What you can Learn from a Label.

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

Yesterday, I met with a farming friend who has a couple of college degrees and a smattering of super intense biochemistry courses under his belt.  We spent some time talking about the Bayer payout of $9 billion dollars to the victims of Round-Up induced medical problems.  Part of our discussion was about what labels tell users about the potential problems there are when handling the product.  We both agreed that few people really understand what “Caution, Warning and Dangerous” mean and why it’s important to follow the use instructions on labels.

I may sound like a teacher, when I say “Been there, done that.”  My wife says I still wear the educator hat when I write on important product safety topics.  She’s right.  After years of educating people, it’s hard to walk away.  But it still amazes me what people don’t know about the products they use every day.  To that end, it’s been decided to educate our customers a little more about labels, so here goes.

“CAUTION” means multiple things based on circumstances.  Being cautious when picking a college or a sign that makes you aware that something that could cause a falling accident is in the area.

A “WARNING” label tells us there is a danger of serious harm or misfortune ahead.  It’s like a stop sign telling us to stop what we’re doing, look around for oncoming traffic and proceed accordingly.  Signs saying: “Warning: unauthorized entry is prohibited” or, “Warning: guard dog on-premises”  Or, “Warning: substance contains very flammable liquids–keep away from open flames” all give you the reason why your brain has to be engaged in these situations. 

A sign that says “DANGER” is a warning of injury, loss, or pain.  A dangerous situation provides risk, hazard, or some sort of peril. With the exception of road signs, it always defines what is in the product or situation that could injure you.  Examples might include, “DANGER, the product can cause severe skin reaction” is different than being cautious when working with a chemical.  In a nutshell, using CAUTION or being CAUTIOUS means being aware that there are situations that deserve your concentrated attention.  Seeing the word ‘caution’ should make you focus your attention and think about how to avoid whatever it is that could negatively affect you. An example would be a yellow “Caution – Wet Floor” sign, “Caution – Always use with protective gloves,” or “DANGER: May cause severe drowsiness.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dictate what hazard words are used to notify users of the perils they face.

If you read the label on Earth’s Natural Fruit & Vegetable Wash, you’ll see a “WARNING”.  Not to worry, though. Our fruit and veggie wash is a citric acid-based cleaner that completely washes off the product, so there are no carryover chemicals to be worried about. The peril is that it could be an eye irritant. Accidents happen when measuring or pouring the cleaner into a bowl.  And if it does put a little water in your eye to flush it out.  All the ingredients have been granted GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status by the EPA and the US Food and Drug Administration.  Just follow the directions and you’ll end up with produce that’s clean and tastes super good!


Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the food service inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

Carry Over

“Carry-Over”

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

Last week, I visited friends who live in very rural Winona County.  They live on a piece of land I would describe as ‘God’s Country’ because it is coiffed with prairie meadows of natural flowers, tall grass, butterflies, and tall sweetcorn.  Seriously, I expected Julie Andrews to fly out singing, “the hills are alive, with the sound of music..”.  They have a big garden, a tall fence, and blueberries the size of nickels.  But, being surrounded by farm fields, they also face pesticide carry-over.

On my way back, I spotted a low flying helicopter.  It looked odd until I realized it had spray arms and it was a crop duster, getting ready to make a pass on an assigned field of soybeans.  If you’ve never seen this done, it is pretty amazing to see them skim the crop.  Even with corn 5 ft tall, they appear to be just a couple feet above the tassels.  The prop wash, be it from a helicopter or small plane, causes the pesticide cloud to drift.  Of course, most go on the crop below, but some carry over to surrounding areas.  And if there is more than a slight wind, the cloud may drift quite a distance.

It would be ideal if all of our produce came from small plot growers.  Alas, that’s not the case. A quick internet search will show you 70% of the fruits and vegetables we consume in winter months, come from outside the United States. Growers are restricted as to the chemicals they can use to produce a crop sold to the US market, but only a small, statistically significant percentage of samples are checked for chemical residues, so the potential is there for surface contamination to exist. Grocery stores and even the super supermarkets are under no obligation to clean produce, and they don’t.  That part of food safety is left up to you and me, the consumers. You see where this is going, don’t you?  If you don’t wash off the pesticides, nobody else is going to do it for you.

Herbicides and pesticides are oil-based.  It’s how they stick to the plants and hang around long enough to keep our food looking good.  Water alone doesn’t do much to dissolve or wash away natural or synthetic chemicals.  You owe it to yourselves to clean the chemicals off your food before you eat it.  Life’s Pure Balance fruit and veggie wash does this for you.  At about 9 cents each time you mix it, the bank won’t be broken and your family will have produce that tastes good and is free of chemical contaminants.


Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the food service inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.