Scary News About Plastics – Read, Shop and Rethink for Safety

This is a follow up to my Facebook post and article link about the safety or rather “unsafety” of plastics deemed “BPA free”.  As Earth Day Approaches I hope more people will read these articles and come up with some solutions to protect not only our earth but our children and families as well.

 

I’ve always advocated for stainless steel for lunch boxes, utensils and snack containers.  I never put hot foods in plastic or in the microwave.  I’ve always used “real” dishes, utensils, and glasses (meaning glass, porcelain and stainless) even when my kids were babies .  So, I was already motivated to throw away most of our plastic.

 

I don’t think of our family as using plastic much, but it was surprising that we do and not even think about it.  My kids use their PlanetBoxes and sometimes a stainless KidsKonserve bottle,  but most days they use a BPA free (ha!) sports bottle for water.  We all thought BPA was the poison and were lulled and marketed into “BPA Free”.  My kids use a fluoride rinse at night and I pour it into a plastic cup.  So I threw those away.  But wait the rinse is already in plastic(!).  I also threw away my kids favorite curly straws.  They don’t use them often, but they weren’t happy to see them go.  I also tossed out some “BPA Free” storage containers I sometimes use (when the glass runs out) or we’re taking something to a potluck (and I don’t mind if I leave the container behind).

 

Plastic, BPA Free or not, really is everywhere.  So besides ridding our glasses and food storage we may have to think about some other changes.  Of course there’s the packaging of food items which is hard to avoid at the grocery store.  But perhaps now we should remove the food from packages and transfer to glass when we get home.  What about that fluoride rinse?  I can’t really keep that in a pitcher or thermos.  Maybe tin cups for the bathroom?  I get worried with glass in the bathroom.  I ordered some stainless straws online (they don’t come in curly).  I went out and bought more glass food storage containers – but even most only offer those with plastic lids.  I’ll have to be more careful when packing for potlucks and events and remind myself to get my dishes back.  I’m working on the water bottles.  We already have glass and stainless but my kids like the plastic for sports games.  They don’t have to worry about breakage and are lighter to carry in their bags.  Anyone with the perfect non plastic sports bottle/container?  Please share and we can all work together.

I was so angry after reading this article about plastics.  And I grew angrier trying to rid my house of these.  I know it’s been excerpted in other periodicals and shorter articles but this full story is infuriating.  It’s amazing how big business and lobbyists are able to jump on the next bandwagon and fight consumers and families on issues of such important safety concerns.  This article details how the old tobacco consultants are now leading the efforts to keep plastic companies out of trouble.  Why not spend all those dollars to create a new plastic type material without harmful chemicals?  Here’s the entire article and study if you want a rude awakening.

The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics

 

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Ready, Set, Safety. Tips for Planning and Creating a Healthy Holiday Meal

If you’re making your list and starting to plan for next week’s turkey dinner there’s a great website created by the Partnership for Food Education to help.  This resource has info on everything from how to choose, store and cook a turkey as well as some fun food prep activities for kids and yummy recipes to please everyone at your table.  Check it out here.

Once the planning and shopping is over and you’re ready to get into the kitchen here are a few things to remember in terms of home food safety for your holiday meal: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

  •   Clean – Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food; wash surfaces often with hot water and soap.
  •   Separate – Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart, grocery bag and in your home refrigerator; use separate cutting boards for fresh produce and for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep in mind your turkey shouldn’t be lying next to your spinach, and yams, until everything is cooked and on your plate.
  •   Cook – Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illness. Your turkey should be cooked to a minimum of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the temperature of your stuffing as well! Best and most healthful results come from preparing and cooking the stuffing separately – outside the bird.
  •   Chill – After a big holiday meal, we’d like to think everything will keep while we take a quick nap; however for safety, your delicious leftovers need to be refrigerated promptly – within 2 hours. Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning at home.These reminders to follow the Fight BAC!® basics are from The National Turkey Federation and Partnership for Food Safety Education.

 

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Mc…Yikes! Humane Society Sues Smithfield Farm and McDonalds Over McRib

You’ve seen the ads – It’s Back!  Not only is the item questionable, being made of bits of tripe, heart, stomach.  There’s the addition of chemicals found in yoga mats an sports shoes.  Now the Humane Society says the pigs supplied by Smithfield Farms are treated cruely and unusual in small dirty cages.

Here’s the whole story…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/11/04/mcrib-lawsuit-humane-society-smithfield-farms_n_1075992.html

 

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Turkey Warning…

There are a few new food recalls concerning dairy, papayas, cat food and 36 million pounds of ground turkey.  There’s been one death and 77 illness of salmonella in 26 states due to the contamination.  The FDA is cautioning people not to eat ground turkey and products made with ground turkey.  Here’s the whole story…
http://news.yahoo.com/salmonella-found-ground-turkey-cat-food-papayas-dairy-173600802.html

Here’s a chart of the Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures from foodsafety.gov.
Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood,
and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

 

Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Any
cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has
reached a safe internal temperature.

Why the Rest Time is Important

After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to
rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature
remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

category Food Temperature
(°F)
Rest Time
Ground Meat
& Meat Mixtures
Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal,
Lamb
Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and
Ham
Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs
& Egg Dishes
Eggs Cook until yolk
and white are firm
None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until
flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is
pearly and opaque.
None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells
open during cooking.
None
Scallops Cook until flesh
is milky white or opaque and firm.
None

 

 

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Safely Feeding Babies – 10 Important Tips (plus 1 you already know)

From Lisa Barnes

I see many questions and myths shared about food for babies on parenting websites and blogs.  The ones that are most alarming to me are those regarding food safety and proper food handling, and all the “my grandmother used to_______” (the ______ was something like “put Brandy in a bottle” or “put honey in the cereal”.

Babies usually triple their birth weight the first year. That’s why nutritious and safely handled food, served in an age-appropriate way, is so important.  Being aware of safe food handling practices and potential feeding dangers are the best ways to protect your family from food illnesses and accidents, while also giving your child a healthy start on development and growth. Here are a few important tips and reminders.  (of course you know the final one – that’s why you’re reading it on this blog)

1. Wash Hands. It’s important to wash your hands before preparing food or beverages, especially when feeding babies. According to a Penn State University study of mothers with infants less than 4 months old many moms said they routinely forget to wash their hands after changing baby’s diaper, and using the bathroom. Not washing hands could result in infant diarrhea from the bacteria transferred while engaging in these activities.

2. Handle Bottles Carefully. Although some babies will drink a bottle straight from the refrigerator, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises most babies prefer milk warmed to room temperature. Warm the bottle by holding it under a running hot-water faucet or putting it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Shake well and test milk temperature to make sure it’s not too hot before feeding. Microwaves can heat unevenly. Children’s mouths and throats can be severely burned by bottles heated in the microwave.  Always discard leftover milk in bottle to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria.

3. Cow’s Milk. Avoid serving regular cow’s milk until infants are 1-year-old. Before then, infants may experience an allergic reaction, stomachache and low blood iron. When you begin serving regular cow’s milk, serve whole milk.  Do not switch to lower fat milk until the baby’s doctor recommends this change usually around age 2.

4. Mixing Cereal and Formula in the Bottle. Do not serve cereal mixed with formula from a bottle.  Many think this practice helps babies sleep better through the night, however there is no evidence of this. Plus, there is a possibility of a baby choking.

5. Hold Baby When Bottle-Feeding. Babies who are put to bed with a bottle are more likely to have cavities. This practice also increases the potential of choking.

6. Limit Juice. Serve only 100 percent juice and in small quantities so it doesn’t interfere with the infant eating other nutritious foods. AAP recommends giving juice diluted with water only to infants who are approximately 6 months or older and who can drink from a cup. AAP recommends offering no more than a TOTAL of 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day to infants. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition)

7. Avoid Honey And Corn Syrup. Do not serve infants honey or corn syrup during the first year of life. These foods may contain botulism spores that could cause illness or death in infants.

8. Food Introductions. When introducing new foods, try only one at a time, and start with single-ingredient foods. Avoid serving mixed ingredient foods until each food has been given separately. Begin by serving about 1 to 2 tablespoons and then increase the amount as baby wants more. Wait at least 3 days before trying another new food so you can tell if there are any adverse reactions.

Iron-fortified rice cereal is usually the first food offered, as this is easily digested. It’s frequently recommended to continue fortified baby cereal through the first year of life.

Remember your baby will still be receiving the majority of nutrition from breast milk or formula during the first year.

9. Serve Solids Safely. Transfer an amount you feel baby will eat from the baby food jar to a dish. Throw away any food left uneaten in the dish. Avoid feeding directly from the baby food jar. Bacteria from a baby’s mouth can grow and multiply in the food before it is served again. Use refrigerated jarred baby foods within 1 to 2 days after opening.

Once opened, do not leave baby food solids or liquids (breast milk or formula) at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can grow to harmful levels when food is left out longer than this.

10. Choking Hazards. Avoid serving foods that may choke an infant, such as nuts and seeds, raw carrots and celery, whole kernel corn, raisins, large chunks of meat or cheese, popcorn, chips, pretzels, grapes, whole berries, cherries, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, hard candies, pickles, hot dogs, marshmallows (regular or miniature), and peanut butter. In general, avoid foods that are round and firm, sticky and chewy or cut in large chunks.

As infants grow into toddlers, they can begin eating the foods above, if cut into small pieces. Most pediatricians advise foods should be no larger than 1/4 inch for toddlers and 1/2 inch for preschoolers.

Plus One…

Finally my continuing tip and philosophy is to serve organic.  Try to purchase organic foods for babies and children whenever possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals.  According to the US EPA Department of Health and Human Services, the greatest exposure to pesticides and chemicals is in a child’s first 4 years.  See my post Why Organic for Kids.
~
See also Lisa’s Introducing Solids To Baby (with Organic Sweet Potato Puree Recipe)
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lisa Barnes (her babies tasting their first food)
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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