Botox, MSG, Salmonella – OH MY!

Happy Monday everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately – life has been hectic with midterms and whatnot. Meals have been pretty repetitive and and rather visually unappealing (but still tasty!). If you are interested in my breakfast recipe for savory pumpkin-tahini oatmeal, let me know… And this weekend I went to Fresno to see all my housemates homes, so I didn’t cook at all! It was fun though; I got to meet all of their families and friends from back home.  I also attended a Japanese post-funeral gathering with lots of food and ate many things without knowing what they were. Twas interesting.

This week though, I plan on posting delicious recipes! At the moment, I am studying for my Food Chem midterm that is in two hours and I want to share some of the highlights of what I have learned in the last month. I’m actually just looking for an alternative way to study and am going to abuse y’all….

Why is breast feeding beneficial to newborns?

The milk that comes from lactation is rich in oligosaccharides, which are very large carbohydrates that cannot be digested by humans. Milk from lactation actually contains more oligosaccharides than protein because they are so important! They remain undigested until they reach the colon, where bacteria feed on them. Milk from a mother contains the bacteria bifididobacterium infantis which colonizes in the intestines of her child. The bacteria take up most of the space and resources in the colon and are completely harmless, thus making it near impossible for pathogenic bacteria to grow and feed on the oligosaccharides. This protects the child from illness from the bad bacteria. Premature and/or C section babies are at a higher risk of illness due to the failure to transfer healthy intestinal bacteria to the child, which makes it less responsive to breast milk components. Breast feeding reduces the risk by 10x. This is also why probiotics are good for us; they compete with pathogenic bacteria and break down fiber in our colon.

What are some key differences between bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, and prions in relation to food safety?

Bacteria and fungi multiply in FOOD and we get sick from eating the food which contains toxins from the bacteria’s metabolism. Some bacteria also multiply in our GI tract.

Viruses, parasites, and prions do not multiply in food, but in human BODIES and it is their increase in population that gets us sick.

A food-borne infection is due to eating the actual microorganisms in the food which then multiply and get us sick. A food-borne intoxication is when the microorganisms deposit products from their metabolism into food which we eat and it is the products that get us sick, not the microbes.

Bacteria die at temperatures above 212 degrees F.

Why is salmonella such a problem now days?

It was named after Dr. Salmon who isolated it from pigs in 1885. Before 1950, it usually presented itself as typhoid fever. Post 1950, it shows up within 8-72 hours as gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea, ab pain, fever). When there are salmonella outbreaks, they tend to last a long time because infected persons  excrete it for up to 3 months. During that entire time, they can infect food by handling it improperly. Furthermore, salmonella is stable in dry foods which have a long shelf life and no “kill step,” like almonds, shredded coconut, peanut butter, chocolate, dried eggs or milk, spices, and cereal. So, outbreaks can last not only until those products are off store shelves, but until they have been used up in homes. If salmonella is in spices, it is hard to identify what the cause of the outbreak was, because spices are added to so many other things. Also, it only takes 1-10 cells to infect a person with salmonella.

What are the best ways to prevent foodborne illness?

Hygenic food handling, cooking at high enough temperatures, rigid temperature control during cooking and storing, washing fruits and veggies well, not using manure to fertilize gardens, and not keeping foods warm for long periods of time (heating lamps).  If you are pregnant of sick, do not consume unpasteurized milk, uncooked deli meats, raw meat, or unpasteurized juices.

Doesn’t heating foods render them nutrition-less?

All components of food are are subject to being destroyed at certain temperatures for certain amounts of time. Luckily, the first things to go at lower temperatures for shorter periods of time are bacteria, then enzymes, then vitamins, and then pigments.

Is botulism (aka Botox) toxic?

Yes! One micro gram (that is 1/1000 of a gram) can kill an adult. The bacteria is named clostridium botulinum and within 12-24 hours of infection, one will develope nausea and vomiting. In 2-9 days, weakness and dry mouth will occur and death will occur in 20% of people due to flaccid paralysis (muscles cannot contract, so you cannot breathe). It may be responsible for some cases of sudden infant death syndrome because the bacteria can live in the colon of babies. However, the bacteria can not grow in the presence of air.

Can I ignore the expiration date on milk and go by smell?

Bacteria can multiply by dividing in 2 every 20 minutes. By the time an off odor has developed in your milk or food, there are already enough organisms in there to make you sick. So no.

How do we prevent mold growth and yeast growth on our foods?

Drying or adding salt or sugar to  reduce the moisture, or fermenting or adding acid to lower the pH to below 4.6 (when pathogenic organisms cant grow), or freezing or adding preservatives with antimicrobial compounds. It should be noted that keeping foods cold will prevent growth of bacteria but will not kill anything pre-existing.

Are all food allergies genetic?

Food allergies are the body’s failure to tolerate a particular food and can be genetic or happen due to exposure. 60% of the population has no predisposition to allergies. 40% of the population is susceptible to developing an allergy. The body only needs to make the decision to accept or have a reaction to a food once. The allergen needs to be exposed early and the body may fail to tolerate it due to environmental factors. With repeated exposure, sensitivity increases. Celiacs are unique in that allergies to gluten can be genetic.

MSG is found naturally in foods, does that mean it’s OK?

No. Any MSG that is naturally occurring in foods is at a low level that is completely safe. Added MSG is not at levels similar to those found in nature.

My sources are simply lecture and slides, but if you really want them, I can give you the link to my course website!

Quick & easy snack idea: Mix 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts with 1 tsp wasabi powder for a super addicting healthy snack!


12 thoughts on “Botox, MSG, Salmonella – OH MY!

  1. I love that you’re blogging to help you review AND to teach us! Good luck on your midterms – I know you’ll do great! Roasted peanuts and wasabi sound like a great combo.

  2. OMG I never want to get Botulism! Some pretty interesting things you have listed here! And really disgusting too. I cringed a few times.

    I’m interested in your savory pumpkin-tahini oatmeal recipe even though I feel a little queasy now. lol

  3. Still, the milk date is an estimation. It can go bad before the date, so smelling the food before eating is never a bad idea.

    Can you talk about yeast extracts and other sneaky ways of getting what is essentially MSG into foods without having to say MSG?

    ps – breastfeeding also burns LOTs of calories and is such a sweet time for mama and baby. I kinda miss it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s