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    The Foods Group is within the
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    P.O. Box 149347
    Austin, TX 78714-9347
    512-834-6770
      

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Current Consumer Information - Foods Group

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Allergens

U. S. Food and Drug Administration-Information about Food Allergens


Biotechnology

Biotechnology is not “in the future” anymore. The use of biotechnology to create new plant varieties has already placed “new and improved” food items on our grocery store shelves. Of course, with any new technology, there are differing opinions on whether these new foods are truly “improved.” The Food and Drug Administration has been keeping watch on these new products and has established their own views on the safety of these not so “futuristic” foods.

For more information on Biotechnology:

Visit US Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition -- Biotechnology Page


Food Irradiation

U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Food Irradiation: A Safe Measure


Food Safety

Fight Bac! -- Keep Food Safe From Bacteria

Iowa State University,Food Safety Project


Lead

Lead is especially toxic to small children and pregnant women. While most people with lead poisoning do not show any effects, symptoms of severe lead intoxication include:

  • stomach pains
  • colic
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • poor attention
  • irritability
  • headache insomnia

Lead can permanently damage the central nervous system, resulting in learning problems, growth and behavioral disorders, and other long-term health problems. Also, lead can damage the bone marrow, kidney, muscles, and liver, possibly resulting in increased blood lead levels, anemia, hypertension, muscle weakness and gastrointestinal disorders.

The risk to consumers from tableware containing lead depend on the frequency with which the tableware is used and the amount of lead that leaches into the food from the tableware. There are a variety of factors that contribute to leaching including amount of lead present in tableware, how tableware is made, the acidity and temperature of food, and how the tableware is used by the consumer.

The problem with tableware tends to be associated with the glaze, decals, or painted deigns used to decorate, and the temperature used to fire the tableware. Antique tableware is a potential problem because materials containing lead were used extensively and glazes covering the tableware tend to break down due to aging. Tableware decorated with decals or by painting generally must be fired at lower temperatures are more likely to leach lead. Another factor is how the decorations are applied. Decorations applied over the glaze are more likely to leach than those applied beneath the glaze. Tableware fired in old or poorly constructed kilns may also leach lead due to inadequate control over firing temperatures.

Acid foods and beverages -- including tomato based sauces and soups, citrus juice, Mexican style salsa, soy sauce, apple sauce, vinegar based salad dressings, cola beverages -- are more effective at leaching lead than blander foods such as milk, potatoes, rice, and vegetables.

How tableware potentially containing lead is used can also effect the leaching of lead into food. Frequency of use, the types of food and beverage (remember more acidic foods are more likely to cause leaching), and the length of time the food or beverage remains in contact with the tableware surface (for example: lead crystal wine decanters) are factors that contribute to food becoming contaminated with lead.

For more information on lead:

Visit US Food and Drug Administration:

 


Listeriosis

Listeriosis, is an infection caused by consuming food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Healthy adults and children occasionally get infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill.

The following groups are at increased risk for Listeriosis:

  • Pregnant women - They are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy.
  • Newborns - Newborns rather than the pregnant women themselves suffer the serious effects of infection in pregnancy.
  • Persons with weakened immune systems
  • Persons with cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • Persons with AIDS - They are almost 300 times more likely to get listeriosis than people with normal immune systems.
  • Persons who take glucocorticosteroid medications
  • The elderly

Listeria monocytogenes is found in soil and water. Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin such as meats and dairy products. The bacterium has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in processed foods that become contaminated after processing, such as soft cheeses and cold cuts at the deli counter. Unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk may contain the bacterium. The bacterium can be killed by thoroughly cooking food products.

The symptoms of Listeriosis are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea

If the infection spreads to the central nervous system, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions

Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.

In some cases involving a highly susceptible population, Listeriosis can result in death. A highly susceptible population consists of persons who are very young, elderly, or suffer from a variety of underlying medical conditions.

The risk of an individual person developing Listeria infection after consumption of a contaminated product is very small. If you have eaten a contaminated product and do not have any symptoms, we do not recommend that you have any tests or treatment, even if you are in a high-risk group. However, if you are in a high-risk group, have eaten the contaminated product, and within 2 months become ill with fever or signs of serious illness, you should contact your physician and inform him or her about this exposure.

For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Listeriosis General Information Web page.


Trans Fat

U. S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Trans Fat Information


*This page provides links directing you to outside sources of information. These links will take you away from the Foods Group Web site and are provided as a service and the validity of the information provided at links to other sites cannot be guaranteed. These links do not necessarily imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data, or products presented at locations provided through the links on the Food Groups Web site.



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Last updated July 03, 2012