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5 Holiday Hacks To Stay Bacteria Free This Christmas By

The Holiday season is everyone’s favorite time of year, but unfortunately it’s also the time of year where bacterial growth is at its highest peak. When temperatures drop, we start encountering viruses like the common cold and influenza more frequently. Not only are our bodies at risk for catching viruses, but we are more than likely surrounded by the ones you love, who are just as susceptible. The holiday season is the most favorable season to eat and cook with your loved ones. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time holiday party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup… the holidays are a time to take food safety protocols very seriously.

Here are 5 Food Safety Hacks to keep your holiday season bacteria free.

1.) Wash your hands
Washing your hands is the best way to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of bacteria to your loved ones. Banish bacteria by washing hands before and after handling meats and produce. Hand washing is a win for everyone, not just you. Repeat after me: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse!

2.) Cook food thoroughly
Cook each dish at the correct temperature that the recipe calls for, and before serving anything to your family or friends, double check to ensure its cooked all the way through. Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. One of the safest ways of controlling contamination from bacteria is using a food thermometer. Safe minimum internal temperatures vary in different types of meats commonly cooked. Using a thermometer can ensure that the food has reached the correct temperature that will destroy any harmful bacteria. 

3.) Stay away from the “Danger Zone”
The temperature range in which food-borne bacteria can grow is known as the Danger Zone.

This is very important when it comes to thawing your poultry, meats, and seafoods safely. As soon as these products begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply. You can safely thaw your products in 3 different ways: In the microwave, in cold water, or in the refrigerator. Another tip to consider to avoid the Danger Zone – Don’t let your post dinner drowsiness get in the way of safety and packing up remaining food properly. Refrigerate uneaten food within two hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth. Leftovers is one of the best parts of holiday parties!

4.) Avoid eating dough or batter
Attention: Kids (and some sneaky adults): Keep your fingers out of the cookie dough bowl! Uncooked dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful bacteria germs such as E Coli and Salmonella. As tempting and delicious as the dough may look, the health risks are not worth it. Keep dough and batters refrigerated if not being used, and make sure to throw out any extra dough over 4 days of refrigeration. 

5.) Keep foods separated
There are many different serious food allergies. Whether your niece is actually gluten intolerant, or she just likes to avoid it, be sure to know exactly what’s in each food prepared and inform your holiday guests. Keep meat and seafood separate from all other foods and prevent juices from leaking onto the other prepared foods. Foods kept at different temperatures should be on different plates to avoid possible bacterial growth. Salads should go next to the other salads, and the meats should go next to the other meats. 

  • 7 December, 2018
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How the US’s approach to food safety differs from the EU’s approach By

Policy approaches regarding food safety in the US and the EU are dramatically different. In the European Union, their principal is straight forward: If there is substantial evidence of danger to human/environmental health, protective action is taken, despite scientific uncertainty. In the United States, scientific proof of harm to human/environmental health must be demonstrated before action is taken. Our question is this: Should additives be innocent until proven guilty?

European regulations against additives in foods and chemical residues are generally more strict than in the US, due to their precautionary approach. As a result, there are many petrochemical-based food colorings (foods derived from petroleum) banned in the EU, but approved in the US. For example, artificial dyes in food products have been banned from the market in Norway and Austria due to health concerns. Popular food dyes, such as Yellow Dye No. 5, have been linked to problems in children including but not limited to: allergies, increased aggressiveness, and learning impairments. Due to Europe’s stricter regulations, foods containing these additives were taken off the shelves following the publication of only a handful of studies that outlined their potential negative health effects. However, in the US products that contain these coloring agents are considered safe are allowed to be sold as long as they are included in the ingredients list.

Another example is Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO), which acts as an emulsifier in soda and sports drinks. BVO contains bromine, an element found in brominated flame retardants. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), BVO has been sitting on a list of food additives “permitted on an interim basis pending further study” for decades. Like many chemicals in foods, BVO was placed in “regulatory limbo” and is deemed as safe until further notice. Many studies have concluded that bromine disrupts normal hormone function, brain development, thyroid function, fertility, and can even increase one’s risk of cancer. The chemical has been banned in more than 100 different countries including almost all of Europe.

Contaminants such as heavy metals are substances that have not been intentionally added to food, but are present in food as a result of various reasons. This could be production, packaging, transport or holding. Since contamination has a negative impact on the quality of food, the EU’s legislation set specific levels of contamination to be legally permitted. For example, Arsenic is a heavy metal present in drinking water, grain-based products, and seafood that have been found to have carcinogenic properties and put humans at risk for different forms of cancer, and induce behavioral abnormalities in adults. In the EU only 5% of arsenic comes from water and 95% comes from food…to put into perspective, you’d need to drink 5 liters of water to get the equivalent arsenic toxicity levels of a small 100g portion of rice. There is strict regulation around arsenic in water supplies and little to no regulations in arsenic levels in foods. The EU announced guidelines for arsenic in rice: 200 ppb (parts per billion) while in the US, there is no standard for arsenic in food.

Yellow Dye #5, BVO, and Arsenic are just a few examples of chemicals found in food that are allowed to be consumed in one part of the world, but are banned in others. The EU and the US authorities have simply reached different conclusions about food safety, based on the same amount of evidence and research. I don’t know about you, but it makes us feel uneasy that there is no scientific or regulatory consensus when it comes to the agricultural and food products that we consume.

So what does this mean for us, the consumers? We are expected to comply with these differentiated ways of approaching the chemicals added in our food, and found in our food, depending on where we find ourselves living in the world. TestSharing gives the power back to the consumer, by giving you the most powerful weapon: knowledge. The way TestSharing scores the foods we test is by a simple to understand index scale. Our index scale always prioritizes the strictest and safest scores making sure our users are fully aware of the toxins and residues presented in the tested foods. Let’s make toxin-free eating a choice for everyone, regardless of the place where you reside.

  • 27 November, 2018
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The truth about superfoods By

What’s so super about ”superfoods” anyway? So called superfoods are simply foods that are packed with nutrients and are seen to have a significant amount of health benefits. However, the term “superfoods” was invented as a marketing buzz term to suggest that any food under the label would provide significant health benefits. While the term has been recorded as far back as the 20th century, it has only become popular in mainstream advertising and language within the last 10 years.

The media claims to have the latest research on these specific superfood groups, exclaiming that consumption of these foods will lead to optimum health. Some recent headlines suggesting as much:

“Shed pounds with superfoods and get your body back”
“Superfoods: The key to perfect skin!”
“These superfood seeds you need to be the strongest you.”

Marketing tactics seem to almost suggest that if you consume these superfoods alone, there is no need to consume other foods. Foods you often see marketed this way are exotic and expensive foods that you can only get at health food stores or online. To name only a few: Goji berries, chia seeds, spirulina, maca, dandelion root, acai, and moringa. And while these trendy superfoods do indeed have amazing amounts of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce risks of certain diseases, we cannot overlook all the other healing foods available to us that offer some of the same healing properties. Here is a quick compare-contrast of some popular superfoods and more common and practical foods.

Coconut Oil vs Avocados – Coconut oil is labeled as a superfood because of the high amounts of medium chain fatty acids, which convert into energy more easily and are less likely to form artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. Avocados also contain a high amount of monounsaturated fats, they also contain folate, vitamin E, and antioxidants that help protect your body from diseases.

Goji Berries vs Blueberries – Both goji and blueberries derive health benefits from the high amounts of antioxidants they contain. Goji berries contain about 2-4 times the amount of antioxidants of blueberries, however blueberries also contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and have digestive aiding nutrients that help heal your gut.

Maca vs Brazil Nuts – The root vegetable maca is loaded with nutrients and is known for its hormone balancing effects. Maca regulates stress levels, gives a boost in energy/mental clarity, and increases sex hormone production. Not many foods can improve sexual performance, protect against cancer, and boost metabolism, but Brazil nuts can. Brazil nuts contain the powerhouse selenium, which is an antioxidant that plays many roles in the body. The selenium in Brazil nuts balances hormone levels, boosts testosterone, and also delivers a healthy dose of omega-3’s, alpha-linolenic acid, and manganese.

Spirulina vs Spinach – Spirulina has one of the most well-balanced nutritional profiles, and contains high amounts of protein, fiber, and reduces the risk of many different diseases. Spinach is an excellent source of nutrients including folate, zinc, calcium, iron, vitamin C, fiber, protein and magnesium. Spinach can also help reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, and contains high levels of carotenoids that profoundly reduce inflammation.

Chia Seeds vs Oats – Both chia seeds and oats are high in fiber, rich in calcium, and provide a great source of protein. Chia seeds get the title superfood because of the omega 3’s the seeds contain, which reduce inflammation and aid heart health. Oats contain high amounts of magnesium, prevent hypertension, and regulate your hormones to keep you full and satisfied longer. Oats also contain a unique fiber called beta-gluten, which is an anti-fungal and helps eliminate harmful bacteria.

It is a mistake to expect that foods under the “superfoods” umbrella alone will significantly improve our well-being and overall physical health. The truth is, so many foods that you see every day at your local grocery store contain close to the same amount of nutrients. There are so many foods that are considered super, available year-round, that are all around us.

Variety in our diet is important not only to gain the benefit of eating a wide amount of essential vitamins and minerals, but also to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. A crucial point we cannot overlook is that no matter how nutritionally beneficial a food may be, if is contaminated by pesticides, heavy metals, or any other environmental contaminate, it is at risk for nutrient depletion. We want our bodies to absorb the most nutrients it can from the foods that are available to us, right? When weighing the different nutritional benefits of our food, we cannot not overlook the importance of the quality of those foods. TestSharing will be conducting tests on the chemical residue on some of these hyped superfoods soon.

Stay tuned for the WHOLE truth on superfoods.

  • 27 November, 2018
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