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What to do about food warnings?
Posted: 13 July 2009 10:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I guess that I first saw it over two years ago, maybe three.
This is not news, because it is too old.  I don’t know when the
FDA first announced it.  Concern is warranted.

People in the USA know the cook-out routine: hot dogs, and
mayonnaise salads like potato and macaroni.  After seeing the
FDA warning, I personally had stopped eating mayonnaise because
vinegar is the flavor that I truly want from mayonnaise, so why
take the risk?  Thinking back to the news reports that I have seen
in the past few years and can’t remember hearing the journalists
announce raw egg warning from the FDA.  Generations past have heard
the old warnings about raw eggs, not purchasing the cracked ones,
purchase sanitized ones.

But times have changed, and the bacteria has made its way into
the yolk of SOME OF our eggs in the USA.  When there are,
I guess, tens of millions in the USA who eat some raw egg daily,
tens of thousands seems like a small, although significant number.
I don’t think that this is one of those short term warnings that
will pass as soon as they destroy some chickens, but is instead
a more long-term warning.

“...  79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths caused by
consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella
Enteritidis.”

“Bacteria can be inside an un-cracked, whole egg. Contamination of
eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen’s ovary or oviduct
before the shell forms around the yolk and white.”

everyone is advised against eating raw or undercooked egg yolks and
whites or products containing raw or undercooked eggs.”

“A person infected with the Salmonella enteritidis bacterium usually
has fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to
72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage.” “Government
agencies and the egg industry have taken steps to reduce Salmonella
enteritidis outbreaks.  These steps include the difficult task of
identifying and removing infected flocks from the egg supply and
increasing quality assurance and sanitation measures.”

There are many popular raw egg recipes: sandwiches with
mayonnaise, potato salad, tuna salad, ham salad, coleslaw,
deviled eggs, macaroni salad, thousand island dressing, Caesar
salad dressing, raw cookie dough ice cream, etc.

Best Foods’ mayonnaise says “Is it safe…”, “Mayonnaise is NOT a food
safety problem!”  They won’t let me give you the exact link to that
question.  It is hard to read the ingredients on that web site.

What do you think?  Is mayonnaise worth the risk?  Will anyone that
I warn in person believe that raw eggs are in these popular products? 
What should I do about any upcoming cook-outs?  I feel like I’m the
only one who’s heard this, hasn’t anyone else?

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Posted: 14 July 2009 04:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, Mayonaisse is safe. But if your going for a vinegar taste, why not just use a vinegar based sauce as a dressing? For sandwiches, or salads.
If you buy store bought, name brand(or store brand, it’s all the same) mayonaisse, you are running a very low risk, very low! of getting ill. There are preservatives and other chems in mayo that make it very hearty.
Even the age old story about say potato salad at a picnic being left out too long is ridiculous. If it’s been left out long enough that the actual salad is festering and spoiled, yeah-it’s no good, or it has become hot, and rancid ok, but mayonaisse is completely safe.
I know lot’s of people who I call “finicky” eaters who are averse to mayonaisse for these reasons. They’re just not true.
Look at peanut butter, spinach, Cereals etc…all getting spoiled by salmonella at the factory. Other products too.
If you like mayo- then enjoy it. It is harmless.

Has there been specific recalls due to mayo lately? If so, then maybe some prudence is warranted.
And when I say mayo is harmless, I mean in moderation, it does contain alot of fat.

[ Edited: 14 July 2009 04:28 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 14 July 2009 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Was the warning specifically about industrially made mayonaisse, or just undercooked , or raw eggs in general?
Mayonaisse is an emulsion of oil and raw eggs. I’ve made gallons of it in my time as a cook.
The mayo that’s made by Kraft or other big companies have plenty of preservatives and safety measures built-in to ensure that Kraft is not going to go out of business.

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Posted: 14 July 2009 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Jump. Mayonaisse is made with pasteurized eggs so the risk of salmonella is very low. Before you start worrying about every food scare the media reports though you should realize that it is virtually impossible to remove all risk of food born illness from the food supply. That being said most food borne illnesses while unpleasant, are self limiting and leave no permanent effects. I myself had salmonella once ( high school honor society dinner), and while I would not like it again the only precaution I take is to wash well when ever I prepare chicken. After 20 years in medical practice I have never seen a single death related to food borne illness. They are extremely rare. It all comes back to a topic we’ve discussed here before. weighing and evaluating risk. If you drive a car you have a much, much greater risk of dying from that than would ever happen from eating mayoinaise.

If you take common sense precautions, this is all a non-issue.

[ Edited: 14 July 2009 02:26 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 14 July 2009 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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“Harmless”, “is safe.”, “finicky eaters”, you say… I think
that 79,000 would disagree, and 30 wouldn’t say a peep about it.
I am disappointed to hear you say so, and disappointed in Best
Foods also.

Recalls on peanut butter, spinach, etc. you say?  Lets add two
and two together, and compare those past recalls and this one situation.
Did you read the USDA link explaining that the Salmonella
Enteritidis (SE) bacteria has made its way from the rear of
the chicken (that’s and old warning from the 1970’s) up into the
developing eggs in the ovary?  Times have changed!  There is a real
difference now-a-days, a difference from the past egg warnings.
This infection is not about the behaviors of the human food
processors nor the behaviors of the animals in the factories.
Instead this is the behavior and/or genetics (the exact cause is
unknown, so far AFAIK) of the SE bacteria.  Gov’t officials are
having a difficult time identifying the chickens with infected
ovaries, what food would they recall when they can’t identify a
problem chicken?

On the other hand, during the spinach and peanut butter recalls,
it was thought that gov’t inspectors could find the factory(ies)
with the problem, and they looked and isolated a region,
then smaller regions, I don’t know if they narrowed it down
to individual factories in the time allotted, but that is a
different situation than this one.  Recall the food coming from
the problem region or factories, after they have been identified.
They had an easier time narrowing down the region in the past,
now they have a more difficult task, to test either: inside of
a developed hardened egg, or inside of a chicken’s ovary.

Do try to read more of the links, VYAZMA.  Logically speaking,
there are eggs infected, we don’t know which, there is an
abnormal risk of infection, do you want to gamble for the sake of
eating mayonnaise, raw cookie dough ice cream, soft boiled eggs,
runny scrambled eggs, etc.  I defend people who choose to respond
to food warnings are certainly not finicky, they are being
responsibly cautious and don’t deserve to be verbally attacked
with name calling, and you VYAZMA are jumping to that conclusion
that raw eggs are safe before you have read and understood the
warnings that are merely a click away.

Let everyone decide for themselves.  I judge Best Foods as disloyal
to the safety of their loyal customers, and the FDA USDA, as
faltering loyalty to our citizens safety.  Eggs are a very
important source of protein in our food supply, so I never want to
see eggs removed from our diets.  Industry practices don’t seem
(so far) to be responsible for this outbreak, but industries
are not being strait with us, they treat us as though we are
reactionary children.  I am insulted by the egg industry and other
food companies.

[ Edited: 14 July 2009 04:13 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 14 July 2009 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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macgyver you say, “... it is virtually impossible to remove all
risk of food born illness…” and I certainly agree.  There will
always be some risk.  But once we are aware of the source,
it warrants some sort of response.  Some defeatists would just
want us to ignore the sources, accept that there is risk, and
not try to treat the bacterias at all.  I disagree with them.
The CDC and FDA seem to want to investigate, I disagree with the
defeatists, I say that we can improve.  My title of this thread
is an open ended question, not a conclusion.

Pasteurized you say macgyver?  They’re sanitized too with a
chemical treatment on the outside, from the links above.  I don’t
think that eggs are irradiated, the pasteurization is a heating
technique don’t you think?  In the end, to reiterate, the USDA
says, “everyone is advised against eating raw or undercooked
egg yolks and whites or products containing raw or undercooked
eggs.“ I think that that organization is very reluctant to say
that, and that despite their reluctance they have advised against
eating eggs raw.  Most people aren’t aware of all the eggs that
they eat raw, habitually, I haven’t heard this from the journalists
and first saw it at least two years ago, so I posted a message.
The G. W. Bush administration has had a big influence on the FDA
over the past few years.

“... most food borne illnesses while unpleasant,... ” I’ve been
ill, probably foodborne, it passed, yuck.  “...are self limiting
and leave no permanent effects. ” I’ll take your word for the
self-limiting comment, thanks for saying so.  But the FDA says
that 30 people have died, probably sickly or not-yet-developed
people anyway and so not typical, any comments about them?

“If you take common sense precautions, this is all a non-issue.”
I don’t know about that, I’d rather vinegar on my sandwich then
mayonnaise, and I skipped the potato salad at the cook-out last
Saturday.

“I myself had salmonella once ...”  I’m sad to hear that you were
sick.  I’m glad you got well.

I do eat spinach, lettuce, I just finished a jar of peanut butter.
I am only trying to be sensibly cautious.  It is a fine line to
draw and is a matter of personal choice.  And I don’t actually
drive, the drivers do impose a large risk on my walking and
bicycling, I’m well aware.

[ Edited: 14 July 2009 04:33 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 14 July 2009 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hmmn…Ok jump. Don’t eat mayonaisse then. Just remember that Today, today alone around the world millions of people ate mayonaisse. McDonalds and Burger King alone-must have served 5 tons of it. Not to mention all the Delis from here to Timbuktu, and Subways, and Sub shops, and french fries in Europe.
I don’t have to read any links!! I’m surrounded by mayonaise, so are you! Don’t eat it then.
What links anyways? I don’t see any links in your post.

I just realized something else. That is just mayonaise, I didn’t even bring up the soft eggs, the runny yolks, the Hollandaisse sauces, the tartar sauces, the remoulades, etc..

[ Edited: 14 July 2009 05:28 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 14 July 2009 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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What the heck are you talking about “name calling”- because I used the term finnicky eaters? Are you serious?
Now here’s some serious stuff, and you can label this name calling as well- your initial post was pointed, the following replies displayed a certain…shall we say “precocious obsession”? Get real. It’s Mayonaisse!!

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Posted: 14 July 2009 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The FDA also warns against eating beef that isn’t Medium Well or burnt.
The FDA is also going to start warning people that smoking is bad for your health.
I’ll agree that the FDA has a huge “dysfunction”. It has been shown to be penetrable by “interests” and politics.
The FDA is going to regulate cigarettes? Huhnn? Someone explain that one to me.

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Posted: 15 July 2009 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Jump, I don’t want to belabor this point but you need to have some perspective. O.K so 30 people died from salmonella in one year. In the U.S. approximately 50 people a year die from lightening strikes. There are many other things you are much much more likely to die from than salmonella laced mayonnaise and you don’t worry about them every day. Each time you get behind the wheel of your car and pull away from the curb your risk of dying is orders of magnitude greater than the risk from mayonnaise but you do that every day. If you don’t drive you still need to get around and you face similar risks whether you’re driving, someone else is driving, or your’re riding in a bus. I don’t have the statistics handy but I would bet my bottom dollar that each time you step in the shower you face a far greater risk of slipping, falling and dying than you do from mayonnaise but I’m sure you don’t skip your daily shower out of fear of death.

The media’s main job is to keep you reading or watching and they love to promote these big scare stories about food. Its important not to let them distort your view of the world. Try to keep perspective in the face of all their fear mongering.

As a side note, yes pasterization is a heat process that kills bacteria. The same process is used on milk very effectively. If we wanted to reduce risks further we could radiate eggs as you alluded to but the public and government in there ultimate wisdom (not) have decided that radiation is scary and they don’t want their food radiated out of an irrational fear that it will then be radioactive. So once again because of irrational fear and a poor ability to assess risk the public and its appointed representatives have left us in a situation where we face a risk from food borne illnesses that is higher than it needs to be.

[ Edited: 15 July 2009 06:48 AM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 15 July 2009 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Just FYI,

Why and How Are Egg Products Pasteurized?  The law
requires that all egg products distributed for consumption be
pasteurized. This means that they must be rapidly heated and held
at a minimum required temperature for a specified time. This
destroys Salmonella, but it does not cook the eggs or affect
their color, flavor, nutritional value, or use. Dried whites are
pasteurized by heating in the dried form, again for a specified
time and at a minimum required temperature.

Since many new and different types of egg products are now being
formulated, government and industry are currently evaluating the
effectiveness of the pasteurization processes used for these and
other products. Additional research will determine if supplemental
or different safety measures are warranted to continue to provide
safe egg products for foodservice, industry, and consumers.

From FSIS.

That was not an argument, just some more details.

There’s no need to belabor, I understand quite well the point
that +37,000 fatalities in automobiles per year in the USA, and
cardiovascular disease fatalities far exceeds that number for
men and women both in the USA, each are more of a threat than
30 fatalities from raw eggs during this outbreak.  However, I’ve
already lowered my saturated fat intake, and raised my poly and
monounsaturated fat intake, and all but eliminated the trans-fat,
and focus on fresh fruit, vegetables, and beans, and get some
(not enough) exercise.

I have raised the issue because: it is years old; I haven’t heard
any journalists mention it; there was lots of raw egg at a cook-out
full of CFI skeptics this past Saturday, I felt like I was the
only one who has heard; during the past few years G. W. Bush has
had an anti-science, pro-secrecy influence on the FDA and other
gov’t science; I want CFI people to be safe and healthy.  So, what
to do?

I think that you two both can agree with that I (and all the
readers) have the option to avoid raw egg recipes because of
this outbreak.

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Posted: 15 July 2009 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I don’t know jump, if your trying to make the point that there is not enough media exposure on the issue of food borne illness I would have to whole heartedly disagree. There is massive over exposure of this issue. The media jumps on every oportunity to alarm the public any time there is a salmonella, e.coli, listeria, or cyclospora outbreak. From my standpoint this issue gets far more coverage than it deserves.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I quit paying attention to food warnings when the FDA proclaimed single malt Scotch is carcinogenic.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I certainly think having government agencies trying to protect our food sources and work environments is commendable, however there can be errors made - in both directions.  We all know of the cases where the agencies didn’t catch something they should.  But, there are errors on the other side, too.

I recall, many years ago when OSHA tried to ban a solvent, 2-nitropropane, as being carcenogenic.  The standard maximum level allowed in the workplace breathing air was 25 parts per million.  To be safe, most users made sure the concentration was kept below 5 ppm, and the workers had to wear respirator masks.  They put rats in glassed in enclosures, and circulated air kept at 100 ppm (to accelerate problems).  It took a while but some rats began to develop stomach cancer.  They put out a regulation prohibiting its use.  The one thing that had never cropped up with this solvent was stomach cancer so the supplier began to examine the methology.  They found the university laboratory that had contracted to do the testing was feeding the rats a wheat grain mixture that sat in the enclosures the entire time.  It turned out that the wheat was absorbing the solvent so they had to keep correcting the atmosphere to maintain the 100 ppm.  Meanwhile the rats were eating the wheat that was about a thousand parts per milion.  When they re-did the tests but put the wheat in only when the rats fed, they couldn’t duplicate any stomach cancers.  So, with much, much pressure from a great many users of the material, OSHA reluctantly rescinded their regulation.

I’m strongly in favor of regulations —just don’t be dumb about them.

Occam

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Posted: 18 July 2009 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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fotobits - 17 July 2009 05:26 PM

I quit paying attention to food warnings when the FDA proclaimed single malt Scotch is carcinogenic.

Heh, heh you poor guy!  grin

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Posted: 18 July 2009 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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The details of the safety studies are complicated, I agree Occam.
But if chemicals are causing cancer (even at high exposure levels),
I agree with OSHA’s reluctance to loosen a ban, when all
that has been done to refute the ban was to show that a study was
flawed, but there isn’t proof that the chemical (when so
many have been proven harmful in past decades) is reasonably
safe for the people exposed and safe for the environment.
Company owners are making the lion-share of the profits from
the use of these chemicals, the common people don’t know the
details behind the products that they buy and so never choose to
have the chemicals, the burden of the health and environmental
studies should fall on the company owners.  In the 1970’s did you
know that there were chloroflorocarbons in your aerosol sprays?
No commoner knew that it would cause a hole in the ozone layer,
and that banning them would reseal it.  Who would have thought that
hairsprays could reach as high as the ozone layer?  What effects
are the chemicals in your home having now?  That large-scale effect
of CFCs would have been hard to prove with any small-scale study,
but a small-scale study would certainly indicate a potential
large-scale problem.  Everyone likes modern technologies, but
companys don’t provide lists of ingretients and waste by-products,
people live innocently uninformed about chemicals.  But they need
to complain about the lack of information.

In regard to the current warnings about SE bacteria, that is more
well studied than the latest chemicals, it is infectious, so the
2-nitropropane doesn’t make a great apples-to-apples comparison
to the SE bacteria, in my opinion.  And rat studies aren’t great
indicators of the effects on humans.

There are, of course, huge obstacles in studying the risks to
people, because you have to put the people at risk and see if
they get harmed or not, that is unethical (to say the least).
So I’m not saying that there is an easy solution to these problems.

But in the end I, personally, rely on the warnings from the
agencies that are supposed to help us, that is the responsible
thing to do as I see it, short of digging into the details
personally.  Also if I think a product is risky, then I don’t
buy it and voice my concerns somewhere appropriate.

I am glad that gov’t agencies warn the people with broadcasts.
I am sad if the people over or under-react.  That can be
solved with education, by putting the warnings into the context
of all the risks that we face, to judge how big a risk it is.
If there is one thing that the journalists are bad at it is giving
people the background information that they need to understand
a warning, the appropriate context that the warning belongs in.
Instead they prefer sound-bites.

There are no easy answers.  People have to decide for themselves.
We need the help of industry regulations, because most industries
are not populated with safety/medical experts.

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