Research TipsJanuary 19, 2009
Lactose intolerant? Consider adding the over-the-counter tablet-lactase. When taken with the first bite or sip of milk products, this enzyme product breaks down the sugars you don't digest so well.
Nutr Rev. 2003 Jun;61(6 Pt 1):221-3
February 15, 2009
Peanut products are just the latest food victims of bacterial contamination. To stay "food safe" on an ongoing basis, 1) wash your hands well before handling foods and 2) keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot and out of the "danger zone."
Annu Rev Nutr. 2003;23:315-44.
February 19, 2009
Have you ever wondered why some people really like flavors that you don’t like? It may be in your genes. Some people are “supertasters” of specific flavors in foods, especially bitter flavors.
Chem Senses. 2000 Aug;25(4):447-60.
February 23, 2009
For lactose intolerant people, it’s the amount of milk that matters. Most lactose intolerant individuals can consume up to 8 ounces of milk or yogurt with a meal and not experience symptoms. Hard cheeses have little or no lactose.
Pediatrics. 2007 Sep;120(3):e669-77.
March 14, 2009
Are you a picky eater? It may be because you are a “supertaster” and more sensitive to the taste of bitter substances in foods. Just remember, you still need to meet your nutrient needs from a wide variety of foods or from dietary supplements.
Forum Nutr. 2007;60:176-82.
June 12, 2009
Food safety is a year-round concern, but the incidence of foodborne illness increases during the hot summer months. A good preventive measure is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before preparing any foods.
J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Nov;104(11):1708-17.
August 11, 2009
If lactose intolerance keeps you from enjoying foods that contain your favorite milk products, consider taking over-the-counter lactase tablets with the first bite. The enzyme contained in these products helps to digest milk sugar and prevent distress.
Nutr Rev. 2003 Jun;61(6 Pt 1):221-3.
January 19, 2010
Those with lactose intolerance are not destined to a diet devoid of high-calcium milk products. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss contain only trace amounts of lactose.
Postgrad Med J. 2005 Mar;81(953):167-73.
January 31, 2010
Tasty and decorative star fruit can be enjoyed by most of us as a good source of vitamin C. However, consuming just one fruit can cause kidney failure in people with impaired kidney function.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 May;46(5):1744-52.
February 15, 2010
Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kim chee all contain friendly bacteria that make the foods more safe to eat. To avoid unfriendly bacteria, remember to stay out of the food “danger zone” by keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Annu Rev Nutr. 2003;23:315-44.
February 20, 2010
MSG is one of the most extensively researched food additives in the world and has been declared not to represent a health hazard by multiple international organizations. For people who must watch their sodium intake, MSG contains only 12% sodium, whereas table salt is 40% sodium.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):304-13. Epub 2006 Sep 6.
May 31, 2010
Studies show that individuals with intolerance to the gluten in wheat often do not get adequate fiber from grains. Other grains that can be substituted, include rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, and millet.
J Hum Nutr Diet. 2010 Mar 23.
June 20, 2010
Lactose intolerance is not the same thing as a milk allergy. Most hard cheeses and live culture yogurts contain little lactose and are well tolerated by those with lactose intolerance.
Nutr Rev. 2003 Jun;61(6 Pt 1):221-3.
August 12, 2010
When in doubt, throw it out. Foods contaminated with microorganisms make people extremely sick and can even kill.
Nutr Rev. 2008 Feb;66(2):103-8.
September 21, 2010
In a healthy person, intestinal bacteria help to protect the body against invasion by disease-causing bacteria. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains helps to support a beneficial bacterial ecology in the lower intestine.
PLoS One. 2010 May 17;5(5):e10667.
October 29, 2010
Fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked can have a risk of foodborne illness. Like other types of produce, fresh sprouts, including organic sprouts, may become contaminated by pathogenic microorganisms. Individuals with compromised immune systems can still enjoy sprouts if they are cooked before eating.
Int J Food Microbiol. 1999 Nov 15;52(3):123-53.
November 12, 2010
True food allergies can be life threatening, but it is important to know that in a controlled clinical setting, almost 90% of children previously diagnosed with food allergies actually were not allergic to the supposedly offending foods when tested with an oral food challenge test.
J Pediatr. 2010 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print]
November 27, 2010
Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) caused by E. coli and campylobacter bacterial infections may have long-term effects. A recent study reported increased risk of hypertension, impaired kidney function, and cardiovascular disease in people who had previously suffered from these types of infections.
BMJ. 2010 Nov 17;341:c6020.
December 8, 2010
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released their first ever set of guidelines for diagnosis and management of food allergy. These standards have been much needed by clinicians. The guidelines should help to avoid depriving children and adults of foods that have been improperly identified as allergenic.
Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States
December 16, 2010
Home canned foods can be very special holiday gifts with that personal touch. Just remember that food canning is a science, not an art. Getting too creative could result in an unforgettable gift – not in a good way.
J Food Prot. 2010 May;73(5):993-1002.
February 18, 2011
Infants are susceptible to having Clostridium botulinum bacteria thrive in their immature intestine, poisoning them from within. This is why infants should never be fed honey. This concentrated sugar food can harbor the dormant spore form of this bacteria. Fortunately, honey is safe for older children and adults.
CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY REVIEWS, Apr. 1996, p. 119–125
May 10, 2011
When a child has health problems that seem to be linked to food allergies, there is a tendency for parents to overly restrict the child's diet. This runs the risk of causing nutrient deficiencies that can make the problem even worse. Children should be fully evaluated by an allergist before instituting extreme dietary restrictions.
J Pediatr. 2011 Apr;158(4):578-583.e1. Epub 2010 Oct 28.
June 6, 2011
The current E. coli food poisoning cases in Germany now appear to be due to contaminated sprouts. The warm and humid conditions used to grow sprouts are ideal for the growth of a few types of pathogenic bacteria. Food safety experts consider sprouts to be one of the most risky sources of food-borne illness.
Sprouts: What You Should Know - FDA Food Safety
June 20, 2011
Using reusable shopping bags is a great way to cut back on wasteful use of plastic bags. But, keep in mind that these bags can harbor disease-causing microorganisms and should be washed on a regular schedule.
Health Canada Advisories
July 4, 2011
Food allergies are caused by an immune response to a normally harmless food protein. In some cases, cooking a food can change the chemical structure of the allergenic protein so that the cooked food does not cause an allergic response in an individual who is allergic to the raw food. Researchers have used cooked milk in foods to help children gradually decrease their milk allergy sensitivity.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 May 20. [Epub ahead of print]
August 10, 2011
For those with celiac disease and less severe forms of gluten sensitivity, avoidance of offending foods can be very challenging. A recent study confirmed that the grains tef and millet, along with amaranth and quinoa (not true grains) are gluten-free options.
Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Aug;55(8):1266-70.
August 18, 2011
The protein called gluten is what gives bread its springy and chewy texture. To make gluten-free bread products for those with gluten allergies, food scientists are finding that egg white protein can be a good substitute for gluten in some baked products.
Food Chemistry 129(1)Nov 2011, P84-91.
August 25, 2011
Recent research has shown that the oil from the herb Coriander may help to prevent food-borne illnesses and even treat antibiotic-resistant infections.
J Med Microbiol, August 23, 2011 Epub ahead of print
September 11, 2011
"Timing is everything" can certainly apply to pregnant women. Research on a group of about 500 infants with likely milk or egg allergy found that the infants also were more likely to have signs of peanut allergy when their mothers had consumed peanuts during pregnancy.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Dec;126(6):1191-7.
September 12, 2011
How a woman eats during pregnancy may influence the risk of her infant developing food allergies. According to a study on pigs, when a mother's diet contains adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oils, the baby's gut develops better, making the baby less likely to suffer from allergies.
J Physiol. 2011 Sep 1;589(Pt 17):4341-52.
September 19, 2011
A recent meta-analysis of studies on caffeine consumption during pregnancy concluded that caffeine intake during pregnancy is not associated with premature birth. However, due to potential links with lower birth weights, it is commonly recommended to keep caffeine intake below 300 mg per day from all sources combined (coffee, tea, sodas with caffeine, etc.).
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1120-32. Epub 2010 Sep 15.
October 6, 2011
Since the usual sources of food contamination with listeria are deli meats and soft cheeses, the recent listeria food poisonings from cantaloupe are unusual. Before cutting a melon, it is good practice to scrub the surface with a clean produce brush, rinse well, and dry a clean cloth or paper towel.
CDC Investigation Update
October 14, 2011
Peanut allergies can be life-threatening. A new technique to treat peanut allergies may be on the horizon. Researchers have found that attaching a peanut protein to blood cells and infusing them back into mice can eliminate the peanut allergy.
J Immunol. 2011 Oct 5. [Epub ahead of print]
October 20, 2011
Food allergies are associated with a compromised cell-lining structure of the small intestine. Recent research in a mouse model found that feeding the animals kefir-cultured milk or soymilk reduced their allergic responses to a known allergen. Kefir is made from a traditional culture composed of both bacteria and yeast.
J Science of Food and Ag. (2006) 86:2527–2533.
October 23, 2011
To maintain natural vitamin quality and food safety, appropriate food packaging is essential. Until now, it has been difficult to determine if a packaged food container remains airtight. Marta Lewander, physicist at Lund University in Sweden, has developed a new laser instrument to check for abnormal gas content.
Laser Absorption Spectroscopy of Gas in Scattering Media - 2010 University dissertation from Lund University by Marta Lewander
October 29, 2011
Food safety is essential for nutrition and health. This is especially true when it comes to potentially deadly microorganisms such as Clostridium botulinum. Remember the simple food safety rule . . . when in doubt, throw it out.
Indian J Med Res. 2011 July; 134(1): 10–12.
October 30, 2011
With Halloween approaching, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that eating too much black licorice candy at once can be life-threatening. The compound glycyrrhizin present in most licorice can cause a drop in potassium levels in some people, leading to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and even congestive heart failure.
FDA Consumer Health Information
December 1, 2011
Although caffeine has had some good press lately, it is good to remember that "it's the dose that makes the poison." During 2009, over 13,000 people in the U.S. visited hospital emergency departments for reasons related to caffeine overdose from energy-drink consumption.
Drug Abuse Warning Network Report, Nov. 22, 2011.
December 13, 2011
Perhaps you have eaten raw cookie dough with no problem. However, it wasn't without risk. Even the store-bought, ready-to-bake cookie dough has caused food borne illness. To eliminate risk, enjoy the dough in its cookie form. That's why they are called cookies instead of doughies.
FoodSafety.gov - Dangerous Food Safety Mistakes
December 15, 2011
We enjoy the flavors of various spices and herbs used in the right amounts to season foods. However, there is evidence that concentrated preparations such as extracts and oils from some common plant products (eg. basil, fennel, and sassafras) can contain excessively high levels of carcinogenic substances.
Food Nutrition Sci. 2011;2(9):989-1010. (Nov. 2011)
January 4, 2012
Most beer is made from barley that contains gluten. An analysis of the gluten content of a variety of beers found that beers labeled as low-gluten contained about the same amount of gluten as regular beers. However, beers labeled as gluten-free did not contain gluten.
J Proteome Res. 2011 Nov 7. [Epub ahead of print]
February 18, 2012
Rice grains are known to take up arsenic present in soil. Consequently, rice can be a significant source of this toxic mineral. Samples of a popular natural sweetener called organic brown rice syrup were found to have high levels of arsenic.
Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Feb. [Epub ahead of print]
February 25, 2012
People who have impaired kidney function should not consume star fruit. The fruit's high oxalic acid levels are not a problem for those of us with normal kidney function. However, the consumption of one star fruit reportedly killed a person who had compromised kidney function.
Intensive Care Med. 2009 Aug;35(8):1459-63.
April 21, 2012
E. coli bacteria in drinking water can be greatly reduced by exposing clear plastic bottles of water to direct sunlight for at least 6 hours. Adding a twist of lime to the water reduced the needed sun exposure time to 30 minutes. This method, however, did not significantly reduce the levels of a murine norovirus.
Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2012 Apr;86(4):566-72.
May 7, 2012
Many of our food preferences may be rooted in our genes. A recent Norwegian study reported that people with a specific gene variant were more likely to dislike the smell and taste of pork that contains a substance found naturally in male pigs.
PLoS ONE 7(5): e35259.
May 10, 2012
Diallyl sulfide, a chemical found naturally in garlic, is proving to have substantial antimicrobial effects. It is likely to become a useful tool for food safety, but it does smell and taste like garlic.
J. Antimicrob. Chemother., May 1, 2012.
July 13, 2012
Breast milk is considered the ideal food for young infants, however, a new study indicates that children who were exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of life are more likely to develop nut allergies than children who are not breast fed. Children who were both breast fed and given other foods before six months of age also were less likely to develop nut allergies.
July 16, 2012
Food safety focuses largely on how to keep harmful microorganisms from growing in foods. One way to do this is to promote the growth of specific friendly microorganisms that can prevent the growth of pathogenic organisms. Brewers yeast, for example, added to a pure solution of water and malt sugar, grows rapidly, prevents other microorganisms from growing and produces beer. Yogurt is another good example of a food made safer with the growth of domesticated microorganisms in the food.
Current Biology, 12 July 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.05.033
July 27, 2012
It was previously thought that a woman's consumption of nuts during pregnancy could increase the risk of her child developing nut allergies. However, research continues to indicate that women should not decrease peanut and tree nut intake during pregnancy and that consumption of these nuts during pregnancy might even decrease the risk of allergy development in children.
J Allergy Clin Immun. 29 June 2012. [Epub ahead of print]
July 29, 2012
The grain-like seed of the quinoa plant is considered safe for people intolerant to the gluten in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. However, an evaluation of 15 cultivars of quinoa found that two of the cultivars contained levels of "celiac toxic elements" sufficient to cause an allergic response in some people.
Am J Clin Nutr August 2012 vol. 96 no. 2 337-344
August 7, 2012
Oxalic acid contributes to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible people. Vegetables like spinach, parsley, amaranth, and chives are high in oxalic acid. Drinking extra fluid can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Iced-tea contains a significant amount of oxalic acid, so it would be prudent for oxalate stone formers to limit this beverage.
USDA Agricultural Research Service
September 26, 2012
Lactose intolerance often is used as a reason to discourage milk consumption. However, a substantial amount of research indicates that those with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to a cup of milk or yogurt at a meal without symptoms. Milk products like hard cheeses have almost no lactose.
J Nutr. 2006 Apr;136(4):1107-13.
October 30, 2012
Even if you are not living in a location affected by Hurricane Sandy, it is a good time to review how to safely handle food when electrical power goes down. With a little knowledge, good pre-planning and making smart food decisions can help to keep you and your family safe.
Food Facts, U.S. Food & Drug Admin.
November 14, 2012
Although spice allergies are not very common, they are very difficult to diagnose and control by avoidance of the allergen. Current U.S. food and cosmetic labeling laws do not require that each spice ingredient be listed individually.
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Sep;107(3):191-9; quiz 199, 265.
December 4, 2012
Animal agriculture often is blamed for promoting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Recent research found that bacterial antibiotic-resistant genes were present both in human-impacted agricultural areas and in pristine natural habitats. Measures to control exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria need to acknowledge that these bacterial genes may just be part of the natural environment.
PLoS ONE 7(11): e48325.
December 23, 2012
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease sufferers may have a solution other than a gluten-free diet if new research pans out. Scientists have developed an enzyme that completely digests gluten protein components and therefore has the potential to remove gluten's allergen potential.
J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Dec 19;134(50):20513-20.
January 8, 2013
A study using over 2800 mice found that feeding pregnant mice diets containing bisphenol A (BPA) did not affect the offspring in ways suggested by previous studies. This large study did not find that BPA caused mice to have the yellow coat color linked to expression of the agouti gene that also is associated with increased susceptibility to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Dec 24. [Epub ahead of print]
January 10, 2013
A study in Sweden found that high levels of pollen exposure during late pregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of the infant being hospitalized for asthma within the first year of life. However, the potential mechanism involved in this association remains to be explored.
Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2012 Nov 7;8(1):17. doi: 10.1186/1710-1492-8-17.
January 16, 2013
Food Safety is the first step to obtaining adequate nutrition. Research on food freshness shows that people are not as discriminating about consuming expired dated foods if it is in their refrigerators as compared with the same supermarket foods with expired dates.
Journal of Consumer Research, Vol36 (1) 2009 Print Edition:
February 14, 2013
Some have suggested that the increased incidence of celiac disease may be due to an increase in the gluten content of wheat. However, an evaluation of this proposal indicates that the gluten in wheat has changed little during the past 50 years. Other causes of celiac disease are more likely and remain to be identified.
Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]
March 8, 2013
A new report from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology provides many answers to questions about reducing food allergy risks in infants and young children. Among their guidelines is the recommendation that infants can be gradually introduced to potentially allergenic foods as early as 4 to 6 months of age when they become physically ready to consume these foods.
J Allergy Clin Immun Practice. 2013;1(1):29-36.
March 9, 2013
A new study on the association of bisphenol A (BPA) exposure with childhood asthma triggered a rather hard-hitting critique about problems with the study. See the Medical Progress Today blog from the Manhattan Institute below.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;131(3):736-742.
March 28, 2013
Mice that are more susceptible to developing alcohol dependency have a behavioral response to alcohol consumption that can predict which mice will develop alcohol addiction. This may lead to behavioral assessment methods that can be used with people to evaluate a person's potential for developing alcoholism.
J Neurosci. 2013 Mar 13;33(11):4834-42. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5839-11.2013.
April 12, 2013
People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must avoid grains like wheat, rye, and barley due to the presence of gluten protein. Corn and rice do not contain the offending protein. New detailed genome, biochemical, and immunochemical analysis of the grain sorghum indicates that it lacks the offending protein and is safe for people with celiac disease.
J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print]
May 12, 2013
Cinnamon is safely consumed in the amounts commonly used in foods. Excessive consumption of cinnamon, however, may be toxic to the liver. "True" or Ceylon cinnamon has less of the liver toxins than more commonly used varieties. Those taking cinnamon supplements should do so only with medical supervision and generally should select products based on Ceylon cinnamon.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2013; 61 (18): 4470
July 4, 2013
The search for gluten-free grains for people with celiac disease has led researchers to evaluate a new variety of canary seed. The flour from this seed is gluten-free. Although the canary seed does not substitute very well for making bread, it can substitute for wheat flour in some types of foods.
J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jun 17. [Epub ahead of print]
July 13, 2013
Many people are concerned about widespread antibiotic use in animal agriculture due to the potential risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria developing that may be dangerous to humans. Others point out that excessive antibiotic use in humans is much more risky. The antibiotics used in animal feeds do not target bacteria that are commonly pathogenic in humans.
July 31, 2013
When concerns about bisphenol A (BPA) arose, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) took it seriously and conducted a full evaluation that is now available in draft form. Fortunately, they found that the average exposure to BPA from the diet is less than 1% of the current Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) value for BPA intake. If BPA is high on your list of health concerns, this report may help you move it to the bottom of your list.
Draft of EFSA Scientific Opinion on BPA
August 1, 2013
A cause of food allergies is thought to be a breakdown in the integrity of the intestinal lining that allows potentially allergenic proteins to enter the body and affect immune function. New research indicates that conditions like eczema that compromise skin integrity may represent another route of entry for allergens.
J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Jul 18. doi: 10.1038/jid.2013.298. [Epub ahead of print]
August 2, 2013
You can find carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances in many foods. However, a healthy body detoxifies the usual amounts of these carcinogens. Cooking food at high temperatures, especially deep frying, produces more of these carcinogens than baking or steaming.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 May;55:222-8.
August 22, 2013
Most of us are aware of the potential for animal products to harbor disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella. However, it is important to be aware that vegetarian foods such as the cultured soy food tempeh have the potential to support bacterial growth and should be handled and prepared with the same precautions as meat, poultry, and fish.
Emerging Infectious Diseases (CDC)
August 30, 2013
In response to an apparent increase in celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published new labeling regulations for the use of "gluten-free" on food labels. This will increase gluten-free labeling by food manufacturers and be a great help for those who must avoid this protein from wheat and related grains.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 2013.
September 4, 2013
The perception that there is a peanut allergy "epidemic" appears to have been driven by a combination to factors that increased awareness of the seriousness of this allergy. Fortunately, however, deaths from peanut allergy are about as common as deaths from lightning strikes.
Soc Sci Med. 2013 Aug;90:49-55. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.04.031. Epub 2013 May 6.
September 9, 2013
In response to recent concerns about arsenic in rice, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed the arsenic content of more than 1300 samples of rice and rice products from a wide variety of locations. Products were considered to be within reasonable levels for foods that can be included in an overall healthful diet. However, a food like rice bran cereal, should likely be consumed in moderation because most arsenic is in the outer bran layer of whole grain rice.
U.S. FDA Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
October 1, 2013
A study of over 4000 women found that seafood was a relatively minor contributor to mercury accumulation in the body. These results suggest that advice to limit eating fish during pregnancy may need to be revisited.
Environ Health Perspect. 30 Sep 2013. [Epub ahead of print]
December 6, 2013
A new evaluation of current scientific evidence by the Canadian Paediatric Society indicates that maternal avoidance of milk, egg, peanut or other potential allergens during pregnancy does not reduce the risk of allergy in a baby at high risk for allergy due to family history. The report also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of the infant's life and to not delay the introduction of any specific solid food beyond six months of age. Later introduction of foods like peanut, fish or egg does not prevent, and may even increase, the risk of developing food allergy.
Canadian Paediatric Society Position Statement
December 17, 2013
The European Food Safety Authority completed the most extensive evaluation of aspartame safety to date. They concluded (again) that, ". . . Aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure."
EFSA Journal 2013;11(12):3496 [263 pp.].
December 28, 2013
In a study of over 8,000 women who did not have peanut or tree nut allergy, higher consumption of these nuts during pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of peanut or tree nut allergy in their offspring. This study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases tolerance and lowers risk of childhood food allergy.
JAMA Pediatr. Published online December 23, 2013.
December 29, 2013
The European Union has established limits on the amount of coumarin allowed in foods. This natural compound found in some types of cinnamon has been linked to liver damage in people sensitive to the substance. The most common cinnamon (cassia variety) can be high in coumarin. The less common and more expensive Ceylon cinnamon is low in coumarin.
J Agric Food Chem. 2013 May 8;61(18):4470-6.
December 30, 2013
A compound called acrylamide is produced in carbohydrate foods during high temperature cooking procedures like frying and baking. Based primarily on animal studies, excessive intake may be neurotoxic and/or carcinogenic. Although acrylamide toxicity is relatively low and debatable, concerns for its potential toxicity provide one more reason to limit fried foods in your diet.
Evaluation of certain contaminants in food: seventy-second report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives
January 3, 2014
Research shows that there are viruses that infect specific types of bacteria and have no effect on people. Spraying foods with a solution containing a bacteriophage (a bacterial virus) is a relatively new way to kill bacteria like salmonella in a way that is non-toxic for humans.
Bacteriophage. 2013 Apr 1;3(2):e25518.
January 18, 2014
It can be difficult to put potential risks into perspective when the science is not so simple. The compound bisphenol A (BPA) can leach into foods and beverages from certain types of hard plastic. Some animal studies indicate we should be concerned. However, when the designs of the animal studies are put into proper perspective, the risk seems to be rather insignificant for humans.
Endocrinology. 2014 Jan 1:en20131955. [Epub ahead of print]
February 5, 2014
Don't try this at home, but there is hope for a treatment of children with peanut allergy. By very gradually increasing consumption of peanut flour (in children 7 to 16 years of age) from a very tiny amount to an amount equivalent to about 5 peanuts over a period of 26 weeks, researchers found that about 90 percent of the children were able to consume small amounts of peanuts without serious adverse effects.
The Lancet. 30 January 2014. [Epub ahead of print]
February 18, 2014
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a warning about Uncle Ben's infused rice products because some people were having negative reactions to them. Apparently, excessive amounts of the B vitamin, niacin were mistakenly added to the rice during the enrichment process. High dose niacin is known to cause symptoms similar to what was being experienced by those consuming the rice products.
Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Dec;67(12):1238-46. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12213. Epub 2013 Sep 15.
February 27, 2014
Avoidance of milk products is associated with reduced bone density. Research indicates that most lactose intolerant people can consume up to 8 fluid ounces of milk without symptoms, especially when consumed with a meal. Don't like milk? Most cheeses contain little or no lactose and also are good sources of calcium.
Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments, No. 192
March 25, 2014
Many proponents of raw milk have claimed that it reduces the symptoms of lactose intolerance when compared to pasteurized milk. A researcher tested this in 16 lactose intolerant individuals and found no difference in symptoms and breath hydrogen levels (a measure of lactose maldigestion) between raw and pasteurized milk. Another urban myth goes down. The only well established difference is that pasteurized milk is safer to consume.
Ann Fam Med. 2014 Mar-Apr;12(2):134-41.
May 29, 2014
It seems that many people don't know that gluten is just a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Some people have an allergy-like reaction to this protein that damages their intestinal lining (celiac disease) and may cause other problems as well. Gluten does not seem to cause any health problems in people that do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Nutrients. 2010 Jan;2(1):16-34.
June 22, 2014
In people with celiac disease, components of the gluten protein in wheat triggers a serious autoimmune reaction that damages intestinal cells. However, the effects of gluten are not limited to the intestinal tract. Many people with celiac disease experience other problems such as inflammatory skin reactions and even impaired mental function.
Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 May 28. [Epub ahead of print]
July 4, 2014
To avoid foodborne illness during summer festivities, remember the basics of food safety: thaw frozen foods correctly, cook foods thoroughly, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving, and reheat cooked leftovers thoroughly when reserving them.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
July 17, 2014
Food Allergy Treatment: There may be hope for treatment of certain types of food allergies (IgE-mediated). Although it is not ready for clinical application, gradually exposing those with a food allergy to slowing increasing amounts of the offending food (oral immunotherapy) shows promise for eliminating the allergic reaction. Working out the proper dose for exposure to various types of foods for people of varying ages and severity of reaction to the food is a complex process.
Pediatr Allergy Immunol Pulmonol. 2014 Jun 1;27(2):42-50.
August 2, 2014
Rice, Arsenic, Infants & Children: Due to its low potential for allergenicity, rice cereals often are used as an infant's first food. However, since rice can accumulate high levels of toxic arsenic in some growing environments, recommendations from researchers urge the monitoring of arsenic levels in rice products for infants and children along with the development of limits for arsenic levels.
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print]
August 21, 2014
When in doubt, throw it out. Foods contaminated with microorganisms make people extremely sick and can even kill.
Nutr Rev. 2008 Feb;66(2):103-8.
August 27, 2014
Beta-carotene, found in many colorful fruits and vegetables, has antioxidant functions in the body and can be converted to active vitamin A. An excessive intake of this beneficial substance, however, appears to have negative effects on the functions of vitamin A in the body.
J Biol Chem. 2012 May 4;287(19):15886-95.
October 6, 2014
Gluten and Infants: A study of over 700 infants with a family history of celiac disease found that the incidence of developing celiac disease was the same in infants given gluten-containing foods at six or twelve months of age. Unfortunately, the study did not account for the iron status of the infants. Iron deficiency can impair intestinal development which would be expected to increase the risk of developing celiac disease.
N Engl J Med. 2014 Oct 2;371(14):1295-303.
October 8, 2014
Caffeine and Athletes: Young adult low-caffeine-consuming athletes experienced more nervousness and insomnia after consuming an energy drink with about 200 milligrams of caffeine (like two cups of coffee). This may not occur in athletes that commonly consume caffeine, however, this was not evaluated in this study.
Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 12:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]
October 19, 2014
Caffeine and Health: Caffeine does not affect everyone in the same way. According to new genetic research, specific gene variants are linked to specific physical and psychological effects of caffeine. This knowledge should help to determine who is most likely to benefit from caffeine and who might be better off avoiding it.
Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Oct 7. [Epub ahead of print]
October 22, 2014
Artificial Sweeteners: A recent study reported that the sweetener saccharin altered the composition of colonic bacteria in mice which adversely affected their blood glucose control. Four out of seven humans experienced similar changes in blood glucose control after consuming high levels of saccharin for a week. Sucralose and aspartame did not have the same effect in mice and were not tested on humans.
Nature. 2014 Oct 9;514(7521):181-6.
October 24, 2014
Energy Drink Risks: Researchers from the World Health Organization reviewed the scientific literature on caffeine-containing energy drinks and expressed concern for potential risks to public health. Of major concern was the practice of mixing energy drinks with alcoholic beverages which tends to make people not realize how drunk they are.
Frontiers in Public Health, 14 October 2014. [Epub ahead of print]
October 31, 2014
Arsenic in Gluten-free Foods: Many gluten-free food alternatives substitute rice for gluten-containing grains. Since some sources of rice are high in arsenic, those with celiac disease who rely on these foods may be consuming excessive amounts of arsenic. Since some sources of rice are low in arsenic, manufacturers of rice-based gluten-free products should seek rice ingredients with lower arsenic content.
Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2014 Aug;31(8):1358-66.
December 17, 2014
Raw Milk: Raw milk often is promoted as being more natural and healthful than pasteurized milk. Unfortunately, disease-causing bacteria like raw milk. With an increasing number of states allowing the sale of raw milk, the incidence of people becoming sick and hospitalized from these bacteria has increased accordingly.
Emerging Infectious Diseases, published online 10 December 2014
January 2, 2015
Cadmium Exposure and Aging: Cadmium, like lead, is a toxic heavy metal. Exposure to cadmium is primarily from dietary sources and tobacco smoking. New research indicates that cadmium intake may contribute to aging by shortening the telomeres on chromosomes. The plant food content of cadmium is affected by the amount of cadmium in soil. Some types of seaweed and related products are very high in cadmium.
Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Dec 10. [Epub ahead of print]
January 27, 2015
Fish and Mercury Toxicity: Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in many types of fish. However, new research indicates that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish help to prevent the toxicity of mercury. The omega-3 fatty acids and selenium content of fish may together explain why high fish consumption is not associated with developmental problems in high fish-eating cultures like the Republic of Seychelles.
Am J Clin Nutr March 2015. [Epub ahead of print]
February 24, 2015
Childhood Allergies: What is called the "hygiene hypothesis" proposes that environmental microbial exposure during early life reduces the risk of allergy development. A new Swedish study adds some support to this hypothesis. They found that children in families that wash dishes by hand had a significantly reduced risk of developing allergic diseases when compared to children in families using a dishwasher. The high heat in dishwashers makes the dishes more sterile.
Pediatrics. Feb 23, 2015. [Epub ahead of print]
March 7, 2015
Antibiotics in Milk: Maintaining the health of milk cows sometimes involves the use of antibiotics. However, antibiotics do not end up in the milk we consume when dairy farmers follow regulations for acceptable use of antibiotics and other drugs. An extensive study of almost 2,000 dairy farms, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, found that less than one percent of the milk they analyzed contained illegal drug residues.
National Milk Drug Residue Data Base
March 10, 2015
Food Poisoning: One out of six of us in the U.S. gets sick each year from bacterial contamination of food. Most of us are aware of some of the key foods most likely to make us sick, but some of the risky foods may surprise you. They include the usual culprits of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, but also include leafy green vegetables, bean sprouts, seeded fruits and vegetables such as melons and tomatoes, and raw milk and cheeses made from raw milk.
Foodborne Illness Source Attribution Estimates - Report, Feb 2015.
March 18, 2015
Milk Protein Type: Depending on breed, the milk from dairy cattle contains proteins called A1 beta-casein or A2 beta-casein (or sometimes both proteins). There is some evidence that the A2 milk is better for the gastrointestinal function of some people. Test marketing of A2 milk is planned to start in California in about a month.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;68(9):994-1000.
April 17, 2015
Food Safety: Not sure if you should toss that meat or fish that has been in the fridge for a week. You probably should. Soon, however, there may be an inexpensive device available that can give you an objective measure of spoilage based on detection of amine compounds that form when these foods are spoiled.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015 Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print]
April 27, 2015
Food Borne Botulism: When not done carefully, home-canned meats, fish, and vegetables can support the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria that produce a toxin that causes botulism. Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness that can move throughout the body. Symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.
CDC. 2014. Botulism.
May 18, 2015
Low Allergen Soybean: Soybeans are among the most common foods that cause allergic reactions in people. Using conventional plant breeding techniques, researchers have developed a variety of soybean that is very low in key known allergenic proteins and an anti-thiamin factor. This new soybean variety should provide benefits for both animal and human soy-based foods.
Plant Breeding, 21 APR 2015. [Epub ahead of print]
May 21, 2015
Foodborne Illness: With the current drought causing a reduced produce supply from California, more produce will be coming from other parts of the world that may not have food safety regulations as strict as those in the U.S. Consequently, is becoming more important to observe good food safety practices.
Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print]
May 25, 2015
Livestock and Antibiotic Resistance: The use of antibiotics to treat a sick animal is very different from the widespread use of antibiotics in feed to promote animal growth. There is a substantial amount of evidence that this practice increases the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria that also affect humans.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Jun 5;370(1670).
May 29, 2015
Soy and Asthma: Some research has suggested that supplementation with soy isoflavone may help asthma patients. However, when soy isoflavone supplementation was put to the test of a 24-week double-blind placebo-controlled study, asthmatic adults and children aged 12 years or older did not experience improved lung function and had no change in their asthma symptoms.
JAMA. 2015 May 26;313(20):2033-2043.
July 24, 2015
Arsenic in Rice: New research suggests cooking rice in your coffee percolator to remove arsenic. This cooking method removed about half of the arsenic in various types of rice. What the researchers did not report is how this cooking method affects the nutrient content of the rice. It most likely reduces the content of water-soluble vitamins and minerals.
PLoS One. 2015 Jul 22;10(7):e0131608.
September 2, 2015
Itchy Fruits: Does your mouth develop an itchy feeling after you eat certain fruits? You may have Oral Allergy Syndrome - also called Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome. It is thought that people who develop an allergic sensitivity to the proteins in pollen from the flowers of a fruit tree can also be sensitive to similar proteins in the fruit from the same type of tree. Cooking the fruit generally eliminates the reaction because it denatures the protein (alters the protein shape).
Dermatitis. 2015 Mar-Apr;26(2):78-88.
September 4, 2015
Risks of Pure Caffeine: Pure powdered caffeine is readily available for purchase. Although caffeine is clearly a drug, it falls under the regulations of dietary supplements. One teaspoon of caffeine powder is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in about 25 cups of coffee. Consequently, overdosing is extremely easy to do. Last year, two young men in the U.S. died from caffeine overdose.
FDA Consumer Advice on Pure Powdered Caffeine
September 9, 2015
Allergy Risk Reduction: It has been known that people who grow up on farms (especially dairy farms) are less likely to develop allergies. A new study showed that exposing young laboratory mice to farm dust reduced their risk of allergic reactions to the dust mite allergen.
Science. 2015;349(6252):1106-1110 .
October 6, 2015
Arsenic in Wine: A new study reports that some varieties of American red wines contain more arsenic than the allowable levels in drinking water. Many types of foods are known to provide greater amounts of arsenic than moderate consumption of wine. However, this is one more reason to consume wine in moderation.
J Env Health. 2015;78(3):16–22.
October 19, 2015
Poisoning by Candied Apple: About a year ago about three dozen people were infected by listeria bacteria and seven people died. For most of these people, the source of the bacteria was found to be commercially produced, prepackaged caramel-coated apples. Since neither the caramel coating nor the apple provide the conditions for listeria growth, researchers sought to determine why these coated apples were contaminated with the bacteria. They found that the caramel apples supported significant listeria growth when the apple was penetrated with a stick and stored at room temperature. The stick allowed moisture leakage from the apple that created a small but adequate microenvironment between the apple skin and caramel coating to support listeria growth.
MBio. 2015 Oct 13;6(5). pii: e01232-15.
November 11, 2015
Energy Drinks: When young to middle-age adults consumed a 16 fluid ounce can of a Rockstar brand energy drink (containing caffeine and various herbal components), they experienced an increase in blood pressure and blood levels of stress hormones. Frequent and excessive consumption of these types of beverages could put some individuals at increased risk for potentially serious health problems.
JAMA. 2015 Nov 8:1-3.
January 7, 2016
Arsenic in Plant Foods: Arsenic is toxic in excessive amounts. Recently, it was found that rice can accumulate high levels of arsenic, depending on the growing conditions. With a new understanding of the chemical mechanisms involved in arsenic uptake by plant seeds, developing new rice strains resistant to arsenic accumulation may be possible.
Nature Plants. 2015 Dec 21 [Epub ahead of print]
January 26, 2016
Gluten Introduction to Infants: An updated and thorough review of research on when to introduce gluten-containing grains like wheat into the diets of infants concluded that early introduction of gluten into the infant diet (4 to 6 months of age) does not increase the risk of celiac disease. Their analysis, however, indicated that later introduction of gluten (after 6 months of age) was associated with increased risk of celiac disease.
J Pediatr. 2016;168:132-143.
March 25, 2016
Star Fruit and Kidneys: Star fruit toxicity (due to high oxalic acid content) has been well documented in those with impaired kidney function. More recent research presents two cases of star fruit toxicity due to high star fruit consumption in people with apparently normal kidney function. Like everything, it's the dose that makes the poison. To reduce the toxicity of star fruit, you can decrease the absorption of the oxalic acid in star fruit by consuming it with a high calcium food like yogurt.
BMC Res Notes. 2015 Dec 17;8:796.
March 29, 2016
Fresh Vegetable Virus Contamination: Frequently, there have been reports about various types of produce being contaminated with viruses that cause food borne illness. A recent study a rotavirus found that plant surfaces with more natural waxes are less likely to allow viral adhesion to the food. Washing the produce helps to reduce the virus, but does not eliminate it.
PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (7): e0132841.
April 5, 2016
Arsenic in Baby Food: Rice is a grain that can accumulate too much arsenic if it is grown in high arsenic soil and/or water. Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set maximum allowable limits for the arsenic content of infant rice cereals.
FDA News Release. April 1, 2016.
May 23, 2016
Gluten-free for Kids: Gluten-free foods are very important for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, there is a trend to think that foods containing gluten are bad for you and some parents with good intentions feed their children a gluten-free diet. This can lead to a diet that is less nutritious unless nutritionally comparable foods fill in the gaps left by removing gluten-containing foods.
J Pediatr. 2016 May 10. [Epub ahead of print]
June 21, 2016
Food Safety: Detecting the presence of pathogenic microorganisms in foods is generally a complex and time-consuming process. However, new techniques in nano-technology have developed a molecule that can be used to detect the presence of a disease-causing strain of E. coli in food. This may lead to the development of a simple hand-held device to monitor food safety on the spot.
Small. 2016 Jun;12(23):3094-100.
June 25, 2016
Fresh Produce and Food Safety: All foods have the potential to cause foodborne illness. Even fresh produce needs to be handled, stored, and prepared safely to obtain essential nutrients with minimal risk of illness.
Emerg Infect Dis. 1997 Oct-Dec;3(4):459-65.
July 17, 2016
Risks of Too Much Tea? Green tea is widely extolled for its beneficial content of polyphenols that are linked to reduced chronic disease risks. However, consuming too much tea (green or black) also can potentially supply excessive amounts of aluminum and fluoride.
Rev Saude Publica. 2004 Feb;38(1):100-5. Epub 2004 Jan 30.
August 4, 2016
Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity: Celiac disease and wheat allergy are well studied medical conditions that are caused by gluten and/or other components in grains like wheat, rye, or barley. However, many people have been found to react adversely to wheat even though they do not fit the diagnostic criteria for celiac disease or wheat allergy. Researchers are now finding new measures to diagnose non-celiac wheat sensitivity.
Gut. 2016 Jul 25. [Epub ahead of print]
August 8, 2016
Food Allergies in Siblings: Parents of children with food allergies often are concerned that the child's siblings also will develop allergies. A study of over 1100 children with food allergies found that their siblings were not at significantly increased risk for developing food allergies.
J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016 May 25. [Epub ahead of print]
August 9, 2016
Energy Drinks and Heart Function: A new case study presented another case of high caffeine energy drink consumption triggering an overly rapid heart rate combined with an abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation). This and other case reports are increasingly suggestive that excessive energy drink consumption can adversely affect heart function in some people.
J Addict Med. 2016 Jul-Aug;10(4):280-2.
August 18, 2016
Raw Food & Hepatitis A: Raw fish and shellfish are popular ingredients in Asian/Pacific foods such as sushi. However, there are certain risks to consuming raw seafood. Recently, a hepatitis A outbreak in Honolulu was linked to consuming raw scallops as a sushi ingredient.
State of Hawaii Dep of Health, Aug 15, 2016.
August 30, 2016
Shark and neurotoxins: Shark meat and fins from 10 shark species contained both mercury and a cyanobacterial toxin (BMAA) that are both linked to neurodegenerative diseases. In combination, these two neurotoxins are thought to be synergistic with the combination of them being more toxic than either alone.
Toxins 2016, 8 (8), 238.
September 8, 2016
Gluten-free Diets: A new study indicates that although celiac disease has not increased during recent years, the number of people consuming gluten-free diets has increased substantially. This could be related to an increase in the proposed condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity and/or simply due to gluten-free foods being considered to be more healthy but some people. At least the increased demand for gluten-free foods will make life a bit easier for those with true celiac disease.
JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Sep 6. [Epub ahead of print]
September 22, 2016
The Five-second Rule: Finally, a well designed study tested the popular 'five-second rule.' They found that the amount of bacteria picked up by the food dropped onto a surface did vary somewhat with the type of food. However, bacteria were transferred from the surface to the food virtually instantaneously in less than a second. Of course, how risky it is to consume dropped food depends on what types of bacteria are present on the floor.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Sep 2. pii: AEM.01838-16. [Epub ahead of print]
September 23, 2016
Allergenic Foods and Infants: Eggs and peanuts are among the foods that commonly trigger allergic reactions. A new systematic review of research on this topic indicates that early introduction of eggs (at 4 to 6 months of age) or peanuts (at 4 to 11 months of age) to the infant diet is associated with lower risk of developing allergies to these foods. Although these researchers were not ready to make strong recommendations, their results do not support the concept that there should be a delay in introducing these foods.
September 28, 2016
Peanut Allergy: A study conducted with mice found that peanut extracts from dry roasted peanuts triggered allergic reactions more than extracts from raw peanuts. The researchers think this may be due to compounds that form at the high temperatures used for dry roasting. They speculate that boiled or fried peanuts may not be as likely to trigger allergies.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Dec; 134(6): 1453–1456.
October 5, 2016
Matcha Tea: Tea is promoted for a number of potentially associated health benefits. However, do not equate matcha tea (finely ground green tea leaf) with the usual brewed teas. Matcha teas are prepared so that the whole leaf is consumed, not just the liquid infusion of the tea leaves. This greatly increases the intake of aluminum and manganese that are both neuro-toxic when consumed at high levels.
Shido, JM. MS Thesis Univ Hawaii 2011.
October 21, 2016
TMAO and Meat: The consumer article below and the spokesman commenting in the article for the American Heart Association are both scientifically off base. Due to associations observed between urinary levels of a compound called TMAO and cardiovascular disease, they recommend avoiding red meat. Although there may be reasons to not over-consume red meat, this is not one of them. To avoid confusion it is helpful to go back to original research articles like the one at the link below. It states, "Of 46 different foods investigated, only fish and other sea-products gave rise to significant increases in urinary trimethylamine and N-oxide (TMAO). Ingestion of fruits, vegetables, cereal and dairy produce, and meats had no measurable effects."
Food Chem Toxicol. 1999 May;37(5):515-20.
October 22, 2016
Sprouts and Health: Like other types of produce, fresh sprouts, including organic sprouts, may become contaminated by pathogenic microorganisms. Individuals with compromised immune systems can still enjoy sprouts if they are cooked before eating.
J Food Prot. 2003 Jul;66(7):1253-9.
November 12, 2016
Food Allergies Misidentification: True food allergies can be life threatening, but it is important to know that in a controlled clinical setting, almost 90% of children previously diagnosed with food allergies actually were not allergic to the supposedly offending foods when tested with an oral food challenge test.
J Pediatr. 2010 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print]
November 14, 2016
Licorice and Sex Hormones: A natural compound in licorice (called iso for isoliquiritigenin) has been shown to reduce estrogen production in female mice. Licorice root extract is a common ingredient in herbal supplements and purified iso supplements also are available. Women, especially, should be cautious about ongoing use of products containing these substances until appropriate human research can be conducted.
Reprod Toxicol. 2016 Oct 20. [Epub ahead of print]
November 16, 2016
Food Safety: Cooking shows on television have the forum to model good food safety behavior. Unfortunately, a new study found that most shows frequently overlook basic food safety practices. This may put their viewers at risk of food illness and may put the show at a liability risk should viewers get sick from following the show's directions.
J Nutr Educ Behav. 2016;48(10):730-734.
November 22, 2016
Salad Safety: Just like grinding up beef into hamburger increases the surface area for microbial contact and makes hamburger less safe than steak, a new study shows that the convenience of precut salad greens comes with some increase in risk of microbial contamination.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Nov 18. [Epub ahead of print]
January 9, 2017
Infant Peanut Introduction: Finally some good science supports reliable recommendations for when to introduce peanuts into an infant's diet. The new guidelines recommend not waiting too long and and introducing peanut-containing foods into the diets of babies as early as 4 to 6 months of age. However, children known to have other allergies, such as egg white allergy, should be evaluated by an allergy specialist before introducing peanuts.
NIH New Release. January 5, 2017.
January 19, 2017
Fish Categories for Safer Consumption: Because of previous concerns about mercury in fish, many have decreased fish consumption. Now, a new guideline divides the fish into three categories based on mercury content: best, good, and avoid. This guideline does allow more informed choice flexibility, but it does not address which fish options are also good sources of the fatty acid DHA needed especially for brain and retinal health. In addition, the ranking does not consider other toxic minerals such as cadmium that often is high in shellfish like whole clams.
FDA Guidance on Fish Consumption
January 20, 2017
Food Allergy: A new 500-plus page document was published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine with the long title, Finding a path to safety in food allergy: Assessment of the global burden, causes, prevention, management, and public policy. The report stresses that there is much to learn about food allergies, but what we do know is not translated well into current practice for diagnosis, prevention, and management of the related conditions. For proper diagnosis, they stress that the gold standard diagnostic test is the oral food challenge under medical supervision and that health care professionals should abandon many unproven tests, such as applied kinesiology, immunoglobulin G panels, and electrodermal testing.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016.
February 1, 2017
Lychee (Litchi) Fruit Toxin: A seasonal, sometimes fatal, disease in children has been occurring for decades in the Muzaffarpur district in north-eastern India. Finally, researchers have identified the cause - eating the seasonal fresh lychee fruit without an evening meal. The fresh lychee fruit contains two hypoglycemic compounds that can cause blood sugar to plummet to dangerously low levels.
The Lancet Global Health. Jan 31 2017. [Epub ahead of print]
February 3, 2017
Hydrogen Peroxide Toxicity: Common household grade hydrogen peroxide is rather safe as it is typically used. However more concentrated versions consumed orally, as promoted by some alternative health practitioners, have been documented to produce oxygen bubbles in the blood and cause embolisms (blockage of blood flow) much the same as nitrogen gas does when deep sea divers get the bends. This has killed some people and permanently impaired others.
Annals of Emergency Medicine. January 30, 2017. [Epub ahead of print]
February 15, 2017
Gluten-free Risks and Benefits: Lately, gluten-free has become a marketing tool for many products and people often equate gluten-free with "healthy." However, the evidence for any benefit from a gluten-free diet applies only to those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy. When any major food type is removed from the diet, other foods must fill the gap. This can increase the risk of nutrient inadequacy and excess intake of toxic substances.
The Journal of Pediatrics. August 2016;175:206-210.
February 18, 2017
Honey Issues: Infants are susceptible to having Clostridium botulinum bacteria thrive in their immature intestine, poisoning them from within. This is why infants should never be fed honey. This concentrated sugar food can harbor the dormant spore form of this bacteria. Fortunately, honey is safe for older children and adults.
CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY REVIEWS, Apr. 1996, p. 119–125
March 25, 2017
Mercury and Fish Safety: A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the levels of mercury consumed in fish do not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults. This was based on two major studies with a total of over 170,000 participants.
N Engl J Med. 2011 Mar 24;364(12):1116-25. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1006876.
April 5, 2017
Recipe Books and Food Safety: Based on an evaluation of 1,497 recipes containing meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs, from 29 cookbooks that appeared on the New York Times best sellers list, don't expect to get food safety guidelines with these recipes. Only about five percent of the recipes contained positive food safety behavior messages.
British Food Journal, 2017; 119 (5).
April 18, 2017
Nut Allergy: People who experience an allergic reaction to one type of nuts often are told that they are allergic to other types based on skin prick or blood tests (sensitivity tests). New research indicates that over half of the people with positive sensitivity tests are not allergic to other nuts when tested with oral consumption of the nuts. Oral food challenges with potentially allergenic foods should only be done under medical supervision.
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2017 Mar 22. [Epub ahead of print]
April 26, 2017
Aflatoxin in Sunflower Seeds: The liver carcinogen aflatoxin is produced by a mold known to grow on crops like peanuts when the nuts do not get dried quickly enough. A new study conducted in Tanzania found that sunflower seeds also can carry high levels of aflatoxin.
PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (4): e0175801.