Researchers suggest tree nut allergies may be diagnosed too freely

Are tree nut allergies holding you back from enjoying some salty snacks? Well, a new study suggests that the common practice of telling patients allergic to one tree nut to avoid all other tree nuts may not be necessary.

The study, published by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), found that many patients with tree nut allergies proved not to be allergic to other nuts.

Patients were given an oral food challenge using tree nuts different from the ones they had already been proven allergic to. An oral food challenge, according to the ACAAI, is considered the most accurate way to determine a food allergy. During this test, a person consumes a controlled amount of the food being tested over a period of time, while a doctor supervises any potential reaction. [ More … ]

Good, clean water: What it can do for livestock

From feed to finishing, farmers and ranchers have mountains of factors to consider when raising their livestock to be healthy and productive. It’s an extensive job, to put it simply.

One aspect, however, which should not be overlooked is water quality.

When animals intake poor quality water, major problems can happen. Pathogens may be transferred to the animal, and animals may consume less water if there is a quality issue, causing them to gain less weight and be more prone to illness. Low water intake is a problem especially for dairy cows, as it results in decreased milk production. It’s also essential for calves to have access to clean water, as water helps the rumen develop healthily, which improves grain fermentation and starter intake. [ More … ]

Nature vs. nurture: How we use social media

How do you interact with social media? Are you that person who provides friends with a constant stream of photos, articles and witty quips on your profile? Maybe you’re a more passive user, dropping the occasional “like” or comment here and there. Maybe, unlike an estimated 2.8 billion people worldwide, you don’t even use social media.

However you may use the World Wide Web to communicate with others, it may not really be up to you. At least, not up to a certain point.

Kent State University professor Chance York concluded that an individual’s genes influence the frequency of their social media usage, after comparing surveys between sets of fraternal and identical twins. [ More … ]

Neogen announces its Recall Support Services program

LANSING, Mich., May 23, 2017 — Neogen has developed an innovative Recall Support Services program to better serve the needs of its food industry customers facing a product recall — or preparing for the possibility of a recall.

Neogen’s enhanced Recall Support Services program emphasizes Neogen’s experience and expertise, as well as testing products and services to help guide a company through a recall, and also to identify the source of contamination. The program also features Neogen’s promise of absolute confidentiality throughout the process.

“Our recall response program is largely the result of our customers who are seeking to develop rapid response plans of their own,” said Ed Bradley, Neogen’s vice president of Food Safety. “They want to know who they can turn to in the event of a recall, and what services we can provide to them to help them recover. We are offering this service at no additional cost as a guarantee that we will be there for our customers when they need us the most.” [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: Gray death

As if heroin and other opioids weren’t dangerous enough, a new drug known as “gray death” has appeared on the scene in several parts of the United States.

The drug — which gets its name from its cement powder-like appearance — is a cocktail of deadly opioids mixed with heroin or fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. On their own, either of these drugs can take the lives of those who use them. Combined, they have caused at least 50 overdoses in the nation in the past three months.

“To this date, I have no idea what makes it gray,” said forensic chemist Deneen Kilcrease in an article. “Nothing in and of itself should be that color.” [ More … ]

Monday links

Courtesy the University of Illinois

Don’t have time to scour the internet for the latest animal science, food safety, and agriculture news? Relax, we’ve got it covered.

Food Safety

Raw Milk, Cheese Cause Almost All Dairy Foodborne Illness — Food Safety Magazine
A new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that raw milk and cheese products cause 96% of foodborne illnesses linked to contaminated dairy products. This means that these unpasteurized products cause 840 times more illnesses and 45 times more hospitalizations than pasteurized dairy products.

Summer food safety: tips for parents and children — The Oxford Eagle
Are you planning a summer picnic or get-together outside? Taking advantage of warmer temperatures and the great outdoors can encourage more physical activity after mealtime; however, it also provides the perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens to rapidly multiply and cause foodborne illness. [ More … ]

Mycotoxins for dummies, part 2: Spike and recovery

In the first part of this blog, we discussed the basics of mycotoxins and how to test for them. In this post, we’ll go over the spike and recovery approach to validating unproven products.

Unverified food commodities require validation from rapid tests for many reasons. Some contain complex matrices, containing compounds that interfere with the binding of the antibody and the target analyte. Other samples might just be difficult to test, because the extracted product is perhaps very viscous, for example. Some samples might be too acidic or too alkaline to be easily tested.

“A spike and recovery approach is commonly used to validate unproven products on rapid testing platforms,” said Neogen’s Spencer Jackson. [ More … ]

Mycotoxins for dummies, part 1: What are they, and how do we test for them?

The discovery of the mycotoxin aflatoxin in the 1960s led to a boom in scientific and regulatory interest in mycotoxins. When it was found that aflatoxins can be carcinogenic in animals, an urgent need was sparked to facilitate a greater regulation of mycotoxins in food commodities.

But what are mycotoxins?

“Mycotoxins are the toxins produced by fungi that naturally contaminate a wide variety of agricultural crops,” explained Neogen’s Spencer Jackson. “Their production is influenced by weather, crop variety and rotation, tilling practicing, planting and harvesting time, as well as the cleanliness of storage.”

Mycotoxins resist decomposition and being broken down in digestion, so they remain in the food chain through meat and dairy products. Even temperature treatments, such as cooking and freezing, do not destroy mycotoxins. [ More … ]

Convenient meals, inconvenient pathogens?

Wouldn’t it be nice to never step foot in a grocery store again? No more navigating a cart bumper car-style down overwhelming aisles teeming with more products — and more decisions — than you can shake a stick at.

Trendy home-delivery meal kits attempt to provide a solution to grocery store haters. The idea is, you order a meal online and have all the ingredients shipped straight to your front door. Sounds great, right?

Well, a study presented by Rutgers University professor Bill Hallman at the 2017 Food Safety Summit says no, according to Food Safety News. Hallman and other researchers from Rutgers and Tennessee State University ordered 684 items from food kits (169 meal kits total) and took a close look at what they got. [ More … ]

DON outbreak highlights storage concerns for grain

DON: it’s nasty, it’s dangerous and it’s being currently found in high levels in stored grain around the Corn Belt region of the United States.

DON — a.k.a., vomitoxin — is a mycotoxin created by Fusarium molds, especially F. graminearum. When consumed, it can cause nausea, vomiting (hence the nickname), gastroenteritis, diarrhea, immunosuppression and even blood disorders. Animals affected may refuse to eat.

“In the eastern Corn Belt right now, we are seeing base corn levels around 1 part per million,” said Erin Bowers, mycotoxin sampling and analysis specialist at Iowa State University. “Grain receiving locations should be testing for these levels, or at least be aware that we are seeing higher levels this year.” [ More … ]