FOOD BITES: JULY 2018

Magnesium Treats Depression

As little as 248 mg of magnesium per day leads to an astounding reversal of depression syndrome, according to research conducted at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and published in the journal PLoS One in June 2017.

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FOOD BITES: AUGUST 2018

Source of Yuma E. Coli Romaine Found

Federal officials first announced on April 13 an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown and produced in the Yuma, Ariz., area. Federal investigators found the source of the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on July 28: canal water.

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FOOD BITES: NOVEMBER 2018

Lab-Grown Meat Gaining Traction

More and more meat is being grown in labs from cultured cells. Several start-ups, such as Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats, SuperMeat and Finless Foods, are developing lab-grown beef, pork, poultry and seafood. This burgeoning niche industry is attracting millions in funding; Memphis Meats gobbled

….FULL ARTICLE

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FOOD BITES: JANUARY 2019

Not-So-Healthy Canola Oil

Billed as healthier because it’s low in saturated fat, canola oil has been a kitchen staple for decades. But a 2017 study suggests the oil could worsen memory loss and learning ability in Alzheimer’s patients. Canola oil increased the build-up of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau in the brain (these form the neurofibrillary tangles suspected in the Alzheimer’s brain) and decreased the level of amyloid beta 1-40, a peptide that protects neurons from damage. The amyloid plaques were accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of contacts between neurons, indicative of extensive injury. More study is needed to see if short-term use of canola oil can cause damage, and other studies are needed to determine how extensive the damage is. It also needs to be determined if these effects are specific to Alzheimer’s. “There is a chance the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia,” said senior study investigator Prof. Domenico Praticò, director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Most canola is chemically extracted using a solvent called hexane, and the heat that is often applied can affect the stability of the oil’s molecules, turning it rancid, destroying its omega-3s and even creating trans fats, says Dr. Guy Crosby with the Harvard School of Public Health. Trans fats are known to trigger systemic inflammation and raise the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Dirty Farm Water Tied to  E. Coli Outbreaks

Water can be contaminated by livestock or wildlife waste, and that fecal runoff can easily make its way into farming irrigation. Fruits and vegetables carry E. coli if they’re exposed to contaminated water, and crops eaten raw pose serious risks for E. coli infection. Congress passed legislation in 2011, slated to go into effect during the first quarter of 2018, that would require farmers to test irrigation water for pathogens. Pathogens from water can be absorbed by a plant’s roots. But six months before its implementation, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) shelved the water testing requirements and is further considering allowing some produce growers to test less frequently or find alternatives to water testing to ensure the safety of their crops. Farm groups argue water testing is too expensive and should not apply to produce such as apples or onions because they are less prone to carrying pathogens. Postponing water testing rules saves growers $12 million a year, but costs consumers $108 million per year in medical costs, according to an FDA analysis. After two major E. coli breakouts in the last half of 2018, food safety scientists were dumbfounded by the FDA’s lack of urgency to require farm-water testing. Last April’s Yuma outbreak affected 210 people in 36 states. In 2011, more than 200 people in 24 states were sickened

with E. coli, resulting in five deaths. “The Yuma outbreak emphasizes the urgency of putting agricultural water standards in place, but it is important that they be the right standards, one that both meet our public health mission and are feasible for growers to meet,” FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnam said. University scientists say farmers have not shared water data with them as they try to figure out how to avoid future outbreaks. A study by FDA researchers this past May noted salmonella in irrigation water has become a public health concern. Presently, irrigation water testing is merely voluntary.

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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