Chowline: No such thing as male and female bell peppers

Peppers are easily grown, can be prolific producers, and can be grown in a variety of colors, shapes, and flavors.

I saw a link on Facebook saying that male bell peppers have three bumps on the bottom and are better for cooking, while female bell peppers have four bumps and are sweeter and better for eating raw. Is that true?

No. 

Although the myth that bell peppers are either male or female continues to spread, bell peppers do not have genders. 

According to the myth, “male” bell peppers have three lobes and are more bitter, while “female” bell peppers have four or more lobes, have more seeds, and are sweeter to eat. 

However, bell peppers grow from flowers that have both male and female parts. The peppers, which are the fruits of a pepper plant, each contain ovaries that produce the seeds inside the peppers. Each pepper is produced through self-fertilization. The seeds are formed in each pepper after pollination, with those seeds then able to form new pepper plants.

Peppers are warm-season vegetables and are part of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family, along with tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes, according to Growing Peppers in the Home Garden, a recent Ohioline fact sheet.

Ohioline is Ohio State University Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Peppers are easily grown, can be prolific producers, and can be grown in a variety of colors, shapes, and flavors. For instance, green bell peppers are green when they are in their immature stage. Bell peppers that ripen on the plant longer will develop a red, orange, yellow, or purple color. 

Just like many other fruits and vegetables, the degree of sweetness is generally a factor of how ripe the fruit or vegetable is. Bell peppers start out green, then ripen to yellow, then orange, then red, and in some cases turn purple. Thus red, orange, yellow, and purple bell peppers are generally sweeter than green bell peppers. And the lobes on peppers are determined by growing conditions and genetics, so they don’t indicate the sweetness factor of the pepper in any way.

Bell peppers are an excellent, healthy dietary option. They are a great source of vitamins A and C, and beta-carotene. They also provide essential minerals including iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. And they are a great-tasting, low-cost vegetable. 

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Never a Good Idea to Wash Raw Poultry

Practicing sound, safe food handling is important…..

I saw a discussion on social media this week that said not to wash raw chicken before cooking it. But I always rinse mine with a mixture of lime or lemon juice and vinegar, which my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother did as well. Why should I stop doing that now?

The fact is that you shouldn’t wash or rinse raw chicken or any other raw poultry before cooking it.

Period.

Don’t wash raw poultry. Photo Getty Images

This is because rinsing or washing raw chicken doesn’t kill any bacterial pathogens such as campylobacter, salmonella, or other bacteria that might be on the inside and outside of raw chicken. But when you wash or rinse raw chicken, you are likely splashing chicken juices that can spread those pathogens in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, some estimates say the splatter can spread out and land on surfaces up to 3 feet away.

That’s a problem because pathogens such as campylobacter and salmonella can survive on surfaces such as countertops for up to 32 hours, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The only way to kill these potentially dangerous bacteria is to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

You likely saw the social media discussion the CDC had on Twitter this week, after the government agency sent a tweet advising consumers not to wash raw chicken before cooking it. That tweet was met with more than 1,000 responding comments debating the merits of whether or not to follow the CDC’s advice. 

Although many consumers responded that they’ve always rinsed raw chicken before eating it—with many saying it’s a cultural custom for them to do so—it’s never a good idea to rinse raw poultry if you want to lessen your chance of developing a foodborne illness.

Practicing sound, safe food handling is important, considering that 48 million Americans get sick with a foodborne illness every year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die, according to the CDC.

Additionally, after handling raw poultry or any other raw meat, it’s important to wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, rinse them under warm running water, and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel.

You should also wash any surfaces that might have come into contact with the raw chicken or its juices. Use hot, soapy water to rinse off the surfaces, let them dry, and then use a kitchen sanitizer on them.

Lastly, be sure to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, using a food thermometer to measure the temperature, the CDC advises.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: More foodborne illness outbreaks detected last year

The CDC investigated 23 multistate foodborne illness outbreaks last year, several of which included reported cases of foodborne illnesses in Ohio.

It seems like there have been more foodborne illnesses in recent years. Is that true?

Sort of. More outbreaks have been detected in recent years, although the overall number of foodborne illnesses is thought to have remained largely the same. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was an uptick in the number of detected foodborne illness outbreaks last year.

Photo: Getty Images

In fact, in a new report released last week, the CDC said that 120 Americans died as a result of foodborne illnesses last year and 25,606 Americans reported foodborne illnesses. Of those, 5,893 people required hospitalizations.

The CDC said it investigated 23 multistate foodborne illness outbreaks last year, several of which included reported cases of foodborne illnesses in Ohio. Some of the larger multistate outbreaks included E. coli outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce, ground beef, raw flour, and alfalfa sprouts; and salmonella outbreaks linked to raw turkey products, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal, precut melons, and kratom.

The report also found that there was an increase in the detected number of infections caused by eight specific pathogens: campylobacter, cyclospora, listeria, salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing E. coli, shigella, vibrio, and yersinia.

However, it’s important to note that although detection of foodborne illnesses has increased, the overall incidence of cases has not, according to the CDC. 

In other words, although more outbreaks have been reported, the food supply is not necessarily less safe. Rather, we are just getting better at detecting problems when they do occur, said Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and a food safety field specialist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Additionally, foodborne diseases are preventable through the application of various proactive food safety programs, she said.

To help restaurants and the food service industry lessen their odds of causing an outbreak foodborne illness, food safety experts with CFAES offer food safety training to Ohio food service employees. 

The ServSafe training is offered by Ohio State University Extension, CFAES’ outreach arm. It focuses on key areas to reduce the transmission of foodborne illnesses: employee health and hygiene; clean, sanitized equipment and utensils; process management; and ingredient sourcing, preparation, and storage, among others, Snyder said.

Last year, OSU Extension offered more than 125 food safety trainings for the restaurant industry and trained more than 1,700 food service employees, including restaurant managers, school food service personnel, nursing home staff, and other food service personnel.

The classes are taught by OSU Extension family and consumer sciences educators, who are certified instructors through the National Restaurant Association. The classes are offered at several sites statewide and are open to small, medium, and large food service establishments, she said.

“By having strong food safety programs in place, companies reduce the possibility of increased costs due to having to discard product to control food safety, facing potential closures and regulatory action, and of course, the variety of costs that can arise if an outbreak of foodborne illness is linked to their product,” Snyder said.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Drinking more water can mean less calories for some kids

The study found that about one in five of those youths said they didn’t drink any water on any given day.

I’m trying to incorporate more water into my kids’ daily meals. What are some ways to encourage them to drink more water?

According to a new study released this week in JAMA Pediatrics, drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks is associated with lower caloric intake in kids, teens, and young adults.                                                                                                                           

The study, which was released Monday, was based on data collected from 8,400 youths ages 2–19 nationwide. The data was reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveysfrom 2011–2012 and from 2015–2016. The youths reported whether they drank water daily, and they reported the number of sugar-sweetened beverages they routinely drank.

The study found that about one in five of those youths said they didn’t drink any water on any given day. Skipping water was associated with drinking an extra 100 calories per day from sugary drinks including sports drinks, juices, and sodas, the researchers found.

While the study’s researchers say that the data doesn’t prove causality, they do recommend that children and young adults drink water daily to help avoid consuming extra calories from sugary drinks.

Another reason why water and other nonsugary drinks are the best options for kids and young adults is that sugary drinks have been linked to a host of health problems in both children and adults. Cavities, obesity, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes have all been associated with the consumption of sugary drinks. 

As such, the American Heart Association says that children and young adults shouldn’t consume more than 100 calories of added sugar per day. The group further recommends that children limit their consumption of sugary drinks to 8 ounces—less than one soda can—per week.

Also, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should consume less than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars. That same source recommends that people either avoid sugar-sweetened drinks overall, or at the very least, limit the amount of sugary drinks they consume.

This is important considering that many youths are drinking too many sugary drinks on any given day. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that about two-thirds of kids drink at least one sugary drink on any given day. Nearly 30% drink two or more sugary drinks per day, according to a January 2017 study.

So, how can you incorporate more nonsugary drinks such as water and milk into your children’s diets? Cincinnati Children’s Hospital offers these tips:

  • Limit their choices to water and milk.  
  • Have water or milk readily available to drink.
  • Drink water or milk yourself. That way, your children will be more likely to do so as well.
  • Add fresh fruits such as lemons, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, or blueberries to your children’s water. You can add the fruits to the water for taste or freeze them in ice cubes to put into the water. 

Chow Line is a service of the The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Hard-boiled eggs safer choice for Easter

If you are making Easter eggs that will be eaten, it is important that you make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked.

I prefer the texture of soft-boiled eggs versus hard-boiled eggs. Is it OK to use soft-boiled eggs for dyeing Easter eggs?

Well, that really depends on whether you plan to eat the Easter eggs or just use them for decoration.

Eggs are an important source of protein and are delicious to eat. However, they must be handled safely to prevent the chance of contracting a foodborne illness.

While it’s understandable that some people prefer the taste of soft-boiled eggs versus hard-boiled eggs, from a food safety standpoint, it is safer to use hard-boiled eggs for dyeing Easter eggs that you plan to eat. In fact, you should cook the eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm, not runny.

This is because eggs can contain salmonella, which is an organism that causes foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Salmonella can be found on both the outside and inside of eggs, and it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever, which can last for a couple of days to a week, the USDA says. 

The symptoms can be worse for people with weakened immune systems, young children, and older adults, and they can result in severe illness, including death, said Kate Shumaker, an Ohio State University Extension educator and registered dietitian. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

To help lessen your chances of developing a foodborne illness, it’s best to cook eggs before eating them, as cooking reduces the number of bacteria present in an egg. However, a lightly or softly cooked egg with a runny egg white or yolk poses a greater risk than a thoroughly or hard-cooked egg, the USDA says. 

Lightly cooked egg whites and yolks have both caused outbreaks of salmonella infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s because partially cooking an egg can result in some harmful bacteria surviving the cooking process, which can cause illness. 

Likewise, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 79,000 cases of foodborne illnesses and 30 deaths each year are caused by eating eggs contaminated with salmonella.

While the chances of foodborne illnesses are small, you still need to practice safe food handling when dealing with raw eggs in preparation for dyeing and eating Easter eggs,Shumaker said.       

If you are making Easter eggs that will be eaten, it is important that you make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked. This can be done by placing fresh eggs with intact shells—never use eggs with cracked shells—in a saucepan and covering them with at least 1 inch of water.

Cook the eggs until the yolks and whites are firm: Cooking times can vary based on the sizes of the eggs. Then, run cold water over the eggs and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to decorate them.

Here are some other safety tips from the USDA to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to use only food-grade dye if you plan to eat the eggs you decorate. 
  • The USDA recommends making two sets of eggs: one for decorating and hiding, and another for eating. You could also use plastic eggs for hiding. 
  • If you plan to eat the eggs, after hard-boiling them, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within two hours.
  • If you plan to use the eggs for decorations and they will be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, it’s best not to eat them.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Considering a gluten-free diet?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It also appears in many processed foods.

I am thinking about removing gluten from my diet. Is there anything that I need to consider before making that decision?

Yes. An important thing to consider before going gluten free is the question of why you want to make that change.

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It also appears in many processed foods.

There is often a medical reason—such as wheat allergy, celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity—why a person must follow a gluten-free diet, said Shannon Carter, educator, family and consumer sciences, Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

However, some people have adopted a gluten-free diet because they believe it has health benefits, including weight loss. 

“While there is evidence to show that a gluten-free diet can help diminish symptoms associated with certain autoimmune diseases such as dermatitis herpetiformis, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, and psoriasis, there is no evidence to support gluten-free health claims for the general population,” Carter said in Gluten-Free Eating: Important Considerations, a recent Ohioline fact sheet. 

Ohioline is OSU Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu.

Some people who are on a gluten-free diet do not need to be, she said.

“The likelihood of weight loss on a gluten-free diet depends on how a person eliminates gluten,” Carter said. “Avoiding processed foods and refined carbohydrates like bread, crackers, and pasta and replacing them with whole grains will reduce extra calories and increase fiber.

“Gluten free does not necessarily mean healthy. Gluten is found in foods that are part of a healthy diet, which contributes nutrients and fiber.”

Carter offers these points to consider when deciding to go gluten free:

  • Be sure to consult a doctor before going gluten free, since diagnostic tests require active gluten consumption in order to be accurate. A gluten-free diet cannot replace a formal consultation, diagnosis, or recommendation from a physician.
  • Talk with adietitian to understand how a gluten-free diet plays an important role in managing gluten-related disorders. Gluten-free diets might require careful monitoring to ensure a healthy and adequate balance of nutrients and fiber.
  • If you will be the only gluten-free person in your household, will you prepare separate gluten-containing food for others? Will you have adequate space for storing and preparing gluten-free food separately from food containing gluten? 
  • Purchasing or preparing food for a gluten-free diet might take more time. While many grocery stores have a wide variety of gluten-free foods, some products might only be available at specialty stores. 
  • When eating away from home, you might need to prepare food to take with you. When eating out, you must check with the restaurant and inquire about the menu and possible sources of cross-contact, which is when gluten-free food comes into contact with food or surfaces where gluten has been present.
  • Gluten-free substitutes are usually more expensive. One research study by the National Institutes of Health found that gluten-free foods cost almost 2 1/2 times more than regular products.

If you havebeen gluten free and decide it’s no longer for you—and you do not have a medical reason to avoid gluten—Carter says to be careful when reintroducing gluten back into your diet. 

“Do so in sparing amounts, as your body might have difficulty digesting gluten and fructan, a highly fermentable component in wheat,” she said. “When medical diagnoses provide a solid motive for avoiding gluten, the gluten-free diet is inevitable.

“If eliminating gluten is merely a dietary preference, this decision deserves some careful consideration.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Modeling healthy eating is beneficial

Research has shown that parents’ eating choices can have a major influence on their children……

My little boy is at the age where he has decided he does not like to eat vegetables. As a parent, how can I instill better eating habits in my child?

While it’s normal for young children to be picky eaters, there are ways that you can help them develop healthier eating habits. One easy way is through modeling healthy eating habits yourself. One of the most common ways that children learn new things is by watching and imitating parents’ actions.

Photo: Getty Images

In fact, research has shown that parents’ eating choices can have a major influence on their children, said Ingrid Adams, state specialist in food, health, and human behavior for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Studies have found that parental modeling of healthy food choices has been positively associated with those same parents’ children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. And children whose parents modeled healthy eating behaviors were more likely to meet their recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, Adams said.

“By modeling unhealthy eating behaviors, parents may increase the likelihood of their children being overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk for chronic diseases that can affect their health now and in the future,” she said in Modeling at Mealtime, a recent Ohioline fact sheet. Ohioline is OSU Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu.

Adams offers these helpful tips for parents to model healthy eating habits in children:

  • Be willing to try new and healthy food options yourself. Offer new foods without forcing or bribing your child to eat them.
  • Show your kids how to make healthy choices during meals and snack times by choosing nutritious foods—and avoiding “junk foods”—yourself.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables as snacks in place of chips and candies, and replace sodas and other sugary, sweetened drinks with water. In other words, make water your dink of choice.
  • Make meals nutrient dense by including foods from each of the five good groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy.
  • Take kids with you when you go grocery shopping. Show them how to choose fresh produce, compare nutrition labels on foods, and how to shop on a budget. This can help them understand where their food comes from, how to make healthy choices, and how to use money wisely.

“Planning and making healthy meals with your children is another way to teach healthy eating habits. It is also a great way for children to learn about nutrition and food safety, and develop cooking skills and creativity,” Adams said. “Encourage creativity by having children create a new menu item from a list of ingredients you picked out together.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Understanding Symptoms of Food Poisoning

It’s important to note that symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to serious

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the type of germ to which you’ve been exposed, but there are some common signs that can indicate whether you’ve been exposed to a foodborne illness.

photo by Getty Images

The most common signs include stomach cramps, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Some bacteria, such as Listeria can cause flu-like symptoms.

It’s important to note that symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to serious and that some of them can come on as quickly as 30 minutes after you eat or as long as four weeks after you’ve eaten something that contains a foodborne pathogen, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The time it takes for symptoms of a foodborne illness to manifest really depends on the germ. For example, according to the CDC, if you consume foods that are contaminated with:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph), symptoms could appear as soon as 30 minutes to six hours later. 
  • Clostridium perfringens, symptoms could appear as soon as six to 24 hours later. 
  • Norovirus, symptoms could appear as soon as 12 to 48 hours later. 
  • Salmonella, symptoms could appear as soon as 12 to 72 hours later. 
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism), symptoms could appear as soon as 18 to 36 hours later. 
  • Vibrio vulnificus, symptoms could appear as soon as one to four days later. 
  • Campylobacter, symptoms could appear as soon as two to five days later. 
  • E. coli, symptoms could appear three to four days later. 
  • Cyclospora, symptoms could appear one week later. 
  • Listeria monocytogenes, symptoms could appear one to four weeks later. 

Some people may experience symptoms that last several hours or several days, said Sanja Ilic, the state food safety specialist for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“While most people experience only a mild illness, people with underlining conditions that weaken their immune system may experience severe outcomes that require them to be hospitalized,” she said.

So how do you know if you should see a doctor for your symptoms? The CDC advises people to seek medical attention for severe symptoms, including:

  • Blood in your stool.
  • A high fever, typically over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, measured with an oral thermometer.
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping down liquids, as this can lead to dehydration.
  • Signs of dehydration, which can be marked by a decrease in urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy upon standing.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, orturner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Dietary supplements to gain scrutiny

There are now close to 80,000 dietary supplements on the market….

I’ve been thinking about adding a dietary supplement as part of my daily routine. But I’m not sure how or if dietary supplements are regulated.

Unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements are regulated more like food products than like drugs. Supplements, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, will now be subject to “new enforcement strategies,” including a new rapid-response tool that can alert consumers to unsafe products, the FDA said in a written statement this week.

Photo: Getty Images

The move is “one of the most significant modernizations of dietary supplement regulation and oversight in more than 25 years,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “FDA’s priorities for dietary supplements are to ensure that they’re safe, contain the ingredients listed on the label, and are made according to quality standards.”

This is significant, considering that there are now close to 80,000 dietary supplements on the market, with three of every four American consumers now taking a dietary supplement regularly. For older Americans, the rate is four out of every five.

Dietary supplements regulated by the FDA include vitamins, minerals, and herbs. In the 25 years since Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which gave the FDA the authority to regulate dietary supplements, the dietary supplement market has grown significantly, the agency said.

“As the popularity of supplements has grown, so have the number of entities marketing potentially dangerous products, or making unproven or misleading claims about the health benefits they may deliver,” Gottlieb said.

Some of the new FDA oversight steps will include:

  • communicating to the public as soon as possible when there is a concern about a dietary supplement on the market.
  • ensuring that the FDA’s regulatory framework is flexible enough to evaluate product safety while promoting innovation.
  • developing new enforcement strategies.
  • continuing to engage in a public dialogue to get valuable feedback from dietary supplement stakeholders.

For example, the FDA recently sent 12 warning letters to certain supplement companies whose products the FDA considered as being “illegally marketed as unapproved, new drugs” because they claim to “prevent, treat, or cure Alzheimer’s disease, as well as health conditions like diabetes and cancer.”

Per Commissioner Gottlieb, “Dietary supplements can, when substantiated, claim a number of potential benefits to consumer health. They, however, cannot claim to prevent, treat, or cure diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Protecting Yourself from Hep A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that infects a person’s liver…..

I just heard about a recent health warning advising people who had visited a central Ohio restaurant last month to get a hepatitis A vaccine. What is hepatitis A, and why would people who were at the restaurant need a vaccine?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that infects a person’s liver. It can be spread through close contact with a person who has hepatitis A or by eating food prepared by a person with hepatitis A.

The recent warning concerns consumers who patronized Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 479 N. High St. in Columbus, Ohio, from Jan. 1–16 of this year. Columbus Public Health issued the warning after a person who had direct contact with food at the restaurant was diagnosed with hepatitis A.

According to Columbus Public Health, consumers who ate at the restaurant from Jan. 1–16 are encouraged to get a hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible. The agency also said that those same consumers should watch for symptoms of hepatitis A.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, fatigue, fever, a loss of appetite, joint pain, dark urine, and gray stool. These symptoms can develop from two to six weeks after the infection occurs. During that time, infected people can spread the virus to others.

There were 10,582 confirmed hepatitis A cases nationwide last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is part of an increase in reported cases in recent years, the government agency said.

Between 2015 and 2016, reported cases increased by 44.4 percent from 1,390 in 2015 to 2,007 cases in 2016. The 2016 increase was due to two hepatitis A outbreaks, each of which was linked to imported foods, CDC said. In Ohio alone, there have been at least 1,531 cases of hepatitis A last year, health officials said.

In fact, the Ohio Department of Health “has declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018. Outbreaks of hepatitis A are occurring in several states across the U.S., including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia,” the agency shared in a written statement.

Handwashing is one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of hepatitis A, especially for people who are preparing or serving foods or beverages, the CDC says. This is because food and beverages can become contaminated with the hepatitis A virus when microscopic amounts of feces are transferred from an infected person’s hands.

Additionally, the virus can survive on surfaces and isn’t killed when exposed to freezing temperatures, health experts say.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Picky Eating a Normal Part of Early Childhood

Include your children in meal preparation, giving them as much responsibility as appropriate for their age and ability……

My 4-year-old REFUSES to eat anything that is the color red — no red apples, tomatoes, red peppers or even pepperoni on his pizza. He didn’t used to care what color his food was, but within the past couple weeks, he’s taken a distain for red foods. Is this normal?

As frustrating as that may be for you when planning family meals and deciding what to feed your little one, picky eating habits are considered a normal part of a child’s development, according to health professionals.

In fact, up to half of preschoolers have exhibited picky eating habits, from wanting their foods prepared only a certain way, to not wanting to try new foods, and to, yes, refusing to eat foods based on color, research has found.

Up to half of preschoolers have exhibited picky eating habits

This could be in part because as a child’s growth slows between the ages of 2 and 5, most children experience a decrease in appetite, says Carol Smathers, a field specialist in Youth Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Picky eating may also be part of establishing independence during the preschool years,” she said. “The good news is that as long as a child is growing normally and has plenty of energy, chances are that his or her diet is providing the necessary nutrients.

“And fortunately, most children will become willing to eat a much greater range of foods over time.”

There are ways to encourage your little ones to expand their palates and savor a wider range of foods. For example, Smathers says, you can:

  • Take your children grocery shopping and let them choose fruits and vegetables.
  • Offer taste-testing opportunities as a way to introduce your child to new foods before they are served in meals. For produce, you can show your child how the food is grown and let your child compare how it tastes both cooked and raw.
  • Include your children in meal preparation, giving them as much responsibility as appropriate for their age and ability. Let them wash fruits and vegetables, measure and add ingredients, or help stir.
  • Offer realistic options, such as, “Would you like carrots or peas tonight?” instead of asking something like, “Do you want peas?”
  • Talk about how much you enjoy the different foods that are being served and what you like about them.

It may also help if you can focus on making mealtime fun and meaningful for your children and family. Ask your kids how their day has gone, or if they did anything fun that day. If your focus is on the foods they won’t eat and how their picky tastes negatively impact the meal, it could lead to unhealthy attitudes toward food and eating habits.

However, if you have a lingering concern about your child’s picky eating habits, it’s best not to scold your child or argue with them to eat. You could instead have a conversation with your pediatrician, nutritionist or other healthcare provider about your concerns.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Chowline: Meat vs. “Meat”

The issue of meat and meat product labeling is significant, considering that U.S. consumption of beef, pork, chicken and turkey has increased to a projected 214.8 pounds per person….


What’s the difference between meat, “clean meat” and plant-based “meat?” It’s all getting a bit confusing.

This is a very interesting question that is on the mind of many livestock producers and food makers recently thanks to a new law in at least one state that legally defines what constitutes “meat.”

Last week, lawmakers in Missouri became the first nationwide to create new provisions in their state’s Meat Advertising Law that require that any food or meat product that is called “meat” must be derived from livestock or poultry flesh.

The new provisions, which will begin to be enforced Jan. 1, 2019, say that meat products that aren’t derived from animal flesh must include a statement on the product packaging that says if the product is “plant-based,” “veggie,” “lab-grown” or “lab-created,” or if it is “made from plants” or created “in a lab,” according to a statement from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

photo: Getty Images

So what’s the difference?

Plant-based meat is made from plant-based proteins including soy and peas. Clean meat, which has also been called “cultured meat” or “lab-grown meat,” is made of cultured animal tissue cells, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

There is nothing new about plant-based “meat-like” products, but under meat inspection, names of meat products must meet the standard of identity that has been established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, said Lynn Knipe, an associate professor of food and animal sciences in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Currently, these products could not be labeled as meat and would have to be labeled with a name such as “imitation meat,” which would not be attractive to most consumers, he said.

“The problem is that it is not clear whether USDA or FDA will regulate the production of the cultured meat-like products, which was the motivation for the new Missouri law,” Knipe said. “Clean, or ‘cultured,’ meat apparently has been given the name ‘clean’ as some people feel that this product is better for the environment and that the manufacturing of this product removes the ‘ick’ factor that some associate with meat processing.”

But the use of the word “clean” is very misleading, he said.

“As consumers learn about the extensive processing that is involved in making these ‘lab-grown’ products, the ‘ick’ factor returns quickly for some,” Knipe said.  “This comes at a time when consumers are claiming to want natural, minimally processed food products, but the truth is that these cultured or lab-grown methods do not meet any of the requirements for natural and minimally processed foods.”

The issue of meat and meat product labeling is significant, considering that U.S. consumption of beef, pork, chicken and turkey has increased to a projected 214.8 pounds per person compared with 210.8 pounds per person in 2014, according to USDA. Meanwhile, the meat-substitute industry generated some $4.2 billion last year, according to Allied Market Research.

The United States Cattlemen’s Association filed a petition with USDA requesting that the agency establish a food labeling requirement that the word “beef” only be used to refer to products that come from cattle that were born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner.

And at least four organizations, including the plant-based meat company Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, have filed a federal lawsuit against Missouri’s new law provisions.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.