• Food Science Communicator Carl K. Winter, University of California at Davis, was featured as the “singing toxicologist,” also known as “the Elvis of E. coli,” on Discovery Channel Canada on Sept. 10. Winter, who has released two CDs of food safety parodies, has found a way to reach non-traditional audiences with his music. “The musical touch can add to memory,” he said, noting that people are more likely to think about food safety messages, such as how to properly cook hamburgers, if they are captured in lyrics to a popular tune. “I still consider myself pretty vocally challenged,” Winter said, “but things have come a long way and the audiences have grown. [Besides,] there’s not a lot of competition in the world of singing toxicologists.” Winter’s food safety parodies were also featured in several major newspapers, including the Sept. 16 Indianapolis Star and Star-Tribune (Minneapolis).
• Communicator Michael P. Doyle, University of Georgia, said in the Sept. 13 U.S. News & World Report that canned soup may produce sulfur dioxide gas over time due the interaction between the acid in the soup and the steel lining of the can. Production of the gas will cause the can to swell and the soup to have an off-flavor and smell.
• Communicator Bruce A. Watkins, Purdue University, discussed the future of functional foods in the Sept. 16 Associated Press. “In the future, foods may be matched to an individual’s risk for chronic disease,” he said. “We’ll be creating foods that are better for people [and] looking at more food components that are not classical nutrients, but that seem to be health protectants.” For optimum health, he noted, people need to include more omega-3 fatty acids and fewer omega-6 fatty acids in their diets to reduce their risk for arteriosclerosis, certain cancers, and inflammatory diseases.
• Communicator Mary Ellen Camire, University of Maine, noted in the August 1999 issue of Good Housekeeping that dark-green vegetables, such as kale and collard greens, contain high levels of chlorophyllin, a pigment that “traps carcinogens and prevents them from being absorbed in the body.”
• Communicator Joanne L. Slavin, University of Minnesota, said in the August 31 issue of Glamour that cereal is a healthy food choice. “You could live a long time just on cereal and milk,” she said. That’s good news for college students who live on cereal.
• Communicator John B. Allred, Ohio State University, added flavor to the September 1999 issue of USA Today magazine. “Flavor comes from volatile components in food that interact with our nerve endings and our sense of smell,” he said. “Most of those volatile components are fat-soluble,” he added, noting that fats carry the flavor molecules through the nose and mouth.
• Communicator Dean O. Cliver, University of California at Davis, questioned the U.S. government’s estimate of 9.2 million foodborne cases of Norwalk-like viruses in the Sept. 17 Houston Chronicle. Very few cases of the transient gastrointestinal illness the viruses cause are definitively diagnosed, he noted.
• Joyce Nettleton and Fran Katz of IFT discussed recombinant DNA technology on WTTW-TV’s (PBS) “Chicago Tonight” on Sept. 2. “Every credible scientific organization that has looked at the technology has concluded that it is inherently safe,” Nettleton stated. “It poses no risks that are unique or new and different from any other technologies that involve crop improvements. I think people are concerned because of imaginary fears.” Katz added, “We’re not inserting moon rocks here, we are inserting [genes].” Regarding the prospect of labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Nettleton noted that “because such labels are inherently pejorative—that is, they alarm or warn people—I oppose their use. I don’t oppose the provision of plenty of information [about GMOs] to the public,” she continued, “but a label won’t tell a consumer anything meaningful about the value and safety of the food or anything about its properties as far as taste or handling and performance in the kitchen are concerned.” Moreover, Katz said that in order to label GMOs, the cost of identity preservation (separating GMOs from non-GMOs) must be absorbed by consumers. “To add that cost when we have thousands of people hungry at night seems to me rather selfish,” she said.
• Joe M. Regenstein, Cornell University, said in the Aug. 18 Wall Street Journal that genetically modified foods are “not a problem” for even strict kosher certification organizations.
• Communicator Karen P. Penner, Kansas State University, told readers of the Sept. 14 issue of Woman’s World that commercial produce wash claims are unproven and unnecessary. “In fact, the FDA forbids manufacturers from advertising that such products actually kill bacteria,” she said. “Fortunately, you can avert most dangers simply by giving fruits and vegetables a thorough scrubbing with a brush [or friction] under lukewarm tap water. And don’t use soap or detergent: produce items are porous and can absorb the chemicals.”
• Communicator Alfred Bushway, University of Maine, noted in the November/December 1999 issue of Cook’s Illustrated that storing apples with potatoes delays sprout formation. This is because apples give off ethylene gas and other organic alcohols that suppress the elongation of potato cells, which causes sprouts to grow.
• Communicator Fergus M. Clydesdale, University of Massachusetts, explained in the Sept. 14 Daily Hampshire Gazette why consumers may not be saying “Wow!” to olestra snack foods as much as they used to. Ruling out negative health effects based on study results, Clydesdale attributed slow olestra sales to a swing back to consumption of higher fat food. However, “if what you want is a low-fat [snack] food that tastes good, this does it,” he noted.
• Communicator Pat Kendall, Colorado State University, said in the Sept. 15 Philadelphia Daily News that despite fried chicken’s regained popularity, “you wouldn’t want a steady diet of it.” She estimated that two pieces of it alone would account for about 12 percent of the daily recommended fat intake.
• Communicator Susan A. Nitzke, University of Wisconsin, noted in the Sept. 7 Wisconsin State Journal that the average American only eats 3.3 servings of vegetables a day out of the three to five recommended and 1.5 servings of fruit out of the two to four recommended. Though some consumers cite cost as a reason to not purchase fruit, she said, it is not expensive compared to doughnuts.
by ANGELA L. DANSBY
Media Relations Specialist