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Food safety tips for traveling

Headed to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup? Already thinking about the tantalizing smells of colorful and delicious new foods? For some people, food is the reason to travel. But while the mouthwatering smell of new and exotic treats may call out to travelers’ taste buds, their stomachs may not always be up for the adventure.

It’s a common misconception that food abroad isn’t as “safe” as food at home. While true for some things, more often than not eating food abroad can cause illness because no matter how healthy you are, you haven’t developed defenses against all bacteria — especially bacteria foreign to you. Something as seemingly harmless as a piece of melon can wreak havoc on a person’s system if not properly prepared.

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In the News: U of M researcher defends bacteria zapping in foods

Did you know the Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved using nuclear energy to wipe out bacteria in dozens of foods?

If your answer is no, you’re not alone.  The process – known as irradiation – has gained support from public health officials and scientists but the public has yet to catch on.

Irradiation involves the use of radiation to wipe out pathogens in dozens of food products including oysters and imported fruits. In fact, it’s been used in other developed countries for decades without reports of human harm.

But for many, the thought of injecting food with radiation sounds like something out of a science fiction movie…

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The research safeguarding your next meal

The University of Minnesota’s National Center for Food Protection and Defense is working hard to safeguard your next meal. Here’s a glimpse into the Minnesota-based research defending the global food supply.

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Can this tool predict and prevent food fraud before people get sick?

While 2012 marked the introduction of watershed federal food-safety reforms started by the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011; the United States’ contaminated food problem still remains somewhat unresolved.

Each year, roughly one in six Americans contracts a foodborne illness, and countless more consume foods that aren’t exactly what their packaging claims – honey, olive oil, maple syrup and fish are all frequent targets of food fraud …

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Amy Kircher to lead U of M food safety center

The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at the University of Minnesota, celebrates the appointment of Amy Kircher, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., to director this week.

As director, Kircher will lead the NCFPD’s research, education and outreach efforts focused on addressing the vulnerability of the food system from intentional or catastrophic contamination. During her tenure, Kircher will seek to transition the center’s research and technology to the private sector to protect the food system as well as create a network of global capabilities.

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In search of the source: the latest cyclospora outbreak

Cyclospora has captured national headlines this summer; attention prompted in part by public health experts who have questioned the methodology used to identify the culprit behind our country’s latest outbreak of foodborne illness.

When outbreaks of infection credited to cyclospora originally occurred in Iowa and Nebraska, public health officials attributed the infections to contaminated salad mixes packaged by Taylor Farms de Mexico. When that company stopped producing and shipping the product in early August, many assumed the infections would stop shortly afterward.

Yet two weeks later the number of documented infections has continued to climb.

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