Tracy Turner

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Chow Line, consumer news, food safety, nutrition.
  1. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Don’t bleach your food to protect against COVID-19

    I’m really worried about COVID-19 and want to keep my family safe, so lately, I’ve been rinsing my fresh fruits and vegetables with a mixture of bleach and water. That’s safe, right? No, that is not safe. You should NEVER wash or rinse ANY food product with any form of bleach, disinfectant, or any other household cleaning chemicals. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a notice to consumers alerting them to the dangers of rinsing, soaking, or washing any food products with bleach or disinfectant, after a significant number of consumers have been doing just that. Calls to poison centers around the country regarding exposures to cleaners and disinfectants have increased sharply since the beginning of the COVID-19...
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    Chow line: Salad recall prompts questions of parasite

    I read something about a salad recall due to cyclospora, but I’ve not really heard about cyclospora before – what is it? Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic parasite that can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue. When people eat food or drink water that’s contaminated with cyclospora, they can develop an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced June 19 that they are investigating a multistate outbreak of cyclospora potentially linked to ALDI Little Salad Bar Brand Garden Salad from ALDI grocery stores, Hy-Vee Brand Garden Salad from Hy-Vee grocery stores, and Signature Farms Brand Garden Salad from Jewel-Osco.  As of now, the recalled...
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    Chow Line: First day of Summer? A look at what fruits and vegetables are in season now 

    Summer is finally here and I’m craving fresh cherries, sweet corn and delicious ripe tomatoes fresh off the vine. What other fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer? With tomorrow, June 20, being the first day of summer this year, now seems like a good time to revisit what fruits and vegetables are in season now. As published in a previous “Chow Line,” summer heat and long days make it a good time to indulge in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables like berries, melons, sweet corn and tomatoes, among a wide range of plentiful produce. Not only are these items extremely fresh and flavorful because they’re in season, they’re also widely discounted because of the abundance of supply based on the time of year. Improved technology and...
  4. Judit Puskas, wearing a homemade illustration of her polymer face mask. She is currently in the final stages of developing a new polymer face mask that she expects will be more effective in the fight against COVID-19. Photo: Judit Puskas.

    Ohio State researching, testing polymer face masks to protect against COVID-19

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—While many people are encouraged and, in some cases, mandated to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are some complaints that have become a common refrain: the mask doesn’t fit correctly, it’s uncomfortable, it’s too hot, or the mask is hard to breathe through. However, a material scientist at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is working to change that.   Judit Puskas is in the final stages of developing a new polymer face mask that she expects will be more effective in the fight against COVID-19. Puskas, who is a Distinguished Professor in polymer science in the CFAES Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has a ...
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    Chow Line: Vitamin D and COVID-19

    My wife heard that vitamin D can help with symptoms of COVID-19. Is that true? Your question is on the minds of many consumers, as more people have been reaching for vitamin supplements to boost their immune system amid the coronavirus pandemic. Vitamin D, which plays a wide variety of roles in boosting the immune system, is one of those supplements that has seen increased sales in recent weeks.  It helps the body absorb calcium, which builds strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. Vitamin D’s effect is significant: If you don’t get enough, your body absorbs only 10% to 15% of the calcium you consume. With vitamin D, absorption jumps to 30% to 40%. In addition, muscles, nerves, the immune system, and many other bodily functions all require vitamin D to do...
  6. Tiny white larvae in a strawberry caused by spotted wing drosophila. Photo courtesy of Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org.

    Chow Line: A tiny worm in your strawberry won’t hurt you

    I just saw a viral video that shows little tiny worms coming out of a strawberry soaking in salt water. Is that real or a prank? Can I get sick from eating strawberries if they do have worms? Many people in recent weeks have been surprised to learn that yes, sometimes fresh produce can contain small pest infestations that, while may sound gross to some, really aren’t harmful for consumers.  In fact, there is a strong likelihood that you’ve already unknowingly consumed a tiny worm or insect or two during your lifetime.  The Food and Drug Administration has guidelines for how many bugs or how much mold is allowed in each type of food. Using what the FDA calls food defects standards, the agency sets the maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects that...
  7. Photo: Getty Images

    Ohio State offers tips for vendors, consumers when shopping at farmers markets amid COVID-19

    COLUMBUS, Ohio— At this year’s farmers markets, you’ll find Ohio farmers selling the fresh foods you’re used to buying. However, there won’t be any farm-fresh food samples to taste, and the music and children’s activities that typically accompany the markets will likely be canceled. Ohio farmers markets, farm markets, and you-pick operations want you to know they are open, they’re taking precautions to keep consumers safe from COVID-19, and they’re fully stocked with locally grown and produced foods.  Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted growers, local farmers, and livestock producers, these groups are continuing to plant, harvest, and market foods directly to the public, said Shoshanah Inwood, assistant professor of...
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    Chow Line: Canning expected to be big this year amid COVID-19

    I’m growing my own produce this year since I’ve got time on my hands due to the pandemic. I want to be able to store the foods that I grow and don’t immediately use, but I have no idea how to get started. Do you know of any resources? Home food preservation is expected to be very popular this year, as many people such as yourself have taken on several kinds of new hobbies to pass time while staying home during quarantine.  Temporary business closures due to stay-at-home orders have also resulted in more people turning to gardening, whether due to a fear of food supply chain disruptions or a desire to have more control over the foods they eat. Nationwide, more consumers are expected to plant gardens this year. For example, online searches for “growing...
  9. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: After the flood

    My home was flooded, impacting food I had stored in cabinets, my pantry, and my fridge. As my home dries out, what do I do with the food? Many Ohioans have experienced similar problems recently as heavy rains, flash floods, and flooding have caused water-soaked homes and businesses, and evacuation situations across the state. Because your question is very similar to others that were asked in previous “Chow Line” columns, it’s best answered by reissuing a combination of those columns here. If your home becomes flooded, it is important to throw away any food that might have come into contact with floodwater. That includes cartons of milk, juice, or eggs, and any raw vegetables and fruits. In fact, unless they were in a waterproof container, any foods in your...
  10. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Questions on meat safety and supply amid COVID-19

    Is it safe to eat food or meat if it has been handled by someone who has COVID-19?  According to food safety and meat science experts, the risk of acquiring COVID-19 through the handling of food or meat is extremely low. In fact, there is no evidence at this time that COVID-19 can be transmitted through consumption of contaminated foods, said Lyda G. Garcia, an assistant professor of meat science with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).   COVID-19 transmits person-to-person through droplets that are produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. The virus is most often transferred to another individual when droplets directly reach their nose, mouth, or eyes, or through close contact such as a handshake...
  11. Photo: Getty Images

    New CFAES groups assist Ohio food producers, consumers during pandemic

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Buy local foods. The supply is there, despite what you might see in some grocery stores. That’s the message many local farmers, growers, and livestock producers want consumers to know about food-buying options as the nation continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.  While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions with food processing and distribution link breaks in much of the food chain system nationwide, one segment of the food system that has worked by adapting quickly to overcome these challenges is the local food system.  Local farmers and livestock producers are continuing to plant, harvest, and market food directly to the public allowing consumers to continue to access locally produced fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat, and...
  12. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Face masks and eating

    I now wear a mask every time I leave my house, and I plan to do so as long as we are faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. But I haven’t figured out how to eat or drink with a mask on. Do I take it off or pull it up between bites? Any tips on what to do? As states ease their stay-at-home orders and people return to venturing out of the house, your question of how to eat or drink while wearing a face mask is one that is likely to come up frequently. According to published reports, some restaurants in Hong Kong, for example, have begun providing patrons with a clean bag to store their masks in while they eat at the restaurant. With that in mind, if you do plan to eat when out in public, you should carefully take your mask off completely without touching the outside of the mask, said...
  13. Photo: Getty Images

    Got financial questions? Ask a financial expert

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Many Ohioans struggling financially have questions, and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) might have the answers. With Ohio’s unemployment rate hitting a five-year high as the nation continues to deal with the health and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, numerous consumers statewide have financial questions as many try to manage the biggest economic challenge they’ve ever faced. More than 1.1 million Ohioans have filed for unemployment benefits since March, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Nationwide, some 33.5 million Americans are out of work, with 14.7% of the population unemployed, the highest since the Great Depression, economists said today....
  14. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Not all foods fit for humans are fit for dogs

    I’ve recently adopted a dog. He’s been a great companion for me as I’ve been sheltering at home alone during the coronavirus pandemic. As this is my first time as a dog owner, I’ve given my dog bites of food from my meals in addition to his own dog food. Is that OK? Congratulations on becoming a new dog parent! Many people such as yourself have become new dog owners in recent weeks as people continue to abide by stay-at-home orders and have sought companionship by welcoming new pets into their homes. In fact, animal rescue centers and shelters nationwide have reported a spike in adoptions and foster applications since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including for example, the Franklin County Dog Shelter, which has reported an increase in pet adoptions,...
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    Chow Line: Fresh produce and COVID-19

    Is it safe to buy and eat fresh fruits and vegetables in light of the coronavirus pandemic? Can I get COVID-19 from eating fresh fruits such as apples? Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is a great choice that promotes a healthy diet, so it’s important that you don’t let fears of the coronavirus pandemic prevent you from eating these healthy foods. In fact, they provide considerable nutritional benefits that help maintain personal health and can enhance the ability to fight off infections. As such, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest that you should fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables at each meal. With that in mind, it’s important to know that food safety experts consider the risk of acquiring COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus,...
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    Chow Line: Cleaning and disinfecting amid COVID-19

    Do I need to store my food in the garage or wipe my groceries with a disinfectant when I get them home from the grocery store to keep safe from coronavirus? While some people choose to wipe their groceries down with a disinfectant cloth when bringing them home from the grocery store as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, that is not a step that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said is a requirement. Nor does the CDC recommend that consumers must quarantine their food purchases in the garage before bringing them into the house. This is because groceries are not frequently touched surfaces, and the risk of them containing COVID-19 is low, says Sanja Ilic, food safety state specialist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State...
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    Chow line: Keeping food fresh longer amid coronavirus pandemic

    I’m only shopping once or twice a month now, as I abide by the Ohio Stay at Home Order during the COVID-19 pandemic. How can I make sure my food lasts as long as possible so that I don’t have to keep going back to the store? Your question is on the minds of many people nationwide, as the majority of the country continues efforts to flatten the curve and lessen the spread of COVID-19. In Ohio, for example, on April 2, the Stay at Home Order was extended to May 1. With that in mind, many grocery retailers are or have implemented regulations to manage social distancing measures, including making grocery aisles move in one direction and lessening the number of shoppers in the stores at the same time. With these limitations, consumers should first shop their cupboards and...
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    Chow Line: Takeout food and food delivery services amid COVID-19

    What steps do I need to take when ordering takeout food or food from a delivery service in light of the coronavirus pandemic? First, it’s important to understand that COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease. While there have been no reports as of this time to suggest that COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has been transmitted by handling food or food packaging, here are some ways that you can protect yourselves and others when ordering food through takeout, a drive-thru, or a home delivery service. Because COVID-19 transmits person-to-person through droplets that are produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, the best way to protect yourself and others is to keep physical distance of at least 6 feet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and...
  19. The CDC says wash and sanitize your hands after grocery shopping. It’s important that you wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds each time. Hand sanitizer is also an option if you do not have access to soap and water. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Grocery shopping in the midst of COVID-19

    What steps do I need to take when grocery shopping in light of the coronavirus pandemic? COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease. While there have been no reports as of this time to suggest that COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has been transmitted by handling food or food packaging, here are ways that consumers can protect themselves when grocery shopping. COVID-19 transmits person-to-person through droplets that are produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, said Qiuhong Wang, a scientist and coronavirus researcher with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Symptoms range from mild to severe...
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    Chow Line: Healthy eating when stressed

    My kids are out of school for several weeks now, as part of my state’s efforts to lessen the spread of coronavirus. As a result, I’m stressed, the kids are stressed, and I’ve found myself reaching for rich, high-sugar foods that I typically avoid because they’re not the healthiest options. Any tips on how I can eat better during this time of high stress? You’re not alone. People often reach for comfort foods during times of high stress. Many times, those foods tend to be high in sugar and low in fiber. It’s best to avoid those foods because they can increase the development of chronic inflammation in our bodies, according to Patricia Brinkman, family and consumer sciences educator with Ohio State University Extension. That’s an issue...
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    Chow line: Stocking up in case of emergency

    I keep hearing that people should have an emergency supply of foods on hand in case of emergency, but I have no clue what to get. What food supplies should I stock up on in case of emergency? Good question. Some consumers in certain areas of Washington State have found grocery stores with empty shelves, as many people responded to coronavirus fears and went out in what some have described as a panic, to stock up on supplies. But that’s not a good idea, because panic-buying could lead to shortages of supplies for others if people overbuy items they otherwise really don’t need. To avoid scenarios like that, it’s a good idea to always have on hand at least a three-day supply of nonperishable essentials such as canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not...
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    Media Advisory: Ohio State experts offers new webinar on novel coronavirus

    COLUMBUS, Ohio —Linda Saif, a scientist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), has recorded “Coronaviruses: One world, one health, mild and severe, human and animal threats” as part of Ohio State’s Global One Health initiative monthly webinar series. View the webinar at go.osu.edu.saifcovid-19. The coronavirus, COVID-19, is being blamed for at least 3,254 deaths and more than 94,902 confirmed illnesses in some 83 countries since December 2019, with at least 155 cases of coronavirus reported in the United States across at least 15 states. At least 10 people have died as a result of COVID-19 in Washington State and one person...
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    Chow line: Eating fewer trans or saturated fats better choice for heart health

    I’m focusing on improving my nutrition as part of my overall health resolutions for this year. Do you have any tips on how to make heart-healthy food choices? February is a good time to focus on healthy food choices and heart health, as the month was designated American Heart Month by former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1963. As such, health care advocates, including the American Heart Association, take this time every year to promote consumer awareness of hearth health and the impact that foods can have on your health. This is significant considering that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American consumers. Limiting unhealthy foods and making wise food choices are important parts of developing and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. One way to do that is by...
  24. A detailed look at what's new on the updated nutrition facts label. Photo: FDA

    Chow Line: New nutrition labels reflect more accurate serving sizes

    There seems to be something different about the nutrition label on some of the foods I’ve purchased lately. Did the labels change? Yes. In fact, the nutrition labels on some foods have changed and will soon change on other food products, thanks to new rules instituted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA announced the updated nutrition label design in 2016 as part of an effort to reflect updated scientific findings to help consumers make better-informed decisions about food choices and maintain healthy diets, the government agency said. One of the biggest changes consumers can expect to see is a larger, bolder typeface for both calories and serving sizes. The typeface will be easier for people to see and read. And the serving sizes have been updated to better...
  25. Photo: A transmission electron micrograph of a coronavirus. Courtesy of Linda Saif.

    News tips and events for the week of Feb. 17

    Tip 1: Coronavirus and Global One Health —Linda Saif, a scientist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), will present a talk,“Coronaviruses: Global threats to humans and animals,” as part of Ohio State’s Global One Health initiative monthly webinar Feb. 20, from 9-10 a.m. Saif is known nationally and internationally for her work on enteric viruses, including coronaviruses, which affect food-producing animals, wildlife, and humans. Saif is also a member of Ohio State’s Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), where she is a co-director for the Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program. She is also  a member of the National...

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