Tracy Turner

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Chow Line, consumer news, food safety, nutrition.
  1. Discolored leaves such as this, suggest fungal disease in this tomato plant. The leaves need pruned with sterilized pruners and then discarded into the garbage and not the compost pile. Photo curtesy of Timothy McDermott.

    Chow Line: Excess rainfall impacting tomato plants

    I’ve grown tomato plants in my central Ohio backyard for the past couple of years, as part of my efforts to make healthier food choices for my family. But this year, the leaves on the tomato plants are discolored and dying. What’s going on with the plants, and can my tomatoes be saved? It’s wonderful that you are making healthy food choices for your family. Tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and potassium and folate. The tomato is also a wonderful source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to several important health benefits such as reducing your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer, as well as helping you maintain a healthy blood pressure. Without having seen your specific tomato plants, I can offer some suggestions...
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    Chow Line: Food safety after a power outage or flood

    I went grocery shopping last week, and the next day, our power went out for several hours due to severe storms. Is there any food that can be saved, or do I have to throw everything out of our fridge due to spoilage? It’s that time of year when severe weather can leave consumers without power for a few minutes to multiple days, in some instances. Rounds of severe weather have already impacted many consumers nationwide this spring, with thousands experiencing widespread power outages and flooding issues in Ohio and throughout the country.  It’s incredibly frustrating to think you have to discard groceries that you’ve just purchased due to a power outage. Understanding the basics of food safety and how perishable foods are impacted when the temperature is 40...
  3. Flooded farmland in southern Ohio. Photo by Sherrie Whaley.

    Media advisory: Ohio State experts available to discuss ongoing rain and its impact on Ohio farmers

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Agronomic and agricultural economic experts at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) are available to discuss the impact the historic rainfall has had on Ohio farmers and to offer some options for farmers going forward. On June 14, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture issue a disaster designation for Ohio to make assistance available to farmers as they deal with continuing heavy rainfall. Record rainfall through the spring planting season has resulted in flooded and saturated fields that have prevented some Ohio farmers from planting their crops. As of June 17, only 68% of Ohio’s corn crop and 46% of Ohio’s soybean crop had been planted, according to...
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    News tips and events for the week of June 17

    Tip 1: Ohio State experts available to discuss ongoing weather issues and the impact on Ohio farmers: On June 14, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture issue a disaster designation for Ohio to make assistance available to farmers as they deal with continuing heavy rainfall. Record rainfall through the spring planting season has resulted in flooded and saturated fields that have prevented some Ohio farmers from planting crops. As of June 17, only 68% of Ohio’s corn crops and 46% of Ohio’s soybean crops had been planted, according to USDA Crop Progress reports. Agronomy experts at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) are available to discuss the impact the rain has had on farmers...
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    Chow Line: FDA warns of Hepatitis A with certain frozen blackberries

    I just heard the recent health warning advising people about the concern with a brand of frozen blackberries and hepatitis A. How is it possible that frozen berries could be contaminated with the virus? Hepatitis A virus is a highly contagious virus that infects a person’s liver. It can be easily spread through close contact with a person who has hepatitis A or by eating food prepared by a person with hepatitis A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a recent warning alerting consumers that some frozen blackberries branded by the Kroger Co. as “Private Selection” were found to be contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. The Kroger Co. issued a recall on June 7 for the following Private Selection items: Frozen Triple Berry Medley, 48-ounce...
  6. Tomato plants grown in an aquaponics system, which combines fish aquaculture with hydroponics to cultivate plants in water under artificial lighting. Photo: Getty Images.

    Sustainable agriculture in Ohio featured in statewide farm tour

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Interested in learning how to use yellow perch to grow aquaponic produce sustainably? Ohio State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Team will host 10 tours this spring, summer and fall on sustainable organic specialty crops, year-round gardening, cut flowers, raising livestock, aquaponic produce and yellow perch farming and urban agriculture, as part of the 2019 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series. The series is an opportunity for growers and other interested people to both learn and experience what sustainable agriculture is all about from farmers and producers who are working in this field daily, said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension educator who is also the coordinator of Ohio State’s Sustainable Agriculture Team....
  7. Chow Line: FDA supports standard language to help avoid food label confusion

    I recently went shopping and bought a bag of salad that says “best if used by June 14” on the packaging, a carton of milk that says “sell by June 17,” and a package of eggs that says “use by June 20.” I’m confused by what all these different dates mean. Those food label dates are confusing to many people—more than a third of consumers throw away food once the date on the label has passed because they mistakenly think the date is an indicator of food safety, according to a 2017 study by the Harvard University Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. But for most foods, the date label is a manufacturer’s best guess as to how long the product will be at its peak quality. With only a few...
  8. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Save time and money by making food at home

    I’d like to feed my family more home-cooked meals, but sometimes after a long day at work, it’s easier to stop at a restaurant for takeout. Do you have tips about how to better optimize my time for making dinner at home?  First, you can take some measure of comfort in knowing that your household isn’t the only one that seems to be spending more money on takeout rather than cooking at home.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, the average household spent an average of $3,008 per year on dining out. That number has increased over the past couple of years, with the average household spending $3,154 on food away from home in 2016, and $3,365 in 2017. However, if you want to lessen the amount of money your household spends on takeout...
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    Chow Line: Improperly cooked hamburgers on the grill could make your Memorial Day memorable

    We plan to grill this weekend for Memorial Day but my husband and I can’t seem to agree on how to cook the hamburgers. I like them medium rare like a steak, but my husband says the burgers should be cooked until they are well done. Which one of us is right? Unlike steaks, hamburgers, and any ground beef meals, should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to help lessen your chance of developing a foodborne illness, 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).  Even though beef steak and ground beef are both beef, steak can be safe to eat at a minimum internal...
  10. Photo: Getty Images

    Media Advisory: Ohio State expert available to speak about relationship between cancer and diet

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—An expert in nutrition and how foods play a role in disease prevention from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is available to discuss with the media about the relationship between cancer and diet in light of the recently released study on the issue. A study published May 22 in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum found that an estimated 80,110 new cancer cases among adults 20 and older in the United States in 2015 were associated with eating a poor diet. The study evaluated seven dietary factors: a low intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy products; and a high intake of processed meats, red meats, and sugary beverages such as soda. The study also found that low whole-grain consumption...
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    Chow line: Learning to dine with diabetes

    My dad was recently diagnosed with diabetes and was advised to change his diet. Do you know of any local resource to help us understand which diet changes he’ll need to make?   One of the best resources your dad can turn to is his doctor, who might be able to connect him with a dietitian who can possibly help him tailor an eating plan specific to his dietary needs. Additionally, your dad and the rest of your family can learn more about diabetes and how to manage nutritional needs through a free online course created by Ohio State University Extension family and consumer sciences educators. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.  The course, Dining with Diabetes:Beyond the...
  12. Photo: Getty Images

    News tips and events for the week of May 13

    Tip 1: Wet weather delays Ohio planting: Persistent rain and saturated soil conditions have delayed corn and soybean planting in much of Ohio thus far this planting season. For the week ended May 5, only 2% of Ohio’s projected corn acreage was planted. In comparison, 20% was planted at that same time last year, and 27% is the five-year average for that time. Soybean planting is also down, with only 1% of Ohio’s projected soybean acreage planted. In comparison, 7% was planted at that same time last year, and 9% is the five-year average for that same time. Many farmers statewide question whether they can still produce crops with strong yields after such late planting, so agronomists at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (...
  13. Food safety experts say never wash or rinse raw chicken. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Never a good idea to wash raw poultry

    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. 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...
  14. Keith DiDonato Photo: Ken Chamberlain

    CFAES names new chief advancement officer

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Keith DiDonato has been appointed as the new chief advancement officer of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Starting on May 20, DiDonato will lead and develop the CFAES Office of Advancement, which includes fundraising, alumni relations, and marketing communications. Currently the associate vice president for development at The College of Wooster, DiDonato oversees the major and planned giving programs, annual giving, and the parents and family giving program. In that role, he is directly involved with the largest fundraising year in the history of the institution, adding $40 million to the school’s campaign.   DiDonato also worked as the director of leadership giving at Oberlin...
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    Chow line: More foodborne illness outbreaks detected last year

    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. 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...
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    Chow Line: Drinking more water can mean less calories for some kids

    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...
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    Chow Line: Hard-boiled eggs safer choice than soft-boiled eggs for Easter

    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...
  18. Photo: Thinkstock

    News tips and events for the week of April 19

    Tip 1: Getting ready for the growing season: Farmers and producers in Ohio can expect to see a wet April followed by a warmer and not as wet May that includes the possibility of normal or even a bit below normal rainfall. Early indications for the summer growing season include normal or slightly above normal temperatures and possibly a bit wetter weather than normal; however, June could be a bit drier. That’s according to Jim Noel, with the National Weather Service. Noel’s weather updates are featured in the Crop Observation and Recommendation Network’s C.O.R.N Newsletter, which is offered by agronomists and educators with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Tip 2: Lake Erie Watersnake...
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    Chow Line: Springtime in Ohio is a good time for strawberries, asparagus, other in-season produce

    Which fruits and vegetables are in season in the spring? Rain and bright sunny days make spring a good time to indulge in a wide range of plentiful produce such as asparagus, cabbage, kale, spinach, and strawberries. Not only are these items extremely fresh and flavorful because they’re currently in season, but they’re also widely discounted because of the abundance of supply based on this time of year. Because fruits and vegetables grow in cycles and ripen during certain seasons, produce typically is fresher and tastes best when ripe. And while most fruits and vegetables are available to consumers year-round thanks to agricultural innovations, seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically cheaper to buy because they are easier to produce than fruits and vegetables that...
  20. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: When to throw out moldy food

    When is it ok to consume food that mold has grown on, and when should one throw the food away? That depends, in part, on the type of food. First, it’s important to understand what mold is.  Mold and yeast are generally considered spoilage organisms, as they cause undesirable changes to the appearance, texture, smell, and taste of the product, explains Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). However, some instances of mold growth on food introduces food safety concerns, Snyder wrote in Mold Has Grown on Your Food: What Should You Do, a recent Ohioline fact sheet. Ohioline is Ohio State University Extension’s free online...
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    Chow Line: New tool offers chefs guidance on food safety

    As a food blogger, I’ve written my own recipes before, but I’m wondering how I can incorporate the most updated food safety information into those recipes. Do you have any advice for me? A new online tool that was launched this month will allow people who develop and write recipes to incorporate step-by-step food safety information into those recipes.  The Safe Recipe Style Guide was developed by food safety experts and food journalists as part of an effort to help educate consumers on safe food-handling practices. The free online tool, which is offered by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, a Virginia-based nonprofit food safety organization, provides recipe writers information about how to incorporate food tips into most recipes. The...
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    News tips and events for the week of March 25

    Tip 1: “Zombie” deer meat? A recent Chow Line column answers a question on chronic wasting disease, which has also been called “zombie deer disease.” This disease rots the brains of deer, elk, and moose, causing them to act lethargic and less afraid of humans before dying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, the CDC advises people to take certain precautions when dealing with deer or elk and the meat from those animals in areas where chronic wasting disease is confirmed within the wild herd. While Ohio’s current status designation is “chronic wasting disease-free in the wild,” there have been some reported cases in three surrounding states: Michigan, West Virginia, and...
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    Chow Line: Considering a gluten-free diet?

    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...
  24. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: CDC: Avoid “zombie” deer meat

    I keep hearing about “zombie deer.” What is that? What you are talking about is chronic wasting disease, a disease that has been featured in numerous national media outlets and news stories in recent weeks. Chronic wasting disease, which has also been called “zombie deer disease,” rots the brains of deer, elk, and moose, causing them to act lethargic and less afraid of humans before dying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While Ohio’s current status designation is “chronic wasting disease-free in the wild,” there have been some reported cases in three surrounding states: Michigan, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the CDC said. The disease has been detected in 24 states thus far, the CDC said. “Chronic...
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    Chow line: Modeling healthy eating is beneficial to 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. 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...

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