Tracy Turner

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

    News tips and events for the week of Aug. 12

    Tip 1: Seminar on Precision Livestock Farming: Daniel Berckmans, emeritus professor, animal and human health engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, will discuss how smart technology monitoring can be used for animal welfare and human health engineering. The “Precision Livestock Farming (PLF): A Game Changer for the Worldwide Livestock Production” seminar is Aug. 15 from 10–11:30 a.m. in room250A, in the Agricultural Administration Building, 2120 Fyffe Road, in Columbus. Hosted by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE), the seminar will discuss how emerging smart technology can be used to improve our ability to spot and treat animal...
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    Chow Line: Food safety and homemade fruit- or vegetable-infused water

    I’m planning to add either fresh strawberry or cucumber slices to a pitcher of water to serve with a lunch I’m hosting. Are there any food safety concerns that I need to be aware of when making fruit- or vegetable-infused water? Infusing water with fruits or vegetables is a wonderful, healthy, and delicious way to add flavor to water without adding sugar. Not only is infused water a simple way to stay hydrated, but it has also become increasingly popular among consumers who are seeking healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. However, when preparing fruit- or vegetable-infused water, it’s important to keep food safety in mind to prevent the potential of developing a foodborne illness. In fact, you should handle infused water as you would any perishable food,...
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    Chow Line: Multiple ways to disinfect drinking water in an emergency

    The water supply for my household has been disrupted twice this summer due to historic rainfall levels, leaving us faced with boil alerts due to floodwaters. But since our power was also out because of the storms, we had to buy bottled water instead. Is there any other way to clean the water in a situation like that?  Many people in Ohio and throughout the Midwest have experienced similar situations due to the excessive rainfall that has hit the region recently.  In fact, May 2018 to April 2019 was the wettest year on record nationwide, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. An average of 36.20 inches of precipitation fell nationwide, which was 6.25 inches above the...
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    Chow Line: Advanced meal planning one way to benefit from Community Supported Agriculture

    I joined a CSA this spring for the first time, and now I’m getting so many vegetables in my weekly shares that I don’t know what to do with them all. Some of the produce spoils before I get around to using it. How can I better manage this bounty of fresh foods? It’s great that you’ve joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs are a wonderful way to access fresh, locally grown produce and other foods.  While every CSA has some slight differences in how it operates, all work by allowing consumers to purchase a share—some call it a subscription—to a farm in return for weekly deliveries of farm-fresh, local produce, goods, and foods. Farmers benefit because they are able to derive income from the shares, which are often used for...
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    Chow line: Help for family members dealing with diabetes

    My dad was diagnosed with diabetes last year, but it seems he hasn’t really embraced what that means. For example, he hasn’t made any changes to his eating habits at all. How can I help him better understand his diagnosis and make healthier food choices? While it might seem that your dad hasn’t accepted his new reality of living with diabetes, it might just be that he doesn’t know where or how to start in terms of making changes to accommodate his new health situation. Changing and maintaining a new behavior can be difficult, especially when you’ve received a new diagnosis of diabetes that might require you to change several behaviors all at once, according to Communication Strategies to Support a Family Member with Diabetes, a new Ohioline fact...
  6. Flooded farm fields in southern Ohio. Photo: Sherrie Whaley.

    News tips and events for the week of July 15

    Tip 1: CFAES help for growers and producers: Experts at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) know that this year has been particularly challenging for Ohio growers and producers due to the historic rainfall in Ohio this growing season. As such, CFAES has convened a task force to address concerns and offer the best science-based recommendations for and solutions to the issues growers are facing regarding weather impacts, tariffs, and low commodity prices.  Here are just a few of the resources that CFAES experts are working hard to offer farmers statewide. FAQs about the 2019 agricultural challenges can be found at go.osu.edu/AgCrisis. Recommendations and information for farmers of grain and feed can be found...
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    Chow Line: No such thing as male and female bell peppers

    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-...
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    Chow Line: Barbecue safely this Fourth of July

    I’m ready to use my grill for the first time this summer for a July Fourth cookout. Is it OK to use a steel wire grill brush to clean the grease and grime that’s built up since the last time I used it?   Your question is similar to another that was asked in a “Chow Line” column from July 2018, so it’s best answered by reissuing that column here. When using a wire grill brush, it’s important to take note of how old your grill brush is and what condition it’s in. If your grill brush is worn down, warped, or has some missing bristles, you might want to consider throwing it out. This is because you’ll want to be careful that you don’t inadvertently leave behind any wire bristles from the grill-cleaning brush that could...
  9. 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...
  11. 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...
  14. 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....
  15. 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...
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    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...
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    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...
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    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 (...
  21. 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...
  22. 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...

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