Tracy Turner

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

    News Tips and Events for the Week of April 23

    Tip 1: Welcome to the first Ohio 4-H LGBTQ+ Summit. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University will host the first Ohio 4-H LGBTQ+ Summit, April 27-28 at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, on Ohio State’s Columbus campus. The event will include a Professional Development Day, April 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., for 4-H-affiliated adults including post-high school participants, 4-H professionals, parents and volunteers. The event will also feature a Youth Summit on April 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., for youth only (and designated 4-H professionals), including middle school and high school students and youth not enrolled in 4-H. Registration for the April 27 portion of the summit is $50 for...
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    Chow Line: FDA Says Avoid Highly Concentrated and Pure Caffeine Products

    My roommate wants to take this caffeine powder he found online so that he can stay up late to study for his midterm exams. I’ve told him that’s not a good idea. Am I right? Yes, you’re right. In fact, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration announced last Friday that highly concentrated and pure caffeine products are illegal when sold in bulk quantities directly to consumers. The federal agency is now working to get them off of the market and is warning consumers to not use the products, which are often sold as dietary supplements. Many of the highly concentrated and pure caffeine products are currently sold online, FDA said. “Products consisting of or containing only pure or highly concentrated caffeine have been linked to at least two deaths in the...
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    Chow Line: Spring Cleaning Checklist Should Include Your Fridge and Pantry, Too

    I’ve noticed that sometimes, my refrigerator has a stale odor. How can I determine what’s causing the smell, and most importantly, how can I stop the problem from occurring? It’s likely that what you are smelling is either bacteria or mold that can thrive in moist conditions and are oftentimes found in refrigerators. Moist conditions in a fridge can be caused by condensation from the fridge, humidity from the outside and, yes, spilled foods, experts say. The issue is that once moisture gets into your refrigerator, microbes can multiply and eventually emit a foul smell. There are several ways to deal with the issue, and with spring weather finally starting to occur, now is a good time to do so. When you plan your spring-cleaning regimen this season, including...
  4. Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) leaves, in powder form, capsules and tablets. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: FDA Recalls Kratom Due to Salmonella Fears

    I just heard that the FDA recalled something called kratom, but I’m not sure what it is. Is it some kind of food, and why has it been recalled? Mitragyna speciosa, which is commonly known as kratom, is a leafy tree that grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Its leaves are typically processed into a powder form, which is encapsulated and is sold by some companies as a dietary supplement. Because it can be ingested, kratom is categorized as a food product and falls under the oversight of the FDA. The FDA this week used its recall authority to force a Nevada-based company that sells kratom-based products to pull them off the market after several of its products tested positive for Salmonella....
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    April 25 Forum to Focus on Increasing Ohio Farm to School Opportunities

    CINCINNATI – The goal is simple: to get more local foods to more Ohio students in more Ohio schools. The question of how to do so is slightly more complicated. Experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University, in partnership with Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT), will host a preconference policy forum to discuss the issue in advance of the upcoming National Farm to Cafeteria conference April 25-27 at the Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., in Cincinnati. The Ohio Farm to Cafeteria Pre-Conference and Policy Forum is April 25 from 3-8 p.m. at the convention center and will provide an opportunity for Ohio’s Farm to School stakeholders to discuss...
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    Chow Line: No April Fools’ on Easter Food Safety

    I’m making ham for Easter dinner this year, and I’m relatively new to this whole cooking thing. Any tips on how I can do this safely? Easter falls on April Fools’ Day this year. If you want to make sure you don’t prank your guests with a stomachache, there are some food safety rules you can follow to ensure a safe, delicious meal. Because ham is one of the traditional meats served at Easter, let’s start there. Ham, which is the leg of pork, can be fresh, cured, or cured-and-smoked. Fresh ham bears the label "fresh," which is an indication that the product is not cured, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Curing is the process of adding salt, sodium or potassium nitrate, nitrites, and sometimes sugar, seasonings, phosphates, and...
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    News Tips and Events for the Week of March 26

    Tip 1: Americans Projected to Eat More Protein this Year. A Boost for Livestock Producers? The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that consumers will eat 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018, more than ever before. The closest consumers came to consuming this amount was back in 2004, the government agency said. Thanks in part to more Americans choosing to reduce the amount of carbohydrates from their eating habits in favor of plans such as the Keto Diet or the Atkins Diet, the demand for protein is higher than ever, according to USDA’s January 2018 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. Domestic beef and poultry production is also forecast to surpass 100 billion pounds this year, USDA says. John Grimes, beef coordinator for Ohio State University Extension and a member of the...
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    Chow Line: Binge Drinking — How Much Is Too Much?

    My friends and I go to happy hour after work sometimes for a drink. But one of my friends doesn’t stop at one or two drinks, instead sometimes having three or four drinks. Is that considered binge drinking? That depends on if your friend is a man or a woman. (Either way, they shouldn’t drive afterward.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours. A binge drinker is someone who experiences at least one binge-drinking episode during a 30-day period. A standard alcoholic drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, which is typically about 5 percent alcohol; 5 ounces of wine, which is typically 12 percent alcohol; or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, which is...
  9. Digging for broadband. Photo: Thinkstock

    CFAES Report Focuses on Ways to Increase Rural Access to Broadband Internet in Ohio

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the majority of Ohioans have access to fast, reliable broadband internet service in their homes, some 1 million others don’t, says an analyst with the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at The Ohio State University. “This unserved population largely lives in less populated rural regions of the state where it is prohibitively expensive for internet service providers to extend service,” according to Mark Partridge, chair of the Swank program and professor in Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. The Swank program, housed in the department, conducts research, teaching and outreach within CFAES. A recent report released by researchers with the Swank program says there is a...
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    Chow Line: Why Is Corned Beef Pink?

    Since corned beef is pink, how do you know if it’s fully cooked? And why is it pink anyway? Corned beef is a brined, tougher cut of meat that can be either the brisket, rump or round that many Americans traditionally like to eat on St. Patrick’s Day along with cabbage. Corned beef got its name from the corning or curing process that was historically used to preserve meat before modern refrigeration. The beef cuts were dry-cured in coarse pellets of salt that were typically the size of a kernel of corn. The pellets were rubbed into the meat to keep it from spoiling. Hence the name “corned” beef. Today’s corned beef is now brined or cured using a salt water or sodium nitrite mixture, which fixes the pigment in the meat and causes it to be pink in color...
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    Chow Line: Wash Your Hands When Using Your Smartphone or Tablet While Cooking

    I often watch video recipes on my smartphone while cooking. I always wash my hands before I start cooking, but it’s never occurred to me to wash them again each time I touch my phone. Can that make me sick? YES! I don’t want to totally gross you out, but the average smartphone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. In fact, the average person touches their smartphone 2,617 times a day, according to a study by dscout, a Chicago-based research firm. Because people often take their phones with them everywhere, including into the potty, various microbes are transferred when the phones are touched. Some of those microbes can survive for up to 16 months, according to research published in 2006 in BMC Infectious Diseases. Research has also shown that smartphones and...
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    Chow Line: How to Get Kids to Adopt Healthier Eating Habits

    I saw a recent report that says that childhood obesity is still on the rise, and that has me really worried. What can I do to help my child eat healthier? You are right. According to a new report released this week, the number of children in the United States between the ages of 2 to 19 who are obese reached 18.5 percent in 2015 and 2016. That’s an increase from 14 percent in 1999, according to the study that appears in the February issue of the Pediatrics journal. Researchers studied data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination survey to come up with their findings. They also found that the percentage of children ages 2 to 5 who are obese hit nearly 14 percent during the same time period. That’s an increase...
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    Revised Phosphorus Index Can Help Curb Agricultural Runoff

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio farmers will soon have access to a newly revised tool that can quickly and easily tell them their risk of agricultural phosphorus runoff that could potentially move into Ohio waterways such as Lake Erie. All with the help of an online program. The revised Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index is a program developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service to help farmers assess their risk of phosphorus moving off farm fields. It will soon allow farmers to input their farm-specific data to generate their risk of phosphorus in agricultural runoff. The revised index is the result of the multiyear On-Field Ohio project led by Elizabeth (Libby) Dayton, a researcher in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental...
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    Combating Ohio's Opioid Crisis

    Opioids killed 4,050 Ohioans in 2016, ranking Ohio No. 1 in the nation in terms of opioid-related overdose deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health. That’s a 33 percent increase from 2015. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences is hitting the problem head on, with efforts designed to combat Ohio’s opioid crisis underway in all 88 Ohio counties through its Ohio State University Extension offices, which is the outreach arm of CFAES. From first aid training for OSU Extension employees — to learn to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance/opioid abuse — to working with 4-H youths to empower them to speak out against opioids, CFAES is working to fulfill its land-grant mission. Mental health...
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    Chow Line: Healthy Eating on a Budget

    So I’ve been trying to stick to my New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, but I’m finding that’s its been pretty expensive to do so far. Do you have any tips on how I can eat right, but on a budget? I’m glad to see that you’ve made moves to eat healthier and are adhering to your healthy resolutions. And while many people may think that eating healthy means a hefty, expensive grocery bill, that’s not always the case. In fact, it costs less than $2 more per day per person to eat healthier, according to a 2013 study by the Harvard University School of Public Health. The study found that by swapping out some less expensive, and less healthy foods, for fresher and more nutritious ones added up to only about $1.50 more per day. Getting the...
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    Chow Line: Food Safety Hotline Provides Answers to Consumers’ Food Questions

    There seems to be a lot of information on food safety issues online. But I’m wondering, is there somewhere or someone I can call for help when I have questions about food safety? You can call 1-800-752-2751 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and a food safety expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University will likely have the answers to your food safety questions. Created in 1985 by the CFAES Food Industries Center as a service to support the needs of Ohio-based food processors, the Food Safety Hotline is now a consumer resource for any popular food issue, according to Heather Dean, who serves as the hotline’s coordinator. The hotline is now accessible by consumers nationwide, thanks to a...
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    Chow Line: Are You Eating Out for Valentine’s Day?

    With all the recent media reports of foodborne illness caused by eating at some restaurants, how can I know if the place I take my sweetie this year for Valentine’s Day won’t make us sick later? Good question! With nearly 30 percent of consumers planning to dine out on Valentine’s Day this year, according to the National Restaurant Association, it’s good to know that health officials inspect these places to make sure they prepare food safely. Local public health departments routinely inspect food establishments to ensure that they follow safe food handling procedures. Generally, inspectors check the restaurants to make sure that certain safeguards are being followed to prevent food contamination. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, consumers can easily...
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    Ohio State Researchers: Milk Date Labels Contribute to Food Waste

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Got milk? If so, you may be among the majority of consumers who throw that milk out once the date on the carton or jug label has passed. But Ohio State University researchers say not so fast — that pasteurized milk is still good to drink past its sell-by date. Scientists in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) say that arbitrary date labels on food contribute to significant food waste because the date labels serve only as an indicator of shelf life, which relates more to food quality than safety. Brian Roe, a CFAES professor of agricultural economics, co-authored a new study examining consumer behavior regarding date labeling on milk containers. The goal of the research is to help consumers reduce food waste through...
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    Chow Line: Foods to Stock up Ahead of Snowstorms

    It seems like every time the weather forecast calls for snow, sleet or ice, the grocery store aisles empty of bread and milk. But I’m wondering, what are some foods I should keep on hand if I think I’ll be snowbound for a few days? You are right – generally speaking. Bread and milk are typically the first items that many people stock up on when a winter weather emergency is forecast While there are several theories as to why many people hoard bread and milk in anticipation of winter storms, the meteorologists at AccuWeather.com attribute the trend to the record-breaking Blizzard of 1978, when New Englanders were trapped in their homes for several weeks and the items that were most purchased prior to the storm were, you guessed it, bread and milk. However, if you...
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    Chow Line: Raw or Lightly Cooked Sprouts not Safe to Eat for Certain Populations

    I went to a hibachi grill last weekend and I really wanted to eat the sprouts, but my husband was adamant that I not eat them because I’m pregnant. Who was right – him or me? Technically, you both were right – it really depends on whether the sprouts were fully cooked or not. Raw or undercooked sprouts pose a risk of foodborne infection because, unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. Bacteria that can make you sick, including Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli thrive in such warm and humid conditions. As such, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises children, elderly people, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system to not eat any raw or lightly cooked sprouts at all. That includes alfalfa...
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    Chow Line: “Raw” Water Trend Can Make You Sick

    I’ve heard about a new trend that involves drinking “raw water.” What is it, and is it good for me? In a word, no. “Raw” or “live” water is not treated to remove or reduce minerals, ions, particulate, or, importantly, potential pathogenic bacteria and parasites. Raw water is found in rivers and natural springs, and is being sold at premium prices by some companies, according to published reports. According to those recent published reports, selling raw water is part of a natural foods or health trend. The idea is that because this water still retains its natural mineral concentration, comes directly from earth springs, is unfiltered, and is untreated with chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride, it is a healthy alternative....
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    April Conference Promotes Efforts to Bring Healthy Local Food to More Cafeterias

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State University Extension will serve as the local host for the National Farm to Cafeteria conference in Cincinnati April 25-27. The conference is designed for school districts looking to start or expand a Farm to School program, consumers who want to learn more about local food opportunities, as well as farmers and producers looking for ways to sell fresh, local foods to schools and other institutional cafeterias. The conference is expected to draw more than 1,000 farmers, producers, educators, school food service professionals, parents, business leaders and OSU Extension experts. It is part of an effort to get more fresh, locally grown and produced foods into more school cafeterias and increase farmers’ economic opportunities, said Carol Smathers, an...
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    Chow Line: Leafy Greens Suspected in Latest E. coli Food Poisoning Cases

    I’m confused about the recent reports regarding leafy greens such as romaine lettuce. How is it that leafy greens can cause a foodborne illness? Well, it is not the leafy greens themselves making people sick, but rather that they are the suspected source of pathogenic E. coli that has sickened some 58 people in Canada. Several people in the United States have also become ill from a strain of E. coli that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is closely related genetically to the strain that caused the outbreak in Canada. In fact, 24 such illnesses have been reported in 15 states, including Ohio, between Nov. 15 and Dec. 12, 2017, the CDC said this week. The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, the CDC said, noting that...
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    Holiday Gatherings Can be Fun and Healthy

    I’ve been watching my diet this year and eating better. But with the holidays in full swing, I’m worried about derailing all of my hard work. What can I do to stay healthy during the holidays and still have fun? While holiday celebrations are traditionally associated with rich, decadent foods, you can still enjoy holiday get-togethers without breaking from your commitment to have healthy eating habits. It just takes a little planning. For example, if you are attending a holiday party that involves food, eat a small, healthy meal beforehand. This will help you feel more satisfied and make you less likely to overeat. And when you get to the party, start with the vegetables as a way to satiate your hunger, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, trade...
  25. Dec. 24 is National Eggnog Day. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Eggnog Safe to Drink if Pasteurized or Cooked

    I really love to drink eggnog this time of year. But as I learn more about raw eggs and their link to Salmonella, I’m worried. Is it safe to drink eggnog? Eggnog is a favorite holiday drink for many people, but because it is sometimes made with raw eggs, you should be aware of the risks and ways to improve the food safety of what you are drinking. This is especially true if you have a weakened immune system or are a young child, a pregnant woman or an older adult. Eggnog is a popular sweetened dairy-based drink that is traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped eggs and spices. According to a 2007 report from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, consumers drink some 122 million pounds of eggnog, with peak sales occurring the week before Thanksgiving,...

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