Tracy Turner

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

    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...
  12. 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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    Chow Line: Holiday Potluck Food Safety Tips

    My office is having a holiday potluck next week – do you have any tips to make sure I don’t do anything that will make my co-workers sick from eating my food? It’s the holiday season and in offices across the country, coworkers are gathering together to celebrate. With that in mind, it’s a good thing that you want to take extra precautions to make sure that your world-famous seven-layer guacamole and cheese dip that you bring in to share with your office mates won’t send them home sick. The best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to adhere to good food safety guidelines. In fact, it’s a good idea to adhere to good food safety guidelines anytime you prepare food – whether it’s a small dish just for yourself or a meal you...
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    Chow Line: You’re Likely Not Eating Enough Fruits and Veggies

    I want to eat healthier, but I’m not sure what that really means in terms of fruit and vegetable intake. I usually eat at least an apple, banana or some carrots every day at lunch. Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables? While it’s wonderful that you are eating some fruit and vegetables every day, the amount that you are eating isn’t enough for you to meet the recommended daily amount of produce. Adults should eat 1.5 to two cups of fruit per day and two to three cups of vegetables per day, according to the latest recommendations from the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That should include a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups, such as starchy, dark greens, red and orange, beans and peas, as well as whole fruits. However, you aren...
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    Chow Line: Thanksgiving Leftovers Stored in the Fridge Safe to Eat until Tuesday

    So we’ve got a lot of food leftover from yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast. How long can we safely eat them? I’m happy to tell you that you can eat turkey sandwiches, turkey casserole, turkey omelets, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey salad, turkey quesadillas, turkey tetrazzini and many other fun, tasty turkey-based dishes safely for up to four days after the big meal if you stored your leftover turkey in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking. And, if you choose to store the leftover turkey in the freezer, you can feast on that turkey, well, forever. While the taste and texture of the frozen meat will decline after about four months, turkey that is correctly prepped for frozen storage is safe to eat indefinitely, says the Food Safety and Inspection Service...
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    Chow Line: Don’t Stuff the Bird

    My mom and grandma have always cooked the stuffing in the turkey each Thanksgiving. But now, I hear that practice should be avoided – why is that? Despite long held traditions in many families, it’s best not to cook your stuffing inside your turkey. This is because uncooked poultry can harbor bacterial pathogens, which can be present both on the inside and outside of a raw turkey. And the only way to destroy this potentially dangerous bacterium is to cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, using a digital tip-sensitive meat thermometer to ensure that the bird has reached this temperature. If you want to use a dial thermometer, it is important to calibrate it first, said Barbara Kowalcyk, an assistant professor in Food Science and...
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    Chow Line: Talkin’ Turkey: Three Ways to Safely Thaw and Cook Frozen Turkey

    It’s my first time hosting Thanksgiving, but I’m not sure when I should start thawing the turkey or even how to thaw it – what do I do? If you are planning to cook a frozen turkey this year for the Thanksgiving holiday, you need to make sure that you thaw and cook it safely to help your guests avoid developing foodborne illnesses. There are three safe ways to thaw a frozen turkey: in the refrigerator, in a container of cold water, or in a microwave, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. Following safe thawing methods for turkey is necessary to prevent the potential growth of bacterial pathogens that may have been present on the bird before it was frozen, USDA says. And while there are three ways to safely thaw...
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    4-H Forum at Ohio State Offers Teens Safe Place to Talk About Opioid Crisis, Learn Prevention Strategies

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s in their schools, their communities, and in many cases, their homes. But for many young people, the answer of what to do about Ohio’s opioid crisis isn’t clear. “A lot of young people are concerned about the issue but aren’t sure what steps they can take to be part of the solution or to make sure they don’t become part of the problem,” said Theresa Ferrari, a 4-H youth development specialist with Ohio State University Extension. “Most teens know the issue is going on: They know if kids in their schools are doing drugs.” Teens often wonder: “Who do I talk to about opioids? How do I bring the conversation up? How do I prevent myself and others around me from using opioids?” Those are just...
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    Chow Line: Careful: Some of that Halloween Candy Haul Can Send Some Folks to the Hospital

    Can eating too much black licorice really cause heart problems? In some cases, for some people, yes. Halloween may be over, but some of the candy gathered during trick or treat could still land some people in the hospital. That’s according to a warning this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that says that people over 40 who eat 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could experience an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia that could land them in the hospital. Black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root, FDA says. The problem is that glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall, causing some people to experience abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling,...
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    Chow Line: Safe Halloween Treats Without the Scary Tricks

    Trick or treat is next week and this is the first year my little guy is old enough to go out candy gathering. What can I do to make sure he is safe, but also has a good time trick-or-treating? In terms of food safety, parents can use a few quick checks to evaluate if treats contain allergens relevant to their child, if the product’s package integrity has been tampered with, or if a treat represents a choking hazard based on the child’s age. The first thing you can do is make sure your kiddo understands that he is not to eat any candy or other treats that he bags during trick-or-treat until after you have had a chance to inspect those goodies at home. One good way to inspect the candy is to take a close look at the candy under a bright light, paying close attention to...
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    Ohio State Experts: Increased Access to Treatment, Improving Economic Opportunity Are Keys to Combating Ohio’s Opioid Crisis

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – One effective way to combat Ohio’s growing opioid crisis is to prioritize treatment in underserved areas across the state because those are among the areas struggling most with opioid abuse, says an analyst with the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at The Ohio State University. “As it now stands, Ohio likely only has the capacity to treat 20 to 40 percent of the estimated 92,000 to 170,000 Ohioans who are abusing or dependent on opioids,” said Mark Partridge, chair 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 the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences....
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    Chow Line: Website Offers Nutritional Tips, Tactics for Food Savings

    I have a limited budget to spend on food, but I want to make sure my family is eating healthy. What are some tips to help me incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my grocery haul while staying within my budget? Eating healthy and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake doesn’t have to be expensive. Planning ahead for your grocery spending can allow you to make healthy food choices that won’t cause sticker shock to your family’s food budget. One of the best ways to stick to a budget is to take inventory in your kitchen of the items that are needed for the week or the month and make a list of the foods you plan to purchase before you get to the grocery store. And once you are at the store, stick to your grocery list, bypassing the urge to buy any tempting...
  23. Known as the official state apple of Ohio, the Melrose apple tends to be large with good flavor and texture. Photo: Ohio State University.

    Chow Line: Apples – To Peel or Not to Peel?

    My little boy loves apples, but he refuses to eat them unless they are skinned and cut into little pieces. Is he still getting the same nutrition as eating them with the peel? Take heart – apples are not only delicious, they’re a healthy, nutritious, low calorie part of a balanced diet. So the fact that your son enjoys eating apples is wonderful. However, if you could find a way to incorporate the apple skin into his apple slices, your son would get the additional nutritional benefits derived from eating the apple peel. That’s because the skin of the apple is where most of the fiber and other nutrients are found. In fact, a medium unpeeled apple has nearly twice the fiber, 40 percent more vitamin A and 25 percent more potassium than a peeled apple, according to...
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    Workshop Designed to Teach Women Landowners Negotiation Skills

    COSHOCTON, Ohio – Women landowners and tenants can learn the art of negotiation, drawing up lease contracts and other facets of land-lease agreements during a workshop offered by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. The Ladies on the Land workshop is Oct. 20 from noon to 4:30 p.m. and will be held simultaneously in two locations: at the Frontier Power Community Room, 770 South 2nd St. in Coshocton; and at the Putnam County Extension Office, 1206 East 2nd St., in Ottawa. The event is targeted toward female landowners and renters, said Emily Adams, an Ohio State University Extension educator and co-organizer of the event. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of CFAES. The goal of the workshop, she said, is to provide women...
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    Chow Line: Consuming Placenta After Birth Not Recommended for New Moms

    I’ve heard that consuming your placenta after giving birth can help new mothers with postpartum depression and ease pain. Is that true? The placenta is an organ that connects a developing fetus to the mother’s uterine wall. It transports oxygen and other nutrients for fetal growth and filters toxins harmful to the developing baby. It is dispelled from the woman’s body after birth. The practice of eating the placenta – which is typically eaten raw, cooked, drank in smoothies, or dehydrated into a capsule form – after birth has grown in popularity among some mothers who say that it improves breast milk supply, reduces postpartum bleeding, and prevents postpartum depression, among other advantages. However, in a study published Aug. 28 in the American...

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