Tracy Turner

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

    Chow line: Two Cutting Boards are Better Than One

    I’m getting my own apartment soon and I’m shopping for a cutting board – should I get a wooden or plastic one? Congrats on your new home! When shopping for a new cutting board, there are many options to choose from, including wood, plastic, marble, glass or pyroceramic. While each one has its advantages and disadvantages, the easiest one to clean and keep clean, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a cutting board that has a nonporous surface. That’s the most important thing to consider when buying and using a cutting board – how to keep it clean to decrease the risk of contamination of pathogens that can cause a foodborne illness. So when choosing a cutting board, you should look for one that is easy to clean, rinse and sanitize....
  2. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Back-to-School? Food Safety Tips for Packed Lunches

    My kids are starting back to school next week, and this year they are packing their lunch for the first time. Any tips on what I need to do to make sure their packed lunch is safe and healthy? Wow – is it that time of year already? If your child wants to bring a packed lunch to school, there are several ways to make sure their lunch is both healthy and safe from pathogens that could cause a foodborne illness. This is an important distinction to make, as children are among the most vulnerable to food poisoning. That’s partly due to the fact that their immune systems are not as effective at fighting off bacteria and viruses compared to those of adults, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When packing a lunch for your child to take to school, it’...
  3. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Simple Suppers Make Mealtimes Fun and Easy for Families, Kids

    I’m a mom of twin preschoolers and want to make sure that I teach them healthy eating habits at an early age. How I can do that and stay within a modest food budget? It’s wonderful that you want to establish healthy eating habits in your children starting when they are young. Research has shown that ensuring good nutritional habits, particularly early on, can help prevent childhood obesity and other chronic diseases. In addition to having a healthy weight, establishing healthy eating habits in children can help them have more energy and happier moods, and also can help them have those habits for the rest of their lives, experts say. One way to help instill better eating habits in your children is to take advantage of great programs out there like Simple Suppers....
  4. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Summer a Good Time for Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Other In-Season Produce

    I know that summer is a great time to get fresh sweet corn and juicy watermelons, but what else is in season now? 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. As mentioned in a previous “Chow Line,” improved technology and agricultural innovations mean that consumers can access fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. But because fruits and vegetables naturally grow in cycles and ripen during a certain season, produce typically is fresher and...
  5. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Yes, Nonperishable Foods can Become Contaminated With Pathogens That cause Foodborne Illnesses

    I never knew that nonperishable foods like breakfast cereal can become contaminated with salmonella – how is that possible? While many people are aware that fresh produce and raw meat can become contaminated with pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses, fewer people think about nonperishable foods like breakfast cereal becoming contaminated with the same kind of pathogens. Such is the case in the recent outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka that has been traced back to a popular sweetened puffed wheat breakfast cereal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning last week advising consumers “do not eat any Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal because it has been linked to a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections.” As of July 12, the CDC said...
  6. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: BBQ Safely: Be Careful when Using Steel Grill Brushes

    I clean my grill each time after I cook on it, using a steel wire grill brush to keep the grease and grime from building up on the grill racks. I’ve used the same brush for a couple of years now because I love how it cleans, but I’m wondering if I should get a new one this year.   That depends on just 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 may 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 end up in the meat or vegetables that you are grilling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been several...
  7. Project investigation team meeting at the Advanced Technology Pilot Plant in CFAES’ Parker Food Science and Technology Building. From right to left: Professor V.M. “Bala” Balasubramaniam, PBI Senior Vice President Edmund Ting, Professor Ahmed Yousef, Professor Rafael Jimenez-Flores, and Professor Christopher Simons. Photo: CFAES.

    Ohio State Scientists Studying Healthier Food and Beverage Processing Options

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – While more consumers want healthier beverage options, they’re also concerned about the safety of how those beverages are preserved. Health-conscious consumers want great tasting, healthy drinks that don’t include chemical additives and preservatives with names they can’t pronounce. Researchers in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University are seeking to remedy that issue. A team of CFAES scientists has been awarded a four-year, $891,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop an innovative manufacturing technology that will preserve food and beverages using wholesome, recognizable ingredients, no artificial...
  8. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: USDA Warns: Wash Your Hands Properly to Prevent Foodborne Illness

    My husband gets frustrated with me because I’m always reminding him to wash his hands multiple times when cooking. He says washing before he cooks is enough.  Which one of us is right?   In this case, you are right. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture just sent out a warning last week urging people to wash their hands throughout the food preparation process, not just at the beginning of cooking. And when you wash your hands, the USDA is urging people to take their time and wash their hands properly. This warning comes as a new USDA study in collaboration with North Carolina State University and RTI International, a North Carolina-based nonprofit research institute, found that people are failing to properly wash their hands 97 percent of the time when...
  9. Marcie Todd, owner of Freshtown Farm, an urban agriculture venture on the South Side of Columbus. The farm, located on a plot of land that formerly housed three vacant homes, now grows several varieties of plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Photo: Tracy Turner.

    Ohio State Tour to Highlight Columbus’ Growing Urban Agriculture Industry

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – For Mark VanFleet, down on the farm is actually a formerly vacant lot in a residential neighborhood on the South Side of Columbus. His one-half acre plot grows row upon row of vegetables, including lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, garlic, basil, dill, chard and kale. Known as Harriet Gardens, the lot provides enough for the full-time urban farmer to sell his produce to 15 local restaurants and at least three farmers’ markets. “I never thought I’d grow up to be a farmer – I’d never even gardened until my wife and I bought our house 10 years ago and planted a small plot in the backyard,” VanFleet said recently, as he harvested carrots out of his Merion Village farm. “It’s become my passion and, three...
  10. A bite from a lone star tick can cause meat allergies in some people. Photo: Thinkstock.

    Chow Line: Certain Tick Bites Can Cause Food Allergies

    Can you really develop an allergy to red meat from a tick bite? That depends. In certain cases, with a certain tick, in some people and in some states, including Ohio, yes. According to a recent article about a study on lone star ticks and allergies that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, some people who have been bitten by a lone star tick have gone on to develop an allergy to eating red meat, and in some cases, dairy. The study, done by researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, found that, in rare cases, some people have developed life-threatening allergic reactions to red meat after being bitten by a lone star tick. The study attributes the allergic reaction to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal), which...
  11. Susan Jones, a CFAES entomologist, works to help consumers prevent bedbug infestations

    Summer travelers beware: bedbugs on the rise

    Summer’s here and the time is right for … bedbugs? When you pack your bags for the Fourth of July or other vacations, make sure you don’t bring back bedbugs on your return trip. With the busy summer travel season here, the time is ripe for bedbugs to hitch a ride on your luggage, purse, clothes, and in some cases, even your shoes, said Susan Jones, an entomologist with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. “Even though bedbugs haven’t been in the news as much as they’ve been before, they’re an even bigger problem than they’ve been in the past in Ohio,” she said. “For example, in Franklin County, bedbug treatments performed by licensed pest management...
  12. Photo: Thinkstock

    Tips and Events for the Week of June 25

    Tip 1: Black Bears in Ohio? Several black bears have been spotted across the Buckeye state in recent weeks, including a black bear struck and killed near Interstate 77 in Akron; a black bear spotted in Norton near Interstate 76; a black bear was spotted near a Trumbull County park; and the black bear that was spotted last week in Pike County. Marne Titchenell, a wildlife program specialist with CFAES, can discuss black bears and their sightings in Ohio and what homeowners and landowners can do if they come across one of these animals. Titchenell can be reached at 614-292-0402 or titchenell.4@osu.edu. Tip 2: Ohio does, in fact, have hogweeds: Giant hogweed, the nasty invasive plant that experts discovered for the first time in Virginia recently — has been found in scattered...
  13. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: That Free Food at Work May Significantly Increase Your Caloric Intake

    I’ve noticed that I’ve gained a few extra pounds in the past couple of months. The only things I can think of are the doughnuts and other snacks my coworkers bring to the office. Can those calories really add up that much? They sure can. The next time you reach for that pizza, candy, cookie, doughnut, bagel, cake or other rich, sugary goodies your coworker brought in to the break room or conference room for an office treat, be aware that it may be causing a significant increase in the calories you eat. That’s according to a new study that analyzed data from the U. S. Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey. The survey shows that the foods and beverages many folks get at work are mostly high in sugar and solid fats, resulting in empty...
  14. Maketia Haralson (left) completed a personal finance course offered by Ohio State University Extension, which he said has benefited him, his son Malachi (right) and the rest of their family. Family portrait courtesy of Maketia Haralson.

    Ohio State Program Teaches New Fathers About Personal Finance

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – He started the financial literacy program simply because he wanted to learn how to manage his money better. What Maketia Haralson gained from the Ohio State University Extension New Beginnings/New Fatherhood program instead was a deeper understanding of how to better manage his life. The single father of a teenage son had recently lost his job and was soon to start another. But he was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and wanted to learn ways to manage his budget so that there would still be money left at the end of the month. After completing the program, Haralson said he’s learned to comparison shop, pay bills on time, negotiate prices and how to “watch my money, down to the last penny.” “I’m now smarter about how...
  15. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Pre-cut Melons Tied to Multistate Salmonella Outbreak

    I just heard a report that a brand of pre-cut melons was tied to a salmonella outbreak recently. How is that possible? You are right: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week warned about a multistate outbreak of salmonella associated with some pre-cut melons produced by a food distributor based in Indianapolis. The warning was about fresh, pre-cut melons including watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons. The food items were produced at Caito Foods facility in Indiana and were distributed to Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and North Carolina, CDC said. The “recalled products were sold in clear, plastic clamshell containers at Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless,...
  16. A camper practices his rock climbing skills at the Ohio 4-H Military Camp. Photo: Mitch Moser, CFAES.

    Ohio 4-H offers Summer Camps that Meet Many Needs, Interests

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Have a child who might enjoy snorkeling Lake Erie shipwrecks? Maybe your kid is fascinated by space and aerodynamics? Does your youngster want to spend time honing leadership skills? The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University (CFAES) has got a camp for all of that -- and much more. Thousands of youths across the state will participate in Ohio 4-H camps that are now or will soon be in session. Ohio 4-H, the youth development program of Ohio State University Extension, which is the outreach arm of CFAES, offers or sponsors the camps in all 88 of Ohio’s counties, said Hannah Epley, an OSU Extension 4-H camping specialist.  Last year, 17,213 youth participated in 4-H youth camping programs, Epley...
  17. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Don’t Drink the Pool Water!

    I tell my youngest son not to swallow water from the pool every time we go swimming. While I know that it’s gross, can it also make him sick?   Yes, it can. While most people assume that water that has been chlorinated is safe, there are some parasites and organisms that can live up to 7 days in a chlorinated pool, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlorination is a process in which water is treated with chemicals to kill organisms that may cause illnesses. However, the procedure is far from a guarantee. “Pathogens able to evade chlorine inactivation have become leading outbreak etiologies,” CDC said in a written statement. “Pool chemicals don’t work right away; even properly treated pool water can spread germs....
  18. Image of a tapeworm in a person's intestine. Tapeworms are a species of parasitic flatworms Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Precautions Can Lessen Your Chance of Developing Tapeworms

    I just heard about an athlete who developed a tapeworm infection from eating raw fish. How is that possible? It actually is possible to develop a fish tapeworm infection after eating raw or undercooked fish that is contaminated with the parasite Diphyllobothrium latum. In the case you mention, it was reported that a 20-year-old Ohio hockey player, who was suffering from mysterious fatigue and weight loss, went to the bathroom and saw that he had passed a 25-inch tapeworm. So, what are tapeworms and how can one get such an infection? Tapeworms are flat, segmented parasitic worms that can live in the intestines of some animals that have become infected from eating or drinking a food or water source contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae, according to the Centers for Disease...
  19. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Grilling, Smoking, or Barbecuing: Is there a difference?

    What is the difference between smoking, grilling, and barbecuing beef? And which cuts are good for grilling, smoking, and barbecuing?   With Memorial Day this weekend, now is a good time to know the difference between smoking, grilling, and barbecuing beef. Memorial Day is the second-most popular grilling holiday of the year, according to a survey from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, with some 58 percent of consumers planning to light up the grill Monday. And, seven in 10 U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, the group said. With that in mind, it’s good to know the difference between smoking, grilling, and barbecuing. Smoking is the process of combusting wood chips, chunks, or logs to generate smoke, which contributes to the complexity of flavor and color...
  20. Photo: Thinkstock

    Youths Fight Opioid Epidemic

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – It started as a simple plea from one teen to another, then another, and another, and then to many others. Do you have a stuffed animal that you could donate? It doesn’t have to be brand new – just one that you’re willing to give to help a child in need of comfort and support. The toys will be donated to local police stations so that officers can keep them in the back of their squad cars and could give them to a child when they arrive at the scene of a drug overdose and there are children there that may have witnessed the event. This was the message from Callia Barwick, a 4-H member from Mahoning County, who organized a toy drive earlier this year as part of her work as a 4-H Health Hero. The program is offered by Ohio 4-H, the youth...
  21. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Eggs Over Easy Not Recommended

    I love eggs over easy for breakfast, but lately, I’m hesitant to order my eggs that way because of mixed messages I’ve heard about eggs and a recall. Can you tell me what’s going on and about the risk of eating my eggs with a runny yolk? While many people enjoy their eggs over easy, an egg that’s fried just until the whites are set on the bottom and then flipped over and lightly cooked on the other side, leaving the yolk runny, is not the best choice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Instead, the government agency recommends that eggs be cooked until both the yolk and the white are firm, to help consumers avoid foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella. In fact, the CDC recommends against eating undercooked or raw eggs, due to the increased...
  22. Photo: Thinkstock

    Chow Line: Dark Chocolate Can Be a Healthy Option for Mother’s Day Celebrations

    I want to give my mom a gift for Mother’s Day that she will really like and will be healthy. My sister said we should give her some chocolate, but is that healthy? It can be, depending on the kind of chocolate you choose to get your mom. While it’s known that dark chocolate offers some heart-healthy benefits, a new study out this month says the benefits of dark chocolate in moderation may also include improving your eyesight. Dark chocolate has benefits because of its high levels of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can alter and weaken cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Research has found that flavanols, which are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and...
  23. Pictured: a deer tick crawling on a penny. Photo: Glen Needham

    Tick Season Has Officially Started in Ohio, Increasing the Risk of Lyme Disease

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – The weather’s finally warm, the sun is out, and now, so are the ticks. And this year, tick season in Ohio is expected to be pretty bad, says Glen Needham, a retired entomologist and tick expert formerly with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. Already, Needham has collected the first blacklegged or deer tick nymph of the season in Coshocton County, and he said that this is just the beginning of what people can expect to see as tick season ramps up. “With the extended winter cold we’ve experienced this year and the slower to develop spring weather, you can expect to see a lot of ticks starting to come out all at once,...
  24. Various flavors of liquid nicotine for use in electronic cigarettes. Photo: Thinkstock.

    Chow Line: FDA Warns Adults to Keep Kids Away from Liquid Nicotine

    My son found an e-cigarette strawberry flavored nicotine pack and almost drank it thinking that it was some kind of candy. Luckily I stopped him in time, but are these products safe for kids? No. As e-cigarettes have become more popular, the number of children who have been exposed to liquid nicotine has also increased. So says the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, which this week warned parents, caregivers and other adults to be vigilant to keep kids from getting their hands on these packs of liquid nicotine and drinking them. The new warning comes as data from the National Poison Data System shows that from January 2012 to April 2017, the agency received 8,269 calls related to liquid nicotine exposure in children younger than 6, mostly in regard to children drinking these...
  25. Edible flowers such as nasturtium are a good option for an edible landscape. Considering that today is Arbor Day (April 27), why not mark the occasion by planning and then planting an edible landscape?

    Chow Line: Spring Planting Urban Landscapes You Can Eat

    My neighbor said she wants to plant edible landscaping this year to spruce up her front yard, but I’ve never heard of doing that. Is it true you can eat your landscape bushes? Yes, but it depends on what bushes you are talking about! It seems that your neighbor is embracing a growing trend in gardening that allows people to both beautify their homes and grow delicious, healthy foods. Edible landscaping involves growing food-producing plants in residential landscapes. Designs can include berry bushes, fruit and nut trees, edible flowers, fruiting vines, vegetables, and herbs. “People have a renewed interest in growing plants that not only look nice but also can be used for food,” said Paul Snyder, program coordinator with Secrest Arboretum at the Ohio...

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