Idaho health officials urge consumers to avoid eating soy nut butters and granola linked to E. coli illnesses as recall expands

Sixteen people in nine states, including Washington and Oregon, have become seriously ill after eating a soy nut butter product linked to a nationwide illness outbreak and food recall. To date, no illnesses linked to the outbreak have been reported in Idaho, but Idaho health officials are urging Idahoans to double-check their cupboards for I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter and other related products recalled after people who ate them became ill. These products may have been purchased in grocery stores in Idaho or on the Internet and distributed to schools, childcare centers, and other institutions.

State health departments, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are investigating an ongoing outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 illnesses reported from several states.

Any variety or size of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter, I.M. Healthy Granola, or Dixie Diner’s Club Carb Not Beanit Butter should not be served or eaten, regardless of the date of purchase or the date listed on the container.  Continue reading

How to keep your party guests healthy over the holidays

Holiday parties will offer a tempting array of goodies this winter, but it’s important to remember the basic food safety rules, both as a guest and as a host. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans (or about 48 million) get sick each year from contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reducing that number by just 10 percent would keep nearly 5 million people from getting sick each year.

What is the most common cause of food poisoning?

There are more than 250 agents that can cause foodborne disease including viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, and foreign objects. Norovirus is the most common virus to cause food poisoning, while Salmonella is the most common and deadliest bacterial cause. E. coli, campylobacter, shigella, and listeria are also fairly common causes.

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Tips for safely canning your garden harvest and avoiding botulism

Canning your garden harvest is a great way to preserve it and share it with family and friends, but it can be risky if it’s not done correctly. I know it’s early yet, but harvest time will be here before we know it, and it’s important to be knowledgeable about proper canning techniques so you can make sure your home-canned vegetables aren’t contaminated by the germ that causes botulism.

What is botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a bacteria that produces powerful toxins that can lead to serious illness, including paralysis, and even death. The bacteria produce hardy spores that can survive in soil. Fruits, meats, fish, and vegetables could be contaminated with the bacterial spores before canning. The spores can survive, grow as bacteria, and produce toxins in improperly canned jars of food. It can be deadly to take even a small taste of food that has this toxin in it.  Continue reading

Tips for staying healthy at the fair this summer

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of segment that aired this morning, July 5.) 

Idaho fairs and festivals are starting across the state, which is exciting because they offer some of the best fun of the summer! But they also offer up some health challenges, which we hope you’ll keep in mind when you and your family head off to the fairgrounds. So today we’re going to talk about some things you can do to stay safe and healthy, especially when you’re visiting the animal exhibits or munching on the food.

Let’s start with animal exhibits. What should we know about those?

It’s important to keep in mind that seemingly healthy animals can sometimes carry germs that might make us sick. Small children should be supervised at all times in animal exhibits. They shouldn’t be allowed to put their hands or objects (such as pacifiers) in their mouths after interacting with the animals and before washing up. Simply washing hands as well as anything else that falls on the ground after being in the animal barns or the petting zoo will go a long way toward protecting yourself and your family from diseases spread by animals. You should also be aware that even animals at the fair can bite, kick, and scratch, so approach them with care to avoid getting hurt.  Continue reading

Memorial Day weekend means summer is here! (Yay!) Will you be safe?

As we get ready to hit the road, pack our coolers for picnics and camping trips and generally get ready for the official start to the summer (finally!), we hope you’ll take the time to brush up on some health and safety tips so you and your families have a fun and rewarding summer.

Be safe on roads and highways: Every hour, an average of two traffic accidents happen somewhere in our state, with too many resulting in fatalities. Aggressive driving contributes to almost half of all motor vehicle deaths. From Memorial Day throughout the summer, more vehicles will be traveling Idaho roads, so be patient and don’t take foolish chances to arrive a few minutes early. Other travel safety tips include:

  • Be sure your vehicle is ready for travel. Check the tire air pressure (including the spare tire), along with belts, fluids, and lighting.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Make sure everyone in your car is wearing a seatbelt.
  • Don’t text or talk on a cellphone while you’re driving. Don’t become distracted trying to do other things as you drive. A car traveling at 65 mph covers 95 feet per second. A one-second distraction could result in a serious accident and injuries.
  • Be aware of symptoms of fatigue or “highway hypnosis.” Take a break if you feel drowsy.
  • Take your time and be patient; it’s better to get there in one piece. Allow ample space between your vehicle and others on the road and pay attention to the speed limits and other traffic signs.
  • Don’t drink alcohol and drive.
  • Don’t leave your child or your pet unattended in the car, even for just a few minutes. It can heat up quickly to dangerous temperatures.

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A Closer Look At Your Health: Preventing norovirus

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment that aired April 5.)

This nasty little virus tends to be thought of as a cruise ship illness because outbreaks on ships sound like a terrible vacation — and that’s when the media tends to cover it the most. But for most of us, there’s a better chance of becoming infected in restaurants, long-term care facilities like nursing homes and in other places where people gather and share bathrooms, including day cares, schools, camps, and big events. It’s so highly contagious – a very small amount of the virus can make you sick. It’s estimated that a person will get norovirus five times in their life.

What does norovirus do to us?

It’s not pleasant. Norovirus causes gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. That leads to stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The virus is found in the vomit and stool of infected people. Other symptoms include stomach pain, fever, headache and body aches.  Continue reading

Kuna dairy begins selling raw milk again

Raw milk from a Kuna dairy in southwest Idaho is available again in the Treasure Valley after 13 illnesses were linked to the dairy during October. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture reported no deficits during an inspection of Natural Farm Fresh Dairy on Oct. 27. The Ag Department evaluated the whole process from milking to bottling. Upon passing the inspection, the dairy is now selling its milk in stores again.  Continue reading