Swine flu? I’ll have the oregano oil?

People will pay to protect themselves — or at least for the positive perception they are protecting themselves. Industry is all too happy to oblige with a variety of products of questionable value.

When faced with outbreaks of foodborne illness on fresh produce, sales of veggie washes go up. Salmonella in the kitchen? Bring on the antibacterial sanitizers. Now with swine flu dominating the headlines, twitterscape and Jon Stewart (see below) USA Today reports today that marketers are out in force — particularly on the Internet — with items ranging from 99-cent face masks to potions such as oregano oil that fetch $70 a bottle to third-party overnight shipments of Tamiflu for $135 per prescription.

Some major marketers are seeing an uptick in sales of items such as masks, latex gloves, anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. Consumer gurus aren’t surprised that so many treatments and protective devices related to swine flu — legitimate or not — are getting plenty of traction from retailers and marketers.

Jerald Jellison, a social psychologist said,

"When we’re faced with a potential threat, we tend to imagine the worst," says. That’s what marketers are capitalizing on. In a state of high need, with our rational powers diminished, we’ll take almost any action.”

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Halloween Infosheet

Today we released a scary infosheet all about chocolaty treats (that may contain nuts) and Salmonella.

Production was halted at Fox’s Confectionary on October 15, 2007 after traces of Salmonella were found in samples of chocolate. The company believes the outbreak originated from a batch of contaminated Brazil nuts, which are used to make one of the brand’s
best known products, Just Brazils.
Last year, candy giant Cadbury Ltd. recalled about one million chocolate bars in Great Britain because of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 37.
Hershey Canada and Kraft Foods Inc have also had recent Salmonella-related recalls.
Chocolate is a great Halloween treat and can harbor Salmonella because of its high fat content.
Nuts and almonds have also been shown to carry Salmonella.

Scary stuff.

Check out the infosheet here.

The crew behind the infosheets are rabid Michael Jackson fans and insisted that we include a picture of Jackson’s thriller on the infosheet.

Infosheets are created weekly by iFSN and are posted in restaurants, retail stores, on farms and used in training throughout the world. If you have any infosheet topic requests, or photos, please contact me at bchapman@uoguelph.ca.

Infosheet archives can be found at foodsafetyinfosheets.ksu.edu.