Reuasable shopping bags and risk ranking

Senator Chuck ‘Chuckles’ Schumer, a New York Democrat, sent a letter on Sunday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to investigate the issue of lead in those trendy reusable shopping bags – available for sale at most retailers.

I’m sure the Senate has other food-related matters it could be dealing with; I’m sure the FDA has some things to do; and I never understood why a consumer had to buy a new plastic container to recycle or compost, or a lead-lined bag to go shopping.

Everyone’s got priorities. And someone’s making a buck off it.

So as Chapman has written, the lead stuff isn’t much of a food safety priority.

Risk rankings are risky because inevitably, someone will get pissed.

But, as noted in the N.Y. Times on Sunday, “there is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public, and none of the bags sold by New York City’s best-known grocery stores have been implicated.”

USA Today today reported that Publix Super Markets and Winn-Dixie are asking suppliers to make reusable bags with less lead, according to Schumer. Wegmans Food Market in September said it was halting sales of some bags.

“They say plastic bags are bad; now they say these are bad. What’s worse?” asked Jen Bluestein, who was walking out of Trader Joe’s on the Upper West Side with a reusable bag under her arm on Sunday.

“Green is a trend and people go with trends,” Ms. Bluestein said. “People get them as fashion statements and they have, like, 50 of them. I don’t think people know the real facts.”

Whose facts are real?

Catherine Paykin, standing by the meat counter at Fairway said,

“I wasn’t planning on throwing it out, so that’s a positive thing. As long as I use it and don’t throw it away, that will be my plan.”

Sure, but wash it now and then. And if buying meat, wrap it in plastic and throw the plastic bag out.

Plastic wrap, food poisoning for Ramsay diner

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s five star Claridge’s Hotel in London allegedly served up a meal containing cling film – which is apparently British for plastic wrap – to Noelie Kline, who apparently is some sort of U.K. reality TV regular.

Ms Klineberg says she believes she had suffered food poisoning and has reported the matter to Westminster Council’s environmental health officers.

"It’s all very well Gordon Ramsay going off to America to sort out restaurants but he ought to get his own house in order first."


ROB MANCINI: Cutting boards: sanitary or not?

In my kitchen, I prefer a solid, hardwood type of cutting board. This board would be used for preparation of meat or poultry while a separate cutting board — usually glass — would be used for cutting of veggies and fruit. The use of two cutting boards will significantly reduce the chances of cross contamination.

However, whenever I use a wooden or plastic cutting board, I pay close attention to the number of grooves I’ve placed in the board from years of chopping and cutting with my heavy hand. It is  difficult to effectively clean and  sanitize such a board and bacteria could be left behind that tend to hide in these cuts.

I analyzed a number of cutting boards (wooden and plastic) during the TV show, Kitchen Crimes, and often found high bacterial counts, including fecal coliform bacteria (1000cfu/gm). Once a board has a number of good slashes, maybe it is time to either refinish or replace the board to reduce microbial lingering and contamination. Always store wooden cutting boards in a dry location to avoid excessive moisture; bacteria like moisture.