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UL Publishes American National Standard for Infrared Thermometers
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) has once again stepped to the forefront in the field of product safety testing and certification by publishing the first American National Standard for Infrared Thermometers, ANSI/UL 2333. The standard, which was two years in development, is intended to promote a level of performance that meets the safety needs of public health officials, and personnel responsible for food quality and safety. “ANSI/UL 2333 provides criteria for the design and production of thermometers that deliver the consistently accurate temperature readings users expect, regardless of brand or model,” explains Tom Blewitt, UL’s manager of Environmental & Public Health Services. Toward this end the standard addresses performance criteria for temperature measurement accuracy under a number of environmental challenges—from the simple effects of dropping, high heat, cold and humidity to the more complex electromagnetic compatibility. It also requires the use of standard markings and detailed instructions intended to educate the user on proper usage of the instrument. For further information on ANSI/UL 2333 log on to UL’s Web site at www.ul.com/eph/irtherm.html.

Plum Smart
According to information coming out of the California Dried Plum Board, studies performed at Kansas State University suggest that dried plum puree and fresh plum juice, when added to ground beef, can suppress the growth of bacteria. Researchers at KSU reportedly found that five days after inoculation with a pathogen, raw beef samples containing plum juice or dried plum puree exhibited significantly fewer microorganisms than control samples. Pathogen suppression occurred with as little as a 3% use rate.

Soy Linked to Breast Cancer
A recently released study out of the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in Urbana, Illinois suggests that soy-rich diets may increase risk of breast cancer in some post-menopausal women. The report, presented at the recent Society for Toxicology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by UI postgraduate student Clinton Allred, focused on the specific effects of genistein, the predominant isoflavone in soy protein, which is estrogenic and thus mimics natural estrogen. According to Allred, the study found that when young women consume significant amounts of soy the food can help protect them against cancer because it aids cell differentiation. However, Allred’s group found that estrogenic chemicals can also stimulate breast cancer cell growth, so that if a post-menopausal woman already is susceptible to breast cancer, eating a large quantity of soy may stimulate the growth of cancerous cells. Genistein, purchased over the counter, is often used as a natural alternative to estrogen replacement therapy.

Brain Food
Andrew Scholey, director of the Human Cognitive Neuroscience unit at the University of Northumbria in England has discovered through tests that mental performance and agility can be enhanced by inhaling pure oxygen or by consuming a high dose of glucose. In recent studies, Scholey gave a group of students 30 grams of glucose and asked them to perform a “serial seven” test, where they had to continually subtract seven from an arbitrary starting figure. Students who took the glucose could do between two and three more calculations per minute than the control group. A similar result was found among students who took a one-minute blast of oxygen immediately before being given a memory test. According to Dr. Scholey, “The types of cognitive function most affected by oxygen and glucose are tasks with a high level of cognitive demand.”

Pre-Slaughter Elimination of Pathogens
Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service’s Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in College Station, Texas, report that sodium chlorate, fed in low doses to pigs and cows before slaughter, can effectively eliminate the pathogens Salmonella Typhimurium and E. coli O157:H7 from the animals’ intestinal tracts. Apparently both pathogens contain the enzyme respiratory nitrate reductase which converts the sodium chlorate to chlorite and kills the harmful bacteria. Beneficial intestinal bacteria lack respiratory nitrate reductase and are unharmed by the added chlorate. Researchers are seeking a cooperative research partner to further develop the work for commercial meat processing.

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