Posts tagged with "The Huffington Post"

Inspect the paprika before you pour it on: Your spice jars could be colonized by bugs

January 3, 2019

A dash of spice adds life to any meal—but when there is actual living matter in the spice jar, that’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by The Huffington Post, we all should give our spices a close inspection before sprinkling them onto the entrée. They could be totally fine, but they also could be providing a cozy home—and a convenient food source—to a colony of insects.

Many cooks have experienced the utter shock and revulsion of opening a jar—especially a container of paprika—to find it moving. Sometimes the culprits are tiny bugs; others, it’s wee little worms, or even insect eggs.

The HuffPost interviewed Jody. Green, a board-certified entomologist at Purdue University, to find out more. Green said that, although many spices invite insect invasion— including turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel and dry ginger—the creepy crawlies really seem to love spices made of peppers.

″Spices are rich in minerals and vitamins,” she told the online news outlet—and paprika and cayenne have the highest prevalence of insect filth, compared to other imported spices.”

Green noted that insects are “particularly fond of products derived from dried sweet peppers/chiles/red pepper—products like red pepper flakes, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne.” Indeed, she said, “The pepper family appears to contain the nutritional requirements necessary for multiple generations of stored product beetles to successfully sustain life.”

Paprika is especially prone to insect invasion because it is a spice that cooks in the United States don’t use very often. It sits in our spice racks for long periods of time, allowing insects to do their thing, unbothered. Specifically, the most common pests found in spices, particularly paprika and cayenne, are the cigarette beetle and the drugstore beetle.

Green described both of the beetle breeds as reddish-brown and “about the size of a sesame seed.” They’re active fliers, so it’s not uncommon to hear them hitting surfaces in your kitchen, if they escape the spice jar. Green explained that they live in dried tobacco and pharmaceuticals (as their name implies), but also pet food, cereal, spices, and dried fruit.

Sometimes your spices may look like they’re infested with tiny worms, but they actually are the same beetles, just in baby form. “These particular pests … undergo a complete metamorphosis (like a butterfly),” Green told the daily news outlet. “They have an egg, larva, pupa, and [an] adult stage. The worms that [you see in the] spice are the larval form. They are cream-colored, have three pairs of short legs, an orange head capsule, dense hair, and chewing mouthparts.”

Yuck! And since most of the spices consumed in America have been imported, and “it is not rare for imported product to be contaminated with ‘filth’ (i.e. insects parts),” there is every chance a product could have been infested after harvest, but before coming to a store near you.

However, she told The HuffPost, they also can “worm their way in” at the processing plant or in the store. “Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles have been known to penetrate through packaging, tin foil, plastic, and sheet metal.”

To stop bugs from making a meal of your spices, here’s what Green suggested during her interview:

  • Inspect the product at the store. Look for damaged packaging. If the container is transparent, look for larvae and beetles inside.
  • Stick your spices in the freezer for four days (make sure your freezer is set at zero degrees Fahrenheit) before putting them in your spice rack or pantry.
  • If you’ve bought your spice in bulk, keep what you’re saving for future use in the freezer. Before freezing, divide it into glass containers that are airtight.
  • Practice stock rotation using the FIFO (first in, first out) rule. Use your oldest products first, and keep them at the front of your pantry so you’ll be more likely to grab them first. Then move on to newer products, which you keep at the back of the pantry and rotate forward when you’re ready to use them.
  • Clean up any spills in your kitchen as soon as they happen.
  • Commercial pheromone traps are available, but they’re species-specific and may not be good at decreasing the population, as they attract a single sex and the pests may have already mated.

Now go forth and inspect your spices with great trepidation.

esearch contact: jgreen17@unl.edu

A new leash on life: Senior dogs enjoy loving care at Vintage Pet Rescue

December 18, 2 018

High on the list of things that “shouldn’t happen to a dog” is being abandoned in old age, or being given up when an elderly owner is too infirm to continue providing a much-loved pet with the care it deserves.

Now Kristen and Marc Peralta, a couple who live in Rhode Island, are welcoming dogs in their golden age to live at Vintage Pet Rescue—a nonprofit that takes in elderly pooches from local shelters when they are unlikely to find a new home.

Indeed, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals senior dogs in shelters have an adoption rate of just 25%, while younger dogs have a 60% rate.

“We are committed to rescuing vintage [senior] pets from shelters and assisting owners who can no longer care for [them]. We give these animals love, attention, and medical care for the last months or years of their lives,” the Peraltas say on their website.

The two activists met at an animal shelter in Los Angeles in 2013, and discovered their shared love for senior dogs. After they got married and moved to the East Coast, they began rescuing dogs over the age of eight and bringing them to their spacious home, an old church in Foster, Rhode Island.

In 2017, Kristen turned the labor of love into a full-time gig, according to a December 17 report by the Huffington Post—and today, she oversees the care of 27 mostly senior dogs.

 “It breaks our heart to see senior dogs in shelters,” she told the online news outlet. “They’re just frail; they’re probably scared; [and] a lot of them have vision or hearing issues. Just seeing them, you just want to help.”

This was the heartbreaking scenario for four older Chihuahuas who lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a woman named Linda, until her Stage 4 lung cancer, prevented her from keeping them, People first reported. Linda needed to move into her sister’s home in Rhode Island to receive care, as well as chemotherapy treatment, but the dogs couldn’t come.

Linda and her sister searched for a rescue that wouldn’t euthanize or separate the four pups, and they came across Vintage Pet Rescue. The Peraltas welcomed the chihuahua pack, and Linda is able to visit them often, as her sister lives just a few miles away.l

“I started out visiting the dogs every other day which was wonderful,” Linda told People. “[Kristin] accommodated me with my schedule and the dogs there are all happy, loved, and taken care of better than I can do myself.”

When she first started Vintage Pet Rescue, Peralta didn’t anticipate caring for animals whose owners needed care themselves, but she said she receives many requests for situations like this.

“We really wanted to be able to provide the dogs with an environment where they’ll be comfortable, living in a home cage-free,” she told the Huffington Post. “It then kind of expanded into helping people who could no longer care for their senior dogs—whether they were going into a retirement home or someone’s relative passed away. It’s not what we set out to do but it’s really nice. The owners can still be a part of their dogs’ lives.”

A life spent waiting on two dozen older dogs can be hectic, she told the news outlet. Peralta schedules vet appointments at least once a week, doles out individual medications and does a lot of bathing and petting. “Throw some social media and fundraising in there, and it’s busy,” Peralta said.

But the work is rewarding, and she thinks it’s helping to show more and more people just how special senior dogs are. “They all have such distinct personalities — every one of them is such a character,” she told HuffPost.

“You can just tell how much they appreciate you,” Peralta commented. “They’re thankful that they’re with you and you love them. It’s so special to know that you saved a dog’s life and that it’s going to have a happy rest of life because of you.”

Research contact@Kbratskeir

Is Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Goop’ duping readers by giving them the wrong ‘poop’ on products?

October 30, 2018

Goop, the lifestyle brand—and blog—created by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has been reported to the U.K.’s trading standards and advertising watchdogs over allegations that it makes misleading claims about its products, CNBC reported on October 29.

The Good Thinking Society, a non-profit charity that campaigns against pseudoscience, confirmed to CNBC that it had submitted the complaint about Goop to the U.K.’s National Trading Standards and Advertising Standards Authority. The news was first reported by The Sunday Times newspaper on October 28.

The complaint, seen by CNBC, alleges that Goop’s “wellness” products are advertised misleadingly and make “potentially harmful” claims. It also holds that Goop’s advertising could encourage customers to “use products which could cause direct harm” and that some of the firm’s health claims about its supplement products are “unauthorized.”

Paltrow’s firm was founded in the United States in 2008, and opened its first pop-up store in the U.K. in September. The charity listed 113 examples of Goop’s advertising that it says are in breach of the law.

One of Goop’s products, called The Mother Load—A $90, 30-day regimen of vitamins for pregnant and post-pregnant women—promises to deliver 110% of the “daily value” of vitamin A for adults and children aged four and above, and 69% of the daily value for pregnant women.

That may seem promising—however, Britain’s National Health Service and the World Health Organization both recommend against taking supplements containing vitamin A during pregnancy. Indeed, the NHS website recommends that pregnant women “avoid taking supplements that contain vitamin A.”

Dr, Susan Beck, SVP of Science and Research at Goop, told The Huffington Post on October 28, “When used as recommended, goop’s the Mother Load supplements are safe during pregnancy. The Mother Load contains a very moderate 450 mcg (micrograms),” or 1500 IU (international units), “of vitamin A (preformed vitamin A as retinyl palmitate), which is less than the recommended daily intake of 600 mcg per day (per NHS).”

Beck added: “The Mother Load package contains a warning that pregnant women should not consume more than 10,000 IU vitamin A daily due to risk of birth defects. To provide you with more context — all pregnant women need vitamin A.”

Laura Thomason, project manager at the Good Thinking Society, said in a statement that she emailed to CNBC: “It is shocking to see the sheer volume of unproven claims made by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop about their products—especially given that some of their health advice is potentially dangerous.”

Thomason added: “Gwyneth Paltrow may well have good intentions, but she and her company sell products with claims that could clearly mislead customers. Just because Gwyneth has an Academy Award, it does not mean that Goop should be given an easy ride compared to other big corporations.”

This is not the first time—even this year—that Paltrow’s Goop has been the target of legal action. The blog settled a $145,000 lawsuit with California prosecutors last month over the advertising of a jade and rose quartz egg which it claimed could balance hormones and regulate menstrual cycles.

Research contact: @Ryane_Browne_