Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Science

Swine flu: Can I still eat pork?

According to the national Centers for Disease Control, eating properly prepared pork is safe:

"Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses." -- Key Facts About Swine Influenza (Swine Flu), CDC

Following are some links to the most current information available on swine flu as of this post:

-- Noelle Carter

Photo: A government official works to disinfect a pig farm in central Taiwan as a preventative measure. Credit: Sam Yeh / AFP / Getty Images

The Milky Way is berry good


Now this is the kind of science we like to read about: The Milky Way could taste like raspberries.

Scientists say they have discovered two of the most complex carbon-rich molecules ever found in interstellar space, including a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavor of the fruit. Ergo: The Milky Way "could taste of raspberries." The findings were announced during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

-- Rene Lynch

Join us on Twitter @LATimesFood

Photo credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times


Science says: Matzo ball soup is good for you


In case you were wondering whether you should eat chicken soup when you're sick, the answer is a resounding yes.

Science confirms that matzo ball soup in particular is really good for you.

It may even reduce your blood pressure.

Read more from our friends in the Science department here.

-- Lori Kozlowski

Photo credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Love bacon? Blame it on chemistry ...


Or the Maillard reaction, to be exact.

The Daily Telegraph explains the science — yes, science — behind bacon's undeniable appeal. Apparently, it's the Maillard reaction at work, "a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar which often requires heat. The acid and sugar react to release a huge amount of smells and flavours," writes Alastair Jamieson in today's article.

Translation? When you cook bacon, the reaction between the fat and amino acids in the meat release smells and flavors that are almost impossible to resist.

Well, at least I now have some science to back me up next time I go on a shameless bacon binge.

That brings me to No. 29 on my list of 1,001 things to do with bacon: Blame it on science.

— Noelle Carter

Click below for the rest of the list.

Continue reading »

Peanut-related salmonella cases reach 600


A petri dish containing different strains and stages of salmonella being tested at the Los Angeles County Health Department in Downey last summer, in an unrelated outbreak.

The number of people reported to have gotten ill from Salmonella typhimurium poisoning related to peanut products has hit 600 in 44 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent illness began Jan. 23. Seventy-four of those illnesses occurred in California.

Now, the Consumer Federation of America and other consumer groups are urging Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration authority that they say would improve the agency's ability to protect the food supply.

The changes include giving the FDA mandatory recall authority and requiring more frequent inspections.

"These changes are critical for FDA to develop a modern, prevention-oriented food safety program," said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.

Legislation introduced in the House would provide the FDA with those authorities.

And the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has called on Congress to increase penalties against companies that ship adulterated food and to overhaul food safety laws.

The groups are reacting to the salmonella outbreak traced to a Georgia plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America that shipped peanut products to dozens of companies that used them in a wide variety of foods.

Continue reading »

More news on peanut recalls

If you buy food at discount stores, you might want to take a look at this list of products from Peanut Corp. of America, the company at the center of a nationwide recall of hundreds of foods containing peanut products.

The company has issued a list of items sold in discount stores that are part of the recall.

-- Mary MacVean

Test Kitchen tips: Storing flour


We just got this e-mail from a reader:

"How long can I keep flour? It is in the original bag and in a plastic outer bag." -- Arlene

Sure, flour may not be something we tend to think about often in the kitchen, but it's one of those things that can stale or go rancid if not stored properly, potentially ruining a recipe. Here are some tips for storage:

Basic flours (including all-purpose, cake, pastry and bread flours):

  • These flours are generally more stable for storage than whole grain or alternative flours. Before grinding, the grains are stripped of the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm to be processed. The stripping (and optional "bleaching," or oxidizing) gives the flour its white or creamy color.
  • Store these flours in a sealable plastic bag or airtight container.
  • Label them with the purchase date and store for up to three months at cool room temperature (no higher than 75 degrees) or frozen for up to six months. Bring the flour to room temperature before using.

Whole grain and alternative flours (including whole wheat, barley, oat and rye):

  • These flours contain more or all of the grain, starch or nut when processing, increasing the flavor, color and texture of the flour. The fat content also is higher because of the oil in the grain, which makes the flour less stable and prone to rancidity.
  • Because these flours can go rancid quickly, check to see whether the packaging has a processing date before buying; many producers now date their flours for freshness.
  • Store these flours in a sealable plastic bag or airtight container and freeze for up to three months; do not store at room temperature. Bring the flour to room temperature before using.
  • To check to see whether a flour has gone rancid, smell it. Rancid flour will give an "off" smell.

Hope this helps! For other kitchen questions or tips, e-mail us at food@latimes.com.

-- Noelle Carter

Photo credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

FDA releases report on peanut plant

Federal officials on Tuesday talked about problems they found at the Georgia plant they have linked to a salmonella outbreak that has made hundreds of people sick in 43 states.

Today the U.S.Food and Drug Administration released its report on inspections at the Peanut Corp. of American plant in Blakely, Ga.

-- Mary MacVean

Go ahead, support the Girl Scouts

Scout_2 Don't despair, Do-si-do devotees. Take heart, Tagalong fans. The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. have announced that the peanut butter used in their cookies is safe. Neither of the bakers who supply the Girl Scouts with their fundraising cookies buy their ingredients from the company that the federal government says is the source of a recent salmonella outbreak.

If there can be anyone who doesn't know, here's the scoop: Tagalongs are cookies covered in peanut butter and chocolate. Do-si-dos are sandwich cookies with peanut butter in the middle. Of course Thin Mint fans may have been feeling smug all along.

Girl Scout cookie season began over the weekend in Los Angeles.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo courtesy of Little Brownie Bakers

Peanut butter recall goes on ... and on

Trader Joe's today issued a voluntary recall for some cookies and granola bars containing peanut butter and linked by federal officials to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened almost 500 people in 43 states. Booster Shots blog has some details.

-- Mary MacVean


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts
5 Questions for Thi Tran |  August 6, 2012, 8:00 am »
SEE-LA hires new executive director |  July 31, 2012, 9:34 am »
Food FYI: Actors reading Yelp reviews |  July 31, 2012, 9:16 am »
Test Kitchen video tip: Choosing a bread wash |  July 31, 2012, 6:04 am »



About the Bloggers
Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.