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IFAS News

University of Florida

Keep Your Home Safe during Pesticide Use

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, Food Safety, IFAS

Date: June 3, 2015

By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Philip Koehler, 352-392-2484, pgk@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida, with its tropical and subtropical environment, is a breeding ground for many pests in the home. Do you handle it yourself or get a pest management professional? Misconceptions about pesticides may keep you from tackling the job.

“Many people believe that pesticides are dangerous and cause a lot of poisonings, and that’s not necessarily true,” said Philip Koehler, professor of entomology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Poison control center statistics show that the number one cause of poisoning is analgesics. Pesticides come in at number nine on their list. There are a lot of other things such as medicines, make up and cleaning products that poison more people every year.”

A second myth is that over-the-counter pesticides are safer than ones used by pesticide operators, Koehler said. But, pest control operators use the same active ingredients that are sold in retail stores, he said. “The problem comes in when the homeowner wants to store leftover pesticide. Improper storage is really dangerous especially if it is just placed under the sink or on a shelf in the garage,” Koehler explained.

When a professional handles the treatment, he takes the leftover pesticide with him so the homeowner won’t have to store pesticide in the home, he said. While most pesticides will not poison a resident, improperly stored pesticide is dangerous for children who can accidentally eat or drink it, Koehler said.

What to do with old pesticide? The product will likely have a shelf life of more than two years. “It’s common for people to pour it on the ground, in the sink or in the toilet. That contaminates the water supply and hurts the environment,” Koehler said.  He suggests taking pesticide to the county toxic waste disposal program, where professionals will properly discard the product.

Koehler offered some tips:

  • Use baits or gels that come in syringes to exterminate pests like ants and cockroaches. “The industry has moved to baits that can be put in corners, cracks and crevices where roaches and ants live,” he said. “You don’t have to be worried about spraying a plate of food and contaminating it.”
  • Make sure you are using the right product for the right insect. “Residents can take the pest to a county extension office where there is an insect identification lab. The key is to know the pest you are trying to control and use appropriate measures.”
  • Store pesticides in an area where children cannot reach it. And when ready to dispose of it, call your county toxic waste disposal program for location, days and times of collection.
  • Educate yourself about pests and pest control. Many fact sheets are available on the University of Florida IFAS website for “featured creatures.”

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UF/IFAS study: New information changes few opinions on GMOs, global warming

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Research, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — First impressions are important. So much so that even armed with new information, many people won’t change their minds about genetically modified foods and global warming, a new University of Florida study shows.

In fact, some grow even more stubborn in their beliefs that GMOs are unsafe, said Brandon McFadden, an assistant professor in food and resource economics in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

After they read scientific information stating that genetically modified foods are safe, 12 percent of the study’s participants said they felt such foods were less safe – not more, much to McFadden’s astonishment.

That’s partly because people form beliefs and often never let go of them, he said.

“This is critical and hopefully demonstrates that as a society we should be more flexible in our beliefs before collecting information from multiple sources,” McFadden said. “Also, this indicates that scientific findings about a societal risk likely have diminishing value over time.”

(more …)

New Sea Grant specialist aims to keep Gulf seafood safe

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, Research, Safety

George Baker.  Assistant Scientist. Food Science and Human Nutrition.

George Baker

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — George Baker hopes to help ensure Gulf seafood remains safe to consume.

As the new seafood safety specialist for Florida Sea Grant, Baker will primarily give seafood processors the best scientific data from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other sources.

He’ll train processors and others in seafood safety. Baker wants to help develop methods to detect chemical compounds that would hinder seafood safety, and he hopes to generate and disseminate basic nutritional information or analysis.

“Working with seafood can be very exciting and quite challenging,” said Baker, who, in addition to his new Sea Grant position, will retain his appointment as an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition at UF/IFAS. “It seems that there are far more safety issues associated with seafood in the news or on the web than other food commodities like meat and poultry or produce. However, it’s my opinion that, unless you have a seafood-related allergy, seafood is as just as safe, or safer, than other food.”

(more …)

Fishermen, communities need more than healthy fish stocks

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Conservation, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Jim-Anderson 050615

James Anderson

The Alaska salmon fishery is touted as one of the best in the world. When measured with an ecological yardstick, it is – fish stocks are healthy and the fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as consistently meeting rigorous biological standards. Fish are individually counted as they swim upstream to ensure there are enough to breed.

But Alaska salmon falls behind some of the world’s fisheries in how it benefits local fishermen, processing workers and nearby rural communities, according to a new assessment that ranks the vitality of a fishery by looking at its economic and community benefits as well as its ecological health.

“We wanted to develop a new set of metrics to determine how well fisheries management systems work and to test what factors are most effective in improving them,” said James Anderson, professor of Food and Resource Economics and director of the new Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Anderson is a lead author of a paper published May 6 in the journal PLOS ONE, describing the new methodology.

 “These new Fishery Performance Indicators (FPIs) are designed to help us evaluate a fishery system’s performance toward achieving economic, community and ecological sustainability – the ‘triple bottom line,'” he said.

(more …)

“The Meat We Eat” a popular course that improves attitudes

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Livestock, Nutrition

MEATWEEAT for web 042215

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some people are changing their attitudes about the meat industry after taking the popular online course, “The Meat We Eat.”

The course, intended to give the consumer a more educated view of the meat industry, started up again April 20, and so far, about 5,000 people are registered. Chad Carr, a UF/IFAS animal sciences associate professor and meat Extension specialist, hopes that number rises above last year’s enrollment of 20,000 – students from around the world.

(more …)

UF study shows seafood samples had no elevated contaminant levels from oil spill

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Pollution, Research, Safety
Clam fishermen harvesting bags of mature clams off the coast of Cedar Key, Florida. Ocean, boat,gulf, fishing.   UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A sampling of more than 1,000 Gulf of Mexico fish, shrimp, oysters and blue crabs taken from Cedar Key, Fla., to Mobile Bay, Ala., between 2011 to 2013, shows no elevated contaminant levels, according to a seafood safety study conducted by Dr. Andrew Kane and colleagues at the University of Florida.  In fact, some 74 percent of the seafood tested showed no quantifiable levels of oil contaminants at all.

“Seafood appears as safe to eat now as it was before the spill,” said Kane, associate professor of environmental and global health and director of the Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. (more …)

$2 million UF/IFAS study to focus on antibiotic resistance; $500,000 study on taste retention

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Kwang Cheol (K.C.) Jeong, Ph.D. UF/IFAS Photo. 2011.Kevin Folta.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

Jeong, left, and Folta, right

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist will try to figure out how antibiotic-resistant microorganisms get into cattle. Another will study how to get tomatoes and strawberries to retain their flavors and last longer.

The two vastly different questions will be the focus of separate studies led by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has awarded KC Jeong $2.19 million to study the cattle antibiotic question. NIFA also has awarded Kevin Folta and Thomas Colquhoun $500,000 to investigate the strawberry/tomato issue.

(more …)

UF/IFAS offers “How to Start a Food Business in Florida” workshop for entrepreneurs

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS

Cutting slices of fresh cucumber.  Cucumbes, food prep, knife, cooking, vegetables.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you been thinking of turning your grandma’s delicious cake recipe into a cake-selling business?  Or maybe all your friends have told you that you should bottle your homemade organic salsa and sell it?

Soo Ahn, a University of Florida assistant professor for food science and human nutrition, is hosting the “How to Start a Food Business in Florida – Introduction to Food Entrepreneurship” course on April 24 from 8:30 a.m. until 4: p.m. at the Straughn Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Professional Development Center. The workshop will offer general information on food safety and quality, basic food science, business planning, and federal and state regulatory requirements for food business in Florida. (more …)

6 UF/IFAS faculty named as Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biofuels, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock, New Technology, RECs, Research

Robert Fletcher photographed for the 2011 FAES Awards.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler JonesRESEARCHFOUNDATION - Danyluk 041015Jim Jones (left), Bin Gao (seated), and Pratap Pullammanappallil.  Innovation Awards Portrait.  UF/IFAS File Photo.Zhenli He. Associate Professor, Soil and Water Science.Jose SantosRESEARCHFOUNDATION - Peter 041015
Pictured top (left to right) Robert Fletcher, Michelle Danyluk and Bin Gao; second row (left to right) Zhenli He, Jose Eduardo Santos and Gary Peter.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues like food safety and environmental sustainability, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2015-18.

The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.

“When I look at the breadth of research exemplified by these talented scientists, I am reminded of the complexity and breadth of the IFAS mission, and how fortunate we are to have people of such high caliber working in a university that places such a high value on research and invests so heavily in the research enterprise,” said Doug Archer, UF/IFAS associate dean of research.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher continues quest for peanut that won’t cause allergic reaction

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Wade Yang, an assistant professor in UF?s food science and human nutrition department, left, and graduate student Sandra Shriver, use pulsed ultraviolet light to reduce allergens in peanuts in Yang's laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., on April 15, 2011. The technique has been shown to significantly reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by up to 90 percent. IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist has moved one step closer to his goal of eliminating 99.9 percent of peanut allergens by removing 80 percent of them in whole peanuts.

Scientists must eliminate peanut allergens below a certain threshold for patients to be safe, said Wade Yang, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and member of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

If Yang can cut the allergens from 150 milligrams of protein per peanut to below 1.5 milligrams, 95 percent of those with peanut allergies would be safe. It’s challenging to eliminate all peanut allergens, he said, because doing so may risk destroying peanuts’ texture, color, flavor and nutrition. But he said he’s using novel methods like pulsed light to reach an allergen level that will protect most people.

Yang, whose study is published online in this month’s issue of the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology, cautioned that he has done peanut allergen experiments only in a laboratory setting so far. He hopes to eventually conduct clinical trials on animals and humans.

(more …)

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