Posts Tagged: Carl Winter
He has been called the “Elvis of E. coli” and the “Sinatra of Salmonella,” and now Carl Winter, a UC Cooperative Extension food toxicologist for 32 years, will rock and roll his way into retirement on July 1, 2019.
Based at UC Davis, Winter researches the detection of pesticides and naturally occurring toxins in foods, how to assess their risks and how to use science in the regulatory decision-making process.
His most recent work includes investigating the relationship between allowable levels and safety levels for pesticide residues on food crops. Author of numerous journal articles, books and book chapters, he has testified before the U.S. Congress on four occasions and has given nearly 1,000 scientific presentations and more than 1,000 media interviews over the course of his career.
The internationally respected food-safety expert is equally known for using humor and music to communicate important messages about food and agriculture.
“Dr. Winter has been a strong and reassuring voice for consumers about the safety of produce and a positive influence on fruit and vegetable consumption,” said Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming. “He has been an invaluable resource for media, consumers, his students and the produce industry because of his ability to make complex issues understandable. He has set such a high standard and his voice will be missed.”
Winter, who is an accomplished musician, also studies how to improve educational activities by incorporating music into food safety curricula. His humorous musical parodies about food safety aim to educate through entertainment. Accompanying himself on keyboard and guitar, Winter covers Will Smith's “Gettin' Jiggy Wit It,” as “Don't Get Sicky Wit It,” and The Beatles' “I Want to Hold Your Hand” becomes “You'd Better Wash Your Hands.”
The food safety musician has performed songs at nearly 300 scientific conferences and meetings in 37 states with his own lyrics, such as “Hey, Salmonella, did you think I'd lay down and die?” for Gloria Gaynor's “I Will Survive.” He has distributed 30,000 audio CDs and animated DVDs and his YouTube page has received more than 1 million views. Winter's food safety videos can also be seen at http://foodsafe.ucdavis.edu/html/video.html.
Winter, who was vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology for the past six years, also served as a member of UC Agriculture and Natural Resource's Program Council from 2015 through 2019.
In retirement, he plans to continue playing keyboard and guitar for the Northern California bands Petty Jack Flash, Keep on Truckin', and Elvis and the Experience, as well as travel throughout the world with his wife, Robin.
"Everyone smells the petrochemicals in the irrigation water," said Blake Sanden, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension advisor in Kern County. "When I talk to growers, and they smell the oil field crap in that water, they assume the soil is taking care of this."
The farmers trust that organisms in the soil remove toxins or impurities in the water. However, the trust may be misplaced.
Microoganisms in soils can consume and process some impurities, Sanden said, but it's not clear whether oil field waste is making its way into the roots or leaves of irrigated plants, and then into the food chain.
It's unlikely that petrochemicals will show up in an almond, for example, he said, "But can they make it into the flesh of an orange or grape? It's possible. A lot of this stuff has not been studied in a field setting or for commercial food uptake."
The reporter also spoke to Carl Winter, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis. He said some plants can absorb toxins without transferring them to the leaves or the flesh of their fruit.
Still, he said, "it's difficult to say anything for sure because we don't know what chemicals are in the water."
A visiting scholar at UC Berkeley who is a researcher analyzing hydraulic fracturing for the California legislature said the issue is "one of the things that keeps me up at night."
"You can't find what you don't look for," he said.
Nutritionally, preserved fruits and vegetables can be equivalent or superior to fresh, said Diane Barrett, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis.
By the time a stalk of broccoli makes it from the farm to the supermarket to your refrigerator, it has already lost some of its nutritional value. "Fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of harvest, so that actually allows you to retain those nutrients," Barrett said.
Barrett's analyses show that vitamin C, fiber, potassium and zinc remain intact during the freezing process. Blanching before freezing may make vitamins A and E more digestible.
Mother Jones senior editor Kiera Butler turned to Carl Winter, also a UCCE specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, for information about pesticide residue in fresh and processed food.
Processed fruits and vegetables generally have less pesticide residue than fresh conventional produce, Winter said. This is because some fruits and vegetables are washed in a machine that jostles them around to remove dirt and debris before they are processed. Some are also blanched and peeled.
“In virtually every (rice) product we tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic,” said the article.
However, Carl Winter, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis, said it’s too early to recommend any changes in diet because of these findings.
“Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, found in a lot of different foods and some drinking water at different levels,” Winter said. “We’ve been consuming it all our lives. It’s too early to say whether it is causing any harm.”
He suggests people continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods while the federal officials who are charged with protecting the United States’ food supply draw scientific conclusions about dietary arsenic exposure.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently collecting thousands of samples of rice-containing foods to develop a database that will allow the agency to establish acceptable levels in foods. Preliminary data released by the FDA in September found that the average levels of inorganic arsenic to be 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms per serving. The data collection is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“The scientific approach is being taken right now to get a real handle on the typical level people consume,” Winter said. “Before you do that, it’s hard to say any population is at risk.”
Arsenic may be present in some other foods, but most crops don’t readily take up much arsenic from the ground. Rice is different because it is grown in flooded conditions. In an anaerobic environment, arsenic changes into a form that is easier for plants to absorb.
Take your time to peruse the sites listed below. There is some fascinating and very handy information to be had. Many of these sites also offer terrific publications at nominal prices, but this blog lists only those that are free . . . and we all love a bargain! Many more publications and programs are available than those listed below.
After looking at these lists, you never know when you’ll be inspired to pickle some olives or field dress a deer. As for me, my latest food craze is cheese-making. Two weeks ago I made goat cheese (chèvre, to be sure), and last weekend I made camembert and blue cheeses. Now I just have to be patient for two months while they ripen . . .
Bon appétit and healthful eating!
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publications [link]
- Tomatoes: Safe methods to store, preserve, and enjoy [link]
- Olives: Safe methods for home pickling [link]
- Egg basics for the consumer: Packaging, storing, and nutritional information [link]
- Guidelines for food safety during short-term power outages: Consumer fact sheet [link]
- Key points of control and management for microbial food safety: Edible landscape [link]
- Safe handling of fruits and vegetables [link]
- Safe methods of canning vegetables [link]
- The healthy brown bag: 15 lunches for school-aged children [link]
Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center [link]
- Storing fresh fruits and vegetables at home – poster (first copy free) [link]
Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center [link]
- The Backyard Orchard – A plethora of publications on growing and harvesting in the home orchard [link]
Nutrition publications from UC Davis [link]
- Nutrition and health information sheets on everything from energy drinks to osteoporosis to anemia, and more [link]
- EatFit - An interactive web program to aid middle-school students in personal dietary analysis and "guided goal setting" [link]
- “Nutrition Perspectives” newsletter - Research-based information on ongoing nutrition and food-related programs [link]
- “Nutrition to Grow On” - A curriculum for grades four through six that offers teachers a direct link between the garden and nutrition education [link]
Food Safety Videos
- Take a look at these humorous — but serious — music videos on food safety by renowned food safety expert Dr. Carl Winter. Who knew that the Beatles’ classic “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” could morph into “You’d Better Wash Your Hands”? [link]
- More food safety music [link]
Cooperative Extension Offices [link]
- Many county offices have publications on food production that is specific to climatic or regional needs of that county.
Publication of the Day!
- Protecting food safety when shooting, field dressing, bringing a deer home, and cutting the carcass [link]