Packaged Salad Bacteria: New Study Finds Salad Can Contain High Levels of Fecal Bacteria

Consumer Reports' latest tests of packaged leafy greens found bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination, in some cases, at rather high levels. The story appears in the March 2010 issue of Consumer Reports and is also available free online. Consumers Union today also issued a report urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set safety standards for greens. FDA food safety legislation pending in the Senate, and passed last summer by the House of Representatives, would require the FDA to create just such safety standards.

The tests, which were conducted with financial support from the Pew Health Group, assessed for several types of bacteria, including total coliforms and Enterococcus--"indicator organisms" found in the human digestive tract and in the ambient environment that can signal inadequate sanitation and the potential for the presence of disease-causing organisms. While there are no existing federal standards for indicator bacteria in salad greens, there are standards for these bacteria in milk, beef, and drinking water. Several industry consultants suggest that an unacceptable level in leafy greens would be 10,000 or more colony forming units per gram (CFU/g).

Consumer Reports found that 39 percent of samples exceeded this level for total coliform, and 23 percent for Enterococcus. The tests did not find E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella--sometimes deadly pathogens which can be found in greens, although it was not expected given the small sample size. According to Consumers Union, the goal was to investigate other markers of poor sanitation that should be used in the food safety management of produce.

"Although these 'indicator' bacteria generally do not make healthy people sick, the tests show not enough is being done to assure the safety or cleanliness of leafy greens," said Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Unions, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "Levels of bacteria varied widely, even among different samples of the same brand. More research and effort is needed within the industry to better protect the public. In the meantime, consumers should buy packages of greens that are as far from the use-by date as possible."

For its latest analysis, Consumer Reports had an outside lab test 208 containers of 16 brands of salad greens, sold in plastic clamshells or bags, bought last summer from stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Among the findings:

  • 39 percent of samples exceeded 10,000 CFUs (or another similar measure) per gram for total coliforms and 23 percent for Enterococcus, the levels industry consultants deemed unacceptable.
  • 2 percent of samples exceeded French and 5 percent Brazilian standards for fecal coliform bacteria.
  • Many packages containing spinach, and packages which were one to five days from their use-by date, had higher bacterial levels. Packages six to eight days from their use-by date generally fared better.
  • Whether the greens came in a clamshell or bag, included "baby" greens, or were organic made no difference in bacteria levels.
  • Brands for which there were more than four samples, including national brands Dole, Earthbound Farm Organic, and Fresh Express, plus regional and store brands, had at least one package with relatively high levels of total coliforms or Enterococcus.

CU is calling on the Senate to pass pending FDA food safety reform legislation that requires the agency to set performance standards as well as develop safety standards for the growing or processing of fresh produce. It's also asking that FDA formally declare certain pathogenic bacteria--such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria--be considered adulterants when found in salad greens.

Until packaged salad becomes cleaner, consumers' best line of defense involves following these procedures in stores and kitchens:

  • Buy packages far from their use-by date.
  • Wash the greens even if the packages say "prewashed" or "triplewashed." Rinsing won't remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
  • Prevent cross contamination of greens by keeping them away from raw meat and poultry.

Originally posted on CivilEats.com

Follow Naomi Starkman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NaomiStarkman

out food supply is fucked. everyone should watch food inc.

Palm Pre Plus Review: Is Plus Enough? - Techland

Palm made a splash at CES in 2009 with the announcement of webOS and I'd say they've done a good job maintaining that momentum. A year later, they've added Verizon and AT&T to the roster and updated both the Pre and Pixi with – what some might call – minor updates. It's been a week since the Pre Plus (Pixi Plus, too) went on sale with Verizon and the following is what I've managed to gather about the latest device in a little over a week.

Hardware
To the untrained eye, the Palm Pre Plus looks exactly like the Palm Pre that was released back in June ('09). Upon closer inspection you'll notice that the Verizon variant sports a clean and button less façade. It's safe to assume that Palm learned a thing or two with the Pixi, which lacks a physical button and relies solely on a touch-sensitive gesture area. It's incredibly responsive and depending on which direction you swipe, the area just below the screen lights up and trails the movement of your finger. It's this little area that serves as the control center for navigating and initiating webOS applications. But more on that later.

Slide the Pre Plus open and you're presented with an updated keyboard that's less mushy and firm to the touch. It gives a satisfying click and it's much easier to mash out text messages or e-mails with this keyboard than the previous Pre keyboard. I think my claustrophobia tricks my brain into thinking that the Pre Plus keyboard is smaller and more confined than it really is compared to the Pixi keyboard.

(More on Techland: Hands-on With the Apple iPad)

The battery cover is now Touchstone ready out of the box so you can slap the device onto the inductive charging stone without having to switch backplates.

Under the hood, Palm beefed up the RAM, which is most noticeable when flicking through various “cards” or apps, but it's not quite fast enough compared to other devices available on the market. It is, however, far less frustrating to use compared to the Sprint version and it actually multi-tasks compared to that other device made in Cupertino. Internal storage doubled from 8GB to 16GB.

webOS and Software
When Palm unveiled webOS at CES '09 I almost fell over in my chair. It's a ridiculously powerful OS that continues to surprise me the more I use it. The key features of webOS are multi-tasking, unobtrusive notifications and Synergy. Each individual app (camera, phone, browser, etc.) is a “card” in the webOS ecosystem that's displayed side-by-side with other cards that continues to run or stay open until you flick it off the screen by swiping from the bottom to top. It's that simple.

Have you ever received a text message or calendar notification that interrupts whatever task you're currently involved with? Has it taken you away from said task even though what you really want to do is ignore it? Well, with webOS, you never have to respond to such a notification until you're ready to address it.

(More on Techland: Nexus One Review: The Hardware Isn't The Problem, Android Is)

Synergy is this crazy thing that Palm came up with to manage your online persona. It compiles data from up to eight different accounts from: Exchange, Facebook, AIM, Palm profile, and Google/Gmail. For example, calendar events from Exchange and Facebook are color coded so you know which events are for pleasure and which are for business. A neat feature in Calendar truncates whatever day you're looking at so you don't see the gaps between meetings, for example. In other words, if you have a meeting at 8AM, an early dinner 6 and a phone call at 11:30PM, those are things you'll see instead of empty time slots. Contacts are condensed so you don't have double entries, which is nice but it pulls in just about every person you've ever e-mailed when syncing with your Gmail account.

If you're a Pre or Pixi owner then you have nothing to worry about on the software front because all Palm webOS devices are currently running v1.3.5.1. Palm will release v1.4 of webOS sometime this month and with it comes the ability to record and edit video, battery and performance fixes, as well as access to a Beta of Flash 10.1 for the real McCoy Flash in the browser.

Unlike the Sprint Palm Pre, Verizon decided to leave the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus untouched except for VZ Navigator, which Palm redesigned. If you're familiar with VZ Navigator on any other Verizon device then you know what to expect with it on the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus.

(More on Techland: 12 Best Android Apps To Get You Started)

Miscellany
Battery life on the Pre Plus is like any other 3G device that's chock-full of must-have features like GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Your mileage will vary depending on data usage, Web browsing, e-mail, etc. You'll get through lunch and then some with moderate use. But don't stray too far from an outlet. You're better off keeping the thing charged whenever possible.

The camera works great with adequate light and everything taken within a few feet with flash gets blown out. The same can be said for every other camera phone available. Par for the course, I say.

Phone calls on both ends are fine.

Verizon is mighty and works just about everywhere I've gone and that includes NYC, San Francisco and their respective boroughs and/or suburbs.

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great review of the new palm pre plus. i agree with the review -- palm really needs to introduce a larger screen device and fix the slow/sloppy OS issues.

Google Launching App Store For Google Apps

ballmer schmidt
GOOG Feb 1 2010, 05:20 PM EST
533.02 Change % Change
+3.08 +0.58%

Google is building an App Store for its business-focused Google Apps software, which includes Gmail, Google Docs

, Google Calendar, Google Spreadsheets, etc., the WSJ reports.

Through the store, Google Apps customers could purchase add-ons for the Web apps, increasing Google's feature set (and revenues) without increasing the complexity of its base products.

This as Google tries to disrupt several Microsoft businesses, including its Office and Windows giants, and its Exchange email business.

Google could announce the App Store as soon as March, the WSJ's Jessica Vascellaro says. Like the App Stores flourishing in the mobile industry, Google could collect a cut from sales while passing the majority of revenue along to developers.

Click here to see 10 ways Google is trying to kill Microsoft →

i'm not sure how they solve the problem of making apps work well on so many different android devices... what the hell is a developer supposed to do?

Why long-term VC returns are about to crater | Tech Blog

The 10-year return figures from Cambridge Associates are probably the best way to measure the performance of a long-term asset class like venture capital. As the profits from the dotcom bubble start to recede beyond that 10-year horizon (the Nasdaq peak was March 2000), the true picture of the industry’s performance starts to come into better focus.

The latest quarterly figures today (for the period up to 30 September 2009) revealed a  slump in the 10-year return to 8.4 per cent, down from 40.2 per cent a year before when the full bubble effect was still in the numbers. Bad, certainly, but still respectable: the Nasdaq composite lost 2.5 per cent annually over the same period.

But the really bad news for the venture capitalists is still to come.

It turns out that they were still reporting higher valuations for their funds for two quarters after the Nasdaq peaked. According to Rik Nuenighoff at Cambridge Associates, as late as the third quarter of 2000 venture funds claimed a quarterly return of 12 per cent, while the Nasdaq declined 7.4 per cent.

It could be, he says, that this is because of delayed pay-outs of realised gains - but it also looks like VCs  were still blithely marking up their unrealised investments while the markets were sinking around them.

The day of reckoning has to come eventually. By the end of 2010 the 10-year VC return figure will almost certainly turn negative for the first time ever (the current 9-year figure is -6 per cent.) At that point there is a good chance it will sink below the return on the Nasdaq.

Of course, a vibrant IPO market might still help to ease the pain. But with the markets now taking a pause after last year’s solid run, it’s hard to see how this will be enough to dig VCs out of the hole in time.

February 1, 2010 8:56pm in Software, Tech | Comment

i've been saying this for years.... the 00's (or whatever we want to call the 2000 to 2010 decade) is going to be a lost decade for VC. the returns are going to be terrible.

'Here I Am!' GPS Location Apps Have Limited Appeal - BusinessWeek

'Here I Am!' GPS Location Apps Have Limited Appeal

Online services that send updates on a person's location are all the rage in Silicon Valley, but they have far to go before they'll be adopted elsewhere

By Aaron Ricadela

For Diane Bisgeier, marking her turf with her iPhone has become as regular as morning coffee. Bisgeier "checks in" at restaurants, cafés, and theaters around San Francisco using Gowalla, a popular iPhone app that lets people broadcast their locations, find friends, and compete to see who's shown up somewhere the most.

"I don't feel complete unless I check in" when I arrive, says Bisgeier, 41, who has also logged her location using iPhone apps from Gowalla competitors Foursquare and Yelp. By announcing her movements around town on Gowalla, Bisgeier, a marketing director for medical software maker Soar BioDynamics , says she's able to meet friends spontaneously and feel as if she "left [my] mark" on places. "It's because I'm hypersocial," she says. "That's why I love it."

As Silicon Valley's obsessions go, the virtual parlor games proffered by startups Foursquare and Gowalla rank among the more curious. New York and Silicon Valley techies have lately taken to whipping out their smart phones when they cross the transom of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and train stations, firing up Foursquare's or Gowalla's applications, and checking in to mark their turf. Enthusiasts say they like the bragging rights that come with being the most frequent patron of a place, and that the apps let them serendipitously meet up with friends. Frequent patrons can become the "mayor" of a venue by playing Foursquare, or stamp a virtual passport in Gowalla's game. Hundreds of merchants offer free beer, coffee, and pizza to the top denizens of their establishments. "In the Bay Area, it has turned into a pretty valuable utility," Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg and an investor in both Foursquare and Gowalla, says of the software.

The Mobile-Advertising Angle

The popularity of the apps has attracted notice from other Web startups that rely on local advertising. Foursquare boasts nearly 300,000 users, and Gowalla has more than 100,000. On Jan. 15, Yelp—a Web site that reviews shops, restaurants, and night spots and that on Jan. 27 announced a round of funding worth up to $100 million—introduced the ability for users of its iPhone app to check in at businesses.

Now, as tech industry heavyweights such as Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Twitter, and IAC/Interactive (IACI) try to capitalize on the smart phone explosion with mobile ads that target people where they congregate, startups compiling a trove of data about users' migratory habits could make attractive acquisition targets for those companies. At one point in January, a Foursquare user was checking into a location every second, the company said.

Palm’s Hot Apps $1 million competition begins today!

Hot apps!

Developers, start your engines! Palm’s Hot Apps program begins today, and there’s $1 million on the table just waiting for you. Running from February 1, 2010 to May 31, 2010, Hot Apps will award cash prizes to the developers with the most webOS app downloads during that period. Here’s how that one million dollars breaks down:

  • #1 most downloaded free app: $100,000
  • #1 highest revenue paid app: $100,000
  • #2 - #21 most downloaded apps: $10,000 each
  • #22 - #221 most downloaded apps: $1,000 each

So all you’ve got to do is be in the top 221 apps to be prize worthy. With cold hard cash on the line, here’s hoping we see some really amazing apps in the next 120 days!

win win win! the self aware games are going to release an app today! i hope it wins!