UCHD, Protecting Your Health.

 

Friday, 06 September 2013 14:05

Produce

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away..." but make sure you are being mindful of safe food practices when you enjoy your favorite fruit or vegetable. 

Below you can find information from the FDA on how to select and serve raw produce safely. Enjoy!

 

 

Raw Produce: Selecting and Serving it Safely

photos of lab scientist, laboratory, produce, and inspector looking at fish

Food Facts
 From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Available in PDF (3.5 MB).

También disponible en Español (Spanish)

WATCH a VIDEO on Seafood Safety WATCH a Video on Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices 

StrawberriesFruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Your local markets carry an amazing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious.  However, harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows may come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during preparation or storage.  Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.”  As you enjoy fresh produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family.

Buy Right

You can help keep produce safe by making wise buying decisions at the grocery store.

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting pre-cut produce — such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens — choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.
Thermometer
Keep your refrigerator set at 40° F or below. Use a fridge thermometer to check!
  • Store Properly

Proper storage of fresh produce can affect both quality and safety.

  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. If you're not sure whether an item should be refrigerated to maintain quality, ask your grocer.
  • Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled to maintain both quality and safety.

Separate for Safety

Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood — and from kitchen utensils used for those products. Take these steps to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
  • If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.

Prepare Safely

 When preparing any fresh produce, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.

  • Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or purchased from a grocery store or farmer's market. Washing fruits and vegetables with soao or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. FDA has a poster, Wash Fruits and Vegetables (PDF: 1.6MB), you can print and display to remember to wash your fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
Produce Safety: Lettuce

What About Pre-Washed Produce?

Many pre-cut, bagged, or packaged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed and ready-to-eat.  If so, it will be stated on the packaging.  If the package indicates that the contents are pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use the produce without further washing.

If you do chose to wash a product marked “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross contamination.

Produce Safety: Sandwich

Sprouts: What You Should Know

Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts that are served on salads, wraps, sandwiches, and Asian food may contain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow, and these conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella,Listeria, and E. coli.

Rinsing sprouts first will not remove bacteria. Home-grown sprouts also present a health risk if they are eaten raw or lightly cooked.

What can consumers do to reduce the risk of illness?

  • Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts of any kind (including onion, alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking kills the harmful bacteria.
  • When you’re eating out, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you buy a ready-made sandwich, salad, or Asian food, check to make sure raw sprouts have not been added

Questions and Answers about Fresh Produce

What is "organic produce"? 
Organic produce is grown without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

Before a product can be labeled "organic," a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it reaches the supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

What is ethylene gas - and how does it affect produce? 
Some fruits and vegetables - like bananas - naturally produce ethylene gas when they ripen. Oftentimes, such fruits and vegetables are harvested in the unripened state to preserve firmness and for long shelf life; they are later exposed to ethylene gas to induce ripening.

What does the "use-by" date mean on a package of fresh produce? 
"Best-If-Used-By- (or Before)" date is the last date recommended for peak quality as determined by the manufacturer of the product.

Why are wax coatings used on fruits and vegetables? 
Many vegetables and fruits make their own natural waxy coating. After harvest, fresh produce may be washed to clean off dirt and soil - but such washing also removes the natural wax. Therefore, waxes are applied to some produce to replace the natural waxes that are lost.

Wax coatings help retain moisture to maintain quality from farm to table including:

  • when produce is shipped from farm to market while it is in the stores and restaurants

  • while it is in the stores and restaurants
  • once it is in the home

Waxes also help inhibit mold growth, protect produce from bruising, prevent other physical damage and disease, and enhance appearance.

How are waxes applied? 
Waxes are used only in tiny amounts to provide a microscopic coating surrounding the entire product. Each piece of waxed produce has only a drop or two of wax.

Coatings used on fruits and vegetables must meet FDA food additive regulations for safety. Produce shippers and supermarkets in the United States are required by federal law to label fresh fruits and vegetables that have been waxed so you will know whether the produce you buy is coated. Watch for signs that say: "Coated with food-grade vegetable-, petroleum-, beeswax-, or shellac- based wax or resin, to maintain freshness."

 

Content provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Published in Health
Monday, 05 September 2011 22:41

Maternal & Infant Health

The Union County Health Department is committed to improving and protecting maternal and child health in Union County, Ohio.  We offer a variety of services to ensure that women and their children have accessibility to the resources necessary to maintain health and wellness.  Our services include the following:

Prenatal Clinic - This clinic offers comprehensive prenatal care for clients who are uninsured, underinsured or who have a Medicaid managed plan.  Clinics are Thursday mornings by appointment only.

Newborn Home Visit Program - A free visit from a nurse is available to all families with a new baby. The nurse checks on the health of both the baby and mother, provides education and provides resources that are available in the area.

Women, Infant and Children (WIC) - WIC is a nutrition education program that provides nutritious foods that promote good health for pregnant women, women who just had a baby, breastfeeding moms, infants and children up to age 5.

Breastfeeding - Through our Women, Infant and Children program a Breast Feeding Peer Mentor is available to assist you in your breastfeeding questions.

Development Screenings - The Union County Health Department provides a free online screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). This tool is completed by parents/caregivers and reviewed by our child development experts. The ASQ provides an assessment of where your child is doing well and in what areas your child may need some additional support. Thie ASQ is for parents/caregivers of children age birth through 5 years.

Published in Health
Saturday, 27 August 2011 22:43

Clinics

The Union County Health Department offers a variety of clinics to assist our community with their health care needs. All of our clinics accept Medicaid, CareSource and Molina. For those with no insurance all of our clinics offer a sliding fee scale based on family size and income. No one is turned away for inability to pay. We also accept most private insurances.

Adult Health Services Clinic

Adult Health Services Clinic is for individuals whom are 11 years of age or older. This clinic operates on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Appointments are required. More....

Childhood Immunization Clinic

Our Childhood Immunization Clinic serves children ages 2 months to 12 years old.  All recommended and required immunizations for infants, toddlers and school aged children are available. More...

Flu Clinics

The Union County Health Department offers a variety of special flu clinics to help prepare our community for the seasonal flu. More...

Prenatal Clinic

No expectant parent should have to go without prenatal care. The Prenatal Clinic offers affordable prenatal care for expectant parents who are uninsured, underinsured or on Medicaid.  Our Prenatal Clinic is by appointment only on Thursday mornings. More....

Sexual Health Clinic

The Union County Health Department offers clinic services for both men and women to safeguard their sexual health. STI testing, Annual Exams and Birth Control are a few examples of the services provided by this clinic.  More.... 

 

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Published in Health
Thursday, 25 August 2011 03:04

Immunization Recommendations (CDC)

Get the best protection for your child—make sure your child is immunized on schedule. For a complete list of recommended immunizations, specific to your child, use this online tool provided by the CDC:  

Please click here for the online tool

 

Printable PDF Versions of Recommended Immunization Schedules by Age

Child Immunization Schedule (Ages Birth-6)
Child Immunization Schedule (Ages 7-18)
Adult Immunization Schedule (Ages 19-65+)

Published in Immunizations
Thursday, 25 August 2011 01:49

Lead

Union County's Lead Awareness Program

The Union County Health Department wants to help homeowners know their home is free of lead. Homes most at risk for high lead levels are those built before 1978. To help homeowners, the Health Department offers free lead-paint test kits. To get a kit, please call (937) 642-2053.

It is also the goal of the Union County Health Department to make sure that every child less than 6 years of age is screened for their lead exposure risk. Download the quick screening form below to see if your child is at increased risk for lead poisoning. If you answer "yes" or "I don't know" to any of the questions, then please call your doctor to ask about a blood lead test. If you do not have a doctor, please call (937) 642-2053 and ask to speak to a nurse about getting a blood lead test for your child.

icon BloodLeadTestingRequirements

The Union County Health Department's lead awareness program is funded in part by the Ohio Department of Health's Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention Program.

Facts about lead

  • FACT: Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.
  • FACT: Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
  • FACT: You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.
  • FACT: You have many options for reducing lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard.
  • FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.

If you think your home might have lead hazards, read on to learn about lead and some simple steps to protect your family.

Health effects of lead

Childhood lead poisoning remains a major environmental health problem in the United States.

    • People can get lead in their body if they:
      • Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
      • Eat paint chips or soil that contains lead.
      • Breathe in lead dust, especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces.

 

    • Lead is more dangerous to children because:
      • Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them.
      • Children's growing bodies absorb more lead.
      • Children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

 

    • If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:
      • Damage to the brain and nervous system
      • Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
      • Slowed growth
      • Hearing problems
      • Headaches

 

  • Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:
    • Reproductive problems (in both men and women)
    • High blood pressure and hypertension
    • Nerve disorders
    • Memory and concentration problems
    • Muscle and joint pain

Read more on the health effects of lead.

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Are you renovating, repairing or painting a home, child care facility or school built before 1978?

Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

Protect your family and make sure you only hire a contractor who is in a Lead-Safe Certified Firm. Find a Lead-Safe Certified Firm near you.

Read about EPA's requirements for renovation, repair and painting.

Read EPA's pamphlet on renovation, repair and painting:

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Are you planning to buy or rent a home built before 1978?

Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.

Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or buying a pre-1978 housing:

  • LANDLORDS must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.
  • SELLERS must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to ten days to check for lead hazards.
  • More information on the disclosure program.

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Where lead is found

In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.

  • Paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead can be found:

    • In homes in the city, country, or suburbs.
    • In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing.
    • Inside and outside of the house.
  • In soil around a home. Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint, or other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars, and children playing in yards can ingest or inhale lead dust.

  • Household dust. Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home.

  • Drinking water. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in it:

    • Use only cold water for drinking and cooking.
    • Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.
  • The job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes.

  • Old painted toys and furniture.

  • Food and liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain. Food can become contaminated because lead can leach in from these containers.

  • Lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air.

  • Hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture.

  • Folk remedies that contain lead, such as "greta" and "azarcon" used to treat an upset stomach.

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Where lead is likely to be a hazard

Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can't always see, can be serious hazards.

  • Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.

  • Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear. These areas include:
    • Windows and window sills.
    • Doors and door frames.
    • Stairs, railings, and banisters.
    • Porches and fences.

Note: Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard.

  • Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.

  • Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) to find out about testing soil for lead.

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How to check your family and home for lead

Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard.

To reduce your child's exposure to lead, get your child checked, have your home tested (especially if your home has paint in poor condition and was built before 1978), and fix any hazards you may have.

    • Your family
      • Children's blood lead levels tend to increase rapidly from 6 to 12 months of age, and tend to peak at 18 to 24 months of age.
      • Consult your doctor for advice on testing your children. A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead. Blood tests are important for:
        • Children at ages one and two.
        • Children and other family members who have been exposed to high levels of lead.
        • Children who should be tested under your state or local health screening plan.
      • Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.

 

  • Your home
    • You can get your home checked in one of two ways, or both
      • A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every different type of painted surface in your home. It won't tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it.
      • A risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.
    • Have qualified professionals do the work. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for a list of contacts in your area.
    • Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:
      • Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
      • A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine.
      • Lab tests of paint samples.
      • Surface dust tests.

Note: Home test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest that they are not always accurate. Consumers should not rely on these tests before doing renovations or to assure safety.

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What you can do to protect your family

    • If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
      • If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
      • Clean up paint chips immediately.
      • Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. REMEMBER: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH PRODUCTS TOGETHER SINCE THEY CAN FORM A DANGEROUS GAS.
      • Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
      • Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat and before nap time and bed time.
      • Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed animals regularly.
      • Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
      • Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
      • Make sure children eat healthy and nutritious meals as recommended by the National Dietary Guidelines. Children with good diets absorb less lead.

 

  • Additional steps:
    • You can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels. These actions are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention.
    • To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead "abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough.
    • Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems -- someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government.
    • Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for help with locating certified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available.

 

 

 

Published in Health Hazards
Thursday, 25 August 2011 01:49

Radon

Welcome to the regional radon test kit hub for western & central Ohio. Ohio homeowners can order a free test kit by clicking on the link below. To learn more about radon and how it affects your health, click on one of the links below or scroll down this page.

Free Radon Test Kits
Radon Resistant New Construction
Radon and Your Home

 

 

Free Radon Test Kits

The Ohio Department of Health offers FREE radon test kits to Ohio homeowners through a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

To order a free radon test kit and have it mailed to your home click on the orange link below!


Free Home Radon Test Kit 

 

If you are unable to complete the online form for any reason, please email us at contact@uchd.net or call us at (937) 642-2053 and we will ensure a test kit is ordered on your behalf. 

 

The FREE test kit is easy to use.
1. Place the test kit in the lowest living level of your home. That means a finished basement if your family spends time there or it may mean your first floor if you only use the basement for storage.

2. Leave the kit in place for three to seven days. 

3. Remove and discard the sponge from the kit. Seal the bag and mail to the testing company.

4. Your results will be mailed to you in about two weeks. The Ohio Department of Health also receives the results so that radon levels throughout the state can be tracked.

 If your home has radon levels over 4 picocuries per liter, mitigation is recommended. Mitigation costs can be several hundred dollars or more, but is important for the health of your family as exposure to Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The Ohio Department of Health has a list of all licensed Radon contractors which you can find by following this link.  If you have any questions, please call the Union County Health Department at (937) 642-2053 for more information on radon testing and mitigation.

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What you need to know about Radon

Due to naturally occurring high levels of Radon in the soils of Central Ohio, the EPA recommends all Union County homeowners test their home for radon.  Radon is a naturally occurring odorless/colorless gas that enters into a building that is in contact with the ground, like basements. Because it is a gas it can enter through many different avenues including cracks in the foundation of a home, construction joints and gaps around service piping. High levels of Radon are very dangerous and can cause serious health complications. The EPA states that Radon is the second leading cause of cancer in the general population and the leading cause among non-smokers. 

 

The average national indoor radon level is 1.3 pCi/L (picocurie per liter).
The average indoor radon levels of Union County, as determined by radon test results from Air Chek, Inc, is 4.9 pCi/L

    Results under 2 pCi/L

    Results between 2 and 3.9 pCi/L

    Results 4 pCi/L and above

 

*Graph and data from:  http://oh-radon.info/

 

 

 

 

 

Radon Resistant New Construction

 

New regulations take effect Jan. 1, 2015 requiring radon reduction systems in new homes constructed in Union County. If you are planning to build a new home, please review the following radon resistant new construction rules from the Union County Building Department. 

icon Radon-Standards,-Union-County-Building-Dept.

For information on radon levels in Union County and a report on the effectiveness of Radon Resistant New Construction, please download the Radon Resistant New Construction Report below. 

icon Radon-Resistant-New-Construction-Report

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Published in Radon