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East Lansing community, Michigan State University students respond to Peanut Corp. of America salmonella outbreak

Posted by Hannah Emmert on February 27, 2009

About the salmonella outbreak

In mid-January, following several months of speculation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the link between a salmonella outbreak and peanut butter manufactured by Peanut Corp. of America. Since the first reported cases in September of last year, the outbreak is confirmed to have sickened 666 and killed 9. In Michigan, 36 people have been infected–the fifth highest number in the United States. Although the numbers are declining, the outbreak is expected to continue as people unknowingly eat recalled products. 

“The large number of products and brands recalled already, and the large quantities of some products recalled, makes this one of the largest food recalls ever in the United States.” -U.S. Food and Drug Administration

View video on how the East Lansing community has dealt with the outbreak.


Peanut Corp. of America: potential criminal charges

Since the strain of salmonella was traced to a Georgia-based peanut processing plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America, more and more information about the company’s questionable business practices have come to light. Federal health officials recently announced that the plant knowingly shipped the salmonella-tainted products, prompting the FBI to conduct a criminal investigation with the FDA. The cleanliness of PCA’s plants has been under scrutiny; in a Texas facility health officials discovered dead rodents, excrement and bird feathers. The company has been hit with several civil lawsuits and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Feb. 13, meaning the company will likely fold. 

CNN.com reports the troubling conditions of PCA's Texas-based plant. The company has since filed for bankruptcy.

CNN.com reports the troubling conditions of PCA's Texas-based plant. The peanut-processing company has since filed for bankruptcy.

East Lansing is impacted by salmonella fears

With Michigan among the highest in numbers for salmonella cases, with at least one confirmed in Ingham County, this national crisis hits close to home for East Lansing residents. Local businesses were forced to remove peanut products from their inventory after the recall, including the MSU Dairy Store. Workers at the Dairy Store in the MSU Union said although the peanut butter used in their ice cream was not on the FDA’s recall list the university still pulled it as a precaution. As a result, several flavors, including the highly popular Buckeye Blitz, weren’t available during the recall.

A worker at the MSU Dairy store scoops some Buckeye Blitz, a popular ice cream flavor that was recalled after the initial salmonella outbreak. Click on the image to hear how students responded to the recalls.

A worker at the MSU Dairy store scoops some Buckeye Blitz, a popular ice cream flavor that was recalled after the initial salmonella outbreak. Click on the image to hear how students responded to the recalls.

Other areas around the MSU campus also took precautions. All peanut products were removed from cafeterias, vending machines and Sparty’s Convenience Stores, prompting many students to change their diets as peanut butter no longer became available. [Click here to listen to students describe how they’ve responded to the recalls]

Zoom in to this map of MSU’s campus to see the eateries affected by the salmonella outbreak.


 

What kinds of food are affected?

Peanut Corp. of America does not sell directly to consumers, but to other companies for use in their products. The FDA said PCA’s tainted peanut butter and peanut paste “are common ingredients in cookies, crackers, cereal, candy, ice cream, pet treats, and other foods.” [Click here for the FDA’s list of recalled products related to the salmonella outbreak]

King Nut and Parnell's pride peanut butters are among the extensive list of recalled products. Popular peanut butter brands like Jiff and Skippy are not affected by the salmonella outbreak.

King Nut and Parnell's Pride peanut butters are among the extensive list of recalled products. Popular peanut butter brands like Jiff and Skippy are not affected by the salmonella outbreak.

Salmonella Information

Salmonella is a bacteria infection that causes a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Chills

These symptoms appear approximately eight to 72 hours after eating food contaminated with salmonella. The symptoms usually disappear with a week. Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. The UDSA provides useful information about what types of foods may contain salmonella, how to prevent it and what can be done to treat it. 

By Hannah Emmert, James Andersen, Cory Smith and Steve Kelm

 

 

Posted in Campus News, East Lansing News | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Student says Michigan State University makes recycling ‘trendy’

Posted by Hannah Emmert on February 6, 2009

Everywhere you look on the Michigan State University campus you see a reminder to reduce your environmental impact and recycle. The school’s efforts to “go green” have raised awareness of environmental issues and encouraged students to take similar action. 

Michigan State University advertising sophomore Jessica Halfyard said she thinks MSU’s efforts have been successful. She said the presence of the recycling bins have made her more likely to recycle not only because of the convenience they provide, but because of the “buzz” they create. She said the reminders have made recycling “trendy” by making it more of a prevalent issue. 

Halfyard added that the encouragement to be environmentally friendly has spread beyond issues of simply recycling white paper, newspapers and plastic bottles. She said her friends try to carpool more and that in her art class her instructor ensured materials like wood were reused. 

Click on the image below to hear a bit of what Halfyard had to say about how recycling has become trendy.

Advertising sophomore Jessica Halfyard discusses how MSU made recycling "trendy."

Advertising sophomore Jessica Halfyard discusses how MSU made recycling "trendy."

Posted in Campus News | 2 Comments »

Can bad economy be good for environment?

Posted by Hannah Emmert on February 4, 2009

Faced with a bleak job outlook and piles of debt, college students are feeling the pressure to save money more than ever. Lansing Community College junior Sara Hildreth, however, has managed to look at this in a positive light as she realized that her cost-cutting ways have inadvertently helped her reduce her environmental impact. 

Hildreth said her environmentally friendly practices are saving her around $100 per month. Here are a few of the steps she’s taken:

  • Riding the bus instead of driving
  • Using a filter instead of buying bottled water
  • Recycling cans to collect the deposit money
  • Turning lights off, keeping the heat down and leaving electronics unplugged when not in use to lower energy costs

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Sara Hildreth discusses how she's saving money in hard times.

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Turning unnecessary lights off helped Hildreth keep energy bills low.

For even more tips, read about “10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green” from worldwatch.org.

Posted in Campus News | 7 Comments »

Lagging U.S. economy affects jobs, lifestyles

Posted by Hannah Emmert on January 30, 2009

With recent reports that the U.S. economy suffered its greatest decline in GDP since 1982 at the end of 2008, people are growing more concerned about money issues. Students in the Communication Arts and Sciences building at MSU spoke about how their jobs and spending habits have been affected.

Posted in Campus News | 3 Comments »

Farm Lane underpass construction

Posted by Hannah Emmert on January 29, 2009

Since construction began on the Farm Lane underpass project in the fall of 2007, motorists have experienced the frustration of having to detour around a central road on Michigan State University’s campus.

According to MSU’s Web site, the project will lower Farm Lane under the two railway crossings that used to intersect the road. The site added that the aim of this construction is to improve the flow of traffic on this busy road by eliminating the backups caused by frequent passing trains. The underpass will reduce delays and increase safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

The underpass is expected to be complete in August.

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Red Cedar Log takes steps to ‘go green’

Posted by Hannah Emmert on January 29, 2009

 

 

The editors of Michigan State’s yearbook, the Red Cedar Log, have taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of the 2009 yearbook, the theme of which is “Go Green.”

The pages will be printed on 80 percent post-consumer product paper, the cover will be made of recycled cardboard and the leftover ink from the production process will be reused. MSU’s yearbook is among the largest in the nation—17,000 copies of the 400-page book are printed annually—meaning these small steps will make a big difference.

Lyn Vito, the business manager for the Red Cedar Log, has had to deal with the stress of budgeting the extra costs associated with a green yearbook. However, she said despite the extra hours she’s had to put in, she thinks it will be worth it in the end. 

Posted in Campus News | 4 Comments »