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Protect Your Family From Botulism

By Carol Church, Writer, Family Album

Reviewed by Amarat Simonne, PhD, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida

What do you know about botulism? Personally, just hearing the word makes me feel a bit nervous. Recently, an outbreak of foodborne botulism after a church potluck has many us thinking about this severe illness. At least 21 people have been hospitalized, and tragically, one has died. Home-canned potatoes are suspected to have been the source.

Although botulism is significantly less common than other foodborne illnesses (about 100 cases per year in the US), it can be extremely serious. The death rate is about 3 to 5%. Most cases in the US today occur in babies (infant botulism).

What is Botulism?

Follow this link to read article


Cancer Control Month

As much as one third of all cancer cases in the US can be linked to poor diet, limited exercise, and obesity. Small healthy lifestyle changes made daily can become lifelong habits for good health. Here are a few ways to begin taking those small steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

  • Antioxidants in foods do more than look pretty.  Eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors may be the key to good nutrition; this is because of the phytochemicals in the foods often called antioxidants. These pigmented fruits and vegetables provide nutrients such as orange caratonoids, which are important for healthy vision and red lycopene that promote good heart health. Eating a diet high in antioxidant foods may help to prevent or delay some types of cell damage and reduce cancer risks.



  • Fiber, the multipurpose cancer fighter. Eating foods to get at least 30g of fiber per day can help to protect against certain cancers such as colorectal cancer and can prevent some chronic diseases. Fiber can be soluble, meaning it dissolves in water e.g. oatmeal; or insoluble, not dissolving in water e.g. seeds. A diet high in fiber will help you feel full after meals, help control body weight, promote a healthy bowel movement, and protects the colon. Remember to slowly increase fiber amounts daily and drink plenty of water to avoid discomfort.

  • Limit consumption of red meat and avoid processed meat.  Try to consume less than 18 ounces of red meat per week as this kind of meat has been shown to have a link with certain cancers; red meats include beef, pork, and lamb. Select smaller portions of red meat when dining out or shopping for foods. Research has shown a link between processed meats and certain types of cancer. Avoid eating or limit the amount of processed meats such as, deli meats, bacon, and hotdogs. You can try replacing these meats with lean poultry, fish, eggs, and tofu.



Incorporating some of these diet recommendations may seem hard at first but, with consistency and making very small habit changes at a time, they can become part of your daily healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet and being physically active are more important than ever. Listed below is a Beta-carotene Blast Smoothie that is full of fruits, veggies, fiber and even some protein!

Beta Blast Smoothie

  • 4-6oz. Mango (fresh, peeled, pitted)
  • 2 small Carrots (grated or chopped)
  • 6oz Milk
  • Place all ingredients in blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  • Add more milk as needed to desired thickness.

*Add a few handfuls of spinach to make this a green smoothie!


National Institute of Health. Antioxidants 2014. Accessed March 9, 2015.
National Institute of Health. Diet and Cancer 2013. Accessed March 9, 2015
American Institute for Cancer Research. Get Facts On Fiber 2012. Accessed March 9, 2015.
American Institute for Cancer Research. Red and Processed Meats: The Cancer Connection 2011. Accessed March 10, 2015.


Blue Bell Recalls Single-Serve Ice Cream Cups Due to Listeria Risk

Bluebell Ice CreamMarch 24, 2015
Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, TX, is recalling 3-oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups — chocolate, strawberry and vanilla — with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

There have been no reported illnesses to date.

On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, KS. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, OK, plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold through retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.

The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming via food service accounts.
Follow this link to read entire article


   Celebrating National Nutrition Month®        

March is National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education event sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  This campaign was established to emphasize the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in regards to diet and exercise. 

The 2015 theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”, encourages people to revert to the basics of healthy eating.  The primary messages this year are to eat fewer calories, make educated decisions about the food we eat, and to incorporate physical activity in our daily routine.


Use National Nutrition Month® as a spring board to adopt healthy habits throughout the year.  Follow these tips to help you get started:

  • Mindful Snacking- Avoid snacking when you are bored, angry or stressed. Plan snacks ahead of time and pre-portion the amount you will have to avoid overeating.
  • Increase fiber intake- Try eating a piece of fruit in the morning rather than drinking a glass of juice to increase your fiber and reduce your sugar intake.
  • Reducing saturated fat- Remove skin from poultry before cooking.  Try using lean cuts of beef such as round, top round, round tip, bottom round and top sirloin.
  • Cooking at home- When you prepare your meals, you can control how your food is cooked.  For vegetables, try steaming, boiling or baking.  When cooking meat, roasting, baking, broiling or grilling will remove some of the fat. 
  • Get moving! -  Even small amounts of activity will add up over time.  If 30 minutes of walking seems overwhelming, start with 10 minutes and increase the duration as you feel more comfortable. 

National Nutrition Month®: Eat Right Pro. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Website.
Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle. Eat Right Pro. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Website.
Nutrition Health and Fitness: Fiber in Your Diet.  University of Florida IFAS Extension.
Nutrition Health and Fitness: Fat in Your Diet. University of Florida IFAS Extension.
Healthy Living: Barriers to Physical Activity. University of Florida IFAS Extension.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness

Tax identity theft typically happens when a scammer files a fraudulent tax return using another individual’s social security number, receiving a refund electronically. A consumer typically discovers they have been a victim of tax identity theft when they go to file their own tax return, only to be informed by the Internal Revenue Service that a return has already been filed in their name.

The IRS uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to make sure your filing is accurate and complete, and that you get any refund you are due. Identity theft can affect how your tax return is processed. An unexpected notice or letter from the IRS could alert you that someone else is using your SSN; however, the IRS doesn't start contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text or social media message that asks for personal or financial information. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to
If someone uses your SSN to file for a tax refund before you do, the IRS might think you already filed and got your refund. When you file your return later, IRS records will show the first filing and refund, and you’ll get a notice or letter from the IRS saying more than one return was filed for you.

If someone uses your SSN to get a job, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN. When you file your tax return, you won’t include those earnings. IRS records will show you failed to report all your income. The agency will send you a notice or letter saying you got wages but didn’t report them. The IRS doesn’t know those wages were reported by an employer you don’t know.

Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft

If you think someone used your SSN for a tax refund or a job — or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem — contact the IRS immediately at IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.

Elderly Mortgage Assistance Program

In February 2010, US Treasury created the "Housing Finance Agency (HFA) Innovation Fund for the Hardest-Hit Housing Markets" and allocated funds under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) to five states: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada. Click here for more information.

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