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spice-1383075_1920Many small food manufacturers make fresh delicacies to sell in local markets. Many such products incorporate spices into recipes. In most cases herbs and spices originate in foreign countries with low food safety records and because of this many potentially harmful bacteria or molds can be found in spices, usually in the dormant spore stage. When we add spices to products, particularly products that are raw or immersed in spice mixtures, we provide bacterial spores with the conditions that they need to develop into bacteria by providing them with temperature, water and a food source. I have bought products that look very tempting. Prepared beautifully in decorative jars which have been topped up with extra virgin olive oil, only to find, upon opening the jar that the contents have fermented. This is evident by the release of gas as it literally fizzes into a froth at the top of the open jar.

It is totally evident that the people making these products used non irradiated spices. At least, this is the most common cause. For a few dollars extra any spice can be bought from suppliers that supply irradiated spices. This ensures that all organic contaminants are totally neutralized. The taste of the spice isn’t effected greatly in this process either. It may even have a fresher taste than spices that have not been irradiated. My advice to all food vendors and food preparers is to use irradiated spice and to distance yourselves from the chance of product contamination or fermentation.

traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

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Most of us in the western world think of dysentery or “Shigella” as a disease of the summer months. Have you ever thought why? Firstly, is it true? Is dysentery a disease of the summer months?

Ok, now I’m going to confuse you a little more because the answer is yes and no. No because dysentery is not only a disease of the summer months and yes because it is mostly proliferated throughout the western world during the summer months, but why?

Dysentery is a disease that is spread via contaminated food and water. A lot of our summer produce is picked in warmer regions of the world where the water sourses osed to irrigate and to wash produce before packing may not be of the best quality and may contain many contaminants. In addition, workers who pick and pack produce may be carriers of certain types of dysentery causing bacteria.

Another major cause of dysentery during summer months for westerner’s is travelling to warmer climates. Whereas locals in many areas of the world may have developed immunities to many bacterial and protozoic species, all of these may be new for us. By being tempted to eat as the locals do we are often exposing ourselves to sources of food and water contamination.

Dysentery is caused by several major causes lets have a look at a couple of them.

Bacterial Dysentery. Bacterial dysentery is caused primarily by the bacterium Shigella dysenteriae. The disease it causes is called shigellosis. This bacterium is a gram negative, non motile, rod shaped, non spore forming facultative anaerobic species that produces a toxin called shiga toxin which is what causes the reaction which we know as dysentery.

Allow me to translate that mouthful of scientific jargon for you. Firstly Gram testing is a form of bacterial staining devised by a man called Mr. Gram which adheres to proteinous outer shells but not to fatty shells. As the vast majority of gram negative bacteria have a Lipopolysaccharide outer shell the dye will not stick, therefore the bacteria are classified as gram negative. Non motile means that they have no mechanism by which they can propel themselves within the medium they are in. Non spore forming means that the bacterium does not have the capability of reducing it’s structural size to permit it to survive periods when conditions are not suitable for bacterial growth, hibernating in short. Facultative anaerobic means that it can live in an oxygen rich environment or in one which is void of oxygen. It is usually when in the anaerobic phase that facultative bacteria will produce their toxins.

The symptoms of dysentery are high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration. Shega toxin is a potentially deadly toxin. Patients with dysentery may experience projectile diarrhoea and projectile vomiting simmultaneously. This is a very unpleasant condition which I have experienced personally. With this disease fluid intake is vital even if that means via infusion and a strict hygiene regeme is vital to rule out the possibility of re infection. Recovery usually takes anything between one to two weeks but in many areas of the world high mortality is common due to improper conditions with which to treat this condition. Mortality rate is particularly high in children and the elderly.

Amoebic Dysentery. This form of dysentery is also spread by the ingestion of contaminated food and water. It is caused by a cyst forming amoebic species. The disease is called intestinal amoebiasis.

This disease is most common in the developing world but not only. One case was reported in St. Petersburg which is quite close to the artic circle. Both bacterial and Ameobic Dysentery are prevelant in developing countries and often get confused. Most cases of travellers dysentary are in fact bacterial or viral in origin. Amoebic dysentery is a parasitical disorder and will not be effected by antibiotics. This form of dysentery may cause infection and enlargening of the liver and blood in stools. Other symptoms remain very much the same as in bacterial dysentery. Metronidazole is the preferred treatment for Amoebic Dysentaty.

Note. Not all species of amoebae are cyst forming.

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