The announcement comes in the wake of a string of high-profile E coli outbreaks in recent months that were clearly or possibly linked to fresh produce. A September outbreak traced to fresh spinach sickened more than 200 people, and lettuce was suspected in separate outbreaks linked to Taco Bell and Taco John’s restaurants later in the fall. Determine the potential for E coli to be internalized into lettuce or spinach A scientific advisory panel assembled by the company has chosen five research priorities and will evaluate research proposals and disseminate findings, the company said in a Jan 17 news release. The panel is chaired by Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP Web site. Other members are Dr. Jeff Farrar, California Department of Health Services; Dr. Bob Buchanan, US Food and Drug Administration; Dr. Robert Tauxe, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Bob Gravani, Cornell University; and Dr. Craig Hedberg, University of Minnesota. Jan 19, 2007 (CIDRAP News) Fresh Express, a California company that produces bagged salads and other produce products, announced this week it would provide up to $2 million for research on how to keep Escherichia coli O157:H7 out of fresh produce. The scientific advisory panel, composed of unpaid volunteers, has been meeting since May 2006 to pick the most important research gaps concerning the “source, mode of action and life cycle” of E coli O157:H7 in fresh produce, Fresh Express said. Identify new strategies and technologies to reduce the potential for E coli to contaminate leafy green produce Fresh Express said none of its products have ever been shown to have caused an illness outbreak, but the company decided to fund the research and share the results in the hope of benefiting both the produce industry and consumers. Determine the ability of E coli to survive composting processes “We systematically used our individual areas of expertise to scrutinize the entire supply chain and ultimately uncover the areas where we collectively agreed more research was necessary,” Osterholm commented in the news release. “From this process, the five critical research priorities began to emerge fairly constantly.” The chosen research priorities are as follows: Determine the ability of E coli to multiply in the presence of normal background flora following the harvest of produce such as lettuce and spinach Conduct field studies to identify sources, vehicles, and factors that affect the extent of E coli contamination of leafy green produce “Funding is available immediately, and all proposals will be reviewed against guidelines established independently by this scientific advisory panel,” the company said. “The panel is empowered, without restriction by Fresh Express, to review proposals, make funding decisions and monitor and disseminate research results.” See also: Jan 17 Fresh Express news releasehttp://freshexpress.biz/assets/news/freshnews/pr070118a.pdf
Statewide— Duke Energy is warning its customers to be on guard against phone calls from scammers who are demanding that utility customers pay their electric bill immediately or risk having their electric service disconnected within the hour.Typically, the customer receives an unsolicited phone call—sometimes an automated call– from an individual who falsely claims to be a Duke Energy representative demanding immediate payment, usually in the form of a prepaid debit card. Scammers have even duplicated the Duke Energy upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate Duke Energy phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller-ID spoofing to replicate a utility’s customer service number.Red flags for scam activityThe caller becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due, and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within the hour.The caller instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy.The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.The customer has received no other notice from Duke Energy that an account is overdue.How to protect yourselfDuke Energy never asks or requires a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card – or iTunes card — to avoid disconnection.Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, or mail.Customers with delinquent accounts receive advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.Customers who suspect or experience fraud or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local law enforcement authorities and then the Duke Energy Indiana phone number listed on their bill (800.521.2232). Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.Customers can get more scam and fraud prevention information at Duke Energy’s Fraud and Scams web page by clicking here.
By all accounts, Sacramento State junior gymnast Nicole Giao is quiet. Standing 5-foot-1, the Etiwanda graduate doesn’t jump out at you physically either. But once Giao gets out on the floor and is ready to compete, the small, quiet gymnast classification gets thrown for a loop. In a sport known for its smooth, classical movements to symphonic, easy-listening music, Giao breaks loose, performing to hard rock/metal groups such as Metallica. Picturing a female gymnast performing doesn’t exactly bring the lyrics of “Enter Sandman” to mind. But Sacramento State coach Kim Hughes thinks it makes perfect sense. “If you know Nicole, you aren’t surprised,” Hughes said. “She is a quiet leader, but she also has a toughness about her. She doesn’t talk much, but when she does, people listen.” Giao, who performed at Crescenta Valley Gymnastics in San Dimas while attending Etiwanda High School, is one of the Hornets’ co-captains as they attempt to win a second straight Western Athletic Conference title. To get in position to do that, Giao has had to overcome a sprained ankle in mid-January that sidelined her for four meets spanning nearly a month. “The injury was pretty tough on me,” Giao said. “It was one of those things where I was just in practice right before we were supposed to go to Alaska-Anchorage and I landed wrong and the ankle rolled. “I just had to wait it out and make sure that it healed properly. I missed the trip to Alaska, but I’m feeling good now and I’m almost all the way back.” Giao has been working her way back slowly, competing in the vault and balance beam in meets against Seattle Pacific and Alaska Anchorage before reintroducing the floor exercise at Feb. 23 at San Jose State. Giao registered season-high marks in all three events against San Jose, scoring a 9.775 on the floor, 9.725 on the beam and 9.700 on the vault. That puts her in perfect position to be 100 percent for the WAC championships March 31 in Cedar City, Utah. That is pretty stellar considering the nature of Giao’s injury. A sprained ankle is a bigger deal in gymnastics than most other sports, as the stress on the joints is severe even when the body is relatively healthy. “I’m pretty sore in general, so the ankle was just another pain I had to overcome,” Giao said. “It’s pretty normal at this point. I’ve been doing gymnastics as long as I can remember so it’s not that big of a deal.” Giao’s high threshold for pain comes from adding mental toughness to go along with being physically tough. The Sacramento State gymnastics team meets with a sports psychologist weekly to work on mental visualizations in certain routines, especially balance beam and floor exercise. When arriving on campus in the fall of 2004, Giao was skeptical of meeting with a sports psychologist. But after a few meetings, she was hooked. “I find it fascinating,” Giao said. “I thought it sounded weird at first, but I’m pretty open-minded about things so I gave it a chance. “I’m really glad that I did. If there’s anything I’ve learned in college it’s how important the mental aspect of gymnastics is. Visualizing my routine before I go out there really helps me focus.” The sessions might have also created a career path for Giao. She quickly took an interest in psychology, selecting it as her major early in her college career. Giao would like to delve into sports psychology when she is done with school, perhaps giving the assistance that she has enjoyed at Sacramento State. “It’s been great for me and I’d like to be able to have that impact on other athletes,” Giao said. “I’d love to help people, whether it be with sports or other aspects of life.” Giao’s mental acuity has been noticed by her coach. When recruiting Giao, Hughes – in his 27th year at Sacramento State – saw a girl that was awkwardly shy at times. But thanks to growth, through psychology and aided by having a big group of gymnasts in her recruiting class, Giao has blossomed nicely at Sacramento State. “Nicole is just a well-rounded, hard-working person who excels athletically, and more importantly, academically,” Hughes said. “It’s great to see her come into her own in school and in the gym. “When she first got here, she was quiet. She still isn’t loud, but she’ll come into my office and we’ll have a great conversation. It’s really great to see.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!