Unrefrigerated Caramel Apples May Pose Deadly Listeria Risk

Planning to indulge in a caramel apple this winter? You may want to eat it only if it’s freshly made or at least make sure it’s refrigerated, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute found that caramel apples punctured with dipping sticks and left unrefrigerated over the course of a couple of weeks may harbor Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium linked to a serious infection that can cause fever, headaches, gastrointestinal symptoms and sometimes death.

The study was prompted by a listeria outbreak in late 2014, in which thirty-five people from twelve states were infected, and seven people died. The outbreak was ultimately linked to prepackaged caramel apples, prompting severalmanufacturers to voluntarily recall their products.

The study found that inserting a stick into the apples causes a little bit of juice to migrate to the surface and that moisture, trapped under a layer of caramel, creates a microenvironment that facilitates growth of any L. monocytogenes cells already present on the apple’s surface.

This growth is accelerated at room temperature, as the study results showed a 1,000-fold increase of listeria monocytogenes on caramel apples with sticks that weren’t refrigerated for three days. Listeria growth was delayed on caramel apples without sticks stored at room temperature.

By contrast, the caramel apples with sticks had no listerial growth for up to a week when refrigerated, but over the next three weeks, some growth occurred. Those without sticks had no listerial growth over the four weeks they were refrigerated.

To be safe, it is recommended to eat caramel apples fresh or look for ones that are refrigerated.

Could Wearable “Artificial Kidney” Free Patients
of Dialysis Machines?

A small, experimental wearable device has moved a step closer to helping patients who rely on kidney dialysis.

For patients with kidney failure, the common treatment is to be hooked up to a dialysis machine at a hospital or clinic several times a week.

“I was very frustrated – I still am – because for decades, we’ve been doing dialysis with big machines that prolong the life of the patient a little bit … and in addition, they have a lousy quality of life,” said VictorGura, an associate clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Gura and his colleagues are developing the Wearable Artificial Kidney, or WAK, which would filter a patient’s blood continuously, instead of a few times a week. “This is to reduce a lot of the complications that make patients sick … (and) to give patients back their life,” such as allowing them to have jobs again, he said.

The researchers presented the results of a small trial of the device last month to the American Society of Nephrology. The trial involved seven patients in Seattle with
end-stage kidney disease who wore the device for twenty-four hours. During that time, the device removed water and salts from the blood at the same rate as healthy kidneys, and patients did not complain of discomfort or experience side effects, Gura said.

If the researchers continue to receive funding to conduct clinical trials and further develop the technology, Gura estimates that WAKdevices could be available for patients in two years.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last month that it would expedite the approval of the device once studies are able to demonstrate the device’s safety
and efficacy.

Coping With Anxiety
During Terror Threats

The headlines during the last couple of months are reminding psychologists of the anxiety and fear that followed the September 11thattacks.

Suicide bombers and shootings in Paris. Attacks in Beirut and Nigeria. Threatening videos and public officials holding news conferences. Diverted planes. Suspicious packages. Lockdowns on campuses and fear of mass shooters.

Terrorism’s unpredictable nature instills people with anxiety over the lack of control of their fate, Anne Marie Albano, a clinical psychologist and the director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, said in an interview.

“It’s becoming sort of everyday life,”
Dr. Albano said, “knowing that we cannot predict with good accuracy at all when something may happen.”

If you’re feeling anxious, here are a few ways to cope:

Limit Your Exposure To The Media– It is natural to want to follow along with incrementalupdates on the news. But it’s important to know that this can heighten your anxiety. Designating times to plug into the news can help you manage anxiety if you are feeling stressed. This will help you balance a realistic and credible threat with information that is sensationalized.

Take Deep Breaths– A guide to dealing with terrorism released by the FBI encourages closing your eyes and taking deep breaths to feel calmer. Taking a walk or talking to a close friend can also help.

Keep Your Daily Routine–Dr. Albano said that a primary worry in the field of psychology is people “going out of their way to be so safe that it shrinks their world.

“Terrorists thrive on this kind of thing,” she added. “They want to see the population change their practices.”

The antidote to this is for you and your family to stick to your regular daily routines.