How to Prevent Superheating and Liquid Explosion

I have been using microwave oven lately to prepare hot water for coffee and tea. Until, someone told me it is dangerous. The liquid might undergo the phenomenon known as superheating, which creates an explosion like action when taken out. The hot liquid rushing out of the container is the dangerous thing. It will scorch every flesh on its path.

What is superheating? Water should boil at 100°C. However, sometimes the expectation never happens. The water or other homogeneous liquid, like tea and coffee, might reached 100°C or go beyond without bubble formation. There are times when the liquid surface tension (force) is enough to suppress it. Then the liquid bursts suddenly when disturbed by taking it off the oven or dropping any object in it.

How to prevent?

1) Never use any vessel with very smooth surface. Tiny air packets usually clung to rough or scratchy surface. The air packets help initiate bubble formation.

2) Avoid heating liquid that has been left undisturbed for a considerable time.Perhaps it has been degassed and has a greater chance of superheating.

3) Avoid reheating of previously heated water. Repeated heating encourages degassing, making it prone to superheating.

4) Drop a clean bamboo or wooden stick to water. It provides sufficient amount of air pockets and ensures bubble formation.

Water over a gas or electric stove may also superheat.

Bt (Cry) Toxins, Found Harmful To Mice Blood

Recent study results conducted by Bélin Poletto Mezzomo et. al, has pegged the Bt toxins and plants with the said Bt gene into deeper controversy.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a microbiological control agent. It produces entomopathogenic toxins, the insecticidal crystal proteins or simply the Cry proteins namely Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac or Cry2A. It function as natural biological control agent. Its application was simplified by incorporating the Bt gene, which produces toxins, to plants, like corn and egg plant. GMO plants gained the ability to produce their own toxin thus worms die after feeding on any plant part.

Bt toxins act as soon as it reached the alkaline stomach of worms, or agricultural pest from the Hymenoptera, Homoptera, Orthoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera and Lepdoptera Orders. Mammalian stomach is acid, so the cry protein effect is expected minimal or generally safe. However, results of this study is speaking the reverse.

“Results showed that the Bt spore-crystals genetically modified to express individually Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac or Cry2A can cause some hematological risks to vertebrates, increasing their toxic effects with long-term exposure.”

Authors suggested further studies….

source: Mezzomo BP, Miranda-Vilela AL, Freire IdS, Barbosa LCP, Portilho FA, et al. (2013) Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as Spore-crystal
Strains Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac or Cry2Aa in Swiss Albino Mice. J Hematol Thromb Dis 1: 104. doi:10.4172/jhtd.1000104

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Neonicotinoid Ban To Help Honeybee Industry

Not later than July first of this year 2013, the whole European continent may ban the use of neonicotinoid containing pesticides.

To date, it is the most popular class of pesticides. Even non lethal doses are able to adversely affect bee navigation system resulting  to stress and increase chances of conceiving disease.  The colony collapse disorder pestering North America and Europe is pointing to the said substance.

I never have a list of pesticides containing neonicotinoids but to give you a hint, any of the following substances included in the ingredient listing means the pesticide contains the bee-harming chemical:

1) thiamethoxam
2) thiacloprid
3) clothianidin
4) dinotedfuran
5) acetamiprid
7) imidacloprid

Pesticide application is one of the worst bee enemy. Please stop using neonicotinoids containing pesticides or just limit it to plants not loved by bees. Let the bees continue their work,  pollinate our crops and give us sweet honey.

bee on a wild sun flower

Magic Sugar on The Track Again After Over a Decade of Ban

June 14, 2011, I cited the news about the magic sugar. Manila Health Department raided some places in attempt to caught and further prevent the trade of product with magic sugar as sweetener, Chesto Cola, for example.

Prior, FDA Philippines had an advisory. The BFAD Advisory No. 00-05, Dated August 07, 2000. The advisory was prohibiting the use and trade of magic sugar (neotogen, sodium cyclamate) due to some evidence suggesting the substance is carcinogenic to animals.

April 15, 2013, FDA Philippines released another advisory. FDA Advisory number 2013-009, with the subject, “FDA allows the use of magic sugar but requires all importers, traders and distributors to secure FDA authorization”. The decision was in accordance with Codex General Standard for Food Additives 192-1995. Reviews conducted by WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JEFCA) and European Food Safety Authority found no safety concerns among millions of consumers.

Magic sugar use on foods differs from 250mg/kg to 3000mg/kg. See the cylamates section of these Codex Standard for reference.

source one, source two

Losing Meat Identity and DNA Based Detection

Different meat types can be easily distinguished from each other when raw. One of the most prominent and easily identifiable features is color. Chicken is white, pork is pale red (pinkish) and beef is dark red.

The next two prominent characteristics come into play when the meat are cooked, the texture and flavor. Chicken is the softest, followed by pork, and the beef being the toughest. Each has its own unique flavor after application of simple processing methods, frying, sauteing, broiling and boiling. Anyone can identify it easily by using the sense of taste.

Then, the combinations of following techniques make the difference in between meat blur, to a point in which identification and differentiation is near to impossible.

1) Comminuting. Fine grinding.
2) Drying.  Driving away moisture that also takes away essential flavors and nutrients.
3) Addition of colors. Examples are tocino and corned beef.
4) High temperature treatment. Pressure canning, boiling.
5) Shredding. Cutting to chunks and separating the strands. Common example is corned beef.
6) Powdering. The combination of items 1 and 2. Instant cooking mixes.
7) Addition of too many flavors, either natural or artificial. As of date, foods with less than five items as ingredients are rare finds.
8) Mixing with other meat types.  Another meat types can be hidden if mixed with other types or larger amounts, carabeef and horse meat are popular beef replacement.

Example products:

1) Instant meat flavors in cubes or powder.
2) Hotdogs, sausages and reformed hams
3) meat patties
4) kikiam, meat balls and veggie balls
5) shredded meat such as corned beef

When a certain meat looses its identity or intentionally processed to deceived customers, there is still a way to detect fake and adulterated products and penalize the culprits. It is the DNA testing. Here are some infos.

DNA testing has a superior detection limit and has almost 100% specificity. It involves PCR or polymerase chain reaction. Sections of DNA samples or primers  are bound to specific DNA and are copied million of times until sufficient amount is gathered for comparison with the known standard. (www.foodprocessing.com.au)

DNA is a double helix  structure. It is much like a zipper that could be easily separated but more difficult to destroy. Denaturation temperature is over 200 ° F (near boiling point). Actual destruction start when these reach the stomach where acids and enzymes break the bonds, thus converting DNA (proteins) to its components amino acids. (askville.amazon.com)

Eurofins is offering meat species testing, the DNA testing of meat products entering the UK. The main purpose of testing is detection of products with undeclared meat ingredients and help suppressed the ongoing meat adulteration scandal where beef products were found to have undeclared horse meat. Real-Time PCR and DNA Sequencing are done on beef, pork, goat, sheep, horse, turkey and chicken meat. (eurofins.co.uk)

Assuring a Clostridium botulinum Free Low Acid Food

I found this short paragraph from the, “Complete Home Canning Guide”, interesting. See my reaction can be found after the duplicate.

If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal. Boiling food 10 minutes at altitudes below 1,000 feet destroys this poison when it is present. For altitudes at and above 1,000 ft, add one additional minute per 1,000 feet additional elevation. Caution: To prevent the risk of botulism, low-acid and tomato foods not canned according to the recommendations should be boiled as above, even if you detect no signs of spoilage. All low-acid food canned according to the approved recommendations may be eaten without boiling them when you are sure of all the following:

1)  Food was processed in a pressure canner
2) Gauge of the pressure canner was accurate
3) Up-to-date researched process times and pressures were used for the size of jar, style of pack, and kind of food being canned.
4) The process time and pressure recommended for sterilizing the food at your altitude was followed.

5) Jar lid is firmly sealed and concave
6) Nothing has leaked from the jar

7) No liquid spurts out when the jar is opened.
8) No unnatural or “off” odors can be detected.

Numbers one to four can only be known and assure if:

a) The manufacturer is willing and will honestly include each product processing information. Printed legibly as part of label or on a separate sheet. The separate information sheet is included as part of the product package and could be read by customer before purchase.

b) Regulatory authorities is regularly monitoring the manufacturer’s activities and assuring its conformity to set standards.

c) The company has an advanced and efficient QA and RD division.

Items 5 and 6 could be easily inspected by buyers. Anyone cannot go wrong if he look closely and diligently.

The lasts number 7 and 8 could only be detected upon opening the jar which requires paying for the item first. Unlucky if the liquid spurts and unnatural color and odors are detected. Still consider yourself lucky if you have not tasted it first.

Regarding the relationship between altitudes and boiling times, I have never studied it during college and have never applied it in actual. I think it needs a deeper digging.