Helpful tips for August 2015

Hello there and welcome to our weekly feature of all kinds of tips.
We at the business desk are pleased to bring you our weekly feature of a
plethora of tips that cover a wide range of topics.
All of our tips are designed to help you save time, cut down on your
research, and help you get ahead.
So go ahead and read on.
This week we bring you our monthly tips.
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Helpful tips for August 2015

In this issue:

General tips
Articles of the day
From the pages of Donna’s travel diary

General tips
Courtesy of the research team at

What is Pentheraphobia?
Pentheraphobia is the persistent fear of your mother-in-law.

A fact about the ostrich:
The ostrich doesn’t stick its head underground to hide from predators. It
bends its neck down low and flattens its head against the ground.

Something about dogs!
Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field
Dogs Poop in Alignment with Earth’s Magnetic Field.
Source: “36 facts about Dogs

Something interesting to know about sesame seeds:
75% of all sesame seeds grown in Mexico end up on McDonald’s hamburger

Something about commuting:
If your morning commute to work is 20 minutes or less, it’s below the
national average.
New Yorkers have some of the longest commutes, averaging 40 minutes.

About African termites:
African termites actually cultivate a species of fungus, Termitomyces.

About Penicillin:
Penicillin is made growing the appropriate species of mold on
nutrients; the active compound is then extracted from the culture fluid and

Here’s something interesting to know about why oil is deadly for birds!
When oil comes in contact with the feathers of birds it removes the water
proofing from them.
This leaves them quite vulnerable and exposed to sure death.

About White chocolate:
So-called white chocolate isn’t chocolate in the technical sense – it is
comprised of cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no actual chocolate.

An interesting tip about carousels:
As a rule, European carousels rotate clockwise, while American
merry-go-rounds spin

About gum:
Despite your mother’s dire warnings, chewing gum doesn’t stay in your
stomach for years if you swallow
it. It gets digested and disposed of just as quickly as anything else you


Articles of the day
Chosen by the Business Desk team

A Dan Thompson contribution

What do we really know about chemicals in food Packaging?
By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director
Even if you grow your own veggies and shop for as much as you can at a
farmers’ market, chances are some of your food is
packaged. While there has been considerable focus of late on the ingredients
in packaged food-what they are, are they safe?-
there has been less on what the actual packaging is, and if it’s safe. This
is a subject that is likely to take off in the year(s) ahead,
as there are a substantial number of chemicals in these materials, all
constantly in contact with our food. For some clarity, we
reached out to
Dr. Birgit Geueke
, Scientific Officer, at the Zurich-based Food Packaging Forum for her take.
Read on to learn
about chemical migration, the unexpected hazards involved with recycled food
packaging materials, and what parents can do to
help protect their children.
1. Almost no food comes unpackaged these days. Are the various things being
used for everything from cheese to meat to
dried pasta truly safe? What are the concerns?
Food packaging allows the efficient handling, transport and storage of food,
helps preventing food spoilage, and is a very suitable
marketing tool. On the other hand, food packaging may release its chemical
components into the food and thereby contaminate
the food with chemicals. Many thousand chemicals are used to produce
materials coming into contact with food during handling,
storage, and packaging. By far not all of these chemicals have been tested
for their safety. The safe use of many of the authorized
chemicals may also be questioned according to new toxicological data. In
addition, packaging materials usually contain non-
intentionally added chemicals, which arise from impurities of the raw
material, unwanted reaction products or break-down products.
These chemicals add to the list of possible contaminants that may be
released into the food. The majority of consumers are not
aware of this issue, which we call chemical migration, and assume that food
packaging is completely safe.
2. Who is studying food packaging? Are there any studies out there showing
that farm to table eating-which involves very
little food packaging-decreases the amount of food packaging chemicals found
in our bodies and/or blood?
Many different interest groups are involved, e.g., food producers who want
to extend the shelf life of their products or use the
packaging for marketing purposes, packaging manufacturers who have to
persist on a highly competitive market, legislators who
set the regulatory framework, researchers who aim at innovative packaging
solutions, consumer organizations who help to secure
safe and sustainable packaging solutions.
exist relating the contribution of packaging to the amount of specific
chemicals measured in the bodies. Researchers reported decreased levels of
BPA and phthalates in pregnant women of the Old Order Mennonite Community,
compared to pregnant women of a U.S.-wide survey. The consumption of fresh
produce, which was not prepackaged or processed, was identified to be one of
the reasons for the decreased levels of chemicals in the women from the
community. In a second study, levels of BPA and one specific phthalate
(DEHP) could be significantly reduced after three days of eating food with
limited food packaging. However, not all phthalate levels could be decreased
by this kind of diet, which might be explained by other sources of
phthalates such as cosmetics or indoor air. In these cases, the differences
in exposure caused by the packaging-
free diet may have been too small to be measured.
3. We hear a fair amount about the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A
(BPA) in can linings, what are other issues
with food packaging the general public should be aware of?
Linings protect the cans from corrosion and the can’s content from
contamination with dissolved metals. During the last years
companies started to replace BPA linings and now label their cans as
BPA-free. The consumer is usually not informed about the
new material that is used instead. Alternative linings can be based on
compounds very similar to BPA such as bisphenol F (BPF)
and bisphenol S (BPS). Unfortunately, these chemicals substituting BPA have
similar toxicological properties. In general, it would
be desirable to have an open discussion on the safety of alternatives
instead of simply stating that one chemical of concern was
removed from the packaging.
Another issue I would like to refer to is recycling of food packaging
materials. Although recycling reduces the amount of waste and
saves resources, it can introduce unwanted chemicals into our packaging. In
2013, researchers found polybrominated flame
retardants in
black plastic
items used for food packaging. These persistent and bioaccumulative flame
retardants probably
originated from waste electric and electronic equipment that was illegally
fed into the recycling streams. A second example refers
to the high concentrations of mineral oils in recycled paper and board,
which are usually not removed during recycling processes.
Mineral oils
easily migrate from such packaging materials into the food. One solution,
which would fail at the aspect of
sustainability, could be the use of only fresh fiberboard for the production
of food packaging. Further solutions could be the
introduction of barriers that prevent migration of mineral oils or the use
of alternative printing inks.
4. What should be done to improve the safety of food packaging?
Gaps exist in the legislation for food packaging worldwide, which should be
filled. Scientists identified new challenges in
toxicological research during the last years, which are currently not
sufficiently considered during chemical risk assessment. These
tasks include, e.g., endocrine disrupting chemicals, critical periods of
development and mixture toxicity. At first, endocrine
disrupting chemicals may interfere with the hormone system and cause a
variety of severe diseases, but they are not routinely
assessed. Many endocrine disrupting chemicals are known to be used in the
production of food contact materials and may migrate
into the food. Secondly, especially unborn children or infants may be easily
harmed by chemicals during these critical periods of
development. Thirdly, classical risk assessment of chemicals usually looks
at only one chemical at a time. This does not reflect
reality, because we are steadily exposed to highly complex mixtures of
chemicals. It is very difficult to judge, whether these
chemicals interfere with each other or if they act just on their own.
Although these three developments in toxicology have not been
included in the standard risk assessment of food contact materials so far,
the awareness towards these issues is steadily growing.
5. What can parents do to safeguard their kids against potentially harmful
substances in food packaging? Heat is known
to increase migration of chemicals into food, so not microwaving in plastic
is a good tip for families. But what about
cold? Are frozen foods that come in plastic bags safe from the chemicals in
that plastic?
It is true that the migration rate of chemicals from the packaging into the
food is increased at hot temperatures. This also means
that the chemical migration rate is decreased during the storage period in
the freezer. However, we have to consider that the food
may have been filled into its packaging when it was still hot or that it was
even heated in the packaging before freezing. Further,
the packaging of the frozen food may also be recommended for heating in the
microwave or oven. Under these conditions, the
alleged advantage of reduced chemical migration during freezing might be
easily neutralized.
Parents may prepare meals with fresh and unprocessed products. When buying
packaged food, they also may have a look at the
packaging size: instead of buying four or six little portions of a certain
food (e.g. yogurt), it may make sense to buy one big portion.
This will reduce the surface-to-volume ratio, which is directly linked to
the total amount of chemical migration. And of course it will
also reduce the amount of waste.


From the pages of Donna’s travel diary
Traveling with a blind companion

Trust me when I tell you that this could be one of the more challenging but
at the same time rewarding experiences. When both of us are unable to see
enough to find our way, we have to use our skills, depend on each other,
and be brave about it.

Firstly, we need to ensure that the airline knows that we need help. When
we land at our destination, we have to ensure that we get help to find our
luggage and then a cab to the hotel and when we get to the hotel we have to
ensure that we can find our way to and from our room.

I have a few pointers for those blind persons who wish to travel together.
1. Inform the airline that you need assistance all the way. Because you are
unable to use the self-checkin at the kiosks, it is always a wise idea to
show up even a bit earlier than the normal checkin time.
2. Make sure that you identify yourself to the agents at the desk. You
would need to ensure that the person bringing you to the airport could at
least find you a porter who can take you up to the desk.
3. Make sure that you have requested the same type of help at your
4. At the hotel, it may be wise to request a room on one of the lower floors
to avoid any complications with the elevators.
5. If there are no Braille or large print labels on the door to your room,
then you may want to place some tape on your door to help with the
identification process.
6. Never hesitate to ask the front desk for help. They are almost always
very helpful.
7. Most hotel rooms are almost always laid out in the same way so once you
get the hang of it, it should not be too difficult.

I hope this helps and you can learn more about how blind persons travel by
going to

I’m Donna J. Jodhan enjoying my travels.
On your next trip you could enrich your down time with some of my audio
mysteries. Take them with you wherever you go!
In the car, on the plane, on the bus or train, at the beach, anywhere!
Affordable, portable, (computer or i device) and you could either purchase
or Subscribe for unlimited access to my library at
and you can now take advantage of our free downloads here.

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