Category: Human Health

By: Nancy Ooki, University of Hawaii at Manoa

The recent attention to the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus serves as an excellent opportunity to remind our stakeholders of easy, simple actions that can impact their health greatly. Guidelines have been released with the goal of preventing the spread of this virus in the community that include one of the most basic best practices – hand washing. For the coronavirus, the CDC recommends citizens wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or if soap and water are not available, to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Handwashing has been critical in helping prevent the spread of illness and disease, but as an everyday activity, its importance is often forgotten. The current news headlines provide a great opening to remind community members of the process and best practices associated with handwashing.

In addition to combating the spread of disease, handwashing can help to keep food safe and reduce food-borne illness as well. Consumers should wash their hands before and after eating. Farmworkers should follow farm safety guidelines for handwashing.

In keeping with food safety issues, consumers and food preparers should also wash their produce prior to serving or consumption. A growing outbreak of Rat Lungworm disease in Hawai‘i (and found in Louisiana in addition to other countries) has prompted a renewed interest in produce washing practices. The disease can infect humans through the ingestion of raw vegetables contaminated with the rat lungworm larvae, which means that produce should be examined thoroughly prior to consumption. Consumers should wash their hands, then separate and rinse produce. It is also important to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces.

Additional resources and lesson plans on hand and produce washing are listed below. Use this opportunity to educate and remind stakeholders of the best practices. Good, safe food handling and hygiene practices are important all the time, but the occasional reminder at the right time can make a big difference.

Handwashing Reminders

Wash your hands:

  • Before and after you eat
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • After you use the bathroom
  • After handling animals or animal waste – including pets
  • After playing or working outside
  • After changing diapers or handling a baby’s bottom
  • Anytime your hands are dirty

On the farm or in food production areas, wash:

  • Before entering and returning to the field or the packing line
  • Before touching clean produce
  • Before putting on new gloves
  • After working with soil
  • After disposing of rotten produce
  • After handling garbage
  • After smoking or doing other activities that dirty your hands
  • After touching bare human body parts
  • After handling animals and animal waste

Credit: Clean Hands Save Lives! University of Hawai‘i Cooperative Extension (2012, January) Retrieved from:

Handwashing Resources

Cornoavirus Resources

Produce Washing Reminders

Inspect produce for

  • Obvious signs of soil or damage
  • Prior to cutting, slicing, or dicing.
  • Cut away affected areas or do not use

Wash produce before serving/cutting using

  • Continuous running water
  • Chemical disinfectants

Do not

  • Soak produce or store in standing water
  • Rewash packaged produce labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed.”

Wash thoroughly with hot soapy water

  • All equipment
  • Utensils
  • Food contact surfaces

Credit: Best Practices Handling Produce in Schools United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (retrieve 2020, February) from:

Produce Washing Resources

Rat Lungworm Resources

This has been a week to remember, and many of the memories will be sad ones. The 2013 Boston Marathon, held Monday, will be remembered for the two bomb blasts near the finish line. Three people died and nearly 200 were injured. On Wednesday evening, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, devastated the town of 1,800. Unconfirmed reports indicate 5-15 fatalities with approximately 200 injuries and some people still missing.

Children have been directly affected in both incidents, while thousands of others are being indirectly affected through exposure to news stories on television, radio, and the Internet.  The effects of disaster on children who are directly exposed to danger and trauma are different from the effects on children who witnessed but did not directly experience traumatic events. Differences in age, experience, maturity level, and personality lead to varying reactions to the same incident.

Several resources are available to help you help your children cope with violence and disasters. Here are two: the National Institute of Mental Health offers guidance for parents, and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on common responses to traumatic events.   Also review EDEN’s Children and Disasters page for other resources.

 You can also find on the EDEN website mental health resources for Extension educators and other professionals who don’t normally talk about stress and behavioral health.

How are you helping others cope with the traumatic events of this week?

Shoo Flu, Don’t Bother Me


Unless you’ve been out of touch with everyone around you lately, you’ve heard everyone talking about the flu.

It seems to be taking the country by storm and affecting the young and old alike. Some are reporting this season’s flu as pandemic in proportion, but that in fact is incorrect. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in the Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report that the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was above the epidemic threshold.

What’s the difference between pandemic and epidemic?

  • Pandemic – occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population
  • Epidemic – affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time

So, how can you protect your child?

  • Get yourself and your child vaccinated with the flu vaccineAnyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to get the flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season.
  • Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. You can set a good example by doing this yourself.
  • Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues. Covering up their coughs or sneezes using the elbow, arm or sleeve instead of the hand when a tissue is unavailable.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit, 37.8 degrees Celsius or greater), cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea.
  • Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever, without using fever-reducing drugs.  Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected.
  • Do not send children to school if they are sick. Any children who are determined to be sick while at school will be sent home.

For more information on preparing for flu, check out

Disaster Distress Resources

Stress, anxiety, and depression are common reactions after a disaster.

Call 1-800-985-5990. It’s Free. It’s Confidential.

Are you experiencing signs of distress as a result of a disaster?

Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and emotional reactions:

  • Sleepling too much or too little
  • Stomachaches or headaches
  • Anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why
  • Feeling like you have to keep busy
  • Lack of energy or always feeling tired
  • Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual; using illegal drugs
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Not connecting with others
  • Feeling like you won’t ever be happy again
  • Rejecting of help.

You may be suffering more than you need to. We can help!

The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, year-round
crisis counseling and support.

The Helpline is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States, all of whom provide:

  • Crisis counseling for those who are in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
  • Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families
  • Tips for healthy coping
  • Disaster-specific resources and referral information

Kim Cassel

Posted on December 20th, 2010 in Food Safety and Defense, Human Health

Immediate past chair Dave Filson, chair elect Rick Atterberry and EDEN Homeland Security project director Steve Cain attended an EPA meeting in Chicago. They had active roles as facilitators. 

Are municipalities, food processors, medical centers and other high volume water users prepared in the event of an interruption?  That’s the question the Chicago office of the Environmental Protection Agency is helping answer.

On November 17 representatives of those entities came together to hear presentations from the USEPA, Chicago Department of Water Management, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Department of Homeland Security, Midwest Food Processors Association and Industry sources discuss the need for additional planning to address both interruption in delivery and water quality issues.

Attendees participated in small group discussions in the afternoon which were facilitated by EDEN representatives Dave Filson from Penn State, Steve Cain from Purdue and Rick Atterberry from the University of Illinois.  EDEN’s involvement in the event was organized by Dave Filson.

It is anticipated that additional sessions may be held building on the discussions at this first event.  For most attendees, water is a sole source commodity the supply of which they have little control.  All of the water for the City of Chicago, many suburbs and the large users located in the communities comes from Lake Michigan through two giant treatment facilities along the lakeshore, including one right on the downtown lakefront.  Because the water is drawn from the lake on a continuing basis, there is not a lot of storage of treated water built into the system which is one of several vulnerabilities discussed by participants.

Conference organizers were grateful that EDEN representatives acted as independent facilitators.

EDEN involvement with EPA was the direct result of EPA involvement in the EDEN Regional Food Protection Conference in Pennsylvania.  From that connection, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and EPA have both requested continued involvement from EDEN professionals with their agencies including training, planning and conferences.   

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair