What the Duck! The Ugly Side of Bath Toys

Contributed by: Phyllis Immitti, Jenna Moscarelli, Andrew Roman

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A Piece of Plastic with the Potential to Save Lives

Contributed by: Samantha Couture, Alexander Kim, and Emily Shanno

Standing in front of your open refrigerator, you stare at a package of uncooked meat on the shelf. On one hand, you’re dying to have it for dinner, but on the other, you realize that it may have purchased it just a little too long ago to safely eat. Do you take the chance on getting food poisoning and satisfy your craving, or do you throw it away and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the third day in a row? Thanks to researchers at McCaster University in Ontario, Canada, this debate may be a thing of the past. But first….  What exactly makes food spoil so quickly, and why should we be so concerned?Fig1

While most food is safe from disease-causing microbes for varying time periods, the expiration dates on packaging allow protection from numerous illnesses caused by microbes. According to the Food and Drug Administration, foodborne illnesses account for approximately 48 million medical cases each year, meaning that 1 out of 6 Americans suffer each year. As a result, there are 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths per year as a result of the contamination of food products by microbes (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 2018). Continue reading “A Piece of Plastic with the Potential to Save Lives”

The Microbes Behind Kombucha

Contributed by Divya Sridharan, Hannah Park, and Alexandra Magee

What is Kombucha?

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Kombucha tea is a slightly sweet, acidic beverage that is consumed all over the world. It is obtained from infusion of tea leaves by symbiotic association of bacteria and yeasts, collectively referred to as “tea fungus.” It originated in Northeast China, but was popularized by the Germans during World War II. Many people consume kombucha for its various health and probiotic effects.

What transforms tea into a PROBIOTIC drink?

The process starts with something called SCOBY. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Symbiotic means that the bacteria and yeast live together in a mutually dependent and supportive community. Each SCOBY is made from different Fig2strains of bacteria and yeast. However, the one commonality is that they are all self-perpetuating; each SCOBY multiplies and regenerates. In order to regenerate, a SCOBY needs the proper environment and nutrients. This environment is provided by the various sugars in the tea. Therefore, another symbiotic relationship exists between the tea and the SCOBY; the tea cannot exist without the SCOBY and the SCOBY depends on the tea for survival! The presence of various live microorganisms makes kombucha a probiotic drink as it can confer multiple health benefits to the “host.” Continue reading “The Microbes Behind Kombucha”

Debunking the Myth: Exploring Autism, Vaccination, and Cases that Negate Evidence of Causation

Contributed by: Isabella Tropeano, Sarah Ansari, and Caitlin Rudnicki

Introduction: Autism and Vaccines

When it comes to childhood vaccines, there is a popular conspiracy theory that vaccinations are the leading cause of childhood autism. Those who believe in the myths – dubbed “anti-Vaxxers” – suggest that vaccines are harmful to children. They claim that children who are unvaccinated are protected from disease, due to the fact that most Fig1children around them have had the standard vaccines (1). Keeping children vaccinated protects them from potentially fatal diseases, and while it may be easy to believe the myths that vaccines are the cause of Autism because many children appear to show symptoms of the disorder around the same time they are receiving vaccination, it is incorrect. Autism is a mental condition, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relations with other people. The disorder presents itself in early childhood and causes challenges in using language and understanding abstract concepts. While there is no singular cause of Autism, research suggests that the disorder develops from a combination of genetic and environment influences (6). Although there is a plethora of evidence dispelling the myth of vaccines, why is this idea still prevalent? In exploring where this association started and various case studies that disprove vaccines causing autism, this blog hopes to continue to inform the community that vaccines do not cause Autism, while suggesting the need for more research to be done on Autism as a disorder and its origins.

Continue reading “Debunking the Myth: Exploring Autism, Vaccination, and Cases that Negate Evidence of Causation”