Summer is here, and history has shown that there will be an increase in the number of foodborne-illness outbreaks during the warmer months. Plenty of foods at the average summer picnic can contain dangerous pathogens that sicken Americans. There is currently a major recall of bagged romaine lettuce contaminated with a dangerous strain of E. coli. To date, the produce has been linked to 33 cases and 12 hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four Americans contract a foodborne illness annually.

In Maine, there were 418 cases of salmonella and 471 cases of campylobacter over the last 3 years. For each case reported, many more go unreported.

Given these trends, here are a few food safety tips to help assure your summer cooking season is safe, fun and healthy:

Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. Rinse fruit and vegetables before consuming. See this list for low pesticide fruit and vegetable options: www.foodnews.org.

Don’t cross-contaminate. Mixing raw meat and other food can contaminate them with potentially harmful pathogens. When taking food off the grill, don’t put the cooked items on the same platter which held the raw meat.

Cook to proper temperature. Buy a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. See this heating chart for recommended temperature levels by meat type www.fightbac.org/content/view/93/2/

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Don’t put the cooler in the car trunk; transport it inside an air-conditioned car, if possible. Keep your cooler in the shade and the lid closed. Replenish ice promptly as it melts.

Michael Russell, MS, MEP
Environmental Health and Safety
Public Health Division
Portland

Connor column unfairly tars president with oil spill 

As a longtime subscriber to the Maine Sunday Telegram, I was saddened to read the opinion column titled “Obama’s slick escape” (May, 23) by Richard L. Connor, CEO of the company that owns the newspaper.

From the word play of the column title (think, oil slick) to the unsubstantiated slam “Obama and his cronies” that concludes the column, Connor attempts to deflect responsibility for this man-made disaster away from oil industry corporation BP and from the inadequate regulatory policies and practices of President Obama’s predecessors in the White House.

Nowhere in the column does Connor make any connection between President Obama and anyone in the oil industry. Had this happened two years ago, connecting the sitting president with the oil industry would have been obvious, given both George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s long-time involvement in and relationships with the oil industry.

But wait. Nowhere in this column does Connor even mention BP. But he does make a connection to Hurricane Katrina. Does he expect us to believe that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not man-made, but is yet another natural disaster to which that region seems so vulnerable?

Connor notes that “Workers in natural gas exploration in the Gulf have been dying at a rate of one every 45 days since 1990.” In case Connor hasn’t noticed, President Obama entered the White House only a little over a year ago (Jan. 20, 2009). Why should he be held responsible for the oil companies’ safety record for twenty years?

Connor would apparently like nothing better than to disable President Obama by covering him with oil, not unlike the pelicans of the Gulf coast, while letting BP and Obama’s predecessors completely off the hook. But such a strategy is neither logical nor fair.

John Maddaus
Orono
 

Telegram should have picked Rosa for governor 

With a new owner and a new outlook at your newspaper, I would have expected you would have embraced a new outlook for the state in your endorsement of a Democratic candidate for governor. Instead, you settled for the status quo.

In my opinion, Rosa Scarcelli has earned the support of Maine people by running a vigorous, energetic campaign full of ideas and new vision for Maine. She will bring a solid business background to the governor’s office and help create an environment for businesses to grow and create more jobs. I just don’t see these skills in any of the other career candidates who are running.

I hear people say every day that it’s time for new blood in Augusta. Rosa Scarcelli is the candidate I’ll be voting for on June 8.

Bronwyn Huffard
Cape Elizabeth
 

I am disappointed in your newspaper’s endorsement of Pat McGowan, particularly your claim that he won’t be just a third term for Gov. Baldacci. If you look at the people who are backing him, they are all well-connected to the current administration.

We can expect to see many of the same faces filling Cabinet posts and other jobs if McGowan gets elected governor, and Maine will have missed an opportunity to implement the kinds of changes all of know this state needs.

MaineToday Media should have rejected the status quo and looked to the future by embracing the only Democrat in the race who isn’t tied to the failed politics of the past, Rosa Scarcelli. Rosa is a new breed of candidate, and as even you acknowledged, she is the most impressive.

She has never held elective office, but I see that as her strength. And as anyone who watched the recent candidate debates knows, Rosa more than held her own against the career candidates who shared the stage with her.

Rosa will breathe new life into state government. She’ll attract only qualified, accomplished people to her cabinet – not political cronies — who will bring new ideas and new energy to our state. Rosa is what we need right now, and I hope Democrats will vote for her on June 8.

Bruce Bornstein
Wayne

The Steakhouse restaurant review really missed the bull’s-eye

What a shame that so much negativity was written about The Steakhouse in Wells on May 16 by one of your writers, namely N.L. English.

For instance, under the dining review section and under vegetarian dishes, couldn’t she have just come out and said that there is one vegetarian dish?

Further down under reservations, did she have to say count on a two-hour wait? That right there should tell people that the food is great and well worth the wait.

Anyone who orders a rib eye knows that it has wonderful marbling throughout the steak and that they should not order it rare. The medium rare is wonderful. I order it this way all the time and it is always cooked to perfection.

The salads are fresh and crispy, and can you imagine the desserts being too big or should I say gargantuan?

I think this person was way too harsh on this very clean, always consistently good restaurant. No, I am not affiliated with this restaurant in any way, shape or form but would and do highly recommend it to all of my patrons.

Glenna Ahearn
Powder Horn Family Camping
Old Orchard Beach