* Gluttons for punishment and those with an affinity for culinary traffic accidents are likely familiar with Food Network personality Sandra Lee’s godawful Kwanzaa cake, an unholy adulteration of angel food cake that Anthony Bourdain claimed would make unlucky viewers’ “eyeballs burst into flames.” Turns out America’s favorite can-opening sweetheart didn’t even come up with the recipe — or any of her “recipes,” from the sound of veteran food writer, food stylist and recipe developer Denise Vivaldo’s article on Huffington Post last week. In it, she takes responsibility for that monstrosity as well as Lee’s Hanukkah Cake, begging forgiveness from readers. The story’s too good to condense here, so do yourself a favor and check out the Sandra Lee clips on YouTube then surf over to Huffington to get the full scoop. * Here’s something to look forward to in 2011: a new study from the Centers for Disease Control announced that approximately one in six Americans catch some form of food-borne illness each year. It’s the first study in 10 years on the subject, and findings from the 1999 study posited that one in four Americans got sick each year. While one in six sounds like an improvement, experts cautioned that the updated numbers are more likely due to more reliable reporting than a safer food supply. Kirk E. Smith, DVM, PhD, supervisor of the Foodborne Disease Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health said the nation has done a better job in terms of reducing Listeria and E. Coli 157 outbreaks “presumably because of a lot of the work that industry and regulators are doing in beef processing plants,” he told WebMD. At the same time, experts acknowledged that virtually no progress had been made in reducing the number of salmonella outbreaks, which accounted for 28 percent of deaths and roughly 35 percent of hospitalizations caused by known pathogens. All that said, experts stressed that this is still an estimate — the new numbers rely heavily on estimates of food poisoning caused by unspecified agents. There were also undoubtedly cases of food poisoning that weren’t reported and were chalked up to some type of flu. Regardless of what the stats say, the old rules still apply: only purchase food from trusted sources, practice safe food handling procedures and wash your hands.


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