How do you know if your Thanksgiving stuffing is actually clean?
As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday in the United States of America – it got me to thinking of how static electricity and contamination might affect my holiday food & meal preparations. I know you probably say, “Who thinks of that and why?” but it’s the nature of my job and our company, so it’s always in the back of my mind.
When you unwrap packaged food (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams, pie crust, etc.) – how do you know that the package your food comes in is clean? The simple answer is that the normal person doesn’t know. That question of cleanliness is just assumed by the consumer, but the normal person doesn’t really think about whether or not the package their food is in is uncontaminated. The FDA tries to setup requirements and mandates but they are so small in comparison to regulate it that companies fall between the cracks and it’s not until you read or hear about it on the news. By that time it’s too late. There is an interest read on the FDA website about the requirements and steps required to package food.
Contamination in the food packaging industry
In the food packaging industry – static & contamination can be a huge problem. In particular – plastic packaging. All the rage these days is for packaging to say, “BPA Free”, right? Bisphenol A (BPA) is an omnipresent compound found in plastics. It is a fundamental ingredient of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester. An article in Scientific American (*www.scientificamerican.com) says, “BPA is routinely used to line cans to prevent corrosion and food contamination; it also makes plastic cups and baby and other bottles transparent and shatterproof.” Insert your shocked face here! No wonder why plastic and packaging companies are working so hard to provide us with “BPA Free” packaging and products. Makes you wonder what your canned yams and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving are packaged in, doesn’t it? The second point regarding plastic packaging is that particulates tend to stick on plastic materials if the plastic has not been static neutralized. If the plastic packaging has not been static neutralized – particulates – usually loose, dry contaminates (and food; i.e. your stuffing) will attract to the plastic. Prior to packaging – you may have contaminates that stick to the plastic or bag – so that is an issue. Also, if the plastic is sticking to itself and not opening up enough during the filling process, then the product being packaged (i.e. stuffing) will stick to the sides as well as the outside or top of the plastic PRIOR to it being heat sealed shut. That is why static & contamination control is an integral part of the packaging industry.
This year – I am THANKFUL for static control and contamination control products manufactured and sold by Static Clean to packaging companies. Without such technology that allows us to neutralize and control static and particulates in the packaging process – I may be eating stuffing a la mystery meat. It gives entirely new meaning to “Stuffing” doesn’t it?
Last week I went to Toronto to attend a “Bell Ringing Ceremony”. Before I received the phone call invite from my niece who has been battling a cancerous brain tumor, I hadn’t heard of this particular event. Here is the back story. Cancer patients are subjected to 30 straight days of Radiation and Chemotherapy on an outpatient basis. In the hallway, outside of the treatment rooms mounted on the wall is a brass “Celebration Bell”. At the end of the treatment period, the family and friends of the patient meet at the hospital and help their loved ones “Ring the Bell”.
Next to the bell was a plaque that had the following saying.
“Ring this bell three times well – Its sound to clearly say – My treatment is done – This course is run – And I am on my way”.
Before I went into the Juravinski Cancer Center in Hamilton Ontario, I sat on a park bench near the entrance to the lobby and watched patients come and go. Many struggled on their way into the center, but more seemed to struggle after their rigorous treatments. It was a very sad, moving and thought provoking experience. However, it got me to thinking about cancer treatments and whether the day will come when there are less invasive methods to treat cancer, the number one killer in the world. Back in Boston, I did a little research and found out that static electricity, which is considered as part of Natural Medicine is in consideration and going through clinical trials, especially in Japan. Of course!!!
The thought behind using static electricity is nothing new to the medical community. In the Reading Eagle newspaper, dated September 2, 1951, a retired military surgeon by the name of Colonel Francis Usher suggested the use of static electricity as a possible new cancer treatment. His premise was that it would enhance existing treatments and possibly slow the growth or kill the cancer cells.
Back to the Future
Fast forward 60 years and many articles can now be found on using static electricity in the treatment of cancer and clinical trials are underway by a number or researchers. In a paper presented by Philip H. Gutin, MD, and Eric T. Wong, MD, they wrote about Tumor Treatment Fields (TTF) claiming that TTF treatment or an electric field has a superior safety profile, and its minor side effects do not seem to overlap with those of cytotoxic chemotherapies, targeted agents, or anti-angiogenesis drugs. Therefore, the rational combination of TTF therapy with specific pharmacological agents may enhance tumor cell death.
The definition of an electric field is attributed to Michael Faraday in the 1820s and was later formulated by James Clerk Maxwell in his electromagnetic theory in 1865. It is a field of electric forces that surround a source charge. When a test charge is placed within an electric field, a force acts on it because it is energy. By using a battery with a couple of wires on an AC or alternating current, tests are easy to conduct. Negative charges attract positive charges, while similar signed charges repel each other. Basically, two electrodes are placed at a given distance from each other on the human body in proximity to a tumor or cancerous cells. Voltage is applied and the energy travels from one electrode to the other and has an effect on the bad cells in its path. TTF therapy is now a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved treatment for patients who have exhausted surgical and radiation treatments.
Obviously, much more needs to be done, but it certainly feels good to serve an industry that not only has a long history in solving static problems, but one that has a future in the Medical Treatment of Cancer. In the meantime, our Particle Trap® Cube is used to solve particle contamination problems in the packaging of Medical Devices that are utilized in hospitals and clinics.