New book explores dangers of foodborne illness and offers practical advice to deal with germs

News of food recalls and concerns about whether or not you can eat romaine lettuce can be worrisome.  After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict that 17 percent of us will come down with a foodborne illness this year.

Now a new book in your library’s collection called “Did You Just Eat That?” by two scientists named Paul Dawson and Brian Sheldon looks at a wide variety of germ dangers facing us every day, and offers practical advice on how to deal with them, given that bacteria are an unavoidable part of life. 

Some of the issues the authors address are humorous.  Some are deadly serious (pun intended).  All are timely and informative.

This book can be read on two levels.  There’s a multitude of research and scientific information for those who are interested in such detail.  Most readers will want to take in at least some of it because, as the authors say, the better you understand the microbial world, the more you will profit from this book.  Or you can just skip to the results.  Here’s a sampling of the findings:

  • In a recent study, 21 percent of movie theatres and 51 percent of restaurants had surfaces judged to be highly contaminated.  Other major reservoirs of bacteria you deal with every day are  cell phones, TV remotes, salt and pepper shakers, toothbrushes, computer keyboards and bathtubs/whirlpools.
  • The five-second rule is a dangerous myth.  When food comes in contact with a contaminated surface like your floor, bacteria are transferred almost immediately.  Think about this: Eating food off any floor is like eating off a surface where people and pets have walked for days – or longer.
  • Eating out can be risky.  Menus carry bacteria from many sources, from staff to other diners, although paper menus are safer than laminated ones.  More than 60 percent of foodborne illnesses come from food prepared at a restaurant or deli, and 10 percent more were from a catering or banquet facility.
  • Blowing out birthday candles can be hazardous because droplets from the respiratory tract and mouth are expelled onto the cake. 
  • Sharing food is a good way to pass on germs, popcorn being a prime example.                
  • A good hand-washing regime is one of the best ways to protect yourself.  Best way to wash your hands is to follow the ServSafe protocol:  Rinse with warm water, lather with soap for 20 seconds, rinse with warm water for another 10 seconds.  Follow with alcohol-based hand sanitizer for best results, and use a lot of it.  It’s safer to dry your hands with disposable paper towel than air blowers.                  

For further food safety tips, the book also includes detailed to-do lists relating to shopping, food storage, food preparation, cooking techniques, handling leftovers and more.

If all this makes you wonder how we deal with the inevitable germs on library books, we use a natural cleaner called Citra-solv – or Goo Gone for very sticky or harder to remove messes – to clean the covers of books as they are returned.

In an additional effort to lower the spread of germs, we also wipe each computer mouse and keyboard down with an antibacterial wipe. During this time of year, when there are more illnesses around, we do it daily. During the summer, it is done every other day. If a patron ever mentions that he/she has been sick, we make sure to wipe down anything that they are returning or any computers that they use. 

If you are ill and want to ask a friend or family member to pick up your items, you can either send the person with your library card, or call us to add the person’s name to your account as being able to pick things up for you.  For everyone’s account security, we don’t check things out without one of these criteria being met. 

Here’s to a healthy and safe 2019 for us all!

Activities calendars available

To be sure you don’t miss any of the free activities available to you and your families at your library, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the events calendar each month.  There are three versions – kids, tweens/teens and adults.  We look forward to seeing you at your library.  Se habla espanol.

Teen advisory board today

Today, Thursday, January 3, the teen advisory board meets from 4-5 p.m.  Bring your fun and innovative ideas to help us plan teen programs.  Share an idea to pick out a free book.

All-ages gaming tomorrow

Join us tomorrow, Friday, January 4 from 2-3:15 p.m. for a free all-ages gaming session where you can enjoy video gaming on Wii and X-box 360 Kinect with your friends and family.

Paws to Read on Saturday

Saturday, January 5 from 11 a.m. – noon, youngsters from K-fifth grades are invited to share their favorite books with Hondo, a therapy dog who loves listening to stories, at a Paws to Read session.  This is a great way for beginning readers to build confidence.

Tween gaming

Free gaming for 4th-8th grades is Monday, January 7 from 4-5 p.m.  Enjoy X-box 360 Kinect, Wii and snacks.

Teen gaming

Free teen gaming happens on Tuesdays from 4–5:30 p.m. for teens in the 7th-12th grades.  Enjoy X-box 360 Kinect, Wii and snacks. 

Adult book club

Our free adult book club meets the second Tuesday of each month from 2-3 p.m. to discuss alternating fiction and nonfiction titles and enjoy refreshments.  On January 8 we will discuss “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan.  If you need a copy, please stop by your library.  No registration required.

Teen role-playing

The free role-playing game for 7th-12th graders takes place Wednesday, January 9 from 4-5:30 p.m.    Use your imagination to go on adventures and battle monsters.  You can join this group any time.

Computer classes

Join us for free sessions from 1-2 p.m. on Thursdays to learn a useful technology skill or application.  Today, Thursday, January 3 is Getting Started when you will learn the basics.  January 17 is Microsoft Word Resumes when you will discover how to create a professional looking resume.  January 31 is Saving and Finding Files when you learn how your computer is organized, including files and folders.  No registration required. 

Adult education

Our free PALS (Pagosa Adult Learning Services) takes place on  Mondays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., plus Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 – 7 p.m.  Come to your library to get help from Mark with high school equivalency, GED, college prep, financial aid, tutoring and more.   Note: No PALS today, January 3.

Free tech sessions

Drop in with your technology questions on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-noon and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m.   

Family storytimes

Every Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. and Saturday from 9:30-10 a.m., join us for free great stories, fun songs and plenty of reasons to get up and move.  This is an excellent way for kids of all ages to have fun while building the skills they need to become independent readers.  Both storytimes are open to babies, toddlers and youngsters of all ages to make it easier for parents to attend with their children depending on their busy schedules rather than the age of their little ones.


“Life According to Sam” follows one family’s fight to save their son from a rare and fata aging disease.  “Flicka” stars Alison Lohman, Tim McGraw and Maria Bello.  “Nexo Knight” is season one.  “Prep & Landing” and “Naughty and Nice” are two Disney holiday adventures on one DVD.  “The Man Who Invented Christmas” is based on the true story of Charles Dickens’ creation of “A Christmas Carol.”  “10 Bible Stories for the Whole Family” is an animated collection created for kids.  “Sherpa” tells about the Nepalese guides on Mount Everest.


“Come From Nowhere” by Ellen Greenfield features seven characters experiencing the two-day blackout in New York City in the summer 1977. 

Books on CD

“Target Alex Cross” by James Patterson is a political mystery set in D.C.  “Oath of Office” by Tom Clancy is a Jack Ryan thriller.  “Pandemic” by Robin Cook is a medical thriller.  “The Enemy of My Enemy” by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV is set near the end of the Third Reich.  “Master of Her Fate” by Barbara Taylor Bradford is the first book in a new historical saga.  “Robert B. Parker’s Blood Feud” by Mike Lupica is a Mafia family story.  “Kingdom of the Blind” by Louise Penny is a Chief Inspector Gamache mystery set in Quebec.

Programmed Nooks

We have nine free Nooks and three free tablets programmed for your e-reading pleasure.  The eight adult content e-readers contain either fiction or nonfiction bestsellers.  The four youth e-readers contain books for children, juniors and young adults. 

Downloadable e-books

Current New York Times bestseller downloadable e-books are being added regularly to our free 3M Cloud Library.  Access them by clicking on the 3M Cloud Library icon on the home page of our website.  While there, browse through a multitude of other adult, juvenile and children’s books, both bestsellers and classics in many genres.

Downloadable films

For your viewing pleasure, we offer IndieFlix, a free streaming movie service that gives you unlimited access to more than 7,500 award-winning and popular independent shorts, feature films and documentaries from more than 50 countries – on your device, PC or Mac, with no apps needed.  Access IndieFlix through the Downloadable Content icon on the library’s website.  Use “Quick Pick,” the discovery tool that lets you sample movies like you would music.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials this week, we thank our anonymous donors.  For their generous monetary gift, we are grateful to Carol and Roger Sheets.

Quotable Quote 

“Embrace your age.  In three years I will be 70.  All the cues from the outside world insist that 70 is old.  And not always something to feel good about.  Then I remind myself that we are defined by how we think, feel and act.  Not by what others project on to us.  And I feel great.  Yes, I am older, but all that means is that I have had the good grace to transition from young and fabulous to older and fabulous.” – Suze Orman, personal finance expert, author, motivational speaker and TV host.

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