Food Safety Issues/NEW QUESTION!



I saw someone else asked this question a while back.  How comforting it was to see that you said it was not a food safety issue!  That being said, some years have passed, would the answer still hold for today?  Does even a big company like Hunts still use aluminum cans?  I have no expertise but it is a silver inside and does not appear to be lined.  Thanks for all you do, Julia

ANSWER: Hi Julia,

Yes, the answer still holds true today. Black spots on the inside of tomato products (catsup, canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, etc) is caused by a reaction between the metal of the can and the acid in the tomatoes.  The spots are not harmful, though most people do not find the spots appetizing.

Most companies today are using 100% recyclable steel cans as opposed to aluminum cans. Black or brown spots are still possible on steel cans as some natural compounds found in tomatoes can react with the metal.  Because of this, some companies line their cans with white plastic. However, with the concern of PCB's in plastic, some companies have decided to go back to unlined cans and encouraging consumers to use their product by the "best-if-used-by" date to ensure no reaction.

Thanks for your kinds words.


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QUESTION: Thanks Carol,   I see you have some very impressive credentials in the food safety area.  I am hoping that maybe you can help me.  I am a 55 year old mother of five nearly grown children and I have a degree in nursing but have not worked in several years.  My life has become miserable with some food concerns.  About three months ago, (out of the blue) after many years of cooking for my large family with no one ever becoming ill, I developed a phobia type fear of food bacteria.  It started when some bags of Dole chopped salad lettuces were recalled on the evening news.  I also had a whole chicken go wickedly bad (past date) in my garage fridge.  One thing led to another as I scoured the Internet which put me in a panic for carved deli turkey meat, handling raw meats, leafy greens and vegetables.  I almost can't cook or handle food.  I have lost 12 pounds and I am starting Prozac.  I guess that I went through many years of being unaware of these scary bacteria, and now I have an information overload.  I have gotten depressed because I don't understand how to find "balance" in all of this new information, and how to properly assess the risks of handling raw meats.  Is there any helpful information you could give me to help me understand the real risks and find a healthy perspective with this food bacteria fear?  I would pay for your time on the phone.  I sure am hoping that you can help me out of this situation.  Thank you very much!  Julia

Hi Julia,

Thank you for your detailed explanation of your situation and your desire to find a happy balance in your life. Since you say you have gotten depressed, lost weight, almost can't cook or handle food and feel overwhelmed by that amount of information available to you via the internet, I strongly encourage you to visit with a trained mental health professional who deals with phobias.

The development of a sudden phobia to germs is reason to visit with a trained mental health professional who deals with mysophobia -- the fear of germs.  Fortunately, this phobia can be successfully managed and it is important to seak assistance as soon as possible, since the condition tends to worsen over time. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most common form of treatment, although medications may also be prescribed. Depending on your therapistís orientation, you may be encouraged to explore the root of the phobia, or you may simply be taught how to control the symptoms.

Good luck Julia.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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