Sanitizing kitchen sponges is important because they may be contaminated with pathogens like Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. Microbiologists Manan Sharma and Cheryl Mudd also tested sponges soaked in lemon juice and in deionized water for 1 minute and in 10% bleach solution for 3 minutes, and they left one untreated. Between 37% and 87% of bacteria were killed using these methods, leaving sufficient bacteria to cause disease. (Deionized water is purified water from which most ions, such as sodium, calcium, iron, and chloride, have been removed). Others studies have shown the powerful effects of microwaving. University of Florida engineering researchers found that microwaving killed more than 99% of bacteria in sponges that had been soaked in raw wastewater, according to a Jan 22 university news release. The study was published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health. Apr 23 USDA news releasehttp://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2007/070423.htm Initially, each of the sponges contained about 20 million microbes, after researchers soaked them in a solution of ground beef and lab growth medium for 48 hours. The study was conducted at the ARS Food Technology and Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. See also: Sponges should be wet when placed in the microwave and should have no metallic components, according to the University of Florida release. Treatment in the microwave and the dishwasher also left sponges with less than 1% of the original counts of yeasts and molds in them, whereas 6.7% to 63% remained in the sponges treated with the other methods or left untreated. The ARS said these methods were tested because they are commonly used in households. Apr 25, 2007 (CIDRAP News) Bacteria in a kitchen sponge can best be eliminated by heating the sponge in a microwave oven or running it through an automatic dishwasher, according to a study by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Basically what we find is that we could knock out most bacteria in two minutes,” said Gabriel Bitton, University of Florida environmental engineering professor, in the news release. Researchers found that microwaving a wet sponge for 1 minute killed 99.9999% of bacteria, while running a sponge through a dishwasher cycle that included drying eliminated 99.9998% of bacteria, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) said in an Apr 23 news release. News release on University of Florida studyhttp://news.ufl.edu/2007/01/22/zap-the-bugs/
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to let about 19,500 federal inmates, most of them black, seek reductions in their crack-cocaine sentences. The commission, which sets guidelines for federal prison sentences, made its recent easing of recommended sentences for crack offenses retroactive. Most of those eligible could receive no more than a two-year cut in their prison terms, but roughly 3,800 inmates could be released within a year after the March 3 effective date of Tuesday’s decision. Federal judges will have the final say whether to reduce sentences. The commissioners said the delay until March gives judges and prison officials time to deal with public safety and other issues. Relatives of prison inmates filled the meeting room and applauded loudly after the 7-0 vote. But several family members and commissioners called on Congress to overhaul cocaine-sentencing laws. “The debate needs to shift from the Sentencing Commission to Congress,” said Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “That disparity between crack and powder – and all of its injustices – continues.” Several bills have been introduced to further reduce or eliminate the disparity. The Senate is expected to hold hearings on the legislation next year. Attorney General Michael Mukasey restated the administration’s opposition to retroactivity before the commission voted. “Our position is clear: We oppose it,” Mukasey, a former federal judge, said. He said convicted crack offenders were sentenced under an existing standard and to change that standard retroactively dismisses any mitigating factors the sentencing judge considered when deciding how long a prison term to set. In addition, the release of inmates would cause problems for communities whose probation and supervisory systems are not ready to receive crack offenders, he said. Several commissioners said they expect judges will use their power to deny sentence reductions in some cases. Tuesday’s vote came after two Supreme Court rulings Monday upheld judges who rejected federal sentencing guidelines as too harsh and imposed more lenient prison terms, including one for crack offenses. In the crack case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s majority opinion said Derrick Kimbrough’s 15-year sentence was acceptable, although guidelines called for 19 to 22 years. Kimbrough is black. So are 86percent of the inmates who might see their prison terms for crack offenses reduced after the commission approved retroactive easing. By contrast, just over one-quarter of those convicted of powder-cocaine crimes last year were black.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champThe commission took note of objections raised by the Bush administration, but said there is no basis to treat convicts sentenced before the guidelines were changed differently from those sentenced after the changes. The commission recently changed guidelines to reduce a disparity. Crack-cocaine dealers typically face much longer sentences than powder-cocaine dealers for selling the same quantity of the drug. The new guidelines took effect Nov. 1. U.S. District Judge William Sessions of Vermont, a commission member, said the vote on retroactivity will have the “most dramatic impact on African-American families.” A failure to act “may be taken by some as particularly unjust,” Sessions said before the vote. Four of every five crack defendants are black. Most powder-cocaine convictions involve whites. Even after the change, prison terms for crack cocaine still are two to five times longer on average than sentences for powder cocaine, the result of a 20-year-old decision by Congress to treat crack more harshly. The commission first said in 1995 that there was no evidence to support such disparate treatment.