July 28, 2016

USDA’s FoodKeeper App Says Hola and Olá

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) FoodKeeper app, which helps consumers reduce food waste, now includes information in Spanish and Portuguese. The app covers food storage recommendations for more than 400 foods including   baby food, dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, produce and seafood, and more. Developed through a partnership of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, FoodKeeper's goal is to reduce food waste by sharing food storage methods that extend the shelf life of the foods and beverages.  Since its April 2015 launch, it has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, according to the USDA. "The FoodKeeper app is a very handy and easy tool to use, and it reflects USDA's commitment to provide … [Read more...]

CDC Food Safety Tips at Fairs and Festivals

Foodborne illness increases during summer months and outbreaks are often linked to fairs and festivals. To help everyone safely enjoy their time at the fair, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled some food safety tips. One of the biggest things to keep in mind, according to the agency, is that food safety issues are the same no matter where food is being prepared and served. People preparing food prepared outdoors, or in a truck need to use the same safety controls they would in a kitchen- such as storing food at the proper temperatures, avoiding cross-contamination, monitoring temperatures and keeping, hands, utensils and work surfaces clean. Before buying food from a festival vendor, the CDC advises, ask yourself the following questions:  Does the … [Read more...]

USDA: Meat, Poultry Food Poisoning Dropped 12 Percent in 6 Years

The most significant changes to the food safety system since the 1950s, enacted during the Obama administration, led to a 12 percent drop in the rate of food poisoning from meat, poultry and processed egg products,  according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administartion (USDA). From 2009 to 2015, better testing methods, an emphasis on mislabeling, and improved scientific processes have helped the agency to more quickly identify food that is contaminated with pathogens or is mislabeled, the agency said. "The United States has the strongest food safety system in the world, and over the past seven years it has grown even stronger. We're better now at keeping unsafe food out of commerce, whether it's made unsafe because of dangerous bacteria, or because of an allergen, like peanuts or wheat," … [Read more...]

5 Things to do Before Severe Weather Strikes

When severe weather strikes and the power goes out, it can be confusing to figure out what food is safe to eat. Here are five things to do before the storm that will take some of the guesswork out of severe weather food safety, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Make sure you have working appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer. Safe temperatures for the fridge are 40°F or lower, in the freezer 0°F or lower. Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or other small containers prior to a storm. Tuck them in between frozen foods to help keep them cold. Freeze any food you don’t plan to eat in the immediate future such as leftovers, milk, fresh  or poultry. This will help to keep them at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. Group … [Read more...]

USDA Will Begin Posting Location-Specific Food Safety Data

The USdA is going to begin sharing food safety data specific to slaughter and processing facilities on Data.gov. The FSIS Establishment-Specific Data Release Strategic Plan will let consumers make more informed choices. It may also motivate these establishments to improve their performance, and uncover the strengths and weaknesses of different food safety and processing practices. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said, "FSIS' food safety inspectors collect vast amounts of data at food processing facilities every day, which we analyze on an ongoing basis to detect emerging public health risks and create better policies to prevent foodborne illness. Consumers want more information about the foods they are purchasing, and sharing these details can give them better … [Read more...]

Researchers Find Sensing Mechanism in Food Poisoning Bacteria

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a mechanism used by some types of bacteria that cause food poisoning that they use to sense when they are in the human gut, where they release the toxins that cause illness. Scientists studied Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacterium that grows in shellfish in saltwater during the summer months. Vibrio is one of the leading causes of food poisoning worldwide. And rising ocean temperatures because of global warming have contributed to the pathogen's growth. When people eat raw or undercooked seafood that contains the bacteria, they get sick. Dr. Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, said, "during recent years, rising temperatures in the ocean have contributed … [Read more...]

Harbor City Restaurant Closed by Indiana Court

The Harbor City Restaurant in Tippecanoe County, Indiana was closed by a court when the owner kept the restaurant open despite the health department's order to close. A county employee saw the owner, Peter Wang, loading food for delivery on July 7, 2016, two days after health inspectors closed the restaurant after an inspection July 5, 2016. That inspection revealed 21 critical food safety violations. Inspection reports for last year, which are available online, showed the restaurant has received repeated citations for critical violations, including cockroaches and maggots on the kitchen floor, blood and dry food on the shelf used to hang raw duck to drain after cleaning, and hazardous food maintained at too high a temperature. Other violations included a bucket with raw chicken … [Read more...]

Bakersfield Arby’s on Rosedale Closed for Rodent Infestation

Kern County officials have closed an Arby's outlet at 8920 Rosedale Highway in Bakersfield, California for rodent infestation. The restaurant received a score of 69%, which is a failing grade, for poor food handling practices and overall poor food establishment maintenance and sanitation. A complaint from the public triggered the latest inspection. The environmental health permit is suspended and a notice of closure is posted until the permit is reestablished. The restaurant must have a score of at least 80% before it can reopen. The inspection that forced the closure took place on June 29, 2016. The major violation is "Severe vermin infestation." Inspectors observed rodent droppings on the floor and boxes of soda syrup and other food related equipment in the dried storage area. … [Read more...]

Unsanitary Conditions Prompt Closure of Floppers Foods in Alabama

Unsanitary conditions prompted the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to order BEK Catering LLC.doing business as Floppers Foods in Daphne, Alabama to cease operations until the company can come into compliance with FDA requirements. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted multiple inspections between September 2011 and April 2015 and found repeated deviations from HACCP requirements. “When a company fails to provide an adequate plan for preventing food safety hazards from occurring in their facility, they are putting the public at risk,”  Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs said in a statement. “It is the job of the FDA to oversee that seafood businesses have adequate controls in place for the products they … [Read more...]

FDA Warning Letter to DreamLand Trading in Minneapolis Cites Rodents, Other Problems

Rodents and other problems are cited in an FDA warning letter to DreamLand Trading Inc. in Minneapolis a warehouse and distributor of imported foods including, rice, pasta, packaged juices, edible oils, tea, spices, and dates.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected the facility, located at 3912 Dight Avenue South, from April 29 to May 18, 2016 and found "serious violations." Because of the insanitary conditions at the facility,  the food is considered adulterated, meaning it is contaminated with filth or may have been rendered injurious to health, according to the FDA. Midway through the inspection, May 6, 2016, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) placed an embargo on food products held there. Some of the things FDA investigators observed during the inspection … [Read more...]

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