September 25, 2017

Food and Water Safety After a Flood From the CDC

If you have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, or if you are in the path of Hurricane Irma, the CDC has some information you should know about food safety after a disaster or flood. First of all, always throw away any food that may have come into contact with flood or storm water. Also discard perishable foods, and those with an unusual color, odor, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out. Don't use your fireplace for cooking until the chimney has been inspected for cracks. Sparks can escape into your attic through a spark and start a fire. Remember that perishable foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and leftovers, must be discarded when the power has been off for four hours or more, even if they are refrigerated. Any food that still contains ice crystals … [Read more...]

Seafood Traceability Program Upheld by Court

A federal court ruled this week that the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program is upheld. This program requires that some imported seafood that is at risk of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud is completely documented and traced from the fishing vessel or farm to the U.S. border. This program, also known as the Seafood Traceability Rule, takes effect January 2018. It will require importers of seafood such as tuna, grouper, swordfish, red snapper, and blue crab to provide specific information to border inspectors before their products can enter the country. Beth Lowell, senior director for illegal fish and seafood fraud at Oceana said in a statement, "This ruling is a huge win for U.S. fishermen and consumers who are cheated when illegally caught … [Read more...]

Much of Vashon Island Shellfish Harvest Areas Closed for PSP

King County Public Health in Seattle, Washington, has closed most of Vashon Island beaches for shellfish harvesting after Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at unsafe levels. Quartermaster Harbor is still open for harvest. The commercial harvest is not affected. PSP is a neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine organism. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing. PSP poisoning can be life threatening. You cannot determine if the toxin is present by looking at the water or shellfish; it can only be found with laboratory testing. The toxin does not change the taste or texture of shellfish. PSP is not the same thing as "red tide." Advisory signs at beaches have been posted by public health officials. The closure includes all species of shellfish, … [Read more...]

Food and Water Safety Advice for Hurricane Harvey

The FDA is offering food safety and water safety advice for anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Food can be rendered unsafe by power outages and by contact with flood waters. If the power went out and perishable food has been above 40°F for more than 2 hours (more than 1 hour if the air temperature is at 90°F or above) it must be discarded. Cooking won't make this food safe, since bacteria can produce toxins that heat will not destroy. If the items stayed below 40°F and you are sure of this, cook them thoroughly to a safe minimum internal temperature before eating. Once power has been restored, check the temperature of appliance thermometers in the freezer and fridge. If the thermometers are 40°F or below, the food in the freezer can be refrozen. If you didn't have a … [Read more...]

Packed Lunch Food Safety

As the new school year gets underway, parents need to know how to pack lunches safely. Food poisoning can be very serious for young children, so their food needs to be as safe as possible. The FDA has more information about safe bag lunches.  Know that all perishable foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs, should be kept cold at all times. Any of these foods should not be left at room temperature longer than 2 hours - 1 hour if the air temperature is over 90°F. Wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you start to prepare the food and pack the lunch. Sanitize a lunch box that hasn't been used in a while by wiping it with a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine, unscented bleach in 1 gallon of water. Advance planning … [Read more...]

How to Handle, Cook, and Safely Store Shellfish

The Washington State Department of Heath has posted information about how to safely handle, store, and cook shellfish. There have been Vibrio and norovirus outbreaks linked to eating uncooked shellfish, especially oysters, this year. All fresh shellfish should be stored in an open container in the fridge. Put a damp towel on the container to maintain humidity. Do not store shellfish in water, since they will die and may spoil. Shellfish that open and don't close when they are tapped are dead; do not cook or eat them. If the shells of horse clams, soft-shell clams, geoducks, and razor clams don't completely close, you can store them for three of four days. Shellfish that close their shells completely can be stored up to seven days. That includes oysters, littlenecks, butter clams, … [Read more...]

Why Undercooked Oysters Can Make You Sick

Public Health-King County is telling consumers why raw oysters can make you sick. Jenny Lloyd, one of the epidemiologists who has been investigating foodborne illness outbreaks linked to oysters in that state, answered some questions. The current outbreaks in Seattle have been caused by Vibrio bacteria. That bacteria lives in marine waters. Their numbers increase during the warm summer months, which explains the current crop of outbreaks. Since oysters are filter feeders, the bacteria concentrate in their flesh. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters, is the main risk for contracting this illness. Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. Fish should be opaque and separate easily when tested with a fork. Clams, mussels, and oysters should … [Read more...]

Pop Up Food Vendors During Eclipse Need License

It's difficult to imagine that this month's eclipse has anything to do with food safety, but the Oregon Health Authority is telling pop up vendors who want to sell food during the event that they need a license. Many people take advantage of natural events such as the eclipse to make some money. If you want to sell food or beverages that's fine, but make sure that you follow and obey state and local health and food safety regulations, even if you are selling something you think are as innocuous as nachos. Check with county health departments about licensing requirements before you offer any food or drink for sale. Some county officials have told OHA that are concerned that pop up vendors may not even be aware that licenses are required before selling food to the public. When these … [Read more...]

Going Camping? Six Food Safety Tips to Keep You Well

FOodsafety.gov is offering six tips to eat safely when you're camping. The blog post is slanted toward Latinos, since about 12% of new campers are Latino. Outdoor cooking requires planning, especially transporting, storing, and cooking food safely. These six tips will help you pack items you'll need while preparing food outdoors. First, look for camping-friendly foods that are light to carry and can be safe without refrigeration. Cold foods can be brought along for the first day, but after that you will need shelf-stable foods. Cleaning supplies are another must. Disposable wipes, biodegradable soaps, and paper towels or clean towels are necessary. If there isn't a source of clean running water where you are planning your campout, you should boil lake or river water or use … [Read more...]

Iowa Warns About Use of Copper Mugs with Alcoholic Beverages

The State of Iowa has issued an advisory bulletin warning consumers about selling and serving alcoholic beverages in copper mugs. There are federal guidance and state regulations about the use of copper and copper alloys in contact with food and beverages. The popularity of a drink called Moscow Mule, an alcoholic cocktail that is typically served in a copper mug, has led to inquiries about the safe use of these mugs. The use of copper and copper alloys as a food contact surface is limited in Iowa. That state and many other states have adopted the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code, which prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0. Examples of foods with a pH below 6.0 include vinegar, fruit juice, or wine. Since the … [Read more...]

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