August 2, 2015

Extreme Summer Weather Increases Salmonella Risk

Storms

Extreme heat and rain increase the risk of Salmonella infections, according to a new study by Maryland researchers. The study, “Climate Change, Extreme Events and Increased Risk of Salmonellosis: Evidence for Coastal Vulnerability,” was published online June 18, 2015 in the journal Environment International by researchers from the University of Maryland and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Chengsheng Jiang, Kristi Shaw, Crystal Upperman, David Blythe, Clifford Mitchell, Raghu Murtugudde, Amy Sapkota and Amir Sapkota. “We found that extremely hot days and periods of extreme rainfall are contributing to salmonella infections in Maryland, with the most dramatic impacts being seen in the coastal communities,” said Amir Sapkota, associate professor in the Maryland … [Read more...]

The Cost of Foodborne Illness Varies Dramatically by State

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Foodborne illness costs Americans billions each year, but the cost varies dramatically by state, according to a new analysis by Robert Scharff an economist and scientist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Ohio State University. Having previously published estimates of the national cost of foodborne illness, Scharff noticed the disparity and looked into further with this study. What he found could help state governments prioritize their resources. Scharff found that the average cost of a case of fooborne illness varies from state to state -$1,666  in Ohio compared with $2,443 in Maryland. But he also found that that the bacterial, viral and parasitic agents that make people sick vary by state, too. Vibrio is a bacteria frequently associated with raw seafood. … [Read more...]

Boston’s Chipotle Mexican Grill on Brookline Closed

Thermometer

The Boston Board of Health has posted that the Chipotle Mexican Grill at 144 Brookline Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts has been closed for critical foodborne illness violations. The inspection date is 7/10/2015. There were two critical violations and one non-critical violation. The first critical violation is for cold holding. The reach-in unit in the from is not working properly. Cheese and guacamole were held at 55°F (safe maximum temperature is 40°F.) The walk-in cooler is not working properly. The outside thermometer reads 59°F. The cheese was held at 60°F, raw steak at 52°F, raw chicken at 48°F, marinated chicken at 51°F, fully cooked barbecue at 55°F, fully cooked carnitas at a 52°F. Between 40°F and 140°F, bacteria can double in a food in 20 minutes. The second critical … [Read more...]

Studies Show Plastic Replacements May be Risky

Plastic Container

New studies from NYU Langone Medical Center have shown that two chemicals used to strengthen plastic wrap, soap, cosmetics, and processed food containers are linked to a risk of high blood pressure and diabetes in children and adolescents. These compounds are "safer" replacements for other harmful chemicals in plastics. The compounds, d-isononyl phthalate (DINP) and di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP) are replacements for di-2-ethylhexylphlatate, or DEHP, which has similar adverse effects. All are phthalates. These are the first studies to examine potential health risks from DEHP replacements. Lead investigator Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine, and population health at NYU Langone, said, "our research adds to the growing concerns that … [Read more...]

Here’s What to Do if You Purchased a Recalled Food

Recall

If you've purchased a recalled food, the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline has tips on what to do. First, remember that food recalls are very specific. The recalled items are identified with sell-by dates, UPC numbers, package sizes, and product names and brands. You may have purchased a similar product, but not the one recalled. Identify the reason for the recall. Those reasons could include bacterial contamination, foreign objects, undeclared allergens, or improper labeling. Read the recall notice carefully, noting all details. If the reason is for an undeclared allergen and no one in your family is allergic to that ingredient, there's no reason for worry. If a product is being recalled for foreign materials and you didn't find anything in the product, don't worry. But if the … [Read more...]

Harvesting 24 Hours After a Rain Enhances Food Safety

Farm Field

Research conducted at Cornell University has found that if produce farmers wait 24 hours to harvest their crops after a rain, the food they produce will be safer for people to eat. The USDA has proposed rules allowing farmers to apply "wait periods" after irrigation water, to let "potentially dangerous microbes die off". Any water applied to a field creates conditions more hospitable to the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Researchers tested fields in several locations in New York state. They found that after rains, the chances of finding Listeria dropped dramatically 24 hours after a rain, to levels similar to the baseline. Farmers would use weather data, GIS technology and data driven information to take a "systems approach" to managing food safety and their crops. Listeria … [Read more...]

USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline Turns 30

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The USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline is turning 30 years old this month. The Hotline offers advice to consumers about safely preparing meat, poultry, and eggs. Consumer answers about recalls and safe final cooking temperatures are also answered. Since it begin in 1985, the Hotline has handled more than 3,000,000 calls from the public. It's especially used during the holidays, when many consumers have questions about turkey preparation. After severe weather, when the power is out, is another high time for calls. The Hotline number is 1-888-674-6854, and it is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Questions commonly asked include "how long can I keep meat in the refrigerator?", "how long will cooked food stay safe in the fridge?" and "what is the safe internal … [Read more...]

USDA Says Beef and Veal Bacterial Contamination Interventions Are Working

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USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published preliminary data on the first six months of the Beef and Veal Carcass Baseline Survey, and it states that the percentage of all pathogens decreased from post hide removal to pre-chill. FSIS launched a 12 month survey to collect samples at two points in the slaughter process. This data is being used to estimate national prevalence of select pathogens, assessment of the slaughter dressing procedures, and development of performance guidelines. The pre-chill numbers are measured after all anti-microbial interventions. For instance, the carcasses had a 25.49% positive test for Salmonella after hide removal, but only 3.92% positive at pre-chill. E. coli O157:H7 was positive for 1.60% of samples at the post-hide removal stage, but … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Denounces Beef Imports from Brazil and Argentina

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Food & Water Watch is denouncing beef imports from Brazil and Argentina. Executive Director Wenonah Hauter released a statement about the USDA lifting restrictions on these imports. Those countries have "a history of the deadly disease of foot and mouth disease in animal herds." There has not been a case of FMD in the United States since 1929. Members of Congress ask that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study these rules. That has not been done. The process was rushed, since the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) can take up to 90 days to review "significant" rules. Hauter states, "Brazil and Argentina have checkered food safety records, as USDA has been forced on several occasions to suspend imports of products currently eligible to come into the U.S. for … [Read more...]

Humane Society Files Complaints Against Costco’s Egg Supplier

Eggs FPB

The Humane Society of the United States has filed complaints with the FDA and FTA over Costco's egg supplier Hillandale Nearby Eggs. The complaints call for asking the feds to investigate potential "violations of federal false advertising and health and safety laws." The complaints allege that Hillandale farms "deceived consumers concerned about animal welfare and that the filthy and unsanitary conditions at Hillandale present serious food safety concerns." An undercover investigation found that hens were locked in cages so tightly they couldn't spread their wings. Live birds were forced to be in the same cages as dead birds, and fly infestations were common throughout the facility. The depiction of the farm on Hillandale's Nearby Eggs cartons show hens roaming in a pasture. The … [Read more...]

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