November 30, 2015

Study Finds Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods

Food safety advice for home cooks has always included certain rules. Always wash your hands before preparing foods and after handling raw meats, poultry, and eggs; keep perishable foods refrigerated, and wash all utensils well after using them. But a new study conducted at the University of Georgia has found that utensils should also be washed after each use and before they are used on another food. Scientists found that the bacteria will "latch on" to utensils such as knives and graters and then contaminate the next food prepared with that item. But most consumers are not aware that this problem exists, according to the study's lead author Marilyn Erickson, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' department of food science and technology. … [Read more...]

FDA Orders Juice Manufacturer to Cease Operations

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered Sun Valley Juice Company of Ketchum, Idaho to stop "receiving, processing, preparing, packing, holding, and distributing juice" until the agency determines that the company is in compliance with food safety laws and regulations. The company has been sent a letter ordering it to cease operations within five days. The company has compiled. Several attempts were made to help the company comply with regulations before it was shut down. In 2006, a court-ordered agreement, called a consent decree, was signed by a federal judge. That agreement, between the FDA and Sun Valley Juice Company, stated that the company would establish and implement a hazard prevention plan. But FDA investigators have found the company has been out of compliance … [Read more...]

Warning Against Eating Crabs in Central and Northern California

The California Department of Public health advised consumers not to eat Dungeness and Rock crabs caught in waters between the Oregon border and the southern Santa Barbara county line because of dangerous levels of domoic acid. This naturally occurring toxin can cause food poisoning. Test results have shown "persistently high levels" of domoic acid in these shellfish. The levels are over the state's action level for the crab's body meat as well as the viscera, which is also known as crab butter. These crabs pose a "significant risk to the public" if they are eaten. Domoic acid is related to a bloom of a single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia. Conditions that support the growth of this plant are not possible to predict, so food safety experts rely on continuous testing to check if … [Read more...]

The FDA Has Advice for Keeping Halloween Safe, Not Scary

The FDA has some food safety advice to keep Halloween this year safe, not scary. Always check the treats your children bring home after going out in their costumes. I'm old enough to remember the scares in the 1980s when some very disturbed people tampered with Halloween candy. Don't let people snack on their treats and candy while they are out trick-or-treating. They should eat a meal or snack before they leave the house, and should not go out on an empty stomach. Always check the candy and treats before the kids eat them. Look for strange appearances or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in the wrappers. Don't let the kids accept anything that isn't commercially wrapped; if your kids are older, warn them about this before they go out. And always throw away anything that looks … [Read more...]

Crab Products Seized for Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Bacteria

The United States Department of Justice seized about 5,000 cases of frozen, processed crab products manufactured by Rome Packing Company because the seafood may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The government alleges that Rome prepared, packed, and processed Jonah Crab products in a facility contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria. According to court documents, the FDA inspected Rome's facility on six different occasions and found that the facility's cooking process did not adequately control temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. Environmental swab samples collected from three areas of the facility allegedly tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. And poor sanitary practices and conditions in the facility may have caused cross-contamination … [Read more...]

Today is Global Handwashing Day

Today is the 8th annual Global Handwashing Day. This day is to help increase awareness and understanding of hand washing as a way to prevent disease, especially foodborne illness, around the world. In fact, researchers estimate that if everyone around the world routinely washed their hands, a million deaths could be prevented every year. The CDC reports that although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Soap and water available for hand washing may be less available in developing countries, and even when soap is available, it is often reserved for bathing and laundry instead. Washing hands with soap removes bacteria much more effectively than washing with plain water. About 1.8 million children younger than the age of 5 die … [Read more...]

California Sets Strictest Antibiotic Standards for Factory Farm Use

California has just passed a law setting the strictest standards for antibiotic use in farm animals in the country. Senate Bill 27, which was enrolled September 26, 2015, prohibits the administration of "medically important antimicrobial drugs, as defined, to livestock unless ordered by a licensed veterinarian through a prescription or veterinary feed directive." The bill prohibits using antibiotics solely for purposes of gaining weight or improving feed efficiency. The governor's signing statement states "SB 27 addresses an urgent public health program. The science is clear that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock has contributed to the spread of antibiotic resistance and the undermining of decades of life-saving advances in medicine." The FDA set voluntary standards last year … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Says Privatized Poultry Inspection Jeopardizes Food Safety

The advocacy organization Food & Water Watch has released a statement saying that privatized meat inspections jeopardize food safety. Food Poisoning Bulletin has been telling you about the government's effort to turn inspections of meat plants over to corporations for years. This analysis, conducted on inspection documents and noncompliance reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveals defects in HIMP, USDA's HACCP-based Inspection Models Project. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, "Based on the data coming out of the plants where this privatized inspection scheme is already in place, it is unacceptable for USDA to try to expand this program to more plants." The pilot project has been running in 24 slaughter … [Read more...]

Do You Eat Fish? Learn About Ciguatera Food Poisoning

You don't often hear about ciguatera food poisoning, unless you are part of the fishing industry. This naturally occurring toxin found in fish can cause serious foodborne illness. Cooking does not deactivate the toxin, so even properly cooked seafood can make you sick. In the past few years, there have been several outbreaks and recalls related to this toxin. This type of food poisoning is responsible for the highest reported incidence of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to finfish around the world, according to a study published in Toxicon by Robert Dickey and Steven M. Plakaas. The algae that produces the toxin is usually located in the tropics, but these harmful algal blooms have been occurring in Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and Miami in recent years. As coral reefs deteriorate … [Read more...]

Food Safety Tips for Hurricane Joaquin Areas

If you live in an area that is affected by Hurricane Joaquin, the USDA has food safety tips for you. This hurricane has killed seven people in South Carolina and has caused extensive flooding. These types of weather events cause power outages that could compromise the safety of food. If you do lose power, keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer to ensure that temperatures remain 40°F or lower in the fridge, and 0°F or lower in the freezer. Water frozen in one quart containers can keep food safe for a few hours. Dry ice or block ice is a good solution too. If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A closed refrigerator will keep food safe for four hours, and a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for about 48 … [Read more...]

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