October 20, 2017

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...]

Tips to Prevent Botulism Poisoning in Home Canned Goods

With harvest season upon us, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued important information, through Foodsafety.gov, about the dangers of botulism and the steps home canners should take to prevent the proliferation of toxins in their canned goods. Armed with this knowledge, home cooks will be able to ensure that the foods they put away for the winter months are safe for consumption. Botulism is an illness caused by the soil-based Clostridium botulinum germ. When vegetables containing the germ are improperly canned, it can grow and create a tasteless, odorless toxin that can cause deadly nerve damage and paralysis if consumed. Low-acid vegetables with a pH level greater than 4.6 are especially likely to cause botulism, since they aren’t acidic enough to … [Read more...]

Oysters and Vibriosis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing information about the risk of contracting a Vibrio infection when consuming raw oysters. Summer is prime oyster season. And it's the time of year when most illnesses from raw oysters occur. In fact, a man in Washington state recently contracted a Vibrio infection when he purchased a live fish from a fish tank. One of the most common illnesses linked to raw oysters is vibriosis. This infection is caused by the Vibrio vulnificus or the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria that occur naturally in seawater. Oysters are filter eaters, which means they draw in seawater and filter out the food and bacteria. The bacteria then become concentrated in the oysters flesh. Most Vibrio infections are caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus. … [Read more...]

California Reminds Residents About Safe Summer Food Handling

The California Department of Public Health has issued a press release, reminding Californias to follow food safety rules this summer to avoid illness. Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter are the most common bacteria that cause food poisoning outbreaks. There are some effective steps you can take to reduce your risk of illness. Follow simple safety tips for properly preparing and handling food. Follow the four "C's": Clean, Cross-Contamination, Cook, and Chill. For "clean," always wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before you prepare food, before you eat, and after handling food. Scrub cutting boards with hot, soapy water after preparing each item. And wash and thoroughly rinse utensils and cutting boards. Keep pets away from food preparation … [Read more...]

Cow with Atypical BSE Diagnosed in Alabama

The USDA announced on Tuesday, July 18, 201 that an eleven year old cow in Alabama has been diagnosed with an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. The press release states that "This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States." The animal was showing clinical signs of the disease and was round through routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. Atypical BSE is different from classic BSE and it usually occurs in cattle older than 8 years. It arises spontaneously and rarely in all cattle populations. The press release from the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries states that following delivery to the livestock market, the cow later … [Read more...]

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