December 19, 2014

Senators Question Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Task Force

Antibiotics

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have sent a letter to Secretaries Chuck Hagel, Tom Vilsack and Sylvia Burwell of the Interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to ask how gaps in the FDA's plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be addressed. President Obama issued an executive order on September 18, 2014 to set up that Task Force. The first guiding principle of the national strategy is that "misuse and over-use of antibiotics in health care and food production continue to hasten the development of bacterial drug resistance, leading to the loss of efficacy of existing antibiotics." But almost 75% of the antibiotics sold every year in this country are used in food animal production, in a way that … [Read more...]

Common Kitchen Food Safety Mistakes

refrigerator-thermometer

Researchers at Institute of Food Technologies have released information on the five most common food safety mistakes consumers make in their kitchens. The team videotaped 120 consumers as they prepared a chicken and a salad at home. Most consumers felt they were handling and cooking the food correctly, but many made critical mistakes. The first was not washing hands before starting to prepare food. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before starting to cook, and dried with a paper towel, not a cloth towel that can become contaminated. The second mistake was washing chicken. When chicken is washed under running water, the bacteria aerosolizes and spreads up to 3 feet away. The bacteria then ends up in the sink and surrounding countertops, and some may … [Read more...]

Canada’s Food Safety System Ranked Best in the World

Canada

According to the government of Canada, their food safety system has ranked first out of 17 countries on food safety performance. The University of Guelph's Food Institute compared the food safety systems of 17 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The ranking scores are determined by 10 indicators in the areas of assessment, management, and communication. Other countries in the study included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Canada and Ireland tied for first. France was second, and the UK, Norway, and the United States were in the top five. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) helped … [Read more...]

Gross Food News Stadium Edition: Mold and Bugs With That Hot Dog?

Hotdog

Mold in the ice machines, cockroaches and mice poop in food preparation areas and blocked handwashing sinks are just some of the food safety violations routinely found at Kansas City's Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, according to a report on ESPN's Outside the Lines. The report is based on information from the food manager of the stadiums, which are homes to the Royals and the Chiefs. Jon Costa is the district food safety manager for Aramark, a food service company that contracts with schools, businesses and 30 professional sports teams. The conditions at the stadiums are a "recipe for foodborne illness," he told ESPN. Costa said he spent months trying to get Aramark to reprimand employees as he was powerless to do so. He emailed his concerns with photos of violations, including … [Read more...]

Safe Turkey Handling Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving

Holiday turkey on white

The folks at Holiday Food Safety are offering tips for handling your turkey safely for a happy Thanksgiving. The Partnership for Food Safety Education includes the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Institute of Food Technology, and other organizations. Before you buy the turkey, make sure you have room for it in your fridge. Always store the turkey in a large pan so raw juices don't drip and contaminate other foods. If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure you leave enough time for it to thaw. It takes about 24 hours for every four to five pounds to thaw in the fridge, so by now it's too late. But you can cook your turkey from the frozen state! Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the raw turkey. Never ever defrost the turkey on … [Read more...]

More Food Safety Election Day News

Congress

The election may be over, but the food movement is still making news about ballot initiatives and members of Congress. In Oregon, the initiative to label genetically engineered foods is still too close to call. Measure 92 is only 6,900 votes behind, and enough absentee ballots are still outstanding that it may pass. The ballots will be counted until November 18. In Maui, voters passed an initiative to "prohibit the growth, testing, or cultivation of genetially engineered crops" until environmental and public health studies show they are safe. The opposition, consisting mostly Monsanto and Dow Chemical, spent $362 per vote and still lost. Voters in California's Humboldt County also voted to ban GE crops from their farmlands. Four other counties in California already ban these … [Read more...]

USDA Food Safety Tips for Winter Weather Emergencies

Snow-Storm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)  has compiled some food safety tips for those affected by severe winter weather in the northern Rockies and upper Great Lakes. Heavy snowfalls in Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan could cause power outages posing which create food safety risks. FSIS recommends consumers follow these steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events. Before the storm, purchase appliance thermometers for the refrigerator and the freezer, freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. Group foods together in the freezer, it will help them stay cold longer. Freeze water in one-quart plastic … [Read more...]

Bacteria in Kitchen Towels: Or Why I Use Paper Towels

Kitchen Towel

I am, obviously, extremely conscious of food safety in the kitchen. I have had food poisoning twice in my life: once as a child after eating hard boiled eggs that were left at room temperature, and as an adult after eating candied pineapple. Those terrible experiences, and my education, have prompted me to help others avoid this horrible illness. I try to tell you about prompt refrigeration, cleaning methods, safe cooking and handling methods, and other factors that can affect your risk of getting food poisoning. This topic is not well covered: the safety of kitchen towels. A new study published in Food Protection Trends documents the presence of bacteria in kitchen sponges and dishcloths. Researchers looked at kitchen hand towels and tested them to see if they contain pathogenic … [Read more...]

Congress Members Ask for More Answers on Poultry Inspection

Chickencarcass

Fifteen members of Congress sent a letter last week to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the new poultry inspection system that has been criticized by consumer, food safety, and workplace safety advocates. They wrote they are "extremely disappointed" that the USDA did not address their concerns about the new rule about HIMP, or the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). The letter states "the new rule will create a system that is detrimental to food and worker safety, as well as animal welfare. This rule abdicates food safety oversight from the USDA into the hands of industry and it places workers in jeopardy." The rule removes USDA-FSIS inspectors from processing lines in poultry plants and instead lets corporations use their own employees for inspections. This creates a … [Read more...]

How Do Your Representatives Score on Food Policy?

Congress

Food Policy Action has released its Legislative Scorecard for the 113th Congress. It gives 71 members perfect scores, and 35 a score of zero. The grades were set based on how the Senators and Representatives voted on six specific bills relating to food safety, domestic hunger programs, animal welfare, nutrition, organic farming, and food accessibility and if they sponsored the eight related bills that did not come to a vote. The list of bills used on the Scorecard include the Senate's Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013 (PARA), the House's Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2013 (PAMTA) and the Grayson Food Safety Inspection Amendment. Tom Colicchio, FPA board member, said in a statement, "few things have as much of an impact on our lives as food. … [Read more...]

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