August 30, 2015

USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline Turns 30


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 Offers Food Safety Tips to Those Affected by Severe Weather


The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for the Northeast, Central Appalachians and Ohio Valley because of severe thunderstorms. These storms may cause power outages that could compromise the safety of food in consumers' homes. If the power goes out, keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator and 0°F or lower in the freezer. Freeze water in 1-quart containers before the storm to help keep food cold. They can be put around the food in both appliances to keep food cold. Freeze leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry before the storm to keep them at a safe temperature longer. Know where you can get block or dry ice to help keep food cold. Fifty pounds of dry … [Read more...]

Memorial Day and Summer Holiday Food Safety Tips from the FDA

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The FDA has released tips on eating safely this Memorial Day. Safe food handling when eating outdoors is important and can be tricky. When you are transporting food for a picnic or potluck, make sure to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Cold food should be stored at temperatures below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen so they stay colder longer. Organize cooler components. A plain picnic basket usually isn't insulated enough to hold perishable foods. Use two coolers, with beverages in one and perishable foods in another. As people take out drinks, they won't expose food to warm outdoor temperatures. Keep coolers closed too. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped and separate from foods that will be eaten raw. … [Read more...]

Consumers Will Pay More for Eggs Because of Bird Flu

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The highly-pathogenic avian influenza has spread across the central United States, killing about 39 million chickens, turkeys, and other birds since December 2014. This will affect egg supplies and prices, and may even affect prices for Thanksgiving turkeys this fall. Goldman Sachs reports that U.S. consumers will probably pay $8 billion more to buy eggs this year. That is an increase of at least 75% from last year. Corporations that buy eggs in bulk will also spend much more money. Large chains are concentrating on securing egg supplies. According to the American Egg Board, U.S. consumers ate almost 260 egg per person last year. The bird flu was introduced into this country by wild migrating birds, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. If the virus moves east, the … [Read more...]

World Health Day Stresses Food Safety

Today is World Health Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) is making the centerpiece of this year's celebration food safety. New data on the harm caused by food poisoning stresses the global threat caused by contaminated food. WHO states that there is a need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a statement, "food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals." Food that is not safe to eat can contain bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemical substances. Unsafe food can cause more than 200 diseases. WHO is releasing the … [Read more...]

After Easter, a Word About Egg Safety

After Easter, most people have hard cooked eggs that they have dyed for the holiday. The FDA wants you to know some food safety tips for handling this food. Fresh eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria that are in the actual egg itself, not just on the shell. The FDA estimates that 142,000 illnesses are caused by consumers eating eggs that are contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria. Although there are regulations in place to help prevent contamination on the farm and during shipping, eggs will contain Salmonella. The bacteria is actually in the hen's ovaries. Consumers are the last measure of defense against food poisoning from eggs. All cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella bacteria are required to display this safe handling statement: "To … [Read more...]

USDA Releases “FoodKeeper” App for Consumers


The USDA, along with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, has released FoodKeeper, an app that will help consumers keep the food in their homes safe while minimizing food waste. American consumers waste at least 30% of the food they buy, which comes to about 133 billion pounds every year. FoodKeeper "contains food safety and storage advice to help you maintain freshness and quality of foods," according to the Food Marketing Institute. The app gives consumers information on temperature and storage for items that must be refrigerated, information about packaging, freezer burn, and defrosting frozen food, and information on temperature and storage of low-acid canned foods, high-acid canned goods, and canned hams. The app is free for download on the App Store and Google … [Read more...]

USDA Inspectors Say HIMP Compromises Food Safety

Three current and one retired USDA officials are criticizing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Inspection Models Project (HIMP) at hog processing facilities. HIMP increases line speeds and lets company employees do some of the inspection work formerly done by government employees. They say that food safety has been compromised as a result of these projects. Affidavits were released last week by the Government Accountability Project detailing the problems. As a result of these documents, GAP Food Integrity Campaign wants Hormel Foods to reduce line speeds at its facilities. USDA released an assessment of HIMP in November 2014, stating that the five participating plants are performing as well as those under the current inspection system. In one of the affidavits, an … [Read more...]

Safe Food Act of 2015 Introduced to Congress

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Safe Food Act of 2015 to Congress today. The legislation would consolidate federal food safety activities into one independent agency called the Food Safety Administration. Durbin and DeLauro have introduced this legislation in 1999, 2004, 2005, and 2007. Currently, oversight of the nation's food supply is split up among 15 different agencies. The Act states that since the safety of the food supply is vital to the public health and the economy, and lapses in the protection of food supply damage consumers and the industry, the safety and security of the food supply requires an integrated, systemwide approach to preventing foodborne illness. DeLauro said in a statement, "Government has a responsibility … [Read more...]

Year End Wrap Up of Gross Food News: The Neews in 2014

It’s the last Sunday of the month and the last Sunday of the year, so it’s time for a special year-end edition of The Neews,  our monthly feature of food stories that put the eew in news. Here are some highlights: In February, we shared the story of police in Anambra, Nigeria who shut down a hotel restaurant that had been serving human flesh, according to story in The Independent. Police, who discovered two bloodsoaked human heads wrapped in cellophane, two AK-47s, other weapons and a cache of cell phones at the restaurant, arrested the owner and 10 other people. Also in February, Steve Melendez shared his Ratopia Restaurant Map in Gothamist.  Using information from New York City’s health department, Melendez created a color-coded map that shows by zip code the percentage of restaurants … [Read more...]

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