February 5, 2016

Food Safety for Super Bowl 50

The 50th Super Bowl will be played next Sunday, February 7, 2016, and the USDA is offering tips to help you serve a safe buffet or meal during your party. Food safety has changed in the last 50 years, along with the game. The most important change in food safety is that using a good, reliable food thermometer is the only way to make sure that meat, poultry, and egg products are cooked to safe temperatures. And research has shown that kitchen towels can be a source of cross-contamination, so either wash them frequently in the hot cycle of the washing machine, or use paper towels while you work in the kitchen (and don't reuse those!). The four basic tenets of food safety remain: Clean, Separate, Cook, & Chill. Always wash your hands well with warm water and soap for 20 seconds … [Read more...]

Keep Your Food Safe During the Storm

A huge winter storm is approaching the Northeast United States, and may cause flooding and power outages. The FDA is offering advice to prepare for this storm and keep your food safe. Before the storm, make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be set to 40°F or lower, and the freezer should be at 0°F or lower. The thermometers will help you determine if the food is safe if there is a power outage. Frozen items in a closed, well filled freezer can stay safe up to 48 hours. If the power is out for more than four hours, refrigerated food should be transferred to coolers with ice cubes or frozen gel packs. Purchase or make ice cubes in advance and freeze gel packs ahead of time. Store these items in the freezer. Make sure you … [Read more...]

FoodSafety.gov Offers Hand Washing Advice

FoodSafety.gov is offering advice about hand washing, now that the holidays are over and cold and flu season is here. Proper hand washing is the most effective way to reduce infection and illness, especially foodborne illness. People often touch their ears, eyes, and noses without even realizing they are doing it. Your hands should be washed before eating food, before, during, and after preparing food, before and after treating a cut or wound, and before and after caring for someone who is sick. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, and seafood. The correct way to wash your hands is to use warm water, lots of soap, and lather for 20 seconds. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between the fingers, and under the … [Read more...]

North Carolina Sued Over Ag-Gag Law

A coalition of consumer, animal rights, and food safety organizations filed a federal lawsuit last week challenging the constitutionality of a North Carolina ag gag law. The law is designed to deter whistleblowers and undercover investigators from gathering and publicizing information about misconduct. Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill in June 2015, but the state legislature overrode the veto. This law allows lawsuits and damages against people who "expose improper or criminal conduct by North Carolina employers," according to a statement by Food & Water Watch. The complaint states that the law is intended to punish those who "set out to investigate employers and property owners' conduct because they believe there is value in exposing employers and property owners' unethical … [Read more...]

New 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Released

The Obama administration has released new dietary guidelines for 2015 - 2020, as is standard every five years. They state that nutrition and health are closely related. A message from the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and USDA states that about half of American adults have preventable chronic diseases related to poor dietary habits. The focus of this edition is on disease prevention, not treatment. The main purpose of the Guidelines is to inform the development of Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, Women Infants and Children (WIC) and the Administration on Aging. Since the rates of chronic illnesses have increased, the government wants Americans to focus more on healthy nutrition and more exercise. The most … [Read more...]

Caffeine in Peanut Butter? FDA Wants More Info

Did you know that one corporation is adding caffeine to peanut butter? STEEM Peanut Butter, Inc. has been doing this, and the FDA is not sure they like it. There is 150 mg of caffeine in each serving of that peanut butter. On December 15, 2015, the FDA sent STEEM a letter asking for information about their use of caffeine in this product. The company has not submitted any information about the safety of caffeine in this product to the FDA. The FDA "remains concerned about the increasing number of products on the market containing added caffeine and the possibility for harmful effects when multiple caffeinated products are eaten simultaneously, especially in products that are attractive to children," the letter states. The U.S. government has not developed guidelines for children's … [Read more...]

Costco Warehouse Fails Food Safety Inspection in Florida

The Costco Warehouse at 10921 Causeway Boulevard in Brandon, Florida failed a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspection this week. On Monday, December 14, 2015, food safety inspectors found enough problems in the "Club Demonstration Services" area that it was closed under a "Stop Use Order." Inspectors found live roaches in that area and in the food storage and ware-washing room. Several food items were removed from sale because they were being held at dangerous temperatures. Crab legs were being held at 55°F and sausages were being held at 46°F. Perishable foods must be held at 40°F or below so bacteria will not grow. In addition, inspectors found cross-contamination problems. Raw eggs were stored above almond milk in the dairy walk in cooler. Bacteria from … [Read more...]

Sending Food This Holiday Season? Pack it Safely.

Foodsafety.gov is offering tips for safely sending food through the mail this holiday season. If the food you are packing is perishable, food poisoning is a risk. And if you are ordering food from a company, you should make sure they understand how to handle perishable goods. When ordering from a company, make sure that they send meats, poultry, and processed foods such as salads and potatoes, cold or frozen and packed with a cold source. The preferred cold source is dry ice to keep the package temperature as low as possible. The food should also be packed in a foam container or a heavily corrugated cardboard container to hold in the cold. And the food should be delivered as quickly as possible, preferably overnight. If you are packing food yourself to send through the mail, … [Read more...]

Why Are JEM Nut Butters Contaminated with Salmonella?

The Salmonella outbreak linked to JEM raw brand sprouted nut butter spreads has sickened at least 11 people in 9 states. This is not the first time nut butters have caused illness. Why are these products, which are relatively low in moisture and not usually considered a food safety risk, harboring pathogenic bacteria? According to the University of California-Davis, tree nuts can be a vehicle for foodborne pathogens. The tree nuts are too dry to support the growth of bacteria, but Salmonella and E. coli bacteria cause illness with only a few present. Tree nut handlers are supposed to consider Salmonella and STEC bacteria a major public health risk in their HACCP plans. Any raw food is a risk for bacteria, whether it's raw nuts, poultry, beef, seafood, or produce. Contamination can … [Read more...]

USDA: Countdown to Thanksgiving

The USDA is offering food safety and meal planning tips for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. That holiday is a week away, and now is the time to start planning. First, plan early and shop early to make sure that nothing is forgotten. Shelf stable items and foods that can be safely stored for a week should be purchased now. Clean the fridge and use up foods that take space in that appliance. Make sure that you have the right equipment for the meal. The roasting pan has to be large enough for the turkey. You should have a food thermometer to make sure that all food is cooked to a safe temperature. Turkey should be cooke dot a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, checked in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of … [Read more...]

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