May 22, 2015

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

FoodKeeper

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...]

USDA Offers Tips for a Safe Holiday Season

The USDA is offering tips to help keep your holiday season safe. Whether you're entertaining at home or carrying food to a potluck, there are rules you need to follow to make sure the food you have prepared and are serving doesn't make someone sick. First, if you have specific concerns, call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or chat with a food safety speciality at AskKaren.gov. When shopping, make sure you keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods in the cart. Buy cold and frozen foods last so they stay cold. And always place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate bag at checkout. Go home immediately after you are finished shopping so food doesn't get to unsafe temperatures in the trunk of your car. Make sure you follow the rules of … [Read more...]

Senators Question Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Task Force

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

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...]

FDA Food Safety Tips for the Immune Compromised on World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day and because those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for food poisoning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has compiled some food safety tips for those with HIV/AIDS or those who prepare food for them. Avoid high-risk foods. Raw foods and beverages such as raw dairy, raw shellfish, raw meat and poultry and raw fruit sand vegetables are can all carry harmful viruses and bacteria. Other high-risk foods include deli salads, lunch meat that is eaten without being reheated, smoked fish and sprouts which have been linked to three food poisoning outbreaks this year. When dining out, make sure to avoid high risk foods including rare hamburgers and runny eggs. If your food isn't hot when it is served ask that it be heated up before you … [Read more...]

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