April 20, 2014

Spring Celebration Egg Food Safety Advice

Hard Cooked Egg

The folks at FightBac.org are offering some tips for keeping your food safe during spring celebrations. Easter and Passover feature lots of eggs, which can be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, especially Salmonella enteritidis. Clean hands are key. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after food handling. Be careful about cross-contamination. Always wash utensils, food contact surfaces, cooking equipment, blenders, cutting boards, etc. in hot water and soap between uses. Since bacteria grow in moist, protein-rich foods, always refrigerate eggs and foods made with egg. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below, and always use a refrigerator thermometer to monitor the temperature. Remember the two hour rule: after two hours, … [Read more...]

Ham Smoothies, Rodent Poop Doritos and Other Gross Food News

Turkeydinner

Ham smoothies are one of several recipes for leftovers that top this month's edition of the Neews, food safety stories that put the eew in news. Comedian Keith Guerke posed as a chef and hit the Midwest's morning talk show circuit over the holidays to plug his (fake) book "Leftovers Right: Making a Winner of Last Night's Dinner." Hats off to the morning show reporters who gamely participated in making, admiring and tasting some of Guerke's creations including a smoothie made from ham, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy and milk.  "Jamba Juice, eat your heart out," Guerke quipped, as he assembled the concoction. The smoothie ingredients varied from show to show. One had turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and milk. In another, Guerke showed the host how to store “six … [Read more...]

Women’s History Month: FDA Spotlights Public Health Pioneer Frances Oldham Kelsey

Frances Oldahm Kelsey staved off a public health tragedy

During Women's History Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spotlighting the careers of food safety and public health pioneers such as Frances Oldham Kelsey, M.D. Kelsey's insistence that there was insufficient evidence to support claims that thalidomide was a safe drug staved off tragedy and aided in the passage of a law reforming drug regulation. During the 1950s and 1960s, thalidomide was approved for sale in several European countries and prescribed to pregnant women suffering from morning sickness. Reviewing the drug, made by the William S. Merrell Company of Cincinnati, was one Kelsey's first assignments after joining the agency as one of a handful of medical officers in 1960. Despite heavy and constant pressure form the drug's maker, Kelsey said the … [Read more...]

Women’s History Month: FDA Spotlights Public Health Pioneer Ruth Kirschstein

Ruth_kirschstein

During Women's History Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spotlighting the careers of public health pioneers such as pathologist Ruth Kirschstein, M.D. Kirschstein was the first woman to direct the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. She also served as deputy director of the National Institutes of Health in the 1990s, and was acting director of the NIH in 1993 and from 2000 to 2002. Kirschstein was born in Brooklyn in 1926. Her parents wee both teachers. She earned her B. A. from Long Island University in Brooklyn in 1947 and entered Tulane Medical School that same year as one of just ten women in a class of 110. She received her M.D. four years later and completed her residency with an NIH-funded fellowship in pathology in Tulane. In 1955, the year … [Read more...]

Women’s History Month: The FDA Spotlights Sharon Holston

sharon_holston

During Women's History Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spotlighting the careers of food safety and public health pioneers such as Sharon Holston, the agency’s first equal employment officer for the Office of the Commissioner and moved up through a number of positions in the agency before retiring from her final post as Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs in 1994. Under FDA’s long-term training program, she gained a master’s degree in Public Administration at the Harvard School of Government. After graduating, she returned to the agency and was later named Associate Commissioner for Management and Operations. In this role she helped to: create new guidelines for FDA criminal investigators, implement new generic drug regulations, and to establish the agency's … [Read more...]

Spring Break? The CDC Has Two Words For You: Travelers’ Diarrhea

food-water-whats-safer

If you're traveling for spring break, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants you to remember that eating or drinking sketchy fare can give you "travelers' diarrhea." To help spring breakers reduce the risk of spending their vacations in a hotel bathroom, the agency has compiled some tips. Foods that get the thumbs up: food that is cooked and served hot, hard cooked eggs, fruits and veggies that you have washed with clean bottled water or that can be peeled. Foods to avoid: food served at room temperature, food from street vendors, raw, soft-cooked or runny eggs,  raw or rare fish or meat, exotic meats such as monkey, bats or wild game, salads, salsa or other condiments made with fresh ingredients, vegetables that have not been cooked, washed or peeled, flavored ice … [Read more...]

Proper Hand Washing for Kids and Teens

handwashing-norovirus

One of the most important tools in the fight against food poisoning is hand washing. Unfortunately, even adults are sometimes lax when it comes to washing hands properly. Kids, who are more susceptible to food borne illness, may need special lessons and prompting about this crucial hygiene issue. Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing and serving food, while you are preparing food (especially after handling raw meats and eggs), before eating, and after playing with pets or taking out the trash. It's also important to tell kids to wash their hands frequently when they're sick, especially after they cough or sneeze. To properly wash hands, wet them under warm running water. Add some soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds. To time this, since "Happy … [Read more...]

The Five Second Rule is Real

Spaghetti on Floor

Students and scientists at Aston University's School of Life and Health Sciences in Birmingham, England have tested the so-called "five second rule" and found it does apply in real life. That rule, which was most likely coined as tongue-in-cheek, states that if food is dropped on the floor and left there for less than five seconds, bacteria don't adhere to it and it's safe to eat. The findings suggest that many foods (not all) that are picked up just a few seconds after being dropped are less likely to harbor bacteria than food left on the floor for longer periods of time. [Editor's caveat: I think it depends on how often your floor is cleaned, if animals walk on the kitchen floor, and if you go into the kitchen wearing shoes you wear outside. Kitchen floors can harbor pathogenic … [Read more...]

Consumers Can Report Food Safety Complaints to USDA, FDA

FoodSafety

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has an Electronic Consumer Complaint Reporting Form that anyone can use to file a complaint. The form covers any incident of "reports of illness, injury, foreign objects, contamination (including chemical contamination), allergic reactions, and improper labeling" associated with meat, poultry, or processed egg products. Those are the foods governed by the USDA. Consumers are the last line of defense in food safety. Even though corporations and food manufacturers must file an HACCP plan and adhere to food safety standards, contamination, improper labeling, and unsafe foods are produced all the time. This reporting system may help prevent injuries and illnesses by alerting public health authorities to … [Read more...]

Cannibals Have Restaurants, Too And Other Gross Food News

A cannibal restaurant, a rodent infestation map of NYC restaurants and gross conditions at an NY cheese maker are this month's gross food stories.

It tuns out that cannibals like a break from cooking, too. A cannibal restaurant tops this month's edition of the Neews, food safety stories that put the eew in news. Earlier this month, police in Anambra, Nigeria 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. In any other month, Steve Melendez and his Ratopia Restaurant Map featured in Gothamist would have been a Neews headliner.  Using information from New York City's health deaprtment, Melendez created a color-coded map that shows by zip code the percentage of restaurants with a rodent … [Read more...]

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