November 23, 2014

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

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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

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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?

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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...]

Center for Food Safety: The Truth About Produce Wash

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Center for Food Safety has written about produce wash, those treatments for washing fruits and vegetables that are promoted as a way to avoid food poisoning. Many foodborne illness outbreaks are linked to fresh product, and consumers want to keep their families safe. So do produce washes work? CFS states "it turns out the produce washes aren't any better than water. Multiple studies have found that produce washes such as Fit and Earth Friendly are no more effective in cleaning produce than regular tap water. In a study of three commercial washes, University of Maine researchers found that distilled water was equally if not more effective in removing microbes such as bacteria and mold." Scientists at the Univeristy of Maine tested Fit, Ozone Water Purifier XT-301, and J0-4 … [Read more...]

FDA Offers Prize for Breakthrough Food Safety Ideas

FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is offering a challenge to scientists on how to identify Salmonella in produce. The challenge, called "Advancing Breakthroughs in Foodborne Pathogen Detection" offers $500,000 in prizes for "cutting-edge techniques to achieve significant improvements in the speed of the FDA's detection methods for Salmonella with identification to the subtype/serovar level in minimally processed fresh produce." Five finalists will be awarded $20,000 each. The government is most interested in ideas that use novel or revolutionary techniques for detection and those that explore the acceleration or elimination of sample preparation. The challenge was developed under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 that gives federal agencies the ability to hold … [Read more...]

Maggots in School Lunches in KY and TN

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High school students in Kentucky and Tennessee found maggots in their school lunches this week. A student at Overton High School in Tennessee made an Instagram video of the maggot wiggling around on the plate, WMC Action News 5 reported. Other students also reported finding maggots in their food. Shelby County Schools sent a statement to the station that read; "It has been reported on some news outlets that multiple students are now claiming to have found maggots in their lunches this week at Overton High School. It is true that we have confirmation of one student finding an insect in a single meal. This is certainly regrettable; however, we do want to be very clear that there have been no maggots found in any meals this week. The temperatures at which our food is prepared and served … [Read more...]

Utah’s Raw Milk Campylobacter Outbreak is Largest in 5 Years

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Outbreaks of Campylobacter infection in Utah have been linked to raw milk consumption 14 times in the past five years, sickening more than 200 people. The largest of those outbreaks began in May of this year and was announced one week ago when the Utah Deparment of Agriculture and Food announced that it had suspended the Raw Milk for Retail distribution permit held by Ogden's Ropelato Dairy. As of August 26, state health officials had traced 45 illnesses to the Weber County raw milk operation. Of the 14 Utah raw milk Campylobacter outbreaks, two have been associated with the Ropelato farm, located at 4019 W. 1800 South, Ogden, state records show. The previous outbreak was recorded in May 2010, sickening a smaller cluster of people  in three counties. Regardless, Utah agriculture … [Read more...]

Back to School Lunch Safety Tips for Parents

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The USDA is offering back to school safety tips for parents. Children are at high risk of contracting food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing. Children under the age of 5 have the highest incidence of Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter infections of any age group in this country. The four food safety tips of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill must be followed in the kitchen. USDA recommends that before school starts, parents and kids try a food safety experiment to ensure that home-packed lunches are safe to eat. Pack the lunch and store it as they would at school. After the normal time between packing and lunch time has passed, test the temperature of the food. Cold items should be below 40°F and hot items should be above 140°F. Any foods in between those … [Read more...]

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