November 30, 2015

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...]

Food Policy Action Releases Congressional Scorecard

Food Policy Action, a coalition of Environmental Working Group and other agencies, has published its Congressional scorecard for the year. Other members of the agency include the Humane Society of the United States, Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Oxfam America, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others. The stated mission is to "highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm … [Read more...]

Study Finds Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods

Food safety advice for home cooks has always included certain rules. Always wash your hands before preparing foods and after handling raw meats, poultry, and eggs; keep perishable foods refrigerated, and wash all utensils well after using them. But a new study conducted at the University of Georgia has found that utensils should also be washed after each use and before they are used on another food. Scientists found that the bacteria will "latch on" to utensils such as knives and graters and then contaminate the next food prepared with that item. But most consumers are not aware that this problem exists, according to the study's lead author Marilyn Erickson, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' department of food science and technology. … [Read more...]

The FDA Has Advice for Keeping Halloween Safe, Not Scary

The FDA has some food safety advice to keep Halloween this year safe, not scary. Always check the treats your children bring home after going out in their costumes. I'm old enough to remember the scares in the 1980s when some very disturbed people tampered with Halloween candy. Don't let people snack on their treats and candy while they are out trick-or-treating. They should eat a meal or snack before they leave the house, and should not go out on an empty stomach. Always check the candy and treats before the kids eat them. Look for strange appearances or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in the wrappers. Don't let the kids accept anything that isn't commercially wrapped; if your kids are older, warn them about this before they go out. And always throw away anything that looks … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Says Privatized Poultry Inspection Jeopardizes Food Safety

The advocacy organization Food & Water Watch has released a statement saying that privatized meat inspections jeopardize food safety. Food Poisoning Bulletin has been telling you about the government's effort to turn inspections of meat plants over to corporations for years. This analysis, conducted on inspection documents and noncompliance reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveals defects in HIMP, USDA's HACCP-based Inspection Models Project. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, "Based on the data coming out of the plants where this privatized inspection scheme is already in place, it is unacceptable for USDA to try to expand this program to more plants." The pilot project has been running in 24 slaughter … [Read more...]

Food Safety Tips for Hurricane Joaquin Areas

If you live in an area that is affected by Hurricane Joaquin, the USDA has food safety tips for you. This hurricane has killed seven people in South Carolina and has caused extensive flooding. These types of weather events cause power outages that could compromise the safety of food. If you do lose power, keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer to ensure that temperatures remain 40°F or lower in the fridge, and 0°F or lower in the freezer. Water frozen in one quart containers can keep food safe for a few hours. Dry ice or block ice is a good solution too. If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A closed refrigerator will keep food safe for four hours, and a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for about 48 … [Read more...]

Pritzker Olsen Clients Speak Out on Food Safety

The American Association for Justice held a press conference today on the importance of litigation in food safety. The civil justice system is one of the last resources consumers have to protect themselves against contaminated foods put into commerce by big business. Lawsuits are "sometimes the only mechanism for deterring negligent behavior and rooting out systemic problems in the food chain," according to the report, Food Safety and the Civil Justice System. In June of 2012, John McKissick ate soft cheese that was imported into the United States from Italy. He got very sick with listeriosis and was hospitalized for months. For most of that time, he was unconscious and suffered from hallucinations and sepsis. His wife Pat contacted Pritzker Olsen law firm, which underwrites Food … [Read more...]

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

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...]

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