June 18, 2019

With Warm Weather Here, Learn How to Handle Food Safely Outdoors

With warm weather finally here, many people are planning barbecues and picnics. But warm weather presents special challenges to keeping food safety. Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures above 40°F and food needs to be handled carefully. The FDA has some advice about how to handle food safely outdoors. First, pack food safety. All cold food should be kept cold. Put child food into a cooler that has ice or frozen gel packs. All cold food should be stored below 40°F to prevent and slow bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while it's still frozen so they stay colder longer. Organize the cooler contents carefully. Put beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in a second. That way, when you open the cooler to get beverages, perishable foods won't be exposed to … [Read more...]

FDA Addresses Consumer Confusion Over Use By Dates

Frank Yiannas, who is Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response for the FDA, wrote a letter to the food industry on May 23, 2019, addressing consumer confusion over "Sell By," "Use By," and "Best If Used By Dates," as they probably contribute to food waste in the United States. The USDA's Economic Research Service estimates that 30% of the food in this country is lost or wasted at the retail or consumer level. That translates to 133 billion pounds of food lost, that is worth $161 billion. Every year. The use of these phrases is voluntary, and are used to describe quality dates, not spoilage dates. In a 2007 survey of U.S. consumers, less than half were able to distinguish between the meanings of these commonly used phrases. The FDA has found that food waste by consumers … [Read more...]

Food Safety Myths: The Truth and the Rumors

Food safety is a complicated issue. But there are some facts, and some myths about this topic. Unfortunately, many of the myths, if believed, can cause some serious problems and may mean hospitalization for some people. Foodsafety.gov has compiled a list of food safety myths and the facts that debunk them. Some of these myths arise from old wives' tales; others have been spread over the internet. These are the top 10 food safety myths. Food poisoning isn't that big a deal. Actually, food poisoning sickens 48,000,000 Americans every year. At least 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Food poisoning is much more than a stomach upset and some vomiting or diarrhea. People can develop sepsis and dehydration and need hospitalization. In addition, some pathogens can … [Read more...]

CDC Says: Don’t Rinse That Chicken!

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) is reiterating advice it has given before: don't rinse that chicken! Americans eat more chicken than any other meat, and chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridum perfringens bacteria. Anyone who purchases raw chicken should handle it carefully to prevent food poisoning. Cooks and even cookbooks have told consumers to rinse chicken before cooking. But that advice is incorrect; don't rinse that chicken!  Bacteria can aerosolize under running water, and can contaminate everything within a 3-foot radius of the faucet. That means that the sink, countertop, and even you can be contaminated with pathogens if you rinse your chicken. The only thing that gets rid of bacteria on chicken is cooking it to … [Read more...]

FDA to Launch “New Era of Smarter Food Safety”

Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas are announcing a "New Era of Smarter Food Safety" to help combat increasing cases of foodborne illness in this country.  It will incorporate elements and requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 with new and emerging technologies. This program will develop a "Blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety," which will address digital technologies, traceability, and food business models. One of the tools the press release lauds as a success in this type of model is the GenomeTrakr Network, which helps with investigations into foodborne outbreaks. One of the most important areas of foodborne illness investigation is traceability. Unless a contaminated food can be identified and then … [Read more...]

Coalition Files Lawsuit Against Iowa’s Ag-Gag Law

A coalition of food safety experts and public interest groups has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa to challenge the constitutionality of Iowa's new Ag-Gag law. This law is similar to another law in that state that was struck down on January 9, 2019. Ag gag laws have been passed in many farming states around the country in response to undercover work by animal activists. Undercover videos have recorded violent animal cruelty at some facilities. In 2012, a video recorded at Central Valley Meat in California resulted in the suspension of that facility's food registration for inhumane cattle treatment. That company supplied meat to the National School Lunch Program. The Central Valley Meats video showed downed dairy cows being shot in the … [Read more...]

Safe Recipe Style Guide Launched To Improve Cookbooks

A new tool for cookbook authors that is intended to improve  consumers' food safety behaviors at home has been launched. Safe Recipe Style Guide was issued by the Partnership for Food Safety Education. It will be used for any recipe writer and provides specific recipe text to address food safety issues in home kitchens. The Safe Recipe Style Guide addresses the four major areas of food safety violations that occur in home kitchens, including temperature, handwashing, cross-contamination, and produce handling. Studies have shown that when consumers follow recipes that incorporate these basic instructions, they increase food safety behaviors. For instance, when a recipe writer wants to address doneness tests, they could write, "Cook until internal temperature reaches XX (fill in … [Read more...]

GAO High Risk List Report Finds Food Plans Partially Met

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has released its 2019 report on federal oversight of food safety, and the results are mixed. Food safety remains on the High Risk List, which is updated every two years. The safety of the U.S. food supply is covered by a system that includes 30 federal laws administered by 15 federal agencies. Federal oversight of food safety was added to the high risk list in 2007. The list is used to set agendas of agencies that are charged with oversight. The report states, "For more than four decades, we have reported on the fragmented federal food safety oversight system, which has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources. As of November 2018, two of the three recommendations to this high-risk area had … [Read more...]

New Study Finds Canadian Cookbooks Don’t Provide Food Safety Info

A new study, published in Food Control for June 2019, finds that meat and seafood recipes in some popular Canadian cookbooks do not provide adequate food safety information. The authors included 19 cookbooks that focused on meat and seafood.  The study was conducted at the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario. The evaluated cookbooks were published from 2015 to 2017. In 2017, another study published in the British Food Journal found the same thing; no food safety information or incorrect info. Overall, the study found that "cookbooks are not a good source of reliable food safety information or safe food handling practices, and they do not encourage the reader to practice safe food handling during … [Read more...]

Winter Weather Food Safety Tips

Most people think about food poisoning during warm weather months, but food poisoning can happen any time of the year. In the winter, power outages are the issue. Foodsafety.gov is offering winter weather food safety tips. Winter storms and blizzards can cause power outages. When that happens, food in your refrigerator or freezer can become too warm, putting perishable products into the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F. In that temperature range, pathogenic bacteria can double in size every 20 minutes. If a power outage happens in your area, the first thing to remember is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food at a safe temperature for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours. But if your freezer is … [Read more...]

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