May 16, 2021

How to Clean Fresh Fruits and Vegetables To Protect Yourself

As we head into the summer months in the Northern hemisphere, people start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. And unfortunately, every year there are outbreaks linked to those products, from cyclospora to E. coli. As a matter of fact, fresh produce is one of the main ways people get sick from food poisoning, and one of the major causes of multistate food poisoning outbreaks. From Salmonella on peaches to E. coli on romaine lettuce to cyclospora on basil, these foods sicken thousands of people every year. While it's not possible to make these foods completely safe without cooking them to 165°F, you can reduce your risk by cleaning them properly before preparation. First, do not use soap or bleach or other disinfectants to clean fruits and vegetables. Because these items are … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Report on Deli Food Poisoning Risk Factors

The FDA has released a new report on deli food poisoning risk factors. This study is part of a 10-year initiative that looks at risk factors in retail settings, which include employee practices, personal hygiene, and food safety practices such as improper handwashing. Some deli foods, such as soft cheeses and sliced meats,  are considered high risk for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, due to the difficulty of cleaning some equipment and the intrinsic makeup of these foods. The study highlights the importance of having a well-developed Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) and employing Certified Food Protection Managers, since delis with these procedures and employees are more likely to properly control foodborne illness risk factors. A well-developed FSMS was the … [Read more...]

Soaking Nuts Grains and Seeds in Cold Water Reduces Salmonella Risk

Soaking nuts grains and seeds in cold water reduces the risk of Salmonella growth, according to a new study from Oregon State University. Raw sprouts have long been considered a risky food because they are often contaminated with pathogens that can cause serious illness, and there is no "kill" step before they are eaten. These foods aren't exactly "sprouts," which are a known food safety risk, since the root doesn't emerge, but include grains, nuts, and seeds that are soaked so their hulls soften and the product swells. These products are made by soaking in room temperature water overnight. When the hulls swell, "anti nutrients" are reduced, which are compounds that reduce the human's body to absorb vitamins and minerals. These foods are then dried using low temperature and humidity … [Read more...]

Checklist for Cleaning Your Pantry and Refrigerator From USDA

It's time for spring cleaning in the northern hemisphere, and one place food safety conscious consumers should focus is the kitchen. Your pantry and refrigerator can harbor pathogens and should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. The USDA is offering a checklist for cleaning your pantry and refrigerator. Your refrigerator should always be set between 34°F and 40°F. Any higher and pathogens should grow, and any lower and food could freeze and lose quality. Many newer refrigerators do have built-in thermostats so you can check the temp, but if your doesn't, an inexpensive thermometer is available most everywhere. To keep your fridge clean, follow these steps. Always clean spills immediately with warm, soapy water. Don't use solvent cleaning agents or abrasives, since the fumes from … [Read more...]

Consumer Knowledge About Flour Risks Lags Behind Reality

Consumer knowledge about flour risks lags behind reality, according to a research article published in the International Association for Food Protection. The research finds that consumers do not consider flour a high risk for bacterial contamination, but flour is a raw agricultural product and a source of outbreaks. Six food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to wheat flour and flour products in the U.S. and Canada since 2009. Those outbreaks have sickened at least 200 people with Salmonella and E. coli bacteria. In 2019, an E. coli O26 outbreak linked to ADM Milling flour sickened at least 21 people in 9 states. The flour brands that were recalled in association with that outbreak included Pillsbury bread flour, ALDI Baker's Corner, and King Arthur flour. And in 2016, an E. … [Read more...]

Stay Safe While Cutting Food Waste At Home and Away

While food safety is of ultimate importance, everyone should also keep minimizing food waste in mind. And there are ways to do just that with tips from the FDA. Read on to learn how cutting food waste at home is a good idea monetarily and for the planet. While 48,000,000 Americans suffer from food poisoning every year, Americans also discard almost 40,000,000 tons of food annually. That averages out fo 219 pounds of waste per person, or about 35% of our food supply. And that food decomposes and creates methane, a big component in climate change. While much food is rightfully discarded because it could cause illness, a lot, about half of the total discarded, is thrown away because consumers don't understand food product dating. And food waste occurs at every step in the food … [Read more...]

If You Travel, the CDC Has Info About Food and Water Safety Abroad

If you travel, or if you are going to start traveling once the pandemic eases, the CDC has information about food and water safety abroad that is important. There are some countries where the food and water are infamous for causing illness, whether true or not. But no matter where you travel there are some things you should know to avoid food poisoning. Hot food is usually safe. The only thing that reliably destroys most bacteria and pathogens is heat. The exception is toxins produced by some bacteria as they grow, and spores of some bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum. Just beware of foods that are sitting at warm or room temperature, such as at a buffet because it could be re-contaminated. Dry or packaged food is also usually safe. Most bacteria and other pathogens require … [Read more...]

Don’t Put Frozen Food Outside During Power Outages Even if it’s Cold

There are major power outages in large swaths of the United States as a result of freezing temperatures and severe weather, and some bad food safety advice is circulating. When it's cold outside and you are worried about frozen food thawing and spoiling, you may be tempted to put the food outside to keep it frozen. That's a bad idea. Don't put frozen food outside. Even if there's snow on the ground and icicles hanging from your roof, outside temperatures can vary wildly. Frozen food is only safe if it stays below 0°F. Snow and ice will be present on the ground until the air temperature gets above 32°F, and even warmer temperatures than that. This fluctuation can cause thawing and freezing in your frozen food, causing loss of quality and perhaps even the growth of pathogenic … [Read more...]

At Your 2021 Super Bowl Party, Avoid Food Poisoning With These Tips

At your Super Bowl party this year, avoid food poisoning with these tips from the USDA. Whenever you are entertaining, you need to think about food safety and how to avoid making people sick. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules and pay attention to the food. USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Paul Kiecker said, "As Americans prepare their Super Bowl food, protecting loved ones from foodborne illnesses is essential. Millions of people get sick from food poisoning each year. Following guidance on proper handwashing and avoiding cross-contamination can keep your family safe." First, always wash your hands before you start preparing food. In a recent USDA study, participants failed to wash their hands correctly 99% of the time. You need to wet your hands … [Read more...]

USDA Withdraws Controversial Poultry Line Speed Rule

On Friday, January 22, 2021, the USDA withdrew a controversial poultry line speed rules from the previous administration that would have rolled back line-speed standards at poultry plants. The first such proposal was made by the Obama administration in 2012. At the time, and over the last nine years, food safety experts and consumer advocates have opposed increasing these speeds, which whip poultry carcasses past inspectors at three birds per second. Executive Director of Food and Water Watch's Wenoah Hauter, said in a statement, "Such speeds would have made it nearly impossible for inspectors to properly due their jobs and ensure food safety and public health." She continued, "We’re pleased that the Biden administration has resisted the bidding of the immensely powerful … [Read more...]

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