August 22, 2019

Keep Your Backyard Barbecue Safe From Staphylococcus With Tips

The USDA is offering tips to help keep your backyard barbecue safe from Staphylococcus aureus bacteria this summer.  Cooking outdoors presents special challenges, including grilling food to a safe internal temperature, and higher ambient temperatures. The press release focuses on Staphylococcus aureus, which sickens about 240,000 Americans every year. About 1,000 of those patients need to be hospitalized, and about six people die every year. A USDA scientist developed a test that detects the pathogen in foods, which is faster, more sensitive, and less expensive than other standardized tests. Reuven Rasooly, a chemist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) said in a statement, "The current test detects active toxin only 50 percent of the time compared to the test, … [Read more...]

Keep Your Fourth of July Celebration Safe With Tips From USDA

Keep your Fourth of July celebration safe with tips on food safety from the USDA. Cooking outside and hosting parties pose unique food safety challenges. Millions of Americans contract some form of food poisoning even year, leading to 3,000 deaths. Before you start preparing food, wash your hands. This is the simplest way to stop the spread of pathogens around your kitchen. Use soap and water and lather for at least 20 seconds. Dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Always wash your hands immediately after you handle meat and poultry. Make sure that you cook all meats, poultry, fish, and egg dishes to safe final internal temperature, and check that temp with a reliable food thermometer. Cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal should e cooked to 145°F with a three minute rest time. … [Read more...]

Texas A&M Studying Super-Repellent Surfaces For Food Safety

Texas A&M Agrilife Research and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station were awarded a grant from the USDA to study and develop super-repellent and anti-fouling surfaces for foods. These types of surfaces could be used to help ensure the safety of fresh food products. Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, AgriLife Research food science and co-principal investigator for the project said in a statement, "There is a need to reduce those outbreaks associated with microbial contamination that may take place in different operations along the fresh produce chain. The surfaces we are designing avoid cross-contamination and reduce the risk of biofilm formation.” Some bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes, can develop biofilms that help protect them from … [Read more...]

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...]

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