July 15, 2020

Food Safety Advocates Want Mandatory Meatpacking Worker Safety

Food safety advocates Food Chain Alliance and the Center for Food Safety filed a petition against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement mandatory meatpacking worker safety. Many employees at meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses  have contacted coronavirus. Some plants have closed because of these illnesses, triggering worries about meat shortages. Center for Food safety states, "OSHA has a duty to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from new hazards that pose a grave danger to health and safety. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a grave threat to human health, but OSHA has only suggested that meat companies comply with voluntary safety standards." Ryan Talbott, staff attorney at Center for Food safety said in statement, "If … [Read more...]

Feds Investigating Six Meatpacking Plants After COVID-19 Outbreaks

Federal regulators are investigating six meatpacking plants after large COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to those facilities. The plants include JBS Packerland in Green Bay, Wisconsin, American Foods Group in Green Bay, Smithfield Foods in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and Salms Partners in Denmark, Wisconsin, Pizza crust manufacturer TNT Crust in Green Bay and Birds Eye Foods in Darien, Wisconsin are also being investigated, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. Meatpacking and meat processing plants have become hotspots for coronavirus illnesses in the past few weeks. Smithfield Foods in South Dakota had to close last week after 300 employees were sickened by the virus. One of the issues with these facilities is that employees have to work in close contact with each other. Employees have … [Read more...]

COVID-19 Outbreaks at Meatpacking Plants Increase Food Supply Concern

While the USDA and FDA reassure the public that the shortages they are seeing in grocery stores are primarily the result of panic buying and shortage and not due to problems in the supply chain, other consumer advocate groups are increasingly concerned. COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants across the country are decreasing supply. That doesn't mean that you have to start hoarding pork, beef, and chicken. It's an acknowledgment that those workplaces may be at higher risk for coronavirus hotspots. They are considered an essential service and need to remain open during the pandemic. So COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants are a concern. At least 13 processing plants around the country have closed in the past few weeks because so many employees have contracted this illness. … [Read more...]

Smithfield Foods Closes Sioux Falls, SD Plant For COVID-19

Smithfield Foods is announcing that it is closing its plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota indefinitely because it is a hot spot for COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus. Almost 300 of the plant's employees have tested positive for coronavirus. This one plant provides about 5% of the nation's pork supply. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem sent a joint letter to the company along with Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, asking that they "do more" about the pandemic and recommending that they shut down for 14 days. Sioux Falls has more coronavirus cases per capita than larger cities such as Chicago. While public health officials continue to reassure the public that the food supply in this country has not been reduced or harmed by the pandemic, Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and … [Read more...]

Meat Processing Facilities Close As Workers Get Sick With COVID-19

This news isn't going to help with the hoarding problem in this country because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several meat processing facilities close around the country as their workers start getting sick with coronavirus, according to NPR. Food workers are categorized as essential workers during the pandemic. Tyson Foods has suspended operations at its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa. National Beef Packing, also located in Iowa, stopped production as well. And JBS USA temporarily closed a beef processing plant in Pennsylvania. JBS USA also confirmed the death of one employee at a facility in Colorado. Three employees at the Tyson Foods poultry plant in Camilla, Georgia have died of COVID-19, according to the New York Times. Because of these illnesses and deaths, it's … [Read more...]

Do You Know How Long Foods Can Be Stored in the Fridge or Freezer?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are buying more food than they can eat in a week, or even in a month. While hoarding food is not helping the situation, these actions can help people feel safer. While nonperishable foods such as canned and shelf-stable products can be stored without worrying about food safety, do you know how long foods can be stored in the fridge or freezer? Foodsafety.gov has the answer with a chart. First, a note about expiration dates. Most of these dates, especially for canned foods or shelf stable foods, refer to the quality of the food, not to possible bacterial contamination. So if you have a can of peas that are past the "best if used by" date stamped on the can, you can still eat them; the peas just won't have a good color and the flavor … [Read more...]

History of Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreaks Linked to Meat and Cheese

The deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to deli sliced meats and cheeses has sickened 8 people in 8 states. One person who lived in Michigan has died. All eight patients were hospitalized. These outbreaks are tragic. What is the history of Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks linked to meats and cheeses? In the current outbreak, patients purchased deli sliced meats and cheeses in unnamed stores. The CDC outbreak notice did state that investigators found the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes in samples from meat sliced at "a deli" and from deli counters in multiple retail locations in New York and Rhode Island. Patients sickened in this outbreak live in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. This outbreak demonstrates why public health officials tell those … [Read more...]

Use High Heat to Cook Meat? Rethink That Technique

A new study published in the journal Cancer has found that cooking beef at high temperatures may lead to an increased risk of developing kidney cancer. Carcinogenic compounds are created in the meat when grilled, barbecued, and pan-fried. The study was conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Renal cell carcinoma affects 60,000 new patients every year. About 14,000 people die of this illness every year in the Untied States. The incidence of this type of cancer has been increasing for decades. Dr. Stephanie Melkonian, Epidemiology postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study said, "this study encourages us to look not only at what foods we're eating, but also how we're preparing those foods." When you cook meat with high temperature, causing charring on the … [Read more...]

Study Links Meat to Klebsiella Pathogen

A study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases links the Klebsiella pneumoniae pathogen to retail meat products for the first time. This bacteria can cause pneumonia when inhaled, and can cause urinary tract infections and infections in the lower biliary trace and in wounds. In the 2012 study, turkey, chicken, and pork meats were sampled from nine major grocery stores in Flagstaff, Arizona where clinical samples from sick people were screened for this bacteria. Ten percent of the 1,728 positive human samples and 47% of the 508 retail meat samples yielded the bacteria. Many of the strains were resistant to antibiotics. Whole genome sequencing found that the Klebsiella isolated from the meat products and the Klebsiella isolated from patients were nearly identical. In other words, … [Read more...]

Consumer Reports Offers Holiday Food Safety Advice

Consumer Reports is offering food safety advice when you're cooking some type of meat for the holidays. Ham, beef and pork roasts, turkey, and duck are usually only prepared once or twice a year, so most cooks are unfamiliar with the food safety risks posed by these foods. When buying meats from a stand-alone refrigerator case, don't take the package on top. And if the packages extend above the top of the case, there's a very good chance that meat has entered the temperature danger zone above 40 degrees F. Francis Largeman-Roth, R.D., said, "those cases only keep things truly cold as far as the walls of the case go up." Store these large cuts of meat properly. A fresh turkey should be stored in the refrigerator for only one or two days.  Pork and beef roasts can be in the fridge for … [Read more...]

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