November 29, 2021

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...]

Gillibrand Introduces Meat and Poultry Safety Bill

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced the Safe Meat and Poultry Act which aims to strengthen the country’s meat and poultry inspection system and reduce the number of foodborne illness outbreaks. Gillibrand, who is chairwoman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, said the financial and public health toll these outbreaks have has been exacerbated by the fact that food safety legislation affecting the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not been upgraded in more than a century. One in six Americans are sickened by food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The public health and economic cost of these illnesses is over $14 billion each year, according to the … [Read more...]

Should You Wash Your Food?

The USDA has put out a food info sheet about safe food handling and washing food. Does this practice promote food safety? Since we're told to wash our hands before preparing food, and utensils and pots and pans, it seems logical that washing food makes it safer to eat. Unfortunately, that's not true. Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking it isn't recommended. The bacteria on these foods can aerosolize under the water, spreading three feet in all directions from your sink. That means it can get on your face and lips. Lick your lips once, and you may ingest pathogenic bacteria. In addition, some bacteria are tightly attached to the meat, so you can't remove them by washing. Cooking to a safe internal temperature is the only way to kill these bacteria. Brining … [Read more...]

Central Valley Meat Is Back On Lunch Trays

Central Valley Meat, which was ordered to suspend operations for one week in August after a video showing animal cruelty at its slaughterhouse went viral, has been re-approved for participation in the school lunch program. While experts agree that there was animal cruelty at the slaughterhouse, inspectors from the U.S. Agriculture Department's (USDA's)  Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) concluded that no food safety violations occurred. Central Valley was quietly readmitted to the school lunch program at the end of August. In the memo, FSIS also states that it  "concluded its evaluation of the extensive corrective action plan submitted by Central Valley Meat Company to correct recent humane handling violations and has permitted Central Valley Meat to resume processing. As a … [Read more...]

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