July 16, 2018

FDA Finalizes FSMA Rules on Produce Safety

The FDA finally finalized the rules on produce safety last week. Michael Taylor, the head of that agency said in a statement, "Its been a long and arduous task, to say the least. Finalizing the rules is just one part of building a modernized food safety system." The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in 2011. The major rules in that Act have been slowly finalized by the FDA and the Office of Management and Budget. This latest new rule targets produce grows. They must ensure the safety of water in irrigation, since some outbreaks have been caused by produce contaminated by irrigation water that contains Salmonella or E. coli bacteria. They must make sure workers practice good hygiene in the field and while packing. A Cyclospora outbreak linked to imported cilantro lead to a ban … [Read more...]

Study Finds Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods

Food safety advice for home cooks has always included certain rules. Always wash your hands before preparing foods and after handling raw meats, poultry, and eggs; keep perishable foods refrigerated, and wash all utensils well after using them. But a new study conducted at the University of Georgia has found that utensils should also be washed after each use and before they are used on another food. Scientists found that the bacteria will "latch on" to utensils such as knives and graters and then contaminate the next food prepared with that item. But most consumers are not aware that this problem exists, according to the study's lead author Marilyn Erickson, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' department of food science and technology. … [Read more...]

Harvesting 24 Hours After a Rain Enhances Food Safety

Research conducted at Cornell University has found that if produce farmers wait 24 hours to harvest their crops after a rain, the food they produce will be safer for people to eat. The USDA has proposed rules allowing farmers to apply "wait periods" after irrigation water, to let "potentially dangerous microbes die off". Any water applied to a field creates conditions more hospitable to the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Researchers tested fields in several locations in New York state. They found that after rains, the chances of finding Listeria dropped dramatically 24 hours after a rain, to levels similar to the baseline. Farmers would use weather data, GIS technology and data driven information to take a "systems approach" to managing food safety and their crops. Listeria … [Read more...]

Center for Food Safety: The Truth About Produce Wash

Center for Food Safety has written about produce wash, those treatments for washing fruits and vegetables that are promoted as a way to avoid food poisoning. Many foodborne illness outbreaks are linked to fresh product, and consumers want to keep their families safe. So do produce washes work? CFS states "it turns out the produce washes aren't any better than water. Multiple studies have found that produce washes such as Fit and Earth Friendly are no more effective in cleaning produce than regular tap water. In a study of three commercial washes, University of Maine researchers found that distilled water was equally if not more effective in removing microbes such as bacteria and mold." Scientists at the Univeristy of Maine tested Fit, Ozone Water Purifier XT-301, and J0-4 … [Read more...]

Handling Produce Safely: Ashley Eisenbeiser

Earlier this month, the Partnership for Food Safety Education held a webinar on handling produce safely. Since Salmonella-contaminated produce is in the top five pathogen-food combinations that cause food poisoning outbreaks, knowledge is critical. Ashley Eisenbeiser of the Food Marketing Institute spoke about the numbers. Produce is responsible for 46% of reported foodborne illness outbreaks from 1998 to 2008, and caused 23% of deaths in those outbreaks. Overall, leafy vegetables cause 8% of those illnesses. Of outbreaks attributed to produce, 30% are caused by cross-contamination, and 40% to poor personal hygiene; the rest are contaminated at the source. Sixty-eight percent of outbreaks attributed to produce are from food purchased from a restaurant or deli, 9% from private homes, 7% … [Read more...]

Handling Produce Safety: Dr. Linda Verrill

The Partnership for Food Safety Education held a webinar earlier this month all about handling produce and food safety. Dr. Linda Verrill of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Ashely Eisenbeiser of Food Marketing Institute, and Ellie Krieger, author and nutritionist, were the speakers. Today we will tell you about Dr. Verrill's information and advice. Dr. Verrill spoke about studies and surveys conducted by CFSAN about produce handling and safety. She said that 14 pathogens represent over 95% of annual illnesses and hospitalizations in the U.S. And five of those pathogens are responsible for more than 90% of the health burden: Salmonella, Toxoplasma gondii, norovirus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. In fact, Salmonella and produce is in the top 5 … [Read more...]

Salmonella and Listeria Produce Field Contamination Risk Factors

Red and green bell peppers have been recalled in California for possible Salmonella contamination. That makes this study even more relevant. Applied and Environmental Microbiology has published research about identified risk factors associated with contamination of produce fields with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The study found that management practices are crucial to development of effective Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Twenty one produce farms in New York state were visited over a five week period for this study. Soil, draw swab, and water samples were collected. In addition, field-management practices were recorded. They found Salmonella in 6.1% of fields, and Listeria in 18.5%. Most of the pathogen-positive water samples were from non-irrigation surface … [Read more...]

Food Safety Myth: Pre Packaged Produce Doesn’t Need Washing

and the Partnership for Food Safety Education have been educating the public about food safety myths and facts for years. Food Poisoning Bulletin recently attended one of their webinars where they addressed those myths. Their latest is: pre packaged produce doesn't need washing. The truth is that you must read the label first to make sure it says "ready to eat", "washed" or "triple washed". If the label does not say that, wash your hands, then rinse the product under running tap water. Scrub firm fruits and veggies, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce germs. Cooler water is better than hot for helping the product keep quality. While you can reduce some pathogens on leafy greens by using a vinegar-based … [Read more...]

FDA Tips On Washing Fruits and Veggies

September is Food Safety Month and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled some tips on washing fruits and vegetables.  Safe handling a preparation of fresh produce can reduce the risk of food poisoning which affects 48 million people every year. At the store, choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged.  Pre-cut items, such as bagged salad or sliced fruit should only be purchased if they are refrigerated or on ice. At home, use a workspace where everything, including countertops, cutting board and utensils, are clean. Wash your hands for 20 seconds, long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice, with warm running water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce. Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Cut away damaged or bruised areas … [Read more...]

FDA Researches Salmonella Contamination in Tomatoes

After 15 multistate outbreaks of Salmonella food poisoning linked to raw tomatoes from 1973 to 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is researching the fruit's vulnerability to the bacteria. Twelve of those outbreaks have occurred since 2000, resulting in almost 2,000 illnesses and three deaths. Dr. Eric Brown, director of FDA's Division of Microbiology said, "the conditions in which tomatoes thrive are also the conditions in which Salmonella thrive. But the tomato always presented an extra challenge because it is so short-lived. By the time it looked like contaminated tomatoes could be causing illnesses, the harvest would be gone." Government scientists are trying to figure out how to reduce contamination early in tomato production. What  can be done to prevent contamination … [Read more...]

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