July 13, 2020

Food Thermometer Study Proves Education Improves Kitchen Food Safety

A food thermometer study conducted by the USDA's FSIS and published in the Journal of Food Protection in July 2020 proves that education improves kitchen food safety techniques. The purpose of the study was to test effectiveness of intervention for consumer thermometer use. Using a food thermometer is the only way to make sure that ground meats are safe to eat before serving. Ground beef, pork, and lamb should be cooked to 160°F and ground chicken and turkey should be cooked to 165°F. USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Mindy Brashears, said in a statement, "As a food scientist, it’s important that we publish these results in peer-reviewed journals and that other scientists have access to the methodology and results. This is in direct alignment with my goal to lead food … [Read more...]

Fourth of July Food Safety Tips From the USDA to Avoid Illness

These Fourth of July food safety tips from the USDA will help you avoid foodborne illness this holiday weekend.  Because more people are staying at home and cooking at home, these tips are important. Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety said in a statement, "Foodborne illness can increase during summer because of the warmer temperatures and extended time spent outside. You may not be grilling at the park this year, but instead you may be grilling at home. As we celebrate this Fourth of July holiday, I encourage consumers to use food safety steps to reduce their risk of illness." First, avoid cross-contamination between raw meats and poultry and foods that are eaten uncooked. Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they touch raw meats and … [Read more...]

First Quarter Recalls Plummet, But Experts Expect Rebound

The first quarter recalls from the FDA and USDA plummeted to unprecedented low levels during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. For instance, while the FDA's recall level did dip in the first quarter, down 9.6% from 2019, the USDA only posted three recalls in January, February, and March 2020. That's a decrease of 78.6% from the previous year. And in the second quarter, only five recalls were posted on the USDA web site, with just 18 days left in the quarter. Stericycle Expert Solutions, which analyzes recalls every quarter, predict that "the coronavirus pandemic will lead to an eventual spike of recalls across the food, drug, consumer product, medical device, and auto industries once restrictions on businesses are lifted and regulators resume their traditional oversight … [Read more...]

USDA Will Expand non-O157 STEC Testing to Ground Beef

According to an announcement in the Federal Register, the USDA will expand non-O157 STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli) testing to ground beef, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components. The non-O157 strains include what's called the "Big Six" E. coli strains: E. coli O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145. USDA first announced the decision to test raw, non-intact beef product and raw, intact beef product for those six strains on September 20, 2011. The decision was made because these strains have high pathogenicity, low infectious dose, transmissibility from person to person, and thermal resistance of the pathogens that is high enough to survive ordinary cooking. The estimated benefits of this new testing include reduced outbreak-related recalls, reduced illnesses and … [Read more...]

Memorial Day Food Safety Tips From The USDA To Stay Safe and Healthy

The USDA is offering Memorial Day food safety tips to help keep you. safe and healthy. This holiday weekend is not like other years because of the coronavirus pandemic, but don't forget about food safety while you observe the holiday. Remember that if the weather is hot and humid, perishable foods can only be out of refrigeration for one hour before bacteria start to grow rapidly. Those foods include meat and poultry, dips and cold salads, and cut fruits and vegetables. About 85% of respondents to a recent USDA survey said they don't nest cold foods in ice when served. Keeping cold foods cold is important for food safety. In that same survey, 66% of respondents said they did. not keep cooked foods, such as burgers and hot dogs, warm after cooking. Those foods need to be kept … [Read more...]

Stop Foodborne Illness, CSPI Call For Poultry Safety Modernization

The food safety agencies Stop Foodborne Illness and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) are calling for poultry safety modernization to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter infections in poultry. Those agencies believe that the USDA's regulatory framework lags behind advances in science and technology and doesn't reflect the best. practices to prevent illness from poultry. Stop Foodborne Illness CEO Mitzi Baum said in a statement, "To their credit, FSIS, academic experts, and many poultry industry leaders recognize the poultry safety problem and are working on solutions. Consumers rightfully expect, however, that FSIS build today’s best practices into its regulatory system so they can become common practices. Outbreaks linked to poultry products have occurred … [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...]

Consent Decree Against PA Miller’s Organic Farm For Avoiding Inspections

A consent decree has been issued against Miller's Organic Farm of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania for violating USDA laws by avoiding inspections and misbranding meat and poultry. In November 2019, the U.S. government permanently enjoined the company and its owner, Amos Miller, for obstructing federal health and safety oversight and from selling uninspected meat to the company's nationwide "private membership association." USDA inspectors and investigators went to the farm in December 2019 to assess compliance with the injunction. They found 2,000 pounds of fresh meat carcasses that Miller's had slaughtered without federal inspection, in violation of the injunction. FSIS tagged the meat so it couldn't be used or sold, but Miller's voluntarily destroyed them. FSIS fond more violations … [Read more...]

What Is Happening to FDA and USDA Food Recalls?

If you have been a longtime reader of Food Poisoning Bulletin, you may have noticed that food recalls have decreased substantially in the past few months. The USDA has issued three recalls since January 24, 2020: One was issued on February 8, 2020, and two were issued on April 10, 2020. The FDA has had more recalls, with seven in the month of April 2020 (including three recalls for enoki mushrooms as part of a Listeria Monocytogenes outbreak), but that is far below normal. What is happening to FDA and USDA food recalls? Food Poisoning Bulletin contacted the USDA about this. issue. This was their response: "To answer your question about recalls for products under FSIS’ regulatory jurisdiction, a recall is a firm’s voluntary removal of distributed meat, poultry, or egg products from … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch: New Swine Inspection System Could Spur Pandemic

Food & Water Watch, commenting on the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) proposed by the USDA, says that this new swine inspection system is so dangerous it could spur another zoonotic pandemic. Zoonotic diseases are those that make the jump from animals to humans. Food safety agencies, including Center for Food Safety, have issued warnings about this new system for months. The system would let corporation. employees inspect the carcasses instead of federal inspectors. It also surrenders federal control over removing contamination from carcasses by untrained employees. It also lifts limits on slaughter line speeds. That means plant employees can determine which animals are fit for slaughter, which carcasses can be placed into commerce, and can set their own line speeds. Food … [Read more...]

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