June 27, 2017

USDA Stops Imports of Brazilian Beef

The USDA is halting imports of Brazilian beef, according to a press release from that government agency. There are "recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market," according to the release. Brazil is one of the world's largest beef importers, and is the fifth largest beef supplier to the United States. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel have been inspecting all, or 100%, of meat products imported from Brazil into the United States since this spring. FSIS has refused about 11% of those imports; that number is much higher than the typical rejection rate of 1% of all food shipments from the rest of the world. FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots, about 1.9 million pounds, of Brazilian beef products for public health … [Read more...]

USDA Institutes 100% Testing of Brazilian Beef Imports

The USDA announced this week that they have instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil after a scandal erupted in that country. It is alleged that beef company officials paid bribes to Brazilian government inspectors to ignore adulterated meat that was put into commerce. Company officials are accused of influencing the government to assign these inspectors to their plants. Health certificates were also allegedly falsified. Brazil is one of the countries that has inspection equivalency from the USDA, which means the U.S. considers their beef inspection programs equivalent to ours. The press release states that "none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products … [Read more...]

USDA Offers Advice for Those Affected by Winter Storm

Winter storm Stella is hitting the northeastern United States. The USDA has food safety tips to keep in mind when you are preparing for a severe weather emergency. Many people think that storing food outside when it's cold is safe, but it isn't. Outdoor temperatures can vary, and food can be exposed to unsanitary conditions and animals. Instead, make ice by filling buckets and cans with water. Leave them outside to freeze, then use this ice to keep food cold in coolers or your refrigerator or freezer. If the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible A refrigerator will keep food cold at safe temperatures (below 40°F) for four hours. And a full freezer will keep temperature below 0°F for 48 hours; 24 hours if it is half-full. Put meat and … [Read more...]

USDA Issues Revised Guidance on Food Date Labeling

Most consumers are pretty confused when it comes to the meaning of date labels on foods. For instance, what does "use by" mean? Does that mean the food is unsafe after that date? What does "sell by" mean? So the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued updated information on food product labeling. They are encouraging food manufacturers and retailers to use a "Best If Used By" date to help reduce food waste. Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety said, "In an effort to reduce food loss and waste, these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy. This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash." Product dating is not … [Read more...]

CSPI Wants Cancer Warning Label on Processed Meat

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling on the USDA to put a warning label on processed meat and poultry products telling consumers that eating those foods is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. bacon, ham, hot dogs, and other processed products would have that label. The regulatory petition CSPI filed yesterday cites the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which found in 2015 that processed meat is "carcinogenic to humans." The study found that eating 50 grams per day of processed meat raises the risk of developing that particular kind of cancer by about 18%. A typical serving size of those meats is about 55 grams. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in this country. It will cause … [Read more...]

Debunking Thanksgiving Myths

The USDA is trying to debunk Thanksgiving myths to help consumers keep their families safe over the holiday season. Many people believe these methods for preparing and storing food and they can make someone sick, perhaps seriously ill. The first myth is that it's okay to leave food outside when the weather is freezing. This may seem safe, especially if the temperature is below freezing and snow is on the ground, but it is not, for two reasons. The first reason is animal contamination. Animals can get into food stored outside, and can easily contaminate it. Wild animals often carry pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli. And family pets can also harbor bacteria, even if they do not seem sick. The second reason it is unsafe to store food outside is temperature variation. A plastic … [Read more...]

FDA, USDA Offer Tips to Use Your Microwave Safely

The FDA and USDA are offering tips about using your microwave oven safely. That agency regulates microwave ovens. Consumers have experienced burns and other injuries from microwave radiation, especially if the ovens are not used or maintained properly. There is another issue with microwave safety: food safety. Microwave ovens can "cook" food unevenly, leading to areas, especially in solid meats such as chicken, where the temperature is not raised high enough to kill pathogenic bacteria. In fact, some outbreaks in the past may have occurred because microwaves were used to cook the food in question, such as the Farm Rich E. coli outbreak. Mandatory label changes in 2008 omitted the microwave cooking instructions on many raw foods The magnetron inside your microwave converts … [Read more...]

USDA Says Deli Listeria Pilot Project Working Well

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released their second quarter report of a year-long pilot program that assesses whether retailers are using the government's recommendations to address Listeria monocytogenes contamination in their deli departments. The program started in January 2016. The report states that more retail delis are following recommendations. Listeria monocytogenes contamination is a serious issue with deli products, especially sliced meats and cheeses. There have been several outbreaks in the past few years linked to these products, particularly soft cheeses. There is zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in ready to eat foods. The government surveyed 503 retail delis in the second quarter, up from 334 surveyed in the first … [Read more...]

USDA’s Catfish Inspection Program Stops Unsafe Shipment

A press release from Food & Water Watch states that last week, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) stopped more than 40,000 pounds of unsafe catfish products from being imported into the United States from Vietnam. The shipment tested positive for malachite green, a drug that is banned for use in food animals in this country because it is potentially carcinogenic. That compound is used in farm fisheries as an anti fungal agent and an antimicrobial. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "since FSIS took over inspection of both domestic and imported siluriformes and catfish in April 2016, the agency has taken actions to protect consumers." In May 2016, a shipper from China refused to let FSIS inspect his shipment of catfish … [Read more...]

Two E. coli Outbreaks in NH and CO and Two Recalls: Coincidence?

Something unusual happened this week. The USDA posted two recalls for beef products on the same day, recalled for E. coli O157:H7. And in those recall notices there was information that the products had been linked, or possibly linked, to two E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks; one in New Hampshire and one in Colorado. The first recall was for more than 8,000 pounds of PT Farm raw beef products that were produced in June 2016. The illness cluster associated with this recall has sickened at least 14 people in New Hampshire. Traceback for 8 case-patients who were interviewed as a result of their illnesses "led back to a single day of production at PT Farm," according to the USDA release. There is a link between beef products from PT Farm and this illness cluster. The second recall was for … [Read more...]

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