November 23, 2017

USDA Integrates Recall Info Into FoodKeeper App

The USDA has announced new updates to its popular FoodKeeper app that will provide users with information on recalls. Users can now choose to receive automated notifications when recalls are announced by the USDA and FDA. If you subscribe to this app, you can choose to receive information immediately, as soon as they are announced, or receive daily or weekly updates. The update also includes additional instructional videos and handing and storage of food. Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg said in a statement, "This is a great way for the public to stay informed when food is recalled. The FoodKeeper app is a very handy and easy to use tool; and it reflects USDA's commitment to provide the public with information and knowledge to help them make … [Read more...]

Cow with Atypical BSE Diagnosed in Alabama

The USDA announced on Tuesday, July 18, 201 that an eleven year old cow in Alabama has been diagnosed with an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. The press release states that "This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States." The animal was showing clinical signs of the disease and was round through routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. Atypical BSE is different from classic BSE and it usually occurs in cattle older than 8 years. It arises spontaneously and rarely in all cattle populations. The press release from the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries states that following delivery to the livestock market, the cow later … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch: Chinese Chicken Shipments Endangering Public Health

Food & Water Watch has released a statement from their Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, about chicken that is being processed in China and shipped to the United States. Food & Water Watch has requested information from the USDA about this issue. While Chinese plants can process raw poultry and ship to the U.S., the raw poultry itself can only come from "approved" sources, such as the Untied States, Canada, and Chile. Unfortunately, the USDA's 2016 audit checklist from one of the plants that slaughtered the chickens in Chile before they were shipped to China for processing "reveals serious problems at this first stop in the product's long journey." Hauter continues, "The USDA's audit of the Agroindustrial el Paico S.A. facility in Chile noted non-compliances in … [Read more...]

Scientist Develop Plastic Pouches to Make Produce Safer

The USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is assisting a company developing a small plastic pouch that is designed to make produce safer. Many food poisoning outbreaks in the past few years have been linked to contaminated fruits and vegetables. Plant pathologist Jinhe Bai and his colleagues helped develop the pouch. The company, Worrell Water Technologist of Delray Beach, Florida, wants to market the pouches to wholesalers and produce packers all around the world. The pouches are packed into shipping containers. The pouch slowly releases chlorine dioxide gas, which kills E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria on the produce. They vent chlorine dioxide gas at a controlled rate using a semi-permeable membrane. Controlled rates of the gas release is crucial, since if it is … [Read more...]

Food & Watch Watch Wants USDA to Halt Chinese Chicken

In late June, the first shipment of processed chicken from China arrived in the U.S. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, issued a statement about this event. In 2014, China completed the paperwork to certify four of its poultry processing plants so they can export these items to the U.S. The raw poultry must come from "approved sources," but food safety advocates are not convinced. The USDA has not disclosed where the raw poultry comes from. And the chicken will not be labeled, so consumers won't know if they are buying products from China. Food safety problems in China have been rampant. A scandal where companies added melamine to milk to hide dilution sickened more than 300,000 babies. Jerky pet treats imported from China have sickened and killed … [Read more...]

USDA Says Grill Like a PRO

The USDA is offering tips on how to "Grill Like a PRO" this summer. That means using a thermometer to check the internal temperature of meats and poultry before you serve them. Research by the USDA and FDA found that only 24% of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers, and only 42% do so when cooking chicken. There have been many food poisoning outbreaks over the past few years linked to contaminated ground beef and chicken. Using a food thermometer is the only way to keep you and your family safe from food poisoning. P - Place the Thermometer! Put the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat. The probe should go in about 1-1/2 to 2". If you are cooking a thinner piece, such as hamburgers or chicken breasts, insert the thermometer from the side. Make … [Read more...]

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...]

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