May 24, 2022

USDA Offers Tips to Keep Infants Safe While Formula Shortages Exist

The USDA offers tips to keep infants safe while powdered infant formula shortages are ongoing. The shortage is caused by pandemic supply chain issues and the closure of Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan plant for environmental Cronobacter contamination. The contamination was discovered during an FDA inspection after reports of infant illnesses. Many parents depend on formula in the first year of a baby's life. Some mothers cannot breastfeed, and some infants require supplemental nutrition or specialty formulas because of medical issues. To keep infants safe, the USDA says parents should not make homemade infant formula. There are serious safety and health concerns related to homemade formula because they can be deficient in nutrients that babies need for health and growth. … [Read more...]

USDA Addresses Powdered Infant Formula Shortage

The USDA has announced that it is addressing the powdered infant formula shortage and is asking states to take advantage of flexibility in the WIC (Women Infants and Children) program. The shortage was caused by pandemic-related supply chain issues and by the closure of Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan plant, where Cronobacter was found in environmental samples after complains of infant illnesses. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, "We’re acutely aware that the ongoing recall has left many parents and caregivers concerned about access to formula and how they will feed their babies. Our team is committed to the health and safety of all Americans and is calling on states to act immediately to offer maximum flexibility, information, and support to WIC … [Read more...]

USDA Investigates Possible Chicken Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak

The USDA is investigating a possible chicken Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak, according to their outbreak investigations response table. This is the first outbreak of a USDA-regulated food for 2022. The table did not give us any more information. We do not know if chicken is the definitive source or what type of chicken it may be, nor do we know how many people may have been sickened. If it is an outbreak, we do not know illness onset dates, where those sickened live, and if anyone has been hospitalized. As far as we know, no recall has been issued. Poultry and Salmonella have caused many outbreaks over the years. It's worth mentioning that Salmonella outbreaks are notoriously underreported. Epidemiologists use a multiplier of 30 to estimate how many people are actually sickened … [Read more...]

Fall Harvested Romaine More Likely to Cause E. coli Outbreaks

Agricultural Research Scientists have found that fall harvested romaine is more likely to contain more E. coli bacteria and cause more outbreaks, according to the USDA. Between 1998 and 2019, there were 36 outbreaks traced back to lettuce, particularly romaine lettuce, that was harvested in the fall on the California Central Coast, and in late winter in Southern California and Arizona. The seasonal outbreaks are more frequently associated with commercially grown lettuce harvested at the end of the growing season. The question is why. ARS microbiologist Maria Brand, leader of the study, said in a statement, "To begin unravelling the causes of these seasonal outbreaks, our research team looked at various factors to identify conditions that may increase E. coli survival on fresh-cut … [Read more...]

USDA Tries to Facilitate Traceability During E. coli Outbreaks

The USDA tries to facilitate traceability during E. coli outbreaks by studying how the DNA of a specific population of this pathogen evolves within its natural environment, according to scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The findings from scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska is giving outbreak investigators information on specific elements of the pathogen's DNA that can narrow where to look for the outbreak source. Scientists analyzed samples collected from the USMARC closed cattle feedlot from 1997 to 2910 and then studied the genomes of different subtypes of E. coli O157:H7 that were found in these samples. Maggie Weinroth, a computational biologist with the Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit … [Read more...]

Slow Cooker Food Safety With Tips From USDA

Learn about slow cooker food safety with tips from the USDA. Slow cookers are appliances that cook food at lower, but still safe, temperatures, for long periods of time. The food heats up quickly enough to stay safe, but cooks long enough to make tougher ingredients such as cheaper cuts of meat and root vegetables tender over time. There are several appliances that function as slow cookers: The traditional slow cooker, the instant pot, and some pressure cookers that have slow-cook functions. While these appliances are easy to use, there are some rules you need to follow to make sure your food is safe to eat. First, if you plan to use frozen meat, seafood, or poultry, do not add it to the slow cooker when frozen. Thaw it first before adding it to the slow cooker. Do not thaw … [Read more...]

Make Your Super Bowl Party a Safe One With USDA Tips

The Super Bowl is February 13, 2021. If you are hosting guests, make your Super Bowl party a safe one with these tips from the USDA. Whether you choose cold snacks or hot ones or a combination, since the event will last at least four hours, you'll need to keep an eye on the clock. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, "As families and friends safely gather to watch the big game, keep food safety in mind. No matter who you’re rooting for, foodborne illness is a dangerous opponent we face during the game. Millions of people get sick from food poisoning each year. Following guidance on keeping food at safe temperatures, proper handwashing and avoiding cross-contamination will protect you and your party guests." Football fans usually eat throughout the game, which … [Read more...]

APHIS Seized Prohibited Pork From China and Other Meats

APHIS seized prohibited pork sourced from China, along with poultry and ruminant products from New York City retailers in the last three months of 2021, according to a press release from the USDA. APHIS is the Animal and Plant Protection Service branch of that agency. More than 1900 pounds of prohibited products were seized. The foods were sourced from China and didn't have the required import permits and health certificates, and are considered a risk of introducing invasive plant and animal pests and diseases into the country. The prohibited pork from China and other meats were destroyed. These efforts are part of a collaboration between APHIS, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), U.S. Customers and Border Protection, and New York City public health … [Read more...]

Where Are All the Recalls? Q3 Recalls Drop More Than 10%

Where are all the recalls? This year could see the lowest food recall levels in ten years. In the third quarter alone, FDA food recalls dropped more than 10%, according to Food Safety Tech. In 2020, food recalls hit an all-time low, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an average of 128 recalls per year in the four years before the pandemic hit. In 2020, there were only 29 food recalls. Even more alarmingly, of the three majors pathogens (E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes) there were 26 recalls in each of the four years before 2020. In 2020, there was only one recall for a pathogen, and that was for E. coli. In 2021, FDA food recalls fell more than 11%. USDA recalls increased by just one. While this drop may be considered good news, it seems odd … [Read more...]

Keep Thanksgiving Leftovers Safe With Tips From the USDA

It's Thanksgiving. One of the best parts of this holiday is leftovers. So you should know how to keep Thanksgiving leftovers safe with these tips from the USDA. When you take foods out of the oven or refrigerator, set a timer and follow the two hour rule. That means that all perishable items such as the turkey, stuffing, side dishes, and desserts should be refrigerated within two hours after coming out of those appliances. After two hours, these foods enter the "danger zone" between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria can double every 20 minutes. Then, even if you thoroughly reheat those foods, the bacteria could have produced toxins that are not destroyed by heat and can still make you sick. When you break down the foods from the meal, put them into shallow containers so they cool … [Read more...]

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