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Tag: Food Safety

Produce Safety Challenges

Since 2011, more than 20 foodborne illness outbreaks have occurred from North American produce. The foods involved were cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, frozen vegetables and others. In 2018 alone, romaine lettuce has been linked to two large recalls. This is costly not only in illnesses and unfortunate deaths, but complete disruption in the supply chain.

Produce safety is an ongoing challenge. Safe potable water is critical for growing produce, but also in harvest and processing. If water is high in mineral deposits, it can cause pathogen survival. Soil residue also impacts cleanliness and sanitation.

Water temperature will change the sanitizer stability and efficacy. If water is too cold, the sanitizer will not work properly. If water is too hot, sanitizers can vaporize and release toxic gases. Produce quality can also be affected which can reduce shelf life. The acidity or pH of water must also be monitored.

Contact time of sanitizers and disinfectants will dictate the effectiveness. If left on too long, off flavors will linger and can become a chemical hazard.

The produce surface texture can trap bacteria or make them difficult to remove soil and debris. Bruises and other damage also lead to ineffective cleaning.

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Handling a Recalled Food

Food recalls happen almost daily and many do not get a lot of publicity. In a majority of recalls, it is the manufacturer that issues a voluntary recall.

Manufacturers will work with the FDA or USDA to help determine the reason for the recall and to fix the issue. If foodborne illnesses have occurred, the CDC and state health departments will also be involved.

As consumers, it is important to pay attention to recalls to eliminate the chance of getting sick. Recall announcements give specific information about the food recall including the type of food, brand, package size, date codes, manufacturer codes, shelf life dates, distribution locations, and other pertinent information.

If you have a recalled food, take it back to where it was purchased for a refund, or throw it away. Do not take the chance of eating it or feeding it to animals.

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To report a problem with food, see for contact information.


Cheers to Safe Egg Nog!

The star beverage for many holiday parties is egg nog. This is a drink that dates back to the 13th century and there are many variations.

To reduce the chance of giving the gift of foodborne illness, make a cooked egg base. This is done by mixing the eggs and half the milk and gently heat to an internal temperature of 160°F. The mixture should coat a metal spoon. Remove from heat and chill the base before adding other ingredients. Then, say cheers for a safe holiday treat!

For a recipe, see Learn more at


2019 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference

Registration is now open for the 2019 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference on March 6-9, 2019. Early bird registration is available until January 25, 2019. The theme is From Consumers to Chefs: Food Safety Education Matters.

This conference is sponsored by the Partnership for Food Safety Education and aims to explore consumer food safety behavior, networking opportunities with public health, government, corporate, non-profit and many others.

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After the Hunt

Hunting season is in full swing and many have had successful results. Keep that success going by handling the animal safely from the field to the freezer. Always abide by hunting regulations.

Observe large animals for any disease. Watch for any unusual actions such as stumbling, tremors, excessive salivation, and other traits. Be cautious for signs of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Field dress animals as soon as possible and cool the animal quickly. Improper temperature is the meat’s worst enemy. Be prepared with tools and equipment to transport it safely.

For more information on handling wild game, see the resources at


Allergen in Red Meat Associated with Heart Disease

Lone Star Tick

Diets high in saturated fat may lead to heart disease. But, another potential factor could be a cause of heart disease, an allergen in red meat.

Research done at the University of Virginia has found a specific allergen called galactose-α-1,3-galactose, a sugar in red meat which can cause sensitivity in people bitten by the lone star tick. Prior research showed hints that this linkage was possible. Now, the specific allergen has been identified.

The specific antibody blood marker to this allergen has shown higher levels of fatty deposits inside arteries which could be associated with heart disease.

As a reminder, this is just a preliminary association. More research must be done to show that testing for this allergen will be helpful in managing heart disease.

Lone Star tick


Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are important tools to fight disease and illness. But, some bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics which can lead to problems in food safety but also in healthcare and in communities.

Learn how to reduce the chances of becoming ill from antibiotic resistant bacteria at See more information at


Keep Holiday Meals Safe!

Whether it is a simple meal for two, or a large gathering with a buffet, food safety is a priority at any meal, and especially at the holidays. Nobody wants the gift of foodborne illness!

Are you the host for the holiday meal? Reduce your stress by starting a list now to plan the location, food and recipes, activities and games, and what your guests could bring. Put it in a timeline or on a calendar to stay on schedule.

Are you buying a fresh or frozen turkey? If you choose fresh, be sure to place an order with your grocer or butcher shop and pick it up 1-2 days before the meal. Frozen turkeys can be purchased any time and stored in the freezer. Pay attention to grocery sales to save some money.

Frozen turkeys are best thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. In the refrigerator, plan on at least five days for a 20 pound turkey. In cold water, allow about 30 minutes per pound of turkey.

Do you only have one oven?  Use a slow cooker for hot dishes. A table top roaster oven can be used like a regular oven for many items. Even electric pressure cookers can cook up some tasty dishes! Some items, such as dessert or bread can be made ahead and frozen.

When cooking the turkey, remember that 325 degrees F is the lowest oven temperature to safely cook turkey. Use a food thermometer to be sure it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

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Writing Food Safe Recipes

Beyond creating delicious meals, people who write recipes have an important role to play in helping others remember to cook their food safely. Did you know that when recipes include food safety tips, people are more likely to follow those steps and cook their foods safely?

Help prevent the spread of foodborne illness by including simple reminders for safe food handling and preparation in all your recipes. Learn how to add tips for fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and flour; and how to store food safely at


FDA Removes Seven Flavor Additives

In accordance to specific rules in the Delaney Clause, the Food and Drug Administration has removed seven flavor additives from being used in food manufacturing.

The Delaney Clause is legislation, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1958, that forbids the use of any food additives that can be carcinogenic to any animal or in humans. Therefore, these seven additives are removed based on this law.

The removed flavors are synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. The seventh flavor, styrene, is being delisted because it is no longer used. This action is based on the law, not because they are unsafe to use at the recommended usage level.

These flavor compounds are naturally found in grapes, pineapples, oranges and other foods. They were used in bakery and confectionary processing.