We recently spotlighted the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S. Senate. Part of the data that supported the legislation, the number of people who die every year from food-borne illness, has been revised in the latest government estimates.
The good news? It’s now estimated at 3,000 deaths as opposed to 5,000. The bad news? That doesn’t mean our food supply is safer. Not to mention, I don’t know about you, but 3,000 people dying every year simply by eating bad food is still disturbing.
“Just because we have more precise data that allows us a better estimate, that doesn’t mean that food-borne illnesses have gone down that much,” says Kirk E. Smith, DVM, PhD, supervisor of the Foodborne Disease Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health. (more…)
I’m terrified of food borne illnesses and rightly so. E. coli, salmonella and hepatitis are only a few of the diseases that can be contracted from food that is improperly prepared. I’ve compiled the following tips for safe food handling from the CDC, USDA and FDA websites.
When you prepare:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food. Also be sure you wash your hands when switching from meat to produce.
- Freezing meat (raw or cooked) is perfectly fine but be sure to thaw it properly. Plan ahead so that it can be thawed slowly in the refrigerator, as opposed to on the counter at room temperature.
- As a general rule, rinse all fresh produce.
- Do not rinse your chicken. Rinsing chicken is unnecessary and only spreads bacteria from the raw meat to your sink where it so easily travels to other areas.
Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are a special time for families to gather around the table to give thanks and celebrate. It’s also a time of year when inexperienced and new cooks attempt new recipes and food preparation methods. Sometimes improper handling of foods can lead to food borne illness and food poisoning.
“Food poisoning is highly preventable,” said Dr. Richard Geller, executive medical director of California Poison Control System. “By following simple storage, handling and cooking suggestions, families can stay healthy and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, as well as the many other celebrations taking place this time of year.” (more…)
The Centers for Disease Control found that eggs are behind hundreds of food poisoning cases that occurred throughout July and June. Investigators in Minnesota, Colorado and California have traced the rotten eggs back to Wright County Egg. The finding has prompted a massive nation-wide recall, and the FDA is continuing investigation.
Food Poisoning Journal estimates that 280 million eggs have been involved in the recall. The list of major brands affected are Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, and Kemps. The contaminated eggs were sold to restaurants and grocery stores. (more…)
Two of my favorite snack foods, salsa and guacamole, have had a not-so-safe recent history of being linked to food poisoning. During the period of 1998 to 2008, the two tortilla dips have been the source of one of every 25 foodborne illness outbreaks connected to restaurants.
This period more than doubled the rate of the previous 10 years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1984 and 1997, salsa and guacamole accounted for about 1.5 percent of all food poisonings started from restaurants. From 1998 and 2008, that figure almost reached four percent. According to researchers, 5,560 people got sick, and 145 people ended up in the hospital. Three deaths were attributed to the salsa and guacamole outbreaks. Here is how the illnesses broke down:
Procter & Gamble, the makers of Pringles potato chips, has issued a recall of two of its flavors: Restaurant Cravers Cheeseburger and Family Faves Taco Night. Maybe things got a little out of hand anyway when they started making cheeseburger and taco flavored potato chips!
The decision to recall the chips was made when salmonella was found on the plant equipment of Las Vegas-based company Basic Food Flavors, which provides the flavor-enhancing hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) in the aforementioned Pringles flavors.
While the recall is being classified as voluntary, it comes on the heels of a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration to do so. (more…)
Vice President Joe Biden is known for his verbal gaffes. But this time, he’s spot on – it’s tough enough to afford food in these uncertain economic times, people should not have to worry about the safety of that food.
Biden co-chairs the Food Safety Working Group along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The theme will be contamination prevention.
“The focus is to have a completely different emphasis than we’ve had in the past,” Biden said. “We’re going to make our new priority preventing (food contamination) from happening in the first place.” (more…)
President Obama has been busy working on the unenviable task of fixing the U.S. economy. While that fiasco has been largely a reactive effort, the president is trying to be more proactive by addressing another issue before something equally devastating happens in the food industry.
Obama selects Margaret Hamburg to head FDA.
So, Obama has announced the nomination of former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as FDA commissioner. He’s also selected Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as her deputy. The president believes that the food safety system in the U.S. is a “hazard to public health,” and is in bad need of revision. (more…)