Tag Archives: food safety

FDA Offers Grilling Tips

 

Photo from U.S. FDA

FoodFacts.com would like to discuss grilling season.

With grilling season just around the corner, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month released a pamphlet with grilling tips for the safe preparation of foods.

E-coli and salmonella are two of the most well-known and common food-borne illnesses in existent, and both illnesses are often contracted through the incorrect preparation of foods. This is especially common in the summer, when grilling is a common means of cooking and the heat outside is high, resulting in a higher chance of bacteria growing within food.

So how can you keep you and your family safe during this fun, but risky, time?

It all begins before you even begin cooking, with proper cleanup and preparation of your work area. Cleaning your food items is also a must, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables.

The means in which you transport your food is also important, and transporting foods in an organized manner could be beneficial. Keeping your cold foods cold, specifically in a cooler with the temperature at 40°F or below, is necessary for preventing bacteria growth. Keep the coolers closed, and don’t cross-contaminate foods such as poultry, seafood and raw meat.

What about the actual grilling process, though? How do you keep your foods safe?

When grilling, it is important to marinate your food safely – keep it in the refrigerator, rather than the counters or outside. Keep already grilled food hot until it is served. Also, and this is very important – cook food thoroughly. To find out proper cooking temperatures, please refer to the FDA link at the bottom of this blog. Finally, when cooking, keep utensils separate to prevent cross-contamination. It might be a good idea to wash utensils after each use to be extra safe.

So, folks, there you have it. Separation, refrigeration, and proper cooking temperatures are the basics.

With that said, we’re wishing you a happy and healthy grilling season from FoodFacts.com!

FDA: http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/Consumers/ucm109899.htm

All the Cows Go Mad — The Latest on Mad Cow Disease

 

Photo from CNN.com

FoodFacts.com would like to address the news of confirmed “mad cow disease” case in California.

Think back to a little less than a decade ago, when “mad cow disease” was first mentioned in the United States. The widespread panic that ensued following a presumptive diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease,” in Washington took over news headlines for weeks.

In 2006, the phrase “mad cow disease” came up again, when a cow in Alabama was confirmed to have BSE.

And then today, news broke that South Korea had suspended the sale of beef from the US following the confirmation of BSE in a dairy cow in California.

Some people may fail to remember why the panic ensued back in 2003 and 2004 – just that the term “mad cow disease” resulted in fear across the country. But the fear is valid, given the deaths of 150 in the 1980s and 1990s in Britain that were cause by BSE.

What is BSE and why should we fear it? What does it do?

BSE is a fatal neurological disease in cattle, and is related to something called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans, which is an incurable disease that results in the decrease of mental function and movement, and eventually, possibly death. Humans can contract the disease following the consumption of beef from an infected cow.

Should people be concerned? According to public health officials, people in the United States have a very low risk of consuming beef from an infected cow or contracting the illness, and no extra precautions need to be taken.

Wishing you the best from all of us here at FoodFacts.com!

Dioxins — Any “eggscape” from them?

 

Picture credit to FoxNews.com

FoodFacts.com would like to take some time to look at dioxins.

 

Recently, it has been revealed that in Germany, the highly poisonous chemical was found in eggs from a couple of farms in levels that was above the permissible level set.

 

Needless to say, the farms found with those eggs have been sealed off and are not permitted to sell more eggs. That doesn’t mean that eggs containing dioxins haven’t been sold already, though.

 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency webpage, dioxins are a “group of toxic chemical compounds that share certain chemical structures and biological characteristics.” [1] They can be released into the environment in many different ways, including forest fires and certain industrial activities.

 

While many people fail to realize it, most every living creature has been exposed to dioxins in some way, shape or form over time. Dioxins are not reported to be harmful at small levels, but long-term exposure or high levels could result in numerous adverse health effects, including but not limited to cancer. Exposure to high levels of dioxins have also reportedly led to reproductive and developmental problems, according to studies, and an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. While there are no known health effects on those who have consumed dioxins in small doses, more research does need to be done on those who are exposed to low levels of it over long periods of time, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

This isn’t the first time the issue of dioxins has been brought up with regards to Germany. Back in January of 2011, the European Union issued a health alert when officials discovered that animal feed had been tainted with dioxins, which was in turn fed to animals like hens and pigs and contaminating eggs, poultry and pork. Following that health alert, new measures were implemented to keep dioxin ingredients out of animal feed. Because of those new measures, and tests performed, officials do not believe the cause of this exposure was due to animal feed, and are still looking into the cause of the exposure.

 

Is there cause for concern? In Germany, there is reportedly no danger to the public. But it certainly makes everyone wonder what chemicals might be in their foods.

 

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, there are always measures being taken to lower dioxin levels in foods. Furthermore, there are regulations in place regarding dioxin emissions when it comes to industrial sources. And over time, reduced dioxin emissions will result in reduced levels of dioxins in foods. That being said, cause for concern more or less rests on your faith in the government and their efforts.

 

FoodFacts.com would like to extend our best wishes!

 


[1] Dioxin. Environmental Assessment. United States Environmental Protection Agency. <http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/nceaQFind.cfm?keyword=Dioxin>

Salmonella. Are You Up to Date on the Latest Outbreak?

FoodFacts.com will be looking at Salmonella today.

 

As of April 6, 2012, 100 people have been stricken with Salmonella in an outbreak that has spread across 19 states. The specific serotype is Salmonella Bareilly. Dates for the onset of the illness ranges from January 28 to March 25, with reported cases of the disease occurring in people ranging from 4 years of age to 78. People who are reported to have contracted Salmonella live from Texas eastward, with New York having the highest number of reported cases thus far at 23, and Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri have the lowest number of reported cases at one. The outbreak has resulted in 10 hospitalizations, but no deaths.

 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working together on an investigation into the cause of this outbreak, there has yet to be an official food source identified, but it has been said that the cause of the outbreak is most definitely a food source. One possibility being investigated by the FDA is sushi, as several people who were infected reported eating sushi, sashimi, or other related products in the week prior of infection symptoms showed up.

 

This particular serotype of Salmonella is actually one of the rarer ones. Symptoms of being infected with Salmonella include:

 

-         Abdominal Cramps

-         Nausea

-         Vomiting

-         Diarrhea (which can be bloody and with mucus)

-         Headache

-         Drowsiness

-         Rose spots

 

The symptoms of Salmonella infection can typically last up to seven days, with symptoms showing up anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacteria. Most people recover without treatment, but some may be hospitalized for dehydration caused by the symptoms of the infection.

 

Some common foods that have caused Salmonella outbreaks in the past include ground beef, ground turkey, cantaloupe, and whole, fresh imported papayas, all in 2011 alone. In 2010, alfalfa sprouts and shell eggs sickened 140 people and over 1900 people, respectively.

 

So how can you protect yourself against Salmonella? First and foremost, make sure you cook your food thoroughly. The better it’s cooked, the more likely you are to kill the germs in it. Also, make sure to wash your cooking utensils and prep area thoroughly, as well as your hands often. Finally, pay attention to the news and food recalls – if you have a product listed in a recall, don’t hesitate to get rid of it. It could save you some agony down the road. There is no medication to prevent the disease, but you can cut down your chances of developing the infection by following a few basic safety tips such as the ones listed above.

 

Wishing you a safe and healthy week from FoodFacts.com!

What really happens after you eat canned soup?

There’s been a lot of talk about BPA recently, and FoodFacts.com has been staying on top of the news. We know this is an important issue for our community and wanted to make sure you had the latest information.

A new study compared the urine of people who consumed canned soup to the urine of people who consumed freshly made soup for the presence of BPA. BAP (bishpenol A) has been linked to many health problems including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It turned out that the group of people involved in the study who consumed just one serving of canned soup once per day for five days showed a 1000% increase in urinary BPA over those people who consumed freshly made soup.

According to CBSnews.com, the author of the study, Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student at Harvard School of Public health said in a written statement, “We’ve known for a while that drinking beverages that have been stored in certain hard plastics can increase the amount of BPA in your body. This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use.”

The researchers noted that the high levels of BPA might be transient and called for more research – but said that the time may have come to get BPA out of cans. As study author Karin Michels, associate professor in the school’s department of epidemiology, put it in the statement, “It may be advisable for manufacturers to consider eliminating BPA from can linings.”

The study used Progresso brand soups, but researchers explained that it wasn’t about the brand, it was about the cans. A spokesman for General Mills, the company that makes Progresso soups, did not agree with the findings of the study.

 

“Scientific and governmental bodies worldwide have examined the science and concluded that the weight of evidence support the safety of BPA, including comprehensive risk assessments in Japan and in the European Union,” Kirstie Foster, told Bloomberg Businessweek in an email. Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, stated that the study “does nothing to substantiate claims that trace levels of BPA – even from daily canned soup consumption – have any effect on health.”

The study was published online Nov. 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We knew that members of the FoodFacts.com community would want to read and share this information, even if the findings are, thus far, inconclusive. We know that an educated consumer will make the best choices for the diet and health of their families. Please let us know your opinions on this controversial topic.

Fighting the use of BPA in canned food products

FoodFacts.com feels strongly that part of our mission is to bring our community information on how they can add their voices to the causes that are meaningful to our health and well-being.

BPA (bisphenol-A) is a chemical used to line the cans that contain a myriad of different food products. It is linked to various cancers, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, early onset puberty and a host of other problems. And notably, many of the products whose cans contain BPA are meant for consumption by children. Spaghetti-O’s, Goldfish Pasta Soup, Spongebob Squarepants Soup are just a few of the products packaged in BPA-containing cans. We’ve covered BPA in previous blog posts.

While you can’t plug BPA or bisphenol-A into the FoodFacts.com database because it isn’t technically a food ingredient, it is leaching out into the food supply. You can check out this article at Huffington Post for more details.

But now we want to ask our community to do their part to convince a major food manufacturer that it’s time to move away from BPA.

Currently www.change.org is featuring a petition targeted to the Campbell’s Soup Company. Campbell’s produces a myriad of products created and marketed to appeal to children — in addition to a host of other canned foods. Follow this link http://www.change.org/petitions/campbells-stop-endangering-kids-health and include your voice in this important petition to send a message to the Campbell’s Soup Company to get the BPA out of their cans.

Follow the link, join the petition, and share this blog post. Let’s help this major manufacturer see the importance of this issue and how it affects children today and for generations to come.

Taking action on GMO Foods – Something you can do today!

gmo-tomato

Last week Reuters reported that The Center for Food Safety has filed a legal petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that seeks mandatory labeling for foods made from genetically engineered crops.

The point of the CFS position is to require companies to label foods, letting consumers know that the product they’re purchasing is genetically modified. Currently the food industry is able to sell any GMO food without consumer notification. This step by the Center for Food Safety is just the first step towards the ultimate goal of filing a lawsuit against the FDA to force proper labeling of GMO products.

With literally thousands of unlabeled food items containing some trace of genetically altered crops, there is currently no way for consumers to make an educated decision as to whether or not to purchase GMO products. The response from big biotech companies who oppose labeling has been that the crops and foods made from genetically modified seed are identical to non-GMO foods in composition, nutrition and safety. The opposing voices to this position are growing in numbers every day. Currently, the CFS is backed by 350 organizations including health care companies, food and farming businesses and organizations, consumer advocates and environmentalists.

It’s interesting to note that 15 European Union nations, Japan, Brazil, Russia, China and Australia all have consumer labeling laws for genetically engineered foods. According to a poll conducted by the Consumers Union 95% of American consumers want genetically engineered foods to be labeled and 93% believe that the federal government should require mandatory labeling. Regardless of the feelings of the biotech companies, the mandatory safety requirements that new drugs need to adhere to – things like clinical trials, tests for carcinogenicity, long-term testing for human health risks -don’t exist at all for genetically modified food.

You can add your voice to those who are demanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration take action.   justlabelit.org has been launched to allow concerned consumers to notify the FDA of their support for the CFA position. One click is all you need to make sure your concerns are heard. You can also use this easy to navigate site to become more educated and informed about GMO foods and why food labeling is the best way to make sure the freedom of choice Americans enjoy on so many other levels also applies to our consumption of GMO food products.

FoodFacts.com would like to remind everyone that the best way to avoid GMO food products is to purchase USDA certified organic. The standards companies need to meet in order to become certified strictly prohibit the use of GE ingredients. When you purchase unprocessed, fresh certified organic foods and avoid packaged foods you can be sure you are consuming food products that you know and understand.

Check out justlabelit.org and click to make your voice heard to get GMO food products labeled today!

More cantaloupe recalls…

cantaloupe-listeria-outbreak

Foodfacts.com will continuously update you on the latest food recalls! Make sure to check back daily for more updates pertaining to the deadly cantaloupe outbreak.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 6, 2011 – Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. of Depew, New York is recalling approximately 4,800 individual packages of FRESH CUT CANTALOUPE AND CUT MIXED FRUIT CONTAINING CANTALOUPE because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. was not advised of the possible contamination of the cantaloupe it acquired from an independent wholesale vendor until last Thursday, September 27th.

The recalled FRESH CUT CANTALOUPE AND CUT MIXED FRUIT CONTAINING CANTALOUPE was distributed in Buffalo, New York and surrounding areas in retail stores and through catering orders.

The fresh cut fruit subject to this recall was sold between August 31, 2011 and September 11, 2011, and consisted of the following products: Cantaloupe Chunks, Cantaloupe Slices, Gourmet Fruit Salad, Small Fruit Salad, Small and Large Fruit Salad with Pineapple, Fruit Salad with Kiwi, and Fruit Trays. The packaging in which these products were packed has best-if-used-by dates ranging from September 4th through September 11th. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the cantaloupe processed by Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. Before cutting whole melons for packaging, Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. uses stringent procedures to minimize the risk of contamination. The rind of the whole cantaloupe is thoroughly washed with a sanitizing solution before cutting, and after the seeds are removed, the flesh is washed with this same solution before it is cut or sliced. Despite these procedures, which greatly minimize the risk of contamination, Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is recalling these products out of an abundance of caution.

The Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. recall is part of a larger recall involving cantaloupe traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver area store and the Jensen Farms packing facility. The melons were shipped to at least 17 different states across the U.S. between July 29th and September 10th. As of Wednesday there were a total of 96 illnesses, including 18 deaths, related to the contaminated cantaloupe sold by Jensen Farms. Jensen Farms earlier issued a voluntary nationwide recall of its cantaloupes after news of the multi-state outbreak. Jenson Farms has ceased production and distribution of the product while the FDA and the company continue their investigations as to what caused the problem.

Consumers having the recalled Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. product in their possession should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or destroy it. Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is located at 2928 Walden Avenue, New York 14043. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (716) 684-4300, Monday thru Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Food Recall: Mrs. Freshley’s Cereal Bars

Foodfacts.com
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Flowers Foods is voluntarily recalling the following Mrs. Freshley’s multipack cereal bars, labeled in English/French for Canadian distribution, because they may contain undeclared non-fat dry milk. People who have allergies to dairy products run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Apple Cinnamon Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002400

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Blueberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002387

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Strawberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002363

The recalled product involves the following distribution:

In Canada: To food and convenience stores in Quebec and Ontario provinces

In U.S: To discount stores nationwide in the dual-language (French/English) multipack carton

The recall was initiated after Flowers discovered that product containing non-fat dry milk was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk, and that product labeled for sale and distribution in Canada was sold for distribution in the U.S.

Much of the product involved has been contained within the distribution system. Out of an abundance of caution, Flowers issued the voluntary recall and is advising its trade customers to withdraw these products from sale. The company is in the process of recovering the product involved and is in contact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to ensure the continued safety of those consumers who may be impacted by this issue. The company also has reported the recall to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Canadian and U.S. consumers who have purchased the dual-language (English/French) labeled Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars with the UPC codes noted are urged to return them to the place of purchase for product replacement or refund. No other Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars are included in this recall; only Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars in dual-language packages are involved.

Consumers with questions may call Flowers’ Consumer Relations Center at 1-866-245-8921. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Consumers also may contact the center via e-mail by visiting the Contact Us page at www.mrsfreshleys.com.

Soy Flour Recall!

soy
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Thumb Oilseed Producer’s Cooperative of Ubly, Michigan is recalling 2623, 40 lb. bags and 360, 1500 lb. totes of soybean flour; in addition to 924, .08 ton loads of bulk soy meal because they may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products. Especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the product or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe or chronic illnesses.

Animals with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and/or vomiting. Some animals will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your animal has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The soy flour was distributed in 40 lb. paper bags under the names:
Nex Soy (Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011) and
Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFB; Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011).
The soy flour was also distributed in 1500 lb. polyurethane totes under the name
Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFT, Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF082311).
The soy meal was distributed as .08 ton loads after custom processing with Lot numbers O011711 thru O081711.

The recalled soybean flour and meal was distributed to a limited group of wholesale customers located in Illinois, Vermont, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Canada. The shipments occurred in November 2010 thru September 2011. Thumb Oilseed is contacting these customers and taking necessary steps to protect consumer health.

No illnesses have been reported to date. The recall resulted from routine sampling conducted by the company and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which revealed the bacteria in finished product and the manufacturing environment. Thumb Oilseed is cooperating with the FDA in investigating the situation.

This recall does not involve soy oil products produced by Thumb Oilseed.

Consumers who have purchased 40 lb. bags of Nex Soy (Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011) and Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFB, Lot numbers TF112310 and TF033011); 1500 lb. totes of Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFT, Lot numbers TF112310 and TF092311); and bulk meal with the Lot numbers O011711 thru O081711 are urged to return them to Thumb Oilseed Producers Cooperative for a credit or a refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 989-658-2344 between 9:00 am. and 4:00 pm. EST Monday-Friday.