DeCA’s Public Health and Safety director: Disregarding the tenets of Be Food Safe can turn the family gathering into a trip to the emergency room

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-May-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — As warmer temperatures push more commissary patrons from the kitchen stove to the backyard grill, the Defense Commissary Agency wants to remind them to “Be Food Safe.”

Disregarding the tenets of Be Food Safe can turn the family gathering into a trip to the emergency room, said the director of DeCA’s Public Health and Safety Directorate, Col. Michael A. Buley.

“Our mission is to be vigilant against foodborne illnesses from the farm to the commissary warehouse to the store shelf to our patrons’ shopping carts,” Buley said. “However, we also ask our patrons to do their part by practicing ‘Be Food Safe’ whenever they handle food.”

Be Food Safe was created through the collaboration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent foodborne illnesses caused by consumers mishandling food at home.

Salmonella, E. coli and listeria can all be unwanted guests at the barbecue if people don’t pay heed to proper food handling, said Chris Wicker, DeCA’s public health advisor.

“The juices from raw meats can contain bacteria that could transfer to other foods,” he said. “Cooked foods should be placed onto plates and containers that are clean, so there is no risk of cross contamination.

“Time and temperature are also key factors for grilling and protecting your loved ones from foodborne illness,” Wicker added. “Always ensure proper temperatures are reached for all cooked meats and that no food is left out longer than two hours. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.”

Before any cookout, Wicker said grill masters should consider the following basic food safety tips:

  • Be clean. Before cooking or eating – and definitely after using the bathroom – wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget the grill; it should also be cleaned before preparation begins.
  • Separate the food. Keep raw food apart from cooked food. The juices from raw meats can contain bacteria that could transfer to other foods. That means use separate plates or containers for raw meat, poultry or seafood when moving food to the grill and different containers entirely for the cooked products unless the carriers have been washed thoroughly in soap and water. Also, keep cooking utensils and cooking surfaces clean from potential cross contamination.
  • Marinate in refrigerator. Any food that is marinating should be covered and kept in a refrigerator until ready to cook. Also, don’t reuse marinade containing raw meat.
  • Cook it completely. This means you cannot take shortcuts on the amount of time it takes to thoroughly cook meat. Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is ready to eat. For example, ground beef and pork should be cooked at 160 F, chicken at 165 F and steaks and roast at 145 F. For shrimp, lobster and crab, cook until pearly and opaque. You can use your microwave, oven or stove to precook the food immediately before placing it on the grill.
  • Chill and freeze – immediately. Food should never be off the grill or out of the cooler for more than two hours. And, when the outside temperature is hotter than 90 F, food can only be left out for an hour.
  • Hot, hot, hot. Keep hot food wrapped, insulated in a container and at or above 140 F. Eat hot take-out food within two hours of purchase. When reheating food on the grill, make sure it reaches 165 F.
  • Keep it cold. If it’s meant to be cold, it needs to stay that way at or below 40 F. Chicken salad, potato salads, bagged and green salads, and certain desserts must be protected from warm temperatures by placing them on ice in coolers. Remember to drain the water from melted ice in those coolers and replace ice as necessary.

For the latest food safety alerts and product recalls affecting military commissaries, visit our Food Recalls page. For general food safety information, visit our Food Safety page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

 

Food Safety Month: Defense Commissary Agency reminds its patrons to use the guidelines of “Be Food Safe” when they handle their groceries

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-9-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Gambling with food safety is a bet you cannot afford to lose. According to Foodsafety.gov, one in six Americans will fall ill this year from food poisoning, with 100,000 going to the hospital and 3,000 people dying each year.

Commissaries have layers of food safety protection to help keep foodborne illnesses away from their customers. However, once patrons purchase their groceries and go home, who is on the clock for food safety?

With September being Food Safety Month, the Defense Commissary Agency is reminding its patrons to use the guidelines of “Be Food Safe” when they handle their groceries.

” ‘Be Food Safe’ is an effective and simple process for commissary patrons to help protect themselves from foodborne illnesses while they transport their groceries and once they bring their purchases home,” said Army Col. Michael A. Buley, director of the Defense Commissary Agency’s public health and safety directorate. “A momentary lapse in food safety vigilance can turn a delicious meal into a trip to the doctor’s office.”

“Effective food safety is a continuous, nonstop process that begins with farmers, continues with suppliers and retailers, and ends with the consumer,” said Chris Wicker, a public health advisor at DeCA headquarters.

The “Be Food Safe” message is simple: clean, separate, cook and chill. The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food Safety Inspection Service recommend the following safe handling techniques:

Clean

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to prepare the next item.
  • Food contact surfaces can be sanitized with a freshly made solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.

Separate

  • Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
  • If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Cook

  • Cook poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F as measured with a food thermometer.

Chill

  • Chill food promptly and properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours (or one hour if temperatures are above 90 F).

Wicker said one often overlooked part of food safety is the manner in which commissary patrons move their groceries from the store checkout to their refrigerator.

“Germs in a dirty reusable shopping bag, leaving perishables without a cooler in a hot car for an extended period of time, and failing to separate foods that can cross contaminate – all of these factors and more can lead to a food safety disaster,” he said.

A few more tips for handling food safely can be found at www.homefoodsafety.org:

  • Use hand sanitizer to wipe hands and the handle of the shopping cart.
  • Clean hands before sampling food. Either bring moist towelettes or carry a bottle of hand sanitizer to use before you taste.
  • If you use reusable grocery bags, wash them often.
  • Check food packages for holes, tears or openings. Frozen foods should be solid with no signs of thawing.
  • Check for a loose lid on jars whose seals seem tampered with or damaged. Report a defective cap to the store manager.
  • Avoid buying cans that are deeply dented, bulging, rusting or have a dent on either the top or side seam.
  • Use plastic bags to separate raw meat, poultry and seafood before placing them in your cart to avoid contaminating ready-to-eat foods like bread or produce.
  • When shopping, select perishable foods last before checkout and group them together.
  • Take groceries home immediately and store them right away. If on an extended trip, bring a cooler with chill packs for perishable foods. Perishable foods must be refrigerated within two hours and only one hour if it is over 90 F outside.
  • Keep perishable foods out of the hot trunk in summer and place in the air-conditioned car instead.

For more food safety information, you can visit our Food Safety page. You can also look at our Health/Food Safety links on our Links page to see a list of websites on the latest health and safety reports and information from other agencies.

To find the latest food safety alerts and product recalls affecting military commissaries, visit our Food Recalls page.

For more food handling techniques, visit http://www.homefoodsafety.org/food-poisoning/food-safety-start-at-the-store..

Note: Please access the following link for a video related to this news release: https://youtu.be/ueKEdQb8PbU.

 

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil