USDA offers food safety this busy fall season

WASHINGTON, 2017-Aug-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — During the busy fall season, whether you’re preparing a packed lunch for your child, a weeknight dinner for the family, or a tailgate feast for the whole crew, make sure you prevent foodborne illness by following USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Clean: Wash your hands and cooking surfaces before and after handling food. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking. Make sure lunch boxes and coolers are clean before packing.

Separate: Avoid cross contamination. Don’t let raw meat, poultry, or egg products come in contact with fruits, vegetables, or prepared foods. Never put cooked food on a plate or tray that held raw meat or poultry.

Cook: When cooking, use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy harmful bacteria. Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, roasts, and fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F and let them rest for three minutes before eating. When cooking raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal, make sure the meat reaches a minimum internal temperature of 160°F. Egg dishes should also be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160°F. All poultry should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

Chill: When packing food, use an insulated lunchbox or cooler and at least two cold sources, such as freezer packs. Discard any perishable foods that were left at room temperature longer than two hours (one hour in temperatures above 90°F).

Lunch Packing Tips

  • If the lunch contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources, such as freezer packs. Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly so perishable food transported without a cold source won’t stay safe long.
  • Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
  • If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili, or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food at 140°F or above.
  • If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.

Eating and Disposal Tips

  • Teach children to properly wash their hands before eating lunch. If running water isn’t available, pack disposable wipes for cleaning hands before and after eating.
  • After lunch, children should discard all leftover food and used food packaging.
  • Clean lunch boxes thoroughly each night with warm soapy water or a disinfectant wipe.

Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov, by following @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter, and by liking Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov. Consumers with questions about food safety can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

If you have questions about storage times for food or beverages, download USDA’s FoodKeeper application for Android and iOS devices.

Contact:
Food Safety Education Staff
Press (202) 720-9113
Consumer Inquiries (888) 674-6854

Source: USDA

USDA offers home cooks tips on food safety

WASHINGTON, 2017-Apr-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — With spring renewal upon us, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service invites home cooks to gain kitchen confidence by refreshing their perspectives on food safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year approximately 48 million Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Many of these illnesses can be prevented by changing behaviors in the kitchen and gaining a little kitchen confidence.

What is kitchen confidence?

Kitchen confidence is simply the confidence in your ability to safely prepare delicious meals for your loved ones and yourself. Even armed with grandma’s best recipes, the most experienced cooks can unknowingly make food safety mistakes that can make people sick. So this spring, be confident in your food safety skills by accessing the following resources: FoodSafety.gov, the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline and the FoodKeeper app.

Throughout the spring you’ll find blogs, roasting charts, storage guidance, and the latest news on food recalls at FoodSafety.gov. You’ll also have access to a wealth of expertise to help tackle any food preparation challenge.

Among the many tools available on FoodSafety.gov is the FoodKeeper. It’s available on the website, and as a mobile app for smartphones and tablets. With more than 100,000 downloads onto Android and iOS devices, the FoodKeeper is quickly establishing itself as the go-to quick reference guide for safe food storage. Available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, the FoodKeeper helps limit food waste by providing storage information on more than 400 food items, including produce, baby food, dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood. The FoodKeeper also offers customizable notifications that sync with smartphone calendars to remind users when it is time to use, freeze or dispose of products.

Protecting families from foodborne illness is one of the Food Safety and Inspection Services’ primary goals. Our food safety specialists on our Meat and Poultry Hotline can personally answer your food safety questions on weekdays year-round. The hotline receives more than 50,000 calls annually. This toll-free telephone service, which began July 1, 1985, helps prevent foodborne illness by answering questions about the safe storage, handling and preparation of meat, poultry and egg products.

This spring, get that kitchen confidence back. Visit FoodSafety.gov.

Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices by following FSIS @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter or www.Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov on Facebook. Consumers with questions about food safety can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist in English or Spanish at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Contact:

Food Safety Education Staff
Press: (202) 720-9113
Consumer Inquiries: (888) 674-6854

Source: USDA

USDA: 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year; series of PSAs launched to address food safety

WASHINGTON, 2015-10-17 — /EPR Retail News/ — In an effort to educate children and their families about the importance of food safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ad Council are joining 20th Century FOX to launch a series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks. The PSAs use footage from the upcoming film Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip to introduce viewers to four steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill.

An estimated 1 in 6 (48 million) Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are among the most vulnerable to food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing, so caregivers need to take extra precautions when preparing food for children under five.

The partnership includes TV, radio, out-of-home and web advertising. Parents and children can also find kid-friendly activities that further reinforce the food safety steps by visiting FoodSafety.gov.

“Young children are at a higher risk for foodborne illness, and keeping them safe is a top priority for FSIS,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred Almanza. “These familiar characters offer USDA a great opportunity to communicate this valuable public health message in a way to get the attention of children and parents.”

The new PSAs are an extension of USDA and Ad Council’s Food Safe Families campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the risk of foodborne illness and encourage families to learn and practice key steps that will help everyone stay safe from foodborne illness through the following safe food handling behaviors:

  • Clean: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food. Clean all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water. Wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
  • Separate: Use separate plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and foods that are ready to eat (like already cooked foods or raw vegetables).
  • Cook: Cook foods to the safe temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours, or 1 hour if temperature is above 90°F.

Consumers can see these new PSAs and learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov, by ‘following’@USDAFoodSafety on Twitter, and by ‘liking’ Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov. Consumers with questions about food safety, can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

If you have questions about storage times of food or beverages, download USDA’s new FoodKeeper application for Android and iOS devices.

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