USDA: Unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious foodborne illness

WASHINGTON, 2015-11-21 — /EPR Retail News/ — Thanksgiving is the largest meal many cooks prepare every year. Its centerpiece—the turkey—is the largest dish most cooks ever encounter, and many are not experienced at roasting one. USDA wants consumers to know that a range of resources, from smartphone apps to its 30-year Meat and Poultry Hotline, exist to help consumers through any food preparation conundrums this holiday season, wherever and whenever they may arise.

“Unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious foodborne illness,” said Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has a variety of food safety resources to help with any questions related to preparing Thanksgiving dinner, including our Meat and Poultry Hotline that will be staffed will helpful experts on Thanksgiving Day.”

Cooking Turkey like a PRO:

This Thanksgiving more than 46 million turkeys will be eaten. Cooking the Thanksgiving turkey can be tricky, and trying to figure out when the turkey is done is often the hardest task. But, it doesn’t have to be! Impress your family by using a food thermometer to cook like a PRO: Place the thermometer, Read the temperature, Out of the oven.

  • Place the thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.
  • Read the temperature to make sure that the bird has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
  • Take the turkey Out of the oven, and serve it to your family without worry!

Planning Ahead:

For big Thanksgiving dinners, planning ahead is very important. You can assess your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to plan out your meals and your shopping list. When you are trying to figure out if you can use something you already have at home, keep the FoodKeeper application handy.

The FoodKeeper is a mobile application created by FSIS in partnership with The Food Marketing Institute and Cornell University. The FoodKeeper offers storage advice on more than 400 different food and beverage items and can help you decide what you can keep and what you should throw out. It also offers handy guidance on leftovers, which you’ll probably have a lot of after the big meal. Download the FoodKeeper today on your Android or iOS device.

There Are Also Real People to Talk to:

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, you can call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. The Hotline has been around for 30 years. Last November they received more than 3000 calls mostly about Thanksgiving dinner. You can also chat live with a food safety expert at AskKaren.gov, available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat & Poultry Hotline phone line is available from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET.

Consumers with more food safety questions can visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw, and prepare a turkey. FSIS will provide Thanksgiving food safety information during November on Twitter, @USDAFoodSafety, and on Facebook, at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.

SOURCE: USDA FSIS

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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Meijer unveiled tips to lower the risk from foodborne illness during the holiday meal

Meijer offers tips for food safety during the holidays

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., 2014-11-27 — /EPR Retail News/ — Everyone loves the holiday meal, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six people get sick each year nationwide from foodborne illness. By following a few simple tips this Thanksgiving, you can prevent the holiday meal from biting you back.

“Unfortunately, many people put themselves and their guests at risk for foodborne illness during the holiday meal simply because they aren’t aware of the dangers,” said Tina Miller, healthy living advisor for Meijer. “We can still enjoy our family traditions of preparing and serving a big holiday meal, but with a better understanding of the risks, we can keep everyone safe from having a food hangover.”

Some of the easiest food safety tips include:

Thaw that Turkey Properly
One of the biggest mistakes people make is letting a frozen turkey thaw at room temperature. A frozen turkey should be thawed in the refrigerator, and be sure to plan for 1 day of thawing time for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. It’s OK to thaw a frozen turkey in the sink, but only in cold water that is replaced every 30 minutes.

Don’t let food sit out
Everyone loves to get seconds and thirds, but after a couple of hours at room temperature you may have created a bacteria buffet. Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours; get it into the refrigerator.

Keep foods at safe temperatures
Keep perishable food in the refrigerator until ready to prepare or serve and make sure hot foods are served at safe temperatures. This means 165 degrees for both turkey and the stuffing in the bird. Mashed potatoes and other sides should be no less than 140 degrees.

Don’t keep leftovers around too long
Everyone loves to eat them, but after too long it’s a bad idea. Gravy, stuffing and sides with turkey juices should be eaten or frozen within 24 hours. For other items, including sides and casseroles, 72 hours is the max.

Don’t leave leftover food out for grazing – bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature and can make your leftovers unsafe for eating the next day.  Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving.

Avoid cross contamination
Don’t allow raw meat juices to come into contact with cooked food or other foods that are to be served raw. It’s best to keep utensils separate, and always make sure everyone washes their hands.

“The holidays are a time of laughter and good cheer, but food safety is no laughing matter,” Miller said.

About Meijer
Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. As the inventor of the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive apparel departments, garden centers and electronics offerings. For more information on Meijer, please visit www.meijer.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/meijer and @twitter.com/meijerPR or become a fan atwww.facebook.com/meijer.

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Contact: Joe Hirschmugl, 616-791-3943, Joseph.Hirschmugl@meijer.com